Population: 5 billion (estimated).
Tithe Grade: Exactus Median.
Geography: Four main continents and extensive island chains. Only the largest continent is populated (mountainous/rocky, dense southern forests. Largely arid climate with frequent dust storms). Very few sources of fresh water.
Government Type: None/Tribal.
Planetary Governor: Vervai (“King”) Skull.
Military: Massive armies in service of warlords. Large mercenary presence.
Iocanthos is a lawless world dominated by warlords and their huge armies, which clash across its jungles, forests and plains. The planet’s importance in the Calixis Sector is defined by the fact that it is one of the few places in the Imperium where the Ghostfire flower can grow. Ghostfire pollen can be refined into the combat drugs used extensively in the penal legions of the Imperial Guard. Although technically classified as an agri-world, this is only due to the Ghostfire crop, as its people and governance would have it be deemed it a feral world otherwise. Iocanthos’s warlords (usually styling themselves “vai” or tribal prince) battle constantly for control of the Ghostfire harvest. The Ghostfire crop cannot be cultivated normally and so once a patch of it is harvested another one must be found.
The warlords’ armies are therefore constantly on the move, travelling in enormous hordes across Iocanthos’s main continent and clashing violently wherever they meet. Iocanthos’s wide plains, dense, dark forests and forbidding mountain passes are studded with old battlefields where burned-out vehicles and age-bleached skeletons abound. Every five years, a taskforce of Administratum officials descends onto Iocanthos to gather the planet’s Ghostfire tithe. The warlords exchange their harvests of Ghostfire pollen with the Administratum in exchange for weapons, vehicles, fuel, clean water and other essentials.
The warlord who hands over the most Ghostfire pollen is considered the planetary governor and claims the lion’s share of support from the Imperium and the title Vervai (literally “prince of princes” or “king”). The title brings with it immense prestige and confirms the warlord’s position as the most dangerous and skilled on Iocanthos. The current planetary governor is “King” Skull, a terrifying warrior at the head of an enormous and supposedly invincible army of madmen and killers. The warlords of Iocanthos are also required to hand over their psykers as well as the Ghostfire harvest, but these are taken from them not by the Administratum but by nameless grey-uniformed men who herd the psykers onto their sleek black ship and take their leave.
The Administratum fully accepts the situation on Iocanthos. The Ghostfire pollen is harvested very efficiently because so many warlords’ armies battle to find every last blossom. Were the Administratum to take over Iocanthos themselves, the planet would first have to be conquered by the Imperial Guard at enormous expense and the Administratum themselves would be hard-pressed to match the vigor with which Iocanthos’s warlords hunt down every Ghostfire flower. They therefore leave the warlords to do the hard work, safe in the knowledge that none of them can rebel against Imperial authority lest their supplies of guns and fuel be cut off.
On Iocanthos, their currency is referred to as soules, as many believe that their money is forever stained by the blood of mercenaries, giving rise to the idea of trading in the souls of fallen warriors. Occasionally, regiments of Imperial Guard are drawn from the native tribes, known as the Ashleen, technologically adept savages whose barbarity and fury often equals or exceeds the most culturally regressed and animalistic “true” feral worlder. Sometimes for sport, bull thornox battle to the death in barter-kraals as the natives watch and place their bets.
Iocanthos was taken by General (Saint) Drusus’s 2nd Army Group during the first great crusades through the sector. As the planet lacked any significant technology, Drusus’s forces defeated the indigenous people, known as the Ashleen, in a single week of bloody fighting. Drusus later remarked in his memoirs that the only memorable aspect of the planet was the vast fields of wild flowers which resembled “Shimmering fields of rippling explosions, caught at that fleeting moment between beauty and destruction.” As ever, the general was perceptive as the Ghostfire would become central to the world’s future.
Possessing little by way of resources other than its warlike people, over the years Iocanthos was used intermittently as a dumping ground for convicts and undesirables and a mustering ground for regiments until, centuries later, the Ghostfire flower was discovered to possess potent psychoactive properties, particularly when rendered down and concentrated in the form of a bloodlust-inducing combat drug.
Long ago, during the campaign to bring war-ravaged Iocanthos into the Imperial fold, the blessed Saint Drusus vanquished the cult of a Daemon known as Tsyiak also known as the Crow Father and the Dancer at the Threshold, and destroyed the Daemon’s earthly vessel in the shape of the cult’s leader. Knowledge of this event was completely repressed and even among the natives it has faded into half-remembered myth. The Daemon, however, has not forgotten, and since then it has clawed and scratched at the barriers of reality seeking to revenge itself and to walk Iocanthos once more to work its evils.
Arbites on IocanthosEdit
“We determine the guilty. We decide the punishment.”
—Emblazoned in black stone in front of the Iocanthos Precinct
The war-battered world of Iocanthos hosts a single Precinct based in the little Adeptus capitol of Port Suffering, and that Precinct is one of the smallest in the sector---a dozen Arbitrators to police a world whose population is made up of roving armies millions or billions strong. It is a daunting task, one to make even the most steadfast Arbitor feel overwhelmed. A stint at Iocanthos tends to quickly show which newcomers are able to rise to the work and keep their faith focused on their duty. Policing the place in any conventional manner is laughably out of the question, and so Iocanthos also quickly reveals Arbites who are able to adapt to a role that their academies did not prepare them for.
As the largest city and only Adeptus base on a world of great importance to the sector, on paper Port Suffering looks like a first-rate assignment. In practice, Arbites from the surrounding Precincts will put Iocanthos firmly on the list of “dead taper” stations, a popular Adeptus slang referring to coming off worst in a drawing of lots. The Port itself is a drab, stagnant little prefabricated town, its garrison just a single squad operating out of a “Precinct Fortress” barely bigger than a barrack-house, with nothing to do, so the stories go, but endlessly clean the powdery street-dust off their boots and look forward to whatever excitement they can wring out of standing guard when the loaders arrive to collect the Ghostfire crops.
It’s true, Port Suffering is every bit the depressing little place that the reports suggest, and its garrison every bit as tiny: a dozen Arbitrators, a single Rhino APC, and a handful of bonded menials to act as auxiliaries. The stuffy prefabricated five-floor Courthouse is designed, as are all official Imperial buildings, to inspire an intimidated deference in those outside it; for the Arbitrators inside, it inspires the stout hope that they will never have to try and defend the place against even a moderately determined aggressor. Going by the book, the work of the garrison is indeed to monitor the Adeptus counting house and observe the Ghostfire shipments being loaded, and not much more. But the work of the Precinct is anything but dull.
One of the roles of the Arbites is to monitor the planetary government and keep Imperial Governors mindful of their responsibilities. Since the governorship of Iocanthos attaches to whichever roving warlord has the largest load of Ghostfire to deliver, maintaining the careful policing of more traditional planets is clearly impossible. The tiny garrison hasn’t the capacity to divide itself between Port Suffering and one or more wandering warlords’ courts. Even when it is attempted, as it has been a few times in the Precinct’s history, the Arbitrators find themselves either pushed aside from the court and unable to get near the warlord (for what kind of barbarian general would make a place at their court for an outsider whose explicit role is to judge his actions and punish, even kill them, for reasons they are not obliged to reveal?) or, worse, get too caught up in the war-horde’s affairs, becoming effectively another courtier of the general and unable to act impartially.
Instead, the Arbitrators have taken on a broader, more subtle role, more like that of their Espionist colleagues. Arbitrators will leave Port Suffering for weeks or months at a time, shadowing the warlords’ armies, mapping out their Ghostfire harvesting, and watching and recording the battles they fight. Each Arbitrator maps out a basic set of routes back and forth across the continent and will follow them unless they find something that diverts them away. While travelling they will check in with village enclaves, hermits, and warband patrols, exchanging rumors and listening to the tales of traders and camp followers from the warlords’ entourages. During these long circuits their role changes from that of a classical Arbitrator to a combination of scout, spy, ranger, and peacekeeper.
They do none of these jobs in secret. On the contrary, the Iocanthos Arbitrators have become locally known as, “Flags” or “Suffering Marshals” riding their circuits with a brightly colored banner atop a tall flagstaff which can be planted in the ground, thus making themselves easy to find. The Suffering Marshals are adapted to tracking a quarry into new settlements, making contacts quickly by playing the local underworld against itself. While some roam Iocanthos in search of their quarry, others are directed to establish known places of call where people know to look for them. They have come to command respect from those they encounter on the road, sometimes through their fighting skill and stubbornness, sometimes through their willingness to pass petitions and trade proposals back to Port Suffering, and sometimes through their growing reputations as fair and impartial judges. In particular, minor warbands or non-aligned communities will often seek out a passing flagman or woman to broker a ceasefire or alliance, or mediate a feud. Arbitrators have been attacked in their travels, sometimes killed, especially when they have needed to pursue and sanction a dangerous threat like a fleeing Imperial criminal, a rogue warband, or a wild psyker. However, their status among the planet’s natives has brought greater safety with it, as they are known to be under the protection of the Emperor and any who raise a hand to them face expulsion from the trade meets at Port Suffering and a bounty of fresh water and supplies placed on their heads.
Generally three or four members of the garrison are out on their circuits at one time. They are allowed considerable latitude in planning their travels and in what leads they pursue while on the road, although they are answerable for all of it down to the last detail. The Flags are very well-equipped, with a small but fully stocked Arbites armory to draw upon, as well as the resources of Port Suffering to requisition. Their travelling gear tends to be individual also, shaped by personal preference, the continent they must pass through, and what they expect to be doing en route.
One might observe a ranger in Arbitrator uniform returning from the southwestern badlands driving a rumbling, high-riding cargo-eight, the hull hung all around with rattling panniers of supplies and trade goods. She tows a water tanker behind her and her truck’s cab is full of audio-slates on which she has been recording her contacts’ observations about Ghostfire growth over the past season and which warbands know about what blooms. Meanwhile, another Flag is setting out through Port Suffering’s opposite gate, heading for the broken and mountainous country of the Barrelshear Fault, trudging out on foot, one hand loosely gripping the leashes of the two giant, rangy pack-dogs that pad behind him carrying his supplies. He is protected by tight-wound dust wrappings, the Arbitrator helmet covered by a cloth veil, and his shrouded shotgun hangs at his back. Behind him walks a bonded clerk, likewise wrapped up and shaded, leading a pack-dog of his own. His stub rifle is slung at his shoulder and the data-slate he will use to record all the ranger’s conversations with his contacts is at the other hip.
The chief of the little Port Suffering garrison (and technically, therefore, the Commander of Court for the system, although he never uses that title without loading it with irony) is Proctor-Laureate Lestano Dietz. Dietz was one of the most promising recruits from his Schola Progenium intake and excelled in his training at the Fortress of the Just, but on his training postings became keenly interested in the study of Imperial legal philosophy and tradition. Before long he ran into the brick wall of Calixian prejudice on such matters, and found that instead of the plum assignment to the Praetoral chambers at Solomon he had been shunted off to lead a squad of bored Arbitrators on Iocanthos on an indefinite posting.
Although he remains bitter about the politics behind his assignment here, Dietz has refused to allow it to slow him down. He has actively encouraged the ranger work that his Arbitrators take on, formalizing it as an official part of the garrison’s operating doctrine. He has also begun lobbying the High Precinct Command for explicit support for the Flags, including training in Detective techniques and the allocation of an actual Espionist to deepen the available skill set. He has also requested, albeit without much optimism, the addition of a Mortiurge to the garrison, well aware that tough though the Flags are, his garrison is still at a disadvantage if they have to deal with an openly defiant warlord. Dietz’s squad, who initially resented the soft-handed scholar dumped on them by Command, have warmed to him as they have seen his belief in them and the work he has put in on their behalf, and currently morale among the Iocanthos Flags is high.
Ironically, given the post’s reputation among other Arbites, finishing a stint on Iocanthos can be as problematic as starting one. Flag work is solitary and freewheeling, demanding versatility, lateral thinking, and resourcefulness, and those who excel at it find they chafe at a return to the regimented life of an Arbitrator at a large garrison. Many former Iocanthos rangers are now working as Detectives and Mortiurges, and the Divisio Immoralis counts several among its agents.
- Red Redemption - The cult has recently gained followers on Iocanthos
- The Menagerie - On occasion, the Pandaemonium Carnival has appeared on Iocanthos
Class: Basic (Primitive)
A common primitive form of the black powder weapon is the blunderbuss. Essentially a large metal tube equipped with a primitive firing mechanism, these weapons are favored for their ease of use and the havoc that they cause more than the damage they deal. Blunderbusses are also worthy of note for their seemingly indestructible ability to fire anything placed into the barrel, and it is unsurprising to know that they are also called “scrappers” or “pelters” on some worlds, referring largely to their foraged ammunition.
A particular example, the Iocanthos blunderbuss has a notoriously short range but a very wide spray from its conelike bore. Anything unlucky enough to be standing in front of one when its fired is likely to badly lacerated with metal scrap, lead shot and burning embers.
Basic, 10m, S/–/–, 1d10+1, I, PEN 0, Clip 1, RLD 5 Full, Inaccurate, Primitive, Scatter, Unreliable, WT 4kg, Cost 35, Rare
Class: Melee (Primitive)
The bastard sword, or hand-and-a-half, finds the most use among the Harrowguard, an elite core of Iocanthos warriors in the employ of Warlord Vervai Skull. So called because the blade falls between the more traditional longsword and the far larger two-handed sword, having a long blade and heavy weight prevents all but the best trained warriors from wielding it one-handed. To accommodate all users, these weapons feature a longer grip to provide flexibility, giving the wielder the option to use it one or two-handed.
Melee, 1d10+1(+SB), R, PEN 1, Primitive, WT 5kg, Cost 50, Average
An unusual and powerful drug to say the least, somna is a synthesized extract taken from the pollen of the Nephyis Orchid of Iocanthos. In its refined form, it is capable of producing a powerful coma-like effect in the subject, shutting down the metabolism and life processes, almost to the verge of death, and plunging the mind into a bottomless oblivion beyond the deepest sleep. The subject of somna appears to all but the most probing medical examination to be dead and can survive in this state for days or weeks without food or water and with almost no air. Aside from its medical uses, somna has been put to numerous nefarious purposes in the past from kidnapping, feigning death to evade capture and even as a particularly cruel murder weapon (with the victim waking up to find themselves buried alive.) In recent years, the more vicious narco-gangs of the Sibillan underhive have also used heavily adulterated somna to create “spiral black”, a highly potent and extremely dangerous variant of obscura.
Safely using somna, (the exact dosage must be calculated for each subject), requires a successful Difficult (–10) Medicae Test. A failed Test leads to unpredictable results, such that a failure by four degrees or more results in death. A successful Test places the subject into a deathlike trance for a period of time between one to ten days. The subject can be roused before this predetermined time by applying a stimm directly to the heart, but this is risky, and the subject must succeed on a Toughness Test or die from cardiac arrest.
Cost 500, Scarce
The Spear of Countless Eyes
The Spear of Countless Eyes is a tall spear of hammered bronze whose dark wooden haft is carved with lidded eyes that open and close to reveal rolling yellow irises and black slit pupils. It was created by the warp corrupted hunter tribes who dwelt on Iocanthos long before the Imperium claimed it. The Spear of Countless Eyes is said to make a hunter able to see with unnatural clarity and be able to feel all that passes around him as if it were the touch of wind on his skin. Though the old dark ways have long been burnt from Iocanthos, such relics as the Spear of Countless Eyes endure to as a memory of a dark past that may return once again.
The Spear of Countless Eyes contains a Warp Predator (WP 26) with the Hungering and Instinct of the Beast (see below) attributes.
Instinct of the Beast: The wielder of The Spear of Countless Eyes gains the Heightened Senses (Sight) talent, in addition to the Dark Sight and Unnatural Senses (15m) Traits.
Melee, Thrown, 10m, 1d10+2, R, PEN 2, The Beast Within, Lethality Uncanny Resilience, Hungering, Instinct of the Beast, WT 2kg
This poison’s effects last for days rather than hours and victim will appear dead unless examined medically. Ground from the seed pods of a strange blood-red orchid reputedly to have first been hybridised from the Ghostfire flowers of Iocanthos, its ability to “fake” death has been used to cheat justice and as a particularly sinister tool of murder; with victims coming round to find themselves buried alive.
Cost 450ea, Rare
"The local carrion eater, vile things more feathered reptile than bird if you get close to them, sharp-beaked too. Local myth has all sorts of unpleasant legends surrounding them. Hardly surprising really. They’re not just scavengers either---they’ll attack wounded and weak creatures, including men. No eyes in the damn things, no eyes at all."
— Aristarchus the Seer
Usually ridden by the natives as mounts, each beast is a lean, long-tailed biped three times the size of a man, and growls and barks as it lopes along.
This predatory beast is covered in suppurating old wounds, half-rotten and with its eyes already gone---seemingly pecked out by crows.