4 Conspiracies We’d Like to See in The Secret World
Ever since the first trailer for The Secret World proclaimed that “Everything Is True,” we’ve been wondering: what might that “everything” include? Released yesterday, July 3rd, the game weaves together a wide variety of different story threads — conspiracies, myths, legends, and the like — but even a giant MMORPG has to draw the line somewhere. We already know about some things that made the cut — Knights Templar, the Illuminati, H.P. Lovecraft, Zombies — but the entirety won’t be uncovered until players have had time to really explore the game.
With that in mind, below follows a list of the conspiracies, unsolved mysteries, and other ephemera that we hope make an appearance in the game at some point. The entries are presented in no particular order. Feel free to add your own in the comments!
4. The Philadelphia Experiment
The free-wheeling technological arms race that was World War II produced all sorts of strange tales, but few have endured like the story of the Philadelphia Experiment. According to believers, in 1943, the U.S Navy attempted to make the destroyer the U.S.S. Eldridge invisible by using specialized devices that would “bend” light around the vessel.
As legend has it, the experiment worked — the vessel disappeared in a “greenish fog” — but produced strange side effects: crew members complained of nausea and, more disturbingly, emerged from the ship’s temporary period of invisibility with limbs and other body parts embedded in the hull. The second time the experiment was performed, it is claimed that the ship actually teleported from the Philadephia Naval Yard to Norfolk, VA and the back again.
There’s not a lot of hard evidence to support these claims, but that hasn’t deterred the conspiracy theorists. The image of some poor ensign with his hand inside a bulkhead is certainly uncanny. It’s unlikely that The Secret World would include a “haunted, time-travelling, WWII-era warship” dungeon, but that’s not to say it shouldn’t!
3. Solomonic Gold
Created by sci-fi author Neal Stephenson (who recently Kickstarted a video game of his own), Solomonic Gold is a rare, mysterious substance that has all the properties of gold except that it’s slightly heavier, and possibly magical. This is has big implications for the 17th- and 18th-century scientists, economists, and alchemists of Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle (including Isaac Newton and Gottfried Liebniz), as well as the characters in his tome Cryptonomicon, who discover the gold in the 20th century in a completely different guise.
It’s likely that The Secret World will touch on alchemy in at least some way, most likely through the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone, an object which enables alchemists to turn base metals into gold. If Ragnar Tornquist and the Secret World writing staff decide to get fancy, however, they could toss in a reference or two to an alchemical substance that has an important fictional effect on human politics and history.
From the 1930′s to 1987, New York’s Staten Island was the site of the Willowbrook State School, a sprawling hospital for the mentally handicapped. Originally designed to house 4,000 people, the population soon swelled to 6,000, most victims of unimaginable treatment. Clad in rags and mired in their own feces, patients were subject to physical and sexual abuse by the staff, as well as recurring outbreaks of hepatitis, including one which was left largely untreated by doctors in order to test the effects of an experimental drug.
Though eventually shut down, Willowbrook’s disturbing reputation lingered, thanks in part to a series of child disappearances on Staten Island in the 70′s and 80′s. In 1989, prosecutors charged former Willowbrook employee Andre Rand (who had been living among the institution’s abandoned outbuildings) with the murders of four pre-teen girls. In 2009, documentary filmmakers Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman released Cropsey, which examines the history of Willowbrook and the details of the Rand case, tying both to the legend of “Cropsey,” Staten Island’s own version of the boogeyman. If The Secret World wants to combine terrifying fact with terrifying fiction, New York’s oft-overlooked fifth borough might be a good place to start.
1. Bohemian Grove
It’s the classic conspiracy theory: powerful men colluding to run the world. Founded in the 1870′s in San Francisco, the Bohemian Club eventually grew to include industrialits, bankers, politicians, and other potentates, who gathered every summer in the Bohemian Grove. Once there, they would indulge in strange behavior, stage strange plays, and perform even stranger pseudo-pagan ceremonies.
Surviving into the 20th century, the Grove continued to attract powerful, politically conservative Americans, including Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon (pictured above). Though members insist it’s all in fun, there are those that think that the Grove’s members gather every year to dictate world events and increase their power by performing sinister rituals with names like the “Cremation of Care.”
Mixing as it does the supernatural with the political, the Bohemian Grove seems perfectly suited for The Secret World’s subject matter — maybe even as a outpost for one of the game’s three factions. After all, if there’s anything an MMORPG needs, it’s Republican lawmakers performing plays in drag!