- "A heretic may see the truth and seek redemption. He may be forgiven his past and be absolved in death. A Traitor can never be forgiven. A Traitor can never find peace in this world or the next. There is nothing as wretched or as hated in all the world as a Traitor."
- — Anonymous
The Ordo Hereticus is one of the three major orders of the secretive organisation known as the Imperial Inquisition. They are tasked with protecting Mankind from itself, by combating such internal threats to the Imperium as treason, mutation, heresy, apostate members of the Ecclesiarchy and unsanctioned Psykers, better known as "witches". It is this latter function that has earned the Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus the name "Witch Hunters". Mutants, rebels and heretics are also targeted by the Ordo Hereticus. The Ordo has no qualms at all about acting against threats in the other Adepta and many a renegade Ministorum cardinal or corrupt Tech-Priest has met his end at the hands of a Witch Hunter. These Inquisitors are some of the most feared individuals in the entire Imperium, and like all Inquisitors they have ultimate authority over any other Imperial organisation in the Adeptus Terra and can demand assistance from any other source of authority in the Imperium. The Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus are generally considered darker and more sinister than their Ordo Xenos and Ordo Malleus brethren because of their focus on eliminating the human enemies of the Imperium, which have transformed them into a grim, paranoid and unforgiving lot. The Ordo Hereticus' Chamber Militant are the Sisters of Battle, the Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas, and they also make use of the Inquisitorial Black Ships to round up unsanctioned psyker mutants from across the galaxy and can call upon the military forces of the Ecclesiarchy, the Frateris Militia.
The Ordo Hereticus was founded much later in the Imperium and the Inquisition's history than the Ordo Xenos and Ordo Malleus, which can both trace their origins back to an order given by the Emperor of Mankind at the start of the Horus Heresy. It was created after the Age of Apostasy which occurred during the second century of the 36th Millennium. The Apostasy and the many heresies that took root during the anarchy of the Reign of Blood (most notably the Plague of Unbelief), had severely destabilised the Imperium's political structure in a way not seen since the Horus Heresy.
For the first few millennia of its existence, the Ordo Hereticus was but a rumour even to other Inquisitors, so fanatically was its secrecy guarded. All this came to an end following the Age of Apostasy, when it was decided that the Ordo would serve better by casting an intimidating shadow, rather than existing as a myth too easily ignored. As the Ecclesiarchy flourished, so too did the Ordo Hereticus grow with it, for nothing piques an Inquisitor's suspicion more readily than a holy man claiming to speak with the Emperor's voice. Often, its agents pose as servants of the Ecclesiarchy, feigning subservience to a Cardinal's will until they have sufficient proof of the man's guilt -– it is a rare priest with whom a member of the Ordo Hereticus cannot find fault.
The Ordo Hereticus was formed to specifically act as a check upon the power of the Ecclesiarchy, ensuring that another man like the High Lord Goge Vandire could not gain the level of power and control over the Imperium's massive governmental machinery that he did when he nearly usurped the Emperor's own rule and that of his surrogates among the High Lords of Terra by becoming both the Master of the Adeptus Administratum and the Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum at the same time. Although the Ecclesiarchy has its own internal regulatory bodies, it is still the role of the Inquisition to monitor all of the state organs (including the Ecclesiarchy) of the Imperium. The Ecclesiarchy must be particularly guarded, however, because of the extraordinary role that the faith of the Imperial Creed has come to play in the daily lives of the Imperium's people since the end of the Horus Heresy 10,000 standard years ago. Nothing can move the men and women of the Imperium like the power of their faith in the Emperor of Mankind, and there are many corrupt individuals like Goge Vandire who would try and exploit this reality for their own selfish gain. Even worse are those who would pervert these honest expressions of faith into something darker and heretical, such as the creation of a new Chaos Cult that ultimately drives a planetary rebellion against the Emperor.
The arrival of an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor is met with as much trepidation as awe, since none know where their gimlet gaze may land and upon whom their suspicions might fall. In addition to monitoring the Ecclesiarchy – ensuring that Wars of Faith do not exceed their mandate or that its many Cardinals do not amass more power than is deemed appropriate -– the Ordo Hereticus keeps a close eye on many other Imperial organisations: the Adeptus Arbites, the Adeptus Astartes, the Adepta Sororitas and also fellow members of the Inquisition. They monitor doctrinal and physical purity, and no one is beyond their jurisdiction. It is a brave man who crosses the path of a Witch Hunter, as simply by opposing a member of the Ordo Hereticus an individual may be damned and declared Heretic and Extremis Diabolus.
- "Burn them all. The Emperor will know His own."
- — Joachim Quais, the judgement on Xieros Prime
However, many Witch Hunters, for all the awe and terror they deliberately inspire, know the value of secrecy and stealth in the execution of their duties. The Ordo employs a myriad of agents, investigators, informants, savants, and infiltrators for this purpose. The reason for such tactics are simple. For a heresy to be purged, it must first be uncovered. The Ordo Hereticus can match the most labyrinthine plotters and secretive cults with dark machinations of their own, as many unsuspecting traitors and heretics have learned.
Although the Ordo Hereticus is extreme in its methods and utterly unforgiving in its persecutions, it has every cause and right to be. The Imperium, though vast and seemingly invulnerable, faces the ever-present danger of a slow death by rot from within. This rot must be discovered and cut out. The eternal war of the Ordo Hereticus is one with no bystanders and no innocents. It is a war waged without pity or relent, not just to defend the status quo or enforce the Imperium’s rule, but because the body and the soul of humanity itself is at stake.
The members of the Ordo Hereticus monitor the Wars of Faith inspired by the Ecclesiarchy, to ensure they remain within the objectives assigned by the Ecclesiarch and the other High Lords of Terra. They ensure that the teachings preached by priests of the Imperial Cult remain true to the spirit of the Emperor's will (and the orthodoxy of the Adeptus Ministorum). They regulate the wealth and stellar territory claimed by the higher-ranking members of the Ecclesiarchy, to prevent the princes of that institution, its Bishops and Cardinals, from gaining more power than is appropriate. The Ordo Hereticus is also called upon to monitor other Imperial organisations for internal threats, including the Adeptus Arbites, the Space Marines, and even the other Ordos of the Inquisition itself. Only the Emperor is beyond their jurisdiction or their suspicion, though attempts to root out perceived threats in the other Ordos of the Inquisition can be a difficult task at best.
Heresies of Faith and Thought
“True heresy” as it concerns the Ordo Hereticus is crudely defined as: adhering to, promulgating, or acting on a theological or political doctrine contrary to the orthodoxy of the Ministorum Creed or Lex Imperialis (which is itself considered of divine impute, being based upon the word and gift of the Emperor). In practical terms, the crime of heresy covers a multitude of sins ranging from the denial of the Emperor’s divinity and direct rebellion against the rule and rights of the Adepta to all manner of blasphemies and irreligious practice. In broader use, heresy, as expounded from the pulpit by Imperial confessors, is coined as a pejorative term to define any crime, sin, or deviancy of thought that the Imperium’s moral guardians find objectionable. However, the Imperium is a truly vast place with countless variations of culture and doctrine, not all of which fit together comfortably. The extent of the fervour with which heresy in this sense is treated and just what is considered “heretical” by the fanatics and extremists of a given world over another can vary enormously.
The Crimes of Bodily Corruption and Witchcraft
The fundamental nature of what it is to be human is under constant threat by the mutant and the psyker. Corrupted in flesh, to the Ordo Hereticus the mutant represents deviation from the physical norm and a potential taint of Chaos. With mutation, it is commonly believed that spiritual corruption and depravity often follows as naturally as carrion draws vermin. Under Lex Imperialis and the pronouncements of the Ministorum Creed, to be a mutant is to be removed from humanity. It is to be accursed and become the enemy simply by virtue of existing. Many mutants, who are more rightly classed as abhuman because their bodies have been deformed by generations of industrial pollution or exposure to alien biospheres and are thus utterly blameless of warp taint, are still rendered suspect and are often the victims of the zealot’s wrath. However, more measured and reasoning factions within the Ordo Hereticus do see and make the distinction, preferring not to waste their time rounding up a few chem-dregs when real deviants may be hiding behind a wealthy façade. These elements favour a pragmatic approach of brutal enforcement and vigilance. Others of a more Puritan mind favour the simpler solution of simply destroying them all…just to be safe.
This latter course of action meets stiff resistance and can make such Inquisitors powerful enemies on worlds whose entire economies rely on an underclass of abhuman labour to survive and prosper. On the whole and for the good of the wider Imperium, the pragmatist’s approach of the control and repression of mutants wins out. However, when warp taint or rebellion rears its head, the powers of the Holy Ordos let slip the Emperor’s hounds and whole worlds may be heaped high with pyres as a result. The witch, by comparison, poses a danger far greater than any other traitor or heretic, embodying a constant threat to the souls and lives of all those around them. Not only are such individuals potential avenues by which the horrors of the warp may be unleashed on the unsuspecting mass of humanity, but their unrestrained and often untrained psychic powers make each and every one of them a potential cataclysm waiting to happen. Each is capable of crimes and atrocities (by accident or design) unimaginable to the average citizen, from causing spontaneous fires and waves of nightmares, to the wilful enslavement of others as living puppets and the slaughter of innocents by no more than a stray thought. The persecution of the witch and the rogue psyker is the central goal of many within the Ordo Hereticus and it is a dangerous task indeed. It calls for the utmost guile, ruthlessness, and savvy, for few prey are more dangerous.
The Sin of the Past
Although the central tasks of the Ordo Hereticus are widely known, there are other rarer kinds of crimes that also concern them. The veneration of false gods and forbidden lores that hearken back to the sins of humanity’s ancient past merit the direst enmity of the Ordo. Some are crimes so proscribed that even to know of them is enough to warrant summary execution. Others, such as the worship of the false godhead known as “progress” and the pursuit of technologies and sciences proscribed since the time when the Emperor walked among his people, are treated with the same scorn and hatred as any mutant cult. The Ordo’s involvement in such matters has brought it into conflict in the past with other powerful groups such as the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Ordo Xenos, who might dispute both its involvement and its methods.
- "There is no greater enemy to the Imperium than the man who acts against it. Such a traitor shreds the very fibre of our holy existence. Never, ever forget this."
- — Cardinal Richter, Inquisitor Hierophant of the Ordo Hereticus
Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus are commonly figures of incredibly strong will. Some are fitted with special psychic hoods designed to nullify hostile witcheries targeting their mind or person. Others prefer to trust in the Emperor, uttering litanies of protection and hate as they move against rogue psykers. A with the other ordos of the Inquisition, the Witch Hunters are happy to use individuals with psychic powers, provided they have been properly sanctioned. Perhaps surprisingly, there are many Inquisitors amongst the Ordo Hereticus who are capable of using psychic disciplines themselves. Woe betide the witch who is hunted by one such individual, for these Inquisitors are notorious in their zeal. Perhaps it is because they are fully aware of the terrible dangers that lurk within the warp, or perhaps it is a result of their training—whatever the case, these psychic Witch Hunters will stop at nothing to destroy the corrupt and tainted.
Some Inquisitors within the Ordo Hereticus specialise in the identification and eradication of mutants. They may have numerous cells of Acolytes at their disposal, which range from hive-toughened flamer squads, trained to purge large infected areas, to precision assassination cells, which remove and replace key political figures that have succumbed to the lure of the Dark Gods. In most cases, such Inquisitors will be less concerned with the mutants themselves (as they are a relatively simple matter to deal with) and more with the causes of mutation. An outbreak of mutation may herald a terrible event, point to an upswing in cult activity or simply be the inexplicable whim of the Ruinous Powers. Whatever the cause, the Ordo Hereticus will require an investigation and purge. This can sometimes cause the Ordo to be involved in high-profile events, such as the removal of a head of state, the cleaning up of corrupted pollutants or even outright war.
Occasionally the Ordo will find itself pitted against an individual being or phenomenon which presents a significant threat. This might be as varied as a psyker of unprecedented power, a mutant with terrifying abilities or even a governor unwilling to carry out necessary pogroms. In such cases, the Ordo Hereticus will excommunicate the offending person from the human race and then hunt them down with frightening ruthlessness. The ordos will call upon any allies they feel necessary, from the Sisters of Battle, to members of other Adepta or servants of another ordo. They are willing to do whatever is needed to get at the excommunicated party, even if it should mean sending the Imperial Guard against the Imperium's own people. Better to end a thousand innocent lives than to suffer the spread of corruption.
Perhaps more so than other arms of the Inquisition, the Ordo Hereticus is concerned with the big picture. Their duty tasks them with tending to a vast flock, and as such, individuals within that mass are seldom of importance. The Imperium is comprised of billions of souls, each of which is a potential psyker, mutant or rebel. The Ordo Hereticus fights on countless fronts, endlessly, with no warning of where fresh heresy may arise. Whilst cells of Acolytes or particular Inquisitors may have the luxury of dealing only with the local situation, the scholars and masters of the Ordos look upon events with a distanced eye, thinking in terms of systems and sectors rather than planets or countries. To some observers, this impersonal attitude is vile, but to members of the Ordo Hereticus it is necessary to protect mankind from itself.
- "The signs of heresy and corruption surround us. We need but open our eyes and allow the Emperor to guide our sight."
- — Preacher Cartien Dane
It is the Emperor-given duty of all Inquisitors and Acolytes to root out the enemies of Mankind wherever they hide, and to purge these threats. However, perhaps for no other Ordo is the process of examination so important as for the Ordo Hereticus. Whereas the xenos attacks in great hordes or invades from massive troopships, and the Daemon descends upon the worlds of the Imperium through breaches in the very fabric of existence, the heretic, psyker, traitor, and even mutant so often lurk unseen amongst the innumerable masses of humanity. In order to distinguish these enemies and find them amongst the masses of pious citizens, the servants and members of the Ordo Hereticus must hone their skills as detectives and investigators, until identifying clues and following leads to heretical activity is all but second nature.
Physical clues are often vital to an Ordo Hereticus Witch Hunter’s work. Potential heretics are everywhere, but Acolytes have not the time to question every worker who misses a shift, or every noble who idles his time in illicit pursuits. Inquisitors and their servants must constrict their attentions to only those heresies that truly threaten humanity, and the presence of physical evidence can be invaluable in narrowing their focus. The remnants of dark rituals, pendants, and markings showing allegiance, and myriad other clues can identify the presence of a threat.
Heresy of Deed
Many acts are heretical in themselves, or serve as signs of heresy. Although Acolytes must often work from the scene of a crime in order to identify and pursue the heretics responsible, with the Emperor’s guidance they sometimes are fortunate enough to directly observe a heresy in action. This might come about because the Acolytes are operating undercover or unseen, allowing them to observe a heretic’s crimes unbeknownst to him. At the other end of the spectrum, directly confronting a suspect with their suspicions, or merely announcing their identities, might drive the heretic to act rashly and lee or attack the Acolytes—both great crimes in themselves, as well as indicators of guilt in previous matters.
Heresy of Form
It is well-known that physical mutation is often a sign of spiritual corruption. Although communities of mutants are tolerated on some Imperial worlds as an underclass, in most places, a mutation is a clear indicator of greater heresy. Even in locations where mutants are suffered to live, the presence of a mutant outside of strictly isolated areas might indicate rebellion or some other heresy. Of course, mutants who are able to conceal their mutations are certain to do so. Additionally, cult members sometime intentionally mark their dark allegiances on their flesh through ritual scarring, branding, or electoos. Although a powerful clue, the use of such marks can also be a liability to Acolytes attempting to infiltrate a cult, who might face the choice of accepting such marks or revealing their true loyalties.
Heresy of Craft
Many heretics take a perverse pride in their treachery, creating blasphemous items to either celebrate their heresies or corrupt others. These vary greatly, and while some are obvious works of heresy, others are more subtle, such as paintings laced with fine iconography. The works of heretics come in countless forms. Weapons incorporating xenos technology, tomes of blasphemous lore, philosophical treatises questioning the divine right of Mankind to rule the galaxy, ritual masks depicting alien gods, talismans of profane symbols—these are just some of the examples. Heretics might create such items personally, or might purchase or inherit them, and many could be millennia old.
Although not as reliable as physical clues, Acolytes must often rely on informational clues. This might be because the heretics have taken pains to hide or destroy the evidence of their crimes, or because the nature of the heresy is such that it leaves no physical evidence—at least not until it is too late.
Heresy of Thought
Knowledge is power, and heretical ideas are just as dangerous and damaging as physical acts. The Acolytes might discover heresy of thought by covertly monitoring a suspect, or earning a heretic’s trust to the point that he reveals his true beliefs. For those Witch Hunters who employ the gifts of psykers, telepathy provides an avenue to discover heretical thoughts when the perpetrator is wise enough to avoid giving voice to his blasphemies. Whether an individual intends to act on their heretical thoughts is irrelevant. Giving voice to such ideas spreads the seeds of heresy to others, which is a great crime in itself. In the eyes of some Inquisitors, even holding such thoughts is a crime against humanity, for such an individual might later make the transition from speculation to action, or might decide to share his dangerous ideas. Ideas hold great power, and the mere thought of the most dangerous ideas marks one as a heretic just as surely as any act.
Heresy of Tolerance
In some cases, the knowledge of an ongoing heresy and failure to act on the information is truly a heresy in itself. Someone who knowingly harbours rogue psykers, sells weapons to rebels, allows friends or family to join a heretical cult, or otherwise tolerates actions that threaten Mankind, even in a small way, are surely heretics themselves. For by their inaction, they give strength to the enemies of Mankind.
Accusation of Heresy
The Adeptus Terra and the governments of many worlds constantly remind citizens to report heresy whenever possible (lest they become guilty of heresy of tolerance). Many citizens, whether out of fear or duty, report minor or imagined infractions that, while worthy of the attentions of local authorities, are not the concern of Acolytes. However, rarely, a dutiful citizen reports the presence of a truly grave heresy. In some cases, the citizen might simply be suspicious of a neighbour. For even if the informant does not understand the nature of his neighbour’s crime (and it is good he does not), the Acolytes’ efforts can reveal the truth. In some cases, an accuser might even be able to furnish additional evidence, or lead the Acolytes to clues.
Correlational clues often propel an investigation forward. They arise from other kinds of clues, allowing the Acolytes to make sense of seemingly random acts, insane writings, and illogical ideas. In the work of the Ordo Hereticus, correlational clues might take the form of a revelation that a series of seemingly unrelated murders is actually the work of a cult dedicated to the God of Blood, or that failures amongst a hive’s vital systems are due to intentional sabotage.
As an investigation develops and Acolytes amass clues, patterns often emerge. These can sometimes be mundane and logical, such as narrowing down the location of a heretic by examining where his crimes occur. However, patterns also arise that can even border on the supernatural. Inexplicable occurrences, such as unidentifiable smells that linger in the wake of a cult’s members, or nightmares disturbing the sleep of hivers at regular intervals, can identify the presence of heretical activity. Such incidents might seem to be random occurrences at first, their significance only becoming apparent as an investigation develops and the Acolytes learn of additional incidences. As the Acolytes identify such patterns, they might reveal the location of the heretics, the nature of the heretics, or even their plans. With the Emperor’s guidance, such leads allow the Acolytes to find the culprits and halt their designs.
Ciphers and Hidden Messages
Heretics, by their nature, often operate discreetly. Sharing their blasphemous ideals openly would quickly bring down the wrath of the Enforcers, the Ecclesiarchy, or even the Inquisition. To protect themselves and facilitate safe communication, cults, secret societies, traitors, and groups dedicated to protecting mutants or rogue psykers often develop codes and secret signs. To reveal the presence of these heretics, Acolytes must be able to at least identify ciphers as such, even if they are unable to decrypt them. Acolytes might notice repeated symbols associated with the heretics, even things as subtle as a feather of a certain colour tucked somewhere in their clothes, a particular hand signal, or a seemingly innocuous phrase. Although a single occurrence of such a sign is by design, unremarkable, the Acolytes can discern the importance of these hidden messages by being aware of repeated sightings. Once aware, they can use this information to identify the heretics through the very ciphers intended to keep them hidden.
Heresy by Association
The most stringent and merciless of Witch Hunters often feel that association with a heretic is a sign of heresy in itself. Even if no other evidence is available, purging those affiliated with the heretic is safest. Friends and family of a heretic might claim ignorance of his deeds, but mere proximity to such a corrupting influence might leave a stain on the soul. Even if only one in a thousand such associates has truly been tainted by the acts or ideas of the heretic, it is safer to destroy them all. As it is said, innocence proves nothing.
The Adepta Sororitas, also known as the Sisters of Battle or the Daughters of the Emperor, are a penitent organisation within the larger Adeptus Ministorum of women devoted to the worship of the God-Emperor of Mankind and the orthodox interpretation of the Imperial Creed. Although there are many different orders within the Sisterhood that perform many different specialised functions across the Imperium, the most well-known as the Orders Militant, which form the military arm of the Ecclesiarchy and also serve as the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus.
After the Age of Apostasy, the Ecclesiarchy was forbidden from possessing any "men under arms" by the Decree Passive issued by the famous Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor, the righteous successor of Goge Vandire. A loophole was found and exploited by later Ecclesiarchs by refounding the Daughters of the Emperor as warrior-nuns after merging them into the greater Sisterhood of the Adepta Sororitas. The Sisterhood serves, among its many other functions, as an internal regulator of the Ecclesiarchy and as the army of the Adeptus Ministorum, spreading the True Faith in the God-Emperor throughout the galaxy.
Centuries ago, following the Age of Apostasy, the newly reformed Adepta Sororitas and the Ordo Hereticus forged an agreement to assist one another in fighting the Emperor's enemies. This agreement, made at the Convocation of Nephilim, is still shrouded in mystery and it is suggested among some Inquisitors that the Sisters of Battle and the Ordo Hereticus are following some secret plan that only the canonesses of the Sororitas and a few Inquisitor Lords fully understand. Whether this is true or not, a Witch Hunter can expect to find common purpose with the Sisters of Battle, and the two organisations work together extensively. Although very different in their methods of tackling a problem or internal dissent (Hereticus Inquisitors tend to be analytical, methodical and suspicious, while the Sisters of Battle are zealous and unquestioning of Imperial Creed dogma) the Sisters and the Ordo Hereticus also share the common purpose of eradicating threats to the Imperium from within. Even though the Adeptus Sororitas and its Sisters of Battle remain part of the Ecclesiarchy's structure, they respond when called upon by Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus who need a more forceful resolution to a particular problem.
Notable Ordo Hereticus Members
- Inquisitor Adrastia - Adrastia is a high-ranking Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus. She, alongside Lord General Castor of the Imperial Guard's Cadian Shock Troops, were ordered to the Sub-sector Aurelia to investigate charges of heresy levelled by Captain Gabriel Angelos of the Blood Ravens Space Marine Chapter against his Chapter Master Azariah Kyras. She hoped to complete her investigation ahead of the arrival of an incoming Exterminatus fleet, which had been given orders to enact Exterminatus upon all of the sub-sector's worlds to remove their growing Chaotic and xenos taint from the Imperium.
- Inquisitor Victoria Aldrich - Victoria Aldrich has never been a woman to take her work lightly. Even as a lowly acolyte, Aldrich was well known for her verve and vigour. Her master, a venerable and cunning Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor Yusuph Trevar, brought Aldrich under his wing specifically for the enthusiasm with which she approached the job of rooting out heretical and daemonic infestation. A zealot like Aldrich was the perfect counterbalance to Trevar's methodical trickery. After years in Trevar's service, the bombastic and learned acolyte had learned much of her master's ways and tempered her enthusiasm with cunning and planning, retaining the gusto which was her hallmark. Aldrich is now an Inquisitor in her own right over a century of service to her credit. She continues to hound the spawn of Chaos with energy and ardour, bringing the full weight of her Inquisitorial position and her substantial personal prowess to bear on the enemies of man.
- Inquisitor Agmar - As a young member of the Ordo Hereticus, Agmar lead multiple attacks upon Ichar IV's capital city of Lomas to break up a rebellion launched by strange cult members. It turned out that the rebellion was created by a massive Genestealer infestation. With the Adeptus Arbites, he destroyed enough of the defences used by the cult's psychcially enslaved members to allow the Ultramarines Chapter to seize the planet. It was then that Agmar's Astropaths felt the approach of Hive Fleet Kraken and it was his initiative that led to the breaking of the Hive Fleet at Ichar IV.
- Inquisitor Havelock Blackheel - A man of abounding faith in the God-Emperor and possessed of a nearly limitless hatred for psykers, Havelock Blackheel is as much a force of nature as he is an Inquisitor. A Puritan and Monodominant, Inquisitor Blackheel was waged a one-man war against psykers for nearly a century. A large, hale man with a barrel chest and long locks, Havelock Blackheel hails from Maccabeus Quintus where, from an early age, he displayed a violent distaste for irregularity and a fiery zeal for orthodoxy. He harbours a special hatred for psykers, passed to him from his parents, and upon joining the ranks of the Inquisition found kinship with the teachings of the Monodominants. With his boundless energy and bewitching charisma, and for reasons he assures his followers have nothing to do with any personal friction with "certain spineless cowards of the Ordo Calixis", he roots out the heretic and the heterodox on the fringe worlds of the Koronus Expanse with a zeal that raises eyebrows even among his allies.
- Inquisitor Solace Deschaine - The woman in charge of the Ordo Hereticus activities on Eleusis is Solace Deschaine, a woman of unshakeable faith and indomitable spirit. Inquisitor Deschaine has spent the last twelve years on Eleusis in constant vigil, her agents living out amongst the populace and reporting any suspicions or subtle signs of heresy directly to her. During this time the Inquisitor has uncovered countless secrets hidden just below the surface of the reconstruction, both literally and figuratively.
- Inquisitor Vownus Kaede - Inquisitor Vownus Kaede is a noted scholar, philosopher and an optimist. He is also a skilled swordsman, irreverent scoundrel and a self-righteous reprobate. Named after the rogue hero of Catuldynus's epic verse allegory The Once-Pure Hive, Kaede has spent most of his life living up to his namesake’s legacy. Originating somewhere, "East of Sol and West of Macragge," Kaede signed on with a free captain at a young age and hasnever looked back. The details of his elevation to Inquisitor status are hazy and change every time he tells the story. The only point that remains consistent is that he was once a member of the Ordo Xenos, before finding his true calling as a Witch Hunter. Regardless of his chequered past, Inquisitor Kaede has been a respected member of the cabal for over a decade. Though he is nominally of Puritan leanings, Kaede is a skilled psyker who fanatically believes in the psychic future of the human race and is willing to casually commit almost any atrocity in order to safeguard it. He and the martially inclined acolyte bands he employs spend a great deal of time travelling between Calixis's subsectors chasing down rumours of hidden witches. Kaede absolutely detests Rykehuss's methods and takes a great deal of pleasure in spiriting promising young psykers out from under the Witch Finder’s pogroms. Inquisitor Kaede appears exactly the way Imperium citizens picture a Witch Hunter. From his wide-brimmed hat, to his Inferno Pistol, to the ancient short-bladed force sword named "Slight Jest" that he bears at his side, there is no mistaking his appearance and what it implies, which is exactly what Kaede wishes. To Kaede, the Tyrant Star prophecy is a delicious mystery to be unlocked.
- Inquisitor Hettesh Kane - The sanctioned psyker Hettesh Kane was once a renowned teacher in the Scholastica Psykana. He became a dedicated member of the Ordo Hereticus to hunt down and eliminate rogue psykers throughout the Imperium. however, Kane's experiences and personal beliefs led him to become convinced that psykers could achieve nearly anything, if properly trained and possessing deep moral conviction. Over time, Kane began to train and teach those he captured rather than destroying them outright. Although he was not always successful, Kane sought to turn those who were once enemies into agents of the Golden Throne.
- Inquisitor Lord Fyodor Karamazov - Inquisitor Lord Fyodor Karamazov is known and feared throughout the Imperium. He gained his fearsome reputation during an event on the planet of Salem Procor, when he executed a popular servant of the Adeptus Ministorum. This caused a huge outcry from the Ministorum's clerics and the Thorian Inquisitors, yet later it was discovered that the preacher had in fact truly been a heretic, and Fyodor's reputation was redeemed. However, relations between the Inquisitor Lord and the Ecclesiarchy and his fellow Inquisitors have yet to mend. Karamazov rides into battle on the massive war-machine known as the Throne of Judgement.
- Inquisitor Ligea - Inquisitor Ligea can be described as "Looking more like an elegant family matriarch rather than a hunter of daemons." Ligea was an unusual Inquisitor, in that she did not see much combat, but rather focused her efforts on texts and ancient writing. She possessed at least one minor psyker ability, which allowed her to apprehend information simply by contacting an object, such as a book or a statue. She was recruited into the Ordo Hereticus at a very young age. She was attached to the Grey Knights Chapter on the trail of Saint Evisser, looking for Ghargatuloth, Prince of a Thousand Faces, a powerful Greater Daemon of Tzeentch. Unfortunately, Inquisitor Ligea eventually succumbed to the taint of Ghargatuloth after allowing herself to delve too deeply into tainted knowledge, opening her mind to daemons which caused her to lose her mind. Having gone quite insane and fallen mostly to Chaos in the process, Ligea was captured by the Inquisition she once served. However, having opened herself up to Ghargatuloth, she was able to learn and reveal the true name of Ghargatuloth to Justicar Alaric, through a recording of her interrogations, in which she babbled what was apparently a meaningless string of syllables. This gave the Grey Knights the advantage they needed in order to destroy Ghargatuloth once every thousand years. Inquisitor Ligea died in an interrogation room high above the planet Mimas when Inquisitor Nyxos ordered her cell opened, venting her into space.
- Witch Finder Rykehuss - Rykehuss is the terror of witches, a man for whom everyone is guilty of something and the only punishment is death. To him the Calixis Sector is a cesspit where witches breed like flies and the honest, pious Imperial citizens are besieged by sin on all sides. Rykehuss’s bouts of volcanic anger and impassioned sermonising are well known at the Bastion Serpentis, and he constantly exhorts his fellow Inquisitors to descend on all the sinners to purify them with righteous flame or condemn them to damnation. Rykehuss wears ornate, heavily customised armour gifted to him by the Adeptus Mechanicus after he sought out a witch cult on a forge world in a nearby sector, and he is an expert with a veritable armoury of weapons. The witch finder's methods are simple. He descends on a particular city, sees depravity everywhere and immediately sets up a Court of Ordeals where pious citizens bring accused neighbours and family members to be tried. When Rykehuss hears of a particularly foul heresy being perpetrated somewhere nearby, he gathers all the torch-wielding backup he can and marches there, trusting in his martial skill to help him put the sinners to death personally. Some who witness Rykehuss's terrors consider him a hero, others a butcher, and both are right. Many innocents have died at Rykehuss's hands but so have many rogue psykers and cultists. Rykehuss, however, is not as crude a man as his methods would suggest. He knows that he cannot kill all the sinners, but his bombastic and terrifying style ensures that Imperial citizens are constantly reminded that there are threats in their midst and bigger threats waiting to punish them for their weaknesses. Innocent deaths, while regrettable, are a small price to pay for Rykehuss to spread the fear that helps suppress the activities of witches—and in any case, the Emperor sorts them all out in the end. Rykehuss is obsessed with the notion that it is the widespread activity of witches in the sector that is bringing on the doom of the Hereticus Tenebrae.
- Inquisitor Astrid Skane - A formidable woman, Inquisitor Skane exudes the rough authority of a seasoned arbitrator officer. Tough and resourceful, she is one of the most active of the cabal’s Inquisitors, happy to get her hands dirty rooting out corruption. Skane is a striking woman with a stern, strong face who wears her hair regulation short. She habitually dresses much as she did when she served as an arbitrator on Scintilla, in a black uniform and body armour, and is rarely seen without her shock maul and shotgun. Skane respects those who respect her, treats her more skilled acolytes as equals and has little time for pomp and appearances. Skane follows the Recongregators’ creed, which states that the Imperium must be reformed radically to reduce the suffering of its people and that the Inquisition is the only body with the authority and skill to reform it. Skane believes that the Imperium’s woes are caused by corruption among its ruling classes. She developed a particular hatred for corrupt nobles whilst serving as an arbitrator and has carried that through to her work as an Inquisitor. Her operations, therefore, target corruption among the nobility and the Adepta, including the Adeptus Arbites she once served. She dreams of a future where the Imperium is turned upside-down and justice is the rule rather than the exception, but she realises that she will not live to see it. She fights for what justice she can and hopes that others will follow her to carry on the battle. Skane is convinced that the Tyrant Star can only be appearing due to some form of summons. She believes there is a powerful cult at work in the sector, employing sorcery to call the Tyrant Star down on mankind. That is a cult she would very much like to personally root out.
- Inquisitor Soldevan - A handsome man with skin the colour of ebony and a taste in imposing military dress uniforms that only enhance his air of strength and authority. Soldevan was originally an Interrogator in the employ of Witch Finder Rykehuss but never believed in his master’s extreme methods, and quickly broke with Rykehuss after attaining the Inquisitorial Seal. Soldevan believes that knowledge, not wanton destruction, is the key to protecting humanity from the threats it faces. Soldevan’s beliefs run deeper than he would ever admit. He believes that the warp is an immense source of power and that an Inquisitor is a man of sufficient intelligence and willpower to harness it. Soldevan wants to open up a pathway to the warp and seek out the consciousnesses that dwell there hoping to bargain with them for the power he needs to combat the enemies of mankind. Soldevan has got quite close to his goal and has several forbidden tomes in his possession that, with the right sacrifices and rituals, will summon forth powerful Daemons for him to negotiate with. He is always seeking more knowledge or artefacts of the warp, either captured during the cabal’s operations or purchased at extortionate prices from unscrupulous dealers in forbidden relics. Somewhere during this process Soldevan has lost his sanity and replaced it with absolute conviction that the warp holds the secrets of humanity’s survival. He believes that the Tyrant Star represents a vital conduit to secrets of the warp.
- Inquisitor Tannenberg - Witchfinder Tannenberg was a Hereticus Inquisitor who uncovered the heresy and mutation within the Saint Garrat Scriptorium, sending its Adepts to the excruciation chambers and burning the scriptorium to the ground. Tannenberg was also responsible for executing all forty-five members of the psyker Chaos Cult known as the Coven of the Red Moon. Amongst his many Acolytes is the scribe Lamont.
- Inquisitor Thaddeus - An Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus, Thaddeus was put in charge of hunting down and destroying the Renegade Soul Drinkers Space Marine Chapter. He is a rather patient man and does things slowly and concisely as to get them right. He shuns other Inquisitors who use force and fear on Imperial citizens to secure information. He believes in speaking to people politely and with respect to get what he needs. He seemed to make a deal with Sarpedon, the acting Chapter Master of the Soul Drinkers, when Sarpedon was injured badly and held by an insanely powerful mutant attempting to gain godhood in the Warp, known as Teturact. Thaddeus decided to spare Sarpedon after months of trailing the Soul Drinkers and learning about the tragedies which had befallen them and he fired on Teturact, giving Sarpedon time to finish him with the Soulspear. Thaddeus decided that Sarpedon was not nearly as dangerous to the Imperium as Teturact was. Thaddeus fell out of favour with the Lord Inquisitors for allowing the Soul Drinkers to continue to exist, but he still pursued them and eventually met his end facing down the Howling Griffons Space Marines after they saw him as Sarpedon's ally.
- Witch Hunter Tyrus - Tyrus is a Witch Hunter and a staunch member of the Monodominant sect of the Inquisition. As a child, he was tortured by the Daemon Prince Kholoth who took one of his eyes and ears before destroying the rest of his village. Tyrus was saved from death at the Daemon Prince's hand by the Inquisitor Covonis who then took Tyrus under his wing as an apprentice and Acolyte. Covonis was killed on the world of Epsilon Regalis by Kholoth but Tyrus successfully banished Kholoth to the Warp again, taking up his master's Power Armour and Force Sword. He was then elevated to the full rank of Witch Hunter and Inquisitor. Tyrus is highly active in the Imperium as an internal policer of heresy. He is known for carrying out extreme and bloody purges of suspected Heretics on many worlds on regular occasions. He is also known to chase heretical Inquisitors as strongly as he does witches. He has a great hatred for all kinds of psykers, even those found amongst his fellow Inquisitors. His policy on guilt is based on religious testing and arcane methodology. Tyrus is known to use the ancient trial by ordeal to determine guilt or innocence of heresy or witchcraft in certain cases, such as the Trial by Balance, the Ordeal of the Blade and the Trial by Holy Seal, while his favorite method for determining guilt is to force the accused to consume a jug of holy water blessed by an Adeptus Ministorum priest. If they choke then they are guilty of being a Heretic in Tyrus' judgement and are immediately executed. Tyrus is also known to use the Emperor's Tarot to determine innocence or guilt.
- Inquisitor Globus Vaarak - Severely wounded as an Interrogator while boarding a pirate ship, Vaarak's body is broken, scarred and bloated. Both his legs were amputated and he moves by means of a robust mechanical vehicle with mechanical legs and an inbuilt life-support system. His face is horribly burned and pockmarked, with tubes running from his nostrils and mouth to help him breathe. One arm was also lost and has been replaced with an obvious bionic limb. Vaarak's clothing is a ribbed black bodyglove that barely holds in his enormous girth and which incorporates cooling and regulating devices to keep him alive. Vaarak is an Amalathian who believes that the Imperium, as grim a place as it is, must survive in its current state if the human race is to continue existing. He therefore seeks out sedition and rebellion in the Calixis Sector, trying to maintain the careful balance of its power groups. Given that he cannot operate in the guise of a normal citizen or adept, Vaarak must conduct most investigations through his acolytes, of whom he has several teams. His methods are subtle and moderate compared to some of the cabal’s other Inquisitors, for he would prefer that the Inquisition’s hand was not obvious, and encourages his acolytes to avoid open conflict and violence as much as possible. Vaarak has a bleak and self-deprecating sense of humour and is an excellent judge of character. Many of the conclave's next generation of Inquisitors will come from among Vaarak’s Interrogators if he remains in favour. He has joined the Spectarians because the Tyrant Star represents a truly destabilising threat to Imperial society.
Ordo Hereticus Relics
- Liber Heresius - First laid down during the Age of Apostasy, this tome has grown to contain the wisdom of thousands of Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors. By properly interrogating its pages, the reader can glean sufficient wisdom to predict and counter the strategies of renegades and traitors before their ruinous schemes come to fruition. Over the course of centuries, the Liber Heresius has become incredibly unwieldy, as each new wielder scribbles his own notes into its broad margins.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 367
- Codex: Inquisition (6th Edition), pp. 12-13, 22, 39, 50, 83, 101, 107, 130-131, 136, 154, 167
- Codex: Tyranids (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Witch Hunters (3rd Edition)
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 169-170
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 220, 226, 257, 268-269, 318-322
- Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 21-22
- Dark Heresy: Enemies Within (2nd Edition) (RPG), pp. 138-140
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pg. 233
- Deathwatch: Rising Tempest (RPG), pg. 47
- Rogue Trader: The Navis Primer (RPG), pg. 114
- Grey Knights (Novel) by Ben Counter
- Dawn of War II - Retribution (PC Game)
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