Continuum II – Dark Japan

   Recent History:

   In 2026, Japan deployed the first of a long series of solar power satellites. Now able to provide power to remote locations with ease, Japan began to rapidly expand it’s economic base in the third world – and soon announced the “creation” of the new Japanese Imperial State. Despite having to deal, like most of the rest of the industrialized world, with an aging populace, Japan’s influence was at a peak when the global plagues broke out – apparently the result of military research gone terribly wrong. By the end of 2040, more then 30% of the global population was dead. Despite an excellent medical system, Japan’s tightly-packed population proved terrifyingly vulnerable to contagion. The retroviral legacies of warped genes soon sent a second panic sweeping thru desperately race-conscious Japan, sending it’s historic prejudices against handicapped, foreign, and minority, individuals soaring to heights which remain a desperate problem today. The Japanese belief in “punishment for spiritual contamination” as an explanation for malformations, along with the idea that such contamination might be “catching”, provoked mass violence when another wave of plagues broke out in 2046.

   At least the second great plague – and the death of another 10% of the global population – had a calming effect on the riots. Crowds meant exposure.

   Already afflicted with massive social problems, in addition to an economic near-collapse as local fusion plants began supplanting Japanese solar satellites in 2052, Japan was ill-prepared for the global economic crash of 2058. A nation which – thanks to soil exhaustion and a shortage of arable land – imported more then 50% of it’s foods and raw materials could not withstand a global economic disaster. Desperate efforts to expand the production of synthetic foods somewhat alleviated the disaster – but starvation, emigration, and rioting swept through the country again. Still, the settlement of Japanese citizens around the pacific rim set the stage for the expansion of Japanese military influence once more.

   By 2064, Japan’s food supplies were more then adequate, a massive rebuilding program was underway, and sheer exhaustion had led to stability. In 2037 the Diet instituted a policy of deploying Imperial troops to protect expatriate Japanese in unstable areas. By 2070, this had resulted in the gradual development of De Facto Japanese “imperial enclaves” scattered about the pacific rim.

   Unlike most of the world, Japan still has a well-organized government and a functioning (If badly overloaded) social safety net. Food, some basic (public health vaccinations and so on) health care, basic clothing, and shelters, are generally available. Sadly, the administrators tend to be officious, nosy, and authoritarian. Those with reasons to hide – such as the various mutants – stay away.

   Current Nipponese Statistics :

Japan has a current population of about 60 million – somewhat less then half of it’s peak value. It is, however, at least 80% urbanized. The major cities include Tokyo (8 Million), Yokohama (~2), Osaka (~2), Nagoya (~1.5), and Kyoto (~1). Buddhism and Shintoism (Often combined) are the primary religions, but other groups are well tolerated – if relatively scarce. The country is extremely mountainous, chilly, and extremely well-watered. Volcanic and tectonic activity is common. Major industries include fishing (This is quite a bit more dangerous then it used to be, since the mutagenic retroviruses affected many species), electronics, biotechnology, and heavy equipment. Unfortunately, major industrial export production has been superseded by local facilities in the new global economy. Imperial Japan is a constitutional monarchy – as well as being one of the few remaining states to maintain a notable conventional military force (In part because there is no significant distinction between it’s police and it’s military). Japan also maintains a serious commitment to educating it’s population – although, at the lower social levels, this often means little more then making sure that educational programs, small rewards for passing standardized tests, and cheap basic computer/entertainment systems are available.

   Kyoto :

   The imperial capitol for 1074 years, Kyoto hosts a vast (2000+) array of Buddhist and Shinto shrines, some 60 museums, extensive gardens, the imperial palace, and assorted tombs, castles, and relics. Manufacturing and industrial facilities are scarce in Kyoto, but it has extensive research and corporate administration facilities, as well as being the center of a thriving trade in traditional handicrafts and tourism – which serves to support the subcorporate economy.

   In a city which is heir to a thousand years of imperial tradition, it is a rare week in Kyoto which doesn’t offer some kind of festival or major event. Most have several.

   Geographically, Kyoto is surrounded by mountains and hills – which supply it with numerous springs and small streams. Nearby, island-studded, lake Biwa is Japan’s largest body of fresh water. The city has close ties with the cities of Osaka and Kobe, which – with their metropolitan areas (and Kyoto) – make up the “Hanshin Conurbation”, housing a total population of about ten million. Transportation includes airports, a network of “Bullet Trains”, and an extensive bus system. While motorcycles and bicycles are common, the ancient road layout of the city means that larger vehicles must be severely restricted. Private vehicles, and taxis, are extremely scarce.

   Major landmarks in Kyoto include; the Old Imperial Palace, two royal villas, Nijo Castle, Sanjusangendo Hall (With it’s 1001 statues of Kwannon), eight miles of Hozu Rapids, the Gion Amusement District (and it’s famous Geisha quarter), Nanzen-Ji (perhaps the oldest center of Zen Buddhism in Japan), the cherry trees of the Heian Shrine, Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji (the “gold” and “silver” pavilions), the magnificent extravagance of the Sambo-In Gardens, the world-in-minature of the Katsur Gardens, Saiho-ji (the Moss Temple), the rock garden of the Ryoan-ji Temple, the viewing platforms of the thousand-year-old Kiyomizu-Dera, Todai-Ji (and it’s 53-foot Buddha), Katsura Imperial Villa, Byudo-in (the Pheonix Temple), and the towering To-ji Pagoda. More modern landmarks include the “floating market” and restaurants along the river, convention halls, major universities, the exotic foods of the Nishiki Market, and any number of teahouses, minor shrines, theaters, and museums.

   Kyoto Statistics;

   Population; 1,063,200 (Est). Approximately 55% are dependents in one way or another – and it is believed that less then 5% are “unofficial residents”. Most of the population is human, due to the powerful japanese prejudices against mutants. Mutants maintain a “significant” presence in the nearby mountains – but are (supposedly) rare in the city. Per Capita Income; 36,000 Cr, 20% subsist below the poverty level. \

   Special Notes;

  1. Unlike most of the world, Japan has no market for “donated” human organs. It is, after all, one of the world centers for biotech.
  2. Kyoto, as an ancient cultural and religious center, has a very powerful Empyrean presence – as well as an auric “background rating” of 2. For those hackers who are sensitive enough to interact with the web in it’s empyrean aspect, as well as it’s electronic one, this means that Kyoto will be a unique experience. It will also be a very dangerous one… The creatures of myth are alive and well in Kyoto’s network. Outhacking a systems engineer is one thing. Outhacking a god is something else altogether.
  3. Continuum II Notes: This world has a basic Empyrean Transfer Impedance of 2.2, although some few exceptional natural talents do manage to override this limitation. Along similar lines, the local laws are fairly “tight” (Limiting Resolve to 1/3 normal, and restricting most ordinary mages to a maximum level of 1/2 their intellect score) and there don’t seem to be any Manitou, Demons, or Gods – although some empyrean spirits assume similar roles. Most “priests” and “magi” are either vocational or roguish wielders of assorted “minor magic” skills. In general, epic magic, casual “resurrections”, dimension-warping effects, inventive genius, spellcrafting, super-hero style psionics, and so on, will not work.
  4. “Standard” lifestyles in Kyoto are more expensive then in most cities. Thanks to the shortage of usable space, apartments and residences also cost twice as much as usual if rented separately.
  5. Some of Kyoto’s more notable street gangs include (the) : Shi Lung, Ronin, Miya Tong, Kenshi, Bakemono, and Hengeyokai. There are a variety of rumors about the Hengeyokai; that they’re actually mutant psychic shapeshifters, that they have magical backup or members, that they have a clever bluff going – or that they’re actually a bunch of rich brats with fancy gear.
  6. Some local VIP’s include; Huan Okabe (Kyoto chief of police. He’s reputed to be incorruptible, but this probably isn’t true), Shighero Goro (The local Yakuza Oyabun), Kaoru (A mysterious “man” reputed to run the Tong infiltration of Japan. Reputedly a mage), Som Ki (Either a secretive mage, a messenger for a major corporation, or a con artist, all depending on who you ask), and Taiga Junzo (“Mayor”).
  7. Women are on far more equal terms then was at all traditional throughout Japanese history… While this trend began shortly after WWII, the drastic losses in the epidemics, the economic crash, and the rioting, gave it a tremendous push. The personnel shortage would’ve made it almost impossible to “keep the women in their place” in any case. The fact that quite a few of them had inherited major blocks of stock – or had taken up a sick/deceased husband’s job – made it impossible.
  8. It should be remembered that Japan possesses huge orbital facilities and practical – an orbital elevator, AKA a Beanstalk, commercial transport to and from them.
  9. Most Japanese are highly protective/possessive of kids. Most adults (25+ to really be seen as adult in Japan. 21+ for legal adulthood) remember losing kids or siblings to the plagues and/or starvation all too well.
  10. Mutants are not considered “human” in Japan – and have no rights. They’re “animals”. It is possible to purchase Japanese citizenship, but it costs. Human residents can buy citizenship for about 200,000 CR – but Mutants are a different story. It’s still possible, but he official price is 500,000 CR, and the bribes will probably quadruple that.
  11. The feudal tradition has a much stronger hold on Japan then it used to; the carrying of swords and light weapons is absolutely normal for “Samurai”, feuds and personal duels are permissible, the code of Bushido and and Honor are ruling forces in many lives, and “Giri” (Obligation) is the major “social currency” of Japan.
  12. Magic exists, but is very rare. It’s not generally something which can be “picked up”; you usually have to be born with it. Approximately 1 person in 10 is sensitive enough to be able to do things like feel the presence of magic or read tea leaves with a great deal of training. 1 in 100 will have the potential to learn “mystic” martial arts, low-grade psychic stuff, or a particular magical “skill”/power. 1 in 1000 has the potential of learning several “minor magics” (The usual level for a “Mage”) – and perhaps 1 in 10,000 has the potential for truly major magic. Since that can only be exploited by those with high level potentials as well, even potential Archmagi are 1 in 1,000,000.
  13. Like the rest of the world, Japan views psychic, magical, percipient, and empyrean-based powers simply as “Magic” – and deals with most of them with roughly equal competence. That’s one reason why arcane theory and research are such a mess; the planet isn’t entirely aware that there’s a distinction between powershaping (fire), pyrokinesis, sorcery (fire), and empyrean-based “fire magic” – which makes hash of their observations and theorizing.
  14. Weaponry is generally limited to the “High-Tech” level. Ultratech weaponry is bulky, clumsy, and mostly experimental. On the streets grenades and an occasional rocket launcher are about as far as it goes, and even that is pretty rare. Most people settle for the basic pistols and blades which the authorities are willing to “overlook”. Displays of military-grade weaponry and/or armor are a sure way to get the SWAT teams called out – and they’ve got more resources then any runner.
  15. Drugs, medicines, and antidotes, are sophisticated – but not miraculous. The hottest items at the moment are gene-tailored microorganisms designed to help the body deal with various difficulties. In the interests of controllability, these organisms are programmed to die off a few hours after they’re used. A variety of recreational, knockout, and toxic, drugs are available. Other items include Aneuron (A nerve gas antidote, 24 hour effect), Antishock (+6 End for survival checks), Fleshbond (Heals 1/round for 3D6 rounds. Don’t use it too often), Berserkerite (Induces a ferocity score of 3D6+6 until it wears off. Very dangerous), Menemosyne (Enhances learning and recall, may roll for “eidetic” feats), Detox/Purge (A scavenger microorganism. Gives a retroactive +7 End vrs toxins, drugs, and so on. It rapidly looses effectiveness if not given the time to get excreted before it’s used again), Boosters (These boost a particular attribute by 1D4. They’re usually highly addictive and often have side effects. Vitality, PS, and similar boosters are good for 4D6), Hippocrates (Supercharges the immune system, +7 End vrs disease), Docilator (A potent calmative and hypnotic. Often used as a “truth drug”), Antirad (+6 End vrs radiation, 24 hours), Ecstasy V (Aphrodisiac, uninhibiter, pleasure enhancer, and neural stimulant. Ultimate party drug), Morphite (Total painkiller, +2 toughness, but limited sense of touch), Regenite (5x base healing rate, lets user’s regenerate organs – very slowly), Narcosis (An extremely potent knockout drug, works on contact, and can used as a mist), Superman II (A potent stimulant. A large enough dose permits incredible feats – at the cost of extreme physical stresses), Anacept (A fast and reliable contraceptive for both sexes), Mood Shifters (Induce various emotions and moods), Danse (Shifts eye, hair, or skin, color as set when the drug mixture is compounded), Nightfall (Wipes a good deal of the victim’s recent (6-36 hours) memory), and Braindance (A neural accelerator/stimulator. Greatly enhances the abilities of those using neural interfaces, but also tends to cause epileptic fits and brain damage).
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