Deadlands Reloaded: Lost in the Maze
Imagine what Chinatown is like wherever you live, then imagine an entire city just like that, and you’ve got a good picture of Shan Fan. Some people call it New Shanghai, or the Maze’s City of Jade.
The trip from Lost Angels north to Shan Fan—popularly known as the China Run—takes anywhere from a day to three days, depending on your captain’s navigational skills and what happens along the way. Since there’s no easy access to Shan Fan from the Pacific, most steamers enter the Maze at Lost Angels, then take the North Channel to the city. The Maze being even more dangerous than the open seas, a successful landing at Shan Fan is never guaranteed.
Shan Fan is run by the Hsieh Chia Jên, which means “Family of Deliverance.” Most people just call it the Shan Fan Triad.
Big Ears Tam
When old San Francisco was smashed to flinders in the Great Quake, the race was on to see who would replace it. Constructed by Chinese immigrants, Shan Fan initially served as a home for the multitudes arriving from China, but soon became a haven for miners and salvagers who craved a venue less pious than Grimme’s Lost Angels. With that influx of miners came a steady stream of wealth.
The triad, run by “Big Boss” Big Ears Tam, is the only authority that has ever ruled in Shan Fan, and despite activities that would be considered illegal (at best) anywhere else, frequent bloody turf wars between kung fu tongs, and scheming and maneuvering among lieutenants, the Shan Fan Triad remains one of the most well-respected authorities in all the Maze.
Just as Lost Angels has its tales of angelic hosts, Shan Fan is lately rumored to be a den of Chinese demons. Certain sources who wish to remain anonymous report kung fu tongs accompanied by eight-foot-tall beasts possessed of paper-white skin and bulging eyes in their foreheads. The stories haven’t been confirmed, but tourists ought to exercise caution regardless.
Shan Fan is divided into several districts, and you’ll want to be able to tell them apart so you don’t end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The city is spread out above Shan Fan Bay, with streets originating at the Waterfront and fanning out into the hills over town. The Waterfront is where visitors are most likely to arrive, amidst the many sampans, junks, and steam-vessels that frequent this busy harbor.
Next door is Stinktown, where the dirty work is done. Slaughterhouses abound in this meat capital of the northern Maze. To the north you’ll find Red Lantern Town, a wild neighborhood of saloons and pleasure palaces, where a miner can let his hair down and throw back a few whiskies after long weeks out on some God forsaken mesa.
Taeltown is Shan Fan’s financial district, and the place where most of the triad’s Bosses make their homes. Splintertown is the heart of the northern Maze’s lumber industry and the destination for millions of redwoods and sequoias from Kwan Province. Finally there is Prawn Valley, the odor of which competes with Stinktown on a hot day, where fish of all kinds are processed for food and oil. Much of the city’s Chinese population dwells here as well.
Three large islands sit in Shan Fan Bay—Angelfish Island, Sweat Island, and the Isle of Ghost’s Tears. Angelfish Island was the local source of ghost rock until it was completely mined out; now that industry has moved on to Sweat Island next door. Travelers are warned to give the Isle of Ghost’s Tears a wide berth—according to locals in Red Lantern Town, it really is haunted!
Shan Fan’s triad isn’t the only one. The Warlord Mu-T’uo Kwan runs a powerful triad of his own from his formidable base at Fort Norton. The fort is so-named for the triad’s putative leader, a white man and known eccentric who calls himself Emperor Joshua Norton I. Whether he wields any real power is unknown.
No matter who he’s got leading it, Kwan’s organization is nothing to scoff at. Kwan Province is made up of all those towns that pay tribute to the General, and he maintains an army of nearly 1600 Chinese immigrants, outlaws, Mexican expatriates, and Indian braves. Recently Kwan’s been expanding into other cities and chafing with other triads.
New Tomorrow Triad
The communal cities of the New Tomorrow triad—New Opportunity, Harmony, and Goodwill—are models of tolerance. Here Chinese immigrants live side by side with members of displaced Indian tribes, all contributing to the welfare of their communities and attempting to trade openly with others.
Tai-Shou Ch’uan, the triad’s founder and dogged leader, seeks to silence his critics with success—but his critics are many and vocal. The message of New Tomorrow is that everyone must work together to succeed, and first and foremost this means Chinese immigrants must assimilate to American ways. Tai-Shou preaches that the Chinese can succeed on American terms, and that it behooves them to do so.
That the New Tomorrow Triad has three settlements under its banner is a testament to the resonance of its message. But they have a lot of work to do, between the hidebound Chinese traditionalists and prejudiced Americans who speak out against them.
Even the Warlord Kang has a triad of his own, competing with the others for control of vices up and down the coast. Though the leaders of Kang’s Triad are probably based in Lion’s Roar—even we don’t know for sure—they do most of their business (and, it’s said, spend most of their time) in the shantytown east of Lost Angels called Ghost Town. Between his pirate operations, Iron Dragon’s bid to secure Lost Angels, and his triad’s illegal activities, the Warlord Kang is a safe bet to take control of the Great Maze with an iron grip should other authorities fumble their power.