The Seattle Metroplex is an urban sprawl that covers most of what are currently the cities of Seattle, Tacoma, Ft. Lewis, Pullyap, Redmond, Snohomish, Everett, Outremer, and Auburn. It is a state in the UCAS (United Canadian and American States), a country that encompasses the remains of the US and Canada, and is composed of the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic US, South-eastern Canada and the Northern Great Plains. Seattle is an outlier state, a satellite granted a certain amount of autonomy, though it still has a Governor, six representatives and 2 senators. The most notable exemption from UCAS law that Seattle enjoys is the need to conduct foreign diplomacy through DC. Being the only Pacific state in the Union, Seattle can send out its own ambassadors and conduct trade and treaties with the other nations of the Pacific Rim on its own.
The Metroplex (the state and the city are now indistinguishable) is nestled entirely within the Native American nation of Salish-Shidhe (modern day Washington state, southern British Colombia, Idaho, Montana, and parts of Northern Oregon). The nation is made up of the Salish, Makah, Cascade Crow, Cascade Ork, Elven Sinsearach, Nootka, Squamish and Musqueam tribes operating under a single Tribal Council. The treaty of Denver that ended the New Indian Wars in 2018, granted Seattle access to Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean in perpetuity, while also ceding Mercer Island (now known as Council Island) to the Salish-Sidhe Council—a permanent outpost of the Native American Nations. The Metroplex is the most densely populated state in the UCAS with 1500 residents per square mile and a total population of about 4 million residents (with another 2 million or so who not officially registered). The local population is 66% human, 13% Elven, 13% Orkish, 2% Dwarven, 2% Trollish and 1% Other (including Dragons, Coatls, Faeriefolk etc.). About 53% of the population is corporate affiliated in some way shape or form and nearly 32% live below the poverty line—though in this particular case, the poverty line is continually pushed back, meaning that the percentage of struggling citizens is actually closer to 60% (this does not include the 2 million unregistered residents, the overwhelming majority of whom are transients, criminal poor, or live in private ethnic or racial enclaves where assets cannot be assessed).
The Metroplex is divided into ten official districts (with 3 unofficial districts including Council Island and the Outremer Isles in the Sound). These districts range from the wealthy, corporate dominated Bellevue to the almost ungoverned, ash-stricken Pullyap Barrens. There are not many physical barriers between these districts and unlike some other places in the world, people freely move where they please, but habit and tradition provides some strong encouragement on where it okay to travel. A punked-out Orc with a Mohawk and a beretta probably won’t be seen in Seattle Downtown, even though nothing prevents him from going there.
With more than half the city working for or aligned with some Corporation or another, the megacorps and their smaller cousins have an absurd amount of power in the city. The UCAS government has treaties and deals with nearly all of them, giving them more or less free reign with large swaths of the state. The most prominent corporate presences are the locale headquartered Federated Boeing (an outgrowth of the Boeing of old, still mostly involved in aerospace and arms technologies), the Japanese-based Renraku Computer Systems (who own and operate Renraku arcology, Seattle’s largest gated living community), the Aztlan (formerly Mexico) based Aztechnology (the world’s largest supplier of mass-market magic and talismans), and the biotech company Evo (formerly Yamatetsu) now headquartered in Vladistok.
Additionally, corporations like Wuxing (a Hong-Kong based shipping and finance corporation), Aneki Systems (a computer manufacturing company specializing in AI), Shiawase corporation (the family owned Chinese finance company), Starbucks-Monsanto Biotechnologies (a local favorite now expanded into ocean-farming and food synthetics), Saeder-Krupp (formerly BMW a manufacturing titan) and Horizon (a media giant) all have significant holdings. The only major corporation to not have a presence in Seattle is Ares Macrotechnology, the Detroit-based manufacturing company which is the world’s largest maker of arms and vehicles. Seattle granted the locally based Federated Boeing monopoly on that market, effectively shutting AM out of the Metroplex.
Corporate culture varies immensely, but most prefer real-estate in towering skyscrapers, vast factories in poorer sections of town, and gated arcologies for their employees and their families. With the exceptions of SAF and Federated Boeing, both of which are locally headquartered, all megacorporations within the Seattle Metroplex have a local CAO (Chief Ambassadorial Officer) who not only heads up the branch, but is responsible for overseeing corporate-federal relations and crafting trade treaties.
There is basically no such thing as a public amenity. Nearly all formerly public systems (water and power, education, healthcare, plumbing, trash pickup etc) is now run by a corporate entity. While Seattle contracts with some corporations to provide say running water for its citizens at a hefty price, such negotiations are fickle and the vast majority of Metroplex citizens pay for services directly.
A noted exception to this is the Matrix, an internet-like online system which was removed from private control after the Matrix 2.0 crash of 2059 that nearly bankrupted Novatech Corporation and plunged the world into an information void for nearly a month. While the Matrix is supported by a multitude of private and public entities worldwide, the servers in Seattle are all operated by the government, and without a skilled Decker, extremely restricted in their information. Corporate-run infonets, are common in arcologies, and occasionally will hook into the Matrix at large, but are almost entirely independent networks, fostering an information community as private and exclusive as the arcologies they support. The Shadowhub, a decker-created private internet specifically geared towards revolutionaries, the black market and Shadowrun activities still exists
Law and Order
The government is too disenfranchised to provide any state policing and so private armies and entities are brought in to fill the gap. The most prominent of these is Lone Star Security Services, an Austin-based private security firm and spiritual successor to the Texas Rangers. The Seattle government has hired them to police all but the most blighted and dangerous neighborhoods. Of course, given the fact that LSSS is, first and foremost a corporate entity, officers are systematically corrupt and very easily bought off. Though the local Commissioner is Texas-born company man, the majority of Lone Star officers are recruited locally, making their ties to neighborhoods and regional biases even more apparent.
Many Corporations (especially Megacorps) have their own private security, which polices the properties, neighborhoods, arcologies and street-corners where those individual corporations hold the most sway. Supposedly, the city has a set of guidelines for all private security to follow, in an attempt to ensure a somewhat consistent rule of law, but such guidelines are unenforceable and fall by the wayside more often than not.
Global climate change and magical intervention have made the Sixth World more extreme than its predessecor. Storms are larger, hurricanes more frequent, tornadoes more destructive. Global temperatures may be up overall, but Seattle remains a brisk and chilly temperature year round. Seattle is no stranger to bad weather and constant rain. The pollutants in the air have made the rain and snow and sleet quite acidic and most bad weather clothing now reflects this. Additionally, smog and chemical runoff have made the air much more toxic, giving a healthy percentage of the population asthma and other respiratory problems. Strangely though, many people who have lived their whole life in the city find a trip to the forest or up the Sound unbearable. Their bodies have acclimated to the toxins and fresh air stings. The skies over Seattle are grey and they glow like a computer monitor, even on the clearest days you can’t see to Mount Rainier anymore.
Culture and Fashion
Social Liberalism rules Seattle in the 2070s. The culture is accepting of a wide panoply of lifestyles. Though racial and social tensions are at an all-time high, the old biases of skin-color, sexual-orientation, age-ism, mental illness and able-ism have fallen away almost completely. Though you may be judged by one group or another for your taste in clothing, music, sex-partners or career, the overall cultural aggregate is accepting in the extreme. Personal morality has fallen away in favour of Corporate and Civic Ethics. People are more promiscuous, more given to criminality, less inhibited, and more willing to experiment with controlled substances and alternate lifestyles. Family structures still exist, especially in immigrant cultures, but more and more families choose to have their children raised by enclaves or committees or corporate foster care. Divorce is more common and bears less of a stigma. Crime is up, but so is awareness of crime. People are jaded.
The Corporate rule also means that a new era of personal protection exists. Caveat Emptor is the phrase of the day. Consumers have no rights when it comes to being poisoned or killed by company products, so most people take a certain amount of pride, not only in being cautious, but also in jerry-rigging their own food, fashion, or chemical quick-fixes when they can.
Seattle is a major metroplex and fairly cosmopolitan and such places go. Though it remains fairly firmly ensconced in Pacific rim culture, with large East Asian, Southeast Asian, Central American and Pacific Islander influences, it’s not unlikely to hear people speaking Portuguese, Qechua, Nahua, German, Elven, Swahili or even Esperanto these days. Most people have a passing familiarity with international cuisine, politics and culture. Though English is more or less the international business language, the dominating influences of Hong Kong and Mexico have made most people with any business interests speak a smattering of Spanish and Mandarin. Even the poorest people in the ganger ghettoes likely know how to swear in Japanese, Dwarven or Salish.
The major new cultural influence in Seattle is the Native American. Nestled in the Salish-Sidhe Council, Pacific Northwestern tribal art and style are writ large across the city. Whale-totems dominate public spaces, feathers on a leather thong are a common acoutremant and lots of popular music samples shamanistic rain-chants. That said, the connection to the past is often an accent. No one walks around wearing tribal clothing from four centuries ago. The native peoples of the world modernized along with everyone else and the presence of a Totem Pole on your corporate façade does not mean anything more than a keen sense of style.
Fashion-wise, the 1980’s are back in, as it were. Women wear shoulder-pads, men wear denim jackets, Mohawks and dye-jobs are common. Bright, bold patterns rule the day and all style has a tongue-in-cheek quality to it. That said, the elegance of the 40’s seems to be back in style for the elite, fedoras are seen more often and CEOs tend to wear a three-piece suit. Tattoos (both electronic and ink) are commonplace, especially so now that there are tribesmen who use ritual tattoos for magical purposes. Piercings and other punk accoutrements are back-in, and so is big hair. Bladerunner, Johnny Mnemonic, the first few minutes of Demolition Man, Rock & Rule, Robocop, The Hunger Games and Total Recall are all decent notes and touchstones for determining style.
The Sixth World, with its greater emphasis on magic and the presence of the spiritual is ironically a less religious world than its predecessor. Faith dies in the presence of true miracles, replaced by proof. With magic so near and dear to people, most have simply stopped worshipping—transmuting religion into a praxis, rather than a faith. People sacrifice to gods rather than going to church, ask for boons rather than pray and dedicate their lives to spirits rather than take up religious orders. That said, there are still religious folk out there in the world.
The old native religions of Indochina, North and South America, Central Africa and Aboriginal Australia reached new highs of worshipers after the re-emergence of magic. Most people, even if they don’t belong to a tribe, believe in the powers of Shamans and are willing to at least consider a sacrifice to Tlatzlteotl or a prayer offered to the Great Elk Spirit. Tribal types generally look down on non-members who adopt these practices as ludicrous poseurs, but they certainly don’t reject their tithes.
While the Old faiths of tribal gods and animal totems now dominate most religious peoples spiritual side, the Abrahamic faiths still hold some sway. After Goblinization day, many protestants and catholics believed that the endtimes had begun and, being still here on earth an un-raptured, there were mass-suicides, calls for despair general loss of faith. Though the Pope still rules from Vatican Arcology, and Catholics put their faith in the Templar Mage-Knights that manifest miracles, most Christians now believe in a kind of post-Rapture Falleness, an assurance of their own damned status and a church that encourages its members to repent not only their sins but their lack of faith that led the messiah to abandon them. This so-called Lapserian Church of the Armageddon is popular in parts of Seattle. Mormonism, in light of its philosophy of continual Revelation, has thrived.
Muslims across the world still make their pilgramages to Mecca but the general liberalism of the time has made strict adherence to sharia law a thing of the past. It is an increasingly secular faith full of empty rituals and attrition from non-believing initiates.
Judaism has all but disappeared from the world, though the Qabbalistic beliefs of Jewish mystics have made their way into much of mainstream Mage culture and the more occult worship practices of the faith survive in many a coven.
Many major non-western, non Abrahamic religions and philosophies, Hinduism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Buddhism have remained quite strong in the face of the Sixth World, and even stepped in to win new converts among the disenfranchised and cast-off from other churches. Seattle’s Mayor, Angela Harker, is a Hindu, for instance.
The Dwarves and Elves keep their own ancient and secret gods in their enclaves and many Orks and Trolls, cast out from human society, turn to a kind of urban hagiography, venerating old heroes from the community and folk-revolutionaries who fought for Orkish and Trollish supremacy. That said, many meta-humans are either without a faith or worship in a human tradition, though this is less popular with Elves than the other races.
Lastly, the Church of Scientology, with its far reaching celebrity influence, immense corporate wealth and philosophy of awakened human souls, roughly in line with the events of magic’s re-emergence, has soared in popularity, spawning many franchises across the world. It’s reclusive, ancient Matriarch, Suri Cruise-Kennedy, still runs the Sea Organization from the elusive Ark, a conglomeration of linked vessels which sails the Pacific, issuing commands and attracting the most dedicated and fanatical Operating Thetans.