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Where the monsters are

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Assume an alternate history version of earth (most of you will recognize this). There are humans with their kingdoms and empires, but there is also an orc empire and the five troll kings. Dragons. A variety of other creatures out of any D&D monster manual.

Where do you put them?

I have my own ideas for my world of Altearth, but they all involve an element of displacement that makes me uneasy. If I base the orc empire in Lithuania, say, then what do I do with the Letts? If I put the five troll kingdoms down in the Balkans, I rather think the Serbs and Hungarians and others might object. Now, maybe readers won't much care. It's fantasy, but it does bother me a bit. I mean, why not put the orc empire in the British Isles?

Right now, all options are on the table, except for central Europe. My premise is that the Roman Empire never fell, so the Denmark-to-Sicily axis pretty much needs to stay human. Dwarf cantons are in the Alps, Pyrenees and a bit in the Carpathians. Elves are scattered, sprites more so, and pixies ... well, nobody can figure out the pixies and nobody cares.

But if I'm going to have a persistent geo-political threat, it needs to *reside* somewhere, and that means displacing someone's history. So I go round and round, and write stories that duck the issue.

I'm not looking for answers here. This is something I have to work through. But I thought it might make for an interesting conversation. In the above scenario, where would *you* put an orc empire and troll kingdoms (trolls are all in one area, it's just that they have five kings). And what do you do with the historical people who lived in that region?
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
To me one answer kind of leaps out: Western Russia, maybe cutting into the borders of the old soviet block. There's enough land there to carve out a country without wiping a full country off the map.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
North Africa has to figure in because _something_ should happen in Spain. It could just be eternally-warring minor kingdoms, of course, but having a major threat whose power base is across the water is attractive. I'm thinking something along the lines of the Barbary Coast but with a reach into southern Spain.

We certainly can kill off whole peoples, but before I resort to literary genocide, I thought it might be worth considering alternatives. Having the orc empire situated in the British Isles is intriguing, and counter-balances the more obvious tendency to put all the bad guys east of the Elbe.

I do like the possibility of having people continue to live under the heel of the oppressor. There's plenty of room for the Letts to hide in the swamps and forests, and that can extend on up into Livonia. There are those Saxon communities in Transylvania for another precedent. In that case, they are simply left alone as not being worth the trouble, unless they rebel.

I also did not want to play into the obvious stereotypes of orcs=Ottomans or some such. It's a possibility, of course, but before I settle into a mold I like to see if I can break it.
 

Svrtnsse

Staff
Article Team
What if the vikings were really trolls? You've got the four northern countries and then add in Iceland or the Faroe Islands as the fifth. There could also be an uneasy coexistence between the humans and the trolls in that area. Maybe the vikings had one or two trolls with them when they were off raiding and pillaging. Maybe the troll kings control human armies?
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Good one, Svrtnsse, but I've already snagged the Vikings.

Dragons.

Seems like a natural fit. I have them appear in the late 700s. The last of them are killed at Stamford Bridge.

My dragons are not intelligent and never form a society, so I can still have Nordic peoples living in Scandinavia. Which would leave them open for the troll kings. Works pretty neatly: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Livonia. I'd have to turn trolls into sailors, but I could manage that.

My dragons are created creatures (who get out of hand). Maybe I could have them be created by troll magicians. Hmmmmmmmmm
 

Svrtnsse

Staff
Article Team
Maybe they're sea trolls?
Usually when I think of trolls I think of the art of John Bauer, and those that followed him. Large lumbering brutes, not entirely dissimilar to boulders. They live in the forests.

What if instead, trolls were coastal beings, that live where the storms hit the cliffs, who swim as well as they walk, and who make for master seamen?
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Something along those lines. I had had trolls as proto-Magyars, a nomadic people who were so rugged they didn't use horses, they just carry everything themselves. But that would put them down on the Hungarian plain. I shall have to choose, but I don't have to choose any time soon.

I definitely have room up north for something, though!
 
Well I'm Murca-centric in this brainstorm, so obviously the pixies have to live in the Americas. And the Native Americans have no problem integrating with the pixies—although obviously, there'll be different pixie tribes or subsets, so there'll be wars between groups.

Yeah, not Europe. But you could add flavor in giving pixies the ability to travel long distance via magic, so they pop in and out of Europe and carry these wild tales of America and Native Americans with them—probably not called "America" and "Native Americans" of course.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
I like that possibility, FifthView. There are magical portals in Altearth, though it's a very long time before anyone finds them. There could be hidden ones known only to pixies. Maybe they are native, more or less, to the Western World (Outremer), but think it's a lark to gad about Europa now and again.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Hey now, I've been to Denmark too. Well, Copenhagen, which is a little like saying one has been to America when one has only been to New York City.

Yokay, joke. The Danes, despite their modern demeanor, were a ferocious people and could probably handle the trolls all by themselves. They wouldn't even need the help of the Frisians!
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
>I better take notes.

To which I would reply to my students: I take better notes.

New York City is not a part of America. It's apart from America. <g>
 
Does an orc raise their pinkie or not? I learned in China, as a man, not to raise my pinkie. If you're ever in Kunming, the full-blow tea tasting is pretty cool, LOL.

How about that for a tangent?
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Orcs don't raise their pinkie. They raise *your* pinkie.

Then they see the raise, and call. For a show of hands, of course.
 

DylanRS

Dreamer
Why not scatter them like the elves, but develop an organic path for their historical conquest? If they're just dumb brutes I see even less of a reason for them to have a clear homeland, but even if they have just a smidge of dignity or a sympathetic flavor then why not give them scattered but powerful chiefdoms? There's all kinds of degrees of subversion you can do, but orcs generally have a warlike bent, right? You could even have a more settled subset attempting to keep an actual society together.
 
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