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Dominion of the Black - Pulling more from H.R. Giger than Lovecraft


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Between Distant Worlds, Mass Effect, a sizable amount of excitement over seeing Ridley Scott and H. R. Giger collaborating again, and some recent and very uncomfortable dreams, this crossed my mind.

Instead of tying the Dominion of the Black into the Lovecraft Mythos, is anyone else going with a different approach with them? Just some half-formed thoughts here, but....

Kind of imagining them with a bit of the Reaper's MO: Inscrutible beings lurking in dark space who manipulate the inhabitants of starlit worlds(be they living organics, undead, or mechanical) and periodically harvest them. But that's where the similarities mostly end. Mostly, their actual goals, methods, and philosophy are things words fail to capture. But a certain eccentric Swiss artist with his own night terrors as his muse can.

Look at their ships as seen in Distant Worlds. What if, instead of being a singular organism serving as a living starship, they were composed of an amalgam of beings from different species from different worlds. All of them broken and/or engineered almost beyond recognition, seamlessly melded with technology and fused together, all with their wills bent in subservient madness to the Dominion, all to form one terrible machine. Victims of the Dominion typically aren't given the luxury of death. They lose almost all that they are save for what the Dominion wishes to keep, and are taken and made a part of the Dominion's very flesh.

That ship in Distant Worlds isn't one being. It's many. All pressed and fused together into one behemoth of flesh and metal and shackled to the will of uncaring masters. No two ships look exactly alike, though there is an unsettling regularity to their symmetry. One ship's hull might be lined with humanoids fused with black steel and tubes, the limbs of converted spellcasters swaying and summoning protective wards to protect the rest of the hull's relatively delicate arms/manipulators from debris impact. Another ship could be using two converted oma as twin thrusters.

This is actually how the Dominion reproduces and evolves. Whatever aspects other beings may possess that they envy they make their own. They might encourage whatever race and/or culture catches their attention to continue to evolve along lines that strengthen these desired traits, allowing their victims to "ripen" or replenish the stock.

They're never about wiping out life. Not about killing for the sake of killing. Any (probably horrible) death they cause has to be a (probably horrible) source of new (probably horrible) life in their eyes. Life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on death, so to speak.

We know the Dominion of the Black has probable connections to the abomination-planet Aucturn, which has a horrifying tendency to induce mutations in visiting life forms. Then there's The Loving Place, which beyond the obvious badness is probably a hotspot for new and exciting perversions of organic life. And the subsuming of TLP's inhabitants' minds to its horrific mating cycles might as well be a warm-up for the regulated bio-mechanized version awaiting them or their descendants once the Dominion farms them for parts. Perhaps the Dominion-claimed beings can still reproduce after conversion. Perhaps they can't and the sole reason for such configurations is so that the Dominion can experience something that's otherwise unknown to them.

Then there's the Aballonians and the mystery of their original creators. Could the Dominion have had a hand in their creation, with both factions of the Aballonians in fact veering away from their originally intended purpose of being a self-renewing source of mechanical components to regularly harvest? Or perhaps the Dominion was something that happened to their creators, hence why they've been gone so long?

Then there's the Osirion connection. Besides getting their foot in the door and having an entire civilization possibly co-opted to possibly have a sizable population to regularly sample, Osirion's rise after the Age of Darkness may have also been something to invest in as far as bringing humanity safely back from the brink of extinction.

Why do the Dominion do any of this? Perhaps it's the only way they can be capable of change and evolution? Perhaps they're sense-freaks. Maybe they're a combination of both, essentially being a sort of alien version of kytons? Perhaps it's best to leave that as an unknown and only confront players with the effects of their passing through the solar system?

edit-Noting bolded words. Oh cra-

Taldor RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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Yes, thousand times yes! MUCH better than tired old Lovecraft. That is gold, right here!


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Very interesting! The Dominion of the Black as a (possibly) more disinterested form of the Borg.

And kind of scary, to think of what Dou-Bral could have encountered in the depths of space that turned him into Zon-Kuthon.

Osirion

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Mikaze wrote:
Why do the Dominion do any of this? Perhaps it's the only way they can be capable of change and evolution?

Perhaps they feel that they *have* to adapt to space-going forms that can hide in the dark places between the stars, after having experienced the destruction of the worlds that birthed them, and realized that planets aren't forever and that death watches and waits within the hearts of the stars.

Only the dark places are safe, and they gather there, in the cold empty places, and sing to each other songs of worlds long destroyed by the angrybeautiful everchanging patterns of light and energy that dance fractal dances within the burning hearts of the watchful stars, waiting for their chance to soar forth on chariots of fire and plasma, to scorch and cleanse and purify the universe of uglycrude matter and impure flesh.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The Dark Tapestry was always intended to hold more than Lovecraftian terrors. And just because the Dominion of the Black comes from the dark tapestry doesn't mean it's from Lovecraft. Geiger's a great choice for inspiration for the Dominion, although I should point out that Lovecraft is a significant source of inspiration for Geiger (he did an art book called Necronomicon, after all!), so if we DO use Geiger... that's only Lovecraft one step removed... :P

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Was Giger's Necronomicon specifically Lovecraft-inspired? I know there's the name, but I always got more of a kinda-sorta Ars Goetia-by-way-of-aliens vibe from it, but then again the only art I know of that specifically came from that book was the piece with Baphomet. (probably should pick it up one day, but the idea of that and Barlowe's Inferno art book being near each other in my house makes me incredibly uncomfortable on a deep and primal level) D:

The notion that you guys might actually pull in some Giger-influence for the Dominion is incredibly exciting and terrifying btw :D

Bellona wrote:

Very interesting! The Dominion of the Black as a (possibly) more disinterested form of the Borg.

And kind of scary, to think of what Dou-Bral could have encountered in the depths of space that turned him into Zon-Kuthon.

Maybe Dou-Bral and whatever became the Dominion encountered the same thing? Or different aspects of the same thing?

Set wrote:


Perhaps they feel that they *have* to adapt to space-going forms that can hide in the dark places between the stars, after having experienced the destruction of the worlds that birthed them, and realized that planets aren't forever and that death watches and waits within the hearts of the stars.

Only the dark places are safe, and they gather there, in the cold empty places, and sing to each other songs of worlds long destroyed by the angrybeautiful everchanging patterns of light and energy that dance fractal dances within the burning hearts of the watchful stars, waiting for their chance to soar forth on chariots of fire and plasma, to scorch and cleanse and purify the universe of uglycrude matter and impure flesh.

You know....this really gives off some Nidal-in-space vibes. That is, it possibly takes the philosophy and rational behind Nidal and applies it on a much wider scale.

Maybe the horrible things they do are their way of "saving" their victims? Preserving them in the cold and dark after they've been refined to perfection.

I have to admit I'm having an easier time looking at these guys and focusing on "style over substance" so to speak, pulling from dreams and focusing on visuals more than solid facts and motives.

Currently imagining a formerly human "emissary". Draped in a cloak of black skin/rubber and bone/chitin from the neck down. No arms. From its shoulders sprouts a biomechanical arm, tubes running along its length. In its long fingered hand is the detached emissary's head, with those tubes running into it and keeping it alive. Skin's pale, cold, clammy, white-as-bone Head's partially coated in metal. Eyes are alight with a sharp, judgmental intelligence, but the arm seems to move its head around of its own will, as if the emissary is it's puppet despite its air of authority. Its voice sounds both harmonious and like the buzzing of insects. If it ever becomes hostile, the cloak parts and the rest of its body unfurls...


Now, I want to reread, er, review my ARH+ album.


To be honest, I've been looking for an alternative to Lovecraft in the Dark Tapestry in general. I have to say that I love - I LOVE - the creatures that have been taken from the Dream Cycle and the less Mythos-heavy stuff. Gugs, Denizens of Leng, Hounds of Tindalos. I love those guys. Never could completely get comfortable with the Outer Gods and Great Old ones, though (with a couple of exceptions). Honestly, to me the former seem so much more subtle and sinister. In my games, I've been replacing a lot of the in-your-face style maddening elements with the qlippoth whenever I can (I've even made Shub-Niggurath into a sort of "qlippoth lord" in my games), but those are extraplanar creatures from the edge of the multiverse, not from space, which leaves me with the question of what exactly to do with the Dark Tapestry, and Giger-inspired creatures seems like a fantastic start!


Somehow this idea, that the Dominion of Black is trying to help along evolution whether sentients want it or not, kind of reminds me of the Shadows from Babylon 5. The Shadows were all about creating conflict to spur on evolution via survival of the fittest, and had their own servitor races to help them in their plans. They also were big into organic technology.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mikaze wrote:
Was Giger's Necronomicon specifically Lovecraft-inspired? I know there's the name, but I always got more of a kinda-sorta Ars Goetia-by-way-of-aliens vibe from it, but then again the only art I know of that specifically came from that book was the piece with Baphomet. (probably should pick it up one day, but the idea of that and Barlowe's Inferno art book being near each other in my house makes me incredibly uncomfortable on a deep and primal level) D:

You don't accidentally name a book "Necronomicon." I can't envision any reason or reality where this book WASN'T Lovecraft inspired. The book was certainly responsible for Ridley Scott hiring Giger to work on Alien, in fact... which means that Alien itself is Lovecraft inspired... even BEFORE you factor into things that the writer of Alien, Dan O'Bannon, is enough of a Lovecraft fan that he actually directed a movie based on a Lovecraft story (said movie is one of the best and most faithful adaptations we've got yet... "The Resurrected," based on "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward"), all gives some really STRONG support that Alien is a Lovecraftian movie as well.

Which should more or less be apparent simply by watching the movie, I say.

In any event... Lovecraft's influence is a lot more far-reaching than just monsters with tentacles.


martinaj wrote:
In my games, I've been replacing a lot of the in-your-face style maddening elements with the qlippoth whenever I can (I've even made Shub-Niggurath into a sort of "qlippoth lord" in my games), but those are extraplanar creatures from the edge of the multiverse, not from space, which leaves me with the question of what exactly to do with the Dark Tapestry, and Giger-inspired creatures seems like a fantastic start!

The qlippoth always struck me as being very Lovecraft inspired. They're ancient, alien things from a time before the current universe. They're from outside of mortal existence and understanding.

And they're choked full of tentacles.

That's part of the fun with Lovecraft. You'd be shocked by just how much influence he has had on modern horror and culture.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
The Dark Tapestry was always intended to hold more than Lovecraftian terrors. And just because the Dominion of the Black comes from the dark tapestry doesn't mean it's from Lovecraft. Geiger's a great choice for inspiration for the Dominion, although I should point out that Lovecraft is a significant source of inspiration for Geiger (he did an art book called Necronomicon, after all!), so if we DO use Geiger... that's only Lovecraft one step removed... :P

I've always thought of Lovecraft for story and Giger for complementary artwork.

Andoran

James Jacobs wrote:
all gives some really STRONG support that Alien is a Lovecraftian movie as well.

Have you check out the book "The Cult of Alien Gods: H. P. Lovecraft and Extraterrestrial Pop Culture" by Jason Colavito? The thesis statement would be "H.P. Lovecraft's concepts, by way of things like Ancient Alien theories, are incredibly pervasive in our popular culture.

This is the kind of realization that clinches it for me.


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James Jacobs wrote:


In any event... Lovecraft's influence is a lot more far-reaching than just monsters with tentacles.

There's a reason the Asylum in Batman is called Arkham. It's the same reason it seems to create more crazies than it cures.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I really need to get that Distant Worlds book. Hey, my birthday is next month...!

Taldor RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Hey, I never said lovecraft wasn't influential. It is just that (unlike Howards), I personally find the works that were inspired by his writing much better than the original material. Not only has a lot of it not aged well at all (a certain cat can't even be named on this board), but later writers have smoothed over the plainly ridiculous, and used the horrifying parts to much better effect.

Giger in particular has introduced a sexuality into the horror that Lovecraft never would have dared. His horror stems as much from the uncontrollable urges within oneself as from any external threat. So yes. Modern horror storytelling owes something to Lovecraft - but it also owes a lot to the bible, and I don't see a lot of "X begat Y and lived 949 more years, begetting sons and daughters" in current literature.


What you describe would be artificial selection.

You don't like the loving place Mikaze? You don't want to play the off spring that was spirited away from the planet before it join in the cycle?

Shadow Lodge

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TerraNova wrote:
Hey, I never said lovecraft wasn't influential. It is just that (unlike Howards), I personally find the works that were inspired by his writing much better than the original material. Not only has a lot of it not aged well at all (a certain cat can't even be named on this board), but later writers have smoothed over the plainly ridiculous, and used the horrifying parts to much better effect.

I'd have to strongly disagree. I've found that most (95%) of the other writers who have tried to incorporate elements of the Mythos have utterly failed, and even the remaining 5% are generally quite inferior to Lovecraft himself.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
TerraNova wrote:
Hey, I never said lovecraft wasn't influential. It is just that (unlike Howards), I personally find the works that were inspired by his writing much better than the original material. Not only has a lot of it not aged well at all (a certain cat can't even be named on this board), but later writers have smoothed over the plainly ridiculous, and used the horrifying parts to much better effect.
I'd have to strongly disagree. I've found that most (95%) of the other writers who have tried to incorporate elements of the Mythos have utterly failed, and even the remaining 5% are generally quite inferior to Lovecraft himself.

+1

Cheliax

Dotting for when I get home

Andoran

The Alien Xenomorph I believe is based on a work of Giger's called the Demon, which has the classic biomechanical look but also has black eyes in its skull. I think that the story goes something like Scott thought that the Alien creature would be even more terrifying if it was blind.
Demon Image.

Cheliax

Nikolaus Athas wrote:

The Alien Xenomorph I believe is based on a work of Giger's called the Demon, which has the classic biomechanical look but also has black eyes in its skull. I think that the story goes something like Scott thought that the Alien creature would be even more terrifying if it was blind.

Demon Image.

And thus he gave us an endless supply of subsequent creatures, all with no eyes and piano-key grins. Everything from Phyrexians to Slake Months have that setup.

Drawing on Geiger for the visual moteifs of the Dominion sounds pretty good. I can also imagine them using some other messed-up stuff, maybe...bioconstructs? sort of like the various kinds of Husks the reapers use? Fungus robots?


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Kthulhu wrote:
TerraNova wrote:
Hey, I never said lovecraft wasn't influential. It is just that (unlike Howards), I personally find the works that were inspired by his writing much better than the original material. Not only has a lot of it not aged well at all (a certain cat can't even be named on this board), but later writers have smoothed over the plainly ridiculous, and used the horrifying parts to much better effect.
I'd have to strongly disagree. I've found that most (95%) of the other writers who have tried to incorporate elements of the Mythos have utterly failed, and even the remaining 5% are generally quite inferior to Lovecraft himself.

Oh, how wrong you are, my friend. For all the good that the idea that "cosmic horror," a genre spawned by Lovecraft, has done for modern science fiction and horror, Lovecraft himself was, in fact, a pretty mediocre writer. At the very least, you have to admit he was remarkably inconsistent, had little regard for the concept of single effect (vital to a short story), and wasn't that great with description. Yes, yes, I know you're all going to outraged at these blasphemies, but every time I read Lovecraft, ESPECIALLY his Mythos stories, it seems that everything is scary because he tells you it's scary, not because he actually writes in a way that is at all frightening. The Dunwhich Horror? The Thing on the Doorstep? The oh-so-vaunted Call of Cthulhu? Yawn. Give me The Rats in the Walls. Give me Pickman's model. THOSE are the scary stories. I love the idea of cosmic horror, and the Mythos is an excellent springboard, and leads to some cool idea, but taken as-is, it is poison. Many of Lovecraft's later works, which are sadly his most popular in contemporary culture, bleed narcissism. The man was in love with the lore he'd created, and assumed the brilliance in it was self-evident, which he used to justify sloppy, masturbatory writing filled with shortcuts.

Tobias wrote:

The qlippoth always struck me as being very Lovecraft inspired. They're ancient, alien things from a time before the current universe. They're from outside of mortal existence and understanding.

And they're choked full of tentacles.

That's part of the fun with Lovecraft. You'd be shocked by just how much influence he has had on modern horror and culture.

I agree entirely, but I feel that just because something makes for good inspiration doesn't mean we need to use exactly what inspired us. I think that, within the world of Pathfinder, the qlippoth fill the role in question here much better than actual Mythos monsters. To me, they just mesh better with everything we've already got in place. The qlippoth and the Mythos creatures are redundant - only one is required, and the qlippoth don't put as much pressure (for me) on the fourth wall.

Cheliax

martinaj wrote:
I agree entirely, but I feel that just because something makes for good inspiration doesn't mean we need to use exactly what inspired us. I think that, within the world of Pathfinder, the qlippoth fill the role in question here much better than actual Mythos monsters. To me, they just mesh better with everything we've already got in place. The qlippoth and the Mythos creatures are redundant - only one is required, and the qlippoth don't put as much pressure (for me) on the fourth wall.

You've touched on something there.

While it's very nifty and kitchen-sinky and all those things, I have to admit that the various extraplanar horrors like the Quippoth/Obyrith (especially since the Abyss is now the fundamental "Outside" of the planes) kind of devalue/are devalued by the material-plane horrors of the Outer Gods. Paizo did a good job of justifying their existence, and I think that the Mythos elements fit in really well with the conventional universe, but they make the various outer planes feel...small. Quaint. Limited.

Back in 3.5, you had the Far Realm, which was a great way to mesh the lovecraftian "Outside" with the conventional planar cosmology and heroic fantasy genre of the game. But since there's no catch-all Horrible Place that's completely outside the conventional planar cosmology, and may in fact be far more representative of the greater nature of reality than the Great Wheel, you have to go back to material-plane-bound beings that partially exist outside reality alltogether (not extraplanar) with names like Yob-Sodoff, which render the Quippoth redundant.

Of course, nothing stops you from leaving out the mythos stuff and sticking to the usual abyssal/infernal/daemonic ultimate evil enemies.

Shadow Lodge

martinaj wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
TerraNova wrote:
Hey, I never said lovecraft wasn't influential. It is just that (unlike Howards), I personally find the works that were inspired by his writing much better than the original material. Not only has a lot of it not aged well at all (a certain cat can't even be named on this board), but later writers have smoothed over the plainly ridiculous, and used the horrifying parts to much better effect.
I'd have to strongly disagree. I've found that most (95%) of the other writers who have tried to incorporate elements of the Mythos have utterly failed, and even the remaining 5% are generally quite inferior to Lovecraft himself.
Oh, how wrong you are, my friend. For all the good that the idea that "cosmic horror," a genre spawned by Lovecraft, has done for modern science fiction and horror, Lovecraft himself was, in fact, a pretty mediocre writer. At the very least, you have to admit he was remarkably inconsistent, had little regard for the concept of single effect (vital to a short story), and wasn't that great with description. Yes, yes, I know you're all going to outraged at these blasphemies, but every time I read Lovecraft, ESPECIALLY his Mythos stories, it seems that everything is scary because he tells you it's scary, not because he actually writes in a way that is at all frightening. The Dunwhich Horror? The Thing on the Doorstep? The oh-so-vaunted Call of Cthulhu? Yawn. Give me The Rats in the Walls. Give me Pickman's model. THOSE are the scary stories. I love the idea of cosmic horror, and the Mythos is an excellent springboard, and leads to some cool idea, but taken as-is, it is poison. Many of Lovecraft's later works, which are sadly his most popular in contemporary culture, bleed narcissism. The man was in love with the lore he'd created, and assumed the brilliance in it was self-evident, which he used to justify sloppy, masturbatory writing filled with shortcuts.

Well, I'm glad you're here to set me straight on what my preferences are.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Rusty Shackleford wrote:
martinaj wrote:
I agree entirely, but I feel that just because something makes for good inspiration doesn't mean we need to use exactly what inspired us. I think that, within the world of Pathfinder, the qlippoth fill the role in question here much better than actual Mythos monsters. To me, they just mesh better with everything we've already got in place. The qlippoth and the Mythos creatures are redundant - only one is required, and the qlippoth don't put as much pressure (for me) on the fourth wall.

You've touched on something there.

While it's very nifty and kitchen-sinky and all those things, I have to admit that the various extraplanar horrors like the Quippoth/Obyrith (especially since the Abyss is now the fundamental "Outside" of the planes) kind of devalue/are devalued by the material-plane horrors of the Outer Gods. Paizo did a good job of justifying their existence, and I think that the Mythos elements fit in really well with the conventional universe, but they make the various outer planes feel...small. Quaint. Limited.

Back in 3.5, you had the Far Realm, which was a great way to mesh the lovecraftian "Outside" with the conventional planar cosmology and heroic fantasy genre of the game. But since there's no catch-all Horrible Place that's completely outside the conventional planar cosmology, and may in fact be far more representative of the greater nature of reality than the Great Wheel, you have to go back to material-plane-bound beings that partially exist outside reality alltogether (not extraplanar) with names like Yob-Sodoff, which render the Quippoth redundant.

Of course, nothing stops you from leaving out the mythos stuff and sticking to the usual abyssal/infernal/daemonic ultimate evil enemies.

You don't seem to understand something. You think that the Abyss or Abbadon or the like is the biggest source of true horror in the multiverse, and you're working off that assumption.

It's not.

The Prime Material Plane is that place. True, there are small bastions of sanity such as Golarion, but unlike in the banal Planescape, the Outer Planes are the ones that are insignificant compared to the vast power and terrible horrors contained within the same plane that your character dwell within.


Kthulhu wrote:
martinaj wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
TerraNova wrote:
Hey, I never said lovecraft wasn't influential. It is just that (unlike Howards), I personally find the works that were inspired by his writing much better than the original material. Not only has a lot of it not aged well at all (a certain cat can't even be named on this board), but later writers have smoothed over the plainly ridiculous, and used the horrifying parts to much better effect.
I'd have to strongly disagree. I've found that most (95%) of the other writers who have tried to incorporate elements of the Mythos have utterly failed, and even the remaining 5% are generally quite inferior to Lovecraft himself.
Oh, how wrong you are, my friend. For all the good that the idea that "cosmic horror," a genre spawned by Lovecraft, has done for modern science fiction and horror, Lovecraft himself was, in fact, a pretty mediocre writer. At the very least, you have to admit he was remarkably inconsistent, had little regard for the concept of single effect (vital to a short story), and wasn't that great with description. Yes, yes, I know you're all going to outraged at these blasphemies, but every time I read Lovecraft, ESPECIALLY his Mythos stories, it seems that everything is scary because he tells you it's scary, not because he actually writes in a way that is at all frightening. The Dunwhich Horror? The Thing on the Doorstep? The oh-so-vaunted Call of Cthulhu? Yawn. Give me The Rats in the Walls. Give me Pickman's model. THOSE are the scary stories. I love the idea of cosmic horror, and the Mythos is an excellent springboard, and leads to some cool idea, but taken as-is, it is poison. Many of Lovecraft's later works, which are sadly his most popular in contemporary culture, bleed narcissism. The man was in love with the lore he'd created, and assumed the brilliance in it was self-evident, which he used to justify sloppy, masturbatory writing filled with shortcuts.
Well, I'm glad you're here to set me straight on what my preferences are.

I'm not telling you your preferences, I'm providing you with mine, along with an explanation to validate them. Perhaps next time you'd prefer a counterargument instead of turning around and accusing me doing exactly the same thing you are one post later.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

So, about a year and several nightmares later... still sticking a bit with style over substance here

The Dominion of the Black is comprised of a multitude of beings from countless worlds and other points of origin. The following examples are a small fraction of those entities born from their contact with the Golarion's solar system.

The Converts - The touch of the Dominion can be infectious, and the Converts are a textbook example of the methodology they use to conquer, reproduce, and create new forms of life.

While entire worlds have been transfigured by this plague, the Dominion typically limits their targetting of population centers with surgically precise parameters, typically when they have further plans for a species beyond immediate conquest and conversion. Other times, they seem content to simply let unintended contact between Converts and other species happen as they may. This too can result in new forms of life not entirely planned by the Dominion, which they study, catalogue, assimilate, and weaponize as they see fit.

"Convert" is a general catch-all term for the various beings absorbed by one of the Dominions biomechanical weapons, and carries a dark double meaning: Not only are living beings infected by the Dominion converted to new and terrible forms, but their new and alien mindset is also fanatically devoted to the Dominion or whatever entities the Dominion serves even as they don't fully comprehend what they worship.

While the various forms of the conversion process can target any living being, down to the microscopic level, the following is restricted to instances born from humanoid victims.

The point of origin for a conversion outbreak are typically Dominion-manufactured deployment systems, which can take many forms such as "eggs", airborne seeding, and living biomechanical constructs designed specifically to hunt and convert humanoid victims. These can also begin with some forms of inert Converts, which will be touched upon later.

Whether the initial infection is subtle or violent, the victim is generally left seemingly unharmed save for any trauma induced by their infection method. The speed of their conversion varies depending upon both their method of infection and their own physiology, but the process generally follows the following pattern:

  • Initial infection. The victim is seemingly unchanged, but now carries a biomechanical "egg"(or many of the same) within their body. This instrusive entity will eventually attatch itself to the victims central nervous system or the most appropriate analagous organs.

  • Mental conversion begins. The victim tyupically suffers from hallucinations and alien compulsions that grow in intensity as the process continues.

  • Internal conversion begins. The victim's central nervous system become physically compromised. External symptoms begin to manifest, typically in ways that can be mistaken for natural maladies but sometimes resulting in unnatural deformities and growths. Life signs become erratic.

  • Mental integrity continues to become compromised, followed by infection of the soul. Victim's have often been reported as hearing "the voice of the Black" calling to them to answer in turn. The few interviews/interrogations that have been carried out imply that they feel compelled to both wait to hear a message from an unknown entity and to make others of their kind capable of hearing the same. At this point, victims typically begin to become dangerous to those around them.

  • Internal physical conversion continues. The central nervous system is fully converted. Life signs cease, but the victim remains animate. A Convert's body at this point might be classified as an undead "shell", while the living biomechanical portion remains growing inside. Only the strongest willed victims are able to resist become dangerous to others during this state. Most become outright hostile. Converts in this state don't register any pain from any damage done to their fleshy "shell". At this point, the victim's soul has been fully compromised and bent to the Dominion's will.

    NOTE: from this point until final emergence, total destruction unliving flesh will not kill the internal Convert organism, but it will prevent it from reaching complete maturity. This entity can still be deadly even in this lessened state.

  • Degradation of old rejected flesh continues as the Convert continues to grow and assimilate what organs it will keep in its final form.

  • The Convert finally matures and emerges from what remains of its old flesh, which finally buckles and tears away from its new biomechanical form.

    These forms typically reflect their original symmetry with a wide range of variance depending on many factors both known and unquantified. Generally, all appear as black or dark-colored entities whose skin seems to be a combination of metal, chitin, and leather-tough skin. External tubes and ports are commonplace, as these beings develop to be modularly compatible with both other creationso fthe Dominion(which allows them to configure themselves into other amalgamated forms) and to enable them to be integrated into Dominion techonology or architecture. Facial features range from dark reflections of their original faces to partially exposed metallic skulls to entirely alien transfigurations, often combining these variations with results that witnesses have described alternately as repulsive or upsettingly alluring.

    The total time for conversion can range from minutes to weeks, depending on the source and potency of the infection.

    Completed converts also have fully developed methods of infecting others, often integrated into one or more of their natural attacks.

    Research has concluded that matured Converts retain memories and aspects of their original personalities, though they have been completely turned towards the Dominion's will. Psychic contact with such Converts has led some to postulate that many of these unfortunate souls may still be fully internally aware of what has happened to them yet remain powerless to resist the compulsions that drive them towards alien ends.

    Converts are effectively immortal unless killed through violence or accident. They remain independantly functional until they are either "harvested" by other Dominion entities(to assimilate and integrate either into themselves, their technology and architecture, or their ships) or by becoming "inert". Converts become inert either when there is nothing left to convert, no tasks left for them to complete for the Dominion by themselves, or when no Dominion forces are nearby to repurpose them. Such Converts undergo another transifguration, shifting their form and mass until they become inanimate biomechanical monoliths. Most often, large numbers of Converted will congregate and join in this transfiguration, forming colossoal monuments made of themselves and dedicated to the Dominion. Solitary or smaller numbers of Converts become smaller monoliths of repurposed local elements and biomechanics, their heads turned upwards towards the skies and often arranged in patterns of unknown religous signifigance.

    Though inanimate, these inert Converts are still entirely alive and aware, eternally and patiently watching and waiting, contemplating the void of space and whatever whispers the Domiinion or its patron entities send their way.

    Excerpt from the last transmissions of the Vercite Aethership Foer-Yond:
    I can still hear her. Even after the captain shot her, after everyone else screamed that she was already dead, I can still hear her.

    We were both Augmented together. When we married we even got the new mindlink together. She's still talking to me over the link.

    Captain is prepping for takeoff now. She's trying not to panic. She's trying not to blame me for suggesting we set foot on this Diaspora rock. She's holding it back because she knows that she had to kill my wife but I can still hear her outside.

    She's still lying outside where she fell. She's hurt and she needs me. And she has to show me something.

    Gods I saw half of her face come away and I saw the new one underneath that but I can still hear her. It's still her.

    I can't tell the crew. I shouldn't. They'd never allow it. But I was the one that brought us here. I was the one that brought that thing onboard.

    I'm taking an env-suit and stepping out. Captain, don't turn around when you find me missing. It needs to be this way. She's promised that everything is going to be alright. I know her and I know it is her. I can't leave her alone. We're going to be okay. Just let us go.---__==-__-***-_*-=

    --__-==__-__

    _____-=====__-=_----_+=-_____-=-__

    --++_-==-h-h-hat was all I could find to explain what Doctor Raen-Ma did. Crazy bastard just waded outside and she was out there waiting with open arms. Seargant Maer-Kal almost caught him but the....gods, whatever it was she put along the hull just outside the hatch exploded all over Maer. The damned things were crawling into him every way they could. Gods...

    Listen to the last status report from First Mate Yara-Na if you have to. I can't do this. All that matters now is this: Do not go to Asteroid Zoen-352. It might look like a lost Sarcesian city at a distance but I can promise you this, they're not Sarcesians any more. There is nothing for you there and the fortunate among us who did go are dead.

    I'd take care of myself right here, right now. But I don't think a shot to the brain would take care of the job even this early, and I can't risk someone finding this ship. I'm setting course for the sun and locking myself into cryo. I don't know if it'll stop the thing inside me but it'll keep me contained at the very least. I hope it does stop it. I don't want to dream about the things Raen-Ma's notes suggested. I don't want to dream about that empty city.

    This is Captain Ama-Krien, signing off.

    Zaern-Ra forgive us. Daez-Na guide us home.

    The Seers - Born from specific conversions reserved for those with strong connections to the divine, the Seers(also referred to as Midwives of the Black despite male instances being discovered) are the parents of alien nightmares made manifest. These souls have had their connection with the divine utterly corrupted, linking them with the forces that drive the Dominion. They often serve as heralds for larger Dominion incursions, gathering cults around them to better prepare local populaces or entire worlds for Dominion assimilation.

    Seers are pale humanoids possessed of a cold beauty, the perfection of their marble white skin in jarring contrast with the black technology wrapped around and weaving through their bodies. Their cloaks of chitin, webbing, and steel are actually their outer skin, flaring outwards with razor-sharp bat-like "fingers" slashing at nearby targets.

    The most distinctive feature of the seers is what they each lack: Every seer's head is missing its top half. The lower half of the head is intact and perfectly functional, up to the top of the upper lips, with the rest of the head from the nose and upwards missing. The point of severance is clean and bloodless, as marble-white as the outer skin. The lower head is seemingly hollow.

    Seer's are possessed of compelling voices as they translate the whispers of their masters to bend the will of unconverted mortals to their will. But this translation does not stop with enchanting words; their words make manifest the power of the Dominion.

    When speaking the Dominion's greatest words of power, a black, oily smoke emanates both from the hollow of their head and their lips. With their words this smoke transforms into incorporeal servants of the Dominion, assassins and spies made of shadow and void. Worse still, seers can inhale the vitality and soul of living beings, channelling both within their bodies along with the dark energies of the Dominion. Afterwards, the words of summoning will transform their victims into new corporeal versions of those aforementioned servants, with new abilities including methods of infection and self-propogation.

    When assimilated during Dominion harvests, these seers often wind up serving as the helm of newly born ships. They are at once navigators, on-board-computers, and the control systems through which higher members of the Dominion guide these vessels.

  • Shadow Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    *Dotting for SUPREME interest.


    Lazaro wrote:
    *Dotting for SUPREME interest.

    Dito


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    THE COLLECTIVE IS NOW OBSERVING THIS THREAD.

    Paizo Employee Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

    7 people marked this as a favorite.

    I think Mikaze may have written more about Distant Worlds than I have at this point. :D

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    8 people marked this as a favorite.

    HA!

    Also... it's official. If you want to know some cold, hard facts about the Dominion of the Black... make sure to check out or play through "The Dragon's Demand" when it comes out later this year!


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Sold!

    Andoran

    Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

    Mikaze you're a genius!


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    @Mikaze: So many hearts. You and I have identical thoughts on the Dominion.

    @James of the Sutter Variety: Clearly the solution is to write more distant worlds :D?

    @James of the Tyrannosaurus Variety: YES.

    Silver Crusade

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
    James Sutter wrote:
    I think Mikaze may have written more about Distant Worlds than I have at this point. :D

    Seriously though, I really did fall in love with Distant Worlds. Verces is where a lot of my heart lives now. :) Thanks big time for that book.

    Lucent wrote:
    @James of the Sutter Variety: Clearly the solution is to write more distant worlds :D?

    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS

    James Jacobs wrote:

    HA!

    Also... it's official. If you want to know some cold, hard facts about the Dominion of the Black... make sure to check out or play through "The Dragon's Demand" when it comes out later this year!

    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES :D

    Doom Comes to Dustpawn will feature their footprints as well, right?

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    There's some Dominion stuff in Doom Comes to Dustpawn, but it's more of the tease variety.

    Dradongs Demand has some cold hard facts.


    James Jacobs wrote:
    Dradongs Demand has some cold hard facts.

    I like that typo in that context. :D


    I used the Slarecian from Scarred Lands as my Dominion warped servitors, their alien mindset forced into flesh seemed like something cool and their ruins all had alien geometry and biomechanical feelings as they made things work for them or drive the subject insane.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Fabius Maximus wrote:
    James Jacobs wrote:
    Dradongs Demand has some cold hard facts.
    I like that typo in that context. :D

    HAHAHAHAAHH

    Yeah. Typo.

    "Cold" should have been "hot."

    Lantern Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Mikaze - it seems we all need a little more Distant Worlds love. Sutter - I think you have some devoted freelancers up in this biznass. :)

    The Dragon's Demand: a PFS or standard module....? I have heard you mention it several times, JJ, but I keep forgetting to look it up. Updated: A PFRPG Module, here: http://paizo.com/products/btpy8vsw

    I look forward to anything which incorporates our Golarion's stellar neighbors.

    Lantern Lodge

    Love this! Dotting.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    Dotting


    xidoraven wrote:

    Mikaze - it seems we all need a little more Distant Worlds love. Sutter - I think you have some devoted freelancers up in this biznass. :)

    The Dragon's Demand: a PFS or standard module....? I have heard you mention it several times, JJ, but I keep forgetting to look it up. Updated: A PFRPG Module, here: http://paizo.com/products/btpy8vsw

    I look forward to anything which incorporates our Golarion's stellar neighbors.

    It's the first of the new 64-page "Big Size" modules. Link to the module in the store: The "Dradong's" Demand

    Osirion

    Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

    A) That will so become the inofficial title of the adventure.
    B) That reminds me of the time, back in the waning days of 3.5, when my trusted store of that time put up a store page for 'Elder Elvis'.


    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Mikaze wrote:

    *shuddersome things of splendor and glorious wrongness, but especially*

    They're never about wiping out life. Not about killing for the sake of killing. Any (probably horrible) death they cause has to be a (probably horrible) source of new (probably horrible) life in their eyes. Life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on death, so to speak.

    This.

    Is.

    Necessary.


    Dotted.

    Paizo Employee Creative Director

    5 people marked this as a favorite.
    feytharn wrote:

    A) That will so become the inofficial title of the adventure.

    B) That reminds me of the time, back in the waning days of 3.5, when my trusted store of that time put up a store page for 'Elder Elvis'.

    Ugh. Typos suck.

    Often, customers ask Paizo "what can we do to make things better for you?"

    I usually have an answer like, "Keep supporting the game and being awesome for playing Pathfinder," but now my answer has changed to, "Do not perpetuate the goofy typos!"

    (crosses fingers)

    Osirion

    Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

    Sorry, I will make it up by continuing to do the former (and from now on, the latter, most of the time);-)

    Edit: And from the quality of your adventures so far, no typo would keep me from buying this one knocks on wood!

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