|“||I must therefore rely on all of you to spread the word of Lord Recluse's vision. A vision of a glorious future, in which man is not encumbered by the desire for truth, peace, or justice. A future where you no longer must obey others, where you must no longer bow down to those who deem themselves your superiors, a world in which you can finally say "No more." No longer will you have to listen to those who tell you that you must earn what you wish, that you must work hard to achieve your goals. You will have the strength to take what you desire. Through my way, the way of villainy, you can have what you want now. You can leave the weak lying in your wake as you grasp with both hands the glorious future of havoc. The heroes are doomed! Join me now, or you will suffer the same fate that awaits all those who defy me. I, Lord Recluse, shall cover this world in darkness!||„|
|~ Lord Recluse|
Lord Recluse is the leader of Arachnos, a huge organization of supervillains, and is the most powerful supervillain of City of Heroes/City of Villains. He is a former friend of the game's signature hero, Statesman. Lord Recluse's intelligence, reasoning and charisma are not just superhuman but Incarnate (divine/inter-dimensional) and as such his specific mental skills are pre-calculated across the multi-verse to be the strongest concentration of each that ever has or will exist in his reality.
His introduction in City of Heroes heralded the opening of the City of Villains and eventually lead to the two games becoming extensions of each other. Leading to him becoming the main source of villainy both in-universe and out-of-universe.
Lord Recluse was once Stefan Richter, a wealthy technocrat and Austrian-American son of Rudy Richter. His father took in young Marcus Cole (who would become Recluse’s arch-nemesis, the Statesman), after Marcus’ mother died in childbirth and his father drank himself to death. Stefan and Marcus quickly became close friends and served together in World War I, but it was during this time that Marcus was exposed to mustard gas and while he was lucky enough to survive, it badly damaged his lungs and made him chronically ill. Hoping to find a cure, Stefan and Marcus set out to find the Fountain of Zeus and managed to steal an ancient Greek scroll from a museum in London. They headed to an ancient Greek island known as Praxidae, the home of the Well of the Furies and below that, the Fountain of Zeus. Marcus and Stefan located the island and both drank from the fountain, gaining god-like powers and curing Stefan, however before they left the island, Stefan and Marcus found an artifact, a box that glowed with a blinding light, which seemed to be the source of the Fountain’s power, that was apparently Pandora’s Box. When they opened it, the stored creativity of all humankind was released and its power began a Golden Age of superheroes.
The opening of Pandora’s Box was explosive, resulting in a cave-in and Stefan was washed away into the open ocean. As he swam for shore, he became intoxicated by his new-found powers, envisioning himself as a god among men that would pave the way for technological science. Billy, a friend, went searching for Stefan and when he found him, he tried to drag Stefan out of the water, but Stefan, consumed by his vision and determined to embrace his new destiny, grabbed Billy by the throat and snapped his neck with ease, before tossing his body into the sea. Stefan climbed into the boat Billy had used and returned to civilization, ready to begin his new future survival demanded cruelty. Stefan would reunite with Marcus and convinced him of all they could do with their new powers. Marcus had not had the same sort of awakening as Stefan, but did feel the need to put his new powers to use as well. When they arrived home, they found that Rudolf Richter had gotten extremely sick shortly after both men had left for the War. Stefan managed to convince Marcus to help him get the money to save his father and Stefan began a life of crime. With Stefan's perfect planning and Marcus's god-like strength the capers went off perfectly. However as time went on, Marcus became more and more uncomfortable with what Stefan's plans called for. Eventually Marcus refused to help Stefan when he saw his friend was willing to resort to out-right murder in order to get away with a plan. Marcus dawned a disguise and alias of The Statesman, and used his new persona to stop crimes in Paragon City to make-up for his time helping Stefan. Shortly after Statesman appeared, Rudy Richter died despite his extended treatments. Stefan half blamed Marcus for leaving, thus forcing him to make plans for smaller safer crimes with smaller pay-outs, but increasingly despised Statesman for preventing him from making a dishonest living. With his father dead and criminal activities no-longer safe, Stefan left the US for Europe, but swore he would return one-day to build a criminal empire, in-spite of The Statesman.
While in Italy, Stefan proceeded to join a shady organization called Arachnos, whose leader at the time was a mysterious figure called only the Weaver. Stefan was made one of the Weaver's right-hands, as Arachnos's operation planner, with his promotion Stefan focused on the meta-physical embrace of his Incarnate nature. As Stefan began to focus his new dark powers, he started suffering from physical changes. His eyes started to have an almost allergic reaction to bright lights and changed to glowing red, burning with evil. Stefan started developing a back hump, which eventually gained eight large arachnoid arms and he enhanced them with powerful claws made of a highly strong metal known as proto-steel. All of this helped Stefan as he tried to emulate Tartarus, an ancient evil demigod. With his transformation complete, "Stefan Richter" was no more; Recluse had truly been born.
In the early 1932, Recluse proposed an massive operation to the Weaver, a criminal empire that assimilated it's former local government. The Weaver was excited about the operation and appointed Recluse as the head of the American branch, which was to be based in Paragon City. During his time acclimating himself to Paragon, Recluse stayed undercover, hiding his extra arms at his sides beneath his clothing. While down-playing his presence Recluse observed the workings of Paragon's underworld. Stefan saw that Paragon's main criminal syndicate The Family was secretly run by a supervillain going by the name Lord Nemesis. Lord Nemesis was an oppressive sponsor and Stefan saw he could shift their loyalty. Recluse offered The Family semi-free reign of Paragon City if they helped him with his plans. The Family was won over by Recluse's generous offers and tired of working for Nemesis, they became Arachnos's improvised militia of crime for the operation. Recluse sent Arachnos spies, to take on jobs as guards, military members and police members. While the operatives were getting into place Recluse had his formal battle-armor completed dawning the fearsome image of an armored warlord, now proudly displaying his spider-like appendages. Recluse had The Family create a massive riot in down-town Paragon during which time The Family committed a series of mass robberies, with the understanding Recluse would keep the police from interfering.
Statesman of-course would arrive, at which point the forces of The Family, all lowered their guns and parted to reveal the newly realized supervillain "Recluse" in his first great crime on US soil. Marcus recognized Stefan's voice as a he spoke and was forced to fight his best-friend in abject horror. Though Recluse aimed to win, the battle was no vital to is plans. Recluse was using the battle as a distraction to keep Paragon's great hero busy while Weaver enacted his plan for him, having the under-cover Arachnos agents attack key parts of the city and hold it's key decision makers hostage. However the Weaver had improvised his own part of the plans and instead used Recluse's reveal as a launching point for the attack. All the Arachnos agents that Recluse had spent months smuggling into key-points in Paragon attacked Statesman during the battle with Recluse. Statesman fought off the Arachnos siege, and Recluse enraged that his plan was for naught, made his get-away, the siege ultimately being pointless with the Arachnos agents exposed. Statesman won thanks to the help of Stefan's sister Monica Richter AKA Maiden Justice, and the hero Dark Watcher. Seeing even Statesman could not save the say with all the city's worst banning together, they three formed The Freedom Phalanx and began encouraging superheroes to rise up to prevent such an event from happening again.
Becoming Lord Recluse
Recluse was enraged his careful planning had been for nothing and with the formation of The Freedom Phalanx, it seemed he would never get quite the same opportunity again. Recluse had the Weaver assassinated by Red Widow, usurping him as the leader of Arachnos. Recluse claimed that the Weaver's lack of vision combined with his power-lust had utterly blinded him to Arachnos's potential, none of his fellow members took issue with the logic and Recluse took on the title "Lord Recluse", with his new station as supreme leader of Arachnos. Lord Recluse renewed his plans to assimilate a government, but needed to look outside the U.S. with Statesman rallying meta-humans to stand-together there. Arachnos established a base on the Etoile Islands, which gained the nickname, Rogue Isles, an archipelago off the American east coast. Lord Recluse launched a successful military coup, declaring the Isles to be the domain of Arachnos and began working on forming his empire. Recluse continued to operate from the Rogue Isles, which he ruled with an iron fist as he prepared for world domination.
Powers and Abilities
Lord Recluse has superhuman strength, speed, and stamina and eight armored arachnoid arms on his back. Though Lord Recluse has super human strength from being an incarnate most of his strength is in-fact the result of his power armor. Lord Recluse's mechanical talons are grafted to his spine, each functions as a laser-cannon with sharpened ends to double as impalement tools strong enough to tear through steel. Lord Recluse's intellect was greatly increased by the Well of the Furies, so much so that he is considered the most intelligent being on the planet. In addition to a highly sophisticated and intelligent mind, Lord Recluse constructed his Seer-Net, a mental network of psychics loyal to him, to allow him to issue orders telepathically to any and all troops. In addition to providing Lord Recluse with an instant means of communication with his men, the Seer-Network doubles as a mental block against mind-reading, hypnosis, brainwashing and possession, as Arachnos' highest priority member, the Seer-Net shields Lord Recluse's already hard to pierce mind, making him immune to all forms of mental/spiritual influence. Lord Recluse is practically immortal thanks to the Well of Furies, like the Statesman, and while the two of them could live for many millennia, it’s not certain how long they will stay alive. In the tie-in novel Web of Arachnos, by Robert Weinberg, which details the period between Stefan Richter's disappearance and his reemergence as Recluse, Recluse states that he had tested his immortality by giving himself a variety of wounds that would have been fatal without medical attention but was never willing to test a guaranteed death like a bullet to the brain and thus even he is unsure as to whether he is truly immortal or just hard to kill. Lord Recluse is a Mastermind archetype and thus can summon and control henchmen, but he can control far more than other villains of this type. Since his powers come from the same source as the Statesman, Lord Recluse may also be an incarnate archetype. As leader of Arachnos, he controls a huge amount of minions and super-villains and uses them to launch many attacks against Paragon City.
As a M.M.O. City of Villains was subject to intelligent design and rather than trying to play down various ways the Rogue Isles functioned as coincidence the game developers shifted the in-universe credit to Lord Recluse, crediting the mysterious removal of trouble players and zones grouped by threat level as the work of Lord Recluse, who had complete control of the Isles - essentially making Lord Recluse the in-universe version of the dev-team. Lord Recluse appears to have knowledge of things only the player characters should know including secret plots against him, which he prepares for long before completion; all this is credited to his status as "smartest being on the face-of-the-planet" effectively justifying giving Lord Recluse meta-game insights. The terrifying truth of Lord Recluse's intellect is he can sum up and predict the actions of various groups, heroes and villains through simple observation, in essence granting him a crude semi-omniscience achieved through pure estimation. Just as The Well of the Furies has made Statesman as strong as he will ever need to be for any given situation he will ever encounter, Lord Recluse was made smart enough to calculate whatever he needs to for any given situation.
Lord Recluse is openly evil, intentionally rejecting justification for his actions. He sees evil as a form of liberation - that morals only hold one back as a behavioral inhibitor, as a result he likens conceptual evil to a form of clarity. Despite, or perhaps indeed because of his evil nature, Lord Recluse in-fact does live by a strict honor system, though one somewhat unique to him; Lord Recluse believes in removing the useless from society, that the weak should serve the strong but that all weaklings need to be given the chance to prove themselves strong by overthrowing their "betters" - this extends even to himself. Lord Recluse is proud he killed his former leader, The Weaver, to ascend as the leader of Arachnos, and Arachnos's growth since then as a reason why such actions were clearly to the benefit of all. By the same token Arachnos grew from a small assassin force, to a world-power thanks to his assassination of his former leader. Lord Recluse also believes his subjects should try to assassinate him, and invites such actions, as he sees such attempts as character building, both for said assassins to assert themselves and for himself to keep from getting weak. However Lord Recluse also punishes weakness, so while he encourages other villains to oppose him, he ensures they will only ever have one chance to do so. Unlike many other Social Darwinist supervillains, Lord Recluse does not excuse himself from the very survival of the fittest mentality, and considers that if he ever dies to another supervillain, that he was clearly too weak to rule and thus it is only right that he be killed. Lord Recluse has profound hatred of racial supremacy firstly because killing troops based ons skin-tone deprives him of resources but also that no one is born superior to anyone else and superiority comes solely from one's actions. The trade-off to Lord Recluse's belief that even he is subject to a kill-or-be-killed mindset, is that as a result he is constantly pushing himself, anticipating schemes, instilling fear in those who would oppose him, keeping track of all threats to him at any time and making himself so invaluable to his nation that killing him would throw the nation into chaos.
As he rejects traditional morals and seeks to keep himself invaluable to the Rogue Isle's stability, Lord Recluse actually is something of a responsible ruler. Due to his intellect having no upper-limit, he memorizes the names and faces of all citizens and soldiers who cross his path, to the point of being on a first name bases with even the lowest ranking Arachnos staff. He encourages citizens to acquire weapons and open fire on any who would bully them. He sees tax-paying citizens as sponsors to his empire of evil and as such owes them safety within said empire. The in-game reason why citizens are non-targetable by City of Villains players is that Lord Recluse does not allow civilian death and super-villains would know better than to break such a law. Lord' Recluse's logic of preserving civilian life, aside from the need for taxes, is if the weak submit to the strong, they know their place, and as such the strong should ensure their safety - similar to wolf-pack dynamics. Lord Recluse rarely displays love for anyone, the two notable exceptions are his sister, Monica Richter, even after she became the heroine Justice Maiden, and Red Widow, who loved him back enough to assassinate The Weaver for him. Lord Recluse's feelings toward Statesman are twisted, he hates him with such passion, it is often likened to love. Because Stefan and Marcus grew up together and Marcus rejected him due to moral objections, Lord Recluse's love for Marcus and his hatred of Statesman are now inseparable. As Lord Recluse sees evil as a form of enlightenment he views Statesman actively combating him to stop his evil as a fundamental betrayal from his oldest and deepest friend.
- Lord Recluse's name was the nickname of David "Zeb" Cook, who was the former creative director behind City of Villains at Cryptic Studios. Cook left Cryptic Studios in 2006 and the nickname was given to Serdar Copur.
- Both Non-Playable Characters and Players all refereed to Lord Recluse's full title, he was never dubbed "LR", or "Recluse" or given any such short-hand, yet most other villains and heroes were given such short-hands.
- The Dev team would remove racist/sexist/homophobic etc. players from City of Villains, for player cohesion purposes but in-game credit these bans to Lord Recluse having such villains killed - due to his profound hatred in-born entitlement over others. Both in-game and out-of-game player-villains were encouraged to turn such players in for the glory of the Rogue Isles.