Tell us about your Alt-History game

Stormborn

Explorer
I love alt.history stuff (or rather I go through phases where I do) and have bought a good deal of alt.history game related material (Mostly GURPS- but then they are the king of that kind of thing) but have actually run very little of it. For a long time that was partly due to the fact that I couldn't compete with knowledge of the history buff in the group, but he no longer plays RPGs with us.

What I have run falls mostly in the realm of short campaigns or one shots.

One was d20M and had the PCs (pregen) as members of the Order of the Emerald Delta investigating a mysterious explosion outside of Millton, NJ, Commonwealth of America on behalf of the Queen, one of Victoria's half-fey decendants. They interviewed Mayor Grover, whose family had the hereditary position for generations, and led them to a serious of CoC/War of the World encounters culminanting in the destruction of a Star Spawn. This was not, really, alt.history but Fantasy History.

Other campaigns have had a steampunk edge, but little discussion of the state of the world at large, and thus were more SciFi than Alt. History.

What alternate history campaigns have you run? What made them work or not? Do you have any that you are just dying to run?
 

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The_Gut

First Post
On Stranger Tides

I've always wanted to run a game based in the voduo/pirate world of Tim Powers on Stranger Tides.

With the release of True20's adept book, combined with their True20 freeport pirate stuff, this just might be doable (for me) now.
 

Tolen Mar

First Post
I'm DMing (at least until the middle of march...) an alt.history game. We're using the SilCORE rules. They are ok, but I'll definately be switching to something else for the next campaign.

Anyway, I fell in love with dream pod 9's Gear Krieg setting, so I took the information from the handful of books I have and created my own story.

Basically, it's 1938. Hitler is in power, and has been expanding his territory. No one believes that he is not developing new technology for war (in other words, we all know he's ignoring the Treaty of Versailles, but we all pretend we don't).

The campaign so far has had two adventures, with a third to start tomorrow. So far, our PC's (one a pilot of a cargo plane who makes runs between the Nile Delta and anywhere within reach of his plane, and the other a linguist from Columbia university), have managed to uncover a massive airship being built in the desert on a base that no one knew was there. They don't know it yet, but the airship is just the first of many, intended to be massive bomb carriers. The past two sessions have involved everything from escorts by German fighter planes, commando raids on hidden bases, and attempted assassinations.

So far, its all plausible. But wait, there's more. They are in possesion of both a Jet pack (ala the Rocketeer), and a lightning gun. They have seen one German walker (think mecha, but with a swastika), and encountered a Nazi zombie.

Tomorrow, they head to the Congo region to investigate a city built on one of the mountains. Its ancient, but is also of Inca design. They'll find a gate that if they can activate it, will allow them to instantly transport to any place in the world where another gate resides. Of course, once they learn all of this..guess who will show up?

I've been playing fast and loose with everything from historical timelines (in Gear Krieg walkers weren't efficient killing machines until the 40's), to technologies (full auto machine guns, anyone?), and even geography (they have been operating out of Cairo, but at one point during one of their flights, I told them they could see the jungle from here...).

Its all been a blast, and while I think the rules are too simplistic to stick with, they at least let me wing it a lot and it seems to fit my style of DMing well enough. Everyone voted for a pulp style game, and now they want less 'Indiana Jones meets Hitler' and more 'Indiana Jones explore exotic locales.'

Hey, if it keeps them coming back...:)
 

I’m currently working on a game set in Rome in 54bc. It’s earth with a little magic (I wouldn’t call it low magic, because I’m not going to restrict the players on that end, it’s just that most NPCs at the start won’t see anything higher than 5-7th level.) I made a few changes to the timeline to support the game’s premise: The Han Empire invades Rome. The first night of the game will be the capture of the city of Rome, and after that it’s going to depend on how the react to that.


Temporal deviations
Get rid of third punic war, less decisive end to second punic war - Carthage still exsists
Qin Dynasty discovers compass early second century BC - Allows chinese to circum navagate the globe; visit europe
Han Dynasty sends treasure ships to europe; snubbed by rome; aprox 50years earlier

I liked the idea of Carthage still being a power, it puts a little more pressure on Rome, with them on the west and Parthia on the east. I had to give the Chinese the compass about a thousand years early.

I’m not quite ready yet, I’m trying to make myself as familiar with the era as I can so I can add a good flavor and keep the setting dynamic and alive.
 

Jack7

First Post
Well, these are not really a set of alternative history games per se:


Our D&D game takes place in the Byzantine empire circa 800 AD. Everything in our world happens exactly like it did historically. But there is another world, like ours geogrhaically but that is inhabited entirely by different types of creatures, animals, flora, etc. No humans, lions, tigers, or bears.

But it (this other world) does have giants, elf and dwarf like creatures and its' own types of animals and so forth. In that world arcane magic is their technology, you might say. They employ arcane magic like we employ science and technology. But over time their magic has caused mutations or alterations in certain creatures and beings and that has led to the development of Korruh as they call them, or monsters as we call them. For some reason that no one can explain that world has been bleeding into ours and monsters and other creatures, and even some of their structures have been invading our world. the player characters go out and investigate these sightings of monsters and strange buildings and bizarre phenomena. In ordinary circumstances they encounter NPCs and groups as they would in our real world, pirates, foreign enemies, normal people, soldiers, etc.

But when they encounter a monster or a weird place then the game becomes sort of like Tomb Raider in the sense that weird things happen and magic works in a way that such things would not in our real world. But those phenomena are localized, and so most people never see that, usually only the characters encounter these weird things. In our world Divine Magic works but it is really more like the miracles associated with the Saints and Apostles and not directly controllable like in a normal D&D game. It is often interesting to see the unpredictable miracles the players try to invoke versus the bizarre arcane magic of this other world. It makes for very interesting magic and supernatural encounters. Right now my players are playing in a modified version of the Tomb of Horrors (though they don't know that's what it is) that they encountered near Gallipoli while on a mission to escort a legate from the Court of Charlemagne to the Byzantine Emperor at Constantinople. These Frankish ships were intercepted at sea just short of Gallipoli by pirates from Cypria and the party, finding a series of obviously modified sea caves thought that the caves might have been forward operating bases for the pirates along the coast. Once they got into the caves though the caves actually turned out to be an entrance to the Tomb of Horrors which is the temporary operating base of some monsters escaped from the other world. They don't know any of that yet, but they will find out tomorrow night.


We also play a game of my own devising called Outland Frontier which is a cross between a Western game and a pulp game, set in the American West (though they travel to South America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia) at the end of the Indian Frontier's War and the beginning of the pulp era. That is also not strictly speaking an alternative history game but the chanters do on occasion meet fictional people, like Holmes and a young Doc Savage and some fictional Western characters, as well as real historical characters from the era, like Sidney Reilly and WB Yeats and Theodore Roosevelt.


Thirdly we play another game of my own devising called Hammerstroke which is set in our real world present day and that is mostly based upon my own experiences and the experiences of my buddies and often concerns real cases and incidents we have worked and/or cases and incidents we have either studied or been indirectly involved in regarding International Criminal Cartels, various wars, terrorism, smuggling and pirating operations, and so forth. We introduce NPCs in the game who are based upon real people or people we know, but in disguised or camouflaged form. The thing I like about Hammerstroke is that it covers everything from small team tactical and Special Forces operations in Afghanistan to undercover street operations in American big cities and inside terrorist training camps. It is also a good espionage and Intel/Psy-ops game.


And the other RPG we play is also set in our present day but is actually and really an alternative world game because it is a superhero game. But the superheroes are an underground group of characters who aren't really even sure how they gained their powers or even how their powers operate most of the time. This team operates entirely secretly and for the most part is unknown to most people. Usually they handle criminal affairs, and we often use Dogtown (I like the game system - best and most realistic in many respects crime game RPG I've ever seen) as the method by which we run undercover operations and so forth. the characters often meet real world crime figures or terrorist agents (in game terms of course, not in real life, though some in-game NPC might be based on somebody that has been really met) or people based on that kind of person. And the superheroes are not really like Superman or the Hulk or anything like that, but are more like Batman and Daredevil and so forth, though they don't dress like them. And a lot of their work is either undercover ops or investigative or manhunting or disassembling gangs or terrorist cells, though occasionally they work with the Mission Teams from Hammerstroke. Once they even directly assisted both US Army Intel and Interpol. So they (the superheroes) are functionally variable.


So although none of these games is strictly alternative history, they are all alternative world in one sense or another, and all deeply employ history as a backdrop...

What I, and my players like about them is that they are close enough to the real world to be interesting and useful, and yet allow enough creative flexibility and imagination to play things and events that are usually beyond normal experience.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
For years my main campaing has been an alternate earth...with D&D...about 80-90% by book.

It works better then you think. As long as you don't get hung up on things, and remember alternate.

stuff here: www.terra-viejo.net
 

adwyn

Community Supporter
I'm running a d20 game, pbp and face to face, in which the players are American spies operating in Europe 25 years after the US civil war ended in a stalemate. This is primarily a historical game so magic has been limited to some seance stuff and such. Most of the plots involve trying to thwart Imperial German and Austro-Hungarian agents who have are trying to stir up a war between the US and the Confederacy so as to grab colonies in Central America while the US is distracted.
 

Jack7

First Post
I'm running a d20 game, pbp and face to face, in which the players are American spies operating in Europe 25 years after the US civil war ended in a stalemate. This is primarily a historical game so magic has been limited to some seance stuff and such. Most of the plots involve trying to thwart Imperial German and Austro-Hungarian agents who have are trying to stir up a war between the US and the Confederacy so as to grab colonies in Central America while the US is distracted.


That's an extremely interesting idea.
The Civil War and the outcome of it was the genesis of so much that is modern about warfare, espionage, politics, etc.

What happened in Europe, between Napoleon, the Russians, the Brits and so forth?
Did any of that change?
 

Woas

First Post
I came up with the idea of a Second American Civil War awhile back. It was spurred from a conversion I had with a friend of mine about Up state vs. Down state New York... I've yet to run an RPG with the setting, but I did make it into a custom PBEM Diplomacy game.
The premise is that several regions of the USA get so far apart from each other that it fractures into several areas (instead of just North and South) with each state having its own little agenda.
 

painandgreed

First Post
I have two games i am working on writing:

Flying Saucers of the SS

Nazi occultism paid off in the years leading up to the second world war. Expeditions to Tibet and Anarctica discovered artifacts of past races including the first of the flying saucers the Nazis would use. Luckily, the works of Wilhelm Reich offered insights into how the alien artifacts worked and after a saucer was lost to allied cloudbursters during the battle of Britain, Hitler refused to risk any more in military operations. Instead, he ordered them to scour the planet to uncover more occult and technological secrets scattered through the world. As the Nazi empire crumbled, Hitler was almost killed by an attempt on his life by his high staff. His brain was moved into a canister using alien technology. As the allies marched through Europe, they uncovered horrible secrets. Concentration camps that were set up for horrible experiments, machines driven by blood and death, and that the true "master race" the Nazis talked about was not the blond haired blue eyed aryans, but rather other races from a primoridial past that had interbred with humanity.

The year is 1948, the last die hards of the SS have fled in the saucers with Hitler's brain and are now have secret bases in antarctic mountain cities, tunnels that span the globe and teh far side of the moon. The players are a combination of military and science personnel whose job is to hunt down and destroy the nazi threat to humanity.

Then the follow up game:

Flying Saucers of the KGB

After WW2, the Nazis were defeated and their secrets divided up between the Soviet Union and the United States along with their respective allies. If a cold war based in espionage and the occult wasn't enough, youth culture is also on the rise. It's a dangerous new world that is on the edge of not only nuclear war but also occult threats just as dangerous as any gifted cult leader might stumble on a method to call back the things that were, are and shall be again. Secret agents span the world acting as spies, assassins, and counter cultists, in an effort to save the world. The trouble is who is it being saved for when nobody can be trusted?

Released on PDF once I get off my ass and finish writing them.
 

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