Date Posted: 27-08-2021

Stolen Secrets & Space Hulks in 40k Redacted Records

#40KFriday

We have another great post from Producer Cat Evans today. Cat delves into recent release Redacted Records.

Inquisitor, it is as we feared. A cache of redacted inquisitorial records have fallen into the hands of traitors. Efforts are underway to purge all records, but it’s a losing battle: within days, we anticipate the Gilead System’s secrets becoming public knowledge. 

— Inquisitorial Acolyte Severin Mainard to Inquisitor Tytrona Dikaisune, sent via encrypted vox

Oh dear. A cache of stolen secret records, that contain a treasure trove of information about the many perils of the Gilead System? In your hands? A tragedy for the Gilead System’s powers that be, but an opportunity for enterprising GMs everywhere. 

It’s a juicy collection. Along with new player options (Frameworks and Talents), a collection of Strange Servitors, from slaughterhouse operators run amok to the preservation of a beloved colleague, a run-down of some of the many cults and secret societies of the Gilead System’s Forge and Knight Worlds, Avachrus and Nethreus, you’ll find an investigation of the many space hulks of the Gilead System. 

Space Hulks of the Gilead System

Redacted Records contains info on five space hulks known to regularly pass through the Gilead System. That’s a big number for a single system, but the hulks are rarely present at the same time. These great accretions of wrecked vessels drift in and out of the Immaterium with no predictable pattern. The analysts of the Adeptus Mechanicus theorise that the proximity of the Great Rift leads to an unusually high incidence of space hulk visitations; certainly, there are more now than there were before the Gilead System was isolated from the rest of Imperial space. 

The floating tomb of the Caveat Emptor might appear over Gilead Primus just as the Ork-occupied Wrath of Janus fades out of realspace and ceases to threaten Ostia. It would be unfortunate indeed if all of these vessels were to appear at once. 

Most Imperial citizens never need to learn the appellation ‘space hulk,’ but for those who know the meaning, their first thought is of miles of empty corridors, and a creeping sense of dread that behind the next bulkhead waits something with killer instincts and a concerning number of limbs. That’s certainly true for some of the hulks adrift in the Gilead System. The Umbraeus is home to servitors run amok, and the Compostela’s passengers and crew wander the desolate paths of the ship’s Tenebro-Maze, dazed and destitute. Other hulks teem with life. The Dominus Vobiscum is fused with the asteroid it was mining and home to a thriving colony of miners (who surely have no secrets or agendas). The Wrath of Janus is home to innumerable Orks deprived of anyone to fight (except other Orks). 

If the five hulks presented don’t give you what your group needs to really learn to fear the words ‘space hulk’, we’ve also included a series of articles that help you generate, populate, and add dramatic events to space hulks of your own creation.  

Space Hulks As Setting

While developing these chapters on space hulks, I’ve become sort of obsessed with them as backdrops for adventures, bases for Agents, and settings for longer narrative arcs. 

Space hulks are huge. A single ship can have a crew of tens of thousands, and there can be dozens of ships crushed together in a hulk. If they’re empty, that’s a massive canvas for action- or survival-horror, with Agents scavenging ammo off the bodies of the dead and facing down enemies as they hunt for whatever invaluable treasure waits in the depths of the hulk. If they’re populated, hulks are bases the size of small hive spires. Most of the population will be outsiders: Chaos or Genestealer cults, or outlaws refusing to bow to Imperial law. There’s enough conflict there to fuel an entire campaign, with Agents trying to escape and warn their superiors of major threats, sabotage them from within, or hold out until help arrives.  

Even better, hulks let a GM play with concepts of time and space. Hulks slide in and out of the Warp unpredictably. A scavenging mission could quickly turn into a nightmare as daemons turn their malevolent gaze on the hapless, trapped agents… or a hulk could simply disappear, only to drop back into realspace at a completely different point in the system. And appearing in the middle of a solar system can be catastrophic: tearing open the Warp close to a planet is firmly forbidden, for good reason. Space hulks can also disappear for hundreds or thousands of years at a time, showing up with resources the Gilead System can’t do without, or even keys to contemporary mysteries. You can even allude to them as a possibility of escape from the system — though players should be ready for such hopes to be dashed. 

Space hulks aren’t just physically gargantuan, they’re also a colossal expansion of possibilities for how you play Wrath & Glory. And they’re not even the whole contents of Redacted Records! There’s so much more to discover, until the Inquisition manages to destroy every extant copy. 

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Piece shown above by Felix Tisch. Cover art by Michael Savier.

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