Zombies in History
/door flies open
Braaaaains. And alternative history. That’s what this campaign is about. That and assuaging my boredom. More here later, because I’m lazy. Oh yeah. Use whatever books you want. The more the merrier. Plan on your character being level three (3) and starting in Theodossia, in the Byzantine Empire.
The Campaign World
That’s right, cats and kittens, we’re playing in a homebrew campaign world, but it’s a pretty easy one. What if, as humanity developed civilization, they developed magic as well? For now, the campaign world is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the North Sea on the north, the Urals and the Hindu Kush on the east and the Sahara to the south.
It’s 1266, dated from the ascension of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. The world is dominated by humanity and has been since the great empires of Persia and Rome. The old races and the little folk have been driven underground and into the hidden places of the world. Humans, having driven away the civilized elves and dwarves and extinguished their great empires, have nearly exterminated the more savage races and hunted monsters nearly to extinction. Welsh legends place their revered red dragon under the Pistyll Rhaeadr, and the Irish tell tales of the little folk, confident that they still exist, but to the French and Italians, such creatures are nothing but myth, their existence as doubtful as the existence of the minotaur killed by Theseus.
This is a cosmopolitan world, secure in its alliances and structure, complete with its villains and heroes. The Roman Empire is gone, the Byzantine Empire, though powerful, is in decline. Egypt’s power has been broken since its domination by Rome. The rising powers are the Teutonic Empire, which blends tribal vigor with incredible faith, Carthage, which looks to reclaim the Mediterranean domination it possessed before the rise of Rome, and the Islamic Caliphate, which threatens to end the Byzantine Empire for good. Traders from the east come with rumors, some spoken with skeptical humor and others with hysterical certitude, but, regardless, few pay them any mind.
This region is temperate but cold, with short summers and longer than average winters. Agriculture is not a great source of wealth, though animal husbandry is. Most people are pagan and live in loosely organized communities. Ireland is almost entirely tribal and divided between five loose states; Connaught, Ulster, Tyrone, Meath and Leinster. The Welsh fuse Roman ideas of government and justice with Celtic distrust of authority and naturalism, while the Scottish live in clans, uniting together only to defend their independence. The English, having only been conquered by the French within the last century, are still fusing together Anglo-Saxon and Norman culture. They are the most traditionally feudal society of the four. The dominant language is Breton, though upper- and middle-class English speak mainly French. Educated men in Wales, Scotland and England can be expected to speak Latin.
Northern Europe is dominated by three powers; the Hanseatic League, the Teutonic Empire and the Scandinavian houses of Sverker and Eric. While Germany is reasonably temperate, the lands of the Hanseatic League and Scandinavia are frigid. While the Teutonic Empire is mostly self-sufficient, its neighbors are dependent upon trade to bring in agricultural products. Fortunately, they are rich in natural resources. The Swedes and members of the League are pagan, while the Teutons worship a single god of strength and the sun called Irmin. Scandinavians overwhelmingly speak Swedish. Teutons speak German. The Hanseatic League, composed of a multitude of states, speaks a hodgepodge of languages, including Danish, Dutch, Swedish and Flemish, but most people speak German as a second language.
Western Europe contains the world’s only truly Christian states; France and Navarra. It also contains a great deal of conflict, as England rules parts of northern France, which is also home to several pseudo-independent baronies and marquissates. France is the largest power in the region, though a united Iberia would immediately overtake it. That, however, will not happen any time soon, as the five states on the peninsula are hard-pressed to simply maintain a strategic alliance against Carthage. Because of former Roman occupation, educated peoples will speak Latin as a second language. In English France and France proper, the common language is French. In the baronies to the northeast, most speak French or German, though Dutch and Flemish are common in certain regions. In the Iberian peninsula, most educated people speak Latin as a second language. Castilians speak Spanish, and refuse to learn languages other than Latin. Spanish is also spoken in Granada. Navarra and Aragon speak Aragonese, and Portugal speaks Portuguese, though these countries are less arrogant about learning other languages.
The classical Mediterranean world is a study in opposites. The Byzantine Empire, on one hand, is a gigantic, centralized monolith obsessed with protocol and law. To the west, structure has almost abandoned Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire, and it consists of a group of squabbling merchant republics and small monarchical city-states. The common language of the region is Latin, which is spoken in all Byzantine religious and government functions and by anyone with an education in Italy. Italian is spoken by everyone in Italy and Sicily, and the eastern regions of the Mediterranean are commonly Greek-speaking.
Civilization in the east consists of a scattered few bastions in a very dangerous wilderness. Russian-speaking Novgorod has grown from a single city to command a vast empire east of the Urals which has come into conflict with the Swedes and Byzantines, but, outside its cities, life continues in the wilds as it has for centuries untold. West of the Urals, the only beacons of civilization are the scattered remnants of an ancient empire, sharing only the Lithuanian language.
The blistering south has but one defining feature. The desert. Throughout the region all civilization exists only in the few places where water is plentiful. Between these enclaves of civilization is a vast wasteland with a few oases dispersed throughout. The people of North Africa have remained closely tied to either the Mediterranean. The people of Egypt remain similarly bound to either the Mediterranean or the Nile. Of all the societies in the region only the Arabs seem to truly be at home in the desert, though even they prefer greener areas. All of the powers in the region are highly expansionistic, with the Caliphate and the Carthaginians being the most so. The Egyptians, being sandwiched between these two powers, struggle constantly just to maintain their own borders. Languages in the region are highly varied. There exists a smattering of different foreign tongues, including Greek, Latin, and Persian, as well as indigenous local languages such as Egyptian and Arabic. The people of Carthage speak their own unique dialect of Latin referred to as Carthaginian Latin or simply Carthaginian.
Mystery and legend surround all knowledge of the distant east, the edge of the known world. The only portion of the region which anything truly concrete is known is Persia due to its many close ties with the west in antiquity. Beyond Persia lay more desert, and beyond that lay the foreboding Hindu Kush. These mountains effectively serve as a wall cutting the region in two. Little trade comes through the mountains directly; often instead goods are traded with the savage Afghanis who then trade with the Persians. Of India, some is known, though most of this knowledge comes from ages ago when Alexander attempted to conquer the region. The Persians also attempted to conquer the region, but they too did were unable to make much progress and were forced out the moment they showed the first signs of weakness. Beyond India and across the even more daunting Himalayas lay China. Nothing is concretely known of China. Rumor speaks of a very vast, very powerful empire there, with a culture as old or older than any in the West. Strange and amazing wonders are said to exist there, from monumental structures to incredibly powerful technologies which are said to be able to level fortifications without the use of lever or magic. The Persians speak their own language while the people of India are said to speak a great many different and utterly foreign languages. The people of China are said to speak one unified language, but nothing is known of it.