USA Background Info

It is 2034 in the City of Angels. The old world is bathed in the flames of war. The newspapers that still report on external affairs tell of an initial series of victories by China, but Europe’s recent alliance with India and Japan, alongside the firm leadership of some of the world’s greatest powers, have allowed them to begin pushing back on all fronts.

The new world, meanwhile, burns in flames of its own making. The Qu’dani invasion of 2014 may have lit the fire, but the United States had been pouring oil on dry wood for a good long time before. The USA had been growing in power and prestige for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, despite the Great Depression, and the second world war looked to be the period in which they would rise to the top. The money they made selling weapons and other goods to warring Europeans, and the money they would make on the loans to those same countries, was immense…

With the war in Europe at an end, the only thing left to do was finish off Japan – and the USA had a plan… or rather, a weapon, a weapon more powerful than any individual. Both to emphasise the terror of their new weapon, and to test its effects, the target chosen was Hiroshima. The Enola Gay took off with a squadron of America’s most powerful superheroes… and only one of them returned.

He spoke of a warrior in traditional japanese armour, who had dispatched the superheroes, and absorbed the energy of the atomic bomb. They tried again at their secondary target, Nagasaki, and there he was again – the Unknown Warrior…

Though they didn’t know it at the time, the Unknown Warrior had also appeared before Japan’s military establishment – and explained to them that, should they wish to survive the oncoming storm, they would surrender to the United States and then return power to the civilian government. Originally they had scoffed at him, tried to take him captive, but then reports of America’s new weapon came in… reports of the warrior’s actions…

A conditional surrender was almost immediately sent to the US forces, but this was not enough. The United States was looking to gain total control over the Pacific, and this was their chance – they pushed on with total war….

… and it cost them dearly. They were forced to call in their debts from their European allies, whose only choice was to pull together much more quickly than might have otherwise happened. A joint envoy sent from both the victorious and defeated nations of Europe tried to broker a peace treaty, but to no avail… the war dragged on for another three years, decimating America’s economic base… they did win at the end, but it was a hollow victory.

They called the ten years that followed, from 1948 to 1958, the Second Great Depression. It forced further European integration, but only fed America’s greedy military-industrial complex – the Korean War in 1950-53, the Vietnam War in 1955-75, numerous smaller actions, and not to mention the Cold War all dragged America deeper and deeper into economic turmoil. The Elysian Fields Catastrophe of 1984 (when 2/3 of the Soviet Union disappeared overnight, to be replaced with a completely different land full of different creatures (some thought to be extinct) but no humans, at least ended that last one for good…

… the strange thing was, America was growing more powerful, but the country was riddled with problems – a vast and growing wealth gap, corruption at most levels of government, and the million and one smaller problems that go along with this… but at last (in the 90s), they finally had a chance to put things right again. Bill Clinton was able to begin getting America back on track again (whether in this reality he just wasn’t caught or didn’t do it, he never got caught with Lewinsky), and Al Gore continued this process…

Things began to fall apart in 2008. Struck by the same financial crisis that ruined so many economies in this period, the US elected John McCain and Sarah Palin into the White House on a tide of hysteria. The Republican Party not only had a majority in both houses, but a large number of the representatives were drawn from the Tea Party movement – which was dead set against the increased government spending that had been going on throughout Clinton and Gore’s presidencies…

Wave after wave of spending cuts (not military ones, of course, which got more money) hit the USA. Meanwhile, large tax breaks were given to the wealthy… furthermore, to justify the increased military spending, the American war machine once again rolled into action… offering help to the poorer nations of central america and the Caribbean, at first, but eventually taking over the administrative functions of government.

The worst thing was, at least from one perspective, it seemed to be working. America got richer, but at the same time large sections of it were being bought up by China and Europe… and the wealth generated was dropping into fewer and fewer pockets as the years went on. Then, however, the Qu’dani struck; Washington DC was wiped from the map, military bases across the continent were vaporised, and it took almost two years for the invaders to be forced back… it would have taken longer, but not but not for the involvement of the other major world powers, and the fact that the enemy space fleet seemed to have been badly damaged on its journey through the stars.

China struck the deathblow to the teetering economy of the USA. Just three years following the end of the war, they called for the money they had loaned to the American government to be paid back… and all hell broke loose.

The next twenty years saw deepening inequality, and a massive growth in corruption. Washington DC has been rebuilt, but at a much higher cost than it should have been; the US military is finally reaching its pre-war size, but most of its strength (and a ludicrous amount of money) is being used to maintain the forces in the peace zone (all of what was once known as central america, the Caribbean islands, Columbia and Venezuela); business is booming, but much of the proceeds go into the pockets of organised crime or the bosses of big business. Life is not great for your average man on the street, but it is not terrible enough to forment revolutionary ardour. A mixture of the the ever-present American nationalism (which has been pushed even more in the last twenty years), and at least a little of the money from the Peace Zone and other economic sources going into the pockets of your average joe, has kept life relatively peaceful for the large majority.

God help you, however, if you are fired… or if you get on the wrong side of the wrong person. There’s no fallback for the disadvantaged – but, as they tend to be in the slums, and away from the gated communities and middle class suburbs, they can be easily ignored.

For powered individuals, life hasn’t been easy since Robert Jericho’s attempted federal coup in 2025. America, of course, is the birthplace of the ‘costumed vigilante’. Very much an invention of the twentieth century, during the first great depression, these people drew upon a tradition of individual justice that runs very strong in American society… they picked up the slack that conventional police forces were unable to contain, and put on costumes to protect their identities…

Why the change? It probably has quite a lot to do with the increase in powered individuals seen during the last one hundred and thirty years (and especially the last thirty years). Previously, such individuals were very rare, and for the most part far less powerful than their modern counterparts. There were exceptions to this rule, of course; the children of Gods (or other-dimensional beings, as they are now thought of), the members of the Chadwyck family in Britain, Merlin, Black Elk, and so on and so forth…

In the twentieth century, however, a much larger number of very ordinary people found themselves developing powers, or having them granted through scientific or other means… and society, of course, took longer to adjust to this change than individuals. Some countries wanted to dissect them, others wanted to strictly police them… in America, pushed by the Church of Peace (an organisation with a lot of political power, whose leading families had the ability to permanently cut people off from their powers) wanted to see their powers – whose appearance they saw as proof positive of the devil’s growing hand in modern life – nullified. They actually had quite a lot of support; people are always afraid of change, and they don’t generally like to feel so inferior to another person on that scale…

Blind Justice was the first to don a costume in 1927, but others quickly followed suit. By the forties, the majority of them were unmasking, becoming ‘professional’ heroes, who fought evil/crime, but made their living through advertising. This was helped by a growing attraction amongst the populace towards their costumed heroes, thanks to their good acts and to the comic books that colourfully displayed them for a generation of children to hide from their parents, and potentially the deaths of all the members of the Church of Peace who could nullify powers (Jeremiah Cliffe, the last, died under mysterious circumstances, despite being carefully hidden away, in 1937).

Robert Jericho had started life as a costumed vigilante known as Fortress. He actually had a loose contract with the NYPD, but that (as he used to say) just helped pay the bills, and was damned well better than taking corporate money. He got into politics in 2008, becoming the Senator for New York (running on a democratic ticket)… and consistently fought against the changes that McCain’s government brought to the floor, winning some noteable victories.

He left office in 2014 to fight in the Qu’dani War, but was re-elected in 2016… and was seen by many to be a democratic hopeful for president in 2020 or 2024. He was seen as the voice of the common man, and often spoke out about the excesses of the Republican administration, about issues surrounding electoral fraud, etc. What happened in 2023, then, was a surprise to everyone…

Alongside a number of other powered individuals, and members of the military, he tried to seize control of the United States of America. Not very much is known except that he failed, and his current whereabouts (or even whether he is alive or dead) are unknown. What happened following the Jericho Coup, however, was a crackdown on powered individuals. Licenses to use powers, which were often granted very quickly, and done at the state level, are now strictly controlled by the FBI’s Powers Unit, and unlicensed power usage is harshly and quickly punished. The right-wing press, meanwhile, does its level best to malign power users (except of course those brave men and women who are employees of the US security apparatus).

LA, where the game will start, is as much of a scumhole as it has always been. The rich live like kings and queens, and the poor come there to make their dreams come true (with the minority succeeding, while the others wait tables or become alcoholics/addicts/etc). Daniel Morgan is an eccentric philanthropist. He is married to Catherine Morgan, and they have one biological child (Jo… a power who is supernaturally skilled with technology, and can apparently transition between sexes).

USA Background Info

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