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Ability LifeSteal
Life Steal is one of the many Unit Abilities available in Master of Magic. With this ability, a unit can make a powerful Special Attack that causes damage to the target and simultaneously heals the attacker. The target uses its Icon Resist.png Resistance score to try and avert some or all of this damage. Furthermore, units killed mostly or entirely through this Special Attack may rise as Undead after a battle, now serving the enemy!

In the game, this ability is always labeled simply "Life Steal". On this wiki, the strength of the Life Steal ability is denoted after its name, for example "Life Steal -1", "Life Steal -3" and so forth. This indicates a Icon Resist.png Resistance penalty applied to the target during the attack. If no penalty is applied, the ability is simply labeled "Life Steal". Higher negative numbers are better (e.g. -5 is better than -4).

There are 4 units in the game that possess a Life Steal ability. Three of these are Fantastic Creatures from the Icon Death.pngDeath realm. The other is Ravashack the Necromancer, a valuable Champion.

It is not possible to add Life Steal directly to any other unit, although Heroes may equip Magical Weapons enchanted with Vampiric (Item Power). This is intended to work the same as the Life Steal ability. In practice it is a rather weak imitation of the life-stealing powers of the Fantastic Units possessing this ability. Heroes are Icon SingleFigureUnit.png Single-Figure Units, meaning that they will fire only one Life Stealing Attack; moreover, the attack operates at base strength, applying no penalty to the target's Icon Resist.png Resistance against it.

Description Edit

Powerful creatures capable of channeling Icon Death.pngDeath energy have the ability to literally suck the life out of their opponents - and consume it for their own benefit. Such creatures can be very difficult to stop, as each time they manage to siphon life out of their target, their own life is restored to some degree.

Life Steal also has a secondary, but much more insidious effect. As it sucks the life force out of its target, Life Steal replaces it with Icon Death.pngDeath energy. As a result, a unit that has succumbed to a powerful Life Steal onslaught may return as an "Undead" unit, not living and not dead. It is still quite capable of fighting, is no longer vulnerable to the many dangers that threaten living creatures, and most importantly - is now under the control of the Life Stealing creature that killed it!

Effect Edit

Whenever a Life Stealing unit makes a Melee Attack or Ranged Attack against a target (including when Counter Attacking), it will also deliver a special Touch Attack with the Life Stealing Damage property. This damage type is very complex to explain (and does not always work as intended), but it has three major effects:

  • The target unit must make a Icon Resist.png Resistance roll, and suffers damage based on how badly it failed that roll (if at all).
  • The Life Stealing unit regains some lost Icon Hits.png Hit Points (if any) based on the amount of damage done to the target.
  • If the target is killed primarily by Life Steal damage, it may end up turning into an Undead unit at the end of combat - under the control of the owner of the Life Stealing unit!

The entire process is somewhat shrouded in mystery, and in fact seems to work a little different for each unit possessing Life Steal. Please be advised that any of the information below may be inaccurate.

Resistance Roll and Damage Edit

When a target is struck by a the Life Steal Touch Attack, it must immediately roll a number between 1 and 10.

This number is then compared to the target's Icon Resist.png Resistance score, minus any penalties inflicted by the Life Steal ability. Icon Damage.png Damage is inflicted on the target based on how badly it failed this roll.

Damage = Roll - (Target's Resistance - Modifier)

The Modifier in this formula is the penalty applied by Life Steal, as indicated by the ability's label. For example, a unit with Life Steal -5 gives a Icon Resist.png -5 Resistance penalty to its target for the purposes of this check. Note that in the game, the penalty is not listed after the Life Steal label - it is only listed on this wiki.

For example, imagine a Demon Lord making a Life Steal -5 attack against a target possessing a Resistance score of Icon Resist.png 9. The target's effective resistance, after penalties, is Icon Resist.png 9 - Icon Resist.png 5 = Icon Resist.png 4. If the target rolls a 6, it will receive Icon Damage.png 2 points of Damage (6 - 4 = 2). If the target rolls 7, it will receive Icon Damage.png 3 points of Damage (7 - 4 = 3).

If the rolled number is equal to or lower than the target's modified Icon Resist.png Resistance score, then no damage occurs, and the Life Steal attack ends harmlessly. As a result, if the unit's Resistance score is still Icon Resist.png 10 or higher after applying the modifier, the unit will never fail its roll - and thus will never suffer damage from Life Steal.

Note that the target may not make any Icon Defense.png Defense rolls in order to prevent any of the Icon Damage.png Damage inflicted upon it by Life Steal.

Furthermore, it is important to note that targets possessing Magic Immunity and/or Death Immunity are completely immune to Life Steal, and will suffer no damage from it. If such a target is attacked with Life Steal, no damage occurs and the attack ends immediately without rolling any numbers at all.

Average Damage per Life Steal Roll
Example Resistance
+ Modifier
Demon Lord vs Recruit Wolf Riders Icon Resist.png -1 Icon Damage.png 2 Icon Damage.png 11 Icon Damage.png 6.5 Icon Damage.png 2.87
Death Knights vs. Recruit Wolf Riders Icon Resist.png 0 Icon Damage.png 1 Icon Damage.png 10 Icon Damage.png 5.5 Icon Damage.png 2.87
Wraiths vs Recruit Wolf Riders Icon Resist.png 1 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 9 Icon Damage.png 4.5 Icon Damage.png 2.87
Wraiths vs Regular Wolf Riders Icon Resist.png 2 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 8 Icon Damage.png 3.6 Icon Damage.png 2.73
Demon Lord + Black Prayer vs Behemoth Icon Resist.png 3 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 7 Icon Damage.png 2.8 Icon Damage.png 2.48
Ravashack vs Recruit Wolf Riders Icon Resist.png 4 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 6 Icon Damage.png 2.1 Icon Damage.png 2.17
Demon Lord vs Behemoth Icon Resist.png 5 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 5 Icon Damage.png 1.5 Icon Damage.png 1.80
Wraiths vs Unicorns (Resistance to All) Icon Resist.png 6 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 4 Icon Damage.png 1.0 Icon Damage.png 1.41
Demon Lord vs Behemoth in Nature Node Icon Resist.png 7 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 3 Icon Damage.png 0.6 Icon Damage.png 1.02
Demon Lord vs Behemoth + Bless Icon Resist.png 8 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 2 Icon Damage.png 0.3 Icon Damage.png 0.64
Demon Lord vs Arch Angel (Holy Bonus) Icon Resist.png 9 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 1 Icon Damage.png 0.1 Icon Damage.png 0.30
Demon Lord vs Behemoth + Resist Magic Icon Resist.png 10 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 0.0 Icon Damage.png 0.00

Note: If the standard deviation is bigger than the expected damage, then the amount of dealt damage is very unreliable. If more than one Life Steal roll is made, then the expected damage is proportional to the number of rolls, whereas the standard deviation is proportional to its square root. This can make a Life Steal attack more reliable. Consider the Wraiths vs Icon ExpLevel 0.png Recruit Wolf Riders example above. A fully healed Wraith unit will make 4 rolls, inflicting 4 * Icon Damage.png 4.5 = Icon Damage.png 18 damage in average with a standard deviation of 2 * Icon Damage.png 2.87 = Icon Damage.png 5.74. The Icon Melee Normal.png Melee Attack of a Wraiths Icon Figure.png figure inflicts Icon Damage.png 3.5 damage in average, roughly Icon Damage.png 1.0 is absorbed by the Wolf Riders' Icon Defense.png Shields. So besides the Life Stealing damage, roughly Icon Damage.png 10 normal damage will be done (with a pretty low deviation). It's pretty save to say, that the Life Steal damage will surpass the normal damage, which means that the Wolf Riders will turn Undead. Following the calculation above, most units with Icon Resist.png 8 or less Crosses will be turned undead by using the combination Wraiths + Black Prayer (Icon Resist.png -2). The higher the victim's Icon Defense.png Defense (and the lower the number of Icon Hits.png Hit Points per Icon Figure.png figure), the better the chances!

Self-Healing Edit

Once damage has been inflicted on the target, the Life Stealing unit heals itself by a number of Icon Hits.png Hit Points based on the amount of Icon Damage.png Damage inflicted.

For the most part, it seems that the Life Stealing unit is healed by a number of Icon Hits.png Hit Points equal to the Icon Damage.png Damage caused to the target - however there may be exceptions to this. Tests show that on occasion, the Life Stealing unit will only regain half as many Icon Hits.png Hit Points as the Icon Damage.png Damage it caused. There is currently no explanation or absolute data on this issue.

Note that in most cases, the Life Stealing unit cannot be healed beyond its own Icon Hits.png Maximum Health, regardless of how much damage it caused. Therefore, if the Life Stealing unit is at full health, it does not regain any Icon Hits.png Hit Points. On the other hand, it is demonstrably possible for some units (particularly the Demon Lord) to gain extra Icon Hits.png Hit Points beyond the unit's maximum, in specific circumstances. The mechanism behind this behavior is currently not understood to any sufficient extent. The only known fact is that these extra Icon Hits.png Hit Points behave normally, but will disappear as soon as the battle is over.

Multi-Figure Units Edit

Life-Stealing Icon MultiFigureUnit.png Multi-Figure Units (Wraiths and Death Knights) roll as many life-Stealing attacks as they have figures currently in play. This can result in piles of life-stealing damage. Unlike Ghouls, these creatures actually steal victims' life and are experts at spawning Undead thralls for the wizard without killing themselves in the process.

Here is how Wraiths and Death Knights compare:

  • Wraiths have 4 figures with Life Steal −3. When all figures are present, the unit can therefore roll something in the range of 16-52 life-stealing damage. This is four separate die rolls— it has a mean of 34 and a standard deviation of around ±6 points, so that the value obtained usually (68% of the time) lies somewhere between Icon Damage.png 28 and Icon Damage.png 40. The target's Icon Resist.png Crosses are subtracted from this four times, of course.
  • Death Knights have 4 figures with Life Steal −4. When all figures are present, the unit therefore rolls something in the range of 20-56 life-stealing damage. This has a mean of 38 but the same standard deviation as wraiths of around ±6 points. The value obtained thus (68% of the time) lies somewhere between Icon Damage.png 32 and Icon Damage.png 44. The target's Icon Resist.png Crosses are subtracted from this total four times.

While the Self-Healing mechanism may revive figures on these units if they are injured, the new figures do not contribute any extra attack strength or Life Stealing during that round of melee.

Bonus hitpoints ( Icon Hits Bonus ) per figure may be added, en tandem with the normal restored hitpoints ( Icon Hits ). Exactly how these work, and why they are given to damaged units, is unclear. The best guess from the data below is that they "balance the math" when the game is trying to figure out how to display the top figure's health when it knows the total damage on the unit. Addt'l Life per Figure and Total Unit Dmg are both explicitly stored in the game's memory space.

As an example case, let a severely-damaged unit of Death Knights, with Icon Hits.png 7, of 8, remaining on the last figure, be attacking a unit with Icon Resist.png 0. The Life Steal will be rolled only once, since there is only one Icon Figure.png Death Knight figure, and it will do Icon Damage.png 4 + d10 to the target.

Assuming no melee damage reprisal, the Death Knights' hitpoint changes from the 10 possible Icon Damage.png Damage rolls are:
Top Fig. Hp
Top Fig. Dmg
Unit Dmg

Top Fig. Hp
Top Fig. Dmg
Unit Dmg
Addt'l per Fig.
Icon Hits Bonus
Icon Figure.png 1 Icon Hits.png 7 Icon Damage.png 1 Icon Damage.png 25 5 Icon Figure.png 2 Icon Hits.png 5 Icon Damage.png 4 Icon Damage.png 20 1
6 Icon Figure.png 2 Icon Hits.png 5 Icon Damage.png 3 Icon Damage.png 19 0
7 Icon Figure.png 2 Icon Hits.png 6 Icon Damage.png 2 Icon Damage.png 18 0
8 Icon Figure.png 2 Icon Hits.png 7 Icon Damage.png 1 Icon Damage.png 17 0
9 Icon Figure.png 2 Icon Hits.png 8 Icon Damage.png 0 Icon Damage.png 16 0
10 Icon Figure.png 3 Icon Hits.png 2 Icon Damage.png 7 Icon Damage.png 15 1
11 Icon Figure.png 3 Icon Hits.png 3 Icon Damage.png 6 Icon Damage.png 14 1
12 Icon Figure.png 3 Icon Hits.png 4 Icon Damage.png 5 Icon Damage.png 13 1
13 Icon Figure.png 3 Icon Hits.png 5 Icon Damage.png 4 Icon Damage.png 12 1
14 Icon Figure.png 3 Icon Hits.png 5 Icon Damage.png 3 Icon Damage.png 11 0

To clarify, after rolling 5 Life Stealing Damage, one new Figure emerges on the Death Knight, and its status is this::Icon Hits.png Icon Hits.png Icon Hits.png Icon Hits.png Icon Hits.png Icon Damage.png Icon Damage.png Icon Damage.png Icon Hits Bonus Depleted

Whereas rolling 6, the top figure looks like this.

Icon Hits.png Icon Hits.png Icon Hits.png Icon Hits.png Icon Hits.png Icon Damage.png Icon Damage.png Icon Damage.png

Icon Hits Bonus Bonus Hitpoints are also collected if the life-stealing unit is completely healed. A Icon SingleFigureUnit.png Single-Figure Unit gains one Icon Hits Bonus Bonus HP for each Icon Damage.png Damage Point inflicted by Life Steal. Wraiths and Death Knights gain Icon Damage.png 0.25 * Damage Icon Hits Bonus Bonus HP for each successful Life Steal roll. However, this number is rounded down. This means a Icon Figure.png Figure must steal at least Icon Hits.png 4 HP so that the Wraiths or Death Knights unit gains Icon Hits Bonus 1 HP. If the 4 figures steal Icon Damage.png 3 HP each, then Icon Hits Bonus no HP is added at all. On the other hand, if 3 figures steal Icon Damage.png 4 HP each and the fourth figure Icon Damage.png no HP, then the unit gains Icon Hits Bonus 3 HP. In both examples, Icon Damage.png 12 HP are stolen, but the outcome is different. Note that fully healed Wraiths can only collect Icon Hits Bonus Bonus HP, if the victim's Resistance score doesn't exceed Icon Resist.png 9.

Creating Undead Edit

An extremely important side-effect to the Life Steal attack is its ability to turn its target into an Undead unit, and change its allegiance.

At the end of a battle, the game runs through each and every unit that has been destroyed during that battle. For each unit, it checks whether the following conditions are true:

  1. Is the unit either a Normal Unit or a Fantastic Unit?
  2. Did the majority of the damage caused to this unit come from Life Steal attacks?
  3. Did the unit's army either lose the battle or flee it?
  4. Does the opposing army contain fewer than 9 units?

If all four conditions are true, the unit is returned to the game with full Icon Hits.png Health and Icon Figure.png figures - but with two important changes: It is now an Undead unit, and now permanently belongs to the enemy!

The new Undead unit is identical in most respects to the unit that was destroyed, but the Undead property makes several changes to the unit's behavior:

  • If this is a Normal Unit, it no longer has any Upkeep Cost.
  • If this is a Fantastic Unit, its Upkeep Cost is increased by 50%.
  • The unit gains several immunities to various forms of damage and effects, as common among Icon Death.pngDeath creatures.
  • The unit is permanently associated with the Icon Death.pngDeath realm, and will be affected by spells/effects that only affect Icon Death.pngDeath creatures.
  • The unit no longer heals naturally each turn on the overland map. It cannot be healed by any healing spell.
  • The unit ceases to gain any Icon Experience.png Experience. It does, however, retain any Icon Experience Level.png Experience Level (and related bonuses) it had prior to the change.

(For a complete overview of these changes, read the article about Undead)

As a result, life-stealing units can actually increase the size of their army as they advance, collecting new Undead units created out of enemy armies they encounter. Though these newly-created Undead units are easily lost (since they cannot be healed), they temporarily provide a boost of strength to the army, and can be used as "suicide troops" to slow down the enemy during the next battle.

Enemy Heroes can never be brought back as Undead.

Note: It is currently unknown how the game tracks the types of damage caused to a unit, in order to determine whether Life Steal caused the majority of this damage. Also, it is unknown whether the conditions for creating an Undead unit require that Life Steal cause 50% or more of the unit's health at the start of the battle, or 50% or more of the unit's total Health. Test results are inconclusive and sometimes contradictory.

Units with Default Life Steal Edit

The game contains 4 units which possess the Life Steal ability by default. Three of these are Fantastic Units from the Icon Death.pngDeath realm, while the last is a powerful Champion.

Tactical Wraiths Wraiths - Life Steal -3
Tactical DeathKnights Death Knights - Life Steal -4
Tactical DemonLord Demon Lord - Life Steal -5
Tactical Hero Ravashack Ravashack the Necromancer - Life Steal

The Demon Lord has the strongest Life Steal ability, as it gives the highest penalty to the target's Resistance score (Icon Resist.png -5). Ravashack has the weakest - which gives no penalty at all.

Also note that both the Demon Lord and Ravashack the Necromancer use their Life Steal attack as part of their Ranged Attack as well as their Melee Attack. They can suck the enemy's life-force even at a distance, giving them a massive advantage.

Acquiring Life Steal Edit

There is no known method of adding the Life Steal ability to any unit that does not possess it by default.

However, it is possible to imbue a Magical Item - particularly a Sword, Mace or Axe - with the Vampiric Item Power to add a Life Stealing Damage component to the Hero's Melee Attack. In principle, this is functionally identical to giving the Hero a temporary version of Life Steal.

Reports, published in the FAQ, claim that the Life Stealing Damage delivered by "Vampiric" weapons does not work as intended. For more information, see Life Stealing Damage.

These reports may be a false impression given by the more-discernible fact that the Item Power is weak. Like Ravashack's own Life Steal the "Vampiric" power applies no penalty to enemy Icon Resist.png Resistance, meaning that the hero's conventional damage is likely to outstrip it by far. The enchantment is unlikely, given a limited number of attacks, to steal life from units with decent resistance scores, let alone create Undead units for your army.

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