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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:15 am 
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Chinese discovery of America in the first half of the 15th century opens up many possibilities for you to play with by the time the game begins. There would be long decades of Chinese influence on North and Central America before the Europeans show up. First and foremost, the native population would be exposed to Old World diseases carried by the Chinese, and by the time the Europeans arrive - their population would have probably recovered, and now with some immunity to these diseases, so no mass plagues paving the way to conquest as was in the real world. Or far smaller plagues involved. Also, by the early 1500s, the Central American native powers will probably have some contact with the Chinese West Coast colonies. Even with indirect trade, this could mean Montezuma II facing Cortez with Chinese guns! Possibly horses, too.

So European conquest would be far more partial than in the real world. The Central American native powers will possibly be players in the Great Game of the Carribean - possibly with ships made to Chinese specifications - and possibly be Chinese client-states. This creates the equivalent of the OTU Sword-Worlders and Vargr...

This makes everything very interesting indeed.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:48 pm 
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Chinese contact to the Americas would pretty radically influence things in the "New" World.

I'd suggest that instead of Zheng He's expedition being blown off course seems pretty unlikely - they wouldn't reach the New World. The Chinese had better navigational tools that to simply sail forever eastwards.

Instead, I suggest Zheng He doesn't just voyage repeatedly around SE asia towards South Asia and beyond, instead at some point, it is prevailed upon him by the court to find Penglai (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Penglai), which some faction in the court decides if it cannot be found in the immediate waters around China, perhaps it lies in the great eastern beyond. (They're interested in securing that immortality stuff.) So Zheng He leads an expedition that sailed up towards modern Russia, then around to Alaska, then back down the west coast of what is today the United States.

The Chinese historically have never been interested in colonizing "virgin wilderness" I don't see settling in California (I guess they might, since the Chinese traditionally do have a very strong desire to "civilize" peoples and make them Chinese). Instead, Chinese traditionally migrate to trade and exploit existing markets. They're more likely to have sailed up and down the west coast of the Americas, making contact with the Aztecs and Inca. Both civilizations would have things the Chinese want - gold and silver, exotic bird feathers, pelts, and so on. If reasonably peaceful contact could be made, as Golan suggested, the major epidemics would have already occurred but more interestingly, the Chinese would likely be uninterested in conquering the Aztecs or Inca. However, they would likely have settlements to trade with the natives and the technological leakage from the Chinese to the Aztecs and/or Inca would stir things up quite a bit - even if the Chinese don't bring horses (there's quite a bit of reason that they might not - they might have, perhaps if the native Americans desired to see these beasts the Chinese keep talking about, but otherwise, without the intention of colonizing or conquering, they wouldn't have beasts or burden or mounts for warriors), they'd certainly bring the paradigm shift that the wheel is useful as a kind of 'tire.' While many historians note that the native Americans lacking the wheel and a large beast of burden was one of the reasons for their "backwardness" compare to Eurasia (something I don't quite buy) - even the idea of the wheelbarrow or human-pulled light carts would shift productivity quite a bit. Contact with the Chinese would also mean that the idea of "alien outsiders" would not be quite so awe-inspiring to these native American civilizations - making Spanish conquest much more difficult -- probably impossible at least in way of "a handful of conquistadors" way. It's important to remember that around the time the Spanish contacted the Aztecs and the Inca, both were suffering significant social stresses. The Inca were shaky after a succession crisis. The Aztecs were suffering from restive populations as well. In either way, the Spaniards might still be able to exploit (or trigger) civil wars, perhaps jockeying for influence in a fragmented Aztec empire, etc.

Of course, not having found Penglai, there might be Chinese adventurers poking around the Gulf of Mexico seeking it still further east - basically their El Dorado.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:54 pm 
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Golan2072 wrote:
Chinese discovery of America in the first half of the 15th century opens up many possibilities for you to play with by the time the game begins. There would be long decades of Chinese influence on North and Central America before the Europeans show up. First and foremost, the native population would be exposed to Old World diseases carried by the Chinese, and by the time the Europeans arrive - their population would have probably recovered, and now with some immunity to these diseases, so no mass plagues paving the way to conquest as was in the real world. Or far smaller plagues involved. Also, by the early 1500s, the Central American native powers will probably have some contact with the Chinese West Coast colonies. Even with indirect trade, this could mean Montezuma II facing Cortez with Chinese guns! Possibly horses, too.

So European conquest would be far more partial than in the real world. The Central American native powers will possibly be players in the Great Game of the Carribean - possibly with ships made to Chinese specifications - and possibly be Chinese client-states. This creates the equivalent of the OTU Sword-Worlders and Vargr...

This makes everything very interesting indeed.


I hadn´t thought quite that far. But you´re right, it changes quite a bit.

Zheng He´s voyage to the Americas would have taken place in the 1420s, so it is very unlikely the Chinese presence in the Americas (center far to the North in Northern California) would have been strong enough to affect the civil war that led to the formation of Aztec Empire. I´m not sure the Chinese would be as vigorously and imperialistically expansionist in the America as the Spanish were; "Xinjiang" ("New Territory") is a lot further from China than New Spain is from Spain, and the Ming (like many Chinese dynasties) were more interested in receiving tribute than outright ruling barbarians, and 15th century Mexico was densely populated and quite civilized rather than (to Ming sensibilities) savages-filled wilderness like the American Southwest (which would have reminded them far too much of Mongolia for their taste) and thus far more able to resist conquest.
I think, then, that the "status quo" when the Spanish arrive is a coexistence between Aztec Empire and Xinjiang Chinese, alternating between peaceful coexistence when an Aztec emperor pays tribute to the Chinese, and the Chinese supporting the various frequent rebellions against Aztec rule to punish those Aztec Emperors who pay no or too little tribute. Mostly likely the then-current Aztec ruler tries to get Spanish assistance against the Chinese-backed rebels, maybe even to hire Spanish conquistadores as mercenaries against the rebels and Chinese - which ends with him overthrown and much of the Aztec Empire made a Spanish province - although the Chinese would manage to retain a client/buffer state, perhaps the Purepucha/Tarascans. Or maybe the Spanish only annex some provinces along the Gulf coast and keep the rump Aztec Empire as their own client state and buffer against the Chinese.
Incidentally, once the Spanish land in Mexico, hear of foreigners "from beyond the sea" on the far side of the Aztec Empire, and realize that these foreigners are actually Chinese, it´ll take a LONG time to dispel the misconception that they´ve landed in Zippangu (i.e. Japan)...

I´m not quite so optimistic about the ability of the surviving Central American powers to "westernize" (or "easternize" as the case may be) enough to be on a relatively equal footing with the Spanish; the Maya weren´t fully conquered until the late 17th century, and I haven´t heard of them westernizing their military. Chinese-trained and -equipped formations within their armies, even Chinese "mercenaries" in support of their armies, yes, but no indigenous capacity for equipping their own armies with large numbers of Western (or Eastern) weapons - I think the Chinese would do their utmost to keep the natives totally dependant on Chinese aid to maintain their modern armies, such as by keeping the production of steel and gunpowder a secret. And for the same reason, I do not think the Chinese would teach native powers to build real ships, as they would want to keep them dependant on what the Chinese bring to them, rather than allow them seek out foreign trade on their own.
The Maya will probably resist Spanish conquest somewhat better than historically, and Maya territory from Yucatan down to the Pacific coast will be a loose-ish confederation of city-states that maintains their independence, ably but not altogether altruistically aided by Chinese "advisors".
As for the Inca... since the Zacatecas silver mines are now most likely in Chinese-affiliated territory, I *really* want the Spanish to have Potosi as a source of fabulous wealth, which is in Inca territory. Most likely, the Inca Empire falls at some point, probably later than historically, when the Spanish manage to exploit some sort of civil war; assuming the Inca already had trade contacts with Chinese and Spanish already by this time, both sides probably backed rival contenders in that civil war as yet another set of proxies for a war between them.

Okay... clearly the whole matter needs a lot more thought; I am just making the above up as I go along so far.

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Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:12 pm 
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epicenter wrote:
Chinese contact to the Americas would pretty radically influence things in the "New" World.

I'd suggest that instead of Zheng He's expedition being blown off course seems pretty unlikely - they wouldn't reach the New World. The Chinese had better navigational tools that to simply sail forever eastwards.

Instead, I suggest Zheng He doesn't just voyage repeatedly around SE asia towards South Asia and beyond, instead at some point, it is prevailed upon him by the court to find Penglai (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Penglai), which some faction in the court decides if it cannot be found in the immediate waters around China, perhaps it lies in the great eastern beyond. (They're interested in securing that immortality stuff.) So Zheng He leads an expedition that sailed up towards modern Russia, then around to Alaska, then back down the west coast of what is today the United States.

The Chinese historically have never been interested in colonizing "virgin wilderness" I don't see settling in California (I guess they might, since the Chinese traditionally do have a very strong desire to "civilize" peoples and make them Chinese). Instead, Chinese traditionally migrate to trade and exploit existing markets. They're more likely to have sailed up and down the west coast of the Americas, making contact with the Aztecs and Inca. Both civilizations would have things the Chinese want - gold and silver, exotic bird feathers, pelts, and so on. If reasonably peaceful contact could be made, as Golan suggested, the major epidemics would have already occurred but more interestingly, the Chinese would likely be uninterested in conquering the Aztecs or Inca. However, they would likely have settlements to trade with the natives and the technological leakage from the Chinese to the Aztecs and/or Inca would stir things up quite a bit - even if the Chinese don't bring horses (there's quite a bit of reason that they might not - they might have, perhaps if the native Americans desired to see these beasts the Chinese keep talking about, but otherwise, without the intention of colonizing or conquering, they wouldn't have beasts or burden or mounts for warriors), they'd certainly bring the paradigm shift that the wheel is useful as a kind of 'tire.' While many historians note that the native Americans lacking the wheel and a large beast of burden was one of the reasons for their "backwardness" compare to Eurasia (something I don't quite buy) - even the idea of the wheelbarrow or human-pulled light carts would shift productivity quite a bit. Contact with the Chinese would also mean that the idea of "alien outsiders" would not be quite so awe-inspiring to these native American civilizations - making Spanish conquest much more difficult -- probably impossible at least in way of "a handful of conquistadors" way. It's important to remember that around the time the Spanish contacted the Aztecs and the Inca, both were suffering significant social stresses. The Inca were shaky after a succession crisis. The Aztecs were suffering from restive populations as well. In either way, the Spaniards might still be able to exploit (or trigger) civil wars, perhaps jockeying for influence in a fragmented Aztec empire, etc.

Of course, not having found Penglai, there might be Chinese adventurers poking around the Gulf of Mexico seeking it still further east - basically their El Dorado.


Those are good points - which I didn´t see before I wrote by previous post. I already like your idea of Zheng He´s expedition better than mine.

I still see them settle the San Francisco Bay - it´s a great natural harbor, and if they take a route similar to that of the historical Manila Galleons, SF Bay could make a good first port of call after the long trans-Pacific passage, and possibly a good last port of call before going back - and it is in a secure position, in that it is too far away from native civilisations for them to seize or destroy it, should they turn hostile, which is more than you could say about, for example, a Chinese enclave in Acapulco or Lima. Undoubtedly, over time some sort of colony would grow around that port.

Besides trade, the Chinese dynasties desired tribute from foreign nations, as a confirmation of China´s rule of "All Under the Heavens", i.e. the entire world. In return they would send "presents" that might well exceed the tribute in value, as was the case with the Mongols at time, thus paying tribute to threatening foreigners while saving face by pretending the foreigners were paying tribute to them instead. So I can see the Chinese establish a suitably powerful permanent presence in the Americas to back up the demand for tribute from native civilisations - tribute that might well be a precondition for very lucrative trade with the natives, so that the natives not only make more profit than they pay in tribute, but also get access to priceless Chinese goods (and tools and weapons) that they couldn´t have gotten any other way.

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Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. Sir Frederick Hoyle
Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:27 pm 
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While it is a D100 game, the Pirates of Legend book might be a good source of information on relative ship prices and abilities. You would have to convert them over, but the tonnage, weapons and speeds, would be the same. There are also some good rules in there about sailing speeds that could port over very easily. All OGL too should you decide to publish.

It has everything from row boats to schooners to galleons. AND it is pretty cheap.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:56 pm 
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Sir Chaos wrote:
I still see them settle the San Francisco Bay - it´s a great natural harbor, and if they take a route similar to that of the historical Manila Galleons, SF Bay could make a good first port of call after the long trans-Pacific passage, and possibly a good last port of call before going back - and it is in a secure position, in that it is too far away from native civilisations for them to seize or destroy it, should they turn hostile, which is more than you could say about, for example, a Chinese enclave in Acapulco or Lima. Undoubtedly, over time some sort of colony would grow around that port.
Note that San Francisco Bay is not easy to spot from the seaward side, due to the narrow entrance (the Golden Gate) and frequent fogs. Historically, it was discovered by Europeans walking in from the land side, centuries after they began sailing up and down the coast and stopping at Drake's Bay to the north.

Not saying it couldn't happen, of course, but it is far from certain.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:39 pm 
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Posts: 314
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thrash wrote:
Sir Chaos wrote:
I still see them settle the San Francisco Bay - it´s a great natural harbor, and if they take a route similar to that of the historical Manila Galleons, SF Bay could make a good first port of call after the long trans-Pacific passage, and possibly a good last port of call before going back - and it is in a secure position, in that it is too far away from native civilisations for them to seize or destroy it, should they turn hostile, which is more than you could say about, for example, a Chinese enclave in Acapulco or Lima. Undoubtedly, over time some sort of colony would grow around that port.
Note that San Francisco Bay is not easy to spot from the seaward side, due to the narrow entrance (the Golden Gate) and frequent fogs. Historically, it was discovered by Europeans walking in from the land side, centuries after they began sailing up and down the coast and stopping at Drake's Bay to the north.

Not saying it couldn't happen, of course, but it is far from certain.


Yeah... I´ve put the "Chinese in America" part up for discussion in an alternate history forum, and among many other things, gotten this bit of advice. Most details of this part of the backstory are very much in flux at the moment.

I think the Chinese will explore the Pacific Coast relatively thoroughly, including landing exploration parties at various spots and having them poke around - they are after all looking for a specific location that might well be out of sight of the coast. They´ll find SF Bay earlier than the Europeans did historically, but will initially settle somewhere else. I´m thinking the LA or San Diego area.

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Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. Sir Frederick Hoyle
Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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