“The only thing keeping Malfi from becoming a charnel house is nobody, not even the heretics, dare turn their backs on each other long enough to do the deed.”
— Lord Inquisitor Marr
This hive world, eight hundred days standard from Scintilla, is the main population and manufacturing focal of the rimward territories of the sector. Malfi is a semitropical, gloomy world of overbuilt hives and habitation ledges. Its population approaches that of Scintilla and it subsists on its engineering and metalwork industries. The population of Malfi has a grudge: they believe that Malfi should be the sector capital world and venomously protest the supremacy of Scintilla. Certainly, with its super-continental hives and eradication of natural landscape, Malfi resembles a Solar hiveworld far more than any of the other worlds in the sector, and its claim for capital eminence seems reasonable. However, politics and demographics are fickle mistresses.
Scintilla is better placed to provide a center of effective governance for the sector. Early regimes, following the Lord Angevin’s campaign, made their headquarters on Malfi but the province has spread out since then. Despite its efforts, Malfi remains a border world, colossal in both its consumption and its production. It satisfies itself in commanding the Malfian Sub-Sector, ruling the territories rimward and spinward of Scintilla. The subsector governor, Jendrous Kaffiq, answers only to Lord Sector Hax himself. Malfi is a seat of the Administratum and several chief banking houses. Its nominal ruler is the Eminence Glydus Matriarch. Its history has not been pretty, even to the nobles: the two-decade long period of petty revolts and near civil anarchy caused by the misrule of House Koba on left near a billion dead and saw the final ruination of what had been one of the most powerful noble families in the sector.
Malfi is---and this may be the very reason that the sector rulers passed over it---a place of the most infernal intrigue. It is impossible to count the courtly factions vying for power and the ear of the Matriarch. The central palace is a labyrinth of chambers and anterooms, a warren that, so proverbs say, many have entered and subsequently died trying to find a way out again. Guides may be procured to steer a visiting party through the warren of Malfi’s central palace: they cannot be trusted. Every act and motion of Malfian life is about dissemblance and intrigue. Hire the wrong guide and you may be damned to years of squabbling diplomacy and sudden duels. It is said of the Malfian palace that “life has a thousand separate doors” and this is no exaggeration. Entering Malfian society, one enters a world of complexity and deceit. Few emerge alive.
The Calixian Conclave, which supports a district office on Malfi, regards the world as a particular hotbed of dissent and heresy. Apart from the many political factions and underground groups (many sponsored or run by Malfian noble houses) that support and promote Malfi’s usurpation of the capital world role (it is worth noting that three times in the last two centuries, Malfian dissenters have almost triggered open civil war with Scintilla), the excessively secretive and disingenuous society of the Malfian hives propagates many sects and cults. These groups find it ridiculously simple to conceal themselves within Malfi’s layered, elaborate culture of falsehood and deceit. They also find the hive citizenry to be a fertile source of amenable, pliable recruits. In recent years, the Conclave has become aware of a particularly active sect, whose reach is now spreading beyond Malfi, known as the Masqued.
Malfi has an agri-moon called Gallowglass, upon which a commandery of the Adepta Sororitas militant Order of the Bloody Rose, called the Shrine of Seventeen Martyrs. The civil order of Malfi is largely maintained by the armsmen of its Great Houses. Its small enforcer cadres are little more than over-armed door wardens and palace guards. Malfi was once the temporary home of the infamous heretic Myrchella Sinderfell, where she overtook a sanguinary cult and bathed in blood every day for a year. On Malfi, the roles of noble and priest are kept strictly separate, with no noble families contributing to the Ministorum. Legatine Christal, a member of the Orders Famulous and from the Abbey of the Dawn, is often away from her Iocanthos fortress and has been spotted in recent years re-establishing a mission on Malfi.
The Hall of Canon is a facility maintained by the Ordo Malleus Calixis under the auspices of the Archeaognost in Chamber of the Scholariate at Arms, an Inquisitor and holder of one of the Chamber’s few permanent appointments. The Hall is located in Hive Ortak on Malfi, though its existence is kept secret from the local government and its subjects. The purpose of the Hall of Canon is to gather any and all possible references to the activities of the archenemy, and to use that information to predict future incursions. Most of the missions that the Inquisitors in Chamber undertake are the result of some vague piece of intelligence from the mighty cogitation stacks of the Hall of Canon. These data-mills are attended by Tech-Priests seconded from the forge world of JXMA18Z according to ancient and binding pacts, and have by all accounts been continuously active since the facility was built soon after the founding of the Calixis Sector itself.
On Malfi, the Adeptus Arbites conscripted several small Hive gangs to infiltrate a suspected blood cult. Judge Chal York coerced a troubled Kestrali noble dynasty to enter into the slave trade, selling his Cult-Stalkers into the pit fights. York was assassinated shortly afterwards. The nobles of the Kestrali dynasty, unable to prove their innocence in the sanctioned operation, were put to death in the wake of the Judge's death. The Cult-Stalkers were forgotten to the Adeptus Arbites. Nearly a decade later, Inquisitor Medina uncovered the blood cult in her investigations. The ex-gang's numbers had dwindled to only a handful, but they were now the elite guard and some of the cults most trusted members. Never failing in their duties or faith, these former criminals had proven that they were loyal to the God-Emperor above all else. They presented their years of meticulously gathered information to the Inquisitor, and on her authority executed over a thousand citizens in one bloody night, and presented themselves for execution. Their sacrifice ended a daemonic incursion before it even began.
The Daughter of MalfiEdit
“Madness dances in their eyes, and they can spill your blood and laugh as easily as they can show the most tender compassion. At each turn it as if a coin is cast for their nature: on one side the monster, on the other the saint.”
–Cardinal Glabruis on the infamous House Koba of Malfi
Some four centuries ago, during a troubled time for the Calixis Sector when central authority was weak and the Holy Ordos distracted, the powerful hive world of Malfi suffered under the most tyrannical and bloody-handed regime it has ever seen---the dominion of House Koba. Known as the Reign of Terror, during this time Koba rose to ultimate power under its favored son Syvas Koba.
Syvas was a man of merciless intellect and labyrinthine mind, who in a few short years wiped out or overpowered the many factions that had previously held sway on Malfi. Holding both the office of Planetary Governor and Lord Sub-Sector, Syvas’ authority was uncontested and absolute, and he succeeded in completely subjugating the local Administratum officials and even Malfi’s High Marshal. He savagely destroyed any that could oppose him, be they Malfi’s citizenry, political rivals, troublesome cardinals, or members of his own family.
Though he had his own legitimate children murdered, he was known to favor more than a score of his bastard progeny at court. He raised them to plot and scheme against each other in order to gain his favor, often “dealing” with them when they became troublesome. One was particularly malign, treacherous, and cruel, a young woman named Hyathe. On her seventeenth birthday Syvas took Haythe out on a star vessel deep into space. What happened there remains unknown, but she returned to court... changed. Although she remained beautiful and regal, dire madness burned in her eyes and her heart was filled with the conviction that everyone and everything was fit only to be destroyed. Her power soon increased and she created a shadowy court of brutes, sadists and killers, becoming even more feared than her father. She worked intrigues of staggering guile and ruthlessness, destroying anyone at a whim, and the fearful and weakened noble houses took to calling her “Hayte” behind her back.
As the aging Syvas Koba finally began to lose his grip on sanity and power, “Hayte” and her supporters took over complete control of Malfi in a brief and bloody storm of excess and destruction. The noble houses rose against her, and in the blood-drenched war that followed, House Koba was utterly destroyed. Civil strife across the planet left over a billion dead and destabilized the sub-sector. It is said that it was Alizbet Belasco, a former ally of House Koba, who finally succeeded in slaying Hayte, and in so doing, elevated her house to the high rank it now holds on Malfi. However, legend persists that many from Hayte’s inner circle of protégées survived the savagery. What fate awaited these vicious exiles remains unknown, but her name certainly has continued, attached to one of the most infamous cults in the sector.
The Bloody Solstice on MalfiEdit
The first major incident attributed to the Pilgrims of Hayte, the events surrounding the “Bloody Solstice,” set the pattern for much of the cult’s later activities and can be seen as emblematic of its worst excesses and black-hearted passions. In the years immediately following the destruction of House Koba on Malfi, order had been restored to all but the most desolate areas of the upper hives, and an uneasy truce forced upon the fractious ruling houses and guilds. This fragile peace, however, was rocked by a series of dreadful murders.
Members of the Ecclesiarchy, ranging from lowly mendicant preachers serving in the poorest hab-stacks to senior canns who tended the high altar of the Seven-Spired Basilica, were being slaughtered. Some died in what at first seemed accidents, others were attacked almost at random by screaming madmen, and more were torn apart by unknown forces behind locked and barred doors. As the death toll rose, the enforcers and arbiters could find no link or common cause between them other than their faith, and seemed powerless to stop the ever-spiraling number of killings. The targeting of the faithful in this manner caused a serious threat to the faith of the populace and resulted in copy-cat killings, the vandalism of shrines, open unbelief, and public panic reaching epidemic proportions. Eventually, the Holy Ordos were called in despite the misgiving of the Malfian elite.
With three full Inquisitors heading the task force, a brutal crackdown into suspected cult activity was carried out. It was discovered that a powerful group calling itself the Pilgrims of Hayte lay behind the attacks. The Ordo learned that from a stronghold in a deserted industrial hive sector known as the Rustblight scav-zone, they had infiltrated numerous refugee camps, low hive hab communities, and even some isolated shrines, replacing the clergy entirely.
The cult preyed on the weak, the desperate, and those that Malfi’s decades of near anarchy had abused and made destitute, turning them against Imperial law and Imperial faith. What the Inquisition had not guessed at, however, were the daemonic powers the masters of the cult possessed. When a 400 strong force of Adeptus Arbites and inducted Imperial Guard closed in on the cult’s stronghold on the fateful eve of the Solstice of the Winter Martyr, they were expected.
No sooner had the Inquisition penetrated the interior of the zone, attacks began from waves of crazed cult zealots more than willing to die if they could take the loyalists with them. As the task force forged slowly ahead through the maze of rusted works, it was hard pressed when horrific mutants and terrible slavering beasts, clearly twisted and bound with the energies of the warp, entered the fray.
The inducted troopers began to fail and rout in the face of the enemy, only to be mercilessly hunted down and destroyed by the insane cultists. The hardier Imperials, such as Arbites kill teams, soon found themselves isolated, outnumbered, and overwhelmed as their ammunition ran dry and shimmering daemons rippled out from the shadows to tear them apart. The three Inquisitors, finding their fighters spread out and overcome, moved to rally and concentrate their forces.
However, they underestimated the dark motivator behind the cult. He called himself Karcist, Prophet of Truth, and he presented himself to the embattled Ordo forces with no less terrible allies than a pair of bound daemonhosts at his side. A massacre followed, and although the resolute Inquisitors managed to destroy one of Karcist’s daemonhosts, only Inquisitor Requis Corina, his right arm withered to the bone by the touch of a daemonhost’s scabrous claw, managed to escape.
News of the Holy Ordos’s defeat, no doubt disseminated by carefully placed cultists and traitors, spread like wildfire though Malfi’s upper echelons of power. The nobility isolated themselves, abandoning the people to fend for themselves. For a brief time the whole planet seemed to cower in terror, and a great world tottered on the brink of the abyss---the Bloody Solstice had begun.
Madmen and warp-tainted freaks erupted onto the streets killing and burning with wild abandon, seemingly without pattern or purpose. Temples were attacked and their congregations massacred, and within the central Adeptus Arbites Precinct Fortress, a Charnel Daemon was unleashed, killing scores of loyal arbitrators before it was finally destroyed by concentrated cannon fire. As riot and panic broke out and killed thousands more of Malfi’s people, PDF detachments and local enforcers were overwhelmed, power was cut and fires raged out of control. The whole structure of Malfi’s continent spanning hive network neared collapse.
Invoking his full authority, the maimed Inquisitor Corina called together a meeting of Malfi’s Great Houses, presenting an impassioned demand for them to lend their weight to the fight or loose everything. He appealed to their faith and their duty first, but it is recorded that it was not until he mocked their injured pride and stupidity for allowing such heresy to fester in their midst that they sided with him. With the leadership, private armies, and even the secretive assassin cadres of the Great Houses to back them, the loyalists fought the rising tide of anarchy and the suicidal fury of the Pilgrims of Hayte head on. For week after week of grueling and bloody fighting, they held their ground. As further aid poured in from the Holy Ordos and the Battlefleet Calixis, they gained the upper hand, order was restored, and the last remnants of the cult battered itself to extinction against the Imperial forces.
Karcist and several of his subordinate sorcerers were never found during the great Malfian purge that followed, but were sighted leading cults and atrocities in later decades all across the sector. The arch-heretic Karcist finally met his end, not at the hands of the Inquisition, but in the power-fisted grip of the Rogue Trader Harriman Vale nearly a century later.
In the final analysis, the “Bloody Solstice” of Malfi provided a deadly exclamation point at the end of seven decades of misrule, discord, unrest, and bloodshed for Malfi. It has since entered the myths and history of that world as the direst moment of a dark age.
The Last Masque of House Orsini Edit
It cannot be said with certainty when or how the Menagerie first came into being, but its earliest recorded activities hail from within the dark recesses and opulent courts of the world of Malfi. The first mentions occur in the years of relative peace that followed the disastrous Reign of Terror and the destruction created by the birth of another deadly cult, the Pilgrims of Hayte.
Forced out on the margins of power was House Orsini, a once great and powerful family who had had a stranglehold on the senate and whose influence ranged wide across the sector, The civil anarchy caused by the Pilgrims of Hayte‘s Bloody Solstice had seen them vacillate and their rule found wanting. Unable to sustain such a loss of face, their powerbase crumbled and they barely survived the intervening decades. With the house a crippled and failing shadow of its former glory, the Orsini would have done anything to regain their prestige and power. So it was that when an enigmatic stranger came to them, offering glories and truths undreamed of, they proved easy prey.
The stranger called himself the Revelator, and as he insinuated himself into the house, he poisoned the sanity and corrupted the bodies of the family and its servants. To the rest of the world, the doom that had come to the Orsini remained unknown. Then one day invitations began to arrive asking the great and powerful of Malfi to attend a masquerade at the Orsini’s remaining palace, where “singular and wondrous entertainments and revelations” would be provided by “The Menagerie of Fate.” Such events and diversions among the intrigue-ridden and jaded nobility of Malfi were commonplace, but given the Orsini’s fallen status few deigned to attend. Most that did only did so for the chance of scandalous pleasure and mockery of what they assumed would be the dying gasp of the once great house.
What actually occurred at the last masque of House Orsini is sealed under the highest security protocols of the Holy Ordos and the secret records of the great houses involved. However, a casual study of the official record states that scores of the nobility’s lesser scions are recorded as having died unexpectedly that year via accident or illness. Others simply disappear from all records as if they never were. Rumors still abound to this day, centuries later, of the great and the beautiful driven to utter madness or warped into mutating tides of screaming flesh. Stories are told of locked chambers in the cellars and towers of noble estates where abominable things were shut away to live out their lives, clawing desperately at walls, or were put down like rabid dogs by their own kin.
In the planetary archive, all mention of the Orsini ceases, and merely to mention their name in some circles is to court bloodshed and vendetta. The burned-out and empty remains of the palace of Orsini and the district surrounding it stands still as an abandoned and shunned part of the Malfian hive, a testament that some wishes come with too high a price. This event was the first great show attributed to the revelations of the Menagerie in the Inquisitorial annals, but sadly it is far from the last.
The Manipulation of Malfi Edit
The hands of Recongregator agents are filthy with the stinking blood of dire mistakes that have been made in trying to wield Malfi as a tool for sector-wide change, but the faction’s manipulation of the bloodlines of the Malfian nobility remains its greatest work---and its most dire shame. The nobility of Malfi has always been rotten, ancient, and wicked long before the coming of the Angevin Crusade. Since the rise of Scintilla as the dominant capital of the sector, Malfi’s nobility has become increasingly bitter and resentful. In this darkly brooding feud, the Recongregators saw an opportunity to create a force for change in a sector becoming too comfortable in its newly acquired stability. The key, they felt, was in the old blood of Malfi, a lineage and stock with a vast history of scions great and terrible down the years. The Recongregators saw in these dynasties a tool they could use, and in doing so embraced a vile heresy long forbidden. With the aid of rogue elements within the Adeptus Mechanicus, a powerful Recongregator cell poisoned members of several noble families with gene-locked viral agents that would release their potential by augmenting their genetic makeup and sowing the seeds of the same in the next generation. The intent of the manipulation was to breed a great line of charismatic and powerful individuals who would wrest control of the sector away from a course doomed to stagnation. Matches between various infected bloodlines were engineered, and the resulting progeny were monitored over the years. Each generation was more changed than the last, but without warning, the experiment slipped from their grasp. Records were destroyed, adepts were killed, and those Inquisitors closest to the project were found dead or missing. The culprit responsible remains unknown to this day.
As the years progressed, it became patently apparent that the results were, sadly, not what was intended, and too late the Recongregators began to realise the grave error of their choices. They had unwittingly committed a sin from humanity’s ancient past.
The products of Malfi’s manipulated noble bloodlines were monstrous. Though they bore no marks of mutation, these men and women were near genius exemplars of cunning and viciousness and the guessed-at names of those noble lines most affected ring now with infamy: Sinderfel, Belasco, and Koba. None outside a few Inquisitors know of this secret atrocity. The Recongregators have taken great pains to cover up this sin over the years, and to combat the evil it has wrought, but even they cannot guess at how many have been born of the tainted blood of Malfi.
The Tainted Blood of MalfiEdit
The Noble lineages of the Imperium can produce lines of great and noble servants of the God Emperor who uphold the fine traditions of their ancestors, and in which the blood of the just and true runs thick. There are, however, lineages which have become so twisted and tainted that they spawn generation upon generation of monsters. Nowhere is more true than on Malfi, a world of intrigue and lies where the profusion of noble houses constantly vie for power, influence, and prestige and a thousand secret cults and societies are spawned, struggle, and are extinguished with the passing of every generation. In such an environment those of the tainted bloodlines flourish. The noble houses of Malfi are thick with secrets and hidden horrors, and a number of noble lineages have become noted for the cruelty and fevered madness of their scions. Capricious, ruthless and wicked, the worst of these tainted lines display a cruel intelligence and single-minded strength that drives them to survive and perpetrate their sins and those of their ancestors into another generation.
What the source is of the tainted noble blood of Malfi is a mystery. So many lines have intermingled through marriage that the genealogies of the Malfian nobility are a tangled web stretching back for centuries to the founding of the sector, despite efforts of the Orders Famulous and Orders Hospitaller. If one also considers the introduction of blood ties with noble lineages from other worlds, including great Scintilla, pinpointing the sire of the rot is an impossible task. Some consider that there is no single source of the tainted blood and see Malfi’s prodigious production of monsters as a consequence of circumstances in which the vicious and deceptive prosper. Some within the Holy Ordos see the madness behind the mask of many Malfian Nobles as being the product of the planet’s history of infamous heresies. A few might point out that the taint seems too persistent in those of particular lineages to be simply a product of random breeding or circumstance. They point to how the rot seems to spread to other houses that have blood ties with the tainted dynasties of Malfi: the notorious Sinderfell clan of Scintilla, for example, produced the infamous Myrchella Sinderfell, and had ties with House Belasco of Malfi.
The taint persists in many noble lineages both on Malfi and beyond. In some cases it lies dormant for generations before coming to light, while in others the tainted are the run of their family’s dark course. For some the nature of their line is something to be fought; the madness that runs within their veins is a beast to be tamed. For others to be a monster is their true nature, one that is embraced with joy and relish.
"And who am I to be this year, hmm? Perhaps a wealthy functionary in a dubious merchant guild? No? Hmm, perhaps a pampered Ecclesiastic keeping watch for detestable heresy within a suspect sect? Still no, eh? Well then, can I spend the majority of this mission indoors at least? Another Imperial Guard unit? Front lines? Well at least I won't remember any of it after retrieval. No sir! Happy to, sir!"
-A Slate-Agent, currently named Cavel Posdanik
Few agencies of the Imperium of Man, save the Inquisition, are as paranoid and watchful as the Adeptus Arbites. Both of these organizations were founded on the notion that the teeming masses of mankind cannot be trusted to safe-guard themselves independently, and that if left to their own devices, the vast population of the Imperium would eventually fall into lawlessness and damnable heresy. Thus the watchfulness of the Arbites and the Inquisition is a service to mankind, not an attempt to control the masses through fear. It is the necessity of their work which drives the agents of the Arbites and the Inquisition to such paranoia, for it is they alone who know the stakes of failure. On the planet of Malfi, the men and women of the ruling class play a vicious game of politics and favor. This game is played not on any game-board, but in every palace, mansion, and villa. It is not played with pieces, but with the livelihood of their dynasties. The strategy of this game lies with political maneuverings and favorable alliances.
The stakes of this game are neither bragging rights nor pride, they are the very existence of the noble family, and the rights of rulership. The greatest advantage in this game of political infighting is information, preferably that which could shame and discredit a rival. In the pursuit of this sort of information the houses of Malfi have each developed methods particular to their own dynasty. It was for this purpose that the first Slate-Agents were trained. The Malfian house which first created the Slate-Agents is long forgotten, whether fallen to obscurity or risen to heights beyond all recognition, none can say. The value of their achievement is evident by the wide-spread use of Slate-Agents by a multitude of Malfian houses.
Masters of subterfuge and disguise, each Slate-Agent is a perfect operative of infiltration and observation. It is the process of their creation which makes a Slate-Agent so ideal for their intended job. The first stage of a Slate-Agent's conditioning is aimed at wholly annihilating any sense of self possessed by the recruit, reducing them to little more than a biological machine in the service of their masters. It is from this state that Slate-Agents receive their moniker, as from this point forward, each Agent is a "blank-slate" on which new identities can be written. To achieve this, recruits are deprived of sleep, food, water, and dignity, as well as forced to endure horrific psychological torments, all the while they are watched for signs of opposition or rebelliousness. Once the recruit has been reduced to a workable state, the trainers begin the slow process of rebuilding their charge. Using hypno-indoctrination techniques they prepare the recruit's mind to take shape around cover-identities, each of which includes skills, history, profession, and contacts, as well as personality and mannerisms, all combined to provide a flawless cover for the Slate-Agent. The trainers use psycho-conditioning to thread the recruit's psyche with triggers and fail-safes, in order to reset the conditioning. Oft-times the conditioning of Slate-Agents is so complete that during their missions they are wholly unaware of their true identity until their loyalty is tested, at which point, deep-planted hypno-barriers close off the mind to any possibility of traitorous or mutinous thoughts.
Gathering information about one's target is the primary directive of each Agent. Infiltrating a rival house, gaining access to its members' most heavily guarded secrets, and leaving no doubt as to their unfaltering loyalty to their target, these are the core objectives of each Slate- Agent's mission. The specifics may change depending on the controlling house and the target organization, but information is the primary stock and trade of the Slate-Agent. Having an ally so flawlessly inserted into an enemy's ranks often proves a dangerous temptation for the controlling house, for it is a simple thing to include a kill-order alongside the multitude of mundane orders during the templating process. This form of assassination is frowned upon by the lords of Malfi, for it is little more than a means of mutually assured destruction.
After becoming involved in a particularly convoluted plot of treason and sedition which had been set in motion by a ruling Malfian lord, the Arbites discovered the existence of Slate-Agents among the various political houses. While officially condemning such duplicitous action on the part of powerful Imperial citizens, the Judge in charge of the investigation gathered information about the training and conditioning of Slate-Agents, so that such operatives might one day be utilized by the Arbites themselves. Within two generations, the Marshall of the Court commanding the Pendulum Precinct had made provision for the creation of Slate-Agents to be placed within organizations throughout his charge. The dozens of Agents to underwent the conditioning were placed within political and criminal organizations, as well as Imperial institutions such as the Ministrorum and the Administratum, and were implanted with orders to keep ever vigilant for the taint of criminality. Given the ever-changing nature of Inquisitorial work, those Slate-Agents who have been conditioned for use by agents of the Inquisition are often more aware of their true identity, at least subconsciously, and have even been known to have been templated with a multitude of identities at the same time, flawlessly switching from one to the next, as each mission dictates.
Becoming a Slate-Agent
There is no set procedure by which men and women are chosen to become Slate-Agents. The process, unique to Malfi and its nobility, allows for a temporary mind-cleansing, but it is no less painful or harrowing. Arbitrators and Inquisitorial agents are sometimes chosen by their masters for the job, whether they desire it or not. In some rare cases, devoted souls volunteer for the thankless task. Regardless of their original intent, Slate-Agents universally end up in the same situation; devoid of all knowledge of their previous existence and routinely conditioned to become whoever their new masters require. No matter the intention or method of their induction into the life of a Slate-Agent, the process itself exacts a horrific toll on the mind and soul of the participant and it is, therefore, rarely taken up lightly.
Required Careers: Any
Alternate Rank: Rank 6 or higher (5,000 XP)
Requirements: Unremarkable Talent
Benefits: Blank Slate (Trait)
- The Masqued - The cult has spread prolifically throughout the nobility of Malfi
- The Sons of Dispater - Their operations are based out of a central command on Malfi
- Belasco Deathworks - The House of Belasco is based on Malfi
- Pilgrims of Hayte - Famous for Malfi's Bloody Solstice
- Brotherhood of the Horned Darkness - The cult has historically operated on Malfi
- The Menagerie - Born upon Malfi, this cult often clashes with other cults and keeps the Beast House out of Malfian territories
- House Praxis
Armageddon Pattern Autogun
Class: Basic (SP)
First imported to the hive factories of Calixis to supply loyalist forces in the Tranch insurrection and the massive wave of mutant uprisings in Tranch’s Soot Warrens that followed, the Armageddon pattern proved itself both in the Tranch conflict and the decade of petty cult-inspired civil wars that plagued the Malfian sub in the following years. Still manufactured primarily on Malfi itself, the Armageddon is loud, lethal and uncomplicated; a heavy-hitter for an autogun, it fires large caliber solid slugs from a fifteen-round short box clip and can stand a phenomenal amount of abuse and keep firing. Since the uprisings, the Armageddon has become a staple of the arms trade in the Malfian sub and has started to make inroads into frontier areas where its stopping power and robust design rapidly gains converts.
Basic, 100m, S/2/6, 1d10+4, I, PEN 0, Clip 15, RLD Full, Reliable, WT 8.5kg, Cost 100, Average
Mariette Cylinder Pistol
Class: Pistol (SP)
Named for the Malfian noble house said to have originated the design—or at least first championed its use within their assassin cadre, the Mariette is an extremely concealable compact stub pistol crafted from polyflex and ceramics with no metallic or powered components. Its four-chamber barrels are self-contained and the whole pistol is designed to easily break down into a handful of small parts. Disassembled, the Mariette can be easily concealed about the person or inside some innocuous object (such as a lamp or data-slate) with almost no chance of detection and be re-assembled to fire in mere seconds.
The Mariette when disassembled and hidden is virtually impossible to find (–30 penalty on Search Tests) as the parts don’t show up on scanners or auspexes as weapons. The ammunition-barrel cylinders for the Mariette are themselves Rare items and cost a base price of 100 Thrones each.
Pistol, 20m, S/–/–, 2d5+3, I, PEN 0, Clip 1, RLD 2Full, WT 0.5kg, Cost 400, Rare
Class: Melee (Primitive)
Owing its origins to the time long ago when the hive world of Malfi was once largely covered in dense jungle, the bolo is a heavy single-edged cutting tool that for centuries has doubled as a brutally effective weapon. Crafted from mono-serrated plexsteel, the average bolo has a distinctive 40 centimetre long, inwardly curving blade that widens somewhat before the tip. This shape makes the bolo perfect for heavy slashing blows and, in skilled hands, it can lop-off limbs or open-up a man gut to gullet in a single stroke. Still used on Malfi as an everyday tool, it retains a murderous reputation and a favoured place in local folklore. The bolo is also favoured as a gang weapon among Malfi’s jacker-gangs and dacoits, who traditionally mark noteworthy kills and exploits by acid-etching their blades with crude murder-glyphs known as “gris”.
The weapon has Common Availability on Malfi and is Rare elsewhere.
Melee, 2d5(+SB), R, PEN 2, WT 2kg, Cost 50, Rare
The predatory Nightwings of Dusk produce a potent narcotic dust that they use to subdue their victims, lulling them into a nightmarish stupor, while the haemovoric Nightwing quickly sucks them dry. This substance, harvested from captured or slain creatures and rendered down into a concentrated form, is a powerful and prohibited drug. Usually burned as incense or, for a more powerful effect, dissolved in amasec, the dream-racked stupor that night dust induces can last for days, and the term “dusk dream” has long since become local parlance on Malfi for an unexpected disappearance or bout of madness.
A single dose imposes a –20 penalty on all Tests, while the imbiber experiences mild hallucinations and becomes disassociated from their emotions. After 2d10 minutes, the afflicted character slips into a deep feverish slumber filled with vivid and often violent dreams reflecting the darkest facets of their own mind. This state lasts for 1d10 hours and upon wakening the character must succeed on an Ordinary (+10) Willpower Test or gain 1d5 Insanity Points from the experience. Drinking the dust is far more potent and dangerous: the effects last 41d0 hours and the Willpower Test to avoid Insanity Points is Difficult (–10).
Cost 25, Very Rare
Environmental Body Glove
The rare travelers of the Imperium often despair over the many environments they must prepare for as they travel between systems. Bulky void suits are frequently impractical, especially when a given world’s atmosphere is known to be merely unpleasant as opposed to fatal, and few are the sealed suits that actually provide any armor to their wearers. Travelers on the frontier have an especially difficult time of it, for if they discover a planet with unexpected environmental conditions, the proper equipment may be long months or even years of travel away. Several of the worthies of the various Malfian noble houses decided that the situation was intolerable and set about designing a series of body gloves designed to withstand multiple extreme conditions while still maintaining their wearer in relative comfort. The suits were a great success and various models are produced in small quantities on Malfi, Vaxanide, and Scintilla. “Environmental body glove” is a generic name for a wide variety of suits. Most are actually named after the house line that produces them, such as the “Mariette Envelope” or the “Hax Hostile” field body glove.
Environmental body gloves are full body suits designed to sustain their wearers at a constant temperature, despite external conditions, making them ideal as outerwear for desert worlds and a useful inner layer for particularly cold environments. Pockets within the suits recycle sweat and other bodily fluids, cooling or warming them as necessary, in order to regulate temperature and provide emergency water rations. The suits are waterproof, which makes them useful in marshy terrain and capable of doubling as a wetsuit when necessary. Environmental body gloves add +1 Armour Point to all locations and grant a +10 bonus on Survival Tests.
Such suits are almost invariably equipped with a re-breather, comm-bead and photo-contacts.
Head, Arms, Body, Legs, AP 1, WT 5kg, Cost 625, Rare
Spending time in xeno environments means that sooner or later one will have to sample the “local” cuisine, which may not resemble anything one is used to. Indeed, some travelers try to opt for a plant or creature that has a “familiar” appearance, but this is no less dangerous—for the assumption that a given thing must be safe to eat based on resemblance is a foolhardy one. Enter the poi-savant. A hand-held cogitation device, the poi-savant measures various levels of bio-chemicals and searches for signs of a diverse number of dangerous toxins in any substance that it is used to analyze. Any substance the poi-savant clears as “edible” is safe for human consumption, though not necessarily appetizing.
Originally developed on Malfi, where the noble houses even now use them at every meal, poi-savants tend to be remarkably accurate devices as they have had well over a thousand years of field-testing. Indeed, many Malfian nobles make a point of commissioning their own personally tailored poi-savant, generally by miniaturizing them into elegant wands or ornate rings that they can simply pass over their meals without appearing unduly concerned (or rude). Personal poi-savants must be updated regularly as new toxins are identified, leading to an ongoing race between their cogitators and the cunning of the countless assassins who constantly seek out new poisons in the hope that they will thwart their target’s poi-savant. Poi-savants were specifically designed to be easy to use; their operator need only make a Routine (+20) Tech-Use Test to employ them correctly. A failed Test gives inconclusive readings, while a failure by three or more degrees indicates that a blameless substance is toxic or vice versa (GM decision).
Cost 300, Rare
The Whispers of Delight
The Whispers of Delight were daemon bound daggers created by the Order of the Amethyst Serpent on Malfi. Each dagger had a long blade of amethyst that twisted like a tongue of fire, a hilt of bladed and spiked finger loops, and was etched with dying words of thirty six sacrifices to the Prince of Pleasure. The Whispers of Delight were given to the Order’s assassins who it were reputed to be able to persuade their victims to grant them admittance to their most intimate chambers before their throats were cut. After the Order of the Amethyst Serpent was broken by the Ordo Malleus, three of the Whispers of Delight were recovered. However, it is believed that more existed and survived the destruction of their makers.
Each dagger contains a Bound Daemon (WP 36), with the Sharp as Sin and Whispers of Delight (see below) attributes. Whispers of Delight: When the edge of one of these daggers is blooded (by even a drop of blood from a small cut) it immediately begins whispering dark secrets and suggestions to its wielder, making his insights and words strangely persuasive. Anyone who hears and understands the wielder’s speech must pass an opposed Willpower Test against the daemon weapon’s Willpower (roll once and apply the result to all Tests). Those who fail the Test become vulnerable to the wielder’s suggestions, granting the wielder a +20 bonus to any Charm, Intimidate, or Deceive Tests against them.
Note: This is not a true form of direct mind control, but can be used to overcome good sense, sow discord, alleviate suspicion, and stoke the fires of hatred.
Melee, Thrown, 3m, 1d5+3, R, PEN 3, The Beast Within, Lethality, Uncanny Resilience, Sharp as Sin, Whispers of Delight, WT 1.5kg
Imposters from around the Calixis Sector routinely make a pilgrimage to Malfi to see one of the few surgeons capable of performing a unique, painful, and dangerous operation. Hundreds of electro-flexible plates are inserted beneath the subject’s skin, and linked into a series of micro-servo’s. Using a data-slate, the subject is able to manipulate the plates so that his facial structure is reshaped.
The process is extremely painful; many users of the Malfian Dermaguise become addicted to drugs to help compensate for the pain. The movement of the plates can tear through the skin or stretch flesh in odd ways. After using the Dermaguise it often takes days for the skin to heal around the new form properly, although minor alterations can heal much quicker. Over-use of the device can damage muscles and facial tissue, even rendering a subject unable to make normal facial expressions without using the device.
It requires 5 rounds and a Challenging (+0) Tech-Use Test to change the user’s visage, which grats a +20 bonus to any Disguise Tests made to impersonate another person and causes 1 level of Fatigue. This bonus increases to +30 after the Fatigue has been removed (as the stretched skin heals). If the Tech-Use Test is failed, the user suffers 1 point of Tearing Damage (not reduced by Toughness) per Degree of Failure as his muscles are strained and his face is torn open by metal. If the test is failed by more than 3 Degrees of Failure, the user must succeed on a Hard (-20) Toughness Test or lose 1d5 Fellowship as his face is permanently damaged. The process of facial reconfiguration may be shortened from 5 rounds to as little as 1 round, but every round reduced imposes a cumulative -10 penalty to the Tech-Use Test.
Good Quality versions of this augmetic include small pigment scrubbers strategically placed all over the body, allowing the user to darken or lighten his skin tone as well. There are no Best Quality versions of this augmetic.
Widely utilized by Maflian nobles wishing to send their enemies a “warning”—the next time the poison is used it won’t incapacitate, it will kill!
Cost 550ea, Scarce
The blood that flows in your veins is like a snare that you cannot escape. At every moment it lures you to actions and thoughts that are both magnificent and terrible. You have great potential—but can you trust yourself not to become a monster?
Creating Tainted Blood of Malfi Characters
Use the Noble Born Home World template and replace the Etiquette Trait with the ones detailed here.
The minds of those of the tainted Malfian nobility are prone to incredible intelligence, inclined to lies, and strangely numb to fears.
Effects: The Acolyte increases his Intelligence by +10. He also begins play with the Talented (Deceive) and Resistant (Fear) Talent.
The sins of the character’s bloodline mean that he has teetered on the edge of madness and abomination from the moment he was born.
Effect: The Acolyte begins play with 1d10 Corruption Points and 2d10 Insanity Points.