Summer Camp 2022: Pledge
Well, we're here again. Do you feel like you've been here before? I certainly do. I can't think why.. perhaps it's that this will be my fourth year participating in Summer Camp. Four years of this! In the same world! Good god. I know I'm not alone in this boat, but it's strange nonetheless. Let's start this pledge document off by, as per usual, linking to my progress sheet. Though I love WorldAnvil, it doesn't quite manage to do everything yet (which is a good thing), so I always make one of my progress trackers to plan out what I'm going to be doing. Seeing the red "idea" boxes gradually turn to "complete" is always good for one's motivation. If you'd like to do the same, there's a copyable version here.We'll see this fill up with prompts and answers over the course of July, so feel free to keep checking back. Now, I hear there were some homework articles I needed to answer for this year's pledge... let's get into those.Midjourney isn't even the only one. Recently, we've seen DALL-E Mini showing up in memes everywhere, but there's also Wombo (which has an unfortunate crypto association), Artflow (for creating people), and Artbreeder, amongst others. Hell, there's even OpenAI's text beta, which I've been using for prompts on my own time. I want to see how far I can push these with what I'm doing, and how much it adds to my work. I'll be purchasing a 1-month subscription to Midjourney when Summer Camp begins, so we'll see AI art for every prompt I fill. It should be fun!Places like the Art of Animation and the Collectibles remain fantastic for finding inspiration, by the way. Trawling through artstation and twitter can be helpful, but going to dedicated art curation blogs? So much better. You're not limited by what you can think up, then.
Homework #1: Goals, Motivations, and ThemesThere are a few important aspects to discuss when considering a creative goal for Istralar. The WorldAnvil blog post suggests a few listed goals, from "expand into a new area of the world" to "create a new world", but we've already expanded to all the new continents I can discuss in public articles, and I'm not at the point where creating a new world is on the table. Istralar takes up enough time itself, thank you very much, and if Tolkien could focus on one world for so long then so can I. Overall, if I needed to sum it up (which I do, because it's part of the homework), I'd describe my goal for this SC as "filling in the gaps". There are a lot of countries with their stories still unwritten. There are countless spots on the timeline that have been left bare. There are so, so many plothooks I've hinted at in previous articles and then never been able to follow up on in my campaign. Summer Camp is usually the perfect venue for filling in some of those gaps and giving my players a whole host of exposition that they can pick through as they like. Now, this isn't to say the articles will be meaningless fluff. Some articles from previous SCs and WEs have been about the most important features in my world, whether that be the first codifiying of avatars as my players learnt about the mysterious figures that seemed to know so much, or NPCs like Ypolita Ouranios who otherwise would have been relegated to memory. I intend to continue this trend here. After all, my players currently hunt the Earth-Mother's Gift, one of the Shards of the Void, and I should probably begin writing an article on the item they seek. Among other things. My motivation is somewhat obvious when you read through the above. I strive to create a realistic and full setting that I can continue expanding as long as its history continues, and Summer Camp has always been one of my favourite venues for doing so. Even if the expansions are often more side-attractions, like with Kitti-Fae. Everything new is some little tidbit an NPC could later mention, or a later hook that the next party I run with (as my first campaign is steadily drawing closer to its end) in my Campaign 2. That's a lot of text, I know, and I haven't even reached a discussion on themes. I even put the word 'themes' in the header, and yet we're this far in without mentioning them. Right, so, last year, Summer Camp had an underlying set of themes to work with. They weren't stated anywhere, they weren't obviously told to us, and thus that meant there was no planning ahead (as is usually the nature of Summer Camp, with the exception of 2018. I do still miss the 2018 method of doing prompts). It still led to a rather natural progression of tying one article to another - Kylmävikk Desert to Dwarf's Beard to the Vaeltajat and To Walk the Unguided Path, to illustrate the point a little, especially when other articles I had already tied into this as well. Knowing the themes ahead of time this year means I can target that more easily. Accoriding to the homework, this year's themes are:
- Expanse: deserts, prairies, oceans, urban expanse, pocket dimensions, planes of existence, or nebulas.
- Leadership: monarchs, presidents, generals, revolutionaries…
- Discovery: research, exploration, and investigation.
- Monstrous: things considered villainous, cruel, unlucky, unnatural, or just “wrong”!
- I will attain Diamond in Summer Camp (again)
- I will attempt to generate all images through the use of AI
1920s underwater city burns at the end of the world, cyberpunk, retro, fantasy, semi-realistic by Hanhula via Midjourney
Homework #2: ThemesDid you think I'd actually plan this out and read ahead with the weekly homeworks? Hell no. I pretty much answered this week's homework in the above section, seeing as Homework #2 is to think about the themes fit into my world. Now, the homework does suggest that I fill out Istralar's world meta. This is something I've tried to do a couple times and always ended up giving up on - partly because of distractions, partly because I have trouble summing up Istralar. Some worlds are beautifully cohesive in theme. Istralar is not; Istralar is dark, yet light. Ridiculous, yet deadly serious. It's a pain to try and sum up. I've tried. Something I will note is that I hadn't considered that the themes would relate to each section of the prompts, in that Expanse is Copper, Leadership is Silver, and the like. I'm not sure how I feel about that; I worry that rather than the balanced, varied prompts we usually get where I can choose to lean one direction or another, this might pigeonhole the prompts too much. I'm more excited to write for expanse - those beautiful, vast spaces that I rarely touch on, places for my players to hear about and worry or wonder - than I am to write about politics and leadership, particularly in a time when real-world politics have caused so much pain as of late. The monstrous prompts? Those might be my favourites. I can't wait to give my players more things to be scared of. Though, knowing my players... they might just be attracted to the monsters. They're not even bards. They're just like this.
Homework #3: InspirationI dislike trying to find inspirations for particular pieces of writing before we even have the prompts, even if we do have the themes this time around. And yet this week's homework is to gather numerous points of inspiration and link them all together here; colour schemes and photo galleries and such. I have a place I tend to find inspiration, and a few Discord channels in which I keep said inspiration. That place is Tumblr, and those discords are private. Still, let me link a few:
Chess Mashup Art Challenge 2022 by Mindy Lee
Art by Cosimo Galluzzi
Art by Goñi Montes