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Serenhold

Campaign Setting, Morana Gulf, Serenhold Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

“It’s the brightest light of civilisation you’re likely to find in the Gulf, but that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it there.”  

Navigator Tertius Ernadine Ruhk

Though technically still classified as an Adeptus Mechanicus colony world, Serenhold is the most powerful Imperial-aligned world in the frontier space of the Morana Gulf. Aspiring to the status of Forge World, the ruling power of Serenhold would see their dominion rise as the premier political power in the Gulf, by any means necessary. For all its recent history, Serenhold has been ruled by the enigmatic Fabricator General Zero-One (stylised 01). The arch-magos has been shrewd in courting other powerful Imperial institutions, and most major political powers with interests in the reconquest of the Gulf have a presence in the system, including the Imperial Navy, the Order Dialogous and the Adeptus Astra Telepathica. 

The polluted soil of Serenhold itself has been declared holy territory of the machine cult, and 01 forbids most non-mechanicus personnel from setting foot there (though many suspect this has more to do with the fabricator general’s paranoia than with religious doctrine). As such, most other Imperial institutions maintain a significant orbital presence, or locate their infrastructure on Serenhold’s nameless icy moon. Elsewhere in the system is the planetoid Vode, a rich mining outpost which feeds Serenhold’s ravenous forges and doubles as a penal colony to which 01’s enemies may be exiled.

Locations

Serenhold System

Forge 01

“+WE WILL NOT BE DENIED+ WE WILL NOT BE DELAYED+ WE ARE THE OMNISSIAH’S GLORY+” 

01 delivers a proclamation

Forge 01 is the principal settlement and manufacturing installation on Serenhold. A glorious tangle of refineries, forges, manufactoria and data-crypts which stands as a living testament to the might of the Machine Cult and the their triumph over the hostile Gulf. Or so 01 would like it described. Though it does not yet boast the manufacturing base or sheer power of cities on more established forge worlds, Forge 01 benefits from being a relatively new settlement.  

Constructed in the decades following the end of the quarantine of the Gulf, Forge 01 benefits from the foresight and planning of the wrights who constructed it and operates with a level of efficiency that the tech-priests of established forge worlds can only dream of. This novelty also attracts a number of nonconformist sects who would be rejected by the mainstream of the Cult Mechanicus, but are more than willing to swear allegiance to 01’s cause in exchange for protection.

The “Os”

“Debris warning is in effect for orbital layers A through F due to the recent bombing of Autostat Eighteen. Landing vouchers are available for every decaton of debris recovered. Damage due to negligence will not be reimbursed.” 

Serenhold Orbital Control announcement

While Serenhold itself is forbidden to all but the most well-connected outsiders, the void around the planet is a more welcoming environment, as long as they have something of value they are willing to part with. Thousands of independently operated orbital habitats fill the skies around the nascent forge world, each paying a hefty license directly into 01’s coffers. The Os fulfill a diverse variety of functions, from luxurious residences and hotels for wealthy nobles and businesspeople, to seedy gambling dens, pit-fighting arenas and huge retail storehouses brimming with equipment for explorers and colonists.

Since Serenhold sits on one of the few known stable warp routes between the Morana Gulf and the nearby civilized Perios sector, the Os are a big draw for independent traders, smugglers and seekers after rarities and curios. For people daring to leave the sectors, the Os are a taste of the wild frontier. To the people returning from the outer Gulf, the Os represent safety and civilization.

Serenhold Orbit

Serenity Base

“Technological antedvancements really get me in the mood…” 

Archaeoxenan Agathon Neverdead proposes an expedition

Despite the narrative 01 attempts to establish as being the original motive force behind the development of Serenhold, they were not the first to claim dominion over the world. The Adeptus Mechanicus presence in the system was originally established by an Explorator named Yotta Seren, who first founded an outpost on Serenhold’s moon. This base became a springboard for Mechanicus expeditions into Morana, and in many ways served as the seeding grain around which the rest of Serenhold’s civilization has been able to flourish.

Outsiders are welcome to enjoy the comforts of Serenity, but only by invitation by one of the members of Explorator Seren’s expedition. Among the luminaries that hold honorary memberships in Seren’s centuries-old base one may find Imperial nobles, Rogue Traders, archaeoxenans, and a significant percentage of other explorers across the Gulf. These figures come together for secret auctions where a bidder might find brand new planetary surveys, exclusive warp charts, archaeotech, and other even rarer treasures.

Other locations

Vode: A dismal planetoid barely massive enough to hold on to its feeble atmosphere. Vode is rich in metals and pockets of rare elements and esoteric fluids. As Serenhold bootstraps its manufacturing capacity, Vode has grown from a gloomy penal colony to a thriving mining outpost.

Athenium Eschaton: One of the more distinguished orbitals among the thousands which throng the Serenhold system. The Athenium is a temple-vault of the Sororitas Dialogous Order of the Quill. The Ecclesiarchy has spared no expense in making the orbital the perfect place for study and contemplation. It boasts an extremely comprehensive librarium archive, as well as a number of hydroponic gardens, viewing galleries and observatories. The fact the Athenium is often the first destination of ancient and forbidden lore from the reclaimed worlds of the Gulf is of great interest to the Inquisition, among other parties.

Tobius Engine Yards: The only fully operational Imperial shipyard in the Morana Gulf, the engine yards at Serenhold are owned by Wray Industries and subcontracted to their subsidiary maintenance and salvage enterprise – the Tobius Company. The shipyard is equipped to perform repairs and refits of ships up to battlecruiser hulls and complete place-forging of escort vessels. In addition, a fleet of warp-capable salvage vessels stand by to collect wrecks across the Gulf with no questions asked.





Factions

The Prime Factors

“By the will of the Omnissiah I do swear my flesh, my will and the loyalty of my lineage to Zero-One for all eternity.” 

Magos Voronoi Kassus swears allegiance to Zero-One

01 would like to pretend that they alone control every aspect of life and economic activity in the Serenhold system. Everything from their choice of moniker to their habit of only appearing in public with a fluttering entourage of hundreds of neurolinked servo-creatures and cherubim slaved directly to their cortex seems calculated to support this idea. While an effective piece of propaganda, it is a falsehood, and the Fabricator-General relies on a carefully managed inner circle referred to informally as the Prime Factors. Arranged by rank according to their likely loyalty and the extent of their power, this inner circle is dominated by lesser Magi (codename 02, 05, 07 etc…), though there is space under Zero-One’s wing for those outside the cult of Mars, including the CEO of Tobius Company (Alias “13”)

As with all high courts the ranks of the Factors are riven with intrigue and minor power struggles. While presenting a united front, 01 is particularly adept at playing ambitious minions off against each other. In the last decade alone six Factors have perished to assassinations ordered by other Factors, and a few have even been personally executed by 01 after bungling plots of their own.

The Serenites

“Never before have I seen someone employ the Rite of Pure Thought to expunge everything but their greed and ambition.” 

Explorator Ashura laments Zero-One’s avarice

While many Imperial institutions enjoy 01’s largesse and happily enforce the status quo of Serenhold’s politics, there is a large minority of dissidents who view the Fabricator General as a false tyrant to be overthrown. The Serenite conspiracy is an open secret, a malcontent cabal organised mostly by Explorators using Serenity Base as a staging post for expeditions into the Gulf. In much the same way as Rogue Traders are a law unto themselves beyond the Imperium’s borders, powerful Explorators are often able to flout the norms of the Adeptus Mechanicus in pursuit of their mission.

With deep pockets and a motley collection of allies throughout the Gulf and nearby civilised space, the Serenites attempt to frustrate 01’s megalomaniac schemes without going so far as to declare open war. A magnet for opportunists, rabble-rousers and political radicals within the hierarchy of the Mechanicum, the Serenite cause also attracts a large number of former minions of 01 who have been burned by the Fabricator General’s machiavellian treachery.

Imperial Navy Colonial Administration (IN:CA)

“I have twelve ships at my disposal to patrol twenty systems, half of which are pirate dens or xenos havens. I am certain you understand the phrase ‘cost-benefit analysis’ Lady Orja. What is the Imperial Navy’s benefit in this enterprise?”

Commodore Darius Vessenquin of Navy Task Force Tiresias

Until the region can be officially annexed by a neighbouring sector or establish its own government, Imperial assets in the Gulf answer to the Imperial Navy’s Colonial Administration, headquartered at a massive waystation orbital at the outer edges of the Serenhold system. Although officially under Navy authority under Rear-Admiral Opther Blix, the day-to-day running of the Colonial Administration falls to a committee of seven lords and officers of the Adeptus Terra. These are assigned by the governors of nearby sectors, each posturing to gain the upper hand in the future of the Gulf.

The Colonial Administration is responsible for protecting reincorporated planets in the Morana Gulf, collecting tithes, and ensuring that those tithes are put to effective use. As a consequence, the IN:CA has a significant number of fresh Imperial Guard regiments under its command, but too few ships to maintain supply lines for hostile deployments. The two Imperial Navy task forces assigned to the region are small and spread thin, and thus the administration is forced to rely on Rogue Traders and Explorator fleets to pursue the reconquest of Morana.

Other Factions

House von Kroyer: As a last-ditch effort to protect his dynasty from a more powerful rival house, Rogue Trader Kennoch von Kroyer is said to have recently sworn his family to serve 01 “for all eternity”. Whether or not the Lord Captain was desperate enough to declare eternal fealty, the von Kroyers have recently been a recurring presence in the Serenhold system, and are rumoured to be running covert missions for the Fabricator General.

Huvillite Sect: Magos Huville would have enjoyed a modest legacy in the annals of the Adeptus Mechanicus for his hand in the design of the workhorse Aspis-class light starship. He instead became a legend by leading a massive expedition into the Morana Gulf millenia before its quarantine status was lifted. Not a single member of the expedition returned and no trace of it has been found to date. To the commoners and laity of the Adeptus Mechanicus of Serenhold he has become a messianic figure, and a cult has formed to preach of the day he will return and lead humanity into a new golden age of technology.

VOID Corps: The Vode Orbital Interdiction Division is a quasi-private paramilitary company which raises massive battalions of expendable troops from among the penal miners of Vode. Only occasionally deployed outside the Serenhold system, they are usually fielded en mass in suicidal boarding actions against orbital stations which have fallen out of favour with Serenhold and the voidcraft of pirates and smugglers bold enough to operate within 01’s expanding sphere of influence. 





Game Hooks

Dark Heresy

Introduction: At first glance Serenhold might sport all the traditional trappings of an Imperial system, but in truth it’s a den of crime and corruption masked behind a veneer of entrepreneurial enterprise and righteous colonial exploitation. The local authorities are so eager to accept the charade of legitimacy to justify their own profiteering that they grow lax in their policing of societal threats, and pay little heed to criminals that seek refuge beyond Imperial borders. The Inquisition is almost forgotten here, so it falls to the Acolytes to serve as a reminder that there is no place that is beyond the reach of the Holy Ordos.

A major civilian orbital recently cut off contact with the rest of the system and every party sent to investigate has failed to return. The last voidship to dock with the orbital has been impounded by the Navy and the acolytes have been tasked with interrogating the ship’s officers about the mysterious cargo they delivered to the station, before investigating the installation themselves and putting and end to whatever alien or daemonic force may have been unleashed there.

A gang involved in the cold trade in alien technology has recently become so brazen and powerful that they have begun to use alien weapons to openly attack their rivals. The Inquisition becomes suspicious after a number of bodies are found shredded almost to the point of liquefaction by a xenos monofilament weapon. Eager to disabuse the cold traders of the notion that they are untouchable the acolytes are dispatched to bring them to justice. The cold traders have powerful clients, including Rogue Traders and Explorators, who have an interest in keeping their suppliers hidden. Even if they can be tracked down to their hidden base, surviving the eldar Deathspinner they’ve been terrorising the underworld with is easier said than done.  



a number of bodies are found shredded almost to the point of liquefaction by a xenos monofilament weapon


The Aethenium Eschaton of the Order Dialogous contains many secret libraria in which are housed dangerous and forbidden texts detailing alien science and strange, un-imperial rituals. Evidence has recently come to light that one particular tome (the only one of its kind) is coveted by a heretic sorcerer who has long eluded capture by the Inquisition. Fearing the sorcerer may already have infiltrated the Aethenium, the acolytes’ Inquisitor has charged them with entering the librarium-orbital under assumed identities and stopping the heretic before she can find her forbidden prize. The acolytes must tread carefully, if the heretic suspects they are onto her she may strike at them with fell sorcery, or simply flee the system and continue to plague the Imperium even without the tome she desires. 

Only War

Introduction: The players are thrust into the mag-boots of the downtrodden and poorly equipped Void Corps penal battalions. Every assignment is a suicide mission, equipment is unreliable even by the standards of the Imperial Guard, and even if you survive the chance of a reprieve are minimal. Still, it’s more exciting than swinging a pick at moon rocks all day… 

Before they’re even organised into regiments, the convicts who have been volunteered for Void Corps must first pass “basic training”. This involves being assigned to squads, handed barely-functional small arms and excavation equipment and being dumped into barren mining tunnels devoid of atmosphere to fight to the death with a number of rival squads. Those that survive have the privilege of “graduating” to active service in the corps, and even more dangerous missions. 



being dumped into barren mining tunnels devoid of atmosphere to fight to the death with a number of rival squads


The owner of a large manufacturing orbital has recently fallen out of favour with Zero-One and the Void Corps has been tasked with evicting them without doing too much damage to valuable industrial infrastructure. The orbital’s owner is now fortified in the facility, protected by a large number of highly trained mercenaries. A plan has been devised where the Corpsmen will be smuggled in aboard a materials shipment from Vode. The manufactoria are still in operation, so the players must successfully navigate the large and deadly production floors to achieve their objectives.  

Following the capture of the industrial orbital, evidence suggests its former owner had been covertly backed by the Serenite faction operating from Serenhold’s nameless moon. By way of retaliation 01 would like some damage done to the private base of an upstart Explorator but is unwilling to commit any but the most expendable troops to the task. In addition to being located in a canyon on an icy moon with an almost non-existent atmosphere, the Explorator’s base is protected by several crack squads of skitarii. Destroying or capturing the base is likely out of the question, but the Corpsmen may be able to do some structural damage before they escape (or more likely, die in the attempt).

Rogue Trader

Introduction: Serenhold is the natural staging post for a crew of ambitious Rogue Traders. Whether it is the start of a new campaign or a new foothold in an ongoing one, the Explorers will find numerous factions and leads to explore here. The dynasty may be an existing fixture in the Gulf, or invited to the orbital offices of another Rogue Trader to discuss opportunities and partnerships.

Explorers who are eager to reclaim lost human worlds in the name of the Emperor will find eager supporters in the Colonial Administration’s chief committee. They have freshly-drafted regiments from the recently reconquered Vanshaya standing ready for deployment, but the IN:CA will demand a proof of ability before seconding a regiment to the Explorers. Commodore Vessenquin of the Imperial Navy recently reported a new pirate coalition forming at the rogues’ haven system known as Okhropir. If the Explorers can capture a few officers from this new organization and bring them back to the Imperial Navy for questioning, the Colonial Administration will be eager to lend them the manpower they need.

The system is abuzz with the rumour that a cache has been recovered from the ill-fated and mysteriously vanished Huville Expedition. Wild stories claim that it contains charts of stable warp routes through the Saintstorms, planetary surveys of yet unheard of human worlds in the Gulf, the trail of an STC, and even a recording of Magos Huville himself. Whatever the truth of the contents may be, one lucky group will know for certain after the auction on Serenity Base concludes. If the Explorers wish to have a chance to get their hands on the cache, they must get invitations to Serenity and win a bidding war that is certain to get hot – especially with Huville’s fanatical adherents so close by.



reliable auguries foretelling that a space hulk known as the Wandering Siren will break warp near the world Widald, not far from Serenhold


Eager to strike a deal with some ambitious newcomers, Wray Industries and the Tobius Salvaging Company have an endeavour that requires a capable and daring group. A Tobius executive will inform the Explorers that they have reliable auguries foretelling that a space hulk known as the Wandering Siren will break warp near the world Widald, not far from Serenhold. The hulk is known to be an amalgamation of Imperial hulls dating back to the Psyren Scourge and possibly as far back as the Reign of Blood. If the Explorers can catch the hulk, board it, and halt it, Tobius wish to break it up to salvage its rare hulls. Anything that is not part of a starship superstructure is free for the Explorers to loot, if they can pry it from the hands of whatever creatures dwell aboard the hulk…





Notes for GMs

Serenhold is a facade. Significant effort and investment has been made to sell the illusion that this domain is a part of the Imperium, and it is such an alluring lie that it’s easy to forget that Zero-One alone is lord and master here. In truth, this is how most Imperial colonial efforts operate and the local chapters of Imperial institutions know it well, but Serenhold attracts the types of people who thrive in the murky gray depths of false legitimacy. Adventures set at Serenhold should be a constant struggle against institutional corruption, two-facedness, and crime-by-other-names enduring simply because the criminals pay rent to 01.

Rogue Trader players should find this climate to be their ideal element: presence of familiar institutions to be leveraged, and the extra-territorial freedom to pursue any ambition. However, the players are not first on the scene and if they don’t make a quick name for themselves by ruthless cunning they are liable to become pawns in someone else’s web of schemes.

The authorities operating out of Serenhold are likely to be more pragmatic than their in-sector cousins, with fewer nepotistic quagmires to get stuck in. But those stationed out here are most likely to be either too incompetent or too ambitious for sector politics. It’s never going to be clear if an official at Serenhold is acting on Imperial interests or their own – Zero-One least of all.

If you are using Serenhold as a campaign hub, it’s an ideal place to make contact with the Ranamanda Syndicate, the Protectorate of Vanshaya, or the Rogue Trader dynasties of Vipinicus and von Kroyer. Once the players have made a name for themselves, they may even be roped into the Cesk Expedition.

Themes

  • The Last Bastion of Civilisation
  • The Thin Veneer of Civil Society
  • Abuse of Absolute Power




Aspis-class Corvette

Designed by the singular Magos Huville of the Forge World Morningstar in 994M36, the Aspis Corvette was made to serve as a convoy escort in the Perios sector, protecting valuable shipments from the predations of separatist raiders. Its small size and light armour makes the Aspis cheap and fast to manufacture, and it compensates its defenses with a set of Morningstar-pattern auxiliary void shield projectors.

Dimensions: 1.5 km long, 0.4 km abeam at fins approx.
Mass: 6.8 megatonnes approx.
Crew: 17,000 crew, approx.
Accel: 7.0 gravities max sustainable acceleration.

Speed: +5
Maneuverability: +20
Detection: +10
Hull Integrity: 30
Armour: 12
Turret Rating: 1
Space: 32
SP: 31
Weapon Capacity: Dorsal 1, Prow 1

Easy to Repair: When affecting long term repairs, this ship may repair an additional +2 Hull Integrity if the repairs succeed.

Integral Component: The Aspis always has one Huville-Pattern Auxiliary Shield Projector (already accounted for in the ship’s Space)

Huville-Pattern Auxiliary Shield Projector

The Huville-Pattern shield projector adds 1 void shield to a single facing of the ship. As a free action in combat, once per round, the shield can be redirected towards a different facing with a successful (+0) Tech-Use test.

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