Domain lords, though more commonly known as darklords, were the rulers of domains in the Demi-Plane of Dread. They could be categorized based on their magnitude of evil.
Domain lords were always creatures of great evil whose vile acts had garnered the attention of the Dark Powers. The trangression that damned them to their role as a domain lord could either be small, successive acts committed within the Demi-Plane of Dread, or one grand Act of Ultimate Darkness. The latter of which would draw the attention of the Dark Lords regardless of the plane of existence it was committed in. However, the creature must have no hope of redemption for their actions in order to be embraced as a domain lord.
However, committing acts of evil and possessing raw physical power were not enough to make a creature a worthy candidate in the eyes of the Dark Powers. Rather, the most important factor was a domain lord's force of personality, the strength of their passions and emotions. Whether that be a lust for power, greed, an unreasonable thirst for vengeance, or an overwhelming sense of hatred.
Domain lords were not trapped within the category which they begin. They were equally capable of losing their power or being more by the Dark Lords as a reward for their evil nature. However, there was no rigid structure of progression by which to judge how a domain lord might evolve.
Domain lords were always thought of as prisoners of the Dark Powers and the domain in which they resided. They were given a curse that always led to them being denied that which they desired most, yet made it impossible for them to avoid being reminded of it. While some domain lords come to terms with this, others obsess over finding some way to escape Ravenloft. Regardless of whether they come to terms with their state or not, darklords typically had a selfish nature that twisted their desire into an obsession and sole focus. When faced with their transgressions, a domain lord would be too blinded by their selfish nature to acknowledge their failings.
Creature that became domain lords typically manifested some outward evidence of their corruption that was difficult to conceal. These outward changes varied in intensity, but domain lords underwent an increasing amount of them the more corrupted they became. In some cases the Dark Powers were known to grant less compelling lords a vast territory to further this isolation, while in other cases would grant powerful lords smaller domains so as to concentrate their evil.
While domain lords were typically given sole rule over a domain, there exist cases in which a group of individuals were collectively considered the lord of a domain.
Domain lords were typically gifted great unnatural powers by the Dark Powers. These powers varied wildly and could include control over the land, weather, plants, undead, or certain creatures. Some other common powers included sensing any disruption caused by a paladin, avoiding numerous means magical detection, and projecting thoughts of evil and despair into an individual's mind. In some cases though, domain lords were only granted mere political power.
One ability that all domain lords possessed was closing off the borders of their domain with, making it impossible for any creature to enter or exit by both mundane and magical means. If a domain lord was incapable of closing their borders, usually it had to do with the nature of their curse.
Due to their intrinsic connection to their lands, it was impossible to scry on domain lords, such as through a crystal ball. It was also difficult, though possible to kill a domain lord. However, the higher categories were liable to eventually be reborn by the Dark Powers and even a limited wish spell could not permanently destroy them.
Categories of Domain Lords
Darklords were the most powerful form of domain lord and ruled over domains in the Core. The first and most infamous of all darklords was Strahd von Zarovich.
Overlords were the second most powerful form of domain lord and ruled over clusters.
Lords were the third most powerful form of domain lord and ruled over islands. Most creatures that are newly granted the status of domain lord by the Dark Powers start out as this.
Demilords were the lowest, least powerful form of domain lord. They ruled over pockets, the smallest form of domain, which were often no larger than a small patch of land or a building. Though they were the lowest form, this did not mean that they were any less evil than a full darklord.
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