Chaos Theory: A guide to TSW's Christmas Conspiracies event

Silver bells, Krampus and Hel,
It's Christmas time in
The Secret World
Ring a ling, hear them scream,
Soon you will see a Christmas play!

Ahh, it's the holidays. A time when other games pull out the stops on cute and cuddly, flinging festive colors and joviality about like Christmas confetti to make a joyous celebration. Then you have The Secret World. In TSW, the season is dark, twisted, and fiendish; nightmares are brought to life, and conspiracies worm their ways throughout even the most revered of traditions. And we wouldn't have it any other way!

I always wonder how on earth the devs are going to top themselves each new event, and this season's Christmas Conspiracies definitely does not disappoint! From the story to the puzzles, this mission chain fits right in. It even incorporated my favorite new element introduced this year -- music -- and literally makes you play for your reward. Want to experience it? You've got until January 5th to thwart the conspiracy and collect all the treasure you can. (Of course, even if you have done the two previous Christmas' events, you'll want to do them again just to get the special goodie bags!)

Here's a not-quite-a-guide to help nudge you through. As always, I won't offer a direct step-by-step walkthrough but instead will just drop hints (in italics) to help you along. That said, here's your warning: There will be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk! If, however, you want even more spoilers, watch Massively TV tonight, December 25th, at 9:00 p.m. for a Stream Team walkthrough special.

Music is so much more than just ambiance. From fan compositions to sidestories to the latest Halloween event, Funcom has focused on making music more integral. I love this direction! And Christmas Conspiracies is all about the music. It starts with an invitation to attend a performance to "The Magic Flute" at the Albion Theatre. Who doesn't love Mozart? Of course, in true TSW style, the Phoenicians have to come and spoil the evening. Let me offer this bit of advice: Don't take your seat with a strict heal build if you are alone.

The best part of this event for me was the chance to play music. Yes, in order to advance you have to play the flute. Repeatedly. In fact that's pretty much the entirety of the mission. The trick is you have to know what to play, and for that you have to use some reasoning skills to solve the musical puzzles. Puzzles and music -- can it get any better? For those who are not fans of puzzles, however, I'll offer this hint: All you need to know is given you in the mission or is in front of you. You don't need obscure knowledge or to research anything.

I really liked how the entire mission was tied together this way, instead of having multiple elements taking your attention and distracting you. This is actually pretty helpful because, as a good friend said, it's as if each step is actually preparing you for the next one. "I felt like I was being trained" were his exact words. So here is another hint: Each step builds on the one before it, so don't dismiss your previous solutions as irrelevant!

It's not much of a revelation that this mission involves searching for the tomb of Saint Nicholas; after all, Funcom announced it as such. But I am not going to tell you why! That you get to read and learn on your own. There's plenty else to share.

Before continuing, I'm going to offer a standard bit of advice. You know how I advocate for keeping notes as you play through missions? Well, it really comes in handy this time around. It's even handier if you just happen to write a couple of them down near each other. So if you don't have pencil and paper nearby, get it. Trust me. My biggest frustration when I was stumped was solved thanks to the physical notes I could review.

I'll also let you know that you won't have to worry about any other combat until you reach the sepulcher, so don't worry about that. However, that does not mean you can't die! In fact, if you die during one of the trials, you actually miss out on an achievement. Luckily, you can earn it on your next run through after the 18-hour cooldown timer expires. Keep an eye out on your debuff bar for some important information throughout the trials; you can't just heal yourself out of any trouble.

Now, this next bit might be more hint than you are willing to take, so skip on down to the next section if you want. If you read it anyway, don't blame me for the spoilers! As this is TSW, you already know to watch for patterns, so technically that's not really a hint. But you should also watch where you step. As in chess, positioning is important to keep your wits and your life. Additionally, those who have entered Toyko will get to see a familiar face again; those who haven't worked that far in the storyline, however, won't recognize her.

As with any event, there's a new set of lore that tells a bit more of the story. This time around the lore is fairly condensed and easy to collect, except for the parts that don't look like lore! If you are running out of time and need to collect all the pieces to The Manna of Saint Nicholas, here's a quick guide:

  • #1 -- Albion Theatre, second floor

  • #2 -- Albion Theatre, backstage

  • #3 -- Sunken Library, east wall (near hole with water)

  • #4 -- Sunken Library, book (no visible piece, must click on book)

  • #5 -- Tunnels, entrance

  • #6 -- Tunnels, final room

As much fun as I had with this event (even with the few frustrations), there are actually a couple things that earn it a few lumps of coal. First and foremost is the flute! After the beatbox and the radio, I am highly disappointed that I did not get the flute to keep after the quest. I was really looking forward to whipping mine out at other times of the year to play a melody or two. I seriously hope this gets rectified sometime. Don't tease me with an awesome new toy and then take it away!

The second lump didn't actually affect me personally, but it really hit home because of a friend of mine. Without spoiling it too much, let's just say that folks who have any colorblindness are at a serious disadvantage when working this puzzle out.

The third situation's lump-worthiness depends on your point of view. While I personally really appreciate a new way to use my collection of bonus points, some folks who don't sub or don't buy points aren't fond of the fact that a special dance emote is granted only for buying a party pack of goodies from the item store to give away to others.

Since the entire event is centered around music, it is only fitting that we end with the full version of our very own Chaos Theory Christmas carol:

Solomon Island, Tokyo's Kaidan
Littered with bodies a while
In the air
There's a smell
this Christmas
Children laughing (maniacally)
People passing (out)
Fleeing mile after mile
And on ev'ry street corner you'll hear

Silver bells, Krampus and Hel,
It's Christmas time in
The Secret World
Ring a ling, hear them scream,
Soon you will see a Christmas play!

Strings of musicians
Even Phoenicians
Pooled in blood red you'll see
As the questers rush
out for their treasures

Hear the bones crunch
Follow your next hunch
Solve another puzzle song
And beyond the next door
You'll hear

Silver bells, Krampus and Hel,
It's Christmas time in
The Secret World
Ring a ling, hear them scream,
Soon you will see a Christmas play!

Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ on Thursdays as she infiltrates The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to and she'll jump on the case!