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.
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.