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…
- 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.
This information is from the Miststorm Universe, one of two branching timelines. Products in this timeline are: Sentinel Tactics (and expansions). Prime War (and expansions)
Delayed: Part of the indefinitely delayed Battle for Broken City Core Set for Sentinel Tactics.
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.
- 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.
This information is from the Sentinel Comics Universe, one of two branching universes. Products in this timeline are: Sentinel Comics RPG.
- 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.