Gated Community
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Basic Information

A gated community is a neighbourhood, suburb or even small village which is surrounded by a security perimeter and only accessible via a series of gates. These are usually fairly privileged locations - if only by the standards of their surroundings, but the category allows a fair bit of variation. An extreme form of gated community might even be located on an island1.

At the low end, it will consist of a few houses, surrounded by a wall with user operated access gates - these are actually fairly common - whilst at the top end (found mainly in cyberpunk dystopiae and the occasional third world hell-hole) you will find a belt of fortifications surrounding a small town with its own housing areas, offices and shopping mall(s) and protected by a paramilitary security force. In between are more securely fenced operations, often containing businesses of various kinds with their own guards (or at least gate keepers). In cyberpunk in particular a given community will often be the territory of a specific corporation and serve as a de-facto company town. The more dystopic the setting, the more closely movement to (and from) the community will be controlled and the higher the level of surveillance within. A true dystopia will also have the area outside the wall being an anarchic wasteland full of roving gangs of criminals and/or monsters and traversed by roads on which it is best not to break down or stop.

Historical ghettos played a similar role - these tended to be fortified wherever possible to protect against race riots and other unofficial harassment. In general these gates were more prone to be closed from the inside than outside, but it was not unknown for ghetto dwellers to be "confined to quarters" for various reasons.

Theoretically an arcology could serve more or less the same function given suitable access control. Indeed some portrayals of arcos show them as inaccessible from ground level and largely self contained.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • As noted, good for dystopiae, especially where grey and grey morality is in effect and the choices are between oppressive inside and barbaric outside.
  • Also likely strongholds of civilisation in a zombie apocalypse - or death-traps once the infectious variety of zombie gets inside.
  • Where access is strictly controlled, it makes sense for PCs to be in the sort of professions permitted more or less free access and egress - which should allow them to take jobs both for the powers that be inside and anyone hiring on the outside.
    • Alternatively, getting signed off for access might be an important sub-goal for an adventure (or even a campaign).
  • Technically a fortified town in a medieval setting is a gated community as well … introduce enough control by the trade guilds and you can even have a corporate enclave with little or no anachronism.
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