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  1. - Top - End - #1261
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Magic Outside Vespuccia:
    I believe I drafted some simple rules for the weakened magic outside of vespuccia. It was like negative metamagic. Something like:
    All variable, numeric effects of a muted spell are reduced by 20%
    A muted spell lasts 1/2 as long as normal. Spells with instantaneous, permanent, or concentration durations are not affected.
    A muted spell's effective spell level is reduced by one. All effects dependant on spell level (Such as save DCs) are calculated based on this reduced level.

    This way, the effect of arcane magic outside vespuccia is reduced, but it's still possible to use it and it's not a drastically different ballgame.

    Mesovespuccia Races:
    I really would like to save the idea of the quetzals, but I just can't figure how to integrate them into the setting properly. I mean, the old idea of having them as a preist-caste would sorta nudge out a lot of the human preisthood, and I don't know how many humans would journey to their temples if they lived separately from humans. I could merge them into human society, but I'm not sure how well they would mix.
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  2. - Top - End - #1262
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Mesovespuccia Races:
    I really would like to save the idea of the quetzals, but I just can't figure how to integrate them into the setting properly. I mean, the old idea of having them as a preist-caste would sorta nudge out a lot of the human preisthood, and I don't know how many humans would journey to their temples if they lived separately from humans. I could merge them into human society, but I'm not sure how well they would mix.
    I would simply have them as an exalted sort of creature with ties to the aztec deities, or, rather, the kolbold to the Xiuhcoatl's dragon.
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  3. - Top - End - #1263
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    I got the impression that magic was perfectly common elsewhere, it's just more powerful in the New World.
    Magic is "common" in other parts of the world, but even in magic-heavy settings like Eberron, spellcasters make up a tiny minority of the total population. The definition of "common" is highly variable here: a Columbian town that boasts of its high concentration of spellcasters would be laughed at by any respectable Algonquin lodge. To Natives, spellcasters aren't a luxury but a necessity, in a world of marauding wendigos and exiled grudge-holding necromancers.

    Quote Originally Posted by BRC View Post
    since most of the game is taking place in Vespuccia, it's easier to use the base magic rules as "Vespuccia-Magic", and weaken magic elsewhere to account for the lack of power boost.
    Sorry, I could've been clearer about that. Whether spells in the New World are made stronger or whether they're weaker everywhere else, the effect is the same from the players' point of view. It's just easiest for us to make magic work normally in Vespuccia and impede them everywhere else. And who's to say what's "normal" anyway?

    I was just trying keep spellcasters from getting completely nerfed in nautical campaigns. A hundred miles really isn't very far when you're at sea, and outside the magical aegis of the New World, spellcasters won't be able to do much more than cure their own seasickness, and their players will feel very frustrated every time the DM rolls up a random encounter at sea.

    Edit: Actually, shaving 20% off the top of every spell doesn't seem that bad to me, really. I don't think it's enough to really prevent the powers of the Old World from investing heavily in magic, and it doesn't really make Old World spellcasters significantly less powerful.

    I vote that we increase the nerfing of spells outside of Vespuccia to 40%. Maybe even 50%. But whatever we decide, it will have next to no effect on PCs in our setting. It's really just a convenient way for us to preserve the timeline of the Old World. I highly doubt that more than a handful of campaigns will ever leave Vespuccian shores.

    ---------

    Quote Originally Posted by Pokonic View Post
    I would simply have them as [...] the kolbold to the Xiuhcoatl's dragon.
    I like this comparison!
    Last edited by SuperDave; 2014-02-28 at 07:11 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #1264
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Quote Originally Posted by Pokonic View Post
    I would simply have them as an exalted sort of creature with ties to the aztec deities, or, rather, the kolbold to the Xiuhcoatl's dragon.
    Hmmm... this could work reasonably decently and is easy to fit into the history of the region

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Magic is "common" in other parts of the world, but even in magic-heavy settings like Eberron, spellcasters make up a tiny minority of the total population. The definition of "common" is highly variable here: a Columbian town that boasts of its high concentration of spellcasters would be laughed at by any respectable Algonquin lodge. To Natives, spellcasters aren't a luxury but a necessity, in a world of marauding wendigos and exiled grudge-holding necromancers.
    You know... I think I actually like this idea slightly better. I was never completely sold on the idea of magic being weaker elsewhere. I feel it diminishes the americans if it was. Moreover, if magic is weaker elsewhere then where are all these non-vespuccian monsters coming from? But I did not have any better ideas...

    However, this one I do like. What if what makes the vespuccian societies so special is not that they have stronger magic but that there's simply so much more of it. And the reason for this is not something inherent to the continent, but rather that the diseases that came from the old world pushed the population to higher mage density because they tended to survive better. Evolution, essentially.

    Moreover mages have a premier position in society in the new world and have tended to be freer in their practise of magic. Whereas the older cultures from China and Europe has subjugated theirs, putting demands on them to be able to this and that and killing the ones who refuse to conform enough.

    So if there's 1 in a 1000 mages in the Old world, there might be 5 in a 1000 or maybe even 10 in a 1000 in the New world. And frequently they tend to be slightly more experienced.

    I think it's a more elegant solution to our problems, fits nicely into our setting and does not really elevate anyone over another.

    Couple that with that we're going towards cultural spell lists as it is. So not all cultures have access to the same spells. Allowing us to have "I need to learn X spell from that lot" as a plot hook that sends the party halway across the continent.
    Last edited by Aux-Ash; 2014-03-01 at 02:56 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #1265
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Hmmm. The quetzal are to coatls as kobolds are to dragons. I do like it, and it changes things a good bit. The suggestion of coatl as new-world dragons is pretty cool, too. Maybe the 'horned serpents' that keep popping up in the myths are new world dragons? They got deified in mesoamerica as quetzalcoatl and other beings of power, such as xiuhcoatl.

    ----------

    Hmm. So, we have a significant decision between actually reducing the effects of magic outside the american continents and just making it so spell-casters are simply more rare outside the continent. Both have their merits, honestly. The first would somewhat limit the utility of spellcasters outside the new world. And no player likes having their abilities nerfed. However, there would have to be some sort of explanation as to why casters are more rare outside the new world, and it shouldn't really be cultural.

    ---------

    So, does anyone have an opinion on the ideas of playable nagual characters, or tonal ones? As mentioned above, I'm somewhat concerned about them being overly similar to the spirit-born race.
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  6. - Top - End - #1266
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    I am on the opinion that magic is powerful everywhere, it's just that magic in the rest of the world (comparatively) is far less common, as well as magical creatures. There probably would only be a handful of powerful wizards in the whole of europe at this point, and a lot of magical creatures would either be very crafty humanoids who can pass the average perception check or are simply hiding, as it has been established already. The New World has so much magic because, besides the locals being more magic-friendly than elsewhere, it's simply a lot more useful to let the guy who knows how to conjure fireballs to be allowed to fire fireballs at the things that keep trying to kill everyone in the isolated village then to kill him for being a warlock.
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  7. - Top - End - #1267
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    The trade wars 1600-1620
    Spoiler: Aztatlan
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    The trade wars were not formal wars. There were no declarations. No great armies. It was simply a tumultuous period in the early 17th century. It was the wealth that the dutch merchants had managed to acquire by trading with the huasteca and mexica of Aztatlan in the late 16th century that was the catalyst as well as a relatively open period when it came to trade in mesovespuccia.

    At first it had been single enterprising captains and their ships: tolerated merely because they claimed to be the enemies of the Caxtilteca. In 1602 however, came the arrival of the Dutch West Indies Company and trade became much more frequent and regular. Soon after came the arrival of the French, Bretons, Englishmen, Portuguese, Basques and eventually Aragonese and Castillians.

    On the Mexica side the merchants and nobles that controlled the right routes and lands became very rich, very quickly. For it was not only vespuccian goods that were sought after in Europe but European and Chinese/Fúsāng goods were also highly sought after on the markets of Tenochtitlan, Tlacopan and Texcoco.

    It rapidly destabilized however. Partly because the European traders began to aggressively compete over the most welcoming ports, partly because the trade brought diseases with it: most notably the plague of 1605-1609 that spread like wildfire over the region killing thousands, and partly because the wealth that the trade brought lead to cities within Aztatlan to compete or even fight between one another.

    The state had essentially been run since the end of the civil war by what basically was a collection of city-based military bureaucracies backed by local merchants. They had been united by a desire for peace and stability in the region. But now their successors directly benefitted if trade passed through their cities as opposed to their counterpart’s.

    It wasn’t civil war as much as it was banditry, warlordism and rivalry between cities. In any conflict casualties numbered in dozens, very rarely more. Many merchants took it upon themselves to organize their own bands of mercenaries to protect their caravans or clients. Often hiring mayans, mixtecs, P’urépacha, zapotecs or more and more frequently chichimecans from up north.

    Particularly the east suffered badly from this fighting as it was there the Europeans stopped. Not only did it have to suffer the “sanctioned” bandits from the Big Four cities, the mercenaries of the merchants (who frequently did not hesitate to help themselves to things they could bring with them or slaves) and disease, but also bands of European merchants that sometimes traded and sometimes raided the villages.

    The rise of the Castilla del Oro Company along the pacific coastline also saw the west and south coast suffer some of this chaos. But much of those traderoutes were controlled and kept pacified by the Hǎiyuánrén and the protection of Tzintzuntzan and Iximche.

    In 1616 things were finally shown to have completely and utterly spiraled out of control when two merchants had their soldiers, soldier caste and mercenaries alike, fight a battle in the markets of Tenochtitlan itself. A few weeks prior a massive raidingparty of Chichimecans had crossed the northern border to see what could be gained in the ensuing confusion.
    Ce Xochitl, huey Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan had both merchants executed and their properties seized. He then began a massive campaign of cleaning up the merchant caste of Tenochtitlan and the military establishment. Once finished, he descended upon Tlacopan and did the same thing there. He all but shut down all trade he hadn’t personally approved, everyone that opposed him ended up on the altars of the temples or in a shallow unmarked grave. Some say he had hundreds killed, others mention numbers upwards a two thousand.


    Spoiler: Tzintzuntzan, Mixteca, Zapotec and Mayalahtolli
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    The trade war period also affected the surrounding lands profoundly, as could be expected. The expansion of the trade routes made many Mexica much less dependent on the already established trade routes through the neighbouring kingdoms. As such the early expansion that the wealth trade had provided diminished somewhat and found a much lower but ultimately stable level.
    More concerning for the young kingdoms however was the banditry, which frequently spilled over their borders (a serious concern for Tzintzuntzan and Mixtecapan) and the numbers of returning mercenaries (particularly problematic in Mayalahtolli).

    Tzintzuntzan responded by building a specific road and declared that all trade must pass over that road. Hiring engineers from the Hǎiyuánrén and Spanish to construct fortified compounds along it in which they stationed soldiers. In addition they created a system in which all merchants had to check in regularly at these compounds and were issued a bead amulet as a sort of identification after proving that they were unarmed and followed the laws. Any foreigner found in the kingdom that hadn’t got one of these or were found with a weapon were promptly killed on the spot.

    It was moderately successful; it limited some banditry and spared the kingdom from the worst of the chaos that struck their much larger neighbor. But it also stymied trade somewhat, the soldiers in the compound often extorted merchants and fell into disuse towards the end of the period.

    Mixtecapan used a different approach and simply responded with overwhelming force against any settlement nearby from which a raiding party had come. Had Aztatlan been capable of responding this would have been practically suicidal, but the state of the nation allowed this to pass unanswered. That and in part because the mixteca made the effort to compensate locals if they responses affected them; which lowered the animosity over the border.

    Iximche enjoyed first a period of calm and then later in the period of a great deal of trouble. That many young warriors sought out profitable careers as mercenaries far to the north spared the young nations serious competition to the state, allowing the Kaqchikel nobles to strengthen their control of the state. But when the young warriors started returning they came back as seasoned warriors, with money and a sense of confidence. Even worse, many were K’iche and had grown up in families that resented their Kaqchikel conquerors.

    The mercenaries were never quite strong enough to topple the kingdom but they presented it with a true challenge. The worst of all being when a sizeable raiding party seized the royal palaces in 1619, unfortunately for them the king had been out with his army to quell another uprising and when he returned he stormed the palace and put every single one of them to the sword.

    In Itzá, down in the lowlands, the troubles were considerably less pronounced. Partly because it had no direct contact with Aztatlan itself. There were warriors that headed out northwest to make careers, but they were considerably fewer than from the neighboring highland kingdom and even fewer returned.

    The other part was that the king himself simply hired most of those that returned. Malaria had arrived to the region and devastated the population as it became endemic. In the 17th century the situation started to become more controlled once more, but the armies themselves were often decimated by the sickness. The mercenaries became not only a quick replacement, but their experience also ensured that they needed far less training.
    After some early successes of this new army, mostly against other mercenaries, the chief court mage managed to sway the king and the nobles to begin a war of conquest into the mopan maya lands to the east in Belix. A conquest that would occupy the kingdom for the next few decades.

    But despite the issues the mercenaries caused in Iximche and the uses they had for the ambitious people in Nojpéten both cases pales next to what Necahual managed to accomplish. He was a young warrior from the Yokot'anob (chontalli in Nahuatl, Chontales in Spanish) that fought all over Azatlan during the trade wars. In 1617 he returned to his homeland along with a large group of allies and companions he had made throughout his career. Most of them Màaya t'àan (yukatec), Yokot'anob but also some K’iche, Kaqchikel and also some non-mayans such as a handful Mexica, some Huasteca, a number of African former slaves and even some Spanish and a Dutchman. The last one, Jan Pieter van Groningen, wrote down their adventures (in a decidedly romanticized version) in his famous book “De glorieuze honderd metgezellen” that became one of the more famous works of the dutch golden age.

    Necahual and his one hundred (who in reality probably were far more than that) began with taking control over his home region, both from local chiefs and from Spaniards who had taken over settlements in the region. He then proceeded to Ah-Kin-Pech (Cham Pech or Campeche) and served the king there for a year, gaining popularity and fame. According to the book, he was so successful that the king became jealous and eventually turned on the larger-than-life warlord. Regardless, by the end of the year Necahual simply took the city for his own.

    From there he spent the next two years waging a war of conquest at a lightning pace, conquering one after another of the neighboring chiefdoms. In the end he had united much of the northern peninsula, excluding some of the interior and a few islands, under his rule. A kingdom stretching from the border to Veracruz and Totonacapan to Nizuc (Cancún) and from Mayapan to the borders of the Itzá conquests in Belix. A kingdom he named B’alam.


    Spoiler: Spain
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    The early 17th century was a period when Spain began to once more take an interest in the new world. For a long time it had seemed that they painted themselves into a corner with the partition of the world between them and Portugal.

    Much of the investment took on the shape of loans being handed out to the West Indies companies, the Castilla del Oro company, the Philippine company and support to the church missions to the new world.
    Despite the weakness of Azatlan and the turmoil in the Mayan lands Spain never really took advantage of them directly. This was because the country was rocked by its own serious troubles. The plague struck in 1596 to 1602 and devastated the countryside, in 1609 the king decided to expel the Moriscos of Spain and the country was recovering from serious wars against England and France in the 1590s. Taxes plummeted and the dutch were waging a very successful economic war as part of the 80-year war against the Spaniards.

    But the merchant companies were getting incredibly wealthy. Panama grew to a city of massive importance as it served as a hub for the trade between Spain, Fúsāng and the Phillipines. They started to receive significant competition from the newly started French, Dutch and English colonies (and the considerably older Portuguese ones) however. But thus far, the Spanish held a significant advantage in that they controlled most ports in the Caribbean.

    It was around this time that the Castilla del Oro Company develop it’s idea for a canal straight through the peninsula, funding several expeditions to plot out a route. But apart from this not much happened.
    But as profits climbed and Spain was left in peace following the truce with the dutch in 1609, the Spanish crown started looking at the New World. It actually went in and sponsored expeditions to secure Castilla del Oro’s southern border establishing missions and relations with the local Zenú and Muisca. Particularly once they got some return on those expeditions in the form of gold.

    In addition the crown funded the expansion of their colonies in La Florida to protect its merchants against dutch raiders. In order to better be able to keep a lookout for the ships of other Europeans, the colonies there allied with the local peoples. Among others: the Apalachen.
    In 1618 however, a serious event halfway around the world put a sharp end to the crowns investments into the new world: The defenestration of Prague.

    The age of empires 1620 - 1700
    Spoiler: Aztatlan
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    If the dawn era was the period that signified Aztatlans recovery and rebirth, then the age of empires signifies growing into its modern guise. Ce Xochitl is often attributed to be the man behind it. But as important as his rule was, it was merely one of many factors.

    Just as important was the changes that had and would continue to take place in the country itself, on all levels. Both its adoption of metal tools and metalworking and the impact that had on its industry and daily life but also the widespread introduction of European crops and animals. Both had already existed in limited form, but it was in this period they truly began to spread.

    Towards the end of the century, the nation was a dramatically different place than it had been in the beginning. It did not change completely however. Maize remained the primary staple, despite the introduction of alternatives (and of those, rice from Fúsāng became the primary one). Chickens and sheep quickly became widely adopted, the latter particularly in the north, but cattle and pig remained rare and neither completely supplanted dog as a source of protein. Every village had access to iron items, but it remained rather expensive and was often passed down through inheritances. The nation was changed by contact with the outside world, but remained distinctly vespuccian in character.

    Moreover, the spirit fields had by this time grown to such an extent that their production had an effect on the nation and limited the damage caused by famines and epidemics (which still tended to hit natives harder than Europeans).

    Much of this did not start in this period, and it certainly wasn’t at Ce Xochitl’s initiative. It was a transition, but it was at this time it started to become truly noticeable that it had a positive effect.

    The Huey Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan was an excellent general and a better statesman. After his pacification of Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan he turned on the rest of the nation and one by one brought the warlords to heel. Some he allied with. Some he defeated but spared. And some he outright destroyed together with their families. In some cases he spared their families if they allowed themselves to be sacrificed to the spirit fields or the Amicqui guard.
    He secured an alliance with the priesthood and the nobility, which together helped form a core around which his empire could be governed.

    The arrival of more Europeans prompted intense dealing with the powers from over the seas. Frequently deals were made with the French out of the newly established Nouvelle Orleans, with the Dutch based in Curacao and with the English based in Nassau, Carolina and eventually Jamaica. The Spanish too, were frequently dealt with: Sometimes business partner, sometimes friend but most often enemy. A policy that would prove to last well beyond the Tlatoani’s life.

    For the peoples in Tepechiapan and the chichimecan tribes his rule was to their detriment. The Zoque asked for help against the Tzotzils who demanded tribute from the former, Ce Xochitl obliged and sent armies south to assist them. Once the Tzotzils were driven out however, a permanent force was left behind and governed by allies of the huey tlatoani. In essence, the Zoque had simply traded one would-be conqueror for another.

    The chichimecans too saw the armies of Tenochtitlan conquer them. During the trade wars they had raided the north and now the armies of the mexica came to secure the borders by pushing those outwards and conquering any tribe that didn’t flee fast enough. Establishing a militarized border zone that gradually expanded to pacify its northern neighbours. This campaign continued after Ce Xochitls death in 1637, becoming something of a career for young soldiers and nobles that sought to prove themselves and gain experience.

    Throughout the remainder of the century, the other neighbours would see the armies of the mexica try their strength. Tzintzuntzan would lose some of its easternmost lands to their great neighbor. The mixteca, despite their attempts to limit the anger the mexica felt because of their responses faced punitive invasions and lost some of its northern lands. The Zapotecs had to defend their homeland together with their allies no less than four times in 60 years. Veracruz saw itself invaded once but its walls held thanks to being supplied through the sea.

    In addition, the empire managed to resist several attempts to weaken it. Both incursions by the increasing amount of pirates of its shores, but also but a proper invasion by the Spaniards in 1658.

    It was not all successes however. In 1677, the armies faced a massive uprising in Azcapotzalco and spent 3 years campaigning against the rebels. Eventually narrowly defeating and dispersing them in the field. In 1682 Tzintzuntzan took some territory along the pacific coast, expanding their lifeline to the trade networks outside the coast.
    As the turn of the century happened, Aztatlan was a regional power to be reckoned with.

    Spoiler: Tzintzuntzan, Mixteca, Iximche, Itzá and B’alam
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    Like Aztatlan it was in this period many of its neighbors crystallized into the nations they are today. Many suffered because of the strength of their much more powerful neighbor and relied heavily on their access to the sea for their survival.

    Tzintzuntzan developed extremely close ties to the Hǎiyuánrén, supporting a relatively large population of them in its port cities and frequently hiring them as engineers, mercenaries and advisors. The nation held a premier position as the leading metal-producer in mesovespuccia, both in terms of quantity and in terms of quality, as well as a prosperous trade. Though it lost some of its easternmost land it compensated much later by securing and cementing its access to the sea.

    This close contact changed the nation. Rice became something of a staple and the teachings of the Dao, Confucianism and Buddhism made inroads into the nation. Never co-opting the P’urepácha, but influencing them. The contact worked both ways as well, the close contact is part of the reason that Hǎiyuánrén food relies so heavily on mesovespuccian spices and maize.
    Mixteca also relied on its contact with the sea, but less so on the Hǎiyuánrén exclusively. The port cities frequently featured Spanish in addition to mandarin and Tu’un Sávi (language of the mixtecs) as a widely spoken language and in Panamá Mixteca were known as a reliable and great place for people to stay for a year or two to earn a decent wage. In the war against Aztatlan, Mixteca made use of an entire regiment of Spanish-speaking volunteers from Castilla del Oro and the Philippines.

    Zapoteca relied heavily on the protection of Iximche in the beginning of the century, but though the mayans of the highlands were skilled and reliable allies the tribute they required in return made the nobles in Mictla sour to the idea. Aztatlans expansion both served to fuel and quell these thoughts; the former because despite everything Huaxyacac (the land of the Zapotecs) was left alone but the conquest of the Zoque close by was a source of great concern.

    Furthermore, the border between Huaxyacac and Mixteca was anything but clean. A considerable amount of Mixtecs lived far into what the Zapotecs considered theirs and vice versa. With the zapotecs undergoing a period of establishing their identity however, this became a source of conflict and many mixtec resented having Mictla impose its culture on them.

    Iximche had problems of its own, it made use of considerable amounts of soldiers to protect the Zapotecs and collect tribute, but the land in-between them was primarily held by other mayans. As a means to secure the region, Iximche had backed the Tzoztils in their attempts to conquer the Zoque. Intending the tzotzil maya to serve as a client and help protect their interests in the region. Naturally the whole thing backfired horribly when Aztatlan intervened. The tzotzil ability to control the region was decimated, the zoque was conquered but by the mexica rather than fellow maya and put the region’s primary power within striking ranges of the trade roads in Tepechiapan (the region between zapoteca and Iximche). Nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.

    The domestic political situation turned upside down as the king was assassinated and the noble families turned on one another. The people largely didn’t notice except with the increased amount of lavish noble burials, but the whole situation didn’t stabilize until after roughly 40 influential persons had been assassinated over a 3 year period.

    In the end, the nobles managed to settle for a weak compromise of a monarch and their whole region enterprise came at the cost of Huaxyacac as a client. It remained a trade partner, but from that point on Mictla would handle its own affairs and not pay any tribute to the king in Iximche. Tepechiapan and the lowland coast of Cuauhtēmallān however, were both incorporated proper into the kingdom during the period.

    Where Iximche went through a period of weakness, Itzá proved to be more successful in its ambitions. The conquest of Belix was a slow process, but went rather smoothly. Rather than trying to take everything at once, the Itzá took one small region at a time and secured it. The way they used their armies was novel for the region and would in time spread to both B’alam and Iximche and from there to the remainder of mesovespuccia.

    In 1638 the Baymen, sailors and pirates from England and Scotland, began settling the coast and a few years later they and the professional armies of Itzá would come into contact. Initially it led to conflict. The Baymen thought they’d face crude savages and instead was confronted by a well drilled professional army, well acquainted with jungle warfare, horses and gundpowder (which had been adopted by the mercenaries during the trade war and then brought to Péten with their return). On the other hand, the Itzá could not dislodge the Baymen from the coastline.

    So instead a deal was struck. The Baymen would acknowledge the Itzá as the regional overlords and pay a small tribute to them; in return the Itzá would protect them from the Spanish and allow them to govern themselves. Neither Nojpéten nor Holzuz (the Baymen primary settlement) expected the deal to last, both merely agreed to buy themselves time to figure one another out. To theirs, and everyone else’s, surprise it did. Both peoples brought something that the other needed to one another and over time the ties between them strengthened.

    B’alam developed into something of a black sheep of a nation, though that it is a very liberal use of the word nation. Sometimes referred to as the Pirate nation, given that it’s largely mercenary elite decided early to provide harbor to the pirates that started to plague the Caribbean trade. It also became a safe haven for African slaves fleeing slavery in the Caribbean colonies and exiled nobles fleeing the Mexica and Mayan kingdoms. It was a kingdom, in the loosest sense of the word, ruled from Ah-Kim-Pech (Campech) by a warlord. An elite of warriors, in practice essentially robber barons, imposing their rule over the rural population, frequently warring with one another for control over villages or prestige but always paying lip service to the big man in Ah-Kim-Pech.

    Its decentralized nature is precisely what helped the nation survive, since it was frequently the target of punitive action from the Spanish and its neighbors. They’d come in and eliminate the local “noble”, but after they left a new one would show up in a manner on months. On occasion Ah-Kim-Pech would offer to handle someone in exchange for compensation.

    Spoiler: Spain
    Show

    The period marked decline of Spanish superiority in the region. First because Spain got embroiled in the 30-year war as the principal power on the Catholic side and thus all resources was shifted to funding that. Secondly because the war made Spanish targets in the new world acceptable and led to several colonies being seized by other nations. Thirdly because the 12-year truce between Spain and the Netherlands ended and the Dutch once more began their economic warfare… initiating the golden era of piracy. Fourthly, Europeans fleeing the sectarian violence in Europe peaked in this period.

    Much like during the dawn era, the 30-year war sucked massive amounts manpower from Spain, made worse by the terrible plagues that hit the country during the country. This led to that not only was there precious few men available to protect their Caribbean interests, but that the few men that could’ve been hired were instead recruited for the war. Most forts were held by little more than a skeleton crew of soldiers, the one sole exception being Veracruz. Moreover, the war demanded huge amounts of money and the empire turned its pockets inside out to fund the entire effort. It took out massive loans from the Bank of Panamá and pressured all the colonies to produce as much money as possible.

    Yet the bankers in Castilla del Oro still had interests to protect, but no soldiers with which to protect them. A few of the bankers that had contacts with the newly established Nuevo Granada (Colombia) colony found a solution however. The local Zenú, Tairona and Muisca peoples had two things they wanted: manpower and gold. So they negotiated a deal with the peoples where they’d trade weapons, horses, cloth, tools and alcohol for gold and soldiers: soldiers that would go on and be stationed all over Spanish Carribean as the El Dorado Regiments.

    The war, and its subsequent ones, saw considerable losses of colonies to other nations. Santiago was taken by the English and redubbed Jamaica, western La Española was taken by the French and became their prized Haiti. Several of the smaller Caribbean islands were taken by both of them, as well as a few by the Dutch and the Portuguese.

    Not all new colonies were taken through the war however. The French established Lousiana in the delta of the Mississippi (its premier city would not be founded until 1718 however). England created colonies in the Carolinas and in the Bahamas. The Scottish and English Baymen settled along the coast of Belix.

    During the 16th century, the Spanish crown had sold the rights to Venezuela to a german banker. This banker had then gone on to convert to the teachings of Jean Calvin and opened up his “Kleine-Venedig” to fellow adherents fleeing persecution, a prospect that attracted many French Huguenots in the 1590’s and Germans and Czechs fleeing the persecution of the 30-year war.

    All this helped erode the control the Spanish had held over the region, previously only isolated merchants had made inroads but now there was a permanent presence of ports offering to shelter anyone fleeing Spanish wrath.

    It was the presence of these ports and the restart of the war between the Dutch and the Spanish that would initiate the Golden Era of Pirates. Piracy was nothing new, but now it was supported and easy to get away with. The infamous letters of marque offered to privateers targeting Spanish trade between the Caribbean and the Spanish homeland. Four ports in particular developed as the cornerstones of the piracy: Port Royal in Jamaica, Tortuga in Haiti, Ah-Kim-Pech in B’alam and Belize City in Itzá.

    Piracy would above all mark the region from 1650 onwards, prior to that point it was still a muted and occasional affair.

    All these factors helped spell the end of the Spanish Hegemony in the region, even if Cuba and Castilla del Oro remained the principal powers that be among the colonies it was not near the ultimate control they previously had held. The Mexica and Maya shipping that started to develop too put a dent in this control, not a great one since they were still inexperienced and had poorly built ships but the presence of their homeports had an impact.


    The new world order 1700-1750
    Spoiler: Aztatlan
    Show

    The 18th century was a period of great flux for Aztatlan. It had during the previous century asserted itself as a regional power to be respected and even earned a bit of a legend of a land of great adventure and wealth. There were quite a few adventure novels of the era featuring a dashing young European man adventuring in the jungle. As such, Aztatlan saw many ambitious young men seek their ways to its cities to try their luck. Some managed to earn a place through charm, skill or luck, others simply found themselves out of money or chased out… the unlucky ones found themselves in a ditch bleeding to death or on a sacrificial altar. In a lot of ways, Aztatlan had a similar reputation as the Ottoman Empire did.

    For a lot of the Huey Tlatoani’s these young Europeans were often something of a novelty to show off at court. Some were dependent on them, some treated them essentially like pets and some shun them altogether. The throne frequently changed hands during this period, gone were the days of the strong monarchs from the past era. Their lasting legacy however was that the state endured these poor leaders.

    The constant shift in leadership led the state to constantly shift its priorities. Sometimes it was allied to this or that European powers a result of Aztatlan increasingly getting dragged into European affairs due to the interests in the Americas and its position in the Caribbean. For instance: In 1704-1706 Aztatlan was allied to Spain and sent soldiers to help them in Florida whereas later in the war of Spanish succession Aztatlan fought as an ally of France and with their help landed an army on Cuba (which got wiped out). At other times it promptly rejected European influence (often in favor of Fúsāng), resulting in the Mexica-Anglo war in 1716 after it drove out some English merchants from Huastecapan (resulting in Aztatlan being forced to reopen its ports to English and American merchants again).

    Despite everything, the growth of the Columbian colonies (as they were called more and more) was by and large beneficial for Aztatlan. It was without a doubt the greatest food producer in the new world, and sold much of its produce to the new colonies in exchange for metals, tools, weapons and slaves. The produce of the spirit fields were sometimes sold as well and was worth its weight in gold, incredibly prized in Columbia and Europe. Partly because the priesthood was so hesitant to sell even their surplus. But it also sold incredible amounts of chili, vanilla, xocolatl, tobacco and cotton. Moreover, during this period it began operating several silver mines. All this helped make Aztatlan an incredibly wealthy nation.

    On and off it also was a very aggressive state. The campaigns northward continued, reaching the rio grande and eventually encountering the Pueblo and Navajo peoples. Encroaching on the sphere of influence of the very recent Cahokian league. This led to the Mexica-Apache war in 1738, which is what firmly led to most Apache bands aligning themselves with Cahokia. A lot of these conquests were partly to try to secure the overland trade route between Fúsāng and Columbia and partly because of a constant need for slaves (for labour and sacrifice) and partly as a security valve, by letting nobles earn a career fighting in the north.
    The mayans, the P’urépacha, Mixtecs and Zapotecs also were subject to this aggression. Tzintzuntzan managed to fight them off several times, the Mixtecs both lost territory and later won it back and the Zapotecs were completely conquered between 1720 and 1726 before breaking off again in 1744. The Zoque rebelled in 1736 and fought the mexica off successfully for a year, but were eventually defeated. However a significant resistant movement hides in the hills, supported from nearby B’alam and Iximche.

    As the 1740s developed however, Aztatlan once more started to view Spain as its eternal enemy: even sending a large raiding party at Veracruz and a small cadre of ships to attack Castilla del Oro. It did not devolve into war that time, but it was close.

    Powerful factions are moving in Tenochnitlan, gauging one another for strength. Some see the time being ripe for seizing control of the trade routes north of the Rio Grande, others that their neighbours need to be brought to heel and others openly preach in the streets that the gods wants their chosen people to eradicate the Caxtilteca. Others still preach stability and peace.

    Spoiler: Tzintzuntzan, Mixteca, Huaxyacac and Mayalahtolli
    Show

    The 18th century formalized Tzintzuntzan as its modern nation. A nation politically dominanted by it nobility and its Fúsāngrén-P’urépacha mixed merchant class. A lot of its success came from that it was well supplies and well fortified, a nation almost entirely defined by its massive fortresses and supply lines. Surrounded by Aztatlan on all sides save the one facing the sea, this was more or less a necessity. This, it’s links with Fúsāng and it’s well developed metal industry helped prove to Aztatlan it was easier to trade with them than to conquer them (even if they tried several times).

    The mixtecs found themselves on the losing side of three wars, and then thanks to excellent leadership on the Mixtec side it led to the them retaking what they had lost in a single struggle. These wars helped spell a change in Mixteca however, both the king and the priesthood had been thoroughly discredited in the previous war, and with the defeat of the Mexica, the general Iin Kuiñi (1 Jaguar) seized opportunity and took power in Achiutla. He deposed the king and empowered the Mixtec city states to collectively elect a leader that would lead them. He had been to Castilla del Oro as a youth and come into contact with some of the ideas there and been inspired. As it happened, the leader that was elected was him and he was relected twice in the period 1639 and 1642 but stepped down in 1645 in favour of a new leader. Remaining in the background as an influential figure and de facto protector of this new and shaky noble republic.

    In the early 18th century, the relations between Achiutla and Mictla was reaching a new low as the two nations disuputed over who had the rights to demand tributes from villages in the border region between the two. Several times armed parties skirmished with one another and in Micta there was frequently cries for war. The people living in the border regions found themselves increasingly pressured and many seized the opportunity to flee, some north into Aztatlan. Which prompted the local mexica nobles to gather support for an invasion to stabilize their border region, an invasion that was launched into Huaxyacac in 1720.

    It took two years for Mictla to fall, but the countryside was never completely put under control despite six years of war that took most major settlements. Discontent brewed and in 1744 a major uprising rose up in Yagul during which the mexica governors lost control of the city, soon the uprising spread and the Mexica was forced out of Huaxyacac. Iximche had not sat idly by but provided the Zapotecs with weapons and supplies, and managed to once more establish influence among the people on their border.

    In the highlands Iximche maintained and expanded the influence it had over its neighboring regions: It supported the Zapotecs against the Mexica. Providing weapons and supplies, and even letting soldiers seek refuge in Tepechiapan. The kingdom funded Zoque rebels hiding in the hills in northern tepechiapan. It began establishing influence in B’alam and Itzá and in the fledgling nation that was developing in the southeast. Telling perhaps was that a common accusation in the region was to accuse rival merchants or nobles for being spies for the highlanders, regardless of the validity of the claim. In truth, Iximche probably had less influence than it was given credit for… but it had some and more importantly capitalized on them beautifully. Regardless of what happened in the first fifty years of the 18th century, Iximche seemed to benefit from it in some way.

    The Itzá success story wound down as the 17th century came to a close and the nation settled on carefully maintaining stability. The Baymen constituted a significant amount of its coastal population and the relations between the capitol in the basin and the people along the coast were frequently strained, often because of religious reasons. But access to European markets on the Itzá side and on precious mahogany on the Baymen side outweighed the conflicts between the two. Furthermore, they were increasingly intertwined and most had family on the other side.
    In 1725, following a raid from B’alam the Itzá army invaded under the pretext to protect its people and secure the borders of the kingdom. It became a long and hard campaign that was equally disastrous for the Itzá army as it was for the local populace. The warlords themselves avoided fair fights and ambushed smaller units. They would vanish into the jungles as the army approached and then reappear after it had left. After five fruitless years the Itzá pulled out and focused on fortifying its border instead. The only thing it had to show for its effort was a significant loss of life.
    The whole disaster sparked a massive purge among the nobility; many were executed, sacrificed or sent into exile accused of being traitors or spies from Iximche.

    Like Itzá B’alam had been a state which had ridden on a wave of incredible luck, and as the 18th century began that luck had run out. Partly because it had gained considerable wealth for being a having for pirates and indeed, between 1701 and 1714 this sparked up again with the privateers of the Caribbean once more attacking trade and seeking harbor in Ah-kim-Pech and on Cozumel island.
    But as the fleet presence of the major maritime nations increased the pirate era drew to a close. Unlike Belize city however, the pirate havens of B’alam had little else to fall back on and once this external source of revenue vanished the domestic politics began to fall apart. The nation maintained its independence against Itzá well enough and supported the Zoque against Aztatlan.
    But increasingly the warlords turned to pressuring the local yucateks for more and more tribute and started preying on one another. Some tried to experiment with the creation of plantations to grow cash crops, essentially enslaving people to work them, but found their effort hampered by significant amounts of armed peasants violently resisting.

    The 18th century also saw the development of the last of the Maya kingdoms, although kingdom is the wrong word in this case. In the lands between Mayalahtolli and Castilla del Oro there had been very little of value for the Spanish and so they had been left alone save for a few missions and some people fleeing Castilla del Oro (usually to escape debt). However, cattle, sheep, horses and llamas had been accidentally introduced and readily adopted by the locals. This had led to a rancher culture developing in the region from the Ch'orti' maya, the Pipil and the Mískitu, forming a mixed culture centered on family units owning large herds. Gradually these people expanded and established a degree of control over the region, but it was never particularly rich. By the 1730s, it had become something of a peasant confederation: ruled by an oligarchy of the richest and most influential peasants who voted on what to do collectively. Often refered to as Kuskatan.

    Spoiler: Spain
    Show

    The 18th century saw the end of the absolute control Spain had held over the Caribbean, though its decline had begun in the 17th century. But with the English in Jamaica, Georgia, South Carolina and the Bahamas, the French establishing Nouvelle Orleans (in 1718) in Louisiana and firmly controlling western Hispaniola and the Dutch in Curacao and all of these powers increasing their naval presence it was clear that Spain had been reduced to one power among many rather than –the- principal power. Especially since it had previously lost control of the lucrative slave trade to the English. With the Dutch expanding colonies halfway across the world in Indonesia, the Spaniards no longer had sole control over the lucrative Philippine trade either.

    It was not, however, out of the game. The Spanish internal markets were significant, built up over the centuries by the Caribbean bankers and merchants. The Phillipine-Castilla del Oro-Havana-Florida-Seville trade route was still the most lucrative one in the world. Ciudad Panama was the largest colonist city in the new world (despite being in a malarial swamp), shortly followed by Havana.

    However, the defining event of the early 18th century was the death of the last Habsburg monarch of Spain. Charles II. An event that plummeted much of the world into the war of Spanish succession: a war that took place in the new world, Europe and in India. It was as much about the succession of Spain as it was about control of colonies and trade.

    One side there was France and their candidate to the Spanish throne: Philip, most of Spain, Castilla del Oro, Bavaria and Aztatlan. On the other were Austria and their candidate: Charles, England and Scotland (whom united their crowns into Great Britain in 1707), the Dutch Republic, Savoy, Portugal and the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Valencia, Aragon and Cuba.
    In the end, the French side prevailed but their ambitions to unite the crowns of Spain and France was not reached (an ambition that wasn’t very popular in neither France nor Spain). Furthermore, both France and Spain had to give up significant territories as a result of this. Much of Spain’s Italian possessions (though not all of them) and the remainder of the Spanish Netherlands , and France gave up Acadia.

    The war was devastating to Spain and Philip V as the new monarch was crowned did not help matters by engaging in more wars throughout Europe and the Caribbean.

    In the colonies, things went slightly better. The prized jewels of the Spanish colonies in the new world were Castilla del Oro (to which New Granada was counted) and Cuba. The former as the hub of Spanish worldwide trade and the centre of the extremely powerful Bank of Panama, the latter as a plantation colony yielding massive quantities of cash crops.
    Beyond that there was the military colony of Veracruz, at times yielding lucrative trade at other times requiring to be defended from raids from Aztatlan and B’alam. In the 18th century, the “El Dorado” regiments from New Granada were frequently deployed here.

    Florida was a special case; the Spanish missions and forts had early allied with many of the local tribes (and soundly conquered the rest). A policy that had benefited the colony, and after the local garrisons protecting the missions had driven off English raids from South Carolina and Georgia aimed at their protectorates (with the assistance of an Aztatlan army no less). With this development Florida found itself being the destination of a large number of creek and Seminoles fleeing the wrath of the English settlers up north following conflicts involving them. Between 1706 and 1730 the population increased with somewhere between 30 and 60 thousand, most being settled in the Florida interior.

    Philip V remained a very belligerent monarch, even despite dramatic failures in his Italian campaigns. He abdicated the throne in 1724 in an attempt to instead take the throne of France but his heir died, despite the best efforts of Spain’s best Scarred Monks, and he had to return 6 months later and resume kingship of Spain.

    His, and his’ generals performances, in the War of Polish succession and the War of the Austrian succession was decent enough. But it put significant strain on the economy of Spain, despite its relative strength. Especially since British ships frequently attacked their shipping. Towards the end of his life his insistence of war started to gain him enemies in the Banks of Panama and Seville. They paid not only for much of the European front (technically the crown loaned money from them) but funded much of the Caribbean theater themselves, using their own small fleets and their El Dorado regiments. In Florida, the colony created the Los Regimientos Católicos Del la Florida. Consisting from volunteers recruited among natives that had converted to Catholicism.

    Philip V died in 1746, replaced by Ferdinand VI of Spain. An Enlightenment monarch who had been courted by the bankers in the New World and were sympathetic to their interest and willing to support them rather than merely see them as an asset. A new period in Spain’s history began, one where the colonies would become increasingly important.


    Whew...
    Last edited by Aux-Ash; 2014-03-02 at 05:08 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #1268
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Edit: Sorry, Aux-Ash! I didn't see you'd posted your timeline 'til after I had posted this. I'll comment in it as soon as I'm done reading it.


    So I've been thinking that the front page basically starts off with a huge text-dump, and people who want to learn about the setting have to read the whole thing before they really understand what it's all about. To help improve the experience of our first-time readers, I've crafted an elevator-pitch, and a possible dust-jacket blurb:

    Elevator-pitch
    Crossroads: The New World is a campaign-setting for the Pathfinder d20 system, based on North America in the mid-1700s, but with a few minor "improvements" to the timeline. Imagine a fantasy-world where Pirates of the Caribbean, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Dances with Wolves, and Apocalypto could all describe different arcs of a single, continent-spanning campaign.

    Dust-jacket blurb
    Imagine a North America which is very much like the one you may know, but where history takes a remarkably different course. Ask yourself...
    • What would have happened if China had begun colonizing the west coast at the same time as Europeans colonized the east coast?
    • What would have happened if the Dorset Culture had not died out at the hands of the Inuit, but instead absorbed the technology of their would-be successors? What if they began expanding their empire southward, picking up Norse ironworking and rune-magic along the way?
    • How would the balance of power in the fur-trade been different if the Great Plains merchant-city of Cahokia had thrived well into the 1700s?
    • What might have been if Hernán Cortés' illegal and unauthorized expedition in the land of the Mexica had ended in his death, and the death of his distant cousin, Francisco Pizarro? What if the mighty empire of the Aztecs never fell to foreign invasion, but instead continued to grow and expand by conquering its neighbors with "borrowed" firearm technology?


    Imagine a world where European wizards pit their magic against Native shamans, Aztec bloodcasters, Norsq runescribes, and feng shui geomancers. Imagine a world which is at once intimately familiar and shocking in its strangeness.

    Imagine a world you may have known your entire life, yet never truly appreciated how wonderful, how strange, and how exciting it truly is.

    Imagine… a New World.
    Last edited by SuperDave; 2014-03-02 at 05:22 PM.
    My Homebrew Projects

    Crossroads: The New World - Tribes, colonists, trade confederacies, and empires both new and old collide in an alt-history North America, circa 1750 A.D. (On the road to publication!)

    Author of Motor City Breakdown, Co-Author & Accuracy Consultant for Ashes of the Motor City
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  9. - Top - End - #1269
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    So, I’d like to say that the big fusang-related skype call was quite successful. Unfortunately, I’ve been extremely, violently ill, pretty much since I hung up on the call. It’s quite thoroughly unpleasant, but I’m starting to feel a little bit better, thankfully. Anyways, I’m gonna sum up some of the subjects we talked about in the call here so those of you who couldn’t attend don’t miss out on the awesome stuff.

    Meetings:
    So, one important new policy that we’re putting in place is that we’re gonna start having meetings on the first weekend of every month. From here out, we’ll start arranging the meeting at the last weekend of the month, with people voting on days and giving the times they’re available, then we carry through with it at the arranged time. I think this is a great way to help keep the setting on track and build up the community of the crossroads writers.

    Sasquatch:
    It’s been brought to my attention that some of you missed the first posting of the link to the sasquatch thread, so here’s another link to it. I’m really looking forward to hearing what all of you have to say regarding them.

    The Rainforest:
    The rainforest was significantly depleted during the initial years of fusang settlement, mostly around jade harbor, the wood being used to build the western capital and the surrounding settlements. However, the sasquatch signed a treaty with the Fusangren to protect the forests. The sasquatch will preserve and maintain the forests and swear their allegiance to the Empress, in exchange the forests become a sort of preserve, protected from logging. There has also been a significant change that’s taken place in the recent years: Invasive bamboo species have spread beyond the farms and found purchase in the rainforests, and now they can be found scattered all through the forest. In some areas, they have taken over entirely, in others there are only scattered shoots here and there.

    The Haida:
    These guys pretty much have to be at historical strength if we want them to have any major effect in the setting. So, there needs to be some reason they weren’t ravaged as hard by the diseases the Chinese brought.
    There was also a suggestion that the haida islands are protected by some powerful misdirection magic that makes it impossible to find unless you already know where it is.


    Fusang
    So, after the discovery by Zheng He, the Chinese send over a few ships to explore the land. They come back with reports of a wealth of fur and lumber, and the Chinese start founding a few small colonies. These are sort of used as ‘punishment posts’ for Ming officials that anger the wrong people. Like, sleep with the wrong wife/daughter, or do something stupid and cost a lot of money.
    Then there was the Qing revolution and there was a huge wave of immigrants, Ming sympathizers who would be punished under the Qing. This wave was more than the entire Fusang population of the time, and their arrival spurred a drastic expansion of the colonies.
    In current times, Fusang is mostly coastal communities, spreading relatively slowly inland along rivers. The territory extends from Jade harbor in the north, which is the official capital and the empress’ home, down to the Golden Bay, located near where San Francisco is in the actual timeline. Golden bay is the largest fusang city, and is the center of a trade network that goes all the way down to Aztatlan. They have a scattered coastal presence all along this trade network, but it’s not really under their control.
    Fusang and China have a somewhat rocky relationship. They’re too far away from each other to easily make a move on the other, and neither is really interested in starting a major war. Initially, there were a few attempts on the empress’ life from the mainland, usually assassins more than actual troops, but that died down once trade started to pick up. Now there’s an uneasy balance that stays in place as long as the trade continues to flow back and forth.
    One more thing, different areas of fusang have different goals and purposes. Some are supposed to be model Buddhist communities, others are built to harvest lumber, others are purely trade hubs.

    Buddhism
    This was a pretty big talking point in the meet. Buddhism is a prosthelytzing religion, and we’re generally of the idea that many of the northwest tribes would be highly receptive to the teachings.
    In the northwest, you gain status by giving things away, because it shows you’re not only rich enough to have all this extra stuff, but that you don’t even care about it enough to demand goods in return. Some tribes will even go into debt to maintain their status, giving away more than they can afford to in order to appear wealthier. The argument is that the tribes who’ve gone into debt would be receptive to the idea that physical wealth weighs down the soul, the same way the untouchables in India are very receptive to the Christian idea that all are equal. These tribes would say that being poor is not only forgivable, but actually good. They might practice a form of it that’s difficult to recognize, to outsiders, or they might just practice Buddhism alongside their traditional way of life.

    Shaman:
    So, the idea of a shaman class came up. Initially the suggestion was to use a third party class from the d20pfsrd, but then I had the idea to actually custom-build one to suit our needs sort of a druid/preist hybrid that works like a warlock. The comparison given was that these guys are to preists as the village blacksmith is to a famous swordsmith. The swordsmith can do very complicated and advanced sword-making techniques, but a village blacksmith can get most anything you need made easily enough, and he’s a lot more available than the swordsmith.

    Non-literate spell casting:
    One crazy-awesome suggestion was that we could open up the wizard class to character who aren’t literate by making non-written spell books. The example was a dream catcher, custom-tied to express the magical flow necessary to accomplish a certain spell. It kinda overlaps with the runecaster idea, but I’m cool with it.

    The Weakening of Old World Magic:
    This one’s a freakin’ amazing idea. The reason magical creatures and spellcasters are rarer in Europe and China (Africa too, but we haven’t really touched much on that), is that, around the dawn of the bronze age, Atlantis was founded. It was a powerful magocracy, and they used magic wantonly. Then, nobody’s quite sure why it happened, but the city exploded in a massive magical catastrophe. The resultant shockwave actually pushed the spirit world of the Old World further from the mortal world. And since Europe, China, the Middle East, and Africa are all interconnected through trade routes and people traveling back and forth, it affected all of them. This means that all the unexplored areas of the map are still rife with magic. This includes the New World, Austrailia, Polynesia, Hawaii, and so on.

    Caves:
    We started the conversation talking about the underdark, and whether or not we would have one, and eventually this idea evolved. Caves of a certain size and larger are actually physical portals to the spirit world. You have to go in pretty deep, but if you do you can cross over from the mortal real to the spirit world, a spirit-cave system similar to the underdark but even weirder. Add the weirdness of the underdark to the weirdness of the spirit world, and you’ll get the picture. Cave-beast spirits, earth elementals, and a variety of other strange creatures roam the tunnels. If you can survive and find your way, you can move through this tunnel system to other caves.

    Spirit World:
    This led to a discussion on the different ways to enter and exit the spirit world. At lower levels, you can enter the spirit world through astral projection, sending your soul across the barrier and leaving your body behind. This is much safer, as your soul snaps back to your body if you reach 0 HP, but you can’t travel through the spirit world like this, you can only enter and return to your body. But at higher levels you can physically enter the spirit world through plane shift.

    -----

    I'll be back to give some review on the timeline and elevator pitch later, I'm still pretty sick.
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    Crossroads: the New World: A pathfinder campaign setting about an alternate history of North America, where five empire collide in a magical land full of potential. On the road to publication!

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  10. - Top - End - #1270
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Hi there!

    I know nothing about D&D and even less about historical America, so I can not really contribute in any way but some moral support: I really like what you are doing here (and if I, with my lack of knowledge, feel that way, actual D&D-players should even more so!)
    So, well, congratulations with an awesome job done (/being done), I guess! :)

  11. - Top - End - #1271
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Quote Originally Posted by Murk View Post
    Hi there!

    I know nothing about D&D and even less about historical America, so I can not really contribute in any way but some moral support: I really like what you are doing here (and if I, with my lack of knowledge, feel that way, actual D&D-players should even more so!)
    So, well, congratulations with an awesome job done (/being done), I guess! :)
    Moral support's always welcome, it's great to hear that the work we're doing here is appreciated outside the little band o' contributors. Thanks for the encouragement!
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  12. - Top - End - #1272
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    It occurs to me that in Crossroads, Shakespeare's The Tempest would be based on true events.

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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    As much as I like the idea of Atlantis, I think we could stay away from it. I am already sold on the 'magic is equal everywhere' bit, because it just makes more sense to me, and Atlantis, as a place and a story, was made up entirely by Plato. Also, the concept of 'everything not connected to the Eurasia supercontinent is magical because...white people haven't discovered it yet?' doesn't leave a good taste in my mouth, and I doubt it would in most others.


    Quote Originally Posted by zzuxon View Post
    It occurs to me that in Crossroads, Shakespeare's The Tempest would be based on true events.
    As would A Midsummers Nights Dream, probably, but that's besides the point, because for all intents and purposes one could probably call on Zeus in this setting as a vestige or something.
    Last edited by Pokonic; 2014-03-04 at 10:28 AM.
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  14. - Top - End - #1274
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    I have something awesome to share with you all.

    *ahem* It is my distinct pleasure to introduce...

    CrossroadsTheNewWorld.tumblr.com!!!

    If you follow it, you'll be treated to regular updates of images, videos, quotations, and links which help establish the look and feel of the Crossroads: The New World campaign setting!

    I hope that it will be an effective way for us to explain the setting to our friends and drum up support via social media. Rather than just asking them to imagine what it's like, and then sheepishly admitting that you don't remember the URL off the top of your head, now there will be a simple, easy-to-remember URL that you can tell them about, where they can see exactly what makes this setting so darn awesome.

    -----------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Pokonic View Post
    As much as I like the idea of Atlantis, I think we could stay away from it. I am already sold on the 'magic is equal everywhere' bit, because it just makes more sense to me, and Atlantis, as a place and a story, was made up entirely by Plato. Also, the concept of 'everything not connected to the Eurasia supercontinent is magical because...white people haven't discovered it yet?' doesn't leave a good taste in my mouth, and I doubt it would in most others.
    But it's not just white people: it applies to Chinese and Middle-Easterners too. And it's really not a question of race at all, but of geography. When non-Natives arrive in these places, their spells become just as potent as those of Native spellcasters (though the colonists may not be as well-versed the uses of magic as the Natives are, since they have less experience with it).

    Native peoples aren't better at magic, magic just works better in (traditionally) Native-held lands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pokonic View Post
    for all intents and purposes one could probably call on Zeus in this setting as a vestige or something.
    I think that we can rule out the Olympic pantheon in this setting, since they've been supplanted by Christianity. They're probably not all dead yet, since they're not completely forgotten, but they're definitely on their way out.

    Gods are the ultimate politicians, and in politics, perception is everything. If the people believe that the Trinity is stronger than the Olympians, then the Olympians' power is broken. The only thing that truly destroys a god is to be completely forgotten, but being remembered as a fairy-tale used to frighten children isn't much better.

    Sometimes, though, gods can escape their demise by changing their roles (e.g., Pluto changing from god of the underworld to god of subterranean wealth) or by merging with another, more popular god (e.g., West African gods who merged with Catholic saints to become loas of Haitian Vodou).
    Last edited by SuperDave; 2014-03-05 at 11:48 AM.
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  15. - Top - End - #1275
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Vestiges are pretty much perfect for gods that have fallen out of widespread favor. (For those that don't know, vestiges are entities that should not exist, they exist nowhere and binders (a class) are able to make a pact with the vestiges, granting them abilities based on the vestige, as well as [if the pact is not well made] granting the vestige influence over the binder's action._ I am going to suggest, however, that all brewing and discussing of gods go in that new tumblr, seeing as they are real world religions and the forum rules prohibit discussion of real world religions.
    LGBTA+itP

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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    @Superdave: My issue with the idea isn't this:

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post

    But it's not just white people: it applies to Chinese and Middle-Easterners too. And it's really not a question of race at all, but of geography. When non-Natives arrive in these places, their spells become just as potent as those of Native spellcasters (though the colonists may not be as well-versed the uses of magic as the Natives are, since they have less experience with it).
    It's this:

    Native peoples aren't better at magic, magic just works better in (traditionally) Native-held lands.
    I thought it was established that magic's the same everywhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by Eldest View Post
    Vestiges are pretty much perfect for gods that have fallen out of widespread favor. (For those that don't know, vestiges are entities that should not exist, they exist nowhere and binders (a class) are able to make a pact with the vestiges, granting them abilities based on the vestige, as well as [if the pact is not well made] granting the vestige influence over the binder's action._ I am going to suggest, however, that all brewing and discussing of gods go in that new tumblr, seeing as they are real world religions and the forum rules prohibit discussion of real world religions.
    The mentioning of Vestiges actually reminds me of an idea I had for the setting; a Binder sort of class with ties to the occult that actually simply bound entities from the Ars Goetia as a method of gaining power, which, luckily, are already the entities used in the 3.5 Binder. It wouldn't be too farfetched that a class like that, based on esoteric knowledge and mysticism, wouldn't call on entities from two 'dead' cultures that have great influence in both esoteric knowledge and european culture; Egypt and Greece.
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  17. - Top - End - #1277
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldest View Post
    I am going to suggest, however, that all brewing and discussing of gods go in that new tumblr, seeing as they are real world religions and the forum rules prohibit discussion of real world religions.
    Agreed. We've really just been lucky that it hasn't really been brought up very much, except for religions which aren't really practiced by very many people anymore (like the Aztec pantheon).

    Quote Originally Posted by Pokonic View Post
    I thought it was established that magic's the same everywhere.
    But if magic works the same everywhere, then there's nothing to explain why magical creatures died off in the Old World, and didn't in the New World.

    If magic is equally common all over the world, then the Crossroads timeline will be wildly different from that of the our own, to the point of being unrecognizable. We'd have to completely rebuild the world from the Agricultural Revolution forward, instead of adding a patina of magic to an already-vibrant historical world.

    The presence of even a single 0-level spell would result in ENORMOUS changes in history. Think about how many people would be able to live in hostile environments (and clean wounds, and prevent water-borne diseases like dysentery) with access to a simple spell like create water. How much more quickly could fires be built at night with the aid of spark? How many wounded hunters and warriors could be saved with stabilize?

    Prejudice against mages might explain their rarity in Europe and the Middle East, but China and India didn't have a great tradition of witch-burning (not like the Europeans, anyway ) In fact, their prejudice against spellcasters probably never would have developed if magic were real: who would be crazy enough to use a pitchfork to attack someone who could turn you inside out with a gesture?

    Kings also have a tendency to ignore religious edicts whenever it suits them, and dropping a fireball in the center of your enemy's ranks is just too much power to resist, no matter the consequences for their eternal soul. Especially when not dropping that fireball means your head, and the heads of your wife and children, will end up on a spike on the ramparts of your own castle.

    It'd definitely be simpler if magic worked the same everywhere, but in the long term it'd mean a lot more work for us. If we make that the rule, then we'll have to completely scrap just about everything we've done for the setting so far, including Aux-Ash's marvelous timelines, and remake the timeline from the ground up.


    ...that said, remaking the setting from the ground up would allow us more freedom, since we wouldn't have to talk about real-world religions or assigning skills and feats to real-world cultures. We could make more stuff up, instead of worrying about what the people we're trying to represent will think of us. But it seems like a lot of work at this point, and it'd be easy enough to just file off the names ("Great Britain" becomes "Grand Brettonia", "China" becomes "Magnificent Ch'in", etc.) But that's really only putting a band-aid on the problem, and wouldn't explain why the timeline turned out pretty much the same with magic as it did without.

    Edit: To be honest, I'm kind of dreading the part where we get to Columbia, because we'll pretty much be forced to deal with (or just gloss over) two really big, really touchy subjects: the Catholic Church, and slavery.


    ...but that's an issue for another day. For now, we're focusing on Fúsāng!
    Last edited by SuperDave; 2014-03-06 at 03:13 PM.
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  18. - Top - End - #1278
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Fusang Brainstorming Session
    Brianna and I have plans for the middle of the day on Saturday, so I'm not sure when I'd be free for a Hangout. KungFuLobster says he might be busy that day, too: I'd really prefer that he be present for any Fusang-related brainstorming we do, since he's a trained martial artist, an expert on Chinese weaponry and military history (I think I mentioned he's a self-described "weapons-whore"?), and is half-Chinese to boot. So I feel that his input, especially in the early stages of planning, would be highly valuable to us. (Plus, he's a nice counter to my natural tendency for rambling).

    I'm actually wondering if it might be more effective for us to do this Hangout thing next weekend. Here's my reasoning: I haven't really had time to do any research on Chinese culture, or the Pacific Northwest, so I don't really know how much I'll be able to contribute to any discussion about them. I also haven't had time to do any research into how successful Kickstarter campaigns work, the differences between Kickstarter and other crowdsourcing services like IndieGoGo (and what their relative success-rates are), nor have I done any additional calculations about how much it will actually cost to incorporate a business or take a manuscript to print. I haven't even taken stock of how much we've written about the setting so far, nor estimated how many pages that material would fill. Before we meet again, I'd like to have some hard numbers in-hand, so I make effective use of everyone else's time.

    Could we reschedule this Hangout for next weekend? As cool as it was to get to talk to everyone, I feel like we really need to set an agenda for these things, rather than just bandying ideas back-and-forth (which is fun, but basically the same thing we do in the thread every day). If we're going to make this into a real, hopefully-profitable business venture, then we've got to be businesslike about it. After all, this ain't Monopoly money we'll be working with. It's the real deal.
    A hangout? u guys are meeting up to brainstorm Fusang? or what?

    Oh and btw, i would like to participate in this project. Lemme intro myself:

    Name: Mavakith
    Gender: Male
    Nationality: Born in Hong Kong, migrated to Australia when I was 10 and survived there for 14 years before saying: "F**k it, its just too damn dangerous here", moved back to Hong Kong and worked there for the past 4 years.

    What can i bring to the table:
    Trained in martial arts "Naan Kuen (Southern Fist)" & Muay Thai.. knowledge in Chinese & Japanese weapons and history
    knowledge in chinese martial arts schools (fictional and RL), etc.

    can I join?
    Last edited by Mavakith; 2014-03-09 at 08:16 AM.
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    [3.5] Warframe: Parkour Ninjas from the Ethereal Plane (WiP, PEACH)

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  19. - Top - End - #1279
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post

    Fusang
    So, after the discovery by Zheng He, the Chinese send over a few ships to explore the land. They come back with reports of a wealth of fur and lumber, and the Chinese start founding a few small colonies. These are sort of used as ‘punishment posts’ for Ming officials that anger the wrong people. Like, sleep with the wrong wife/daughter, or do something stupid and cost a lot of money.
    Then there was the Qing revolution and there was a huge wave of immigrants, Ming sympathizers who would be punished under the Qing. This wave was more than the entire Fusang population of the time, and their arrival spurred a drastic expansion of the colonies.
    In current times, Fusang is mostly coastal communities, spreading relatively slowly inland along rivers. The territory extends from Jade harbor in the north, which is the official capital and the empress’ home, down to the Golden Bay, located near where San Francisco is in the actual timeline. Golden bay is the largest fusang city, and is the center of a trade network that goes all the way down to Aztatlan. They have a scattered coastal presence all along this trade network, but it’s not really under their control.
    Fusang and China have a somewhat rocky relationship. They’re too far away from each other to easily make a move on the other, and neither is really interested in starting a major war. Initially, there were a few attempts on the empress’ life from the mainland, usually assassins more than actual troops, but that died down once trade started to pick up. Now there’s an uneasy balance that stays in place as long as the trade continues to flow back and forth.
    One more thing, different areas of fusang have different goals and purposes. Some are supposed to be model Buddhist communities, others are built to harvest lumber, others are purely trade hubs.
    Qing is not a revolution.. They invaded the Ming dynasty..

    The Jurchen were a Tungusic people who inhabited the region of Manchuria (The area between Mongolia and Korea) and first invaded and found the Jin Dynasty in the 12th century.. then got overthrew by the Mongols after 119 years of rulership. The Mongols ruled China with an ironfist from 1260 - 1368 as the Yuen dynasty. Which the Han Chinese rebelled and cast them out and Ming dynasty was formed (1368 - 1644). The Jurchen people came back during 1636 as the Qing dynasty and took China from the Han Chinese (92% of the chinese population and the ruler of China, well most of the time when they are not invaded anways )

    The Jurchens are the ones with the weird hairdo.. their men shaved the front of their heads and leave the back half long and weave that silly long hair into a single braid.. Other ethic groups (such as the Han Chinese) must also shave that particular hairstyle, if you don't they decaptitate you.

    Google this: "清朝髮型" to see what they looks like if you dunno already
    Last edited by Mavakith; 2014-03-09 at 03:28 AM.
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    [3.5] Warframe: Parkour Ninjas from the Ethereal Plane (WiP, PEACH)

    78% of DMs started their campaign in a Tavern. However, 90% of internet statistics are made up.

    This is how i start:
    Me: You're all in jail. Tell me why when I'm back from my cigarette.

  20. - Top - End - #1280
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    I would also like to introduce the idea of "Menpai" to y'all..

    Menpai is the name of martial arts organisation in China.

    It is similiar to a martial arts school, that have their own specialty and martial disciplines.

    Menpai, gangs and clans are a very important concepts in "Jiangwu", the world of Martial Arts.

    Most of the Menpai are very organizational and different Menpais have different renown and status in the Jiangwu. For example, Shaolin is a Menpai and it sits on top of the food chain along with a few others.

    Each menpai have their own jurisdiction (unoffical in the eyes of the Governement), usually just a small area (from a section of a river to a few towns).. But the most renowned might even have a whole mountain range and surrounding areas under their jurisdiction, Shaolin is one.

    The menpais have a rocky relationship with the government. They are thorns in the backside, but the government cannot underestimate the martial prowess of the Menpais to do anything about it. While most Menpais don't respect the Emperor and the laws, they also would not want to upset the govenment too much in case they send in their armies.

    The government of cause they their own little secret agent-like martial artists department to deal with major transgressors of the Law.

    How does that sound?
    If most of you approve, I'll work on more details and fluff it for the New World.
    Last edited by Mavakith; 2014-03-09 at 03:58 AM.
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    [3.5] Warframe: Parkour Ninjas from the Ethereal Plane (WiP, PEACH)

    78% of DMs started their campaign in a Tavern. However, 90% of internet statistics are made up.

    This is how i start:
    Me: You're all in jail. Tell me why when I'm back from my cigarette.

  21. - Top - End - #1281
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    I actually finished reading your most impeccable timeline a few days ago, Aux-Ash, and have been thinking about it a lot since then. I just haven't had time to get all of my thoughts down on paper (so to speak).

    First of all, I'd like to say that your work on this timeline, like your first timeline, is excellent and exhaustively-researched. I was embarassed to admit that I really don't know how different it is from how things actually progressed in the Caribbean, but what you've got certainly sounds right, so

    OK, so let me see if I understood everything you wrote. To paraphrase:

    Spoiler: The Trade Wars, 1600-1620
    Show
    After Cortes’ failed invasion, the Mexica realize that they need to adapt or die. They adopt European technology, declare themselves eternal enemies of the Caxtilteca (Castillians, or Spaniards), and attempt - unsuccessfully - to drive them back into the sea. Then the plagues came, but they weren’t as bad as they were in our own timeline, and didn’t kill nearly as many Natives. Then the Mesovespuccians started fighting each over favorable trade routes, until things got REALLY bad in 1616 and Ce Xochitl (the Aztec Emperor) kicked EVERYBODY'S butts and told them all to behave themselves.

    With the help of Chinese architects, Tzintzuntzan built a Great Wall around their country, which insulated them from the worst of the Trade Wars. Lots of Mayan city-states rented out its warriors to Aztatlan as mercenaries, but after the Trade Wars were settled, they started coming home and making trouble; Itza dealt with this excess of soldiers by starting a war of conquest againts the neighboring country of Belix. A few years later, in 1617, a Mayan mercenary captain named Necahual began conquering the states and nations which he would eventually forge into the kingdom of B'alam. Meanwhile, Spain was having its own troubles (which included several long wars and going broke), which prevented them from taking advantage of the chaos in Mesovespuccia.


    Spoiler: The Age of Empires, 1620 - 1700
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    Under the leadership of the great Ce Xochitl, Aztzatlan became the major power in the region, adopting metalworking, guns, and new crops from both Europe and Asia, while also shoring up their food supply with the implementation of the Spirit Fields. He worked with and against all the major European powers at different points, but Spain was mostly his enemy (a policy which continued long after his death).

    Tzintzuntzan suffered under Aztec aggression, and as a result became closer to their Chinese trading partners who were their lifeline to the outside world. The Mixtecs used Spanish mercenaries from Castilla del Oro and the Philippines to fend of Aztec aggression, and the Zapotecs turned to Mayan mercenaries to defend them.

    (I'm not sure I was able to follow what happened between Huaxyacac and Mixteca, the Zapotecs, Iximche, and the Tzotzil. )

    In 1638 a bunch of sailors and pirates from England and Scotland (called "the Baymen") started settling on the coast (of the Yucatan peninsula?). They were surprised to find out how well Itza had adopted European firearms, but the Baymen held their own against them, and eventually Itza offered them amnesty in exchange for preying only on Spanish ships.

    At this point, B'alam was really just a loose confederacy of Mayan robber-barons and European pirates and escaped slaves, but this helped them survive in the long term because there was no clear "head" for the Spanish to strike against.

    Facing increased danger from the Maya, the bankers of Castilla del Oro paid South Vespuccian warriors as mercenaries (called "the El Dorado Regiments") to defend their northern borders against B'alam. Eventually, Spain got so broke that they had to sell Venezuela, which became a haven for Protestants fleeing wars in Europe, who eventually turned to piracy against the Spanish to support themselves. They even started to lose some of their trade routes to the Mexica and Maya, who by this point had begun their first shaky attempts at shipmaking.


    Spoiler: The New World Order, 1700-1750
    Show
    At this point, Aztatlan was kicking some SERIOUS booty, all the way north to the Rio Grande, and was beginning to encroach on Cahokia's client-tribes. Aztatlan had become the largest producer of food in the New World, sold much of its food to the Europeans and the Chinese, and invaded the Mayans, the P’urépacha, Mixtecs, Zapotecs, and Zoque (who were conquered, rebelled, got put down, and are currently running a guerrilla war against them from the jungles). Many Aztec nobles feel that it's time to drive the Spanish completely out of Mesovespuccia by attacking Veracruz and Castilla del Oro.

    The Mixtecs had lost three wars, but surprisingly they regained all they had lost in a single lightning war. Tzintzuntzan was ruled by its Fúsāngrén-P’urépacha mixed merchant class. Achiutla and Mictla started fighting over tribute, which led the Mexica to "pacify the region". Iximche did well for itself for the first half of the century, by playing its enemies off one another. Itza and the Baymen didn't always get along (often for religious reasons), and eventually Iximche invaded to "protect their subjects" (meaning the Baymen) against invasion by B'alam. The Baymen drove them back with guerilla tactics, and ultimately Iximche was forced to withdraw.

    As the European fleets grew larger, piracy became harder, and the Baymen started to fall apart without a source of revenue. Some tried enslaving other peoples to grow cash crops, but violent peasant resistance put a stop to that.

    At this time, the mestizo nation of Kuskatan (formed by a mixture of Natives, escaped slaves, and Spaniards fleeing their debts to Castilla del Oro's bankers) began to coalesce into something of a peasant confederation.


    ...is that it? Did I understand it all correctly?

    ------------

    Why hello, Mavakith! It's nice to meet you too! Of course you can join us! We welcome any contributions that anyone has to make to our setting, and it sounds like you have a lot of valuable firsthand knowledge to share with us.

    For the record, "secret agent-like martial artists department" sounds like the best thing one could possibly put on one's resume. The government of Fusang would definitely have some form of super-cool secret police who practice deadly martial arts and have access to powerful spells and weapons. Perhaps they could be a prestige class like the Meiou Mingcheng ("The Nameless"), who are Her Radiant Majesty's* imperial guards.

    * in our setting, the only surviving daughter of the last Ming emperor is spirited away to Fusang, where many of her father's loyal subjects also fled to escape persecution by the new Qing government. Her granddaughter claims that the Forbidden City is hers by birthright, but she lacks the military power to retake it, and the Qing lack the naval power to dislodge her.

    ------------

    Some of you may have seen that the illustration at the top of the first post has been removed. This is because it turns out that Jim Carson, the guy who did that painting, has a legal notice underneath every one of his paintings (which I failed, ironically, to notice) which says "All images and content on this website © Copyright 2008 Jim Carson Studio and may not be used or duplicated in any form". Which seemed pretty airtight to us, and we decided to just take that down before his lawyers noticed.

    Anyone have any ideas for a replacement image that really captures the feel of the setting? If you do, then by all means tell us here in the thread, or you can submit it to CrossroadsTheNewWorld.tumblr.com to put it in the image-queue!

    P.S. Admiral Squish and I are working on starting a Facebook page for the setting! Keep your eyes peeled for it!
    My Homebrew Projects

    Crossroads: The New World - Tribes, colonists, trade confederacies, and empires both new and old collide in an alt-history North America, circa 1750 A.D. (On the road to publication!)

    Author of Motor City Breakdown, Co-Author & Accuracy Consultant for Ashes of the Motor City
    Major Contributor, Tenebrous Seas Wiki

  22. - Top - End - #1282
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    You know, for the longest time I've been meaning to look through this, because it seemed really cool when I first came across it.

    It's a little much to work through in one go, but the concept is great and it looks like you've been putting a tremendous amount of effort into it. Did I hear correctly you're working towards publishing this as a full campaign setting?

  23. - Top - End - #1283
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    Hello all! I see I've missed quite a bit, and I'll go catch up on that later, so when I get a chance, I'll leave an opinion of sorts.
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    Chewy, if you were a real Drow, you'd be a Sorcerer/Alchemist with a nack for explosions and a prechant for won ton destruction and joyful mayhem. ~ My drunken DM


    Originally posted by BRC
    Few people who want to play a monk actually want to play a monk (as in a semi-mystic kung fu master). What they (or at least I) want to play is somebody who can punch a dragon to death.
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  24. - Top - End - #1284
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    SuperDave:

    You got it mostly right.

    Huaxyacac is the homeland of the Zapotecs. It is their word for Oaxaca, which is a modern region in Mexico. West of it we have Mixteca and east of it we have Tepechiapan (Chiapas) which is the home of the Tzotzil and Zoque Maya and divided between Iximche and Aztatlan along a south-north divide.

    The Baymen indeed settled on the Yucatan coast, specifically in moden Belize which here is a province of Itzá.

    Iximche also never invaded Itzá. It was Itzá which invaded B'alam... unsuccesfully. The two kingdoms aren't on very good terms with one another but they remain at peace for now. It's also B'alam that's fallling apart with the loss of piracy not the Baymen (who has settled in sort of as a Mestizo trader class in Belize).

  25. - Top - End - #1285
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    It has been entirely too long since I've commented in here and I've no excuse. Sorry folks, trying to get back into the swing of it.
    -----

    Firstly, I'd like to welcome the two new people to the thread, we're glad to hear what we're doing is cool and interesting to you. Everyone's welcome to contribute or just talk about the setting here, feel free.

    We are indeed trying to turn this into a full-fledged self-published campaign setting. the goal is to have finished the overview of all the areas by the end of the year and have a product that can actually be played, with all the cultures and classes done.

    We're staring to have monthly hangouts on skype/google+. We start talking about the time/location of the meetup at the last weekend of the month, then have the meeting itself on the first weekend of the month. You're welcome to join in on the next one if you want, just drop me a PM with your info and we'll be sure to add you to the next one.

    -----

    Atlantis/Equal magic everywhere:
    I honestly could go either way with the whole dampened magic outside the new world thing, on one hand, it does help simplify some explanations, on the other, it could be a little restrictive to players looking to adventure outside the new world.

    Bro, the spells you're pointing out are going to be there anyways. whether or not we limit magic in the old world, there is still going to be magic. We can't just write off the entire old world as a magical dead zone. Your argument that 0-levels spells would change the face of the world is likely true, but it's honestly irrelevant. I'm not going to remake the entire world at this point in the production. the whole point in this setting is that history follows the same GENERAL path, but not EXACTLY the same path. The people ar different, sometimes things change, there's magic, but more or less, it all ends up the same. And for the fifth time, we're not gonna rename everything, that's just silly and confusing for everyone. If you're concerned about people thinking we're talking about the real groups/religions/organizations, I'll put up a disclaimer in the first post or something. something that says 'we're not actually talking about the ____, we're talking about a fantasy-historical version of the _____'.

    Qing dynasty takeover
    I am actually aware of the process of how they took over, I just used the wrong word to describe it in the post.

    Menpai
    Very cool idea! I was aware of martial arts schools having a bit of control over the local area but I wasn't really aware that they had any kind of semi-formal governmental control over the regions.
    And yeah, as superdave said, government martial artist is a pretty awesome job description to have on your resume. I could certainly imagine government martial arts organizations on both sides of the pond. Perhaps they're even rivals? Like the CIA and MI-6. But less secret agent stuff and more punching.

    Timeline:
    I still haven't gotten the chance to get all the way through it, I'm sorry. I'm like 1/3 through the second age in the post.

    New World Dragons:
    This is an issue that's come up in the brew-call thread, and I'm still not certain how much of it should be made into immutable gospel. The idea that new world dragons are more like snakes than traditional dragons. I mean, it fits what we have so far, but I'm still trying to figure out if they should have legs at all. If you interpret the 'horned serpent' image as a dragon, the new world has a pretty dang impressive variety of dragons, and they can be found all across the continent. Perhaps they're descended from the serpentine Chinese dragons and just atrophied the legs off entirely?

    Mesovespuccia races:
    Still no commentary on this and i kinda need some help on this one. If we update quetzals that's one race, but I still need ideas for another one that allows players to do something different than the snakes, I'm sure not everyone wants to play a character with no arms. It needs to be something not limited to aztec culture, or any other specific cultural group, something that can be found in legends and myths all through the mesoamerican region.
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    New World Dragons:
    This is an issue that's come up in the brew-call thread, and I'm still not certain how much of it should be made into immutable gospel. The idea that new world dragons are more like snakes than traditional dragons. I mean, it fits what we have so far, but I'm still trying to figure out if they should have legs at all. If you interpret the 'horned serpent' image as a dragon, the new world has a pretty dang impressive variety of dragons, and they can be found all across the continent. Perhaps they're descended from the serpentine Chinese dragons and just atrophied the legs off entirely?
    Assuming we are using Pathfinder's Imperial dragons as the base for the varied kinds of oriental dragons, I would think that it would just be easier to assume the mesoamerican dragons are their own thing. I mean, their are serpentlike 'dragons' in europian myth and folk tails, and DnD Linnorms were probably a thing in northern europe here.
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  27. - Top - End - #1287
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    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Qing dynasty takeover
    I am actually aware of the process of how they took over, I just used the wrong word to describe it in the post.

    Menpai
    Very cool idea! I was aware of martial arts schools having a bit of control over the local area but I wasn't really aware that they had any kind of semi-formal governmental control over the regions.
    And yeah, as superdave said, government martial artist is a pretty awesome job description to have on your resume. I could certainly imagine government martial arts organizations on both sides of the pond. Perhaps they're even rivals? Like the CIA and MI-6. But less secret agent stuff and more punching.
    I know u used the wrong word lol, just a minor nitpicking..

    Well, Ming Dynasty's secret agents actually aren't on good terms with various Menpais so I doubt you'd put it on your resume. And you won't need a resume because once you get in, the only way out is death.

    BTW, the Imperial Court have two of these factions/departments:

    A) The Secret Police, but not so secret at all. Widely known and feared across the Country, they are the Jinyiwei. They report directly to the Emperor..

    B) These are the spies and assassins. Their name translate to "East Factory" (please DO NOT use this name, it sounds very lame after the translation, use Dongchang instead). Dongchang officials reported directly to their director (a eunuch with great political power) and in turn Nick Fury the eunuch Director reports to the Emperor and the Emperor only. Their official weapons are two scimitars, one with the word Dong (East) engraved on the pommel and the other with Chang (Factory) engraved. Their main duties are to monitor government troops, public officials, celebrities, and scholars of various political forces, get rid of dissidents, political criminals, etc.

    Although Dongchang and Jinyiwei are all Chinese Ming Dynasty Imperial secret agents, the status of the Dongchang is relatively higher. As Dongchang's method of repression of freedom of speech is extremely cruel, and they have an unhealthy habit of taking credit to themselves or use their powers to seek unscrupulous personal gain (illegal or not). As a result they created a large number of "miscarriages of justice", the reputation of Dongchang is extremely bad.

    Then there's the SWAT equivalent " Six Doors" (Liushanmen), that investigates and arrests Martial Artists that defiled the law. They are named this way because all of their offices' buildings/mansions have three double doors.. one facing East, South and West (it is the Imperial Law said they must do so).. They do get along ok with the Menpais as sometimes the Six Doors need the help of the Menpais to investigate different crimes and they respect the Menpais unlike the two secret organizations above.


    Now to the Qing Dynasty's secret agents:

    Not much is know about them other than the fact that they are called the Flying Guillotine. Just because their signiture weapon is the Flying Guillotine. There's recently a cantonese movie about them, and the fluff of Meiou Mingcheng would fit it rather well. However, Meiou Mingcheng doesn't roll off the tongue quite well..
    The form it uses is more suitable for writing and not speech.. I recommend using Wu-ming instead.. means the same thing..


    Also, I have an idea for China:

    The Ming officials that didn't escape to Fusang developed a few secret organizations (having friendly relationship with various Menpais in China), which continues to try and overthrew the Qing dynasty so the Great Granddaughter of the Last Ming Emperor can claim The Forbidden City back. They are funded by the Fusang Imperial Court (although both parties denies this) to cause trouble to the Qing government.
    Note: These secret organizations are the former version of Triads nowadays

    PS: My mother language is Cantonese, so I probably failed on the accent for the Mandarin names..
    Last edited by Mavakith; 2014-03-10 at 01:30 PM.
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  28. - Top - End - #1288
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    I don't have long to type, but I was just reading about the settlement of British Columbia, and I learned that settlement was sparse for the first few decades, until gold deposits were discovered further up the Fraser River, which caused a miniature gold rush. The settlement which would later become the city of Vancouver expanded rapidly, which led to overcrowding, which led to devastating fires because everything in the settlement was made of wood (one Woodcutters' Union spokesman famously said "Bricks? Why on earth make bricks when we got all these trees around?").

    I imagine that gold would sound pretty enticing to the Chinese, too. After the fires, they might construct some buildings of bamboo (because it grows faster), but this might be the first step towards the deforestation that forced the Sasu Qua'che to take action to protect their forests. Logging might even the whole reason they came out of hiding in the first place: at first they figured that these strangers couldn't be any worse than the humans they were used to, and hoped to remain completely hidden, but as the forests began to disappear into Chinese cookfires and pagodas, they felt they had to speak up, and approached several major officials in their dreams.

    That's all I've got for now. Later!

    Edit: I've got a little more time now...

    Quote Originally Posted by Aux-Ash View Post
    Huaxyacac is the homeland of the Zapotecs. It is their word for Oaxaca, which is a modern region in Mexico. West of it we have Mixteca and east of it we have Tepechiapan (Chiapas) which is the home of the Tzotzil and Zoque Maya and divided between Iximche and Aztatlan along a south-north divide.
    You might want to include a translation or glossary, so people can keep track of all the unpronounceable places they've never heard of. That, or send me your draft for the next Aztatlan map; that'll help clear a lot of this up, I'm sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aux-Ash View Post
    The Baymen indeed settled on the Yucatan coast, specifically in moden Belize which here is a province of Itzá.

    Iximche also never invaded Itzá. It was Itzá which invaded B'alam... unsuccesfully. The two kingdoms aren't on very good terms with one another but they remain at peace for now. It's also B'alam that's fallling apart with the loss of piracy not the Baymen (who has settled in sort of as a Mestizo trader class in Belize).
    I guess that if it wasn't clear to me, someone who's familiar with the setting and the major players, it's going to be even more confusing to the newbies. There must be a way to make the narrative flow a little more clearly...

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    If you're concerned about people thinking we're talking about the real groups/religions/organizations, I'll put up a disclaimer in the first post or something. something that says 'we're not actually talking about the ____, we're talking about a fantasy-historical version of the _____'.
    Yes, I think that would be an excellent idea. Adding a disclaimer to the front page would satisfy me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    New World Dragons:
    Perhaps they're descended from the serpentine Chinese dragons and just atrophied the legs off entirely?
    Ideas like this are one of the many, many reasons I love this setting!

    Is there some reason we can't make them true dragons, just minus the wing and claw attacks (in some cases), and replacing them with gaze attacks and other cool powers? Is this a question of whether they should be "true dragons" or not, or a question of whether they should even be dragons at all?

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Mesovespuccia races:
    Still no commentary on this and i kinda need some help on this one. If we update quetzals that's one race, but I still need ideas for another one that allows players to do something different than the snakes, I'm sure not everyone wants to play a character with no arms. It needs to be something not limited to aztec culture, or any other specific cultural group, something that can be found in legends and myths all through the mesoamerican region.
    What about that Vision Serpent thing you were telling me about the other day? Quetzals could be like a race of innate channelers, able to summon spirits and/or ghosts of varying power (which would be related to the Quetzal's current HD or level) and bind the spirit in their own bodies, rather than needing a summoning circle and a lengthy ritual? They'd be like serpentine versions of the Oracle of Delphi! There's no telling how many uses players and DMs alike might find for this ability, and snakes are already strongly associated with the spiritual in many cultures (including the aforementioned oracle).
    Last edited by SuperDave; 2014-03-10 at 03:56 PM.
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  29. - Top - End - #1289
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    New World Dragons

    There are serpent-like dragons all across the globe, this is true, but I just like the idea of the new-world dragons being entirely legless, as flying or swimming serpents. As far as I know, linnorms have front legs but no back legs. The idea of them being descended from the chinese dragons is mostly so as to explain the serpentine body and the total lack of legs.

    They would be legitimate dragons, with a different body plan and perhaps some other changes. One important thing to note is that the loss of claws and wings can be a serious issue. They're losing four out of six natural attacks.
    Mostly, it's a question about whether the dragons could change that much from the 'classical' dragon and still be counted as true dragons with all the age categories.

    Ming/Qing Agents:

    Man, this is why it's awesome to have sources who are actually immersed in the cultures, internet research can only take you so far. I never woulda been able to form a clear image of all the different agencies and their different roles.
    These all sound like pretty awesome organizations, and I'd love to see these eventually becoming full-fledged prestige classes of their own.

    Mesovespuccia Races:

    We're keeping the quetzals, that's already been discussed, though the exact nature of the change can still be debated. What I'm trying to do now is get ideas for another, different race for the aztatlan region. Nagual and Tonal race ideas didn't seem to get much traction, so I'm trying to see if anyone else has ideas that the thread would like better.

    Jing
    So, this was pointed out in the huli jing thread earlier and I think I should probably draw attention to it. I built the huli jing on the idea that they're a distinct, sort of magical fey thing. But a bunch of previous unnoticed/ignored elements that showed up in my research were brought to the forefront. Turns out, Huli jing are a very popular kind of spirit to use in legends, but the idea of jing is something distinct. the idea is that they originate as animals and plants that live exceptionally long lives and start gaining magical powers, including the ability to take human form. Which kinda presents a problem. On one hand, we want to be loyal to the myths and this does open up a lot more options. On the other hand, I'm quite fond of all the work I've done on the huli jing, and this change would likely require a complete rewriting of them.

    Mini Gold Rush:
    That definitely makes a lot of sense. After the wave of immigration, the Ming government would probably be pretty desperate for a new influx of capital, and gold ready to be mined up would be a huge lure for them. I could certainly imagine the chinese camps causing enough problems to bring the sasu qua'che out of their neutrality. Perhaps some young males even attack the camps with thrown rocks and such before the elders are moved enough to appeal to the dreams of the leadership.
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  30. - Top - End - #1290
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    Default Re: Crossroads: The New World

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post

    Ming/Qing Agents:

    Man, this is why it's awesome to have sources who are actually immersed in the cultures, internet research can only take you so far. I never woulda been able to form a clear image of all the different agencies and their different roles.
    These all sound like pretty awesome organizations, and I'd love to see these eventually becoming full-fledged prestige classes of their own.
    I'm taking that as a compliment.. hahaha..
    I'm very inexperienced in the field of homebrewing, so i might be able to put forth some ideas, but in regards to balancing, i have no clue what so ever.

    Jing
    So, this was pointed out in the huli jing thread earlier and I think I should probably draw attention to it. I built the huli jing on the idea that they're a distinct, sort of magical fey thing. But a bunch of previous unnoticed/ignored elements that showed up in my research were brought to the forefront. Turns out, Huli jing are a very popular kind of spirit to use in legends, but the idea of jing is something distinct. the idea is that they originate as animals and plants that live exceptionally long lives and start gaining magical powers, including the ability to take human form. Which kinda presents a problem. On one hand, we want to be loyal to the myths and this does open up a lot more options. On the other hand, I'm quite fond of all the work I've done on the huli jing, and this change would likely require a complete rewriting of them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Hmm... You know, I had heard all the things you mentioned here, but I suppose I never connected them all properly.

    But now that you've pointed them all out, I'm suddenly full of doubts as to my little creation here. Maybe there should, instead, be a general jing race where you transform back and forth between a semi-customizable base animal form and a human form. But then again, I had a similar idea for a nagual race and that wasn't particularly popular either. Though, I suppose if it's more loyal to the myths...

    Still, I would really hate to just trash everything I've done thus far, though perhaps it could be salvaged into a non-crossroads-specific race.
    Don't doubt your own work! Its great and with alot of flavor!
    we could be both loyal to the myths and blend in elements of your fluff..
    what happens when a group of Jing halfbreeds started a clan?
    what happens after a few generations of half-jings marriage?
    in the case of Fox Jings, the Huli Jings(狐狸精) are formed and they sorta became a separate race.. just acknowledge the Jing part in your fluff, make a few more separate Jings that suit our tastes (and have alot of flavor), and have a generic Template for other Jings that apply to other animals and plants that we don't care as much. I kinda consider Treants and Dyrads Jings that became their own race as well.. Maybe list Jing as a subtype as well? So your Huli Jing is (Fey, Jing) and treants and dyrads can be (plant/fey, Jing)?
    Note: In terms of naming things, Jings(精) are Neutral.. for Evil ones, the chinese calls them Yao(妖).. So an evil fox spirit would be called a Huli Yao.. Xian(仙) as in Hu-xian are good and the really really evil ones can be called the Hu-mo.. ("Mo"(魔) is no less evil compared to Yao, just more bloodthirsty and direct in their methods..

    PS: Huli Jing is usually a term associated with mistresses.. a plain old "Hu Jing"(狐精) would be better off to avoid confusions.

    EDIT:
    I've also got loads of Chinese mythological creatures and classes up my sleeves.. I'll throw the ideas out when we get there..
    Last edited by Mavakith; 2014-03-11 at 04:42 AM.
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