Some say the city never sleeps, but here The City seems to never wake up, and the city’s dreams border on nightmares. Noir City superficially seems to be an urban setting from a rough hodgepodge of the American 30’s and 40’s, but significant differences from Earth quickly become apparent. While Noir City has day and night, the days are only a few hours long and always heavily overcast and raining, so that the gloom never lifts. The long nights see scattered showers, mixed with light fog and clouds of steam and smoke that snake through the streets concealing the dim alleys and dirty brick walls. Colors seem muted and washed out, and the lighting never seems adequate, with street lights casting small circles reflected in puddles in the dark, and interior lights leaving corners in deep shadow. The city itself seems threadbare and rundown, with seedy bars, aging lounges, and nightclubs the most obvious businesses, and tired office towers hosting low rent clients looking down on the dirty streets below. The Southside is full of shabby slums brushing up against antiquated industrial structures, like old factories and warehouses, and the Waterfront is dominated by sagging piers where commercial ships load and unload boxes of freight. The inhabitants of this recursion call their home simply “The City” and if pressed are not entirely clear on where they think they are. The local cops all seem to be apathetic or corrupt, and most locals bury their sorrows in the bottle.
JUST KEEPING A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD
The typical inhabitant of Noir City has a rundown apartment, a job that just about keeps the bills paid, and a vague pile of debts from bad choices in their past. They usually live with a constant low grade fear of debts coming due or losing their job, and as a result they keep their head low and try not to notice anything that might get them in trouble if they knew about it. Those without the spark go through their lives like an endless rut, and usually don’t remember much about their pasts or childhood unless a character with the spark asks them pointed questions, at which point “memories” suddenly flood back, often involving places like an old family farm or another town that do not exist in the recursion. Natives with the spark tend to follow one of two paths: Looking Out For Number One, or Trying to Figure It Out.
Looking Out For Number One:
Characters on this path see the frustration, resignation, and desperation of those in the city and see it as a chance to make their own lives something better. They play off of fears, buy up debts, or just hold out the hope of a brief escape from the endless melancholy to gain power and wealth. The leaders of organized crime rings, femme fatales working out of night clubs, grifters running long cons, and related types are often on this road. These characters tend to quickly get caught up in a world of constantly escalating efforts to hold on to what they have, often ending up involved in elaborate cover-ups and even murders.
Trying to Figure It Out:
Characters on this path have looked at the endless bleakness of the city, and the suffering on the streets, and convinced themselves that it can be fixed, if only something important could be understood. Some of them are idealists looking to save the city from itself, others are more narrow in their efforts, trying to figure out a specific person or puzzle of importance to them, hoping that at least one person might find happiness, or at least peace. Private Eyes, honest cops, remorseful business men, and dames with hearts of gold are often on this path. Noir City is not a kind place, and these characters often learn things they were happier not knowing, and often take to the bottle and become increasingly pessimistic about the odds of anything adding up.
WHERE NOBODY WANTS TO KNOW YOUR NAME
Quickened individuals sometimes use Noir City as a last recourse if things go bad. If they end up on the run from someone powerful, deep in debt to elements from their home recursion, or just burned out and wanting to get out of their life, Noir City is a place that works hard not to see the unusual, and to ignore new things. More than a few burned out recursion miners, refugees from the Crow Mafia, or former agents of The Estate or the Quiet Cabal may be found lurking in the darker corners of town.