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A Ravenloft Domain from the True World?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 12:54 am
by Seethyr
This is a concept I’d like to explore for my players, perhaps one day leading to a full write up, but for now it would be just for them really.

I’d like to develop a domain in Ravenloft that originated in Maztica. Mesoamerican myth and horror seem like they could go together like peanut butter and jelly.

The problem is I abandoned Ravenloft shortly after 2e and know or remember very little. I could really use the community’s assistance. At this point all I have is an unformed idea that I know I want to pursue. It’s an idea I’ve literally had for years and I think I’ve mentioned it in these forums at one point or another.

Here’s the core concept. In the Maztica novels, Cordell’s primary priest of Helm, Domincus (I believe the title was “Bishou” Domincus, but I have to check my notes) was a stereotypical character for a Spanish Inquisitor and racist who held really nothing more than passive contempt for the native Mazticans when the Golden Legion arrived. I didn’t get the impression that he considered them even human.

Well, lo and behold, his daughter was the first casualty for the Amnians. She was captured and had her heart cut out in sacrifice to Zaltec.

This obviously exacerbated his racism and turned it to outright hatred. He was the muse for many of Cordell’s earlier, crueler actions.

Eventually, Domincus himself was captured and sacrificed. Luckily, the book didn’t say what happened to his body afterward, because this would be a perfect moment for a certain set of dark mists to roll in.

That’s really all I got so far. As a dark lord, Domincus would have to be either undead or resurrected by the Dark Powers. That’s all I have so far. Are there any suggestions? Would Domincus make a convincing Dark Lord?

Re: A Ravenloft Domain from the True World?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 1:28 am
by night_druid
A couple of things to keep in mind when dealing with Ravenloft - at least in official publications, it was not just about being scary, there were two core concepts at work. First, most of the domains were inspired, in part, by some sort of literature, be it Frankenstein, Dracula, or the werewolf. In this case, the Aztecs alone are enough for that (yesh!). The other thing to keep in mind is that Dark Lords are created by betrayal. Looking at the histories of many, they became Dark Lords due to some act of betrayal. Stealing a brother's wife, conducting research that results in a loved one's death despite pledging not to, etc. This angle might be a bit more difficult. I could certainly see a Maztican priest becoming a dark lord, perhaps betraying a brother and sacrificing him to steal his wife. Or perhaps an underpriestess, infatuated with some foreigner, murders the high priest and helps the foreigner loot the treasury before betraying him, too. Or a jaguar priest who became ever jealous of a prodigy sibling until he lures said sibling into a trap to be eaten by jaguars.

Re: A Ravenloft Domain from the True World?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 2:19 am
by Seethyr
There is a story, about a Princess Aaliyah that fits the mold perfectly then. I’ll share it when I am not posting via phone, but wow...

Re: A Ravenloft Domain from the True World?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 5:48 pm
by Jürgen Hubert
Another important thing to remember is that the Darklords are ultimately thwarted in what they desire most of all. They are given vast powers within their domains and plenty of opportunities to engage in evils big and small - but when it comes to getting what they really want, the Dark Powers will dangle right in front of their noses - only to yank it back again (frequently at the hands of Meddling Adventurers).

Take Strahd - all his betrayals were ultimately to attain Tatyana (his brother's fiance) for himself, but she jumped off the castle rather than give him that. And to make matters worse, she was reborn again and again (in 5e, the souls of people are trapped within Ravenloft - though most inhabitants do not actually have souls...) with similar likeness - but each time Strahd found her and moved to make her his vampire bride something happened to prevent that.

So if you want Dominicus to become a Darklord, figure out what he wants most of all - and then set up his Domain so that he can't have that.

And as for Princess Aliah of Ulatos... well, in my version of Maztica I made her a member of a vampiric coven, and Tacal a misunderstood vampire hunter.