The Great Interstellar War Role Playing Game is an ongoing role-playing universe and project on Alternatehistory.com that was founded by BlackWave in August of 2009, and has been expanded by him and other users. Thus far, there have been four RPs based upon it, one conventional, and another based around space combat, which saw a redux version. The current one is based on tactical combat, which has also seen a redux.
In addition, there also exists a mini-comic series based on it, which won a Turtledove for Best New Series in the 2011 Awards and another in 2012. Additional world-building fiction has been done by other users.
Set in an undetermined time in the future, the RP has humanity divided into two factions after Earth has been rendered uninhabitable, the democratic Westers and the totalitarian, Russo-Sino Reds, both of whom have been fighting for over two decades for control of the galaxy. With battlefronts varying enough to have campaigns ranging from having battlesuits clashing with tactical nukes to trench warfare, this is the bloodiest war in human history.
The Wester Federation is implied to incorporate the descendants of the old western nations of Earth, as its name suggests, and has its capital situated on the ecumenopolis of Nova Terra.1)2). Officially a democratic federal government, the Wester government stages regular elections and sports a senatorial parliament with a number of political parties on offer. However, parties in favor of peace are marginalized and it is uncertain how much power the democratic government holds.3)4). Christianity, along with other religions, has managed to survive into the future, although with much less influence on life than it once had.5) The Westers make heavy use of propaganda and have a fairly militaristic society, punishing offenders for crimes such as drunk driving with set periods of military service6). Corporate sponsors of their war effort also are known to interfere in campaign planning.7) Like the Reds, the Westers have a skewed view of old Earth history, thanks to revisionism and the abandonment of said planet.8) However, some forms of old discrimination do not seem to exist in Wester society.9)
Technologically advanced, the Wester military prioritizes fast and precise strikes in its doctrine12), although if pressed can resort to more heavy handed means.13) Wester forces are highly mobile, using using fast anti-gravity vehicles and armor that, while not as armored or destructive as the enemy counterpart, is extremely manoeuvrable.14)15) They also have access to a wide variety of advanced electronic warfare measures and cyberwarfare.16)17) Typical Wester strikes can be characterized by rapid and concentrated deployment of forces from orbit or high altitude immediately following intensed, focused precision bombardment.18)
The Westers also make use of a wide variety of advanced battlesuits, superior in most respects to the Red's, which can be deployed from orbit for devastating strikes.19)20)21) Their infantry are also usually better equipped and trained than the Reds, being able to access a wide array of weaponry from smart munitions to microwave weapons22), although they do not typically have as much morale.23) Wester special forces are also well-equipped, sporting cloaking fields and being able to prioritize battlefield assets.24)25) Their ground forces can also have access to advanced upgrades, from particle-based devices capable of interfering badly with enemy systems to a wide variety of drones.26) Laser systems are mounted on drones and grav-vehicle platforms for missile defence and anti-air respectively.27) Air support for the Westers is also generally wider than that of the Red's, ranging from nimble gunships to advanced fighters and bombers, including even railgun-fitted CAS aircraft.28)29)
In space, the Westers maintain a very large fleet, again emphasizing precision and advanced technology. While their ships do not typically sport as much raw firepower as their Red counterparts, they do sport superior defensive suites and systems. Nevertheless, they do pack enough power to the extent that a flotilla of vessels can devastate a planetary hemisphere in moments.30)31) Their ships can also be used for precise orbital tactical support and for deploying forces straight from orbit.32)33) Like the Reds, Wester ships sport powerful railguns, large amounts of missiles, and heavy mass drivers, in addition to superpowered nuclear weapons known as 'meganukes'.34) They also field large supercarriers, capable of supporting planetary campaigns and launching fighters for precision strikes in space or in an atmosphere.35)36) Advanced upgrades are available for the Wester navy, such as cyberwarfare suites for interfering with enemy ship systems, along with enhanced munitions.37)
Descended apparently from a Eurasian alliance dominated by Russia and China, the Reds are a totalitarian society based on the world of New Moscow.38) Their ruling body, simply referred to as 'The Party', is divided between the Politburo, which serves as their overall administrative bureaucracy, and the Directorate, their supreme ruling council, and is based within the titanic structure of the 'People's Hall'.39) There do exist apparent factions within the Party,40), and some members will resort to underhanded methods to secure their political power base.41) Crime syndicates do exist among them, albeit restricted in scope.42)
Although the Reds incorporate many individuals of descent from old earth nations like Russia and East Asian countries, they do not distinguish on this criteria, given the nonexistence of said nations, although they discriminate against those with descent from Westers.43) Like the Westers, the Reds have a heavily revised view of history bent in the Party's favor, exhibiting beliefs such as attribution of the authorship of the Art of War to Mao Zedong.44) They appear to venerate communist leaders of old, referring to them as 'Great Comrades',45) and their political schools of thought can vary on a regional basis.46) The Reds also seem fairly egalitarian in regards to gender, with women serving in many high-ranking military and political stations.47)48)
Sporting massive numbers, the Red military opts to emphasize overwhelming force and number in it's doctrine.49) While Red army units such as infantry and battlesuits are not usually to the standard of the Westers, they are typically greater in number and more spirited.50) Red grav-armor, while not as mobile as the Westers, is typically far more durable and sports massive firepower, in addition to artillery optimized for devastating wide areas.51)52) Alongside to their standard infantry, which can sport heavy weapons such as RPGs (albeit ones packing more power than contemporary ones53)), the Reds also maintain penal divisions incorporating criminals of various types and dissidents, usually using as a means to overwhelm the enemy or forcing him to expend munitions. They can also deploy specialized battlesuits in some ways deadlier than the Westers, including stealth-orientated ones and towering 'Grozny' suits that can withstand fire up to the nuclear level.54)
Red commanders also can liberally deploy devastating weapons such as nukes or chemical and viral weapons, as well as enhanced versions of napalm and thermobaric shells.55)56)57) They also can distribute combat drugs to their personnel, enhancing their performance or driving them into fervor.58) Red special forces, while not sporting equipment as advanced as their counterparts, are nonetheless lethal, and in addition, Red commanders can make use of genetically enhanced assassins, albeit ones with little intelligence left other than to kill.59) The Reds also practice fairly widespread electronic and cyberwarfare, albeit not as advanced as the Wester's.60)61) A characteristic feature of the Alliance military is the use of State Security Commissars, known for helping to maintain order and morale among the troops, but also for keeping an eye on officers and making sure they remain loyal to the Party.62)
The Red fleet is also very large, and promotes firepower and blunt force. While not as advanced defensively as their Wester counterparts, Red vessels usually have greater armament and armoring, with exceptions such as their fragile missile ships, although these still pack enough ordnance to shatter small space bodies.63) Lead by devastating Dreadnought and Superdreadnought64) vessels, the latter of which can shatter small moons with their spinal mass driver weapons at full power,65) Red fleets often lack specialized vessels such as carriers and stealthcraft that the Westers field, and are typically outclassed in fighter support.66)
Against the backdrop of the war are a number of alien civilizations, usually too advanced to pay attention to the human conflict or too primitive to draw much notice from the human factions. Both the Reds and the Westers make effort not to draw the attention of the more advanced races, which include the N'rev, a race that sometimes ventures close to their combat zones.67) There are other races that are avoided by the humans, often with the power to collapse stars or planets.68) However, on occasion, the Westers and Reds will make use of more primitive aliens for assistance in menial work in some locations,69)70) and on desperate occasions even as local auxiliary forces.71) Although not exactly 'non human', some colonies of humans have adapted to local environments or evolved to the point where they could be considered an offshoot of humanity rather than part of humanity itself.72)73)
Below is a sample of individuals who have partaken in the various role-playing games set within this universe.