Monday, March 22, 2021

Design Challenge: The Barrowmere.

Jim posted this challenge over on the Atelier Hwei discord, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I'm not that familiar with the specifics of free kriegsspiel (genre? method?), but I like the idea in principal - it's a system agnosticism I can really get on board with: here is some of the world/system, now get on with it - you know or learn the genre conventions already, so explore with those in mind.

Even if you're not intending to play it yourself, this is a good exercise for getting your world-building started, and hopefully getting an imagination feedback loop going.

The Barrowmere.

Beyond where the Barrow Downs tumbles down from Sweethouses - summer resort of the wealthy metropolitan, new land breaches the waters of the Great Grey Void like a raft of world-turtles.

Long stripped of danger and treasure, the Downs have not seen so many adventurers, cultists, scholars and speculators in a generation. An archipelago becoming a peninsula, the Barrowmere is a soggy environment thick with mounds and tombs - and the old stories of the Barrow Downs Companies suggests they are brimming with undiscovered treasure, occult secrets and bizarre beasts of ill-rumour.

Daily Events.

  1. Crackdown on unauthorised prospectors by local authorities.
  2. A previously risen section partially submerges.
  3. A previously risen section completely submerges.
  4. New company attempting to muscle in on smaller claims.
  5. Stinking miasma clings to low-lying areas - general sickness and frayed tempers.
  6. Severe storm descends from out on the Great Grey Void.

Stake/Steal A Claim on this...

  1. Collapsed Mound.
  2. Abandoned Excavation.
  3. Abandoned Pumping Station (odds/evens site is wholly or partially flooded).
  4. Unexcavated Mound.
  5. Flooded Tomb.
  6. Spiral Shell Structure.

Spiral Shell Structure.

Odds/evens it's intact/ ruined.

  1. Fallen, buried, flooded.
  2. Fallen, partially buried, flooded - odds/evens.
  3. Fallen, accessible.
  4. Upright, buried, flooded.
  5. Upright, partially buried, flooded - odds/evens.
  6. Upright, accessible.

Accessible means you can get to it on foot - you still need to find a way in.

Mysterious Inhabitants.

  1. Dead Dreamers: ancient, horrible, weird - their Dreaming can affect the Waking world.
  2. Mound People: exist across two dimensions simultaneously - think ours is a hallucination.
  3. Servants of the Orbus/ Orcus: death/demon worshipping cyclopes with shareable beholderkin eyes 
  4. Intelligent/ Social Undead.
  5. Sea Creatures/ Monsters: somehow able to survive out of the depths.
  6. Merfolk: this isn't your claim to stake, it's their home.

Special Fish-out-of-Water Surface Encounters.

  1. Twitching Kraken - the size of a field; surprisingly resilient and adaptable.
  2. Stranded Submarine - not from round here.
  3. Shipwreck - ancient or modern.
  4. Dead/ Dying Whale - poor thing.
  5. The opposite of Deep-Sea Divers - adventurers/prospectors from the undersea realm.
  6. Burst Abyssal Leviathan - over acres; swarming with scavengers; stomach like a collapsed circus tent.


  • Goldrush economics.
  • Unscrupulous predators.
  • Ill-prepared fortune seekers.
  • Well-prepared claim jumpers.
  • No justice without friends or money.
  • Ineffectual or overbearing local authority.
  • Cramped, insanitary conditions.
  • Revived cults/gods.
  • The mighty sea.
  • Going too far.
  • Trespass on the mythic.
  • Emerging and improvised technology.
This is a broadly hostile, unexplored and unregulated dungeon/wilderness frontier for amoral adventurers - sound familiar?

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