From the Sentinels of the Multiverse Official Site
Captain M. Lamb:
I realize I have not been working in this department for very long, but I was going through the case files from the investigation into organized crime in Rook City from two years ago and found some concerning discrepancies. The eventual conclusion of the investigation found that, while some organized crime did exist, it was in no way prevalent or pervasive, and that each criminal group was isolated. Furthermore, the report spoke strongly against the existence of a “Criminal Empire” in any way unifying the organized criminal activities in the city. However, I also found several important accounts, including some significant evidence that there could be some sort of controlling figure or group, and that the “isolated criminal activities” were, in fact, all linked to a single entity or organization. Indeed, I could find no evidence to support the conclusion that Rook City organized crime is solely the product of isolated groups. With more evidence coming to light of late, I believe that it is within the best interests of this department to reopen the case. I would be more than willing to head up, or at least be a part of any task force assigned to this case, as I am already very familiar with the evidence and where the last investigation fell short.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to working more with you on this. Detective Renay
Well done. You have done this department proud with your exemplary investigation into this case. We will look into setting up a task force right away. However, your attention to detail and thorough investigation skills are urgently needed elsewhere at this time. Therefore, you have been reassigned to the research and records division, in order to help maintain more order in the completed case files. Thank you again for your work and dedication.
Captain M. Lamb
From the Rook City Official Rulebook
Rook City inhabitants complain about terrible crime rates, but few are aware that a single organization, led by a shadowy figure known only as "The Chairman" is responsible for the vast majority of Rook City's corruption. Tales of The Chairman are few and far between, but he has purportedly held the reins of organized crime in Rook City for the better part of the last century. Most criminologists theorize that "The Chairman" must be a title, passed down through the years. Some wild stories have been told of one man who has somehow lived this long, controlling the streets since their creation, but there is no evidence to substantiate these claims. However, if such a man did exist, Rook City surely would be at his mercy, and the tales do not mention mercy…
When Rook City fell, many thought it would be the end of the elusive figure known only as The Chairman.
Turns out, it was far more of a beginning.
The Chairman was revealed to be none other than Graham Pike, who should have been well over one hundred years old. Instead, Chairman Pike was a man in his prime. Or, at least, he was before his city collapsed around him. The destruction of Rook City came hand-in-hand with the crumbling of the man who had ruled the city for the majority of its history. As his chemically-enhanced body deteriorated, he supplanted his vitality with remnants of injections and stimulants from the now defunct Barzakh Wing of Pike Laboratories. His newly "evolved" state was one of certain strength, but also one of madness.
Now, with his resources meaning little, his empire crumbled around him, and his minions barely more than chemically-grown children, Exemplar holds himself to be the shining example of how man creates his own success. Hurdles and setbacks only exist to make the ultimate man even stronger. Graham Pike has left the trappings of the average person behind in exchange for perfection. Normal human morality and mortality are obsolete in the face of the works of a true visionary
Rook City was ruled by The Chairman. But Broken City has been reborn in Exemplar's own image. Anyone trying to prove otherwise will be taught a harsh lesson.
- References for Cards in this deck and in other decks. See the full list here.
- Link to sources for confirm-able information, separate unconfirmed in a different section, RL Card References in a third, and Art References in a fourth. See This page for more detailed information on how to categorize references
- Forum goer arenson9 and his spouse are the basis for The Deputy and The Broker.
- "Undivided Attention" depicts the death of Mister Fixer at the hands of the Operative (Letters Page 10).
- The Chairman is secretly Graham Pike, the mysterious CEO of Pike Industrial Complex
- The Chairman is very much the conceptual opposite of Baron Blade. Where Blade is a flamboyant super-genius that uses grandiose sci-fi tech to achieve his goals, the Chairman is a subtle planner who strikes from the shadows through real-world means. The dichotomy of the two characters is further revealed in the flavor text of "Hired Gun."
- The shadow on the back of his character card is 'Someone Unobtrusive' Christopher on the Forums
- The Chairman deck is supposed to symbolize the endless slough against fighting Organized Crime as no matter how much you take out Thugs new ones keep coming back Letter Page Episode 2
- Notes on Letters Page Episode 11:
- Chemist Jonathan Pike started a company in the early 1900s - Pike Biotech. The idea being to make lots of stuff to make people healthier and happier. Pharmaceuticals and other medical stuff, not snake oil. He was even fairly philanthropic; making a profit, but not price gouging. The Pike Industries name change happened after some years of success, accompanied by the building of the Pike Industrial Complex. A few years later, in 1924, Jonathan died in his early 50s (kind of weird - he was in good shape). His son, Graham, who was in his 20s steps into the leadership role. Graham is much more selfish, greedy, covetous, envious, etc. The guys confirm outright that Graham poisoned his father.
- Under his leadership, the prices go up and things become shady. The company makes drugs, but they now also make drugs. Human experimentation is common. Toxic waste/smog from Pike Industrial Complex are polluting Rook City - contributing much to the dank aesthetic that comes to mind when we think of the city (a far cry from Jonathan's vision). The illicit drug market in town is pretty much all his doing and between the drugs being present at all, the dealers on payroll, and the bribes and other corruption involved in keeping the authorities at bay he's contributing to the societal decline as much as the environmental one. He makes a deal with the Overbrook family, who'd fallen out of favor/power, to put them back into power for concessions.
- At this stage he doesn't really think of himself as being involved in "organized crime" - he sees it as largely a utilitarian outgrowth of his business needs.
- Mickey Boyle had been a presence in the underworld of Rook City for a while (prominent gangster in town around prohibition). He notices the rise of Pike Industries as a source of rivalry (including the drug trade which the established gangs had stayed out of to this point). Boyle's thugs round up a bunch of the Pike people and kills them - messing with their network and sending a message to Pike to stay out of it or come through the Boyle family to do this criminal stuff. Graham doesn't take this sitting down; using his influence in the administration of the city that was not available to the Boyles to arrange a police "raid" on the Boyle safehouse/compound that turned into a gun battle (actually intended from the beginning to be an action to wipe the Boyles out).
- Rook City is well on its way to being just a terrible place here after 15-20 years of Graham's leadership. Coming back to some comments about the highest murder rates that they made in last week's show notes, they mention that Rook City is (in modern times) probably worse than the top three on the list put together. I don't know exactly how canonical that kind of comment should be taken to be, but it's indicative of how the guys think about Rook City with respect to real world comparisons. At this point Pike has 1) infiltrated the police, 2) owns the mayor, 3) eliminated the existing crime syndicate and filled the resulting power vacuum, 4) started a major drug trade, and 5) polluted the city.
- Boris "The Bear" Sokolov was an up-and-coming criminal (and just a huge, hairy, scary guy who fought with knives) who Graham taps to run the remnants of the Boyle family territory/network. He also names this endeavor "The Organization" at this time. The Bear is in charge of the Organization as far as anybody else is concerned. Pike Industries is a separate thing entirely that Graham is running and nobody knows that the Bear reports to him (and is, in effect, the first Operative).
- A few things happen around this time. First, Black Fist shows up as a hero fighting Organization thugs and The Bear is a recurring enemy for him. Second, Pike, now in his mid-40s and recognizing that he won't be around forever, makes a pilgrimage to find someone rumored to have discovered the secret of immortality - Zhu Long. He doesn't find Zhu Long, Zhu Long finds him after hearing about this westerner going all over Asia asking about him by name.
- They come to an agreement. Pike will get the knowledge he seeks, but he gives up a finger (a pinkie finger) and a promise to return to share knowledge (Zhu Long being big on "knowing things"). In return for the finger, he gets a finger-sized vial of the red liquid that the guys discussed at length last week.
- Upon his return to Rook City, he hears about the trouble Black Fist has been causing and directs the Bear to handle it. Pike then turns to the company labs to analyze/synthesize the substance he got from Zhu Long. He has no intention to return to Zhu Long to fulfill his part of the deal. They manage to synthesize a serum that does many of the same things as Zhu Long's (notably it can't return people from the dead), but it allows him to arrest the aging process while simultaneously augmenting his strength and other physical attributes. The nature of the process means that it goes bad quickly and he needs to undergo treatment ("baths") with it regularly, so they have to have it under continuous production to keep him supplied with it. What he's learned from this process allows him to create further production lines for public consumption, however, so it's turning a profit even though his own treatments are expensive.
- The Bear and Black Fist have a big final showdown in Mystery Comics around this time and Black Fist is victorious, having defeated the head of the Organization. Pike lets the Bear know in no uncertain terms that he's not going to do anything to free him (or even bother killing him). As a replacement, Pike decides that rather than just picking somebody to run the Organization, he's going to "create" the person who will, assuming the identity of "The Chairman" as the leader of the Organization following the arrest of the Bear. The Chairman is a pseudo-mythical bogeyman running the show - I'm thinking kind of like a Keyser Söze thing. He also has to start being more hands-off around Pike Industries because he's no longer aging and he disappears from the public eye. He's still issuing orders, but from behind closed doors and it's not entirely clear if it's even him up there in Pike Tower because nobody's seen him for years.
- Five Branches of the Organization (with their own leaders, but those positions can have a high turn-over rate as members die, get arrested, get too close to finding out his identity, etc.):
- The Contract - manages all of the assassins, contract killings, etc.
- The Deputy - in charge of the corruption within the police force. The name is a bit of a misnomer as it's more frequently the chief of police or otherwise high up the ranks.
- The Fence - deals with any theft, money laundering, etc.
- The Informant - information gathering/blackmail. Acts as the Organizations "eyes" on the city.
- The Muscle - in charge of the boots on the ground, enforcers, the more common "street crime" types of things.
- Then he comes across Sophia DeLeon, a teenager with her own little gang and who (having once been a student of Harry Walker) is surprisingly proficient in martial arts. He sends a few underbosses to bring her in to meet him. She has impressed him and he offers to let her in on the day-to-day operations and she becomes The Operative. It's not quite the same as when the Bear was running things as she's still seen as the right hand of the person in charge instead of being in charge herself. Shortly, however, things are to the point where Pike can just delegate stuff to her and count on her to handle it. There will be an Operative episode (much) later.
- Iconography lesson: the Organization logo on the deck back means stuff. The right side is kind of like a dragon, which represents the Operative. The center line is the head of a pike, and the five sections on the other half represent the five branches of operations.
- There are still two things that Pike is more hands-on with (having delegated so much of the Organization to his Operative). Pike Industrial Complex itself and it's more secretive Barzakh Wing, an off-the-books offshoot. Part of the processes going on here are dealing with growing human body parts (Biomemetic Plasma Vats being a starting point of that process) with the eventual goal (unrealized in the card game timeline) of growing his own army, filling out the ranks of the Organization with perfectly loyal troops. The Supercooled Trisolvent Vats are used to freeze serums and other materials for later use (such as the elixir that he's got to have under constant production as mentioned earlier). He's got large stockpiles of stuff in a secret bunker.
- The Barzakh Wing has some even shadier stuff going on. They offer death row inmates a commuted sentence (down to life imprisonment) in exchange for participation in medical experimentation. They get plenty of volunteers, but they'd be better off just sticking with the death sentence. The experiments, involving injections with new potential drugs being developed by Pike Industries leave them with a tortured existence before dying anyway. Everybody who takes part in these experiments die (except one).
- Comparisons with Baron Blade. Ivan's definitely more intelligent and more of a visionary. Graham didn't build his own criminal organization from the ground up, he stole it from Mickey Boyle. He didn't build his own company, he murdered his father to get it. He didn't design his own serum, he got it from Zhu Long. He's just good at keeping these things going, making them work.
- Here's where Mister Fixer shows up and starts dismantling the Organization. He really manages to mess up the Operative in their next-to-last fight. Unlike with the Bear, Pike sees how useful she's been for over a decade and doesn't discard her for her failure here. He recovers her and uses his serum vat to repair her injuries and give her a one-off power-boost (she doesn't get the repeated treatments that he undergoes), but it's enough to give her an edge over Mister Fixer and to kill him as mentioned last time.
- With that distraction out of the way, the Organization is free to recover from the disruption that he caused and even make a move to get a foothold in Megalopolis (which fails). The Operative does get a few more treatments in the serum tanks (probably a total of 4 of them) before Zhu Long arrives. He knows that Pike has made his own serum and has no intention of filling his end of the bargain. Nobody gets to Graham Pike anymore, he's got too many layers of underbosses and other underlings (along with the fact that for the legit world he's kind of just faded away since he'd be so old now, right?), but Zhu Long and a score of servants just walk right into his office unhindered. As payment for the old deal, they kill the Operative and take her body when they leave.
- Questions (as usual, the questions are often funny in their own right, I'm trying to be succinct in my paraphrasing):
- Does he have any hobbies? His hobbies are crime and industry. He likes running the company. If he was just the Chairman of the Organization, he'd probably be bored while waiting for his underlings to report back.
- Where is Pike Industries going to dump their chemicals once the sewers aren't an option? Rook City's pretty old and has a pretty old sewer system and he's put a bunch of resources into digging into the old parts. It's also a pretty good system and he's not exactly likely to "fill it up" or anything. They've also just trucked tanks of stuff out of town when necessary.
- Was Plague Rat a deliberate creation? What was the purpose of the experiments that created him? Nope. Not an important part of the Chairman's story (which is why he wasn't mentioned earlier). The experiments had a lot of parts, hair-growth serum, hair-loss serum (to cause baldness to create need for the growth serum). Lots of both pharmaceutical drugs, but also new designer illicit drugs (mega-heroin, uber-meth).
- What other abominations has Pike created? Mutant rats, giant mutant cockroach, Spite, Miss Information (in her later appearance), Rook City itself.
- What is the relationship between Pike Industries and Revo-Corp? Revo-Corp has a presence in Rook City and they've had above-board business dealings. It's not like the Chairman and Baron Blade are interacting with each other using the companies as proxies.
- Which other heroes and villains have worked for the Organization (we already know about Expatriette, Heartbreaker, and Ambuscade)? The Hippo has, Spite kind of later, Equity was mentioned in the last episode but he does more for them than just that one job, Professor Pollution gets a lot of chemicals from Pike, Radioactivist. A lot of the Chairman's methods are to pay off somebody to cause trouble as a move in later to "fix" things under the guise of Pike Industries.
- What was the Organization during Vengeance or OblivAeon? Just doing business as usual during Vengeance - the Operative was kind of involved in a minor way in the aftermath. Sending people after Mister Fixer was more just clearing up loose ends than really being part of the overall Vengeance plot. The organization was more or less not involved in anything important during OblivAeon as the Chairman had disappeared at the time. More later.
- Does the Chairman ever get involved outside of the Rook City or Pike Industrial environments in the "main" timeline (citing a line from the Video Game trailer about him never leaving Pike Tower)? The trailer's dialog was talking about Graham Pike who is, for all anybody knows, this really old man that nobody's seen for decades who, if he's even still alive, is probably hooked up to all sorts of life-support machines up there and can't leave. He was involved in the push to get the Organization into Megalopolis, but he also made another trip to the Temple of Zhu Long after the Operative incident, so there's a canonical fight there - they're not exactly enemies or allies.
- If heroes of other villains enter Rook City, is he keeping tabs on them? Yes. General orders are to keep out of heroes' way. For villains, he's ready to take advantage of the aftermath of any fights but he's not interested in "team-ups".
- Has the Organization gone after Dr. Tremata and Tony Taurus? Tremata is a forensic scientist, Taurus is a private detective (and eventually becomes the villain Heartbreaker). Heartbreaker also being the person responsible for killing Dr. Tremata (on trial in the Celestial Tribunal environment), so the Organization converted one and eliminated the other through that.
- With all of the supernatural stuff going on, does he have any connection to that? He's aware of everything going on in town, but he's not actively involved in any supernatural stuff. He'd like to have that power, but he doesn't have it (and even more after Zhu Long just waltzes into his office).
- What's his stance on existential threats (like Voss or Omnitron threatening to kill everybody rather than the profit motive that Pike himself has), just count on heroes to save the day? Most of the time he has to just look the other way. He doesn't really care if Rook City gets blown up as he can generally profit from rebuilding. One exception...
- Anybody he's scared of besides Mister Fixer? What team takes him down? He's not scared of Mister Fixer and there isn't a hero team that "takes him down". When you play against his deck, you don't really feel like you've won as you've just fought through a portion of his crime empire. Sure he came out to personally fight for a while, but he just makes his escape eventually. He is, however, significantly concerned by Progeny. When he sees that happening, he legs it down to his secret bunker well under the lowest sewer levels after shutting everything down. Dark Watch (plus Harpy now), breaks into Pike Industries during that escape, but they're kind of too busy with Progeny at the time and he manages to seal himself away. Other than people who die, he's the only major player completely absent from the Multiverse events surrounding OblivAeon.
- Tactics: The destruction of Rook City resulted in the sewer collapsing into the upper levels of his bunker, compromising the vats that he was trying to grow his army of Spite clones in (similar to the Iron Legacy timeline) and the serum that he needed to maintain his relative youth. In Tactics we see a team of Spites with different abilities abilities working for Exemplar (Cyst, Demonfist, Grudge, Karnal, and Mindphyre), which is what remains of Graham Pike - more powerful/dangerous, but also less put together/sane. More public in his attempt to rule over Broken City.
- RPG: Since Rook City wasn't damaged as much, he just spends his time down there. Nobody knows what he's been up to since he's never discovered. Pike Industries is still running and is in charge of a lot of rebuilding. The Organization is still around too, with a new Operative (a brand new character). We the game players/podcast listeners know that it's obviously still him running things behind the scenes, but as far as anybody else in-setting is concerned it's just other people taking advantage of his absence like he took advantage of his father and Mickey Boyle.
- As a corrupt businessman and master of the underworld, the Chairman is very similar to the Marvel character Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin. As an immortal who rejuvinates himself in a mysterious liquid, he is also similar to the Batman villain Ras Al'Ghul.
- The scene pictured on the Operative's "Active" side is evocative of the climax of the film Scarface. Her "Incapacitated" side is styled after the art of Frank Miller.
The Chairman Flip
- The Chairman, Master of the Underworld: Removed a stray comma from his setup instructions.
- Perfect Human Specimens (x3)
- Prison Break (x2)
- Put all the Underboss cards from the Villain trash into play.
- Art: The Muscle lighting dynamite from a cigarette, by a prison window with The Fence.
- Flavor text: "Oddly, there were no officers on duty at the time." - The Deputy, Built in a Day #6
- "Rook City is Mine!" (x2)
- Play the top 2 cards of the Environment deck.
- Art: The Chairman faces front, behind him are two masked figures holding The Wraith in her Rook City costume.
- Flavor text: "I built this city; challenge me here and you will find out I am not just a creator... " - The Chairman, Rook City Renegades #4
- Undivided Attention (x3)
- If The Operative is active, she deals the Hero with the highest HP 4 Melee Damage. The Chairman deals the Hero with the highest HP 3 Melee Damage.
- Art: The Operative beating up Mr. Fixer while The Chairman looks on.
- Flavor text: "It seems you may be worth our time after all, Mr. Walker." - The Chairman, Engine Block Blues #1
- Crooked Cop  (x2)
- Reduce Damage dealt to The Chairmen, The Operative, and Underbosses by 1.
- Art: Cop watching a theft in progress.
- Flavor text: "Heh, I doubt you'll get the help you're looking for from the local law enforcement." - Tony Taurus, Mystery Comics #191
- Enforcers  (x2)
- At the end of the Villain turn, this card deals the Hero Target with the lowest HP Melee Damage unless their Player discards 1 card.
- Art: Group of enforcers.
- Flavor text: "No matter how subtle your enemy, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style." - The Chairman, Rook City Renegades #3
- Hired Gun  (x2)
- At the end of the Villain turn, this card deals each Hero Target 2 Projectile Damage.
- Art: Man holding a tommy gun against a wall with bullet holes and light streaming through.
- Flavor text: "Gunmen? Dangerous. Unpredictable. Not flashy enough." - Baron Blade, Burying the Blade #1
- Informant  (x2)
- When a Hero card is played, play the top card of the Villain deck.
- Art: Woman in a phone booth.
- Flavor text: "One man's mistake is another man's opportunity." - The Chairman, Built in a Day #2
- Thief  (x2)
- At the end of the Villain turn, destroy a Hero Ongoing or Equipment card.
- Art: A man's head upside down, as if descending from the ceiling on a wire, near a jewel in a case, surrounded by detector laser beams.
- Flavor text: "Ah, Rook City, where even your shoes would walk away if they weren't tied on." - The Wraith, Rook City Renegades #1
- The Broker  (x1)
- At the start of the Villain turn, play the top card of the Villain deck. At the end of the Villain turn, search the Villain trash for a card named Informant. Put it into play.
- Art: Woman holding a tablet computer.
- Flavor text: "Knowing is the half of it the other half is profit." - The Broker, Built in a Day #5
- The Contract  (x1)
- Increase Damage dealt to Hero Targets by 1. At the end of the Villain turn, this card deals the Hero Target with the highest HP 2 Projectile Damage. At the end of the Villain turn, search the Villain trash for a card named Hired Gun. Put it into play.
- Art: Man in white suit with gun.
- Flavor text: "It's nothing personal, you understand - just business." - The Contract, Built in a Day #1
- The Deputy  (x1)
- At the start of the Villain turn, all Crooked Cops regain 3 HP. At the end of the Villain turn, search the Villain trash for a card named Crooked Cop. Put it into play.
- Art: Man with police badge holding a wad of cash.
- Flavor text: "I, too, enforce the rules. My boss just pays better." - The Deputy, Built in a Day #2
- The Fence  (x1)
- Whenever a Hero card is destroyed, both The Chairman and The Operative regain 3 HP. At the end of the Villain turn, search the Villain trash for a card named Thief. Put it into play.
- Art: Man with eyepiece examining jewel.
- Flavor text: "The instincts for greed and violence are the two most reliable sources of income." - The Fence, Built in a Day #4
- The Muscle  (x1)
- At the start of the Villain turn, this card deals each Hero Target 2 Melee Damage. At the end of the Villain turn, search the Villain trash for a card named Enforcer. Put it into play.
- Art: Muscled man with crowbar, brass knuckles and UK flag tattoo.
- Flavor text: "I can do a great deal more than just scare you." - The Muscle, Built in a Day #3
Sentinel Tactics Power Cards
- When a card enters play, the following order of things occurs.
- Ongoing effects on the card become applicable.
- Cards that react to other cards entering play now act.
- One-time effects on the card happen.
- A well-known example of this is Informant. Suppose Informant and Combat Stance are in play and Legacy plays Inspiring Presence.
- Damage dealt by hero targets is now increased by 1.
- Informant causes The Chairman to play a card. Suppose it’s Undivided Attention, damaging The Wraith. Combat Stance reacts and its damage is increased by 1 due to Inspiring Presence.
- All hero targets regain 1 HP.
- The Chairman is the source of the retaliatory damage on his “Chairman Pike” side.
- The Chairman cannot deal damage if he has been destroyed. Non-existent targets cannot deal damage.
- The Operative’s text is adjusted to say “When The Operative would be destroyed, her character card flips instead.” This clarifies that she behaves like Baron Blade, and Sucker Punch does not lead to shenanigans.
The Operative clarifications
- The Operative’s character card does not include the keyword “villain”, so she’s just a character card and not a villain character card. Also, because she has a hero’s icon on her card, she follows the nemesis rules; in her case, she will do 1 additional damage to Mr. Fixer and will take 1 additional damage from him.
What happens if you defeat the chairman before you flip the Operative?
- Play continues as normal until you have defeated the Operative as well. the game does not immediately end if the Chairman is defeated before the Operative is. Also, as noted in Haka’s clarifications, if the Chairman is defeated by Haka while Haka has “Savage Mana” in play, and the Operative is in play, the Chairman’s villain character is put under “Savage Mana” like any card Haka destroys.