The following assumes that:
Well, except for moral fibre. An entire culture which thinks of itself as gods -- and are built as such, at least in the traditional pagan view -- are likely to be far more deeply corrupt than anything we've ever seen in history. The sophisticated, racist, slave-owning Draka in Stirling's (?) books would be a good starting point. His latest book, due to be published in January 1996 (of which the first three chapters are available on the web) starts off in about 2400, where immortal Draka (descendants of Afrikaners) rule over intelligent, mortal inferiors with a built-in slave mentality.
In effect, the Third Imperium would be a Genetic Empire, much as the Zho's are a Psionic Empire. [And the RC promises to be a Human/AI combo]
Some changes would be severe: for example, Cleon I may still be ruling in 1116. Others would be trivial: the Rebellion could have followed a very similar course to what it actually did. Still others would be quite unexpected: any society that can make manipulate genes to make itself immortal can probably grow ships, rather then have to build them the old-fashioned way.
There's several new avenues for PC's in this more realistic future. They can be endlessly rebelling against the Nobility (almost every one of which has centuries of experience handling such rebellions). They can be High Nobles, trying to push mortal rights through various Moots. Or Low Nobles, with some genetic modifications, but still forced to put themselves in life-threatening situations. (Nobles would only really trust Nobles to do certain things...) They can be illegal genetic engineer's, doing modifications without a license (and on the run from the Ministry of Justice for the last 3 centuries). They can be studying the Ancients: true, Imperials can control genetics perfectly, but the Ancients still have better control over physics and other "Hard sciences".
And yes, I feel that this is more realistic than the current Imperium, where Norris dies at age 96. I mean, come on! Afer 3700 years of genetic research?!? Even in the 20th century, American lifespans have grown from 60 to 90 years. (if for admittedly different reasons)
Traveller is a registered trademark of Far Future Enterprises. Portions of this material are Copyright ©1977-1996 Far Future Enterprises. This article © 1995 by Alvin Plummer [alvin.plummer@SHERIDANC.ON.CA]. Posted to the TML November 3, 1995. 1995