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|“||What could you possibly want here, you fiend? You've hurt enough of the good people of these islands with your villainy! Hold on. Okay, no one's looking. Sorry for the outburst, but we must keep up appearances. I can't do my job amongst the downtrodden if people don't trust me, you see. The only reason I can stand playing the noble crusader among the poor is that it makes betraying their few miserable hopes all the more satisfying.||„|
|~ Westin Phipps|
Westin Phipps is a contact in the M.M.O. City of Heroes/City of Villains. Phipps was infamous among both high ranking villains in Grandville, capital of the Rogue Isles and among the villain side players themselves and is among one of the most hated characters.
Westin Phipps runs Haven House, a home for the poor in Grandville, seat of power for super-villain organization, Arachnos and their megalomaniac leader Lord Recluse. Grandville's main stronghold section, Spider City, is built over the broken homes of the original residence, who live in what is now a vast slum simply called "the Gutter". Arachnos has a vested interest in keeping it's citizens alive, both because it needs taxes and because the organization lives and dies entirely on the philosophy of Social Darwinism, meaning as much contempt that some members might have for innocent civilians, they keep them around specifically so some can die as examples of where weakness gets you while others can be pushed too far and become super-villains, thus fueling the organization. As part of such a system it is of the utmost importance to Arachnos that civilians have both a sanctuary and a place to break their spirits, to this end Arachnos employee Westin Phipps was given Haven House. Phipps is the organization's single most sadistic member, this includes Lord Recluse himself. If a person is robbed of their home, either literally robbed or forced to leave by one of the many anthropomorphic spider mutants the Arachnoids, they are welcomed to Haven House, where the poor go to live and their hopes go to die. Phipps plays the part of concerned philanthropic egalitarian, taking the poor and sick in to "give them a place to stay" but uses the opportunity to double his pity as a way to get into their heads and let them know how pathetic and worthless they are. Westin is invaluable to Arachnos as he not only keeps the common man too insecure to attempt a rebellion but also roots out anyone who might try to improve things as Westin can sift through the oppressed at the source.
Miss Francine the Freakshow Teacher
Westin will get word that the cybernetic punks known as the Freakshow are reforming and doing good deeds around the city. The notion of evil turning to good fills Phipps with utter disgust and he will hire the player character to investigate the issue and put a stop to it. The first mission to a Freakshow lair will reveal a group of Freakshow doing homework and in their lair in-between acts of random kindness, overhearing the chatter combined with notes from chapter boss will show that they are completing class assignments for a teacher, Miss Francine. Reporting back to Phipps after beating the Freakshow will prompt Westin to do some digging of his own over this "Miss Francine", where she came from and how much "damage" she has done to the Freakshow community.
Westin finds out in short order that Miss Francine had been in the Rogue Isles for a while as a school teacher for the under privileged. Phipps sends the villain to recover Miss Francine from one of the Freakshow's makeshift bases, find out how she got into the Isles and bring her to Arachnos custody. Raiding the base will turn up even more Freakshow, trying to get their lives together and doing home-work, among the base's papers will be a letter from Miss Francine to the android heroine, Luminary of the Freedom Phalanx . Miss Francine thanks Luminary for the opportunity to help the troubled youth of the Rogue Isles and was pleased to report both a reformation of character and increased good grades. At the end of the base the player villain will find Miss Francine surrounded by the boss Freakshow, praising their efforts to help her get her school supplies. When the Freakshow see a super-villain there to capture their beloved teacher and turn her into Arachnos they fiercely protect her, after defeating the bosses the villain must escort her to the exit and into Arachnos custody.
After the mission Westin sends the player on a follow-up mission to recapture Miss Francine. The Freedom Phalanx were not willing to sit by while an innocent woman was taken into Arachnos custody and broke her free before she could be harmed and were making preparations to move her back to Paragon City . The player will have 90 minutes to raid the Freedom Phalanx's Longbow base. The base will be protected by some of the Freedom Phalanx best, including Luminary. Once again the player will need to fight their way through a base, this time not only through Freakshow but Longbow, who are specifically trained to deal with super-villain threats and with Luminary, a full fledged hero to guard Miss Francine at the end.
If successful the player will regain Miss Francine and hand her over to a high-security Arachnos team outside the base with all the heroes and Freakshow defeated and critically injured. Phipps plays his act of being outraged at-first, but then once he is sure no one is listening drops the act and under hushed breaths congratulates the player. Phipps tells the villain not to worry about Miss Francine, gleefully stating that this time he has seen to it she will not be getting out until she breaks, and maybe even a few months extra just for good measure. After she is horribly disfigured, half alive and mentally broken he intends to hire her on in Haven House as an assistant, he intends to play up the angle of "giving the poor dear a place to go" but in truth wants to parade her around to show the poor where altruism and bravery get you.
Because the mission is timed it is possible to fail the mission, however 90 minutes is an extremely generous time limit for nearly any mission and if the player puts any decent effort into it, even with Luminary as a boss, it is nearly impossible to not have enough time. Phipps is depressed that Miss Francine gets away and says how he was hoping to break her down and then use her as an example of where being good gets you but states it can't be helped and at the very least she won't be around to reform anymore super-villains, he then sends the player on his/her/it's way. In light of the generous time limit the player will get a thank you letter from Miss Francine for letting her escape simply stating, "It's never too late."
Next Westin Phipps will hire the player to deal with some Arachnos Rebels. As Phipps explains some rebels from the contested zone of Warburg have left Marshal Blitz's service to cause trouble on the main land and word of their rebellion is spreading among the citizenry, bringing them hope for change; While Phipps knows he could just report the situation to Arachnos, all they will do is send an assault-squad to rectify the situation, Westin on the other-hand wants to destroy their entire cause and for that will send the player to the base, find any leads and crack the skulls of every single hope filled head.
Visit to the base will reveal one "Fortunata Amelee" was the cause of the decent in the ranks, but theft of her gear and ID numbers for Phipps allows him to send Fortunata Millia, in her place, a true Seer still loyal to Arachnos. Millia is sent to get all the information she can on the situations and the player is sent to "kidnap Fortunata Amelee" to provide cover for Millia's extraction. After recovering Millia she gives the player and Westin Phipps her information on the rebels, stating they were just a result of Marshal Blitz's pathetic attempts to oppose Arachnos and were reaching out to the Longbow and Freedom Phalanx once they came to the mainland in order to get support for a more powerful uprising. The rebels had been exchanging information on Arachnos technician Weaver-1 for Paragon City's support.
Phipps reads the full report and cautions the player that Freedom Phalanx member Swan had been set to meet them. Phipps says the rebels were all but defeated and had changed their price from asking for help fighting Arachnos to bartering for safe passage out of the Rogue Isles, a feint hope Phipps intends to be crushed and sends the player to do away with the rebels, stop the refugees and defeat Swan when she arrives. The player will need to fight the rebels, destroy their commander, recover the data they were planning to exchange and finally defeat Swan. The data recovered is on Weaver-1, designer of the Arachnos' psychic cyborg mutants, the Tarantulas. As it was the second time Weaver-1's name had come up Phipps becomes mildly concerned about how deeply the rebels were coordinated, even with Swan's potential help. However with the rebels destroyed and Swan sent back home in critical condition he considers the ordeal a rousing success and the player and himself to have do a much more eloquent job than simply having an Arachnos patrol squad come in a shoot a few rebels.
Bane of the Heart
Westin's glee over the rebels being put down is quickly desipated and when next approched he has a new issue to deal with. He notes that one of the folks in Haven House was in fact a spy for the heroic mercenary force known as the Wyverns. The the man had already been caught by Arachnos but the larger issue that is a sign of still affects Westin. If the spy found out about him and Haven House it means that he will be of no futher use to Arachnos and may get reassignment. Westin does not want to give up his post and knows that Aracnos will only do so much to him so he wants the player villain to break the man out and hand him off to Westin's personal interogation experts.
Once inside the spy is recovered Westin has his experts, known for their effective torture techniques, pry all information from him. The report is in before the villain even has time to return to Westin. As it turns out the spy had no information on Phipps, however it turns out there is a larger issue to be concerned about. The Wyvern were reporting to the Longbow and they have an operation going down involving the abduction of Arachnos Bane Spider agents.
With the interference into Arachnos official channels by kidnapping the spy, Westin states that both he and the player must resolve the issue themselves or else letting the main Arachnos troops know will leave them very cross with the both of them. The agent the Longbow are after would tell the other Arachnos agents if kidnapped so Westin proposes that they kidnap the Longbow raid leader instead. Westin knows of a raid underway between Arachnos and Longbow and that if they attack both side equally during the chaos there will be little to no consequences.
Upon arriving at the raid and dealing with both commanders, the player will find notes in the Longbow base. There is a picture in the file a man and a young woman. The woman's face had been blurred out and only listed as "Agent G" but the man's had not and the files identify him as "Figures". Westin is able to make more sense of the file. He states it is Hugo Figures.
Westin recognized the name and says that would no doubt make "Agent G" his girlfriend Gally Ido. As it turned out both were gifted psychic who had found each other and fallen in love. They made their home in Haven House during their teen years. Once Westin found out they were psychic he called them in to Arachnos to either be part of their Seer program or experimented on if they refused. Gally had gotten away, Hugo had not. Westins states it is a tragic love story he was happy to be a part of. No doubt she had been recruited into the Longbow with both her talent and grudge against Arachnos. If Gally was looking for Hugo that would explain the opperations abducting Bane Spiders.
Westin has overheard that the Longbow were seizing a Crey base in the isles. It sounded like the sort of unorthodox operations Agent G was spearheading. That base was headed by a well known researcher called Dr. Nova whom Arachnos was considering hiring for certain psychic evaluation projects so he was no doubt the target. Westin sends the player to find out anything possible from the Longbow but also from Dr. Nova.
Dr. Nova is nowhere to be found at the base but his notes are and inbetween fighting off the Longbow the player can find research notes of Nova at various terminals.
One note goes over how the Arachnos Seer Network was crafted. A second note states that the nework can actually be undone. That the right emotional trigger can free one agent from any psychic barrier but even more impressively that that command can be spread through the entire hive-mind once broken free. Potentially giving the entire network a conscience and need to liberate itself and others. A third note builds off previous discoveries, editing one troop with a trigger which would spread to all can spread to everyone; this means if one mind were to edit itself to ignore things like conscience or mercy the entire network would enforce this and spread to the troops, denying them more of their basic humanity on a subconscious level and making them the best solders the can be. The device Nova built to set off the triggers was missing along with him, already taken by the Longbow.
Upon seeing the research notes Westin realizes that Gally surely wants to bring her boyfriend back to his senses. The side effects are mainly what worry him. If one Bane is freed from their psychic control to awaken to the power of love, it would start a chain reaction which would spread that notion to everyone in the network. This would underline a large portion of Arachnos but to Westin's even greater chagrin, it would give the forces of evil a very big push toward the becoming the forces of good. Neither is something Westin can bare to let happen. Another Arachos raid is underway, a group of Seers is under-attack from a group of Banes so Westin will send the player on their way to resolve the situations while making sure to pick up any information vital to a counter-attack. One of the Fortunata Seers states that she and her fellow Seers had detected a group of Banes cutting themselves off from the network and would have gone to peer into their minds to find the problem, however they were attacked shortly before they could investigate.
Reporting back to Westin puts all the pieces together. Gally had already found Hugo and used the device on him. Meaning that his entire unit had turned with him. The Seers quarantining his mind prior to the investigation was all that had isolated it to just his unit. Westin has a solution though, with Hugo as the sole source of the uprising killing him would undo the damage. Westin tells the player he will put together coverstory and then send out his residence of Haven House to look for any reformed Banes to protect them.
Returning to Westin will show that he has already found Hugo's unit thanks to some unwitting residents of Haven House. The player is sent immeditly to kills the newly freed lover and prevent his notions of love and regret from spreading to the troops. Killing Hugo yeilds a letter he had written to Gally:
I'm sorry I fled. But it was all so much at once. The first time I've felt my mind soar freely in years, and your face, fully grown and so beautiful, and still in the background the war-like din from all the minds of the other Bane Spiders. I want to come back to you. I missed you so much, Gally, and I didn't even know it. Every day was an empty agony, and I didn't know why. I know that Mr. Manticore can help me, and I thank him for giving me back the me that loved you and still loves you so much. But I can't turn my back on them, Gally. I can't turn my back on all of my brother-selves.
All the others are just like I was. They're still trapped, still have their minds caged and turned in on themselves, still in an agony they don't even understand. And I can help them. I've got to help them.
I love you, Gally Ido. I love you more than life itself. And I will come back to you, come back with you to Paragon City just like we always dreamed. But first, I have to do this. I have to try and save the others, just like you saved me.
I love you, Gally. And I'll be with you again soon."
Westin states that reading the emotional heartfelt letter is giving him a stomach ache. Aside from the sappy letter, Westin is happy that he and the villain will not be held responsible for any backlash and may even get a better standing with Arachnos for resolving the problem. Westin is not done yet though. Gally is still at large. Though she is of no real consequence at this point with Hugo gone, he intends to have her removed as a factor once and for all for trying to sneak love and kindness to the Rogue Isles and spite her for giving him so much trouble.
The villain is sent to Agent Gally's base to deal with her. Westin cautions that Gally was a powerful psychic when he last met her so under the Longbow's training she is certainly a large threat now. Westin wants Gally taken in so he can make her pay in the most painful of ways so he notes that this is not a kill mission.
Once Agent Gally Ido is down the player will find the rough draft for a report to the Freedom Phalanx. Agent G apologizes for endangering Longbow operations for her own personal issues and thanks Manticore for indulging her directive to save her boyfriend. The note is paired with some reports on Longbow operations.
Westin is glad to have both Gally ready to be sent to his interrogation experts and validation that his cautions were not mere paranoia since Manticore, a signature hero of Paragon was in the mix. Westin sends the player to attend to Manticore next who can not be allowed to operate in the Isles and who he wishes to pay for trying to oversee a reformation of Arachnos. The battle will be the earliest one available to a "Hero" class enemy for villain characters, making it one of the toughest fights for the player up to that point.
Once Manticore is defeated Westin is at first ecstatic, until he is handed a report which instantly undoes his good mood. Apparently one of the Arachnos Agents that had come to take Manticore and Agent Gally to be tortured by Westin's people was in fact the Paragon Police Department special agent, Blue Steel, an infamous wild card with a knack for foiling evil schemes. Westin states that they did their best and that alas sometime despite the best efforts of those involved the forces of evil don't always win.
Over the line
Part of City of Heroes, later updates would be the ability to shift alignments by engaging in alignment missions. Alignment Missions were missions that blur the line between Heroes, Vigilantes, Villains and Rogues - a villain may do a few non-evil deeds in the sake of pragmatism to the point where they are eventually seen as a Rogue, a Hero may use a few heavy-handed methods to fight crime to the point of being seen as a Vigilante. Continuing down the each path will eventually lead the Rogue to be redeemed as a full Hero, or a Vigilante to descend into outright Villainy, however along the way each may also return to their previous station at least until the Morality Mission, which is the final boarder cross from one moral station to the other. Westin Phipps is used for both a Hero to Vigilante alignment mission and the Villain to Rogue Morality - for villains it is the final in their chain to complete the process to Rogue.
You're a Cruel One, Mr. Phipps
Phipps can appear before Heroes in a mission called You're a Cruel One, Mr. Phipps, one of several in a chain that blur the moral-line between being a hero and a radical. An Arachnos transmission shows Phipps being harassed by Arachnos into telling them where the heroes who walk among them in the Rogue Isles are. Phipps "bravely refuses to tell the dastardly Arachnos" and the soldiers announce for everyone to keep a look out for heroes who roam the isles. The Hero knows the truth however, Phipps is working with Arachnos, the transmission is a ploy to alert super-villains of the few good people in the Rogue Isles and turn them against them, at the start of the mission the hero must choose if they are going to complete their transition into Vigilante by going after Phipps for setting the whole thing up in addition to never paying for his real crimes, or ignore him and focus on saving the real heroes of the Rogue Isles.
If the Vigilante option is chosen, the mission will be to enter the Arachnos base that the transmission came from and "beat the snot out" of Westin Phipps. When encountered at the end, Phipps repeatedly protests his innocence and uses the still running transmission to discredit the hero. Phipps covertly smirks at the hero as he is taking the beating under the fane of being a poor innocent standing up against Arachnos, secure in the knowledge he is covertly alerting villains while also making the hero look bad for attacking him. The Vigilante judgement has the hero ignore this and finally make Phipps pay for all the things he has done. Though Phipps finally pays for his crimes somewhat, the hero is only descends further into the realm of Vigilante.
Easy Job, Easy Money!
For Villains, Phipps is involved, not merely in one mission in a chain but the Morality Mission - a final line crosser mission. The Villain, going on Rogue, sees an advertisement by Arachnos willing to hire villains for a job. As the villain has built up various, "good", although justifiably pragmatic, deeds up until this point even accepting the mission means being willing to cross the line out of complete villainy.
The contact, Arbiter Becklo, is a go-to person for Arbiter Daos, the senior most Arbiter in Arachnos, and so the operation indeed seems credible. The mission is a level 50 mission, (the highest in the game) and so all the members of Arachnos cheerfully greet the villain on their way in, glad they had a professional. Arriving to accept the job reveals that Arachnos wants a villain to drive a Zeus Class Titan battle mech into the slums under Grandville while Arachnos shoot to stop them, with Becklo assuring them, the shots will be blanks. The intended affect is for the houses in the area to all be destroyed from the fight. When asked why, Becklo states that many of the poor have been banding together to create homes for low-income families. The problem is that this means none are going to Haven House to be exploited and pumped for information by their informant, Westin Phipps. There were other methods but as Phipps had proven a useful agent of Arachnos they owed him a favor and Phipps hated the very concept of people being taken care of by actual altruists and so he convinced Arachnos to burn down the slums starting with a local orphanage. Becklo states none of them like the idea but Phipps was a valued agent that they were required to occasionally do favors for, however that should not matter as all the villain has to worry about is putting on a good show and getting paid for the "unintended" property damage.
As the mission is a Morality mission, there is no choice in the mission itself as accepting it or not is the back-out point. The villain refuses, stating there is a line and while they are willing to do a lot, they do not deal in slaughter. Becklo states it is a pity but that the Villain's refusal means they must be executed and the entire Arachnos detachment turns hostile. There will be no retaliation for attacking Arbiter Becklo as there usually would be for harming Arachnos Arbiters, as the entire operation was supposed to be covert. Saving the slums prompts the local orphans to cheer for the villain as they leave - though the saccharine sight of this only embarrasses the Villain. The Villain will become a Rogue - still mainly thought of as a villain but allowed to roam Paragon City as a wild-card, which the mission states begins to sound like a good idea so as not to be seen in public as 'the villain who saved an orphanage from being burned down'.
- Westin Phipps was made by the devs as an answer to some complaints that villain players had that they didn't feel like they were given opportunities to be evil enough since many of their missions had them fighting fellow super-villains, even if it was purely as a dominance issue.
- According to City of Hero Forums most players intentionally fail the Miss Francine story arc, this includes hard-core villain players, who simply view the ordeal as over the top evil even for super-villain role-play purposes.