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Random ideasby Thorfinn Tait
This is a really great idea! It actually gives us a very plausible explanation for all the different versions and variations of Mystara each of us has, allowing us to explain away campaign differences by saying that it's just another alternate reality.
There are already some ideas for this at the Vaults too - notably the World in Flames series of posts, in which Bruce Heard contributed.
Some short ideas of my own:
- Blackmoor never blows itself up. Mystara becomes a world of technomagic, ruled by wizard-scientists, etc. etc. It could go in many different directions - cyberpunk, steampunk, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.
- Thanatos and Ranivorus fail in their attempts to corrupt the Nithian Empire, and it continues to rule large sections of the world up to the present day. Nithian culture dominates, and many nations in the main timeline probably never come to be.
- The Elves destroy Blackmoor and prevent the Great Rain of Fire at the last minute. Humans are decided to be too dangerous to be allowed to survive, and a holy war wipes them out in huge numbers before the elves realise that they have gone too far. This results in a modern world with elves as the dominant race (possibly other demihumans too), in a world where humans are scarce, often persecuted or relegated to the role of servants. Another interesting factor would be the role of nature, because the elves presumably returned to their traditional ways, and the worship of Ordana, resulting in a nature-rich modern environment.
- Humanoids rule. In this version, the humanoids are the major players in the world, with humans and demihumans as the outlaws and renegades on their borders.
- The Red Curse expanded. At some point, the Curse spreads to ever-wider regions of the world, resulting in a world centred on the Savage Coast, with greatly increased population and power in that area.
- Immortals are no more. The Immortals were exterminated, probably by a powerful adversary such as the Carnifex, something from beyond the Dimensional Vortex, the Draeden (although quite why I have no idea), etc. Clerics are non-existent, and the world is a much grimmer place, where disease and injury are much more serious. And of course the movers and shakers are mortal rulers rather than Immortal manipulators.
- The World with No Magic. The Radiance was discovered much earlier, and possibly remained secret from most of the Immortals for much longer. As a result, it was over-used and ended up draining Mystara's magic much more than in the official timeline.
- Ethengar overruns the Known World. This is a great timeline for an Ethengar campaign. Basically the Great Khan decides to take over the world, and to a large extent manages.
- Thyatis is taken over by the Hattians. Oh dear, this sounds bad. Obviously the Storm Soldiers would become a much bigger issue, and we end up with a World War II style situation with Nazi-like racial hatred and so on.
- The Milenian Empire in Davania never failed. Something or someone managed to save it from its corruption and eventual fragmentation, and it becomes a major player in the modern world. This one is interesting because it is actually relatively easy to fit into the modern setting.
- The Hollow World unleashed. The Spell of Preservation fails, and the residents of the Hollow World become free to expand with impunity. Smaller cultures are wiped out, and the massive powerhouse nations (Nithia, Azca, Milenia, possibly others) begin a land grab to get as much territory as they can. Eventually they discover the Outer World, and the entire world, inside and out, is embroiled in a huge power struggle. The most interesting part here is that most of the Hollow World nations have access to resources built up over thousands of years, and quite vast amounts of power.
- The Sylvan Realm never dies. The elves manage to defeat Moorkroft, and they maintain their kingdom up to the present day. This results in a more powerful position for the elves, possibly with Alfheim as a colony subservient to the Sylvan Realm.
- The Canolbarth Expanded. When the Alfheim elves arrive to create the Canolbarth Forest, they underestimate their powerful magics, and end up creating a much larger forest. It overtakes a large part of Darokin, possibly even encompassing a large tract of the Streel River. This puts the elves at the centre of the Known World, with Darokin just a small nation around Lake Amsorak.
- Immortal War. Something catastrophic leads the Immortals to all out war between themselves. The spheres fight each other, eventually culminating in the Sphere of Entropy taking advantage of the situation to try to force a power shift, allowing Entropy to regain its previous position of power and split into four Spheres, with the current "good" Spheres merging back into one Sphere of Life. (As explained in PC1.) Of course, during the war the rule of non-intervention collapses, with literally earth-shaking results. Immortals descend to Mystara where they control their followers directly.
- The Gnomes Live! I have always been sad that there are so few communities of gnomes on Mystara. Well, in this timeline, that problem is no more. The gnomes of the Known World drive out their kobold enemies, retaining their strongholds and cities, and prospering into the present day. Serraine is just one among a large number of flying skygnome cities, and under the ocean there are large numbers of seagnomes living in domed cities with leaky submarines. Of course, fantasy technology is rampant in this version of the world, and the gnomes probably form significant subcultures in most nations, providing them with weapons as well as everyday appliances.
- Dark Nithia. The Nithian Empire is fully corrupted, but the Immortal Council of the Hierarchs votes against interfering. The dark nation runs riot around the world, corrupting everything and leaving large areas in dark, twisted ruin from their evil destructive magics.
- Alphatia Rules All. The Alphatian Empire's spike attack on Thyatis in 959 succeeds, and Thyatis is assimilated into the Empire. From then on, Alphatia takes the nations of the Known World one by one, until only a few undesirable places are left outside the Empire's grip.
As a last note, a great source of reference for this project would be the TV show Sliders from the late 90s. It dealt with alternate timelines in every episode, and could easily give tons of interesting ideas, both minor timeline variants as well as quite major ones.