Once upon a time, there was a wasteland teeming with deadly monsters and dark magic. The only thing stopping the wasteland’s evil forces from escaping was a magical wall maintained by five kingdoms. But as war brewed, the wall began to crumble.

What happens next? That’s for you to decide.

At least, that was the initial plan for “Realms of Ruin,” a collaborative storytelling project helmed by former Facebook executive Julie Zhuo and a team of best-selling young adult (YA) fantasy and science-fiction authors. Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Ransom Riggs, Adam Silvera, David Yoon and Nicola Yoon were all signed on.

The established authors involved in the project planned to kick-start the story with origin lore and 12 character backstories, and then hand over the reins to the “Realms of Ruin” community for dreaming up new characters and story lines within the universe.

Built on the Solana blockchain, fans could mint their stories as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), buy and trade character art NFTs and talk with one another on Discord about the universe they were building. The authors would, according to an archived version of the project’s now-defunct website, “be reading closely to decide which stories and characters are compelling enough to become canon.”

Essentially author-approved fan fiction for the Web 3 age, “Realms of Ruin” seemed exciting and ambitious – some even described it as inevitable – until a teaser for the project launched on Twitter and Instagram on…

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