Before glory, there was struggle. Before empire, there was sacrifice. Before Metamor City, there was Metamor Keep.

In 1998 Kevin “Copernicus” Deenihan wrote a story called “Metamor Keep“, which he published on the mailing list for the Transformation Story Archive. Like many writers on the TSA-Talk list, Copernicus wanted to encourage cooperative storytelling, so he created a world setting and opened his virtual sandbox for other authors to play.

After Copernicus’s initial story, many authors joined forces to bring the world of Metamor Keep to life. Under the alias “Raven Blackmane“, Metamor City creator Chris Lester was part of this first generation of storytellers. Chris created the map of Galendor (expanding an earlier regional map developed by author Winc) and sketched out its rough geographical features and place names, which other writers would later breathe life into with stories of their own. Chris also created the Lothanasi (Lightbringer) religious order and its pantheon of gods and daedra; together with the Ecclesia, introduced primarily by the prolific and highly popular author Charles Matthias, these elements set the stage for the religious struggles that would define much of the geopolitical world of Metamor Keep.

On October 24, 1998, Copernicus stepped down from control of the world he had created, entrusting to Christian O’Kane the role of universe coordinator. A few weeks after stepping down, he had this to say about other authors expanding on Metamor Keep with derivative works of their own:

First off- anyone can write anything they darn well please. Metamor Keep can be blown up, burned to crisp, changed into Barney’s playground, or whatever. … However, only stories that conform to the rules set forth in the Guidelines will be allowed into the Universe as canon. Canonical status means that the story is de facto official, and will be archived and put into the timeline as such. It is polite for other authors to conform potential stories to the canonical stories that have been posted.

If, for whatever reason, the story doesn’t conform to the rules, for reasons either of physics violations or violation of other people’s characters and timelines, it will be declared non-canonical. The story has no effect on MK timeline or characters, and stands alone as a story that uses a variant on the MK setting.

The world of Metamor City is one such variant of the Metamor Keep setting; it is not the “official” canon future of Metamor Keep, and was never intended to be. But the genetic heritage of Metamor Keep runs deep in the veins of Metamor City, and the City owes a great deal to the authors of the Keep who came before it — just as the City’s inhabitants owe a great deal to the Keepers who fought to secure their freedom.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the world of Metamor Keep is its longevity: Most of the TSA’s shared story universes fizzled or fell into inactivity after a short time, but Metamor Keep continues to attract new writers and new readers after more than 14 years. It is a living example of the vibrant, chaotic creativity of Internet-based collaborative storytelling, and all of us at The Metamor City Podcast hope it will continue to be for many years to come.