GURPS · Worked Example

World Creation 8 – Bringing the World to Life!

Thursday is GURPSday – which means that it’s time to continue my Example of World Creation series!   If you want to catch up on what we’ve done in the series so far, head here.  (Short version: I’m using a massive system of tables to roll up a new fantasy setting for GURPS, step by step.)

Here is the world map as it currently stands:

Worked Example - Stage 7

Here is a bigger, zoomable version of the map.

Bringing This World to Life….

At this point, we’ve finished making up the basic geography of the world – both the physical geography, and (in a sense) the broad political geography, too.

Now it’s time to bring this world to life!

Normally I’d do this in three steps:

  1. I’d choose to unite some Regions into larger Realms, Kingdoms etc, wherever appropriate.
  2. Then I’d use my System for Creating Fantasy Worlds to determine a “Population Type” and “Theme” for each area.
  3. Lastly, I’d use my (newly posted!) Tables for Creating Fantasy Location Names to come up with evocative-sounding fantasy names for everything.

But for the purposes of the blog, just I’m going to do all these steps at once – it’s just a lot more readable that way.

The Western Riverlands

Let’s start with the river that runs right through the heart of the most civilized regions. This river is particularly interesting, since it forms a kind of border between the more civilized Regions of the North and the more monstrous Regions to the South – a natural stage for conflict!

Here’s the area I’m talking about:

World Creation 8 - The Western Riverlands - Unnamed

Let’s begin by finding out something about that big city in the bottom left corner (the star-in-a-circle-symbol).   Since this is the only city in the area (the black dots are just towns), I think it makes sense to assume that whoever controls that city controls the whole river valley, all the way up to the point at which the river splits.  Thus I hereby declare that those three “Civilized” Regions along the river all belong to the same Realm, ruled from that city.

Let’s see who lives there…

To find out, I roll for “Population Type” and refer to the relevant tables in the system.

(Rolling 1d twice, right now, to determine the Population Type…)

I get a 6 and a 5.  Wow, this means some kind of Beast-folk!  Really?  This is a big surprise – I’d been picturing these guys as plain vanilla humans, bravely guarding the border of the Kingdoms of Men….  this setting just tilted a little toward “high” rather than low fantasy!  Rolling to determine which kind of Beast-folk, I get “Bird, Hawk, Falcon, Eagle” – and I get to choose which.  Hawk appeals to me most…

Hawkfolk 5
Is this what Hawkfolk look like?

…so we now know that these central civilized lands are ruled by the Hawkfolk!  I can imagine that: hawk-headed people proudly defending the border of the civilized world from the horrors that lie beyond it.

Hawkfolk 3
What about this?

I wonder if these Hawkfolk have wings, or whether they’re just humanoids with hawk-like heads?  Let’s decide that later. (Though, come to think of it, my general principle is “Don’t make it up if GURPS already has it”, and GURPS Fantasy Folk already has templates for “Winged Folk” – so I’ll certainly be tempted just to use them as a base for these Hawkfolk…)

Let’s roll for a “Theme” for this kingdom now.

Hawkfolk 1
Even this?

(Rolling for Theme…)

I roll a 2 and a 3, which makes this kingdom “Haunted.”  Hmmm… I’m not sure I like that, even if “The Haunted Kingdom of the Hawkfolk” sounds like a pretty cool name for an old school D&D module. The appearance of the Hawkfolk a moment ago already risked moving things a bit too far towards gonzo for my taste, and adding “haunted” on top of that?  Nah.

So now, for the first time, I’m now going exercise my players’ prerogative and simply re-roll.

(Rolling for Theme again…)

I get a 6 and a 4, which means I get to choose – which is fine with me, since that’s probably what I ought to have opted to do in the first place.  Since I’ve been thinking of the Hawkfolk as proudly defending the border from the legions of Evil, I choose “Militaristic” as the Realm’s Theme.

They’re a warlike people – and they need to be, in this tough neighborhood.

Naming the City of the Hawkfolk

Now I need to name the Hawkfolk’s Realm, and it would also be good to have a name for their main city, as well as for the river itself.  How to come up with these? Luckily, I don’t need to work too hard on this now – instead, I can just head over to my (cough, cough… pretty amazing… cough cough) system of tables for naming fantasy locations. Thanks, previous me.

Hawkfolk 2
A Confused Hawkman, perhaps?

First, a name for the realm.  These are the “Good Guys”, in some sense, so I decide to toy around with the “Names for Good Realms” table

(Rolling for a name now…)

Valiroth.  This sounds just perfect to me – it’s got “Valor” in there, but also “Wrath” (pronounced in the British rather than American way…) – perfect for the Hawkfolk who defend the borderlands from the kingdoms of Evil.

But what about that big city?  Since it’s the only city in the Realm, I think perhaps I’ll just use the same proper name for it, and say that the Realm as a whole is named after the city.  So “Valiroth” it is.  But perhaps the city itself should have a nickname, or something, just to distinguish it from the realm?  Let’s use  the naming tables to roll for a name modifier appropriate to this Region’s theme (which is “Militaristic”, remember).

(Rolling for a name now…)


Ok, that works well.  Welcome to “Valiroth, the Ardent City.

Now for the river itself. What kind of name should it have?  Well, this river is distinctive mainly because most of the world’s most civilized regions lie along it – so, using the naming tables, let’s combine a “River” suffix with a “Civilized” modifier.

Rolling for a river suffix, I get “–run”; consulting the “Civilized” modifiers, I decide to choose an alliterative modifier: “Rule.”  So our major river is now called the Rulerun, so-called because the lands it passes through are more tightly bound by law than pretty much anywhere else on the map.

Heading East up the River

Traveling East up the Rulerun, let’s find out about the other two civilized Regions.  Recall the map again – I mean the two hilly little “civilized” Regions in the top right.

World Creation 8 - The Western Riverlands - Unnamed

They’re little, but they each have a town, and so I think it might be cool to make them two separate little principalities or petty kingdoms.  Who lives there?

(Rolling for Population Type…)

Human and (drumroll…) Human.

Ok – so we have twin human kingdoms, right next to much larger Valiroth, but separate from it.  I wonder if the humans are effectively under the cruel dominion of those militaristic Valirothian Hawkfolk?  Well, let’s roll for Themes and see….

(Rolling for Themes…)

Evidently not!  It turns out that the larger kingdom (on the left) is Rich, and the other (on the right) is Safe.

Treassure - fci-ornaments-triangular-jewel-medallion-copy
A piece of rich loot jewelry rightfully belonging to whoever can take it by force a law-abiding Rasitanain nobleman.  (Sorry, my Dungeon Fantasy instincts are getting the better of me)

It looks like Valiroth is doing a good job protecting these two little human Realms- if the Hawkfolk do indeed hold sway here, then their rule is obviously a relatively benign one.  Great!  During the campaign, this area might end up being a kind of heartland that needs to be defended.

Naming These Little Human Kingdoms

Now let’s name them.  We’ll use the naming tables again, beginning with some generic fantasy realm name elements, and then adding modifiers appropriate to the “Rich” and “Safe” themes.  Let’s start with the larger of the two realms- the “Rich” one.

(Rolling for a name…)

First I get “Carphar”, which sounds silly to me, so I roll again and get “Rasitar”, which has promise.  Rolling for a modifier appropriate to the Region’s theme of “Rich”, I come up with either “Dowered/Dowried” or “Springtime/of Spring”.  I like both of those, and I wonder if they’d go well with a term that comes from the table of terms appropriate to Hilly Regions… So let’s try it.

Behold, the Shining Crown of Rasitar!  Why no, that’s not at all a generic “crown” icon.  What made you say that? 

(Rolling now…)


That sounds good. Welcome to “Rasitar, the Dowered Vale”!  I like “dowered” here because it inspires some quick history-writing: I declare that, as legend has it, the little kingdom of Rasitar was once a particularly rich and fertile little corner of Valiroth – and it owes its current status as an independent realm to the fact that it was given to one of the Princesses of Valiroth as a dowry.  To find out how exactly this led to the birth of a tiny independent Kingdom, you’ll have to ask the minstrels – the “Lay of Rasitar,” which relates the whole, complex story in 132 lyrical stanzas, is still a crowd favorite in the Region.

Now let’s name the smaller Realm – the one with the “Safe” theme.


(Rolling for a name…)


A good name, but anyone who really knows GURPS is going to realize why this is a bit funny: this was the name of one of the realms in the classic sample adventure Caravan to Ein Arris.  So let’s set that name aside.

(Rolling for a name again…)

Halandia.  That seems plausible enough.  But I’d like to add something else, so I roll for some name elements appropriate to the “Hill” terrain and the “Safe” theme.

(Rolling for more name elements….)


This is good; let’s say that this Kingdom‘s formal name is Halandia, after the noble house that rules it (the House of Halandia), but in practice it’s so tiny that everyone refers to it simply by the name of its only town – Whitevale.

And that’s it for the kingdoms of the Western Rulerun.  Here’s how this part of the map looks now:

World Creation 8 - Valiroth and The Western Riverlands

In my next post, we’ll follow the River Rulerun to the North-East, up into the Mountains, to see what’s up there.

And here’s the big world map again, in case you want to see where we’re headed:

Worked Example - Stage 7

Here is a bigger, zoomable version of the map.


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