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Thread: Crossroads II: I'm on a Mammoth.

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    Default Crossroads II: I'm on a Mammoth.

    Crossroads: The New World

    I had gained the summit of a commanding ridge, and, looking round with astonishing delight, beheld the ample plains, the beauteous tracts below.

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    Crossroads: The New World is a Pathfinder campaign setting, depicting a world very much like our own, where history has taken a turn from what we know and continued down a very different course. We pick up the thread of history in 1750 A.D. Ask yourself...
    • What would history have looked like if magic had existed, where spellcasters were as common as doctors?
    • What would have happened if China had already been colonizing the west coast when Columbus first made landfall on the east?
    • What would it be like if the Tuniit giants of Inuit myth had been real, and had absorbed the newly arrived Inuit, rather than being chased off? What if they did the same with the Vinland colonies?
    • How would the balance of power in the New World been different if the Mississippi merchant-city of Cahokia had thrived all the way 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? What if the Aztec empire had never fallen to invasion, and instead grown larger and more powerful with the aid of newly-acquired firearm technology?

    Imagine a world where European wizards pit their magic against Aztec bloodcasters, where Chinese martial artists square off against Vinlandr berserkers, where native musketeers stand against rampaging monsters. 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.


    The year is 1750, and the continent we know as North America is roughly divided into five major empires, each trying to lay claim to the entire continent and all its bounty.
    On the eastern coast, Europeans are steadily expanding their colonies in the continent they call Columbia, each major power trying to edge the others out of what they see as their new land to conquer. European cultures and Native ones collide, creating unique and novel philosophies, technologies, and mystical techniques.
    In the center, between the Green Mountains and the Heaven-Touching Mountains, lies the great plains and the mighty Mississippi. On the river one can find Cahokia, the jewel of the continent, a thriving metropolis of trade and travel, where goods can be found from all five empires and even the lands beyond. The city commands the loyalty of dozens of tribes and groups through the middle of the continent, and subtly controls them to keep the borders strong against foreign expansion; collectively, Cahokia and its client-tribes are known as the Cahokian League.
    In the south, Aztatlan, the Aztec Empire, has expanded greatly over the past few hundred years, now controlling the vast majority of the sweltering jungles south of the Rio Grande. Despite intense internal strife in the wake of the European invasion attempt, the triple alliance has emerged stronger than ever, with the help of firearms and cannons, crafted with techniques extracted from the defeated Spaniards.
    In the north, the frozen lands are ruled by a confederacy of many cultures, united by intermarriage and treaties around the Tuniit, men with the blood of giants in their veins, a confederacy known as Tuniitaq. The arctic peoples dwell in a harsh, unforgiving land, one of extreme weather and stunning natural beauty. But as the populations grow, they begin to require more and more land to support their burgeoning population, and so they slowly expand southward, to warmer and more productive climes.
    On the west coast, from the great rainforests of the north and all the way south to the fringes of Aztatlan, the coastline is occupied by the nation of Fúsāng, the new realm of Ming dynasty, who fled their homeland as the Qing took over and slew their opposition. Jade Harbor is the seat of Fúsāng's power, situated in the welcoming embrace of what would be know and Vancouver Bay in our world.


    There a few specific points of divergence that make this setting what it is, and all of these differences can be traced back to one or more of these points.

    The first and most deeply-ingrained point of separation is the existence of magic in this world. Magic has always been present, and has been used by humans since prehistory. It is as much a part of the world as gravity or salt. Magic is found everywhere, though it’s stronger in some places and weaker in others. Spellcasters are relatively commonplace in the world, appearing about as frequently as doctors or priests. Chances are good that an average commoner would see one or two every few years, and many larger communities would have regular access to one or two.

    Chronologically, the first change regards Cahokia. In our timeline, the city was the largest population center on the continent until 1800, and boasted trade routes which connected it to much of the continent, even before the introduction of the horse. The city fell apart in the 1200s thanks to drought and deforestation, which eventually led to catastrophic floods and famine. In this timeline, however, druidic magic and spiritual intervention led to a continued rise in power, a rapid regrowth of the forests, and ever-increasing crop yields, allowing the city to thrive, even to the modern day. Over time they formed trade agreements with various tribes of the plains and the southeast, giving them a measure of control and access to trade even in distant lands. Now, it’s a multicultural hub, trading horses from Europeans for Chinese jade, and disseminating the secrets of gunpowder and muskets to their client tribes.

    In the north, the Dorset Culture were a group of paleo-Eskimo people who inhabited the shorelines of eastern Canada and Greenland. In our world, they fell into decline around 1000 CE, and were completely gone by 1500 CE, destroyed first by the changing climate of the time, then completely displaced by the Inuit somewhere around 1200-1250 CE. In the end, they were only remembered in Inuit myth as the Tuniit a race of, large, strong-bodied men who were easily scared away. In the crossroads setting, most of the Tuniit truly were giants, and when the Thule first contacted the Tuniit, instead of being chased away or slain, they made peaceful contact. They traded their tools for the Inuit tools, welcomed them into their communities, and many of their number intermarried. Now the resultant Tuniit had the technology to expand their territory inland, to provide food for themselves away from the oceans. Over many hundreds of years, they steadily grew in numbers and began to spread across the land, making new allies and offering trade and marriages to seal their friendships. Now they control almost all of what we know as Canada through a loose, informal confederacy of native groups known as Tuniitaq.

    The Chinese explorer Zheng He was, in our time, a great explorer who traveled widely through the pacific, south pacific, and the Indian Ocean, charting and contacting a great many new civilizations for the Ming emperor. Some believe he may have even landed in North America, though the truth of these statements is questionable. Eventually, the Ming cut off all major seagoing travel, to focus their resources inward. In our world, the explorer does make make landfall on the new world, and he comes back with tales of a land bursting with life, resources, furs, and primitive natives. In the first few years, the new world is a curiosity, a few adventurous travelers and colonists heading over, some logging the massive rainforests, other trapping furs, some setting up farms for Chinese traditional crops and exotic new world foods to ship back. When the Qing takeover the mainland of China, there is but one place left for loyalists to escape the executioner’s axe. Refugees flock to the new world, including the infant daughter of the emperor, the first empress of Fusang, and the last blood relative of the Ming. After a bit of conflict with the local Sasquatch populations, they eventually settled in as rulers of the vast coast.

    The Triple Alliance, or, as they are inaccurately known, the Aztec Empire, was a powerful civilization with great military might at the time of contact with Europeans. Hernán Cortés and a small contingent of Spanish soldiers ignored orders to return to Spain and made a move to conquer the Aztecs for their material wealth, with the help of a enormous force of rebellious groups, dissatisfied with the control of the Triple Alliance. In our world, Cortez and his force attacked Tenochtitlan, killed hundreds, took control of the palace, and puppeteered the king. In our timeline, the initial contact went much the same, until one pivotal point. Fleeing the city as a result of an uprising, Cortez was captured and held captive, waiting to be sacrificed. In our world, one of his lieutenants rescued him, giving his life in the process. In the world of crossroads, the lieutenant died before saving Cortez, and the leaderless force of Spaniards and natives was trapped, slaughtered, and the remainder captured and brought to the city for sacrifice. Some Spaniards were spared (temporarily) in exchange for their knowledge of metalworking, gunpowder, firearms, and cannons. Armed with this new knowledge, the Triple Alliance launched a bloody, expensive war of extermination against the Spaniards who remained on Mexico’s shoreline. There was a brief period of civil war, a great deal of combat, and eventually the Empire of Aztatlan was formed in earnest.
    Last edited by Admiral Squish; 2015-04-22 at 04:58 PM.
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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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