Thanks for this, it's been quite fun to use. I whipped one up just to colour in some of the lines on the map.
THE HOWLAN SWAY
Size: 5-10 Systems (4)
Per System: Thriving presence (5)
Outlook: Wary (2)
Allies: Eldar (2)
Xenos Type: Warp-twisted Humanoid-Beasts (5,5,1,4)
Tech-base: Sorcerous Warp Navigation (4)
Goals: Please Warp deities (4)
Historical Contacts: Conquest (4)
Void Ships: Advanced Industry (2)
An industrious if tragically doomed species, the Howlan Sway can be found in a string of systems between Kain's Abyss and the Cauldron. The Howlans have been terribly twisted by warp magic, hideously bound with a number of xeno-species native to the Koronus Expanse, leading many to believe they may have once been a servant race of the Yu'Vath. Limited contact with these warp-tainted xenos reveals no such history, or any lingering touch of the Yu'Vath. Instead, it appears that the Howlan species came to worship the warp on their own.
Few other xenos are capable of navigating the warp in the same way humans can, with the aid of the Navis Nobilite. Yet the Howlan Sway's rapid, but staggered, expansion from Kain's Abyss towards the Cauldron over the last few centuries reveals the ability to not only make long distant jumps, but also the ability to navigate around the treacherous strings of warp shadows emanating from Kain's Abyss and the fury of the Cauldron. Imperial ships rarely pass through that area of space, and the few safe channels are now, peacefully, occupied by the Howlan Sway.
None have been to their homeworld, rumoured to be deep in Kain's Abyss--at least none admit to it, though some indicate that the Eldar are present in many of their star systems. Their culture centres around the worship of several 'Unars', deities that manifested themselves and delivered their species from ruin. These 'gods' showed the Howlans how to meld with lower life forms, perhaps to counteract a phage ruining their genetic structures as some xenobiologists theorize. To a normal Imperial citizen, a Howlan is nothing but a twisted, beastial mutant, worthy of death. Yet it seems curious that these warp deities, while blessing the race with the dubious gifts of mutation, have so far not direct the xenos to outwardly heinous acts.
Their subjugation of several lesser xenos empires along the path to the Cauldron seems to have lead to a melding of those xenos' physiologies to their own. Howlans encountered a century or two ago are vastly different from the modern Howlans who now feature a much-less chaotic anatomy. They are tall, languid, though powerfully built with multiple eyes in their heads. Their mouths vary between fanged jaws or sharp-beaked snouts, and their hands and feet are clawed, taloned, hoofed, or disturbingly human. They are not aggressive by nature, but seem fixated on their industry.
These systems in the middle of the Sway territory are heavily industrialized, each useful rock carefully exploited to further their growing fleets. In Xarsheb, Dorlana, and McGill's Wake, there are three massive void stations able to handle large numbers of vessels, both in-system miners and also vast tradeships plying the warp routes they found between the twisting chains of Kain's Abyss and the Cauldron. Their warp-capable craft are smaller than other xenos, preferring the use of heavy frigates lead rarely by flagships generously classified as light cruisers. Their weaponry is warp-fueled, hurling arcane bolts to shatter voidshields and loosing dark lightning to carve hulls. Apart from the potential damnation of a soul by being killed with these weapons, they are not especially destructive compared to other weapons.
Most troubling perhaps is the Eldar's presence on many of these worlds. Craftworld ships can be seen sometimes, docked in the three stations for unknown purposes. Since the Howlans are not restricted in their warp travels, as far as we know, scouting fleets have ranged as far as Winterscale's Realm in search for rare resources, often with an Eldar vessel nearby. What the treacherous xenos lead these twisted mutants to is unknown, but the flotillas are not hostile and will only defend itself if their mining or transport ships are in danger.
In the middle of the Howlan Sway, Xarsheb was once home to the Xarshe, an agrarian xenos species that traded useful medical components in exchange for cast iron farming tools. The Xarshe were particularly thankful for fresh water hacked from the ice rings of their planet as it included various trace minerals useful for the growing of their crops.
The Howlan Sway arrived approximately 87 years ago. All traces of the Xarshe were lost, and rogue trader vessels arriving to take on their cargo were politely rebuffed. Contact with the Howlans of this system was made less than 30 years ago, and the few who remember the peaceable Xarshe saw them remade in the Howlans' bodies. A few of the more daring, or reckless, rogue traders have since begun a quiet trade for the same crops as before, in exchange for livestock culled from throughout the Expanse.
No one is allowed to approach Xarsheb itself, most visitors are directed to the massive void station in orbit around Xarsheb's largest moon. Humans, who bear gifts, are given a section of the station to dock and conduct trade.
A colony established with the same hopeful promise as Damaris, Dorlana is home to three planets and one massive gas giant ringed by asteroids and comets the size of moons. It fell to a passing wave of raiders that stripped the colony of its equipment then its colonists. It was left abandoned and untouched by Imperials until the Howlan Sway arrived. By then, they discovered a colony of another void-faring xenos species and quickly absorbed those colonists.
Dorlana is home to dozens, perhaps hundreds, of mining ships, platforms, and stations that extract every useful resource from the system. The main station here isn't really available for trade with outsiders and are instead feeding the massive shipyards above the second world in the system. Several Imperial colony ships have arrived at Dorlana only to be turned away, again politely. These would-be colonists returned to Footfall with strange tales of bat-winged xenos and their sprawling shipyards.
Ancient and mostly untraversed, McGill's Wake is a ribbon of nebula that was ripped off from its parent and hurtled to the stars. Analysis of the gases surrounding the system point to the origin being somewhere in Segmentum Pacificus, thousands of light years away. What allows the gases to swirl around the system instead of dissipating might be thanks to the Ork presence on third planet.
Morris McGill, rogue trader and sometimes smuggler, vowed to chart the veiled worlds of the then-Wake, and successfully charted over a dozen of the outermost planets. Gravity tides and swirling and unpredictable jets of gas hampered all attempts at closing in until finally the rogue trader spotted an opening and hurled his entire force through it. They found the greenskins waiting on the other side, trapped or caged, and promptly slaughtered them as the window closed. Only one voidship from the rogue trader's fleet survived, on its way out of the system to carry its haul of archeotech found on the last world McGill charted.
Using their fiendish warp mastery, the Howlans were able to see the pattern of the tendrils of nebula gas and make their way inside the system. In that time period, they heavily industrialized the outer-most planets and the Orks found themselves, for once, outnumbered. The station here is open to anyone willing to trade, and rogue traders have often come to blows to trade foodstuffs (and fresh livestock) for crates of unwanted archeotech. Navigation even in the outermost planets to where the station is can be very treacherous, and the Howlans provide a pilot to those looking to trade. This offers the only look at the Howlan "Navigator", a psyker that will guide the ship through the grav tides and gases smoothly and efficiently. Navigators that have come in contact with these xenos psykers remain tight-lipped, but the few willing bridge crew to speak of their experience tell of a glowing jeweled eye in the middle of the xenos' foreheads.
These xenos vessels are utterly alien to humans and cannot be operated by one. Many of the displays require the ability to see in different spectrums and most of the equipment draws power from the warp via taps or spires dotting the hull instead of plasma genatoriums on Imperial vessels. It is surprisingly well-warded, and their equivalent Gellar Fields may be worth a salvage attempt.
However, Howlans do not operate alone. Most travel in threes, and all squadrons operate in eights.
Use Imperial weapons for damage, space, and power however halve the range for all weapons and increase the number of hits required for a critical by 1. Also, despite the Howlans' best attempts, they have not mastered yet the necessity of redundant systems. All weapons that fire at a Howlan vessel require 1 less hit to determine if it is a critical hit.
Howlan vessels suffer a -10 penalty to all Silent Running attempts and suffer 1d5 hull damage if they fail any Manoeuvrability tests.
Howlan vessels cannot fire any lance-equivalent weapons at the same time as other weaponry. Each vessel may fire only one type. They do not have access to any other types of weaponry. Yet.
Dimensions: 1.8 km long, .4 km abeam at fins
Mass: 6.8 megatons
Crew: 23,000 crew, approx.
Accel: 7.2 gravities max. sustainable acceleration
Hull Integrity: 30
Turret Rating: 1
Weapon Capacity: Prow 1, Dorsal 1, Keel 1
Appearing to be a fat, barbed arrow hurled by the void, the Howlan Raker is thick-bodied and heavily armed. It is also poorly armoured and less agile than equivalent Imperial frigates or destroyers. It's able to cram this much weaponry into its hull due to its lack of, according to some Navigators and Tech-Priests, its own warp engine. Instead it has a "sympathetic core" that allows it to attach to a larger vessel and be transported through the Empyrean. Its weapons are warp-cursed, though they approximate macrocannon batteries on the turrets and a lance weapon on the prow, with thankfully half the range of Imperial weaponry. Curiously, the Raker seems unable to power both sets of weapons at the same time, even for targets directly ahead either the prow "dark lightning" weapon fires or the warp-cursed shells erupt from the turrets.
Dimensions: 3.5 km long, .5 km abeam at fins
Mass: 12.8 megatons
Crew: 53,000 crew, approx.
Accel: 3.8 gravities max. sustainable acceleration
Hull Integrity: 40
Turret Rating: 1
Weapon Capacity: Prow 2, Dorsal 2, Keel 1
The Sunder is, unfortunately, the workhorse design of the Howlan Sway. Though it has the same limitation as the smaller Raker which attaches to the Sunder, it can fire two devastating dark lightning weapons at targets that can barely withstand one. Operating in packs, the Sunders have been seen rushing straight towards the enemy and using their dorsal and keel batteries to smash voidshields apart before almost-suicidally keeping their prow weapons on target and firing. At least on three separate occasions this continuous fire was seen to disable the Sunder and in one instance a pristine vessel was consumed in warp fire as it carved apart a Kroot Warsphere.
Dimensions: 4.9 km long, .6 km abeam at fins
Mass: 23.1 megatons
Crew: 81,000 crew, approx.
Accel: 3.2 gravities max. sustainable acceleration
Hull Integrity: 55
Turret Rating: 2
Weapon Capacity: Prow 2, Port 1, Starboard 1, Dorsal 2, Keel 1 (of these slots, 2 dorsal comes pre-equipped with components)
Howlan Breakers appear to be flagships not only for the Sway's combat squadrons but also for the teeming number of mining ships attached to it. It has two dorsal mounted launch bays which launch swarms of fighter-bombers seemingly inspired by their continuous run-ins with the Orks. It has two prow weapons, with ranges comparable to Imperial lances, and a broadside battery that spurts focused warp energies instead of light or plasma. The keel battery is home to a unique weapon, a momentum arrester that can slow down enemy voidships (or capture and steady an asteroid). Curiously, the Breaker exhibits some STC sensibilities and may be inspired by the stashes of archeotech so carelessly traded away in McGill's Wake.
Edited by Marwynn, 30 January 2014 - 01:04 PM.