Whenever I read over my Champions PnP source books, I'm struck by the range of activities ARGENT is involved in around the world -- how many pies it has its fingers in, and how viciously it digs into them. But from comments I've heard over the years, most players of Champions Online who don't have those books don't fully appreciate what ARGENT is capable of, nor the range of uses it can be put to for character origins and backstory. In part this is due to there being no source book dedicated to that malevolent corporation. Hero Games did plan to publish one, but the severe downsizing the company went through several years ago curtailed that plan for the foreseeable future. There's actually substantial information extant, but it's dispersed over more than a dozen PnP books.
Complicating the issue is a distinctly different approach to ARGENT taken by the devs of CO compared to the PnP writers. In books by the latter ARGENT was revealed many years ago to be a criminal enterprise, and is illegal in the United States and many other countries (although some regimes offer them safe haven in exchange for technical assistance.) As a result they’re more subtle than in CO (they don’t patrol buildings with guns and shoot people on sight in the open) yet more discredited (they tend to hide behind dummy corporations rather than operating openly). In the MMO, however, they have their own buildings, armed guards openly patrol sidewalks with heavy armament, and they even operate gas stations, but can be blatant about their crimes. Some players treat them as VIPER goons in different longjohns, while others want them to be seen as a legitimate business and being an ARGENT superhero as a reasonable career choice.
Scott "Thundrax" Bennie, in his excellent Champions Online Lore Primer
, suggests a compromise position to try to reconcile these differing views: that ARGENT is not perceived publicly as a “more corporate oriented version of VIPER”; that their public reputation is suspect, particularly to those who are hostile to large corporations, but they’re not seen as criminal (and are often defended as good capitalists); and that veteran heroes can know they’re rotten to the core, but ARGENT lawyers will come down on them if they speak out publicly, so most major superheroes are circumspect enough to keep their anti-ARGENT statements behind closed doors. Those lawyers can be assumed to have kept any of the criminal scandals ARGENT was implicated in from shutting the corporation down completely, although it surely suffered financially from negative publicity. I would add that PnP ARGENT's use of other companies as fronts can be interpreted as providing scapegoats to insulate the core corporation from prosecution in case of discovery of its criminal ventures.
Given that reasonable compromise position, nearly all the PnP information on ARGENT could be applied to characters in Champions Online. On that basis I thought it might be interesting and helpful to the community to pull that info together and organize it for easy consumption here. What follows on this thread is a brief history of ARGENT, based on the PnP details but modified and augmented to conform to CO continuity; a summary of ARGENT's motivations, goals, and methods of operation; a rundown of its known organizing structure, with a little logical extrapolation based on relevant precedents; ARGENT front companies described in the lore; an overview of ARGENT's extensive activities around the globe; its interactions with various superhumans and supercrime groups -- those it works with, is interested in, and its rivals and enemies; and a list of official supervillains (and superheroes) who owe their superhuman abilities to ARGENT science, and how they came to be.
For anyone interested in looking up more of this information themselves, the core history and description of ARGENT appears in Champions Universe
. Significant additional info is in Champions Universe: News Of The World, Champions Worldwide, Monster Island
, and Teen Champions.
Smaller amounts are in the Champions Villains
trilogy, Hidden Lands, Millennium City, UNTIL: Defenders Of Freedom,
and VIPER: Coils Of The Serpent
. ARGENT is also briefly mentioned in Book Of The Destroyer, Champions Beyond, Champions Of The North, DEMON: Servants Of Darkness,
and Vibora Bay