GURPS · Worked Example

World Creation 11 – The Northern Coast

(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 is here. )

We’re still filling in the details on the world map – and this time, we’re heading over to the Northern part of the Coast, to see who lives there.

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

World Creation 11 - The Northern Coast - Unnamed

The Polar Mountains

Let’s start with that Civilized Region in the Mountains in the North, and then work southwards.

Polar Mountains
Polar Mountains.  Very cold.  Very rugged. 

You can’t tell this from the map (I couldn’t find a good icon for it!), but those aren’t just any mountains – those are “Polar Mountains,” which means they’re very, very cold indeed.  It’s tough territory, and it’ll be interesting to see who lives there.  I think perhaps whoever lives in those mountains should rule the little civilized beach area right nextdoor, too – that’s presumably how they do their ocean trading – so I declare both Regions part of the same Realm.  Who lives here?

(Rolling for Population Type now…)

Classic Dwarven Forge
A Dwarf smith looking disapproving.


Well, that’s no great shock, and seems appropriate.  Presumably those Dwarves are braving these icy mountains because it’s good mining country – and presumably, they use that tiny beach Region as a port from which to trade those minerals, metals, gems, or whatever.  What about a Theme for this realm?

(Rolling for theme…)


Right – that works.  Let’s say these polar mountains are not only very rugged, but are also punishingly cold: if you’re not a well-prepared dwarf familiar with the area, you stand a good chance of perishing of frostbite, or from cave-ins, landslides, icy crevasses, avalanches…  Only true Dwarven know-how makes life here viable – and certainly no-one else could pull off a full-scale mining operation in such territory, as these dwarves are doing.  They’re a pretty hardy bunch.

What about a name for the realm?  A Dwarven “Proper Name” seems like the right way to go.

(Rolling for name…)


Nah – too many “azan”s.  Rolling again: “Tulzundizdur.”  Again, not feeling it.  And again: “Kheledulzund.”  Again, I’m not feeling it.  (Hmm… maybe my Dwarf name table needs work?  Or am I just not feeling very dwarfy today?) At any rate, I decide to combine the first and last names I roll into “Dwimilzund.” That sounds good to me.

Well, let’s head to another of my Dwarf name tables, to see if my naming system can redeem itself.  (EDIT: Here I’m using my Dwarf Clan Name table, which you can find  here).  Let’s see which clan of Dwarves rules Dwimilzund!

Toiling Dwarves
A ragged band of Steepgirder dwarves trudges through the Shivering Peaks

(Rolling for name…)

Uh-oh – “Steelbeard?”  I don’t think so.  (Rolling again…)  That’s more like it: I get my choice of “Sheer”, “Steep”, and “High”, combined with my choice of “Mine”, “Lamp”, Brace”, and “Girder”.  That sounds like these guys.  Let’s say Dwimilzund is currently ruled by the Steepgirder clan (though perhaps the Steelbeards are vying for control?)

Well, I’m not sure my dwarf name generators have really redeemed themselves, but it’s time to move on.  This Mountain range could use a name: I use a “Mountain” term and a “Dangerous” modifier, coming up with the “The Shivering Peaks” on the second roll – that seems appropriate, given that they’re the only “Polar” mountains on the map.

What about that little “Beach” Region?
Gregrim Cove
An artist’s impression of Greygrim cove.  With just a hint of Japonisme thrown in for good measure. 

This seems like it would be a pretty cheerless little beach, since it’s so cold up here – so let’s name it by rolling for a “Beach” term and a “Northern/Cold” modifier.

(Rolling for name…)

Greygrim Cove. 


Q. But hang on, haven’t you forgotten something?

A.  Yes!  At this point, I realize that I haven’t finished determining the basic characteristics of the long beach Region immediately to the North of Greygrim cove – the coastline that runs immediately to the West of the Shivering Peaks.   So I’d best do that now!

(Rolling, rolling, rolling…)

town silhouette
Suddenly…  a new city!

Wow, this little Region really turns out to be something!  It’s Civilized, and has no less than 3 Towns, as well as a City!  This is quite a little civilization – and in what seems like a really harsh Region.  I wonder if they’re rich because they somehow control the trade out of Dwimilzund?  Well, let’s make this its own realm, and roll for a population type…

(Rolling for population type…)


Fair enough.  What about a Theme?

(Rolling for theme…)


Ok – it appears that this beach Region is pretty benign – which explains why so many people can live here.  Hence the presence of that city, as well as all those towns.  It starts to look as if this might be another ‘heartland’ region for the PCs – presumably, this region is protected from the worst ravages of the Monstrous Regions by the doughty shields of Valiroth.  Let’s roll up a “Good” proper name for it.

Armarian nobility.

(Rolling for name…)


No, sounds like a car polish.

(Rolling again…)


Ok, that sounds good.

Let’s name the coast, too, using a “Safe” modifier to give us the flavor we want.

(Rolling for name…)

The Coast of Havens
Those towns along the Coast of Havens are “Safe”.  Yup, definitely safe.

The Coast of Havens.

Great!  “Haven” is just an old word for “harbor,” and there are so many little port-towns along this stretch of coastline that the name fits perfectly.  The capital city needs a name, too: let’s take a couple of “Beach” terms and a “Safe” modifier and see what the system comes up with.

(Rolling for name…)

“Frith Anchorage”?  That’s not bad, though a bit of a mouthful – let’s just call it “Frith”. That’s nice because it’s an old word meaning “Peace,” and it also sounds a bit like “Firth,” a Scots term for a coastal bay.

hallstatt, upper austria
Frith, the Sheltered City.

(Since I like this so much, at this point I go ahead and mess with the coastline a little, so as to put a bay in it right there.)

Let’s now give it a nickname, too: perhaps rolling up another “Safe” modifier will do?

(Rolling for name…)

Ah, that’s it: Frith, the Sheltered City.

What about those “Semi-Civilized” hills to the south?   And the semi-civilized beach right next to them?

Right – let’s now finish off this whole part of the map by heading down to the semi-civilized hills and beaches just to the south of here – the hills that lie between the Shivering Peaks and the River Rulerun, to the south.  I figure that these two Regions – the hills and the beach – are part of the same larger Realm.  But who lives there?

Troll 1
Trolls like this guy, maybe?  Or no?

(Rolling for population type…)


Woah, that was a surprise!  These trolls are “semi-civilized,” it seems, so they’re not monsters, exactly – obviously they live here in the hills relatively peacefully, and at least sort of get on with their neighbors.  I wonder if we’re talking big brutish D&D trolls, or little magical Scandinavian folktale trolls?  I think maybe it might be best to use a mix – perhaps troll-folk come in many shapes and sizes, including relatively human-like half-trolls, and so on.  But let’s see what the Theme tells us.

(Rolling for theme…)

Classic Thief
The classic Thief, from ye olde Red Boxed Set.

Underworld!  Well, that makes sense of things.  Sure, these trolls might be the more civilized (or at least semi-civilized) kind of troll, but still, they’re well-known as thieves and robbers – and in fact, being troll-ruled, this whole Region is a bit lawless, and so it’s a haven for scoundrels of all species.

Let’s say the hills are riddled with caves, perfect for bandits to hide out in.  Those bandits probably prey on the trade passing between the Dwimilzond and Valiroth; and some are probably also river pirates who swoop down on river traffic traveling down the Rulerun, and then retreat back to their safe bases in the hills.

Pirate flagAnd, i since there’s a sea-coast here, there are probably good ol’ ocean-going pirates, too. Yarrrrr….

There are some decent, law-abiding folk who live here – otherwise it wouldn’t really count as semi-civilized – but thematically speaking, this Region is a hive of scum and villainy.  A good place for the party to fight bandit trolls; and/or a good homeland for a thief, raider, or pirate PC.

What about a name for it?  The “Underworld” theme seems the way to go, plus a “Hills” and “Coast” name, respectively.

(Rolling for name…)

After a couple of tries, I get “The Vagabond Fells”for the hill region, which I like a lot, which leads me to “The Vagabond Shore” for the beach region.  I also re-work the coastline itself a little – with a name like “The Vagabond shore” this stretch of coast ought to have a whole series of little bays and inlets, so that pirates have plenty of places to lie in wait for unsuspecting sea traffic, so I try to re-draw the map in such a way as to suggest that.

And that’s it for the Northern Coast.  Here’s how this area of the map looks now:

World Creation 11 - The Northern Coast

Stay tuned for the next post, when we’ll head South of Valiroth, to see what lies on the Monster-infested Southern 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.

7 thoughts on “World Creation 11 – The Northern Coast

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