What the heck is Torn World?
This question comes in two parts: in our world, and in their world. Part two, I will address in very gory detail starting tomorrow, but the 'in game' or 'in character' answer is that it's a vast, complicated fantasy/science fiction world with fanciful creatures and slight steampunk overtones.
At the real world end, it is a creative collaborative site for artists, writers and creative types of any sort to work on a shared continuity. We have a common shared world with extensive writer resources, a common timeline, and a database of characters and features to draw from for our own independent material.
Membership comes in many different sizes.
You don't have to register at all, and you can still enjoy the site - there will be some public stories, a limited supply of recent artwork, and you can browse through some of the character information.
Free registered readers get access to the archives of artwork, any stories filtered for adult content, and can read the non-canon material published on the site. (This material may counter our continuity, or simply not be of sufficient quality to be voted into canon.)
Contributor members have access to all of this material, our extensive Torn World wiki and extra areas of the forums where they can help with world-building brainstorming and they have forms to submit their own artwork and stories. Contributors retain all creative rights to their material! They can reprint them for free, or for profit, anywhere that they like. Torn World gets archive rights only - these stories may become part of our continuity, and we ask that we be able to share them with members of our site. Contributors may choose to have their work printed for supporters only, however!
Supporters are members of the site who are contributing financially. They pay to get access to extra work available only to them. But the money they put into the site doesn't stay in the site managment - they get most of their subscription funds back in 'credits,' which they can pledge to any contributor. Credits are actual, factual cash, which the contributor can withdraw at any time their balance is over $10.
In addition to the real-money credits, there is a second site currency called karma. All contributors to the site receive karma for their submissions, for promoting the project, for creating characters, for commenting on work and for being part of the site managment. Karma can be redeemed for character privileges, supporter access, discounts on merchandise, and you can give your karma away to someone else to show your appreciation. It’s an awesome way to give kudos when you don’t have any cash to spare.
(There is a lot more detail about membership, credit, karma, canon and lots of other things on the webpage: http://tornworld.net )
Now recruiting contributors!
After 12-odd years of development, 9 months of beta-testing and a lot of nail-gnawing work, the site is going into phase one of its public launch: recruiting contributors.
If Torn World were just me, it would probably get really boring. While I do have fifty-odd stories in various stages of finished, they are just a tiny, tiny part of the interweaving story that begs to be told.
Your obligations as a contributor are minor: you are expected to log into the site once a year. (Though, you will not be listed publicly on the site as a contributor until you have actually submitted something accepted for publication on the site.)
Your potential is limitless. If you want to join as a contributor and just lurk, that’s fine, but you may also find yourself inspired by the setting - as a whole, or by one tiny aspect of our very detailed background material - the world has been deliberately set up to support a number of isolated ecosystems and a vast array of backculture. If you’ve wanted to get involved in a world-building exercise, but didn’t have the staying power for an entire world of your own, you’ll find plenty of opportunity to get involved with the building blocks of Torn World. Unlike most work created in someone else’s sandbox, this isn’t ‘fanfiction.’ It has all the ease and inspiration of fanfiction, but you keep your rights.
You will also have the opportunity at this time to get involved as part of the management: our continuity board will be selected from active members during phase 1 of this launch. The countinuity board will be in charge of choosing which work is canon and which is not, and will keep order in the community.
In January of 2010, the site will start posting new work publicly.
You are invited to join us!
Tomorrow I will start posting details about the world itself... these posts will be public for 1 day, then put behind a contributor’s-only filter. They will be cross-posted to the Torn World forums for posterity.
ETA: We also have a twitter: http://twitter.com/Torn_World