- "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
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".
Life on a Hive World
Hive Cities are ancient constructions, each century slowly growing wider across the barren ground and higher into the polluted air. They dominate worlds where the local environment has all but collapsed from long years of mining, harvesting, and waste dumping. These are nearly sealed ecosystems, where billions of people live stacked on top of each other in the close confines of what is in essence a great metal tomb. A hive worlder lives out his life never seeing the sky, never knowing what the surface of his world looks like, and often never even leaving the city level on which he was born. Most Hive Worlds have scores of these constructs, each existing in isolation from each other, rising up from the toxic fog and cursed earth of the worlds like monuments to its demise. Hive worlders are often born into a house or family with their vocation decided. Thus they work endlessly at their task in the factorums and industrial habs of their hive, producing goods to be shipped off-world, or maintaining the many systems of the hive so that its population might continue to survive and another generation be born to take their place.
Nearly everything within a hive is recycled and reused, and few things are ever wasted. The air a hive worlder breathes, the water he drinks, and the food he eats likely all has once passed through the bodies of countless others, endlessly restored to be consumed once again. When a hive worlder dies his duty to the hive and house are not done, and most hives reconstitute their dead for the resources they can provide. All of a hive worlder’s possessions, from the hab room in which he lives to the clothes on his back, likewise come from those before him, the dead gifting the living with what little they have in a continuation of cycle of hive life. Even in a system where the bulk of hive residents must subsist on what meagre resources can be divided among a billion hungry mouths and shivering bodies, there remains a definite division of class. From the spires of the hive top, where the Highborn enjoy all the wealth the Imperium has to offer, down through the heads of the guilds and houses that can still hope to live in relative comfort, to the workers and dregs, where resources become less abundant. The lower in a hive the more decayed and dangerous it becomes, the detritus of billions drifting down to rest among the filth far below. The rule of law breaks down into the depths, where there is no system to govern what pitiful resources remain. These are wild and deadly domains where some hivers come to escape the ridge structure of their lives, but usually find only death and despair among the mutants and violent gangs that lurk in these dark worlds below.
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
|Amarah Prime||Segmentum Tempestus||Orpheus Sector||Capitoline Sub-Sector||Amarah System||Unknown|
|Archaos||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Drusus Marches||Unknown||Unknown|
|Armageddon||Segmentum Solar||Armageddon Sector||Armageddon Sub-sector||Armageddon System||Unknown|
|Aurelia||Segmentum Ultima||Korianis Sector||Sub-sector Aurelia||Aurelian System||Unknown|
|Badab Primaris||Ultima Segmentum||Badab Sector||Unknown||Badab System||5,170,000,000|
|Fenksworld||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Josian Reach||Fenksworld System||22,000,000,000|
|Gehenna Prime||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Gehenna System||Unknown|
|Hermetica||Segmentum Solar||Chonma Sector||Unknown||Hermetica System||Unknown|
|Ichar IV||Segmentum Ultima||Unknown||Unknown||Ichar System||500,000,000,000|
|Jones Crispin World||Ultima Segmentum||Charadon Sector||Unknown||Eydolim System||Unknown|
|Landunder||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Malfian Sub-Sector||Landunder System||1,000,000,000|
|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|
|Mordian||Segmentum Obscurus||Unknown||Unknown||Mordian System||Unknown|
|Necromunda||Segmentum Solar||Unknown||Unknown||Necromunda System||Unknown|
|Nonimax||Segmentum Pacificus||Sabbat Worlds||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Nova Sulis||Segmentum Solar||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Praedis Zeta||Ultima Segmentum||Vidar Sector||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Scintilla||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Golgenna Reach||Scintilla System||25,000,000,000|
|Solomon||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Golgenna Reach||Unknown||25,000,000,000|
|Targus VIII||Segmentum Obscurus||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Terra||Segmentum Solar||Sector Solar||Sol Sub-sector||Sol System||Unknown|
|Temperis||Segmentum Pacificus||Unknown||Unknown||Cabulis System||Unknown|
|Verghast||Segmentum Pacificus||Sabbat Worlds||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
- Codex: Crimson Slaughter (6th Edition), "Echoes of War - Regallus Under Siege," pp. 153-156
- Codex: Dark Eldar (7th Edition), "Dark Eldar Raid on Greyshroud," pp. 46-48
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 1st Codex)
- Codex: Imperial Knights (6th Edition) (Ebook), pg. 44
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pg. 25
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 46
- Dark Heresy: Beta Core Rulebook (2nd Edition) (RPG), pg. 25
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 249
- Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 228-229
- Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 108
- Dataslate: Storm Wing, pp. 8-9
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 43
- Hard Choices: What Happened on Algol? by Dan Abnett (Graphic Novel)
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition, pg. 8
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 15-16
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 31, 40, 48-49, 53-54, 56, 60-61, 87, 109, 119, 127, 136
- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 58
- Index Chaotica: Possessed, "Daemonic Steeds - Screams of the Dying"
- The Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book) by Dan Abnett, pg. 56
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 212-213
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 153, 385-399
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Warlords of the Dark Millennium: Khârn the Betrayer, "An Eight-Fold Path"
- Blood Gorgons (Novel) by Henry Zou
- Necropolis (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Hidden Depths (Short Story) by Sandy Mitchell
- Ragnar's Claw (Novel) by William King
- Victories of the Space Marines (Anthology), "The Long Games at Carcharias," by Rob Sanders
- Fantasy Flight Games - The Calixis Sector (Dead Link)
- Games Workshop - Warhammer 40,000: Campaign Weekend - Vidar's Fate: Praedis Zeta (PDF Download)
- Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon (Video Game)
|General||Dead World • Death World • Desert World • Ice World • Jungle World • Ocean World|
|Imperium||Adeptus Astartes Homeworld • Agri-World • Armoury World • Cardinal World • Cemetery World • Civilised World • Feral World • Feudal World • Forbidden World • Forge World • Fortress World • Frontier World • Hive World • Industrial World • Knight World • Mining World • Pleasure World • Penal World • Research Station • Shrine World|
|Xenos||Craftworld • Crone World • Exodite World • Maiden World • Ork World • Tau Empire • Tomb World • Xenos World|