The Moriarty Institute for Mathematical Sciences is a London-based think-tank that employs a scientific paradigm to promote the development and dissemination of new mathematical conjectures. It claims amongst the lower echelons of its membership to pursue an agenda of abstraction, logical reasoning, statistics and probability, championing science while rejecting superstition and faith-based belief systems. However, in secret the leadership of the Institute desires to re-write reality to suit their nefarious ends through the rigorous application of universe-altering mathematical axioms and definitions.
The Moriarty Institute: A Brief History
The Moriarty Institute for Mathematical Sciences was founded in 1886 by Professor James Moriarty, using money received as a personal grant from the British Crown. Moriarty at the time had just resigned the chair of the mathematical department of the University of Durham, and was given a grant because he claimed that his Institute, as a product of the Victorian age, would be able to use science to describe not only worldly but also magical phenomena. In the increasingly more scientifically minded world of the late 19th century this attracted interest from the Crown and the Royal Society, and so Moriarty was given a chance to prove himself.“[Prof. Moriarty] is a man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty. At the age of twenty-one he wrote A Treatise on the Binomial Theorem, which has had a European vogue. On the strength of it he won the mathematical chair at one of our smaller universities, and had, to all appearances, a most brilliant career before him.”
- Sherlock Holmes
In this Professor Moriarty succeeded in the Institute's early years quite spectacularly, by using applied mathematics to formulate a number of arithmantic principles. These managed to solidify the theretofore disorganized field of numerology, allowing for divination to a far more accurate degree than was previously thought possible. Moriarty then set about mathematically analyzing other magical techniques, confidently asserting that his methodology was far more efficient than the old trial-and-error practiced by the Queen's sorcerers. Obviously this attitude rankled some chains with the much older Gargoyle Institute, whose warlocks did not particularly enjoy the professor's public questioning of their abilities. Nonetheless the Institute in the following years managed to convince a good deal of the British establishment that there was no such thing as 'magic': rather, the professor claimed, there was only the successful application of some as of yet unknown scientific principle that, like any other thing, could be explained through the rigorous application of mathematics.
Of course James Moriarty had another less well known purpose for his Institute as well. Whilst he championed the cause of science in public, in private he was determined to amass great private wealth and political power. As a highly competent criminal mastermind he became the driving force behind the criminal underworld of the British Empire, using his prodigious mental capacities to stage one elaborate caper after the other. All the while he used his Institute and its fabulous array of analytical engines and mathematical genius to further his nefarious plots, first simply by calculating odds of success, later by attempting to develop a holistic computational approach to crime, which incorporated many elements of the Institute's research into the foundations of magic in order to enable ever more daring criminal plots.
These plots did not go unnoticed, of course. Eventually a series of brilliantly executed heists and improbable conspiracies attracted the attention of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, and with it the attention of the Supernumerary. After a chase across Europe the 'Napoleon of crime' professor James Moriarty disappeared together with Holmes over the edge of the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, and was believed dead.
His Institute, however, continued to exist: although it came under Imperial scrutiny in the wake of the professor's disappearance the upper echelons managed to conceal any evidence of their association with Moriarty's plots, and were eventually allowed to retain their tenure at the Institute. And because like any operation executed by the Most Uncustomary Office of the Supernumerary the action against Moriarty and his ring of crime was a closely guarded Crown Secret, the Institute did not lose any credibility in the public eye.
In the wake of the professor's disappearance, then, the Moriarty Institute continued the professor's work: publically charting the mathematical foundations of reality, and privately harnessing its findings to secretly enable a variety of seedy and crooked plots.
The Moriarty Institute Today
Despite perpetrating well over a hundred years of criminal activities the Moriarty Institute through the years has managed to keep a very low profile with law enforcement. The Institute pays its taxes and all its employees have squeaky-clean records, it sponsors several charities, it pays its employees very well and it has bring-your-daughter-to-work days. As a result the Institute has long since fallen off the radar of any of the world's police organizations, and it takes great pains to keep things that way. The Moriarty Institute never involves itself directly in any crime in any obvious manner, instead preferring to work through middlemen who do not know who it is they are working for; moreover it prefers to avoid obvious crimes like robbery.
Instead, the Moriarty Institute has perfected its founder's holistic approach to crime. Before executing a plot it calculates every probability, takes into account every factor, and then with a few gentle nudges stages perfect crimes that leave no evidence, preferably in such a way that no-one even notices any crime has been committed. More esoteric crimes involve stock price gauging through manipulation of future events, the multiplication of money or other valuables through application of universe-altering mathematics, or the prediction of the heists planned by other criminal organizations, only to then steal their loot from them.
The Moriarty Institute is housed in several Edwardian buildings located along Old Queen Street and Darthmouth Street, in the heart of Westminster, London. The head of the Moriarty Institute is the Dean, currently the Rt. Hon. Lord Fields of Fallbrook, a former holder of the Prof. James Moriarty Seat for Applied Criminology. A central aspect of the Institute's mission continues to be to define the rules by which reality operates, and then to wrest control over these rules in order to steer actuality in the course desired by the higher echelons. This is done through the application of 'hypermatics', as the Institute labels the application of mathematically derived conjectures to render reality malleable. Only the upper echelons of the Institute however are actually aware of this mission; the lower ranks are simply pawns who believe they work at an academically prestigious, if occasionally slightly boring, scientific institution.
The Institute is divided into four branches defined by their mathematical specialization, each of which is headed by a chairperson. The four branches are the Arithmatic Engineering Institute (still known by its Victorian-era nickname as “the clockworks”), which develops new mathematical insights, truths and axioms; the Technical Council on Derived Statistics, whose task is to glean knowledge of the future through the application of statistical methodologies; the Unimatics Division, which supports the former two through the acquisition, modeling, analysis, and management of data; and the less well known Council on Disaster Improvement, which in point of fact is anything but.
Abilities of the Institute
To the public at large the Moriarty Institute for Mathematical Science is an obscure and unknown organization, no more than one of a myriad small independent research institutes. In academic circles the mathematicians of the Institute are celebrated as ground-breaking pioneers in unifying the 'mundane' and 'esoteric' sciences, as much perhaps as Hawking and Quartermass are for unifying quantum mechanics and general relativity. To Her Majesty's government meanwhile the Institute is mostly known as a low-key think-tank that has contributed a trickle of useful ideas that helped make possible such spectacular successes of British engineering as the Leighton-Saunders velocipator engine, the color reactor, and the advanced aerodynamic shapes of cavorite-empowered airships.
All this combined has granted the Institute an air of quiet respectability which more than anything manages to shroud its more questionable activities. Few to no-one really understands the advanced mathematics the Institute works with on a daily basis, further cloaking its strange affairs in a bewildering torrent of numbers and equations that will give a layman headaches. This, combined with the final fact that only a few people in the Institute really know what is going on behind its ivy-covered brick walls, has ensured that the Moriarty Institute can do pretty much whatever it wants and get away with it: as long as it produces a steady stream of essays to keep the academic paper mills busy no-one is ever likely to question what really goes on behind the walls of Old Queen and Darthmouth Street.
Meanwhile the Institute is working on increasingly more advanced ways of altering reality through the application of mathematics. This can normally only be inferred from very subtle fluctuations (such as the prices of Institute-owned stock going up at the opportune moment) but can also potentially manifest in much more vulgar displays of raw reality-modification, such as the forceful alteration of past, current or future events to suit the needs of the Institute, manipulating odds of any event or sequence of events ending favorably for the Institute, or in the worst case the complete ejection of objects from the time-line. The more overt the display of power, however, the more likely it is that someone will notice.
The Moriarty Institute is staffed by scientists. Conniving, reality-altering mad scientists perhaps, but scientists nonetheless. They loathe physical violence, and have no metahumans on their payroll. As such the ability of the Dean and the Chairpersons to directly influence or intervene in worldly affairs is limited, although of course this is so by choice as much as it is by necessity. The Institute's defenses are almost exclusively of the 'hide in plain sight' variety, and unlike the days of James Moriarty today even the unscrupulous higher echelons have no longer the stomach for personal murder or other such distastefully physical altercations. The Dean would much prefer to rewrite the past if such could at all be avoided, an overly complicated approach to crime that could potentially come back to bite him in the backside, even if it's served the Institute well for the past hundred years or so.