Since I'm on a roll finishing old maps, here's one that's been in development hell since August 2011. The premise is rather straightforward: the year 1998 as viewed from 1898. There are some influences Iron Storm and B_Munro's 1900s punk map.
America's victory in the Spanish-American War marked the beginning of the new order which would come to dominate the Earth for the next century. With the defeat of the last vestiges of the atrophied Spanish Empire, the United States established itself as a colonial power on par with the great powers of Europe. Likewise, in the East, the combined forces of Britain and Japan defeated the Russian bear, paving the way for the Japanese rise to great power status.
When the Great War broke out in 1913, with the disastrous collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Europe, Asia and North America were dragged into the war. The Americans, under Theodore Roosevelt, joined the forces of the "free world" of Britain, France and Japan against the "absolutist" alliance of Germany, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The world was plunged into war, a war which would last for nearly a century.
The world of 1998 has changed in many ways, but are similar in others. The Great War still rages on, although only in Europe; the warring powers agreed to stop fighting in the rest of the world in order to maintain their colonial empires. Soldiers still use bolt-action rifles, although large, mechanically-assisted soldiers accompany them, wielding large cannons or machine guns. Large, lumbering tanks the size of houses crawl through the battlefield, carrying enough firepower to destroy an entire army from the beginning of the war. Zeppelins remain the kings of the skies, although they are more heavily armed and armored than even the battleships of old, and some can hold entire air wings and armies within their cavernous bellies. Rocketry is only used in small scales, but large cannons which can shoot projectiles to the Moon occasionally roar in No Man's Land. Chemical and biological weapons of all sorts are hurled across the battlefield, turning any unfortunate enough to have inadequate protection into a gibbering mass of diseased, poisoned flesh.
Civilian life has also changed, and for the worse. The nations of the world have embraced the doctrine of total war, and so the civilian exists only to supply the soldier on the battlefield. The United States and Russia have become the main suppliers of the Great War, keeping the conflict going for nearly a century. Most people work in factories from age eight to age eighty, if they are fortunate enough not to be conscripted. The large war factories of the Steel Belt and the Urals supply the armies of the Alliance and the Imperials, respectively. These industrial zones have grown so large that they cover hundreds of square miles, and it is very possible for a person born in a factory complex to die without ever seeing the world outside. New weapons are being constantly tested in the deserts of New Mexico and Mongolia. Entire populations of prisoners, paupers and the otherwise unfortunate inhabit these areas, fearing the day that they would have some horrible weapon tested on them. The farmers of the Corn Belt, Ukraine and the colonies toil day and night to feed the massive armies first, the city-dwellers second, and themselves last.
Perhaps the greatest power in the world is the United States of the Americas. The so-called Empire of Liberty stretches from sea to sea and pole to pole, a colossus far away from the battlefields of the Great War. Those who are not of Anglo-Saxon stock are looked down upon, and those who are not considered "white" are virtual slaves. The federal government is a fig leaf for industrial and military interests, whose forefathers took over the country during the early stages of the Great War. Any who challenge the American government are sent to penal battalions, become guinea pigs for a new weapon, or are summarily executed on the streets. The black heart of the empire, Boswash, extends from the Potomac to Massachusetts Bay. Under a constant cloud of smog from the factories of the Steel Belt, the people of Boswash are frequently conscripted en masse to fight in Europe. The eastern seaboard is defended by massive coastal guns which could sink a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, preventing any Imperial forces from landing. The United States plans on expanding its influence to include the entirety of the Americas, although it is wary of reigniting the non-European fronts of the Great War.
The British Empire is no longer as great as it once was, its manpower and wealth expended in the battlefields of France and Belgium. However, with the assistance of their American allies, the British have stood strong, successfully maintaining their independence and empire even as the rest of “free Europe” was forced to unite. The British serve as the Alliance’s navy, protecting the vital trade routes from America to Europe. The British Isles themselves have become a massive fortress-factory, dotted with shipyards and massive cannons. Being so close to Germany, the British are frequently bombarded by cannons and zeppelins. As a result, the British Isles are in a near-constant state of disrepair, with many buildings patched up from assaults over a hundred times. The British do provide vital manpower to the Alliance war effort through their colonies. In Britain, as with anywhere else, military service is expected of all young men, although as the combined Imperial navies are still unable to challenge the Royal Navy, most of these young men make it back home.
The United States of Western Europe, originally the Continental Entente, is a union of European powers which have united to resist the eastern menace. Claiming to be the last defense against authoritarianism and absolutism in Europe, the USWE is a military dictatorship which views its citizens as little more than lambs to throw into the meat grinders of No Man’s Land. The industry of the USWE is practically nonexistent, although what little there is left is used to maintain their massive armies. The USWE’s primary contribution to the war effort is manpower. The citizens of the USWE are born and raised to fight, creating a culture of intense martial pride. Those who die peacefully in their beds are viewed as cowards and traitors, the eternal shame of their families. Unlike the other Alliance armies, the USWE is willing to have women fight in its armies, for it is in no position to be picky.
As America supplies the Alliance, the Russian Empire supplies the Imperials. With her inexhaustible armies, massive factories and, most importantly, distance from the war, the Russians have become the dominant power in the Emperors’ League. An absolutist monarchy in theory, in practice Russia is run by the oligarchs who own the factories and the Russian military, which has turned the rest of the Imperial militaries into its organs. In Russia, religion is more important than race, and after their successful extermination of eastern European Jews in the 1940s and 1950s, they have begun to “pressure” their Muslim subjects into converting. Political dissidents are sent to the so-called “Katorga archipelago,” which covers much of Siberia. There, they are tortured and broken in mind, body and spirit, before being sent as living land mines to the front lines.
Across No Man’s Land is Mitteleuropa, more commonly known as Germany. Having absorbed much of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during its collapse, Germany was the greatest military and industrial power in the world in the early Great War. However, over the years, as its factories were bombarded and its young men perished, it slowly became nothing more but the military of the Imperial alliance. Kaiser Wilhelm II remains the absolute ruler of Germany, despite having died in 1940. In truth, the German military runs Mitteleuropa, with the assistance of the Russians.
The Ottomans are reluctant members of the Emperors’ League, and its “sick man.” The Ottomans provide the vital role of supplying the Imperials’ vast war machine with the oil it needs. Because of this contribution, the Ottomans send few of their soldiers to the front lines. Suffering from Islamist and nationalist revolts, the Sultan has turned to Russia for help in putting down these dissidents. Because they need Russia, the Ottomans have turned a blind eye to the persecution of Muslims within Russia’s borders.
In the east, the Great Empire of Eastern Asia watches the world tear itself apart. Forged by the Japanese during the Chinese Wars of the 1920s and the 1930s, Eastern Asia is still run from Tokyo, although the Chinese have a much greater influence than the Japanese thanks to their population. The Japanese made a separate peace with the Imperials in the 1940s, in order to quell rebellion in China. The Eastern Asians revere the Emperor of Japan as a god, although the exact nature of this divinity is different for different people. The Eastern Asians believe that it may be possible to create an even larger empire if they strike against both the Alliance and the Imperials at the right time. However, Tokyo knows that either side could crush them if they were not distracted, so the Eastern Asians continue to bide their time.