The struggling masses of humanity, one among uncounted billions living out their lives in vast towering cities; hardened by living among such dense populations, they are savvy talkers and adept criminals.
“Meet is set. Twelve levels down, just above the tox drains along the Killian wall and near the border with the Ironmongers. Bring extra stubber shells.”
–Etregan “Ganner” Haiyn, Desoleum ganger
Hive worlders exist in cities that reach kilometres into the sky from the wasted surface of toxic, hostile environments, ruined through many centuries of industry. Sealed off from the planet outside, they live stacked on hundreds of levels, each one packed with millions of souls working, eating, and dying without ever venturing beyond the steel caverns of their birth. To be a hive worlder is to have grown up among overpopulation and artifice, where the sun is only a myth. Unfortunates know only a desperate existence, barely surviving in the dank depths far below the surface, in underworlds where the very air cannot be counted on from one day to the next. For a hive worlder, his life is but one cog in a gigantic citymachine, living and dying in the same few
cubic kilometres in which he was born.
Life on a hive world
Hive cities are ancient constructions, each century slowly growing wider across the barren ground and higher into the polluted air. A hiver lives out his life never seeing the sky and often never even leaving the city level on which he was born. Most hive worlds have scores of hives, each existing in isolation and rising up from the toxic fog and cursed lands like monuments to its eventual demise. Hivers are often born into a house or family with their vocations decided. Thus they work endlessly at their task in the factorums and industrial habs of their hive, producing goods to be shipped offworld or maintaining the many systems of the hive essential for its survival.
Nearly everything is recycled and reused. The air a hive worlder breathes, the water he drinks, and the food he eats has all passed through the bodies of countless others, endlessly restored
to be consumed once again. When a hiver dies, his duty to the hive and house is not done, and most hives reconstitute their dead.
All of his possessions, from the hab room where he lives to the clothes on his back, likewise come from those before him. There is a definite class division in most hives, however. Resources become scarcer as one descends from the spires at the hive top, where the rulers enjoy all the wealth the Imperium has to offer, down through the guilds and houses where some live in relative comfort, to the lower levels where workers and dregs exist in crushing poverty. The farther downhive one goes, the more decayed and dangerous it becomes, the detritus of billions drifting down to rest among the darkness. The rule of law breaks down in the depths of these wild and deadly domains. Some come here to escape their lives above, but most find only death and despair among the mutants and violent gangs.
Hive world characters
Hive worlds are a perfect expression of life in the Imperium in many ways, and the result of what it has done to survive within a hostile and decaying galaxy. Hive worlders reflect this too, and
are resourceful and hardy in a way that only those born into an overcrowded society with finite resources can be. Within a hive, only the strong survive and only those who are both strong and
cunning truly prosper. Even those who choose not to break the law are often forced to bend it to get their way; the oppressive nature of life within a hive is often devoid of any opportunities
that a man does not make for himself. Positions within the system of control are one route a hive worlder can take, becoming part of the Administratum or Ministorum in an effort to live above the law, or at least have some control over it. Equally, he might rise to the governance of his family house, trade cartel, or other group, though such a position is usually only coloured by
another kind of obligation and duty. The alternative is to reject the trappings of society and embrace the criminal element or be branded an outcast.
Both can bring great wealth and personal freedom, but a man does this at his peril, for the hammer of hive justice is swift and heavy.
All of the great Imperial organisations have their place with the maintenance of a hive world. The Administratum governs its resources and sees it meets its tithes, the Ministorum cares for the souls of its citizens, and the Mechanicum oversees the ancient machines that clean its air, recycle its food, and keep it running.
Hive worlds also contribute large numbers to both the Imperial Guard and the Imperial Navy, and a hiver can often be found in these organisations.
Where a hive worlder really comes into his own, and a path all too many of those who finally escape the hive take, is that of the Outcast. Whether he is a true recidivist or simply an antiauthoritarian, a hiver who rejects the world he has been given and tries to twist it to his own advantage starts down a path he can never turn back from. These Outcasts might be petty crooks or rise to become the heads of powerful organisations, controlling vices and illegal enterprises throughout their hive. However, to really escape the shackles of hive life, he must travel away from structured society. This might be into the depths of an underhive, into the
wastelands surrounding the city, or even offworld. Here he can live free, provided he is quick with a gun and willing to do whatever it takes to survive.
Sample hive World: Hulee V
Hulee V hosts many hive cities with the largest, Hive Krakex, appearing more like a huge mountain than a building. Generations continually build new outer layers that roll off the hive’s outer surface like lava dripping down a massive volcano. Each new layer widens its circumference across the surrounding wastelands and consumes kilometres of land from the ragged millions teeming outside the hive shell. Billions more exist inside, transforming bulk-imported raw ores into the plate armour that protects many of the tanks and fortresses across Askellon. Most never see sky or sun, and cannot imagine a life without enclosed roofing, processed air, and immense crowds omnipresent on all sides.
Hive world rules
A character from a hive world applies the following benefits during character creation:
- Agility, + Perception, – Willpower
- fate threshold 2 (Emperor’s Blessing 6+)
- Home world bonus
Teeming Masses in Metal Mountains: A hive world character ignores crowds for purposes of movement, treating them as open terrain. When in enclosed spaces, he also gains a +20 bonus to Navigate (Surface) tests.
- Home world aptitude
- A hive world character starts with 8+1d5 wounds.
- Recommended backgrounds
Adeptus Arbites, Adeptus Mechanicus, Imperial Guard, Outcast