GURPS · Worked Example

World Creation 10 – The Northern Riverlands

(Note: this post is part of my Example of World Creation series.  For a full index to the series, head here.) 

(If you want to see where we are, the full world map, without any names, is here. )

In our effort to name and describe all the Regions on the map, let’s now head North up the other tributary of the Rulerun.  What’s up there?

Here’s the territory we’ll be exploring today:

World Creation 10 -The Northern Riverlands

As you can see, we have two very mountainous regions to explore: the big semi-civilized “Alpine Lake” region in the center of the map, and the tiny civilized “Alpine Forest” region to the north, overlooking the frozen tundra of the far north.

Let’s start with that sizeable semi-civilized Alpine Lake Region.

© Copyright 2015 Corbis Corporation
Yes, this is precisely what all “Alpine Lake” Regions look like.  Just in case you were wondering.

What kind of people live around this alpine lake?

(Rolling for Population Type…)


Ok.  What should we make of them?  I need some more inspiration, so I’ll roll for a Theme now.

(Rolling for Theme…)

“Choose any or none”.

Well, that’s not much help at all – I need inspiration!  So I roll again.  This time I get “Militaristic”, but we’ve already got that down in Valiroth, and a good map has more variety.  So I roll once more and get “Beautiful”.  Ok, that works- after all, a vast lake high up in the mountains could easily be known for its great beauty.

Driftmere 3Let’s say this high alpine lake Region has a kind of unearthly, semi-magical beauty: I’m imagining the still waters of the lake reflecting the snow-capped mountain peaks, with the huge blue sky above…. the crisp, clear mountain air… the shine of the snow-capped peaks… all very beautiful.  Let’s even say there’s a whole genre of songs, sung by bards all around the world, about the longing that the lake inspires, about yearning to see the lake just one more time before you die, about the shimmer of the stars reflected in the lake by night, and how it recalls your lover’s eyes… you get the idea.  People who come from here long for home.

Driftmere 2A lake this beautiful needs a name, and the “Beautiful” name modifiers seem like a good fit.  I roll for a “Lake” region name and a “Beautiful” thematic modifier, and get “Driftmere”.  Excellent! That works well.  Let’s say the “Drift” in the name describes the clouds reflected in the lake as they drift across the sky.  Or even better: let’s say that as you watch the still lake surface, you see the reflection of the mountains against the sky; and when the clouds move, it looks like the mountains themselves are drifting across the lake.  That’s what the bards sing about!  Excellent.

Does this Realm have a name of its own, though, apart from that of the lake?  Let’s say “yes”.  Since the Lake is such a beautiful one, I think I’ll roll for a magical-sounding name, just to keep the atmosphere.

Driftmere 5
The Driftmere in fogThe mountainous region of Mystimere is such difficult terrain that the local peoples rely mostly on canoes like this for transportation.

(Rolling for a name…)


Well, that worked well!  I like that name – though I think I’ll shorten it to Mystimere, just to simulate a bit of natural etymological rounding-off.  This name really enriches things for me: previously, I’d just imagined the Driftmere on a clear day; now that I know the name of the Region as a whole, I’m also imagining that lake all foggy with the mountain mist in the mornings.  Nice.

Since we’ve named the lake, and the realm, let’s go ahead and name the river that runs out of the lake – the one that runs south out of the Driftmere and then feeds into the Rulerun.  To do this, I roll for a “River” suffix and a “Beautiful” modifier.

A southern arm of the Driftmere, feeding into the Mistrill.

(Rolling for a name)…


Ah, I’m very pleased with that – and on the first roll, no less.  It picks up the “Mist/Myst” from earlier and puts a “little river” spin on it with “-rill”, which is just perfect. I must admit, the first roll isn’t always very good – but the naming tables seem to be treating me well today.

But what about that little “Civilized” Alpine Forest? 

winter alpenglow along the Puyallup Ridge Trail, Mount Tahoma Tr
The alpine forest that looks out over the snows at the edge of the world…..

Moving on, what about the tiny civilized forest region in the mountains immediately to the North of here?  Well, given the beauty of the area, it’s starting to look as if I should just go with my first instinct, and declare this the tiny realm of the arctic elves.  (Yes, this means accepting the inevitable “they’re Santa’s elves!” jokes at the gaming table…  Such is life.)

Nilithrildel 2
As you enter the forest, the Winter fades away, gradually replaced by an eternal Spring…

Running with this, I choose the theme “Magical” for this Region.  Let’s say that from outside, this Realm seems to be just a rugged, snowy pine forest, high up in the crags of the mountains, overlooking the vast plains of ice and tundra below – but once you get inside, amongst the elves, you find that it’s always spring, with lovely spring trees budding, birds singing, and so on.  That’s elven magic for you.

Nilithrildel 3
One off the bridges that span the fresh forest streams of Nilithrildel.

As for a name, I use the naming tables to roll for an Elvish “Proper Name,” naturally, and get “Nilithrildel” on my first roll, which I’m quite happy with: it’s suitably Elven, it’s suitably difficult to pronounce, and by good luck it even has a “-del” at the end, suggesting the forest.

Well, that’s it for this area.  Here’s how this part of the map looks now:World Creation 10 - Mystimere and Nilithrildel

In the next post, we’ll head travel through the mountains West of Mystimere, to see what’s in those Civilized and Semi-Civilized regions over near the coast.

(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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