In the 40k universe, the average human lives a pretty harsh life. Between the constant threats from alien races and the fact that most worlds are harsh, industrial crypts that are over populated, death is always lurking in the shadows. However, on some planets the dangers are closer to home; literally right outside the front door. On these planets the natural environment is so dangerous that human settlement on a planet-wide scale is almost impossible. These are known in the Imperium as Death Worlds.
Most death worlds fall into two categories. The first being where the majority of the landscape is covered in carnivorous plants and animals that are large enough to prey on humans. The second are wastelands made up of volcanic landscapes, toxic atmospheres, terrible ion storms or, in some cases, a combination of all three. It is noted by Imperial Scholars that many of the deadly creatures found on these death worlds have similar traits to creatures found in Tyranid swarms. Based on these observations, there are many in the Imperium that believe these planets were once “harvested” by the Tyranids. The creatures are what is left behind once the greater hive fleet has moved on. Being separated from the Hive Mind, these creatures revert to a feral state.
Because of the above dangers, human settlement on a planet-wide scale is rarely attempted and most of these planets are left alone. However, some of these planets have significant value to the Imperium, either through strategic placement or valuable resources. In these cases, humans do try to carve out an harsh existence on those worlds. The humans who live in these settlements must be particularly hardy to survive. Their lives are a a series of regimented tasks, with each individual being a cog in a machine designed to keep the entire group going. No effort or action is wasted and each individual recognizes that duty to the group is greater than individual need.
These traits tend to mean the humans from these settlements make great additions to the combat forces of the Astra Militarium and are some of the fiercest fighters. Catachan Warriors and the soldiers that make up the Death Korps Of Kreig are two prominent examples. In their minds, the humans on theses planets sacrifice for the betterment of all of the Imperium. Their sense of duty and sacrifice is fundamental to part they play in keeping the great machine of the Imperium working.
I hope you have enjoyed this article from the Lore Librarium. In the next installment we will again delve deeper into some of the lore found in the Unforgiven warpack.