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Dominion

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Image:Scroll2.png "As you know, there was a fool in the city of Rajaq who preached that each man could be master of his own kingdom. Fools flocked to fools until each was master and there were no more slaves. When the dust settled there were neither masters nor slaves, only bones."
- from the Treval Codex
Dominion
World magic
Full nameDominion
AvailabilityHighly restricted
Learned fromVery few users
Key conceptLinking physical world spaces with Ukalas spaces
UsesStorage, exploration, experimentation, and much more
RisksAll sorts of environmental hazards


Dominion (ancient tongue: Rok) is a discipline of world magic that links space in the physical world to space in the Ukalas, the metaphysical domain of the gods. The most immediate purpose of Dominion is to create vast amounts of space in much smaller volumes. Other uses include staking out portions of the Ukalas where reality follows fundamentally different laws, usually due to the influence of some deity. Dominion was once a lost discipline, erased by the gods following major abuse. It was recently recovered from oblivion, after the gods reached a more-or-less general agreement to enforce new rules preventing future abuse. The price for not following the rules is extremely steep.

Contents

History

The inventor of Dominion is not known. At some point in mankind's history, the gods (still not very familiar with human nature) entered some kind of arms race to empower men with stronger and stronger weapons, in turn winning over their loyalty and faith. One god, whose name has been swallowed in the mists of time, must have escalated the conflict by giving mankind the means to access the Ukalas for their own purposes. The god must have reasoned that each man would only take what he needed. The decision proved disastrous. Domineers, as the practitioners were called, founded empires of their own in the Ukalas, claiming thousands upon thousands of acres and driving slaves there to erect buildings in their honor. The very best even learned to bend the rules of Ukalas, causing the landscape itself to reshape according to their whims.

Occasionally, Domineers even waged wars in the Ukalas, but by and large there was no need to. One could simply claim more and more land and expand their territories in the seemingly boundless world of the gods. But, for all that the Ukalas seemed infinite, it was not. The gods found themselves becoming guests in their own sacred grounds. When they eventually decided humans had overstepped their boundaries, they acted swiftly. The more peaceful gods turned their eyes away while the more militant ones brought destruction upon Domineers and their empires. The god who gifted them with the magic was slain for his lack of foresight. Domineers were forced to lose their memories of the craft or die. Cities took to preemptively slaying them and displaying their heads on the walls to be spared from the fury of the gods and their agents.

Throughout history, after Dominion became a lost discipline, many tried to bring it back in some form. There was one who succeeded, shortly before the Valterrian. His name was Amir Berliotz, an Alahean mage whose unethical studies on the Chavi of long dead mages allowed him to recover just enough information to remake the art. He died shortly afterwards in a terrible overgiving incident that split his soul in ten parts. Whether his Dominion experiments had anything to do with his ultimate fate remains unknown. In the year 510 AV, adventurer Ialari Pythone finally recovered the knowledge from Berliotz's ghost(s), and the gods - who had since reached an agreement to reintroduce the discipline on a regulated basis - eventually spread the new Dominion across the world to signify a new beginning and lessons learned on both sides. Some speculate the gods may have further reasons, such as getting mortals to lend a hand in stabilizing the Ukalas, still gravely wounded after the Valterrian.

Overview

Dominion links physical space to space in the Ukalas. Depending on the Domineer's skill, a small amount of space in the real world can contain far greater Ukalas volumes. A beginner may only be able to fold space thusly by a factor 2:1 (meaning a one-foot cube in physical space could contain a two-foot cube of Ukalas space), a master can achieve ratios that are virtually unlimited.

Folded space can be recognized by its aura as well as by detection-based Gnosis marks such as Lykata. It is to be noted that the boundaries must be fixed upon the creation of these spatial links and are unchangeable: as such soft, leather "bags of holding" would quickly break and stop working as intended, whereas an iron "box of holding" would be a reliable piece of Dominion, at least until pierced or deformed past the magic's breaking point, forever severing the link.

Every item of Dominion has one-way 'doors' connecting inside and outside. These can be lids and covers, or actual doors for large, immoveable setups. Beginners are limited to a single door, whereas more advanced users can make several. The door is the only part of the Dominated space that won't break the magic when opened or removed. When looking through the open door, one sees through an equivalent portal existing on the other side. The result can be quite disconcerting to a brain used to "common" reality. One can reach all the way with one's arm into a box that's only six inches deep while holding the box with the other arm. The container's inner walls are nowhere to be seen, but remain visible on the outside. When the door is closed, there is no portal to be seen in Ukalas space, meaning that one can be trapped in the Ukalas. That is precisely the big advantage of having multiple doors. Also, when in the Ukalas, one would find that invisible barriers prevent from exploring further than the actual Dominated space (this is one of the new rules of Dominion).

The Domineer can place the Ukalas-side door in whatever orientation of his desire. For a box, the door is usually on the top side, so that any items put in fall down on the ground in predictable places. Gravity in the physical world does not affect items in Ukalas space, so no matter if the box is opened and held upside down, items will not fall back out. One has to actually put a hand in and reach for the item (or, at larger size differentials, go through the door and climb back out, possibly with the aid of a convenient staircase.) The container will weigh no more than as if it were empty. However, weight and mass being different things, strength is still required to pull out any heavy items from the inside.

Vouching

The single most important difference between the Dominion of old and the new discipline lies in the need for approval before a major plot of the Ukalas is staked out for Dominion purposes. First, the Domineer himself vouches for the spatial link upon creation. This means any piece of Dominion is at risk upon the death of the one who created it. If the Domineer dies (excluding his becoming undead, but including his becoming a ghost), the consequences are plain for everyone to see: the portion of Ukalas grows wild and rejects exploitation. Grass may turn to insidious weeds, land to mud, and a peaceful plot to one ripe with danger. As the condition only gets worse in time, it is generally advised to retrieve anything of importance stored in Ukalas space and forget about it when this happens. There is no telling what may be found, or lost, when next visiting. After a while, the link just breaks and the magic is lost. This is the first and foremost safeguard the gods put in place to keep Dominion under control. Experts and masters may be able to restore a dead mage's Dominion, but unless the place contains unique properties not to be found anywhere else, it is usually much safer to just start over elsewhere.

For larger works of Dominion, the Domineer's own vouching is no longer enough. A god - or, more likely, one with their gnosis - needs to vouch for the consumption of Ukalas space. By doing so, it is implied that the god would endorse the use of that space as somehow furthering their agenda (or in return for some favor that does.) Regardless of how many marks they carry, each person may only vouch for one work of Dominion at a time, and the oath taken cannot be severed except through their death, the collapse of that Dominion or the direct intervention of the patron deity. The last of these only happens rarely, because sticking to one's word is quite essential in divine politics to guarantee future deals. This does not prevent the god from visiting the marked for a 'debriefing' if the Dominion ended up being misused in ways that hurt the god himself. Hence, people should be very careful with their vouching. The Domineer can vouch for one of their works through their own marks, if they have any.

If a large Dominion loses divine vouching, it degenerates into wilderness just as if the creator had died. The creator can, however, seek replacement vouching before the Dominion collapses altogether, giving him months or a few years to accomplish the task. This is why a god granting their own vouching is the best case scenario: gods are also not limited to one Dominion, but they know better than to claim more than it is wise and they can revoke their backing as quickly as it is given.

The portion of Ukalas allotted through Gnosis backing may exhibit features and properties reminding of the god who is directly or indirectly vouching for it.

No divine vouching is required for Ukalas areas up to 500 square feet or about 46 square meters.

Marks Dominion size
1 mark area of roughly 2000 sq.ft
2 marks area of roughly 10000 sq.ft
3 marks area of roughly 50 acres
4 marks/God unlimited area, but depends on god's rank, motives and personal gain

Initiation

Dominion, unlike most world magic, does require initiation, albeit of a simple kind. A soul of insufficient magnitude (for better, worse or just for themselves) will not be able to pass this, making sure the gods do not have to suffer lesser people in their realm. Much like a Grand Oath, which reminds of Dominion in more ways than one, the would-be mage must recite a series of verses. Instead of a glyph, the mage is to paint a stylized door in their own blood while taking the Oath. The first part of the initiation rite is a password of sorts. It is mandatory and only revealed to trusted students by those who know it.

Ruwe q'ala daràq
kèshak simas sutlàs
daeq daeq'vat asag
Rok a'djas abasast!

Meaning, in the ancient tongue:

Up and down are the same,
space is the greatest lie,
I make and am made anew,
reborn in my Dominion!

The student is then expected to add a second part of their own, in prose or verse, stating why they intend to become a Domineer. The sheer force of their will determines whether they succeed, in which case their blood begins to glow and even boil. If they fail, they may yet succeed when stronger of will and more mature, though this is not very likely. Regardless, it is common for mages to use Hypnotism on a failed Domineer to make them forget the secret words. Some would resort to more drastic ways of ensuring the words do not fall into unworthy hands.

The Dominion process

Dominion, like Malediction, relies on words charged with meaning as well as craftsmanship to interact with the metaphysics of the Ukalas. Statements of intent are as important in the craft as the ability to use one's hands. First, the Domineer identifies the physical space to be enchanted, be it a wooden box, the inside of a birdhouse, a room in a mansion or an entire cave. Skill dictates how dramatic the size difference between real and Ukalas volumes can be; on top of that, there are obvious usability concerns such as making sure the door is large enough to allow entry. There is little reason for a 20-acre Dominion if the mage's arm is all that fits in the entrance.

Dominion takes a little manual craft. It resembles Malediction in the way do-it-yourself skills and a little artistry give the mage an edge. The inner volume should be as regular as possible. Usually, several coats of paint will be laid upon the walls before the next phase, in order to even out imperfections on the surface. As the walls become invisible after establishing the link, their actual appearance is irrelevant.

The Domineer will then identify all vertices and mark them with a different color. He will then take rulers or other tools for drawing straight lines, and begin to paint links between vertices. This paint is usually red and rich on iron compounds, as well as a drop of the Domineer's blood. The objective of this phase is to build a regular Djed force field encompassing the inside of the item. The intersections between the lines become new power spots to be connected in various ways. The final result will look like a mesh of regular lines, most of them straight but possibly some curved ones. Much is left to individual styles: masters have been known to create fractal patterns, spirals, and complex optical illusions. What matters is that the gaps between the lines do not exceed a couple inches or so. If the mage makes a mistake, it is best to white wash the entire thing and start over. Clearly, highly irregular places such as a cave pose far difficult challenges than a small box: however, the sides of the box may have to be painted separately and assembled at a later time.

At this point, the Domineer will stand in the area (or simply touch it if it's a small one) and recite an Oath of their choosing, stating that this is their will, and they vouch for the Dominion-to-be as their rightful creator. If the painted mesh glows briefly, then the Oath has been accepted. If divine vouching is required, the gnosis wielder will follow with an Oath of their own, stating something along the lines that they do this in their god's name, and may the god smile upon it. Similarly, brief glowing indicates successful completion of the Oath.

Finally, the Domineer clears the mind of all thought and, still standing in or against the space to be enchanted, slowly enters a state of trance in which they attain the briefest glimpse of the Ukalas. Meditation helps greatly in this endeavor. The greater the work, the more focus is required, ranging from chimes to entire days. The Domineer must not abandon their place, or the process will fail, invalidating the Oaths in the process. As a spark of enlightenment lights the mage's mind, the Dominion comes into existence. The mage has no choice over what kind of scenery they are faced with, though advanced users can subtly start shaping it later on.

Doors

Dominion doors are one way only. A door may open from the outside, or it may open from the inside, but not both. Novices are limited to one door, which will invariably open from the outside and present the risk of getting locked in. Competent users can work with up to two doors; they can either add another secret entrance from the outside or an emergency exit from the inside in the event of trouble brewing while in the Dominion. Experts and masters have no limitations and may want to add both varieties of doors. It is simply impossible to force a door open the wrong way, even for ethereal creatures. Should the door be destroyed from the wrong side, nothing will happen in the best case; in the worst, the Dominion will be severed.

In most cases, any peculiar atmospheric effect from the Dominion will not cross a door, even one that opens from the inside. There is strong metaphysical pressure keeping the two realities separate. However, masters can achieve this effect by their incredible folding skill, and in doing so they can unleash Ukalas blessings and curses upon their surroundings, themselves included.

The physical locations of doors in physical space is not necessarily reflected in the placement of their Dominion-side counterparts. The only constraint is that any door must be the same size on both sides. Two doors could be side-by-side in reality, but open on the opposite sides of a Dominion as well as any point in the middle. Sometimes this is exploited to some strategic advantage, but it can be confusing to watch if more than one door is open at the same time. The same object could then be visible at different angles from the two openings. It is possible to create clever shortcuts through space by this method. For example, a long corridor can be quickly bridged by Dominating it and associating its extremities with closely placed Ukalas doors.

The final use for doors is in the creation of joint Dominions by several mages, as described in the next section.

Collaborative Dominions

It is possible for several Domineers to collaborate on a project, thus reducing the time and effort it takes to complete as well as increase its maximum size. These are actually several Dominions linked together. Each Domineer works on their own and simply have doors in physical as well Ukalas space overlap to connect them together seamlessly. These doors are like invisible joints and are not used for traveling: visitors in the Ukalas will not notice them. All Domineers involved will then recite the same oath to bind the Dominions together. Usual limits apply to each Dominion individually, meaning that two users could craft 1,000 square feet in total without divine oaths instead of the usual 500. At least one user needs to be competent or above. Even if two novices join forces, they can only make a single door each: if they bind those doors together to merge their Dominions, there are no doors left for actually getting in and out.

Joint Dominions will decay individually following normal rules. Partially ruined Dominions are dangerous, unstable and generally unpredictable places to be. Joining Dominions backed by oaths from opposing gods, assuming one can even obtain the oaths, is ill-advised unless one is specifically seeking a highly conflicted environment.

Dominion and other magic

For the most part, Dominion exists parallel to other magic but rarely mixes with it. A Dominion container can be the product of magic - for example a Magecrafted item or one with Glyphing or Shielding work done on it (for example to prevent entry to undesirables) - but it will not affect the nature of Ukalas space. Magic can enhance the outside of the box, not the inside.

Dominion shaping

Competent users and above can alter some, but not all, features of a Dominion to make them better fit their purposes. In order to commune with a Dominion, the mage must spend considerable time there, especially at the lower levels. By just living there, breathing its air, and sharing thoughts with the environments, the wizard's nature will slowly influence the land upon which they stand. The changes do not appear to be the outcome of godlike powers: castles won't rise from a swamp (mages have to build their own houses like everyone else), and trees won't start growing with magical swords hanging from their limbs. A Competent mage might be able to adjust temperature, humidity and the wind to a degree. An Expert will manage to insert elements from their own mindset - an orderly individual may turn wild vegetation into a self-tending vegetable garden, whereas the opposite character could incite dramatic weather changes or rampant tree growth. Masters have the most control, and their Dominion itself will seemingly obey their wishes, assaulting unwelcome intruders on their behalf.

It should be noted that spending a long time in the Ukalas has unknown long-term consequences. Just as the Domineer affects the world around, the opposite also holds true.

Hazards

The Ukalas is still very unstable following the Valterrian, when Ivak came very close to destroying it. Syna and Leth are still leaking souls from their domains under the form of Ethaefal. This is by far not the only example of how the fabric of reality is still suffering. Domineers must be prepared to defend their Dominion from all kinds of threats: the bigger their realm, the more is at stake, the greater the possibility of something going wrong. Shifting atmospheric conditions and landscapes, random dimensional tearing, subtle transformation and decay, or even invasion by creatures and forces not entirely well understood must be taken into account.

To gauge the condition of a Dominion before actually stepping in is crucial to managing larger estates. If the Domineer is unsure how to face a crisis affecting their Dominion, it is probably better to just scrap it and restart elsewhere. It is said that what separates a good Domineer from a great one is superior risk management and a big-picture view of their Dominions. In general, other skills may be required to bring a Dominion back under control when threatened. An invasion may be dealt with by just slaying the squatters. A dimensional tear must probably be patched with powerful magic, and even that is likely just a temporary stopgap. Changes in the laws of reality will require adaptation and ingenuity to keep thriving under different conditions.

Skill progression

Novice (1-25)
The novice Domineer is little more than an ant in the Ukalas' eyes. His space folding abilities are modest, meaning that his folding ratio cannot exceed 2:1 (a one-foot cube of physical space will not contain more than a two-foot cube of Ukalas space.) Since the novice may not use divine vouching, he is limited to about 500 square feet maximum of Ukalas space in a single Dominion. His works are quite fragile and tend to malfunction upon receiving damage. He has absolutely no control over Dominated space and it is not uncommon for him to be rejected by Ukalas areas.
Competent (26-50)
Having acquired more experience, the Domineer has formed a tighter relationship with the Ukalas. He can accomplish a folding ratio of 5:1 with relative ease, but can push his creations up to 10:1 with greater effort and taking more risks. At this level a simple box could make a spacious container. He can add a second door to the Dominion, and the magic has grown a little more robust, as well. The competent Domineer can channel minor divine oaths consisting of a single gnosis mark; with such an asset, he can therefore stake out Dominion plots of up to 2,000 square feet, easily enough to build a mansion in. He can affect his Dominated land in minor ways, such as making adjustments to weather conditions and the general 'mood' of the place, provided he spends some time in the Dominion.
Expert (51-75)
An expert has become familiar with the subtleties of connecting and folding space. He can add unlimited entrances to a Dominion. He can also "upgrade" an old Dominion, adding more space through more efficient folding and even switching an oath out for a more powerful one. He can also try and repossess the Dominion of a dead mage in the same way. Modifications are relatively easy to perform on his own Dominions, but much more difficult on those belonging to another. He can only strengthen or broaden a Dominion, never weaken or shrink it. His folding skills are remarkable, easily attaining 25:1 but managing even 50:1 under pressure. He can channel divine oaths up to three marks, for areas up to 50 acres if he can obtain the backing. He has remarkable empathy with his Dominions, and will usually intuitively know if something strange is going on in one of them. He can 'train' a Dominion (to a degree) with his will over time. By promoting the aspects he likes and curbing those he does not, he can apply the Dominion version of the carrot and stick.
Master (76-100)
A master Domineer is a force the likes of which caused major turmoil in the past, leading to the discipline's sundering. He is unlimited in all regards, with his folding ratio being able to rise into the thousands with no theoretical bounds. He can accept divine ratios of all magnitudes, including those from the gods themselves. His works of Dominion are a marvel to behold. The effects of Ukalas space can even bleed out to physical space when the door is open, empowering the craft with countless creative uses. His Dominions will often heed his words, turning against invaders out of sheer loyalty. All the same, his Dominions are often under attack for one reason or another, and as such he must protect them carefully.


Part of a series of articles on Magic
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Lost Disciplines Architectrix · Dominion · Pathfinding · Static · Sensing
Other Antimagic · Paramagic · Wizard psychology