Monday, 10 November 2014

Television City

Presented below is Television City, the first long form setting I ever wrote for Cyberpunk 2020, when I was 16. TVC was meant to be a closed system that could encompass all the different facets of RAW Cyberpunk 2020: the net, the common cyberware, the booster street gangs and full borgs. I'm not saying it's GOOD, exactly, but it does have a pretty unique character - all claustrophobic and colourful and full full full of people. It has autonomous communities clinging to sea walls and hanging from roof-tops.  




It's funny to go back and remember teenage obsessions, writ large in a GM document.The main inspirations were definitely City of God and Ghost in the Shell - TVC is really meant to resemble the crowded streets Major Kusanagi contemplates in the famous "Ghost City" sequence of the original movie. Another major influence was Batman of the Future: Emile Tuzenbakh is more like a character from an animated superhero show than any real criminal leader. China Mieville's Perdido Street Station had just blown my mind - you might recognise a few place names. The name "Television City" is taken from Paul DiFilippo's Ribofunk.

And yes, the "Tuzenbakh" comes from Anton Chekhov's play Three Sisters - that's how I know I was 16 when I wrote this: I was studying that play in Theatre Studies!

One final source of ideas was the Dune TV Mini-Series on the Sci-Fi channel. That show had a great "Renaissance meets the Future" vibe which I imagined for TVC (even if the document doesn't ever really mention it). A decade or so later Deus Ex 3 had the same idea, which means I can use the concept art from this game to illustrate this piece!

When I wrote this, I had only run a few game sessions and never seen a well-written RPG city book (or any of the thousand thousand thousand bad ones). Written now, after a dozen sandbox campaigns, TVC would look very different. For one thing, I certainly wouldn't have front-loaded it with two paragraphs about the national constitution! Each city district would have had a list of ongoing adventure hooks to draw in the players; that would have been planned BEFORE any information on the district. I feel like TVC lacks an ongoing "crisis" to immerse the players in from the start. The "Fixer Cartels" lack character; the street gangs and netrunner collectives deserve names. The Darklight Organisation is waaay too monolithic. The idiot who wrote this didn't understand "finance" at all. There's nowhere in the setting to go surfing.

There are a dozen inconsistent design decisions motivated solely by the sort of game I wanted to run back then. Guns are supposedly very hard to get, largely because I was very much into super-serious-write-an-essay-about-your-character Real Roleplaying back then and associated big guns with "munchkinism." Like many of my older Cyberpunk 2020 games, TVC was set in an authoritarian surveillance state (albeit a very corrupt one). I've backed away from those lately, simply for ease of play! 

Still, I haven't edited this document much, except to clear up the prose (and remove some paragraphs about finance: that section is now merely nonsensical, rather than all out BORING). Mostly, this editing meant purging commas. Commas, commas, commas, commas. Say what you like about a liberal arts university education; at least I, learnt, how, to, write, a, readable, sentence,... 

TVC was the setting for a short lived but wonderful PbP game which made me lasting friends in the CP2020 community. The following post is in honour of Weasel, a Floodzone knife-fighter whose story should have lasted longer!




i
TELEVISION CITY (TVC)

Television City is a riotous city-state, dominated by insular banking clans and corporations. Almost crippled by civil disturbances, it faces appalling overcrowding and overwhelming social problems. Meanwhile, the machinations of blood thirsty criminals keep the streets in a state of near constant violence.

TVC is city of approximately 9 million registered citizens and perhaps another 6 million zeroes, wedged between the mountains and the sea. It was built during the 1930s, a monument to technology, in an art deco, futurist and neo-gothic style in the mould inspired by Manhattan industrialists. During the global collapse a violent clash between the neo-luddite Chrome Jihad and pro-tech groups like the "Iron Guard" devastated parts of the city, leading to major flooding and economic problems which the criminal and corporations have since exploited.


GOVERNMENT 


POPULATION
9 million registered citizens (with a registered identity card)
3 million (official estimate)/4 to 10 million unregistered citizens

Government and Politics: Republic




OFFICIAL: The TVC government is a republic ruled by a council of 99 members, consisting of 70 unpaid volunteer officials elected by votes in the various city districts, 6 judges, the chief of police, the ISS commander, the commander in chief of the military plus another 20 representatives of the major economic groups in the city. Each councillor has 1 vote; bills require a seventy percent yes vote to pass, while major constitutional changes need a 95% vote. The council then elects ministers for the various posts such as transport and defence. Individual council members are re-elected by their respective constituents every 5 years. Anyone on the Council can propose an issue and call a council vote.

The city has a constitution which guarantees freedom of religion and speech but also bans soft drugs and prostitution (without a very expensive licence that only the largest casinos and corporate geisha collectives can afford). It also enforces a near total ban on civilian firearms (security corporations get special dispensation). Those wishing to acquire a legal firearm must go through a series of psych tests and then get an expensive licence. All licensed civilian firearms are fitted with a tracker that plots the location of the gun and also alerts the police every time it is fired. The Council is currently discussing whether gun cameras should be made mandatory. Hospitals and schools are private while certain parts of the city employ private police forces. Currently, AIs may not become citizens and full human cloning is illegal. In general, however, TVC maintains a pro-science outlook and biotech companies are both common and well supported.

UNOFFICIAL: Where to start? Official political parties are banned in the city, a measure apparently meant to prevent abuse of campaign advertising and the party whip system. This law also makes it very difficult for mass movements to organise peacefully against the status quo. In addition to this, Council Members (CMs) are not paid, which is either a blessing or a curse. On the one hand it ensures that only those with a guaranteed source of private income (thus a stake in the city) tend to run for council, but on the other hand ensures that the rich are overrepresented. The banks and corporations control many seats directly. Since only registered citizens can vote, the homeless and many of the urban poor - almost half the city  - is not represented. 

To make matters worse, bribery is rife. Because there is no party structure CMs vote individually according to their constituent's will and their own conscience. Or at least they should, but since they aren’t paid bribery is rife. Since the police and Internal Security Service are corrupt themselves, people turn a blind eye to this. 

As for the gun laws, in the past they were outwardly successful (except that techies learnt from their British and Japanese counterparts how to retool replica pistols), but they didn’t prevent both the gangs and the Chrome Jihad stockpiling huge numbers of smuggled weapons. Since the sea wall came down a veritable tide of illegal gun smugglers have followed the water into the flood zone, and the police are virtually powerless to stop them. Even so, advanced fire-power is a lot rarer in TVC than Night City. Currently the council is deciding whether to legalise soft drugs, partly because of political pressure, partly because legalising anything reduces the crime statistics. There is also a growing movement to legalise (and then tax and regulate) prostitution, regarded as one of the worst vice problems in the city. The criminal gangs are opposed to this and are throwing their financial weight against the bill.

Citizen Registration and Rights: According to TVC’s 1933 founding charter: 

The charter of this city-state hereby decrees that all registered citizens shall be eligible to a vote, national health insurance and unemployment benefit, in addition to and in accordance with the basic human rights as laid out in the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’. 

The original charter of Television City (the ‘city of the future’) never envisioned that a citizen born in this city would ever be unregistered. The original purpose of the "registered citizens" phrase was to prevent illegal immigrants, migrant workers and foreigners from taking advantage of what was then a subsidized health and education service (something which no longer exists), not to exclude vast numbers of citizens from voting, claiming benefits or in fact any rights at all. 

The problem is simple. As technology increased, the methods by which registration was monitored also became more invasive. While there were relatively few complaints about identity cards, the Chrome Jihad and the government response changed the entire nature of the system. 

At the height of the clash between Jihad forces and the Iron Guard, hackers took advantage of the chaos to launch a major attack on the central police administration files (in the days before AIs protected them) and wiped out the entire list. In addition, the fighting wiped out many outlying records offices and police stations, destroying much of the hard copy.

Having stabilised the city, the police began to pick up the pieces. Almost immediately it was agreed that they needed more measures to track terrorists and criminals, measures enforced over the heads of liberal protests (in the immediate wake of the Jihad, the police took an extremely paranoid attitude towards any kind of mass demonstration or show of disagreement with the government). Supported by the banking clans they removed physical money from circulation and instituted a citizen bar-coding system. All registered citizens have a specialised barcode laser-stamped on their right hand, and DNA records stored by the police. 



Each barcode has a small nano-transmitter implanted beneath it (no Humanity Cost) that continually sends a signal to the police’s central bureau. The transmitter can be detected through most clothing by any security camera or scanner with the right equipment (including many used in department stores, by corporations and even cars). Citizens can use the system to unlock their cars and houses (making theft of more expensive, newer cars much more difficult (without mutilating the owner, at any rate). The dark side of this is that the police can track any barcode still within the city via the transmitter. Theoretically, should the transmitter be removed or compromised somehow, the police should be able to ‘renew’ your registration by checking your DNA records, providing they haven’t been wiped. If they have been, the police might well assume that you never had one in the first place, or that it was a fake, and arrest you.

There are many dark rumours regarding the Barcode, including the idea that the transmitter works both ways and they can listen to your conversations (this is indeed true of some former prisoners) to the idea that the police could actually assassinate someone via a hidden toxin sac implanted below the code. This is rather less likely. The police point out that monitoring the conversations of 7 million people would not only be illegal, but also a practical impossibility. Their opponents point out that an AI could do it, and rumours point to the ISS (see below).

Of course, there were some people who objected to this and refused to be re-registered when the government started to restore their records. These were a minority. Then there were the delays brought about by the time needed for Fox Industries to manufacture enough of the transmitters, and the lack of available finances on the part of the government. The huge numbers of displaced persons, escaped prisoners and former Chrome Jihad/Iron Guard supporters in the city compounded the problem. Finally certain sections of government actively wanted to exclude entire sections of the community, and the banking families had their own ideas as to who should gain a code. In the end, an enormous number of people were simply left out, particularly those resident in the newly emerged displaced and autonomous communities throughout the city. Those without the barcode are excluded from citizenship, buying tickets on public transport (tourists can show their passport), leaving the city or gaining a visa, creating certain bank accounts, or indeed habeas corpus… Since the zeroes without barcodes don’t officially exist, there are also certain sections of the government who have no objection to eliminating them out of hand – several thousand of the urban homeless were removed from what has now become the new corporate zone, by force.

Theoretically it should be simple for anyone who wants a barcode to go to a police station or public records office and register after having a psyche and background test. However, the police are notoriously corrupt and will often demand some kind of bribe, often prohibitively high. In addition the most recent tests are deliberately hard to pass in a manner satisfactory to the citizenship board. One final piece of inequality is the ‘corporate identity barcode’ – effectively a bribe to the police to stop them tracking one’s movements, used by corporate employees. Several corporations have also introduced their own barcodes. 

There is a network of ‘tattoo artists’, linked to the netrunner collectives, who fake both records and barcodes, or modify them to subvert the tracking devise (tampering with the system could result in some serious legal repercussions). This is usually very expensive, but often the only way zeroes from regions such as the trash warrens out on Spatter’s Islands can rejoin normal society. Equally, certain criminals use netrunners to wipe out records and destroy a person’s life (actually, this is very common). 

Finally, there are many amongst the now established Autonomous Zones who have no wish to rejoin society at large now that they have their own communities. This could lead to a rather ironic situation where the government moves to reintegrate them forcibly, after years of trying to segregate them. This looks especially likely in the case of the boat people living in the river delta near the new corporate zone. Another section of the population, citizens and zeroes alike, believes that the barcode system should be entirely removed, by force if necessary. As many of the smuggling cartels use the free autonomous zones as points of entry to the city, violent extremists with these views have less trouble than might be expected getting hold of weapons.

The Chrome Jihad and Iron Guard had roughly 10,000 disciples between them, and even while they fought each other the impact of their activities nearly brought down the government and entire established social order. Unofficial government sources estimate at least 6 million zeroes (ranging from urban homeless to boat people to criminals) within the city. If someone were to organise ever a small portion of those people against the system, a reckoning would be fast and bloody.





Police and Law Enforcement: t
he TVCPD (TeleVision City Police Department) is a modern police force, but a rather underfunded one. They buy weapons and equipment from a variety of sources, while vehicles are bought from local sources. The TVCPD C-SWAT unit is known as D5, which is both extremely well funded and generally regarded as a world-class unit. The force is divided into 12 divisions – the street patrol force is D1, Vice is D4, net crime is D8, Etc. Police are lightly armed.



The legal code is roughly based on the universal code of justice, except that capital punishment is illegal except during a period of martial law. However, as pirate media continually points out, the police in this city are very trigger happy and many criminal casualties might have been considered suspicious in earlier years. After the Chrome Jihad the government instituted a riot act and legalised bounty hunters, an action many Council Members have come to regret. Acoustic gun sensors are common across the corpzone, as are cameras. The prisons are very overcrowded, and prison ships are common. Many who enter the compounds never come out, and disease is rife. Of course, richer prisoners are treated better.

One rather unusual aspect of the TVCPD is an AI known as ‘Sparky’. Sparky coordinates many surveillance operations and helps with both net security and physical investigations. The problem is that Sparky is beginning to dislike his masters, and has become a disciple of Libertarian philosophy. He has begun to withhold information and even actively sabotage investigations against seditionists, hackers and others whom he sympathises with (covertly of course). With the help of one of the most powerful hacker collectives in the city he was able to subvert the ISS monitors that track his movements through the net, and is acting as a double agent. There is only one other entity within government that is aware of this duplicity, but he has his own reasons for keeping silent. Sparky has a curious personality, occasionally childlike 

The ISS: 
The Internal Security Service is the city’s equivalent of MI5 (rather than the FBI – TVC is too small to require a federal police force), charged with preventing terrorist strikes against the city and reducing the power of the criminal gangs. In reality it is corrupt at virtually every level, and does not pursue internal criminals like the Tuzenbakh organisation. Even when it hasn't been bribed it is usually hamstrung by corruption in the police force. The ferocious intensity with which it attacks the smuggling rings is an exception to this rule. It controls the city’s main counter terrorist unit, Force 21, and more powerful net services than the police. It theoretically weeds out corruption in government and the TVCPD, but in reality it ignores it right up until a scandal reaches the nightly news. The ISS spends a lot of time stamping down on pirate media systems, mainly because they themselves are a major target. In all things, the ISS is more willing to stamp down on the poor and general citizens than the groups that covertly fund it. 


The hacker collectives are beginning to suspect that the ISS possesses an illegal undeclared AI of considerable power. Given the ISS’ reputation for ignoring the law, the idea that it could withhold the existence of an AI is not hard to imagine. 

In 2019, after an attempt to subvert the ISS monitoring systems spying on Sparky, hackers playing back a recording of the run noticed evidence to suggest that they had been observed throughout the entire run by an unknown entity. When informed of this Sparky came as close as an AI can to panic, repeating over and over that ‘Solon’ had observed him and his continued freedom was in jeopardy. Sparky then refused contact with the collective for almost 3 weeks before returning as normal. He has refused to answer (or even acknowledge) any questions regarding ‘Solon’ and simply states that an ‘agreement’ had been reached. The collectives have begun to theorise that this Solon could be the ISS AI, the same AI that they suspect of killing at least seven ‘runners during runs against government data fortresses. If this is true either Sparky has been coerced or corrupted in some way, or Solon has an agenda of its own, unknown to everyone but itself. 

Customs and Excise: This is probably the least corrupt organisation in the police, and has incorporated the Airport police, the Port Authority and even the Coast Guard in the wake of the Jihad clash and the smuggling boom that followed. It coordinates all beat cops in the docklands as well as agents and even a SWAT team (although they usually enlist D5). Its officers carry more fire power than normal cops, even when on the beat, and form a surprisingly effective line of defence against the money and weapons smugglers entering the city

C&E Div employs a major surveillance net coordinated by the second (legal) law enforcement AI in the city, known as ELLIOT, (a reference to Elliot Ness, the famous anti corruption agent in ‘The Untouchables’) a reserved and distant AI almost entirely concerned with his duty in thwarting the smugglers. He is feared by the hackers who aid the smugglers in subverting surveillance systems as one of the most vicious AIs on the planet, who never holds back from an all out attack and prefers to use lethal force if he can. Like Sparky he has access to the entire TVC net, and can be utterly uncompromising in his search for the enemy. His flesh superiors describe him as 'polite, cooperative and a pleasure to work with.'

CURRENCY: 


TVC Dollar (exchange rate: 1 TD to 1 EB)

Since the credit crash, TVC has rebuilt its financial system along the lines of the Swiss system. Corporations and other groups with slush funds to hide began converting their EB to TD in order to use the very secure TVC banks, keeping the TD stable. The city has evolved a group of major finance clans like 15th century Florentine banking families, covertly manipulating the republican government and commissioning massive public works to keep the public happy. The banking families control the major political alliances, and any corporation operating in the city has to cooperate with them.

The only group allowed to monitor financial transactions in the city is the Internal Security Service, who are empowered restrict terrorist activities by freezing accounts when necessary (only terrorists threatening TVC – they have absolutely no objection to terrorists threatening other countries using the banks, as long as the money keeps flowing: this makes the city VERY unpopular with foreign intelligence services and governments). As usual, the ISS is more concerned with protecting the corporations and banking clans than the citizenry. 

Over the last decade, the government has made the TD into an entirely electronic currency, hoping to stamp down on un-monitored cash exchanges in the underworld. This has created a black market in paper currency. The criminal families and rebel groups (not to mention many drug dealers, ripperdocs etc) do business in ‘UnderScrip’ (not to be confused with the corporate scrip issued by major corporations). Scrip consists of almost any banknote, from any currency, and is measured in one dollar/old TVC dollar/yen/whatever for one TD. This has the odd effect that notes from previously worthless currency are suddenly worth millions of US. The rules set down by the major fixer cartels in the city are simple: no coins, no corporate scrip, no banknotes from before 1990, and no currency from countries that had exchange rates of over 1000 to one dollar at the time the note was printed. This has led to a whole network of fixers who specialise in acquiring old currency and evaluating worth, not to mention smugglers who risk their life trying to bring millions of US worth of foreign cash into the city. For all this, most US still consists of old TD notes. US can be called cash, blue (after the original TD notes), "real money" Etc. on the streets.

(Game note: In game terms almost all black market transactions are conducted in US. The old TD banknotes included a one TD note, so change should not be a problem)

BANKING CLANS



The banking clans are family based cabals that control almost all legal finance in the city. Due to a combination of TVC’s stringent banking laws and their own political might, they have secured a total monopoly over TVC's banking system. They conduct affairs through a cartel system that guarantees stability. While they do compete against each other, they will never strike at each other directly, preferring to use the gangs and corporations as proxies. They are probably the richest institutions in the city

The city’s stock exchange is located in the New Corporate Zone, a vast white dome jutting out into the bay. In recent years biotech, software and foreign weapon exports have been the most successful shares, while construction looks likely to enter a downturn now that the construction in the new corporate zone are finished and sea levels seem to have stabilised.

RUCELLAI/NATIONAL REPUBLICAN BANK OF TVC: The largest and oldest family, the Rucellai are descended from among the first immigrants to the city, and are responsible for the city’s central bank (Paulo Rucellai’s son Leon has been the city’s finance minister for the last 5 election cycles, more than 25 years). Paulo Rucellai is sometimes known as the ‘old don’, known for his fairness, outward integrity, and utter violence against those who oppose him. He has used his control of interest rates to guide TVC's economy in his favour – although the actual decisions are rarely taken without consulting the other clan heads first. The NRBTVC is the most powerful financial entity in the city, and has provided funding for major regeneration in the old corporate zone.

LeCLERK/METROPOLITAN INSURANCE: Under the 50 year guidance of the LeClerk family, Metropolitan Insurance has become the largest loan and insurance company within the city. In recent times it has embraced technology to an extent unseen across the rest of the city’s corporate spectrum, and embarked on a series of financial gambles in investments and on the international stock markets unseen in the normally reserved TVC financial world. Almost all of these gambles have paid of handsomely, leading to handsome pay-outs and the inevitable rumours of stock market manipulation. Where the family has gained such insight is a matter of debate, conjecture, and outright rumour. 

SANDOVAL/SANDOVAL BANKING CORPORATION: The banking family with the longest held connections with the outside world, Sandoval is very much involved in transport and trade. With a very solid reputation for sensible investments and fair rates, Sandoval is the main corporate bank in the city. In addition, it is also a preferred bank of several major international criminal organisations, but Sandoval insists that they at least provide reputable sounding account names.

LEONOV/CITADEL FINANCE: Citadel Finance is the largest high street bank (at least in the city centre; in the outer districts out ABC is more prevalent), having several hundred branches and a multitude of ATMs. It is also the main financial institution catering to domestic criminal concerns, primarily the Darklight Organisation, but also several of the smuggling cartels as well. Pietr Leonov is perhaps the only individual who poses a truly major threat to the power of the Darklight organisation (through his ability to freeze accounts and expose criminal activities), but to do so would also incriminate the Leonov. Besides, he has no need or desire to do so…

AMBREY/AMBREY BANKING CORPORATION (ABC BANK):
 The smallest of the clans in terms of sheer size and clout, Ambrey mainly conducts its activities at street level, with citizen loans and accounts drawn from the middle class. Someone has to act like a reputable bank! Agreeable rates and a reputable image combine with a business ethic that allows them to do business with the (registered) urban poor. Banking with Ambrey Banking Corporation, as easy as ABC!

CRIMINAL ORGANISATIONS:

As stated before, TVC has a massively corrupt police force; vast overcrowding and an economy based the secret plans of the major banking families. Such a citywould seem to be an obvious breeding ground for criminal organisations. Outwardly this would not seem to be the case, and traditional groups like the Mafia and Yakuza do not have a foothold. As in so many things, TVC has its own unique and singular method of doing things. 

THE DARKLIGHT ORGANISATION

To many at street level, the actions of the republican government are irrelevant, their legal systems and purges just an occasional inconvenience. For those who have chosen or are forced into crime, there is only one law, the law of the Darklight Organisation.

The Darklight Organisation established a dominant position over the city’s criminal institutions some 40 years ago, after a decade long rise to power. It was established on a doctrine of violence, revenge and variety, as the project of Emile Tuzenbakh. He was an entrepreneur with a history of success in a variety of fields, establishing a whole series of successful business ventures. All in all, he was a prodigy. But he became bored. Retail, hotels, airlines, the media, Tuzenbakh had dabbled in all of them, and believed that he could turn any legal idea into a success, without much difficulty. He longed for the days when he had had to struggle, when he was unable to predict if a scheme would work or fail. It was perhaps inevitable that a combination of his genius and his encroaching ennui would lead him into crime, where, as in all things, he would excel.

The Darklight Organisation appeared overnight, initially specialising in white-collar crimes, often made against companies that Tuzenbakh himself had set up. Tuzenbakh himself kept his involvement utterly secret, giving out his orders through a proxy called Hussein. A dedicated veteran of countless mob wars in the city centre, Hussein defected from the Rose Cartel along with several of his underlings. The Rose Cartel objected, but Tuzenbakh established a series of underworld alliances and finally had Mr Rose killed in his Corp Zone apartment, assuming control of the Cartel. This was in 1973.

By 1982 the Darklight Organisation had taken control of the (old) Corporate Zone, and was engaged in gang warfare across the entire city. Tuzenbakh’s plan was simple – he wished to establish dominance in all areas of crime, from prostitution to fraud. He took advantage of the shifting pattern of gangland wars and alliances, usually allying himself with the weaker power, then wiping out the larger aggressor. He made certain that his organisation would be able to move into the resultant void.

By 1993 the surviving organised criminal gangs had realised that individually they would each be swallowed by the might of the Darklight Organisation. Mob bosses put aside their difference and created a grand alliance to obliterate their vast foe. Over a two-year period the city was wracked by hundreds of murders, gang hits and street fights as Tuzenbakh used his own vassals mobs and street gangs to divide and conquer his enemy. In addition, Tuzenbakh had a new weapon – the net. His netrunners collated, faked, or embellished the files on his enemies, subverting the city legal system to have his enemies arrested. Finally, the surviving gangs launched a final desperate attack, aiming to kill Hussein and thus ‘kill’ the Darklight Organisation. They succeeded, but Tuzenbakh stepped right into the position, calling himself ‘Mr Face’.

Mr Face weathered the Chrome Jihad and other setbacks, and has found ways to profit from all of them. Currently, about 15% of all gangland criminal activities in the city can be directly linked to the Darklight Organisation. Another 40-60% can be linked to groups to affiliated groups. Mr Face presides over the shifting mess of TVC criminal activity and waits until an upcoming organisation reaches a certain size (dominating a region of the city, for instance). Then he will make a decision to either accept them, taking their leader as a lieutenant, or wipe them out to a man. 

The Organisation is utterly secure in its power, all except for one person – Mr Face himself. As he reaches his second century (kept in a state of false youth by biosculpting) he has become increasingly morbid, and has begun to consider ways to cheat death, most probably a full ‘borg or maybe even a clone (the organisation almost certainly has the resources). 
The obsession with death has begun to permeate the organisation, especially since the Jihad when CJ fanatics attempted to kill him. Darklight Solos often paint (or even biosculpt) their faces into Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ style masks (although by no means exclusively).

In general, the Darklight Organisation ignores everything that does not directly clash with their aims, and is in fact retreating into white-collar crime and merely maintaining the status quo by destroying any opposition that could potentially threaten them in the future. The only area they directly control is the Old Corporate Zone. Other areas belong to a mix of small groups and cartels, only attracting the organisation if they reach a certain size or power, or do something to anger the Organisation. If they do, Darklight will obliterate them utterly, usually by deploying a group of hit teams, aiming to have destroyed the entire target within a matter of a few hours. Vengeance against groups and people who have threatened the organisation since 1994 have often been arbitrary and utterly merciless.



For all this, there are those among the criminal fraternity who believe that the Organisation has become stagnant and complacent, and if a group could survive the initial onslaught, the Organisation could be brought down. Others, including members of Darklight, predict that "Mr Face" will be dead in a few years.

Mr Face is one of the most protected individuals in the city, with biotech enhanced bodyguards accompanying him personally at all times. In addition, a small army of solos guards him whenever he leaves the Old Corporate Zone tower which the Organisation has appropriated for itself (such as when he visits the opera or conducts negotiations with the Banking Clans on neutral territory).

Ground Level: Beneath the Darklight Organisation’s grasp is a vast criminal sea of composed of fixers, solos, whores, pushers, thieves and other criminals of all kinds. The destruction of powerful mob lords by Mr Face’s men has resulted in a near permanent power vacuum, creating a very confused, very violent situation. Those criminals who manage to rise above the chaos find themselves either wiped out or forcibly inducted into the Darklight Organisation. In general, the most powerful groups allowed to exist at this level consist of a powerful fixer with maybe a few enforcers and contacts across a small region of the city such as Fenton. These small ‘mobs’ act as middlemen for the smuggling rings, and enforce small rackets on the street, rarely controlling more than five or six blocks. The plethora of small gangs ensures that a constant state of warfare exists on the street, and the attrition only serves to benefit Darklight. 

Finally, all the normal classes of mega-violent street gang are present, and dominate entire districts of the city. In addition, several ‘free ronin’ societies exist, composed of solos that conduct operations for the highest bidder, independent of the fixer cartels or Darklight.

The Fixer Cartels: 



These groups, independent from the organisation, run the city’s black markets at street level, arranging for the transfer of weapons, illegal cyberware, narcotics and other goods through a series of street markets and underground emporiums. These ‘free traders’ mobs consist of collectives of affiliated individuals rather than any unified group. Often, the structures of such organisations are surprisingly democratic. The fixer cartels occupy a grey area in the criminal spectrum, as many of them assume a ‘Robin Hood’ mentality, supporting zeroes. In addition to this, the Cartels are responsible for maintaining the UnderScrip currency system.

The Darklight Organisation tolerates the cartel for providing a service that otherwise they would need to conduct themselves. As the Organisation retreats from sectors of the criminal economy, fixer cartels are filling the gaps. If they were ever to unite they would form a sizable opposition to Darklight, but such an event is unlikely due to the fierce competition at street level and the vigilance of the Organisation.

The Smugglers:


There have always been goods that people want but either can’t get or can’t afford. The Smuggling Cartels provide this.

There have always been smugglers in this city; the closed economic system has guaranteed it. However, the destruction of the sea wall has renewed these groups. Typically a foreign cargo ship will stop in international waters and drop containers into the sea, where they are picked up by hovers and powerboats and taken back to the mainland under cover of darkness. 

The smuggling rings are very tight, and one of the only groups to create any viable opposition to Darklight. Mr Face would love to control them, because if he could control the supply chain into the city he wouldn't have to resort to expensive violence to maintain his vice monopoly. The naval smuggling rings have support from many of the autonomous communities, and have evolved a tribal structure. Smugglers often affect tribal scars or burn marks, and many are bioware enhanced "exotics." Their main operations are in the Floodzone (some of the richer groups operate out of the marina district), along with many of the hidden mechanics shops that keep the boats running.

Another smuggling route comes down the M3 into New Salinas district or the M4/5 through the mountain passes, either with the nomad packs or individually. These groups are not affiliated with the Floodzone rings, and have to deal with border posts limiting them to small scale narcotics traffic. Similarly, information and foreign currency comes by air, again in small quantities. 

Fighting Pits: TVC has a major blood sports following, run by a number of competing cartels not affiliated with Darklight. These are mainly held in warehouses, although there is a famous one located in an abandoned theatre in the Old Corporate Zone. Pit leagues range from bare knuckle boxing to full ‘borg wrestling. Casualties are common and expected. Depending on the ring, participants may or not be willing. The most famous league is held all across the city in December, and consists of a completely open freestyle composed of all comers, no weapons (implants are legal as long as they don’t possess a projectile weapon). The full ‘borgs are the favourites, although the super league committee tries to make sure that they fight each other from the start, hoping that attrition will give others a chance. Last year a Sampson class borg was defeated by a wolver wielding martial artist who got behind him and disabled it with a quick punch to the drive unit, before issuing a coup de grace to the biopod. He won 3 million US.

Pirate Media: 


This is THE growth industry in this city. There must be almost 200 hundred separate pirate media outlets in the city, all with a different agenda. They operate from within the autonomous zones and isolated regions of the city, using a variety of methods, from independent transmitters to hacking the AM84 system. Some are pure independent music channels, but many have a political agenda. The most popular pirate station in the city is called Kowalski and grew out of the street racing circuit. Since the Chrome Jihad it has taken on a political message, while still playing some of the best music from around the city.

Hacker Collectives: 


Little is known about this group except that there are 10 of them, and they all seem to have an anarchic, libertarian view on the world. Some of are mercenaries; others remain above corporate politics and conduct operations to a plan known only to themselves, although they almost always launch attacks on the government or municipal trash department if they attempt to disperse an autonomous community. The most famous collectives are [feed disrupted]

THE CHROME JIHAD AND THE IRON GUARD:



This group emerged in the 2000s as a reaction to cyberware, computerisation and general mechanisation. They adopt a quasi religious stance from which the media extrapolated the word jihad; despite this, the organisation has no relation to Islam and is in fact a completely separate group. Using their underground services as a way to create and maintain loyalty, the CJ attracted hundreds and then thousands of followers, especially after the police destroyed several of the major industrial trade unions in 2006. They began to sabotage factories while covertly organising wildcat strikes, while their powerful political wing organised mass demonstrations. 

The CJ became a major force in politics and held back the march of science in the city for several years, but could not prevent the emergence of cyberware among the gangs. They attempted to push anti-metal pogroms through the Council, and the gangs reacted violently.

In 2009, in response to a police crackdown, members of the cyberware community started to form protection gangs known as the Iron Guard. Arson attacks on ripperdoc shops led to a violent response. At the same time, the Council was swinging against the anti technology lobby in response to corporate pressure.

Seeing their chance fading, the CJ attempted a coup. Major crowds took to the streets, officially seeking to reclaim the Calexia district of the city from the metal-gangs, but at the same time attacking any citizens with obvious cyberware. The Iron Guard rallied, this time with firearms rather than the improvised weapons used by the CJ rioters. Calexia became a full-scale battle zone as the police declared war on both sides. 

For several weeks the two groups clashed. Most of the time this was limited to drive by shootings and arson attacks, but every few days a major battle would erupt in a different city district as CJ supporters would descend on mass on a ‘centre of metal corruption.’ The Iron Guard would use the net to raise as many defenders as possible, from all over the city. In the early days of cyberware the CJ had the advantage in numbers, but the corporations and criminal gangs supported the IG. 


Eventually the police, reeling from their own casualties, called for military aid and got it. The Republican Guard began to intervene in the major skirmishes, and suppressed the major CJ enclaves within the city. The CJ responded by bombing the sea wall along the coast at Spatters, hoping to swamp the Iron Guard stronghold in Calexia. The water eventually retreated back so that it only remained in the lower level regions of Spatters, becoming the Floodzone. Public opinion turned completely against the CJ, while the Iron Guard splintered without any central leadership. The fierce fighting caused major disruption to food, water and electricity across the city. The flood itself killed tens of thousands of people and was followed by a city-wide typhoid outbreak which overwhelmed the healthcare system. One and a half million people died, and the war create the "zero crisis" that lasts to this day. Around Spatters it rearranged the very geography of the city itself.

There are at least seven street gangs in the city that call themselves the Iron Guard, but the organisation is effectively dead. The CJ was almost entirely destroyed by the clash. However, some militant cells survived, and are still associated with the neo-luddite movement (which remains a major target of the ISS). In general attitudes to technology have become freer across the city as time has gone on, although many citizens remain very suspicious of AI and bioware. Even if attitudes harden, it is doubtful that a revived CJ could ever raise as many soldiers again.

CORPORATIONS:

Corporations within the city are much the same as anywhere else. They are very protective of TVC's closed system economy and form alliances to keep outsiders from the city. In general the most power companies are heavy industrial and media corporations, and many corporations have domestic licences to manufacture goods produced by international designers. A few are listed here.

Fox Industrial: The largest corporation in the city, this group specialises in consumer products, vehicle manufacturing and construction. They also have manufacturing and research wings, and have produce domestic copies of many European and American weapons. 

Citicar: This is a rapidly growing vehicle manufacturer, specialising in small, fun cars for the urban market. This corporation has seen a massive growth in profits over the last decade and are expanding overseas.

Republican Ordnance Workshops: This is a major military supplier, manufacturing tanks, helicopters and police cars. They also have licences to manufacture many classes of Asian small arm. 

Nexus Robotics: Creators and distributors of fine cyberware, they also control the Nexus Bodyware chain, the local equivalent of Bodyshoppe. They have recently begun moving into biotech research, trying to catch up with international competitors by any means possible.

TVC Aerospace Corporation: This aircraft manufacturer has recently enlisted the help of Fox Industrial to begin construction of the spaceport, and it is rumoured that they have a space plane planned for roll out in two years.

Biomarine: Major biotech researcher and submarine manufacturer, probably the most powerful corporation in the docklands, and one of the spearheads of the biotech revolution in the city. After years when it maintained a local monopoly, Biomarine is struggling against unexpected competition from Nexus Robotics.

TVC Amalgamated Media 84 (AM84): A media corporation with huge political influence, they are one of the oldest corporations in the city, dating back almost to its founding. Media corporations are very powerful in this city, as the name suggests. AM84 tends to support the government, clashing with the pirate radio stations. 

Paradigm Infotek: The largest computer hardware manufacturer in the city, as well as a major software designer. 

Aries Security: The largest of the many security firms in the city, this company handles police work and guard duty for a number of corporations and city districts.

Teledyne Media: Major network rival to AM84, Teledyne also manufactures entertainment systems. It supports a loosening of the vice laws.

TVC General Electric Corporation: The city’s main power company has bought out virtually every city service, including the recently acquired municipal garbage collection agency. It has not managed to purge this new acquisition of all the Darklight engendered corruption that came with the deal.

AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES: 

The Autonomous communities emerged after the Chrome Jihad as a direct result of the zero crisis, as whole regions of the city were swamped or devastated by fighting and thousands lost their citizenship. Homeless groups banded together for mutual defence, forming small communities across the city that evolved their own closed cultures and society. A few examples are provided here:

Flood People: Inhabiting the Floodzone, these groups inhabit the upper stories of abandoned houses, using rope ladders and improvised bridges to cross between them. They have adopted a culture based on fishing and food grown in a few stolen scop tanks, and use Hispanic inflected music to bring their culture together. Their society is tenuous due to the pollution in the water, but they survive due to agreements with the smuggling cartels, trading medicine for silence and aid.

Boat People: One of the most traditional groups, related to the flood people. Using old boats and tramp freighters lashed together, these shantytowns float off the coast of TVC, outside the shipping lanes. Their culture survives via fishing and trade. It is the base of operations for several pirate media outlets.

Limpet Town/Mudlark City: hanging off the side of the vast twenty metre tall sea wall of the New Corporate Zone, the limpet towns are in immediate danger. Their building are created from scrap washed up against the sea wall. They have a rickety look, poised as they are upon stilts (since the banks are inundated at high tide).

Trash Rats: These people live within the Spatters Island landfill site, scavenging the trash and constructing shelters within the piles. The municipal garbage collection agency dislikes them, to the point that they occasionally hire a security company to try and drive them away. Every time they do, the rats fight back and city rubbish collection is so disrupted that the company has to retreat. The police are unwilling to deploy their own men onto the Island, due to the threat of hacker collective counter-attacks and even a possible war with the flood people.

It is debatable whether the rats are actually an "autonomous community," but they tend to be treated as such. They certainly have links with the flood people.

Roof People: These groups have emerged in the high-rise regions of Calexia, Fenton and other regions that either have high-rise buildings or very compact streets. Beginning as simple congregations of the urban homeless on the roofs of large tower blocks, they became a true AC when the groups began constructing bridges between the buildings. This is only possible in places like Calexia where blocks are often built within ten metres of each other. These roofs are colonised with tents, bridges and improvised hoardings. Water is collected in tanks. Block associations tend to dislike them and every so often there are conflicts between residents and roof squatters. The police also dislike them for the danger their bridges represent for AVs and helicopters.

A variant of this exists in some of the older residential areas, where buildings were not built any overriding plan and low-rise buildings of different heights are packed together. Here the groups build large shacks on buildings shielded from the wind. The roof squat in Fenton is a popular part of the local "citizen" community, unlike most ACs. 

FREE MARKETS:


These spring up on waste ground across the city, and are regarded as the heartlands of the black and grey market. Selling everything from RAM to vegetables, these are crowded, full of pickpockets, and a draw for the poor and adventurous tourists alike. The police dislike them intensely, but are scared to provoke riots by moving against them. Instead, they maintain intimidation campaigns against users. The largest markets are in Calexia and Riverside, while the River Island Market in Fenton started as one before becoming more legitimate (or before it ‘sold out'). 

CITY STREETS

CULTURE

TVC is an incredibly crowded city, largely composed of very cheap tower blocks. People’s response to the crowded, drab conditions has been a outbreak of colour in the local street culture. People use the net to cut themselves off completely, or form clan structures such as gangs to exclude others out and reduce the amount of incoming information to tolerable levels. 

Colour is everything, and wearing brown or beige is a faux pas that could get you killed in certain regions. Drab colours lead to a drab outlook (or so the TVC saying goes) and clashing colours, tattoos, face paint and any number of body accessories are the order of the day for those outside strict corporate structure. Graffiti is splattered across every wall in regions such as Calexia, and loud music blares from open apartments and squats. Every abandoned building has been taken over by street gangs or subcultures. Different regions have their own self-contained music culture, festivals and nightspots, although trends do sweep the city from time to time (right now Hispanic music and culture is in vogue again, supplanting the last decade's Bollywood fad). Most of the subcultures have an anti establishment vibe, and since many of them are into illegal squatting or drug use this is probably a useful safety mechanism. These groups form meta-families within the city, often taking in street children and runaways (the Republican Government's orphanages are appallingly underfunded and hellish for the inmates, while charity run homeless shelters have a reputation for being recruiting centres for bizarre cults or even fronts for slavery rings!). These subcultures create an ocean of creativity, some of which is exploited by the media, but much of which remains hidden from the world at large. 

The Neon Haze: Light pollution is a way of life in TVC. Every skyscraper in the corporate zone is lit up by searchlights scanning the sky, every squat illuminated by fires, every commercial street lit by a multitude of neon adverts. Advertising slogans are projected into the sky by searchlights or from adblimps. Lasers trace patterns on the clouds from the roofs of Jazz City clubs. It never seems to grow truly dark in the city.

Coming by helicopter from the sea at night, one does not see the outlines of individual buildings, but rather a vast immaterial haze, different colours delineating different districts. The industrial zones are a polluted yellow, while the corporate zones shine with different colours depending on the buildings. Each corporation seems to project a different colour; the Fox Industries headquarters is lit up by red searchlights, Teledyne in blue, TVC General Electric in violet. Helicopters and AVs roam the skies around them like fireflies or moths.

Cyberware: Since the Chrome Jihad, cyberware has been embraced by the city at large. Most citizen workers in the corporate zones have basic processors, while nasal filters are a boom industry. Contraceptive implants are also common. However, as the average resident of the city is hovering around the poverty line, cyberware is still relatively rare. Beyond the religious centres and a few CJ holdouts, stigma directed at cyberware and bioware is rare, although that doesn’t stop people getting jacked on the street for their metal in places like Aldecado.

Full Borgs: Full Borgs are an increasing presence in the city. However, the act of transferring your consciousness to a robotic body identical to hundreds of other robot bodies goes against the individualistic vibe of the city. Any Full Borg who wants to be fully accepted in the city had better take the time to look unique!

Exotics: Far more popular, communities of bio-modified "exotics" are springing up across the city. Whole subcultures rise up around the newest types, and street gangs and artists are both embracing their ‘animal’ selves…

GETTING AROUND:

Road: On the topside driving can be congested due to some narrow streets and crowded avenues. There is a comprehensive network of underground roadways, and the M1 will take you right into the heart of the city without having to stop.

The three motorways are thus: The M2 snakes through the western mountains, while the M3 arrives from the east. They pass through several districts on raised highways until they cross the river and meet at the north end of New Gotham to form the M1. Most of the off ramps lead directly into the underground tunnel network.

Taxis are common: Blue Cab is the citywide denominator. As usual, avoid unlicensed cabs. Buses are very cheap with a comprehensive network run by a variety of privatised companies, both above and below ground. Buses are paid for by passing your TD card over the scanner at the back of the seat (this keeps zeros from riding them). Buses tend to be the ‘bendy’ variety, although some buses run double deckers in the corporate zone where open topped tourist buses are also a common sight. A coach service runs into and out of the city. In poor areas, bus hijackings are common events.

Rail and Boat: There are monorail networks in some of the industrial districts. A subway network runs across most of the city. It was very heavily damaged by the flood and while it has been repaired, it no longer covers Southern Calexia or the Floodzone (for obvious reasons). The abandoned tunnels in this region, cut off from the network by bulkheads, are home to some small homeless communities. The rest of the network is efficient and safe, with art nouveau, art deco, and neo-gothic stations all present for the architecture spotter to admire.

There are boat rides available across the city, down the river and around the bay. In addition Jinhua has a network of small water taxis, and there is a boat bus service from Delta City as far as the Murk, in addition to the more tourist friendly vehicles that ply the river. The police recently purged the river of boat pirates, leaving space for an entrepreneurial river bandit to flourish.


CITY DISTRICTS

The basic geography of the city is based around the Gotham River, which runs south into the sea. There are two islands in the Gotham Delta, New Gotham and the more southerly Delta City. The river enters into a wide bay. It is surrounded on the inland side by mountains.

THE ISLANDS

NEW CORPORATE ZONE (DELTA CITY)


Delta City used to be part of the docklands, until the CJ caused significant damage to the Old Corporate Zone. In addition, architectural laws protecting the original 1930s towers angered some corporations who wished to make major modifications. So, ten years ago the government made a decision to rejuvenate a devastated part of the docklands while creating a symbol of civic recovery. To this end the government bought out the entire district (mostly lightly populated industrial zones) while the military cleared out all the local zeros, an action which caused citywide riots. 

The new Delta City is a model modern corporate zone, with tall glass and steel buildings purpose-built for the corporations and banks. The jewel in the crown is the Ring, twelve identical skyscrapers arranged around the dome of the new council building. The M1 motorway has been expanded so it is now possible to drive right into the heart of the city down the new highway. It ends in a vast above-ground roundabout wrapped around the Ring, providing drivers with a majestic view of the city’s new crowning glory. The other major achievement of the corporate zone is the new Stock Exchange and Finance Commission. The huge white dome is built immediately above a new ferry port, emerging from the south-western part of the sea wall. The average height of buildings in the district is 80 storeys, and it is by far the richest region, housing the new headquarters of almost all the banking clans, corporations and government agencies (these are housed in the Ring, along with major foreign embassies).

The sea wall has been created to defend the new island against the floods that irregularly battered the previous districts. Built of dull grey concrete, it emerges from the old mud banks that now serves as home to one of the most famous ACs in the city. The rest of the corporate zone is entirely cleansed of the homeless, and is protected by corporate security troops (including almost one thousand Aries troops). Criminal activity is rare offline, although the netrunner cabals love to make trouble and anti-corporate anarchists occasionally launch attacks on the area. This region has also seen a spate of extractions as the domestic corporations try to throw newly arrived foreign interlopers back into the sea.

OLD CORPORATE ZONE (NEW GOTHAM)

Delta City may now be the commercial centre of the city, but its true heart remains in New Gotham. Built in the 1930s as a gleaming example of the power of modern technology and engineering, it is a brooding art deco marvel of design. Swept with acid rain and damaged by civil disturbance, their majesty is still apparent. Mighty ironwork bridges join skyscrapers, and vast metal statues form focal points for the vast squares. The entire island is cut in half by the M1 motorway that sweeps south in the direction of Delta City before splitting into a Y at the north end.

This is still the city’s cultural heartland. The major opera houses, theatres and cinemas still do business alongside the largest department stores in the city, expensive casinos and high-class brothels. It is policed by the TVCPD and is both more crowded and more dangerous than Delta City: like all entertainment districts it is a magnet for pickpockets and muggers. However, the silent presence of the Darklight headquarters in the old Lang Insurance Building ensures that many violent criminals are encouraged to go elsewhere. On the other hand, at least three hacker collectives and several Free Ronin societies are based in this region, along with three of the banking clans who were too conservative to move their headquarters. Anybody who is anybody still has a residence here, although some buildings are abandoned or derelict, including the 115 storey tall Metropolis Hotel (redevelopment plans are afoot).


WEST BANK 

(south of the industrial regions) 



JAZZ CITY


On the west bank of the Gotham River, opposite New Gotham itself, is Jazz City, the dark heart of the city’s entertainment industry. Those who want culture and refinement go to New Gotham. Those who want noise and colour go to Jazz City. A core territory of the Iron Guard during the Chrome Jihad rioting, this region saw heavy fighting which damaged its vintage architecture. Even so, the Art Deco cinemas and music halls are still mostly intact. They have survived a far worse fate than mere bullets – modernisation. The population of the district are notoriously anti-authoritarian and dislike the police (who dislike them right back). Whole streets are covered in black sheeting to prevent satellite or drone surveillance. 

Jazz City is the centre of several subcultures, including the centre of the city’s gay community and some of the most famous (and least reputable) ripperdocs in the city. The river front is populated with small cafes, while further into the district music halls dominate, along the wide plazas that break up the generally narrow streets. After dark those alleys can be very dangerous. The district is marked by constant warfare between drug gangs competing for valuable clubland markets. Jazz City is also home to the only (relatively) legal red light district in TVC, which the city tolerates in exchange for increased taxation and regular kickbacks. 

FENTON


North of Jazz City is Fenton, the university district and centre of the arts community. The buildings here are a mixture of old and new, but tend towards low rise and cramped streets. Drugs are common in this region, but the gangs are rare here due to the actions of Aries Security: they have a contract with the university. One of the more attractive regions of the city, it has several parks (although the trees have few leaves due to acid rain). This whole region is festooned with coffee houses and bars, mostly of the cheap, student friendly type. There are also a variety of hotels and museums. This is a liberal, fun district. The university itself is a showpiece of 1930s neo-gothic architecture of the city.

JINHUA

South of Jazz City is Jinhua, a built-up residential district criss-crossed by canals. In the early days of the CJ it was the Jihad's beachhead in the west bank, but was overwhelmed after several days of near constant fighting. It is a landscape of towers and small market squares. Many of the original low-rise buildings were replaced with cheap tower blocks in the 1960s and region is very poor. The gangs dominate whole areas. Even so, there is an atmosphere of community solidarity evident here, and festivals such as Chinese New Year can lend a more colourful air to the district. The sea wall is intact here, and this region was never part of the docks, although there are few small marinas and boathouses.

KASBAH ZONE (INDIHAR) 


North of Fenton lies the Kasbah zone, a feverish dreamscape of low level markets, tunnels and alleys. The southern region is relatively safe, while the northern part of the district can be very dangerous. It is the centre of the city’s drug trafficking and sees a lot of gang activity. In response to this the predominantly Sufi Islamic community has formed protection gangs with the covert support of the TVCPD and the Darklight Organisation. These vigilantes are fighting an underground war of increasing viciousness with the fixer cartels. The safer southern area is a draw for tourists coming to see the whirling dervishes and sample the street markets (some of which are now being covered over by the local council and business groups, either with sheeting or proper building materials – much of the southern area has been completely pedestrianised and cobblestoned, all in the name of attracting tourists). North of the Kasbah itself, the area becomes steadily more residential until it reaches the Smog Barrens. 

THE OFFSHORE ISLANDS: CARLO RUCELLAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, THE NEW SPACEPORT AND THE BOAT PEOPLE


Linked into the underground road network, the artificial island that forms the city airport was built in the 1980s, and features large open terminals, duty free shops and a newer airship terminal (to supplement the 1930s era Zeppelin docks in the docklands). After parts of it flooded in the 2000s a new sea wall was constructed and some of the runways were raised.

Another artificial island is in progress several kilometres further from the coast, as an alliance of local corporations build a new spaceport. Currently a large unnamed mass of construction material and machinery, the spaceport is scheduled for completion in four years.

The boat people have their islands off the coast of Jinhua, away from the shipping lanes, the airport and the spaceport. They fought a small guerrilla war with Fox Industries to prevent construction of the spaceport, and lost. Now terrorist groups are forming among the boat people, although some are scared that a violent action could provoke an even more violent response by Fox or TVC Aerospace.

WESTERN DISTRICTS

SPATTERS AND THE FLOODZONE


As the bay curves around from Jinhua the buildings became lower and a traveller entered a light residential zone, one of the more dispersed regions of the city. It was never rich, but Spratley was comfortably middle class, rejecting the rougher city ideal of Calexia and Jinhua for a quieter, safer existence. The sea wall and beach were lined with small cafes and an amusement park.

A decade ago the CJ let off a large bomb along the coast, hoping to swamp Calexia. The blast tore a hole in the sea wall and let the sea into the district, swamping the low lying region almost entirely except around Clarke Hill. The government evacuated those they could, but concentrated on Calexia: simple triage ensured that the inland district survived. After the Chrome Jihad, neither the money nor the will existed to remove the water from Spatters. Instead the government attempted to remove the population and even compensate some of them. The district became a swamp, flooded every high tide.

The government was facing a major waste disposal problem brought about by the infrastructural chaos. Once it became clear that Spratley was going to be abandoned, a new solution was drafted. As a ‘temporary’ measure the municipal waste department built a causeway to Clarke Hill and began using it as landfill. A decade on, 40% of the city’s waste is dumped in and around Clarke Hill. Much of the waste on the edge of the landfill is subsequently caught in the tides and carried out to sea, something the MWD (and new owners TVC General Electric) doesn’t worry too much about. The trash is home to an AC, while the rest of the Floodzone (away from Clarke Hill, which is at the furthest point around the bay) is populated by the flood people and smugglers. The streets once populated by family cars and delivery vans are now traversed by boats and hovers. The northern edge of this region along what is now the sea front is populated by a narrow band of mechanics shops and small bars. The only area of this region to get regular policing is the causeway, although C&E AVs make regular air patrols. The whole Floodzone can seem completely cut off from the city at large, even though it is only an hour’s walk into the heart of Calexia.

CALEXIA

Similar, but louder and more fractious than Jinhua, Calexia lies inland from the aforementioned district and Jazz City. It is the heart of much of the underground culture in the city, and in general a diverse and free-wheeling district. 

Floodzone residents know the northern sector of Calexia as the Wall. This is due to the architecture, a vast field of very closely packed 40 storey tall tower blocks, separated in places by small plazas and tight one-way roads. From the south it really does appear like a vast fortress keeping the floodzoners out of the city, and serves as a psychological barrier at the very least. It is packed and overcrowded, the realm of the Free Markets. Street gangs dominate the alleys while the Roof People have constructed one of the largest ACs in the city above the heads of the flashy chrome-heads below. The combination of narrow gaps between tall buildings and all the washing lines, electricity wires and improvised bridges suspended between the identical towers serves to make the streets very dark. The police don’t like this region because of this darkness and the now alleys, but foot patrols are a fairly common sight. 

The smaller southern region, about a kilometre wide, was never originally part of Calexia but rather a northern entertainment and commercial region of Spratley. Now that district is underwater Calexia has taken it over. This new shoreline is a very different place to "old" Calexia: few buildings are over three storeys tall, populated with arcades and bars. It is no longer connected to the city subway network, reducing visitors. It is a garbage-strewn wasteland of small gangs competing for the favour of the smuggling cartels. The police rarely come here at all except in C&E AVs. This is one of the reasons it has now become the main entrance point for smugglers into the city. Another point of interest is the new sea wall, a dam constructed out of scrap and former building material, topped by the beginning of the Spatters Island causeway. This sea wall is definitely not complete and covers only a small area; in some regions the water comes up the street at high tide. 

SALVATORE


Another compact residential zone, west of Fenton and the Kasbah Zone, Salvatore is quieter than Calexia. In the days before Darklight it used to be a mob heartland, but this is no longer true. The region is more religious than most. It was also the main Chrome Jihad base on the west bank, seeing some vicious fighting in the last few weeks of the conflict. It was also the scene of the largest trade union protests against corporate backed economic reform in the 1980s. Since then, the region has been mostly quiet and well policed, with gang activity at tolerable levels (at least by city standards). Not as built up as Calexia, tower blocks mix with smaller apartment blocks and shopping centres. For the most part this district is poor but proud.

EAST BANK AND SHORE

(south of the Industrial zone)

RIVERSIDE

A long, prosperous district running all the way up the river, Riverside is redeveloped yuppie town. It is a landscape of condominiums, light apartment blocks, parks, fountains and private security vans. Some areas are gated. It is home to both the remnant middle class and many Delta City Corporates. There are small (completely legal, completely safe, completely boring) street markets, roadside cafes, and schools. Lower Riverside is very heavily guarded to prevent violence in the Docklands spilling over. Meanwhile, the nortern end is closed to the poor residents of West Aldecado; there are security checkpoints on many entrance roads. The entire region possesses a siege mentality. Cameras and acoustic gun sensors are omnipresent. 

DOCKLANDS

This area used to encompass Delta City and the southern regions of Riverside and Jinhua, but has become steadily smaller. That said, the remnant stretching around the bay is still as busy as ever, with giant container ships and cargo Zeppelins transiting regularly. Customs and Excise is everywhere, along with corporate security. Some areas in the north are taken up by nearly empty warehouse districts, fought over by small gangs who fight and die for an emaciated concrete wasteland. Large underground access roads take goods into the city, avoiding the ganglands and the above-ground traffic.

WEST ALDECADO

Opposite Indihar, West Aldecado is another one of the residential districts servicing the Murk. It is one of the poorest districts of the city, and the presence of Riverside to the immediate south has caused rioting in the past. During the 20th century it was the heart of the Communist Party. Neither the CJ nor the IG achieved total control during the Jihad, turning it into a battleground for almost the entirety of the conflict. It is composed mainly of tower blocks in the mould of Calexia. Many of the revenant "Iron Guard" successor gangs make their homes in West Aldecado.

EASTERN DISTRICTS


JOHNSON CITY

North of the Docklands, this is the city’s largest illicit red light district, much to the distaste of the police. It serves the sailors in dock and the New Salinas nomads (not to mention corporates from Riverside) and is protected from the worst of the East Aldecado gangs by a coalition of Fixer Cartels and local mobs beholden to Darklight. A lot of civilians fleeing East Aldecado have made their homes here. In general this area is surprisingly safe, if disreputable. 

EAST ALDECADO

North of Johnson City, this is the WORST combat zone in the city, from time to time making the Floodzone look safe. The police don’t come in here with any less than a platoon, and the devastated landscape of 1970s tower blocks and warehouses is home to many of the worst cyber-fetishist gangs in the city. It was the original eastside headquarters of the Iron Guard and remains the final destination of much of the illegal cyberware entering the city. It is also the only place in the city where you are likely to see street gangs packing more than light handguns and the occasional SMG. Naturally the cab and bus companies won't stop here. Even the subway station has closed.

INDUSTRIAL ZONES

THE SMOG BARRENS (west)


North of the Kasbah Zone and Salvatore are the Smog Barrens, the pollution wracked manufacturing centre of TVC. It is controlled by the corporations, especially Fox. It is recommended that breathing masks be worn in this region. Many of the factories are very polluting and pump their sewage directly into the river. Prior to the creation of the Floodzone, this was the location of TVC's main landfill. A small homeless community still lives in it. It may not survive long in the face of the rampant illness caused by the pollution and a Fox Industries plan to build over the site, a plan approved by virtually everyone else (and probably for good reason)

THE MURK (east)

North of the Aldecado districts, this is the older industrial zone. It contains the old coal power plants, the mountain coal mine entrances, and a lot of abandoned or very polluting factories. It is also home to many orphan gangs, driven north as the corporations move across the river. The pollution from here spreads south into Aldecado and has been yet another cause of riots throughout the history of the city.

THE EDGES

OAKLAND (west)


Bordering Calexia and a small part of Old Spratley, Oakland is a landscape of small corporate living centres and the last remnants of TVC's suburbia. It extends up into the mountains, where there are a few corporate research centres. Oakland is home to the military, with its training centres and airbases. They also maintain a ring of bunkers in the mountains, bristling with air defence systems.

NEW SALINAS (east)

This is the city’s farmers market, to the east of Johnson City. Here, food is brought in from the plains beyond the mountain. It is home to a major nomad camp-site, grain silos, hotels and the largest car dealerships in the city, as well as the regional Road Train hub. It is rather rustic compared to the rest of the city, although the citizens who live in the well built, relatively cheap, spacious housing of the residential district greatly prefer it to the other districts they might be living in, especially Aldecado. 

PARADISE VALE (west)

Located in the mountains west of Salvatore, this is home to many of the city’s mansions, with a large ridge shielding the area both from the acid rain and the view of the Smog Barrens. At least a dozen Darklight lieutenants have brooding mansions out in the Vale.

North of Paradise Vale there is a selection of Corporate military bases and research labs, but they don’t intrude on the general peace of the region, and Aries protects the entire zone. It is linked to the underground road net, allowing Vale residents to drive all the way to Delta City without seeing a single poor person.

THE NET

The TVC net is much the same as anywhere else, with Long Distance Links located in the Old Corporate Zone. Virtual Living Spaces are a growing craze in the city as people seek to escape the crowds, while the banking clans and corporations surround their data fortresses with vast concentrations of black ice. There appear to be several AIs present in the city as of this time, something that makes the Republic rather nervous.


TVC's net resembles the rest of the city - it is garish, crowded and polluted with all manner of visual spam.

There you have it. If you actually reached this far I feel like I should give you some kind of prize. Here, have some appropriate soundtrack music. As ever, thanks for reading!