Random half-formed idea created in chat, decided to write it down for posterity.
What if Hashirama's dream never succeeded, and the village system didn't begin with an alliance between Uchiha and Senju?
What if the world still lived by pure clan affiliation?
The major players- the two continental superpowers, the Uchiha Clan and Senju Clan. They are led by Fugaku Uchiha and Tsunade Senju. We've also got the fuinjutsu specialists the Uzumaki Clan, led by Nagato Uzumaki, with notables in the form of Kushina Uzumaki, Karin Uzumaki, and Naruto Uzumaki.
Minato Namikaze, Naruto's father, is an extremely powerful clanless ninja, and an idealist. He wanders the continent attempting to gain support for his idea of a single village, where clans could live together. He has gained a small but scattered following, which includes his mentor Jiraiya, Kakashi, and others.
But as Hashirama never distributed the tailed beasts in his "balance of power" at the first kage summit, the tailed beasts roam free, and usually never interest themselves in the affairs of humans. For example, the Sand Nomads have to watch out for Shukaku assaulting their settlements every full moon. One of these tribes contains the man who would have become the Fourth Kazekage, and his children Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro. Gaara can still control his sand, but his messed-up mental state is due to his father raising him as a personal weapon and his own trump card.
I had some semblance of a plot where Naruto was forcibly made a jinchuuriki, and escapes with Kushina's help from the Uzumaki village, as jinchuuriki are banned among the great nations. Anxious to eliminate him before word spreads and other tribes unite against them, the Senju and Uzumaki send a manhunt out after Naruto, who is traveling with Kakashi to look for Minato. I don't really know.
Questions. Comments. Latin.