The Puzzlebox is an arbitrarily large, arbitrarily old, arbitrarily weird corner of space, or subspace, or non-space. Specifics tend to be difficult to nail down about it, it's that sort of place. It might reasonably be called a transhumanist megastructure, and indeed there are records of such a place going by such a name, but not all the details match up. The Puzzlebox of record seems to have largely been a pleasant galactic subdivision, well-kept but staid. The Puzzlebox that most folks seem to have direct experience with is something altogether messier. It's possible that this place was once part of that larger whole, there is evidence of an event that may have caused all sorts of topological and mereological confusion.
Despite its oddities, the Puzzlebox has all the conveniences of any good transhuman habitat: no one need die or go homeless or hungry, but life there is far from simple. It's divided up into districts, the Warps, and each one has slightly different rules of reality from each other (and the rest of the universe), supporting their own idiosyncratic ways of life.
There are six districts in total, three pairs, each named after a flavor of quark. Each warp seems to be as big as it needs to be, but rumors persist of borders between them, the particular reality of one warp bleeding into another in the far reaches. After the the Fracturing, travel between warps became difficult and rare, but not unheard-of; and recently it seems to be increasingly common.
There are countless ways to divide and characterize the six warps, the following list simply uses the masses of the corresponding quarks to provide an ordering.
- Downwarp - A cyberpunkish urban ruin homesteaded by tribes of artists and mystics.
- Upwarp - A clinical technocratic society devoted to humanistic science and rationalism.
- Strangewarp - A twisted mirror-image of an elegant city, turned inside-out by all those things that most folks would rather not think about.
- Charmwarp - A fantasyland of bright colors, whimsical creatures, and exuberant ambition.
- Bottomwarp - An endless street festival where shame (and clothing) are virtually unknown, and where kinky behavior and hippie-ish values predominate.
- Topwarp - An aristocratic land of palaces and estates, whose inhabitants are devoted to craftsbeingship and personal development.
Life in the Puzzlebox
Regardless of the specifics of various local realities, the Puzzlebox provides a number of conveniences. There's the Backup System, which constantly scans inhabitants' bodies and minds and, if they suffer fatal physical damage, restores them intact at a nearby safe location. There's also the Instantiator, which allows inhabitants to create simple objects, including anything needed for sustenance and shelter, with only a thought. Finally, there's the Consent Maintenance System, which seems to prevent (or at least mitigate) anything happening to someone that they don't (by some definition) 'want'.
- From an out-of-character perspective, this all basically means that MUCK rules are physical laws there; you can't die (unless you want to), you can make whatever you want (as long as you spend the mental effort), and usually you're the one who determines what happens to you (via your own poses).
These make physical combat essentially superfluous (or at least clearly recreational), but that doesn't make the Puzzlebox free of conflict entirely. Instead, the way that Puzzlebox inhabitants contend is through memetics and propaganda, what is sometimes called 'artwar'. Over Puzzlebox's long history, factions have formed, along ideological and aesthetic lines, and they're always vying with each other to win converts and influence. New inhabitants are particuarly prized; convincing someone from somewhere else that your way of life is the right one brings with it a lot of prestige.
This is a necessarily incomplete list; factions form and fragment constantly, and there's plenty of disagreement even within factions as to who belongs and who doesn't.
- Architects of the Future†
- Chitin Queens†
- Fever Cathedral†
- Strange Medical Corps
† (pre-Fracturing archival information)
- An archived copy of the Puzzlebox MUCK wiki as of July 26, 2005 is available here.
- Room descriptions for a majority of the muck are currently being recovered, and will be added here when they are available.