The City of Riches
Plutopolis is a city visually marked by it's extreme and offensive wealth. The buildings are massive, soaring structures. These are not just high rises and skyscrapers, but Gothic cathedrals raised to the veneration of the gods of money, commerce, politics and power. Plutopolus defies conventional city building, and there are vast sections of 'under city' where poverty and crime are rampant, and large numbers of people survive on the mercy of the gold clad churches of the city, or the pittances doled out from the social programs. The city is monochromatic, black streets, black iron fences and bars, and black and gray stone towers dominate.
At night, the city lights up. The towers and fortresses of power and wealth are lit with a rainbow of colors, typically the colors and heraldry associated with the keepers of the monuments. Down closer to ground level, the colors burn down to a much more subdued hue, with sodium yellow and faded neon tube white, orange, and red predominating. In the under city areas, what light there is comes from old bulbs, and red lights, low frequency and cheap so as to not strain the grid, or draw insects to an part of the city already overrun with vermin and pests.
The City the Never Closes
Plutopolis is a relentlessly busy city, and it never sleeps, it never stops, and most businesses are open constantly. While there is less traffic, in cars, in mass transit, and on foot, most establishments are open around the clock. No matter how much Plutopolis has, it's not enough. There are more cars than the garages can handle, more clothes than the dry cleaners can clean, and only in the most desolate hours are there not lines to get into restaurants and other service businesses.
This is part of the fact that the city has very loose business laws and regulations, and a large portion of the night time workers are involved in less than savory businesses. There are massive casinos in the city, but there are gambling parlors on most corners, and are almost as common as convenience stores and fueling stations. Prostitution is legal, and somewhat regulated, so there is no shortage of brothels, gentlemen's clubs, and other establishments devoted to the sale of sex and sexual services. Like the more mundane services, there simply aren't enough bars, brothels, and drug dealers around to sate the city's bottomless appetite.
Moving to the City
Plutopolis is a massive city, housing millions upon millions of people, and it is divided into a large number of wards, these wards have their own character.
West - the West Ward is the oldest part of Plutopolis, and houses the oldest businesses, including the docks, the media and entertainment district, and the Old Money part of the city. West is peppered with baroque architecture, antique brickwork, and districts of shuttered and dilapidated industries. The city iron foundries, coke mills, shipping rail heads, steam plants, and coal fired power stations are in West.
Barrington- The Barrington Ward is the wealthiest part of Plutopolis, and has some of the densest concentrations of skyscrapers and megascale buildings. Barrington is built on two things, oil and money. Barrington is considered the social heart of Plutopolis, as the concentration of wealth not tied up in old families and massive trusts, because of the large number of clubs, entertainment venues, and social events such as sporting events, boxing matches, fashion shows, and conventions that are held in the ward. Barrington is also marked by the large under city it lords over, with a deep and rich gang and violence tradition.
Schumacher - Huddled on the coast, Schumacher is the little brother of West, with pretenses of taking over entertainment, but it is largely associated with the Boardwalk, the summer homes of the wealthy, and a certain over the top attitude that while rebelling against the opulent, conservative grandeur of Plutopolis, exists in a bizarrely similar vein of excess and vanity. The supermodels and spoiled rich kids of Plutopolis ride their jet skis, ply their yachts, and swim in waters just miles south of where West's industrial districts pump their waste into the ocean.
Asher - The Asher Ward is notable for it's medical complexes, high density residential areas, and what passes for bohemian culture. Like Schumacher, Asher is considered a lesser ward compared to Barrington or West, but it is a major powerhouse of it's own. Asher has the advantage of housing the Plutopolis Naval Yards, Air Force base, and army base, along with a collection of islands off it's coast.
Harlequin - The smallest ward of Plutopolis, Harlequin is densely populated, and most remarkable for it's massive amount of poverty, and crime. The ward also houses several prisons, and a variety of mental asylums. During the worst of the Plutopolis riots, the ward is blockaded until the violence is quelled, rather than risking police equipment and lives.
Van Ryker - The Van Ryker Ward is the youngest part of the city, and it's venue is electronics, technology, and communications. The rise of Bale has rivaled the economic power and importance of Barrington, creating a tense rivalry between the two wards, and Van Ryker's embrace of modern tech and communication is slowly breaking West's deathgrip on entertainment and media output. Many of the ultra-wealthy are leaving the other wards and their established pecking orders and constricted space for the slightly less established pecking orders and slightly more room of Van Ryker.
Power in the City of Riches
In Plutopolis, power is the ultimate currency, and almost everything is moving in a circular pattern, some things rising, some falling, and some simply feeding on themselves like the ouroboros. The only thing different between a hostile take over in a high rise and a mugging in the street is simply scale. The nature of the city is by default, predatory. For every business or industry, there is something more powerful, something that can kill it with ease, but just hasn't gotten around to it. Coal fired plants belch smoke and ash into the air, while miles away newer oil and gas fired plants do the same, and not far past that, stacks of cooling towers reveal the locations of nuclear reactors buried in the earth, all running to keep the city from experiencing rolling black outs.
Housing is the same, in the undercity, people crowd into barrack like bunks and berths cut into the walls, or improvised out of debris, residential complexes pack lower and middle class people into Tokyo-like efficiencies and tenements. Only the upper middle class and wealthy can afford something as vulgar as a stand alone house, and those who can afford houses typically have mansions girded with thick walls, bristling with security. Those who chose not to live the 'estate life' keep penthouses in skyscrapers, or have their own 'millionaire tenements' where instead of units, the wealthy own entire floors of high rises.
Crime is endemic and simply part of the culture in Plutopolis. As mentioned above, the only difference between mugging and corporate raiding is scale. In the high rises, corporations and business alliances dominate, and use largely the same tactics as the gangs that dominate on the streets, with the leaders of unions, corporate CEOs and gang bosses only differing in wardrobe and vocabulary. They all have their product to hustle, tools of intimidation, and vulgar displays of power and success. Again, the only difference is scale.
In the Shadows
The City of Riches is made of shadows and is full of secrets. Human misery, suffering, and horror underlies almost everything in the city, with most of the residents being unaware or uncaring about it. The industries and businesses that exist do so at the expense of the populace, seeing people as nothing more than cattle to be run through shoots for profit. The factories are unsafe, and the run off and pollution from the industrial districts are horrific. Disease is rampant through the working class, not just from work injuries, but from toxic exposure, smog, and unsafe building materials. The underbelly of Plutopolis is painted with lead and insulated with asbestos. Drug companies pump out pills, while lawyers pump out class actions and settlement cases.
Plutopolis lives by the golden rule, he who has the gold makes the rules. The city and it's immense wealth and power leave it functionally as a free city, the loyalty of the military forces there are owned by the city, and while it isn't the capital of any nation, many nations bow down to it, including the one it is in.
Gotham City of Batman fame is the strongest influence, but Plutopolis is much more than just a proxy for New York. Plutopolis is the largest city in the world, the wealthiest, the densest populated, and the most corrupt and crime ridden. It has Chicago/Moscow style politics built on a New York like layout, with Los Angeles's sense of excess. It is massive, and its pilings run deep as any Old World City, but the bustle and energy is entirely New World, but the same universal oppression runs through it. The giant buildings form their own ecology, standing like mountains, roads and canals are rivers and canyons cut through stone. The massive nature of the buildings, and the heaviness of everything is important because despite the energy, despite the things changing, it's all noise, and the megalithic structures are unchanging. The buildings are towers, fortesses, bulwarks against the lower classes, the feet of giants.
Plutopolis is larger than life and should have a grim dark comic book feel to it, a sense of collision and anachronism, where just because something is old and outdated doesn't mean it still doesn't get used, and the cutting edge of technology comes face to face with the relics of the past. As mentioned above, there are atomic power plants sharing the same grid with coal fired plants, and there are high speed bullet trains running on the same tracks with rumbling boxcar style trains, because they are cheaper and no one really cares if they get filled with graffiti or have to be taken out of service to have the blood cleaned out of one from a gang massacre. Plutopolis doesn't care.
Another stark level is the separation of the rich and the poor, and the non-existent middle class. The rich are insanely rich, in fine clothes, access to high quality health care, and the poor are blisteringly poor, wearing thrift store and Goodwill chic, and making it week to week in their apartments. The middle class is an illusion in Plutopolis, there isn't room for the Have Some's in the city plan. Those who think themselves middle class are just the upper cusp of the poor, and aren't living in poverty.
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? Responses (5)
Just another day in the big city...
Very well described in places. Awesome canvas for gaming (or in your case, awesome locale for a novel I imagine.) An entire world really, inside of a city. Besides Gotham, I get a bit of a Basin City vibe, along with for some reason, a fascimile of futuristic novels of the 40's, 50's, and 60's, decrying the 'metropolises' they describe.
As per usual, no positives are mentioned about 'life in the big city', of which there are many. Then again, I imagine that's by design. :)
There is more to Plutopolis than meets the eye, and everything was simply too much to put into a single mega submission.
Plutopolis is a world city, in that the players of a game are never going to leave the city because there is no reason to, this isn't a function like Dark City, there is a world that exists outside of it's borders, but aside from rare and specific missions there is nothing of interest outside.
Regarding positives for living in the Plutopolis: there are plenty of them.
Outside of the city, life is different, Plutopolis doesn't exist in our world, and traveling across the continents is going to reveal a landscape ravaged by violent wars, rampant poverty and banditry, and for the resident country (America) it is an absentee police state, there is no civil protection unless it's coming down on you. The American dream isn't to own a home, and have 2.5 kids, it's to move to Plutopolis, because the City of Riches, crime ridden as it may be, will never taste the misery of war or genocide.
Likewise, Plutopolis is plutocratic democracy, and the government changes, mayors come and go, and various other offices rotate, meaning that there are no petty tyrants lording over the city. The powers that be rather than embrace the innate and latent negativity of the city have a strong desire to see good people, honest people find their way to positions of power, and be replaced before they succumb to the corruption innate to the station.
Holidays in Plutopolis put our holidays to shame. Christmas sees the black buildings lit with holiday colors, and the corps and wealthy families put out their charity, and there are many public Christmas displays (heavy on the pagan aspect, light on the Jesus aspect). Same goes for other holidays, with parades, and ticker tape, and again the giant corps pumping money into said parades. On the downside that means there is corporate ownership and sponsorship of holidays (Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade) but on the upside, it has made these holidays more commercial, and more strongly recognized.
Out in the farmland, the government is holding farmers hostage for their food, and in the mountains there are tiny sectarian wars, and the air is smoke and the water is poisoned, but in Plutopolis there is a 97 float, balloon and marching band parade going on for St. Patricks day.
The followers of the God Mammon would be welcomed in Plutopolis, I would think.
Mammon's Palace is probably in West
Well, there is a lot to work with here. Many possibilities for its use.