A Historical Overview of the City

From the city's origins to its modern-day landmarks, you'll find everything you need to anchor your characters and concepts into the world.
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IamLEAM1983
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Elysium and the Chimeras (ELI)

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One of the most striking discoveries about Paradise's multifaceted and cutthroat society wasn't its technological level or the level of self-reliance the borderline-derelict state the former penal colony was in – it would be the fact that other humans and Karthians had beaten the official team.

In 1966, Valery Kostya, Michael Sanderson and Elke Anders had been living amongst the Paradise natives for a few months. The Russia-born Karthian was surprised to find a few of his people to have natively adapted to the colony, and was shocked to find that other Grayskins had arranged for the transport of assets and personnel belonging to Terran organized crime syndicates. The purpose behind this would remain nebulous, as no official Terran authorities could not exercise their judistiction on alien soil. At best, one could assume that stories about deregulated markets for the development and sale of augmentation technologies would provide unique investment opportunities, provided the interested parties would be able to venture off-world. The mob answered the siren's call in several countries across the globe, with Japan emerging as the leading purveyor of Black Market cyborg-related implements.

Back home, the first known attempts at cyberterrorism shook the DARPA offices and briefly forced the Pentagon in a week-long blackout, in June of 1966. Each time, the attacks were preceded or followed by a staggered radio signal being apparently sent from Armstrong Station. The Elysium Manifesto was its contents, demanding the unconditional surrender of all mundane and mortal authorities to certain designated immortal “handlers”. Several of those named in the appended list were interrogated. Among their numbers was Aldergard Kuhn, who replied that it would be foolish to believe he seeks to claim control, seeing as he himself drafted the laws which he has made sure to abide by. Jailers, he held, might abuse of their privileges. He, however, sought to liberate his peers from anonymity – not shackle them in the myriad requirements of public life. These measures that were put in place were created in order to prevent abuse, he held. Anyone simply seeking power would have simply taken it.

Still, initial outreach efforts began to take place, and relations between Earth and Paradise quickly became civil, if somewhat distant. The station natives had spent thousands of years assembling a largely cutthroat society ruled by basic common sense and one's ability to perform under pressure. The newcomers' expectance of some form of rule of law was obviously considered as not only odd, but slighly offensive, as well. Thankfully, Tyler Renny of the Dusters was able to keep the scientific team safe for the duration of their preliminary studies, and to see them returned home with the least amount of harm done to them possible.

Over the next few years, Orion Shuttles and Tobolenski Imports would begin to expand and take hold of near-space travel and of the task of ferrying goods and personnel to and from Armstrong Laboratory, the abovementioned scientific colony based on Luna. Regular trips to Paradise would soon be charted, this serving as the Earth's introduction to the Credit system. No Terran currency having a significant value on the space station – safe for perhaps guns, blades and well-dosed threats – the visitors were obviously forced to adapt to this new locale's monetary traditions. Today, frequent flyers tend to own a credit chit; which is essentially a non-expiring debit device. Change counters may convert any amount of Terran currency into a standardized amount in Paradise Credits, and transfer these virtual funds onto the user's chit. These small, poker chip-like devices are old and weathered in appearance, even when fairly recently machined. Their fairly simple data storage method and their versatility as memory-expanding devices also make the trade of counterfeit, preloaded chits or of hacked amounts ubiquitous problems that only do seem to be problems in the eyes of outsiders. As far as anyone knows, the station's slipshod economy functions only because the currently leading gang is typically sufficiently savvy as to understand the importance of guarding and protecting the credit transfer servers.

From 1967 to the very eve of the Battle of Hope, in October of 1975, a kaleidoscope of humanoid and not-so-humanoid life forms began to mingle with the natives along the streets of most of the world's metropolises. Those lucky enough to have reached Paradise only a few generations ago tended to have names and specific cultural beliefs to maintain. Those whose heritage stretched back to the time of the Riot – the near-mythical disruption that cost the Wardens control of the facility and freed the Drifters – were not so fortunate. In any case, the space station had rapidly homogenized beliefs, political stances and general cultures into the resolutely Syncretic and Agnostic mish-mash people like Tam Zainall may call their family's native climate. Not that Earth would not adapt, considering the slew of minor religions most statistics on the subject can't account for.

This period also saw the rapid expansion of Mammoth Engineering Solutions, a company established by Henry Smith, a mammoth anthro. The influx of alien talent provided the Smith family, a recent addition to the city's power players, with the ability to move beyond the simple conceptualization of trusses, support structures and large-scale frames and armatures. In 1969, in fact, the company was rechristened as Goliath Corporation, having emerged as a leading figure in engineering and consumer electronics. Their acquisition of Hyperion Biologics, a small company largely led by Rupert Isaacs as head researcher, would allow the developing mega-corporation to develop in new – and retrospectively unfortunate ways. Indeed, some of the patents and research documents filed by Isaacs for the benefit of his new parent company were stolen very shortly afterwards. Isaacs himself, however, quickly became M.I.A. To this day, no one knows the whereabouts of the eccentric and obsessive bio-engineer.

As before, the Terrans proved their tolerance and ability to accept those differing from the norm in rather disparate ways. Hope, having always leaned towards the Left, seemed largely poised to accomodate any and all special needs some of the aliens encountered. Some sported digestive systems attuned to levo-amino acids, like most humans, anthros and dragons, among others, while others were required to be allowed to synthesize or produce their own food, depending on dextro-amino acids, instead. Entire food chains and restaurants had to be implemented across the world. Obviously, some saw this as an invasion of our millennial homeland. The Fae, in particular, could be criticized for lacking the ability to walk a mile in the aliens' shoes...

In any case, and predictably enough, intolerance was and still is on the menu. Just as right-wing groups jumped at the chance to accuse the Vienna Accords' signatories of the evils of this world, there came a chance for them to put forward Terran-centric organization. The Terra Firma Party, a radical division of the Republicans, would shame anyone who'd believed the Accords marked the beginning of a period of widespread tolerance or that the aliens could expect to live amongst us in assured peace.

Thankfully, the events leading to the Battle of Hope would rapidly prevent the serious emergence of armed and dangerous ethnic cleansing groups. Caliban's escape from Paradise and his travel to Earth would scar several young imaginations over the next few years, and his meeting with Philip W. Noel, Governor of Rhode Island, would mark the end of a fairly strange six-month period in Hope's history. Wishing to escape Elysium's Earth-based collaborators, Caliban spent his first few months living in Hope's sewers, where he befriended the local Circus and its Ringleader, Arthur Holden.

By this point in time, the Drifter model of industry had already begun to mingle with the Terran and Karthian considerations that had already been established. Experiments in cold fusion began to take place, technologies that would seem to exist purely as prototypes in our 2013 were glimpsed at in Hope's seventies – and mages, notably, began to feel increasingly left out of the loop. Previously essential arcane figureheads such as Amazo were being increasingly relegated to theoretical research. Some ten years would need to pass, at which point the Chimeras would have integrated in the general population, for sufficient progress in the study of Arcane Exclusion Fields to be made.

October 1975 marks the beginning of the Battle of Hope, with dropships of an unknown origin even to Earth-based Paradise natives pummelling one of America's jewels. The chimeric beings that emerged from them had been eluded to by Caliban, who had since then been taken in as a ward and source of inspiration by Henry Smith, CEO and founder of Goliath Corporation. In very short order, however, Caliban Smith's intelligence on his cryptid brethren would prove invaluable to the Department of Defense. This would eventually see him in a gubernatorial office, and Henry's biological son, John, at the head of Goliath's board of directors.

With Archie and Bucky reawakened to deal with this rather poignant crisis, a crack team of two Clanks and of the city's best and brightest superhumans and supernaturals was assembled to deal with Caliban's twin brother, Gregory Rendell. The T-Rex was almost able to tap into the Centennial Tree's power but was stopped in the nick of time by the assembled group. With the country poised to launch ballistic missiles on its own soil and the nuclear option spending weeks creeping ever closer, the final defeat of Elysium's patriarch was a huge relief for the country and world alike.

Unfortunately, Elysium's new organic life – the Chimeras – had been able to deploy impressive amounts of destructive power. The city was almost razed in the conflict, off-world and inter-State near-orbit evacuations filling the skies over the Battle's duration. Ultimately, while all loss should be mourned, the devastation would provide Goliath with the chance to grab the servicing contract of a lifetime. Not before burying its founder, however, as Henry Smith had perished in the chaos.

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The Aftermath (AFT)

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In some ways, the Battle of Hope heralded a new dawn for the city. Able to use a combination of super-resistant and ultra-light alloys with environmentally friendly technologies, Goliath was able to deploy its best and brightest teams in the task of rebuilding – and improving on one of the country's oldest industrial centers. The old subway system had turned into emergency lodgings for survivors but was quickly gentrified, turning into equal parts underground condos and buried, yet scenic pedways to be used in order to hoof around town while avoiding high traffic areas. Much to Arthur Holden's displeasure, the Freaks were left in the dark as a result of everyday corruption and poor city planning.

Above ground, super-tall structures began to be erected, with skybridges becoming a rather common sight at multiple levels. In contrast, most houses and condos were designed from the ground up to remain as relatable as possible, in terms of size and design. Old concepts belonging to the Victorian Era were revisited, with the blimp supercarriers serving as inspiration for entire floating office complexes, attached to their parent skyscraper with high-tension and flexible cables, along with a pressurized skybridge.

Perhaps in light of Goliath's relative responsibility in Isaacs' creation of the Chimeras, the Hope-born mega-corp began to be known for a starkly apologetic stance towards design. Even as the Transgenic Investigation Commissions of 1988 and 1990 shook the nation, Goliath became known as one of the most self-conscious models of “Big Business” America would have ever seen – while Ruthven Corporation was revealed to have facilitated the data theft leading to the Chimeras' creation. John Smith became quickly recognized for his lack of pachyderm-worthy stubbornness in the areas of growth and diversification, and for how much he also exemplifies this very same trait, in his dogged persistence in ensuring that not a single division in his company can be criticized for lacking in ethics or deontology. Some call him a doormat, others believe his worries are justified, but what is known is that the post-battle Goliath has earned him a Nobel Peace Prize. John Smith is well-known for his furious refusal to allow a single one of his company heads to attempt to exert a monopoly in the pharmaceutical and augmentation technologies, for instance. Goliath could very well have trounced Microsoft in its ever-increasing development into an “omni-consumer” provider, but the CEO has personally stamped out certain developments that could have pushed the company into monopolistic territories – at the risk of losing a considerable amount of capital.

When asked why this seemingly unattainable model of ethical perfection concerns him so much, John replies that Gregory Rendell's ideology is a result of rampant deregulation and basic greed. The corporate sphere is an ideal breeding ground for sociopaths, he believes, and traditional attempts at money-grubbing or sector control would simply provide Elysium's supporters with ammunition for their claims that mortals are fundamentally unable to police themselves adequately. This is somewhat founded as Goliath is, more than any other business on Earth, targeted by attacks perpetrated by pro-immortal or pro-supernatural terrorist groups.

The early nineties saw the unexpected return of Eiko Kazamatsuri, Caliban's educator in Paradise, as well as his accession to the Governor's seat for Rhode Island, as a Libertarian. In 1993, with Hope's re-inauguration looming closer and new facilities at the Department of Corrections having been built to house the transgenic criminals, Governor Smith disbands the Commission and reforms it in order to carry out trials against his own brethren. Most Chimeras seem to view this as an act of treachery, but some Saurians and Fauns will actively step up and defend the procedure as a whole. Spearhead, notably, actively lobbies for his right to actively be incarcerated for the expected period of ten years. Aspasia, on the other hand, receives an unconditional pardon, thanks to the efforts she took in order to have her own troops only act as an occupation force – going so far as to help humans and anthros to stay out of harm's way.

In 1995, the Caliban Smith Rehabilitation Center – commonly referred to as Chimera Row – is inaugurated. Despite the name, the triple-max prison will come to house far more than simple transgenics guilty of war crimes. In due time, convicted supercriminals and immortals will also come to serve time in the Row. This is obviously deemed to be controversial, as many had championed for the mass euthanization of transgenics, mentioning the huge costs of keeping these beings locked up.

Those ten years, from 1993 to 2003, will see Caliban and Eiko marrying, as the woman receives ocular implants and is pardoned for her involvement with the Yakuza, who had been Isaacs' primary backers on Paradise. Takeshi Watatsumi, the lead enforcer for the Five Hundred Dragons Yakuza clan and Watatsumi's faithful Wanderer, had been able to put a rather ruthless method of vengeance in place, before his death. Takeshi's next body had her blinded on Watatsumi's orders.

Notably, Gregory Rendell himself would be transferred to his own seperate compound in the Row, in 1994 and would awaken two years later, with one hand encased in magic-resistant cybernetics and his body and mind still very much poisoned by the Tree's raw power. Slowly and steadily, in a process known to be ongoing even to this day, Rendell would begin to suffer through the excruciatingly slow version of a lich's normally fairly fast creation process. Quickly enough after the expected period of rehabilitation, his relations, resourcefulness, seductive streak and intellect allowed him to essentially resume his previous lifestyle from within the taxpayer-procured confines of the prisoned designed for him by his brother...

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The Pieces Fall into Place (PIE)

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By 2003, Spearhead had managed to complete his self-imposed sentence and to obtain a post as Wyvern Securities' head of Operations. Caliban was and still is very much is in office, and so is brother in effect, John Smith, who continues to champion revolutionary, yet responsible technological and arcane developments. Alexander Ruthven's predictably epic fit of depression is still well underway, with his Boston headquarters having devolved to rapacious boardroom executives dicking each other over for a cut of whatever profits are still to be made.

With the Vienna Accords and their restrictions, the city's criminal elements seem to rest easy in the knowledge that no empowered titan with a bottomless purse seems poised to steal their crown. Following Joseph Bizzi's death at the hands of Mike Callahan in the thirties, the local hoodlums have organized into an elusive Commission, with Weasel Reginald Biggs acting as its chairman. Following in the footsteps of the great corporate criminals of Joe Bizzi's times, every gang leader or lead mobster may count on the support of an advisor, who himself reports to the chairman. Thanks to this system, which was largely borrowed from Lucky Luciano and the necessary means to run State-wide operations back in the day, the metropolis' lot of brigands is able to share information between gangs and maximize their collective survivability in the face of the law.

From 2003 onward, very little seems to have changed, except for the nature and form of Elysium's both online and physical acts of terrorism. Every so often, Governor Smith makes a trek to the Row and confronts his doppelganger, hoping to extract information enough to incriminate him in a Grand Jury trial. Every time, despite his best efforts, Rendell has nothing to show except his crass ability to manipulate the prison personnel – or to have them be manipulated in his stead.

We come to 2025, the game's present day. Hope has known twenty years of peace, prosperity and development. America and much of the world have been spared supernatural horrors or further extraterrestrial invaders. Even Anastasius Romanov, who had been imprisoned and maintained in Stasis for over a hundred years following the collapse of his regime, has been reformed thanks to Archie and the Crimson Spirit. You'd be hard-pressed to recognize the telepathic dictator from yesteryear in today's Russian-accented Grayskin, who seems to have shifted his interest towards extremely conceptual forms of art and the occasional overly emotional poetry reading. Professionally, Anastasius is nothing more than a spokesperson and minor shareholder for Alkaev Armatures, a Clank, weapons and cybernetics manufacturer based in Moscow and holding business offices in Hope.

Even the much talked-about Red Scare was eclipsed by the Battle of Hope, with formerly staunch Soviet figures such as Lev Kirilov becoming softened Social Democrats – and a Political Sciences teacher at Hope University.

Today, the roaring fire of local curses and rapid development or dizzying changes in Industry and Technology seems to have died down to more comfortable embers. The Buck family's curse is contained, rapacious undead are kept medicated and fattened underneath a leaden blanket of depression, the Fauns are rediscovering their lost arcane origins, and dragons grocery-shopping alongside average mortal salary-men has become commonplace. Vampires have virtually become indistinguishable from their mortal peers, if based solely on their resumés or professional experiences. The Arcane Exclusion Field has been patented and is part of every single electronic device on the planet, allowing Mages and Wizards of all talent levels to rock their portable music players (or water heaters, thank God) like anyone else.

Today, Hope is one of the largest population centers in the country, with over nine million people calling it home. It stands as a large import-export hub, both on land, on sea, in the air or out in space, and is known to be at least partly self-sufficient, based on Pickman Sound's serviceable fields and orchards. Boats based in Mertown trawl the Atlantic's shoals or line the coast, looking for mussels, urchins and other small, edible forms of marine life. Hope is also known to be a leader in the bio-tech and transhumanist currents, as well as a quality training ground for intellectuals of all stripes. Hope University, initially founded by Tubalcain Buck, stands as one of the nation's respected Ivy League institutions. Architectural firms have often commented that working for a design project put forward by the local City Hall is both an honour and a tremendous challenge, seeing as John Smith's wide-reaching connections enable him to act as a rather harsh critic of less environmentally-conscious high-rises.

Not everything is as it seems, however. Superhuman or supernatural crime leaves a sense of dread or pressure in the air that seems to act as a deterrent to everyday felonies. With the HPD's divisions performing above expectations, mundane crime has more than taken over. Hidden under the spit-shine is a web-work of corrupted officials or strong-armed urban development officials pressured into giving Weasel's Commission whatever he and his associates need to prosper, with the aging superhumans of the fifties and sixties having either integrated in mundane law enforcement or simply allowed themselves to retire. The most the city seems to need to face, as of late, involves the results of Zebediah Buck's continued attempts at honouring his dead and estranged wife's angry requests for a physical form all her own.

Some of the more law-abiding immortals or long-lived individuals know something is brewing, however. That old dread, that old pressure, is right there – right underneath the contentment and the rightfully earned comfort...

Aldergard Kuhn, specifically, is well aware that it's now only a matter of time.

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