Chicago proper gleams along the waterfront, unto which many of its oldest districts sprawl. The Loop is the main bastion of civic and social control, where the wealthy roost. Cartown’s massive sprawl of industry and smog houses many broken dreams and struggling proles. Avondale holds ancient secrets and old, old buildings the Family zealously guards where the tech heads plink away at ancient tablets and run things.
When the first E.F.S. expedition reached Chicagoland, the fabled alternative to their first legs of the Maple Syrup Trail, they had only rumours of civilization resembling their own. Upon finding a fully functional city with industry and societal nuance they were astounded. However the locals were not forthcoming as to their system of governance, but “Who’s in charge here?” led them to the Chicago Families. Unfortunately the deep layers of nuance and euphemism in the jargon did not make it quite clear what they were signing up for, but with such a grande find that proved willing to cooperate it was less than a year until Chicagoland gained E.F.S. statehood.
Of course, by the time they realized the city and appertaining territories was under the thumb of a literal criminal organization, they’d already too far legitimated them to go back. Besides, the raw industrial capacity of Chicagoland made it an asset--as well as their agreements with the Appalachians that allowed a relatively free flow of goods.
The Family is not to be trifled with. They rule unquestioned by ancient accord, and stop at nothing to ensure the city flows smoothly. All “governmental” services are run by theoretically private enterprises which in practice follow the orders of the Five Families to the T and universally have a Family representative on the payroll to do little more than scrutinize their affairs for the first hint of disloyalty.
While their E.F.S. requires hypothetically democratic institutions, they’ve got every election in the bag and politicians who don’t swing their way get swung out. Hard. Beyond poorly enforced federal laws, the legal system in Chicagoland is relegated almost entirely to contract law and debtors’ prisons. Judges are appointed directly by the Families through a proxy council.
Trade and transit rule beneath the towering industrial roosts of Chicagoland. Caravans, freighter flights, water traffic, and trains are all vital to making it the beating Midwestern heart of continental trade--however their automotive manufacturing is what has won them recognition across the E.F.S. as masters of industry.
Internally they rely upon the Orland Overgrowth, their main southern holding, for all agriculture. Amidst ostentatious ruins coated in vines and roots, a vibrant farming community chafes under the Family’s impositions.
Running afoul of the Family at large is a death sentence in Chicagoland, but pissing off a low level thug or two will make it a personal problem. While the Family won’t suffer any offense to go unanswered, if one of their low level enforcers decides to ambush strangers for some foul purpose and winds up in a pool of his own blood it is far more expedient to disown him as a failure than react with violence. His killer may even be offered the deceased’s job, which they were clearly better at.
Those traversing the city will find the secretive and suicidal Labour Unionists have been driven deep underground by the Family’s combination of heavy handed tactics and constant social surveillance. Those tasked with keeping the proles in line or attempting to rise up could, in such a paranoid atmosphere, target an interloper purely on suspicion of working for the other side.
Interstate Warrants have a hard time being filled in Chicagoland by local enforcers, so lots of Bushwhackers come around the city. These federal agents are more willing than usual to rely on outside help tracking wanted criminals given the landscape’s realities.
To the north west the burly cave dwelling Hodag, a spiked reptilian creature with a massive metal crunching mouth and bone crushing tail, presents a common public health issue which is best addressed through liberal application of lead by the State Guard.
Of course, beyond the city’s splendor something moves amidst the Orland Overgrowth at night. Rustling, a muffled shout, and blood. Some will blame the Sioux, others the Family. But when there are claw marks on the door and blood soaked fur along the road, theorists turn silent and just get to where they’re headed quick--there’s something might deadlier out there than wolves or murderers, but its nature goes unspoken. Only the locals know why.