Hive World

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When there is no more room to go out, you go up.

Hive is the Imperium's pet name for its Arcologies, cities on the scale of mountains. Once a world gets one, it ends up building more until it is more-or-less covered in hives, and we call the resultant mass of metal and humanity a Hive World. If you're not in one of the towers at the top, they're generally very shitty places to live, what with the gang-infested wretched hives of scum and villainy, starvation, homelessness due to lack of resources, forcible conscription for the Imperial Guard, the occasional mutant tribes in the Underhive sewers, and so on. The only reasons the Imperium keeps them around is because they have a lot of industry and they make great recruiting grounds for the Guard and the Adeptus Astartes. Yes, you read that right. A Hive World is on par with Feral and Death Worlds for recruiting Space Marines.

You know that intro blurb? "To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable." Yeah, that's life on a Hive World. Grimdark to the max.

The moral of the story is that organized urban planning initiatives should NOT be taken lightly.

Hives tend to get old, worn with constant reconstruction, and eventually very confusing. As time goes on the lower levels invariably start to cave in on themselves due to ever-increasing weight from above and the decay that sets in on ill-used regions. This causes the phenomenon of the 'underhive', a mess of forgotten and collapsing old tunnels and buildings that becomes what is basically Detroit on steroids: a ghetto where the poorest, gangs, mutants, freaky life forms of all sorts and pollution tend to collect. In worse or older hives the underhive can be lethally toxic, radioactive, and house everything from mutant gangs with pet giant death-roaches to malfunctioning servitors armed with power scourges to even the occasional Genestealer. Needless to say these are wonderful places to visit if you happen to be looking for a quick death, but for rogue psykers and other people with no choice but down they are generally home for however long their lives last-- which may not be very long even if they manage to survive the mutants, pollution, and everything else the underhive can throw at them, because the Adeptus Arbites are known to cull the populations of hives to keep them at a manageable level.

As a very loose upside, the underhive functions as a flush-valve for the dregs of society, a clear area to keep an eye on and fortify against, and something to focus the masses on hating rather than letting them hate upwards. On the further downside it's still a breeding ground for dangerous beasts, insane cultists (sometimes of the Genestealer variety), psykers, gangs, plagues, and worse, and getting down there to repair anything is a daunting if not impossible task for anything less well equipped than an entire arbites unit complete with armor support...and in older hives, it might even be utterly impossible for anything shy of a kitted out inquisitorial strike team or squadron of space marines!

Ancient Terran Proto-Hive (990.M1) The Kowloon walled city hit a lot of the marks for a Hive's lower levels

Aside from all the other dangers, there are also hivequakes, which is what happens when part of the lower levels settles or breaks down further and things above it are affected. This can be localized, widespread, or even catastrophic if the piece that finally gives out was bracing things that were holding up chains of supports that lead to collapses much further above. They can also lead to invasions of mutants and renegades, especially if the quake opens up a sizable rift into the heart of the hive where the underhivers can loot valuables and necessities. Thus in many hives hivequakes are as common as weather pattern shifts and contribute to the sense of paranoia that already comes with living in an overpopulated spire stuffed with billions of religiously hateful, often violent, or outright criminal people only barely controlled by watchful and well-armed police forces.... if that. And you thought your neighborhood was bad! On the other hand, the people being invaded by the underhive during quakes are also well-armed, far more numerous, and fanatical zealots screaming at the top of their lungs. It's more dangerous for the underhivers, really, but desperation is desperation.

Oh, and the underhivers are every bit as fanatically devoted to the Emperor as anyone else in the Imperium (hell, even pirates are fanatics). (Not if you read Junktion by Matthew Farrer, almost no one gives a shit.)

As mentioned above, those who can live in hives are good at navigating crowds, familiar with a certain level of tech, and often very alert, all traits that make them good soldiers, inquisitorial fodder, or marine potentials (depending on their individual aptitudes). Humans who grow up in deep hives or lower down, like Ciaphas Cain tend to have pretty good senses of direction and spacial visualization, as well as navigate the dark pretty well. Hives also concentrate humanity into one location and provide them with tools and space to work, meaning massive amounts of labor gets done in a hive by a never ending tide of workers, so production is essentially nonstop.

Production Skub[edit]

This is, of course, one of or even the worst case of a plot hole in all of 40k. Because if the Imperium has so much production going on, why the fuck are the Imperial Guard so poorly equipped? There is no reason. It would mean that the Hives, the Imperial Worlds, and the Forge Worlds all devote only a minuscule fraction of their production to the Guard. Which makes no sense given the Imperium's situation (and hatred of aliens). They're being pushed back world-by-world and yet they aren't even trying to devote any notable amount of their production to the military? Bullshit.

Consider the following:
In 40k, the IoM is also devoting resources to Adeptus Mechanicus unit construction, Space Marine armor and weapons making, tank production, all of which do not compare to something like Titans, Knights, or such. As well, superheavies also take time, and so does manufacturing ammunition.
All this means that the IG gets the short end of the stick. They are also intended to be expendable, so in any case, giving them more complex gear would be bad. None of this is an excuse. Super-heavies, powered armor, Titans, Knights, etc. are not even remotely resource-intensive enough for a quadrillions sized army to be so poorly equipped when the Imperium's near entire population works in factories. On top of that, all of those supa-speshul products are *extremely few and rare.* The Imperium builds hardly any, so that's even less of an attempted excuse. No, it's just a massive plot-hole GW ignores because it must.
To be honest, a reason exists, and it's called "Adeptus Administratum". We should remember that the imperium is still a feudal confederation of nightmarish proportions and is run by something more akin to a 200 years old ford car than anything. The standard equipment of the imperial guards was decided emperor only knows how many millennia ago AND it can still vary from planet to planet. The imperium is so incredibly inefficient nowadays that every minor change to the standard equipment of untold bilions of troop would cause terrible side effects. Let's say that they decided that every lasgun [after 500 years of discussions] now necessitates a red dot scope. What this simple decision will cause would be no less than corruption, civil war on hundreds of planets, unrest, complicate relationships between all kinds of branches of the imperium and by the end of the first century not even the 0,0000001 of the lasguns will have the scope, and instead of a red dot scope it will be called twin-linked.

A Short Piece of Writefaggotry about Hives[edit]

The crowd. It never, ever goes away.

You share your pitiful, filthy dwelling with three other citizens. It is sweltering; if the energy is taken away for whatever arcane reasons, it can become a death trap where you will choke or desiccate.

You eat vat-grown algae at best, recycled human beings at worst. The air is polluted beyond reason, and has been through many lungs by the time it reaches you. All light is artificial, as are all surfaces; you will live your entire life many miles above a ground you will never know.

There are heretics, worshiping pure evil, who would kidnap you and tear your guts open for a daemon to lay waste to your land; alien hybrids preparing the terrain for a horde of hungry space locusts; crazy cults who adore the Emperor by killing in his name, the brutal thugs that pass as law enforcement, the warring gangs and their ever-escalating turf wars, the Arbites and their crushing book of Law. Perhaps you will be murdered by young, sadistic nobles with technology that seems like magic, or enslaved for arcane reasons; a fate better than that of the servitor, which will see you partially lobotomized and made into a mechanical servant of the Hive.

Your little world is liable to be invaded by bloodlust-driven hordes of green beasts, by the aforementioned space locusts, by legions of heretics – some of them twisted brothers of the warriors you have been taught are the Emperor’s angels - who will murder, sacrifice and rape their way until your planet gets dragged into Hell itself… and that's if a zombie plague doesn't get you first.

Ancient, powerful beings may engineer disasters for their own purposes, and you will never know it; similar, darker creatures may raid your city on their silent engines, eliminating all resistance as they laugh, taking away your loved ones for infernal purposes, taking you away, too, if you are not fast enough in ending your life.

The ground might collapse and your entire block fall into the utterly dark under-hive and its mutants, its lethal secrets; or it might rip open and let forth armies of cold, alien machines from eons ago who will murder everyone for no apparent reason. It could be that an empire obliterates your rulers and demand you submit to its Greater Good, lest you be herded to your death or pounded to dust from orbit.

ALL OF THIS will only be possible if the Inquisition does not one day decide to obliterate all life on the planet because they sincerely believe they have no right to let its population live, the risk of some threat spreading from it too great; you will not even see the cyclonic torpedo enter the atmosphere, as you have never seen the sky, but you and all the hundreds of billions will die just the same as the planet burns and is torn apart.

All this pain, all this danger, to one end; to allow you to work 16-hours days in a manufactorium so vast, no one knows its whole extent; you work endlessly to create implements of war, for the Imperium knows no peace, from the humble laser rifle a soldier will die clutching to a massive battle tank that will crush the Emperor's foes thousand of light years away. Odds are you will one day meet your end in this unfeeling factory, torn apart by a machine, dropping dead from exhaustion - or one day, you might be taken away, too, to become a Guardsman and perish standing, fighting an enemy beyond comprehension on a world you do not know.

You are not a person, subject of the Emperor. For that is the life of an Imperial citizen; it is better to die for something than to live for oneself.

See Also[edit]

  • Armageddon, a Hive World and site of three wars.
  • Cthonia, a Hive World and homeworld of the Luna Wolves/Sons of Horus (subjected to Exterminatus after the Horus Heresy).
  • Necromunda, a Hive World and the setting of the tactical skirmish game of the same name.
  • Nostramo, a Hive World that served as the homeworld of the Night Lords (subjected to Exterminatus by Konrad Curze).
  • Praetoria, a hive world that probably looks like something out of a Dickensian novel or a poem by Rudyard Kipling.
  • Terra, the Hive World to end all Hive Worlds, as humanity was born there. Or rather Ecumenopolis, since Hive Worlds usually have(badly polluted) wilderness areas but Terra is one planet sized city like Coruscant.
  • Zayth, a Hive world with a massive super continent that is bombarded with war, that instead of well placed trenches and fortifications like on Krieg, the city moves...
  • Forge World, another sort of world, dominated by manufacturing and research rather than residential construction.
  • Stalinvast: The Place where subtlety goes to die (its name is just Stalin and vast, like seriously?). The world was Exterminatused.
  • Orkiformed world: The Orky equivalent to Hive Worlds.
The Planets, Systems, Regions and Sectors of the Galaxy
Imperial Homeworlds: Holy Terra - Sacred Mars
Primarch Homeworlds: Baal - Barbarus - Caliban - Chemos - Chogoris - Colchis
Cthonia - Deliverance - Fenris - Inwit - Medusa - Nostramo
Nocturne - Nuceria - Olympia - Prospero - Macragge
Notable Imperial Worlds: Armageddon - Bakka - Cadia - Catachan - Cretacia - Ganymede
Hydraphur - Necromunda - Krieg - Kronus - Phyrr - Pythos - Sacris
Sanctuary 101 - Scelus - Scintilla - Tanith - Tartarus - Titan - Vigilus
Vraks - Zayth - 108/Beta-Kalapus-9.2
Daemon Worlds: Bathamor - Black Marble - Fleshworld - Glass Moon
Medrengard - Plague Planet - Sortiarius - Sicarus
Systems and Regions: Ghoul Stars - Halo Zone - Jericho Reach
Kaurava System - Solar System - Stygius Sector
T'au Septs - Taelus System - Ultramar
Types of Worlds: Agri-World - Craftworld - Daemon World - Death World - Eldar World
Forge World - Fortress World - Hive World - Civilised World - Tomb World