|As of Master of Magic v1.31, Evil Presence 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 Evil Presence works fully as intended, is v1.50.|
|Spell Type||Town Curse|
|Cancels the Power production and pacifying effect of religious Town Buildings in the target Town.|
According to its description, Evil Presence is supposed to negate the Power output of all religious buildings in the Town (Shrine, Temple, Parthenon, and Cathedral). However, in the latest official game version, it negates these structure's pacifying effects instead. The Official Strategy Guide claims that the spell is meant to do both, but the in-game text only implies the former.
Evil Presence cancels the effects of religious Town Buildings in the City it is cast on, apart from their unlocking the production of certain units or other buildings. These structures have two different effects, and so does this Town Curse. However, as mentioned above, the arguably more prominent of the effects, the removal of Power generation, is unfortunately bugged, and not working at all in the latest official game version.
Loss of Power Output Edit
Religious buildings, when built, normally produce +1, +2, +3 and +4, respectively. While Evil Presence is in effect, they all produce exactly 0 each. By tallying the values, one can deduce that casting this spell on a Town containing all 4 buildings will cause it to lose a total of 10 from its output. As a result, the Town's controlling Wizard receives up to 10 less every turn. Depending on their Power distribution choices, this could translate into loss of Mana production, slower Research speed, and/or slower Spell Skill increase. The effect is even more profound on Life Wizards possessing the Divine Power Retort.
With more and more Evil Presence spells targeted at various Towns belonging to said Wizard, they will gradually begin to stagnate in their progress towards becoming a mightier Wizard - giving an advantage to all of their rivals, whose magical attributes keep steadily increasing in the meantime.
Loss of Unrest Reduction Edit
The second effect of religious buildings is their Unrest reduction. While not mentioned in the spell's ingame description, the Official Strategy Guide clearly states that Evil Presence also cancels these "pacifying" effects. Each of the four Town Buldings affected would normally reduce the Rebel count in the Town by a cumulative 1. This is negated entirely by Evil Presence, possibly causing up to 4 of the affected Town's citizens to turn into Rebels. They will then stop contributing to the City's resource incomes, including taxes, while still requiring the allocation of Farmers to provide Food for them.
Depending on the amount of the cancelled Unrest reduction, the Town can lose a significant portion of its Production output as a result. Although this may be partially offset by building non-religious structures that reduce Unrest, these are not available to all of the Races. Creating units to "police" the City instead places a drain its Food and possibly Gold income, typically also resulting in a sizeable net loss of economical contribution.
Death Book Wizards Edit
Evil Presence may only be cast on the overland map, for the base Casting Cost of 100. It must be targeted at an enemy Town that is not already suffering this curse. If Spell Animations are enabled, successfully casting the spell opens a window with the cityscape view of the target Town. A few moments later, the image of a glowing-eyed demon silhouette will appear over each religious Town Building, indicating that it is now under the effect of this Town Curse. Evil Presence will also appear in the city enchantment window when opening the City Screen for the Town, with its name printed in the banner-color of the Wizard that cast the spell.
To keep Evil Presence in play, the spending of an Upkeep Cost of 4 is required at the beginning of each of its caster's turn. If the player does not have enough Mana income or reserves to pay for this upkeep, the curse will instantly dissipate from the target City. It may also be removed manually by the caster, by left-clicking on its name on the City Screen of this Town.
As a Rare Spell of the Death Realm, Evil Presence may become available to any Wizard who acquires at least 2 Spellbooks. With any less, the spell can 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 Evil Presence to be Researchable (at some point) in the campaign is roughly 10% (with 2 books), which gradually increases with the amount of Death Spellbooks possessed or found during gameplay. With 10 or more, the spell is certain to show up sooner or later, unless acquired from another source. It has a Research Cost of 1,040, although its research is quicker for Wizards possessing the Sage Master Retort, or a bookshelf containing 8 or more.
Evil Presence may also be selected as a starting spell by players who allocate all of of their picks into Death books when creating their Wizard. In this case, it will be available for casting as soon as the game begins.
In the official game, Evil Presence is only marginally useful. Casting it by itself on an AI player's Towns will generally not have a noticeable impact. However, this naturally increases with the amount of religious buildings present in the Town. Evil Presence can also greatly enhance the effects of other Town Curses that reduce resource output or Population, or create Unrest on their own. Thus, it is best used in combination with other Death magics. This also makes it more likely that the owner of the Town will spend time and Mana trying to remove the curses, instead of casting other spells.
On the other hand, Evil Presence may be much stronger against a human player relying on Town Buildings to quell Unrest, as opposed to using garrisons. Life Wizards can, of course, counter this effect entirely with Stream of Life; or remove and prevent it with Consecration. Gaia's Blessing can also offer some additional Unrest reduction for Nature Wizards, while players specializing in Sorcery should find this curse fairly easy to remove with Disenchant True. Thus, it poses the greatest threat to Chaos Wizards, who can only dispel it with the basic Disenchant Area spell; or otherwise have to recruit more police forces, or lower their taxes to compensate.
Known Bugs Edit
As stated already, Evil Presence is completely lacking the effect described by its in-game tooltip in the latest official game version. In addition, the effect the spell does have is completely missing from the context-based help, although it is mentioned in the Official Strategy Guide. Furthermore, if a Cathedral is present in the affected Town, the game will also fail to display the Evil Presence visual on this specific building, even though it is still affected by the spell.
The Unofficial Patch 1.50 fixes both the negation of Power production, and the missing graphics on Cathedrals.