"A blade in the back is a wiser investment than a coin in a man’s hand."
- — Malfian Proverb
Malfi is an Imperial Hive World in the Malfian System of the Calixis Sector in the Segmentum Obscurus, 8 solar days' travel through the Warp from the sector capital world of Scintilla. Malfi is the main population and manufacturing focus of the rimward territories of the Calixis Sector and is a semitropical, gloomy world of overbuilt hive cities and habitation ledges.
Its population of 23 billion people approaches that of Scintilla and it subsists on its engineering and metalwork industries. The population of Malfi holds a grudge: they believe that Malfi should be the Calixis Sector's capital world and its leaders and common people venomously protest the supremacy of Scintilla in the sector.
Certainly, with its super-continental hives and eradication of natural landscape, Malfi resembles a Segmentum Solar Hive World far more than any of the other worlds in the sector and its claim for capital eminence seems quite reasonable. However, politics and demographics are often fickle mistresses. Scintilla is better positioned astrographically to provide a centre of effective governance for the entire sector than Malfi.
The early Sector Governors of the Calixis Sector, following Lord Angevin's campaign to bring the Calixis Sector into the Imperium of Man, established their headquarters on Malfi, but the sector's population has greatly expanded and spread out since then. Despite its efforts, Malfi remains a border world, colossal in both its consumption of resources and the production of its manufactoria.
It satisfies itself in serving as the planetary captial of the Malfian Sub-sector, governing the Calixian territories rimward and spinward of Scintilla. The Sub-sector Governor, Jendrous Kaffiq, answers only to Lord Sector Marius Hax himself. Malfi is a seat of the Adeptus Administratum and several powerful Calixian banking houses. Malfi's nominal ruler and Imperial Planetary Governor is the Eminence Glydus Matriarch.
Malfi is -- and this may be the very reason the sector rulers passed over it to serve as the Calixian sector capital -- a place of the most infernal political intrigue. It is impossible to count the courtly factions vying for power and the ear of the Matriarch. The central palace is a labyrinth of chambers and anterooms, a warren that, so Malfian proverbs say, many have entered and subsequently died trying to find a way out again.
Guides may be procured to steer a visiting party through the warren of Malfi's central palace: they cannot be trusted. Every act and motion of Malfian life is about dissemblance and intrigue in the pursuit of personal advantage. Hire the wrong guide and you may be damned to years of squabbling diplomacy and sudden duels. It is said of the Malfian Palace that "life has a thousand separate doors" and this is no exaggeration. Entering Malfian society, one enters a world of complexity and deceit. Few emerge alive.
The Calixian Conclave of the Inquisition, which supports a district office on Malfi, regards the world as a particular hotbed of dissent and heresy against the Emperor and the Imperium. Apart from the myriad political factions and underground groups (many sponsored or run by Malfian noble houses) that support and promote Malfi's usurpation of Scintilla's capital world role (it is worth noting that three times in the last two standard centuries, Malfian dissenters have almost triggered open civil war with Scintilla), the excessively secretive and disingenuous society of the Malfian hive cities propagates many heretical relgious sects and Chaos Cults.
These groups find it simple to conceal themselves within Malfi's layered, elaborate culture of falsehood and deceit. The Heretics also find the hive citizenry to be a fertile source of amenable, pliable recruits. In recent years, the Conclave has become aware of three particularly active heretical sects, the Pilgrims of Hayte, the Masqued and the Menagerie, whose reach is now spreading beyond Malfi.
Noble Houses of Malfi
"Madness dances in their eyes, and they can spill your blood and laugh as easily as they can show the most tender compassion. At each turn it is as if a coin is cast for their nature: on one side the monster, on the other the saint."
- — Cardinal Glabruis on the infamous House Koba of Malfi
Politics on Malfi are a deadly game, even compared to the intrigues present at the Lucid Court on Scintilla or the murderous interclan warfare of Magnagorsk on Fenksworld. None can match the noble houses of Malfi for their predations, labyrinthine plots and natural flair for betrayal and savage revenge. Outsiders who enter this stage of lies and villainy quite often find themselves swimming with sharks like bloody bait. Even those who might be considered practiced dissemblers and agents of fortune on other worlds are often proved rank amateurs compared to even minor players of the Malfian power-politic.
This tendency towards deception, seeking advantage, patronage, and bitter feuding is a cornerstone of the Malfian culture and psyche. It is present at all levels; from the nomadic scum of the scav-zones and the workers on the manufactory floors to the halls of the temples and dusty corridors of Administratum counting houses. It reaches its zenith amid the ranks of the Malfian noble houses. There are hundreds of such houses, some predating even the Angevin Crusade in their antiquity, while others are fresh born, and granted title by the Office of the Matriarch or Patriarch of the day. That individual is elected from the heads of the noble houses to hold the office of Planetary Governor.
So it is that fresh blood replaces the old, and as some houses lose their grip on power or die away entirely, there are always hungry new claimants waiting in the wings to take advantage of any sign of weakness. As such, mere title or even wealth is no guarantee of power or protection on Malfi as it might be elsewhere on more stable or staid worlds. Only strength, guile, and the ruthlessness to use it provide such security. Perhaps because of this, the Malfian aristocracy nurses its grievances endlessly and respects none not of their number. They pay due obedience only to the High Adeptus Terra of the Imperium and the Lords of Mars, which they acknowledge as a greater power; and to the Ordos of the Inquisition in particular, as superior players of the game. They see the "nobility" of other worlds as vain and worthless things, lumping them in with other "peddlers and malcontents." In particular, they hold their greatest scorn for those who originate in the sector capital of Scintilla. All of Malfi holds a grudge against that world that goes back to the birth of the Calixis Sector.
Enemy of My Enemy...
Because of the constantly shifting web of intrigue and power that holds Malfi together, alliances are formed and broken easily between the noble houses and other powerful groups. Each great house maintains a legion of spies, analysts and paid informants just to try to keep track of this treacherous sea of power and patronage. It is said, and not without reason, that every Malfian lies and that every Malfian would betray even their own kin for the right price. The trick lies in knowing what that price is, and making a better offer than your competitors.
Rules of Vendetta
As many outsiders learn to their cost, on Malfi, the only rule is that there are no rules. There are, however, certain accepted ways that vendettas, contests and feuds are conducted. Certain lines of action, if crossed, guarantee escalation to greater heights of violence and destruction, up to and including what, on other worlds, might be considered open civil war. As it is, in the normal scheme of things, most noble houses contest each other by proxy; acting through intermediaries to settle scores against each other's positions, territories and agents. They deliver calculated insults at court or at state gatherings, and even use sponsored scav-gangs in the wastes to fight bloody battles against others sponsored by their rivals, or as muscle to raid Arteria routes and trade shipments.
While tens of thousands may die yearly to such "diversions," they matter little in the grand scheme of things. True blood feuds only erupt over the killing of those of noble blood and their closest agents. When such a spiral of murder and countermurder at the highest echelon begins, there is very little that can stop it until one side is laid low. All the great houses maintain numerous specialised agents and deadly weapons in case of such vendettas. During such, no target is off-limits to attack, and age, gender or rank is not a guarantee of safety. It is not surprising that every Malfian noble is trained to be well-versed in the arts of violence and secrecy from a young age, and duelling among the nobles of Malfi is commonplace. Outsiders drawn into such battles had best remember that, to most Malfian nobles, the concept of the "fair fight" is the most appalling kind of idiocy.
Position of the Ministorum on Malfi
While faith in the Imperial Creed is widely regarded as strong on Malfi -- particularly among the common masses of the hive workers who make up the bulk of the planet's population (but notably less so in other classes) -- the Imperium's church is rightly perceived by many as divided and weak. Although Malfi holds no fewer than three Cardinal's seats in the Synod Calixis (a number exceeded only by Scintilla's five), no single churchman holds genuine sway over the Malfian clergy, and the Adeptus Ministorum's clerics are heavily factionalised. Matters are worsened by the fact that the local Ecclesiarchy receives little support or backing from the Malfian nobility. A great many of them seek to circumvent its stranglehold by funding and maintaining their own House chaplains (often drawn from minor branches of their own bloodlines and illegitimate children), trained and ordained off-world, sometimes as far afield as Maccabeus Quintus or even the Scarus Sector. These chaplainries serve the spiritual needs of the noble houses while chiefly remaining loyal to them before any other master save the Imperial Creed, not the local hierarchy of the Ministorum.
The reasons for this schism between the noble houses that rule Malfi and Malfi's own duly composed Ministorum authorities dates back to the dark days of Malfi's "Reign of Terror." This began in 428.M41 with the ascendancy of House Koba to undisputed rule. During this period, the Malfian Ecclesiarchy succumbed to Koba's power, becoming little more than their puppet. Its clergy often became spies within the noble houses to which they were assigned, and the Church turned a blind eye to the Koba's tyranny and bloodletting. This has never been forgiven or forgotten by the Malfian nobility, to this day. What little unity or moral authority the Malfian Church retained was shattered during the nightmarish events of the infamous "Bloody Solstice" in 499.M41 when the birth of the Pilgrims of Hayte cult tore Malfi apart.
The high clergy's initial response to the spiralling crisis was scattered and erratic. Its upper echelons were thrown into panic by such a direct and terrifying assault on their lives. Others were destroyed from within by the cult's agents. Many prelates and abbots shut themselves away, even from each other, and attempted vainly to turn their temples into fortresses against the onslaught. They were publically powerless to stop the Pilgrims from going about their bloody work. These acts were seen, by both the Malfian nobility and the masses, as cowardice and betrayal.
In the many standard years since then, the Malfian Church and the sub-sector Ecclesiarchy have fought a slow uphill battle to regain its rightful place on Malfi. After many holy missions and the zeal of countless priests, it has largely succeeded with Malfi's people, but not those with who rule them. The Malfian Church remains largely fragmented, and an invisible barrier persists between it and Malfi's noble houses.
The Masqued, a Chaos Cult with strong connections to an alarming number of Maflian noble houses, is believed to have grown directly out of Malfi's culture of constant political intrigue. Its original architects took the concepts of falsehood and subterfuge to their limits and arrived at the cult's guiding tenet: that nothing is what it seems. By extension, human life and the Imperium of Man itself is a deceit, and Chaos is the only truth. The Masqued believe that the "civilised Imperium" wears a mask of refinement and devoted duty, beneath which lies Mankind's natural affinity with the lurid machinations of the Ruinous Powers of the Warp. They believe it is simply a matter of time before the mask falls away and Mankind's true nature as a Chaotic species is revealed.
The Masqued revel in licentious, debauched behaviour and delight in extremes of falsehood and mendacity. All cult members are anonymous and wear at their gatherings grotesque and colourful masks derived from the styles worn at the Malfian nobility's courtly masques and entertainments. The Masqued boasts, in its membership, a shockingly large number of Malfian nobles and high-born, for whom the cult is a mere extension of their courtly world, intrigue taken to its natural conclusion. It is likely many of them have no real concept of the dark truth of Chaos lurking at the centre of their compact.
More a deviant secret society than an actual Chaos Cult, the Masqued have avoided censure for a number of reasons: they have political connections and influence; they are almost impossible to identify and target; they offer no palpable threat as yet to Imperial control over Malfi or the Calixis Sector. The Masqued do not seem to be striving to achieve anything: their activities are more a broad excuse for licentious, orgiastic behaviour. Attempts made by the Calixian Conclave of the Inquisition, in the most part abortive or unsuccessful, to infiltrate the order have revealed that the cult seems content to meet and worship the Ruinous Powers in the form of Chaos Undivided, waiting for "the inevitable" to happen.
They seem to show no desire or intent to bring about a Chaos revolution, as they regard it as a preordained fact. It is known that Inquisitor Lord Caidin himself regards the Masqued as a "dilettante order," a grouping of deviants rather than an active threat, and therefore not a priority target. However, given the potential membership of the cult, and the wealth, resources and influence that implies, if the order ever did decide to become more proactive, it would be the richest and most insidious Chaos Cult in the entire Segmentum Obscurus. For this reason, several key figures in the Conclave believe it should be dug out and sanctioned without delay.
The range of the cult's activity is alarming: suborders and satellite lodges have been noted on Scintilla, Sepheris Secundus, Iocanthus and many other high population worlds in the Calixis Sector. Traces of it have been found as far away as Cypra Mundi and Eustis Majoris in the neighbouring Scarus Sector. It spreads wherever the noble houses of the Imperium have influence. Some say it has links all the way back to Terra. It is also chilling to reflect that, in the last three standard decades alone, four high-level operatives, each of unimpeachable character, sent by the Inquisition to infiltrate the cult, have later turned up as bonded members. It is an alluring, seductive order.
Departmento Cartographicae Planetary Database
- Galactic Position: 2-2/34/CS/N
- Class: Hive World
- Climate: Hot/Temperate, abiding planetary climate is semitropical with a high degree of precipitation and storm activity.
- Geography: The planet's central super-continual mass, which dominates 70% of its surface, was formerly jungle/rain forest zones ranging to an arid desert equatorial belt, with relatively small polar oceans. The natural landscape, however, has now largely been overwhelmed with diffuse, laterally spread hive city urbanisation and industrial development, giving way to "scav zones" in arid desert regions. This single mass hive structure is accessed through extensive "Arteria" road and transit networks and is politically further subdivided into 1,243 administrative dominions under control of the Malfian nobility.
- Economy: Malfi is home to the Calixis Sector's second-largest hive-based economy after Scintilla (although Scintilla's output is considerably higher). It is also the Malfian Sub-sector production capital and primary exporter for finished goods, metalwork, manufactured materials and arms, as well as a major transhipping port with links across the Calixis Sector and beyond. Malfi is a mass-importer of raw materials (particularly metallic ores) and food, and is incapable of feeding more than an estimated 20% of its population without imports from nearby Agri-worlds such as Gallowglass.
- Governmental Type: Indigenous Hive Oligarchy (League of Patented Nobility, registering seventeen divisions of rank and title, composed of approximately three to four hundred recognised noble houses at any given time.)
- Planetary Governor: Currently the Matriarch Eminence Glydus. The Malfian Matriarch/Patriarch is, by the Articles of Compliance put into effect by the Warmaster Angevin, elected for a life term as Malfian Planetary Governor and Imperial Commander of the Malfian System with secondary authority over the system worlds of Gallowglass (Malfi V-c) and Borusa (Malfi VIII). The candidate for the role is brought forward by acclaim of the Malfian League of Patented Nobility.
- Adept Presence: Strong/Extensive; all major arms of the Adeptus Terra are represented, tasked to duties centred on Malfi itself as a prominent Hive World, and as the administrative nexus of the Malfian Sub-sector. Notable inclusions feature full Astropathic Choir (sub-sector relay), extensive Imperial Guard mustering grounds/Departmento Munitorum storage depots, Battlefleet Calixis orbital station, and self-governing sub-sector Adeptus Administratum citadel enclave.
- Military: The Legion of Civil Protection (local Planetary Defence Force, low/poor), private armies held by the noble houses (large, elite and well-equipped but widely scattered and under independent command). Also Malfi holds considerable numbers of mercenaries and bounty hunters which make Malfi their home (cross ref: Free Companies/Malfian Bloodsworn). Additionally highly violent indigenous culture and extensive nomadic criminal population in Malfi's "scav-zones" make for excellent Imperial Guard recruits when tithed.
- Contact with Other Worlds: Stable Warp routes run from Malfi to Landunder, Seedworld AfG:218, Scintilla, Vaxanide and Orbel Quill.
- Tithe Grade: Exactus Extremis.
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 216-218
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 325
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pg. 34