Godsbarrow handbook

Now available: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG!

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.

The cover of The Unlucky Isles, Godsbarrow Guidebook 1

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!

The Unlucky Isles (May 11, 2021)

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!

Maps

Mapmaking

  • 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)
Work in progress (and not the greatest “stitching” job on my part!), the four regions of Godsbarrow I’ve mapped as of 1-5-22 (left to right): Kurthunar, the Unlucky Isles, the Gilded Lands, and the Ice Courts

Dormiir

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):

The Gilded Lands (July 22, 2021)

Regions

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).

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.

Kurthunar

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.

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.)

Middenglum

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.

Bal Acar

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.

Other places

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)
The Ice Courts (November 3, 2021)

Gods

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)
  • 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)

Groups

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).

  • 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)

Miscellany

Linguistic touchstones

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
Kurthunar (August 31, 2021)

Tools

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.)

  • Worldbuilding:
    • 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.
  • Maps:
    • 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.
  • Languages:
    • 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.
My first map of the Unlucky Isles (March 17, 2021)