Above the wall in the Hive City proper, life is very different. Each dome is ruled over by an established House, whose word is law within their territory. These are fairly numerous, though only 6 of the several dozen Houses are of any real consequence, these being House Orlock, House Van Saar, House Goliath, House Escher, House Cawdor and House Delaque.
When they descend from Uphive into the hell of Hive Bottom, most settlers remain true to their House's Stereotypical image, to give them a sense of identity and unity. Some do not, particularly those whose relocation was less than voluntary.
House OrlockMost of the territory House Orlock holds is in the upper part of the Hive City, in the prosperous spire districts where tall towers emerge from the Hives' skin and pierce the sky. Up here, there is a lot of demand for consumer goods and the numerous, long highways create a market for fast vehicles. These things the workers of House Orlock make and possess in abundance. Perhaps because of this and the relatively large amount of free time they have compared to other houses, young Orlocks are brash and self confident, with money to spare. They race each other along raised highways and kill each other in alcohol-fuelled knife fights over women or "honour". More than occasionally they are exiled below the wall for their ill discipline, but that seems little deterrent.
Below The Wall, these rowdy troublemakers remain as boisterous as ever. Though they are forced to be more responsible by the harsh reality of life in No-Mans Land, their bravado remains high and those able to run with a gang are terrors who perform acts of almost insane bravery simply for the thrill of it, prefering to deal with their foes as close to as possible.
House Van SaarThe rule of House Van Saar is generally beneficial to its subjects, but can be stifling. Van Saars work longer and harder than other Houses, producing the finely crafted examples of precision military engineering that the House is famous for and, though well rewarded in credits have little to do with themselves outside of their workplaces. The life of rigid discipline and respect for your elders can be hard to take, especially when everybody is older than you and so young Van Saars can and do go off the rails.
Rebellion is not tolerated by the stern Van Saar leadership and many have been sent below for seemingly trivial matters, along with their whole family in some cases. Most Van Saars found beneath The Wall, however, are willing settlers seeking something more than the daily grind and remain strongly loyal to the ideals of their feudal masters.
House GoliathHouse Goliath is concentrated most strongly around the heart of the Hive city. This gives them control of most of the geothermal power stations (fuelled by heat from the planets core rising up the Hives' hollow centre). They use this advantage to cheaply run heavy industry such as smelting works and foundries, making for a tough, resilient people: Goliaths are Big. Masculine traits, like strength and physical endurance are valued highly in their territory and so it is unsurprising that House Goliath has had trouble in the past with House Escher where the situation is reversed.
Virtually all Goliaths in the Underhive chose to be there. The rugged and physical nature of life appeals greatly to them, and it is not uncommon for older Goliaths to retire there. There are those who have been forced out as Goliaths make unruly subjects, but the tolerance that such behaviour is shown keeps these people rare.
House CawdorLife under the rule of House Cawdor is deliberately hard. The rulers of the House are devotees to the Cult of The Redeemer Emperor and view comfort and ease as a terrible sin. To them, hardship and suffering are the proper way to live and they enforce this view upon their subjects without mercy. They actively encourage their people to start a new life down below, to bring the True Word to the sinners and mutants to be found there and many heed this call. Few Cawdor gangsters are fugitives: rebels and troublemakers are simply killed out of hand, often in an extremely brutal fashion as an example to all who would oppose the will of the Great Redeemer.
House EscherThe most remarkable thing about House Escher is the position of women in their society. Throughout the Imperium, men and women have well defined areas of endeavour and do not cross over into each other's territory. However, long ago in House Escher's past their leadership was struck low by a deadly illness which killed almost all of their menfolk but left women untouched. Forced by circumstance to take over, they decided they liked this position much better and refused to leave when the epidemic was over. The house has been dominated by it's women ever since, from the top to the bottom which has in recent years lead to great friction with the neighbouring territories of House Goliath and even to outright war.
Escher gangs are made up of an equal mix of exiled troublemakers, crusading feminists and the less obvious men of house Escher, fleeing retribution for their rebellion against the Matriarchy or simply the perceived oppression they live under above the wall.
House DelaqueHouse Delaque is the smallest of the big 6 in terms of territory, but they have influence much greater than their military might suggests. They control facilities for chemical and electronic engineering, fields that no other house truly comprehends and the mystique only adds to the air of cold-blooded superiority instilled in them by their intensely scientific culture. This detachment and their effortless competence at subterfuge and deceit make them far from unarmed in any battle of wits.
Within the house, however, factions constantly plot and scheme against each other beneath a mask of polite and formal etiquette. The losers of these "games" will often be forced below The Wall, exiled or simply fleeing their rival's vengance. Here, they find their ability to make connections extremely useful and often become succesful black marketeers or bounty hunters.