Monday, September 28, 2009

Lancers

America is much larger, and much more inland than Western Europe, so horses are even more valuable in the American Middle Ages than the European Ages. Horses are expensive to keep, but they are worth their weight, and the value of horses has resulted in intensive breeding for the animal, especially in places like Kentucky and Texas. In fact, many are quite specialized for speed, luggage capacity, and of course, warfare.

As the herdsmen began to move eastwards, the rulers of the Eastern territories knew something had to be done. Because the herdsmen lived a more pastoral existence, they were better equipped to using horses and long range weaponry. The Warlords figured the best way they could handle this onslaught was focusing on defense. Therefore, America began to foster its first ever knights class.

Knights rely on strongly crafted and very heavy armor. several layers may be added on, depending on the battle or wealth of the knight. Most use leather, maybe even flexible woods from South America. the armor itself is formed into a coat-like structure, with impressive shoulder pads. At this point, the Knights will start adding the metal armor, usually a tunic made of scale male. The helmets are almost always metal, and they are curved to resemble the helmets of conquistadors. This is because, as most war is waged on the frontiers, fighting would like something like a brim to keep the sun out of their eyes. To do battle, knights carry massive wooden lances, used to hopefully penetrate the enemy, or at least incapacitate him enough to finish the job. Most nights carry, instead of longswords or broadswords, rather lithe fighting sabres.

Though most Knights exist in the Eastern forest zones, it's not unheard of out in the arid west. Nomads aren't as much of as threat out here, but it's still good to have forces to keep them at bay. Here, knights aren't part of a nobility caste. but servants of their Emperor. Because the Emperor can finance whatever war he wants, he can use valuable water to finance his armies. While the Non-Denom Church and the Warlords have a working, if not always smooth relationship, out in the west , Church and War are considered two very different things. But in the desert lands, Church and State are one, and as a result the Mormon army is also rather religious. This has rubbed off on the Buddhists.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barbarian Tribes

When the industrial age ended, some places took it better than others. Some stripped down major cities and built societies based on trade routes. Some claimed rich farmland and garrisoned it. However, some regions were just out of reach of the more powerful nations. There are cities in America that only exist due to transit for trains, automobiles and airplanes. Once these highly industrialized means of transport dissipated, way of life in the sparser regions of the map was changed drastically. Towns full of closely-knit families were cut off from the rest of the world, and these rural communities ultimately had to adapt. Because the land could not readily provide them what they needed, nor were they connected to any trade routes, the people here eventually phased out of a material life, and many outright gave up a stationary one.


The center of the continent is too cold, or arid, or both to yield vast populations and more complex societies. Those that survived were people who could handle whittling life down to the bare essentials--food, shelter, and clothing. (And very basic clothing that could cover one in the cold) These conditions resulted in a hardier people, who had to be able fight nature on its own terms. Caste systems were largely unimportant, because there was very little wealth one could acquire. There are no noble families here.

The leadership of the tribe usually depends on if it's in a period of war or spirituality. Elders usually interpret and guide the faith of the tribe, and most political decisions are made with the sanction of these elders. However, a lot of the meat and potatoes of decision making will go to a chief. He will coordinate raids on villages, wars with rival clans, and where to head when greener pastures await. In theory, the chief will be the son of a previous chief, however since the entire adult male population usually makes up the army, and there is no class system, leadership is contested fairly often. Grooming one to be head of the tribe is not significantly different from the way others are brought up. All tribe members usually fight the same way, nor is there there an administration one needs to be educated to run. Thus, an ambitious warrior can stage a coup, or an incompetent chief can be overthrown, with little to no difference in how things were run before.

However, some chiefs quite like the idea of having their lines head the tribe for generations to come, and aspire to have dynasties like those in the west. Their sons will be educated in history, sciences, and more sophisticated means of warfare. This has certainly helped tribal leaders become more central authority figures, but elders bemoan the corruption of civilization is slowly eating away at their way of life. The Canadian Kingdom, Greater Texas and Iowa Territory are made up of lands that are slowly evolving from Tribalism to Feudalism, in large part because of tutored scions wishing to emulate the monarchs. Much like the Gauls, Vikings and Mongols before them, eventually the old ways give way to the new.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mercantile Republics

Much of Medieval America is warlike with towns raided, and maybe wiped off the map. In one corner, we see vast, despotic empires, in others marauding tribes, and in the bulk of the continent, a patchwork of feudal states. However, in the Northwest and Northeast coast, we see independent city states which are separate, but often share cultures, although they're very cosmopolitan overall. These cities are not ruled by commanders in chiefs, so as established town bylaws and a ruling class descended from merchants.

In most of Inland America, we see warriors fighting bitterly for territory. However, Warlords and War Chiefs are not the only ones to call the shots. There's also the growing merchant class; Those who deal in exotic goods, and make sure the nobles in one country have access to materials and delights they cannot procure in their own borders, or closely conquerable kingdoms. They tend to congregate in cities with large populations, because not only do the rustic farmers and shepherds provide a poor customer base, but a smaller labor pool means less artisans to specialize in goods to buy and sell. In most of America's kingdoms, the merchants are a valuable part of society, and can live the good life with influence and relative freedom, but ambition has a ceiling, and the governors can't be trusted. Thus, many might live a traveling life, or gather in the city states of the Northern coasts.

The Merchants are particularly suited here. Here, various bays, inlets, islands and sounds are ideal places to set up ports. The North and South have considerably different things to offer, and the Northeast and Northwest are perfect hubs to connect trade. It's also the result of being the location of former bustling metropolitan areas. Here, the municipalities are built to human scale. The interior of the continent is much newer, and the populace distributed after the age of mass transit like trains and planes. So when places like the Midwest and the deep south fell, communities could be taken over by warlords with little to answer to. However, in Cascadia and the Northeast, major cities and their suburbs are were tightly bound together. This means not everybody can be a farmer, and there's a larger pool to draw employment from.

It also helps that these places can headquarter the local religions. In the Northeast in particular, we see many headquarters for the Non-Denominational Church in proportion to populace. As a result, the Church brings it Republican bureaucracy to the populace. More public works and social services are implemented, and the populace is largely more educated. Many holy buildings can keep these places somewhat free from devastating attacks; While the leaders of city states may conquer each other, it's widely frowned upon to slaughter the local population or clergy. Because of this, many people feel relatively safer in the city states, leading to more people per capita, and denizens not being full-time fighters.

Many of these Mercantile City States are located in what were once known in Industrial America as "blue states". This no mere coincidence. The values of Red-Staters and Blue-Staters, North and South, Democrat and Republican, were unquestionably tied to the rural vs. urban dichotomy. Blue states had higher population density, and more cities. Therefore, they valued a strong bureaucracy, catering to a varied population, and a relationship between other countries. Red states tended to have their communities spread wide apart, and valued self-sufficiency, defense, and loyalty for local traditions.

This is not to say the Mercantile Republics are averse to war. On the contrary, many merchants will constantly war to expand their realms. It's simply that the leaders are not as trained in the martial arts as the feudal warlords. They delegate duties to career soldiers, and mostly weight in with tactical maneuvers. The city states' relationships with each other are different than the kingdoms and tribes found elsewhere on the continent. When nations in the Heartland, Deserts and plains war against each other, it's generally with the purpose of wiping the enemy out. However, the mercantile city states will usually share among themselves a similar culture like in New England, the Beltway and Vancouver Sound, and wars among themselves are something of a fierce rivalry.

Feudal States

As civilization fell into ruin, some were better defended than others. In the deserts, safely isolated governors were able to establish control of the population. On the coasts, a few established city states were able to take advantage of trade routes, and buy themselves out of any trouble. However, in much of the interior of the country, people were lost, confused, and very willing to fight among themselves. Not to mention the constant threats from Barbarians that stalked the frontiers. Only the strong had a chance in this world, and the weak clung to them.

Feudal States were forged out of these fires. Peasants till the fields for the Warlords, who in turn, protect the--even if that often means protection from them. The wide open spaces of the Midwest and Deep South, with fertile fields and longer growing seasons (If not both) were easily able to establish agrarian communities. Much of these kingdoms are therefore located in the Feudal Core, the Heartland of America. However, just outside the core are other very fertile territories like New York and New Jersey, which are smaller but still operate under the same agrarian fiefdom system. The distance between communities in America's interior also plays a big part. Warlords pretty much have carte blanche to run things as they see fit, and the only way to get rid of one if for another warlord to take him out and conquer his territory.

This is where the nature of Feudalism really comes into play. Maintaining swaths of land can be a full time job, so we begin to see delegation. Once a nation or lineage is established, the head of state will allot various counties to allies and vassals, who, depending on the size of the territory, further divide up land among his vassals. These men are generally allowed to do as they wish, just as long as they swear loyalty above. Most Warlords usually possess estates surrounded by villages, as well as a church. Pyramid mounds of earth are built to place the castle on top of. On the frontiers of civilization, especially large fortresses like Rock Island and Macon exist.

This system pretty much allows for little central government, as allies can become enemies, vassals can become usurpers, and devastating wars can be declared at the drop of a hat. As a result, the many different cultures of the feudal zone is constantly in flux. Borders change constantly, and dialects evolve into different languages. The only thing keeping the Feudal Core cohesive in any way is the American Non-Denominational Church. Much of the continuity of the East is found in the Church's documentation, interpretation, and communication between districts.

Though the relationship isn't always perfect, (On account of the Warlords' habit of slaughtering each other and making attempts at unity hard) the Kingdoms and the Church can often have a symbiotic relationship. The Church provides the warlords with bridges, hospitals, and the rather tedious things in life they can't or don't want to bother with. And in turn, the Warlords serve as protectors of the faith on the frontiers. The worry is constantly on the Barbarians that surround the Heartland, and as a result, we've seen the cultures bleed a little into each other. Thus, we see somewhat similar Feudal structures for Voodoo Louisiana, New Israelite Texas, and Catholic Quebec.

As America was built on a rejection of monarchies, feudal lords tend not to have European titles like "King" and "Duke", but "President" "Colonel" and "Governor". It was with these distinctions of American nobility, feudal lords were pretty much able to get away with acting like medieval rulers from pretty much any other country.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pacific Northwest

Much of the west pretty much doesn't bother with the rest of the continenet and pursues their own agendas. This is especially true in the Northwest of America. Tucked in between the Cascadian Mountains and the Pacific Oceans are a group of rival and independent city states like Seattle, Portland and Vancouver. Because most of the citizens are connected to coast or river, the climate is extremely mild, and the resources are bountiful, no particular community can assert dominance.

Like is counterpart, the United States of America, the Northwest city states are a very maritime and a trade-based culture. They're situated very well between mineral rich mountains and timber-heavy forests, and are a very convenient stop between the tundras of Alaska and the deserts of California. The major difference being that Cascadia is not a united empire. Cascadia also nothing to do with the Non-Denominational Church, its citizens are Buddhists.

Because the culture revolves around a harmonious balance with nature, some of the outlying villages and hamlets may build around the very tall trees that make up the temperate rainforests. Farms and a few other places are still located on the ground, but it's strategically advantageous to garrison troops on the the ground, and very few people have to worry about flooding caused by the area's constant rain.

In the region's prosperity and wealth though, the Northwesterners have become ambitious, and sought out to expand. The merchants will support this for the opportunity of trading rights, and to keep the more belligerent war-mongers out of their hair. The most successful attempt at expanding has been along the Columbia river, forging the new kingdom, the District of Columbia.