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WELCOME TO THE EAST
Posted by: Lei Kung
Despite what some runners think, Seattle isn’t the center of the universe. Spin the globe around a half-tick and you will find that in the East, Hong Kong is where the action is.
Eight million souls are packed into the world’s busiest entrepôt, a supermodern
city that exists entirely to move people, goods, and digital transactions from one point to the next. Nearly one-fifth of Hong Kong’s population is transient, spending at least half the year outside of the city, but the sprawl’s population hardly changes as new, temporary blood flows in to conduct business on a constant cycle. And while extraterritoriality might seem distinctly twenty-first century to cities like Seattle, Hong Kong invented the concept in 1842, when it became an extraterritorial British colony. But we grew bored of being a trophy city for Britain and China, so in 2015 the city struck out on its own, becoming the Hong Kong Free Enterprise Zone.
> A lot of good that did us. Instead of being ruled by a nation, now we’re owned by the corporations.
THE PRICE OF SUCCESS
It takes only two minutes on a Hong Kong street to learn that everything has a high price, even prosperity. The rise of the Japanese Imperial State created a huge regional demand for cheap manufacturing, and as China imploded and Southeast Asia erupted in war, Hong Kong found itself primed to thrive.
It became an island of wealth and stability in an otherwise chaotic Asia—and as a result became the chief destination for desperate refugees fleeing from the horrors of Chinese warlords and the Japanese oppression of the Philippines.
At first, Hong Kong welcomed these new immigrants as they became the cheap labor that fueled the city’s manufacturing base. As the refugees kept pouring in and the demand for manufacturing waned, though, Asia’s poor and tired masses overwhelmed Hong Kong’s already-sparse social safety net. When it reached the point where the corporate Board of Governors might actually have to face the problem, they instead simply turned their backs on the new slums of the unemployed.
Today, the voices of the second-generation downtrodden are getting louder as urban hellholes like Kowloon get deadlier. The Executive Council is finally talking about the problem, but only after groups like 9×9 started firebombing corporate buildings and demanding true representation. The whole situation is getting very edgy, with council members reaching for their private security forces rather than their budgets. Capitalism continues largely unimpeded, but it’s only a matter of time before something ugly happens.
LAY OF THE LAND
Hong Kong is built on rugged, mountainous land that the original British traders bemoaned as too difficult to develop on to be worthwhile. The industrious and persistent locals, however, have carved a massive sprawl out of the rock clinging to the edges of the sea. Whenever they run out of room, they just carve the rock back more or claim some extra waterfront with landfills.
The climate is equally dynamic in Hong Kong; since the city lies in a subtropical zone, it doesn’t get four seasons like Seattle does. It gets two: the rainy season and the dry season.
From about March to September, Hong Kong suffers the punishment of the southwest monsoon, which makes it hot, humid, and rainy. There’s also the occasional fun super-typhoon crashing into the city. During October to February (roughly), though, the winds change to the northeast monsoon, which is relatively cool and dry. I say relatively because compared to Seattle, it will always be hot and humid in Hong Kong, but it’s actually bearable during the dry season.
> Unfortunately for us, the shadow business picks up during the rainy season, since it’s often easier to pull off jobs when the weather is miserable. The insufferable heat and humidity makes guards less alert and limits them more to working in the climatecontrolled indoors. Not to mention the wet, heavy air is equally punishing on electronic security and devices.
WHAT EVERY GWAILO SHOULD KNOW
I guess the first thing every gwailo should know is what a “gwailo” is. If you’re reading this document, there’s a good chance you are a gwailo. It translates to “ghost man” or “white devil” and was once a derogatory term for foreigners, particularly Caucasians. These days, it has lost most of its value as an insult and is casually used to refer to non-natives, even among the non-natives themselves.
> In Hong Kong, metahumans are more welcome than foreigners.
Which isn’t to say that they won’t deal with foreigners; being a port for hundreds of years, they’ve gotten used to their existence. But they’ll always feel more comfortable around a Hong Kong troll than they will around a human from Seattle.
> Jimmy No
Superstition permeates Hong Kong life, even among jaded corporate executives and Western expatriates. Chinese numerology is especially important; numbers that sound like lucky words are extremely valuable while numbers that sound like unlucky words are universally avoided. For example, you’ll be hard-pressed to find buildings in Hong Kong that have a fourth floor—most elevators skip from the third floor to the fifth. That’s because the number four is considered extremely unlucky and no one in Hong Kong wants to test fate.
The superstitions extend to the animal kingdom also. Native Hong Kong residents consider animals to embody certain qualities that can be transferred to a human who possesses or consumes parts of the animal.
Businessmen consume powder made from the dried remains of tigers to enhance their aggressiveness in the corporate world, while old men use dried seahorses as a traditional medicine to cure baldness.
> The Triads are heavily involved in poaching and smuggling rings that transport these animal remains into Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, the growing market for exotic animal parts in Hong Kong is straining the populations of these animals in their shrinking habitats. Profiteers in Azania have even resorted to creating clone farms, where these animals are cloned and raised in captivity explicitly for the purpose of harvesting their body parts for sale. Of course, they don’t tell the Hongkongers that the parts came from clones; they would never buy into the mystical virility of a cloned tiger raised in a tiny cage.
> Money Lee
> I once heard that a Chinese oligarch in Hong Kong paid hundreds of thousands of nuyen for a small pouch of powder made from the dried genitals of an adult dragon. Rumor has it he was going to mix it with his morning tea to help his “performance problems” with the mistresses. He’d dismissed countless proven pharmaceutical or cybernetic cures for his problem but didn’t think twice about dropping a small fortune for this tiny pouch of dragon dust. Given the source of the dust, though, I have to wonder if the poachers ever got to enjoy their money.
> This assumes he actually got what he paid for.
Hong Kong pulses with a vital, active energy. The Chinese call it qi, which everyone else mistakenly writes as chi. Since the Awakening, everyone tends to associate qi with spellslinging, but in Hong Kong, it’s much, much more. It’s the energy that flows through the city as the people move. It is the feng shui of masses of souls shoving down Temple Street or ferrying across Victoria Harbor.
You can’t help but feel it as you move with them, and it drives this city. The city worships it and builds temples to honor it in every curving, polished steel transportation hub or corporate glass-box skyraker.
> Only in Hong Kong will you see corporate geomancers pulling down six- and seven-figure contracts for their urban planning advice.
> They aren’t all corporate, though. Even the poorest neighborhoods often have at least one wise old man or woman who helps the people of the area maintain good qi.
> Jimmy No
Hong Kong attributes much of its success as a city to its maintenance of positive qi energy. They claim it drives their capitalist attitudes and feeds their work ethic. After all, only a person whose body and soul are balanced with proper qi could work at two or three jobs as many working-class Hongkongers do. Any wujen will also quickly tell you that qi cannot be controlled; it can only be nurtured.
The energy flows like a river or a breeze; if it becomes captured it pools into negative qi energy, creating cursed places like the slums of the Kowloon Walled City, where people and their qi are trapped like rats.
> Feng shui is the art of nurturing qi in the landscape. There are a number of methods for maintaining a person’s own internal qi, the most popular of which is the slow movement martial art of t’ai chi chuan.
> Snow Tiger
Guanxi is the way the Chinese approach networks of contacts, but it goes above and beyond what you’ll see on the Seattle streets. Here, Confucian ideals become mixed with the concept of contacts, creating an important social structure that Hong Kong business revolves around. It is more than just “what you can do for me and I can do for you.” It is a system of social capital and a citywide exchange of favors that includes considerations of Chinese social hierarchy. A social “lesser” is expected to pay appropriate honor to a “better” in his guanxi network and the “better” is expected to treat the “lesser” well, often as well as he’d treat a member of his own family.
Failure to pay the proper respects to the contacts in your guanxi network becomes a mark on your image and will often result in other people you know distancing themselves from you.
Most importantly, in Hong Kong the concept of guanxi is stronger than civic expectations, which is often the reason for such pervasive nepotism and corruption in Hong Kong.
> Bribery, corruption, and cronyism may be scandalous words back in Seattle, but here one is expected to favor those in his guanxi network. Understanding this is critical to shadowrunning in Hong Kong, because work often falls to those who have these guanxi relationships with their employers.
Sometimes called mianzi in Hong Kong, face is just as important a concept here as guanxi. In this city, there is a strong social pressure to have a good image in everyone’s eyes.
Since Hongkongers place an importance on financial success that would amaze even those in the UCAS, often times one enhances face by lavishly flaunting personal wealth and taste. Those without great wealth can improve their face by maintaining an orderly and respectful family or working extremely hard in life.
Causing someone else to lose face, usually through publicly pointing out their faults, is generally avoided in Hong Kong, but can be used as an effective social weapon against a rival.
> At the annual Board of Governors Gala last year, council member Yi Jing-Ze loudly but pleasantly pointed out that Council member William Wu had arrived late. That was a direct attack on Wu’s face, attributing his tardiness to a lack of proper respect for his position and a general incompetence. Their rivalry hasn’t cooled much since then.
> Those types of attacks on someone’s face are used only when you’re the equal or better of someone in society. Even then, using them too often makes you look bad and will cost you face.
THE HONG KONG SPRAWL: SUPERMODERN QI
Posted by: Traveler Jones
Hong Kong is laid out along a peninsula and its outlying islands, though only a small portion of the land is actually used for development due to the mountainous terrain. Most of Hong Kong’s nine-million-plus residents are packed along the harbor that separates the tip of the peninsula from its nearest significant island, Hong Kong Island. To the north of the
harbor live many of Hong Kong’s poorer residents, boxed in by the flow of unregistered refugees. To the south of the harbor is where the better half lives under the watchful eye of the megacorporations.
North of the peninsula and across a well-monitored border lies the Cantonese city of Shenzhen. To the west, across the Pearl River Estuary, stands the nearby mercenary port of Macao, Hong Kong’s smaller and wilder sibling city.
DOWNTOWN HONG KONG
Pressed against the northern face of Victoria Peak and down the slope towards the harbor lies the living heart of Hong Kong and the showcase to its corporate glory.
Downtown is where most of Hong Kong’s corporations and many of their employees make their home. Central District is the center of industry in Hong Kong, a narrow but crowded band of skyscrapers stretching all along the western Victoria Harbor coastline on Hong Kong Island, enveloping even the old Western District and Kennedy Town.
At night, the infamous skyline lights up as colorfully illuminated ferries shuttle past the fantastically strange corporate towers, their bizarre forms guided by the wisdom of feng shui geomancers. During the day, the buildings do silent battle over the mystical energies that course through Hong Kong, trying to ensure that the qi is ideal for their endeavors while focusing bad qi on their competitors. The organically-curved Evo Tower sits just before the water, lacking any flat surfaces that might impede the flow of energy traveling down from Victoria Peak to the sea.
The Wellington Building, home of the international finance conglomerate Hildebrandt-Kleinfort-Bernal, just finished an expensive refinishing to add mirrored surfaces to the outside of their skyscraper to reflect back the “poison arrows” of bad qi from the sharp edges of the nearby Saeder-Krupp SwissBank headquarters.
News headlines featuring incidents of uncontrolled magic or the scandalous activities of out-of-control spirits are common in the Central District, a side effect of all the mystical tinkering. If you hop a ride on the Splendid Dragon Path, a massive indoor escalator system so big it includes its own shops and apartments, it will take you up the slope of Victoria Peak to the Mid-Levels. This is where up-and-coming young corporate professionals live, in crowded but very comfortable mountainside arcologies and enclaves. A good way to determine an individual resident’s importance is to see their view of Victoria Harbor: the better the view is, the more status the person claims.
Most of the housing complexes on the Mid-Levels are owned by a single corporation, and rivalry between different corporate complexes is common, manifesting in everything from sporting events to fashion sense. Their doctrinaire fashion sense is so predictable that you can pick out the Renraku accountant traveling home by his Europa blazer or the Wuxing executive by her KoGo skirt.
Looking down on the packed Mid-Level enclaves are the massive estates of Victoria Peak, hugging the upper reaches of the mountain from which the district takes its name. From the air, the colonial mansions and their cerulean swimming pools sparkle from a forested hillside embrace that only the absurdly wealthy can afford. Wu Lung-Wei, Wuxing CEO, has his home here as does the Hong Kong action sim hero Johnny Fong. I hear the views of the Central skyline and the harbor are breathtaking, but don’t count on seeing them unless you are a very, very important person.
As the skyscrapers thin out and are replaced by glimmering boutiques, you know you’ve entered Wanchai-Causeway. Due east of the Central District, Wanchai-Causeway is swanky, artsy, intellectual and downright expensive. High heels clatter out of A Whole New You clinics and KoGo boutiques while the setting sun is greeted with the thumping music of fancy nightclubs. Every day brings another dedication gala at harborside museums and galleries, each one trumping up its host more than the art.
Toward the east end of this district, the old open-air markets and housing tenements of “Little Shanghai” North Point have been leveled and replaced with expensive apartment towers.
On the southern edge, tucked into mountainside valleys, is the red-light district of Happy Valley. Here, overworked Hongkongers can blow off steam at the combat biker arena, gamble the night away at loud and colorful digital mah-jongg parlors, or work off the stress with one (or more) of the talented ladies at a nearby “hostess club.”
> Aside from occasional vacations under corporate guard, many young corporate employees never leave Downtown. They live in the Mid-Levels, work in Central, and play in Wanchai-Causeway. This means that a majority of corporate extraction jobs will take place here. Personally, I think snatching targets from Wanchai-Causeway is the easiest. The crowds and noise offer convenient cover, and corporate security doesn’t swarm as thickly there as it does in other nearby areas.
> Lei Kung
> Check out the Fortunate Son brothel. Madame Wu can be very accomodating for runners in a tight spot, so long as you bring her a sizable “gift.”
EASTERN HONG KONG
Two mountains, Mt. Butler and Mt. Parker, cloister away the sleepy towns of Eastern Hong Kong from the bustle of
Downtown. Here, corporate nuclear families make their homes in pre-fabricated but pleasantly comfortable upper-middle
class suburbs. Large shopping malls and supercenters ensure the families have everything they could need, though Downtown is only a tram-ride away. This district was once home to the Swire Group, a business conglomerate that dated back to the colonial days of Hong Kong and had diversified into everything from carbonated beverages to international shipping.
Wuxing purchased the Swire Group back in 2010. This area served as the home ground for Wuxing until Wu Kuan-Lai built a new headquarters in Aberdeen in 2017. Oddly enough, it was in these sleepy villages, not in the gleaming glass-and-steel towers of Central, that the corporations forged their plans for Hong Kong’s independence in 2015, a fact that still fills the local residents with considerable pride.
Three towns primarily make up Eastern Hong Kong. The first, Taikoo Shing, is the former home of both the Swire Group
and Wuxing and is a rising modern district full of shopping malls and Wuxing employees, many of whom manage the factories across the harbor. Shaukeiwan used to be home to Hong Kong’s second largest fishing fleet, but the fisherman have all gone. Instead, the local fishing culture has been subverted into suburban kitsch, with nicely painted fishing boats perched up on dry land as a quaint reminder of what used to be.
Chai Wan is the furthest east of the towns and the least developed, though that is changing. Real estate developers see the area as a possible site for the next cheap housing boom. Blindingly yellow Daiatsu construction vehicles are busy filling in the local bay for flat, reclaimed land.
> Eastern Hong Kong isn’t particularly big on shadowrunning work, but there are occasional extractions here as well as dirty laundry jobs such as blackmail and surveillance. Employers here tend to emphasize keeping things quiet—a flashy run attracts a lot of attention in these small towns, and the networks of guanxi between families here tends to run deep. A runner could find themselves in well over their head before they knew it.
> Jimmy No
Old fashioned mah-jongg tiles clatter and fishermen reel in their nets with the day’s catch; it’s hard to believe you’re still
on the same island as Central District. The Southern Coast district is about as traditionally Chinese as you get in Hong Kong, and that’s no accident. Since 2017, Wuxing Incorporated has owned large portions of the Southern Coast and has imposed strict development laws that claimed to “protect and celebrate the traditions of Hong Kong.” More recently, though, it’s become evident there were other reasons behind Wu Kuan-Lai’s efforts down here: numerous dragon lines (manalines to you Western-thinkers) crisscross the coast, making the whole region magically rich.
Aberdeen is the largest town on the Southern Coast and home to the Wuxing Skytower, a marvel of modern feng shui
construction that looms over the quaint town. It is encircled by strange astral shallows that unveil the happenings of astral space in the physical world. Beyond the Skytower, people of all stripes live side-by-side, from the boat people in the bay selling traditional wares for the tourists to the multi-generational Wuxing executive dynasties whose yachts sit peacefully in the marina. The fish market on the walkway near Aberdeen Harbor is still lively; thanks to work from Wuxing, this area is one of the best fishing spots remaining near Hong Kong. On Apleichau Island just across the bridge from Aberdeen, a bohemian magical community of sorts has sprung up, attracted to the convergence of dragon lines in the area and the astral shallows nearby. In between Apleichau and downtown Aberdeen sits the floating restaurants in the harbor; massive and gaudy boats that serve fresh seafood and dim sum to the tourists.
Ocean Park was once an aquarium and sea-theme resort park, but soon after the Awakening local marine biologists
noticed high populations of aquatic paracritters in the area, especially pods of moon dolphins and at least one community
of matsyanari, a variant of merrow that are native to Southeast Asia. The resort park and the nearby crowded beach
at Deepwater Bay threatened the matyanari, so Evo NavTech bought out the resort and the land and turned it into a mix of a protected sea-life refuge and an aquatic research lab.
> There’s one particular member of the matsyanari tribe who has expressed a heightened ability to communicate with the
metahuman researchers through hand signals and body motions.
They call her Shan Hou (“Coral Princess”) and the potential breakthrough she represents has made her the target of extraction attempts by Mitsuhama Hong Kong and Wuxing—and maybe others as well.
> A fixer in Japan approached me, saying he represented a man looking to acquire Shan Hou for his “private collection.” I turned the job down, but it’s left me wondering just what kind of private collection this person has.
> I think “man” might be a bit misleading. Contact me privately for more info.
Full of thriving metahuman communities and popular with expats, Stanley is a sunny town of pubs and beachside markets.
The pleasant party atmosphere is a far cry from the nightmare that led to the founding of modern Stanley: in the late 2020s, well-educated Filipino metahumans came to Stanley to escape Japanese persecution. Today, little pockets of metahuman communities celebrate a mix of Chinese, Filipino, and metahuman customs and cultures mixed with the feeling of a vacation spot.
I’m not sure “Hang Ten” translates well to Cantonese, but Shek O and the nearby Big Wave Bay are a popular surfing destination in Asia, a century after the sport was first introduced to the region. The waves here are considered the best in Hong Kong; corporate-endorsed surfers engage in highly publicize competitions every dry season. The rainy season is a bit too wild for surfing, unless you’re one of the crazies who surfs typhoons for fun.
> The tanned and bronze-haired Chinese surfers in Shek O make great scenery, but keep in mind that they aren’t all as corporate as their logo-covered wetsuits might make them seem. Some have direct links to radical environmentalist policlubs active along the Pacific Rim, especially some of the powerful groups based out of California.
Yau Tsim Mong
Yau Tsim Mong is the district of Hong Kong extremes. The streets are packed from one side to the other with market stalls and the pressed flesh of thousands of people. The sky has been replaced by layers and layers of signs (real and AR) mixing Chinese characters with English text scrolling horizontally, vertically, and anywhere else they can possibly fit. The din of thousands of rapidly spoken Cantonese conversations is overwhelmed only by the scents of dim sum and herbal tea stands. Over your head, a slow artificial rain falls from shuddering, crowded air conditioners hanging precariously from tenement windows. Yau Tsim Mong is the real heart of Hong Kong.
> Yau Tsim Mong is also a district on the edge, and the people who live here are well aware of that fact. They know that the refugee problem and the rising crime could overtake the life of the district, but they are working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. I have personally never met more industrious people anywhere than the residents of Yau Tsim Mong.
> Money Lee
The neighborhood of Mong Kok is a claustrophobic crush of high-rise tenements, packing within its walls the highest
population density in all of Hong Kong. Every form of space is in short supply in Mong Kok, because even the spaces between the high-rise housing blocks are crammed with a panoply of physical and virtual advertisements. Not only do hundreds of digital and neon signs jut out from every story of every tenement, overlapping in a dizzying array of animated pictographs, but the area’s augmented reality overlay is insane.
Mong Kok’s AR qualifies as a spam zone. If you go through here with your PAN open, you will be assaulted by banners in
every centimeter of your plane of vision, many of them screaming at you in Cantonese. Don’t even be tempted to check out any of these advertisements; I’ve been told they’re a fantastic way to catch some exotic commlink virus cooked up in Asian or Russian hacker dens. If you keep your PAN well-hidden or turn your wireless off, though, Mong Kok can be an exciting place. Entire street markets full of local electronics (not all of it counterfeit) and knock-off designer clothes can be found here, selling their wares at ridiculously cheap prices.
South of Mong Kok, the smaller but not quite as densely packed neighborhood of Yau Ma Tei has earned a reputation as
the “poor mystic’s market.” Street stalls full of “arcane goods”— some authentic, some not—haggle reproduction scrolls, rare animal parts, pressed flowers, strange herbal tea mixtures, frightening demon masks, and everything else under the Awakened sun.
A small temple to the seafarers’ god, Tin Hua, sits landlocked thanks to reclamation of the nearby bay, but it watches over the Bird Garden next door, an open air market that sells bamboo cages of every variety of songbird. And just a few blocks away is the Jade Market, a crowded array of jade trinkets and jewelry, perfect for looks or for alchemical enchantments.
> Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei may be lively and vibrant and all, but both of them are threatened by the presence of the Triads. Triad-backed counterfeiting, pickpocketing, and extortion are fairly common there. An occasional violent turf war even breaks out now and again for variety. Recruitment has been on the rise as the younger generation embraces the fast-living, easy money lifestyle of the Triads over the hard-working, day-to-day grind of traditional Yau Tsim Mong entrepreneurialism.
South of Yau Ma Tei, on the very tip of the Kowloon Peninsula, Tsim Sha Tsui (say that three times fast) has become
more or less an extension of the corporate culture of Hong Kong Island, a cleaned-up parallel to the district’s wilder
neighborhoods. It is also Hong Kong’s premiere tourist town, a sanitized and safe version of the truly exciting corners of this sprawl. Hotels and restaurants stand along the “Golden Mile” of Nathan Road, but they fall a bit short of the glitz and glamour of Wanchai-Causeway.
There’s a palpable undercurrent of siege mentality and fear among Tsim Sha Tsui’s residents as they try to keep the crime and refugee influence at bay. The hotel doormen in their fancy suits, mostly uneducated working stiffs hired to keep other poor people from ever setting foot in the hotel, serve as a symbol for the entire neighborhood—a veneer of sophistication trying to disguise a tough core.
The people of Tsim Sha Tsui need only look over at Kowloon City to remember what they fear. Kowloon is urbanism pushed to the very edge, then knocked right over the side. The population is primarily made up of unregistered refugees, even generations after their initial entry. Lawlessness and blight rule Kowloon; the police are stretched too thin here and are often pulled back to maintain the peace in districts where the residents pay taxes (and are affiliated with a corporation). The criminal syndicates govern in their stead through the rule of frequently demonstrated violence.
Hong Kong has given up on Kowloon City and now simply tries to contain it as if it were a disease—and even that
method has only had debatable success. Somehow, though, the people of Kowloon carry on. It’s not pretty or fair, but it does survive on some twisted level. Innumerable small gangs and urban tribes carve out their own sections of turf and try to create some semblance of normal life, though it’s always darker, more desperate, and more dangerous than the typical standards of normal anywhere else.
In Hung Hom, down on the southern tip near the harbor, urban tribes have taken over old shopping malls and theme
parks and converted them into bizarre communities. Though they are preyed on by the violent gangs and Triads, the tribes’ numbers swell with each passing year as more locals find value in the close-knit social networks the tribes provide.
Further to the northeast along the coast, at the site of the old Kai Tak airport, smugglers, counterfeiters, junk merchants, and tinkerers have turned the old runway into an open-air bazaar.
Most of the goods come in by boat, pulled up right alongside the runway that extends over the water or passed off to the boat people who live all year in their sampans and houseboats in the adjacent typhoon shelter. Kai Tak has found
its niche in Hong Kong; this is where you go to buy the items you can’t get anywhere else in the city—and where you sell things you can’t usually get rid of.
Further inland to the north is the Kowloon Walled City, the darkest nightmare of Kowloon. When the refugees first started pouring into Hong Kong in the ’20s, this area was mostly parks and light residential housing. Then violent
criminal gangs started invading the homes and taking them over, as refugee packs turned the city parks into squatter tent cities.
As more people arrived, the area became more crowded and more desperate. The corporations were forced to build some sort of housing for the throngs of refugees, if only to keep them bottled up and away from Hong Kong residents.
The result was the Walled City, a dark core of crumbling slums so tightly packed together as to resemble a solid wall of decay from a distance. Within, the most desperate fight to survive.
> Competition is so fierce between the Triads in Kowloon City that they often hire shadowrunners to augment their activities. In fact, Kowloon is where most of Hong Kong’s native shadowrunners hail from, brought up from street gangs and refugee families into the shadow biz.
> Money Lee
The grinding and clanking of heavy machinery and oppressive industrial factories are the first signs that you’ve entered the district of Kwun Tong. This district is Hong Kong’s main manufacturing center, roused from an economic slumber by the implosion of China and the nationalism of Japan. Overnight, a sprawl that had lost much manufacturing to cheap labor elsewhere suddenly became one of the last stable locations left with reliable and skilled laborers.
Raw materials and basic manufactured components flooded into Hong Kong’s ports from the Chinese warlord-states and
Southeast Asia, where they were processed into complex goods and shipped back out to the hungry Asian markets.
The recovery that was seen as a happy miracle to the local corporations , however, also brought with it lax labor laws,
horrible working conditions, and massive pollution.
> Not to mention at least four different factories that feed the Kong chip industry, dumping low quality Better-Than-Life chips into the laps of addicts worldwide. The chips are legal in Hong Kong but are slipped to the Triads by the factories for illegal sale in other nations.
Kwun Tong, specifically the core of the industrial plants in the district’s center, is the birthplace and breeding ground of
the anti-corporate radical movement. Though the movement as it exists today operates under a single banner, it is believed to have its origins in a disparate mixture of labor, environmental, and democratic movements that sprung up independently within this district. As the group’s home turf, the Kwun Tong district is its primary target. It has been extremely successful in attacking the corporate infrastructure here.
Two more neighborhoods on the outskirts of the district carry noted significance. On the northwest end of the district is
Jordan Valley, a former landfill closed and rapidly transformed into a series of massive low-income housing complexes. The
Jordan Valley complexes were originally temporary solutions to a population shift from the nearby neighborhood of Ngau Tau Kok, which was quarantined and demolished when it became an epicenter for the VITAS plague. But Ngau Tau Kok was never cleared for reconstruction and remains an urban wasteland, while the blocky, bland towers of Jordan Valley have been shored up for permanence.
On the southeast end of the district is Lam Tin, the most concentrated hub of transportation in the city. There are eight
private busline terminals, two private taxi hubs, a major train station that handles one of the two underwater train tunnels
connecting Hong Kong Island to the peninsula, and two major highway tunnels, one traveling underwater alongside the
train tunnel and one traveling east through the mountains to Sai Kung. The seafront of Lam Tin has been reclaimed and
transformed into piers for the lighter ships that go out to unload freight ships still at sea, transferring their industrial cargo
for processing in Kwun Tong. The sheer concentration of the transportation network in this industrial town has made
it a frequent target of anti-corporate radicals, who have made bombing and destroying critical transportation infrastructure one of their hallmarks. Many of these key buildings and structures bear both an increased security presence and the scars of earlier attacks.
In the years immediately following Hong Kong’s independence, the corporations that took over the city’s governance
lifted the environmental protections on Hong Kong’s many natural parks. In a pattern similar to North America’s Resource
Rush, the corps descended on any pristine land that had some resource value. Sai Kung suffered heavily as a result. After the corporations took what they could find, the land was too ravaged for tourism so crime moved in. Sai Kung’s numerous
rocky inlets, protected coves, and tiny islands were too perfect for South Asian pirates to ignore, especially so close to valuable Hong Kong shipping lanes. In a way, corporate greed created a monster that the people of Sai Kung are still trying to tackle to this day.
Small villages dot the ragged coast of Sai Kung, but the coastal security forces have had no luck recruiting their aid
against the pirate activity. The villagers, mostly cut off from the rest of Hong Kong, have closer contacts with the criminals
than with the government. After the pirate crews hit ships traveling to Hong Kong, they often hide the loot in a
cove somewhere until the merchandise isn’t as hot. They then trade the loot to the village boat people, who shuffle it down to the Kai Tak market.
Very rarely, t-bird smugglers from the Chinese warlord states cut down over the Canton/Hong Kong border, skip over
the sparse land of the Northern Reaches, and try to dart into Sai Kung for a direct entry into the market without paying the middlemen. That path moves over the Tolo Harbor Complex, however, right under the noses of Hong Kong’s security forces, and it’s exceptionally risky.
> Too many riggers pay for that “get rich quick” scheme with their lives. The Marine Authority is all too anxious to shoot those smuggler t-birds out of the sky.
> Rigger X
> Yeah, but those who make it gain a lot of face. It can pay off big.
> Assuming you consider death or a lifetime reservation in a cell for 5 a reasonable risk.
> Rigger X
Tolo Har bor Complex
The Hong Kong Free Enterprise Zone has no official military, but that only means they aren’t wearing a flag when
they shoot you dead. As a fully privatized free city, corporate security is ubiquitous; nearly the entire Central District is a
patchwork of extraterritorial corporate zones sporting dozens of different security forces. The Tolo Harbor Complex goes a step further: it is the home of Hong Kong’s Marine Authority as well as Hong Kong’s Special Police Forces. Overseen by Ares and Evo, it is a massive military base in everything but name.
At the throat of the harbor is the town of Sha Tin. It is bisected by the massive Shing Mun Canal, a controlled river
waterway that constantly buzzes with maintenance drones and unmanned supply barges ferrying out to the wet and dry docks servicing Evo NavTech’s paramilitary boats and ships. The town, the boats, and even the people in this corporate military town are a strange international mix: English, Chinese, and Cyrillic lettering is etched on nearly every building. Evo NavTech is constantly moving personnel around through Tolo Harbor, which gives Sha Tin the feel of a bawdy shore-leave dive barely held in control by a constant military presence. The town is a rusty, dirty, rough place, and that’s exactly the way most of the locals like it.
North of Sha Tin along the coast is Tai Po, which is essentially Arestown. After Knight Errant snagged the Hong Kong police contract out of Mitsuhama’s hands, they invested heavily in the village of Tai Po, turning it into a base for their
special police units. And when I say “special police units,” think of Firewatch teams, military drones, and urban assault vehicles.
Ares’s development plan seems to be working; their investment in the city through Tai Po has made it impossible for their corporate rivals to dislodge them from the law enforcement contract. At the same time, the increased sabotage attacks in nearby Kwun Tong have justified the heavy arms Ares stores in the area, even allowing them to pull out the big guns on occasion.
> Plan 9
Despite being effectively another military base like Sha Tin, Tai Po has a completely different atmosphere. Tai Po is very sedate, Spartan, and controlled, and the sight of soldiers practicing tai chi chuan or judo is very common. In fact, the central fixture of the town is not even a military asset, but rather the Man Mo Temple, dedicated to the Man Cheung, the god of literature, and Kwan Yu, the god of war. The temple has grown dramatically in size during Ares’ renovation. Now dozens of smoky incense spirals hang from the interior of the temple honoring the ancestors and the gods who watch over the soldiers and police.
The common—and often accurate—view of the Hong Kong sprawl is one of crowds, noise, lights, and capitalism unleashed.
The Northern Reaches, however, are quite different. They are only nominally part of the Free Enterprise Zone, more of a rural buffer between the Hong Kong sprawl and the Cantonese sprawl of Shenzhen. Here there are small villages that have changed little in the past centuries. Extended family clans continue to make a living the old fashioned way, farming and fishing. In fact, the rice paddies and soybean farms in the northwest section of this district around Yeun Long supply most of Hong Kong’s small homegrown food supply.
Superstition and religion are thick and powerful here, and the old ways are the preferred ways. But times, they are a-changing.
Aztechnology has been eyeing the marshlands as a possible extension to their Natural Vat mycoprotein farms, with the intention of expanding their ever-popular soy and mycoprotein paste foods. So far, though, their success has been limited. The locals just aren’t terribly interested in Aztechnology’s offers and the Big A hasn’t found a way to pressure them yet, since their reach isn’t as deep in Hong Kong as it is in the Americas.
> Mmmm … soy and mycoprotein paste, my favorite meal. Wait, it’s every meal!
> You know, you are what you eat.
> Yep. Good to the last drop, baby.
> Men. :rolleyes:
> Aztechnology is considering some pretty shady activities to get their hands on this land, so if you don’t have any objections to working for them, keep an eye open. If they could farm locally and package and ship them straight from Hong Kong, it would mean heaps of savings.
The Kwai Tsing district is immediately identifiable by the legions of shipping vessels huddled in the waters around it and
the dozens of spidery cranes lifting an endless stream of shipping containers onto the port. The peninsula section of Kwai Tsing is known as Kwai Chung and is home to the infamous Container Port, the primary point of contact for most shipped materials coming into or going out of Hong Kong.
This district is mostly responsible for Hong Kong being the largest seaport in the world and constantly in contention with the Europort for the busiest. Beyond the port facilities, Kwai Chung is mostly warehouses and blue-collar residential complexes catering to the port workers, many of whom are mainland refugees and metahumans. The other main section of this district is Tsing Yi Island, just across Rambler Channel from Kwai Chung. Tsing Yi also contains some limited port facilities, most notably the Mitsuhama-owned and largely unmanned Ying Chau port, but its real significance is in moving goods and people around after they have come ashore. Tsing Yi is threaded with bridges connecting the island to Kwai Chung and to the Chek Lap Kok airport, its highways crowded with new arrivals to the city and massive truck-trains shuttling freight to the peninsula.
Tsing Yi also has a number of hotels catering to the business transient, including blocks of coffin motels for the thrifty traveler. There has been a dramatic increase lately in reports of human traffickers and smugglers using the Container Port to bring refugees and illegal goods into Hong Kong. The Marine Authority has stepped up controls and inspections, but they fall far short of perfect. Their hands have been tied by the Executive Council and the corporations it represents, who favor the economy of a free port to the security of a safe port.
> Rigger X
Lantau Island used to be endless tracts of protected parks, but those days are long over. Now the island is infested by corporate resorts and gated communities. The unspoiled beauty of the island and its wide open space attracted the corporations early on, who recognized its value as prime real estate. Today nearly all the executives too wealthy to live on the Mid-Levels but not wealthy enough for the Peak live on Lantau. Even those who can’t quite afford to live here spend time here on corporate- sponsored vacation packages.
As far as vacations are concerned, Lantau claims to have it all: massive entertainment complexes like Virtual Horizons
Disney, piers for passenger cruise ships making tours throughout the Pacific Rim, and spectacular age-old temples. In fact, the interior of the island has the grandest and wealthiest temples in all of Hong Kong, competing with each other for the most followers, tourists, and money. The undisputed winner at present is the famous Po Lin Monastery and its twenty-six-meter-tall bronze Buddha statue, sitting atop a temple pedestal overlooking the countryside. That has not stopped other local monasteries from competing for big donations.
> Sometimes the competition for donations gets downright nasty. One temple may hire shadowrunners to dig up dirt on another to publicly implicate it in some scandal. Scandals are a big trade among the temples, as it usually causes the scandalized temple’s worshippers to scatter and look for another temple to support.
> Jimmy No
> Not that anyone is actually scandalized. It’s just bad fact to seem not to mind. They come back in a few months, but that can be enough to get what you need done.
Lantau has a number of growing neighborhoods, though each one does little to distinguish itself. They are all wellplanned
and well-controlled corporate communities, beautiful on the outside but lifeless on the inside. Discovery Bay is nauseatingly clean and safe and just a stone’s throw away from the Disney resort (and I highly recommend throwing stones at it).
Silvermine Bay used to be highly polluted, but Shiawase led an effort to clean up the area and has done a remarkably good job, though scientists worry that the pollutant-eating bacteria they used are also killing plant-life crucial to the sea ecology. Pui O is your typical beachside resort town, half split between spoiled social butterflies and pricey hotel resorts. Finally, Tung Chung is an aggressively growing little burb built in the shadow of the Chek Lap Kok international airport, trendy with the jet-setting business-class crowd.