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Alternate History Campaigns and RPGs?

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
I played Crimson Skies the miniature Clix wargame by Wizkids. FASA did the original board game but I didn't play it. I know it was also a PC game.

Crimson Skies is set in an alternate universe where the Great Depression has caused the US to break apart. The nation has fractured into several little countries ranging from the Empire State arising in New York to the Communist People's Collective of the Great Plains states. The tried and true methods of shipping things over land has fallen away due to the effects of this balkanization of America so everything has literally taken to the air. This America's love affair is with the airplane and not the automobile. So take to the skies as a dashing air milita pilot and defend your country...or become a vicious air pirate and cut a path of swath through the former land of the free and home of the brave.

Sadly there are no official RPGs but that is certainly a campaign concept I could integrate into my current Modern AGE 1921 pulp campaign when it reaches 1929.

Which alternate history campaigns or rpg have you played?
 
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Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
Twilight 2000, Free League edition, is another good alternate history RPG.

The adventures in Twilight: 2000 typically involve a military unit which was stranded in Central Europe several years into World War III and places emphasis on attempting to realistically depict military and social systems after a nuclear war. The war, as it continues on from 1997, has aspects of the broken-backed war theory, wherein a catastrophic nuclear exchange occurs between two belligerents, and is then followed by a continuation of conventional war.
 
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There is also the reboot of Twilight 2000, that may or may not already be out, I lost track. Anyway, instead of being an alternate near future RPG, the way the original version was, the reboot keeps the same time frame, so it becomes an alternate history RPG right away, instead of being so old, the real world moved past it's original time setting.

If you are looking for alternate history games that do not involve the paranormal/supernatural/magical elements, the list can get pretty short. If you are alright with alternate tech, there is stuff like Space 1889 for another alternate history/alternate tech setting, or the various cyberpunk games for near future/alternate tech settings.
 


To add to my other comment, if you want another option for your 1930's time period, look into Rocket Age. And it looks like it even has gotten the 5E treatment, which I had not heard of til now:

 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
To add to my other comment, if you want another option for your 1930's time period, look into Rocket Age. And it looks like it even has gotten the 5E treatment, which I had not heard of til now:

That is very close to what I'm working my way up to with my Modern AGE 1920's campaign. They have not been into space yet but they have stopped all kinds of alien shenanigans on Earth.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Twilight 2000 is another good alternate history RPG.

Well, now it is. Originally, it was a near-future RPG, as it was published before the speculated WWIII would have happened.

Originally, Shadowrun was also near-future, but the real-world has finally caught up with some of the formative events of its alternate history, where magic starts to return.

Which alternate history campaigns or rpg have you played?

Classic Deadlands - history diverges around the time of the Civil War, most notably when, at the Battle of Gettysburg, dead soldiers got back up and started fighting with both sides. For reasons, some pretty dark magic returns to the world at that time, and the US is not what we recall it....
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
Well, now it is. Originally, it was a near-future RPG, as it was published before the speculated WWIII would have happened.
Yes of course, I thought I mentioned the new Free League edition in my post but it seems I did not. Corrected.
 

I played Crimson Skies the miniature Clix wargame by Wizkids. FASA did the original board game but I didn't play it. I know it was also a PC game.

Crimson Skies is set in an alternate universe where the Great Depression has caused the US to break apart. The nation has fractured into several little countries ranging from the Empire State arising in New York to the Communist People's Collective of the Great Plains states. The tried and true methods of shipping things over land has fallen away due to the effects of this balkanization of America so everything has literally taken to the air. This America's love affair is with the airplane and not the automobile. So take to the skies as a dashing air milita pilot and defend your country...or become a vicious air pirate and cut a path of swath through the former land of the free and home of the brave.

Sadly there are no official RPGs but that is certainly a campaign concept I could integrate into my current Modern AGE 1921 pulp campaign when it reaches 1929.

Which alternate history campaigns or rpg have you played?
Pendragon. About 6 campaigns now of it. My last one ended when Arthur's PC cousin (who got the Sword of the Stone to move), was crowned in 516 due to Arthur's death at a battle at Abbey Beale, just south of Malahaut. Mine all wound up alt-hist to the Pendaron timeline as well as history.

Reichstar. Sure, while it's set in the 24th C, its divergence point is 1941... Great concept. System, not so great.

Spirit of the Century. One extended adventure... (5 weeks or so)... alt 20th C in the 20's.

MSH, AMSH, MSHAG, (MU), and MHRP. All the Marvel games are alt hist. MU only got non-story-focused single session, 2 or 3 times, to feel out the mechanics. MSHAG got multiple one-shots. Others got extended adventures to short campaigns.

Sentinel Comics. Same reason as all the Marvels... modern supers are alt history.

If I am counting Reichstar, I need to also count Star Trek... since the Bell Riots never happened, and nothing close to the DY-100 has been launched, it's the future of an alternate timeline.

My GURPS Horror campaign that ran 5 years... at only a handful of sessions per year. In which Magnum PI is reality, and Thos. Magnum was there to be sacrificed to appease Madam Pele... by the Werewolf living one estate further from Honolulu.

Edit: I forgot to mention 4 campaigns (3 short) of Space: 1889.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yes of course, I thought I mentioned the new Free League edition in my post but it seems I did not. Corrected.

Oh, I didn't care about the nitpicky, "well actually" of categorization. I find things sliding from speculative-future into retro-future interesting!
 

I ran a campaign sent in an alternative history where the Mexican Revolution kicked off in 1889, with hints of CoC horror mixed in.


I ran Twilight 2000 back in the 80s, with a all-military group of gamers, which was a really interesting undertaking.
 

John Dallman

Adventurer
The line between "alternate history" and "fantastic adventure set on Earth in the past" is kind of fuzzy. I tend to define AH as "A historical event came out differently, and we follow plausible consequences from there, without fantastic elements." By that standard, I've never played an AH campaign but I've played a lot of games where the departure from history is due to the fantastic elements, and things are still close enough to history to make detailed research useful.
 

Ulfgeir

Adventurer
There is also the reboot of Twilight 2000, that may or may not already be out, I lost track. Anyway, instead of being an alternate near future RPG, the way the original version was, the reboot keeps the same time frame, so it becomes an alternate history RPG right away, instead of being so old, the real world moved past it's original time setting.
The one from Free League hasn't been released yet. According to their latest update shipping will be in September.
 

The one from Free League hasn't been released yet. According to their latest update shipping will be in September.
KS patrons have had PDF of the set for the last 2 months. My players opted for mouse guard and returning to sentinels, so T2K4 is back burnered. Heck, playable alpha was available in NOVEMBER to KS backers, and hasn't changed much.
 

PaulBaldowski

Mister Garland's Runner
When Elizabeth Tudor succeeded to the throne in 1558, she found herself under assault from all sides, paying for her father's arrogant machinations, and the weakened barrier between worlds his split with Rome had caused.

As magic and creatures of the supernatural proliferate throughout the land, the Queen passed an Act Against Conjurations, Enchantments and Witchcrafts, making the punishment for acts of magic more severe than others, but in many cases drawing the line before a death sentence. In 1564, John Dee and Francis Walsingham convinced the Queen to pass an amendment to the Act — The Dee Sanction — permitting the practice of magic in defence of the realm.

You are an Agent of Dee; not out of choice, but out of some twisted sense of self-preservation. Somewhere between conscription and penance, you work for Walsingham and Dee to make amends, with a faint hope that you can use your talents to earn your pardon and absolution.

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If only you can outrun the shadows of your past and the horrors of the present…

This is The Dee Sanction.


I think alternate history games make for fertile gaming ground because you can access a lot of reading material around the subject (or in the case of Twilight 2000, speculation and adjacent material) without needing to adhere to a canon road map of campaign development. In a historical game, like The Dee Sanction, that might mean that people live or die at odds with the true timeline, while factions, reimagined or completely fabricated, clash and scheme in pursuits of end games that never existed.

You can create whole new campaigns for power, plots to dethrone the Queen, or quests to engage new allies or acquire new weapons; but, when the ideas don't flow, the library has hundreds of "sourcebooks" to check out in pursuits of something new.
 

MGibster

Legend
If I ever run or play Twilight 2000 I am going to find some excuse to play Nena's "99 Luftballoons" as either the opening theme or perhaps playing from the radio of a broken down T-80 just outside of Krakow. At the time of release it was a near future game but I guess now the latest version is alternative history. (On a personal note, I don't know if I could actually play this game. It brings up a lot of memories about my childhood. Not bad or anything, the setting just hits a little close to home.)

I tend to think of alternative history as being something plausible though that's probably too restrictive. Harry Turtledove wrote a series of books where aliens invade the Earth during WWII and if that's alternative history than why not magic? So the main alternative history game I play is Deadlands. The original setting started in an alternative 1876 where the Confederacy had effectively won the Civil War and continued to have a tense relationship with the United States. In the latest version of Deadlands, the Civil War ended with a Confederate defeat in 1871.
 

Sir Brennen

Adventurer
I've run Unhallowed Metropolis, in one shots using the original system, and a campaign using Savage Worlds.

The premise, and point of historical divergence, is a zombie apocalypse takes place in 1905, decimating mankind. There is a related Blight that corrupts about 70% of plant and animal life on the planet as well, so much less arable land and livestock. The setting takes place 200 years later, with a timeline of humanity's struggles through the decades.

Also plan on running the latest version of Savage Worlds Deadlands for a future campaign.
 

GuyBoy

Explorer
Played a short game once as knights in the service of Bohemund of Taranto around the time of the First Crusade, with minor evil doings in Sicily to be dealt with first, then a larger plot to kidnap and sacrifice the princess of Byzantium (Anna Comnena iirc) to demonic forces. It was good fun.
 

GuyBoy

Explorer
I’ve also toyed with the following idea, but never to fruition. Maybe one day:

As the year 1,000 approached in Western Europe, there was considerable fear and foreboding that some form of apocalyptic event would take place. A bit like the millennium bug wobbles of 1999, but with lots more fire, brimstone, war, four horsemen etc.
Obviously nothing happened and we were able to merrily get on with the 11th century and all the joys that came with it.
But what if it did happen?
What form would it take?
What creatures would emerge from dark realms below the earth?

It is December 31st in the 999th year of our Lord, and it about to be Hell on Earth. Literally.......
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
I’ve also toyed with the following idea, but never to fruition. Maybe one day:

As the year 1,000 approached in Western Europe, there was considerable fear and foreboding that some form of apocalyptic event would take place. A bit like the millennium bug wobbles of 1999, but with lots more fire, brimstone, war, four horsemen etc.
Obviously nothing happened and we were able to merrily get on with the 11th century and all the joys that came with it.
But what if it did happen?
What form would it take?
What creatures would emerge from dark realms below the earth?

It is December 31st in the 999th year of our Lord, and it about to be Hell on Earth. Literally.......
Just do it!
 

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