Wild Cards: The House Of Discards.
In late 1946, an telepathic alien race, the Takisians came to Earth to field test a highly advanced genetically engineered bioweapon, the Enhancer which was created in order to increase their own psionic powers that could finally give them an edge in their ongoing feuds with others of their kind.
Much to the chagrin of the Takisian geneticists, the Enhancer project was only partially successful. The virus could create new and amazing powers, but it killed most of those who were exposed to it ( On the planet of Takis, there was no concept of willing volunteers unless the experiment was a total success. The very few prisoners of House Ilkazam, the developers of the virus, sufficed though the Takisians were too arrogant to ever test the Enhancer on the non-telepathic individuals of their race, the common laborers known as the Tarhiji or “Mind blind”.) and left most of the survivors as mutated freaks. Of course they were all quickly and quietly put to death before came to term with their new found powers and deformities but the research team found that there were no more live test subjects left. This caused an quandary though not a ethical or moral one. The Takisians did not want to use the virus on themselves and devastate their own ranks. They did not want to use it as a weapon on another rival house and potentially leave the survivors with god like powers.
Testing it on the Tarhiji within their household was completely out of the question because it was considered extremely risky as some of the mind blind ‘secretly’ resented the ruling Great Houses and those who become too powerful after being infected by the virus might get lucky and escape before they can be executed as the other lab subjects were. Worse they could be tempted to disrupt and challenge the very foundations of the aristocratic society created by their betters.
Having a commoner become a god instead of the ruling classes is totally unacceptable.
However, they had put far too much time and effort into the virus to simply abandon the project. It was decided that a large scale test outside an controlled environment was needed in order to fully evaluate the virus. They chose Earth which they knew contained a genetically identical species as their testing ground. The plan was to release the virus in the upper atmosphere, exposing the whole planet to it, and then study the result
Despite the efforts of a renegade Takisian scientist soon to be named Doctor Tachyon and the pilot Robert “Jetboy” Tomlin, the extremely dangerous virus was released over New York City on September 15, 1946 and traveling through the jet stream, caused a worldwide pandemic. The viral particles, often inaccurately called “spores” is encased by a durable protein sheath and can survive almost any environmental conditions until coming into contact with a host organism. ( Humans of course. Animals and other forms of terrestrial life were not affected. )
As the virus can rewrite a subject's entire genetic structure in moments and no two beings coming out the same way, its unpredictable nature gave the virus the scientific classification of Xenovirus Takis-A but almost everyone just called it by its more common name, The Wild Card and the documented cases of the victims of the virus named in poker game vernacular. (See below).
90% of the people infected quickly die from the virus as the victim's body cannot assimilate the extreme genetic changes and most often the person dies horribly (drawing The Black Queen) as a result. Out of the surviving 10%, 9% or 90% manage to survive but suffer permanent physical deformities ranging from mild to the extremely grotesque (Jokers) though sometimes a few of them gained powers (Joker-Aces or more rarely, Jaces which rhymes with maces ), and the remaining 1% or 10% become gifted with superhuman physical or mental capabilities ranging from the useless such as growing facial hair at will (Deuces) to the powerful like receiving incredible superhuman strength and flight (Aces).
To this day, there is no known cure for the Wild Card save for the Trump Virus developed by Doctor Tachyon. The Trump also known as Xenovirus Takis-B is only successful in about twenty four percent. Forty seven percent of the time it doesn’t work at all and an appalling twenty nine percent of the time, it outright kills the patient. The New York City Jokertown Clinic only uses the trump virus as a last resort in the most severe cases where the victim has nothing to lose.
That was over seventy years ago and Wild Carders, Aces and Jokers alike, have come and gone since then. Doctor Tachyon founded a clinic in Jokertown, an seedy area in Manhattan which Jokers are forced to live although other “Jokertowns” has sprung up all over the country as well as the world. Eventually Tachyon vanished from public view and was rumored to be either dead or had somehow returned to Takis.
Unfortunately both rumors are indeed true. Tachyon returned to his home planet and took to rule his house after a bloody interplanetary war with his own psychotic grandson, Blaise. However his reforms did not suit well with other members of House Ilkazam and staging a surprise coup with the aid of House Vayawand, they killed Tachyon and all who had supported him including many members of his family.
Luckily before his death Tachyon managed to destroy the biogenetic labs along with nearly all samples of the dreaded Enhancer mutagen and research notes.
Unluckily the Takisians who now rule over House Ilkazam don’t really care as they have the means to create a new version of the Enhancer and they intend to finish what they had started seventy years ago: They would truly become as gods over the Earth’s dead dissected body...
...or will they?
Last edited by Shadow Mask; 07-09-2018 at 04:22 PM.
Re: Wild Cards: The House Of Discards.
Factions in Jokertown:
The Malakov Mafiya:
The Malakov Mafiya is a Russian criminal bratva (“brotherhood”) run by Gregor Malakov, an ex-KGB agent who started the organization in the city almost two decades ago. Malakov’s public identity is a secret; to law enforcement and lower-ranking members of his gang, he is known only as “Koschei the Deathless”— named for a mythical Russian wizard. The Mafiya thrives as the city’s most powerful criminal organization despite occasional problems with rival gangs especially in the lucrative Jokertown narcotics trade.
La Hermandad de Sangre (The Blood Brotherhood. Despite the name, women are active members.):
A primarily Latino street gang with ties to the Mexican Cartels and led by Jorge Hurtado, the ace known as Tribal. They were one of the biggest suppliers of many illegal drugs in Jokertown and serious competitors with the Malakovs until the rise of Joker gangs which cost the Brotherhood much revenue and ‘street cred’. At the urging of Tribal’s cousin, Dr. Juan Lopez; the Blood Brothers and Sisters made a deal with a pharmaceutical company, GeneSync Inc. for assistance in return for unique designer drugs that would undercut the competition and put the Brotherhood on top of most if not all of the city’s criminal activities.
The Alley Dogs:
A all-Joker gang, most of the members are violent and mainly interested in looking out for themselves, but they also realize there’s strength in numbers and they “defend” Jokertown from encroachment by other gangs with easy violence. The Alley Dogs runs drugs, terrorizes neighborhood businesses, commits muggings, recruits more and more Joker kids, and generally causes trouble for anyone who doesn’t belong on their turf, regardless if they are aces or nats.
Despite their resentment of non Jokers, they have no known ties to the Twisted Fists nor do they care to, sending the last fool who tried to recruit them into the Fists to the hospital....and missing his tongue. Known members include Pack Rat, Talona and Junkpile
The Looking Glass Gang:
Not so much a gang than an eccentric collection of equally eccentric acquaintances. The group of aces and jokers operates out of their nightclub, Wonderland in the heart of Jokertown. While not as exotic or kinky (and therefore not as interesting to the jaded nat “tourists’) as many similar establishments, Wonderland remains popular to most of the Joker population. It is widely regarded as neutral ground to the various organized crime factions, even The Blood Brotherhood and Alley Dogs don’t cause trouble here as they all need to get drunk and party without worrying about their enemies sitting mere inches away and trying to kill them.
The Looking Glass Gang generally keep to themselves and spend most of their time at Wonderland.
SCARE once attempted to raid Wonderland while looking for suspected terrorists and found out the hard way when the Looking Glass Gang, most of the Jokertown residents and even the local Jokertown police actively resisted the SCARE team of agents, with the cops arresting several of them including Billy “Carnifex” Ray on sight. This was nothing compared to what Koschei the Deathless with the aid of the mysterious Noel Matthews did to the politicians who actually sanctioned the raid: he merely bribed them along with using blackmail to officially disband and fire the entire SCARE field team save for Billy Ray who was told in no uncertain terms that if he ever show his face in Jokertown again, it will be his last visit.
Last edited by Shadow Mask; 07-09-2018 at 02:47 PM.
Re: Wild Cards: The House Of Discards.
The GeneSync Biopharmaceutical Incorporated ( or commonly known as GeneSync Bio or GSB) is a pharmaceutical development company. The company is relatively new, having been incorporated just three years ago. At least that is what is stated on paper. In truth the company did not spring overnight. It was originally the Jensik Medical Institute, founded in 1952 by millionaire businessman Otto Jensik, who was dying of cancer. Jensik knew it was too late for him, but wanted to leave a legacy behind, one which might find cures for others in the future. Jensik, a hard line businessman and outspoken opponent of government intervention, felt that only private enterprise could keep the medical field prosperous and profitable (and therefore still in business); consequently his namesake institute was to develop medical treatments and be very aggressive in their promotion and marketing.
However JMI became unpopular with the general public due to the extremely expensive costs of its medicines and the shoddy, impersonal treatment of its clientele by the medical staff especially toward Jokers to whom Jensik hated with a passion. JMI often clashed with Doctor Tachyon and advocated for the closing of the New York City Jokertown Clinic for years since its founding.
Upon Jensik’s death in 1970, an citywide investigation headed by then mayor Gregg Hartmann uncovered evidence of tax fraud and evasion and conspiracy against members of the Joker community by funding local hate groups to harass them. However the conspiracy charge was soon dropped due to lack of more reliable witnesses. ( This was later confirmed by Black Shadow in 1994 when he discovered links between JMI and the Card Sharks and that the harassment charges were indeed true but at the time Black Shadow was more concerned with destroying the Card Sharks than dealing what he thought was a mere front company.) Nevertheless many of JMI’s executives served jail time and the company had to pay millions in fines.
This did not mark the end of JMI as a whole but the company floundered in obscurity and bordering on the edge of bankruptcy for a great many years until 3 years ago when a new group of investors suggested to the board of directors that the company be given a name change, a fresh coat of paint around the premises and some falsified records to make it look like a new medical and pharmacological corporation was created with no one the wiser as JMI was entirely forgotten by now. In short, a thinly veiled excuse for a hostile takeover
Granted there were some who protested the move or either were holdovers from the seventies or too recognizable by those outside the company. They’re all ’retired’ now and the new investors practically became the board led by a former 1970’s teen heartthrob turned entrepreneur Todd Christopher.
And so GeneSync Bio was “born” and without the stigma of the JMI, business was booming with stock traded on the NYSE and other exchanges. Corporate offices are in Manhattan, with major branches in Boston, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Paris, Rome, Manila, Seattle and more recently the city.
The corporation is disliked by anyone having reason to oppose its elitist approach and lack of generosity, especially health insurance or Joker rights activists. On the other hand, the American Medical Association has no cause for complaint against GSB and the Food and Drug Administration has had no unusual complaints against the company neither.
Last edited by Shadow Mask; 07-16-2018 at 04:00 PM.
Re: Wild Cards: The House Of Discards.
The Science Of The Virus. (AKA The Boring Bits)
The wild card virus works by completely altering the victim's DNA. It's been theorized that the process is guided by the victim's own subconscious, influenced by the person's desires or fears. Not a popular theory to say the least among wild card victims especially to Jokers. The transformation is extremely individual, no two persons are affected in exactly the same way. In 90% of cases, the victim's body can't assimilate the extreme changes, and the person dies horribly. These cases are called black queens. From the survivors, 9 out of 10 are changed for the worse, becoming monstrous creatures nicknamed jokers. The miraculous 1% of infected are changed for the better and become aces, gifted with superhuman physical or mental capabilities.
It should be noted that not all infected by the wild card manifest the virus right away. In about 30% of cases, the virus stays dormant on the person's DNA. These are the latents; they can live normal lives for years until some physical or emotional trauma triggers the virus. And then they face the same odds as any other wild card, almost always dying or becoming jokers. The virus is inheritable and follows the same rules as any recessive genetic trait. The latents are the ones most likely to have children, since in many cases they don't even know that they carry the wild card. This does not mean that the child gains the same powers or deformities of the parent. The one and only known case of a child inheriting the same power as the parent is Mistral, daughter of Cyclone.
When a wild carder mates with a normal human, each offspring has a 25% chance of being born a full wild card, with a strong possibility of manifesting the virus at birth or even before, with the same 90-9-1 odds. There is also a 25% chance of the child being born completely normal. And a 50% chance of the child being born a "carrier." Carriers are unable to manifest the virus themselves, but they can pass the genetic trait to their descendants. When a wild carder mates with a carrier, the chances of wild card offspring are greater. When two wild carders mate, it's assured that all the children will be wild carders too. Even though they're invisible wild carders, it's the latents and carriers that pass the wild card gene to the next generation in even increasing numbers.
A blood test can identify the presence of the wild card virus on a person, even if that person is a latent.
The virus is specially made for human and Takisian DNA. It has absolutely no effect on animals. Other alien species also are unaffected.
Viral Aftereffects: Aces and Jokers.
Which powers an ace acquires when his wild card manifests depend on the ace's own subconscious desires and personality. A dedicated pilot like Black Eagle gained the power of flight, while a movie fan like Mr. Nobody gained shape-shifting abilities that allowed him to transform into any movie star. Sometimes, the powers are influenced by the circumstances of the stressful situation that caused the wild card to manifest. For instance, Cyclone gained his wind powers after a parachuting accident.
While most aces have a completely human appearance, some of them have minor physical alterations, like the Howler's distended throat. A very few of have large physical alterations, like Peregrine's angelic wings, but as long as they're attractive and accepted by human society, they're still considered aces. Classifications started to get blurred when an individual acquires both impressive powers and extensive deformities, like Troll, a superhumanly strong, nigh-invulnerable, 9-ft tall giant with green, horny skin. Such individuals are called joker-aces or Jaces.
There is no consensus among the scientific community about how ace powers actually work. One theory maintains that all wild card abilities are actually specialized uses of psionic ability, particularly telekinesis, "action over distance." According to them, a strong ace isn't actually using muscular power to lift huge weights, but a form of unconscious short-range telekinesis. Likewise, flying aces are supposed to be using telekinesis to lift and propel their own bodies. Fire projection can be explained as microscopic telekinesis exciting molecules, and shape-shifting is supposed to happen when the ace unconsciously manipulates his own atoms.
The psychic connection would explain why so many aces are dependant on props, gestures, or states of mind to activate their powers. Such "psychological crutches" are very common with aces. Hiram Worchester must make a fist to manipulate gravity, the Turtle needs the security of his shell to better use his telekinesis, and Captain Trips needs to ingest certain powders to transform into several superpowered alter egos. As long as they hold a deep belief that those things are essential to activate their powers, they'll continue dependent on them.
Then there is the fact some ace powers are biological like Golden Boy’s force field or Howler’s sonic scream instead of psychic.
Another characteristic common to many aces is an enhanced metabolism. Some aces need to eat larger quantities of food after using their powers. A few of them derive their energy from external sources, such as fire or radiation. No ace has an inexhaustible amount of power.
On the other side of the Card:
Joker deformities are extremely diverse and can be slight, severe, or anything in between. For instance, Xavier Desmond's nose has been mutated into an elephant's trunk, but he was otherwise a normal human, while the creature known as Snotman was a vaguely humanoid mass of disgusting mucus. Each joker is unique; no two jokers have exactly the same deformities.
It has noted that there are basically three kinds of jokers: animal-based jokers like Dr. Bradley Finn, who is a pony-sized centaur; variations of the human form, like Chrysalis, who has invisible skin and translucent flesh; and the rarest of all, the monsters of the id, creatures so twisted that they defy classification.
Not all jokers are physically deformed, though. Any wild card mutation that changes a person for the worse can be considered a joker. An example is the lovely Angelface, with her hyper-sensitive nervous system making the barest touch painful.
The exact nature of a joker's deformity is influenced by the victim's own subconscious fears and desires. In a sense, the wild card releases the inner demons of the psyche. A man that had a pathological hatred and fear of cockroaches became Kafka, a joker that looks like an humanoid cockroach. The theory that jokers choose their own deformities, in a way punishing themselves, is another reason for anti-joker prejudice.
Many jokers have minor abilities derived from their mutated physical forms. The dwarfish Gimli had slightly-than-normal physical strength, while the snake-like Lamia has a poisonous bite. A few of them have powers so impressive that they can be considered joker-aces, like Quasiman, the hunchbacked, joker who nonetheless possesses great superhuman strength and the ability to teleport.
One of the few traits that most jokers have in common is that their metabolism is so unique that medical treatment is more difficult. Practically every known disease is more severe when affecting a joker.
Re: Wild Cards: The House Of Discards.
The Allumbrados, or “The Enlightened Ones,” are an ancient brotherhood within the Roman Catholic Church concerned mainly with End Days theology with ties to the Inquisition since medieval times and currently commanded from within the Vatican as an unoffical “arm” of Opus Dei in the aftermath of former Allumbrados leader Cardinal Romulus Contarini’s death in the hands of John Nighthawk.
There are three levels of membership: credentus (or “believer”), obsequentus (or “obedient”), and perfectus (or “perfected”).
The Perfecti are the top echelon of the Allumbrados.
The Obsequenti, or "Obediants" are notable retainers of the Allumbrados and take their orders directly from The Perfecti.
The Credenti are the lowest ranked Allumbrados and generally take their orders from the Obsequenti, and sometimes the Perfecti. The majority of them are untrusted thugs or mercenaries.
The Allumbrados believed the Whore of Babylon (Peregrine, who has dared oppose the Church on virtually every issue imaginable, from abortion rights, to ordaining women for the priesthood, homosexuality, birth control, and even the doctrine of papal infallibility) and the Spawn of Satan (Fortunato, who is a drug-using pimp and noted pagan) offspring, John Fortune is actually the Anti-Christ. Their goal was to eliminate him and his father, opening the way for the second coming of the true Christ.
The organization was made up of aces and nats who are true believers (Magda, the Two Witnesses) and fellow travelers in it for the pay or for reasons of their own (Usher, John Nighthawk, Butcher Dagon, Blood and Buck).
Since becoming a part of Opus Dei, the leadership of the Allumbrados consisted of the Tribunal made of seven members of the two councils who advise the head of the Opus Dei known as the Prelate, the General Council (made up of men) and the Central Advisory (made up of women). The Tribunal reports directly to the Prelate and no one else; not even the Pope.
Their goals have shifted somewhat as Fortunato is long dead and Peregrine has scaled back on her public appearances and is considering retirement while her son John Fortune had faded into relative obscurity during the battle of New Orleans against Tom Weathers. Now they are doing the dirty work of Opus Dei.
The membership has also changed over the years with only Magda of the original team remaining with the Allumbrados and now is a Perfectus. (The Second Witness still in federal prison after his fight with the Midnight Angel while Usher and the rest of the survivors were merely cast aside).
- "Don't mess with Magda."
The new team, the Redeemers is led by Magda and consists of Apocrypha, Aureole, Dirge, Father Sebastian Rojas, Felicia DuMont, Fidei Defensor, Hexenhammer and Tenebrae.
Recently the Allumbrados opened a “chapterhouse” of sorts in the city, The Holy Church of the 7 Thunders under the guidance of Reverend Luke Butler.
Last edited by Shadow Mask; 07-16-2018 at 04:29 PM.