Three Ways to Survive in a Ruined World (2024)

This article is about the webnovel that Kim Dokja is the sole reader of. For the webnovel chapter with the same name, see Chapter 1.


Three Ways to Survive in a Ruined World (often shortened to Ways of Survival or WOS), known as Three Ways to Survive the Apocalypse (shortened to TWSA) in the webtoon adaptation, 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.

Contents

  • 1 Setting
    • 1.1 The <Star Stream>
    • 1.2 Scenarios
    • 1.3 Scenario participants
      • 1.3.1 Incarnations
      • 1.3.2 Constellations
      • 1.3.3 Transcendents
    • 1.4 Stories
    • 1.5 Coins
    • 1.6 Dokkaebis
    • 1.7 Probability
    • 1.8 Nebulas
    • 1.9 Demons and Demon Kings
    • 1.10 Outer Gods
    • 1.11 The Three Ways to survive
  • 2 SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor
  • 3 Synopsis
    • 3.1 Ways of Survival and Kim Dokja
    • 3.2 Readers who got off
  • 4 References

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 mostly set on a modern-day Earth which is 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> exists on many planets across the universe: not only is Earth referred to as "planetary system 8612" by the <Star Stream> system messages, but numerous characters originally stem from or end up visiting other worlds. The <Star Stream> has no apparent origin and is implied to have always existed, though many beings are waiting for and speculating about its end. Each world under the rule of <Star Stream> is implied to go through an initial free trial period, in which the system is dormant. With the start of the "paid service", the challenges begin. It is further implied that the normal, almost inevitable outcome of this process is the complete destruction of the world.

Scenarios[]

Main article: 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[]

Main article: 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[]

Main article: 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.

Transcendents[]

Transcendents are incarnations who have become as powerful as constellations by forging their own unique path. Through talent and rigorous training they succeeded in repeatedly surpassing internal and external limitations of their species,[1] thereby positioning themselves somewhat outside of the system. Nonetheless, they are still dependent on it, as their power stems from fighting the establishment. Without a system to transcend, a transcendent is nothing. There appear to be multiple stages of transcendence that govern the individual's power level.

According to Namgung Minyoung, there are three necessary requirements for transcending: going beyond the limits of the body, training all skills to the limit and choosing to go beyond the system to find your own story.[1]

Many transcendents in ORV are outsiders who experienced social rejection for deviating from the norm and thus have a complicated relationship with their place of origin or general environment (e.g. Kyrgios Rodgraim and Peaceland,[2] Namgung Minyoung and the First Murim,[3] Yoo Joonghyuk's alienation from the world due to being a regressor, etc ). They also tend to be notoriously stubborn: every transcendent has something they can't concede[4] and they refuse to back down from their beliefs.[5] Despite their strength and subsequent status as ungovernable wildcards that even intimidates dokkaebis,[5] transcendents are still subject to the scenarios.

Stories[]

Main article: Story

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[]

Main article: 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[]

Main article: 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[]

Main article: 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[]

Main article: 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[]

Main article: Demon King

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[]

Main article: 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.

The Three Ways to survive[]

The titular three ways to survive in the apocalypse are three popular tropes in Manhwa:

  1. Regression - Yoo Joonghyuk
  2. Returning (Isekai) - Returnees
  3. Reincarnation - Nirvana Moebius

SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor[]

SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor was a paid webnovel written by Han Sooyoung. As an "unprecedented hit novel",[6] it was commercially successful, grossing 100,000,000 KRW after taxes within the first half of a month alone.[7] Additionally, it used to be featured on the "Today's Best" list and was allegedly the "number one platinum novel on Textpia".[8] It is heavily implied that its serialization began when Han Sooyoung was roughly 16 years old (around the time Kim Dokja turned 18) and that it marked the beginning of her career as a professional author.[6]

Kim Dokja accused Han Sooyoung of plagiarizing Ways of Survival upon noticing similarities in plot ("a survival game with absurd missions"), setting ("streaming system", "sponsorship from transcendent beings") and characters ("regressor psychopath" protagonist Yoo Joonhyun).[8] However, he was quickly silenced by Infinite Regressor fans[8] and Han Sooyoung herself. She was revealed to downvote his comments on Ways of Survival[7] and leave hate messages to tls123 using an anonymous account in retaliation.[6] Despite Infinite Regressor's overwhelming popularity, its readership remained fickle and demanding.[7]

When Kim Dokja first confronts Han Sooyoung during the scenarios, Lie Detection confirms that she is the writer of the Book of Revelations.[8] Kim Dokja, who quickly deduces that she is the author of SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor, falsely believes to be proven right in his suspicions. Eventually, Han Sooyoung admits to having read 99 chapters of Ways of Survival but denies the plagiarism allegations.[9] Instead, she later claims to have gotten the idea for her novel from her dreams.[10] The epilogue reveals that Han Sooyoung actually plagiarized herself: while she was writing Ways of Survival at night, her "daytime ego" stole her talents and ideas, leading to the conception of SSSSS-grade Infinite Regressor.[6]

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 1200 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[11].

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[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 ORV Novel Chapter 166 (read original)
  2. ORV Novel Chapter 128 (read original)
  3. ORV Novel Chapter 248 (read original)
  4. ORV Novel Chapter 249 (read original)
  5. 5.0 5.1 ORV Novel Chapter 250 (read original)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 ORV Novel Chapter 534 (read original)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 ORV Novel Chapter 487 (read original)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 ORV Novel Chapter 59 (read original)
  9. ORV Novel Chapter 75 (read original)
  10. ORV Novel Chapter 97 (read original)
  11. ORV Novel Chapter 1 (read original)
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