Thursday, April 29, 2021

50 Alternate History Divergence Points

Alternate history exists in the orange zone for me - the constant need to stay on the alert for bad actors swiftly drains the fun from the exercise. But the concept is fun, so I dabble on my own from time to time. Here's a bunch of dabbling - while writing it popped into my head that these are some excellent backdrop events for Esoteric Enterprises games.


  1. Successful rebellion of the enslaved in colonial America.
  2. Venera probes discover life on Venus.
  3. Christianity takes root in Japan, syncretizes.
  4. Near complete works of Sappho's poetry found, translated and printed.
  5. Linear B deciphered.
  6. Fred Hampton dies of natural causes at the age of 102.
  7. Yeshua ben Yosef writes a short ethical treatise.
  8. Human-elephant communication achieved.
  9. Tunguska meteor devastates Moscow.
  10. Wow! signal confirmed as an accidentally-intercepted alien message.
  11. George Lucas discovers a love of anime; Star Wars is animated.
  12. Judaism takes strong root in Central Asia.
  13. Britain hires a non-idiot to draw the borders of their colonial territories.
  14. Mid-Atlantic Ridge is already rising above the surface.
  15. Chinese colony in the Americas thrives for a time, and then falls apart.
  16. Battle of the Spanish Armada ends in mutual defeat.
  17. Electoral college abolished.
  18. Sea Peoples identified.
  19. Neanderthal populations and cultures survive to the modern day.
  20. English spelling reform takes off
  21. A large number of remarkable works are properly written and preserved this time.
  22. Treaties made with First Nations are upheld.
  23. American film industry remains on east coast.
  24. Shakespeare's adaptation of Don Quixote survives.
  25. Columbus' ships are lost in transit.
  26. French Revolution spawns one in England.
  27. The bear at the Duluth Sector Direction Center is not discovered in time.
  28. Humans able to resist smallpox virus.
  29. Who imported all these hippos as food god damn it!
  30. Hays Code is never put into practice.
  31. Jacobite Rebellion succeeds.
  32. Nuclear weapons never deployed.
  33. Augustus dies of an infection and fever at 23.
  34. Electric wind turbines adopted before oil becomes popular.
  35. Some non-avian dinosaurs manage to survive.
  36. Mark Zuckerberg's parents succeed at instilling a moral conscience in their son.
  37. East India Company suffers a catastrophic early collapse.
  38. Dodo is domesticated and spreads worldwide.
  39. Bison are domesticated in the Americas
  40. Women's suffrage in America adopted during the Second Great Awakening.
  41. Taping Rebellion able to form breakaway nation from Qing China.
  42. A natural waterway links the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean; Gibraltar is closed.
  43. The Sahara remains verdant up through the modern day.
  44. Mars is slightly larger than Earth.
  45. Earth is a moon of a temperate gas giant.
  46. Northern Europe has spices now.
  47. Antarctica is sitting out in the South Pacific.
  48. An esperantido is adopted as Euro-auxillary language.
  49. Doggerland remains above sea level.
  50. Chernobyl meltdown avoided. 

Or all of them at once.


  1. Decided to avoid any of the really wacky ones, but maybe there will be another list for those.

  2. I got to about the 23rd and thought "all of them at once", glad to see [redacted] minds think alike!

  3. Some more ideas:

    1. Many Nazis bound for Operation Paperclip are intercepted and executed by the Soviets.

    2. Typhoons fail to arrive in timely fashion during Mongolian invasions of Japan.

    3. Mutant canine distemper virus wipes out domestic dogs 10,000+ years ago.

    4. Nasserism stays strong after the Six-Day War & Nasser's death.

    5. United Nations Special Committee grants Madagascar to newly formed Jewish state rather than Palestine.

    6. Simon Bolivar's dream of independent and united South America is realized.

    7. Comanche fight settlers to a standstill, hold independent territory.

    8. Roaring '20s ravaged by mass resurgence of dancing mania.

    9. Gary Gygax drafted to fight in Vietnam, dies.

    10. Jeffrey Epstein doesn't """kill himself""".

  4. Someone actually wrote a book about No. 29; look up Bearfish on Amazon.

  5. Spartacus revolt sacks ascendant rome.

    Haiti isn't ostracized and punished following the revolution.

    1918 German revolution succeeds.

    Sino Soviet split never happens.

  6. 1. Baghdad never sacked, the House of Wisdom remains largest repository of human knowledge into modern day.

    2. Catherine of Aragorn catches Henry cheating on her, kills him in crime of passion before the Anglican Church can be founded.

    3. Natural fission reactor in Oklo remains active until present day, discovered by sovereign Kingdom of Congo in 1400s.

    4. Epigenetics discovered in 1800s, used to help Lamarckian inheritance supplant evolution by natural selection as dominant theory of speciation.

    5. Cortez killed by paranoid aides to Moctezuma II.

    6. Roman 20-sided dice used to found tabletop gaming as a genre of media 2000 years early.

  7. The Indians won.
    Great but almost impossible to find book by Martin Cruz Smith.

  8. There was a brief period after WWII when Americans were discussing statehood for all sorts of territories or occupied nations, including

    * Hawaii
    * Other US-occupied Pacific islands, such as the Marshalls
    * The Philippines
    * Japan
    * Iceland
    * Alaska
    * Puerto Rico

    Almost any combination of these makes an interesting divergence point.