You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
April 10, 2021, 09:08:07 am

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Platinum Send us your theme!

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline  (Read 311 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline DallasTopic starter

  • World-Building Enthusiast, Dramatic Smut and Plot Weaver, Friend to All; Doors Always Open
  • Knight
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Location: Houston, TX (U.S.)
  • Gender: Male
  • I roleplay with new members, too! Hit me up!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 2
So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« on: January 08, 2021, 12:45:01 am »
So, I have this idea for something. An Alternate Earth concept that forks a bit into a drastically different tangent. There are some things I wanted to keep in this world. Think things like... we still have smart phones, world social media networks and stuff like that. However, some major things are different politically.

The United States and other countries might be fractured between sub-state fiefdoms. Shadowrun kind of does this starting with John Lennon of all things. But I am wondering when might be an interesting time to create the “split” tangent given our history.

My story idea is set a couple of years after our current year. And I am just wondering... where do I even begin? What big event could have changed things drastically on a map politically while retaining some concept of a crumbling society?

This is sort of a “What if we took a time machine to kill Hitler, but something even worse happened?” sort of thing. Except I don’t want to do THAT one for many reasons. I am trying to think of something that could have changed the world drastically in the late 1980s to early 1990s that would have changed a lot of things in the world (which would essentially allow me to make shit up the more I pull away from actual history.

On one hand, I like the idea of picking a specific event and pulling away from that point in time. On the other hand, I feel like it would be better to be vague about it and never explain when the timeline diverges. This is harder than I thought, because... you know, homework and stuff.  ^-^

Offline DallasTopic starter

  • World-Building Enthusiast, Dramatic Smut and Plot Weaver, Friend to All; Doors Always Open
  • Knight
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2013
  • Location: Houston, TX (U.S.)
  • Gender: Male
  • I roleplay with new members, too! Hit me up!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 2
Re: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2021, 12:47:29 am »
If this needs to be moved do to what gets talked about... I wouldn’t mind it being moved to Elliquiy U or something. And I guess PROC if it absolutely had to be.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt much to ask here since this is in the spirit of musing the hypothetical here.

Offline Mirrah

Re: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2021, 07:12:34 am »
When I'm having trouble coming up with details for a story, I let the idea incubate for a while. Sometimes that helps me.

I'd say that since it's your setting/world, you could pick any point in time that you want. The event could even be what causes the alternate timeline to diverge, and be entirely made up, since your imagination can fill all the details about it and you wouldn't have to wrack your brain for actual events to use. In my opinion, it's fiction, and just about anything you (and collaborative writers if you choose to have any) are comfortable with writing goes. War, famine, nuclear accident, pollution, sudden natural disasters, aliens, zombies, sickness, mutations--it could literally be anything, unless you're fixated on using an actual historical event. How far along is your vision for your world?

If there's any basis in any way on things in the real world though, homework is unavoidable. Search engines can be a great way to track down information for that, especially since you've already chosen which years you want to stick to (1980s to 1990s).

This thread seems okay here for now, but if that ever changes, sure thing.

Offline RedPhoenix

Re: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2021, 07:15:13 am »
I think if the the thread gets moved it's more of an "On Topic" discussion than anything else.

The thing about alternate histories is you don't have to justify them really. You can just say 'X happened differently and the result was drastic.'

If you're looking for that time period there are so many examples...

- Ronald Reagan is successfully assassinated.
- HIV goes airborne.
- The Berlin Wall never comes down
- a 9/11 level attack succeeds as a pre-emptive hit before Desert Storm
- NATO loses the war in the Balkans
- pick any earthquake in North America in that time frame and double it's power

But if your end game here is an alternate reality and not so much making a spectacle of a certain event in the past, it doesn't really need to be big and flashy. A seemingly minor technical development can have a huge impact on the way things go - i.e. a cure for the common cold means someone came into work instead of calling in sick and one of the defining disasters of our time got caught in advance and didn't happen. Or if you want to go more sic-fi an advancement in science or a discovery that makes nuclear power safe for hand held devices for example.

I am trying to think of something that could have changed the world drastically in the late 1980s to early 1990s that would have changed a lot of things in the world (which would essentially allow me to make shit up the more I pull away from actual history.

On one hand, I like the idea of picking a specific event and pulling away from that point in time. On the other hand, I feel like it would be better to be vague about it and never explain when the timeline diverges. This is harder than I thought, because... you know, homework and stuff.  ^-^

I kind of like the second idea honestly. The world is different, players aren't sure why exactly (or even characters if they get swapped over to the new reality) but you as the GM can drop little easter eggy hints as to why exactly, esp if figuring it out is part of the mystery of how to get home (although if it's a better world the question of 'do we want to' is equally interesting to me...).

Okay long and rambly, probably useless but I thought I'd give it a shot. :)
« Last Edit: January 08, 2021, 07:16:53 am by RedPhoenix »

Offline Mirrah

Re: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2021, 07:19:44 am »
I think if the the thread gets moved it's more of an "On Topic" discussion than anything else.

The thing about alternate histories is you don't have to justify them really. You can just say 'X happened differently and the result was drastic.'

If you're looking for that time period there are so many examples...

- Ronald Reagan is successfully assassinated.
- HIV goes airborne.
- The Berlin Wall never comes down
- a 9/11 level attack succeeds as a pre-emptive hit before Desert Storm
- NATO loses the war in the Balkans
- pick any earthquake in North America in that time frame and double it's power

But if your end game here is an alternate reality and not so much making a spectacle of a certain event in the past, it doesn't really need to be big and flashy. A seemingly minor technical development can have a huge impact on the way things go - i.e. a cure for the common cold means someone came into work instead of calling in sick and one of the defining disasters of our time got caught in advance and didn't happen. Or if you want to go more sic-fi an advancement in science or a discovery that makes nuclear power safe for hand held devices for example.

I kind of like the second idea honestly. The world is different, players aren't sure why exactly (or even characters if they get swapped over to the new reality) but you as the GM can drop little easter eggy hints as to why exactly, esp if figuring it out is part of the mystery of how to get home (although if it's a better world the question of 'do we want to' is equally interesting to me...).

Okay long and rambly, probably useless but I thought I'd give it a shot. :)

No, actually, this makes me kind of want to write an alternate timeline story now. >.>

Offline Oniya

Re: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2021, 01:13:39 pm »
I don't know if you've read any of Harry Turtledove's books, but he's pretty much the master of spec-fic (I'd say 'grandfather', but he'd probably reach through the Internet and smack me upside the head.  Terribly nice guy, and very encouraging to new writers.)

It sounds like you're going less for the 'how do we fix this and get home' idea, and more towards the 'nope, this is what happened, and here's the result.'  In that respect, having your splitting event nearer to the present is going to make things easier, as there's less stuff to cascade.  As an example from Red's list, if Reagan was assassinated (1981), then the 'Tear down this wall' speech would have never occurred (1987).  At best, it would have been given by Bush Sr (assuming that he got re-elected in 1984).  Without the speech, would the Berlin Wall have come down?  Without Reagan's charisma, would glasnost and perestroika even be recognized by my spell-check?   ;D

Offline Nowherewoman

  • No fantasy is large enough to contain my dreams.
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Aug 2014
  • Location: In the gray twilight.
  • Gender: Female
  • If death doesn't get you, the life surely will.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2021, 03:04:52 pm »
Some  possibilities:

-The flu epidemic of 1918 was far worse than in the real world, outperforming the Black Death as far as its effects on population and society.


-Nazi Germany got the bomb first. Or the Japanese did. Corollary: Japan did NOT bomb Pearl Harbor, or did it much later, thereby delaying the US' entry into the war until Hitler had consolidated his European gains.  The US and Canada are now in essence fortress nations, with Axis enclaves holding parts of South America and possibly West Coast beyond the Rockies.


-The 1908 Tunguska Event was, in fact, an exploding UFO.  Things were recovered that changed the sciences of physics and biology much earlier than the great advances later in the 20th century.


-One I'm using for a post-apoc scenario: massive solar storms wiped out the majority of the power, communications, and mechanical gear across the world. Something like this actually happened in 1859 (The Carrington Event), knocking out telegraphy grids and in some cases actually setting fire to telegraph paper at the sending stations. Combine this with the Second Great Awakening in US Christianity, and you have a possible setting for the establishment of a theocratic government.

Offline Inkidu

  • E's Resident Girlomancer, Dedicated Philogynist, The Compartive of a Superlative, SLG's Sammich Life-Giver
  • Lord
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Location: In a staring contest with the Void.
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2021, 09:34:23 pm »
Also keep in mind you don't need a huge event.

Not everyone knows this but the big divergent event in the Fallout series was that the transistor was not invented in 1947. It was just coming about a few years before the bombs dropped in 2077. That's right the pipboys run on thousands and thousands of tiny vacuum tubes.

One of my current novel projects is a Teslapunk post-apocalypse, and the point of divergence is what if Tesla and Westinghouse won the Current Wars instead of Morgan and and Edison. It doesn't have to be a full proof incident. It's just something to give you traction to place all the other ideas to suspend disbelief. In my novel for instance WWI still happens, but it was far, far more destructive, but WW2 never happens even by the time the story starts (which is 1972).

On the plus side the Beatles never broke up, on the downside rock and roll was never invented so they're just a big band group.

Offline Oreo

  • Centurion ~Clotho~ ~ALWAYS HUGGABLE~ Doddering Ailurophile ^_^
  • Guardian
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2009
  • Location: gettin outta bed, waging war with the voices in my head
  • Peace - Inspire positivity.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 2
Re: So... on making an alternate “what-if” timeline
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2021, 01:51:28 pm »
Another possible place for this if it starts panning out would be the World building forum.

Possibility: Green Peace is not a thing. Politically we are left with a gross depletion of resources, coal, oil, forestation, and nuclear energy has worse repercussions that expected...