|“||This stuff doesn't think. It's a cancer. Cancer doesn't know you're coming, it just is.||„|
|~ Alex McCall|
The Filth is one of the central antagonists in The Secret World, a living disease that has its roots in the darkest of conspiracies and whose very existence is felt across the entirety of the game world - it is the single most prolific and dangerous "monster" humanity faces in The Secret World universe and is beyond the understanding of most humans.
Fought in numerous incarnations by multiple agents the Filth continues to play a major role in-universe and is best described as a malevolent, otherworldly cancer that is eating away at reality and replacing it with its own.
SourcesThe Filth is the result of tears in reality. It is caused by eldritch creatures only known as The Dreamers, Titanic monstrosities of primordial destruction. The Dreamers are so called because they are dreaming, kept asleep by Gaia, the life force of the cosmos. Though The Dreamers sleep they maintain a rudimentary awareness of their situation and constantly fight to be freed from their sleep, though they are unable their efforts rip and tear at reality and through those tears seeps The Filth. Just as Gaia's magical empowerment is known as anima, the Filth is described as "anti-anima". The Filth is not a disease it is a symptom. The truth is The Dreamers are the source of it but only half control it. The Filth exists because of The Dreamers and their cause permeates within it but it does not specifically follow their will, it destroys and corrupts aspects of Gaia because doing so is in it's nature, however that nature, is moving to it's logical conclusion, the destruction of reality and the forces that keep The Dreamers asleep. The small tears in reality manifest all over the world in places either long forgotten or touched by destruction. From those tears the Filth leaks out and poisons an area. The Filth does not devour an area all at once it builds up and gestates in the isolated corners of an area until it can fully germinate. Once it does then it's signs become obvious.
Basic CharacteristicsThe Filth seeps into an area and infects it, affecting land, minerals and lifeforms and even magical creatures and objects. Once a creature is infected it starts to develop darker inclinations which go on to become neurotic tendencies and steadily grow until the creature appears insane; During the final stage of the infection a creature's entire identity is consumed and they appears as violent creatures that share a hive-minded insanity. Once victims of the Filth reach it's final stages they appear with black splotches and twisting tendrils. Victims may infect others by their merest touch as they are little more than an extension of the disease at that point. Though creatures infected with The Filth only become obvious monsters in the final stage of the infection and can fight to retain control until then the end stage is unavoidable. If even one of The Filth manifests naturally in an area it means the infection has been seeping into the area for some time and everyone native to the area will turn as well. The Filth not only affects living creatures and areas but can corrupt magic, inanimate objects, dead bodies, undead bodies and even spirits. Spirits who did not die as part of The Filth may still be restored if the source of the infection is stopped but there appears to be no cure for any of it's other victims.
- Filthy Humans- The most common type of The Filth seen in The Secret World is human victims. They will babble randomly in hi-pitched voices as if they are unaware of where or even who they are even while attacking.
- Filthy Zombies- A few zombies amidst the undead hoards of the fog, have been touched by The Filth and transformed into truck-sized hulks, similar to the humans the creatures are entirely black and covered in writhing tendrils. The creatures are much stronger and tougher than the average zombies and unlike the human victims have no minds to give even a shadow of humanity.
- Shades- Shades are manifestations of pure Filth. These are people the Filth originally covered whose bodies have long since rotted away with the Filth itself still maintaining their basic shape. Shades don't appear to be insane like Filthy humans and are more feral than Filthy zombies. The creatures hunt on all fours but still have a vaguely human shape.
- Dwellers- Dwellers are giant Shades. The creatures are the shades that have acculuated so much Filth that they no longer even maintain their orginal form like Shades. The creatures roam swamps and pits filled with Filth. Dwellers not only are capable of transmitting the substance by touch but can even do so by thought. Dwellers psychically project Filth into the minds of nearby animals, consuming them from the inside-out. Creatures overtaken by the Dwellers' call go completely mad long before outer signs of the Filth have time to manifest.
- Filthy Agartha- Agartha is a pocket dimension used for transport between areas and even worlds in The Secret World, Agartha grows several trees which literally branch from one portal to another, allowing players to walk on them. The trees are a manifestation of life and magic but even they are not immune to The Filth, the lower levels of some of the trees of Agartha spill over with The Filth and it slowly germinates within them. This means if unstopped The Filth will slowly infect the multi-verse.
- Billy's Muse- Billy's Muse is the Dweller that inspired the artist/poet/hippie, Billy Lee, to go on a massacre that claimed the lives of nearly every member of his artist's commune. Billy came from a well off family, but rejected his life during the hippie boom of the 1960s. In 1966 Billy Lee went on a seemingly unprovoked killing spree, claiming the lives of more than two dozen people whom he had considered extended family. What the authorities didn't know was Billy had already been infected by a Dweller lurking out in the Moon Marsh, to the south of his commune's manor. The particularly potent Dweller, now simply called "Billy's Muse", roams the swamp continuing to search for creatures to drive insane as the Filth from it's calls overtakes their brains and rots them out with pure manifested insanity.
- The Hound of Corruption- In the mission Dreamcatcher for Old Joseph, a Native American tradition keeper for the Wabanaki tribe, finds that spirits of Wabanaki ancestors are being corrupted by The Filth, he will ask the player to help him purify the spirits both wandering the dream-scape and the afterlife. Once the rites are completed the player will travel to the spirit world and face numerous corrupted ancestors of the Wabanaki tribe until they make their way to the source of the infection, The Hound of Corruption. The Hound of Corruption will be trying to infect further spirits with The Filth. The creature is fast strong and appears to have no original body, implying it is The Filth incarnate. Joseph states that destroying the hound and the spirits infected will allow the spirits to re-manifest as their true selves.
- Dr. Klein- It is no secret that the Orochi group has been experimenting with the Filth, however their lead researcher Dr. Klein is evidence of just how dangerous a game they are playing. Dr. Klein was a scientist charged by Orochi with finding out the origins of the Ankh, temple in Egypt, which appeared to be saturated in Filth. As part of his research Klein eventually started injecting himself with The Filth until he built up a tolerance for it. The tolerance soon turned into a dependency and Klein became quite literally consumed by his work. Before long Klein called in for more Orochi troops and started using his own co-workers as carriers for The Filth. Unlike normal Filthy humans, Klein appears to maintain his mind, he can still speak, anticipate and reason just as easily as he did back when he was fully human. Klein can even control other Filth infected creatures as if he were directly in control of them, however Klein's spirit has been warped completely by the substance. Originally the Ankh was assumed to be some form of temple that The Filth infected, but Klein states it was actually made for the Filth and that it is less a temple than a factory. Klein sees The Filth as a culmination of his research and has accelerated it's spread and mutation to the point where he views himself as an avatar of The Filth. Klein has no higher goal now than to see to it The Filth spreads over the globe.
- The Unutterable Lurker- A massive coalescence of Filth beneath the streets of New York. The creature has been gestating for a long time. The Illuminati have placed wards beneath the streets of New York which were made to prevent such an outbreak from ever occurring. It is is currently a mystery how such wards broke, as they were specifically designed to deal with the Filth on this scale. Either some form of sabotage was at play or the Filth has actually gotten stronger. Whatever the case, The Unutterable Lurker is the manifestation of The Dreamers' will. It is their avatar acting directly for them. By all accounts it had no original body and is 100% pure Filth manifested. It is a rallying call for The Dreamers' attack on reality and unlike most other Filth it is not a mindless by-product of their dreams, but one cooked up specifically to ravage Gaia. The creature attracts and spawns all forms of Filth to it's location during the raid mission, Cross Roads of the World. The Illuminati attempts to spirit out as many civilians as possible. The civilians, those not affected by the Filth believe it is some sort of terrorist attack or a mass gas leak causing delusions. The US military lines up to hold back the beast, but only succeed in slowing the outbreak by getting civilians to safety, their attempts to actually fight it, only see them becoming part of the Unutterable Lurkers' insane thralls. The Lurker has strength to match it's titanic size and hits from it's fists will automatically kill any player who does not avoid the telegraphed attack. It's tentacles spew Filth to any who are not immediately near it and it routinely sends it's tendrils beneath ground to ensnare any and all who would fight it by tunneling bellow them and then imprisoning them in it's toxic pods. When hurt it radiates a field of Filth to keep it's foes away while it summons all manner of other Filth to ravage the attackers. Each of it's waves radiate through the city and any civilians who did not find cover are turned to enslaved hosts brought forward by the creature's waves as if a distress call-to-arms to rush the attackers all at once. When slain, The Magicians purify the ground with energy from Gaia to prevent it from spreading and allow some form of recovery for the area. It however does not restore those lost to it's calls. It's victims are not merely dead but in perpetual torment in whatever oblivion the Lurker itself now occupies.
- Bird of the Zero Point Pathogen- Agartha, the cross walks between the world, built and maintained by Gaia is not above the reach of The Filth. In the deepest parts of Agartha, The Filth devours it from the inside. The source of this infection is The Bird of the Zero Point Pathogen. The Bird has no original body, it is Filth incarnate. More feral than the Unutterable Lurker, yet more focused than regular Filth, The Bird of the Zero Point Pathogen has made it it's mission to destroy Agartha by building itself a nest in the inner reaches of the tree of life to slowly rot it from the inside out. The area is subject to massive Filth outbreaks that are toxic to Secret Worlders. The Bird vomits and anally expels Filth effortlessly, making it a walking/flying bio-hazard. It manifest a Dweller from it's nest and a spider like Filth to aid it against any who would fight it. It can re-manifest the creatures endlessly after a small break for the Filth in the nest to re- coalesce. With a cry it calls victims of the Filth from bygone eras called Hosts of Nergal's Rot. The Hosts are normal, all be it very strong, Filthy Humans. As there are no humans in Agartha the Hosts are likely the souls of those taken by The Filth, still in agonized thrall even after their deaths. As the creature is more hurt, it dive-bombs the platform the players will fight it on more and more. It radiates the Filth and will continue to do so til it is destroyed. Destroying the Bird of the Zero Point Pathogen stops the further infection of Agartha. Presumably once Gaia has time to manifest enough energy the remnants of the area will be purified entirely.
The Filth has few to no anathemas but the ones it does have are notable.
Old Joseph of the Wabanaki Tribe of New England, knows ancient rites passed down through the tribe to keep the Filth away from them. Until recently the rest of the tribe, Joseph included, believed the rites were just some old set of prayers and and superstitions passed down. The Wabanaki honored them only out of fealty to their ancestors and not because they actually thought they did anything. The tribe now see that their rites obviously have some merit as they were kept safe from the Filth, never the less they still lost friends and neighbors not protected by the tribe. Joseph states the people are dead, or at least he hopes they are and that if the things that returned have any minds or souls, that that is a new kind of hell he does not even want to imagine.
The academy of Innsmouth, a school covertly sending students with paranormal potential to the Illuminati upon graduation, has in it numerous wards that hold the Filth back and prevent it from overtaking them. The outer-wards were destroyed by Freddy Beaumont, however the inner ones held. And while the grounds are plagued by the homunculi created by the students, who have broken loose without anyone to control them, the Filth itself can not touch the grounds. Headmaster Hayden Montag is infected by the Filth but holds back the final stages with a combination of will-power and magical wards to keep it in check. If Montag knows of his infection it is likely the main reason he never left school grounds and obsessively checks the wards.
It seems Filth can be countered by the pure will of ghosts, the Franklin Manor, formally the residence rented out to Billy Lee and his ilk before the rampage and overlooking the Moon Marsh home to Dwellers and Filthy Humans, is curiously unaffected by what should be ravaging it. The difference between the Manor currently and it's past when numerous deaths occurred as a result of Filth is indeed the deaths themselves. The ghosts of the victims still haunt the house. The current owner, Eleanor Franklin, wife of Ed Franklin, who took his own life after striking Filth, is completely shielded from the Filth pit just yards away. Eleanor owns 13 cats and none of the creatures are affected either. Eleanor gets along well with her ghosts and respects them as previous owners and residents with as much claim to the house as her, as a result the ghosts are adamant about not letting anything happen to Eleanor or her pets. Even Ed Franklin's ghost roams the halls of the Manor watching over his wife. Whatever ability ghosts have, whether it is their mere presence or an active ability, it appears ghosts actually can fortify an area even otherwise predisposed to Filth from being overtaken by it's corruption.
The blade Excalibur, famously wielded by King Arthur, was, before Arthur, actually the sword of Odin. A contention of The Secret World is that Gods, were humans from a previous age, blessed by Gaia and reaching a technological level so advanced that such technology is likened unto divine power. The blade is not magical, or at least was not to Odin, to Odin, the blade was a man-made piece of technology. Odin and his kind have died out with the passing of the ages at least one apocalypse ago, however remnants of that age still pop-up in bits and pieces, among them the blade Excalibur. The sword was lost at sea and is eventually stolen by Freddy Beaumont from a vault in Innsmouth after being fished out. The sword was made to destroy The Filth and exorcise areas and souls corrupted by it. The sword is the only thing shown to actively be able to cure Filth, though those overtaken by it are still dead, if exorcised. Because of the unique nature of the sword, the history it holds and the potential to manipulate The Filth, all parties who know of it are in a mad dash to retrieve it.
Gaia's Energy itself is the only thing that can actually dissipate The Filth. However it takes much energy to do anything. Both avatars of Gaia and the Filth claim the other hurts them. While The Filth can take and hold even an area rich with Gaia's energy like, Agartha, if it weakens Gaia can overtake and cleanse it. The larger the manifestations of Filth the more time Gaia needs to gather the energy to remove the corruption on the area once the creatures have been slain. With the right shamans or wards acting as anchors for Gaia, The Filth can be purified entirely. It is up to the Secret Worlders, blessed by Gaia to fight off such beasts to give Gaia a chance to retake the polluted area.