Stockholm

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General Information

The snow comes and goes in Stockholm, but the frost endures. In amongst the broken avenues and tin-roofs of the ruined city, ice coats the concrete pavements, and strangles the the barren allotment gardens. Nobody has managed to unite the townships and collectives scattered about the islands of the city - those who've tried are dead or gone, despairing of the greed and poverty that causes so many of the tiny settlements to send out savage raiding parties out to steal food or fuel from one another. Only the children run freely from township to township, ducking under washing-lines and wire fences, ignoring the stubborn enmities and all-too temporary alliances of the adults.

To the weary eyes of a northerner, having travelled hundreds of miles south through pelting snow and ice, Stockholm might as well be a paradise. Buying up as much cheap alcohol as they can afford, they'll try and find a local girl - or boy - and sing themselves stupid in some grimy bar or abandoned theatre. Often, letting their drunkenness get the better of them, they'll cause a scene in the streets and face punishment by the locals - many a hungover northerner has found himself dumped outside the gates of a township at dawn, bruised, naked and ashamed, and a few more have been tossed over the side of a bridge into the freezing water below.

The wealthiest townships, such as Black Crown Lane, tend to exist on the southernmost islands of the city, their buildings relatively intact and with easier access to the waterfront, whereas the poorer collectives are forced out onto the northern side where there is mainly rubble. Sometimes, however, these more desperate groups will band together and bring down a rich township entirely with violence, taking the inhabitants as slaves and gorging themselves hungrily on the much-needed food and fuel (as happened with the ill-fated township The Wolf's Pride just six months ago). As a result, they face castigation from the wealthier settlements - which, however, rarely do anything to actively stop the violence - but the spokesmen for the poorest townships insist that they're only doing what's necessary to survive, and that there wouldn't be any need for violence if the wealthy townships gave out more food.

Only one place is avoided outright - the enormous, shattered Dagens Nyheter skyscraper, where the most dangerous man in the city lives - Illvatte, the walker in darkness. It is not known whether he has any purpose beyond malicious mischief - but he seems to amuse himself by taking pot-shots at locals who venture too close by with a high-powered rifle. Sometimes a man or a woman taking a short-cut too close to the tower will die in an explosion of blood - sometimes, when Illvatte is apparently in a better mood, a bullet will smack into the wall centimetres from their head. Only the children are allowed to pass by, every time they scamper through the ruins, unharmed. After an attempt by the Packhousers to flush him out ended in bloody defeat, the townships mostly stay clear of the Dagens Nyheter.

The Dagens Nyheter

"Ah-ha, ah-ha, so you can stand still. But can you run? Shall we find out together?" Illvate

As the player approaches the ruins of the Dagens Nyheter, he hears someone speaking to him through the square's loudspeakers, telling him to stand very still. (Through dialog) a bullet hits the ground right next to the player's ear. A second bullet slips past the player's ear, bloodying them. The third bullet must be actively dodged with a dexterity attempt.

Should the player pass Illvatte's little test, he can enter the building safely and take the elevator up to the top floor. There, surrounded by newspapers, Illvate squats, his sniper rifle trained out of the window.

Illvatte is a man with too much power, too much boredom and no moral compass. Remember that scene in The Third Man with Harry Lime, on the ferris wheel? All that talk about not caring if any of the dots below were snuffed out? Illvatte is living that dream, amusing himself by playing God and snuffing out those tiny dots below. An overweight man, who barely moves from his perch except for necessities. Illvatte is becoming a little frustrated, as adults rarely venture into his range any more...he is beginning to fear that he will have to kill a child. And killing children is Illvatte's one ethical scruple. So he wants the player to lure interesting people into his rifle range on the street. "Priests, scientists, great visionaries! Bring me someone I haven't killed before!"

And from this we can create 'evil' quests that are the good, non 'Chaotic stupid' sort of evil. The player has an NPC who's causing him problems...so he ruthlessly lures him out as prey for Illvatte. This could easily tie into an evil alternate ending for the 'uniting/dividing the townships' quest idea.

Black Crown Lane

"If you'd asked me before whether a man who knows he's going to die wants to hear Shakespeare, or Ibsen, or Tennessee Williams, I'd have said 'Of course he does' - and with pride, too. But he doesn't, as it turns out. He wants to see tits." Bitter Out-Of-Work Actor

Black Crown Lane survives well-enough through the traders and travellers who come to visit the old Black Crown Theatre, formerly a Shakespearean performance platform, that now serves as a grimy burlesque bar and de-facto brothel. Father Natanael, former priest and bar owner, serves as the unofficial head of the township as a result - and the dozen or so mothers of Black Crown Lane spend all of their efforts trying to ensure their daughters grow up beautiful enough to work in the Black Crown and provide for their family. As a result, the young men of the settlement are frustrated and often directionless, drinking in the bar and picking fights with the foreigners. In the corner, an old Shakespearean actor sits, shaking his head sadly and drinking himself to death. Outside, in Rat's Alley, the traders from various climes peddle their wares too each other, ignoring the penniless locals. This is the place you'd come to if you wanted to hear gossip of the condition of foreign lands - even of the survival of settlements, far to the south, where the earth is still warm enough to grow crops year after year, to survive...

The defence force of Black Crown Lane is smaller than the other townships - it avoids being swallowed by its neighbours mostly due to the two strapping, fearsome Nylander Brothers, and by relying upon the many travellers who can be called upon to protect their own interests should a raid occur. One of the Brothers is generally stationed at the entrance to the Theatre, checking guests for weapons, and the other waits at the alley entrance. Meanwhile, although many traders are still coming seeking barter, fewer are bringing sufficient goods to sell, and Father Natanael is looking for diplomatic solutions to his problems, as he faces anger both from the merchants from the inhabitants who feel that he is spending all of their resources on keeping his bar stocked-up for foreigners.

The Packhouse

Separated from the other islands by a stretch of water, the bridges of Lidingo collapsed when the missiles struck. Now, lurking in an old meat-packing factory, the Packhousers keep watch. Thought of by the others as a bunch of ferals, the Packhousers encourage this view, dressing in scraps of rat-fur and very deliberately taking on animal tendencies, naming their leaders after wolves and bears and howling ferociously as they attack, even letting the myth spread that they consume their victims. The image is, at least partly, a sham - in their isolation, the Packhousers simply don't have the strength or the resources to be genuinely aggressive. Their usual tactic, in the middle of the night, is to paddle across the water in their one-man coracles, and raid the sleeping townships for good. While they preach a return to the simplicity of nature and a rejection of the old capitalist ways, in reality, Packhousers like to show off publicly with shiny trinkets and gewgwaws, and their society is as based on materialism as any in the city.

Ursa and Lupus, the husband-and-wife leaders of the Packhousers, are beginning to divide in their views on the situation of Stockholm. Ursa wishes to expand, opening up new opportunities for growth, by conquering a township across the water and occupying it; Lupus believes that they will be safer remaining on the island. Slowly, the marriage is starting to fall apart in public as well as in private, creating a divide within the faction as the two take on lovers.

Salem

"You know what's frightening about manipulating a bunch of idiots? The day you realise they're too stupid to be manipulated by you for much longer." Mr. Sandstrom

Unlike some of the townships close to the waterfront, Salem has never recovered its wealth fully - or established its society properly. Its rough gangs accumulated together slowly through petty violence, only forming a whole in order to raid other settlements. Six months ago, Salem's Boys, predominantly made up of tough young men, spearheaded the attack on the Lion's Pride township, where many of their gang members still take up residence, squatting in the ransacked buildings. Since the invasion, Salem's Boys have lived in relative luxury, eating well and taking on airs as they order about their captured slaves. But, as time's gone, the food's begun to run out - and their prisoners have become just another mouth to feed. The majority of the young toughs are now clamouring for another raid, but the Boys' smart, capable leader, Mr. Sandstrom, knows better - a great many of them were killed in the last attack, and another raid could weaken them beyond the point of no return. The problem is convincing his swaggering, war-like lieutenants that violence won't help, and ensuring that he isn't overthrown. He was the one who successfully managed to form the gangs into a coherent collective, with backstabbing, Machiavellian politics and street-smarts...but now, he fears, even he may not be able to hold them together and prevent them from charging onwards to their own destruction.

Not the 'evil' faction by any means; acts of kindness and brotherhood are common. But their intense poverty, their hunger, and indeed, their fraternal spirit has set them to violence against the rest of Stockholm - and the pressure to be tougher and more manly than those around you has led to acts of uncommon cruelty against outsiders.

The Riksgard

In the great, classical Rikstag ruins, the Riksgard keep watch with a monkish devotion, refusing to associate too openly with the other settlements, keeping their doors locked and hoarding their government supplies. The military men and women who once ran the township, protecting the building's archives until the Prime Minister was found or replaced, have mostly grown old and died. Their positions have been usurped by volunteers - some kind-hearted, patriotic souls, but also obsessives, petty-minded bureaucrats, and fanatical nationalists who award themselves army ranks and titles. The Riksgard, under the command of the pompous, devious Field Marshal Wiik, have become self-important, issuing decrees, announcing the Nobel Prize winners every year, and logging the 'crimes' of the city, that its citizens might be punished once law returns to Stockholm. Within the boundaries of the Rikstag, they claim, is all of Sweden - outside is only wilderness.

Some of the remaining soldiers, under Captain Johannesen, plot to fix up the hull of the abandoned tanker in the water outside the parliament, but they have to be careful - under Wiik's regime, abandoning your country and your government counts as treason.

Aims

A big hub city with character. Obviously many of these elements and these factions can easily be salvaged and put elsewhere, but I felt Stockholm, with its network of islands, would work particularly well as a divided post-apocalyptic city.

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