First up for today, it’s a contribution from one of the players – a general introduction to Seattle, with some information (especially the population figures) tweaked, since he believes (for a variety of good reasons) that the “approximately three million” official population figure is far too low. As for whether his figures or the official ones are closer to accuracy, perhaps everyone will find out. Some of the names are from the convenient (if detail-free) list of location names in the back of the New Seattle book, others are from real-world Seattle, and still others are simply new. In any case, the details are pretty much all his own.
The Seattle Metroplex
The City of Seattle has changed a lot in its 200-year history. Once a rough-cut town of miners, loggers, and fishermen, it became a way-station to Alaska, then a small city of primitive plumbing and cunning merchants. Over the years, it evolved into a huge Asian immigrant center, a leftist university city, a tourist mecca, and then a financial powerhouse. But with the political disruption of the early 21st century, the City expanded wildly as government changed.
The Seattle Metroplex formed as government virtually ceased to exist in the surrounding regions. In effect, people from the western half of Washington state moved to the Seattle region to avoid the anarchy forming in their homeland. With the permission of D.C., the surrounding counties were merged into a single metropolitan area with limited local self-government. The mayor of each city/county region has a seat on the Metroplex Council. Counties became Districts, but borders shifted slightly.
Each district mostly handles itself separately internally, because they have control over money. The act of Congress which created the Metroplex also defined areas that must be handled at the Metroplex level, including general security and police services, as well as international diplomacy (Seattle has a limited right to diplomacy). The Metroplex Guard – the local UCAS Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines – is based out of Fort Lewis.
While it’s easy enough to take a bus or cab or simply drive yourself around the Metroplex, old infrastructure limits the ability to deploy mass transit across district boundaries. The Downtown district has both a subway and monorail. People needing to get around the greater metroplex area quickly sometimes hire helicopters or even light planes.
Security Ratings are assigned to various neighborhoods by Lone Star Security Services. Ratings rely more on “random” street crime and intransigent, ongoing crimes such as drug pushers and fences than “crimes of passion.” AAA ratings don’t guarantee that a middle manager won’t blow away his cheating wife, but they do mean that no one is likely to break into your apartment at 2:00 am. Neighborhoods range from AAA (almost no crime), AA (very secure), A (secure), B (secure against open crimes), C (casual street crime is common), D (endemic crime), through E (constant crime). Theoretically, a final rating of Z implies the region is completely anarchic and ungoverned, but no Seattle neighborhood has such a rating – officially. Normally, ratings are fairly predictable from the neighborhood’s social class (Luxury, High, etc.).
Downtown. Population: 1,635,000
Bias: Connections are what counts. Metatype? Not so much.
The urban core of the Metroplex, Downtown never burned out in the middle the way so many other cities did. That doesn’t mean it lacks shadows. The “Downtown” District includes everything in the old Seattle city limits and much more. It embraces high-class districts down to middle-class ones, two universities, an amusement park, and the tallest buildings in the city. Although most of the skyscrapers are in the original city core area, the rest of Downtown is still quite bustling. It’s more a matter of the core being particularly fashionable and having a lot of already-developed services.
Downtown is exciting. The hottest new clubs and the wealthiest new businesses congregate there, rubbing elbows with luxury high-rise apartments and fancy hotels, rich jewelry stores and exotic restaurants.
Important areas include Capitol Hill around Metroplex Hall, which is lower-class but chic, popular with artists and the arts set. The Elven district houses many elves and dwarves; those who settled here after the Night of Rage decided to let their imagination run free. Some of this worked and some didn’t. Most of the really awful buildings have been remodeled into something likable, so the neighborhood is a popular tourist attraction. The old International district also attracts visitors, although few immigrants actually live here. Of more interest to Shadowrunners is the Ork Underground.
The Ork Underground claims to be a separate city, with its own population and mayor and police. It’s little more than a handful of thugs claiming turf, and the persistent problem of crime has led to calls for Seattle to forcefully take control over it. Legally, no-one outside a few orks would argue, but the city is concerned about bad press and what any armed resistance might resort to if pressed. The full extent of the Underground is not known.
The center downtown area has numerous docks and, surprisingly, two major industrial sites. Both the Renraku Arcology and the Aztechnology Pyramid have large manufacturing centers inside; the Arcology in particular has easy access to the port. Additionally, a large junkyard (McKuen’s Scrap and Salvage) operates right downtown. Mostly, however, the center downtown has a great many interesting restaurants and exclusive clubs and tall office buildings and hotels. Buildings usually start at four to five stories. Three hospitals and several clinics ensure a healthy population.
Other interesting places include Seattle University and the Seattle Center, where the Space Needle still stands. The University was once a relatively regional learning center, but the rise of the Metroplex ensured its expansion into a truly impressive institute. The only problem is the relatively small campus, which has cramped departments with the increasing enrollment. More and more students are opting for other opportunities outside Downtown, or at least the city core.
The Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) Airport is located within the greater Downtown area, although it’s closer to Tacoma than the central core. While still a thriving air transit center, city officials are considering building a newer airport which can handle more and larger planes.
Crime in Downtown is frequent but subtle. The dock traffic ensures a lot of smuggling, and both the Yakuza and Mafia control various restaurants, as well as financial services. Banking isn’t that concentrated in the Downtown area, but it’s convenient to launder money here because of the huge sums being traded and moved on a daily, or even hourly, basis. Other crimes mostly involve high-end robberies, the odd kidnapping, recreational drug sales from and to white-collar workers, con artistry and datacrime. Prostitution is a sideline, but it’s easier outside this district.. Downtown takes a lot of money up-front to play, but it makes the Syndicates a lot in return.
Gangs in Downtown are almost exclusively Thrill Gangs. The area mostly lacks the poverty and thuggishness to tolerate real brutality, and neither go-gangs nor street gangs can easily evade Lone Star here. However, both the Cutters and the Halloweeners have operations Downtown, even basing themselves out of it. The Cutters are a national “club”, and deal in guns and arms smuggling across much of North America. The ’Weeners don’t have that much reach, but range across the Spawl and extend down into Calfree. The Ancients, a semi-racist elf go-gang, sometimes hang out in the Elven District. The Eye-Fivers, another go-gang, run drugs up and down Intercity 5 through Downtown.
Getting around the district is pretty easy. The city core caters to foot traffic, while monorails, trains, and busses zip travelers around the whole of Seattle-Downtown. Most other districts only have bus services, although fore-hire helipads and small airports serve those who just need to get across the Metroplex fast.
Bellevue, Population: 418,000
Bias: Fashion-based (“Ugh, the Ork-ganger look is soooo last year!”)
In many, many cities, there lies an area of relative wealth, a playground of the powerful, called… Bellevue. Seattle is no exception. Computer and electronics drive the baseline economy, fuelling high-end retailers and a lot of name-brand sales. The nightclubs are definitely worth seeing, however, and people stream in to enjoy the smashing shopping and entertainment day and night.
Microdeck’s headquarters moved here as the company recovered and left Redmond. Fuchi, Renraku, Ares, Gaeatronics, Global technologies (simsense), and Mitsuhama also do research and manufacturing (or at least chip printing) here. All are members of the United Corporate Council, a local chamber-of-commerce-type organization. The UCC definitely leans on the local government from time to time, although no evidence of anything exceptionally illegal or uncouth.
Other interesting sites include the five-story Bellevue Square Mall, Thomas Vintners winery, and Lake Washington Resort. These all attract ample tourist attention to Bellevue, but there’s plenty to do here aside from the big attractions.
Shadowrunners frequently enter (or at least try to) the major corporate sites located in Bellevue. Police response times are decidedly low, but calls to authorities are rare. Rumors that the large corporate offices and facilities here hide illegal activities thrive.
As in Downtown, the syndicates keep their nose clean, or even cleaner. They buy into the many legal businesses for money laundering purposes. They also like invade systems through the Matrix, a more modern-day method of getting protection money. Few gangs haunt the area’s well-to-do neighborhoods, although on occasion a go-gang hits the town for some “fun”.
Tacoma, Population: 750,000
Bias: None. Tacomans are embarrassed about the Night of Rage and are fairly accepting.
Tacoma was once the domain of blue-collar workers and heavy industry, such as the Federated-Boeing airplane assembly plants or the large port facilities. But corporations moving off from the high land prices in Downtown and Bellevue have begun buying and developing old neighborhoods in Tacoma, adding a wider array of business.
The Night of Rage stains the memory of Tacoma, although the district wasn’t responsible. Governor Allenson decided to deport all metahumans to San Francisco (presumably counting on Washington’s attention looking elsewhere). Seattle city leaders quarantined many in Tacoma warehouses. The Hands of Five terrorist group broke in and firebombed the warehouses. Many escaped through underground tunnels, but thousands still died. That night not only caused bitter human-metahuman relations, but also soured relations between some metatypes. Elves claimed afterwards that Orks prevented them from escaping, while some Trolls couldn’t fit into the tunnel system.
The Yakuza have a strong grip on the district; the number of politicians corrupted is unknown but certainly very high. The Yaks owe their strength largely to a happy accident of having planned to buy land in the district. In the aftermath of the Night of Rage, land values fell like a stone and the Yakuza wound up with a very large, very secure income stream. The Mafia have begun slowly (and brutally) pushing back, but the process will undoubtedly take a long while, so they are playing the long game by winning the loyalty of blue-collar factory men. The Seoulpa Rings in Tacoma confine themselves to robberies, not wanting to attract too much attention.
Tacoma has a large array of gangs, including some of Seattle’s worst. The Ragers haunt the docks and tend toward vicious muggings. The Spike Wheels are a troll go-gang who roam up and down Intercity-5.
Everett, Population: 458,000
Bias: Everett residents don’t take kindly to any kind of open, obvious trouble-making.
Everett sits way up at the north end of the Seattle Metroplex, and has a reputation for being relatively relaxed and rural. New business is coming, however, taking advantage of its good location and small, clean harbor area to trade along the coast towards Alaska. The UCAS Navy has a distinct interest in Everett. Not only is the UCAS’s only reliable Pacific shipyard located here, but it houses a major naval base.
Federated-Boeing operates a large factory and assembly site here, but they aren’t the only corporation with an interest in the area. Independent Information Network and Dadson Vision Entertainment operate trideo studios here, and Ares is considering opening a munitions factory in the district. Everett also has several food-processing and mining companies with operations here. Travis Memorial is a cutting-edge hospital with a specialty in experimental treatments.
Everett Community College is a popular school for students needing additional preparation for a more strict university elsewhere, but the school’s reputation has suffered lately. The college was rocked by the murder of students in a human-supremacist fraternity.
Everett’s underground community is small but brutal. The Mafia own old influence here, and they guard their turf by simply shooting any Yakuza who tries to move in. They lack the muscle to push the Yaks completely out of business, however. A few gangs mess with Everett’s locals, but there’s not as much money or entertainment to be had here.
Renton, Population: 636,000
Bias: Renton has growing but hidden prejudice, from extensive Humanis efforts.
Renton has a reputation as Seattle’s bedroom, a sprawling suburban zone where citizens who work elsewhere got to sleep. And that’s not entirely ill-founded. Renton has safe and secure neighborhoods, reasonably priced housing, and a central location with good road access. Many Downtown-dwellers sneer at Renton, but an awful lot of them wind up moving there when they realize that a family could use open space and quiet more than urban excitement. Renton also has several no-car zones and greenways for local pedestrian traffic.
Because of the lack of big industries or huge office-towers, Renton tends towards retailing and small offices. Many Seattleites from surrounding districts come here for everyday medical treatment. Mixed in with dentists and accountants, however, are a few serious businesses that prefer smaller buildings and larger personal offices. The central sprawl location and relaxed environment helps. Likewise, small and focused software development houses dwell here, including Blood Monies Software and Night Crawlers. Federated-Boeing makes drones and rigger-operated vehicles here, while Knight-Errant (an Ares division) has their main Seattle training facility here.
Despite the fairly ordinary upper-to-middle-class neighborhoods in Renton, the district serves a recruiting ground for most of the nastier Sprawl players. Mafia and Yakuza constantly seek to tighten their grip on illegal services, while Humanis hits the high school crowd with propaganda (not without effect). Renton residents rarely go in for thuggery or mob violence, however, so racism is a private thing – so far.
Auburn, Population: 436,000
Bias: Anyone too fashionable attracts attention. Environmentalists have a bad rep here.
Auburn is Seattle’s Blue-Collar district extraordinaire. This area produces a surprising portion of Seattleites goods, as well as large portions of the components for items assembled elsewhere. Although a good portion of the bounty is exported to the Pacific Rim, more is shipped out to the Amerindian lands – Auburn is the safest and easiest route from Seattle to California or the American west.
All the factories here do have their cost. Auburn has a solid economy, but little conspicuous wealth. Some areas within it are quite polluted, and more than a few factory owners find it easier to bribe inspectors than clean up their waste according to the law. Residents don’t like the pollution, but they angrily denounce environmentalists from outside Auburn. recent eco-terrorist actions have only further hardened the district’s attitude.
The district has several major sites of interest. The Clone Zone Mall, which isn’t even a formal mall so much as a collection of electronics stores of every description, offers two floors of paradisiacal computer mayhem. Diamond Deckers, which has their manufacturing facilities right in the mall, makes clone computers (hence the mall name) of Fuchi products. Both United Oil and Federated-Boeing, as well as Algona Community Hospital, operate research labs respectively devoted to petroleum products, advanced military aircraft, and new surgical methods. The F-B facility is particularly important because they also make most of their military jets in the Americas as this site, and security is extreme and deadly serious. Bowmen Metal Works is a traditional metal-parts company and offers custom services as well as everyday stamped or molded parts. But these are only a tiny part of the hundreds of manufacturing sites in Auburn.
Auburn also hosts (with all the parasitical implications thereof) a small independent town called Stuck. Named after Mitch Stuck, who owns every square foot, the story of how this turned into an independent township is a tale and a half. Virtually everything and anything is legal here, and what isn’t gets a pass because Lone Star has limited jurisdiction. The Feds watch it closely, but they can’t easily shut it down or prove a damn thing. Mitch Stuck is known to law enforcement as a close confidant of the Seattle Mafia.
The Mafia in general have a lot more influence in Auburn than the Yakuza, but so do the district’s Seoulpa Rings. The Yakuza have resorted to gross violence to assert some power, but both the Mafia and Seoulpa would rather cooperate than let the yakuza get a toe-hold. The mafia control the district’s traditional shipping unions, and sublet their chip and drug sales to the Seoulpa Rings. Aside from some semi-legal casinos, the Yakuza have very little of consequence here.
A number of gangs operate in Auburn, many of which spilled over from the Barrens. These are almost universally quite small, and the district’s residents tend to be tough, non-nonsense types who reliably carry their own firepower. Muggings are not common, and the gangs prefer to keep quiet so as not to attract too much attention. Besides, they get by quite reliably on drug sales.
Snohomish, Population: 130,000
Bias: Snohomish is a quiet place. Many residents look with suspicion on any outsiders.
Snohomish, along with the sea and some outlying areas of Redmond and Puyallup, provides much of Seattle’s food products. The area is still fairly rural, although with farms and ranches rather than forests. The farms are mostly large corporate concerns today, but enough family-size farms survive to give the district a homey character. A few wealthy individuals own handsome estates here.
The agricultural basis of Snohomish’s economy doesn’t mean it lacks shadows, however. Snohomish is currently seeing serious conflict between many of those family farms and corporate competitors who desperately want the land. Buyout offers and strong-arm tactics are proliferating and small farmers are striking back with low-level terrorism and threats. Racial tension is also on the rise, as many human residents see metahumans as a whole as unwelcome newcomers.
Blackstone’s Museum and Zoo is a private, for-profit zoo. It offers special services, bringing people into real physical contact with many normal and paranormal animals. It specializes mostly in harmless meta-varieties. Many Seattle schools bring children here to visit and learn about the creatures. Agri-corps, such as Ingersoll and Berkley, Green Star Foods, and Snohomish Society Farm produce vast quantities of food here. The district has few manufacturing sites, but those it has are high-tech businesses dealing in specialty goods like Kingsley Precision Metals’ alloys or Edmonds Instruments’ aircraft components. Snohomish has good hospitals, but it simply doesn’t have enough of them. Many locals go to clinics instead, as it may take extensive travel to reach a major medical facility.
Snohomish happily avoids heavy gang and syndicate infiltration. Only the small urban-town areas have drug and gang problem, and the limited market keeps them in line.
Fort Lewis, Population: 118,000
Bias: None. Many businesses offer discounts for military personnel.
Fort Lewis is Seattle’s main military base, a cross-service camp with a few unique oddities. Army men and Air Force personnel mostly inhabit the base, but the Marines maintain their own force here as well (Navy servicemen have bases closer their seadocks). Colonel Gage is the commander here, and he does not tolerate much nonsense among the troops or civilians. The entire district is his playground, and while civilian zones exist, the area is guarded by Military Police. Break the law here, and you just might wind up in the military prison at hard labor (casual crimes are rare here anyhow).
Having its own town and some nice tourist attractions, the Fort Lewis area makes a decent income, even sitting out on one end of the Metroplex. The Fort itself has a small but clean hotel primarily meant for visiting relatives of soldiers, and the classy Gates hotel sits close to the Zoological Gardens. Speaking of which, that Fort Lewis zoo is one of the best in the world, an incredible display of paranatural animals, with a sound reputation for getting the damn things to breed in captivity. (The zoo has a surprising level of security, as a lot of people want to steal its data.) Visitors should then take a hike – out into the beautiful (and safe) wilderness managed by the federal Forest Service. If you want a more exciting afternoon, check out the Urban Combat Simulator, a modern-day Hogan’s Alley fought with heavy armor and rubber bullets against live opponents. Though kept quiet, it’s rumored that civilians can get into the game themselves if they’re prepared to carry the armor and get clubbed in the head.
There are no gangs in Fort Lewis. The syndicates do, however, have some notable influence here. They sell drugs and a lot of prostitutes, catering to soldiers enjoying some R&R. Hopefully their efforts to acquire decommissioned military hardware have failed, although they would prefer to sell the items on the black market than start a gang war here anyway.
Redmond, Population: 698,000
Bias: Everyone hates your metatype. It doesn’t matter what you are, or what they are.
If Seattle Downtown avoided urban blight and poverty, Redmond did not. Once one of the largest computer technology business centers in the world, Redmond’s economy crashed. Panic took over when primitive Black virus code killed a number of top programmers and executives throughout the district. People started to leave as companies collapsed and jobs vanished. At first these events were quiet and orderly, but various calamities and societal collapses mounted, people steamed out of Redmond. Squatters moved into abandoned buildings. The people who remained contended with rising poverty levels and government apathy.
Into this mix came the syndicates and gangs, who found a fertile ground for smuggling, recruiting, drug-peddling and manufacture, and even safe houses for operations based elsewhere. Through corrupting local officials (which wasn’t hard, as many needed syndicate cash just to eat) they gained a great deal of influence of politics. Even worse, fears manifested in weird prejudices about metahumans, as ordinary citizens became fearful over their failing civilization. This prejudice might have quietly died, but many metahumans fleeing the Night of Rage settled in Redmond, often displacing human squatters in the process.
Still, Redmond isn’t the worst district in terms of racial violence. Most people are busy with making a little money and getting through the day, and humans so outnumber metahumans that neither side really cares to make an issue of it, or have big racial gang conflicts like Puyallup. People don’t often go looking for trouble in Redmond – there’s enough to avoid as-is.
And that is a lot of trouble to avoid. Redmond is a tough town, with tough people. Squatters here are known to waste each other over a morsel of food, while gangs feud over turf and syndicates assassinate anyone who crosses them twice. And frankly, nobody cares. Outside of a small area near Renton and Bellevue, legal business are few (mostly heavily guarded factories… and bars). The rest of the Metroplex has largely written off Redmond, as well as much of Puyallup, and nobody is interested in what goes on there.
But a lot of important stuff goes on in Redmond nonetheless. Syndicate and corporate training grounds dot the area. Apart from the infamous neighborhoods like Glow City, the Plastic Jungle, and the Rat’s Nest, Redmond features some of the hottest, and toughest, rock halls and clubs in the city. Places like Crusher 495 and the Jackal’s Lantern are starting to attract local talent and out-of-state hard rockers who want to move up to the big time. Anyone willing to play in such a rough neighborhood definitely isn’t a poser. The real attraction, though, remain The Skeleton. The Skeleton, or “The Bonehouse” as locals call it, has a special box for serious talent agents on a weekly basis. Competition to play there is fierce, and sometimes violent.
Companies such as Carnation-Seattle, Hollywood Simsense, and Monohan vehicles keep the economy going; all three have put down roots and won’t leave no matter how many squatters, gangs, or syndicates try to muscle them out.
Puyallup, Population: 906,000
Bias: People stick to their own metatype here. Violence is a common “social outlet”.
Puyallup is a strange place. On the one hand, it’s a crime-ridden hellhole. On the other, it’s one of the most eerily beautiful places in the Metroplex. You can roam for hours, or days, among the semi-wild hills, and even in the urban sections it’s less densely populated than Redmond. What you should understand, however, is that there’s no help if you get into trouble. Rescue services probably won’t come, and the cops definitely will not (unless you’re incredibly powerful of the friend of someone who is).
Carbanado and Tarislar are home to the district’s metahuman orks and elves, respectively. Hell’s Kitchen is a nasty ash-strewn mess which sprawls over southern Puyallup; its borders shift with the wind – and if anyone hauls out a bulldozer. The actual Puyallup neighborhood is a bleak middle-class town. It has decent money, at least, but few prospects for growth. People tend to be a little paranoid, simply because they know that criminals and gangs routinely come around to steal anything they can get.
Petrowski Farms and Kenston Aircraft Interiors (a close associate of Federated-Boeing) are two major area employers, and the source of a little legal money. Hell’s Kitchen Tours offers breathtaking sightseeing opportunities. Other than that, the big money is in criminal activities. The Crime Mall showcases this, with an anarchic array of “alternative” attractions, away from the areas Lone Star ventures into. Much like the Redmond Barrens, Puyallup feature several notable nightclubs and concert halls, such as the infamous Underworld 93 and Loveland Quinn’s.
The syndicates and gangs do not influence Puyallup – they own it outright. Simply put, you can’t do business here without them, and you’d be a fool to try. The syndicates don’t fight much, because there’s little to fight over except a little turf. Their real resource, new recruits, are in plentiful supply.