The Folk is a rare criminal organization that predated capes and still functions in more or less the same fashion as capes replaced them. The Folk are middle men, or professional guarantors that let the criminal economy of Chicago functions well and consistently without the hassle of rivalries getting in the way.
Like many gangs it is made up of human and parahuman members. Topsey and Mockshow are the only dedicated parahuman members with outside mercenaries brought in when extra muscle was needed. More recently they widened the scope of the type of mercenaries they were willing to deal with.
The Folk were supposedly a vital part of Chicago as they kept criminal gangs from fighting each other when they could be dealing in profitable business. Sadly Topsy mistook his success in this field for greater ability on his part. When Protectorate heroes interfered with his deals he decided to hire his own middle men to make his displeasure known. These hires overstepped important bounds and made The Folk far less necessary of an evil then they usual.
Unlike many cape groups they were able to evolve with the times of Parahumans working their way into various enterprises criminal and otherwise. The group was around in its current format for roughly ten years.
↑ 1.01.1Topsy was tricky. Part of the reason for the surveillance had been to identify the other parahumans in his group. He hired mercenaries, paying well, and there was no sure way to tell who he had with him, short of seeing them in costume. Trouble was, his people were defaulting to heavier clothing over their costumes, due to the cold weather. Identities were doubly hard to discern, and Topsy wasn’t one to blab over the phone about who was working for him. - Excerpt from Scarab 25.3
↑ 2.02.12.22.3The apartment was one of many detours in an extended distribution chain that saw guns and drugs making their way to the Folk, one of the rare criminal organizations that predated capes and still functioned in more or less the same fashion today. Topsy and his underlings were guarantors, middlemen who made it possible for diehard enemies to do business. If a fight erupted, he and his minions would deal with the situation quickly, promptly and efficiently.
It was a simple job, and it was one he’d done for nearly a decade. In the process, he’d apparently grown exceedingly rich, and he had recently started to become more ambitious. Campanile and Shuffle had interfered with a deal, and Topsy had hired some mercenaries to seek out retaliation. If the escalation of the situation wasn’t bad enough, the mercenaries had crossed lines, and Topsy had been relocated to the heroes’ shit list as a consequence. He was an acceptable target.
The only thing that would make Campanile and Shuffle happier than us fucking up and giving them an excuse to step in would be a perfectly executed operation and a humiliating loss for Topsy. I’d do my best to oblige on that front. - Excerpt from Scarab 25.3
↑He was a monster who left his victims dead if they were lucky, quadriplegic if they weren’t. Maybe that was ableist, but I didn’t fancy being left to rely on the care of others for the rest of my natural life, suffering what was, by all accounts, an indescribably painful case of phantom limb.
It said a lot about Topsy and the direction he was taking his enterprise, that he’d hire this bastard. - Excerpt from Scarab 25.3
↑It's worth stating that one of the underling ideas driving the formation of groups and ideological factions in the Wormverse is the notion that some people get a voice where they otherwise wouldn't. Give an immense amount of power to a (relatively) random section of the population and you'll see certain shifts in the overlying sentiments.
All the more so when you think that a parahuman with aspirations might latch on to an idea, concept, or group to get reputation, resources, and contacts. - Comment by Wildbow on Sufficient Velocity
↑Simply making sure we were in the right place at the right time, luring a local power into a fight, with a plan already in mind… [...] “Tecton,” I called out, as my eyes fell on a portrait of a supervillain with a mask of an upside-down face. An established power, located at the city’s edge for nearly ten years. Too established? I didn’t want to set another ABB fiasco in motion. - Exerpt from Scarab 25.2
↑They had a different plan in mind. They reversed direction and headed straight for a restaurant with a sign showing a gold dragon against a red background.
“Grace,” I said. “Wei shu wu? Does typing it into the computer turn up anything?”
“A cover business for a group with affiliations to the Folk,” Revel volunteered.
“We safe to harass them, or-”
“No. They have people with powers, and that’s beyond the scope of this manhunt.” - Excerpt from Scarab 25.3