Rogue Trader - Orthesian Legacy
For 10,000 years, the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Mankind has been the bastion of the human race. With over a million worlds and a population running into countless thousands of billions, it is the largest empire in the galaxy of the 41st millennium. For a hundred long centuries the Imperium has endured, surviving disasters, heresies, and invasions from alien races intent on the extinction of Humanity. It has resisted all of this through its greatest strengths—the immortal Beneficent Emperor of Mankind and His vast armies and fleets.
Though the Emperor is a shattered, withered creature, He still watches over and guides humankind from the restorative essences, elixirs, and billowing alchemical gases of the Golden Throne of Terra. Through His vast psychic powers, the Emperor directs the Imperium’s warships through the nightmare realm of warp space. It is said that He foresees the many possible futures of the human race, and steers humanity so that it may overcome the many trials and challenges ahead.
Without the Emperor, the Imperium would be unable to move its armies and fleets to combat its enemies and enforce its rule. The Imperium would degenerate into a hundreds of small empires clamouring for power while aliens and other monstrous creatures devoured and destroyed Mankind.
The Imperium itself is inconceivably vast, spanning many thousands of light years, and it would require months, even years, of travel to traverse it. More than a million worlds with more than a million different cultures make up humanity, and the discovery of new star systems and new planets are forever expanding the Emperor’s domains, fuelling mankind’s eternal hunger for more resources, more space.
Even to systems close to Terra, the Emperor and the Imperium He embodies are but names for distant, almost supernatural forces, which are revered and praised from afar. Many citizens labour their entire lives, enduring strife and toiling hard to survive the adversity of life in the 41st millennium, without even being aware of the Imperium except as a children’s story. For others, the Imperium is very real, the iron fist of control tight around their necks, instilling the law and order Mankind must have to prevail.
Harsh discipline and scant mercy are essential for survival in these turbulent times. It is an age of great upheaval for Humanity. With every passing year, more and more people display powerful psychic talents. If these so-called ‘rogue psykers’ are not controlled or purged, the erratic and awesome forces they can unwittingly unleash may destroy whole settlements, even worlds. Those with the necessary mental strength and fortitude can be trained by the forces of the Imperium to use their strange powers to benefit mankind.
As powerful as it is, the Imperium does not rule the entire galaxy. Mankind’s worlds are spread thin across the 200 trillion stars that make up the galaxy. Within the Imperium’s vague borders are rebellious enclaves of human worlds, domains ruled over by alien war leaders, or colonies of creatures too aloof or too basic to disturb Mankind or draw the attention of the war fleets. The Imperium is embroiled in a constant state of war, sometimes simply continuing its wars of expansion, other times fighting against foes who threaten the survival of the entire human race.
Institutions of the Imperium
High Lords of Terra
Mankind’s stellar empire is governed by a body of twelve of the most powerful leaders of the organisations in the Imperium. It is they who rule the Imperium in the Emperor’s name. Out on the fringes they are a distant legend, but their reach is long, and their power can be felt even beyond the borders of the Imperium.
Also known as the Priesthood of Earth, or more simply as the Adeptus, the Adeptus Terra consists of many millions of dedicated servants and religious followers whose duty is to interpret and enforce the Imperial will, as passed down by the High Lords. It is the Adeptus Terra that actually controls the Imperium, including its armies and fleets. The Adeptus Terra is divided into many departments and sub-departments, some of which operate so secretly that their existence is unknown outside of their own membership.
The Adeptus Ministorum
To countless billions, the Emperor is nothing less than a god to whom they devote their entire lives. Over the aeons, this faith has spawned a vast and powerful organisation devoted to His worship—the Adeptus Ministorum, more often known as the Ecclesiarchy, after its chief high priest, the Ecclesiarch. The Adeptus Ministorum is a very powerful organisation with its own crusading armies in the form of the Adepta Sororitas.
The Imperial Guard
The Imperial Guard is divided into many armies stationed throughout the Imperium in order to protect it from alien invasion and internal rebellion. The Guard is the main fighting force of the Imperium, far outnumbering the more specialised Space Marines.
The Officio Assassinorum
The Office of Assassins is an important tool of Imperial government. If planetary governors prove rebellious, assassination may be the most practical remedy. Even the ranks of the Adeptus Terra are not safe from the attentions of the Assassins.
The Inquisition is one of the most widely known, and feared, organisations of the Imperium. Its mandate is to investigate and stop any threat to the Imperium and mankind, and it will use whatever means it must to ensure this goal is met. Individual Inquisitors are free-roaming trouble-shooters bound by no laws or authority. There are no bounds to the Inquisitor’s field of operation—alien plots, administrative inefficiency, corruption, mutations, crime, secret cults, heresy, and unauthorised psychic activities all come under his jurisdiction.
Inquisitors can act alone, but more often than not they are accompanied by an entourage of retainers and warriors who have been requisitioned to help them with the task at hand. Any of the Imperium’s many fighting forces may be pressed into the service of an Inquisitor—the greater the perceived threat to humanity, the greater are the forces gathered to fight it.
No world, no organisation, no individual, is immune to the Inquisition’s gaze; planetary governors, even the High Lords themselves, are subject to investigation and no treachery or betrayal of the Emperor is too petty to be left unpunished. However, it is the psyker that commands the majority of an Inquisitor’s time. Untrained or deviant psykers represent a terrible threat to humanity, and it is the pursuit of these that has earned the Inquisitor the name of witch-hunter across the galaxy.