Markova Enterprises, Intl.
If knowledge is power, then Markova Enterprises may well be the most powerful organization on earth. This media conglomerate owns major newspapers in every major city in Europe and North America, runs fifteen different cable television networks, syndicates radio and network television programs in twenty different languages, and produces blockbuster movies from studios in Hollywood, Hong Kong, New Delhi, and Paris. And all that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The company is also deeply involved in several major websites and online services, and employs dozens of software design houses to work on proprietary programs.
Owned and managed by the international “Queen of the Media,” Anastasia Markova, Markova Enterprises plays a bigger part in many people’s lives than their own families do. Their stated goal is to give their audience “just what you want.” Detractors point out that this mission statement says nothing about production quality, intellectual or moral content, or even factual accuracy. But this does not seem to have hurt the company’s ratings (or stock value).
Mundanes see Anastasia Markova as a beautiful, dusky skinned, twenty-something jet setter, but anyone with knowledge of Shadowkind knows that she is in fact a drow who is at least 125 years old. Of course, that makes many suspicious of Anastasia’s motives and her company’s actions, but to this day M.E. Intl. has never been involved in anything even marginally illegal. It does, however, specialize in programming of exceptionally questionable taste.
The thing that really makes Markova Enterprises different from other media conglomerates, though, is the fact the its subsidiaries pay attention to Shadow culture. They do not report on such things to mundane audiences, but they do keep careful eyes on people, creatures, and events in Shadow communities. And reporters from M.E.-owned concerns can usually be found at the scene of any major Shadow-related incident. Heroes would be surprised to know exactly how much personal information on them is stored in the M.E. news morgue. It seems unlikely that any hero would be working directly for Anastasia Markova (who is attended mainly by other drow), but anyone with an occupation related to the media might well find themselves working for Markova Enterprises. In most respects, though, the organization is no different than any other media interest. It is only if a hero’s activities draw the eye of the Queen that things might become uncomfortable.The M.E. Morgue
Every news organization maintains a morgue—the place where it keeps file of reference photos, videos, archives of old stories, and significant reports and dossiers that never made it into print. The Markova Enterprises morgue puts all others to shame. It contains an level of detailed information that makes most governmental intelligence agencies jealous.
The key to accessing this trove of facts and images is a Markova Enterprises Press Pass. While much of the information is stored on computer, the system is isolated from all external networks. One must physically go to the morgue to access it, and no one gets into the building or past the five guard stations without showing proper identification.
However, for those who do manage to make it into the morgue, the information sky is the limit. Using the M.E. morgue provides a +10 equipment bonus on all Research and Knowledge checks (for any Knowledge category). Those using this resource must take careful notes, though, because there are no printers in the morgue, and no photographs or video tapes are allowed out without a senior editor’s approval.
While access to such a vast quantity of material is a blessing, it also has its drawbacks. The sheer volume of raw data sometimes makes it very time consuming to find a particular piece of information. Apart from any Research or Knowledge checks required to find information, anyone using the M.E. morgue must make an additional Research check to determine how long the search took.
|9 or less||1d6 + 6 hours with no information found|
|10 –14||1d6 + 6 hours|
|15 –19||1d6 hours|
|20 –24||3d10 + 30 minutes|
|25 –29||2d10 + 20 minutes|
|30 +||1d10 + 10 minutes|
The halls of government and ivory towers of finance are not the only places that hold power. In the modern era, information, entertainment, and the media have begun to trump the others in terms of raw might. The self-titled “Queen of the Media” is Anastasia Markova, a domineering, awe-inspiring woman of incredible beauty, charisma, and ruthlessness.
In truth, Anastasia is a drow that passed through Shadow early in the 20th century. She quickly surmised that information was to become the “currency” of the coming era. She used her charm, cunning, and utter lack of scruples to climb the social ladder and gain seats on the boards of several newspapers and periodicals (the only mass media of their time). As years passed, she gained control then ownership of the companies, and used their financial backing to begin other businesses. She has invested vast amounts of money in every up-and-coming communication medium since the radio until now Anastasia sits at the head of a media empire that spans print, television, radio, recordings, and the Internet. She uses her influence to manipulate and guide the masses, reaping vast fortunes that she passes along to her clan of drow kin.
In her public persona, Anastasia is regal, cultured, and very chic. Her suave, businesslike manner is tempered with a disarming elegance that can tie the tongues of even the most glib conversationalist. She is the undisputed matriarch of a small band of drow that act as her servants and minions. Among her many enemies, it is whispered that she has made pacts with dark powers and has lost her soul in a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal. In truth, she is a dark power, and the webs are all of her own spinning. Creatures of Shadow know her secret, but not all of them are happy to see a drow achieve such success Anastasia appears as a stunning woman in her late 20s. She has the dusky skin and brilliant eyes of a drow. Her snow-white hair falls to her ankles, usually worn up in an elaborate and expensive hairstyle. She dresses in the cutting- edge of fashion and generally wears several magic items discretely disguised as jewelry. As a drow, she cannot abide sunlight and is never seen out during the day. However, the hip crowd, who rarely see daylight themselves, never questions her nocturnal lifestyle.
Anastasia Markova: Female Drow, Fast Hero 4/Dedicated Hero 5/Charismatic Hero 9; CR 20; Medium humanoid (Drow, Shadowkind); HD 4d8–4 plus 5d6–5 plus 9d6–9; hp 69; Mas 8; Init +7; Spd 30 ft.; Defense 24, touch 24, flatfooted 21 (+3 Dex, +11 class); BAB +10; Grap +9; Atk +9 melee (1d3–1 nonlethal, unarmed strike); Full Atk +9 melee (1d3–1 nonlethal, unarmed strike), or +15/+10 ranged (2d6+2, +2 SITES M9), or +16/+11 ranged (2d6+2, +2 MP5); FS 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.; SQ Darkvision 120 ft., light blindness, spell immunities, SR 29; AL any; SV Fort +7, Ref +10, Will +15; AP 9; Rep +10; Str 9, Dex 17, Con 8, Int 16, Wis 18, Cha 20.
Skills: Bluff +20, Computer Use +8, Craft (visual arts) +13, Craft (writing) +13, Diplomacy +22, Disguise +12, Drive +7, Gamble +13, Gather Information +20, Intimidate +15, Knowledge (business) +18, Knowledge (current events) +14, Knowledge (popular culture) +18, Knowledge (streetwise) +11, Profession +21, Read/Write Elven, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write Infernal, Read/Write Spanish, Read/Write Undertongue, Sense Motive +16, Speak Drow Sign Language, Speak Elven, Speak French, Speak English, Speak Spanish, Read/Write Undertongue, Spot +6.
Feats: Advanced Firearms, Archaic Weapon Proficiency, Creative, Deceptive, Defensive Martial Arts, Educated (Knowledge [popular culture] and Knowledge [business]), Dodge, Elusive Target, Heroic Surge, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Renown, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Trustworthy, Unbalance Opponent.
Talents (Fast Hero): Evasion, opportunist.
Talents (Dedicated Hero): Skill emphasis (Bluff), Aware, Faith.
Talents (Charismatic Hero): Charm, favor, captivate, fast talk, taunt.
Possessions: +2 SITES M9 (9mm autoloader), 100 rounds of frangible 9mm ammunition, +2 HK MP5 (with laser sight), concealed carry holster, fabric of style, 3 potions of charisma, cell phone, business outfit, briefcase.