Rifts®: Megaversal Highway™
Ruling Class: King Kowa (6th level Scorpion Person Professional Gambler) and parliament of elected officials.
Motto: Perseverance, Faith, Passion
Capitol City: Z’mer (formerly Henderson, Nevada).
Flag: The flag is a black rectangle with two stripes of bright scarlet and a rectangle of dark violet in the upper left-hand corner. The emblem is a sparrow and dice.
Description: Z’mer is a relatively small city with corruption problems. Most of Z’mer is burred, with only a few portions protruding up from the arid scorpion plagued desert. Its main attractions are its talented street performers, inter-guild competition and strangely enough its cooking. The city guards are easily bribed. Z’mer’s population is primary human (50%) but it sports a large population of Scorpion People (45%) along with a smaller enslaved population of Shale Bogs (5%). Despite being mostly underground, Z’mer is a relatively cheerful place. Its people are fond of their political leaders. They are bordered on three sides by scorching desert sands but are fortunate enough to be on a large river that is used by Bandito Arms for trafficking their product. Their relations with their neighbors to the southwest are mercurial, while relations with neighbors to the north are strained at best. However, both would quickly become hostile were they to learn of Z’mers associations with Bandito Arms. They are sometimes troubled by violent crime and they are mocked for their local songs. While on the topic of strange customs, In Z’mer it is a crime to harm or kill a scorpion (or scorpion person). This is a crime punishable by death. Most executions are carried out by simply taking the offender out into the desert and chaining them to a large stone until they succumb to heat-stroke, dehydration or wandering predators.
There was a time Z’mer was controlled by humans descended from the survivors of the mythical city of “Henderson” but there came a time when demonic forces threatened to bury the city forever and wipe them out. Broken and practically helpless, they were forced to call on a small tribe of nomadic Scorpion people for aid. In exchange for their much needed assistance, the ancestors of Z’mer’s human population agreed to give the Scorpions kingship over Henderson on the condition that the king would have to answer to a parliament of elected officials. It has been that way ever since.
Since Bandito Arms has taken to using Z’mer to aid in the illegal manufacture and distribution of mega-damage weaponry, it has started to rake in money hand over fist and its people have never been happier or more content.
R.C.C.: Scorpion Person.
O.C.C.: Professional Gambler (6th).
Alignment: Unprincipled (Selfish).
Disposition: Self-absorbed but honorable and well-meaning. Something of a narcissist, King Kowa prides himself on his victories and quickly forgets his losses. Those who address his short-comings often find they cannot hold his attention. Those who conduct themselves disrespectfully or otherwise anger him quickly find that he can be every bit as ruthless in dispensing punishment as his father was.
Description: King Kowa is a benevolent but somewhat selfish and apathetic ruler. Inheriting his throne from his father, who in turn inherited it from his father before him, King Kowa understands all too well that he is little more than a figurehead and entirely at the mercy of the deliberative. Something he accepts is probably for the best.
King Kowa is a self-admitted gambling enthusiast (addict). He loves high risk and is always excited by the prospect of high stake games, politics and military operations. In fact, if there is no risk he rarely stirs from his lethargy. However, once so inspired his attitude and demeanor quickly shifts to that of a passionate man with childlike enthusiasm. Despite his predilection for high risk tactics over taking a sure thing, King Kowa is a skilled tactician and gamer. He prefers games with physical pieces (board games, tactical miniature games, chess, etc.) over electronic games (although he is quite skilled in a number of those too). He is also a massive fan of card tricks, stage magic and illusion (real magic bores him) and of course, gambling in all its many forms. Note: Although a notorious gambler, King Kowa is quite intelligent and experienced at spotting con-men. He will not accept any wager that does not have at least a modicum of success.
Orientation and Disposition: Rigid and Orderly.
Size: Established City.
Weapons and Armor: Good. Up to 60% of the populace owns an S.D.C. firearm, 10% own Mega-Damage weapons and 3% own homespun M.D.C. armor (40 M.D.C.). Bullets are plentiful and can be made in town. Private owners of Mega-Damage weaponry typically have 1D4+1 E-clips. Military personnel and Law Enforcement are assigned 7 E-Clips each and Bandito Branaghan Armor (75 M.D.C.; + 28 with the overcoat). Additional Bandito Weaponry is available for military and law enforcement as needed.
Medicine: Superior. A small hospital with ALL the basics, 20 private rooms are available, plus six wards each can accommodate an additional 20 patients comfortably, twice that in an emergency, 6 ambulances are available and always on standby within the facility. There is one Chief of Staff (11th level Body Fixer), one professional Head of Cybernetic Medicine (6th level Cyber Doc), seven 7th level Body Fixers and the equivalent of 16 nurses/paramedics (+ 15%). Not to mention one or two dozen midwives with the Holistic medicine skill (+ 15%) and two small private clinics each manned by a 5th level Body Fixer.
Agriculture and Natural Resources: Good. Although in an arid region, Z’mer’s close proximity to a freshwater river and their hydroponics program is enviable. Its people are well-fed and there is sufficient storage for up to six months of lockdown if so required.
Real Estate/Land: Location, Location, Location. Z’mer is isolated in a remote region of desert in the New West by way of a large fresh water river. Furthermore, as most of the city is in an expansive underground complex and cavern system it is safe from most form of attacks and can be difficult to spot from the air at times.
Vehicles and Fuel: Very Basic. The city has a few good strong riding horses and cultivates domesticated giant scorpions for heavy labor. Being mostly underground the majorly of its transportation needs are met by a rather primitive (but effective) 20th century public rail and bus system. A few locals make a living on the river as fishermen. So the city has a few simple row boats, sail barges and other modest fishing vessels. However, the city’s fuel supply is less than remarkable (one of the reasons they needed to reach out to Bandito for assistance) and they never have more than one month worth of fuel in storage at a time. The city is currently attempting to repair and safely replace a number of Pre-Rifts reactors but has been unable to determine a method of safely doing so.
Administration and Social Structure: Strong Structure. Puppet King, controlled by a deliberative of elected officials. Z’mer is controlled a democratic government with its many major decisions voted on. The King is little more than a figurehead and although his vote carries more than thrice the weight of any other single voter, he is so drastic outnumbered by human politicians that oppose him that his will and edicts are often inconsequential.
Alignment: Anarchist (Formerly Anarchist & Unprincipled).
Magic: Good Knowledge. Most everybody in the city knows magic is real and that it is a “resource” that can be used for good or evil, to destroy to build. Most do not fear it, but respect it as a formidable and dangerous power. The town has three Scorpion Person Shaman that are held in high regard and serve as the cities bulwark against supernatural threats (as has been the tradition for hundreds of years).
Racial Tolerance: Disproving and Suspicious. Although humanity outnumber the Scorpion People of the Z’mer Fortress City and are legally their equals in every way, they are very much subordinate to their demands. This is because there is a long standing tradition of debt and obligation that permeates the culture. A third race exists within Z’mer, the Shale Bogs who are an entirely repressed people with no rights that serve as the dedicated slaves of the Scorpion People. Although they are not treated abominably, they are an oppressed people, an overwhelming minority and their social situation and status is unlikely to change anytime in the near future. Other D-Bees and Monsters are met with resentment and territorial displays from the Scorpion People locals intended to make them feel unwelcome or drive them off. This is a sentiment shared by the local human populace who have grown up hearing the horror stories of the demons and other terrible alien monsters that almost destroyed their ancestors.
Trade: Trade Center. The city is prosperous and serves as a trade hub for Bandito Armaments in the New West and throughout North America thanks to its close proximity to a large river. Although they do not invite visitors into the fortress city proper (at least not often) there is a large bustling shanty town that is springing up on the surface near the entry where trade abounds. Officially, Z’mer is not associated with this activity and several feigned attempts to stamp-out the Black Market are carried out routinely to help keep up appearances. Of course, the perpetrators always get off with a slap on the wrist, manage to evade capture or slip through the cracks in the legal system.
Threats: Relatively Safe. Being mostly underground and heavily fortified by the militant Scorpion People, Z’mer has not known true hardship for some years. Such is their territoriality, that even the local river monsters know better than to venture into the waters near Z’mer as they will be hunted and skinned for their hides. Its biggest challenges have been financial in nature but their unofficial alliance and dealing with Bandito Arms has put those concerns to rest. At least for now.
Skill level and Professionals: 46 points remaining for Gifted Individuals.
The Community Overall: Skilled. Educated; half are laborers, a third have some degree of specialized training and skill and the rest are skilled professionals (doctors, scholars, etc.). On average 24% of all the people in Z’mer are literate. This has drastically declined in recent years as people have lost interest in the past and conventional education. The oral traditions of the Scorpion People are very likely to blame as they are more engaging to the children. However, they teach little in regard to literacy or mathematics and serve as little more than entertainment in the modern world. Most Doctors and Scholars have taken to using voice operated audiobooks, tablets and computers, thereby removing much of a need for reading.
Shelter: Fortified; 79% of the buildings have an A.R. of 15 and 6,000 S.D.C. while 21% of the buildings have 300 M.D.C. There is one major community building (500 M.D.C.) that has been refitted as King Kowa’s palace and four concealed bunkers (600 M.D.C. each). The outer wall has 20 M.D.C. for every 20 feet (1.9m) and is fortifying the ground entrances to the Fortress City. Along the wall there is 4 Mega-Steel watchtowers (1,900 M.D.C. each) that are manned at all times. Beyond the city’s entry point surrounding the topside market area are minor mega-damage fortifications (sandbags, fences, mounds, etc.) allowing small squads of men to tactically defend the civilians if needed.
Security and Fighting Force: Small Mechanized Army. Z’mer’s army although relatively small is incredibly skilled. The Scorpion People are fearless warriors and magicians who religiously protect their territory. Furthermore, they have adopted Pre-Rifts technology recovered from the city and have been trained in its use for decades. Z’mer relies heavily on intelligence, ambush tactics, pits and sudden strikes. They are inexperienced in naval battle which puts them at a disadvantage as they are on a river, but skilled never the less. The hybridization of the barbaric warrior culture of the Scorpion People and the high technology of the humans has been incredibly symbiotic over the years. Many of Z’mer’s human military are so tough that they can endure the blistering heats of the desert almost as long as the Scorpion People themselves and the Scorpion People have become much more skilled pilots and more tactically minded. Although it makes a weak offensive army (something of a sore point with King Kowa) it is an impressive fighting force and if their military numbers were to increase they may be able to rival (or perhaps even conquer) other nearby settlements. However, they currently lack the manpower required to hold more territory without opening themselves to attack from the sea or air, areas of defense that their military leaders are already uneasy about.
Power/Energy: Excellent, Mixed. Although Z’mer once had a functioning nuclear power plant that ran the city’s automated functions it failed in 102 P.A. and has required repair and replacement ever since (going on 8 years). This is largely what facilitated the treaty with Bandito Armaments as Z’mer was unable to acquire the uranium it needed to get the fortress city back to running at 100% capacity. However, Bandito’s representatives have gone to great lengths to underplay the availability of their supply and only provide the city with limited supplies to keep the city under their thumb. More complicated is that Z’mer technicians are no longer knowledgeable or skilled enough to know how to safely replace such a large reactor without risking a thermonuclear meltdown that could destroy much of the underground city and render it uninhabitable.
Special Features: Advanced Hydroponics Plant, Harbor (6 peers), Pre-Rifts Ammunition Manufacturing Plant (can mass produce BigBore rounds, ramjet rounds, light grenades and mini-missiles although it lacks the materials for the latter), Pre-Rifts Underground Complex and Alliance with Bandito Armaments.
Notable NPC Residents
Z’mer is the home town of Jonathan Rhodes and the current home of his blind mother Helen Rhodes.