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Cyberpunk RED Alert: Night City

The dream of maverick developer Richard Night, Coronado City was supposed to be the ultimate expression of urban existence: free of crime, poverty, and misfortune. Unfortunately, the hope for a bright, shining, efficient, safe, city protected from the coming Collapse died with him. After Night’s assassination, Night City was named in his honor, and went through decades of trauma.

First criminal organizations and Corporations fought for control of the City. Then came a rising tide of boostergangs and urban decay and, finally, a War that ended with a nuclear explosion right in the heart of the Corporate Center.

Today, Night City is healing from the ravages of the last tumultuous decades. But it should never be forgotten that like most of America, Night City, is still an armed society under a blanket of appalling poverty, violence, and inequity. And a lot of people call it home.

Welcome to Night City.

The Noodle Bar by Richard Bagnall

The Night City of 2045 looks a little different from the glittering gem it was during the 2020s. There’s no central government. Instead, an ever-shifting set of districts, neighborhoods, and regions send representatives to a central Council that attempts to exert control and influence over the whole metropolis. More often than not, they fall into infighting instead, both in City Hall and on The Street. Some city-wide services still exist, more from force of will and inertia than good city management. The busses still run. So do the power plants and water works, thanks to Corporate needs. Who provides security depends on where you’re hanging. Could be a poorly funded NCPD. Could be MAX-TAC, now an independent organization. Or it could be private Corporate security or gang enforcers or just some local Edgerunners, hired for the job by the community.

You’ll notice there’s not a lot of streets marked on the map. Why? Because the construction’s constant. Old streets get torn apart or just plain blown up every day. New streets get built. The streets drawn on the map are the most stable and likely to actually be there today, tomorrow, and maybe even a week from now. The rest? Well, let’s just say getting across town ain’t something you can just plot out using a map app on your Agent these days.

All this doesn’t mean Night City’s unlivable. There’s a lot of people who call the place home and the City’s actually rebuilding pretty fast these days.

Night City 2045

The areas marked in green are what the City Council calls “the Rebuilding Urban Center”. These are Zones where there’s more building than there is destruction and where people might be able to walk safe in the streets. During the day. On a good day. The Glen’s received special attention. With Corporate support, it has been carved out from South Night City and transformed into the home of the government, such as it is. The University District is a fortress of learning. Literally. They take their mission of protecting knowledge seriously there. Little Europe combines many of the parts of old Night City built using European architectural styles and is in pretty good shape. You’ll find a mix of styles in the Upper Marina. The old mallplex is gone, but the stadium remains and there’s plenty of industry there as well as gentrified neighborhoods. To the north, the Corps are building up a new Watson Development where rising Megabuildings can house their workforces. Further north than that, the U.S. military hangs onto the NorCal Military Base. To the south, Pacifica Playground remains famous for Playland by the Sea. Leaving the city is difficult, so an amusement park for those who can afford it within city limits is important. Out to the west, Orbital Air is in the process of transforming Morro Rock into a launch platform.

Marked in orange, the Overpacked Suburbs are a mixed bag of poverty-stricken camps still filled with refugees years after the end of the 4th Corporate War and developing areas that almost seem like the Beavervilles of old. Heywood is the perfect example. Residents with some money, and maybe hope of getting out, live to the north. To the south there’s more poverty and residents tend to follow the lead of the Aldecaldo Nomads who operate from the area and call it Santo Domingo. Many people living in Heywood work in the Industrial Zone, the largest concentration of warehouses and factories in Night City. New Westbrook looks like a warzone, where refugees from the War and from the gentrification of the Urban Centers make a life among the ruins of old executive glamour. Even Rancho Coranado, once the biggest Beaverville of them all, finds itself overrun by tent and container cities.

If you’re in red, you might be dead. Some cities have a Combat Zone. Night City has four. South Night City remains an industrial sprawl but more run by gangs than companies these days. The Old Combat Zone remains just as dangerous as ever. Old Japantown suffered tremendously after the nuclear bomb went off as prevailing winds drove radiation and particulate matter south and east. These days there’s just gangs there. Most of the population has moved north to Watson. Chinatown’s different. There, the locals hang on, trying to keep their way of life and their homes against overwhelming odds.

The Hot Zone’s even worse. People live there, but only because they have no other choice. Ground zero of the nuclear blast, the Hot Zone is all that remains of the once booming Corporate Center. Of course, there’s treasures to be had here. An Edgerunner can score a win for life if they find the right goodies buried beneath the rubble. But only if they can survive the radiation, the scavvers, the gangs, and the wildlife to get it out.

The Executive Zone’s where the bigwigs live. Gated. Walled. Protected. If you live here, you’ve made it. If you try to get in without “making it”, you’ve probably made it to the morgue instead.

Beyond the Executive Zone and the Suburbs you’ll find the Reclaimed Perimeter, an optimistic name for Badlands where Reclaimers try to make a life in the burned out remains of long-abandoned towns.

It Ain’t All Bad

We’ve painted a bleak picture but, like we’ve said, Night City is a town on the mend. Different Corporations have set up here in gleaming towers and sprawling office parks. Stores are reopening. Playland by the Sea’s still sees thousands of visitors every year, desperate to have fun and forget their troubles. The Data Pool’s up, running, and almost city wide. There’s plenty of places to have an approximation of alcohol, ranging from the Totentanz at the edge of the Hot Zone to the Netrunner bar, Short Circuit, in Little Europe, to the surprisingly popular bar in the public area of Network 54’s offices in New Westbrook. If you’re willing to brave the Old Combat Zone, you can even grab a bite of what might real corned beef at Jesse James’ Kosher Deli. Don’t look for the Rainbow Room, though. It died with Johnny Silverhand.

And you can come out on top in Night City! There’s folk who have, through skill, willpower, and a willingness to flatline the competition if need be. Need some examples? Bes Isis is still around, running her own show these days on the Data Pool. Fixers like Hornet, who specializes in biotech, and Mister Kernaghan, who focuses on high end luxury goods, make a good living selling goods to them that can afford it. Both Doctor Bob and Phoenix Redwyne run packed clinics. After all, there’s plenty of people who need to be sewn up every day! Even Rogue and Father Kevin are both still around. These days she runs the Afterlife but you’ll still find Father Kevin in the Holy Angels Church and he still has a mean left hook.

And that’s Night City in 2045. A city rising from the ashes, like a phoenix dreaming of a better future. Before we go, though, the Mayor of Balance Town wanted to share a few thoughts.

From the office of the Mayor of Balance Town

First of, thank you. All of Balance Town has been working hard for this moment, and we hope you will enjoy the grand re-re-re-opening of Night City.

I’d like to share 10 attractions for you and your friends to trample each other over in a mad stampede toward when the gates open.

  • Have a motorcycle duel with melee weapons on an abandoned stretch of highway. Akira-sliding your motorcycle to make a sudden stop is a Maneuver, so be sure to read up on the Vehicle Combat rules beforehand.
  • Visit the Night City port and grab a drink with some sea Nomads.
  • Visit SovOil’s Museum of Petroleum to pick up a keychain and note the location of all the security cameras.
  • Don your favorite radiation suit and visit the Old Corporate Plaza!
  • Go karaoke in the Old Combat Zone with your crew and butcher your favorite Samurai songs while trying not to get butchered yourself.
  • Visit a Night Market to purchase tasteful seasonal furnishings for your shipping container, like an automated turret for trick-or-treaters.
  • Get kicked out of the Afterlife! Count broken bones at the hospital afterwards, and compare results with your friends.
  • Tour the Network 54 offices in New Westbrook and be a part of a live studio audience.
  • Get educated at Night City University.
  • Make Night City your hometown.

Finally, if you see anything imbalanced…

Just let me know.

James Hutt

Game Designer, Mayor of Balance Town for R.Talsorian Games

Stay safe on those streets, choomba!

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