“If proof were ever needed that some darkness best left undisturbed lurks amongst those haunted stars, then I could offer no better than those dead and dry worlds. To the wise they would suggest that curiosity is indeed the greatest of sins.”
–Inquisitor Marr, speaking of the discoveries of Rogue Trader Sebastian Winterscale
The Egarian Dominion was once a populous xenos domain that spanned a handful of close stars. Many millennia past, the alien civilization that dwelt in this domain fell victim to a nameless doom that left only empty, desolate worlds and crumbling structures in its wake. The principal worlds of the Dominion are dry, cool desert planets, covered by tightly-packed structures that form a vast maze in three dimensions, walls and corners hundreds of meters high and extending in belts for thousands of kilometers across the desert plains.
These claustrophobic xenos complexes are buried by windblown sand and dry soil, their borders ragged cliffs that mark the edge of lowland deserts. Egarian building materials glisten with rainbow light as though oily, even as they crack and crumble with age. They somehow channel the light of Egarian stars, and even the deepest regions of the xenos hives are lit with a disturbing, shifting glow. The passageways are cramped for humans, and the hive mazes are empty, as though the xenos and almost all their works simply vanished overnight. The only sound is the moaning of the wind as it blows through enclosed maze-spaces and across desert outcrops.
“There is a great darkness that exists, slumbering beneath these cursed worlds! You don’t need an Astropath to figure that out. You can feel it out there... waiting for the right moment. It killed those damned xenos who defiled this place with their presence, and it will destroy us too.”
–Commander Miles Everheart, commenting on translations of Egarian glyphs
The dry, desert worlds that comprise the systems of the Egarian Dominion were once a populous xenos domain spanning a handful of stars within Winterscale’s Realm. Millennia ago, long before the coming of mankind to the Koronus Expanse, some unknown catastrophe befell this race and left behind only empty, desolate worlds covered in crumbling ruins that form vast mazes of complex intricacy. It’s these ruined buildings that draw the interest of the majority of Rogue Traders and those who have an interest in the Cold Trade---the buying and selling of proscribed xenos artefacts. Yet, rumors abound that some dark and dangerous force lays waiting, lurking, and slumbering somewhere amongst these cursed worlds; and woe betide any who would dare disturb its dark and alien dreams. Sebastian Winterscale discovered this collection of several stars during the exploration of the area of space ceded to him when issued his Warrant of Trade. The habitable worlds of each of these systems are covered with numerous hive-like structures and ruins.
Everywhere he looked, Sebastian found evidence that some nameless and terrible apocalypse had consumed the xenos population living on these worlds. So complete was the destruction of their civilization that almost nothing remained of their works or culture, aside from their dormant dwellings. Who or what this faceless doom was remains a mystery to this day. In fact, Sebastian Winterscale only ever discovered a partial translation of the ancient xenos pictographs left behind, from which he learned the name of these worlds: The Egarian Dominion.
The ruins on these worlds are all generally composed of the same material, and none of it appears to be native to any planet within the Dominion. The material is a luminous pale stone, cool and smooth to the touch no matter what the outside temperature. Somehow, this material is also able to channel light from outside; even the deepest regions of these places are lit by the soft white shifting glow. During the daylight hours, the walls appear to glisten with a rainbow hue to them, much like oil slicked on water.
Four primary star systems have been identified as being part of the Egarian Dominion: Egaria Alpha sits in the center of this cluster of systems, and has only one habitable world. The other three systems, Egaria Gamma, Egaria Epsilon, and Egaria Omega surround Alpha. Each of these systems has at least one semi-habitable world circling its ancient and bloated star. All of these worlds share similar characteristics: they are dry and cool deserts comprised mostly of endless dunes and rocky outcroppings, and are dotted by sparse, shallow bodies of brackish water.
The Xenos MazesEdit
Explorers and traders who have visited the Egarian Dominion have noted that the extinct xenos species built massive cities formed of intricate, elaborate, and maddening mazes that were left behind when their builders mysteriously vanished. These massive, cyclopean edifices dominate most of the Egarian landscape; many are large enough to rival even the massive hives of Imperial worlds such as Necromunda and others. They rise high above the desert dunes and desiccated scrub, vast walls and towers covered in strange protrusions and riddled with countless passages and corridors.
The mazes seem to be organized without any logical reason behind them, but that has not stopped explorers and xenosarcheologists from making the attempt. In a somewhat futile attempt to comprehend the maze-cities, a few scholars have attempted to quantify and analyze their structure. Any attempts to map the cities have universally failed---no matter how detailed the augur arrays or how exacting the surveys, the maps generated inevitably do not match the maze city structure when used. However, the studies have managed to categorize certain types of locations within the cities.
Curtain Walls: The exterior walls of the maze cities stretch as high as 500 meters, covered with boxy protrusions, beams, and any number of other strange constructions that gives the curtain walls a half-finished appearance. The curtain walls are constructed of the same pale stone as the rest of the maze-cities, though they are almost universally scored and pitted by blowing sand. Despite their unfinished appearance, the curtain walls are incredibly dense, making cutting through them impossible without massive military breaching drills or ship-grade plasma cutters.
Ward-Gates: There are surprisingly few entrances to the maze cities. Access seems to be reserved for massive portals at least 30 meters tall, randomly scattered along the curtain walls. Each ward-gate has gigantic doors up to a meter thick, with no obvious mechanism for opening or shutting them. If a ward-gate is sealed, xenosarcheologists have no way to open it. However, many were left partially or completely open, granting explorers access to the interior.
Galleries: The main passages of the maze-cities---the “galleries”---are towering vaulted passageways. The galleries are usually level. If they rise or descend, they do so with gentle slopes, and are often as wide as 50 meters and up to three times as high. They split and turn at sharp, abrupt angles, dividing into new galleries, or merging into single passageways. Although they are enclosed, they are consistently illuminated by the strange luminescence from the walls, a light that seems to vary with the planets’ sun. All along the gallery walls, at all heights, are countless two meter high openings, leading to the cramped and claustrophobic corridors within. Many of these openings are high up on the walls, far out of reach of even the most adept climbers. Imperial xenosarcheologists do not know how the Egarians accessed them.
Inner Corridors: Splitting from the main galleries, the corridors are their opposite---cramped, claustrophobic passageways usually no more than two meters wide by two meters high. The corridors turn abruptly in every direction, sometimes even going completely vertical. There are never any curved passageways; all turns are made at abrupt angles. Sometimes the corridors lead to rooms buried deep in the maze cities, or open abruptly into new galleries. It is possible many of the rooms were used by the xenos in their daily existence, and if the inner corridors are anything to go by, the Egarians were much shorter than the average human. When walking through the claustrophobic halls and passageways, explorers often have to stoop in order to make their way through the crumbling structures.
Explorers who have ventured deep into the cities report finding more items of interest the further down one goes. Certain “rooms” have massive geode pillars that seem to grow out of the floor or hang from the ceiling, while some galleries are lined by shards of diamantine glass geode the size of a Mechanicus titan. Sometimes these geodes glow with a flickering inner luminescence, a light that fades if the geodes are cut and brought out of the city. Other rooms have items of uncertain use in alcoves on the walls or set on pillars. The infamous “geode grenades” are one such example, although xenosarcheologists are still unsure whether the items were even intended to be weapons.
Many of the inner corridors (and sometimes the main galleries) are constructed in three dimensions, with twisting passages not only set across the surface, but also rising upwards as well (and in some cases, descending deep into the earth). Due to the complex nature and design of the mazes themselves, some explorers see their minds tortured and even fractured in attempts to understand the maze-design. Psykers seem especially susceptible to this phenomenon, with the notable exception of Astropaths, and those who lack the ability to see.
Most xenosarcheologists believe that the maze-cities are the Egarian equivalent of Imperial hives, living space for an ancient race whose thought processes worked entirely differently from mankind. Some suspect that they were built as a result of the growing madness that gripped the Egarians as a symptom of the blight they released---a catastrophe that was their eventual undoing. Others speculate that the mazes were perhaps built as a testimony to their race’s engineering, or as homage to the dark gods they may have worshipped. Whatever the truth is, the mazes themselves are maddening to navigate, and incautious explorers can find themselves hopelessly lost within them.
With the exception of carved pictographs located within what appears to be main gathering places and strange and often incomprehensible artefacts tucked away in corners of the cities, almost nothing of the Egarians remains---it’s as if whatever blight befell them attempted to erase their existence from the very fabric of the universe.
What are the Mazes for?Edit
For the past several centuries Rogue Traders and Explorators from the Disciples of Thule have catalogued and documented many of the major city-mazes and associated structures. As of yet, they have not been able to divine a single reason why these mazes were constructed or what purpose (aside from defense) they serve. Some of the more popular theories posit that the mazes were built for the purposes of channeling some manner of energy, in much the same way that the material they are made of channels light. Others claim that they are simply a byproduct of the xenos’ dark and alien intellect.
A few learned adepts whisper that the mazes bear some similarity to constructs of the Yu’vath that have been encountered across the Koronus Expanse. Though no other evidence of Yu’vath presence has been discovered, many explorers and scholars from the Ordo Xenos and the Adeptus Mechanicus speculate that perhaps the Egarian Dominion was infiltrated and corrupted by the Yu’vath, or that its inhabitants, in their hubris, attempted to study and unlock the secrets of artefacts left by that warp-touched race. Perhaps the secrets of the Yu’vath proved to be the Egarians’ undoing, and their society was consumed by the horrors they unleashed. Perhaps the maddening maze cities were crafted under dark influences?
The Egarian Cold TradeEdit
On the outpost of Footfall there is a shadowy organization who calls itself the Kasballica Mission. They are a shadow-conclave of crime barons from the Drusus Marches sub-sector of the nearby Calixis Sector. From Footfall, these shady individuals organize a great share of the Koronus Expanse’s Cold Trade.
The Kasballica Mission has a special interest in the worlds of the Egarian Dominion, paying a great number of Thrones for even something as innocuous and mundane as pieces from the crumbling walls and ruins. Additionally, they are willing to pay for any xenos artefacts found on these worlds, or fund any expedition that has a reasonable chance of unearthing or locating any lost treasures within the Egarian Dominion.
The majority of the artefacts found come from the central Dominion world of Egaria Alpha, as one can find pieces of walls simply lying about. Additionally, other strange and unique items have been found here; most being found with a minimum amount of effort. One of the most famous items found was a massive sapphire said to be a large as a full-grown man. The tale says that the gem was etched with intricate mazelike patterns that seem to be ubiquitous to Egarian culture.
It should also be no surprise to learn that many of the artefacts and curios acquired by the Kasballica Mission eventually find their way back into the Drusus Marches. This has caused no end of concern for the Holy Ordos, and the Ordo Xenos in particular, as they strive to find ways to cut off the lines of supply. So far, they have been unsuccessful in stopping this, and many within the Conclave Calixis speculate that perhaps someone within the ranks of the Holy Ordos might be working for the Kasballica Mission, funneling information and resources to them in order to remain one step ahead of the authorities.
In addition to locating and transporting xenos artefacts out of the Dominion, the Kasballica Mission and several enterprising Rogue Traders and renegade hereteks have managed to fashion instruments of destruction from the various pieces of xenos ruins sent to them. Among these items is the well-known Egarian Geode Grenade that sends razor-sharp slivers of crystal in all directions after detonation. Creative weaponsmiths have also been able to fashion a variety of other items made from Egarian crystal, some of which are unique creations and others which have found their uses amongst other Rogue Trader crews.
Egarian Crystal Weapons and Tools
Enterprising and tech–savvy individuals have come up with all manner of creative uses for the Egarian crystal that makes up the various walls and structures of the ruins found all across the Egarian Dominion. Many of these items are one–time use (such as the geode grenades), or only exist as a unique item - never to be duplicated for one reason or another.
Game Masters are encouraged to allow Explorers to come up with unique ways to use this material. Listed below are some examples of items that can be created with either the Trade (Armorer) skill or some other suitable skill that the Game Master allows.
Egarian Crystal Blade
Made from the blended shards of crystal harvested from the blocks used to build the supports of the larger structures of the maze-cities or cut from the diamantine glass-geodes, these blades are razor sharp. However, they are also fragile and even the slightest twist in the wrong direction can cause the weapon to shatter in the user’s hands. When making a Weapon Skill Test to use the weapon to attack or Parry, any roll of 96–00 causes the weapon to shatter, sending splinters of crystal slicing through the air.
Melee, 1d10, R, PEN 5, WT 1kg, Extremely Rare
Egarian Geode Mesh
By taking shards of Egarian crystal and subjecting them to specialized chemicals and treatments, the fragments can become pliable, allowing them to flex in a way similar to rope or netting. Because the crystal is able to channel light and energy, once fashioned into a flexible mesh it can be used to supplement armour. Once bonded to the standard armour shell, the suit has energy–channeling properties that allow it to bleed off heat and other forms of energy. Geode Mesh is an armor upgrade that can be applied to Flak, Mesh, and Carapace Armour. It provides an additional +2 AP versus energy attacks that hit the area protected by it, but adds +3 kg to the armour's weight. It has an availability of Very Rare.
Recovered from xenos crystalline maze-cities, these grenades are filled with compacted shards of diamantine glass. On detonation the area is showered with cutting projectiles, which can slice through most armour.
Thrown, SBx3, S/–/–, 2d10+3, R, PEN 4, Blast (3), WT 0.5kg, Extremely Rare
Egarian Shard Glaive
Another relic of the dead planets of the Egarian Dominion, these appear to be long poles of black metal tipped with the jagged crystalline growths which litter the empty maze-cities. It is unknown if they were first used in combat deliberately or in desperation, but it was soon discovered that the impacted crystals would slice and splinter, leaving countless glasslike traces behind and causing intense pain as they twist through flesh.
Removing the shards can take hours of work and many doses of pain-blocking medication (along with Wobble or other stiff drink). Careful examination and collection of the shards reveals that, like Egarian geode grenades, the combined mass of the shards and the remaining crystal is greater than before the shattering, something the Adeptus Mechanicus still refuses to validate.
Melee, 1d10+4, PEN 2, Tearing, Toxic, WT 4kg, Extremely Rare