I often see CO players who have or want to create PCs connected to PRIMUS, but have unclear or mistaken notions of how PRIMUS actually functions, what its authority is, and what agents of PRIMUS do. To be fair to them, the information they may have access to may be incomplete, and the group has gone through several incarnations over the decades which are sometimes contradictory. PRIMUS in the current official Champions Universe suffers a bit from not having an up-to-date dedicated source book published for it. The last such book is copyright 1998, and refers to an earlier incarnation of the CU than the present one. (It is still available from the Hero Games website for a very low price, and is a fine book in its own right.) Most of the current official info about PRIMUS, which is rather thin, appears in the recent Champions Universe source book for Sixth Edition HERO System. It does carry over some details from the earlier PRIMUS book, but changes others. It's unclear how much of that earlier book still applies; but further details from an official PnP source are very unlikely for the foreseeable future, given the current state of Hero Games, publishers of Champions. The developers for Champions Online also seem in no hurry to embellish PRIMUS for the MMO.
In order to give CO players using PRIMUS a bit more to hang their role-playing hats on, I thought I'd summarize the available info about the present group, and try to flesh out areas skimped over with precedents from the earlier versions, particularly the 1998 source book, where they don't conflict. Further input and questions from interested parties would be welcomed.
In its earlier incarnations PRIMUS was the "Primary Response and Interdiction Military Unified Service," a special joint detached service of the American armed forces tasked with countering superhuman crimes against and threats to the United States. However, for the current setting it's been redefined as the "Paranormal Research and Investigation Mission of the United States," a branch of the civilian Department of Justice like the FBI, with main responsibility for dealing with "supercrime" within American territory. Its primary function is law-enforcement, although that often also involves combat with supervillains. Agents can have a military background, but are recruited from all walks of life, provided they meet PRIMUS's rigorous standards.
Besides employing cutting-edge weapons and technology to give its agents the firepower to battle supervillains, PRIMUS uses a physical enhancement process called Cyberline
to create low-powered superhuman agents known as Silver Avengers
. At least one Silver Avenger is assigned to cities where PRIMUS maintains a base, while the largest urban areas can have several Avengers. Silver Avengers are promoted from within the ranks of the organization, based not just on their qualifications as agents, but their compatibility with Cyberline. Only a small percentage of the population can benefit from Cyberline. The Silver Avenger who is most reactive to Cyberline typically undergoes the more intensive (and expensive) process to become the more powerful Golden Avenger
. The last named Golden Avenger was Daniel James "DJ" Johnson, who succeeded the first GA, Robert Kaufman. But since that info dates from nearly a decade ago, and Johnson was a veteran in the role even then, I think it likely that he's retired by now and a new GA created.Champions Universe
asserts that Silver Avengers sometimes command regional bases, while the Golden Avenger is the overall leader of PRIMUS. My personal feeling is that this would be somewhat impractical, particularly in the case of the Golden Avenger. It doesn't make a lot of sense to place your strongest front-line fighters in what are primarily administrative positions. In earlier versions of the organization the Golden Avenger was the effective field commander of PRIMUS, but a Director administered the organization as a whole, and dealt with political and public-relations issues that affected the organization. IMHO the leadership structure of current PRIMUS would probably have been retconned more like the earlier version if an updated source book had seen the light of day. But in the likely absence of future clarification it would be up to CO role-players today as to which interpretation you prefer.
Now, more detailed info about PRIMUS has to come from the 1998 book. I'll present a summary of the most relevant info which doesn't contradict official statements. Under the Director of PRIMUS, the organization is divided into several branches: Assault Agents (the combat troops), Intelligence (criminology and surveillance), Human Resources (support personnel), and Avengers. Each division is headed by its own Director (the Golden Avenger supervises all other Avengers). Within the Assault Agent branch, Agents (which seems to be the basic rank title) are organized into squads of five, led by an Agent Commander. Each PRIMUS base within a major US city is under the command of a Base Commander, who reports to his Regional Director, the rank below Director of Agents.
In addition to standard Assault Agents, the most physically-capable recruits are often inducted into the Iron Guard
program, and trained to use the PRIMUS Iron Guard powered armor. Iron Guards are the heavy combat troops, and are organized into their own five-man squads under a Base Commander. Silver Avengers are outside the agent chain of command, with the possible exception of base commanders as noted previously; but they're accorded great respect and often take informal charge of operations. They may also undertake investigations on their own (they have their own support staff, including combat agents).