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"Though this planet gave us new life, our true home is kept from us."
— Adrius Meinloka, The Pit-Lord of Guelph
Thrown across the Antecidual entries to the Vortex and past the haunting grounds of the Kasserkratch lies the orb of poison known as Guelph. Wreathed in clouds of corrosive, toxic gas, Guelph is known for two things: its massive network of forges and laboratories, and the extremely callous nature of its people. Life on the planet's surface is one of survival for natives and non-natives alike. There are very few food resources and the general population would just as soon kill another person than have to deal with him. It was not always this way, however.
Guelph and Ghibelline once shared a beautiful existence among the Halo Stars. Sharing an unusual dual orbit, the twin planets were almost exact mirror images of each other and were ruled by the Meinloka Clan. In order to keep all matters of rule uniform, Lord and Lady Meinloka separated themselves and their family so that in the event of difficulty, the family line would always be present in some fashion on each planet. Both planets flourished under their rule until the cosmic birth of Slaanesh tore it apart.
Unlike its twin, Ghibelline, the birth of the Screaming Vortex did not leave Guelph a beautiful landscape. Thrown further into the swirling energies of the Warp, Guelph lost more of its share of the solar energy as it travelled further into the storm and became a cold, dark planet, with much of its surface becoming uninhabitable. Snaring additional planetary mass from other systems as it flew by, Guelph's system grew into an amalgam of roughly seventeen different planetary bodies. As a result, the planet's stability was also more fragile with the infusion of so many random terrestrial bodies pulling on it as well as the massive amounts of Warp energy flowing through and around it. Massive earthquakes rocked many of the hive cities that survived the initial transition, leaving little more than piles of rubble in their wake. Volcanic activity churned up enough ash to blanket the secondary capital of Kimigstad, encasing it for eternity. The few histories that remain of that time indicate that within a matter of a few years, Folgrat was the only settlement left capable of sustaining life, and even Folgrat had its woes.
Soon after Kimigstad was entombed, the ground beneath Folgrat swallowed it up in a massive sinkhole, deep enough to prevent ready access to the surface but still able to see the night sky. Though little damage was done to the city, they were cut off from the already meagre food supplies they had. Desperate to save what remained of his people, Lord Meinloka rounded all of them up and, using the last measures of their once-proud fleet, they left the planet in search of their twin, hoping beyond hope that Ghibelline had been spared.
The journey back to Ghibelline was not without peril. Limited supplies meant that food and medicine were rationed through the entire trip. During this time, Lord Meinloka came to rely on his advisors heavily, one being Marchesa Ammarx, his personal aide and confidant. She provided the voice of Meinloka when the Lord was otherwise occupied and helped ease the pain of austere living conditions for the majority of the remaining population. She was also the single most desirable woman in the fleet, and rarely left Lord Meinloka's side unless ordered. Fifteen months in transit brought the Guelphan fleet into the Ghibelline system, finding their sister world lush, green, and largely unscathed. Lord and Lady hailed each other for the first time in almost a decade and the populations of both worlds rejoiced as they were reunited.
Upon their arrival in orbit, Lord Meinloka took the first shuttle with his heirs to visit the planet, leaving Marchesa in charge of the fleet. The Meinloka Clan gathered, with the Ghibelline side resplendent in silks and brocade and the Guelphan side in haggard cloth and piecemeal armour. For hours they shared their stories and mourned their losses, ecstatic to once again be a unified family. They vowed to begin discussing plans to reintegrate the two peoples at once - but all that changed when Marchesa arrived on the planet.
Though no one has ever discovered why, no sooner had Marchesa Ammarx joined the discussion than Lady Meinloka reversed her decision and ordered that the Guelph leave Ghibelline immediately. Lord Meinloka begged and pleaded, but she turned her back on him and left the throne room without a further word. Stunned and furious, the Guelph king bade his entourage follow and stormed back to his dropship. Meinloka advised his people that his Lady had rebuked them all and that they were now cast out. He ordered all ships to prepare for departure with one stop - a refuelling station orbiting the planet. The Guelph fleet bore down on the station, and in short order raided it for supplies and then scuttled it, sending flaming pieces of it down to the surface with a final message: "We will return for our home." It was the final time any of the Guelph set foot on the planet in peace.
Transition to the Warp brought haunting dreams to the travellers. Surviving diaries from the crew and civilian population indicate that the dreams were persistent even into waking life. People wandered the ship in the throes of nightmares, though none showed any signs of physical malady. Those affected were quarantined early, but it still spread until all people not affiliated with the military or the fleet were in medical lockdown. Unsure of how to remedy the situation, Lord Meinloka pushed forward with all haste, hoping that there might be some measure of hope back on Guelph.
As the fleet burst back into realspace in the Guelph system, they noticed that much was different. New satellites and orbital stations orbited Guelph and her moons, and hailing calls flooded the bridge. Meinloka was stunned. Guelph had been taken in his absence. He and his people had no home. Answering the hails, he demanded to know who had taken his planet and ordered them to prepare for war if they did not abandon the system. A single face replied to Lord Meinloka's demands, one bearing the armour of a Space Marine. He called himself Jal Khalid and offered aid from his troops, though the Guelph would need to remain in orbit until the nature of the illness was determined. Knowing he would not be able to fight effectively with the entire population of his planet in harm's way, Meinloka acquiesced.
The Brotherhood of Warpsmiths, as the Space Marines called themselves, were sure they knew the root cause of the illness, for it had affected them too, albeit differently. Jal Khalid never divulged how it had affected his men, but their certainty was what Meinloka needed to convince to his people. There was hope of a new life and a future on Guelph for the first time since the birth of the Vortex. Though the initial trials were unsuccessful, the Brotherhood and Meinloka's remaining people worked diligently for months and, at the end of the seventh month, discovered a treatment distilled from the blood of both groups. Meinloka inoculated himself first and then began to administer it to all those who remained in the thrall of the illness. One by one, the Guelph began to awaken and regain awareness. Meinloka pledged Jal Khalid and the Brotherhood their loyalty. In response, Jal made a bold request: the ruins of Kimigstad, and one half of the other planets in the system, to use as research and construction bases. Meinloka readily agreed, adding that they would aid in the production of the Warpsmiths' forges as long as they would help prepare him for the final war with Ghibelline. Jal Khalid was also eager to enter the pact, stating that they would need a "testing ground for their creations". Once the people of Guelph were cured, Meinloka and Khalid finally met face to face.
Forges sprouted up like weeds throughout the system. Excavation sites dotted the surface of every moon or planet Jal Khalid and his troops touched. Soon, these massive excavations became such a commonplace sight within the Guelph system that Meinloka became known as the Pit-Lord of Guelph. Between the highly motivated population of Guelph and the advanced technology and sorcery of the Brotherhood, plans for the conquest of Ghibelline took form and moved forward at a rapid pace. Within a handful of months, Kimigstad had been uncovered and rebuilt as the main forge for the Brotherhood. Within a year, the Guelph Fleet had been upgraded and enlarged. At the end of five years, the Brotherhood had an arsenal of devastating Daemon Engines, as well as an elite guard of Obliterators, that they were willing to lend to the Pit-Lord. The time to reignite the fires of war had come.
Armour: Fleshmetal (14 All)
Total TB: 12
Skills: Awareness (Per), Dodge (Ag), Forbidden Lore (Archeotech, Daemonology, Traitor Legions, Warp) (Int), Intimidate (S), Tech Use (Int) +20.
Talents: Ambidextrous, Bolter Drill, Combat Sense, Deadeye Shot, Heavy Weapon Training, Independent Targeting, Legion Weapon Training, Storm of Iron, Target Selection, Technical Knock, Two-Weapon Wielder (Ballistic).
Traits: Auto-stabilised, Daemonic (2), Fear (2), From Beyond, Living Armoury, Size (5), Sturdy, Unnatural Strength (5), Unnatural Toughness (5), Violent Metamorphosis†.
Weapons: See Violent Metamorphosis.
†Violent Metamorphosis: Obliterators can form a number of weapons from the raw mass of their Warp-infused bodies. Obliterators manifest two weapons of varying degrees of lethality at any given time, chosen from the list below. As a Half Action, an Obliterator can reform one of his current weapons into any other weapon from the list. The GM can also feel free to have him adopt other weapons as appropriate. Standard Obliterator options are as follows:
Living Armoury: Obliterators consume ammunition and fuel for sustenance, and are thusly capable of generating massive amounts of firepower without a need to reload. The Obliterator's weapons never need to be reloaded.
The Pit-Lord called for war and was met with the thunderous approval of his people. They had been slighted and cast away from family and home without reason or provocation. Fully half of the capable population volunteered to fight for their honour and boarded the ships bound for their sister planet. Though there are many accounts of the individual battles, there is very little dispute about how the war began. The Pit-Lord and the Brotherhood descended on the outlying planets of the Ghibelline system with the fury of an entire race behind them. As they subjugated these planets and moons, they rendered them wholly subservient to the Pit-Lord's tactical needs, becoming the supply chain for the effort. The campaign made haste to Ghibelline proper, for the Pit-Lord knew that only by removing his former wife, and those family members loyal to her, would he be able to lay claim to his rightful home.
Upon reaching the capital planet, the rules changed. Ghibelline had come into possession of strange new weapons and engines of war; weapons that overloaded the senses, destroyed physical matter with sound, and turned the Guelph soldiers into puppets of the Ghibellines began to shatter the Guelph lines. Though the Guelph arsenal was more powerful, it required human elements, which were capable of being turned against their own. The Pit-Lord, sensing that the tide could turn, led an assault on the palace to remove his disloyal family from power. His initial attack breached the palace walls, only to find that Lady Meinloka lay in wait for him. Many say that he was betrayed from within, but the Ghibellines claim that it was superior force of arms that allowed them to capture the Pit-Lord and remove him to the remote island nation of Gnosi.
Gnosi was the Ghibelline's most secret research facility. For a month they tortured the Pit-Lord, hoping to wear him down and force him to surrender. They killed his retinue one by one in front of him and subjected him to many of their new weapons, but he never gave them what they wanted. For the month he was in Gnosi, the war continued to grind on, with Ghibelline starting to gain the upper hand. In her final visit to her former husband, Empress Meinloka had the Pit-Lord watch the destruction of the Brotherhood's most devastating creations and the troops that supported him, taunting him with his inability to aid them. But the Pit-Lord was not watching. Recovered memoirs of the jailors of Gnosi reveal that the prisoner seemed to be in silent prayer, muttering to himself and conversing with some unseen force. Perhaps he had gone mad in those moments, but the Pit-Lord slowly raised his head and bellowed "I ACCEPT!" at the top of his lungs. In that moment, Ghibelline's fortunes changed.
In the blink of an eye, the warriors of Guelph began to change. Their senses dulled, they broke free of the bewitching scents and sounds of the Ghibelline troops. Their bodies became resilient to the blows being landed upon them. Daemon Engines that had been crushed were infused with new energy and reformed into hideous, pox-laden monstrosities. The Ghibellines, wholly unprepared to deal with enemies that couldn't feel pain and war machines that spat poison and plague across their ranks, began to fall back. In Gnosi, the Pit-Lord grew in size and stature, breaking his bindings and becoming an ogre of a man. Smashing his captors aside, he set about freeing the few of his troops that remained. They too were invigorated, and began to make their way toward the surface, killing everyone in their path.
The accounts of that escape are largely untold, seeing as the Pit-Lord was the only one to survive. Though his people perished, the city-state of Gnosi was reduced to a smoking ruin when he left. The Brotherhood located him and ushered him to safety. Upon his return to the fleet, Jal Khalid informed him that the Brotherhood's craft had been outfitted with a full load of virus bombs. The Pit-Lord smiled and fired only once, upon the isle of Gnosi, before ordering the withdrawal of his troops. "We are patient... we are patient," were the only words he uttered as he walked from the command bridge. The War of Ideals was over.
With two massive hive cities and dozens of research facilities scattered around the planet's surface, Guelph is little more than the waste fields for the massive military industrial complex at the heart of the Pit-Lord's fiefdom. Toxic effluents flow across the surface of the planet, and the haze of poisonous gas is ever-present and smothering.
Guelph's two main hives remain much as they were at the time of the War of Ideals centuries ago. Though they have grown in size and stature, both have stayed true to their purpose. Folgrat is the seat of power and the main starport for the planet. The Pit-Lord's fortress, known as the Steel Citadel, sits in the dead centre, majestic and intimidating. Here, Adrius Meinloka still rules the Guelphans just as he has for as long as anyone can remember. He has outlived all of Jal Khalid's original host and been the sole human contact with the Brotherhood throughout Guelph's current history. It is one of the largest hives in the Vortex, surrounded by toxic salt flats that glow and occasionally catch fire as waste products mix in heady chemical reactions. Most of the food consumed by the Guelphans comes from Folgrat, either as imports from other planets in the system or as vat-grown products known for their nutritional value but certainly not their flavour.
Kimigstad is run exclusively by the Brotherhood of Warpsmiths and, other than the Pit-Lord and selected members of his staff, none but the Warpsmiths and their creations enter or leave. Massive engines of destruction stand guard over the once ash-buried cityscape, and the forges burn night and day. The Brotherhood take customers from all over the Screaming Vortex, but keep their greatest works held out for their own use. Their modifications to other known designs have been found on battlefields throughout and are widely sought out. Though many would-be warlords would love to get their hands on the Brotherhood's engines, very few have the ability to pay for them.
Cold-hearted and callous, the people of Guelph are as unforgiving as the planet's surface. Unsympathetic eyes greet you from every angle in what is referred to by traders in the Vortex as the Guelphan Stare: eyes that pierce you and seem to swallow any ounce of joy from you alongside unchanging facial expressions that emanate bitterness and malice. Most who are not known to Guelph receive this cold welcome from most of the population, but it is not only unnerving looks you get from the Guelphans. Many who journey there seeking weapons and armour from one of the best forge planets in the Screaming Vortex have discovered first-hand that returning home alive is not always a certainty. Blood and death are frequent visitors to the streets of Folgrat, for often nothing more than a small slight. Needless to say, regular travellers to Guelph are few, and usually of an extremely hardy breed.
Armour: Rotting mesh (4 All)
Total TB: 6
Skills: Awareness (Per), Common Lore (Guelph) (Int), Dodge (Ag), Intimidate (S), Survival (Per).
Talents: Betrayer, Cold-Hearted, Die Hard, Jaded, Nerves of Steel, Pity the Weak, Resistance (Poison, Disease, Shock), Shock Weapon Training, Solid Projectile Weapon Training.
Traits: Fear (1), Regeneration (1), Unnatural Toughness (2).
Weapons: Hand Cannon (Pistol; 35m; 1d10+4 I; Pen 2; S/-/-; Clip 5; Rld 2 Full), Electrified Bludgeon (Melee; 1d10+6; Pen 0; Shocking).
Gear: Two clips of ammo.
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