This map is about 6000 by 4500 miles. The habitable area of this basin is larger than the ancient Soviet Union. The Korst is important in history, many episodes in it's history have been adapted as heroic sword and sorcerer tales. Those tales often have maps accompanying them and if a scale of miles is provided you see that hundreds of those maps can be put onto this area without touching each other. Actually many of them do overlap but the coastline has moved, in many areas hundreds of miles, since those incidents took place.
The basin is made up of several sub basins and it can be argued that it makes more sense to break this up into different basins than it does the Mountain Basins. This has more varied landforms, climates, cultures and racial makeup than all of the Mountain Basins. Geologically it is only part of the Ttharmine basin. These basins have been grouped together because of the geographic compilation done by the early University of Korsto. Those scholars were the first to explore and map this whole area, generating roughly the same map we see here.
This map is asymmetric in that the north pole is not over the center of the map, but directly above Goedeseer. The lake is very nearly north-south. The pole is only another sixth of the map's height above the northern edge.
A people with characteristics of both Trolls and Nordics inhabited the whole basin in prehistoric times. Pure bloods still inhabit much of the high ground in all parts of the basin and are still the majority in the Darssar. This ethnic group considers themselves to be the root stock of both the Nordic and Troll races. These people are common thruout the Korst today, even in the Goblin Deep. Today most of the people in the whole basin have some of this ancestry in them.
As you can see from the widespread patches of recent snowfall, the Darssar has some of the harshest climate of any inhabited part of Kassidor, and it has been inhabited since prehistoric times, sustained by trade in dried onions. It is presumed that in prehistoric times the racial ancestor of Trolls and Nordics also inhabited the Goblin Deep and grew those onions, no scientific evidence for that conjecture has been gathered at this time. The Darssar sub basin developed a feudal way of life thousands of Earth years before they could write, as early as 10,000bc. Since the Goblins settled the deeps, they have been able to grow onions indoors. The way of life for the people of the land in the Darssar has changed little in the last 15,000 years. Nearly till the Energy Age the Darssar was the dominant civilization in the Korst and the other parts were wildernesses that had barely been explored. The Darssar remained somewhat prosperous after The Fall and continued to turn out historical incidents of intrigue and magic all thru the Troubled Times.
Three different waves of Elven settlement are apparent in the southern and eastern parts of the basin. The oldest is from prehistoric times. They show the ear points, the slight builds and low dimorphism of all Elves, but they have pale skins and dark curly hair. They are most common today in the northern parts of the Duust River valley, near the city of Heemnep. They are not the most common type of Elf even there, but you will see them. It is known they came from the Yondure basin, but as they left no written record and very few ruins, it is not known what level their culture was at.
The deepest section of the basin is in the far north with Bluumegik being four and a half miles below sea level. This region has been home to Goblins since prehistoric times and the natives of the region claim it as the ancestral Goblin homeland. Archeological evidence cannot disprove the claim. The genetic evidence says Goblins evolved from the proto-Elves between 18,000 and 15,000 years ago. Bluumegik today is not the most up-to-date city on Kassidor, but there are regular streetcars and some plumbing. It's grown from hangleaves and has pretty good night life considering it's size and location. What isn't obvious is that in 4100ad this city has been inhabited for just over 13,500 Earth years. Thru much of the Troubled Times, much of the basin was under nominal Goblin military domination, though they never completely subdued the Darssar and many tales of war against Goblins are based on fact.
The middle wave of Elvish settlement was in early historical times. Large colonies were set up by the kingdoms of the old lands along the old coastline, an area of humid impenetrable jungle until then. Those settlements continued to grow and by the time of The Fall the Korst coast was a well developed part of the Empire. These people are more robust, and taller than the proto-Elves, with straight hair that is usually dark. They are called Wood Elves today, and are huskier than either of the other varieties of Elves common in the Korst basin. They are most common in the south along the Old Coast Canal, but never made up a majority. That canal was constructed after the breakout (1731bc.) by damming in the inter-coastal waterway of the time. The Korst was probably least affected by the Troubled Times of any of the old lands, and many kingdoms survived peacefully along the Old Coast well after the breakout.
The Brother's Lowlands was settled in the late Troubled Times after the wars of magic and the breakout. It was settled by people fleeing Orc and Goblin armies in the Old Midlands that were causing untold havoc all thru the Troubled Times. As the races mingled in this area in the late Troubled Times, many more incidents involving stories of eldritch magic abounded, though in these times it was less and less likely that any functioning ancient technology was involved.
The latest wave of Elvish settlement are Highland Elves, who began settling the upper south and the lake region during the era Rome was an important power on Earth. They were familiar with the knowledge of the Kassikan and brought improved agriculture, youth and peace with them. They founded the city of Korsto and built the lake, modeled loosely after the Yakhan. Korsto is the highest big city on Kassidor, being over a mile above sea level. The climate is moderated somewhat by the lake, but summer temperatures range form 0 to 100F during the week, winter from -10 to 80F.
Most of the Korst had relatively little problem in adapting to modern times. In the Darssar the nobility insisted on keeping their titles. Some of the rich persist in using feudal era titles even today and still employ large numbers of servants to preserve the illusion of nobility. You can still see pompous ceremonies being staged in hKegdehk, and the celebrities are glad to have you in the audience. Everyday life has changed little in the Darssar. People have stopped aging and have few children, and have slowly adopted improved crops, but their huts are still thatched with bigleaves and insulated with scamp furs.
In the Goblin Deep the culture is the most different from modern Kassidor. They have voluntarily retained a hierarchal culture. In that area important people can still make a lot of trouble for any who cross them, in spite of the Instinct. In that area, engaging in commercial activity without the head man's approval can still lead to ostracism. In Bluumegik a man sits who still considers himself king of the Goblin Empire and has the influence to have his will done in most of that deep.
In all sections of the basin but the Goblin Deeps, a sport very much like rodeo is popular with all segments of the population. Staying on a bucking animal differs only in the animal from what one would see in Saskatchewan or the Navorkin Plains. The other events are usually just as similar. They are conducted as double elimination tournaments with each player getting an event before and after lunch. They usually last a week. You'd be really missing out if you didn't at least go along and take notes.
The sport is a touchstone for the whole culture. The music for these events is the basis for much of the modern music though it is much different from music associated with rodeo in the reminder of human space. The food associated with the sport pervades the culture. The clothing styles, housing styles, furniture styles, modern literature, all allude to the people, places and traditions of rodeo. High society has fashionable boxes at events. You are likely to be approached by a woman at rodeo in the Korst than in other parts of the Empire.
The sport is at it's height on the southern reaches of the Old Shore between Simril and Narglass. There are a dozen stadiums big enough for the super bowl between those two cities. There are dinners and music shows clustered around them and following their theme. There is a lot of betting on the events and those who care, measure their status by how much they're able to bet. Results are printed in weekly news sheets in cities all over the lake, south and east of the basin.
In the Darssar, there is no data service, but there is rodeo. It is more rough and tumble than in other parts of the basin and those that still flaunt their titles and hire servants to stand in ceremonial lines preside over the events.
In the Goblin deeps rodeo is unknown, The closest thing they know is pit-fighting hyadunes. While the rodeo is popular among all productive segments of society, pit fighting is done underground in the old catacombs among the dregs of Goblin society.
There is a tradition of independent extended families in all but the Goblin Deeps of the Korst. It is strongest along the Old Coast and in the far south. The tradition of intrigue within and between these families is somewhat overblown by the media. Most of it comes from video dramas, which have to show unusual circumstances. In reality neighboring families carry on peaceful and informal trade, old friends carry on distant trade and most families occasionally have some shouting at the dinner table, but the literature is not representative of day-to-day life.
The independent extended family is somewhat less common in the Korsto megalopolis than the other parts of the basin except the Goblin deeps. In the area of the city and the lake there are many single people and couples on smallholds like in the Highlands. Even so, the ideal of independence is upheld. They tend to keep organizations as small as possible. This shows up in decor as not a lot of big construction projects. The Old Shore Canal is still the greatest public work in the basin and some say it has not been maintained as well as it should be.
In the Darssar, the royal families have maintained their family structure. The people of the land were mainly nuclear families, and since they no longer age and have children, they are now mainly single people and couples.
The family as landlord and tenants as serfs reached quite a high development among the Sith in a series of kingdoms north of the current lake in the late Troubled Times. There was a much stronger division into castes than other cultures of the basin and a lot more formality. They were also known for a religious sect worshiping tolerance of unspeakable pain. Those cultures have all but vanished since the lake reached the southern end of the region. Half of the sixteen thousand Kassidorians who have successfully applied for Centorin residency have come from the Sith region.
Individual and family homes are very well built and maintained in the lake, south and east areas of the basin. They use a lot of wide and thin interlocking ceramic blocks that are baked in standard molds in the village or clan. What is grown is grown with shaftwood in the lake region, archwood in the far south. Plumbing is clean and comfortable, most people have water heaters though they use them sparingly. Lighting is often done with lanterns plumbed with methane or alcohol. They must be hand lit and have a brightness knob on them. Heat is provided by ceramic stoves burning wood or alcohol. A few have central heat using convection. The home is usually laid out as one room with cooking, bathing and sleeping alcoves. Larger families have homes with collections of these rooms for individuals, as well as common space and work areas.
In the Darssar, homes are often crafted instead of grown, usually of shaftwood logs. They have multiple small rooms off a central hallway. In the countryside plumbing is not advanced enough to put inside the house, but they do have chamber pots for the cold of dark. A central chimney with one or more fireplaces provides heat during the dark, but many do not heat their homes to a temperature Centorins would find acceptable.
Goblins always try to find a way to live inside the lord's castle, where they will have a room with a separate bathroom and micro-kitchen. The ceiling is usually high enough that they prop up some loft storage space above it. Those that live outside the castle usually build dome-shaped huts of saplings and fiberglass wherever they can find enough land to live from.
The cuisine in most of the Korst basin is the plainest on Kassidor. You'll find grilled steaks, boiled vegetables, fresh salads and fare of that nature. Some have said its cooking is reminiscent of America, England and Ireland. To them it is associated with rodeo. In Korsto and other areas near the lake you'll also find ethnic foods such as zhlindu rolls, diddles and stews, but in the south and east parts of the basin those foods will be rare.
It is the custom in the south, east and lake parts of the basin that the customer washes the dishes when leaving. The cook may compliment or deride you on the job you've done. In urban Korsto there will be signs above the entry telling you if you are expected to wash your own, bring your own or not. In the deep south there are often lines of poor people near the sinks offering to wash your dishes for a penny. There may a few looking for that work in other parts of the basin also.
In the Darssar region, public dining establishments are a little less modern than in the other parts of the basin. The inn may have a spitted beast turning in the fireplace and you may cut pieces from it with your knife. Breads are served with it, they will be a test of your knife and teeth, but the flavor is outstanding and the jellies here are fabulous. For greens, travelers in these parts chew something from the side of the trail, they are rarely served in commerce.
Goblins eat what most humans turn away. Fine dining in the Goblin Deep is gruel with a few berries in it. Mushroom-like polypworts are a staple, as is algae broth. Their gourmets dine on the equivalent of snails, slugs and bugs, so stick with the gruel if you're squeamish, it's a simple boiled vedn mash. Have some of the lek bacon to round out your nutrition, it's not as salty as you're used to, but really not bad. In the city of Bluumegik there are three or four inns that cater to foreigners that may have something more interesting on the menu.
Finding companionship in the Korst is as varied as the basin itself. In urban Korsto you will find many of the same sex club chains that you do in the Highlands, the music will have a bit more beat but on average the lyrics won't be as suggestive. A lot of the pop hits from the Yakhan are transmitted over suntower to Korsto. Though half the people you meet have a lot of Nordic or Troll, Korsto has a very similar culture to the Highlands and you might even think you were back in the Highlands.
The beach scene in Korsto is the same as the Yakhan, people are mainly there to see and be seen. Well known 'stars,' male and female, have regular routes where they walk the beach and cheering fans who may or may not get them aroused. But like the beaches in the Highlands, touching is by invitation only, though invitations are just as common as in the Highlands.
In everyday interaction people will ask each other who they're sleeping with next time, so you may not have to make any special effort to find companionship. They do not put quite as much effort into their appearance as in the Yakhan and are not quite as vain about it, in general. You will find very beautiful people in both places that are perfectly humble about it.
In the south and east parts of the basin, you're going to see more Wood Elves and Nordics, and every combination of the two. This part of the basin is still affluent by Kassidorian standards with clean plumbing, etc. In sex clubs, or at rodeo, she'll expect you to be stylish. Denim and leather was in style, last we knew, but unlike other parts of Kassidor where clothing will remain in style for thousand year cycles, in the southern and eastern Korst it will change in as little as twenty Earth years. Just find a 'hunting outfitter.' The more discreet the sign on the shop, the more knowledgeable the merchant will be. He will probably be the tailor and may have a leather smith and/or bead worker with him. When you do meet someone, in general you'll get more of a work-out in these parts of the basin, but again, there are hundreds of millions of individuals and most will answer questions honestly.
Being as much part of the Old Midlands, the Brother's Lowlands is home to a lot of Orc and Goblin heritage, and unfortunately it shows in the natives. That still leaves a greater percentage of pretty people than in any poor neighborhood on Centorin, but clearly worse odds than any other destination on this map. The Brothers Lowlands is a thousand feet or more lower than the Old Shore Canal, and the climate of the Ttharmine can be felt, thus women seldom wear tops and nudity is common.
In the Darssar sub-basin the decor is very different, and there are no sex clubs as such, but people mingle at the public taps. The petting is discreet but commonplace, and girls usually instigate by cupping your buns or rubbing their breasts on you. It's OK to fondle each other there, and benches are provided, but it is understood you don't undress or get it on using that bench. Most such public spaces are outdoors and in the street.
When you go home with her, be warned that this part of the basin is not as advanced as the south and east. She may share her home with animals and the plumbing may consist of an outdoor seat with a hole in it and a lever-action pump, two pails and large tub on a stand. She may bring in breakfast, wriggling from the traps, and kill and gut it while trying to continue the conversation you were having about the night before.
If you go all the way up to the Goblin deeps, you might want to ask the big guy sitting at the shrouded table in the back with the big water pipe on it who is fair game. If he says none, you're better off trying the next dive down the road. If he says OK, you'll find that Goblin women are now kind of cute in an exotic way. They have the most exaggerated pointed ears that almost meet over their heads. They have tiny chins and very big eyes. They may have exotically enhanced their tiny figures and some are surprisingly enthusiastic sex partners.
Touring in the Korst also varies from region to region. As with most things, the lake, south and east portions of the basin are well set up and modern. There are plenty of inns, most are comfortable. Reaching the Korst is reasonable today. The tubes can take you to within a local year of the southern edge of this basin.
The most spectacular scenery is to the west of the lake, another year to the north once you reach the Korst. Korsto itself is a beautiful city, well worth visiting, and you almost can't avoid it on your way to the mountains.
There are many large prairies in the basin and big game expeditions are common. Some will allow novices to sign on, but most of them are actually working expeditions with hunters, butchers, briners and cargomen along. If you want to sign on with one of those, you should know what you are doing. Tourist safaris can be found less than a year from Korsto on the Jeeasile plains and are probably a better choice, especially your first time out there. The signature beast on three of these great sweeps of prairie is the lummis, a wooly relative of the thongga with much better flavor. On the prairies of the Goblin Deep there are moss scamps and lek. They are not as desirable, but you don't have to deal with zero degree temperatures during dark in the deep.
History is everywhere, you can hardly pass a village without some restored castle, battle site, cave or glen that figured in one novel of the Troubled Times or another. In the deep south nearly every large family can trace their heritage back to the Troubled Times or earlier and it doesn't take the world's greatest schmoozer to get invited into a hoary old mansion for a tour. In this you may find a third of the structure is still inhabited, and the remainder goes back into the mists of time far enough to have fossils. The owner may regale you with amazing tales of what happened here in history and how the fate of the world turned on this castle. In most cases there is a kernel of truth to the tale, but find it in an accepted text before investing in it. Also be warned that most of the elfstones, dactyl lances, palantirs and other talismans from the Troubled Times in the tourist-trap emporiums are fake.
If you get as far as the Darssar, you will find a few inns with indoor plumbing, but you will still be welcomed and still find plenty of history. But it can take two local years with a caravan crossing West Nullabar to get there. There is more history in the Darssar, but fewer make a big deal of it. You may have to buy a few rounds of drink to coax a good story out of the locals, but it is more likely to be true. Unfortunately most history in this region happened before the land of Giza was troubled with pyramids and few really know any of it today. The countryside is dotted with ruins, most of them have never been studied and the facts surrounding them are all but unknown. None of the inscriptions have been translated.
The Goblin Deeps is not a great place for tourists. Travelers are expected to have business in the area. You will be an obvious foreigner and will be expected to ask permission of the village or neighborhood chief before engaging in trade. While the Instinct affects the Goblins as well as any other human, they have chosen to remain a hierarchal society. While a woman couldn't really be stopped if she insisted on equal rights, most of them do not and remain under the nominal control of one man or another.
There are many cities in the basin. Those shown on the map are only a sample. Only Bluumegik and hKegdehk are under five million in size. If cities the size of Bluumegik were marked in the south, east and lake regions, there would be no room for the names. With that said, there is really only one city in the basin. It is ten times larger than any other and is as much the commercial and cultural center of this basin as Zhlindu is in its basin.
The economy of the Korsto megalopolitan area is as advanced as any on the planet. In urban areas you are only a short walk from a data terminal that can link you to any planet in human space. Most people have a fairly regular career (nothing formal, but I've been there almost every Morningday since 1667ad.) that they do once a week. In urban neighborhoods most live in a spacious one-room balconied apartment with plumbing, lighting, a music system and heat, for the dark is frigid in Korsto.
There is construction going on for a tube system in Korsto as 4100ad. begins. At the pace that construction it is going, it will begin taking passengers in about twenty five Earth years. It will then cover only the central area of the red dot labeled 'Korsto' on this map. Streetcars and coaches can get you well beyond the edges of the red dot in only a week for pennies. The city will probbably be connected to the Yakhan by tubeway by 4200ad.
While the city is like the Yakhan in character, it is very different in detail. There are no great canals, just a very large lockway moving ships from the lake to the river. The center of town is along the lockway. The architecture is crystal and shaftwood similar in shape to Yclel-vi but on a smaller scale.
The arts scene is great, some compare it to Yondure, Zhlindu and Dos. The cinema is dark, concentrating on suspense and betrayal, usually among the captains of industry. There are lavish sets and costumes and the actors and actresses are spectacularly beautiful. It doesn't reach Centorin because all movies have lots of nude scenes, reflecting the fact that most people remain nude while home during Afternoonday.
The music scene is lively but not as cerebral as in the Yakhan, Dos or Zhlindu. It is not as sugary as the music from Bordzvek. There are more great halls and less networks. Dance is usually a participatory sport at the music clubs and rarely seen as a separate art. Since the clubs are often part of an entertainment complex, music venues are also a great place to meet people. As in other parts of Kassidor, the volume is such that conversation is possible.
The best dining in Korsto is also at the clubs. There are many large inns or public houses that strive to fill all your entertainment needs from food and drink to music, sex, sport and gambling. Some of the biggest are as large as any resort-casino on the Altaic or Atlantic coasts. They are often centered on their food courts and in them you will find the largest variety of food styles in the basin, and quality second to none (in all but the Dice Bowl, though their food is still passable). In most of them it is counter service, though you can pick a table and put the little orange handkerchief you find on the table on the lantern stand over the table and a free-lance waiter or waitress will be glad to go to the counter for you. They expect a penny a trip.
Korsto is a relatively new city in a relatively benign area. The water is safe to drink, not just swim in. There are no especially dangerous neighborhoods, no carnivores in the urban neighborhoods, so there are no special precautions one needs to take here, other than the normal ones for all Kassidorian cities such as 'don't get too wasted to stand up at a party on a 40th floor balcony' and common sense rules like that. Korsto has plenty of yaag and beer (very good and served cold), other drugs are there if you want them, but it is no more of a party scene than Dos or Yclel-vi.