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Hive world Syracuse, the Grey Halo, Home of the Great Houses

Body: Large
Gravity: Normal
Atmospheric presence: Moderate
Atmospheric composition: Tainted
Climate: Temperate world
Habitability: Limited ecosystems
Orbital features:
  • Port Sempect
System: Tangenia

"There is timing in everything. Timing in strategy cannot be mastered without a great deal of practice.There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord. Similarly, there is timing in the Way of the merchant, in the rise and fall of capital. All things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this."

-Calculus Logi Calvet

Backstreet on Syracuse

Syracuse, also known as the 'two-faced planet' is the capital of the Onus Region and home to the oldest and largest hive city in this half of the sector. It's unique orbit around the sun means one half of the planet is locked in perpetual darkness and crippling cold, whilst the other half is a burnt-up irradiated wasteland. There is a tiny strip of  land running pole to pole between the two extremes which early colonists found to be very habitable and fertile.

This, combined with the lack of tectonic shifts or extreme weather meant that settling on Syracuse proved relatively straightforward, and as migrant workers flocked to the growing planet for work, more and more of this strip became populated. Over the centuries, a vast hive city was constructed, the likes of which had never been seen before. It completely circumnavigates the globe, and from space perfectly bifurcates the sickly-looking black and white world. The city had become known as the Grey Halo.

Life in the Grey Halo[]

Trading district in Syracuse

Like many places in the Imperium, there is a strict feudal hierarchy of bickering nobles keeping everyone in their place. Unlike other places in the Imperium however, the great houses of Syracuse enjoy a level of admiration and respect reserved only for soldiers and saints. They have a code of honour that applicable to the most venerated noble matriarch and the lowliest commoner. New family members must earn their name by performing great deeds for their house. They even have an open recruitment policy - if any man or woman can best a noble's aide at their craft, they take their place and become a retainer in the Great House. Some  families make a living by breeding the best fighters, scientists or mystics, and swathes of noble retinues will be of common birth.

Some seek their fame and fortune in the Palaestra Lucha, a gladiatorial mix of blood sport and theater. Millions flock to the Shogunate, the largest Palaestra exodrome in the sector, to watch the event every year. Although thousands apply for the rigorous and back-breaking training of the Palaestea, only a handful will make it through with their minds and bodies intact.

Ash Garrison[]

Ash Garrison PDF of Syracuse

Those that don't make it into a family's inner circle sign up to the Ashigaru PDF, or Ash Garrison, where their martial skills are refined over the course of many years. They are as skilled with a polearm as with a lasgun, and their equipment is heavily subsidized by the Great Houses.

Some are shipped off to deal with far away threats where their combined arms tactics of rifle and spear makes for a formidable threat against any foe. Some draft into the service of one of the Great Houses as loyal foot soldiers, tackling uprisings, gang warfare and noble squabbles. Those that don't return to their day job find themselves under the employ of one of many mercenary organisations who protect the interests of the Halo Merchants.

The Two-Faced Planet[]

Assassins on Syracuse

These unscrupulous vagabonds set up to grease the wheels of the fearsome industry of the Great Houses, and have a notorious capacity for deceit. Some suggest that the nickname for Syracuse originated from this stark contrast between the honourable noble houses and the villains that run their books.  

It is a necessary evil however, as each House's vast holdings are too much to deal with by themselves, and as the family members are normally out getting hands-on with things, someone is needed to deal with the day-to-day. Their prices are extortionate, but the families know they are worth the cost for the return they provide. They just need to make sure their offer is the biggest on the table, as a halo merchant's loyalty is easy to buy.

A Syracusian noble gives in to temptation

The nobles are not perfect, however, as much as they have crafted their image to seem so. They wage small wars against each other over assets off-world, away from the public eye, and all the families have legions of less-than-honourable spies, agitators, arsonists and assassins under their command. None more famous than the Monomi of the Southern Court, "the ones who see", although their whereabouts is a mystery and their existence dismissed by the nobles that use them. Despite it being a viable tactic, a Syracusian noble would never want to be caught shaming their House. To do this is to go against family, and a noble with no family is nothing at all.

House Mori[]

Expert traders and merchants, House Mori were the first to map the stars in the Onus Region and with strong ties to the Imperial Navy and Navigator houses, they rule the heavens. Even being distantly related is enough to secure safe passage on any chartist vessel in the sector as any ship’s master worth his voidsalt knows to keep in their good books. Consequently, however, they have the smallest planetside holdings as most of their assets are skyward, and outside the voidships and the tradelanes you would be hard pressed to find anyone who had even heard of the name Mori.

House Hojo[]

Looking down on Syracuse slums

The oldest of the Great Houses, the Hojo can draw their lineage back to the planet’s origins and even claim to have

laid the founding brick. They are master builders, architects and wrights whose designs and constructions are found all across the Carthax Sector. They build Arbites Precinct-fortresses and Imperial Guard garrisons, noble castles and colonial hab-blocks, to name a fraction. Yet despite other nobles pandering them for discounts on their next project, House Hojo remain humble and cautious. After all, a single misplaced rivet can collapse a star ship, and a single rotten foundation beam can bring a house tumbling to the ground.

House Chosokabe[]

For as long as man has created great walls to hide behind, his neighbour has needed ways to reduce them to rubble. The mighty siege engines of House Chosokabe bellow defiance to the enemies of mankind all across the Imperium, producing everything from the humble Griffin mortar to the terrifying Colossus cannon. There is no greater leveller of class and rank as when the roar of a Chosokabe Earthshaker elicits cheers of joy from infantryman and general alike. The House not only produce them but train extensively with them, often accompanying siege regiments as Calculus Logi and Lexmechanics, utilising their incredible understanding of numbers and ballistics to calculate trajectories, distances and angles at phenomenal speeds.

Syracusian Noble PCs in Dark Heresy[]

Syracusian Regulators examine a murder victim

The Great Houses of Syracuse do not remain great through idle spending and resting on laurels like so many other noble households do - the extremely delicate balance of power keeps immodesty in check. Young or old, strong or smart, a promising swordsman or a shameful debaucherer, it matters not to your family - they are all equally worthless traits until you have proven yourself. You are out in the universe, either by your own volition or against it, dedicated to doing something worthy of your House and return to Syracuse victorious.

In order to create Noble characters from Syracuse, use the Noble Born template from The Inquisitor's Handbook, but replace the Supremely Connected and Wealth traits with those described here.

Tapestry of Deeds[]

Family members are expected to contribute deeds to their House tapestry before they can draw any resources from the family coffers.

Effect: The character starts with double the number of Thrones, but must use their own Career's monthly income until they can perform a deed worthy of their House. This is normally something that increases their family's influence, resources or wealth in some way, particular to their House speciality. Once this is done, they must return to Syracuse to stitch their victory into their House tapestry themselves, and subsequently count as Noble for monthly income.

Honour Your House[]

Syracusian serf dons his makeshift armour

The balance of power between the Great Houses of Syracuse is only maintained with tight monopolies on trades, services and specialities across the sector. Pick one Great House from the list below and apply all Skills and Talents to your character.

1. House Mori[]

Benefit: Start with the Peer (Imperial Navy) Talent and the Scholastic Lore (Astromancy) Skill, then choose either Trade (Merchant) or Trade (Cartographer) Skill.

2. House Hojo[]

Benefit: Start with the Peer (Nobility) and Foresight Talents. In addition, start with the Trade (Wright) and Scholastic Lore (Imperial Creed) Skills.

3. House Chosokabe[]

Benefit: Start with the Logis Implant and Peer (Imperial Guard) Talents, and the Common Lore (Imperial Guard) and Scholastic Lore (Numerology) Skills.