Inquisition symbolThe Inquisition (The Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition) is a secret organisation that exists outside the standard administrative hierarchy of the Imperium of Man. A shadowy organisation that exists to defend the Imperium from those that would bring the civilisation of man to it’s knees.

The Daemons from beyond, the Aliens without and the Heretics within. These are the three enemies all Imperial citizens are taught to fear, but it is the Inquisition’s job to root out these malicious threats before their cancerous taint can spread.

In order to deal with these enemies effectively, Inquisitors are given free reign to accomplish their missions and pursue their foes as they see fit. Free from the rigid feudal hierarchy that dominates the Imperium, Inquisitors answer only to the Emperor himself. They can requisition anything they might need from a holy boltgun to military assistance right up to the Battlefleets of the Imperial Navy. Sometimes when a planet has grown so tainted that there is no chance of reclaiming the souls of the citizenry left there, an Inquisitor might call an Exterminatus- destroying the entire planet itself and denying the enemy it’s victory.

There are millions of planets in the Imperium and almost as many organisations and branches of the Administratum and the Inquisition is vast and sprawling as a result. Having such a large body of free-roaming agents is not without it’s problems however and a large amount of the Inquisition’s time is spent investigating other Inquisitors who have gone rogue (or just in order to pursue personal feuds).

The Inquisition acts as the secret police force of the Imperium, hunting down any and all of the myriad threats to the stability of the God-Emperor’s realm, from the corruption caused by the Forces of Chaos, heretics, mutants and rebels, to assaults from vicious alien species like the Tyranids, Orks or Dark Eldar.

The Inquisition’s infamous sigil was derived from the personal heraldry of Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy and the second most powerful psyker in the Imperium of Man after the Emperor of Mankind himself. It was Malcador who first created the secret organisation that would later become the varied Ordos of the Inquisition at the start of the Heresy on the orders of the Emperor. The Master of Mankind had ordered the Sigillite to find a group of men and women of an “inquisitive nature” to search out the enemies of the Imperium, whether they lay within or without.

Ordos Majoris

the Inquisition is divided into a series of organisations known as Ordos. Each Ordo is responsible for assessing and combating a threat to humanity. There are three major Ordos devoted to combating threats Within, Without, and Beyond.

Ordo malleus inquisitorOrdo Malleus – Known as the Daemonhunters, or the Order of the Hammer, the Ordo Malleus are sworn to defend the very soul of Mankind, concentrating on the defeat of those enemies of Humanity that dwell in the warp; the so-called “enemy beyond.” They primarily concern themselves with destroying Daemons and other servants of Chaos. The Chamber Militant of the Ordo Malleus is the elite Grey Knights Space Marines Chapter.

Ordo xenos inquisitor
Ordo Xenos – Also known as the Alien Hunters, or the Order of the Aliens, the Ordo Xenos are dedicated to the defeat of the Xenos threat; the enemy without. They actively seek out and eliminate alien influence and corruption within the Imperium. The Ordo Xenos’ Chamber Militant are the Veteran Space Marines of the Deathwatch, who usually operate in small units known as Kill-teams. The Deathwatch are not a true Adeptus Astartes Chapter; instead their ranks are filled from Space Marines seconded from other Chapters who remain as part of the Kill-team for several years before returning to their home Chapter.

Ordo hereticus inquisitor
Ordo Hereticus – This Ordo is also known as the Witch Hunters, or the Order of the Heretics. The Ordo Hereticus is the scourge of the traitor, the witch, Mutants, rogue Psykers and heretics. The interests of its members are aligned towards the combating of threats broadly classified as arising from within the great bulk of Humanity; the so-called “enemy within.” The Ordo Hereticus’ Chamber Militant are the Sisters of Battle, the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas.

It should also be noted that there are some freelance Inquisitors-at-large who are not part of one specific branch of the Inquisition. There are also several minor Ordos that have more specific purposes than those outlined above.

Ordos Minoris

There are several smaller Ordos within the Inquisition each with much smaller spheres of influence.

Ordo Sicarius
Ordo Chronos

The Role of the Inquisition

The Inquisition is immensely powerful, and the only individual that is exempt from its scrutiny is the Emperor himself. If he has good cause, an Inquisitor may demand any service from any Imperial citizen, up to and including the High Lords of Terra. The Adeptus Custodes who guard the Emperor’s palace and person are exempt from conscription, because their duty to the Emperor is clear and unchanging.

Inquisitiorial retinue

When it comes to the Adeptus Astartes, Inquisitors often show some discretion, as Space Marine Chapters are often willing to come to blood over any infringement on their Emperor-granted autonomy. However, not even the Adeptus Astartes are immune from the Inquisition’s scrutiny and justice, and entire worlds have been destroyed in order to cleanse them if they were deemed traitorous.

Inquisitors also have absolute power to judge and execute supposed heretics, mutants, unsanctioned or rogue Psykers and the like, with no appeal save the intervention of another Inquisitor. Practically, all possible verdicts are death sentences, although the means by which they are achieved differ. Traitors, the worst grade of offenders, are considered irredeemable and will be quickly executed. Heretics may be redeemed, often after considerable amounts of torture, and may receive absolution through death in service to the Imperium. This service may consist of arco-flagellation, conscription into Imperial armies, becoming the operator of one of the Adeptus Ministorum’s Penitent Engines or, in the case of penitent psykers, being sent to Holy Terra to become new psychic fuel for the Golden Throne. Heresy

Certain traitors deemed useful to the Inquisition may in extremely rare cases be mind-scrubbed, their old memories and identity erased and replaced with one loyal to the Inquisition. If it is beyond their means to track down and kill a particular individual or organization, an Inquisitor can simply declare the offending entity ‘Excommunicate Traitoris’, stripping them of whatever rights they may have had and as such marking them as a target fit for extermination by any and all loyal servants of the Emperor.

If the Inquisitor deems it necessary he or she can attach an official stigma to a dangerous heretic, Traitor or alien race. Each of the major Ordos has a different official stigma which pertains to their primary enemies. These stigmata include the Extremis Diabolis for the Ordo Malleus, the Xenos Horrificus for the Ordo Xenos and the Hereticus Abomini for the Ordo Hereticus.

The Inquisition will also use its delegated power from the High Lords of Terra to declare “tainted” Space Marine Chapters or other Renegade Imperial military units or individuals Excommunicate Traitoris. The Chapter or other unit will then usually be hunted down by the Grey Knights or the Sisters of Battle, usually resulting in the Chapter fleeing to the Eye of Terror or the Maelstrom (if it has not already done so). The Soul Drinkers Chapter is an exception, as they still believe themselves to be loyal servants of the Emperor, and continue to defend the Imperium, even though they are no longer part of it.

Young Psykers who have not worked against the Imperium or used their powers much will usually be repeatedly tested, and if they are young, strong and pious enough, may be taken in by the Black Ships of the Inquisition to become a Sanctioned Psyker or even an Inquisitor. The requirements are strict and many will be found wanting. Those that fail the Inquisition’s tests will either be executed or used to power the vast psychic beacon of the Astronomican, their lives sacrificed for the ultimate good of Mankind to sustain the Golden Throne which keeps the Emperor alive.

If a world is the subject of extreme corruption by Chaos, an Inquisitor may call down the verdict of Exterminatus, destroying all ecosystems on the planet and rendering the world completely lifeless. Many question the necessity of such acts, but the Inquisition feels fully justified in performing them. They feel that it is better for countless servants of the Emperor to be sacrificed than to let a single heretic escape their wrath to endanger more lives. Typically, though, such an act is reserved for only the most extreme cases, such as a massive outbreak of Chaos activity that threatens to corrupt other worlds or unchecked infiltration by Genestealer Cults that precede (or can cause) a Tyranid invasion that will consume an entire sector.


The Inquisition does not have a formal organisation and is, at the most fundamental level, dependent upon the authority and skill of the single Inquisitor and his team of Acolytes and Throne Agents. Every Inquisitor embodies the whole Inquisition and is granted the same absolute power by virtue of the Inquisitorial Mandate. As the word of an Inquisitor is absolute and beyond reproach, except by other Inquisitors, the Inquisition is self-policing.

At one time it was said that the Ordo Malleus was responsible for policing the Inquisition, however this idea seems to have been abandoned and there are now those within each of the Ordos who focus their time in purging the Inquisition of rogue elements; the Ordo Hereticus is particularly noted for having members who keep a close eye on fellow members of the Inquisition.

Despite the lack of a formal organisational structure, there are many types of Inquisitorial groupings that an Inquisitor may belong to, however membership within these is not mandatory. For example, an Inquisitor may choose not to join an Ordo, however by not doing so he will be unable to access their resources. Similarly, an Inquisitor is expected to announce his presence to the head of the Conclave overseeing the sector or region of the galaxy in which he operates, however many Inquisitors prefer to work in secret.

Conclave meetingConclaves – Inquisitorial Conclaves can be split into two rough groups. The first are Conclaves called by an Inquisitor (or High Conclaves called by an Inquisitor Lord); these are gatherings called to discuss a particular subject. There are also more permanent regional Conclaves; these are federations of Inquisitors who watch over a particular area or sector of Imperial space. The larger of these regional Conclaves may have resources such as starships, armies, fortresses and libraries for the use of their members. Not all sectors of Imperial space are covered by a Conclave, and some areas are devoid of a permanent Inquisitorial presence. The head of each regional Conclave is normally an Inquisitor Lord, and is nominally appointed by the High Lords of Terra. There are also Conclaves operating at the Segmentum level, again headed by an Inquisitor Lord.

The Calixian Conclave monitors the Calixis Sector. It’s base of operations is the Tri-corn Palace on Scintilla.

Cabals – A Cabal is a rare body instituted by a Conclave and dedicated to investigating a particular matter. They form a specialist task-force charged with the prosecution of a particular concern. Generally they gather Inquisitors from varied backgrounds and philosophies, all working together via their differing methods and focused on a single goal. All too often, Cabals are despised by many who see them as secret societies within a Conclave.

Factions – The various Inquisitorial factions are groups of Inquisitors who share the same philosophical proclivities concerning the future direction of the Imperium. Factions can be divided into two rough groups, Puritans and Radicals.

Puritan factions include the Monodominants, Amalathians and Thorians who tend to uphold the letter of Imperial law and the dictates of the Emperor, with no room for reinterpretation.

Radical factions, such as the Xanthites, Recongregators and Istvaanians, feel they are free to enforce the spirit and intent of the Emperor’s judgements, and for them the end really does justify the means.

Inquisitors often hire local experts to help deal with investigations ‘planetside’, these may range from local Arbites agents to armed bodyguards, assassins or just simply information gatherers. When a mission is done, it is quite common for proven or liked agents to be recruited into the Inquisition as ‘acolytes’ who follow their Inquisitor from world to world performing missions and rooting out heresies. An Inquisitor’s retinue of staff may number just a handful of acolytes or be as large as several ‘cells’ of acolytes each led by an Interrogator (junior Inquisitor) or a ‘head’ acolyte who all answer to the Inquisitor (and may not even be aware of other cells). Eventually, proven acolytes may become Interrogators themselves with their own bands of Acolytes.


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