Aranato is a red giant, a star entering its death throes. It has ballooned as its hydrogen supplies have dwindled away, absorbing the system's four innermost planets. One inhabited world remains in orbit around Aranato, the former agri-world Nodus. As its parent star has cooled, Nodus has entered an ice age, transforming it from endless green fields of crops to a blizzard-wracked ball of ice.

The people of Nodus are desperate to leave their dying world, and for generations have taken up any offer of transport off-planet. For most this has been through conscription into the Navy and Guard, while some have snuck out as stowaways on visiting chartist vessels. This desperation has been noted by those that would exploit them, such as slavers, as well as darker characters. A number of Chaos-worshipping cults have sprung up across the planet, offering salvation and a route off-world, for a price.