After a few hours of playing with every fluid setting trying to figure out why the fluid just sprayed everywhere when it hit the effector, it obviously ended up being the last thing I checked.
The cause was a moving collision effector. It’s a rigged hand running under water. If the hand is stationary – no problem, the water washes over the hand. Soon as it moves via my keyframes, the fluid sprays out in one direction as if it’s been repelled.
Is there a setting that stops this from happening?