Elementals, Robots, and Constructs, Oh my! – The Power of the Non-Living Ability

November 8, 2017 Uncategorized  No comments

In Dark Age, the vast majority of units that see the tabletop battlefields are biological organisms that eat, drink, breathe, and live. This means that the vast majority of miniatures in Dark Age are considered to possess the Living special ability. That is, to say, they are normal, living models. Living models basically play by all the normal rules, and will sometimes trigger specific effects based on the fact they are alive.

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If there is a distinction for Living models, than surely something is different for NON-LIVING models. Unsurprisingly, these models possess the Non-Living special ability.

NON-LIVING: This model may never gain Panic Counters. This model’s PS may never be modified by enemy effects.

This ability – possessed by robots/constructs, animated dead things, and elemental beings summoned of energy – is so much more than just its description describes. Looking at this special ability and the various units that possess it a little deeper, this article shows us the finer points about Non-Living units in Dark Age.


The primary reason why Non-Living models stand apart from Living ones is the obvious one – they don’t fear death, because they aren’t truly alive. The ability to utterly avoid Panic Counters and PS stat penalties (only from enemy effects) is amongst the largest benefits being Non-Living has to offer. This immediately means that enemy models that have weapon abilities like Horrible Death or Victimize figured into their design cannot count on them, which is often a large handicap. This is even more noticeable due to so many special abilities that key off a model having a Panic Counter on them like Nightmare Aura and Sadistic. Non-Living models do not need to worry about these enemy abilities at all, something that can figure into counter-tactics quite easily.

There is one sub-faction of Dark Age that takes this immunity and utterly ignores it, however – the Slavers of Chains Barrow (Outcast Sub-Faction). The Slavers’ unique ability, We Have Our Ways, allow them through the application of narrative inventions and sciences, to ignore ANY model’s ability to ignore Panic Counters… even the supreme benefits of being Non-Living!


The Bleed weapon ability is a terrifying way to get around enemies with high armor values or make the most out of the few connections made on a difficult-to-hit target. At the end of every turn there is a single die rolled to determine if a model simply takes damage; no armor check, no defensive rolls, nothing. There is nothing quite like having your lifeblood pour out of a small wound that might not even have cut deep to ruin your day. Non-Living models do not have to worry about having their precious fluids spill out like this – especially when they don’t have any to lose! It means that a player using Non-Living models does not have to think about that part of the round, the Lingering Effects Phase, as a possible threat to their units. It means that Non-Living Units can be used in a straightforward fight, ignoring everything else except that which is currently attacking them.

Like with the immunity to Panic, there is one sub-faction that comes with a workaround for the Non-Livings’ immunity to Bleed; unsurprisingly it comes from the Skarrd Blood Cult. Through their mystical and chemical practices the members of the Blood Cult know how to siphon off whatever internal energies or substances that keeps these beings functioning. Players who use Non-Living models cannot forget that the Blood Cult can make them play by their rules, and that can be jarring when you aren’t used to it.


Living models can die; it is the final condition of the situation known as life. Non-Living models can be “killed” or destroyed, but they can’t rely upon traditional first aid to keep them functioning a little while longer. For Living models, this comes in the form of the Medic special ability. This ability, oddly enough, does not allow the ability to heal damage on a model (that would be Restoration, which works just fine on Non-Living models), but it does allow friendly models that have been gravely injured to remain on the battlefield to be possibly later healed, attract enemies to spend actions to kill them, or other uses.

While there aren’t a lot of instances where Non-Living models can be parts of forces that have Medics, it is important to remember that a Non-Living model is NOT kept alive by a nearby model with the Medic ability. This is one of those instances where it would be more helpful to be alive, but it also means that common force-building habits of ensuring a Medic is on hand is far less important to a player that puts good use of Non-Living models.


Whether it is from some kind of acidic substance, radiation-soaked munitions, or some other nefarious affliction, the Rot weapon ability is a temporary condition that weakens the body to the point of not being able to defend itself from impacts. Rot is a deadly serious effect that doesn’t actually injure a target, but makes it easier for future attacks to do damage by reducing its armor – and it can stack up for greater penalties! Depending on dice rolls during the Lingering Effects Phase, Rot Counters might fall off en masse or they could stick around to cause trouble in future rounds.

Like Bleed, Non-Living models do not have to worry about Rot at all. They shrug off the weakening of their parts without trouble. Unlike Bleed however, there is not currently a way to ignore Non-Living model immunity to being given Rot Counters. Well… not yet anyway…

Non-Living models have a lot going for them, that is true, but keep in mind that most Non-Living models “pay” for that ability by having other weaknesses built in to them or their factions. Higher Malfunction rates, lower AR or PS stats, or even less tactical Assault Groups all pay that cost. Whether found on the C.O.R.E. mechanoid units, the various technomantic constructs of the Kukulkani, or even the summoned elementals of the Dragyri… players should be ready for Non-Living models to be used in their forces or in the forces put against them. We hope this helped work toward that end.

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