Pathfinder Domain Map

I’m reviewing my Polyhedral Pantheons material and building a deck of cards to help me actually apply the process a little more easily.  I wanted to automate the card layout and construction as much as possible, so I’ll be creating XSL-FO files (to be converted to PDF) from text data files.

I find that testing data can be done through close examination of the data files, but that’s tedious and error-prone.  If I can visualize the data somehow it is often much easier to spot gross errors.  Not spelling mistakes and the like so much as structural discontinuity.  For instance, I once had Doxygen build a function call map for my program and discovered that I was initializing some things twice, which would have caused a problem.  I was unlikely to ever find it through code examination unless I noticed the output was wrong and had to debug the program, here I had a picture in front of me going “you’re calling this two different ways, dummy”.

I built a graph showing all the domain relationships identified in the d20 PFSRD Domains list.  I left out the stand-alone domains, but thought this graph might be of interest, or at least mild curiosity, to others.

Pathfinder Domains and Subdomains
Pathfinder Domains and Subdomains

I’d like to see some more ‘star’ arrangements, domains with more subdomains, but it’s a start.

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  1. Speaking of structural discontinuity, “Storms” is floating around by itself there, should that be attached to “Air”? (Which leaves “Earth” as the only elemental domain with two subdomains hmm)

    It would’ve been nice if Pathfinder had used this opportunity to try and bridge the gap between Death/Repose, but as you previously mentioned the places where the subdomains overlap aren’t handled terribly well as it is in PF.

    • A bug in the script that generated the map file (you didn’t think I did that by hand, did you?). I’ve corrected it in my local copy and moved on to my next task.

      Yes, the irony of “this lets me spot mistakes more easily” having a mistake I missed amuses me.

      I’m still thinking about how to handle ‘intermediate subdomains’, those that are touched by two, or potentially more, primary domains. Given the opportunity I’d like to give the entire domain system an overhaul — Pathfinder did a good job of polishing the D&D 3.x domains and got rid of a bunch of really dumb powers (“+1 caster level with these spells”? Eww), but I’d like to see some other changes.

      • Doing things by hand is so 1990’s :-)

        Speaking of elemental domains, I’m reminded of the Paraelemental/Quasielemental Planes (some pretty pictures: [1] [2]). There might be some cool stuff that could be done there with domains? Say having Salt/Steam/Ice/Ooze as subdomains of Water, each of which also overlaps with another domain. May be a bit of a pain to put together mind you (12 subdomains altogether).

        • That could be possible, yes. I’m not sure how much the idea of a ‘steam’ domain excites me, though.

          I do have some ideas of how ‘mixed domains’ could be constructed. Short form: alternate spells, odd from one domain and even for the other, taking the first domain power from the ‘even spell domain’ and the second from the ‘odd spell domain’.

          It doesn’t particularly excite me, but it could make for a decent starting point.

          Also, fixed the image in this post, so anyone reading and wondering about the error mentioned up-thread, you’re not losing your mind, the error is gone.

          • I’m not sure how much the idea of a ‘steam’ domain excites me, though.

            I guess my subconscious took that as a challenge, because it almost immediately spat out this. Interestingly he ended up with the subdomain explicitly, rather than having the Water domain (the Ice or Oceans subdomains wouldn’t fit him, for instance).

            Note to self, tell Violist I invented a deity for whom afternoon tea is a common rite. :-)

            • I find myself astonished. Would you mind if I expanded on Itrin, The Flame that Heals, and post it here? And/or include it in a pantheon I’m working up?

              I’m not necessarily excited by the domain itself, especially seeing as I don’t yet know what it does, but I can appreciate that there can be a place for it.

    • GreyKnight

      I predict a high density of domains-per-spell at high levels (I’ve moaned about it before, there just aren’t enough spells to go round). Maybe some clustering around stuff like summon monster too.
      Maybe some deities have specific custom spells to substitute for a high-level spell of one or more of their domains? (I think older versions of D&D had stuff like that, so there is precedent.) Extra work, but it looks cool and breaks up the homogenity. Itrin’s Fire domain could accept a stone to magma spell or something along those lines. Maybe healing tide in Steam (drowns enemies, heals allies).

      • I think your expectations likely. There are certain other spells that show up quite a bit also.

        The way Polyhedral Pantheons works means you get a fair bit of overlap in domains between gods, especially if you don’t use subdomains. Every pair of domains present will be associated with at least two gods. Two adjacent nodes are shared by the gods associated with the faces connected to those two nodes; two adjacent faces are similarly shared by the gods associated with the nodes connected to those two faces; and each (face,node) pair is also a (node,face) pair.

        All through the 3.x era I would have gods with domains, and each would have a ‘personal domain’ (often doubled, with two spells per level) of spells that were largely limited to their use. This actually predates 3e, I got the idea from Dragonlance and Greyhawk gods, as I recall.

        As much as domains save work, it may be worth considering causing each (god,domain) pair to have some substitutions. I think that likely works best where there is a distinct image in mind for the god. During initial consideration there might not be enough of a distinct image to really make it feasible to consistently tweak the domains, but over time that can change.

      • Chakat Firepaw

        Never mind older versions, most gods in the Pathfinder setting give special access to some spells for their clerics etc. Either as specific spells, or as access to spells not normally on the cleric/paladin/whatever list.

        They also tend to have slightly altered lists for spells like summon monster, (e.g. clerics of Torag can’t summon bats but they can summon badgers and azers).

        • I also aim to have spells from different gods appear different. This may result in tweaking spell lists altogether, or setting specific effects for certain spells (as with the Torag priests’ summoning being limited). I haven’t even mentioned reskinning spells yet, but that can certainly be part of it (and likely marked under ‘signature’ in the god’s Entity Definition).

          Then we could talk about the whole meta-classes thing on top of that.

          Bugger. Another series I meant to work on further. I’m pretty sure I still have a draft article on an alternate Necromancer somewhere.

  2. David Lamb

    I tried this comment a few days ago when there was some problem; it may be redundant now…

    Kudos on a very informative diagram. It look like a nice easy-to-view summary of PF domains. But I have a couple of comments.

    First, what software did you use to make it? The geek in my wants to know more.

    Second, all that disconnection cries out for some sort of rearrangement and editing to make more connections — I believe I pointed out that Language might be a subdomain of both Rune and Knowledge, for example.

    Third, It kinda looks like a mind map / concept map, doesn’t it? Those can have multiple kinds of connection, not just “subdomain of”. Not sure where to go with this year, but I hope it leads me to some thoughts that would simplify “subdomain” creation (can’t explicate why I think it’s plausible though — at first it might look like more link types make things more complex).

    • I use GraphViz. A lot, actually. I give it a file defining the relationships and it goes away and lays them out. In this particular case I used ‘neato’, which uses a spring model to try for a planarity graph (no crossing lines). I also use ‘dot’ a fair bit, which creates the hierarchical graphs I used for most of the megadungeon graphs. There are other layout programs in the package, but those are the two I use most.

      More link types almost certainly make things more complex, by definition. Unless, of course, the increased explicitness in the relationship means you can be more precise and concise in your descriptions, which reduces complexity. Abstraction (“there is a relationship!”) is often useful in a model and can provide a simpler and more robust model, but sometimes it is easier to apply when things are more precise. And sometimes the opposite is true.

      In this case I suspect increasing the number of relationships between pantheons will lead to a prettier graph, until it gets out of hand. Up to that point, however, it may also provide more to work with.

      This graph is a first pass, showing what is currently at d20 PFSRD’s Domain list. I expect I am like to review and revise them, and I’ll generate new graphs as I go.

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