GURPS Infinite Worlds Covers

Something that's always bothered me about some alternate history anthologies are the timelines which are only hinted on, but never fleshed out. I want to know what the rest of those worlds are like! GURPS Infinite Worlds is particularly bad about this, tantalizing us with sentence-long descriptions of an alternate world. Well, I'm setting up a thread to flesh out these worlds!

This thread is going to function much like my Oneshot Scenarios thread. I will be posting text with an accompanying map, but everyone is encouraged to contribute. I also encourage discussion on covers, both complete and incomplete. Feel free to post a cover of a world that's already been covered; I'd love to see people's different interpretations of the same world. However, please keep discussion and posts limited to the timelines featured in GURPS Infinite Worlds. While I am interested in other alternate history anthologies, that's not what this thread is for.
Dixie-1 & Midgard
Yes. Sorry, I should have made that clearer.

Great, in that case I have a couple.


This is Dixie from GURPS Alternate Earth, which also appears in Infinite Worlds as Dixie-1 (albeit in 1991 instead of 1985). The PoD is William Walker keeping control of Nicaragua and using that as a base to break the Union blockade of the Confederacy, allowing it to win the battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg in TTL) and therefore the war. The Confederacy conquers Mexico, the Union conquers half of Canada, Germany wins *WWI, India wins its War of Independence, all those four plus Russia get nukes and go into space, and here we are. It's the middle of a Union-Confederate Cold War equivalent that this world calls the Long Drum Roll, full of proxy wars and all that good stuff, and after a period of lowered tensions known as the Parade Rest things have heated up again, now that the Union (much more racially tolerant by now than in OTL) has elected its first black president at the same time as the Confederacy (which still has slavery(!!!)) elected a hardline racist. The Kaiserreich and India (experiencing a manufacturing boom in cheap electronics and so forth like OTL China) are both allied to the Union but they're certainly not allied to each other, which is opening up a whole new realm of tension.


And here's Midgard from GURPS Alternate Earths 2. It's a Norse-dominated world, naturally, with a successful Viking sack of Constantinople in 860 as its PoD. The Norse are able to use the treasure and Greek Fire they obtain from the attack to supercharge their raids and conquests and essentially demolish Christian Europe, leaving Scandinavia as the center and foundation of European culture. As a result things in Europe and the Norse realms (stretching into Russia and North America) are notably less religious and less feudal than in OTL - Thorism is as common as Christianity and neither can afford to be dogmatic, and Norse culture is one of laws, councils, and freemen (and thralls, but hey, who's counting) where the king is first among equals if there even is a king at all. Now in 1412, a number of reasons including the economic and technological benefits of the Silk Road link to China left by the Mongol invasions (ship designs, gunpowder, the printing press...) and the push factor of the Little Ice Age have combined to create a resurgence of Norse culture, characterized by innovation, instability, and prosperity, and above all else by Viking raids across the world, deep into Asia and the Americas, creating links of trade and culture across the world, forging new empires, and destroying old ones.
Funnily enough, my first entry is also Dixie-1. I chose this because not only is it the first timeline in GURPS: Alternate Earths, but it is also the first map in the first Map Thread here. I based this map primarily off Diamond's, but I did take a few ideas that Keperry used in his Dixie-1 but Diamond did not, such as an independent Asante. I avoided using OTL borders as much as possible for this, leading to some clashes with the Dixie-1 map available in Alternate Earths. I also broke up German Africa a bit more, because I thought the huge German blob was rather bland. I also interpreted the German-American relationship closer than Keperry did.

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Aeolus Description
If you don't mind, I thought I'd contribute:

The world of GURPS Alternate Earths 2 Aeolus, some 40 odd years on...

This is a world where William of Orange failed to make it to Britain in 1688, and James II ultimately succeeded (with some French subsidies) in overcoming Parliament. With Britain in the French court, the Bourbon's ambitions were realized, including even the dreamed of Spanish-French union, creating a Catholic superpower dominating Europe. Catholicism revives in Britain, and a series of hardline Protestant revolts brings a cycle of repression and hardening attitudes that leads to a large-scale immigration to the American colonies, where apocalyptic Protestantism leads a fervent new religious revival, in the end leading to a break from "Papist" Britain.

Of course, all things come to an end, and a 19th century Spanish rebellion plus an Austrian-Russian-pissed off minor German state alliance put an end to la glorie, to a considerable extent. The French and Spanish American colonies eventually departed as well. The Habsburgs had their own day in the sun, and even get a family member on the throne of Russia (the War of the Russian Succession ends up with the Romanov candidate in American exile), only in turn to fall to republican revolution: a unified multinational state rather than a bunch of wee republics results thanks to the brutal efforts of the Russian Habsburg Czar to crush the rebels regardless of ethnicity and reinstall his relative.

A second war would be needed to confirm the continued survival of the Republican Alliance, later the Federated Republics, with Habsburg Russia coming back for a second round and the French monarchy joining in, the Bourbons having come to the conclusion, with the rise of their own Republicans, that the Republics represented an existential threat to all that was good and French and Bourbon. This round ended with the collapse of both enemy powers in rebellion...

Today, the Federated Republics are the world's greatest industrial and scientific power, and with it's allies dominates Europe and what we would call Latin America, while the remaining absolute or at least authoritarian monarchies are on the defensive, but things are far from entirely rosy. The Republics face internal ethnic issues (the Magyars are being bitchy, the Belorussians want their own state, and everyone thinks the Germans are too powerful - fortunately the Germans can rarely agree on anything for more than five minutes straight, so the "unify all Germans in one mega-state" idea remains theoretical). There are ongoing efforts to create a pan-FR nationalism based, like US nationalism, on common principles, the historical struggles, democratic ideals, etc., which the more idealistic hope can be extended one day to the rest of Europe. The main Lingua Franca (heh) is German supplemented by French (still the second language of most educated people), and boy there have been a lot of proposed "neutral languages", from Latin to three or four version of *Esperanto. Multilingualism remains much more the norm than, say, the US OTL, and anyone who doesn't have at least two languages under their belt is considered a bit of a simpleton or assumed to have just fallen off the turnip truck.

The Federated Republics don't get along too well with their supposed French allies, who may be grateful on some level for the war bringing democracy, but can't help remembering that this happened due to the FR kicking their teeth in. They don't get along at all with the Russians, whose Republic is dominated by nationalist parties that want their Lost Lands back and who despise the Federated Republics secular, multi-cultural approach. Their Latin American allies, meanwhile, are a variegated if generally shaky bunch, aside from L'Argentine.

They also don't really get along with the American Commonwealth, which although it has democratized a bit (the office of Lord Protector lost quite a bit of its power to the Council of Judges, the Parliament-equivalent, after some truly spectacular corruption led to the removal from office of the last Protector) and mellowed a bit on religion (Catholics are now allowed to practice in the Commonwealth, although they still face legal trouble if they "corrupt youth" by teaching them about Catholicism), remains a dourly protestant and authoritarian "republic", and does not like the "libertine" and numerically mostly Catholic Federated Republics, which they see as a corrupting influence and a competitor for souls and minds in the darker places of the earth (as well as a commercial competitor. The "Covenanters" may be very religious-minded, but they also keep a very close eye on the bottom line, and are enthusiastic about practical technology and industry).

Of late, the Commonwealth has been expanding its influence overseas in the pursuit of profit and faith, and in putting an end to the slave trade, which in this world was never interrupted by European powers with other issues in mind: along with the Argentines, who are mostly in it for the national ego-expansion, they have expanded their influence into large areas of Africa previously mostly ignored by Europeans, which in turn has brought reactions from other powers. Northern Africa, which has seen a fair amount of state building and acquisition of European technique over the last century, seems unlikely to be colonized outright, but you never know...

The Commonwealth's great rival in North America is the Kingdom of Louisiana, ruled by the House of Orleans: they are currently in a bit of a relative decline, having been surpassed as an economic power by the Commonwealth, and although they succeeded in their ambition of seizing New France (roughly Ontario and points east) during the French revolution in spite of Commonwealth hostility, the Commonwealth made them pay a sizable pound of territorial flesh, albeit in thinly populated areas, for the privilege: the costs of the war and unrest in New France have emboldened local republicans. Still, the army remains loyal, and the capital of Orleans remains a partying sort of place.

The Republic of Mexico (formerly the Principate of Mexique) has had something of a native-Hispanic revival, and everyone tries to speak Spanish nowadays, even members of the elite who aren't really very good at it. It is also essentially a one-party dictatorship, but it is at least reliably anti-monarchy. Currently the government has its hands full with a Communistic Christian peasant movement in OTLs Central America, very interested in land redistribution and landlord decapitation.

Brazil is, well, Brazil, although the removal of the king was carried out very peacefully (he even has a pension), and has benefitted from an even messier collapse of central authority that OTL in Franco-Spanish America to expand beyond its OTL borders. Le Republique de L'Argentine, the most Frenchified of former Spanish colonies (both culturally and through immigration at a time Spanish settlers were few), speaks French in the cities, Franco-Spanish creole in the towns, and Spanish and native dialects out in the boondocks. As OTL it managed to boom economically through agriculture, and unlike OTL has been keeping up the momentum, and is seriously feeling its oats.

A bit of scramble for southern Africa is currently ongoing. Southernmost Africa and its mineral riches are held by the Boers or south African Dutch, of which there are rather more than OTL due to immigration from a homeland reduced to a mere French satellite. The fairly formidable kingdoms of Morocco and the Mahdist theocracy (not OUR Mahdi, but a historical parallel) dominate in the north, although the Mahdists are currently too isolated and backwards to project their power very much, having essentially peaked with the conquest of the weak post-Ottoman Mameluke Egypt and the capture of the Holy Cities, something both the Persians and Ottomans agree Something Must Be Done about, although mutual hostility prevents them from agreeing on anything.

The Ottoman Empire collapsed messily in civil war after various brutal defeats at the hands of the Habsburgs, and for a while the Middle East was rather fragmented, aiding in the rise of the latest Persian dynasty. For a while their more energetic ambitions seemed doomed to disappointment, the Turks (having revived, BTW, under a couple of competent Sultans in the last few decades) blocking them from the Mediterranean, the Russians pushing them out of Central Asia (although they regained a bit during the Russian civil war), and the Afghans being, well, Afghans, the oil money is now really starting to roll in, and ambitions are inflating again.

Armenia, a Persian client state, mostly came into existence as a result of Persian efforts to weaken the Turks, but don't tell an Armenian, who will regale you with endless stories of the self-sacrificing heroes and valiant fridged women who made the reemergence of their nation possible. And it's no good to agree, because then the drinking starts.

French India underwent some complex events during the Revolutionary period, with various local governors proclaiming loyalty to the republic, others to the king (fourth in line to the throne, but at least alive and kicking) in Nouvelle-Bretagne (Australia), while the Mahratha Confederation, traditional French vassal and source of mercenaries, decided to get some of their own back. The Republicans eventually won out, but lost quite a bit of territory, and their efforts to run Bengal through local clients seem to be in trouble as the native First Minister seems to be getting increasingly hard of hearing when meeting the French Resident. The most developed native Indian state, the Sikhs, are currently consolidating their position: conversion of Muslims and Hindus remains slow enough that they are not eager to take on a whole new bunch of Hindus with divided loyalties.

SE Asia managed to largely avoid colonization, although European and American economic influence is growing, and the pro-republican party in Vietnam is cozy with the Federated Republics. The absolute monarch in Thailand has no patience with that Republican nonsense, and is a bit miffed that the Conservative powers consider his country too backwards for a membership invitation. The Spanish East Indies (part of the shareout of the spoils after the Netherlands was forces to kiss pointy French shoe) is currently having an energetic rebellion, although what sort of government they are rebelling in favor of is currently a bit unclear. The Philippine Viceroyalty is actually doing fairly well, thank you, aside from that annoying Moro thing in the south.

Manchu China's collapse, delayed by a less aggressive Europe, came in time due to overpopulation, imported European ideas, foreign pressures (particularly Russian ones) and just good ol' dynastic decay. An attempt was made to establish a new dynasty, but although a bit more legitimate-looking than OTL's Yuan Shikai's, it was unable to establish its authority, and the interesting foreign notion of "republicanism" was given a shot: the new Republic remains shaky, and in a world where Socialist ideas have yet to find their Marx (or Engels) is an odd combination of republican and Confucian ideas quite unlike anything OTL. They have some territorial claims of their own, but currently are cautious about pushing them.

Japan was "opened up" when the American Commonwealth reacted rather badly to a massacre of missionaries, and currently is run by a corrupt, military-dominated oligarchy struggling to fully modernize to the point it can shake off the punishing unequal treaties imposed on it by the Commonwealth after their victory. Korea, on the other hand, was opened up _earlier_ than OTL by the Russians and has managed to develop a fair little military-industrial base and even gain some land from China (Korean "historical communities", natch).

Nouvelle Bretagne, which includes what we would call New Zealand, is peasanty and conservative, even earthy, its people famed for their capacity for drink, and have been rather proud of the King choosing them as their place of refuge. Up until recently, anyway, but some doubts are beginning to set in.

Going back to Europe, the collapse of French rule in Italy led to the various small states unifying under the leadership of the Papacy, the Pope's anti-French stand and progressive views making him a popular choice. The current Italian government is supposedly secular with the Pope as a figurehead of state, but he's still the Pope, and the Papacy is very influential, with the Church still having a bunch of fingers in the educational and healthcare systems. The current Pope is a bit of a reactionary, which has led to a considerable angry stir in the Italian intellectual classes, which (at least in their opinion) still rival anything the Federated Republics can show in spite of all their fancy-shmancy new universities.

The Netherlands is currently flourishing as part of a unified European economy and has picked up the Flemish part of OTL Belgium as a result of the French revolution, while Sweden is a rather grim police state and Spain is a cheerier and sunnier police state, and Greece gets awards for "most reactionary monarchy." Prussia, where attempted reimposition of Catholicism failed to take, is a constitutional monarchy, and has picked up Livonia and Courland as autonomous sub-kingdoms as a Federated Republics ally in the last war: there is a "unify with our fellow Germans in the FR" movement, but there is also a local patriotism, and in any event the other ethnicities of the FR think they have enough Germans already, thanks. (Now if the French would join too: but the French are only interested in joining clubs if they get to be president). France cultivates its own little sphere of influence abroad, and pursues a vigorous state-driven program of industrial development.

The United Kingdom, majority Catholic nowadays, has managed to successfully navigate from absolutism to constitutional monarchy (the king still retains some real power) without revolution, and keeping real political power concentrated in the hands of the old land-owning nobility by sharing the goodies with the new industrialist class. That, however, is leading to its own problems as an industrial boom has transformed much of England from a Green and Pleasant Land to a land of toxic fumes, slag heaps, and poisoned rivers, and massively expanded what OTL would be called the Proletariat - and they're not entirely content, to say the least.

The world is less developed than OTLs early 1980s, with much of the general tech level on a 1930s level, with theoretical science in places at a 1940s level: atomic power theories exist, but nobody is near building a bomb. Evolution is widely accepted, leading, alas, to a boom in new racist theories. [1]Radio is also booming, having essentially leapfrogged a slowly developing telegraph system before it became ubiquitous. The last few decades have seen a great boom in railway building, as such big states as Russia, Louisiana, and the Federated Republics have set to work on binding their nations together with steam locomotion. Internal combustion vehicles main technological progress has been due to military needs, rather than civilian, and personal cars remain mostly for the rich outside of a very few countries. There are a lot of trolley cars, and a fad for skyscraper building is pushing the limits of what can be achieved with concrete and steel beams.

One odd exception is aerospace, thanks to the precocious development of jet aircraft in the first Republican war. Jet passenger planes cross the Oceans, and there are manned satellites in orbit (partly due to the lack of advanced electronics. The transistor has not been invented, and although computers have developed with the need for ballistic calculations, etc., they are honkin' huge things full of vacuum tubes).

Economics is underdeveloped, with theory basically on a late 19th century level and everyone on the gold standard. Economic cycles are a problem, and there have been nasty economic bumps as a result of the wars, although thankfully nothing quite on the level of OTLs Great Depression. Socialism doesn't quite exist: there are various theories on how to create an economy friendlier to the Common Man, and some strong proponents of state redistribution through taxation, but the idea that history leads to specific economic states ending in a Worker's Paradise, if anyone proposed it would be seen as wackyness, possibly influenced by Christian apocalypticism such as the movement in Central America.

[1] Well, it remains forbidden to teach in the American Commonwealth, which at least removes a biological justification for racism. The Commonwealth, which eliminated the last of slavery in the 1840s, actually treats its black population fairly decently nowadays, although there remains a glass ceiling of sorts, and interracial marriages remain largely verboten outside of those crazies in New Hampshire. In Africa, black Covenanters (what members of the Commonwealth call themselves, aside from just "Americans") are often used to act as intermediaries between white Commonwealth members and Africans, but things are usually arranged so that the black soldiers, preachers, etc. are seen as being subordinate to white Commonwealthers: after all they don't want Africans starting to think they are _better_ than white people! (On the other hand, there is a bit of a problem with black "rogue" missionaries in the back country...)
If you don't mind, I thought I'd contribute:

The world of GURPS Alternate Earths 2 Aeolus, some 40 odd years on...

Brilliant, I'd love to have more people contributing! Since this thread is intended to be a repository of GURPS covers, if you want to post the other GURPS covers you've done (off the top of my head, you've done Caliph and Ezcalli), you are more than welcome to. :)
Nergal Description
Nergal, which is "more on topic"

This is based on the GURPS Infinite Worlds "Nergal" scenario, sans the black magic and interdimensional interventions.

In this world the Neo-Assyrians did rather better, crushing the Babylonians for good and all, knocking the Medes and Scythians back east, and incidentally wiping out the Jews and annihilating the independence of the Phoenician cities when they got uppity. (In the process preventing Monotheism from catching on and keeping most writing systems complex and literate-elite dependent). The Empire fell in time, as all empires do, but lasted long enough and extended far enough that it became, like the Romans OTL, the model for later Empires to emulate. Rome was butterflied, Carthage was never founded, and while Greece was not destroyed, being a bit on the fringes of Assyrian power, it was pillaged and raided enough to traumatize the heck out of the Greeks and send their development off in other directions: the eventual Greek Empire, of Italy, the Balkans up to the Danube, western Anatolia and (briefly) Syria and Egypt was a nasty enough piece of work that few mourned it's passing.

The current sixth Assyrian empire isn't really Assyrian anymore (it's creators were an Arab-derived people) but it seeks very energetically to emulate its predecessors. Human sacrifice (adopted, unlike the Alphabet, from the Phoenicians) takes place at the massive basalt and granite ziggurats at regular intervals (if not on the same scale as the MesoAmericans) and the guts of the sacrifices inspected for important omens. Energetic cultural assimilation is pushed hard, with mass population transfers only one mechanism: the Armenians have largely been wiped out as a separate people, and the Greeks survive as scattered pockets in rugged locations (Egypt remains a Problem). Warfare and expansion are pursued as the most important way for a king to maintain prestige, and current aims are to take all of *Italy from the Celtic Nerwa and secure the *Sind as a base for further expansion into India.

Human sacrifice, severe inequality, and frequent warfare are the norm of this world. Technology is late medieval and superstition rank. Cannon and gunpowder haven't been invented yet, although Celtic distillers have led to the invention of the Molotov Cocktail, the oil-rich Assyrians have a variety of spins on the Greek Fire concept, and the *Korean Taehanese have developed an interesting concept involving a partially evacuated chamber and very fine coal dust, which if successfully deployed does one hell of a job on the walls of besieged cities.

No gunpowder, you ask? The Chinese were hit by waves of Iranic invaders, starting with Sogdians knocked east, before the Warring State militarization had peaked, and the development of Sinic culture was rather disrupted: the current *Chinese are divided into multiple states, have an aristocratic and rather feudal social system, and aren't that big on scholarship, although their art and architecture is pretty gorgeous, as are the banquets at which captured elite enemies are ritually eaten. (Peasants are only _rarely_ eaten: after all, who knows what diseases they may be carrying?) They haven't invented paper either, although some Indians did invent printing.

Tamil south India is one of the more civilized parts of the globe: true, widows still burn to death, untouchables are still treated like crap, the rich oppress the poor, etc., but human sacrifice (aside from a certain amount of unofficial work on the part of the disciples of Kali Ma) is unknown, and there is enough of a balance of power between priesthood, kings, nobles and rich merchants that there is a fair amount of security of life and property for most of the population. Now as long as the Northerners don't successfully invade, exterminate the nobility, and convert a third of the remaining population into a dozen new sub-castes of Untouchable, things will be fine. (The Tamils are understandably cheering the Assyrians on).

The Americas have recently been discovered by *Europeans, and the native civilizations are probably screwed, although the Celts and Northmen are less crusade-minded and probably a bit cleaner than 16th century Europeans. (The Celts and Germanic peoples, after centuries of war and trade and God-swapping have come to see eachother as Fellow Warriors and get along fairly well nowadays, although the Germans still think of the Celts as bloody-minded putzes who couldn't organize an orgy in a whorehouse, while the Celts think of the Germans as anal-retentive perpetual downers with absolutely no taste in facial hair).

With no Romans or Carthaginians, the NW African coast passed through the hands of various peoples, Greeks, Egyptians, Celtic adventurers, etc. until some 700 years ago when Wiwurgh The Bloody-Handed came out of the mountains to found the first universal Berber Empire. Things have gone up and down in the interval, and the Celts briefly conquered much of the area during a period of disunity, but currently the area is united under a new dynasty which currently holds the strategic region of the straits. Not much for messing about in boats, the Berbers haven't made any conquests in the Americas, and in any event keeping at bay the Assyrians is the most important foreign policy objective.

Locals are a bit worried about the weather: the sun is currently in a solar minimum, and winters are colder than usual. Harvests have been poor in northern latitudes, and unrest has resulted. The complex fluctuations of sun, moon and Earth may in fact bring on a new ice age in a world with little burning of coal, and it may be up to the technologically precocious Bantu of South Africa to get the Age of Greenhouse Gasses going...
And here is the map:

I love how the powers on this Nergal are just as enthusiastic about human sacrifice as those in the canon timeline, even though it doesn't work. :p

Do you mind if I update this one to a development level comparable to the 20th century?
I love how the powers on this Nergal are just as enthusiastic about human sacrifice as those in the canon timeline, even though it doesn't work. :p

Do you mind if I update this one to a development level comparable to the 20th century?

Well, it wasn't very clear if was actually doing any good in the original. :)

Feel free, I'd like to see what you do with it.


Meanwhile, the Nerwaians visit 17th century Europe, and go "wait, you're burning people alive for what?"
Alright, here's my cover of Dixie-3. Yeah, I skipped Dixie-2. I'm not going to go in total numerical order, but I will be staying within a category until I finish that category. I'm doing the Dixies first, then the Reichs, then the Lenins, then probably the Britannias. From there, I don't know yet.

Dixie-3 was described as a world diverging from Homeline (read: OTL with futuristic characteristics) at the Battle of Gettysburg, much like Dixie-2. I don't know if the PoD during the battle is the same between the two Dixies; maybe it's different circumstances that lead to different Confederate victories? Not really relevant to my cover, but I would love to hear speculation on it. Anyway, the only other information we have on Dixie-3 is that the United States and Confederate States are both poor, corrupt satellites of the European powers. Far more realistic than Dixie-1! My thought process was that the American states are also locked in a Cold War-esque struggle, but this time they're the tails, not the big dogs. For this conflict, I decided to go with something quintessentially 19th century: the Great Game.

Dixie-3 is a world that revolves around the Great Game, and has for decades. Apart from the obvious divergence with Confederate victory in the American Civil War, Bismarck died earlier, and his successors were not nearly as successful in getting Germany united. Indeed, they succeeded in getting Austria, Russia and France united against Prussia. This so-called "Continental Entente" ramped up the already-extant Great Game, so the British naturally supported Prussian (and, later, Italian) interests on the continent. Russia's invasion of the Ottoman Empire in the 1880s was thwarted by the British sailing into the Black Sea on behalf of the Ottomans. And naturally, the American states were drawn into the conflict, with Russia supporting the Union and Britain supporting the Confederacy. The greatest war scare was the civil war within the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1915-1919), after Emperor Franz Ferdinand attempted to create a "Triple Monarchy" and introduce universal male suffrage in Hungary. Russian forces massed in Austrian Galicia ready to penetrate further into the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but threats of Prussian intervention prevented them from doing so. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire remained under Imperial control, albeit with a few pieces missing and as a neutral buffer state.

The Great Game's influences cause other major changes in history. The Scramble for Africa is far more tense, leading to the survival of native kingdoms like Mali and Abyssinia, which masterfully played the colonial powers off one another. India, the crown jewel of the British Empire, was a major source of Russian agitation, particularly after the British directly annexed Afghanistan after deposing of a pro-Russian emir. The Indian independence movement, having a far stronger hand in negotiations with Britain, successfully negotiated for India's independence in the 1920s. However, the Indians are still officially ruled by the British crown, and remain divided between themselves; just as planned. Japan's adventures in the East came to a halt when French and Russian forces defeated them during the Russo-Japanese War of the 1890s. While the Chinese won the Taiping Rebellion, it did not stop another peasant rebellion, this one inspired by both Chinese nativism and Marxism, to topple the Qing in the north and force them to retreat south, under British protection. And of course, between 1863 and 1937, there have been five Balkan Wars.

There has been no Great War, thankfully, although the proliferation of new chemical and aerial weaponry makes the idea of a Great War horrifying. Even the slaughterhouses that were America and China in the last century would seem like a teatime argument. Rivalries are flaring up, Nowadays, the world's eyes are on Brazil. The British-backed Imperials are fighting a vicious urban and jungle war against the French-backed Republicans. Independent factions, mostly native tribes, have taken to fighting against both sides. Foreign radicals are pouring into the Republican side, causing fractures among the Brazilian Republican Army, and "volunteers" such as elements of the French Foreign Legion, the British Free Corps and the Confederate Expeditionary Force are fighting on behalf of the competing governments. While it is unlikely that the Brazilian Civil War will spiral out of control and become the catalyst for the Great War, it has become a testing ground for the world's newest weapons and military strategies. If there were ever a Great War, it will be a bloodbath.

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Caliph Description
A somewhat modified GURPS Caliph before the war, with the space-filling empires thing reduced a bit and the tech level a bit less magical.

It is the year 1679 by the Christian calendar, and 1090 by the Islamic one, which is the more important on this Muslim-dominated world, where an early scientific revolution and more stable Abbasid succession (combined with a superior system of military control which kept the Caliphs from becoming puppets of their own guards) gave the Islamic world an edge in the world-dominance stakes it has never lost.

The universal Caliphate is long gone, and "Caliph" now simply means the executive position in a sovereign state, sometimes elective (usually for life) or hereditary, although the title is restricted to the rulers of major powers and the rulers of minor states which adopt the title are considered rather laughable. There are currently seven "true" Caliphs, five Muslim, one Christian and the Chinese one, who is usually Buddhist, a Chinese religious "traditionalist", or a combination thereof. (Hind, BTW, has been using political shenanigans to keep the government Muslim-dominated, but there will probably be a Hindu Caliph one of these days). Rum isn't really considered one of the Big Boys, and there are a couple other "point and laugh" Caliphs, although Takrur still is a sizable chunk of the globe. The global independent judiciary or "Ulamah", which in spite of it's Shari'a based origins is nowadays mostly secular, stands to some extent above all powers, although dependent on Sultans and Caliphs for enforcement.

Technological and industrial progress, in spite of some precocious developments of machinery powered by steam boiled by petroleum, has lagged compared to pure scientific understanding, given that the 9th and 10th century Middle East had some disadvantages compared to 17th century western Europe (a lack of coal and iron, thin populations, limited agricultural land, underdeveloped capitalism and a lack of security in property, lack of centuries of incremental scientific progress, etc...). This did allow Christianity to rally under the Holy Roman Emperors in time to avoid total extinction, and at time made things difficult for scientists themselves when they found themselves lacking the authority conferred by, say, locomotives and telegraphs, when introducing revolutionary ideas (evolution only became publicly palatable on the third try to introduce it).

Still, after some eight centuries of progress, things are well ahead of OTL technologically. Tens of millions of people live off-planet on various space habitats, moons, planets and asteroids of the solar system. Glittering synthetic-diamond skinned towers reach a mile high above the great cities. Antimatter-powered probes have been sent to other stars, although none have reached them yet (the interesting looking planets, alas, are quite some ways away) except the "proof of concept" probe sent to Alpha Centauri, a favorite destination of old-tyme SF writers in this world as in ours. Robots do the manufacturing, and society is to some extent post-scarcity, even in more backward areas like China or some parts of interior Africa or the Americas: although production isn't enough to make everyone _wealthy_, nobody need go without food, basic shelter, education, or the equivalent of internet access. Corporations, of course, as OTL work to make people think that living in anything less than luxury is shameful.

Lifespans have been considerably extended, to the point where laws have been passed forcing people to retire at 100 to prevent excessive concentration of power and wealth among the elderly. True AI remains elusive, but computers have become quite good at faking sapience. Limbs and organs can be cloned for replacement, and although cybernetic limbs are possible, they are usually considered just temporary replacements until the organic limb is possible: being visibly cyborged is considered full-body-tattoo weird on Earth, although brain implants to link directly to computer systems are gaining popularity among the young. Genetic engineering exists, but is confined to animals and plants: aside from prenatal screening, human genetic engineering is illegal anywhere on Earth.

The world is at peace, and has been so for a while. It has been almost three centuries since the last true global big-power war, and a century since _any_ interstate conflict on Earth (although there have been some internal rumblings within states, and occasionally idiotic conflicts break out between the various hothouse cultures of the Belt, the solar system's great fruitcake reserve). Racism is largely unknown, although the association of East Asians with "heathenism" tends to give them a tinge of scary exoticism to Muslims in other parts of the world.

All is not perfection, though. Many chafe under the technological restraints imposed by the global legal system or Ulamah and enforced by the Caliphates. Some feel this has prevented the development of true immortality, or the creation of better human beings through genetic engineering. Others dislike the present economic system, which they feel is manipulated by the powerful to prevent universal wealth and concentrates power in too few hands.[1] There is the limited social mobility, the crushing power of entrenched custom and expectations, and in places like India the placing of people in little cages shaped by which of hundreds of sub-cultures you belong to. There are angry feminists, who are deeply frustrated by the fact that although long equal under the law men and women remain socially segregated and women are often informally blackballed from a number of professions (there are no female Caliphs). People who want to exist outside of historical gender roles altogether are considered weird, and homosexuality although accepted is not meant to be flamboyant. The Ummah, which supposedly represents a new freedom from government constraints, is to many simply the replacement of top-down tyranny with local petty authoritarians, with inadequate social services either paid for with inadequate antique taxation systems or provided - at a cost - by private institutions, and even lower social mobility than in the Caliphates. Religious discrimination remains widespread, and while legal restrictions are rare nowadays, Christians and Jews are essentially second-rate citizens in many Muslim countries (indeed, Jews are disadvantaged everywhere on Earth, [2] which is why there are now over a million Jews! In! Spaaaace!), and "heathens" (Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) are oddballs everywhere outside their own countries, while outspoken atheists are considered loonies of the most annoying sort. (Muslims, being Top Dogs, avoid open discrimination everywhere, but in places like China there is a lot of secret spitting in the soup and so on).

Against the rather stultifying Way Things Are stands the complex and diverse Jamahiriya, a global movement (if strongest by far in Talentis/the Americas), which want a genuinely secular society, an overthrow of old cultural and social restrictions, in many cases a scientific socialist economy (given robotic manufacturing, fusion power, and supercomputers, probably actually achievable with a boost to lower class living standards to boot), an end to traditional roles of gender and sex and lifestyles, an end to limitations on technological progress. The more extreme post-humanists tend to squick out other members of the movement, but it is true that the notion of Men Like Gods is not without its mass appeal. And then there are those who are just annoyed by the excessively flowery, polite and melodramatic language in what passes for "society" nowadays...

It was 1090 AH, and war was coming.


[1] Islam has always been pro-merchant, and although there has traditionally been top-down public aid of various sorts, the notion of a socialistic _society_ has remained a fringe proposition. On the other hand, so has Ayn Rand type take-no-prisoners libertarianism, so you win some, you lose some.

[2] Theoretically they should be OK in China and other Buddhist countries, but the locals tend to look suspiciously at Jews because looking suspiciously at Jews is what all the cool kids do.