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Chain Lethality Enabler

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A character or unit, as a result because of their own personal skills or something else unique to them, is rewarded for a kill (or some equivalent) on an enemy, such that they can more easily make kills on other enemies in the fight. This trope is most commonly seen in (but not exclusive to) video games.

Depending on the power of the bonus, this might be granted for a kill on any random mook, or be restricted to tougher enemies or bosses. This can be done in many ways (and many combinations thereof) in games, depending on the genre of the game, with some (non-exhaustive) examples being:

  • The unit might get a temporary buff to offensive stats to make them more lethal against remaining enemies.
  • The unit might get reductions or complete resets on cooldowns. Depending on the design, this might be a cooldown reduction/refresh after scoring a kill with a particular skill (with refunds most commonly, but not always, being for the lethal skill itself), a refund on the cooldown of a particular ability for scoring a kill with anything, or likewise.
  • Enabling the unit to act more quickly after getting a kill. This features in both real-time and turn-based games, though the means differ - in real-time games, a unit can get a significant buff to their movement speed; in turn-based games, a unit may move further up the Visual Initiative Queue (for games which use Action Initiative), or may receive an Attack Speed Buff or immediately get to take another action (both in Action Initiative games and other turn-based games.)
  • An ability which was single-target before hits multiple enemies if it kills the target. This may possibly cause an attack to hit a group multiple times if enemies killed by the now area-of-effect attack can themselves cause the attack to further strike again. Alternatively, or in addition, the ability may apply a Damage-Increasing Debuff or a crowd control effect to nearby enemies if it gets a kill.
  • In turn-based games, a character might immediately cast an Area of Effect ability again if they score a kill with it (with the recast potentially being weaker), or may have a separate damaging ability which they immediately cast after scoring a kill.

Units with these follow-up abilities are naturally suited for cleaning up fights, and can spiral out of control in a fight if left unchecked; however, they often have significant vulnerabilities to balance this. Some of these (again, non-exhaustive) include:

  • The unit often (but not always) has the resilience of wet toilet paper, requiring precision to avoid getting blown up and leaving little leeway for mistakes.
  • If the unit is bulky instead of a Fragile Speedster, they may be significantly slower (in whatever way the game incorporates speed), making them more reliant on their team to enable them to get kills without the enemy just disengaging.
  • They may have long cooldowns, which makes the unit dead weight, if not a complete sitting duck, for a significant period of time if they expend cooldowns without getting a kill and a reset.
  • The buffs in their kit may have short durations, neutering their effectiveness if they can be denied a kill in the meantime (such as by disabling them with crowd control, or giving defensive buffs, barriers, or healing to their target.)
  • Their mobility or defensive/evasive capabilities may be tied to their offense, leaving the unit no way of exiting an unfavorable fight, or leaving them impotent for some time if they escape.
  • There may be a soft or hard limit on how often they can get these bonuses within a specific timespan, or an ability which provides them with such capabilities may have a cooldown that doesn't naturally reset.

Because of the nature of this trope, characters who are designed around these mechanics tend to be especially sensitive to the Unstable Equilibrium - being strong enough to get one kill can allow them to easily get many more, and they can shut opposition out of a match (for games like MOBAs) or, through, securing kills and hogging XP, become a One-Man Army or something close (for more traditional RPGs.) However, when these characters aren't able to get a kill to begin with, they tend to be a liability on the battlefield that drags the rest of the team down or ends up getting put on the bench.

This trope does not include the following:

  • Any reward for a kill that doesn't directly and immediately facilitate follow-up. A unit healing after getting a kill would not fall under this trope (unless it allows them to Cast from Hit Points).
  • Kill rewards in a way that's due to general game mechanics instead of anything specific about a unit. A unit who gets mana after a kill so they can cast more offensive abilities, in a game where characters generally do not, would fit this trope. A unit getting mana for a kill in a game where everyone does would not, unless said unit, for example, had their mana refilled to the max when most characters don't even get enough for one spell.
  • A unit being rewarded for offense in general. A unit simply getting faster and stronger attacks with a buff that stacks with each attack they make doesn't match the particular playstyle that falls under this trope.

May overlap with but doesn't necessarily involve Kill Streak. A particular type of Aggressive Play Incentive.


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    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood introduced the "kill streak" mechanic to the series, wherein after killing an enemy via a counterattack in group combat but before the execution animation finishes, the player can select the next one with the thumbstick and press Attack to immediately execute that enemy, too, and so on until all enemies are dead or Ezio takes a hit himself. This mechanic was introduced specifically to offer a more aggressive alternative to the turtling player tactics encouraged by the previous two games because of how much more powerful the counterattacks were, compared to regular strikes.note 
  • The Binding of Isaac: In the original game, Bloody Lust gives Isaac a stacking damage bonus for the current room each time he kills an enemy, stacking up to 10 times. It's Samson's starting item. In Rebirth, Samson and Bloody Lust were reworked, and the effect was moved to a new item called Lusty Blood instead.
  • BioShock Infinite:
    • When Booker wears the Gear called Rising Bloodlust, each time he kills an opponent (up to five) the damage he does increases. The effect ends 10 seconds after Booker's last kill.
    • When Booker wears the Overkill Gear, killing an enemy with excessive force stuns nearby enemies, which makes it easier for Booker to kill them too.
  • The various playable characters in Borderlands all have some form of "Kill Skills" that activates on kills, granting them buffs that stay active as long as they can continue getting kills. They include both offensive buffs like increased damage orfire rate and more survivability-focused ones like Regenerating Health or movement speed.
  • Brutal Orchestra: Nowak's passive ability gives him "Focus" if he delivers the finishing blow to an enemy, which has a chance to either give a flat damage increase or double his damage if the enemy's health exceeds his, but is lost if Nowak takes any form of damage.
  • Cossacks: the Polish campaign from the Art of War expansion of this Real-Time Strategy game has a few levels with a leader unit (who must stay alive). Said unit looks like a plain Winged Hussar, but the more he kills enemies, the more his attack and defense points increase.
  • Cyberpunk 2077:
    • The Cold Blood skill is built around this trope, granting V buffs whenever they neutralize a target. It starts off underwhelming: the base ability only increases movement speed by 2%, lasts for ten seconds, and doesn't stack. However, almost all of the perks in the skilltree either grant additional buffs, makes those buffs stronger, increase the duration of Cold blood, or increase the number of times Cold Blood can stack.
    • Late-game Cold Blood lasts twice as long, stacks five times, buffs armor, flat out ignores up to 25% of all damage, grants immunity to all elemental damage, grants an Attack Speed Buff, increases attack damage, increases crit chance, etc.
    • Investing in Cold Blood requires high Cool, which also grants V access to the Stealth skill. Several Stealth perks allow them to instantly neutralize enemies from stealth, ensuring that they can always enter a fight with Cold Blood already active.
  • Enforced with Tempo from Crypt Of The Necrodancer. He can One-Hit Kill every enemy in the game, but if he goes 16 steps without killing anything, he dies. The counter can also be reset by picking up new items or eating food, however.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II:
    • Characters with the "Executioner" talent gain two Action Points for dealing a killing blow, though they can only gain the benefit once per combat turn.
    • The Warfare skill "Challenge" lets a character mark an enemy; if the enemy dies within three combat turns, the challenger gains a damage buff, as well as regaining Hit Points and Armor Points. It's inverted if the enemy survives: the challenger is debuffed and the enemy is healed.
    • The Set Bonus for the Devourer's Armour includes an ability that automatically marks a random enemy at the beginning of each combat and clears all the wearer's active cooldowns when that enemy is killed.
  • One of the Runes in Doom Eternal increases the Doom Slayer's speed whenever he does a Glory Kill.
  • Dota 2:
    • If Axe kills an enemy hero with his Culling Blade (which is a guaranteed One-Hit Kill if the enemy is below a certain HP threshold), the spell does not go on cooldown, and Axe, as well as all his nearby allies, gain a large movement speed boost. This can let him chain several Culling Blades if there are multiple low-HP enemies grouped together, like near the end of a big team fight.
    • Bloodseeker's Thirst heals him for a portion of the enemy's max health whenever a nearby unit dies. Considering how he's very much a Glass Cannon and Fragile Speedster, this healing can make him much harder to take down as long as he and his team keep scoring kills during a fight.
    • Necrophos has a passive ability which restores his health and mana whenever he kills a unit. If he scores a kill on a hero, that regeneration is multiplied several times, giving him the HP to stay in the fight and the mana to keep spamming his Death Pulse, a low-cooldown ability which can both heal allies and damage enemies.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 5: NoLegs' Three Strike Combos will gain an additional strike if they kill their current target.
  • In Epic Seven:
    • Vildred's Dancing Blade skill passively grants him 20% Combat Readiness whenever an enemy dies - if he was the one he scored the killing blow, he additionally gets a 2-turn attack increase buff, and follows up with a Dancing Blade attack if he scored the kill with one of his active abilities.
    • Vivian's Thunder God's Cry skill hits all enemies. The ability will recast each time it kills at least one enemy (albeit with reduced damage each time), for a max of 3 total casts in one turn.
  • In Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight, the eponymous Fafnir Knight's Overkill skill is a single-target attack, but will attack all enemies if the initial target dies.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3 introduces the Grim Reaper's Sprint perk, which immediately restores all Action Points upon killing a target in V.A.T.S, allowing the player to immediately use V.A.T.S again without having to deal with the recharge period.
    • Fallout: New Vegas nerfs Grim Reaper's Sprint somewhat by having it only restore 20 AP on a successful V.A.T.S kill rather than all of it.
    • Fallout 4 changes Grim Reaper's Sprint again so that it initially has a 15% chance of restoring all AP on a successful V.A.T.S kill, but can be upgraded up to a 35% chance.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The Ninja's PVP Limit Break, Seiton Tenchu, grants a status effect allowing it to be immediately reused if the target is KO'd by or within 5 seconds of it. It's also a One-Hit Kill against anyone with less than half health, making it good for mopping up wounded enemy teams.
  • In Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening introduces the Galeforce ability, which allows a unit to immediately move and attack again after scoring a kill on its turn - this could be activated once per turn.
    • Fire Emblem Fates also has Galeforce similarly to the above, but it was nerfed to only work when the unit gets a kill during an unsupported attack. In addition, Hana's personal ability, Fearsome Blow, inflicts damage to enemies adjacent to her equal to 20% of her max HP after she kills an enemy.
  • Hades: Ares' Battle Rage boon gives a power boost to the next Attack or Special after slaying a foe.
  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • Greymane's heroic Go For The Throat leaps on an enemy hero for massive damage. If it scores a kill, he can recast the ability within a short window. If there are a bunch of low-health enemies, it's the perfect ability to clean up an entire team.
    • Li-Ming's trait, Critical Mass, resets all of her cooldowns (basic and heroic) whenever she gets a takedown or assist. She's also a burst mage capable of killing most squishy heroes in one sequence of abilities... and you can see how that usually goes.
    • Downplayed with Kerrigan's Ravage. It lets her leap on an enemy, and refreshes its cooldown if it gets the killing blow. Against heroes, this almost never happens since the damage is low and its her main engage tool. Against minions however, it lets her jump between a weakened wave and clear the whole lane by itself.
    • Genji (see Overwatch below) is a playable hero here with the same Swift Strike effect. He can also pick up a level 20 talent that lets kills with Dragonblade refresh Swift Strike's cooldown as well.
  • A feature of many characters in League of Legends. Some of the more significant ones include:
    • Darius' ultimate ability, Noxian Guillotine, is a hard-hitting single-target ability that can immediately be recast within 20 seconds if it kills an enemy champion, or if the target dies dies almost immediately after it hits. (At max rank, the ability resets its cooldown instead of having a recast window.) Though its damage scales with Hemorrhage stacks, he has a passive ability which allows him to instantly apply max Hemorrhage stacks with a single attack to foes if he either gets a kill with Noxian Guillotine, or maxes out the stacks on an enemy by normal means - this means that, though it may take him awhile to get the first foe to a suitable threshold, further foes can be endangered much more quickly.
    • Katarina reduces all of her cooldowns by 15 seconds whenever she kills an enemy champion, or whenever a champion she damaged within the last 3 seconds dies, allowing her to teleport to and burst down more foes, and possibly even get a second cast of her ultimate within a few seconds if she scores more kills.
    • Master Yi reduces the remaining cooldown of all of his abilities by 70% whenever he scores a kill on an enemy champion. His ultimate ability, Highlander, grants him greatly increased movement, an Attack Speed Buff, and immunity to slows, and its duration is extended by an additional 7 seconds (its base duration) for every champion kill he scores while it is active.
    • Pyke's ultimate, Death from Below, can be cast again within 20 seconds if an enemy champion is either killed by it or dies while in its area of effect. It also grants Pyke and the last ally to assist in the kill of champions within it area of effect an item called, 'Your Cut', which grants the gold the ally would've obtained if they got the kill themselves, excluding the bounty bonus.
    • Bel'veth provides an interesting twist on the ability trope; rather than an execute like prior champs, her ultimate, Endless Banquet, can only be activated if she targets "Void Coral" which is dropped on champion takedowns and causes a blast dealing damage based on missing health, making it a pseudo-Finishing Move of sorts. This unique condition means she can cast it at no personal cost as long as she's helped kill someone, potentially having an infinite team-wiping tool. It does have traits keeping it in check though: if she blows up one piece of void coral, any nearby void coral will be destroyed, keeping her from spamming the ult after a multi kill. And obviously there's the downside of having no activatable ult outside of it, meaning she needs to rely on the fundamentals of her normal abilities to get ahead.
  • Overwatch: The cyborg ninja Genji has Swift Strike — a slicing dash that deals 50 damage to any opponent(s) within its linear range. If an opponent whom Genji has damaged in any way dies (even if Genji himself didn't score the final blow), his Swift Strike's cooldown is immediately reset so that he can do another. Thus, with excellent timing and opportunity on low-health enemies, he can chain multiple Swift Strikes in a row.
  • Path of Exile:
    • Contagion is an area of effect spell that deals minor damage over time, and if a creature dies while under its effect casts itself again centered on that creature. But if the creature was also affected by Essence Drain, a small, slow-moving projectile that inflicts a large amount of damage over time to what it hits, the re-cast Contagion will carry the remaining effect of the Essence Drain with it, effectively turning into an area of effect spell that deals massive damage to all enemies near the dead one. Given sufficient damage, duration of skills, area of effect increases for Contagion, and density of enemies, a single enemy dying from the combination of these two spells can wipe out everything for multiple screens.
    • This is the role of all the many variants on "enemies you kill explode, dealing [a percentage] of their maximum health as [damage type]". The player will typically ensure the Exile has enough bonuses to that damage type for it to kill any comparable enemies nearby.
    • Wearing the notorious belt Headhunter causes the Exile to steal the special abilities of rare enemies they kill for 30 seconds, granting powerful passive bonuses that make it easier to take down the second and steal its abilities too, resulting in the Exile becoming incredibly lethal and hard to kill so long as there are enough rare enemies.
  • The Pokémon video games have a few of these:
    • In Pokémon Red and Blue, possibly due to a bug or oversight, the move Hyper Beam, which normally requires a turn to recharge after being used, does not incur this turn when it causes an enemy Pokémon to faint.
    • The ability Moxie, introduced in Pokémon Black and White, increases a Pokémon's attack by 1 stage whenever the holder defeats another Pokémon via directly inflicting damage with one of their moves.
    • The move Fell Stinger, introduced in Pokémon X and Y, gives a large attack boost to the user if it defeats an enemy Pokémon. In Pokémon Sun and Moon, the move was buffed, going from 30 to 50 base power, and going from a +2 stage boost to Attack to a +3 stage boost.
    • The ability Soul-Heart (a signature ability of Magearna), introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon, increases the Pokémon's Special Attack whenever a Pokémon in the battle faints - unlike Moxie, however, the holder of the ability does not have to be the one to knock out the opponent with a damaging move. This means that the enemy falling to poison or another status effect will trigger Soul-Heart; Pokémon fainting in multi battles will also grant the bonus, even if Magearna didn't defeat the fainted Pokémon, or it's an ally who falls.
    • The ability Beast Boost, an ability exclusive to Ultra Beasts introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon, increases the holder's highest stat by 1 stage whenever they knock out another Pokémon.
    • The abilities Chilling Neigh and Grim Neigh, the signature abilities of Spectrier and Glastrier respectively, increase the holder's Attack or Special Attack respectively whenever they defeat another Pokémon. The ability As One, held by Ice Rider or Shadow Rider Calyrex, has the effect of Unnerve in addition to one of these abilities, based on which Pokémon is used to establish Calyrex's form.
    • Pokémon Conquest includes the abilities Celebrate, which allows the holder to move again after defeating an enemy, and Moxie, which increases the holder's attack for a turn after defeating an enemy.
  • The Bandit from Risk of Rain and Risk of Rain 2 has this with his ultimate ability, Lights Out, where he fires a bullet from his revolver for big damage that refreshes the cooldown of all his abilities when it kills something.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Jedi Shadow has a Flash Step ability that normally has a long cooldown. But with the right perks, it can power-up your attacks and cancel the cooldown if the target dies quickly enough, making it ideal to mow through weak mooks who are too spread out for normal AoE damage.
  • SteamWorld Heist: Sally's Kill Shot skill grants her one additional shot, provided she kills an enemy that turn.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • In Arena mode, whoever gets the first kill in a round gets the Crit Boost status, granting them guaranteed Critical Hits on all their attacks for five seconds, and letting them more easily kill more enemies for a short while.
    • If the Heavy eliminates an enemy with the Killing Gloves of Boxing, he gets a Crit Boost for five seconds.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: The capstone Thaumaturgy power Blood Boil deals hefty damage to the target, or, if it's enough for a One-Hit Kill, makes them explode for Area of Effect damage.
  • Vermintide II:
    • The Ranger Veteran automatically creates an ammunition pickup whenever a Special is killed. Similarly, the Huntsman and Bounty Hunter both have optional Talents that grant them bonus ammunition for killing Specials and Elites, respectively.
    • One of the Bounty Hunter's optional Talents causes his melee kills to reset the cooldown for a passive ability that grants him a guaranteed ranged Critical Hit.
    • One of the Pyromancer's optional Talents negates her Overheating for 10 seconds after killing a Special, allowing limitless Playing with Fire during that time.
    • One of the Waystalker's optional Talents gives her a free Multishot within 10 seconds of a melee kill.
    • One of the Shade's capstone Talents prolongs her career ability's undetectability whenever she uses it to kill an Elite. Since Patrols are large formations of Elites, this can let her efficiently Back Stab through an entire group.
  • Warcraft III: The Firelord's Incineration ability causes the target to take increasing damage over time if continuously attacked, and if killed while under its effect, will deal damage to units around it.
  • Warframe: Valkyr's augment "Eternal War" extends the duration of her Attack Speed Buff "Warcry" whenever she gets a melee kill.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown: Snipers can unlock a high-level ability "In the Zone", which lets them attack again after killing an enemy. Given how good they are at hitting things and how much damage they do, they can clear entire rooms of enemies in a single turn.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 3rd and 3.5 Edition:
      • Creatures with the "Cleave" combat feat can make an immediate follow-up attack after dropping an enemy. The "Great Cleave" feat lets them use the ability an unlimited number of times per combat round. Some Prestige Classes possess the "Supreme Cleave" ability, which makes Cleave easier to use by letting you move between attacks (and amusingly, allows for long-distance travel by placing a line of weak enemies along your path).
      • The Necromancy spell Death Knell allows the caster to touch a dying enemy and kill them instantly, then gain a Status Buff with a duration based on the enemy's Character Level.
      • The Awesome, but Impractical metamagic feat "Fell Animate" modifies a damage-dealing spell so that slain enemies immediately rise as zombies under the spellcaster's control.
      • Tome of Battle: The Tiger Claw discipline (themed around Dual Wielding and fighting like a beast) features some abilities along these lines. From its stances, Prey on the Weak allows you to make a free attack every time an enemy dies within 10ft, while Blood in the Water grants you a stacking Status Buff each time you inflict a Critical Hit. From its maneuvers, Fountain of Blood lets you finish off an enemy whom you'd just brought near death, then generates an aura of fear which becomes harder to resist depending on the number of enemies you've killed that turn.
    • 5th Edition:
      • If the damage from the "Finger of Death" Necromancy spell kills a humanoid target, it automatically animates them as a zombie under the spellcaster's command.
      • Characters with the feat "Great Weapon Master" who drop an enemy to zero Hit Points with a heavy weapon attack (or land a Critical Hit) may make a bonus attack that turn.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Blowfly Infestation puts a -1/-1 counter on target creature if a creature with that kind of counter dies. This also triggers if a creature dies from having enough -1/-1 counters to reach 0 or lower toughness, so you can trigger a chain reaction that erases an army of 1-toughness creatures off a single -1/-1 counter.
    • Massacre Girl gives everyone else -1/-1 when she enters the battlefield, and for the rest of the turn, she repeats this process whenever a creature dies. If there are creatures with consecutive ascending toughness starting from 1, Massacre Girl can singlehandedly wipe them all out through a chain reaction.
  • Pathfinder 1st Edition, being a Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 derivative, inherits some of its examples while having others of its own:
    • "Cleaving Finish" functions much like the 3.5 version of Cleave, granting a bonus attack after dropping an enemy to zero HP once per turn. (While the Cleave feat exists, it's changed to a Special Attack that hits two enemies.)
    • Clean Blade, a mythic ability, allows a creature to cut down one foe and then flick the blood in another foe's face, sickening or blinding them.
    • Deadly Juggernaut is a spell that makes you cumulatively stronger and tougher each time you drop a (reasonably threatening) opponent with a melee attack.
    • The Reaper's Coterie spell enchants a weapon to gain a small cumulative damage boost each time it's used to drop a living creature.
    • Gunslingers, Swashbucklers and Hungry Ghost Monks refill their resource pools (Grit, Panache and Ki respectively) by landing either a killing blow or Critical Hit with their class's weapon of choice. The third-party Harbinger class (part of a Spiritual Successor to 3.5's Tome of Battle) can likewise refresh their maneuvers by slaying an opponent they Claimed on a previous turn.
    • The Dreadful Carnage feat allows a character who drops a foe to make a free check to apply a fear-based debuff to all enemies.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay:
    • A miracle of Tor, God of Thunder, fires a lightning bolt that arcs to a new enemy if it kills its target, continuing until a target survives or no enemies remain in range.
    • 4th edition has an optional rule, "Deathblow", where a character who deals a One-Hit Kill in melee combat can step into the enemy's space and make a free follow-up attack against another target.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: A select number of Monsters have an effect which enables them to battle twice in one turn, as long as they attack and destroy an opposing monster first. Some examples include Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, which was one of the most powerful cards of its format; and Crimson Nova, which was the signature card of the film's antagonist.

    Non-Game Examples 
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: Lillie's Semblance is essentially the same as the ability Beast Boost, allowing her to get stronger and stonger as she defeats more and more enemies. However, characters note that fighting through masses of faceless mooks will quickly lead to diminishing returns. She needs to face skilled opponents to keep making noticeable gains.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry learns to wield fire and ice magic as a Yin-Yang Bomb in Changes, freezing one enemy solid, using the stolen heat energy to incinerate another one, and then freezing their corpse to burn the next enemy in an escalating chain reaction.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: The Soul Devourer skill allows its user to absorb the essence of anyone they kill with a melee attack, then imbue their collected essences into another strike. And every time it's charged up and discharged, the user's essence capacity increases. Essence-infused attacks can become extremely powerful — on the level of one-shot killing bosses — making it a very potent skill. Carl receives it from a top-tier "Celestial" loot box.
  • Mother of Learning: Most soul magic is frowned upon by the Triumvirate Church, but for the purposes of fighting undead, they do permit the use of a fire vortex spell that absorbs the bound souls from any undead it kills and uses them to empower itself. Thus, when it's used on a horde, instead of fading over time, it just keeps getting stronger the more of them it consumes. (It does release the souls when it finally runs out of targets and dissipates, which is another reason it's considered to be acceptable.)
  • The Scholomance: