Kenshi – Where to Find All Settlements
What to take into account when picking a building site for your settlement and where good building sites can be found.
One of the suckiest things that can happen in Kenshi is when you have prepared for setting up a base, scouted a building site, took your squad to the site and started building, and then a week later some jerk shows up to demand taxes or it turns out that area has occasional acid rain. There are no in-game guides or maps that would show which areas belong to which faction or how far bandits will travel for raids. Prospecting won’t reveal weather effects. In the end, you’ll only learn these things by trying out different sites, which takes a lot of time and preparation.
You can, if you really want to, build anywhere where there is enough space and no other towns too close by. But some sites are much easier to maintain a base in than others. This guide is meant to help you decide where to build.
I ran around the map and checked every single zone for potential settlement sites. The results are not perfect by any means. They are mainly based on prospecting and resource availability, complemented by my own previous base-building experiences and consulting the wiki. In most cases, you’ll have to check the maps on the wiki on your own to see if tax collectors or raiders are going to show.
What makes a good site for a settlement
There are several things that can be considered when choosing a building site:
1) Are all essential resources available in the same spot?
- stone is needed for building. You don’t need very much of it, especially after the beginning: one mine is generally enough.
- iron and copper are basic ingredients in both crafting and building. Copper is often the more problematic one since you can’t use mines. Also, note that copper quality and the number of workers allowed per node vary.
- fertility and type of biome will affect what types of crops you can grow and how well they will grow. Green is probably the best, arid is ok as well. Swamp biomes only allow the growing rice weed and hemp. Hydroponics can be used to grow most crops in any biome.
- water is needed for farming and cooking. Both groundwater and rainwater can be used and it doesn’t matter if the rain is acidic.
- the wind is useful for generating power. If wind speeds are low, that’s not a big problem, since you can simply build more generators. If there is no wind at all, you’ll need to make fuel out of crops and use generators. Unlike using wind generators, this option takes up a lot of manpower.2) Are there adverse weather effects?
- some otherwise good spots for buildings have occasional acid rain. In the Burning Forest, the acid rain is heavy; and in Venge, there is no acid rain but a giant laser will shoot from the sky during the daytime. These kinds of hazards are not necessarily a big problem, since you can use gear that protects against them. Some of the best light and heavy armor in the game (crab armor, dustcoats) also happen to provide protection against weather effects as well. However, if you hire mercs or allied factions to send guards to your base, they are going to take damage from the effects.3) What kinds of visitors are going to show up?
- most areas have unprovoked raids from bandits, cannibals, and so on. Some of them will steal your food or try to kidnap your team members. There are some cheesy tactics that allow you to ignore them (eg. build a wall with no gate around your base), but otherwise, you’ll have to deal with them, one way or another. Depending on your style, some raids are not necessarily a bad thing. Dust bandits, for example, are pretty much pushovers that will provide a bit of combat practice once your people have some basic training and gear.
- taxation: Empire and the Trader’s guild will periodically send people to collect taxes. The Shek will want food, Holy Nation wants to pray with you (and will make a fuss if someone other than a human male will talk with them). Dust bandits want something too but I don’t know what, never paid them anything. And a couple of the gangs in the Swamp will also collect something. Generally, you can avoid this by allying with the faction in question.
- trader caravans (at least some of them) will show up anywhere except especially dangerous or distant areas.4) terrain, location, and wildlife
- you need enough space for building. More compact bases make logistics within the base faster, while larger bases will make your people run around more, which builds up their athletics and strength (and even stealth). Some terrain features, like bodies of water and natural barriers, can be useful when setting up base defenses. And if the site is too close to another town, you can’t build at all.
- if you plan to visit towns to sell your crafted items, buy supplies, and so forth, it’s useful to build your base relatively close to other towns. Perhaps even more important is that you can travel safely, especially if your people are carrying heavy burdens around.
- wildlife: animals roaming around the area can be good or bad, though I wouldn’t say they ever determine if a building site is good or not. Some things to think about are: do they drop meat and skins? Are they aggressive? If they are, are they also fast, like beak things, so that traveling becomes dangerous?
Not great and downright bad zones for building
These zones lack one or several types of basic resources:
Arach, Arm of Okran, Ashlands, Berserker Country, Cheaters Run, Deadlands, Floodlands, Greyshelf, Iron Valleys, Obedience, Okran’s Valley, Purple Sands, Rebirth, Royal Valley, Sniper Valley, Sonorous Dark, Stobe’s Gamble, Black Desert, The Crags, The Crater, The Grid, The Pits, The Pits East, Watcher’s Rim, Wend.
Most of these areas lack fertile soil. Some only lack good soil and otherwise have sufficient resources (Okran’s Valley, Royal Valley), whereas a few have no resources at all (Obedience, for one). Some zones are also horribly dangerous (Arach, The Crater, Deadlands) while Wend simply lacks the space to build anything.
You could build a self-sustaining base in some of these zones – for instance, if you want a site that is especially harsh to raiding parties. Deadlands, for example, has iron, copper and stone, but lacks water, fertile soil and wind. The constant acid rain can be used for cooking and watering crops, so hydroponics can be used to grow crops. Everyone would also need gear that protects against acid and since there is no wind, some of the crops would need to be used to make fuel.
In some, not totally dead zones you might be able to find decent spots near the edges of zones so that some resources will be on the other side of the border between zones.
Raptor Island is the only area with everything else but no copper at all.
Zones with all the basic resources but some notable downsides
Zones that have adverse weather effects:
Burning forest: heavy acid rain. Still interesting, since in the Northern part of the zone there is no taxation except for Dust bandits and no unprovoked raids.
Howler Maze, Islands of None, Forbidden Isle, The Unwanted Zone, The Iron Trail: acid rain
Venge: sky lasers. Plenty of hostile skeleton thralls too.
Areas that have some resource limitations:
The Swamp: swamp biome, no wind
South Wetlands: swamp biome, sparse copper
Spine Canyon: low resources overall, arid
The Great Desert: fairly low resources overall, arid
Fishman Island, Sinkuun, The Shrieking Forest: low amounts of copper.
Cannibal Plains, Leviathan Coast, Darkfinger, Northern Coast: cannibal raids. They will pick up KO’d party members and try to carry them off to be eaten. The last two also sometimes have light acid rain. Leviathan Coast is far away from any non-hostile towns.
Gut: beak thing HQ.
Good and really good zones for building
Ok areas with a (mostly) arid biome:
Bast, Bonefields, Border zone, Grey Desert, Heng (as a downside, both Empire and Trader’s Guild will collect taxes), High Bonefields, Okran’s Gulf, Skimsands, Skinner’s Roam, Spider Plains, Stenn Desert, Stobe’s Garden, The Eye, The Hook, The Outlands, Fog Islands
Ok areas with a (mostly) green biome:
Flats Lagoon, Greenbeach, Hidden Forest, Okran’s Pride, Stormgap Coast
Especially good areas for building:
Shem: arid area with good resources, pools of water and no taxation except for Dust bandits. There is even a site a bit North from there where a lot of different building materials can be found and freely collected. Apart from Dust Bandits, Black Dragon Ninjas are the only group that will show up to raid. Both groups are fairly weak and will turn from threats to sources of training after a while.
Shun: arid area with neither taxation, unprovoked raids nor adverse weather effects. Rumor has it that Tech Hunters can become hostile in this area. Considering there is no Tech Hunter pacifier in the game, I’ve never built here, but maybe you don’t care.
Vain: the king of building sites is on the coast of Vain, east from Western Hive. No taxation, no bandit raids. Abundant resources, soil can grow anything, rain is constant and non-acidic. Hiver villages with traders are close by. The gorillos in the area are tough, but easy to run away from. If you can kill them, they drop skins and meat. The Starving Bandits don’t travel here. The Holy Nation Outlaws that wander the area are weak and generally not hostile.
Stobe’s Garden may also belong here, but I don’t know for sure. There is no taxation and all the bandit groups are affected by world states. If you take out or ally with all the leaders, will there still be unprovoked raids? Someone try this out and let me know.