Reading Challenge 2022

Now that Summercamp 2022 is over, it's time once again to take a breather - but it's also time to actually take a look at the variety of responses that others produced in response to the summercamp prompts. This is a time to see how others answered the same questions. It is a time to see whether other folks saw different questions entirely in the same prompts! It's time to learn how to broaden our perspectives.

To this end, I will be reading nine articles, and will be doing so on my daily Twitch stream. Unlike the "article showcases" I often do, I will not be reading the articles to critique them. I will not be calling out spelling or grammar, or making "editorial" comments. Instead, I will be trying to envision how the author interpreted the prompt and turned it into the article they submitted. Did they have a different way of looking at the prompt? Could I benefit from doing the same? Can I learn something from these nine authors that will help me develop my own world?

The Selection Process

In true RPGer fashion the articles to be read in this challenge had to be chosen randomly, but since I don't have any 31-sided dice, and certainly don't have any 347-sided dice, I decided to rely on the random number generator capabilities of a popular spreadsheet product. A table listing all 31 prompts and the number of entries for each prompt was prepared. Cells were then prepared to select three prompts at random, and for each of those prompts, three articles were selected using the article count as the RNG limiter.

There had to be dice involved somewhere, so somebody in my Twitch chat rolled a d20 to tell me how many times to hit the "re-randomize" button before the results were captures. This was done - all on stream - and the nine articles were chosen. A comment was placed in each article informing the author what I would be doing. An invitation to attend the reading was extended, as was an offer to opt out and have me select a different article. (Nobody took me up on the latter.)

The Articles

Prompt: Somewhere in your world, describe a creature considered monstrous by some.
These three articles were read and discussed on my Twitch stream on Thursday, August 11th, 2022.
Author: KyoAkashi
World: Orcerta
A tiny swamp critter that latches on and induces the host to essentially run itself to death - while feeling great about doing so. Then it lays eggs in the mouth of the corpse. It is understandable why folks are afraid of these things. Vereles demonstrate that things don't need to be huge to be monstrous. I thought this was a great concept.
Author: DMSirSwank99
World: World of Stendaaris
An amphibian with poisonous porcupine quills that it uses as hundreds of tiny mouths. That qualifies as monstrous. I came up with at least two ways these creatures could ambush a party of adventurers who mistake a polypine's previous "catch" as something else. The sensory detail added, which justifies a swamp as preferred habitat, was great too.
Author: DaniAdventures
World: Luridity
Leaving the swamp and entereing a whole new galaxy! This "monster" is a sentient race driven out of its home galaxy by others that feared them unjustly. It sounds like they're not that monstrous at all really, but who knows? Now that they're a little more "in charge", I guess anything is possible.

Prompt: Somewhere in your world, describe a religion or organization connected to a natural phenomenon.
These three articles were read and dsicussed on my Twitch stream on Friday, August 12th, 2022.
Author: Dimitris
World: Lyra
This article approached the prompt from a completely different direction. Instead of "given a natural phenomenon, come up with a group associated with it", this article's approach was, "I have this group... what phenomenon can I associate with them?". A completely different angle that can be used to fill a completely different kind of "hole" in a world's lore!

I've got aa few groups that could benefit from an approach like this to help provide them with a bit more flavor. And this approach needn't be restricted to "natural phenomena" either. It's another tool in the kit for a worldbuilder.
Author: Tyryt
World: Arcadia
The "natural phenomenon" of this article seemed to be "all of nature". This is a good reminder that it isn't always necessary to focus down on one tiny aspect when considering how to respond to a prompt like this in a challenge.

This "cult" reminded me heavily of the 1960s Hippie Culture - something I was just young enough to miss, but not so young that I didn't see it and understand it. While hardly an organization or religion, that was definitely a "cult" of some sort with nature at its roots.
Wardens of the Leaf and Sand
Author: arawlins
World: The Cradle of Worlds
Are they a religious cult? A shrewd business operation? Are they both? That's the first big question that comes out of this article, at least for me.

This article showed me that looking at a prompt the right way can be used to answer more than just the obvious question asked by the prompt. Here, we have an article that explains how a culture approached solving the difficulties of travel in a harsh environment - they did so by creating an easier set of paths, which they now maintain (and profit from!)

Prompt: Somewhere in your world, describe a settlement that was lost or discovered.
These three articles were read and discussed on my Twitch stream on Monday, August 15th, 2022.
Isi, Capital of Runeheim
Author: steelbro
World: Project Kaos (Placeholder)
This capital city of what was apparently a continent-encompassing empire was wiped out by magical forces unleashed in a struggle among the heirs to the throne. "Ancient site destroyed/altered by magic" is an old favorite among RPG worldbuilders.

It described a potential site for lots of RPG adventuring within whatever ruins are remaining in the snow and ice-covered city. This was a great "starter article" for an adventuring location that could be fleshed out into an entire campaign all its own.
Author: Elise727
World: Sephran
A village desstroyed in war - wiped off the map with no apparent survivors. A new settlement was eventually built on top of the ashes, but memory of the first village remains. Lots of lore possibilities here, and perhaps even a secret or two to entice adventurers in RPG gameplay.

I've got a few places in my world with variations on this: city destroyed and rebuilt... city destroyed and now consumed by the wilderness; descendents of the survivors tell tales of lost greatness. There are a lot of ways to take a seed like this and watch it grow.
Shi'noklan, Razak's Rock
Author: Melestrua
World: Melestrua's Mystara
This describes a hidden city, once occupied by a now-forgotten people. The city is now known to a particular culture, and is used by them for religious purposes including burials - but despite this culture interacting with others all around the area, the fact that the city exists is still unknown. Rumors of the island abound, and there are hooks between those rumors and speculations on the city origins by those who are aware of it.

Great worldbuilding. I came up with at least six different adventure threads just during the reading of this article! If it's for an RPG setting, it is most definitely "fertile soil"!

Impressions and Inspirations

As I read through all of these articles, I was trying to get into the heads of the authors. How did they interpret the prompts, and how did those interpretatations affect their responses? For many, the interpretations and approaches were predictable, but there were at least a few that were different enough and interesting enough - to make me wonder whether a similar approach could be used to either create a new adventuring "scene" or solve some sort of "in game" issue in my own world. For each one, I asked myself two questions:

Is there anyone or anyplace in Cartyrion where I've taken the same approach?
Is there anyone or anyplace in Cartyrion where taking a similar approach would be interesting?

The good news is that the answers to both questions was almost always "yes". As I continue to finalize the compilation of the Feywood setting materials - but moreso as I start moving on to the Kingdoms setting materials, I may well start using the ideas gained from this exercise in my own worldbuilding.

The 2022 Reading Challenge was a lot of fun to do on stream, and I hope it was helpful and inspirational to those who were chatting along in stream with me. I will definitely do this again should future Reading Challenges arise (and I'm sure they will).


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29 Aug, 2022 11:12

Nice list!! I finally was able to catch up on some of the reviews, and wanted to thank you for your time going over these for the community on stream. I really appreciate the inclusive and randomized way you approached the entries for ASC's own reading challenge! Thank you, as well, for snagging my Ardalu for your comments and review, along with that readthrough! :)

You are doing a great job! Keep creating; I believe in you!
Luridity: Where love is love and life is lived. Contains NSFW content.
29 Aug, 2022 12:38

It was a lot of fun, and I'll definitely be doing this again in January for the Worldember Reading Challenge!

Teams of turtles pulling barges... villages that appear and disappear overnight... check out the: Redflow River
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