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While Dominions doesn't really have characters as such, it does have nations with individual characteristics. The writeups of their histories and characteristics presented here are meant to reflect their presentation as of the most recent installment of the series to date.
A Dominions 4-introduced Early Age-only nation.
Ermor, New Faith (Early Age)
Ermor, Ashen Empire / Sceleria, The Reformed Empire (Middle Age)
Lemuria, Soul Gates (Late Age)Ermor at its height was the most powerful empire in the world of Dominions. Well before the time of the Early Age start, they had already established themselves as a center of power and wealth through trade, conquest, and diplomacy, although for the most part they were content to allow their subjects to continue according to their own customs. That changed with the coming of a prophet who foretold the coming of a "Reawakening God." This prophet and his Reawakening God became the focus of a popular and hugely-influential religion known as the "New Faith," which displaced and outlawed the old beliefs of Ermor and compelled them to conquer most of the known world in the name of their deity.However, as their power grew, the most powerful mages in the Empire grew proud. Having studied the dark arts of Death Magic under the Sauromancers of C'tis, they began performing secret and reckless rituals to increase their power, heedless of the dangers they were exposing themselves and the world to. Other magical factions foresaw the coming doom of Ermor and united behind the Emperor's twin brother — known also as the Apostate Emperor in Imperial records — in an effort to force these secret rituals to end. In the ensuing civil war, the Augurs and Bishops of the Empire attempted one last ritual in the Holy City of Eldregate to put an end to the conflict once and for all.The ritual went horribly wrong. Ermor and Eldregate went from the prosperous hubs of a mighty empire to a blasted, lifeless wasteland haunted by the reanimated dead and ruled by an ancient, evil god who sought to conquer the world once more and transform it into a realm of the dead. As the rest of the Empire's outlying provinces declared themselves independent kingdoms and petty empires, the Apostate Emperor claimed the Imperial mantle for himself and founded a new seat of the Empire at Sceleria, while the Thaumaturgs (the mage faction that had followed him into rebellion) practiced their own much stricter form of Death Magic to supplement Sceleria's own legions with undead in the name of keeping the malignant revenants of old Ermor at bay.Eventually the Ashen Empire was defeated and destroyed by its neighbors, though not without great sacrifices. With Ermor's defeat, the need for undead guardians disappeared, and the Thaumaturgs turned to other pursuits. The Scelerian populace had grown used to the benefits provided by cheap undead menial labor, however, and felt that by turning their attentions inward the Thaumaturgs were abandoning the common people for their own gain. As unrest and strife grew, the Thaumaturgs decided to put an end to the matter once and for all by opening a permanent portal to the Underworld so that the dead could cross over of their own volition... and all Hell broke loose once again; the dead indeed returned, not as servants, but as spectral lords and conquerors. Due to their failure to learn from their ancestors' hubris, the Empire of Sceleria was transformed into Lemuria, yet another realm of the lifeless and unliving seeking to spread their dominion across the entire world, this time in the form of incorporeal wraiths.
Marignon, Fiery Justice (Middle Age)
Marignon, Conquerors of the Sea (Late Age)The empire of Ermor at its height covered vast stretches of territory within its borders, incorporating several diverse cultures and creeds. Officially, all of these were meant to be subsumed within and replaced by the all-encompassing New Faith of the empire; realistically, however, the empire's very extent made this rather infeasible to properly enforce. The province of Marignon, the former homeland of the Marverni, absorbed a considerable amount of Ermorian cultural and religious influence but maintained a great deal of local autonomy, with day-to-day administration and tax collection duties falling to a local aristocracy of landowners. Another unique development was the House of Fiery Justice, a religious body that developed independently in Marignon and eventually grew powerful enough to take the reins of power in Marignon once the Fall of Ermor effectively obliterated the imperial government. As the true nature of the threat of the Ashen Empire that now ruled Ermor's old heartland became clear, the House of Fiery Justice tightened its control on Marignon's society; holy armies spearheaded by the knightly Order of the Sacred Chalice were sanctioned to drive back and destroy the undead menace, while on the home front inquisitors and witch hunters rooted out heathens, heretics, and profane magic users that might have threatened to corrupt the populace's staunch faith.Unfortunately, faith and steel alone proved unable to stem the tide of the Ashen Empire's undead hordes. Faced with the choice between destruction and compromise, the leadership of Marignon chose the latter, forging a pact with The Legions of Hell to save them. Bolstered by infernal forces, Marignon's armies finally managed to destroy the Ashen Empire and its undead hordes. This victory, however, came at a terrible price — as part of the pact, Marignon must now provide the Infernal Lords with a steady flow of blood sacrifices. As a consequence, the witch hunters have since been disbanded, and the Inquisition has assumed responsibility for regulating the sacrifices in question according to stringent controls and ensuring Marignon's faithful are not seduced into outright devil worship; only time will tell if they are only forestalling the inevitable. Meanwhile, Marignon's new Naval Academy has been developing new shipbuilding and navigation techniques and training admirals to use them, opening up vast new lands on the other side of the ocean as potential sources of new wealth, converts, and sacrifices.
Marverni, Time of Druids (Early Age)One of the nations that existed in the world's Early Age was a loose alliance of tribes, united by a common culture and druidic heritage. The Marverni, chiefest of these tribes, gave their name to the nation as a whole and were renowned as the inventors of chainmail; other notable tribes included the horse-riding Eponi, the aggressive Carnutes, the proud Ambibates, and the peace-loving, stargazing Sequani. Marverni warriors placed a great value on personal prowess; their war chiefs were selected from among the most accomplished of their warriors and fought alongside their men in battle, inspiring their followers with feats of skill and strength. At home, the duties of leadership were split between the vergobrets (civil magistrates) and a variety of astrologers and priests of different disciplines, chief among whom were the druids who presided over all major religious ceremonies (including the occasional human sacrifice, though this did not seem to be a habitual practice). The most sacred animal among the Marverni was the Great Boar, which resided in the Sacred Forest of Carnutes; the mightiest of these creatures was said to bring good luck to those who followed it.At some point during the period before the dawn of the Middle Age, the Marverni tribes were conquered by the legions of the ascendant empire of Ermor. Ermorian customs and practices had a great influence on local culture, which after Ermor's collapse gave rise to the new nation of Marignon.
Pythium, Emerald Empire (Middle Age)
Pythium, Serpent Cult (Late Age)After the conquest of Pythia by Ermor, the region was integrated into the Empire and heavily influenced by imperial culture. However, they continued to maintain their own distinctive institutions, namely hydra-taming and the communion of the Theurgs, an order of astral mage-priests. Forewarned of the coming cataclysm, the Theurgs led the Pythians to break away from the Empire of Ermor just in time to witness its utter ruin. Backed by the military might of the old legionary tradition (augmented with distinctive Hydras and Serpent Cataphracts) and the faith and astral magic of the Theurgs, the Emerald Empire of Pythium struggled to restore a semblance of order and unity to the fractured provinces of Ermor's old empire, or at least those within its reach.As it expanded, however, the character of the Emerald Empire changed. With the collapse of Ermor and its all-encompassing Imperial Cult, a number of mystery cults flourished as the inhabitants struggled to find some sort of anchor in the surrounding chaos. One cult in particular, the Serpent Cult, grew in prominence as C'tissian Sauromancers, invited by the Emperors of Pythium, found great success in beating back the undead hordes of Ermor's Ashen Empire. In time, the Serpent Cult has come to displace the Theurgs almost entirely as the state religion, using the Serpent Cataphracts and their own order of assassins to maintain their dominance and suppress rival mystery cults (though the Theurgs are still tolerated out of respect for Pythium's old traditions). Additionally, the need for permanent garrisons to secure the empire's overstretched frontiers has split the old legionary military into two separate institutions — the locally recruited, trained, and equipped Limitanei responsible for holding and maintaining the border forts, and the professional, elite Comitatenses who are trained to swiftly march from frontier to frontier to deal with serious invasions or to conquer new territories.
Sauromatia, Amazon Queens (Early Age)The Sauromatians were an Early Age confederacy of nomadic tribes particularly noted for being ruled by an upper class of women warriors. Although both men and women fought on the battlefield, most positions of power and influence were occupied by women in almost all the major tribes, a hallmark of the influence of the Amazons who were integrated into the confederacy early on. Like early Ulm, the Sauromatians tended to value strength of arms over the mystical arts; as a result, most of their sorceresses and priestesses were also accomplished warriors, while divination and tending the dead were frequently left to those too old or weak to fight.The one notable exception to this tendency towards female leadership was found among the tribe of the Androphags, who dwelled in the Swamps of Pythia. They rejected women leaders entirely, instead being ruled by powerful Witch Kings who possessed uncannily long lifespans and an affinity for sorcerous practices involving blood and death. While all Sauromatian tribes flayed the skins of their enemies — with prominent warriors displaying their own collected skins as a sort of macabre battle standard in the field — the Androphags took things one gruesome step further by additionally consuming their flesh, meaning they were often abhorred by their fellow tribes. Additionally, with horses scarce in the swamps, the Androphags turned to taming the fierce serpentine creatures that populated their home, including the fearsome and resilient Pythian Hydra, known for its many heads and regenerative powers.The Sauromatians would eventually be conquered by the Empire of Ermor. Even after their integration, however, aspects of Sauromatian culture survived to influence the Empire of Pythium which would arise after Ermor's cataclysmic collapse.
Tir na n'Og/Eriu
T'ien Ch'i, Spring and Autumn Period (Early Age)
T'ien Ch'i, Imperial Bureaucracy (Middle Age)
T'ien Ch'i, Barbarian Kings (Late Age)In the Early Age, known locally as the "Spring and Autumn Period," the realm of T'ien Ch'i was divided among a multitude of feudal states. Each of these states was led by proud warlords who often competed for prestige and power on the battlefield. Personal honor was highly valued in these conflicts, to the point that the warlords would often hold duels of honor against one another to decide battles rather than simply rely on their own army to drive their opponents from the field. The society as a whole, however, was united by a set of common cultural traditions including ancestor worship (with each village worth its salt having a shaman to consult with the ancestors) and the Way of the Five Elements, whose students learned to practice diverse forms of elemental magic and alchemy and to commune with celestial beings in order to attain the elusive secrets of enlightenment and immortality.Eventually one of these warlords, in conjunction with masters of the Way of the Five Elements, managed to unite the various factions of T'ien Ch'i under his banner he magicians and and establish an imperial dynasty. To solidify their control over this empire, the Emperor and the highest masters of the Way created a Celestial Bureaucracy to manage all aspects of life and government, from military and civil administration to religious rituals and magical practice. Local warlords and their levies were replaced with a professional force of soldiers under trained officers, with an elite Imperial Guard serving as the core of the army and the personal bodyguards of the Emperor; village shaman elders gave way to Ceremonial Masters controlled by a central Ministry of Ritual; and isolated mages came under the governance of the Ministry of Magic, which oversaw the training of alchemists and geomancers to ensure the health, longevity, and prosperity of the Emperor and his subjects.This was not to last, however. External pressure from nomadic steppe tribes gradually wore down the strength of the Imperial Bureaucracy and its armies until they finally collapsed entirely. The victorious nomads filled the leadership vacuum with their own Khans and shamans, in the process reintroducing the forgotten practice of ancestor worship. Though some Ceremonial Masters and practitioners of the Way of Five Elements remain, with the collapse of the Imperial Bureaucracy their influence has declined considerably. The barbarian Khans and their fellow cavalrymen from the steppes, meanwhile, seem more interested in securing easy plunder from war than undertaking the arduous process of ensuring long-term peace and prosperity for the people of the land they now govern.
Ulm, Enigma of Steel (Early Age)
Ulm, The Forges of Ulm (Middle Age)
Ulm, Black Forest (Late Age)The forests and mountains of Ulm are a grim land, and the hardships its inhabitants face have forged them into a hardy people. Early Age Ulm was a collection of tribal settlements known for the toughness and hardiness of their residents and the high quality of their metal working arts. The people of Ulm were never known for great skill with or reverence for magic, instead placing their faith in cold, hard steel; the metal itself was regarded as sacred, and those smiths who mastered the "Enigma of Steel" to shape it into artifacts of great power held a place of respect reserved in other societies for great mages. Equally respected were the Steel Warriors, exceptionally tough elite soldiers whose ranks were drawn from the fatherless outcasts of society who had survived the greatest hardships of all before being given a chance to prove themselves on the battlefield.Despite their warriors' prowess in single combat, the disorganized tribes of Ulm were eventually conquered by and incorporated into the rising Empire of Ermor. The cataclysmic collapse of Ermor, however, gave Ulm the opportunity to declare itself an independent kingdom, guarded by well-armed and heavily-armored soldiers, among whom the most elite were equipped with weapons and armor made from an uncanny alloy known as "blacksteel." Those who forged such equipment, the Master Smiths, continued to hold a place of honor in Ulm society; however, their place in the hierarchy began to be challenged by the Iron Cult, whose Black Priests transformed the reverence for steel into the core tenet of an organized religion supported by blacksteel-clad Black Knights.Eventually the tension between the Master Smiths and the Black Priests spilled over into civil war, which culminated in the Night of Treason. A Malediction transformed the defenders of the Iron Cult's headquarters, the Keep of Ulm, into ghouls and vampires and provoked an infestation of the outlying forests and farms by ravenous wolf packs. The Iron Cult eventually gained the upper hand and outlawed the "sacrilegious" use of magic, hunting down the few surviving Master Smiths, whose knowledge of the secrets of shaping blacksteel died with them. While the Iron Cult ostensibly maintains the ban on non-clerical magic, there are rumors of a secretive order of "Illuminated Ones" in high places who continue to practice the arts — even engaging in blood rituals — behind closed doors.
Yomi, Oni Kings (Early Age)
Shinuyama, Land of the Bakemono (Middle Age)
Jomon, Human Daimyos (Late Age)In the Early Age, the harsh and unforgiving mountains of Yomi were home to a portal to the Netherworld, allowing powerful supernatural beings called oni to freely travel to the mortal realm. The strongest and most brutal of these creatures, the Dai Oni, established various petty realms, where they ruled as cruel and arbitrary overlords of the warrior clans of the bakemono (mountain goblins) and an underclass of humans. While powerful and effectively immortal, the oni were largely driven by their own whims and lusts and thus had little patience for subtlety and learning; hence, while most humans were theoretically powerless serfs, a few of the more clever and ruthless humans were allowed to serve as generals, priests, and magicians in exchange for promises of power and wealth.As time passed, the portal closed, severing the oni's connection to the Netherworld and weakening their power. The humans and bakemono, sensing weakness, rebelled against their oppressive overlords, banishing them back to the plane from whence they came. However, the bakemono warrior clans of Shinuyama turned on their human allies, forcing them to reveal their secrets (including the art of metalcrafting) and further reinforcing their position by developing their own forms of sorcery to summon and control various spirits, including their former oni masters. A few human bandits and witches were allowed to practice their trades in service to their bakemono masters, but by and large the bakemono kept the humans of their realm on a much shorter leash than even the oni ever had.Eventually, however, the bakemono grew weak and complacent, much as their former oni lords had in ages past, allowing the humans to once again rise up and take vengeance for their past wrongs. As the bakemono were either slaughtered or driven into hiding among the mountains, the newly-freed humans of Jomon elevated daimyo warlords from among their own ranks. These daimyo established a hierarchy of samurai warriors, kannushi priests, shugenja magicians (influenced by the Way of the Five Elements of the T'ien Ch'i), and Onmyo-ji astrologers to maintain control and protect their domains from outside threats. While the daimyo often compete against one another for power and influence, they adhere to and enforce among their own soldiers strict warrior codes to minimize collateral damage and violence against non-combatants; the memories of oni and bakemono excesses still linger deep in Jomon society's collective consciousness. Meanwhile, while the shugenja have maintained the old rituals to summon the oni and many of the allies of the bakemono to do their bidding, they tend to deal more with a class of nature spirits collectively known as kami, who are often more tolerant of humans and less actively inclined towards malicious dealings. While Jomon's future remains to be written, its people are understandably confident that after untold ages of oppression, their fates are finally in no one's hands but their own.