Philosophies of the Inquisition

Operatives of the Inquisition are exceptional individuals, possessed of an unparalleled sense of self, duty, and indeed destiny. Capable of bending the Galaxy to their will, and burdened with an incomparably monstrous task, they gradually develop distinct philosophies to guide (some might say justify) their decisions and actions. These philosophies espouse distinct, if not outright extreme, views on the nature of Humanity and its salvation in an age of darkness and war, and are often the source of the deepest divisions between operatives. For while few operatives adhere totally and unerringly to a single philosophy – instead adopting an amalgam that best serves their approach – they nevertheless display a unique tenacity in defending their beliefs against the adherents of others.

Most philosophies are sufficiently broad as to apply to any Ordo, and thus their memberships are remarkably varied. Indeed, an operative’s philosophical beliefs are secondly only to their Ordo membership in terms of determining their closest associates within the Inquisition. For while philosophies are not formal factions in the same way as Ordos, adherents tend to cleave together, both to better realise their philosophy within their sector and to ensure their philosophical opponents don’t marginalise their influence. Although variations and nuances will undoubtedly exist within a single philosophy, most operatives are capable of putting aside minor differences for the sake of cooperation and mutual support. It is not unknown for operatives attached to different Ordos but sharing a philosophy to exchange information, assist one another with their assets, and even collaborate on ambitious, secretive projects. Indeed, outside of conclaves, philosophical factions are the greatest reason for cabals being established. For while even the staunchest operatives must put aside their disagreements for the sake of the Imperium, some things must nevertheless be kept secret from those who fail to grasp their significance…

Broadly speaking, all philosophies and their factions can be placed into one of two categories. Puritans adhere closely to the Imperial Truth espoused by the Ecclesiarchy, believing in a stark polarity between the righteousness of Humanity and their God-Emperor and the corruptive evil of the Daemon, Xenos and anyone who deviates from the Imperium’s dictates, doctrines and dogma. They are typically concerned with maintaining the status quo, and prosecuting the war against Humanity’s enemies with a fearsome zeal. Radicals, on the other hand, have deviated from the core tenets of the Imperial Truth in a distinct way, although the precise nature tends to vary in a way Puritan philosophies cannot. Broadly speaking, however, Radicals tend to emphasise pragmatism and utilitarianism over the more deontological Puritans, but also have a habit of concealing their more extreme beliefs for fear of being labelled corrupt, traitorous or heretical. Neither side can hold a monopoly on the correct path for the Inquisition, for while Radical methods can save billions of lives, Puritanism preserves the very Human soul from corruption.

That being said, the moniker of Puritan or Radical is more often one that is attributed to other operatives than oneself. All but the most far-fallen Inquisitorial operatives, after all, believe their actions to simply be in the Imperium’s best interests, and thus denounce those colleagues whom them believe walk too questionable or risky a path as Radicals, and those whose principles constrict their action as too Puritan. To some, even the employ of a psyker or the learning of an alien language is too Radical an approach, while to others the refusal to utilise spies and informants is too Puritanical. Thus, while conclaves and Ordos remain typically stable institutions, individual cadres and operatives can easily fall into conflict with one another over their respective courses of action, and the Inquisition is quick to sanction any operatives whose quarrels are without good cause, or undermine the organisation’s righteous mission.

Major Puritan Philosophies

Amalathianism – Amalathians espouse a conservative belief that stability and unity amongst the various organisations of the Imperium are paramount to its survival and the realisation of the Emperor’s will. They largely abhor tumult and are suspicious of major political and social change for their inherent tendency to foster deviation and deviancy, and as a result are often regarded as the staunch guardians of the status quo. This belief even extends into the hallowed halls of the Inquisition itself, as Amalathians oppose the division of Inquisitorial operatives into various, often conflicting, factions. While more moderate Amalathians act as peace-makers, seeking to negotiate some common ground whereupon all operatives (and, indeed, all servants of the Imperium) can stand against their common foes, more hard-line Amalathians demonstrate an iron-fisted belief that theirs is the only valid philosophy, and all other factions and organisations must adhere or face the consequences.

Monodominance – Often considered (erroneously) to be the most hard-line of the Puritan factions, Monodominants believe in the supremacy of Humankind, its Imperium and the God-Emperor as master of the Galaxy. The most extreme believe in the subjugation, if not outright extermination, of anyone who does not conform to their narrow classification of ‘Human’ – typically mutants, psykers and, obviously, Xenos species. Moderates may find such aberrations distasteful, but recognise their necessity (or, at least, utility) to the Imperium and are thus prepared to tolerate their controlled existence for exploitation purposes. Regardless, all Monodominants seek to preserve the Imperium’s survival and manifest destiny across the Galaxy, and stand as its uncompromising guardians against its myriad enemies.

Thorianism – Thorians believe that despite His interment on the Golden Throne, the God-Emperor is nevertheless influencing Humanity’s direction and development, and that His will can manifest in chosen avatars when the Imperium finds itself in dire need. Out of all the Puritan factions, Thorians demonstrate the greatest variance between extreme Puritanism and borderline Radicalism. Some seek out those individuals they believe to have been touched by the Emperor in order to protect and guide them, whilst others seek to use such individuals to realise the Emperor’s resurrection. While Thorians often disagree over which historic figures were divine avatars, and how they might discern and utilise newly-arisen avatars, their main goal is to ensure the Imperium’s prosperity – although many also invest considerable effort into exploring the interplay between the Human consciousness and body.

Logicians – Logicians view the warp to be a dangerous necessity and work to minimise the dangers it represents to Humanity. They prefer logic and reason to superstition and sorcery (though of course the Ecclesiarchy and the worship of the God-Emperor do not count as such in their eyes), and often seek to restore knowledge that Humanity has lost (though only the most radical of them would try and advance it). Logicians do tolerate Psykers and Navigators, and understand that – at least for the present – warp travel is a necessity that must be borne, although some among them seek the means to do away with it entirely. While there are Logicians who explore the potential for Humanity to embrace its destiny without having to use the Immaterium or anything touched by it, others simply hunt down warp incursions or those who would seek to cause them, believing such cataclysms will cause Humanity’s downfall if left unchecked. Logicians often work well and closely with the Adeptus Mechanicus, pursuing aligned goals in terms of technology and reason, and are regularly assigned to oversee matters of cooperation between the Inquisition and the Mechanicus.

Major Radical Philosophies

Horusianism – Often suspected of being a Radical corruption of Thorianism, Horusians hold up the Arch-Traitor Horus as the ultimate example of wasted potential: a champion of the Imperium, second only to the Emperor in god-like power, fallen into slavery to the Ruinous Powers. Horusians seek to create, whether through machination, science or sorcery, a new leader capable of uniting Humanity against its enemies – a leader endowed with, but not enslaved to, the might of the Warp’s limitless power. Horusians are one of the rare Radical factions where even the most moderate of the number operate in complete secrecy, often masquerading as Xanthites, for even other Radicals have a tendency to bristle at the legacy left by Horus Lupercal.

Istvaanism – Istvaanists hold that the Imperium survives only through war unending, and that Humanity achieves its true potential when in conflict – either with others, or themselves. To that end, Istvaanists pursue a twofold ideal: fomenting a sufficient level of conflict and crisis throughout the Imperium to realise the latent potential of its populace, whilst channeling Humanity’s propensity for conquest and destruction outwards against its myriad of external enemies. A more ‘moderate’ subset of Istvaanism is Recongregationism; Recongregators believe that the Imperium has grown stagnant, decadent and corrupt, and that Humanity’s survival can only be achieved by totally rebuilding its every institution and facet.

Polypsykana – The Polypsykana are unified as a faction by one inconvenient but incontrovertible truth: Humanity is evolving, and the entity known as the psyker is the species’ future. As a faction, they seek to guide Humanity in this transformation, overcoming the inertia of fear and intolerance and exploring the as-yet untapped potential of the psychic being. Moderate members of the Polypsykana merely seek to safely identify, nurture and protect psykers, from their fellow Humans, Warp Entities and Daemonkind, while others seek to develop a greater understanding and utilisation of the psyker through technology and eugenic breeding programmes. Yet more extreme members seek to advance Humanity’s ‘ascension’ to the next stage of evolution.

Xanthism – Xanthites believe in harnessing the Warp to the Inquisition’s ends. Whilst they are most commonly found amongst operatives of the Ordo Malleus, who seek to turn the energies and weapons of Chaos back upon itself, numerous operatives in the Ordos Hereticus and Xenos have found Warp-based tools equally puissant. The extent and extremity of a Xanthite’s radicalism largely depends upon where they draw the line in acceptable tools: psykers (according to some Puritans), Warp-based technology, Daemon-possessed weaponry, Daemonhosts or even sorcery all represent a spectrum upon which Xanthites range. Typically, to be a Xanthite means not only availing oneself of the Warp, but striving to understand its nature – both to guard against potential catastrophe, but also to employ it in more effective and even novel manners. More extreme Xanthites believe that Chaos in an unconquerable foe – a dark reflection of Humanity – and thus while they do not advocate surrendering to it, they seek a means to harness it akin to Astropaths and Navigators.

Xeno Hybris – A mirroring in many regards of the Xanthite faction, the followers of the Xeno Hybris philosophy seek to achieve an understanding of the myriad alien races that inhabit the Galaxy. For some, this effort is merely so they can better manipulate or exterminate them as lesser vermin, for others it is so they can avail themselves of Xenos technology, whilst the most radical actively seek cooperation and an exchange of knowledge with the Xenos so that the sentient races of the Galaxy might stand united against the common foe of Chaos.