Rock Bottom Game Start Walkthrough
Rock Bottom Walkthrough (Part 1) Just Starting Out
Rock Bottom Walkthrough (Part 2) Sho-Battai Money Making
Rock Bottom Walkthrough (Part 3) Western Hive EZ Money & Traveling to Heft for Gear
Rock Bottom Walkthrough (Part 4) Raising Toughness
Rock Bottom starts you out as a malnourished character missing an arm in the desert near Sho-Battai. At the start of the game the very first thing you should do is run to Sho-Battai. There is a chance the guards here will attack you since you're malnourished -- if they do then start over/reload. After arriving at town the first thing you should do is loot any corpses outside and sell the items to buy food. The faster we can remedy our Malnourished stat the better since guards won't bother us as much without it.
You can easily earn money in the area by mining the Copper Deposits to the north of town or by looting any Skimmers (or other enemies) that get knocked unconscious or killed outside of town. For more information about the location of the Copper Deposit and ways to maximize your Cats per hour I recommend you check out my Mining for Money Kenshi Walkthroughs. I'd also strongly recommend against looting any United Cities guards or NPCs associated with the faction. You don't want to piss them off just yet since we need them to like us for safety in their towns.
The first 2 goals to work towards are going to be recruit 5 - 10 characters to your team as well as purchase a building in Sho-Battai. A list of the unique recruits that you can find in Sho-Battai is below, I would recommend you grab them for your team over the other available recruits. If you want to purchase one of the really small buildings for 4,000 Cats you can but I prefer to purchase one of the Longhouses for 19,200 Cats. The Longhouse will give you more room which is important for later. To purchase a building in town left click them then look at the info graph in the bottom left. Click the price tag to buy it.
Another very important purchase on our list is a backpack. You'll want to equip it on at least one of your characters and place all of your food inside. When you put food inside of a backpack all characters in that Squad will be able to reach inside and feed themselves when they get hungry enough. This will save you the tedium of having to place food in everyone's inventory.
If you find the corpses of any Starving Vagrants or Outlaw Farmers I would recommend using their gear. Try to equip [Standard] quality gear or better if you can and sell everything you find that's worse. You do not want to use Manhunter, Slave Traders, United Cities, United Heroes, Tech Hunter or Mercenary Guild gear as all of these factions roam around this area and will attack you if they see you wearing their stuff. It's best to sell the gear from these factions in my experience.
Once you have purchased your first building you'll want to by as many Books as you can from the Travel Gear, Mechanical Shop and General Shop in Sho-Battai. Craft a Small Research Bench and place all of the Books you purchased inside of it then research Storage Boxes: Ore, Small House, Tech Level 2 and whatever else you want. If you want to learn more about researching overall along with what is good and why I recommend you check out my Kenshi Researching Guide.
Creating a Storage: Copper inside of your house will allow you to completely automate the Mining process. Now whenever the mines get full your characters will run them into town and offload them inside of your storage. Whenever your storage gets full you can withdraw everything inside and sell it to a vendor. The only downside to all of this is it's not always safe running the ore back to town -- but neither is mining in this area so.
Sooner or later you are also probably going to have a run in with Slave Traders or Manhunters, both of these factions will enslave your characters. When you spend time in United Cities territory getting enslaved is quite common since it's so prevalent in the culture of this area. If you do get enslaved I recommend you check out my Kenshi - What To Do As A Slave Video or my The Slaves Kenshi Walkthrough. Both of these guides have me talking in detail about what to do as a slave and it's too much to repeat here.
During your time spent in Sho-Battai I would also recommend researching Electrical Crafting which will allow you to turn Copper Ore into Electrical Components. This is a tradeskill you'll be using in every base you create in the future since Electrical Components are used in a lot of different crafting recipes. However, as for right now all we're going to be using this tradeskill for is money making. Check out my Making Money with Electrical Crafting guide for a more indepth look at this. The TL;DR version is turning Copper Ore into Electrical Components increases the value.
It's up to you how long you'd like to spend in Sho-Battai before leaving to travel to Heft or Heng. Typically I do not recommend building Training Dummies on my play throughs but when you start in Sho-Battai it isn't such a terrible idea. If you're using mods that allow you to build better Training Dummies then it's probably always a good idea to make them...
Training Dummies will allow you to raise your Melee Attack along with your Lockpicking skills up to acceptable levels which will help a lot in the journey to come. Lockpicking will help you break out of slavery if you ever get enslaved and Melee Attack will help you protect yourself when you're attacked.
Keep in mind that you also do not need to leave Sho-Battai on your entire party. You can leave a few characters to mine and/or craft Electrical Components in town while you take the rest of your team to Heng or Heft. However, you should also keep in mind this will put your exploration team into more danger as you won't have the numbers to protect yourself. All we need from Heft and Heng is more companions, gear, weapons and a Robotic Limb for our main character. You can carry most of this with one or two characters wearing a large backpack.
If you want to do all of this in a single trip I would recommend you bring about 200,000 Cats with you and 4 characters to carry everything you buy. Those of you who aren't sure what types of weapons and armor are worth buying, I recommend you check out my Kenshi Walkthrough (Part 1) as well as my Best Equipment and Best Weapons pages.
After you've recruited about 10 characters to your team and outfitted them with some half way decent weapons and armor it's time to head out into the world and start getting into fights to raise our Toughness and combat stats. What I would recommend is start with attacking Outlaw Farmers, Garru, Sand Ninjas and Starving Vagrants around Sho-Battai until you've got at least 10 - 15 Toughness on all of your characters. If you haven't already you should build a few beds inside your house in Sho-Battai for you to rest in when your characters get knocked unconscious too.
For those of you who would like to push your limits a bit more or are unfamiliar with Kenshi -- you can always hire Mercenaries or Tech Hunters to protect you from the Bar in Sho-Battai. They will follow around whatever character hired them for either 1 day or 2 days depending on how long you hired them for. Hiring some protection will make adventuring a lot easier for those of you who aren't used to the brutal world of Kenshi.
When out and about in the world I would recommend you keep an eye out for Outlaw/Rebel Farmer camps as they're the best locations to do the cheesey raising Toughness strategy in this area. Check out my How to EASILY Raise Toughness Youtube Video for more information about this, you can get 50+ Toughness in a matter of minutes -- but it is quite a cheese method.
Once you get your Toughness to 25+ on most of your team it'll be time to start looking for a location to settle down and make a base. When you reach this point I would recommend you continue to my Kenshi Walkthrough (Part 1) as that goes into significantly more detail about building a base and what you need to research to do so.