Saturday, December 22, 2012

Short Preview: San Francisco Citybook

Just thought I'd share another exceprt from an upcoming book- one last preview before Christmas. Here is some of what will be in the upcoming San Francisco sourcebook. 

Blessed Be,

Rhinehart Tower (The Tower)
            “After I moved out here, after..... I watched them put up that Tower. The first entirely meta-human ‘scraper. Imagined by a Powered architect, erected by Powered crews working triple shifts, designed around engineering techniques made possible by studying Powered biology..... it went up in sixty three days. No cranes, no construction equipment, just them.”
            -Dr. Marlene Barron, 2061

            Rhinehart Tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Earthspace, and has joined Aradia’s Isle, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Transamerica Tower as one of San Francisco’s iconic structures. Erected in 2027, the 164-story monolith instantly became one of the symbols of the “Powered Age”, in addition to reclaiming the title of world’s tallest building for America. The gleaming chrome and glass spire dwarfs the city’s lower buildings, standing nearly twice again as tall as the next tallest structure. The mega-scraper was briefly the seat of government for the young Covenant, before Aradia’s Isle was complete.
            The Tower is an impressively decorated structure, despite its clean lines and stark design. Gigantic pentagonal silver shields float in an endless, languid orbit around the Tower’s central spire, held in place by multiple layers of magnetism. The 13 heroically proportioned shields depict bas-relief images of early meta-humans and extremely stylized sigils which represent the Wiccan wheel of the year. Holographic advertisements crawl up and down the Tower’s sleek outer hull, their images color-coordinated to match the day’s changing light.
            As of 2107, the Tower is a multi-function structure, practically a city in its own right. Thousands of San Francisco residents live and work in the tower. The first ten layers are given over to a massive shopping arcology, one of the largest shopping complexes in North America. The Tower’s central mall includes the Rhinehart Heritage Center, a museum of early Powered history that is free of charge and open to the public. The mall’s facilities are comprehensive, and include on-site medical facilities, several theaters, several small Covenant chapels and even a sterile, sparsely attended Grave of the Unborn.

            The next ninety floors are dedicated to corporate offices. Many of California’s wealthiest companies have office space within the Tower. Floors 101 through 105 are given over to maintenance and logistical facilities, and the remaining floors are lavish apartments for the city’s ultra-wealthy. The maintenance floors act as a security buffer between the public and semi-public areas below and the private areas above.

            As is to be expected, the Tower has a top-flight security service on sight, and their staff includes several mid-range Powereds and cyber-enhanced soldiers. Older combat veterans view a career with Rhinehart Tower to be a comfortable semi-retirement, while neophyte metahumans find the job a favorable (if usually dull) balance between risk and reward. The Tower’s internal security forces are more concerned with theft-prevention and corporate espionage than personal protection, though members of the Woven Circle and other important pro-choice activists maintain apartments here. These VIPS usually provide their own protection, in the form of Covenguard defenders.

            Some of Rhinehart Tower’s Tenants
  • Full Freedom Gym, Parking -2 level (old Bastian-run dojo)
  • Rhinehart Transfer Station, Parking -1 level (major bus terminal for the Financial District and SoMo areas)
  • Quickie Coin, Parking -1 level (Lifer-owned currency exhange/cash kiosk)
  • Hemlock One Cinema, 1st floor (multiscreen dollar movie theater)
  • Houndstooth Coffee, 1st, 5th and 21st floors (first shops in the popular coffee franchise)
  • Prism Theater, 1st floor (fairly popular live theater for plays, ballet under simulated micro-grav conditions, and concerts)
  • Teenybopper, 2nd floor (fast food cynically targeting Choicer kids)
  • Runes of Sister & Soldier, 3rd floor (fashionable light and medium body armor)
  • Freehold Steak & Ale, 5th floor (exclusive steakhouse, importing Australian or Delight-raised beef rather than dealing with Lifer-run American ranches)
  • Knowledge & Light Restaurant, 5th floor (five star vegan restaurant with fruit and veggies imported fresh from Delight)
  • The Gettyhawk Gallery, 5th floor (upscale art, antiques, including pagan artifacts)
  • Venus’ Bedroom, 11th floor (secular bordello)
  • Cyberchoice LTD, 13th floor (cyber-parlor offering full disassembly repairs and full cybernetic conversion, contract with the Choicer military)
  • Andromeda Antiques, 23rd floor (specializes in xeno-artifacts, especially Half Grey and early ‘second universe’ Senator-technology)
  • Soft Palace Regional Offices, 57th floor (meta-porn media giant)
  • Varthan Cybersystems Corporate Offices, 81st floor (cybernetic exports)
  • Lestada Group Branch Offices, 97th floor (insurance and pro-choice lobbying)
  • Whiteash Mendoza’s suites, 104th floor (Dianic Rite idol singer)
  • Lady Sylvia Moondark’s suites, 109th floor (Woven Circle member)
  • Cameron Nicellos-Bryne’s suites, 115th floor (auto industry billionaire of the House Nicellos)

            Chinatown is still, well, Chinatown. While every neighborhood around it suffered demographic shifts, the neighborhood’s mostly Chinese inhabitants stayed resolutely, stubbornly put. Chinatown weathered the Big Trib, and the Abortion War exactly as it had weathered similar quakes, fires and wars throughout the first century or so of its existence.
            Chinatown is resolutely apolitical, only a part of the Choicer Covenant because it’s forced to be. The neighborhood’s borders are patrolled by citizen watches and the occasional gene-cut combat volunteer, usually under the employ of one of the local Tongs. As San Francisco went to hell around it, Chinatown’s unelected elders sealed off their own little corner of the world. After all, the Abortion War was a matter for Christian and Pagan to settle, and most in Chinatown were neither.

Outsiders, especially ones with an obvious Lifer or Choicer allegiance are obviously unwelcome. Most are turned away at the Union Square Dragon Gate, either politely or not so politely. Choicer and Lifer visitors are tentatively welcome on the weekends- at least, the sullen eyed, tattooed post-humans manning the gates tend not to turn away quite so many. Natives who embrace one of the pseudo-nations are obviously unwelcome and are ostracized until they either return to the fold or get the hell out. A Chinese-American Midwife would be flatly ignored by clerks or in restaurants, stared out hostilely by housewives and flipped off by teenagers, but so would a Chinese-American sporting Lifer purple or a tattooed Sigil. Violence against outsiders is relatively rare, and usually confined to the occasional tonfa or asp-beatdown at the gates, but the district-wide silently treatment is usually enough to drive away believers from either side.

Chinatown has been run by the Kwong-Shen Consortium since the mid 2050s; originally an alliance between the mid 21st century’s two largest Tongs, the Kwong-Shen Consortium is now almost legitimate. Donald Kwong (Male FCB Fast 5, Powered-reflex/peak human 10) is the same man who brokered the original treaty, today he is a slender Full Conversion Cyborg of sinister black angles, proud of his custom-built stealth chassis, and possessed of more than 100 years of criminal experience and cunning. By contrast, his opposite number on the Consortium is Fae Shen, the granddaughter of the man he shook hands with in a little tea room back in 2057.

Sites around Chinatown
  • The Bat Market: An informal night market that springs up around the Union Square Dragon Gate every night around 2200 and runs till dawn. Connected locals can pick up guns, including Valiente energy weapons and military grade gene-mods. Everybody else can get fish, produce, duck, ect.

  • Chang-Sing Palace: One of the city’s finest restaurants, and Donald Kwong’s private sanctuary. He hasn’t needed to sleep in 30 years, and he lounges here, alone except for his most trusted men, during the darkest hours of the night. The meticulous, computer-planned paintings he creates during the long, sleepless night hang in the restaurant, and in many neighboring shops. Kwong often gives away his paintings as gifts to his neighbors, and out of either fear or love, nobody has ever refused one. 

  • Consolidated Six Bio-Medical: Firmly under control of the Kwong-Shen, this ultra-modern, six story hospital (with a comprehensive onMesh and augmented reality presence, all in Cantonese, of course) offers genetic upgrades to the tong’s best fighters. Consolidated Six Bio-Med offers the Genetic Enhancement and Meta-Athlete enhancement protocols, but only to trusted Tong enforcers. As far as most San Franciscans know, the facility simply performs over-the-counter genetic engineering- specifically, anti-aging and cosmetic genecutting. 

  • Year of the Panda #13445: Legally, nothing’s stopping the Lifer nation from opening one of its Chinese franchise restaurants in Chinatown. Of course, legally, there’s nothing that would ever compel a native to dine here. Often graffiti scarred or marred by vandalism of ever more imaginative variety, most of the booths are empty save for the occasional tourist who doesn’t know any better. Chinatown kids dumb enough to take a first job here usually get their asses kicked until they quit.

Neverborn in Chinatown
            If you’re Neverborn, and if you value your….life…you won’t go anywhere near Chinatown. The locals aren’t on friendly terms with either the Lifer or Choicer nations, but hold an undying hatred for undead post-humans. The gate guards are pretty good at spotting Neverborn in their human state (though they don’t catch everyone, particularly the more lifelike).

While the ordinary Lifer will likely get turned away with no worse than a shove, Neverborn are going to take a beating. If a Neverborn transforms within Chinatown’s borders he’s probably going to get killed. The lucky ones just get stomped to death- the unlucky ones are tortured and humiliated first. Locally ‘hopping vampire’ means breaking a Neverborn’s kneecaps, tying his legs together and seeing how far he can ‘hop’ before collapsing. It’s not necessarily the Tongs doing the violence either; ordinary Chinatown civilians are more than willing to put down a Neverborn. The SFPD rarely investigates the death of Neverborn, even in the rare instances where the bodies turn up. And by the way, Neverborn with an obviously Chinese phenotype get it about ten times worse than white Neverborn.

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