Worldbuilding Awards 2024 - Istralar's Entries in Istralar | World Anvil

Worldbuilding Awards 2024 - Istralar's Entries

Hello all! Welcome back to another little meta discussion! This time, it's awards shenanigans. I'm writing this with a banging migraine, so please excuse the inevitable typos!
— Han
Another year, another set of awards. If you haven't heard of the Worldbuilding Awards, you can find the details here, but the summary is that WorldAnvil got us to submit a bunch of our favourite pieces of work for consideration in a number of categories. Both those in the community and those outside it can vote for their favourite entries from each list, and the winners will be recognised by WorldAnvil themselves.   I've entered a number of WA's best-of competitions. I got an alright position in 2018, before it was more of a formal process, and I beliieve one of my pieces of writing in 2019 was up for some vote or another? It's been a long time since then, and the process became significantly more formal in 2020. Since then, I've not gotten anywhere near being nominated for an overall award, but it's a bit of a yearly ritual at this point to choose some of my favourite works from the past year and throw them up for consideration. So it is that we've come to another year, and so it is that I'm again throwing my work under the critical eye of the public!   (No, it doesn't get any easier. Writing and worldbuilding for me are very personal experiences, and it's always nerve-wracking knowing that people will be reading what I've written and comparing it to others, or criticising what I've done. We have some amazing writers in this community and it's very humbling to think that one might read some of my work, and then something of Solaris, Ethnis, Cathedris, Yonderverse, Wizard's Peak, Melior, or any of the other brilliant worlds that grow better with each new contribution to them.)   As some of the others have done, then, I'd like to collate this year's nominations into this one article for easy reference. Please note that Istralar is not up for consideration for any of the World categories as I don't feel like my CSS is ready for that level of scrutiny or competition yet, nor do I feel like my world has reached a point where I'd like to have it considered for Best World. This is partially also because of the rule preventing re-running if you are nominated; I don't want to be disqualified from the competition now when I might have done so much more by next year! I have also not submitted any maps or timelines as I've still got work to do on bringing those aspects of Istralar onto WorldAnvil.   I'll likely make a second article later on - after the migraine's left, I've slept, and I've got a shortlist together - covering my thoughts on some of the other entries!

Bonus Trivia

Did you know Istralar has an official logo? I don't really have anywhere to use it except for the Istralar Discord, so it doesn't get seen much. So... here!  
by Hanhula
  I made this all myself! Painted the background, created the SVG. Well, didn't make the font, but y'know.

Best Article - Influence of the Shards

Rarely do I get to delve so deeply into the main antagonists of Istralar's campaign. The Shards are fallen deities warped into reality-altering horrors by an unknown force, and it is the duty of the Lost Ones - my party, who have been adventuring in Istralar since early 2016 - to find a way to save or destroy them and in turn save their world. Influence of the Shards covers why their grim mission is so very necessary. It speaks on how each and every Shard seeks to shatter and remake the world under their touch, and how countless souls and histories have already been broken or lost to their devastating force.   We see glimpses into the lives of those affected, mortal and immortal, and into the way each Shard has twisted their area of influence. We see hints of what is to come, and what could be. To date, this is perhaps the most thorough documentation of overall Shardic influence both in and out of Istralar, and it was an absolute joy to finally write so many of these puzzle pieces onto the same page. Even the overall Shards page doesn't quite go so hard on what they do. I'm very, very proud of this.   The alternate-colour CSS, too, was a delight to do for this one. This is one of very few articles in Istralar to use an alternate colour scheme, and I ended up changing the existing Shards CSS around somewhat for it. It definitely gets the dark and edgy vibes across!  
The grandiose influence painted across Istralar's worn canvas is never obvious enough to notice...
— Influence of the Shards
Tradition / Ritual | May 18, 2024

A ritual by which one can become their heart's true self.

Created For
Summer Camp 2023 & the overall LGBTQ+ community
Significant (in and out of world, honestly, on a personal level)

Hearts & Minds - Seabirth

An article touching on intellectual, sociological, spiritual or cultural accomplishments and traditions of a people in your world.   The real world, these days, has been feeling increasingly hostile to us in the queer community. In particular, there has been a wave of vile hatred towards trans folk. It's been horrific to watch, especially from writers and other public figures I once looked up to when I was younger. In many ways, Seabirth is my way of protesting that foul treatment. It's also a love letter to the trans and nonbinary people in my life, for there are many and they're all wonderful. And it's a reminder that Istralar is not a world founded on hatred.   Istralar is, instead, a world of opportunity. For those with the determination to be themselves, the world will provide. Seabirth isn't a complicated ritual, nor one demanding expensive components. It's tied into the traditions of those belonging to the sea, yes, but it isn't held as an exclusive right, and knowledge of it isn't hidden in the world. Realistically, then, gender euphoria can be available to anyone in Istralar driven to look into the possibility. I think that's important, actually. I so often play with dark, heavy, and oppressive themes - just look at Coruscia and Mindblot - that it's good to focus on the joys of life, too.  
There have always been those who realise their bodies do not necessarily suit them, and there have always existed solutions.
— Seabirth

Rise of Nations - Nobility of Galasthin

An article relevant to the history of civilisations and peoples of your world, and their legacies.   Surprise, an article not from any challenge! Nobility of Galasthin is one of those key structural articles I've done for Istralar's politics, which really go deeper than I ever take much care to explain. It's an introduction to the nine noble houses of Galasthin and the mysterious, hidden-away rulers that have lead the country through its strange, mythical past. Here, we get a rare glimpse at the ancient history of elves, world-hoppers as they are, and the names they carry with them. Here, we see how a nation might have maintained itself across planets and millennia, and might have survived the rise and fall of its own empire.   We see nobility, yes, but not in as traditional a role as one might expect. Here, the nobles have great weights to shoulder. They are not born to complete luxury and freedom as some might be, and they serve their people so thoroughly that their ruler is stripped of even the ability to have her name be known. And yet flashes of what we expect still shine through in their attitudes and traditions, inclusive to few save their own, and the existence of a noble class at all.  
The grandest of us are not those born with titles, but those born titled must bear responsibility for their privilege nonetheless. Their privilege - and our legacy.
— Nobility of Galasthin

Wondrous Nature - Vivopage

Your natural world in all its glory — an article describing anything from species to locations, to natural and supernatural events, and bizarre naturally-occurring materials.   I'm not going to lie, I did not expect the little fluttery animated book-pages to capture hearts as much as they did. I wanted to submit Caretaker of the Last Light as my entry for this category, but alas, the article type restrictions prevented me from doing so, so instead we get to revisit the absolute childish joy of vivopages! They're a very, very simple concept: pages of text that have come to life, animating themselves through the sheer ambient magic around them. They're one of the many mysterious lingering effects of arcane magic, which has ever been a source of confusion, chaos, and creation throughout Istralar's history, and I love having creatures like vivopages exist as visual storytelling as to why so many people (and gods!) were freaked out by the advent of arcane magic in the first place.   But honestly, I also just find them sweet. Being followed home from a library by a wise old book that's trying to keep an eye on you? Adorable. Having paper swarm you because you folded the corner of a book page? Hilarious. The fact that this entire article implies Istralar's WorldAnvil is sentient in-universe and is choosing to write to the reader? Precious.  
Some vivopages have even paired with particularly promising scholars to teach them the wisdom of their years, and enjoy living vicariously through whichever poor sod has given into them.
— Vivopage

Strength & Honour -Alysia's Farewell

An article relevant to the interactions of the people of your world across a grand scale — diplomacy, war, trade and collaboration, and the people who drive and engineer them.   This was perhaps the hardest article I've ever written simply because I could not see the screen for half of it. Alysia's Farewell is a hero's contemplation of her own impending sacrifice and suicide, and the goodbye letter she leaves to the brother for whom she completes her final act of good. It's a sister trying to pour every ounce of the love she holds for her brother into words because she knows that she'll never be able to share that love with him again, perhaps not even in the afterlife. And she knows how hard it's going to be, with all the responsibilities he's going to have to shoulder and the horrific tear that her absence will leave in his life, but this is something she has to do - not only to save him, but to save their entire nation.   Loss and grief are such hard topics to handle. This one comes from my heart-- I'm a sister who nearly lost her brother once, too. Take with you some tissues and a mug of something warm when you go into this, especially if you listen to my reading of Alysia's letter.  
I asked him what it's like to die. He gave me a hug. His pains were brief, he said. You don't hold onto them when you're dead. Pain is for the living.
— Alysia

Pillars of Progress - Qualic Scriptorium

An article describing a technological or scientific (including metaphysical) accomplishment, or celebrating creations developed by the people of your world.   It's been over a year since I wrote the Scriptorium and I'm still as in love with the idea of it as I was when I wrote it. In essence, the Scriptorium is a library of memories. Every tiny facet of memory, not just the big ones. Every moment and feeling that goes into life is captured here and remembered. Sothime, the deity of this realm, treasures life in their own alien way, and it is the Scriptorium's endless shelves of mortal experiences that serve as this beautiful repository and reminder of life even as we linger on the fact that this is inevitably a realm treaded by the dead.   This is also where Istralar's universe starts feeling a little less pure fantasy, perhaps, if you look at the designs involved: sharp edges, hexagons, and glittering golds and blacks that might make sense in a more sci-fantasy setting. As we begin to see more of Istralar's deities, that's going to be a trend. Fantasy is for mortals. In the outer realms, there are no limits on what can be.   Also, much as I don't like bees, the bee-inspired melissa are still precious to me. I love the idea of little orb-friends flitting around trying to catalogue every experience that's ever been experienced. It's a labour of great care that's utterly incomprehensible to us as mortals, and I just think that's cool.  
The universe is improved for the Scriptorium's existence; it need not be utterly complete to be useful, and indeed, shall never contain every experience.
— the Qualic Scriptorium

Myths & Legends - Whispers of Divinity

An article describing an aspect of your worldbuilding that's mythical or fictional within the construct of your world, even if it's based on true events.   There are great expanses of lore in Istralar's past that I have never touched on in public. Some, not even my players have heard whisper of. Not all of this is because those aspects have gone unconsidered: sometimes, the secrets are simply secret. Whispers of Divinity serves as a series of linked hints and whispers at what lies beyond the simplicity of Istralar's fantastical veneer, particularly as my first campaign draws ever-closer to its conclusion. My players know well that I plan on removing Istralar's ties to Paizo's Golarion when the game ends - which means that other deities need to rise up.   Here's a mild hint: not all of those new deities will be new to the setting.   Enjoy, for now, this myth telling of what came before. Of entities older than time, of the creation of the universe and indeed magic itself. These are whispers of creation itself, that most ancient and unknown of times that even the most knowledgeable wizards dares not to theorise too strongly about for fear of what attention that might draw. And as with all ominous tellings of times long, long past, these whispers come only in dreams...  
This is a tale of a myth found only in dreams, one that whispers itself to the sleeping dreamers in their gentle slumber...
— Whispers of Divinity


Please Login in order to comment!
Mar 20, 2024 17:36 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Ohhh, this is beautiful. Lovely choices, and good luck! <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Mar 20, 2024 17:59 by Rin Garnett

Very well-organized. Lots of fantastic choices, and the author commentary on them in lovely! Submitting every year regardless of the results sounds like a great tradition to have, too.