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.
- Blood Magic: Their thematic Pretender has access to it.
- Half-Human Hybrid: The Humanbred products of crossbreeding, initially used as a fast-breeding source of infantry and labor until they came to make up the majority of Abysia.
- Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: The Demonbreds, the first focus of crossbreeding.
- Playing with Fire: They're basically djinns.
- Start of Darkness: Thanks to demonic infiltration, Abysia began to study blood magic and experiment with crossbreeding.
- Virgin Sacrifice: Par the Blood Magic.
- Wreathed in Flames: The Burning Ones of the Early Age. All Abysians radiate heat, save for the Humanbreds.
- Cyclops: The Pale Ones are all one-eyed (mechanically that means they can't shoot a monolith at close range.)
- Humanity Ensues: After the Early Age, the original Agarthians are wiped out by human invaders. Humans later move in and begin worshiping the statues and mummies of the the extinct Pale Ones.
- Meaningful Name: Agartha is the name of a legendary underground city said to be located at the Earth's core.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: They can recruit Bandar warriors in the Late Age from an alliance with the Cerulean Maharaja.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Ancient Greece with Macedonian elements in the Late Age.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In the Early Age the kingdom is not yet founded. By the Middle Age it's already faded, its time of greatest power already come and gone.
- War Elephants: They start using them in the Middle Age.
- An Ice Person: Late Age Atlantis was forced on-land into an arctic environment by the onslaught of R'lyeh.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: They're presented as fantasy Inuit equivalents in the later ages. In earlier ages, they're more generic frog-people from the deep crevices of the ocean.
- Fish People: With a dash of frog and human.
- From Bad to Worse: Their territory was slowly taken by R'lyeh as the ages passed, until they were forced on the earth, many of them ending up in different countries, separated and ruined. Some of the survivors' morality got darker and darker as times got more desperate, such as Mictlan refugees who started to harness virgin blood from Mictlan women for vengeance.
- Geo Effects: Their ice armor and weapons, stolen from Caelum, gets more powerful in cold lands (especially their god's Dominion, which is almost certain to be a desolate tundra), and survives but becomes quite weak in warm ones.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Atlantis has to fight increasingly stronger enemies with increasingly less powerful units, and ends up faring astonishingly well.
- Making a Splash: Comes with the territory of being the resident People-Fish-Frogs.
- The Determinator: In the Early Age, they dueled with Oceania, already infamous Aboleths of R'lyeh and other critters in the ocean. Then R'lyeh received a Colony Drop and became full of alien mind controlling Illithids who are even worse than the Aboleths. Forced back on all fronts, Atlanteans spread across the world and took over kingdoms as ruling diaspora. Now they are coming back, and they are bringing survivors from the Earlier Era to resist the mental powers of R'lyeh.
A Dominions 4-introduced Early Age-only nation, with a Middle Age equivalent included in Dominions 5.
An island queendom introduced along with Phlegra in a Dominions 5 patch. This nation is home to dark-skinned humans of great stature known as the Colossi. They were formerly a colony of Berytos until Arcoscephale destroyed them. Phaeacia was able to survive due to ample tributes and their remote location. The people of Phaeacia enjoy unnaturally long and blissful lives thanks to a sapling of the golden tree of the blessed gardens of the Hesperides.
One one of the islands in the Phaeacian archipelago, an inhospitable island known as Black Korkyra, live descendants of Mekone. These Gigante retain some of their former glory as they chose not to join the armies of the God-Slayer and stayed out of Mekone's futile war against the gods.
- Blood Magic: Averted in Middle Age, the Colossi queens abandon the practices, whether due to HeelFace Turn or practicality is not explained.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Carthage. Which is also the reason for their disappearance in later ages: they get destroyed by Ermor (the Rome-counterpart)note in between the Early and the Middle.
C'tis, Miasma (Middle Age)
C'tis, Desert Tombs (Late Age)
Quite possibly the oldest faction in the game, the majority of C'tissian history is already mythic in the Early Age. They are a priestly series of kingdoms unified in their faith, with its holy and magical orders running the day-to-day matters of the realm. In the Early Era, the kingdom consisted of two races, the ruling Herbivore Lizards, and the barbarian Predator Lizards. The former commonly enslaved the latter, typically for labor and war. Their great city of C'tis houses itself along a swamp river valley, surrounded by blazing deserts. Within the City, lay a great Temple from which they would commune with the Pantokrator and perform holy sacraments.
Their mages, the Sauromancers, were a small and elite order of Necromancers with prohibitive entry requirements and a deadly series of trials, including being buried alive. This was ultimately necessary, as a Sauromancer had to be prepared to handle the responsibilities of handling the dead. The armies of C'tis tended to be massive forces of Lizards, Predators and the holy Undead, supported by Sauromancers and their Priestly rulers.
With the fall of Ermor, a massive wave of change swept the C'tissian lands. A new negative stigma surrounding the practice of Necromancy led to the decline of the Sauromancers, leading to a different order, the Marshmasters to take control. Meanwhile, a new race of reptilian giants, the Sobek, arose from deep within the Temple of C'tis. The Sobek Giants chose to ally with the Herbivore Lizards, serving them as mighty warriors and guardians. However, many C'tissians spoke of how these Giants would ultimately lead to the destruction of C'tis with their alleged hunger and unspeakable practices. Because of this, the Herbivore Lizards were ultimately fearful of their mighty allies. The enslaved Predator Lizards, on the other hand, hailed the arrival of the Sobek as the dawning of a new age.
By the time of the Late Era, C'tis had become an entity so old that most of their history had been altogether lost. In spite of this, the ancient order of Sauromancers made a triumphant return to the forefront of magical studies, albeit a changed order. As Ermor had stolen the secrets of Death magic and perverted them, the Sauromacer order had to adapt, merging with the Priestly orders of the past. They delved deep into their ancient tombs, raising Kings from ages past to rule in their new unlife. The Predator Lizards and the Sobek Giants were purged from C'tis and died out somewhere along the line, but the details remain inconclusive. Despite many hardships, C'tis eventually stood as an uninterrupted legacy through the ages.
- Casting a Shadow: Comes with the territory of Death Magic.
- Dark Is Not Evil: They are respectable necromancers and their Late Age death mages are priests.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Egypt and Babylon.
- Lizard Folk: Comes in three flavours: Herbivore Lizards, Predator Lizards, and the Sobek Giants.
- Horror Hunger: The fact that the Sobek eat small lizards and Herbivore Lizard eggs does not go over well with the general C'tissian populace.
- Mummy: Late Age death mages can reanimate mummified priests.
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: The Middle Age Sobek units are massive, humanoid crocodiles.
- Poisonous Person: Aside from their natural resistances to poisons, the C'tis have the Empoisoiner Guilds, experts in various toxins.
- Proud Scholar Race Guy: Have this going. Probably why they didn't see why teaching Ermor was a *really* bad idea.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Lizard Kings and Lizard Heirs are arguably the best recruitable leadership options to the C'tis.
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.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Only in the Early Age. In the Middle Age the bishops of the New Faith were replaced by the Thaumaturgs of the Death Cult.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Sceleria in Dominions 4. A Middle Age splinter of old Ermor, it was founded by the last Ermorian Emperor's twin brother and the Thaumaturgs. Their creed involves raising the dead to serve the living, and they do (mainly by raising skeletal legionnaires to fight against Ermor).
- Dem Bones: Sceleria (an Ermorian splinter state founded by the Thaumaturgs of the Death Cult and the last Emperor's twin brother) can have its priests raise skeletal legionnaires as part of its army in the Middle Age, while Ermor sees the dead rising on their own. There is no Ermor in the Late Age, and the closest thing to it (Lemuria, the Scelerian successor) has the dead rise on their own in spectral instead of osseous form.
- The Empire: While all pretender-ruled states fits the trope, early Ermor in Dominions 5 is the state that backstory-wise fits clearly here, with three Middle Age states confirmed as descended from the occupation of Early Age nations (Pythium from Sauromatia, Marignon from the Maverni, Ulm from Ulm), another splinter state carrying on the traditions of the old Ermor (more or less — Sceleria), the heartland of Ermor itself being the centre of an undead realm, and the reason for another of the disappeared Early Age nations (Berytos) is that Ermor smashed them.
- Idiot Ball: Sceleria grabs onto this thing hard, then proceeds to do several laps around the track with it.
- Necromancer: In the Middle Age Thaumaturgs and cultists are able to reanimate the dead.
- Night of the Living Mooks: Scelarian priests are can raise a sizable undead army. In Middle Age Ermor, the undead rise on their own.
- Start of Darkness: Thanks to it's wizards studying C'tisian death magic, Middle Age Ermor is a desolate wasteland of the dead, and Sceleria has been forced into an uneasy compromise to keep Death from breaking loose.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Middle Age Ermor.
- Beast Man: The fomorians' curse-born deformities most often manifest through them being born with goat heads.
- Curse: Part of the Fomorian's punishment. Their children are born closer to human-sized (but still giant). and the lucky ones get goat heads. The unlucky ones get additional deformities like limps or cyclopean eyes.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Rephaite warriors, and their corresponding Rephaim commanders. Sure, they are sacred, armed with golden horns that give an extra, magical attack, and their giant weapons hit like an avalanche, and physically they are the best units... The problem is, they are addicted to human(and Avvim) flesh so any army with Anakite giants will destroy the province it's in in a matter of months. Moreso when any Rephaim (Half-Nephilim) commanders and soldiers are trained, they will consume the world population until the province is useless, making their spellcasters useless.
- Bible Times: Crossed over with Religion of Evil. What the Jewish God wanted, did *definitely* not take root with Avvim.
- Blood Magic: Early Age and Late Age.
- Boring, but Practical: Avvim and Edomite light infantry. Smallest of giants, they are still heavily armed, have javelins that can fire like ballistae due to their strength, and can easily be raised in large numbers and are tough to kill.
- Fallen Angel: The Grigori, who taught the arts of civilization to the Avvites, fathered the Nephilim, and were sentenced to eternal punishment. In the Early Age Hinnom can release them from their prison by performing enormous blood sacrifices.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Ancient Canaan, with elements of Biblical Israel.
- Game-Breaker: Hinnom is often called this in multiplayer. A race of superhuman giants even whose most primitive stragglers are ripped cavemen. The rank-and-file are armed with giant javelins and bows that can shoot like artillery, and have at least twice the strength of normal men. Their cheapest spellcasters are huge men with nature magic that heal combat injuries afflictions with herbs *and* generate free food (and can generate more with mass producing magical food generators), making logistics easy. Their starting territory is a decadent city that generates free blood slaves without angering the population.
- HeelFace Turn: Ashod abandons the blood magic of Hinnom, its giants' hunger has faded to the point where they're no longer cannibalistic and they can summon a variety of celestials (though they still practice slavery). By the time of Gath the blood cult is back, but there's also a new cult based on guiding and helping humans. Needless to say, the Abba (Fathers) who help and protect humans from predatory giants cause your religion to fail in the territory it inhabits.
- Humanity Ensues: The number of giants dwindles with every era and human immigrants gain greater prominence.
- I'm a Humanitarian:
- The Nephilim giants would consume even their own offspring, and their unique pretender, the Son of Fallen has eaten his brothers and sisters too.
- Their descendants in Ashdod practice religious cannibalism, in which dedicated priests (the Zamzummim) offer themselves up to be eaten at ritual banquets in honor of the ancestors.
- Meaningful Name: "The Valley of the Son of Hinnom" was another name for the cursed valley Gehenna where human sacrifice had taken place, Ashdod was one of the earliest cities in Canaan, and Gath was the Philistine city where the giant Goliath came from.
- Nephilim: The founders of Hinnom, though they've mostly left.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: Nephilim are the biggest giants in-game.
- To Serve Man: Some giants will eat population, both of their smaller kin and humans (Early Age only).
- Virgin Sacrifice: Early and Late Age.
- Ascended Extra: In the fourth game, their Early Age is built around the usually independent Lion Tribe.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Ancient Africa in the Middle Age, more specifically the Zulus in the fourth game's Early Age.
- Giant Spider: Used as cavalry mounts.
- Horse of a Different Color: Their cavalry rides Giant Spiders.
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.
- Corrupt Church: Late Age. Their priests convert populations, but turn a blind eye to demonologists snatching virgins for sacrifice. Worse, girls are sacrificed publicly on Sunday so Marignon has clearly turned to Religion of Evil.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The House of Fiery Justice is essentially the Spanish Inquisition taken up to eleven.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Western medieval Europe, combining elements of both Spain and France.
- He Who Fights Monsters: They were formed to fight against the undead hordes of Ermor (albeit with extreme methods) in the Middle Age. In the Late Age, they seal a pact with demons to give them an extra edge against their undead foes.
- Knight Templar: Motive Decay has turned them into bullies and butchers in Late Age.
- The Conspiracy: A certain Late Age Ulmic hero hints that the pact Marignon made may have been because of that. Said unit has it made clear in its description that "he is sent to destabilize and ensure Marignon's downfall". [Oh, Crap! He is a demonologist and a blood mage expert in espionage]].
- Virgin Sacrifice: Late 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.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: They're essentially magical Gauls ruled by their druids.
- Virgin Sacrifice: Though not necessary, they can perform it to boost dominion... which makes for an interesting parallel with the Word of God-mentioned successor nation Marignon (Ermor conquered them and evidently had a greater impact on their national identity than Ulm, thus the name change).
- Walking Shirtless Scene: The rank-and-file's hat. The nobles carry chainmail.
Man, Tower of Chelms (Late Age)
A feudal kingdom that emerged in the Middle Age, founded by a human tribe known as the Logrians who conquered Tir na n'Og and discovered the secrets of the Forest of Avalon.
- Archer Archetype: Longbowmen, much like in real life.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: The Wardens wield both longsword and crossbow.
- The Fair Folk: Man is a human kingdom, but they rely on ancient secrets of the Tuatha for the source of their power.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Medieval Britain, mixing both English and Celtic aspects.
- The Hecate Sisters: The Witches of Avalon are divided into the ranks of Daughter, Mother, and Crone by seniority.
- Knight in Shining Armor: They also have a touch of Arthurian Myth, what with Avalon and all. They even have the Green Knight as a hero.
- Lady and Knight: The Witches of Avalon and the Wardens have this dynamic in the Middle Age.
- Last of His Kind: While the Witches of Avalon have supposedly gone extinct by the Late Age, a story event can lead to the discovery that at least one of them still survives.
- The Magic Goes Away: In the Late Era, they're described as suffering from magical Drain. You can create a pretender with high magic scales, but that's a waste given their researchers' ability to ignore magical drain.
- Unequal Rites: In the Middle Age, magic in Man is practiced primarily by the all-female Witches of Avalon, who specialize in Nature magic and lean heavily on the harmony end of Harmony Versus Discipline. By the Late Age, the witches are all but extinct, and magic is mainly practiced by the studious, disciplined, all-male Magisters, who dabble in nearly every field of magic but nature.
Phlegra, Deformed Giants (Middle Age)
Phlegra, Sleeping Giants (Late Age)
A nation introduced in Dominions 5. Mekone is a nation of giants and their human slaves, known as helotes, that seek to rid the world of the gods of man.
A later patch introduced Phlegra. After the Gigantes of Mekone lost in their war against the gods, they were punished for their sins. They now appear as deformed giants cursed with a violent temper. The highest caste, known as Tyrants, rule with the assistance of Oppressors, unscrupulous mages who enslave other mages and act as powerful communion masters.
In the Late Age, introduced in a third patch, the Tyrants have been absent for centuries having killed each other off in in-fighting and the Oppressors now rule their human slaves unopposed, with the warrior-caste of Younger Cyclopes being the only non-humans left in the realm. The only ones the Oppressors fear are the few Tyrants that lay imprisoned under mountains, their undying rage against the gods causing the mountains to spew fire and molten rock.
- Ascended Fanon: They were originally played in the mod "Arga Dis" in Dominions 3 and 4, albeit with a different species of giants named Gilgal. The unit fashion and the motives are roughly the same.
- Body Horror: The Laestrygonians have giant serpents for legs from the knee down. They also have viper tresses for hair.
- Cyclops: As well as being a potential Pretender chassis, the Mekone can recruit Elder Cyclopes. They generally have the most magic paths of the nation, and have one level of the Master Smith ability, giving them a +1 bonus to their preexisting magic paths when constructing items.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Mekone nation resembles a mix of ancient Greek Sparta and a nod to the story of the Greek Titans.
- Horse Of A Diffent Color: The Mouflon Cataphracts of the Late Age, slave soldier who ride armored goats.
- One-Man Army: The Laestrygonians in Late Age are exceptionally powerful units with five attacks, great magic paths, and can easily become supercombatants with the right gear. Unfortunately, they're also more than happy to kill off population and cause unrest wherever they go, assuming they listen to your orders due to having a 5% chance to do their own thing each turn.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: They're also angry towards the gods, and deformed, depending on what age you play them.
- Rage Against the Heavens: A major part of Mekone's culture. They lost, and those that fought against the gods are punished for their hubris. In Phlegra, only the human population devote themselves to the Pretender God. In every age, they get a unique Global Enchantment called Gigantomachia. This spell acts as a declaration of war against the gods, improving the casting nation's recruitment limit and gives a +2 bonus to their dominion's conflict bonus, making it easier to push away enemy dominion. In Late Age, this also allows the recruitment of Laestrygonians after The Burning Mountain erupts.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Starting from turn 15, Late Age Phlegra can experience a special event where The Burning Mountain (a capital magic site that gives 3 fire gems a turn and increases Heat scales) erupts. This kills population and causes unrest, as well as spawning Encelados the First of the Gigantes, a special national hero. The Shattered Volcano left behind produces 1 fire and death gem per turn, and allows the recruitment of Laestrygonian Tyrants (and regular Laestrygonian troops, if Gigantomachia is active.)
- FaceHeel Turn: In the Late Age, a bunch of Atlantian exiles reinstate the practice of blood sacrifice that had been outlawed in the Middle Age.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of the Aztecs.
- HeelFace Turn: During the Middle Age, the Lawgiver puts an end to blood sacrifice.
- Mayincatec: Mainly Aztec, and not at all Inca.
- Our Werebeasts Are Different: Werejaguars are sacred warriors who wear jaguar pelts. When injured, the pelt merges with them, transforming the warrior into a half-man half-beast.
- Virgin Sacrifice: During the Early and Late Ages, it's the only way to spread dominion.
- Battle Couple: The Royal Mallqui, the mummified remains of an Inca (king) and Coya (queen) bundled together and carried aloft in the same litter. In death, their combined experience and power is retained.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Inca with Winged Humanoid people and a heavy focus on mummies. Hints of Persia, inherited from Caelum, can still be found.
- Mummy: Incan ones, and what happens to their dead commanders.
- The Necrocracy: It wasn't really intentional — Nazca kept mummifying its rulers and priests for them to serve as advisers, but as more and more mummies were made, more and more resources had to go to them...
- Fauns and Satyrs: The ichtysatyrs of Middle Age.
- From Bad to Worse: In the Middle Age they were losing to Atlantians until R'lyeh enslaved them. By the Late Age, they are wiped out.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: The Middle Age has ichtycentaurs, which resemble a cross between a centaur and a hippocampus.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: The Nerid is an available pretender for them, while mermen are part of the infantry.
- Sirens Are Mermaids: Subverted. When they move to a land province, they become half-bird.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Mermen, ichtysatyrs, ichtycentaur, and sirens can all shape-change when they go on land.
- A Load of Bull: Minotaurs are part of the army, while two of the pretenders they can start with are giant bulls.
- Blood Magic: Mostly confined to the Early and Middle Ages.
- Casting a Shadow: The Late Age Black Dryads and Panic Apostates are pretty heavy users of it. Combine it the nature magic and you have instant manikin spam.
- Fauns and Satyrs: Satyrs are the basic infantry unit and scout. The female counterpart, Dryads, serve as commanders and priestesses.
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.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Theurgs of the Middle Age. By the time of the Late Age, they've been pushed to the side by the Serpent Cult, as well as several minor cults suck as the Cult of The Solar Bull, a Crystal Dragon Mithras, and the Cult of the Great Mother, Crystal Dragon Cybele.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Byzantine Empire. The Late Age adds elements of pre-Christian Rome.
- Light 'em Up: Pythium make extensive use of Astral magic.
- Our Hydras Are Different: A recruitable capitol-only unit. In the Late Age, they have sacred status. Late Age Pythium can also summon the Daughter of Typhon, a unique hydra.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of Pre-Islamic Iran, mostly Sassanid with a pinch of Seljuk Turkics.
- Our Gryphons Are Different: Ridden by the Turan Zhayedan.
- Colony Drop: The way they arrived in the world of Dominions. Basically, R'lyeh was the name of an Aboleth city in the depths. The tentacled creatures lived in a distant star which somehow got dislodged from heavens and smashed on top of the city. The survivors founded the Lovecraftian version of the R'lyehian Empire and started to rule over the Aboleths' slaves.
- From Bad to Worse: In the Late Age, the Illithids contacted an elder Void God which is strongly hinted at being something horrific and turning the entire world insane.
- The Remnant: At least one aboleth Mind Lord has survived all the way to Late Age. His description mentions that he finds Illithids useful as overseers and as food.
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.
- Amazon Brigade: A large portion of Sauromatia's armies is composed of women.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: A hint of Cretan and Minoan Island Kingdoms mixed with Greek city-states.
- Fauns and Satyrs: The Hekaterides are the mothers of the Satyrs.
- Magic Dance: The sacred dance of the Hekaterides and their Melian and Kourete brought joy, stability, and fertility to Theorodos, and in-game inspire troops and reduce unrest.
- Poisonous Person: The Telkhine are constantly surrounded by the fumes of the Telkhine Maediction, killing everything around them.
- Mystery Cult: The guilds of the Kabeiros craftsmen were organized like this, members advancing through mystic initiations, that often involved an excessive amount of drinking.
- Scrappy Mechanic: It's a nation made from sacred units who are alive, and need gold as much as any nation...Yet its population dies inside the dominion, completely ruining the very meaning of playing, and the concept of joy and stability the sacred dancers.
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 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.
- Blade on a Stick: Their most basic units use pikes, and most of their melee units use spears.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Imperial China, Kublai Khan in Late Era.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Their best general is a prince, and their best cavalry unit are sons of nobles.
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.
- Expy: Early Age is pretty heavily based off Cimmeria
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: As above, Cimmeria in Early Era with a mix of Germanic tribes. Middle Era is roughly Germany, and has some Romanian cultural flavor for Late Age.
- Our Ghouls Are Creepier: They're a Late Age capitol only unit, cursed when they ate their companions during a siege. Their halberds destroy enemy sacred units and cause instant fear by being seen.
- The Illuminati: Active in LA Ulm, users of blood and astral magic, they infiltrate governments to gain power and bring about the downfall of kingdoms. One of their greatest Enlightened has infiltrated Marignon, hinting that their Motive Decay may be orchestrated. Another has infiltrated Man, and may be responsible for causing the magic to go away (though the text says that he infiltrated the Magisters, meaning that he could have came in after the magical drain started, though he could help accelerate it). The third has infiltrated Pythium. All three of these Enlightened (called the Members of the Third Tier) have been sent to orchestrate the downfall of all three of those nations.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The Late Age spell Sanguine Heritage can call forth a Vampire Count. The Vampire Queen is also one of the available pretenders.
- Good People Have Good Sex: The capital territory needs a King and Queen to stay present so they can bless the land with a ritual that clearly implies sexual rites. Considering Ur is mainly resisting the blood cult of Hinnom and uses bloodless sacrifices like incense, the trope may be played straight.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: The Kullulus, Enkidu/Fish hybrids.
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.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: In the Late Age,the humans of Jomon have successfully broken the might of their bakemono and oni masters.
- Hand Seals: The five "* sign" spells, hand gesture spells that are based on divine magic and a standard path unique to Jomon.
- Amazon Brigade: The Morvarc'h Knights, Morgen (descendants of the Tuatha) clad in bronze armor. They ride Morvarc'h as steeds.
- Barbarian Tribe: The Kernou, a Marverni tribe that serve as the land bound auxiliaries of Ys.