The Cataclysm

The defining historical event that created the Wyrd West

As seen in
Gunslinger lore held that once things had been different. Once, chemical processes were reliable and predictable. Guns and munitions were produced in factories; or so they said. But that was before the Cataclysm.
  The people of the Wyrd West are aware that once, the world used to be different. The laws of physics were consistent. Magic was practiced illusion, the religion of counterculturalists, or the delusion of madmen. Elves, dwarves, gnomes; ghosts, zombies, and wendigoes; and spells, spirits, and miracles -- these were all merely myths.   Then something happened. Something that changed the very fabric of the universe that the world existed in. There was no apparent cause, although many scholars have tried to pinpoint one. And the world was changed forever.  
They’d noted one of the signs of the Ancients just a few hours outside of Queenstown, standing against the heavy leaden sky. The word it posted was DOMO. Graeme didn’t know what a domo was – some totemic thing from before the Cataclysm, he guessed. It jutted from the prairie hardpan like a single tooth in an old man’s jaw. Half of the bottom O was submerged in dust.
  The descendants of the survivors call this event "the Cataclysm." The repercussions of this event were extensive. Tectonic shifts caused massive power failures; breakdowns and in some cases, meltdowns of several nuclear power plants; and eventually, the collapse of the entire hydroelectric system and with it, the Internet. Gasoline would no longer burn reliably, so vehicular travel over long distances ended. Electromagnetic fluctuations caused massive breakdowns in maglev and electric train systems as well.   This complete failure of communication and transportation systems caused widespread famine, which led to the breakdown of technology and society. The breakdown of society led to the breakdown of medical infrastructure, which resulted in widespread plagues. Most of the major empires, including the United States, Russia, China, and even smaller imperial powers like France and the United Kingdom, fell apart completely.  


Age of Chaos

At last they found the ancient, sealed military crates that she was looking for. Whatever identification number had marked them now blurred into obscurity, although they probably would have been able to read it, should it have been intact. Written language, at least, had not changed much since the Old World was destroyed. All three were olive drab, and one was also marked with a blurred symbol she deliberately blocked from the troll’s view; a three-rayed warning sign that the survivors of the Cataclysm, and their descendants, knew all too well.
  An age of chaos followed. Petty warlords and despots worked to establish fascist kingdoms and city-states. Bandits driven by greed or desperation preyed on the defenseless. In famine-stricken areas, there were even widespread reports of cannibalism, and cannibalistic cults are said to linger in hidden pockets to this day. Societies shrank and became intensely regional and isolated.   Petty wars between warlords (and would-be warlords) often had long-reaching effects that outstripped their relative insignificance. The Ancients left dangerous weapons of war behind. While nuclear warheads and hellfire explosives usually did not work the way they were intended, they still leaked radiation or had other unintended effects. Developing sudden supernatural powers encouraged more than a few tyrants and sociopaths to take advantage of their newfound abilities. And most biochemical weapons remained every bit as effective, although some required additional alchemical changes to restore their capabilities.   None of this was helped by the sudden appearance (or re-appearance) of creatures and monsters of myth. From ancient cultural beliefs to urban legends, suddenly dreams and nightmares became real. Sociopaths were not the only people who began to exhibit supernatural powers, and they were variously embraced, or hated and feared, depending on the local culture.  
Some genius in the days just following the Cataclysm had remembered the star-shaped forts of this land’s Colonial ancestors, like the one they had left in Halifax that was known as the Citadel, and had realized the changed conditions of the world’s physics made this design into the pinnacle of engineering once again.

End to the Chaos

But society had come too far to be knocked back to the Stone Age. In many places, especially those less affected by famine, recovery was relatively swift. People with practical skills that still worked taught those skills to others. And beacons of hope who had learned how to effectively harness these new supernatural powers began to appear, such as The Gunslinger Order.  

See Also

The Ancients

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Published Books

The Wyrd West Chronicles
Generic article | Jun 7, 2021

Check out all the published books in the Wyrd West Chronicles so far!



Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West (Wyrd West Chronicles #1-6)


Gunsmoke & Dragonfire (featuring The Teeth of Winter (Wyrd West Chronicles #7)



Apocalypse the Day After by Kai Strachowiuk

Petty wars between warlords (and would-be warlords) often had long-reaching effects that outstripped their relative insignificance.


Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West


Cover image: Apocalypse by Kai Stachowiuk
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