Well, since the last scenario didn't get much love, I think I'll put up another map. Warning, may be annoying to the religious.
This map is inspired by several AH tales, including one by Poul Anderson, a snippet from the Alternate History Travel Guides, and a book by – Anton Wilson I think? It is a world in which rather than the Emperors of Germany and the Popes eventually fighting to a mutual standstill, the Papacy gained the advantage, and managed to unify Italy, and later much of Germany under their rule, and confirm their position as secular as well as spiritual leaders of Christendom. Various *Protestant movements were crushed, and science and technology advanced under a Church tolerant with the self-confidence of victory…
In the current year of 2067, the Slow War moves into an alarming new phase as atomic arsenals multiply. It’s hard to put a date on the beginning of the Slow War: was it when the European colonies in North Atlantis, long a place of refuge for heretics and malcontents throughout Christendom, successfully rebelled while the Papacy was at war with the French? Was it when the Antlantean Union adopted the godless system of Technocracy as their national creed, and the whole nation was placed under Papal ban? Was it when the Seventeenth Crusade was launched to prevent Angleland from likewise falling into heresy, and failed on beaches burning with chemical flame? Was it when the Catholic Dissenter heresy wracked half the Catholic world (albeit with limited success)? It turned deadly cold when the Church brought the 19th Crusade (against that last great defender of Islam, the Jalayrid Sultanate) to an end with the use of a newly invented atomic device: and the arms race has intensified since the homeland of the Hispanyan Empire revolted against the tail that had come to wag it, leading to the aborted 20th Crusade and the Hispanyan Missile Crisis.
On one side, a motley collection of allies. The Union of Atlantis (A New Order for the Ages, as it says under the cyclopean pyramid on its flag) is a technocratic society: although there is a parliament and a free press, People Who Know Best dominate politics (a lot of test-taking is involved), there is a considerable interest in eugenics (and let’s not mention the chemical lobotomizing of criminals). Dating back to its conspiratorial origins, there is a lot going on the Hoi Polloi are not meant to know, and the relatively small minority which stubbornly still support the Papacy are constantly under the eye of the Special Police. (Most are atheists, agnostics, deists, members of obscure heretical churches, etc: there are a sizeable number of Dissenter Catholics, who think the Church has fallen into sin through lust for power, and elect their own bishops to run things until a Christly Pope returns to redeem the church and give its subjects their freedom. Open displays of religions are frowned on by the authorities, who dislike religious enthusiasm of any stripe).
Other technocratic societies include Nippon, whose efforts to absorb Catholicism led to heresies that infuriated the Popes, and ended up turning Technocracy into a sort of semi-religion. Having avoided conquest by the Papacy and its allies thanks to UA support, they remain a close ally, and the Nipponese Science President is a frequent guest at the Ministerial Blue Tower in Centropolis. The Anglelanders are a bit wishy-washy in their support of Progress, and excessively religious by Atlantean standards, the recently converted Hispanyans are almost paralyzed by the brutal internal struggle against their large population of Papacy loyalists, while the Scots are mostly atheists or Cosmic Unity freaks, have more engineers per capita than any other nation on earth, and are unapologetically transcendant in their ambitions (the motto of the Scots space program, currently shooting very solid satellites into orbit with a big-ass cannon, is TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!!!).
Allied to the technocracies are Muslims and Catholic Dissenters (most notably the Nova Andalucians), and the Federation of Free India, which is actually fairly repressive in the name of unity and security, if tolerant of differences in religion or ethnicity.
Not an actual ally, but almost as hostile to the Papacy is the Holy Russian Empire, whose Muscovite head of Church and State is even more powerful than the Pope and whose state can best be described as clerical-fascist. Blocked from westwards expansion by a Papacy-led Europe, the Czars have pushed earlier than OTL in Asia, and having leased lands from the Chinese to gain a good Pacific port, have become a considerable naval power, ranging as far as Africa, where an Ethiopia kept open to the world has modernized with a fair degree of success. The Lung Chinese empire is a Russian ally, although generally more due to the need for Russian support to avoid falling to the Catholic Church and their south Chinese proxy rather than any mutual affection.
On the other side is a hierarchical system centered in Rome, a common faith and supposedly unified culture and civilization, although the whole giant edifice keeps afloat on a number of compromises and half-truths which are generally kept out of the light of day: the Papacy dominates Europe and Africa, but has only a weak hold on the Americas and a weaker one on continental East Asia, and must be careful to maintain its supremacy by avoiding invoking its authority too often. Indeed, there are those who argue that the Catholic system actually needs the existence of the Slow War and the Orthodox and Technocratic enemies to hold together.
The Church controls the schools, the hospitals, much of the security services and the banks, and much else in all Catholic lands, but must always take care not to push the secular authorities in the corner, and maintain a dual system of state and church control rather than try to establish a universal Church authority that would be impossibly cumbersome to maintain. It must work outside of Europe through its allies: in the Americas through the mighty (if reactionary and lumbering) Hispanyan Empire, and through the mighty Empire of Leon-Portugal in much of the rest. Poland guards the eastern border, and is kept safe through fear of the Russians. The backwards African states generally jump if the Pope says frog. The Sheng Chinese are a bit of a disappointment: their proxy war in the north failed to draw Russia into any disastrous quagmires, and indeed had to be rescued at great cost from collapse when revolution broke out in the seventh year of the war. The current government is shaky.
More worrysome is the rather “liberal” turn the Leonese Empire has taken, especially in South Africa: there is too much acceptance of free thought and free speech, even when disrespectful of the Papacy. Non-church institutions of higher learning are too abundant, and teach stuff forbidden elsewhere. And there is altogether too much tolerance for Athiesm and Paganism…
Technology and science have become increasingly compartmentalized and specialized in the Papal sphere, as the Church has striven to create scientists who will not speculate on things outside their field and pursue useful goals without becoming philosophical. The Papacy took the heliocentric model of the solar system in stride, but modern geology and biology proved a nasty shock. Such things as the apparent age of the universe and the existence of evolution are essentially state secrets, to be kept from the Hoi Polloi whose feeble faith could not deal with it. (Censorship is universal and heavy in almost all Catholic states). Although Papal engineering, physics, etc. are still capable of substantial achievements, the Technocratic nations are moving ahead on many fronts. Still the Popes will not give up and concede the superiority of universally open knowledge (not that most Technocracies are particularly big on universal openness). The majority of the world’s population is beholden to the Papacy, the reach of the Papal secret services and inquisition is global, and, after all, are they not the agents of God? Like the Spanish Armada of OTL, the Papacy faces the future in confident hope of a miracle, possibly plural.