Street is the grounding in places and people. Street means you know where to go and who to talk to.
For this game, we abstract knowledge of language, culture, and location into immersion. While modern technology can provide almost-real-time translation services for speech and text (either with subtitles or speech synthesis), it adds a slight hitch into any interaction; even the fastest computer has to wait for a German to voice the verb at the end of the sentence. Going through a translator imposes a +1 difficulty on social checks where understanding the language and culture matters.
Every starting character automatically has up to four immersions, presuming they have at least ten years in any of them:
- Their heritage culture, learned from the people who raised them.
- Their birth culture, learned by growing up in it.
- Their home culture, learned by living in it.
- Their professional culture, learned by training in it.
So a Decker of Mexican heritage who grew up in Messy Seattle but joined the Haven project in Redmond as an adult would speak the Spanish and English languages as well as decker lingo and Madagascar creole, be able to intuitively code-switch, and know how to schmooze with the Havenly as well as fellow deckers.
Many cultures do not have their own language, but have a lingo. Lingos are informal languages formed out of a mother tongue and heavy with slang, jargon, and culturally significant metaphorical language. Lingos arise out of professional and often cultural need. For example, the Cityspeak word
wiz came from jargon specific to the magically active. Lingos are specializations of base languages.
For every upgrade milestone in Street, a character gets one more immersions, including knowledge of how to effectively use them. (Just because you know a lingo doesn’t mean you should be the one to use it... but with an immersion, you have a good idea of how your words will be received.) This means 3 immersions at Street +1, 6 at Street +2, 10 at Street +3. They also get one extra Contact in that culture. Assume a possible immersion exists for every cultural region in the world (e.g.: anyone from the Confederated States of America will understand the nuances of how someone is using the phrase
bless your heart, but someone from Austin won’t necessarily blend in in New Orleans). Some immersions in 2050:
- Street: the culture of street hustlers, smugglers, and gangs in the confluence of European colonization and Japanese megacorporations. Includes command of the Cityspeak lingo, a Japanese/English pidgin created in Seattle that has spread to most other English-speaking sprawls.
- Haven: the culture of the Havens, including the etiquette of the maker movement and the Madagascar creole that is used most commonly on that island, but is also adopted as a badge of cultural distinction.
- Corporate: a lingo of technical banter shared by corporate office staff and lawyers, and an etiquette of gift-giving without obvious bribery. Additionally, every megacorporation has its own culture.
- Government: a close relative of Corporate immersion, Government is the realm of bureaucratic turf wars, policies controlled by legislation and referenda rather than a board of directors, and dealing with functionaries who range from committed civil servants to malingering seat warmers who are nearly impossible to fire. It include the lingo of Legalese.
- Political: the world of politicians and lobbyists; there is plenty of overlap with Corporate and Government culture, but the rhetoric is couched in party platforms and pandering to voters rather than the corporate bottom line. It includes the lingo of Legalese.
- Matrix: command of the ‘l33tspeak lingo and the art of favor exchange among people who only know each other through online presence.
- Elven: rooted in the cultural centers of Tir Tairngire and Tír na nÓg, but also found in go-gangs like the Ancients, neighborhoods like Tarislar in Seattle, parts of Salish-Shidhe territory, and other cultural enclaves with strong ties. It includes the Sperethiel language as well as a variety of complex status displays. Any practitioner of Carromeleg, the
elven martial art, will end up with elven immersion.
- Trog: on the lips of anyone but an ork or troll,
trog is an insult, but they take ownership of the term. It has roots in the cultural centers of the Ork Underground in Seattle and Orkland (across the Bay from San Francisco), and its own English-based lingo.
- Tribal: while each Native American tribe has its own immersion, an ecumenical culture has formed to facilitate cooperation between tribes in the Native American Nations. The underlying spoken language is still vernacular English, but the etiquette is very different from UCAS and CAS culture, and knowing how to show respect is extremely valuable. Formally, Plains Sign is the lingua franca (English is the language of colonizers), but Tribal communication still drops into English when people need to speak out loud.
- Underworld: the Mafia, Yakuza, Triads, Seoulpa Rings, Vory, Koshari, and the Ghost Cartels each have their own immersion if you want to pass yourself off as one of them, but there is a common culture of respect and negotiation common to the organized crime syndicates.
- Nahuatl Nuevo: also called Neo-Nahuatl and Espanáhuatl, a pidgin of modern Spanish and ancient Nahuatl promoted by Aztechnology as part of the Aztec Revival in Aztlan. It also covers the etiquette for blending in in Aztlan, including the rituals for the state-sponsored religion, the Path of the Sun.
- Black: African-American culture includes African-American Vernacular English and its own nuances of etiquette.
- Creole: A French/English hybrid spoken in the CAS.
- Milspec: Military jargon shared between soldiers/mercs.
- Lagosian: a pidgin language woven from English, Yoruba, Igbo, Awori, Hausa, and French. Feral Cities p65
Entirely nonhuman languages like Naga, Merrow, and Sasquatch remain a matter of great difficulty for panhuman linguists, and translation software is extremely crude. The most common languages on the streets of Seattle are English, Japanese, Salish dialects, Aztlaner Spanish, Russian, Korean, and (in some neighborhoods) Sperethiel.