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The San Francisco described in this campaign setting is slightly different from the “canonical” San Francisco of Shadowrun, as described in City by Shadows: San Francisco Metroplex. While many aspects of both versions are compatible, a few things aren’t.
Most notably, the “historical” San Francisco — the neighborhoods of North Beach and Telegraph Hill, including Chinatown — have been severely hit by the earthquakes of 2061 and 2069, as well as the Crash of 2064. Many buildings crumbled, leaving entire districts in ruins. To make matters worse, under General Saito’s rule this part of town was turned into what was essentially a metahuman ghetto, earning the nickname “Freaktown”.
Things are getting better now, and following Saito’s removal from power the tensions between the metahumans and the “norms” have gotten less venomous , but the efforts to rebuild the city have so far mostly forgotten Freaktown, thus driving a wedge between “Old” and “New” San Francisco. Little by little, gentrification is coming to Old San Francisco, but not everybody is happy about that — on both sides.
New San Francisco
“Sparkling like a chunk of cubic zirconia, the island of hollow beauty that is New San Francisco rose from the ashes,
but it was reborn without any of the style or flavour of the Old City.”
New San Francisco is all about shiny skyscrapers, neon lights and towers of glass and steel. The heart of the city is still located in Financial District, which serves as the home of the major corporations (including some local players, such as Terraform Corp., Percival Enterprises and Gideon Enterprises). But while New Frisco has a heart, as greedy as it is, it definitely lacks a soul.
Places of interest:
- Mission Street Police Station, with its massive asterisk-shaped building, is one of the major precinct of the San Francisco Police Department. Interestingly enough, its jurisdiction covers both the Financial District and Old Frisco.
- Knickerbocker Tower is located on Market Street, on the southern edge of Financial District. With a great view on the bay and a top-notch security service, this luxurious high-rise for the super rich seems to come straight out of a J.G. Ballard novel. Eddie Ching, the leader of the Ching Syndicate, reportedly owns a whole floor.
- North Hill Clinic can be found on the Presidio, and prides itself with its upper class clientèle, comprised of the corporate elite and bigwigs politicians. North Hill’s security was provided by Gideon Enterprises, and the clinic has a contract with DeLeon Health Services, which supplies them with many technologically advanced medications, including cutting-edge anti-aging drugs.
“A hundred years ago, in Sam Spade’s San Francisco, the Mission District was a rough part of town.
Fifty years ago, god-fearing folk stayed out of the area unless they were armed to the teeth.
Now, even the police has stopped visiting.”
Mission District is the proof that where there is light, there are shadows. The proximity with Mission Bay makes this area a crossroad for all sorts of shady trades, and the various criminal organizations of Frisco have their claws in this neighborhood. Most of the local gangs have sworn allegiance to either the Yakuza or the Triads.
Places of interest:
- The Alhambra Theater is one of the last flatvid cinemas of San Francisco. But it’s also a meeting place for smugglers and jewel traffickers. This is not surprising when you know the owner of the place is none other than Franco Franco, one of the most successful (and well-dressed) fences of the San Francisco shadows.
Old San Francisco
“The world took a bullet in the head and now Old San Francisco floats face down in a red sea sky.”
Old Francisco is a poor district, but it is also a proud district. Its inhabitants survived many hardships by counting on themselves and helping each other, and they have grown distrustful of outsiders, resenting New San Francisco’s money. Under Saito’s rule, Old San Francisco was colloquially known as “Freaktown”. This decayed and unsanitary part of town was little more than a ghetto for Metahumans — nicknamed “goyles”, for “gargoyles”, in the local slang — and even now that it is referred to with a more politically correct name, it still doesn’t count a lot of norms among its denizens. The law rarely visits Old Frisco, and as a result the buying and selling of hot property is one of the district’s leading enterprises.
Places of interest:
- Chinatown, once one of San Francisco’s most famous districts and a major tourist attraction, is now firmly under the control of the Triads, especially Eddie Ching’s organization. The Golden Pagoda is considered one of the best Chinese restaurants of the area.
“Your office reminds me of the detective movies I loved to watch as a boy.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sam Spade himself walk through the door.”
Once the northern segment of Montgomery Street, right at the foot of Telegraph Hill, the neighborhood now known under the nickname Chandler Avenue was essentially cut from the rest of the city during the earthquakes of 2061. Located near Telegraph Hill, with the dilapidated Coit Tower looming over it, this neighborhood certainly does look like something out of an old hard-boiled novel.
Places of interest:
- Coit Tower didn’t crumble down during the earthquakes, but it has fallen into disrepair and access to it has been forbidden. It’s nonetheless often used as a meeting place for shady dealings, especially Bio-Awakened Drugs such as Tempo and Euphoria.
- The Ritz was a decent hotel once, but it’s now nothing more than a derelict apartment building, managed by a sleazy, cigar-smoking, thug-wannabe ork named Nilo Paglio. One of the apartments is rented by Tex Murphy and serves as both his office and his studio.
- The Golden Gate Hotel is one of the more serious rehabilitation efforts of the neighborhood. A crumbling ruin after the earthquakes, it is now starting to feel once again like a place you would enjoy spending the night in and live to tell the tale. Unfortunately, attracting clients to this part of town is another problem altogether.
- The Brew & Stew doesn’t look like much, but in many ways it has been the glue that has kept the community of Chandler Avenue together through the years. This diner is owned by Louie LaMintz, the ugliest and friendliest troll you’ll ever meet, as well as a hell of a cook. His spicy chili is legendary, as is his special blend of coffee, nicknamed Armageddon (for good reason).
- Rook’s Pawnshop is one of the oldest businesses on Chandler Avenue. The owner, a crusty old dwarf named Rook Garner, is ex-military, and served alongside Louie during the Euro Wars. Rook is usually quite knowledgeable about the provenance and value of items and refuses to buy stolen merchandise. Being a metahuman, his shop was one of those vandalized by the members of the Crusade for Genetic Purity.
- The Electronics Shop, formerly Underwood Electronics, is the go-to place for anything tech-related, from cyberdecks to commlinks, and even fax machines. Some of it might even be legal. Hamm Underwood, the original owner, had ties with the Ching Syndicate and was… “removed” for talking too much. The current manager, Zack Williams, is less affable.
- The Fuchsia Flamingo was once a flatvid theater named the Bijou, but it closed when the trideo rose to prominence. A troll named Gus Leach bought the building and renovated it into the Fuchsia Flamingo Club, a successful, if somewhat cheesy, burlesque venue. Unfortunately, when the main singer (“Luscious Lucy Luv” a.k.a. Emily Patterson) was almost murdered by a stalker, the club was closed. It is not known when — or even if — it will reopen.
- Rusty’s Novelty Shop went out of business long before the earthquakes, when the owner disappeared. Rusty, who had once hosted a TV show for children on a local trid channel (described as “super creepy” by anyone who had ever watched it), may have been involved in some illegal dealings. What happened to him, and why, is anybody’s guess, but one thing is sure: there is bad mojo going on inside that building.
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