As not all asteroids are the same, not all dwarven hives are the same. Although hives almost universally share a rigid internal structure with leadership held jointly by Queens and Praetorians, the hive’s relationship to other hives and the greater system is the key defining factor in differentiating the dwarven hives. Hives tend to specialise heavily, and connections and trade are vital for their survival. Dwarves also often view Worker and Soldier dwarves as closer to a resource than a populace, and may trade population instead of resources if needed.
Six types of dwarven hive:
City-state. This hive is large enough or isolated enough to stand on its own. While it may have allies and trade agreements, it is capable of being self-sufficient, and also defending itself from potential raids by other hives. They are usually neither wealthy nor poor, and guard their isolated status carefully.
Federation. These hives have joined together as nominal equals. While member hives might provide specific things such as food, labour, or metal, all get an equal seat at the table. A common form is led by a Council populated by representative Praetorians. Federated hives are happy to receive visitors from members of the federation, but may be distrustful of others.
Imperial. One large hive, usually dominant in either resources of labour, has absorbed several others as vassals. Vassal hives are treated well so long as they accept the leadership of the dominant hive, and some smaller hives may actually petition to join in exchange for the protection offered by the dominant hive’s military.
Enclave. Not all hives connect to dwarven neighbours. Either through embargoes, hostile hives, or glitchy Gates, some hives must rely on non-dwarven connections for their survival. These hives tend to be far less xenophobic than others, and will often take on some traits from their allies. The exchange is often two ways, with the non-dwarven group being influenced by dwarven culture and mores.
Malignant. These hives are named for their growth pattern. Malignant hives seek expansion above all else, and like imperial hives, will conqueror smaller hives to achieve it. Unlike imperials, they will not keep the previous hive’s leaders, either driving them out or killing the Queen and Praetorians. Without a Queen, conquered hives will often have no choice but to work for their new masters.
Nation. These hives have achieved what all hives strive for. They are unquestionably dominant in their area, comfortably self-sufficient, and well-protected from raids and attacks. These hives are large, bigger than others and have multiple Queens and attendant Praetorians. Unlike Imperial or Federated hives, member hives do not have separate governance or identity, having long become a single super-hive. Nation hives often have a unique resource or holding that propelled them to this status, and have some of the most developed technology and culture of all hives.
Source: NEMO art
Six hive locations:
Chondrite. Primarily made of clays and silicate rocks, these hives might have less in the way of mineable resources, but are the breadbasket of the Belt. While clay is not always the best choice for agriculture, it is far more suitable than raw metal. Chondrite hives are either agrarian or heavily industrialised farms, hyper-specialised to produce food for other hives. Common dwarven produce includes mushrooms, fungus, yeasts, molds, and carbosilicate crystal.
Stony. Flexible, these hives neither produce the volume of food of a Chondrite hive, nor the material resources of a Metallic, but can do small amounts of both. While more difficult for them to gain any sort of major power or influence, their stability often lends them to be the last hive standing when conflict causes others to lose vital trade.
Metallic. Richest and most militaristic of hives, Metallic hives carve their home from nickel-iron. Most refined metals in the system come from Metallic hives, and guard this wealth well. They need it, as they are unable to produce anything more than token amounts of food locally. Often, they trade not metal, but people. Clad in armour and wielding metal claw-sheaths, the Soldiers of Metallic hives are their greatest export. High-class mercenaries, loyal to the contract and tough as dwarven fingernails, they are in high demand, particularly by the devils of the Saturn system.
Habitat. Some dwarven hives are located inside habitats. The precious Gate Keys that all hives covet do not always lead to other hives or new underground areas, but to the artificial habitats that still dot the system. These are strange and ancient places, and may have a variety of tech in various stages of functioning. Habitat hives are often young hives, grown from a once-adventurous Queen, and are small in size due to their inability to expand. However, their home habitat may offer anything from solar farms to scavenged godtech. Habitat hives are far more powerful than their size may imply.
Comet. These hives are strange, built inside the almost pure ice of drifting comets. Their ability to export water to other hives is their lifeline, and the dwarves from Comet hives are a hardy lot, used to harsh lives in cold environments that can shift and crack regularly. Comet hives are also those hives most used to dealing with breaches into the void, and have a variety of techniques to survive them.
Planet. In the ongoing striving for Gate Keys and more space, the hives that win are the Planetary hives. These hives are in an underground area on either a planet or moon, and as such have access to both almost unlimited space and a variety of resources. Planetary hives are large, strong, and metropolitan.
Source: Yaroslav Golubev