Karst Geographic Location in The Sealed Kingdoms | World Anvil


Karst is the sole habitable planet in the Alpha Xymeria System and home to the eponymous human-descended Karstinean peoples. Once a warm world named for its unique geology - its surface being extensively shaped by underground erosion - Karst became something of a haven for scavengers from across the Sealed Kingdoms Region after a natural disaster saw it flung towards the outer edge of its star's habitable zone. Its once space-bound residents shoved back into bickering and fighting over dwindling resources by the whims of an uncaring cosmos, Karst nevertheless has the potential to recover due to the efforts of the White-Star Union and, more recently, interest from the Cobalt Protectorate.


The name 'Karst' is a translation of a High Karstic term for the most common type of geophysical complex found on the planet. Karst's crust is carbonaceous, calciferous, and, thus, somewhat more prone to water erosion than planets with more stable mineralogy. The planet has comparatively little ocean coverage, but still has an enormous volume of water available to support plant and animal life thanks to extensive systems of underground aquifers and semi-aquatic caverns where loose carbonate minerals, such as limestone, were eroded away over millions of years. Surface valleys, sinkholes, springs, and rivers provide access to these cavern networks, allowing the Karstineans during the height of their global civilization to easily find shelter and water from what was then the at times scorching heat of their orange-yellow sun. Many caverns were eventually shored up and drained for use as bunkers, subways, and even commercial complexes where they undergirded major surface settlements.   Exposed seas lie in bands across the tropics, connected to one another through wide channels as a result of both natural forces and civil engineering projects undertaken during the height of Karstinean civilization before the Near Miss; equatorial regions tend to be dryer as a result of more continuous insolation and, thus, continuous evaporation of surface water.   Karst's axial tilt was comparatively small at five degrees, making the seasons relatively mild. When the planet was closer to the sun, polar ice formation was driven more by the shallow angle that light took getting to the poles rather than the climate of the planet overall. In more recent times, the near passage of a black hole forced Karst further away from the star and increased this axial tilt to twelve degrees, expanding the polar regions through shifts in both insolation and temperature. As a result, the polar ice caps expand every year, covering over the ruins of cities that once housed the governing apparatus that, at one point, almost succeeded in uniting the nations of the whole world.


Despite its relatively low surface water coverage, Karst was once a lush world with extensive forests throughout the tropics. Mangroves tended to grow along the edges of the exposed seas, extending the apparent landmass even further when viewed from orbit. Nearer the equator, vast savannas gave way to deserts where the mountains cast rain shadows. In all regions of the world, massive, wurm-like predators slumbered in the ubiquitous karst tunnels, providing vivid fodder for early Karstinean mythology. Land mammals more familiar to later human observers, including a wide variety of ruminants, reptles, birds and large variants of certain insects, were also present and in extensive profusion wherever forage could be found. In general, everything grew bigger on Karst - that is, up until the Near Miss stunted plant growth and ushered in a new ice age.   Now, those creatures which have survived are those which are exothermic, have evolved to grow thicker hair or fat reserves, and which have taken to hibernating during the more harsh winters. The equatorial deserts and polar caps have both greatly expanded, and what were once green forests in the tropics are increasingly going to shrub or grassland. Worse, when the Near Miss reversed the movement towards a consolidated global power structure, the viscious series of conventional and nuclear conflicts that followed caused widespread ecological destruction and deposited enormous amounts of chemical pollutants into the air and soil. Though much of the pollution has, like all things on Karst, found its way deep into the caverns' protective embrace, the destruction has seen little ramediation as a result of ongoing geopolitical squabbling and, most of all, slow, isolated deaths among Karstineans of deprivation, exposure, or simply despair.

Natural Resources

Karst was once occupied by several large nations of Karstineans, each of which had, independently or through trade, developed to the point that they had extensive industrial automation, world-spanning computer networks, and even several near-space outposts. Overall, the level of technology on Karst before the Near Miss was roughly equivalent to that of Earth in the Information Age, albeit with certain advancements that approached the level of the Unified Peoples of Hesparta.   After the collapse of the global geopolitical order and the subsequent rapid decline in the Karstinean population, many of the cities, space outposts, and other great works of that failing civilization were abandoned in the interest of life closer to the necessities of subsistence, such as agrarian centers. As a result, all the metal and hydrocarbon wealth of the Karstinean people became ripe for harvest by other factions, including other Karstineans and, in more recent times, the famously cold-blooded Iron Talon Mining Concern that once menaced the Evermornan peoples. The loss of the Karstineans was the gain of chitiquish and emoxi scavengers until the White-Star Union successfully ejected most of these ghouls from the system in the mid-1970s.


Karst was likely seeded with human and animal life - albeit strains modified by the Arcopel gene drive - around the same time as Lepidos and Evermorn were. Over the course of millenia, civilizations rose, fought one another, fell, rose again, fought its first global war, and eventually began to unify until the Near Miss caused the burgeoning global system to collapse.   Since the Near Miss, the now-fractured nations of Karst have withered away into shadows of their former selves, though groups like the Initiative to Restore Karst have, from time to time, attempted to carry out projects of environmental damage mitigation and internicene peace-making. The excision of the major salvage crews from the Alpha Xymeria system, the arrival and charitable assistance of the White-Star Union, and recent attention by Cobalt Protectorate scouts have all begun to raise the prospect of recovery for the Karstinean peoples once more, though many are too jaded at this point to dare hope for the brighter future they have been promised.

Cover image: by Beat Schuler (edited by BCGR_Wurth)


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