[5] Atlas of Kharak – Tiir’s location

The city model is coming along but I have a little snippet from some poking around of Kharak’s texture map. I wanted to place Tiir itself.

Tiir’s location was originally stated in the Homeworld 1 manual to be in a canyon “blasted into the side of Kharak’s tiny ice cap”. However, in one cutscene Deserts of Kharak places Tiir well and away from the polar ice caps… actually close enough to the deserts for the Gaalsien to threaten it. In fact, it’s not even close to the caps to really explain the polar ice caps retreating since the foundation of the city… since that would presume the icecaps at one time nearly covered the northern hemisphere.

But let’s not get judgemental over details shall we? Besides, I’m going out of my way to look for things that might not look good under close scrutiny. There will be errors, just like the Homeworld 1 region maps don’t line up to the strategic map. I’ll think up a plausible reason for Tiir’s placement when it comes to creating the written content for this Atlas of Kharak, should I get to that step.

Back to the point. Tiir was defined in Deserts of Kharak in one cutscene that names a few locations in the northern Coalition (along with the Frontier Wall and frontier bases, but no other cities). It is easily found afterward because it has the largest sensor dome of all the northern habitats.

I picked one of the screencaps I had of this cutscene and decided to do some image enhancing in photoshop. Soon I was able to spot some latitude and longitude lines. Through it I was able to pick out where I presume Tiir is located:


It’s somehwere within that isthmus along what seem to be fertile vallies now. Perhaps the Naabal hid away in this valley while the strife was going on all around them. I don’t think aircraft were an invention during the Heresy wars (if anyone had them, it was Naabal or Sjet), so it would be easily overlooked to travellers on foot.

Part of the reason I looked into this was because I wondered if I should include cliffs in the map of Tiir. The snapshots that we have don’t show an obvious sign of immediate mountains, so it must be wide enough of a valley for the cliffsides to be lost in the distance. That, or Tiir’s “camera” is aimed away from the walls. Yet we can see the Scaffold fly overhead to give us some idea of where that camera is oriented. It appears, after all, that Kharak’s sun sets in the east. Noticed that detail as Kapisi was leaving their base in mission 1, headed east, into a sunset as they traveled to the Boneyard.


[5] Atlas of Kharak – Tiir’s location

[4] Atlas of Kharak – Named Places

Progress on the main map was held up by going through the manuals from Homeworld 1 and Catalcysm to find out all the known places on Kharak and catalogue them. From there, I’ll start to place them on the best physical map we have of Kharak (which I now have! Thanks BBI!)

Might as well list out what I have:


Homeworld 1 Manual

The Three Northern Seas: One of these, and the largest in the north, is the Salt Sea.

Great Majirian Ocean, Majiirian Sea: The Great Grey Sea, the southern expanse and bounty of the Paktu people. Largest sea-mass on the planet.

Saju-Ka: The artistic gem of Kharak at the time. Contains the most greatest work commissioned in the name of Sajuuk. Every library contained the collective works of the Kushan people. The city would have been swallowed by sand in the early 700s if it were not for the great engineer Gar Nabaal’s network of works. Destroyed in 717

Paktu: Origins were slopes above the salt sea in 462. In 488 they were dispossessed.

The Plain at Albegiido: 490 KDS, the Paktu depart and set sail into the great banded desert on the winds of the seasonal storm, the Chak M’hot.

Hunon Mountains: Paktu lost many members crossing the pass to poisonous water, lizardbite, and rockfall.

Burning Red Canyons of the Hunon: The people despaired, but Paktu then saw a white sea-spirit on the horizon.

The Great Banded Desert: The central desert that rings the planet.

The Southern Federation: Paktu?

The Second Sea: lands on the coast were the origin of the Soban. (Saabel?) Not a blade of grass was left green… the land was green.

The Sparkling Desert: a location beside the Second Sea. Soban desired to lead troops across this body to attack the invaders of their old homelands.

Tiir: Fled from Gaalsien to their hidden valley refuge, blasted into the edge of Khark’s tiny northern icecap

White Desert: 340, along the shores of this desert, is the first mention of the Manaani as “raiders”. There is a “waterside” here.

Ferin Sha: The dancing ground. Nearly 200 miles from the White Desert. Last celebration here was in 513, where the Siidim attacked it with an army.

Cataclysm Manual

Kohntala Mountain Range: Ancestral homes of the Somtaaw. Varied from Fams, dams, and mills, to fortresses and towns. More than self-sufficient of a Kiithid here. Natural barrier between the Siidim and Gaalsien.

  • Hameln: Walled city of the Somtaaw. Source of the smelters for ore from the Red Creek Valley.
  • Gydeo: Walled city of the Somtaaw. Dome of Heaven is located here.

Lungma Jiin: Roof of the world, the highest known mountain on Kharak at the time.

  • The Shimmering Path: 33 temples. Each more inaccessable than the last. The path was closed to outsiders 300 years before the discovery of the Guidestone. Still closed by the burning of Kharak. 675 all but the Oracle of Tala and the Dome of heaven were closed to outsiders.
  • Oracle of Tala: First temple on the Shimmering Path
  • Dome of Heaven: Seventh Temple, most Kharakid ended their pilgrimage here. 26 more temples up.
  • Kuun-Lan: “Purifying Flame”
  • Faal-Corum “Silent Wayfarer”
  • Clee-San “ Truth Seeker”
  • ? Teer-Gig:
  • ? Gaal-Ten
  • ? Coor-Lan
  • ? Naab-Corum
  • ? Toet-Coy
  • ? Eheb-San
  • ? Shuus-nan
  • ? Thuuw-Nan
  • ? Morrh-Re
  • ? Ruun-Aaid
  • ? Shin-Clah
  • ? Baar-Ett
  • ? Gaar-Balhi
  • ? Vhenk-Maan
  • ? Maal-Nitz
  • ? Feng-Yuun
  • ? Thul-Lee
  • ? Mholah-Ri
  • ? Veer-Kah
  • ? Eh-Ghoan
  • ? Drun-Kyori -27 names including the three canonical ones in the lore
  • Temple of the Mysteries: Highest of the Temples. Upper slopes of Lungma Jiin, a blasted ladder of crumbling granite and thin ice and constantly buffeted by freezing gale force winds.
  • Kasar Road: Only way into Somtaaw holdings.
  • Red Creek Valley: Source of Iron found in the mountain ranges. Bounty of Kuura.

Kasar Desert: At the foot of Lungma Jiin and at the start of the Shimmering Path.


Those who have known me from the Relicnews forums will remember my distaste for Cataclysm’s contributions to the lore, but I find nowadays that I treat it as apocraphal. I’ll take what I want from it and leave the rest as conjecture. BBI has adopted the portion of the lore pertaining to Kharak for the expedition guide, so there’s no reason not to treat it as canon as well.

The long list of names preceeded by ? are all the selection-names from the Motherships and Carriers in Catalcysm (there you could select the names of your ships in your skirmish battles). As the three ships named in Cataclysm were names of temples along the shimmering path, it makes sense that the other names may be other names of those temples as well. Including the three ships, there are 24 names, out of 33 temples. In absence of other information, sure! Why not adopt them as other names for those temples.

Now I need to find a home for them.


This is the home of the Northern Coalition, and presumably the largest habitable landmass that the Kharakid call home. This is probably the battle ground between the Siidim and the Gaalsien in the heresy wars. Somewhere in here I need to find Lungma Jiin, part of the Kohntala Mountain Range, and with feet at the Kasar desert. Between that are the land-holdings of the Siidim and Gaalsien.

[4] Atlas of Kharak – Named Places

[2] Atlas of Kharak – Khar-Toba Start

Until I somehow get a hold of a nice planet texture view of Kharak, I might as well put some time into other things.

There are two interest areas I already know I’d like to depict. One is Lungma Jiin (Somtaaw’s Shimmering Path), the other is Khar-Toba itself.

The subject of Khar-Toba is interesting because it’s one of those minor areas actually retconned by Deserts of Kharak. The implication within the Homeworld 1 lore was that the exiles, after crashing, built their city with scrap hull plating very close to the original derelict. When the powerplant failed, the exiles simply moved on. Rachel’s scan and Deserts of Kharak show almost no structures by the derelict itself, but something else, and much wider and more sprawling. I tried to reconcile this new projection with an asset from HW1 depicting the excavation of Khar-Toba:


So, I would have to reconcile this within this creative project. It will invariably draw some comments on how my work “isn’t canon”, but I hope this highlights the problems one has by making something canon. As author of this project, unless BBI steps in to correct me, I have control of the editing to say what is put into this book. Just as any other project head has with his project.

Moving on…

As with my other maps I start with what we know. Rachel’s scan in the last mission is the most direct image of the ancient city buried under the sand. However, in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, there is a physical satellite image projected just before Rachel’s overlay:


The most interesting this about this map is the massive physical ring surrounding the wrecksite. What is it, why was it built, and who put it there? Since Rachel’s display shows it as blue, we can take it to mean that this is a rock formation and not something artificial. But since Khar-Toba crashed and didn’t materialize there via hyperspace, I think we can rule out Hyperspace core shinanigans forming this circle around the derelict.

In my imagination this circle was constructed out of native rock by the inhabitants of Khar-Toba as a sand-barrier. They could have put it there to protect their city or the wreckage itself.

Since Karan’s scan gives us a ring identical to the second, but smaller, North of this current location we can presume it’s the same ring built for similar reasons. But nothing is at the center?

Khar-Toba’s layout is probably purposeful. By building their new city in the shape of the Angel Moon the city’s builders may have hoped never to forget their origins. Since the guidestone exists bearing the Angel Moon seal (in two versions, HW1 and HWR have different depictions), we can easily suppose this symbol pre-dates the landing on Kharak.

Unfortunately, the city did not last. Even though the Hyperspace module is outputting a tremendous amount of power it’s likely that the Exiles had no way to tap it or understand what they had. So when the ship’s main power reactor failed, the inhabitants may have been unable to hold back the desert and spent the last of their energies to head north to easier climates. Khar-Toba remained abandoned until 1110 KDS, where the Kapisi expedition found it.



This is what I have so far on my map of Khar-Toba. The only thing missing are fainter orange-traces which I think indicate tunnels dug beneath the city. I’m still pondering how I would like to present this in the atlas… one idea is to include some 3D snapshots of the city still being unearthed, but before the discovery of the guidestone.

Additional: I learned a little bit more about Khar-Toba’s changes and depiction when I met with Rob in March of ’16 just before his visit to the Game Developer’s Conference. Khar-Toba was one of the first questions I asked about. I learned that the devs were originally conscious of Khar-Toba’s initial depiction (the city huddled close to the starship wreck). But a random sketch from J. Aaron Kambeitz showing the Angel Moon logo drawn into the sand was impressive enough for BBI to consider the retcon. And when Rob and the team figured Khar-Toba was occupied for hundreds of years, there was plenty of time for the city to expand outward.

I did get from Rob that the Center Barrier is an earthworks embankment. It was inferred before through the tactical display, but it’s nice to get solid confirmation that this is the case.

[2] Atlas of Kharak – Khar-Toba Start

Dungeon War dev Part 1

So I feel now that the best way to get back to being hired is to start sharing how I approach projects, and my thoughts behind putting some of them together. It wasn’t until now (maybe a week after I had set up my website to do this and this blog) that I finally have an idea. It is a game design I’m tentatively calling Dungeon War.

The idea came from thinking about Dungeons, Dungeons, and more Dungeons from the cartoon Gravity Falls. It’s obviously a parody of Dungeons and Dragons, laden with heavy mathematics that (as cool as that would be) I do not want to try to replicate. Instead, I liked the simple idea that one character is the dungeon master, the other is the player, and navigating/surviving a dungeon to defeat the boss is the objective. What kind of game would that look like with only two players?

Moreover as Dipper, one of the main characters, is shown assembling a dungeon. I wanted to add the mechanic where one player takes the time to assemble a set of cards and abilities to comprise his or her dungeon for an adventuring player to face. With this concept in mind I took some time letting ideas and thoughts flow on to paper, and now I have the development ideas for a two player micro-adventure game.

This is the first time I’ll be documenting one of my projects, and I’ll be posting the results on my website. I’ll follow up here in a bit with more on the design and some thoughts that put together the concept!

Dungeon War dev Part 1

Prelaunch commencing


This blog is a support site for my online portfoilo at http://www.pilotillustration.com. Here I’d like to talk about my art process, current thoughts, share project ideas, and just be an outlet in general for my creativity. I’m currently seeking employment, and I feel this could be a good spotlight to see how I approach creative projects while they are in progress.

Of course, I already have some projects on my website. Check them out here to see what’s up already!

Once again, welcome, and enjoy the ride!

Mike “Norsehound” Ptak

Prelaunch commencing