WorldEmber 2023: Pledge & Announcement in Istralar | World Anvil

WorldEmber 2023: Pledge & Announcement

Heeeeeeere we go again!
  Good [timezone], dear readers! It's yet again somewhere in November - I've started writing this mid-November, but who knows when you'll see it. Hopefully before the start of December. It is once again time for WorldEmber, WorldAnvil's other yearly writing competition. I'm not going to lie, I'm still somewhat recovering from writing almost 65k words in a month for Summer Camp, but that doesn't mean I'm going to not do WorldEmber.   Plus, I've got news! Fun news! I've been developing something very very cool! WorldAnvil released the beta version of its Boromir API in something like September - October, so I obviously immediately asked for access and then immediately started poking things. Some of you in the community already have access to the tool I'm making, because no good hobbyist developer throws stuff into the world without first testing it on their friends, so I hope it's been useful. The tool's name is Brigid, and we'll talk about her in a little while.   Also, obviously, it's spreadsheet time again. As per usual, I've made a tracking spreadsheet for WorldEmber. Here's the link to it! Make a copy as you like. Want to see my personal one? I'll embed it here:  
  Now, WorldEmber is a competition to write 10k words in a month. As I am a verifiable wordy bitch (please refer to the aforementioned 65k words in a month), this isn't really hard for me. What's challenging is actually wrestling the time to write that much in December, the one month that my family basically monopolises all my time for. That's going to be fun. My wonderful partner, Austin, has also now moved over to join me here whiiiich... means less time to write, because I do actually enjoy spending time with my partner and also his sleep schedule is very different to mine. So - yes. Fun. I've got plans, don't worry.   Though really, if we're going into plans, it's probably best to jump straight into the WorldEmber homework. I've got a lovely habit of ignoring homework until it's due, so the fact that I'm starting this on the 13th of November is somewhat hilarious. (And you, the reader, can have a laugh at how long it's inevitably been since that point when you read this and check the publication date. Watch this go up like, an hour before WE starts.) As a general reminder - or as information to anyone new who's somehow stumbled across this (hello!) - here's the link to the WorldEmber Prep page.  

Week 1: Pledge Your Goal

Ah yes, deciding what we'll do. I already have a rough idea of what I want, so let's dive into the two-parter this is.  

Choose an area of focus

I've spent a lot of time pre-WorldEmber preparing my world for more general consumption. Using Brigid, I've been tagging articles with things like 'continents-north' (for Iskaldhal) or 'empires-althn' for the Aletheian Empire. The statistics page has thus been able to show me a rather comprehensive view of which areas I have put a large amount of focus on, and which ones I've ignored.   Rather notably, despite being the main area for my campaign of seven-ish years, Valathe has barely been touched on for actual development. Whilst I've got an old map of it banging around somewhere in the echoing halls of my PC's filesystem, it's old and a number of the countries have changed since I first wrote them.  
Even worse: there's barely any of Valathe's countries on WorldAnvil. Every other continent has a comprehensive list of nations. I think Valathe currently only has.. the Aletheian Empire, the Medimian Empire, Gothadrun, Vostene Republic, Ordan, and-- well, I thought there was an and, but then I tried to tag the nation I was referring to and that one doesn't bloody exist on here either! Valathe is somewhat unique in that it is dominated by two huge empires, much like Europe in the late 19th century - if you think it odd to have two empires on one small corner of the map, then please, check out the maps of when the Austro-Hungarian Empire, British Empire (I guess), Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, and German Empire all were active at the same time.   Much like that powderkeg, too, Valathe has recently exploded into bloody war between the two empires and their respective allies. On the surface, it might seem clear-cut in who to root for - Medimia is very clearly backed by devils and Aletheia by angels - but this is Istralar. There's always nuance. There has to be.   Anyway, the dominance of two nations does not mean there are only like, five existing countries on the entire continent. South of Medimia and east of Aletheia, there's quite a number of much smaller nations with their own tricky geopolitics. There's also the subsidiary nations and groups who were subjugated. To return to my Europe analogy, because Valathe is my oldest area of development and thus reflects my Eurocentric norm since I didn't really venture out of my comfort zone when I started writing, Poland never lost its identity even when it was partitioned over and over again and lost its status as a nation for over a century. That's the case for a number of nations on Valathe, too, that were absorbed into the two behemoth empires or otherwise captured in war. And of course, there are all of the different peoples who live and wander the surface.
  But if I just write geography and political relations and such for all of WorldEmber, I will be bored shitless. I need variety. It's why I like SC. There's a few Shards I need to write, so I'll probably do one of those. I want to come up with some new drugs or other fun conditions to hit my players with (or let them use against others), so that also seems fun. I wouldn't mind getting a chance to do some more storytelling through documents, and obviously, I need to do at least one character. Characters are my favourite.   I think that just about covers choosing an area. I'm not sticking to this too closely, but it's good guidance.  

Create your pledge

  I want you all to know that at first, I closed the homework doc here and then left it for like, three weeks. And then had to wrestle with a frankly irritating amount of software to get the pledge to LET ME PLEDGE IT. I suffered for this one.  


WorldEmber 2023 Pledge by Hanhula, I Guess

  Tada! It's a pledge. There's nothing much more to say, really, other than to point out that the red clashes with Istralar's colours pretty horrendously. Could I have changed the colours? Yes. Did I? No. Am I feeling particularly sassy as I write this? Yes. It gets to sit in the pretty art box, even though that's fairly pointless for it, because I think that's funny right now. That should be very telling of my state as I do this mess of homework. I could be reading Harrow the Ninth right now. The things I do for badges.   Also, in case it's not obvious - yes, I'll be competing in WorldEmber! I do two (2) WorldAnvil competitions every year, and have done them every single year. I missed out on completing WorldEmber 2019 because I forgot to finish up the Verdant Haze or the Endless Archive in time (but.. somehow won something for Lukas Falkenrath that year?), but I have otherwise completed and competed in every WorldEmber and every Summer Camp since I joined in Feb 2018. Life goes on, carrying with it this constant. Unless my AC breaks and it's over 40C all summer, in which case I'll probably just melt into a puddle and not finish any words, let alone 10k.  

Submit your homework

This is a bullet point on the homework so uh...   DONE  

Week 2: Prepare your Area of Focus

Honestly, considering I'm focusing on areas I've already spent a lot of time in mentally, this one's pretty easy for me to check off. Let's see...  

Create a mini-meta

God damn it. If you know me, you know I despise doing metas. I don't feel they're useful for how I work creatively! My brain just prefers things not to be in the logical, consistent structure a meta provides. Istralar's meta exists, but it's a hot mess. I'd know - I wrote it. For this one, I don't particularly care to even do it - I'll be jumping around in my area of focus, and will be wandering beyond it as well. Thus - I don't think it'd be useful!   Instead, you can enjoy these lovely few sentences of me rambling. You know, Mochi challenged me to make my homework longer than theirs, and then told me theirs is over 6k words. I'm at 1.6k. I don't think I'm beating theirs. Anyway. On with the homework, it's almost the 1st in my timezone.  

Set up a solid category structure

Ah, this is going to be an easy week, then.   So - Istralar's organisation. It comes up every now and again, and I continue to remain happy with how my organisational system works. If you'd like a rundown, it's something like:
  • Major topic
  • Minor topic
  • Specific topic
  • For instance, for a random citizen of the Aletheian Empire like, say, Aetha Tinuval, you'd go:
  • Locations (as characters do in fact belong to places!)
  • Western Continent of Valathe
  • The Aletheian Empire
  • Aletheian Inhabitants
  • It's nice and tidy, and if that "inhabitants" folder ends up with too many people in it, I'll break it down further into social classes, members of organisations, et cetera. I've also started using Brigid to tag things, so at some point you'll see a few tag indexes appear to easily search for, say, all elven characters.  

    Look at other worlds for inspiration

      This is the one section I could spend absolutely hours on if I so wished, and probably crash WA in the meantime. There are so many beautiful worlds out there. Every year, I find new worlds that absolutely blow me away. I'm going to attempt to be very restrained about this, this year, because I really don't want to be here for six hours just fangirling over worlds. I do that enough in the Discord!  

    sapphic love in space

    We didn't believe in angels until they invaded. One by one, the sunscrapers of Mercury fell. At Penumbra, we fight back. -— A wiki for Solaris, a sapphic space opera

      Need I say aught about Solaris? Whether you seek beauty in some of the cleanest design on WorldAnvil, or emotion in the wonders Nnie evokes, Solaris gives the gift of intrigue, wonder, and a strange sense of longing when you delve far enough into its pages.

    Ethnis sprawls 1800 years into the future, beyond holocene extinction, alien occupation, and the discovery of magic. It's a canvas for roleplay, stories, and a card-based TTRPG ruleset. Come get lost in our dreams and nightmares.

      Ethnis will ever and always be my favourite source of inspiration. Ademal, Barron, and the rest of the Ethnis gang together have created a world that fully draws you in, creating a sense of immersion I rarely feel when wikiwalking through WA. Their CSS is frankly incredible, too, which helps! I've come to expect the unexpected from every notification they send my way, and I love the pinprick goosebumps some of their articles evoke.
      Honestly, at this point, do I need to say anything about why or how Stormy is inspiring?! Cathedris is beautifully morbid in the grandiosity of its dead, and the living inhabitants are delightfully complex. And if you thought Ethnis's technical prowess, CSS-wise was amazing, Stormbril regularly wakes up and chooses to defy reality. In or outside of worldbuilding, that's a major thumbs up from me.
      Now, I have a privilege not many of you share. Owl, the author of Vertinall, is one of my closest friends IRL, and one of my most roleplay-loving friends. The stories we tell together in the campaigns we're in are some of my favourite, so it comes as no surprise that as he gets further into WorldAnvil and comes up with new ways to figure out the site, his stories here are as brilliant - if not more! - than the ones he shares with us in private.   The levity injected into topics one might consider somewhat serious is fantastic, and there's always an undercurrent of whatthefuckery that is my favourite. He's also a master at hiding secrets in plain sight; I'm sure he's been doing that (however intentionally) throughout Vertinall, because the brat loves doing it in campaigns too!
      "Hey Han," you ask. I look up from my list of five billion tabs and blink owlishly in your direction, likely because I was just writing about Owl. I wait. You point at the top of that section, where I said I'd try to be restrained. I look at the five billion tabs, and heave a sigh.   Look. There's too many good worlds, and too many kind people. We're going to just have to deal with a sidebar from hereon out.  

    Other Inspirations

      If you've managed to find me on other social media (no prizes for guessing what my username is on every platform..), then you may be aware of my habit of diving into new fandoms and gathering gems from each and every one, hoarding moments and memories as inspiration for just about every facet of my world. Istralar's inspirations have been many over the years. Right now, I'm reading the Locked Tomb series, so expect to see more necromantic influence - especially as I have Morgan's "In Spite of the Inevitable" to read next! But aside from that, have some other sources of inspiration:  
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld - yes, all of it. Every single book.
  • Dragon Age - the concepts of lyrium and the Fade were inspirations for Istralar right at its beginning, and remain at its core.
  • Final Fantasy XIV - there's quite a lot to be drawn from FFXIV, but for now, let's focus on heroes and villains. Some of the best villains will be the heroes of their own story - and indeed, you may even think they deserve to win.
  • Homestuck - time and space, dreams and reality, life and death. In the games of gods, there are no limits on what the pawns may be. And what is death but another layer to the mystery?
  • His Dark Materials - Kill your gods. Let the world succeed in spite of them. Tear down barriers between worlds, and realise the cost at which that comes. Everything has a price.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons - No, really, KILL YOUR GODS. Live in hollow corpses and fight for survival in a dying land.
  • Disco Elysium - God, I haven't even finished playing this yet and it's already on The List. Seek the unusual in the mundane, and let different facets of personality tug you in different ways. Not everything has to be a mystery, but some of it might be. Also, politics are not inherently bad to include in your worldbuilding and even utterly vile characters with politics you as an author vehemently disagree with can be vital to amazing stories. There's a level of discomfort that should be felt with some villains, but take care with it.
  • Good Omens - Morality and the system of alignment do not need to be adhered to. Fuck the system.
  • Lord of the Rings - It's pretty much obligatory, isn't it.
  • I'm going to stop myself from going on an entire ramble through every book, game, tv show, film, anime, manga, and webcomic I've read/seen/played, actually. You get the idea. We're moving on. Also, play Disco Elysium.  

    Week 3: Welcome your readers!


    Review your homepage

      My issue with this sort of homework task is that I always struggle to figure out how to word what I'm looking at. I like my homepage right now; the improvements I want to make to it are mostly upgraded visuals rather than functionality. I don't have time, patience, or money enough to do exactly what I want to the front page at the minute, and most everything a newcomer to Istralar would need is presented right there, in their face, the moment they take a wander downwards into starry oblivion.   I mean, I could make the page gyrate, but I don't think anyone would be happy about that.  

    Week 4: Last minute prep

    Use this week for any remaining prep you need to make sure everything is ready before December 1st
    — the homework
      Whoops. It's quite literally December 1st in my timezone as I write this, and I certainly didn't do TOO much prep this week! That being said, I've done a lot this year to make sure my world is far more organised and far more ready for WorldEmber. I've got tea aplenty, my air conditioning is being fixed at noon (or, well, it's meant to be...), and an entire list of ideas. And my campaign's on hold until after xmas, so - no prep/game interruptions, woo!   Now, why don't we talk about the tool I've made that made prepping a bit easier?  

    Announcing Project Brigid

    Some of you already knew this secret, as my willing test subjects.. thank you for helping out, and for keeping quiet!
    — me
      As soon as I received my WorldAnvil application key to develop something fun for the community, I wanted to try my hand at making a mobile app for the site. Unfortunately, we're not quite there. I had been trying to get the editor finished and ready for WorldEmber when my AC died, and it's just not possible for me to code without that - it's too hot in my room!   Fortunately, though, Brigid is still a wonderful tool with wonderful capabilities, and I'll be continuing my work on my custom editor when the cooling is back and when I'm not buried deep in WorldEmber writing. When the editor's done - I'm porting the entirety of Brigid onto Android at minimum. You'll be able to use WA from an actual app! It'll work offline to an extent, too, hopefully!  

    Wait Han what is Brigid anyway

      Oh I'm glad you asked.   Project Brigid, as it currently is on 01/12/2023, is a website that allows you to view your articles, sort them, filter them, add tags to them quickly and easily (you can even paste them in), edit excerpts, view world-based statistics, and export your entire world to a CSV file. It also has a full search that will let you search across EVERY FIELD in EVERY ARTICLE for information (so long as that info is available through the API). For the tech nerds among us, it's a React and Next app, and I'll gladly take help with working on it if any fellow coders are interested!   Here are some screenshots of Brigid at the moment!     Brigid can be accessed here. If you find a bug, want to request a feature (please, request anything you think would be useful!), or want to help develop it, the GitHub tracker is here. The project is opensource, so you're also welcome to spin off your own version, too!   I hope this helps some of you to find stubs to work on during WorldEmber, or otherwise to organise your world! I'll endeavour to keep making it more useful, too!  
      To finish up, let's just have a quick reminder of something in the real world. As some of you know, I moved to Australia a while ago (I'm English). Australia always was and always will be Aboriginal land. Sovereignty was never ceded. Here, there's a long-standing tradition of respect and acknowledgment for the people who have lived here for so long, whose country this will always be. And so I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that I live on today, for it is their long history of storytelling that shapes so much memory and life today.   I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. I recognise their continuing connection to this land and its waters.   If you have never heard this acknowledgement before and would like to know more, the Wurundjeri have a website here, and the Acknowledgement of Country is explained here. And since we're all storytellers - here's a narration of one of their stories, the tale of Bunjil!  

    Cover image: WorldEmber 2023 Pledge cover by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


    Please Login in order to comment!
    Nov 30, 2023 16:31 by TJ Trewin

    Brigid is so so so good and I've really been enjoying using it :D I'm so grateful for the work you've put into it and for your trust in letting me try it out!! <3   Good luck in your WorldEmber progress this year :D I can't wait to see what crazy-awesome things you come up with next!!

    Journals of Yesteryear
    You're invited to explore my new world!
    Nov 30, 2023 17:34 by Chris L

    A shoutout! Much thanks for including my work in your inspiration sidebar! You are definitely one of mine as well! Also, also, you have made me realize how lackluster my link blurb was and I have now rewritten it!

    See WorldEmber 2023 Hub for my WorldEmber progress.

    Check out my challenge winning article: Ghost Boy.

    Nov 30, 2023 18:10 by Keon Croucher

    Ahhh Han the madness and chaos is beautiful, you crazy crazy person you. I wish you the best run this WorldEmber and may you awaken at the end of a december fuelled by....I don't even know what, and blink in confusion as you have smashed any and all of your own expectations :)

    Keon Croucher, Chronicler of the Age of Revitalization
    Nov 30, 2023 20:23

    I hope you have a lovely WorldEmber! <3

    Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
    Nov 30, 2023 22:00 by Rin Garnett

    I feel like we absolutely did not keep quiet about Brigid and how awesome it is. Also, you should definitely make your homepage gyrate and share the code along with spincycle, just for the funsies.   Love that you included the Acknowledgement of Country and information about the Wurundjeri. I don't know much of Australian history or current events, so thank you for sharing something so important!

    Nov 30, 2023 22:01 by Angantyr

    Brigid looks super loaded iwth possibilities, especially in the upcoming event, where time is precious. A hundred thanks for her and the Tracker. They make a huge change!   Best of luck during WorldEmber!

    Playing around with words and worlds
    Dec 1, 2023 03:52 by Dimitris Havlidis

    Best of luck with your Worldember Han. This is an incredible start with Brigid, can't wait to find out where you will go with this. Thank you <3

    World Anvil Founder & Chief Grease Monkey
    Twitter | World Anvil Changelog
    “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” - Aesop

    Dec 1, 2023 07:29 by Dragon

    I'm looking forward to seeing my world grow on Brigid during December! :D ...and now I won't have to worry about keeping track of tags anymore. x3

    Dec 1, 2023 12:14 by E. Christopher Clark

    Ooh, so many awesome things here: Brigid, your cool and intuitive categorization system, and the land acknowledgement at the end, just to name a few. Also: thanks for the shout-out. I really appreciate being mentioned in such great company.

    Check out my progress on the Cabinet of Curiosities
    Dec 1, 2023 13:15 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

    Yay for Brigid! I have been enjoying using it so much. <3   Good luck in WE this year! I'm excited to read your stuff.   Also, I love the Acknowledgement of Country. Thanks for including that.

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    Dec 19, 2023 10:31 by Nimin N

    Thank you featuring Rosepetal, it's always a little humbling when I see my world being mentioned as a source of inspiration, especially by people I consider being one for me. Good luck with the remainder of WE, Influence of the Shards and Verdant Haze were great so looking forward to what's coming next. :)   And also, thank you so much for your work on Brigid. I've only recently started testing it out on my own, and I'm so impressed with it. The functionality it has is amazing, and the clean interface is such a comfort for my brain and eyes. Once the editor is in, and an android app pops up, it'll probably become my go to for posting and editing articles.