Alternate World, Similar History:
Magic exists, in both Arcane and Divine forms. One (or more) God(s) are real, and can intervene in the world. The lines between nations and ‘races’ are codified and far clearer than in our own history. Creatures of myth and legend (Dragons, Vampires, Witches, Sea Serpents, etc) exist. In our own Earth history in the 15th and 16th centuries, most believed in magic anyway, so it shouldn’t be seen as a drastic departure. There are no magic shops, no magic flying ships, no public School of Wizardry. There are sagely advisors rumoured to dabble in future-telling, witches that give the evil eye and turn into cats, and Inquisitions to hunt both of them down. There are miracles performed by the devout that heal the sick, cure diseases, turn water into wine, and bring people back from the dead. They’re rare, of course, but the world is still superstitious.
You might hold a thought expiriment imagining how/when history in our game world might have diverged from our real world as a result of magical influence, actual divine presence, and clear differences in races and presence of ‘monsters.’
Instead, let us imagine that those presences are peripheral, just where historical superstition would have placed them. Everyone ‘knows’ that miracles are real, witches give the evil eye, Vampires haunt the night, and King Arthur fought a Dragon with a Magic Sword and a Wizard ally, even though practically no one has ever seen these things. The influence of these fantastic elements have played a relatively inert historical role; although the details of any past even might be different than in our world (Jesus actually rose from the dead) the resulting history could have happened either way – it only matters that billions of people believe Jesus rose from the dead 2000 years later, whether or not it happened.
Instead of the world classified as “Spanish,” “French,” etc., replace those with D&D races by stereotype from a Spanish perspective. Roughly: Spain, Portugal, and Italy are inhabited by Humans. Elves replace the French, while Eladrin (the ‘weirder elves’) make up the English. Germans are clearly dwarves. It gets progressively more racist from there. The Spanish Humans just recently signed the Treaty of Grenada, removing the last Half-Orcs (Moors) in Iberia and overtures of the fledgling Spanish Inquisition target both the muslim half-orc population and the Jews (Gnomes). Everyone in sub-saharan Africa is called an orc (regardless of differences that actually exist) and everyone in mainland and eastern Asia is called a goblin.
Setting: Second voyage of Christopher Columbus to what he still thinks is the West Indies. 17 ships and 1500 people seek sea routes to China, Japan, and India, a trip financed by the Spanish Crown as well as a number of private investors. PC’s are elite but somewhat clandestine operatives for one or more factions from the old world with vested interests and agendas.