Tools of the Trade: Campfire Write Review
Today I wanted to take a look into one of the programs I use in my writing, and talk about how it has changed, and whether it is worth it! This product is now called Campfire Write, but when I bought it, it was Campfire Pro.
On the whole, it is a great tool for worldbuilding, with a plethora of features in an easy-to-use app. I have been using it for the last couple of years to plan the two major worlds in which I set my stories, one of which is Ekra, where Tales of the Marked takes place.
Throughout last year, I did some intense work on one of my worlds (which I am as yet not ready to show people), and Campfire was really helpful for that. I’ll talk about three features that I found really helpful in my writing.
The characters template provides a lot of structure for building characters. It looks at not just physical features, beliefs, and sexuality, but also encourages you to think about backstory, formative experiences and much more. A great feature is its linking feature which allows you to link characters to events, locations and so much more.
I find the encyclopaedia to be one of the most helpful tools, even though it actually has the least amount of ‘template’ suggestions out of all of them. It is a free-form style which allows you to group and write internal articles but can be an effective way of just getting your thoughts down. The style. For example, I was able to write about the world using the lens of the ‘Ten Pillars of Society’.
One of the first areas I really specialised in my other project was the magic—it is of a far different kind to what is in Tales of the Marked. In Tales of the Marked, the Marks are the key magic: Heirs blessed
by Nestham Himself, symbols of power and deadly warriors. However, Campfire’s structure in creating a magic system really enabled me to create a ‘hard’ magic system by giving me a strong basis on where to put the rules and go from there!
Unfortunately, I’ve reason to disagree with Campfire’s operating model. When I purchased it a couple of years ago, a lifetime licence cost me roughly $70. Fairly steep but for a full subscription and all the features, it was fantastic.
However, Campfire Pro, the version I purchased, has now become Campfire Write, transitioning to a subscription-based system, where you only pay for the features that you use. This transition occurred in January 2022, and I haven’t been particularly impressed since I purchased it on the understanding I’d have access to all the systems.
As thanks for buying the Pro version, I was able to pick one feature to keep permanently and was put back onto the free version for all the others. I am over the ‘limit’ for the rest of the features and cannot create new characters without paying for them. Fortunately, my existing ones have not been deleted.
Since I picked the encyclopaedia as my locked-in option, I have transitioned to putting most of my information in there, which is a shame because the other features are far better.
Essentially, it would cost over $200 for me to unlock permanently all the features I once paid $70 to unlock in the first place. I’ve seen reviews that it’s great for people who want to focus on individual aspects of worldbuilding—and that’s great, it’s just not good if you spent money to get all the packs first—and then lose access to them.
Long story short, Campfire is a great tool—you just need to think carefully about what you would use it for and if it’s worth the cost.
If you use Campfire, let me know how you think it is!