When Fantasy meets Medieval Europe

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Thomas Bowman

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1100 AD to be precise. Medieval Europe: This is the Dungeons & Dragons Map I plan on using.
europe_1100_ad_hex_map_original_cropped_by_thomasbowman767-dc5azei.png
Each hex is a combination of two or more terrain types for instance there is sand dunes and desert, forested mountains, desert mountains, there are three kinds of forest, pine forests, deciduous forests, and warm forests. pine forests are also cold forests, deciduous forests are also temperate forests, and warm forests are those forests made up of trees that do not drop their leaves, you could also call the tropical forests, there are also shrub lands, shrub lands with hills, mountains etcetera. There are three kinds of mountains, short medium and tall. Medium mountain hexes have three white capped mountains in a hex, large mountains are single white capped mountain hexes. There are also swamps, rivers, cities castles, ruins, oases and volcanos. the basic conceit of this map is that it centers on the human lands with human nations such as England and France. Elves come from "West over the Sea" in other words they are native to North America, they have discovered Europe in this setting rather than the Europeans discovering America, as of 1100 AD, this hasn't happened yet. Dwarves live in underground kingdoms in the various mountain ranges of Europe. Orcs come from the Asian steppe. Halflings and Gnomes come from South America. Half-elves and half-orcs are created from the Union of elves and humans in the first case and orcs and humans in the second.

Everything otherwise on this map is historical Europe with historical rulers, but with fantasy added.
Here is the political map of the same region:
europe_1100_ad.jpg

So what do you think? Would this make a great Dungeons and Dragons setting?
 

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Derren

Hero
How historic do you want the setting to be in the first place?
The Americans discovering Europe is a major change in the history (as is they even having the technology to do so). And when are they slated to arrive? The historical 1492 date? So nearly 400 years without elves?

There is also a disconnect between the D&D rules and the historical middle ages. D&D is a very loose fantasy version of the middle ages but many things found in it like in the equipment section or your stereotypical D&D town or castle are more fitting to the renaissance era than 1100.
Then again, I doubt many people have much knowledge of that timeframe anyway.
 
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UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
A couple of things spring to mind. The mountains the Dwarves are in could have a huge geopolitical impact. A strong Drawven presence in the Alps/Switzerland could have prevented the formation of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly the second instance under Otto et al.
If the Elves can project power across the Atlantic then they have ships at least comparable with caravels/carracks and way ahead of anything in Europe a the time. This give the Elves the opportunity to set up global maritime trade empires.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
Dude that is an awesome map.

I don't have anything else to contribute, sorry.
 


Thomas Bowman

First Post
How historic do you want the setting to be in the first place?
The Americans discovering Europe is a major change in the history (as is they even having the technology to do so). And when are they slated to arrive? The historical 1492 date? So nearly 400 years without elves?

There is also a disconnect between the D&D rules and the historical middle ages. D&D is a very loose fantasy version of the middle ages but many things found in it like in the equipment section or your stereotypical D&D town or castle are more fitting to the renaissance era than 1100.
Then again, I doubt many people have much knowledge of that timeframe anyway.

Simple, the Elves sailed across the Atlantic to discover Europe and they brought Renaissance era technology with them minus gunpowder and guns, these elves also have full plate mail and the full assortment of equipment found in the Player's handbook, the humans being a quick study adopted this technology. The elves sailed into various ports in Europe starting at around 1100 AD, before that, history as we know it in Europe and Africa ran its course. The elves also sailed south and discovered South America, and picked up some Halflings and gnomes that live in that continent. Asia is pretty much the same as our Asia except Orcs replace the Mongols, and instead of riding on horses these orc ride on large worgs. the Orc lands begin at the Urals. West of the Urals are the Russian Principalities. Africa is pretty much Africa with some monsters and magic added. Europe is populated primarily by humans, but their are also kingdoms of dwarves living in the various mountain ranges, these ranges also act in many cases as the borders between human kingdoms, there are also monsters, both intelligent and not so intelligent, and dragons of various colors and metals. Magic is a part of the reality of Europe, their are wizards and sorcerers, clerics and druids, rangers, paladins, and bards, and of course monks fighters, rogues and barbarians. This hex map is the homeland of the elves:
american_hex_map_by_lurch_jr-d9y7dym.jpg
 

Thomas Bowman

First Post
A couple of things spring to mind. The mountains the Dwarves are in could have a huge geopolitical impact. A strong Drawven presence in the Alps/Switzerland could have prevented the formation of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly the second instance under Otto et al.
If the Elves can project power across the Atlantic then they have ships at least comparable with caravels/carracks and way ahead of anything in Europe a the time. This give the Elves the opportunity to set up global maritime trade empires.

The elves are not united of course, there are several kingdoms of elves on the continent of North America, including the drow that live underground, and their are tribes of wild elves living between the elven kingdoms Aquatic elves live in the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, closer to Europe merfolk live on the continental shelf of Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean seas, and of course their are the evil aquatic races along with them, and various sea monsters as well. The gnomes and halflings live in the Southern portion of South America, about where Argentina and Chile is today, between them and the elves, is a continent full of dinosaurs, and tribes of amazons living in the Amazon rain forest. Amazons in this setting are their own separate race. There is a large wall at about where the Panama Canal is in our world, this wall serves to prevent the dinosaurs from migrating north into central and north America, it is believed that at one point in their history, the Amazons were more civilized and built this wall, but today they are splintered warring factions.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
Nice effort!

But I have to admit, I'd never consider playing anything but Ars Magica in a 'mythic' Europe setting. It's simply the best fit. You get a ton of well-researched background material and the fantastic elements are so well integrated with the historical facts that everything makes sense.
 

Thomas Bowman

First Post
A couple of things spring to mind. The mountains the Dwarves are in could have a huge geopolitical impact. A strong Drawven presence in the Alps/Switzerland could have prevented the formation of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly the second instance under Otto et al.
If the Elves can project power across the Atlantic then they have ships at least comparable with caravels/carracks and way ahead of anything in Europe a the time. This give the Elves the opportunity to set up global maritime trade empires.
There is no reason why a Dwarven Kingdom couldn't be part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire itself is made up of a number of subordinate kingdoms, and a Dwarven Kingdom would just be one more of those, the Emperor leaves the Dwarves alone in running their day to day affairs, the dwarves are very good at forging weapons and mining minerals out of their mountains, and they trade their products for food imports, as the Dwarves don't like to be bothered with farming on their mountain sides.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
The elves are not united of course, there are several kingdoms of elves on the continent of North America, including the drow that live underground, and their are tribes of wild elves living between the elven kingdoms Aquatic elves live in the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, closer to Europe merfolk live on the continental shelf of Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean seas, and of course their are the evil aquatic races along with them, and various sea monsters as well. The gnomes and halflings live in the Southern portion of South America, about where Argentina and Chile is today, between them and the elves, is a continent full of dinosaurs, and tribes of amazons living in the Amazon rain forest. Amazons in this setting are their own separate race. There is a large wall at about where the Panama Canal is in our world, this wall serves to prevent the dinosaurs from migrating north into central and north America, it is believed that at one point in their history, the Amazons were more civilized and built this wall, but today they are splintered warring factions.

If the elves are not united then that makes the Elven trade empire inevitable. Same drivers that drove the European empires. Where as China's expansionist policy under one emperor was reversed under another by the bureaucracy as it brought about too much change and was difficult to manage.
Of course, since elves are notoriously slow breeding, they will not have the population pressure to take over large areas like the Europeans did and it will be more trade enclaves like the early Portuguese and Dutch in our world.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Another thought the Greenland colony's first contact on the American mainland would be with elves with clearly superior tech and might overawe the Vikings enough to make the contact peaceful and so the Greenland settlement would have someone to trade with and might survive.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
There is no reason why a Dwarven Kingdom couldn't be part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire itself is made up of a number of subordinate kingdoms, and a Dwarven Kingdom would just be one more of those, the Emperor leaves the Dwarves alone in running their day to day affairs, the dwarves are very good at forging weapons and mining minerals out of their mountains, and they trade their products for food imports, as the Dwarves don't like to be bothered with farming on their mountain sides.

So are the Dwarves Catholic? that would have a fun impact on Medieval theology as would the appearance of clearly superior elves.
 

Thomas Bowman

First Post
Nice effort!

But I have to admit, I'd never consider playing anything but Ars Magica in a 'mythic' Europe setting. It's simply the best fit. You get a ton of well-researched background material and the fantastic elements are so well integrated with the historical facts that everything makes sense.
Well, Ars Magica isn't Dungeons & Dragons, and I wanted to use Dungeons & Dragons rather than break into a new system that I don't have. Basically what I want is a D&D World constructed around a historic medieval setting. The history gives me the names of the kingdoms, and cities, and also the rulers or each kingdom, I just have to look them up, but adding the rules changes some things to the setting as well, the races other than human come from off the edge of the map, I am not worried about anything off the edge of this map being historic, with the exceptions of the Dwarves, there are a lot of minor races and monsters who's kingdoms are small, nonexistent or underground, thus don't appear on the map. Creatures such as dragons are left alone, so long as they don't stir up too much trouble for the kingdoms they live in.

As for the existence of magic. Clerics cast spells, but they are part of the Church hierarchy, this is before the Reformation, so their are Catholics, and Orthodox Churches, a small percentage of Jews, and of course Muslims, but technically they all worship the same God, and the same God grants them their spells. God also grants Druids their spells, since this God is a God of Everything. There are pagan deities as well that grant spells to their followers, but their numbers are dwindling. Satan has a number of followers as well, he grants spells to his worshippers, a lot of people are accused of being Satan worshippers who actually aren't, so their number is actually magnified above that which actually exists. People fight wars over how they believe God wants to be worshipped, but God doesn't take sides in these disputes. Usually divine intervention involves sending an angel rather than God making a direct appearance himself. Sometimes the Devil has minions that pose as angels as well, and Satan makes more direct appearances himself, but mostly it is a demon or a lesser devil that makes the intervention.
 

Thomas Bowman

First Post
So are the Dwarves Catholic? that would have a fun impact on Medieval theology as would the appearance of clearly superior elves.
The Dwarves worship God in their own way, most aren't Catholic, but the Emperor tolerates this. The Empire is very loosely organized, it is more of an alliance of mutual protection.

This is the coat of Arms for the Empire and the Emperor

The Biblical God is the most powerful being that is worshipped. The Dwarves that do not Worship God worship the Norse deities that are left over from the Dark Ages. The Holy Roman Emperor at this Time is Henry IV, he is also the King of Burgundy, King of Italy, and King of Germany. Most of the dwarves speak German in addition to dwarvish, the nobles also speak Latin, as Latin is the "official language" of the Holy Roman Empire. Most of the inhabitants don't speak it or understand it, those with a formal education also know Latin, but most inhabitants conduct their local business in German, or Italian.

There is no reason why elves couldn't worship God in their own way, they tend to worship the same God in the same fashion that human druids do, it is more of a nature deity, as elves are close to nature. Elves do have cities in North America, I haven't mapped them yet, as I'm just getting started, one of those cities is located on Manhattan Island, it is a sea port where elvish ships are built, there is also an elf city on the site of Boston, there is another one at the mouth of the Mississippi river, and their are elvish ports on the west coast as well, the elves like the northwest better than the Southwest desert. One thing the elves don't have is horses, until they encounter Europeans riding them. the elves did very little animal husbandry, mostly they grow crops and supplement their diet with wild animals they catch in the forest, and they are very keen on forest management, so their numbers are few compared to what the land could support, they are also very long lived, so elf children are rarely ever seen.
 
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Thomas Bowman

First Post
Another thought the Greenland colony's first contact on the American mainland would be with elves with clearly superior tech and might overawe the Vikings enough to make the contact peaceful and so the Greenland settlement would have someone to trade with and might survive.
Yeah, your right, the first contact was probably with the Vikings at around the year 1000 AD. So the elves have been a part of this setting for around 100 years, and most of the elves whom the Vikings had contact with are still alive in the present. 100 years is not a long time for an elf.
 

Thomas Bowman

First Post
Since I am naming rulers here are some rulers for the various kingdoms.
In England we have William Rufus also known as William II of England.


followed by Henry Beauclerc on August 2, 1100, also known as Henry II.

King Philip I the Amorous is king of France


Poland is ruled by three dukes at this time
Władysław I Herman


Zbigniew


and Bolesław III Wrymouth


Magnus III Olafsson is the king of Norway


Eric I Evergood is the ruler of Denmark


Inge the Elder rules Sweden

Muirchertach Ua Briain, is the high king of Ireland

That will get us started for now.
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
mh, you may want to reconsider your "pantheon" or you might run into heated debates with people of various faiths ;)

Why not use the following: All divine spellcasters get their powers from a "divine source" they cannot grasp. Some think it is one deity (like your abrahamic faiths), some think it is mother nature, some think the source are multiple gods and some others think it might be the anima in all living things.

And depending on how much you'd like to use real-world history events, you'd have to retcon some of them. Plagues etc. are far less common if you have clerics who can perform actual miracles. The pope or patriarch might have far more influence on the various nobles, including emperors, if he possesses the power to destroy you on spot, sanctified (presumably) by the deity you, too, worship.

And magic of any kind can be a real game-changer, depending on how you'd like to implement it into society. It could be a strong equalizer (anybody can have a magic talent that makes him/her potentially dangerous), but also a gatekeeper (if only certain parts of the population are allowed to practise magic or if some schools or traditions are considered heresy).

Oh, and I really dig your idea for elves in America.
 

Hussar

Legend
There is another option for clerics. Primeval Thule goes the "divine source" direction. Basically, clerics are effectively wizards that draw on a different source. Meaning that there is no direct connection between clerics and whatever diety (or, in the case of your setting, single diety) they happen to worship.

Which makes it very, very easy to have factions and conflict within religions. Clerics are more akin to cults in Thule - secretive organizations that jealously guard their secrets and use the power that they have to spread their influence. On an individual level though, a given cleric can pretty much do whatever he or she wants, without having the fear of the flaming booger of the gawds keeping him or her in line.
 

Celebrim

Legend
mh, you may want to reconsider your "pantheon" or you might run into heated debates with people of various faiths ;)

I suppose. If you aren't a member of those "various faiths" I'm not sure your opinion as to what is offensive really counts.

Personally, as a member of those "various faiths", the big problem with God in an RPG setting is that it puts the GM in the position of having to speak for God. So long as you avoid having to be the definitive "Word of God" within your setting and are otherwise respectful to the concept of God, you probably won't offend people of "various faiths".

Tolkien managed to dance around this problem by having an analogous figure to God in his setting, but which operated under no traditional names for God. That gives his setting some distance from the real world even if it is at some level ostensibly set in the real world.
 

Thomas Bowman

First Post
I suppose. If you aren't a member of those "various faiths" I'm not sure your opinion as to what is offensive really counts.

Personally, as a member of those "various faiths", the big problem with God in an RPG setting is that it puts the GM in the position of having to speak for God. So long as you avoid having to be the definitive "Word of God" within your setting and are otherwise respectful to the concept of God, you probably won't offend people of "various faiths".

Tolkien managed to dance around this problem by having an analogous figure to God in his setting, but which operated under no traditional names for God. That gives his setting some distance from the real world even if it is at some level ostensibly set in the real world.
This setting is not a Biblical setting, God does not appear as a burning bush or a pillar of flames. God is very "hands off" in this setting. Clerics that pray to Him can receive spells, but Satan is also there granting spells to his followers and often times to clerics who think they are praying to God. The Devil will grant spells to anybody, not just clerics! Usually Satanic rituals are required to get his attention, and the Devil usually demands that a price be paid for the spells that he gives, he's very flexible in these arrangements, as he often gives the spell first and collects his "price" later! God acts through his angels in this setting, though such divine intervention is rather infrequent.
 

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