"What profiteth a man if he gains the world, but in doing so loses his soul?"
- — Ancient Terran Proverb
Also known as "the Iron Pit" by the debased human Renegades that travel there to trade and barter, Samech was once an Imperial Forge World, an outpost of the Adeptus Mechanicus within the former Jericho Sector, famed for the skill of its Tech-adepts and the quality of the Cogitator systems produced there.
During the slow fall of the ancient Jericho Sector into barbarity and isolation, Samech maintained its power and independence far longer than any of the other worlds of the sector core. Watch Fortress Erioch maintained communications with Samech for more than two hundred Terran years after Varrus fell.
As the centuries wore on, however, the Magi of Samech grew increasingly insular and paranoid. Ever beset by xenos raiders, warring former allies, and human Renegades, Samech began firing on any vessel that entered its system.
Samech's true infamy came to light in 325.M40, when a Mechanicus Explorator flotilla managed to battle its way through the Warp Storms shrouding the Jericho Reach to re-contact Samech and was lured into close orbit and blasted to atoms.
This act of treachery would lead the Cult Mechanicus to declare the Forge World Apostate under penalty of death -- a penalty that has yet to be carried out.
Matters no doubt worsened when the Hadex Anomaly first erupted and swallowed Samech. Scattered intelligence gathered by the Deathwatch painted the Magi of Samech as increasingly corrupt, embracing forbidden technological blasphemies and trading weapons, and even Warp-Drives, to debased Renegades and consorting with the vilest forms of xenos without favour or distinction.
Some reports claimed that the Magi were raising up altars to the Dark Gods to consecrate their nightmarish works. Over the centuries since then, the emissaries and works of Samech have been a repeated and bitter foe for the Deathwatch.
They are not only allies to hostile alien forces, they are also sometimes rival claimants for xenos artefacts and lore the Imperium can ill-afford to have fall into the hands of the enemy. Samech's rust-coloured spider-like vessels have been reported as far afield as the ruins on Jove's Fall and hunting at the edges of the T'au colonies in the region for "specimens."
As matters stand, Samech is an abiding factor in the failure of the Acheros Salient, as it is the principal supplier of baleful war engines and arms to the Chaos forces of the Cellebos Warzone and the raider ships that harry the fringes of the Achillus Crusade seeking to take back the Jericho Reach for the Imperium.
The twisted masters of Samech deal freely with any creature, human or otherwise, that can meet their price in slaves and secret lore. Samech possesses the firepower and terrifying servants of its own to destroy any that would think to take what it offers by force.
During the Jericho Reach's "Age of Shadows," when Warp Storms cut the Jericho Sector off from an Imperium preoccupied with more pressing concerns, world after world fell to darkness and disorder in a slow descent that marked the once-proud sector's collapse into decay.
For many planets, the fall was a slow one, a mere footnote for later Imperial scholars to document as the Jericho Sector became a lawless Reach.
However, for one planet there is an occurrence that the Adeptus Mechanicus will let none forget, when what was once a firm bastion of the Cult Mechanicus treacherously fired upon a formally-recognised Explorator fleet. For followers of the Machine God, this simple act is a declaration of utter rebellion for Samech, and enough for them to forever seek its destruction.
The truth was far worse, for the Omnissiah's light had been slowly dimming on the Forge World for some centuries before the infamous event. When the Hadex Anomaly consumed the world in Warp energies many standard years later, the forges were ready to seek out the Ruinous Powers to further their own aims, as well as alien races and archeotech sources previously prohibited by the edicts of Mars.
Samech now stands as the main source of armaments used against the Imperial forces in the Acheros Salient of the Achilus Crusade, creating profane combinations of authorized Imperial technologies, unconsecrated archeotech, unholy creations of Chaos, and even the inhuman workings of the xenos.
These abominations represent the real nature of Samech -- a world where nothing is forbidden when it will garner influence and stature, of brokers willing to deal with anyone or anything as long as payment is made, of agents ever searching for undiscovered technologies to exploit. There is no morality other than the ruthless quest for power and survival in the war-torn Jericho Reach.
To the Adeptus Mechanicus, Samech is a dark mirror of their own holy Forge Worlds, one they dare not contemplate too closely. For the Deathwatch they are a formidable enemy, wielding arcane and technological wonders unseen by Mankind. As long as Samech stands, the outlook for success in the Acheros Salient is as dim as the smoke-blackened skies of the planet itself.
"You call dare call us heretics? You can see nothing, your view too narrow to perceive the true glories of technology in all its myriad ways. Where was your Omnissiah when our sector was cut off and left for dead? In His absence we have learned there is more than the dictates of the Corpse-God. We innovate while you copy. We discover while you entrench. We learn from all while you refuse to cogitate outside your petty enclosures. I would pity you, if you had any capacity to appreciate the emotion. In time you may yet realize your pathetic miscalculation, but by then we will be as gods ourselves."
- —Dark Magos Celui Spehn, Master of the Platinum Forges
With the coming of the Jericho Reach's Age of Shadows, darkness was cast across the region and no world was spared. As with most Imperial sectors, the planets were heavily interdependent on each other and as passage became more perilous each world began to fall into disorder.
Lessening contact with other worlds bred discontent and uncertainty. For Samech, a firm outpost of the Machine God, led by the most devout of Tech-priests, uncertainty was a cancerous seed as powerful as any direct assault from the dark powers. While other worlds fell through the long solar decades, Samech remained steadfast in its service to the Omnissiah and His Imperium, but slowly the Quorum of Magi began to question this course of action.
Their system was under frequent attacks from raiders, both human and xenos, eager to pillage their works. And where was the Imperium to defend them? Their forges required raw materials even as their weak flesh still required organic nutrients. Where were the allied worlds they relied on for trade? It was logical to conclude that Samech could only survive through self-sufficiency.
Synthetic vat-pastes were developed to sustain the Servitors and their masters. The planet itself was plundered for whatever materials it could provide. The forges were redirected into fabricating massive macro-battery emplacements and orbital defence stations to protect the planet, as well as voidcraft and mighty war machines to repel enemy vessels at a distance.
All avenues for new weaponry were explored, no matter the progress of consecration level or lack of approval from far-distant Mars. No more would Samech be easy prey to a sector lost to barbarism.
Attacks were ever increasing, and more and more the magi viewed any not of Samech to be against Samech. Ships entering the system were routinely fired upon. Those astropathic communications that still continued were ignored, as they could be attempts to lull the defences before an attack. Samech endured where other worlds fell, and whatever means it took to do so, there was justification enough in that fact.
The Mechanicus Explorator Fleet that approached Samech on that fateful day in 325.M40 had no way of knowing this, only that they were grateful to have reached safe haven after the Warp Storms nearly tore their starships apart. Samech's defence network viewed them only as another in a series of raiders, albeit more clever than most in their duplication of ancient Mechanicus authorisation cant-codes.
A trap was sprung, luring the damaged ships into what appeared to be repair stations. It was only as they approached too close to retreat that the docking tubes were revealed as linear mass driver barrels, glassine fixtures glowing not as viewports but as Defence Laser lenses.
The fleet was eradicated, but not before it could hurl a desperate cry into the Warp telling of the treachery. It took many Terran years for word to filter back to the Imperium, but the result was as inexorable as gravity -- Samech was declared Apostate in Maxima.
Samech itself knew only that a possible attack fleet had been destroyed. That it seemed to be of Martian origin was irrelevant; the Quorum by this time viewed Samech as independent of those who did not care enough to aid their own. If Mars and the Imperium had turned their back, then Samech would guide itself.
With Jericho falling ever deeper into disorder, Samech forces began raiding other planets themselves, for in the midst of such anarchy, such had to be the way of things. The planet's security seemed to be growing until another event occurred that was to change Samech evermore, one that they could never have foreseen.
For when the Hadex Anomaly erupted like a volcanic explosion of baleful Warp energies, Samech itself was cast into an abyssal space where the Empyrean spilled into reality unchecked.
For the Tech-priests, it was hellish, often literally. To see irrefutable evidence of forces that could not be quantified or even controlled, only carefully bargained with in deals for states worse than simple death, was the final clack of a cogwheel turning Samech away from its original purpose.
Now forever melded with the æther, it did what it had done best through the past centuries -- it adapted, and it survived. It was not without vigorous debate, culminating with a series of nearly devastating civil wars. However, no parties dared harm the carefully maintained forges dominating the surface and deep into the crust, and this kept Samech from falling into decay like so many other worlds in the sector.
The outcome saw a new ruling system, led by the faction best able to prove itself superior to the others in technological command, and Samech overcame its insular paranoia. Vessels learned to navigate the unstable space now surrounding the planet, and conducted expeditions wherever there were new technologies to be had or markets where their own marvels could be traded for raw materials and new slaves to work the forges.
Ever more frequently they searched for ancient archeotech or arcane lore to help their own factions establish dominance over rivals. No source was too extreme, and Samech agents established ties with xenos races across Jericho, many of which the Imperium still has not encountered.
Their own star system was not neglected, as the entire area was embedded with defences unparalleled across the sector, with Warp-based mines strewn across the surrounding Empyrean shoals. Most importantly, pacts with dark gods granted the magi and their factions the power to control their new environment in exchange for supplying the Chaos warhosts with weaponry and engines of war.
It was the beginning of Samech's new role in Jericho, and the Tech-priests are arrogantly proud that an Imperium that had forsaken them is now terrified of their existence.
The Way of the Iron Pit
Any appraisal of Samech would immediately reveal its origin as a Forge World. Every planet and planetoid in the system hosts extensive mining operations, with massive machines extracting ores and minerals to feed the forges. Mass freighters connect them all to Samech itself, a world enclosed in a perpetual blanket of dark grey clouds.
Below the clouds is the source: stack after stack of vertical pipes rising even to the lower cloud decks and billowing thick smoke into the acrid air. No sign of the actual surface can be seen, for all is covered with layered factories, burning, creating, forging night and day (though there are few who can tell the two apart given the atmosphere). Robed figures wander without wasteful delay in their tasks, exposed cloth allowing glimpses of artful mechadendrites or metallic limbs.
Closer examination reveals more of the real nature of Samech. Xenos vessels flit about the system, trading openly without retribution. Vast slave forces work the cruel machinery, crushed to ruined pulp should they fall. Obvious mutants walk the iron lanes connecting the complexes, undisturbed by biologis-proctors seeking righteous genetic purity.
Automated multi-limbed mechanisms stalk across the girders connecting forge spires, with no Tech-overseer guiding their actions. And unhidden, clear to even a casual glance: the influence of the Ruinous Powers. Runes and glyphs of unholy meaning litter walls, declaring patronage to dark gods.
Even the Tech-priests carry these marks upon their branded flesh, their allegiance to the Machine God burned away from their synapses. The forges themselves burn with the terrible smells of burning blood and scorched flesh, fed by souls as well as Promethium and steel. The blessed cogwheel is gone; instead there are leering metal skulls set in a circlet of spiked teeth.
Possibly worse for any loyal servant of the Omnissiah though would be the sense of disorder. There is no proper, logical structure to the world. Forge-cities rise in random fashion, lurching towards the skies and deep into the planetary crust at the whim of their lord. Factories lie in ruins elsewhere, collapsed from internecine combat that would be unheard of on a true colony of Mars.
For Samech is more than a simple fallen Forge World; it is a planet in constant tension between dozens of rival forge-cities, each fighting, scheming and struggling for dominance. Only the forge that can intimidate, bribe and irrefutably demonstrate its mastery of all technology is fit to rule Samech and its Dark Magos proclaim himself Furnace Lord.
Such rule extends only so long as another forge-city does not topple it through their own exhibitions of more powerful weaponry, alliances with xenos and Chaos warhosts, or access to lost archeotech.
At any given time there are perhaps a handful of forge-cities on Samech that count themselves as dominant powers, each perhaps leading factions of numerous minor furnaces. The standings of the forges are not set in iron though, and will rise and fall with the fortunes of their forge-lords. New exclusive rights for the discoveries made by xenos scavengers, armaments arrangements to Chaos warlords, revelations of new technological breakthroughs -- all of these could raise a lowly district to planetary power.
Alternately, the failure of a new Warp-Drive configuration or the loss of a slave pen due to revolt could lower a forge-lord to casting Stubber shells to survive. Each forge-district is constantly striving to better themselves at the expense of others; none rise so fast as when they push everyone else down under them.
Most of the forges have at least in some portion made dealings with the Ruinous Powers, supplying their forces with needed armaments and armours and gaining power at the expense of their souls (or ideally the souls of their slaves). Sabotage and spying are constant, and a forge is often only as prosperous as its own security forces are effective.
The forge-cities are as varied as the myriads of raw materials they burn, chew, and remake into the weapons and vehicles for which Samech has become infamous. Some, such as Hexal, in many ways preserve their ancient ways of slow study and careful refinement, with their extensive (and closely guarded) collection of rare tech-patterns allowing them to retain valuable markets.
While it in no way espouses retreating to the close-mindedness of the Adeptus Mechanicus, their Tech-priests still see the value of deliberation and caution. Their merchandise is always of the highest quality, such that many of their customers also supply tithed warriors to help defend the district and ensure regular delivery of their supplies.
The majority though feel the opposite, frantic to extend their technological reach wherever it might lead in their pursuit of power. Forge Dimeris has constructed technological heresies that walk and perhaps even think like men. Delos Thuvial's district has produced prismatic engines that glow with unnatural lights and derive power through drained life energies.
The Irradial Forge seems to have mastered infusing soul with machine to create daemonic engines of fury and steel. Even more reckless in their quest for knowledge is the Cambered Bridge, where Hereteks study the interactions of the tenuous membrane that bounds reality to the Empyrean. Their replications of Warp eruptions, the better to master the Sea of Souls, have destroyed several small asteroids and portions of one moon.
Most have extensive Explorator fleets roaming the Jericho Reach for new xenos species to exploit, archeotech to loot, and civilisations to enslave, frequently clashing with Deathwatch teams acting to counter their aims and Rogue Traders seeking to do exactly the same but in the Emperor's name.
There is a smattering of small manufactoria controlled by their own workers, the serfs and slaves having perhaps overthrown their masters, or else the Tech-priest functionaries decided it was more logical that their Magos-lords not interfere with their operations. As long as the contracts are filled there is little opposition, though such forges are always at risk from conquest by the more legitimate powers.
The Underforge of Kith is literally underground, stealing resources and siphoning power where they can to keep their furnaces burning. They deal with all, no matter the established contracts, and are the bane of the other forges. Their factories regularly destroyed, they roam the ancient infrastructure that descends deep into the planet, rebuilding from forgotten old forges and mining operations.
Notable Samech Personnel
- Furnace Lord - The Furnace Lord is the acting ruling Dark Magos of the Hell-Forge of Samech. All the forge-fanes of Samech are subservient (at least in word) to the Furnace Lord. It is his forge-city that rules Samech, but it is a rule that requires constant proof of command and the readiness to use it. He knows each of his vassal-forges would each eagerly replace him given the chance. Each forge-lord swims through the currents of power seeping throughout the factory-planet like a bloodshark, seeking weakness in the others, each Magos always ready to abandon old alliances should new ones prove more rewarding. The Furnace Lord stokes their rivalries, stirring their animosities together while directing their energies against the hated Imperium and its craven, weak servants of dead Mars. Such is the way of Samech, and such is its success that its colours of blood crimson and charcoal grey are found across the Acheros Salient, from frenzied Combat Servitors to deadly armaments to massive war machines. The Furnace Lord keeps his heavily augmented head above his rivals by ensuring his personal agents are the first to uncover new technologies for the power of his forge. These agents scour the salient in their infamous spiderships, questing even into the Black Reef or the devoured worlds far rimward of the Drift in search of technological riches they can exploit. Each agent is a powerful and unique representative of their lord, intelligent, crafty, and armed with the looted weaponry of a hundred worlds and backed with powerful retinues of Combat Servitors. Like their master, each fights to put themselves paramount in their lord's eye, with the goal of being granted their own forge-rule one day. Along with agents of other furnaces, they are a constant reminder of the reach that Samech has across the salient. Wherever the Imperium explores, either the crimson ships have either already been there or will approach soon.
- Explorator-Magos O'nico Benezek - Benezek has been in direct service to the Furnace Lord for nearly two solar decades now, and is one of the premier Explorators in the salient. She is highly intelligent, smart enough to have survived three purges of furnace agents and still climb upwards in status. Heavily augmented when she was inducted, her xenos robes disguise her four insect-like brass legs and the series of mechadendrites that can emerge from her dorsal vents. Her voice is a rich contralto unlike the harsh mechanical pattern normally found in her peers, perhaps a deliberate alteration to gain her advantage in negotiations. While not an exceptional fighter, she has held her own against numerous Imperial attacks. She views herself as a professional though and does not take these assaults personally, preferring to outwit than fight where possible. Sealed Inquisitorial records seem to indicate instances where she has even sided with Imperial forces against especially repellent enemies such as Tyranid infestations, both parties extending their truce until each had quit the battlefield. Benezek can make an interesting opponent for a Deathwatch team accustomed to undisguised enemies. She will often be a step ahead of them in a search, and might even tease them along should she think their firepower can be directed to her advantage at a later time. While she would have no issue with seeing them dead, if it does not directly profit her own aims then she is content they live for another day. Personally she finds most Space Marines quite uninteresting in their steadfast loyalty to the Emperor and each other, but there are several Inquisitors that she feels are but a small step away from joining her in a much more rewarding service to the Iron Pit.
Samech Specialised Units
- Simuloptera - A colony of nanoscopic robots called Simuloptera has remarkable adaptive and regenerative properties. Scholars theorize that Simuloptera may have been an experiment in forbidden medical technology before Samech's immersion in the Hadex Anomaly. Whatever their original purpose, these machines took on an enigmatic intelligence through prolonged immersion in the Warp. Simuloptera hives subsist on organic refuse, consuming the dead and the living without differentiation. A colony can produce a visually indistinguishable replica of anything it comes in contact with, and more importantly, anything in the memory of creatures that it consumes. Simuloptera are incapable of producing organic speech, but can control vox signals to emulate any voice patterns in their memory. This ability -- combined with their obscurity -- makes Simuloptera a coveted tool of espionage and assassination. However, the machines' motives are poorly understood, and bargaining with a hive can be even more difficult than locating one on their native Samech. The most effective enticement appears to be the opportunity to absorb memory patterns of new creatures and technology. Rumours suggest sacrificial offerings of Navigators and well-travelled void explorers meet with the most frequent success. Some theorists use this to infer an interest in Warp currents and interstellar data, but Simuloptera show a strong aversion to exploration and travel. While a colony may leave Samech temporarily as part of an unscrupulous pact, they always seem drawn to return once their purpose is fulfilled.
Notable Samech Technology
- Samech Redemption Servitor - The Samech Redemption Servitor was created by Dark Mechanicum Hereteks from Samech to be used as a punishment reserved for criminals and unruly serfs. To become a Redemption Servitor is therefore a fate reserved for traitors, weaklings, and hated enemies of those in power. Many say that the feral intelligence of these drones still bears the tormented, malicious echoes of those now trapped in servitude. Scholars suspect the Redemption Pattern Servitor originated in the Lest District, where it remains extremely popular. However, the model can be found in use throughout the world of Samech and in the wider Jericho Reach. The pattern involves heavy replacement of the organic neck, arm, and leg joints with pivots that provide almost 360 degree rotation. The torso is then augmented with four additional limbs, creating a squat, arachnid profile. Most models also use Epidermal Armour Plating, although its design varies with the forge-city of manufacture. The Redemption Servitor incorporates several pieces of Samech's electromagnetic wargear, although it is of substantially poorer quality than the devices used by the world's Dark Magi. The standard configuration includes a Techxorcism Cannon -- usually installed in the chest and fired through the gullet -- for neutralising other technological enemies and scavenging machines that may not be completely inert. In order to reach and disassemble precarious wreckage, the Redemption Servitor contains an auxiliary magnetic repulsion system that allows it to traverse unstable structures, and its spindly limbs are capable of puncturing steel. These limbs also double as dangerous weapons, which the savage Servitor needs little provocation to use. The Redemption Pattern's principal drawback is that its programming works as intended. In order to scavenge Samech's wastes effectively, they must be relatively autonomous, with the capacity for self-repair and an instinct to seek out valuable technology. Not only does this cause these automatons to kill for the smallest scrap of tech, it has led to a high incidence of the Servitors infesting starships bound off-world, spreading these dangerous cyborgs across the galaxy.
Allies and Enemies
- The Cyclopean Congregation - A self-proclaimed prophet, Kokabiel Grigoris presides over a mystery cult of degenerate Navigators and decadent voidsmen known as the Cyclopean Congregation. Named for Kokabiel and his inner circle of Renegade Navigators, all of whom are blind save for their Third Eye, the Congregation Chaos Cult promises illumination through communion with the Hadex Anomaly. Practicing complex rites of initiation, the cult's upper echelons are open only to full-blooded Navigators. Only those with the Warp Eye, preaches Kokabiel, can appreciate the Anomaly for what it truly is. The Cyclopean Congregation is on uneasy footing with the Hereteks of Samech. Once tentative trading partners, relations soured after Kokabiel purchased cloning technology to expedite the Congregation's first breeding program. The technology proved faulty, producing inchoate masses of palpitating tissue useless to the cult's long-term goals. Though Kokabiel swore revenge and bombarded multiple Heretek orbital stations at the edge of the Samech System, he has yet to deal a crushing blow against the Heretek Magos responsible for crafting the faulty accelerated maturation chambers.
- Warsmith Koros - Said to be a veteran of one thousand and one sieges, Koros is a Warsmith of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion, and as such a master of attacking and defending every manner of citadel. He is also a veteran of the battle of the Iron Cage, and one of the Daemon Primarch Perturabo's lieutenants, having proved himself worthy of command of one of the Iron Bastions on Medrengard, the planet-scale fortress Daemon World which is home to his Legion. Koros has been despatched to the Jericho Reach in order to oversee the fortification of numerous worlds about the Hadex Anomaly, and to lend his assistance in the planning of a grand counterstrike against the forces of the Imperium. Warsmith Koros is known to be in league with the corrupted Mechanicus of the Heretic Forge World of Samech, who have equipped him and his forces with numerous items of Heretek, some of which was undoubtedly constructed according to his own specification. It is now suspected by several within the Watch Fortress Erioch's Chamber of Vigilance that Warsmith Koros and the Dark Mechanicum of Samech have entered into an unholy alliance, the only result of which can be the creation of a new generation of previously unseen and abominably powerful weaponry. Armed with the twisted fruits of such a dark union, the servants of the Ruinous Powers might finally be able to break the deadlock that has befallen the Acheros Salient, and begin to push the lapdogs of the Corpse Emperor back to the Well of Night, finally expelling them from the Jericho Reach.
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), "Jericho Reach Stellar Map," pp. 324, 349
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pp. 90-91
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pg. 62, 68, 70-71, 83, 86, 89-93
- Deathwatch: The First Founding (RPG), pg. 94