Fantasy Counterpart Culture
aka: Call A German A Smeerp
"What is this 'Japan' you speak of? I have never heard of it before."
It is difficult to be truly original when creating fiction, and even if one manages to pull it off, one runs the risk of putting off the audience by having one's creation seem too
strange. Much safer, then, to make your setting contain human cultures that are take-offs of real ones.
This is especially common in fantasy
settings, but by no means exclusive to it. It's often found in satire, as a means of indirectly poking fun at the culture in question. In such cases the countries may have significant names
. This is why fantasy counterpart cultures can be full of Unfortunate Implications
There are also sound literary reasons for using this trope. Making the Shire an idealized England transplanted to Middle-Earth
makes it easier for readers to identify with the point of view characters, since they probably have much more in common with Bilbo than with Thorin. Guy Gavriel Kay
's The Lions of Al-Rassan
is a thinly disguised historical novel, but changing the names of the countries and religions means the readers don't know how the story will end, helping to maintain dramatic tension.
Creating a completely new culture from scratch can be a daunting task. Thinking about everything the word culture encompasses - music
, and combative traditions
, to name a few - can make one a bit more forgiving of such an artistic choice. It's also more easily justified in works containing humans: the Real Life
counterparts of the fictional cultures have all actually come into existence and are the results of real groups of people coming together to build something over time. Basing a new society on one that's already had a turn at some point in human history can both help the audience relate and provide a creative framework to twist and turn said society into an interesting variant of its former self. This approach still has its risks, though - many Fantasy Counterpart Cultures are based on The Theme Park Version
of a particular region of the world, lacking both depth and originality. (See Hollywood Atlas
Compare with Istanbul Not Constantinople
, when a real place is referred to with a more archaic or obscure name (e.g. "Columbia" instead of "USA"). Compare also with Days of Future Past
, where a futuristic society duplicates (often explicitly and intentionally
) the culture and styles of a historical period. Compare with No Communities Were Harmed
, which is this applied to a locality.
See also Culture Chop Suey
, Space Romans
(and the more offensive version, Space Jews
). Medieval European Fantasy
are frequently-occurring specific types of fantasy counterpart culture.
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Anime & Manga
- In One Piece, the island nation of Wa-no-Kuni is very clearly this for feudal Japan, what with its isolationism and its samurai. ("Wa-no-kuni" is in fact an old way to refer to Japan.) Further on, the Shandians are pretty clear analogues for disenfranchised and displaced Native American populations, Alabasta is a fairly obvious portrayal of Ancient Egypt (with additional Middle Eastern influencing) and Dressrosa looks like a combination of Spain and the Island of Misfit Toys.
- Roshtaria and the other human lands of El-Hazard: The Magnificent World are very clearly fantasy stand-ins for the Middle East of the Arabian Nights.
- Hatsu from Tower of God is so obviously Japanese that it hurts.
- The country of Amestris in Fullmetal Alchemist is based on a combination of European countries. It's ruled by a military dictatorship similar to Nazi Germany, but they speak English, and the military ranks are also English based (with the rank of Field Marshall replaced with the rank of Fuhrer). Character names are based on names found in various European nations such as the U.K and France. Also the technology used is the same or similar to the technology found around World War II.
- Xing is the counterpart of the East Asian countries, most prominently China, though Fu and Lan Fan have obviously ninja-influenced fighting styles and weaponry and Ling wears sarashi so there's a little bit of Japan in there too. Ishbal is perhaps the counterpart of the Western Asian countries.
- Additionally, Drachma is the counterpart to Russia, Xerxes seems to represent a mix of ancient European and Near-East civilizations, most predominately Greece, Persia, and maybe Rome, and the Japanese-exclusive Brotherhood/Mangaverse games seems to suggest that Aerugo is FMA's version of Italy.
- In the 2003 anime version only, we find out this is literal, as Amestris is an actual Alternate Universe version of central/eastern Europe in the 1920s.
- Paninya, Jerso, Focker, and an unnamed Central Library employee (anime only) are all black, implying that there's likely an Alternate Universe equivalent of the African continent as well.
- Judging by the name, Sciezka/Sheska could be from a FMA counterpart of Poland.
- Many of the nations in Kyou Kara Maou are vague approximations of Real Life nations, with Makoku being Medieval Europe and Konanshia-Subererea being the Middle East, among others. One of the most obvious is the Shildkraut nation. We are originally led to believe it's a parallel to Japanese hot spring towns, but then it's then used for a Viva Las Vegas episode, right down to the lights being recreated with magical stones.
- In Mai-Otome, set in the distant future on another planet, there are some more or less evident matches between fictional and real nations, at least judging by the names of known inhabitants. Artai seems to be an Eastern European/Slavic/Chinese nation, Florince is France, the United Kingdom of Lutesia is a blend of ancient Rome and modern Italy, Aries is the United States, Annam is Vietnam, and Zipang is Japan (in fact, for the last two, those are real-world, if ancient, monikers for these countries).
- Altai is named after a region that's adjacent to China, Russia and West Asia.
- Strike Witches is very guilty of this, considering it's set in an alternate version of Earth during World War II. Based on the names of various characters, the Fuso Empire is Japan, Liberion is the United States, Karlsland is Germany (minus Those Wacky Nazis), Suomus is Finland, Orussia is Russia, Romagna is Italy, Gallia (no not that one--or that one) is France, and Britannia (not that one either) goes without saying. References are also made to Real Life locations, such as London, Yokosuka, and the Ural Mountains. Some of the Real Life currencies also carry over: While stationed in Britannia, the main character is paid in pounds, and Fuso's currency is the yen.
- Some of the countries in Utawarerumono apparently takes place in real places in Japan. The protagonist's country is based on feudal Ezo (that's Hokkaido) with the people emulating Ainu culture but the most blatant one would be Shikeripetim which looks like a carbon copy of feudal Kyoto!
- Zero no Tsukaima takes place in a suspiciously medieval European setting. Based on the names (which are simply archaic names for the nations they represent), Tristain is Belgium or the Netherlands, Albion is Britain (complete with a rebel leader named Cromwell), Gallia is France, Romalia is Italy, and Germania is (obviously) Germany.
- This is a little more complex. Halkeginia (Zero no Tsukaima Europe counterpart) is loosely based on seventeenth century Europe: the Kingdom of Gallia is the Kingdom of France with some Spain in it, the Kingdom/Holy Republic of Albion are respectively the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Republic (with some Germany in it), the Holy Empire of Romania is the Papal States (other parts of modern Italy don't have equivalents), the Empire of Germania is a combination of Germany, seventeenth century Austria and seventeenth century Poland, the Kingdom of Tristain is the Netherlands with some France in it, the Grand Duchy of Grudenholf is Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (and, as seventeenth century Luxembourg is under Austrian Netherlands rule, is under Tristain rule). There is also an unnamed state which could be Spain or Portugal. Outside of Halkeginia, there is also elfans' states like Sahara (Ottoman Empire) or humans' like Rub Al'khali (probably the Emirate of Diriyah).
- Shaman King: Patch and Seminoa sounded a lot like Apache and Seminole. But the similarity is only linguistic. Not to mention the fact that the Big Bad has the name Hao, which is strangely similar to "How" (the stereotypical greeting used by the natives of North American in fiction).
- There is a major case going on in Maiden Rose where half the countries aren't named but are easily culturally identifiable. Klaus comes from a small German state that was conquered by the Western Alliance superstate, also primarily German. This superstate is fighting the Eurotean superstate, which has pre-revolution Russia as the dominant culture. Eurote in turn subdued Taki's country, an unquestionable Japan analogue. If it weren't for the Magical Realism the story would probably be an outright Alternate History.
- Seirei no Moribito takes place in an Alternate Earth with an Alternate Ancient Far East.
- 2 of the 3 invading countries in the second season of Magic Knight Rayearth are clearly based off of Earth cultures. Fahren is mostly based off of Chinese culture and stereotypes, although it does have a few Japanese things (such as ninjas). This is explicitly lampshaded by Fuu. Chizeta's culture seems to be based off of Middle-Eastern and Indian cultures, and the princesses fight using Djinn. However, they also have Osakan accents. Autozam's highly technological culture, while not as clear cut as Chizeta or Fahren, has a few parallels with the United States of America: the President's son is named Eagle Vision, the military has green berets, strongest of the three superpowers, and so on.
- Shinka in Flower Flower is a counterpart to India.
- The titular state in Saiunkoku Monogatari is a fantasy counterpart of Imperial China, especially that of the Tang and Song Dynasties.
- The Vagan civilians in Mobile Suit Gundam Age dress and build in very Middle-Eastern style, while their soldiers and upper class dress in Space Clothes and feudal Japanese styles.
- In the Universal Century, the different forms of Zeon all have an aesthetic based predominantly on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The Federation in general is a mix of the US with the uniforms and rank insignias of the Imperial Japanese Army. The Zanscare Empire meanwhile seems to be both the Ancien Regime and Revolutionary France IN SPACE.
- Berserk: Midland is medieval Denmark, Kushan is a combination of India and the middle east, and Chuder/Tudor is most likely based on France.
- The six countries in Saber Marionette J are based on the countries their founders came from. Japoness is based on feudal-era Japan, Xian is based on Imperial China, Romana is like a mix of Roman and Renaissance Italy, Peterburg is a mix of Czarist and Soviet Russia, Gartland is Nazi Germany, and New Texas is based on modern-day United States.
- Nihon-koku in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle is quite obviously a mixture of a magical and historical version of our Japan. It's actually noted upon in-universe when the gang arrives at Ichihara Yuuko's shop for the first time and she tells Kurogane that her Japan is his Japan too, just a different version of it.
- For the Evillious Chronicles franchise, all of the setting is inspired by real world countries and their cultures. It takes place on the fictional continent of Bolganio, which is overall Eurasia, with the titular region of Evillious being Europe. In Evillious, the country of Lucifenia is France, Elphegort is Germany, Marlon is Great Britain (with a country that's absorbed into it, Lioness, as Ireland,) Asmodean is the Arabian Peninsula (with Eastern European elements), Beelzenia is Italy/Spain, Levianta is Russia, and at one time there is the Tasan Empire which parallels Ancient Rome with Beelzenia. Some of these countries later form the Union State of Evillious, representing the modern European Union, and on the Eastern side of the continent in a Japan parallel. Off the continent is Maistia, which parallels the Americas.
- In Knights Of Sidonia, Sidonia is basically Japan IN SPACE!!!
- In Beyond The Western Deep, each of the Funny Animal nations have at least identifiable cultural analogues in the real world, if not particularly evident due to the species based trappings: Sungrove is obviously regular medieval Europe (with Tamian mythology have Native American-esque aspects, and the Lutren having polynesian traits), the Felis are by creator admission based on both the Roman Empire and medieval China, the Canids resemble both the Roman Empire and medieval northern Europe, the Ermehn resemble Germanic peoples (and bear a passing aesthetic similarlity to scottsmen), the Vulpin are clearly Arabic and the Polcan look like stereotypical pirates, but overall can be more easily compared to Sea Peoples.
- The people of Gemworld in Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld are a mix of medieval European cultures.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog comic's planet Mobius has long had stand-in cultures for Asia and Australia... but this was finally justified by the revelation that Mobius is actually Earth of the far, far future.
- Boneville in Bone is clearly a cartoon version of the United States of America.
- Angor (a.k.a. Earth 8) from DC comics is very similar to the real world but with a few superficial differences. Doubles as an obvious pastiche of Marvel comics, as its populated with analogues of the Avengers/Ultimates and villains like Dr. Doom.
- Given Frank Miller's outspoken views on the War on Terror a number of critics suggested that the Spartans and Persian Empire in 300 represent the USA and Middle Eastern terrorists respectively, in a strange example of real (albeit very fictionalised versions of) historical cultures acting as allegories for modern ones.
- Tarandroland in Under The Northern Lights is a mix of modern and medieval Scandinavia. The nomadic "Grazer" reindeer are obviously a counterpart to the Sami people, though with much more power and influence. Unlike modern Scandinavia, Tarandroland is pretty much a third world country, however. There are other examples: "camel sultanates" and ki-rin ruled by a "Mikado" are mentioned, and Equestria is treated as similar to USA.
- In addition to what listed bellow, this Transplanted Character Fic / Intercontinuity Crossover of Ace Combat and Infinite Stratos made it so that North Point is the equivalent of Modern Japan.
- The griffon tribes in Heart Of Gold Feathers Of Steel are essentially Germanic barbarians.
- The Crystal Empire in Corruption At Nightfall is basically a Ponified version of the Byzantine Empire.
- The Demon Empire from Sonic X: Dark Chaos is basically a science fiction Roman Empire as run by The Legions of Hell. On the other side, the Emirate of Mecca is pretty much a far more brutal version of the Rashidun Caliphate with a bit of modern ISIS tacked on.
- Although it's not shown in-story, Sonya's unnamed homeland is described as a version Warring States-era Japan, except with the warrior culture of the Vikings.
Films — Live-Action
- The Star Wars films contain a few:
- The forest moon of Endor is, to some extent, an equivalent of Darkest Africa in a galaxy far, far away. And the Ewoks are very, very similar to African pygmy tribes.
- Some fantasy counterpart cultures verge on Space Jews territory:
- Tuskens resemble Bedouins, but were inspired by the way Native Americans are portrayed in old Westerns.
- Neimoidians have been accused of representing Asian cultures and Yellow Peril stereotypes.
- The Empire is basically Space Romans and A Nazi by Any Other Name, complete with The Queen's Latin.
- Most of the design of the Telmarine on The Film of the Book of Prince Caspian are admitted to be based on Medieval Spain. Bringing some criticism and implications...
- Which kinda makes sense, seeing as Prince Caspian was apparently an allegory for the Protestant Reformation and subsequent conflicts. One illustrator for the books gave Miraz a shield with the Holy Roman Empire's two-headed eagle.
- And the Telmarines are descended from old naval era brigands. But remember, the good Narnian humans of the subsequent books are Telmarines, not to mention Caspian himself. Only this one movie would feature Telmarine antagonists, and apparently the common people backed Caspian over Miraz given the parade at the end.
- In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the clothes, architecture and cultures were clearly inspired by Real Life historical cultures just as in the book. However, the book's descriptions generally indicate a consistent Dark Ages or Early Middle Ages feel except for the Shire, while the movies mixed that with the High and Late Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance periods.
- Rohan is reminiscent of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. An invented scene features a song in the Old English language.
- The Literary Agent Hypothesis version is that Tolkien "translated" the names of both people and places in Rohan into Old English, so making the place look Old English and throwing in an Old English song isn't much of a stretch.
- Gondor is reminiscent of the Byzantine Roman Empire as well as Late Medieval Western Europe in general.
- The Shire is reminiscent of an idealized rural England, and also has a lot of Irish elements, particularly their dance and music. There is a lot of crossover between old English and Irish dance/music. Tolkien used familiar stereotypes of English yokels, but Hollywood comic peasants are always Scotirish, hence the mixture. And hence Merry and Pippin's respective Irish and Scottish accents although they are Frodo's cousins (and although most of the Shire, including Sam, use the generic country accent known to English actors as "Mummerset.")
- The Dale, in his version of The Hobbit, appears to be modeled on Russia or Hungary.
- In the book it seems more like the really old Russia (that is, medieval princedoms of Novgorod and Kiev) and Dalemen are explicitly said to be ethnic cousins of Rohirrim, just as both the Russ (viking Russians) and the Goths were Germanic. Esgaroth, for instance, is a freshwater port, just like Novgorad and it's people are known for their commerce along the river.
- The Dwarves are largely based on Jewish culture, and Elves on Scandinavians.
- In The Battle of Five Armies, on the other hand, the Ironfoot dwarves have a Roman theme going for them. Their leader wears a helmet with a centurion-style crest and they fight in the turtle formation.
- The 2007 Canadian Sci-Fi Short Food For The Gods featured a majority Asian cast playing a tribe situated on a distant planet similar to Native Americans as well as being rich in Asian themes, including a backstory referencing prehistoric Japan, and a fictional subtitled language that is loosely derived from Japanese and other Asian language influences.
- Joe Abercrombie's The First Law has a huge country called The Union, which rather resembles the Roman Empire. Much of the action takes place in the province of Angland, where the characters fight against the Celt-based Northmen.
- The Union is more late medieval Europe than Roman. The Old Empire however blatantly resembles the Roman Empire. Even down to names and architecture.
- Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant: the Earth nations have colonized the Solar System - North and South Jupiter were colonised by N/S America respectively; Mars = Arabs; Saturn = Asia; Uranus = Europe etc. They develop Hyperspace travel and plan to colonize the Galaxy by constellations: USA get the Eagle, Russia gets the Bear, China gets the Dragon.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion universe does this: Chalion, Ibra, and Brajar make up the analogue of the Iberian peninsula, Darthaca is France, the Weald is the Holy Roman Empire (and used to be Gaul, or at least somewhere with Celts), and Roknar plays the role of North Africa (despite being an archipelago). To conceal this slightly, everything is set in the Southern hemisphere, with all the geography flipped north-for-south. Bujold even manages to have the Roknari's religion differ from that of the Chalionese despite this being a world with Physical Gods.
- Well it's a heresy actually, although from the Roknari's point of view it's the other way around. The Roknari are actually more like traditional Christians in that the Bastard is their Satan while the other nations see him as performing a useful purpose.
- The Kushiels Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey features Terre d'Ange, which is France down to the language, and various other parallels - in one particularly egregious example, the Venice-counterpart is named "La Serinissima", a nickname by which the real city is sometimes called.
- In David Eddings's Belgariad, the Sendars are rural Englishmen - the mongrel country (as by late medieval standards Celtic/Saxon/Scotti/Danish/Norman England was), the Arends are Norman French, the Tolnedrans are Imperial Romans, the Chereks are Vikings, the Algars are Cossacks, the tunnel-dwelling Ulgos are Ambiguously Jewish, maybe (though their god UL is apparently based on the pre-Muslim Turkish creator-god Ulgen, whose mythos is also where Eddings got the whole "saying 'be not' ends your own existence" schtick), the Nyissans are vaguely Egyptian or perhaps Indian, and the Angaraks are the "Hunnish-Mongolian-Muslim-Visigoths Barbarian Tribes out to convert the world by sword". Since Eddings tends to recycle his cultures whenever he creates a new world, most of the countries in his universes likely have such parallels— the Elenium series has very familiar western kingdoms and eastern empire, if anything even more like The Theme Park Version of certain Earth cultures. The inhabitants of the main continent in the Dreamers series are obvious stand-ins for various Native American tribes.
- Also, Drasnians are north Italians who live by gambit and counter-gambit (for a time in history, most Genoese merchants were also employed by the city's intelligence service); the Algars are "sea-of-grass" nomads, something in between Apaches or Mongols; Rivans are perhaps English whose character has been harshened by a couple centuries of never leaving Iceland. Nyissa's whole existence is centered around
the Nile its jungle-iffic river. Angaraks are more complex than mere "take by the sword" barbarians: Murgos are an exaggeration (?) of the most militaristic periods of Japan; Malloreans are the innumerable people in the east - Chinese; Thulls are Slavs, forever exploited; Nadraks are Arabs who live in... Finland? And yeah, Ulgos are the Jews.
- The Nadraks are definitely Russian. They don't seem truly Asian like many of their fellow Angaraks, yet they don't fit into the West either. They seem to bridge the gap between the two sides, much as Russia was portrayed as prior to the Revolution. They have a culture that is focused on gold hunting and fur trading and is heavily influenced by alcohol. They live in a mostly unexplored, heavily forested wilderness with little civilization outside of the cities, like Siberia. The Morindim that live out there are similar to the pagans of medieval Russia. They're also hinted to be perpetually in a clandestine espionage war with the Drasnians and the rest of the West. Furthermore, the Murgos seem more based on Western medieval stereotypes of Turks rather than Japanese.
- Considering that Word of God states that the Ulgos are based off the Jews in the Rivan Codex, I'd say that the Ulgos are Unambiguously Jewish.
- More precisely, the Arends are split into three subgroups: the Mimbrates (think Norman English), the Asturians (think Robin Hood styled Saxons) and the Wacites (think Celts).
- My interpretation was that the Arends were German: their geography is defined by massive central forests, their local barons tend toward total autonomy because for their entire history they were divided in civil wars.
- The Melcene Empire in Mallorea has a few parallels to Persia as well as China, and appropriately they have invented both gunpowder and elephant cavalry.
- According to Word of God, Eddings deliberately avoided this when creating the Nyissans, beyond some superficial Ancient Egyptian aesthetics, to create a culture that would seem totally alien to the reader as well as the main characters.
- David Eddings' next work, the Elenium and the following Tamuli, had the same kind of counterparts in slightly different measures. Most of the characters are Elenes, who are based after different ethnicities and periods of Europe: the Elenians are probably English with their queen, the Thalesians with their cold climate and horned helmets are Scandinavians, the Arcians with their feudalism, castle-building and extreme piety are your generic medieval Europeans, the Peloi are martial nomads like the Huns and similar barbarians, etc. The Elenes are united under a central Church which is clearly based on Catholicism.
From here it gets insulting, however, with large dollops of Unfortunate Implications: the Styrics are equivalent in many ways to the Jews, being without a homeland, largely mystic, and deeply mistrusted by their neighbors. They are also regarded universally as simple and unsophisticated, even by their own leaders. Similarly the Rendors, desert-dwellers, are an obvious take on Arabs, and their religious separatist movement known as the "Eshandist Heresy", a clear parallel to Islam, is viewed with utter condemnation by all of the main characters. Moreover, the Rendors are repeatedly cited as stupid and credulous, and their religious leaders as selfish and senile madmen.
- It should be noted that much of the stereotypes of the Styrics in the western lands that the Elenium takes place in are purposefully propagated by the Styrics themselves. When the characters visit the Tamul Empire, they find that the Styrics have a homeland, a capital city, and a vibrant culture.
- Teresa Edgerton's Goblin Moon and The Gnome's Engine do this intentionally, being set in a 'Euterpe' that's a close fit to 18th century Europe, and incorporating such parallel nationalities as 'Spagnards', 'Imbrians', and 'Nordics'.
- Raymond E Feist's The Riftwar Cycle is set in an almost-England kingdom that's conquered and brought civilization to the majority of almost-Europe, although they occasionally have trouble with their almost-African desert-people neighbors to the south, and the Greek/Roman hybrid nation of Queg. (The almost-Africans are ruled by a "master race" caste whose parallels to the Egyptian dynasties are too blatant to miss.) The titular Riftwar involves an invasion across space-time by a warrior race of almost-Oriental people who the author says are based on the Japanese and Korean cultures, called the Tsurani. Other notable cultures are the somewhat Italian Kingdom of Roldem and the Hillmen, who are basically Scottish Highlanders with a vaguely Buddhist religion. Later books introduce analogues to Chinese and Native American cultures (if Native Americans were Aryan), among others...
- Feist's take on the moredhel - dark elves - is quite consciously Native American - tribal, shamanistic, and resentful of humans for what they (with good reason, considering their life spans) see as aggressive occupation of lands that are rightfully theirs. With the human tendency to breed like rabbits and thus their advantage of numbers, pretty much the only reason the border to the Northlands remains where it is now is that the lands the moredhel now occupy are too cold and barren for humans to even want them.
- The Fremen from Dune are pretty obviously based on the Bedouins (and on a lesser extent, the Bushmen) while Caladan has a strong Greek/Spaniard flavor (the Atreides bloodline is supposedly descended from Agamemnon). The Fremen are descended from Arabs, but ironically their wanderings before arriving on Arrakis resemble the Jewish Diaspora (of course, the same could be said about the Palestinians, so it's not too far off...). The political system of the Galactic Empire itself is pretty strongly modeled on that of the Holy Roman Empire, with Persian, Byzantine and Ottoman influences mixed in. The backstory for the novels makes it clear that many core elements of these cultures have been preserved across dozens of centuries, and even justifies this by attributing it to Genetic Memory.
- The Fremen religion is a cross between Islam and Buddhism. The name "Zensunni" is used a lot. Also, the Orange Catholic Bible - clearly, radical Protestantism and Catholicism have merged.
- The prequel Butlerian Jihad books make it clear that the Agamemnon from whom the Atreides line descends was NOT the historic Agamemnon, but rather a fictional future-cyborg-warlord of the same name. Don't think it's explicitly stated anywhere that this Agamemnon is himself descended from the historic one. Of course, as the prequels were written by Frank Herbert's son, this interpretation may diverge from what the original author intended.
- The titular culture of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath has a LOT of Jewish parallels, being the Chosen People of a very strict God who have Temples and Books of Law; furthermore, they're exiles and nomads. Their religion emphasizes obedience to the Law over faith, and their God isn't all that nice. A number of Kencyr have Hebrew-influenced names, the protagonist among them (Jamethiel, with the Hebrew -el "of God" ending). Aspects of their culture, though, have other influences; their honor code and ritual suicide traditions, and martial arts have some Japanese parallels, while the segregation and hiding behind masks of Highborn women draws comparison to Islam.
- Robert E. Howard's stories about Conan the Barbarian, where the countries of the Hyborian Age are transparent stand-ins for real-world nations or peoples. Examples include Stygia as a stand-in for Egypt, Shem as Israel, Aquilonia as Imperial Rome, and Iranistan as... well, guess. (Note, however, that these are supposedly nations that existed in the history of our own Earth, pre-continental drift theory and pre-mass migrational theory, so the similarities to the civilizations that they would eventually evolve into is doubtlessly intentional.) His favorite grey-eyed morose heroes are all supposed to be ancestors of modern Celts. A folk etymology for Cymru (Wales) is attributed to the Cimmerians (Conan's people) while the name Conan is Irish.
- If you look at the map of the Hyborian Age◊, this becomes even more obvious. Aquilonia is about where France is, Cimmeria is where Scotland will someday be etc. Howard in fact wrote a history in which the beginning of modern European and Middle Eastern races are set out.
- Diana Wynne Jones's own compendium of fantasy tropes and skewering thereof, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, makes this point.
- There are several good examples in The Reynard Cycle:
- Arcasia is clearly inspired by France of the late Middle Ages, though it appears to be one that was built on top of an Expy of mythological Greece. The naming conventions reflect this (Count Bricemer is married to the Countess Pucelle, and their son's name is Acteon). Oddly, the people of Arcasia are generally depicted as being Ambiguously Brown, rather than Gallic.
- Calvaria is a feared northern country that appears to be a fairly even mixture of ancient Sparta, the Roman Empire, and Scandinavia. Needless to say, many of its citizens are Proud Warrior Race Guys (Gals as well.) It's worth mentioning that it is the only country depicted as being populated by caucasians.
- Solothurn is inspired by Slavic culture and mythology.
- Mandross, a neutral country protected by mountains with a reputation for providing mercenaries is an Expy of Switzerland.
- Glycon, a theocracy that fields slave soldiers, bears some similarity to the Egyptian Mamluk Sultunate. With dragons.
- Also, given their monotheistic fanaticism and penchant for torture, Spain during the Inquisition.
- Tyris is a distant tropical continent that is currently being colonized by the Glyconese, who are enslaving its tribal inhabitants and forcing them to labor in plantations and mines. Sound familiar?
- Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time does this a lot, with a mix-and-match approach. Cairhien seems to be a mix of Ancien Regime France and Hieian Japan; Shienar is Sparta fused with Feudal Japan; Amadicia is modeled after Puritan America; the Seanchan are Ottoman Empire and Imperial China and Shogunate Japan, with Texan accents; Illian is a lot like Venice but its people have Greek-sounding names; Andor is similar to England and parts of the U.S.; the Aiel bear both Arabic and Native American similarities but look Irish and have Slavic accents; Tairens have much in common with Reconquista Spain crossed with Spanish-Colonial Era Philippines, the Sea Folk are reminiscent of Indians mixed with Polynesians; Shara appears to be a blending of Khanate Mongolia and Sub Saharan Africans and the list goes on.
- Most of Guy Gavriel Kay's books make heavy use of this trope, and are centered in a counterpart to a specific region of Europe:
- Justified (or perhaps averted) in the Deverry novels by Katherine Kerr, where the main society isn't a counterpart to Gaul; they are Gauls, transported to a fantasy world to escape the "Rhwmanes".
- Same thing with the Scottish society in Kate Forsyth's Witches of Eileanan series.
- Some of Mercedes Lackey's fantasy cultures, particularly the Hawkbrothers, are just Native Americans with funny names.
- Lampshaded in her SERRAted Edge series; most culture in the fairy world of Underhill was either transported there by visitors from our world, or copied by the fantastically imitative (but woefully uncreative) elves. In fact, to point out precisely which human-world culture (real or fictional) an elf ripped off is considered a huge insult by many of them.
- The Joust novels clearly take place in two-kingdoms Egypt. In an afterward, Mercedes Lackey admitted that she was tired of medieval Europe and wanted to try something different, and that she'd planned to just set it in Egypt, but that amateur Egyptologists were so picky that she renamed everything to avoid complaints.
- The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series by Greg Keyes features this, most obviously the "good guys" countries, Virgenya and Crotheny giving very strong Britain-and-it's-territories vibe, Vitellio as a sort of Spaintaly (complete with the head of the Church based there), a variety of southern countries of Mediterranean-and-western-Europe inspiration (Safnia, Terro Gallé...) and the evil (well, from most main characters' perspective) northern Hansa with a Germanic flavor...
- Indeed, it's implied and/or stated that those countries were mostly founded by the descendants of people from the corresponding regions of Earth.
- In Hic Sunt Dracones there's quite a line up with the following:
- The Orkish Empire has an undeniably American feel to them and their territories are reminiscent of The Wild West complete with Settling the Frontier.
- The Sylvan Commonwealth can be reminiscent of the British although they do have a wild side and their cobbled streets and gaslamps are a lot like Victorian Britain.
- The Kingdom of Humanity is mostly a Take That against the corruption, mediocrity and stagnation found in the Philippines, the author's home country.
- The continent of Elbador, a continent being settled by the Orkish Empire can be similar to South America, complete with an Amazon River and rainforest while Panadyssia, a colony of the Sylvan Commonwealth has a lot in common with Australia, including an Outback, Uluru and hostile wildlife.
- Calormen, in C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, is Middle Eastern with Ottoman/Turkish influences, with a specific takeoff on the ancient Carthaginian religion as a plot point. Notably, the Calormenes are explicitly pagan, not monotheists—their religion is not a fantasy counterpart of Islam. (As Narnian humans are descended from various travelers from our world, and time is shown to be very slippery, possibly Calormenes are descended from pre-Islam Turks or Arabs. Or something.)
- Th Film of the Book of Prince Caspian plays up the Telmarines' difference from the Narnians by making Telmarine culture clearly influenced by that of medieval Spain, apparently supposing the original pirates to have been Spanish.
- Also invoking images of Conquistadors that are familiar to US viewers but wouldn't have occurred to Lewis or his English readers.
- George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire contains a few:
- Westeros is one of Europe as a whole, with the regions being the North (Scotland, especially beyond the Wall, which is itself analogous to Hadrian's Wall, which separates England and Scotland), the Iron Islands (Scandinavia and the Viking raiders), the Riverlands (North France/Brittany), the Vale (the Alps), the Westerlands (England), the Stormlands (North Spain), the Reach (South France/Provence), and Dorne (Moorish Spain).
- The First Men are vaguely Celtic, especially with their influence from the Children of the Forest and their concentration in the north after the Andal invasion. The Andals are stand-ins for the Saxons, displacing the First Men in the most fertile regions and imposing their language. The Andals also have some Norman elements, with their new church and tradition of chivalry.
- The Iron Islands are stand-ins for Vikings, with their longboats and their habit of plundering resources from non-Ironborn ("We Do Not Sow"). They also have several Irish influences, especially their generational hatred against the mainland oppressors.
- The mountains clans of the North (The First Flints, the Wulls, the Norreys, the Burleys, the Harclays, the Liddles, and the Knotts) are reminiscent of Scottish Highlanders.
- Dorne is a stand-in for Moorish Spain and the Mediterranean, although it also resembles Wales with its differing culture from the mainland and the way their rulers style themselves "Prince". The name of the main house there, Martell, comes from French, as does the name of Princess Arianne.
- The family names Lannister and Stark are thinly veiled references to the Wars of the Roses, a civil war in England fought between the houses of Lancaster and York. There are also similarities to the way the Scottish clans used to vie for power - the Lannisters are very Campbell-like. The Red Wedding was based on the Black Dinner, and there is even a place in Scotland called Wester Ross.
- The Free Cities are similar to the city-states of medieval Italy, and derive their languages and culture from the Valyrian Freehold, a Rome analogue. Braavos is even a City of Canals like Venice, although it is influenced by Amsterdam as well.
- The Dothraki are clearly a stand-in for the Mongols and similar raiding tribes. They are a horse-centered, nomadic people who rule a vast grassland and can push around fortified nations with the threat of their mounted archers. Word of God has also cited influence from the Huns and the Sioux.
- The Slaver Cities—Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen—closely resemble ancient Middle-Eastern empires such as Assyria and Babylon: they build pyramids/ziggurats and use slaves for manual labor or as soldiers.
- Also, the former Ghiscari Empire is quite analogous to Carthage, to the point of having been brought down and destroyed by Valyria after 5 "Ghiscari Wars".
- The city-states of Slaver's Bay's practice of raiding other peoples and bringing them back as slaves is reminiscent of the Barbary Pirate States. Astapor's "Unsullied" recall the Spartans in their equipment, tactics and Training from Hell, but they are also brainwashed eunuch soldiers for sale like the Mamluks and Janissaries.
- Qarth is a stand-in for Constantinople, with its geographic location in control of a sea pass between the east and west, great opulence and memories of ancient greatness.
- The rarely-mentioned Sothoryos is analogous to Africa.
- The Valyrians are basically the Roman Empire with dragons. From their small peninsula nation they conquered a huge chunk of their continent and their form of government, the Valryrian Freehold, was the Roman Republic with the serial numbers filed off. Now (middle ages), though their empire is no more, their provinces stand as independent kingdoms and speak dialects derived from Valyrian on their way to become separate languages (like the romance languages).
- Dragonstone is thus analogous to Roman Britannia, as the farthest island outpost of the Valyrian Empire.
- There are also comparisons to be made with the Minoans, including the fact that they were apparently destroyed by tectonic activity.
- The Targaryen conquest of Westeros mirrors the Norman conquest of England, but the Targaryens themselves also have some Byzantine trappings (ex. "wildfire", a green-colored version of Greek Fire). They are of Valyrian (i.e. "Roman") origin, too.
- Katherine Kurtz's Deryni works:
- The map of the Eleven Kingdoms looks like a rough approximation of Northern Europe. Imagine Ireland and the UK are attached to the continent, so that The English Channel is a broad estuary; Scandinavia is a simple vertical coastline sans Denmark; there's no Italy or Greece or Mediterranean visible. The analogues to modern nations would be something like Cassan/Kierney/Transha/Claibourne = Highland Scotland, Meara = Lowland Scotland, The Connait/Howwice = Ireland, LLannedd = Wales, Gwynedd/Carthmoor/Corwyn = England/The Netherlands/Germany, Bregmagne/Fallon/Fianna = France, Torenth = Hungary/Russia/Belarus, Tralia/The Forcinn = The Levant (Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan), R'Kassi = North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, plus Arabia).
- Culturally, the regions and their inhabitants as depicted in the text match their real world analogues; R'Kassi horses are famous, as is Fianna wine, while people from the Cassan/Kierney/Transha/Claibourne region wear tartans, speak with broad Scots-like accents, and have a clan system and tanistry (elected leadership within the clan). A version of Catholicism sans the Papacy prevails in the west, with Eastern Orthodoxy prevailing in Torenth, Islam to mostly to the southeast and a Norse paganism in the far north.
- Politics tends to follow some of the real conflicts of medieval Europe. Particular attention is given to the rivalry between spiritual and temporal authority, including disputes over the benefit of the clergy. Such conflicts are sharpened by the Deryni persecutions within Gwynedd; Church authorities forbid the powers as evil, yet foreign kingdoms (including Gwynedd's main rival Torenth) have no such compunctions. The Haldanes' solution is to claim their Deryni-like powers are different and a sign of divine sanction, though it plays as a distinction without a difference.
- Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy has a number of these. Mijak is based on the Hittites and Summerians. Etherea has elements of Medieval England. Thzung-tzhungchai is clearly based on China (Haisun probably too, but we never get to see any of it) and Arbenia and Harbisland have very definite German traits.
- Garth Nix's Old Kingdom books have the pseudo-medieval Old Kingdom — where magic works but most modern technology fails as you approach the border, where Necromancy is a day-to-day hazard — sharing a border with Ancelstierre — which is remarkably like World War I England (or possibly World War I Australia/New Zealand given the author's antipodean roots) to the extent that the Ancelstierre army are armed with .303 bolt action rifles, .455 revolvers, white phosphorous grenades and Lewis guns and on the Border use both this and their khaki uniform AND sword bayonets, Mail hauberk with khaki surcoats and enchanted spears because when the wind blows from the south (Ancelstierre proper) magic stops working, but when it blows from the North (Old Kingdom) technology fails.
- Also the Ancelstierre Moot (Parliament), the Chief Minister (Prime Minister) who runs the government, the Hereditary Arbiter (King/Queen) who lives in a palace without whose blessing you can't form a government mentioned when the bad guys start a civil war and the fact that they haven't taken over the Palace means they haven't won, and the fact that Ancels-Tierre is from the same root (Angles' Land) as England (compare the real-life French word for England, Angleterre)... it's England all right.
- Ancelstierre also has cultural/political parallels with early industrial Australia insofar as being a nation bordered by a seemingly alien land that the government does not understand and fears. Protecting the nation's border is a huge deal. Australia is slap-bang in the middle of the Asia-Pacific, and until the 70s feared and did not understand what they called the "teeming hordes" of Asia. Other political parallels are also present.
- Continuing south from Ancelstierre we come across some other vaguely-European nations, a vaguely-Mediterranean sea and then a vaguely-Middle-Eastern region, refugees from which play a role in the third book.
- John Norman's Gor series actually explains this in the backstory: the humans are literally descended from ancient people from various Earth cultures brought to the eponymous planet by aliens. Specifically the main human culture is based on Greco-Roman and there are knockoffs of Vikings, Inuit, Sub-Saharan Africans, Arabs, and others around the fringes.
- Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe contains numerous examples.
- Tortall itself is medieval England—a feudal society with knights and vassals, a temperate four-season climate, English (ish) names, and a large territory.
- Tyra is analogous to Renaissance Italy (republic, Mediterranean-like climate, trade economy). The Great Southern Desert is Arabia with its Bazhir tribes standing in for Bedouin. Carthak is Africa, conquered by an empire originally located only at the north end of the continent. Scanra is Scandanavia, while Galla is probably something like Germany, Tusaine is France, and Maren is Spain. The Copper Islands are Southeast Asia (specifically Malaysia, but broadly many of the different island cultures). The Yamani Isles are Japan, while Jindazhen to the west of Yaman is the Tortallverse's version of China. Sarain is something like Persia or Mongolia/Central Asia, with the nomadic K'mir standing in for the Mongols. The political troubles are reminiscent of interwarlord rivalries between Turkic and Mongol warlords in post-Mongol Empire Persia, Central Asia, and Mongolia.
- It's also fun to go through Pierce's Circle of Magic series trying to determine what each culture is based on. For example; Imagine Tris as an English girl. Good luck imagining her habitual snark in anything other than an upper-class British accent. Emelan itself is probably based more on Italy than England, given its Mediterranean climate, focus on trade, and diverse population (Italy having handy trade routes with Africa and the Middle East).
- The Yanjing Empire is definitely based on ancient China, and the Namorn Empire is based on Russia. Also, the city-state of Tharios has a government like Ancient Grome, while the caste system there is based on Japan, with the yaskedasi (entertainers) similar to the geisha of Japan and the prathmuni based on the burakumin. The food and weather that Emelan and some of its neighboring countries have is Mediterranean, and Chammur is more Middle Eastern/Arabic.
- The Traders seem to have a lot of similarities with the Romani (nomadic people that are quite separated from other cultures as a defense against huge amounts of discrimination, etc).
- Much of Discworld is like this, generally using it to satirize the original culture. Überwald is Transylvania (and Eastern Europe in general), Genua is New Orleans (with a bit of Disney World), Brindisi seems to be a mix of Spain and Italy, Klatch is the Middle East and North Africa (while also being a stand-in for any "generically foreign" place or concept), Howondaland is a mix of sub-Saharan Africa and Central/South America, and the Counterweight Continent is part China, part Japan (especially the late Edo period). Llamedos is Wales, Djelibeybi is Ancient Egypt, and Ephebe is Greece. Pseudopolis and Tsort are Athens and Troy. Lancre is rural England with a dash of the Appalachians and a Scottish lean, Quirm seems to borrow a lot from France and Italy, and Ankh-Morpork has been described as a cross between eighteenth-century London, nineteenth-century Seattle, and modern New York. The dust jacket for The Last Continent hung a lampshade on this; after mentioning the continent of Fourecks, it had a footnote saying "Which has nothing to do with Australia. At all."
- The Empire (of the Counterweight Continent) keeps out foreigners by building a huge wall across the border. (It doesn't work, but then it's really there to keep the people in, so they don't notice outsiders aren't invisible vampire ghosts [i.e. Gwai Lo].) By and large, the Agatean Empire's approach to foreign policy was to pretend the rest of the Disc didn't exist. This is pretty close to Imperial China (as well as pre-modern Japan; the Empire is both).
- The paperback edition of The Last Continent has it as a foreword, adding that it "just happens to be, here and there, a bit... australian" [sic]
- And the Nac Mac Feegle are cartoon Celts with permanent woad.
- And the Tezumen in Eric are clearly the Aztecs/Mexica.
- Even New Zealand gets a look-in, recast as the Foggy Islands, and to add to the list of British Empire And Commonwealth Dominions, there are several vague but cumulatively telling hints here and there in the Discworld canon that point to there being a "South Africa" on the Disc, no doubt turned Up to Eleven with biltong occupying the dwarf bread culinary niche and memories of a past war involving Welsh soldiers and a people not completely unlike Zulus (A Llamedosian regiment is said to have distinguished itself at a battle of "Lawkes' Drain"...)
- So far, the only distinctly recognisable part of the United States to have made it into Discworld is the Mississipi River (The River Vieux) and the Delta, serving as an all-purpose Deep South/Louisiana, with creole language and cuisine, riverboats, voodoo, and witch-queens overlying a superficially-Disney magic kingdom called Genua. Up to Eleven, naturally.
- Red Indians (Native Americans) exist on the Discworldnote but are assigned the rolling prairies of central Howondaland - thje proto-Mid-West is transplanted to the Discworld Africa.
- A version of Ireland has been conspicuous by its absence in the books but Unseen Academicals mentioned the very Irish sounding 'Great Bronze Spoon of Cladh' so perhaps one exists and will appear someday.
- Tales Of MU is set in the Imperial Republic of Magisteria, which is America mixed with the Roman Empire in a Dungeon Punk world. The island of Yokan is a version of Japan populated by Petting Zoo People. Members of a totally original race of little people who live in cozy holes in shires have a rural English-type culture. The forest-dwelling elves have Ancient Greek names and culture. The dwarves are basically German.
- Early discussions of the ideas outsiders have of subterranean elves mirror American ideas of the Muslim world. When we see the culture up close, though, there's no resemblance whatever.
- In Stravaganza, 'stravaganti' are humans with the ability to teleport between Earth and a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of Italy while asleep. The twenty cities of Talia are stand-ins for the most important Italian cities. When it's night in Talia, it's day on Earth and vice versa.
- The Isavalta series is a rare use of a Russian fantasy counterpart.
- RA Salvatore's The Crimson Shadow trilogy follows a young man of Eriador (read: Ireland) and his companion from Gascony (France) and a bunch of guys from some equivalent of Scotland against the wizard Greensparrow, who rules the invading nation of Avon (England). Don't work hard to hide the parallels here, or anything.
- Brandon Sanderson's Elantris features several Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, though there's a bit of mix-and-matching going on. The Fjordell Empire occupies a political position similar to Rome, but is culturally and linguistically more Nordic, with a religion that seems equal parts Islamic and Catholic. The nation of Teod (of which one main protagonist is princess) is very obviously England- a small island that is nonetheless regarded as a great power due to its very impressive navy and canny leadership. The nation of Jindo, mentioned often but never seen, seems to be a stand in for medieval China. The nations of Duladel and Arelon, on the other hand, don't really seem to have any real-life counterparts.
- This was famously used in The Lord of the Rings, where the Shire is obviously based on the English countryside. This was fairly rare in J. R. R. Tolkien's works, though; most of his cultures were built by creating a language, and then a culture that used it. As he specifically notes in the case of Rohan, that their language was "translated" as an old form of English did not imply they were Anglo-Saxon in culture. Instead it was meant simply to maintain its position in the language family tree as regards to the Hobbits' tongue, which was translated as modern English.
- On the other hand, the Rohirrim — as noted under Film above — are a sort-of Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Goths (or Gothic realm on Black Sea steppes to be specific), except perhaps with the Goths swapped for another Germanic group, the Anglo-Saxons.
- The Southrons are dark-skinned horsemen and elephant-riders coming from regions in the south, while the Easterlings ride great wains or wagons. They do not correspond to any specific real culture and are meant to echo generalized outside threats to early medieval Europe, like the Huns.
- Some Tolkien-inspired fantasies portray dwarves as Scotsmen, though Tolkien himself did not. The closest Tolkien came to this was noting the dwarves tended to have harsh, guttural accents when speaking the common tongue. However, Tolkien's dwarvish language uses triconsonantal roots just like Semitic languages such as Hebrew or Arabic, and in fact he explicitly tried to portray some aspects of the Jewish diaspora and culture in a fantasy setting. However, all Dwarvish names are Old Norse. (Though those are not the "real" names in Dwarvish, which are never revealed to non-Dwarves, but rather Norse names from the human cultures around the Lonely Mountain.) Those in The Hobbit are taken from the names of the first dwarves ever created, in Poetic Edda.
- The ancestors of the Rohirrim have Gothic-style names (Vidugavia, Vidumavi), and they were involved in conflicts a confederation of Easterling horse cultures, probably mirroring the fourth-century clash of Huns and Goths.
- Númenor, Tolkien's fantasy version of Atlantis, is not quite Ancient Egypt, but Adûnaic again mirrors Semitic languages in its general structure, and their advanced culture and later obsession with deathlessness, embalming, and grand sepulchral architecture makes it hard not to think of that. They even had a valley of rock-hewn burial chambers for their Kings and Queens, and names like Ar-Pharazôn do the rest to cement that association.
- Harry Turtledove has a few:
- The Darkness Series has an interesting take on this trope. The series is essentially a fantasy version of World War II. So, every nation taking part in the series fills the role of a power from the war. However, physically, culturally, and linguistically, these nations are also something of a mix-and-match of various world cultures. Algarve plays the role of Nazi Germany, but its people are Scots-Irish in appearance, and their language is based on Italian. Another good example is Kuusamo, which fills the role of the United States, but is populated by Finnish-speaking East Asians.
- In the Videssos Cycle, Videssos is closely modeled on the Byzantine Empire, and neighboring states are likewise based on the Byzantine Empire's neighbors.
- Jo Walton:
- The world first introduced in The King's Peace features fantasy parallels of a whole bunch of Arthurian legend, with the island of Tir Tanager standing in for England and going on from there, down to Saint Patrick, Jesus and Arthur himself. Figuring out what the real world equivalents are is a great deal of the fun.
- Tooth and Claw features a dragon society that matches very closely to Victorian England. Except, of course, that they're dragons.
- David Weber:
- The Honor Harrington series is based on this trope, since its pretty much the Napoleonic Wars in space. Some are blatantly obvious, while others are little vague. Much fun can be had by history buffs trying to match up the Honorverse star nation with their historical counterpart. A few more obvious examples:
- The Star Kingdom of Manticore itself is pretty much Britain in the 1800s, minus the empire. They have a monarchy and active aristocracy coexisting with a democracy. Its three planets, Manticore, Sphinx, and Gryphon, correspond to England, Wales, and Scotland (especially that last one). And it's a mercantile superpower.
- The People's Republic of Haven is France in the late 1700s. It starts off as essentially pre-revolutionary France with a veneer of democracy. Then it undergoes its own revolution, run by a Committee of Public Safety, which is led by a man named Rob S. Pierre. And its capital city is named Nouveau Paris. Eventually, it becomes a genuine democracy modeled on the modern United States, and drops the "People's" part from its name.
- The Andermani Empire is explicitly based on Prussia - its founder, Gustav Anderman, believed he was the reincarnation of Frederick the Great. The Empire's official language is German, although most of its population is ethnically Chinese, so you got names like Chien-lu Anderman.
- Grayson admits that it's Meiji-era Japan, complete with katanas. However, its actual cultural background is the Deep South.
- Subverted in the case of Masada, which has a lot in common with Taliban-run Afghanistan (veiled women, strict religious laws, and a government composed entirely of religious fanatics)... except that the Masadans first appeared in Honor of the Queen, published in 1993, and the Taliban only came to power in 1996.
- Weber himself compared the Kingdom of Torch to 19th-century Haiti following the slave uprising there, only more stable and backed by several major powers.
- The one surefire aversion is the Solarian League, which is far too big for any historical parallel. Weber once said "If the Solarian League is the United States, then Haven and Manticore might as well be individual counties in California".
- Weber's later work the Safehold series is set nearly 1000 years after humanity started a Lost Colony and had the project heads disagree about how deep the Space Amish needed to go. The winners implemented a religion designed to prevent technology that would attract the Scary Dogmatic Aliens that destroyed the rest of humanity. The conflict over this results in a religion very similar to Medieval Catholic Christianity. In addition, the main setting is The Kingdom of Charis, a (relatively) progressive and free-thinking island nation, with a powerful navy; it is visited by the protagonist, a cyborg copy of the executive officer of the colonists' escort fleet, who disguises herself as a man named Merlin, and greatly strengthens and enriches it, including establishing something very similar to Anglicanism. There is also the Republic of Siddarmark, comparable to the Austrian Empire in function and culture, Charis is England, Emerald is Ireland, Chisholm is Sweden, Corisande is France, and Harchong is comparable to China. (It is a large feudal empire, famous for fine silk, and gunpowder was (re)-invented there.) At one point in the first book Charis is explicitly compared to late-Renaissance/early Industrial Revolution England or Holland.
- In Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn:
- The continent of Osten Ard is closely based on Medieval Europe, even down to the languages and their names for the days of the week. Unlike most fantasy Europes, this one actually has a Christianity parallel (and not a Crystal Dragon Jesus one, either), although the many of the Rimmersmen (Scandinavians) and Hernystiri (Celts) still worship (or at least believe in) the "old gods" in secret.
- Also, the Qanuc or Trolls as the Rimmersmen call them are based on Inuit.
- And the Sitha/Norns with their obvious parallels to Japan
- Nabban is definitely Italy (ancient empire reduced to a small duchy, containing the central authority of the Church and figuring as the evil empire in the stories of Usires (Jesus))
- The Wrannamen are probably Southeast Asians
- Gene Wolfe:
- The Commonwealth in Book of the New Sun is modeled on the Byzantine empire, but very obviously set in South America, with references to mate and pampas, as well as a stand-in for Lake Titicaca.
- Viron, in Book of the Long Sun, is also vaguely "Latin," with the city's ruler being called "Calde" and the state religion being a parody of Catholicism (with some minor details changed: it's a polytheist Catholicism that practices animal and occasionally human sacrifice.) The rival city of Trivigaunt is a gender-swapped fundamentalist Arabia. Both of these are justified in the story the builders of the Generation Ship wanted to send a range of human cultures into the universe, all of which would worship the Monarch and his family as gods
- Jane Yolen's The Pit Dragon Trilogy really goes for the gold on this. The entire series takes place on a planet that was once used as a penal colony. Almost all the main characters are descended from the original criminals, and generally have an inherent distrust of anyone who wasn't (all the criminals' descendants have a double K in their name — Jakkin, Sarkkhan, Akki, etc., so it's no secret who is who). The world is mostly great big deserts, great big mountains, and slightly uncivilized cities. Other planets keep trying to rule it and use its natural resources. The fact that the planet is named Austar IV is really just the icing on the cake.
- Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber claims that every world in existence exists in Shadow, as a reflection of the True World, Amber. Hence, several cultures of Earth are pointed out to be reflections of some part of Amber (and several famous historical figures are said to have been trained by the long-lived Amberites).
- Much of the work of C. J. Cherryh is powered by this trope.
- The nation of Jackals in Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air and The Kingdom Beyond the Waves is a Steam Punk version of Victorian England, although they have a much less reverent attitude towards their royalty (this is because they went through their version of the English Civil War, only the democracy stuck). It's hostile neighbor, Quatérshift, is a take on Revolutionary France with the Terror turned Up to Eleven. Cassarabia is an Arabian caliphate, with the worship of an immortal god-king replacing Islam. Catosia, with its warm climate and warring city-states, suggests a matriarchal Greece (and in particular Sparta), the Lashlites vaguely resemble Native Americans despite living in the equivalent of the Scottish highlands, Mechancia is something like Switzerland but inhabited by robots, Kikkosico seems to be Russia. The Southern Forests serve as Darkest Africa, Concorzia and Isla Verde seem to be Latin America, the Polar Barbarians are probably Vikings, and the Black Oil Horde seem like Diesel Punk Mongol hordes. There's also an extinct Mayincatec civilization that's dominated by a Religion of Evil worshiping monsters that turns out not to be not so extinct after all
- When Fritz Leiber's heroes Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser get lost in Ningauble's caves and emerge on Earth, their personal histories and memories are altered appropriately. Fafhrd is, not surprisingly, now Scandinavian, and Lankhmar is replaced by Alexandria. The real reason for this is that "Adept's Gambit" was an early story Leiber had written prior to creating the his world of Nehwon, and he later used the "Ningauble's interdimensional caverns" gimmick to shoehorn it into canon.
- Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett's Havemercy and Blood Magic are set in the nation of Volstov which is very similar to late 18th-early 19th cent. Russia minus guns and plus Magitek but with the geography reversed so that it's capital is close to the border of the rival Ke-Han Empire which itself is an amalgam of Manchurian China and Samurai Japan, especially the latter.
- While The Hundred, the central culture in Kate Eliott's Crossroads trilogy doesn't seem to be based on any particular culture the Sirniakan Empire is very similar to the Ottoman Empire, and the Qin are very Mongolish with some Japanese samurai added in while the towns of the Golden Road they conquered seems very Chinese and the Silvers are reminiscent of Jews.
- The Hundred has a lot of Pacific Islander influence.
- Speaking of Kate Eliot, her epic Crown of Stars series is basically a What If? Europe, with a magical holocaust in about 8,000 BC turning vikings into Lizardmen, amongst other differences. Two particularly interesting facets, Daisanite Church has a female pontiff called a Skopos (Greek for purpose) and that the British Isles expy is ruled by powerful Druidic witches.
- In general, the biggest difference between the world of Crown of Stars and Earth's medieval period is that it's much more, for lack of a better word, female-friendly in general- almost all cultures are either gender-equal (with men still holding the bulk of military power, but women dominating religious roles and political leadership open to either) or matriarchal, and the one completely patriarchal nation doesn't really factor into the plot. This probably has something to do with the fact that early humanity was guided and taught by the Bwr, a One-Gender Race of all-female centaurs.
- In the Gentleman Bastard series, there are several. Camorr is obviously Venice, with its canals and Italian-sounding words. Vadrans seem to be modeled on Germans/Slavic people (tall, blonde, famous for alcohol production). The old Therin Throne sounds similar to Rome (it even fell to the Vadrans!) and there are several other city-states with differing cultures, as well.
- Palladia and Merryland in Tranquilium seem like this for Tsarist Russia and Victorian Britain respectively, though the former is based on an archipelago and the latter is a republic; it's revealed pretty soon though that both were founded by people that crossed over from Earth over the years, mainly in the 19h century (and Merryland was mostly founded by Americans, at that!).
- Monica Hughes' Sandwriter is set in a Middle East counterpart. With oil disputes.
- In Codex Alera, the Aleran society is based on ancient Rome, using Roman terminology, system of government, and military structure. It turns out that there's a reason for this: they actually are descendants of a Lost Roman Legion that ended up falling through a Negative Space Wedgie that transported them to Alera, although this point is not mentioned much in the books. Despite this, Aleran society has notable differences from actual Roman society, primarily in that their military is even more professional and organized than historical Roman armies, and there's an absence of real religion in Aleran society. Also, thanks to the Elemental Powers that all the Alerans possess, they have Magitek that allows them a standard of living comparable to the 1950's. However, like the Roman Empire, Alera's biggest problems are not external threats but their own crippling internal problems.
- Fairly obvious in Second Apocalypse. The Inrithi are the Crusaders (although their religion is more similar to Hinduism than to Christianity), the Kianene are Arabs, the Shigeki Syrians, the Nansur is the Byzantine Empire and the Scylvendi the Mongols.
- The Kargs of the Earthsea Trilogy have some striking similarities to Vikings, what with their habit of traveling around in longboats and doing the Rape, Pillage, and Burn routine on helpless villages. They're also the only people in Earthsea with light hair and pale skin. Subverted in that when, in The Tombs of Atuan we get a look at Kargish culture, it doesn't bear much resemblance to that of the Vikings.
- Glen Cook's The Instrumentalities of the Night series takes place in 12th- or 13th-Century Europe and the Middle East, except with the names (and some aspects of the religions) changed — and magic works. Most of the action takes place in Firaldria (Italy), the End of Connec (Languedoc), and the Grail (Holy Roman) Empire. The main character is a Sha-lug (Mamluk) from Dreanger (Egypt) sent to infiltrate the Chaldarean (Roman Catholic) Church and learn if they're planning another crusade against Al-Prama (Islam). Meanwhile, a cyclic shift in the forces of magic is bringing on an ice age much more severe than anything experienced in our history at the comparable time....
- Cook's Black Company novels start light while the Company is in the north, then runs with this trope when they get to Taglios. Gunni are copy-and-paste Hindus, Vehdna are close to Muslim, and the whole pluralistic, pacifistic culture is what could have happened if the two religions and smaller sects had to join together or die. Painfully. In the name of a demon-eating goddess their gods are afraid of. Even later on, Hsien (China) gets tossed in there too.
- Through A Brazen Mirror by Delia Sherman has Albia (England), Gallimand (France), and Brant (Scotland).
- The Truwa tribe from Danish author Josefine Ottensen's Mira Trilogy are pretty blatant High Fantasy Jews. Mira's father is Truwa, and while you only become Truwa through the mother(Mira's mother is very middle-class and very white), Mira identifies strongly with the Truwa people. She eventually goes through a ceremony similar to a bat mitzvah, enraging her mother and putting her in grave danger, considering that the monarchy is planning to destroy all Truwa people (think the Spanish Inquisition).
- An Exercisein Futility has the Kalharian Empire, with a few similarities to Ancient Rome. They're both the same kind of The Empire
- Justified in Dinotopia. The various cultures on the island were influenced by shipwreck survivors who brought their way of life with them. Also inverted by others who made it off the island. The second book states that the Egyptians were influenced by such people.
- Lyonesse by Jack Vance has several: the aristocracy of Lyonesse seems to be vaguely Germanic, Dahaut is pre-Revolutionary France, and the Ska are based on the Vikings. Troicinet represents Britain. All of these are based not so much on modern images of these cultures as on representations from the 19th century or earlier (Troicinet is a sea power and balances the other nations; the Ska aren't noble warriors but fearsome and heartless raiders, similar to portrayals of Vikings in medieval English sources.)
- Chronicles Of Magic has the Falians, or "people of Fa"— a country a lot like ancient Japan whose inhabitants are beautiful, dark-skinned people with snow-white hair and ruby-red eyes.
- In Chris Evans Iron Elf trilogy the Empire is clearly based on the British Empire of Victoria although the tech level is about a hundred years behind. Likewise the Mashugeb lands are just as clearly northern Africa and Elfkynan is India under the Raj.
- The country the Knight and Rogue Series takes place in looks suspiciously like Europe.
- In The Course of Empire and The Crucible of Empire the author claims to be consciously writing an analogue to Rome conquering then being assimilated by Greeks with the Jao as Romans and the Humans as Greeks.
- In The Sovereign Stone trilogy there are Japanese Elves, Mongol Nomadic Dwarves and Viking Orcs. The Humans in this setting are divided into multiple cultures resembling Medieval England (Vinnengael), Arabia (Dunkarga), Persia (Karnua) Africa (Nimran and Nimorean) and Celtic (Trevenici).
- Gujaareh from the Dreamblood Duology is based on Ancient Egypt, but it does notably avoid many of the more cliched elements, like pyramids and mummies.
- Fiona Patton's medieval Tales of the Branion Realm are set in an alternate Britain down to the map and the place names, with two opposing Crystal Dragon Jesus faiths - one is basically Continental Catholicism with a dragon thrown in, and the other has similarities to Celtic Christianity but is based around the four classical elements. The conflicts are inspired by the English conquest of Wales, the Scottish Risings, and the Hundred Years' War.
- in The Warded Man and sequels, the Krasian culture is medieval Arabia with a healthy dose of Sparta thrown in. The Thesan duchies are generic medieval European.
- In Patrick Tlley's Amtrack Wars the Mutes are clearly First Nations while the Iron Masters are basically Steam Punk Samurai
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe uses this a lot:
- The forest moon of Endor is, to some extent, an equivalent of Darkest Africa in a galaxy far, far away. And the Ewoks are very, very similar to African pygmy tribes.
- Mandalorians waffle between Celts and Maoris, depending on how loyal to the films they are being.
- Some races verge on Space Jews, due to the influence of the films:
- Watto is often accused of being a Greedy Jew stereotype.
- The Tuskens are loosely based on Bedouins and Native Americans, though they're given a more fleshed out culture than that seen in the films.
- Neimoidians are Japanese.
- The witches of Dathomir are based on the Lamanites of The Book of Mormon, with matriarchy thrown in.
- The Empire was originally Space Romans mixed with Those Wacky Nazis.
- The Nagai are based on the Japanese.
- The Nelvaan are Magical Native Americans. Plains and Southwestern. Anakin even goes on a Vision Quest.
- The Yuuzhan Vong are based on the Aztecs. Hence, the self-inflicted Body Horror. They have shades of Imperial Japan as well, though, in terms of their veneration of martyred heroes and occasional use of kamikaze tactics in losing battles.
- The Sith get a number of different characterizations, depending on the work:
- Sometimes a medieval culture, as are the Sorcerers of Tund.
- Ancient Sith are Old Egyptian? As this pic◊ shows.
- Some instances, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic has then take on some Cold War trappings, with the Sith in a vaguely Soviet-esque role.
- The Aing-Tii are Tibetan-like, with their idea that good and evil are just two extremes on a rainbow.
- The Jedi were originally partially Jewish. The Starkiller trusted the secrets of the Force to his 12 children. Over time, one tribe of Jedi fell in with the Sith pirates, and the Sith now kill Jedi. Also, they had a prophecy about a savior (Anakin) and when they didn't believe in him, he went and found someone who would believe in him (Palpatine) and killed them all off. Also, being a Jedi is punishable by death under the Empire.
- The Massassi are Mayans.
- Corellians are based on Americans, though their disproportionately powerful Space Navy has vaguely British trappings as well.
- Coruscant is based on the Biblical Tower of Babel. It's even Vongformed rapidly because of the sheer blasphemy (in the Vong religion).
- The Ununited Kingdoms in Jasper Fforde's Song of the Quarkbeast is clearly meant to be a parody of the UK.
- In Terry Pratchett's The Carpet People the Dumii are clearly the Roman Empire.
- Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels has multiple, most noticeable the countries of Lilliput and Blefuscu being satirical stand ins for 18th century Great Britain and France respectively.
- The unnamed kingdom in Delia sherman's The Fall of Kings is clearly based on late 17th-early 18th century Britain with the North and South standing in for Scotland and England respectively. There doesn't seem to be an analog for Wales. Kyros is meant to be Greece, more specifically Crete.
- In The Dagger and the Coin, the area of the world in which the plot is set is pretty clearly a fantasy counterpart of Europe, although some of the countries have easier to find parallels than others:
- Antea is very clearly Germany.
- Asterilhold is, by extension, Austria.
- The Free Cities are the medieval Italian city-states; Vanai in particular is, paradoxically, a combination of Venice and Florence.
- Herez and Cabral seem to be Aragon and Castille, although which is which is difficult to tell, given how little we've seen of either.
- Birancour has elements of both France and Belgium.
- Northcoast, likewise, seems to have elements of both France and England. It may seem peculiar that the holding company of the Medean bank, which sounds like it must be based on the Medici bank, is based in Northcoast, instead of in one of the Free Cities. It becomes clear in the fourth book, however, when Cithrin invents central reserve banking, and transforms the Medean bank into the fantasy counterpart of the Bank of England.
- Hallskar seems to be Scandinavia generally.
- Sarakal and Elassae are somewhat harder to pin down, as is the Keshet. The Timzinae, who are the primary population of both Sarakal and Elassae, play the part of the Jews to the Anteans' Nazis, but there are no really obvious parallels between Timzinae and Jewish culture.
- The Dragon Empire, of course, was the Roman Empire.
- Xena: Warrior Princess mixed up Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Classical Mythology, The Bible and whatever else the writers could think of and set it all in some vaguely ancient era. Rule of Drama alternated with Rule of Funny depending on what was needed at the time.
- There is a cross-species example in Babylon 5, in which the intergalactic Blood Sport called "the Mutai" is essentially a karate kumite, complete with gi, bowing, and an ancient master who speaks with a raspy Asian accentnote . Ironically, humans seem to be the only species who have never taken part in the sport until the episode "TKO."
- On Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) series the colonists from socially and religiously deeply conservative Gemenon and politically impotent, terrorist ridden, superstitious Sagittaron resemble the Deep South and Oireland respectively. If Gaius Baltar is typical of his countrymen, Aerilonians speak a thick Yorkshire accent.
- Firefly's planets appear to have numerous cultures that preserve old national traditions from Earth-That-Was. The whole show is colored by Chinese culture, including the dialogue. The Rim world settings where most of the series takes place are mainly, of course, modeled on the Wild West, right down to accents and about half the slang.
- And the Civil War in the backstory is a deliberate parallel to the American Civil War.
- Prior to the release of Serenity, it could have been said that the Reavers were stand ins for the old blood thirsty stereotype of Native Americans (as seen in old cowboy movies, this seems a play on that trope rather than having unfortunate implications of its own).
- Strangely, Russian appears to be a non-existent language, as a fairly common Russian idiom is used as a Trigger Phrase for River Tam in the movie.
- Kings is set in the kingdom of Gilboa, which is pretty much modern America run by an absolute monarchy fused with Biblical Israel/Judea with the capital, Shiloh, explicitly modeled on New York City. Gath seems to something of a cross of the Philistines with the Soviet Union.
- Used, especially in the earlier episodes, of Stargate SG-1. This is justified as they mostly encounter humans who were "transplanted" from Earth, and un-justified in that few of them have seemed to culturally or scientifically evolved since then, and almost all of them randomly speak English.
- Justified in at least some cases because they were deliberately kept stagnant by the Goa'uld.
- The Goa'uld spoke English too, and it's probably easier to rule an interstellar slave empire if everyone's on the same linguistic page.
- We would've gotten sick of the "Daniel needs to translate this language" subplot if it occurred in every episode. Especially if they didn't use subtitles.
- The races in Star Trek frequently have elements of this, though the pairings shift from portrayal to portrayal.
- In the original series, the overall political placements were based on the 60s Cold War era. Hence, the Federation could be compared to the NATO powers, with humanity as the Americans and the Vulcans as the older allies who are considered smart and less Hot-Blooded - maybe Japan or Britain. The Klingons were the USSR, which Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ran with heavily - it's about the end of the Klingon Empire because the end of the Soviet Union happened a few years before. The Romulans were also mildly Soviet-esque, although their periods of isolationism and distinction from either the Federation or the Klingons suggest similarities to China or India in the 60s.
- The Klingons also had Mongolian and Persian elements, then were later given Japanese-ish ideas about honor (rarely put into practice, but given a lot of lip service) and a fair amount of superficial Norse trappings.
- The Romulans were heavily based on the Romans (even to the name of the race, which plays on Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome).
- The TOS episode "Plato's Stepchildren" has an entire alien culture modeled on Ancient Greece, which ironically, was said in a different episode of the same series to have been based on Ancient Astronauts. There were, of course, also the Space Nazis and Space Gangsters, and one time trip into a planet's ancient past had awfully Napoleonic trappings.
- Upon their first appearance, one character notes that the Ferengi behave like "Yankee traders." Their name is derived from a slur for white people used in India. Their obsession with money, however, led to accusations that they were antisemetic stereotypes - this trope must be used with caution.
- On the other hand, the Vulcans' 'logic' resembles a 60s Western understanding of Chinese or Japanese philosophy, combined with a healthy dose of Jewish elements - Leonard Nimoy was Jewish, which is why the Vulcan salute is based on the Priestly Blessing of Orthodox Judaism.
- Bajorans are explicitly a stand-in for any oppressed peoples in history, including, ironically, both Jews (the 1940s in Europe and the Israeli Wars of Independence) and Palestinians, along with "Kurds and Haitian boat people... terrorism and homelessness are universal problems".
- The Cardassians are Nazis early in Deep Space Nine, though once they ally with the Dominion they become more like a Nazi client state: Italy or Vichy France. They also have some aspects of Commie Land, with a figurehead "legitimate" government, show trials, and occasionally Russian names that don't match the sound of other names in their language.
- They also share a great deal in common with Roman society: value service to the state above everything else save family; name their highest commanders Legate (albeit they use the bastardized pronunciation;) Dukat and Garak even read a bit like Mark Antony and Ciccero, the latter in each pair having caused the death of the former's father and consistently ridicule them. In Garak's case Dukat just exiled him, though then again some Romans would have considered exile to be worse than death.
- The description given in "Chain of Command, Part II" of their rich spiritual life being abandoned in favor of a military dictatorship that fed a starving people sounds like a description of Mao's Cultural Revolution.
- In Game of Thrones, Westeros is quite clearly based on medieval England, and indeed the north/south geography and accompanying accents clearly approximate England's own geography and accent distribution. For example Ned, as a Northerner, has Sean Bean's native Sheffield accent, whereas Cersei, as a Southerner, has more of a London/RP accent. The family names Lannister and Stark are also thinly veiled references to the War of the Roses, a civil war in England fought between the houses of Lancaster and York. The great Wall itself has obvious parallels with Hadrian's Wall, a huge, 80 mile long barrier stretching across the top of England which was began in AD 122 and built to protect Roman Britain from Scottish invasion. Sections of the wall still stand today. The Narrow Sea corresponds to the English Channel, and King's Landing, as seen on the opening-credits map, roughly corresponds with London (despite the Mediterranean vibe).
- The Dothraki are about a 50-50 mix, half Born in the Saddle Mongolian Golden Horde, half Pre-Islamic Arabs.
- Braavos corresponds with Spain, especially as our first Braavosi is the Badass Spaniard Syrio Forel, and many Braavosi are Hot-Blooded duellists. The city itself is more similar to Venice, as a City of Canals founded by refugees of a lost empire, acting as the world's biggest lender, and operating as what appears to be a republic.
- The Wildlings mirror the Scottish/Pictish/Celtic tribes that gave the Roman legions so much trouble.
- Lorath has been associated with Germany in the fandom, as both Lorathi we have met, Shae (Sibel Kekilli) and Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschicha), have German accents.
- Qarth has a Mediterranean-Mesopotamian look.
- House Tyrell-Of The House Of Tudor—their sigil is an almost exact replication of the Tudor Rose. The Reach as a whole is in many ways an analogue of south east England and France/Aquitaine, to the point of being the birthplace of Westerosi chivalric culture in the books.They also served as stewards to the previous royal family like The House Of Stuart.
- House Lannister-To the House of Lancaster and medieval English nobility in general and, to some extent, the infamous Borgia family of the Italian Renaissance. Game of Thrones has often been compared to the Borgias and their schemes, mainly because of the Lannister charactersnote . Their home, the Westerlands, bears a small resemblance to South Africa as well (lots of gold, lions, a huge mountain behind the main port city.)The HBO show's version of Lannister armor combines features from The Renaissance, Feudal Japan, the Teutonic Knights, and the German men-at-arms of the Russian film Alexander Nevsky, which in turn were a reference to Nazi Germany, as is Tywin's dream about a thousand-year dynasty.
- House Targaryen-To the Norman invaders of England and the House of Normandy. Them being of Valyrian (i.e. "Roman") descent and having access to wildfire, an analogue of Greek Fire, makes them also a bit Byzantine. Their preference for dynastic incest to maintain the purity of their bloodline is modeled after Ancient Egypt.Being rulers of a land they have little ethnic relation to and even speak a different language, they also draw a lot from the Ptolemaic Egypt.
- Once Upon a Time: Mulan's people are based on ancient China while most of the Enchanted Forest is based on medieval Europe, though a majority of the English-speaking inhabitants possess American accents.
- Even though Belle's kingdom looks as European as the rest of the Enchanted Forest, she, her lord father, and her former betrothed all speak with distinct Australian accents, though the area may be based on the equivalent of France in support of the original Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.
- Both Aurora and Cora's kingdoms seemed to be associated with Russia and Spain respectively.
- Dr. Frankenstein's world have aspects of 19th-century London, but Alice's universe plays it straight by being a separate London of its own that is continuously stuck in the Victorian era.
- Agrabah is obviously a kingdom derived from pre-Islamic Arabic culture.
- In Defiance The Spirit Riders are basically Plains Indians with motorcycles and ATVs instead of horses. The Castithans on the other hand are a Culture Chop Suey.
- The Grounders in Series/The100 are increasingly looking similar to the First Nations, especially in relation to the would be colonizers from the Ark.
- Vega in ''Dominion is very much a copy of Republican Rome albeit with a caste system.
- Most Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings.
- Many unofficial GM invented campaign worlds do this, because after a while GMs realize that it is a lot easier to crib off real life history for their campaign world then it is to invent everything from scratch, because most GMs are not geniuses and also have other things to do in Real Life.
- The World of Greyhawk references a number of cultures with resonance to Gary Gygax's Swiss family, Wisconsin home, and medieval wargames hobby, including "The Concatenated Cantons of Perrenland" (Switzerland), Thillonrian Peninsula cultures (Norse), various "Paynim" (Muslim) cultures in the west, and the vaguely Papal state of Medegia. There are "Native Americans" (Flanae), lake-faring "Gypsies" (Rhennee), and the map features a couple of large, connected freshwater lakes in the middle (Wisconsin again).
- The Forgotten Realms setting features a large number of countries that are obviously based on historical ones. Amn is early modern Spain/Portugal, complete with colonies in the equivalent of Central America, and also has some elements from Middle-eastern Crusader states (such as the Kingdom of Jerusalem); Calimshan is vaguely reminiscent of Muslim Spain, with a few Arabic influences; Mulhorand is Pharonic Egypt; Unther is old Babylon; Chessenta is a slightly Greek collection of city-states; the Hordelands are blatantly Mongolian, complete with Take Over the World scare; and Chult is sub-Saharan Africa. Bedine people in Anauroch desert (Arabia without genies and flying carpets), Rashemen, descendants of Rus (old "Ruthenians (Russians) were descendants of Vikings" anecdote plus grubbed-up Wikkan-friendly fragments plus Slavic folklore), Ulutiun (Inuit) tribes of Great Glacier... Sub-settings are the continent of Kara-Tur, a mish-mash of Asian countries to the point that its book reads more like a travelogue/textbook on real-world Asia than a sourcebook, the Aztec-style continent Maztica (removed later), complete with straightforward historical allusions, and the continent of Zakhara (home of the Al-Qadim setting) is based clearly on mythic Arabia.
- Although one of the background concepts for the Realms, namely that it is liberally sprinkled with portals to pretty much anywhere, might explain some of that, by the fact that it is canon that anywhere includes, yes, the Earth on which the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting was published. In the specific cases of Mulhorand and Unther, it is mentioned that their ancestors were ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, taken as slaves by the Imaskari, a civilization very good at the portal-making thing, and after overthrowing their oppressors, they spent the next three thousand years or so ruled by the living incarnations of their deities, which might have caused a bit of social stagnation.
- Depending on which Realms writer you ask, Calimshan may also be heavy on Ottoman Turkish influence and Persia in general. It's something of a mishmash no matter how you look at it.
- According to R. A. Salvatore, he based the culture of the drow of Menzoberranzan on the Italian mafia.
- The feuding between Neverwinter and Luskan seems to be a nod to the Trojan War, as Luskan is also called "Illusk" (Troy was called "Ilion").
- The human cultures of Birthright are Fantasy Counterpart Cultures; the developers' notes admit as such. Anuire is Renaissance Italy hidden behind a constructed language and some stock Heroic Fantasy tropes, the Khinasi are Turkish Persian Arabs, the Rjurik are Vikings, Brechtur is Renaissance Germany and the Vos are Russian barbarians. Yes, Birthright was written during the Cold War (though released shortly after its end), why do you ask?
- Used to varying degrees in Ravenloft. Some are fairly clear — Barovia is Romania, Borca is Italy, Dementlieu and Richemulot are France, Falkovnia is Wallachia, Forlorn is Scotland, Har'Akir and Sebua are Pharaonic Egypt, Pharazia is medieval Egypt, Hazlan is Turkey (by way of the Forgotten Realms' Thay), Lamordia is Switzerland, Mordent is rural 19th-century England, Nova Vaasa is Poland, Paridon is Victorian London, Souragne is antebellum Louisiana, Sri Raji is India, Tepest is Ireland, Valachan is the Pacific Northwest, Vorostokov is Russia, and Wild Lands are Africa. Others, like Darkon and Sithicus, operate through more fantasy filters.
- At least Sithicus is actually a domain snatched from the Dragon Lance setting.
- Justified in Odaire, a domain taken from an actual parallel (Gothic) Earth's Italy.
- Pretty much every human culture in the Mystara setting is based on a Real Life country (which makes a certain amount of sense, as it's implied that Mystara is an Alternate Universe to Earth): Thyatis is Rome and/or Byzantium, Karameikos is Rumania, Glantri is a generically Renaissance-era western European nation, the Northern Reaches are Scandinavia, Heldann is the Teutonic Knights, Darokin is a mish-mash Genoese/Venetian merchant republic, the Ethengar Khanate is central Asia, Ylaruam is Arabia (and directly south of the Northern Reaches... WTF?), the Atruaghin Clans are Native Americans, the Savage Baronies are Mexico and Brazil, Cimmaron is Texas (!!), Robrenn is Ireland, Eusdria is Celtic Gaul, Bellayne is England (with cat-people), Renardy is France (with dog-people), the wallara lizardfolk are Australian Aborigines, the phanaton raccoon-people are Mezoamericans... the list goes on and on...
- Eberron has Galifar being a mix of Alexander the Great's empire and the Holy Roman Empire, Aerenal as ancient Egypt, the Valenar elves as kind-of Bedouin, Karrnath as Germany (with aspects of both Nazi Germany and Prussia), Thrane as any theocracy ever (primarily the Papal States), Breland as Britain (in the modern day of the setting. Breland at the beginning of the Last War was a combination of Britain and Revolutionary France), Aundair as France, Zilargo as Switzerland with KGB gnomes and a Dutch coastline, the Shadow Marches as Vietnam, and Riedra as North Korea on Steroids (although their human-supremacist bias and practice of eugenics also evoke Nazi Germany). Among Riedra's neighbors, Adar has aspects of both Tibet and Persia, and the Akiak dwarves resemble the Inuit.
- Pathfinder's default setting has quite a few of these, including apparent counterparts of the colonial U.S. and early-20th-century China.
- To expand on this a bit, the colonial United States analogue is Andoran: a new country that has recently in the past century won its independence from Cheliax and is experimenting with democracy. Golarion also has an ancient Egyptian analogue in Osirion, an Middle Eastern counterpart named Qadira, and a Roman/Byzantine-type country in Taldor. The Land of the Linnorm Kings is clearly based on saga-era Viking myth. Irrisen and Brevoy both play like medieval Russia, with Brevoy going for civil war between noble houses and Irrisen doing the fantasy side. Galt is Reign of Terror France. Ustalav is Eastern Europe through the eyes of Hammer Horror films. Touvette is a mixed dig at Western fascism and North Korea. Cheliax wants to be Renaissance Italy by way of fantasy devil worship. Vudrani are meant to portray pre-Colonial India. Bacchuan is another dig at North Korea. Minkai is faux-medieval Japan, and Kyonin is faux-medieval elven Japan. All of the Lung Wa successor states are essentially pieces of the multicultural traditions of China. Hongal are Mongolian analogs. Tianjiang looks a lot like the public perception of pre-Communist Tibet, so Tibet via Hollywood History. Katapesh is another "pulp-Arabia" country, with Jalamey filling in for "pulp-Near East." Molthune goes for Imperial Germany. The Crown of the World features faux Inuit peoples. The Mwangi Expanse goes for a bit of a Reconstruction of the Darkest Africa trope, eliminating many of its odious connotations while portraying the Mwangi as knowledgeable, intelligent Colonial-era African analogs. Quite a few countries make up what could be called a generic mish-mash of South East Asian-themed societies. And certainly more parallels could be found.
- Planescape, the setting which focused on the old D&D cosmology, plays with this trope like a kitten with yarn. It contains an idealized "Viking" heaven, a Word of Dante version of Purgatory and Hell, Mount Olympus, the Underworld, and dozens of little pockets which resemble the real world culture which worshiped the god found in said pocket. For example, Set's realm is based on faux Ancient Egypt, but is nestled inside what can only be called Dante's Inferno. It makes sense in context.
- The Warhammer setting, like many other examples on this page, is full of this, and they don't even try to hide it.
- Justified in the background, though, as it is explained how the Warhammer World was created by the Old Ones as a kind of experiment, following a standard pattern of terraforming and world creation so, according to this, the reason why the Warhammer World and Terra (that is, the real Earth) are so similar◊ is because it is suggested that Earth itself was terraformed by the Old Ones according to the same “standard” pattern.
- Still according to the background, the Warhammer World was not only terraformed from birth and left at it, but the Old Ones left their Slann servants “cultivate” it and the various races that live on it so as to make sure that the Warhammer World history develops by following a pre-established plan – this is, according to background, the reason why so many Warhammer World races have a direct counterpart on Earth and follow the same global line of development, to the extent that some events even happen on the same dates involving people with similar names (for example, the discovery of the New World by Tilean merchant Marco Colombo in the year 1492 IC).
- So the Old World (which contains the Empire, Bretonnia, Kislev, Tilea, Albion and Estalia plus the Dwarfen kingdoms) is basically late-Medieval/Renaissance Europe if Christianity had never existed, with the common pantheon being a mix of various European paganisms, largely Greek/Roman and Germanic inspired.
- The Empire is more or less the Holy Roman Empire during the Renaissance, with its reliance on pike-and-shot armies, Elector Counts voting in the new Emperor, and the extreme power of its national church (in this case, the Cult of Sigmar). It is also worth noting that the first ruler of the Empire was crowned explicitly by the spiritual leader of the tribes, similar to how Charlemagne, the founder of the Holy Roman Empire, was crowned by the Pope. In our case, however, the "Pope" is the "Ar-Ulric", the shamanic, barbarian high priest of Ulric, the war god of winter and wolves. Hence religion wars between the “Ulricans” and the “Sigmarites”, much like in Renaissance Germany. Unlike the actual Holy Roman Empire however, worship of the Old World pantheon as a whole is in general tolerated.
- Sigmar himself is a kind of a combination of Charlemagne (for uniting the tribes and founding the Empire; his massacre of the Chaos-worshiping Norse tribes could even be likened to the Bloody Verdict of Verden, where Charlemagne massacred pagan Saxons), a bit of Octavian (for being a founding emperor who ended up becoming deified), and (religiously speaking) Jesus Christ and Thor.
- Bretonnia is basically medieval France, or the way it was imagined by the Enlightenment historians, complete with French naming conventions, 14th century armor and weaponry for the knights and men-at-arms, upper-class disdain for ranged combat, an oppressed peasant underclass, and reputation for extremely good cuisine and wine. The ancestors of the Bretonnians resemble Celtic tribesmen, evoking the Roman-era Gauls. There's also a decent deal of Arthurian mythology tossed in there, with Grail Knights and a Lady of the Lake who's the chief deity, and a special interaction between Bretonnia and the Elves of Athel-Loren.
- Early edition Bretonnia was anything but knightly, themed around pre-revolutionary French monarchy. It was known for good quality pistols, decadent aristocracy, and all-around rot.
- Kislev is medieval Tsarist Russia which swiftly turns into grim, wide-open, and cold Siberian/Central Asian like steppes to the north. True to history, Kislev is actually comprised of several ethnic groups and their cultures. There are Turko-Mongol Ungols in the North, the more traditionally Russian Gospodars in the south who are more numerous and in charge of the country, and way back, Viking-esque invaders known as the Roppsmenn (who were driven East by Sigmar for aiding the Chaos-worshiping Norse clans), who ended up being crushed by the Ungols (reflecting the Mongol conquest of Russia). The Gospodars' own troubled rule over the Ungols, including several crackdowns on the Ungols' cultural center of Praag (yes, the name of the Mongol-Turkic city is Praag; deal with it), thematically mirrors the general relationship between the Tsars of Russia and the Turkic/Mongol tribes (especially the Tatars). Ironically, there were hints in the past that the Gospodars and the Ungols are actually an offshoot of the even more Turkic-Mongolian Kyazaks (Kazakhs, natch) and Kurgans, who live further north and east (the World's Edge Mountains acting as a kind of Ural in that regard). Interestingly, Kislev is also the name of a month in the Jewish calendar (Hannukah is in Kislev).
- Estalia is pre-unification Spain + Portugal and Tilea is Renaissance Italy (complete with rival city-states and leaning towers). Interestingly, both these countries get their classic architecture from the fact that their cities are built on ancient ruins, not of the Roman Empire, but of High Elves colonies who were abandoned following a centuries long war between Elves and Dwarves. There is also a “Classical” language used as an international scientific and religious language for the Old World's educated elite, which is just Latin in the Warhammer World (which could be or “Old Tilean”, or a corrupted form of the High Elf speech used by humans in their early dealings with the race ?).
- The independent city-state of Marienburg, surrounded by its marshy Wasterlands, is the Netherlands; the Border Princes are the Balkans ; Albion is pre-Roman Britain, complete with ornery Celtic tribes, angry Druids and magical Stonehenge type things; the pirate island of Sartosa is Sicily.
- Cathay, Ind, Nippon, and Araby are just the medieval European terms for the exact same places you're thinking about, but turned fantastic (Cathay is ruled by a real *Dragon* Emperor, there are monkey-men, tiger-men, elephant-men in Ind, djinns and flying carpets in Araby).
- The High Elves, the former rulers of the Old World, live in Atlantis and have a very Greco-Roman style. Their cousins the Dark Elves are more hard to define, but could be understood as post-Viking Scandinavians, with their reliance on crossbowmen and close-combat troops (even though they live in Warhammer's equivalent of Canada). Their other cousins the Wood Elves are basically a representation of Celtic folklore regarding The Fair Folk.
- Dwarves have a few Scandinavian elements, the Halflings are rustic Englishmen. Moreover, both these races are very widely spread in the human realms, especially in the Empire, where they play a social role similar to the one Jews played in medieval Europe: they mostly live in special ghettos, have separate sets of laws for themselves, and, in the case of Dwarves, are famous for owning a lot of gold and following their own alien religion that they practice away from the public. Also the Dwarves are connected to the cult of Sigmar, a bit like Judaism is connected to Christianism(though not for the same reasons).
- Tomb Kings are Pharaonic Egyptians (only undead), and the Lizardmen are Mayincatecs. The Ogres are Silk Road raiders living in the Himalaya, the Orcs are basically a Barbarian Tribe of English football hooligans, and the Forest Goblins, with a type of unit called a 'brave' and their heavy use of feathers in decoration, have traits of native Americans. Chaos Dwarfs resemble the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Hobgoblins are Mongols, and the Vampire Counts of Sylvania (officially part of the Empire) live in Romania/Transylvania.
- The Warriors of Chaos are your general barbarians, similar to Viking Age Scandinavia allied with the Huns, Scythians, Goths, Turks and other invaders. Long-bearded, muscular, psychotically violent Viking warriors clad in spiky armour, furs and imposing plate-armour from HELL who Rape, Pillage, and Burn everyone else via longship or on horse and who fight to gain the notice of their capricious gods, led by Jarls and other such leaders who tend to be celebrated Chaos Chosen, and operate in tribal confederations with names like “Skaelings”, “Bjornlings”, but also “Kurgans”, “Yusaks”, or “Man-Chus”, “Hungs”). So, basically, Heavy Metal Satanist Vikings-Mongols with Spikes of Villainy. They're also extremely fond of horned-helmets and plaits, furthering the strong Evil Fantasy Viking aesthetic. Geographically, Norsca is situated where real-life Scandinavia would be, although it has little in common with Scandinavia, being full of mountains and frozen steppes. In other words, think of the Nords on some of the strongest steroids and acid conceived by the gods themselves, or the Aesir on blood and lunar dust. Now dial them both up to 9001 to get the Warriors of Chaos.
- There are also vampire-worshiping gypsies (the Strigani) who offer vampires stolen children as human sacrifices.
- And Amazons.
- About the only one that don't qualify are the Skaven, with their crazy war machines and warpstone technology - although one might argue that their extreme xenophobia and crazy experiments makes them Those Wacky Nazis with a fair dose of Stupid Jetpack Hitler. Also, you can't have a real dark fantasy universe without a good dose of Black Death and other plagues. And who wouldn't dream of super-clever albeit demented laboratory rats on the run constantly endeavouring to conquer the world?
- Many of the factions in the science-fantasy counterpart Warhammer 40,000 are slighty less direct but still obvious take-offs of historical cultures and armies:
- Among the Space Marines, the Space Wolves and White Scars are based on Viking and Mongol stereotypes, respectively, and the Ultramarines smack of blue-armoured Roman Legionaries. The Black Templars are heavily based on Crusaders and Knights Templar (some relation). The Emperor himself is some mix of King Arthur and Jesus, but given that background fluff on the Emperor states he had assumed the guise of many historical figures, he may very well have been both of them.
- Then there's the Imperial Guard. Germany and Russia get two apiece: The Valhallans, despite the Nordic name, are Reds with Rockets ready to defend Emperorgrad from waves of Orks, whereas the Vostroyans are Space Cossacks. Both the Armageddon Steel Legion and the Death Korps of Krieg are Weltkrieg Germans, but we're not sure which are which: the Steel Legion conduct Blitzkrieg, but are pretty light-hearted by 40K standards, whereas the Death Korps slog through mud and wire but have more Fascistic levels of Grim Dark. Then you have the Catachans, who seem to be both sides of the Vietnam war; the Tallarn Desert Raiders, who appear to be the Arab Revolt with General Monty's equipment; the red-coated, pith-helmeted, and dark-skinned Pretorians (who, again, seem to represent both sides of the Anglo-Zulu Wars); and the vaguely Prussian Mordians. The Tanith First and Only are subtly Celtic, and while the Cadians are deliberately generic modern military-types; their name is supposedly a nod to Canada's tremendous and oft-overlooked contribution in the World Wars. New to the Imperial Guard lore are the Arkhan Confederates, who are more or less the Confederate States of America, complete with grey uniforms and racist undertones.
- The Cadians also give off a vaguely Soviet style - if the Valhallans are the Red Army of WWII, the Cadians are the Soviet Army of the late '70s-'80s. Especially given their names ("Shock Troops"), the fact that 10% of them form the sinister sounding "Interior Guard" provost squads, and the city names (Kasr [insert name here] is similar to [insert name here]grad). The way in which the entire planet is sitting there, armed and ready for war, constantly churning out battle machines is also analogous to the Cold War and the way the armies in Germany stared at each other for decades. The routes into/out of Eye of Terror is somewhat similar to the planned-for Soviet/NATO invasion routes into the other's country: the Cadian Gate is the North German Plain, the Arx Gap is the Fulda Gap and the usually impassable Rubicon Straits are the Danube River Valley.
- The Blood Ravens are somewhat based on Greece throughout its history. Though they're also often compared to the Romapeople, with their nomadic, fleet-based structure, use of psychic divination and rampant kleptomania.
- The Mantis Warrior chapter are a somewhat subtle take on Japan. They don't have much obviously Asian styling apart from being a successor of the Mongol-influenced White Scars, but they do have a ninja-like talent for camouflage and misdirection as well as warrior monks who are in a permanent meditative trace state. Also, their chapter was decimated after they backed the losing side in a major war and its homelands were occupied, a shame which they still struggle with and shapes their culture into the present. The biggest giveaway, however, is their insect motif and love of motorized cavalry.
- Planet Armageddon, homeworld of the aforementioned legion, with its whole population constantly at war, and its extreme pollution, is a twisted mirror of modern Germany. Germany's population is quite pacifist, and extremely environmentalist, so, Armageddon is basically all of their nightmares made manifest.
- The Inquisition is, quite obviously, based on the Spanish Inquisition, with a bit of Ghostapo, and all of the worst fascists in history, really.
- The Orks started life as a caricature of British football hooligans (as in the Warhammer fantasy setting), and come complete with slang and thick Cockney accents. They mostly stay pretty close to their roots, too.
- The Tau Empire are in some ways an East Asian jumble. Their military equipment is strikingly Animesque, and they have nebulously Oriental accents and a Taoist-Confucianist philosophy. They refer to humans as Gue'la, they have single black cables running out of their suits, and they are all about the Collective Greater Good. They're also a small, isolated yet imperialistic people who spread out quickly, encountered many other cultures and assimilated them into their own, and through diplomacy and trade (and the occasional violent conflict) left a large cultural impression in spite of their own modest numbers, which all sounds quite familiar...
- The Eldar were Asianesque first, an Japanese in particular. They even have katanas, shuriken, and back-banners (especially on the Wraithlords). Eldar names and non-visual aspects of their culture are also somewhat influenced by Celtic Mythology, it would seem.
- Also somewhat apparent in the Chaos Space Marines, too. Most notably would be the Thousand Sons, whose armor and accessories are based ancient Egyptian style, with Pharaoh-like crowns on their helms. The architecture of Prospero further proves this fact with pyramid-shaped architecture. The Night Lords might also be Slavic-inspired, too, with their whole "terrors in the night" schtick and their Primarch Konrad Curze being a fusion of Batman and Vlad the Impaler. As in regular Warhammer, many of the other Chaos factions resemble vikings.
- The Necrons have some ancient Egyptian about them, and sometimes Mayan and Mesopotamian too— basically they have influences every pyramid-building culture.
- The Dark Eldar's practice of raiding and capturing slaves whose souls they consume to stave off a Chaos God who will eat them if they don't is reminiscent of Mesoamerican cultures, who believed the world would end if they didn't perform human sacrifice. They also have Roman-style Colosseum battles, and their troop transports look like ancient triremes◊. Apart from that, they're more inspired by old-style faeries and elves and bloodsucking creatures of the night rather than any human culture. According to the designers, the Dark Eldar borrow from the bloody excesses of many classical high cultures, not just the Romans, to emphasise that they are highly sophisticated and civilized degenerates, not just savage barbarians - their tyrannical big cheese is called Asdrubael (after the Carthaginian Hasdrubal) for example, and a lot of their names and terminology derive from classical sources (incubi, succubi, Talos, Cronos, Hekatrix, Haemonculus, Animus Vitae, Medusae, Lhamaeans, etc.
- This is part of the basic premise of AEG's 7th Sea; every nation is an exaggerated version of a nation in 17th-century Europe. Avalon is England (with the Highland Marches as Scotland and Inismore as Ireland), Castille is Spain (with its own Spanish Inquisition), Montaigne is France, Eisen (name means "iron") is Germany, Vodacce is Italy, Vendel (which means "banner") is Holland, Ussura is Russia, and the Vestenmanavnjar are the Vikings. There's also the Crescent Empire, which is based off the Ottoman Empire. Cathay, like in Warhammer, is an archaic name for Imperial China and the setting is an analogue thereof. Last, the Midnight Archipelago is a savage version of Polynesia.
- Castille is an example of Istanbul Not Constantinople. It was one of the kingdoms that were united to form Spain (Aragon, Leon, and Navarra being the others).
- Likewise, AEG's Legend of the Five Rings setting puts a number of rival Japanese samurai clans on a China-like map under the control of a strong Imperial house - but not strong enough that the clans aren't constantly fighting each other. One of the clans, the Unicorn, has strong Mongolian influences.
- Given joking justification in the world of Yrth, the "house setting" for fantasy gaming in GURPS - many cultures there resemble those of ancient and medieval Earth, but that's because they were founded by refugees from Earth, accidentally transported to Yrth by a truly humongous critical failure on a powerful spell.
- The nation of Sahud arose from Japanese, Chinese, and Korean peasants recreating their culture from memory ... resulting in a typical RPGs Asian mishmash with shades of Monty Python.
- Loosely speaking, the four major nations in Reign are Fantasy Counterpart Cultures. Dindavara is feudal China, Uldholm is the Nordic nations, the Truils are the Germanic tribes, and the Empire is roughly Elizabethan England crossed with Imperial Rome in its decline. However, it does some very interesting things from this base framework... to the point that Uldholm in particular is only a Fantasy Counterpart Culture in the loosest sense of the term.
- The Riddle Of Steel has lots of Fantasy Counterpart Cultures in its game world, including Sarmatov (Poland), Otamarluk (Turkey) and Tengoku (guess), alongside fantasy staples such as RenFaire Kingdom and Barbarian Hero Land. Consequently it's often used for Earth-based historical games, with or without the more blatant fantasy tropes.
- The wargame Hordes of the Things (released by Wargames Research Group, better known for its historical games) points out that the inhabitants of fantasy worlds think of orcs and goblins much as medieval Europeans thought of Mongols, and for essentially the same reason. It's no coincidence that HoTT's goblin army handles similarly to DBA's Mongol army in play. Other games that play on this connection include the aforementioned Birthright, which features a goblin khanate.
- Name a real life culture. It's somewhere in Exalted. In particular, The Realm appears to be what would happen if ancient Rome, modern-day America, and China had a baby. Lookshy resembles a Magitek Sparta, and the Linowan have many similarities to Native Americans, while the Northwestern tribes have a very Nordic feel to them. Then there's the ancient Aztec dinosaur people...
- The Realm's satrapy system is almost exactly the same as the one used by the Persian Empire, down to the name used. Yes, THAT Persian Empire. That's why Lookshy kicked their ass.
- Autochthonia, as a world, is Industrial Revolution Europe, with its endless mazes of factories, almost universal reliance on gruel for nutrition, and decidedly crapsack feel. In recent updates, the crapsack has been dialed down a bit, and the individual Autochthonian nations have been given more emphasis in recent times.
- The general Exalted culture design philosophy was to make cultures have babies. Features of one, aesthetics of another, or something more complicated. So yes, the Realm is Rome (legions), China (jade, rice) and Persia (satrapies.) Autochthon is, well, modelled more on Metropolis, but it's mostly an illiterate crapsack industrial world with Mesoamerican iconography and strong states that take care of the citizens.
- Battletech's nations all have a bit more depth to them, but they all can be looked at this way on the surface. Of the various superpowers, the Draconis Combine is mostly Japan, the Federated Suns is mostly Britain, the Capellan Confederation is mostly Chinese, the Lyran Commonwealth is mostly German, and the Free Worlds League, with its multiculturalism, federalism, and republicanism in a Feudal Future, is vaguely American. The Inner Sphere as a whole is medieval Europe, with ComStar as the Catholic Church, and the Clans are the Mongol Horde.
- The location and culture of Dogs In The Vineyard are similar to the Mormon-settled Deseret Territory of early Utah.
- Iron Kingdoms most of its factions are Steam Punk counterparts. Cygnar are Americans mixed the British Empire. Khador is imperial Russia with the color scheme of the Soviet Union. The Protectorate of Menoth are based of the early crusades, with the Knight Templar theme exaggerated.
- Mutant Chronicles: The Megacorps are derived from different cultures, despite being corporations instead of nations. Capitol is the USA in the Vietnam War. Bauhaus is composed of various European elements, such as France, Germany, Russia, Austria, and Italy. Imperial are based off the British Empire along with Scottish highlanders. Mishima is medieval Japan with Samurai who strictly follow the Bushido code. The Brotherhood are the combination of The Knights Templar, The Teutonic Knights and the Knights Hospitaller.
- Flintloque was just a fantasy version of the Revolutionary Wars with British Orcs, French Elves, Prussian Dwarfs and Russian Undead.
- Played with in ''Traveller. The Terran Confederation is rather like a space USA. The Vilani have a vaguely Confucian feel to them. The Third Imperium very much resembles The British Empire. The Sword Worlds interestingly enough are a deliberate attempt to justify a Viking example; not only are they largely Scandinavian decent but they were influenced by a nativist ideological movement called The Viking Revival. However it is a bit of a subversion, simply because Swordies seem a more instinctively rooted people rather then a wandering people. While they occasionally go on epic space voyages they don't do it very often and prefer their plot of ground. As for the Aslan, they are kind of like generic tribesfolk, though they have their own characteristics unique to them.
- Fading Suns: The Empire in general is vaguely reminiscent of the Holy Roman Empire, in being a loose confederation of noble houses with a close relationship to the church that emerged from a dark age. Though it's not emperors who are elected so much as regents, who nevertheless ruled in the nearly five centuries between Emperor Vladimir Alecto's assassination and Alexius Hawkwood's coronation.
- House Hawkwood are Anglo-Germanic/Scandinavian/Celtic, with an upbeat, anything-you-do-a-Hawkwood-can-do-better, noblesse oblige attitude (in short, Atreides Expy);
- Hazat are Hispanic with roots in our Latin America with appropriate machoistic, honour-obsessed culture;
- Decados are Russians with a backstabby mentality quite out of Renaissance Italy, and they like it (the House Harkonnen Expy);
- Li Halan is a mix of Chinese and Japanese with an added twist of being fervently religious after a great reformer turned them from their sorcerous and pagan ways;
- al-Malik are sophisticated Arabic/Semitic types with occasional dashes of Hindu, who are fond of philosophy and trade and speaking in Ice Cream Koans (also limousine liberal Space Jews);
- Apart from the minor houses (of whom some have a distinct cultural feel, while others are too insignificant) there are also Vuldroks (the Space Vikings), Kurgans (the Space Caliphate, another kind of Space Arabs mixed with Mongol elements), and Zuranists (a kind of Space Gypsies and Space Jews mix). Alien races are usually Space Elves and/or Noble Savages.
- A number of settings in Magic: The Gathering: Kamigawa is based on feudal Japan, Theros is Ancient Greece with a few tweaks and a bunch of lion-men, the Alaran shard Bant owes a lot to a heavily idealised knightly Europe while Naya sports Mayincatec styling on the few cards it has not focused on big stompy things, and the five clans of Tarkir are visually based on Persia (Azban), Shaolin monks (Jeskai), Indonesia and Thailand (Sultai), the Mongols (Mardu) and early Siberian tribes (Temur).
- In Ironclaw the major houses of Calebria (one letter removed from a region in Italy) are based on different Western European cultures. The reigning House Rinaldi is based primarily on Renaissance Italy, with some aspects of the Roman Empire in decline. The Avoirdupois seem to be French while House Doloreaux is probably based on some Germanic culture. And house Bisclavret is rather blatantly Scottish down to their kilts, while their "savage" cousins in the Phelan tribes are Irish pagans. While in the Book of Jade supplement Zhōngguó goes so far as to share the name of its real life counterpart.
- Twice Blessed has Ustav, which is obviously Russia, Lajuria, which is obviously Spain, and others.
- As mentioned in the page quote, Azure City of The Order of the Stick is one of mostly Japan and a little of the rest of East Asia also. We haven't seen much of the rest of the world, but it seems from the Pantheons the North will be equivalent to the Vikings, the West will be Mesopotamian, and the East would be Greek if the Eastern gods still existed to make this version of the world.
A single panel glimpse of the other Southern Lands suggests they're Southeast Asian, Chinese, Himalayan, and Indian. The Western Continent turns out to be mostly warring Evil Empires and various Lizard Folk, although they do worship the Mesopotamian gods.
- Sorcery 101 uses this with the England counterpart called Terra. It's more an Alternate History world where some placenames differ than a fantasy counterpart.
- Dominic Deegan has a several fantasy cultures that are strongly flavored by real-world counterparts: the Callanians are medieval western Europeans (knights, castles, feudalism, etc.), Semashi are renaissance Italian (high culture and homeland of numerous renowned composers with names like Ciarenni and Montefiore; being as they're dark-skinned humans, it also suggests Caribbean influence), the werewolves are Russians (living in northern latitudes and drinking lots of vodka), the Nagasta are Japanese (island-dwellers who are renowned for their seafood and traditional martial arts), and the orcs are Magical Native Americans.
- Like Sonic the Hedgehog, one of its major influences, Exterminatus Now has Taika—basically Japan according to near-future sci-fi anime, complete with Humongous Mecha and secluded daemon-hunting orders—and Rodina, which we haven't actually seen but is apparently the EN equivalent of Glorious Mother Russia.
- A Loonatic's Tale has an assortment; Nigota for Britain, and both Mercia and Mysteel for America (the trick is that they're versions of America from different time periods, and different attitudes; Mercia is the more peaceable colonial America, while Mysteel is a caricaturized version of modern America and our tendency towards ultra-patriotism, gun-nuttery, and warmongerdom).
- The Erogenians in The Challenges of Zona are somewhat idealized Celts while Kivallia seems to be Plantagenet era England.
- Niyam and the Fae in Even In Arcadia are counterparts to 19th century China. Seen further when it becomes apparent that the Gaians are trading with them in drugs much like the British did before the Opium Wars.
- In Harkovast, almost all the races are fantasy counterparts to real world ancient cultures, such as the medieval European Darsai or the feudal Japanese Tsung-Dao.
- Snow By Night takes place in a world that resembles the real one during Colonial Era, with Japethe corresponding to Europe, Everique corresponding to North America, Saronne corresponding to France, and Aradie corresponding to Quebec / Canada.
- Parodied in Homestuck by Gamzee Makara, who comes from a sort of fantastical, Interfaith Smoothie religion that worships the Insane Clown Posse. Except due to shenanigans, his religion actually inspired Insane Clown Posse, not the other way around. Gamzee's religion was actually inspired by an Eldritch Abomination.
- Later on we learn trolls had a counterpart of Christianity, complete with a Jesus analogue, though it never moved past the "underground cult oppressed by an empire" stage (I guess that makes the Troll Empire Romans?). It's hinted that it was more successful in an Alternate Universe.
- The trolls in general share many cultural practices with the Spartans, but it's uncertain if this was intentional.
- We later find out that Damara, the pre-scratch version of The Handmaid, is from "Alternasia", which is this to Japan.
- The Sahtan in Vattu come off as Rome by another name.
- Done purposefully in Futurama with a planet modeled on Ancient Egypt. And a planet modeled on American baseball teams. Also, the One World Order that governs Earth is a presidential federal republic with a constitution, two-party political system, Supreme Court, capital in Washington, D.C., citizens referred to as "Earthicans," and the American flag with the stars replaced with a picture of Earth. This may not actually be an example, however, as the episode A Head in the Polls implies that the Earth government may actually be the United States government.
- Related to the first example, it also hilariously inverts the usual Ancient Aliens shtick: Turns out the aliens modeled their culture after the Egyptians, who taught them the secrets of space flight.
- The Olympics included The Republic of French Stereotypes (No one likes them!). Especially hilarious when you consider that an early episode established that the French language no longer exists.
- And Space Jews!
- And the Native Ameri-... Martians from Amy's home planet.
- In a sillier example, there's the Globetrotter Homeworld, and entire world and culture based on... the Harlem Globetrotters.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Air Nomads are primarily based on Shaolin and Tibetan Buddhism, the Water Tribes on circumpolar indigenous cultures such as the Inuit, the Earth Kingdom on Imperial China, and the Fire Nation on a combination of Imperial China and post-Meiji Imperial Japan. To make things more complicated:
- The near-extinction of the Air Nomads can be paralleled with that of the invasion and sinicization of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party.
- The Southern Water Tribe also borrows from various Polynesian and Native American cultures, while the architecture of the Northern Water Tribe capital also adds a heavy dose of Chinese and bits of Nordic influence.
- While the political situation of the Earth Kingdom (particularly in the capital of Ba Sing Se) parallels that of the Qing Dynasty's last days, its culture draws from every Chinese dynasty; Toph's family wears Tang-era clothing, Aunt Wu's usage of oracle bones for divination comes from the Shang Dynasty, etc. It also has areas influenced by Vietnamese tribal cultures (the Foggy Swamp Tribe, despite their Mississippi Delta accent), pre-Meiji Japan (Kyoshi Island), the Gobi Desert (the Shi Wong desert), and Korea (as seen with the hanbok worn by Song in the episode "Cave of Two Lovers"), each paralleling a real-life tributary held by Imperial China. And finally, in the sequel series The Legend of Korra, we meet an Earth Kingdom villain clearly based off the Chinese communist revolutionary Chairman Mao Zedong.
- More specifically, Kyoshi Island parallels early Ryukyu Kingdom Okinawa, being a small semi-independent island nominally on the side of the Earth Kingdom/China but strongly Japanese in culture.
- Like Imperial Japan, the Fire Nation is an authoritarian volcanic archipelago state technologically superior to its neighbors, with a coal-based military-industrial complex that justifies its conquests with the premise of "sharing prosperity" and uses methods like emperor worship and schoolbook propaganda to control its people. However, its material culture is primarily Chinese.
- The Fire Nation also utilizes elements of Thai architecture, most noticeably in the roofing.
- The geology of the Fire Nation capital was based on Iceland, which may seem a little weird until you remember that Iceland is one of the most tectonically active places on the planet.
- Their association with fire and some of the words they use seem to indicate tones of Indian culture.
- The ancient city of the Sun Warriors (the precursors to the Fire Nation) is based off a combination of Mesoamerican and Southeast Asian architecture, while their clothing seems to be primarily derived from Southeast Asian tribal cultures, particular the headdresses which resemble Iban warrior headdresses.
- As all these examples show, the real-life parallels with the nations aren't exactly one-to-one.
- The Transformers (the original '80s cartoon) had the "Socialist Democratic Federated Republic" of Carbombya, whose leader was "Supreme Military Commander, President for Life, and King-of-Kings" Abdul Fakkadi, whose capital city's population was "4000 people and 10000 camels", and which was so stereotypically Arab and stereotypically evil that it prompted the departure of Casey Kasem—voice of Cliffjumper, Bluestreak, and the Teletraan-1 computer and of Lebanese descent—from the show.
- Super Friends did this a lot with alien worlds. There was Camelon the medieval planet, Texacana the cowboy planet, Zaghdad the Arabian Nights planet, etc.
- TaleSpin had the Thembrians, warthog residents of a bureaucratic republic clearly intended to be analogous to Soviet Russia. Then there was Panda-La, a nation full of panda bears who were such blatant Asian stereotypes that the episode in which they appeared was eventually pulled from the lineup by Disney.
- The Blizzarians in Storm Hawks are basically a species of Canadian furries (who live on the same planet as the human characters), complete with sometimes adding "Eh?" to the ends of their sentences. The series itself was made in Canada.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Zecora the zebra in is obviously supposed to be from an African counterpart culture, given her accent and the fact that that her hut is decorated with stylized African masks. She was even meant to speak Swahili in her few foreign language lines, but the staff couldn't find a translator in time and resorted to writing invented words that mimic the general sound of Swahili. The canon explanation is that Zecora "speaks Zebra."
- The buffalo tribe in "Over a Barrel" were obviously supposed to be the Plains Indians in the "Cowboys vs. Indians" setup of the episode. Some found an element of Unfortunate Implications in the fact that the Native Americans were made a distinctly different species from the more Westernized ponies. This became significantly less controversial once cows, donkeys, griffons, minotaurs, and various other creatures become standard sentient characters.
- Pinkie Pie apparently grew up on what is supposed to be a fantasy counterpart Amish rock farm!
- Pegasus ponies in general seem to take some influence from Classic Greek culture (which makes sense, considering pegasi are creatures from Greek mythology). Their architecture and fashion seem decidedly Hellenistic, and they were portrayed as a Sparta-like martial culture in a "flashback" to old times.
- Meanwhile, the other two types of ponies both represent Western Europe, but apparently evolved socially at different rates: In the aforementioned "flashback," the unicorns are stuck in The High Middle Ages with a feudal monarchy, while the earth ponies dress like continental Europeans (from France, the Netherlands, and Germany in particular) during The Renaissance and have elected a chancellor.
- The setting of the Daring Do book series is quite plainly a pulp fiction-style depiction of South America, complete with Aztec/Mayan stone ruins and a villain, Ahuizotl, taken from Aztec mythology.
- Season 3 introduces the Crystal Empire, which blends late-Victorian architecture, Crystal Spires and Togas fashion sense, and medieval/Renaissance sporting events.
- "Magic Duel" features visiting delegates from Saddle Arabia, which is a stand-in for... well, guess.
- Actually subverted, seeing how the male delegate carries a crescent moon coat-of-arms, and Saudi Arabia does not have this as its crest (as one of very few such countries).
- Even in the present day: locations in Equestria are based on different cultures of different eras:
Ponyville seems to be based on 17th to 19th century Europe with their building's architecture mostly being timber-framed cottages which were popular in places like England, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Scotland, and Switzerland from the Renaissance age to the 19th century.
Cloudsdale is based off ancient Greece.
Manehattan is roughly based off 1940's New York City but with all the cars replaced with horse-drawn carriages. Some of which are painted like yellow checker cabs.
Appleoosa is a 19th century American wild-west settlement, similar to those seen in Westerns.
Canterlot seems to be inspired by France with a dash of Britain.
- The official map of Equestria reveals significant similarities to North America, albeit with as many horse puns as they can stuff in ("Manehattan" and "Fillydelphia" being the most obvious)
- In Equestria Games, in addition to the Saddle Arabians (who are more horse-like than pony), there are pony-like delegates from other cultures: a mare with a half-sun-like headdress akin to the Incan or Mayan culture, and a stallion with a very Mesopotamian headdress, beard, and hair/mane style. We find next episode these two are representatives from Maretonia.
- Amusingly, despite Aladdin taking place in an Arabian counterpart, its major design inspiration was a neighbor of the Middle East, Iran - homeland of the script supervisor, who brought pictures of his city, and of Persian miniatures. Shades of the curved Arabic calligraphy are still seen, specially in how words (and credits) are written.