Istaria has several different environments that players can host their characters on. These environments are known in the game as 'shards', rather than servers.
The two "live" servers, Chaos and Order, are fully supported live environments. They go down for maintenance on Tuesdays. There is also a test environment shard; Blight. It does go down for updates and maintenance intermittently with no set time.
- Estimated Average Population: 50-100 Players
- Type: Regular Play
Chaos is the most populated of the three shards. It is host to a number of guilds and players from many different regions across the globe.
Chaos also has a channel called 'New Player Assistance', a chat made by the elder players to help new players join the game. It is recommended to join that chat whether you are new or old to welcome the new fledglings to the game.
With its large population also comes a larger chance for trolls and other annoyances - 'bad apples' - to appear. However, the well-held idea that Chaos is the most unwelcoming shard of the three because of this is untrue. If Order or Blight had the same amount of players, they'd have the same problem. It isn't only Chaos's problem.
Despite being the shard for regular play, Chaos also has Role-Playing present on it. However, the rules are much more lax than Order's, and there is no specific naming policy or whatnot. Most RP happens in private or in the channel "Role-Play".
- Estimated Average Population: 20-40 Players
- Type: Role-Play
Order is of mid-range population for Istaria. It has much less players then Chaos, but still more than Blight. The most well-known guild is the Scions, but many seem to rise up and fluctuate with members.
Order has no means of New Player Assistance that Chaos has, but help is given out to new players in Marketplace. All the regular chats - Marketplace, Dragon, and other non-player made channels with the exception few Role-Play - are OOC, or 'Out-Of-Character.' Role-Play is IC, or In-Character, along with the main broadcast chat. (Local chat, or main chat, as it's known in-game.) All players are expected to speak in brackets in IC areas- ((<-- These being brackets -->)). (It can also be single parentheses like this.) Anything that separates IC from OOC is generally accepted.
Most people in Order tend to know each other and form tight-knit groups of friends, and with every year passing, less people seem to sit around in the previously number one RP-town of New Trismus. The community may seem dead and cold initially, but persistence and a kind attitude will get any new player places. There are few bad apples due to the community, but they do show up occasionally.
Order also has its own stricter naming policy, such as not having a phrase or actual word for a name, so new players should take caution in naming their character.
- Estimated Average Population: 2-9
- Type: Test
The Blight Shard is available for players to play-test new content before it is released to the live environments. This is a fully-functional environment, but the game developers may release content that is untested and/or broken. Additionally there is a (remote) danger that the characters will be rolled back to an earlier period of time, however this is extremely rare.
The community is known to be very tight-knit community; everyone knows each other due to the very small amount of people on the shard. However, the amount of people on the shard tends to explode on the days of maintenance for Chaos and Order as the players there use their copied blight characters to hang out while they wait.
Blight is the only shard where you can copy a character to it without paying an extra fee and keeping the character on its original shard. Your new character's name will be the same as the previous, but with the suffix of "<Name>_order" or "<Name>_chaos" depending on which shard you copied from. With this copying, the longest names are possible, if the character was on an original shard, moved to unity, then moved to Order/Chaos, then copied to blight. I.E. "<name>_spirit_unity_chaos"
At the first release of the game there were eight shards hosted in the United States, with three shards hosted in Europe. The United States shards were merged to the current two live shards, Chaos and Order, in 2004. The European shards were also consolidated into one shard, Unity, in 2004. The Unity shard was later closed in 2006.
The original shards were:
|United States||Bounty||Non Role-Playing|
|United States||Energy||Non Role-Playing|
|United States||Shadow||Non Role-Playing|
|United States||Twilight||Non Role-Playing|
|United States||Life||Non Role-Playing|