It is a unique text-based game, for several reasons. Players are born into families made up of other players, villages are built by players, dungeons are delved (and created) by players, wars are (planned to be) started and waged by players, and new lands are constantly discovered and tamed by, you guessed it, players.
Building spoiler web-sites with maps and catalogues is prohibited by staff. It is encouraged that players discover what races, items, areas, or most other game content there is on their own.
Two players of the opposite sex in the game world can try to create a child (graphic content optional). If successful, the female player will become pregnant, and eventually deliver a baby. The mother will then assign the newborn a birth name, and a player who has created an account will be placed in the shoes of the new child. Upon being born and during the first few weeks (real world), new players will have limited abilities: they will not be able to initiate combat, speak correctly, or create/join work projects. It is really up to other players in the area (hopefully the parents) to help out the little ones for a while. Players cannot choose their race or family, but they may choose their gender. Once adults, they may do literally whatever they wish. It's a hugely open-ended game.
Faery Tale Online doesn't use levels for experience gain, instead everything is skill based. PVP is completely unrestricted. Since Faery Tale Online is attempting to be a simulation of a plausible fantasy world, it allows players to deal with their own problems. However, players are free to make up their own laws and rules to deal with trouble-makers. If you were to play as a mass-murderer, you may be hunted down. The ability to use magic does exist, though it is rare.
It's suggested that players log into their characters at least once a day to feed them, check for damage caused by other players, or whatever else they may have been working on. When a player logs out, their character is left doing whatever it was when they left. If you get attacked while logged out, your character will defend him or herself using whatever they were left with.
The game world relies on its own condensed time system. One game year lasts 6 real life days, one game day lasts 12 real life hours and there are 12 days in a year. Since your character begins as a baby, you will find that some actions are not allowed until you have grown a little older. Characters grow stronger with age until a certain age (dependent on race), after which your character will grow weaker and weaker until he or she dies of old age.
The lack of pregnant mothers compared to the number of people waiting to play means that there is a waiting period between sign-up and entrance into the game itself. FTO is also still in Beta, with many planned features are still to come, such as farming and sea travel.
Now has a fan-run forum to make up for the long time absence of an official forum and for those uninterested in the Facebook group.
This game provides examples of:
- Adam and Eve Plot: It can, and has, happened for newer races or those nearly extinct.
- Aerith and Bob: Can happen in the family you get born into, with siblings being named things such as Faolan, Mensah, Amber, and Emily.
- All Genes Are Codominant: Any race can cross-breed with any other race, which may lead to Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action.
- Anime Hair: Found a great deal of places.
- Author Existence Failure: Players sometimes vanish entirely without warning, leaving their characters to slowly starve.
- Babies Make Everything Better: If a colony is near death, a good long mating spree will usually fix things.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Expect to be born into one. This is arguably one of the most fun things about this game.
- BrotherSister Incest / Kissing Cousins: Due to a shortage of eligible mates, this is far more common in some colonies than in real life. Whether this is good or bad is a matter of personal preference.
- Came from the Sky: A recent repopulation bomb consisted of a great number of births happening this way.
- Chaos Architecture: After a major patch, people have logged back into the game only to find that the ocean they were next to has suddenly moved.
- Character Blog: The Faery Tale is this for every single character in the game.
- Command & Conquer Economy: Everything crucial to survival, and even some not-so-crucial things, must be built for your character to use it.
- Depopulation Bomb: A recent disease killed all characters over the age of 50 years, no matter their race.
- Do You Want to Copulate?: Mating in the game can sometimes be this. This gets really funny when you realize that mating requests currently do not time-out. People have accepted mating requests that were made 40 in-game years before!
- Easing into the Adventure: You start out as a baby and watch others play and interact while getting used to the controls. It's also when you begin to learn your particular cultures' ways and beliefs.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: Both played straight and subverted - it's entirely up to the player.
- Endless Game: 300 in-game years and counting.
- Fantasy Pantheon: All religions are created by the players of the game.
- Ghost Town: Some settlements have turned into these. It's fun when you find one.
- Give Me a Sign: All things said ingame while inside a religious building will be monitored to check for certain prayer keywords. If one matches a player helper will take a look at it and perhaps react towards it with Divine Intervention.
- Homosexual Reproduction: The result of a bug.
- I'm a Humanitarian: You can eat the corpses of players. While not always human, it still applies. Corpses are very filling.
- Item Crafting: Everything in the game is crafted by players.
- Lamarck Was Right: Children possess small amounts of their parents' skills at birth.
- Massive Race Selection: There are over a dozen unique playable races that you can have a character born into.
- Nobody Poops: Averted. Inhabited locations will occasionally generate a 'feces' item, but it's not associated with any particular person. Whenever a character eats, there is a random chance that a feces object will appear at the next tick.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Players may submit their own creature ideas to appear in the game world. These creations tend to be rather... interesting.
- Outliving One's Offspring: Can, and does, happen on occasion.
- Perma Death: Whether by violence, starvation, or old age, your character will eventually die.
- Rip Van Winkle: It's possible to keep inactive characters alive for a long time, so long as they have auto-eat turned on. Sometimes, they wake up.
- Spiritual Successor: The creator of FTO was heavily inspired by The Faery Tale Adventure.
- Side Quest: The creator of the game has recently begun to create Mystery Quests, which are items and events he can drop into the middle of the game world to make things more interesting. Since there is no main plotline to FTO, every Mystery Quest can be considered a Side Quest.
- The Other Darrin: When a player no longer wishes to play, there is the option of giving their character(s) away.
- Videogame Caring Potential / Videogame Cruelty Potential: Since all new characters start as babies, it's really up to the other players to make sure your character lives to see their first birthday. Having baby corpses be one of the best foods available doesn't enhance their survivability as well.
- Wizard Needs Food Badly: One of the most frustrating parts of playing as a baby. You can't speak, and anything you try saying comes out as baby talk such as "goo mama waaah." Unless you use ALLCAPS, in which case it turns to "WAAAH! WAAAH! WAAAH!" It's encouraged not to outright state that the character is hungry when emoting * between the asterisks,* leading parents to ignore their children when they put things like * feed me* rather than * sucks on his thumb.*