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Bedlam City


Kaige

Bedlam City

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Bedlam City is an infamous urban area of 270,000 people located along I-41 between Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin. It's roughly in the middle of the two cities, about 55 miles from each and 60 miles east of Oshkosh (though you have to skirt Lake Winnebago to go that way). The city sits at the mouth of the Manitowoc River, with a harbor that opens onto Lake Michigan. Once a thriving industrial city, it suffered a complete economic collapse in the last half-century that turned it into one of the United States's poorest, most crime-ridden metropolitan areas.

 

A partial economic resurgence in southern Bedlam over the past decade has created a local nouveau riche but left the vast majority of the city impoverished and divided. Organized crime and corporate greed have utterly infiltrated the city's infrastructure, with two rival families of La Cosa Nostra (the Mafia) squeezing what little value remains out of the old city while business tycoons seize the profits of the new. The Labyrinth also has a heavy but entirely secret presence in Bedlam, slowly taking over local services in an effort to mold the area into Taurus's vision of a perfect city.

 

Many other criminal groups and even supervillains make their hideouts in Bedlam, where the police are almost totally corrupt and even federal agents often fear to tread.

 

 

History

 

Bedlam City was founded in 1830 by Zebediah Scarlett, an evangelist riding the fervor of the Second Great Awakening, as a religious retreat away from the evils of the world. Unfortunately, he himself was a man of worldly evil; in his opium-fueled haze, he did not even register that that there was a difference between "Bedlam" and his intended name for the city, "Bethlehem". He certainly did not care that the land he had chosen to settle on belonged to the Potowatami Native Americans, and was instrumental in forcing the 1833 Treaty of Chicago which forced the tribe to relocate west of Lake Winnebago.

 

Although Scarlett's vices and dubious control over his cult following soon led to his death, he'd managed to do one thing correctly: Bedlam City had been founded in an excellent location for growth and prosperity. Several prominent families took control of the township after his demise and transformed it from a religious retreat into a thriving commercial center that grew along with Milwaukee to the south. During the Civil War, the city had the odd distinction of hosting perhaps the only substantial anti-abolition group in the entire overwhelmingly pro-Union state: the Phantom Empire. The Phantom Emperor, however, was killed by an angry mob in 1863.

 

At the turn of the twentieth century, large numbers of Polish and Italian immigrants came to Bedlam to work in its two major industries: meat and manufacturing. In response, an ugly outpouring of nativism resurrected the Phantom Empire, leading to anti-immigrant protests and violence. Many newcomers banded together for protection, laying the groundwork for what would become Bedlam's mafia families. Local racism got worse when, in 1917, many African-Americans arrived from the South in order to fill the factory jobs left vacant by the U.S. entry into World War I. They earned an extremely hostile reception.

 

As a result of the racist perception that Bedlam's jobs were being taken away by undesirables, the Phantom Empire gained so much strength that it effectively ran the city government in the early twenties, making it a dark time for minorities. Ironically, it was prohibition that put a stop to their influence. Liquor rackets enriched and empowered the Mafia families so much that they were able to challenge the Irish gangs that had traditionally dominated the local underworld and win. This made them powerful enough to openly stand up to the Phantom Empire, which quietly faded away over the next decade.

 

Bedlam City weathered the Great Depression well, and in the era of colorful gangsters that followed the legendary lawman Sammy "Snap-Brim" Hammer, his gadget-equipped "Flying Squad", and the deadly vigilante The Scorpion put a serious dent in the city's criminal element. A pro-Nazi group known as "Derr Bluttbanner" briefly menaced the city, and was rumored to contain many former members of the Phantom Empire, but Sammy Hammer ultimately foiled their plans. During the 50's postwar boom, Bedlam was at its height: a strong manufacturing center with a fairly low crime rate. Then it all fell apart.

 

By 1960, Bedlam's heyday was over. Economic stagnation and worsening race relations began to tear the city apart. In the 60's and 70's the area turned into a civil rights nightmare as national guard troops brutally suppressed race riots, causing serious damage to downtown. Things got even worse as the mob families went to war and a mysterious serial killer known as Capricorn began to stalk the streets. The hero Clayton Stone, also known as Black Anvil, rose up to protect the people as best he could, while the so-called "Hammer of Justice" began to protect white folks and menace everyone else.

 

The crack boom of the late 80's was a knockout punch, and the murder of Clayton Stone (probably on the orders of his own brother, a notorious crime lord) was the follow-up. Bedlam never really recovered from the wave of crime and economic depression that followed. A redevelopment commission organized to revitalize the city instead wasted most of its remaining resources on projects that fell through, including a super-team called "Justice Xtreem" that collapsed on its first mission and left everyone in Bedlam with a bad taste in their mouths when they think about so-called superheroes.

 

By the early 2000s, almost everyone had given up on Bedlam as a place that could be saved - or even was worth saving. But as property values fell through the floor, industry largely shriveled up, and the city began to privatize essential services it could no longer afford, certain groups saw an opportunity. A megacorporation called Wolfram Aerospace took over city management, since no mayor wanted the job, and in 2005 began work on a new industrial district on the south side of the city. The real estate crash of 2008 brought property values to almost nothing, and other companies soon followed Wolfram's lead.

 

By 2016, the Babylon district was a microcosm of Bedlam City itself, half posh resort and half poverty-stricken, polluted slum. Tensions between the mob families are at an all-time high, and superheroes remain unwelcome.

 

 

Vital Statistics

 

The "City of Now", as the redevelopment commission branded it, is home to about 270,000 people, almost 26% of whom live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate sits at 12%, two and half times the national average. It's likely to keep going up; several of the city's major employers have been engaging in rounds of layoffs. The crime rate varies between 1 in 100 downtown to 1 in 20 out in the abandoned, smog-choked Country Club district. That means about 240 felonies and 870 misdemeanors every week, which is unsurprising given that police response times vary between 15 and 30 minutes in most districts.

 

Every year Bedlam City makes it into the bottom twenty urban areas in America for these statistics, and often into the bottom five or ten.

 

The city is extremely racially diverse, but also extremely divided. People of English and German descent are the old blood. If they have money, the stick to the outskirts of the city: Greely Point and the suburb of Stone Ridge. Otherwise they're probably in with the working-class Italians, Irish, and Poles in Stark Hill, which is somewhat run down but has virtually no street crime; this is the domain of the Mafia, and other criminals hustle here at their own peril. Wolverton is mostly African-American, run down and with gang problems, but people mostly do own their own homes. Hardwick Park is mostly Hispanic, with more vibrant businesses but brutal landlords.

 

Smaller communities of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Greeks, Serbs, Croats, and other cultures dot the edges of the districts.

 

 

Economy

 

Bedlam City's former biggest employers are along the Lake Michigan waterfront: the Rook Island Shipping Terminal and the Greely Points Docks. Rook Island was once touted as the business that would restore Bedlam's fortunes, but it has become extremely polluted and unprofitable, and is hemorrhaging employees. Greely Point, on the other hand, is growing and remains somewhat profitable, which is a source of major tension because the two ports are owned by rival mob families. The Bedlam Airport out in the haphazardly growing Meadows district is another business that is actually expanding for now.

 

Two manufacturing companies from Bedlam's heyday remain in business as major employers: the Greely Toy Factory and the Snacktastic Candy Company. Both, however, are having layoffs.

 

Across the river, supplying the Greely Point docks and the airport, the two megacorps of the Babylon district are Bedlam City's new driving economic force. The Howle-Brandt Consortium's jet fuel plant and the Wolfram Aerospace manufacturing complex, better known as the W.E.B. (Wolfram Engineering Bedlam), are the city's two largest employers. Most of their full-time employees are forced into barely-legal contracts that keep them living in small corporate dormitories without benefits. Meanwhile, legions of the unemployed take the long train or bus ride across town in the hopes of getting one of the really nasty jobs for the day.

 

 

Government

 

No one wants to be mayor of one of the five worst cities in America, so the position has been rented out to a hired city manager from mega-corporation Wolfram Aerospace. The company doesn't advertise who this person is, but he is widely known to be pale little Wilfred Krebbs, who only cares about getting the administrative paperwork done. Most major official change in the city comes from the Municipal Council, who are varying degrees of corrupt, inept, or both. Due to budget concerns, most city functions have been rented out to private contractors. Most of them are connected to the Mafia families.

 

There's no chief of police, either. The captains of the six precincts of Bedlam City operate effectively without oversight, and graft is a pervasive problem in the department.

 

Every citizen of Bedlam knows that the members of the city council are:

-"Big Andy" Czernik (broad, bellowing former gang kid representing Stark Hill's interests; major ally of the Scarpia crime family)

-Rev. Willie Boggs (charming scoundrel trying to get what's best for Wolverton; takes Scarpia money, but is a generous community organizer)

-Ron Cordell (short, fat, surly councilman from Greely Point; transparently represents the Gorganzua crime family's interests)

-Righteous Townsend (polite and well-spoken but cold; incorruptible, but focused on undercutting Willie Boggs to advance his own career)

-Mollie Schwartz (kind, honest, cheerful, and ineffectual; Bedlam's token reformer, chipping away at minor problems from Stone Ridge)

 

 

City Layout

 

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Stone Ridge

This suburb to the northwest of Bedlam is the stronghold of the city's old money. Not technically a part of the city, it has its own service contractors, a private security company acting as local police, and a separate municipal tax pool, which is very convenient for its rich inhabitants - services in the city proper are very poor. Ruthless patrols by Iron Talon, the security company, ensure that street crime is unheard of here; anyone who attempted it would be unlikely to make it to trial. White collar crime, on the other hand, is rampant; the suburb is home to the vast majority of the people, including the new money, who have fed like ticks from Bedlam's drying veins.

 

Important Locations:

-Ruth Christopher's Chop House (fancy, expensive restaurant)

-Walgrove Prep (exclusive private school)

-Austin Pemberton High School (public but still exclusive and elitist)

-Stone Ridge Animal Shelter (Bedlam's only no-kill shelter)

-Beth-El Hospital (excellent and well-funded)

 

Stark Hill (2nd Precinct)

Bedlam's oldest neighborhood, Stark Hill is the beating heart of the Scarpia crime family - which the locals tolerate and even embrace because it keeps minorities away. Street crime is minimal here, as the mafia keeps it quiet, but local youth gangs (from which the Scarpias recruit their soldiers) engage in petty vandalism, beatings and muggings of anyone who doesn't look like them, and extremely unpleasant initiations for both members and their "girlfriends." The hill remains divided among several different ethnic groups: Irish, Italians, Serbs, Croats, and Poles. All of the Catholics go to ethnically separate churches. It is "defended" by the Hammer of Justice, whose "justice" tends to fall along racist and pro-mafia lines.

 

Important Locations:

-Many Catholic churches (St. Anthony's, St. Fabian's, St. Perpetua's, St. Casimir's)

-St. Athol's Basilica (Orthodox church)

-Thaddeus Grissom High (Bedlam's roughest school, for those expelled from everywhere else)

-The Circle Perk (snobby bohemian coffee shop)

-Our Lady of the Five Wounds School (private Catholic school)

-Our Lady of Sorrow Hospital (mediocre hospital; patches up mob guys with no questions asked)

 

Downtown Bedlam (1st Precinct)

Once, when the harbor did brisk business and industrial drive was chugging along at breakneck pace, Bedlamites dreamed that downtown would be the center of a lively city. Heavy investments led to grand art deco structures like the train terminal and the Smirlock Building, but the grand skyscraper known as the Gorman Building was going to be the shining pinnacle above them all. Until everything dried up in the old city. The Gorman Buildings sits half-finished, a jagged mar on the skyline, too expensive to finish or to knock down. And downtown has rotted away with it. It's always crowded, but with desperate people who have very little left to lose. The success stories stay in the penthouses and office buildings above.

 

Important Locations:

-Central Station (main train terminal into and out of Bedlam; $2.50 to any stop in the city, $5 to Milwaukee or Green Bay)

-Bedlam Bus Terminal

-Bedlam Community College (on several floors of a skyscraper)

-Police Headquarters

-Endler Library (massive, ugly brutalist structure with very limited selection)

-City Hall (abandoned, inhabited by derelicts and in need of serious repair)

-Smirlock Building (strangely warped skyscraper)

-Gorman Building (dangerously unfinished skyscraper)

-Bedlam Museum

-The Citadel (abandoned super-team base)

-Several law firms, restaurants, and PI services

-Temple Beth-Israel (conservative synagogue)

 

Liberty Shoppes (Police Substation 1 / Precinct 5.5)

A massive underground mall built by Bedlam City's ill-fated redevelopment commission, Liberty Shoppes was designed to provide Bedlam with a shopping and entertainment district. Its many subterranean levels boasted a 50-screen megaplex theater, a branch library, a food court, a "Funland" family amusement park, an ice skating rink, a daycare service, row upon row of storefronts, a police substation to keep everyone safe, and even banks of apartments so that locals never have to leave. Unable to attract shoppers from Milwaukee or Green bay, it didn't make it as an outlet mall. Now it's three quarters empty and overrun with gang members and derelicts. What shops remain cater to those demographics.

 

Hardwick Park (1st and 3rd Precincts)

Vile old city founder Lucius Hardwick willed his Lucius Hardwick Memorial Park to the city upon his death... on the condition that no "colored" people ever be allowed inside. That proved unconstitutional, and the surrounding neighborhood became the center of Bedlam City's Hispanic community. Street market culture is strong in the area, with relatively vibrant low-income businesses, but locals are bled dry for rent; harsh landlords who live far off in Stone Ridge rule the apartment complexes with an iron fist. The fearsome, quasi-mystical gang known as the Mara runs this area, having destroyed or subsumed almost all of the other gangs. Ironically, they keep the northern half of the Memorial Park safe... for Latinos only.

 

Important Locations:

-Shambliss St. Market (open air market run by locally-owned businesses)

-Computer (tech repair store)

-Hardwick Park Free Clinic (completely dominated by the Mara, who say who gets treated)

-Our Lady of Xichumel (Catholic church, completely under Mara control)

-Helmut Herzog High School (worst-funded school in the city; teachers have to show deference to the Mara)

-St. Romuald's (Catholic church, independent of the Mara, very conservative)

-High School 005, "Double Zero", "Ground Zero" (uneasy school between Black and Hispanic gang turf)

 

Industrial Drive (3rd Precinct)

Once the city's beating heart, home to the manufacturing plants that made it rich in the fifties, Industrial Drive has almost completely dried up. Only two major factories remain in operation, surrounded by the rusted-out hulks of similar structures that fared worse. Many of these former industrial buildings have since been transformed into illegal nightclubs full of gambling, drug dealing, and prostitution; when rebellious rich kids come out of Stone Ridge or Greely Point to slum it, this is where they boast about having gone. Off-duty cops provide most of the security. They only get paid about $27,000 a year, so a second job is pretty appealing, strictly legal or not.

 

Important Locations:

-"Club Nowhere" (typical nameless, mobile illegal nightclub)

-Club Death? (rumored hardcore nightclub with every vice out in the open)

-Greely Old Tyme Toy Factory (no safety standards; workers too scared to lose their jobs to complain)

-Snacktastic Candy Company (secret front for SHADOW intelligence arm Der Oktopus)

-Corporation Yard (former facility for Department of Transportation, now police helicopter depot)

-Bedlam General Hospital (understaffed, underfunded, crowded, and out of date)

 

Wolverton (3rd Precinct)

Wolverton is a very poor neighborhood that is home to most of the city's African-American population. On the bright side, low property values mean that most people here own their own homes; apartments are rare, and never as exploitative as the ones in Hardwick Park. On the other hand, the neighborhood is commercially near dead and overrun with gang and drug related violence. While street gangs, especially Eentsy Z's powerful "Last of the Last" coalition, hold a lot of overt power, the twin crime lords The Rock and The Stone have divided Wolverton's vice rackets between them, and are the true masters of the area. Even they pay tribute to the Scarpias, though.

 

Important Locations:

-Club del Morocco (abandoned jazz club haunted by phantom bluesmen)

-Wolverton Community Center (unfortunately, a front that distributes drugs)

-Wolverton Branch Library (small, but with a good selection of books)

-Wolverton Free Clinic (enforced neutral territory; decent basic care)

-Langdon Bleeker High School (very rough, but has a great football team: Wolverton Wolverines)

-Wolverton Petting Zoo (oasis of calm; beloved even by the gangs)

-American Investigators (excellent PI services)

-Good News Thunderous Hammer Church of God in Christ (center of local community programs and food giveaways)

-True Word Baptist Church (second-largest Wolverton church; unfortunately homophobic)

 

Ash Street and the Country Club (4th Precinct)

At the east end of Bedlam City lies its poorest, most dangerous area. The Country Club was once the stronghold of the very wealthy, but pollution from the Rook Island Shipping Terminal ruined the area and sent them all scrambling off to Stone Ridge. It is now the domain of vicious outsider gangs and homeless people with nowhere else to go. Ash Street, though also clogged with the homeless, has fared a little better. It is a drab little collection of half-abandoned strip malls and dirt cheap apartments that might collapse at any moment. It borders on Gravesend Beach, once pleasant but now utterly polluted and disgusting.

 

Important Locations:

-Black Moon Rising (creepy occult bookstore)

-Celestial Spirit Fellowship (nondenominational shelter and community support center)

-Fat Planet Comics (crowded, expensive comic book store; only one in Bedlam)

-Bedlam Zoo (drab and inhumane)

 

Shady Meadows Trailer Park

Just beyond Bedlam's city limits lies perhaps the most chaotic and violent region associated with the city: the giant Shady Meadows mobile home complex. Troublemakers and people with nowhere else to go get dumped here for their state-required free housing, and it's straight into the middle of a nightmare. Meth dealers and biker gangs such as The Brotherhood are constantly jockeying for power, and there are no police or city services to even attempt to keep them in check. Life is cheap and short in the area, and as long as the meth trade keeps paying its taxes to the Scarpias it will be allowed to stay in utter anarchy.

 

The Meadows

The growth of this neighborhood, out near the surprisingly successful airport, was so unexpected that no one knew what to do with it. The mafia families left it off their territorial divisions, and now scramble to claim it. The police and fire department aren't clear on whether they are required to respond to calls here, the zoning is a mess, and there are no local schools. The result is a messy little sprawl of a commercial district, with a few sets of apartments thrown in. Yuppies from out of town have started creating a little enclave in the area, further adding to its quirky little culture that is divorced from much of the rest of Bedlam.

 

Important Locations:

-Abundant Tabernacle Christian Academy (extremely conservative private school)

-Club Maxx (metal club)

-The Airport Inn (airport hotel with washed-up Vegas entertainers)

-Classy All-Nude Girls (strip club, not classy at all; Gorganzua meeting house)

-Omega Diner (awful, awful restaurant)

-Papal Discount Warehouse (religious supply store)

 

Babylon (Fifth Precinct)

Bedlam's biggest growth sector, Babylon is a monument to corporate greed. Between the two massive factories that leave an eternal blanket of smog over the district lie row upon row of squalid corporate dormitories filled with destitute and desperate workers. Looming above it all are waterfront hotels and skyscraper office buildings, which block that choking cloud from the riverboat casinos that have become the playground of Bedlam's rich and the false hope of its poor. The stronghold of the new money, this area is firmly in Gorganzua turf because the Scarpias never thought it would be worth anything. That oversight may well lead to a mob war soon.

 

Important Locations:

-The "Heart of Dixie" (Scarpia riverboat casino with Cajun food and televised high-stakes poker)

-The "Lucky Lady" (Gorganzua riverboat casino with blackjack, slot machines, and prostitution)

-The Bedlam Arms (expensive hotel with high-class restaurant, ballroom, and escort service)

-The Wolfram Building (city's tallest skyscraper, offices of Wolfram Aerospace)

-The W.E.B. Complex ("Wolfram Engineering Bedlam"; maze of factory corridors making jet and missile parts)

-HBC Refinery (Howle-Brandt Consortium's polluted, unsafe jet fuel refinery)

-Numbers Row (dangerous homeless camp in the center of the rows of corporate dormitories)

 

Greely Point (Fifth Precinct)

The stronghold of the Gorganzua mafia family, Greely Point is an odd combination: shabby, recent warehouses along the busy docks lead up to the base of a steep hill, atop which lies one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. Some of the mouldering mansions that cling to the cliffs and the sides of the narrow streets have been converted into apartments, but others further in are home to the members of Bedlam's old money aristocracy who didn't leave for Stone Ridge. The neighborhood is extremely insular past the docks, and doesn't welcome outsiders. Still, it's one of Bedlam's most profitable areas thanks to what has become near-constant traffic from Marduk Shipping.

 

Important Locations:

-Lurman Gallery (home to an impressive but disturbing collection of taboo art)

-Greely Point Branch Library (quiet and largely empty atop the hill)

-Hugo Grimm Friends' School (famously intense elementary school)

-Bedlam Cathedral (large, imposing Catholic church)

-High School 019 (small, old, illegally segregated school)

 

Rook Island

Once touted as the area that would restore Bedlam's prosperity, the Rook Island Shipping Terminal might have managed it if the Scarpias hadn't gotten greedy. They extorted too much out of incoming shipping, and soon no one wanted to do business here, though the once pristine neighborhoods to the north had already been ruined by the noise and pollution. A few ships still come and go, but most of the warehouses sit empty. A small naval museum stands on the island, with dioramas of the way the area used to be and detailed, unedited descriptions of the city's sordid past, but visitors are rare; it stays open only as a phantom employer the Scarpias can pay their soldiers through.

 

City Outskirts

Important Locations:

-Maniac Park (home to the Bedlam Maniacs baseball team; north of the city, on Slaughter Road)

-Colossal Guns (gun store; north of the city, on Slaughter Road)

-County Courthouse (north of the city, along Slaughter Road)

-Bedlam City Jail (hopelessly overcrowded and full of corrupt, abusive guards; north of the city, along Bramwell Road)

-Juvenile Hall (wretched and violent, with utter degenerates as guards and administrators; west of the city, along State Route 10)

-The Chinch Bug (trucker bar, business location for the smugglers of the Thunder Road; west of the city, along State Route 10)

-Bald Knob Penitentiary (state prison run half by the Scarpia underboss and half by Wolverton crime lord Lincoln Stone; south along I-43)

-Crawley Asylum (former girls' school converted to mental asylum, troubled but under devoted leadership; south along Terminal Dr.)

-Belchner College (good place for rich kids to get a degree while goofing off; south along Schulberg Ave.)

 

 

Major Threats

 

The Labyrinth

Bedlam's conspiracy theorists are right: there really is a shadowy authority manipulating the city, infiltrating the daily lives of its civilians. Through Wolfram Airspace, a high-tech firm that designs battlesuits, cybernetics, and combat aircraft with a sideline in urban management, it owns city hall. Through the privatized Bedlam Parking Authority and Bedlam Animal Control Service it exerts mob-free influence over the streets. Through Universal Light and Power it controls the flow of electricity to every citizen's home and place of employment. Martuk Shipping dominates traffic at the waterfront, and Asclepian Associates supplies all of the city's hospitals.

 

Its influence is even more direct through their ownership of the Swedish conglomerate known as the Karsten-Borghelm Group. Almost no one in Bedlam has heard of this coalition of investors, but a large percentage of the working poor are all too familiar with their investment: Humanity, Inc., a temp firm that has undercut most of the city's unskilled labor unions. With the Longshoremen broken, it's Humanity's wage-slaves who unload the Martuk crates at Rook Island, and that's the least dangerous job they underpay their desperate workers for. They don't ask about immigration status or criminal records, and they don't pay for safety equipment, so their costs are low.

 

It also quietly owns Iron Talon International, a paramilitary firm providing brutally effective security for the wealthy, and even Sports Ventures International, which manages the Bedlam Maniacs baseball team.

 

Recently, the arrival of the famously humanitarian Grant Conglomerate created a stir of excitement and even hope in Bedlam, where new employers are rare. In truth, very little about the company's presence is new beyond the glowing press it has received. It represents Taurus's latest, most forceful effort to "fix" a blighted, disordered city. The extreme dysfunction represents a dual opportunity to the Labyrinth's elusive master. First, a city where so many slip through the cracks without a trace represents a perfect "recruiting" and testing ground for the DNAscent process and other such research. Second, it's a chance to rebuild a fallen city into Taurus's darkly gleaming ideal.

 

 

SHADOW and Der Oktopus

The long, ugly history of white supremacy in Bedlam is best exemplified by the racist organization known as the Phantom Empire, an anti-black, anti-immigrant terror group secretly backed by many of the city's wealthy founding elite. First coming to prominence during the Civil War, it reached the height of its power in the 1920's, only to be undone by growing Mafia influence in the city. Their sentiments still simmered beneath the surface, however, and when Hitler rose to power many members who had gone underground found a new ideology to rally around: Nazism. They reemerged as the pro-Reich terror group Der Blutbanner.

 

Although their efforts, including the infamous "Black Passover" plot to murder all of the city's most prominent Jews in a single night, were largely foiled by Sammy "Snap-Brim" Hammer and his Flying Squad, their contributions did not go unnoticed in Nazi Germany. When the Third Reich fell and its surviving supporters scattered, "Final Solution" supervisor Adolph Eichmann's number two man Alois Brunner spirited away some of the last Nazi secret projects for safekeeping among supporters in Bedlam. The fact that the US government brought several Nazi scientists to the city during Operation Paperclip only strengthened his network.

 

Reaching out to other German fugitives, Brunner created a cabal of wealthy and powerful surviving Nazis he called Der Oktopus. But when he ran into his former compatriot Wilhelm Kantor while in hiding in Panama, he learned of the other's vastly more powerful organization: SHADOW. Recognizing Kantor as his superior and his best hope of maintaining power, Brunner (under the codename "The Black Eagle") allowed his organization to become a subsidiary of SHADOW. Where OVERTHROW is Kantor's blunt force tool, Der Oktopus is his intelligence service. Their foothold in Bedlam is the Snacktastic Candy Company, beneath which lies a trove of Nazi super-technology.

 

Whatever plans Overshadow has in the Midwest, South America, or the Middle East are often delegated to the Black Eagle, now his lethally cunning lieutenant and spymaster.

 

 

The Mafia Families

Once upon a time there were three mob families in Bedlam: the Scarpias, the Gorganzuas, and the Igglionis. Due to the odd bureaucracy of the criminal underworld they fell under the New York commission of the Cosa Nostra, rather than the much closer Chicago outfit, and actually managed to offend the latter so badly that they are unwelcome in Chicago to this day. Nor was their balance of power to last. In a cunning coup, the Scarpias assassinated the Igglioni leadership and absorbed their soldiers, becoming the city's most powerful mob family overnight. Bedlam is now deadlocked in an uneasy peace between Scarpias and Gorganzuas.

 

The Scarpias, under rough-and-tumble former street thug "Dapper Donny" Scarpia, remain the larger group, with the biggest slice of the pie: they dominate Stark Hill and the Rook Island Shipping Terminal. Across the Manitowoc River, the Gorganzuas are technically led by the reclusive Leopardo "Young Junior" Gorganzua, but day to day operations are handled by his vicious 400-pound daughter "Tiny" Tina Gorganzua. Because this smaller family owns the much more profitable Greely Point Docks, they are much wealthier than the Scarpias. That's likely to lead to trouble, but the New York Commission has forbidden war for now.

 

The Freedom City mob families are also under the New York Commission, and as such they sometimes cooperate with the Bedlam mob. Mobsters who need to lay low from heat in either city sometimes switch places (usually in the Bedlam direction unless the Feds get involved or they're hiding from other mobsters, as the Bedlam mob owns the local cops), and evidence that needs to completely disappear from Freedom City makes its way up through the Great Lakes and into a deep grave in Bedlam. In turn, Freedom City acts as a smuggling gateway for illegal goods coming to Bedlam from Eurasian markets.

 

All of the gangs of Hardwick Park and Wolverton pay tribute to both mafia families, and most of the police department is owned by one or the other. They have their claws into the city council as well.

 

 

The Gangs

The biggest, most fearsome gang in Bedlam are the Mara, based in Hardwick Park. They have unified most of the local Hispanic gangs under their quasi-occult banner, and are rumored to practice dark magic and blood sacrifice in half-Aztec half-Santeria rituals. Their leader, the Jigsaw Man, is rumored to be a powerful sorcerer who rips out the hearts of his enemies or causes them to be eaten by rats and bugs from the inside out. He is one of the most feared people in Bedlam, and has designs on expansion. Only two Hardwick Park gangs haven't yet been absorbed into the Mara: the Latin Aces and the girl gang known as Los Furies.

 

Opposing the Mara are the African-American street gangs of Wolverton, many of whom have banded together against the outside threat in a coalition known as the "Last of the Last". They are led by Eensty Z, a charismatic but psychotic and brutal fifteen-year-old who has already personally killed more people than the average army sniper. All the gangs of Wolverton, including those who oppose of the Last of the Last (the A's, the O's, and the Ravens), are subordinate to local crime lords Rock Johnson and Lincoln Stone (The Rock and the Stone), who have divided the major vice rackets between them.

 

Up on Stark Hill, three gangs clash with the gangs of Hardwick Park and Wolverton and provide the Scarpias with recruits: the Viscounts, the Coronets, and the Dukes. They are classic, leather jacket wearing "youth clubs" with brutal initiations and mumbo-jumbo traditions. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the city, the trailer park known as Shady Meadows is the domain of bikers, skinheads, and meth cooks. The violent 1%-er biker gang known as The Brotherhood terrorize the area, while the criminal trucker network known as Thunder Road runs guns, drugs, and hot or stolen items into and out of Bedlam.

 

The once-mighty and still dangerous Jamaican posse known as the Invincible Ya-Ya Massive has territory in the Country Club and lower Wolverton, and guards it fiercely.

 

 

The Outsiders

Two Chinese Triads, the mystical Iron Wind Society and the flashier, more openly brutal Yip-Wing Tong, have permission from the Scarpias to do business in Bedlam. They have a small presence and deal in human trafficking, drug smuggling, prostitution, identity forgery, and extortion. There is some bad blood between the two; the Iron Wind Society owes fealty to the criminal mastermind Dr. Sin, while the Yip-Wing Tong flaunts both tradition and his authority. The Yakuza don't have a long-term presence in Bedlam, but they've operated in the city before, seeking and gaining permission to hunt down traitors who fled Emerald City.

 

A traditional "brotherhood of thieves" Russian Mafia group called the Vorovskoy Bratva, under the mysterious Red Queen, also does business in Bedlam. They have close connections to the Russians that run much of the smuggling along Freedom City's waterfront, and frequently transport illegal goods between the two cities. However, they have caused some friction in the local underworld because they often neglect to ask for permission from the mob families before launching their operations. Finally, a skinhead motorcycle gang known as the Bloody Cross has started peddling drugs out of the Country Club on behalf of a Mexican cartel - a dangerous proposition without Mafia approval.

 

 

The Secret Societies

Rumor has it that, in 1850, a mad monk named Brother Belphegor had dreams of resurrecting the Inquisition and founded the Opus Ombra, a fanatical anti-mage cult. In actuality, it might well have been the demon Belphegor in disguise. Whatever the truth, the cult devoted itself to exterminating all those who use "satanic" powers, meaning all supernatural creatures and anyone with supernatural powers, benevolent or otherwise. In order to accomplish this, they themselves began to use dark magic, believing that they were performing the ultimate sacrifice in the name of faith by accepting damnation to use evil's own weapons against it.

 

There is also a rumor that Bedlam's woes are not solely the result of human greed and corruption. Nearly a hundred years ago, a terrible tragedy occurred at a girls' boarding school in Bedlam for reasons best left unexplored. It is said that the survivors gathered together as a cabal of witches, the Sisterhood of the Screaming Stars, to seek revenge on the city whose founders had wreaked awful evil upon them. They reached out to the Unspeakable One, weakening the walls of reality around Bedlam and allowing Its corrosive madness and ruin to infect the city's soul and bring it a lingering death. Some say their final blow will soon come to fruition.

 

A final, pervasive Bedlam rumor is about the secret organization known as CAIN (Commission to Analyze and Influence Neohumans). The story goes that the U.S. Department of Defense and CIA had long feared that Jack Simmons's AEGIS was too close to superheroes to recognize them as the national security threat they were, and that AEGIS could not be trusted to assure American superiority during the Cold War. After MK-Ultra ended in 1973, the project was quietly rolled over into a new, hyper-secret division of the DoD that worked on nullifying superhumans. After the rise and fall of the Moore Act era, the highly-compartmentalized department with the secret budget was forgotten... except by its own agents.

 

Whether any of these are true, and if so whether the associated organizations remain active, remains to be seen

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