Banzaidyne Press

"Heavy Gear: Filling in Gommorah"

The world-city of Gomorrah is not only an important setting in the Heavy Gear universe, it is an interesting place in its own right. The "megalopolis," the city that is so massive that it nearly overwhelms its inhabitants and completely blows the minds of visitors, is a recurring theme in many roleplaying settings. Some of the specific information for Gomorrah presented in Life on Caprice (LoC), however, does not fit very well with the general presentation of the city, and most of the city is simply not discussed at all. Some simple changes and the inclusion of new material will make Gomorrah a more vibrant and interesting setting for all types of Heavy Gear campaigns.

Some page references below refer to the Cat's Eye Trench rather than Gomorrah; however, since the trench completely contains Gomorrah, both features will be referred to collectively as "Gomorrah" throughout this article.

More People

The common depiction of Gomorrah is of a incredibly dense urban environment, a cousin of Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong or another of the great cities of modern Earth. The numbers provided in LoC, however, do not support that depiction.
Page 29 of LoC gives the following information for Gomorrah:

Population: 311 million (the figure of 131 million on page 6 is assumed to be a typographical error)
Area: 328,000 square kilometers (126,640 square miles)

By comparison, the population of the United States in 2010 was reported by the U.S. Census Bureau at 308 million, and as of October 2017 was estimated at nearly 327 million*.
Imagine everyone in America crammed into a space a little larger than New Mexico (314,917 sqaure kilometers).

Dividing the given population and area figures for Gomorrah results in a population density of slightly more than 948 people per square kilometer, or 2456 people per square mile - which is a substantial figure.
The population density of New York City in 2010, however, was over ten times as high at over 10,400 people per square kilometer (27,000 people per square mile), according to data from the New York City Department of City Planning. My own hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has an approximate population density of more than 2100 people per square kilometer, based on 2016 Census Bureau estimates. Many of the Earth's most populous cities have population densities in the tens of thousands per square kilometer; gives a good set of data for several cities around the world. The stated population of Gomorrah is simply too low to create the "Hong Kong writ large" environment portrayed in LoC.

The solution, of course, is very simple: increase the population of individual hubs and of Gomorrah as a whole. This is made easier by the emphasis on enormous skyscrapers within the city, where tens of thousands of people live and work in a structure that does not take up a great deal of the trench's floor space. Doubling or tripling the population of Gomorrah seems to be the best choice; much more than that, and Caprice's population grows out of proportion to that of the other colony worlds. If Caprice is the focal point of your campaign, however, increase it by as much as you like.

More Places

The eleven hubs described in Life on Caprice are those which would likely play the greatest part in most Heavy Gear campaigns. These hubs, however, account for only one-seventh of the total floor area of the Cat's Eye Trench. There's ample room to add new districts and hubs to meet the needs of your particular campaign, or to express your own vision of what life on Caprice is like. An example hub is given below.

The Gardens

Vital Statistics
Joined Gomorrah: 5391
Main Corporation: Phipps AgriCon
Coalition Delegate: Delegate Gerard Lake
Size: 83 square kilometers
Population: 17,000
Standard of Living: High

Much like the ancient wonder of Earth for which it is named, this hub adjacent to Babylon Summit is one of the most breathtaking areas of Gomorrah. This remarkable expanse of greenery in the heart of the world-city has been compared to the historical Central Park of ancient New York City, or the largest parks in the Samarkite city of Muscat.

The Gardens are made possible by a remarkable feat of engineering. The higher reaches of the trench walls are lined with massive banks of sunlamps; in effect, the hub is a massive greenhouse. Every morning, sunlamps on one side of the trench are activated at a low level, which simulates dawn. This artificial light is intensified throughout the morning until the actual light from Loki falls within the trench, at which point the sunlamps are shut down. Lamps on the other side of the trench are activated as Loki passes from view, and dim through the afternoon until they are shut down at "dusk." The result is the effective simulation of a full day's worth of sunlight, at a level which allows plants to grow properly.

The Gardens serve several related purposes. The hub is primarily an agricultural area, with fields for a variety of crops spread across the trench floor. Additional fields are sculpted into the sides of the canyon walls, much like traditional rice paddies in Southeast Asia. Several areas within The Gardens are reserved as botanical gardens or otherwise replicate specific environments; several species of Earth hardwood trees grow in one high-security arboretum, while Terranovan and Edenite fauna can be found in others.

As important as these agricultural and botanical operations are, though, The Gardens also serve an important psychological need. The Gardens are one of the few places in the city where Gomorrans can lose themselves among green living things, and the area is thus an extremely popular tourist destination. This area is also frequented by those Gomorrans who are diagnosed with Sunlight Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder brought on by a prolonged lack of exposure to sunlight. A weekend trip to The Gardens is often enough to counter the effects of this condition, as the artificial sunlight generated throughout the district acts as a large-scale form of phototherapy. Gomorrans with severe forms of this disorder often transfer to the district permanently.

There's a great deal of room (literally and figuratively) within the Cat's Eye Trench to develop your own vision of the world-city of Gomorrah, whether it be an oppressive, hyperdeveloped megalopolis or a benign, richly textured city. The suggestions in this article are but two possible ways to make Gomorrah come alive in your Heavy Gear campaign. Go wild!

Author's Note: The segment of this article regarding Caprice's population is the result of a series of discussions between APAGear members in the summer and fall of 2002. I would like to acknowledge their contributions to this article and to thank them for their suggestions and comments.

* This article was updated in October 2017 to reflect more recent population data.

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