GURPS · Worked Example

World Creation 16 – The Great Swamp

(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. )

Today we have a simple but important task: to find out what kind of evil festers in that massive monstrous Swamp Region in the south-east corner of the map.

Check it out:

World Creation 16 - The Great Swamp

Worked Example - Stage 7I must admit I’m quite interested to see how this turns out – this “monstrous” swamp contains one of the only true cities on the map (there are quite a few towns, but very few cities).  Also, this swamp is so damned big – it’s just bound to be significant.  In fact, if you take a look a the world map as a whole, you can see that it covers a significant portion of it.  Check out the bottom right corner.

Sinisthral 6.jpgSo this next roll really matters!  What kind of evil lurks in this vast swamp?

(Rolling for population type… )


(Rolling for Theme…)

“Choose any or none”

Singroth Cultist 1.gif
A swamp cultist in full ritual regalia.  Cultists love regalia.

Ahah!  Well, at this point, it just seems obvious to me that these are the very same Cultists who have used their dark sorceries to dominate the Harrowed Morass, far off to the West, at the headwaters of the Rulerun.  Excellent!  The plot thickens! This means we ought to declare the theme Infernal.

Sinisthral 2.jpg

Let’s say that this vast Southern swamp is the cult’s primary dwelling-place, from which it spreads its insidious influence all over the world.  Centuries ago agents of the cult crept out of the swamp and entirely corrupted the proud kingdoms of the West, and now the wasteland of Singroth smolders there, over-run by demons and demon-kin.

Sinisthral 1.jpg
The unholy miasma of the swamp twists those who live there into horrors…

The awful swamp-creatures were fully human once, but over the centuries the foul and unholy miasma of the swamp twisted them into horrors. For those in civilized lands, they’re the stuff of nightmares – especially since many of them can pass for human, and so they can leave the swamp and travel to civilized lands in order to do their dark masters’ bidding in secret.

What shall we call this abominable Realm – and what shall we call the Swamp in which it festers?

Sinisthral 5.jpg
Yaaarrghh!  The Unshapen are coming for yooooouuu!!

(Rolling for names…)


Sarsithral, The Unshapen Marsh.


Superb.  This also gives us a great name for the corrupted humans who are now swamp abominations: The Unshapen.

Singroth Cultist 2.jpg
An infernal cultist of the city of Sarsithral.  Naturally they consider themselves more urbane than other swamp cultists.

That city right in the heart of the swamp needs a name, too. I like the ‘S’, ‘Thr’, and ‘–rth’ sounds we’ve got so far in “Singroth” and “Sarsithral” – they sound like sinister, sinful, holding things in thrall, etc.  Plus they’re squishy, like a swamp – or poorly pronounced, just like a misshapen swamp-zombie thing might pronounce them…. So let’s rejumble them to come up with another name: “Sinisithral”. Hard to pronounce without feeling a bit sloppy . Excellent.

Actually, now that I think about it, it would be better to reverse those names, so that “Sinisthral” is the name of the Marsh itself, and “Sarsithral” is the name of the city.  Why?  Because we already have a Realm called “Singroth” ruled by these infernal swamp cultists, and it would be good to have both Realms start with the syllable “Sin-“.  Why again?   Well, there’s just something really appealing about being able to say that the word “Sin” means “A Place Where We Rule” in the language of the infernal swamp cultists.  Of course “sin” means that!  So let’s reverse them.

Now we have Sinisthral, The Unshapen Marsh – at the heart of which is the dread city of Sarsithral, the dark and twisted capital of the sorcerours empire of The Unshapen.

Excellent!  The plot thickens!

World Creation 16 - Sarsithral, The Unshapen Marsh

And that’s it for this Region!

In the next post, we’ll travel up into the mountains (the ones  you can see peeking over the top edge of this map)

There’s some Wilderness up there, as well as a semi-civilized Region – plus yet another  evil, Monstrous Region, right at the headwaters of the Cairnflood.  What evil lurks in those mountains?  And who are the poor folk trying to resist it?   I don’t know yet… but we soon will.  So stay tuned for that!

(And as always, 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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