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Brainstorming an Alt-Dimension/Quasi-Star Trek setting

This sentence came out a bit hashed up. I'll note that in the Far East, gunpowder came about in the 9th century. The fall of Rome is in the 4th and 5th centuries.

So, there's some significant argument that adoption of Christianity played a significant part in the Fall of Rome. It led to yet another power structure adding to the internal squabbles, and also changed how Rome dealt with its client states. Pre-Christian Rome was expansionist, but not so autocratic. If you paid your taxes and made the required trade goods available, Rome was okay with allowing much local governance. This falls away as the empire starts trying to also force a religion on its client states, and made those states notably more difficult to govern. That's part of why I suggested taking Constantine I out of the picture. The Empire is politically more stable if it isn't trying to force religion on people.

Let us roll this forward somewhat. Rome does not fall in the 5th century. If we also don't have the Christian Church enforcing certain orthodoxy of thought, the end result is... no Dark Ages.
That ignores that the Roman self-division was one of the fundamental failings of 3rd C Rome, and in the 5th C, Rome lost access to papyrus from Egypt, as well as being sacked by barbarians, and suffering from a century of coerced conversion.

Without keeping the Egyptian papyrus flowing to Roma, (or coming up with paper,) writing, then later reading, becomes an increasingly rare skill, and there you slide into the dark ages.

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My suggestion is the 80's sci-fi cartoon "Ulises 31".

Do you know the RPG Augusta Universalis?


The science we know was possible only in the Western civilization thanks Christianity where the Nature has eternal rules can't be changed by feys or genies. The first universities, public hospital and orphans were built by the Church. And this faith allowed an unity between the different peoples of the Empire. Don't believe all said in Umberto Eco's "the Name of the Rose" or that type of books.

You have to remember the serious social crisis in the Roman empire, not only some epidemics, but demographic.

There was not only gladiator games and slavery, but also sex with underage was allowed, and foundling (abandoned children), the exposure of unwanted newborns wasn't rare.

From wikipedia about infanticide:

The historical Greeks considered the practice of adult and child sacrifice barbarous,[27] however, the exposure of newborns was widely practiced in ancient Greece, it was even advocated by Aristotle in the case of congenital deformity — "As to the exposure of children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall live.”[28] In Greece, the decision to expose a child was typically the father's, although in Sparta the decision was made by a group of elders.[29] Exposure was the preferred method of disposal, as that act in itself was not considered to be murder; moreover, the exposed child technically had a chance of being rescued by the gods or any passersby.[30] This very situation was a recurring motif in Greek mythology.[31] To notify the neighbors of a birth of a child, a woolen strip was hung over the front door to indicate a female baby and an olive branch to indicate a boy had been born. Families did not always keep their new child. After a woman had a baby, she would show it to her husband. If the husband accepted it, it would live, but if he refused it, it would die. Babies would often be rejected if they were illegitimate, unhealthy or deformed, the wrong sex, or too great a burden on the family. These babies would not be directly killed, but put in a clay pot or jar and deserted outside the front door or on the roadway. In ancient Greek religion, this practice took the responsibility away from the parents because the child would die of natural causes, for example, hunger, asphyxiation or exposure to the elements.

The practice was prevalent in ancient Rome, as well. Philo was the first philosopher to speak out against it.[32] A letter from a Roman citizen to his sister, or a pregnant wife from her husband,[33] dating from 1 BC, demonstrates the casual nature with which infanticide was often viewed:

"I am still in Alexandria. ... I beg and plead with you to take care of our little child, and as soon as we receive wages, I will send them to you. In the meantime, if (good fortune to you!) you give birth, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, expose it.",[34][35] "If you give birth to a boy, keep it. If it is a girl, expose it. Try not to worry. I'll send the money as soon as we get paid."[36]

In some periods of Roman history it was traditional for a newborn to be brought to the pater familias, the family patriarch, who would then decide whether the child was to be kept and raised, or left to die by exposure.[37] The Twelve Tables of Roman law obliged him to put to death a child that was visibly deformed. The concurrent practices of slavery and infanticide contributed to the "background noise" of the crises during the Republic.[37]

Infanticide became a capital offense in Roman law in 374 AD, but offenders were rarely if ever prosecuted

I’m not an expert on Roman history, and I’m not a big Trek fan, but I dig alt history.

A decent starting point of this might be to imagine Cesar somehow thwarting his assassination. That would seem to kind of send things in a direction that might allow Rome to persist largely along the lines of what was sited in the OP.

A turn from republicanism and the continuing ascension of the emperor....a more militant approach to expansion and negotiation....a resistance to outside influences or perhaps a subsumption of them....

All of that seems like a possible consequence of Cesar sticking around, and it all seems like possible leads into the kind of Rome wanted for the setting.

Could such a culture survive for so long? Probably not. But that doesn't make it beyond plausible as backstory for a game setting. Even assuming the major prevailing elements that you want included, there would still be room for some significant cultural fluctuation over time.


This isn't probably what you were thinking of, but I was working on a world where Rome never fell, and there had never been a "Dark Age" - sort of putting us 400-600 years further along than we are now.


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The “action” cartoons I remember from the 1980s were Star Trek, Flash Gordon, Dungeons & Dragons, Speed Racer, Robotech, G-Force, Voltron, Thundercats, He-Man, Thundarr the Barbarian and a few others, some of which I watched with more interest than others.


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That explains it.

I graduated HS in 86, and didn’t watch much TV in college besides late-night fantasy/horror/sci-fi series & movies. Especially on shows like Elvira.

Yes, well, my suggested timeline eliminates Constantine I. No Constantine, no Constantinople. No split of the empire.
Then you'd have the empire run into rebels at the ends... Britain was constantly in turmoil in the West, Jews in various levels of civil unrest to outright rebellion for hundreds of years.... raiders from literally all sides, and the ever increasing border making it harder to defend what's already conquered.

And when Egypt rebels, or worse, successfully revolts, the Papyrus shuts off, and Roman literacy falls, again, dark age. With or without Christianity, the ends of the empire cannot hold without regionalizing control... and that invariably leads to the dark age in the West. It may shift it a century either side, but paper, dating to about 200 AD in China, wouldn't be a thing in the west until the second millenium begins... And Parchment is physically harder to make, and requires a lot of animals. One per 8 pages is the quote from the recent Nova episode.

Egyptian independence is the most important driver for the loss of knowledge. The Vandals aren't the cause, but just the final nail of the coffin of Latin Civilization. The switch to parchment does usher in the book instead of the scroll... but going from a soldier's day's pay for a short story to a month for his general...

Without cheap writing material, widespread literacy begins to wain. Roman waxed slates were apparently not widespread, despite their being used in instruction as cheaper than paper... but Romans put anything important on papyrus scrolls. Perhaps drafted on wax on a board. To clear them, leave them on the hearth, laid flat, perhaps even iron them.

I read once in a Spanish article in the first century the Jews were the 10% of the population of the Roman empire.

If this is a fantasy setting, we could explain a villain from an alternate timeline traveled to the past to become emperor thanks his advanced high-tech. Later he would rather to become a power in the shadow, a cryptocracy or secret lobby controlling the official government.

Other option, and I suggest this, is to use a fictional counterpart, allowing more changes and avoiding potential controversies, for example empires from the Middle East as rivals or antagonists.

Gregory the Patrician - Wikipedia