An Imperial backwater, Acreage is a Feudal World that lies in the Josian Reach Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector, connected to the rest of the sector by a few tenuous shipping routes. However, it is a world firmly under Imperial rule and provides its Imperial tithe in the form of raw materials and Astra Militarum manpower, sending ores to build the Emperor's battleships and men to fill His armies.
For most of the citizens of Acreage, the Emperor and the Imperium are merely another set of masters. The inhabitants would seldom think to raise their heads from their daily toil, whether it be in the gruel fields or the sky-mills, to contemplate what lies far beyond the bounds of their world.
A world divided into innumerable feudal demesnes, where armoured nobles clash and the people suffer under an oppressive serfdom. Acreage was formerly ruled over by the High King of the Grand Realm of Ascandia, but is currently in the grip of long-running and bloody war of succession. The years of misrule and desolation are taking their toll, as the planet’s level of technology is starting to backslide from its high medieval zenith -- a matter not helped by the merciless extraction of its Imperial tithe regardless of local conditions.
War of the Rhozes
The civil war on Acreage all started about five standard years earlier, in 994.M41, and like so many wars before, it could have easily been avoided. The world of Acreage is ruled by the High King of Ascandia, and in the eyes of the Imperium, he is also considered the Planetary Governor of Acreage. At the time, Gordanus was the reigning High King who had a long and prosperous reign, under which the soul-crushing toil of his subjects had been perhaps marginally easier -- or perhaps marginally harder -- soul-crushing toil being part of the average peasants' existence with a life expectancy of only twenty-six.
Finally, like all good kings, Gordanus died peacefully in his bed, or was possibly foully murdered -- the inhabitants are not big on autopsies or asking too many questions. With his recent death, the former High King had, unfortunately, left his twin daughters Rhozena and Rhozeia in direct succession to the throne. However, Gordanus failed to name either one as his successor before his death, so the girls turned to their ultimate lord and master, the Emperor of Mankind, to determine which of them was to take both the throne and title of Planetary Governor and rule over all of Acreage.
Tragically, an Administratum clerical error omitted the last two letters of the successor's name from the reply, stating only that Rhoze was now officially recognised as the ruler of Acreage. Initially the girls were cordial with each other and sent a series of requests for clarification. However, these seemed to fall on deaf ears and no further responses were forthcoming. In fact, the Administratum scrivener responsible for the initial mistaken missive had kept the issue quiet.
With silence from the Imperium, it didn’t take long for Rhozena and Rhozeia to resort to violence to ensure that each of them, and themselves alone, would become the ruler of Ascandia. In a matter of weeks each had amassed the support of dozens of lesser Nobles, each willing to swear to the validity of their chosen queen's claim to the throne and prove it with the blood of their citizens.
The resulting conflict has dragged on with neither of the Rhozes gaining much in the way of an advantage, due in equal parts to the primitive nature for their weapons (cannon, sword, and musket for the most part) and the treachery of their nobles (it is not uncommon for a lord's allegiance to change several times a day, often in the midst of a battle).
Ironically, the state of strife on Acreage has actually increased its level of Imperial tithe as both Rhozes frantically try and outdo the other in their service to the Imperium, no doubt hopeful that they will finally receive support to oust the other. This state of affairs has also led directly to the Administratum department responsible for the misunderstanding to own up to their involvement.
Claiming it was all part of a carefully devised plan, they have gone so far as to suggest that this kind of tithe boosting technique could be used on other worlds. In any case, as the war poses no threat or disruption to the planet's role within the Imperium, it has for the most part been ignored. Given all these factors, it seems unlikely that the situation on Acreage will resolve itself anytime soon, and the bloodshed and chaos will continue.
The same, however, cannot be said for the dominating class of Acreage's nobles (who often claim such titles on little more than strength of arms and poorly-forged documents). They are constantly in conflict, both clandestinely and overtly, to rule the vast toiling masses. Power equals status on Acreage. The amount of land and people a noble commands directly equates to his standing with the High King of Acreage, and it is the High King who carries the favour of the Imperium of Man, the greatest master of all.
On Acreage, the High King’s realm, known as Ascandia, spans the majority of the northern landmass, stretching for thousands of miles and encompassing hundreds of thousands of people, cultures, and scores of lesser feudal princes, kings and queens. It is a land of rugged mountains, dark icy forests and endless lonely plains, broken only by primitive villages and stinking greyish gruel fields or the precarious towering sky-mills.
For the last few years, however, the relative stability of this realm, and in fact most of Acreage, has been rent apart by a bloody civil war. The last High King died without naming an heir, leaving his surviving children to bicker and fight amongst themselves for the title in a war in which thousands have already perished. This has been a prosperous time for the nobles, as each has taken the advantage of the mayhem of war to expand their domains or settle old scores. It has also drawn more off-world interest to Acreage, in the form of mercenaries and traders, seeking to make a profit through selling skills, training and advanced weapons.
One such noble taking advantage of these off-world visitors is Prince Orcan, lord of the City of Olrakan. Also known as the Floating City, Olrakan sprawls along a section of the southern coast of Ascandia, where the foetid Chitin Swamps meet the dark waters of the Sea of Sorrows. The city is notable not only for its construction, standing atop countless rotting posts above the stinking waters of the swamp, but also for its proximity to one of Acreage’s few spaceports - Emperor’s Island, located several miles out to sea.
Prince Orcan has cultivated his position throughout the war by controlling much of the traffic to and from Emperor’s Island; brokering deals with other nobles for access to precious off-world cargo and skilled soldiers. Inevitably this monopoly has created a great deal of jealousy amongst his nearest neighbours, and more than once, Olrankan has been besieged by the cannon-barges and musketmen of a rival lord. However, the same off-world weapons and soldiers that have sparked such attacks have also ensured Orcan’s victory every time thus far. His rivals, however, have not yet been deterred and continue to try periodically to take the city by force.
Local Flora and Fauna
While Prince Orcan's attentions have been focused on the enemies outside his walls, a far more dangerous group of individuals have infiltrated his domain -- the Slaugth. Insidious and disturbing sentient aliens, the Slaugth are carrion eaters who use their vile cunning to foment war and strife so that they may feed off the resulting carnage.
Olrankan's constant state of turmoil has proved the perfect nesting ground and they have secretly set themselves up within the city to feed on its inhabitants. Not content to simply devour the war dead, the Slaugth have also been harvesting corpses and spreading terror themselves.
Every night they send out their alien pets -- xenos predators selected for their aggression and horrific natures -- to hunt the locals. These monsters kill indiscriminately and leave only tales of terror in their wake.
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 323
- Dark Heresy: Game Master's Kit (RPG), pg. 5
- Dark Heresy: Guide to the Calixis Sector (RPG), pg. 22
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 95