Shattered World is set in a medieval fantasy world with a player-run legal system and economy. "Guilds" are found as an alternative to character classes. Player characters may choose from eight races: humans, aracheans (fast, poisonous giant spiders), archons (demons of darkness), draconians (winged dragon-spawn), galandrians (golden masters of psionics), grmkels (large slug-like creatures with a deadly stare), mephits (small demons of fire) and tritons (giant rulers of the seas).
Shattered World has drawn attention for the success of its "Loans Standard" economic model. In this design, all businesses are player-owned, and players may set prices to any level desired, with the only central control imposed being on the amounts banks may loan, yet the system has produced reasonably stable prices since the 1990s. In the wake of Ultima Online<nowiki>'</nowiki>s economic crash, this stands out as a remarkable accomplishment. The necessity that the system lack "faucets" that produce money ex nihilo means that newbies must start the game completely destitute, however, and this raises concerns as to whether this model could be made to scale successfully to larger player-bases.
Shattered World developed, maintains, and operates using the SWLPC programming language, an LPC derivative forked from LPMud 2.4.5. SWLPC was originally distributed privately, but was later made publicly available. Its primary maintainer is Geoff "Dredd" Wong.