Extreme climate conditions, venomous micropredators, geological instabilities, lethal microbial and viral life forms. Evolving on a deathworld we considered ourselves weak, frail and defenseless creatures.
Imagine our joy upon leaving Holy Terra then, and finding ourselves in fact to be enormous, robust and the most dangerous species the universe has ever known."
-Magos Varnstrom during the interrogation of Farseer AunielleThis page covers the use of Background Packages in use of games of Dark Heresy, specifically centred around factions and events from the Onus Region sub-sector.
You may acquire up to one Background package at character creation. You cannot go back and select a package later in your character's career. Background Packages are entirely optional and you should always get your GM's permission before selecting one for your character.
You can download the full 21-page PDF of all the Background Packages and Homeworlds here:
Background Packages available to each Career Edit
- Adept: Chorus of Iohan Jocovic, Order of Famulus Mendicante
- Arbitrator: Tides of Madness, Ultraviolet Agent
- Assassin: Monomi of the Southern Court, Palaestra Lucha, Ultraviolet Agent
- Cleric: Earthstride Order, Chorus of Iohan Jocovic
- Guardsman: 222nd Dawnwalkers, Palaestra Lucha, Ultraviolet Agent
- Scum: Halo Merchant, Palaestra Lucha
- Psyker: Witchsniffer, Chorus of Iohan Jocovic
- Techpriest: Last of the Avia Mechanicum
222nd Dawnwalkers Edit
Cost: 300 XP
The swamp planet of Kreato is responsible for feeding most of the Hive cities in the region, and fuels the Fringe War effort in the east. It is responsible for the recycled corpse-starch bars in every soldier’s ration box, and putting nu-meat on the table for every Noble banquet. As such an economical keystone, it attracts the kind of people who would do harm to the Imperium of Man.
The most deadly threat to date has been the Sapiens Novis, idealists pursuing the next stage of human evolution. Set up as a labour union to fight for workers’ rights in the abysmal conditions of the nu-meat fields and corpse starch vats, the cult was excommunicated by the Ecclesiarchy when an investigation into tainted meat revealed the Sapiens Novis leadership had been intentionally infecting the food supply to enhance the work force.
The cult had become a dangerous band of die-hard pro-mutation heretics, who today are known for utilising off-world mercenaries, chemical weaponry and terror tactics.
Our Lady Eos, the patron saint of morning light and of Kreato, was killed by the Sapiens Novis as a final act
of defiance. Civilians and military alike rallied behind this tragedy, draft rates hit an all-time high and expert drill sergeants shipped in to deal with the influx of recruits.
The Kreato 222nd Planetary Defense Force fought a fierce and bloody war for almost a year to clear out the remnants of the Sapiens Novis from their subsurface network of warrens and bolt-holes. The survivors were organised into a compact, elite unit called the Dawnwalkers - utterly devoted to Saint Eos, expert tunnel fighters and with a zealous hatred for enemies of the Imperial Faith.
- Start with +3 Wp and +3 Insanity Points
- Gain the Insanely Faithful and Hatred (Heretics) talents
- Close-Quarter Fighter: When the character is in an enclosed space or with their back to a wall they get +10 WS, but they suffer -1 Initiative when out ‘in the open’
- Choose one of the following tunnel fighting specialisations:
- a) Start with the Blind Fighting talent and replace your main starter weapon with a Compact “Triplex” pattern Lascarbine and two additional las charge packs.
- b) Start with the Cleanse and Purify talent and replace your main starter weapon with a Sorrento-V “Syrinx” pattern flamer and two additional fuel canisters.
Chorus of Iohan Jocovic Edit
Career: Cleric, Psyker, Adept
Cost: 300 XP
The saga of Iohan Jocovic is as shrouded in mystery as the myths and legends he would sing about. The scholars of Daphnia say he came from the desert to harmonise with the wailing dunes and bring them peace. Archivists in the great libraries of Etmos insist he descended from the clouds and united the warring tribes that plagued them. The Chantry on Catalania claim to have irrefutable evidence that he was once a monk there who had his tongue cut out for speaking the Emperor's truths to a blasphemous warlord, and was granted His holy voice as a reward. All accounts, however, agree on a single indisputable fact - when Iohan Jocovic spoke the people listened, and when he sang, the heavens wept.
A man of immense charisma and talent, Iohan Jocovic toured the cosmos bringing peace and tranquility to warzones, workers' rallies, the sick and the dying. He organised grand operas for Noble Houses that could span weeks in a single sitting. His works are recorded and distributed on parchment, datastic, holodisc, noosphere, public broadcast, encrypted vox channels and astropathic relays. Some Imperial Admirals have taken to venting his music into space, supposedly calming gravity tides and clearing warp storms.
As mysteriously as he arrived, he vanished without a trace. Some joke that he was taken by the Emperor for singing lessons. Some say he faked his own death to remove himself from the public eye and complete his work in peace. Some are pushing from canonization, but without a body or confirmed death, his chances of sainthood are slim.
His closest performers were known as the Chorus, and after his disappearance set up academies across the Onus Region called the Schola Choral. They would take in promising candidates from all backgrounds, strip them of their previous titles and status and train them in the secret arts that Iohan Jocovic had mastered.
By subtly varying tone and pitch and layering a second sub-sonic melody into their song, the Chorus can win over even the stoutest of hearts and suspicious of minds. They are highly sought-after diplomats, negotiators and companions, and the Schola Coral makes a considerable profit hiring these talented artists out to the right bidder.
- Start with the Trade (Singer) skill.
- Start with the Talented (Singer) and Master Orator talents
- Where words fail, music begins: The Chorus use melodies that have been woven from the rhythm of mankind's evolution and they believe that music is a gift from the Emperor that transcends time, culture and social status. In situations where it would be appropriate, the character may attempt a Charm, Blather or Command test using their Trade (Singer) skill instead.
Earthstride Order Edit
Cost: 200 XP
This chapter of Adeptas Sororitas have settled on the inhospitable ash plains of Tanta, a world that is constantly at threat from solar flares, blistering heat and choking ash clouds. Small even by the Sororitas' standards, the Order was formed around the consecrated ground where the Onus Region's founder, Saint Troubadous, took his first step off his battlebarge. The Earthstride Order take great pain to maintain the shrine at Saint Troubadous' Sole, which despite its virtually inaccessible nature, is still an important pilgrimage site for the region's faithful.
Tanta is so far from the Emperor's light that the Earthstride Order look to the hands-on approach of Saint Troubadous for guidance - they craft what they need from the earth around them, and this provides the basis of their faith.
Where the Emperor's voice is only a whisper, forge Him a tongue of steel so that His words may pierce the unfaithful. Where duty to Him falters, craft Him an armoured embrace so that you might protect His servants in this life and the next.
Tens of thousands visit the shrine every month, many have come to trade for famous Earthstride steel, many come to pay their respects to the patron saint of voyages and hardship, and a select few stay with the Order to learn their ways, so that they too might construct objects of worship that bring them closer to the Emperor.
- Gain the Trade (Smith) skill.
- Gain the Talented (Smith) talent.
- Skilled acutiator: Members of the Earthstride Order are taught as many ways to maintain and hone a blade's edge as there are constellations in the Tantan heavens. The character ignores any penalties for wielding weapons with the Primitive quality (such as doubling modern armour's AP against primitive attacks)
- Faith forged is purer than faith found: Physical protection is the Emperor's divine providence and His will is carried out by hammer and tong. Why would you trust anything else? If the character wears anything not explicitly made by themselves or another Earthstride member, they operate at half Willpower until they can change into something more reliable.
- Saint Troubadous' Sole: Before missionaries leave Tanta, they will traditionally craft the tools needed for their voyage in the Abbey's forge. Replace ALL your starting gear and use the Crafting rules on page 245 of the Inquisitor's Handbook to smith any gear, armour or weapons you and the GM agree on. You may use your own starting funds to purchase better quality materials. For this time only, you may use the Abbey's considerable smithing resources to assume basic materials for anything, and you may add +30 to any Trade (Smith) tests you make.
Halo Merchant Edit
Cost: 400 XP
The Grey Halo ring-city of Syracuse is the oldest hive city in the Onus Region, and the only city in the whole Carthax sector that completely circumnavigates its host's crust. The Nobles here display a disarming amount of nobility, and the locals show uncharacteristic respect and tolerance for off-wolders. Combine these traits with a civil war in a mutually-assured stalemate between powerful monopolistic Great Houses and you have the perfect breeding ground for a species of trader known as a Halo Merchant.
Originally peddlers and settlers from off-world, they found the crushing turnover of customers and goods on Syracuse made a fine place to set up shop. Halo Merchants are the best of the best, a far cry from the wheeler-dealers hawking stolen goods on other worlds. They turn deceit and treachery into an art from, and watching them weave lies and truth together so that neither can be told from other can be a rare treat indeed.
Only by being the best do they attract the customers they want, the unfathomably rich Great Houses of Syracuse. With vast sector-spanning trade empires that need administrating, the Great Houses will outsource whatever they can on Syracuse to the Halo Merchants - saving a fraction of a percent on taxes worth billions of Thrones makes these cut-throat traders worth their exorbitant prices. That is, of course, until a different House offers a slightly more exorbitant price...
- Start with the Talented (Deceive) talent
- Start with the Trade (Merchant) and Evaluate skills.
- Begin play with a Monotask-skull (page 145 of the Inquisitor's Handbook) and pick one of the following specialisations: Auger, Courier, Illuminator or Loud-hailer
- The world with two faces: A lifetime spent deceiving, tricking and hoodwinking others leaves little room for genuine human compassion. The character takes -20 penalty to all Charm tests they attempt.
Monomi of the Southern Court Edit
Cost: 500 XP
The lords of night, the shadow dancers, the knife in the dark; the infamous Monomi assassins of Syracuse go by many names. Witnesses say they dress in fearsome black fighting robes with masks of midnight, striking from darkness with daemonic speed and strength.
Except, of course, these are just stories told to frighten children. The truth is far more frightening - there have never been any witnesses. The myths are derived from ancient theater where stagehands dressed all in black and only exist in the background, until the critical moment where one surprises the audience by coming centre stage and slaying a character where they stand.
The myth is not wrong, but rather than lurk in the shadows, the Monomi hide in plain sight, being masters of disguise and deception. They began as spies, 'Monomi' meaning 'one who watches' in local tongue, befriending and infiltrating to get close to their mark.
Any fool can squeeze a trigger, but it takes immense skill to orchestrate a tragic accident or death by natural causes. A target will often never see their fate coming. They are experts in poison, explosives and gadgets, and the Monomi can be in another room, another city or another planet when the hit happens.
With no witnesses, no suspects and no trace, the Monomi melts back into the crowd, a drop of water in the ocean of Mankind.
- Start with the Deceive, Demolitions and Chem-use skills
- Pseudology: The Monomi have mastered the art of lying, and understand that a single well-placed word is worth more than a hundred well-placed bullets. Swap the Ballistic Skill and Fellowship advance costs for the Assassin career.
- Tools of the trade: Swap your starter main weapon and its ammunition (autogun or hunting rifle) with a demolition charge and a poisoner's kit (page 30 of the Games Master's kit), which contains 2 doses of Black Janix, 2 doses of Sump Vine Sap and 2 doses of Dusk Lotus.
Order of Famulus Mendicante Edit
Cost: 400 XP
Dignity, discretion and loyalty - the Order of the Famulus Mendicante is not a band of jumped-up overpaid lickspittles like so many other valet services, it is an Imperial institution.
In a handful of elite schools scattered across the galaxy, budding trainees known as Famulus are trained to be perfect aides to the rich and powerful. They must be invisible, but always present. They must bend, but never break. They must know how to service their clients' needs, no matter how dark, but never reveal them. They must know their clients' friends, family, extended family, estranged family and estranged family's pet cats. They must be confidantes, lovers, night nurses, bodyguards, advisors, mentors and entertainers. All this is provided under the intense tutelage of House Mendicante.
With a lineage that can be traced back to the first settlers of the Carthax Sector, the Mendicante family are one of the most famous and well-respected households to have graced this corner of the galaxy. They have served lords and ladies, kings and queens, saints and sinners. Their influence is unrivalled and their wealth uncountable, but they have very few holdings and no standing armies with which to defend themselves. Yet despite these perceived weaknesses, the Mendicante are completely untouchable because they have a secret weapon: Discretion.
"Slight a Mendicante and you anger a King" is the expression. If a Lord decides to stop paying his valet, he finds an angry Queen at the door, whose beloved aunt is now without a carer. If a Noble puts pressure on a Mendicante estate, he finds his son turning to dark and wicked things because his lust has stopped being satiated by a specialist joyboy.
House Mendicante do not blackmail, sell out or badmouth their clients - they are experts at alleviating pressure, not applying it. Their professional discretion for the people they service, living or dead, is what earned them their reputation, influence and wealth. Some families have been serviced by Famulus Mendicante for generatons, each valet passing on the family secrets and desires to the next, and although none have ever broken this confidentiality, no Noble wants to be the first to push them past breaking point.
- Start with the Trade (Valet) and Scholastic Lore (Heraldry) skills
- Start with the Talented (Valet), Talented (Charm) and Heightened Sense (Taste) talents
- Start with D10 Insanity Points
- How is your aunt these days?: Famulus Mendicante pride themselves on their knowledge of clients and their families - the more people you know, the smaller the universe seems to become. If you succeed in working out a person's lineage (normally with a Scholastic Lore (Heraldry) test with suitable modifiers) you gain a +20 bonus to all subsequent interaction tests with that person, as you find common ground or a loved-one that you might have cared for in the past.
Palaestra Lucha Edit
Career: Guardsman, Scum, Assassin
Cost: 300 XP
Originating on Luchax Secundus, a hive factory planet in decline on the spinward edge of the sector, the Palaestra began its life as little more than organised pit brawls for a bored and creative society of workers. The principles of Luchax Secundus favour form over function, and the system is famous for producing some of the most famous artists, acrobats and artisans of the mdoern age, so it is no wonder what passes for blood sport on most planets had become an interstellar sporting spectacle in such a short space of time.
A match is a high-octane mix of ultra-violence, breath-taking acrobatic feats and grand theatre. Its gladiatorial combat with capes and glitter. It's not about winning, but doing so with flair and passion, and collegiates from the Palaestra are taught both form and function as a result. The gruelling training regime never slows, with novices working just as hard as the veterans, until they can perform incredible feats of grace and strength.
When the Maesters deem a collegiate worthy, they create an identity for the novice to assume - a mask, a personality, a background straight out of Onus myth and legend. When the mental conditioning the collegiates go through takes hold, they no longer remember who they were before the Palaestra, only the mask remains. Assuming the collegiates make it through this, they are granted the title of Palaestra Lucha and allowed to compete at events in Exodromes across the sector.
Collegiates quickly find themselves working for all manner of employers, as the Palaestra bookkeeping world is a treacherous one. The smartest often get singled out by the Inquisition for their unique blend of acrobatic skills and social standing. What better way to serve the Emperor than crushing his enemies in a sequinned headlock?
- Start with +5 Strength and -5 Intelligence
- Start with 2D5 Insanity Points
- Start as Trading Class for purposes of income
- Gain the Leap Up, Catfall and Peer (Hiver) talents
- Not just for show: The character always gets a +20 bonus to any Grapple or Knockdown tests they make due to their Palaestra training and extreme athleticism
- No man behind the mask: The character struggles to be anything but the larger-than-life personality they have moulded themselves into and always suffer a -20 penalty to any Deceive or Disguise tests they must make
The Last of the Avia Mechanicum Edit
Cost: 400 XP
The fifteenth warning of the Adeptus Mechanicus states that the flesh is fallible, and that to replace your frail organics with steel and silicone is the logical conclusion. Emotions are irrational and instinct is weakness - to break with this ritual is to break with a fundamental tenet of faith.
In an effort to stamp out the rampant piracy on Tangenia IV, the Planetary Council had issued Magos Nebulim with a lucrative aerial defense contract to bolster the PDF's meagre efforts. Yet even the finest skitarii servitor pilots loaded with the data of thousands of dog fights from millions of systems were being defeated by stim-junkie sky pirates.
Deep within his factory-fortress Magos Nebulim struggled with the paradox of flesh. He postulated that the missing element from his drones was the emotional survival response, a trait that is normally considered a weakness. This could not be replicated or programmed, so he set aside the use of servitors in favour of prototyping his concepts with promising volunteers.
A decade of political maneuvering followed before a pilot even stepped foot inside a cockpit, and many years passed before the first sanctioned flight. Gathering the resources to produce emotionally-enhanced tech-adepts was difficult, but maintaining the political power to keep toeing the line of tech-heresy was next to impossible.
The program was called the Avia Mechanicum, and it took tech-adepts from all across the Onus Region who showed dangerous levels of initiative and free-thinking and turned them into some of the finest pilots that the Carthaxian Sector had ever seen. With razor-sharp reflexes, cutting-edge bio-circuitry and genetically enhanced emotional connections with their ships, the pilots of the Avia Mechanicum cut down everything that stood before them. The only downside was the propensity to take increasingly larger risks, which gave them an incredible edge in combat but drastically reduced their life expectancy. This wasn't considered too much of a problem and was dismissed as an "acceptable margin of error."
By this point however, Magos Nebulim had made too many enemies and expended too many friends. He was found dead on his manufactorum floor and the Avia Mechanicum crumbled. The largest rival for the defense contract, Varnstrom Industries, took over the program, systematically destroying everything and claiming any rogue Avia Mechanicum pilots to be the products of tech-heresy.
You can't spend a lifetime creating the ultimate aerial ace and expect them to turn themselves in for termination. As soon as the pilots caught wind of what Varnstrom had in mind, they scattered themselves to the wind.
The ones that escaped eke out meaning in the galaxy as escort fliers, mercenaries or smugglers. Life for them is short, fast and dangerous - to anyone else, these would be seen as unfortunate side-effects to a lifetime of experimentation and misery. To the last of the Avia Mechanicum pilots, they wouldn't have it any other way.
- Start with a Common Quality Mind Impulse Unit (MIU)
- Gain the Pilot (Military) and Pilot (Civilian) skills
- Gain 3D5 Insanity Points
- Psychomorphism: The Avia Mechanicum have strong view on inanimate objects having human mentalities, treating their vehicles more like steeds or tame beasts. The character uses their Willpower instead of Agility for any Drive or Pilot tests.
- Legation Terminus: The character is a wildcard amongst the Adeptus Mechanicus, a living relic of challenging dogma and dangerous ideas. They look, think and act differently to their brethren, meaning they get a -20 penalty to all interaction tests with Adeptus Mechanicus. If their Avia Mechanicum origins are discovered, they will be treated as hereteks and hunted down mercilessly.
Tides of Madness Edit
Cost: 300 XP
Port Precipice is the primary water source on the planet of Daphnia, drawing rich spring water from the treacherous depths of the Akuru canyon. Access to water is tightly controlled, and when a new water baron inherited his father's company, the hardworking population began to struggle and eventually exploded into full-on riots, tearing apart half the city in an orgy of violence.
The atrocity was tantamount to genocide. The water supply had been laced with toxins from the corpse of a great xenos beast, poisoned and slaughtered upstream to allow the chemicals to slip in unnoticed. The attacks started in the slums, and only incredibly wealthy or connected areas with their own water reserves were untouched by the madness that came from drinking it. Anyone exposed to the tainted water suffered psychotic hallucinations and a raging thirst.
Arbites High Command had been weakened due to internal conflict and were slow to react, so field operations were strategised and lead by Sergeants and Proctors on the ground.
Although undermanned, low on resources and in the middle of a civil war with corrupt local Enforcers, the Adeptus Arbites of Port Precipice cleansed the water supply and slowly reclaimed the city, street by street. The stratagems used during the Tides of Madness were so effective they were published into a tome called "The Art of Law: Hoplomancy" and earned the Precipice Arbites their fearsome reputation as expert riot officers.
Veterans of this atrocity have seen the terrible things thirsty men would do to each other, and despite extensive training in testing and modifying substances for safe consumption, will still fin themselves drinking from their own canteen, "just to be sure".
- Start with the Chem-Use skill
- Gain the Combat Master and Double Team talents
- Start with 2D5 Insanity Points
- Mysophobia: The character will only ever eat or drink from their own personal supplies, or if they know where the food has come from. In addition, they get a -10 Penalty to all interactions when eating or drinking in a social setting, as many people find this rejection of age-old human tradition as rude and unsettling.
Ultraviolet Agent Edit
Career: Arbitrator, Guardsman, Assassin
Cost: 200 XP
It is human nature to try and be better, to strive to constantly improve. To the Imperium, the human form is already perfect, and to try and improve on it would be sacrilege. What is man who seeks not to improve his form, but to remove it's weaknesses?
After the Ulsvar Incursions, a cabal of Ordo Malleus Inquisitors gathered with some of the finest progressive thinkers of the time. Their aim was to emulate the success of the D-99 gland warriors used against the Tyranid menace, but for the corrupting influence of Chaos instead.
The theory is similar to a conventional vaccination: expose the subject with controlled mutations and gene therapy to build up resistance and eliminate weak tissue. The research was so secret only a handful of people knew about it and it was restricted at the highest level: Class Ultraviolet.
The program was a silent success. Subjects planted in combat zones fought longer and harder than their peers. Resilient to all manner of psychic suggestions or mind probes and with the terrifying ability to shrug off all by the worst of the corrupting influences of Chaos.
Their hubris was their undoing. When a whole platoon was immolated by a psychic blast, leaving only a handful of Ultraviolet agents standing, a massive investigation was launched by rival Inquisitors. The agents were rounded up, interrogated and dissected for information as to their origins. When the Ultraviolet cabal discovered that puritan witch-hunters were on their trail, they closed everything down and went underground, trying to remove all trace of their existence. Nobody knows what happened to them or to the agents still in the field. Some speculate that Class Ultraviolet is still operating somewhere in the universe, moving from place to place to avoid detection.
Whatever the truth, the Ultraviolet agents are still a force to be reckoned with, and any Inquisitor of radical leaning would kill to have one under his employ.
- Start with +4 in two statistics of your choosing
- Gain a Fate Point
- Gain the Dark Soul, Armour of Contempt and Orthoproxy talents
- Perfect Imperfection: Roll three times on the Malignancies table, pick two results and apply these to your character
Cost: 200 XP
The Dust system is a harsh and unforgiving place to live with it's inhospitable environments and cruel creatures that dwell there. Even the comforting light of the Astronomicon is just s tiny pebble in a beach of stars.
It is perhaps a small mercy that the tithe fleets of the Administratum and the Blackships of the Adeptus Telepathica arrive so infrequently to collect their dues. Often generations go by without a single barge to pick up psykers, with the longest recorded absence being over two centuries.
This has been a double-edged sword for the Dustfolk, as with the added freedom from the tithes comes the necessity for tight policing of its psychic population. Precinct Omicron on Daphnia has an appropriately brutal response for any psykers rounded up during the period between Blackship arrivals: Witchsniffers.
These decades are known as the Bronze Harvest, named for the brass-oloured armour of the Arbites capture-teams who scour the system for rogue psykers. Those who submit willingly are given two options: incarceration until the next Blackship, or join the ranks of the Bronze Harvesters as a witchsniffer. Considering the former is essentially a life sentence, it is unsurprising that the number of psyker-hunter squads are swelling dramatically.
After a crude but lengthy sanctioning process, recruits who don't die or go insane undergo complex surgical procedures and hypno-indoctrination to turn them into the perfect psy-hound. Under careful scrutiny from the Astra Telepathica, the recruit's psychic senses are honed to a razor's edge and they are trained to pick up even the slightest sense of warpcraft. Combined with a deeply-ingrained violent hatred for other psykers, witchsniffers have become an indispensible weapon for Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors across the Carthax Sector.
- Start with the Talented (Psyniscience), Heightened Senses (Smell) and Hatred (Psykers) talents
- Start with 2D5 Insanity and Corruption Points (roll separately)