When the Vortex opened in Siberia in 1991, it was almost a side-show to the other events happening in the world. For the United States, the ongoing collapse of the Soviet Union and the Gulf War were far more concerning than a light show happening in a far-off tundra.
Things changed when sorcerers began to appear, wielding spark and trying to understand their magic. The first recorded sorcerer in the United States was not actually in the United States at the time.
A US Army private in the Middle East manifested a pyromancy affinity during a heated interaction with civilians. He lost control of his powers and incinerated the civilians and his commanding officer.
The world didn’t give any reprieve for a trial, however, as the rifts started soon after. Surgical military strikes against conventional enemies soon became bloodbaths as US troops clashed with monsters and beings from across the In Between in Kuwait and back home.
Chaos erupted across the world. Troops trying to get back home were hamstrung as dragons and drakes destroyed planes and ships were annihilated by sea monsters.
Enabled by newfound magical powers and a fast-growing arms race in wizardry and magical artifacts, warlords began to takeover swathes of continental United States. This exacerbated the rise in monster attacks, which police and the army were woefully underprepared to deal with.
The Second American Civil War inevitably began when a coalition of states led by Texas seceded, citing the inadequacy of the federal government and its inability to rule in this new world.
The federal government tried to mount an attack on Texas to bring it back into the USA, but attacks by local warlords harried their efforts.
The naval force managed to enter Trinity Bay in 1994, but the land force had been waylaid in Louisiana. After a short battle, the invasion ended. The survivors surrendered. Texas had won its independence, alongside that of its allied states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
With a huge chunk of the original United States now independent, taking a lot of manpower and tax revenue with it, the federal government soon became completely incapable of policing the entirety of the continent. Many Native American peoples, now armed with new magic, demanded more power in their state governments. Or took it by force.
Additionally, huge swathes of Canada to the north had gone dark. And they now knew why. A sprawling army of ghostly warriors called the Shroud began to attack the northern cities of the USA, abducting and slaughtering anyone they could.
Washington DC soon lost its mandate to govern, and almost every state seceded. Until finally, only 13 were left, and this is where the true story of Post-Cataclysm USA begins.
The Thirteen States of America (13SA)
The Thirteen States of America was officially declared in 2002, as the United States was left with only the following states:
- Washington DC (now with statehood)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
The Thirteen States was a direct descendant of the legal federal government of the United States but renamed to represent its new status. The name started as an ode to the thirteen original colonies that formed the United States, but magical scholars soon realised that the name, with its spiritual and historical connections, held power. It attracted new weyline growth and helped the new 13SA realise why it had failed to maintain the entire continent.
It had been a late adopter to the new Post-Cataclysmic ways, trying to win conventional wars against magic, and trying to police its territory using normal police unprepared for rift-surges and zombie attacks.
But they weren’t going to make the same mistake twice. The 13SA have speedily developed, forming wizarding and sorcerer divisions to combat their enemies, and even establishing an order of purifiers based in Maine, called the Minutemen, to defend the northern border from the armies of the Shroud.
Alliances with dwarven strongholds, elf enclaves and many other beings from beyond the In Between have also helped to bolster the forces of the republic.
The 13SA have recovered a lot of their old power, becoming a powerhouse in the Atlantic as it renews foreign relations with the rest of the world, even sending troops to aid the Scandinavian League in peacekeeping operations in Europe.
As the 13SA becomes more powerful, many states have re-joined, with more coming every year. But the United States is still disunited, and many in Washington want to see the entire continent under their rule again, even if it means fighting Texas once more. And after that, Deseret.
In the wake of the Cataclysm and the rise of monsters, magical warlords and the breakdown of civil society, the Texan state government was one of the few powers to organise quickly, taking a hard stand to combat the darkness of this new magical Earth.
Police and national guardsmen were organised alongside local militia to specialise in fighting the new supernatural elements of the Cataclysm, culminating in the eventual reform of the Texas Rangers as specialist monster and mage hunters, often armed with magical weapons and their own magics.
These Texas Rangers earned their stars when they eliminated an entire orc horde growing in central Texas, killing the orcish warlord and subjugating the orcs into the republic.
The Texan government saw its link to the failing federal government as holding them back. Things came to a head when Mexican Death Cartels, aligned with the newly formed Nuevo Azteca Empire, occupied El Paso.
The local militias and police were able to expel the invaders and wanted to go south over the border for reprisals. The federal government refused to allow them to do so, sparking the secession and then the Second American Civil War.
After the war ended decisively with the dissolution of most of the United States, Texas consolidated its power. It finally invaded Nuevo Azteca, taking Ciudad Juarez and much of the surrounding area. When the Aztecs tried to take back the territory, their efforts were quashed as Texas Rangers crushed their main force as they moved up the 45.
Nuevo Azteca agreed to a ceasefire, allowing Texas to keep its gains. This was primarily due to territories in the south of Mexico threatening to break way from the new theocracy.
The states that allied with Texas during the Civil War were not immediately absorbed into Texas, as the intent of the Civil War was the idea that decentralised states would fare far better under the new world. But as warlord armies grew and Deseret rose in the west, it became apparent that many states smaller than Texas would need to work together.
In the early 2000s, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi officially joined the new Texas Republic as independent and affiliated states. In practice, this came to reflect the old USA, but with Texan state government as the new federal government.
Texas rose as an unparalleled hegemon, competing for favour with the unaligned states against the 13SA, while acting as a protector of the Coalition States to the north. But their position was threatened when New Mexico, a state long in negotiations to enter the republic, was annexed by Deseret.
Texas mobilised its army to liberate New Mexico, but was stopped inside Albuquerque, where the urban centre was used by Deseret armed preachers and soldiers to turn the city into a bloodbath. Nuevo Azteca used this as an opportunity to invade El Paso again. Texas redirected its forces to the easier foe, securing El Paso, but conceding New Mexico.
Border skirmishes continue and Texas has closed its border to Deseret, but no major offensive has happened since. For now…
North and South Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma were all neutral during the Second American Civil War, displeasing both the 13SA and Texas. But as Deseret rose in the west and threatened their new sovereignty after the dissolution, the states banded together to form the Coalition Against Deseret. While they had snubbed Texas during the Civil War, the annexation of New Mexico turned Deseret into Texas’ main foe, making the Coalition a natural ally.
Texas uses the Coalition as a proxy to fight Deseret up north, experimenting with new weapons and magic as well as destabilising the empire.
Every state in the Coalition is independent in all but military matters, dedicated to helping each other resist incursions into each other’s territories.
The natural inclination to reflect each other’s policies has become dangerous, however, as rising minorities of otherworlders have come to be persecuted in some states. All except for a dragon who has come to make Mt Rushmore its nest, which has become a symbol of the Coalition as it has proven to not want to harm any locals.
For now, the Coalition stands, but as Deseret becomes the fundamental concern of half of North America, will this independence fade away until the Coalition is a single nation? Or is animosity alone not enough to build a nation?
When the Cataclysm brought magic and monsters into the world, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints saw it as a sign. Perhaps, not Judgement Day, but definitely an opportunity to spread the faith. And if not save the world, it could save its soul.
As the power of the federal government faded, the Church used its ties with local government and its existing networks and strong social cohesion among the Utah Mormon communities to begin stockpiling weapons and train preachers in the ways of magic. A call was put out to all Mormons, and soon enough almost all Mormons in the United States had congregated in Utah.
As the federal government failed to fight monsters and warlords, the Utah state government took the initiative and worked with the Church to arm and train monster hunters called Preachers. Simultaneously priests, missionaries, exorcists, hunters and soldiers. Preachers were an elite fighting force, crushing demonic incursions and slaughtering warlords until Utah resembled the peaceful days of the US golden era.
When cartels aligned with Nuevo Azteca took Arizona, Preachers of Utah were sent to eliminate the invaders. No permission was asked of the still existing federal government, who had been silent. Thankful for the aid, the Arizona government agreed (some say under duress) to join a pact of friendship with Utah.
It wasn’t explicitly called so at the time, but Deseret had been born, named after the Mormon state that had never been.
When the Second American Civil War erupted, the secret was let out. The Armed Preachers of Deseret (APD) marched to secure Colorado. Bogged down in Texas, the federal government was unable to do anything. Wyoming fell afterwards. Nevada agreed to annexation peacefully, using the presence of a powerful demonic gambling cartel as a bargaining chip to maintain its relative independence as long as it paid lip service to Deseret and dedicated funds to the war effort. It also benefited from Deseret’s prohibition, as Nevada was the only state where alcohol could be purchased legally.
Incursions into Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon were disappointing, as the Shroud had decimated the states. Preachers, however, somehow managed to survive to tell the tale. Efforts continue to repopulate the states but only Preachers have survived, citing the grace of God for their survival.
The Coalition formed rapidly after the Fall of Denver, and Deseret didn’t feel ready to fight the Texan backed alliance just yet, choosing to consolidate the west.
As was customary, Deseret gave an offer to California to join its holy empire. California refused. Within hours of its refusal, earthquakes wracked the state, as the San Andreas fault threatened to tear the earth asunder. Then it stopped.
Deseret mages had taken over the San Andreas fault with secret and powerful magics. Fearing for their lives, the Californian government conceded, and California became the 6th state to join the empire, with New Mexico following soon after.
Deseret has since become an unparalleled regional hegemon, fuelled by a holy mission, discipline and a competence that even convinces atheists to concede to its power. While a theocracy, Deseret does respect religious freedoms. To a degree. While heretics are allowed to practice their faith in private, they are not allowed to proselytise. And all schools are only to preach Mormonism.
Many other freedoms do remain, however, with the press constantly criticising the new theocracy, and Nevada still retaining its glorious hedonism. Now tripled by it being the only legal place in Deseret to purchase alcohol.
The Coalition and Texas hold Deseret back, and the state is content for now to stay back and consolidate the Shroud states to the north. But what will happen when they renew their crusade? Will the Coalition manage to hold back the tide? Or will it soon start waving the blue and white stars of the Mormon Empire.
The Cataclysm’s magic almost destroyed Hawaii, as its volcanoes, many believed to be dormant and even dead, came back to life. As people hastily tried to flee the islands, the volcanoes were stopped by a magical force. This force revealed itself to be Kāne, the old Hawaiian god of creation and the sky. He was joined by Kanaloa, Kū and Lono, alongside many other spirits and fae that came to inhabit the islands.
The gods swore to protect the islands once again, forgiving their people for abandoning them. They ordered the people of the island to appoint a Shogun (revealing a relation to the Japanese spirits now taking form in the Nippon Shogunate), to act as regent of the gods.
The Hawaii Shogunate formed, becoming a divinely protected area in the treacherous Pacific. But can even gods protect them from the wider world?
As the seas and skies proved too treacherous for American and Coalition soldiers to return home during the Gulf War, the military decided to annex Kuwait to ensure their own survival. Declaring Kuwait, a new state of the United States, no other nation was functioning enough to reject the notion. Much less the United Nations, reeling from a wendigo attack on the General Assembly.
Working with the Kuwait government, the US military reformed the nation to reflect the United States. With the knowledge that they could no longer go home, American boots on the ground made a truly concerted effort to make this country their new home.
American Kuwait, alongside Israel and Persia, now stand as the most organised and powerful nations in the Middle East.
Conclusion: The United States After the Cataclysm
The Shroud from the North. Nuevo Azteca from the south. And enemies from within. The Disunited States of America do not seem close to reforming into the once great republic. But even apart, the vestiges of the world’s greatest superpower are still great, and when they stop fighting each other, the world may quake again as the new values of this post-magical world push America to claim its position as the empire of the world once again.