The Early Ages (also known as the Early Age, or EA) is the First of Three eras that one can set their Ascension War in. The world has just exited an era of legends and myth, where overpowered and unrefined forces walked upon the Earth, leaving thirty-three factions that one can choose to helm or conquer.
Click on the flags to get to the in-depth pages for each nation.
Mystical Arcoscephale starts in its formative years, based on the myths of the Archaic Period of Ancient Greece. The "winning strategy" that would define both the Greek army and future iterations of this nation has yet to be distilled, but you can see traces of it in their tight formations and charioteers. Men and women are starting to build their culture's iconic Magic and religion, with the Priestesses learning from Mountain Nymphs while the Mystics learn from quiet study of the world around them. Those who have extra time on their hands have assembled Academies of philosophy and engineering, while those with exceptional faith train to fight on the backs of Mount Cephalos's sacred Pegasi; these things will sadly be lost to time.
Ermor is a fairly-straight, totally-not-Dead portrayal of the Roman Empire, albeit with the Manipular army of the Republic and the Late Empire's religious debacle. The New Faith (based on Christianity) disregards the Arcane in favor of Holy power and Healing, while the Old Faith (based on the Roman pagan priesthood) is relegated to lower positions such as your Province Defense or your frontier. The well-ordered Legions and their Equite support let you play out your Total War: Rome fantasies in a slightly-lower resolution, while the Fortune Tellers provide you with cheap and powerful Magic on the battlefield. Ermor's best Mages have recently added Death Magic to their repertoire, so the Empire's future looks bright.
Ulm is based on the Germanic tribes that were Rome's enemies for half a millennium. Like its eternal enemy (Ermor), Ulm has access to Iron, though the tribal nation doesn't use a lot of armor. The nation instead focuses on having skilled and versatile troops, which can be picked up from adverse terrains such as Forests and Mountains without forts. Ulm prefers raids with bands of cheap and Stealthy fighters, which can outflank enemy armies and take advantage of their poorly-defended conquests. On the Magic end, Ulm has a thin but broad shamanic tradition; its Shamans can raise well-armed fallen warriors in battle, and its Warrior Smiths get a discount on the wide array of magic weapons they can procure.
Marverni is a tribal confederation based on the Gauls, another 500-year enemy of Rome. There are five distinct tribes in this nation, and four of them have their own Magic Tattoo that grants them Invulnerability and increased stats when Awakened. It's possibly because of this that most warriors in the confederation choose to fight bare-chested, even though the namesake tribe supposedly invented chainmail. As the nation's tagline implies, Marverni is also spearheaded by the Druids, Priestly Mages who read the signs of the earth and the skies. The Stargazers of the Tattoo-less tribe can serve as cheap support for the elder statesmen and powerbrokers of the nation, especially in battle. They have pretty-great Boars, too.
Sauromatia is based on the Scythians, generally going off the stories of Greek historians who claimed to know it all. It's quite different from most other nations, being mainly female and mainly mounted (on horseback or serpentback). Raiding with your horse-bros and Amazonian horse-girls is very easy, as even your lowest melee trooper is better than two or three of the average Human infantryman of the Early Ages. Even those on-foot are dangerous, wielding either poison-tipped arrows or hordes of ancestral spirits. Male Fortune-Tellers who can also serve a Communion are a dime a dozen, while ancient Witch-Kings and Hydras are priceless. Don't ask how the Witch-Kings got so strong; they can't remember.
T'ien Ch'i in the Early Ages is in a formative state, still immersed in somewhat-violent and macabre legends reflective of the Warring States Period. For an early nation, the army is more advanced than most, featuring three tiers of infantrymen based on their armor coverage, with Light Cavalry and overly-ambitious Nobles on chariots providing support. An ancient Magic tradition known as the Way of Five Elements (the four Elemental paths plus Nature) rises to the limelight between two other ancient traditions, one borne out of ancestral worship and another learned from Heaven itself. Practitioners of the Way can be found almost anywhere, but they generally have thinly-spread powers.
Machaka in the Early Ages is a Kingdom of totemic clans, sorta based on African myths. The Kingdom is led by a group of Half-Giant individuals known by outsiders as the Colossi, who married into the Lion Clan and became its royal family. Each clan has its own specialty; Lion has the Colossi and the Morale-increasing status, of course, but Rhino has good armor, while Spider has Poisoned armaments and colossal spider mounts. Spider Clan guys like to act covertly with their underhanded maneuvers, but the heads of the Hyena Clan are outwardly devilish in spite of their gifts. Last-but-not-least are the Elephant Clan's titanic trusty steeds.
Mictlan is an Aztec-themed nation named after the Aztec Underworld, and is about as Aztec as you can imagine. Holding true to the Nahuatl mythology that the Aztecs abided by, Mictlan operates under the assumption that everything will fall apart if they don't pour Blood out for the boys in the Heavens. Only two things will spread the Blood Cult's influence, Blood Sacrifice and the physical presence of their God, and the latter is somehow less effective than it is for other Gods from other nations. This panic makes the Blood & Fire Blesses of Mictlan's Pretender stronger; you don't need to lead them with Fire & Blood, but their wide array of Sacred warriors and Summons appreciates powerful Blessings.
Abysia is a nation made of lava-men, by lava-men, for lava-men. Its people don't farm, ride mounts, or use lesser equipment, because they're men made of lava. Most nations aren't as one-note as this one. In gameplay terms, this means that Abysia is less-impacted by Growth or Death scales (but gets more from Caves) and fields primarily heavily-armored infantry, guys that are incredibly hard for most early competitors to deal with. The best guys are fresh from the heart of Abysia, and they get a lot stronger in lands claimed by Abysia's hotness. Behind the scenes, some Abysians have unwittingly doomed their race in an effort to be more flexible, but you won't see the downsides in this era.
Caelum is a nation ruled by its Mages, or a "magocracy". Its head mages are the semi-divine Yazatas, angels of an era that the Pantokrator himself brought to a close. The three Clans that compose Caelum trace their descent back to three tribes that served these angels and were given blessings in return – the Airya were given clear minds, the Kavi (now the Spire Horn bros) were taught how to fly in storms, and the Mairya (now the Raptor bros) actually followed demons but were still cut some slack. Caelians aren't spectacular in combat, but their wings allow them to edge out and ambush foes, and some Airyans use magical ice that gives them excellent protection in Caelum's chilly weather.
C'tis is an Egyptian-based nation of lizardfolk. Ancient by Human standards (even at the time of the Early Ages), its theocratic institutions and Magic lore are far-more-developed than practically anything else in the world. The Kings are masters of the Priesthood, and the Sauromancers are masters of Death Magic. Part of C'tis's system relies on its slave caste of carnivorous barbarian lizards, who are guided by Shamans that will also (grudgingly) answer the call of the C'tissian Pretender. The Army of C'tis is also well-developed, featuring some of the finest Chariots in the world and valiant dual-wielding Falchioneers. It isn't without its faults, though; C'tissians are cold-blooded and notoriously cold-footed.
Pangaea is a nation of "halfmen", forestfolk with bestial features. Blessed by Nature, they vehemently oppose civilization and most of its fruits, resulting in them being quite backwards in several areas. This doesn't harm them too badly in these Ages, where Man is still beast and tools are still poor; in fact, Nature can provide most of what Pangaea needs, including forts made of shrubs and women possessed with orgiastic fervor. Still, Pangaea is at its best when it fights guerilla wars, slipping satyrs and harpies through lands foolishly claimed by other factions. Its centaurs, minotaurs, and godlike Panii can brute-force engagements when they have to, but it's better to take advantage of where you excel when you can.
Half-Earth-Giant & Half-psychic-salamander, the Agarthans (known as "Pale Ones") are the masters of the subterranean world. Each aspect of their small-but-deep Magic tradition is derived from history and lore that writers on the surface could only dream of. Their knowledge of Fire was learned from the King of Magma himself, their knowledge of Water was learned from the father of their species, and their knowledge of Death came from a pantheon-binding Seal made of Pale One Glue. In war, the Pale Ones are a versatile species that can fight underwater as well as on-land, but the individual battles may be marred by their limited vision and their lack of experience on the surface.
Tir na n'Og is a colony of the Tuatha, an elf-like people based on the Tuatha de Dannan of Irish mythology. When a cousin race known as the Fir Bolg settled on an island that the Tuatha liked, the Tuatha swept in and conquered most of their lands, only to be slightly humbled by another mythical race and retreat to the aforementioned island. Most of the leadership of the provinces is delegated to the Sidhe, descendants of the Tuatha who imitate their traditions, but the Tuatha can still be called upon for a pretty penny. The Tuatha and Sidhe both possess a "glamour" that makes them tough to hit and implacable in scouting reports, but they take extra damage from Iron and haven't even heard of that metal. Large-scale battles are thus best-saved for the Fir Bolg, who are mundane but cheap.
Fomoria is the Kingdom of the Fomorians, the bad guys in Irish mythology. Originally titanic stewards of the sea, they got tired of nudging drowned ghosts over to the Underworld and decided to become a destructive force on land, which a Pantokrator obliged by Cursing them to Hell and back. All lost their second eye, and most gave birth to smaller (though still Giant) goat-headed freaks. The Fomorians were then challenged for their hard-earned lands by the ancestors of the Fir Bolg, whom they completely crushed with the overpowered combination of Air-&-Death Magic, to the point where the Fir Bolg swore fealty to them. Fomoria now leans heavily on its elf & pseudo-elf vassals for their consistency in battle.
Vanheim is the homeland of the Vanir, an elf-like race named after the second pantheon in Norse mythology. They have a very long history in the world, so long that even they can't recall most of the details. What we can deduce is that they descend from a race of godlike titans who lost a war with glacial Frost Giants in a bygone era, leading to their eternal grudge with the Frost Giants that remain. The Vanir share the "glamour" of the other elf-like races, but they suffer no additional pain from Iron and use it quite regularly. In fact, pain seems to push their finest warriors into a battle frenzy that few men of their stature can withstand. On the other hand, the Vanir and their leaders are notoriously expensive to recruit. They can also sail.
Helheim is a splinter state of Vanir, centered around the entrance to the Norse Underworld. The first Vanir chiefs to settle here made a pact with a dead god that they found, hanging themselves (like Odin) to pledge themselves to it in exchange for its secrets. The girls who pledged themselves were blessed with flight, and their leaders can even lift horses with their thighs. The divide between Vanheim and Helheim goes back far enough that Helheim's Vanir never learned to sail, and possibly even predates the conflict with the Frost Giants. Those who don't like how pricey Vanheim's Vanir are should steer clear of Helheim, however; Helheim's Vanir prefer even-more-expensive equipment, such as the fastest horses alive.
Niefelheim is the glacial homeland of the Niefel, powerful direct descendants of the Rimtursar. While not recruitable, Niefel legends state that the Rimtursar defeated a race of gods in a bygone Age, only to all get slain by a god of thunder (Thor). Lesser descendants of the Rimtursar known as the Jotun have always been committed to calling forth the Illwinter, a Bloody Ice Age that might allow the Rimtursar to come back; however, Sorcerous Jotun hags known as the Gygjas have recently undercut the Jotun Priests in favor of the Niefel, binding most of the old Priests with a lycanthropic curse. For now, the Niefel are the tallest and strongest in the land, especially in lands claimed by Niefelheim's cold.
Rus is a nation based on the Slavic & Baltic tribes, those guys who lived in Russia and those strange nations west of it. Two kinds of people live in Rus, split across two lifestyles. Those who stick to the nomadic, tribal, hunter-gatherer lifestyle have useful talents but a lack of organization, while those who stick to the settled lifestyle are decently-organized but have a stranger mix of abilities. Fire & Nature is a pretty-weird mix that you'll get used to seeing from the settled Mages, while the tribal Mage-Priests stick to Air. The two kinds of people are the normal humans and the superhuman Chudes; regardless of which lifestyle they pick, the Chudes always stand out with their excellent physique and their mystical powers.
Kailasa is an Indian-themed nation, run by semi-divine beings from a previous era. These beings were stewards of the earth, before most of them got bored and left for Heaven above. The few that remain are the Yakshas, Half-Giant Human-like Nature beings who strike lesser beings with awe. Driven to action by an old enemy's resurgence, the Yakshas have called upon the service of a budding civilization known as the Bandar Log, composed of three races & four castes of somewhat-intelligent primates. The Markata monkeys are worthless but cheap, the Atavi are mediocre but stealthy, the Bandar gorillas are strong, and the White Ones are special.
Lanka is Kailasa's arch-enemy, and the reason that Kailasa is around in the Early Ages. The heads of Lanka are the Rakshasas, Half-Giant Demon-Ogres that thrive in Chaos. Their Blood-Hunting techniques require Chaos, and they love to eat the flesh that they find. The biggest and strongest of them antagonized Kailasa's divinities until both sides got bored and left, but the lowlier groups lingered and have recently awakened. Though some argue that the Yakshas were behind the evolution of the Bandar Log, the Rakshasas supposedly made first contact, and have already sired half-Bandar children with their captives. These children are ravenous & sacred (to Lanka), just like their mothers.
Yomi is a volcanic, Japenese-themed (pardon my language) hellhole that happens to be centered around an actual hellhole. This fact is incidental; indeed, someone had opened a gateway to the Netherworld at the center of Yomi, allowing violent Demons of the wild to claim the land for themselves. These Demons are known as the Oni. Though they don't eat people, Oni are still immensely unpleasant to be around, and they seem to feed off the annoyance and turmoil of those around them. The leaders of the Oni are unfortunately immensely powerful, and thus Yomi's Human & Goblin inhabitants will tolerate them for a taste of their power, even erecting smaller gateways for lesser Oni to stream through.
Hinnom is a Canaanite-themed nation of Half-Giants that were taught a bit too much. Six Angels came down to do the teaching, but they ended up sleeping with their students and siring the Nephilim, godlike affronts to both the world and the Heavenly Powers. The all-male Nephilim sired all-male children known as the Rephaim with the Half-Giants, and then left Hinnom because they were bored with being overpowered. Now the Rephaim have realized some of their fathers' powers and appetites, the latter of which is an honest-to-God disaster since they will eat literally anything and everything around them, but the former of which is pretty handy. Keep them away from your taxpayers, and you'll be mostly fine!
The neat thing about this Mesopotamian-themed nation is that it's got both civilized and uncivilized people, sorta living in harmony. Sure, you can't get the uncivilized guys from your cities, but the even split is pretty remarkable. Anyway, Ur is the homeland of the Enkidu, unkempt Half-Giants who are still split on whether "civilization" comes from benevolent sages or Hinnomite slavers. Those in Eridu, Ur's First City, have built a religion that enables their God to come back from the Dead without any loss of power, while those in the pastoral tribes still follow Shamans of uncanny skill. The Enkidu are strong and sturdy, but they have yet to discover Iron. They also have half-carp cousins under the waves, called "Kulullu".
Berytos is the closest thing to Carthage and the Phoenician city-states that Dominions has to offer. It's a former colony of a Kingdom from the previous era, which was sunk beneath the waves when its physical gods flexed their hubris a bit too far. Though it maintained the Kingdom's old legacy and even spread it to distant shores, Berytos still had to replace its evidently-dead pantheon – luckily, some Kings from Hinnom have graciously filled the void. The new priesthood is led by former Lion Queens, who fled Machaka with some of their sons and have now pledged themselves as "Brides-in-Waiting" to the new gods. These half-Giants and their bigger lords are much appreciated in the nation of seafaring merchants.
There are apparently two different subterranean systems in the Dominions 5 world, and the second of these is the Mayan-themed "underworld" of Xibalba. The previous Pantokrator figured that sending the Sun and the Moon through here when they weren't needed was a cool idea, so he emptied Xibalba of everything except for a race of diligent bat-people known as the Zotz. While he was banking on the Zotz never growing attached to the Sun since their eyes are bad, he forgot that they were cold-blooded like the Pale Ones. Oh well, it's the Pretenders' problem now. The Zotz are kind of pathetic, but they're incredibly cheap & excellent at Blood Hunts. The reemerging local Bat-Demons love their purity-sniffing talents.
Mekone is a Spartan-themed nation of Gigantes, mystical Giants of stunning prowess and physique. Supposedly descended from the Titans of old, the Gigantes feel it is their duty to dominate the newer and smaller races of the world, mainly Humans who have the mistaken notion of supremacy. They view the Gods of Man as false idols, even those who demonstrate real power, for they have yet to lose a serious battle. Mekone thus spearheads a "War on the Gods", with the help of masterwork gear from the Elder Cyclopes and large quantities of slave meatshields. Unfortunately, Gigantes are rather limited in monthly recruitment, and most of the Human slaves have trouble accepting their state of affairs.
Ubar is a Sultanate of Jinnun, Genies from Arabian lore. The region itself is a desert plateau, and reaching the entrance to it is a perilous journey in it of itself; not just because the deserts are hot, but because every square inch of the place is seeped in the obfuscating magic of the Jinnun. You can't even tell which lands are owned by Ubar unless you have scouts directly in them. If you somehow manage to enter Ubar, what you'll see depends on whether or not its Pretender is active. If it's not, you'll see a Human city past its prime, run by slavers who seemingly listen to voices in their heads. If it is, though, you'll see unbelievable riches held by unimaginable powers. These powers love Magic, but they absolutely detest Iron & Salt.
Atlantis is a deep-sea nation centered on a single city-state, the Basalt City. There, a frog-like humanoid species has evolved, learning the secrets of the Earth's crust through gazing into a Dark Crystal. While other members of the species have yet to find intelligence in the deeps, those who gaze into the Crystal continue to build up Magical knowledge in their ever-growing bodies, while their wives develop administrative skills virtually unmatched in the entire world. No one knows how long the Atlantian nation has existed - other undersea races have reported sightings of less-monstrous Atlantians before, but no one assumed they were up to anything organized. Now that they're active, though, even the nations on the surface should watch out!
R'lyeh is another deep-sea nation centered on a single city-state, but the similarities with Atlantis practically end there. The main race of R'lyeh is the Aboleths, a group of strange giant fish spawned from slightly-psychic polypal masses. Over the centuries, these fish have developed their minds to such an extent that they can overpower other minds with a passing glance. The Aboleths have thus built an Empire of brainwashed and lobotomized undersea species, slaves that will serve them to their fullest extent in wars. The Aboleths have even learned to spread their own "mothers" and "grandmothers" to other provinces, where they serve as stationary breeders of baby Aboleths and propogators of their Pretender's will.
Pelagia is a nation of Tritons, the underwater equivalent of Humans. Formed by the union of the pearl-cultivators and coral-crafters, and led by Giant Tritons supposedly made in the image of an ancient Titan of the sea, Pelagia seemed fit to rule the waves. Even without all of the Triton tribes and clans under its command, Pelagia still held a hegemony over the shallow waters and used it to trade extensively with mercantile nations on the surface, utilizing amphibious humanoids called Merfolk to act as middlemen. Now there are other nations in the water, however, and the Ascension Wars have turned the land against the sea. Is Pelagia prepared for these changing circumstances, and is it ready to conquer the world?
Oceania is essentially undersea Pangaea, even sharing the same preference for forests. It has Sirens instead of Harpies, Capricorns instead of Panii, and strange "Ichty" versions of the other halfmen. Like the Merfolk of Pelagia, these beings can trade their fishy parts in for stuff that works on land, allowing them access to anywhere they can set their eyes on. Most Oceanians use this ability to raid the coasts; as a result, coasts in Oceanian Dominion are especially Chaotic, while everywhere else in Oceanian Dominion is far more Orderly. The Sirens and Capricorns are cheaper to hire in Chaotic provinces, so getting a coastal fort is an utmost priority. Just remember not to overextend against your more-organized opponents, especially your underwater rivals.
Therodos is a strange Kingdom that doesn't realize that it's already dead. It's the ancestor of Berytos, formerly led by storm Titans known as the Telkhines, and now led by the Telkhines' tiny apprentices who narrowly avoided destruction. These apprentices are able to breathe underwater, so they led their relatively-enormous Hekateride sisters to the undersea crater of their Kingdom to check the damage, unwittingly awakening the ghosts of those killed in the sinking. The ghosts were banned from the Underworld and thus act like they're still alive, much to the dismay of anyone actually alive in Therodian lands. For some weird reason, civilians in Therodian Dominion are prone to joining the ghosts, so act fast if you like gold!