A look from beneath the waves - Summercamp 2022 Reading Challenge

Numerous eyes emerge from the depths and gaze through the Anvilspace

Another reading challenge begins! This summercamp has not been very consistent, but I managed to do some articles I'm very proud of. Now I can take a break and just read others' gems. I didn't want to leave out a theme, so instead of the 9 I decided to go for 12 articles, 3 for a prompt of each theme. Now, picking the prompt was a hard one in itself. In the end I went to choose the topics I'm less comfortable with, to learn from the work of my fellow anvilites. By reading how they craft their articles, I hope to be able to take some inspiration and be up to the task.


However, there was a lot of articles I enjoyed, and many are not in the prompts I chose. So be ready, for there will be a lot of features!


In addition, as a way to put my recent MJ addiction to use, I'm adding to each entry I liked a "MidJourney view", where I try to illustrate the article through the MidJourney AI art generator. I want to make things after what I visualize from the article, bear in mind that may differ from what the author thinks. Now to the authors: if I somehow nailed the look of your article, you are absolutely free to include the image! And if it is close but not quite there, do not hesitate to reach out on Discord (Rumengol#1390) to ask for a better version, I will be happy to oblige.


Now, without any further ado, let's get reading.

Material only harvestable by nature by Rumengol via MidJourney

Copper prompt: Α material only harvestable from nature


Qiao'hon - Saleh'Alire

The Qiao'hon tree may be unassuming at first glance, but it is a plant of many uses. Unable to grow outside of its native area, it is a highly valuable resource. Its fruit is hard to gather and export, but a very good food source. The small fruits that you can hold in your hand are hazardous to touch, sharp as it is, but their flesh is delicious. Perfume, stimulant, numbing or hallucinogenic, the different parts of the tree can be used in many ways, which explains why it is so precious.

If there is one thing I like more than being told a good story, it is being explained thoroughly and in-depth what a thing is. And thorough it is! Although I dislike making real-world analogies in my extraterrestrial worldbuilding, I have to admit it is very efficient. If something looks like a macadamia nut, has a skin like snake scales and a vanilla flavour, I can picture it very easily. The use of spoilers to make the list of the Qiao'hon usages is very clever, and the overall layout and CSS of this world are gorgeous!


The World


What I learnt

  • Don't be afraid of real-world analogies
  • A smart way to use spoilers
  • How to describe a tree
  • The Author

    Grandmaster yeslittlehummingbird

    Anna Katherina

    MidJourney's view
    Qiao'Hon tree, after Qiao'hon by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Resonin - Atocitera

    Resonin is a unique metal, in its properties as in its uses. A white material that gathers in fragile layers, it has been used as a cheap iron complement and a Flow detector in the past. With the Cataclysm, however, the most interesting aspect of Resonin was unveiled. When in contact with the Flow, this material rise in the air, carrying a certain weight with it. This is how the Atocites, these mountains floating in the sky, came to be. They were all rich in Resonin ore and were dragged above by the strange metal, saving humanity at the same time. Although they are the most obvious spot to mine Resonin, it has been proven a poor idea to strip giant chunks of earth of what keeps them afloat.

    If you need an example of why you don't need fancy layout and images to make a good article, look no further. It is clear, yet full of information and trivia that gives a great overview of the world. I couldn't help but notice that all links had mouseover snippets that don't show the whole target article. I really should do that, so I don't overwhelm people with thousands of words articles when they just want to learn what a Sphere is ahem. A good read and a world I'm already fascinated with!


    The World


    What I learnt

  • Add mouseover snippets. Stop being lazy.
  • When talking about metal, the processing is important.
  • If history is not the main focus, put it at the end. Not the second paragraph, damn me.
  • MidJourney's view
    Resonin layers after Resonin by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Wood - World Behind The Veil

    Humans and supernaturals need to harvest wood for their everyday use, as it is a versatile and accessible material. This comes as an issue when dryads are bound to the fallen tree as they die alongside the plant. The poor victims tried to stand up and fight, but the link to their tree prevents them from moving away, which is a big caveat in any uprising. Fortunately, laws were created and the Dryad Save Wood Certification is precious sesame for the logging companies respectful of dryad life that opens most markets.

    An unexpected take on wood, we get to learn the issues and conflicts that arise from wood harvesting. How closely this world is related to ours makes its charm, as real-life information gets mixed up with fiction, like the regulation on the logging industry in the late 20th century. All in all, this third article helped to give me a more complete view of how to write material with its focus on the harvesting part rather than use. Because we all know how wood is used, detailing this part would be less efficient than taking time on the dryad struggle.


    What I learnt

  • The harvesting of a material is a subject of its own
  • Even the most common material can be revisited in a surprising way
  • MidJourney's view
    Dryad near a dead tree, after Wood by Rumengol via MidJourney

    So, how to craft a good material?


    From these articles, I've taken that material is way more than meets the eye. Besides the description, you can write about the history of its discovery, but also the way it is harvested, processed, and finally used. All three featured articles had their focus on a different part of the material, so reading all of them took me close to a full picture (and that wasn't even on purpose!). I'll definitely keep it in mind for future materials, with the fact that conflict can arise at any part of the material's lifetime.


    The chosen articles covered somewhat regular materials, but I've seen some very exotic, shoutout to the two Souls articles and Sentient cells!

    A military conflict resolved through excellent leadership by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Silver Prompt: A military conflict resolved through excellent leadership


    Plague of Dream - Araea

    After the importation of Thought metal in the city of Vicitra, the inhabitants started to all share the same dream. A dream in which all their malevolence and misdeed were exposed to the eyes of everyone. When they knew what were the intentions of their neighbours, the people of the city fell into a bloody rage. Things went even worse when along the dreams came to the Shrikes, nightmarish critters feasting on the haunted dreams of their victims. The city only escaped its downfall thanks to the heroic stance of Aldara the Dream-Eater and the Fearless Five. Through many sacrifices and hardships, they managed to drive the plague away, saving the days of the condemned place.

    Wow. Just wow. Qurilion is a master of the craft, and it shows once again. The story carries us to this city on the verge of collapse and the hero's struggle through carefully crafted sentences and a wonderful layout that plunge the whole web page into Araea. I even learned three words reading this article! The use of the sidebar as information text that summarizes other articles is something I've always wished I could do seamlessly like that. What's more, almost all the articles linked there are of the same quality, length, and were written during Summercamp. Personally, I managed to write only two that may be on the same level in the whole month, and I respect immensely Q for that. If you don't know of Araea, you definitely should, as there is so much inspiration to take there for your worldbuilding, and even more stories that will send shivers down your spine.


    The World


    What I learnt

  • A better grasp on how to sidebar.
  • A conflict is not necessarily between two armed forces - the enemy may be a natural or supernatural force driving people mad and terrifying dream-eaters.
  • New words, and some phrasing.
  • Quotes can cut a text without being long or from a particular point of view.
  • The Author

    MidJourney's view
    Fight in a street of Vicitra, after Plague of dreams by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Operation War Dove - Solaris

    Against the overwhelming might of Jupiter, Ganymede had no choice but to get the public opinion on their side if they ever wanted to gain independence. However, with the heavy blockade and the jovian propaganda, there was no hope of a peaceful resolution. Out of this desperation came to be Operation War Dove. Thanks to a thorough plan and a full-scale assault force, they attacked the Galileo spaceport in order to infiltrate a diplomat and her staff in the evacuation. The plan did not go fully as planned but succeeded nonetheless, and Anstazia Halcyon managed to turn the public opinion in Ganymede's favour. However, it was at the cost of numerous lives, and the execution of the operation remains controversial to this day.

    Maybe it is because I never know how to describe the core of a conflict, i.e. the battles, but I admire those who nail it. Here, we have a beautiful article which explains first the preparation and the plan, before telling how it unraveled. The layout and smart insert of in-universe snippets are incredibly immersive. It is one of those articles hard to briefly summarise, given how rich they are, yet it remains very clear and the story is not confused despite describing several things happening at the same time. Nnie will never cease to amaze me with her CSS which does wonders to create a great reading flow.


    The World


    What I learnt

  • Going step by step while describing the battle is good.
  • A way to insert in-universe snippets like broadcast headlines.
  • How it is possible to tell multiple stories in a single article.
  • The Author

    Sage nnie

    Annie Stein
    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022

    MidJourney's view
    Attack on the Galileo Spaceport, after Operation War Dove by Rumengol via MidJourney

    War of the fishes - Stormfarers

    After their own failures at terraforming, the Pisces Corp decided to take over the core world of Cetus Corp, Cetus 47. But it would not happen on Roya's watch, the CEO of Cetus. Being informed of the enemy's plans, she set up the defense of the planet in an unconventional way. With about a tenth of Pisces' troops, she used clever tricks, scorched earth and guerilla tactics while remaining surprisingly honest with the opponent soldiers. With a minimal number of casualties, she even managed to soften the blow on the material losses. Pisces Corp never recovered financially from this and went bankrupt some time later.

    This time, the entire focus is on the conflict. We know from the get-go how it ended for both sides, so the question is how Roya turned the table of this dire situation. In addition, we're met with a numerical summary of the conflict in the style of Wikipedia, which always gives a rough idea of how bad the conflict went, and for who. The layout is clear and efficient, with the extract of the planetary broadcast to take us in the midst of the battle. Overall a great read!


    What I learnt

  • Wikipedia-style summary is very enjoyable
  • There's often a wide range of cunning tactics available
  • Roya is cool
  • MidJourney's view
    Cetus 47 during the war, after War of the fishes by Rumengol via MidJourney

    So, how to tell about a conflict?


    From what I've read, describing the core of the conflict and the battles that occurred is an important part. But one should not forget that conflicts involve peoples and that they are what cause and end them. Almost every article had a focus on one or more people, most of the time the leader for obvious reason, but also a key person like in Nnie's article. Having direct insight into the psyche of the belligerents helps to understand their plan and actions. Lastly, conflict articles were often in three parts: Preparations, Battle and Aftermath. Conflicts are bloody, and the consequences of a war are never joyful as it is time to mourn the deads on either side.

    An explorer motivated by discovery by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Gold Prompt: An explorer, researcher, or other character motivated by discovery.


    Cécile - Divine Tyranny

    The world is ruled by mighty and petty gods. The poor mortals are their toys as they are the perpetrators of conflicts and disputes for their fun. Of course, few mortals are aware of that fact. One of these chosen is Cécile [FamilyName], a noble working in the royal archives. She has access to knowledge most can't even imagine, some of it which could be seen as a threat to the tyrannic gods. But she knows better than to put a target on her back and keep a low profile, enjoying her archivist life while collecting this dangerous knowledge.

    I really like how Amélie crafts her characters, strong-willed but clever and knowing when things are out of their scope. Not everyone is a godslayer, so what good would it be to foolishly oppose them? And I can't help but relate to Cécile and her thirst for knowledge for the sake of it. I like the fact that Cécile is the one telling opinion from the archives in other articles, which is somewhat like the Obloggian perspective that I give in this world's articles. I feel that giving the point of view of an in-world character really adds to the immersion of an article, but doing so via the main character is even better!


    The World

    Divine Tyranny

    What I learnt

  • Don't be scared of putting placeholders even in the text! Summercamp does not give lots of room for reflection and there is always time to think later.
  • There is no need to write every single bit of a character's life to make them compelling.
  • Death to the Divine Tyrants!
  • The Author

    Eternal Sage AmélieIS

    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.

    MidJourney's view
    This is a placeholder as the good image has to undergo some face fixing and I'm new to it.  
    Cécile the archivist, after Cécile by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Dr. Gearmo - The Mortal Lands

    Dr. Gearmo is not exactly your ordinary doctor. It is actually a mechanical, a being of metal created by the Memoria thousands of years ago to help them in every possible way. This one was Metrologic 16, tasked with creating a drug, then finding a cure to the infertility plague that slowly but surely decimated its creators. Over time, the scientific mechanical began to develop a fondness for knowledge and learning. Eventually, he was shut down for a millennia after the disappearance of the Memoria, only to be woken up by the next civilisation. Amongst them, Metrologic 16 became Dr. Gearmo, a skillful healer acknowledged for his expertise in diseases and drug making. Though stripped from the interconnected knowledge of his species, he seeks to help people as much as learn new things.

    Another great article, and an interesting way to describe a character. The history is told as a real story, reliving the past of the doctor to his awakening. We get so much information there about the person he is and how he understands the world that the next parts are almost superfluous. The sad story of the Memoria species and how all the mechanicals were shut down including those who had unfinished business really got me hooked. Now, all that is left to know is the present days of this good doctor!


    The World

    The Mortal Lands

    What I learnt

  • Stories work really well to describe characters.
  • Repeating information on later sections may be redundant, but makes it easy to fetch it at any time.
  • MidJourney's view
    Head of the Dr.Gearmo, after Dr. Gearmo by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Jerna - Jerna's Diary

    That's Jerna. She was born in a traveling terani group, going from village to village. She never got proper education, instead she got to learn about the various things encountered on her group's journey. Despite having almost died and caused accidentally the death of her father after a failed runaway attempt, she didn't lose her thirst for adventuring and exploring. Now 286 years old, she still ventures the world with her loyal camera robot Little L. She met countless people, studied even more animal and plant species, and has probably seen more of the world than anybody else. And she's loving it.

    I already knew that Mochi was good at writing species, but they show great character writing skills there! As obvious as it may seem, The first person works wonderfully well as Jerna is full of life and mischievous and tell her story in a way that reminds me of the tooltips in Amelia Korp. It's hard to tell if she is completely carefree or trying to push her feelings back when comes to her father's death. Either way, this part is great a characterisation! AwsmChimera drawings are the cherry on the top, as his style fits really well Jerna's personality.


    Fun fact: I read just before this one another article, The author named L, and the first mention of Little L was quite unnerving.


    The World

    Jerna's Diary

    What I learnt

  • First-person is really efficient with character articles.
  • I need to figure out how to make these 3/4-1/4 columns as they make a great layout.
  • Having the right style for the illustrations is more important than I thought.
  • The Author

    Grandmaster Mochimanoban

    I hope you have a great day!   My most recent article!
      WorldEmber is here!

    MidJourney's view
    For some reason, Jerna is impossibly hard to represent, currently trying something else.

    So, what makes a good explorer/researcher?


    The main thing I get from what I read is that the best articles are either written in the first person or in the form of a story. This applies to all characters and not just this category, but that's still worth noting. However, what they do with the knowledge they gain is a theme that was often underdeveloped. We know that Cécile seeks it for the sake of it and doesn't use what she knows out of fear that the gods take notice of her existence, and that Dr. Gearmo uses his medical knowledge to heal people to his best. We don't really know what Jerna does with what she learns beside her diary.


    When I wrote a full article about exploration, I realized that exploration is often driven by the need of something, be it better life, new trade routes or other worldly matters, as the money invested is important. I didn't read that many articles, but I feel like only a few explorers took this into account. That may just be me being nerdy about a subject I spent quite a time researching, you all did great.

    A person considered villainous in a trenchcoat by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Diamond prompt: A person considered villainous or monstrous


    Silas Von Ekechart - Istralar

    Silas Von Eckehart is definitely not a lucky man. Born from a dhampir and a human, he was a great magician and artifact crafter. All was well for him as he fell in love with Sarah von Hebennstreitin and the three children they had together. Unfortunately, this carefree life would not remain for long, as Sarah would get captured and burnt for witchcraft far from her husband. Deeply in grief, he transplaned the family mansion in a demi-plane to escape the madness of the First World. Things only went worse as he lost both his children, his daughter and youngest son torn to shreds by the eldest driven mad by a powerful entity. Eventually, the mansion shattered into multiple dimensions as Silas' attempts at necromancy went horribly wrong, condemning his reanimated children to wander the place while he desperately looks for a way to save them, without a care for what tries to stop him.

    We're given a very good story about the tragic life of a father who lost everyone dear to him and became feared out of his desire for vengeance or salvation. I never had the feeling that Silas is truly a monster, but simply a desperate soul. The story is long but reads well as it is fascinating. The map of the mansion that shows its state across different planes is a nice touch, too. Finally, I adore the idea of the magician who became a dungeon master out of his own will but was too blinded by his quest not to take on the role.


    Fun fact: my own entry for this prompt is named Sylas Van Dirken, and I find the accidental similarity funny.


    The World


    What I learnt

  • An interesting layout idea, with the images on both sides of the text.
  • A character doesn't have to be animated with evil intents to be considered villainous.
  • The Author

    Eternal Grandmaster Hanhula


    MidJourney's view
    I don't know what to illustrate there, so many possibilities yet none yielding good results... work in progress.

    Doctor Crowle Parlow - Fyria

    Crowle Parlow was a great mage in the court of the kingdom of Heldrin. Deeply patriotic, he wanted nothing but to serve his country to the best of his capacities. Disregarded and ignored, he grew frustrated and chased new means to get his ideas acknowledged. Approaching old age, he finally found something that may not only help the kingdom win the long war against Roseport, but conquest further lands. He turned to necromancy and, in secrecy, experimented on how to become a lich. He recorded all his findings in his journal, a book that would be the foundation of a secret society following his lead. However, his ideas were not accepted, and when he was found out he was imprisoned and necromancy was outlawed. He died several months later, without the chance of becoming a lich.

    Another doctor, with a bitter taste. The article is well-written and illustrated, with a mastery over MidJourney showing Parlow over his lifetime. I really like the short summary at the beginning of the article. I'm reading several articles for each prompt until I find one I can extensively talk about, and sometimes discard the longer ones if I'm not quickly hooked. And just with that summary, I knew that I wanted to talk about Crowle Parlow. The pictures of him slowly decaying and turning more undead than alive accompany his descent into the dark arts beautifully. A great story, and presenting a dead man that only had the best interest of his country as a villain of this very country is a good idea, well executed.


    The World


    What I learnt

  • A summary at the beginning does wonders to hook the reader, especially for long articles.
  • Having legends instead of titles under images works great.
  • People really dislike necromancy.
  • The Author

    Venerable Grandmaster Orthais

    Joshua Stewart

    MidJourney's view
    Heldrin royal council, after Doctor Crowle Parlow by Rumengol via MidJourney

    Valentine, King of Vampires - World of Wizard's Peak

    Valentine Benedek was born a small noble in a remote province and was certainly not destined to do much. Until he was killed and turned into a vampire in his twenties, freezing him at the peak of his beauty. Enslaved by his maker, he was freed by his death to adventurers and joined a vampire clan before becoming the clan's head in 50 years. That was just the beginning for him, as he succeeded at uniting all vampires under his might in less than 200 years. Weaving his web of influence in the shadows, he was forced to take action after the death of his goddess and the demise of the Elf Armada, creating a coalition of believers to drive the invaders away. He disappeared near the end of the war, seemingly sacrificing himself to ensure the success of an important ritual. Presumed dead, his body was never retrieved.

    A hero-villain, that is something I love. A ruthless and cruel vampire that eventually saved the days by sacrificing himself, how noble! I like how we get quotes from two people at the beginning agreeing that he was a horrible person but still remembered as a hero in the end. How dire situations can make people forget centuries of misdeeds... The article covers many subjects in a few paragraphs without losing a reader who knows nothing about the world, and it is well done. Succinct but efficient mouseover snippets are of great help in this.


    What I learnt

  • Mouseover snippets. Definitely.
  • A villain in their life can easily be remembered as a hero for one good deed - although it needs to be spectacular.
  • The Author

    Eternal Sage kitoypoy

    Chris L

    Come see my WorldEmber 2022 page!

    MidJourney's view
    Valentine Benedek, after Valentine, king of vampires

    So, how can one be a good villain?


    A common theme across the articles I've read is that villains rarely do evil deeds out of pure malice. Most of the time, they do it with the greatest intent like Crowle Parlow, or don't even consider the good or evil in their actions like Silas von Eckehart. This is probably the most important lesson, that villains are people like any other, not driven by evil for the sake of it. There was an impressive number of doctors among the articles, and surprisingly few greedy or power-hungry folks, or at least few that I have read. The sickly look seems to be a prerogative, as most of them have a pale, almost emaciated look.


    Bonus mentions


    Here are articles that I really liked, but did not get the chance to be featured either because I have too few to say about them, they are not under one of the prompts I chose or I already selected another article of their author. They are equally good, so I could not just ignore them. Here are some of my favourite articles of this Summercamp:

    The Author Named L
    Character | Jul 18, 2022

    An author from Kholodno who mysteriously vanish while exploring.

    I really liked the idea of having an unknown explorer with little to nothing known about them, as the only information available is from its journal.

    the Weeper
    Character | Jul 31, 2022

    I've long considered making a full feature of the article. I didn't learn much from it so it did not make it in the end, but I really enjoyed the read!

    Doctor Orjuus Crowval-Gritzgale
    Character | Dec 5, 2021

    "A man whose knowledge of the natural world borders on the arcane, and whose singular purpose may build or ruin the world."

    The only reason this one is not featured is that I already had two doctors and wanted to find something else. A very good read.

    Red-Eyed Deepsquid
    Species | Nov 27, 2022

    A squid species from Hothiri. Red-eyed deepsquid are typically deep ocean inhabitants.

    A critter by Mochi, and even better, a deep-sea squid! Always nice to see a Novelgens image!

    ...And more gems that I didn't find or didn't read yet!


    What lies ahead?


    I learnt quite a lot by reading all these lovely articles, especially regarding design and layout ideas. I aim to apply that in my numerous projects. Now, what to do? First, I'm getting close to writing all the fundamental articles in the Spheres of Oblogga. Once it is done, I would be able to begin plotting the novel that will take place in the Expanse. But before that, I already want to know what I will write for NaNoWriMo: a collection of short stories regarding the adventures of an alchemist in a fantastic Victorian London filled with vampires and night creatures. It will be light in terms of worldbuilding, but requires more plotting and research than I'm used to, so it will take a lot of my time.


    I will try to translate most articles from the french worlds of the A.I.D.E. (the English version came to be during SC, in the form of the I.D.E.A.) and Après la Brume by the end of the year, and of course I'll be adding more article to the Real-Life WorldBuilding Project. So stay tuned, a lot more is coming! Not to mention the reason why I got Grandmaster, a WA add-on that will make the life of many (especially mine) a lot less stressful!


    Cover image: Lore from the deep by Rumengol via MidJourney


    Author's Notes

    This took way longer than expected, but allowed me to make wonderful discoveries!   This simple effect of having the article block centered vertically took me an hour of CSS tinkering and pain. I hate CSS.

    Please Login in order to comment!
    21 Aug, 2022 08:57

    Thank you so much for including two articles of mine! <3 I'm so glad you enjoyed Jerna's article, it was for sure my favourite article I made :)

    I hope you have a great day!   My most recent article!
      WorldEmber is here!
    22 Aug, 2022 21:05

    Wow! What a selection of really great articles and what a great presentation of them! Thank you for including my article among your choices!

    Come see my WorldEmber 2022 page!

    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    26 Aug, 2022 09:19

    I am beyond flattered to not just be included, but to be given such high praise by a great worldbuilder. Thank you so much! I hope to see more of I.D.E.A and Oblogga, and I'm excited to see what you'll do with your newfound grandmaster status!

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022