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Campaign Setting 

New Philadelphia embodies America's maverick spirit more than any other locale, on Earth or Mars. "Exploration" and "adventure" are more than buzzwords here even after fifty years of colonization. It is manifest destiny on an interplanetary scale. Take the excitement of the New World and The Wild West and magnify it a hundred times over and you'll get a fraction of what it's like here. The frontier mentality, where self-reliance and freedom are cherished above all else, permeates the city's architecture, industry, culture, and people.

The many domes, refered to en masse as "The Dome" or "Glitter Dome", are the first site you'll take in as your shuttle-craft approaches Shriver Spaceport. Often called "The First Wonder of Mars" the domes are truly a marvel of space-age engineering and a testament to R. Buckminster Fuller's architectural genius. The modular constructs cover as much space as the entire five burroughs of New York City and reach miles into the air. The transparency of the dome is repeated in the many bahaus inspired skyscrapers inside. Christopher Morley, a famous Philadelphia writer of the early 1900s. "We have a lust for sun and air." It seems the city fathers of New Philadelphia took these words to heart as well.

Color is richer on Mars. Watching the bone-chilling blue sunsets cover the red dunes from the top of the Timely Tower, the heighest point in the city, is an extraordinary thing to behold. New Philadelphia earns its nickname, "The Painted City", just as much for these beautiful vistas as the countless murals that decorate the city.

There is a tangible push/pull between the past and the future in New Philiadelphia. Despite it's obvious past achievements, not the least of which is being the first Martian colony, it is still very much fixated on cutting edge sciences and technologies that herald the future. The first hovercar was produced in New Philadelphia's "Chrome District" which, unlike Detroit, is still economically strong and leading the way in automotive production on Mars. The fact that these state-of-the-art personal flying machines are still produced with fins, audacious hood ornaments, and conspicious amounts of, yes, chrome, is just one example of this particular dichotomy. Another example is the recent re-emergence of giant prop advertising in the style of 1960s Times Square but utilizing the latest digital technologies.

As famous as the city is for its hovercars it is also reknown for its mass transit options. Spectrum is the overall name given to the public transit system & port authority in New Philadelphia. It is serviced by trains, buses, and even gondolas for the canals. The Rainbow line circles the city in concentric rings while various lines - ROYGBIV - form linear spokes to this hub. The lottery commission holds a special sweepstakes event each year on St. Patrick's Day called "pot of gold." A different station is designated each year to hold the event and is called "the end of the rainbow."

Like any great city, New Philidelphia has several prominent neighborhoods, each with their own charms. There is of course, historic Old Town with its numerous landmarks, like The New Liberty Bell and initial habitats that housed the First Flight and their support staff. You can either take one of the many scheduled tours of the area or be adventurous and strike out on your own in the spirit of this great city. The sites are wonderfully annotated and many kiosks contain the same information the tour guides will offer you. Better yet, find one of the few residents of the area and get the history from someone he saw it happen! Maybe they'll even treat you to a tripple-decker "Philly Cone" from an ice-cream truck, one of the few vehicles along with utility vans that still use the roads.

The next stop for any serious shopper will probably be the Triangle Market, or simply "the Triangle" as the natives call it. This boutique and bohemian heaven is home to the latest trends in Martian pop and high culture. There are more contemporary art galleries and haute culture shops per square foot here than anywhere else on Mars.

Once you're done buying the latest DKNP or taking in the latest show of Brit ex-pat artists at "Room" you'll want to have a meal at one of the three surrounding neighborhoods. You can plan your next steps over a ball of pho in Matchstick City, home to a large pan-asian community. Authorities suggest that arson and monster attacks are on a downward spiral in recent years. From there you may decide to have your palm read in La Belle Rogue, New Philidelphia's so-called French quarter which is also home to many african-americans. Maybe your fortune teller will direct you to risk you fortunes in one of the many casinos in nearby Little Havana. Just be sure not to mention "Castro" and you'll get along famously with many of the Cuban residents there.

Despite "Quality of Life" laws and decreasing crime statistics you'll still probably want to avoid The Yard on the periphery of Old Town. The name stems from two distinct phases the area went through over the last fifty years or so. To begin with it was a dockyard for ships in the 50s. It soon fell into disuse as the City designed a much larger port, Atlas Bay - the "Ellis Island of Mars", that is still in use today. By the 70s massive beautification attempts were made in the area turning it into community gardens. Unfortunately by the late 80s it became a crime center as government moved further and further away from The Great Society programs designed to ease tensions for the poor that largely make up the area.

Before you leave make sure you stop in one of the many automats that adorn the city. While you're enjoying your self-service dining experience take a look at the jukebox. Nine times out of ten you'll find Chet Baker one the menu. It seems, just as San Fransico has Tony Bennet, New Orleans has Harry Connick Jr. and New York has Sinatra, New Philadelphia claims the trumpeter and crooner as their own. Play "Moon and Sand", Baker's musical love letter to his time here and you'll feel the same way.

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© 2002 Daniel Harvey et al