Weekly Design Blog #41: Kara Kora -- The Desert City (i.e. Where the Keshou are at)

Hello All,

Today lets continue our series of blogs about the cities of Rosuto-Shima from previous weeks on Todou -- The Twisted City and Shangti -- The Imperial City (which relates to blogs about the physical landscape of The Lost Island here and also here), with Kara Kora -- The Desert City.

While most of the cities and provinces of Rosuto-Shima have long and rich histories, Kara Kora is actually not terribly old, having existed in "the Useless Desert" (Muyou Sabaku) for the past few decades. Derived from the words “From This”, as in From This (Place), but also a play on a common phrase shouted at and now by keshou of basically "Hey You!", the city-state of Kara Kora is from a joke by the native population (largely free keshou craftspeople). Throughout much of Rosuto-Shima's long history, objects of value and craftsmanship would be stamped with a "From XXX" embossing or inking, such as “Kara Shangti,” “Kara Chinan,” etc. It was showing it was "From Shangti," or "From Chinan" etc. This was done out of local pride, and often by human masters keshou craftspeople that were little more than slaves and indentured servants. 

Yeah, THESE guys (see there stat's here)

When, after the War of the States, the keshou were free, they wanted to form their own communities but the only space available was the ruined wasteland of Muyou Sabaku (though enclaves of keshou integrated well into many neighborhoods of bigger cities like Shangti etc.). And when searching for a name for the new settlements that they formed around the largest and most consistent oases of that desert, they naturally gravitated toward "From Here" and other non-serious comments. It was only after the world outside their little desert homes started to have increased demand for new goods of the mechanical wonder-types that keshou were making that they really started to move out into the rest of Rosuto-Shima and those joking stamps of "From Here" or "From My Home" started to become name-brands people sought out.

And it didn't take long for the keshou work-guilds and corporations to capitalize on this to form Kara Kora as a single place and domain.

Life in the Useless Desert

While Japan does in fact have a desert of sorts, and its right along the coast so you could imagine these images represent what you might find along that Eastern coast of Rosuto-Shima.

Now, of all the odd things that MIGHT inspire the design of Kara Kora, you may be surprised if I said "The City of Brass." No not the D&D one that is a plane, but the original 1,001 Arabian Nights  <also long form here translation> (but also not the Rudyard Kipling poem, which is about Britain or something). If you’re too busy to read, listen to it here. "Why?" would be a fitting next question to which I shall point to: (from the Wikipedia article about it, emphasis mine)

 The City of Brass" features a group of travellers on an archaeological expedition across the Sahara to find an ancient lost city and attempt to recover a brass vessel that Solomon once used to trap a jinn, and, along the way, encounter a mummified queen, petrified inhabitants, lifelike humanoid robots and automata, seductive marionettes dancing without strings, and a brass horseman robot who directs the party towards the ancient city, which has now become a ghost town.

Less though this imagery, which is great but we'll save it for Kingdoms of Sand.

So, you've got early references to robots and automata, and all manner of mechanical wonders in a desert setting. But other deserts and how people live there will influence the landscape and cityscape.

The Gobi desert of China and its various people are likely to influence it as well, especially as like the Gobi’s relation to the Himalayas the Muyou Sabaku is in the rain shadow of Ryu-Iki Yama (Dragon-Breath Mountains). The northern regions are going to be especial stark as it’s the former battleground of the war with the oni, and thus a true wasteland.

Maybe even this kind of Wasteland up there, but with Keshou and Clockwork Ronin

The area of the Muyou Sabaku is also known for terrible sandstorms, as well as an especially terrible dust that is similar to Asian dust (also known as yellow dust) that can be picked up on winds and found thousands of miles away.

The Gobi isn’t the only desert of Asia or even just China that we’ll be pulling things from, for if you look in at places like the Taklamamkan desert for its oasis culture (for instance…) on the Silk Road, as well as both the Ordos culture and Mongols and how they lived on the Ordos desert.

I could see some combination of the following working out very well for the keshou...

I imagine clay bricks like these, and...

... like these...

...but in an alternate design like these round ones, which should include the following text:

 The alien-like Fujian Tulou dwellings in rural and mountainous areas of southern China were built as early as the 12th century. They are usually circular in shape (although some are rectangular) and are up to 5 stories high. Inside the Tulou can be up to 80 families, and their wealth and status determine the level at which they reside (the aristocrats of the community live on the top floor, whereas the peasants live at the bottom, likely with the rats).


These multi-story buildings would make an especial kind of sense for two reasons -- one, the keshou all living together would be how they were used to life previously, so they don't have as big an issue as others might, but more than that, the design of outer protection against wind and sand but an open, protected courtyard for work and play is especially nice to think about for these people.

Add to a city of these courtyard designs with yurts around it as either temporary living space or even more often as places of experimentation with dangerous steam and clockworks, as well as firearms, and you can imagine some interesting space for Kara Kora!

Lucus Palosaari, Editor & Project Manager at Fat Goblin Games (Like us on Facebook!)  

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