What If [insert important historical event] never happened? How would the world be different?
Alternate History is a type of Speculative Fiction, set in a world where one or more historical events unfolded differently than they did in the real world. Common changes involve the outcome of WWII, the American Civil War, or the fall of Rome. Sometimes it'll be a single character who died early, or lived to invent/conquer/reform more, and thus causes all the changes. Sometimes a single technology (or it's lack) dramatically alters the course of history. The event that starts history on a different track than our own is called the Point of Divergence.
Alternate History can exist as a subgenre of it's own, being firmly rooted in (and exploring) the alternate version of the world. In such a tale, the "real world" doesn't exist. Such tales might actively seek out to subvert, invert, or mutate existing tropes.
On the other hand, Alternate History can be intertwined with Time Travel, in which case the actions of the Time Travelers probably cause the changes in history. See For Want Of A Nail, In Spite Of A Nail, Delayed Ripple Effect, and Rubber Band History for examples.
- Secret History
- Counterfactual History
- I Want My Jet Pack
- The Great Politics Mess Up
- Twenty Minutes Into The Future
Alternate History Campaign Settings
Game and Story Use
- Pick your favorite Point of Divergence and dive in!