• Category Archives Setting
  • Off The Beaten Path 1: The Ala Wai Housing Tract

    Built along the Ala Wai Cannel, Waikīkī, this stretch of ten by two blocks sits between water reclamation sub-centers. Once a beautiful stretch of land as the infrastructure of Oahu became increasingly demanding the state EPA required the construction of a water treatment facility to clear the waterway before meeting the ocean. The Ala Wai housing tract grew in almost the same way.

     

    To support the growing number of tourists’ migrant workers were incentivized to move to the island in late 2061, before the Great War had begun to affect the United States. Originally designed to appear as a resort, the housing tract masked the water treatment centers and aeration tunnels. By 2085, Hawaii had become a haven for Japanese survivors and staging ground for US troops deployed to the Okinawa Prefecture. With the collapse of the tourist industry, the Ala Wai tract became a government-subsidized project for refugees and displaced citizens.

    Today Ala Wai remains a blight on Oahu. Inside the tract, buildings range from three to nineteen stories. Cannel facing ground floors hosting aeration generators and safety equipment to prevent the toxic waters from washing ashore. With near triple the population density of the rest of the city and crime rate skewing the numbers for all of Honolulu living in the Ala Wai is a virtual death sentence on job applications. Most survive working under the table for Water Treatment, or prostitution.

     

    Below the Waters, the legend of Moke Hyōsube

     

    People disappear in Ala Wai; sometimes they turn up, the body washing up at the far treatment substation. Kidnappers, fun-boys, or other mundane atrocity festering in the housing tract turns out to be responsible. There are times though when the sludge is smeared with blood, wild on the narrow access tunnels, this is when the name Moke Hyōsube is whispered through the ghetto.

     

    Described as a hairy lizard larger than a man, Moke Hyōsube is the polluted brother of the Green Lady. He is kinder, though far fouler, than his sister. Where she snatches children from Wahiawa’s gardens, he takes only those with black hearts from Ala Wai.

     

    The oldest residents of Ala Wai say they can hear the difference in the screams when Moke Hyōsube comes for his victims. No one admits to having seen Moke Hyōsube personally but everyone in Ala Wai knows his appearance, his stench, and rage. For those who cannot protect themselves Moke Hyōsube is a guardian spirit, or so they like to believe. Younger members of the community write the monster off as some imported legend. Still the bodies go missing, with only a trail of blood and sludge leading back to the cannel.



  • Land of Confusion 6: Audiopunks

    Pinpointing the inception point of new fashion can be tricky. Sure, there is Milan but high fashion and street trends are two different beasts. Starting in late 2191 there was a rising trend of implanted micro-speakers in clothing. These musical suitors ranged from tame background music and personal soundtracks for PR and celebrity types to blaring distortion effects used by musicians in concerts or impromptu performances. Like most fashion trends, it soon consumed itself and by the mid 90s was a nearly forgotten fashion mistake.

    In the last three years speck dotting as it later came to be known saw a major resurgence in what would come to be known as the Audiopunks. The first documented Audiopunks were at a right wing political rally in Portland, Oregon, ASA. Weaving into the crowds and speck speakers into over the top hair styles these progenitor punks would trigger distorted audio recordings of the speaker set to music whenever the speakers contradicted themselves. These first Audiopunks were beaten by extreme elements in the crowd. This only served to send the punk message through all the news feeds. Within two months, Audiopunks began appearing at speeches and public gatherings around the world.

    With the continuing cost reduction of PINTs, modern wearable computers, Audiopunks have become a kind of real time fact checking service. Groups set up gatherers who pull audio clips during speeches piping it through remixing software and out to other punks at a gathering. In countries like the ASA and Great Britain where there is a high number of Audiopunk gangs a growing number of politicians and corporate speakers have taken events in doors screening crowds for speck speakers, blocking data transfer in the area and other tricks to avoid the scrutiny of Audiopunks and their own words.

    Lacking any central organization clusters of Audiopunks crop up and fade away in unpredictable ways. Additionally, the political focus of Audiopunks seems equally as varied. The only real connective string being an ability to root out sound bites with incredible speed and efficiency. The PPB station Nis Oidua covers Audiopunk gatherings and plays a steady stream of remixes of punk recordings. While still only a few years old, that is longer than most political movements, or fashion trends.



  • Chatham House 6: The Reader

    The Chatham House articles discuss people that may be inserted into campaigns as ready made NPCs to add flavor or detail to your world. The character’s discussed in the Chatham House often have ties to various organizations, Baronies, Corporations, Governments, but operate outside the normal protocols.

    Books, three century old antiquated media. Who has time for books; you can get all the data online and compressed. It is faster and more efficient. Digital media is also easy to update. So what if for thirty years after the purge schools taught that Led Zeppelin was the flagship of the Nazi dirigible fleet? Eventually data that is more accurate was recovered, and we know now that they were part of the USO.

    Schools cannot afford traditional books. Instead, teachers use educational pages, pulling them up on subsidized monitors between info-breaks. Few people can afford or appreciate the older media but books; both fiction and non-fiction continue to circulate for the discerning buyer.

    One such buyer, Shelly Adder, or the Reader, is one such buyer. Maintaining a discrete store simply titled Ends on the edge of the art district Shelly trades in pre-war books. Not the manuals or technical guides that most corporate types like to snap up, they have too much of an obvious value. Anything else though is fair game including an extensive library of new age work.

    While she manages to stay open, Ends is never busy, in fact it is rare to see more than one or two people in the store at the same time. This may be from the price tag assigned to some of books she keeps. Occasionally scavengers try to pawn off books they may have found in the Wastes but it is rare for Adder to buy from anyone off the streets. How she procures her texts remains an unknown.

    Story Seeds
    How does she get those books? Characters may find themselves on either side of this mystery. The Reader has several sources and does not rely on any one supplier. Instead, she keeps them all at a distance to prevent any one person from knowing too much about Ends and her collection.

    The Reader has been compiling documents for years. While still incomplete, the Reader has a very different understanding of the events leading up to the Great War as well as other subjects. Adder is not the type to prevent people from browsing the shop for hours. There are very few people with access to her private library though.

    An occult understanding? Because so many books pass through Ends and the Reader’s hands there are few subjects she does not know something about. While few might think to turn to her, she may be one of the best sources for more esoteric works in Tiergarten.



  • Land of Confusion 5: Exiles

    Tonight on ID we explore the culture of exiles. The disfranchisement that have opted to walk out on the world and hope for a batter tomorrow. Three cultures, each with very different answers to a society to busy to care. Outside the city we have the Beachers, below the Morlocks, and in the heart of Tiergarten the Church of Divine Sanity.

    I’m your host Lucius Abercrombie, our guests tonight include TKU Deviant Psychology Professor Garrison Frock-LaCroix, and Pamela St.Jude speaker for the New National Party, and this is Info/Data. Alright, lets jump right in shall we, Pamela, I see you already have a question.

    PStC: No I do not have a question, Lucius. I have a statement. I don’t see how you can include savages like the Beachers in a discussion on separatist societies. They are parasites, almost more so than Morlocks who at least have the decency to stay in the sewers where they belong.

    GFL: The Beachers are just another symptom of a society that can no longer coddle all it’s citizens. They choose to live in the Wastes, there is hardly a way to separate one further from society.

    PStC: How convenient for a professor from the Arcology to talk about what it means to separate from society. How many security screenings will you have to go through before they let you back into your gilded palace?

    GFL: Well Pamela, if you must know three, but I live in the Mission District not the Arcology. As I understand it though while you claim residence in Little Dubai, the NNP keeps several posh homes on the TK side of the wall for their speaker and high ranking members. However, to stay on topic, while you call Beachers parasites the Waste Gangs have never attacked the city, only peoples inside what they consider their territory.

    LA: Lets explore the idea of separatists as parasites. Lets talk about the Morlocks.

    GFL: While I understand the city’s news organizations have dubbed them Morlocks, they actually use terms such as Sewer Breed to describe themselves.

    LA: Why the disconnect do you think?

    GFL: Interesting question. Sewer Breed implies they were raised in and by the sewers. That it might be a sustainable environment. Where as the term Morlock evokes ideas of deformed and depraved peoples no longer fit for society. While it might be a way to marginalize a people or culture, I really suspect that the term Morlock took off simply because it sells better with the average person.

    PStC: And are you going to tell us that these Sewer Bread people are some underground nobility and not bottom feeders?

    GFL: Hardly. By their own admission we have multiple accounts of the Sewer Breed taping power and water. Generally connectivity isn’t an issue due to the municipal network but power for electronic devices are another story. There has been a fair amount of speculation that a number of Sewer Breed are actually employed by city infrastructure.

    PStC: The Morlocks are a filthy people. I don’t understand how any one of them could work a legitimate job.

    GFL: Don’t you think we would have more reported colonies if the trench workers weren’t at least sympathetic?

    LA: Sympathetic to a cause does not make you part of it.

    PStC: Thank you Lucius. The NNP has advocated for stricter monitoring standards of all government employees. It’s the weak minded left that allows for this kind of corruption.

    GFL: I’m not here to talk politics or policies. Lets try to stay focused on the subject.

    PStC: This is the subject. If we had stronger state controls these fringe groups would not be an issue. We should have police swarming the sewers, burn the infection out.

    GFL: Then why has the NNP brought three bills to the floor in the last session to strip funding for public services.

    PStC: Those bills reduce the tax burden and do not target personal levels within police and fire.

    LA: What about the separatist movement that tries to have it both ways, the Church of Divine Sanity?

    PStC: You can’t be serious. Divine Sanity is just a collection of xenophobic egg heads looking for tax breaks.

    GFL: The church was founded just over three years ago and has seen it’s following grow consistently each year. Formed after the Bison Fever epidermic, I think there is a large xenophobic aspect to the movement. I think the disconnect comes between the rheteric, which is fairly stock Islomo-Christian, and practice which enforces full bio-hazard precautions for members.

    PStC: Islomo-Christian? How can you compare this collection of paranoids to actual religions?

    GFL: Simple, I took the time to sit in on one of their services before tonight’s show.

    LA: They allowed this?

    GFL: To the extent they allow any outsider. They maintain a media center which broadcasts their services outside the church.

    LA: Interesting stuff. More ID after the break.



  • Chatham House 5: Nikogda Volya

    The Chatham House articles discuss people that may be inserted into campaigns as ready made NPCs to add flavor or detail to your world. The character’s discussed in the Chatham House often have ties to various organizations, Baronies, Corporations, Governments, but operate outside the normal protocols.

    Head of TK Excavation Security, Nikogda is also suspected to lead a grey team used by Thalberg-Koertig to remove unwanted personnel. While corporate politics rarely makes a difference in the day to day lives of those living outside the Arcology it puts Nikogda in a very unique position.

    Nikogda has access.Simple enough, this is a woman that can go anywhere in TK controlled space and never be questioned, or even given a second glance. The truth behind her being the one to literally sack employees may or may not be true, but in the guided upper levels rumor is all you need.

    What of course does this mean to everyone else? Well, like everyone else, Nikogda has her price. There was once another rumor that she was sold an automatic rifle design to a competitor. Four mid-level developers, that were linked to the start of this rumor disappeared over the course of the following month.

    There have also been stories that she’s hired temporary staff for security details at events in the Arcology, presentations, operas, or other performances when she would normally have no involvement. Who would question her or her troops though?

    Nikogda knows how to keep secrets, and play within the margins. For years she’s been learning just how far her boundaries go and what she can do within them. She’s not cruel, or threatening, relying more on her reputation while remaining polite. In a pinch though she is an explosive fighter in her own right should she ever have the need to deal with a threat directly. Her marksmanship is legendary and she is a skilled close quarter combatant relying on easily concealed monowhips. This of course only adds \to her reputation as executive assassin.

    Story Seeds:
    In some campaigns the TK Arcology may be just part of the city’s skyline. In others there may never be a reason to leave their protected walls. However, should your game fall between the lines then Nikogda may become a very good person to know. Story lines involving corporate espionage, smuggling, or even just trying to see a show in the Arcology could involve Nikogda.

    Alternatively, she may take on the roll of benefactor as PCs fall under her legitimate employ or as an antagonist should they ever make enough noise to upset the CEO and board at Thalberg-Koertig.



  • Lucid Tales – Coins

    There was a distinct smell to a junk squat. It was a chemical smell that hung in the air, a smell that sober people knew instinctively to avoid. These instincts were cooked off, boiled from the primal lizard brain of a junkie’s mind. The smell of baking benzo carbazole meant pleasure not death to those so far gone they could be here.

    Pushing through the hall of addicts there was a different reaction. Those that still had mental faculties that extended beyond how to get their next fix scattered back into the walls. Feral eyes waiting for a badge, the swarm of armored men to come flooding in behind me. I wasn’t a cop. At least not in any sense they might comprehend judging from the state of this place.

    The carcinogenic stench was enough that I could smell it from the street. A late stage chemical hive, ready to burst, overflow spilling the death packed inside this worn out husk out into the world. Judging from glazed over faces from those too stoned to run I knew I was in the right place.

    Already I could hear people getting out of her way behind me. Turning into the stairwell residual training kicks in and I’m sprinting. Hand moves to where a shoulder holster had formerly resided. Cigarettes slap against the hand from inside the coat pocket as if to remind me I didn’t use a gun anymore.

    Rounding the fourth floor I gag gasping for air. There she was. Standing expressionless at the top of the stairs she waited for me.

    “How?” I hear myself say. Confused for a moment as to where the word came from. This wasn’t where we were supposed to meet. Worse she knew exactly where I had been going and now blocked the roof. As she sat at the top of the stairs her canvass jacket pooled, dripping down.

    “What do you think I am agent Harker?” She was in no hurry. Her words cold and smooth like polished steel. She knew my name and that made things worse. The only identifier I had for her was a case file number. “Ember, if that makes you feel more comfortable.” It didn’t.

    “What do you mean?” Trying to blank, words stumble out of my mouth. Can’t fight the training as the mental picture I had of this woman is updated from her display. The file had assumed she had been some low end fixer that had gone vamp. If that’s what the file said, I knew now it was only because she had wanted it too.

    “I had heard about you, the killer of Nephilim known to look the other way.”

    “Keepers.”

    “You are killers agent Harker, tell me why.” What good were any words I could muster?

    “I want to hear them, your words.” The stench of the drug lab, wherever it was in this building, seemed to thicken. Was someone starting a fresh batch of BCKD? It became hard to focus now. “Sit agent Harker, the fumes aren’t as bad.”

    Squatting back to the wall one leg eased out into a half slump on a stair. The other leg, two steps down, supported my weight. Hand clutching the railing I watched her, watching me. Pulling the pack of cigarettes from my pocket I offer her one. She shakes her head no and I go about the ritual of lighting my own.

    “Well.” Letting out a long exhalation of grey smoke I tried to put my thoughts together. “Well, you say killers, seems like your mind’s already made up. Maybe some of us are. I don’t know. Not if I can avoid it, but yeah, I’ve gotten burned for that.” Turning from her to the orange tip of the cigarette; ash drops onto the stairs below.

    “I don’t know who’ve you’ve dealt with in the past. There are always those that want power for the sake of power, to lord over someone. I know the Keepers, or the ones I’ve met, they’re not that type. It’s not about us, you know. It’s those people stuck in the real world, like that guy from tonight.”

    “Do you know what he wanted?” The calm in Ember’s voice turned arctic.

    “No.”

    “He wanted as many ampoules of ketamine as I could give him. You see agent Harker, he’s grown apart from his wife. Despises her now. She gets off on boys she brings home from the rave circuit. While K went out of style years ago he didn’t know that. What he did know is that his wife had talked about one of her partners ODing. A sad cuckold who’d rather see his wife dead, than live with the shame. That’s who you saved tonight agent Harker.”

    “How did you know?” A stupid question but I couldn’t help myself.

    “We are the children of gods; his sins are no mystery to me.” There was something about the way she spoke. “Nephilim.” Listening to her was like watching a period piece movie, but the dialog was sideways.

    “How old are you?”

    “Does it matter?”

    “No, I guess it doesn’t. So what happens now?”

    “That’s up to you.”