Crime in Night City is rampant, the media and the public are clamoring for their government to make them feel safe, to punish the wicked, to make the streets safe to walk again. The Combat Zone is a growing tumor of violence and anarchy. Growing corruption in the highest levels of the government in Night City is threatening to be exposed. With the Mayor caught in a sex scandal with a 17 year old girl, and the Governor of Northern California so tied to the italian crime families, something had to be done. The mayors office and the governors committee met in a secret cabal to determine how to best deal with the problem of the Combat Zone, and how to best steer public interest away from their personal misadventures. The solution they devised was so diabolical, so ingenious, and so utter insane, it would change the face of Night City forever. They would declare open war on their own streets, all in the name of justice.
(The following describes an event of enormous magnitude in Night City, it is meant as an adventure hook for GM's to insert their group at any point, on any side. I am not writing an adventure, I am telling you the events that take place to allow you to write your own adventure around it. You and your players, if you choose, will be a part of an event in night city that will be talked about for years. While Carnival is written for Night City 2020, it can easily be used in any Cybergeneration or V3 game, or any other near future game with little changes.)
Flyers and Posters begin appearing everywhere in night city, especially near the Combat Zone. Upon them in simple bold text written in english, chinese, spanish, japanese, and russian, is a simple message... "CARNIVAL IS COMING!". The posters and flyers bear the official seal of both the Mayors office and that of the Governor.
Construction begins on a wall around the Combat zone. The wall is built section by section, most of the construction is done at night. Each section of wall consists of a 20'x20' solid plate of steel 8 inches thick brought in by chopper and reinforced with concrete. The sections are topped with video cameras and razorwire. In response to opposition, city hall explains that this wall is the only way to stem the growth of the Combat Zone into the surrounding areas and contain the crime that is spreading outward like a disease. Business owners and families caught on the edge protest actively, afraid of being caught on the wrong side of the growing wall.
Construction of the wall continues. Finished sections of the wall are covered in the posters every night. Street openings are left in the wall every mile, and are left open. However armored security booths are installed, and razor wire topped gates are installed. The ads escalate to television, radio, and advert airships. They still only contain the cryptic message "CARNIVAL IS COMING!"
Overnight all the posters and flyers and other advertisements change. Now a date is added proclaiming that this "Carnival" will begin in 4 weeks. No other information is given, protests over the wall being built around the Combat Zone continue. Both City Hall and the Governors office remain tight lipped about the nature of Carnival.
Construction of the wall is completed. The Combat Zone is now completely sealed off from the city, the only way in or out is through the gates set up every mile around the city. The only response the Government gives to the media and the protesters is that a new policy is about to take place to make the streets far safer for the law abiding citizens of Night City.
The gates are now manned by heavily armed and armored National Guardsmen. No one entering the Zone is stopped, but those leaving are subject to having their identification run against active warrants. Felons are arrested, word spreads quickly. A spokesperson for City Hall breaks in to all Radio and Television broadcasts. With a sober and imposing tone the Mayor and the Governor make the following speech.
This message is repeated 4 times a day on all stations for the next two weeks, local and cable, as well as being continuously run on Media Blimps. Protests explode onto the streets in front of city hall, police stations, and the Governors office from liberal groups. Conservatives on the other hand support the measure, claiming its about time the people got tough on crime. Small skirmishes erupt at the gates and several attempts are made to breach the wall. The National Guard troops are reinforced with tanks, APC, and ACPA, as well as AV's. The troops are given orders to retaliate against all hostiles with deadly force.
Non felons and law abiding citizens of the combat zone are continuously urged to evacuate the Combat Zone, those with felonies are urged to turn themselves in for their own safety before Carnival begins. Bounty Reclamation and Holding points are set up along the inside of the wall. These Reclamation points are essentially heavily armored pods, with a Computer tying them into the FBI database. Manned by two armed guards who will check any bounties ID through visual identification, fingerprinting, and if possible, DNA. All air traffic above the zone is banned with the exceptions of Police, National Guard, and unmanned remote broadcast airships. Even in the sewers the perimeter is maintained by all available Police and National Guard Full Conversions and robohounds. Bounty hunters, mercenaries, and professionals from all over the world descend on Night City in preparation.
0:00:00 hours monday morning the Bounty List is posted and Carnival begins. The Combat Zone is sealed, no one is allowed to exit, though they allow anyone entrance. The city holds its breath, watching the live broadcasts as virtually every media outlet sends in as small unmanned remote controlled broadcast airships as they have access to. Some Media Corps even go so far as to hire teams of solos or contract with bounty hunter teams to document their actions via constant live feed. These teams are outfitted to their hearts desire with the promise that their footage will win them their own "reality" style program. Mercenaries, off duty cops, bounty hunters and even regular citizens pour into the zone.
Total chaos, all hell breaks loose in the Combat Zone. Gunfire, screams, and explosions are constant. Remaining business owners and families barricade themselves in, opening fire without mercy on anyone they perceive as a threat. Bounty Hunters comb the streets, most work with netrunners who can quickly identify anyone they come across as being either wanted or civilian. Other hunters in the Zone have less compunction and simply kill anyone they see, identifying them after they are dead, any without bounties they leave where they lie. It's a true free for all, and the abominations committed on and off camera quickly expose this as being an extremely bad situation. To better defend against the hunters, booster gangs join together for protection. The hard-core denizens of the zone either hole up in defense of their homes or take the fight to the streets. Reports of rape, indiscriminate murder, looting, and all manner of horror come filtering back in through the media.
Things quiet down a bit. Gunfights and explosions still erupt and half the zone is burning or in rubble. Most of the remaining Wanted are well holed up. Food and water are becoming scarce and the electricity has been shut off in most of the Zone. Anyone armed or in a group traveling through the streets faces constant sniper fire and barrages of molotov cocktails. Hunters have to conduct building to building searches, facing heavily fortified and well armed Wanted and citizens alike, dug in hard for the situation. Looters and profiteers prowl the alleys, sneaking through any standing and unoccupied buildings to scavenge what they can. Hundreds of people gather huddled against the inside wall, trying to escape the violence. Heavily armed Guardsmen provide relative safety, opening fire with deadly precision against anyone attempting to breach the wall or committing a violent act within the 50 foot perimeter of the wall. The Bounty holding centers are overflowing, but not as bad as the pods set aside for the dead Wanted, which are replaced via Military AV at a rate of about every 6 hours. It is estimated that over two thirds of the hunters who entered the Zone are now dead or dying. New Hunters still arrive, though the rate of entry has slowed to a trickle.
The combat gang Maelstrom loads up 2 school buses (armored with steel plating welded to the frames) with its lower ranking members. The heavily armed boosters prowl the streets, raping and killing anyone they catch in the open. The buses are immediately picked up by NET 54 media blimps and followed. They catch one of the buses engaging a single man backed up only by an unseen sniper. The solo and his sniper manage to kill 12 of the boosters before the bus and remaining members retreat. Unfortunately the Solo is then seen succumbing to his wounds. Footage of this airs constantly. Slaughterhouse, the rival gang of the Maelstrom, and second largest booster gang in the zone, turns on the lesser gangs it has allied itself with, killing their leaders. Maelstrom matches this move by turning the leaders of the lesser gangs it has allied with in for the bounties. The remaining members of the lesser gangs either join the respective larger gangs, or are turned out on the street.
Maelstrom unleashes their secret weapon, a punknaught they had been constructing for months. The leader had been planning to use it against Slaughterhouse, but an overeager young lieutenant takes it upon himself to gather 25 other members of the gang and uses the punknaught to make a run on the gates. This incident is the only successful breach reported during the entirety of Carnival. The punknaught makes it a total of 2 blocks, when while trying to turn a corner it swings wide and crashes into a building. Police and national guard descend upon the punknaught and its crew like an angry horde. In the ensuing gunfight all the Maelstrom, 10 police officers, 7 guardsmen, and 5 civilians are killed, including a 7 year old child. This is captured and broadcast live via a WNS media blimp.
Public outrage over the punknaught incident erupts into a full scale riot outside city hall. The mayors aid is drug into the streets and beaten to death. The NCPD riot squad, backed by both SWAT and E-SWAT disperse the crowd and in a surprise move arrest the mayor. Watching all this unfold live on, the Governor puts a loaded gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. The federal government steps in, immediately declaring Carnival to be over. The National Guard is reinforced by the red cross and given new orders.. Many civilian doctors and emergency workers mobilize into the zone. Anyone seeking medical aid is seen to, serious injuries are extracted vi Trauma Team AV with the city picking up the bill. A complete Ceasefire is ordered and broadcast across the Zone. Troops are ordered to only fire if fired upon. All the Wanted still in the zone with a bounty of 3 stars or less are given a presidential pardon as long as they report to a reclamation center to receive the proper paperwork and are properly registered. 4 and 5 star Wanted are given a temporary reprieve for as long as the relief efforts last. They are not permitted to leave the zone without being arrested, but remain unmolested by the troops and aid workers. The gates remain restricted as well, entrance is permissible only to emergency personnel. Leaving is allowed but you still must go through the secured gates. Everyone leaving is searched for illegal weapons and contraband. The Bounty Reclamation centers have been converted to Pardon Registration, and to be pardoned you must register. If you are one of the 1-3 star Wanted, you must go here and have the papers in order to leave the Zone. In addition to medical personnel, firefighters come in to put out the major fires, and the water and electricity are restored. Private and military trucks are called in to gather and remove bodies.
Residents of the Zone who do leave will be automatically eligible for a place in the new low income housing megaplex being built by a conglomeration of corporations including Arasaka, Militech, Biotechnica, General Foods, and others. They will be provided space rent free for 6 months with the option to stay as paying tenants after that time is up. Adults will be offered jobs with the various corporations, and education centers will be set up for the children.
The reclamation of the Combat Zone will last 10 days. After all the injured who wish to leave have been evacuated, all the bodies have been removed, and all the utilities are running again, the emergency forces will pull out completely. No reconstruction will take place, and all those left inside the zone will be left once more to their own devices.
The Mayor will be put on trial and convicted, sentenced to 25 years maximum security. The entire affair is widely publicized, and the resulting outrage is a harsh blow to the Republican party, allowing the Democrats to sweep the elections in Northern California.
Any unclaimed bodies from the incident are sold to Biotechnica for research purposes.
Debate over whether to tear down the wall will continue for months. In the meantime the gates will remain manned and monitored by police. Entrance into the zone will be freely permitted, leaving however still requires an identity check, and random searches of vehicles will occur based on suspicion.
Maelstrom and Slaughterhouse emerge from the Combat Zone as the reigning power in the area, all smaller gangs are either wiped out completely or are subsumed into the two larger gangs.
Stories of heroism, survival, and atrocities from the Combat Zone incident dominate airwaves for months and even years after. Some of the worst offenders are actually private teams hired by Media Corps.
The total death toll in the Zone will never be known. Estimates put it as high as 5,500. Of the 2,986 bounties turned in, over two thirds were brought in dead. Of the estimated 400+ Hunters that went in, roughly 20% survived. Property damage is impossible to determine, since many of the buildings in the zone were already condemned.
GM notes: The ideas presented here are intended to give game masters a chance to put their players through all out hell. For the 6 days of Carnival they will have to deal with survival during the absolute worst possible conditions. I have provided many plot hooks to get your players in the Zone during Carnival, be they Hunters themselves, privately or sponsored, residents of the zone just trying to survive, they could even be members of the National Guard stationed at the wall. Or alternatively, they could be outside the zone, perhaps trying to find a way to smuggle friends and family out, or involved in a political fight to bring the situation to an end. The possibilities are endless. I have purposely left most of this scenario as open ended as possible, allowing you to customize it to your own game, however I will clarify a few points:
Each Section of the Wall has an SP of 250 and an SDP of 300.
It IS possible to hack into the government files and obtain information about Carnival before the event begins. Doing so is extremely difficult however. Getting the Bounty list is even harder.
Feel free to change anything you wish about this to suit your own game.