Like Convergence of old, a protective barrier, known as the Dome, protects the whole of the city, as well as some of the nearby area, from magical attack and helps shield it from detection. Within this dome, there are three layers to the city, each with its own culture, sometimes even with separate laws. It has been hundreds of years since Fornax landed on planet Juniper, and the construction of New Convergence began. The city is, by now, fully built, and in many places, quite in need of repair from various calamities, fires, and just general disrepair.
THE DEPTHS: Although it sounds ominous, the depths are just the term for the ground area at the bottom of the city. Much of this area is physically beneath the city, so it often does not get as much sunlight, except in the morning and deep evening. The perimeter, which gets the most light, tends to have large, strong trees, with roots that go down deep enough to pull at the groundwater below. This vast forest, known as the Endless Forest, stretches out in every direction, and contains...well...nobody really knows. Except that it's definitely full of danger, and those who stray too far from the city have a lower chance of ever finding their way back.
However, underneath the city, where there is less light, the plants become stranger. Mushrooms grow, as well as odd grasses. The occasional tree springs up, but it is not fed by sunlight so much as Vertegral Radiation, also known as Ve Radiation, the natural radiation of the planet. Ve Radiation breaks down many types of technology over time. The Well is drawn up from deep groundwater by the Stalk, the central pillar of Fornax. Although small, it is the only nearby body of water, and thus considered an incredibly precious commodity, as rain on Juniper tends to soak deep into the porous ground.
An incredible variety of interesting plants and animals can be found in the Depths, some medicinal, some poisonous, some dangerous, some quite tame. All of these are considered to be the property of the Thorns, those who control the Depths. Some sections of the Depths have been cleared away for small farms, but other sections are used for hunting and gathering. There's even an amount of fishing at the Well.
THE TEAR: Originally called "Mid-tier", many local residents now simply call the middle section of New Convergence "The Tear", due to the many sorrows of the area. Lifted above the Depths on a thick metal base, the Tear is where the poorest and often most desperate members of New Convergence live. The tear is incredibly water-poor. It does not have the Well, like the Depths, nor does it, being underneath the Reach, get much rain or have the elevation needed to allow technology to pull water from ambient moisture in the air. Water is a huge commodity in the Tear.
However, the Tear has a few things going for it. For one, it is virtually radiation-free. This means anyone can visit here without fear of illness. Because of this, it has become the main center of commerce for all of New Convergence. Food from the Depths is brought here for de-radiation processing, ships dock here because there is far less oversight on their cargo than there would be if they docked in the Reach, and because they don't want to have to pay for Antirads the way they would elsewhere. The TEAR is largely lawless, with a great deal of crime, but is also known for its hip cafes and art scene. The TEAR is the place to be for entertainment - legitimate or where darker tastes are concerned.
There are various districts within the Tear, including Upmarket, the Red Zone, and Dimetown. Upmarket is a floating pier, hovering above the Red Zone, for which vendors can buy cheap weekly permits to sell cooked food in stalls. It's THE place for street food, even if it's not technically on the street. You can even bring your own food and have it cooked while you watch, which is great for people renting rooms without kitchens. The Red Zone is a district devoted largely to sexual exploits, catering to a number of tastes and pocketbooks. Dimetown is the poorest part of the poorest district of New Convergence. Crime is a way of life in Dimetown, so named because the people living there often don't even have a dime to their name. On the other hand, if you need something done, something otherwise illegal or distasteful, or want to find drugs, bootlegged alcohol, or just about anything sketchy, it's a good bet.
THE REACH: Stretching high above the Tear is the Reach, the top platform of New Convergence. It is the most advanced and, truthfully, wealthy section of the city. However, it is also the most law-abiding. Controlled largely by ZetaCorp (also known lovingly as simply "The Corporation") and its many sub-entities, citizens of the Reach must sign a contract to abide the laws of ZetaCorp in order to live there, though visiting permits are cheap and available. And, of course, ships that dock there must do the same, meaning that ZetaCorp will often seize shipments claiming that they are "illegal" and then re-sell them for pure profit. Because of this, merchant ships have long since stopped docking at the Reach, to the point all of the docks save for the ship construction dock have been re-purposed for other projects.
And there are many projects in the Reach. ZetaCorp designs most of the technology which powers the wonders of New Convergence. The Reach contains the only hospital of note. Their laboratories create augmentations and robotic wares. They hold the patent on important formulas, such as the AntiRads which are produced in the factories of the Tear. Ships and vehicles are built here. And they control the voluntary servitude process and population, through the process of Memory Reduction, as well as much, much more.
The buildings of the Reach are generally clean and well-lit due to the capture of Xi Radiation which exists in the atmosphere at this level and can be mixed with a special formula known only to ZetaCorp. Water is captured from rain, or simply from the atmosphere, or purchased from others. Some amount of food product is grown in special tanks by ZetaCorp, augmented by purchases from other areas. Xi Radiation, like Vertegral Radiation, can be dangerous before processing. Citizens of the Reach receive free Xi Radiation treatments with their citizenship, and visitors receive temporary treatments with their passes, set to expire about the time their pass expires.
Planet Juniper was selected by Fornax Station as "the closest habitat to specifications" within the range it could reach after the bulk of its fuel was dumped. The specifications, of course, were that the planet be as close to Earth as possible. This means that it is a highly livable environment, with breathable air in most sections of the planet. However, it still isn't the most optimal place.
THE JUNIPERIAN SYSTEM: Juniper has one host star, which is a K-type star, also known as an orange dwarf (often simply called the sun). Such stars are smaller and appear more oreange than Earth's G-type yellow dwarf, providing slightly less intense light. Vampires do not have anything to fear from the light of Juniper's sun unless they are in space, and then they should use protection. It is the third planet in a solar system of five planets, and has two moons. None of the nearby planets are known to be inhabited by other lifeforms besides those from Juniper. Some of them contain mining colonies. Days on Juniper last 24 hours, and years contain approximately 365 days.
LIFE BEFORE FORNAX LANDED: Before the Fornax landed, civilized life did exist on planet Juniper. However, all major civilizations were found to be in ruin, with only small pockets, here and there, of people who had regressed to pre-industrial technology. Some of these people were humanoid, some were not. Ruined cities provide a great place to scavenge only for the brave due to the creatures living there, however must be approached on foot due to Ve Radiation interfering with the landing system of ships. Because some of the pre-industrial people are not peaceful, and because occasionally they too will appropriate items found in the old, ruined cities, such as weapons, exploration of Juniper can be difficult for all but the most intrepid. Difficult, but often quite rewarding.
The planet contains many plants and animals, and a variety of biomes, ecosystems, and weather patterns. It is unknown what destroyed civilization, though many of the people tell of sickness and war on a large scale, and there is some theory that the ambient radiation bands on the planet may have been caused in part by weapon discharge.
Only rarely do the people of Juniper actually make it to New Convergence. The Endless Forest is too vast and...endless to easily traverse. Portals are occasionally established to settlements, however, but one must initially travel to a settlement in order to establish them.
WATER: Water does exist on Juniper; however the Fornax did not land near any major bodies of water. There is rain, though, and large aquifers below the porous surface can store a decent amount of water, allowing for deep-rooted trees. Rain is occasional, though there are dry seasons which can make it difficult for larger lifeforms that do not know how to find water. One interesting aspect of the rain is that it comes in various colors, usually due to the radiation and chemical composition of the atmosphere. Most rain water must be cleaned before it can be consumed, but is not known to be toxic to the skin. Usually. Water in the depths is drawn from the Well, the largest body of water in the area. The Well is water drawn up from an underground aquifer which is purified by the Stalk, the central support beam of Fornax. Rainwater or moisture collection is the most popular water source in the Reach. A little of both tends to be sold to the Tear, though they also are large consumers of ice mined on several nearby asteroids.
ENERGY: Most of the power for the city is made by ZetaCorp. Their Stalk Rings, which hover high above the Reach at the very uppermost edge of the Dome, collect Xi Radiation which can then be added to a proprietary liquid blend known as Substrate, to create super-efficient fuel, which is used to power the Reach, the Tear, and the Stalk to bring up water for the Well. However, people do occasionally come up with other forms of energy. Windmills are popular in the Tear, due to the fact that the two layers of city platforms create a sort of wind tunnel. And even good old-fashioned coal is used here and there when nothing else is available.
LANGUAGES: Because New Convergence was supposed to be a seed from which humanity could spread out to the chosen planet, the languages of New Convergence are the languages of Earth. The main language is English, mostly because Starry spent a very large amount of time studying the United States, since in many of her models, the USA precipitated the downfall of the Earth. (She also, notably, was a huge fangirl of American pop culture.) The language of the people of Juniper, Juniperian, is also spoken. Many people simply buy translation devices that can be worn as lapel pins which have a small screen that scrolls the translation as they speak, or just use their phones as translation devices. Only Earth languages that are modern and Juniperan are translated this way.
COMMUNICATION: Cell phones are popular in New Convergence. The ones made by ZetaCorp are cheap, but for those who do not trust ZetaCorp, black market phones can be bought at a premium. However, ZetaCorp controls all of the cell towers. There is no cell service outside of New Convergence. The internet of New Convergence, however, is a sprawling and confusing, ever-changing entity. It's known as the zignet, named after Starry's close friend, the Ancient Engineer known as "Zig". It is not really controlled by anyone, and anyone can connect to zignet if they have the right equipment. There are a few radio and television stations in the city.
COMMERCE: Currency was originally a sticky idea. No faction wanted to use money issued by another faction, so the city largely ran on barter at first. However, at a consortium of faction leaders about one hundred years in, many decisions were made about how the city would be run going forward. One of these was to set an initial digital currency based on blockchain technology, the original offering of which was based on assets controlled by each faction. Even the relatively non-technological Thorns received a portion of currency in return for providing water and food. This currency, known as Digital Credits, or just 'credits', continues to be decentralized distribution, residing on the one entity controlled completely by no faction -- the zignet. One credit equals one gallon of water, one dose of Antirad, or approximately one dollar. Credits can be tied to your digital identity (or multiple anonymous identities) on zignet, and transferred using your phone or a pay station. However, you can also convert credits into physical money at a conversion station, which come out as square plastic chips with a computer chip inside, that look approximately like poker chips.
FOOD: Food comes from a variety of places. The best food (nutrition-wise) is made by the Thorns in the Depths, and the best food (taste-wise) comes from the Tear. However all food tends to need to go through an antiradiation process. This is usually done before market, however most people with means have an antirad microwave, which will do basically the same thing. Formafood is a type of synthetic foodstuff made by ZetaCorp. Their slogan is, "Incredible! It's edible!" One of the largest reasons for people to leave the Reach and "head below" is to experience non-bland food.
GENDER: Gender can be a little strange in New Convergence. A phenomenon known as "Xya" (pronounced Zee-ya) appeared very early in the population of New Convergence. Some creatures, no matter the race, present with non-binary genders. Some may have both genders, or no gender. Some can switch their gender at will, or their gender switches under certain conditions, such as moonlight or cold water. Some people's gender just switches randomly. Some of the Xya use the pronouns "zie" for he/she and "zir" for his/hers. Others do not. It's really just their personal preference. (Author's note: We want our players to have fun expressing whatever gender(s) interest you.)
TRAVEL:Travel depends on where in the city you are. In the Depths, most travel is done on foot, though occasionally there are mount animals such as horses. In the Tear, bicycles are popular, as is the free autobus. In the Reach, there is a maglev train. However, most distance travel is done using portals, both to move between tiers of the city, and to travel elsewhere on Juniper. There are also ships, usually mining or harvesting ships, which travel to nearby planets and asteroids.
POLICE: There are no police in New Convergence. Each faction enforces the laws for its area or purview. However, ZetaCorp does have a security presence, known as the ZetaCorp Enforcement Node, aka ZEN. ZEN enforces law in the Reach alone.
WEAPONS: Protecting yourself in New Convergence is important. In the Depths, weapons are generally made by blacksmiths or fletchers. In the Tear, people often build weapons out of whatever is handy, and there is a healthy black market for guns. Weapons are rare in the Reach, though ZEN agents notably carry shock batons and laser pistols. Players may start out with one pre-approved weapon.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is there a masquerade in New Convergence? Do supernaturals have to hide? There are no laws requiring supernaturals to hide their true nature. However, some may do so simply because their race may be hunted or endangered. Openly displaying their race may draw too much attention. Not everybody may be okay with every race. For instance, some people may wish to hunt demons. If you are a demon, therefore, hiding your identity might be prudent. Other races, such as vampires, have such a long history of secrecy (and for good reason), that they generally do not make their race very public. So, while there is no express law, you must choose if your character wishes to expose themselves to that danger, and if they do, must accept the consequences of your decision. (However, and this is vital: We do ask that you be careful about exposing the races of others, IC, if you know their race. Making public another character's race against their will fundamentally changes what they are playing, so make sure you've talked that out with the other player beforehand. Make sure you reliably know what they are, otherwise this dips deeply into metagaming and can ruin the RP experience for others.)