Serenity - Crimson Skies
Hey everyone, I'm interested in playing a game of Crimson Skies, and since the rulebooks are out of print, I was thinking of doing it using the Serenity ruleset. As I don't have access to the official ruleset, I'll be editing and updating this thread as I get more information.
The Great War ended almost twenty years ago. In the wake of the Great War, Europe was devastated, and the United States no less so. The US, growing more isolationist as problems in Europe further developed, attempted to pass a series of laws enforcing 'prohibition' on the sale, transportation, and consumption of alcohol. The laws were struck down in some states, upheld in others, and when the constitutional amendment enforcing prohibition was defeated, it divided the states into 'Wet' and 'Dry' states. Influenza outbreak further isolated areas of the country, and by 1929, the nation had reached a breaking point. That breaking point was Black Thursday, when the stock market crashed, sending the central government of the United States into a great depression.
By 1937, nearly 20 separate countries feud where once stood a great nation.
The first signs of the coming collapse became apparent in 1920, in the aftermath of the post-War influenza epidemic. Many isolationist movements – already convinced that America’s involvement in Europe’s troubles – were only strengthened after so many citizens fell to a disease brought back by returning servicemen.
President Wilson's push to form the League of Nations drew increasing fire from U.S. citizens, allowing Warren G. Harding's "New Independence from Europe" campaign to gain momentum. Harding called for greater separation from the world in general, and the Regionalist party adopted it as part of their platform. Many Regionalists who won office in 1920 used their new power to push forward their own programs – most notably, Prohibition (which failed ratification as a Constitutional amendment that year).
Prohibition consumed the political scene for the next three years, splitting its supporters and detractors across regional lines. Its political power undercut by the Regionalists, Washington's indecisiveness forced politicians to support efforts to sign Prohibition into law, or to reject it, for their own states.
The death of President Harding in 1923 handed the Presidency to Calvin Coolidge, who refused to get behind the wavering Federal Prohibition Bill. Without Presidential support, the bill quickly died in committee.
The Prohibition issue that had polarized the country became a battle between regions that supported it, and those that did not. Checkpoints appeared on state borders as authorities tried to restrict the flow of alcohol into "dry" regions. Many states also used these checkpoints to levy unofficial – and highly illegal – tariffs.
The election campaigns of 1924 illustrated the growing shift in power from Washington to the statehouses. States demanded more authority, and state governments seized greater powers. Despite Federal efforts to reverse the tide, the states continued to appropriate more power. The result – stronger states and a weak central government – is exemplified by the 1924 Bluefield Incident.
Kentucky and West Virginia began armed conflict with the Virginia and North Carolina for control of the Appalachians, source of a large percentage of illegal alcohol that was smuggled north. The Virginia National Guard captured a large Kentucky convoy outside the town of Bluefield, only to discover that their prize was a Kentucky guard unit running alcohol out of the Appalachians toward the West Virginia border. Though jurisdiction clearly belonged to Kentucky, the men were tried in Virginia on vague charges and jailed. Virginia refused Kentucky's request to transfer the men back to their home state, and later rejected a similar "suggestion" from Washington D.C. Only under the threat of U.S. Army intervention did Virginia finally release the prisoners to federal authorities, almost two years after their capture.
Except for the Bluefield Incident (and a few other isolated flashpoints in the United States and Mexico), the period from 1924 to 1927 were among the best the United States had known, as Regionalists backed off. The elections were over, the Prohibition issue was largely settled, at least within individual states, and the country had a brief respite from the growing political unrest. Unemployment dropped dramatically as states employed their own people to maintain growing state infrastructures (even as the national infrastructure began to show the strain of severe regulation). Per capita income increased, and more people began investing in the stock market – in most cases foolishly.
The federal government might have reclaimed its authority then, but chose to wait for the next major election year to increase its power base and avoid reawakening Regionalist opposition. Washington waited too long.
In 1927, a new and deadly strain of the influenza that ravaged the country in 1918 appeared, delivering a crippling blow to national morale. States – and even many cities – closed their borders and converted their liquor checkpoints into quarantine-enforcement sites. Necessary border crossings were made under armed supervision with strict controls. Smugglers and raiders began adopting the airplane as their primary method of border-jumping, avoiding the limitations of the ground-based automobile.
The election of 1928 suffered from poor voter turnout, as most people avoided large groups (for fear of contracting influenza). Capitalizing on this, the Regionalists launched various "Strong State" platforms, effectively curtailing the federal government's remaining power. Governors negotiated with their neighbors to establish interstate alliances, formalizing the segregated regions that had grown out of the preceding decade's isolationist policies. In many cases, these new alliances merely reinforced divisions that had existed from the United States' founding days.
In early 1929, Utah enacted the Smith Law, which made Mormonism the state's official religion, with state government support. With the federal government's impotence and Utah's isolation, cries to heed the traditional "separation of Church and State" were largely ignored. Fearing similar measures, strongly anti-Mormon states such as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts began to discriminate against the Mormons, driving many toward Utah.
In October of 1929, the stock market crash sounded the death knell for the United States. Regionalism had decimated the national economy and Washington D.C.'s call for financial assistance from state governments was roundly rejected. President Hoover called out the military to keep D.C. from slipping into lawlessness, further damaging the reputation of the central government.
On January 1, 1930, Texas seceded from the United States, with California, the Carolinas, Utah and New York following suit almost immediately afterwards. Each state formed new nations, much as the Confederacy had done in the 1800s. Unable to mount the political and military campaign necessary to hold the United States together, Washington was now powerless.
This new period of extreme Regionalism created turmoil on a grand scale. Quebec broke away from Canada, as well. Mexico moved against Texas, and a minor shooting war erupted. In the ten months following Texas’ secession, California, The Carolinas, Utah, and New York withdrew from the Union, forming independent nation-states.
North America’s love of airplanes – once rooted in the exotic, adventurous mystique surrounding them – became a necessity, as commerce between the new North American independent nations ground to a halt. Various brushfire wares demolished the intercontinental railway system at national borders, and the few large highway systems built or under construction quickly fell into disrepair or were sabotaged. The automobile, once thought destined to become the national shipping vehicle, gave way to gyrotaxis, aerobuses and the large cargo zeppelins that commanded the skylines and made trade possible between friendly nations.
The first "air pirates" began capturing the public eye during this period of chaos. Generally small, disorganized bands of thrill-seekers and publicity hounds, these pirates began crime sprees that would inspire others to follow in their footsteps in later years.
As the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. crumbled, a vast segment of the nation’s military began to desert. The soldiers’ pay was slow in coming, and many were starving. Many returned to their home states, while others began selling their skills as mercenaries or bandits. A few thousand troops remained loyal, relocating to Washington, D.C. to defend the capital.
The political geography continued shifting throughout the year: the short-lived Outer Banks nation of Virginia and the Carolinas quickly folded itself into the rest of the Southern states, giving rise to the new Confederation of Dixie throughout the South. Samuel Morrow formed the People’s Collective in the Midwest (abrogating all loans and mortgages among its citizens, a move that angered outside financial interests but kept the new nation from drowning in the Great Depression).
The formation of the People’s Republic also led to one of the last major engagements of the Federalist armed forces; on Presidential orders, the Army moved to retake the People’s Collective, but were roundly defeated.
Like dominos falling, various new nation states began to form quickly; the Industrial States of America (formed around the industrial centers of the Great Lakes); Appalachia formed in the South; the Maritime Provinces and Atlantic Coalition declared independence in the Northeast.
The first serious pirate threat manifested in mid-1931. Jonathan "Ghengis" Kahn – a former businessman from Chicago – formed the infamous Red Skull Legion. The Skulls moved into Utah (posing as People’s Collective militia) and stole a military zeppelin, nearly starting a Utah-Collective war in the process. The age of the air pirates had begun.
In early 1932, the Native American Navajo and Lakota tribes took up arms and seized a large portion of territory in the American West. With little Federal opposition, the Natives managed to secure a fairly broad section of territory before closing their borders to outsiders. Particularly scornful of bootleggers, the Navajo and Lakota – never the greatest of allies – still band together to fight off any incursion by pirates, outsider militia forces, or anything deemed a threat to the tribes.
Free Colorado, in contrast, formed for entirely different reasons, becoming a haven for pirates, bootleggers and the other, more-anarchistic elements. In light of the lawless freehold’s formation, President Coolidge ordered troops to seize the lands near Washington, D.C. (including parts of Maryland and Delaware) and declared a "state of emergency"; the nation of Columbia was born.
Louisiana seceded from Dixie soon afterward, requesting support from France for its independence. Ill-prepared to go it alone, the Midwestern states sank deep into the Depression and then resurrected themselves as a Christian Communist nation, the People’s Collective. The relatively strong Lakota and Navajo Native American tribes founded their own nations as well, carving territory out of the nearly defunct Dakotas and the barren deserts and plateau country of the American southwest.
Even worse, as national borders continued to form, conflict became inevitable. The first serious conflict occurred near the end of 1932, as ISA forces clashed with People’s Collective militia. The source of the conflict is hazy; some claim it is a natural battle between capitalists and socialists, while others believe that the ISA thought that their technological superiority would allow them to capture the territory - and therefore the natural resources - of the Collective. Whatever the case, through the rest of 1932 and into 1933, the conflict continued.
The political destabilization and shifting of borders continued throughout 1933; small brushfire conflicts between ground and air militias forged new national boundaries, fueled by the continuing conflict between the ISA and People’s Collective. In light of the hostilities that seemed to be on the verge of blowing up into full-scale war, the Outer Banks nations (formerly the Carolinas and Virginia) formed an alliance with Dixie, becoming a Protectorate of the Confederacy, and fueling conflict between Appalachia, Dixie and the Outer Banks.
1934 - 1935
The low-intensity border skirmishes between these new nations continued to flare up, and amidst the chaos, the bootleggers and pirates thrived. Scores of new militias - most determined to defend their hometown or state - formed to battle increasingly colorful and flamboyant raiders. The Redmann Gang, the Red Skull Legion, the Black Swans, and hosts of other pirate groups continued to raid across national boundaries (sparking additional conflicts as overzealous militia pilots strayed across borders into unfriendly territory in pursuit of the raiders).
The borders and politics of the North American nation-states solidified in 1936. Combined Navajo and Utah forces allied long enough to fight off incursions by pirates based in Free Colorado; the Broadway Bombers (the premier Empire State militia) decimated the Hell’s Henchmen pirate gang in the Alleghenies; ISA and the Peoples’ Collective conflict flared up yet again, though this time the Collective fared far better than in previous engagements, retaking small parcels of their territory.
Sky pirates have prompted the rise of air militias to protect the shipping lanes. The pirates maintained an edge, however, and their early successes gave way to today's large and numerous pirate groups. Piracy got another boost when militias began raiding rival shipping, often receiving bonuses from their employers that reflected the value of the cargo taken or destroyed. As pirate and militia raids cut deeper into national economies, the various governments began subsidizing air wings.
Piracy actually lessened in the face of this organized response, though only briefly; the pirates adapted to the changing times by forming larger, better-armed gangs. From there, it was only a matter of time before nations began to subsidize pirates as well, handing out letters of marque in order to direct pirate activities away from their own zeppelin fleets and toward those of their enemies.
The Republic of Texas:
Shortly after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Texas seceded from the Union, forming the Republic of Texas on January 1st, 1930. They incorporated Oklahoma as well as parts of Arkansas and Kansas. Known for their fliers "The Texas Rangers," the Lone Star Republic was also the first to begin sabotaging rail lines and highways into the Republic from hostile sources.
The Empire State:
New York persuaded Pennsylvania and New Jersey to merge with it to form the Empire State, taking all of the money in New York and refusing to share it with the rest of faltering America. Some blame The Empire State for the collapse of the old Central Government, but it worked- the Empire State was able to level off economic decline and re-establish itself as a powerhouse of financial might.
Nation of Hollywoodland
California followed suit with the other sessecionists, forming its own government based in Los Angeles. The current President of the Nation of Hollywoodland has decreed that all air piracy and smuggling within and around the nation should cease, and authorities are justified in hunting down and killing any smugglers or suspected pirates. This might be a problem for the tiny island of Sea Haven
, a volcanic and unstable island frequented by pirates, mercenaries, and people like you.
Utah, which had already come in conflict with the federal government after the establishment of the Smith Law in 1928, that made Mormonism the state religion. Mormons, an industrious people, formed their own government, quickly stabilizing the economy of the new nation. Mormon fliers, known as 'Elders,' are a fearsome force, but only fight when provoked. The nation of Utah (called Deseret by some) has not expanded beyond set borders since its inception. Parts of the disputed Western Territories claim Utah as parent state, but no one has verified these claims.
The People's Collective
The breadbasket of America, hit hardest by the fall of the Central Government, formed its own collective. The federal government made its last stand against the 'People's Revolt' of the bread basket states. When the US Army was defeated by the People's Collective forces in 1931, the fate of the Union was sealed, and the rest of the country dissolved into independent nations by the end of 1932. The People's Collective, not governed by any one power, keep order with local legislatures, local militias, and local fliers. A socialistic order has ensued, pushing off the enslaving depression. As Canada reeled from the disappearance of the United States, it also broke up, with Manitoba parts of Saskatchewan joining the People's Collective.
New Brunswick and parts of Quebec joined Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont when the central government collapsed. The maritime states, who got the short end of the stick at the end of the Civil War, were happy to cut loose the rest of the country and focus on their own problems. Vibrant industrialization and commercial fishing kept the area alive, and the area boasts the best poor-weather conditions alive. Seaplanes are a common sight in the Maritimes.
The Lakota Nation and Navajo
The 'american' indian nationals of Lakota Nation and the Navajo collectively came together and threw off their yolk. They liberated themselves from the Central government of the United States, at a time when it couldn't have been worse for the Federals. The Lakota formed a nation and government, and the Navajo shut off all outside contact, working alone instead. Both nations are great sources of food and equipment- if they're friendly with you. Both nations also have defense contracts with nearby powers, so they are well-defended from piracy.
Oregon and Washington established their own governemnt in wake of the fall of the Federal Central Government. They called the new nation Pacifica, and soon British Columbia merged with them, creating a powerhouse on the western coast. Pacifica lays claim to all of the Disputed Western Territories.
almost single-handedly making them disputed territories, as much of the area claims Utah and Free Colorado as parent nations.
Alaska (aka the Yukon Territories)
Alaska sought independance, but the Yukon territories have more problems. Bloody civil war in Russia has more than once spilled over into Alaska, and the new nation of Pacifica claiming that Alaska is a part of their federal alliance. Fliers in Alaska are called 'Grizzlies,' and are known for their ability to fly through anything.
The Protectorate of Ontario
The core of the former Canadian government established the Protectorate of Ontario. While Ottawa's authority technically extends to Alberta and the Northwest Territories, these areas are mostly no-man's land. Protectorate of Ontario fliers are known as 'Mounties,' after the famed Canadian police force.
Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island comprise a self-governing body, commonly referred to as the Northumberland Association. Not much is known about this area by outsiders, and rare is the pilgrim who claims this area as home.
After the dissolution of the United States, the country's interstate railroad and highway systems fell into disrepair or were sabotaged as they crossed hostile borders. Consequently, ground-based vehicles such as the locomotive and automobile were replaced by aircraft such as the airplane and the zeppelin as the leading mode of transportation in North America. Europe soon followed this fascination with aviation to make its own strides into the new, aerially-dominated market. Gangs of air pirates formed in turn to plunder airborne commerce. Although air militias formed to counter the threat, rivalries between the nations of North America reduced their capacity to effectively address this issue, and even encouraged the countries to sponsor pirates as privateers so as to direct their illegal operations against opposing nations instead of internal assets. In Europe, privateers and other mercenary groups have been adopted widely by nations who wish to avoid another world war, especially in the case of the Spanish Civil War. By the end of 1937, North America is a "hotbed of conflict," with multiple pirate gangs and air militias battling for control of the skies. Europe is no better, as Germany jockies for power while France and Britain look the other way. The Russian States continue to fight their civil war, which threatens to spill over into the Eastern European nations and Alaska. Asia, too, is on the brink, with Japan's recent invasion of China and the continuation of the bloody civil war in Australia.
Australia only federated as a nation in 1901, so there are people in 1937 who clearly remember before it became a unified country. There are also those who recall the horrific loss of life of Australian soldiers who went off to fight in the Great War. Now, suppose that in the 1930's, people are looking across the Pacific and they see the USA fragmenting. They also see the rumbles of war threatening in Europe again. Now, there would be some that would not want that to happen to their young men again. However, the government (which has taken a socialist turn) has decided that politics would be best served by sending men off to assist the British Empire again.
Unfortunately, some states disagreed. Normally, they would not have done so quite so openly, but the Federation of Australia has been in existence less than forty years, and has not had time to put down deep roots. So, taking their lead from the dissolution of the United States, Queensland and Western Australia both announced their secession from the Federation. New South Wales and Victoria, being near the seat of government, decided to resist this quite strenuously. South Australia wavered, but was too close to Canberra to really be able to break away easily; it was occupied anyway by troops from New South Wales, to make sure that it stayed in the Federation. Tasmania, on the other hand, took the opportunity to close its ports. Only a thin stretch of water separated it from the mainland, but Bass Strait is not the English Channel, and a landing craft is in dire peril in those rough waters.
The biggest trouble with pacifying its rebellious states is the distance. Brisbane held out for a while, but was captured. However, Queensland has cities all up the eastern coast, and a few inland. While a fair porportion of the army came from that region (and deserted more or less as soon as the secession was announced) there were also a goodly number of young men growing up in the 'bush' who knew how to ride and shoot with the best.
In the West, it isn't much easier. Aircraft staging from South Australia have to fly for hours just to hit Perth before flying back again. And the flat country supports rebel airstrips all over that region.
In the Northern Territory, there has been little trouble; the Territorians have been content to stay neutral and let everyone move through their land. But there is a growing groundswell of opinion that the native tribes should throw out the white man and claim the area for themselves.
All in all, it's not a nice time to be Australian.