Notify Message
Forums
Page 1
Search
#14106798 May 04, 2019 at 10:34 PM
1403 Posts
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. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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).
#14111037 May 06, 2019 at 02:08 PM
303 Posts
Where is my "LIKE" button, I wish to spam it at you.

I'd been wondering how primus worked for a while, having added several of my clones to a work program run by primus for young metas at an nearby base.

Do they have their own superteams? I had thought I heard about one made of five cloned? Lab made? guys at some point.

You're the Best, Liaden!

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. Itโ€™s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly! East Briar Institute
#14111478 May 06, 2019 at 06:16 PM · Edited 4 months ago
1403 Posts
Sweet of you to say, Snookums, thank you. ๐Ÿ˜Œ

In past incarnations of PRIMUS its officials have generally displayed reluctance to recruit superhumans from outside the organization, preferring to stick with their Avengers. However, the PRIMUS source book alluded to earlier describes a group of diversely-powered supers designated, "the Prime Team," assigned to PRIMUS. Their official biographies gave most of them a military background, but they were in fact clones created from samples of several prominent PRIMUS operatives, and given false memories. Only a few within the organization are aware of their true origins, part of a more sinister "rogue" faction within PRIMUS. (Which demonstrates the influence of the Iron Age of comics, still going when that book was written.)

The books for the current official Champions Universe make no mention of the Prime Team, and as more info on PRIMUS is unlikely anytime soon, it would be up to CO players whether or not they want to use it. FWIW in my own PnP games I have used those characters as a military super team, but made their fabricated origin stories their true ones.

BTW the FBI, like PRIMUS a branch of the Department of Justice, does recruit superhumans to be special agents, sometimes assigned to specific cities/regions, like Kodiak and Teknique in Millennium City; while others are shuttled around the country as needed.
#14111783 May 06, 2019 at 09:24 PM
1403 Posts
For several years early in the millennium, Hero Games published a PDF magazine with articles covering a wide range of Hero gaming issues, called Digital Hero. A few of those articles updated and expanded the older material about PRIMUS. One of them, in Issue #2, described a PRIMUS division officially called the "Detached Department for Research and Experimentation of Metapsychic Activity (DDREMA)," but whom everyone in PRIMUS refers to as "the Wizards." Congress refused to fund the department when it was first proposed, but the then-director of PRIMUS put a number of agents on detached duty as an "unofficial" department. As presented in the article the Wizards are rather underfunded and mocked by their colleagues; but the various Area Agent Directors of the Wizards report directly to the Director of PRIMUS, so they're taken seriously at the top of the agency.

Hero Games management always stressed that anything concerning the Champions Universe appearing in DH should not be considered canon unless and until it made it into a published source book. But since there's nothing like that for PRIMUS on the docket, this might make a good basis to build from.
#14111805 May 06, 2019 at 09:38 PM · Edited 4 months ago
1403 Posts
There have been some questions raised as to the relationship between PRIMUS and UNTIL. The official source book for the latter agency, UNTIL: Defenders Of Freedom, addresses the matter in fair detail.

The United States is signatory to what's commonly called "the Tribunal Treaty," which "gives UNTIL the ability to operate without other restrictions [i.e. as per its charter] in any signatory state or international territory" (U:DOFp. 46). No more details about the treaty are given. UNTIL agents have "International Police Powers," a (fictional) authority to arrest anyone committing a crime in any signatory state (i.e. nation), although the definition of "crime" has to match the laws of said state.

The book also spells out quite a bit of international law, under which a sovereign state is considered to have primary jurisdiction over: anything that happens in its own territory; persons or things of its nationality anywhere in the world (including corporations and vehicles); protection against acts which threaten its existence or proper functioning, including internationally (such as counterfeiting currency); and to legislate against activities universally condemned, such as genocide (pp. 24-25). From this I would infer that in a case of dispute over jurisdiction, PRIMUS as an arm of the American Department of Justice would, strictly speaking, have authority to investigate, detain or arrest a suspect involved with any of the above mentioned spheres, over UNTIL. The concept of "jurisdiction" is rather vague, though -- probably deliberately so.

However, U:DOF underlines that UNTIL goes to great lengths to avoid or diffuse such disputes. It maintains an Ambassadorial Corps with ambassadors and staff to all signatory nations, as well as liaisons with major law enforcement agencies. Whenever time and circumstances allow it notifies appropriate law enforcement and governments before taking action on their territory, and coordinates its activities with them.

"Currently, UNTIL-U.S. relations range from coolly cordial to extremely friendly, depending on the personnel involved and the situation." (U:DOF p. 47) Page 46 also describes UNTIL and PRIMUS as "friendly rivals." To me this implies that generally the two organizations cooperate when appropriate, but that conflicts likely do happen in the field from time to time; but if they do, the situation would almost certainly be referred to representatives of the higher-ups of both organizations for resolution. Neither party would desire a diplomatic incident. I should also add that even if the criminal is wanted in another country, the nation where the criminal is arrested would have to go through an extradition process to send him to that country -- assuming the two states have an extradition treaty.
#14112036 May 06, 2019 at 11:23 PM
303 Posts
side question: if UNTIL is a subagency of the united nations- they cant go into non-un ratified nations to act right? So if I want to have the Evil Villain Lair[tm] I should find a country not on the list to base out of and be safe from until? I'm understanding that correctly, yeah? :)

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. Itโ€™s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly! East Briar Institute
#14112910 May 07, 2019 at 07:22 AM · Edited 4 months ago
1403 Posts
You are indeed. In fact several countries are noted as being of concern to UNTIL from a world-security point of view, in no small part because they refuse to sign the Tribunal Treaty and allow UNTIL to operate within their borders. That list actually included the United States, until the aftermath of the Battle of Detroit in 1992. PRIMUS was founded in 1986 partly to deflect political criticism of the government for refusing to sign. (Mechanon having nearly taken control of America's nuclear arsenal the previous year, was another big impetus.)

Today China is the most prominent non-signatory nation. However, there are several fictional countries on Champions Earth which also exclude UNTIL, and even offer haven to criminals wanted elsewhere in the world, which would be particularly appropriate sites for your Evil Villain Lair[tm]. You'll find them described on this forum thread: Fictional Countries on Champions Earth.
#14113609 May 07, 2019 at 02:02 PM
303 Posts
*Evil finger Triangle* Oooh. OOOH. Thank you Liaden :D

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. Itโ€™s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly! East Briar Institute
#14115988 May 08, 2019 at 11:20 AM · Edited 3 months ago
1403 Posts
As this thread is mirrored on the main discussion forums for Champions Online, when questions there raise relevant issues, I also transcribe my responses here.

As per the official time line for the current incarnation of the setting (laid out in detail in the most recent edition of Champions Universe), in 1980 Congress passed the American Superhuman and Paranormal Registration Act (ASPRA, frequently called just "the Registration Act" by superhumans). In principle, ASPRA requires all innately-powered superhumans to register with the federal government, providing information on their true identities, the nature and extent of their powers, and so forth. Costumed crimefighters using super-technology were also required to register under different provisions of the Act, and to reveal the capabilities (but not precise technical details) of their devices.

In practice, the general popularity of superheroes, and the American government's frequent need for them to help combat various menaces, has kept the government from actively pursuing supers who don't register. Instead the government adopted a strategy of attrition. As supervillains were captured, they were identified as extensively as possible, and the information entered in the ASPRA databases. When superheroes needed government assistance or law enforcement sanction (as they often did), the price for cooperation was registration. Neither side was very happy with the result, but in the end it (mostly) got the job done, and allowed the United States government to build the worldโ€™s second-largest database on superhuman powers (after the one maintained by UNTIL).

As PRIMUS has principle jurisdiction over dealing with crime in America involving superhumans, responsibility for registration and record keeping was turned over to PRIMUS when the agency was founded in 1986. As of the last published word on the subject (circa 2010), the ASPRA databases had never been penetrated by outsiders, nor had any information obtained through the Act ever been improperly used against a registered superhero. OTOH ASPRA information about supervillains is freely distributed to law enforcement agencies who need it.
#14115995 May 08, 2019 at 11:24 AM
1403 Posts
In the United States it's legal for a private citizen to use lethal force in defense of oneself or someone else, provided one had reasonable expectation that a person was under imminent threat of death or severe bodily harm, and there was no reasonable alternative. Whether those actions were in fact reasonable is typically judged in a court on a case-by-case basis. A number of Champions heroes have gone through that process over the years, and been exonerated. However, law enforcement in general is very hostile toward vigilantes who routinely kill, torture, or otherwise violate criminals' civil rights and due process. There's no reason to believe PRIMUS is any different.

Probably the highest-profile vigilante in the Champions Universe is known as Thunderbird, a cross between Marvel Comics' Punisher and Scourge of the Underworld (written up in Champions Villains Volume Three: Solo Villains). Thunderbird has murdered over three dozen supervillains, but never anyone not wanted for a serious crime. But his character sheet notes that he's pursued by PRIMUS for capture, like any other criminal.

As my previous post outlines, PRIMUS and the American government in general has options for keeping overtly-violent "heroes" in line, beyond simply arresting them.
#14118860 May 09, 2019 at 03:44 PM
1403 Posts
Once more, a question on the Champions Online forums has raised an issue which probably fits here.

so...do supers have access to the basic info in PRIMUS profiles on other supers, or just villains? or do they even have access to that kind of data at all?โ€‹โ€‹

(Please keep in mind that most of what I'm about to express is my opinion extrapolated from the information given about how the ASPRA database operates. I'm not affiliated with either Cryptic Studios or Hero Games, who could clarify or contradict what I'm about to write at any time, should they wish to.)

From the given details already cited, I'm sure that any super employed or sanctioned by the American government would be able to obtain ASPRA data on any supervillain relevant to whatever case or mission they may be involved in. They may have broader access if their work directly involves national security or law enforcement. I'm less confident that just by being registered, a superhero would be able to peruse supervillain data at their leisure. They'd probably need to submit a specific request, like an access to information request, adjudged based on need to know and the superhero's standing. After all, the FBI doesn't share all its data on criminals with the average citizen without good cause.

OTOH I'm very confident that access to superhero data would be highly regulated. Probably only government officials directly tasked with gathering and collating that data would regularly be allowed to view it. Given security and privacy concerns, what even they can access might be compartmentalized into restricted fields. There must be procedures for other officials to view excerpts from it, but I expect they would require a defined justifiable reason, e.g. a court order relevant to a criminal investigation, or a national security concern.

Consider also that the Sixth Edition Champions PnP write-ups for most of its villains include various details about each, some of which are public knowledge most people are aware of, or could easily ask around to find out; while others require research to unearth, in some cases very difficult research.
#14149230 May 21, 2019 at 08:30 AM · Edited 4 months ago
1403 Posts
Another response to a question on the Champions Online forums: Going off of PRIMUS, is it possible to transfer to UNTIL from PRIMUS?

There's no legal or societal bar to an American citizen who worked for PRIMUS quitting that agency, and then taking a job with UNTIL, or vice versa. Many Americans already work for UNTIL. Mind you, as one's position in PRIMUS rose up the chain of command, there'd probably be increasing concern within its governing body about classified information being shared with a "foreign" group if that person leaves for the multi-national UNTIL. For the rank-and-file, though, that shouldn't be an issue. However, there's no procedure for "transferring" from one of those agencies to the other. UNTIL and PRIMUS report to completely separate authorities, and share no administrative connections.

The most likely motivation for a change of agency would be an agent deciding he/she prefers the goals and policies of one group over the other. For example, PRIMUS members largely view themselves as American patriots with a "USA first" attitude, while most UNTIL employees are committed internationalists.
#14152866 May 24, 2019 at 06:46 AM · Edited 4 months ago
1403 Posts
The general public has been led to believe that Cyberline is a drug treatment and biofeedback training, but it's actually a type of gene therapy. Genetic material collected from several superhumans (the method of collection isn't specified) is introduced into a genetically-compatible subject via an RNA retrovirus. The result is low-level superhuman strength, speed, durability, and visual acuity. The treatment is described as "mildly addictive," and the accelerated metabolisms of the Avengers make them more susceptible to drugs and toxins (a fact the government keeps secret). Avengers require daily booster doses of Cyberline to "update" and "correct" their genetic modifications.

It's possible for someone to have a stronger than normal, and even permanent, positive reaction to Cyberline. One candidate for Silver Avenger gained physical power even greater than the Golden Avenger, perhaps due to a latent mutation being activated. He became a government superhero code-named Liberty Guard. (A character called Liberty Guard appears in Champions Online: https://pwimages-a.akamaihd.net/www/1d/b3/1db31d9388e3514e2adfbc71a00af9741341355854.jpg )

The ultra-top-secret Department 17, the Defense Department's hub for research into more reliably creating, and controlling, superhumans, is currently devoting much of its resources to trying to improve the Cyberline treatment, combining it with drugs and chemicals, radiation, and other exotic agents.
#14152877 May 24, 2019 at 07:03 AM
1403 Posts
As per that earlier PRIMUS source book, Assault Agents almost always function as members of their squad, assigned specific missions by their superiors. OTOH agents of the Intelligence division have more latitude to pursue investigations independently, and frequently work solo. Unlike Assault Agents they don't normally engage in combat... unless you'd like one to be able to. ๐Ÿ˜‰

While the current info about PRIMUS makes no mention of the agency using supers other than Avengers, there's nothing explicitly forbidding the practice. Intelligence Division might employ a super whose abilities are more information-gathering than combat. I'd say it's also more likely for PRIMUS to keep a super who gained superhuman powers after he or she became an agent, rather than recruit an existing super.
#14153907 May 25, 2019 at 04:59 PM
303 Posts
I was under the impression [ perhaps incorrectly?] that the cyberline was basicly derived from them juicing a captured Russian mutant from the cold war?

Also is it "silver" coloured?

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. Itโ€™s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly! East Briar Institute
#14153916 May 25, 2019 at 05:26 PM · Edited 4 months ago
1403 Posts
What you're probably thinking of is the origin of Cyberline from the 1998 PRIMUS book. However, in that book the "juice" was actually extracted from an American, a Marine Corps engineer during the Korean War, named Isaac Rosenberg. When then-Lieutenant Robert Kaufman (later to become the first Golden Avenger) learned of Rosenberg's paranormal powers, Kaufman framed him on trumped-up charges of working for the Communists (Rosenberg did have communist political sympathies). Officially listed as MIA in Korea, Rosenberg was kidnapped back to the United States and placed in suspended animation, his DNA experimented on for almost a decade until the Cyberline process was perfected.

Like I mentioned before, Iron Age of comics. ๐Ÿ˜ช

Cyberline is never described, not even how it's administered -- pills, injections, beverages? It's always just described as "given" in "doses." But the "silver" association comes from the first successful super created from it, the Golden Avenger. As the process for making the GA is difficult and very expensive, corners were cut to use Cyberline to create a small force of somewhat less powerful supers than the Golden Avenger, designated "Silver Avengers."
#14154006 May 25, 2019 at 11:05 PM
303 Posts
Oh- maybe that's it. Is the cyberline also employed to keep the silver avengers from breeding? I vaguely recall that as well.

Teleios Clone Mark II: I wish Teleios would create some perfect women. Itโ€™s lonely out here!
Snookums! The Snookii! Homicidal Cheerleader! Klepto Elf! Molly! East Briar Institute
#14154191 May 26, 2019 at 05:01 AM
1403 Posts
The official line was that Cyberline did indeed cause sterility, but that was another lie. The US government didn't want the the potential complication of a bunch of super-powered children, so fertility-suppressing drugs were deliberately included in the Cyberline treatments without the Avengers' knowledge.

In case I didn't make it clear, I really don't miss the Iron Age. ๐Ÿ˜
Page 1