Black&White creature training, or,

Watch what he's thinking!

The game keeps track of what your creature believes, and of how good or evil it is. This document explains how. Sometimes your creature changes alignment suddenly, or responds in a peculiar manner. Initially, players put these things down to bugs or quirks in the AI; but as we learn more, we discover that they demonstrate just how deep the AI really is. Everything revolves around a few basic principles (click on each to find out more). Also, have a look at my separate tips to avoid micro-management and a list of recent updates.

These hints and tips have come from many people on the discussion boards, and at the discussion boards, and from the newsgroup. Thanks in particular to Jayden, The Dude HWH, Damon Walden, BloW_Smoke, Samuel Kite, Faithful, Chris Deschamps, Matt K, SoulMuncha, Julian Midgely, Richard Evans, Da Mynci, Veovis05, Koralis, Scarab5, BoriSpider, Arnulf Guenther Jr, Babylondrifter, Anrkey, Raistlin, Troy Walsh, Patrick Aspinall, Cauchy, Dios, LegionXS, Quicksilver, Sean Childs, XPredatorX, GodIslander, Mexicano, BloodySmurf, DeepO, Kuroshio, Mprog, Geasandir, Giolon, Foglmatrx, Nathaniel Newell, FrogInABlender, Merkuri, Phong, Binro, Lios, Cainna, Rowek, Matt Krieger, Patchel, and Koralis. Although I'm thanking them here, I haven't actually asked everyone for permission to use their ideas or (in some cases) their words. If I've used yours and you'd like more credit or changes, please say. This page is maintained by me, Lucian Wischik: if you can contribute any extra hints, please email me. But don't ask for advice, because I won't answer.


The creature has a complex mind! What he decides to do depends on: how ingrained the habit is, how early in life he was punished or rewarded for that habit, how much he watches you and cares about pleasing you, how much attention the villagers pay him, how much attention you pay him, which leash he's on, and whether or not he's stoned on mushrooms!

Your creature will learn by watching. He will watch what you're doing, will try to figure out why you did it, and (if he likes you) will have a go at doing the same thing. Then it's time to punish him if he misunderstood, or reward him if he got it right. You could tie him with the leash of learning to a rock, say, and cast a spell in front of him several times until he gets the idea. (Mind he doesn't pick up the rock and walk away!) He will also learn from watching villagers and other creatures. The learning leash amplifies this learning-by-watching. He could learn to fish by watching you, or by being leashed to a fisherman. He'll even learn the water miracle by being leashed to the throwing pillar on Land 1.

To teach a detailed behaviour, encourage the basics first. Say you want to train your creature to water forests. This is easiest to do when it already knows to cast the water spell! So, have it watch you using the water spell on the leash of learning, and reward it a lot the first time it succeeds. Next train it where it should cast the spell, but rewarding or punishing it a little less this time. Some people suggest starting at 90% reward the first time, then 80% the second, then 70%, gradually getting down to 10%. Finally, at the end, once it has properly learned to water forests, you won't need to reward it any more.

To encourage curiosity in your creature, reward him for paying attention to you and being curious. When you do something and he points at it, reward him a little each time. When he looks at you and points, reward him more. (That way he'll look at you more, so when you're teaching him he won't get distracted and do unwanted things.) A curious creature learns better. To make your creature pay attention to you, click on him to get his attention but don't pet him. Do this several times and he will eventually want to play with you. Now reward him.

The creature will point out what he's interested in after expressing a desire. If "Your creature wants to be playful" and he then points to a beach ball or villager, you can probably figure out what he wants to play with! Reward or punish at this point to say whether it's okay to play with that object. (Sometimes the creature's idea of "playing" won't be the same as a villager's — in a game of "throw the villager", for instance!) If your creature is playful it might make him play physical sport more, and so become strong.

To tell your creature to do what people say, or to disobey them, put your creature on the learning leash and focus on it and you'll be told "your creature wants to be friendly." Punish or reward at this point to tell it whether or not to obey other creatures.

When training your creature, you must provide positive reinforcement. If you only ever punish him when he poos in the wrong place, and if you never praise him when he poos in the right place, then he'll get the idea that pooing is always bad. Result: self-constipating creature! (If he needs to poo, click on the ground where you want him to go, near a tree or a house or a rock; if he gets it right, praise him a little). Remember always to reward as well as punish. Praise can also come from villagers, and even from his stomach if he has just eaten something particularly tasty. (Positive reinforcement works better than punishment in real life as well. And apparently in real life if you comfort a creature when it's scared, this reinforces the fear. But the game doesn't seem to model that.)

Punishment. You must punish as well as reward. For instance, suppose your creature eats a farmer, but instead of punishing him you immediately give him grain as a good alternative and reward him. What he'll learn is to be greedy, and to eat farmers as well as grain. Punishment can also come from his stomach, if the thing he just ate causes him to vomit.

Pay your creature the right amount of attention. If you want a creature that does exactly what you want then, in the first years of his life, you should be watching him almost all the time. Use the C key to focus on him. However, if you punish or praise him after every single action, he will become spoiled — he will just stand there and wait for your approval after every single thing he does, and if you are not forthcoming he will get sullen.

"Beating the hell out of your creature", to 100%, can make him maludjusted, resentful and violent. On the other hand, hard beatings can make him tougher in combat. Think about how much reward and punishment you use, just like in real life — don't always go all the way. The same with praise. If you reward him 10% for an okay action, and 30% for a really good action, he'll do the better one more frequently. But if you praise everything 100% then he won't be able to tell which is better. Be consistent.

If you punish but don't comfort your creature, he will think you're abusing him, and won't like you. To explain that the punishment was for his own benefit, and that you still love him, you must comfort him. Commit senseless acts of random kindness! Maybe when he's playful, or when he just stands there looking dumb, pet him a small amount, maybe 10-20. If you pet him after he has been crying, he will express his emotions more in his face. Also, (unconfirmed), the creature seems to interpret small slaps on the face as punishment, and punches, sweeping-off-feet and body-blows as abuse. Thanks to Samuel Kite for many of the tips on punishment, comfort and curiosity.

If your creature is more frightened than curious, he will not learn well. The nice solution is to teach him to be curious, to outweight the fear. The nasty solution is to punish his fear! When he puts his hand to his mouth and looks afraid, punish him, perhaps to about 70%. Continue to punish him as long as he is afraid of punishment (essentially until he cries). It shouldn't take long: maybe 2-3 times for a tiger, 5 for a monkey, 8-10 for a cow. If you've beaten the cowardice out of him but still want him to like you, remember to comfort him.

The creature views villagers differently: adults and children, men and women, your own villagers and enemy villagers, all differently. To complete your creature's training about all types of villagers will take time. In fact, he can make many sorts of distinctions between different classes of an object. One creature I know will only poo next to a rock that he just threw over his shoulder! But the creature needs to learn the general behaviour before you can fine tune it. To teach him to throw enemy villagers but not your own, you must first teach him about throwing things in general. Then he will perform the action more times in different circumstances and you will praise or punish him accordingly. But if you had punished him on his very first throw, he'd never try any more throwing at all!

Your creature will learn percentages if you have trained it consistently. You can get it to eat only when hunger reaches a certain percentage, to sleep only when its fatigue reaches a certain percentage.

Sometimes a creature will learn deceit. This is a consequence of excessive punishment. Binro explains that his ape likes pork, and the ape also knows that Binro doesn't want him to eat pork. This ape will sneak off to eat when he sees that Binro's attention is elsewhere. If he's caught in the act, he looks nervous or starts to sniffle at the punishment he knows he's going to get.

A creature can be trained to bring items back home. Put him on the learning leash, give him an item, click back home, and he'll take it there. He may look curious and point at the object after he's done. Reward him to say that it's okay to take things home. Subsequently he will express his desire with "Your creature wants to bring something home." By varying the amount of reward you give, you can get him to collect particular types of objects, like rocks.

To make your creature sleep at night, force him back to his pen at dusk with the learning leash, and reward him after he sleeps through the night. "Your creature will sleep more at night." Sometimes he will wake up, look curious, yawn, and go back to sleep. Reward him after this second sleep rather than the first, to reinforce "sleep more at night" rather than just "sleep more when tired." If he fell asleep through exhaustion and you reward him, he will "rest more when exhausted." Some people slap their creatures after they have fully rested, as a way of teaching them not to sleep in. I consider this to be Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

With a brand new creature, not sure to whom it should show kindness and generosity, reward and punishment seems to bring out the creature's natural kindness. For instance, maybe a creature wants to be kind and generous before it has even seen a villager. Reward it and "From now on, your creature will be more kind and generous if it sees people who need help."

When you creature picks up a villager, pets the villager and puts him down, it heals the villager, restoring his L stat to 100%.

You can teach your creature with one-shots. With the learning leash give him a one-shot miracle bubble (not the dispenser). The lightbulb on top of his head shows that he's learning it, even without casting it (although he can also learn by casting). Click on the ground so he drops it. Then repeat. Every now and again the bubble will break and you'll have to find another one. However, your creature will only ever learn the weaker version of the spell (you have to teach him the more powerful versions by casting in front of him), and it doesn't seem to work with some spells. Miracles take a lot of energy out of your creature. Troy Walsh writes: "Some miracles have an annoying habit of automatically simulating that you right-clicked on the miracle and your creature will drop, throw, or eat it.  The wolves miracle is my best example of this.  Sometimes it will click, sometimes it won't... when it doesn't click he will learn and try to cast the miracle." You can also use one-shot training if your demonstrations of the spell don't seem to be having any effect.

When your creature is called "black-hearted", it really only means a little bit bad. The scale goes: Totally evil — nasty — black hearted — on the side of good — decent and true — angelic. But lots of people get too hung up about good and evil. Relax! Be yourself, and let your creature do what comes naturally instead of forcing him to be extremely good or extremely evil! And remember that your are just a minor God: the definitions of good and evil are absolute and are not up to you.

Sometimes your creature doesn't learn what you think you taught him! You'll just have to be careful and patient. Here are two examples:
(Mislearning 1) Suppose you want to train your creature what to eat, so you give him the good yourself and then reward him. But he actually learns to eat whatever you hand him! If you want him to be able to forage for himself you must wait until he picks up the food on his own, and only punish or reward him then. You can speed this up by leashing him to the potential food item, so he's interested in it.
(Mislearning 2) Suppose you want your creature to throw rocks, so you have him watch you do throw a bunch of rocks into the sea. Then he walks over to a rock, picks it up, walks over to the sea-shore, and carefully places the rock in the water!

Sometimes your creature can die of kindness. He might focus so much on being kind and generous that he ignores his own health and eventually collapses. The problem is a serious one: be careful of giving excessive praise for kindness with inadequate praise to feeding and sleeping. To cure a too-kind creature takes effort. Matt K provides this eleven-step programme. (His good gorilla at first got left on his own for nine hours. Result: zero body fat, low energy, scared out of his mind, pathetic, unimpressive, and a mysterious giant pile of food down by the lake. Turns out this gorilla would die, come back to life in his pen, go to the lake, collect some fish, try to take it to the stores, but drop dead part way in exactly the same spot each time! But he's better now.)

It's the thought that counts

A creature's mind is made up of desires, beliefs and actions:

A creature is judged in two ways:

Just as in Christianity, the sin is in the decision to act rather than the act itself. The game seems to make its alignment judgement when the creature chooses, instead of waiting until it acts. If your creature is greedy and decides to eat a human, then that decision itself is bad, even if it never gets around to eating the human. For example, a good creature walks up to a cow, then chooses to pick it up, then its alignment is raised, then it performs the action of picking it up. It walks to the village, then chooses to share the food with the village, then its alignment goes up, then it places the food in the store.

You punish the creature's beliefs, not its actions. You as God must evaluate all its beliefs that preceded the action, and pass judgement on those beliefs. If you're perceptive, and familiar with your creature, and can see from his eyes and manner what he's thinking, then you can even punish or reward him before he acts. (Sometimes he already plans his next action immediately after finishing the current action, so you might not always have enough time).

Punishment will affect multiple beliefs, and so will praise. Maybe he has just eaten some fish and you punish him. This will teach him about several different desires (to ignore hunger, to ignore low energy). It will also teach him several different things about which objects to use with those desires (to use fish less when hungry, to use fish less when low on energy, to use fish that belong to fishermen less). It will also teach him several different things about which actions to perform on those objects (to eat fish less when hungry, to stay away from the shore). And it will also teach him that you aren't a nice God. So there are lots of different lessons he learns. Very confusing! But then just a single message pops up that "your creature will eat less when hungry." This single message only tells you about the dominant lesson he learnt, but he really has learnt all the others as well.

To teach a general action, punish or praise in different situations. Punish him for eating fish when he's hungry; punish him for eating fish when he's full; but also praise him for eating something else when hungry. That way the "don't eat fish" lessons will add up, but the other lessons will cancel out. In the same way, if you want him to water trees, don't just train him ten times in the same place. Instead, train him to water big trees, small trees, trees near the village, and trees far away.

To teach a specific action, teach on the correct object. Suppose you want to teach your creature to cast fireballs at the enemy. If you get him to practice casting fireballs on rocks, then he will learn to cast fireballs at rocks rather than the enemy! When training, you must teach with the actual intended target and not some training dummy.

The leash does not change beliefs, or so it seems. If you have an evil creature, for instance, and leash him compassionately to something, he will perform good acts but won't change his beliefs. It's only with punishment and reward that his beliefs changed. Only with his beliefs changed will he start to make good choices. (And remember that alignment is determined by the choices he makes, not his actions.)

The creature can learn compound actions. Julian Midgely taught his creature to cast a forest miracle and then water it, and to pick up a tree and replant it and water it. Matt Krieger first taught his creature to catch things, then taught him to throw things at the enemy, and put the two lessons together so he caught fireballs and lobbed them right back. Has anyone else managed complicated multi-step creature training? Getting a creature to pick up distant trees and replant them near the village and then water them?

Need vs. greed

It is right and proper for your creature to fulfil its needs. When your white advisor says that you creature is low on energy, then it needs food, so you should feed it. You will be told that he will eat more when low on energy. This is good.

It is bad for your creature merely to fulfil its desires. If your creature is hungry but not actually low on energy, then it is being greedy; if you feed it now, you will be encouraging its greed. You will be told that he will eat more when hungry. This is greedy and bad. It's even more greedy to eat when not hungry! To make your creature not at all greedy, be sure only to let him eat when he is above 80% hunger.

The same applies for water. Drinking when dehydrated fulfils a need; but drinking merely when thirsty is greedy.

Eventually it will say "I am not greedy" under the Creature Mind heading. If your creature is not greedy, then having the creature eat will not cause an alignment drop, so you can leave him foraging overnight, or leave a large supply of food for him in his pen. (As long as you've taught him not to eat villagers!) Of course, your creature can still be angelic and a bit greedy — nobody's perfect...

It is good and un-greedy to share food with the villagers. In this way you can even compensate for greed with kindness! You could teach your creature to share its food with the villagers, for instance, by taking it to the town store.

You must spend time with your creature. Try letting him choose what to do for a day (of game time), only watching and punishing or rewarding. You'll see him feed himself. With time and practice you'll get him eating only when he is above 80% hunger. Do the same for his drinking and sleeping.

If you've been too strict, he may end up not eating at all. Just give him something to eat, and reward him a little bit after he eats it.

If your creature eats when hungry, or eats something tasty, "he will eat more of this." Reducing hunger is in and of itself a reward, especially with something tasty like humans (and fish, apparently).

An underweight creature is an unhealthy creature. Recommend levels of body fat vary from creature to creature, but below 30% is generally bad and the cow seems to do fine with as much as 60%. If he's not fat enough, your creature will grow slower and become hungry faster. If your creature is about to embark upon a long quest, you might wish to feed him a bit more food at the start so he doesn't run out half way through.

Forbidden Fruits

If your creature steals food from the villagers, it is considered evil. This includes grain taken from fields, from fishermen, and from herds being looked after by a shepherd. But apparently it is okay to take fish from the sea as long as no fishermen have claimed it, and to take free-roaming animals. (I'm unsure about the fisherman thing. Maybe on some levels the fishermen claim all the fish in the sea, and on other levels they don't. Sometimes the fishermen keep little piles of fish they've caught — and taking from these piles is stealing, but taking from the sea itself isn't. Maybe it depends on whether the fisherman is a disciple or just a regular villager.) Eating from a field that has not fully ripened will cause your creature to vomit.

For alignment, it's the act of choosing what to eat that's crucial. If your creature chooses to steal, or to eat a human, it is evil. But if you as God take the food yourself and hand it to the creature, then the creature has made no choice, and so commits no evil when he eats it. Any punishment or reward will change his belief about what he should or should not eat. (This is different from what he likes to eat! Tigers like meat!) If your creature is greedy it will decide to eat very frequently, and so alignment changes will be more severe.

For your creature to eat without becoming evil: you can hand-feed him, perhaps by dropping lots of food in his pen. Or teach him to eat only food that he creates. Or teach him to perform enough good acts to outweigh the bad of stealing. It also seems acceptable to eat the remains of dead villagers. (Yuck!)

The message "your creature will now eat more of this" doesn't tell you what you're creature has just eaten! This is intentional micro-management. If you want to train your creature, you have to pay attention to him. But if you're too lazy to keep watch on him, then hit the pause button as soon as you see the message, and go to your creature cave to check his stats and see whether his human-consumption count has gone up. If it has, punish him! You should be able to stop an ape from eating people with fewer than twelve deaths. (The tiger will take more work, since it learns slower and likes meat.)

Meat is fattening, just like in real life! If a young creature eats a fully-grown cow it yields so much food that he'll get fat. Creatures seem capable of deciding how much food they need to fill up if they grab the food themselves.

To train a good predator can be hard — but it's rewarding, because lions and leopards and tigers are loyal and cool and they fight well! This advice comes from BloW_Smoke, whose nine-year-old lion is angelic and has eaten only three villagers in its life. "Predators need very strict training. Immediately after the creature tutorial had ended, I kept my tiger leashed to my hand and started helping out the first town in Land One. After I did an action, I attached the leash to the object so he could do it himself, and kept my hand in place ready to punish or reward. But I never let him get hungry in the first few years. Better for him to get greedy and fat from pigs and cows than to eat a villager. Then, when I was almost sure he wouldn't eat people any more, I set him loose and watched his actions. If ever he touched a human I spanked him to 10% so that he dropped the human immediately; and eating a human got a large punishment. Ever since age 5, even though I give him a human and rub his belly, he refuses to eat! He still eats fish and loses .01 alignment every time, but he does so much good in a day that it doesn't matter. He's now ten years old, and I haven't spanked him more than ten times in total." BloW_Smoke has switched to a lion, who does body-builder poses to impress villagers, and who eats mainly livestock. (The evil of stealing livestock is offset because the lion does lots of generous things, giving food to the villagers.)

I wonder whether some food is just ritually unclean, so that eating it causes an alignment drop no matter the circumstances? Maybe fish? Or maybe it counts as evil for a creature to eat 'unnatural' food, like a cow eating other cows? If you have ideas on these, please email me.

Feed him some trippy mushrooms, pet him, and "your creature will act weird more"! They're the pointy blue ones. Tigers seem especially vulnerable to addiction. Round light purple ones enhance growth. Round red ones with white spots are toxic, for villagers as well as creatures.

Strength, Growth and Combat

Make your creature stronger so he does better in combat. Here's how:

To make your creature grow quickly, make sure he has enough body fat. This is the most important factor. Less than 30% is definitely too little. The cow seems to be happy with 60% fat. Also, have him sleep in his pen at night. Sleep in the pen is more refreshing. If you're too concerned about making him totally evil or totally good, he'll often end up too busy terrorizing or helping, and will neglect his own growth needs. Spell-casting is very draining.

The more your creature fights, the better it will become in combat, keeping up a more steady barrage of attacks. And it will become tougher, more resilient to physical and magical damage. (You can also beat your creature up to make it tougher. But be careful!)

If he's frightened, you could punish his fear. Some people say to put him in lots of fights so he gets used to them; others say to have him fight less. If anyone has any extra ideas, please say!

You can train your creature to throw fireballs back at an enemy god. Matt Krieger offers this training programme. It takes a lot of practice but is very cool once mastered. (1) Using the Learning leash, throw rocks at your creature until he eventually catches them in mid air. When rewarding him, be sure not to pet him in the stomach else he'll eat the rock he just caught! (2) Next, teach him to throw stuff at evil settlements or opposing villagers. (3) Next, put together the two lessons. Make him catch the rock, and then reward him when he throws it again. (4) Once he has mastered rocks, move on to fireballs. He will miss a few, and things will burn. It's best if he already knows the water miracle. (But be sure he knows that you're praising him for watering the fire, not for missing the catch!) It helps if your creature is attentive enough to watch you catch the fireballs in mid air yourself. Apparently, apes and turtles will pick up this trick in a couple of hours. A less intelligent creature will take longer.

The most terrible warrior I have heard of is a creature named Burn. Because he likes to burn things. At the moment he relieves himself on the corpse of his slain foes. Horrible.