Deadlands Noir: Sweet L.A.
A New Age
A New Age
When the Great War came in 1914, the church remained neutral but sent three huge hospital ships to Europe and the Dardanelles. Large numbers of trained nurses, the Angels of Mercy, were dispatched to the battlefields of France and Turkey, and won great respect for their stoic ministry to the wounded and dying. In the aftermath of that terrible conflict, the standing of Lost Angels was greatly enhanced, and Sister Judith’s name became a watchword for selflessness and generosity.
The rapid industrialization of patent science during the Great War caused a dramatic spike in the demand for ghost rock. Church-run assay offices situated all over Lost Angels paid a good price for as much ghost rock as individuals could provide and shipped it Back East. Naturally, control over the most valuable substance in the world made the church a very wealthy organization. So much so, in fact, that the church decided to levy no business taxes on companies located in Lost Angels, making it a very attractive location for commerce.
This prosperity was shared by most industrial nations after the war, and the decadent 1920s were a collective sigh of relief after the brutality of the previous six years. The permissive ways of the ‘20s were not reflected in the new, more religious Lost Angels, but neither was the church leadership overly repressive. So, while alcohol was supposed to be prohibited in the Free and Holy City, moonshine was common. For those with more expensive tastes, Maze runners smuggled shipments of the good stuff from the Confederacy. Alcohol became just expensive enough to create criminal organizations and rings of smugglers anxious to make a quick buck, though these gangs paled to those in Chicago and the North.
The good times had to end, of course, and when the end came, it came hard. In 1929, the bottom fell out of the increasingly unstable United States Stock Market, and the North crashed. The South followed soon after and no major country in the world was spared. Decadence was replaced with austerity, prosperity with poverty, and the seemingly endless party of the Age of Excess was over.
Initially, Lost Angels was relatively insulated from the dreadful ravages of the economic collapse. It had surpluses and could afford to pay inflated prices for food. The ability of the city to feed itself drew still more desperate souls to the city’s great black walls in search of sustenance, and the population in the sprawl surrounding the walled city soared out of control. In time, however, the Dust Bowl settled on the continent, the church’s wealth counted for nothing. There simply wasn’t enough food to go around and people began to starve.
Into this desperate situation came William Randolph Hearst, a wealthy newspaperman whose East Coast family made millions mining ghost rock out West, and whose numerous investments include countless diverse industries Back East. Hearst moved in and established a number of businesses and, most importantly, newspapers. Hearst ran for mayor in the 1938 mayoral elections, but lost to a popular movie star named Jackie Murphy.