Phoenix Bay Setting Compendium
Welcome to Phoenix Bay, City of Tomorrow and Pearl of the Golden Gate. The 4th-largest city in the United States with a population of some 3 million, it forms the heart of the greater Bay Area in California and was a nexus of superhuman activity. Located at the crossroads of East and West, high technology and culture, selfless heroism and ruthless villainy, this city's dazzling present is mirrored by its riotous and sometimes bloody past.
The city has risen from the ashes more than once. But its gravest challenge would come in the 21st century when a massive alien invasion nearly razed the city to the ground. The invaders were as mysterious as they were silent, wielded science and sorcery alike, accepted no parley and took no prisoners. Most of the capes gave their lives to defend its people in the city's darkest hour. The few surviving heroes launched a desperate suicide attack on the alien mothership, destroying its power core and ending the Invasion. The aliens, who came to be known only as the Armada, were never seen again. Till this day the reasons for the invasion and why only Phoenix Bay was attacked remain a mystery.
One year later the wrecked Mothership down by Lakeside is a tourist trap and a captured starfighter is the city museum's hottest exhibit. Business as usual has returned to the financial towers of the Glass Canyon and high-tech corporations buzz with activity around the Feynman-Yamaguchi Reactor. But not all is well and across the city, empty hero bases lie darkened and forgotten while gangs battle for dominance in the streets above. The old city centered on King's Junction is now the hideout for many a criminal mastermind. Smugglers and drug-runners take root in the docks of Liberty Port. The city's power-hungry mayor, Mr. Reginald P. Cooper, seeks to consolidate his influence. Lord Steel, a world-conquering tyrant from the future, has traveled back in time to terminate the leaders of the future resistance against his rule. All that stand between them and the innocents of Phoenix Bay are a generation of young heroes who have banded together to fight both new foes and old conspiracies. Now the city's greatest stories are about to be told and proudly again the Phoenix sings:
Adventures Assemble! IC/OOC
Phoenix Bay Neighborhoods
Beyond the Bay
The Planet Oziri
History of the City
1700-1848: Early Beginnings
1848-1906: From Gold Rush to Gilded Age
1906-1916: By Fire Reborn
1916-1937: Dawn of the Heroic Age
1936-1945: The Burning of the Bay
1946-1960: A Colder War
Last edited by Ysariel; 05-10-2017 at 12:00 PM.
Re: Adventures Assemble!
King's Junction is the old industrial district of the city, located just north of the Harborfront and the city's glittering downtown heart. The area is a maze of rusting smokestacks, corroding pipes, abandoned warehouses and dilapidated factories, some of which have not been used for decades. The city's original power plant, long since rendered obsolete by the Feynman-Yamaguchi Reactor, is located here as well, a mass of crumbling transmission towers long since looted for copper scrap. At night, sparse orange light from sodium lamps illuminate broken windows and empty streets. Few live in the area and fewer would brave it in the dark.
The area's confusing layout and forest of decaying architecture make it an easy hideout for villains. For this reason King's Junction has long had a crime problem and was witness to several titanic clashes between heroes and their super-powered foes. A few memorials to the most famous battles, now heavily vandalized, still stand. Some heroes built their secret bases in the area as a deterrent and to reassure residents of nearby communities. Today the old hero bases lie abandoned, their owners perished in the Invasion.
Kings' Junction was once the city's manufacturing district, dating back to the 19th century and situated here for its proximity to the city's old port (now the Waterfront). In its heyday legions of blue-collar workers operated factories that poured out a constant stream of goods and materials to the world. The businessmen who built their commercial empires here grew so powerful and so influential over local politics that some locals referred to them not merely as 'robber barons' but as 'the robber kings'. This area was then called 'Kings' Junction'.
The reign of the 'kings' came to a sudden end as the Great Depression hit. Factories closed and unemployment soared, and brothels and gambling houses set up shop. Smugglers and drug-runners used the complicated warrens of narrow alleys to evade law enforcement. During this time area acquired a stigma that it never quite shook off. By the time World War II arrived, the inadequacies of the old port at the Waterfront were acknowledged. Industry and shipping had already shifted to larger, deeper Liberty Port to the south and Kings' Junction never recovered.
Despite proximity to the city center, toxic pollution prevents the area from being used for residential development and the neighborhood's unsavory reputation discourages investment. While some factories and warehouses still operate, today Phoenix Bay's corridors of power are elsewhere, in the high-tech industrial park of Silicon Alley and the financial district centered along Glass Canyon, and this neighborhood's old name is all that's left of its glory.
Crime rates rose sharply in the aftermath of the Invasion as organized crime took advantage of the lack of active heroes to move into the area, utilizing it as a base for attacks on more affluent parts of the city. With police resources stretched to their limit, the Honorable Mr. Reginald P. Cooper, Mayor of the city, has called for a New Initiative against Crime and Evil (NICE) to strengthen law enforcement's ability to patrol the area effectively.
Street crime has fallen sharply since the hero Nightbird began making rounds in the area, however the more organized operations of smugglers and drug-runners persist.
Last edited by Ysariel; 07-05-2016 at 06:47 AM.
Re: Adventures Assemble!
Glass Canyon is a 0.8-mile-long street running east to west, bordered by the Harborfront and the Pacific Ocean on the west and City Hall on the east. It is the heart of Phoenix Bay's financial district and is lined on both sides by towering glass-and-steel skyscrapers that define the city skyline and give the area its name. The headquarters of major banks and investment firms flank the tree-lined avenue and its spotless sidewalks and landscaped gardens. Interspersed among them are a number of hotels catering to traveling executives, as well as a small but renowned luxury retail presence. A strict ban on signage above a certain height in the city ordinances maintains the street's clean, professional look. From City Hall at one end, it is possible to look all the way down Glass Canyon to the waters of the Pacific Ocean at the other.
While brightly-lit and safe, Glass Canyon has borne witness to the occasional spectacular airborne battle or rooftop chase along the length of the 'canyon'. During the day, men and women in smart business suits talk shop in the shade or sip expensive coffee at posh open-air bistros, while sunlight glitters off the mirror-like faces of modern skyscrapers high above. Things quieten down after dark as most of the office workers leave for home, but there is activity at all hours.
Once called Heritage Street, Glass Canyon is situated around the oldest core of the city center and was once home to numerous historic buildings. For most of the city's history this street housed major governmental buildings as well as the homes of the wealthy and powerful.
Throughout the 1970's the city's economy suffered greatly as American manufacturing and heavy industry took a hit. Citizens fled the decaying city center for suburbs in the heights above Glitter Falls as the area became a seedy symbol of Phoenix Bay's decline. The desperate and gritty conditions of the area inspired a generation of costumed heroes to fight back against crime and most of Phoenix Bay's great hero legacies date back to this era. However, the prime beneficiary was one Mr. Reginald P. Cooper, future mayor of the city.
Voted in on a platform of economic revitalization, Mayor Cooper made the controversial decision to raze the historic townhouses for new development. Generous tax incentives and a friendly local government attracted major financial institutions to the area. Cooper claimed credit for the fall in crime rates that the heroes risked their lives for, and the job opportunities and investment that the new tenants brought allowed him to quash the outrage at the destruction of the city's heritage.
One after the other, glittering skyscrapers of glass and steel rose along the avenue and gave it its contemporary name. By the 1990's the street had been turned into the clean, modern financial hub that it is today.
Glass Canyon's bright appearance hides dark secrets and its origins are far less transparent than its name suggests. Here, crime takes the form of financial espionage and insider trading instead of muggings and robbery. Rumors abound that the contracts for the area's development were awarded to flunkies and cronies of Cooper and that he is involved in millions of dollars worth of corruption. Even wilder rumors suggest that something important, something Cooper wanted to keep secret from the light of day, was destroyed along with the century-old buildings (including the old City Hall) that used to stand here. It will take a hero with incredible detective skills to navigate the maze of conspiracy that surrounds Mayor Cooper and the foundations of the Glass Canyon.
Last edited by Ysariel; 07-05-2016 at 04:20 AM.
Re: Adventures Assemble!
Located at the geographic center of the city, Mothership Lake sits close to the Santa Barbara river that flows through Phoenix Bay. This approximately comet-shaped lake and the surrounding woods and creeks are a nature lover's haven, attracting recreational boaters, water sports enthusiasts, anglers, hikers and more. The city has constructed boardwalks and a extensive city park hugging the water's edge.
At one end of the lake, a corner of the tetrahedral Mothership's iridiscent blue hull sticks out of the water to a height of 200 ft. Next to it is the Invasion Museum, chronicling the story of the alien attack. There is a section of the ship's interior open to the public as well as a memorial to all the heroes who died to bring the ship down.
The area that is Mothership Lake today was once home to several large parks and nature reserves, the green lung of the city. On the day of the Invasion, the heroes launching a desperate suicide attack on the Armada Mothership chose to bring the ship down here. The titanic impact wiped out the park, creating 6.7 square miles of freshwater lake fed by Placer Creek, a tributary of the San Barbara river.
After the Invasion, the military stripped the ship of any technology of interest, but the hull was judged impractical to move. The city government restored the area, constructing a city park surrounding the lake and various amenities.
The lake has attracted attention from more than just boaters and hikers. Criminals and the occasional supervillain are not above attacking the ship and the museum, hoping to find alien artifacts that the authorities have missed. Like the prospectors of the Gold Rush years, adventurous citizens comb the forest and creeks hoping to find some bit of alien technology dislodged from the ship. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement there is a thriving black market in "Armada stuff".
Many curious phenomena have been reported in conjunction with the lake. Strange creatures have been sighted in the lake or emerging from it, including a series of photographs that some say portray a giant grasping tentacle rising from the water. Others claim to have observed strange lights flashing from beneath the water surface. The crashed Mothership itself has a presence that many visitors find "unsettling" and which popular legend credits to the ghosts of heroes who died aboard. Sneaking into the Invasion Museum at night or skinny dipping in the lake (swimming is prohibited) is a popular dare among the city youth.
Recently, environmental scientists have reported unusual levels of radiation in the lakewater and have called for further study while emphasizing there is no danger to public health.
Last edited by Ysariel; 09-12-2016 at 02:57 AM.
Re: Adventures Assemble!
Formerly known as Northeast High Technology Park, Silicon Alley lies to the east of the Feynman-Yamaguchi Antimatter Reactor. Despite the name, Silicon "Alley" is not a single street but a large area of gentle, rolling hills -- once home to orchards and vineyards -- dotted with the campuses of high-powered technology companies. It sprawls all the way to the city bounds and is surrounded on all sides by expensive real estate that houses the technical and design staff of the corporations here. Here there are few high-rises but plenty of buildings with exotic, futuristic design straight out of a science fiction novel, interspersed with lush, flawlessly landscaped gardens. Neighborhoods in the area have quirky names that pun on computer science and technology, such as Dangling Point, Infinite Loop, Iteration Drive, etc. Delivery drones flit through the area on errands and self-driving cars ferry sleep-deprived engineers to work.
Phoenix Bay has always been home to a strong entrepreneurial spirit and with the completion of the Feynman-Yamaguchi Antimatter Reactor in the 80's, it was only a matter of time before high technology companies started popping up, fueled by a generous tax environment, cheap, plentiful energy, and a robust superhero presence. At the peak of the first tech boom in 1998, Iteration Drive -- the main trunk road through the region -- was the highest-priced real estate in the world due to the concentration of tech companies headquartered along the road. This area was then called "Silicon Alley" in contrast to the larger Silicon Valley area to the south. While the area was always a prime target for supercriminals given the exotic technology it held, the citizens here had a close relationship with their protectors and the area was home to the strongest superhero presence in Pre-Invasion days.
The bursting of the dot-com bubble hit the area hard and many promising internet companies went bankrupt. However, the lure of the reactor was impossible to resist and over the next decade, unconventional and cutting-edge startups moved into the vacated premises to take advantage of cheap energy and a highly knowledgeable workforce. This had a lasting effect on the techie culture of the city and the makeup of Phoenix Bay's tech industry. Today, while the San Fransisco Bay area draws companies from the mainstream consumer/enterprise market whose breakthroughs are mainly in software and internet services, Silicon Alley is home to corporations pushing the frontiers of science and engineering in exotic varied fields. Some of the major companies headquartered in the area include:
- Future Dynamics (robotics)
- Stellarium (aerospace)
- Atomicon (exotic physics, nuclear technology)
- Innogene Inc. (biotech, cybernetics)
- Amethyst Tech (AI, electronics)
- General Arms Systems (defense)
- Picobot (nanotech)
- Sysco Technologies (chemicals, materials science)
Silicon Alley was severely damaged during the Invasion as the Mothership's initial path of attack passed over the area. Companies suffered billions of dollars in damage, and memorials to employees and co-workers killed in the event were commonplace for months later. Lingering anti-alien sentiment from the event remains a year later, as seen by the anti-alien riot directed at local hero Grotesk, and has only began to die out with the Media Blitz incident. The destruction of the city's heroes has also led to a resurgence of supervillain activity, with criminals from across the States converging on the area to plunder its high-tech treasures.
The situation has only just began to recover as the Invasion has fueled a third tech boom based on interest in space exploration, alien technology, and defense. Security has improved with the arrival of the alien hero Grotesk, who works as a freelance security contractor and has been hired by Amethyst Tech. The company's CEO has herself joined the city's heroes. Attacks have dropped due to the deterrent effect and a number of other corporations have said they are looking to hire super-powered security agents as well. However, as researchers in the region delve into the Armada's secrets, some speculate this is merely a temporary reprieve as criminals adjust their methods.
Re: Adventures Assemble!
Located in the Alpha Centauri system, Oziri is the fourth planet in orbit of Alpha Centauri A. It is similar to size and mass to earth, and has both abundant oceans and a breathable atmosphere. However, Oziri is more twin to Mars than Earth, a desert world dominated by dry, sandy plains, naked rocky mountains and stark ice, the result of a massive ecological disaster in the planet's past from which it is still slowly recovering from. Oziri is also considerably colder than earth, that while survivable, are still too close to sub-arctic conditions for human comfort.
Ozirian plant life is largely fungal in nature, from several varieties of edible moss to mushrooms-like "trees and bushes"
finally, there is the "ghost fog", a perpetual thin-to thick white-to-gray mist that provides a maximum visibility of 1,500 metres on average, composed not of water vapor, but tiny nanomachines.
the dominant native life form, Ozirians are able to pass for humans, although they have a far wider range of eye and hair color. the main major difference is that their bodies are infused with nanotechnology, allowing them to survive comfortably despite Oziri's inhospitable conditions. the nanotech within Ozirian nobles is so advanced as to grant them super-powers. but all Ozirians possess what they refer to as a 'familiar', a free-floating holographic construct that acts as combination pet and personal digital assistant. in the past 30 years, the Ozirians have been interbreeding with another alien race, the Vorlick, who are taller and stronger than humans, and are blue-skinned.
Oziri culture is feudal, often resembling the cultures seen in the Planetary Romance genre, and the popular conception of ancient Egypt, where the nobility are regarded as living gods by their subjects, their arcology-palaces resemble futuristic pyramids, and, due to their nanotech, the general population are half-naked.
it is from these pyramids, or 'star tombs', that the Ozirians survived the cataclysm that befell their world. not only as a people, but in preserving what they could of their native ecology. as such, Ozirian city-states are jeweled oases in the frigid deserts, focussed on reclaiming and restoring their world
in addition to their enhanced physiques and star tombs, Ozirians possesses many of the standard galactic technologies: FTL starships, ship to surface teleportation, energy weapons, robots and the like, often incorporating advanced nanotech best described as 'smart matter', capable of self repair or melding with other smart matter objects. however advanced this technology is, however, it has stagnated in the centuries since the cataclysm.
Ozirian technology continues the 'Space Egypt' motif, with robots and vehicles designed in effigy of the wildlife, while major starships resemble flying pyramids.
As mentioned, Ozirian culture is feudal, the noble families of each city state organized under a "System Lord", who are in turn united under a planetary king.
at least, that is how it is supposed to work. the truth is that Ozirian nobility are generally decadent and self-obsessed, constantly plotting and scheming against one another to increase their standing, such that traditionally, the planetary king has been a succession of tyrants those who best played the game of thrones. that is, until recently...
the current ruler of Oziri is King Kron The Usurper, an alien slave and gladiator turned barbarian and pirate. Kron came to Oziri at the head of an army of escaped slaves, hoping to find his fellow Vorlick a new home to live in freedom. And Oziri was to be that home, after Kron had fallen in love with the Ozirian princess Mazra and overthrown her despotic father, King Rakos, who'd sought to make the Vorlick his slaves as he had attempted with the people of earth several times in the past.
Kron has ruled his people wisely, directing their attention outward and towards not only reclaiming Oziri's deserts, but to take steps back out among the stars and escape their millennia long reputation as "space flyover country". to this end, Kron his sent Qora, one of his daughters, to Earth, that Great Crossroads of the space boonies, thinking she would join with his old rivals, the Justice Foundation (Kron is unaware of their deaths saving Earth from The Armada). Since Qora's departure, other Ozirian nobles have turned their eye to earth for their own purposes...
Last edited by Kreuzritter; 11-28-2016 at 04:36 AM.
Re: Phoenix Bay Setting Compendium
History of Phoenix Bay
Welcome to Phoenix Bay, City of Tomorrow and Pearl of the Golden Gate. The 4th-largest city in the United States with a population of some 3 million, it forms the heart of the greater Bay Area in California and was a nexus of superhuman activity. Located at the crossroads of East and West, high technology and culture, selfless heroism and ruthless villiany, this city's dazzling present is mirrored by its riotous and sometimes bloody past.
1700-1848: Pre-Gold Rush Days
The city that became Phoenix Bay grew out of a small fort and religious mission founded by Spanish explorers in the late 1700's. They chose a location at the mouth of what is now the Santa Barbara river, within a protected bay divided roughly in two by a raised spur of rock that jutted out into the sea now known as The Roost. Abundant food, a sheltered port and the security provided by the nearby Spanish presidio led to the growth of a successful fishing village along the shores of Northbay, where the river fed into the Pacific Ocean. The less-populated Southbay would not be settled until much later.
In 1846, the U.S. Navy steamed in to seize control of the port during the Mexican-American war. Commodore Robert F. Stockton sailed in with his squadron of ships, taking control without bloodshed and surveying the area. On the day of his arrival he and his men climbed to the top of the Roost, the highest point in the city. It was late afternoon, when the sun was low in the sky and the seas calm. Before him lay the vast expanse of Northbay and Southbay, set aflame by the sun's golden light, like the two fiery wings of a great Phoenix. Awed by the sight, Stockton named the port "the Phoenix's Bay", a name that soon caught on with his men -- and the world.
Last edited by Ysariel; 04-01-2017 at 10:07 AM.
Re: Phoenix Bay Setting Compendium
1848-1906: Mid-19th century onward
From Gold Rush to Gilded Age
"Gold! Gold!" rang the exultant cry, and the world answered. It was 1848, and countless thousands poured into California in search of gold. Overnight, the sleepy coastal town turned into the beginnings of a bustling metropolis, where the sounds of construction rang out day and night and men combed the mountain slopes for gold. Sailors would desert their ships and strip the vessels down to build dwellings, which were then built around or above the abandoned hulls. The city grew outwards onto the water even as it expanded inland, and eventually some of those wrecks were buried underground, beneath the Harborfront where they remain till this day.
Prospectors of every nationality and race and religion came, and in their footsteps came even more people, businessmen and bankers and entrepreneurs to supply them with goods and services. In those turbulent early days the authorities were overwhelmed by the huge influx of people. Violence often broke out due to squabbles over placing rights or accusations of theft, and racial tensions ran high, especially between the large number of immigrant Chinese and the Californians. To preserve law and order, groups of well-meaning citizens, often led by a respected local citizen, would form up to protect their neighborhood. Some merely broke up fights and settled disputes, while others went as far as lynching suspected criminals. While these "Vigilance Committees" had little in common with today's brightly-clad, colorful heroes, they set a tradition of vigilante justice in the city and the wider United States.
Many small towns popped up surrounding the bay proper as people fanned out in search of gold. They were eventually annexed by the city of Phoenix Bay as it grew, but their legacy remains in the names they bestowed upon its neighborhoods: Placer's Folly, Rough and Ready, Boomtown, Fool's Gold, and more. Few of the prospectors ever found gold and these towns, lacking any real economy, soon became havens for gambling, prostitution and crime. Among the worst was the town jokingly named "Millstone" -- for the mill on its main street and the fact that it was only a "stone's" throw away from Phoenix Bay. The locals named it the Grinder, for it ground up people and spat them out, crushing dreams and hopes. The city tried renaming it Milestone, but the old name stuck. Every city has a bad part of town and even today this is Phoenix Bay's dark bowel of crime, a place where heroes aren't welcome.
As the Gold Rush waned throughout the 1850's the would-be prospectors turned to other avenues of wealth. Orchards and farms sprawled over the city's east and south. Factories sprang up surrounding the city center at Northbay. Rail links connected Phoenix Bay with the rest of the nation. Hardly touched by the Civil War, the city entered a phase of massive expansion and truly grew into a major metropolis. The American military had opened up Japan to trade in the 1850's and commerce with China grew rapidly through the rest of the century. Phoenix Bay became the gateway to the Pacific, receiving raw materials from all over the Orient and pouring out manufactured goods to Asia and the States.
The city's industrialists profited enormously from the growth in trade, and grew to dominate politics with their immense wealth. The entire city government was thoroughly corrupt and all were being bribed by one faction or another. Openly jockeying for local and national power, the captains of industry were called not merely the "Robber Barons" but "Robber Kings" by the working class, and their dominion, the industrial core just north of the old harbor, became known as King's Junction.
By the end of the 19th century Phoenix Bay was an overcrowded, polluted mess. The Santa Barbara river had become an open sewer where factories emptied untreated waste into water poisoned by mining. Thousands lived in overcrowded, unhygienic city streets laid down with little planning in the heady Gold Rush days. The skies over King's Junction were filled with smog. Yet the city was also a place of technological innovation and creativity, as engineers pioneered new manufacturing methods in the factories and electric lighting lit up the night sky. Cultures from all over the world blended and clashed to produce new ideas in art, music and poetry. Phoenix Bay had become one of the most cosmopolitan cities of its age with immigrants from every corner of the world. Nobody knew it then, but those turbulent early days of heady optimism, soaring ambition, seedy corruption, vibrant creativity, and occasionally violent conflict would come to define the character of the city for the next century and beyond.
Last edited by Ysariel; 04-01-2017 at 10:07 AM.
Re: Phoenix Bay Setting Compendium
1906-1916: Early 20th century
By Fire Reborn
On April 18, 1906, a tremendous earthquake struck North California. Phoenix Bay was located largely on solid bedrock and should have been spared massive destruction. But the Harborfront, old Port and city center, all built on land that had once been below sea level and raised by loose soil washed down the river by decades of mining, were wrecked as the silt liquified under enormous pressure. Hundreds died in the cramped and crowded streets where rescuers could not reach them. Worse, ruptured gas and electric mains burst into flame, and fire destroyed what the earthquake had spared. The fire department attempted to dynamite buildings to create fire breaks, only to cause more fires themselves, and some set aflame their own property to claim insurance money on policies that did not pay for earthquake damage. Thousands died in one of the U.S.'s worst natural disasters.
Phoenix Bay was immolated on the pyre of its own wild, rapid ascent.
It rose from the ashes almost as quickly. Almost immediately people gathered by fountains, hospitals, and other public spaces to help each other look for missing loved ones. Banks, investment firms, wealthy citizens and more donated to clothe and feed the homeless and get them back on their feet. Legends tell of a white-clad Specter who confronted looters and sent them running, convinced he was the spirit of those who died in the quake. He is now thought to have been Phoenix Bay's first costumed hero, but his identity was never discovered. A French physician named Bernard Clairvaux who happened to be traveling through the city at the time stepped up to help, organizing those with medical experience and setting up an impromptu hospital in the Museum of Natural History. He fell in love with a nurse, settled in the city, and would go on to found the Bernard Clairvaux Medical Center that stands till this day.
Strict new building codes were passed and ambitious plans drawn up, and the sound of hammering and drilling started up again as the city rebuilt. The new plans called for a large public park in the city center, wide tree-lined avenues with electric lighting, public squares, fountains and more. Money and supplies poured in from New York, London, Los Angeles and all over the world as news of the disaster spread, but it was not enough. The city needed money from the Eastern United States to rebuild. One by one, the financial elite of the East Coast were convinced to invest in the city's reconstruction by the city fathers. These wealthy, called "Angels" by the locals for their aid, were honored with large marble busts in the public square at the heart of the new city park, which then came to be called "Angel Square". However, not all residents welcomed their being indebted to old money from the East, and indeed, conspiracy theories would sprout in the years after, claiming that the fires in the wake of the quake were an Eastern plot to seize control of the city government and destroy the power of the Kings they so envied.
Southbay, which had been relatively undeveloped until now, grew to become part of the bustling metropolis as shelters and tent cities sprang up there and eventually grew into new neighborhoods. The wealthy moved southward to what is now Glitter Falls, by the base of the Roost: buying unclaimed land let them start rebuilding faster than waiting for the wreckage of their mansions to be bulldozed. This neighborhood soon became the most exclusive and upscale in the city, home to many of its luminaries.
Not everyone moved, however. King's Junction recovered relatively quickly. Chinatown was almost utterly destroyed, but the Chinese Chamber of Commerce successfully resisted pressure to move the Chinese enclave to the city edge, and remained in place near the old port. A new Harborfront was built, designed to be more friendly to foot traffic; it would grow into the famous tourist attraction and cultural center that it is today. Mayor William Whatley boasted that the new Harborfront would prevent the seedy neighborhoods that surrounded the old port from sprouting up again. His bombastic claims were soon proven false. As respectable businesses moved west to the Harborfront or south to the wealthy in Glitter Falls, the area between the Harborfront and Chinatown was soon populated by seedier establishments and once again became the city's unofficial red light district, servicing a constant stream of sailors and the lower classes. The stage was set for the gang wars and organized crime of later decades during which it would earn its moniker of "Whatley's Folly".
The quake was to change Phoenix Bay's destiny. San Francisco, the largest city in the American West until then, was completely destroyed in the quake and never recovered. This diverted shipping east to Phoenix Bay and south to Los Angeles. Many San Franciscans moved to Phoenix Bay in the aftermath, which soon replaced San Francisco as the gateway to the Pacific and the cultural and financial capital of the state.
By 1916 the rebuilding was complete. Phoenix Bay had died and rose from its ashes. The indomitable spirit of its citizens was remarked upon by many who witnessed the events of the quake. As the city grew higher and greater than ever, the people of Phoenix Bay were certain they had prevailed over the city's darkest hour.
They were wrong.
Last edited by Ysariel; 04-01-2017 at 10:08 AM.
Re: Phoenix Bay Setting Compendium
1916-1937: Prohibition & Depression
Dawn of the Heroic Age
The Roaring Twenties were an age of prosperity as Phoenix Bay had never seen. The television, automobile, airplane and silent film crept into everyday life. A new breed of fashionable, financially independent woman was born, shedding the corset for slinky dresses, while jazz dominated the music scene and Art Deco was soon to blossom in streamlined glory. The wealthy competed to throw the most extravagant, glitzy parties in palatial residences at Glitter Falls. Down by the harbor, sailors and the working class thronged cabarets and dance halls, looking for female companionship and ribald, noisy entertainment. Brothels, opium dens, gambling halls and all manner of sleazy establishments flourished by the waterfront neighborhoods. Soon they would be turned into a bloody battleground, thanks to a daring young man called Antonio Falcone.
Falcone arrived in Phoenix Bay in 1916 as the capo of one of New York's minor Mafia clans, harboring grand ambitions like so many who came to the City of Tomorrow. Forced out of New York by a feud with rival Mafia families, he hoped to find new business opportunities to increase his power base. What he found in 1920 instead was the opportunity of a lifetime. The profits from selling illegal liquor vastly exceeded those from gambling, racketeering, prostitution and other "traditional" kinds of organized crime and the Chinese gangs, or "Tongs", that had controlled local crime were embroiled in internal rivalries and slow to take advantage. This left a golden opportunity to upset the balance of power in Phoenix Bay's underworld which Falcone seized at once.
Falcone was no ordinary gangster. He had only a small cadre of loyal men, but he was cunning, charismatic, ruthless and methodical. He established a network of speakeasies in the area sandwiched between the Harborside and Chinatown, gaining considerable influence over a large voter base and allowing him to infiltrate the powerful labor unions of the city. Able to extort businesses with threats of strikes and ruin a political candidate's campaign through his vast influence, his power quickly grew to rival that of the Kings. Soon politicians were courting his favor and nobody who wanted to get elected could afford to ignore his blessing. When Mayor William Whatley ordered the creation of a special task force to root out the Mafia's influence in the area, Falcone demonstrated his power for the first time. Whatley was routed in the 1924 mayoral and city council elections, and Falcone's territory became known as "Whatley's Folly".
The Chinese and Russian gangs intensified their efforts against Falcone. Bloody street warfare erupted all along the coast as speakeasies were machine-gunned in drive-by attacks and a boat carrying smuggled alchohol was even dynamited. To fight the Chinese, Falcone fanned anti-Chinese sentiment, causing the city to bolster its Asian Crime Task Force even as the police budget was being slashed overall. Control of the dockworker's union allowed Falcone to easily smuggle in liquor by the harbor while his rivals had to move it overland. Through a ruthless campaign of bribery and blackmail Falcone was able to keep his operations safe from the police and wield vast influence over the cowed city council.
He also received some unintentional help from Benito Mussolini. The Italian fascist cracked down on the Mafia in the mid-1920's, destroying numerous clans. Many mafioso fled to America and overnight, it seemed as if all of Cosa Nostra had uprooted and replanted itself in the U.S. Falcone persuaded many of these men to join him in Phoenix Bay, and his clan's ranks swelled with hardened criminals and those who choose a glamorous career in crime over a life of poverty in tenement housing. Where the Mafia had never been a major West Coast player, now the name of Falcone became the most powerful in the city.
Phoenix Bay in the years of the Depression was a dangerous place of dark streets and bright gunfire. Honest policemen were driven from the force, every cop was on the take and the law looked the other way while Made Men terrorized citizens and businesses. Millstone, trapped between Chinatown on the west, Whatley's Folly to the southwest, and King's Junction to the north, became the focus of brutal street warfare. Falcone set out to crush his rivals once and for all and ordered a series of assassinations on prominent leaders of rival criminal organizations. 29 people, mostly innocents, were killed or injured in the botched attacks. The shootings caused a public outcry but with the police and the city council firmly under his control nobody could lay a finger on Falcone. It was that hour of desperate need that gave birth to the first superhero.
Alan Walkers originally had no intention of becoming a hero. A young, mild-mannered schoolteacher, he regarded his powers (now thought to be mutant in nature) of incredible toughness and super-strength as a mere curiosity that came in handy sometimes. But the dire situation in the city pricked at his conscience; perhaps he was immune to bullets, but the citizens dying out there every night were not. He felt compelled to take action. In doing so, he defined the image of the modern superhero.
Walkers choose a bright, form-fitting costume to stand out from the mobsters in their dark suits bristling with hidden weapons. He resolved not to use firearms or explosives, as drive-by shootings were all too common and innocents often hurt in the mobster's indiscriminate shooting. Most of all, he was determined not to kill. He wanted to stand apart from the gangsters, their callous disregard for human life and their pursuit of bloody revenge. For a pseudonym he choose the attitude he dearly wished to see from his beloved city. He called himself "Defiant".
"Mystery Man Mauls Mobsters," screamed the headlines of the over a grainy picture of Defiant smashing a Mafia car held aloft in both hands. But soon the unthinkable happened. More heroes began appearing, from Samson the Jewish powerhouse who kicked the Mafia out of their beachhead in Millstone, to Swordwind whose swift katana was the terror of Chinese and Japanese gangsters alike in Nihonmachi (Japantown). A blind seamstress working the looms at a garment factory came across a legendary sword that was the embodiment of Justice itself, becoming Lady Justice the blind crusader. Next door in Chinatown, a deadly and beautiful woman warrior called by the locals as the Little Dragon Girl pit ancient martial arts techniques against tommy guns and revolvers and handily won. Some even came from far abroad to Phoenix Bay in search of adventure. Not all of them had superpowers; some had only their own two fists, backed up with incredible skills, wits and daring. What they all did have was the common goal of putting an end to the bloody nights in Phoenix Bay. Walkers had believed that the city only needed a symbol to rally behind, that it was ready to resist the depredations of criminals and would rise up behind a leader. He was right.
But he also underestimated his opposition. The gangsters did not keel over and surrender; if anything they fought even harder against this new menace. Defiant realized the new heroes needed to get organized if they were to restore peace to the city. He and four of his closest friends -- Madame Mystic the master magician, Sixgun the deadly sharpshooter wielding pistols bequeathed to her by Annie Oakley herself, Doctor Future, scholar, adventurer, scientist and engineer, and American Eagle the hero of the skies in his marvelous winged suit -- swore an oath to always stand by each other and come to the aid of those in need. They called themselves the Fantastic Five, and they were the world's first superhero team. While they did not seek to recruit new members and operated more like a close group of friends (leading some historians to consider the Liberty League (1941-1955) to be the first superhero team instead), there is no doubt that this was the first time the world had seen heroes fighting side by side as a cohesive unit.
The public in America and abroad grew obsessed with these flamboyant, daredevil "mystery men" and women who confounded criminals the law dared not touch. Their daring deeds were a rare ray of hope in the bleakness of the Great Depression. From Canberra to London, Beijing to New Delhi, people all over the world cheered their exploits with each new headline. Doctor Future's Ethanol Destroyer robbed Falcone out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit within a single night, while Sixgun's peerless marksmanship terrorized and demoralized the Mafia men. The heroes put immense pressure on organized crime and began to turn the tide, breaking the power of the Chinese and Russian syndicates. They were joined by an unlikely ally in the form of Robert Wilbur, editor of the Phoenix Bay Chronicle, who published countless scathing editorials criticizing the corrupt authorities and splashed his front pages with dramatic reports of the heroes' battles.
But Falcone fought back, assassinating Lady Justice in 1932 and severely injuring Doctor Future the next year. The shadow of the Great Depression led some men and women with extraordinary powers and desperate need to turn to him for survival. His men were joined by figures such as the Dark Pharaoh (a magician wielding cursed artifacts stolen from Tutankhamen's tomb), Enchantress (a seductive master spy with a talent for wringing secrets from men and women alike), and High Roller (a gambler with the power of incredible luck). Nor were all the heroes' losses the work of criminals. Dragon Girl was branded a "traitor of the Han (Chinese) race" for fighting against Chinese organized crime and would spend the remainder of her days ostracized from her people. The crimefighters had to contend not only with criminals but with the city's corrupt police force, dodging bullets from cops and mafioso alike.
Defiant knew that they had to strike a telling blow fast. The end of Prohibition in 1933 provided the momentum the heroes were hoping for. When Madame Mystic prophesized a high-level gathering of Falcone and all his top men, he decided the time had come. Gathering the Fantastic Five and all the heroes they could contact in time, a veritable battalion of heroes stormed the drydocks where the meeting was held, intending to shatter Falcone's prestige by showing the city he was not untouchable. They discovered to their horror that they had blundered into a trap: Falcone and his best men were there, armed to the teeth with military-grade weapons in ambush. Machine guns and even cannon fire tore through the heroes. The Dark Pharaoh dueled the Defiant and Madame Mystic while High Roller brought down American Eagle before being dispatched by the Little Dragon Girl and Samson. Falcone and his men performed a fighting retreat, detonating the explosives in the dry docks after them and collapsing the entire structure. Few of the heroes escaped that slaughterhouse with their lives.
But this time even Falcone had overextended himself. While the heroes reeled from the loss, Federal Prosecutor Sam Spiegel, reading the account of the desperate battle, realized Falcone could be prosecuted under federal law thanks to the National Firearms Act passed in 1934 that banned heavy weapons, and got in touch with the surviving heroes. No witnesses had ever been willing to risk testifying against Falcone. But this time there were costumed heroes willing to take the stand. Would the court rule their testimony admissible? In a landmark trial that seized the attention of the nation, the answer turned out to be yes. The Supreme Court found Falcone guilty of weapons smuggling in 1937 and sentenced him to a decade in jail. The man so powerful he was even called "capo di tutti capi" (boss of all bosses) would spend his last three years of life penniless in newly-built Alcatraz Prison, less than two miles from the city he terrorized, until his death due to complications from syphilis and gohnorrhea. As for Alan Walkers, he set aside Defiant's mask and returned to teaching. He had never been interested in fame and was only glad to return to an ordinary life.
The events in Phoenix Bay were the start of the Heroic Age and defined the modern image of the costumed crimefighter. Superheroes were recognized as a new kind of vigilante, unlike the lynch mobs of the past. Legal precedents were set regarding issues ranging from the right of a hero to testify in costume and the admissibility of evidence gleaned from superpowers, leading indirectly to the Hero Act of 1942 that legitimized super-heroic activity. History will not soon forget those days of high drama in low places, nor the iconic image of costume-clad heroes facing down black-suited gangsters.
They also shaped world opinion of superheroes. Western democracies were more tolerant of citizen crimefighters. Conversely, oppressive regimes such as China and the Soviet Union would see how one man with a conscience ignited a revolution against those in power, and would come to view the super-human as a threat to their authority. After all, one hero defying the regime could do as much damage as 100 dissidents. Over the following decades, many superhumans were captured, killed, or forced to flee to the West by these governments before they could become threats, and their own super-soldier programs tended to favor lower-powered supers that could be more easily controlled, and attempt to field them in larger numbers to compensate. Ironically, this led to the U.S. and Europe having a disproportionate number of the world's superhumans in the end. Meanwhile, in Japan and Germany, cunning minds observed what superhumans working in concert could achieve and took notes.
The Italian Mafia survived, but without Falcone at its head it was leaderless, a shadow of its former glory. Organized crime in Phoenix Bay licked its wounds and learned well the lessons of those bloody days. No longer would criminal syndicates clash openly in street warfare. The Mafia, the Russian bratva and the Chinese tongs established "The Chamber", a committee that demarcated territory and settled disputes by vote instead of violence. They would retreat into the shadows, clearing the stage for the rise of the modern supervillain.
The Fantastic Five were not especially powerful by the standards of modern superheroes. The tommy guns and revolvers of the gangsters were threats to nearly all of them. But they seized the imagination of a generation and, as superheroes are wont to do, changed the world beyond their wildest dreams.
Last edited by Ysariel; 04-01-2017 at 10:08 AM.