For most games it is a good idea to restrict what people can do. In Evennia such restrictions are applied and checked by something called locks. All Evennia entities (Commands, Objects, Scripts, Accounts, Help System, messages and channels) are accessed through locks.

A lock can be thought of as an “access rule” restricting a particular use of an Evennia entity. Whenever another entity wants that kind of access the lock will analyze that entity in different ways to determine if access should be granted or not. Evennia implements a “lockdown” philosophy - all entities are inaccessible unless you explicitly define a lock that allows some or full access.

Let’s take an example: An object has a lock on itself that restricts how people may “delete” that object. Apart from knowing that it restricts deletion, the lock also knows that only players with the specific ID of, say, 34 are allowed to delete it. So whenever a player tries to run delete on the object, the delete command makes sure to check if this player is really allowed to do so. It calls the lock, which in turn checks if the player’s id is 34. Only then will it allow delete to go on with its job.

Working with locks

The in-game command for setting locks on objects is lock:

 > lock obj = <lockstring>

The <lockstring> is a string of a certain form that defines the behaviour of the lock. We will go into more detail on how <lockstring> should look in the next section.

Code-wise, Evennia handles locks through what is usually called locks on all relevant entities. This is a handler that allows you to add, delete and check locks.


One can call locks.check() to perform a lock check, but to hide the underlying implementation all objects also have a convenience function called access. This should preferably be used. In the example below, accessing_obj is the object requesting the ‘delete’ access whereas obj is the object that might get deleted. This is how it would look (and does look) from inside the delete command:

     if not obj.access(accessing_obj, 'delete'):
         accessing_obj.msg("Sorry, you may not delete that.")

Defining locks

Defining a lock (i.e. an access restriction) in Evennia is done by adding simple strings of lock definitions to the object’s locks property using obj.locks.add().

Here are some examples of lock strings (not including the quotes):

     delete:id(34)   # only allow obj #34 to delete
     edit:all()      # let everyone edit
     # only those who are not "very_weak" or are Admins may pick this up
     get: not attr(very_weak) or perm(Admin)

Formally, a lockstring has the following syntax:

     access_type: [NOT] lockfunc1([arg1,..]) [AND|OR] [NOT] lockfunc2([arg1,...]) [...]

where [] marks optional parts. AND, OR and NOT are not case sensitive and excess spaces are ignored. lockfunc1, lockfunc2 etc are special lock functions available to the lock system.

So, a lockstring consists of the type of restriction (the access_type), a colon (:) and then an expression involving function calls that determine what is needed to pass the lock. Each function returns either True or False. AND, OR and NOT work as they do normally in Python. If the total result is True, the lock is passed.

You can create several lock types one after the other by separating them with a semicolon (;) in the lockstring. The string below yields the same result as the previous example:

delete:id(34);edit:all();get: not attr(very_weak) or perm(Admin)

Valid access_types

An access_type, the first part of a lockstring, defines what kind of capability a lock controls, such as “delete” or “edit”. You may in principle name your access_type anything as long as it is unique for the particular object. The name of the access types is not case-sensitive.

If you want to make sure the lock is used however, you should pick access_type names that you (or the default command set) actually checks for, as in the example of delete above that uses the ‘delete’ access_type.

Below are the access_types checked by the default commandset.

  • Commands

    • cmd - this defines who may call this command at all.

  • Objects:

    • control - who is the “owner” of the object. Can set locks, delete it etc. Defaults to the creator of the object.

    • call - who may call Object-commands stored on this Object except for the Object itself. By default, Objects share their Commands with anyone in the same location (e.g. so you can ‘press’ a Button object in the room). For Characters and Mobs (who likely only use those Commands for themselves and don’t want to share them) this should usually be turned off completely, using something like call:false().

    • examine - who may examine this object’s properties.

    • delete - who may delete the object.

    • edit - who may edit properties and attributes of the object.

    • view - if the look command will display/list this object in descriptions and if you will be able to see its description. Note that if you target it specifically by name, the system will still find it, just not be able to look at it. See search lock to completely hide the item.

    • search - this controls if the object can be found with the DefaultObject.search method (usually referred to with caller.search in Commands). This is how to create entirely ‘undetectable’ in-game objects. If not setting this lock explicitly, all objects are assumed searchable.

    • get- who may pick up the object and carry it around.

    • puppet - who may “become” this object and control it as their “character”.

    • attrcreate - who may create new attributes on the object (default True)

  • Characters:

    • Same as for Objects

  • Exits:

    • Same as for Objects

    • traverse - who may pass the exit.

  • Accounts:

    • examine - who may examine the account’s properties.

    • delete - who may delete the account.

    • edit - who may edit the account’s attributes and properties.

    • msg - who may send messages to the account.

    • boot - who may boot the account.

  • Attributes: (only checked by obj.secure_attr)

    • attrread - see/access attribute

    • attredit - change/delete attribute

  • Channels:

    • control - who is administrating the channel. This means the ability to delete the channel, boot listeners etc.

    • send - who may send to the channel.

    • listen - who may subscribe and listen to the channel.

  • HelpEntry:

    • examine - who may view this help entry (usually everyone)

    • edit - who may edit this help entry.

So to take an example, whenever an exit is to be traversed, a lock of the type traverse will be checked. Defining a suitable lock type for an exit object would thus involve a lockstring traverse: <lock functions>.

Custom access_types

As stated above, the access_type part of the lock is simply the ‘name’ or ‘type’ of the lock. The text is an arbitrary string that must be unique for an object. If adding a lock with the same access_type as one that already exists on the object, the new one override the old one.

For example, if you wanted to create a bulletin board system and wanted to restrict who can either read a board or post to a board. You could then define locks such as:


This will create a ‘read’ access type for Characters having the Player permission or above and a ‘post’ access type for those with Admin permissions or above (see below how the perm() lock function works). When it comes time to test these permissions, simply check like this (in this example, the obj may be a board on the bulletin board system and accessing_obj is the player trying to read the board):

     if not obj.access(accessing_obj, 'read'):
         accessing_obj.msg("Sorry, you may not read that.")

Lock functions

A lock function is a normal Python function put in a place Evennia looks for such functions. The modules Evennia looks at is the list settings.LOCK_FUNC_MODULES. All functions in any of those modules will automatically be considered a valid lock function. The default ones are found in evennia/locks/lockfuncs.py and you can start adding your own in mygame/server/conf/lockfuncs.py. You can append the setting to add more module paths. To replace a default lock function, just add your own with the same name.

This is the basic definition of a lock function:

def lockfunc_name(accessing_obj, accessed_obj, *args, **kwargs):
    return True # or False

The accessing object is the object wanting to get access. The accessed object is the object being accessed (the object with the lock). The function always return a boolean determining if the lock is passed or not.

The *args will become the tuple of arguments given to the lockfunc. So for a lockstring "edit:id(3)" (a lockfunc named id), *args in the lockfunc would be (3,) .

The **kwargs dict has one default keyword always provided by Evennia, the access_type, which is a string with the access type being checked for. For the lockstring "edit:id(3)", access_type" would be "edit". This is unused by default Evennia.

Any arguments explicitly given in the lock definition will appear as extra arguments.

# A simple example lock function. Called with e.g. `id(34)`. This is
# defined in, say mygame/server/conf/lockfuncs.py

def id(accessing_obj, accessed_obj, *args, **kwargs):
    if args:
        wanted_id = args[0]
        return accessing_obj.id == wanted_id
    return False

The above could for example be used in a lock function like this:

    # we have `obj` and `owner_object` from before
    obj.locks.add(f"edit: id({owner_object.id})")

We could check if the “edit” lock is passed with something like this:

    # as part of a Command's func() method, for example
    if not obj.access(caller, "edit"):
        caller.msg("You don't have access to edit this!")

In this example, everyone except the caller with the right id will get the error.

(Using the * and ** syntax causes Python to magically put all extra arguments into a list args and all keyword arguments into a dictionary kwargs respectively. If you are unfamiliar with how *args and **kwargs work, see the Python manuals).

Some useful default lockfuncs (see src/locks/lockfuncs.py for more):

  • true()/all() - give access to everyone

  • false()/none()/superuser() - give access to none. Superusers bypass the check entirely and are thus the only ones who will pass this check.

  • perm(perm) - this tries to match a given permission property, on an Account firsthand, on a Character second. See below.

  • perm_above(perm) - like perm but requires a “higher” permission level than the one given.

  • id(num)/dbref(num) - checks so the access_object has a certain dbref/id.

  • attr(attrname) - checks if a certain Attribute exists on accessing_object.

  • attr(attrname, value) - checks so an attribute exists on accessing_object and has the given value.

  • attr_gt(attrname, value) - checks so accessing_object has a value larger (>) than the given value.

  • attr_ge, attr_lt, attr_le, attr_ne - corresponding for >=, <, <= and !=.

  • holds(objid) - checks so the accessing objects contains an object of given name or dbref.

  • inside() - checks so the accessing object is inside the accessed object (the inverse of holds()).

  • pperm(perm), pid(num)/pdbref(num) - same as perm, id/dbref but always looks for permissions and dbrefs of Accounts, not on Characters.

  • serversetting(settingname, value) - Only returns True if Evennia has a given setting or a setting set to a given value.

Checking simple strings

Sometimes you don’t really need to look up a certain lock, you just want to check a lockstring. A common use is inside Commands, in order to check if a user has a certain permission. The lockhandler has a method check_lockstring(accessing_obj, lockstring, bypass_superuser=False) that allows this.

     # inside command definition
     if not self.caller.locks.check_lockstring(self.caller, "dummy:perm(Admin)"):
         self.caller.msg("You must be an Admin or higher to do this!")

Note here that the access_type can be left to a dummy value since this method does not actually do a Lock lookup.

Default locks

Evennia sets up a few basic locks on all new objects and accounts (if we didn’t, noone would have any access to anything from the start). This is all defined in the root Typeclasses of the respective entity, in the hook method basetype_setup() (which you usually don’t want to edit unless you want to change how basic stuff like rooms and exits store their internal variables). This is called once, before at_object_creation, so just put them in the latter method on your child object to change the default. Also creation commands like create changes the locks of objects you create - for example it sets the control lock_type so as to allow you, its creator, to control and delete the object.

More Lock definition examples

examine: attr(eyesight, excellent) or perm(Builders)

You are only allowed to do examine on this object if you have ‘excellent’ eyesight (that is, has an Attribute eyesight with the value excellent defined on yourself) or if you have the “Builders” permission string assigned to you.

open: holds('the green key') or perm(Builder)

This could be called by the open command on a “door” object. The check is passed if you are a Builder or has the right key in your inventory.

cmd: perm(Builders)

Evennia’s command handler looks for a lock of type cmd to determine if a user is allowed to even call upon a particular command or not. When you define a command, this is the kind of lock you must set. See the default command set for lots of examples. If a character/account don’t pass the cmd lock type the command will not even appear in their help list.

cmd: not perm(no_tell)

“Permissions” can also be used to block users or implement highly specific bans. The above example would be be added as a lock string to the tell command. This will allow everyone not having the “permission” no_tell to use the tell command. You could easily give an account the “permission” no_tell to disable their use of this particular command henceforth.

    dbref = caller.id
    lockstring = "control:id(%s);examine:perm(Builders);delete:id(%s) or perm(Admin);get:all()" %
(dbref, dbref)

This is how the create command sets up new objects. In sequence, this permission string sets the owner of this object be the creator (the one running create). Builders may examine the object whereas only Admins and the creator may delete it. Everyone can pick it up.

A complete example of setting locks on an object

Assume we have two objects - one is ourselves (not superuser) and the other is an Object called box.

 > create/drop box
 > desc box = "This is a very big and heavy box."

We want to limit which objects can pick up this heavy box. Let’s say that to do that we require the would-be lifter to to have an attribute strength on themselves, with a value greater than 50. We assign it to ourselves to begin with.

 > set self/strength = 45

Ok, so for testing we made ourselves strong, but not strong enough. Now we need to look at what happens when someone tries to pick up the the box - they use the get command (in the default set). This is defined in evennia/commands/default/general.py. In its code we find this snippet:

    if not obj.access(caller, 'get'):
        if obj.db.get_err_msg:
            caller.msg("You can't get that.")

So the get command looks for a lock with the type get (not so surprising). It also looks for an Attribute on the checked object called get_err_msg in order to return a customized error message. Sounds good! Let’s start by setting that on the box:

 > set box/get_err_msg = You are not strong enough to lift this box.

Next we need to craft a Lock of type get on our box. We want it to only be passed if the accessing object has the attribute strength of the right value. For this we would need to create a lock function that checks if attributes have a value greater than a given value. Luckily there is already such a one included in Evennia (see evennia/locks/lockfuncs.py), called attr_gt.

So the lock string will look like this: get:attr_gt(strength, 50). We put this on the box now:

 lock box = get:attr_gt(strength, 50)

Try to get the object and you should get the message that we are not strong enough. Increase your strength above 50 however and you’ll pick it up no problem. Done! A very heavy box!

If you wanted to set this up in python code, it would look something like this:

 from evennia import create_object

    # create, then set the lock
    box = create_object(None, key="box")
    box.locks.add("get:attr_gt(strength, 50)")

    # or we can assign locks in one go right away
    box = create_object(None, key="box", locks="get:attr_gt(strength, 50)")

    # set the attributes
    box.db.desc = "This is a very big and heavy box."
    box.db.get_err_msg = "You are not strong enough to lift this box."

    # one heavy box, ready to withstand all but the strongest...

On Django’s permission system

Django also implements a comprehensive permission/security system of its own. The reason we don’t use that is because it is app-centric (app in the Django sense). Its permission strings are of the form appname.permstring and it automatically adds three of them for each database model in the app - for the app evennia/object this would be for example ‘object.create’, ‘object.admin’ and ‘object.edit’. This makes a lot of sense for a web application, not so much for a MUD, especially when we try to hide away as much of the underlying architecture as possible.

The django permissions are not completely gone however. We use it for validating passwords during login. It is also used exclusively for managing Evennia’s web-based admin site, which is a graphical front-end for the database of Evennia. You edit and assign such permissions directly from the web interface. It’s stand-alone from the permissions described above.