Series 1 Episode 13: A summary of Series 1

This episode recaps elements of the twelve episodes of Series 1
It also introduces elements of Series 2.

For more details check out my website:

This is the final episode of Series 1.
Series 2 will begin on November 2nd

Show Notes

All previous show notes summarised in letter form. These were the letters I would have written to my family and friends if I’d been able to do so at the time.

Because this is a summary of Season 1, I have posted the show text in its entirety here.

Reading time: 20 minutes

Welcome to the Insider Worldbuilding Podcast, the place where you can experience life in another dimension, told from the perspective of a visitor to that dimension.

I’m Fox Keyes. That visitor is me. That dimension is called Dunari. And I’ve lived here since I was tricked into passing through an inter-dimensional gateway just after my fourteenth birthday.

In this episode, I will summarise Series 1 and introduce the topics I’ll cover in Series 2.

To begin with, summarising all twelve episodes of Series 1 is impossible.


Because each of those twelve episodes is already a summary of what I’ve experienced and I’ve no clue how to summarise a summary.

Instead, I’ll describe what I learned in those first few weeks in Dunari.

Firstly, I learned how to look at my old life in Ireland differently.

My life in Ireland had often felt slow and boring. School, homework, rainy days, endless trouble in Northern Ireland, and crap TV.

Blah blah blah

In the midst of this boredom, I dreamed about adventure.

Dunari certainly wasn’t the type of adventure I’d ever imagined or wanted, but when I was trying to understand Dunari, it really helped to reference my old life. In the unfamiliar world of Dunari, I discovered that the best way to understand this unfamiliarity was to compare it the familiarity of back home.

Instead of focussing on the crazier elements here—like my first guide being a dead cat—I learned to look for matching elements of both worlds. They had chairs here and they had chairs back home. Ganhook’s fortress had a kitchen. We had a kitchen in our house back home. They ate bread and fruit and vegetables in both worlds.

By making these comparisons, it helped to understand that even if Ganhook’s kitchen was one of the most fantastical things I’d ever seen, it was still a kitchen.

In short, I became more aware of my surroundings.

This stopped me from going loopy.


I’ll pause here for a world building tip: No matter what kind of world you are creating, if you use elements of your current life in the process, it will help boost your awareness of both this world and your fictional creation.

Go into your kitchen. Have fun imagining how that kitchen would look in your fictional world.


I learned a lot of other things in my early Dunari days.

Mostly, these were the ground rules to understanding a new world.

Which, surprisingly, apart from the magic, monsters, and mayhem, wasn’t too different from learning the ground rules to surviving Ireland in 1995.

Ganhook’s first rule was that I couldn’t leave my room for a few days.

He said I needed to take things slowly, absorb what I saw under controlled conditions so my mind could handle it. Dunari was terrifying, exciting, and frustrating. I wanted to sprint through it. Ganhook forced me to take baby steps.

I called this room, Room zero, because it was my ground zero in Dunari. Before I could adjust to the fortress and the associated dangers within it, I needed to get used to my room and the crazy stuff in it.

Sounds crazy, of course. But I needed a starting point in Dunari, a place where I felt safe before I explored further.


World building tip 2: How could my experience of being confined to room zero help you build your world?

Having the equivalent of a room zero gives you a starting point in your world, an anchor point, a place to look out from and start building the world around you. By constraining your world into one small room, you’ll encourage your imagination to create the details within that room. These details will then help form the foundation to better create a realistic world.

Here’s an example. What is the power source to your room? Where does it supplied? How is the power produced? Who controls this power? And so on . . .

Without even leaving the room, you now have some ideas about what powers your world.


So, now I’ll return to my own crazy tale.

For numerous reasons—not least my own safety—after I was allowed leave Room Zero, I was still confined to Ganhook’s fortress compound. And just like my parents back home, Ganhook had more house rules I needed to memorise. Believe me, there’s no greater way to memorise rules than by discovering the consequences when you break them.

An example of this was the day I attempted to escape.

The fortress compound’s walls were a good ten metres high. While I could reach the top of the wall by climbing sheds on the inside of the compound, I needed rope to drop down the far side. I also needed something to help me over the fangs that topped the wall like spikes.

I decided to make a rope from bedsheets.

Ganhook’s house rule number 2 was that my sleeping hours were between 7pm and 7am. If I attempted to use the bed outside those hours, the bed would react.

Fair enough. But he’d neglected to say that the sheets would react if I tried to use them between those hours, too.

Those blasted sheets. No matter how I knotted them, they unwound like snakes. Worse still, when they got tired of this treatment, they wound around my legs, forcing me to hop about like I was in a sack race.

After toppling face first a few times, I gave up.

This gave Shinytop a great laugh, which I suppose meant it wasn’t all for nothing.
I paid more care to Ganhook’s house rules after that?


World building tip 3: In a world building context, can you create any ground rules for your characters? Every world has rules. So, perhaps start from the bottom with some simple ground rules, and work your way up from there.

Before I even left the compound, I needed to learn about illness and disease. Just like the Spanish Conquistadores decimated the Americas by bringing European diseases like smallpox and measles across the Atlantic, I could have decimated Dunari simply by carrying some illness the Dunari folk had no immunity to.

I needed to be kept under quarantine in Ganhook’s fortress. I also needed to be inoculated against Dunari diseases.

And inoculations don’t cover everything. There are plenty of common illnesses here, too. Spirit Voice is an example. The call it Spirit Voice because it was once believed that the spirit of a dead person was attempting to inhabit your body.

The spirit lodged in your throat and made you sound like you were somebody else.

Of course, it’s nothing but a throat infection.

But superstition runs rife. The first time I had Spirit Voice I went into a sweetshop to get sugar chocolate to cheer myself up. Unfortunately, because I was so hoarse, the shopkeeper couldn’t understand what I wanted.

Trying to be helpful, I croaked, ‘I’ve lost my voice.’

Turns out, they take things literally here. He thought I’d ‘actually’ lost my voice and that this ‘lost’ voice might take up residence in his shop and whispering mischief into customers’ ears.

He ran me out of the shop.

Series 2 will examine more complex illnesses. There’s a sneak peek at one of those illnesses later in this show.


World building tip 4: Can you create an illness for your world? Start simple. Create an illness that will complicate things for people, without complicating the world or story too much.

This will introduce the concept of illness to your audience. You can save the pestilence and plague for later.


I also learned that I wasn’t alone, that I had lots of help. If you’re going to navigate a new world you need guides. Not just one. Many. Each dedicated to showing you different aspects of your world. A museum guide can’t show you around a national park. You’ll need a park guide for that.

I thought Ganhook was going to be my Dunari guide. He was too busy. So, he introduced me to Shinytop and Stein Cat. Shinytop is the ghost of an executed thief imprisoned in a walking staff. Stein Cat walks on her hind legs, talks like a game show host, and has nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine lives.

Whenever she violently loses one of these lives, a ghost of that life is formed. And because each of these ghosts had been formed due to them encountering deadly Dunari dangers, these ghosts were ideally placed to teach me about those deadly Dunari dangers.

Take Ghost Cat Number Five for example. One of the intruder detection spells protecting Ganhook’s compound killed her when she strayed into a no-go area in the fortress.

She called those intruder detection spells common dangers. (Which they were. They’re just a magic powered home protection entity that many homes here have.) She said I needed to learn how to handle all the other ‘common dangers’ in Dunari. These were things like power sources, spells, certain spirits, machines, and all the stuff the Dunari people took for granted, but were lethal to visitors.

Up until then, I’d focused more on ‘unreal’ things, like monsters or magicians that might kill me. I’d never thought about the ordinary things that could kill me.

To put this into context, imagine you used a time machine to pluck a peasant from the middle ages, drop him into your kitchen, and told him to make dinner.

How long would he last?

Probably not long.

Electrocution! Gas explosion! Heart attack triggered by a smoke alarm!

All the things we take for granted, would kill that peasant.

Starting from scratch, I had to learn about everything the Dunari folk took for granted.

World building tip 5: So, who will guide you around your world? And what are the common dangers your guide will protect you from? What are the commonplace things you’d teach a child about before you’d ever let them near them?

(One sidenote about Stein Cat’s ghosts. They all had enormous egos. That was a bit rich considering they’d all died for being dumb.)

Of course, dealing with ‘common dangers’ wasn’t my only priority back then. When you have to deal with dead cat ghosts, a spirit imprisoned in a stick, and ‘potential death around every corner’ before you even get outside your front door, my top priority was staying alive.

It still is.

But isn’t that the same for everyone?


Not feeling sorry for myself was another thing I quickly learned. While passing through the inter-dimensional gateway was a personal disaster, it was also an incredible opportunity.

I was young. The whole Fame and Fortune thing appealed to me. Once I escaped back home, the book I’d write about my adventures would make me rich.

I could also bring strange things home and sell them. I mean, what would the skull of a monster be worth? Or even my clothes, or shoes, or just about anything I had?

And if my escape triggered the curse, and my parents were jailed again, well, I’d easily have enough money to buy their freedom. Or better still, if I had a bit of lavun, I’d just ‘bust’ them out of jail.

The more I thought about these opportunities, the easier my early days in Dunari became.

However, the more I ‘really’ thought about these opportunities, the more I wondered about them.

Sure, if I brought Shinytop home, this would guarantee me a fame and fortune. But if I introduced a talking stick to the world, that talking stick wouldn’t be mine for long.

Everyone else would want poor old Shinytop.

I couldn’t inflict our world on him like that.

So, I was going to have to think long and hard about what escaping back home would mean.

I had enormous power at my fingertips. What would happen if I brought that power home?

You might think that’s an awfully big question for a fourteen-year-old to think about. But I had thought about similar stuff before Dunari. History was my favourite school subject. I’d often wished I could go back in time with some advanced technology and change things.

Kill Hitler for example.

But even if I had a time machine, what gave me the right to alter history?

If I brought back stuff from Dunari, it could have altered history too.

The truth was, for someone who can’t handle being the centre of attention, I doubt I could have used any of that stuff anyway without going completely loopy.

The best I could hope for was to bring Shinytop with me, use him as some kind of really clever ventriloquist’s dummy, and keep the truth behind it secret.

World building tip 6: When you’re creating any technology for your world, think about how that technology would affect another world if it was introduced there. Or think about how the advanced technology of one segment of your world might affect a less developed segment of the same world if it was introduced there.


Other topics in Series 1 included map making, food, family background and my current status society. In Series 2, I will expand on these topics and examine the importance of architecture, location, commerce, and the lives of ordinary people in world building.

These will be based on my first adventures out of Ganhook’s compound into the City of Bones.

To give a sneak peek of Series 2, I’ll talk about Scorpix, an infinitely more advanced illness than Spirit Voice.

Scorpix is a parasitic creature that grows within a human host, mimicking the host’s internal structure until the Scorpix ‘becomes’ the host.

Nasty stuff. But rarely fatal. The symptoms are easy to spot, and the Scorpix is removed bit by bit over time.

Often, as a survival status symbol, the host may display the scorpix’s remains in a glass jar.

This proves that there’s no end of dumb no matter what dimension you’re in.

Why? Isn’t the Scorpix dead, you might wonder?

No. It’s got a half-life of fifty years. It’s segments don’t rest easy, and bad things happen if the jar breaks.


Series 2 will also have a new segment detailing how I will recreate the World of Dunari as a digital twin.

So, why am I recreating Dunari as a digital twin?

The human civilisation of Dunari is engaged in an age-old battle with powerful entities called Spirit Storms. If humanity loses, oblivion will follow. Because of this threat, Ganhook has tasked me to store all the personal documentation I’ve made since I arrived in Dunari off world.

This will be just one of many records of Dunari stored in different places.

My notes will be stored in physical and digital form in Ireland. Some of it will be housed in a virtual Dunari Embassy.

Stage one of the Dunari digital twin is the information gathering stage.

Of course, I’ve already got all that information. But it’s held on a lavun based Dunari information gathering system. As part of my digital twin, I need to transfer all this information onto a digital system back home.   

Firstly, I’ll explain the system I use to log my knowledge of Dunari. Then I’ll explain the software system back home I’ll use to store it—or at least store the blueprints from which to start constructing the digital twin.

In episode 10, Ganhook introduced me to lavun, the energy source that powers most things in this world. Actually, he spent much of his time moaning about how lavun was misused. One misuse was junk mail voice advertising. These were harmless spells that passed into peoples’ houses and whispered advertisements to them.

One such ‘voice’ I heard that day advertised an organisational book called Brain Petals. According to the voice, the ‘book’ enabled you to create an infinite number of chain pages (called petals) to log an infinite supply of information.

It sounded perfect to log my experiences here.

Trouble was, I had no money. Or a way of getting outside to buy a Brain Petal.

When I asked Stein Cat to buy me one, she got curious. She wouldn’t buy it, though. She said I needed Ganhook’s permission to bring anything like that into the compound.

So, I asked Ganhook. Knowing how he detested those junk mail voices, I sold the idea along the lines of ‘enabling’ my Dunari education.

‘It’s intrusive advertising,’ Ganhook said. ‘We shouldn’t be encouraging it.’

I detected a note of curiosity in his tone. Could Ganhook, just like everyone else, be just a bit susceptible to junk mail.

‘I can’t remember everything,’ I said. ‘And I can’t write it all down in one place.’

Ganhook said, ‘Drawing helps remember things.’

I picked up one of my drawing practice sheets. I’d been drawing the room furniture. But the only resemblance to furniture I’d managed was furniture that had passed through a mangler.

‘Look,’ I said. ‘Even I don’t know what that is, and I drew it.’

Ganhook glanced at my scribbled drawings, and smiled.

Two day later, he brought me a Brain Petal.

The book was actually a box. When you opened it, a virtual mini tree trunk sprouted out of it. Using a rod that came with the book, you could ‘pull’ virtual branches from the trunk and then tap the branch to sprout leaves from it.

The rod enabled you to write and draw on the leaves.

When you were done, the whole thing folded neatly away.

This is how I log my Dunari experiences.

Unfortunately, I can’t use my Brain Petal books to transfer all my Dunari information onto digital systems back home. But I have found something similar that I can use on my digital system in Ireland. It’s called Mind Mapping software, and in episode 1 of Series 2, I will demonstrate how I am using it to create the basic outline of my Dunari digital twin.

This software is ideal software for anyone building out their world.

Well, that’s it for Series 1 of the Insider Worldbuilding podcast. I hope you enjoyed it and got something out of it. Every future podcast episode will contain a section detailing the tools and methods I use to create the World of Dunari digital twin.

Series 2 will begin on November 2nd.

I hope you can join me. And if you know anyone who is interested in learning about life in another dimension or world building, please tell them about this show.

Until November 2, goodbye. Or as we say in Dunari, Dreavik!