“Every Imperial port has its own special charm and appeal—Footfall’s seems to be its complete lack of either.”
— Hress Gort, Deckmaster on the Emperor’s Truth
Footfall is a massive, sprawling void port of gigantic stone asteroids bound together by ornate bridges, flexible tunnels, and chains the size of voidships, all centred around a macrostatue of the most holy God-Emperor of Mankind dozens of kilometres high. This statue, placed by Footfall’s founder, the Rogue Trader Parsimus Derwin, looks out sadly over a morass of vice, degradation, perversion, sedition, mutation, and heresy. The floating agglomeration of Footfall is situated just rimward of The Maw, transfixed in the hellish glare of the star Furibundus. Footfall is typically the first stop for those entering the Koronus Expanse and the last stop for those leaving.
First Stop Into Darkness
“Footfall is a fine place to do business and conduct trade – far from the pointless rules and needless taxes of more ‘civilised’ ports.”
— Hadarak Fel, Lord Captain of the Fel Hand
The light of Furibundus marks the far side of the Great Warp Storms and the beginning of the Koronus Expanse. It is a huge and primal stellar mass, far brighter and more energetic than any star should be. Its fires rage so fiercely that the cataclysmic energies unleashed within cause vast bulges of burning plasma to distend Furibundfus’s form, writhing as though immense beasts fight within. The outer envelope constantly tears and ripples, throwing off huge flaming masses into the near voids. Furibundus is surrounded by shells of remnant gas expanding outward, each a remnant of the star’s outermost layers. The Imperial presence around Furibundus clusters in two locations: the Adeptus Mechanicus temple of Altar-Templum-Calixis-Ext-17 and the stonework void-settlement of Footfall.
Established in 410.M41 by the Rogue Trader Parsimus Dewain, the settlement that was once called Dewain’s Footfall, and now simply Footfall, is a tethered network of hundreds of stone structures floating in the Furibundus System’s voids. It is a mass of buttressed temples and plasma-pitted fanes whose towers jut out at all angles into the void. Most are linked by enclosed stonework tunnels and arch-bridges, in addition to huge steel chains. Footfall’s ornate, tethered structures orbit at a sufficient distance from the star to be safe from the lethal ribbons of solar plasma, and for voidships to operate with little impediment. Many of Footfall’s buildings would not look out of place upon a planetary surface, while other spiral mazes and winding tunnels of unsupported stone would fall apart under the tug of gravity. Sections of Footfall have no gravity, and many have fluctuating levels of generated gravity. The few structures that have their own stable gravity generators are highly desired prizes and are fought over by the most powerful factions, changing hands over the corpses and regrets of their prior occupants with alarming regularity.
Over the centuries since its establishment, Footfall has become a lair of villainy and intrigue, the descendants of its original population of stoneworkers and Rogue Trader vassals now far outnumbered by less-reputable newcomers. Here, religious fanatics rub shoulders with assassins, spies, fugitives from Imperial justice, narco-tribesmen, rowdy crew on furlough, and a wide range of disreputable merchants. Beneath this tumult of lawlessness can be found an even more shadowy world: Hereteks, Chaos Cultists, unrestrained criminals, unsanctioned psykers, and worse. Here a thousand forms of deadly intrigue can be found, and anything from a starship to a human soul can be bartered in Footfall — for a price. It is for precisely these reasons that many great powers and factions from the Calixis Sector maintain secretive agents in Footfall: the Administratum, the Imperial Navy’s Battlefleet Calixis, the Great Houses of the Imperial nobility, the disciples of the Dark Gods, the Adeptus Ministorum…and perhaps even the Ordos of the Inquisition as well.
There is no central law on Footfall, at least not one that would be recognised in any civilised areas. Instead, the numerous criminal and piratical factions that run this wretched place have drawn up a series of laws and codes of conduct creating a neutral zone wherein visitors and residents are free to engage in their various business pursuits without the interference of the Imperium. This Derwin’s Compact, as the laws of Footfall are known, serve one purpose as stated in the preamble of their charter: “Fomenting and fostering an environment upon this station and its surrounding areas that is agreeable to the pursuit of any and all business practices for the purposes of bringing profit to the ruling parties thereof.” In this freewheeling, anything-goes environment there is very little that is considered illegal. Criminal gangs like Footfall’s Black Brotherhood and the Kasballica Mission, organisations that would surely be hunted with extreme prejudice by the Adeptus Arbites on any civilised world in the Calixis Sector, operate openly next to “respected” shipwrights, merchants, and Throne Gelt brokers. Trafficking in narcotics, humans, xenos artefacts, proscribed knowledge, and many other types of contraband that carry a death sentence elsewhere is commonplace here. Even the most respected Rogue Traders and Free Captains dabble in these dangerous pursuits to greater or lesser degree.
Since the entire sprawling edifice is carved into different areas of influence under control of one or another of the numerous ruling factions, order, such as it is, is kept by roving gangs of household Enforcers and hired thugs. For the uninitiated, navigating the complex and ever shifting net of allegiances, tithes, bribes, and obeisance required to survive daily life on Footfall can be quite daunting, and those that are foolish and inattentive can lose more than their purse here. Technically, Footfall is “ruled” by the Liege of Footfall, currently an easily-bribed individual completely lacking in ambition named Tanthus Moross. Moross has remained in his role longer than most, due mainly to the fact that he has no desires to control Footfall. Instead, he is perfectly willing to play the figurehead, in exchange for plentiful bribes.
However, there is an older law, held almost sacrosanct by the powers of Footfall. Whenever a Rogue Trader visits Footfall, he rules the station. Should several visit at once, the most senior Rogue Trader (a nebulous definition, to be sure) rules the station. While Rogue Traders seldom show any interest in actually ruling there, this position of authority (enforced by the raw power of their starship and plentiful armsmen) usually ensures no fool disrupts Footfall’s carefully balanced society by messing with them. The Liege foolish enough to ignore this takes his life in his hands. In 500.M41 the Liege Tarn Marvolus united an alliance of criminals, witches, and narco-tribesmen, and ruled Footfall with an iron fist. However, when Marvolus demanded the Rogue Trader Cassilus pay tribute to dock, she ensured the four quarters of his body were found at the four furthest points of Footfall. Likewise, however, a Rogue Trader who goes too far in upsetting the status quo may well find themselves opposed — not only by the powers of Footfall, but also their fellow Rogue Traders. As stated before, there is little that is considered illegal by the ruling powers on Footfall. There is, however, one cardinal sin here, the act of which brooks no quarter from the locals, and that is the act of hindering business.
Kept deliberately vague to allow incredible flexibility in its prosecution, hindering business can be anything from snooping about or investigating criminal activity to pressing too many voidmen from the shipyards to murdering a high-level crime boss. Anyone accused of hindering business is permanently banished from Footfall and the entire Furibundus System. Those foolish enough to return and who are caught are rarely heard from again, their corpses often turning up mutilated in the Boneyard, Footfall’s midden. There are, however, fates worse than a quick execution in one of the abandoned warehouses on Footfall, and rumours abound of “obstructionists,” as those convicted of hindering business are called, being sold to Chaos Reavers as slaves for their vast pirate fleets or handed over to covens of accursed witches for their amusement. Of course, the more powerful the Rogue Trader involved, the more he can get away with. No merchant factor or Liege would be foolish enough to try and banish an individual such as Calligos Winterscale, for example.
“Everything has a price in Footfall, but if you have to ask you probably can’t afford it.”
— Wesla Graves, Curiosopher and Merchanteer
Footfall is an irregular growth of towers, domes and docking gantries that hangs in the void like a lump of jagged stone. From its founding, Footfall has grown by the unplanned accumulation of structures built by the various groups and cults that have made it their home. As further structures are grafted on, the previous structures may be partially rebuilt or repurposed and so the internal and external layout of Footfall shifts and changes with the decades. Some structures have endured for long enough that they remain firm features that define this strange place even as Footfall grows and changes, and the means by which irregular visitors may gain some sense of permanence between visits.
Pit of Voices
Claimed by the outcast Astropaths of Footfall, the exterior structure of the Pit of Voices looks as much like a collapsed dome as anything else. The interior is a steep tiered arena and maze of cells beneath, gravity plated at an unsettling angle, and set with gargoyles pillaged from the frozen exterior stonework. Incense burns constantly, and a litter of occult devices is strewn about the floors.
The waste of Footfall — along with quite a few unlucky murder victims — all end up in the Boneyard, an open, frozen midden in the void beyond the structures. The Bonepickers of Footfall, clad in paltry or improvised voidsuits, pick through the debris and corpses in search of what little value remains. Useless waste is propelled away from Footfall by human effort, drifting slowly to pass through the weak Void Shields and away into Furibundus’ burning embrace.
Chapel of the Third Congregants
The Chapel of the Third Congregants is an imposing, void-pitted structure of spreading bastions and leering gargoyles that floats unconnected to the rest of Footfall. Within, every surface is crowded with statues, sepulchres, and saints’ shrines. Worshippers come and go in a procession of gigs, cramped passenger craft that are little more than a seal-gate and gas expeller for propulsion.
The largest hab-structures in Footfall look like ornate temples, their crenelated exteriors encrusted with crystal mosaics of Imperial Saints and grimacing gargoyles. Open spaces within are divided haphazardly by cloth and metalwork, uncounted masses packed close in an ever-changing three-dimensional maze. Here are the poor, the menials, and the lesser outcast factions.
One of the oldest structures in Footfall, these regal transepts and pillared, ornate halls are where the Liege of Footfall receives those of sufficient importance to warrant a formal welcome. The Liege’s throne is beauteous alabaster, an ancient masterwork engraved with a hundred scenes of the God-Emperor’s victories, said to have been looted from the wreck of a warship during a long-ago war, and equipped with embedded field generators to shield its delicate surface.
Macrostatue of the God-Emperor
The stern visage of the God-Emperor of Mankind watches over Footfall. His vast statue floats at the very centre of the community, close to the size of the greatest vessel of Battlefleet Calixis, linked to twenty structures by massive void-steel chains. The statue and its plinth are hollowed with chambers, but no-one dares dwell within. The macrostatue is a point of pilgrimage for the faithful who yearn to see the God-Emperor stare out across unclaimed voids that will one day be His.
A monolithic slab without decoration, the Red Schola is the slave-hold of the Tutors, a cabal of mysterious slave masters who have made Footfall their base of operations. Within their sealed edifice, the Tutors create slave servants using a variety of cruel and esoteric methods: noetic induction, the breaking of self, torture, ritual branding and hypno-conditioning. Few know what horrors lie behind its void-steel portals, but few who can afford them question the quality of the slaves produced by the Red Schola. Whether one requires a delicate courtesan assassin sculpted in the image of an Imperial Saint or a cohort of mute, slab-muscled stranglers, the Red Schola can provide.
The Void Shields that protect Footfall are projected from three Shield Shrines. Each is a cubic, metal Machine Temple marked with the raised cog of the Adeptus Mechanicus upon each face and linked to Footfall by a coiling umbilical passage. The Shrines are well-defended inside and out by Servitor-crewed weapon systems.
Spire of Intoxicants
The Spire is the only location in Footfall where narco-tribe gangers are willing to trade their drugs and allow outsiders to participate in their rituals. It is a trade-space, laden with chemical fumes and strange artefacts, some carried from the far reaches of the Koronus Expanse and given to the narco-tribesmen in payment.
Considered accursed by many, the Xenosium is a dwelling place intended for the alien. Great upheaval attended the construction of the Xenosium, built at the order of Parsimus Dewain near the end of his life. It is made in the fashion of a prison-fortress — thick-walled and psy-warded. Void-weathered statues with stern faces look inwards at each corner. Often it is said that no human has set foot inside for centuries, but on several occasions, Rogue Traders have brought xenos representatives to Footfall — sentient alien beings, not the beast-traffic intended for circuses and xenosepts — and housed them within the Xenosium. No one seems certain whether or not the Xenosium is presently empty.
Read more at: http://warhammer40k.wikia.com/wiki/Footfall
Please keep in mind that much of what is here may be information that your character doesn’t or shouldn’t know quite yet. Please refrain from breaking character.