Thursday, December 19, 2019


When you build an apartment, or a big hotel, or some monster skyscraper, all the way at the top you've got the the penthouse. Crème de la crème. The tip of the pyramid, the golden cherry on top of the looming and oppressive cake. So when the world's made of skyscrapers, there's a membrane that forms on top of it. All those penthouses interlocking, and forming a new crust of the earth, a coat of elitarian champagne icing. But underneath, as the final ray of sunlight disappears, you get a thick layer of slummy, brutal, concrete rosters. The new underground, the new sewer of the world, except it's trash and cigarette smoke instead of fire and brimstone. Though the latter are no doubt also in the mix somewhere.

THE STRATA are a gargantuan megacity that spans the entire earth. Permanently locked underneath the shiny wonder-world of the crust, housing 99% of the human populace, they're a bizarro nightmare world of boundless, merciless capitalism and anarchic violence. They're your typical cyberpunk setting, but there is no dead channel sky to look at. It's concrete, plastic and metal all the way up, until the thick titanium shell that cordons off the crust. And it's concrete, plastic and metal all the way down until you start getting into the old places. The derelict, societyless abyss.

REVANESCENCE_ games take place in the strata for the great majority. Either the crust or the abyss are endgame places. The Strata are the world. The crust is venomous heaven, the abyss is ???. Late game missions that deal with uncovering some real weird shit will likely take you to the abyss. Of the crust, you wouldn't ever get more than a glimpse.

Ghost in the Shell, 1995
The strata have many types of environments within them, obviously. On the scale of a handful of players, they're an enormously diverse landscape. To map them I think a hexmap is ideal, however, it would have to be a three-dimensional one, since in the strata you move up and down as well as on a flat plane. Assumedly you can do this by thinking of it in layers and making a hex map per layer, as a rudimentary solution.

A more advanced and novel way of mapping the strata is in the works.

What are examples of types you would describe strata hexes/cubes with? Here are a few types.

>>Kowloon: Mass slum apartments, small scale stores and food joints, junker repair and salavage shops.
>>Bàngōngshì: Enormous office blocks filled by thousands of clerks and desk slaves for a corporation, overseen by some supercomputer. rigorous in their structure but under poor maintenance.
>>Fabrika: Mostly automated corporate factory complexes infested with scrapper colonies that parasitise on the monolithic never-sleeping cheap production lines.
>>Superjoy: Overpriced corporate arcade parks, tailored specifically to fire all sensory neurons needed for optimal dopamine release and optimal spending. Most have a decent kill count from sensory overstimulation and epilepsy attacks.
>>Lotus: Large red light district clusters of massage parlours, (strip) clubs, drug parlours, love hotels.
>>Wèiliǎo: Abandoned megaprojects like swimming pool complexes or huge malls now inhabited by gangs, slum residents, squatters.
>>Myasorubka: Corporate meat cloning, growing and harvesting plants, with large refrigerated sections and grotesque machines.
>>Mukumi: Giant heaps of compressed trash. Hideous stench noticable in all hexes around it. Infested with strata animals and scavengers.
>>Atomkraft: nuclear power plant facility to supply the surrounding areas with power. Irratiated areas, obviously terrible mantenance. Leaky.
>>Nojo: Enormous hydroponic farms of vegetative food, automated by machines, kept secure by drones and walls to keep out scavengers. Brightly lit with white lights to supply the veggies with light.
>>White Ant: Dense, heavy machinery and structural metal elements, with only claustrophobic maintenance tunnels to move through, like a termite burrow.
>>Tǒng cāng: Industrial silos or fluid tanks. Megastorage. If they are disused squatters will live inside the empty ones, despite high likelyhood of toxic chemical residues.

>>Boloto: Water purification plant and/or sewage complex, an enormous mass of reeking plumbing processing industrial and human runoff.
>>FakeworldCorporate studio complex of reproduced settings and sets to record media and pop culture. Plasticy and uncanny. Home to depressed and overworked popstars of corporate manufacture.
>>Ganglion: Huge bundles of cables as thick as tree trunks where the local web of net cables convene. Space between the cables is filled up by data companies' monitoring centers harvesting food for the algorithms.
>>Hibun: Supercomputer modules and mass data storage, kept in enormous hermetically sealed pillars. Incredibly quiet save for a low hum.
>>Apfelkopf: Laboratory compounds for research too grody or dangerous for the crust. Mass industrial labs for development and testing of new chems and materials. Usually a blacksite.
>>Caduto: Boneyards of old satellites or orbital constructions that fell or were lowered down from orbit and got incorporated into the structure of the strata when the earth's satellite network was replaced.

>>Ulajhan: A glitch in the architectural software used for the strata's construction that has thus far been overlooked in terms of repair. From unease-inducing to outright lethal. Nooks and crannies inhabited by strange dwellers. Repair may be in progress.
>>Etiolated: BIO_ has exploded here. A container leak or shipment burst. Now it's full, but it's not green plants. This is adapted to the concrete matrix and the lack of sunlight. Decidedly alien.

Art by Dominik Zdenkovic
"Law" in the strata comes from two poles: from corporate, whose privatised policing forces have no purpose but to protect corporate interests in the strata, and from the mob, who are the effective holders of territory and are the closest thing to local governments you'll find.

Corporate police (CORPOs) are human dominance-horny assholes, or military grade killer bots, and both have two operatives: protect corporate infrastructures, and punish transgressions on corporate property. HEART_s, and CORPOs, amongst others, are corporate property. The human ones have nigh limitless health pools since they are linked to a private corporate BIO_ pool, and therefore it is impossible to kill them by just shooting them up. You'll need to jam their regeneration to keep them at bay, and then destoy the HEART_ if you want to kill them for good. Whenever you break corporate law and CORPOs are sent after you, they will hunt you based on your net trace, facial recognition surveillance, etc. So for any stunt that boldly transgresses against corporate you need a plan to change or scramble your identity afterwards, or come prepared with a fake one.

Gangs and Mobs are myriad in size, creed, power, and style (which they find very important). They're the feudal local governments in the strata, and constantly engage in turf wars, honour killings, dishonour killings, extortion and blackmail, and so on. Among many gangs there is a culture of prestige, materialistic machismo and a tendency to flaunt expensive things (which they then kill each other over). They'll starve in their Ferrari. This is the main reason why corporate is so okay with them. They buy their overpriced crap simply because it's overpriced.

Many old and powerful mobs are evolved from nationalist offshoots and remnants of long-gone country militaries and mafia. Their loyalty to a long-dead nation is like the worship of a sect. 

From the anime "Wicked City"
Some people in the strata worship the zodiac's promise of success. They believe they live in a true meritocracy, and they believe that the system works perfectly. They practice forms of self-flagellation, because they believe they, slackers, deserve to be strata dwellers. Grinding their spine and their hands to dust on thankless corporate jobs is their ascetic prayer. They idolise the startup myths, the rags-to-riches tales. They worship the portals and the professions, the scent and the mountain of sugar. They wanna be power callers (seriously, watch this movie). They think the rich are perfect, and the poor are despicable, despite being amongst the latter. Needless to say, they are completely insane. Corporate loves these idiots. Everyone else hates them.

Though, even if you're not one of these freaks, chances are that your lucky charm is a little rat with a tie keychain. That your phone has a golden tiger case. That the cigarettes you smoke are Lucky Pig brand. And so on. You might not have the zodiac on your mind, but they are within the flesh and bones of the strata, the world, the people, the bodies and the thoughts. They seat in the pagoda of the collective and individual unconscious.


  1. This is great! Where did you get the names of all the strata types from?

  2. 'Sorry to Bother You' is artwork and should be watched, carefully.

    So is this.

    "They'll starve in their Ferrari" man this line was enough for me to just *get* it. I'm jealous of your style!

  3. Splendid article, I loved it!
    By the way, I think that your 'Source Unknown' comes from the Wicked City anime.