The Masters of Maleficence is a relatively new name to this menagerie of malignant miscreants; a group that instead was once known, as far back as 2,500 years ago, as the odious and sinister 'Dark Overlords'.
The first leader of the Dark Overlords was a Zoroastrian-based Persian god named Ahriman ("Destructive Spirit"). With legions of demons, he created the Overlords to promote greed, despair and subjugation. In a pitched battle against a benevolent mage of the Holy school of magic, Ahriman and his demons were cast out into an otherworldly dimension only known as the “Dimension of Exile”. Many of Ahriman's followers tried to bring their god back, but to no avail. Regardless, the followers of Ahriman 'kept the faith' and drew in many new followers hoping that one day they'd learn how to release Ahriman. After a 'magical lock' was supposedly placed on Earth's access to other dimensions, both coming and going, sometime around 79 A.D., Ahriman's supporters basically died out, leaving a handful of small cult-like sects to at least carry on the legend of Ahriman. Once Christianity took hold around the world though, anything that was found about Ahriman or his followers was destroyed, burnt or kept locked away in some ancient tomb of books, never to be seen or read by any but the holder of the books. The few that kept the cult alive renamed themselves several times, but the one that finally stuck was "Dark Overlords".
Nearly three hundred Dark Overlord cult leaders have since ruled their extremely small sect, all waiting patiently for the day when they would discover a means to release Ahriman the Dark Overlord and his followers from their locked away dimensional prison. The first opportunity to do this came during World War 2 (WWII) - but not by the Dark Overlords.
Legend has it that during WWII, the Dark Overlords cult, based then out of the European nation of Latvia at that time, began collecting a large amount of ancient mystical artifacts and relics, all intended to be used for a massive magical incantation that was designed to release Ahriman. Much to the cult's chagrin, Nazi troops and archaeologists raided their 'temple' in Latvia and took nearly all of their gathered mystical artifacts, killing and imprisoning most of the cult. In a strange twist, one of the Nazi archaeologists attempted to use several of the artifacts and several of the cult's spells in an attempt to draw-out and attempt to control Ahriman from his otherworldly dimension. What happened instead was a dimensional portal formed, and out came a massive demon known only as "Lord Stygian". According to Lord Stygian, Ahriman had been overthrown and Lord Stygian was now the ruler of the demon dimension. In a dramatic turn of events, the super-powered WWII team known as the "Allied fighters" intervened and shut down the portal before Lord Stygian and his masses could get through. The Allied Fighters had an army unit of 'paranormal specialists' take the Dark Overlord cult's magical artifacts and relics to the United States, where they were placed in a secretive vault for the last next few decades...that is, until the Soltan Invasion of 2000.
After, WWII, the few remaining Dark Overlord cultists that barely survived, searched for decades for their ‘stolen’ artifacts and relics, once again hoping to use them to unleash Ahriman or even the new "Lord Stygian" that they'd heard about through the Allied Fighters' chronicles. In January 2000, the alien Soltan Star Empire invaded Earth to collect slave laborers for their slave pens off-world as well as drain all the magical energy from Earth. During that invasion, the highly classified underground storage vault in Washington D.C simply known as “The Hole”, where the majority of the Dark Overlords’ artifacts were stored, was breached by the Soltans. The Soltans took several non-related artifacts and devices, leaving the vault wide open for anyone to raid. The Dark Overlord cultists took advantage of the chaos of the planet-wide invasion and of 'The Hole' breach and ‘reacquired’ seven of their twelve 'stolen' artifacts. Thanks to Nazi thoroughness of records and procedures, a procedural plan was made by the Nazis on how to partially breach the dimensional walls even with only seven of the artifacts. The procedures identified that only verbal/visual communications could occur through the dimensional wall, and that it would take all twelve artifacts to actually breach the dimensional walls to allow any form of entrance or exit from either of the dimensions. For the first time in nearly two millennia, the Dark Overlords were now one step closer to taking over the world.
After the Soltans Invasion of Earth failed several months after its start, the several remaining old Dark Overllord cultists made contact with the Dimension of Exile using the seven artifacts. The Dark Overlord cultists discovered the same story the Nazis learned, that “Lord Stygian” was indeed the ruler of the dimension after he killed his ailing great, great, great grandfather, Ahriman. Unable to travel to Earth’s dimension without the remaining five artifacts, Lord Stygian asserted that the remaining old and frail Dark Overlord cultists on Earth must become more powerful than the ‘mewling meatbags’ that currently made up their diminished ranks. Lord Stygian commanded these 'pathetic' cultists of his to go forth and bring before him like-minded evil creatures and beings of power, masters of the arcane, alchemists, sorcerers and arcanists so that Lord Stygian himself could empower them as his new Avante Guard of Dark Overlords. Although these new orders were tough for the cultists to hear, they nonetheless followed Lord Stygian's orders and scoured the world for those desired. The first of these was Jack Hallow AKA “Mad Halloween Jack”.
As each new dark recruit was found, they were brought before Lord Stygian who would question them and test them. If they passed his tests, Lord Stygian would order one of the old cultist's to be murdered, allowing the 'new and far superior' Dark Overlord to replace him or her. Interestingly enough, these new super-powered 'Dark Overlords' didn't care for Lord Stygian and being a simple peon in Stygian's demon order. Instead, the band of new 'Dark Overlords' came up with a plan to not only steal Lord Stygian's powers, but to also ensure that Stygian wouldn't ever be able to get back to Earth through his dimensional void - EVER.
The first thing that had to happen was to move the cult from Latvia to America. Mad Halloween Jack had a mansion outside of Philadelphia that he lived out of, however, knowing the 'damage' that could come to his place, he instead decided to move the cult to an old cemetery on the outskirts of the city; a cemetery that was once home to hundreds of Satan worshipers that dug out and lived in a massive set of catacombs under the cemetery. The underground lair was named 'The Crypt", and had been 'cleansed of their ignorant selves' (at least, according to Mad Halloween Jack), by that cult performing a suicide pact, killing themselves in the tunnels.
As such, the Dark Overlords spent the next three years moving their arcane items and treasures from Latvia to Philadelphia. Once done, a powerful Ley Line was tapped to power all the magical energy that flowed through their new home. During this same time, Mad Halloween Jack and his fellow "Dark Overlords' plotted a scheme to take out Lord Stygian and his demon followers for good. They used an arcane weapon that was stolen from the planet's most powerful magical society, The Conglomerate. This weapon was designed to rapidly pull all magical energy through the communicative breach they were able to create (using 7 of the 12 artifacts) and distribute it to each of these new 'Dark Overlords' to empower themselves magically by a factor of 2000%, making them the most powerful magical beings on Earth.
On the day that the 'Crossover Ceremony' was scheduled to occur, wherein Lord Stygian and his massive army of demons would crossover to Earth and take it over, the Dark Overlords started the incantations using 'other' arcane relics that they'd told Lord Stygian would 'do the exact same thing as the missing five artifacts'. Although Lord Stygian wasn't assured of the artifacts capabilities, he still demanded the incantation. To Lord Stygian's surprise, the incantation, led by Mad Halloween Jack, rapidly ripped the magical energy of Lord Stygian's 'Dimension of Exile' causing nearly 3/4 of the demon army to fall into dust, the other 1/4 severely incapacitated, and Lord Stygian feeble.
In the last few seconds before all the Dimension of Exile's magic was to be fully ripped from everything that was of that dimension, an old, surviving Dark Overlord cultist (who had not been killed or sacrificed) stole the weapon from Mad Halloween Jack's bony hands. The ensuing magical energy backlash knocked all of the newer Dark Overlords to the ground. The old cultist scrambled onward with the weapon spouting how he was going to use it to 'properly replenish' Lord Stygian's powers so that a TRUE heir of Ahriman was allowed to crossover and rule once again. As a result of the backlash of energy, all of the artifacts used to access the Dimension of Exile shattered, causing the dimensional window to collapse, wherein the Dimension of Exile was accessible no more. Although Lord Stygian looked as if he was dead at the time of the portal's closing, it was never verified if he had indeed died.
Nonetheless, the old Dark Overlord cultist swept in and out of the old cryptic hallways until he found the long room with the Ley Line Tapping Machine. He went inside the room to hide, but instead was found by one of the new cultists, Dark Ogen. Dark Ogen stabbed the cultist through the heart, and before Dark Ogen could obtain the weapon, the cultist threw it into the Ley Line Tapping Machine. A massive surge of arcane energy was unleashed into the room, but with the Ley Line being tapped, most of the energy re-transmitted itself 'into' Earth and in the magical energy circuit (otherwise known as the "Ley Matrix") that encompassed Earth, re-energizing Earth's magical capacity to new, untold levels, making Earth the strongest source of magic in the universe (which it was darn close to already being after the arcane energy was released back into Earth at the end of the Soltan Invasion...but that's a story you['ll have to read about in MDU's History).
Dark Ogen and the cultist were immediately vaporized in the resultant energy discharge. A majority of "The Crypt" became unstable, eventually taking years to rebuild and reopen rooms, tomes and passageways once again. The 'newer' Dark Overlords, however, were furious over losing the opportunity to access such power, yet, nonetheless, they still all agreed that they themselves deserved to rule Earth rather than Lord Stygian, whom they now considered dead. These newer Dark Overlords, despising the group's name of "Dark Overlords" (according to Mad Halloween Jack: "Who would take us seriously with a name like 'The Dark Overlords, anyway? I mean, really!"), instead chose a new name that better fit 'the 21st century's type of evil' they wished to produce; as such they renamed themselves "The Masters of Maleficence".
Today, the Masters of Maleficence continue to thwart good and just people and civilizations, all the while attempting to gain the upper hand in any situation that garners a great 'evil' amidst the good. Their goal is to eventually take over Earth as its rulers, however, they understand that today's world of heroes is a true barrier to their desires, and as such, have gone on a spree to kill or 'turn' heroes to evil. They operate out of "The Crypt" still and use arcane teleportation portals to travel around the planet. They have killed dozens of superheroes and have several plots in action to achieve their goals.
Don't underestimate the Masters of Maleficence; they are truly evil and deadly. They have no reason to keep you alive...unless its to fulfill a plot towards an even greater evil...
On a side note, there are recent sightings of a ghost that looks like Dark Ogen hanging around the cemetery late at night.
Secret location, believed to be in the United States, but only founding members know for sure.
CoHverse: Dark Overlords was created by Mad Halloween Jack on 9 September 2007 on Infinity server.
MDUverse: Dark Overlords date back 2500+ years, however, they fell out of power. Redeemed "Maleficium', they operated under the Soltan invasion of 2000 and were decimated; Today, the latest band of Dark Overlords, now called the "Masters of Maleficence", started on 9 Sep 2007 under the control of Mad Halloween Jack.