Friday, 29 June 2018

Cape Point | Life In The Hub

The final instalment of our trip to Cape Point, hopefully giving you a sense of the flavour and feel for this unique city. You're a long way from Night City now, my friend.




The Neon Haze - Light pollution is a way of life in The Hub. Every skyscraper in each of the corporate zones is lit by searchlights, every squat is illuminated by fires, every commercial street lit by a multitude of neon adverts. Advertising slogans are projected into the sky by searchlights and ad-blimps, or projected onto the side of Table Mountain. Its never truly dark in Cape Point.

Beneath a Dying Sky - After the war, the weather patterns of the Western Cape were shot to hell. The region is plagued by creep clouds, flash floods, acid monsoons, poisonous smog, torrential rains, extreme humidity, corrosive fog, sweltering dry heat, lightening storms, hurricanes, howling gales, dust storms from inland, ice cold nights and oppressively hot days, yet the sun is dull, shining weakly through the polluted haze, giving an orange cast to everything.
Spoils of War - Refugees from the north flood into the SACR and are collected in state holding camps or disappear into the ghettos. The Cape Republic is recovering from the Emergency, the conflict they wouldn't call a war. This 'police-action' was the result of PAU Colonel N'kosa Mambi's 2024 fever-dream of a new African Empire, that tore across the continent. Eventually defeated by an international coalition of Protocol peace-keepers, N'kosa awaits trial in Geneva.

There is evidence of warfare throughout the region - pockmarked buildings, abandoned city areas, rusting tanks, gutted APCs, aerodyne gunship carcasses, ghost towns, skeletal human remains by the less travelled roads etc. Limited tac-nuke use in 2024, on the Angolan border with Namibia, has lead to the poisonous and radioactive weather fronts referred to as The Creep. Creep clouds are a toxic soup of rads, nanites and biologicals. Many people have begun to exhibit genetic defects thanks to the damaged local environment and are known locally as Twists, and are feared and shunned by both the superstitious and the healthy.

State of the Nation - There are still African rebel movements within the SACR, as well as white supremacist paramilitaries and fringe religious groups, cyber-supremacists, and bio-chauvinists. Civil strife is never far away. Famine and conflict is always ready to bleed into the city streets. Tensions always run high. You're never very far from a fear-gas enshrouded riot in The Hub. 

Sea-borne piracy is also a problem in the region. With simmering unrest there comes a proliferation of smuggling syndicates, as well as illicit off-shore pirate broadcasters, such as Channel Zero and the infamous Suppressed Transmissions. Establishing the veracity of any information is becoming increasingly difficult in Cape Point and the rest of the country.

The old Wasting Plague is still active in the most deprived areas of The Hub. Various biotech transnats are watching and waiting, their patented vaccines at the ready. The area has also recently been subject to what the media has dubbed the New Plagues. Officially blamed on third world transients but most suspect the top bionationals. These contemporary diseases include Viral Huntingtons Disease (VHD), Adaptive and Variable Transmission HIV variants (AHIV & VT-HIV respectively) and Ebola III, not to mention all the adapted and evolved artificial parasites, tailored cancers and nano-induced syndromes unleashed by heartless transnationals and backstreet clinics. Consequently hand sanitisers, inhalers, disinfectant wipes, and other hygiene solutions are  highly desirable, but generally only available anywhere there's money.

SACR laws state that clones, dubs, AIs and other artificial life-forms have no rights, cybernetic regulation is confined to weapons and weapon systems, while private info havens and secure servers are perceived as separate entities and are not subject to Republic law.

The SACR allows the use of Protocol's intrusive GroundScan in it's territories, but only with the correct warrants. Laws change a lot and most law enforcement agencies are corrupt, especially the paramilitary national police known as the Public Security Agency.

Where the PSA don't, can't or won't police, a number of private law enforcement organisations have developed. These contractors include Monarch Law Enforcement, Aries, IntenSecure (small operation), Sentry (Militech), MetaCops (tsotsi funded), Black Eagle Security Group (white/racist) and Arasaka SA. Health and hygiene regulations are strictly enforced, and are some of the most draconian laws currently in place, thanks to recent Biocontrol legislative reforms.

Dante's Streets - In The Hub, street vendors sell anything and everything without permits, with City Filters being the biggest sellers. There are Hyperlife™ auto-cafĂ©s everywhere, street traders, impromptu markets, hustlers decked out in dollar store bling, prostitutes, their minders and the down and destitute. Begging is all too common, particularly amongst the street kids; orphans from the war living rough anywhere they can. 

There are vendomats, dataterms, free kibble dispensers, foil blanket dispensers and automated retail kiosks. All this autonomous equipment will be battered, weather stained, and thick with graffiti. 

There are people everywhere; scattered around here and there, some huddled together under blankets or plastic sheeting, some gathered around oil drum fires, others shambling around aimlessly, and at least one poor wretch just standing there shivering and watching the animated signs as if hypnotised. And those animated ads and signs, holographs and the ubiquitous neon will bathe the streets in lurid colour, their incessant drone a constant beat in the background at all times. If you're tricked out for AR, then the world gets even more confusing, unless you're running some heavy-duty filtering. Everywhere, the smell of chemicals, pollutants and human bodies.

In the affluent zones, AI controlled unmanned AV cabs circle with unnerving precision, dropping to street level to drum up trade - they won't travel to certain areas and can't be made to (unless they are hacked of course, which is difficult). Plex or PSA patrols pass through the well kept streets, or wait parked by the roadside, watching for trouble.

The Gangs of The Hub

The top 20 on the PSA list, including gangs from the satellite towns:

• The Hard Time Kids - one of the thousands-strong gangs
• The Cape Flats Boys - another of the thousands-strong gangs
• Thug Living
• The Instant Revolvers
• The Disposable Boys
• The Junky Bullets
• The Jackrollers
• The Magnetic Dog Boys
• The 28s (was a prison gang - they put glo-tat 28s on their faces)
• The AK Legends
• The Scissor Girls
• The Cannibal Cult
• The Twist Society
• The Hungry Loa
• The Shaka Bosses
• The Children of Legba - nu-voodoo and sakawa practising 'dorphers who cook and sell drugs from out of the Warrens
• The Liquid Killaz
• The Right Hand of God (Sub-Saharan Africans, Somalis and local muslims with links to The Burning Light)
• The Tijgerhof Technicals
• The Kid Soldier Soccer Club - smartguns and Sergio Tacchini tracksuits, 70s style


Cartels
The Cape Point Transmetropolitan Hub teems with thousands of faceless hustlers, night operators, retrieval experts, fixers, facilitators, solos, blades and bimbos. Ex-special forces commandos sell their high-end anti-social skills, vying with renegade military clonals and semi-retired combat 'borgs for contracts. Triad thugs brawl with tsotsi warriors and Kombinat assassins. Each of them is connected to the fabric of the netherworld, wired into the splinternets. With a glance, a Nigerian mercenary can scan a passerby, dive into the infosphere's backnet to retrieve a pearl of data about their bionic implants, and have their onboard tac-system formulate a strike strategy that will cripple his target in the blink of an eye.

Trade is the backbone of The Hub, and the transnationals rely on loose laws, immigrants, bleeding-edge technology and corrupt administrations to smooth the flow of business. Smuggling, illegal neotech, dangerous freelancers, and technomads are the lifeblood of the city. The Hub's phenomenal growth was built on the basis of the free flow of people, goods and information after the war. Like Shanghai in the 1920s and Hong Kong in the 1980s, Cape Point attracted the world's most interesting individuals. The glare of neon, the atmosphere of borderline legality and the smell of money lured edgerunners by the kilobyte.

Some will say that the Cartels run the city, with the Russian Kombinat providing a brutal but entertaining sideshow. Others think that the hypercorps are bankrolling the major players, with tacit approval from Government House. And what about the American and Eastern Community operatives sinking their apparati into the bowels of power politics?

Besides the good old-fashioned money-and-politics types, The Hub is also infested with the theological detritus of the world. Add about sixteen major sects and cults - not counting the ethnic groups such as the Sikhs or Druze - mixed with a million and one vendettas, and you've got a potent brew. Pretty much every ethnic group with an agenda has representation here, from Malay dissidents in the Bo-Kaap district to enterprising Chinese importers to dour but reliable Burmese executives. The Europeans have a light presence, but their own infighting keeps them busy.

The Cape Point Transmetropolitan Hub has the highest per-capita rate of implantation in the world, the highest income inequality of any city, the highest concentration of transnationals in Africa and the largest armoury this side of the Congo Conflict Zone. And these are some of the groups that make it move.

The Bhin Xuyen - Vietnamese organised criminal cartel, specialising in human trafficking, piracy and counterfeiting. The group originated amongst the refugee and transient communities on The Raft and in Limpet Town.

The Swanepoel Syndicate - Luis Swanepoel is one of the new, up-and-coming gang bosses competing for the lion's share of the trafficking and smuggling in and out of The Hub. Swanepoel was a pirate off the Gold Coast and would have you put down for just looking at him funny.

The Njombo Cartel - Mabuki Njombo sliced and diced a bloody path to become a Waterfront kingpin by dealing in every vice imaginable, including slavery/skin-trading, organ-legging, human trafficking, prostitution and personality dealing. He is known for preying on the weaknesses of his own people.

The Triads - A vast network of immigrant Chinese and Malay gangsters. A mix composed of fixers, solos, whores, pushers, thieves and other criminals of all kinds. The Triads will involve themselves in anything that will turn a profit.

The Tsotsi Ganglords - These groups run the city’s black market 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’ are very loose and consist of collectives of affiliated individuals rather than a unified group.

Hasim Shakur - There's also a crime clan run by Hasim Shakur, an Indian black marketeer who's neck deep in blood diamond traffic, white-collar corruption and tech-theft. The streets are not his scene, but he has friends aplenty in Europe and the Pacific Prosperity Sphere. He currently resides in the gated community hub of Mouille Point.

The Hacker Collective - Not much is known about this group, beyond the fact that there are a number of them, and they all seem to have an anarchic, libertarian view on the world. Some of them hire themselves out on runs; 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]








Freak Weather Tables (should you need them):

Morning:
1. Ice cold in The Hub: The temperature dropped off the chart sometime last night and it's remained unusually cold. There may even be icicles, hail or patches of frost around. Kids love it! Wrap up warm and be grateful it's not colder.

2. Corrosive fog: Stinking acidic fog blankets the city causing traffic problems, visibility and situational awareness issues as well as making sound travel funny. Roll under remaining LUCK to avoid any acid damage: 1D6/2 and any SP is reduced by a further -1 for each turn the character remains in the fog.
3. Creep cloud: The area is enshrouded in a cloud of nanite, biological and chemical detritus. This shit stinks! The PCs have no idea of the cloud's composition and what problems may occur by hanging around. But they will be triggering the hazard systems of any relatively modern or secure building. Radioactivity? Dangerous nanites? Plague? Characters better be ready for a stint in decontamination. They might get real sick too - roll under full LUCK.
4. The usual: Oh look, it's raining again… <sigh> No significant problems other than getting wet. Again.

5. Corrosive fog: Stinking acidic fog blankets the city causing traffic problems, visibility and situational awareness issues as well as making sound travel funny. Roll under remaining LUCK to avoid any acid damage: 1D6/2 and any SP is reduced by a further -1 for each turn the character remains in the fog.

6. Dust storm: Tons of dust blow in from the interior of the country. Makes breathing tricky; the dust gets into everything; visibility and awareness are reduced (-3) and if it has been raining first,  everything is covered in cloying, muddy crap (this shit is slippery too).

7. Torrential downpour: The usual rain suddenly increases in strength and ferocity with a good inch or two falling in a matter of minutes. Driving becomes hazardous and those without shelter are rapidly soaked to the skin. Visibility is reduced to a couple of meters. The downpour is loud too (-2 Awareness). Lasts for up to 1D20+5 minutes.

8. Torrential downpour: The usual rain suddenly increases in strength and ferocity with a good inch or two falling in a matter of minutes. Driving becomes hazardous and those without shelter are rapidly soaked to the skin. Visibility is reduced to a couple of meters. The downpour is loud too (-2 Awareness). Lasts for up to 1D20+5 minutes.

9. The usual: Oh look, it's raining again… <sigh> No significant problems other than getting wet. Again.

10. Sweltering heat: It's 110° in the shade right now, not a good time to be layered in armour… Add up the SP totals of any head and torso armour. This is the DV for an Endurance check to avoid heat injuries. If the character is without Endurance, they use Resist Torture/Drugs at -2. Heat stroke results in -5 to all skills and 3 pts of damage (no BTM). Oh, and it's miserably hot indoors too…


Afternoon:
1. Extreme UV levels: Despite the hazy light, if you stay outdoors for too long without adequate eye protection, roll a SAVE or be at -3 (-2 with cyberoptic systems) to all tasks involving sight for the remainder of the day. Any exposed skin, including the face will be burned red (1 pt damage, no BTM). Get yourself some goggles, flare-paste, UV shielding or stay inside until it lets up…

2. Glitter-twists: Dead and dying nanoforms carried on twisting air currents catch the dull, orange sunlight, like sparks. This shit sends the superstitious crazy… Can cause an irritating cough if you breath this crap in. Lasts for around 1 hour on average.

3. Lightening storm: A sudden peel of thunder followed by a spectacular lightening show moving in from the ocean or from south of the Table. 10% chance the ionisation of the air monkeys around with implants, cell phones, net connections, smart weapon systems and the like. Lasts for 1D3 hours. 20% chance of city block black outs per hour.

4. Torrential downpour: The usual rain suddenly increases in strength and ferocity with a good inch or two falling in a matter of minutes. Driving becomes hazardous and those without shelter are rapidly soaked to the skin. Visibility is reduced to a couple of meters. The downpour is loud too (-2 Awareness). Lasts for up to 1D20+5 minutes.

5. Sweltering heat: It's 110° in the shade right now, not a good time to be layered in armour… Add up the SP totals of any head and torso armour. This is the DV for an Endurance check to avoid heat injuries. If the character is without Endurance, they use Resist Torture/Drugs at -2. Heat stroke results in -5 to all skills and 3 pts of damage (no BTM). Oh, and it's miserably hot indoors too…

6. Acid monsoon: Sheets of corrosive rain drop from the sky. Little columns of vapour start to appear where the acid does it's worst. Roll under remaining LUCK to avoid any acid damage: 1D6 and any SP is reduced by a further -1 for each turn the character remains in the acidic downpour.

7. The usual: Oh look, it's raining again… <sigh> No significant problems other than getting wet. Again.

8. Extreme UV levels: Despite the hazy light, if you stay outdoors for too long without adequate eye protection, roll a SAVE or be at -3 (-2 with cyberoptic systems) to all tasks involving sight for the remainder of the day. Any exposed skin, including the face will be burned red (1 pt damage, no BTM). Get yourself some goggles, flare-paste, UV shielding or stay inside until it lets up…

9. Creep cloud: The area is enshrouded in a cloud of nanite, biological and chemical detritus. This shit stinks! The PCs have no idea of the cloud's composition and what problems may occur by hanging around. But they will be triggering the hazard systems of any relatively modern or secure building. Radioactivity? Dangerous nanites? Plague? Characters better be ready for a stint in decontamination. They might get real sick too - roll under full LUCK.

10. The usual: Oh look, it's raining again… <sigh> No significant problems other than getting wet. Again.


Night:
1. Creep cloud: The area is enshrouded in a cloud of nanite, biological and chemical detritus. This shit stinks! The PCs have no idea of the cloud's composition and what problems may occur by hanging around. But they will be triggering the hazard systems of any relatively modern or secure building. Radioactivity? Dangerous nanites? Plague? Characters better be ready for a stint in decontamination. They might get real sick too - roll under full LUCK.

2. Arctic snap: The temperature has dropped off the chart excessively cold. There may even be icicles, hail or patches of ice or frost around, particularly after rain. Driving and other movement actions at -3. Prolonged exposure such as staying out all night at these temperatures can result in hyperthermia, pneumonia or frost-bite - roll under full LUCK.

3. Sweltering heat: Unusually for after dark, it's 110° in the shade, not a good time to be layered in armour… Add up the SP totals of any head and torso armour. This is the DV for an Endurance check to avoid heat injuries. If the character is without Endurance, they use Resist Torture/Drugs at -2. Heat stroke results in -5 to all skills and 3 pts of damage (no BTM). Oh, and it's miserably hot indoors too…

4. The usual: Oh look, it's raining again… <sigh> No significant problems other than getting wet. Again.

5. Gale force winds: Extreme, angry winds buffet the city from the ocean. On the coast, great waves crash against the shore. The sound is incredible. Expect some signs of damage when it subsides. All activity in these high winds is at -4.

6. The usual: Oh look, it's raining again… <sigh> No significant problems other than getting wet. Again.

7. Lightening storm: A sudden peel of thunder followed by a spectacular lightening show moving in from the ocean or from south of the Table. 10% chance the ionisation of the air monkeys around with implants, cell phones, net connections, smart weapon systems and the like. Lasts for 1D3 hours. 20% chance of city block black outs per hour.

8. Arctic snap: The temperature has dropped off the chart excessively cold. There may even be icicles, hail or patches of ice or frost around, particularly after rain. Driving and other movement actions at -3. Prolonged exposure such as staying out all night at these temperatures can result in hyperthermia, pneumonia or frost-bite - roll under full LUCK.

9. The usual: Oh look, it's raining again… <sigh> No significant problems other than getting wet. Again.

10. Torrential downpour: The usual rain suddenly increases in strength and ferocity with a good inch or two falling in a matter of minutes. Driving becomes hazardous and those without shelter are rapidly soaked to the skin. Visibility is reduced to a couple of meters. The downpour is loud too (-2 Awareness). Lasts for up to 1D20+5 minutes.





For those unfamiliar with the very excellent Vircades Project blog, may I suggest Richard's outstanding Ruralpunk series of tools and concepts for running PCs through the wild places found beyond Cape Point's city limits. Enjoy!


*with apologies to Richard Balmer once more for bastardising some of his ideas. :)

6 comments:

  1. Well... two pieces of equipment that are going to be useful, then:

    - disposable rain poncho. Packed in a rigid plastic container about the size of a soda can, it has carbon fiber rigging for the hood and thus can be deployed and donned within seconds. It is made of plastic and treated to protect you from acid rain. At the same time, it is about as comfortable to wear as a trash bag, and about as durable.
    Easily available form convenience stores, street vendors and vend-o-mats, it ocmes in a wide choice of colours and at a perfectly reasonable price for what it is.

    - armor heat sink. A must-have for anyone wearing serious armor in hot climate, and plain life-saver in a heat wave. Consists of a vest made of fine capillaries that is worn under the armor itself, and a small powered backpack unit to act as heat sink and pump cooling liquid through the vest (this one is worn on your backplate and linked to the vest wtih hoses running through armpits and over the collar). If the unit is properly calibrated (easy test of athletics or stamina), it allows you to ignore the armor piece for the purpose of heatwave stmaina testing. Badly calibrated, it cuts the penalties to the heatwave test by half.
    The whole system needs to be mated with a specific armor model, and tends to cost 2x as much as the armor itself (half of it for the vest, the other half for the backpack). The heat sink backpack is easily damaged in combat, damaging the vest requires punching through your armor. Luckily, the cooling liquid is basically water with a few harmless additions, so it causes no health hazard in such a case.
    Needless to say, professionals consider this gear a can't-go-without.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very cool (pun intended). Where are they from?

      Delete
    2. From the top of my head.
      Serious.

      Though of course disposable rain ponchos aren't anything that isn't avaialbe all around, and I think I've heard about cooling vests for body armor being tested somewhere. Y'know, it's been a real problem in the few recent conflicts...

      Delete
    3. Well, you wrote them up so professionally, I thought you'd cribbed them from another game! Top job, that man! :)

      Delete
    4. Thank you.

      I've intentionally written them system-neutral :)

      Delete
    5. Yes, I noticed and it is greatly appreciated. ;)

      Delete