“Within the Imperium, crime can be so prevalent that entire worlds are given over to the dumping of humanity’s dregs. Inmates—or just plain unlucky inhabitants—scrape by on worlds that barely support indigenous life, let alone tide of humanity dumped upon it. Not that it matters, as everyone from your world is considered to be a devious, lying criminal and the planet seen as sprawling den of thieves.”
In the Imperium, crime is widespread enough that entire worlds are given over to incarcerating the refuse of society.
On these Penal Worlds live the criminals of the Imperium, the guards that keep them there, and any luckless denizen unfortunate enough to have been born there. Penal worlds are, very often, barely-habitable planets. Here, the criminals labour and toil at various menial tasks while serving out their sentences; and only a few parole out. On some worlds, the worst criminals (those whose crimes aren’t severe enough to warrant death) might be segregated from the rest, but this
practice varies from world to world. Thus, murderers and rapists might mix with petty thieves and con-men. From this melting pot comes a brutal society, where survival comes only when one forgets morality and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make it to the next day.
These worlds are a dichotomy; on one hand they are used to dump undesirables upon, and on the other they make excellent places for a Rogue Trader to round up expendable crew.
LIFE ON A PENAL WORLD
A penal world is a planet used to exile prisoners. Within the Calixis Sector, inmates sentenced to penal worlds are marked with a barcode tattoo that is typically placed on their neck, forehead, or other easily-spotted area of the body. Here, many inmates die of disease, starvation, infection, the environment, anescape attempt, an encounter with the brutal enforcer-guards, or one of a hundred other maladies. Inmates are sentenced far away from their home worlds and most never see that world again. Inmates condemned to a penal world are those found guilty of crimes that don’t warrant execution. Some feel that those who are executed are the lucky ones, for those who are sentenced to penal worlds are sent to hellish places where death is slow in coming. The only denizens that have any real freedoms whatsoever are the warden and his guards.
On many penal worlds the planetary governor is also the prison’s warden, and his authority is absolute. The warden and his guards often brutalise the inmate population, adding to their considerable misery and mortality.
The populace tends to be hardened, ruthless, shifty, and untrustworthy. However, they can also be resourceful and possess a low cunning. They are haunted individuals who are witness to the kind of atrocity most will never see.
Penal World Characters
You have been sentenced for crimes against the Imperium of Man—or maybe your parents were, and you were just unlucky enough to be born here. Every day was a struggle to stay alive and stay one step ahead of the predators and guards that stalked you through the dank pits and filthy shantytowns of your home. You’ve learned to be resourceful and cunning, but you are also considered a criminal—even if you didn’t start out that way. As such, you are thought to be
untrustworthy, and perhaps it is even true. However, trying to survive has also hardened you, and made you ruthless. You have witnessed your planet serve as dumping ground for the numerous Rogue Traders and Chartist captains to leave their wretched filth behind, and as a place for salvation when they return to fill their holds with new crew and take them away from their wretched existence.
Characteristic Modifiers: –5 Willpower; +5 Perception; +5 Toughness; –5 Fellowship
Starting Skills: Penal world characters gain Security (Ag) as an untrained Basic Skill; they also have a choice of either Deceive (Fel) or Intimidate (S) as a trained Skill.
Syndicate: Due to their time spent among criminals the Explorer knows who to look for on worlds that have a thriving criminal underclass. As such, they gain the Peer (Underworld) Talent.
Criminal: Those that spend any amount of time on a penal world gain a skewed outlook when it comes to the morality of the Imperium, and have a less than savory reputation amongst Imperial authorities. Conversely, they suffer a –20 penalty on Interaction Tests when dealing with the following organisations: Adeptus Arbites, Ecclesiarchy, Enforcers, and the Military should his home world become known (at the GM’s discretion). Also, should this status ever become known, the Explorer may find themselves under the scrutiny of local law enforcement and underworld crime bosses.
Nightmares: Being brutalised by the prison world enforcers leaves its mark on the psyche of those who survive their time on a penal world. They tend to suffer from sever nightmares
that never go away, and as a result they gain 1d5 Insanity Points and the Light Sleeper Talent—never again gaining a decent night’s sleep without resorting to drugs or other such aids.
Underground Resources: Characters from penal worlds know many people of ill repute. As such, they can often acquire items much more readily than those working through legitimate channels. When making Acquisition Tests on a world with a criminal underworld, the penal world character can opt to make use of these resources (providing the GM rules they are available) to make the item’s Availability one “level” more common (to a minimum of Abundant). This ability can only be used once every other game session (at the GM’s discretion), and players should remember that the items this character procures are more than likely stolen—they should be prepared
in case the authorities come knocking.
Starting Wounds: Penal world characters double their starting Toughness Bonus and add 1d5+1 to the result to determine their starting number of Wounds.
Starting Fate Points: Roll 1d10 to determine penal world character’s starting Fate Points. On a 1–6, he begins with 2 Fate Points; on a 7–9 he begins with 3 Fate Points; on a 10, he begins with 4 Fate Points.