GURPS · Town Creation · Worked Example

Creating Dunmoss – Part II

The preliminary map of Dunmoss that we came up with last time.

In my last post, I began using my fantasy town creation system to create Dunmoss, the home town of my GURPS solo character, Temian Fell.

I worked through steps 1-4 of the town creation process, and pretty quickly I’d come up with the very rough map of the town you see on the right ->

Now it’s time to thicken Dunmoss out a little by discovered what all these words on the map actually mean – and by giving each and every district its own Distinctive Feature.

Town Creation, Step 5: Giving each District in Dunmoss its own Distinctive Feature

I’ll start with the districts on the North side of the river, and then work my way down South.

  • The “Historic” District

We’ve already declared that this district is perched high up on a cliff, overlooking the river.  At its heart lies the ruin of an ancient tower or castle.

What’s the most distinctive feature of this district?


2, 6: “Impressive Structure.”  Great!  T Obviously that’s the crumbling old castle ruin.  That works perfectly!  So we now know that the old ruined castle is the most striking feature of this district.  (Indeed, perched right up there on the cliff, the old castle is probably visible from pretty much anywhere in town, so it’s probably pretty striking no matter where in town you are).

If this ruined castle is going to be the defining feature of this district, then it really needs a name.  To the naming tables!  (Specifically, to the “Historic” thematic modifiers).

Castle Cairngard.JPG(Rolling, rolling…)

After a few rolls, I get “Cairn” again, which seems appropriate. What about “Cairngard,” because the castle overlooks the Cairnflood river?   Sounds good to me.

Castle Cairngard it is.

What about a name for the district itself?  We’ve obviously got to name it after the castle – the ruins are so conspicuous that they surely define the whole district in people’s minds, despite the fact that there are obviously many normal houses here, too.  But we need a bit more.  So I’ll roll for a few district titles.  (Here I’m using the table at the very bottom of the Towns system page).

(Rolling, rolling…)

What about the “the Castle Hundred”?  Let’s say that all the major administrative districts of Dunmoss are known as “Hundreds.”  Maybe this name derives from an old tradition that says each district ought to have a hundred families, for tax purposes.  This is totally demographically inaccurate today, but that’s ok – the name has stuck.

So, when speaking formally, this district of town is known as “The Castle Hundred” – though when speaking casually, people probably just call it “Castle.” As in:

“You’ll never guess what happened to me this morning.”


“Well, I was up in castle minding my own business, when suddenly…”

Time to move on!

  • The “Public Amenity” District
The High Common.  The massive stone ruins of the old city are so thick on the ground up here, and broken up into so many damned heavy blocks,  that the area has never really been cleared up properly.  Thus, by ancient right, it’s used for communal grazing.  

We don’t yet know anything about this district, except that it’s ancient, and probably on high ground.  What kind of “Public Amenity” is it?  Well, reflecting on what Dunmoss needs, I think I might declare this a “common”: a stretch of grazing land which is open to all, and thus provides feed for many of the town’s goats, cattle, and so on.

And just to keep this tied to the “historic” theme, let’s say that this grazing land is very obviously the overgrown, half-buried ruins of the ancient city, now used for pasture.

For simplicity, let’s call this the “High Common” – or, colloquially, just “The Common.’

(This might seem pretty rustic for a medium-sized town, but man, a town full of fantasy/medieval people needs a lot of grazing land nearby.  Of course, they’re really supported mostly by the agricultural produce of outlying farms, but they still need a lot of grazing animals within easy reach.)

Ok, now it’s time to give this district a bit of color by rolling for a Distinctive Feature.


Shaggy mountain ponies also graze among the ruins.

3,4: “Local Pastime”.  Solid!  That’s perfect – this big common is obviously the place people come to for recreation.   Let’s see… obviously the children whose task it is to watch the communal flock here have some sort of special way of passing the time – maybe they like to hold footraces around a special path worn between the stones.

Scuzzmane, the proud winner of Dunmoss’s “Shaggiest Pony” prize two years running. 

In fact, that gives me another idea: maybe some of the people who live adjacent to the High Common keep shaggy little mountain ponies, grazing them on the common – and every now and then, they race them around the ruins.  Some people in Dunmoss love to come up here and place bets.

Ok, moving on again…

  • The “Academic” District

Is this district known for its library?  College?  Archive?  University?  I don’t think a university is really right – we’re in an outlying, semi-civilized Region, after all; Dunmoss isn’t important enough to justify something that big.  Maybe just a school?  Perhaps the children run on the common…

Well, let’s roll for a Distinctive Feature, and then decide.


6,1 :”Standard of Hospitality”.  Ah – ok.  Is this “academic” area notably welcoming, or notably unwelcoming?  (Rolling…) 5: Unwelcoming. 

Right!  It looks as if, whatever the educational institution is that defines this district, it’s fairly closed-off to outsiders.  Maybe they’re teaching something secret, or sacred?  Or just something on which they wish to retain a monopoly?

I need some inspiration here, so I’ll roll for a few more words relating to Dunmoss’s “Historic” theme, and see what they suggest.

(Rolling, rolling…)

Results: “Forsaken,” “Memory,” “Weather,” “Eldest.”

Ok, here goes. We already know that Eldervale is a strange and witchy region, rife with strange beliefs, remnants of old religions, and so on.

Continuing that feel, what if Dunmoss is also home to a special school that takes in orphans, abandoned children, and so on (i.e. “Forsaken” children) and trains them  to become the inheritors of an ancient sacred tradition, which includes the art of”Memory,” and some kind of spiritual or semi-magical “Weather”-working?  Naturally the person who trains the children is the “Eldest” living inheritor of the sacred tradition – who was once an orphan like them, long ago.

That sounds good to me.  Let’s say that they’ve been teaching this art, in this part of Dunmoss, for a very long time – centuries, at least, possibly millennia.  At any rate, everyone thinks of this district as their district, even though there are obviously many other more normal folks who live here.

What to name this sacred tradition?  This local spirit-cult?  Well, let’s roll for a few name elements, and see what we can come up with.

(Rolling, rolling…)

Ok, after experimenting with a few options, what about “Sirrabarrian” as a name for the this local religious/magical tradition?  And let’s say they have a sacred site, somewhere in the mountains, to which they go to conduct secret rituals, called The Ravine of Sirrabar.

Great – I wasn’t expecting to add any of that to Dunmoss, but the dice rolled it up, and it nicely matches the flavor of the place.  I’ll leave the details of the Cult of Sirrabar to be sorted out in play, if/when it comes up.  All we really know so far is what Ive written above, plus the fact that they’re secretive, and not terribly welcoming of outsiders.

Well, that’s it for the “Academic” district.  Let’s call it The Sirrabarrian Hundred.

And I think that’s probably it for this post, too.

Stay tuned for the next post, in which I create the remaining districts of Dunmoss!


4 thoughts on “Creating Dunmoss – Part II

  1. Interestingly, this was exactly the case of medieval and modern Rome: the Fora and other ancient ruins were recycled as grazing land for centuries. No shaggy ponies though: I guess it was mostly sheep and goats 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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