My question is inspired by this question

Infinite flat world

Basically instead of the Earth being a planet it is instead a small portion of an Alderson Disk. According to the writer Larry Niven "an Alderson disk would be a wonderful place to stage a Gothic or swords-and-sorcery novel."

Assume that for all intents and purposes climate and everything on "flat Earth" remains the same as on the planet Earth. However the Americas are located to the east of Asia, and to the west of Europe is a huge continent which is populated by fantasy races.

Assume that all of human history is the same until Columbus's voyage in 1492 where he lands just off the coast of this continent and finds that it is populated by fantasy races. These races are in fact just alternative humanoid evolutions, descended from Homo Erectus or Australopithecus. The three races are elves, dwarves, and orcs.

The elves are split up into multiple nations, having technological levels similar to Native Americans, ranging from the Carib tribes to Mayan civilization. However these elves also have some amount of light magic such as hypnosis, telepathy, mind control, remote viewing, telekinesis, and limited elemental bending.

The dwarves are also split up into multiple nations, having steampunk technological levels, going through an industrial revolution, but no magic. They mostly keep to themselves, living mainly in and around a network of natural caves and lava tubes containing rich mineral deposits. They have sophisticated railroad like transportations that goes under the ground through the lava tubes, and underground cities like Cappadocia but having elevators, electricity, water plumbing, and ventilation. Their main activities are mining, engineering, and trade.

The orcs are mostly united under a single empire, having technological levels similar to ancient Greece. The empire is highly militaristic, xenophobic, and religious fanatical, with an ideology similar to Nazi Germany. All non-orcs are considered as inferior races, therefore killing them and taking over their land is considered a virtuous deed. The orc empire has a greater territory and manpower than the Roman Empire, fighting a continental scale war on several fronts against the dwarves, elves, and rebel orcs. The empire also has internal social problems such as extreme corruption, conspiracy theories, extreme social inequality, brainwashing the citizens, and a heavy handed political police.

This is the "new world" which is discovered by Columbus and his men. My question is, how would Europeans react to the discovery of such a world, populated by humanoid races who are not strictly speaking Homo Sapiens? Would they be shocked, disbelief, or ridicule Columbus? How would the Spanish government react, and would they send conquistadors to help one of the factions in the war, and which faction would they join? Would they try to colonize this continent? What about other European countries and the Arabs or Ottomans?

  • $\begingroup$ For questions about third party intellectual properties, you should ask such questions over of SciFi & Fantasy. This forum exists to help you create your own fictional world, not satisfy your idle curiosity about other people's works! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 20:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas There are no "third party intellectual properties" here. It is a fictional world where "Earth" is just a small part of a nearly infinite flat world, populated by fantasy races and "aliens". The question concerns how would this affect the European age of exploration. $\endgroup$
    – Galaxy
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ Alright, then edit your question accordingly! It looks like you're asking about Missile Gap. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 20:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ VTC:Needs Details. This is a high concept question, it's too broad and opinion-based. Which Europeans? The English? French? Spanish? Italians? Portuguese? Germans? Dutch? They all dealt with the New World in fairly different ways, with individual motivations, and they are not the same people who think the same way at all. You've asked us to comment on all of them. Besides, why doesn't history answer your question? The more human-esque would be treated no differently than humans were and theothers would be killed as monsters. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 3:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @LiJun Fair enough! It sounds like we're in violent agreement. :-) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 6:30

3 Answers 3


Orcs=Aztecs, Dwarves=tech source:

It seems reasonable to anticipate that Spain would take the chance it did with the Aztecs and exploit the rivalries to invade the Orcish empire for a "holy crusade" and slaughter the orcs with their superior technology. The opportunity to conquer significant territory with a seemingly moral backing would be more than the Spaniards could possibly resist. If Earth history is any guide, after a few introductory visits, old-world diseases would likely be decimating the local populations, making the process easier.

I don't think the racial thing would be a huge issue, as the Europeans had already contemplated the existence of other intelligent species. Look up the Cynocephali who were reported by Columbus as being in the New World, and had been understood to have existed previously in India (even having ethical analysis by St. Augustine as to whether non-human intelligences would have souls). Of course, the supposed cannibalism of these species was used as justification to conquer them, but we treat humans this badly, so why not demi-humans?

The uncertainty comes in the form of steampunk dwarves. This would be more advanced technology than the Europeans, and every power would be desperate to beg, borrow or steal those advancements. The government that could would have a huge advantage in both colonization and conquest (or just fighting other continental powers). You'd have an early and ramped-up industrial revolution going on in Europe very quickly.


Much the way they did, kill, steal, colonise.

The things we now consider to be the fantasy races have very little in common with what the people of that time thought an elf looked like, and a dwarf is just a short person, so what? All you've done is present them with people who look different.

Their technology is inferior, kill them and steal everything.

  • $\begingroup$ It should be noted that although elves do have inferior technology, they also have magic. Dwarves have superior technology. And orcs have a racist totalitarian empire. $\endgroup$
    – Galaxy
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ Would Europeans even believe Columbus if he described that fantasy continent? Would they be shocked by people who look more different than different races of Homo Sapiens? Would they necessarily consider them more like supernatural creatures than flesh and blood people? $\endgroup$
    – Galaxy
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Galaxy, why would they not? They believed everything else $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Galaxy two things to remember, 49% of people are by necessity below the median, optimistically 5% have had a meaninful education at that point. The majority just believe whatever their betters tell them. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Galaxy during that period they literally have/believing map describing mythical creature from leviathan to unicorn even humanoid creature such as blemmye even marcopolo describe china with fantasy like element for example black stone that can burn which is a coal including paper money. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 23:44

In our world, there were, in fact, serious questions about whether the Americas were inhabited by humans, on the grounds whether it was really possible for us to come from a common ancestry.

This was treated an intellectual concern. In practical matters, both sides treated each other as humans -- sometimes well, often abominably. Steampunk dwarves and magical elves will be able, if anything, to be generally victorious. Assuming, of course, that they can't be infected with human diseases, which were the big problem.

(The Pope, in fact, issued a papal bull redefining human so that it would include those found in the Americas even without a common ancestry.)


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