In this fandom, a shared world (also called a shared setting, shared universe, or shared Dariaverse) is a Dariaverse setting that is used in common by two or more authors as the background for their fanfics. A collection of stories that all take place in the same shared setting is usually called an anthology, but this term is rarely seen in this fandom.
A shared world owned by an entity that retains all rights to stories-for-hire written for it is sometimes called a sharecropped world (such as Star Trek and Star Wars novels), but this concept has no relevance to fanfiction. With fanfiction, no money is exchanged for stories written and all works are created purely for personal amusement. (See Legal issues with fanworks.)
Technically speaking, the canon Dariaverse is a shared world, as many writers have generated stories meant to be fitted effortlessly somewhere among the Daria TV episodes. Here, however, the focus is on original alternate universe settings that diverge from the familiar locations and situations of the show.
There are many things that a shared-world anthology is not. It is not a round robin, nor one or more sequels written by various authors to a story written by a separate author, nor is it a group of Dariaverse crossovers. It is important also to distinguish it from shared characters, as the setting is not itself a person.
The key element for the success of any shared world is a "bible" (small "b") of material outlining the basics and specifics of the series: where it takes place, what differences exist between this world and the canon Dariaverse, which characters can be used, what rules and guidelines should be considered, and so on. Of late, shared-Dariaverse bibles (or links to the same) appear on DariaWiki, usually under the heading of the series itself. PPMB threads in the Creative Writing and Easel forums also contain considerable "biblical" material for certain shared-world projects.
Shared worlds in fiction writing have been around in modern times since at least 1866, when Charles Dickens created and edited the first fantasy anthology, Mugby Junction. (Other non-fantasy examples predate this by a few years, being British Christmas annuals doubling as fiction anthologies.) Famous examples of present-day shared worlds used by multiple authors include Star Trek, Doctor Who, Thieves' World, Conan, Witch World, Darkover, Cthulhu Mythos, Man-Kzin Wars, Dragonlance, Wild Cards, and Star Wars.
So far as can be told, the very first original shared world for Daria was the offbeat comedy series, Abruptly Amy, coordinated by Kara Wild and contributed to by numerous authors and artists. Abruptly Amy was highly successful and ran through the year 2000, with a few additions coming later.
More recently, three major shared worlds have taken hold in this fandom.
- Legion of Lawndale Heroes became the second known shared world in 2007, when Brother Grimace continued the superhero series begun two years earlier by Roentgen. About a half-dozen authors now contribute stories to the collective anthology. The main link to the Legion on DariaWiki contains most of the series bible, though for a long time the only bible consisted of Roentgen's stories themselves. This series has developed a number of side anthologies: Legion of Lawndale Heroes Minis (one-shot "mini-episode" short stories), LLH: Daylight (the events of the Daylight shared-world series as experienced by the Legionnaires), and Legion of Lawndale Heroes: Alternate Future (a Tiffany-centric series by Psychotol).
- Tales of the Ringbearers took a different route. Whereas the Legion of Lawndale Heroes shared world began with a very extensive body of work already in existence, Tales of the Ringbearers jumped off from a brief section in one of Doggieboy's science-fiction tales ("A Little Vacation," from January 2008), then spread in all directions from there. At least eight writers have now contributed to this shared world. Important parts of this series's bible appear in DariaWiki under Ringbearers and Defender Rings. PPMB threads of interest include "Ringbearer Discussion" and "Rings, Ringbearers, & Visualizing Same." A second side anthology has appeared: Origins of the Ringbearers (how the Ringbearers got their start).
- Daylight is the only active shared world that sprang from a plot-line bible and not from a previously written story. Across a number of Dariaverses, the Sun becomes violently eruptive and severely damages human civilization. Writers were each encouraged to pick out their favorite Dariaverse (or create a new one) and follow the events outline in the story bible. Many Daylight stories are crossovers with the other two shared-world settings.
There have been unsuccessful launches of shared worlds, too. Lovestruck Alien Teenage Invaders from Mars attempted takeoff in November 2008 but gained only brief attention.
Future Daria shared worlds should be built easily on the shoulders of their predecessors. All that is required is the creation and posting of a series bible, followed by invitations to other writers to join the fun. As noted, shared worlds can build from an established series, a single story, or just the bible itself without a previous story being written.
- Daria: Hunter, a Dariaverse created by Jim North. It is a science-fiction reinvention of the original series, featuring futuristic settings that are often stylishly smooth and clean, horrifically grim and gritty, or some combination of both. In other words, it's like modern day but with more ray guns. Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane work as bounty hunters for Tom Sloane, owner and bail bondsman of Slow Loan Bail Bonds. During the course of their duties, they face threats both mundane and unusual. Other people known from the primary Daria universe also exist here, leading lives in a world of advanced technology and an unstable geopolitical environment. The series bible can be found on the PPMB.
- Shining Star, a dystopian science-fiction setting created in March 2010, in which a nearby supernova creates disaster and havoc on Earth. The series bible has its own webpage.
- Lawndale's Finest, a superhero series by NightGoblyn, became a shared world in March 2010 when Jim North began writing for it.
- The Judith Conflict, a shared-world series created by Erin Mills in May 2010 and anchored by the shared-world trilogy of 'Judith Strikes!', 'Worldburner' and 'Worldhopper'. To date, several authors have contributed ideals or fics to this world, which has (at its core) the ability for inclusion of characters across the entirety of the Daria Multiverse. Worldhopper is exclusively written by Erin but is tied in to the previous two, open-to-all series.
- The "punkverse", a shared world between Brian Taylor and Charles RB, was created in August 2010. A sliding timescale has Helen and Jake as 80s punks instead of 60s hippies (and remaining punks in 2010), and Amy as a young sci-fi/fortean fangirl with an obsession with filming everything (who works for Sick, Sad World in the present day).
- Invertedverse, is the name of a shared universe created by Shiva from a short scene that should not be in which the personalities of the characters in the Dariaverse are inverted, ie Daria is obsessed with fashion and popularity, Quinn is a misanthrope, etc, and along with a completely inverted cast.
- No Gas! is a shared-world series created in July 2012 by DeacBlue, which evolved from an Iron Chef of the same name. The series focuses on how Lawndale residents deal with the consequences of an incident that severely curtails the global amounts of fossil fuels (primarily gasoline).
- LongSnakeMoan's Of All The People That Won't Be Missed (inspired by the film Natural Born Killers, with Jane Lane and Todd Ianuzzi as expies of Juliette Lewis and Woody Harrelson's characters in that film) has also inspired several other writers to contribute their works, thus making this a shared-world series.
- Clute, John, and John Grant. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. London: Orbit, 1997. “Shared World,” page 859.
- Clute, John, and Peter Nicholls. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. London: Orbit, 1994. “Sharecrop,” page 1091, and “Shared World,” page 1092.
- Shared universe entry on Wikipedia