The game does a good job with it’S horror but I feel like a little understanding of the Secret World lore helps understanding what horrors you are up against.
Some spoilers ahead, you have been warned:
The Orochi group:
The Orochi Groups, mostly shortened to Orochi, is the unification of 8 diffrent sudivisions founded 1949 by Samael Chandra in Tokyo. The divisions lead the field in there respective areas. The 3 I could find mentioned ingame are Manticore, Plethron and Vali. When playing Secret World you encounter them anywhere in some form and they are a ruthless and efficent adversary. They however have a habit of not valuing human resources survival and as such got lots of jokes for it in the SWL community.
They are determined, clever, practically infinitly rich and full of secrets, in secrets, in secrets that way to often include the filth.
I will be quoting the SWL lore here directly as it defines Manticores powerbase pretty well “A multinational aerospace manufacturer, global security, and advanced technology company, Manticore develops weapons and defence equipment, satellites, and rockets. Their civilian tech subsidiary builds passenger jets, engines, and turbines.” Throughout the game you drive, fly, interact with a lot of manticore stuff and in some cases manticore products try bashing your head in.
“Closely tied to Váli, Plethron is an agricultural biotechnology company. It uses genetic research to advance farming and pesticides in order to massively increase crop yield, particularly in the third world.” I think one figures out pretty easy that they are the ones spearheading the botany and everything connected to it. You can spot there name on fertiliser but very likely they or Zagan, another Orochi subdivision, who dominated packaged food, are even responsible for the food you eat and the coffee you drink early on ingame.
“A world leader in genetics, DNA research, and biotechnology, Váli produces pharmaceutical drugs that have helped millions overcome disease.”
One of the companies I only spotted once but found is still worth mentioning. You see them in combination with a chemical. They probably have a cure for everything except maybe the filth, which is a special case.
Later ingame you encounter robot parts and see drones. These aren’T really a near future deviation from the SW lore but something they worked with 50 years ago already. In SWL Orochi drones are cyborgs more than robots, diffrence being that one is a machine the other is flesh incased/combined with machine. While the MoM version does look 100% robot it isn’t unlikely that they might bleed. They are a testiment to Orochis and Samaels will to do anything for the goal.
While he looks human Samuel Chandra, real name Samael, is an angel, one with less being adoreable and more being clever, old and pretty powerful in it’S own right. He probaby is the second most powerful being you encounter ingame right after the dreamers and would have no qualms atomizing your character if you get in the way.
In the game there will be multiple references to Antarctica. And at this point we know something happened there that involves a Gaia engine getting taken from their by orochi. Here is one of the rare cases were the lore of TSW and SWL have diffrent parts of the puzzle seperatly. In both we know that a gaia engine was taken from there and “something” left behind. The original The Secret World (TSW) had the Manufactory dungeons were you went down into the depths of the Orochi tower using the Gaia engine smuggled from Antarctica to cleanse Tokyo of the Filth. These dungeons are currently not in Secret World Legends. Secret World Legends however has a mention again of it in South africa that something concerning the Secret world factions happened in Antarctica which we missed.
“The bad guys”:
The dreamers are lovecraftian horrors cranked up to eleven. The birth cthulhu like creatures and all the horrors in the game by sheer will while being deep asleep. The events of MoM boil down to: This is what happens when you stirr their sleep, if they would awake reality would be a lost cause. As such the gaia engines are hard at work to contain them and have very limited ability to push the reset button on reality. We are the “Fourth Age” meaning they had to reset three times already and every time they function a little worse bringing one closer to irrepairable.
The dreamers aren’t as much our enemies as and ant to a human and dreamers devour reality on the size of stars and even galaxies until the universe would be dark.
The Filth might seem like a pathogen but is more the manifestation of the dreamers sleeping thoughts dripping through the cracks. They are more an insidious idea poisoning the mind making you act how the dreamer wishes manifested in physical form by potency, some enemies are creatures out of pure filth and as such dreams of dreamers.
Despite not being a classic infection it still can spread from person to person and has a practical 100% infection rate on contact, maybe slow at first but definite. As such everyone we meet ingame probably already had there clock ticking once they saw the filth.
I combined those two as they are directly connected and so far only so one mention in the game. The morninglight is a religious sect&cult, founded by Lilith, Samuel Chandras wife, and headed by Philipp Marquard that is based on an ancient “sun” cult worshipping the Dreamers.
In SWL Marquard plays a crucial role on the downfall of Tokyo with a failed assasination attempt on Lilith and is the main antagonist of South africa and will probably be so in Congo too if that ever gets developed for Secret World Legends.
“The good guys”:
The immaculate machines can mean two things that are closely connected: Gaia and the gaia engines. With gaia being the supervisor of gaia engines. Gaia engines act as both containment for dreamers and filthers for filth being the most effective defense against the dreamers going to town with reality itself. They look like cubes but act on higher dimensions and are so far advanced that one could say they are basically magic.
Anima is essentially a lifeforce, something gaia breaths into the world and agartha is overflowing with. On the other hand for the dreamer it is a snack they crave for.
Agartha, the world tree, comes up a little, is the seat of gaia and origin source of anima. It is outside linear time and allows to travel time and space. Not everyone can travel agartha and it takes a certain touch by gaia to not be torn apart by the forces at work in there but it also is relative safe. As such it is extremly scary that the dreamer can’t only reach agartha but devour it to death if awaken.
Hope this introduction to parts of the secret world lore help grasping Moons of madness. Please be aware that as I am only a simple human it can be that minor discrepancies with lore could have slipped past me but I tried to be as close to the truth as I can manage. If someone can point me to such a slip up (with source…makes validating stuff easier) please pm me and I look into fixing it here, else I wish everyone lots of fun with Moons of madness and can only recommend Secret World legends if you ever want to dive deeper into the lore. It is free and avaidable on steam&stand alone.