Life in the City


see also: society, races

There are no ethnic groups in the city as the real world most commonly defines them. Indeed, there is no distinction based on skin color or bone structure. Partly, this is because the vast majority of people are white. There are individuals with other shades of skin, but relatively few, and most of them have white relatives somewhere in the extended family tree. Any distinct culture their ancestors may have had has long since dissolved. Rather, the societal fault lines in the city lie between Ark-dwellers, city humans, and changelings.

Ark-dwellers are human members of a moiety who count the Ark as home. These people are as close to aristocracy as the city can boast. The rest of the city generally treats them with respect, courtesy, and sometimes a small measure of awe. This is partly because humans in general are considered of standing; partly because the Ark is a hallowed, near-sacred place, and they're special enough to live in it; partly because there are all kinds of stories about what's inside the Ark, and not all of them are benign tales.

City-dwelling humans and their families can be considered middle class, while changelings are the lowest class of city denizens for the dual strikes of sterility and inhuman traits. Indeed, many people feel that changelings fall somewhere between men and beasts. Some put them closer to men, others farther away — but that opinion is common among humans and changelings alike. There is no city-wide system or tradition of discrimination against changelings, but neither is there any legal or moral framework to chastise prejudice when it occurs.

Economy and Trade

There is no trade with outside polities; contact has been lost with all other centers of population, and it's unknown if any still exist — or where to go looking for them. There are no natural sources of petroleum products, coal, most metals and chemicals, or even exotic foods and spices (everything from oranges to chocolate to nutmeg) known at this time. Many exotic plants grow in the Ark, but they are rarely traded to the city at large.

The economy of the city is pure barter — goods for goods, goods for services, services for goods. There is no formal money system, though there is a growing trend in using pieces of wire as an exchange medium. Not everyone accepts them, but many do. Wire lengths are generally copper, silver, or iron, with iron considered the most valuable despite also being a relatively abundant metal. There are some coins from earlier times which have value because of their metal content and (especially) their status as artifacts. Coins are not worth their historical face value, which no one now knows; like all artifacts, they are worth what the other person is willing to give you for them. In practice, small coins are more prized than large ones; the thinner, smaller disks have generally been more eroded by time and generations of hands, and good-condition coins are in scarce supply.

Note that as a rule, individuals do not run businesses; indeed, "businesses" as such don't exist. As all people in a family or pack generally have complementary trades, these can be considered an analog of businesses… though connected by kinship and allegiance rather than skills and wages. Lonewolves who opt out of working with others tend to be scavengers of some sort or another, gleaning materials from the city and/or wilderness to sell. Artificers, scholars, and technomancers are much more likely to be Ark-dwellers than streetsiders.


Organized religion is not even a memory or myth; it no longer exists. However, people being people, religion is alive, well, and as diverse as the people who practice it. Many families and packs have some kind of belief system, sometimes derived from ancient (i.e. real-world) religious systems, sometimes uniquely synthesized by generations past in attempts to understand and explain the Fallen world. Most consider their worship and beliefs to be a private, internal matter, but some choose to proselytize.

Resources and Subsistence


See also: technology, the ark

An entire city's worth of empty buildings exists for the taking. The power doesn't work; indeed, only those in the Ark have even a vague idea what electrical "power" might be. Only buildings in the deep city have running water, and those few are rarely unclaimed for long. But except for the structures so decayed by time as to be falling to pieces, four walls and a roof do shelter make. What the buildings were once used for is often a mystery; present generations have no reference for office cubicles or department stores, lecture halls or research labs, parking garages or shopping malls. These mysteries don't stop people from occupying places that suit their aesthetics and needs, however, and doing whatever they want with them in the interests of personalizing living space.

The city is far larger than the population which now inhabits it. Although most people congregate in a few particular areas, there is no shortage of space. There is not much business in serious repair; any inhabited buildings which become untenable are simply abandoned, their occupants relocating elsewhere. When no other buildings in the domain suit — well, that's one cause for turf wars.

The dangers of laying claim to a new building are twofold: structural integrity and nonhuman occupants. Creatures ranging from owls to bobcats to feral dogs (particularly the last) might live in the empty shell of a structure, and take offense at any human attempt to occupy the same. It's also sometimes difficult to tell from the outside whether rot or rust has eaten away a building's supports to hazardous degree. For that reason, some preference is given to the glass and composite buildings of city center, edifices which appear to laugh at time's attempts to wear them down.


see also: ecology

Agriculture isn't, by and large. Some people keep gardens, either near their homes or on the sly in the woods, but there is little respect in this fallen age for private property — and much need for food. A garden is an open invitation for others to appropriate crops in season. Only farmholds, protected by all members of a family or pack, really make agriculture work; there is safety, security, and success in numbers.

Domestic Animals

see also: ecology

Calling any animal in the city "domestic" may be an overstatement; all that remain are descended from stock gone wild, and have been reclaimed only to an extent. The breeds once prized in their distinctions are gone entirely, muddled by generations of unsupervised outbreeding: there are no distinct strains of any animal, except the ones gradually being created from a few selective-breeding programs.

Commonly kept animals are generally smaller species with practical value; they include cats, chickens, dogs, donkeys, goats, and rabbits. Large stock, such as horses or cattle, are unknown to the city.

Urban Scavenging

see also: map, technology, ferals

After uncounted generations have picked through the bones of the city, relatively little of immediate value can be found there. Some of the outlying regions, places now largely overgrown, remain nearly untouched; an explorer might poke over such a place and find everything from the personal knickknacks of long-dead families to priceless examples of ancient devices — if someone else didn't beat them to it, and if the hazards of such areas don't get them first.

Canned food, bottled water — these are long since gone, exhausted by the scavengers who came before. They aren't even recounted in folklore. Anything which once used a volatile fuel source, from butane lighters to diesel generators, has lost its reservoir and become an indecipherable thingamajig. The same is true for any ancient device requiring supplied power, particularly from the now-dead grid; there are some items that still have power in the form of ultra-dense battery packs or miniaturized reactors, but they are few and far between.

By and large, the only thing which remains to be scavenged from the city is material. Wood tends to not be in good enough condition for repurposing, although some furniture and structural beams have been sheltered enough to endure the passing years. Plastic and metal containers are greatly prized, especially ones that still seal well enough to be proof against raiding rodents and insects. Some plastic items can be cut down for other uses, but only a few plastics can be melted and remolded, which makes plastic as a material less useful overall.

The valuable items to scavenge, other than remnants of ancient tech (which have novelty value), are copper, bronze, brass, iron, steel, aluminum, and titanium. Smiths and artificers can melt these down for reforging. Gold and silver are considered less valuable due to their impracticality for anything but jewelry and ornamentation — though there remains a fair market for ornaments nonetheless. Gemstones, conversely, have rather high value due to extreme scarcity. Ceramic composites, more advanced alloys, and other synthetic polymers are admired but rarely useful to anyone — except maybe a technomancer, if you can find one.

Wilderness Scavenging

see also: geography, ecology, ferals

Many people never set foot in the dangerous wilds around the city — but their lives often depend on those who do. As the city is relatively barren of food, a substantial proportion of most diets comes out of the wilderness, one way or another. Commonly used raw materials, (e.g. wood, leather, bone, clay for ceramics, sand for glass) are also largely obtained from beyond.

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