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

The silver theme: refuge

Where do you go when everything around you changes? A refuge can be a literal place (like a building or a city), but it can also be anything that keeps you safe or comforts you. The change someone takes refuge from can also be small in the grand scheme of things—sometimes, small changes can have deep consequences on a specific person or group. You can tie this in with the previous week’s theme and make these prompts about how your world responds to whatever change you wrote about, or come up with something completely different!

Summer Camp 2024 Silver prompts

Refuge prompts

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

Somewhere in your world, describe…

11. A settlement considered a refuge [Settlement]

Refugee camp, Ellis Island (USA), Ba Sing Se (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Refuges are often seen as beacons of hope for those looking for a better life. Of course, not everything’s positive about these places, which is a great way to introduce local conflict in your world. In the real world, refugee camps often have poor living conditions, and, while many people saw (and still see) the US as a refuge, it’s not a perfect country either. In the world of Avatar, the city of Ba Sing Se is a refuge from the horrors of the fire nation, but it’s also a totalitarian police state. Not everyone might see these places as a refuge, and they may even want out!

12. A technology used for defense or protection [Technology]

Counter-siege weapons, shield generators, sea dams, base isolation system for earthquakes

The first thing you may associate with protection is aggression, but not all defensive technologies are about weapons and shields! For example, countries prone to earthquakes often use a special type of foundation to protect the building whenever an earthquake starts. For another example, the Netherlands is well-known for its sea dams that protect it from flooding. So, when thinking about this, consider what your world’s societies primarily worry about, and create a technology that minimizes its effects!

13. A naturally sheltered place [Geography]

Oasis, caves, Kholinar city (The Stormlight Archive)

Why build a refuge when you can find one in nature? Even many refuges that are built by humans will be based on natural features so that you don’t have to create them from scratch. Think of buildings that use caves as part of their structure, or small settlements around an oasis (like an Avatar: The Last Airbender). A more large-scale fictional example of this is Kholinar City, a large settlement built under a set of natural rock formations that shelter it from the massive hurricanes they basically deal with every week. So try to think about the level of modification that place would have (if any) and what it is sheltering its inhabitants from.

14. A building considered a refuge against the world [Building]

Monasteries, libraries, hospitals

A refuge doesn’t have to be against something physical. Sometimes, you just need a place where you can rest for a time. Monks, for example, tend to be at least a bit isolated from the outside world for their entire lives. But even buildings like libraries are a temporary refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city—just think of the immediate silence and focused environment that surrounds you when you walk into one. And this is something you can reproduce in your own building! These places will usually feel different than the outside world, be it background prayers, focused silence, or pained groans. Make sure to describe its atmosphere to show your audience why it is considered a refuge.

15. A unit dedicated to guarding someone or something [Military Formation]

Secret Service, King’s Guard, Night Watch (A Song of Ice and Fire)

Protection units make for amazing worldbuilding material because they connect to many aspects of the world. To start with, they will be protecting something (or someone) important from something (or someone) that is also important—but for different reasons! They will often be part of a larger faction with specific goals and flaws, they contain entire characters and, due to the nature of their work, they’ll usually have something secret or mysterious. This could be anything from strategic details to, in the case of the Night Watch, the existence of zombies threatening to break in and kill everyone. To avoid making this too generic, look at your world’s themes and give the unit a purpose that fits with them. It could even be a secondary, secret purpose if that would fit your setting!

16. A personal item that keeps you safe [Item]

Shields, talismans, biosuits, food (Spirited Away)

Notice how the prompt doesn’t say that the item must be specifically designed to keep you safe. While protective-by-design items are perfect for this prompt, you could take it in so many different directions! For example, in Spirited Away, Chihiro must eat some food from the spirit world to avoid disappearing. Food isn’t designed to keep you safe, but it definitely protected her in that instance. Remember too that an item can be used to protect you from well-known consequences of an action you want to take—like a biosuit! You can also try linking this prompt with the defensive technology in prompt 12. Maybe that technology is part of this item, or maybe this item is a sized-down version of that technology to be used by individuals.

17. A tradition that gives comfort [Tradition]

Thanksgiving, Christmas, food for grieving

This one can also be interpreted in a myriad of ways, it all depends on how you choose to understand “comfort”! But in general, try to think about a tradition that gives off cozy vibes (whatever that means for your world’s cultures). This will usually include doing things with other people, and specifically things that are out of the ordinary in some way. To get started, think about something very important to your culture. It could be related to religion, to natural, or even personal events. Consider the possibility of making a tradition that has evolved over time—maybe it wasn’t always cozy and comforting!

18. A species with protective anatomy [Species]

Turtles, hedgehogs, mimics (Dungeons & Dragons)

We’ve talked about things and places—let’s think about creatures! Now, most species will have some part of their anatomy dedicated to protection. For example, we have skulls, skin, and hair, among other things. But to make things interesting, think of a feature that is very rare or even unique to that species! Turtles have shells, hedgehogs have spines, and mimics have… well, their entire body! Now, I know that the goal of a mimic’s anatomy in “canon” D&D is mostly trapping unaware adventurers. But you’re the god of your universe, so you can totally have species with this type of anatomy for defensive purposes. After all, you don’t need to defend yourself if no one can tell you’re there!

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:

19. A sub-culture considered larger-than-life by some [Ethnicity]

Drag queens, carnies, theater people

Let’s add some color to your world’s cultures! All societies have sub-cultures that take elements of their base culture and either exaggerate them or go against them. These groups are an amazing way to add depth to your world without branching out to different areas or cultures. Of course, “larger-than-life” is a totally subjective opinion about someone, but that’s the point! Why are they perceived like this by some? And do other people have different opinions about them too? As entertainment people can often fall into these sub-cultures, you could tie this into last week’s Wild Card prompt about a building associated with fun!

20. A charity or other organization focused on doing good [Organization]

Red Cross, Jedi Council (Star Wars)

This is another prompt that you can take in many different direction because this organization is doing good… according to whom? As long as the organization either views itself or is viewed as doing good, it fits the prompt even if it doesn’t fit our real-world standards of “good”. You can link it to prompts in both this and last week’s theme, but you can also do your own thing by, you guessed it… looking at your world’s themes and genre! What is considered “good”, as well as what kind of good is needed, will depend on what your world’s needs are.


Excited to get the third 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 Belief prompts and two new Wild Card prompts. Remember that to get Silver, you need to complete any 16 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!