Monday, June 16, 2014

Secret City


An email from a friend yesterday on everybody's favorite holiday destination of Zheleznorgorsk (it's flag is pictured above), reminded me that secret cities aren't just for hidden cultures in comic books.

Zheleznorgorsk used to be called Krasnoyarsk-26 (like all Soviet secret cities, it was designated by a post office box). This town made produced weapons-grade plutonium. All the Soviet "closed cities" were doing secret military (mostly nuclear) or space stuff. The cities didn't appear on maps and could only be accessed by special permit.

This sort of thing just didn't go on in the USSR; Oak Ridge TN was similar deal in the U.S. during the days of the Manhattan Project.

The gaming value of a secret society out to be obvious. Beyond the spy/espionage genre, what better place for a zombie outbreak to start or a legion of Soviet Man-Apes to be based? Of course, if none of that is fantastic enough for your setting, Brigadoon (or Gemelshausen)--or it's gore-splattered redneck counterpart--is just another sort of secret city

6 comments:

John Till said...

Strangely enough, this weekend I was researching "sealed cities" on Tekumel. Most of the empires have at least one. These are a related concept, cities that are closed to outsiders for any number of reasons. Those include ethnic differences from the majority culture, religious reasons (for instance Hmakuyal, a Tsolyani city devoted to the mysteries of Lord Ksarul, located in the crater of a (hopefully dormant or extinct) volcano, and/or the desire to hide something beneath it. I suppose Lost World cities would be another kind: cities concealed not by a modern state, but by an ancient one, hidden away but enduring with its old traditions and peoples. These secret/sealed cities are rich vein for gamers to mine.

garrisonjames said...

Nice to see a mention of Gemelshausen as it is very pertinent to Wermspittle...

Tim Shorts said...

I've heard of these, but never did any reading about them. Might have to now.

Mike David Jr. said...

Great post. A great exploration of this idea was Warren Ellis' Science City Zero from Planetary #8. A nice little stepping stone for a supernormal secret history or rational for a retro-apocalypse Mutant Future game.

Justin S. Davis said...

In my home Mutant Future campaign, I have a "secret city" of my own with which you may be familiar.

Yep, I've turned Katy into an invisible, domed haven that doesn't appear on any maps.

Trey said...

@Mike - O yeah. I had forgotten the one in Planetary.

@Justin - From having a scale model of the Forbidden City to being a Forbidden City!