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"New to the hive my noble sir? No, don’t take me amiss! I’m here to help you, see? Outworlder are we? I can tell of course, not just the accent you understand, or the dress. Not used to the crowds are we sir? Getting buffeted and pushed along like that? Confused? Lost? Why if I hadn’t found you you’d be dipped and clipped in the blink of a scarab’s eye! You’ll feel better out of the press, come along, this isn’t a safe level you know?! What a fine specimen you are sir, if you don’t mind me saying… ‘long of limb and clean of skin’ as we say in the inhumation business… this way sir, down here, just one more stairwell… I know some friends of mine that will take to you right off, well, parts of you anyway..."
— Vargo "Redjack" Heit, Hive Sibellus Viscerator
Hive World

A Hive World

Hive city

A Hive City

Hive world City

Another view of a Hive City

A Hive World is the most populous type of Imperial planet, of which there are approximately 32,380 currently catalogued by the Administratum in the Imperium of Man. The populations of these planets are so great that the people live in huge urban arcologies called hive cities, truly immense, self-contained, many-layered structures that reach high into the sky, each housing billions of individuals. Hive Worlds often provide much-needed industrial labour, their manufactoria producing mountains of war materiel and other goods to meet the Imperial tithe's demands. Most Hive Worlds started out as relatively hospitable places to live but have become severely polluted, the areas outside the hives reduced to ash wastes or radioactive desert by the never-ceasing industry of the great cities. Equally dangerous can be the hives themselves. The crime-ridden, poverty-stricken areas, almost always found in the most polluted and decrepit lower levels of the under-hive, are home to violent gangs, criminals and assorted scum as well as mutants and heretical cults who hide there from the authorities. It has been said that the sacrifice of over a million Imperial soldiers is worth "one day's Hive World production" in weapons and armour.

Perhaps even more valuable is what at first glance seems to be a byproduct of the monolithic hive city's design. The population of any given world approximately doubles every 100 years. With each hive housing between 10 to 100 billion people and 5 to 20 hives per planet, the sheer number of Imperial citizens on a Hive World is staggering. And each of those citizens is a potential soldier for the Emperor's already uncountably vast armies. Hives manufacture far more than mere steel and silica; they are vast factories for the most useful possible resource, people. Almost every recruit into the Imperial Guard from a Hive World will already know how to handle a weapon. Hive Worlds also serve to populate newly discovered planets. Imperial citizens are gathered from various Hive Worlds (willingly or unwillingly) by the Administratum and shipped off to distant colonies first discovered by the Adeptus Mechanicus' Explorator fleets.

In common with most other Imperial worlds, Hive Worlds are often based on a very obvious class system, with a ruling noble class and a bureaucratic middle class, although with populations so tightly packed there always develops a lower working class that often fuels violent street gangs. As can be expected, the upper classes are situated in the affluent upper areas of the hive cities, whilst the middle classes are situated in the middle areas,and the working classes are packed together in the lower areas. The very bottom sections of a hive city, the Underhive, are often areas where the underclasses and criminals are sent to be forgotten about and anarchy rules.

Some extensively developed Hive Worlds do not even consist of various enclosed arcologies surrounded by wasteland, jungle, ice, or plains. These Hive Worlds are completely urbanised and stacked with hundreds of layers of arcologies, covering the entirety of the planet, effectively becoming an ecumenopolis. Terra is an example of this type of "Super Hive World".

Riot, Revolt and Calamity

That any civilisation is “three missed meals away from anarchy” is an adage that has held true since long before the Imperium and applies doubly in the case of a Hive World. In any given Hive, millions must live together in jostling proximity, utterly dependant on a complex and gargantuan infrastructure for the mere basics of daily life such as food, power, light and even clean air. If widespread rioting, unrest or serious disorder is allowed to ferment, it is possible that the threads binding the hive together may be broken and millions may suffer as a result. It is said by some that this is one reason why the phenomena of the “underhive” is allowed to exist in some form or another on most Hive Worlds, as a vital sinkhole for the city’s malice, sin and discord.

Despite unceasing vigilance and totalitarian control, catastrophic unrest does sometimes occur in even the most tightly ordered of hives, and the history of the Calixis Sector is littered with such calamities: Fenksworld’s infamous Tyburn food-tax riots saw Volg’s population almost double inside a year (before natural attrition reduced it again in the following few months), while the two-decade long period of petty revolts and near civil anarchy caused by the misrule of House Koba on Malfi left near a billion dead and saw the final ruination of what had been one of the most powerful noble families in the sector. In more recent times even the mighty and prosperous Hive Sibellus has not proved to be immune. When heavy-handed Magistratum tactics stirred up a hornet’s nest of trouble during what came to be known as the “Reinholt Blackouts”, open warfare broke out between the Magistratum and criminal gangs, spilling over from the slums and no-go zones into the hive’s infrastructure. Power was cut to several dozen middle-hive districts for days—fear and anarchy took hold and tens of thousands died, with whole regions gutted by raging fires. Many sections of the hive, damaged by the blackouts, remain as burnt-out ruins, collapsing into the underhive; they are now the haunt of dregs and worse. Also as a consequence of the rioting and thanks to their loss of face and perceived failure, the Sibellus Magistratum has become even more brutal in the execution of their duties.

Notable Hive Worlds

Planet Name Segmentum Sector Sub-Sector System Population
Arcadia Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Armageddon Segmentum Solar Armageddon Sector Armageddon Sub-sector Armageddon System Unknown
Aurelia Segmentum Ultima Korianis Sector Sub-sector Aurelia Aurelian System Unknown
Avellorn Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Coronis Agathon Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown 120,000,000,000
Fenksworld Segmentum Obscurus Calixis Sector Josian Reach Fenksworld System 22,000,000,000
Gehenna Prime Unknown Unknown Unknown Gehenna System Unknown
Ichar IV Segmentum Ultima Unknown Unknown Ichar System 500,000,000,000
Ironfound Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kado Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Landunder Segmentum Obscurus Calixis Sector Malfian Sub-Sector Landunder System 1,000,000,000
Lastrati Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Malfi Segmentum Obscurus Calixis Sector Malfian Sub-Sector Malfian System 23,000,000,000
Medusa V Segmentum Ultima Unknown Unknown Medusa System
Meridian Segmentum Ultima Korianis Sector Sub-sector Aurelia Unknown 32,000,000,000
Minea Segmentum Ultima Unknown Unknown Unknown 154,000,000,000
Mordian Segmentum Obscurus Unknown Unknown Mordian System Unknown
Necromunda Segmentum Solar Unknown Unknown Necromunda System Unknown
Scintilla Segmentum Obscurus Calixis Sector Golgenna Reach Scintilla System 25,000,000,000
Terra Segmentum Solar Sector Solar Sol Sub-sector Sol System Unknown
Temperis Segmentum Pacificus Unknown Unknown Cabulis System Unknown
Vanaheim Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Verghast Segmentum Pacificus Sabbat Worlds Unknown Unknown Unknown

Sources

  • Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 249
  • Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 108
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition)
  • Necropolis (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Hidden Depths (Short Story) by Sandy Mitchell

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