This Quantum 7 parallel has only been of real interest to Infinity in the last few years. On the surface, it was merely a slightly dull world where the post-Revolutionary United States broke up its trans-Appalachian territories into distinctly different states. What was missed was that this was primarily due to a somewhat more powerful Freemasonic influence in Craft-1 – and that this influence was due to that society’s unlocking of true esoteric arts sometime in the mid 1750s. The result was a normal mana world with several areas mildly aspected towards the Communication and Empathy school of magic.
Once its unique nature was discovered, Craft-1 instantly went from not-particularly-interesting to full-fledged Z3 restricted… and the I-Cops are only moderately hopeful that they caught the problem in time.
Infinity gingerly tracks an alternate Compromise of 1850 while simultaneously trying to determine the extent of cross-time contamination, in both directions.
1723: British Freemason James Anderson unlocks the ancient secrets of Freemasonry.
Western (Empire with rivals), Islamic (empire), Chinese (Empire)
Great Britain (ogliarchy, CR3), United States of America (democratic republic, CR2, CR5 for blacks), Republic of France (democratic republic, shifting to dictatorship, CR3), Russian Empire (dictatorship, CR4), Ottoman Empire (dictatorship, CR5), Chinese Empire (feudal, CR3-5)
Mana Level: normal with aspected areas (Communication & Empathy)
Centrum Zone: Not yet discovered, but will be Red when found
Infinity Level: Z3
In 1723 AD, James Anderson published the first constitution for English Freemasonry in both Homeline and Craft-1: however, in the latter timeline he also privately published a description and analysis of certain experiments that promised to reveal the secrets of Solomon. While Anderson never lived to see his Great Work completed, even by the time of his death the first principles of Sacred Geometry and True Sight had been worked out by British Freemasons. In the century since, the Great Work has allowed Masonic adepts to master the arcane secrets of the mind, and make some progress towards other, lesser forms of magic.
It is interesting – or perhaps merely a fairly high level of inertia – that this has had limited effect on the gross outlines of world history. American (and later, French) Masonic lodges swiftly began their own research into the Great Work, with both learning enough secrets in time to effectively neutralize British esoteric power during both the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The latter conflict convinced all three sets of lodges of the virtues of peace, and the post-Waterloo period saw both a formal cessation of hostilities between the various branches of Freemasonry, and a tacit division of the world (via the 1820 Secret Compact) into spheres of influence. France was given primacy of place in mainland Europe and Africa (including the suddenly all-important Egypt); the United States were confirmed in the esoteric equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine; and England was given a free hand in Asia and Australia. All three groups tend towards subtle, reasonably well-intentioned meddling, with a prejudice against a repeat of the carnage of the Napoleonic era. The South American revolutionary movements of the 1820s (and the European ones of the 1840s) were carefully managed, and both the Russian and Ottoman Empires are being slowly reshaped into a more “enlightened” form. Only the Chinese Empire remains really independent (although British Freemasons rather arrogantly decided to subvert the Tai’ping Rebellion), and that’s largely due to their own rediscovery of esoteric knowledge.
With the exception of Aaron Burr’s attempts to create an independent Freemasonry sect (the remnants of which were finally quashed in the process of fighting the Mexican-American War), the thirty years since the Secret Compact have seen no real challenges to the status quo, although internal tensions have begun to grow. In the USA, the northern and southern branches of American Freemasonry are getting involved in the slavery issue, with compromise growing harder and harder to accomplish with every passing year. British Freemasons have similar problems, as colonial lodges begin to criticize the directives of their English superiors. And in France, a somewhat more charismatic and effective President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte seems to be well along the way of taking direct control of the Grand Orient de France, with mainland Europe being next. Many savants worry that the Great Work may be interrupted again, merely for the sake of some petty – or not so petty – war…
While the world is now normal-mana, actual magical knowledge was exclusively possessed by Freemasonry until quite recently, and its adepts still possess the most power and skill. In game terms, Freemasons have access to the entire school of Communication & Empathy, any necessary prerequisites to those spells, and all spells in the Basic Set. Masonic temples tend to become lightly aspected towards Communication & Empathy spells (+1 to rolls) shortly after their consecration. Non-Masonic mages do exist, but are not yet well organized outside of China. Chinese mages are well-organized, have managed to glean enough esoteric knowledge from ancient texts to reproduce the spells from the Basic Set, and are well on the way towards developing a commanding lead in the fields of alchemy and elemental magic.
As far as Infinity can tell, Centrum either hasn’t discovered the timeline yet, or doesn’t want to have anything to do with it if they have (as it happens, the former is the correct interpretation). This relieves the I-Cops only slightly, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the Cabal has wormed its way into this timeline with a surprising amount of enthusiasm. It’s unclear whether they visit Craft-1 for research, experimental, or even recreational purposes, but they are visiting, and in slowly increasing numbers. Fortunately for Infinity, the Cabal’s own reluctance to act openly seems to be in full effect; if the locals have been told about other planes of existence, it’s not immediately obvious.
This is important because Infinity is well aware that the Secret is not only in constant danger of being compromised on Craft-1; it may have already been compromised. Infinity was running operations on this timeline for almost a decade before it was discovered that there were native magical telepaths in existence there. There have been no signs that any of them had ever scanned the mind of an I-Cop, and no-one visits Craft-1 without being as esoterically protected as Homeline knows how – but there’s always the chance that someone is merely biding his time. Or, for that matter, that someone is simply going to stumble across a suitable Gate spell on his own.
With that kind of concern, more conventional Infinity operations are few. There isn’t even the usual, if slightly boring, exercises in acquiring statistical information; after all, the entire timeline is being subtly manipulated by a secret society, which tends to skew the data. Some sociologists are interested in seeing what the various Masonic lodges will turn into over the next twenty years, particularly if the American Civil War happens on schedule – but even then that’s more about (slightly morbid) curiosity than it is about sociological research.
Infinity reserves the “Craft” designation for timelines that combine organized worldwide conspiracies with organized magical or psionic knowledge. Craft-2 (Q3, current year 1260 AD) is a high-mana world where the Knights Templar are warrior-mages defending the remnants of the Byzantine Empire from the Mongols. Craft-3 (Q4, current year 1842 AD) is a normal-mana world where the Bavarian Illuminati openly rule over a European empire that stretches from Spain to Kiev, with the Freemasonic kingdoms of Briton, Washington, and Napoleon II’s “France over the Sea” opposing him. They, plus the shadowy, and not particularly savory, Russian Union of Salvation (in power since the Glorious Decembrist Revolution), are mobilized in a great war over the prizes of the Papal Lands, the treasures of Egypt, and the location of the final resting place of Koschei the Deathless.
The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the In Nomine and GURPS systems from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.
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