VASSAL Reference Manual
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A Message Format allows module designers to specify the format of text messages that are generated by VASSAL at various times during play. Any word surrounded by $ characters represents a variable whose value will be determined when the message is generated during play. Click on the Insert drop-down menu for a list of available variables. Selecting one of the variables from the menu will insert it at the current cursor position.
When a Message Format is used in conjunction with a particular Game Piece, then the Properties of that GamePiece can be used in the Message Format.