Ok, thanks again to Hermit, whose idea (and work) I've blatantly borrowed and copied for my upcoming Campaign. Below is my individualized players brief to the city. I've copied much of Hermits great work here, and then gone off in my own direction in some areas. But I just wanted to share it, to thank Hermit--and everyone else who voted or talked about this great campaign gimmick. Eclipse City
“A City with a Birthday” says one slogan. “The City from Nowhere” says another. In the short time Eclipse City has existed, it has generated a mountain of study and interest. The secret of its origin is no clearer now than in the minute it appeared in our world. On Monday, August 21, 2018, North America was observing a rare total Solar Eclipse. A few small cities were especially excited, as last-minute corrections had moved totality to just include them --Keokuk Iowa, Hamilton and Warsaw, Illinois, and Alexandria, Missouri. Shortly after 1:15, that area experienced totality-and something more. Darkness descended, then the light returned a minute later. The eclipse continued as normal.
But the world was not normal. Residents of those small towns felt a brief moment of disorientation, then noticed something was different. Although their cities were the same, homes the same, the terrain was slightly different. New highways were visible. Even the road signs noted a subtle change. Cartographers, geography buffs, and anyone who just happened to be looking at a map noted changes. A little triangular area where Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa came together was ...different. The Missouri now split and flowed around a large triangular island. The very cities that used to reside near this location had moved! Drivers suddenly noticed new exits, signs, noting highways that had not existed a minute before. I-74 now suddenly stretched to what became overnight known as Eclipse City and beyond, splitting to connect to I-80 in the north, and I-35 in the west, then arcing down to merge to I-70 in the South between Kansas City and Columbia. Rail lines suddenly stretched to this new city, before linking into the previous ones., Airport databases suddenly listed an active airport, that was temporarily closed. Despite all of these changes, no other record could be found. There is no history of Eclipse City. Historical records take no account of its existence. Deed records simply do not include it. State boundaries exclude it. No one has a memory or recollection of it. No record says anything about it, but any map, route, road sign, or other necessary marker notes the City as if it had always been there.
And indeed, there was a city. Sprawling in beauty across the island, connected to the three surrounding states by no less than nine wide bridges and nine additional underground transit tunnels. Four neighborhoods surrounded this island downtown core, each surrounded by high, secure walls, the entire city itself elevated well above the surrounding river, secure from any flooding. The City was a marvel, featuring cutting edge technology. The city was elegantly laid out, with wide roads, both above and below ground, underground subways, above ground trains that ran above roadways, and ample numbers of busses and public transport vehicles that that were connected to the cities automated driving system. A large international airport was the heart of a transportation system that cleanly routed in truck traffic and had the capability of handling river traffic as well. Factories, Residential neighborhoods, a sprawling University, extensive public schools—a perfect city, missing only one thing: residents. Homes were ready, keys laying on counters. Stores stood ready for inventory, and names. Restaurants were equipped, lacing only staff, supplies, and menus. The City seemed new, as if it was built that day, with no personalization—even the Streets were simply designated by numbers and letters.
Eclipse City's architecture is predominantly Art Deco in style with rectangular blocky forms arranged in geometric fashion, then broken up by curved ornamental elements all to create monolithic appearances with applied decorative motifs. Where ever it came from, the city had a certain density at one time, with a lot of tall buildings, indeed, with Eclipse City's arrival, the former tallest building of all three adjoining states are no longer even in the top ten. Despite the buildings reaching up for space, more light reaches than you might think thanks in large part to green space or parks scattered throughout. As for what the buildings and streets are made of, the buildings, infrastructure, and roads are made of very cutting edge, highly durable materials. What is unique is the odd crystalline streaks and swirls embedded seemingly randomly in outside walls and along sections of the roads. Like crushed dark glass of varying hues, these fractal patterns can often catch light in lovely and intriguing displays, though fortunately glare is minimum in most examples.
While much of this is a mystery, it doesn't take a genius to realize that the thirteen immense crystals scattered about the city probably either provided or at least were made of the same material. Varying in height from thirty to forty feet tall, the giant crystals appear to be in a pattern like a great wheel about the city. These can be somewhat blinding if one looks at them directly when the sun is hitting them just so, but no one would think of covering them up yet as, thus far, it's not like they're melting cars or burning people. They are spindle shaped and fused to the ground. A few lean, others are completely upright. One is cracked, another seems to have been mostly worn away. While they are dark in hue, the colors otherwise vary and some locals use them as land marks. Naturally, these crystals have drawn the attention of gawkers, geologists, and new-agers but authorities reserve the right to close off access to them at a moment's notice.
The central processor for the Gridlink system has yet to be discovered, despite extensive research. Also a mystery are the large number drone vehicles that patrol the roads. These vehicles seem to be a form of automated repair system, having shown the capability of repairing roads, diverting traffic from accidents, acting as fire suppression vehicles, and housing smaller remote drones that do other maintenance and repair on public utilities, down to mowing of the grass. They draw their power from the Grid system, which seemingly draws power from the City itself. One of the greatest marvels of the city is that it is self-powering. No power production plant has been found. And the City seemingly has an incredible reserve of power. It has no connection to the outside power grid of the United States, and as of yet, no connection has been built. No power lines or cables mar the city, all utilities are secure and buried. There is even free universal Wifi, though the central source has yet to be discovered. It was discovered in the winter that the streets were capable of melting snow and ice over time. Researchers think they crystals in the city are very efficient solar collectors, and that they extend into the earth, and draw energy from Earth itself. Exploration and powerful underground sensors have determined the cities extensive underground utilities go very deep, and that there may even be a core tap power source. The city has no pollution problem, as all of its vehicles draw power from the Gridlink system. All of the factories power comes cleanly from the city; all exhaust, byproducts, and other refuse are handled by automated recycling systems of staggering efficiency. In a remarkable act of foresight, only electric/hybrid vehicles are allowed in the city. Hybrids vehicles only operate on gas outside of the city.
Some curious locals, interstate drivers, and small aircraft pilots were the first to arrive, shortly followed by several different branches of the military, government, and superhumans. They found a beautiful sprawling elegant city, completely empty. The next days were chaos as people rushed in, and the Government tried to stop them. Superheroes and Villains clashed immediately; especially as the Superhumans who quickly became the Cities first residents and superhero team drove off numerous villains. Explorers, scientists, occultists, and hordes of lawyers also rushed to take advantage of the opportunity. The extensive integrated road network made it difficult to stop people from getting to the borders. The city itself still was challenging to get into due to the refusal of the cities entry points to allow vehicles that could not connect to Eclipse cities Gridlink system that surpassed even the amazing system found in Millennium City. The thousands of vehicles in the City that existed for the apparent administration of the city already were equipped. (Later it was determined warehouses with ready to install driving control systems existed, and since have been used on the vehicles that have brought in. Rumors of free mansions in a city of high technology awaiting anyway caused a massive influx. The fears the city would suddenly disappear were not much of a deterrent.
A rush by law enforcement and National Guard units from all three states brief almost escalated into a shooting match (rumors persist to this day one battle did occur but was stopped by superheroes). Various federal agencies declared they alone had supreme authority. The Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the Department of Justice—but finally, the President intervened and declared the newly renamed Primus (the Primary Response and Intervention for Metahumans Unified Service) to be in charge of Eclipse City, especially as they responded with massive reinforcements to assist the Superheroes struggling to drive off every meta powered criminal who saw an empty city free for exploitation. Martial law was effectively, though not technically declared, and persisted for several months until a rudimentary system of federally appointed Judges was assembled. The City was declared an exclusive Federal District, much like Washington D.C. Teams of Silver Avengers, Iron Guard, Field Agents, and researchers descended upon the City. Observers from UNTIL were rejected after a failed attempt by the United Nations to declare Eclipse City a Extranational City State. When the UNTIL ‘observers’ arrived, a tense standoff occurred until the Golden Avenger arrived, and with considerable diplomacy (backed by several squads of Iron Guard) sent the UNTIL mission back with the polite language that their assistance was appreciated, but not needed at the moment, but that an invitation from the President would be issued if it was determined it was needed at a later time.
So, within days, Eclipse City had almost precipitated a small civil war, a battle of federal agencies, an international confrontation, and the greatest land rush since the Oklahoma sooners. As the days and weeks rolled by, no other information was revealed; the City tested safe in every way. Residents clamored for official admittance to one state or another, and incorporation of the city. A system of sorts was established. A provisional city government was made, and housing in most areas was given to this government to set up for auction to raise funds. Primus and a few other agencies secured choice buildings for their own use. Strict rules were set up, mainly to prevent investors from buying up neighborhoods. A select percentage of homes and apartments, especially in the more austere areas of the city have been set aside for distribution by regularly held lotteries with income scaled payments (down to zero for the impoverished) until the city reaches full capacity. Estimates put the city on its own as easily handling a population centering on two million. Large businesses and factories actually have a lease on their buildings with the City. Pressure is mounting for permanent sale from those entities, while locally many are clamoring a low forbidding the permanent sale of any property in the city to a business employing 50 or more individuals. Several large firms have moved branches to the city—to explore its technology, for publicity reasons, and to take advantage of a new opportunity. This political battel for ownership rights is shaping up to be a political crisis, and accusations of dirty, underhanded tactics on both sides have already been made by the cities newspaper, the Penumbra. The neighboring small cities experienced their own boom, as those wishing to do business with the City, yet afraid to live in it moved close as possible. Construction has been slow, but increasing, and projections on the Eclipse City Metropolitan area range from 1.5 to 6 million in a decade.
Every week seems to announce a new branch of a large firm. Several startups in the City have also had unparalleled success. The lack of energy costs, the presence of low cost housing, a diverse work force, and no cost production facilities that are clean, incredibly advanced and highly productive are turning the city into an economic powerhouse. Its Gridlink system, large airport, and the massive storage capabilities of the underground utility system called the Undercity are making Eclipse City a transportation hub, much to the anger of neighboring cities such as St. Louis, Indianapolis, and to a lesser extent, Chicago. Eclipse City University is opening for its first term; the mystery and allure of the City from Nowhere has been irresistible to students and teachers alike from across the world. And the City is embracing the school, with sports teams already forming. It is currently small, but demand and applications indicate the school will at least double or triple enrollment next year. Some have talked about obtaining Major League franchises. A minor league team has already embraced the opportunity, and moved to Eclipse City, and tickets are selling like crazy. Already their name is shifting from Wolves to the Werewolves.
There is an ongoing debate about what to do with the city, if it should be incorporated into a state, and which one. Currently, it is operated as a federal district, with an appointed Mayor, policed by Primus under what is, effectively, martial law that is trying very hard to be a local neighborhood police force. The residents have no right to vote in a federal election if they claim residency in the city, and no one is allowed to live in the city without declaring residency. On the other hand, the City currently has a low sales tax, an almost non-existent property tax, and there is no state tax. The sale of property of the high range homes, and lease of property to large businesses (small ones get pro-rated and a semi-lottery approach to those with a good business plan) has generated such a budget surplus that the interest alone would fund many smaller cities. The fact that the city has very low maintenance costs helps considerably. The automated repair drones reduce the size of public workers needed. City wide sprinklers, fire resistant materials. There is a growing demand for autonomy, elections, and the creation of a ‘normal’ city government. There is already an election scheduled for a representative to the House, although they will not have voting privileges. This has already attracted the interest of the former superhero turned Congressman David Sutherland, aka Invictus.
It's a sad state of affairs that the one area of local control that folks should be able to turn to leadership for is still something of a mess. After a brief period of "Let's not call it Martial law but do what PRIMUS says or they have the right to shoot you", one Louis Blant was assigned as the Mayor Pro-Tem. Blant sectioned off an area near the center of the central island for the government buildings, but the truth of the matter is he's been a rather lack luster leader pushed about by one force or another. Some say he's corrupt, but most believe he's just incompetent. An emerging city Council, composed of heads of various City agencies and some other representatives may the real power. Despite this, he is already campaigning for the position of first elected mayor. EC Gov itself is a lovely spot, with large buildings now claimed for courthouses, bureaucracies and the town council. It has a particularly lovely city hall that most folks have to admit, looks a bit like a place from an old Saturday morning superhero cartoon show. The main accomplishment of the Mayor has been seemingly to stay out of the way of the frantic activity of a City literally taking root, and some people think that might be a better choice than a more involved leader trying to inject their own agenda and just getting in the way of progress.
So far, Eclipse City has its share of crime. Many opportunists who arrived naturally sought to try and con, steal, or take whatever wasn’t nailed down. Supervillains flocked to the city. Fortunately, Superheroes were waiting for them; Eclipses Cities resident super team is comprised of five novice heroes who came to investigate the strange phenomena, then found themselves so busy that they became among the first citizens. These heroes are much loved by many residents, because they were there when there was no one else to protect people and served as a vital intermediary between conflicting law enforcement and military groups, and ultimately Primus itself. And when the inevitable train of Supervillains came to investigate and exploit EC, these heroes were called upon constantly to help Primus stop the City from becoming a den of thieves and super powered madmen.
(What no one else knows, not even Primus, is that these heroes were present in the city the moment it manifested. All five of them had lead normal lives, in different locations, until the moment of the eclipse, then suddenly found themselves in the city, in costume, with powers.)
Still, where people go, crime follows. Some cities covertly bussed large segments of their homeless, poor, and mentally ill populations at the outskirts of EC. So, despite having abundant rooms, shelters, and blocks of apartments still being settled, EC has a core population of “wayfarers”; they refuse the name homeless, saying the City itself is their home. Another troublesome group is EC’s first legitimate gang. A number of individuals, from all walks of life, have suddenly been coming together in a gang. They style themselves the “Lunartics”, and their chaotic, random behavior has led many to believe they are all mentally ill to some degree. They cause problems in the city; their crimes are random, disorganized, and often run more to wild parties, pranks, and vandalism, but several innocent bystanders have been injured. Many people do not want to see Eclipse City develop the problems of other cities and are clamoring on a harsh draconian crackdown to hunt down and exile all Lunartics, regardless of their current activity. An Eclipse City police department is it its early stages of development. Most enforcement still is in the hands of Primus, with some assistance by the FBI, and US Marshalls. This still results in some legal complexities and battles for authority, complicated by the fact that none of the larger federal agencies focus on city level police work.
Many have expressed different theories on the future of Eclipse City. Many still ponder if the City will just vanish overnight or during the next eclipse. The mysteries of its origins are debated constantly. But the commentary of Horatio Goodman, founder of the Goodman Institute, delivered to a closed meeting to the US Government perhaps reveal what is truly troubling:
“Our analysis has discovered that Eclipse City is unnatural. ::laughter:: I know, a city that appears out of thin air can’t be natural, but I’m speaking of its nature as a city. It has not grown into its current status. Look at any City, a map of its streets, property lines, the nature of its subdivisions, the types of roads and buildings found in it, and you can see the roots of its development. You can see the kernel of the original small city, town, or village at its heart. Eclipse City has not developed. It has been created, as it is, by design, not by evolving or growing. Everything is well laid out, preplanned, each section, neighborhood well fitted and supported, with no ungainly or complicated access, no utility bottleneck, no uneven distribution of resources, no varying signs of development. The city fits together perfectly. This isn’t a city that developed somewhere, then and was transported to our world, or copied. It was planned, exactly as it is, never lived in, and delivered to our world with the door open and keys literally on the counter. More importantly, our world was altered, without detection, to service the needs of this city.
We can continue to debate how the city came here, or from where. What we need to address is what Eclipse City is. I’ve come to two possible conclusions, but I cannot tell you which conclusion is correct, and I fear we will only find out through the passage of time. Eclipse City is either the greatest gift or the greatest trap in the known in the history of our world. If it is the former, I have to wonder if the giver will expect something in return; if it is the latter, I shudder to think what type of trap needs such an enticing lure.”