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Old 08-21-2019, 12:56 PM   #1
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Default Adventure seeds - 16th Century

I would like your help and ideas to populating my campaign with adventures and their relevant NPC’s.

Warning: Wall of text ahead.

I am working in a campaign set in an alternate earth, around 1500 A.D. The story revolves around an alliance between Greece, Venice and Turkey (group 1, the alliance); they are set to the “new world”. The alliance is competing for the new world against Spain, Britain, France and Rome (group 2) and also Austria and Persia (group 3). At this point, there is almost no involvement of what I would roughly compare to the nations in Africa, Asia and the Slavs (i.e. Denmark, China, Egypt, Norway, Russia); they are the neutral party (group 4). Finally we have the native people of the “new world”, which have mixed feelings but are mostly neutral (group 5).

Generally speaking, all of the forces sent to the new world include military officers (which hold the commanding positions) and volunteers (acting as the muscle). The main goal is claiming as much land as possible while keeping it orderly. The expeditions are financed by the government itself and the inhabitants of the regions involved. Basically, the government took possession of all the goods and riches of the civilians, promising to keep their way of living untouched as long as they cooperate (think of it as a big bank). Once the expeditions end (nobody knows when), the government shall return all of the property to their respective owners (regarding the alliance, people has been OK for the most part because the government has been efficient and with its policy). Most families are forced to supply the expedition with recruits, unless they really cannot (e.g. a very old couple without children); if they do not comply, they lose the right of recovering what was theirs. The main motivation for taking part in the expedition to the new world, includes the promise of new land, living as a free man (as long as you hold your allegiance to your group) and recovering full control of your property. However, there could be other motivations. Such as fleeing your country, documenting the history of the world, writing a novel, being a spy or a slave looking for freedom, finding someone you lost, etc.

The alliance screens all of the volunteers interested in venturing to the new world; and those who meet the requirements are listed as members of the “flying company”. The examinations involve a medical check and a skill test. Player characters could be of any origin, but they will participate as members of the alliance. The alliance supplies all of their members with the essentials required to live (this does not include weapons or armor, you must bring your own), and provides them a (very) small salary to make for private needs. The other groups may have a similar dynamic, rumor is the alliance offers the most benefits.

Merchants, medics (scientists) and priests travel with the expedition; they require a license to travel and are also subject to examinations. Such licenses are expensive and most of the time these parties have to group in guilds to afford one, unless the interested party is very wealthy (as of GURPS). A license involve a substantial fee per individual sent with the expedition. On the other hand, the license allows hiring people in the new world at no cost. Sometimes, guilds hire soldiers in the new world, to carry out tasks for them. It’s risky, since the soldier’s duty takes precedence, but it also is cheap. Overall it’s a win-win, soldiers can indeed use the extra coin, especially if earned during their free time.

While the alliance is in good terms, the new world is a big chance to consolidate a greater power, so there’s a silent, yet friendly competition. There’s also room for intrigue and betrayal, such as merchants assessing too much riches, officials planning a coup d’état in favor a corrupt Vizier and so on.

Finally, the colonies also have refugees and diplomats (which administer land); a major event which took place in a previous (RPG) campaign forced people from Asia to flee their land. The alliance saw a good chance to benefit from this by bringing cheap labor to the new world, without resorting to slavery. Now this people is thankful and loyal to the alliance. The diplomats are trusted members the respective (mayor) political parties comprised in the alliance. Sometimes, high-ranking military officers take part as diplomats. Diplomats have their own military force, which takes precedence over the flying company soldiers. They are the official (local) law enforcers.

I am not very concerned with being historically precise with our world’s history, but I want some resemblance. This campaign’s timeline develops during the Age of the Sail, featuring Suleiman the Magnificent, Hürrem Sultan, Pargali Ibrahim, Pope Alexander VI, Christian I of Denmark, Martin Luther, Fernando de Aragón, Tahmāsp of Persia, Christopher Columbus, Hernán Cortés, Hızır Reis (Barbarossa), Ivan the Terrible, etc. I think these examples do.

Player characters and NPC’s could be of any origin or gender, subject to more or less tension depending on who they are and where they come from. PC’s start as recruits of the flying company, sent to the eastern coasts from what we modernly call the “Sea of Cortés”. While NPC could have be of any profession, status, etc. The main story begins at the oldest colony, which is about 9 years old and has a population of 10,000 inhabitants.

--------------------------------------

In respect to what I wrote, I am expecting something like this:

It could be a somewhat generic plot/character:

Captain Cevdet

A Turkish man around his mid 30s, from Turkey, with a large scar on his left shoulder. He arrived to the main encampment about 5 years ago, and he’s been there ever since; he’s regarded as the right hand of the Diplomat, or was, until the Diplomat died and was replaced by the General Tevfik about 9 months ago. He suspects the Diplomat was assassinated, for reasons yet unknown, while the official claim is he died from disease. The authorities are not doing anything about it, but he’s secretly investigating about it.

Cevdet features the following disadvantages, which reflect his character in "GURPS terms":

Sense of Duty (Small Group) [-5]
Code of Honor (Soldier’s) [-10]
Common Sense (reliable +3) [12]

Or it could be something akin to history around the 16th century:

Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha

28th Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, 40 years old, Ibrahim is presumably conspiring against the Sultan; rumor is he sees a great chance of increasing his wealth and power by funneling the expedition’s spoils to him. Given his origin and position, He is in very good terms with the venetians and ottoman military forces (including Prince Mustafa); whether these rumors are real or not, it does not come as surprise he was the main promoter of the alliance with Venice and the remains of Greece (merchants of Athens).

Reflecting his character in "GURPS terms":

Ibrahim features megalomania, a [-10] point disadvantage; but also has Charisma 3 [15].

--------------------------------------

Hope I clear your questions:

The argument behind this setting is that other nations decided to focus a bit more on exploring the new world, instead of letting others (e.g. Spain and Britain) seize all/most of the land.

I am not saying that the conflicts/situations of the “old world” are not taking place; but at least the “group 1” decided to explore a new alternative as a “team”.

The groups I mentioned are abstractions from the way “the alliance” perceives the world around them. The purpose of the alliance is seizing new lands instead of fighting over old land (which brings conflict to their territories).

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
It would help us make suggestions if you explained the back-story a bit (...) Before 1453, Greece had been part of the Byzantine Empire, and ruled from Constantinople, rather than being an independent country. (...)
What you mention is completely right, that is the way I picture it for the most part. Regarding your question, in this setting the coasts of Greece stand as a neutral territory administered by a small council seated in Athens, with the main purpose of engaging in friendly commerce and building the ships for the expedition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Leviathan View Post
(...)To that end there will likely be conspirators who insert agents into the flying company to ensure the people they represent look as good as possible once the dust settles. (...)
You got the idea!
--------------------------------------

Thank you!
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Old 08-21-2019, 01:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Adventure seeds - 16th Century

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Originally Posted by Hide View Post
I am working in a campaign set in an alternate earth, around 1500 A.D. The story revolves around an alliance between Greece, Venice and Turkey (group 1, the alliance)
It would help us make suggestions if you explained the back-story a bit.

As of 1500 A.D. in our history, Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire, having been conquered within a few years after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Before 1453, Greece had been part of the Byzantine Empire, and ruled from Constantinople, rather than being an independent country.

Now, clearly things are very different in your history, and knowing how they got that way would make the problem clearer.
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Old 08-21-2019, 01:42 PM   #3
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Default Re: Adventure seeds - 16th Century

Claiming land means access to fantastical power and wealth. Those to stand to gain the most won't be edpeditionary forces but wealthy business owners and lesser gentry back in Venice. Even if an "Alliance" flag flies over the New West Indies chances are Millinery industrialist who helped finance consolidation efforts will be given a Dukedom, especially if he tips the scales in his favor. To that end there will likely be conspirators who insert agents into the flying company to ensure the people they represent look as good as possible once the dust settles. These agents could be in positions of command and may endanger members of the company or disobey direct orders and shift the blame onto someone else to make sure things play out how their masters want it to.

A lot has changed in your world but it still sounds like Colonists are getting the shaft. Any given Allied colony probably has conspirators trying to build a rebellion to resist European rule, possibly reaching out to group2. Or vise versa perhaps representatives of group2's colonies are approaching the PCs for aid in a rebellion.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:34 PM   #4
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Default Re: Adventure seeds - 16th Century

Side-note: I would like your feedback if this thread requires more development. As it's got a several reads but no comments.

At least I would like to know if there are problems with the campaign's draft.

I am open to advice.

Thanks!
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:48 PM   #5
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The geography of your premise is naff. An alliance of Venice, Greece and Turkey is super unlikely. For thousands of years if Greece is independent then whoever controls Anatolia is going to be a threat to it. They'd only ally if there was a bigger threat to the north (ie. Russia).

Nor could such an alliance compete for control of the New World versus an alliance of Spain, Britain and France. Such an alliance would control access to the Atlantic Ocean and once again have more reason to be mutually hostile than to team up. Even if you dig a Suez canal going eastward rather than westward would be where the profit lies.
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:12 PM   #6
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Ok, so we're looking at an enormous and deeply disruptive migration to the new world almost immediately after its discovery backed by extremely strong national governments represented not only on the Atlantic coast but on the Medeterranian as well.

I can think of why this won't work as an alternate history, but instead I'll turn this into a series of adventure seeds:
  • A foreign ship is blown ashore and wrecked essentially on top of your settlement. A force is sent to ensure military safety. The force has the opportunity to save lives, especially those of women, children, and other civilians. Do they? If the commander gives orders one way or another, will they be followed?
  • The year's crop fails right as the home country sends another batch of travelers. There is not enough food to go around. Some talk of raiding neighbors for food. Some talk of kicking out the new comers. Some hope to beg for grain supplies. Others say the town must disperse to communities that can feed themselves. Difficult decisions lay ahead.
  • A local community ruler demands that his citizens spend 1 day a week toiling in the newly discovered mines. The conditions are terrible, but he's the highest authority, and to even complain about it is to risk a flogging. Even if the citizens could reach a higher authority, would the simple letter sent be enough to stop his abuses?
  • Through some sort of mixup, a technically allied community with a foreign language is set up WAY to close to an existing settlement. Tempers are flairing, and most disputes are unable to even be resolved by yelling at each other. Fists and rocks have flown, and who knows what will happen next.
  • Orders from some theorist in an ivory tower have commanded the settlement of what looks like an ideal spot, but is actually a festering swamp.
  • The local governor is selling off supplies meant to keep colonists alive, leaving everyone else hungry.

The colonists here can't leave, are torn away from their traditional support structures, have limited ability to appeal decisions, and are part of a very hierarchical system. That's really close to slavery. You've got a very top down system, and the potential for abuse of power is immense.
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
The geography of your premise is naff. An alliance of Venice, Greece and Turkey is super unlikely. For thousands of years if Greece is independent then whoever controls Anatolia is going to be a threat to it. They'd only ally if there was a bigger threat to the north (ie. Russia).

Nor could such an alliance compete for control of the New World versus an alliance of Spain, Britain and France. Such an alliance would control access to the Atlantic Ocean and once again have more reason to be mutually hostile than to team up. Even if you dig a Suez canal going eastward rather than westward would be where the profit lies.
I'm trying to make it work in my head. Venice and the ottomans historically seem to be an on-again, off-again thing. If you are talking about the ethnicity of the colonizers then describing an ottoman sea faring effort as being ethnically Greek and Turkish isn't a huge problem. The Atlantic thing is a big problem. To make it work I think you have to make the nominally ottoman North African provinces actually be ottoman, have much less independence, and provide a route to the new world. This means the ottomans probably control Gibraltar. Of course, if this is the case then North Africans are likely to be at least as prominent as Greeks in colonizing, to say nothing of Syrians or Egyptians.

I don't know that the European politics is actually necessary to get right for the scenario to work, though I do think the scenario works better if you go full fantasy and use more conveniently arranged turkish, greek, and spainish flavored places rather than the 'real' geography.
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:23 PM   #8
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The geography of your premise is naff. An alliance of Venice, Greece and Turkey is super unlikely (...)
By naff, do you mean ordinary or anachronistic?

Of course, history as we know it might be different from 1,500 onward, but not entirely impossible. The assumption here is that the “alliance” took place and they are successfully sending ships to the new world. And that’s what I would like work with (an alternate world from 1500 onward).

The alliance is not competing against the other nations working/organized as a team, that’s the way the alliance decided to picture it (for rough simplicity).

The Venetian-Greek-Ottoman alliance does not seem unlikely to me, for a number of reasons.

One of the most redundant issues between the Ottomans and Venetians was the control over the Adriatic, Aegean and Ionian seas. For Venice, maintaining control over its territory was expensive during this time; they had to pay for protection to Hungary and Rome, and it was not effective in the end. By 1500, there was an armistice treaty which put an end to the Venetian-Ottoman war. Almost right after this, Spain started attacking Venice, why would the wage war against the Ottoman Empire (again?).

On the other hand, the conquest of Greece was already consummated by the Ottoman Empire around 1500, IIRC Greece was mainly disputed by Venice and the Ottoman Empire; still, an important portion of Greece was already administered by the Ottoman Empire around that time.

On the other hand cooperation with the Ottomans would help Venetians to protect themselves from Rome and France. Neutral ground (Greek Coasts) between Venice and the Ottoman Empire could be of great aid, a place to benefit from commerce and to establish a front against the menaces in the seas (relatively away from the Ottoman Empire).

The alliance with Venice could have been of great aid for the Ottoman Empire in taking down the Austro-Hungarian lands.

By 1500, it’s been almost 10 years since the discovery of America, and the other countries are already enjoying the spoils of their expeditions. It wouldn’t hurt Venetians and Ottomans to calm down and take over the world under a new sky.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
(...) This means the ottomans probably control Gibraltar. Of course, if this is the case then North Africans are likely to be at least as prominent as Greeks in colonizing, to say nothing of Syrians or Egyptians (...) I do think the scenario works better if you go full fantasy and use more conveniently arranged turkish, greek, and spainish flavored places rather than the 'real' geography.
I have considered this (Gibraltar and the Fantasy World). I already ran the part of traversing the seas and reaching the Gulf of California. Regarding Gibraltar, it’s was a very dangerous place, to say the least. But prior to this point it’s been proven by agents (spies) of the alliance that the spoils are/were worth the risks.

Regarding the geography, I was thinking of a fantasy world, but I like the idea of enriching the campaign with materials we find in history books, and other materials from this era that players in the campaign are enthusiastic about.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
(...) I can think of why this won't work as an alternate history, but instead I'll turn this into a series of adventure seeds (...)
This is very cool!
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Old 08-27-2019, 02:39 AM   #9
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So what are the arrangements as to religion? In a new world colony established by the Ottomans, will there be a church for the Venetian Catholic volunteers? Will there be one for the Greek Orthodox volunteers? Will these have the same rights as the Ottoman Muslim volunteers? If not (which is the most likely answer), then why won't the Venetians and Greeks form their own parties and strike out on their own, to establish their own free colony? That's why the Plymouth Colony came into being, you'll remember.

Or is the alliance establishing separate settlements for Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics? If so, you won't get the mixing you seem to wish for.
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Old 08-27-2019, 03:39 PM   #10
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Hey Michele, thanks for the comments!

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So what are the arrangements as to religion? In a new world colony established by the Ottomans, will there be a church for the Venetian Catholic volunteers? Will there be one for the Greek Orthodox volunteers? Will these have the same rights as the Ottoman Muslim volunteers? If not (which is the most likely answer), then why won't the Venetians and Greeks form their own parties and strike out on their own, to establish their own free colony? That's why the Plymouth Colony came into being, you'll remember.
This is going to be very broad, so you may take it with a grain of salt.

I will start with the Ottoman Empire (since they are the biggest players in the alliance). As far as I know, at least under the regime of Sultan Suleiman people was allowed to practice other religions than Islam. In this respect, the inhabitants of the empire were allowed to carry their religious rituals at the designated places; however, given the approach of the Islam (e.g. their religion greatly reflects on the exterior) practitioners of other religions had to adjust their conducts in order to respect the traditions of the predominant religion; on the other hand, law in the Ottoman Empire was greatly involved with the Islam, so it would not be surprising if not-Islamic people found difficulties because of the cultural difference. I can think of 2 big (contextual) downsides at the time, (1) the devşirme (kidnaping Christians boys for the army) and (2) non-Islamic parties willingly demanding judgement under the Islamic laws to earn advantages over non-Islamic parties trying to apply their “native” laws.

Either way, you could say that freedom of religion in the Ottoman Empire was not perfect back then, but somewhat plausible.

Regarding the Venetians and the Greek.

Christianity was quite different during the 16th century; greatly oversimplifying the facts, it was a time in which being Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, etc. was a component of your political allegiance. For example, if you were Catholic you were pledging you allegiance to Rome and if you were Anglican, you were with England, if you are an opposing party then you are an infidel/heretic, etc.; but perhaps religious practices did not change that much (at that time) from one Christian Church to another, and the most relevant matter was about “who’s in charge”. That said, the Venetians were not at the best terms with Rome back then (16th century), and this distanced them from the Church of Rome. On the other hand, Greece was practically gone and the Orthodox Church’s seat was moved to Russia, so Greece did not factor when it came to demanding anything. However, Christianity factored as a whole, in the entire world.

From this perspective, within the alliance Venetians and Greeks are simply Christians.

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Or is the alliance establishing separate settlements for Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics? If so, you won't get the mixing you seem to wish for.
This will sound very smooth, but it’s just the way it works "on the paper":

The alliance in this setting starts from a principle of neutrality. Where Greece stands as the neutral land between the Ottomans and the Venetians. The alliance features a code/law to ensure all of the volunteers are judged equally, and also to administer the new land; this is in part to attract more volunteers to the cause and to avoid conflicts within the alliance.

The settlements are secular and might host members of several religions at once; however, people also can gather and form communities in which they might practice their customs and traditions freely. These areas are revised and authorized by the local authority (the diplomat); entrance to such areas is not restricted, but those interested in entering these spaces might be required to comply with their respective norms; if you want to live in such places you do require to pay a fee. Inhabitants could live in a secular (mixed) area instead of joining a community, paying a lower fee. The fees are employed to sustain the settlement.
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