Public Draft: Adding a Festive Flair to Freeciv: Introducing Santa Claus

Freeciv, the open-source empire-building strategy game, offers a vast canvas for creativity, allowing players and developers to tailor their gaming experience. With the holiday season around the corner, why not add a bit of festive cheer to your game? In this tutorial, we’ll guide you through creating a new unit, Santa Claus, complete with its unique technology, “Holiday Cheer,” and a special building, the “Festival Square.”

Step 1: Conceptualizing Santa Claus

Before diving into the code, let’s conceptualize our Santa Claus unit:

  • Class: Air (Santa travels the world in his magical sleigh)
  • Abilities: Distributes gifts, brings happiness, and possibly provides bonuses to the cities he visits.
  • Requirements: Only appears after discovering the “Holiday Cheer” technology and when the “Festival Square” building is present in the city.
  • Special Flags: “Seasonal” (appears only during specific turns), “Gift Distribution” (unique action performed by Santa).

Step 2: Defining the Santa Claus Unit

  1. Open the units.ruleset File: This file contains the definitions for various units in the game. We will add our Santa Claus unit here.
  2. Add the Santa Claus Definition: Below is the code you need to insert. This code defines Santa’s attributes, such as his class, vision, movement rate, and the special requirements to create him.

    name = _("Santa Claus")
    class = "Air"
    tech_req = "Holiday Cheer"
    building_req = "Festival Square"
    vision_radius_sq = 2
    transport_cap = 1
    hp = 10
    firepower = 1
    move_rate = 3
    attack_strength = 0
    defense_strength = 1
    pop_cost = 0
    shield_cost = 30
    food_cost = 0
    gold_cost = 50
    flags = "Seasonal", "Gift Distribution", "NonMil"

Step 3: Introducing the Holiday Cheer Technology

  1. Open the techs.ruleset File: This file defines the technologies that can be discovered in the game.
  2. Define the Holiday Cheer Technology: This technology is required to bring Santa Claus into your game. Add the following lines to the file:

    name = _("Holiday Cheer")
    req1 = "Writing"
    req2 = "Ceremonial Burial"
    flags = ""
    graphic = "t_holiday_cheer"
    graphic_alt = "-"

Step 4: Constructing the Festival Square

  1. Open the buildings.ruleset File: Buildings in the game are defined in this file.
  2. Add the Festival Square Building: This building is a prerequisite for Santa Claus to visit your city. Here’s how you define it:

    name = _("Festival Square")
    genus = "Improvement"
    tech_req = "Holiday Cheer"
    reqs =
    { "type", "name", "range"
    "Tech", "Holiday Cheer", "Player"
    graphic = "b_festival_square"
    graphic_alt = "-"

Step 5: Implementing Custom Behavior (Advanced)

The flags “Seasonal” and “Gift Distribution” suggest behaviors that are not part of the standard Freeciv game. Implementing these would require modifying the game’s source code, a task for those familiar with programming.

  1. Modify the Game Engine: Locate the part of the code that handles unit actions and turns. Implement custom logic for the “Seasonal” flag to make Santa Claus appear/disappear during specific turns and for the “Gift Distribution” action to define what happens when Santa visits a city.
  2. Test Thoroughly: After making these changes, compile the game and test it thoroughly to ensure that everything works as expected.


Adding Santa Claus to your Freeciv game is a fun way to celebrate the holiday season. It demonstrates the flexibility and extensibility of open-source games. With a bit of coding and creativity, you can bring a unique festive touch to your gaming sessions. Happy modding, and happy holidays!

Remember, these changes require a good understanding of the Freeciv game mechanics and some programming skills for full implementation. Enjoy your festive Freeciv experience!