The Playing Field
There are six major sectors of Influence which are each represented in the game’s four urban regions, each of which have several sub-regions. You can use the +Influence command in any grid location to quickly note any particularly relevant geographic, demographic or historical factors that will potentially affect Influence resolution and arbitration.
- Academia: Examples: R&D, Occult, University
- Business: Examples: Finance, Industry, Pharmaceutical, Entertainment
- Community: Examples: Church, Media, Neighborhood Culture
- Crime: Examples: Underworld, Street Gangs
- Government: Examples: Bureaucracy, Health, Political
- Security: Examples: Legal, Police, Transportation
There are currently three major ‘urban regions’ where the Influence system is concerned. The Westside and Central L.A. comprise the beating heart and soul of Los Angeles, with the rest of the Greater Los Angeles area from Ventura County to Orange County often struggling to both cleave to and reap the economic dividends and pull away to maintain their autonomy at the same time.
The Southlands represents a vast sprawl of what in the popular media is commonly portrayed as a vast wasteland of gangs, ghettos, ugly industrial zones and tacky, resentful semi-independent cities like Gardena, Long Beach and Torrance. It is mostly occupied by NPC factions at game start, yet available for characters to try and penetrate.
East L.A & the San Gabriel Valley would ordinarily constitute a fourth major region, but they are not available for PCs to acquire Influence at this time.
The Westside: Affluent and influential, the Westside is pure L.A. glamour. Even Westside neighborhoods have as much fame as the celebrities who live in them: Brentwood, Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, The Bird Streets and West Hollywood just to name a few. It’s a place of movie stars and movie moguls, swimming pools and sports cars, all flocking there for the world-famous cultural institutions, hotels, shopping and global cuisines. It’s where those who have made their fortunes elsewhere choose to retreat from the world behind long, sinuous gated driveways, high fences and a legion of private security.
Beneath its sunny exterior, the Westside is riven with entrenched and increasingly insular local interest groups, most of whom are increasingly out of touch with the vast majority of their fellow citizens. There is an undeniable tinge of hypocrisy where well-off, progressive UCLA alumni and tiny dog toting celebrity-activists turn a blind eye to the aggressive tactics used to keep their manicured sidewalks clean of unwanted human detritus. The privileged sons and daughters of the Westside elite are more likely to be gently escorted home to their wealthy, connected parents by the Beverly Hills PD than to suffer any legal consequences from an underage, drunken joy ride.
Sub-Regions: Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, The Palisades & Malibu
Central Los Angeles: Central Los Angeles is the ‘left brain’ to the Westside’s right brain. It is a landscape of soaring skyscrapers, alternately flourishing and decaying commercial districts and high density housing. It is dominated as much by the interests of government and corporate elites as it is by powerful ethnic enclaves such as Koreatown, Chinatown or Little Tokyo in ways that are simply not mirrored in the more glamorous Westside. Whereas the Westside enjoys several ‘independent’ Police Departments, the LASD rapid reaction teams and nearly a billion dollars of private security investment, an often scandal-plagued LAPD is forced to meet the challenges of increasingly endemic homelessness, gang activity and street crime on its own. Despite that, Central Los Angeles is one of the most economically vibrant hotspots in the entire country with booming commercial arteries that extend from Downtown L.A. to the west along Hollywood, Santa Monica, Wilshire and Pico Boulevards.
Hollywood occupies an exciting nexus where the ruthless business culture of Downtown Los Angeles and the dreamy disconnection of the Westside merge and blend into each other. However, even though Hollywood exports the superficial imagery and philosophy of the Westside to the rest of the world, it remains at heart a dedicated worshipper of Mammon. There is nowhere in Los Angeles where the bottom line – and all of its myriad concerns from relatively benign brand marketing to semi-sinister kowtowing to foreign governments – rules more hearts and minds than Hollywood.
The San Fernando Valley, whose somewhat odd attachment to Los Angeles City resembles more of a feudal conquest than a natural outgrowth, was acquired under incredibly shady circumstances during the Water Wars of the early 20th Century. San Fernando Valley has a lot of people in it – and it tends to be where most middle-class-ish Angelenos live before commuting to work. Perhaps oddly for its size, wealth and often belligerently ignorant suburban population, it possesses a shocking lack of political autonomy. Its voting districts have been carved up in often inventive ways by the L.A. City Council to ensure the San Fernando Valley can never quite throw its weight around. Even in 2020, there are some parts of the ‘Valley’ where you can still see a truck equipped with a Confederate flag and a gun rack – an odd juxtaposition given the Valley’s historical fame for its gargantuan porn industry.
Sub-Regions: Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, Hollywood, The San Fernando Valley, and Glendale.
The Southlands: If you ask most any American, the ‘Southlands’ vaguely refers to anywhere in the American Southwest that doesn’t snow in the winter. If you ask most Californians, the Southlands refers to just about everywhere south of San Francisco. If you ask most SoCal natives, the Southlands is pretty much everywhere in the Greater Los Angeles metro, including Orange County and San Bernardino (to their horror) yet emphatically not including San Diego. If you ask an L.A native, the Southlands is often described in a hazy fashion as everywhere between south of the Santa Monica Freeway and San Pedro Bay. It covers parts of Los Angeles City like South L.A. often seen in movies (and real life) as a hopeless gang-plagued wasteland and San Pedro, whose quirky, ribbon-like thread connecting it to DTLA is a remnant of the early 20th century ‘Water Wars’ that saw Los Angeles City make a determined push for the Pacific Coast, culminating in the Port of Los Angeles.
The Southlands also includes huge swathes of South Bay and the Gateway Cities, which range from productive or vaguely trendy areas like Long Beach or Palos Verdes, to semi-independent cities like Compton, Watts, Inglewood and Torrance who helped Los Angeles County earn the sobriquet of the gang, murder, drug and bank robbery capital of America.
Sub-Regions: South L.A., South Bay, Gateway Cities & The Harbor Region