Rogue Trader: Into the Dark Void
The Koronus Expanse
The Koronus Expanse in the 41st Millennium is a scattered, partly explored region containing a few young colonies and vast natural wealth still barely exploited. Rogue Traders vie with one another for known resources, heedless of lives lost in the pursuit of riches, while a tentative attempt at Imperial colonization follows in their wake. Drawn by the flow of wealth, pirates and servants of the Dark Gods have also slipped into the Expanse, eager to wreak destruction upon the works of the God-Emperor’s faithful, living by what they wrest from dead hands, while the Expanse itself holds many secrets and native inhabitants no less dangerous. Beyond these human conflicts lie truly dark and dangerous voids, rife with rumored terrors, undiscovered stars, and worlds of man that have never known the God-Emperor. There are no defined warp-routes, no safe ways through the swirling empyrean. These regions hold the fearsome Ork, the treacherous Eldar, and strange ruins that lie beneath the light of dying stars.
For centuries, Rogue Traders have braved great evils and the treacherous warp to venture into the Koronus Expanse, but their efforts have barely begun to uncover its secrets. Footholds have been built close to the few semi-stable warp routes into the area. Here, resource-rich worlds and xenos ruins are exploited, trade envoys meet with heathen lords, and colonies are attempted upon sheltered worlds. These efforts have showered wealth and fame upon the fortunate and made corpses of the rest: the gateway to the Expanse is littered with broken vessels and tales of the vanished.
Beyond the more widely-reported regions of the Koronus Expanse, past deeps beset by pirates and dread xenos, lie many worlds and strange phenomena that exist as the stuff of dark legend. Some of these uncharted stars were visited by a single Rogue Trader whose tales are doubted or dismissed by rivals as outright lies, while others are known only from dubious and apocryphal sources such as Thulean data-vaults recovered from Dolorium’s voids in 741.M41, or the infamous prophetic visions of the Seven Witches of Footfall. Other fragments of contradictory lore relating to these dark zones are culled from even more untrustworthy sources, such as the muted astropathic whispers overheard on the warp’s twisted eddies, the falsehoods of the deceitful Eldar, or the ancient myths of heathen worlds given over to darkness for millennia uncounted. Such areas are often labeled with no more than “Here Be Monsters” on ancient charts, and are widely viewed as the destinations of only the foolhardy or insane.
Regions of the Expanse
Winterscale’s Realm: One of the most explored regions of the Koronus Expanse, and a region that holds the potential for both death and fabulous riches in equal measure. Lying coreward and spinward within the expanse, it is defined as the area explored and charted by Lord Captain Sebastian Winterscale in the early 41st Millennium, and is composed of a few coveted worlds that sit like shining beacons in the darkness of the unknown. While well-travelled, its furthest reaches remain unmapped and only a handful of the worlds within the Realm have been exploited to any extent. Even so, wealth pours out of the region and into the coffers of Rogue Traders, Merchant Houses and noble backers in the form of xenos artifacts, gems and mineral wealth. Charts to the region are abundant but often of dubious use given the ever-shifting warp currents in the Expanse. However, the relatively safe travel means that the area is heavily travelled, and as a result Winterscale’s Realm is soaked in the blood of hundreds of rival claimants, bounty hunters, renegades and pirates. While the Realms lacks the unknown dangers of deeper regions, those who go unarmed and unprepared for battle will suffer for their negligence – and all too often, that will be at the hands of their fellow Imperial citizens.
The Foundling Worlds: Counterspinward and coreward of the Expanse, the strange light of a baleful, churning warp storm marks the edge of the Foundling Worlds: this is the infamous Cauldron. Though they lie close to the Koronus Passage, the worlds within remained unexplored until several centuries after the opening of the Passage. The Foundling Worlds are roundly cursed by voidfarers as a place abandoned by the light of the God-Emperor, a benighted realm of sudden warp storms, temporal distortions and strange stellar phenomena. Few have tried to explore the region, and many of these colony expeditions and exploration ventures have failed to report back, evidently meeting with disaster and misfortune too complete for any to escape. Of late, Eldar vessels – or vessels claimed to be Eldar – have been seen in and around the region, haunting the few inhabited systems like wraiths. Lying beyond the Foundling Worlds are the corpse-embers of the Charnel Stars, bitter and broken lights that promise dead worlds and unknown treasures. No Rogue Trader is known to have found a route to the secrets that wait in the baleful light of these evil stars.
The Accursed Demense: Voidfarers of ages past believed that all evil and corruption in the Koronus Expanse emanated from the Accursed Demense. Lying roughly central and slightly rimwards in the expanse, this vast and uncharted region of stars has rarely been visited by Man. It is a realm of dead worlds, burnt stars and ill fate, occupied notably by the Undred-Undred Teef – a tract of systems at the heart of the region that serve as a nest of orks. The savage xenos prowl the nearby stellar regions looking for loot, plunder and conflict. Rumour has it that somewhere spinwards of the region, towards the Heathen Stars, lies a human pseudo-empire of at least six worlds that battles against the greenskins. Other rumours hold that a mighty Waagh will soon erupt from the Undred-Undred Teef to engulf first the Koronus Expanse, then the Calixis Sector in war.
The Heathen Stars: Spinwards and rimwards within the expanse lie the Heathen Stars, a diffuse region of old stars that have long been inhabited by human societies – none of which have ever known the glorious blessings of the light of the God-Emperor. The human settlements are said to range from the most primitive barbarism to pocket stellar empires with basic warp-travel capability. While many of the cultures are alien to Imperial citizens, they also harbour strange technologies from Mankind’s distant past, and the rumours of a complete STC complex-array constantly echo around the corridors of Port Wander. The presence of so many human cultures, many of whom are willing to trade with outside visitors, has led to tenuous routes being established from the edges of Winterscale’s Realm to the nearest of the Heathen Stars. However, Rogue Traders have barely even begun to exploit the wealth of these few stars, while the contents of those deeper systems within the area remain unknown.
The Unbeholden Reaches: Towards the far rim of the expanse lie the Unbeholden Reaches. Past the dense nebulae lies a realm visited only by the Disciples of Thule and a few brave and hardy souls. Tales are told of ghost-vessels, beauteous but deserted worlds, dust-nebulae that claim the souls of the damned – and of course, wealth beyond the bounds of even a Rogue Trader’s avarice. Few have ventured this far, and no one who has returned speaks loudly of what they have uncovered.
The Rifts of Hecaton: Far rimward and spinward lies a realm of unnatural darkness in the far depths of the Koronus Expanse, like the anger of gods fallen upon worlds long ago. The Rifts of Hecaton cast a long shadow across the Expanse, as the Rift stars are guttered and dead, and those who travel there do not return. Lord Captain Inquisitor Kobras Aquairre vanished into the Rifts long ago, as did the Disciples of Thule who followed in his wake. The few stars that exist within the Rifts are ill-omened and little is known of them aside from myth, legend and prophecy.