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Old 10-14-2022, 12:10 AM   #6011
Join Date: Oct 2011
Default Re: New Reality Seeds

[spoiler=The Colonies]
Before Charles V, Spain was the only Habsburg realm with meaningful overseas territory. During his reign, a German colony was established.

In this timeline, Charles V and his immediate successors didn't worry that much about managing the Habsburg empire's colonies. Castile and Aragon split up New Spain, Klein-Venedig was run by German states within the HRE, and the Dutch didn't have colonies yet. The Holy Roman Emperors were focused on maintaining their dominion over Europe, so as long as the family's colonies brought in more wealth than problems, they were happy to let individual kings run them.

This lack of oversight, combined with concerns that aggressively conquering their European neighbors would inspire a new anti-Habsburg coalition, encouraged Habsburgs to prove their merit as rulers overseas. Castile and Aragon squabbled over South America, the Dutch would start colonizing early, Austria and Burgundy would support colonies from German states on the coast, Italy would fund some ventures, and even Milan would join in (once it re-annexed Parma via marriage and allied Genoa for a port).

Castile and the Netherlands would win the colonial race as long as it lasted; the German colonies were small and scattered, while Castilian control of both Gibraltar and Ceuta meant that they could impede Aragonese and Italian ships. At some point in the 17th century, though, a Holy Roman Emperor (probably one from Milan or Burgundy, the big colonial losers) would take a hard look at the state of the colonies and reorganize them, for the good of Empire and House.

Thus was created the first Imperial Governor-General, an appointee with authority over all colonies established by the Holy Roman Empire. The colonies would still be associated with their parent kingdom, who would still receive the lion's share of their tax revenue. But they would be administered by regional officials appointed by the Governor-General, who would receive a secondary portion of the colonies' tax revenue. (The rest was split between the colony itself and the Emperor.)

On one hand, this did have some benefits. Combining the administration of neighboring colonies in the same area meant less administrative overhead and more administrative cooperation, for instance, and standardized laws make trade and stuff simpler. But it was also the Imperial administration pulling power away from the Habsburg monarchs—particularly Castile and the Netherlands. The only reason the Emperor got away with it was the support of Habsburg monarchs who felt it screwed over their Castilian and Dutch rivals more than it did them.

And so, the office of Governor-General and the central administration of Habsburg colonies remained. Obviously, the office changed over time—perhaps most significantly, being split into regional Governor-General titles as the Empire's holdings outside Latin America became too large to ignore.
[spoiler=The Neighbors]
It would be foolish to expect that the Habsburg empire would be allowed to just accumulate great power while chugging along allohistorically. On one hand, they would try to beat the new empire, particularly by allying with one side or the other in divisive civil wars (or contrariwise, finding internal allies when attacking the Habsburgs). But on the other hand, they would try to copy the Habsburg's success.

Unfortunately, the widely-known English lands in France were not really a thing by the 17th century; getting a Great Power union like that would require some legwork. So let's do something more complicated.

The English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell would wreck the English crown for some time (though the Tudors held on in Scotland). In this timeline, the Cromwells were a bit more stubborn, enough for the Scots to turn to the House of Oldenburg as allies. The House of Oldenburg was a powerful one in its region; the Kalmar Union was weakened, since Sweden successfully broke away, but the Oldenburg king still held Denmark and Norway. In this timeline, Charles II of Scotland (not to be confused with Emperor Charles V) throws his lot in with the Oldenburgs, securing marriage alliances and supporting their efforts to reconquer Sweden (expecting the Scandinavians to help him reconquer England in the future).

OTL's House of Valois was on its way out around this time, but let's throw them a bone. The French Wars of Religion aren't so bad in this timeline; let's say Henry II focused on stabilizing his realm (both in religious terms and succession terms) after "successfully" breaking up Charles V's empire. Let's also say that Henry III (or his equivalent) successfully maintained Valois rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, perhaps by putting his brother Francis in charge when he had French business. Let's be even nicer and let the Valois scrounge up a spare Stuart heiress to install on the throne while Charles II is busy in Sweden, then marry her to a Valois. And of course, the French maintain their alliance of convenience with the Ottoman dynasty.

I'd like to add a Russian-area union, but I don't know enough about Eastern European history to know where to start. The Rurik dynasty of Muscovy is the obvious place to start, but unless I drop the Valois from Poland-Lithuania, I don't know where the Rurik dominion could go that allohistorical Russia didn't.

So we have two or three rivals to the Habsburgs: The House of Oldenburg in Scotland and Scandinavia; the House of Valois in France, England, and maybe Poland-Lithuania, plus the French and English colonies in North America; and possibly the House of Rurik in a super-vague Russian/Balkan/maybe Polish-Lithuanian area.

The Valois would have their attention split between trying to consolidate their European holdings (by securing the North Sea for transit between France and Poland) and trying to expand their American colonies. Their main rival in the North Sea (and to a lesser extent North America) would obviously be the Oldenburgs, distant heirs to the Vikings and arguable forebears to the British Empire; I'm not sure the Valois would win at sea, but they have the advantage on land. Meanwhile, the Ruriks would mostly do their own thing, until it antagonized one half or the other of the Valois-Ottoman alliance.
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Old 10-14-2022, 12:11 AM   #6012
Join Date: Oct 2011
Default Re: New Reality Seeds

[spoiler=Revolutions? Non-Europeans?]
I don't have a lot of ideas here.

For making the ideas I do have work better, let's say that any American- or French-style revolutions are either small (say, Haiti-sized), unsuccessful (being crushed by the might of a massive Empire) or focused against their immediate colonial/royal overlords and not their house. This could lead to, for instance, an independent American republic

I'd also like to acknowledge Asian and African monarchies, even though their European contemporaries probably wouldn't.
  • First are the Ottomans, who are honestly as European as they are Asian or African, but I haven't mentioned them much. They aren't as decadent or failure-ey as they're often imagined! In this timeline, they aren't quite the "sick man of Europe" as they are at the same point in the timeline; perhaps they even have some trading posts or even colonies along the Indian Sea.
  • I don't know enough about African history to confidently assert plausible dynasties or paths they could take, but Morocco's Alawi dynasty, Buganda's Kintu dynasty, the collapsed and potentially-fixable Jolof Empire (I couldn't find a dynasty name), and Madagascar's Hova dynasty seem like decent choices. Well, until Europe brings the hammer of its global empires onto the continent.
  • I'm not sure whether to suggest the Qing (China's historic dynasty) or the Yamato Dynasty (leaders of OTL's most successful 19th-century East Asian modernization). The Qing's significance seems more dependent on environmental factors (e.g. China is big) than historic facts which may not remain the same, with the Yamato being the reverse, but...
[spoiler=Cultural Consequences (and an actual hook)]
In OTL, this period saw the conception of the European state, and ultimately the nation-state. That wouldn't happen here; if anything, we'd see the opposite.

The historical Peace of Augsburg is considered the first step towards Europe's system of sovereign states. Replacing that Peace with a radically different one, which focuses Habsburg power within its internal institutions rather than a handful of crowns, means the Thirty Years' War is different or absent; not having the Netherlands and Spaniards ruled by the same king means no (or radically different) Eighty Years' War; those two wars being different or absent means the Peace of Westphalia is effectively gone, which means this timeline's concept of sovereignty would be radically different by the end of the century.

Sovereignty is obviously important to states, but it's also the soil in which the seeds of mass literacy would grow into nationalism. If (for instance) the German people saw them as one people due to their German-ness, it would be less and later than in OTL, and I wouldn't be surprised if it never happened. Instead, we see a pivot back towards medieval manorialism, just more centralized and with higher state capacity. The ultimate authority is not a governing institution, a state somewhat independent of its head, but instead a family with many branches loosely united under a single patriarch.

But this system can't exist forever. Just as absolute monarchs would be replaced by constitutional states in the modern period (with monarchs being increasingly limited or decapitated over time), so these dynastic patriarchs would see an end to their days. But the shifting of power would buy them enough time for a loose approximation of absolute monarchy to run into the popular literacy of the late 17th and 18th centuries.

The causes and effects of mass literacy are complex, but I'd summarize them under a broad banner of "popular consciousness". National identities were often forged for the ruling elites of nation-states, but the common people also played a role in developing that identity (especially in Germany). Marx's works—controversial as his ideas are—symbolized and encouraged a broad sort of "class consciousness" among the lower classes. The first form of true mass media (the novel) was the TikTok of its day, but it allowed ideas to spread and flourish among people on a greater scale than ever before.

How does this play out?
It's the 19th century. The world is dominated by coalitions of kingdoms underneath the Great Houses—Oldenburg, Valois, Rurik, Ottoman, arguably Qing, and indisputably the mighty Habsburgs. The self-titled heirs of Rome are not as overwhelmingly powerful as they once were, but they are still the greatest among equals (Qing need not apply).

But trouble is brewing. The rise of industry meant that the masses needed to be educated, which enabled novels and other print media to let ideas flow from and to the lower classes at a speed never before seen. But the most prominent avenue for these ideas—nationalism—is dependent on several historical events that didn't happen in this timeline. Moreover, the ideas at the root of nationalism (that the people of a region and culture have a shared identity that transcends whatever mortal monarch they might have) are dangerous to this timeline's monarchs, rather than useful.

Nationalism is out. What ideas are competing to take its place? Possibly a mixture of...
  • "Quasi-nationalism," an effort by various Great Houses to foster a collective identity among all their subjects. This doesn't seem likely to catch on with the masses, because it's so obviously artificial and opportunistic.
  • "Nationalism of the oppressed," a marginalized community defining its identity in contrast to its overlords. This is likely to spring up in the colonies, and possibly in mistreated European territories (think OTL's Ireland). The overlords aren't a fan of this.
  • Religious fundamentalism. I didn't establish whether this timeline had equivalent religious conflicts to the Thirty Years' War and such; it probably would have, but even without centuries of simmering resentment, religion is an obvious identity to form around. Considering how the European Great Houses have a mixture of Protestant and Catholic subjects, they probably wouldn't approve of this.
  • "Scientific" racism. Ethnonationalism without the nationalism. Depressingly familiar. The European Great Houses probably rule significant non-white populations, but their ruling class is white, so...who knows how they'd react.
  • Marxism without Marx. There's no way Karl Marx, son of Hennrich and Henriette Marx, would exist in this timeline, but someone else could easily come across his ideas. Workers of the world find them appealing; bourgeois, not so much.
  • Intersectional ideas. Some mixture of the above—Habsburg quasi-nationalism mixed with Catholic fundamentalism, for instance, forming a "Catholic Roman" identity.

Most people are likely to find one or two of these ideas especially appealing, but see value in most of them. As the different ideas about what identities should be considered most important spread across the world, people start to define themselves by them. On one hand, they come into conflict with rival groups in the same categories; Catholics define themselves against Protestants, differences grow into grudges which blossom onto violence. On the other hand, they also come into conflict with people who consider their identity unimportant; both Catholics and Protestants fight against ecumenical racists who want to force them to get along under the banner of their white identity.

To observers from Centrum and Homeline alike, one thing is clear: The current systems cannot hold. The foundation of the dynastic quasi-empires is crumbling to dust; change is coming. The only question is what form that change will take. It could be one or a few unified racial empires, an imperial elite race benefiting from the exploitation of "lesser races" it dominates. It could be scattered self-governing republics carved out of regions exploited by the dynastic elites, their heartlands' wealth shrinking without the empires that made them rich. It could be a unified worldwide socialist system, or a world defined by religious identity and conflict.

In all likelihood, it would end up as something more complicated left on its own. Different kinds of intersectional identities forming effective popular coalitions in different regions, seceding from the Great Houses' rule or fighting for self-governance under it, repeating across the globe until the Houses are dethroned or reduced to figureheads. But, of course, Centrum and Homeline have outcomes they'd like to ensure...


Wait, do spoilers not work on this forum? Did I screw something up??
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Old 10-14-2022, 04:45 AM   #6013
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: UK
Default Re: New Reality Seeds

Just tested it. Spoilers seem to work, but not spoilers with captions. So [spoiler] would work, but [spoiler=Name of spoiler] wouldn't.
Looking for online text-based game at a UK-feasible time, anything considered, Roll20 preferred.

Last edited by Inky; 10-14-2022 at 04:51 AM.
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Old 10-14-2022, 06:55 PM   #6014
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Default Re: New Reality Seeds

Been thinking a bit. I realize that my last comment was rude and I apologize. It's not my place to criticize anyone's contributions, and I will try to do better. Sorry, Astromancer.

OK, back to the topic (and my only slightly hypocritcally America-centric seeds):

The framers of the Constitution feared that western states would one day outweigh the original thirteen colonies in political power. These concerns were essentially discarded by the time any new states were inducted, and all new states were inducted with "equal footing" to the existing ones.

If those concerns were somewhat more concrete and persistent (or connected to some other issue), then a more strict definition of "equal footing" could come into vogue, arguing that no new state could be larger or smaller in area than an existing state.

Thus in the century to follow, there would be far more states, none larger than North Carolina -- upward of 100, at least 11 of them in Alaska. The exact consequences would be interesting but probably irrelevant for PCs, unless we go highly cinematic and assume this would lead to reduced stability and greater independence. Perhaps an extended Wild West well into the atomic age?

Another potential legislative mutation could be the idea that "Federal Districts" caught on after the founding of D.C. All the wealth and power of a major city with no political ramifications? The obvious targets are those cities that are being annexed into the US from new territories, particularly New Orleans, Houston, and San Francisco. Perhaps the justification was that these would be remote hubs for managing the new territories. I feel like going into the 20th century with multiple great cultural cities of the west under undemocratic autocracy would be a fitting seedbed for revolutionary ideologies.

The strict city limits would also drive denser urbanism and more starker rural lands. City-slicking revolutionaries and rum-running hillbillies at the turn of the century?

Last edited by PTTG; 10-14-2022 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 10-14-2022, 08:49 PM   #6015
Join Date: Mar 2008
Default Re: New Reality Seeds

Could lead to lots of permanent territories. Divide some of the western states up in east coast sized bits and lots of those bits will never have a population that is reasonable for a state. Alaska wouldn't be 11 states it would be 1 or maybe 2 and 9-10 territories.

You also might get reservations that are not in a state which might lead eventually to more indigenous control of them.

Last edited by dcarson; 10-14-2022 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 10-14-2022, 10:05 PM   #6016
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: New Reality Seeds

Originally Posted by PTTG View Post
If those concerns were somewhat more concrete and persistent (or connected to some other issue), then a more strict definition of "equal footing" could come into vogue, arguing that no new state could be larger or smaller in area than an existing state.
That seems nonsensical - states are weighted by population, not area.

Now couldn't be smaller or larger than an existing state in terms of population might make some sense, and actually would matter. As far as I can tell 9 states had smaller populations than any existing state at the time they were admitted (Illinois, Florida, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska) and two more (Ohio and Mississippi) were really close. On the flipside, one state (Oklahoma) was more populous when admitted than any state was in 1789, as were 3 non-state territories (DC after 1940 and Puerto Rico and the Philippines from their acquisition in 1898) which might argue for them being broken up. Indeed the Philippines were bigger than any [contemporary] US state from 1920 to 1946, which would've been more of an issue if there were any likelihood of admitting them at all.

And I believe the Federal Districts would require a constitutional amendment, though you could carve out the cities as separate territories. That probably means they get admitted as their own states, and before the rural areas around them do.
MA Lloyd

Last edited by malloyd; 10-14-2022 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 10-16-2022, 08:06 AM   #6017
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: West Virginia
Default Re: New Reality Seeds


Collapse-7 is a myth parallel linked to the story "With Nothing but Gingerbread Left!" The story in question involved the USA using a form of memetic warfare to lock the German language up. As in the story the Nazi state and German society collapsed fairly quickly. The Japanese realizing that the Allies could and would turn all attention towards them, started asking for a truce and negotiations. The Russians determined to learn the trick.

The first Russian attack against the English language was brutal. But limited by a mistake. The original inventor of the method assumed language was more than what grammar books and dictionaries said it was. That language was informal codes as well as formal ones. The Russians misfired.

By the time the Russians attacked again Anglo-American research into undoing the damage to Germany allowed them to issue counter codes to prevent, or at least limit, the damage.

Russia itself was in no way prepared for the Anglo-American attack on Russian. Meanwhile, the Russian attacks on dozens of other languages had already been made.

The local year is 1948. Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Urdu, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, Bengali, and many other languages are locked. Chaos is planet wide. The United States, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, and the Chinese (Cantonese isn't locked) are allied together to restore the world's languages. Japan, Denmark, and Vietnam (Ho Chi Min is running the place for the emperor and the French are bitter but busy) are petitioning to join the alliance. Iran (which has gone back to calling itself Persia) is making similar noises.

World trade and the world economy are completely trashed.

Basically, Homeline, Centrum, and the Cabal, want all of the information on this new Linguistic Memetics. This is an espionage game in a world gone insane.

Note: As a residue of past attacks, random outbreaks of insanity are occuring among any population whose language was attacked.
Per Ardua Per Astra!

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Old 10-16-2022, 10:19 AM   #6018
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default Re: New Reality Seeds

Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
The story in question involved the USA using a form of memetic warfare to lock the German language up.
I'm glad that did not come up in our occult WWII campaign!

Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Urdu, Portuguese, Arabic, Italian, Bengali, and many other languages are locked.
If Urdu is locked, Hindi of the period is also locked. The combination is a huge disaster for India.
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Old 10-16-2022, 03:39 PM   #6019
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Default Re: New Reality Seeds

Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I'm glad that did not come up in our occult WWII campaign!
I've always thought memetics and black magic were a logical mix.

If Urdu is locked, Hindi of the period is also locked. The combination is a huge disaster for India.
Yes it is. There's a reason this world is called Collapse .
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Old 10-16-2022, 04:07 PM   #6020
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: New Reality Seeds

Katrine-1: Katrine is a magic oriented parallel with a TL of 3+4. The most powerful realm in the world is the Ostene Empire, which roughly parallels the Holy Roman Empire. The ruling class in the Ostene Empire is a noble class made up people possessing hereditary magic powers which come in the standard four elemental categories.

Additionally, there are also Light and Dark powers. Light powers tend to pop up unpredictably among commoners and when that happens, they are normally inducted into the Church as "saints" even though moral characteristics have nothing to do with getting them. But since those who possess Light power have healing, illumination, enhanced charisma and the ability to counter Dark power and to harm demons they tend to seem benevolent and some of them are as benevolent as they seem.

Dark powers do not naturally exist among humans. They are acquired through noble demonic ancestry or demonic pacts, and it is generally assumed that humans with Dark powers are aligned with the forces of evil although once again in actuality there is no particular connection between one's moral characteristics and one's possession of the power. Dark power of course has the ability to obscure vision but also to attack, create illusions, and influence minds.

To the east of Ostene, is the land of demons. The demons are not a single people. Rather they seem to be magically mutated animals and humans. The humanoid demons have horns, pointed ears, and black and red irises in their native form, but frequently possess shapeshifting abilities which can be used to give them things like functional wings and claws or to hide their horns and ears. They have animal empathy with their more bestial kin.

To the west of Ostene is the Chastain Republic, which has overthrown its own noble class, but is defended by a martial order who have developed chi powers to replace magic. The only forms of magic which they accept is Light power which they class as something other than magic and the arts of alchemy and enchantment which are the basis for much of Katrine's technology.

Beyond the land of demons is some kind of largely unknown land corresponding to eastern Asia. The demons have precluded much in the way of trade and communication with those far off lands

In the past 20 years, Katrine has experienced an explosion of technological advancement which has included the introduction of antibiotics, improved sanitation, makeup, and the introduction of magical self-propelled carriages, stoves, refrigerators, and lights. At the same time there has been a revolution in the fields of literature, cuisine, and music which fairly obviously plagiarizes works from other universes, almost all of which has come from women. Investigation into where these women are getting their offworld knowledge is ongoing.

Last edited by David Johnston2; 10-16-2022 at 04:20 PM.
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