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Questions tagged [alternate-history]

For questions that ask what might have happened if history had taken a different path.

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6answers
3k views

How much alteration would be needed for the Cuban Missile Crisis to go nuclear?

My story takes place centuries in the future, in the year 2567. Over 600 years ago, during 1962, an all out nuclear war broke out. Most modern day historians believe it to have occurred in autumn, but ...
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3answers
112 views

Ice Age Cavalry

The history of horse domestication, according to recent research, starts somewhere on the plains of eastern Europe 6,000 years ago. Since then, cavalry had become a major turning point in Old World ...
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1answer
62 views

Switch men and women' social position? [on hold]

In my world, women always covered powerful roles since the beginning of the human species. They were warriors, politicians, leaders, and the head of a family. How should my world differ from ours to ...
2
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2answers
154 views

Living on an Island - Minimal Population for Free Choice of Partnership

Ok, I'm working on an creating a fantasy island. It plays in a similar time like the 17th to 18th century. Everyone on the island has one job, so he/she can focus on it. I estimated ~35 Jobs so far ...
9
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2answers
190 views

Can a star with a large habitable zone have two planets revolving each other as they revolve around their star,?

Just an idea that had me doing a lot of navel gazing. Both planets are habitable to carbon based life forms, but intelligent life on each planet evolves very differently. Eventually, the two life ...
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4answers
3k views
+50

Finding real world historic examples of cultures/organizations/tribes to represent Orcs

I plan to make this a series of questions to avoid being overly broad. Each question will address a particular fantasy species ("race" in RPG terms). The traits will be based on the content included ...
182
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13answers
20k views

Is there a single historic event which could be changed to cause the USA to use SI units?

I am time traveller with aim to make world better. Last time I went to the past, all I heard was: "Kill Hitler!" So I went to the past and I must tell you, April 1945 was pretty loud in Berlin! ...
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6answers
248 views

What unexplained historical events or disasters could a kaiju have been responsible for?

I am currently exploring the idea of writing an SF / alternate history series that inserts kaijus into historical events. Specifically, I'm looking for unexplained or strange historical events that ...
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9answers
823 views

Finding real world historic examples of cultures/organizations/tribes to represent Elves

I plan to make this a series of questions to avoid being overly broad. Each question will address a particular fantasy species ("race" in RPG terms). The "racial" traits will be based on the content ...
-1
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2answers
92 views

How could a modern company-state form? [closed]

In today's society, with most if not all of the surface land masses claimed by existing nations, and nations' authority being supported by virtue of recognition of other states, how would a company be ...
6
votes
2answers
181 views

What would a medieval steam locomotive look like?

My question is pretty simple, if the steam locomotive were invented during the middle to late medieval period, what would it look like? We are just going to ignore how it was invented. My guess is ...
5
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9answers
530 views

Was it possible to keep the nuclear mechanism of the atom bomb a secret?

After the bombing of Hiroshima, US President Harry Truman issued a speech talking about the use of an "atomic bomb". But was it possible to keep this mechanism a secret? Perhaps by pretending it was a ...
29
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5answers
4k views

How could the Mafia retain its power in New York into the new century?

A mutant who sees multiple futures has predicted that the world will be invaded by aliens. Every future ends disastrously for the human race with us being wiped out. The only one in which we survive ...
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4answers
129 views

Could the Romans have Invented Graphene? [closed]

This scenario is inspired by this article. Long ago, it was thought that this super-cool, extra strong material called carbon nanotubes is a recent invention. After all, what ancient culture could ...
13
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4answers
313 views

Can the Mongols conquer France?

Background In the mid 13th century, France was without a doubt the richest land of the West. Inside its modern borders there were perhaps 18 million people, and maybe more, at that time perhaps 1/5 ...
7
votes
3answers
181 views

How does Maximilian establish a lasting Mexican Empire?

On 20 October 1861, while in Paris, Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph Maria von Hapsburg, brother of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, received a letter from Jose Maria Gutierrez de Estrada, a Mexican ...
10
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16answers
3k views

Radio technology: Receiving without the ability to transmit

Scenario: In my alternate-Earth scenario, Europeans did not colonize the Americas. They use navigation only to circumnavigate Africa and go to India. Maybe they know there is something to the West, ...
8
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4answers
2k views

Could the Library of Alexandria have survived until today?

The Royal Library of Alexandria was one of the greatest library of the ancient world. However it was destroyed during the 3rd century after years of decline. Was such a library doomed to ...
0
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1answer
145 views

How big can my tank be? [duplicate]

In an alternate 1950s cold war, the Soviet Union and the United States (and their NATO and Warsaw pact allies) are locked in an arms race not unlike our own. What's the difference you ask? Instead of ...
6
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3answers
147 views

All hail the sun disk! How to maximize ancient Egypt's acceptance of Ahkenaten's religion?

Premise Ahkenaten was a bit of a heretical pharaoh in ancient Egypt. While it was customary at the time for the pharaoh to choose a god to be associated with, Ahkenaten went further and proclaimed ...
8
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6answers
1k views

Preventing the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire

In this alternative reality Constantine the Great never embraces the Christianity and the Roman Empire remains polytheistic. So I would like to know what realistic change(s) could have prevented the ...
2
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6answers
317 views

Pacific war with Europe at peace [closed]

January 1939, Hitler has a dream where he sees that he will lose the war he is planning. Thus, he renounces to war and doesn't invade Poland. Mussolini does the same dream a few weeks later and ...
2
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7answers
199 views

JFK has clones, is he still safe?

Premise Human cloning tends to discombobulate our moral compasses; the potential for scientific gain and the potential for abuse are vast. Now, contrast this moral dilemma with the public sentiment ...
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15answers
5k views

How might a Professor of Mathematics Change History?

A professor of mathematics is sent back in time to a post-Neolithic farming village. They accept him as their wise man, and he spends 30 years teaching them all he knows about mathematics until he ...
8
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6answers
749 views

Survival strategy for a time traveller in the Roman empire [closed]

I would like to know what would be the best strategy to survive and prosper in the roman empire for a time traveller? Let's say that the time traveller is a 30-year-old Italian from the XXI century ...
19
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5answers
4k views

AIDS vs Great Plague in medieval period

The Great Plague is known as one of the worst pandemics in human history as it killed between 75 and 200 million people from 1347 to 1351 (according to wikipedia). I would like to know if AIDS had ...
7
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7answers
2k views

How would racial perceptions be different if the atlantic slave trade had been outlawed from the beginning?

We all know about the horrific history of the slave triangle which transported people from Africa to the Caribbean and America in exchange for sugar and other plantation produce. I'm trying to ...
42
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4answers
8k views

Is it possible to create a Gas Mask using only Medieval Technology?

This question was inspired by this one, which brought up the concept that a lot of the issues with a sword that created toxic fumes would also kill the user (that question also has one of the best ...
1
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2answers
176 views

Population of Europe if the bubonic plague never hit?

I'm writing a story about an alternate timeline wherein the bubonic plague never appeared. I was trying to figure out what the population of Europe (the area of the world most affected by the plague) ...
5
votes
3answers
210 views

Cost and efficiency of naval vs railway transport in mid-19th century

I'm creating a developed country in South America with its development similar to that of Canada or Australia (little behind the US). See the map below - the white line surrounds fertile and populated ...
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3answers
241 views

How could fascist Italy have survived into the modern world?

In this alternate timeline, Hitler was killed during the first great war. This prevented the Nazis from becoming a true force in Germany. The real threat came from communism in Russia under a man ...
4
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3answers
149 views

In an age of flying sailing ships, would airfoils be invented earlier or later, and what uses might they serve?

In the question What would an age of sail flying ship look like?, I wrote an answer which defines the type of flying sailing ships that I am considering for this question. To clarify matters, keel ...
21
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3answers
6k views

How advanced can a civilization get without zero?

More or less exactly what it says on the tin. Start with a group of cavemen on prehistoric earth, discovering fire, language, wheels, etc, and walk them along the path to civilization, but with one ...
7
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2answers
328 views

Would an earlier HIV pandemic be a realistic, plausible historical apocalypse scenario?

The most recent common ancestor of the HIV-1 M group, responsible for the HIV pandemic, dates back to the Belgian Congo city of Léopoldville (modern Kinshasa), circa 1910. And the genetic history of ...
1
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5answers
314 views

Could a powerful Roman Empire exist alongside the British Empire? [closed]

I hope this question isn't too big and broad. In my post-apocalyptic series set in the years 2050-2200 in New Zealand after a nuclear war. (this question pertains to pre-war history) This version of ...
28
votes
16answers
9k views

Would evolution happen the same exact way if Earth restarted?

If Earth instantaneously reverted back to when the only organisms were small microscopic creatures in the sea, would evolution happen the same exact way creating the same animals and species? Was ...
17
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3answers
338 views

Reality check: Buddhist Aztecs

Idea Is the following alternate history setup conceivable: Central Mexico has been converted to Buddhism by missionaries arriving from East Asia or South-East Asia hundreds of years before European ...
15
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4answers
2k views

Could Catholicism have survived as the dominant religion in England if it had allowed aristocratic polygamy?

The proximate cause of the Anglican Church's split from the Roman Catholic Church, which retained more vestiges of Roman Catholicism than other major early Protestant Church denominations, was the ...
0
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2answers
78 views

What would the consequences of a longer glacial period be for modern Earth? [closed]

How would a generally colder climate effect the growth of horse-nomad cultures out of the Eurasian Steppe? Could similar cultures have simply developed further south, or would it have put a hold on ...
13
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7answers
710 views

What change in history would cause the Dutch to speak German?

What single change(s) in history would cause the Dutch people to be speaking German instead of Dutch? I understand that German and Dutch are both Germanic languages and share a common ancestry, as ...
0
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1answer
67 views

Is there a way to force Reagan to stay in Beirut after 1983 bombing? [closed]

Is there any possibility for Reagan to stay entangled in the Lebanese civil war after the suicide attack on the barracks in 1983? Maybe a missile attack that sinks one of the carriers would force ...
4
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1answer
244 views

Time travel to the mid-1980's - how do you sneak into society and make a ton of money as fast as possible? [closed]

The scenario: You are from the distant future, and are trapped in a parallel universe in the mid-1980's. You cannot expose your true identity and your only resource is a hidden laboratory where you ...
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2answers
164 views

Russia and France: Could they be allies?

So, my alternate timeline, I decided to have it start during the War of 1812. But in order for my alternate timeline to work as planned, I need Russia to become allies with France under certain ...
0
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1answer
143 views

Texas expansion: Military

Alternate Timeline So let's say that there is a dragged out War of 1812 that splits the north and south. Southerners moving west will be moving into Texas. There is thus more manpower in Texas and so ...
4
votes
1answer
179 views

What if Great Britain never took over the Dutch Cape Colony in 1806?

The Dutch Cape Colony was a strategic location for European powers that traded and conquered Asia. During the Napoleonic Wars Great Britain sought to take over strategic locations, such as the Cape ...
14
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3answers
2k views

Is it possible for a wooden medieval era ship to carry a ballista inside that fires from the ship s prow?

I'm writing a fantasy novel and in it I'm designing a huge wooden ship moved by sail and man powered wheel paddle, and I wonder if it would be possible for the ship to carry a ballista inside that ...
18
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4answers
3k views

Ancient Light Trigger Mechanism

In the first scene of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, we see a booby trap where a series of spikes are thrusted out of a wall, and are triggered by "walking into the light". I think in ...
1
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7answers
474 views

U.S.A. with 51 states? [closed]

In a slightly different timeline, the flag is seen to have 51 stars. What are plausible (and interesting) candidates for another state? I could just pick a territory※ and imply that it became a ...
3
votes
2answers
153 views

If the Milky Way contained a Quasar

If the central Milky Way contained a highly active, accreting quasar, with a steady luminosity of 100 trillion solar that is 27,000 lightyears away and became active 27,000 years ago (the emissions ...
3
votes
2answers
109 views

Vigenère cipher with a regularly-changing key

There's a plot point in my current piece that involves some encrypted radio messages to/from a hidden lab and corporate headquarters, some time in the 1910s. In-universe, the corporation's board of ...