Worldbuilding: The Trouble with Quiet Spots

The trouble with trying to find a quiet spot in history is, if you look closely, there are no really quiet spots in history.

Let me elucidate. I’m doing research to dump one hapless modern character in a fantasy AU of 1600s, specifically near Korea in 1618, beginning of the Little Ice Age. (Poor guy.) Two main reasons. First, because that’s early enough in Everything Going Horribly Wrong that he has an idea of what’s coming down the pike, and that he might be able to do something about it to help the people around him not die horrible deaths from famine, plague, war, and monsters. (What, he’s not sure yet. But something.) Second, while things (read: whole Manchu armies) were literally going south for the Ming Dynasty in 1619, surely that was far enough away to give our main characters some breathing room to not get directly involved in the whole mess. Yep, looks good, but let’s do a little research on this guy Nurhaci who got cranky at Ming, find out exactly how far away he was….

Check under Organization. Specifically, Right Wing East Route Force. “Joseon Expeditionary Force Commander Gang Hong-rip”. Commanding about 13,000 of the 100,000-odd estimated troops on the Ming-Joseon side. (Which lost to the Jurchens. Rather badly.)

Aaaand it gets better. So to speak. This particular guy survived the battle, was taken hostage, and unlike most of the other Korean hostages was kept ‘cause he spoke good Manchu. Then someone else threw a military coup in Joseon, lost, and as a parting shot sent a vassal to convince Gang that his family had all been killed by Joseon’s government. Which drove Gang to lead a Manchu army into Joseon in 1627, and things got nastier from there….

I swear I was just looking for a quiet spot.

Ahem. The way I’ve redrawn the map of Northeast Asia, added magic and monsters, and various other shifts in the timeline events will change some of this. For one thing, many events may get shoved a bit west since what would be the unified Jurchens of our history will be split in this world. But I’m going to need to do research (and get maps, so many different maps) to figure out at least the broad strokes of what’s going to happen in the “background”.

And also figure out which of the characters speaks Manchu, besides the head vampire. Writing it is going to be a near-new thing, the script only got invented in 1599.

It can be done. And I think I’ve got an Idea for how people who use magic stay stable, too – adaptogens are involved. Which explains why there are some really good mages in ginseng areas, but that’s not the only herb to handle it, either.

Still. Let this be a warning. When you think something’s simple, especially history, check again. It’s quiet. Too quiet….

18 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: The Trouble with Quiet Spots

  1. I recall one book series where the Incarnation of War would only die when nobody on Earth was fighting, then a new person would take the office when fighting resumed.

    The position had only been transferred a few times in history, and often required deliberate supernatural effort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality I think that is called.

      Each book focuses on a different Major aspect… Death. Nature. War.


      Been quite a while since I read them though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Death, Time, Fate (as in the three aspects Clothos, Lachesis and Atropos), War, Nature, Evil, Good and Night. Good books. Time especially was…interesting, but I think my favorites are Fate and Night.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I remember exactly one scene from those books: when the new Fates, having received little to no instruction on how to do their jobs, cut off the wrong ends of a bunch of threads of fate and only stop when Death bursts in and informs them that he’s just had to collect 23 infants who died of being poisoned by contaminated formula.


  2. This is one of the reasons I like working in the Star Wars universe, TBH. Admittedly the reason so much of the history exists is because there’s been Lord only knows how many writers slapping their stuff into the timeline and then inventing wars, organizations, Sith Lords, Force powers, etc. to justify what they came up with, but messy as it is it does make it feel a lot like real history. Especially how there’s always someone fighting somewhere, even during times of supposed peace.

    OTOH trying to make a realistic historical setup for an original story can be… tricksy.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Isn’t Commissar Ciaphas Cain from WH40K’s schick that he keeps trying to find ‘a quiet place’ to hide away from combat only for trouble and/or great danger to find him there? He resolves the issue to protect his own skin, only to be publicly hailed for being a great hero?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It seems that the trouble with “quiet places” especially in human society is they seemed to be enforced by having alot of violence on the edges or buried underneath. All the tropes about suburbia etc. With magical systems this seem also true. Can’t build a church where you wanna? Bury your buddy under the foundation.

    I imagine Scaling it up just makes that more complicated.


  5. Monsters can help distract people from other problems. But it can be tricky.

    Even fairy tales, as long as you don’t stick to the Pop Top 20, can have a lot of wars.

    Liked by 1 person

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