The next set of prompts for WorldAnvil Summer Camp 2020 have now been released. If you missed the stream, catch up here. Here’s my unpacking of the new prompts, and I have also updated WorldAnvil SummerCamp 2020 to cover all of the prompts.
Does the world 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).
Completing 10, 20 or 30 articles gets you the appropriate badge(s) and gains entry into the corresponding prize draw(s).
The prompts which have been sponsored for prizes will have the winner chosen by the sponsor by whatever method they choose – which remains confidential. It may be completely random such as rolling a dice, or it may be based on the content, but it’s up to them and the process is deliberately not public.
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 in a world where all buildings must be approved by the government
- Street Performers/Buskers
- Drug Cartels (Film, Sicario)
- Money forging
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.
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.
- 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!” – Ademal
It could be a building which used to be a headquarters and has now fallen into disuse.
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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