Despite the appalling conditions there is no shortage of people who seek to make their home in the Underhive. The discontented, the poor, the disinherited and outcasts naturally gravitate downhive, away from the power of the Guild factories and family patriarchs. These refugees from the Hive City are sometimes called ‘green hivers’ by established downsiders.
The Badzones are a place of opportunity to impoverished but peaceable hivers who are unable or unwilling to endure the life of Hive City. With hard work tunnels can be opened up, generators and air pumps can be installed, effluent flows can be diverted and water stills erected. Slurry pits and hive dust can be coaxed to yield crops of algae, mutant fungus and nutritious slime. Over the years order can be restored and eventually an area may even be reclaimed for Hive City.
Underhive communities tend to be small affairs, a few simple holes and dens rather than entire towns. There are also some fair sized and well established settlements such as Glory Hole, Slag Town, Dust Falls and Dead End Pass.
All the larger downhive settlements are protected by tall stockades which the inhabitants raise out of the surrounding debris. Shelters and other buildings are converted from the ruins and materials scavenged from the refuse. It’s possible for a family to survive by cultivating edible fungi, algae, slime or the parasitic lichen that grows upon them. In some places settlers raise animals native to the Badzones such as rats, blood beetles, giant slugs, blind snakes and mutant dogs.
The bigger settlements have a kind of order, albeit utterly unlike the strict social codes of Hive City. There are places to trade, small workshops where equipment can be made or repaired, and people offering services to travellers. A bed for the night, a room, an annual bath, or just food and drink, all can be readily bought or bartered. The most valuable commodity of all is often information. News of ore strikes and tunnel openings are typical of the rumours that can make a man rich if he’s quick enough.