While the continent of North Vespuccia is the central of focus in Crossroads: The New World, it is not the only part of the world. There are many continents beyond its borders, and these each offer unique opportunities for players and DMs alike.
Africa is a massive continent across the sea from the New World, just south of Europe. The land is enormous, with immense diversity throughout. In the north, the lands are mostly desert, containing one of the largest stretches of the hot desert in the world. On the western shore, there’s an enormous rain-forest in the central region, teeming with life. Much of the area south of the desert is dominated by savanna, massive plains of rolling grasslands studded with the occasional tree. The weather here is largely dominated by the cycle of wet season and dry season. The summers are long, bakingly hot, and very dry, and the winters are cool, with heavy rainfall and a resurgence of life.
Politically, Africa is divided into many, many groups, some small empires, others independent tribes throughout the landscape. At the moment, there are perhaps a dozen or so European settlements on the shorelines where they trade with the natives for gold, ivory, exotic goods, and perhaps most importantly, slaves. Trading in slaves is a growing business of the time, with European colonies in the new world demanding increasing numbers of slaves as native slavery decreases, in favor of those captured from Africa. The traders offer European goods to the Africans for slaves traded to the new world for goods that trade well for money and goods back in Europe, which are then traded to the Africans for more slaves.
Asia is the largest continent in the world, and has staggering diversity in its geography, climate, and cultures. It ranges from arctic and subarctic climates in the north, arid lands in the the center and the west, humid areas scattered throughout, down to subtropical and tropical climates in the southern areas. Vast, cold steppes, sweltering jungles, enormous deserts, looming mountains and picturesque plains and fields can all be found within the continent of Asia.
Politically, the landscape can be divided into a number of distinct regions. In the southwest is the middle east, a dry, desert-like land where the Ottoman empire, a strict monarchy, dominates much of the landscape, though they face increasing pressure as they begin to lose their grip on their lands. In the north is Russia, monarch empire that eagerly grows with each year, even expanding a very limited presence to the new world. In the center is China, under the rule of the Manchu people, the Qing dynasty. Their conquest drove the remnants of the Ming dynasty across the sea to take refuge in their new land of Fusang. In the south, India is trading hands between the declining Mughal Empire and the ascending Maratha Empire, the Mughal empire clinging desperately to what remains of its holdings. In the southeast, Islam is spreading through the various peoples of the land, and the Qing spread their influence into the region, claiming countries as vassal states. Off the eastern coast, one can find Japan, a mysterious land, shrouded from outside contact by an enormous, permanent wall of swirling wind that shatters any ship that dares to cross it.
The land of Australia is largely a mystery to the world beyond its shores. The Dutch charted the coastline and declaring it "New Holland" a hundred years ago, but making no effort at colonization or inland mapping. Reports from sailors say that the land is a harsh place, full of fearsome giant monsters, venomous creatures, and strange cultural groups.
Europe is a diverse collection of nations, many wealthy and powerful, eager to spread their influence across the globe. In the northern reaches, the land can be subarctic, but the majority of the subcontinent is dominated by temperate forests, with broad-leafed trees, cold winters and warm summers. The Alps rise out of the continent, a ridge of snow-capped peaks that cross through many distinct countries. In the south, the Mediterranean’s warm waters and years of biological exchange around the sea have covered the southern shoreline of Europe with a distinct forest biome featuring olive trees.
Politically, Europe is highly divided. No less than five major powers squabble over the subcontinent, including the English with their islands in the north, the Dutch on the northern coast of the mainland, the Spanish who share a southeastern peninsula with the Portuguese, and the French, who control a very large country spanning sea to sea just next to Spain. These nations have been warring with one another since they were founded, sometimes openly warring, other times merely competing with each other in a rather blood-thirsty fashion. Most of the powers are Monarchies, ruled by kings or queens, and heavily influenced by word of the Church, their faith nearly ubiquitous on the continent, though England remains outside their command, despite the pressure from the Church.
Brasilia (South Vespuccia) Edit
The southern continent, known as Brasilia, is a dark land, a land of mystery and unknowns. The Caribbean shore is dominated by a massive rain-forest, fed by the largest river system in the world, the Amazon. The western shore is a narrow strip of land against the sea, pinned between the mighty Andes mountains and the Pacific ocean. Down the eastern shore, the tremendous rain-forests fall away, replaced with smaller forests, grassland, and eventually, arid, rocky steppes.
In 1530, the Portuguese landed at the mouth of the amazon and named the continent Brasilia, and began to colonize, enslaving massive chunks of the amazonian tribes in mines and plantations. Between the plagues the Europeans brought and the horrific conditions the natives slaved under, nearly 90% of the natives used for slavery died, enough that mothers would cripple their children to spare them from their fate in the mines. The colony lasted for almost 50 years before the jungle threw them off. Survivors of the initial purge said it was as though the land itself had risen against them, with beasts, bugs, and plants turning against them in a nightmarish scenario that killed or drove out all the settlers. Sea serpents now nest along the deep water shelf, destroying any ship that comes too close to their lairs, making any attempts to retake Brasilia too dangerous and much, much too expensive. Those who get close to the shore without attracting the serpents report strange giant beasts patrolling the beaches.
The eastern shore is not as unapproachable, but the interior proves every bit as enigmatic and impenetrable. The first ship to arrive found a regiment of soldiers and a priest waiting for them at their landing place, as though they knew they were coming. The priest greeted them, in the sailor’s language, and told them, very politely, to leave and return to a set place and time if they wished to trade. When they did, they found a trading post had sprung up since their last pass, and found traders willing to offer them silver and gold statues and sculptures for European technology, but also a battalion of soldiers standing by. Since then each visitor to any spot on the eastern the shores other than that trading post, finds themselves greeted by the same battalion and priest. If they obey peacefully, they get bountiful trade. Nobody’s quite sure what happens to the ones who don’t agree, but it can be assumed it’s not pleasant, since they are never seen again.