New Year's Resolutions: WorldEmber 2023 Roundup in Istralar | World Anvil

New Year's Resolutions: WorldEmber 2023 Roundup

It's been a long and productive year! Why don't we talk about it all?
— Hanhula
  Welcome back to another block of text written frantically before a challenge deadline! Today, I'll be rounding up some of the WorldEmber articles I loved - well, the ones I can at least find in my history / in quick searches, limited to 10 because oops I only have a few hours to write this - and reflecting on the past year of Istralan adventures.   Let's dive straight in, shall we?  

Reflections on 2023

Please note that the left-hand column contains statistics taken directly from Brigid via WA's API! I've excluded things like likes etc from the pics so those worried about stats should still be safe to look at these - they're just dates.
End of 2023 Stats by Number by Hanhula (via Brigid)
End of 2023 Stats by Publication Date by Hanhula (via Brigid)
End of 2023 Stats by Update Date by Hanhula (via Brigid)
I'm not going to lie, 2023 was an incredible year for me in terms of writing, worldbuilding, and - perhaps unexpectedly to some - coding. I began my self-pronounced Stub Murder spree in early 2023 because of a serious ongoing issue in Istralar wherein every article spawned new drafts, and those drafts were inevitably left to rot. Key context - such as what an aasimar was or where Nahazan is - was lost not only to readers, but also sometimes to my players themselves. We began the year with something like 600 stubs - I'm happy to say that the number has decreased to around 23 now, with a good chunk of those being half-written articles.   Writing so many tiny little articles and granting myself permission to NOT treat them as complete, to publish them into the world half-formed yet providing enough lore for any new wanderers to learn what they needed - it was invigorating. And from the back of that surge of inspiration came a seriously productive year in terms of full articles. I wrote all 42 articles for Summer Camp, fleshed out side-characters to my campaign by updating their long-neglected articles, and updated a number of long-neglected articles to better fit my current standards. There are still many more to improve - for instance, Sorensval is slated for an update sometime soon - but things are improving.   And I would be remiss to not mention the impact of Brigid. For those who missed my WorldEmber 2023 pledge, I recently launched a WorldAnvil add-on website using the new Boromir API. It currently shows you graphs of your world's statistics, allows quick editing of tags, icons (with a beautiful icon browser), and excerpts, and has a full article search that will find any term and tell you exactly what part of an article it's in. I've had so much fun building and maintaining it! I've run into a few blockers along the way - neither Owen nor myself have been able to quite get the new editor I'm working on to behave perfectly - but overall? We're doing something lovely here, and it's looking amazing.   The next major Brigid updates will be the article editor - when I or another React wizard can wrangle it into not doubling every linebreak - and a category manager, once I've figured out how I want that to work. I'm also hoping to get it ported into being a mobile app as soon as the editor is done, so that WA can finally have something of a mobile app available.   In the meantime, though, I've been working on tagging every single Istralar article in the hopes of building some nice useable indexes, setting icons on everything to give some character, and making sure EVERY excerpt is filled out so that no matter where you see an article linked, you'll always be able to hover over it and get a brief summary of what's inside.

Events of the Campaign

For those who are new - Istralar is the world for my ongoing campaign, in which Aniks Aliforn (AlbieDraws), Ashlyn Alarian (Count_Drakin), Azyel Lathronon (Jazai), Burdyr Donderiall (TheDumbOwl), Cid La Flaga (Blindfoldedchaos), Keema Aiken (Aquabrodie), Kraia Woodslough (Mouseshy), and Licia Galewen (SorceressLily) attempt to fulfil their roles as Champions and save their world from the Shards of the Void, among other antics.
  As a gamemaster, Istralar has been somewhat stagnant over the past year. My party of wonderful adventurers have been trapped in the throes of their struggle against the Earth-Mother's Gift for over a year of real-world time now, which was perhaps a bit much. We're entering the final battle next session, and I'm so proud of them for reaching this far. The campaign has been running for something like 8 years now, since we started in 2016, and they've achieved so much. It's wild to look back on what they've accomplished. Whilst their next fight isn't their last, they're getting closer, and the warnings of pending doom are only stacking in intensity.   To this end, expect a darker tone in any articles on current events I put out. This WorldEmber was a good precursor to that. Instead of working on quantity this WE, I focused on quality, and allowed myself to work only as inspiration dictated. In the end, this meant I hit the 10k goal in four articles.  
Influence of the Shards
Condition | Dec 6, 2023

The corruptive influences a Shard may inflict upon the unwitting and unwilling.

  An overview of something my players know well: the impact of the Shards. This is the main threat to Istralar's very existence right now, and the party are currently deciding the fate of one - if they can survive the battle.
Verdant Haze
Geographic Location | Dec 14, 2023

A green oasis in the Sunari Wilderness, forever ruined by radiation and pollution.

  More of a hint of things to come in Campaign 2, the Verdant Haze started to be written in WE2019 and then I never finished it. Well, it's done now. Vexua looms in the distance, its technological might a threat to all others.
Naseem Samawi
Character | Feb 8, 2024

Champion of the psychopomp Ceyannan and death-touched wanderer.

  A recent new addition to my campaign's NPC roster, Naseem quickly caught the party's attention - and I'm glad he did, too. Despite his darkness, he's already trying to give some of them therapy.
  But that's just enough reflecting, I think. I have a number of plans for Istralar this coming year, but seeing as my personal life is currently quite tumultuous and stressful, I'm not going to hard commit to anything. That said, I already released one article overhaul - the Endless Archives - and I do want to try and make the Lost Ones readable again since it's, y'know, my party's article. Just gotta write up... 7 more years of campaign in it.   We hit 350 followers and 500k words across Istralar this year. Let's see if we can hit 400 and 600k in 2024, hey?  

WorldEmber 2023 - Reading Challenge

  And now we get onto the fun stuff: WorldEmber 2023 in the eyes of the rest of our lovely community. Now, I've got a slight problem here. I read every single notification I got across the duration of WE2023 - and I follow many worlds! - and noted down a number of favourites, pinning their tabs so I could come back to them. Then at some point I must've hit OneTab, and it collapsed them.   ...Now it is the 27th (well, the 28th in my timezone as of 5 minutes ago, but WA doesn't go off Australia time) and I find myself in my childhood bedroom for the final time. My parents are moving shortly. I'm back in the room where Istralar began, and it will be my final time here. I'm on the same laptop I've used a thousand times for writing articles whilst on holiday or living in another country and IT HAS NONE OF THE ARTICLES I WANTED TO WRITE ABOUT IN MY READING CHALLENGE SAVED ANYWHERE NEAR ACCESSIBLE GOD DAMN IT   So I'm going to miss some of the articles I've loved, and I'll certainly miss mentioning some of the writers I adore. Please don't take it as a slight if you're not listed here. The WA community is extremely talented and I love so many of you. If I follow you and you gave me a notif during WE, I read your work, and most likely enjoyed it.  

Ten Articles That Are Very Good That May Or May Not Have Been On The First List, I Don't Remember


Rutas Surge by Barron

  Barron is one of those writers I've known for like, six years now (fun fact: he got me hooked on Rimworld last year so badly that I had to force myself to stop playing because it ATE ALL OF MY TIME). He's always been incredible - I mean, it's sort of a given, he's part of the amazing Ethnis team - but he's really stepped his pussy up this WE. This isn't even the only top-tier article he's written, god damn. And look at the parallax! I know it gets tiring to hear me go on about how gorgeous the Ethnis CSS is, but seriously, come on.   Without any understanding of what a rutas is or why it is dangerous, the article clearly communicates the inherent dangers with a warning system understandable in and out of world. He pairs alerts with seriously solid fragments of a story, and it's beautifully engaging. Thank you for the reminder that I want to include more snippets of prose in my work!  
As if to prove me wrong, a Jhoutigari patrolling outside used his kinetic sling to launch pellet straight through the creature.
— Barron

Othello Shaft-hole Axe Head by Skairunner

We are all well-familiar by now with the lovely Nnie and her way with words, but Solaris is not her sole creation. This article from Skye caught my attention to the point where I left the tab open for WEEKS whilst doing all of my reading, even as a relatively simple article.   In fact, that's what I love about it. It is short, but it covers some quite important points and does so very well. It is well-formatted and presented, and reads wonderfully as a result. Presentation is key for worldbuilding for an audience - as the Solaris team do - and even the smaller articles are done with an incredible attention to detail.   In this one small article, we are reminded of the importance of context to archaeological finds, we are teased with the presence of ancient knowledge, and we must wonder on just who could have left this axe head behind. Were they a human? What were they doing there, if so? We'll have to wait for more lore to find out - if modern-day residents can even know themselves.  
Archeologists were able to recover not only the axe, but the entire two meter soil cube it was contained in.
— Skairunner

SANT by TheDumbOwl

  Very rarely does a WorldAnvil article make the jump from being another piece of a world to becoming a part of overall WA lore. There are some few articles that are referenced time and again across a span of years, made memes through their sheer iconic nature. TJ's Udans are one, my gnome punting is another. But these are old, and the community has grown large in the time since their writing.   Alex has crafted another and set SANT loose through so many psyches that I'm sure we'll be yelling SANT CAST SLEEP for years to come, like clockwork come WorldEmber futures. As I've mentioned in the past, Alex is one of my closest friends and dearest campaign players, and I'm endlessly impressed by the sheer mastery of creativity and comedy he invests in Vertinall.   I was there when this was inspired - hell, I was the one that linked an absolute hot mess of AI generated bullshit from some news article to him - and I'm still blown away by what came of it! I don't even know what to say other than WELL DONE!
So you know, he's telepathic on a planetary scale, too. Just keep that little chestnut in mind if you thought about dropping your guard just then.
— TheDumbOwl

Bug by ShadowPhoenix

  Honestly this entire section basically counts for the whole of ShadowPhoenix's new world. Computer Adventures is such a cool concept and the CSS fits its vibe perfectly - I'm reminded of the science websites that museums set up to teach us all about cool shit. Introducing technology's history to worldbuilders and also shaping your own characters and tales amongst that history whilst using the results of that history to create the whole setup? It's just awesome.   ...I could've very easily done this whole box on History of Processors instead, too.   Bug is a wonderful introduction to the concept of computer bugs personalised as a cute lil guy, giving personality and showing how easy it is to establish a character in just a few sentences (and an adorable image). I also want to take the time to thank ShadowPhoenix from the bottom of my heart for putting a blur spoiler over the image. I have a phobia of certain bugs, like the one in that image, so hover-censors like this make it so I can actually read the article! It's an absolute blessing when people do this and I'm always so thankful.
99 little bugs in the code, 99 little bugs, you take one down and patch it around, 125 little bugs in the code.
— ShadowPhoenix

Leylines by Strixxline

  In addition to being a pretty cool streamer and a very chill person to talk to, LIne's managed to conjure up a frankly daunting amount of worldbuilding in one month. Whilst she has a LOT of cool worldbuilding to go through, it's this article on Malkora's leylines that really piqued my attention - especially since Istralar also has leylines of its own, albeit functioning somewhat differently.   The individual characterisation given to each leyline and the focus on its effects? Chef's kiss. I adore this. I adore the names used for each one, with leylines reflecting one another. She's chosen some fantastic words for these, too - Form being described by Tenacity and Celerity gives some glancing insight into the precise nature of the domain's leylines rather than being more general-use words.   There's quite a difference between 'tenacity' and 'strength' in terms of feel, so it's nice to see that nuance. I'm also being very stereotypical in my adoration of the one different entry that does something odd compared to all the rest: it's a fab way to get attention and focus, and to make people go "oooo why's Oblivion like that? what's THAT one done?"
Leyline emergences cause great changes in the lands in which they take place, as the surge in magic in the area alters the landscape and all living things residing within them.
— Strixxline

Celestial Tongue by Endrise

  Some people go incredibly hard with their languages. This isn't one of those articles - there's no entire dictionary of words, nor translation guides. And honestly? It doesn't need to be one of those. This is a fantastic look at how to introduce and explain a language, especially one steeped in magic and history, to your world without needing to follow in Tolkien's conlanging footsteps. Endrise describes a language of creation here, where every word bends reality. There's also something done here that I really enjoy seeing: headers used as not only headers, but pieces of the story themselves. It's always cool to see.   I also love the theories and more recent specks of history woven into this ancient tongue. Suggestions of a tie to magic? Hidden words written and then stolen, still wielding power if anyone is brave enough to find them? Absolutely up my alley, and absolutely hinting at an adventure I'm sure any party of PCs or protagonists would love to dive into head-first.
The gravity of a single word can change things in its vicinity, causing a ripple effect on those around them.
— Endrise

Tambanakua by Kitoypoy

  Do you ever finish reading an article with a look of vague horror? Not at the quality of writing, mind - Kitoypoy is a fantastic wordsmith - but at the sheer imagery it lays out for you. That's where I was at with this one. Volcanic deities are common throughout Earth's history, so I'm not surprised to see that history reflected in other worlds. WIth that said - wow, this is a dark one, and it's very important to heed the content warning on it.   The idea that it's culturally accepted to chain celestials inside a mountain, forcing their children to perpetuate a cycle of abuse or worse... holy hells. This is visceral, it is dark, and it is one threat I hope KItoypoy's players eventually end for good. Surely the best jade in the world can't be worth this. A fantastic lesson in evoking emotional responses in your readers!  
Those born without the touch of heaven are raised to become the next generation of Wardens who keep the Tambanakua sated.
— Kitoypoy

Isadore Ravenswood by Ninne124

  Every time I find myself wandering through Dark-Fall, I am reminded of how absolutely gorgeous Ninne's CSS is. I swear, it's like looking into the windows of one of those beautiful old castles. CSS aside, though, it's not often that I find myself utterly captured by the narrative of a long character article. Too often I find they tend to catch on less important aspects of a character, or tell stories that just don't intrigue me.   Not the case here. Gorgeous art and a swift dive into the character of a brilliant and charismatic man mired in grief and duty provide us with a fantastic overview of Isadore's life without ever becoming too heavy or lingering on topics overlong. The mystery, too, is a masterful stroke: Isadore's disappearance shatters the character's story and stops it before it completes, leaving us wondering "What happened?!".   Fortunately, Ninne provides an answer under a spoiler, and the bittersweet conclusion is satisfying to read.
He wanted to honour her, but the weight of her loss was so heavy that he felt he may never manage to get up again.
— Ninne124

Shadowspeak by notahumanhand (Spleen)

  As I mentioned before, some people go incredibly hard with their languages. This is one of those articles, and I continue to have absolutely no idea how Spleen managed to write so many articles - seriously, there's like, over 100k words across them - and yet maintain such consistent quality. Shadowspeak lays out a rendition of a Thieves Cant in a way that's clearly understandable and even usable by anyone who reads it, meaning players could even begin memorising these phrases and using them in-game.   The fact that they've even given us alternate forms - cardspeak and restaurant versions, for instance - is seriously impressive. You begin to get the feeling that this was a language developed not in a few days but over years by the criminal underbelly of society, and that it has evolved to fit every permutation it might be used in. It's the kind of worldbuilding that makes a world feel extremely real.
Hey, nice to see a friendly face around here!
— notahumanhand

Forever Storm by Mochimanoban

  When speaking of people who write entirely too fuckin many articles at consistently high quality, we must also remember the delightful Mochi! Yonderverse has had an amazing 2023, and there were a number of WorldEmber entries that I thought were pretty damn cool when reading through my many, many notifications. But I'm only doing 10 articles overall, so instead of gushing about all of Spleen and Mochi's combined works, I'm going to focus on Forever Storm.   The idea of an eternal storm is always a fun one - Iskaldhal on Istralar is plagued with similar - but the way Mochi talks about the Forever Storm makes it seem increasingly likely that the storm is actually alive. Instead of crackling lightning, the storm sends its strands after those who look at it. Lightning rods are characterised to make it grow. Bismuth drives it away. It's just a very fun concept.  
As tempting as it might be, and as safe as you think you are, don't make direct eye contact with the storm, and definitely don't stare.
— Mochimanoban
  I'm very tired now, or I'd probably write something more about all of the other worlds I loved through the competition. Alas, my eyes are tired. Also: I published this in case I fell asleep and Mochi has already found it without me linking it anywhere! If that's not a sign to stop writing and let the rest of you find it, then I don't know what is.


Please Login in order to comment!
Jan 27, 2024 16:28 by Mochi

barron really did step his pussy up this WE, I was in LOVE with the rutas surge and everything else he wrote. You too wrote some incredible stuff this WE, as you always do. Istralar will always be one of my favourite worlds <3 And thank you so much for featuring the Forever Storm! Spooky worldbuilding is so fun and I'm so glad I got to torture an entire planet with that storm :D

I hope you have a great day!   Explore the endless planets brimming with life of the Yonderverse! Go after creatures, discover new places, and learn about the people you find along the way.   Consider voting for me in the Worldbuilding Awards!
Jan 27, 2024 17:15 by spleen

these are some awesome article choices, thank you for featuring mine in here! all the work you've done on brigid is absolutely astounding, i admire you - and istralar continues to be a hugely inspiring world for me. good luck on all of your coming projects, and i hope you have an absolutely lovely 2024!

Have a wonderful day!
Jan 27, 2024 17:50 by E. Christopher Clark

Great choices. Sorry to hear about you not having access to that big list of stuff you were collecting, but glad to see you were able to pull something together. I love that first line.   Anyway, here's to a fantastic 2024!

Vote for the Clarkwoods Literary Universe as Best World in the Worldbuilding Awards
Jan 27, 2024 21:56 by Chris L

These are some great articles, a good mix of my own personal favorites and a few that I haven't seen! I look forward to reading them and I'm super honored that you picked my horrible lava spider for your list!

For your consideration, my submissions for the WorldAnvil Worldbuilding Awards 2024. (I've also included some of my favorites other worldbuilders.)

Jan 27, 2024 22:04 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Some great choices here, and some lovely words about each of them. <3   So proud of how Istralar has grown over the past year, and Brigid is a triumph. <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jan 28, 2024 04:10 by Barron

Awwwh Han. It took me all day to get to this, but I'm glad I finished up with it. Hearing that praise from you means so much because I absolutely have looked up to your work and Istralar.   You are an inspirational person, congrats on your win this year with Shards! If there was an article I'm proud to lose to, it's Influence of the Shards, that article was just chefs kiss all round.   I'm not sure what it means to step my pussy up, but I will vow to continue to step my pussy up til I'm at the top!   PS: I look forward to 'reading' along with the campaign as you do it this year. And great job on Brigid, you are certainly an exceptionally talented individual.

Jan 28, 2024 10:55

Aaahh thank you so much for those kind words. <3 It makes me really happy seeing other people enjoy the utter nerdiness of Computer Adventures and learning a thing or two from it. I'm honored to be put among so many great articles.   Have an amazing 2024, I cannot wait to read what shenanigans your players will be up to. ^^

What do you want to discover in Computer Adventures?