Jersey is marred by the hanging mist of the ill-fated Herzowitzer gas campaign intended to annihilate the enduring scourge of the Jersey Devils. Amidst the dead and dying woods of Jersey’s interior it hangs as a reminder and threat. Atlantic city on the east coast and Trenton clinging to life between New York and Philly a shadow of its former self are the two major metropoles. Ocean City would be the third but is an independent city state, eyes turned nervously to the siege up north.
The Jersey interior is constantly grey and overcast with a low-hanging mist that is mildly irritating to inhale and life threatening to remain within for more than a day or so at a time. Still, some people dare to live out in the wilds in the hopes of hanging on to their shred of the past.
Ever a Unionist state, Jersey’s seen an uptick in recruitment centers and military bases since the decision to move the capital from Trenton to Atlantic was finalized.
After the legalization of prostitution and gambling problems the state was not prepared to fix arose, and stuck between jamming on the breaks or keeping their newfound tax revenue they chose the path of least resistance. This was perhaps the right call given the coming influx of Buffalo refugees of the war zone around NYC who Jersey was obliged to house, with federal financial assistance.
Jersey’s rural society more or less nullified, they have become yet another urban state in the Northern Eleven. With a flagging old Populist Party and not much to do but sign up for the military or work for the state government if the corps have blacklisted you, resistance to corporate hegemony is minimal--but the effects are only softly felt. Some chalk this up to a general lack of corporate interest, but regardless of the reasons this means Jersey society has managed to maintain a peculiar harmony squatting at the edges of the gasfields.
Vice is common in Atlantic city due to the legalization of prostitution and gambling. With most drugs banned at a federal level but still heavily involved with the former two industries, this has created a standoff between the police, the criminals who would like to still control gambling and prostitution, and those in the legalized prostitution and gambling trade just trying to stay alive and profit. Some warn of a coming “prude-ification” with the Populists attempting to ally with the flagging interfaith community of the city, but so far attempts to jumpstart a morality crusade have failed. Miserably.
Shanty towns line the coast with refugees from southeastern Buffalo whose homes have become a warzone between their nation and the city many of them lived and worked in, New York. Of questioned loyalty and little economic means these folks are pushed the margins of Jersey society.
Drugs, “entertainment,” and gambling are common attractions in Atlantic City. Of course Ocean City has all this and more in greater supply, but getting in there is not a simple equation--especially for a surly E.F.S. sailor. Kicker is commonly produced in dangerous hidden labs, and all manner of drugs find their way to the city for illicit export through the port. By sky or sea, many a fix have come to people all across the E.F.S. from Atlantic City.
These businesses carry certain risks, and it is most commonly the poorest folks in society who pay them. While building owners can plead ignorance and go unquestioned when a dispensary or lab is found, locals will usually be hauled in for questioning. Those believed to have reasonably known about the operation without reporting it to local authorities face heavy fines and eventually prison sentences for unpaid fines, while those who do turn in the drug manufacturers can expect little in the way of witness protection.
One of the more popular routes for those willing to brave the gas is running drugs from Atlantic or Ocean City to Philly and returning again with a trove of cheap guns or ammo. Efforts to crack down on this trade have been minimal at best.
The Jersey Devil has proven to be one of the most reliably hard to kill faunas on the Seaboard, but they are far from the only danger. There’s plenty of carnivorous life in the Herzowitzer haze, all of it genetically selected to withstand the gas’s deleterious effects.
Conflict over the casinos, stalking grounds for street walkers, and control of bordello revenue commonly lead to street violence the cops are hesitant to involve themselves in too eagerly--sometimes those who do get involved find themselves sidelined into an early retirement. The shants across the coast and throughout the forgotten parts of Atlantic City are a constant concern for public health and omnipresent fire hazard: outbreaks of disease and accidental fires usually see a violent response from locals against the shanty dwellers, even when their innocence is clear. This has fed a growing hatred against any outsider and could see any passerby in the wrong place at the right time falling prey to spontaneous collective violence.
The Herzowitzer gas was supposed to wash over the state in less than twenty four hours and dissipate harmlessly into the sea. So why does it still menace Jersey years later? No one has a clear answer, but rumours tell of grey pillars of shimmering metal that rose from the sky and began emitting strange sounds and distorting the air around them shortly after the gas was released. They’re said to be deep in the countryside and conveniently the gas is heavily clumped around their supposed locations, preventing anyone from reasonably going to verify the tales one way or another. Regardless of veracity, the state has been known to pay a princely sum for legitimate intel on these pillars.