The town used to be a major packing center for a corporation. There was more than a mile of sprawling warehouses constantly moving product in and out. Under it all, the corporation built a network of bullet-trains, the fastest ground transportation invented.
The Assembly are the families descended from that industry who laid claim to the abandoned real estate. They maintain the warehouses in a pristine, almost museum-like fashion. They greet visitors who wander in with homemade food and a history lesson.
On the surface, anyway. Below ground they claimed the bullet-train tunnels as their sanctuary. Any with a legacy connected to the town and reason to hide may stay: those who had their keysyncs ripped out by the Wild but somehow survived; those mutated most by the Wild Strain; those who stole corporate secrets.
Life is dark down there. The air is stale. Medical care access non-existant. Dirt gets everywhere.
But for those who need it? It’s a lifeline...one the Assembly will do anything to protect.
Traits: Protective, Pervasive
Goal: Form an alliance with Compass Charities by helping them secure milspec security
Compass Charities started nearly a hundred years before as a church charity focused on creating temporary housing for those displaced by natural disasters. They became increasingly necessary as the storms, earthquakes, and flooding worsened.
After the Wild Strain spread, moving people across any significant distance became impossible, especially now that planes were so easily struck out of the sky by Wild birds of prey. So Compass reorganized.
The charity provides shelter and food for any in need.With a condition: you have to pay them in scavenge.
The Compass shelterland is a patchwork of reclaimed items. Shacks of tree branches lean against the original synthetic, dome shelters. Greenhouse gardens are planted inside train cars. The Jeeps that constantly patrol the perimeters look like children’s toys of mismatched wheels and doors.
Compass also takes in strays. Most residents are recognized by the small animal packs that accompany them wherever they go.
Goal: Undercut the hold of Syntheory Tech by taking their truth serum supply
The Ten-50 Gang
The Ten-50’s were a small gang primarily operating out of truck stops and docks before the Wild Strain. Once the mutations and resulting chaos stripped remote areas of official oversight, the gang stepped into the power void.
The gang primarily traffics in fear. Either you are under their protection or under their threat. Payment can be made in money, land, or compliance. The gang is hard to track down partly because many of its worst deeds are committed by non-members trying to earn the return of a loved one.
The gang has become the dominant criminal power in the region. Almost everyone has a family member or neighbor tied up in their operations. They are everywhere, but still officially “anonymous.”
Any gang activity is called into the regional authorities as a 10-50 code: an accident.
Traits: Protective, Consuming, Pervasive
Goal: Weaken the Red Ropes’ hold by making Syntheory Tech a viable rival
The gang works hard to cultivate many folklore-style rumors about their escapades: driving poor widows across dangerous wilds...smuggling the best brew ever invented through military checkpoints...cultivating traditional medicinal cures in their gardens.
In truth, the gang is hiding an elaborate weapons smuggling operations behind their folksy manner and plain dress. The specialize in extremely lethal, extremely illegal equiment. From firearms to gunnery to grenades to toxins, they deal in death.
The gang is especially popular with the more extreme militia groups. Every zealot-driven stand off in the past twenty years was armed by the Moonshiners. They are the #1 target for military and police groups.
The Moonshiners believe in efficiency, not messages. So people who cause them problems just...disppear in the middle of the night.
Traits: Trendsetting, Protective
Goal: Undercut the hold of the Ten-50 gang by encouraging a militia to challenge them
The Red Ropes
Those who serve at the military base all wear a red braid on their uniform which marks their service in a high risk zone, earning them the local nickname “Red Ropes.”
When the town’s primary industry went under, the base offered the community a staggering amount of money to lease land. Their experimental tests are strictly top secret...though a few projects have wandered into downtown over the years. While the soldiers were originally under strict orders to remain on base, a few were always sneaking into town for a good drink or new company.
Over the years the rigid segregation softened. With it, the soldiers started taking on new roles...like self-appointed police force.
For some, the possibility of military policing offers a welcome sense of order. For others, it’s a gross over-stepping of authority. Either way, military patrols are becoming more common and their confrontations with criminals more bloody. They are bringing their war to Main Street.
Traits: Protective, Consuming, Pervasive
Goal: Weaken the hold of the Moonshiners by destroying their headquarters
The elite technology firm promised to staunch the drain of young folks leaving for the metropolis by offering lucrative and exciting work. However, they seemed to mostly bring in outsiders who prefer their corporate housing block and milsec-protected Feed access to mingling with the locals.
They’ve earned the derisive nickname “toasters” with older folks for their need to always be plugged into a digital space, but this digital nature appeals to curious, younger folks who feel cut off from the modern world.
Those who do work for the company adhere to comprehensive non-disclosure agreements. All employeers are subject to random truth serum interviews to insure compliance. If anyone is found in violation, they are abruptly “relocated.”
The paranoid secrecy is well justified. Even for a remote location, their experiments are controversial. Syntheory believes the next great innovation in technology will come when they insert the Wild Strain mutation into machines. As the closest thing to a living machine, they are experimenting with inserting the Wild into AI processors.
Goal: Earn the trust of the Trail Tracers by helping them negotiate with a Chimera
The faction grew out of a volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining hiking trails and camping sites in the surrounding region. As most people retreated to the safety of the metropolis, some welcomed the Wild Strain as a natural evolution in nature. They made it their mission to learn how to live in sync within this new ecosystem.
Generations of living in the Wild has mutated most of them to a Consumed strain status: a fusion of humanity, flora, and fauna. Rumors state the most Chimera-like communicate through a hive-mind. There are also rumors that this warped their humanity to the point they are more predator than person.
The Trail Tracers are ostracized by town folks...except when they need their help. They navigate the Wild with ease, and know the location of nearly any point of interest. This makes them especially appealing to treasure-hunters, bent on searching wilderness ruins for lost wealth and technology.
The faction will always deal with Outsiders, but they demand payment in return, and have no patience for broken promises.
Goal: Form an alliance with the Siren pack by capturing a Red Rope leader ordering raids on them
The Siren Pack
The local Chimera has drawn together a pack of Wild critters distinguished by their gifts of mimicry: creatures whose hides change to match the terrain they stand upon; stealthy hunters who can impersonate human voices, calling out the names of people they pursue; venomous prowlers who spit hallucination-inducing fumes; completely mundane looking plants who sing hypnotizing arias and strike with paralyzing thorns.
The Chimera itself is a mystery. Supposed accounts of its appearance conflict, causing more confusion. Some suspect it can change its shape or alter memories—others believe no one has actually seen It.
No one knows how often the Siren pack hunts town members. As a result, almost any disappearance is attributed to the pack. And new superstitions about suspicious plants and animals flourish.
The most disturbing rumors are the ones that claim the Siren pack has already expanded beyond Howler Park. That some people, maybe an entire neighborhood, is secretly under their sway. These fears have sparked numerous confrontations in town.
Goal: Increase their popularity in town by protecting folks from attacks by the Ten-50 gang