|Spell Type||Combat Enchantment|
|All Fantastic Units of the Death Realm receive +1, +1, and a universal Attack Strength bonus of +1, while those of Life suffer equivalent penalties of -1.|
Darkness is a Common Combat Enchantment of the Death Realm. For 25 it may be cast during battles to both enhance Fantastic Units of the Death Realm and hinder those of Life. This manifests as bonuses of +1, +1, and a +1 to all non-spell Attack Strengths of Death and Undead units; and respectively penalties of the same magnitude for Life ones. The effect lasts until the end of the battle, or until dispelled by the opponent.
- 1 Effects
- 2 Usage
- 3 Acquisition
- 4 Strategy
Death Creature Bonuses
While Darkness is in effect over the battlefield, each and every Fantastic Unit of the Death Realm, including all Undead units, will receive the bonuses outlined below. The spell doesn't care about the unit's allegiance though, so it will affect enemy Death creatures as well as friendly ones.
Attack Strength Bonus
- Darkness grants a universal Attack Strength bonus of +1 that applies to nearly all Conventional Damage attacks that the affected units make, with the exceptions being those that deal spell damage. It improves Melee Strength, / / Ranged Attack Strength, Thrown Attack Strength, Breath Attack Strength, and even Conventional Gaze Attack strength. It does not affect Special Damage attacks (such as Touch Attacks and most actual Gaze effects), Immolation, or any spells cast by these units.
- This increases the amount of dice used during Attack Rolls by one which, in turn, improves the average "raw" damage output of the affected attacks by 0.3 plus 0.1 for every additional +10% To Hit that the unit has over the baseline. Since this applies on a per-attack basis, Multi-Figure Units naturally benefit more from it than Single Figures, as do units that can utilize multiple different Attack Types.
- Darkness improves the Defense of the affected units by +1. As a result, they can use an extra die on their Defense Rolls when trying to mitigate Conventional Damage, which increases their average reduction by 0.3. Although Multi-Figure Units can be said to receive more of a benefit, this is only true if, after a first Defense Roll, an attack still inflicts at least as much damage as they have Hits per figure - the condition for triggering another roll.
- Darkness also improves the Resistance of the affected units by +1. This makes them harder to affect with Unit Curses and most forms of Special Damage. Any unit that reaches 10 thanks to this bonus is now immune to all ill effects that don't impose a Resistance penalty, as they can no longer fail their checks against them.
Life Creature Penalties
Attack Strength Penalty
- Darkness reduces the Attack Strength of nearly all Conventional Damage attacks made by the affected units, with the exceptions being any attacks that deal spell damage. In practice though, for Life units, this will actually only be their Melee Strength, as none of these units have any other conventional Attack Type in the original game. This penalty means that they will use one less die on their Attack Rolls, which translates to an average "raw" damage loss of 0.3 per attack, plus another 0.1 for every +10% that the unit has over the base chance To Hit. This effect is stronger against Unicorns than other Life units, as they are Multi-Figure, and can thus perform multiple attacks with a single combat action.
- Darkness inflicts a Defense penalty of -1 to the affected units. As a result, they will have one less die to use on Defense Rolls when trying to mitigate Conventional Damage. This decreases their damage reduction by an average of 0.3 (or 0.4 if they are under the effect of Prayer of High Prayer).
- Darkness also inflicts a Resistance penalty of -1 on the affected units, which makes them slightly easier to affect with Unit Curses, and more prone to suffering Special Damage.
Darkness vs. True Light
Darkness and True Light are designed to be identical and opposite. Darkness gives bonuses to Death creatures and penalizes those of Life, while True Light exerts the exact same effect the other way around. The two spells are not mutually exclusive on the battlefield. Therefore, it is possible to have both spells affecting the battle simultaneously. Because they are equal and opposite effects, they essentially cancel each other out.
Cloud of Shadow, Eternal Night
There are two overland spells that can also activate a Darkness effect automatically, without having to cast the spell in battle. Cloud of Shadow is a Rare Town Enchantment that triggers this effect every time the enchanted Town comes under siege by an opposing army; while Eternal Night, a Very Rare Global Enchantment, will enshroud any battlefield where the caster's units are engaged, whether they are the offending or defending force.
Neither of these spells indicate their effect in the combat enchantment windows, where Darkness would normally be shown. Instead, they are both listed in the combat information window, invoked by pressing the "Info" button during battle. Even though they are named differently ("Cloud of Darkness" and "Eternal Night" respectively), they do in fact apply the same Darkness effect, to the point of preventing this spell from being re-cast as a Combat Enchantment by the same party.
Darkness may only be cast during combat, for a basic Casting Cost of 25. If the casting is successful, the spell's icon will appear in one of the enchantment windows at the bottom of the screen, underneath the name of the Wizard whose side has cast the spell (left or right depending on whether it is cast by the defending or attacking force). Darkness will then start exerting its effect immediately, and remains active until the end of the battle, or until it is dispelled. Since it does not carry over to the overland map, the spell has no Upkeep Cost.
As a Common Spell of the Death Realm, Darkness 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 Darkness 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 250, although its research is quicker for Wizards possessing the Sage Master Retort, or a bookshelf containing 8 or more.
In addition, Darkness is available as a Hero spell. It is known by Morgana the Witch, although it's worth noting that this feature is bugged in the latest official version of the game, and Darkness is one of the few affected spells. This means that Morgana will likely not be able to actually access this spell unless the player installs one of the unofficial patches. Even then, she can't cast it at her initial level either. She needs to become at least a Captain (level 3), become a Myrmidon (level 2) if one of her Random Abilities is extra Mana, or otherwise equip Magical Items to gain enough Mana to use Darkness.
Darkness is an excellent spell to empower an army made up primarily of Death and/or Undead units. Naturally, the more such units are in an army, the more cost-efficient the spell becomes, especially if many of them are Multi-Figure Units, as they get a noticeably bigger boost to their offensive power. Darkness is also one of only a handful effects capable of enhancing Ranged Magical Attacks, including the Conventional Damage components of Gaze Attacks (hidden or otherwise); and can be used to offset a penalty applied by True Light.
It may be worth noting though, that casting Darkness may be counter-productive when trying to rely on the Life Steal ability to create Undead, particularly with small groups of Wraiths. Although it does increase their survivability, it also shifts their damage ratio towards more Conventional- and less Life Stealing Damage, ultimately reducing the chance of slain enemy units being turned. While this can be partially offset by Black Prayer, if available, to maximize the chance, it is typically better to not cast Darkness unless the units take too much of a beating without it.
Alternatively, Darkness can also be used to hinder an opposing army that is comprised primarily of Life units. Although such stacks are not commonly seen being used by AI Wizards, and there are no Life Rampaging Monsters in the original game either, the spell can occasionally come in handy nonetheless, when trying to clear Encounter Zones featuring Life creatures.