If you're confused about what's what on the Island, look no further. This is where all of the particulars of the Canon can be found.
So what's with all the artillery?1)
The Canon (not to be confused with cannon), is all the stuff that's been written by the Island's creator, CMJ, about how the world of the game works.
Improbable Island is essentially a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story that's spread over a few hundred pages of in-game text, or tucked away in hard-to-find places.
However, most of this information is only available gradually to new players, so it's helpful to have it all in one place.
The setting of Improbable Island takes place many years in the future, roughly in the decade of 2080 (Possibly 2090).2)
In 2075 the huge amount of processing power and advanced technology at our disposal, perpetually networked together online, gave rise to a massive artificial intelligence that was comprised of the entire Internet.
Predictably, the governments of the world panicked, and within two days a small committee independently decided to set off a global series of electromagnetic pulse mines, or "EMP's" in order to kill this Internet intelligence. But because the modern world can't survive without computers, the EMP bombings obliterated civilization as we know it. It's rumored that the members of this doomsday committee were ripped apart limb from limb by a mob.
Your character lived through the warzone after the EMP and managed to make a living in a ruined but reforming society.
It's presumably taken years to regain even a small amount of workable technology- for instance, we have things like television and radio.
Several years after the EMP bombings, an expedition was launched to Improbable Island, previously called Island Four, to see if its isolated location preserved the last working technology on the planet, which could mean the rebirth of the outside world.
It did, in fact- the robots and computer chips on the Island are the only ones left on earth.
Your character has been forcibly drafted into an 'army' presumably meant to destroy the thing that prevents this technology from being successfully recovered: the Improbability Drive.
For whatever reason this 'war' has been made into a reality television show- presumably, for financing purposes. People will always pay for entertainment. The general public may or may not realize that the show Improbable Island depicts real events.
Yup. It's the future. We had a lot of fancy technology and the EMP bombs took it out. It threw the world into turmoil. Now popular entertainment is this. Improbable Island. Wave to everyone you ever knew before you were thrown onto a plane.
You'll probably never see them again. But they can watch you 24/7.
More reading material: The very front page of the site before you log in. The NewHome Museum.
No, really. Doktor Improbable discovered that the fifth fundamental force in the universe is actually Chance and that the accumulation of it leads to less likely outcomes occurring more often. He also discovered that observing the accumulation and trying to measure it causes the Chance to "rebound", severely increasing the odds of even the least plausible outcome, and unknowingly created the Improbability Drive.5) That is basically how Jokers work; they observe the already rebounded Chance, causing it to rebound again, and funnel it into the action they desire.6)7)
More reading material in: The "How It All Started" Exhibit in the NewHome Museum.
Wait, what? Yes, that's right- as far as we know, the entire male population of Contestants who hail from the Mainland had their junk retrofitted with a 'safety catch' prior to the EMP. It is a small device fitted into the scrotum that needs to be deactivated by taking pills in order for the man to become fertile again. However, after the EMP the pill-manufacturing machines were fried, and until the technology is repaired anyone fitted with this 'safety catch' is sterile. It's presumed that the surgical procedure to install the catch is irreversible, otherwise repairing the pill machines wouldn't be a problem.
So, is the human race doomed then? Not quite- we know that some pregnancy goes on in the outside world. This could be due to rich people buying stockpiles of the drug, or non-industrialized populations or minorities who were never fitted with the device. Any male children who were still in utero just prior to when the EMP hit likely were born without having this device installed, but due to the timeline of the Island they're not 18 yet and thus not qualified to be Contestants.
Read the original in: The Dancer Quest, paragraph 148)
The formidable robot army. It was a true thing back before the EMP. Sleek, sinister killing machines that could decimate your enemy while you sit at home, eating popcorn and watching soaps on the telly.
Unfortunately, computer hackers the world over started trying to take control of them for fun and profit and those who tried to stop them could do little more than plug one hole before another was created. This forced a stalemate between all countries with the new and improved Killotron 50009) and no apocalyptic wars were fought before the EMP turned all the armies into very pretty tin cans.
Read the original in: "A Walk with Rohit", page 14-15
The following are player-created bits that, while not 100% Absolute Grade-A Truths, a lot of the players have used them in their roleplay.
Ever been having a conversation and noticed that you mispronounced your own name or felt a distinct lack of Capitalization when referring to an outpost? Randomly say an ess where an aye is supposed to be? Put a questioning lilt at the end of a sentence that obviously isn't a question? That is the work of typo gremlins, pesky little critters that feed off of Grammar. They've been known to steal letters, punctuation and even entire words straight from people's mouths.
While annoying, the creatures are not inherently hostile and are allowed within outposts11). A few typo gremlins have been known to integrate into Island society, most notably Cookie, the Common Grounds' hard-working, ever-suffering barkeep.12)