Tyrannis takes place in an alternate timeline, with a United States that is different from the one we all know and have varying opinions about.
Besides the alleged corruption and militarism, I’m pretty sure that our timeline’s America didn’t annex Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean that wasn’t Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. And even if the US never ratified the United Nations Mercenary Convention, I’m pretty sure the US Army didn’t get replaced with mercenaries. Plus, I’m pretty sure the US flag doesn’t look like Betsy Ross somehow copied Nazi Germany’s.
Thing is, Tyrannis has all three of those things. So, to preemptively ask a question, how did this world end up in this mess? Well, we’re going to have to turn the clock back a couple centuries, give or take a couple decades.
America declared independence in April of 1775, with an expedition of Major General Richard Montgomery, Ethan Allen, and Colonel Benedict Arnold setting out to the North, with the trio capturing Quebec City on New Year’s Eve and Halifax a year later. To the south, Washington was able to hold New York in the Miracle at Long Island. While the war continued in the Americans’ favor, it was the 1777 Battle of Trenton that convinced the Kingdom of France that the Americans was capable of defeating their classic rivals, while the American victory in the 1778 Battle of Monmouth silenced any remaining concerns in Versailles.
While the 1781 Battle of Cowpens was the beginning of the end of the war in America, the 1780 Gordon Riots were the beginning of the end in Britain. What had once been an orderly, if massive, protest against the Papists Act of 1778 had become a bloody slaughter that many feared would tear London, or even the United Kingdom, apart. After British Regulars were called in, thousands were caught dead in the chaos, Catholic and Protestant alike, including one young Arthur Wellesley. With Cornwallis’ surrender at the Battle of Yorktown, as well as further instability in Britain and Ireland, Lord Shelburne had seen the writing on the wall, and the Treaty of Paris saw the British cut their losses and cede all of North America to their former colonies.
Though victorious, the Americans were tested with the First Shays’ Rebellion in 1786, which contributed to both the United States Constitution, as well as the return of Washington and subsequent landslide victory to become the first President. However, the French Revolution had begun across the Atlantic, and with it, the Shaysites were reinvigorated, radicalized, and not as easily crushed as they were the first time. This time, it would be vigilantes, mobs, and guerrillas instead of militias.
While the Shaysites continue to harass tax collectors and the like across the nation, Washington is reelected to a second term in 1793. Citing the continued Shaysite insurrection, Washington reluctantly, yet successfully, wins reelection in 1797 after encouragement from Alexander Hamilton. Across the ocean, Admiral Horatio Nelson died of his wounds at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Under encouragement from Alexander Hamilton, Washington seeks a fourth term. He is reelected in a landslide. Two years later, Washington concludes the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon Bonaparte, doubling the country’s size. America also gains several French territories in the Caribbean in exchange for intervening in the Haitian Revolution. Along with a successful intervention in the following year, Washington finally finishes crushing second Shays’ Rebellion in 1804, with the capture and subsequent hanging of Daniel Shays in the rechristened capital of Washington (formerly known as New York City). With this success, Washington is sworn into his fifth term as President. Many had taken to calling him as “George I,” mostly out of respect. Washington declines that title, preferring “American Caesar.”
Three years later, George Washington passed away at age 76. Given his long reign, the humble gentleman farmer had inadvertently set a precedent for Presidents for Life. After a brief power struggle, he is succeeded by Alexander Hamilton as the second American Caesar. Aaron Burr was kept on as an advisor, while Thomas Jefferson returns to Monticello in self-exile.
In light of continued British impressment of sailors and Hamilton’s own growing rapport with Napoleon over their similarities, the United States intervened in the Napoleonic Wars on Napoleon’s side, taking the remaining British territories in the Caribbean, along with Bermuda. The latter was successful in his conquests by the end of 1818, with the Invasion of London. After the installation of Napoleon’s new order, which his critics decry as “The Last Days of Europe,” Caesar Alexander I and Emperor Napoleon I supported the South American revolutionaries under Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin against the Bourbon Royalists who had fled to South America.
While the Latin American rebels saw great successes against their former colonial overlords, the United States is able to conquer the Bourbon-aligned island of Cuba and the rest of the Spanish Caribbean in the ensuing chaos, while Napoleon is able to rid himself of several claimants to his dynasty’s rule in Spain. The Bourbons are forced to flee to the Philippines.
In 1835, Caesar Alexander I Washington-Hamilton passed away. He is succeeded by his son, Caesar Phillip I Washington-Hamilton. Like his father before him, the new Caesar is a military man, and it showed in his victory against the Mexicans in the Texas Revolution. Texas is soon annexed into the United States.
The United States fought a revanchist Mexico in the Mexican-American War. Led by the Caesar himself, the Americans reached in Mexico City in two years. Terms were set, and Caesar Phillip I personally annexed all of Mexico. Which he would spend the next three decades pacifying.
Across the ocean, the Bonaparte Dynasty was overthrown and forced to flee to America. Over the next few years, nations throughout Europe overthrow their Bonaparte leaders in favor of republics in what many call “The Springtime of Nations.” As for the Bonapartes themselves, Caesar Philip’s son Alexander George Washington was married to the daughter of the deposed Napoleon III, forever joining the two families, while Hispaniola, the last bastion of Bonaparte support, was annexed in 1849. Though Haiti and Dominica achieved statehood, the Bonaparte Dynasty continue to dominate the states’ politics to this day.
With the Army largely busy in Mexico and increasing unrest over slavery, Caesar Phillip I sent General William Walker to Central America. Over the next ten years, Walker and his army of mercenaries filibustered their way through Central America, up to the Darien Gap. For his work, Walker was appointed Governor of Central America.
To prevent a Civil War and finally end the practice of slavery, Caesar Phillip I created a system of manumission in which each slave is bought for 20 acres and a mule in Mexico. Coupled with a bit of backroom politicking, a crisis was averted. Though slavery was officially outlawed, many former slaves were, in fact, slaves in all but name.
In the Second Springtime of Nations, the last monarchs of Europe are sent into exile. Republics are declared from Dublin to the Danube. Across the Atlantic, Caesar Phillip I Washington is succeeded by his son, Caesar Alexander II Washington. His first act is to seize the remaining European territories in the Caribbean.
On the centennial of the nation, Caesar Alexander II declares the Mexican occupation a success, and proclaims that America is entering a new era. To begin, he rechristened the nation as the “Continental States of America,” and wholeheartedly embraces the concept of Manifest Destiny, with the claim that America would one day rule from “Sea to Shining Sea” and “Pole to Frozen Pole”
In the Berlin Conference, the European republics agree to partition Africa. By the turn of the century, all of Africa will be split amongst them, along with the Arabian Peninsula. Undeterred by the diplomatic insult, the Americans turn to the East, where diplomats begin to forge ties with the Empire of Japan to prevent further European influence.
The After decades of insurrections in the southern states, the states of Central America are admitted into the CSA. With American aid, the Empire of Japan was able to rapidly modernize past the Qing Empire, whose prestige waned with every concession granted.
At the turn of the century, Caesar Alexander II died, and is succeeded by his son, Caesar George II. Across the ocean, the European Republics united into a new alliance, the United Nations of Europe and Africa. In response, the Japanese and Americans formed an alliance to combat European influence in East Asia; their first order of business was contacting independence movements across the region.
In 1905, the East Asian war began, with the CSA-backed Japanese squaring off against the Qing in Korea, while CSA forces fought through colonial holdings in Indonesia and the Philippines. After five years of bloody warfare, the Japanese and Americans prove victorious. East Asia has fallen under the control of the Japanese, and by extension, their American backers.
After the humiliation of the East Asian War, the Qing Empire was overthrown by Sun Yat-Sen with the help of Japanese and American volunteers and arms. Despite his best efforts, Sun’s death in 1925 led to the fracturing of the nation for almost fifty years.
European efforts to expand their influence in South America ultimately led to the issuing of the Corollary to the Washington Doctrine, beginning the Interventionism Period of CSA foreign policy in South America.
While the CSA is effective in intervening in South American affairs to protect their interests, this has the unintended consequence of creating resentment among many South Americans. A similar phenomenon occurs in the Latin American states, where the continued monopolistic and often-exploitative tactics of large corporations in the regions had created an atmosphere of resentment among the locals, though experts argue that this was part of a growing culture of corruption in the government across the nation.
Despite their differing views, European agents began meeting with leftist leaders in South and Central America, with the promise of training, weapons, and funds to combat their American-friendly leaders, and by extension, the CSA as a whole.
After decades years of prosperity followed by an economic collapse, Caesar George II is assassinated in 1935 in the Business Plot, possibly in retaliation for his reformist proposals. His young, more business-friendly son, John, is quickly sworn in as Caesar John I Washington. A new age begins, with talk of American Freedom, Exceptionalism, Efficiency and Progress.
Sensing weakness, European forces attack the Atlantic Fleet at Bermuda and the Pacific fleet at Sapporo in late 1936. For the first time in almost thirty years, America was at war, with the youngest Caesar in its history. European forces flooded through Alaska and invade the Caribbean. To the South, the anti-American “Southern Spring” swept through South America in 1939, with the entire continent falling to European-backed workers’ rebellions.
In the 1940 Battle of Alaska, American troops manage to push the European forces out of Alaska. Greenland falls by Christmas. The Caribbean is slowly being recaptured in an island-hopping campaign. By the spring of the next year, the last European holdouts are defeated in Bermuda. After over half a decade of war, America is whole once more.
With the Imperial Japanese Navy conquering Sakhalin and Indochina with ease and patrolling the seas in the Pacific, as well as the naval stalemate in the Atlantic, the CSA turns their sights southwards by 1941. The Rainforest Wars are the bloodiest in world history, with the United States and Asian Expeditionary Forces working to stamp out the last vestiges of Communism in the Americas, and with it, the last vestiges of European interference. In eight years of bloody conflict, the Americans and their Asian allies conquered the continent.
Behind closed doors in Washington, a committee of businessmen, leaders, and the young Caesar himself discussed the next steps. Topics include economics, personnel requirements, economics, Americanization, and most importantly, propaganda, all of which set the groundwork for the Greater American Co-Prosperity Sphere. By the time the 1949 Treaty of Washington Harbor was signed to end hostilities, their plans were already in motion.
In the wake of the war, both the Americans and the Japanese had found themselves facing a war-weary populace on the homefront, and mounting insurrections in their conquered territories. To solve this problem, as well as the mounting unemployment at home, several Japanese Zaibatsu decided to cooperate and form the Kirihara Group, a mercenary organization designed to protect and further their interests, as well as that of the Japanese, both at home and abroad.
Seeing the successes of the Kirihara Group, several prominent tycoons, as well as the American Caesar himself, formed a similar organization, Continental Armed Security Services, to assist in their occupation and reconstruction of South America.
The African Independence Wars saw Continental Security troops contracted in Africa and Arabia to fight independence wars on nearly every front against the European colonial forces. When the dust settled, it was the freedom fighters and their mercenary allies claiming victory in the Heart of Darkness and Arabia. In victory, the darkness of colonialism was burned away, though many have grumbled that their liberators are their new colonizers.
With Continental Armed Security Service’s victories in Africa, as well as their continued work in South America, the American Caesar’s mercenary saw unprecedented growth and expansion to both North and Central America. As icing on the cake, a subsidiary mercenary company, the United African Company, had been created, with countless colonial troopers hired to rule over the people that’d rebelled against them.
Having never forgotten their Chinese comrades, the Americans and Japanese turned to the east to intervene in the still-divided nation. On January 1, 1968, Caesar John walked off a landing craft in Hong Kong, declaring, “Sun Yat-Sen. I have returned!” For the next three years, Chinese forces, backed by Japanese and American “advisors” and weapons rolled their forces against the divided warlords. Come October 1970, and the Second Republic of China had been declared in Beijing, though its leader, President Yuan, has sought to model himself after the American Caesar.
On New Year’s Day, and the American Caesar is found dead. With his firstborn son missing, presumed dead, the title went to his second son, Justin. Having grown up in his father’s shadow, Caesar Justin I Washington-Hamilton intends to emulate his father’s successes, though he seems to lack his father’s ability, tact, or charisma, preferring a blunt use of brute force to prove himself a worthy successor.
While Caesar Justin has spent the last five years speaking highly of his abilities and what he would call successes, the young Caesar has, in fact, done little more than become a puppet to his cronies and a tyrant to many of his subjects. Whether it be deploying Continental Security mercenaries against civil rights activists, union leaders or the declaration of Martial Law, the American Caesar seems to care little, so long as he and his backers stay in the black.
Nevertheless, the Continental States of America is still the strongest nation despite its overstretched mercenary forces, the richest nation despite its poverty and inequality, the largest nation despite the separatist movements born from mistreatment, and arguably the greatest nation despite the misery and suffering that seem to be ignored. But if he has his way, this year will celebrate the next two centuries of dominance by the CSA, as well as the last two.
In truth, the CSA is a powder keg, with many turning to the cartridge box, now that they know the ballot box won’t work; men and women across the nation have taken a stand against the American Caesar. Though some fight to restore democracy while others fight for their people’s independence, it seems that they all can agree that the American Caesar must fall.
So, that’s how we ended up here. Is it unlikely? Yes. Does is push the Butterfly Effect to the limit, and have America get ridiculously lucky? Pretty much. But does it get the world of Tyrannis to where it is today? I hope so.
A lot of the inspiration came from alternate history mods for Hearts of Iron, such as The New Order: Last Days of Europe, alternate history timelines with similarly-sized empires that deconstruct the idea of the “Space-Filling Empire,” and show what happens when that Empire runs out of luck. Be sure to check them out!
Thank you for reading the second dev diary for Tyrannis! Now, it’s back to game testing for me, and if you want to stay updated on the game, be sure to follow cGh ONE on Twitter, YouTube, and Kickstarter.