Portland is a buffer zone between Tir Tairngire and the rest of the world. Most imports and exports to and from the Tir run through Portland (most are also routed through Seattle), and Portland is the only Tir area where visitors and non-citizens are allowed to go. Even so, most visitors are only granted a brief stay there. The city itself is surrounded by a massive ten-meter high wall; movement to and from the rest of Tir Tairngire goes through heavily fortified checkpoints.
As a border zone, Portland is officially run by a military tribunal and exists under a modified martial law. The local Peace Force is well-armed and armored, and will quickly clamp down on any violent situation. These officers have the legal authority to stop and question anyone, as well as demand identification (failing to carry ID is a crime, especially for visitors). They will not hesitate to use this power against anyone they deem suspicious, especially if the person is not an elf or is in a high-status neighborhood (where he or she presumably doesn’t belong). Luckily for the runners, the Peace Force is not a pervasive presence except downtown and in upper-class areas. In fact, they deliberately ignore several squatter neighborhoods where no self-respecting elf would be caught dead.
Portland is seventy percent elven, and its society adheres to the same rigid caste structure as the rest of the country. Social rank determines access to several privileges and advantages, from housing, schooling and certain careers to taxation and even exemption from travel restrictions or mandatory military service. Rank is determined at the age of eighteen, through a battery of tests and political maneuvering. Most standard citizens are ranked as gentry, addressed as “Squire” and suffer the most restrictions. Further up the ladder are the chivalry (“Sir” or “Demoiselle”) and then nobles, counts and countesses, and dukes and duchesses. At the top are the royalty, including the ruling princes who live just outside Portland in Royal Hill. A small section of society refuses to adhere to this system, residing in the squatter zones much like the SINless of Seattle.
Though subtly masked, discrimination against non-elves is common, especially toward orks and trolls. In most cases, bigotry easily masquerades as a matter of status; only the rare non-elf advances past the rank of chivalry. Visitors like the runners have no social rank, and are treated accordingly. Though Sperethiel is the country’s official language, it is only common among the upper castes.
Tir Tairngire’s economy is based on the nuyen. Foreign owned companies cannot operate inside the country, though locally based subsidiaries can. Like all Tir corporations, however, at least five percent of any such company’s stock belongs to the Tir government. This arrangement precludes many megacorps from operating within the Tir. Aztechnology and Saeder-Krupp are specifically banned from the nation, the former for its symbiotic relations with Aztlan and the latter because the dragon who controls it — Lofwyr — is a member of Tir Tairngire’s ruling Council of Princes (a perceived “conflict of interest”).
Like all urban centers, Portland has its share of organized crime, though the heavily armed police force keeps such operations subdued. The major crime syndicates don’t have the elf manpower or subtlety to cut it in Portland, so the major players are independents. Kate “the Kat” Mustaffah, a dwarf with a history in the European arms trade, has the strongest operation in the city, with direct control over the docks and the bulk of the BTL trade. Her biggest competitor is an outfit run by an aging troll named Dog, a vicious fragger who used to lead one of the city’s more infamous go-gangs. Jokes aside about how the two of them fight, for the most part they keep the fireworks minimal and avoid stepping on each other’s toes.
Several gangs run rampant in the slum areas, with the ork Spanners and the zombie-themed Souldrinkers being two of the more memorable. A few so-called “Dark Circles”—criminal magical groups, usually with a twisted agenda—also operate in Portland. The local shadow community is thriving, though considerably smaller than the Seattle scene. Popular shadow hangouts include the Mill, a dank hole ideal for weapons deals; the Ivanhoe, a biker bar/motel that serves as Dog’s main hangout; and the Edge, a club well known for its lack of racial and class bias and its avant-garde underground musicians.
A rough map of Portland (p. 18) shows several neighborhoods. Use the security ratings for these neighborhoods (given on p. 19) to determine the police presence and response time to criminal incidents, as described on p. 108, New Seattle.
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