The Knight Worlds are human-settled, technologically-advanced planets within the Imperium of Man that are home to the powerful, robotic combat walkers known as Imperial Knights. Knight Worlds are allied with both the Imperium directly and are also sometimes part of the demesne of the Adeptus Mechanicus. They almost universally maintain feudal cultures and social structures reminiscent of the Terran Middle Ages during the early 2nd Millennium AD. These planets are descended from venerable human colonies first settled during the Dark Age of Technology.
Ancient oaths of fealty mean that the Imperial Knights that call these worlds home, and for which they are named, are sworn to protect their citizens. These oaths also require that the Knights fight against the Imperium's and sometimes the Mechanicus' enemies when called upon to do so. The Knight Worlds are ruled by feudal "Noble" houses called Knight Houses because their members are trained to pilot the massive humanoid war machines that are the Imperial Knights. Many Knight Worlds are politically and economically linked with a nearby Mechanicus Forge World and their Knights are considered to be a part of what is known in High Gothic as the "Questor Mechanicus." Others remain completely independent of the Tech-priests' ambitions and serve the Imperium directly, their Nobles members of the so-called "Questor Imperialis."
There are many hundreds of Knight Worlds scattered throughout the vast empire of Mankind. The bold explorers of humanity's first interstellar expansion during the Age of Technology travelled far and wide into the galactic wilderness seeking habitable worlds or planets that could otherwise be terraformed to sustain human life. Many of these exploratory fleets were equipped with Standard Template Construct (STC) technology that included the schematics for the Knight, enabling them to protect the colonies they established.
More than fifteen millennia after their ancient ancestors set out into the stars, the distant descendants of these human colonists dwell still on Knight Worlds scattered across the demesne of the Imperium. Though many knightly houses have risen and fallen over the ages, those that remain can trace their heritage back to a time before the birth of the Imperium, and are justifiably proud of their ancestry. Thus is every Knight World heavy with the weight of the past, regardless of its galactic location or level of technological advancement.
Long before the rise of the Emperor and the birth of the Imperium, during the Age of Technology humanity reached out to the stars, eager to occupy new worlds and expand its burgeoning interstellar empire. Vast colonisation starships carried eager human settlers, along with all the resources they might require, and landed on far-flung, often isolated worlds.
The first Knight Worlds were founded at the very start of the Age of Technology, when scouts from Terra travelled far through the galaxy seeking planets to use as agricultural worlds to provide food for Mankind's burgeoning population, or as mining colonies to provide the materials needed to fuel their expansion across the stars. Indeed, the Knight Worlds had already been established for thousands of standard years when the Imperium was first founded in the 30th Millennium. When those first human scout ships discovered a suitable planet for colonisation, gigantic spacecraft were dispatched to settle them. These ships were part of Terra's Long March fleets, named after the duration of their voyage and their destination among the stars. The name was apt; each of the Long March colony starships carried thousands of settlers on a decade-long journey to a far distant planet. Upon arrival, the colony ship would land and be immediately cannibalised by the colonists to provide the raw materials needed for their first settlements; there was no hope of return to Mankind's distant homeworld.
The struggle for survival on many of these worlds was grim. On some, the settlers found themselves the prey of vicious predators or were attacked by native alien races, which saw the human settlers as invaders. On other worlds, extreme weather conditions or an unbreathable atmosphere made travel outside of domed habitat-zones next to impossible. However, problems like these had been anticipated, and in order to deal with them, the settlers were supplied with Standard Template Construct (STC) databases and fabrication facilities that allowed them to build powered suits of exoarmour. The pilots of these bipedal walking machines were protected by a hard shell of Plasteel and armed with an array of military-grade heavy weapons. The suits proved invaluable: few, if any, natural predators or hostile alien warriors could stand against them, and they could travel through even the most dangerous environment with ease. The towering armoured figures soon became a common sight on the colonies, where they were known as Knights by the settlers, after the legendary armoured warriors and protectors of ancient Terran history.
Compelled by the mind-altering effects instilled by the Thrones Mechanicum (a mind impulse control platform that allows a pilot to mentally interface with their Knight battlesuit), over the course of a few generations, these elite warriors gradually developed a society that evolved into the knightly houses. The plasteel plates of the original exo-skeleton suits were slowly replaced with more ornate armour made from adamantium, providing better protection as well as a panoply befitting the wearer's prestige and rank in his society. The more mundane duties that the Knights had once taken part in on the colony worlds -– logging with their mighty Reaper Chainswords, for example, or blasting apart rock ore with their rapid-fire Battle Cannons -– were delegated to those of lesser ranks, allowing the Knights to focus on the arts of war and governorship.
Dwelling in tall strongholds, the Nobles strove to protect the lives of their subjects (as they now saw the settlers they protected) and to bring order to the primeval maelstrom on the planets that were their homes. The knightly houses proved to be highly successful at both of these things, and soon became a vital part of human society during the Age of Technology.
The Age of Strife
Tragically, the Age of Technology was doomed to fall and devolve into a shadow of its former glory. Around the time of the 22nd Millennium AD, Mankind's vast galactic empire began to suffer a pandemic of terrible wars and massive invasions, caused, at least in part, by the emergence of the first human psykers and the widespread use of quasi-sentient machines remembered in human myth as the Iron Men. By the 25th Millennium, ferocious Warp Storms had largely isolated the widespread human colonies, and the era that came to be known as the Age of Strife had well and truly begun. During this lamentable era of human history, also sometimes referred to as Old Night, interstellar travel to many of these human-settled worlds was made impossible due to the massive Warp Storms caused by the birth of the foul Chaos God Slaanesh during the Fall of the Eldar.
Although vast swathes of the Knight Worlds fell to this storm of death and destruction, some survived, aided considerably by the innate conservatism and resistance to change of the knightly houses. Where other planets welcomed psykers into their midst, and revelled in the luxurious lifestyle that advanced thinking machines could provide, the knightly houses had largely shunned both, preferring to stick with the traditions and technology of the past. Thus, when the violence that presaged the Age of Strife struck, hundreds of Knight Worlds were sidelined or ignored, and took little direct part in the terrible conflicts that tore the rest of humanity apart. Cut off and alone, the knightly houses were quickly forgotten by the other colonies. Left to their own devices, the warrior aristocracy cemented their control and –- encouraged by the psychological manipulations caused by the process of imprinting their suits of Knight armour -– almost all of them enforced neo-feudal systems on their homeworlds.
During the latter years of this tumultuous age, the Mechanicum of Mars began sending out many starships that made use of sublight drives to explore the galaxy in search of Standard Template Construct (STC) technologies on lost human colony worlds. In the course of their travels, these slow-moving exploratory expeditions discovered large clusters of human-settled star systems that had once belonged to the ancient interstellar human confederacy that had existed during the Dark Age of Technology. But these worlds had regressed during the Age of Strife to become Feudal Worlds possessed of a pre-industrial, feudal culture dominated by castes of warrior aristocrats. The societies that evolved were built upon concepts of fealty, honour and duty; three things that all Knights hold in the greatest regard. All of the Nobles on a Knight World owed their allegiance to a knightly house, whose ruler could call upon them at any time to carry out his commands. Each house could also field large numbers of men-at-arms, either mounted or on foot. The houses also had groups of artificers and technicians who maintained the suits of Knight armour as best they could, and over time, became an integral part of society on all of the Knight Worlds.
Sometimes the ruler of a knightly house would come from the same family for generation after generation, but more often than not, the death of an incumbent ruler would lead to a period of political manoeuvring or even outright warfare until a new monarch was selected. Competition between different knightly houses on a planet was just as intense, and although full-scale battles were rare, all strived to outdo their rivals in any way they could, be it in the field of politics, ancient traditions, or contests of their skill at arms. On the Knight World of Higroxias, for example, once every ten standard years, the three major houses compete against each other in a series of trials known as the Honour Games, the winner of which rules the Governing Council for the next decade. As the Age of Strife stretched from centuries into millennia, the Knight Worlds became increasingly insular and inward-looking. Each developed its own titles and terms, so that on one Knight World the ruler of a knightly house would be known as a Lord, while on another they might be called a Ritter or Patriarch, and a Noble's stronghold could be known as their castle, fastness or mansion. Without any outside contact, ritual and etiquette started to dominate daily life within the knightly houses, and the only escape from stultifying tradition lay in donning a suit of Knight armour and taking to the field of battle.
The Coming of the Imperium
After five thousand Terran years, the Imperium of Mankind arose from the ruins of the Age of Strife. Under the guidance of the Emperor, Humanity returned to the stars and began the Great Crusade to reunite Mankind. Nothing was able to stand in the way of the resurgent Imperial armies, and soon, human colonies on planets all across the galaxy were brought within the fold of the newly formed Imperium. When Rogue Trader Militant Jeffers rediscovered a Knight World, Chrysis, for the first time, he quickly realised the knightly houses could be valuable allies for the Emperor's armies. In his reports, he pointed out the Knights' many virtues, and emphasised the world's value to the Imperium as a source of born and bred warriors. The Administratum agreed with Jeffers' findings and set about finding the rest of the long-lost Knight Worlds. Although there were thousands of Knight Worlds at their height during the Dark Age of Technology, the vast majority had been destroyed or died out during the Age of Strife. Now, only several hundred survive, scattered all across the galaxy. Most of the Knight Worlds share certain features, hallmarks of the instructions followed by the original settlers. The Nobles themselves occupy sprawling walled strongholds, each a gothic, ancient structure of dusty, lifeless halls and corridors. Many are built on the same location as the first human settlements on the planet and include at their core parts of the giant colony sublight starships used to transport the first settlers to their new worlds. They can vary in size from small keeps to entire cities bordered by vast outer walls.
Huge farms or strip-mines surround the strongholds, providing foodstuffs and raw materials for local use and export across the galaxy; the colony ships' purpose was always to generate resources for Mankind. It is in these settlements that the vast majority of Imperial citizens on Knight Worlds live, with few venturing more than a dozen miles from their place of birth. In addition to these settlements, vast grazing herds of beasts wander through the wildernesses between the strongholds -- more often than not, these are huge reptilian creatures that were introduced to the planet as livestock in the Age of Technology. Packs of local predators will often pursue the grazing herds or attack the farms surrounding a stronghold, and it is the duty of the Knights to fight to keep them at bay. Even on planets with less ferocious flora and fauna, the Knights must be constantly vigilant in order to keep the herds and farms safe from alien raiders and rapacious pirates.
The Forge Worlds
Most knightly houses, though by no means all, are associated with a Forge World, and in return for fighting alongside that Forge World's Titan Legions, they gain access to advanced technology and knowledge that only the Adeptus Mechanicus possess. The association between the knightly houses and the Adeptus Mechanicus dates back to the time of the Great Crusade. When the Knight Worlds were first discovered, the different Imperial organisations that made up the Great Crusade competed ferociously with each other to gain control of the valuable resource the Knights represented. This Machiavellian political contest went on for decades, until the Mechanicum of Mars was finally able to establish their dominance in the right to exploit the Knight Worlds. The Mechanicum were driven in this by a desire to gain control of the archeotech that could be found in abundance on the ancient Knight Worlds, but were also aware that the vast natural resources and military might of the knightly houses could make them a valuable asset. To this end, once they had established their right to exploit the Knight Worlds, they set about making them dependent upon the Mechanicum for their continued survival.
At the time of the Great Crusade, the Tech-priests' space fleets found an anarchic galaxy where the ancient confederacy of interdependent human planets no longer existed. The surviving Knight Worlds that were discovered had not retained all of their old technology and had devolved into feudal states ruled by aristocrats. The Tech-priests settled amongst these feudal empires, founding many Forge Worlds, and established contacts with the knightly houses, trading with their worlds and investigating the ancient ruins where surviving technology could still sometimes be found. The ferocious warrior Knights proved invaluable in combating enemies such as marauding Orks and land-hungry Eldar Exodites. In return, the Tech-priests promised technical expertise and helped the Nobles to rebuild their planets to the Imperial standard of technology. The most important thing that the Tech-priests brought to the Knight Worlds was the knowledge and technology needed to maintain the Nobles' suits of battle armour. Over the course of the Age of Strife, much of the expertise needed to keep the complex Knight armour working had been lost. Local technicians and artificers did their best to maintain the suits, but in many cases, they simply did not have the necessary technical ability. When the Knight Worlds were rediscovered, most had only a handful of operational suits remaining, and even these were in a poor state of repair. The Mechanicum promised to remedy this situation by inducting the local technicians that had been caring for the armour into the Cult Mechanicus, teaching them the skills they needed to keep the Knight armour in good repair. Because of this, nearly all suits of Knight armour now bear the mark of the Cult Mechanicus as a reminder of the debt of gratitude they owe to Mars.
Over the millennia, the Forge Worlds have grown powerful, with the Knight Worlds flourishing alongside them. Year-long, the Knights battle and patrol until the great cargo ships arrive from a Forge World, bringing new Knight suits, weapons, tools and mining machinery. They leave with their holds packed with ores and food. The Tech-priests and the Knights are now mutually dependent, and many Forge Worlds form the hub of a tiny empire consisting of a Forge World and its surrounding Knight Worlds. In return, the Knights have gained much from the Tech-priests, their worlds gradually returning to being technically sophisticated cultures. However, the relationship between Forge World and Knight World is not always an easy one, and nowhere is this more true than in the fraught relationship between the Knights and the Sacristans trained by the Adeptus Mechanicus to maintain their armour.
The Horus Heresy
The golden age of the Great Crusade was to be cut short by the supreme act of betrayal known as the Horus Heresy, during which the galaxy was gripped by the most bitter civil war humanity had ever seen. Across the nascent Imperium, rebels clashed with Loyalists for the fate of Mankind. Space Marines fought Space Marines, Titans fought Titans and, alongside them, Imperial Knights fought Imperial Knights. In those dark days, nobody was to be trusted and treachery was as much a part of warfare as Bolter shells, Volcano Cannons and Drop Pods. One of the most horrific betrayals of the war occurred on the planet of Molech. As the Warmaster Horus led his armies to Terra, he left a trail of destruction in his wake hundreds of light years wide. His forces seemed unstoppable as garrison after garrison fell before his might, or changed allegiance and sided with the traitorous commander. It was on the planet of Molech that one of the most determined stands was to be made. Loyalist Titan Legions and over a hundred Imperial Army regiments and knightly houses stood ready to bear the brunt of the Warmaster's attack in an attempt to halt his inexorable advance. When it came, it was like a hurricane unleashed upon the verdant world.
Horus' initial assault devastated many cities and strongholds, and amongst the victims were Molech's rulers –- House Devine. Dispossessed and unable to fight back, the knightly house slowly succumbed to the temptations of Chaos. Over the following months, the insidious whisper of Slaanesh -– Dark Prince of Chaos and god of indulgence and excess –- spread through their depleted ranks. Their officers became lethargic, interested only in their sports, using their mighty Knight suits to hunt the towering reptilian beasts that stalked Molech's lush jungles. The seductive grip of Slaanesh grew stronger, as the Prince of Pleasure bent the force of his will to corrupting the Noble Devines. Soon, they met in secret cabals, performing depraved rites and ceremonies within the heart of the Loyalist camp. No act was too shameful or disgusting; the sensations of the moment became their only desire. When Horus launched a massive offensive, the Knights of House Devine committed an act of brazen treachery and turned on the troops who remained loyal to the Emperor. The Imperial forces found themselves caught in a trap, with advancing Traitor Titans to the front and Renegade Knights attacking their ranks from behind. This treachery allowed the Chaos host to punch through the Imperial defences, leaving them with no line of retreat. They were totally defeated, so brutally that only one in a hundred of the troops of the Imperial Army surviving the campaign. Since that first betrayal, only a handful of knightly houses have been corrupted by Chaos, even when the Forge Worlds to which they owed fealty became part of the Dark Mechanicum. Presumably when the Warmaster was defeated, these Chaos-corrupted Knight Houses fled alongside the Traitor Legions into the Eye of Terror, where they remain to this day.
The Great Rift
It has long been assumed by the lords of Terra and their administrators that the great majority of surviving Knight Worlds have been returned to the fold of Mankind -- they are either paying the Imperial Tithe on those planets affiliated with the Imperium, or have allied themselves more closely with the Adeptus Mechanicus.
However, the galaxy is vast, and those bold early explorers travelled far and wide. There is much that still remains unexplored by the Imperium, and it is possible that there exist some far-flung Knight Worlds that have not yet regained contact with Humanity.
Since the catastrophic manifestation of the Great Rift, many loyal Knight Worlds have been cut off from the greater Imperium in the Imperium Nihilus. Dark forces besiege them from without, even as mutants and madmen rise up from within. Yet the Knight Worlds have been here before, and their traditions and rituals are purposely designed to stave off the terrors from without. Brave and resolute, they are lighting their watchfires once more, even as they despatch crusading lances to aid their neighbouring worlds and star systems. Not for twenty millennia have the Knights been so desperately needed as champions and protectors of Mankind.
A Legacy of Honour
- The Age of Terra (M1-M15) - A combination of an enormous boom in population and Terra's rapidly-diminishing natural resources in the 3rd Millennium leaves humanity's birth planet on the brink of anarchy. As these problems increase in severity, Mankind begins to look farther afield -- towards the stars. Mars is the first planet to be terraformed and settled. Colonial expeditions to explore space beyond the boundaries of the Sol System meet with success. However, the settlements furthest from Terra are forced to become increasingly self-sufficient due to the limitations of sublight interstellar travel.
- The Age of Technology (M15-M25) - STC technology is mastered by some of the greatest scientific minds in Mankind's history and heralds a golden era of discovery, innovation and expansion. By harnessing the other-worldy gifts of the human mutant psykers known as Navigators, Warp travel is developed, enabling starfaring ships to swiftly travel enormous distances across space. STC systems transform the way that new colony worlds are settled. The first Knight Worlds are established as human colonies begin to flourish on more than a million worlds across the galaxy. Towards the end of this remarkable era, the ever-increasing number of human psykers and an over-reliance on technology ultimately leads to the downfall of Mankind's glorious expansion, which descends into turmoil, anarchy and war.
- The Knights Stand Alone (ca. M23) - Influenced by the Thrones Mechanicum of their Knight suits, the aristocracy of the feudal societies established on each Knight World remain conservative and most are instinctively mistrustful of any psykers in their midst. As a result, many of the Knight Worlds resist the madness that grips so many other human colonies. Though daemonic possessions and devastating psychic backlashes do indeed threaten many Knight Worlds, the military strength of the Knights and their rigid societal organisations largely serve to protect them. The ancient records of many knightly houses bear reference to this troubled time, of Knights duelling gigantic Warp entities or battling knee-deep against an endless tide of daemons from beyond the veil of reality.
- The Age of Strife (M25-M30) - Human worlds throughout the galaxy are isolated by Warp Storms of terrible ferocity. A disastrous age of suspicion and dread begins as internecine conflict tears human civilisation apart. Fear and superstition lead to a regression in Mankind's mastery of science and many technological marvels of the previous age are lost to paranoia and war. Aliens and daemons alike prey on humanity's vulnerability, and although many planets are subjugated or lost, the surviving Knight Worlds continue to stand firm through this turbulent time -- however, none do so without earning scars that linger to this day.
- The Emperor Arrives on Mars (ca. M30) - Knight Taymon Verticorda, of House Taranis, is the first representative of the Mechanicum to encounter the Emperor on His arrival on Mars. In His guise as the Omnissiah, the Emperor forges an auspicious alliance between Mars and the newly unified Terra that forms the backbone of his fledgling Imperium. This pact becomes known as the Treaty of Mars, otherwise known as the Treaty of Olympus Mons to the Mechanicum. Preparations are made for a great undertaking to reunite the lost worlds of Mankind.
- The Great Crusade Begins (798.M30)
- The First of Many (ca. 850.M30) - The Knight World of Chrysis is rediscovered. The Mechanicum uses its influence to claim exclusive trading rights with many of the Knight Worlds that are later found. Forge Worlds are established near mineral-rich Knight Worlds, and bonds of mutual respect and military support become commonplace between the Mechanicum and the knightly houses.
- The Horus Heresy (005-014.M31) - In an act of staggering treason, the Warmaster Horus declares himself the rightful ruler of Mankind. The base treachery of the Emperor's favoured son shatters the newly founded Imperium and sets the galaxy aflame. Brother fights brother as fully half of the Space Marine Legions side with the Archtraitor Horus, alongside numerous Titan Legions and countless regiments of the Imperial Army.
- A Devine Treachery (009.M31) - On the planet of Molech, the sudden defection of House Devine proves to be the pivotal factor in the defeat of the Loyalist forces seeking to halt Horus' relentless advance on Terra. As the Warmaster unleashes a massive coordinated assault, the planet's defenders are thrown into disarray when the plasma reactor of the Imperator Titan, Paragon of Terra, is destroyed. Thousands of Loyalists are immolated in a blinding flash as a miniature sun erupts from the Titan's core to leave a smoking crater half a mile wide. In the wake of the catastrophic blast, a spearhead of Traitor Titans marches through the gap in the Imperial lines. Caught between the treacherous Knights of House Devine and Horus' rampant forces, the shattered remnants of Molech's defenders are slaughtered without mercy.
- The Death of Traitors (ca. M31) - Horus lies dead at the hands of the Emperor. But so high is the cost of victory that many seek solace in hounding the fleeing Traitors across the stars rather than face the task of rebuilding the shattered Imperium. This campaign of vengeance is known as the Great Scouring. The surviving knightly houses with the strength to fight unanimously join in this crusade of retribution. Believing the honour of the many to be stained by the treachery of the few, the Imperial Knights hunt down the knightly houses that sided with Horus with extreme prejudice, seeking to redeem their tarnished reputation. Filled with righteous indignation, a combined strike force of Knights from Houses Cadmus, Terryn and Borgius annihilates the turncoats of House Devine as Imperial forces reclaim the Knight World of Molech.
- Defiance on Vorinth (544.M32) - An Ork WAAAGH! of unprecedented scale sweeps into Imperial space. Hundreds of worlds are devastated before the Ork menace is finally defeated. Lying directly in the path of the enormous Greenskin armada, the Knight World of Vorinth is one of the first planets to fall. Though they fight bravely, the Knights of Houses Illius and Nero are impossibly outnumbered and die to the last in combat with the all-conquering Orks. With the main Greenskin host advancing on Adamant Keep -- the stronghold of House Illius -- the surviving Knights of both houses gather for one last charge. The Orks are totally unprepared for the sudden ferocity of the Knights' counterattack and suffer heavy losses as the Battle Cannons of the Knight Paladins blast smoking holes in the Ork lines. The Knights Errant take advantage of the stalling Ork assault to crash into their crude vehicle squadrons and carve them to ruin. Only when a mob of twenty Stompas rampages into the fray are the Knights finally overwhelmed. Twice, the solemn tolling of the Bell of Lost Souls is heard as Terra mourns the passing of the rulers of Houses Illius and Nero.
- The Aphex Wars (369.M34)
- A Long-Awaited Return (784.M34) - After more than a century of self-imposed exile as a Freeblade household detachment, the Agaron brothers return to the Knight World of Silverdawn after the death of their father. The siblings are welcomed back as heroes after the disastrous reign of their sire. Basilio, the eldest of the three, re-establishes trade with the nearby Forge Worlds of Estaban III and VII.
- The War of Recovery (104.M36) - Twelve full houses of Imperial Knights accompany an expedition led by the Adeptus Mechanicus into the system of planets known as the Mortuam Chain. Despite the fighting against the region’s xenos overseers dragging on for more than a standard century, the campaign is ultimately a resounding success. Many human colonies are freed from alien servitude. This is an irrelevance to the Adeptus Mechanicus, compared to the priceless fragments of STC archeotech that are recovered.
- Betrayal (550.M37) - The Occlusiad War, also known simply as the Occlusiad, is a major conflict that begins in 550.M37 on the northwestern fringe of the Segmentum Obscurus between the Imperium of Man and the Heretek known as the Blind King. For the first time in thousands of years, a knightly house betrays its oaths of loyalty, joining the Apostles of the Blind King to cause ruinous destruction across the northwestern fringe. Though the Blind King's rogue Tech-priests are eventually defeated, the traitorous Knights of House Drakon remain unaccounted for.
- The Hunt for Andronicus
- Justice (986.M38) - More than a thousand standard years after betraying their oaths of loyalty to the Imperium, the Traitor Knights of House Drakon re-emerge at the head of a twisted host of daemon machines created by the Dark Mechanicum. The Warp-forged monstrosities are finally defeated amid the desecrated ruins of the Forge World of Solemnium, after the Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter brings them to battle. However, it is the actions of a single Freeblade Knight that travels with the Space Marines that determine the course of the war. Known only as Justice, the Freeblade displays an incredible aptitude for destroying the Traitor Knights, earning seven confirmed kills during the course of the war. Rumours abound in the wake of the conflict of quite how the lone Knight achieved such a mastery of combat against others of his kind. Of their enigmatic ally's past, however, the Iron Hands would not speak. Despite some of House Drakon's Knights escaping Imperial reprisal, their strength is now greatly diminished.
- The Red Harvest of Dalanthe (888.M39) - When a harvest moon hangs in the skies above Dalanthe, the agri-workers put the children's stories of the Gorehaunter to the back of their minds. Though many citizens deride him for it, the Freeblade Knight known as Vigilantus stands on silent guard at Dalanthe's High Templus for three long solar months. When a Warp breach opens during a riot in Executioner's Square, a goliath of brass and bone rampages out through the populace. It is met in battle by Vigilantus. Though the Knight is torn limb from limb, his last act is to decapitate the raging Lord of Skulls with a blast from his Thermal Cannon, banishing it back to the Warp for another thousand years.
- The Many Quests of Theodric the Wanderer (853-999.M40)
- Not Even in Death (854.M40) - A trio of Knights from House Krast join Space Marines from the Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter to defend the Mining World of Gorvax against a host of Eldar Ghost Warriors from Iyanden Craftworld. A Knight suit's Throne Mechanicum takes control after its pilot is slain by a xenos sniper, the echoes of spirits long dead guiding the unmanned Knight into battle once more. The Knight carves its way through countless wraithbone constructs before two Wraithknights, the largest and mightiest of the xenos walkers, finally bring it down in an epic duel of giant war machines. Though the Eldar are eventually defeated, victory on Gorvax does not belong to the living.
- First Contact (112.M41) - The Imperium makes first contact with the Knight World of Kragh after a localised Warp Storm, which has been raging for over twenty millennia, finally abates. Though much of the planet's surviving technology is revealed to be incredibly archaic, the Knight suits remain in remarkable condition thanks to a long-lost piece of STC technology. Initial attempts to integrate Kragh into the Imperial fold are met with open hostility as the planet's two knightly houses react to the perceived threat with deadly force. Peace is finally brokered by Baron Jakobus, a venerable Knight Seneschal greatly respected by both houses -- but the fragile ceasefire is jeopardised almost immediately as a trio of Tech-adepts attempt to recover the priceless STC archeotech and return it to Mars.
- Sport for Commorragh (154.M41) - A Dark Eldar raid captures a House Cadmus Knight for bloody sport in the arenas of Commorragh. He bravely duels the creations of the Haemonculi for thirty solar days before eventually being rendered down by three Engines of Pain.
- The Duel of the Crimson Glaives (178.M41) - The Eldar assault the agri-moon of Tarvel III, destroying hab-complexes in the search for ancient artefacts. Three Freeblades band together to defend the beleaguered citizens and become known as the Crimson Glaives. As soon as the last Eldar raider is driven from the moon, the Knights vanish without trace.
- The Tarsok Incursion (230.M41) - Knights of House Taranis battle a daemonic incursion on the world of Tarsok V, taking the fight to the towering Great Unclean One that leads the daemonic horde. Wading through a tide of Plaguebearers, Seneschal Halver's Knights advance on the corpulent horror while billowing clouds of flies sizzle against their Ion Shields and form drifts about their feet. The daemonic lord drowns one Knight in a tide of bile, and crushes two more beneath its weeping bulk. Yet the Knights' Reaper Chainswords carve through its rancid flesh and with a final, gurgling roar the Great Unclean One is banished. The remaining Daemons fade slowly from view, leaving the planet's surviving defenders to count the cost.
- Slaughter on the Fireplains (246.M41) - Knights of House Raven crush WAAAGH! Smogbelcha on Voth amid geysers of geothermal flame, despite suffering heavy losses of their own.
- Disaster on Nalibraxis II (632.M41) - During the Yoladrian Crusade, detachments from House Cadmus land upon the swamp world of Nalibraxis II. Marching in support of Catachan Jungle Fighters infantry regiments, the Knights are caught in a sorcerous ambush by forces of the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion. With the Catachans dead or devolved into mindless Chaos Spawn, the remaining handful of Knights resolve to fight their way back to their extraction point. Power armoured automata and scuttling Daemon Engines surround them, yet the surviving Nobles fight their way to freedom. After the battle, House Cadmus vows revenge upon the forces of the Thousand Sons, determined to expunge this stain upon their honour.
- Shadows Over Icnarus (784.M41) - An ancient evil awakens on the Frontier World of Icnarus, human settlements vanishing one after another. Panic-stricken, its citizens retreat to the coastal city of Inmoran and a riot erupts around the planet's only spaceport. Rising from the sea, rusted metal warriors march into Inmoran killing all in their path, a blazing god of light at their fore. Just as all seems lost, a lone Imperial Knight appears. In a titanic struggle, the unknown Knight drives the invaders back into the sea and shatters the bindings of their god, sending it screaming into the ether.
- On The Trail of Traitors (883.M41) - Three entire knightly houses join forces with the renowned tank ace, Commander Pask, and his Cadian 423rd Regiment to exterminate a Renegade Titan Legion. All of the Knights at Pask's disposal are deployed in one of the largest armoured conflicts in the Imperium's history. Knight Anthonis, of House Cadmus, wins much honour during the final battle, preventing Pask's Leman Russ Tank from being crushed beneath the mighty tread of the Traitor Warlord-class Titan, Endless Hate, by blasting apart the war engine's descending leg scant moments before impact. Pask survives to lead his force to a great Imperial victory.
- Reawakening (975.M41) - In the Vidar Sector, the Knight World of Avarris is almost overrun by Necrons from the Sautekh Dynasty. Reawakening from their long slumber deep below the planet's surface, the Necron legions emerge and immediately begin a campaign of mass genocide against the planet's human population. It is only the skill of the Knights, and the effectiveness of their Ion Shields at repelling the deadly firepower of the advanced Necron weaponry, that brings the massacres to a halt. Though many are slain in the fighting, Avarris' three knightly houses slowly gain the upper hand in the conflict. As the bitter fighting grinds on, embattled household detachments of Imperial Knights gradually begin to drive the Necron forces back to their tomb complexes, and set about destroying them in their lairs.
- The Dragon Slain (993.M41) - Segmentum Command dispatches a relief force to evacuate Yorvith before it can be overrun by Hive Fleet Kraken. At their head ride a lance of Knights Errant from House Griffith, whose thunderous charge scatters the xenos swarms around Solartis spaceport. As battle rages and refugees flood aboard the evacuation ships, a Trygon erupts from the ground and winds itself around Sir Brannach's Knight. The noble Knight wrestles with the mighty bio-horror amid showers of sparks, before jamming his Thermal Cannon between its jaws and vapourising its skull in a spray of ichor. The evacuation craft take to the skies just minutes later, Griffith's Knights limping aboard the last ship moments before its ramp slams shut.
- The Battle of Burning Skies (998.M41) - A tendril of Hive Fleet Leviathan falls upon the Agri-World of Eireius, xenos bio-horrors rampaging across its floating jungles and vapour islands. A detachment of House Raven Knights are the first Imperial reinforcements to reach the planet, rallying the beleaguered defenders around the towering Eirebian spire-cities. In the micro-gravity of Eireius the Knights leap hundreds of metres from one spire to the next, their guns hammering Harpies and Hive Crones from the sky. Even the might of the Imperial Knights cannot save the planet, although their bravery buys time for its population to escape into the void.
- The Red WAAAGH! (443.998.M41) - Warlord Grukk of the Red WAAAGH! ploughs into the densely populated Sanctus Reach, his crusade's juggernaut momentum smashing past the Space Marine homeworld of Obstiria to plunder the planets beyond. The Imperium prepares to make a stand upon Alaric Prime, a Feudal World of linked archipelagos and crumbling gaols. When a flotilla of Ork rust-ships make planetfall, the knightly houses of Alaric lead their Cadian allies in a worldwide counterattack. Warlord Grukk's bullish tactics take a heavy toll on the human defenders before the legendary Freeblade known as Gerantius, the Forgotten Knight, joins the conflict, tipping the war into a new phase of desperate battle.
- A Blade in the Void (512.999.M41) - A Chaos wolf pack attacks the Imperial heavy transport Penitent Blade while en route to the war zones of Heloeum. When the vessel is boarded, the Nobles of House Krast mount their Knight suits and prepare to repel the Traitor Space Marines. In the vast vaulted cargo halls of the ship, the Knights crush the Traitors underfoot and blast apart their vanguard of Terminators and Helbrutes. When a fresh wave of Chaos boarders are sent against the Penitent Blade, the Nobles order the cargo hall doors opened, so they might engage the incoming assault boats. Their craft scattered and destroyed, the Traitors retreat into the void.
- The Fall of Agrellan (757.999.M41) - The Tau Empire's Third Sphere Expansion surges through the Damocles Gulf before striking hard and fast upon the Hive World of Agrellan. Though the Imperial forces are hard-pressed to counter the brilliant tactics employed by Commander Shadowsun, the timely arrival of several household detachments of Knights from House Terryn soon stems the tide. Time and again, the Knights sally forth from the hive city of Agrellan Prime, breaking through the xenos lines to take a heavy toll on formations of Broadside Battlesuits and Hammerhead gunships, using their Ion Shields to counter the devastating impacts of the Tau's rail weaponry. Only the mass deployment of prototype Riptide Battlesuits forces the Knights to cease these attacks, a course of action that ultimately changes the course of the war.
- The 13th Black Crusade (995.999.M41) - Houses Krast and Arokon join the Imperial forces rushing to reinforce the Cadian Gate against the Chaos hordes spewing forth from the Eye of Terror. The inbound Knights of House Arokon are feared lost amid the fierce etheric tides of Warp Storm Baphomael. However, news soon filters back to the Imperium that four household detachments of Knights bearing Arokon's colours have been seen taking the fight to the Forces of Chaos, shattering two large formations of Iron Warriors siege tanks with righteous fury.
On Adamant Thrones
Even the smallest Noble House has a seat of power, whether it be a fortified tower upon an outlying moon, a slab-sided bastion looming over the house's fiefdom, mountaintop fastness, vacuum-resistant hab-dome, armoured cave-system or whatever else. The foundations of the largest and oldest of these sit upon the archeotech remains of the Long March generation ships themselves, deeply buried by the passing of millennia but still concealing secrets of ancient technology that the Noble Houses guard jealously.
Within the throne room or audience chamber of each Noble House, its rulers hold court. Ranging from a single Baron and their direct courtiers, to vast assemblages of Nobles, Bondsmen, courtiers and more, these gatherings observe the endless rituals of their world, deal with matters of rulership for the common folk, and politick constantly amongst themselves.
The figures involved in such internecine intrigues are many and varied, from sages and advisors to Imperial preachers, tech-magi, Sacristan representatives, house militia officers and countless others. While marriage and the continuation of the Noble bloodlines is often regulated by formal arranged pacts, many Knights join themselves romantically and politically to a consort. These individuals may be the daughters or sons of other Noble families, high-placed members of court, or even -- in unusual cases -- other Knights of a different or lesser rank. What matters more than their origin is their incisive minds, their skill at courtly politics, and their dedication to being a societal power behind their Noble's martial throne.
Questor Imperialis Knight Worlds
Imperial Knight Worlds are typically ruled over by one or more Noble Houses, each with their own heraldry, insignia, traditions and character. Though often hidebound and intractable on matters of honour, the Noble Houses make for powerful allies, and when they send their Imperial Knights to war, the enemies of the Emperor tremble.
Questor Imperialis Knight Worlds vary enormously in appearance. Bleak, mountainous wastelands, hard-edged idylls of deep forests and rolling plains, airless deserts dotted with hab-domes, primordial wildernesses of volcano-studded jungle, ocean-locked island worlds and countless others all support knightly civilisations. Yet as much as each of these worlds differ, and as much as those differences have done to shape the societies that inhabit them, certain similarities hold true across virtually every Imperial Knight World in the Emperor's realm.
All Imperial Knight Worlds are feudal, divided into fiefdoms or whatever other local term is given. Each of these territories is ruled over by one or more Nobles, its people labouring, farming, herding and producing in his or her name. In return, their knightly rulers offer them protection from whatever threats may descend from the stars. Each Knight in turn owes their allegiance to a high-ranking local leader, most commonly known as a "Baron" -- though, again, local terms are myriad. Whether they be a Marshal or a Countess, a Seneschal or a Marchioness, each of these local rulers ultimately owes their allegiance to the High Monarch of their world. On some Knight Worlds, each Baron may be the head of a separate Noble House. On others, a single Noble House holds sway across the entire planet. These mighty martial entities are known as the Great Houses, and include such ancient institutions as House Terryn, House Griffith, House Hawkshroud and House Cadmus.
The cultures of these worlds can vary hugely, from repressive patriarchies or matriarchies to martial meritocracies in which any Noble can rise to command if their lance arm is strong enough. Most sustain large-scale farming and mining operations. Combined with relatively low population densities and a lack of heavy industry, this ensures that the Imperial Knight Worlds have remained comparatively unspoilt despite millennia of human occupation. Of course, in such a dark and dangerous age, many have been scarred forever by the horrors of all-out war, and even the most apparently paradisical world may harbour mutation, sedition and madness -- dangers that its rulers must watch for constantly.
The word of each world's High King or Queen is law. It is certainly true that Noble Houses may engage in a degree of politicking, and in extreme cases may settle their disputes through knightly jousts or even border skirmishes. Yet when the world's ruler issues the call to war, it is a source of endless dishonour to refuse their summons. Setting aside all other responsibilities, the Nobles link themselves into their Thrones Mechanicum, awaken their mighty Knight suits and march out to join the endless war for the Imperium of Mankind.
In truth, it takes very little provocation for a Noble to mount their Throne. Not only is the heady rush of such martial power at their mental command an intoxicant in its own right, but it is also the antithetical remedy to the tedium of courtly life. The ancient traditions and rituals of the Noble Houses might have done much to stave off the corruption of Old Night, but they have also become sprawling affairs, and the few solar hours not consumed by such ritual observances are inevitably spent seeing to the needs of the serf classes or dealing with matters of state.
Thus the Imperial Knights take to the battlefield the first chance they get, departing in their towering steeds amidst much fanfare and celebration. Whether answering a call for aid from an Imperial commander on campaign, responding to the distress call of some neighbouring world, or setting off on a crusade to avenge a perceived slight against the tenets of the Code Chivalric, the Knights march out in formations known as "lances." Often their armies will consist of a handful of such formations led by a sufficiently powerful Baron.
When the peril is truly great, the High Monarch will lead the march in person. At such times, they stride to war at the head of their "Exalted Court," a gathering of the highest ranking of the planet's Knights. Sometimes these are the closest of the ruler's personal household: cousins, siblings, uncles and the like. Other Exalted Courts are made up of the entire world's lesser Noble rulers, who set aside their own seniority for a time to fight at the side of their liege. Whatever the case, these exceptional Knights are terrifying to behold on the field of battle, their mastery as warriors and commanders second to none. When the Exalted Court leads a planet's knightly lances to war, Imperial victory almost inevitably follows.
Questor Mechanicus Knight Worlds
Through mutual oaths and unbreakable vows, the Adeptus Mechanicus have forged alliances with many Knight Worlds. In return for technical aid and reciprocal protection, these Questor Mechanicus houses send forth their adamantine Knight suits to honour any request made by their allies.
Those knightly houses closely aligned to the Adeptus Mechanicus are regularly called upon by the Martian Priesthood to uphold their ancient pacts. Most often, the Tech-priests request military contingents from Knight Worlds to accompany their Titan Legions into battle. The chosen Nobles are tasked with fighting directly in support of the Legion's larger Battle Titans, or are asked to operate independently as scouts to protect the flanks of the slower-moving war machines.
The Adeptus Mechanicus also petitions for Knights to join Explorator fleets, for they add invaluable firepower to contingents sent out to seize lost archeotech. When a threat is deemed sufficient, Knights are also asked to help defend key planets -- especially endangered Forge or Quarry Worlds. In return for such military aid, the Knight Worlds receive greater technological resources.
To honour the more routine requests, a Noble House might send a single Knight, one of the honoured Barons and an escort of his knightly vassals, or perhaps a lance made up of Knights selected for the task in question. Occasionally, the Adeptus Mechanicus will decree that such seconded detachments must remain with a Titan Legion permanently; in these cases, the Nobles change their vows of allegiance and heraldry to reflect the Legion they now serve.
While those Knight Worlds sworn directly to Mars share many of the feudal structures and traditions of Questor Imperialis worlds, there can be no doubt that they possess less martial and cultural autonomy than their Imperial-aligned counterparts. Conclaves of Tech-magi are a regular sight upon these planets, envoys from local Forge Worlds that walk the corridors of the knightly houses and maintain a silent, watchful presence during their rituals.
The Nobles of such Knight worlds are, themselves, more tightly bound into the worship of the Omnissiah, often exhibiting the Cog Mechanicum of the Adeptus Mechanicus, electoo designs carved into their flesh, robes coloured in the hues of their patron Forge World, and mechanical augmetics that help them mesh more closely with the systems of their Knight suits.
The Knight Worlds themselves also bear the inevitable scars that the touch of the Adeptus Mechanicus leaves. Vast strip-mines, churning manufactoria and continent-sized agriplexes are common facilities that allow the Mechanicus to more efficiently exploit the planets' resources.
For all this, the Nobles of such a world are no less proud, honourable or strong-willed. They still rule their domains, march out to protect their borders, and owe ultimate fealty to their world's supreme ruler, who most often takes the title of "Princeps."
The appearance of Questor Mechanicus Nobles is generally more sombre than that of their counterparts in the Imperial-aligned Knight houses, and they are often less unruly and headstrong. Their ties to the Sacristan orders are strong, untroubled by suspicions of divided loyalties. Their battle doctrines are bellicose and expertly cogitated, while the bond that each Noble forges with their Throne Mechanicum and the Machine Spirit (artificial intelligence) of their Knight suit is nigh-symbiotic. When the lances of the Questor Mechanicus Knights go to battle, they do so with devastating efficiency and absolute, unified conviction.
Fallen Knight Worlds
Just as some Knight houses have become corrupted by Chaos, so too were their worlds transformed into horrific mockeries of their former glory. Where once the denizens of these planets had looked to their Nobles for leadership and protection, they were swiftly reduced to a terror-filled existence.
The populations of entire cities were hunted for sport by their Knightly overlords. Fallen Nobles supplied tithes of living humans to their heretical lieges to be used in sadistic rituals or the forging of daemonic pacts. Where once the would-be Knight pilot prepared for their duty over standard years of training, and proved their worth in solemn duels, they now engaged in competitive slaughters of their own subjects.
Depraved cultures took root in every echelon of society on these Chaos Knight worlds. Teeming Chaos Cults worshipped the Dark Gods openly, Fallen Nobles competing to raise the greatest temples to the Ruinous Powers.
The landscapes became pocked with charnel pits that overflowed with the corpses of defeated enemies. These planets that had been bastions of order throughout the Age of Strife metamorphosed into deep wells of anarchy from which the taint of Chaos seeped further into reality.
Notable Knight Worlds
- Adrastapol - Located in the isolated Majestis System, the Knight World of Adrastapol has a tumultuous history and harbours many secrets. Settled in the distant past of the Dark Age of Technology, Adrastapol once harboured many Knight Houses of which now only three remain: House Draconis, House Minotos and House Pegasson. In the wake of the Donatos Uprising, the Ordo Malleus of the Emperor's holy Inquisition has despatched one of its representatives to asses how and why no less than two Imperial Knight Houses could be turned to the service of Chaos. This investigation coincided with the arrival of WAAAGH! Killfist which was only defeated at great cost by the defenders of Adrastapol thanks to the intervention of the Freeblade known as the Knight of Ashes and his band of fellow exiles.
- Alaric Prime - Located in the Sanctus Reach on the edges of the Segmentum Obscurus lies Alaric Prime, an ancient and hidebound world of toiling peasants and haughty Nobles. Covered mostly in sulphurous seas, viscous chemical tides and currents devoid of all but the hardiest of lifeforms. Dotted across the burning acidic oceans, the planet is made up of islands strung together in hemisphere-spanning chains or standing along thousands of miles from the nearest foreign shore. Unlike many Knight Worlds, Alaric Prime boasts numerous Knight Houses, each masters of a different region of the planet. Technology is limited on Alaric Prime as the result of ancient law, and most souls live simple lives of hard labour, scratching at the ground with tools of wood and iron. At the centre of the biggest landmass is Sacred Mountain, a blessed peak that rises from the heart of Alaric Prime's largest island. Beneath the mountain there is rumoured to be a vault of archeotech and lost lore, over which the notable Freeblade known as Gerantius the Forgotten Knight stands guard. Ancient and mysterious, Gerantius has defended the vault, and the world of Alaric Prime, since time immemorial. Whenever the planet is threatened the Forgotten Knight will rise form his tomb, and march upon the enemies of Alaric.
- Argentor - There is little information on this Knight World of the Segmentum Obscurus in current official Imperial records.
- Atar-Planitia - Though technically a Forge World, the frigid planet of Atar-Planitia, located in the Segmentum Solar, is also an Adeptus Mechanicus-aligned Knight World of House Col'Khak, and is also the home of the Legio Atarus ("Firebrands") Titan Legion and Taghmata forces.
- Avalane VI - Avalane VI is the homeworld of House Khord. Because Avalane VI is heavily forested, House Khord makes use only of Knight Lancers as their speed and agility is necessary to efficiently traverse the rough terrain of the world.
- Avarris - Just beyond the far eastern reaches of the Ultima Segmentum lies the war-torn Vidar Sector. The barren Knight World of Avarris can be found within this sector, founded unwittingly by its first human settlers on a planet once belonging to the Necron Sautekh Dynasty. Thus, it was a great surprise to the knightly houses established on Avarris when, in 975.M41, legions of reawakened xenos machines emerged from their stasis tomb complexes far beneath the planet's surface to assail them without warning. Fortunately, the Gauss Weapons of the Necrons, normally so mercilessly efficient at eliminating armoured targets, was somewhat confounded by the Ion Shields of the Knight suits. With no less than three knightly houses present on Avarris, Imperial forces were able to respond to the sudden Necron attack with immediate and brutal effect. War still rages on Avarris, but the Imperial Knights have already made several successful forays into the vast underground tomb fortresses of the Necrons. Indeed, the rulers of the three knightly houses are confident that the xenos threat on Avarris will soon be overcome, and they will be able to lend their aid to the other Imperial forces fighting throughout the sector as part of the defence against the undying warriors.
- Baroda - Baroda was an Imperial Knight World located in the Grail Abyss at the extreme border of the Segmentum Obscurus and the Imperium itself. Before the Age of Strife Baroda was a populous world, rich in minerals and home to dozens of knightly Households which would dramatically decay and go on to destroy themselves in internecine warfare. Baroda is perhaps best known for being the former home world of the infamous and ill-reputed House Makabius, which committed countless atrocities alongside the traitor Death Guard legion throughout the Cyclops Cluster. The planet was abandoned early on in the Age of Heresy, forcibly evacuated and stripped of its resources and manpower by the orders of the sinister Death Guard Primarch Mortarion in 007.M31.
- Chrysis - House Krast hails from the Mechanicus-aligned Knight World of Chrysis in the Sol Sector of the Segmentum Solar, and was the first of its kind to be rediscovered at the outset of the Great Crusade. The proximity of Chrysis to the Sol System saw it quickly fall under the jurisdiction of Mars. However, Krast was the only knightly house on Chrysis to survive the calamitous events of the Horus Heresy, forcing its ruler to rely heavily on the Forge World's support to recover his losses. Thankfully, Mars was happy to oblige, for it was desperate for resources and Chrysis still had them in abundance.
- Cypeus Ultima - Cypeus Ultima is a Knight World of the Imperium and is the homeworld of House Varlock.
- Damaetus III/II - Damaetus is an Imperial-aligned Knight World ruled by House Vyronii, located in the Segmentum Obscurus. Damaetus III/II was found in a star system at the junction of several minor but stable Warp routes, and is a world of deep, twisted forests and mist-shrouded swamps, above which towers the imposing Felweather Keep, a vast fortress edifice erected when the planet was settled from the corpse of their founding colony ark. During the Age of Strife, the world fell into disarray and was preyed upon by xenos, most notably the Mitu. Mitu invasions devastated the planet, which only survived thanks to the efforts of the Vyranoii Knights. Eventually the Mitu were wiped out by the Dark Angels Legion, and the Knight World joined the fledgling Imperium. During the ensuing Horus Heresy, Damaetus III/II stayed loyal to the Emperor and survived an attempted surprise attack by the traitorous Forge World of Cyclothrathe.
- Dark Haven - Dark Haven is an Imperial Knight World of House Orhlacc located in the Cyclops Cluster, within the Coronid Deeps, in the Segmentum Obscurus. The Orhlacc in their wisdom had known that Dark Haven, alone as it was, could not be defended against a full Traitor invasion fleet or a Space Marine Legion, and this made them a sitting target; a fate they declined. House Orhlacc reluctantly abandoned it's domains due to it's untenable strategic position, leaving behind an untraceable token force behind as caretakers and sentinels of their ancestral home. Leaving their homeworld behind, House Orhlacc would fight on valiantly throughout the Age of Heresy and even secure itself a secondary home world in the Agathean Domain -- the grim world of Wychval. From this point until the end of the terrible wars of the Heresy that were to follow, the House of Orhlacc would remain loyal to the Imperium, but they would fight their cause on their own terms as a nomadic Knight House -- even after gaining territories within the Agathon Domain -- with an eye to their own survival and an eventual return to their shadowed home.
- Dragon's End - The volcanic Knight World of Dragon's End in the Ultima Segmentum is named for the winged reptiloid dragons that, millennia ago, soared on the thermals and preyed on the vast megasaur herds that grazed in the valleys before they were hunted to extinction. It was the arrival of the planet's first human settlers, and the foundation of House Griffith soon thereafter, that saw irrevocable changes made to the planet's primordial ecosystem. The colonists brought with them a huge number of Terran horses, and the Nobles that would eventually go on to found House Griffith became adept riders. But as their colony expanded, the humans sought to claim dominance over the megasaur herds, leading to inevitable confrontation with the flying dragons that fed upon the giant creatures. Before the first Knight suits were completed, the Nobles took to fighting the dragons on horseback, clad in baroque armour crafted from locally-mined obsidian. Against such terrible creatures, the Nobles were forced to become great warriors in order to overcome them. The mightiest of their number was Nathaniel, who slew three dragons with his dragonbone lance before eventually becoming House Griffith's inaugural ruler. Even though the Knight suits enabled the Nobles to finally overcome the dragons, they never forgot the skills they had mastered. To this day, Griffith's Knights are amongst the very deadliest in battle.
- Dutonis - The Knight World of Dutonis is an acrid, volcanic world that sits in the galactic northeast of the Segmentum Obscurus. Ever tinged with the bitter taste of sulphur on the wind, it is a world of great material value to the Imperium, for it is ripe with mineral ore and rich veins of adamantium fork throughout the planet's mountainous crust. Despite being bitter rivals, two Knight Houses –- Navaros and Borgius –- have long protected Dutonis from those who would seek to claim this priceless metal for themselves. In this task, they have fought against both alien and Traitor alike, for it would be unthinkable should such quantities of this invaluable ore fall into the wrong hands.
- Highrock - The once verdant world of Highrock was the ancestral homeworld of House Vyridion. Sadly, during the Horus Heresy, the world was ravaged and laid to waste by the vengeful Heretic Astartes of the Emperor's Children, who descended on Highrock after House Vyridion's decision to abandon the cause of the Warmaster Horus and seek the forgiveness of the Emperor of Mankind for their unwitting betrayal of His cause.
- Kaldeia - Kaldeia is an Adeptus Mechanicus-aligned Knight World ruled by House Hermetika, located in the region of the Coronid Deeps in the Eastern Fringe of the Ultima Segmentum. Little else is known about the world in Imperial records.
- Kamador - When the Great Rift tore its way across the galaxy, the Knight world of Kamador lay directly in its path. Engulfed by the billowing madness of the maelstrom, the planet was beset by tides of mutants, Heretic Astartes and daemonic abominations. Led by the garishly grotesque warriors of the Emperor's Children, the Chaos hordes tore down the strongholds of one Noble House after another. Though the Knights of Kamador fought furiously to defend their world, in the end they could not prevail. A single Noble escaped the devastation -- Lady Kalena Maxus, "the Stormwalker", pilot of a Knight Castellan. Kalena did not willingly flee the death of Kamador. Rather, she was commanded by High King Arturo to spread the word of her world's fall, and to exact revenge unending upon the Forces of Chaos for their murderous deeds. This Lady Maxus has done with a burdened heart ever since. Having taken the oath of the Freeblade, she haunts the fringes of the Great Rift, rallying Imperial forces wherever she finds them and leading them to fight back against the heretical foe. The arrival of the Stormwalker has turned the tide of many battles, Lady Maxus dedicating each hard-won victory to the memory of her slain kinsmen.
- Kolossi - The Fortress World of Kolossi is the homeworld of the Adeptus Mechanicus-aligned House Raven in the Segmentum Ultima. This world is ruled by the Iron Duke of Kolossi, Lord Grevan Raven, fourth of his name, where he sits upon the Adamantium Throne of the Keep Inviolate, greatest of the knightly fortresses and capital city of House Raven's homeworld. Thousands of standard years ago Kolossi was a virgin world of verdant plains and forested mountains. However, the settlers built legions of Knights, their industries strip-ming the Koliss continents for materials. In time, the society of Kolossi stratified and House Raven rose to prominence among the settlers. By the time House Raven made its enduring alliance with the Forge World of Metalica, Kolossi had been reduced to open pits, towering slag heaps and smog-wreathed manufactoria lit only by guttering Promethium flares from soot-stained chimneys. This degradation of Kolossi has only worsened through the millennia. In addition to House Raven's own mineral needs, Metalica has added their own demands upon Kolossi. Only a handful of cities remain on the planet, islands of steel and smoke amid the deep-core shafts and strip-mine canyons.
- Kragh - Kragh is a Knight World of the Imperium that was re-discovered in 112.M41, after the Warp Storm that cut off its star system from the rest of the galaxy for over twenty millennia finally abated.
- Krastellan - Located in the northern reaches of the Ultima Segmentum close to the Blood Angels Chapter's homeworld of Baal lies the Imperial-aligned Knight World of Krastellan. An eerie, haunted place, its desolate moors and black hills stretch in all directions under skies heavy with freezing rain. The Krastellian villages huddle from their perpetual miserable weather in windswept valleys and broken shorelines and their people eek out a life from herding docile heath-cattle or fishing the edges of the foaming, storm-tossed sea. On craggy rain-slick rocks ancient stone keeps are home to the Nobles of Krastellan, where their households and families live in drafty, dripping rooms by the sputtering light of open fires. While other Knight Worlds embrace a degree of advanced technology, the Nobles of Krastellan see anything more than is required for the continued operation of their Knights as an extravagance and the first step on the road to weakness. This bleak and harsh world is home to House Hawkshroud, a proud and Noble Knight House that has cultivated an impeccable reputation for honouring its debts and keeping its word regardless of the personal cost.
- Mancora - Mancora is the Knight World of House Trainor and also serves as the Space Marine Chapter Homeworld of the Howling Griffons Chapter. Located within the Ultima Segmentum, Imperial records clearly indicate that the Chapter has deliberately and artificially prevented the world from advancing beyond a pre-industrial technological base. Though an uncharacteristic degree of covert operations and manipulations, the Howling Griffons have also kept the world's feudal city-states on a near-constant war footing, which has led to a culture that has a poor record of its own origins. This enables the Howling Griffons to select from a pure gene-stock of hardened warriors who display the desired traits of ferociousness, stoicism and tenacity. Mancora's population is also known to have a higher than average incidence of psykers born amongst its population.
- Mars - The Red Planet of Mars in the Sol System of the Segmentum Solar is the cornerstone upon which the empire of the Adeptus Mechanicus was built. Officially a Forge World, it is also a Questor Mechanicus Knight World, the homeworld for House Taranis, House Zavora and formerly House Morbidia before it swore allegiance to Chaos.
- Molech - The former Knight World of Molech was home to the traitorous House Devine. When the golden age of the Great Crusade was cut short by the supreme act of betrayal known as the Horus Heresy, across the nascent Imperium Loyalists clashed with Traitor forces. In those dark days, nobody was to be trusted and treachery became all too commonplace. Dispossessed and unable to fight back, House Devine slowly succumbed to the temptations of Chaos. Over the following solar months, the insidious whisper of Slaanesh -- Dark Prince of Chaos and god of indulgence and excess -- spread through their depleted ranks. Their officers became lethargic, interested only in their sports, using their mighty Knight suits to hunt the towering reptilian beasts that stalked Molech's lush jungles. The seductive grip of Slaanesh grew stronger, as the Prince of Pleasure bent the force of his will to corrupting the noble Devines. Soon, they met in secret cabals, performing depraved rites and ceremonies within the heart of the Loyalist camp. No act was too shameful or disgusting; the sensations of the moment became their only desire. When Horus launched a massive offensive, the Knights of House Devine committed an act of brazen treachery and turned on the troops who remained loyal to the Emperor. The Imperial forces found themselves caught in a trap, with advancing enemy Titans to the front and renegade Knights attacking their ranks from behind. This treachery allowed the Chaos host to punch through the Imperial defences, leaving them with no line of retreat. They were totally defeated, so brutally that only one in a hundred of the Imperial army survived the campaign.
- Orestes - A Forge World, Questor Mechanicus Knight World and major supplier for Imperial forces during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade in the Segmentum Pacificus, Orestes was attacked by a grand horde of Chaos Titans in 779.M41. The Forge's own force of God-machines, the Legio Tempestus, was severely depleted through constant tithes to the Crusade, and stood no hope of holding off the hordes of Chaos. As luck would have it, the Legio Invicta was travelling past Orestes on their way to the Crusade's main front after crushing a force of Eldar in the Beltran Cluster, and Lord Gearhart of Invicta came to the Forge's aid. Orestes was liberated from Chaos within weeks, although the southernmost hives were destroyed in the fighting, and a great many God-engines and Astra Militarum troops were lost.
- Raisa - Far to the galactic south in the Segmentum Tempestus lies the heavily forested Knight World of Raisa. The native flora of this lush world grows with such virility that only the vast plateaus that pierce the evergreen canopy are free from their touch. From atop the largest of these highland plains rises the towering stronghold of House Cadmus, Golem Keep. This monolithic edifice was named after the mighty elementals that once haunted the planet's wildernesses, before they were hunted to extinction by the first Imperial Knights to settle on Raisa many thousands of Terran years ago. Now, the only sentient creatures to stalk the murky, overgrown trails beneath the forest boughs are an unstable strain of barbaric Abhumans. Though the Knights of House Cadmus could effortlessly slaughter the wild tribes descended from their ancient forebears, they choose not to. But it is by no means a misguided sense of loyalty to these pitiable creatures that stays their hand; it is in fact tradition. Instead, the Knights take part in an annual event known as "the Cull" to keep the mutants' numbers in check and provide an opportunity to hone their hunting skills.
- Rapture - The paradisiacal Questor Imperialis Knight World of Rapture was once the shining jewel of the Reductus Sector in the Segmentum Tempestus -- but the terrible aftermath of an attack by a tendril of Hive Fleet Leviathan left the planet a near-lifeless husk. Rapture is now a Dead World, uninhabitable by human life anywhere outside of the last surviving hab-dome. Though the fateful Tyranid assault on Rapture was ultimately defeated, the cost to the Imperium was dear. The stalwart survivors of House Aramos, however, refuse to abandon their ruined world, unwilling to sully the memory of their ancestors, who first settled Rapture some fifteen Terran millennia ago. From their stronghold of Auric Keep, the Knights of Aramos launch daily sorties beyond the walls of the hab-dome to hunt the persistent Tyranid broods that were able to endure the Imperium's vengeful purge in the wake of the Leviathan's defeat.
- Solitude - Little is known about this obscure Knight World of the Imperium's Ultima Segmentum, other than the unfortunate fate that befell it in 985.M41, when the Knight World was dragged into the Immaterium by a Warp anomaly. Solitude re-emerged into realspace a Terran year later, revealing its populace to be old and withered in appearance.
- Stryken II, IV and V - Situated far in the galactic northwest in the Segmentum Obscurus, the Stryken System's principal planet is the smoke-wreathed Forge World of Stryken Primus. The system's industrial heart is protected by a ring of three Questor Mechanicus Knight Worlds in close proximity -- Stryken II, IV and V -- and each is home to several Knight Houses. These verdant planets were once Maiden Worlds of the Aeldari. The ancient tribes of Exodites that dwelt there, herding the many different species of giant reptiles and bipedal carnivores, were ruthlessly driven from these worlds by the knightly houses that were established shortly after Mankind's arrival. With the combined might of no less than eleven knightly houses to call upon, including such luminaries as Houses Arokon and Dorath, the Forge World of Stryken Primus has no Titan Legion stationed upon its surface. The planet instead focuses on supplying munitions in enormous quantities for the Imperial forces defending the Cadian Gate. A standing guard of Knights -- the Order of Iron -- is always present on the surface of the Forge World to ensure its protection. Drawn from amongst the greatest and most capable Nobles from each House, competition to be accepted into the Order of Iron is fierce, and it is considered a great honour to join their ranks. The head of the Order is given the honorific title of "Forge Warden," and leads the Knights in battle as if he were a ruler of his own knightly house.
- Stygia - The last line of defence against a massive daemonic incursion, the Freeblade Knight known as Madrigal was unable to halt the murderous predations of the servants of Chaos, and so his homeworld of Stygia fell. As the lone survivor, Madrigal's guilt at his failure led inexorably to a self-imposed penance that has no end in sight; rejecting the heraldry of his House, Madrigal relentlessly patrols the benighted remains of Stygia, a dark figure outlined against a pale moon, striding through blackened forests and the empty shells of dead cities. As a result of the daemonic invasion, Stygia is a victim of fell sorcery and the dead rest uneasily beneath its surface. Madrigal haunts the dark places of his world to ensure the victims of his failure stay in their graves, and he watches warily for fresh Warp taint, ever vigilant for signs of the daemon.
- Subinus - Subinus was an Imperial Knight World of the Coronid Deeps, located at the very edge of the dark of galactic space in the Eastern Fringe of the Ultima Segmentum during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Voltoris - Out in the Eastern Fringe of the Segmentum Ultima lies the tranquil world of Voltoris, home to the mighty Knights of House Terryn. Vast green oceans surround tropical islands the size of continents. Bat-winged monstrosities hunt beneath the jungle eaves, and the giant amphibious predators that are similarly commonplace offer the Knights ample opportunity to perfect their hunting skills. But despite the planet's solitary location having spared this idyllic paradise from many of the terrible events that have beset the Imperium over the millennia, the Knights that dwell there are nonetheless amongst the most warlike of their kind. These Knights commonly travel across the galaxy to defend the Imperium in far-flung campaigns, in a bid to find foes worthy of their skills. In more recent centuries, however, the Knights of House Terryn have been forced to fight ever closer to home. The dual threats posed by Hive Fleet Leviathan and the rapidly expanding T'au Empire ensure that Terryn's Knights remain on a constant war footing, lest Voltoris itself be threatened. Unfortunately for their enemies, these warriors relish any excuse for battle.
- Wychval - Located in the Cyclops Cluster within the Coronid Deeps of the Segmentum Obscurus, Wychval is the second Knight World to be ruled by House Orhlacc, one of the few known houses to have willingly abandoned their original homeworld of Dark Haven during the events of the Horus Heresy. They relocated themselves to the grim world of Wychval. From this tactically superior location, they continued to fight on throughout the remainder of the Heresy.
- Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (8th Edition), pp. 12-15, 48
- Codex: Chaos Knights (8th Edition), pp. 11, 28-29
- Codex: Imperial Knights (8th Edition), pp. 12-15, 50
- Codex: Imperial Knights (6th Edition), pp. 13-14, 19-21, 23-24, 28-29, 42-44, 47, 52, 60, 64, 70, 82
- The Imperial Knight Companion (6th Edition)
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest, pp. 19, 27, 66, 70, 75, 97-98, 114, 117, 122-125, 131
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre, pp. 156-157
- Titan Legions (2nd Edition), pp. 27-30, 54
- White Dwarf Weekly 5 (March 01, 2014) (UK), "Codex: Imperial Knights", pp. 5-51, 29, 62-65, 67-68, 73
- White Dwarf Weekly 4 (February 22, 2014) (UK), "Imperial Knight" by Jervis Johnson, pp. 5-15, 28-33, 52-58
- White Dwarf 178 (UK), "The Titan Legions," by Rick Priestly
- Kingsblade (Novel) by Andy Clark
|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 • Sept World • Tomb World • Xenos World|