Modding Essentials


Empire: Total War is, much more than previous Total War titles, made to be modded. Making mods and distributing them is much easier than before thanks to a special file system. I’ll explain the system and give you links to a few essential programs to make modding ETW a pleasant experience.

When you open Steam\steamapps\common\empire total war\data you’ll see a list of .pack files. These contain all files ETW uses. The game recognizes these pack files and reads the game data from them.

User mods an be created by making new packfiles with their type set to “Mod”. The C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\The Creative Assembly\Empire\scripts\user.empire_script.txt file contains a list of mod packfiles that will be loaded on top of the default pack files. The ModManager program (see below) is of huge help here.

Never edit the packfiles that come with the game. Always make a new packfile containing the tables and other items you’ve changed.

If the pack file adds new data it will simply be added to the data the game has already loaded. If the pack file contains new data for an existing unit (e.g. It has an entry for euro_line_infantry, which already exists in main.pack) it will replace the old data.

But why does if have to be a separate pack files? There are three good reasons for this:

  1. It allows you to still play the unmodded game.
  2. Distribution of mods is much easier. You only have to download one pack file and everything is ready to go, while the original files stay untouched.
  3. Because you can set which mods are loaded you can have many mods installed and still be able to play the one you want easily.

Here are three useful tools for modding Empire: Total War. All of these can be downloaded at Empire: Total War modding tools at


To get files and tables from the default pack files you can use PackFileManager (PFM). This program can extract files from pack files, create new mod pack files and import previously extracted files.

PackFileManager can also edit data stored in most tables in the database, but there’s an easier way to do this.


DBEditor (DBE) is a program made to help you edit Empire’s database containing almost all data in the game, from unit stats to the goods traded from the four trade theatres to the effects of the different government types.

When the program starts you will be shown a screen where you can select the mod pack files that should be loaded. The program will then load both the vanilla tables and the mod ones. In the drop down box at the top you can select the table you want to view.

Making new additions to the existing tables without overwriting the original files is easy. Simply find the table you want, then go to File » New table_name Table. The editor will ask you whether you want to create a new pack file for this or use an existing mod pack file. You must give the table a different name if you want it to be added on top of the Vanilla table. If you want the Vanilla version not to be used use the same name.

Using DBE rather than PFM also has the advantage of protecting you from accidently changing vanilla files as by default they’re protected against editing.


ModManager (MM) is a small, but very useful program. It allows you to select what mods should be loaded and modifies the user.empire_script.txt files accordingly. It also allows you to save different profiles and you can directly launch ETW from it. Tip: change your ETW shortcut to launch MM instead so you’ll never forget to select the mod you want to play.