- "It was madness given form, where war never ended."
- — Inquisitor Ronan Borel
Centuries ago, the Tuchulcha system was wiped from the star charts. Cut off from the rest of the galaxy by the rages of the Pandaemonium, the system succumbed to the ravages of the Warp, becoming forever home to the forces of the Dark Gods. Like a world trapped behind glass, Tuchulcha appears to be stuck out of time and space. Orbital factories and space stations hang in orbit above the planet, rumoured to hold the riches plundered by the Rogue Trader houses that initially funded the expeditions to the worlds beyond this system. Foolish are those who dare pluck these treasures, though. The world roils and surges as the Dark Powers battle for dominance, but they eagerly pause to toy with mortal visitors. While many consider the planet unreachable, Tuchulcha is far from that. The Warp ebbs and flows around Tuchulcha and it is often thrust back into reality, a waiting house of horrors for any who dare to land there.
Every voidfarer in Askellon Sector knows the sorrowful tale of the doomed world of Tuchulcha; the account of House Roth’s folly and destruction is a cautionary tale throughout the sector. What most people do not know, however, is that this devastation was caused by one man—a man who now attempts to rule the blackened lands of Tuchulcha in the name of Tzeentch.
Tuchulcha was initially just a frontier staging area for a large-scale exploratory fleet destined for what lay beyond known space, one involving a number of Rogue Trader houses. Erravan Roth, a minor son in the Rogue Trader House of Roth, became obsessed with the expedition. In an effort to secure a greater place for himself in the House and increase his personal glory, Erravan explored all options available, no matter how forbidden. One of these led him to the Changer of Ways. Tzeentch opened many new avenues for the young captain, granting him wondrous insights to the multitude of worlds that lay beyond and the massive riches they held. Roth used his newfound knowledge to manipulate and alter many of the plans for the expedition, all things that would further the will of the Great Architect.
When all the pieces were in place, the Pandaemonium fluctuated, engulfing Tuchulcha and the fleet, and destroying most of the ships. Those that were not destroyed were condemned to a life of eternal battle and suffering on Tuchulcha, all part of Tzeentch’s grand plans. Some say that there were warnings, that the Emperor’s Tarot revealed that the fleet was doomed to fail, but no one paid any heed to these ramblings.
Since the loss of the expedition, Erravan Roth now serves Tzeentch on the world of Tuchulcha. Now known as the Daemon Prince Erravan the Schemer—his new daemonic name, of course, utterly unpronounceable and a carefully hidden secret—it leads the forces of Tzeentch in battle against the legions of Khorne, who also battle for this dark world. Whether the former captain knew before the fleet departed of the imminent doom at Tuchulcha, only the herald and Tzeentch can say.
The space above Tuchulcha is now filled with the abandoned remnants of the grand fleet. Refuelling depots, orbital shipyards, and other smaller stations float above the world. Some of these hold great riches, bays filled with treasures brought back by the initial explorers who first set off for the unknown lands. Tales of these waiting treasures have been the stuff of legends for centuries, and almost all captains who travel in Askellon know of these lost stations. While few are foolhardy enough to attempt to seek out these items, there are those who would risk anything to gain access.
The largest of the lost islands above Tuchulcha is Errant Station. Created as a refuelling and resupply facility, it is now the domain of Nurgle and his minions. Walls, floors, and ceilings—every inch of the station—are now home to pestilence hidden behind a veneer of normalcy, and Nurglings caper across the station looking to bring new blessings in the Plague Father's name. The station holds much of the initial treasure found in the worlds beyond Tuchulcha, a tempting destination for those who value riches over their own sanity. Plaguebearers endlessly count these riches, serving as tallymen and attributing a new plague to each of the riches, ensuring that any items leaving the station continue to spread the glory of Nurgle.
Long before Errant Station fell, a treasure was discovered that helped to seal its fate. Today, deep in the heart of the station, an ancient door sits in the centre of a cavernous hall. This artefact was found in early probes of a world deep in the fringes beyond Tuchulcha. It was the last standing remnant of a huge city whose name only dead xenos races would remember, its intricate carvings depicting a garden of beauty and seduction. The explorer who found it, Captain Uless Barr, was so taken with the design that he demanded its excavation and removal from the planet. Barr would spend hours staring at the designs, swearing that the garden called to him, inviting him to enter. No one else ever heard these supposed voices, leading many to believe that Barr was mad. Eventually his obsession with the artefact caused House Roth to remove him from his captaincy. Uless Barr would spend the rest of his days confined to a cell aboard a Hospitaller ship, ranting about the garden and how he had to get to it.
The Tuchulcha Orbital Shipyards are a less massive object, though they occupy a much larger volume of space. Once the shipyards worked around the clock to produce hundreds of ships and repair components for the exploratory fleet. These factories were prized among the Adeptus Mechanicus for their amazing output, and many Tech-Priests clamoured to be a part of their operation. The ships to come off the lines at Tuchulcha were some of the greatest vessels of the Askellon Sector, such as the gigantic cargo haulers The Eternity of Empire and His Indomitable Will.
When the Pandaemonium swallowed Tuchulcha, the shipyards appeared to be untouched. The countless servitors continued their work hour upon hour at their stations, following their programmed construction plans. Unknown to the mindless servants, they were given new plans by the denizens of the Warp. Now the factories fashion war engines for the infernal armies who wage eternal war on the planet below. Horrible Daemon Engines are created every day, used by Daemon Princes as they fight for the supremacy of their patron god.
…and the DamnedEdit
Not all who were aboard the ships above Tuchulcha were lucky enough to be killed by the Great Storm. Some of the vessels crashed to the planet below, stranding thousands on the surface. These refugees were initially able to use the supplies they recovered from their crashed ships. Many had no idea what had happened, and they expected to be rescued in short order. They were not ready for the skies to open up and the hordes of Daemons to come pouring through, plunging the world into darkness.
For years, the survivors held out against uncountable odds, living a desolate existence as the Daemon armies razed the planet. By the sheer blessing of the Omnissiah, many Tech-Priests were still operational, and became instrumental in keeping one large group protected. Using their arcane knowledge, the adepts were able to repurpose one ship’s Gellar Field to protect a camp of many hundreds against the rampaging Daemons. The Tech-Priests knew that power resources were limited, and worked day and night to keep the field maintained. Ecclesiarchy priests worked constantly as well by adding their fervent prayers to the field, knowing that the Emperor’s Will was just as powerful in keeping the Daemons at bay.
Life on TuchulchaEdit
Despite the Warp-tainted nature of Tuchulcha, somehow humans manage to survive in this place of madness and insanity. Rationally, this should not be possible—but a Daemon world is, by its very nature, a realm of the impossible. Laws of physics are more suggestion and whim there. The initial survivors’ auspex readings could detect no breathable atmosphere after the Warp devoured the planet, yet breathe they could. Gravity itself shifts capriciously, especially within the myriad caves that wind through mountain ranges like maggot-trails through fruit. Stablights can illuminate the darkened caverns, but also bring forth screams of pain as the light burns the rock and blood drips from the wounds. A cry for help might go unheard metres away, yet be detected clearly on an orbiting ship. Many of the survivors have not eaten in what seems like decades, yet somehow remain physically alive. What Tuchulcha has done to their psyches and souls, though, is something else entirely.
The Lords of TuchulchaEdit
All manner of Daemons call Tuchulcha home, but the forces of Khorne and Tzeentch hold the most sway. The minions of these gods wage constant war, with the forces of Slaanesh and Nurgle drawn into battles as nothing more than pawns of the other two pantheons. The Lord of Battles’ hatred of magic and spellcasters brings him into conflict with Tzeentch often, and his forces see those of the Changer of Ways as easy skulls for their master’s throne. However, Tzeentch’s forces are not as easy to overcome as the Blood God believed.
This back and forth war has waged for centuries, with each god gaining the upper hand for a time before the other then rises to ascendency. This back and forth chess match forces the Daemon Princes in charge of the legions to come up with new and more elaborate schemes (or more aggressive attacks in the case of Khorne) to overcome each other. This eternal hatred and neverending war allows the various humans on the world a chance of survival, as the Daemons’ attention is focused on their rivals far more than on the human beings still planetside.
Eventually, though, the field fell and the daemonic forces of Tuchulcha overran the camp. Some of the humans escaped the ensuing slaughter, fleeing to the mountains and the cave complexes within, where they hide from the endless wars the Daemons wage across the surface. Some are alive there today, as time flows differently on the Daemon world, even changing in pockets of altered chronologies from cave to cave. The humans who still exist on Tuchulcha hold out against unbelievable odds, always hoping for the day when they can escape the living hell they have been thrust into. Some do manage to leave the planet, disappearing in unexpected Warp-breaches to reappear elsewhere in the sector, or picked up by daring captains searching for the treasures all know are hiding somewhere on the planet.
The Legions of KhorneEdit
Led by a Daemon Prince known as the Lord of Wrath, the minions of Khorne constantly scour the landscape looking for victims of their blood sport. Packs of Bloodletters prod baying Flesh Hounds forth, seeking out those who would try to escape their fury. Alongside these Daemons are mighty war engines crafted in orbit using twisted technologies, bringing destruction on a massive scale. Everything that fights with the Mark of Khorne is dedicated to the sole purpose of nonstop slaughter and devastation.
The Lord of Wrath was once part of a triumvirate of Daemon Princes of Khorne who sought to rule Tuchulcha.Over the timeless aeons, though, the other members—Vae’ora the Eternal Blade and Skalla the Hideous—were banished by the machinations of their arch-foe, the Changer of Ways Guirros, or left for more bloodworthy battlefields. Only Etrell the Furious remains, commanding innumerable legions with one purpose: to bring skulls to the Throne of Khorne, with the skulls of Tzeentch’s servants the most valued.
A master of bloodshed and violence, Etrell is a Daemon Prince of contradictions. Unlike the bellowing Bloodthirsters under his command, this Lord of Battle relies on tactics to reap carnage and crafts elaborate battle plans to achieve the most casualties possible in an engagement. This frequently angers the other Daemons he leads, but Etrell could not be bothered. All that matters is bringing more skulls to Khorne and blood for the Blood God.
The Horrors of TzeentchEdit
Unlike the raving, blood-crazed servants of Khorne, the Daemons of Tzeentch on Tuchulcha are masters of magic and other abilities that they use in their constant struggle for dominion over the planet. The forces gathered in here in incalculable numbers are under the control of one being—the Lord of Change Guirros. Serving at this mighty Daemon’s side is Erravan the Schemer, the former member of House Roth responsible for the fall of Tuchulcha. Guirros gives the Daemon Prince a great deal of sway over the forces of Tzeentch on the planet, rewarding the Daemon Prince for bringing about the fall of the world. Erravan sometime seven adopts its earlier human visage to travel within Askellon, there to weave new schemes for his master.
The schemes and plots carried out by the minions of Tzeentch on Tuchulcha are convoluted and beyond the ken of mortal understanding. It may take centuries or longer for a seemingly insignificant stratagem to play out, which in turn is a smaller piece of a larger puzzle. War rages everywhere on the planet, but Tzeentch’s generals avoid direct battle where possible, and attempt to manipulate events subtly using sorcery and psychic abilities to great effect. For Tzeentch, however, mere victory on Tuchulcha may be not be the final goal, for there are no ends to the twisting schemes of the God of Change.
The Great BeyondEdit
Travelling past Tuchulcha lies a region of space unlike any other in the Askellon region. Countless worlds and systems lie in this part of space, all waiting to be explored and plundered. This was the basis of the doomed expedition fleet, and many still hold great interest in these unknown worlds.
Initial scouts sent into this region before the expedition reported worlds unlike any other. One held floating islands of earth suspended upon mighty thermals. Another is covered in vast oceans plied by mighty leviathans with crystal scales worth more than many worlds’ tithes. A world of snow-covered lands held palaces of deep blue marble, ancient homes to long-dead aliens. While many dismissed these tales as nothing more than spacefarer fancy, many believe them to be true. It is this desire to explore (and exploit) these worlds that consumes many to this day.
- Dark Heresy: Enemies Beyond (2nd Edition) (RPG), pp. 99-102