Thursday, March 23, 2017

Jornath: Guffmans-Platz


Location: Guffmans Platz, Kula Province
Country: Manfredi-At-Prima.
Province: Kula Province

Population: 350,000

Guffmans Platz is a large city in the northern reaches of Kula Province, to the Northwest of Kula Hive, and at the base of the mountain range that makes up the Usamljen Heights. It is known for the Mag-Rail hub that rests in the heart of the city, and for its colorful buildings.   During the Battle for Jornath, Guffmans Platz served as the operations base for the head of the 1st Army Group.

History: Guffmans Platz was founded in its precursory state only a few centuries after human settlement on Jornath began. Guffmans Platz at this point was little more than a way-station between the terraforming centers in Usamiljen, and the coal mines, habitation centers, and spaceport which could be found in the lowlands where the weather was nicer, and the ground more fertile than in the craggy mountains. As time marched on, the dirt roads that were ground into the foothills by the settlers, would turn into dedicated lines of transportation for trolleys, and automotive mass transport along a few paved highways. Guffmans Platz grew right alongside the infrastructure of the rest of the planet, with more men and women coming and going along fixed lines of travel, the tiny pre-fab rest station for a few hundred, would turn into a village, and then a town as workers spent their money in its many bars, restaurants, and theatres. By the time the Great Crusade came to Jornath, Guffmans Platz had reached a respectable position of authority within the region, but had not yet evolved into the form that we recognize during the Battle for Jornath.   Like the rest of the planet, Guffmans Platz was helped by the introduction of extra-planetary architects, builders, merchants and artisans. The Imperial engineers and tech-priests set to work updating the planets logistics and transport systems as a chief priority, not for the particular benefit of Guffmans Platz, nor indeed even for the Planet, though both would obviously benefit. In fact, Imperial assessors, determined the total productivity of the planet was being kept down by nearly 30% due in large part to out-dated  transportation lines.
With the introduction of Mag-Lev Train networks, Guffmans-Platz experienced an economic explosion, the speed and efficiency of trans-national transportation, allowed citizens of distant nations and towns to visit areas that previously would have taken days or even weeks to get too. Guffmans-Platz would finally get its name in these days, just before the Horus Heresy. Thanks in no small part to the Gruffnen Family, particularly the sisters Veronica and Sophie Gruffnen, whose shrewd dealings at the very inception of the Northern Mag-Lev lines allowed them to gain a healthy earning by building an entertainment empire, centered around painting the city as a center of culture.
By consolidating the menu’s at numerous restaurants to mostly serve variations on a spiced muggulu trout, the “workmens stew” and hard dough breads;  By commissioning nearly twenty-five artists to all make similar vibrant landscape paintings of the Ctre Valley, the city and of the Usamljen Heights, and By using brightly colored mineral spirits in the manufacturing of roof tiles. All these things allowed the Gruffnen sisters to craft an elaborate (and highly lucrative) lie about culture and society in the Usamljen heights.  
When Horus turned from the Emperor's’ light, Guffmans-Platz had become a booming transportation hub and resort city. The civil war affected Guffmans-Platz in strange ways,  In the hives, short and intense street fighting erupted, but outside the key civic centers, the Horus Heresy on Jornath was typified by cohorts posturing on ground owned by their respective family ties. This posturing manifested itself in Guffmans-Platz with armed cohorts of men arriving on Mag-lev trains, and taking hold of whatever their favorite local pub, or inn happened to be. This made for a few tense weeks, where drunken brawls, the occasional las or autogun burst in the air, and angry shouting typified the normally jovial street fare.  In their estate several kilometers away from the city, the Gruffnen family, sat nervously watching the town they had spent a lifetime building sit on the verge of anarchy.   To quell the situation Sophie Gruffnen, now in her late 130’s brought a unit of 25 retainers and 30 mustermann from a local building supplies depot, and went to town to talk down the situation. Sophie was a supporter of the warmaster, in her mind the astartes gave her the ability to make her fortune, but she was an open minded and amicable person, certainly not willing to turn her “lovely little town” into a warzone. When Sophie and her entourage arrived in the heart of the city, she called an audience between the various commanders of the two dozen armed groups inhabiting the town to meet her at the Violet Pearl Teahouse.  Within two hours, the “Teahouse Accords” had been signed, which officially aligned the city as neutral ground until such time as order was restored to the planetary government.  
After Imperial forces regained control of the planet, the Teahouse Accords simply rolled the city into the hands of the Imperium. Not much more was said by anyone anywhere, this sort of flip-flopping was not particularly uncommon, during the Heresy on Jornath.  But the towns that sat neutral in this period would carry a silent stigma after the adoption of the Cult Imperialis as a state religion which made resisting the Emperor a threat not only to the political safety of Humanity, but also to its spiritual security. These neutral towns were often seen as not entirely faithful, its population not quite as dedicated to the Imperium as they ought to be.  During the regime of Goge Vandire as Master of the Administratum this state of suspicion and doubt would prove particularly dangerous.  While Jornath rests in the Eastern Fringe far from Terra, it sits just outside the systems of “Imperium Secundus”  protected from the autocrats insane bloodshed by the Ultramarines. Enraged at his inability to directly enforce his will in this part of the galaxy, Vandire deployed his agents to the neighboring Sub-Sectors auspiciously to ensure that the fringe was truly loyal, but in reality to goad his power over the Sons of Guilliman.  
Two ships arrived in Orbit above Jornath, one was a Lunar Class Cruiser from Battlefleet Solar,  and the Other a Carrack Class Transport , belonging to the Opus Intrinsecus (A Special division of the Sub-Sector’s Battlefleet, mandated to pursue matters of Interior Loyalty).   The men aboard came to prosecute the bloodthirsty will of Vandire. They announced an audit of the planetary loyalty, a purge by any other name of the planets Administration. Finger pointing, in-fighting and general panic gripped the planet as tensions that were never fully healed after the Heresy centuries before were exploited to prove a family's loyalty.  Militias accompanied by Opus Intrinsecus officers roved the countryside conducting ad hoc trials and executions of suspected Heretics or dissidents. In Gruffmans-Platz this would result in the massacre of dozens of artisans, architects and store owners, who were accused by rivals in neighboring towns of sedition and heresy, pointing to the lack of religious motifs present in the artistic works, and cultural identity of Guffmans-Platz,  which didn’t even have a cathedral to the Emperor at this point. The Opus Intrinsecus Officers in many cases barely gave pause to analyze who they were killing or to consider the cause of so many accusations,  they had been given a directive by both the Ecclessiarchy and the Master of the Administratum, to prosecute the divine will of the emperor by collecting a quota of dead heretics. Many of these men and women were skimmed off worlds close to the Sector Capital and renowned for their religious ardour or loyalty to the administratum. To them what they were setting about doing was akin to a crusade,  they hoped to usher in a shining light to the outer edges of mankind’s dominion. On Jornath, all these off-worlders would accomplish by the time they had departed was to fill nearly a million graves, and instigate several more years of particularly bitter civil war and revenge killings.

When The War for Jornath began with the Ork crash landings in the estuaries outside Kula Hive, and into the northern mountain ranges, Guffmans-Platz found itself the first major town in the path of the northern xenos groupings. It was ill-prepared, historically centered around art and high culture it lacked the marital background it would need to see-off the orks, distrustful of both off-worlders and its immediately neighbors in the extreme, there was talk among the civic leaders of the town to simply evacuate and allow the Ork warbands to pass through the city. After the Battle of Usamiljen Heights and upon hearing the reports of widespread looting and massacres in the mountains by the Xenos, the leading families and mayor of Guffmans-Platz determined to establish what defenses they could. The creation of The Guffmans-Platz Cohort was a curious thing, as the unit was comprised of about a dozen smaller cohorts and muster squads from lower level families.  The wealthy aristocracy of northern Kula province were extremely hesitant to commit their own retinues, and expensively equipped troops to battle a new and frankly terrifying opponent, thus they positioned themselves and their forces in “defensive positions”  conveniently around their own holdings,  while the more poorly equipped and supplied families, were forced to bankroll the recruitment of soldiers and supplies to defend the Ctre Valley, which was the agri-complex through which the primary automotive highway ran through into the mountains and was consequently the most likely location for Ork forays into the foothills.  At the head of this defense and in command of the Guffmans-Platz Cohort in general was Jarl Kendrev Mondix, the second-born son of the ill-fortuned Mondix family. It was Mondix’s determination and actual willingness to share information with commanders from other families that would make him a hero, and ultimately save Guffmans-Platz in the Early War.   In the Battle of the Ctre Valley, Mondix’s forces were tested for the first time,  against a sizeable force of Blood Axe’s from numerous different warbands. It was a brutal affair seeing thousands of Imperial soldiers killed or wounded, but ultimately the Ork assault was beaten back.
After the Battle of the Ctre Valley,  Supreme Armsmaster Vazinas and members of the Jornathii Advisory Battalion (A contingent of junior officers from the Ultramar Defense Forces) took notice of the northern front.  The situation in the Kulan Heartland had stabilized at this point, due in large part to a fortunate clerical error in troop displacement from Sector command. Bolstered by their containment of the larger xenos mass in the south, planetary headquarters drafted the first major offensive operation of the war, named Operation Remits Maw. This offensive would see the Guffmans-Platz cohort in conjunction with armored elements loaned from the St. Yeltsville Cohort’s,  2nd Mechanized Agri-Muster. Advance along a single line march, into the mountains headed for the Valeri-Pesch Ore Refinery complex,  and then the Northern Ork crash site. The Orks in the north were expected to provide only cursory resistance, many of the warbands having fractured through the mountains after the crash and subsequent Battle of Usamiljen Heights. The largest fault in the Operation would be that theatre commanders never personally inspected the Cohorts they were sending into the fight,  relying on the reports of high ranking nobility with troops in the cohort.  Of course these wealthy members of society, wanting to bathe in the success of the Cohort in the Ctre, reported the combat readiness of the unit to be much higher than was really true.  When the Offensive finally got underway, almost a quarter of the Cohort was still in hospital or had never been replenished, the units had never drilled with large armored formations especially not in the confines of steep mountain roads or villages,  nor had many of the forces ever conducted a war on this scale.   All these factors lead to the Guffmans-Platz cohort fracturing in the highlands, as coordination broke down, under constant ambushes from greenskin warbands.  It was clear in short order that a grievous error had been made on multiple levels, and an immediate retreat was ordered.
The disaster would play out over 2 full weeks, intelligence suggesting the scattered nature of the Ork forces proved to be accurate, but inefficient coordination of assets coupled with an expectation that Xenos forces would rush straight at the guns rather than set ambushes, lead to units being surrounded on a company level,  with more greenskins rushing to the fight every day.  The guardsmen found they could not easily break out as a result, most pockets lacked the manpower to fight their way south on their own, but almost all of these groups were surrounded by Ork warriors who grew in number every day.  Through the intervention of the Adeptus Astartes,  as well as Jornath Planetary Special Forces, Orks were drawn off the beleaguered units in many places, allowing for a ragged withdraw to H-906 (aka. Fort Behras) to the south-east of the original axis of advance.

After the disastrous offensive,  The Guffmans-Platz cohort was mauled, to only 45% of its starting strength a few months before. Almost all of its junior and senior officers were killed, and it had lost nearly 150 vehicles. Leaders on a regional level descended to finger pointing and blamed on another for the failure of the attack, and angry sometimes violent discussions about the next plan rumbled across command centers throughout the North.  Eventually planetary command itself had to step-in to descalate the situation,  it declared the creation of the 1st Army Group-Jornath which combined multiple civic cohorts (units about the same size and composition as the Guffmans-Platz Cohort)  into a single larger asset, under the command of the newly promoted Armsmaster Mondix, folding over the badly damaged Guffmans-Platz cohort into other fresh formations, then placing all those units under the capable hands of a proven local commander.AG-1 placed its headquarters in Guffmans-Platz,  for two reasons,  psychologically it stated to the common soldier that the art and culture of the planet was worth fighting for, and more tactically the cities transit hub could be utilized to quickly move supplies and troops across the north,  the best way to administrate the deployment of forces in this way, would be to actually be in the city.

Geography. The city of Guffmans-Platz covers 140 square miles of foothill country just south of the glacial valleys in the Usamiljen Mountains, which border the city to the north and east. The mountains act as a natural buffer zone for weather fronts coming from the warmer southern regions, which means that the area receives high levels of precipitation year round.  The freshwater run-off out of the mountains,  along with this heavy rainfall and temperate climate make many of the valleys to the north of the city perfect for farming.  Thick old-growth forests of evergreen and fur trees rest in the south west of the city, which serves as a beautiful wildlife preserve and hunting ground. The average temperature is a cool 8 degrees celsius.  

Military: As mentioned previously the pacifist nature of the city's history means a dedicated civic militia was founded only out of absolute necessity to defend against Xenos, during the War for Jornath. What military forces the city did have, are units of family bodyguards (often referred to as Huscarls),  which are usually armed with a variety stub weapons like the locally produced Saers SR-10,  which are weapons capable of semi-automatic fire of stub rounds 7.86mm in diameter. The choice of the SR-10 comes from the cheap cost of the weapon, produced by non-mechanicus industry from Jornathii Iron, the option to equip a unit with weapons of solid penetrating power for low cost usually too powerful an allure for most families looking for some muscle to parade around to show their wealth. While occasionally these families have enough troops under their direction to justify the hefty cost of purchasing weapons off-world, lasguns or even specialist weapons are often of such immense social status to the bearer that most men opt not to bring them into the field, choosing one of the dozens of Jornathii Autoguns, Stub-Rifles or if they have enough income to afford maintenance, a specialist weapon such as a Larter & Puckett PATC-4,  (propelled anti-tank charge).  The body armor and equipment are as well subject to the whims of the unit’s benefactors, most often use thick vests or coats made of ballistic resistant material with civilian hats, bags, or hunting equipment.  This gives the Regiments a rag-tag eclectic appearance, often displaying family heraldry in bright colors along with, feathers, badges or flowers as unit markings.   

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