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I have a small server for my friends and I that does not use Bukkit. I can't seem to figure out how to move the spawn away from the default position. How can I do this?

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you could all sleep in the same bed,that way you will always spawn at the bed – RustyMembers Aug 16 '13 at 21:05

On a purely vanilla server, you can't. There are no built-in tools or commands to move the spawn point. However, without necessarily using mods like Bukkit, you can still use external tools to modify the level.dat file to change the spawn point.

You can use a program like NBTEdit or NBTExplorer (or NEINedit if on a Mac) to open your level.dat file inside your world folder. Then change the values for SpawnX, SpawnY, and SpawnZ to the coordinates you'd like for your new spawn.

Note that moving the spawn will also move the protected block radius, so keep that in mind.

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You could try MCEdit, which allows you to modify spawn points within your level.dat file inside your world folder. Not sure if it has been updated yet.

Also, there is a height cap I believe for MCEdit, which prevents you from setting your spawn points below a certain y coordinate (I believe it's -173).

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Negative 173? As in, 173 blocks below the bottom of the map? As in, below y = -63 where you start taking huge damage from The Void and rapidly die? Somehow I doubt the cap will be a problem for the OP. – Yamikuronue Jan 25 '12 at 13:27
Sea level I believe. Not sure, used it once, and my memory is fuzzy. – waifu Jan 25 '12 at 22:52
Sea level is layer 62 now, with the top of the map layer 127 and the bottom layer 0. A little digging reveals that the game itself won't spawn you below layer 64 (which is where your head is when you're standing on 62); instead, it'll declare the spawn point invalid and spawn you randomly. This manifests most obviously in a new flat map where the whole map is layer y=4; you won't have a set spawn point if you die, you'll just spawn somewhere random because there are no valid spawn locations. (continuing) – Yamikuronue Jan 26 '12 at 14:19
(Continued) In actuality, the algorithm is a little more complex: it'll check level 63 and 64, looking for solid blocks, then count upwards until it finds air. If there's nothing solid at 63 and 64, it moves you elsewhere where it thinks it can find land. – Yamikuronue Jan 26 '12 at 14:20

To set a spawnpoint, do: /spawnpoint (playername), or get CraftBukkit and essentials, and do /setspawn.

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This is basically the same as this answer – Batophobia Aug 16 '13 at 18:19

to set your spawn location write /spawnpoint [name]

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Are you sure? On a vanilla server? – deutschZuid Apr 11 '13 at 8:23
This only sets your own spawnpoint. The spawnpoint of the world in level.dat (and the spawn-protection area) will stay unchanged. – SevenSidedDie Jul 31 '13 at 15:47

protected by agent86 Sep 25 '13 at 18:05

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