Earth in Champions Online follows the precedent of the mainstream comics companies like DC and Marvel, in that it's essentially the same as the real world in terms of modern history, society, and geopolitics; just modified to account for the presence of superhumans. But those comics also often include cities and even whole nations in places where no such things exist in reality, and Champions is no different there, either. Fictional countries allow story tellers to create locations, character backgrounds, and plotlines unfettered by the restrictions of the real world. I've noticed that quite a few CO players are unaware of the countries added to this setting, and the potential they provide; so I thought it might be helpful to offer a summary of them here.
The countries I'm including in this list are known to the general public of the world at large, although most people don't know any more about them than they do about any other foreign country. They are all populated mostly by normal people with the same priorities as anyone else, and are an integrated part of geopolitical affairs. Champions Earth has quite a few places which are full of nonhuman or superhuman people, and/or are hidden from public awareness; but they could fill another list by themselves.
The information below is culled primarily from the PnP book, Champions Universe (both the current and previous editions, since there are a few differences in what they cover), with supplementary data drawn from Champions Universe: News Of The World, Champions Worldwide, UNTIL: Defenders Of Freedom, Millennium City, Book Of The Destroyer and DEMON: Servants Of Darkness. The entries start with what's commonly known about these countries, including what government intelligence agencies in the free world believe or suspect about them; followed by the truth of these beliefs and any deeper secrets known only to a few.
So, let's go places:
Awad, a small nation on the Saudi peninsula, between Yemen and Oman on the Indian Ocean, is becoming an increasing world security problem. The sheiks of Awad, most of whom are closely related to its ironfisted ruler Thamar el-Hiri, are incredibly wealthy thanks to their country’s vast oil deposits, and care little for how their actions affect others if they can increase their own power and bank accounts. Harsh Muslim fundamentalists, they intensely dislike Western culture in general and the United States in particular, and have for years funded numerous terrorist organizations. Awad supported Iraq during the Gulf War and Iraq War.
Awad is in effect a dictatorship, with Sultan Thamar el-Hiri controlling all aspects of public (and, as much as possible, private) life. The shari’ah (Islamic law) is strictly enforced, and stringent efforts are made to stamp out all Western influences. Maiming and the death penalty are common punishments, even for infractions that would be considered relatively minor in the West. Visitors are usually watched, even followed, wherever they go. Despite these policies, most Awadis are relatively happy, since the government uses petroleum profits to guarantee every citizen a minimum level of income.
In recent decades Awad has invested extensively in technology, ranging from computers to bio-engineering. As a result, today it’s considered one of the centers of world technological development, though many high-tech firms deal with it reluctantly (if at all) due to its repressive political climate. Some Western officials fear that the Awadis use their high-tech expertise to equip terrorists with weapons and devices that would otherwise be well beyond the reach of most such groups. They also suspect strong ties between Awad and ARGENT and VIPER.
Western suspicions about Awad’s connection to supercriminal groups are well-founded. For years Awad’s worked closely with both ARGENT and VIPER, providing a haven from extradition for some of their personnel in exchange for cash and technology, allowing them to build special labs and facilities there, and so forth. Recently relationships with VIPER have been strained since the Awadis suspect (correctly) that VIPER took advantage of the chaos during the Iraq War to steal some Awadi technological secrets. As a result, the alliance with ARGENT has become even stronger.
Rumors about a past joint Iraqi-Awadi program to create superhumans are true. Using a secret lab built in Awad (to avoid U.N. observers in Iraq), Saddam Hussein and Sultan Thamar el-Hiri had hoped to custom-build enough superhuman soldiers to avenge Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf War, take over the Middle East, and establish a chokehold on much of the world’s oil supplies. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for the world), the program’s only true success was Saddam Hussein's former superhumanly strong personal bodyguard, whom he referred to as Turs al-Sh’ab ("Shield Of The People"). Many failures were dropped in the deep desert to die. The program has been suspended due to the overthrow of Hussein’s regime and the presence of American military personnel in the region, but it’s possible Awad may try to resurrect it with help from ARGENT. Dr. Bohuslav Strasky, who headed UNTIL's own largely-failed attempt to manufacture superhumans, the "Future Soldier Program," has secretly been offered millions by Awad to bring his expertise to that nation. The sultan has a few other hired superhumans on his payroll.
The favorite brother of the Sultan of Awad is an informant in the pay of Dr. Destroyer, although probably not knowingly -- Destroyer's agents lead most of his informants to believe they're providing assistance to organized crime, rival nations, or the like.
Chiquador is a small nation on the Atlantic coast of South America, wedged between French Guiana and Brazil. It was a member of the United Nations from 1960 until 1979, when the democratically-elected government of Presidente Pablo Somohardo was overthrown in a miltary coup by General Lorenco João Garrastazu e Silva. Garrastazu made himself President For Life, installed a "cabinet" of his cronies from the army, and declared that Chiquador was resigning from the UN. In power since that time, he has conducted a military buildup that worries the other nations in the region. Garrastazu maintains a relatively massive army, particularly on his borders, and periodically threatens shipping lanes in the area, or threatens to declare war on his neighbors. As yet he has made no moves to use his army and air force, but he must have something in mind for them, given the money and attention he spends on them. A lot of observers, including many in the United States, keep a nervous eye on events in Macapa (the nation's capital).
By Chiquadoran law, all native superhumans must register with and work for the government, on pain of imprisonment or execution. The only publicly-revealed superhuman actually working for the Chiquadoran government is El Grifo Rojo (“the Red Griffin”), a flying brick whom some observers say is as powerful as Charm Girl of Japan.
Garrastazu is now in his mid-seventies and generally believed to be ill and mentally unstable. The CIA thinks most governmental decisions are made by his Minister of Affairs, Alejandro Subano, who may have contacts within either VIPER or ARGENT. Needless to say, UNTIL, PRIMUS, and other agencies concerned about international peace carefully monitor the "Chiquador situation."
President For Life Garrastazu e Silva poses an even greater threat to the rest of South America than anyone realizes. He’s been building up his military with the aim of eventually launching wars of conquest against his neighbors, but since he knows his army is too small to compete with the likes of Brazil's on traditional terms, he's recruited teams of unscrupulous scientists to develop a crash program to create superhuman soldiers obedient to his will. His researchers haven’t had much success yet, but their latest “test case” — a crazed, superhumanly strong man whom they released in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro to go on a rampage — showed signs of promise. If they can figure out how to make the superhuman soldiers more controllable, Garrastazu can destabilize, and perhaps conquer, much of South America. And it’s doubtful his ambition would stop there.
Unfortunately, Garrastazu e Silva is becoming increasingly senile, and his plans for conquest have become more outlandish. Alejandro Subano is an agent of ARGENT. President Garrastazu brought him in originally to help develop the superhuman-soldier program, but now he's wormed his way into the cabinet and Garrastazu's confidence. Through Subano, ARGENT is now running a series of experimental programs in the jungles and secluded coastlines of Chiquador, and every day brings its plans closer to fruition.
Costa Azúl: An archipelago consisting of three principal islands and several smaller ones located south of Jamaica and Haiti, Costa Azúl has a well-deserved reputation as a haven for drug smuggling, money laundering, and other criminal activities. Its former long-time leader, the notorious Colonel Enrique Pineda, tried to maintain a facade of normalcy to attract tourists, but was well-known as one of the most corrupt officials in the Western Hemisphere.
In 2003 credible evidence obtained by the CIA and presented to the President and Congress indicated that Pineda and his government were responsible for sheltering and training a group of supervillains calling itself Los Aplastantores ("The Crushers"). These villains committed a terrorism-for-pay attack in Washington, D.C. in July 2003 that would have destroyed the Lincoln Memorial if not for the timely intervention of the Sentinels. (To date the Crushers have refused to say who paid them to make the attack.) On top of Pineda's well-documented role in international drug smuggling and money laundering, this was more than the Unted States was willing to tolerate.
In November 2004, the United States invaded Costa Azúl and overthrew Col. Pineda, taking him to the mainland for trial and imprisonment. The US army occupied the country until 2006, withdrawing following "democratic" elections. Since then a series of councils and leaders has tried to steer the country down a better path, but it remains better known as a hotbed of criminal activity than a tourist destination.
Guamanga: A tiny nation between Honduras and Lago de Isabél, Guamanga is afflicted with poverty and despair. A mere five percent of the population owns approximately ninety percent of the land, consigning the peasantry to a life of subsistence tenant farming. Many have turned to the drug trade, or the theft and sale of Mayan relics from archaeological sites, to survive.
In 1994, ARGENT attempted to engineer a coup in Guamanga to oust the die-hard Communist president, Martín Orama-Tijernas, and replace him with a figurehead it could control. Fortunately, the Justice Squadron got wind of the plot and stopped it, doing significant harm to ARGENT’s interests in the region. Long-forgotten superweapons and other relics of the conflict occasionally appear, causing more trouble in this already troubled nation.
In 2005 Menton used his powers to manipulate the Guamangans into electing him their president — the first step in a planned campaign of world conquest. Thanks to some help from what the authorities later discovered was ARGENT technology, he was both able to affect thousands of people at once with his power and do it without leaving psychic traces. The United States and the United Nations mobilized their forces, but did nothing more at first. Although everyone knew what Menton had done, there was no proof -- and without proof, the UN in particular, was not willing to overthrow a seemingly legally elected official. That would have set a dangerous precedent the UN desperately wanted to avoid... so it found another option.
Working through back channels, UNTIL secretly hired two teams of mercenary villains and sent them after Menton. Their attack was not going well... but then Rakshasa, Dr. Destroyer's shape-shifting minion, disguised as one of Menton’s mind-controlled followers, shot Menton point-blank in the back of the head, rendering him unconscious. Menton was confined under "hot sleep" in Stronghold until he awakened in 2009 and freed himself, precipitating the second major breakout from the super-prison.