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.  

Homework #1: Goals, Motivations, and Themes

There 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”!
  As someone writing an RPG world, all of these should be interesting. Expanse lends itself to discussion of the Southern Continent of Takawaoku, which I have recently mapped, as well as further detail into places like the Sunari Wilderness, the Tulaant Steppe, and Kylmävikk Desert on the Eastern and Northern continents respectively. My players are also tentatively considering the idea of creating new planets or reforging the long-since-broken Terra Arcana, so there's every chance I'll have the opportunity to write up a lovely mournful piece on Terra Arcana prior to the Worldrend - though this would also answer a few burning questions the players have, so I might need to be careful on that one.   Leadership is another easy theme for most worlds, I'd think. I don't actually have too many leaders fully written up on here. Oh, there are certainly some - Ypolita Ouranios and Emperor Aneirin 'Cyne' of Aletheia, for example. But I've not written much outside of those who are campaign-relevant. The Emperor of the Medimian Empire is just as important as Emperor Aneirin, and currently has extreme campaign relevance - and yet he has no article. Riven Drast is the most powerful revolutionary upon the planet, but he is certainly not the only one worth talking about.   Discovery and monstrous go well together, especially given that my players are exploring a land that's mostly unknown to them. They're currently, as of writing this, beneath the deserts of Areshket and dealing with the whims of a demon lord, but there are whole twisted areas of the Southern Continent's map for them to discover, and countless horrifying creatures for them to find. And that's just in the South. Who knows what might be elsewhere that they've managed to miss. They certainly never figured out where the drow of Iskaldhal were.   That, I suppose, brings me to the challenge goal, and to my personal additional goal. Yes, I've added another goal, don't question it:
  • I will attain Diamond in Summer Camp (again)
  • I will attempt to generate all images through the use of AI
  Going for Diamond is, at this point, expected. I do it every year, it's really fun, I don't think I need further discussion there. What I will discuss further is my personal goal. I've recently had the opportunity to be part of the Midjourney beta, and that AI absolutely blew my mind with how accurate and fantastic it is - not to mention the skill and artistry on show. I'll include a few images, here:     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!  

Homework #2: Themes

Did 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: Inspiration

I 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
  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 #4: Planning

Ah yes. That thing I totally do: planning. Well, I've taken the first and largest step towards planning out my summer camp, which is that big spreadsheet all the way back up the top there. Have a look and marvel: that is where my ideas will flow. This week's blog post suggests that I should make a date with myself to sit down and write. That's not really easy for me; life's often too crazy, especially nowadays. I like writing best when I do it in the evenings - when I can slip out of Teamspeak or any Discord calls and sit down with just myself, some music, maybe a mug of hot chocolate, and my computer. I'll even dim the lights sometimes, if I want to be cosy. I can lose myself in my words and the scenes in my imagination, that way, and whatever comes out on the page tends to reflect my thoughts well enough.   It's this that I'll do this year again, not any set dates. If I set myself deadlines, I'll grow anxious and miss them - which is especially a problem as I'm leaving for Europe on the 29th of July. One of my dearest friends and my GM is getting married to one of the sweetest women on this planet, and I can't wait to celebrate them in the Netherlands - and then I'm off to the UK shortly after to spend time with my family. And I get to have my beloved there! We've been dating for seven years, and not once have we been able to properly have time together. That's going to be distracting me all through July because I can't wait to go!   Personal shenanigans aside, the blogpost also mentions Summer Camp communities. Now, if you're somehow following this without knowing that I'm a moderator over on the WorldAnvil discord, I'm very surprised. I'll be chatting and hanging out there as usual, but I'll also be sharing and updating and theorising with my Chapter - TableTale. TableTale is a group I run on the WA server that's dedicated to worldbuilding for TTRPGs, and I adore them. They come up with some insane things, and they have some very crazy stories. I'm looking forward to seeing what they all put out this year - our chapter tracker is already running and I'm hyped to see where they all go with it!

Cover image: Summer Camp 2022 Cover by Hanhula (edit of Asad Photo Maldives)


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Journeyman TheDumbOwl
Alex (TheDumbOwl)
27 Jun, 2022 08:51

My favourite time of the year, where I can obsess and dive into your world lore!   You always smash the prompts out of the park, and create a perfect balance between levity and seriousness, and I cannot wait for what’s in store this month.

28 Jun, 2022 12:22

What a beautiful and cohesive Summer Camp article. You have given me inspiration and resources. Thank you.

Featured Articles in the Shadow War across Creation by Graylion

1 Jul, 2022 12:54

I'm interested in your goal of generating more AI art/imagery for your articles... it's something I might consider too! Even though I'm an artist, there's just no way I have enough time to personally illustrate everything I want!! Either way I'm so excited for SummerCamp to kick off!

Seek a new dawn, in Malkora!
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
4 Jul, 2022 11:59

That tracker looks fantastic, nice work! I've also just gone and applied to the Midjourney beta myself; those results look incredible.

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