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Start Here! - For Readers - Member Resources
Written By: Ellen Million (Writer)
Some background basics and reading recommendations to get your feet wet at Torn World.

Basic World Premises

Torn World is a science fantasy, combining science fiction and high fantasy. It is set in an Earth-like, long-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.

The source civilization, the Ancients, was well advanced of ours, and is established as a powerful, globe-encompassing society that could manipulate 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.

The Upheaval is the violent result of the Ancients manipulating time to withdraw more energy from it than they put in, essentially trying to get 'something for nothing'. 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 'time shards' have gradually rejoined. You can read more about the Upheaval and Sundered Times in this article - particularly if you are registered as a creative contributor!

Click to view a version of this map with clickable links!

The Empire

In one of the isolated pockets of time, an aggressive, expansionist government formed an Empire (also called 'The South' in some places). 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 direct borders with un-assimilated people (yet!).

See also: The Empire article.

For a story about the unusual gender requirements and bureaucracy of the Empire, read Building a Home. For more about licensing, read Paper Butterflies, Only Paper and follow the links to the following two segments of this story. For a story highlighting the Empire's use of propaganda, read Say No To The Empire. For a classic Southern myth, enjoy Skycat and Woodpecker Make a Bet. Railrage will get you started on a darker story of intrigue and blackmail with a few of our primary characters.

The Snow-Unicorn Riders

In stark contrast to the sprawling Empire, far to the north, there is a small, isolated culture of people who herd huge, shaggy unicorns. They live a communal life in a cold, hard land, keeping a close eye on the strange, deadly phenomena that courses through their sky: Others.

More information has been collected about these semi-nomadic people here.

Stories that highlight their style of life include Fala the Leader and Beads and Memories. Everberries will give you a look at the age-sets that define their community, and take you on an illustrated autumn harvest. Dying to Do will start you on a tragic northern storyline that several of our writers have worked on.

World Features

Time Crystals are rare and extremely valuable remnants of the fallen time barriers. They are somewhat like natural magnets, only they affect time fields rather than magnetic fields. They are extensively used to manipulate time by the Empire.

For stories featuring time crystals, read The Repairman, or Believing.

Others are a byproduct of both the Upheaval and the mining process of time crystals. They are fortunately only common in the upper atmosphere of Torn World, but they can be driven by 'Otherweather' to lower altitudes, where they are deadly to any living thing and destructive to most materials. The merest brush causes violent insanity. The northerners are familiar with these mobile tears of space-time and know how to battle them, but the southerners cannot see them at all, and can only observe the damage they cause.

Our Story

The underlying story of Torn World is currently unfolding as the inevitable collision of these two very disparate groups of people is starting to take place!

Southern explorers have just made it into the north, and their harrowing journey begins with this collection!

How to Browse

If you'd like to read stories in chronological order, feel free to use the timeline to navigate. Links from each story will take you to the next story on the overall timeline, (though it may be a very different story, by a different author, set in a different area of Torn World!) or to the next story within a collection.

You'll meet lots of interesting characters, and can find out more about them on the character pages, or you can click on the character links for each person at the top of a story. Every canon story that a character appears in is listed on their character page, as well as every piece of artwork.

If at any time, you find yourself with questions about the setting, you can search and explore our extensive background database, or follow the links from stories and artwork to related articles!

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 are also invited to join as a supporter (or subscriber) and give our contributing members financial incentive to keep creating. Your support, with karma, comments or credits, will ensure that they keep writing about the characters and places you find most interesting. Supporters get access to extra material at the site, as well as many other perks!

You are even encouraged to join as a contributor and create your own work in our world!

Keeping Current with Torn World

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, by RSS, or sign up for major email updates. If you have particular authors or artists you'd like to get updates for, you can sign up to 'watch' them! Log in and view the creators page to customize your personal watch alerts.

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[Concept and Site Design: Ellen Million | Website basecode: Ron Swartzendruber]
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