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So, you're sitting there, on the opposite side of the Great Internet Box from Torn World, and you're thinking to yourself, "This might be for me..." You sort of like the idea of shared world, maybe you've even worked in one before. But how would you get started? Torn World can look downright overwhelming from that side of the keyboard! We've got a lot to see and read and it can be challenging to figure out where to start dipping your toes in.
The Most Important Part
Torn World is a shared world, and we're really enthused about sharing it with you. Your participation here should be fun, inspiring and immersive. Enjoy what we offer, and get excited! Pick a level of participation that is comfortable for you, and be sure to let us know if there is anything we can do to make things better.
How our World is Shared
Publicly, many stories are available without an account. You can register as a reader and gain the ability to comment and access a few more bits - including non-canon material and things that are filtered for sex or violence. But that's still just the tip of the iceberg! The real meat of our world is available only to our creative contributors - setting details and forum discussions that build the whys and wherefores of the unique features of our world, and keep continuity and inspiration flowing. If you find yourself wondering why? and what if?, please consider joining as a contributor.
Please note that "contributors" are the creative driving force of our site, providing stories, artwork, crafts, poetry and ideas. Contributor accounts are free. "Supporters" are members that provide monetary support and gain access to special reserved stories and artwork. They allow our writers and artists to use Torn World as a source of income so that they can afford to invest the time to make Torn World material of professional quality.
We have a unique system of karma and credits which rewards all participants in the project and allows paying supporters of the site to see that their funds go to the authors and artists who make their participation most enjoyable.
For more details about all levels of membership, please visit the membership page.
Much of our discussion and decision-making occurs at the forum. There is a search function at the forums, to simplify finding a specific topic you may be interested in, but also feel free to ask! There is a lot buried about the boards and folks who've been involved in these conversations are helpful in remembering 'oh, we talked about this once... here's what we decided!' Most in-detail discussions are available only to contributors, but we also have areas for casual readers and general announcements.
Basic World Premises
Torn World combines Science Fiction and Science Fantasy. It is set in a near-Earth, distant-post-apocalyptic world with slightly tweaked temporal behavior - although we observe general rules of physics (there is no 'magic!'), time itself fluctuates and can be manipulated, with fascinating and far-reaching affects.
Our source civilization, the Ancients, was well advanced of ours, and is established as a powerful, globe-encompassing society that could manipulated time and genetics with ease. In-story, very little is known about them or the destruction they caused by pulling the energy of their world out of balance. Many of the following documents, which explain what happens 'behind the curtain', are reserved for contributors only; we want to maintain some mystique regarding the gritty mathematics and logic exercises we go through to explain and preserve overall continuity.
The Upheaval is the violent result of the Ancients manipulating time to withdraw energy that doesn't exist. In our current story time, this event is regarded as near-mythological; the destruction was so encompassing that it reduced almost all survivors to primitive and desperate times. Further, it 'tore' the world, sundering the surface of the globe into discrete pockets of differently-flowing time. For centuries, these pockets were isolated and self-sustained, and very different climates and people developed in each of them. Over time, these pockets have gradually rejoined.
For some conversations about about the Upheaval and the odd time entities, you'll want to read the following articles (they all contain some public information, and some information reserved for contributors!):
The Upheaval This article includes information about why and 'when' it happened, as well as how some of the cultures remember it.
Time Crystals Rare and extremely valuable remnants of the time barriers, time crystals are somewhat like natural magnets, only they affect time fields rather than magnetic fields. They are extensively used to manipulate time by the Empire.
Others A far less desirable effect of the Upheaval and the temporal destruction, Others are non-physical, floating disruptions in space-time. They are violently destructive to living things and will cause incurable insanity, if not instant death.
In one of the isolated pockets of time, an aggressive, expansionist government formed an Empire. As the 'time shards' began to reform into a single world and 'time barriers' between them started to dissipate, this Empire took immediate advantage over newly discovered neighbors. They assimilated every new culture that they discovered, either by force, by persuasion, or by subtle, invasive means.
Over time, absorbing the best (and sometimes the worst!) of the cultures they encountered, the Empire became an enormous, technologically and scientifically forward-thinking society. It has undergone dozens of cultural reforms, and considers itself progressive in terms of gender, race and religious tolerance and educational opportunity for all. It sprawls to most of the known corners of the world, and no longer has any borders with un-assimilated people.
See also: The Empire.
The Snow-Unicorn Riders
In stark contrast to the sprawling Empire, in the North, there is a small, isolated culture of people who herd huge, shaggy unicorns.
More information has been collected about them here and there are many extensive conversations at the forum regarding their traditions and unusual family structure. The article on creating a Northern Character also has a great deal of detail on the culture.
Our story is currently unfolding the inevitable collide of these two disparate groups of people. Right now, we're introducing you to both independently, but it's no secret that the two are going to meet, and several 'future' stories are already available that hint at some of the unexpected differences they have, and the problems and potential rewards we might expect from their meeting.
So... where do you start?
The best place to start is to read the published canon stories and poetry, and browse the art gallery. If you'd like to read stories in chronological order, use the timeline to navigate. Note that our future stories do not show up here, yet! As you read and browse through, you are encouraged to register as a reader and leave comments on the work - and don't worry about not being 'up to speed' - it can be very useful to a writer to get a fresh opinion on a piece from eyes that are new to Torn World. (And you'll earn karma for commenting!)
You'll meet lots of interesting characters, and can find out more about them on the character pages. You'll note that there are a lot of adoptable characters, and many of them have interesting backstories that are only barely hinted at, as well as a lot of potential for fascinating future interactions. This is a great place to get started as a contributor. Once you've left some comments and said hello in the forums, you'll start to get enough karma to adopt a character. (You also can get an immediate free adoption by subscribing to the site as a supporter!) You do not need to be a contributor to adopt a character!
If at any time, you find yourself with questions about the setting, you can search and explore our extensive background database. Most articles have parts for the public or registered readers, as well as special 'behind the curtain' bits for contributors.
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All Related Articles:
Checklist for Artists: Guidelines for visual artists that outline a few of the major dos and don'ts of drawing for Torn World.
Fiction and Poetry Submissions: This article covers the details and mechanics of submitting fiction and poetry to the Torn World site.