Summer Camp 2023 Reading Challenge
Oh boy. It's certainly been a year...So! Summer Camp 2023. We've certainly done a lot this year thus far - by which I mean, I wrote 42 freaking articles for SC, covering a grand total of 64886 words according to my lovely little spreadsheet. That's... the most I've ever written in a month by far. It was hard! It was really, really hard! I gave myself an ocular migraine through the stress, and got sick multiple times! But I did in the end reach my goal of Diamond & ALL articles done - even with Dimitris and Janet sneaking in two right at the end (which I maintain was CRUEL). I think overall, my personal favourite articles were Alysia's Farewell (which I cried over for three hours as I wrote and recorded it), Leavenisiae Bap (which was fucking hilarious to write), and Caretaker of the Last Light (because I love to play with concepts of death and undeath). Special shoutout to Song of the Falling Stars, which got stuck in my head after I recorded it. I sang it on the way home from work, even. But this isn't an article about me. This is the reading challenge, wherein I try to remember which articles I read and loved. Now, this is a slight issue for two reasons. Reason 1: I have COVID-19 currently. Well, tail end of it, but it's still fucking me up something fierce - I'm meant to be DMing a session right now, but uhhh.. voice and brainfog. Reason 2: I had 1.5k notifications at the end of SC. I read all of them. Now, some of those were likes and comments from the absolutely amazing people in the WA community, but uh - over half were article updates from other people. I challenge you to remember every single article you adored after reading like eight hundred articles. Bloody hell. I don't know how Emy ever manages to keep up with so much. So, I'm going to be somewhat predictable here and just pick prompts based on the ones I *can* remember liking, and mention three for each. You're not getting anything too in-depth from me this time, I'm afraid. I'd like to mention - the articles and authors I've covered here are only some few. I read a lot of fantastic articles this SC, and found even more every time I went to look for more. If I weren't so tired, I'd do a more expansive list of authors I recommend - Ademal and Barron at Ethnis, Mochi with A to Zoo and Yonderverse, Emy/Serukis with Etrea, Qurilion with.. many worlds... there are so many people I could list here. Yet I am very tired and want to have this done, hahah.
A seat of power (of any kind!)
The seat of extraordinary and unbelievable power
A terrifyingly ordinary chair (that's also magical)
The Seat of Extraordinary and Unbelievable Power by TheDumbOwlAlex, my man. My bestie. My dork of a roleplay partner. Cheese-bungling boy-napping legend. I have known for years now that you're a bloody brilliant writer, and it brings me such boundless joy to see that coming to life on WorldAnvil like it does in our roleplays. You flourish when you get to pour your heart into something, whether it be the tragic desperation of a dwarf whose hope is being torn away from him or the ridiculous tale of a legendary baker. Or, in this case, the tale of a chair. Now, I too have written an article on chairs many years ago, but I believe I have been WHOLLY AND RELENTLESSLY OUTCLASSED. The art. The writing. The fact that the chair is legally its own land for some reason. Gods, I love Vertinall.
Of all chairs to exist across the expanse of Vertinall, this is the most chair of them.
Celestial City by YelrafekimYelrafekim is one of those writers who I feel goes really underrated in the WA community for no real reason. Everything I read of theirs is of absolutely exquisite quality. They write in a tone that feels real, like links to their world are portals to the Wikipedia of another world, and the detail they put in is fantastic. Celestial City is a fantastic example of this. They've taken real-world Mongolian culture and married it with fantasy, going in-depth on the exact structures of the walled city and how many it can hold. For such a relatively short article, it packs a lot of detail in. That's genuinely admirable; I struggle to ever be concise!
The walled city was designed to display the awesome power of the Qaghan, to exemplify the virtues of balance and tranquility, and to emphasize the insignificance of the individual.
High Above The Bustling Metropolis Of Rie'shae Looms The Opulent Baroque Majesty Of Ga'venn'shviie; The Ophidian Court, An Imposing Symbol Of Authority And Power Of The Gani'orell Dynasty.
Ga'venn'shviie by ChroniclesOfEvalawAuthors who can paint pictures with their words are my favourite kind. Where Owl uses humour and lighthearted sass and Yelrafekim uses precision and detail, ChroniclesOfEvalaw uses prose. It's one of my favourite things to do, and they do it so well! Ga'venn'shviie does not read as information alone, but as a tale in and of itself. It commands beauty and narrative, paired with some genuinely lovely art. A gem! Honestly, I could highlight so many different parts of this in the quote below. There's character-building and in-character quotes and just. Art, it's art.
I find solace and purpose in the serpentine depths of my faith, where chaos and madness unveil the hidden truths that elude the eyes of the world.
A conflict between two unequal powers in your world
Scorching of Mercury
The Scorching of Mercury, also known as the First Solar Invasion, was an invasion by the angelic armies known today as the Scourge. The invasion destroyed most of Mercurian civilization and radically changed the planet's biosphere across four years.
Scorching of Mercury by NnieAnnie is one of the writers and artists I respect most, and for very good reason. Not only are her designs and artwork beautiful, but her writing is just.. breathtaking. She describes a crisis with the solemn handling it deserves, building the tension up and letting each impact hit like an asteroid, giving the darkness its time to exist in the limelight before moving on. The article ending on a moment of hope is also a genuinely lovely note.
On the fourth year of the invasion, faced with the collapse of her planets ecosystems and the inability of Mercury's army to fight back, the Keystone took things into her own hands.
Dragon Wars by yeslittlehummingbirdAnna, what the fuck. This was for Summer Camp? You and Barron over at Ethnis, I swear to fuck. I don't even know what to focus on here. The conflict itself is masterfully described in all its facets, and the formatting is just.. damn. I've always been a fan of Anna's spoilertag mastery and this really shows how useful that mastery is. The flags for each individual faction, too! Like, even if we ignore all of the incredibly detailed and well written text, the art and formatting alone are stunning on this. Fab.
A symbol of hope for a new life, shattered in one fell swoop... And with it, the last of the Chromatic Dragons' goodwill and attempts at peace.
Living vs. the Dead by AmelianiteThis had me captured from the very first sentence. Starting out a conflict article with a letter from someone who lives in that reality is genuinely a fantastic idea. The speed and viciousness of a zombie infection are both terrifying to imagine, and whilst I'm not generally a fan of zombie narratives, this is an exception. That letter captured me so damn well.
The world ended eight days ago.
A letter sent in secret by a well-known person in your world
A dusty letter found in an abandoned apartment; its recipient missing for months. The letter was from Dr. Anabelle Evingston, high ranking Legion member, sent to her friend Helen before her mysterious disappearance.
Dear Helen by StormbrilSTORMY. THE CSS. WHAT THE FUCK. Someone needs to ban Stormbril from CSS during challenges, this is ridiculous and I love it. x) On the actual contents, though - man. Reading Anabelle's character article makes this hit a lot harder. This is a 100% bona fide fucked up character and her toxic, screwed up self writing this letter and stumbling over her words and trying desperately to communicate friendship and feelings and still falling into unhealthy pitfall traps... It's such good characterisation. Stormy did such a good job with this.
Once you read this, I hope you'll know that's not really me talking, when I say those awful things. That's just "in the heat of the moment" Anabelle. Not really me.
A Confession Veiled in Moonlight by MonzooboThis world is pretty new to me, and that's kind of distressing! I wish I'd found them sooner. Look at this formatting! Sure, it's missing a cover image, but who cares? It's gorgeous, visually, and I am absolutely a hopeless romantic, so the contents have also won me over so easily. A sailor and a noblewoman in her gilded cage.. Man, I adore love stories. Let's hope they have a happier ending than Stormbril's Anabelle is likely to get.
Until the stars align in our favor, I shall cherish the stolen moments we share in my dreams.
In Your Confidence by George SandersSee, this is what I love about Summer Camp. Worlds I'm unfamiliar with that just put out excellent work. I have no context for this letter, yet it stands out. Tooltips dictating where handwriting has shifted? Brilliant idea, love it. I am also so curious about the fingers. Why fingers. This sounds like some fey bullshit, I'm not gonna lie. Is it? I have no idea! But anything that provokes thought and leaves the reader wondering is good.
Do not ask why, but I require three hundred fingers from the enemy you fight in a wooden box.
Ah, a final word. As I've seen more concern rising around this topic, I've updated my disclaimer in the footer of Istralar to note that whilst Istralar uses AI-generated imagery, I support real artists with all of my heart. The topic of AI is understandably controversial, and I have addressed my thoughts on it in Policy on the Use of AI in Istralar. I probably need to update that soon, too. Rest assured that whilst I use Midjourney, it's not for a commercial project, and I make up for it with donations, promotions, purchases, and commissions to actual human artists. Love you all deeply.