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Video Game: The Secret World
"Everything is true."

An MMORPG from Funcom, makers of The Longest Journey, Anarchy Online, Age of Conan and several other games, released on July 3rd, 2012. The premise of The Secret World is that all conspiracies are true, and major clandestine organizations compete to take over the world, whilst keeping swarms of mythical creatures under wraps in the process. Players join up with one of three ancient conspiracies: the Templar, The Illuminati, or the Dragon, to fight in a secret war waged in the shadows of our world.

An interesting draw is the reported lack of classes and levels — rather than selecting a class such as "mage" or "warrior" and only learn certain skills as you level up, players will be able to choose skills to do whatever they want — they are free to select both spells and melee, or stealth and healing magic or what have you.

The Templars, based in London, are the most open of the three societies, as well as the most devoted to fighting evil in all forms. Pitted against them are the Illuminati, who are focused on personal gain and individualism. The third society, the Dragon, is the most enigmatic of the three — decentralised and secretive, the only thing sure about them is their dedication to their mathematical model that is said to represent the universe.

According to the developers, the game takes a lot of inspirations from works set in The Roaring Twenties, from HP Lovecraft's books to the Indiana Jones franchise. It was even originally intended to be set in 1920s, but concerns over the setting's accessibility have led to a Present Day setting being chosen. The old setting was instead picked up again by the devs' later project, Draugen.

Examples of tropes in this game:

  • Action Prologue: The Tokyo Incident Flashback has you assume the role of Sarah in a combat tutorial teaching you the basics of the combat.
  • Advanced Ancient Humans: It is generally accepted in the Secret World that there have been advanced civilizations long before the dawn of ours. However, they fell so long ago that most information is irrecoverable and the pursuit of such information is largely considered pointless, although when found, Third Age technology is considered extremely valuable.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: A lot of the Investigation Missions has you doing research while uncovering unearthly ruins.
  • Allegedly Free Game: Averted. While there is a sizable micro-transaction store and several benefits to the optional subscription, nearly everything in the store is cosmetic and character progression happens at such a generous pace that a player is far more likely to find a pair of premium pants they absolutely must have than find themselves thinking they need one of the skill boosts.
  • All Myths Are True: One of the game's taglines is "Everything is True", referring to how every myth and legend told throughout human history not only has a grain of truth to it, but in fact can be taken more or less at face value. The tagline is also mentioned to the Player Character at some point during the prologue for each faction.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Atlantic Island Amusement Park, haunted by the Bogeyman. Complete with ghostly echoes of children laughing and grainy, grayscale areas meant to evoke feelings of happier times.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Three flavors for players to chose from, as well as at least one for the players to take down.
  • Ancient Tradition: The MO of the Dragon, with a subtle mixture of both the "Passive Observation" and "Aiding" varieties.
  • And the Adventure Continues: After completing your story mission, your faction leaders reward you with a leave of vacation while hinting about going back to Tokyo where it all began.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: All three factions do different variants of this trope when recruiting you. Templars give you an open invitation and say you can walk way. However free player do not last long in The Secret World even with immortality. Illuminati come off as an arrogant prick that tells you to be there or else. And the Dragon.... They don't even let you have a chance to refuse as they kidnap you and throw you into Seoul knowing that you'll stumble upon them.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes:
    • Completing "Decks", which are essentially player classes/build templates unlocks a unique outfit for your character. Additionally, unlocking the second tier of a weapon type's skill tree unlocks a special jacket thematic with that weapon, such as a camouflage jacket for the assault rifle, or, for blades, a yellow jacket like The Bride wears in the fight with Crazy 88 in Kill Bill.
    • At certain faction ranks you get themed uniforms.
    • Certain achievements give you new clothes. For example, completing all the quests for the Innsmouth Academy Faculty rewards you with an Innsmouth Academy Hoodie. Completing all the Jack O'Lantern quests rewards you with a Pumpkin Head!
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: These sorts abound in the Secret World. Special mention goes to Wicker, though. He sold his soul in order to survive in hell with plans of bringing it back to the paradise it once was.
  • Anti Poopsocking: To some extent. Most quests can be repeated many times, but they reset after several hours of active playing time (not real-time or time being logged in) to prevent quest grinding.
  • Arc Words: "You are all made of stars" shows up in Tokyo after its initial use in Issue #7. It's a really big clue that something filth-related happened at the Fear Nothing Foundation as opposed to run of the mill death cult stuff.
  • Attack Drone: Pistol users can summon drones to use in combat for attack and support.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The New York raid boss, The Unutterable Lurker, is a Cthulhu-esque monster that attacks Manhattan.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Dr. Klein, who exposed himself to small doses of the Filth to build up an immunity, although it also caused him to develop a dependency. Subverted; according to the bees, this does not give one an immunity to Filth, and Klein is plain infected by it. He retains his own personality - but it's entirely devoted to the filth.
  • Awesome McCoolname: There's an Orochi employee named Kitsune Hayabusa. "Kitsune" is the Japanese word (not commonly used as a name) for the fox and a mythological foxlike creature, while "Hayabusa" is a name meaning Peregrine Falcon, also used for several things including fighters, warships, spacecraft, and a fictional ninja clan.
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • Montogmery de la Roche demonstrates his credentials in this field by casually impaling an approaching mummy on his Sword Cane.
    • Khalid, the immortal hermit living in the Egyptian wilderness. Implied to be have been either Moses or Aaron, more-than implied to be somewhat Angelic in nature, and somewhat reminiscent of Gandalf.
    • Octavian, despite being in his seventies when made an immortal, is still able to wield a battle-axe with deadly skill when the need arises.
  • Badass Teacher: Headmaster Montag of Innsmouth Academy, who admits to knowing how to decapitate a rampaging Familiar with a shovel.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: The seedy 'Darkside' district in downtown London is a surreal collection of monsters and myths from the entire world. A ghoul runs a taco-cart there!
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: The Dragon healing deck (named Monk) is this. Subverted, in that the Monk deck also has access to assault rifles.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Carter from Innsmouth Academy whom Montag describe as a walking thermonuclear bomb if her full power is unleashed.
  • Big Applesauce: The Illuminati are based in New York City.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The moth-like ak'ab on Solomon Island, and the demonic "locusts" of Egypt.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • During the player's visit to Egypt, three Council of Venice agents have been surrounded on all sides by Aten Cultists, are clearly outmatched and expecting this to be their last stand... up until the player appears, destroying the opposition with bolts of lightning.
    • When the player finally manages to uncover the tunnel entrance in Kingsmouth, they're immediately confronted by a monstrous guardian; after a short boss-fight, the guardian is ready to finish you off — only to be suddenly dispatched by a barrage of fireballs from John Wolf.
    • In the Darkness War story, the Wabanaki are being beaten by Mayan invaders after just a day of battle. On the second day, Vikings show up with extra soldiers and Excalibur, which turns the battle around. This is after sailing all the way from Europe
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: There's a whole tribe of Sasquatch living in the forests of Solomon Island, and for the most part they're fairly benevolent, if incapable of human speech. They're actually one of the very few things keeping the dark forces lurking beneath the island from escaping; unfortunately, they're also an endangered species.
  • Black and Gray Morality:
    • You have three ancient conspiracies that control humanity, none of which are portrayed in a truly positive or negative light, working to unravel a darker conspiracy that threatens all humanity.
    • Your first visit into hell consists of rescuing a man who wants to bring it back to Paradise after its creators abandoned it to decay. Of course, it is a demon who told him how Hell used to be...
  • The Blank: When viewing John's memories he is represented with a featureless face.
  • Blatant Lies: The original tagline of the game was "There is no conspiracy." The promotion campaign has since made a U-turn and posited that "Everything is true."
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Carter, the last surviving student of Innsmouth Academy, still wearing a blood-splattered hoodie and still looking mildly traumatized.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: While fluid, the Dragon NPCs' Korean dialogue uses odd constructions, varies wildly between overly formal and extremely rude, and generally gives the impression that either the translator or the voice actors were more accustomed to using a dialect other than modern standard Korean.
  • Body Horror: The transformation process inherent to both the Filth and the Draugr. Not only do the lore entries go into horrific detail, but you actually get to see the transformation at a mid-point in the case of Joe Slater, Patient Zero for the Draugr attack on Kingsmouth: when you finally track him down, he still looks vaguely human, but his left arm has been distorted into massive club of bone and coral, his right arm is covered in wriggling tentacles, and his face is pockmarked with what look like barnacles.
    • There is also what happens to the young "guests" of the Nursery, the experiments certainly left their marks.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Justified that you channel your Anima through your firearms, so you are essentially firing Anima Bullets. This also explains why your firearms don't drop any brass casing or that you'll able to leech heal with an assault rifle.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Deputy Andy, one of the first NPCs you meet has rather... interesting view of policing the small town.
    Deputy Andy: Kingsmouth was a sleepy little burg. Nothing stronger on the streets than a hot cup of coffee and chocolate glazed donuts from Suzie's. The occasional DUI, domestic disturbance, human sacrifice... But every town has a dark side, right?
  • Bullet Hell: The devs seem to have really had fun with the Cross Hair Aware nature of boss attacks. Of particular note is the last boss in the second dungeon on Solomon's Island, which creates some pretty impressive spiral designs made out of explosions that will pretty much instantly kill you if you can't avoid them or don't have a lot of health.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Illuminati's highest of high-ups, The Pyramidion. He speaks in a calm, evenly-paced tone, and you can tell he obviously knows everything worth knowing. Too bad about that curious habit of peppering his speech with Public Announcements and context-relevant memes...
    • Headmaster Montag of Innsmouth Academy; along with his habit of wearing latex gloves and refusing handshakes out of aversion to human contact, he tends to launch into rambling, overly-verbose monologues at the drop of a hat, and is almost hilariously unresponsive to human emotion. On the other hand, he's a very capable administrator, a highly-experienced magician, and stoic enough not to be unnerved by the monsters trying to claw their way into his inner sanctum. Appropriately, he's an Illuminati employee.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Especially for members of the Dragon. All characters start off by swallowing a bee and accidentally destroying their apartment. Templars players are given an option to join up, Illuminati players are given an appointment and a veiled threat, while the Dragon players get kidnapped, dropped off in an alley in Korea, and then get a recruitment pitch from a former professor and a prostitute.
  • Cannibal Clan: Subverted in the case of the the Dimirs; though very happy to kill and eat magical creatures of any description, Silviu claims that people "are not for sausages."
  • Cast from Hit Points: Blood Magic specializes in this.
  • Catchphrase: The lore entries — narrated by the bees — almost always begin with, "Our Wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and See."
    • "Initiate the secret histories."
    • "What is time to us? We stand outside. Everything has happened. Everything is happening."
  • Character Blog: Many minor characters have them, and some of them are actually integral to investigation quests.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lampshaded by Sam Krieg: "I'm sure you know this one: show a gun on the mantlepiece in the first act, before the curtain goes down it's gonna blow someone's scrotum off."
  • The Chessmaster:
    • The Dragon, who frequently manipulate the other two societies (as well as their other enemies) for their own purposes; in one case, thanks to their predictive equations, they were willing to engineer the birth of an individual who would grow up to join the Templars and eventually betray them, just so they could get their hands on the artefact he'd steal from them in the process.
    • The Illuminati, particularly their head, The Pyramidion. They would prefer to solve issues through back-room political influence, blackmail, and bribery, rather than resort to cruder methods like violence or terrorism.
  • Class and Level System: Essentially averted. A PC can eventually collect every single talent and ability in the game if played long enough. You do gain XP, but gain Ability Points you can spend however you want.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: About every second NPC you meet, in one way or another. Of course, the game being what it is, many of those turn out to be something else entirely...
  • Clock Punk: Apparently what Third Age technology ran on. Heck, it still does in the case of the Agartha Custodians.
  • Closed Circle: For the citizens of the Kingsmouth.
  • Common Character Classes: Zig-zagged; play for long enough and you will eventually learn every ability, max out every skill and have endgame-level gear of every type. Players in groups are required to fulfill a tank, healer or damage dealer archetype, but there is significant wiggle-room in how this can be done. It's virtually impossible to accomplish everything with a single build even for a player sticking to one role.
    • Leech healing for groups is entirely viable and in many cases more efficient than direct healing, as the healer is also a damage dealer and will help bring the bosses down faster. This can backfire in some places like "Hell Fallen" where many of the bosses have damage-reducing shields, lowering the damage the leech healer inflicts and, with it, their healing.
    • Damage dealers are usually the players who provide needed support abilities. Particularly noticeable in "Hell Raised" where the bosses love to stack damage-over-time effects that must be cleansed off of the group.
    • "The Facility" is often done with a self-healing tank, while the group member who would normally be the dedicated healer provides more direct damage.
  • Confusion Fu: Chaos Magic is up close and personal used for many purposes such as generating hate (drawing enemy attention), evade tanking (relying on not getting hit while keeping the enemy occupied), debuffing (weakening or adding vulnerabilities to) the enemy, redirecting attacks back at the attacker, etc.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: Part of the basis of the game. And the writer are not at all not shy to show their work (the list starts ca. 1:10 in).
  • The Corruption: The Filth, a universe-hopping life form with the ability to change people into tentacle-covered monsters and manifests as toxic mold, black sludge, and even a Brown Note radio signal. It is said in the lore to be the creation of a Multiversal Conqueror.
  • Covert Distress Code: According to Sonnac, a post card from Cairo bearing Ozymandias is the universal sign of a imminent apocalypse in Egypt.
  • Crosshair Aware: A lot of enemies telegraph their biggest and powerful attacks with AOE circles telling you to dodge and get out of the area.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: With the name of Templars, referring to having faith when speaking of them often, and using the Iron Cross as their symbol, many assume the Templars are Christians. It has been explicitly stated that they are not, though. More specifically, they were around before Christianity, adopted it as one of their tools for a while and then dropped it when a Gambit Pileup resulted in their Knights Templar branch being wiped out.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy:
    • Fredrick 'Freddy' Beaumont. He knows that if he kills you, you'll just be revived and continue to meddle with his plans. So instead he knocks you out and imprisons you so that he can finish his plan without you being in the way.
    • A far more blunt solution is presented in Issue #7 by Lilith, who simply cuts off your legs.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying doesn't have any particularly high penalties. Your gear suffers some minor damage, and you have to either walk back to your corpse or respawn at an Anima Well. Death is so cheap, in fact, players commit suicide and respawn at the Anima Wells as a form of stopgap fast-traveling. Killing yourself is even required in some quests, to access areas that are blocked to the living and to interact with ghostly entities. This is justified and even lampshaded in game — when you go down, the Bees (the same ones that give your your powers) whisk you away to save you, and the first major villain you face actually says that he can't kill you because, unless he grinds you down to atoms — which he honestly doesn't have time to do — you'll just come back again. So instead he traps you in a large underground library while he proceeds with his plans.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: The game features many occasions when the player can encounter nightmarish creatures of best-forgotten myths and legends... and have pleasant conversations with them. Several examples of many:
    • During your first meeting with him, the Transylvanian Forest God is getting drunk at a tavern and writing poetry about the barmaid. Sadly, he doesn't offer to buy you a pint.
    • Dragon players experience a "Did You Just Shake Hands With Cthulhu" moment when the Golden Child — The Chosen One on which the entire Dragon is based upon, the child that you've been explicitly ordered never to speak to - quite unexpectedly beckons you over and shakes your hand. Judging by Bong Cha's stunned expression and the bow one of the servants gives you on your way out, it's clear that this trope was running through their heads.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?:
    • One of the main points of the game is doing battle with the eldritch horrors of myth and legend, so one would expect this trope to be come into effect at some point in the game.
    • The very first "dungeon" of the game, Polaris, features a Cthulhu Expy as the final boss. Bonus points go to players who make use of the martial arts-like Chaos Magic, which allows them to literally punch-out the Cthulhu wannabe.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After being defeated by the player character at the end of the first story quest, Beaumont has his magic sword stolen from him by the groupie he dumped earlier in the mission.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The boss of the Manhattan Exclusion Zone raid, The Unutterable Lurker first appeared in the fourth CGI trailer for the game.
  • Eldritch Location: Several of them in the game. The ones most encountered are probably Agartha (The world tree in the center of the earth, allowing extremely fast travel between different parts of the surface, used by players for travel between zones), and the Dreaming Prison (Seen during a few quests and cutscenes, and also seen in areas where the Filth is particularly strong), looking like a distorted version of outer space, with circling planets and asteroids, and some odd icy terrain, much of it floating.
  • Emote Command: The usual assortment. Unusually, these can be functional in interacting with the setting... just rarely enough to be a source of confusion for new players, who will soon learn how to "Use" anything and everything but will get stuck trying to figure out that the best way to, say, salute is to /salute.
  • End of an Age: Has happened several times in the past, and involved varying degrees of The Magic Goes Away and Lost Technology. The world is currently in the Fourth Age; the Third Age is heavily implied to have been an Age Of Wonder but is so far gone that only a few bits and pieces of it are left, like Excalibur. There is nothing discernible left over from the Second Age, although the bees describe it as having been "toxic," so this may be for the best.
  • Everybody Knew Already: Since every NPC you meet is at best acquainted to the secret world. Justified, as you don't venture far from your faction hub where many of the NPC's are aware of the Secret World or a part of it (and honestly in terms of subtlety it goes Templars, Dragons, Illuminati in ascending order) or from places where all hell has broken loose and the masquerade has become pointless.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Frederick Beaumont. He's even called exactly that in his first appearance.
  • Expy: The Secret World attempts to be closely parallel to reality, so the fictional characters of the novel, Dracula are just as fictional in TSW. An in-game equivalent does exist to Van Helsing, the greatest vampire hunter ever and whose lore is what allows humans to hunt vampires so effectively. It's Dracula himself, who was never a vampire in this setting. For the record, his heirs are not fans of Bram Stoker.
  • Extra Dimensional Shortcut: The alternate dimension of Agartha acts as a sort of trans-dimensional subway system, complete with quintessential British stationmaster.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: The world the players inhabit is full of supernatural goings on and many Muggles are even aware of it and independently fight the darkness on a day-to-day basis, yet it's implied that the vast majority of people in the world are still in the dark.
  • Familiar: One of the most common enemies found at Innsmouth Academy; according to Annabel Usher, prior to the disaster, they were created by the students in the magical equivalent of shop class- hence the reason why they look so repulsive. Unfortunately, they've gone feral following the death of the students, leaving the player with the job of trimming the herd before they overrun the remaining defenders.
    • Players can acquire their own animal familiars through the TSW marketplace. Three of them are available as a pre-orders for the deluxe edition game.
  • Fan Disservice: Female Draugr and most of the female demons (not just the succubi) are completely nude. It seems like the devs intended this to be as unsexy as possible between the rotting, waterlogged flesh of the Draugr, and the dark veiny breasts on the demons.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Dimir family justify the murder and cannibalization of numerous supernatural beings by reminding you that none of them were human, so technically they didn't break any laws. The vast majority of Secret Worlders do not share this sentiment.
  • Fish People: Lovecraft's own Deep Ones roam the New England coast near old Innsmouth, having apparently been herded out of the ocean by Draugr to assist in the invasion.
  • Foreshadowing: This game is full of foreshadowing, from mentions of Soviet supersoldiers to the incident in Japan to mentions of various locales not yet explored. One of the most disturbing, however, is that the Illuminati headquarters, the Labyrinth, is modelled after Mayan underground caverns. As you learn in the third dungeon, the Mayans may well have Dug Too Deep, and were touched by the filth. Are the Illuminati, then, corrupted as well?
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Female Draugr and most female demons fight in the nude. As they are only vaguely human-like, they are not exactly attractive.
  • Functional Magic: Thanks to being symbiotically bonded with one of the Bees, players have the ability to use magic in the fashion of Inherent Gifts; however, many other magical prodigies were simply born with their powers without the intervention of the Bees, in some cases because of genetic inheritance, in others for no perceivable reason at all. Secret Worlders who haven't been touched by "The Buzzing" or inherited magic need to learn spells through Rule Magic, which can take years to master. Meanwhile, the Illuminati have taken Device Magic to an artform in crafting various Magitek objects to control or enhance magical processes: Lore entries mention imprisoning demons inside specially-made hard drives, Dr. Zurn provides a full-body workout for your powers and a flashback to the Tokyo incident with a simple injection, and the faculty at Innsmouth Academy reinforce their wards with W.A.N.D. anima devices.
  • Fungus Humongous: The forests of Transylvania are home to at least two large colonies of gigantic fungus, one in the power station, the other in the water treatment plant. Several species here are mobile and extremely dangerous, requiring you to head in and destroy them before they start endangering the locals.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • In most online games, characters not being permanently killable is ignored — you can always be resurrected, but enemies you kill will generally stay that way. Player characters in The Secret World are routinely acknowledged in dialogue to be deathless, because of their supernatural empowerment. Enemies complain about being unable to do away with you permanently, and ticked-off allies call in the heavy sorcerers to threaten the death penalty. Some puzzles even involve deliberately dying to explore as a ghost or escape from a trap.
    • Unlike many online games which have every single character doing the same quests that would realistically only ever have been done once with no one mentioning the fact, mission completion dialogues in TSW occasionally reference the fact that you're not the only one being sent on these particular missions ("I'm sure one of you will get it right eventually"-type responses after "successfully" completed tasks).
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The Illuminati describe their fashion sense as 'gas-mask chic'; several Illuminati NPCs can be seen wandering around their New York headquarters (The Labyrinth) wearing gas masks. Attaining higher Faction Rankings within the Illuminati rewards the player with a full uniform including, yes, a gas mask.
  • Golem: Several are featured as particularly powerful enemies, made of either mud, scrap metal, broken chunks of concrete, lava, and sandstone. Some after-mission reports note how odd it is that several of these Golems are active without being brought to life by a magician. However, in one mission, Cucuvea gives you the materials to make a golem bodyguard to help you kill your way through the army of werewolves and vampires.
  • Grimy Water: There are several hazardous liquids that will severely harm the player upon contact. You'll have scant seconds to jump back out before you're rapidly poisoned to death, no matter how tough you think you are.
  • Groin Attack: It is possible to visibly plant timed explosive charges on a monster. For some races of ghoul, the player character seems to favor the groin as an attachment point.
  • Handwave: A notable aversion in the metagame; because of the setting, roleplayers don't need handwaves for whatever tools they use. For example, a twitter account isn't a "long range communication spell," it's the character's twitter account.
  • Haunted House:
    • What happens when you shun a woman for practicing witchcraft, then whip out the Torches and Pitchforks when some kids get mauled by wild animals on her property, and then, just to piss her off even more, do the exact opposite of her burial wishes? You get the Black House. A house so evil that even a hardened monster hunter refuses to go into. And for good reason too. Just trying to approach the front door gets you thrown about twenty feet away, and if you do manage to get in, you're greeted with ghostly shapes moving through the place, bleeding walls, tortured wailing, and the house itself trying to kill you.
    • The Franklin Mansion has a dark history and plenty of ghosts, but said ghosts are generally pretty benign, and the mansion is, in fact, one of the safest places on Blue Mountain.
  • Healing Shiv: The specialty of a healer who went the Assault Rifle route. They can hit enemies with a Life Drain effect and transfer stolen health to an ally, or cut out the middleman and fill their pals with medibullets directly.
  • Hell Hotel: The Overlook Motel, which is ground zero for a demonic invasion, with one of the rooms featuring a literal doorway into Hell.
  • The Hermit: Khalid in Egypt. An immortal implied to be Moses or Aaron.
  • Heroic Mime: The Player Character. Never says a word of dialogue, but people like to spill everything to them. At one point, Beaumont jokingly calls them, "my silent friend".
  • Historical Badass Upgrade:
    • The Illuminati is an enormously powerful organization run like a corporation that secretly controls the Americas. It has surveillance everywhere, and uses every manipulative trick in the book, from simple blackmail to brokering deals with demons to controlling the Internet, to reach its goals. Historically, the Illuminati was a short-lived secret society of intellectuals in the 18th century that was dedicated to humanist issues. The society disbanded less than ten years after its formation due to internal strife and the introduction of laws outlawing secret societies.
    • The Knights Templar, now known as just the Templars, is a military powerhouse that secretly rules all of Europe. They are very proud of their thousand-year-long history to the point that they barely bother to remain secret, and can tackle almost any problem just by throwing resources at it. Historically, the Knights Templar was a military order and early Christian banking organization during the Crusades. They were formally disbanded by the Pope almost two hundred years after their formation after a long decline in power as Christian influence in the Middle East waned.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • King Tutankhamun, who is mostly known for merely undoing Akhenaten's impact on Egyptian culture by reintroducing polytheism after his father abolished it in favour of monotheistic sun worship called Atenism, actually went so far as to oppose him while he was still alive in the game, as Aten is a kind of universe-threatening monstrosity. His legacy includes the Marya, an Ancient Order of Protectors, who still oppose Aten to this day.
    • Dracula is now a vampire hunter.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Akhenaten, who is mostly known for abolishing polytheism during his reign in favour of a monotheistic religion centred on sun worship called Atenism, is upgraded to "The Black Pharaoh," an Omnicidal Maniac dedicated to the world-destroying Aten; for good measure, he's identified as the Pharaoh who opposed Moses in the Old Testament.
  • Hopeless With Tech: Subverted; Cucuvea asks the player if they know how to use the computer she has in her tree, but it turns out she doesn't have problems with technology itself, it's just that a modern day computer is far less user-friendly than the Third Age tech she was used to. As the player leaves, she goes back to figuring it out.
  • The Hunter: Apart from Jack Boone and John Wolf, Solomon Island features the League of Monster Slayers, an entire club of monster hunters... comprised entirely of kids. Surprisingly, they actually have had quite a bit of success in the past, though the Lore entries reveal that their initial successes were largely due to having an Innsmouth Academy student in their ranks and up until comparatively recently, it took a lot of effort to get them to allow girls into the league. Unfortunately, most of the league's current membership were killed when the Fog descended on Kingsmouth, leaving only Danny Dufresne and their well-fortified treehouse base.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Some characters who a deeply involved in the secret world tend to swear by Gaia.
  • Hollow Earth: The travel nexus between major cities and locations is the fabled Agartha, in the center of the Earth. How did you manage to find Agartha? Well, see, The World Tree just sort of stuck out its branches...
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Sophie the barmaid is in a somewhat flirtatious relationship with the Forest God — who looks like a stag that's learned to walk upright. Sophie is unknowingly a Half-Human Hybrid of the fae kind.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Templar guards in London really do try to be aloof and serious, but they're not entirely immune to a bit of silliness: "Ho there, what news from the crusades?...I always wanted to say that."
  • Immortality:
    • The Bees — people who have a connection with the insects of the same name — are very difficult to kill, and the Player Characters are counted among their numbers. They can die, but their anima form (soul) just gets back up at the nearest Anima Well (a sort of fountain of raw magic) where it can either just spawn a new body, or hike its incorporeal form back to the old body and revive that. The Buzzing implies that unless they are killed deliberately, they will survive "until the heat death of the universe".
      • However, Word of God states despite our immortality the Bees won't stop aging, it will just happen incredibly slowly.
    • Certain NPCs enjoy their own forms of immortality (or not): Khalid and Ptahmose are — at the very least — ageless, though its implied that they're much more; the Sentinels have Complete Immortality, as nobody has worked out how to destroy them completely; Säid and the rest of the Kingdom are all undead, being mummies, though it's implied that there are ways of killing them off for good; the vampires enjoy undead immortality; and Elders have a certain degree of Regenerative Immortality. If lore entries and his own claims are to be believed, Beaumont has Complete Immortality, being a former Norse God.
  • Idle Animation:
    • Players will rub a hand over their face while idle.
    • The ak'ab hatchling will normally just sit up and beg every now and again, but if another player has a pet nearby, the hatchling will perform the ak'ab's signature column dash attack on it, knocking it over.
    • Nermegal, the "filth kitty," will open a tiny portal and jump through, not returning for about thirty seconds. Very rarely, it will return chasing down a tiny filth-infected Orochi operative like a mouse.
    • The Orochi security drone will zap other pets with a laser.
    • The Draug Lord Puppy will jump into the air and backflip.
    • The mini-Djinn will disco dance.
    • If two New Years Dragons owned by players from different factions are near each other, they'll start chasing each other while spitting fire.
    • If nine different Shem (golem) pets are near each other, they'll form a circle and perform a ritual, briefly summoning the Gatekeeper.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: A lot of the clothes in the microstransaction store and from event rewards fall under this, especially the full outfits. In contrast, clothes from the in-game clothing store are the normal clothes you would expect to find in a clothing store.
  • Inscrutable Oriental: The Dragon have this as their hat.
  • Interface Screw: Whenever the player enters an area contaminated by the Filth, the screen dims slightly, and spots of black fluid coat the edges of the screen, presumably to simulate the Filth's attempts at infecting them. Additionally, when close to death the screen will be tinged red and the player will start to hear their own heartbeat.
  • Interface Spoiler: On the testlive server for Issue #9, The Black Signal lore entries were categorized as the Filth and listed before picking up the first black lore.
  • Internet Incorporated: The Illuminati were responsible for the Internet's creation and have a major role in its continuing development and specifications. While they don't precisely own it, they've got the best real-time maps of it, the best monitoring of content and backdoor access to anything connected to the Internet... and, supposedly, a "kill switch" which entirely breaks connectivity worldwide.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Daniel Bach is a freelance reporter who has been obsessively chasing a particular lead for many years. His current scoop is the open Hellmouth under the Overlook Motel.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The game's HUD has a clock in the upper right-hand corner to give you the time of day in-universe.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: One of the favored weapons of the Dragon is the katana.
  • Knight Templar: The Templar will 'burn down a village to kill one demon'. They also created the The Knights Templar as an amusing diversion.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The Player Characters never say a word or display much body language, which is occasionally brought up as a source of humour. In cut-scenes, for instance, NPCs get embarrassed when they ask a non-rhetorical question and don't get a reply, and attempting to perform handshakes only leads to awkward silences.
  • La Résistance: The Marya ("young warriors") of Egypt are an ancient order formed by Tutankhamen that are devoted to thwarting the Cult of Aten.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: During Che and John's drunken adventures in Kaidan they get into fights with Akashi, the Korinto-kai, the House-in-Exile...and a dance off with Ricky Pagan.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Apis of the mysterious Sanctuary of Secrets is fully aware of the Funcom forums for the game, and hints that the Alternate Reality Game is his organization's doing.
  • Level-Locked Loot: Gear (weapons and talismans) are restricted by the amount of points invested in the relevant skill. Stronger gear has higher skill requirements.
  • Living Statue: The Sentinels, who currently guard the City of the Sun God and prevent the Black Pharaoh from rising again; lore and character dialogue reveals that they were originally the children of Ptahmose, sacrificed by him in order to stop Akhenaten's return. Though unable to move, they can still think and speak, and occasionally command local wildlife to do their bidding; as such, they're quest-givers.
  • Logging Onto The Fourth Wall:
    • In some Investigation Missions, the player is required to use the in-game browser to use Google to search for information or to look for clues on special websites set up for that particular puzzle.
    • The use of in-character twitter accounts is a growing trend among the community. Funcom has encouraged this by establishing twitter accounts for Säid, Kristen Geary, Carter, Danny Dufrense, Nassir and the Buzzing.
  • Lost Technology: Apparently plenty of it albeit not in plain sight for the most part, aside from the Agartha Custodians. Modern Day is ostensibly considered to be the Fourth Age of our world so there were three other advanced civilizations before ours and their technology is rare but not completely gone. Many legendary relics are implied to be remnants of a previous age such as Excalibur.
  • Lovecraft Country: Solomon Island, Maine, which even has places like Lovecraft Lane, Dagon Bay, Innsmouth Academy, and the Miskatonic River. And Deep Ones, of course.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Although the Lovecraftian monsters are most certainly a major threat to the universe, they are not the only threat by any stretch, and are quite beatable. After thousands of years, the secret societies have become quite adept at fighting back against that which drives you mad with a glance.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: The player can choose one of three animals (the Ferocious Wolf, the Egyptian Cat, or the Loyal Hound) to assist him or her in combat.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • The Ur-Draug battle at the end of "Polaris" turns into a crapshoot if the group doesn't do enough damage to skip the "blue" phase; it's virtually impossible to figure out if he's about to smash the rock the group is hiding behind, it happens so fast that coordination if someone does see it requires voice communication and thus can't be done with a pick-up-group, and moving to a different hiding spot gives the boss plenty of time to kill at least one group member with the attack everyone is hiding behind the rock from in the first place.
    • The Machine Tyrant at the end of "Hell Raised"; even with a high-geared, experienced group, a lot can go wrong in this fight very quickly. Success depends on the Machine Tyrant not applying his group-wide damage effects faster than the group can remove them, whether or not the tracking AOEs move in directions that cut players off from escaping them, whether or not the anima fountain spawns behind the tank instead of behind the damage dealersnote , and whether or not the fountain spawns near the tank as well as spawning on time. Even if you manage to compensate for these things and survive, doing so can reduce the damage dealers' time on target so much that they can't bring the boss down before the time limit expires even if their damage is more than enough on paper.
    • The Facility dungeon has several bosses who return high damage if an attack glances. It's possible to have high enough stats to never glance, but gearing for this specifically will result in a substandard build for anything else. Most players will run with almost enough hit rating to never glance, throw on passive buffs to increase it as the fights go on, and hope for no misses while waiting for those buffs to take effect.
  • Mad Artist: Downplayed with Sam Krieg, the horror author living in the Innsmouth lighthouse. While not exactly insane per se, he's cynical, curmudgeonly, morbid, and borderline homicidal: in one letter, he openly fantasizes about murdering his fans, and when he's not writing or drinking, he's taking potshots at zombies with a sniper rifle.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Dr. Charles Zurn, who has you Strapped to an Operating Table as part of joining the Illuminati. Though wildly eccentric, he's quite benign — especially compared to some of the other mad scientists in the game.
    • Dr. Klein, one of the villains of the Ankh dungeon. A scientist working for the Orochi group, he's been exposed to the Filth so often, he's actually developed a tolerance to its normal brain-destroying effects; unfortunately, he's also become seriously addicted to it in the process.
    • Dr Varias and the other scientists of the Soviet-run "Red Hand" project in Transylvania; among their more ambitious works were attempts to create vampire-human hybrids, and training cosmonauts to travel through "Inner Space."
    • Dr. Schreber in Dream to a Kill. Would Harm A Child. Lampshaded by Kirsten Geary, who carries the belief that a mad scientist is only as dangerous as the level of lucidity they aspire to; Zurn is perfectly safe because he doesn't even pretend to be lucid. Dr. Schreber, in contrast, has an extremely high professional standard, up to insisting that "Filth" and "Gaia's Chosen" not be used to refer to those things because they're unscientific names that carry inappropriate religious connotations.
  • Madness Mantra: Hello, I walk into empty
    • "My name is Sarah, I am still on this planet."
  • Magpies as Portents: The One for Sorrow, Two for Joy rhyme is delivered by ghostly white ravens as a clue in an investigation in Kingsmouth.
  • Man in White: Säid, the representative of the Kingdom, always wears an expensive white suit with a wide-brimmed hat and aviator shades; up until you actually get close enough to speak with him, this ensemble almost manages to disguise the fact that he's a dessicated old Mummy.
  • The Masquerade: The game is set in a world a bit darker than our own, with a secret war between the sides that know the truth.
  • Master Computer: The Contact Core of the Facility 9 dungeon. Originally in place just to run the Red Hand's experiments in sending cosmonauts across dimensions, it's developed a very unhealthy relationship with the only surviving test subject. As such, once it realises that you aren't going to leave the building, it becomes one of the bosses.
  • Mayan Doomsday: The End of Days event began on December 21st, 2012, and parts of it recurred in 2013.
  • Mega Corp.: One of the NPC factions will be "Orochi Multinational Group," based in Tokyo but with operations around the globe. Most references to them suggest they're trying to obtain supernatural artifacts, without success.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The Templar and Illuminati have been at each other's throats since they existed, and the Dragon attempt to manipulate both sides for their own purposes.
  • Metaphorically True: Used by the Dragon, as part of the Art of Chaos.
  • Moonwalk Dance: Features the moonwalk as an emote. Subverted in that /moonwalk causes your character to awkwardly shuffle backwards, eventually getting frustrated by their inability to do it right. In the cutscene for "the Bank Heist", Cloudcuckoolander yakuza-kingpin Daimon Kiyota is caught doing cartwheels in his office and he explains that being crazy can be the edge needed to survive, doing a proper moonwalk as the player leaves. It turns out there was method behind his madness—you have to cartwheel past lasers and poorly moonwalk over pressure plates during the robbery, the reward for doing so without tripping the alarm is a perfect moonwalk emote.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink:
    • The player factions:
      • The demon-purging Templars. Though they've progressed from their earlier days — in which they were widely known for burning down entire villages to kill a single demon — they are still extremely militant in nature, not to mention starkly traditionalist — something which has actually caused a certain degree of conflict within the faction as more liberal recruits try to change their faction's less-than-polite attitudes towards certain bloodlines. In the field, Templar agents are encouraged to avoid trying to save the world "on a case-by-case basis," and if this means leaving the entire surviving population of Kingsmouth to die or using the Illuminati's own Living Battery techniques, so be it. However, as the game progresses, the Templar become increasingly enthusiastic about their agents' world-saving ways, and are the "whitest" faction.
      • The power-brokering, Ultra-capitalist Illuminati. The Illuminati way is to seize control, no-matter who you have to take out to get it. As for their approach to civilians, at least the Templars have a certain degree of compassion for the inhabitants of Kingsmouth: the Illuminati are almost entirely without sympathy or compassion. On the upside, violence is a last resort; it's preferable to use blackmail, bribery, and backroom politics to achieve the Illuminati's goals.
      • The destabilizing Dragon. The Dragon are unique in that they show no plans to 'rule' the world as such, but instead cause chaos to understand the underlying mathematical system upon which Chaos operates. Of course, they also take their cues from a perpetually-reincarnating, prophetic eight-year-old child...
    • The NPC Factions:
      • The Brotherhood of Phoenician Sailors (aka 'The Phoenicians') who were a former ally — of sorts — to the other three factions before getting the political shaft one too many times. They're widely regarded as pirates, thieves, and mercenaries, but even the uptight Templars admit they have their uses... for the right price.
      • The multinational Orochi Group, which controls a satellite company in every industry on every continent, which even the Illuminati admit is impressive. Plus, the Morninglight seem to have some kind of a grudge against them. They appear to be relatively new to 'The Secret War', as some of their actions thus far have shown, but they've also been keeping tabs on the spread of the Filth throughout Solomon Island and Egypt — for reasons that their operatives refuse to elaborate upon. Lore entries suggest that their many satelite companies are up to no good, ranging from sinister occult research to full-blown political conspiracies, and it's implied that they aren't averse to leaving both the locals and their own research teams to die once their field work's over.
      • The Morninglight, which is one part Church of Happyology, one part modern-day Cult of Personality, and probably has the most to hide...
      • The Council of Venice isn't so much a 'faction' as a Secret World equivalent to the United Nations, including having their own peace-keeping force (which even wears blue berets). The council was formed with good intentions, but has become so bogged down in bureaucracy that even the Templars admit they're only good from keeping the Secret War from spilling out into the streets.
      • In Egypt, you meet The Kingdom, a faction of mummified, undead Merchant Princes from the age of the pharaohs. They're Only in It for the Money, and offer no loyalty (well, no permanent loyalty) to any of the factions; for good measure, they're major players in Egypt's criminal underworld. Their only saving grace is that they're slightly more civilized and refined than either the Illuminati or the Phoenicians. Your contact within The Kingdom (Säid) appears to be taking immortality well, given how much he enjoys his Armani suit and IPhone... among other vices he refuses to elaborate upon.
      • The dreamers are probably the blackest group in the game, though their end goals are unclear, their promises of power — and threats if you reject their offers — show their true nature.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Zig-Zagged; as the human inhabitants of Solomon Island, Egypt and Transylvania demonstrate, muggles can hold their own against the many different breeds of monsters that attack them every other minute, provided they've got a fortified position and a few guns. The soldiers of the US military and the Orochi Group are equally effective, so long as their shields keep working. A rare few Badass Normals, like Iorgu and the Hunter, can take on various monsters by themselves; some of the Wabanaki on Solomon Island have even made a successful business out of hunting wendigo and ak'ab. However, it's made clear that magic is much more effective in combating large groups of monsters or destroying the most powerful ones; quite apart from the many Orochi Group taskforces that have been massacred under these circumstances, locals usually ask you to help them bolster the defences from time to time.
  • The Necrocracy: The Kingdom, a syndicate of Ancient Egyptian noblemen that rule modern Egypt's criminal underworld; they're mainly a type 4, given that they've no desire to rule the world or destroy life, and are perfectly satisfied with sitting back and acquiring wealth. One of them, Säid, acts as a quest-giver.
  • Nepharious Pharaoh: The main villain of the Egypt section is Akenaten, changed from simply establishing a new religion into an Omnicidal Maniac. His reign is described in this style. Players fight a "sealed in a tomb" version at the end of this storyline section.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sam Krieg bears more than a passing resemblance to Stephen King. Lampshaded on a few occasions, such as mentions of his Ebony Tower trilogy, and a fan's blog that proposes a conspiracy theory that he's the same person as "Stephen Bachman"
  • Not Actually Cosmetic Award: Armor Is Useless (as talismans and skill provide all of your protection), and it doesn't matter whether you travel in paramilitary fatigues, a Fur Bikini, or a tuxedo... except for those few items of protective gear which you really should be wearing for specific purposes. As most mission-specific tools aren't counted as clothes, and clothing disappears from your regular inventory when "used" (becoming a permanent part of your available wardrobe), new players tend to get stuck on this distinction.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: Despite their predictive models allowing them a certain measure of precogntive ability, the Dragon are not omniscient and can be surprised on occasion, as some of their after-mission reports demonstrate.
    • This is also the case for the Buzzing, sometimes they cannot see certain things due to interference.
  • Not Using the Zed Word: The narrator of the Kingsmouth trailer invokes this trope by saying he's seen enough movies to know what to call them, but refuses to do so. Averted by Ann Radcliffe, whom after calling them "Condition 17s" pauses in her report to ask her superior, "Can't we just call them zombies, sir?"
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When one enters the vicinity of the Black House, all sound and music is muted, save for your own footsteps and a deep moan emanating from the bowels of the house. Needless to say, it is nerve racking.
  • Our Genies Are Different: Fire Jinns; quite apart from not living in lamps or granting wishes, they're a Proud Warrior Race of elemental spirits who utterly despise humanity- to the point that it got them banished from the world. They're not entirely malevolent as, up until fairly recently, love for their former home kept them from trying to take revenge, but as of the beginning of the game, this truce is over.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Spectres appear as enemies throughout the game in one form or another, either due to a particularly violent death, or due to being deliberately bound to a certain area. Most of them appear somewhat abstractly human, but all of them are tangible enough to be dangerous.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Squat, short-legged, long-armed, leathery-skinned humanoids with an affinity for graveyards in both Egypt and Transylvania. More often than not, they're working alongside something much more dangerous- either the Aten Cult, or the vampires.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Wampiry are predominantly human in appearance, and benefit from the usual boosts in strength and speed; however, most are little more than Mooks. Elders are much more difficult to deal with, in no small part due to the fact that they can easily escape from losing battles by transforming into bats. It's revealed that actually killing vampires is fairly simple, given that most of their traditional weaknesses were myths spread by vampires themselves: they have no apparent weakness to holy symbols- if Hasdatean's presence in the church is any evidence; most can be destroyed by gunfire or magic, and stakes are only required in the case of elders. Vulnerable to the sun as always, all Wampiry dress in skin-concealing coats and gas-masks- replacing the filters with straws to drink blood through. According to Hasdatean, it's also possible for vampire elders to return from being killed if allowed time for their ashes to reintegrate- though it's apparently a slow and agonizing process.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The ones in Kingsmouth come in two flavors. There are the expected Flesh-eaters made from the townsfolk, and the Draug: seemingly Revenants of ancient Native Americans and Vikings are behind the attacks. It doesn't help that being submerged in the sea for so long has made them visibly other than human.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The Templar are all about hierarchy, the Illuminati are Social Darwinists with a pyramidal scheme in mind, and the Dragon... believes in inciting chaos to force balance.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Morninglight movement seems to be part New Age self-help group and part doomsday Cult. Their name should ring alarm bells, and some of their members are definitely up to no good in Kingsmouth.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Carter. Already a magical prodigy, Montag's notes suggest that misapplication of her powers might result in "intense thermonuclear devastation." True to form, the Escort Mission isn't about keeping Carter safe: it's about keeping yourself protected when her powers go into overdrive.
  • Physical God: The Forest God, a wandering incarnation of the Transylvanian Forest; given said forest's current infestation by the Filth and other monsters, he spends his days drowning his sorrows at the local tavern.
  • Players Are Geniuses / Only Smart People May Pass: Investigation missions are built around solving puzzles, and frequently require you to do actual research using the in-game browser ... or just looking it up on GameFAQs. A quest might require the player to use in-game clues to find the entrance to a secret lair, then solve various logic puzzles, and then look up a particular reference to a classic Latin work to get the correct code. Another quest might have a segment where Morse code needs to be transcribed and translated to reveal map coordinates for where to go next..
    • Guide Dang It: Some of these puzzles are difficult more because of the obtuse user interface than the mental effort involved.
  • Prestige Class: Auxiliary Weapons function as this, showing up late in the game to add a small amount of specialized function to a character.
    • The game's "decks" also count, to some extent. While there are technically no classes in the game, players can unlock specialized "decks" by taking on specific abilities from the various disciplines; even going so far as to offer one for mastering them all.
    • The newly released "Augments" also count. They can add to and/or boost the effects of abilities. It's stated by the devs that they're more for those who have already obtained everything else in the game so far.
  • Plot Lock: You can't go anywhere besides your Faction Hub and Kingsmouth Town until you've completed certain parts of the central Story Mission.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Quite a few magical rituals used in the game or its backstory require particularly gruesome materials or conditions in order to work properly; given the Grey and Grey Morality at work in this game, quite a few of the perpetrators are still considered the player's allies.
    • For example, Innsmouth University is outfitted with magical power reserves that supply the Illuminati staff with additional mana- channelled from the magicians who'd been buried alive in the foundations, all of whom are still aware and conscious; in one mission, the player is given the task of sealing a few escapees back into the wards in order to prevent any further occult disasters.
    • Also from Innsmouth, the protective wards require sacrifices of Anima in their construction. Thankfully, due to the sheer number of feral familiars roaming the grounds, no morally-ambiguous deaths are required this time.
    • It's eventually revealed that the Atlantic Island Amusement Park was constructed as part of one of these, harvesting magical power from the deaths of workers and children alike, and infusing the energies into Nathaniel Winter- transforming him into the Boogeyman.
    • The Sentinels were created through one of these: with no other way to keep the Black Pharoah sealed inside his Pyramid, Ptahmose sacrificed his children and transferred their souls into seven giant statues designed to keep Akhenaten imprisoned for all time. For good measure, the youngest of the seven were under ten years old at the time.
  • Prophecy Twist: Kirsten Geary mentions that a prophecy pinpointed the exact time the Council of Venice would fall. That time came and went many years ago, and the Council is still around, but it is when the Council's decline into it's current near-irrelevancy began. The Bees, meanwhile, tell something very similar about predictions of the apocalypse. The morals in both cases are to always expect this trope when dealing with prophecy, and that an "end" is not necessarily an instantaneous thing.
  • Protection Mission: There are several 'Defend the Perimeter'-style missions in the first area alone, which serve to help the player cut their teeth on the game's familiar-yet-different mechanics.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Silviu Dimir; mildly retarded and deeply disturbed, he's the current butcher in the Dimir abbatoirs, and can only be controlled by the influence of his "mami," Olga.
  • Reference Overdosed: Almost every single feature of the setting is a reference to a famous (and sometimes not-so-famous) work of some kind. Geographical features, quest storylines, characters, the background of the setting, and so on. This ties into the notion that "everything is true" — famous pieces of fiction might unknowingly have been influenced by true events.
  • Repeatable Quests: Most (but not all) of the missions you can be assigned (or stumble upon) can be repeated... after a lengthy several-hour Cooldown. That's several hours in real-world time, mind you.
  • Respawn Point: 'Anima Wells', which collect your lost soul and allow you to either a) resurrect yourself at the well itself, or b) hike your ghostly butt all the way back to your corpse and revive it.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: The Agartha Stationmaster, who is probably far older than he appears to be. He makes frequent reference to the 'Great British Rail Service', mentions meeting "...that charming Amundsen fellow" and tells the story of the Queen visiting Agartha just after poor Albert died.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: The Illuminati are described as "Sex, Drugs and Rockefeller." Note, however, that all Illuminati must pull their own weight or be culled.
  • Red Shirt Army: Orochi Group taskforces. In almost every single quest area of the game, they're either cowering behind shields or being horribly murdered.
  • Scary Scarecrows: The more rural areas of the game feature enchanted scarecrows wandering the grounds of abandoned farms, often heavily armed with either shotguns, chainsaws, or magical talismans.
  • Sentient Vehicle: Anastasia's Wagon, a living compendium of knowledge in the form of an old caravan-style wagon. It communicates through long wooden groans that only Anastasia can translate.
  • Sequence Breaking: This is achieved by locking Agartha portals until you pass through them from the region they lead to. If you can get into an area without opening the Plot Lock and passing through Agartha (say, by co-opting the transportation network of the Krampus) you can unlock its portal ahead of time.
  • Shout-Out: Has it's own page.
  • The Siege: Most friendly NPCs in the quest areas of the game are near-permanently besieged by enemies, and more often than not, you're given the job of fighting off the next wave of attackers. This is particularly true of Solomon Island, where almost every quest giver is taking shelter in some kind of barricaded fortress with heavily-armed gunmen guarding the door- though the Illuminati and Morninglight NPCs have the advantage of magical wards that disintegrate enemies the moment they try to enter. The notable exceptions to this rule are Boone and Wolf, who are more than capable of defending themselves from the zombies.
  • Sigil Spam: For organizations that are supposed to keep themselves secret, the leading three certainly do like showing off their emblems. This is justified in several cases, though: for example, the Pyramid symbols on the floor at Innsmouth Academy are really part of the wards.
  • Silliness Switch: On the whole the game has a very serious and mature atmosphere, but just putting on any of the more ridiculous or absurd outfits can quickly kill the mood in cutscenes.
  • Social Darwinist:
    • The motto of the Illuminati is "do or get done"—i.e., "if you don't try to get to the top, you become a stepping stone."
    • The Dragon has elements of this, especially in regards to people who fail to adapt or fall to stagnation, making them social naturalists of a sort. In the aftermath of "Strange Boat House In The Mist," your Dragon contact refers to members of the Innsmouth Academy faculty who panicked and tried to run from the invading monsters, claiming that they deserved to die because they failed to adapt.
  • Soviet Superscience: The "Red Hand" program in Transylvania is comprised entirely of this, ranging from vampire super-soldiers to dimensional travel via "Phantom Cosmonauts". Thanks to demand for results over safety, most of them ended up going horribly wrong.
  • Spanner in the Works: Aside from the Dragon's Faction Ranking Missions. Bong Cha pretty much let's the player do whatever the hell they want within boundaries (ie. story and side missions in Solomon Island, Egypt, and Transyvania) while they closely observe and add new data to their models from the sideline. The player ends up foiling the plans of Beaumont, the Atenists, and the Vampire Mara without ever being told to do so by the Dragon. The Dragon essentially unleashed a Spanner into the area and what can be more chaotic than a Spanner in the Works?
  • Spoiler Title: Sidestories: "the Last Pagan" introduces Ricky Pagan, who charges the player to find the lost members of his Rockabilly gang or failing that return their leather jackets. Only two members of the Pagans have survived one is killed by an onryo when you find him, the other renounces the gang to join the Jingu Clan, leaving you to return all of the jackets and making Ricky the last Pagan.
  • Stab the Scorpion:
    • In the introduction to "Ripples," the nameless Vampire Hunter points a crossbow at the player... only to reveal that he was aiming at the vampire creeping up behind you.
    • The Iele does this in "The Wild Hunt": after spying on you from the treetops, she leaps down, gives every impression of being about to attack you, before neatly impaling the fungal monster just behind you.
  • Stable Time Loop: Implied in several places in the issue 6 storyline
    • Säid first asks you to travel back in time to recover the "ancile of Mars" from an Ancient Roman outpost. Your character goes back in time, replaces an ancile with a fake one, and goes back to Säid. The ancile your character brings is fake as well, implying that perhaps a bunch of your characters may have replaced all of them with fakes
    • When your character first looks for the ark in the dig site, you find the one there is broken, a shield surrounds the lo0cation, and the floor looks somewhat dirty. You than go back in time to the same location in Ancient Egypt to find a functioning ark. You replace a functioning ark with the broken one you had found in the future, setting off a trap that activates a shield, and burns the floor.
    • Before going back to Ancient Egypt, Säid gives you a scarab to ensure that you reach the correct time period. As you are about to travel back to the future, you meet a living Säid, and he steals this jewel from you.
  • Starfish Aliens: How the bees view humans; the lore has several instances of them mentioning human physiology as if discussing something thoroughly bizarre. They don't hold it against us.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Magic and melee weapons exist and can be used simultaneously, although the various weapons act more like foci for the player characters' Anima powers than anything.
  • Take That:
    • Right after meeting you, Richard Sonnac of the Templars does his best to assure you that they aren't The Knights Templar, and you haven't wandered into "some atrocious Dan Brown airport paperback."
    • If clicked on enough times, the Templar Guards will say: "Directions? Does it look like I'm giving bloody walking tours?"
  • Token Heroic Orc: Amir, the exiled Fire Jinn; a questgiver found in the City of the Sun God, he's about the only Jinn you meet that hasn't decided to wage war upon humanity. Though evidently disgusted by humans as the rest of the Jinn, he's opposed to the war of genocide most of his people seem to have declared against humanity, and in one mission he even assists you in killing off his former comrades.
    • The vampire general Hasdatean has betrayed the current generation of vampires to become a questgiver, and regards them as short-sighted psychopaths with no respect for the land that sheltered them. He's also willing to admit how much his kind need humans to survive, and sees no point in a wampiry nation: after all, how would such a country survive without humans?
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: The headquarters of the Orochi Group. It's where the Filth first appeared in the game. All three of the secret societies hint in their epilogues that they will be returning to Tokyo.
    • Averted by the Dragon, in that they have no permanent center and happen to be in Seoul at the moment. Notable because Britain Is Only London and Big Applesauce are used by the other two factions, but, originally, Tokyo was only a training scenario.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Kingsmouth, and by extension, most of Solomon Island. Most of the area's history following White settlement seems to be based on hastily-disguised conspiracies and scandals: the serial-killings that were actually comitted by Jack O'Lantern, the lynching of the innocent witch in the 1970s, and the regular deaths that occur at Innsmouth Academy.
  • Truce Zone: Inverted. The Council of Venice (a sort of Secret World analogue to the United Nations) specifically forbids opposing factions from engaging in armed conflict... except in specially-designated war-zones.
  • The Unmasqued World: Very nearly happens in the new Manhattan Exclusion Zone raid when a Eldritch Abomination starts trashing TIMES SQUARE! Alex McCall suggests blaming everthing on leaky gas pipes.
  • Urban Fantasy: Has elements of it, but players can only be human beings, and it's unknown what the extent of the demons' goals and intellects are. Signs point towards the demons having a sort of caste-based society of sorts, and they're at least intelligent enough to sabotage other demons' efforts.
  • Villains Out Shopping:
    • In the slums of London, one can find various assorted beasties, ranging from vampires, gnomes, and satyrs minding their own business, to a chupacabra manning a taco stall.
    • Abdel Doud of the Aten cult is often seen relaxing and drinking coffee — something his mysterious supplier gives him no end of grief for.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Refuse to side with them and the Dreamers, who start off speaking in a calm, caring manner, will quickly flip their shit.
    • Lilith when Emma refuses to leave Agartha with her at the end of Issue #7.
  • The Virus:
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • Elder Vampires can transform into bats, usually to escape battles they can't win.
    • Cucuvea is first introduced leading you towards her house in her owl form.
  • Voice of the Legion: Lilith does this as she's listing off sixteen of her seventeen names. It's actually more unsettling when she delivers her current name in a low whisper.
  • Was Once a Man: Almost every single creature the Player encounter on Solomon Island is either a Zombie or belongs into this category: The Draug (except for their leaders), the Wendigos, the Filth creatures, Jack O’Lantern and the Black Man.
  • Wendigo: One of the enemies found on Solomon Island; fairly traditional in terms of origins and modus operandi, they still look vaguely human, but they now crawl on all fours and most of them are much larger and stronger than any human being.
  • Wham Episode: Issue #7, appropriately enough. Your current companion turns out to be Lilith, the mother of just about every single monster you've encountered, and directly responsible for the Breach, Emma is Gaia's daughter, Anima, and the Filth has begun to infest Agartha.
    • Issue #5 brought us The Search for Tyler Freeborn, a character enigmatically referenced in the opening release. The developers implied this would be the first major storyline update. Shockingly, Freeborn's whereabouts aren't the issue, but what he found: every friendly NPC in Kingsmouth is infected with an airborne strain of The Filth, they just don't know yet.
    • Issue #10 where we delve into the backstory of the Tokyo bomber. We learn that the Morninglight and Lilith were colluding with each other and that originally the bomb was meant for the Orochi Tower. Related to this is the fact that at the end of Issue #10, John (the filth entity that was originally the bomber) decides to help the player by finding a way to open the gates to the Orochi Tower.
  • Wham Line:
    • During the aforementioned Issue #7 Wham Episode: "Can you guess my final name? Lilith."
    • Another one in Tokyo, as a psychic talks about the Filth trying to infect her: "Our wisdom flows so sweet...Did they ever say that to you?"
    • Whichever Black Signal lore entry you pick up first functions as one of these, since they all make it pretty obvious that they're written by the Black Signal AKA John who some players may know as the one that helped them get to Tokyo.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Who is the Boogeyman? Why, it's old man Winters, the guy who ran the haunted amusement park! Rendered almost entirely invisible, due to being an honestly frightening storyline.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Invoked by Lilith, who takes sadistic pleasure in making immortals regret their immortality.
    • There is also Octavian, who was made immortal at age eighty and feels it every day.
  • Wizarding School: Innsmouth Academy is a somewhat dark example funded and run by the Illuminati, teaching magical prodigies how to control and master their powers, grooming them for service to the Illuminati itself in the process. Unfortunately, by the time players arrive, most of the students and staff are dead except for the headmaster, his deputy, and the star pupil. For good measure, most of the enemies here are either the ghosts of the murdered faculty, or the students' home-made Familiars, having gone feral after the death of their owners.
  • Wolverine Claws: Even though the icon is brass knuckles, Fist Weapons are all variations on Wolverine Claws, including many abilities that provide Heal-over-Time effects to the wielder or allies.
  • World of Pun: While the game itself is serious, the world itself has a ridiculously large number of terrible jokes and puns in it. For instance:
    • The Red Guard enemy in the abandoned Soviet Facility dungeon has two attacks, which attack on the left and right respectively. Their names? Extreme Right and Leftist Element.
    • The second boss of the Darkness War dungeon has a buff called Blood for the Blood Dog, which he gains by sacrificing his allies.
    • Many enemies in the game are named in a jocular or humorous fashion; zombies on a national guard base are called Weekend Warriors.
    • A shotgun ability named 12 Gouge puts stacks of a debuff that lowers damage on enemies who are penetrated.
  • The Worm That Walks: Revenants can dissolve their bodies into swarms of rats and crows in order to escape combat, hence the reason why they've become associated with pestilence and plague. There is also the Fly Golem in "Lord of the Flies", which is pretty much what it sounds like.
  • "You're Not My Type": During the opening scene of "The High Cost of Dying" Säid says this almost word for word to the player.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Kingsmouth, the first quest area of the game, is undergoing a run-of-the-mill zombie apocalypse — at least at first glance. There is a lot more going on, but from the perspective of the survivors, most of the island dying and then returning to eat the survivors alive is the most immediate concern.

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alternative title(s): The Secret World
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