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Basic Information

A flophouse (also called a dosshouse) is, essentially, bottom tier housing for the more or less completely destitute. It is, at least, a step up from illegal or vagrant living (as in a squat or jungle yard or directly on the streets), but is still traditionally pretty dire and will typically involve paying more rent than the accomodation really justifies. The best flophouses have actual beds with screens between them - sometimes even cagelike structures which the users can lock to give some measure of security. Others will be more like an overcrowed barrack or dormitory whilst lower classes still simple provide a matress on the floor (or just floorspace). A particularly low kind, now pretty much extinct, was the three-rope flophouse where patrons were expected to sleep slung across a series of ropes (typically three) … apparently there was a technique to hooking yourself on to avoid falling off onto the people on the next series of ropes below, and it was still better than the type of establishment where you were expected to sleep standing up, hooked over a single rope. In all likelihood, only extreme exhaustion or drunkeness would have allowed anything like normal sleep.

Expect sanitary facilities in general to be somewhere between inadequate and non-existant and catering facilities much the same - some doss houses might provide some kind of food thrown in (probably over priced and of low quality) but in most would not. Vermin are also to be expected - rats and cockroaches for example, not to mention the various fleas and bodylice which are inevitable around large concentrations of people with inadequate resources for personal hygiene. Add in exhaustion and malnutrition and disease is likely to be rife as well. Long term dossers might well form a sort of urban tribe, leaving elderly or infirm members to watch their possessions (and possibly children as well) and perhaps cook or clean up during the day (always assuming the landlord doesn't throw everyone out into the street every morning).

The coffin hotel fulfills much of this function twenty minutes into the future and later.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • This is where PCs live when their players don't care to pay living costs and spend all of their money on adventuring gear. Feel free to inflict the consequences on them - fatigue penalties, disease and whatever social and reputational effects seem amusing.
  • These are also standard furniture for the bad part of pretty much any city ever, whether the Roman Subara, 19th Century London's St Giles rookery or the sub decks of some 30th century arcology.
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