"You want to see how I do business? Show your face in this city one more time and you'll see how I do business."
-Enrique "El Serpiente" Matos to a dealer selling chems in his neighborhood
Because of its location on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in southern New Jersey, Atlantic City was envisioned as a resort town by even the earliest settlers and developers. Formerly a sleepy town located on marshland, things changed when the Camden and Atlantic Railroad began service to the area in 1854. The influx of visitors prompted an economic boom, and with it, the town underwent a radical change. Hotels and other lodges sprung up to house the almost 500,000 passengers that the railroad was bringing annually.
The world famous Atlantic City boardwalk was built in 1870 along a portion of the beach in an effort to keep sand out of hotel lobbies and other businesses on the shoreline. The boardwalk proved a popular attraction in and of itself, and as a result was continually expanded. As the boardwalk expanded, additional hotels were constructed along it, each one trying to outdo the other in terms of design, presentation, and amenities.
The golden age of Atlantic City took place in the 1920s. Despite prohibition, alcohol was plentiful, consumed in the back rooms of speakeasies, nightclubs, and restaurants thanks to the presence of organized criminal syndicates. Nicknamed “The World’s Playhouse” due to the fact that virtually nothing was forbidden, the people of Atlantic City basked in vice.
The good times would not last forever. Like many older east coast cities, Atlantic City went into economic decline in the mid-to-late 20th century. Pressure on organized crime left the city without the criminal leaders that once funded it. Automobiles and cheap jet service gave locals the ability to vacation elsewhere, cutting into the city’s tourist revenue. In an effort to revitalize the city, gambling was legalized and many of the city’s failing hotels were converted into casinos, but the move did little to breathe new life into the city. On the contrary, some saw the move as exacerbating the urban problems that plagued the city.
Submerged in the Atlantic
When the Great War ended and the bombs fell from the sky, Atlantic City was one of the many cities the Chinese targeted. Nuclear bombs fell on the city, but because it was considered a secondary target, it was not completely pummeled and leveled. The surging ocean water that followed soon after took care of what was left behind in the wake of the Chinese attack.
In the years prior to the Great War, concerns about rising sea levels regularly raised by locals and environmental groups, but a lack of funds and political motivation resulted in those concerns never really being addressed in a constructive way. Even after a hurricane made landfall only miles south of the city and partially flooded it in 2012, little was done to reinforce the beaches to protect from major flooding. Perhaps even if they had done something, though, it wouldn’t have helped, as it is likely there was nothing the city or state could have done to protect from the nuclear-powered tsunami waves that swept across the city and swallowed it.
For roughly the next fifty years, the city sat mostly submerged in the Atlantic Ocean. When the ocean receded around 2130, it only did so partially, turning the streets and avenues of the city into streams and rivers. While the partially submerged city attracted wastelanders looking to eek out a meager existence in relative safety, few stayed, as mirelurkscolonized the abandoned city.
In 2134, Clan Vernon of nearby Delaware funded an expedition to explore the abandoned city and bring back whatever Pre-War riches remained. Over the next two years, the mercenaries that they hired systematically cleaned out and explored the ruins of the city. What the Vernon’s hadn’t expected was for some of the mercenaries to claim the ruins and the treasures they hid for themselves. Five leaders separated themselves from those mercenaries and staked a claim on different parts of the city- Johnny Dukes took over the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, Al Esposito took over Chalfonte-Haddon Hall, Harvey Jenkins took over The Traymore Hotel, Jose Matos took over the Tropicana, and Morris Solomon took over the Ritz-Carlton.
A Regional Power
The mercenaries proved themselves just more than muscle, as the five united to rehabilitate the city. Over the next few decades, Atlantic City would turn into a regional power under their rule. The Five Families compete with each other, and are endlessly trying to outmaneuver the other, but are united in their desire to put Atlantic City back on the map, literally and figuratively.
One of the pivotal events in Atlantic City’s Post-War history occurred in 2216, when a group of former cultists arrived in the city and set up shop, selling strange mechanical odds-and-ends. Morris Solomon saw profitability in their inventions and convinced the other families to sponsor the strange inventors. Those men and women became Better Society, Inc. and their inventions would go on to bring thousands of caps into Atlantic City’s economy.
The Five Families, the rulers of Atlantic City, are the primary economic forces in the city, employing a large majority of the city in their casinos, hotels, and warehouses. Better Society, Inc. makes Atlantic City their headquarters, and is a major contributor to the local economy as well. Individuals hail from all over the local area, many attracted by the broadcasts from Radio AC.
Atlantic City generally is the southernmost waypoint for Garden State Shipping, the caravan company operating in the eastern region of the state. The company owns and rents numerous warehouses in the city to house their employees and their goods.
In addition to accepting caps and casino chips, most vendors in Atlantic City also use a currency known as ‘monopolies’. The paper currency, printed for the Pre-War board game bearing the same name, comes in notes of 1, 5, 10, 20, 100, and 500. The exchange rate varies, but in general, the number on each bill denotes the amount of caps it is worth.
Atlantic City is run by the Five Families, five powerful families with deep roots and connections to the city. They are the Dukes Family, the Esposito Family, the Jenkins Family, the Matos Family, and the Solomon Family. A sixth group, Clan Vernon, has limited but growing influence in the affairs of the city from their stronghold in New Castle, Delaware and is looking to cut into the Five Families’ authority. They view Atlantic City as theirs and are willing to undermine the rulers of the city in any way possible to grow their own influence there.
Atlantic City is located on Absecon Island, one of numerous barrier islands on the Jersey Shore. Though the city was once 17 square miles in total, the Post-War city has shrunk to a fraction of its former size and is now only a few square miles radiating from its famous boardwalk inland. Not only did the city get targeted and bombed during the Great War, but in the decades since, storm surge and rising sea levels have reclaimed portions of the city for the sea. Its population, which held steady at around 40,000 during the 20th and 21st centuries, is also a fraction of its former self, with roughly 3,000 residents.
The city is half submerged in overspill from the Atlantic Ocean. Streets and avenues that once had pedestrians and automobiles are now streams and rivers. Wooden boardwalks, reminiscent of the famous Pre-War landmark, crisscross the city, allowing people to walk around, while boats navigate the waterways.
Atlantic City has a strong alliance with the Kingdom of Highland, a nation occupying the northernmost point of the Jersey Shore. Between the two counties lies the Boardwalk Realms, controlled by various gangs of raiders. Atlantic City and Highland trade with each other and cooperate in military exercises to limit the destructive influences of the raiders living between each other.