Worldbuilding: A Problem Like Nurhaci

In retrospect I should have known the guy renowned as the founding ancestor of the Qing/Manchu Dynasty wouldn’t be put off by a few measly demon tigers. Further research (A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail, by Kenneth M. Swope) dug up the fact that Nurhaci started raiding into Korea as early as 1609, which would have made him a preexisting problem for our heroes. Urgh. Gah. Snarl.

So how do you solve a problem like Nurhaci?

Well, it always helps to know your opponent. So I went poking the internet on him at the library the next day I had off. Two things of note here. First, I couldn’t really find better or more comprehensive info on him than that on his Wikipedia page. Which is frustrating, given I tend to take Wikipedia with a grain of salt. I’ll have to look at JSTOR the next chance I get. In the meantime, at least I have Alternate History to cover me if it turns out that page is Horribly Wrong.

Second, that Wikipedia page notes, if you read it carefully, that Nurhaci really got his grudge on for Ming (and Korea) about 1582-1583, when his grandfather and father got crosswise of a clan rival Nikan Wailan, got killed, and the Ming guy whose territory the rival was in wouldn’t hand said rival over.

Intrigued Plotbunnies: “Okay, we’re saying that the vampire who sired Lee Cheong is an honorable guy. Not nice, but honorable. And history says Nurhaci’s grandpa went into the fray at Gure to rescue his daughter. This is a Noble Cause. If the Sire was in the area he would help.”

Cue Nurhaci actually owing the sire one, and having friendly relations with Korea instead of raiding them. Possibly still raiding Ming, but that’s a problem I think the story could handle.

So that’s one major timeline tweak right there. The second turning point is farther back – 1388, in fact.

This is the general who was invading parts of Manchuria (owned by Mongols at the time) to get them back for the kingdom of Goryeo.

Note this bit: “General Choe was betrayed and executed by his former subordinate Yi Seong-gye.”

That Yi guy? Became the first king of Joseon.

Very intrigued plotbunnies: Okay, we’ve been trying to figure out how the vampire sire – for whom we’ve been using the placeholder clan name Hak – is related to the current royal line.
But this general? His daughter was Royal Consort Choe Yeong-bi. King U of Goryeo’s second highest ranking consort.

Plotbunnies: History doesn’t record a brother for Choe Yeong. What if he had one?

What if that’s the vampire sire’s background? Became a vampire, stayed away from his family Because – and then his brother was at risk of death and execution because of a general who wanted to turn traitor?

Plotbunnies: Make him a Choe instead, and the vampire line is still related to the royal one – but as loyal generals. The Yi line of kings never gets started, Goryeo becomes Daehan by taking back the Liaodong Peninsula and parts of Manchuria, and overall they’re striking a balance between the Jurchens, Mongol heritage from the overthrown Yuan Dynasty, and the Ming.

This gives me backstory on the Sire, and a very good reason he’s backing the demon hunters – “loyal defense of the nation” is one of his defining character traits.

A related side note? A bit in A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail says the Imjin War kicked Joseon’s creaky administration in the butt enough they had to do certain reforms, making it ultimately strong enough to last as long as it did. So… plotbunnies are thinking that happened in this timeline as well, with Choe Ryu-Cha getting a bit of a reality slap of, international politics are going to bite his homeland if he doesn’t Do Things to prepare them. Hence siring Lee Cheong later, among other things.

Meaning if nasty magic happens (and some will), anything spell-wise will latch onto “this is a bloodline of loyal military” instead of “this is royalty”. And given tensions between military and court bureaucrat types in Confucian courts, that’s plenty of reason Lee Cheong has enemies!


9 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: A Problem Like Nurhaci

    1. Oh, and you might find this bit interesting?

      The general, before he was executed by Yi, swore that he was innocent, the charges were false, and because he was wrongfully accused grass would never grow on his grave.

      …Historically, no grass grew there until the 1970s.

      So there’s already a spooky aspect involved in the story!

      Liked by 5 people

  1. Sounds really well thought out to me! And I’m with Foxfier – Noble Monster is good. Don’t know if I have a weakness for such, but I think it is a character type we need more of, as we don’t have enough of them in fiction these days.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very interesting. 🥰 I love how you think this stuff out. I tend to avoid writing in our worlds history, changed or otherwise, to avoid having to worry about this part of the world building. 😅 granted, making up your own history for a fictional/fantasy world can be difficult, but I feel like this is much harder. I probably should try it at least once, just to work writer muscles… 😓

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is harder – much harder than I thought it would be when I started. But my plotbunnies really wanted to do something not standard urban fantasy, so.

      Crossing fingers, doing research, trying to get ahead enough of bills so my brain will write….

      Liked by 1 person

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