Arachnos is the criminal empire that has 'gone legit' by taking over a nation and setting itself up as a government, complete with U.N. representation. They run the City of Villains, and everything that happens in the Rogue Isles happens because they allow it to - if it helps Lord Recluse fight his nemesis, Statesman, and his Paragon City, anything's fair game. They are a spider-themed group which appears with their robots (Arachnobots), cyborgs (Tarantulas) and special forces (Wolf Spiders). They also have divisions of mystics based on the Mu bloodline, the ancient enemies of the Circle of Thorns, as well as numerous Fortunata psychics. They are willing to experiment in almost any field; biology, magic, time travel, alien technology, ancient artifacts, and so on, in order to gain power. Operation: Destiny, which is the basis for the entire CoV game story, is just one such project. They also have numerous factions which are constantly in conflict, Lord Recluse himself stole control of the organization from another.
- Lord Recluse
- Ghost Widow
- Captain Mako
- Black Scorpion
- Ice Mistral
- Silver Mantis
The CoH universe has a diverse pantheon of gods. Some of these gods were involved with the Oranbegan(Circle of Thorns)/Mu conflict in ancient times, the Banished Pantheon serves gods even darker than those, which says something. Although banished to another plane of existence by the goddess Tielekku, they can manifest themselves as masks and totems, these gods of desire, fury, pain and death. Their minions are undead zombies mystically resurrected by the mid-level members, the Shamen. In Paragon City they destroyed the zone of Astoria with a spell gone wrong, and have taken over a portion of Striga Isle, both places with large cemeteries. They are mostly known as a highly annoying group to fight, due to their Hurricane and Earthquake powers. Their single notable character is Adamastor, a giant zombie the Pantheon found off the African coast and brought to Paragon.
Carnival of ShadowThe Carnival appears shallow at first glance - hot chicks who love to party, and perfer to rob people rather than work to support their lifestyle. Their secrets are not under their masks - they're within them. Their power comes from their leader, a powerful psychic called Vanessa de Vore.
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The true power behind the throne is a woman named Giovanna Scaldi, who was a mutant born in the 17th century with the power to control minds. She used the power to satisfy her every whim, but she was eventually chased down by a priest, also a mutant. Her mystically-oriented lover hid her spirit within a mask to sneak her away, but he was caught and she was never freed. Until, that is, her descendant Vanessa found the mask on a trip to Europe. Although she resisted the lure of the mask for a time, when the Rikti War came she knew she would need the power to help Paragon. And help she did, but once she'd given into the power of her ancestor there was no turning back. Although the girls who join her Carnival do so willingly, with the power comes a piece of Vanessa and Giovanna's souls, which makes them little more than slaves to the Carnival of Shadows.
Circle of Thorns
The Circle of Thorns is one of the major villain groups and can be found in every level range. They are based on an ancient civilization known as Oranbega, which was reawakened decades ago by the cultist Baron Zoria.
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Zoria was used as a pawn, however. The spirits he awakened possessed him and his followers, and ever since they've been tricking people into inserting 'Thorns' into their hearts. The Thorns bring power, as promised, but they also allow the Oranbegans to possess them. They were not originally evil, however. Having earned the anger of the goddess Hequat, she turned the civilization of Mu into warriors whose only purpose was to kill the Oranbegans. In defense they sunk their city beneath the earth, but even that was not enough, so they made a deal with the Envoy of Shadows for Leviathans, Behemoths, Hordelings, Succubi, the Thorns, and other weapons. In return, they were to destroy the Mu entirely...but they showed mercy to their enemies after defeating them, and for that they were damned. Thousands of years in darkness have twisted them, and they are merciful no more.
- Akarist (Circle turncoat)
- Envoy of Shadows (Behemoth Arch-Villain)
- Baphomet (Behemoth Arch-Villain)
- Lilitu (Succbus Arch-Villain, also Infernal's mother)
- Caleb (Spectral Giant Monster)
The Clockwork are mysterious robots that challenge the newer heroes, they single-mindedly serve their master the Clockwork King. For the most part they look like windup toys made from scrap metal, although an unknown power source allows them to fire dangerous blasts of electricity.
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The Clockwork are in fact not robots, but puppets. They are telekinetically controlled directly by the Clockwork King, who must be one of the most powerful psychics on the planet to control so many at such distances. He also seems to suffer from insanity and multiple-personality disorder, since he seems to believe his puppets are actual robots, and not being controlled by him.
He's also distinctive for being a brain in a jar atop one of these puppeted monstrosities. This goes back to before the Rikti War, when he was apparently killed by Blue Steel after having killed several police officers. When the Clockwork first reappeared after the war they seemed to be helping to clear the rubble, but it became apparent they were only looking for scrap metal, and will hurt anyone who tries to interrupt them.
The Council has its roots in Mussolini's fascist government, although there are hints that it may have started as a splinter group of Arachnos. For decades they went by the name of 'The 5th Column', led by Requiem, but when the Peacebringers arrived in December 2004 they dropped this cover. There was much in-fighting during this period, most likely due to two factors: Ayran racists probably didn't take well to finding out they were working with aliens (The Nictus), and because Requiem was less than pleased about having to turn control over to his true master, The Center. There are in fact a multitude of factions within the Council: the Nictus, the Center loyalists (with the elite Ascendant troops), the Vampyri, the roboticists, the anti-alien remainders, and so on. They are united in a desire to conquer the planet, but it is easy to get one faction to turn on another. They are mostly based on Striga Isle but have troops almost everywhere in every level range, including a base on Sharkhead Isle.
Crey Corporation will do anything for a profit, and has an army of lawyers to keep the law and public opinion on their side. Every time they get caught doing something illegal, it always turns out to be the work of "rogue operatives". Sample black op activities include: illegal Rikti research, cloning of both living and dead heroes, environmental destruction, kidnapping, electronic surveliance, and so on. The company was founded by Count Crey who has fallen into a coma under mysterious circumstances, and is now headed by the Countess Crey.
Little is known about the origins of the Devouring Earth. They are mostly made up of inanimate turned animate: rock, plant, crystal and fungus men. The Devoured are even more sinister; they are humans who have been turned into monsters and now serve only the Hamidon. Greater Devoured are often those who had superpowers when they were human. At any given time there are dozens of gigantic monsters roaming in The Hive and north of Peregrin Island, they seem to spread across zones like a virus and are even seen in the Rogue Isles. Their leader is the amorpheous blob known as the Hamidon, which sits in the center of The Hive, off of Eden, which has also fallen to their overgrowth. This creature takes dozens of heroes to defeat and can reassemble itself within hours.
Hamidon is, in fact, a gigantic hippy. He injected himself with a bacteria that turned him into his current state, and also animates his minions. He dreams of converting all human civilization back into this state of nature.
The Family is a fairly nondescript group, imagine the colorful villains of Dick Tracy with a bit more Italian influence. They're pretty low-threat and mostly focus on smuggling and extortion. Sebastion Frost controls the Paragon Family while Emil Marcone is in charge of the Rogue Isles (with the Mooks fighting for control lead by Guido "The Mooch" Verandi).
The Freakshow is one of the most colorful villain groups and is one of the dominating groups in the mid and late game. They were originally just a gang of anarchists, until they came upon a stash of the Excelsior drug that had fallen off a truck. This drug allows them to withstand incredible amounts of pain - which allowed them to amputate their limbs and replace them with metal. The higher the rank, the more they've replaced; Freak Tanks are little more than torsos in a metal shell. Imagine 'Fight Club' on crack, they will go on rampages for no apparent reason and frequently compete with each other. If one may wonder how drugged-up anarchists can create cybernetic limbs, consider this: many Freakshow were formerly disaffected IT employees for companies like Crey. Also, they've recently begun hiring Meat Doctors, former surgeons who worked with Dr. Vahzilok.
The Hellions are a minor street gang. Most are armed with only knives or shotguns, but they are demon worshippers and through the use of mystical artifacts their bosses have control over fire. They're friendly with the Outcasts and Warriors, and always fighting with the Skulls, particularly in Perez Park.
The Hydra are natives of another dimension, brought here by the Rikti to presumably create chaos. They're mostly limited to Perez Park and the Sewers.
The Lost are a gang made up of mutated homeless, preaching about a beneficial change to mankind (which, obviously, must come about violently). Their leaders have psychic powers, but at an unknown cost to body and mind.
The mutation is a result of Shift, a Rikti drug. The Lost are, in fact, used as pawns by the Rikti, and to bolster their numbers which would otherwise only decrease now that they've been cut off from their home.
The Malta Operatives are agents of a shadowy para-military organization. Originally created to fight communism, they now fight for their own vision of 'freedom', which means, you're free to do what they let you do. They have a strong anti-meta standpoint and often subvert metahumans into joining them by various means. If they can't get a hero to join them, they have no problems killing them. Their heavy firepower comes from their Titan cyborgs, which can combine when taking damage.
Nemesis is perhaps the oldest "modern" villain group, having been active since the late 1800s. Nemesis is known as the "Prussian Prince of Automatons", and has been kept alive for over a hundred years by his steam-driven machines. Although he uses antiquated weapons styles, they manage to be superior to most modren weapons. He is the master of mind-twisting plots, and seems prepared for every situation with back-up plan after back-up plan. He is also almost impossible to find, as Fake Nemesis robots that look identical to him run many operations, and any can be used as a new suit of armor for him should he need to.
The Outcasts are a low-level street gang of elementally-powered mutants, although low ranking members hardly have any power at all. They are led by Frostfire, a failed hero, and spend most of their time fighting with the Trolls.
Prisoners are often seen around the Ziggurski Prison, which seems to have something of an open-door policy (although there have been claims that Crey experiments in Brickstown have been interfering with their security). While many escape to rejoin their former groups, or are broken out as Destined Ones by Arachnos, these seem content to hang around the Zig and beat up police officers until a hero puts them back in their cells (for a few more hours, at least).
Although not seen in person until the mid-game, their legacy can be seen all over Paragon. Many zones still lie in ruins after the Rikti War, and they still control large sections of the Rikti Crash Site. For the most part, their current motives seem to be survival and making contact with their home dimension, which was shut off at the end of the War.
Rikti are, in fact, humans who took a different evolutionary path at some point. With some modifications they can use human organs for transplants, as their own burn out quickly. Also notable is that they apparently killed all the gods of their dimension, so they have no experience with magic.
Shivans are the result of mysterious asteroid fragments combining with human corpses, like a product of Tiberium from a Command and Conquer game. They resemble blobs of goo and can fire radiation blasts, and usually remain in Bloody Bay, where the fragments landed.
The Skulls are basically the opposite and equal of the Hellions. A low-level street gang centered around King's Row and Perez Park, they're usually just muggers and carjackers. Like the Hellions though, their bosses have formed a death cult that gives them demonic powers - unlike the Hellions fire, they control darkness. They have ties to the Trolls and the Family, as part of the city's Supradrine network. It's said their bone masks are actual skulls they dig up as part of their initiation.
- Marrow Snap
- Marrow Drinker
The Sky Raiders are former soldiers who have gone mercenary. Like the Malta Operatives they have a dislike for 'metas', but they're mostly just in it for the money. They're mainly known for their jet packs and teleporter packs, as well as their force-field-generator-building engineers. Although they've recently built a few bases around Sharkhead Isle, they're not a significant threat, and it appears they've pissed off Arachnos about something or other (didn't pay the proper bribes, perhaps). They are led by Colonel Duray, their former commander when they were still in the U.S. military.
Soldiers of Rularuu
Rularuu is the god of the Shadow Shard, and even though he seems to be gone his soldiers fight on. They mostly patrol the Shard and fight off invaders, or spend their time futilely attacking Faathim's Citadel. They have a talent for hitting players weak spots, with the psychic Wisps, and the Watchers who see through stealth and rip through most defenses.
A fairly low-key group, the ghosts of dead pirates haunt Fort Hades in northeast Port Oakes at night, and are also said to be seen in Bloody Bay, and near a shipwreck by Thorn Isle in the Nerva Archipeglago.
Just say no to Superadine, kids, or you'll turn into a Troll! Not only do they look green and grow horns, they're also known for hanging out under bridges in Skyway City. They're also quite stupid and violent. All this is due to prolonged usage of 'Dyne'. They promote a 'survival-of-the-fittest' philosophy, with their leaders being the ones who can beat up the rest. Their current leader is Haripual Atta, who hangs out in the Hollows (which was once Eastgate, until the Trolls blew it all to hell, accidentally).
What superhero game would be complete without ninjas? The Tsoo are a Hmong (Korean) gang, who drove out the Chinese Triads. In addition to fighting skills, they cover themselves in tattoos made with a magical ink, which gives them powers. Their bosses are among the most varied in the game, with various 'schools', each with different powers: Far Fire, Copper Serpent, Herald, Last Son, and so on. Their leader is the so far unseen Tub Ci.
Dr. Vahzilok is a man with a dream: the end of death. Unfortunately, he's willing to kill to reach it. He and his followers use cybernetics and involuntary organ transplants to create zombies. Those who help fund him can become Eidolons, who are grafted with body parts of superhumans, usually granting radiation or darkness powers. Although Eidolons keep their intelligence, they can sometimes become distraught after finding out what eternal life really looks like. Dr. Vahzilok himself is known for fighting inside a giant zombie 'meat suit', with club-like arms and an attached grenade launcher.
The Warriors are a rare thing: a street gang with honor. They fight using ancient weapons like swords and maces, and pride themselves on their skill. Their main crimes are beating other gangs up and trading in the black market for magical artifacts with the Hellions. They are one of the gangs looking for their 'big break', although they don't have any grand schemes in particular.
The Cabal is almost a hero group, but their tendency to harrass men and attack heroes makes them criminals. They are witches, the only survivors of the famous missing colony of 'Croatoa' fame. Several hundred years of fighting the Red Caps, the gnomes who pulled them into the spirit realm, has made them distrustworthy of outsiders. They also fight the Red Caps' servants, the Tuatha de Dannon with the help of the Fir Bolg. If a hero can earn their trust, they may fight alongside them.
The Infected are similar to the Contaminated found in the tutorial of City of Heroes, however these freaks are created by drinking polluted water rather than a Rikti drug. For the most part they fight with the skill of an average zombie, but some few Infected actually gain superpowers from drinking the water. Arachnos uses them as a trial for new villains arriving on Mercy Island.
The Fir Bolg are based on an ancient Celtic legend, here they and their enemies the Tuatha de Dannon have been kept in the spirit realm for centuries by the evil Red Caps. While the Tuatha are slaves to the Red Caps, the Fir Bolg fight against them with the Cabal's help. They'll also attack anyone else who gets involved, their fight is all they know now. All members resemble sticks with pumpkins for heads of various sizes, their largest members are the Eochai, which are about 20–25 feet tall.
Ghosts appear in various locations throughout City of Heroes. They can most often be seen in Croatoa with its blending of the real world and the spirit world; they also spawn with the Ghost Ship as it passes through Independence Port and Talos Island. There are also some alternate universes populated only by ghosts after some disaster.
Minions of Igneous
Exactly what the Igneous are is unknown, they only recently appeared after the 'Hollowing' of Eastgate. The rock men come in forms of pumacite and molten rock, and speak their own language. The Circle of Thorns has shown an interest in learning more about them, for their own gain.
Knives of Artemis
The Knives of Artemis are an all-female mercenary team that often works alongside the Malta Operatives. They are known for their long knife-like swords and their stealth suits. They mostly seem only interested in the money, but a small inner core seems to follow a goddess cult of some sort.
The Nictus are too few to pose a threat to heroes on their own, but will sometimes appear to fight groups that have Kheldians on the team. They mostly work with the Council, but they will fight alongside any group in order to fight Kheldians. These Nictus almost always appear in the Kheldian Nova or Dwarf forms, however Shadow Cyst Crystals can be used to summon Nictus in their unmerged form from anywhere in the universe. In their unmerged form, Nictus appear to be puffs of purple smoke.
Unlike Peacebringers and the reformed Warshades, Nictus take unwilling hosts by force, and can kill other Kheldians to replenish their own life energy. Earth is just another battlefield to them, their main motivation is to defeat the Peacebringers.
The Praetorian universe is a mirror of the main City of Heroes universe, where heroes are evil and villains are good. The Carnival of Shadows, for example, is known as the Carnival of Light in this universe. The Praetorians themselves are evil versions of the Freedom Phalance and Vindicators, each member has a small army of minions that fits their own personality (robots, ninjas, gimps, etc.). There are many raids between the two universes, although there has not been a Rikti War-level invasion yet.
- Anti-Matter (Positron)
- Battle Maiden (Valkyrie)
- Black Swan (Swan)
- Bobcat (Mynx)
- Chimera (Manticore)
- Diabolique (Numina)
- Dominatrix (Ms. Liberty)
- Marauder (Back Alley Brawler)
- Mother Mayhem (Sister Psyche & Aurora Borealis, who remain merged in this universe)
- Neuron (Synapse)
- Nightstar (Luminary)
- Shadowhunter (Woodsman)
- Siege (Citadel)
- Tyrant (Statesman)
The Red Caps are evil gnomes who exist only to enjoy the causing of pain and suffering. They have imprisoned the Cabal, the Fir Bolg, and the Tuatha de Dannon in the spirit realm in the past, and now aim to pull the Croatoa zone in as well. It's not certain if they can be killed in normal terms, they seem willing to sacrifice themselvs in attacks on heroes. They seem to thrive on conflict and will do whatever they can to keep the Fir Bolg and the Tuatha locked in their eternal war. It's possible the Cabal will prove as allies to the heroes in defeating this menace.
Shadow Shard Reflections
The nature of the Reflections is unknown, they take the form of various groups like the Nemesis Army, Rikti, and the Council, and don't seem to know themselves what they are. They appear to have some of the memories and thoughts of the originals, but will fight off any intrusion to the Shadow Shard like members of the Soldiers of Rularuu.
Tuatha de Dannon
Based on Celtic legends, the Tuatha have been twisted into monsterous forms by the Red Caps, who have enslaved them. They mostly fight with brute strength, but their leaders have power over earth magic. They are locked in an eternal war with the Fir Bolg, and will attack heroes who get in their way.
Void Hunters are mercenaries who are hired to help villain groups fight off Kheldians. Although formed by the Council, they will fight for any group, even those that don't seem the type to hire mercs, and even those that fight the Council. Their specialized Quantum Energy rifles are nothing special to most heroes, but are extremely painful to Kheldians of any sort. Void bosses can even one-shot most Kheldians, meaning it's usually dependant on the rest of the team to neutralize them before the Kheldians enter the battle. They also have energy shields that protect them from Kheldians, which sets them apart from normal gang members who have purchased quantum rifles.
Arachnoids are a super-soldier program gone wrong. Apparently created in Lord Recluse's own image, these test tube-grown monsters have 4 extra limbs on their back and can spit poison. They are mostly found in The WEB underneath Warburg, where they were created, and set loose during the chaos when Warburg went independent from Arachnos. They have no organization and simply try to kill anyone they find.
Cage Consortium Guards
Basically rent-a-cop types found in Sharkhead, they mostly exist to fight off Scrapyarders and the Freakshow who seem to enjoy hanging out at the Hellforge. Cage Consortium is a bauxite-mining company that has bought the entirety of Sharkhead Isle and is known for treating its employees (other than the guards) as poorly as possible. Kirk Cage himself has become Governor of Sharkhead.
Cap au Diable Demons
CaD Demons are electrical gremlins who seem born from the PTS (Power Transfer System) in Cap au Diable, and then try to destroy it. Occasionally a larger gremlin known as Deathsurge will form in the north part of the island. There is also a connection between them and the Clockwork who are found in this zone.
There have been numerous hints that the Coralax will be one of the upcoming Epic Archetypes in CoH, these Hybrids are just a taste of things to come. The Hybrids are humans who have been altered by a kind of living coral, Barracuda is one of these although she seems to possess more independence than the rest. The Coralax are known to worship a Cthulu-like Cult of the Shaper, a giant monster underneath Sharkhead Isle, of which Calystix is the leading priest.
Gold Brickers have many similarites to the Sky Raiders, being a jet pack-wearing criminal organization that focuses on thefts of high-tech equipment. Their leader is King Midas, a man with super-hard skin which he has painted gold. They also seem to be based in a chocolate factory which provides their funding.
The Mooks are a rebellious fraction of the Rogue Isles mafia. When the elder Marcone died, Guido 'The Mooch' Veranti tried to take control of it to the opposition of Emil Marcone. So far the Marcone side seems to be winning the war, as the Mooks are smaller and lower-leveled.
Rogue Island Police
Mostly seen only in Mercy Island, the 'Rippers' don't really care much about enforcing the law - it's the City of Villains, after all! They even wear the Arachnos emblem on their sleeves. They mostly like to beat up gang members and newly arrived 'Destined scum'. In other parts of the Rogue Isles, policing seems to be done by Arachnos itself.
These hulks appear to be made of living piles of garbage, somehow brought to life by fragments of a mysterious red crystal. Found on Sharkhead, it's likely there's a connection between their crystals and the Cult of the Shaper followed by the Coralax. Their motives are unknown although destruction of Cage Consortium property is a likely part of it.
A low-level group, it's hinted that there's more to this group than what's been seen so far. These snake-men are apparently transformed into their state by their leader, Stheno. Stheno is one of the three Greek Gorgons, Medusa having been the most famous of the sisters. They've apparently been hiding underneath Mercy Island for centuries, kidnapping unwary colonists and other unfortunates.
There's speculation that Stheno may be an Incarnate, if so, this would put her on a level with Statesman and Lord Recluse, the only known Incarnates.
The Wailers are a breed of demon plaguing St. Martial in recent years, attacking the Giza casino and various other sites around the island. They use sonic attacks and, despite their humorous mini-gargoyle appearance, enjoy using various music-related slang. Like most demons they are notoriously difficult to kill for good.
The reason for their presence is the Giza's owner, singer Johnny Sonata. Sonata sold his soul to the Wailers for musical success, then changed his mind. The apparently decorative obelisks around the Giza and the rest of St. Martial actually serve to keep the Wailers out, but this has effectively imprisoned him in the casino. In the meanwhile, the Wailers cause havoc around St. Martial, trying to reach him.