Balecaster is an Imperial Feudal World in the Markayn Marches sub-sector of the Calixis Sector of the Segmentum Obscurus. Known to its inhabitants as "Skorn," the planet was settled by Mankind several millennia ago.
The planet has never progressed beyond a medieval, pre-industrial level of technology and written records of its history are all but non-existent.
Geography and Inhabitants
The Imperial Administratum believes that the first Human settlers arrived around the 35th Millennium, and displaced the local indigenous population of sentients who were at that time uncategorised as either xenos or Human.
This is still a matter for conjecture, as some scholars have postulated an even earlier colonisation attempt around the 20th Millennium based on extrapolating the path of ancient colony ships.
Regardless of their pedigree, the indigenous people discovered by the Human settlers and known as "Bonehunters" are a primitive race dedicated to barbaric pursuits. Conflict between Imperial citizens and the indigenous population is known to be frequent and bloody.
Skorn consists of one main continent and two substantial islands, upon which there are three civilisations that the Imperium recognises. Encroaching on the northwestern island and dominating the central continent is Gotland, a grim land of even more grim people ruled by the tyrant King Regent Tileon.
Spanning the edges of the western continent from north to south, and with pockets of settlement all over the planet are the Omorians, seers, dabblers, and Machiavellian plotters.
On the eastern island and the most easterly portions of the western continent is Machria, a land with a violent martial history, as well as a staunch tradition of enslaving their enemies.
Each civilisation seeks only to conquer the others, and they have existed like this for as far as the three peoples can remember. From this conflict has come many exceptional warriors suitable for recruitment by the Astra Militarum.
Recruitment of entire regiments are regular events, and all the local rulers ask for in return is enough high-technology to keep their strangleholds on power. On Skorn, a warrior with a mere lasgun will have a great advantage over his adversaries.
The ecology of Skorn is mostly native, with only a few introduced species including bovines (grox), equines, and canines. The apex-predators of the world are the Bonehunters, because they are both savage and possessed of a degenerated Human intelligence that makes them cunning and unpredictable.
The only creatures that rival the Bonehunters, at least in wilderness areas, are the numerous unclassified species of large native cats, similar to Terran tigers but possessed of larger incisors and having shaggy pelts that are more suited to camouflage.
Poisonous insects and invertebrates are uncommon, mainly being found in the desert regions, particularly scorpions and poisonous catcher-plants. The skies of Skorn are no less peaceful than the land or the sea, and raptors are so plentiful that they often resort to hunting each other for food.
The largest aerial predator is a black, night-hunting bird with large forward facing eyes, like an owl, possessing over-developed claws and incredibly powerful legs that can break a Human's arm. Small animals are locked up at night, but larger animals that herd are usually safe if in numbers and if carefully watched.
The Knights of the Star Sanctum
The Knights of the Star Sanctum are an elite order of trident-armed warriors, decked in all-encasing bloodshine armour. They are the most powerful military force on Balecaster and to go against the king would bring down the fury of the Star Sanctum.
The Star Sanctum's origins are murky at best and there are numerous explanations about how they came into existence, many of which are at odds with one another.
By far the most popular story is that the knights were once a warrior cult comprised of the best warriors from amongst the primitive tribes that roamed the world's central continent.
While it's not clear what brought these warriors together -- the most contentious part of their legends -- what is known is that they met in a hidden chamber far below the planet's surface, a place known as the Star Sanctum.
There, the knights codified the purpose of their order and mastered the fighting arts of their preferred weapons. Their detractors claim that far more than just their fighting style originated from this legendary chamber, and all sorts of stories about human sacrifice, worship of unspeakable forces and perverted rituals abound.
That the knights remain silent on their origins does little to refute these claims, though their fierce reputation is enough to keep their enemies from voicing their theories in a more public forum.
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG)
- Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 98