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Correct re:PP totals, KD. 

 

Okay, our top choices are 'neighbors' of - 

 

Green Bay, WI 

Cleveland, OH 

St. Louis, MO

 

There are definitely potential for shady government ops, D42.

 

Any thoughts?

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I'd vote Green Bay.  Easier to justify big seagoing style container ships off the great lakes than the MIssissippi or Missouri, and the climate is more northern.  And cleveland is already on a hellmouth Bedlam is the terrible place down the road from a NORMAL city :)

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So having given the book a more thorough read I've noticed a few things that we may want to address.  

 

As I mentioned above the statted characters are uniformly high PL for a street crime level setting.  If you can face off against one of the big bads the mafia soldiers and gangland thugs are not going to be much threat even in mass.  Alot of them strike me as trying too hard to be grim and coming out as comic evil instead of gritty as well so we might just want ot focus on making our own Bedlam rogues gallery more tied to whatever PCs end up there and just tie those into the well designed mafia families and gangs.

 

The bigger issue I've noticed is that there is a certain degree of inconsistency to the world design.  While they are clearly going for industrial decay and corrupt government with high crime and unemployment it lacks development in the realms of the division of haves and have nots.  I get the feeling that's the intended purpose of the Stone Ridge community, and the couple of high society families mentioned but even those are mostly listed as being in decline if not outright broke.  Effectively the Economic 'Winners' of Bedlam are absent or woefully underdeveloped.  This leaves the setting to me feeling a little more flat and seems to lack the nuance of the dirty streets below the shining towers that makes up your usual urban dystopias and gives characters something more to interact with.

 

I think they try to counter this a bit with the Meadows and Airport area being an actual growth sector and the shift to Greely point for shipping leading to some growth there.  But how Air freight is growth industry and shipping isn't is not well defined nor are any players that are not actively criminal in the economic scale.  The old money families and mafia cozy up in Stone ridge sure but there is no real room for the cutthroat executives or shady corporate security guys to be taking advantage of the situation.

 

The easy tie in I think is the city manager.  He's already a part of the privatizing of government going on in Bedlam and his Corporate overlords are listed as an aerospace company.  Perhaps instead of the air freight being the growth industry for airport and meadows region the boom is the opening of some aerospace manufacturing and a small R&D wing near the airport.  The Redevelopment commision could have pushed for massive tax breaks and land use easements to entice the company in and it's interests are monitored by the city manager.  Meanwhile the old Mafia families have a brewing battle over those sweet construction contracts and the take on shipping through Greely or Rook Island and trying to get their fingers int he pie of any growth happening to support workers in those areas.  The Aerospace execs might be in Stone ridge or maybe a recently repossessed corporate owned and patrolled skyscraper in downtown.  It's not enough to really improve the lot in life of hte average Bedlam resident and the distance to work at the new aerospace factory is a real problem for residents across the river in Bedlam proper but there is some flashy new money in town to draw the divide between the haves and have nots more sharply.

 

This is just off the top of my head as I looked through trying to tie in new characters to the setting and figure out what kind of threads might run out of Bedlam.  I may be misreading the intent of hte setting and it's just supposed to be closer to a post apoc dystopia than urban one so I'm open to be corrected if I missed the tonal goals here.

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Lots of good discussion going on here. I'll throw in my two cents on a few of the issues raised so far.

 

Wisconsin Superhero Laws: I think having restrictive Superhero laws in Wisconsin (or wherever) is a fantastic idea to help explain the setting. There has been no super-team in Bedlam since 1999, when Justice Xtreme disbanded, and it was never a superhuman hot-spot; such laws could explain why. My first thought is that Bedlam's superhero litigation would come about due to the activities of its former resident vigilante The Scorpion. Although brutally effective against even the normally untouchable Mafia families, the Scorpion was not a nice guy, and the FBI under Hoover spent a lot of time trying to hunt him down.

 

The Scorpion, undefeatable and uncatchable scourge of the criminal underworld, died of lung cancer in 1963, though no one knew anything about that except that he had vanished. Some years later, Bedlam suffered a major superhuman scandal when a superteam called The Now was arrested for horrifying crimes. It was a frame job, but it made people worry about the possibility that more violent criminals would become Scorpion copycats. In response, in 1972 the state of Wisconsin (or just Bedlam) passed Assembly Bill 591, which became popularly known as the Scorpion Statutes.

 

The bill prohibited vigilante activity in Wisconsin/Bedlam, and Mayor Franklin Moore adapted much of its language for the Moore Act ten years later. Clayton Stone (aka "Black Anvil") operated in spite of this law, and the Hammer of Justice got by because he was a mob-backed racist. Fear of the serial killer Capricorn kept support for measures against "costumed freaks" high throughout the eighties.

 

With the restoration of superhero-related optimism after the terminus invasion, Moore Act-like measures became very unpopular, and many cities and states repealed such legislation. Bedlam was slow, cynical, and still heavily influenced by the mob, so it took longer. But in 1998 the Scorpion Statutes were amended... slightly. While vigilantism was not completely illegal under the revised statutes, it remained heavily restricted: superheroes did not have legal identities, and therefore did not have the rights of citizens. If they disclosed their true identities, they had the same rights they would normally have; no citizens' arrests, etc.

 

Of course, they could then be charged with crimes such as trespassing, assault, and the like.

 

This was all to pave the way for the arrival of Justice Xtreme, a superteam backed by the city government and therefore immune to some of the issues raised for costumed heroes by the Statutes, in 1999. The team, of course, proved to be a disaster. The revised Scorpion Statutes remain in place, but in the post-Xtreme mood of renewed cynicism toward superheroes some are pushing for the revisions to be repealed so that any and all vigilante activity is punishable by arrest. Except for the Hammer of Justice, of course. He's a stand-up guy.

 

 

Have-Nots, but no Haves: I can see the objection here; we've got stagnating aristocracy but no one getting genuinely rich off of the common man's misery. On the one hand, that may be one way to play Bedlam: the city is dying, and even the old money and the crime syndicates are just pulling the pieces off of its corpse before it rots away to nothing. On the other, iron age-y settings thrive on conspiracies, corruption, and corporate bad guys, so it might be nice to have some. The sourcebook notes that it's very possible to add districts to Bedlam if something is missing, so here's my solution: the Babylon district, incorporating some of angrydurf's ideas.

 

Just a thought to get the ball rolling; no offense taken if this feels like too big of a change.

 

Spoiler

Babylon

Across the river from downtown Bedlam, between the neighborhoods of Greeley Point and The Meadows, lies the Babylon commercial district, the city's last trickle of economic lifeblood. Once a forested area penetrated only by the lonely, winding Riversedge Drive, it is now a stark industrial hellscape. The dark steel and glass of the glitzy office buildings and hotels at the edges of the area rise above the dark cloud pumped out by the needle-like factory smokestacks in between. The smog-choked streets host an odd blend of sparkling limousines and homeless people eager to squeegee their windshields.

 

Depending on who you ask, Babylon is either the Redevelopment Commission's one tentative success or the greatest indication that it was deeply flawed from the start. Founded on heavy corporate tax breaks, pollution deregulation, and labor law relaxations designed to attract big business back to Bedlam, the area began construction with the last of the Commission's funds after the Justice Xtreme debacle in 1999. In 2005 the company providing Bedlam's city manager service, Wolfram Aerospace, bought a controlling share in the development project, and everything changed for the dying city from there.

 

As Bedlam's traditional manufacturers, Snacktastic and the Greely Toy Company, continued to stagnate, a new employer took shape across the river. Wolfram Aerospace had secured a lucrative contract with the U.S. government producing jet engines and missile parts for the Air Force, and in 2008 it chose the area to establish the W.E.B. Industrial Complex (W.E.B. stands for Wolfram Engineering Bedlam). Land was dirt cheap after the real estate crash, and Wolfram soon owned not only the development commission but virtually the entire Babylon district.

 

The incentives Wolfram had been offered allowed them to pocket virtually all of the revenue, with the city council taking the rest; locals got minimum wage jobs, but at least they had jobs now. By 2011, Babylon was taking shape. Wolfram had built gleaming office buildings along the river and several high-class hotels to cater to visiting businessmen and executives. A second major employer, seeing Wolfram's success and the continued laxity of corporate regulation, soon arrived to carve out its piece of the pie: the Howle-Brandt Consortium, which established a massive chemical plant and jet fuel refinery in the district.

 

Both companies built corporate dormitories in place of local apartments, with rents that come directly out of the factory workers' minimum wage salaries and effectively keep them trapped in the area. Still, huge streams of the unemployed of Wolverton and Hardwick Park take two hour bus rides across the river in the hopes of getting some kind of work for the day. Meanwhile the new money produced by corporate success bought their way into Stone Ridge or penthouses in the waterfront skyscrapers. Iron Talon security brutally keeps the poor workers from inconveniencing the nearby high-rollers.

 

Babylon is technically in Gorganzua territory, with much of its output flowing through the Greeley Point docks and the airport out in The Meadows. The area's success has caused tremendous resentment among the Scarpias, whose territory is the dying old city, and there has been fierce, sometimes violent competition for construction contracts in Babylon. Another area of competition for the mob families are the riverboat casinos that have become the playground of the city's rich and their visitors. Legal through a loophole of Wisconsin law, they comprise a significant new gambling industry and mob revenue stream.

 

Nowhere else in the city do the haves brush shoulders so closely with the have-nots. But few dare complain; this is Bedlam's only real growth sector.

 

Points of Interest:

 

The Heart of Dixie Casino: The Scarpias' main foothold in Babylon, the Heart of Dixie looks like a classic Mississippi riverboat, complete with paddle wheel and decked out with strings of lights. It offers semi-authentic Cajun food, live country music, and an expansive bar to accompany roulette wheels, craps tables, and well-attended card games. In a major coup for the Scarpias, it hosts locally televised poker tournaments with huge jackpots, drawing considerable viewership in addition to its crowds. City councilman Big Andy Czernik often treats his guests to a meal here.

 

The Lucky Lady Casino: The Gorganzuas also have a casino boat, though the Lucky Lady looks more like a scaled down 30's cruise liner. While the Heart of Dixie has something of an elitist reputation, with high buy-ins and very firm doormen, the Lucky Lady is an everyman's casino. Its slot machines are frequented by Wolfram and Howle-Brandt employees spending the last stubs of their plundered paychecks on a moment's hope. The Lucky Lady is also a hotel, though not a glitzy one. The lower decks are dingy and faded, and many of the rooms are rented hourly.

 

The Bedlam Arms: Bedlam City's finest hotel, the Bedlam Arms is an extremely expensive riverfront skyscraper designed for visiting businessmen. Thanks to the Gorganzuas, it hosts Bedlam's premier escort service, tastefully known as "Formal Presentations". In an olive branch to the city's old families, it hosts weekly dances and social gatherings in its massive formal ballroom, which has its own professional orchestra and outrageously pricey catered food. When the inhabitants of Stone Ridge dare to leave their gated suburb and venture into Bedlam, chances are that this is where they'll go.

 

The Wolfram Building: At forty-seven stories high, the Wolfram Building has replaced the strange, half-finished Smirlock Building as Bedlam City's tallest skyscraper. Built of steel and tinted glass, this silver and black behemoth represents the company's largest office outside of its Delaware headquarters and the city's biggest white-collar employer. There are a lot of rumors surrounding the structure's seemingly endless levels of parking garages and the black SUVs that drive into and out of them at all times of night. Almost as many as there are about the penthouse level, which no known Bedlamite has ever seen so much as a picture of...

 

The W.E.B. Complex: One of Bedlam's largest employers is this munitions and aircraft plant, a sprawling compound containing miles of underground assembly lines and transportation corridors. Most of the workers are under harsh contract and live in the area's corporate dormitories, but busloads of desperate men and women from across the river are given the really nasty, dangerous jobs like hazardous materials cleanup and moving sharp, heavy crates. It's rumored that secret sublevels here contain all manner of secret projects. If so, they are well-guarded; Wolfram has federal dispensation to provide its security teams with power armor.

 

The HBC Refinery: Bedlam's other new money industrial employer is the Howle-Brandt Consortium's local chemical plant and jet fuel refinery. Thanks to a lack of regulation and thus a lack of safeguards and safety equipment, this is probably the most dangerous place in Bedlam to work long-term; employee contracts exploit the city's incentives to make sure that their health insurance won't cover the healthcare costs of the cancer and lung disease that so many of the workers here develop. Fumes from the plant have caused a massive die-back in the nearby forest, and local groundwater has dangerous levels of heavy metals.

 

Numbers Row: At the heart of the rows of corporate dormitories that take up much of the space between the W.E.B. and the HBC plant lies the homeless camp known as Numbers Row. It was originally meant to be a public park, but it became choked with the destitute long before development could begin. This tent and cardboard box city is full of people laid off from local industrial plants, often maimed on the assembly line but denied workers' comp. Life is cheap here as in no other place in Bedlam save the lawless streets of the Country Club, and Iron Talon cracks down on the area with stark, clockwork regularity.

 

Edited by Kaige

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I'm working on a new map that faces the right direction and has location markers, both with and without the potential Babylon district, but I ran out of oomph this evening. One more thought:

 

Villains Aren't Street-Level: Agreed. Fortunately, there are a lot of spaces for people to create their own villains. A few such spots include:

 

- For corrupt cops, the Fifth Precinct (and the Sixth if we use Babylon) is left completely open, and most of the detective squads have only a few characters.

- For mafia villains, only two of the ten plus Scarpia captains are detailed in the book. The Gorganzuas have fewer overall captains, but almost none are detailed.

- For street gangs, neither the Mara nor any of the youth gangs of Wolverton or Stark Hill has more than a single character detailed, leaving lots of room. The gangs of the Country Club are barely described.

- For evil bikers, the Bloody Cross up in the Country Club has only one character detailed, and the Brotherhood has only three. The trucker smugglers of Thunder Road have no characters.

- For other organized crime, the Triads have only one character each. Same for the Russian mob and the Jamaican posse. The Rock and the Stone have only a few defined soldiers.

 

I'm also working on taking the existing villains and scaling them down in PL while adding some Freedom-verse elements to their backgrounds, though that doesn't fix the fact that some are comic evil rather than gritty.

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I know that location has already been pretty much decided on. But i do want to point out that Bedlam City, as it's shown in the book, is literally Vallejo California.
The highways line up right, Rook Island shipping terminal is Mare Island, and the coastline is basically identical. Really the only thing missing is a soul destroying amusement park and that Vallejo also extends west over the highway into mostly suburbia.

Also only a short ferry ride away from San Francisco so there's your big city that's conveniently nearby but far enough away to not steal focus.

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I actually like very much the comic evil tone of many of Bedlam's villains - not the gross ones like Smashface, but fellows like the Pope and the like. Bedlam would just be sad and awful if it was _too_ gritty and realistic - and the relatively high PL of villains like the Hammer of Justice means that characters will need to team up if they want to fight him. 

 

I think the blank spots on the villain roster are designed to encourage PC development of antagonists, which is a great idea. 


Kaige, you are AWESOME - is there anything more we can do to support your endeavors? 

 

So it seems like we're thinking a near-neighbor to Green Bay is the best place for Bedlam? Where were you thinking, Kaige, some place like the site of Sturgeon Bay?

 

 

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Thanks! I've been having fun with this so far. I do think it would be lovely if the people planning Bedlam characters would consider a thread to talk backgrounds and such in order to create cohesion in the newly-launched setting, though I don't know if that is how things are done here.

 

I was thinking of a location a ways south of Sturgeon Bay, plunking Bedlam down on top of Manitowoc (evenly between Green Bay and Milwaukee). We can move it, but I would have to redo the map. Due to my version of Bedlam's location between the two cities, I extended the sorta-subway train line so that it runs to both of them, with five additional stops in the city. If that violates the spirit of the city we want, it's an easy fix.

 

imageproxy.php?img=http%3A%2F%2Fi.imgur.

 

I have redrawn and reoriented the map given in the sourcebook to match the outflow of the Manitowoc River into Lake Michigan, and I've also added the Babylon district I proposed (though that is easy to erase if people don't like it!). I also put together a list of all of Bedlam's major structures with the intent of putting together a number-coded location map like the one in the Freedom City book, but that's not in yet. I will have to either pick only a few highlights or make the map a lot bigger because there are a LOT of locations described in the book. I have already had to take some artistic license with a few spots which are not given clear map locations.

 

Without further ado, I give you the revised city map of Bedlam City, Wisconsin. Feedback is very welcome; I may well have missed something, or it may not fit your vision. Just let me know.

 

qbkhcFt.jpg

Edited by Kaige

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....

That is AMAZING.

This honestly looks (and feels), like something right out a professional publication.

I'm not gonna have a lot of things happening in Bedlam most likely, but this does make it a lot more tempting to do something with Bedlam anyways!

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First, Kaige, you're putting out some amazing work, man. Mad Props.

Second, I agree with the "near Green Bay" location decision (besides, now all the hard work has been done, we can't move it again!).

Third, I have the very rough draft of an idea for a potential Bedlam character.

 

Highlights:

-Highly charismatic, something of a "leader of men".

-Shabby appearance at a glance, long hair and beard, worn clothing.

-Uses fiery rhetoric to preach against the corruption and decay of the city, especially the exploitation of the poor by the rich, and the deep racial divides in the city ("We're all brothers and sisters, all family, man"). 

-Probably a pseudo-preacher type; Southern Baptist or Pentecostal type, albeit some subtle twists and turns. Heavily apocalyptic, just on the city-scale instead of world-scale. 

-Fights hand-to-hand, but misfortune always seems to befall his foes at the worst times.

--Possibly also has an unusually strong crucifix or similar item he uses against particularly "deserving" foes. 

-Crunch wise he'd probably have lots of unarmed combat, grapple feats, probably some iteration on Luck Control, and likely several of the leadership/inspiration style feats. 

-Might also have a device that lets him use a Suffocate power

-He's a hero, but, you know, Bedlam, so yeah. 

 

Spoiler

Yes for those wondering this is basically anti-hero Bray Wyatt, with slightly less backwoods-cult-style beliefs/teachings, and possibly using a crucifix or the like in a manner similar to the main villain from the just-released Tarzan movie. 

 

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I'm still working on other things. But an Idea I have been toying with when it comes to Bedlam is someone who decides to model themselves after mystery men from the golden age (Think The Shadow and others like him) Mostly following the logic that Modern superheroes are not exactly popular in the area and that normal men in masks going after the mafia makes more sense for someone without superpowers. Would need to work out the backstory and figure out a name but otherwise he should not be too hard to stat up at least.

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So, again, don't have the books, so I'm bouncing things out here since I think they're worth bouncing around anyways...

 

Obviously the city government is corrupt, the cops are corrupt, the corporations are corrupt, the city's corrupt, so much corruption. But it's not literally a city with no good people; it's just that the good people are probably a.) poor, and b.) beaten down by the oppression and corruption and general suckitude, yeah?

 

With that in mind, what's the thoughts on a backstory that perhaps includes multiple instances of the city putting the boot down on honest charitable efforts to feed, cloth, and generally aid the homeless? Insert vapid bureaucratic excuses about affecting homeless patterns, negatively reinforcing bad behavior, whatever.

But escalating to the point of good men and women from, say, a couple of small (poor) in-city churches who were driving around handing out hot meals to the homeless and poor, due to "violating city regulations" etc. etc.?

I'm definitely not angling to make it all about religion, but it seems like a possible angle for an extra dose of "this place sucks", and it's the kind of petty, banal evil that maybe PCs could occasionally affect and reverse as time goes on. 

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Well most of the population is as good as anywhere, they just don't have the resources or power t do much about the problems.  There is also alot of factional stuff going on in the city that undermines any real attempts to fix anything.  The deep seated racism of the neighborhoods means that even charitable attempts that try to cross those lines are met with suspicion and the criminal elements on both sides are likely to intervene and cause trouble.  The Police don't really have an interest in protecting what they'd at best consider pointless endeavors, like if you go to that neighborhood and get robbed of course you did what were you thinking.

 

One thing that is true though is that within the neighborhoods not crossing those racial lines there often is low level charity work going on it's just not enough to turn the city around and often reinforces rather than breaks down the kinda tribalism that splits the populace.  Not getting permits is less likely to be due to corruption than just plain high fees charged by a early bankrupts city government or a service that got shut down due to lack of funding.  Some charities are also used as fronts for the gangs and mafia groups too.  Or just for smaller scale terrible people.  There is one self styled 'Pope' that is using a scam like that for some nefarious junk.  I only skimmed his stuff as I wasn't planning on using it for anything I run personally.

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Th' Pope is one of Bedlam's native supervillains - he's basically the Burgess Meredith Penguin if he hung out with more ladies dressed like sexy kickboxing nuns. 

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@KnightDisciple there are a few genuinely good charitable organizations that have managed to survive so far in Bedlam (the Celestial Spirit Fellowship [nondenominational shelter for children], the local battered women's shelter, the Wolverton and Hardwick Park free clinics, the Stone Ridge Animal Shelter), but there's plenty of room for shakedowns and harassment of charity workers. In the situation you describe, it's probably something that would come from the police. Some corrupt officers might try to shake down the hot meal providers. It'd be either, "Ma'am, distribution of food to the homeless is a misdemeanor; it encourages them to stay out on the street instead of getting jobs. There's a $50 fine. We can take care of it right here, if you want to save the hassle of going down to the station." OR "Ma'am, you need an aid work permit to distribute free meals. I can provide you with one for fifty bucks." And the next time they come by, their "permit" has "expired".

 

Charity workers might also run into problems due to neighborhood gangs. Distributing medical aid in Wolverton or Hardwick Park is a good way to get Eesntsy Z's or the Mara's attention, respectively, as they would want to control that resource for their guys (and they might enforce letting their guys get first dibs on hot meals, too). White, Asian, and Hispanic workers in Wolverton and White, Black, or Asian workers in Hardwick Park run the risk of getting mugged, and it's practically guaranteed for anyone who tries to help out in Ash Street, the Country Club, or south Babylon. Minority charity workers in Stark Hill or Greely Point, even with the best of intentions and good results for the local homeless or injured, run the risk of being spat upon or beaten by local youth gangs, and the police would almost certainly turn a blind eye to such treatment.

 

There are genuinely good people in Bedlam (public defender Fido Turwood, tireless and selfless priest Father Dennis, women's shelter legal advisor Marla Zaranovsky), but they tend to be beaten down by both the system and crime.

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All right - my current plan is to get Bedlam up forum-wise by August 1. But we should have the backstory stuff up by then. 

 

Kaige - you have my official permission to start getting a Guidebook page up! Do you need any help with the logistics of that? I'd be happy to get you in touch with someone like Electra who has more experience with doing that. 

 

Are there any other Bedlam thoughts people have?

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Great, looking forward to it!

 

I got the guidebook page up. Let me know if I overdid it; I got a little excited.

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