Central Financial

To a lot of people outside the city, Central Financial is where Saskatoon starts and stops. Hands-down it’s the most distinctive district in the city: nowhere else commands as much media attention or adds as much to the skyline. It’s got Delmont Plaza, Specter Tower, and the Psyscraper. It’s not just tourist attractions, though: CentFi is the beating heart of the Northwestern economy. You could spend all day listing the businesses that call this place home. Don’t let the bright lights and polished windows fool you, though: CentFi is every bit as cutthroat as the darkest corners of the Covered Market. They might wear nicer clothing and do their business in open daylight, but nobody ever gets to the top without stepping on a few necks…

Life in the Central Financial District

This is where you work, not where you play. According to the 2304 census, only 5% of the buildings in CentFi are residential, with 81% of the daily workers commuting. Unlike most other districts, which observe 3 work shifts of 8 hours each, CentFi observes 6 shifts of 4 hours. The district is in a near-constant state of rush hour traffic, which is magnified by the abnormal prevalence of automobiles in the district. While this is terribly inconvenient for all involved, it is generally agreed to be necessary: the stress of work in CentFi is an insidious silent killer. In 2228, a study by the Red Owl Research Co conclusively found that much of Saskatoon’s alarming 1.6% suicide rate could be traced directly back to stressful working conditions in CentFi. In response, many large corporations in the district to begin working half-shifts instead of full shifts; and shortly thereafter suicides in the city fell to a much more reasonable 1.4%.

Today, CentFi is a mostly respectable place full of mostly respectable people: there are at most 7 suicides in the area on any given day, and city sanitation is always quick to dispose of the remains. The people here are respectable salarymen, managers, and moguls. Rob at your own risk.

THE SECOND SKY

An iconic feature of CentFi, the Second Sky was jointly installed in 2214 by a coalition of 32 property owners in the area who made a determined stand against suicides in the area. At the time, it was very common for people to jump to their deaths from one of the area’s many tall buildings, at a rate of roughly 81 per day. Despite considerable protests from the local funerial industry, it was decided to install an anti-jumper measure for the convenience of those nearby. While a net was the traditional anti-suicide measure in similar industries, it was agreed that a net would be insufficient to prevent the suicide of CentFi’s smaller employees; and so the decision was made to install an enormous street-width trampoline between the needy buildings.

In addition to being much less easy to wiggle through, it was agreed that a trampoline would be a significant boon to the mental health of prospective suicides: instead of acquiring a terrible case of rope burn, jumpers would be rewarded with an intensely enjoyable few seconds of bouncing, which would hopefully be entertaining enough to restore them to working condition. For several weeks, this actually worked as intended: suicide rates dropped to 0, and many who attempted decided against it after a few minutes on the trampoline. Indeed, many workers who were not considering suicide made use of the Second Sky just for fun; and morale was at an all-time high.

This came to an abrupt end, however, when the offices of Lindbergh and Howe realized that in most cases, the employees under the highest stress were also the company’s most valuable. They then hired a squad of “jumper stumpers”: a group of untrained employees whose job was to stand on the roof of the building and wait until members of rival firms threw themselves from one of the building roofs. Upon seeing such a person, the jumper stumpers would quickly run over to them and knock them down; and then, forming a diamond shape around the victim, they would begin jumping up and down in place to prevent them from getting up again. They would do this until the shift was over, preventing the employee from returning to work. This was a highly effective way to indefinitely occupy a business’s most important employees and gum up their internal works.

This prompted their rival firms—and many other completely unrelated businesses in the area—to hire Stumper squads of their own. This lead, in turn, to the creation of Counter-Stumper squads, who would knock down jumper stumpers working for rival businesses. The so-called trampoline wars continued on for roughly a month, until the tragedy of October 12 2214—when 214 persons jumped on more or less the same spot at the same time. This caused a massive tear in the trampoline; all of them plummeted 20 stories to their immediate and gruesome deaths. Thereafter, most businesses in CentFi forbade employees’ use of the Second Sky for recreational purposes—consigning it to near-complete inactivity. While it seldom sees use—since most suicides now simply kill themselves in the home—many offices in the area still maintain a squad of jumper stumpers just in case.

The Second Sky remains a distinctive landmark for Saskatoon tourists. Street-level walking tours offer guided examinations of the sky’s many frescos, while several buildings allow tourists to make controlled jumps in enclosed areas; and patients in the Walter/Penn ink asylum are often taken there as part of their acclamation therapy. As a resident or a tourist you should consider visiting at least once, if only to say you did.

THE PSYSCRAPER

In the heart of centfi, eight identical buildings stand clustered near each other. Each one is long, tall, and thin—like a book resting upright. Four of them are arrayed in a cross shape, while the other four are arrayed to span the gaps between the outward-facing ends of the first set. From above, the complex looks like a plus sign enclosed by a diamond. In the empty space between the 8 buildings, there stand four more: each of these is an enormous triangular cylinder which rises up to meet the exterior structure. Each building stands a staggering 87 stories tall and holds 2900 rooms. This is the Saskatoon Ink Asylum and Academy—more commonly called the Psyscraper.

The psyscraper is a state-run nonprofit care facility. It is the largest mental hospital in local space; and for many inkpersons, it is their first exposure to real life. While its staff does treat conventional mental illness, most of the Psyscraper’s patients are perfectly neurotypical: their primary care area is in helping recently-incarnated inkmen adjust to life in local space.

For a one-time payment of 5000 credits, the ink asylum will store a copy of your homepage in its subterranean vault; and upon the occasion of your next reincarnation, they will provide you with material comforts and an education curriculum of your choice. Asylum plans are paid for in advance, usually by monthly payment. The simplest of these—which costs only 2500 CDs—gets you a candy bar, a bus ticket to the morgue to collect your possessions, and a copy of that day’s Saskatoon Post. The most expensive option (which costs a remarkable 626 grand) gets you 6 months’ lodging in one of their rooms with luxury dining and entertainment. Juvenile or impoverished sapients receive a state-sponsored plan, which gives them a month’s stay and a simple trade education. They pay for this over the next year by working at a garnished wage.

For many people, this is also their first exposure to Saskatoon’s borderlegal industries. The Psyscraper employs 382 physicians, 628 nurses, 234 security guards, and 41 custodians. While this sounds very impressive on paper, in actually the facility is famously understaffed: at any given moment the Psyscraper will have between 6 and 9 thousand patients, many of whom must be tended daily. Former hospital director Saito Matsunaga once estimated that the psyscraper has only 10% of the staff it needs to operate at ideal efficiency. As a nonprofit, the psycraper relies on donations and volunteer work to sustain itself. It is an open secret that these volunteer groups are little more than recruitment tools—most commonly for RPAs or organized crime.

They are a way for otherwise unattractive organizations to ingratiate recently-incarnated persons; and in an Electric Eye survey from 2284, 19.98% of self-described career criminals admitted that they joined the criminal underworld after being recruited by a volunteer hospitaliers’ group. Despite this rather alarming number, the Psyscraper staff make no independent effort to stymy criminal recruitment actions: in a clandestine interview with Sotto Voce, an anonymous source from within the hospital stated that ‘the volunteers are the only reason the place hasn’t closed down’.

The hospital has often been criticized for its inefficiency. Large swathes of the complex remain unoccupied at any given moment, but the NHS refuses to lease the space in case some form of disaster necessitates its use. Meanwhile, the empty wings have become the stuff of urban legend: stories tell of a king’s ransom in contraband hidden away somewhere in the upper floors of the building; and more outlandish tales maintain the existence of secretive cults—horrible orgies where the doctors sacrifice patients to nameless terrors of the deep ink. For obvious reasons, no credible investigation into these claims has ever been mounted.

USING THE CENTRAL FINANCIAL DISTRICT

The central financial district is a fixture of Saskatoon and it can be the lynchpin of your campaign. With its high-rolling businesses and soaring towers, it can be the crown jewel of a heisting career—or it can be the symbol of the drudge life your players are trying to escape.

-As a start to a grand mystery. A great way to begin a story is to have your players freshly incarnated in the Psyscraper following their unfortunate demise at the end of some grand caper. The players will naturally want to find out who they are and what they were doing, which allows you to lay a trail of breadcrumbs leading to some much larger mystery. This is a wholly original premise which will immediately establish you as a creative powerhouse.