|Spell Type||Unit Curse|
|Conventional Damage targeted at a sleeping unit is automatically flagged as Doom Damage, and will inflict the maximum potential damage.|
|As of Master of Magic v1.31, Black Sleep is known to be malfunctioning in at least one way. Please read the Known Bugs section below. The earliest game version that does away with (all of) these, thus in which Black Sleep works fully as intended, is v1.50.|
Black Sleep is a Common Unit Curse of the Death Realm. For 15 it may be cast on an enemy unit during combat. The target gets to make one Resistance roll as a unit, at a penalty of -2, to avert the effect. If it fails, the unit immediately falls asleep, becoming unable to move, attack, or perform any other action - it will not even be able to Counter Attack any more.
In addition, whenever a sleeping unit becomes the target of any Conventional Damage attack, that attack is marked as dealing Doom Damage, and will typically inflict the maximum possible damage that it can on the sleeping unit. Black Sleep lasts until the end of the battle, unless it is dispelled, or the target dies.
Black Sleep will put an enemy unit into a deep slumber from which it cannot wake up. Sleeping units are completely neutralized, and may perform no action whatsoever, even if attacked. They will suffer the maximum amount of damage from any attack directed at them.
While a unit is under the effects of Black Sleep, it may not move, it may not make any Ranged Attack or Melee Attack, and it may not cast spells either. It is effectively useless. Furthermore, the unit will not Counter Attack when engaged by an enemy in melee combat. It can use none of its Special Attacks - not even ones that are supposed to be passive (such as Immolation).
Unless Black Sleep can be removed from the unit somehow, its role in the battle is effectively over. It will only be released from this sleep if its army manages to win or withdraw successfully.
Maximum Damage Edit
Whenever a sleeping unit becomes the target of a Conventional Damage attack, including direct damage spells, that attack is automatically marked to deal Doom Damage in addition to any other Damage Type it may have. This means that all dice of the Attack Roll are automatic hits, and the defender is not allowed to make any Defense Rolls either. This typically results in the target taking the maximum possible amount of damage from the attack, despite any reductive immunities (e.g. Missile Immunity, Fire Immunity) conditional protections (e.g. Bless, Resist Elements), or other defensive effects (e.g. Lucky ability, Invulnerability) it may have.
Doom Damage can still be stopped by nullifying immunities, but it's worth noting here that the only two such effects in the game ( Magic Immunity and Righteousness) will both stop Black Sleep from affecting the unit in the first place. However, they can also both be applied to an already sleeping unit, and in this case can still negate any Conventional spell damage directed at it, which would otherwise also be converted to Doom Damage.
At the same time, Black Sleep does not alter the resolution of Special Damage attacks in any way. That is, the cursed unit is still able to make Resistance rolls as normal, and reduce or avoid this type of damage as it normally would.
- A unit of Halfling Swordsmen makes a Melee Attack against a sleeping Basilisk. There are 8 Swordsmen in the unit, each with a Melee Strength of 2. Normally, each Swordsman's attack would have to make an Attack Roll to see how much "raw" damage it inflicts, and the Basilisk would be able to make separate Defense Rolls against all of them to possibly reduce their damage. As a result, the Swordsmen would be hard-pressed to cause any damage to the beast at all.
- However, because the Basilisk is asleep, the Swordsmen's attacks are automatically marked as dealing Doom Damage. This means that they don't need to roll for them - each die is an automatic hit. Thus, each of their attacks will deliver their full damage potential of 2. In addition, the Basilisk does not get to make Defense Rolls against these attacks, so this damage can't be reduced by it either!
- As a result, the Basilisk will suffer exactly 2 × 8 = 16 points of damage - equal to just over half of its Hit Points!
Units with Death- or Magic Immunity, and units under the Righteousness effect are completely immune to this spell; and so are Charmed Heroes. Furthermore, any unit with a total Resistance score of 12 or more (after other modifiers) will never fail the Resistance roll and thus will not be affected either. The conditional Resistance bonus of the Bless spell also applies against Black Sleep.
Black Sleep may only be cast during combat. It has a base Casting Cost of 15, and must always be targeted at an enemy unit that is not already under the effect of this curse. The target gets exactly one chance (as a unit) to Resist the effect with a default modifier of -2, although if Black Sleep is cast by a Hero, this may be improved by Magical Items bearing a -Spell Save enchantment. The curse will last until the end of the battle, until it is dispelled, or until the target unit is destroyed; whichever occurs first.
As a Common Spell of the Death Realm, Black Sleep may become available to any Wizard who acquires at least 1 Spellbook. With none, the spell can naturally not be learned during the campaign. This is the minimum requirement for it to be traded for, appear in Treasure, or be found in the spoils of victory when conquering the Fortress of a rival Wizard who already knows it.
The base chance for Black Sleep to be researchable (at some point) in the campaign is roughly 30% (with 1 book), which gradually increases with the amount of Death Spellbooks possessed or found during gameplay. With 7 or more, the spell is certain to show up sooner or later, unless acquired from another source. It has a Research Cost of 100, although its research is quicker for Wizards possessing the Sage Master Retort, or a bookshelf containing 8 or more.
If Black Sleep can get through an enemy unit's Resistance, it is effectively a death sentence for that unit. Unless the curse can be removed quickly, the unit is susceptible to being killed by virtually anything that attacks it. For instance, when sleeping, even a Great Drake can be taken out by a bunch of low-level Spearmen within a couple of turns.
Therefore, the best application for Black Sleep would be to render the strongest enemy unit useless. However, because it needs to defeat the target's Resistance score, Black Sleep is often more effective when cast on lower-level units, although there are also a few other effects, particularly that of Black Prayer, that can reduce a unit's Resistance to a sufficiently low level. Heroes with -Spell Save Magical Items can even take this a step further, and target increasingly more resistant creatures with Black Sleep if they can collect and equip more items of this niche.
Once an enemy unit is under the effect of this spell, it may be worth making every effort to destroy it immediately, at least if it is a powerful unit controlled by another Wizard. This is because Black Sleep can be dispelled, and in the official game, even the weakest Dispel Magic will always remove it. Ranged Attacks and direct-damage spells work very well to dispose of such a unit before the opponent's next turn. For the same reason though, if the player's own unit is afflicted with this curse, but survives the turn, its only hope of getting out of the battle alive will often be the removal of Black Sleep.
Known Bugs Edit
When a Flying unit is afflicted with Black Sleep in the official game versions, it becomes targetable for Melee Attacks by ground units. However, when resolving these attacks, the program actually ignores this effect, and will not allow such units to damage the target unless they were already capable of engaging flying creatures by virtue of some other property they possess, such as a short range attack. This oversight is corrected in the Unofficial Patch 1.50.
In addition, as noted above, along with all other Unit Curses, Black Sleep is also a victim of another bug, namely that dispel-type effects skip the usual checks when attempting to remove it, and will thus always automatically succeed in doing so. This error is also fixed in the Unofficial Patch 1.50.