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In this case, a person from a world similar to ours, at a time and technology roughly equivalent to our 14th century, but with magic. Through some odd spell, this person was teleported far away from home. They think it is to a different region in his world, but rather it is a different world entirely, ours.

I want to know where in our world this traveler could arrive that would take them roughly a week to notice significant differences in technology. That means not in the middle of Beijing, but also not in the middle of the Amazon.

This person is from a world where magic is relatively common, think your generic D&D fantasy world. That means the average street light could be explained with magic, and maybe a car or plane, but not a lot of these. Not everyone had magic where they come from, so a lot of cars would make it clear. Large buildings would give it away, as would televisions or anything else shockingly different from their time.

The transportation itself is nearly instant, and will have no physical or mental effect on the traveler, other than bewildering them that their surroundings have changed suddenly. They do not know what is happening with the spell, so it is likely that they will take a few seconds to figure out what just happened, then proceed with normal behavior for one who finds themselves lost wherever it is they are.

The traveler is from a culture similar to Western Europe, but they expect the spell to have taken them to elsewhere in their world, so a different culture wouldn't necessarily give it away. They were an adventurer, so assume survival isn't an issue, as they will have supplies and survival experience.

I'd like to collect situations of the traveler interacting with people, and being on their own in the wilderness. (This is for a game with variable starts)

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    $\begingroup$ In an Amish camp. $\endgroup$ – EngelOfChipolata Sep 2 '16 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ Or an SCA event? $\endgroup$ – Seeds Sep 2 '16 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ There is a key issue here that you are not addressing: What do they do when they get here? Someone who sets out walking in direction <x> will hit technology much faster than someone who stays about where they arrived. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Sep 2 '16 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ If it weren't "for a week", I would throw that person at North Sentinel Island - there that person may be killed on sight by the local tribe... or may survive a few years without knowing that the world is beyond the stone age. $\endgroup$ – Theraot Sep 3 '16 at 1:00
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    $\begingroup$ Can you clarify why the middle of the Amazon is unacceptable, to eliminate other places similarly afflicted? Is it just that it'd take more than a week to notice? $\endgroup$ – WBT Sep 3 '16 at 17:21

12 Answers 12

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Pennsic, so long as your traveller doesn't make it up to the parking lot.

Pennsic is a two-week-long SCA event. It's not a re-enactor event where everything is correct down to the details; you'll see sneakers, nylon tents, plastic armor, and cell phones amidst the authentic clothing styles, pavilions, chainmail, and more. Without the magic angle nobody would be fooled for a minute, but with it, it sounds like you can dismiss smaller exposures of modern technology like you see there.

(A ubiquitous modern artifact is eyeglasses; these were actually invented in the 13th century, though they were not stylish and lacked earpieces. Your traveller might chalk that up to local variation, same as some of the sumptuary laws.)

The SCA covers a broad time range up until 1600. However, most of the clothing you'll see at Pennsic -- and clothing is one of the first things people will notice -- is earlier and would not be jarring to a 14th-century traveller. Given the weather, simple tunics (common for many centuries) are common during the day; in addition you'll see Viking, high-middle-ages, cotehardies, shirt/doublet/hose, chemise/skirt/bodice, and a fair bit of Italian-renaissance clothing. (For an overview of 14th-century clothing see this Wikipedia article.)

If your traveller goes to the battlefield he'll see people with a range of medieval armor and weapon styles competing in tournaments that will be not unfamiliar to one from the 14th century. He might wonder at the absence of horses, and about weapons of wood rather than blunted steel, but he'll know that the object isn't actually to kill people so I believe he'll consider it an acceptable variation.

Now as I said, not everything at Pennsic is historically accurate, nor is a single historic period represented. There are places within Pennsic where extra effort is made to stay in period, with nothing modern being visible or discussed unless absolutely necessary.

Pennsic is a large festival gathering people from many places near and far. Differences that we know to be from different times could be seen instead as coming from different places -- those people with that particular style of dress aren't from the 15th century (which hasn't been invented yet) but from a place called "Meridies". This is, in fact, how SCA participants who try to stay in persona explain a Tudor interacting with a Viking, for example.

If your traveller arrives several days after the start of the event, everything will be in full swing. And after a week of settling in, suddenly everybody will pack up and leave, which will start with processions of cars to camp sites to pack up. Your traveller will be forced into the modern world at that point.

Two caveats:

First, more than 10,000 people attend Pennsic. They have to get there somehow. There is a vast parking lot full of very modern cars. If you can arrange for your traveller to land down in the bog, under the trees down by the lake, he might find the parties attractive enough, and the climb up the hill to the parking lot onerous enough, to not go there.

Second, just about every year at some point, small planes or helicopters from a nearby army base buzz the camp. It usually only happens once or twice for a few minutes, so your traveller might marvel at the strange, magical, loud creatures of the sky.

But aside from that, the largest buildings on the site are two-story houses (and similar structures) and a barn. There is a convenience store with refrigerator sections, but no visible televisions.

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    $\begingroup$ "(Despite the name, Pennsic is not a "war". It's a festival. Nobody dies in the battles, by design.)" That's good to know. Wouldn't want to die while reenacting stuff. :) $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Sep 3 '16 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ Actually I would think that being transported to the more rural parts of China would work. While it's not like there is no modern technology, it's entirely possible that the person in question might not see a car for a week. Other than that, clothing, infrastructure and buildings while slightly more advanced could be passed off as different culture. $\endgroup$ – Skye Sep 4 '16 at 6:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Sky - Hey, make it a separate answer :) It does seem like a workable possibility, but perhaps not related to this answer - and if anyone else would like to see your reasoning, a comment might be easy to miss. $\endgroup$ – Megha Sep 4 '16 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Sky my experience (in 2008) is that you would see cell towers on the mountain peaks. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 4 '16 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio I think the cosmopolitan mix will help to hide true anachronisms. He will assume the unfamiliar shoes are from one of the many cultures in attendance, and bought by anyone. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 4 '16 at 13:07
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Somewhere in the Rockies, or the Canadian wilderness, about a week's hike from town (closer than a week straight-line distance to allow for some wandering) with enough sufficiently obvious natural resources that the traveler will be physically OK, and enough topology to get high enough for a view to know where some town/city is or (for fewer clues about advanced tech) at least to find moving water he can follow downstream to a town (helping with knowing which way to go).

Even if a rare overhead flight were noticed (through a break in the clouds, if needed), the traveler might assume it's a migratory bird or explainable through magic as noted in the question. "Flying metal tube with fixed wings containing hundreds of people" would likely not even be guessed at. However, if you wanted to avoid overhead flights, this question is for you.

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    $\begingroup$ I can say the same about Big Bend park in Texas. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 4 '16 at 11:25
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You may consider sending that person to the USNRQZ (United States National Radio Quiet Zone).

It should be noted that the USNRQZ would still seem to be the future for a person from the 14th century, but if we can explain some of the stuff with magic it may pass…

The area is mainly rural low residential scattered by forest and mountain. There are two arcane structures known as the Green Bank Telescope and the Sugar Grove U.S. Naval Radio Station, which is a restricted area for most people, except the wizards people that work there.

Green Bank Telescope

※: Green Bank Telescope, part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory

The area is devoid of any source of interference for the radio observatory such that cell phones, television, microwaves, etc.

So, people don't listen to radio, don't watch television, don't use cell phones. Telephone land lines are restricted; intead telephone booths are used. Any electronic device must be aproved for use in the area. Computers would be hard to come by. Some radio frequencies are allowed but only at low power.

There are cars, but only diesel engines are allowed, and there are no traffic problems. Also, with most people working at home means there is no commute. But you may spot tractors on daily use.

And of course, there is electricity, which is used mainly for illumination.


This is not as drastic as sending the person to an Amish community. Amish won’t use television, radio, computers, or telephones. They don’t own cars — buy may hire people who do. They don’t drive tractors for that matter. There is restricted access to electricity. Although there are battery powered calculators, flashlights, ventilators and similar appliances.

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    $\begingroup$ "telephone land lines are restricted" - misread as "telephone land mines", was confused $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Sep 3 '16 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ Even an Amish community would be technologically advanced for a person from the 14th century. And they could see airplanes in the sky. $\endgroup$ – vsz Sep 3 '16 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ @vsz right, updated. $\endgroup$ – Theraot Sep 3 '16 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ Very interesting. But Google Maps/Earth show the closest towns, inside the most restricted zone, is modern roads, buildings, houses. It is not a pre-industrial village. The diner doesn’t have wifi but is clearly a 20th century diner in a suburban strip mall. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 4 '16 at 11:24
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    $\begingroup$ Amish people use cell phones. Some of them have carpentry shops with table saws and such--but no electricity in the house. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Sep 4 '16 at 20:33
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Backwater provinces in Afghanistan, such as Helmand. It's a tribal, agrarian society that would be recognisable to Alexander the Great if he passed through again. There is very little technology, and even electricity has not fully permeated all the villages. Literacy is below 10%, and the figure of households with clean drinking water is similar.

Roads are unpaved, and vehicle traffic is a combination of donkey carts and motorcycles ('iron horses'?). Dwellings are mud/adobe compounds. Farming is done on family smallholdings by means of hand-cut irrigation ditches and ox ploughs, etc.

Mobile phones are used...2G/GSM-only style for the most part. Potentially explicable by magic, but also a possible hook for further technological discovery by your time-traveller.

There are quite a few firearms, however. Again, not necessarily a complete immersion-breaker; and the Taleban/ISIS vs Afghan authorities dynamic might create an interesting threat environment for your protagonist to navigate.

I'd keep him away from market towns, though, as these are considerably more modern.

Another possibility is to drop him in a Kuchi nomad camp in the same area: these guys travel in camel caravans along the Silk Road area in much the same fashion as they have done for centuries (with a couple of extra AK47s). They could even pass through one of the villages mentioned above, before winding up in a market town...

City_of_Now_Zad

Nomads_in_Badghis_Province

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I think the Amazon rainforest will be a good place. There are still native tribes that are quite isolated.

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    $\begingroup$ and the canopy would hide aircraft $\endgroup$ – RedOculus Sep 3 '16 at 0:02
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    $\begingroup$ -1 as the asker specifically lists the Amazon as not acceptable. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Sep 3 '16 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ @NexTerren The middle of the Amazon is not acceptable but that tribes are living not necessarily in the middle or deep in the rainforest. See survivalinternational.de/tribes/uncontacted-brazil. $\endgroup$ – BobbyPi Sep 3 '16 at 15:30
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An Amish community? Let's do the time warp agaaaaain!

Or inside a container on a container ship with some illegal immigrants. Which would be crazy if they woke up one day and some new guy was there.

Or on the vast estate of some eccentric rich dude who likes to kick it old school.

Or in a deep subway tunnel where some homeless people live. (Like the movie Dark Days.)

Or in an insane asylum or prison where the guards just don't give a f*ck who is in there. Or Guantanamo or some other military base where they will definitely keep him under lock and key for a little while.

Or Supai, Arizona. No cars! But probably satellite TV.

I think a lot of these would be easier to explain if he transported naked, a la Terminator.

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  • $\begingroup$ Definitely not an Amish community. Based on my limited understanding, they mostly eschew things that link them to the outside world, such as connecting to the electrical grid, or telephones. However, internal combustion engines are common, as are power tools. Many have day jobs where they use computers. $\endgroup$ – Scott Whitlock Nov 28 at 3:23
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You seem to be looking for situations where the traveler will encounter people, but not modern technology.

This essentially means you are looking for places away from civilization where the people, for some reason, do not have any modern items.

It is worth considering that many modern things don't look modern, and we also still use a lot of ancient technology. One rule of thumb you might use for your story is that anything with printed text or interchangeable parts would give away the modern era and fascinate your traveler.

In order to avoid modern technology completely, you will mostly need to think about people who choose not to use modern technology. These might include:

  • survivalists
  • historical reenactors
  • various religious societies or monasteries
  • uncontacted tribes
  • contacted tribes who have resisted change
  • shipwrecked people

Another possibility is contact with modern technology that is not obviously modern, or would take time to distinguish from magic. These might include:

  • an overgrown nuclear fallout zone
  • the Forbidden City in the middle of Beijing
  • Disney World
  • trapped in a construction site atop a skyscraper
  • special ops/recon training area
  • Montana
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A third world remote island

I lived one year in this kind of place (more exactly, there)

Of course, there was some technology, but every boat and most housesare made of wood (little concrete, no metal, except for the roof) and there were no electricity or hand phone (it arrived since)
No car or motorbike as the village are to small and are connected by the sea, not by roads.
See recent photo below

No much tourist or visitor from mainland either.

The obvious technology in this exact place would be

  • motors (no sail boat anymore)
  • Plastic (as wrapping, cool-box or fuel barrel)
  • printed cloth
  • glasses
  • metallic roof

There is also a dead giveaway : ice (for the fishes).
But the village I've been in was importing about one ton each day, at 8am from a bigger village, quickly pack the ice and fish in the cool boxes then ship it a soon as possible. So you can not notice this for a while. Ujung Sialit Ujung Sialit

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  • $\begingroup$ The presence of large quantities of ice is easily explained as magical -- I imagine that in a 14th century world with access to magic, wandering wizards may well pay their way by supplying large quantities of it to the towns they visit, as its a commodity that is probably quite easy to create and which people can easily recognize the value of. $\endgroup$ – Periata Breatta Sep 5 '16 at 7:16
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Hudson Bay. Very low population density. Few overhead flights. slow and difficult terrain to traverse.

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  • $\begingroup$ But the population that is there uses satellite phones, radios, cell phones, travels on snowmobiles, and carry modern rifles. Also, you underestimate the number of overhead flights. Seeing jet contrails is perfectly ordinary. And during the summer there will be helicopters and bush planes flying all over the place. You might go a short while without seeing something modern, but not very long. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison May 1 at 17:42
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If you really want to be on the safe side, and places like the poles, deep forests and caves are ruled out, then I'd say that it's impossible.

Because if we assume that you can neither know nor control the weather, then if that traveler is paying close attention to its surroundings then the ISS or one of the many visible satellites will give it away pretty soon.

Coming from a place and time roughly like our 14th century, that traveler (being a traveler... and probably with some naval experiences) will surely know that it's possible to use stars to determine one's location. Moving stars is surely nothing that's easily done with magic.

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    $\begingroup$ I was using the word traveler mostly because I don't know this person's gender and that was an apt description, but you raise a good point about moving stars. The only reason I ruled out caves and forests is because with some places it would take the traveler a very long time to find evidence of a different world, something that would be pretty boring. $\endgroup$ – kirkpatt Sep 3 '16 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ I think some variation in stars could be accounted for by magic. Plus, different hemispheres see different stars $\endgroup$ – Assimilater Sep 15 '16 at 23:06
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    $\begingroup$ Falling meteors and comets were always associated with mystical phenomenas. I've seen a low altitude satelite as a kid and wouldn't have guessed its nature unless I knew they existed. $\endgroup$ – Nick Dzink Dec 10 '17 at 22:42
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You said "not Amazon" but I am guessing you were assuming it would take too long to find modernity. I spent a week about two hours upstream by boat from Mazan, Peru. An occasional boat went by, but if your traveler had landed near us and followed the bank to Mazan it could take him quite some time to get to Mazan. Along the way, he would encounter five to ten houses with no electricity and maybe one or two with solar power. Water is rain water or river water run through filters.

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Yosemite

Or some other large outdoor recreational area that limits vehicle traffic.

enter image description here The buildings and surrounds are different but still wood and stone, with no skyscrapers.

enter image description here

There are trails for walking and some basic roads. Nothing too techy.

enter image description here

There are electric lights, voices louder than than they ought to be (loudspeakers), odd ringing noises (phones), and some magical horseless carriages.

People are dressed strangely and sometimes consult magical orbs in their packs.

Most people who stay overnight are in tents or cabins. Others are at the Lodge. While there are toilets and running water indoors for handwashing and bathing, it's not inconceivable that another culture (plus some magic) could create these things. After all the Roman Empire had running water.

Please note that am including more modern tells than most of the other posters because I think it will work. Someone exposed to magic might think teleportation is possible. Then, experiencing it, will figure out that's what happened.

Time travel was not something in the popular culture in medieval times and the traveler almost certainly wouldn't even consider it.

Every oddness the traveler encounters would register as different place. It is completely normal for different cultures to vary in technology and there was enough travel and storytelling in medieval times that people would generally know this. Even fantastic beasts were known of.

A week to figure out that this is a different time not just a different place sounds about right. Particularly as the visitor gets to know the contemporaries. Even more so after they discover a tourist that speaks their European language (or some approximation of it).

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