Life in Detroit?


New member
Dec 15, 2009
So I'm in the process of building a game for a modern time role playing game, and I figured it'd be kind nice to set in Detroit, mainly because of the image it has has a lawless wasteland since its bankruptcy.

So the question is... is it really? I mean how 'bad' is it over there?

You hear story about no more police, no fire fighters, no electricity in several part of the city. Abandonned building and high crime rate and some people turning vacant lot/parks into farms and fields... but quite often, things that make it to the news are just the most catchy and outlandish thing.

So what's Detroit like?


Mad Max 2019
Feb 18, 2013
Not from there, but I've been a few times (usually when travelling through Windsor to Chicago) and it seemed to have a lot of run down areas compared to, well, anything.

As a setting for an rpg, I don't think it would be particularly interesting to use in lue of the more stereotypical image of the place. Go big or go home and make it a Gotham without the super-villains.


New member
Feb 10, 2008
Zontar said:
As a setting for an rpg, I don't think it would be particularly interesting to use in lue of the more stereotypical image of the place. Go big or go home and make it a Gotham without the super-villains.
Shadowrun does an awesome job with Chicago, though sadly it doesn't do Chicago much good. Because, well, it's sort of infested with malicious insect spirits and shit like that, quarantined and pretty much a wasteland ruled by gangs.

So, y'know, just like real life!



Oxy Moron
Apr 5, 2020
down a well
Detroit is the 39th best city in the world for quality of life


New member
Mar 8, 2010
It depends on what part your talking about really. You have the city proper which has it really rundown areas that pretty much define the term urban blight and other areas like around he stadium and downtown that look ok. Than you have the suburbs which also can range from good like Canton to worse than the city itself like Inkster.

For your kind of story you might want to look into the areas that are worst off and go from there. I only worked in the southwest side and that was a pretty dismal and nasty place. the area I worked in was by the River rouge which is so polluted that it stinks and the waters are a bizarre shade of green. In the lead up and during the Superbowl 2006 along the I-94 they had to put up tarps along the highway to hide several large sections of buildings to hide that they were burned out abandoned ruins.


Madness to my Methods
Feb 28, 2010
I've been through there a few times, I live a stones throw from Flint. You have a large industrial waste section with broken out windows and abandoned complexes, then you have the rundown places like the Michigan Theater which are sitting there, and broken down, yet still manage to hold their magnificent architecture. Then you have the city itself, which looks old, but functions like any other city.

The main things I would say about it is that Deus Ex didn't capture the feeling at all. And that you should Google "detroit urban exploring". There was a book I had a while ago that showed some amazing shots of destroyed schools, churches, and hospitals look like now. I'll link some of the best. I really like the last one, probably because it's creepy. There are tons of pics though.



Not So Defunct Now
Mar 30, 2010
It was pretty bad in the past, but some recent changes in the police department are making it seem like Detroit's future may be looking up!

Ok... so I've never been in Detroit. Someone had to do it though.

Good luck, OP.


New member
Jun 29, 2013
I wouldn't be caught dead outside of downtown Detroit, but Downtown is fine.
Dec 10, 2012
Detroit is, at present, a relatively small downtown center that is actually a really nice place, surrounded by a sprawling mess of urban decay.

Downtown Detroit has nice hotels, big casinos, two excellent sports stadiums right next to each other, and many of the unique small businesses and eateries that any large city will be full of. It's a few square miles of well-developed, well-maintained city life, and there is a lot to recommend it.

But outside the single area of affluence, Detroit is mile upon mile of abandoned complexes, shady backstreets, and gravel lawns. It is a very sad thing to drive through the Detroit neighborhoods and see how a once great city can decay so badly.

And yes, Detroit is a dangerous place. It's no longer 'the murder capitol of the world' as people used to erroneously call it. But if you're going to walk through the neighborhoods at night, you are going to want to be with a lot of friends and even maybe have a weapon on you.


AccursedT- see you space cowboy
Jun 6, 2013
It's probably pretty shitty, but I'm sure it's not as bad as all that.

If I were you, I'd set it in parody version of Detroit. Sort of tongue in cheek. Have it be so over the top that no one takes it seriously, but still address real issues. Kind of like Fallout 3 and Washington.