Population: 18 Million (Search +3)
Culture And Economy
Language: English, Spanish, Chinese
Status: -2 to 8
Government: Representative Democracy (Municipality)
CR: 3 (Corruption -1)
Military Resources: $2.7 Billion
Defense Bonus: +4
“Night City was like a deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button. Stop hustling and you sank without a trace, but move a little too swiftly and you’d break the fragile surface tension of the black market; either way, you were gone.”
The original “Night City” was a new “model” corporate city built between 2022 and 2028 on the site of the old Port Chicago and Concord Naval Weapons Station on the shore of the Sacremento River where it widens into Suisin Bay. The base had been closed in the wake of the Collapse and the bankruptcy of neighbouring towns like Concord and Bay Point in that same Collapse offered a unique development opportunity for a consortium of corporations led by architect-entrepreneur Richard Alix Night. Marketed as the “City on the Edge of Tomorrow”, it attracted investment from a dozen of the world’s largest megacorps and featured planned suburbs which incorportated some of the old area towns, a modern rapid transit system and corp-friendly laws.
However, the exclusion of unionized labor from the construction, and with it the traditional Mafia cut of the cake, brought terrible repercussions. Corporations weren’t interested in low-income housing, and many became homeless, leading to riots and a vast black/grey market. Richard Night was murdered – his assissin never identified or apprehended – and the city devolved into a battle for control between crime and corporations that would last several years. The police, riven by corruption encouraged by both sides, became utterly ineffective and street gangs proliferated. The war only ended when the Megacorps finally flooded the city with enough private security, equipped like an occupying army, to keep some form of order. It left a legacy of ruined “combat zone” suburbs and a corporate puppet administration which persists to this day.
Meanwhile, all the other large California cities had experienced the same kind of problems that had always underlain Night City’s woes: lack of municipal spending and urban sprawl-together leading to a polarization of have and have-nots, with attendant violence and destruction. Night City became, first, a metaphor for the entire NorCal metroplex and then the accepted nickname for that vast city of cities. When it was finally decided to give the metroplex some form of overall government and identity, “Night City” was the obvious name – and Night City Core, the original “model city” was the obvious location for the metroplexes offices and departments.
(Oldtimer gamers will have realized by now that the above allows GMs to use R. Talisorian’s excellent Night City Sourcebook for the Cyberpunk2020 game as “fluff” for the metroplex core. This is deliberate.)
Night City today is one of the world’s great megacities, built across the hills and valleys of 23 counties and taking up over half of NorCal Free State with it’s 32,000 square miles of suburban sprawl. Around 80% of NorCal’s entire population reside within the magacity’s limits, making it the 9th largest conurbation in North America. In so many ways, Night City is NorCal.
Administratively, the city is carved up into precincts based on the old metropolitan areas it now contains – each having half a million residents or more, as geography and traditional political/administrative boundaries allow. The largest is still San Fransisco. Each elects two Councillors to the Night City Council, on a rolling schedule so that each serves four years and there’s an election every two. Each of the 12 largest corporations (by payroll dollars) in the magacity also get a non-voting representative on the Council. The post of Chairman of the Council is largely ceremonial and concerned with the smooth running of its meetings as well as PR duties. The Council as a whole appoints (or dismisses) a City Manager who runs a professional, non-elected civil service. Councillors then take individual oversight rolls as Department Heads, with their Deputy Heads being the actual people doing most of the work. Thus the Deputy Heads and below of the city’s Police, Justice, Sanitation, Education Departments etc are actually appointed professionals doing the bulk of the management work, while the actual Heads are elected figureheads with mainly PR and oversight duties.
The climate is Mediterranean, with warm, dry summers and rainy winters. Pollution combined with cooler ocean air often creates the dense fogs for which the city is famous; the GM should treat the fog as having some level of Obscure (Vision) (p. B72), up to nine levels at times in some places, and often with some Toxic affect. Snow is all but unheard of in this warmer modern climate. Earthquakes are a continual though sporadic natural hazard, and all structures over 10 meters tall must comply with stringent building codes to ensure limited property damage.
The population is diverse; fewer than 50% are white, and nearly one-third are Asian. Night City is a frequent destination for foreign immigrants, especially from China and Latin
America; 40% of the population is foreign-born. Unfortunately, the homeless population is also large, and rates of violent and property crime are high.
The city’s main business is in the financial and hi-tech sectors, with several big-name corporations headquartered or having major offices there. The city’s Comfortable Wealth rating is misleading – a small number of very wealthy families skew the statistics and disguise the existance of a large section of the populace who are Poor or Dead Broke.
The Night City Core precinct is divided administratively (and socially) into districts. Pleasant Hill, Clayton, Contra-Costa , Carrington and Byron form a zig-zag of affluence heading to the Southeast – homes to higher-level Doles and the Glitterati – while Antioch, Keller Canyon, Mulligan Hill, Vine Hill, Docklands, Martinez and Pacheco are an arc of Prole arcologies and private communities interspersed with Doler habs (and worse) wrapped around the Core Area to it’s North. Shadelands, Bay Point and Pitts are where much of the thriving hi-technology industrial manufacturing is based. Older, more polluting industries often rub shoulders with Doles and Proles in Antioch, Keller Canyon and Martinez or are consigned to the margins of the greater city, especially over by Sacramento precinct. The thriving red-light area of the Core is in Vine Hill while the Core of the Core is famous for it’s towering corporate offices and other central civic amenities.
In any city, let alone a megacity, crime is rampant – and the big organized crime groups are still around. The area North of Core/Core is the territory of a Corsican Mafia offshoot run by an enigmatic man known as The Emir. To it’s South the Russians hold sway in areas where corporate policing doesn’t make it impossible. Off the Core map, the Coast is primarily Tong and Yakuza territories while inland there’s the Italian Mafia. That’s just a broad paint, however, and there are small enclaves of the various groups and other independents doted around the map
Having no natural enemies likely to attack, the NorCal military is essentially synonymous with the Night City P.D., augmented by reservist units who are “weekend militia” soldiers who can be called upon at need. Some observers wonder how well the NCPD would do against a concerted threat, given that their budget and manpower doesn’t even keep pace with the pace of normal megacity violence and crime.
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