Bug City Express
Welcome to Chicago!
Chicago is located in the state of Illinois, in the UCAS, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Until 2055 (at which point data became unreliable) Chicago was the second largest city in the UCAS with a population just over four million in the city proper, and suburbs that brought the sprawl’s total over 20 million.
The thing to remember about Chicago is, despite the fact that the Downtown areas (and most of the suburbs, for that matter) are extremely dangerous, completely unregulated, and have a lower camera density than most other places on the planet including Antarctica, the UCAS government still technically controls the place, and there are still people living there, so watch your step while you grow eyes in the back of your head.
The Zone (main page), also called the CZ, Containment Zone, or CeeZee, is divided into the seriously dangerous Core and the slightly less hazardous Noose. Surrounding the Zone is the area known as the Corridor, consisting of Northside, Southside, Westside, and the O’Hare Subsprawl.
The mafia scene is split like mad, but includes the Milwaukee syndicate, the local Chicagoans, and the newly arrived Detroit outfit.
Ares is the only corp with a major stake in Chicago proper, but Renraku, NeoNET, and Aztechnology have been pulling strings in some of the sub-sprawls. Ares subsidiary UnlimiTech Inc is probably worth special mention.
Other major Chicago groups include the Astral Space Preservation Society, Spire Enterprises, The Hive Consciousness, The Demolishers, The Ghoul Liberation League, the Chicago Anarchist Collective, The Swamp Thangs, the True Chicagoans, the Southside Combine, the Humanis State, Orphanage, the Maker Collective, the Joint O’Hare Police Forces, and the Aleph Society.
In 2018, Chicago-based ESP Systems Inc. announced the first generation of simsense technology. Local media conglomerate Truman Technologies immediately bought them out.
2025 saw the Southside Revitalization Project begin, including construction of a monorail. Many new businesses appeared to serve the growing simsense industry. The then inhabitants had to relocate, replaced by the mostly metahuman workforce slaving away in the chip factories and warehouses.
The Crash, February 8, 2029, was a major setback for Chicago’s simsense and electronic entertainment industry, forcing many factories to close down.
On February 10, 2039, the terrorist organization Alamos 20,000 bombed the Sears Tower. The whole building collapsed, and nearby gas lines exploded, causing an estimated 26,000 casualties. The area, plagued by ghosts, would come to be known as the Shattergraves.
In 2053, the passing of the Cabrini Refuge Act created the UCAS’s first official enclave for ghouls and other HMHVV victims. Ghoultown, as it would come to be known, was at first beset by violent protestors, but for the most part, this marked the end of the UCAS debates on ghoul rights.
On August 22, 2055, insect spirits spread in the city. On August 23, the UCAS Federal Government declared a quarantine area between Lake Michigan and Des Plaines River. Officially, the Chicago Containment Zone was established against an outbreak of a new strain of VITAS.
On October 1, 2055, a nuclear bomb was detonated near the Cermak power plant in the center of the CZ. Officials declined to comment, but it has since been revealed that this was the work of Ares Macrotechnology operatives, attempting to stop a hive that was investing thousands of spirits into hosts. The blast radius was a lot smaller than it should have been, but the radiation is much more intense, even fifteen years later. The blast knocked most insect spirits throughout Chicago into a form of astral hibernation called ‘torpor’.
In late 2055/early 2056, the virtual network Shadowland publicized information about the presence of insect spirits in Chicago. Public outrage at being deceived, and what to do about ‘Bug City’, played a large part in the 2056/2057 UCAS presidential campaign.
On February 22, 2058, Ares Macrotechnology launched Operation: Extermination, first spreading the anti-magical biological agent FAB-III to weaken the insect spirits and entering the Zone with Firewatch teams. Acknowledging the end of the threat, the UCAS government lifted the quarantine, revealing an urban warzone ruled by gangs and warlords.
In 2059, reports confirmed that the FAB-III strain remained active, despite official lifespan predictions. Ghouls and other dual-natured creatures, as well as ghosts, were becoming incredibly scarce due to the strain’s predation.
2063 saw the partial reopening of the Calumet Harbor, relieving the traffic volume of the makeshift, accident-ridden docks of nearby Gary, Indiana.
The Crash 2.0, in the fall of 2064, ironically found Chicago one of the safest places to be, with its lack of infrastructure. The O’Hare and Calumet Harbor reclamation projects were temporarily halted, but other than that, the city barely noticed.
The first reports of lessening FAB-III activity were reported in 2069, but it left most of Chicago’s astral space a desolate mana ebb.
In 2070, amid the technomancer scare, local Mafia boss Marcus Quinn was accused of being a technomancer, and hung from a streetlight less than a day later. Syndicates from Milwaukee and Detroit both tried to muscle in, with the Chicago crew splitting up into dozens of independent operations.
On January 1, 2071, the census revealed that Chicago’s population had increased for the first time since 2055. Independent enclaves were springing up throughout the Corridor.
Tips for running in Downtown Chicago
*Travel in groups. If you need to see someone alone, have your escort wait outside.
*Pay a local to watch your ride while you’re busy, or leave someone outside to guard it.
*Pack meds. Raw metahuman waste is the least toxic of things you might touch, and it’ll still kill you.
*Always keep an eye on the sky. Many dangers come from above, such as Wasp spirits or a sniper’s bullet.
*Be wary of strangers. Nobody in the Zone is what they seem.
*Avoid obvious or inviting routes through buildings or streets. They’re probably booby-trapped.
*Forget treasure hunting in abandoned buildings. Anything worth taking is already gone.
*Be careful when working magic in the Zone; check for Awakened plants that might indicate a normal mana area.
*Never climb the Wall, it’s impossible to predict stable paths. Pay the toll at a cleared passage instead.
*Never drink the water. Pack bottled. Swimming is highly discouraged, too.