Worldbuilding Challenge: Welcome To Blackbloom

Last week’s “three-sentence challenge” is ready for your eyes to behold.

This week’s challenge is a little different.

You’ll note that it does not say “flash fiction.”

It says “worldbuilding.”

Here’s the deal. You and me, we’re going to build a world. Out of scratch. This is tabula rasa, and by smashing our faces against the screen and leaving upon it a gooey streak of blood and brain matter (aka “imagination grease”) we are going to birth a world out of zippity-zero-nada-nichts. From nothing to something, from chaos comes order.

We’re not going to do it all today.

We will, in fact, do it once a month. Every last Friday of the month for one year, or… until this thought experiment fails miserably and crashes into the mountains where it’s forced to eat its friends.

Sometimes we’ll be doing some straight-up worldbuilding, other times we’ll dig deeper and start telling stories set in this world. But before the stories, the world itself must be made.

What are the aims of this weird little experiment? I don’t even know. Part of it is just to see if we can build a world that is a place where fiction can live — can a series of strangers collaborate on a world in such a way to generate a seed bed where stories can grow and thrive? I don’t know. But I’m here to find out.

We’ll play in this crazy generative playground, see what happens.

Let’s begin.

These are the only things you know about Blackbloom.

First, that is its name. Blackbloom.

Second, it is a place where human and non-humans alike dwell.

That’s it. That’s all we know. Everything else is up in the air. Everything else is suspect. Nothing is canonical. All is apocryphal. Like I said: chaos. From chaos we shall draw a deep syringe filled with truth.

Today’s mission is for each of you to provide one aspect of the world in under 100 words. This aspect is a point of status quo: it defines the world as it is now. Not as it will become.

You might say: “It has two suns.” Or, “Water is a precious resource.” Or, “Two warring factions fight over the world’s largest city.” Define the reality as it is now. Define Blackbloom’s current existence.

You can say whatever you’d like. Given that so little is defined, you’ve nothing to build from — but also, nothing to hold you back. This is the act of creation, the weird Genesis of a made-up world.

Thus, feel free to be as creative as you’d like. As weird as you must be.

I will pick… we’ll say 10 of these, but if I see more that are really awesome, I’ll up to… let’s say “20.” That’s my job in all of this: to serve not as deity but rather as adjuticator.

I’ll pick those by the time the next Worldbuilding Challenge rolls around.

Which will be…

October 28th.

Now, get your pick-axes and encyclopedias.

Go nuts.

Create a world.

And welcome to Blackbloom.


  • Blackbloom, like Earth, formed amid the gaseous explosions and rocky collisions in the middle of empty space, as the universe was being born. Like Earth, life sprung forth from the dark, primordial spaces in swamps, rivers, oceans. Like Earth, carbon-based life forms evolved over eons into sentient beings.

    And like Earth and her ever-expanding population of humans, the beings of Blackbloom consume more their own planet’s natural resources than they replace.

    Those that inhabit Blackbloom intend to do something dramatic about it. These beings of Blackbloom are, as it happens, far more advanced that Earthlings. Technologically, scientifically, intellectually.

    Blackbloom is dying. And the Blackbloom inhabitants are looking for another planet.

    They think they’ve found just the one.

  • Arlene Angelina Devereux pulls the axe from the corpse, splashing gore upon her worn jeans. She looks angry at the still twitching body kicking its feet. “They are all the same aren’t they?” “It’s easier to think so, but they aren’t. ” The man next to her is tall and dark-skinned wearing an unnaturally wide grin. “Mort, when will all this end? How long must I hold this mantle?” Mort points his grin towards Arlene with sunken eyes that gleam malicious intent and says, “As long as it takes.” Hard resolve washes across her features.
    Welcome to Blackbloom.

  • Blackbloom did not used to be Blackbloom, but no one likes to think about it now. IT reminds them of things that they cannot have anymore, and that list is long enough to choke a ryrfin, as the old grandmothers say. Blackbloom is where they live now, and what they live with.
    It starts as a raised, itchy darkness around the nailbeds, just as you are sprouting your first hairs about the privates. By the time you are full grown, it is a rustling, inky glove halfway up your forearms. And when they lay you in your grave, you are cloaked head to toe in the Bloom, your features hidden, your eyes shadowed, your skin a distant memory.

  • Seems like y’all are posting everything inline. Whoops.

    During the midwinter festivals on the continent, families fell an elm, stand it in their homes, and decorate it with candles. “When Shadows Bloom” is a popular candle-lighting carol. The lyrics suggest that the tree and candles drives away the long winter nights. On Solstice, when the nights begin to shorten, the tree is chopped for the family’s hearth.

    The elm is likely used because N. Umbrosia is commonly found on his branches. The black leaves of this plant, commonly called blackbloom, must have seemed to our savage ancestors to be the ever-lengthening night being absorbed by the elm.

  • At the rotten heart of a dying world, Blackbloom thrives. Though the planet above – poisonous, ruined, wild – is quarantined, a black market warren whose tunnels stretch beneath the whole planet nonetheless plays host to all manner of unsavoury sentients. Though once benign, the plants of the feral jungle overhead have changed as the daystar wanes, their properties grown mysterious and fey. Potions, poisons, panaceas – for any who manage brave the surface, reclaim its treasures and live to sell them after, a hungry market exists on other worlds for the fruits of Blackbloom: the Maze of Dead Flowers.

  • Blackbloom: a space station orbiting Europa. Earth is in desperate need of fresh water.

    Drilling is going well, popular opinion polls tell us we are favored among the human race. Living far from home is weird, but not in a bad way. Last week, A comet flashed by us trailing a cloud of ice crystals. Everything looks different here, so far from the sun.

    We’d be perfect if it weren’t for the black tar that gums up the works of the drill. Every day half of us drill and half of us burn away tar. The brains are working on a solution, but so far, burning it off seems to work just fine.

  • The cultures of Blackbloom do not make a distinction between singing and dancing. A singer who does not dance is considered ‘quiet’ and a dancer who does not sing is considered drab or pale.
    Asking a friend for a forgotten lyric is done by miming the steps as often as by humming the tune.

  • (Had another idea..hope we can make multiple entries…>.>)

    Blackbloom is actually a bead of sweat on the skin of a sleeping god. Not that anyone inside it KNOWS that. All the strange creatures inside the city know is that they live in a saline bubble, bordered on one side by a slowly moving ‘ground’ Though others demand it is a ‘wall’, not that it matters, gravity doesn’t exist here. It has been moving for generations, surely it will continue? What of this strange darkness that looms though the membrane of the bubble? The Seers predict Doom. But don’t they always?

  • Blackbloom is a world in which the battle has already been won; the corporate masters overthrown, the senate dissolved and reinstated to Platonic ideals with Aristotelian common sense. But the underworld is filled with loosely organized cells of resistance — some of whom are led by former power-brokers who escaped the guillotine, some led by idealists who believe fervently in the personal right to wealth. They control the shattered landscape beyond the walls of the great citadel-cities, building inevitable revolution.

  • In Blackboom, there is a machine that at precisely dawn, declares the date of death [day, month and year] to all newborns on that day. Because of the sensitivity of this information and the pressure of achieving as much as possible within the time frame, parents hide pregnancies, lie about their children’s age and birthdays are never celebrated, so that the child will never learn the day of their death.

  • The world was once terraformed. Aliens had seeded it With algae spores. These spores grew on all the wet things, killed some of them, and converted others. It was a very painful process. Creatures walked around, bodies half-covered in algae, going mad from pain.

    The algae spores are a modified version of filamentous green algae, which does conjugal reproduction (trading DNA with other species). The algae takes the sulfur out of the SO2 atmosphere, leaving the free oxygen that the original lifeforms are allergic to.

    The algae is still out there. Occasionally there’s an outbreak. Non-natives are particularly vulnerable.

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