The Ward Holdings, as it was known, had been one of the many caterers of a secret society of archivists that had existed for thousands of years. A secret organization dedicated to the gathering and preservation of knowledge.
This ancient soceity is synonymous with the word 'KNOWLEDGE' or 'GNOSIS'. It is inscribed everywhere within the halls of their organization in various languages but it also known by it's true name of PHAROS. This is the true form behind the mask, always remaining hidden behind the mundane face of business. Ward Holdings eventually to be known as the Ward Institute was just one of many facades that had been used to cloak this age old guild.
Founded in 1783, the shipping company of Ward Holdings was one of many of it’s time. It had already endured a generation, and it’s owner Gareth Ward was preparing to hand the the family business over to his eldest son, Phillip, but he had no such desires.
Phillip Ward was a scientist well known in the community for his works in the anthropological studies of such remote places as Vigur and Chinijo Archipelago. By the tender age of fifteen he had already visited the remnants of Babylon and knew then that he wanted to pursue a career as scientist in the fields of archaeology and anthropology. His father, however, like most of the men of his time had different plans for his eldest son. Phillip was to carry on the family legacy and inherited the shipping company. It was his responsibility and duty to his family and so pushing passion and dreams aside he took over the business.
Time went by but the flame of science did not burn out, it raged within the man, ever searching for a way to escape and flourish. Perhaps it was this passion that drew him Pharos, or perhaps it was the other way around. None are sure, but in his thirtieth year, Phillip was approached by a man who offered him a deal he could not refuse.
Ward Holdings would become just one of the many businesses that would hide and cater to the ancient society. In return, Phillip was able to live his dream becoming a scientist and archivist of Pharos. In time, the Ward Institute would be the driving force behind such powerful organizations as the Smithsonian Institute and all it's affiliates. The Washington D.C. headquarters known as the 'Castle' is actually a PHAROS base as well.
Back in NEW YORK, other relatives of the Wards, the sons of judge Stephen Ward (Gareth's brother), Jasper and Bartholomew would purchase Ward Island of Randall’s and Ward’s Islands in 1784. Both the brothers, sharing their cousin Philipp's affinity for science and the unknown enthusiastically became a part of PHAROS, lending their holdings to the mysterious conglomerate.
As the centuries rolled by, Ward Holdings would eventually cross over to the ‘new world’ and become more popularly known as the Ward Institute, a foundation dedicated to scientific study. They would retain their primary name of 'Ward Holdings' over the whole of their corporate network and Pharos yet remained hidden behind it until the onset of the Nevus Event in 2010. It was then, that Christopher Ward, the current head of the Ward Institute made the decision to once and for all step out of the shadows.
The members of Pharos are archivists, scholars, adventurers, devoted to the study of biology, anthropology and now in our 'new world' the effects of the Resonance. They comb the world in search of artifacts and antiquities to learn, document and categorize. They are relic hunters braving a new hostile world in pursuit of the mystic and magical in whatever shape or form it may take. They span North America and beyond in search of the enchanted remnants of lost civilizations returned, the gathering of rare plants, and the capture of deadly and bizarre beasts so that they may better understand this new flora and fauna. They are the investigators, the explorers, the scientists and sometimes police of our new magical frontier.
It is their mission to protect the relics of our worlds from the atrocities of war and the exploitation of greed — to archive our greatest achievements and lock away our greatest failures.
For the most part, you WILL NOT see the 'PHAROS' logo plastered all over the place. Within the Eastern Alliance most of it's facilities are part of, and always be, owned by the Ward Institute. Pharos also resides within the Smithsonian and other places synonymous with the preservation of history.
The Ward Institute was and still is an organization serving as a way for wealthy investors to fund world changing scientific projects for the majority of its existence. It supported discoveries from the Tesla coil, telephone, automobile to the Manhattan project and many other projects without their contribution being known to the public. They also had a secret side, traveling the world in search of rare antiquities, documenting strange occurrences and preserving all these details in hidden archives.
The Nevus Event was the dawn of a whole new world of knowledge. New protocols had to be developed. Overnight the entire organization's focus changed to the altered flora, fauna and structures of the altered world. If this wasn't a sign for PHAROS to reveal the source of their light, nothing would ever bring them out.
With the many of law enforcement agencies now gone, PHAROS took an active role in policing the new world. Protecting their treasures over the centuries required skill in both subterfuge and combat and the PHAROS agents were more than qualified.
Christopher Ward, CEO of the Institute and direct descendant of the founder Gareth Ward, also emphasized the new mission goals —
Pharos not only would continue their studying and cataloging, but would also assist in policing the supernatural, utilizing their vast knowledge to promote understanding and peace between the 'altered' and the 'non-altered'.
Pharos now strives to understand the effects of the Resonance and protect the innocent and misunderstood from the threats of this quickly changing world.
What are relics? Pharos is interested in ALL forms of knowledge in what ever shape or form it takes, and more recently in our world things have taken a very magical turn.
We cannot dismiss the fact that Pharos still pursues the old run-of-the-mill treasures in our world. The Holy Grail, The Secret City of Paititi, The Sword of Attila, these are not insignificant treasures and worth being pursued but Pharos has set their eyes on grander prizes.
In the Nevus world not only did people change but other beings slipped into our world. Not only did entities cross-over, but so did parts of the realms from which they came, some of those parts and items are magical, some empowered to such levels that they could potentially threaten cities, maybe even entire countries. Some are simply interesting and worth collecting.
Pharos pursues these 'enchanted relics' with unmatched fervor. The importance of these items supersedes all other goals withe the exception of meta-animal investigations. Monster-control is always a priority.
When these relics are found the upmost care is taken in containing and studying them. The more dangerous the item the more precautions are taken and consequently the better they are hidden away in one of the many secret archives Pharos has all over the world. Even within the organization there are very few who know all the locations of these classified treasure troves.
Pharos is also all about the preservation of KNOWLEDGE. Scientific exploration in all fields is supported by the organization which is why many of their 'fronts' or 'holdings' are research companies. Pharos employs some of the greatest minds of the world, setting up think tanks and providing facilities to push science beyond the boundaries. They are involved in cutting edge research in genetics, robotics and even artificial intelligence.
YOUR ROLE — How do I portray a Pharos Agent?
Your character as a member of Pharos will know of the location of a few archives (undergound bunkers, warehouses, secret laboratories, etc.) and guard the secret with their life. Please remember, that NO self respecting member of PHAROS will discuss any of these archives or the inner workings of the organization with anyone who is not part of or explicitly trusted by Pharos. This is a highly secure and classified organization. Members DO NOT have part time jobs working down the street at the local coffee shop. They are usually 'archivists' or 'agents' and hold a position within the institute housing PHAROS. This position is generally more than just a 'cover', it's an actual job plus they have their duties as an agent to uphold. The life style of agents varies depending on the nature of their position. In some cases they may be full on agents working in an OFFICIAL capacity, which means suits and badges, they can work behind the scenes as an investigator, a researcher, or a relic hunter travelling the globe. Preserving, protecting and exploring the mysteries of the world requires an extensive network of individuals with a wide array of skills.
In the past Pharos and The Vanguard of Humanity had worked together on several occasions, more recently, after the formation of ARMA they maintain good relations with those trusted Magus. Sharing jurisdiction over the Eastern Alliance the two factions have to coordinate, otherwise they would be continually bumping heads since they have agendas in common.
Pharos also collaborates with the local police. As accepted law enforcers on the streets of the Alliance the NYPD recognize them as colleagues. Jurisdiction is often clarified by the event. Quite simply, if the situation is paranormal to the extent that the officers are outmatched and unable to arrive at a peaceable solution then they're more than happy to step aside and leave it to the pro's.
They and the Vanguard are on opposite sides, they have had several incidents with them. As a relationship exists between the Vanguard and the NWDD, Pharos has little to do with either and it's the main reason why they've had such a difficult time gaining a foothold in the Western American Federation. The New World Defense Divsion DOES NOT want them around, but as their hold on California is weak, the Southern Coalition has allowed their presence in Los Angeles.
Pharos would not even consider trying to function in the Southern Republic. As staunch supporters of the Vanguard, the S.C. (Southern Coalition) had no tolerance what-so-ever for their open policies, such as employing 'non-human looking' beings. The Vanguard perceives Pharos as a hippy commune demonstrating against the injustices and prejudices of the new world.
As allies working toward common goals Pharos provides many of the trusted members of ARMA with security clearance and access to some of their facilities.
THE SHEUT NATION
Due to the similar natures of these two societies they have crossed paths many times throughout history and thus one has always been aware of the other. This, however, does not mean that PHAROS possesses intimate knowledge of the faction's innermost workings. It simply means that they possess information concerning the Sheut in the form of ancient texts and relics. One does not simply enter 'Sheut' in the archive database and access all the information, for a member of Pharos to delve into Nation's history they would need to travel about to obtain, decipher and compile the data. An agent with a high level security clearance may recognize the 'Sheut' name but have very little knowledge pertaining to it unless specifically mentioned in your character's profile.
THE WARD FAMILY
The Ward Family is part of the 'old money' of America. They are rooted in the history of the 'Founding Fathers' and are thus very prominent in the Eastern Alliance, Western Federation and even for the most part, the Sourthern Coalition.
Gareth Ward (1743 - 1826) founded Ward Holdings when he was 33 years old. He would pass on the legacy to the generations to follow.
Six generations later, Paul Ward (1946 - ) would eventually pass his majority control of the New York based Ward Institute to his son, Christopher. His younger brother, Solomon Ward (1948 - 2010) would leave his share to his children, Stone and Sapphron.
Their family history is entwined with the secrets of the Institute. It is their life's blood and very few will ever see into it's shadowy corners as clearly as they.
* We do not allow members to insert a character into the Ward Family. A relation would simply wield too much power.
The ancestral home of the Ward family is located on Greenwich. Christopher Ward and his family reside in the estate, along with his father, Paul Ward and his mother, Emma. Paul would naturally still have a hand in the business but for ease of writing he is kept in the background.