In the vast realms of occupied space, there are many wondrous cities immense size. These cities are often more prominent than the geographic features on the planet's surface, and sometimes occlude the surface entirely. The trap we often find in using these cities as backgrounds for games is that any unplanned area generally ends up being described by a regular array of buildings and streets in a boring grid pattern.
This is, of course, patently ridiculous. It barely works for cities of millions, much less for billions.
So, in an effort to provide a mental crutch for weary referees, and to help add an interesting touch of appropriate backdrop, we thought it would be useful to have a basic set of common mega-city architectural types.
- 1 Macro Types
- 2 Micro Types
These kinds of mega-cities are the most closely related to the simple two dimensional array of buildings that most referees are accustomed to, but with the distinction that the scale of the individual buildings is vastly different. These monster buildings are generally over a kilometer tall, and often with completely different internal structures. The obvious limitations with respect to external surface areas mean that all traffic (both personnel and vehicle) on the ground is extremely dense, and any significant transportation needs to be done by vehicles capable of flight. Generally, public transportation in this type of mega-city is either ad-hoc or even non-existent, with aero-taxis often being the dominant form. While there is ready access to open air from most buildings, the staggering overall inefficiency of this arrangement means that very few mega-cities are planned to be this way, but rather are actually just very old cities that have developed into this form from humbler beginnings.
This macro-type of mega-city is actually one of the most common currently played in AIF. The cities tend to be constructed of three to ten massive levels, each ranging from 100m to 300m, and allowing for a massive multiplication of "ground area". While this means that there is considerable room for most pedestrians and ground vehicles, flying vehicles usually have much more convoluted access. Usually there are massive open shafts and columns to allows vertical access between the levels and out of the city, but the distribution of these can vary widely. This type of mega-city often has some very distinct stratification between the levels, with the heavy industry contained in the gloom of the bottom decks and the privileged enjoying the access and view of the upper levels. Due to the cohesive structure of these mega-cities, the major features are usually all completely built at once in one colossal effort. This means that they tend to be products of super-organizations, such as the Confederation or Nastidyne. Deck mega-cities are the type most conducive to the needs of totalitarian isolationist regimes.
Stack mega-cities were developed as modular constructions that tend to be more efficient than spire or deck types. The stacks are usually geometrically-regular free-standing vertical blocks about a kilometer to a lateral side, and towering anywhere from half a kilometer to several kilometers (or, in the case of New Bronx, almost one hundred kilometers!). The stacks are comprised of layers like small decks - usually 50m to 100m each. In effect, each stack is a separate city, each capable of being self-sufficient. The gaps between the stacks mean that the decks have greatly increased access than a full deck type mega city. Meanwhile, the regular structure allows for much more convenient pedestrian and ground vehicle access than in a spire type mega city. In the waning years of the Confederation, most new mega-cities constructed in the known galaxies were created by private organizations and the preferred type was the stack mega-cities.
Only a very recent type of mega-city, some regions are starting to favour this exotic type of mega-city. With these, the decks are tilted at an angle of about 15° to 30° relative to the surface of the planet, starting from the surface of the planet, and running for 1 to 5 kilometers so that they protrude hundreds of meters to over a kilometer vertically. The decks are spaced 200m to 500m apart, usually connected by massive columns and beams such that horizontal travel through the plane of deck is facilitated. These mega-cities also allow a great deal of mobility and access, and are modular in that additional decks can readily be added without altering the basic structure. The primary drawback for these leaning deck cities is that the sub-structures need to have greater robustness then deck or stack-type mega-cities because there is less protection from climactic conditions. That, and they tend to give some species a kink in their neck.
While all mega-cities have space ports, there really are very few required similarities. There is invariably a designated landing region for vessels with plasma drives, and there is usually a heavy-cargo handling space suitable for large freighters. By simply functionality, space ports must be connected to major routes to allow the transfer of large items. The level of separation from the rest of the city generally depends on the level of security that a particular city wants. Other than on the most extremely rare worlds, at least one bar directly associated with the space port can be assumed as well.
The massive populations of the mega-cities have some distinct life-support requirements as a bare minimum, with export, luxury, and military production being cumulative. Thus, there needs to be some large zones dedicated to industrial process, and these regions are not usually designed for convenient access. Most commonly, these zones will be restricted to casual public access, though the scale will require that there be large portals to allow large equipment. Immense material-transfer pipes and colossal tanks will dominate this space, with only catwalks and crawl-spaces being the only guaranteed manner of movement for most areas.
Many mega-cities provide for high-speed vehicle transit in specified conduits that course through the regions to allow distributed access. Travel tubes will often have some physical or energy buffer between the speeding traffic and the general population, with access points only every 500 meters or so. While there is an unspoken custom of avoiding the bottom edges of travel tubes in case there are some unfortunate pedestrians in the conduit for some reason, this cannot be counted on and being caught inside a travel tube on foot is clearly risky. Due to the simplified shapes required for high-speed transit, the distances involved, and the limitations on where beings can be without risk from traffic, there is usually a penalty of-5 to hide and sneak.
Some mega-cities allow for enhanced personnel movement by networks of transit tubes.