For the sake of clarity, the following terminology will be used. ‘Operative’ refers to any member of the Inquisition above the rank of ‘Acolyte’. ‘Inquisitor’ refers to those bearing that title. ‘(Throne) Agent’ refers to those who work directly alongside Inquisitors as their most trusted comrades-in-arms. ‘Acolyte’ refers to those low-ranking minions who (wittingly or otherwise) risk their lives on investigations and nigh-suicidal missions across the Galaxy.
While the Inquisition may exist parallel (and, indeed, superior) to the rest of the Imperium’s hierarchy and organisation, that is not to say it lacks its own labyrinthine structure. Indeed, with the Inquisition’s emphasis on informal standing between largely equal peers, its structure is vastly more tangled and nebulous than even the most gordian of Administratum offices.
The Ordos Majoris
Also known as the three ‘Great Ordos’, the Ordos Majoris function as a universal spine for the Inquisition’s structure throughout every sector of the Imperium. Divided into the Ordo Hereticus, Ordo Xenos and Ordo Malleus, they represent the broadest and most common specialisations into which Inquisitors and their Agents can enter. While no operative is bound to a single Ordo, and is free to pursue whatever investigations they deem necessary, it is often only a matter of time before decades, even centuries, of expertise and experience render an operative far more capable of dealing with one such threat than the other two. Thus an operative’s Ordo is an indication of their general remit, with only the most immediate or terrible of crises usually necessitating their intervention in the absence of a more capable operative.
As organisations, the Ordos Majoris function largely as support networks. Operatives within a single Ordo will forward information on potential leads to other operatives, either because they are more proximate or possess more relevant expertise; they may collaborate on research or knowledge-sharing in a particularly specialised field; they may provide support to their peers, whether in the form of intelligence or martial assets, when faced with a threat of suitable magnitude; and they often provide an implicit power base with which to back up their members whenever they claim a particular investigation as their jurisdiction.
The Ordo Hereticus – Burdened with policing the trillions of Humans that populate the Imperium, operatives of the Ordo Hereticus count within their remit psykers, mutants and anyone who falls within the rubric of ‘traitor’ or ‘heretic’. As a result, while Hereticus operatives are most commonly known as Witch Hunters, the vast bulk of their work is actually of a political and religious nature: pursuing those who rebel against the Imperium’s fascistic rule or its oppressive dogma.
The Ordo Xenos – Despite millennia of genocidal conquest, the Galaxy remains inhabited by innumerate alien species, and it falls to the operatives of the Ordo Xenos to guard Humanity against them. Not only does this necessitate taking the fight to their home-worlds, but also rooting out their influence within the Imperium, as well as cataloguing their ways and means for future generations.
The Ordo Malleus – Generally thought of as Daemon Hunters, the Ordo Malleus’ remit is, in truth, somewhat wider: its operatives stand watch over the border between reality and the Warp. While this means much of their efforts are committed towards rooting out, preventing or terminating Daemonic incursions into realspace, they also focus on the strange and supernatural threats posed by other Warp entities.
The Chambers Militant
As the backbone of the Inquisition, the Ordos Majoris have ten millennia of political affiliations and alliances to call upon, and these have crystallised into the Chambers Militant: the military arms of the three Ordos, born from ancient pacts formed with the Imperium’s most powerful armed forces. Of limited number and invariably in greater demand than they can meet, the Chambers Militant are peerless combatants the Ordos call upon only in the most desperate of situations, to devastating effect.
The Order of the White Rose – Drawn from the Adeptas Sodalitas, the Order support the Ordo Hereticus’ purgation of psykers, mutants, traitors and heretics with unparalleled zeal and steel-melting promethium.
The Final Watch – Veterans of the bloodiest campaigns against the alien menace, the Watch brings together elite Astartes warriors from scores of different Chapters into surgical Kill Teams for the Ordo Xenos’ most dangerous missions.
The Hooded Knights – Secretive even amongst the Astartes, the Knights are trained to combat one enemy and one alone: Daemonkind. Potent psykers, and equipped with the finest weaponry, they are the Ordo Malleus’ ultimate weapon.
The Ordos Minoris
The Inquisition’s reach is limitless and its authority inexhaustible. No aspect of the Imperium, or indeed the entire Galaxy, is beyond their influence. Thus, while the Ordos Majoris focus on the three greatest threats to Humanity, the Ordos Minoris focus on altogether more particular and obscure interests, and as a result command less membership, resources and influence. The sole exception is when a matter falls within their narrow jurisdiction, in which case their expertise is expected to trump all but the highest ranking operatives.
For at least the first season of Inquisition Chronicles, we want to focus on the Ordos Majoris. As a result, we will not be accepting characters – Inquisitors or otherwise – who are members of any Ordo Minoris. Characters are, of course, encouraged to have links with them, whether positive or negative, but to encourage initial relationships and dynamics between PCs, we will be restricting Ordo membership solely to the Majoris.
Conclaves are semi-permanent alliances between multiple operatives, often reaching across Ordos boundaries and philosophical differences, formed in order to achieve a major long-term objective. Whether to investigate a particular mystery, defend against an overwhelming threat, or for some other pressing reason, conclaves are called together by a particularly influential operative to pool valuable resources, expertise and knowledge, and usually come with a considerable investment of the convoker’s own resources, and of those of the Inquisition itself. Usually stretching on for multiple millennia in length, conclaves become fixtures of a sector’s Inquisition as newly recruited operatives join their ranks, or established operatives pass membership down to their successors.
While members of a conclave are entirely free to pursue their own personal investigations, research and political agenda, it is strongly expected that they will give conclaves to which they are members, and the objectives they were established to achieve, a relatively high priority. Behaviour that disrupts the conclave, or undermines its efforts, is one of the quickest ways for an operative to earn the opprobrium of their peers and superiors, while service above and beyond what is expected can reap considerable favours and support.
A particular variant of the conclave is the ‘regional conclave’: encompassing every Inquisitor in a particular sector of the Imperium, regardless of Ordo or philosophy, these conclaves function as the de facto sector governance for the Inquisition’s operations. Often commanding a pool of resources, ranging from warships to artefacts, books to installations, a regional conclave is, to all intents and purposes, the Inquisition in its sector. With the sole, albeit vast, objective of maintaining the Imperium’s stability within its jurisdiction, regional conclaves are capable of exerting considerable force, both covertly and overtly, to enforce their will. Furthermore, regional conclaves act as judge, jury and executioner in matters of operatives’ transgressions – when operatives within a sector are suspected of turning traitor, going rogue or sinking into heresy, it is the regional conclave that puts them on trial, or issues a carta for their extermination.
The Consilium – Traceable all the way back to the Inquisition’s earliest centuries during the Great Scouring, the Consilium is an ancient and hallowed practice. In briefest and simplest terms, the Consilium is a bicameral parliament for the regional conclave that allows its operatives, both Inquisitors and their Agents, to vote on certain Inquisition matters. The Court is composed of the conclave’s Inquisitors and is presided over by the three Ordo Masters; the Assembly, on the other hand, gathers together the Agents under the Grandmaster. Throughout the organisation’s ten thousand year history, it has proven an immensely successful institution: allowing the principle of Puritans and the pragmatism of Radicals to balance the path of a regional conclave, and ensuring that while operatives do not always get their way, they will always get a say. Most of the Inquisition’s particularly stable conclaves, or their most successful campaigns against Humanity’s enemies, can be attributed to the balanced wisdom of a Consilium.
Cabals are much smaller groupings of operatives, often existing for a far briefer period of time and established for a much more specific and immediate objective. While many cabals are established on the covert instruction of a larger, overarching conclave to address some particular facet of their effort, an equal amount are established secretly amongst operatives to realise some shared agenda or vision. Due to their more focussed and secretive nature, cabals are often more unified in terms of Ordo membership or philosophical beliefs, and guard their secrets jealously.
Every Inquisitor operates their own independent cadre of Agents and acolytes, ranging anywhere between a personal team of trusted elite agents, to a sector-wide network of acolytes carrying out their orders even if it costs them their own lives.