This page started as a summary of the WorldAnvil SummerCamp2020 prompts for reference of other SummerCamp entrants. When I publicised it in the WorldAnvil summercamp-challenge channel on Discord, it turned out esongbird24601 had been working on a very similar thing in a shareable Google doc, so we pooled effort and merged our contributions, so this is now a mirror of the joint effort in the shared Google doc (link is pinned in that Discord channel; I am not making it generally available). Others have also now contributed, including:
- Scribe of Nekoti
- Sable Aradia
- Lyraine Alei
- Madame Vera
July is the time for the WorldAnvil summer camp. 31 days, 33 worldbuilding prompts, each to be responded to with a new article on WorldAnvil. There are multiple levels of entry depending on how many articles you finish – a “finished” article is at least 300 words, published and public on WorldAnvil, so someone responding to all 33 articles will have written a minimum of 9900 words.
Fortunately you don’t need to complete all 33 prompts to get credit. There are badges for 10 articles (bronze), 20 articles (silver) and 30 articles (gold). Finishing all 33 articles earns a platinum badge.
It’s free to participate – all you need is a basic WorldAnvil account, which you can get for free if you don’t already have one. And as well as badges there are prizes, including prizes for specific articles so you don’t need to have answered everything.
What does this have to do with me or Akorros? Well, my Akorros campaign is held on WorldAnvil, so I will be using these prompts as inspiration, aiming to at least earn a bronze badge, and I will work out some of them at least as blog posts here first, relating them to my Akorran Rift campaign. The first twenty prompts have now been released, and I have already been inspired by several of them. This will probably mean I meander further off-canon as I develop my campaign world rather than trying to flesh out Akorros specifically. I hope this is okay. (If not, tough – this is my blog and I’ll write as I want to…)
As the month progresses, I’ll track the prompts and my responses here, so bookmark this post and keep coming back. Or follow me on Twitter – @Melestrua – and/or on my Facebook page Melestrua’s Musings. Every blog post gets posted to both of those channels.
RULE: When in doubt, write something awesome!
Does it work with the template? Does it work with the prompt? Then it works for camp! Remember, specific is where the magic and world building lies.
From Janet: The point of this is to inspire you in your WorldBuilding, expand your world and to have fun. If you previously had a small world and you respond to most prompts, at the end you will have a world with another 30 articles – which is getting to be large and well-populated.
Does it need to be realistic?
Worldbuilding should be anything you want it to be – realistic or not. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not allowed to do anything – as long as it makes you happy and you’re having fun nobody can tell you you’re doing it wrong
Worldbuilding doesn’t need to be realistic, just consistent (can’t remember who posted that).
Personal prompt tracker
Hanhula has created a spreadsheet which contains all the prompts and is designed to help you keep track of your own process, with progress dropdowns including: Idea, Stub, Drafted, Written, and Complete. It can calculate your overall progress, total word counts, and completed articles. Make a copy for yourself, clear out the article names and word counts, set the status of all to Idea and log away!
So here are the prompts and my understanding of the unpacking. I will link to my blog posts and articles as they get completed.
Released 1st July (Copper wave):
1. Myth: Write about a myth or legend relating to a famous, long-lost item.
How long has the item been missing? Does it still exist? How much of the myth/legend is truth and how much is embellishment?
- Legend of Excalibur
- Legend of the Holy Grail
- Lost Technology/Mcguffin
Sparks: Fable, Tale, Story, Scroll, Allegory, Ancient, Artifact, Relic
Missing Items: where the other sock lost in the dryer went, lost at sea, buried by earthquake or volcanic eruption, ejected into space out an airlock, buried in a tomb or with a treasure hoard
More Formats: Poem, Prose, Song, Nursery Rhyme
2. Item: Describe a valuable historical or ancient artefact in your world.
How commonly known is this artifact? Are there replicas in gift shops or Is it known only to historians ? How did the artifact shape the history of your world or culture?
Janet’s unpacking video: https://twitter.com/i/status/1278640625169190913
This may well be the famous long-lost item mentioned above… Focus on the detail/properties of the item itself.
Inspirational Resource: https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/
- The Holy Grail
- The Spaceship with the advance technology that was destroyed
- Rosetta Stone
Sparks: Antiquity, Fossil, Magical or Holy Relic, Invention, Exhibit, Dig Site
Things from History: Often art (cave and wall paintings, tapestries, documents) is found which leads to or helps show the use of special artifacts. It could be a specific artifact OR a common one (ie: particular types of small statuettes, jars or flutes found in ancient tombs).
- How has the artifact weathered time (and weather/environmental effects)?
- How was it made? Does this method still exist?
More Formats: Museum log, Tour Guide Speech, Encyclopedic, describe it by a modern discoverer (and by its original users, which may or may not actually have the same description of use lol)
3. Person: Describe an important religious leader in your world. How has their character changed the status quo?
What’s prioritised? What’s ignored? How does the community react to them? Are they a traditional or radical leader? What is their legacy?
Janet’s unpacking video: https://twitter.com/i/status/1279081284262940672
This uses the term “religious leader”, but the discussion made it clear this was being interpreted in the widest possible sense. Someone who leads some sort of collective grouping with a common cause/belief.
It needs to show how they have caused change. Religious, spiritual, or philosophical leaders work. Someone who leads some sort of collective grouping with a common cause/belief. Think about how this leader directs change within the organisation. Examples:
- Martin Luther
- Billy Graham
- Mother Teresa
- Dalai Lama
- Joseph Smith
Sparks: Charisma, Guru, Messiah, Prophet, Acolyte, Paladin, Cleric, Prime Minister, Elder, Wise One, Pontiff, Patriarch, Matriarch, Deity, Monk, reverend Mother, Governor, commander, Guide, Director, Eminence
Thought Leaders: The Chosen One, The Wyrde, The Rock, Order built around vengeance/revenge, order built to assassinate
More Formats: Motto, Creed, Mission Statement, Manifesto Excerpt
My post: Nana Myrra/Myrrliath.
4. Species: Write about an apex predator in your world. How does it hunt and survive?
What caused the evolutionary changes or defence mechanisms for these creatures? Are they common or endangered? How do they interact with the communities around them? Are they naturally created or a mutation?
There were a lot of questions about what an apex predator was. A technical term – see the Wikipedia article for a definition.
An apex predator is the species at the top of the food chain, the one which eats lesser creatures (as in lower down) but doesn’t have a predator themselves.
It’s almost certainly not humans – although we hunt anything, there are also all sorts of animals which will hunt and eat us.
It’s also a species rather than an individual, which means I’m going to have to rethink slightly, but then perhaps that a good thing. I was thinking of having a single wasteland dragon in the wastes to the north, but I’ll have to have multiple of them in the region (fits beautifully with the area with diverse flora and fauna from the second tranche of questions) – and maybe that’s better anyway.
- Polar Bear
HINT- look for real life animals for inspiration. Want something crazy? Look towards the extreme climates i.e. deep sea, polar ice caps, rainforest. Look for something small and make it big!
Sparks: Location: forest? Ocean? Treetops? Cliffs? Plains? Desert? Savannah? Taiga?
Traits: Diurnal, Nocturnal, Territorial, Domesticated versus Wild, Sharp Teeth, Vegetarian, Cannibalistic, Carnivorous, Omnivorous?
- Is it a threat to your world’s people?
- Environmental impact? Could it possibly affect the ecosystem and killinate other animals to extinction.
More Formats: Wildlife Guide, Descriptions of them by frightened hikers, by wildlife fans,
5. Condition: Describe a condition in your world caused by a drug or medicine.
What is the purpose for the drug or medicine? How is it made? Is there a supply/demand issue? What are the side effects?
Wide ranging suggestions here. Any chemical taken into the body which causes an effect. Obvious examples include alcohol and mind-altering drugs, but it doesn’t need to be. It could be health potions. It could be something which enhances performance – strength potions, bravery, etc. It could be both beneficial and detrimental – something which brings benefits but has addiction/withdrawal issues.Applies to specific creatures in your world.
Things to consider:
- Withdrawal effect
Sparks: Treatment, Experiments, Experimental, Lab rats, Funding, Addictive Properties, Addiction Treatment,
Side Effects: Insatiable Hunger, Vertigo, Hallucinations, Double Vision, Xray Vision, Catatonia, heart attack, seizures, epilepsy, nausea, sudden need to run laps around a grocery store, Mutations, Memory Loss, Aggression, Strength or other aptitude increase-decrease-management, Sudden Savant-ism
- Where is it found, if it’s a natural drug?
- What does its compound consist of?
- Consider drug ethics with regard to the condition
- What about GOOD conditions?
More Formats: Drug Warnings, Drug label, Doctor Record or notes on patient, Prescription
6. Location: Describe an important celestial body or constellation in your world.
Does the celestial body have phases? Does it have cultural significance i.e. indicating seasons, or a sign of a deities blessing or curse?
Sounds fairly obvious. Something up in the sky, not on the world. Some interesting quirks coming out of the questioning, though. Someone had a “world” (for want of a better term) made of islands floating in the sky, and no specific sun or other central body. In this case, the floating islands themselves could be considered the celestial bodies.
- Constellations used for navigation
- Comet-Halley’s Comet
- The Red Star from Anne McAffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series
- Resources like asteroid belts
- Planetary Ring
- Interstellar Cloud
Sparks: superstitions, traditions, seasons, prism, Planet X, Comet = Doom, werewolves = full moon, Waterbenders in Avatar The Last Airbender = full moon power, is it alive?, black holes
Constellation: Religious Connections to constellation, tidal variation and planet impacts (ie volcanoes? Earthquakes? tsunami?), diamond ring effect?
- When is it visible? Are there special requirements to be able to see it? Is it on a specific visual spectrum?
- Are there possible side effects from experiencing it? (ie: the Sun, a solar eclipse, burning out eyeballs).
- Are these side effects real? Imagined? MAGICAL?
- Impacts against the norm: Will it cause delays in planetary or star rotations/orbits? (China – 3000 BC)
More Formats: Scientific Journal, Story, Legend, Warning from a guy on the street with a big sign, almanac, Superstitions, Religious documents/ritual, Tattoo
7. Ethnicity: Describe a counter-culture in your world, something outside the mainstream culture of the place.
How is this culture different from a mainstream society in your world? Are they a passive or active culture? How does mainstream culture react to them?
Janet’s unpacking video: https://twitter.com/i/status/1280542516639604737
This was probably the prompt which caused the most confusion and discussion. A counter-culture is a group which is within a wider culture but has different beliefs or traditions. It should (I think this was the statement) be a minority group.
- Religious Sects
- The Women’s Institute
- Subcultures instead of Countercultures
Sparks: pirates, values, roles, shared experiences, beliefs
- Define your MAINSTREAM so you can find your counter to it
- Culture defined by rejection of government or existing laws/rules
- Conspiracy shaped
- Perspective – who is the outsider?
- Consider one small difference or a particular aspect of the counterculture (these people do X but no one else does)
More Formats: Humanities Perspective and Comparison
My post: See The Ghost Kobolds of Akorros, doubly a counter-culture. They are kobolds, living in the sewers and underground, and not the general populace of Akorros. They are also a counter-culture within kobolds, rejected by the mainstream because of their albinism, lawful good rather than lawful evil.
8. Rank: Write about a rank or title that represents order in your world.
How is this rank earned? Who awards the rank/title? Is there a ceremony or procedure when it is bestowed? What chaos or disorder does this title stand in contrast to? Does the title bestow rights and responsibilities or does it recognize abilities someone already has?
It could be a part of an organisation, or it could be a lone actor.
- Police Officer
- Guard rank
- Military Officer
- Religious Figure
- Financial Advisor
- High Priest Engineer
- Grand Vizier
Sparks: security, organizer, military, government (macro- ie country, micro- ie city), Lawyer, Judge, Barrister, Police, Principal, Teacher, Headmaster, Dean, School Board, Wedding Planner, Board of Trustees, Knight Commander, Admin Assistant, Guard Captain, Clerk, General, Gunnery Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, Head Chef, Purser, Maître d’, Guild Master, Sous Chef
Responsibilities: Be in charge, make sure things run smoothly, give direction, make sure things flow without a hitch, ensure organization of records/objects, have the vision, enforce the rules/laws
More Formats: Quote particular laws that are commonly enforced
9. Building: Write about a building that has been reused and repurposed from its original design.
What was the building’s original purpose? Who built the original building? How do people feel about this change? How commonly known is the original purpose? Was the original building preserved or immortalised in some way? Who re-purposed and why? Was the original building chosen for a specific reason, coincidence or convenience?
Janet’s Unpacking Video: https://twitter.com/i/status/1281186874447540224
Dimitris was very excited by this prompt. A building which is used for something different. Maybe old ruins which are now being used as a living space. Maybe a theatre which is now a market. I think Dimitris would like impressive repurposings, but it could be much more subtle.
- Stables turned into other buildings
- Bridge that is used for housing
Sparks: ruins reclaimed, opposition forces changing it to something else, culture shift, abandoned, used as foundation by a culture who moves in, repurposed but not everyone is on board with that, supported by fundraiser,
Previous Uses: funeral home converted to self storage units, fruit packing plant converted to a strip mall, old mill converted to a yoga studio, insane asylum to apartments, Castle to hotel, scuttled ship to tavern, church to cafeteria, lumbershed to blacksmith shop, mobile home/trailer converted to actual motorhome, police box to time machine!More Formats: blueprints, discussion about repurposing, history of building, rumors/ghost stories, memorial, plaque, protest signs
It’s a shame I’ve already written about the repurposed Carlotta’s Curios…
10. Document: Describe a commonly found document in your world – what’s in it and what is it for?
Who receives and distributes the document? How is it perceived by the community? Are there rights/restrictions associated with the document? What form does the document take? Can it be held? How is it transported? How do people interact with the document? Is it displayed openly? What information does the document contain?
Janet’s Unpacking Video: https://twitter.com/i/status/1281622914526322689
Another wide-ranging prompt which could have all sorts of interpretations.
- Stone inscriptions
- Digital Text
- Ownership documents.
- ID Cards: Multipass from Fifth Element
- Identity documents proving right to live (or not – think of the Jews in Nazi Germany).
- Marriage certificates
- Credit Card
- Identity Documents/Passport/Driver’s License
- Holographic Novels: Holodeck from Star Trek
- Pieces of Music
- Magic scrolls?
Sparks: declaration, entertainment, procedural, contractual/legal, mail, email, Braille, TTS, It may be common, but are there people in your world who can’t read it? Is it received the same way throughout your world? Who issues it and why?
Documents: comic books, novels, literature, crossword puzzles, magical crystals, scientific journals or papers, research, freedom of information application, entertainment flyer, receipt, warning labels, adverts, nutritional levels, new driver’s guide, medical files, union regulations, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Reception of Document: Dread, Excitement, Disinterest, Mild Interest, Disgust, Curiosity, abject horror, Despair, Joy, Desire/Lust/Longing, Satisfaction, Confusion, Gusto, Disdain, Blaise
Released 10th July (Silver wave):
11. Item: Describe a common item that is used as a secret symbol in your world.
Think about why it is secret? Who is using it? Who are they hiding to hide the meaning from?
This is something which most people just think of as the item, but for a group it has more significance, like the fish symbol for the early Christians
- Christian Fish (Used when christians were persecuted) ICTHYS=FISH in Greek. In English it translates to Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour
- Scarfs in the back pocket
- Norwegians used paper clips attached to their clothes to show resistance
- Safetypins to show LGBTQ Ally (US)
- Particular tattoos to identify as a member of a group
- A coin, e.g. a special coin given to children to mark a birthday
- A candle in the highest window of a tower (Game of Thrones)
Question: could this be fingers? Answer: not the fingers in and of themselves – it would need to be something significant about the fingers – maybe a gesture used with them, maybe a specific tattoo or ring, maybe the fact that a particular finger is missing.
12. Vehicle: Describe a vehicle in your world that brings joy wherever it arrives.
Where does it go? Who has access to it? Does it have a schedule? Doesn’t have to be a positive for the whole world – drug cart Mad Max style
This could be large or small, from an ice cream van to a circus to Santa’s sleigh
- Ice cream cart!
- Circus wagons arriving in town
- Santa’s sleigh
- Military vehicle with relief supplies
- A water caravan in the desert
- Gandalf’s firework cart
- A vehicle charmed to bring joy to nearby people
13. Tradition: Describe how birthdays are celebrated in a particular culture of your world.
Sponsored by Sable Aradia
Are all birthdays celebrated equally? Do very long lived races, like elves, celebrate every year or have a specific birthday year that gets additional attention? What about very short lived ones?
(From SableAradia: I am sponsoring the birthday challenge, and I am personally willing to allow a lot of latitude, as long as it is actually a birthday (and therefore meets WA’s criteria) :D)
Options to consider:
- A major birthday
- Tiers within a culture
- Specific family
- Specific day
This could be as simple and generic as baking a cake, putting candles on it and singing, or it could be some special celebration for reaching a particular age. It could be specific to a cultural subset or more general.
14. Language: Write about a secret code or cypher in your world: who uses it, and for what purpose?
Sponsored by Eauveaux
Same as the secret symbol! Why is it secret? What happens if the secret is discovered? Is it physical? Written? A foreign language? Symbols that look like scratches to outsiders?
Unpacking video by Janet: https://twitter.com/i/status/1283073759696629762
This may be obviously unintelligible, or hidden within something people not in the know wouldn’t think twice about. Examples:
- Sign language
- Wartime messages
- Japan- fans
- Tattoos communicating status
- The language of fans
- A genuine code or cipher: word substitution, character transposition, reference to words in a known document, etc
- A foreign language not understood by the people round about (if everyone understands it it doesn’t count)
- Symbols scratched on walls or bark or… Which look like random scratches unless you are in the know
- Leonardo Da Vinci’s mirror language
15. Military Unit: Describe an elite or highly specialised military unit in your world.
What is that unit’s purpose? How long has it been established? What does training look like? How is it perceived by the rest of the world?
Does not have to be a fighting unit. Can be a specialized unit that provides things for the military.
Any size of military unit is fine, as long as it is a single, cohesive unit. It can have sub-units within it, though. So everything from a star system’s space fleet to a platoon of special forces.
- A cyber crime unit
- Rapid response medics
- An intelligence gathering unit
- Of course it may be a fighting group like the SAS, SBS, US navy seals, a berserker unit which is always in the front line, an archery unit.
- Border Control
- VIPs’ personal guard/escort
I asked about thug enforcers in a Thieves’ Guild; this was considered borderline because the Thieves’ Guild isn’t really a military organisation.
EtaliaC writes: I’m actually gonna write about letter carrying dragons used by the military! 😀
16. Material: Write about a material that is considered sacred or culturally crucial [important] in your world.
Sponsored by ShyRedFox
How common is this item? Who values it? Who has access to it? Are thee the same people or different people? Is there a shortage or trade for this material?
This does not need to be a building material.
- Gold, as for the Mayans and Aztecs
- Turquois (Navaho)
- Something that is woven and culturally important/sacred
- Does not have to be religion
- Wine/Bread in the Sacrament/ Holy Water
- UK: Tea
- (Advice in the UK when moving house → make sure you have toothbrush, tea bags and kettle easy to hand)
- France: Cheese/Wine
- Water in a desert
- Silk reserved for royalty
- Spice in the Frank Herbert Dune series
Sparks: only accessible by whom: the wealthy? A certain clan? Certain religion or order?
Material: building, herbs, plants, animal products, precious metals/minerals, crafted items, biological materials, testing materials, wearables, consumables
Questions: Does the material generate power or a specific result? What does the material represent and for what group–is it status-linked or pride-based? Are there laws or regulations regarding the raw form of the material OR the final form of the materia?. If it is common, what is a more refined version of it and who would use that? How common is this item? Who values it? Who has access to it? Are these the same people or different people? Is there a shortage or trade for this material?
17. Myth/Legend: Describe a common old wives’ tale or conspiracy theory from a region of your world. Does it hold any truth?
Who continues these tales? Is it covering up elements of truth? If so, who benefits from the coverup? Has the legend/myth evolved over time? Does it have a purpose (encouraging safe practises, protecting health, making children behave)?
Fear of the unknown is a common seed.
- Faked moon landing
- Can be about an omen or something that you know will happen
- Tradition of putting a root under your pillow to cure sickness and it turns out that the root has antibacterial properties
- End of the World
- Area 51 (Used for US drone testing that the public thought were UFOs)
- Kennedy Assassination
18. Natural Law: Write about the events of a devastating natural disaster in your world, either past or present.
Is this a common or uncommon occurrence? Is it natural to your world or imposed by something else (alien, deity, etc) ? Consequence of species action? Was it predicted? Was it slow-building or a sudden event? Who survived and how? What were the after effects? Is the cause known?
Needs to be written from the perspective of the past or present not the future – need to show how it has impacted the world (or at least the area).
- Vesuvius/destruction of Pompeii
- An ice age
- Gods can cause the natural disaster
- Can be man-made (aftershock or otherwise)
- The end of the world
- Spell plague
- Forest fires
- Fracking causing earthquakes
- Celestial event e.g. solar flare, loss of a moon, planetary movement, collision, nearby star death
Lots of questions about whether it could be caused by gods – answer was absolutely.
19. Geographic: Describe a location in your world that is brimming with diverse or bizarre flora and fauna.
How well known is this place? Is it protected or vulnerable? What makes this unique? If it’s protected, what’s protecting it and how? Why is it bizarre? What’s changed them? Was it something in the environment, or a human-imposed mutation gone wrong?
- Coral reef
- Undiscovered area of space undiscovered by humans
- Dinosaur-safe place
- Why is it diverse? Bio? Ecosystem?
- Why is it bizarre? Long-Term Isolation? Unique Environment? Triggered Mutations?
- Can be caused by aliens
- Deep sea areas
- Should be a natural area, not a building
- Can be something that has all flora and no fauna
There was a question about whether a place where the plants had become so poisonous that there weren’t any animals left would count. I can’t remember the answer…
20. Organisation: Write about an organisation in your world that has become so powerful it’s above the law.
What is this organization’s relationship with the law? What is this organization’s relationship with the surrounding community? How is this organization viewed by those outside it? What makes them above the law? Population? Wealth? Contacts? Social Status? History? Might? Fear?
Needs to be an organization that can and is breaking the law without being in fear of the repercussions. Can be law-makers but they need to be acting against the established law, not just changing them to protect themselves. Remember, the strong do what they want and weak do what they must.
- Secret Organisations: Illuminati, KGB
- Government Leaders: Dictators, Military Leaders, Monarchs, local major
- Public Organisations: Corporations, Universities, local tavern owner
- Spiritual Organisations: Religion/Religious leader, Pantheon
- Blatantly illicit organisations: Drug cartels, Mafia, Temple of Black and White [Game of Thrones]
- Biker gangs
Interesting prompt. Pretty clear for me with the Thieves’ Guild in Akorros… Also The Unseen University in the Discworld was put forward as an example.
Plenty of discussion. One key point I took from that was it was felt that a government embodied the law and hence didn’t count as above it.
Released 20th July (Gold Wave):
21. Profession: Describe a profession in your world that has always been, or recently became, illegal.
Think about not just the profession but the culture round about it and how it impacts on the rest of the world.
It may have always been illegal, or a change in the law could have recently made it illegal. Something which is recently illegal can give an idea of struggles and strife and conflicts within the groups and organisations of the world.
It may have been something which wasn’t originally illegal but got taken over for illegal purposes – example is Napster which was a file-sharing network which got used for illegal copying. It may be something which wasn’t illegal until the legislation caught up. And it doesn’t need to be illegal everywhere – different locations have different laws. Think tax havens or prostitution, or the opium wars.
- Gentlemen assassins
- Black marketeers during the second world war would exploit the market to avoid rationing and taxes
- Underground cities
- Illegal file copying using Napster
- Magic could be illegal – there are plenty of examples using that trope
- Opium and other drug cartels
- Masonry and other building work where only the government has the right to build
- Street Performers/Buskers
- Drug Cartels (Film, Sicario)
- Money forging
- Mining a protected resource/location
- Hunting/Foraging a protected resource
- Making a product after someone else bought rights/patents to it or the product was banned
- Mimes in Ankh-Morpork (Terry Pratchett’s Discworld)
Prostitution is interesting in how different nations and cultures perceive it.
Being an intelligence operative (spy) is illegal everywhere except in the country you serve. Or maybe it’s not official spying – think of industrial espionage.
When making an article on occupations made illegal, think of your world’s politics or environment. Literally anything could be made illegal provided enough reason. It could be something logical, e.g. a redundancy, inherent danger, or economical/societal issues, or because of something utterly illogical such as prejudice, a ruler’s whim, a basic misunderstanding or accident. So long as a clear reason is provided for the occupation’s change in legal status it’s basically a free for all.
22. Building: Write about the headquarters of an organisation in your world.
It could be a large or small building, legal or illegal, obvious or discreet. Is this where records are held? Meeting? resources?
- Town Hall
- Religious Building
- Thieves Guild
- Back room of the Tavern where the mafia head has his special table
- Headquarters of the local police
- The organisation could be a family
- Pocket dimension
- The back room where rebels secretly meet
- “Pete’s place, cause he’s got the nice couch!”
- How about a portable building – it moves as needed (think the Biblical Tabernacle)
It could be a building which used to be a headquarters and has now fallen into disuse.
For a large organisation it could be a region. The Catholic Churchs’ headquarters is the Vatican City, a legal nation state.
23: Settlement: describe a settlement that is famous for a particular resource or product that is created there
Think about not just the resource, but also why that place is associated with it, how it affects the economy and people, whether it requires import or export, what trade networks there are for it. Maybe there are people they don’t trade with.
For example, a wine-producing settlement will have a host of secondary and tertiary businesses feeding into it – grape growers, who require fertiliser and workers and pickers, coopers and barrel-makers, who require loggers and timber and iron for the hoops…
Don’t forget to mention why this settlement stands above others with similar products.
- Coals in Newcastle
- Belgian lace
- Bruges became synonymous with chocolate
- Dundee – jam, jute and journalism
- Kavala in Greece is synonymous with furs
- Northern Italy – cheese
- Kentucky Bourbon
- Swedish Meatballs
- Tilamook cheese
- Limoncello in Sicily
- Oil – olive, whale blubber, rape-seed, etc
- Parma ham
- Santorini, which has volcanic soil and very dry conditions: dry white wine, white aubergines, sun dried tomatoes, capers, fava sauce
- Sugar cane
- Gold rush town, champagne, chocolate
- Detroit – cars
- Mining Town
- Magic crystals
- Barley and similar grains
- Stainless steel and silver cutlery (thinking Sheffield in UK)
- Crude Oil
24: Organisation: Describe a law-enforcing organisation within your world and how they operate
This could be an official organisation or unofficial. It could be vigilantes or some sort of secret organisation dedicated to law and order.
- The watchmen from fantasy tropes (but see below)
- Town guards
- Vigilantes – enforcing the law but themselves above the law
- Bounty hunters
- People dedicated to hunting down grave-robbers or necromancers
- Thieves’ guild in Ankh-Morpork in Terry Pratchett – pay the regular fee and you’re okay, and they police the unlicenced thieves.
- Some sort of code enforcement – buildings, vehicles, FDA enforcement, import/export laws, customs
- Enforcement of limits on magic use
- Interplanar Law enforcement
- Metropolitan Police
- OSHA (This doesn’t need to just be police style law enforcement!)
- IRS/Tax oversight (Al Capone)
- Marvel – The Avengers (including the broader organisation SHIELD)
A couple of interesting historical snippets:
The watchmen or police are late arrivals in Mediaeval Europe. It wasn’t until the 18th Century when the Bow Street Runners appeared in England – the first official police force.
Some locations, the elected politicians were responsible for keeping law and order, so they hired guards to enforce this. So there was a police force but it was a personal force of the politician rather than an official force of the city.
25: Tradition: Write about a food-focussed event in your world and describe how it is celebrated
It must be a tradition. Describe what goes on during the event, the history – how did it start, how has it evolved – what happens at different times during the day, how long does it last, what is eaten or not eaten, what comes before/after (fasting),
- Harvest Festival
- Cheese tasting
- Oktoberfest – beer, cheese, bretzeln, Obatzda, cucumber, radish
- Pie-eating contest
- Local Fair
- Ramadan – the fasting is tough but the celebration with Eidd at the end is even better by comparison
- Cannibal Appreciation Day
- When the supply ship comes
- April 20th Munchie Day
- American Thanksgiving
- Christmas – orange at the bottom of your stocking
- Mardi Gras
- Carnival related to food
- Madrigal Dinners
- Wedding Rehearsal Dinner
- Official Food Fight
- Community Food Processing Event, e.g. wine making, cheese making, pre-winter pickling and smoking
It could be a fast or involve fasting, such as Ramadan or Lent, and it could include the celebration at the end when the fast is over.
26: Technology: Write about a technology from the history of your world – is it lost to the ages or did it shape the world today?
Think about not just the technology, but also the impact it had on the world. What is it made of? What process was used to create it? What changes did it enable?
Everyone thinks of high technology, space age, Star Trek when talking about technology, but things now considered basic were world-changing when they were invented.
The technology doesn’t need to be a thing, it could be a process which makes raw materials usable or makes refining more efficient and hence cheaper and more available. Think of the refining of iron ore into pig iron into iron into steel.
- The wheel
- Sailing – this has multiple technologies – floating, square sails, triangular sails which allowed sailing against the wind, the central keel which gave added stability
- Water plumbing
- Greek Fire – an example of a lost invention. We know they had it and we think we know what they did with it but we’re not sure and the evidence is lost in the mists of time.
- Duct tape
- Damascus Steel
- Medicine – many different technologies here
- Grinding for lenses
- Sewing needle
- Magnetism and compasses
- The spinning jenny
- Space travel
- Laser guns
- Healing magic
- Lost magic
- Weapon forging, specially if enchanted
- Pumps — No pumps, no broad irrigation, plumbing, farming, or air conditioning.
- Spring Coil
The heavy plough changed how much food could be grown and enabled a surplus, freeing up people to work on other specialisms and enabling trade and cities.
The technology doesn’t need to be successful – it could have been developed then abandoned when it didn’t provide the hoped-for benefits.
27. Condition: Describe any condition or disease for which a cure has recently been developed
We want to know about the condition, the treatment, and the effect it has on society that a cure is now available. Having a treatment for a disease which was formerly fatal becomes a catalyst that changes the world.
- Smallpox – went from being a killer to something no longer a problem once the vaccine was developed
- Cancer – often talked about in science fiction as “remember when cancer used to kill people”. Think also of the scene in Star Trek IV the Voyage home: https://youtu.be/1i3gp_aN1cs
- Bacterial infections which responded to penicillin
- Vaccine/cure for Covid-19
Not necessarily a disease
- Inherited madness
- Common cold
- Magical afflictions
- Amputations and replacement limbs/parts
This could be a plant or creature disease, not necessarily a human(oid) disease. And it could be a treatment which contains the disease rather than necessarily a cure.
28. Settlement: Write about the history of a settlement that was almost entirely wiped out and was then rebuilt.
This one is more specific than most of the other prompts, and more of a challenge – but we are getting to the end…
This is not necessarily about the settlement itself, but about what happened. How was it wiped out? What was left? How was it rebuilt.
- Siege – during which most of the population starved or died of illness
- Ascended to higher plane
- Judgement day
- Natural disaster – volcano, tsunami
- Magical disaster
- Dug too deep
- Doesn’t need to be a disaster – could just be economic drift – people moving from the country to the city for jobs, leaving ghost towns behind. This could then be reversed – now people are moving back out of the cities and doing up the old buildings in the towns.
- An event which caused the society to evacuate en masse
- Ancient ruins
- San Francisco after the big Earthquake in 1906, New Orleans after Katrina. London after World War II.
It doesn’t need to be completely destroyed – 40-60% lost in a siege is perfectly sufficient.
It could have been wiped out and rebuilt, even if it is later destroyed completely.
29. Species: Write about a species in your world that is bred or farmed for a high value resource
This could be animal or plant, and may be valuable in terms of money or in terms of importance.
Does not have to be expensive, can be high value, like corn, can be bred for drugs/magic/aphrodisiac. Species can be bred for the drug prompt #5.
- Sky bison
- Elephants – ivory, war elephants
- Hair was very saleable in Victorian England
- Drugs (e.g. opium poppies)
- Magic ingredients
- Medicinal – whether effective or not
- Sheep for wool
- Animal fighting rings
- Staple foodstuff – corn, potatoes. It means people are fed and can live and thrive, so is valuable in that sense even if it isn’t expensive
- Species that increase yield via eating parasites/predators or encouraging plant health/growth
It could be a living creature which is valuable in itself – racehorses, greyhounds, fighting dogs, war elephants
30. Character: Write about an unassuming character who secretly controls things from behind the scenes
This is someone who no-one thinks twice about, who is not in the forefront, but is secretly the power pulling the strings behind the curtain
- Grand Vizier
- Drug lord
- The inoffensive craftsman who’s secretly the head of the Thieves’ Guild
- God that walks the Earth
- Evil sentient cat overlord
- Preacher with doomsday cult
- Friendly next door neighbour is a necromancer
- Behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz (Oscar)
- Lucifer – although flashy, he seems like just a nice guy with pretensions, not someone who will steal your soul away
- Shapeshifter – dragons who can become humans and move among them unnoticed
- Fortune Teller
- The shaggy wanderer who walks about giving advice to adventurers, setting them on their paths
- Friendly Advisor
- Person in control of a valued resource
- Frail old lady in charge of a guild of assassins
- Many Greek gods roamed the Earth and slept with human women thus creating the Demigods
Released 30th July (Platinum Wave):
31.Material: Describe a material in your world that is used as a source of fuel or power
This could be either a source of power as in fuel, or a source of political power (ie. controlling the material brings power) – Handwavium is fine, you do not have to go all-out science, depending on your world
- Oil (crude, whale, etc)
- Psychic/Magical Power Storage Crystals
- Corn Oil
- A Battery
- Having a Resource can also be a Source of Power (Owning a diamond mine gives the mine owner a source of power)
- Magnets and Magnetism
- Janet said humans (likely meaning using people parts as people themselves are not a material) (:O)
- Hydroelectric Dams
- Spice (Dune)
- Storm power
- In a land which runs on magnetic clockwork, the magnets could be the material providing the power
- Being the only country with steel brings huge power – able to build bigger buildings, better ships, better weapons, stronger fortifications, hence powerful than surrounding countries
- Similarly iron in the bronze age, bronze in the stone age
- A material which generates light in the darkness
It doesn’t have to be a tangible material – think solar or wind power for example.
- could a material which causes hate in someone be a form of power? Yes, as long as it’s the material and not the hate which is the focus; just goading someone to hate wouldn’t work.
- could slaves be the form of power? No – they don’t really count as a material.
32. Document: Write about a famous agreement, contract, or treaty that shaped the history of your world
For inspiration, you could think about the relations between different parts of your world and dig into how they came to be…and then there will probably be multiple documents codifying it.
- Treaty of Versailles
- Written laws
- “Magical Safety Act” – all magic users must register
- Declaration of War
- International Trade Agreements
- Corporate mergers
- In the US the US Government has treaties with various
- Workplace Union Agreements
- Twitch Streams
It does not have to be a manuscript. Other examples:
- Stone tablets
- Carvings on walls
- Quipu (knotted cords used by the Incas among others)
It doesn’t need to have been signed – it could have been refused and burnt, which triggers a revolt/revolution
It doesn’t need to be recognised by all parties – think of the US Declaration of Independence which wasn’t recognised by the UK
33. Military Conflict: Describe the effects of a conflict that started due to an unusual or unforeseen circumstance
This could be a conflict of any size – major world war to minor family argument.
Ideas for triggers:
- Natural disaster
- Unexpected Deaths
- A Language Misunderstanding
- Cultural Misunderstanding
- Someone drank from someone else’s tankard
- Astronomical event – e.g. eclipse, new star, star/planet disappearing
- Franz Ferdinand
- Family disagreement
- Assassinations are rarely predicted
- Rap Battles
- Astrological Events
- Copyright disagreements
Example of a minor battle from Janet from last year’s Summer Camp: The Pudding War: someone spilled dessert on someone else at a high-up diplomatic meeting which triggered a major food fight between the attendees. It just lasted 45 mins until someone brought in the coffee and distracted them.
Happy Worldbuilding, Grab Your Hammers and GO WORLDBUILD!
No matter how many articles you have completed, take pride in your world as every new article is one more article you have than before SummerCamp began.