Summer Camp 2023 Reading Challenge in Manifold Sky | World Anvil

Summer Camp 2023 Reading Challenge


Howdy, all, and welcome to the official BCGR_Wurth review and recap article for the annual WorldAnvil Summer Camp 2023 challenge! During July, my fellow anvilites and I raced to complete 8, 16, 24, or 32 worldbuilding articles to recieve bronze, silver, gold, or diamond badges respectively - and, most importantly, to expand our worlds and grow as writers. You can find the original challenge page here. In this article, as part of the subsequent Summer Camp Reading Challenge I will be going over a few articles that stand out to me and what lessons can be gleaned from them, reflect a little on what I learned in the course of my own Summer Camp journey, and lay out my plans for the the rest of 2023. Without further ado, onwards!


On Refection

I undertook the Summer Camp challenge in part because I had already set it forth as a part of my New Year's Resolutions for 2023. When I first started on WorldAnvil, I found it much easier to work from prompts than when given open-ended assignments (i.e. WorldEmber 2022 ) because, at that time, my primary world - this one - was still young and in need of fleshing out. As time went on, this state of affairs changed as the portions of the world normally covered by your average article prompts became fleshed out many times over while the structure of the world became robust enough to support more narrative and long-form articles on niche topics.   For this reason, Summer Camp gets harder for me to do every year without retreading old ground or dipping into another world. You can observe this effect in action in my Diamond category prompts, where the articles I submitted were increasingly from other worlds I've worked on between stints developing the Manifold Sky setting; I think Eiquereus Marcasite represents my absoute nadir in terms of trying to fit something heretofore unexplored into the confines of a prompt. On the other hand, articles like Giant Petalcap were great because they fit right away into a prompt and covered something I didn't even realize I had forgotten to flesh out in the midst of everything else. After all, how am I going to have a fungus-themed major geopolitical faction named Petalcap Vale without getting into what the funguses actually look like?   Nevertheless, if I'm required by my own resolutions to work on a challenge, I see no reason to leave a single aspect of the challenge unturned. I didn't just want Diamond - I had to finish it all! And, I'm proud to say, I did just that - even the last-minue bonus challenges. All in all, I'm satisfied with the results and I had fun working on submissions, but I'm also looking forward to a good, long break.


Article Reviews & Lessons Learned

As per the Summer Camp Reading Challenge instructions, here are three challenge prompts and, within them, three articles that stood out to me.


Prompt 1: A Powerful Organization in Your World

Powerful organizations are the movers and shakers in many worlds - whether as protagonists or antagonists, providers of causes or quests, or simply as window-dressing to give a world that authentic 'lived-in' feeling. My submission for this prompt was about the Bureau of Ballot Measures.


Redstone Astronautics Corporation by Fishwe

I'm a huge science fiction/space nerd, so this article caught my attention right away. I really like how there's concrete figures and dates to it, which, along with the presentation, give it a strong air of plausibility. The visual aesthetic of this article is on-point, and I like how there's a sampling of different logos and some propaganda down at the bottom of the page. If I had one suggestion, it would be to make some use of the screen real-estate on the right side of the page - perhaps some short side-notes that lead the reader to tangential, but still related, articles within the same world. Overall, a good read!


Silken Cord Syndicate by ProgBard

I liked this article because it gave a description of an organization that might make for a a good antagonist while also establishing it within a broader criminal underworld structure that might make for interesting intrigue plots. I do think that this article is a little short for my liking - it needs some images, more sections, or more details in the content panel. On the other hand, it's pithy enough that one could see it reasonably placed in a synopsis for a TTRPG setting witohut soaking up the limelight from wider-reaching organizations within that setting.


Visavan Alchemical Institute by FuryouMiko

I liked that this article gave us a more robust sense of the power structure within the organization and its place within the world than usual, complete with short descriptions of each rank rather than leaving most of that behind further articles to be clicked through. That said, it would be nice to see more use of the mentions system here. I also appreciate that there's an attempt made to include elements of the world's linguistics, but without links or external referrences to that language, the use of so many phonetic symbols all together in one place feels excessive and can make parts of the article difficult to parse. This would be a perfect opportunity to work on an orthography!


Prompt 2: A Job that Takes Practitioners to Remote or Far Away Places

In fantasy and science fiction settings especially, a 'long haul' is just another way of saying 'an opportunity for adventure.' My submission for this prompt was about Protectorate Deep Space Colonists.


Planetary Investigator by Mochimanoban

This article is great because it covers a lot of ground - both figuratively and literally - in a relatively short space. We learn a bit about a culture in the world (the oanie), a major trait of that culture (hunger for resources), and something about the geography of that world (a long-settled region of space). I appreciate information density like this because it's really easy for me myself to wax on and on with purple prose about a subject. I also like how the article is well-linked to other parts of the world with mentions and even a block link in the sidebar, giving the reader something to look at where otherwise there would be flat text. If I did have a critique to make, it would be that this article's strength is its greatest weakness: it could stand to be little bit longer, with more detail about what the work of a planetary investigator entails with regards to procedures, equipment, and more.


The Convocation of Folks who Sit in Comfortable Places by TheDumbOwl

I usually don't review intentionally humorous articles, but the title of this one grabbed me. I like how this is delivered from the perspective of a clearly exasperated in-universe chronicler and how it's both wacky and entirely plausible given the context. The crayon-like drawings in the sidebar and the background fit the theming well and, along with the formatting, give the article some visual pizzaz without pushing the boundary of intentionality. I'm torn on the question of whether I want to see about the world presented in this article or if doing so would make the comedy overstay its welcome; given that I haven't, to my knowledge, found that balance in my own attempts at humorous articles, I'm not even sure if that's for me to judge. Anyways, this article was an enjoyable diversion.


Bard by Callyxtus

Like a couple of the previous ones I've looked at so far, this article is mostly text without much in the way of visual embellishment. I do like the inclusion of a video to set the tone, quoted examples of bardic works, and attention to dates and historical events that center the profession in the world rather than relying on external knowledge. It can sometimes be difficult to recontextualize concepts from our own world in this way, as I freqently uncover when working on my science fiction settings. I also appreciated this article for hitting just the right length for the subject - not so long as to make the eyes blur or suggest the application of filler, but not so short as to leave the reader hungry for more context.


Prompt 3: A Form of Silent Communication

Conlanging is great because it really helps to open one's eyes to the myriad unusual ways that information can be conveyed and carries valuable lessons about how people from various backgrounds see and interpret the world. My submission for this prompt was about Lunar Glyphs.


The Language of Bouquets by Autumnkitsune

Using flower arrangements to convey a message has always been interesting to me because its an example of a form of communication that could sit in plain sight without the uninitiated catching on - like a cypher, but without recognizable glyphs. I did something similar with my article on the Silkenvault Cipher, but wish I had gone into as much detail there as Autumnkitsune does here. I like the hand-drawn style of the visual aids and the connections with other articles (Spiculo Moss) within the same challenge season. I also like how there was clear thought put into the details of this language, and if I had one wish, it would be to see more options presented - perhaps through the use of the dictionary feature.


Smudge-Script by Kummer Wolfe

I really liked how tightly Smudge-Script felt integrated into the world by such a concise bit of writing about it. It's interesting how this language is an example of a secret language that tries to blend in with natural forms rather than human-constructed ones, making it that much harder to pick out as a cypher to begin with. The overall aesthetic of the article is nice, complete with an example in the top left corner over the content panel. I would like to see more concrete details about how the language works, but that would have represented a lot of work for a pictographic language given our time constraints during this challenge. There is, however, plenty enough information here about the language's significance in the world, the form it takes, and how it might be executed for it to fulfill its role in a piece of fiction that includes it.


Lattice Squares by Windoula

I like how this language has real-world precedents in Mesoamerican Quipu and Polynesian maps of ocean currents. Like with the other articles above, it also constitutes a form of cypher, which is also very cool. I would love to see more visual elements to break up the blocks of text - perhaps a worked example or, since time was of the essence during this challenge, some headers, placeholders, or images that imply more going on beyond the frame - but the actual content of the article is very nice. Given my own surrealist/non-Euclidean worldbuilding tendencies, I'm intrigued by the idea of a three-dimensional 'lattice cube' and think it would make for an interesting plot point if it were ever discovered.


Six Month Plans

I'm already well on my way to finishing my challenge participation and word count goals for my New Year's Resolutions, and - with the exception of a well-deserved break I have planned for mid-September - I plan to keep pursuing those goals. Articles like The Armorer vs. The Garbage Man may serve as frameworks for a NaNoWriMo submission as part of another resolution. I've been doing some fine-tuning on the BCGR core rules over the course of an extended West Marches style campaign taking place in the shared world of New Generica, which is by increments bringing me closer to getting a finished and possibly release-ready version of the BCGR ruleset per yet another resolution. In short, I've started as I mean to go on, but keep an eye out for interesting developments.


Closing Thoughts

Anyways, that's all for now. Did you finish the challenge? Did you participate in these prompt categories, and if so, what did you get from them? Why l wind up structuring this article like a monthy State of the Manifold journal entry rather than my usual formula? Let me know what you think, Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all on the other end of summer!   Regards,

Cover image: by Sigmund


Please Login in order to comment!
Aug 10, 2023 19:38 by Mochi

Thank you so much for including one of my articles!! That article will definitely get a major facelift after the SC award's ceremony :D

I hope you have a great day!   Explore the endless planets brimming with life of the Yonderverse! Go after creatures, discover new places, and learn about the people you find along the way.   Consider voting for me in the Worldbuilding Awards!
Aug 17, 2023 23:04 by Autumn Riverwood

Thank you for including my language article! I definitely agree with you though, I need to add a dictionary. I'll probably add one right after the awards ceremony! :D