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Unit Abilities

Dominions 5 is full of units with a multitude of "Unit abilities" - abilities and characteristics that govern how a particular unit performs on the battlefield and the map. This page will aim to collect a short description of all unit abilities with links to those abilities that require further explanation. Please keep the list in alphabetic order.

Acid Splash

This ability causes anyone striking the unit to take armor piercing acid damage equal to the ability value, which is then reduced by 3 multiplied by the length of the striking weapon. In practice, because the Gelatinous Cube is the only unit in the game to possess this ability and has a value of 12, a weapon length of 4 or higher completely negates the acid splash.

Adept Researcher

An adept researcher is a commander with a flat bonus to their research ability over what would be calculated from their paths alone.

Similarly, inept researcher has a penalty to their calculated research total.

Adept Sacrificer

An adept sacrificer can use more blood slaves per turn for blood sacrifice. The value of this ability is added to the commander's Holy path level for determining the number of slaves they may sacrifice each turn.

Affliction Resistance

This ability reduces a unit's susceptibility to afflictions. This ability gives a chance to negate any afflictions gained by 1/(1+value). For example, a unit with affliction resistance 1 would have half the chance of recieving afflictions, whereas a unit with affliction resistance 99 would have only a 1/100 chance to recieve an affliction when it would normally do so.

Air Shield

The Air Shield ability gives the unit a percent chance to ignore non-area of effect projectile attacks that would otherwise hit it. As well as bow and crossbow projectiles, this also affects projectiles created by spells such as Blade Wind and Iron Blizzard. Projectiles with a described area of greater than "one person" are unaffected, as are those that ignore shields.

There are three sources of Air Shield: Unit tags, spells, and magic items. The unit ability applies Air Shield to the unit who has the tag. The Air Shield spell applies this effect to the caster, while the Arrow Fend spell grants it to all allied units on the entire battlefield. The Amulet of Missile Protection, Robe of Missile Protection, Shield of Valor and Silver Hauberk all grant the wearer an Air Shield that will be in effect at the beginning of any battle.


The alchemist ability provides a percentage increase to gold obtained from the alchemy spells (but has no bonus when alchemising gems to and from astral pearls). Specifically, this ability affects the following spells:

  • Distill Gold
  • Alchemical Transmutation
  • Transmute Fire
  • Earth Gem Alchemy


The ambidextrous ability reduces the penalty from wielding multiple weapons by its value. Ordinarily, this penalty reduces the attack skill of the unit by the sum of its weapons' lengths.


An amphibious unit may enter underwater provinces without penalty.


This tag indicates that a unit is an animal, and is therefore subject to certain spells and effects which specifically affect animals only.

Spells that affect animals only include:

  • Rage of the Cornered Rat
  • Charm Animal
  • Wildness
  • Beast Mastery
  • Gift of the Moon


An aquatic unit cannot leave underwater provinces without an item such as an Amulet of the Fish which enables it to breathe air. If forced onto dry land by any means, it will suffocate and die.


Armor-negating (AN) damage ignores enemy Protection (both natural protection and from armor). It does not ignore elemental resistances or physical resistance.

Shock and poison damage tend to be AN, along with many "psychic" damage effects like Mind Burn.


Armor-piercing damage ignores half of a target's Protection. This stacks multiplicatively with the 20% reduction from piercing damage, so things like crossbows that inflict piercing damage and are AP ignore 60% of protection.

Notably, many sources of fire damage are armor piercing.


A unit which falls asleep has a 10% chance each combat round to wake up, or immediately upon taking non-poison damage. This effect is applied using spells such as Sleep Cloud.


A commander with the assassin ability may attempt to assassinate a random enemy non-hidden commander in the same province. Assassination attempts occur before many other events in the turn order, such as movement. If the assassin is in a province where there is a hostile fort under siege, they must have the Scale Walls ability to be able to assassinate a commander inside.

There is a 50% chance that an assassination will occur at night, which has potential to incur some darkness penalties. Commanders that are assassinated are considered to be surprised and will disregard any scripted orders they are given, including conservative gem usage. The assassin however will carry out their script as normal.

Patience and Bodyguards

A potential assassination victim can have bodyguards, which are units under their command with the Guard Commander order. Each bodyguard has a base 50% chance to be present in the assassination, which is increased by the Bodyguard ability.

Similarly, the value listed on the assassin ability is the patience score, which reduces the odds of any bodyguards being present at an assassination attempt.

Astral Fetters

The astral fetters ability prevents astral travelling spells from taking effect on the field of battle. Spells such as Blink and Returning may still be cast, but have no effect. This ability also negates the effect of a Ring of Returning.

Ritual of Returning will also fail to trigger, however the effect will not be removed from a commander who has it.

This ability is extremely rare, and is possessed only by the three forms of the doom horror Umor - Eater of Gods and the Floating Mind aquatic pretender chassis.

Astral Shield

Any non-mindless unit attacking a unit with an astral shield must make a magic resistance check or become paralyzed.

FIXME How does the MR check work exactly? And how long is the paralysis?


A unit with awe forces attackers to pass a morale check of 10 + the awe value before they can initiate an attack. Units which fail their morale check briefly glow white.

A number of abilities confer awe, but only under certain situations:

  • Animal Awe - effective only vs animals
  • Halt Heretic - effective only vs sacred units, prophets, and pretenders
  • Sun Awe - effective only when the sun is visible

Additionally, some EA Xibalban units have "Theft of the sun awe", which appears to grant awe only while their national global enchantment Theft of the Sun is active. This ability displays no icon, regardless of whether theft of the sun is active or not.

Some items (such as the Crown of Command) grant commanders the ability to lead more troops. Any commander to gain a total of +100 leadership from such items gains awe 1, then another 1 for every 25 points of leadership added over 100.

Banefire Shield

All units that make a successful attack roll against a unit protected by a banefire shield receieve armor piercing damage. Units which are not killed by the damage must then make a magic resistance check or be affected by decay.

FIXME What is the damage type, and is the penetration of the decay always 11?


Animals which are under the command of a beastmaster receieve the listed bonus to their morale.


A berserker must make a morale check every time they take damage, or become berserk.

A unit that has gone berserk will appear to gain a red pulsing glow. It will not cast spells or follow orders: it will instead run forward and attack the nearest enemy. It will not retreat, not even due to the turn timer, and its morale is set to 99. The berserk state is cancelled if its fatigue reaches 100, though this does not prevent a unit berserking again once its fatigue falls. A unit that has gone berserk also gains fatigue per round (in a similar mechanism to exhaustion) equal to the berserk value/2, rounded up.

The value of the berserk ability are the modifiers applied during berserking, which are:

FIXME What is the morale check? Will berserked innate casters continue to cast?

Blood Bond

Blood bond is an effect only available as part of a bless. It causes any damage taken by a unit to be shared equally amongst all units within a 5 square radius.

Whilst this is a powerful effect for distributing damage amongst units, it does have a number of weaknesses. Notably, the damage recieved through blood bond bypasses all resistances and can quickly stack up damage on an otherwise resilient unit such as an immobile pretender. Additionally, very high damage attacks such as Gifts from Heaven become significantly more damaging against several blood bonded units.

Blood Searcher

A blood searcher gains a bonus to their blood path level for the purposes of blood hunting. This bonus does not apply to a unit which has no levels in blood magic to begin with.

Blood Surge

Blood Surge is a bless effect which causes units to gain temporary bonuses upon killing a non inanimate unit. The bonuses are +3 attack skill, +1 defence skill, +3 strength, and +1 reinvigoration.

Blood Vengeance

Blood Vengeance is a bless effect that triggers whenever a unit takes damage, forcing the attacker to take a magic resistance check or take an equal amount of damage. This is very similar to damage reversal, with the only difference being that a failed resistance check does not negate the original damage.

Bringer of Fortune

A bringer of fortune has a percentage chance to generate a good random event in the province where it is located. Multiple units with this ability do stack, though the chances for each to generate an event are rolled independently, allowing for many such events to be generated each turn. This ability allows for bypassing the normal random event limit incurred by "natural" events.

A bringer of misfortune is the negative form of this ability, which acts in much the same way, except that it generates negative events instead.

Cannot Pass Rivers

A unit that cannot pass rivers, as is implied by the name, can never cross river boundaries without using bridges for any reason. This includes when the river is frozen by cold scales.

Carcass Collector

A carcass collector can use a turn to convert the listed number of nature gems into death gems.

Castle Defence Bonus

A unit with a castle defence bonus gains half the listed amount as an addition to its siege defence strength.

Cause Unrest

A unit with the cause unrest ability adds a flat value to their current province's unrest value, regardless of what actions they are taking.

Chaos Power

A unit with chaos power gains bonuses to stats per point of turmoil in the current province, and similarly scaling penalties in order. The affected stats are attack skill, defence skill, strength, and combat speed. Additionally, every 15 points of unrest count as an additional point of turmoil, however the bonuses cannot exceed +3.

Chaos Recruitment

nolink Units with chaos recruitment are the listed amount of gold cheaper per point of turmoil in the province.

Chill Aura

Units with a Chill Aura radiate cold into squares surrounding them. The ability value denotes the base size of the aura, which is increased by cold scales (by how much?) but decreased by heat. The aura inflicts 2 points of armor negating cold fatigue damage three times per turn to anyone in the affected squares. Cold resistance counts double against this damage because it is fatigue damage.

Cold Blooded

A cold blooded unit suffers additional encumbrance penalties depending on temperature scales. This applies in addition to any other penalties the unit experiences due to temperature.

Scale Penalty
Heat scales 1-3 0
Neutral +1
Cold scales 1 +4
Cold scales 2 +7
Cold scales 3 +10

Cold Power

A unit with cold power gains bonuses to stats per point of cold in a province, and similarly scaling penalties in heat. The affected stats are attack skill, defence skill, strength, and combat speed. The magnitude of the bonus or penalty is equal to the ability value multiplied by the number of points of the scale.

Combat Caster

A combat caster has a 50% chance to attempt to cast spells over trying to attack in melee. Additionally, they have a halved chance of being interrupted when casting spells, and do not suffer double armor encumbrance for casting spells.

Corpse Eater

A corpse eater can eat a number of corpses in the current province equal to the ability value per turn. Doing so causes it to gain a permanent increase of 1 maximum hit point per corpse consumed.


A unit that is cursed is more likely to suffer from afflictions due to damage. This effect can only be removed through the great expense of a wish spell.

This is not to be confused with the magic item trait of the same name, which prevents removal of the item after it is given to a commander.

Sources of this effect are Curse, Spirit Curse, Doom, Knife of the Damned, Sword of Aurgelmer, a unit trait called death curse that inflicts curse to the units killer. Notably the indie commander lizard shaman will use this spell liberally so it is recommended to avoid sending valuable units, like your pretender, to lizard provinces.

unit-abilities-not-used.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/15 22:15 by naaira