The Worldbuilding Summer Camp is here! This first prompt wave is themed around Change, so let’s look at how you can approach this theme and the various prompts!

The copper theme: change

Tumultuous times are interesting moments to set stories in, whether they be due to natural disasters, sickness, conflicts, or others. Characters face unusual challenges, infrastructure breaks down, and society as a whole can change. Change can be big and small—from the size of a small community or city to the entire universe—, and it can be positive and negative. With these prompts, you’ll think about changes that have happened (or are happening) in your world and how people are dealing with them.

Summer Camp 2024 Copper prompts

Change prompts

These are the prompts that follow the theme of Change. To answer them, visit the Summer Camp challenge page!

Somewhere in your world, describe…

1. A tumultuous region prone to natural disasters [Geography]

Japan, San Francisco, Reykjavik

Natural disasters are scary because we can’t control them at all, but that’s also why they’re so interesting to write about! How has this area in your world adapted to natural disasters, and how has this affected its people? Remember that natural disasters can also be caused by magic or even by fantastical creatures that cause them by accident.

2. An environmental or other large-scale natural disaster [Natural Law]

Highstorms (Stormlight Archive), Iron Wind (Numenera)

You wrote about the place, now it’s time to write about the thing! If you choose a natural disaster that also exists on Earth, you can twist it into a unique version of your world. For example, in Stormlight Archive highstorms are huge hurricanes… that also happen to be related to the magic system, the natural environment as a whole, and even currency! In the Numenera RPG, the Iron Wind looks like a sandstorm, but it’s made of nano-tech that constantly changes everything it touches (it’s almost like it was made for this week’s theme!)

3. A character who goes through a great change or metamorphosis [Character]

Aragorn (Lord of the Rings), Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender), most protagonists in fiction

Change can happen not only in the world but also within a person. And that’s actually what makes characters interesting to read about or play! In The Lord of the Rings movies, Aragorn becomes king of Gondor even though he initially refused to take the throne (it’s different in the books). In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko goes through a masterfully written redemption arc. To plot out the character arc, think about their motivations first. What drives them to change, and why do they accept (or initially refuse) this drive?

4. A sickness that caused societal upheaval [Condition]

Covid, Bubonic Plague, Demon Worms (Princess Mononoke)

Change doesn’t only come from natural disasters. As we saw recently in the real world, diseases can also seriously affect society as a whole and challenge many things we take for granted. But world-changing conditions don’t have to affect humans: in Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, Demon Worms is a condition caused by hatred that mostly affects forest gods. Of course, in a world where gods take on a physical form, that is very dangerous and is one of the problems that the protagonists must face. Demon Worms are also closely tied to the themes of the movie—so use that as a starting point: look at your meta and consider what kind of condition would serve the themes you want to deal with.

5. A document that changed the course of history [Document]

Legal documents, the Bible, peace treaties, King Robert’s will (A Song of Ice and Fire)

Words are so powerful that one document can completely change everything. And while legal documents are the clearest examples of this, other types of texts can also change the world. A letter sent in secret by a powerful person, or religious scriptures, are just as powerful. Sometimes, the document itself ends up not being that influential, but everything that happens around it is, such as King Robert’s will in A Song of Ice and Fire. So, for this prompt: is your document an answer to a change that’s happening, or is it the cause of the change? Remember also that documents don’t have to be written! Videos, music, and art are also documents with the potential to change the world.

6. A displaced people in your world [Ethnicity]

Refugees, Elves (The Lord of the Rings)

Societal change can force people to leave their homeland for a variety of reasons. In The Lord of the Rings, elves are slowly leaving Middle Earth to make way for humans as the world is changing too fast for their immortal minds. Of course, most people are displaced against their will, be it due to war, poor living conditions, or other difficulties. Think about the relationship between these people and the change they are experiencing. How would it affect their culture and traditions? And where did they go (and why)?

7. A conflict that involved a changing environment [Military Conflict]

French Revolution, Last March of the Ents (The Lord of the Rings), climax of Treasure Planet

There are many directions you can take this prompt! It could be a literally changing environment, such as the climactic scene in Disney’s Treasure Planet, which takes place while the planet is literally collapsing on itself. But it could also be metaphorical; for example, the French Revolution caused a changing social and political environment by ending the monarchy. The change could also be the cause of the conflict: in The Lord of the Rings, the last march of the ents happens because of how Saruman changed the literal environment around Isengar. In any case, make sure that the change is the focus of this conflict!

8. A vehicle that, when introduced, caused social upheaval [Vehicle]

Bicycles, trains, cars, spaceships

Transportation is an essential part of any society, as this is how resources can be moved from place to place. Faster transportation means easier access to all kinds of resources, which in turn means more wealth for that society. For a different example, the invention of bicycles contributed a ton to women’s rights during the suffragette movement (more info)! However, not all changes brought by new methods of transportation are positive. Especially in the short term, many people who worked in the transportation industry might lose their jobs as they become redundant, which would cause a lot of social unrest. Think about how this vehicle would interact with the other prompts too: is this how the displaced people moved? Or maybe it’s a vehicle capable of withstanding the natural disaster you created!

Wild card prompts

Every week, we also release two prompts that are not related to the theme, so you can answer them instead if you want to take a break from the main theme! Here they are:

9. A myth about food [Myth]

Golden apple, Mana from Heaven, Ambrosia

Food is super fun to think about when worldbuilding, because it can show a lot about a culture without explicitly saying it. The ingredients they have access to, their technological level, and their values or beliefs will change the type of food they have. But for this one, let’s take a step back and think about a myth instead of real food. What is an ideal food from the point of view of your culture? Or, what is the opposite of ideal, if you want to write a darker myth? Think about not only the shape and taste but also about its symbolism. And remember that cultures will only be able to come up with food based on the kind of food they know!

10. A building associated with joy and fun [Building]

Fun house, library, theater

Have some fun with this one! Where do people in your world go to have fun? The way you define fun is up to you… or rather, up to the people in your world! For example, if you’re reading this, you’d probably have a ton of fun in a building dedicated to worldbuilding, but you probably also know people who would find it incredibly boring. Everyone has different definitions of fun, so this is your chance to come up with something that uniquely expresses the values of a culture (or a subset of people in it).


Excited to get the second prompt wave? Because we’re excited to show them to you! Make sure to tune into next Saturday’s stream at 6pm UK/10am Pacific to be the first to know the 8 Refuge prompts and two new Wild Card prompts. Remember that to get Copper, you need to complete any 8 prompts, not necessarily the ones in this wave!

What are your tips for this theme? Share in the comments—and go to the challenge page to answer the prompts!