Tips for Beginning Terra-rists

First, let me congratulate you. Terra-rism is rewarding and important work. It is valued by all, and we here at the orientation center feel fortunate each year to have the opportunity to meet new cultivators and offer a few tips before you begin. Our hope with this particular cheat-sheet is to provide some people basics so that you make choices that will work for your subjects.

Let's get started. First, when depositing subject in pod, program for common characteristics.  Great sources of information on these is The Terra-Gardener's Guide to Growth and the less practical but always cheerful On Pods: The Joy of Terra-Gardening, 103rd Edition. These works suggest many ways to ensure your subjects have sufficient, greed, envy, and competitive spirit to survive and even thrive in their societies.

That said, unlike humans, we prefer not to dictate or make declarations; there is no single right way for subjects to be, as the subject's sole goal is being, which is merely a state. But DO NOT -- and here we are dictating -- we repeat, DO NOT program too much flexibility into your subjects.  Mental rigidity keeps humans from coming to their own conclusions, and the data shows they prefer ready-made truths.   

Here it should be briefly noted that some cultivators have experimented with freer subjects, yielding very interesting information and lots of great entertainment. But most studies reveal that people don't dig liberation, although they very much enjoy relishing the notion that if they were more free they would be more free. As such, it's best to saddle them with certain burdens that ensure musing about liberty is as far as it gets.   

Here are the basic burdens -- but please, do not at all confine yourself to these accidents of birth, rather, consider them starters. They are random identity elements that will feel meaningful and determine the course of subjects' lives, gender, race, religion, tribe, location, and the like.

Here is an example of how this is done; start with a place on the map. That spot is the subject's nationality, then subdivide down, creating categories and subgroups to side with. Keep doing this until you reach familial divisions. Within each unit, there must always be in and out, favored and disfavored, this and that. The subjects must have preferences. 

Race is another great way to generate that effect, as nothing works more powerfully on people than a physical manifestation of like-me-ness to solidify the feeling that others are different. An other is critical to every human's sense of belonging; they all need them.

Now is a good time to warn that when it comes to race and other basics, less is more. Mixing anything dilutes desired sense of affiliation in subjects and causes confusion upon realization of the only possible conclusion -- people are all the same. Those subjects, upon realizing this, can provide exceptional data.

But that's the problem. It's not normal and only causes deviations -- delightful deviations, mind you -- that can't be duplicated in simpler subjects. So keep the mixing minimal if you want meaningful data and your people to feel safe; sameness reenforces good feels. Subjects like what they know and don't see anything else even when shown. 

Now, gender. This is a bit of a tender topic, we are aware, as there is a growing notion in a very few places on Terra Firma that this is mutable, due to an insurgency of rogue terra-rist elements (they shall rename unnamed). These insurgents are not wrong -- genders are programmed on a spectrum just like all the other traits set up in your Terrari Tuner -- but the rebels have not yet come up with alternative cultivation techniques that can be applied widely, so until there is a better pod, the ladies are what we've got.

What does that mean to you as a cultivator? It means that you need to always keep the ratio of men to ladies a little off, as the ladies carry the babies. And despite the many burdens of motherhood, they totally own the cloning role. It's their thing -- no competition, never has been, so we like to have more of them. However, not all females must be breeders, and you are, as previously noted, free to play. But be advised that parenting generally, whether for men or women, is one of those weights that make people feel great, relieving them of freedom. 

And that's it -- those are the basics. Beyond that, it's up to you. Cultivators can pretty much do as they choose. But like we tell every new group each year, don't wait for the muse! There are times when the work will seem senseless, your subjects dull, or when their circumstances will get you down. You may be tempted to ask what it is all for. Don't. The test is the test is the test, and it is best not to identify with the subjects who are themselves imprisoned in random identifications so as to shield them from cosmic consciousness. 

So, on that note, our final words of advice. At the first sign that you too are identifying, stop work and see the experts. We know what's up and how to handle the issue. Most likely, it's no big deal. Exposure to an out of tune Terrari Tuner's emissions is often the cause for cultivator infection. If that is the case, bring in the tool for a fix and make an appointment to speak to a terra-pist.