REDMOND AT GLANCE
Brain Eaters, Crimson Crush, Crimson Fist, Red Hot Nukes, Rusted Stilettos, the Spiders
Redmond used to be one of the wealthiest and most successful communities of greater Seattle. In the 20th century, it was a major center for the burgeoning computer industry. Huge office complexes and skyscrapers sprang up along with suburban homes as businesses expanded and moved into the area.
In 2013, a partial meltdown of the Trojan-Satsop nuclear plant contaminated Beaver Lake and the surround- ing area for several kilometers, creating what would come to be known as “Glow City.” A lot of Redmond residents began leaving the area for greener (and less glow-in-the- dark) pastures as property values plummeted. Then came the Crash of 2029. Redmond’s primary industry vanished overnight. Some eighty percent of local businesses collapsed.
A large number of residents simply left, leaving behind defaulted and foreclosed homes and businesses. Lured by the abandoned apartment buildings and condoplexes, numerous war refugees and Seattle’s homeless began moving into Redmond. This led to further violence, more flight, and more empty buildings, repeating and reinforcing the cycle. In the space of a few years, Redmond became a virtual ghost town, inhabited by criminals, transients, refugees, and those unable or unwilling to get out. The metroplex government shifted focus away from shoring up Redmond to “containing” it, effectively walling it off (literally, in some spots) to keep it from “infecting” the rest of Seattle.
The Redmond Barrens are practically lawless, where possession of the smallest amount of food or the least valuable trinket can be a reason for someone to kill you. Weekly convoys of armed trucks deliver food to the district’s few stores and charitable shelters, frequently attacked by roving bands of squatters and gangs looking to steal the shipments.
Around half a million live in Redmond today. The actual number is difficult to determine, since most of the population is SINless and it’s impossible to do an official census. Backgrounds are diverse, but the percentage of metahumans is relatively low, owing to violence from the Night of Rage and similar incidents, and metahuman flight to Puyallup. Orks make up the majority of metahumans in the district, followed by various changelings, still a relatively new phenomenon, and somewhat more evenly spread throughout the metroplex.
The Mafia and the Yakuza run Redmond far more than the local government. Since even legal goods are difficult to get, the black market is massive, including daily necessities like food and medical supplies, followed by entertainment ranging from pirated trid, sim- chips, and BTLs to booze, porn and similar money-makers. Arms sales tend to be small unless the mobs are arming their own gangers and soldiers for some kind of war, which they do frequently. Neo-feudal allegiances to the syndicates are a common way for people to survive, so long as they don’t draw too much attention from the other side.
Yakuza and Mafia recruiters keep their eyes out for promising new talent in Redmond, especially from the local gangs. Working with the syndicates is one way out of the gangs and offers the promise of wealth, respect, and hitting “the big time,” although most prospective “made men” get nothing but a body bag at the end of the day.
Redmond’s terrain is mostly flat, with a few hills in the southern part of the district. The winding path of the Snoqualmie River domi- nates almost a third of the district. The river is filthy, choked with toxic sludge and other refuse (including the occasional bloated corpse). Packs of devil rats hunt all along the shoreline, some of them further mutated by whatever is in the water.
Apart from kilometers of abandoned buildings, the cracked and deteriorating streets, and the vast slums and squatter “towns,” the most distinctive features of the Redmond landscape are the “toxic castles,” the various factories and corporate manufacturing plants. Plenty of them do look like techno-Gothic structures of rusting metal and soot- covered brick, surrounded by high walls topped with razorwire and moats of their own poisonous filth. Armed guards patrol the ramparts to keep the facilities safe from squatters and roving gangs while most plants ship materials in and out via helicopter or tilt-rotor these days, to avoid having to bring trucks through the streets.
> positivelytoxic. --Ethernaut
Redmond is officially divided up into a series of neighborhoods or districts, but is better known for its unofficial divisions that mark out the real territories of the Barrens.
The area nicknamed “Bargain Basement” used to be home to the most upscale apartments and condoplexes in Redmond, but that was forty years ago, before the Crash. Now, most of those buildings are slowly decaying, occupied by squatters or claimed by slum landlords backed up by criminal syndicates, their power coming from illegal hookups. A three-bedroom luxury condo once owned by a single corporate middle manager is now home to three different families sharing the common kitchen area and making do with boiling water on a hot plate since the stove stopped working years ago.
The Mafia and Yakuza both have a lot of influence in Bargain Basement, where life is cheap and people are desperate. The black market is pretty much the only one, and little street bazaars spring up in parking lots, narrow alleys, and other public spaces, offering what-ever the people there have been able to scrounge or steal up for sale.
The small community of Monroe, near the Salish-Shidhe border north of the Snoqualmie River, was at the center of the worst air disasters in Seattle history when a spaceplane—carrying Corporate Court Justice David Hague—crashed there in 2059. The explosion and ensuing fires destroyed structures in a nearly three-kilometer radius, and killed most of the area’s few thousand inhabitants. The remaining fuel on board the spaceplane was sufficient to cause fires hot enough to fuse the ground into glass at the center of the crash site. One of the worst side effects of the crash was damage to the nearby Seattle Metroplex Reformatory. The prison was in pretty bad shape even before the equivalent of an explosive ICBM hit Redmond. After the crash, hundreds of prisoners rioted. A mass jailbreak ended in the deaths of most of the prison guards and staff, with the prisoners in control of the facility, the largest intact building near the blast-zone.
The Metroplex Guard and fire-control teams from Franklin Fire Services managed to contain the damage from the crash (although we’re talking “contained” inside a large area, and often involving fire-breaks created by blasting buildings). Before Governor Schultz could make any decisions regarding the Crash Zone, she was lost inside the Renraku Arcology and Governor Lindstrom had more important things to worry about than some damage to an outlying area of the Barrens. So the devastated area was abandoned and it didn’t take long for the squatters to move in. The former inmates from the Reformatory quickly claimed control over the whole of the Crash Zone and began scavenging whatever they could from the ruins. The zoners fiercely defend their territory using weapons from the former prison, but they are allowing squatters to set up in the area, so long as they recognize their authority.
The partial meltdown of the Trojan-Satsop nuclear plant in the south-eastern area of Redmond some sixty years ago contaminated Beaver Lake and the surrounding land for kilometers with radioactive particles. In 2028 Shiawase Atomics built a new plant next to the rusting hulk of the old one, reasoning that the already contaminated land would be available for development on the cheap (they were right).
After the Ghost Dance War and later the Crash of ‘29, squatters and refugees moved into the abandoned area nicknamed “Glow City,” taking over empty buildings and facilities and setting up their own tent cities and ghettos. The metroplex government made some token attempts to remove them, but quickly gave up, and the squatters stayed. Since then, the transient population has continued to grow, despite the incredibly high death rate from cancer and radiation sickness, to say nothing of the massive infant mortality rate and some of the hideous radiation-induced mutations. Some magicians have done their best to help the locals cope using healing magic, but their efforts are too small to make much of a difference.
The existing squatter population has seen an influx of some changelings from other parts of the Barrens and metroplex. There are also persistent rumors of all kinds of freakish creatures living in and around Glow City, although (hopefully) most of them are urban legends.
The Plastic Jungles are quite a sight, even by Seattle standards. Acres of dirty grayish and tattered canopies of bioplastic stretched high overhead from support struts create a near-tropical world underneath, warm and filled with greenery, the rainwater and (to a degree) the air filtered by the bioplastic netting and the plant-life. There are small trees and bushes, creeping and climbing vines, and exotic flowers in every color of the rainbow, filling the air with a heady scent. Under the foliage are tents and shelters built out of discarded bioplastic sheeting, scrap wood and plastic, thatching and materials harvested from the jungles. It is a strange indoor-outdoor rainforest on the outskirts of one of the largest cities in the world.
Back around the turn of the century, a wealthy agriculturist built a series of massive greenhouses in northwestern Redmond, near Echo Lake. The tent-like buildings were several kilometers across and stood on land considered too polluted with toxic contaminants to grow anything. The agriculturist proved the skeptics wrong — almost. The land yielded amazing harvests of food, but most of it was too contaminated for human consumption.
So the greenhouses were converted to grow tropical plants and flowers until the Crash of ‘29, when the owner lost his entire fortune and the complex went into receivership. As the depression left by the Crash worsened and Redmond was slowly abandoned, nobody bothered to look after the place. Since then, the abandoned agrdomes have become home for much of Redmond’s metahuman population, the various plants and flowers allowed to grow wild.
The metahuman squatters in the Plastic Jungles are understandably mistrustful of outsiders, especially humans. They are organized into neo-primitive tribes, living off the land. Ironically, decades of land-reclamation here have worked and managed to clean up the area enough to grow food again. This makes the Jungles targets for Barrens gangs and scavengers looking to steal harvests and food supplies.
Officially the North Seattle Refuse and Reclamation Center, the Rat’s Nest is a huge, open-air landfill several kilometers across. Just north of the Snoqualmie River, not far from the edge of the Salish-Shidhe border, it is a regular point of contention between the metroplex and the Sovereign Tribal Council, since toxins from the dump leech into the soil and groundwater and refuse to respect political borders for some reason.
Well over a thousand squatters live in the Nest in makeshift huts and tents on, in, and around mountains of garbage and refuse. Some of the squatters pick through the trash for anything usable for themselves or to sell on the black market, and you would be amazed at the kind of stuff they find from time to time. The trash-rats, or gomi-nezumi, as the Yakuza call them, have a real nose for finding things. They have managed to salvage tech, weapons, clothing, building materials, and other treasures from the trash mounds.
The only marginally safe area of Redmond borders Bellevue, near the offices of the so-called Redmond District Government. Known as “Touristville,” this is where the tourists and slummers from other parts of town come to experience the thrill of “the Barrens” and hang out in sleazy clubs.
The last major eruption of Mount Rainier sent tons of ash pouring down on the south and eastern parts of the Seattle metroplex. One heavily affected area was the border between southeast Redmond and Salish-Shidhe territory, now known as the Verge. Both sides of the border largely washed their hands of having to clean up or deal with the ashfall, since they had other priorities. Federated-Boeing negotiated the purchase of the land with the metroplex government, largely as a public relations move. There were press releases, video statements, and a little ceremony about how FB could develop the area, then nothing. Maybe the whole stunt didn’t generate as much good press as FB hoped, or they just lost interest. Whatever the case, the squatters soon moved back into the area, taking over the empty buildings and storefronts, digging things out as best they could, and life (such as it is) resumed.