The Dirty 30s! is a dark, gritty, seemingly hopeless place
where conflict is brewing across both oceans. It is a stark contrast to the
previous decade, the Roaring 20s, which was a period of unprecedented growth and opportunity.
It is in this world you now stand, but you can find your own opportunities if
you can avoid the pitfalls and the dangers.
The Dirty 30s! starts with Black Thursday (Oct 24th, 1929)
& Black Tuesday (Oct 29th, 1929) which marks the beginning of the collapse of
the stock market. This collapse brought the entire worlds economy down with it.
The Dow dropped 74% by 1932. By 1934 over 9000 banks closed their doors,
and one out of every four workers was unemployed. To get some of those workers
working again, Government work programs were established with projects including
many dams & roads.
The reason for the 30s being dirty was the
"Dust Bowl" which was caused by a combination of poor farming
practices and a 7 year drought. Topsoil, once held in place by the deep roots of
the prairie grasses was lifted up into great clouds of dust consuming everything
in its path, One such storm in 1934 went as far east as Washington DC & New
York. In another storm a cloud of dirt moving at 60 mph was so dense the day was
remembered as "Black Sunday" as it completely blotted out the sun. The
drought became so prominent that 27 states, or 75% of the country was under its
effect. To escape the "Dust Bowl" many people traveled thousands of
miles down the "Mother Road" to the west coast looking for opportunities
that did not exist there either.
The Dirty 30s! also saw the wrapping up some loose ends from
the 1920s. After an almost 400% increase in alcohol related crimes, and the emergence of
"Organized Crime", Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Al Capone was
convicted in 1931 for Tax evasion, Bonny & Clyde were shot down in a police
ambush in 1934, as was "Pretty Boy" Floyd.
Overseas, Europe was gearing up for the next war. In 1933 Adolph Hitler becomes
chancellor of Germany. After the death of German President Paul von Hindenburg
in 1934, Hitler combines the offices of president and chancellor; assumes the
title of Führer. Italy's Mussolini goes on the offensive and Spain falls into
civil war. China & Japan, exchanging hostilities for most of the decade, go to
war in 1937. In 1939, Germany invades Poland which Britain and France declare
war on Germany two days following.
One bright spot for the Dirty 30s! was it's
entertainment. Radio was one of the biggest outlets for most families. Jazz offshoots, Big Band and Swing, became increasingly
popular. Blues came into its own feeding off of the hardships of the
people. People also listened to the music on 78 (RPM) records,
which usually consisted of one song per side.
Dime Novels and Pulp Action books also remained popular with
new characters, like Doc Savage and The Shadow, coming to the forefront. It's
characters like these that you will probably be portraying in your campaigns,
solving mysteries, fighting organized crime or the Nazis! Like the characters in
the pulps you may be looking for treasure in Egypt, or stopping mad scientists while
avoiding despots and agents of the enemy, the possibilities are endless. The
Dirty 30s! is just a backdrop to help define the world in which the characters