- "Ours is the perfect life. All know their place, and all know their duty to their lords, vassals, and of course to the Emperor. All are surely comforted that this will be the same, both the next day and the next century."
- —Federica VI, Lady Beneicia of Castillo
A Feudal World is a planet into which the Imperium has not seen fit to introduce most modern technology, although the advent of certain advanced medical technologies such as basic antiseptic agents is often an exception so as to keep such worlds' labour productivity high in the face of the odd plague or epidemic. Feudal Worlds are defined as those planets of the Imperium that have developed late Iron Age civilisations that are moderately technologically advanced while still remaining pre-industrial, having usually progressed as far as to discover or re-discover rudimentary gunpowder weapons. These planets often possess widespread and advanced farming economies and typically have a population of 10,000,000 to 500,000,000 people. Feudal Worlds are similar culturally and technologically to Terran societies in the Late Middle Ages or Renaissance periods of the Age of Progress. Generally, Feudal Worlds will have little direct political or economic interference from the Imperium and be required to pay only low planetary tithes. Imperial Planetary Governors of Feudal Worlds will generally live on a space station in orbit of the planet to avoid altering the cultural balance, only descending to the surface to deal with heresy, rebellion or rampant mutation. These planets are populated by folk who have lost access to all but the most basic of technologies and maintain Iron Age or early Gunpowder Age societies. Farming, simple labour-intensive machines such as pulleys, windmills and the like are known, but propelled flight, automatic weaponry and powered vehicles are likely to be rare or non-existent. These worlds are often said to be the most politically harmonious of all the planets of the Imperium, because their peoples know their place.
Life on an Feudal World Edit
Feudal worlders live on planets deined by two pronounced aspects, the first and most dominant being a technological level suspended far below many other Imperial societies. On many of these worlds, gunpowder-based devices represent the extent of advancement. Ranks of crude blackpowder firearms and legions of mounted warriors on the charge might make for the ultimate weapons on their battlefields. The other deining aspect of feudal worlds is how their natives live, all part of networks of obligations and allegiances throughout a tribe or other societal grouping. These ties remain throughout generations, all members born, raised, and dying within their fixed stations. Like their technology, feudal worlders exist in a stagnated state. In many ways their society is similar to the Imperium itself, a welcome familiarity after the shock many natives of such worlds face as they become aware of the wider society of Mankind.
Feudal worlds are commonly thought to be backward, and compared to much of the Imperium, this is true. Their technology is certainly primitive, with beasts and human muscle providing the power to till fields, raise protective battlements, and transport goods and people. Their technology can also dictate how they fight; with gunpowder as the pinnacle of weaponry, personal combat might dominate as warriors seek glory against honourable foes. Despite these limitations, feudal worlders are capable of great feats of engineering, such as complex aqueducts or gigantic statuary. They might also develop alchemical potions, healing herbologies, biological poisons, or techniques in animal training that could surpass those of many other societies.
All within a feudal world owe allegiance to those above them, from lowly peasants to elite warriors to the local ruler, who bows before the world’s assigned planetary governor. This allegiance can take the form of providing food, armed support, material supplies, or other aid on demand. In turn, each ruler has obligations to those below him, such as protection from external threats, lands to work for personal use, and other benefits. This reliance on societal bonds of obedience and loyalty between members can provide structured governance across the years, lending stability to an otherwise harsh and demanding life. This helps populations balance themselves in turn; unlike many planets within the Imperium, feudal worlds are generally self-sufficient, with populations low enough that they can support themselves through agriculture and animal husbandry. Like other aspects of feudal world life, the methods used might appear primitive, but are often effective and well-suited for the natives and their planet.
Feudal worlders live a life of security. All know their role in society, and would rarely think of questioning this order. That it does not change from one generation to the next, from one century to the next, is of little notice or importance. Such is life on a feudal world, as it is across the Imperium itself. Feudal worlders can range from peasants expert at raising crops, to artisans and masons responsible for providing shelter, to martial defenders of the realms, and more. Following their hereditary paths, few stray from what their forefathers have done for generations before them, or would even think of that possibility. One thing they all have in common, though, is an ingrained trust in the obligations and allegiances that tie together all levels of their culture. Such strong cultural backgrounds make them ideal for adoption into service to the Imperium, which operates along similar structures on a galactic scale.
Most feudal worlds owe minor agricultural or mineral tithes, with raw manpower their most important Imperial offering. Feudal worlds often experience culture shock when the Imperium contacts them; once this is overcome and the threats humanity faces are translated into forms the natives can understand, they can become strong sources for Imperial Guard recruitment. Mounted feudal warriors, used in combat on steeds ranging from near-Terran equines, reptilian lizards, or huge, flightless avians, provide for some of the most famous shock troops in the Imperium. Feudal worlders often venerate personal combat and honour, and some of their planets might become recruiting grounds or even fortress-monasteries for Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes.
War is not the only area feudal worlders might excel at, for without advanced technologies, their reliance on memorisation and mental organisation can make for strong fittings within the Adeptus Administratum. Many turn their devotion to the newly-revealed Imperial Creed, displaying veneration sufficient to join the Ecclesiarchy or even possibly the Adepta Sororitas. Despite unauthorised pogroms and burnings, witches are still captured as per Imperial dictate. Those brought to the Black Ships, though, might go on to serve their Emperor directly, or provide aid against the very forces that spawned their unholy and unwelcome powers.
Notable Feudal WorldsEdit
|Adderoth||Segmentum Obscurus||Askellon Sector||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 250
- Dark Heresy: Enemies Within (2nd Edition) (RPG), pp. 26-27