"Few born upon such inhospitable worlds will readily trust those who have not endured what they have. Instilling appropriate discipline is a difficulty faced by many Commissars, but the difficulties are regarded as acceptable, given the matchless survival instincts and natural resilience of such peoples."
- — Extract from the Tactica Imperialis
A Death World is a planet which is too dangerous for a variety of environmental and biosphere reasons to support widespread human settlement.
The types of Death Worlds are varied, ranging from planets that are covered by world-wide jungles that harbour vicious carnivorous plants and animals to barren rockscapes strewn with volcanoes and wracked by ion storms. In at least one case, the planet itself is alive.
These worlds are near-impossible to colonise by Mankind due to their environmental conditions or the nature of their biospheres.
Nonetheless, many of these worlds have large human settlements, which are notable for the strength and self-reliance of their people. Many of the people of these worlds are inducted into the Astra Militarum, or recruited by the Space Marines, a fact which is often the sole reason for the continued habitation of those worlds.
Some harbour rich mineral, vegetable, animal or gaseous resources that are of such value to the Imperium that a small human settlement will be maintained despite all the dangers.
It has been theorised by the Magi Biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus that many Death Worlds are the result of biological seeding by ancient advance Hive Fleets of the Tyranids that entered the Milky Way Galaxy long ago.
Many of the monstrous creatures inhabiting these worlds, such as the Kraken of Fenris and the Catachan Devil of the Jungle World of Catachan, have many features in common with Tyranid organisms, and may in fact be descended from them.
Left behind by the Hive Fleets that seeded these worlds and then moved on, these Tyranid species lost access to the Tyranid Hive Mind and so degenerated into unintelligent yet vicious animal species.
Life on a Death World
On paper, planets classified as Death Worlds should not be inhabited by humans. Often, however, something about these locations requires an ongoing physical presence even though life on the surface is not for the faint of heart or for the weak of body.
Everyone must pull his own weight and support the larger population, or else all face imminent destruction. The threats on these planets vary tremendously, from aggressive predators to weather abnormalities, but that does not stop humanity from thriving against the odds.
Individual roles and adherence to guidelines are crucial to the survival of any Death World outpost or colony. As a result, life is often regimented and punishment for ignoring assigned tasks is very harsh. Those unable to perform the more physical tasks provide support for those who can.
No effort is wasted, and anyone capable but unwilling is dealt with severely. On worlds where lack of support from others is a death sentence, the worst punishments can be simple banishment; should the offender survive, he assuredly would hesitate before repeating his error.
While it would be easy to stay in protected habitats, often the need for the planet's resources requires that those who live there engage its deadly environments directly. In many cases, braving the world's threats means protecting the crews harvesting mineral or biological resources.
For others, it means making sure that defence systems and other technologies remain operational despite the damaging effects of the planets' environments. Whatever the reason, life is often very short and therefore tenuous. That reality comes with the understanding that the duty to the settlement, facility or base outweighs the wants or needs of any single individual.
People hailing from Death Worlds are scarred individuals, both physically and emotionally. The ever-present spectre of death haunts them and can create a sense of detachment that stands in the way of strong interpersonal connections.
For most of them, someone near and dear to them has perished: in front of them, in their arms, or in extreme cases, by their own hands. As a result, they tend to be fiercely loyal to the group or larger body they serve, especially when the survival of that group is at risk, but also lean away from individual attachments lest those people be lost.
Death World natives are pragmatic and realistic. Many exhibit little tolerance for indirect options, and often rush to action before fully considering all possibilities.
Some call this hot-headed behaviour reckless. Very few Death World natives, however, do this out of a passionate need. They see a direct solution and move to execute with as little loss of community resources and lives as possible.
Because survival is instilled as a daily practice from birth, they are notoriously difficult to kill. Astra Militarum tithes from these worlds are renowned as some of the fiercest fighting troops the Imperium puts on the battlefield.
Though some also have specialty skills in the terrain of their homeworld, the combination of resourcefulness, physical skill, and sheer determination make them capable warriors on any battlefield.
As befits such hostile environments, Death World natives also make excellent Arbitrators, as their practical mindset and grit enable them to survive the deadly violence of that position. Those aligned with the Adeptus Mechanicus or the Adeptus Administratum, already fairly pragmatic in nature, also thrive as their technological and logistical skills are perpetually in need.
For all of them, the understanding of self-sacrifice for the larger well-being as well as the rapid thinking processes born from grappling with the constant threat of imminent death allow them to find effective solutions quickly when time is of the essence.
Notable Death Worlds
|Ag'Ni||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Alfrost||Segmentum Ultima||Unknown||Corvus Sub-Sector||Unknown||Unknown|
|Atonement||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Baal||Segmentum Ultima||Unknown||Unknown||Baal System||122,000|
|Baal Secundus||Segmentum Ultima||Unknown||Unknown||Baal System||Unknown|
|Caliban (Destroyed)||Segmentum Obscurus||Unknown||Unknown||Caliban System||N/A|
|Catachan||Ultima Segmentum||Unknown||Unknown||Catachan System||12,000,000|
|Dark Haven||Segmentum Obscurus||Cyclops Cluster||Unknown||Coronid Deeps||Unknown|
|Endymion Prime||Ultima Segmentum||Endymion Cluster||Unknown||Endymion System||1,100,000,000|
|Fedrid||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Markayn Marches||Unknown||Unknown|
|Fenris||Segmentum Obscurus||Unknown||Unknown||Fenris System||Unknown|
|Haddrack||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Drusus Marches||Unknown||Unknown|
|Kalidar||Segmentum Pacificus||Chiros Sector||Kalidar Sub-Sector||Kalidar System||Unknown|
|Karrik||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Markayn Marches||Unknown||Unknown|
|Kenov III||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Malfian Sub-Sector||Unknown||Unknown|
|Khazant||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Khazant System||Unknown|
|Kvaran IX||Segmentum Obscurus||Askellon Sector||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Luther Macintyre IX||Segmentum Tempestus||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||16,000|
|Malmar||Segmentum Obscurus||Eye of Terror||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Menazoid Epsilon||Segmentum Pacificus||Sabbat Worlds||Unknown||Menazoid Clasp||Unknown|
|Messia||Segmentum Obscurus||Screaming Vortex||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Mortressa||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Andrantis Sub-sector||Unknown||Unknown|
|Nectavus VI||Ultima Segmentum||Traxis Sector||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Phyrr||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Hazeroth Abyss||Unknown||Unknown|
|Piscina V||Segmentum Obscurus||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Pythos||Ultima Segmentum||Demeter Sector||Unknown||Pandorax System||Unknown|
|Vallyx V||Segmentum Ultima||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Vanity||Segmentum Ultima||Jericho Reach||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Woe||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Yanth||Segmentum Obscurus||Askellon Sector||Stygies Cluster||Unknown||Unknown|
|Zel Secundus||Segmentum Obscurus||Calixis Sector||Drusus Marches||Unknown||Unknown|
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 14-17, 30
- Codex: Blood Angels (4th Edition)
- Codex: Catachans (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 48
- Codex: Dark Angels (7th Edition), pg. 125
- Codex: Genesealer Cults (7th Edition), pg. 40
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 26
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 61
- Codex: Khorne Daemonkin (7th Edition), pg. 34
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 8, 19, 29, 54-59, 73, 78, 112, 144-145
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 8, 26
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pg. 22
- Codex: Tyranids (4th Edition), pg. 14
- Dataslate: Adeptus Astartes Storm Wing pg. 8
- Dataslate: Cypher - Lord of the Fallen, pg. 36
- Dataslate: Reclusiam Command Squad
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (3rd Edition), pg. 115
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 115
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 153
- Warhammer 40,000: Crusade of Fire (Campaign Book), pp. 21-25
- Warhammer 40,000: Death Worlds (Warhammer 40,000 Battle Missions)
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard & Imperial Navy, pp. 83, 132, 239
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Second Edition: Imperial Guard, pg. 123
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Second Edition, pg. 26
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badabe War, Part One, pg. 6
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War, Part Two, pp. 14-15, 18-19, 69, 89, 119
- Imperial Armour Volume Thirteen - War Machines of the Lost & The Damned, pg. 23
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pp. 116-117
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest by Alan Bligh, pp. 62-63, 66-67, 122-129
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Blood (RPG), pp. 102-104
- Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema (RPG), pp. 39, 42, 44-46
- Dark Heresy: Enemies Without (RPG)(2nd Edition), pp. 26-27
- Dark Heresy: Shattered Hope (RPG), pg. 28
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pg. 114
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 59
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 207, 209, 214-215
- Caves of Ice (Novel) Sandy Mitchell
- Conquest of Armageddon (Novel) by Johnathan Green
- Firedrake (Novel) by Nick Kyme
- First and Only (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Nocturne (Novel) by Nick Kyme
- Redemption Corps (Novel) by Rob Sanders
- Salamanders (Novel) by Nick Kyme
- The Beast Arises - Book Two: Predator, Prey(Novel) by Rob Sanders
- The Beast Arises - Book Seven: The Hunt For Vulkan(Novel) by David Annandale
- The Damnation of Pythos (Novel) by David Annandale
- The Greater Good (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Legends of the Space Marines (Anthology), "Orphans of the Kraken," by Richard Williams
- There Is Only War (Anthology), "Voidsong," (Short Story) by Henry Zou
- Tome of Fire (Anthology), "Hell Night," & "The Firebrand," by Nick Kyme
- Victories of the Space Marines (Anthology), "Runes" (Short Story) by Chris Wraight
- What Price Victory? (Anthology), "Calculus Logi" (Short Story) by Darius Hinks
- Cold Steel (Short Story) by David Guyer
- Stormseeker - A Space Wolves Story (Short Story) by Alec Worley
- Index Astartes II, "Angels of Death - The Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter"
- Index Astartes IV, "Promethean Warriors - The Salamanders Space Marine Chapter," by Graham McNeill & Gav Thorpe
- The Citadel Journal 22, pp. 49-55, 59
- The Citadel Journal 49, pg. 26
- Warhammer Monthly #62, pp. 64-65, 67-68
- White Dwarf Weekly 77 (UK) (18, July 2015), "Regiments of Renown"
- White Dwarf 388 (UK), "Death Worlds of the Imperium," pp. 76-85
- White Dwarf 330 (UK), "Warhammer 40,000: Blood Angels Official Codex," pg. 70
- White Dwarf 218 (UK), "The Coming of the Great Devourer," pg. 80
- White Dwarf 168 (UK), pg. 39
- Black Industries "Guide to the Calixis Sector" (PDF), pp. 26-27, 36-37
- Fantasy Flight Games - Warhammer 40,000: Conquest (CCG), "Jungles of Nectavus," (War Pack) Preview
|General||Dead World • Death World • Desert World • Ice World • Jungle World • Ocean World|
|Imperium||Adeptus Astartes Homeworld • Agri-World • Armoury World • Cardinal World • Cemetery World • Civilised World • Feral World • Feudal World • Forbidden World • Forge World • Fortress World • Frontier World • Hive World • Industrial World • Knight World • Mining World • Pleasure World • Penal World • Quarry World • Research Station • Sentinel World • Shrine World|
|Xenos||Craftworld • Crone World • Exodite World • Maiden World • Ork World • Tau Sept • Tomb World • Xenos World|