Summer Camp 2023
The 2023 edition of World Anvil’s annual Worldbuilding Summer Camp begins on July 1, and I’m here to speak briefly about what I hope to accomplish during this fantastic event.
In case you’re not familiar, Summer Camp is where World Anvil challenges writers, gamemasters, and other worldbuilders to respond to a series of prompts release throughout the month.
As with last year, I will go for the Diamond badge but will make the attempt while adhering to the guidelines of Camp Chill. See the sidebar for details.
I am also proud to proclaim myself a follower of the most excellent order of Camp Feral, which Strixxline describes in her Summer Camp 2023 pledge as an “unofficial club…for those of us who simply cannot contain our hype, and plan to devour every prompt at the moment of release like a rabid raccoon.”
Wave 1: Power
I had the pleasure of being a guest on the World Anvil Twitch stream when this theme was announced, so I’ve already given some initial thought to this. What I said on stream is that I’m intrigued by both the idea of how energy is created in my land of Eden, but also by the power dynamics that exist in the time period of my next project (The Blood of Seven Queens).
In that graphic novel, Frieda Jacobs seeks to unite the seven disparate kingdoms of the Edenian south into one United Kingdom of Wonderland—and she even has a great claim to all seven thrones. But how do each of the current rulers feel about her? I know some are supportive and ready to give up the responsibility they’ve inherited, but others will probably cling to power. This wave of prompts should help me explore that.
Interestingly, the “feature hint” that WA includes in the homework for this week of theme preparation is “tracking power and relationships.” I’ve already spent a fair amount of time building out the family tree of my protagonist, but this hint reminded me also of the Alliance Challenge—one of the first community events I took part in.
Way back then, I created The Council of Five and had fun with the diplomacy web feature. But it’s been a long time since I looked at that feature, and while the Council plays a role in the story I’m telling, there could be a smaller, similar diplomatic organization that governs the lands my protagonist is trying to unite.
Here is the Council of Five’s diplomacy web, which looks cool, but which you can tell I didn’t do much with:
Lastly, for extra credit this week, the fine folks at WA asked those of us with “seasoned worlds”: when is the last time you looked at your world meta?
I was excited about this question, because I actually looked at mine fairly recently. This was all part of an effort to pivot from Stains of Time series into The Blood of Seven Queens. Following a mini-meta I wrote for WorldEmber 2022, I streamlined and updated my world meta earlier this year. So I feel like I’m all set on that front.
Wave 2: Frontier
This theme is super-exciting to me. I've got three options for Edenian frontiers that immediately come to mind:
- The eastern reaches of The Reek, which could be really cool because The Reek is a megalopolis and a city isn't necessarily what one thinks of when one thinks of a frontier.
- The Gillikin Badlands, a region which dominates the northernmost portions of Oz and where I've hinted the dragons of my world might live.
- The Five Moons, which could be cool to explore in advance of my project after the current project, which will be a more cyberpunky thing, but which might be even cooler to explore in the context of the more fairytale/fantasy world of Seven Queens.
Each of these could be cool, so I can't really decide right now which I'd rather focus on. I guess I'll let the prompts help me decide, once they come out.
Now, as to the "feature hint" that the WA folks provided this week, it was maps. A year or so ago, this would have intimidated me. I didn't have a map to speak of. But now I do!
There's still loads to be done with it, and I keep waffling on whether to focus on cleaning up the coastlines or to move on to something else, but I've got something to work with finally. And that feels great.
Extra Credit Update: 2023-06-17. 09:48 am.
I kinda ignored the “extra credit for seasoned worlds” for Week 2 because I recently did quite a bit of reorganization in my world. But this morning, possessed by something, I decided to take another look at how I organized characters and realized it wasn’t working.
Prior to this morning, I was organizing by species and then by ethnicity, but that was problematic because of how cosmopolitan my land of Eden can be. I realized I was going to end up re-creating the same structure under multiple species and ethnicities, and so I’ve decided to go a different direction.
Now all of the characters are categorized by where they live. This works much better with the way I’m thinking about and writing about the world these days. And bonus: I had to come up with new demonyms from two of my conlangs, which in and of itself opens up even more worldbuilding possibilities. At least I think so.
Wave 3: Relics
A very interesting thing happened for me with this theme reveal. I didn’t get to catch it live because of some family obligations. When I did watch finally watch the replay of the reveal stream however, I was like a man possessed. Something about the theme of relics and the talk of history compelled me to make a change to my world that I’ve been wanting to make for months now. And so, I ended up spending the bulk of my Sunday (Fathers Day here in the United States) reworking the timeline of the land of Eden.
It was a huge task, taking what had accidentally become a 100,000-year history (most of that history empty and unloved, to be honest) and condensing it into something more manageable (1,500 years as of this writing). But it’s done now, and I feel really good about it. All of a sudden, story possibilities which I’d accidentally closed myself off to by stretching out the world’s history too much—all of a sudden, those possibilities were back.
So, anyway… On with the homework.
There are so many interesting questions to ask here. The book I’m writing now takes place in the “Second Age” of Eden, so there are plenty of relics to be found. In fact, I’m intending to call the second book in the series The Queen of Seven Swords—and I don’t yet know what all of the swords will be, nor even the full histories of any of them except one.
Beyond that, there is loads of room to explore the impact of the Bekiskapan peoples upon Eden. The Bekiskapan, if you don’t know, where the lost culture at the center of my submission last year for the “On the Shoulders of Giants” Challenge. They were infamous for charging into battle in their so-called “Bekiska bikinis” and their preference for wearing as little clothing as possible is a cheeky—pun absolutely intended—way of explaining some Edenian cultures wearing seemingly absurd clothing for a fantasy setting.
It has also just occurred to me that this might be the perfect opportunity to explore the
Littlesteps Leprechauns, a possibly “made-up” ethnic group of halflings used to justify The Invasion of Oz—a major conflict in the history of my world.
Beyond those things, there is also the possibility to lay the groundwork for the series I plan to write after the series I’m writing now. That theoretical follow-up will be a cyberpunk yarn set in the far-flung future of the world I’m writing about now. What might be left behind by the cultures who exist between the current story and the one I plan to write later on?
As I mentioned above, I kinda-sorta started with the feature hint this week. My Edenian timeline is all cleaned up and ready to go now, and I’ve got other timelines behind the scenes to help me plan and explore—including a very much under-construction Chronicle of the Rulers of Second-Interregnum Wonderland that I only just this second decided to make public and share with y’all.
Extra Credit for Seasoned Worlds
This week’s extra credit involves the collection of images, which I have to say feels somewhat intimidating because I like to make my images custom for whatever article I’m writing about.
That said, I ended up not including very many images at all in my articles last Summer Camp because of this preference. I just didn’t have time. And that’s part of why I ended up using Spooktober 2022 as a way of prepping images for WorldEmber 2022.
So, maybe I’ll use the rest of this week to cook up a few images and then report back? How’s that sound?
Wave 4: Communication
If I might adopt the tongue of the dwarves for a moment, “Klä stroo nï sloolk!”. That means “I welcome this theme” in Thünard.
As a writer and lover of language, how could I not?! And as I sat watching the livestream where this theme was announced, and in the half a day since, I’ve had a fair number of ideas pop into and out of my head.
Let’s begin with the questions World Anvil posed to us in their blog post:
- How do people and organizations from different backgrounds or cultures communicate with each other?
- How does communication happen over short and long distances?
- Who in your setting communicates secretly or carefully, and how?
The first thought I had when this theme was announced was that it might be a source of delicious conflict in the graphic novel I’m writing now, The Blood of Seven Queens. The nation of The Reek, which sits on the northeastern border of my version of Wonderland, is a technological marvel—a pseudo-cyberpunk society in a world that skews far more toward fantasy. Together with the Winkie tribe of halflings, the Reekians are big fans of the EdenNet.
But whereas The Reek loves tech, the denizens of Wonderland much prefer magic. And though I haven’t yet figured out what their techniques for transmitting messages might be (there are letter carriers in the Yesterland province, but that’s about all I know), I have been letting my brain play with the idea that these differences in opinion on communication might play a big part in why relations between The Reek and the Wonderlandian province of The Highlands might be so tense.
One idea I came up with, inspired by the controversy over the placement of telescopes on the sacred volcano of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, is that there might be a conflict between The Reek and The Highlands over placement of towers for the EdenNet along their shared border.
Another idea: the notion that the infamous winged monkeys of Oz might have originally been developed to transmit messages across long distances, long before they were subjugated by the dastardly Oscar Diggs and his four witchy lieutenants.
And beyond that, I don’t want to forget about the potential for the use of the lost/dead language of the Bekiskapan, Proto-Indo, to be used as a secret form of communication. I’m thinking of the fact that “The Others” on Lost communicated with each other in Latin to keep the protagonists of the show from understanding them.
Feature Hint: Dictionaries & Whiteboards
I’ve made use of both features in the past, but not figured out how to use them to their fullest extent. I remember being very excited for the possibilities of Whiteboards when they came out, thinking they might be cool for explaining complex notions like time travel mechanics, but then getting frustrated (for reasons I can’t recall) about how they embedded into articles. I will definitely need to take another look.
As for Dictionaries, I love them but I'm curious about how well they work with large conlangs. I have one I built out for WorldEmber 2022 that seems to slow the site to a crawl whenever I load the page, so I definitely need to research the feature’s limitations and maybe only load a small subset of words into the Dictionary on World Anvil (keeping the rest in an offline repository).
Extra Credit for Seasoned Worlds
I didn’t have much luck with last week’s extra credit (gathering new images) but I suspect I might have a bit more luck this week. I am in the midst of one of two busiest weeks of the year for me at work, but I like to scroll through my old articles as a way to kill time when I’m between tasks—since my brain often needs a recharge, and reminding myself of how creative past me has been is refreshing (especially when I feel like I have no brain cells left).
This has been a fantastic month of homework. I can’t wait for the reveal of the first set of prompts next week.
If you, dear reader, are participating in Summer Camp yourself, best of luck to you!
Or, as the dwarves of my world would say, Sâ sïsts!
Nnie's Camp Chill Guidelines
- Remember the prompts are suggestions, not requirements.
- Write what you're passionate about, leave what you aren't.
- Relax when you feel tired.
- Fight off any pesky brain-squitos trying to make you doubt your work.
- Don't abandon your non-summercamp goals! Write that article you're itching to write, even if it doesn't fit any prompts.
(Shared with permission from Annie Stein. Read her thoughts on 'Camp Chill' on her Camp Pledge.)
To use this block on your own camp pages: [block:1050823]