Dominions 6 – The Origins of Nations


If you have walked in a forest with trees covered in ivy and stumbled across the carcass of a dead animal, partly covered by leaves and vines, your imagination might give life to the vines and the roots of the nearby plants. The carrion jerks and twitches as the roots give life to the dead animal. It opens its jaws and lets out a silent hiss.

Asphodel is a nation of the vengeful wild. Panii and halfmen of Pangaea have revolted against their brethren and unleashed the powers of a dark and hungry god upon the living world. Vines and roots turn into slithering and growing entities strangling the living in their sleep and reanimating their corpses as marionettes of vines and bones. These marionettes are known as manikin. The first carrion beasts appeared in one of my Ars Magica campaigns. There was a manikin in the bestiary that sparked my imagination and resulted in animal carcasses reanimated by vines. The concept has always been something I liked, and I suspect is has sneaked into other RPG campaigns of mine from time to time.

Asphodel as a Dominions nation has a history similar to Lemuria. The nation was once a theme in Dominions 2 that was removed and made into a global spell available to primarily late age Pangaea. Unfortunately, this made the whole setting of the Carrion Woods rare, and that was a pity. We decided to remake the old theme into a new Pangaean splinter nation.

Bandar Log, Kailasa, Lanka and Patala

Bandar Log, the nation of the monkey people, is inspired by Hindu myths, ancient India and Rudyard Kipling. The Vanara comes from the Ramayana, an epic in which the monkey people aid prince Rama in his struggle against the demon king Ravana. The hierarchical division of the different species of monkeys has parallels in the Hindu caste system. I wanted the Bandar to use the alleged colors of the

Indo-Aryan castes: white for priests, red for nobles and black for commoners. Markatas are exempt from the hierarchy and society at large and might be seen as untouchables of earlier times, although I imagine them less vulnerable. Important to the development of the Bandar Log were the semi-divine beings of Hindu myth. With a slight breath of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Yavanas and Devatas became lords of the monkey people. When these beings left the world the monkey people found themselves in control, until the emergence of another divine race, the Nagas. As Kaa hypnotized the monkeys in Kipling’s Jungle Book, the Nagas mesmerized the Bandar and Vanaras and claimed rulership over the nation.

The latest addition to the monkey business was Lanka, the mythical kingdom of Ravana. The nation is in many ways similar to Kailasa, but rakshasas of various forms replace the yakshas and yavanas, and blood magic and cannibalism is prevalent. I confess to having a weakness for great ape sorcerers and necromancers in semi-civilized apparel, preferably raging and howling with gory mouths. Hindu myth is rich and you could probably make a Dominions game based entirely on Hindu nations, beings and gods.


Berytos exists only in the early era. It is the Phoenix Empire that was destroyed and reemerged in numerous coastal city states. It is a cultural melting pot influenced by several other nations. The nation is heavily inspired by Mediterranean seafaring peoples and the Phoenicians in particular. The sea peoples of Canaan and Egypt, combined with Greek migrational hypotheses, Phoenicians and their Carthaginian/Punic extension have been important sources. The Canaanite/Phoenician cities of Byblos, Tyros, Sidon and Carthage inspired the ideas of a seafaring nation and led to the Berytian dependency on coastal forts.

The legendary founding of Carthage by Dido/Elissa and her marriage with the high priest of Melqart combined with the biblical concept of Canaanite Ba’al worship laid the ground for the concept of Berytian Melqart worship. This enabled some intertwining of Hinnomite and Berytian backstories. I also wanted a deeper mythical backstory and found that the Telchines, Dactyls and other Greek mythological island-peoples combined with the Greek migration hypothesis fit the role. I liked that the nation had an arcane legacy free from influences from Hinnom.

When I remembered the slightly bizarre Ars Magica supplement “South of the Sun” by Atlas Games, where there are Carthaginian descendants dabbling in dark magic I figured the great men and queens of of Machaka would fit a niche as exile queens and leaders of the cult of the Melqarts. Berytos has been one of the most fun nations to develop, probably because it involves and expands the backstories of several other nations and concepts. It also has several unique mechanics designed primarily for them.

Bogarus, Vanarus, and Rus

Imagine cold winters, princes in sable-rimmed cloaks, opulent halls where sinister old men practice vile magics or seduce their masters’ wives. Think of Rasputin. Think of orthodox patriarchs and bizarre sect- like movements of religious fanatics living in hiding. Imagine the monsters, heroes and bogatyrs of Russian fairy tales.

When Bogarus was added to Dominions 3, I already had some ideas about the predecessors. My imagination was influenced by Kievan Rus’ when the nation was given Vanir ancestors. I wanted priests and an institutionalized religion that brings the Russian Orthodox Church to mind and some sectarian movements on top of that. I did some research and I was quite happy when I found the skoptsy, the “castrated ones,” and other strange religious movements.

Vanarus was partly conceived during the development of Dominions 3. Hints were included in the descriptions of Bogarus, but I never got around to finishing it.

Vanarus is the predecessor of Bogarus. It is a nation of ruling Vanir that have subjugated and intermingled themselves with the previous rulers of the land. Kievan Rus’ is one of the sources here, but I’ve also used the Chuds, a people that appears in the myths of various peoples from the eastern Baltic seaboard. I haven’t found very much on the Chuds, so they are mostly my creation. The “Pine of Skulls,” shape-shifting and shamanic bear cult practices fit the nation. These features, as well as the Thunder Priests mentioned in the descriptions of the nation appear in Rus, the early version of the nation. I wanted the national troops of the nation to reflect the change from the earlier era to the late Bogarus. Versatile Vanarusian sages are slowly replacing the mighty Vanir and will eventually develop into the Starets and mages of the late era.

I never got around to finish my ideas on Rus for Dominions 4. Instead it became the second of the new nations for Dominions 5. Baltic mythology, Latvian in particular, became an inspirational source for the nation.


Caelum was originally a purely fictional nation of winged humanoids living atop the coldest mountain peaks. Later development has gifted them with Zoroastrian traits. In a Dominions 4 patch, the nation’s backstory was remade and more Zoroastrian traits, summons, and spells were added to the nation. The backstory of a primordial was between Daevas and Yazatas along with concepts of the pollution of the sacred flame merged with earlier ideas of Catharsis/ Anthrax. We also added some new guardian spirit mechanics based on Zoroastrian concepts of the soul.


C’tis is a nation of lizardmen under Egyptian and to some extent Mesopotamian influence. Sacred priest kings, pyramids, swamps, and flooding rivers surrounded by deserts are all elements of these cultures. Sacred priest kings celebrating hieros-gamos with hierodules atop temple ziggurats, with high priests chanting and swaying in procession under the glare of sacred serpents depicted on murals on the great walls have to me a more Mesopotamian feel than Egyptian. On the other hand, the Desert Tombs of the late age is influenced by Egyptian concepts of the dead and modern fiction on Egypt, and the lizard king might as well be a Pharaoh as a Lugal. The connection between C’tis and Ermor suggests that C’tis is more Egyptian than Mesopotamian. The sauromancers’ initiation rituals are inspired by Oriental cults of the late Roman Empire, such as that of Isis and Sarapis/Osiris.

In Dominions 4 another influence was added to C’tis: the Sobeks of Trade & Taint. They were initially a T&T version of C’tis and Pythium, with theurgs, legionaires and necromancers as possible career options. Part of the Sobek lore and inspiration from T&T were put into middle age C’tis, and I might expand these thoughts at a later date.


With the development of Tir na n’Og it became evident that I wanted another nation of Irish stock to accommodate human heroes such as Cu Chulainn. The legacy of Tir na n’Og was split between Eriu and Man and the remaining Sidhe became to Eriu what the Vanir were to Vanheim in later ages, a blessed ruling race with human subjects.

Ermor and Its Legacy

Ermor was initially a conglomerate of the Roman Empire and undead nations of general fantasy stock. With time, it has received a history that begins as something like the early Roman republic, with military units of that age and priests and diviners inspired by Roman religious officials. The New Faith replaces the old state cult of the Numina, as Christianity eventually replaced the old Roman state cult.

With the turn of the age, the mistake of the Augurs becomes apparent, and the nation is brought into darkness.

Ermor is one of the first conceived nations in the Dominions universe. In the first Dominions, the Ermorian backstory influenced many of the other nations. When the eras were introduced in Dominions 3, the undead empire ended up in the late age and the Dominions history lost some of its coherency. With Dominions 4, I tried to straighten things up and once more placed the Ashen Empire of Ermor in the middle age where its antagonists and splinter empires can be found.

The backstories of Sceleria, Pythium, Marignon and Ulm are all influenced by Ermor. Several other nations have interacted with the nation or its shadow. It would be difficult to imagine the Dominions setting without Ermor.

Hinnom, Ashdod and Gath

Hinnom, Ashdod and Gath are heavily influenced by ancient Israelite, Canaanite and Philistine concepts. I have always been intrigued and fascinated by biblical mythology, and had long I wanted to include the Nephilim and biblical Genesis myths into the game. However, I was worried that I would not do the sources justice, so it took a while before I finally got down to finishing the nations. The Bible, the Book of Enoch, the Dead Sea scrolls and the Ras Shamra texts of Ugarit and interpretations of these texts are the main sources of the nations.

Hinnom draws more heavily on the biblical and Enochian tradition, while the veneration of the deified dead kings of Ashdod draws inspiration from the Ras Shamra and Canaanite/Ugaritic concepts of the dead. The rephaim/r’p’m of the Ugaritic texts are ghosts or deified dead rather than giants, so Ashdod turned out a bit different than I first intended, with death magic replacing blood. The shift from blood to death gave the nation a different and interesting mood.

I have looked a bit at Sumerian and Babylonian history when designing Hinnom and Ashdod. Gath, on the other hand draws more heavily from Israelite and Philistine concepts.

Early Israelite religion and history with a centralized cult at the temple and Israelite tribes, combined with the legends of David and Goliath of Gath are obvious sources for the late iteration of the nation.

I wanted the nation to be an abomination, slowly becoming more civilized throughout the ages. Hinnom is perhaps more than any other nation in the game an evil nation. I’m not very fond of the concept of evil, but it would be difficult to claim that the cannibalistic giants of Hinnom are anything but.

Fomoria and Tir na n’Og

These nations are the predecessors of Man and Eriu. They are both heavily influenced by “The Book of Invasions” and Celtic myths and folklore. The wars and conflicts between Fomorians, Nemedians, Fir Bolg and Tuatha were used to create a common backstory for the nations. The Fomorian ideas were combined with some ideas of sailing storm giants, inhuman goat-headed giants and some concepts of Fomorians as keepers of the watery dead that struck my imagination.

Ind and Its Sucessors

Ind is heavily influenced by the kingdom of Prester John, a medieval idea of a hidden christian kingdom surrounded by heathen tribes. The idea of the hidden kingdom survived until the seventeenth century. As more and more of the world became known to the Europeans the kingdom was moved to new unexplored regions. The first sources placed the kingdom in the orient. Later on it was concieved as an Ethiopian kingdom.

For inspiration on Ind I have used the first and most fantastic medieval accounts of the mavellous kingdom, with streets of gold and dining tables of emerald. I wanted to be true to the over the top accounts of the virtue of the kingdom and its inhabitants. In the descriptions of Ind’s units I have paraphrased several accounts of their outstanding virtue, like everyone being a priest and every noble being a king. I have also used accounts of cannibals and other strange tribes subservient to Prester John. Ind is probably the dominions nation least influenced by my own ideas. The only addition to the nation that can’t be found in the medieval accounts of the kingdom are the dog headed cynocephalians. These are also found in medieval accounts and they are placed in the orient. Combined with judaeo-christian ideas of Gog and Magog they were added to Ind as the worst of the cannibals serving the Prester King.

Piconye, Feminie and Andramania are successors to the magnificent kingdom of Ind. They mainly draw inspiration from my previous ideas of Ind and the kingdom of Prester John. I wanted the successors of Ind to split the virtues of the magnificent kingdom and so Piconye inherits the theocratic traditions of Ind, Feminine inherits the magic secrets, and Andramania inherits the order and discipline of the kingdom.

Andramania draws additional inspiration from medieval myths on the cynocephalians. While most sources portray them as wild brutes, there are some representations where they appear civilized and peaceful. After some reimagining Andramania became a nation of cynocephalians trying to overcome their barbaric legacy.


Machaka is a nation inspired by African kingdoms and the Shona in particular. The king, a sacred figure, reigns, but does not rule. He is served by vassal chiefs, and his priests, the Eyes, Ears and Mouth, keep constant surveillance over sub-chiefs and serve as a link between the people and the temple. The Shilluk concept of regicide and other unspecified ideas from African cultures have also made their way into the nation. Modern Oriental concepts and fantasy clichés can be found in the black sorcerers of the God Mountain, and the spiders. I admit to some obscure influences from the comic The Phantom as well. The Machaka of the early age is influenced by the old pen and paper RPG Powers and Perils. In the fantastic campaign setting of this game there was a nation of African stock led by great men that were released from a great sleeping city. The notion of a released race of superior men was attractive. Various myths, tales, films and “African” fantasy concepts have been mashed together and mixed with the middle age Machaka ideas. My first idea of clans based on body parts like liver, heart, hand, head and leg, did not feel right and was replaced with animals, more fitting with the spiders of the middle age. The nation evolved side by side with Berytos, but it took a bit longer to finish. Creating two nations together and intertwining their history gave them both additional life. It is probably something I want to do with more new nations in the future.


Man is one of the first nations conceived in the Dominions universe. The nation is a conglomerate of medieval English and Arthurian concepts spiced with some fantasy elements from Ars Magica and the books of Robert Jordan. The Irish/Northumbrian monastic tradition, Anglo-Saxon society, and Welsh longbowmen are all inspirational sources. Later on, the nation turns towards scholarship paired with dark tidings. The mood in the movie Sleepy Hollow is a nice comparison.

In Dominions 4 steps has been taken to accentuate the influence of invading barbarians reminiscent of the Angles and Saxons. It is not difficult to see an early Ulm or a similar nation in the Logrian backstory.


Marignon is a late medieval nation of inquisitors and religious fanatics. Prudent – or perhaps paranoid – priests search for vice and heresy throughout the land, putting men and women to the pyre with fiery justice. Imagine the soldiers wearing fancy and colorful Renaissance clothing, while religious and arcane officials wear red or black robes and severe miens. In the late era the Spanish influence is heavier than the Albigensian. Later Gothic concepts of occultism and devil worship are incorporated along with seafaring and missions abroad.


Marverni is a nation inspired by Celtic Gaul. Gutuaters, vergobrets, druid astrologers, and blood sacrifices are all heavily influenced by the accounts of Caesar and Roman historians. Bare-chested warriors or nobles dressed in newly invented chain mail fight side-by-side with their chieftains to prove their worth. Bronze horns in the image of various animals are also images to keep in mind. Further inspiration was probably found in Asterix, a remarkably good comic by the way.

Mekone & Phlegra

Mekone and its successors are inspired by giants of Greek myth. Described either as strong and proud hoplites, or in later times, as monstrous beings with serpent legs, the idea of a nation of giants that doesn’t follow the development of most other giant nations, with smaller and smaller giants in the later ages, started to take form. The serpent legged monstrosities of the late age was at first glance the most intriguing one, but I wanted to make the nation one era at a time, so I started with Mekone. Some research into ancient Athens and Sparta transformed my first ideas into a nation heavily inspired by Sparta. Since Arcoscephale is more influenced by Athens in the early age and Hellenic Greece in later ages, a Spartan society would not overlap with previous Greek influences. I also wanted to incorporate the hubris of the giants and the Gigantomachia—the war against the gods—into the nation, which in turn created the backstory for the middle and late age versions of the nation.

Phlegra in the middle age is a nation that has lost most of its proud legacy. The Gigantes of Mekone are cursed for their hubris and are becoming physically and mentally afflicted. I also wanted to add shepherding cyclopes to the Elder Cyclopes of earlier times. At first, the nation felt a bit bland, but when I started to think on the slaves and the Phlegran society the idea of the oppressors and slave mages appeared. The feel of the nation took a whole new turn and the slave mage mechanics made for entirely new tactics not available to other nations.


Mictlan is a nation mainly inspired by the Aztecs and their practice of blood sacrifices. The name is that of the realm of the dead in Aztec mythology. Tenochtitlan was built on a swamp, and so is the Mictlan capital, but Mictlan, particularly in the late era, is also a nation of the rainforest, closer in resemblance to the Maya. Toads are common on mural motives, but the Slann of White Wolf’s Warhammer is probably an equally important source of influence on the Atlantian remaking of the Mictlan nation in the late era.

Quetzalcouatl, the Lawgiver, figures in most of the Mesoamerican cultures as a returning savior figure. One could not paraphrase a Mesoamerican nation without having at least a fleeting reference to him. Mictlan is also supposed to be a backwards nation reminding us of the arrival of the technologically (and perhaps virally) advanced Europeans in the Americas.

Na’ba and Ubar

These two nations are inspired by the Arabian Nights as well as preislamic arabia and the Nabataeans in particular. The biblical narrative of Sheba has also made its way into the nation. The city of Petra with its water reservoirs and cultivated lands hidden in the desert has always fascinated me. Na’ba had to be a nation hidden by the magic of the unseen, the jinnun. Na’ba and Ind were developed simultaneously and were both given the new hiding dominion mechanics.

Na’ba would be a nation where humans, jinnun and crossbreeds coexisted. I wanted Na’ba to be a mostly human nation with access to jinn summoning rituals. Out of chance I stumbled across Hud, prophet of the ‘Ad people, who were great of stature. Needless to say this fit all to well in the dominions setting. The Avvites of Hinnom became refugee ‘Adites, the giants of Na’ba.

When Na’ba was created I knew that there would be a predecessor with more focus on the jinnun. Ubar is a jinn nation more heavily inspired by arabian fairy tales, the city of Brass and Iram of the Pillars.


When Nazca was released in a patch for Dominions 4 it had already been on the drawing board for a long time. I really like the necrocratic concept where mummified ancestors have a position of influence in society. A kingdom forced to expand with every generation as previous kings and nobles keeps their conquered lands even after death. A kingdom slowly going bankrupt as stipends to dead ancestors keeps piling up.

The first ideas on Nazca were just speculations how I wanted a Caelian splinter kingdom to be, but when I got the idea of an Inca setting for the new nation it stuck. I started to research Andean concepts and cultural history and was intrigued by mummy bundles, moieties, geoglyphs and necrocratic practices. I have no clear idea of the end of the Nazca saga, so there is room for a possible late era version in a future iteration of Dominions.


Nidavangr is a nation based on three main sources. Two of them are derivates of rpg settings of mine. The first setting was a land inhabited by barbarians divided into seven clans named after their totemic animals. At the center of this land was a kettle hole at which unholy rites were performed to create Nidlögade, warriors with several lives, which together with their raven clan shamen served as the final antagonists of the campaign. I reused and reworked the totemic tribes for my current pathfinder campaign. In this setting there are only three clans: wolf, bear and raven. The shape shifting seithberenders of Nidavangr closely resemble the clan druids of that campaign. Nidavangr is a mix of these two settings with some added mood of the novel Midnight Tides of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. My impressions of the frozen waste and the undying Rhulad has trickled into Nidavangr and the Nidbathed, but I can’t say for sure how much of the mood you would recognize. Finally Nidavangr was set in a Dominions context with jotuns and vanir as ancestral enemies of the clans.

Oceania, Pelagia, and Erytheia

Oceania and Pelagia are nations inspired by medieval bestiaries abundant with creatures of the sea corresponding to beings living on land. As most of these creatures are half-men and fish-beasts, Oceania as a nation became quite similar to Pangaea. The development of the Triton Kings incorporated modern concepts and imagery of mermen, and in Dominions 4, Pelagia was made a nation of its own, less Pangaean in style. Knights armed in mother-of-pearl armor, Triton Kings on hippocampoii-drawn sea- shell chariots, and golden tridents are all part of the Pelagia setting.

With the release of the Dominions 4 UW-patch the backstory of Pelagia was developed. It became intermingled with Berytos and my first ideas on later developments for the nation emerged. I prefer if nations are primarily culturally defined, and secondarily racially defined. Pelagia always felt more like a race thing and less like a kingdom with its own cultural setting. The changes in the patch was a step in this direction, although I find the new nation Erytheia more interesting.

Erytheia is the late era development of Pelagia. It is a nation heavily inspired by Ptolemaic Egypt. Like Ptolemaic Egypt, it is a nation of foreign conquerors adopting local traditions forming an isolated kingdom desperate to keep its royal blood lines and avoid foreign influence. I wanted the Ptolemaic practices of royal sibling marriages represented in the game and this led to some new mechanics developed for Erytheia. I also wanted Erytheia to be more of a contender for the closed realm, Pelagia’s name for dry land. The idea of a merman kingdom of both worlds started to take form when I worked on the Dominions 4 UW-patch.

The pairing with Ptolemaic concepts fit well and Erytheia became a nation quite different in feel from previous underwater nations.


Pangaea is a nation of wild half-men of Greek myth, as they could have developed if exposed to a vast and technologically superior humanity: Iron or skin. Adapt or die. As in most cultures exposed to so-called civilization, some inhabitants cling to traditions, or current perceptions of them; while others adapt to the circumstances, with loss or gain in influence. The loss of ancient magic and traditions over the ages is quite apparent in this nation, but in the late era the centaurs have found new paths of magic, giving hope to the nation.


Phaeacia is an island nation inspired by its namesake in the Odyssey, the enchanted isle ruled by Alcinous. Imagine palaces of gleaming bronze, with golden gates guarded by dogs of gold and silver. In enchanted gardens filled with fantastic trees, fountains and marble statues, wise men entertain their queen with song and poetry. In a city of marble craftsmen and weavers of unequaled skill make trade goods and silk garments famed throughout the world.

When I worked on Mekone and Phlegra, ideas popped up that were too interesting to be ignored. In one of my Ars Magica RPG campaigns the players were lost at sea during a storm and arrived at an enchanted island colony of surviving Phoenician Ba’al worshippers, blessed with longevity. The Ulysses tale combined with my RPG campaign and previous ideas on Berytos resulted in the new island nation. Phaeacia is one of the nations where my imagination runs wild, probably due to the fact that it is influenced by several sources, including my own RPG setting. Finally, the nation needed some new mechanics, sites and events to become what I wanted. The dark vessels and the island start, make the nation play differently than other nations and I hope that they are reasonably balanced in MP games.

Piconye, Feminie and Andramania

Piconye, Feminie and Andramania are successors to the magnificent kingdom of Ind. They mainly draw inspiration from my previous ideas of Ind and the kingdom of Prester John. I wanted the successors of Ind to split the virtues of the magnificent kingdom and so Piconye inherits the theocratic traditions of Ind, Feminine inherits the magic secrets, and Andramania inherits the order and discipline of the kingdom.

Andramania draws additional inspiration from medieval myths on the cynocephalians. While most sources portray them as wild brutes, there are some representations where they appear civilized and peaceful. After some reimagining Andramania became a nation of cynocephalians trying to overcome their barbaric legacy.


EA Pyrène is a nation inspired by basque mythology and an Ars Magica rpg campaign of mine, set in the Pyrenees. The caves of Ariège and prehistoric cave paintings combined with the Bekryde myth were great inspirational sources for the setting. The giants of basque myth were also incorporated and one of my players played a character of giant descent. In dominions more of the basque myths have been reworked and incorporated, although I would like to add some more stuff.

MA Pyrène is inspired by more modern concepts of the Akelarre, the witches sabbath, and the art of Goya. The Bekrydes still lingers on, but their legacy is more apparent in the physique of the population than in the culture of Pyrène. The nation also draws inspiration from the song of Roland and the wars between christians and muslims in medieval spain.


Pythium is based on the eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium. Its history and military bears a legacy of Ermor, as did Byzantium from Rome. The Theurgs and their ceremonial magic are influenced by the lavish liturgy of the Orthodox Church. The Cathedral of the Spheres is filled with chanting, the fragrance of incense, and processions of Theurgs robed in gold and silver. Ritual magic is a public and religious affair. The serpent-and-emerald part of the nation is more free-form fantasy fiction, and comes from the name I think.

In the late era the nation is influenced by the mystery cults and religious worshipers of subjugated lands, much as the late Roman empire became a melting pot of imported religious beliefs and faiths. The mystery cults of Isis/Sarapis, Mithra, Dionysos and Euleusis gave Pythium in the late era a new and interesting flavor. The serpent priests are more of a fictional addition, and probably came about as a result of the sacred serpent cataphracts and hydras. Since the mystery cults were inspired by the cult of Isis, a serpent priest with a C’tissian legacy felt fitting. I’m personally quite fond of late era Pythium, since my thesis was about the Roman Isis/Sarapis cult.


Ragha was added in the Caelum patch for Dominions 4. I had played with ideas on a dual Caelian/Abysian nation earlier on, but it wasn’t until I started to remake Caelum that those ideas bore fruit. Of the Caelian nations it is probably the one most heavily influenced by history and myth. Since the nation was developed with Zoroastrianism in mind the mage-priests of the nation, dasturs and athravans, became an integral part of the nation and not something that was added ad hoc. The heat/cold preferences of the nation made it a bit difficult to evaluate and balance, but I’m very fond of the concept thematically. The fact that the nation is based on centuries of Persian history and two different dominions nations, gives it more traits than most nations.

R’lyeh and Atlantis

These two nations are heavily influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. While R’lyeh is closer to the Cthulhu mythos with Starspawns and strange beings from the stellar void, Atlantis is a nation of deep ones native to the depths. The early era is more heavily Lovecraftian, while the middle era is more influenced by fantasy concepts and ideas. Atlantis is another nation devastated in the end of the second era. Late Atlantis incorporates Inuit concepts apart from the earlier Lovecraftian elements.

R’lyeh is the other nation heavily influenced by the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. While Atlantis represents the more tellurian aspects of the Cthulhu mythos, R’lyeh represents the stranger aspects and beings of the Lovecraftian universe. Starspawns, strange openings and beings of the Void are mixed with a bit of fantasy role-playing game clichés. The nation progresses from a D&D-ish nation of Aboleths to an insane nation of dreaming madmen, mutated lunatics and mind-defying void beasts. F’tagn.


Sauromatia is a nation based on Herodotus’ accounts of the Scythian peoples in The Histories. Here Scythians, Amazons, Sarmatians, and Androphags are described with their strange traditions and unsavory practices, and the book is a splendid source for any modder seeking inspiration for a new nation. Grave goods, archaeological findings and Osprey military books have given the nation further life.

Finally, Witch Kings and elements of the Pythian predecession (serpents, swamps and hydras) were added to the Androphags to make the nation more sinister and Dominion-esque.

Sceleria and Lemuria

Sceleria is the daughter of Ermor and sister of Pythium. In Dominions 3, the nation was the middle era Ermor, but with the cleanup of the history, that which was Ermor in the middle era had to be rewritten. Sceleria became a splinter empire that together with Pythium broke free from Ermor before the cataclysm. Sceleria, as Pythium, is of course influenced by the Romans. Fantasy concepts of sinister nations with undead workers and soldiers walking side-by-side with the living population are not uncommon.

Lemuria is a reprise of the Dominions 2 Ermor theme “Soul Gates.” With Dominions 3, the Soul Gate and the Carrion Wood mechanics were remade into global spells. This change practically removed them from the game. We wanted them back and with the rewriting of the history the new nation of Lemuria followed in the wake of Sceleria.

Lemuria is an undead nation of ghosts and immaterial undead instead of skeletons and zombies. Think of grey lands of ash and dust. Imagine spectral hordes marching forth under banners swaying in a wind you cannot feel. Stand still and you might hear the clamor of ancient weaponry when the ghost legions pass you by. At the horizon a great darkness is spreading as shadows pour forth from the Soul Gate.


Therodos is based on Greek legends and ideas of a golden-age kingdom swallowed by the waves as punishment by the gods. Since I made Berytos I wanted to elaborate on the Telkhines. Previous concepts of the Berytian Telkhine ancestry and new ideas of a spectral nation unaware of its undead precondition were merged and Therodos started to take form. Additional ideas of craftsmen daimones, such as Daktyls and associated Kouretes and Korybantes found a place in the backstory of the nation.

T’ien Ch’i

T’ien Ch’i is obviously influenced by China. I couldn’t even resist the name Spring and Autumn, from the period of the same name in Chinese history. Chinese history is rich and there is plenty to draw upon. Daoism and its five elements, inner alchemy, and quest for longevity inspired the Masters of the Way as did the T’ien Shih—celestial master—of institutional Daoism convert into the Celestial Master of T’ien Ch’i. Heroes come in plenty in the Chinese tales and the Seven Immortals are all interesting figures. Sun Wukong and his friends are perhaps even more so. There is plenty of stuff to expand on should I or a merry modder find the time. Finally, T’ien Ch’i has been inspired by movies from Hong Kong, China, and Korea.


Ulm is a nation that goes through major changes with the eras. In early times it is a barbarian nation. Think Conan! Or at least, think of the first five minutes of Conan, the Barbarian, when Conan’s family is slaughtered by Thulsa Doom and the young boy is brought to slavery. Think of fur-dressed shamans and warrior smiths speaking of the

Enigma of Steel. Then think of the German tribes described by Caesar in The Gallic Wars, the Roman disaster of the Teutoburger Forest, and the pagan temple at Irminsul. Ulm in the early era is an Ulm before the arrival of civilization.

Ulm of the later eras is inspired by, amongst others, Teutonic Knights and German Landsknechts. Late Ulm is an intended shift of style towards central and eastern Europe, southern Germany/Bavaria, and Transylvania. One of the classic ingredients of gothic novels is tainted bloodlines.

Another feature common amongst the traditional, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant, gothic novel is that it takes place in some part of Catholic Europe, so making a Goethicized fantasy “Bavarian” Ulm is a natural step, I think.

Ur and Uruk

Ur came to be as a result of Trade & Taint, an earlier unfinished Illwinter project. I made the first Enkidus and Sobeks for that game. Shame, bone readers and reavers were some of the possible career paths for the Enkidu race. In Dominions 5 the Enkidus were given a nation influenced by Mesopotamian history. They had it in Trade & Taint as well, but in Dominions 4 it became more pronounced. After Dominions 4 was released we took up work on Trade & Taint again and ideas on the enkidus were developed. Last summer I found myself reading more on Sumerian cities and culture. The transfer of religious and temporal importance from Eridu to other cities during Sumerian times is an interesting process. Thus Uruk became the first new nation added in Dominions 5.

Hinnom is to some extent Sumerian, but I wanted the backstory of Ur to have a more Sumerian feel. I like the concept of a single center of civilization surrounded by lands inhabited by wild men roaming around tending goats and hunting game.

This led to the development of the mechanic where some of a nations units are recruitable, not in their home or fortresses, but in their surrounding lands. It gave the nation a troop rooster that accentuated the backstory of the nation. And of course they had to have sirrushes, the wingless dragons of the Ishtar Gate.

The nations’ shamans and bone readers are also influenced by some shamanistic concepts, Caananite ideas on veneration of the dead and probably a dose of some old RPGs.

Ur develops into Uruk in the middle age and get access to armaments of iron. The Ensi priest king of Eridu will see his power diminished as civilization spreads and Ensis of other cities claim temporal and religious authority. In this new era the Entu of the Moon, inspired by En Hedu’anna, the daughter of Sargon the Great, becomes the unifying power of the kingdom and Uruk turns into a theocracy.

Vanheim, Helheim, Niefelheim, Muspelheim, Jotunheim, Midgård, and Utgård

These are all nations sprung from old Norse myth. The Poetic Edda and some later tales, combined with general conceptions of Iron Age Scandinavia, are the main sources. Vanir, Aesir and Giants are ancient antagonists in these myths. The Aesir, being perceived as gods, have been made pretenders in Dominions. Not that Vanir weren’t, but they seem less so than the Aesir in most instances. As with most nations of supernatural origin, it seems fitting that their magic fades with each passing age as humans become more and more numerous.

Niefelheim, Muspelheim, Jotunheim, and Utgård are part of the history of a single nation through the ages. Vanheim, Helheim and Midgård also share a common ancestry and development. In the middle era Helheim merges with Vanheim and disappears as an independent nation. Only the valkyries remain as reminders of the legacy of Helheim.

Muspelheim was added in Domionons 6. I’ve wanted to make the nation for a long time, but haven’t had the tools or inspiration to finish the nation. I wanted to convey the idea presented in the creation of the world in norse myth, with the flames and heat from Muspelheim meeting the frost and ice of Niefelheim. In Dominions 6 new mechanics were added that allows a nation to prefer cold lands, while the capital is exempt from the effects of severe heat. Thus I could make Muspelheim a land of ash and flames ruled by fire giants, surrounded by icy lands inhabited by jotun giants.


Xibalba is a nation inspired by Mayan mythological concepts as expressed in the Mayan texts Popol Vuh and Chilam Balam. The Popol Vuh describes the creation of the world and other mythological concepts. It also tells of the hero twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqué and their travels to Xibalba, the Mayan underworld, through which the sun travels during the night. Ever since high school, when I first came across the pen-and-paper RPG Chill, and found a creature

named Camazotz, I’ve been intrigued by bat- gods and Mesoamerican myth. The bat-god was actually the first god made for Mictlan, when that nation appeared in Dominions 2. When I started to work on Xibalba it was clear from the beginning that it would be a Mayan nation of bat-people.

In the middle era Xibalba is flooded and toad people take over. Toads are important in Mesoamerican iconography and I wanted them to have a role in a Mayan nation. I also liked the idea of a nation that goes through heavy changes during the eras. Mesoamerican flood myths and concepts of the Bacab were used in conjunction with a slightly rewritten Atlantian backstory to fit the concept of a flooded underworld inhabited by Atlantian refugees.

Xibalba was also one of the first nations to get a national global spell based on its national backstory. The concept had been used when we remade the themes and carrion woods into a national spell, but we were never fond of how that worked out. The Xibalban Theft of the Sun along with the Agarthan Unleash Imprisoned Ones reintroduced the national global enchantments.

Yomi, Shinuyama and Jomon

These three nations are heavily influenced by Japanese history, folklore, and myth. The first of the three nations is an uncivilized nation of demonic brutes enslaving and eating humans and other races. They are replaced by Bakemonos, ghostly goblins of Japanese folklore of similar outlook, and finally the humans take control. The beings of Shinuyama are quite heavily influenced by the old pen-and-paper RPG Bushido, although some other sources on mythological beings such as Tengus and Kitsune have been used. Modern myth, such as the western idea of the ninja, also has a place in the late nation of Jomon.

In Dominions 5, I wanted to elaborate on Yomi and make the nation a bit more of a swarm-nation with demons entering this world in increasing numbers through demon gates raised by misled human priests.


Ys is based on Breton myths of the sunken city of Ys/Kêr-Is and morgen water spirits. To expand the nation I added some Irish/Welsh ideas of the merrow as well as the Marverni tribe of Kernou to give the nation an opportunity to establish coastal forts with their own unique units. I initially intended to merge the Ysian backstory with Marignon and add a Melusine morgen hero for that nation, but never got around to finish my ideas. It is not unlikely that Melusine and some other Ys/Marignon connections appear in upcoming Dominions 6 patches.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 519 Articles
Being a big gaming fan, I believe that I have a lot to share with other gamers. I got my first official job in the game industry in 2005 and continue to develop there. It's a true blessing when your passion, hobby, and job combine into something one. My favorite console is the Nintendo Switch. I think you can all guess why. Because I just bought a Steam Deck. I love playing on PC, but my main love for me will always be Xbox. Anyway, it's complicated and simple at the same time. After all, I'm back in the days of the ZX Spectrum (1994)…

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