The Seattle Underground (formerly the Ork Underground) is a district in Seattle.
The Underground refers to a network of underground passageways and basements that was ground level at the city's origin in the mid 19th century, these spaces eventually fell into disuse as the streets were elevated, becoming forgotten basements and occasional tourist attractions. This trend continued till the Night of Rage of 2039, after which the Underground became a refuge of city's metahumans.
Elves, who never liked the underground, left as soon as possible, but Orks, Trolls and Dwarfs stayed. Once the legal problems (such as whether they could tunnel into the basements of existing buildings) and technical problems (what to do with the water that seeped into the tunnels) were solved, they began to construct ornately carved tunnels and caves deep underground. A violent disagreement between Dwarfs and Orks resulted in the Dwarfs leaving during the early 40s.
The Orks turned the Underground into a complete city, with a city hall, private police force, and malls. There were 22 known ways to enter the Underground, but the only safe ways for non-Orks was via the official tour entrances in the basement of the Seattle Utilities Building (Seneca Street and First Avenue, inside the Big Rhino Restaurant) and the basement of Lordstrung's Department Store on Fifth Avenue and Pine Street. Many secret entrances were also rumored to exist. The Underground was not the safest place for non-Orks; those who clearly remembered the Night of Rage at best harbor a bitter resentment against anyone displaying an ounce of bigotry, and at worst simply hated all humans. The Underground was known for poor Matrix reception.
Recently the Ork Underground was officially recognized as a city and was partly cleaned up (specifically the upper layer). Which has led to redevelopment projects, the return of dwarfs who with the backing of the law reclaimed property (and the eviction of orks), and an influx of middle class Seattleites.
The Underground now consists of three levels. First if the tourist-friendly tamed Seattle Underground which the dwarves have taken over and is where other Seattleites are settling (and is patrolled by law enforcement). The wilder unofficial Ork Underground is the next level, where is full of Ork families and is patrolled by Skraacha. Last is the deepest leve, the dangerous Feral Underground which is full of free spirits, vampires, feral ghouls, and other things.
There are 22 known public entrances to the Underground, and the number of miscellaneous ventilation shafts, private entrances, power conduits, sewer and storm drain portals, and similar such accesses are probably not known by anyone. While the main part of the Underground lies under Seattle Downtown, parts extend to neighboring districts: Tacoma, Everett and Puyallup Barrens. The Underground is still expanding, though it is worth noting some border enclaves may be not connected to the main part, and deny that they part of the larger community (through few surface dwellers care about such nuances).
Originally, the district was inhabited by the three groups that sought refuge from the Night of Rage: orks, but also dwarfs and trolls. Following some internal quarrels, and growing tolerance on the surface, most of the dwarfs left.
By 2040s, the district, as the name suggests, became inhabited mainly by orcs, with trolls forming the second largest group, but one can find smaller numbers of almost any other race down there. A refugee for all, Underground has had more than its fair share of HMHVV infected, who are somewhat more accepted than on the surface. The Underground attracts many beings that are not comfortable in sunlight: ghouls, wendigos, vampires, and dzoo-noo-qua. (The creatures bearing HMHVV have to watch their steps: most Trolls have an intense dislike for the dzoo-noo-qua that they could potentially become, and of the vampires and wendigo that could render them into such beasts.) Ghouls are occasionally tolerated, though they seldom survive being caught eating residents of the Underground or their friends.
Population in 2078:
- Unofficial: Approximately 200,000 (per Skraacha census) of which 83% are Ork and 9% are Troll, and 94% SINless (which was prior to the distribution of the 44,000 non-criminal Renraku SINs).
- Official: 40,000 of which 4% are human, 5% are dwarf, 1% are elf, 82% are ork and 7% are Troll.
In 2070s, there was a strong push to make the Ork Underground recognized as an official district of the city of Seattle. The "Proposition 23" finally passed in 2074.
Tours of the Ork Underground were available. The official tour entrances are inside the Big Rhino (in the basement of the Seattle Utilities Building at Seneca and First streets) and the basement of Lordstrung’s Department Store (at Fifth and Pine): this area is called the Mall, and is the most well-lit area (and safest for breeders, keebs, and halfers). It functions as a bazaar— one of the best black markets in the Sprawl— with a number of permanent shops working out of renovated 19th century storefronts, dating back to the old Seattle before the streets were covered over. It sports many garish murals and contorted statues for tourists to gawk at, and any number of trashy carvings, cheap trinkets, and brightly colored souvenirs are available here. One of them most notable local companies is Fungitek, developing genetically engineered fungi hybrid.
Places of Interest
While the Underground is home to many petty criminals, most adhere to a code of conduct (and common sense) and don't carry their operations at home, not stealing from their (often, impoverished) neighbors (though tourists are less likely to be afforded the same consideration).
As of 2050s and 2060s the Trogs gang, looking dangerous in their red and black, claimed the Underground as its territory, and they often serve as a de facto police force that discourages people from criminal activities they don’t profit from. They have instituted formal accounting procedures for customers paying protection money, and serve as a broker of jobs— targeting people who don’t pay— to thieves.
As of late 2060s a new gang has emerged there, the Skraacha (“Scorchers” in Or’zet). The gang has since evolved into a kind of combination neighborhood watch group and vigilante squad with the aim of taking down anti-metahumans. It is affiliated with the Ork Nation policlub.
- Vital statistics for this district were never reported
There are also Undergrounds in other cities - Atlanta, London, Hamburg, and many others. They are not necessarily Orkish - some are dominated by Trolls, others, by Dwarves. The Seattle one remains one of the largest, and certainly, the most famous.
- Emerald Shadows p.83-86
- Emerald Shadows p.83
- Emerald Shadows p.83
- New Seattle, 58-59
- Runner Havens, 91, 99, 107-108, 118
- Seattle Sourcebook, 23
- Shadowbeat, 32, 42
- Source:Seattle 2072, 43
- Shadowrun Missions: many adventures from series 4
- Emerald Shadows, 83-86
- Shadowrun Website - Jackpoint Prop 23 and its aftermath