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The Secret World Column: Illuminating the Illuminati

By William Murphy on October 06, 2011

I wonder if the real Illuminati are getting worried about Ragnar and Funcom spilling the beans.

The idea, for those unaware, behind the Illuminati (or Bavarian Illuminati) is that they mastermind and control events via government, organizations, and corporations to create and establish a ‘New World Order’ of sorts.  There are people who devote their entire lives to proving this groups existence, and really there is a lot of historical truth to the Illuminati rumors/myth/conspiracy. 

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The Bavarian Illuminati, used as the model for what we all refer to in pop culture and in The Secret World, were created on May 1st of 1776 by a group of five whose goal was thought to be an offshoot of the Freemasons.  The Illuminati's members took a vow of secrecy and pledged obedience to their superiors. Members were divided into three main classes, each with several degrees, and many Illuminati chapters drew membership from existing Masonic lodges.  But in 1777, when a new ruler (Karl Theodor) took over Bavaria, he banned all forms of secret societies and that was the ‘end’ of the Illuminati in that incarnation.

However, over the years the myth and allure of this once powerful organization remained strong.  There have been several ‘heirs’ to the original Bavarian group and they all use the name “Illuminati” in founding their own rites.  Conspiracy theorists have long claimed that many notable figures across entertainment and politics and business are members of the Illuminati.  They claim the original Bavarian sect never died out.  And many of the Presidents of the US are often declared to be in that group. Some notable theorists even linked events from Waterloo to the French Revolution and even JFK’s assassination were all organized by the Illuminati. But heck, if Gerald Ford was one, he should win an Oscar for playing it all off as Homer Simpson.

Anyway, that’s enough of a background on the group.  What I like about these guys in Funcom’s The Secret World is their reliance on technology and decision to “thrust out the old guard” by force.  If I was being true to my RP roots, I’d be aiming at the Templar.  I love the idea of this noble order protecting the old ways and tradition… even if they are religious zealots.  But for the purpose of The Secret World, I think I’m more in tune with the Illuminati.  Sure they’re money/power/fame-grubbing egotistical hounds, but they’re the only ones who seem to get that they can use all mankind has developed over time to fight back against these ancient forces.  They may be a little insane in terms of how far they’re willing to push the moral code (Read: they want to re-write it for everyone, though I assume they don’t mean to make murder the coolest thing since the watoosi). 

What about you? Let’s here who you plan on fighting for when The Secret World launches in 2012, and why. Will you be a part of the Illuminati, helping to establish a new world order in a world rife with chaos, or will you harness that chaos as a Dragon? Or maybe you’ll just subjugate us all with your faith as a member of the Templar?

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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