Rogue Trader - Orthesian Legacy
The Light of Terra
The void is a perilous place, and even more so the warp, where a ship can be lost in the blink of an eye, its crew sent screaming into the deep black. All who sail across the stars have heard the terrible tales of vessels swallowed whole by the dark, such as the Light of Terra, greatest of Drusus’ battleships and spearhead of the Angevin Crusade. A behemoth of the Imperial war machine, the Light blazed across the stars and forged a path into the space one day known as the Calixis Sector. Lost millenia ago with all hands, it is said that the space hulk still drifts the Expanse, a cursed place tainted by xenos hands and the tortured memory of its long dead crew
Lost in the Void
The Light of Terra was old even before the Angevin Crusade — dispatched as part of an armada of Imperial warships to reclaim the vast stretches of space along the western rim and bring the light of the Emperor back to these darkest of places. Some even speculate that it was constructed, its hull at least, during the time of mankind’s first great expansion across the stars. If this is true, of course, the vessel is truly ancient. What is known for sure is that it was as mighty a battleship as the Imperial Navy had ever seen, equal to such vessels as the Grand Redemption, Emperor’s Word, or Divine Right.
Throughout the records of the crusade tales of its exploits can be found, always in the vanguard of the fleet, always raining death down upon the enemies of the Emperor. During these long bloody years countless worlds and enemy vessels fell to the thundering cannons and sky-rending lances as it brought the Emperor’s will to the untamed void. Equally well documented are the tales of its Lord-Captain, Draken Roth, a pitiless commander and master tactician favoured of Drusus — or so the stories go. Lord Roth was also a permanent fixture of the Light, his body fused with his lord-captain’s throne, his organs and flesh almost completely replaced by ingenious Mechanicus devices. It was whispered among the crew that Roth would only die when the ship itself was destroyed.
It was the cruellest of fates that befell the Light, as it traveled the Koronus Expanse. While travelling through the warp, a terrible storm rose up and consumed the Light, casting it adrift on powerful empyreal tides and doing what alien armies and renegade fleets had failed to do for thousands of years. Cut off from the fleet and lost in the warp, Captain Roth tried to maintain discipline and sustain hope in his crew — but catastrophe after catastrophe befell them. First, they suffered a madness among the ship’s psykers, forcing him to stage mass executions lest they turn on the crew. Then, a rent in the Gellar Field allowed an aberrant spectre to infiltrate the vessel and possess a deck master, leading to months of bloody serial killings. Finally, the ship’s Navigators, unable to find a path out of the storm, died one by one—driven to suicide by the constant crushing weight of the warp.
Trapped in the storm, unable to escape, the Light drifted far from the edges of the Imperium. Months rolled into years and years into decades and finally centuries. The crew turned in upon themselves, and devolved into warring tribes, fighting for the few resources available. Successive generations were born and died in the darkness of the ship’s holds and more and more information was lost, until they did not even realize they were on a ship, just a world of steel caverns and tunnels, divided by ancient tribal boundaries. By the time the ship was finally released back into the void to drift within the Heathen Stars, only Lord-Captain Roth remembered the ship’s true history; an insane oracle fused into the bridge screaming futilely as the primitive descendants of his crew lay offerings at his feet.
The World Ship
Twisted by battle and weathered by centuries adrift, the Light is only barely recognizable as an Imperial battleship. Up close, pitted aquilas and cracked Imperial iconography can be faintly seen amidst warped hull plating and countless scores of impact craters. If the exterior of the Light is a scarred and warped nightmare, then the interior is even worse. The once cluttered and tight confines of an Imperial warship are a
twisted and broken maze of tunnels and caves, lit by flickering galley-lamps or human-fat candles. There are six distinct types of areas within the Light that Explorers can investigate.
The Cold Edges
The spaces next to the ship’s broken hull are dangerous indeed, as the vessel’s primitive inhabitants well know. Tunnels and chambers can suddenly lose air or heat, opening an ancient void-seal may well plunge the hapless explorer straight into space, and some areas are bathed in deadly radiation or filled with scoring plasma. To the tribes of the Terra these areas mark the edge of their world and the end of the known universe.
The Steel Caves
This area comprised the bulk of the ship and makes up most of the tribes’ known world. A relatively safe area, the Steel Caves stretch most f the length of the Light and reach up and down for dozens of decks in both directions. Divided by ancient boundaries, the Caves were once staterooms and barracks, ammo stores and supply wells, or deck gantries and processionals—now all merged into an endless series of primitive camps and detritus-littered wastelands.
The Deep Wells
Over the years some parts of the ship have become flooded as ancient cisterns and vast aqueducts have cracked and broken. These are known to the tribes as the Deep Wells. It is well known that some of the best salvage can be found somewhere within the Wells, for those brave or bold enough to plunge into their depths. Elders also speak of the dark and hungry terrors which live within the Well’s black water, all teeth and eyes and bloody murder.
The Shadow Hold
Some sections of the ship remain sealed, either by ancient purity-locks or a simple lack of power that keeps hundred-tonne blast doors firmly closed. Clever and resourceful tribesmen can sometimes find their way into these cold and lightless places to hunt for salvage, bringing back not only wondrous items but also tales of pale, blind sub-humans, forests of luminous fungi and deadly half-metal warriors with weapons of fire and light.
Seat of the Oracle
The ship’s bridge is a sacred place for the tribes, and considered neutral ground, as it is the home of the Oracle—the twisted being once known as Captain Roth. Elders often make the pilgrimage to this place to listen to the Oracle’s ranting, trying to discern some truth from his words. For the most part, however, his words make no sense to them, especially when he raves about the Void-Beyond.
The Blazing God
Far below the Seat of the Oracle at the very edge of the known world lives the Blazing God, in what was once the Light’s engine room. In a vast chamber filled with heat and light the Blazing God stands higher than a hundred tribesmen and almost as wide as the world itself. All know that it is the Blazing God that heats and lights the world. It is said that those that brave the journey to the Blazing God and listen to his hums and murmurs are touched by his glorious heat—those especially faithful and blessed lose their hair and return covered in sacred blisters and burns.
The Tribes of Terra
Each region of the Light is home to a different tribe, each with different alliances and histories and their own ways of dealing with outsiders.
Kin of Iron
Tales tell of mysterious metal men that once tended to the workings of the steel caves. They had minds of wire and hearts of iron and knew the world like none that have come after. The Iron Kin try to keep what is left of their memory alive, along with what few teachings they left behind, draping their bodies with scrap metal and painting their faces with iron dust. Many of the other tribes come to them for their wisdom
on the workings of the world.
Predominantly the Iron Kin dwell within the steel caves, near the passages to both the Oracle and the Blazing God. Enclaves of Iron Kin are found throughout the territories of the other tribes as most chieftains value their council.
Descended from the ship’s gun crews, the Wargars live mostly in the great ammo stores, making huts from ancient macro cannon shell casings and burning flash-powder to fill their chambers with the smell of war. Aggressive and dangerous, the Wargars live to fight with the other tribes for no other reason than to spill blood and prove their strength.
The Wargars rule the steel caves and control most of its interconnected chambers and passages, including areas nominally inhabited by the other tribes. Beyond the caves, their power wanes; in the Cold Edges and the lower decks they have no direct control, travelling in packs like everyone else.
Living in the cold and broken chambers along the Lgiht’s hull, the Void Walkers have made an existence living on the razor’s edge between the steel caves of the world and the great nothing beyond. A nomadic tribe, the Walkers travel the Cold Edges constantly seeking air and heat as much as water and food. Scarred by vacuum burns and decompression, the Walkers are as hardy a group as can be found on the Light, with
a unique knowledge of the void. Dwelling almost exclusively within the Cold Edges, the Void Walkers survive on their knowledge of this dangerous and unpredictable land.
Every society has its outcasts and its dregs. On the Light, these are known as the Pale Sons, the forgotten tribe existing in the cracks between the territories of the other tribes or deep in the lower decks and the dreaded Shadow Holds. Many of the Pale Sons are mutants, often the reason they were outcast in the first place, and live close to toxic or radioactive regions of the ship where only their unique physiology allows them to survive. Though the true number of the Pale Sons is unknown, many of the other tribes fear that there are thousands of them, and they will one day rise up from the dark depths to destroy all those on board the Light. The primary domain of the Pale Sons is the Shadow Holds, where they can hide from the light and persecution of the other tribes.