Worldbuilding: Finding More Pivot Points

As far as the isekai goes, I think I’ve nailed down most of the tweaks I’ve made to the history of Northeast Asia. I know Russian history has to have changed, due to a magic-carrying comet going smack into part of Siberia. Possibly near Lake Baikal, that spot’s already got plenty of weird….

Now I need to figure out how the rest of world history has changed. At least the broad strokes.

Part of which will require looking at wind and current patterns, because while magic in this AU may be accessible anywhere, the capability to use it is carried between people, animals, plants, and other creatures in an infectious manner, by the space microbes involved. Meaning it has to physically get across oceans and continents.

(No, they’re not midi-chlorians. Don’t think I don’t see you back there waving lightsabers….)

I do know that the wave got to Eastern Europe at some point and created actual vampires, sometime before the 1380s. Likely at least a few decades before, so a pale traveler could get back the other way through the Yuan Dynasty’s territory and infect one hapless Choe Ryu-Cha. (I suspect that was very, very messy, yes. Even before he decided to help his brother the general survive an attempted assassination and rock the whole monarchy.)

So in this ‘verse Dracula as Vampire likely is a Thing, yes. But what else?

I know William Adams still made it to Japan in or around 1600, because the subject of Miura Anjin comes up at one point in the story. And the Jesuits are definitely trying to win converts in China, as per regular history. (They may have vampire hunters in their ranks, this time around.) But what else has happened? What’s changed, or not, in Europe and the New World? I need to dig around and find out.

If anyone has any pet peeves or neat bits of history between about 1266 and 1618, feel free to drop me a line!


65 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: Finding More Pivot Points

  1. Ah, changes. One waxes philosophical about how most alternate histories are implausible because the change are not random enough.

    Meanwhile, that’s prime witch hunt era.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. One notes that what killed the witch trials was not disbelief in witchcraft but in the evidence offered. England, Spain, and Italy had a lot less because they insisted that ordinary standards of evidence applied, and other countries stopped when they insisted on the same.

      When magic is a real thing with demonstrable effects, this would mean that fear of magic would concentrate on something that COULD offer ordinary evidence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The thing was that the improved legal standards for being tried for witchcraft made it easier and safer to sue for slander, which cut down on the rumors of witchcraft, which were a major source of the trials.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I mean … That’s the same time period as the Black Death (1340s) and the Inquisition (1100s thru 1400s). If the Black Death was a carrier for the “you have magic now” gene mutagen….

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It wouldn’t even have to be that direct.
      If the magic mutagen makes people more likely to survive the Black Death it would shift the demographics a lot.

      Of course that would also make people think “the magic monsters are spreading the Black Death” because people.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. It’s not a mutagen. It’s a more-or-less symbiotic organism that has to be managed with careful use of adaptogens if you want to pull off a mostly-human life.

      Which is one reason China-Korean relations are a bit more tense than they were in real life. And also more complicated, because China had much more of a drive to cultivate ginseng than just pull out wild-gathered roots.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hmm… What would a bad reaction to this symbiote look like? There are enough genetic differences between Asiatic peoples and European people that there could be significantly different reactions to the introduction of this symbiote.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Can only wonder what ginseng cultivars might result. That’s going to be a very messy arms race, with malice afore and afterthought. There will be blood- some enterprising soul might just try watering a patch with blood just to see what happens.

        This cultivar manages these side effects better than normal! Shame about the claws, though…

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Due to the Silk Road, the “wave” would likely reach Arabia/Persia before it reached Europe. If the Last (King Edward of England) Crusaders picked it up and then brought it back with them…

      I guess it would depend of how fast the symbiote could propagate itself.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. How does magic effect the spice trade? Would it change Columbus’s search for a way around the world and Spain’s need for non portuguese trade routes? How does it effect the crusades and the middle east? I was watching a clip about how the geography of Africa’s rivers meant there were limited ways that water travel could happen, and that limited the size of empires, trade and wealth. Would magic change that?
    Same for the americas. Could magic be a more deciding factor then guns?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I was thinking about the Americas, too. We have the Bering Strait, so is there a current that would bring the mutagen to America that way? Would America be discovered sooner? The possibilities for the War for Independence are plentiful too, now that I think about it. If tea is one way to control magic and the taxes get too high, the colonists would not only need to find an alternative fast, they would have even more reason not to like the Stamp Act. Hmm. In that case, what if coffee was another way to control magic? Ginseng works for China and Korea, but for ’round the world effects, tea might be another option – one preferred by Westerners, perhaps?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. We do have ginseng here in America, though it doesn’t seem to be as potent as say Korean Ginseng; it would likely work for magic users who couldn’t pay for any other ginseng. Imagine if the colonists had to pay a tax to get access to the ginseng (because Great Britain monopolized it following the French-Indian War) along with the Stamp Act; double reason for declaring Independence from Great Britain (though the time frame given is one-hundred-and-fifty-eight years in the past).

        It is interesting concept all the same.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I wasn’t sure how much more or less potent American ginseng was compared to the Korean variant. And it would make for some interesting side-thoughts, for sure; Jason might have fun considering the future implications….

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Of course, if it doesn’t make it, you have a way to keep part of history on track, if you like. Magic and tech and disease would have the same effect as tech and disease.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Watched another Lost Cities episode on Disney+.

    Nan Madol is about 800 years ago. A ruling capital built on a coral reef with basalt and no mortar in Micronesia. Rock art suggests huge range of travel/trade because some of the rock art is nearly identical what has been found in New Caledonia. Not much is known because it was all oral history and no one will ever tell you all that they know because they believe that if you tell the full story that they’ll disappear.

    Probably not going to have anything to do with your story, but it was very neat.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Nan Madol was the site of A. Merritt’s famous and ridiculously influential novel The Moon Pool. And yes, it was a huge bestseller in its day, as well as inspiring pretty much everything, including huge chunks of D&D.

      It is really good. And every part of the novel is a different subgenre. If you have never read it, read it or listen to an audiobook. Seriously, you will love it.

      And of course, H.P. Lovecraft was such a fanboy that he also set “The Call of Cthulhu” in a Nan Madol type of setting, IIRC.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Adaptogens… if ginseng is the only viable adaptogen, then regions that don’t have ginseng natively, or can’t cultivate it for climate reasons, are going to be rather desperate for the stuff. Which will change the geography of the spice trade. I’m reminded of the story of how rubber trees were transplanted from South America to SE Asia.

    And there’ll be lots of motivation to find working substitutes. Although doing pharmaceutical R&D on the required scale with 1600s communication and data tracking technology presents issues.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s one reason I suggested tea – it might not be *great*, but if it *works* to a degree and the Chinese and Koreans want to keep their ginseng market to themselves because it’s more potent and gives them greater control… Why, the tea market could truly explode, and no one would be the wiser…

      Then they find ginseng in the Americas, everyone panics, finds out it isn’t *as potent* as the Chinese and Korean ginseng, so the panic dies down. The tea market still thrives, too, despite the War for Independence, as American ginseng doesn’t have enough viability in markets in the Orient and there’s not enough for the West? Though now that I think about it, developing a ginseng market in the U.S. centuries later would probably have Jason in stitches…

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Given the time frame… What about the Native Americans? To the best our current knowledge, Columbus was the first encounter with people from another continent in centuries. Bets they found alternatives to ginseng?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Columbus never made it to the American Mainland. His trips were only to the Caribbean, but it would be interesting what alternatives the locals on those islands had. I don’t want to think about what the cannibalistic tribes on those islands thought was a good idea.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. There’s something in vampire mythology that has been bugging me for the last week since I thought about it. In worlds in which vampirism isn’t explicitly a religious curse why can’t vampires cover their skin with thick clothing, or maybe leather if they need something more mystically significant. The fact that they burn through clothing just doesn’t make a lot of sense, even thinner stuff should be more effective than bare skin. Idk my brain has been chewing on this for a couple of days.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, it varies wildly. Stoker’s original Dracula didn’t burn at all, he was merely weakened by sunlight. Vamps in the “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” series could survive *indirect* sunlight just fine, but overcast days weren’t enough protection. And then there’s the *Twilight* vamps, about which the less said, the better….

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Also, a query since you mentioned general (existing!) weirdness near Lake Baikal and other places. Can the symbiote be carried by animals? Birds would be one of the best ways to carry the symbiote to other continents due to migratory habits. And if birds could carry it without being affected by it……

    ….(Mouse really wants there to be a real Glowing White Stag/Master of the Forest)

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Hmm. Is it just animals or can plants carry it too? Just think, a legitimate reason to have your own variation of a Whomping Willow. Just certain classes of animals or all? Because swarms of monster locusts would be Nightmare Fuel. Flying Fish that ACTUALLY fly.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Ahh. The semi-sentient beforest watered by blood. Yup, that’s next level creepy. I’ve always wondered if SDK’s Aokigahara qualified as a Genius Loci.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. If I recall correctly back in the late 90’s early 2000 there were a lot of Chinese fishing glass being discovered in west coast tribal sites. And with how close Russia is to Alaska I would not be surprised at all to find out Russian ships were washing ashore up there.

    So having ships from Asia and Russia hitting the Pacific Northwest and upwards I think would be realistic.

    Especially if you had someone summoning a storm to send a rival out to sea to die.

    And then there is the salmon. Using that to get your microbe over to the americas I think would be easiest, just get the stuff into the ocean food chain and it’ll go west easy.

    And once it’s in the local food chain it’s only a matter of time until it gets to the buffalo and caribou herds and from there into the rest of the continent.

    As for the tribes at the time, well, they were not only more numerous, but larger, and a lot more complex culturally than is often depicted. With huge trade systems all over the continent.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Another idea, you’ve said the American adaptogens are weaker in the americas right?

        Well if plant magic is a thing, wouldn’t you have plant mages trying to make the local adaptogen more potent?

        Especially if they are a healer and know why this is needed for people to stay healthy?

        I mean, bare minimum if you can figure out how much of what you need to stay healthy is in each plant, then it’s dead easy to only harvest the weakest and breed the strongest to get a better medicine.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Whales would be a great way to get the whole Artic Circle, actually. On the other hand, once corpses and symbiote infected bodies start sinking you might start getting kraken and Cthulh Lite.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. There’s also seals and walrus. And sharks too can travel great distances … Which, along with KohakuRyu’s Kraken and Cthulhu-lite, could lead to a new, magical version of Megalodon.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes. Also bears: forget demon tiger, think demon Kodiak bear.
      The seasonal salmon runs would have taken it pretty far inland in some places — I’m not sure about Alaska or Canada, but in the Pacific Northwest (Washington/Oregon) in the days before dams, returning salmon could get as far inland as Idaho via the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Dried salmon from the massive runs in the Columbia was a staple food and trade commodity on both sides of the Cascade Mountains in both Washington and Oregon for literally millenia.
      Lots of active geology in that area, too. Both volcanoes and earthquakes that might have the potential to affect events very far away. For example, the 1700 Cascadia earthquake caused a tsunami that hit Japan (too late for your period, unless someone got creative and kicked it off a century or two early…)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not just Kodiak demon bear, but grizzly and polar bear too. Demon cougar, coyote, fox, mink, and I know we have other smaller predators that I just can’t remember the name of right now.

        And while the big ones might be scary, well they tend to be spread thin. The smaller ones? Those tend to be a lot more numerous.

        Which is why my brain is now coming up with swarming, cooperative, demon mink hordes.

        In a word? Ack!

        And that’s the predators, don’t forget the herbivores! Moose, bison, caribou, elk, deer, rabbits, turkeys, beavers.

        Horses weren’t a thing until the 1400’s I think?

        And that’s just the stuff in the Pacific Northwest, don’t forget the rest of the continent!

        Honestly? I think the locals here would prefer the demonic predators. Yeah, they’ll hunt and eat you, but you’ll get one or two a year. Demonic herbivores or avians or bats? You’re getting a lot of those.

        Enough that I’d bet the locals start figuring out defenses and tactics real fast.

        But now my brain is kicking up the idea of a flaming demonic moose, or worse, a plant themed one. And out on the plains an entire herd of earth themed demonic bison.

        And it just kicked up something worse, how does this microorganism react to the rabies virus? Because my brain just imagined a rabid demon moose.

        It you’ll all excuse me I need to get some chocolate and try not to have nightmares.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. adaptogens

        And remember these are dumb beasts. They will not be able to figure out which plants are the help. Even those who happen on them, and happen to like them, will not realize that they have to keep on using them.

        This is a limiter. Otherwise we would be in an apocalypse that would have prudent souls checking Revelation.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. “in the Pacific Northwest (Washington/Oregon) in the days before dams, returning salmon could get as far inland as Idaho via the Columbia and Snake Rivers.”

        *grumbles* They still can. Fish ladders are A Thing.

        … and if the anti-dam activists has taken all the money they’ve spent on dam lawsuits over the last 60 years, they could have dug a new river to get those fish to their “ancestral spawning grounds.”

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve not found the opportunity to look into the timelines, but one of the obvious things that overlaps was the Christian fight to throw back the Islamic imperialism.

    IE, a chunk of the crusades.

    Our timeline, situations did not make it really possible to continue on from Spain to North Africa.

    Teutonic Order also comes to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

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