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History and Origins: From the first time Tarot came to the attention of law enforcement authorities in 1972, it was widely believed that the organization was one of the many results of the appearance of superhumans: a gathering of super powered criminals and heavily armed terrorists. It came to a great shock to those authorities to discover that the organization has existed, in one form or another, since the mid-sixteenth century.

Tarot was founded by Niccolo Machiavelli as a "wealthy gentleman's club".  It was originally a place where the financial and political elite of Europe could gather and discuss matters of import. As time passed, the group became more ruthless and exclusionary in its dealings, until only increasing the wealth of its members was important and all others were considered opponents to be crushed.

The leaders of Tarot were selected from the wealthiest and richest families around the world, as long as their "ethical temperament" was of the correct sort. Allegedly, Joseph Kennedy, father to President John F. Kennedy, was once a member of the ruling council.  Other names alleged to have been connected to the council were John Paul Getty, John J. Astor, Andrew Carnegie.  Since the advent of the metahuman, Tarot has recruited villains that fit the theme of of the Major Arcana in a Tarot deck.  This team answers only to the Emperor, going where he will and taking on any missions he so directs.  Technically, the Emperor himself is a part of the Major Arcana, though he rarely goes on any missions.

Contrary to public belief, Tarot does not engage in such small-scale crimes as common bank robbery or convenience store hold ups. Neither do they engage in wildly terroristic acts full of dogmatic statements but with little potential profit.  According to a source, the Emperor believes (most likely correctly) that such activities are pointless and don't bring in enough income to justify the risk.  On occasion, such activities might be undertaken on a grander scale (such as the 1985 robbery of the gold reserve of Luxembourg, in which Tarot made away with 1.3 billion dollars in gold before driven away), but only if they contribute to some greater goal.

Most of Tarot's income comes from perfectly legal sources. It is suspected that the organization is secretly a stockholder of several major corporations, and that they hold patent, through dummy companies and blind cut-outs, on hundreds of items found in the common home. Tarot's criminal activities include drug trafficking (especially in new designer drugs created in Tarot's laboratories), weapons smuggling (including the burgeoning trade in small-scale nuclear weapons), gambling, pornography, kidnapping, and extortion.

It is suspected that they control trade unions in several countries, and evidence has come to light that they run a "white slavery" ring, importing unsuspecting young American girls to Asia for use as "pleasure companions".  In addition, they are known to use sabotage, industrial espionage, and assassination against political and business rivals. They funnel money to various political organizations and strongmen around the world, usually through legitimate covers, in order to influence the global economic situation.

While individual cell leaders pursue their own projects (with the approval of their superiors, of course), the organization as a whole has several projects they are pursuing as a whole:

  • Project Myrmidon:  Project Myrmidon is a long-term research project looking into the feasibility of Tarot mass-producing its own genetically-enhanced (or outright designed) super-soldiers.  So far, Project Myrmidon has been little more than a money-sink for Tarot.  To date, the project has only produced a single soldier who wasn't a hyper-tweaked freak subject to sudden heart attacks or strokes.
  • Project Oz:  This project is an ongoing search for mystic artifacts thought lost to history.  The Emperor particularly has an interest in recovering the Spear of Destiny, which allegedly makes the one who possesses it invincible.
  • Project Paladin:  One of the largest thorns in the Emperor's side is Lord Doom.  For his own reasons, Doom has occasionally interfered in Tarot's schemes.  For this, the Emperor decreed in 1962 that the downfall of Lord Doom should be one of the primary goals of Tarot.  Over forty years later, Tarot is still working on it.
  • Project Monkeyhouse:  For similar reasons, Tarot is working to eliminate or neutralize Doctor Simian and his organization, Prime 8.  The Emperor sees this project as being a bit more urgent than Project Paladin, since Prime 8 is much more active (and violent, and abrupt) in their interference with Tarot.

Leader: The Emperor.

Area of Operation: Worldwide

Goals: Over the last four hundred years, the focus of Tarot has expanded from ruthless mercantilism to the eventual economic control of the entire world. The Emperor does not wish to control the world through politics or military might, but rather through business, money, profit, and economy... He knows where true power lies, and intends to be at the top of the heap.

Inter-Group Relations: Tarot's workaday agents, as well as the supervillains of the Major Arcana, are all very loyal to the organization, and for several good reasons. According to Checkmate intelligence, the organization pays well, offers excellent benefits, and has instituted several "family friendly" policies, such as parental leave and full medical and dental insurance, retirement funds, investment opportunities, scholarship programs, and daycare when needed. Despite the disbelief of Checkmate analysts, it appears that Tarot takes care of its employees better than even Checkmate and the Global Guardians do.

The tycoons and Captains of Industry who make up the Governing Council are apparently another story. While enjoying almost limitless wealth and privilege, most are loyal to the organization only because of their personal fear of the Emperor. While they follow his orders and are always careful to support the organization as a whole, they otherwise are divided into various factions. These factions constantly jockey with one another for influence, power, and profit. They scheme against each other in a Machiavellian dance of barely suppressed violence and hatred... an irony the Emperor truly enjoys.

Reputation: Tarot is considered by every law enforcement agency and group in the world to be the most dangerous criminal threat the world has ever faced. Their potential resources are almost unlimited, and their reach spans the planet. It is heavily suspected that they have been involved in the assassinations of at least three heads of state, and are known to have infiltrated the governments of both the United States and France on at least one occasion.  The general public considers Tarot to be a "super-mafia", a view the Emperor would find laughable if he knew about it... Tarot is much bigger and more powerful than all the other organized crime syndicates combined.

Most other criminal agencies treat Tarot very, very carefully...




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