Hero specialty is a characteristic of every hero that typically improves their performance in combat. Specialties can be categorized into four types: spells, creatures, secondary skills and production. Production specialties do not have an effect in combat, but instead generate certain resources (except wood and ore) for the kingdom. Most of the specialties are unique, but there are also specialties common to several heroes. For example, secondary skill Offense is a specialty of Crag Hack and Gundula (and also Corkes in Horn of the Abyss), and the spell Resurrection is a specialty of Alamar and Jeddite.
Additonally, Armageddon's Blade and Shadow of Death expansions introduced Adrienne, Dracon, Gelu and Sir Mullich, who have specialties that cannot be categorized into any of the four above mentioned. Adrienne's specialty is secondary skill Fire Magic, which however does not work similarly to other secondary skill specialties, as it only allows her to start with expert Fire Magic. Dracon has Enchanters and Gelu has Sharpshooters as a specialty. The exception for these two is that Dracon can upgrade Magi and Arch Magi as well as Monks and Zealots into Enchanters, and Gelu can upgrade Archers and Marksmen as well as Wood Elves and Grand Elves into Sharpshooters. Sir Mullich has speed as a specialty, which increases combat speed for all creatures under his command by +2 (Sir Mullich is disabled in Horn of the Abyss by default).
Secondary skill specialties
Basically all secondary skill specialties (e.g. Kyrre with Logistics, Crag Hack with Offense or Neela with Armorer) work in a similar way. They all increase the secondary skill by 5% per level. The formula for the calculation is as follows:
FORMULA: A x (0,05 x B + 1) = BONUS where A = Secondary skill's effect percentage B = Level of the hero EXAMPLE: A = 30% B = 20 30% x (0,05 x 20 + 1) = 30% x (1 + 1) = 60%
Bless & Ice Bolt
Bless is the specialty of Adela. It causes bless to be cast with increased effect, based on hero level compared to the level of the target unit (the bonus is greater when used on weaker units). Adela's bless specialty increases the damage of a unit using the following equation:
- base damage * 0.03 * hero level / unit level
This extra damage is in addition to the bless spell. For example, at level 18 Adela will provide a 54% damage bonus to halberdiers, 27% to marksmen, 18% to royal griffins, 13.5% to crusaders, 10.8% to zealots, 9% to champions, and 7.1% to archangels.
Ice Bolt follows the same algorithm.
Spell specialties work differently for the spells Haste, Prayer, Slayer, Precision, Stone Skin, Bloodlust and Weakness. For those spells, the specialty adds a flat amount to the effect of the spell, based on the level of creature it's being cast on (higher bonus for lower level creatures).
Specialty in the Fortune spell makes it always give +3 luck, regardless of Air Magic expertise.
Every creature from level 1 to 6 in every town, except Gremlins, Centaurs, Pikemen, Pixies, Air Elementals and Medusas, has a hero who specializes in them (Note: Galthran, the only specialist in Skeletons, was removed in Horn of the Abyss). A creature specialty applies to both the upgraded and non-upgraded version of a creature. No heroes specialize in any of the neutral creatures, except Gelu and Dracon, who specialize in Sharpshooters and Enchanters, respectively, although their specialties do not work in the same way as other creature specialties.
A hero's creature specialty affects a creature in three distinct ways.
First, regardless of their level, heroes bestow +1 speed on the creatures they specialize in for as long as these creatures are part of the hero's army. The speed bonus is applied both in combat and on the adventure map.
Second, heroes specializing in low-level creatures can carry deviating starting armies when recruited from taverns. Normally, heroes bring some level 1 creatures, and possibly some level 2 and level 3 creatures, but heroes that specialize in level 1 and level 2 creatures bring only the creatures they specialize in with them. Thus, Shakti may be hired with up to three groups of 30 to 40 Troglodytes, and Valeska with up to three groups of 4 to 7 Archers. Heroes specializing in a level 3 creature carry, as usual, level 1 creatures and possibly some level 3 creatures, but will also carry level 3 creatures instead of any level 2 creatures. Heroes specializing in a level 4 creature have a default starting army, except for Bron, who may bring 4 to 7 basilisks with him, along with the usual 10 to 20 gnolls. Especially, Dracon and Gelu bring only enchanters and sharpshooters, respectively.
Third, a creature specialty affects a creature's attack and defense skill. If heroes specialize in a level 1 creature, the base attack and defense skills of this creature will double gradually over the first 20 hero levels, starting with gains of +1 at level 1. Level 2 creature's attack and defense skill doubles gradually over 40 levels, starting with +1 gains at level 2; level 3 creatures over 60 levels starting at level 3, etc. Thus, when Lorelei reaches level 2, her harpy hags will receive a +1 bonus attack and defense, and their attack and defense will have risen from their initial 6 to 12 by the time she reaches level 41. At level 42 they gain another +1, for 13 attack and defense. Of course, Lorelei's own attack and defense bonuses will also be added as usual.
Formula: (Att|Def)Bonus = RoundUp(RoundDown(HeroLevel/CreatureLevel)*CreatureBase(Att|Def)/20)
The creature specialty from some campaign heroes, such as Mutare and Kilgor, works differently in that they provide a fixed bonus — independent of their hero level — to the creature they specialize in. Moreover, unlike regular heroes, these two heroes specialize in creatures above level 6 (i.e., dragons and behemoths, respectively).
Some heroes' specialties increase a kingdom's daily income. Production of one point of a magical resource per day is unique to one hero per resource (Rissa creates +1 mercury, Calid creates +1 sulfur, Sephinroth creates +1 crystal, and Saurug creates +1 gems). None of the heroes produces the resource needed to recruit the level 7 creature of its native town.
These specialties do not improve with the hero's level, and thus their usefulness may decrease over the course of the game as the impact of other specialties becomes greater. As a direct comparison, a level 1 Lord Haart will only generate a total (excluding any artifacts he may have) income of (1.00 + 1 * 0.05) * 125 = 1.05 * 125 = 131 (rounded) gold per day (for basic Estates), while at level 20 and with expert Estates, he will generate a total (again, excluding artifacts) of (1.00 + 20 * 0.05) * 500 = 2.00 * 500 = 1000 gold. Note: In Horn of the Abyss the income from Estates is twice as high.
This effect remains in place even when the hero in question is garrisoned in a town and no longer counts towards the limit of 8 adventuring heroes. As hiring a hero only costs 2500 gold, this way of collecting magical resources may, depending on the situation, be preferable to building resource silos for the cost of 5000 gold and 5 ore.