Shadows of Baltimore
Shadowrun 4th Edition
2072- “Things are really changing, boy.”-Julio Ortiz
The year of the Awakening, what a magical time it was for us Baltimorons. I guess in hindsight, we’d always had our fair share of strife. The city has been marked by it (even us mundos can sense it in the air). Walk around W. Baltimore St., or Greenmount and North Ave. on a dark February night and you’ll feel it. The jealous eyes of the dead following you as you cross over the astral pock marks of their demise…
They say history repeats itself. So after the so-called U.G.E (Unexplained Genetic Regression) hit the city like a B&O freight train, it didn’t surprise those of us that actually paid attention in history class (while the hoppers where routing calls on their burners) that every meta man, woman and child was forced into makeshift “reprocessing” centers in and around the stadiums. First in 2011, then again in 2021. They thought it was contagious, so they cordoned off various neighborhoods like Ridgely’s Delight and Pigtown, to name a few. All throughways were barricaded, and checkpoints were installed. It was like what they did to the Japanese in WWII, except they didn’t ship them off to internment camps, they kept them right here in the city for everyone to see, just like in the city pen.
All metas were then re-gentrified into designated “target areas”, aka black neighborhoods and abandoned rowhouses in the West side. There were no jobs, there were no resources, but there were guns, drugs, and crime. Oh, and racial tension, lots of it. The poor blacks and whites didn’t much care for being pushed aside to make way for a bunch of Tolkien fanboy’s wet-dreams. Most of the adult U.G.E “victims” were thrown into makeshift families, according to their race. This created a number of problems. For one, most of the adopted parents didn’t want or have the means to take care of someone else’s children, and if they already had human children it made this all the more difficult. Two, those unwanted children were often thrown out onto the streets to take care of themselves. This led to the rise of a number of gangs like the Troll Guerilla Family, V.G.K, Park Heightz Killahz, Biddle St. Mob, D.S.P.C, Elven Vampire Click, in which the founding members banded together usually along racial lines for protection. These gangs formed tight bonds, strict and often brutal initiation practices, and fragmented hierarchical structures that made it tough for law enforcement to target a specific leader, because there weren’t any. Needless to say, those early days of the 6th World saw Baltimore descend into a chaotic and violent melting pot. Baltimore became the 2nd most dangerous city in the country per-capita, and this was before the riots.
During the 2020’s, a number of race riots tore through Baltimore City. The first in 2023 was the deadliest, and several dozen civilians, police, and national guardsmen were killed. The cause: the lack of food, the rise of violence against Metas from the authoritarian police-state, and racial tension in the West side sparked a series of confrontations with police stretching from Moravia Rd. to Franklintown. Gangs, Metas, and generally pissed off Baltimorons were cut down like blades of grass against a hail of Federal rounds. Makeshift barricades slowed Federal troops as they pushed through the city, while rioters took the opportunity to pelt them with bricks, bullets, and for the first time, magic. That’s right, the riot of ’23 saw the first use of magic against Federal troops on American soil. When Dunkelzahn was assassinated, things really came to a head. As much as I’d like to say that us humans had it coming, the Meta’s showed us just how vicious they could be. Granted, their back was up against the wall then.
Also during this time, a series of fires tore through the city, torching huge swaths of property and freeing it for repurposing. Rumors abound on what caused them. Some say it was the Fed trying to smoke out the city’s Metas and poor folk. Others suspect it was the corps trying to accelerate the urban renewal process, and make a case that the Fed and City Government had lost control, and it was time for them to step in and do the job the federales couldn’t. Others have various conspiracy theories because of the varying nature and unexplained supernatural phenomenon behind the fires. Fire investigators claim there were no overarching similarities between them, and the causes have never been substantiated.
After NYC got handed over to the Corps, the newly founded UCAS had an even greater interest in developing Baltimore as its foremost shipping/maritime/industrial port. Money was hemorrhaged into redeveloping the burned out shell of the Inner Harbor into a port able to handle the needs of the Corps. New channels were dredged; the Harbor itself considerably widened, and the Big Ten came home to roost above the rubble of the Old City. The population of Baltimore soared from a decades-long decline. Immigrants, new jobs, and capital flooded back into the city from abroad. Shipbuilders, biotech firms, railroads, whatever you can think of came to Baltimore to get a piece of the ever-widening pie. Really, all they did was slather paint over the Old City. It’s still here though, bubbling beneath the surface, waiting to show us all how little has really changed.
Fells Point/Canton/Highlandtown- Fell’s Point returned to its status as a fully equipped shipyard, not a bar crawl for boozed-up college bro’s. Canton and surrounding neighborhoods are home to a strictly human Shipbuilder’s Union, the 486. During the riots it was the only neighborhood besides Highlandtown that was unscathed. Union men lined the rooftops armed with rifles and not even the cops were allowed in (even in those segregated times, some of their members were Metas, or worse, agents of the Corps). Highlandtown as mentioned earlier remains the same, and some of those dusty old fronts still have the same items on the shelves. Route 40 was upgraded and widened to meet the new transportation standards, and a light rail system was built to bring in people from the County. As a result, the area has easy Highway access and has become prime real estate for yuppies moving back into the city that want a relatively safe place to live at a cheap price.
John’s Hopkins remains at the forefront of cyberware and bioware development, and is one of the chief employers in the city.
Baltimore Shock Trauma is the #1 destination for all Doc-Wagons in the city. If you receive a gunshot wound on the East Coast there’s no better place to be.
Locust Point/Federal Hill
During the federalization of Baltimore during the ‘20’s and 30’s, these areas were reinforced and upgraded to squash any chance of rebellion in Baltimore. MacAlister knew that if Baltimore got away Maryland might go with it, and they exerted the full force of the Federal smackdown from these bases. During the riots, Federal gun emplacements on Federal Hill shelled the city from its lofty vantage point, squashing most attempts for the rioters to band together, and forced them to rethink their tactics. The neighborhoods of Federal Hill as a result have become relatively safe places for the Corps and Fed to live, work, and play. Play is usually getting black-out drunk in one of the many horrible dive bars, and making the place almost as undesirable as the West side.
Elite corporate mansions, new-fangled high-rises for Hopkins trust-fund babies, and fancy restaurants. Otherwise, a nice place to spend an afternoon. A number of literary societies, the Peabody School, and the Walter still call this district their home. I hear the Baltimore Book Club even hired a Shaman to briefly resurrect Poe and H.L Mencken for their annual wine and cheese parties. Not amused, Poe apparently submitted to their lack of bourbon and endless prattling for another waking night on earth until he finally figured out how to possess one of the party-goers and leave behind the eyes of a corporate executive. Since then, a number of mysterious murders mimicking those of his novels and short-stories have been occurring around the city for the past few decades. Police believe it to be a copycat killer, but the air of malevolence left behind at the scene, the flowers left on the graves of his ex-wives, and a virulent new T.B. strain paralyzing the city in the 2050’s suggest otherwise. (Mencken apparently grab-assed the homely wife of the C.F.O from Saeder Krupp at last years function, he will likely not be invited back.)
West Side (the best side?)
The barricades erected to keep the Metas in eventually became gates keeping SINners out. The West is a essentially a no-man’s-land divided into ever-changing gang territories. These turf wars have spilled out far into the northern and southern parts of the West side. Forced labor camps tentatively maintained by the city have broken down into semi-structured crime colleges such as the Baltimore Insitute for Learning and Education (BILE) where the turnover spills back out onto the streets with new gang affiliations and a taste for blood. Interstate 95 has been diverted around this part of the city in part due to the number of residents taking pot-shots at cars, go-gangs running semi’s loaded with goods off the road, and setting up road blocks with the skeletons of burned out vehicles. Fort McHenry tunnel has been shut down for unknown reasons, and the new highway has been joined with 895.
Paranormal Activity has always been prevalent in Baltimore, but even the Exorcist would bleed gray matter out of his eyeballs in certain parts of the West side (and in the East). As I said earlier, with the amount of murders and unnatural deaths that have occurred in this city, it leaves a mark. You can try and hide those marks, burn them away, but they never disappear.
Call Yourself a Free City
By April 2068, the Feds relinquished control of Baltimore back to the City itself after heavy lobbying from city leaders and the Corps. Lots of people made a lot of money from this deal, especially then Mayor Walter Cummings, the first Meta Mayor of Baltimore. The city’s borders were extended to include more of Baltimore County and therefore increase the tax base, with added Federal money set aside to compensate Baltimore County and the State of Maryland for their loss, and new tax exemptions were granted to the Corps. Underlings of known organized crime members were elevated to positions on the City Council. The city was left with the hot sick the Feds left behind in their wake. What the Feds thought they could do better, they made worse. In the last few years, all we could do was try to pick up the pieces. To say things have gotten better is too optimistic, because better from utter shithole still leaves you with a shithole. As Baltimorons, the best we can do is hope we don’t track it inside where we sleep…because this shit smells, it smells bad.
- August 17 2070| 11:06 AM
On the CAS, I actually envisioned them in a radically different vein, with the folksiness serving as a veneer for a slickly sophisticated economic machine, in the same vein as the present New South… I once read an interesting article on that subject, talking about things like Civil War nostalgia and the political fights over cockfighting and the Confederate flag. The author’s basic point was that such things are largely a response to the shock and dislocation of postmodern American life… Sure you drive an escalade from your prefab McMansion to your job as a sales rep for a defense contractor or administrator at a chicken plant staffed entirely by Mexicans, but wearing Realtree, dressing up as JEB Stewart on the weekends, and exhibiting passive-aggressive good manners proves yer just as country as yer grandpaw ever was, right?
- August 17 2070| 12:20 AM
Added to this, all is not well in Dixie… by that point, the once proud economic motor of the Gulf oil industry (likely a major behind-the-scenes factor behind secession in the first place) running down, created an atmosphere of economic and social tension in which metahumans and foreign powers like the UCAS and NAN served as useful scapegoats to attract attention away from the megacorps… Likewise, the inevitable social opposition to a rigid formal culture proved fertile ground for runners and Johnsons alike… Ork train punx unite!!!
August 17 2070| 12:24 AM
there were a lot of reasons companies like aguadesign, shraeder intl and starcraft marine set up shop here. it wasn’t just like they got a bunch of incentives and strolled in handing out cash. with the south and california gone, the ucas was left with little choice but to roll out the red carpets and cut any and all red tape to bring the industry back. the problem was the unions. they wanted all sorts of guarantees. they didnt want the metas coming in and taking their jobs. now the corps have turned the tables and are using race against them to divide up the unions and tip the balance of power. just look at their numbers in the last 10 years….
August 17 2070| 3:12 AM
no one expected the riots to get that bad or last that long, people came out just to see it for themselves and got swept up. increased consumption and integration of social media early 20’s “flash mobs” allowed them to organize a large group of people in a short time. beyond that there was no real order. it was anarchy, but the people had enough. you failed to mention Chaundice Saunders and two other metas that were executed by bpd in the days before the riots is what really lit the fuse….
August 17 2070| 5:45 AM
I actually see the CAS in a radically different vein, with their folksiness serving as a veneer for a slickly sophisticated economic machine, in the same vein as the present New South… I once read an interesting article on that subject, talking about things like Civil War nostalgia and the political fights over cockfighting and the Confederate flag. The author’s basic point was that such things are largely a response to the shock and dislocation of postmodern American life… Sure you drive an Westwind 3000 from your prefab McMansion to your job as a sales rep for a defense contractor or administrator at a chicken plant staffed entirely by Mexicans, but wearing Realtree, dressing up as JEB Stewart on the weekends, and exhibiting passive-aggressive good manners proves yer just as country as yer grandpaw ever was, right?
The CAS is a “business-friendly” state largely created by the megacorps, but held together socially by a group identity centered around history and tradition… This sets up an interesting political dynamic, to me, with the bulk of CAS politicians being “our business is business” types drinking bourbon down on the golf course, but uneasily allied with a “real Confederate” policlub fringe itching for the day whn they can jump into their hovertanks and “teach the Injuns their place before blowing them goblins and wizards and s—t back to Hell or Mordor or wherever the f—k it was them boys came from anyway… whooohaaaw!”
August 17 2070| 6:12 AM
Have You Ever Longed for Robust Erection
Your time is Now!!!
#matrix tag# (removed by admin)
August 17 2070| 6:18 AM
um, are you on that drek? cuz no one without a SIN gets into baltimore shock anymore. snitches get stitches, and if you want much more than that you gonna hit up ja boy whos got a kit and hopefully some steripads. WAAAAKhakaShawn click we ROlliN!!!!
August 23 2070| 4:23 AM
This is the last time I take a job off craigslist.