Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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14
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
19
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5answers
4k 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
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
251 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
150 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 ...
-4
votes
3answers
280 views

Future People on Earth [closed]

I watch the TV show The Last Man on Earth and there is only a handful of women and men living. In the show the few are trying to conceive. They haven't covered how eventually they will have to inbreed ...
0
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7answers
235 views

Farm-Raised Venison Before the Common Era [closed]

According to The Modern Farmer, people have been farming deer since the 1970s. The link provided also explains the benefits deer farming has over conventional livestock farming. The one fundamental ...
14
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6answers
5k views

Julius Caesar with a one-time pad

Julius Caesar used a substitution cipher (now called a Caesar cipher) for sensitive private and military correspondence. The cipher involves shifting all of the letters in a message in one direction a ...
0
votes
2answers
350 views

What would the world be like today if a nuclear winter started in the 60's?

Obviously, any technological advancements that would have happened between the 60's and now would probably not have occurred, but I was wondering what the other possible consequences could be. ...
17
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7answers
5k views

How to split South Africa on racial lines? [closed]

I want to have a setting where South Africa instead of ending the apartheid peacefully it splits across the racial lines. Whites form a separate state in the Western Cape or any other province as long ...
5
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6answers
422 views

Armor increasing strength

Many games have various side bonuses on their armors other than just defense. These bonuses can often be active things like having a ghost thrall to protect you when wearing a special armor or more ...
1
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3answers
374 views

If a species of dolphins were developed with a few tentacles, what type of society would they build? [closed]

One of the most special things about humans compared to other animals is our industriousness. We have intelligence and we are able to make use of it. I was wondering if Dolphins, widely considered to ...
5
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1answer
1k views

Alternate History: A European Empire in the Middle Ages - Feasibility

Summary What is the most feasible change that could be made to European History to allow the creation of a United European Empire during the Middle Ages, before the Third Crusade? Background My ...
-1
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3answers
237 views

Can death create a loophole for two exact duplicate people existing in the same universe? [closed]

Here'a another one of my weird questions... So there's two universes, two of many in a many worlds/multiverse scenario. We'll call one Universe A and the other Universe B for sanity's sake. And there ...
1
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7answers
2k views

Could the Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte changed the outcome of WWII?

So, This is a VERY VERY BIG TANK. So big it crushes everything in its path (even the path itself). Assuming I lead Nazi Germany, I WILL deploy/create this tank. The issues of this tank are: (taken ...
8
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5answers
496 views

How can a pre-modern culture survive a sustained invasion accompanied by epidemics?

Assume the following situation: A pre-modern culture A exists on continent/island X with no previous contact with culture B (the invaders). Culture B discovers and invades X and the lands of A intend ...
2
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3answers
216 views

What if the Alliance went to war with the Soviet Union? [closed]

End of the Second World War, battle dust was still flying in the air, when Winston Churchill commands the launching of Operation Unthinkable. Without chance to celebrate victory, soldiers go to the ...
15
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7answers
3k views

Could the IJA have mounted an invasion through Alaska in this alternate timeline?

In an alternate timeline, the 1867 Alaska Purchase does not happen (the British do not fight in the Crimean War and instead aid Russia financially). Russia still controls Alaska in 1904 when war ...
36
votes
10answers
14k views

How would the indigenous peoples of North America have developed in the absense of the Europeans?

In some alternate history, Europeans never discovered the Americas for one reason or another. Maybe the initial motivations just weren't there, or maybe the visionaries of the day fell ill and died ...
7
votes
6answers
392 views

Is it reasonable for electric generators to come before steam engines?

Let us develop an industrial electric motor from first principles. Alessandro Volta developed a battery whose ingredients were copper, zinc, seawater, and imagination. These ingredients have been ...
2
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2answers
303 views

Wind-powered Industrial Revolution?

Would it be possible for a society to start an industrial revolution based around electric engines and windmills?
67
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22answers
13k views

What single change would have given the best chance for the Allies to win the Battle of France in early WWII

The obvious WWII alternate history question is how could the Axis have won. Let's try something different this time. The Battle of France was a big gamble for the Third Reich. They sent more or less ...
5
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9answers
3k views

How advanced could someone make a firearm with Medieval Technology

Assume I have someone who doesn't age, and has a lot of time to learn any skill or experiment with things, but who was born and raised (prior to becoming ageless) in a medieval farming village. He is ...
4
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0answers
244 views

Alternate History: What would an Inuit Empire look like? [closed]

Brunt of the question in the title. Given that some Inuit decide to settle in one place, ideally Iceland or Kamchatka, the Arctic is still a terrible place to develop technology. If they had ...
25
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7answers
6k views

Why can't a Tercio use crossbows and pikes?

The Spanish tercio was the premier infantry unit of the late 15th and 16th century, as exemplified at their one-sided demolition of the French army at Pavia in 1525. The tercio was a mixed unit of ...
0
votes
1answer
186 views

What weapons and technology can be used in alternate history set in late 1980s? [closed]

The plot is as follows: in 1986, after the Chernobyl disaster, the KGB staged a coup against Gorbachev and deposed him. This lead to a civil war in the USSR with some external actors involved. In ...
24
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6answers
5k views

Is it bad Worldbuilding to use the real world and history as a template for your own setting? [closed]

I love history and I love alternative history. But when I want to write alternative history myself, I quickly feel restricted. Now, I like mythologies and fantasy too. Now I came across an old map. ...
4
votes
1answer
764 views

How many nukes can explode in the US without seriously affecting Canada?

Perhaps you have read Margaret Attwood's story 'A Handmaid's Tale' (spoiler alert- entire plot synopsis)? I thought a prequil is in order. A story to explain how American society got to that point. ...
11
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6answers
2k views

Cruelty Free Vampirism

Setting: "One Big Lie" Sci-fi RPG The lies in this setting are an extension of relativity with a couple of extra dimensions allowing for FTL/Backwards Time Travel, and Thaumons. Thaumons (Magic ...
3
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4answers
184 views

Megatherium tool making

I have seen many questions and answers throughout this site, and as far I have understood, thumbs are not needed to use tools. Seems like many structures and objects can be used properly with any kind ...
0
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2answers
280 views

Would dragons rule the 18th century?

If there were dragons around in the 18th century, the Napoleonic era, would they terrorize humans as in the days of yore? Or would the invention of cannon, explosives, and other innovations end their ...
18
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9answers
5k views

How well would precision guided munitions work against early aircraft?

Premise: My setting incorporates an alternate history with a Martian invasion at the end of the 19th century as in War of the Worlds, the two major technical differences being that the Martians are ...
-7
votes
2answers
364 views

Could usable TNT be manufactured in the American Civil War?

Around the American Civil War period, TNT and nitroglycerin were discovered. This made me wonder... what if a more effective recipe for TNT was developed, and efforts were made to manufacture it? ...
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2answers
235 views

A world without Democratic process [closed]

What would happen if the world never took up the democratic process? Like if in a modern world America still has 50 states but each state is independently governed by a monarch. What kind of effect ...
3
votes
1answer
325 views

Native Americans + inverted Manifest Destiny [closed]

I was reading a graphic novel Black Science where the characters come upon a parallel universe where advanced Native American Tribes invaded Europe. An inverse manifest destiny, if you will. Suppose: ...
13
votes
7answers
707 views

What are the minimal questions I need to answer for Muslims and Vikings to have discovered America?

I want to start writing alternate history story, set in the 'Wild West' where there are factions of Muslims and non-Muslims vying for territory and resources. I need to have a reality check on this ...
-1
votes
1answer
98 views

Had the Eastern empires started colonizing territories which territory would bring to whom [closed]

In my world empires of the east like empires from China, India, and Indochina attempt a colonization of the Americas, Australia etc. Now considering that this colonization started in the 1400s and our ...
10
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2answers
440 views

Romans in the air

We know that the Romans invented or used simple machinery like waterwheels, crank mechanisms and even simple steam and atmospheric engines, as well as what we would recognize today as clockwork, but ...
7
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8answers
3k views

Why might modern demigods be unable to use guns? [closed]

In Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse, Annabeth’s dad, Dr. Chase comes in at the end of his book and uses a machine gun on his Sopwith Camel, along with some celestial bronze bullets he created in ...
-1
votes
1answer
873 views

What if the dark ages never happened? [closed]

What would the world be like today if the dark ages never occurred. If, in an alternate timeline for some reason the dark ages never happened what would modern life most likely be likely be like today
3
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6answers
1k views

What if the North Won the Civil War (but much quicker)?: Attitudes Towards Slavery

Historical Context In the early years of the Civil War, the North (United States/Union) struggled against the South (Confederate States). Battle after battle was lost to the South, despite the North'...
-3
votes
1answer
129 views

Could chimpanzees be the dominant species [closed]

What if I’m an alternate universe instead of humans, chimpanzees became the most intelligent species.what if after humans and chimpanzees split what if it was the chimpanzees who became intelligent, ...
0
votes
3answers
224 views

Rome sweet Rome 2: The Marines master Rome. What then? [closed]

Like in the classic 'Rome sweet Rome' scenario, a MEU is magically transported to Rome, with the following differences: They arrive at the time of the insane emperor Caligula, they are from the first ...
3
votes
2answers
197 views

Could a water-world planet with tides that create land support human civilisations?

If we lived on a planet similar to Earth with the same lengths for day and night - but the entire planet was covered (at some point in the year) by water, could civilisations exist and prosper as they ...
4
votes
3answers
506 views

If the US launched air strikes against Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, would any Soviet missile sites be able to survive?

So, this is a question I wanted to ask in relation to the blog post I made introducing the Cuban Missile War series of blog posts, which is the result of the Cold War escalating into World War III ...
20
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11answers
5k views

If Michigan had never become the center of the auto industry, what would it be known for? [closed]

In the United States, each state exists as a general stereotype in most Americans' minds, at least. Wisconsin is full of dairy farmers who dedicate their lives to the production of cheese; Texas is ...
7
votes
5answers
586 views

Allowing rural, isolated societies to maintain certain industrial capabilities?

My society/area is set in a isolated wasteland where the primary income of people is ranching. However, I want my people to be able to at least be able to maintain technology at a 1916 level (the ...
10
votes
9answers
2k views

The biggest flaw with a Democratic Taxation system? [closed]

Imagine a country where once a year, the citizens file a sort of vote with their tax return, where each return decides how taxes will be spent. Each citizen controls an equal portion of the taxes, ...
7
votes
8answers
764 views

Earliest possible colony in the Americas?

The first Europeans to land in the Americas were Viking explorers who arrived in the 1000s. Viking colonisation didn't last, and sustained European colonisation began after the late 1400s when ...
92
votes
15answers
28k views

If the Romans found one working steam engine would they have been able to copy and use it?

I Previously asked if the Romans could have built a steam engine to power a ship, which received a number of answers perhaps best summarised as “probably not but…”. Assuming the Romans couldn’t have ...

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