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Hᴇx - ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴏᴅ ᴍᴀᴄʜɪɴᴇ ([personal profile] modmachine) wrote2015-07-29 01:04 am


As its name implies, Hex is a hexagonal city, divided into six roughly equal districts each containing many smaller neighborhoods. The outermost part of the city is surrounded by a high wall, tall enough to make a mark on the skyline in most districts. Inside, the districts are mostly divided organically based on greenspace and the massive freeway that almost splits the city in two (running from the center of the residential district north into the downtown). In the center, where the districts can loosely be said to meet, is a massive greenbelt surrounding the government buildings.

And Infrastructure is everywhere. Ticking along in the wall, churning smoke into the sky in the sixth, bubbling along the waterfront - the God-Machine has a chokehold on the city. Hardly anything happens out of the ordinary that isn’t noted by some angel watching from a rooftop, or walking through the streets in a human disguise. Fortunately, most of these are things that the God-Machine doesn’t feel the need to act upon. Everything in the city runs smoothly.

As a whole, Hex contains the full space of a major metropolitan area, and is somewhat inspired by the San Francisco Bay, though with a bit different climate. The weather is on the hot end of moderate, with frequent evening storms in the summer and snow in the winter being a rare treat. The sky, both inside and outside the wall, seems very normal, though perhaps a little bit purple and muggy if you were to compare it directly with Earth’s. The technology level is approximately the same as modern Earth. In-game, the current season is late summer; the worst of the heat has passed, but it hasn’t cooled off enough yet to really be considered autumn. Like Earth, it has a single sun and moon, though the moon’s phase is much quicker to change; it takes only about a week and an half to go from full moon to full moon.

Surrounding Hex is the Wall, approximately ten stories tall and built mainly of stone. To the locals, the wall is mostly a curiosity, a relic of the city that Hex was in the distant-but-not-too-distant past. It’s wide enough on the top that families often go there for picnics, or gradeschool classes for history lessons, turning to look back on the city. The view is incredible, they say, with their faces turned inward.

If you turn around, though, that’s where the truly incredible view begins. Hex is an island - not in the traditional sense, but in that there is simply no land beyond the wall. The sky fades into sunset colors around the edges, with a few lingering clouds that come right up to the base of the wall, swirling with odd colors. If someone was brave enough to rappel down the wall - for there’s nothing and no one stopping them from simply jumping over - they would find nothing but the wall, extending much further down than it appears from the inside, until they reached the clouds. At that point, they wouldn’t find much of anything at all, as the thick gases obscure their vision and eventually suffocate them.

There’s one other thing notable about the wall - the gears. Extensive Infrastructure takes over the entire length, massive metal-and-stone gears visible to stigmatics where everyone else sees merely a flat plain. Most of the time, these gears are virtually motionless, ticking a tooth along perhaps once every three or four hours if you had the patience to watch for that long. Every so often, though, they wind quite quickly, dangerously so for anyone investigating them; woe on anyone caught between the gears when even the largest begins to turn at two or three rotations every ten seconds. Those who spent the time to watch the gears in their slow state will notice, too, that this rapid turning is in the opposite direction from its normal motion.

And when the winding runs out.... That’s when time turns back.

Though the largest in area, the bay district is the smallest in actual land, due to most of it being... Well, the bay. In the northwest corner, bordered by the richest section of the hills on one side and with the downtown slowly leading into it on the other, the defining trait of the bay district is, without a doubt, the water. The borders of the district are, roughly, how close you have to be to smell the salt of it; perhaps six blocks from the shore in any direction, more on windy days and less when the breeze off the water goes completely still.

Most of the district caters to either tourists or the city’s small but bustling fishing community; the two halves are roughly divided into the hills-district-side and the downtown-side, respectively. Rich people with money to spare might have a small sailboat tied up at one of the handful of docks between gorgeous sandy beaches, or up against the cliffs near to the wall (which is much higher above the level of the sea than it is on the land, nearly doubling its usual height and coated in barnacles), but the working boats keep to their side, which is richer in catch anyway, and let the idiot tourists do what they please as long as they don’t litter the water.

A bit east and south of the center of the bay is a huge rocky island, covering in trees. It’s a nature preserve, with only a few people allowed to take carefully-monitored trips there, and almost no tourists. Legally, anyway. More illicitly, and more magically, the island is home to the Goblin Market of the changelings deep within the forest. Anyone wishing to trade in magical goods can come here, and usually find what they need for some strange price, like the memory of their first kiss, or a tattoo of a pig, or three of their own tears in a white rose petal. The variety of goods traded at the market is almost endless - and so, for good reason, it’s a closely kept secret among the changeling community.

It’s likely not surprising, then, that the changelings tend to be more prominent in this district than do other supernaturals, though there are rumours of ancient vampires sleeping below the waves (there are rumours of ancient vampires sleeping almost everywhere in the city, honestly, but there’s some evidence to this one) and prometheans spending a few nights camped along the hills-side beaches. There’s little in the way of visible Infrastructure in this district, but as for Infrastructure that can’t be seen... Well, that patch of the water north of the island doesn’t bubble at night for no reason, does it?

There seem to be only two things in the hills - parks, and rich people’s property. Sometimes, you can’t even tell the two apart, until you come around a bend and a sprawling mansion hogs the view out over the water or the rest of the city. The further back into the hills you get, the more of the city’s old money is nestled away.

And that’s really old money. Though there’s a bit of a problem in finding enough food, the oldest of the vampires of Hex make their homes in the hillside manors, preferably tucked up against the wall (which stays at the same height above the ground, following the contours of the hills no matter how steep) where the sun is at no risk of shining on them long before it sets. Let the youngsters go out into the night to find food; the elders will stay right where they are, and have the food brought to them.

Of course, vampires aren’t the only thing to worry about in the hills district; if you’re a human, they’re probably not even the worst thing. The forested parts of the park that fills the central area of the district holds numerous entrances to the Hedge - or exits, if you’re a True Fae stopping by to pick up an unlucky hiker. Infrastructure along the path confuses the unwary, keeping them away from bustling concrete factories that even those without stigmatic sight couldn’t ignore. An unnatural blight sometimes discharges angry, radioactive beasts into the night.

At least with the vampires, you’ll only have to stay the night. Or, perhaps after the night is over, you won’t want to leave...

There’s only one place in Hex where you can find skyscrapers and one-way streets, and that's the downtown. Busy streets and neon lights are the markers of the district, with more people than is entirely reasonable crammed in between, especially during working hours.

Not all of the district is new and modern; the old part of Hex is here, close to the bay and the wall. Centuries-old buildings sit above a strangely-bustling old system of tunnels, an entire floor of most buildings and sometimes more sunk beneath the street level. Dim tunnels, lit by bits of glass in the pavement and whatever the locals can bring down, are home to all sorts of things, including Infrastructure. Perhaps that's the real reason the street level was raised up; to give the God-Machine somewhere to work in peace while the rest of the downtown grew over it.

Of course, that's not the only Infrastructure downtown; there's almost as much of it in the sky as below the streets. Strange, twisting bridges and nets hang between the skyscrapers, invisible to the eyes of the people below. Angels drift between them on the sea breezes, and below, demons keep a watchful eye on them.

It's not all serious and creepy in the downtown, though. The nightlife is the hub of Sin-Eater culture, as well as the hunting ground for most vampires. There's parties most every night, at some bar or another, and you practically can't turn around in one without running into one form of walking corpse or the other. Death is alive and well in the downtown.

The city’s breadbasket, and the largest district aside from the bay. It’s somehow unclear how the district produces enough food to feed the entire city, even when many of the houses in the hills have little garden squares of their own and most apartments have rooftop community gardens. Much of the district is slightly hilly, with rolling fields of wheat or pasture for free-ranging herds of cattle and sheep. There’s a few patches of wild brush and even fewer patches of forest, but for the most part, it’s fields as far as the eye can see.

The farms are, for the most part, more peaceful than other areas if the city, or so the farmfolk will tell you. They get the occasional freak wandering around, that’s all. They take care of it. Can’t have those things off and eating the cattle before they’re ready for market. A man’ll lose his livelihood if he doesn’t take care of the freaks.

Though not as organized as they might be in the rest of the city, the farmlands boost a more sizable Hunter population than most other districts. You look out for yourself and the guy down the road, and maybe your sister’s old boyfriend, and so on. The rural hunters tend to work alone, knowing only one or two others in the business, but even alone, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Of course, ultimately, that means a lot of dead farmers - no wonder so many fields rotate between being reclaimed by nature and being freshly tilled.

Supernaturals tend to avoid the farmlands, for the most part. Those who hang out in any kind of social group, like vampires or changelings, know to be careful if they do have to go out there, because the superstitions of farmfolk aren’t repeated through the generations for no reason. A few werewolves make residence in the district, and lots of demons find it a good place to hide, for a lifetime or two - but that’s about all you’ll find, unless a Promethean wanders through, and many of those, ultimately, find their quests come to an end on a pitchfork.

The residential district is every suburbia ever known, shading from the poor up against the sixth district to the richer up against the farms, from crowded apartment complexes to copy-paste houses on cul-de-sacs to old-fashioned houses with arched paths and ivy-climbed fences. Most families live either here or in the sixth district, and virtually everyone in the latter dreams of moving. It’s the ideal place to raise your kids, with the best schools, the safest neighborhoods, and all the shopping you could need close at hand.

Everything’s settled, in the residential district. Even the Infrastructure, it seems, has relaxed into middle age and mellowed; the gears grind a little more slowly here than in other districts, and new Infrastructure is much rarer. Not that that means the district is completely sedate, even by God-Machine standards. The higher population makes it the home ground of many angels with missions that involve humanity, and where there’s that many angels, some of them are going to Fall. Demons with teenage Covers are especially common here.

Aside from that, there’s a little bit of everything in the residential district - but as you might expect from the part of town that’s also sometimes called the family district, it’s Beasts that really make themselves known here. Though not unheard-of in the rest of the city, it’s really only the supernaturals here who have to put up with their “cousins” nosing into their business. Some take kindly to it, more don’t, but either way the result is the same; the supernaturals of the residential district know the most about other kinds of supernaturals. If a mage needs freedom from a fairy curse, or a Sin-Eater runs into a kind of spirit they don’t understand, they come here.

Of course, the influence of the Beasts isn’t always so helpful. Almost all the district has nightmares more regularly than the average, and they’re jumpy about it. Even the children are a little bit scared - of what, they’re not sure, but disturbing the peace will definitely bring it down on them. Only a fool disturbs the Beast in the place that it calls home, after all, a state of affairs that suits the God-Machine just fine.

The sixth district is... Well, the residents refuse to call it the slums, mostly out of pride. Hence, it’s usually just called “the sixth,” “the other district,” or “the last district.” A former industrial district, as much of it is train tracks or roads as buildings, though strangely the roads always seem to loop around on themselves, and the tracks all lead up to wall-off or collapsed tunnels instead of truly leaving the city. It gets a little cleaner in the south, where it butts up against the residential district, but that’s about it.

Everything in the sixth is a little bit sketchy; the food’s a little closer to going bad, and you can pretty much only get it from gas stations and wedged-between-apartments minimarts with odd, imported labels on half their products. Everything’s a little dirtier than in the other districts, or a lot dirtier. The air conditioning in most buildings is fussy, and the rare times that it snows, the plows never seem to come into the sixth.

And the worst of the Infrastructure is here. Not the largest (that’s the wall) or the most important (no one is quite sure there that is, not even the angels), but the worst. The stuff that leaks Aether into the ground, the air, the water; the nails-on-metal screaming of machinery that keeps you up at night. Sometimes, more organic screams that keep you up at night.

It’s no wonder then, why the highest collective population of supernaturals is here; sure, the vampires have their manors up in the hills, the changelings their markets on the island, but in terms of sheer numbers, the supernaturals are in the sixth more than anywhere else. No wonder few people want to live here; everyone has a few things they’ve seen and put behind them, in this city, but in the sixth, it’s harder than anywhere else to leave what you know behind.

Not quite a district in its own right, the central greenbelt and buildings house the city’s government (mostly representational) and university campus. The greenbelt plays host to most of the holiday festivals and parades throughout the year; the mundane in the daylight, and the less so in the night, under put-out streetlights.

No one really lives in the central district, except two small groups - college students, living on the university campus almost year-round, and the homeless who camp in the greenbelt with even more regularity. The tent city tucked into the western edge of the park system is home to a lot of people who just don’t quite fit into society, and it’s a hub for supernaturals the way the government buildings are for the human residents. Prometheans and newly-escaped changelings especially are common, staying here for a while before they move on. The only rule of the camp is that you don’t push people for answers; everyone’s business is their own business.

On campus, Infrastructure is almost deceptively well integrated. Each building has only a little, a few gears in the east wall, strange circuits across the art building windows - but every building has some. There’s not a part of the campus that isn’t touched by the God-Machine, making it an especially dangerous place for demons.