“Summer ca..a..amp, and the writing is easy…”
That’s how World Anvil’s Janet started the introductory stream which kicked off World Anvil Summer Camp 2021. Well, she was a professional opera singer before she and Dimitris started World Anvil…
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I can see you have questions.
What is World Anvil?
World Anvil is an online tool designed for worldbuilding. It was started by Dimitris as a place for Janet to keep track of her characters, locations, relationships and so on for her writing, and has grown into a very richly featured place for keeping your world straight.
It is based around articles of various different types – Buildings, Species, Myths, Items, Technologies, Laws, Materials, Military Conflicts, Settlements, and so on. Each article type comes with prompts which can inspire you in your descriptions, or you can just throw in your text (and images). Articles can be crosslinked, and there are many other ways of navigating around your world as well (which I really need to get better at using in my world).
You can use it for free, or you can subscribe at various different levels to unlock more features and support. Last year they even released a full-blown novel-writing tool for subscribers at Grandmaster and above.
See RPGaDay2020 Day 5: Tribute – a tribute to WorldAnvil and Summer Camp 2020 for more of an introduction to the articles and how the different templates suggest ways to topics to cover for a particular article. Or jump over to World Anvil, get yourself a free account, and get started.
What is Summer Camp?
Summer Camp is their annual month-long summer of writing. They put up various prompts and articles, and you are encouraged to use them in your world. Each article must be new and at least 300 words long, use the appropriate article type and fit the prompt. Beyond that, it’s up to you! There will be a total of 31 prompts released over the month of July in tranches of ten, with a final prompt on Friday 30th taking the total to 31, and you can respond to as many or as few as you want.
The key purpose of this is inspiration for your world, your setting (and also to showcase various of their article types), so you can respond to the prompts in whatever way fits your world and your writing style. However, there are prizes…
- Finish 10 prompts over the month, and you get a Copper badge on your profile and entry into a raffle for all copper participants
- Finish 20 prompts over the month, and you get a Silver badge on your profile and entry into a raffle for all silver participants
- Finish 30 prompts over the month, and you get a Gold badge on your profile and entry into a raffle for all gold participants
- Finish all 31 prompts, and you get a Diamond badge on your profile and entry into a raffle for all diamond participants
- Various of the prompts also have individual sponsors and prizes; the sponsors have complete freedom in how they decide to award their prize
WorldAnvil has attracted prizes from some very special sponsors, with the best prizes (obviously) going to the gold and diamond tier raffles. I can do no better than quote their web site:
- Norse Foundry – dice, coins and shinies
- Kobold Press – worldbuilding guidebooks and tabletop RPG goodies galore!
- Eldritch Foundry – MINIATURES, MINIATURES, MINIATURES!
The first ten prompts were released on the 1st July. They all start “Somewhere in your world or setting, describe…” and are:
#1. Building: A building associated with healing the sick
In every single world, people/animals get sick and need healing. This can be the healing of the body, mind, machine, or spirit.
Examples might include a hospital, healing springs, a church or temple, an animal hospital, a battlefield medic tent, or going further out on a limb (pun not intentional…) a cyberpunk cyborg workshop.
#2. Condition: A medical condition which is feared by some
You can decide how many fear it and why – pretty much everyone, or just a few
Examples might include leprosy, a parasitic infection, vampirism, lycanthropy, disablement, pregnancy (it doesn’t need to be an illness as such), magical abilities.
#3. Technology: A new medical cure, treatment or breakthrough
This could very easily relate to the Condition of prompt #2
It could be a new medicine, a cybernetic enhancement, a vaccine, the combat wheelchair, prosthetics, forced mutation, enhanced understanding of an existing condition or treatment. It doesn’t need to be a complete cure – even if it makes a difference (it could even be a weapon). And magic could count as a technology.
#4. Species: A species of working animal
There are many working animals. Describe a particular one which is significant in your world.
Examples: a donkey, horse or other mount, a battle dinosaur, owls, eagles, doves, falcons, dogs, bacteria used for a specific purpose, insects used to spread something, bees and other pollinators. It could be interesting to go into details of specific breeds – for example every breed of dog was created for a specific purpose, and you can talk about different types of horse trained for riding, for battle, for racing, draught horses. You can also talk about the equipment that goes along with them – for example the barding worn by a fighting mount.
#5. Ethnicity: An ethnicity whose cultural exports are highly sought after
There are plenty of example of cultural groups whose exports have been valued over the years.
It could be concrete items, such as Delft pottery, Swiss watches, Indian sarees, Japanese kimonos. It could be food or drink associated with a particular region – champagne, cheese (think of all the regional cheeses such as Wensleydale, feta, gouda, edam), spices, whisky (and whiskey). It could be more abstract such as the gipsy music, Britpop, the dances of the French courts. It could be a type of religion, politics or dogma.
#6. Item: An extraordinary writing tool or type of writing tool
This could be either a class of article or a specific instance used by a particular person or in a particular situation.
Examples include obvious items like a stylus, quill or cuneiform reed, but also chisels for carving runes or magic wands for sigils and runes. It could be strange and eldritch used only by some people, or it could be ubiquitous. It could be the phoenix quill used by the Shahs of Carasellis to sign their marriage certificates, or the poison pen used to assassinate a king.
#7. Geography: An area or geographical landmark wrapped in myth, legend or superstition
#8. Myth: A myth about a mountain, lake, cave or other landmark
These two prompts are very similar, and the two articles could be linked…or not. #7 has the emphasis on the location, and #8 on the myth.
Ideas include places like a legendary battlefield, a street or location where people disappear like the Bermuda Triangle, a wailing cave. The myth or superstition could have real roots, be an urban legend or be a fairy tale. The more evocative the better.
#9. Myth/Legend: A myth or fairy tale about a prophecy, oracle, fortune telling or other revelation
Another myth, but this time about some sort of prophecy or fortune telling
The prophecy may or may not have come true, or may be yet to come like the return of King Arthur. There are so many different ways people have prophesied through the ages – tea leaves, the flight of birds, the entrails of a goat, tarot cards, a prophecy tree. It could be a superstition. It could be a scientific prediction such as a star collision, an eclipse, a volcanic eruption. Conversely it could be as unscientific as the octopus and the pig said to predict the outcome of football matches.
#10. Tradition: A festival associated with a celestial body
There are many festivals associated with celestial bodies around the world and through the ages. These reveal so much about the culture which embraces them, and can be so useful as backdrop or triggers for conflict, events, drama.
Examples: festival of the moon/sun, midsummer, midwinter, the solstices, eclipses, the day the sun disappears/returns, Easter. It could even be an ad-hoc celebration whenever the moon has a certain glow.
Call to action
So what are you waiting for? Grab your hammer, jump over to World Anvil, get yourself a free account, and get started from the prompts page.