By Craig Neumeier.
The first selected timeline is the first in GURPS Alternate Earths. Despite its common breakpoint -- the South wins the American Civil War -- this will probably be cryptic to the point of incomprehensibility if you're not familiar with GURPS Alternate Earths.
This one's easy; it even fits into the junctures as given. I will propose a set-up that also works nicely for those of you who want to show your PCs just how ruthless the Ascended can get.
Ever since both the 1850 and 1996 junctures opened, it has occurred to the Ascended that they could use the two to manipulate the timestream: all they have to do is use information from the 1996 juncture to decide how to change the chi-flow in the 1850 juncture, shifting the balance in favor of one or another human group. All they needed was (a) a way of predicting the effects of historical changes, and/or (b) a motivation to make the change.
Give them some brilliant scientist defector from the Buro to fulfill (a). Then say that the Ascended have been becoming increasingly worried about the Architects of the Flesh and what's due to happen a few years down the road. Recent setbacks in the contemporary juncture, especially at the hands of the Architects (which fits Flashpoint), provide (b).
The PCs wake up one morning, in the contemporary juncture, and find themselves in Dixie. What happened? There was no sign that the Ascended were losing control of the 1850 juncture, and anyway the world doesn't seem to have transformed in any way that their rivals desired.
The Ascended have shifted important sites in 1850 to create the conditions for the Dixie timeline, attuning William Walker and other important southerners to sites, so that history will favor them. The theory is that, among all the other changes, there will be no United Nations and no CDCA (because of the different academic background, with CSA and German power and a poor Japan).
In 2056, they're still digging out from under the nuclear wars of the 2000s: USA vs. CSA, Germany vs. Russia, both conflicts going nuclear in 2004 and destroying most of North America and Europe. The Ascended had seen the handwriting on the wall and evacuated most of their (Lodge) personnel -- so they see this as an acceptable outcome. It may even have been planned. After all, it killed most of the people who might otherwise have gone on to staff the Buro. In the aftermath, a world goverment was set up, the Global Assembly is politically dominated by India and China (reunited by the south/Republic goverment) -- and, of course, secretly controlled by the Lodge. (You know, the chakra wheel is an important religious symbol in India.)
To reverse this shift, the PCs will probably have to make common cause with the remnants of the Architects (there are a whole lot of them -- all abominations and hunters have to be innerwalkers). The ultimate goal of the mission will be to find the computer center in 1850 which is running the Ascended's chi pattern predictions and destroy it, along with the genius behind the whole operation.
Last modified: January 8, 1996; please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.