Pacific Rim 16th Century

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    Hans Hellinger

    Toying with this idea as a place to focus after Vol II of Codex Baltic is done.

    Well there is a lot to get into in more detail to really sell it, but the gist of it is this – Pacific Rim, 16th Century. Her are some of the players.

    The Portuguese are the first Latinized people to make it into the Pacific Rim area. They capture Goa by 1505 and make it into a permanent base, which is incredible, they had Macau by around 1555, and are in Japan by 1544, and by 1580 they had been given control of Nagasaki and a major portion of Japans international trade.

    The Spanish arrived in the Philippines in 1521, with Ferdinand Magellan killed by the Moro chieftain Lapu Lapu that same year, setting off what would become centuries of conflict. The Spanish establish their permanent Pacific HQ in Manila by 1570.

    The Japanese are in a brutal civil war in this period and are eager to buy guns, armor and other military kit from the Portuguese. They are also beginning to focus aggression toward China and Japan by the mid 16th Century. The Portuguese are also their main supplier of silk because they are banned from most of the Chinese ports.

    The Ottomans are reaching into the Indian Ocean with substantial military assets and clashing with the Latin Europeans.

    The Mamluks (who were being helped by the Venetians) are also extending their power into the region.

    The Chinese
    are in the middle of a Golden Age of the Ming Dynasty. They are trying to avoid conflict with an increasingly aggressive Japan but eventually this would break out into war focused on Korea, which the Chinese would ultimately win. With rockets and giant repeating crossbows and stuff.

    The Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand (with multiple fascinating, sophisticated city-states at war with each other and everywhere else), Indonesia and Malaysia

    And then the Dutch, the French and the English are not far behind, arriving around the end of the 16th Century or early 17th, to rob, plunder, and plague one another and everyone else!

    In addition, the Dutch used large numbers of Japanese Ronin (as in tens of thousands) for muscle in Indonesia and elsewhere. The Spanish used Irish Gallowglass, German Landsknechts and Native Americans as muscle in the Philippines and elsewhere. I recently learned they operated a major fencing school in Mexico city where they trained tough guys from all over their vast far flung empire. The Chinese Waco or Wagu pirates also had large numbers of Japanese Ronin on their pirate ships, and were repeatedly clashing with the Spanish in the Philippines among others. Several mercenaries and privateers from just about anywhere you can think of in the world went on their own wacky expeditions and private wars. Some of them wrote books which have been translated into English, including at least two Spanish rogue conquistadors. The Ottomans and Portuguese have African soldiers, including Tuareg, Malinese, and Sudanese.

    Basically it’s the most incredible historical kaleidoscope / tesseract you can imagine. You take what is essentially still medieval Europe, and then go plunk those people down somewhere along the coast of India or China, or in Japan, or on some island in the Philippines or Indonesia. You get in a boat or just stay where you are, and you are liable to run into dangerous folks from almost anywhere you can imagine, with fabulous wealth in silk, spices, art, precious metals, and (for the Europeans) all kinds of exotic artifacts and treasures. Weapons systems and martial arts you have never encountered. Potential alliances and intrigue beyond your wildest dreams.

    Just as one example, one of the rogue conquistadors I mentioned was captured by Thai pirates, who then decided to bring him back to their city-state to fight as a mercenary for them, but he then managed to foment a mutiny among the Chinese crew, went to the city-state anyway, joined them in a war against another rival city-state in Cambodia, defected to that place, and then after 2 or 3 years somehow managed to get back to Manilla where he tried in vain to interest the Spanish into invading Thailand. They did however eventually invade Cambodia in 1593. And the guy wrote a book about all this.

    Of course a lot of it is incredibly evil. Some of it is politically sensitive. You would have to tread carefully. But I think it could be made into a very very interesting historical campaign supplement, or more likely a long series of them.

    To me it’s one of the most unbelievably dynamic zones of adventure you could possibly imagine, with so many fascinating cultures, and types of characters, and adventure scenarios as to literally boggle my mind. Imagine being in the middle of dangerous drama in Lisbon, Nuremberg, Venice, Alexandria, Aden, Goa, Bangkok, Manilla, and Nagasaki all in one lifetime. It’s way more interesting and complex than any fantasy genre world I ever heard of.

    To set the mood, a few images:

    Here is an (apparently real) giant repeating crossbow as used by the Chinese or Koreans against the Japanese in the late 16th Century

    Here is a map of Goa in the 16th Century

    One of the battles between Chinese Wagu pirates and their Ronin muscle vs. Spanish conquistadors

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