Four New Alternate Earths for Time-Travel Campaigns

© 1998 by Christopher Innes [cinnes@www.ats.com.au]

I have just brought a copy of GURPS Time-Travel to complement my copy of GURPS Alternate Earths. After reading this I have been inspired to create four new alternate Earths for the Infinite Worlds campaign.

Earth-Zeta

This Quantum-5 parallel is exactly like Homeline, with one exception -- Dr. Paul Van Zandt never existed and the science of parachronics was never developed. It is currently in the year 1998. This world is TL7 bordering on TL8. It is of considerable interest to historians who are very interested in seeing how Homeline would have developed without parachronics. For this reason interference has been kept to a minimum. Otherwise this world is generally uninteresting.

(Note: this parallel is actually our Earth.)

Gray Goo

This is a Quantum-7 disaster parallel where Nanotechnology has run amok, destroying all life on Earth -- except for that created by Nanotechnology. On this world the entire surface of the planet (including the surface of the oceans) are covered with a seething mass of dull gray semi-liquid. This mass is actually a single living entity, and is composed of trillions upon trillion of microscopic nanomachines. This entity is powered by solar and geothermal energy.

This world is in the year 2010. Evidence suggests that 15 years earlier human researchers developed prototype self-replicating nanomachines. These nanomachines escaped confinement and proceeded to multiply at an exponential rate, absorbing most materials they came into contact with -- including living organic matter. Infinity Unlimited estimates that it only took 1 year for the nanomachines to cover all land, and a further year to blanket the surface of the oceans. Now the only evidence that human life ever existed is a few derelict satellites still orbiting the Earth.

As stated, all these nanomachines form one living entity. Researchers have dubbed this entity "The Nanocosm". The motives of the Nanocosm are unfathomable to Infinity Unlimited researchers. The Nanocosm could be capable of colonizing space and other planets, but seems to have no interest in doing so. Researchers suggest that it might be engaged in meditation on some unknown subject, or that it could be sleeping. Another alternative, and one with some evidence to support it, is that the Nanocosm has to spend a substantial amount of its' energy suppressing aspects of its' personality which are constantly trying to break away and form new organisms.

In any case, Infinity Unlimited has not communicated with the Nanocosm. It is afraid that if it were made aware of Parachronic technology it might try to build it's own conveyers and then colonize every other Quantum-7 parallel.

Infinity Unlimited has declared this world Closed and subject to the strictest quarantine. No matter can ever be retrieved from this parallel. Only fully-stealthed robot sensors without conveyers can be sent, and they are vaporised by in-built explosives when they are no longer needed.

Early fears that Centrum might use the Nanocosm as a weapon have been allayed by the realization that Centrum is as frightened of the Nanocosm as Homeline is. Homeline and Centrum have made a formal agreement (one of the very few that both parties respect) that no matter will ever be retrieved from this world, and that every effort will be made to avoid alerting the Nanocosm to the existence of The Secret.

Some scientists have suggested that fear of the Nanocosm is misplaced. They theorize that the only reason it was able to replicate so quickly and so thoroughly was because physical laws are subtly different in this parallel. On any other parallel it might replicate at a far slower rate, and even stop spreading after it had reached a certain size or mass. However there is no proof for this theory, and so Gray Goo continues to be treated with the utmost caution.

As a side note Homeline researchers (and probably Centrum researchers) are currently developing a means of destroying the Nanocosm, just in case.

Topsy-Turvy

When Infinity Unlimited first discovered this Parallel Earth, they could not relate the land masses, features and coastlines they discovered to any on Homeline. Then after an extensive survey the truth hit home -- the land masses are the same as Earth, only the entire planet seems to have been tipped over 90 degrees on it's axis!

From Homeline perspective, the Equator runs through Antarctica, Australia, SE Asia, Eastern Siberia, The Arctic Ocean, and along the eastern parts of the Americas. The North Pole is located in south-central Africa. The South Pole is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The South Pole is always free of pack ice, even in the coldest winters. This should mean that the sea-level would be higher than on Homeline. However, the sea-level seems to match Home-Line's very closely. This appears to be accounted for by the very large ice-cap over the North Pole (i.e. over central Africa).

This world is slightly warmer and receives slightly more UV radiation than Homeline. The overall average rainfall is considerably greater than Homeline's. Most of the land surface (outside Africa) is covered by rainforest. The plants and animals seem to match Homeline's quite closely.

Humans do exist, scattered over the surface of the planet in small TL0 bands of nomadic hunter-gatherers. They have developed two areas of civilization, however. One is in Antarctica, along the Antarctic Peninsula, and the other is on the coast of western (from Homeline perspectives) Siberia. These are both TL2 bronze-age civilizations with simple writing. These superficially resemble the Mayan culture, with stepped pyramids set in rainforest surrounds (although that is where the resemblance ends). The two areas of civilization have no contact with each other.

As a side note, the higher UV means that all humans have dark-bronze or black skins (the Antarctic and Arctic city-builders having black skins because or their proximity to the Equator).

There is no resemblance between the human languages spoken on Topsy-Turvy and the languages on any other known parallel. The simple picture-writings used by the Antarctic and Arctic civilizations also bears no resemblance to any other known writing.

Topsy-Turvy is a Quantum-4 parallel. From astronomical data researchers have determined that it is in the year AD 1834. It is classified as a Primitive Research World. Minimal mining, biological sampling and plantation growing of exotic crops is allowed, providing there is only minimal contact with the natives. Additional profit is generated by restricted tourism. This planet has become quite popular with tourists who wish to visit the exotic Antarctic and Arctic civilizations -- although no interaction is allowed. Many tourists additionally want to see what Antarctica and Greenland look like without their ice-caps.

Infinity Unlimited finds many aspects of this world perplexing. One aspect is the extremely close resemblance between Topsy-Turvy's and Homeline's coastlines, despite the higher average temperature. Another aspect is that Infinity Unlimited has determined that the planet tipped over on it's axis only 150,000 years ago. There is no known, scientifically possible way this could be achieved without causing major global catastrophe -- and no such catastrophe has been detected (beyond the axial change). All investigations into the actual reason why the planet did tip over have yielded no results.

Trust No-One

This is a Quantum-7 Weird Parallel which follows Homeline very closely. It is 19 years behind Homeline, making it 1998. It is currently at TL7, verging on TL8. However, there is one very important difference between Trust No-one and Homeline -- many of the bizarre and half-baked conspiracy theories dreamed up in 20th Century Homeline actually seem to be true here!

In this world the US government actually does have anti-gravity technology, several captured alien saucers, and a secret base on the far side of the moon.

The Russians do have a successful psionics-training program as well as fledgling hyper-space technology.

The UN owns a fleet of black stealth helicopters and uses them to fly over US extremist groups in the middle of the night.

Elvis faked his own death and is still alive, making regular appearances in Seven-Elevens and mini-malls around the world. Furthermore, some unknown agency has given him longevity treatment, so he could be around for many years to come.

There were actually four assassins in Dallas in 1963 -- Lee Harvey Oswald (who missed), a CIA agent, a Mafia agent and an unknown assassin who the Infinity Patrol has not yet been able to identify.

Although these events, and many more, occurred, few people in this parallel believe them. This is strange, because it seems that just about everyone on the planet seems to be engaged in at least one conspiracy.

Infinity Unlimited has declared this world Closed because the dangers of detection are extraordinarily high. The intelligence agencies are very numerous and are hidden behind labyrinthine layers of bureaucracy, disinformation and official denial. They are also very, very good at espionage and counter-espionage -- better than in any other known parallel, even Shikaku-Mon.

One of the strangest things about this parallel is that the incredible scientific breakthroughs and discoveries (such as the existence of extra-terrestrial life) have all been covered up and hidden by government and corporate organizations. In fact they have been covered up so successfully that Infinity Unlimited have never been able to examine any of them in detail...

When first discovered this world held much promise. Infinity Unlimited found tantalizing evidence of extremely advanced technologies, the result of either human research, alien science, time-travellers or parallel jumpers (or perhaps all four). However, try as they might, agents could never actually get hold of any useful items or data. Every time they came close, the relevant computer files would be wiped clean, informants would disappear or cease to recognize them, or the items or data would turn out to be useless (anybody who has seen "The X-Files", "Nowhere Man", or any similar TV show or movie will know what I am talking about).

Thus, because of the danger of detection and because of the virtual impossibility of discovering anything useful, this parallel has been declared Closed and off-limits, open to only the occasional agent and researcher. Evidence suggests that Centrum has taken a similar position.

(Actually, some theorists have proposed that even if the Secret were discovered on Trust No-One, most people would dismiss it as yet another bizarre conspiracy, and Trust No-One's intelligence community would bury it in some classified computer file. Nobody on Homeline seems willing to take that chance, however.)