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Morale is a unit stat which reflects a unit's willingness to endure adversity in the service of your nation.

The main role of morale is to stop units from routing when things go badly for them. Various situations (like a squad taking casualties or a single unit taking wounds) require a squad/unit to pass a morale test or run from combat; high morale makes them more likely to fight on.

Morale is used for some other things too. The most common are:

  • Units need to pass a morale check to attack a defender with awe
  • Morale is used to complete an attack despite a defender's repel attempt
  • Units that do retreat from combat are more likely to retreat to a friendly province if they have high morale
  • Commanders use morale to resist seduction attempts
  • Berserkers must make a morale check when damaged to go berserk

Morale becomes substantially more important in the middle and late game because of the prevalence of Wailing Winds, an extraordinarily powerful spell that forces constant morale checks by all enemy units to avoid routing. Players will often stack morale items like Dragon Helm on mages to keep them in the fight, and group troops under commanders with high inspirational bonuses to increase their morale.

A few units are impossible to frighten; this is represented by special morale values.

  • Berserk units have morale 99. They will never retreat and will fight on even without a leader.
  • Mindless units and many other undead (such as Mound King) have morale 50; they will never retreat from battle, but will dissolve if left without leadership
  • Some especially fearless units have morale 30. They will retreat from battle from a "HP rout", but pass all morale tests. Examples:
    • All pretenders and prophets
    • Most demons, like Devil and Ozelotl
    • Most immortals, like, Wraith Lord and Lich
    • Elemental Royalty and a few other lategame summons

A few other exceptions: Morale 30 units will not retreat from defending a fort storm (they are smart enough to know that they will die if they do). Immortals, as a special case, will not retreat even if their army takes overwhelming casualties ("HP rout"); they know they'll just reform a few months later, so fighting a valiant last stand is at most a temporary inconvenience for them.

Effects on Morale

These effects are valid for commanders and units:

  • The fire bless effect Superior Morale adds one morale per point spent.
  • Being blessed gives all non-independents +1 morale.
  • Sermon of Courage or Fanaticism give +1 morale.
  • Experience stars give +1 each.
  • Being exposed to Fear aura or spells with fear effects temporarily lowers morale. This seems to recover by 3 approximately every 5000 ticks. No single or combination of fear effects may lower morale by more than 5, however.
  • Battle fright lowers morale by 5.
  • Blood Rain lowers the morale of all units on the battlefield by 4.
  • Dark Skies lowers morale of enemies in the caster's dominion by 1 per point of the caster's dominion in the province.
  • Being in friendly dominion increases morale by 1. Conversely, being in hostile dominion lowers morale by 1.
  • Being in the home province gives a morale bonus of 1.


In addition to the general modifiers, several magic items will boost a commander's morale.

  • For 5 gems: Dragon Helmet (+5), Fire Plate (+2), and Ring of the Warrior (+2). The Shroud of the Battle Saint will Bless a commander even if not sacred, which adds at least +1 morale.
  • For 10 gems: Bear Claw Talisman (+2), Green Dragon Scale Mail (+4), Red Dragon Scale Mail (+4), Blue Dragon Scale Mail (+4), Fire Brand (+2), and The Black Heart (+2).
  • A handful of artifacts also boost their wearer's morale.
  • The Slave Collar (+20) provides a huge morale bonus … at the cost of being a cursed item that applies the Feeblemind affliction.
  • Some items, such as the Berserker Pelt or Lychantropos' Amulet will make a commander berserk at the start of a battle, while the Flesh Eater and Hell Sword give the Berserker trait, causing the commander to go berserk when they first take damage.


In addition to the general modifiers, units are affected by:

  • Flat modifiers displayed in the army setup menu. These are based on the leading commander's leadership value and number of squads, as well as mixing undead, demons or living creatures.
  • All units under the command of an inspirational leader.
  • Animals under the command of a beastmaster commander.
  • Slaves under the command of an taskmaster leader.
  • Being in sparse line or skirmish formations (for example due to being Undisciplined) without the skirmisher trait lowers morale by 1.
  • If a squad's commander dies, their morale bonus (or penalty) is removed during combat, decreasing (or increasing) the squad's morale.
  • Starvation lowers morale by 4.


Every round of battle, the game checks for units which must make a morale check. This affects units that have1):

  • Suffered heavy losses since its last morale check, and overall casualties are at 20%. "Heavy losses" is defined as one "wound" per two squad members. A "wound" in this instance is at least one or more hitpoints of damage that lowers a unit to below 80% of its maximum hitpoints.
  • The squad has less than five units in it, and has taken damage this round.
  • The unit has been subjected to a spell or effect causing fear, such as the spell Terrify or the effect of a Fear aura.
  • The entire army has taken 50% or more of its starting health in casualties. If there was only one creature and its retinue, the retinue is not considered for this.

Practically, taking a morale check makes a roll for whole squad as follows:

  • Morale roll: (Squads average morale + squad survivor bonus2)) + DRN
  • Fear roll: 143) + DRN

The squad survivor bonus is a value of 0-5 that reflects the number of units in the squad that have been killed. If the fear roll exceeds (but not ties) the morale roll, the squad or commander routs.

Furthermore, if an army has lost 75% of its starting health, it will rout automatically. Province defense units count as a quarter of their total HP for the purpose of this calculation. Combat summons from spells like Horde of Skeletons count as part of the army's current health (but not its starting health), and thus can prevent an army from routing after losing far more than 75% of its units.

Manual, page 83
The survivor squad bonus affects commanders aswell as squads, as shown by the debug log
The manual states 13 for this value, but the debug log clearly shows this should be 14 and that tied rolls do not cause a rout
morale.txt · Last modified: 2023/05/02 06:19 by cactusowl