Without the state lines to make it familiar, it doesn't look right. I'll explain what's going on above briefly: the lands are divided into two groups, the settlers from Europe and the natives. My world taking place in 1650, I tried to include predominant settlements made by Europeans by that date. The remainder is made up of tribal nations, approximately where those tribes dwelt in 1650, without the effort to nail down every single tribe or be profoundly detailed. Native tribal settlements reflect the same approximate locations as later European settlements ~ which, from my reading, is not far from the truth.
I researched about 520 cities and towns in the making of this map, on Wikipedia of course, as it is somewhat universal. Some readers who have already seen this map on the other blog were able to pick out their home towns. Those who have been reading my blog for 11 years must have wondered if the day would ever come.
I'm not going to talk more about the map; I have elsewhere and that's just repeating myself. I wanted to use it as a lead-in to another issue related to the time and the area. The predominant settlement is famously that of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in which a bunch of profoundly religious and entitled people hell-bent on punishing everyone not as good as themselves escaped from a culture that was hell-bent on stopping them from being pricks to everyone in England. The 1630s and 40s are a somewhat lurid time in American history, what with the hangings, the burnings and the witchcraft. Some will tell you it really wasn't all that bad, but any reading of the actual events will show that these dangerously pious settlers were quite willing to overreact in the extreme to rather banal infractions of the social code.
For D&D purposes, I'd like to bring out the case of Anne Hutchinson, Puritan spiritual advisor and nutjob in the true sense of the American breed. She's particularly interesting in that, while brought to trial and convicted, she was not executed but was instead exiled ~ most likely due to the popularity of her views and the threat those views gave to local ministers of Massachusetts. Once exiled, she went to the Providence Plantations in Rhode Island, where she was kicked out again because of Massachusetts' interest in expanding their political authority. Thereafter she settled in the modern day Bronx, the Dutch New Netherlands, beyond English authority ... where she would be slaughtered by the Siwanoy natives a year later.
Hutchinson vehemently disagreed with the Pilgrim fathers over their interpretation of God's word. She believed that the soul was saved by faith, not by good works, and her willingness to preach this very loudly ended in her being called a heretic and an instrument of the devil. Thus was the manner in which individuals fought over God's message and purpose, as they still do ... because, quite simply, no one can say absolutely what that is, because all we have are a mass of conflicting words that can be interpreted however one wishes. So it goes with founding ideas on make-believe.
Inside the D&D universe, however, religion is not based on make-believe. Religion is a real thing, based on real gods, who can show up and do on a regular basis, through spells, magical items and quests which, coincidentally, are pursued by "pilgrims." A god might not choose to speak ~ but apart from our own personal experience with gods in real Earth [in which gods don't actually exist, sorry] ~ there is no logical reason for a god to hide! The Anne Hutchinson problem can be solved in a finger snap by a number of means ... whereupon Anne is either acknowledged to be right or else she stands in the face of the god she's arguing wrongly on behalf of and says, "Oops, my bad." Or, continues to behave stubbornly and THE GOD kills her.
The resistance the reader may feel to this rational truth arises out of the cognitive dissonance that we've been trained to accept, in which a god, "obviously" existing according to more than half of the world's population, doesn't appear to sort out these issues for "reasons" and "the grand plan," or whatever other justification we have to make up. We're forced to make due with what we have; but a D&D framework and culture, not so much.
And this radically changes everything about the European Settlement in the New World. It has to.
Look, if we're going to talk about Christianity, either God believes that humans should be their brother's [and sister's] keeper or God believes that executing whomever the fuck we want for whatever fuck reasons we want is just fine and dandy. It isn't both. We accept both in this ridiculous world because, again, reasons, but a real god competing with an infinite number of other real gods is not going to hide his or her lamp under a bushel. If the Christian God won't make an appearance, it won't take long for any of a million Hindu gods to start showing up in Europe and crowding the dumb Christians out. "Sorry, you believe in a god that isn't here, that's letting your baby die? Oh, Sister, come on! I'm here now and ~ oh, look at that, your baby's fine. Tell me again, who do you believe in?"
If there's infighting between humans over religion, its because the gods want it that way ... and humans being a dumb as they are, the gods just have to wave something shiny in front of them and the swords come out followed by a lot of blood. In a D&D world, the Thirty Years War fought between the Catholics and the Protestants can only take place because a real God thought, "Hm, I have a reason to denude Europe of 8 million people in a violent way; this should work."
Most importantly, all this takes away the most commonly used excuse that people have for God's absence: that you have to accept his existence on faith. Well, no you don't. A little augury, a little divination, a little direct commune, a trip to the outer planes ... there ain't no faith, baby, there's hard evidence. So Anne Hutchinson's position isn't founded on her being more or less pious ~ it is entirely founded on whether or not she's willing to accept the direct word of the almighty.
That, I know, still won't be enough for people. And just to show you that I'm up on my theology, there is a story about a group of Jewish rabbis arguing over a point of Jewish law as written in the Torah. It goes that a rabbi, arguing alone, is so sure that he's right that he calls out to the heavens and says, "If I am right, may God make all the trees surrounding the temple bend down to the ground." And at once, the trees do. But the other rabbis are unmoved, and continue to argue, so the one rabbi says, "If I am right, may God announce his presence by entering the Temple itself," whereupon a great wind blows open the doors and windows of the Temple. And still the other rabbis are unmoved. So the one rabbi says, "If I am right, let God say that I'm right," and there is suddenly a great booming voice that says, "This Man Is Right." Whereupon the other rabbis tell God to shut up, because they have the word of God already, right in the text of the Torah, and that word is immutable, even from someone who might appear and sound like God.
For myself, I intend not to present my game's Massachusetts as anything like the real one of the mid 17th century, for the reasons I've given. I don't think it would make a good game, anyway. And I enjoy the notion of Europeans and Natives working together, helping each other to explore a continent that is very much empty, even if the native tribes have already founded small villages (and occasionally large settlements) in some of the land's rivers and valleys.
This, I believe, allows me to enjoy the high points of both cultures, while happily trashing the low points.
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