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Basic Information

A squat is any property which is occupied without the leave of the person with title to it - this will normally mean a piece of land or a building occupied by indigent people, but can include legitimate attempts to gain adverse possession of disputed land.

The typical squat is a derelict building - sometimes a former residential structure, sometimes industrial or commercial - occupied by homeless people. Long term squatting will only tend to occur in jurisdictions where squatters have some legal protection, or in places where it is not cost effective to remove them - otherwise, lacking in legal rights, they can be removed by various forms of summary action. Squatting of non-derelict properties is rare and tends to be reacted to more aggressively - if someone is trying to use a property, they are likely to object to it filling up with squatters. In many parts of the world it is normal for slum neighbourhoods to be, essentially, a massive exercise in squatting.

Dereliction, and lack of legal title tend to mean that squats lack - and tend to struggle to gain - even basic amenities. In some times and places, squatters may display a pioneer spirit and keep the place up to the best of their ability - in others, a combination of whatever factors lead to them being indigent in the first place and a traditional lack of care for that which does not belong to them lead to the squat degenerating into a filthy pit. In between will generally lie various strata of filth, poverty and squalor.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • PCs returning from an adventure may find that their property has become infested as per Wind in the Willows. In some cases, legal remedies will be effective, in others, direct action will be far more sensible.
  • Extensive squatter-towns may be a sign of economic collapse (like the Hoovervilles of the US) or may be a sign of poorly regulated growth (as in India or South America).
  • Being traditionally lawless, a squat will tend to be the sort of place to find low level criminals and fugitives from justice - petty dealers in recreational drugs, stolen goods and other black market goods are liable to be found here, together with prostitutes and other low grade offenders.
    • Archetypal teenage runaways tend to be found here as well.
  • Entering a squat will mean contending with (typically) unsafe, poorly lit and chaotically laid out buildings inhabited by desperate and often crazed or intoxicated people who don't respond well to scrutiny. A (apparent) fellow indigent will probably be assessed in terms of whether they are predator, prey or ally, the better dressed may be divided between potential victims and law enforcement … perhaps the safest people will be anyone who can pass for a professional criminal: no immediate threat but too dangerous to bother.
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