Livin' la Viva Las Vegas
The Overlords do not, in fact, control everybody in Las Vegas - they only control the important ones. Their rise to power was quick enough and came early enough in the Change for them to keep Las Vegas from suffering the fate of other major population centers. They were aided in this (albeit unintentionally) by the number of elderly patrons at the casinos and the general populace's intense focus on gambling. The elderly patrons didn't believe in magic, which created a damping effect on would-be wasters and mages. When people did begin developing magical powers, they were overwhelmingly focused on luck. A few of these people became super-lucky; the laws of probability ceased to apply to them, for the most part. These people later became known as "Teelas" after the character in Larry Nivin's Ringworld series. The Overlords noticed the amazing, improbable events that began to surround the Teelas and promptly Enthralled them. Between their powers and the Teelas, they took the city largely intact in a matter of days.
The majority of the population was unaffected by the Overlords' rise to power. It makes little difference who signs your check when you're sweeping toilets for a living. Laborers, domestics, and others in "unskilled" professions are very rarely Enthralled. They continue to work because they have little choice. If you want to earn a living in Vegas, there's only two ways to do it: work for a casino, or gamble at a casino.
Unemployment in Las Vegas is high - nearly 35% of the residents are looking for work. The Overlords keep it that way, since it keeps the free-willed in line and provides a ready supply of contestants for the Circus. The 'Entertainment' section provides more details on the Circus and other death sports.
Each of the major Overlords has a "demesne", an area or subject they have control of. Anyone wanting to engage in an activity involving a given demesne must purchase a license form the appropriate Overlord. Each license is good for one year.
Here are the demesnes of the different Overlords. Only Caesar has a proper
name. He prefers to be called "Mighty One" or "The Magnificent
Caesar" during audiences. Dropping the "Overlord of the"
part of their titles during audience with any of the greater Overlords
is frequently a killing offense. "Great One" or "Your Greatness"
are suggested forms of address.
Law and Justice
Most civil and criminal issues are resolved by Street Judges, members of the general police force who have a solid education in law. The Metro Police respond to incidents and determine if the incident is one that can be resolved by Street Justice or if Formal or High Justice is warranted. If an incident falls under Street Justice, a Street Judge responds and hears both sides of the incident and any eyewitnesses before issuing Judgment. Non-citizens have no right to appeal Street Justice. Most punishments are resolved by a fine, payment of restitution, or duel to first blood between the parties. The parties themselves must fight these duels, usually a knife fight. If a dispute is serious enough, a Street Judge can allow (or require) the parties to resolve their dispute on the 'Thunderdome' show.
Citizens have the right to demand Formal Justice if they are unsatisfied with Street Justice. Non-citizens receive Formal Justice automatically if they are accused of a capitol crime. Lawyers are not permitted in Street Justice or Formal justice.
Any offence against an Overlord is handled under High Justice. Defendants are allowed to hire a lawyer, due to the severity of the allegation. High Justice crimes include assaulting, injuring, or killing an Overlord outside of a formal challenge, slander against an Overlord, or liberating a Thrall without the consent of the controlling Overlord. The penalties range from Enthrallment to execution.
The 'Thunderdome' television show is broadcast nightly from the UNLV athletic center. The basketball court has been renovated into a deathmatch arena patterned after the Mad Max movie of the same name. Street Judges and the police are always on the lookout for potential "contestants". Combat is always to the death. Weapons and arena conditions are subject to change without notice in order to make each show interesting and bring in good ratings. If a dispute involves one or more female parties (especially attractive females of any race) and/or male parties who are large or dangerous-looking it is very likely that it will go to 'Thunderdome' unless the parties immediately settle the dispute and swear up and down that all issues are resolved to their mutual satisfaction.
Any obvious weapons are removed from the contestants, but the search is far from thorough. Magic use is perfectly legal in 'Thunderdome', as are any abilities the contestants have or weapons they manage to sneak in. The only thing strictly prohibited is outside help. Anyone caught aiding a contestant is either killed or sent to the Circus Maximus.
The final court of appeal in Las Vegas is the Overlord of the Las Vegas Hilton himself. He rarely listens to appeals on their own merits, but a considerable gratuity ($10,000/minute) will often gain his ear for a moment. He doesn't take bribes to change sentences, only to hear the appeal. If he feels the petitioner makes a good case, he will review the sentence and may or may not overturn it. Only Caesar can compel him to hear a case or enter a finding, and then only if the defendant is an Overlord.
The most prominent alliance is a three-way partnership between Caesar, the Overlord of the Bellagio, and the Overlord of the Las Vegas Hilton. Between them, they control the majority of the revenue sources in the city as well as the court system. Another alliance, between the Overlord of the Mirage, the Overlord of the Casino Royale, the Overlord of the Binion's Horseshoe and the Overlord of the Luxor, is challenging the Big Three, both politically and economically. Overtures have been made to integrate the two groups, but neither alliance is very interested.
The Overlord of the Harrah's has a strong alliance with the Overlord of the Bellagio and Sparky, the Overlord who runs the Hoover Dam. Sparky controls all of the electrical power to Las Vegas and he walks a very fine line of patronage and favoritism with all of the other Overlords. It is rumored (but not proven) that his patrons have very low usage records at the expense of their enemies; Sparky vigorously denies this accusation.
Most non-Thralls refer to the Overlords who are not part of either of these major alliances as the Underlords. Care should be taken when using this term, since it is considered slander and is good for a trip to the Circus if used imprudently. The Underlords resent the prominence of the two alliances and constantly scheme together to bring one or more of the major players down.
Race is another issue between the Overlords. All Overlords, regardless of their original species type, are considered to be of one race. A former Bengal tiger and a former leopard can crossbreed freely. Their markings are regarded in the same way as humans regard skin color - which has a fair number of negative consequences.
There are 247 Overlords, of which tigers are far and away the most numerous, at 129. Lions are the next most common at 67, with the various breeds of smaller cats making up the remaining 51. Well over 200 additional Overlords may exist around the world, products of their former owner's internationally renowned captive breeding program, but their fate is currently unknown.
Caesar, the most powerful of all the Overlords, is a white tiger. Although all Overlords are equal in theory, some Overlords are more equal than others in practice. Caesar's friends and his mate (the Overlord of the Binion's Horseshoe) got the most lucrative demesnes by standing together against the non-tiger Overlords. The only non-tiger among the major Overlords is the Overlord of the Bellagio, who is a white lion. The next highest-ranking non-tiger (aside from Sparky, who is a law unto himself) is his mate Sakkara, Overlord of Glitter Gulch. The tigers work together to keep the non-tigers from gaining any more power in the city. The lions scrabble for all the crumbs of power they can find while watching for any signs of weakness or impropriety among the tigers.
In both groups, white individuals have more power (mental and secular) than those with "plain" markings. All of the major Overlords are white. For all their political infighting, both the lions and the tigers will quickly pull together to keep the smaller cats from gaining any power at all. Finally, all Overlords are dedicated to making sure no non-Overlord gains any measure of political, economic, or social power in the Las Vegas region. The only area the Overlords do not overtly interfere in is religion. They tax it and make sure no one is actively preaching sedition, but other than that they leave churches alone.
Las Vegas remains "the entertainment capitol of the world", even after the Change. Most of the casino shows are still going on, all the casinos are open, and you can still get married by Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, or a Klingon (a real one, not an actor in makeup) if you want to. The buffets are a thing of the past but fine dining is still available if you have the chips for it.
All major deathsports are broadcast on the two surviving local television stations and the cable system. Locally produced "daytime dramas", major court cases, 'Thunderdome', and an occasional casino show are also broadcast. The Overlords want people to be happy and entertained after a hard day's work, so they put a great deal of effort into providing quality programming.
Not all programming is full of death and violence. 'Buffy the Waster Slayer' is a popular situation comedy that relies on black humor and levels of absurdity reminiscent of Monty Python to bring a little laughter to the post-Change audience. The show's title character is an over-the-top, ass-kicking Special Forces barbarian princess charged with protecting a small farming settlement from the dangers of the Change. Her sidekick is equal parts Marty Feldman and Janeane Garofalo, with a John Cleese chaser. The actress in the title role is a former professional wrestler with a small amount of pre-Change acting experience; her sidekick was an up-and-coming comedienne who had just begun receiving recognition and some better engagements.
'The Palace' is a dramatic series that slavishly follows in the footsteps of 'The West Wing' as it presents a romanticized version of the operation of Caesar's government. It's obviously an ego-vehicle, since Caesar appears as himself in almost every episode, but it does have good writers and usually manages to avoid becoming a propaganda mouthpiece for Caesar.
Educational programming is available on cable, as is a full home schooling curriculum. Survival skills, cooking, home repair, and vehicle maintenance how-to shows are also very popular cable offerings. Other cable channels broadcast locally produced adult films and pay-per-view live sex shows.
Of all the available entertainment programs, it is the death sports that have the most viewers. Las Vegas is still a city of gamblers, and people bet heavily on the outcomes. For the contestants, deathsports offer a chance to become wealthy and admired, or to gain citizenship for themselves and their families. Many of the contestants are desperately hungry or sick. Faced with a slow, lingering death, many see dying swiftly in the arena as a merciful alternative.
The deathsports industry is called the Circus; it encompasses everything from prize shows to automobile combat to the Circus Maximus itself: a revival of the Roman coliseum games. 'Thunderdome' is not considered part of the Circus - it falls under the judicial system.
One of the most popular events in the Circus is obstacle racing. Both individual and team competitions are held, daily for individuals and weekly for the team events. Team events are also held on special occasions and holidays. The basic concept is the same for either type of competition: dodge deadly traps and obstacles, collect prizes and cash, and try to beat the other racers to the finish line. The prizes vary in value according to how dangerous the obstacle is, from $500.00 for Russian Grenade Roulette (pick a grenade out of a box, pull the pin, and drop it at your feet. Five times out of six, it's a dummy. Choose poorly, and it's live) to $50,000 for Tenpins (the contestant has to run up the length of a giant's bowling alley, 100 yards, while the giant tries to hit you with three-foot thick spiked bowling balls). Despite the risks, there are always contestants waiting in line outside the arena every morning.
Old-fashioned gladiatorial games comprise the bulk of the events in the Circus. The Circus Maximus is held weekly at the UNLV stadium. The only limitation on what events are held there is the Overlords' prohibition on events involving animals. No animals are used in any deathsport; the contestants must be able give informed consent to enter the games.
Anyone may enter the Circus Maximus at any time, as long as they are adults who are not intoxicated or under the influence of magic. Prize money is awarded based on how good the contestant is, how much of a show they provided, and how much the audience liked them.
Fighting robots are pitted against each other in weekly contests, as a replacement for animal bloodsports. The only restriction on a fighting robot's weapons and armor is that weapons cannot be missiles or grenades. All parts that come away from the robot must stay inside the arena until the end of the match. Laser cutters, flamethrowers, acid sprays, and giant cutting wheels have all been used at one point or another. Prize money for each tournament is based on the number of contestants that enter.
Automotive combat takes place on the site of an unfinished casino on the south side of the town. Construction had just begun on the foundation when the Change hit and there is little interest in finishing it. It's little more than a muddy hole in the ground with several partially poured sections of concrete - an ideal environment for autoduelling. Amateur Night is the only exception to the "bring your own vehicle" policy. Amateur Night gives aspiring road warriors a chance to win a small prize (typically $500.00) if the are the last driver with a functional vehicle. Killing the other opponents is not prohibited, but the death rate is very low due to the inexperience of most drivers.
Prizes for regular events go up with the skill level of the combatants and the relative combat abilities of their vehicle. The 2005 championship event paid the winner $3,000,000 in chips, on top of the prizes for the preceding events.
Military heavy armor is not permitted in the arena, but most other vehicles are. In practical terms, a bus or tractor-trailer rig are the biggest vehicles admitted into combat. Military weapons are permitted as a general rule; only NBC weapons, artillery, and MBT main guns are specifically prohibited. Other weapons are at the referee's discretion. Frequently, combatants show up with experimental or prototype weapons that skirt the rules to the very edge. Almost always, the response is the audience's favorite phrase: "I'll allow it!"
The last major form of gladiatorial combat is Magewar. It differs from the Circus Maximus only in that the gladiators are mages. Magewar combatants frequently specialize in flashy spells that are intended to delight the audience as well as damage their foe. Magewar has the lowest bodycount of all the bloodsports due to the tendency of combatants to surrender when they recognize that they are low on energy. The Master of the Games is loath to lose mages, since good ones are hard to find. Humiliating the loser in some crowd-pleasing fashion is far more common.
If two mages are arrested for offenses that would normally send them to 'Thunderdome', their combat takes place in the Magewar arena. It is broadcast as a "very special episode" of 'Thunderdome' and all the usual lack of rules apply. In this case, at least one of the combatants will die.
The premise of 'Climbing for Dollars' is simple. The contestants climb different items - ladders, ropes, rock faces, etc., while collecting cash and avoiding dangers. The higher you go, the more money you win. Attack dogs, crocodiles, bears, big cats, and snipers are common hazards.
'You Bet Your Life' gives contestants a chance to win big prizes if they can extricate themselves from a life-threatening situation, such as defusing a bomb in less than 60 seconds or answering three riddles from a hungry sphinx. Other events have included trying to unlock handcuffs while chained at the bottom of a swimming pool or put on a parachute while in free fall. Prizes range from $50,000 to over a million for one contestant who survived crucifixion for three days. Most of the contestants are either extremely cocky or very desperate, since the show accepts all applicants and has an 80% mortality rate. Anyone wanting to compete is welcome to walk into the studio and apply. Once they sign their release and a will, they draw an event from a hat and read it to the camera. The event begins immediately; anyone trying to run is declared to have forfeited their stake (which is, after all, their life) and they are shot dead.
'Truth And Consequences' straps a contestant into an electric chair and hooks them up to a lie detector. The studio audience asks them questions (mostly rude, personal, and sexually oriented) and their response is gauged against answers their family and friends (in a separate room) give to the same questions. Each question is has both a cash value and a voltage amount. If the responses are the same and the contestant is being truthful, they win the cash value of that question. If the answers are different, or if the contestant lies, the chair's voltage is raised by the voltage amount of the question and the contestant gets a shock. If they survive 20 audience questions, they win a variety of prizes. The most famous episode was broadcast shortly after the Change. The contestant had a record of spousal abuse and had beaten his wife the night before in order to "teach her the right answers".
Once he was strapped in, his wife took off her wedding ring and threw it into the audience. When asked, "When was the last time you had sex?" he answered (correctly) that it had been the day before. His wife answered that she was a virgin and that she had never seen him before in her life.
The rest of her answers were similar - none had any relationship to the truth. He died on question 17, and the show's ratings skyrocketed. The new widow received a position on Caesar's staff and all the prizes her husband had been competing for. The show still enjoys high ratings and is a common subject of 'water-cooler' conversations.
An attempt at a revival of 'Survivor' was short-lived but very popular. A group of 16 people were dropped into the middle of the desert with little more than clothes and survival knives. One of the contestants began killing the others one at a time as they slept. By the end of the fourth day all the contestants were at each other's throats, and all but two (including the original killer) were dead by the seventh day. The last two managed to poison one another and died in agony within minutes of each other. The Overlords decided a second season was a bad idea.
Vegas would not be Vegas without gambling. Gambling built it, and gambling keeps it going in the aftermath of the Change. Although the dollar ceased to have value as a currency with the collapse of the Federal government, money is eternal. Casino chips have become the official currency of Las Vegas. Pre-Change coinage is still legal tender. Currency, scrip, and coinage of the various major powers can be exchanged for chips at all casinos. Members of the Federal military with identification may exchange paper dollars (which are still used in areas under Federal control), but only for chips, never for other currencies. When they are ready to leave the Las Vegas region, their chips are converted back to paper dollars.
The casino games themselves are unchanged. The major difference in gambling offerings is seen in the sports book area. Very few purely athletic events exist anymore; the majority of the betting traffic concerns the Circus.
The high-roller is still fawned over. Anyone entering the VIP area of any major casino would see very little difference between the pre- and post-Change versions. For them, comps and perks are still part of the Las Vegas experience. The supreme high-rollers, the Whales, are treated as living gods. Entry to this exclusive club is based on how much you have (5 million is a good starting point) and how much you gamble.
Being caught cheating a casino is normally punished by crucifixion.
The Oldest Profession has finally been legalized in Clark County. The major casinos all have a personal services staff available to meet their guests' needs around the clock. There are independents that work the streets and make incalls, but they are not allowed into the casinos unless physically accompanied by a casino guest.
Escorts must be licensed and are assessed a percentage of their earnings as a tax. The Overlords do not permit minors of any race to become escorts. Anyone soliciting sex with a minor receives a fair trial, followed by a first -class crucifixion. Although the Overlords are happy to profit from the sexual slavery of adults, they see children of all races as being no different from their own cubs, and mating is not a thing for children to be doing.
The Overlords normally don't Enthrall their escort staff, since thralls tend to have less initiative and creativity than the free-willed. One notorious exception to this rule is the Overlord of the Excalibur, who keeps his escorts tightly Enthralled. He cares little for what happens to most of them at the hands of his guests; his attitude comes down to, "You break it, you bought it".
He is pressing Caesar and the Overlord of the Hard Rock to grant him the demesne of pornography, which currently is a joint venture of the Overlords of the Bellagio and the Mirage. The Overlord of the Aladdin joins them in opposing creation of this new demesne. She feels that the Overlord of the Excalibur's plan to branch out into pay-per-view live snuff broadcasts should be classed as deathsports and that she should receive royalties from them.
There is no shortage of independent escorts in Las Vegas; hunger is a powerful aphrodisiac. Most of the independents aspire to a position on a casino's personal services staff. Few ever succeed. The best situation the others can aspire to is to become a body slave to a Whale or other high-roller. These positions carry a great deal of prestige, due in no small part to the fact that personal slaves of all kinds are usually well treated. They eat regularly, sleep in beds, have showers, and have access to healing magic if they need it. It's not really a pleasant life, but it beats dying of starvation and disease.
Some slaves have been magically manipulated into creatures of sexual fantasy. Some were transformed willingly, mostly those on a casino's professional staff. Most of the others hate what they have been turned into and are desperately seeking a way to return to their true forms. Famous celebrities, green Orion slave girls, and breasts the size of volleyballs are common transformations. Glitter Gulch features the greatest number of "sculpts" in the city. Staff mages are available 24/7 to reshape escorts to appear as any one of a huge variety of movie and television stars, political figures, or personal acquaintances. The transformations take a matter of minutes and are permanent until changed again. Custom sculpting can be done to any slave if their owner has enough money.
As previously mentioned, chips are now the standard currency in Las Vegas. Anyone entering the city for the first time must go to the Mandalay Bay to purchase a license to buy and sell. The casino runs a medium-sized market where newcomers can convert currency or trade goods into chips.
After that, the stores are open.
All currency conversions are subject to a 5% handling fee.
Currency Name Currency/Chip Exchange Rate
The Overlords take careful note of which currencies road traders will and will not accept, and base the conversion rates on relative values for specific commodities, namely gasoline, wheat, 9mm ammunition, and penicillin. Preference is given to hard currencies, since coins are more difficult to produce and counterfeit than scrip or other paper money.
The Free City of Pahrump attempted to use leather rectangles with the words "Elephant Fart" and a denomination embossed into them as currency, despite the obvious counterfeiting issue. The Overlords accepted $10,000 worth of $100 "fart notes" from the first delegation to present them and converted them to chips without comment. The delegation won heavily at the baccarat tables and decided to cash out. They asked for Ka dollars, but were advised that none were available, nor were any other currencies. The cashier handed them a stack of $1,000 "fart notes" - a denomination that had never been printed. Casino security from the Mandalay Bay escorted them out of the city "to protect their winnings" and invited them to return anytime. Pahrump quickly accepted the chip as its official currency.
Barter values for different commodities can vary somewhat in individual transactions. Over time, though, the Mandalay Bay Office of Trade has compiled a fairly accurate guide to the relative values of a number of goods. Las Vegas merchants can still charge what they wish for their goods. Wise traders obtain a current price guide before going shopping and do not hesitate to challenge unreasonable prices. Unless a sudden shortage develops, most merchants will revise their prices down.
Price guides are available by request at the Mandalay Bay and cost $100 to $1,000 each, depending on how many commodities the buyer wants information on.
.44 mag., 1 dz $ 60.00
Drugs and Medicines
Antibiotics, 1 week $ 7,000.00 3
Chicken, laying $ 250.00
Condoms, each $ 5.00 2