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> BTW, is there a tool that can parse a Lua script to spot syntax errors?

luac -p

But that [w vs. "w"] issue is not a syntax error.

> As this script is called by a C program, when there's a bug, it's
> difficult to tell if the error is compile-time or run-time, as it just
> returns non-zero.

Use luaL_loadfile+lua_pcall instead of luaL_dofile.