Nightrun: Murder City
Mercer City has humble beginnings in the early 1800s. Originally a fishing town located along the southern New Jersey shore, the city’s fortunes waxed and waned with the coal industry, fishing trade, and eventually, manufacturing. It was hit hard during the Great Depression, and never really recovered until the end of the 1900s, when the rampant crime of Washington, DC and New York began to drive the wealthy to the relatively safe neighborhoods of Mercer City. The addition of commuter trains, then high-speed rail in 2011, delivering the powerful and rich to their day jobs in DC or NYC helped solidify Mercer City’s growing profile as a wealthy enclave. Golden Heights soon became known as the “richest city in America,” boasting more billionaires per square mile than any other place in the U.S., beating out Long Island, Miami, and even Hollywood. Meanwhile, the older portions of the city (places like Amistad, Freeman Hill, Downtown and the old immigrant haven of Rome Island, benefited little from the nearby wealth. As production slowed, factories closed, and fish became less plentiful, these areas began to slowly crumble, eaten by drugs and gangs.
Mercer City’s place was further cemented when terrorists set off a small nuke in Manhattan in 2012, turning the southern end of that island into a no-man’s land. Fear of future attacks drove millions from New York, some of which settled in nearby Mercer City. The influx of money caused the mayor, Jim Phelps, to come up with a bold new direction for Mercer City: to become the Las Vegas of the East. Massive projects were immediately began in the old industrial area of Arcadia, turning Ivory Boulevard into a glittering strip of fantastic casinos and hotels. It, and the Titan Stadium (designed to replace the aging Kimbrose Stadium in Germantown), was completed in 2020, and for the last ten years Mercer City has continued to grow.
But all this wealth and opportunity has its dark side. When Crystal City was built, a monument to corporate luxury and power, the Yakuza finally found something of interest to draw them to Mercer. The Chinese Triad soon followed, and when the casinos emerged in Arcadia, the previously quiet Cosa Nostra (Italian Mafia) finally got a foothold in this city. Events in NYC and Washington brought other gangs, and with the gangs came the drugs. New designer drugs like Cain, Rage and Grind have taken over the streets. Crime has radically increased in the older areas of the city outside the walled and policed corporate enclaves. Aging middle-class districts have turned into poor neighborhoods, ghettos have turned into slums, and slums have turned into war zones. There are places the police no longer go in Mercer City, places where gangs and crime syndicates battle for control of turf and prestige. It is because of them that Mercer City has earned the nickname for which it is more widely known: