Three Ways to Survive in a Ruined World (often simply shortened to Ways of Survival in ORV or TWSA in the webtoon and alternatively translated as Three Ways to Survive the Apocalypse) is a webnovel written by the author tls123 that exists in the universe of Omniscient Reader's Viewpoint. It focuses on the journey of protagonist Yoo Joonghyuk as he faces the end of the world, and how he must regress in time over and over again in order to reach the end of the "scenarios", deadly challenges posed to those in the universe of Ways of Survival.

The original novel began from Yoo Joonghyuk's third regression. The completed version, save for the epilogue, consisted of 3,149 chapters, posted near daily over the span of 13 years. While the novel had a large following in its initial stages, the reader count dropped over the course of successive chapters, until eventually only a lone reader followed the story to its conclusion.

Setting

<Star Stream> system—the <Star Stream> broadcasting was designed to relay its contents to the entire universe. The subscribers were constellations at the top of the distant galaxies, the actors were humans like me, and the storyteller that connected the two sides was the dokkaebi before me.

Kim Dokja, Chapter 13

The <Star Stream>

Ways of Survival is set on a modern-day Earth which is newly governed by the <Star Stream>, a system in which individuals must overcome challenges and create their own narratives for the enjoyment of other beings. The <Star Stream> is implied to exist on many planets across the universe, as Earth is referred to as "planetary system 8612" by the <Star Stream> system messages.

Scenarios

See also: Scenario

Individuals in the <Star Stream> face challenges called scenarios. These act as obstacles which must be overcome in order to progress towards the end of the scenarios, posing deadly challenges which generally require individuals to kill/defeat someone or something. These scenarios are divided into:

  • main scenarios, which progress the main flow of the overall scenarios
  • sub scenarios for smaller goals within/between main scenarios
  • hidden scenarios which can be activated and undertaken under specific conditions
  • bounty scenarios, activated at the request of those watching the scenario, setting a bounty on completing a specific minor goal or defeating one single enemy (who is not the enemy of the main scenario, but instead someone disliked by the viewers).

Scenario participants

A number of entities exist in the <Star Stream>, most of whom participate in the scenario.

Incarnations

See also: Incarnation

Individuals initially begin the scenarios as incarnations; these are generally viewed as the lower or less powerful of the two types of scenario participants. They rely on the sponsorship of the constellations in order to progress and become stronger.

Constellations

See also: Constellation

Constellations are essentially ascended incarnations, the more powerful of the two scenario participants. They are generally much, much more powerful than regular Incarnations, being able to exert pressure on others by releasing their Status. They view the journeys of incarnations through the streaming channels of the <Star Stream>, often treating them like a gameshow and being entertained by particularly exciting or emotional displays from the Incarnations. Constellations are able to form sponsor contracts with incarnations that they favor, guiding them and lending them the Constellation’s own powers. While they are still participating in the scenarios, they are generally much further ahead of the scenario curve than most Incarnations, spending the time between their larger-scale scenarios watching streaming channels for fun.

Constellations are ranked by strength and power, as follows:

  • Historical figure grade / Historical-grade (lowest ranked; has previously been referred to as upper-grade and great-grade)
  • Narrative grade (also known as Fable grade)
  • Myth grade (highest ranked)

A constellation’s rank is decided based on their power levels, generally determined by their Stories.

Stories

The <Star Stream> is a system which is similar to a streaming service, displaying the flashy and entertaining stories of Incarnations' struggles to overcome the scenarios as entertainment for the constellations. Legendary mythical figures like Hercules have stories told of times they accomplished a particularly impressive task (like defeating the Hydra) or gained a unique skill. Similarly, when an incarnation or constellation accomplishes a particularly impressive task or gains a unique role/skill, a Story (or Fable) based around the incident is created and attributed to their name (or to the person whose name the individual is using at the time). A Story can help boost the incarnation/constellation's performance, should a situation arise which is similar to the origin of the Story in question. For instance, Kim Dokja's Story 'King of a Kingless World' allows him to exert influence on any being who doesn't have any 'King'-related Stories or roles.

Stories are graded on a series of ranks, with more powerful Stories arising from more dramatic and exaggerated incidents. The ranking system is approximately as follows:

  • History grade (lowest ranked)
  • Legendary grade
  • Quasi-myth / Semi-myth grade
  • Myth grade
  • Giant Story (highest ranked, and significantly more powerful than any other type of story)

In order for an incarnation to become a constellation, they must have five Stories of at least legendary-grade to their name, in addition to not having a sponsor contract with another constellation. Should an incarnation already have at least five legendary-grade Stories, and then break their sponsor contract, they will most likely become a constellation themselves.

Coins

See also: Coin

The currency of the <Star Stream> is coins. They can be transferred between incarnations. However, the most common coin transactions are made by constellations, who can sponsor coins to incarnations they watch on the channels of the <Star Stream>. Constellations with sponsor contracts are expected to supply coins to their sponsored incarnations as well. Coins are extremely valuable in the <Star Stream>, as they are used to upgrade stats for both incarnations and constellations. They can also be used to purchase items from the Dokkaebi Bag.

Dokkaebis

See also: Dokkaebi

Dokkaebis are the facilitators of the <Star Stream> channels, on which constellations can watch and cheer on incarnations. Their name comes from legendary creatures from Korean mythology. Dokkaebis are creatures born from the <Star Stream> that live for the Stories created by incarnations and constellations; each of them creates a channel when born, generally named in the format #AB-1234 where "AB" is any two letters (often the first two letters of the dokkaebi's name) and "1234" is any set of digits. Constellations can tune in to these channels in order to watch incarnations. The more constellations watching on a certain dokkaebi's channel, the more powerful the dokkaebi in question becomes. They are ranked as follows:

  • Lower-grade / Lesser-grade (lowest rank)
  • Intermediate
  • Semi-advanced
  • Senior / Higher-grade
  • Great Dokkaebis (highest rank for normal dokkaebis)
  • The Dokkaebi King (unique)

Dokkaebis have a very particular organization about them in order to best facilitate the channels and gain the constellations' favor. They work in local branches governed by the Executive Bureau, ensuring that all aspects of a scenario are being streamed on a channel for any curious constellation viewers. Some of the dokkaebis who work in the Executive Branch are in fact ex-constellations themselves.

The Dokkaebi King is a position held by the strongest of dokkaebis; he is also referred to as the "Story King", as he runs the channels in which Stories are created and told. He is present at the end of the scenarios.

In addition to managing channels, dokkaebis have a few other concepts and facilities they manage. One such facility is the Dokkaebi Bag, which acts as the scenario equivalent of an in-game store. Incarnations and constellations alike can buy items on the Dokkaebi Bag, as well as sell them through the Exchange feature.

Probability

Dokkaebis also manage a concept that governs the world of <Star Stream>, known as probability. Probability ensures that stories acted out in the <Star Stream> do not constantly employ deus ex machinas, and that incarnations/constellations don't execute actions that aren't plausible or reasonable given their current Stories, skills, and abilities. In any given scenario, there are certain levels of power that are plausibly achievable by current standards; any incarnation that displays a power exceeding this limit begins to strain the probability or plausibility of the scenario. Consistently overreaching probability limits can cause a probability storm to hit the individual who has expended too much probability.

By nature of being more powerful and having stronger Stories, constellations have greater probability allowances than most incarnations do. Nonetheless, even a constellation can use up their probability and be struck by a probability storm. As keepers of the <Star Stream>, dokkaebis can manipulate the sparks of probability in order to entrap or strike a constellation or incarnation.

Nebulas

See also: Nebula

In order to protect allies from probability storms and in order to more efficiently share resources, groups called nebulas can be created. Nebulas are named with arrow brackets enclosing their name (for instance, <Eden>, <Olympus>, or the <Underworld>) and normally consist of a number of constellations, although incarnations can also make up their numbers. Nebulas generally contain constellations/incarnations coming from a similar region, party, or series of myths. They are beneficial in many ways to participating members, as beings within a nebula can share probability, coins, and aid each other in scenarios.

Demons and Demon Kings

See also: Demon

Constellations, incarnations, and dokkaebis are not the only beings present in the world of Ways of Survival. When a constellation becomes corrupted, generally through rejection of their central theme or through a scenario, they become Demon Kings. Other beings, such as incarnations, can also become corrupted to become Demons. There are 72 pre-existing Demon Kings in Ways of Survival, including Agares, Asmodeus, and more; these names appear to have been taken from the Ars Goetia.

Outer Gods

See also: Outer God

Yet more beings exist in the world of Ways of Survival. Beings called outer gods or gods of another world exist outside the scope of the scenarios, and can gain access to the main world through a portal called the "Great Hole"/"Great Hall". The outer gods are heavily based on Lovecraftian lore, and consist of beings such as the Eater of Dreams, the Nameless Mist, the Living Flame, and the Great Plotter.

SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor

SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor was a novel written by Han Sooyoung. It consisted of a plot, setting, and characters that were extremely similar to that of Ways of Survival; for instance, its protagonist was named Yoo Joonhyun (only two letters off from Yoo Joonghyuk). This led Kim Dokja to accuse its author of plagiarism; however, due to how SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor's writing style was significantly better than Ways of Survival's, the former had a significantly larger fanbase, and therefore Kim Dokja was not able to pursue the issue, being shouted down by the Infinite Regressor fandom.

When questioned, Han Sooyoung claimed to have never actually read Ways of Survival, rendering the plagiarism accusations null. Instead, she alleged that she got the idea for her novel from her dreams. However, it is possible that one of her Avatar clones received the memories of reading Ways of Survival, and then was killed, destroying said memories. It is also possible that one of her clones may have been able to communicate the memories of the scenarios back in time to her past self, giving her the original idea for SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor.

Synopsis

Ways of Survival and Kim Dokja

At the start of Omniscient Reader's Viewpoint, Ways of Survival has finally ended, and in a conversation with Kim Dokja, tls123 declares that the novel has won an unspecified competition. They also inform him that the epilogue is yet to arrive, and that the novel itself will become monetized shortly. When the stated deadline for monetization arrives, the premise of Ways of Survival becomes real in Kim Dokja's world, going so far as to start from Yoo Joonghyuk's third regression. The online version of Ways of Survival is taken down at the same time.

Shortly after, Kim Dokja receives a .txt file on his phone containing the full text version of the novel. He uses this text file as a reference to strategize and take action as the scenarios progress. No matter what phone or device he uses, the .txt file is automatically downloaded onto it, implying that it is linked to Kim Dokja himself rather than any specific device of his.

Later on, as Kim Dokja's impact on the progression of Ways of Survival grows stronger and stronger, he begins to receive revised versions of the text which start from Yoo Joonghyuk's fourth regression rather than his third one. In them, Yoo Joonghyuk frequently references an incident in the third round in which things went wrong—an incident which, for Kim Dokja, is still in the future—and often speaks about his memories of "that guy", implied to be Kim Dokja himself. These revisions serve as warnings to Kim Dokja, outlining what happens if he continues on his current path of action, and giving subtle tips on how to improve the outcome of the future through Yoo Joonghyuk's introspection.

Readers who got off

Ways of Survival originally had a large following in its initial chapters, with around 12000 people reading the first chapter. However, as the chapter count increased and its "subpar" writing style became obvious, readers began to "get off" i.e. stop reading it. There were 120 views for the 10th chapter, 12 for the 50th, and only 1 view on the 100th chapter.[1]

These early readers were later at something of an advantage when the scenarios began, as they had vague memories of the premise of the novel. Each of the readers who got off gained the exclusive attribute [### to get off], marking them with their position in the rankings of the readers.

The readers who got off initially banded together, working to surpass the scenarios as a single party. However, the last 10 readers to get off—or at least, the last 9 readers to get off, and Han Sooyoung, since she never read Ways of Survival—created their own separate team, calling themselves the Apostles.

References

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