I started working on my fantasy campaign setting, Godsbarrow — the colloquial name for the world of Dormiir — on March 16, 2021. (Of course, like most creations of this nature, it incorporates stuff that’s been kicking around in my brain for years.) By the time I moved from the first region I’d developed, the Unlucky Isles, to the second — the Gilded Lands — I knew I needed some sort of omnibus page here on Yore to keep track of everything. Welcome, reader, to that page!
Godsbarrow owes a debt to Worlds Without Number [paid link] (there’s also a free version of the game [paid link]) and Wonderdraft, without which it likely wouldn’t have happened at all. (You can read more about both of them below, under Tools.)
Now on sale: The Unlucky Isles, Godsbarrow Guidebook 1
I started working on the manuscript for The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], a region-level gazetteer of this ill-fated place in Godsbarrow, back in July — and as of November 7, you can now buy a copy of it on DriveThruRPG!
Be sure to snag the PWYW Region Map [affiliate link] while you’re there, as it’s much larger than the one I could fit into the book itself.
Explorers of Godsbarrow
The first session of the first Godsbarrow campaign was on June 7, 2022, a Dungeon World [paid link] game with me in the GM’s chair and two of my best friends, Rustin Simons and Greg Mumford, as players.
The roll of names lists and credits everyone who has played in and helped to develop Godsbarrow. Many thanks, explorers!
An organizational note
“A long string of blog posts, interspersed with pictures of Space Marines” isn’t really the best way to organize anything. But I’ve tried other approaches, and whenever I start formalizing a creative project like this one — Thou Shalt Only Work In Thy Wiki, for example — it collapses under its own weight.
My creative output, my enjoyment of this work, and the continuation of this work matter more to me than whether or not it’s all perfectly organized. For now, at least, this page of links and notes — the Godsbarrow handbook — will have to do!
- Gilded Lands map (July 22, 2021)
- Ice Courts map (November 3, 2021)
- Kurthunar map (August 31, 2021)
- Unlucky Isles map (May 11, 2021)
- I keep an up-to-date record of all my Wonderdraft settings, partly so I don’t forget them and partly so other folks who like my map style can use them.
- Turning five maps into one, a look at the extra work my tile-by-tile approach created and why it’s worth it (March 6, 2022)
Big-picture stuff, from why it’s called Dormiir (and Godsbarrow) to the number of moons (two) to the Wraithsea (the un-place composed of the dreams of sleeping gods):
- High-level overview (March 16, 2021)
- Names and linguistic touchstones (March 17, 2021)
- Tamosi, the lingua franca of Godsbarrow (May 3, 2021)
- Atheism vs. non-worship (January 10, 2022)
Worlds Without Number approaches worldbuilding region by region, and I love the organic nature of this approach. There are six steps for a region, and they take me some time to work through.
The Unlucky Isles
Comprised of Yealmark, the Arkestran Dominion, Kadavis, Brundir, Meskmur, and Ahlsheyan (of which Yealmark, Brundir, and Meskmur are wholly contained within this region).
- Geographical features, nations, gods, sketch map (March 17, 2021)
- Population figures (March 18, 2021) and more thoughts on population (May 11, 2021)
- Historical events, national boundaries (March 26, 2021)
- Relationships between kingdoms, and their wants (April 22, 2021)
- Sanχu, a fleshed-out caθna (province) in Brundir, intended to serve as the default starting location for a Godsbarrow campaign (May 5, 2021)
The Gilded Lands
This region includes Kadavis, Yrfeđe, Lonþyr, Garshán, Kostivolsk, and Mormú, and sits one map “tile” to the east of the Unlucky Isles. Only Mormú is wholly contained within this region.
- Maps and introduction (July 22, 2021)
- Concept, geographical features, and nations (August 21, 2021)
- Regional gods and historical events (August 23, 2021)
- National relationships and wants (August 24, 2021)
Kurthunar includes Kuruni, Aaust, and corners of the Arkestran Dominion and Ahlsheyan. Kurthunar is located one map “tile” west of the Unlucky Isles. Aaust is wholly contained within this region.
- Nations, map, historical events, gods, and relationships (August 31, 2021)
The Ice Courts
Locked in a perpetual winter, this region includes Ahlsheyan, Valkenschirm, the Celestial Duchy of Skølprene, Zull Pyrendi, and a nation so pretentious it requires a comma: Myedgrith, Shining Lamp of Eternity. (Portions of Yrfeđe and Lonþyr also border this region, separated by the Greatwater Ār.)
- Overview, map, and geographic features (January 2, 2022)
- Nations and gods (January 10, 2022)
- Historical events (February 7, 2022)
- National relationships and wants (February 14, 2022)
Middenglum is composed of the un-nation of Middenglum, secret home of the null slimes, the unofficial “nations” of the Red Flag Isles and Ghhole, and corners of Binmeque, Ahlsheyan, and Myedgrith.
- Rough map and initial concept (February 19, 2022)
- Overview, geography, nations, and gods (March 5, 2022)
Bal Acar is the huge, dangerous, largely unexplored island my online group (Rustin Simons, Greg Mumford, and I) are exploring together in the first Godsbarrow campaign. I haven’t written any posts specifically about Bal Acar yet, but I’ve established that it’s large enough to qualify as a region unto itself.
I’ve named some nations that aren’t part of the regions I’ve written up (yet!), including:
- Duspira, where it has been nighttime ever since the death of Bakhmyut, He Who Holds Back Hell (March 16, 2021)
- Siral, shattered homeland of the Sou gnomes (May 3, 2021)
Maybe down the road I’ll catalog all of the many deities of Godsbarrow, but for now most of them are detailed in their regional write-ups. These are the exceptions.
- Bakhmyut, He Who Holds Back Hell (March 16, 2021)
- The Headless Child, Captain of the Endless Fleet, who seeks the ruin of all Dormiir and its gods (April 28, 2022)
- Hürak Mol, slumbering creator of the Black Furnace megadungeon (December 31, 2022)
- Polnos Yalba, a peculiar travelling inn (April 16, 2022)
- The Selezeer swords, a sprawling family of god-blades (April 16, 2022)
- Skulvezar, god of skeletons (May 5, 2021)
- The Spynix Mandus, a massive god-ship (April 16, 2022)
This is kind of a catch-all for groups that aren’t nations/kingdoms (which are written up in region-focused blog posts), as well as notes about larger/general groups (e.g., dwarves).
- Cult of Mol the Timeless, who seek to reawaken Hürak Mol (December 31, 2022)
- Sou gnomes, displaced traders who travel the world, and whose trade tongue, Tamosi, is the lingua franca of Dormiir (May 3, 2021)
- The Tongues of Skulvezar, the cult of the god of skeletons (May 5, 2021)
- The Black Furnace, Godsbarrow’s first dungeon (December 31, 2022)
- Dwarven poignards and the Snarl, how dwarves fight underground, and accidental diplomacy (October 12, 2021)
- Heatstones, simple magic items which have led to ceaseless bloodshed (January 10, 2022)
As WWN recommends, I use dead languages to give some of the nations of Dormiir, and the names of places and people therein, a coherent cultural flavor that won’t be familiar to most readers. This also helps avoid the stereotyping and other problematic stuff that can arise from using modern, living languages instead. (See Tools for language resources.)
- Carian: Tamosi, the “common tongue” of Dormiir
- Etruscan: Brundir
- Old English: Lonþyr and Yrfeđe, where Emnian is spoken
- Old French: Aaust, where Aaunish is spoken
- Old High German: Valkenschirm and the Celestial Duchy of Skølprene; Myedgrith, Shining Lamp of Eternity uses a mix of Old High German and made-up stuff
- Proto-Slavic: Kostivolsk (and to a lesser extent, Kadavis and Garshán)
- Proto-Turkic: Ahlsheyan
- Thracian: Yealmark
- Urartian: Kuruni
I write the first draft of all of my Godsbarrow material in Notepad, but I don’t think anyone wants to read about that. (I do love Notepad, though.)
- Worlds Without Number (paid link; there’s also a free version), Kevin Crawford’s masterpiece of fantasy setting-creation, gave me the template and the focus to turn my ideas into a gameable setting. It is superb. I’ve been meaning to create my own fantasy setting for decades, and have dabbled and started different worlds many times over the years. Too much worldbuilding is just GM-wankery that produces cruft no one needs at the table; WWN’s focused approach is perfect for my brain.
- Wonderdraft is the other half of the glue that holds Godsbarrow together. When I went from creating serviceable placeholder maps in Worldographer to making maps I wouldn’t be sad to publish in a book in Wonderdraft, Godsbarrow became much more real to me. It feels like an actual setting in a way that it didn’t before. And, of course, WD is a joy to use — 100% worth the price of admission.
- Cartography Assets is chock full of stuff for your WD maps (much of it free), and Mythkeeper is great for loading those assets into Wonderdraft.
- Worldographer, an excellent mapping tool with a different focus, is where I started mapping the Isles.
- For linguistic touchstones and words to steal and repurpose, I use Palaeolexicon, which offers dictionaries for dead languages; Lexicity, which provides links to dictionaries and other resources for ancient languages; and Wikipedia.
The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.