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The Full Scope of ARGENT

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.

Comments

  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    ARGENT History

    Founded in 1974 as an American corporation devoted to cutting-edge technological research and development, the Advanced Research Group quickly established a reputation for its scientists’ skills and inventiveness. Throughout the Seventies and into the early Eighties, the company was a major United States defense contractor. In 1980 it changed its name to "Advanced Research Group ENTerprises" (ARGENT) as a marketing strategy.

    ARGENT’s long string of successes came to an end in 1983, when investigative reporters revealed to the world that ARGENT had secretly been passing United States defense technology secrets to a number of enemies, including the Soviet Union, China, VIPER, and Dr. Destroyer. ARGENT had also built several secret factories to manufacture high-tech equipment for numerous criminal and terrorist organizations. Unwilling to spend the rest of their lives in jail, the executives and chief scientists of ARGENT fled the United States, taking with them as much of their data and equipment as possible. They found a new home in the (fictional) Middle Eastern country of Awad, whose rulers were more than happy to offer ARGENT safe haven in exchange for a slice of their profits. However, ARGENT's lawyers were able to keep the company as a whole from being implicated, and so kept it in business.

    Since moving to Awad, ARGENT has become a major player in the global underworld. While it still makes most of its money providing high-tech services and support -- both to legitimate clients and to criminals -- it’s also launched numerous criminal schemes of its own. For many years it worked primarily with mercenaries when it needed paramilitary muscle, having few agents of its own (unlike VIPER), but that became too big a drain on the bottom line. So it shifted to more of an agent-based strategy in the mid-2000s.

    In 1994, ARGENT attempted to engineer a coup in the (fictional) Central American nation of 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.

    The San Francisco-based hero team, the Freedom Patrol, suffered what's described as "a major defeat" at ARGENT's hands in 1999. The team has been in slow decline ever since, and has hardly been active at all over the past few years. Although it still exists in name only, it seems unlikely it will take much longer for it to formally disband.

    In 2000 ARGENT's biological research division sent a team of scientists to Monster Island to study the monsters and other remnants of Qularr bioengineering. The opening of Dr. Moreau's lab has produced other subjects for them to capture and analyze. The biologists made several important discoveries, contributing to ARGENT's bottom line in the genetic engineering and bio-warfare divisions.

    ARGENT took hidden but effective control of the (fictional) city-state of Larisagrad in late 2003, which had been one of the corporation's rivals in supplying high-tech services to whoever would pay. (See "ARGENT Global Activities" below.) The current “mayor” of the city, a physicist named Stepan Dolovsky, is an ARGENT puppet; the group keeps him supplied with the drugs, women,and scientific resources he wants, and he does what it tells him to.

    On the other hand ARGENT suffered a major blow in 2003 when the Champions captured the master villain Interface. (See "ARGENT-Created Superhumans" below.) He’d been working closely with ARGENT and had so much information about them that the authorities were able to make significant inroads against the organization (and once nearly captured the Board of Directors). ARGENT spent several years in damage control/rebuilding mode and only in recent years has approached the former extent of its operations and profitability.

    In 2004 ARGENT opened its "Corporate Wildlife Preserve" on Monster Island. Since then hunting expeditions consisting of a mix of wealthy, corrupt hunters and people ARGENT wants to reward or curry favor with have come to the island to hunt teleiosaurs, manimals, and other big game. Monster Island's location in international waters under no national jurisdiction or treaty allows ARGENT to engage in this and other activities which would be illegal in many other parts of the world.

    A shower of questionite-laced meteors fell across the Earth in 2012. Numerous heroes and villains attempted to collect them, with ARGENT being especially aggressive in their pursuit of the rare mineral.
  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    ARGENT Structure and Personnel

    ARGENT began as a high-tech research and manufacturing corporation, and appears to retain much of that structure today. Its leaders, both past and present, are often referred to as the "Board of Directors." It's unclear whether any of the current Board members are from the group implicated in ARGENT's original crimes, but at least one named Director, Charles Hawthorne (mentioned on p. 95 of Monster Island) is said to keep a mansion in Chicago, USA, so is clearly not wanted by law-enforcement. It's also possible that the public Board of Directors for ARGENT is a "shadow Board" fronting the true leaders of the organization.

    Having a Board of Directors, ARGENT probably has other typical corporate officers, such as President (chair of the Board and overall director of the company), Secretary (chief administrator), Treasurer (chief financial manager), Chief Executive Officer (CEO, responsible for day-to-day management of the company), Chief Marketing Director (tasked with acquiring and satisfying customers, as well as advertising and public relations), Chief Counsel (head lawyer), etc. Some of these officers may or may not be Board members. A corporation can use various other titles for its officers. In the case of ARGENT a couple of Vice-Presidents are mentioned (see below). Two managers of more narrowly-defined ARGENT projects carry the title, "Group Leader": Gregory Attenborough, the "power behind the throne" of Larisagrad, who reports directly to ARGENT’s leaders and conveys their orders to Larisagrad mayor Stepan Dolovsky; and Thaddeus Crown, in charge of the task force assigned to stop interference in ARGENT's activities by the teen superhero team called Nova. (See "ARGENT Rivals and Enemies," below.)

    Monster Island p. 95 mentions ARGENT's Research and Development Department, which given the corporation's focus must be a major component of its operations, probably with its own Director. Various sources also mention more specific Divisions, including Biological Research, Genetic Engineering, Bio-Warfare (likely all parts of R&D), and Military Sales and Services (perhaps within the Marketing Department). ARGENT's operations on Monster Island are large and profitable enough to comprise their own Division, under the direction of Vice-President Roger Hartwell.

    Until 2005, ARGENT didn't have its own corps of agents. It had security personnel at its various facilities, but for paramilitary matters it hired mercenaries. But by 2005 it had so many operations going on around the world that relying on outside contractors was both cost-ineffective and a security risk. It now maintains its own security and paramilitary force, called simply, "ARGENT Soldiers." When recruiting Soldiers, ARGENT looks for intelligence as well as athletic skill. It uses a lot of advanced gadgets and weaponry, and it needs people sharp and observant enough to learn them. Their officers can include "Combat Engineers" with additional technical training.

    The biggest difference between ARGENT's Soldiers and the agents of organizations like VIPER is that ARGENT personnel aren't necessarily criminal. ARGENT (and its subsidiaries) is a legitimate organization in many parts of the world, and it's not illegal for it to have its own security force. Some Soldiers are as amoral and greedy as any VIPER agent, while others have to be shielded from ARGENT's more questionable activities for fear of them running to the authorities.
  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    edited June 2018
    ARGENT Front Companies

    As mentioned earlier, ARGENT in the PnP game version of the setting uses dummy companies and subsidiaries to operate in countries where it's considered illegal and criminal. Several such companies are mentioned in the books, all of them involved to some degree in shady practices. Within the context of Champions Online, in which ARGENT is still legal and public, it would be reasonable to use front companies as the vehicle for ARGENT's more reprehensible activities, to buffer the parent corporation against scandal and liability with a layer of plausible deniability. That makes the official fronts useful examples of similar companies players could invent as part of their characters' backgrounds; as well as of the lengths to which ARGENT is prepared to go to maximize its profits.

    Dynamic Technologies Research Group: This technology research and consultation firm is actually the main front company for ARGENT in Millennium City. It's run by Dr. Victor Hopewell, with the assistance of his gifted administrator, Lucinda Sadler. The DTRG building in Westside contains plenty of high-tech safeguards to keep superheroes or police from discovering the secret laboratories and manufacturing facilities hidden beneath, as well as multiple escape routes (including sealed "tunnelboats" that can carry people through the sewers to the Detroit River quickly, and several rocket-assisted-launch aerial hovercraft). DTRG is described in more detail in the Millennium City source book.

    GeoMax: This company conducts exploration for and exploitation of the Earth's mineral resources, such as oil, precious metals, and the like. It was the only company prepared to finance geophysicist Jason Dixon's radical theory of an intangibility suit allowing a person to physically penetrate the Earth's mantle. GeoMax was willing to let Dixon be the guinea pig for his own design due to its many possible covert applications; but something still unknown happened to him during testing, resulting in the super eco-terrorist called Geothermal. (See "ARGENT-Created Superhumans" below.)

    SkyProspect: This German-based company is dedicated to the commercial exploitation of outer space. One of its key projects is to lay the ground work for mining the asteroid belt. It's already launched its own satellite to the belt, one of a number sent from Earth. While it seemed like an ordinary satellite, it was in fact the most advanced sent on such a mission. The asteroid belt holds enormous possibilities for ARGENT -- not just profits, but as a potential place it could build bases where no Human authority has any jurisdiction at all. The executive in charge of this program, Roger Corwin, is a major up-and-comer at ARGENT; success at this venture could lead to his elevation to a position of major power within the organization.

    The Greenworld Foundation: This innocuously-named group is one of the most loathsome of ARGENT's fronts. Ostensibly set up as a charitable organization, it selected thirty young urban teens, orphaned or from underprivileged backgrounds, supposedly for a free trip to an outdoor summer camp. The bus they were traveling to the camp in reportedly crashed and caught fire, killing all its passengers and completely destroying their bodies. In fact ARGENT staged the bus crash to deliver into its hands a large number of people with young changing bodies, on whom it could conduct all manner of experiments, with the guarantee that no one would come looking for them.

    The Silverbrook Corporation: A respected research company and think-tank, Silverbrook is a major defense contractor covering a range of theoretical and applied sciences, from physics and biology to criminology and national security. Superhuman studies is a major subset of its research, which puts it in direct competition with other for-profit companies providing similar services, such as Angelstone Laboratories. But as an ARGENT front Silverbrook's superhuman research is mostly devoted to finding ways to defeat superheroes and assist supervillains. It's likely that villainous ARGENT clients would be able to contract consultation services in those areas. The Silverbrook Corporation is briefly mentioned in the context of Angelstone Laboratories in Cops, Crews, And Cabals.
    Post edited by bulgarex on
  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    edited November 2016
    ARGENT Global Activities

    ARGENT has established numerous offices and facilities around the world, where it conducts its more legitimate-appearing operations; as well as many disguised or hidden ones for more sinister purposes. Unscrupulous regimes may allow the corporation a much freer hand to function as it wishes within their territories, as long as the regime is compensated for its tolerance. (Whenever the following post refers to a fictional Champions Universe country, you can read more about it on this forum thread.)

    ARGENT began in the United States, which also remains the world's economic and technological hub, so the corporation's presence is strongest there. ARGENT contributed heavily to the Millennium Project rebuilding Detroit, both money and technical expertise. As a result ARGENT gained easy access to many technological secrets. Among other things, it has plenty of vehicles equipped with fake Vehicle Control Chips, which can fool a police officer's field scan, but don't actually register the vehicle's trips through the city. ARGENT has agents planted in or controlling several technology-oriented firms throughout the Millennium City area.

    The economic and social similarities between the United States and Canada make the latter a desirable location for ARGENT. It also has a surprisingly strong presence in Northern Canada, probably due to questionite deposits recently discovered there. Canada's anti-British, Western separatist "Hunter-Patriots" organization has commissioned weapons from ARGENT.

    ARGENT has taken advantage of Mexico’s high degree of corruption and nearness to the United States to establish secret bases and laboratories there. While ARGENT's Central American operations have never recovered from the Guamanga debacle, it's done better infiltrating the high-tech and business communities of Brazil and Argentina, and in the past has even provided Colombian rebel groups with weapons in exchange for access to natural resources in areas under their control. But it's in the small (fictional) South American dictatorship of Chiquador where ARGENT's presence is potentially most dangerous. Alejandro Subano, Minister of Affairs for Chiquador, is an agent of ARGENT. Chiquador's dictatorial President for Life, Garrastazu e Silva, originally brought ARGENT in to help with his project to create superhuman soldiers to aid his plans of conquest. But as Garrastazu has grown increasingly senile, Subano has wormed his way into the President's confidence, and is now making most governmental decisions. Through Subano ARGENT is running a series of experimental programs in the jungles and secluded coastlines of Chiquador.

    Europe's population, wealth, and technological capitalist societies, make it very important to ARGENT. The company also has a uniquely valuable asset on the continent. The city of Larisagrad in the Ural Mountains, formerly a center for diverse classified scientific research under the USSR, went freelance after the Soviet collapse, selling its unique services to the highest bidder, including criminals and supervillains (although there has never been firm proof of this). As Larisagrad’s reputation waxed, ARGENT looked on with concern. It didn’t need any more competitors than it already had. But rather than destroy Larisagrad, the organization’s Board of Directors decided it was a valuable resource they needed to acquire. ARGENT ultimately accomplished that by infiltrating operatives into Larisagrad, establishing commercial ties with the city, keeping its most important citizens under surveillance, and conducting a corporate espionage campaign against it. Since 2005 international law enforcement has suspected Larisagrad of being ARGENT's puppet, but can find no hard evidence.

    As mentioned upthread, the (fictional) Middle Eastern state of Awad offered sanctuary to the disgraced leaders of ARGENT. For years Awad 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. More recently Awad's relationship with VIPER has 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.

    The increasing prevalence of technology and related services in Indian society have drawn the attention of ARGENT. It's moved into India strongly, establishing front corporations and other schemes through which to conduct their illicit research and commit corporate espionage. A 2003 financial scandal in Bombay (now Mumbai) involving high-profile businessman Devilal Narsimban exposed him as an ARGENT member (or pawn; the situation remains unclear).

    ARGENT is heavily involved in the Far East. It's long been patronized by the Kim dynasty ruling North Korea, and there's also evidence suggesting ARGENT illicit activities in South Korea. China's growing economic and technological prominence has led ARGENT to become more active in the Middle Kingdom as well. The Singaporan superhero Silverwing has clashed with ARGENT twice, once exposing a major local business concern as an ARGENT front. But ARGENT is particularly active in Japan. It has in effect taken control of at least one majorkeiritsu (group of interwoven companies) and wormed its way into several others. Its workers and allies troll through the Tokyo business and scientific worlds gathering information, engaging in corporate espionage, and supplying high-tech gear to supercriminals and their ilk. And of course, Monster Island lies barely a hundred miles off the coast of Japan.

    There's little superhuman activity in Australia and Oceania, which tends to make these areas something of a backwater when it comes to super-crime. But the lack of superheroes in the region makes it ideally suited for ARGENT, which prefers to conduct its experiments away from the prying eyes of “costumed do-gooders.” It recently bought an entire island in an isolated part of French Polynesia and has established a base there to work on many illicit projects.
    Post edited by bulgarex on
  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    ARGENT Associates and Allies

    With its widespread operations, and willingness to deal with almost anyone if the price is right, ARGENT has conducted business of both legitimate and criminal nature with national governments, other corporations, organized crime, revolutionaries, terrorists, and numerous supervillains (as well as less-informed superheroes). However, there are several villainous parties whose involvement with ARGENT has been particularly extensive, and with whom the corporation enjoys especially good relations.

    Although ARGENT and VIPER do compete on some occasions, for the most part they share a productive, positive underworld association. VIPER often buys high-tech equipment from ARGENT, or hires its labs to do some quick, high-quality research. ARGENT has developed a close relationship with many VIPER Nests as their armorer. ARGENT, for its part, sometimes "subcontracts" with VIPER when it needs to resort to overt force.

    The Institute for Human Advancement is, publicly, a lobby group attempting to raise awareness of, and enlist government help to combat, what it perceives as the threat to "normal humans" from superpowered genetic mutants. Secretly the IHA is dedicated to destroying such mutants through whatever means necessary, including armed conflict. With considerable help from ARGENT, the IHA has developed Minuteman combat robots able to take on the most powerful superhumans and destroy them. They continue to refine the Minuteman design. (An abbreviated description of the IHA appears in Champions Universe.)

    Bastion Alpha Security is one of the world's premier private security contractors. It also engages in mercenary military activities, and secretly, supplies resources and muscle to various criminal groups. BAS and ARGENT have long worked closely together. Initially BAS supplied both corporate security and paramilitary forces to ARGENT. Since the evil corporation developed its own corps of Soldiers, BAS has been contracted to provide most of their training. (Bastion Alpha Security is extensively described in the PnP source book, Cops, Crews, And Cabals.)

    The Coin Collector, a member of DEMON's Inner Circle, having been frustrated in his attempts to expand his power base within the organization, began buying shares in companies he suspected of having ties to ARGENT, in hopes of gaining influence over that group. How that might have progressed would depend in part on the status of the Coin Collector and DEMON as a whole in CO post-Luther Black, which at this point is unrevealed. (Much more about the Coin Collector and the Inner Circle can be read in DEMON: Servants Of Darkness.)

    Before the Lemurian civil war, ARGENT had a trading arrangement with King Arvad of Lemuria. In 2003 ARGENT contacted Arvad by descending into the ocean depths in an advanced mini-submarine of its own devising. Since then the organization has become one of the most useful trading partners Lemuria has had since World War II. It supplies Arvad with all the high-tech toys he could possibly ever want (mostly for his own entertainment, since Lemurians disdain surface world technology), and histories of the surface world and surface military ordnance for his Lemurians to study; in exchange for gold, silver, and other minerals from Lemuria's mines which the Lemurians have no use for.

    ARGENT wants two additional things from Lemuria. First, it wants to purchase some of the abandoned Lemurian domes for use as underwater research facilities. Arvad has yet to hear an offer for them he finds even slightly enticing. Second, it wants to send observers to work with Lemurian sorcerers, just as the Nazis did decades ago. ARGENT believes Lemurian mechano-sorcery is a previously unknown science which it disguises with mystical trappings. Arvad remains skeptical -- he knows that if ARGENT discovers anything, it will sell the information to whoever's willing to pay the price.

    It's unclear how the Lemurian civil war may have impacted this relationship.

    ARGENT has employed numerous mercenary supervillains, and entire villain teams, on a temporary basis when it needed super operatives for particular operations. The corporation remains on good terms with quite a few of them, and would hire them again if necessary. Past ARGENT hirelings include the teams, the Brain Trust, the Crimelords, Merc-Force 1, and Smoke and Mirrors (fully written up in Champions Villains Vol. 2), and individual villains Deadman Walkin', Gargantua, Lazer, Leviathan, and Mechassassin (detailed in Champions Villains Vol. 3).

  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    edited June 2018
    ARGENT Rivals and Enemies

    As an essentially evil organization, ARGENT operatives have often clashed with superheroes and law-enforcement groups such as UNTIL and PRIMUS. However, particular heroes have become especial thorns in ARGENT's side. On the other side of the coin, certain parties provide scientific services similar to what ARGENT does, and compete for the same clients; or have the same ambition to acquire the most advanced technology. Some scientifically-adept individuals possess unique knowledge which ARGENT would very much like to steal. Then there are people, whether heroes or villains, with whom ARGENT has such bitter history that they are implacable enemies out for each others' destruction.

    ARGENT's history displays the group's generally subtle, calculated, methodical approach to eliminating its opponents. The story of ARGENT's acquisition of Larisagrad, above, reveals the sort of orchestrated campaign of subversion it can wage against larger organizations. However, its extended conflict with the team of young New York-based heroes called Nova highlights how ARGENT is likely to deal with individuals or small groups.

    Nova frequently thwarted ARGENT's attempts to use young orphans and runaways as experimental subjects. Most of the team come from that sort of hard-luck background; two of its members were actually rescued from ARGENT laboratories. (See "ARGENT-Created Superhumans" below.) The corporation's investigators discovered the secret identity of Nova's leader, Arcane, killed someone close to him, and framed him for the murder, forcing the team to go into hiding. Yet Nova continued to interfere with ARGENT, prompting the organization to form a special task force to eliminate them, under the direction of Group Leader (and former CIA operative) Thaddeus Crown. In addition to scientific and security support personnel, the task force included a private detective, a psychiatrist tasked with profiling the young heroes and anticipating their actions, and several hired supervillains with equipment or powers calculated to counter the super powers of Nova.

    Ultimately Nova were captured and put on trial, but the famous Sentinels hero team found evidence exonerating Arcane. Today Nova are free, but continue to fight crime in their own unorthodox way, including ARGENT. (Nova and its conflict with ARGENT are thoroughly described in Teen Champions, and updated in Champions Universe.)

    ARGENT wants to obtain advanced tech from anyone who possesses it, but Professor Paradigm, aka "the Malevolent Metaphysician," especially intrigues them. His radical theories about the nature of Reality have led him to bridge the distinction between science and magic... at least that's what he claims. Paradigm has created a suit of powered armor which appears to duplicate the effects of several well-known magic spells used by "supermages." ARGENT would love to acquire the Professor’s technology, and has assigned a team of researchers and soldiers to do so. (Professor Paradigm's full write-up is in Champions Villains Vol. 1.)

    Advanced Concepts Industries, and its founder and leader, Franklin Stone, is a hated rival of ARGENT. Both mega-corporations occupy similar niches in the world economy (though ARGENT is more blatant about violating the law) and each would like to eliminate/take over the other. If a group of heroes starts to make serious inroads against ARGENT, Stone would probably help them covertly, or try to take advantage of the situation to gain ground in the business world. Likely both. (Franklin Stone is thoroughly treated in CV Vol. 1.)

    ARGENT also competes with (and is thus enemy to) other tech suppliers to the underworld, such as Millennium City's premier criminal armorer, Wayland Talos; and the mentalist/gadgeteer called Brainchild (both of whom receive write-ups in CV Vol. 3). But their biggest competitor is the Warlord, whose sales of high-tech armaments are just as global in scope. (Warlord's organization is detailed in CV Vol. 1.) ARGENT’s Military Sales and Services Division would love to see him removed from the picture, or at least taken down a peg or two. Yet Warlord also contracted ARGENT's assistance to help him upgrade his personal powered armor. After the Interface incident impaired ARGENT's bottom line he was able to purchase their services at a reduced rate. Clearly their antipathy isn't so deep that it precludes doing business.

    Teleios also appears to fall in the same category. Teleios has worked for ARGENT, particularly selling them cloned soldiers, but the two are rivals in some respects. ARGENT would love to get its hands on the Perfect Man’s notes, resources, and working materials, since it too provides “biological consulting services” to the underworld at times. If he felt seriously threatened by ARGENT, Teleios would try to replace some of its leading personnel with clones loyal to him and bring the whole organization down from the inside. (Look for a thorough write-up of Teleios in CV Vol. 1.)

    On the other hand, Interface and ARGENT are bitter enemies. Ever since his defeat in 2003 severely harmed the organization, it’s had an open hit contract out on him. No one’s been able to collect yet, but Interface is tired of people trying. He’d like nothing better than to destroy the organization that created him; he might even covertly assist heroes in anti-ARGENT activities. (Interface is written up in CV Vol. 1. See also "ARGENT-Created Superhumans" below.)

    PSI once had a fairly close working relationship with ARGENT, which supplied some of the high-tech gear it used, and worked with PSI to try to develop psionic enhancement technology. But that came to an abrupt and bloody end when Psimon discovered that ARGENT was really just stringing PSI along to learn as much as it could about psionic abilities in the hope of developing psi-tech on its own. The two groups went to war, striking at each other whenever the opportunity presented itself. The fracturing of PSI in the mid-2000s brought the conflict to an end, but now that Psimon’s revived the organization, the odds are the war will resume. (There's much more info about PSI in CV Vol. 2.)

    The cyborg and "cyberkinetic" (machine-controller) called the Engineer has penetrated ARGENT’s computer systems several times. The organization fears her and wants her dead before she can wreck their computers or reveal their secrets. Now that Cybermind, the world's premier super-hacker, has revived from his comatose state in Stronghold, ARGENT will probably view him the same way. (You can find both villains' write-ups in CV Vol. 3.)

    While publicly scorning ARGENT, Dr. Destroyer is privately concerned by its advanced technology and growing scope of operations, and would happily see the corporation destroyed. He might even help others do so behind the scenes if necessary... after first looting its factories and databases of anything useful. In addition, Walter Longstreet, an ARGENT vice-president, has been selling his company's tech secrets to Destroyer. He knows exactly who he's selling them to, and doesn't care as long as the enormous payments keep coming. Based in Awad, Longstreet also provides the Doctor useful intelligence on the Persian Gulf region.

    Post edited by bulgarex on
  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    ARGENT-Created Superhumans

    ARGENT has been directly or indirectly responsible for the creation of a number of superhumans. While in many cases this involves villains (and perhaps even heroes) hiring ARGENT to augment their abilities, the group's use of unwilling subjects to experiment on -- or to sell if they develop useful abilities -- means some of them have escaped ARGENT's control and become independent villains, or heroes.

    ARGENT's supers-creation programs follow two main streams. One is to induce innate superhuman mutations in a subject. ARGENT is constantly trying to find a reliable method for this, but to date their successes have been as haphazard, and often flawed, as most other such programs by governments or super-scientists. ARGENT has been much more consistent with its other route, bionic/cybernetic augmentation using implanted or grafted technological components. However, the physiological and cosmetic drawbacks this process entails seem to have made it a much less popular choice for contractees.

    As mentioned earlier, two members of the young hero team Nova were unwilling subjects of ARGENT experiments. Lizzie Thorsten was one of the victims of the Greenworld Foundation scam described above. ARGENT scientists discovered Lizzie had latent cyberkinetic abilities, making her perfect for the "living CPU" of an artificial-intelligence device they could sell to the highest bidder. Over weeks of painful surgery Lizzie had extensive bionics implanted in her body and brain. Her higher mental faculties were "shut off" and her latent powers activated. Before she could be sold the other members of Nova freed her, and she joined them under the code-name Circuit Breaker.

    The other Nova rescue is a product of one of ARGENT's many attempts to produce a superhuman-soldier serum. Hank Henderson was a talented high school athlete, and his parents had high hopes for him. They thought of Hank as their winning lottery ticket. When Hank's father heard rumors of a steroid program that would turn his son into a perfect physical specimen, he decided to make Hank's good shot at the pros a sure thing. His parents escorted Hank to a hidden laboratory, where they were murdered before Hank's eyes, and Hank was used to test the serum. Though the rest of the subjects died during the testing -- the hearts of some couldn't take the strain, while others went insane and were sold off to clients as berserk cannon fodder -- Hank came through physically well and mentally stable. As part of Nova he became known as Crazy Legs.

    Most of the Boston-based hero team called the New Paladins are also teenagers mutated by a secret ARGENT project; they’re mentored by the veteran heroine Dr. Eclipse (who has extensive darkness manipulating powers and is a brilliant geneticist herself). Her team consists of Bodyguard (nigh-indestructible and superstrong), Lux (a light manipulator), Python (a superstrong stretcher), and Tandem (who can duplicate any power used against her).

    The Australian government superhero Harrier was a member of the Australian Federal Police before she participated in a raid on what was thought to be a smugglers' hideout, but turned out to be a secret ARGENT research lab. She accidentally found an experimental flight suit and blaster pistol, which she used to turn the tide of battle against the ARGENT scientists and hired goons. (Harrier is detailed in Champions Worldwide.)

    Years ago, Rutger Eisenmann was a mercenary, and a good one. He did bodyguard, infiltration, and even assassination work for high-paying clients. His reputation eventually attracted the attention of ARGENT, which hired him to guard several of its scientists while they completed a crucial research project involving cybernetics. When raiders came crashing in, Eisenmann fought to cover his employers’ escape. He took several deep wounds before reinforcements arrived and drove off the attackers. Eisenmann was wounded so badly he should have died -- but the scientists, in gratitude for his help (and in need of experimental subjects for their work), salvaged what they could of his ravaged body -- the head and spine, parts of the torso -- and grafted them into a powerful, heavily armed cybernetic body made of titanium steel and electronic cables.

    Eisenmann, now known by the code name Interface, went back to work for ARGENT. But after several years Interface longed to declare himself publicly and match wits against the so-called “forces of good.” When these difficulties became too apparent for anyone to ignore, Interface suggested he leave ARGENT to strike out on his own. He’d contract with the group for maintenance services, and also refer other clients to it and team with it to conduct certain operations. Seeing the benefits in this arrangement, ARGENT’s leaders agreed. The arrangement worked well for a while, until Interface's ego-driven attempt to defeat the Champions led to the capture not only of him, but the highly sensitive data he possessed on ARGENT's operations. (Interface has a full write-up in CV Vol. 1.)

    The Middle East-based Khanjar ("Dagger") was born into a family that had carefully maintained the ways of the Hashishim, that ancient sect of assassins which once terrorized the Islamic world. Trained in all the arts of death, for years he worked for Middle Eastern governments and gangs, plus the likes of VIPER and ARGENT. ARGENT paid Khanjar for one job with experimental super-soldier treatments that raised his strength, resilience, and reflexes into the low superhuman level, and made him a blindingly fast runner. (You'll find Khanjar detailed in Champions Worldwide.)

    Al, the Alligator Man, is an unusual resident of San Sebastian Swamp outside Vibora Bay. He was once an ordinary guy named Brian Tatosky, but ARGENT kidnapped him because he fit the genetic profile for an experiment to create a tougher, stronger, and water-adapted superhuman soldier by injecting him with a serum derived from alligator genes. Tatosky mutated farther than intended, his body and mind becoming more alligator-like. After escaping from ARGENT’s clutches, the super-strong alligator-man, now with the mental capacity of an eight-year-old, ended up living in San Sebastian Swamp, the telepathic collective intelligence of which can “speak” to him and understand him. (You'll find much more about Al and the Swamp in the Vibora Bay source book.)

    In need of a random group of test subjects for its latest invention, a "Devolutionizer Ray" designed to turn ordinary people into super-strong quasi-australopithecines, ARGENT kidnapped a couple dozen fans from a sporting event in Denver. One of the people it grabbed was Jack Stevens, a computer programmer. The Ray worked on Jack, although not quite as intended. He became much stronger than the scientists anticipated, but also much less intelligent and much harder to control. He broke free of his restraints and fled. For years Jack Stevens, now known as Ogre, has been manipulated into being used as expendable muscle by many criminal parties. ARGENT would love to get Ogre back so it can study him in hope of making the Devolutionizer Ray work the way they want it to. (You can find Ogre in CV Vol. 3.)

    Jason Dixon was a geologist with a driving ambition: to become the first scientist to take direct samples of Earth’s mantle. Dixon theorized that he could build a special suit that would (a) render him intangible so he could get down there, and (b) protect him when he re-solidified to take samples. He wasn’t having any luck raising funds until he spoke with GeoMax, a company involved in oil drilling and similar pursuits. Unfortunately, what Dixon didn’t know was that GeoMax was mostly a front for ARGENT... and ARGENT was willing to sponsor him simply to use him as a guinea pig.

    The suit worked perfectly at first, but then disaster struck. Dixon's GeoMax handlers couldn’t understand his radio transmissions; they were too garbled by static and his own terrified screams. But eventually the screams stopped. Assuming he’d been roasted or crushed to death, ARGENT declared the project a failure. But two days later a powerful humanoid creature made of earth and magma erupted from where Jason Dixon had descended, and began killing humans, declaring them an "infestation" on the Earth. This creature has since come to be called Geothermal. ARGENT doesn't understand how Geothermal came to be, but has correctly deduced that he used to be Jason Dixon, and wants to capture him for study and exploitation. (You'll find Geothermal in CV Vol. 3.)

  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    ARGENT Technology


    Below are a few examples of devices commonly used by ARGENT operatives (where there are PnP game stats for them, they appear in Champions Universe and/or Monster Island):

    Class Alpha Blaster Rifle: The main weapon of ARGENT Soldiers, this rifle-like gun fires phased "pulson energy" blasts in single-shot or burst modes, and can be tuned for destructive force or non-lethal stunning. It includes an underslung launcher for either fragmentation or glue grenades.

    Dimensional Shunt: This device (usually built into a suit of powered armor, a belt, or the like) creates a field around the wearer that acts as a low-level opening into a pocket dimension. Any force directed at the wearer is partly shunted into the pocket dimension. It can supplement the standard ARGENT Soldier's body armor and force-field belt.

    Gravitic Repulsor: This is a small platform, big enough to hold two people at most, with handles on either side. Its built-in selective gravity negators allow the user(s) to fly, and also make it extremely easy to carry.

    Maskbots: Champions Universe p. 144 mentions a campaign of corporate espionage and subversion involving "Maskbot replacement of key personnel," implying that ARGENT possesses androids sophisticated enough to convincingly masquerade as specific people, at least for a time.

    Masquerade Field: Built into a belt or garment, this device generates a complex hologram to disguise the wearer, who can even specify a hologram that looks like another person by mental cybernetic command.

    Neural Scrambler: This weapon’s energy beam interferes with the target’s nervous system, making it difficult for him to control his muscles or reflexes. Standard weapon for Neutralizers (see below).

    Neutralizer Grenades: Typically issued to ARGENT Soldiers called "Neutralizers" assigned specifically to counter superhuman opposition, these grenades emit energy fields which weaken superpowers, tunable to specific powers.
  • markhawkmanmarkhawkman Posts: 4,435 Arc User
    *reads half of first post*

    I always saw them as like Lexcorp. They mix legitimate and non-legitimate business, and actually have more on the legitimate side. (Lexcorp doesn't make as much money on the illegitimate side, their really big ticket things are illegitimate, but not mass-produced, also the super advanced stuff is Lex's personal toys)
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  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User

    *reads half of first post*

    *regretfully scratches markhawkman off list of people who might benefit from the thread* :'(

  • markhawkmanmarkhawkman Posts: 4,435 Arc User
    I've benefited from it. :p I learned more about Argent from half the first post than I learned about them from shooting them to bits. :p
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  • morigosamorigosa Posts: 696 Arc User
    Just wanted to drop by with a thank you for this info; definitely an interesting read.
  • riveroceanriverocean Posts: 1,660 Arc User
    edited November 2016
    bulgarex said:

    The Greenworld Foundation: This innocuously-named group is one of the most loathsome of ARGENT's fronts. Ostensibly set up as a charitable organization, it selected thirty young urban teens, orphaned or from underprivileged backgrounds, supposedly for a free trip to an outdoor summer camp. The bus they were traveling to the camp in reportedly crashed and caught fire, killing all its passengers and completely destroying their bodies. In fact ARGENT staged the bus crash to deliver into its hands a large number of people with young changing bodies, on whom it could conduct all manner of experiments, with the guarantee that no one would come looking for them.

    First of all— I read the entire thing!!!! Fascinating stuff.

    And yeah.. I'm using this bit of lore for my next hero. A "light" bending TK blaster with powers similar to Dagger from the old "Cloak & Dagger" comix from the 80's.

    I <3 lore posts like this!!!!

    Oh.. also one my long time heroes "Allura" is a feline-human hybrid and an Argent "Monster Island" experiment. I might tweak her bio some more.

    Questions About AT Play? Visit Silverwolfx11's Updated AT Guides!
  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,534 Arc User
    edited November 2016
    Thanks for your kind words, morigosa and riverocean. Players getting some use out of this was all I wanted. :)
    Post edited by bulgarex on
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