Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Warhammer 40,000: Inquisition

Go To
One cannot consider the fate of a single man, nor ten, nor a hundred, nor a thousand. Billions live or die by our actions, and we have not the luxury to count the cost.
Inquisitor-Lord Kryptman

In Warhammer 40,000, the Holy Orders of the Emperor's Inquisition (referred to as simply the Inquisition) are the men and women whose task is to police all aspects of Imperial culture, rooting out threats that are not necessarily military in nature but which threaten the very structure of the Imperium.

State Sec with a side of Church Militant, Inquisitors are some of the most powerful individuals in the Imperium, working behind the scenes to keep everything from going (further) to Hell. They can command civil authorities, the Imperial Guard, the Navy, agents of the Officio Assassinorum, even the Astartes (though they are wise enough to tread carefully in the last case, usually requesting their help instead of just ordering them around). They have the power of Judge, Jury, and Executioner over individuals or whole worlds. They are fully competent in the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, using any method possible to root out the Imperium's enemies, though their readiness to use the "Nine Actions" varies greatly. Though presented as a unified if extremely intimidating front to the Imperium at large, in reality the Inquisition is a hotbed of backstabbing and intrigue, as patient detectives rub shoulders with frothing religious zealots, Puritans hunt Radicals foolish enough to try and turn the weapons of the enemy against them, and a variety of philosophical outlooks struggle amongst themselves for dominance.


The Inquisition is divided into three major orders, called Ordos, and a larger number of minor orders; the vast majority of Inquisitors seen in the fluff belong to one of the major orders. Each Ordo is tailored to combat a specific preferred enemy and has a Chamber Militant best suited for fighting that enemy:

    open/close all folders 
    Major Ordos 
  • The Ordo Hereticus, or Witch Hunters, fight heresy against the Imperial faith and hunt mutants and unlicensed psykers. Originally established to police the Ecclesiarchy, they are closely associated with the Adepta Sororitas.
  • The Ordo Malleus, or Daemonhunters, fight Chaos directly, and work with the Grey Knights, Chapter 666 of the Adeptus Astartes, the people even normal Space Marines consider badass in comparison, with holy armour and sanctified psychic weapons.
  • The Ordo Xenos, the Alien Hunters, still haven't received a codex. They are more scholarly than the other orders, studying alien races for weaknesses and undermining and destroying those that present a threat to the Imperium. This doesn't remove their secret-police role, as they often investigate and stop alien political and religious influence on the fringes of Imperial space. Their military backup is the Deathwatch, a force consisting of Space Marines from various chapters who are especially adept and experienced at battling xenos. The Deathwatch have received their own Codex, and their own spinoff RPG.

    Minor Ordos 
  • The Ordo Aegis: Responsible for the Cadian Gate.
  • The Ordo Astartes: Dedicated to the investigation and policing of the Space Marines.
  • The Ordo Astra: Oversee and study stellar maps.
  • The Ordo Barbarus: Monitors pre-industrial human worlds.
  • The Ordo Chronos: A secretive and relatively unknown order that studied time. The entire order inexplicably disappeared without a trace, only to reappear in M42. According to Roboute Guilliman, it's currently embroiled in a civil war over the Imperial Dating system.
  • The Ordo Custodum: Responsible for Holy Terra.
  • The Ordo Excorium: Dedicated to ensuring the Inquisition's power of Exterminatus is not misused, and oversees and maintains the weaponry required for the job.
  • The Ordo Machinum: Dedicated to the investigation and policing of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
  • The Ordo Maledictum: Founded in M42 to investigate the chain of warp storms known as the Great Rift, with the intent of driving back or even closing it entirely.
  • The Ordo Militarum: Dedicated to the investigation and policing of the Astra Militarum.
  • The Ordo Sanctorum: Dedicated to the investigation and policing of the Ecclesiarchy.
  • The Ordo Sicarius: Dedicated to the investigation and policing of the Officio Assassinorum.
  • The Ordo Obsoletus: Dedicated to the investigation of unexplained natural phenomena or miracles throughout the Imperium, since such events can be evidence of the involvement of the Dark Powers or other unknown dangers. Essentially, they investigate affairs that cannot be immediately tied to a known danger and act as a watchdog group working on things too weird for others to understand.
  • The Ordo Originatus: An order dedicated to discovering the true history of the Inquisition beneath the propaganda, lies, myth, and legend, in case humanity should gain some advantage from its study.
  • The Ordo Redactus: An order dedicated to obscuring the true history of the Inquisition with propaganda, lies, myth, and legend, in case its enemies should gain some advantage from its study.
  • The Ordo Scriptorum: Dedicated to the examination of the giant and chaotic Imperial archives on Holy Terra and cutting through Administratum red tape.
  • The Ordo Sepulturum: An ad hoc order convened during the 13th Black Crusade to investigate and combat the zombie plague. Currently researches plagues afflicting the Imperium and determines how best to contain, destroy, and cure them.
  • The Ordo Desolatus: Unknown purpose. Currently only has one member.
  • The Ordo Senatorum: Unknown purpose.
  • The Ordo Thanatos: Unknown purpose.
  • The Ordo Necros: Unknown purpose.
  • The Ordo Vigilus: Oversees the Ordo Necros.

The large scale miniature RPG Inquisitor also introduced the concept of Inquisitorial philosophies to justify and explain Inquisitor vs. Inquisitor in-fighting. The philosophies usually differ in what the ultimate 'goal' of defeating heresy is and what methods are most appropriate to accomplish it: Puritans believe strongly in following official Imperial doctrine, while Radicals believe that the greater goals justify diverging from principle. Philosophies aren't set in stone and Inquisitors are known to slide from one to another over the course of their careers.


  • Monodominants: Extremists who believe in a Manifest Destiny for pure humans only and focus on the destruction of all that is not human. Can usually be found zealously hunting down aliens, daemons, heretics, mutants and witches with extreme prejudice and little regard for subtlety or overkill. The stereotypical In-Universe "face" of the Inquisition and found in any of the Ordos, but most stereotypically Malleus or Hereticus.
  • Amalathians: Believe that the existence of the Imperium is due to divine mandate and that anything that destabilizes or changes things is a bad thing. They conservatively and subtly maintain the Imperium in its present state. Often presented as the most "reasonable" faction; Inquisitor protagonists in the setting's novels are (or at least start out as) this sect. Usually belong to the Ordo Hereticus or Ordo Xenos.
  • Thorians: Believe that the Emperor needs to be healed or reborn, and that the rise of certain great men or prophets in the Imperium are signs of his (so far failed) attempts to do so. Known to seek out humans who may be prophets of the Emperor or possible vessels for his rebirth, and study the mysteries of the Warp. Common in the Ordo Malleus.
    • Anomolian Beholders: A conservative Thorian sub-faction who believe that their goal is not to accelerate the Emperor's resurrection, merely to watch humanity for His arrival. They generally travel the length and breadth of the galaxy, investigating reports of charismatic popular leaders or saints. Considered level-headed and pragmatic, if somewhat eccentric, by their fellow Inquisitors.
    • Ardentities: A Thorian sub-faction who believe that the Emperor's return will not take the form of a single Divine Avatar, but rather a group or the entirety of Mankind itself. Considered by their peers to be good investigators but rather eccentric.


  • Recongregationists: Believe the Imperium is decadent, crippled and corrupt and seek to reform it from the bottom up, or failing that to tear it down and rebuild it from the ruins. They often incite social change, popular uprisings and rebellions on planets, and are the eternal bane of corrupt nobles and Amalathians. Most common in the Ordo Hereticus.
  • Istvaanians: Believe in Social Darwinism and that conflicts make the Imperium stronger by weeding out the weak. They tend to support aggressive expansions, crusades, and internal rebellions to keep the Forever War going, especially in areas that have been peaceful for too long. Usually belong to the Ordo Hereticus and (to a lesser degree) Ordo Xenos.
  • Xanthists: Extremists who believe that humanity is holding itself back by failing to exploit the Warp properly. They study all manner of forbidden lore, summon daemons and employ Chaos artifacts for the good of humanity while advocating avoiding being seduced by the lure of Chaos, which is a tenuous road to walk at best. Almost exclusively belong to the Ordo Malleus, and are usually presented as the stereotypical villains in works that feature Inquisition antagonists, having gone too far down the slippery slope and become the very thing they say they're fighting against.
  • Horusians: An extremist Thorian sub-faction who believe the best way to resurrect the Emperor is using the power of the Warp, synthesizing Thorianism and Xanthism. They believe that the power of Chaos that manifested itself in Warmaster Horus was a wasted opportunity for mankind and that his power could have been harnessed to lead humanity to a better future. Considered batshit insane, dangerous liabilities by everyone except themselves.

Although they receive most of their focus in the background material and the Specialist Game Inquisitor, the Inquisition have had rules in the main Warhammer 40,000 game since its 1st Edition, when they consisted of nothing more than regular Inquisitors and the secretive Ordo Malleus. The organisation received their first two codices, Codex: Daemonhunters and Codex: Witch Hunters, during the 3rd Edition of the game where they were listed alongside the Grey Knights and the Adepta Sororitas respectively. The 6th Edition of the game saw the release of the digital-only Codex: Inquisition, their only solo sourcebook to date. During 7th Edition the rules for the Inquisition were included in Codex: Imperial Agents alongside the other smaller Imperial sub-factions. The 8th Edition Inquisition rules were included in the Index: Imperium 2 sourcebook released in June 2017 before being updated in the Index Imperialis: Inquisition article published in the November 2019 issue of White Dwarf.

    General Inquisitorial tropes 

  • Asskicking Equals Authority: You're not going to become an Inquisitor unless you're one of the baddest fighters and spies in the Imperium, and you've survived both battles against the Imperium's enemies and the lethal backstabbing of the Inquisitorial cadre.
  • Badass Longcoat: Many of the more militant and puritanical Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus are depicted, in models and artwork, wearing long coats over their armour to reinforce their traditional witch hunter visual theme.
  • Boxed Crook: More pragmatic Inquisitors will often recruit heretics, mutants and aliens into their retinues, usually with some form of Restraining Bolt. Some of the more intrepid Radical Inquisitors even go so far as to employ boxed Daemons. Not only does the Inquisitor benefit from the knowledge such tainted individuals possess, they are also eminently disposable.
  • Burn the Witch!: The traditional punishment that many Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors deal out to unsanctioned psykers found on Imperial planets is to publicly burn them with some background material referencing entire road systems lined with the charred remains of heretical psykers. If a population proves too corrupted to be salvaged, many Inquisitors will order entire planets burned.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: While the Inquisition have a well-deserved reputation for using torture as both a means of acquiring information and as a punishment, even going so far as to have official torture doctrines to follow, in practice the use of torture depends on the Inquisitor themselves. Some Inquisitors will include professional torturers as part of their retinue or carry their own personal torture equipment so that they can question their subjects, even in the heat of battle. Other Inquisitors, however, find that it is far easier to have a psychic interrogator forcefully extract the information from the subject's mind.
  • Demon Slaying: The Ordo Malleus specializes in the hunting, banishment and destruction of daemonic threats to the Imperium. To fulfil this most perilous mission, daemonhunting Inquisitors utilise numerous arcane and powerful artefacts such as consecrated daemonhammers, Hexagrammic Wards and even, in the case of more radical Inquisitors, daemon weapons.
  • The Dreaded: The Holy Orders of the Emperor's Inquisition are the epitome of this trope, even outside the Imperium. One does not want to be on their bad side. In Brothers of the Snake, one especially irritating Imperial aristocrat, who has belittled and actually physically assaulted Space Marines when they attempt a Flashed-Badge Hijack of her skycar, breaks down in terror and runs away when a servo-skull shows her the Inquisition's sigil.
  • Drop the Hammer: The Nemesis Daemon hammer is the Weapon of Choice for the more militant members of the Daemon hunting Ordo Malleus note . These powerful force weapons enhance the, already considerable, power of a thunder hammer with the psychic abilities of the wielder to destroy the physical body of a daemon, or anything else that they strike. In the 7th and 8th Editions of the game, Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus are the only characters, outside of the Grey Knights, who can wield these powerful weapons.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: The "Nine Actions", nine stages of intensity used in interrogating suspects. The farther you go down, the more brutal the interrogation:
  • Exposition Beam: Some psychic Inquisitors are able to use their powers to insert important knowledge directly into their follower’s brains. The 8th Edition Index Imperialis: Inquisition rules represent this with the Ordo Malleus psychic power, Power Through Knowledge that gives a nearby unit a special save to represent them knowing how the enemy is likely to attack.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Some heretics or blasphemers may be ordered to undergo the rites of Arco-Flagellation as an extreme act of repentance. This involves lopping off the condemned's hands and replacing them with power flails or other nasty weapons, sticking his back full of combat drug dispensers, and lots of mental conditioning. The result is a wasted, wiry cyborg who wears a hood displaying calming religious images, but with the right command word the visor retracts, the stim-packs activate, and the former heretic goes berserk.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The ancient inferno pistol known as Ignis Judicium is a blessed relic of the Ordo Hereticus that is said to burn particularly hot when turned upon witches and traitors. The 8th Edition Index Imperialis: Inqusition rules represent this by giving the relic a bonus to its Damage when used against Chaos units and psykers.
  • Government Conspiracy: Expect the Inquisition to be in on several, unless they are investigating one. Of course, those two states are not mutually exclusive.
  • He Knows Too Much: Inquisitors are known for requisitioning Imperial Guard regiments, and sometimes ordering the grunts killed after being exposed to whatever it was they were called on to help deal with. See Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? below for one instance of this going very wrong.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Most Radical Inquisitors were once Puritans who later succumbed to pragmatism. While Ordo Xenos Inquisitors who are thought to be too deeply involved or enamored with alien races and their tech can fall prey to this, it more commonly happens when those of the Ordo Malleus start using daemonhosts and other Chaos-tainted means to fight daemons. These Inquisitors almost always meet their end at the blade of a Grey Knight or fellow Inquisitor, having become the very thing they vowed to purge...if they're not destroyed by their own tools first.
  • Heroic Willpower: A prerequisite for being an Inquisitor. Given the sanity-blasting horrors they must face, the awful truths they must confront, and the extreme measures they may be called upon to perform, it's necessary that they be able to carry on with absolute faith and conviction in their cause. Of course, this is also what tends to reinforce their Knight Templar tendencies as well.
  • The Inquisitor General: Despite having such as an almost literal rank, this is not the primary role of the Inquisition, but it often falls under their umbrella of responsibility. An Inquisitor's job is to suspect everyone of heresy, and the more influential the person in question the more Inquisitorial scrutiny they will be under. This includes planetary governors, rogue traders, major military leaders, and other Inquisitors.
  • Inspector Javert: The less unstable and pugnacious Inquisitors sometimes end up in this role, pitted against the rare well-intentioned rebels like the Soul Drinkers, or more often Imperial servants with conflicting orders.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Inquisitors who are resolved in their cause are sometimes fond of announcing their intentions with a little ceremonial declaration, usually beginning:
    "In fealty to the God Emperor, our Undying Lord, and by the Grace of the Golden Throne..."
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: The Inquisition's motto is "Innocence Proves Nothing." Few dare question if an Inquisitor decides someone is just guilty enough for a dangerous but high-paying retinue position, a Fate Worse than Death, or a simple bolt round to the head.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope:
    • Occupational hazard for any enforcer with a blank check, but far more common than betrayal or simple abuse of power as a villainous Inquisitor's Start of Darkness.
    • The main reason for the saying "Every Inquisitor starts off a puritan and becomes a radical." The idea being that the more an Inquisitor learns about the nature of the universe, the more sacrifices they have to make to secure the Imperium, the more compromises they make to get what they need, the more radical they become. A big source of Right Hand Versus Left Hand in the Inquisition is disagreements about where the edge of that slope is, and how far down it is too far.
  • Kangaroo Court: Inquisitors (especially Puritans) are notorious for organizing these, although many don't even bother with going through the motions of a trial. When they do form one though, the purpose is not to determine innocence or guilt ("Innocence Proves Nothing" after all) but to make a grand and obvious show for the rest of the population so they know what to expect should they too walk down the path of heresy.
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: The Inquisition collects and stores banned, heretical, and downright dangerous knowledge to stop it from falling into the wrong hands and sometimes, in the case of the more liberally-minded Inquisitors, to use it as a last resort against the enemies of the Imperium.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: The usual way to become an Inquisitor is to be selected as an Acolyte by another Inquisitor, and then work your way up, until you become an Inquisitor yourself and raise your own cadre of acolytes.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Some Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus arm themselves with condemnor boltguns. These archaic weapons combine a bolter with a crossbow that fires stakes inscribed with arcane symbols that are anathema to psykers, often causing their powers to go out of control until they destroy themselves. The exact rules for condemnor boltguns vary with edition but always do additional damage against psykers.
  • The Mole: The more extremist Radical factions often have agendas that either run directly contrary to official Imperium policy or seriously undermine its security (or both). These sorts include the Recongregators and the Isstvanians, who deliberately act to stir up trouble and undermine the government; the Polypsykana, who believe that psykers are the next phase in human evolution and not only run underground railroads to protect them but also operate Super Breeding Programs to make more of them; the Seculos Attendous, who work to destroy the Ecclesiarchy; and the Phaenonites, who actively work to destroy the rest of the Inquisition and overthrow the Adeptus Terra so they can take over (among other nasty things they like to do).
  • Mutant Draft Board: The Inquisition gets first pick of those psykers who pass through the Scholastia Psykana's training for Imperial service. Thus, while pskyers are rare in Imperial service in general they are relatively common in the Inquisition itself, with many eventually becoming full Inquisitors themselves.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: The Inquisition will go to any extreme to ensure that threats to the Imperium are defeated, up to and including killing untold billions of innocents by subjecting the planet in question to Exterminatus.
  • Omnicidal Maniac:
    • The Monodominants, a Puritan faction, which maintains that the only way humanity can survive is to wipe out everything that isn't human. While this isn't an unreasonable idea given what is lurking in the galaxy, the Monodominants take it a bit further than necessary, up to and including the psykers and mutants that the Imperium needs to continue functioning.
    • More extreme elements of the Recongregationists, a Radical faction, take this one step further. They include the moderate factions, the other Radical factions, the Ecclesiarchy, most of the Cult Mechanicus, the Arbites etc... The Departmento Munitorium, Officio Assassinorum and Adeptus Astartes are just about the only things they don't want dead, although they would like to "streamline" these groups.
  • Only Sane Employee:
    • Inquisitor Amberly Vail of Ciaphas Cain fame shows noticeable self-awareness about the Inquisition's lack of...restraint in discharging their duties.
    • On a larger level, the Amalathians, a Puritan faction, attempt to keep the established structure of the Imperium running as well as possible, rather than seeking change or trying to impose a draconian standard of purity. You'd think a group that believes the Imperium at present is perfect would be off their rocker, but they actually encourage cooperation, instead of the bureaucratic infighting so common with the Imperium.
    • On the other side of the Radical divide, most Recongregators are often very hard to distinguish from their Puritan counterparts, and in fact usually think other Radicals are insane. They just have a different end goal in mind than Amalathians, and as often as not they're targeting actual problems in the Imperium—the problem is that changing anything in the Imperium is a risky proposition, at best.
  • Poisoned Weapon: Some Inquisitors of the Ordo Xenos coat their weapons with esoteric poisons that can kill all but the largest of alien creatures. The 8th Edition Index Imperialis: Inquisition rules represent this with the Bio-Corrosive Poisons Relic of the Imperium that makes it easier for the Inquisitor’s melee weapons to wound non-vehicle or Titanic enemies.
  • Powered Armour:
    • The Inquisition have their own unique pattern of power armour, known as Ignatus pattern power armour in some background material. While it may lack some of the more advanced systems of Astartes power armour, it offers just as much protection as that used by the Emperor's Finest. This is only represented in some editions of the game, however, with the 8th Edition rules giving their armour slightly less protection than that worn by the Astartes.
    • Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus are the only non-Astartes able to be equipped with Tactical Dreadnought Armour, although how they are able to control such powerful and sophisticated suits without the Black Carapace of an Astartes has never been explained in the background material.
  • Properly Paranoid: An Inquisitor's job is to suspect everyone of heresy, and to purge that heresy when they find it. Naturally this tends to lead to a rather paranoid world-view, but an Inquisitor who slacks in their alertness or stays their hand is a poor Inquisitor indeed, for the price of being lax in their vigilance can be entire worlds lost to humanity.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The members of an Inquisitor's entourage are typically chosen for their talents rather than their background or service record. Depending on the beliefs and methods of the Inquisitor, this can mean that their retinues can include such diverse characters as former Arbites, religious assassins, abhumans, alien mercenaries, condemned criminals, fanatical priests, mutant abominations and/or enslaved daemons.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: You've got your standard turf wars between the three Ordos; open violence between Radicals and Puritans; wrangling between the Thorians, Amalthians, and Monodominants; and battles by proxy between Inquisitors who don't know that they're working on the same case — or, depending on the egos involved, even when they do.
    • Supplemental materials indicate that this is actually something of a check and balance on Inquisitorial power. The power Inquisitors wield makes them necessarily accountable to other Inquisitors, with the infighting, or simple potential for infighting, forcing them to use a degree of restraint in that authority, and keeping any one Inquisitor from acting unilaterally.
    • The 2013 Inquisition codex mentions two new Ordos: The Ordo Originatus is dedicated to finding information about the organization's origin and past to better protect mankind, and the Ordo Redactus is dedicated to erasing all records of the Inquisition's actions to prevent it being used by the enemies of mankind.
    • Also prevalent in how they treat other organisations in the Imperium. Some elements of the Inquisition are perfectly happy to covertly wipe out a chapter of Space Marines during one of the greatest wars ever fought, just because they questioned the actions of one of their members.
  • Signature Headgear: To strengthen their witch hunter visual theme, many of the models and much of the artwork depict Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus as wearing capotains, the traditional headwear of Real Life Puritans and witch hunters, in addition to their Badass Longcoats.
  • The Spymaster: Every Inquisitor is expected to be this, possessing a web of informants, assets, moles, double-agents, sympathizers, and often outright traitors. One of the greatest the assets the Inquisition has is that between all the Ordos, almost nothing occurs in the Imperium without someone in the organization knowing about it, and they're damn sure to make every average citizen well aware of this. Getting them to do something in time, though...
  • Taking the Bullet: The Acolytes who make up the majority of an Inquisitor’s retinue are fanatically loyal to their master, willing to protect them with their very lives. The 8th Edition rules for Acolytes represent this by giving them a chance to take a mortal wound in place of a hit that a nearby Inquisitor suffers.
  • Token Evil Teammate: On a faction level. No one in the Imperium is squeaky clean, but if someone who should be an ally is going to oppose the protagonists of a 40K story or be too extreme for them, it will be an Inquisitor.
  • Weapon of X Slaying: Each rare Blade of the Ordo was specifically created to destroy the enemy of the section of the Inquisition that they belong to, be they alien, heretic or daemon. In the Index Imperium: Inquisition rulesnote , these powerful relics have superior base characteristics to a regular power sword and an additional bonus when used against the Quarry of the Inquisitor that wields them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: While this is one of the more pleasant ways to describe them as a whole, within the context of the Inqusition itself, this is practically the definition of a "Radical", an Inquisitor who uses means to secure the Imperium that other Inqusitors would find questionable. There is a lot of room for Grey-and-Gray Morality in this. For example, a Radical Inquisitor might use Human Sacrifice to form a daemonhost bound to them to eliminate a critical threat. This is obviously a break from mainline Imperial dogma and methods, but what if the alternative is purging the entire planet so-threatened? At this point, which approach is more "extreme" is a matter of some debate, In-Universe.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The Inquisition in general steers well clear of the Space Wolves, and especially Logan Grimnar, after their sterilization of the population of Armageddon after the First War led to all-out war with the Space Wolves, who strongly objected to such tactics (along with the Inquisition firing on Space Wolf vessels while under a truce negotiation). Some in the Inquisition and Ecclesiarchy would dearly love to have the Wolves declared traitors, and have tried on occasion, but the potential fallout of the Wolves' retaliation is too great to risk and the few efforts that have been made have come to naught.
  • Witch Hunt:
    • A standard tactic, particularly for Monodominants.
    • The Ordo Hereticus approaches this two ways. Their responsibilities include both apprehending rogue psykers and running the Black Ships, a massive fleet of vessels that travels across the Imperium gathering Imperial worlds' tithes of psykers and bringing them to Terra for testing. Those who are sufficiently stable and powerful are usually pressed into various Imperial roles, such as Astropaths or even Inquisitorial trainees. Those who aren't, if they haven't already been terminated for being too dangerous, are used to fuel the Golden Throne and Astronomican. Many of them also like to dress like stereotypical witch hunters, hat and all.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Overlaps with He Knows Too Much. It is very hard to simply retire from an Inquisitor's retinue. The only ones exempt from this are regular Space Marines (nobody who makes it to Inquisitor is that stupid; their battle-brothers would take it very personally).

    Tropes applying to Puritan factions 


Inquisitors of the Amalathian creed work towards Imperial unity and are staunch defenders of the status quo.

  • The Fundamentalist: The Libricars are extremist Amalthians who are violently determined to enforce Status Quo Is God on the Imperium. Other Amalthians consider them a perversion of the Amalthianism creed, and they are, of course, bitter enemies to the Recongregators.
  • Only Sane Employee: They're not usually raving zealots like the Monodominants or religious visionaries like the Thorians, and they don't mess about with Chaos or xenos stuff.
  • Status Quo Is God: This is the essence of their belief system: the Imperium is the way it is because of the Emperor's will, and you shouldn't mess with it.
  • Token Evil Teammate: It does have to be said that Fyodor Karamazov, who is an Amalathian, is a bit of a wingnut.
  • Token Good Teammate: Play this role to the rest of the Inquisition. They're still the State Sec for the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable, so a bit of a low bar is being set, but they focus on Imperial cohesion and generally ask nicely when requisitioning things like Guard regiments as opposed to stomping in and demanding it. (It's still usually mandatory to say yes though.)


The Thorians are the latest Resurrectionist faction to become prominent within the Inquisition. Inspired by the achievements of Sebastian Thor in ending Goge Vandire's tyrannical Reign of Blood, they believe that the Emperor works through mortal agents, and that with some work, He can be returned to mortal flesh. They have two Puritan sub-factions: the Anomalian Beholders, who want to wait for the Emperor's return rather than attempt to bring it about, and the Ardentites, who believe that the Emperor will work His will through all humanity, rather than specific individuals. There are also three Radical Thorian offshoots; Casophilians (focused on studying how to draw deceased souls back from the Warp), Horusians (see the Radicals folder) and Revivificationism (study death and dying in hopes of learning how to reverse the process and ultimately revive the Emperor).

  • Divine Intervention: They believe that Sebastian Thor was directly empowered by the God-Emperor, and watch for others empowered in this way.
  • Give Me a Sign: Actively pursue anything that could be miraculous.
  • Mission from God: Or more accurately Mission to Find God and Bring Him Back.
  • Necromancer: The Casophilians and Revivificationism philosophies both study death, dying and the souls of the deceased with the ultimate hope of learning how to restore life to the dead. The Casophilians focus on conjuring, binding, commanding and otherwise manipulating deceased souls through Warpcraft, whilst Revivificationism focuses more on soul-binding and physical healing.
  • Reincarnation: The Thorians believe that the best way to save the Imperium is to bring about the reincarnation of the Emperor of Mankind.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Occasionally the saints they study turn out to have more sinister allegiances.


The least subtle Puritan faction, the Monodominants believe that the Imperium is the only thing that deserves to survive. They tend towards the least subtlety possible in pursuit of their goals, generally trampling over everything in their path, which often annoys more subtle Inquisitors, such as everyone.

  • Black-and-White Insanity: Not that the less ultra-Puritan types are necessarily paragons of rationality, but the Monodominants would do away with all psykers and mutants, including the Astropaths and Navigators that allow the Imperium to function.
  • The Fundamentalist: When the Thorians, who literally spend their time looking for miracles, come across as less religiously zealous than you, you have a problem.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Invoked by the Oblationists, a Radical subcreed who believe that they should be willing to damn themselves by using "unclean" weaponry in their battles against aliens, mutants and daemons. They view themselves as martyr-warriors, but don't trust non-Oblationists to have the strength of will to control their forbidden powers or tools until they achieve a successful martyrdom.
  • The Horseshoe Effect: The Oblationists are a Radical offshoot of Monodominism who have, in effect, fused the philosophies of Monodominism with Xanthism and Xeno Hybris; they believe in taking up "unclean" Warp powers, alien technology, etc. to better battle humanity's enemies... whilst also believing that only they have the ability or right to do so, and all others must be purged with typical Monodominant zealotry if they even think of trying.
  • Religious Bruiser: Monodominants are the most violently religious Inquisitors.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Other Inquisitors feel this way about them, but don't speak up too loudly about it because the fear the Monodominants create with their excessive and indiscriminate tactics helps make their own jobs easier.
  • Token Evil Teammate: They're mostly counted as Puritans because they do hate xenos, witch and daemonic influence. Sure, they're maniacs, but that's not necessarily a downside in the Imperium.

    Tropes applying to Radical factions 


The Xanthite faction is the face of Radicalism in the Inquisition, dedicated to turning the power of Chaos back against itself. They tend to have a low success rate.

  • Eat the Summoner: A leading cause of death among the dumber members of the Xanthites is their being overwhelmed by the Chaotic forces they sought to summon and control.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Xanthites hold that the best way to defeat Chaos is to use Chaotic artifacts and bound daemonhosts against it. Most of them end up getting killed by said artifacts and daemons. Worse, some of them don't.
  • Good Counterpart: To the Phaenonites, and calling the Xanthites the good version of anything is a bad sign.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Individual Xanthites may take more or less time to go nuts, but a lot of them do, in fact, go nuts.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: Their attitude toward the Warp, once they learn of the considerable power it can exert, is to start wondering how much the Imperium could benefit from the use of Warp-based powers, weapons and other esoterica. In general, this tends to fall into the version of the trope where the wonderful new tool's side effects and dangers aren't given due consideration and disaster ensues.
  • Start X to Stop X: They aim to use Warp power to fight Warp power. And also aliens while they're at it.


The Recongregationists believe that the Imperium has become corrupt and stagnant, and must be rebuilt. Naturally, being Inquisitors, their approach to this tends to be a bit intense.

  • The Extremist Was Right: It has to be pointed out that when they say the Imperium is hidebound, stagnant and crumbling, they're not wrong, and the setting's current Big Good, Roboute Guilliman, would probably agree with their assessment... although not their methods.
  • Internal Reformist: Their basic aim is to rebuild the Imperium from the inside, stripping away its corrupt hierarchies, stagnant bureaucracies and inefficient structures in order to give it new vitality and dynamism.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The faction is defined by this, spending as much time plotting to reshape the Imperium, whether world-by-world or from the top down, as they do investigating threats. Their methods may range from involvement in political intrigues to fostering the same rebellions other Inquisitors are trying to prevent.


The Istvaanians believe that the Imperium attains its greatest power in times of crisis, pointing to events like the Horus Heresy. As a result, they tend to act to bring about war and mayhem in order to strengthen the Imperium — while also reinforcing Imperial forces.

  • The Social Darwinist: Istvaanians believe that the Imperium grows stronger through conflict. If a particular sector of the Imperium has had it too easy, they might arrange a conflict to hit it, just to make sure it stays on its toes. In an lot of cases, they might set up a "crucible of fire" just to ensure that only the strong survive it. They will carefully observe such conflicts for potential strong candidates that they can groom for positions of influence to further strengthen the Imperium. That said, they prefer to keep such conflict limited and controllable. After all, their goal is to strengthen the Imperium, not batter it down.
  • Warhawk: Even by Imperial standards. These are the people who think the Imperium's problem, in the middle of four separate Forever Wars, is that it's not doing enough fighting.


Horusians, like Thorians, believe that the Emperor of Mankind needs to be brought back into the flesh. The big difference is that the Horusians want to use the power of Chaos to create an avatar of the Emperor, while the Thorians would prefer exactly not that.

  • Banishing Ritual: Some experiment with exorcising daemons to see what effect that has on the host.
  • Evil Counterpart: Like the Thorians, they want to bring the Emperor back to flesh. Unlike the Thorians, they explicitly want to do this by creating an avatar of Chaos.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: More than a few end up seduced by the powers of Chaos.


One of the more minor Radical factions, the Ocularians believe that the Imperium must master the art of precognition, and that by learning how to successfully divine the future they can also change it to better suit their desires. A subgroup, the Antiquarti, believes that mastering precognition also requires mastering postcognition, and so they study the past in an effort to be able to better recognize the shape of things to come.

  • Magitek: Whilst the Ocularians largely focus on psionics as a mean to divine the future, some turn to alliances with the Adeptus Mechanicus in hopes of constructing analytical machines that can do the divination instead.
  • Seers: The defining focus of the Ocularians is, of course, their focus on trying to see the future. Many Inquisitors of this faction are psykers with oracular and/or extrasensory abilities, and even those who aren't usually practice divination rituals.
  • Token Good Teammate: Ocularians and Antiquarti serve to emphasize the "Radical doesn't mean Evil" aspect of the setting. Neither faction has inherently malicious or anti-Imperial goals, they simply have beliefs that are intolerable to some Puritans (primarily Monodominants).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: It's not unheard of for some Ocularians to end up being seduced into becoming Chaos Sorcerers, usually in service to Tzeentch given his strong association with divination and temporal manipulation.


A Radical Faction rooted in the Ordo Malleus, the Plutonians believe that the best way to create warriors who can battle the forces of Chaos is by using warriors who have been possessed and then successfully exorcised. They are the secret patrons of a chapter of Space Marines called the Exorcists, who they use to put their theory into practice.
  • The Extremist Was Right: As crazy as the Plutonians' theory sounds, and as high as the casualty rate from their methods is, to the point that the Exorcists need to maintain three Scout companies to keep their recruit pool viably high, the thing is that it actually works. Those who survive an exorcism do become permanently invisible to daemonic senses, amongst other abilities.
  • Mythology Gag: The Plutonians are basically a 4th edition recreation of the Illuminati, a secret society of ex-daemonhosts in the 2nd edition of the game that were trying to guide the fate of humanity from the shadows.


Believing that humanity's destiny is to evolve into a naturally psionic species, similar to the Eldar, Inquisitors of the Polypsykana faction strive to protect psykers from abuse by the more anti-psyker elements of Imperial society, to find ways to protect psykers from daemonic influence, and to awaken psionic abilities in a wider swathe of the human population.

  • Super Supremacist: Polypsykanas believe that psykers are superior to baseline humanity, and want to uplift humanity to all be psykers.

Seculos Attendous

Possibly a splinter sect of Recongregationism, inquisitors of the Seculos Attendous believe that the Ecclesiarchy and the Imperial Faith are active detriments to humanity's survival, and that their influence over the Imperium must be curtailed for the good of the Imperium.

  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The Seculos Attendous are a faction defined by their hostility towards religion in general and the Ecclesiarchy in particular.
  • Villain Has a Point: Given the well-documented tendencies for the Ecclesiarchy to be a Corrupt Church at war with itself over sectarian differences and its propensity to squander the wealth of systems for self-aggrandizement and self-benefit, the Attendous does have a point that it actively impedes the Imperium sometimes.

Xenos Hybris

A Radical faction from the Ordo Xenos, the Hybris believe that not all aliens are evil and the Imperium would actually be better served by actively allying with non-hostile races so they can pool their collective strengths against real threats, like orks, tyranidds or Chaos.

  • The Extremist Was Right: Whilst the major alien races that the game focuses on are, for obvious reasons, largely Always Chaotic Evil, it's actually canon that there are lots of alien races in the galaxy who aren't inherently evil, but are hostile to the Imperium either because they were attacked first or they've heard of the Imperium's preference to exterminating all non-humans. Even the T'au, Craftworld Eldar and Exodite Eldar aren't all bad. So applying more nuance to the xenocide laws and forging common alliances against the real threats of the galaxy? Actually is a pretty sensible idea.

    Prominent Inquisitors 

For information about literary adventures of Gregor Eisenhorn, Gideon Ravenor, and Amberly Vail, see their respective links. Other Inquisitors of note include:

Torquemada Coteaz, High Protector of the Formosa Sector
There are amongst our Ordo who say that I seek advancement for my own purposes, and they are correct. My purpose is to destroy the daemonic and if I must rise to command an entire sector to do so, then so be it. I am a servant of the Emperor and only those who consort with Warp-spawn need fear my ambition.

A fanatical member of the Ordo Malleus, Torquemada Coteaz is single-minded in determination in eradicating the daemonic threat to the Imperium. The most prominent member of the Inquisition in the Formosa Sector, Coteaz has an extensive network of followers, informants, spies and henchmen that keep him informed about everything that goes on in his sphere of influence. Due to his advancing years, Inquisitor Coteaz is becoming increasingly worried that he will die before fulfilling his duty, and has begun taking an increased interest in almost any method that could extend his lifespan.

  • Demon Slaying: Coteaz is almost fanatically devoted to his duties as a daemon hunter.
  • Drop the Hammer: His favored weapon is a consecrated daemonhammer.
  • Familiar: His two-headed Glovodan Eagle, which he focuses his psyker powers through in order to gain far-reaching information on his environs.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: He is seen as a paragon by many in his own Ordo for remaining steadfastly Puritan throughout his career and viciously purging any sign of daemonic corruption or other Warp taint.
  • Klingon Promotion: Coteaz denounced Inquisitor Laredian as a radical and killed him after presenting his evidence, which led to him taking Laredian's position as Inquisitor Lord.
  • Longevity Treatment: Due to his advanced age, Coteaz is determined to find a way to extend his life so he can continue his work, even if it means resorting to xenos techniques. The temptation to resort to daemonic means hovers near him, but so far he's resisted it.
  • The Spymaster: He maintains a vast network of moles and informants across the Formosa Sector, ranging from PDF personnel and Ecclesiarchs to hive gangs. It's said that if three citizens gather together, at least two of them will be telling Coteaz about the meeting.

Fyodor Karamazov, Pyrophant Judge of Salem Proctor
There is no such thing as a plea of innocence in my court, a plea of innocence is guilty of wasting my time. Guilty.

A ruthless and feared member of the Ordo Hereticus, Fyodor Karamazov is an ardent follower of the Amalathian philosophy, believing that any deviation from the Emperor's plan for humanity is worthy of sanction. Holding court from his intimidating Throne of Judgement, the uncompromising Karamazov has left a trail of burning heretics across half the galaxy.

  • Arch-Enemy: The Ecclesiarchy and Thorian Inquisitors loathe Karamazov, due to his handing of a scandal on Salem Proctor that trampled over the agents of those factions who were already on the scene. Although Karamazov was eventually proven correct, his tactics made him many enemies.
  • Cool Chair: The Throne of Judgment, presented to Karamazov when he became an Inquisitor Lord. It's a massive throne on the legs of a Dreadnought, armed with a multi-melta and crewed by two servitors, one manning the melta and one acting as a scribe for Karamazov's judgments.
  • The Dreaded: Karamazov's reputation for being an uncompromising judge and an unforgiving hunter of the unclean has made him one of the most feared Inquisitors in the Imperium. Karamazov's mere presence on the battlefield can unnerve the tainted, something that the 8th Edition of the rules represents with the 'Dread Reputation' ability that forces nearby psykers to take penalties while trying to manifest Psychic Powers and gives enemy troops a penalty to their Leadership.
  • Hanging Judge: Karamazov is infamously uncompromising, believing that even the most minor deviation from the Emperor's divine plan is worth the harshest of punishments. Anyone who finds themselves brought before Karamazov can expect nothing less than the harshest of punishments, even if they are innocent of the charges, as the Lord Inquisitor believes that anyone who appears guilty when the are innocent are halfwits guilty of wasting the valuable time of the Emperor’s servants.
  • Knight Templar: His foes and detractors see him as taking his duties far beyond any reasonable limit, and potentially having executed thousands of innocents.
  • The Witch Hunter: Karamazov prosecutes heretics and rogue psykers to an exceptional extreme.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Hurt? Try torturing a preacher kid for six months straight for accusations of false prophethood despite nearly all of the Ecclesiarchy demanding you not to do so, only to then burn the child alive and give them the charred corpse. Granted, Fyodor did indeed discover that there were Chaos-worshippers amongst the followers of the child, but the Ecclesiarchy still has not forgiven him for this.

Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax, Eye of the Emperor
Faith. In the right hands, it is Humanity's greatest weapon. Yet even the finest blade is rendered fallible by its wielder. In the wrong hands, the mighty sword of faith can do more hurt to the Emperor's realm than can all the treacherous Daemons of the Warp combined. This is why those who profess to be the most holy amongst us must be put to the sternest test.

Katarinya Greyfax is a member of the Ordo Hereticus and a powerful psyker who had been imprisoned within the collection of Trazyn the Infinite for many years. Released to aid the defence of Cadia against Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade, Greyfax was one of the handful of survivors to retreat from the doomed planet. Travelling to Ultramar with the other survivors and the xenos Ynnari, Greyfax was present for the resurrection of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman and accompanied him on his Terran Crusade. Since the opening of the Great Rift, Greyfax has continued to fight in defence of the Imperium and undertake important missions on behalf of the reborn Primarch.

  • A God Am I: Well, almost. She doesn't see herself as a deity, but she does consider herself to be the very eye of the Emperor himself.
  • Combat Stilettos: Katarinya’s power armour incorporates a pair of high heels in the style of classic depictions of the armour worn by the Adepta Sororitas, as a hint to the origin of the suit.
  • The Dreaded: Many other inquisitors fear her and considers her a radical for her mighty use of psyker abilities and lack of mercy.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Ends up becoming this with Celestine due to their shared experiences and ultimately accepts Celestine after Roboute Guilliman is resurrected (which is something that the Chaos gods would not have wanted).
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Word Of God is that Katarinya was held captive by the Necron overlord Trazyn the Infinite in his museum on Solemnace for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. This is reflected in some of the antiquated design elements of her armor, such as her backpack having smokestacks and what appears to be a pressure gauge. She is also stated to be shocked at modern Imperial practices such as open use of psykers and Wulfen on the battlefield or open worship of Saint Celestine, which she sees as heresy and idolatry.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: As with some other psykers approved by the Imperium, she is tasked with hunting down unwanted psykers.
  • Living Lie-Detector: Inquisitor Greyfax's prodigious telepathic abilities allow her to detect whenever anyone lies to her. This ability aids her considerably in routing out heresy as the tainted thoughts of the accused damn themselves.
  • Mage Killer: Armed with Psyk-Out grenades and a Psyocculum (an eye-device meant to track down psykers), Katarinya is well equipped to fulfil her quest to destroy heretical psykers.
  • Named Weapon: Inquisitor Greyfax wields Tyrantslayer, an ancient and superbly crafted power sword that has ended the lives of countless heretics.
  • No, You: This tends to be her reply to whenever she is accused of being a heretic, due to hailing from a time when the definition of heresy was rather different compared to the current orthodoxy. For example, where most people consider her psychic powers to be vile and see Celestine as a paragon of Imperial virtue, she herself sees her powers as a blessing from the Emperor himself while seeing Celestine as a foul freak.
  • Powered Armour: Katarinya wears archaic power armor that takes many design cues from the power armor worn by the Sisters of Battle, hinting that she was once a Battle Sister or received her armor from them.
  • Psychic Powers: Katarinya is a formidably powerful psyker. In-game, she can attempt to cast one psychic power and make two Deny the Witch rolls each turn, and gets a +1 boost to her Deny rolls.
  • Restraining Bolt: Trazyn has infected Greyfax with nano-mindshackle scarabs that prevent her from causing him any harm. This situation is something that the puritanical Inquisitor finds intolerable, enough so that she submitted to an extremely painful procedure to have them purged from her body.
  • Sword and Gun: Power sword and Condemnor Boltgun, to be more precise.
  • The Witch Hunter: You don't join the Ordo Hereticus without being a darn good one. She also teams up with the Black Templars on Cadia, who are known for their zealous hatred of non-human psykers.

Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn

An Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos, Gregor Eisenhorn began his career as an Amalathian Puritan, only to slowly develop into a Radical Xanthite and has been declared a renegade at least three times. A powerful psyker and a competent warrior, Eisenhorn fights the enemies of the Imperium as he sees fit.

NOTE: This entry is for Eisenhorn's appearance in the main Tabletop Game. Tropes relating to events in the Eisenhorn novel series and his appearance in the Inquisitor Gaiden Game should go on those pages.

  • Anti-Vehicle: Inquisitor Eisenhorn is armed with electrobane grenades, devices that destroy the circuitry of enemy vehicles. The 8th Edition Index Imperium: Inquisition rules represent these grenades by giving them a chance of inflicting mortal wounds on any Vehicle they hit.
  • Cool Sword: In battle, Eisenhorn carries Barbarisater, a powerful force sword he inherited from one of his fallen followers. The weapon is perfectly balanced, and appears to be semi-sentient, something the 8th Edition rules represent with a bonus to hit.
  • Dual Wielding: In melee, Eisenhorn wields both his runestaff and the mighty force sword Barbarister, making him one of the only characters in the game, outside of the Grey Knights, to wield a pair of force weapons.
  • Summoning Artifact: Eisenhorn carries the Malus Codicium, a daemonic Tome of Eldritch Lore that he acquired from the renegade Inquisitor Quixos that can be used to create Daemonhosts. In the 8th Edition rules, Eisenhorn is able to use this profane tome to summon a superior Daemonhost, representing Cherubael, to the battlefield.

Lord Inquisitor Kyria Draxus
A great silence has fallen. A moment of still terror as the universe prepares for death. Our darkest hour grows ever darker. And in the battle ahead, there will be no blood to mark our passing. Just the husks of men and women reduced to...Nothing. We must marshal what strength remains. We must trust in the armour of faith. We must deafen the stars with our wrath. Lest we fail, and humanity falls to a final silence.

A radical Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos, Kyria Draxus came to prominence after the opening of the Great Rift and believes that the awakened Necrons are just as much of a threat to the Imperium as the rise of Chaos.

  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: The psychic bond that Kyria shares with her xenos familiar Shang allows her to see through its eyes, giving her a greater view of her surrounds that, in-game, allows her to ignore the usual targeting restrictions of the basic Smite psychic power.
  • Shoulder-Sized Dragon: Shang, Draxus' familiar that usually sits on her shoulder or forearm, is a Wyvachs, a psychic xenospecies that resembles a wyvern. While Shang's body is around the size of a bird of prey, its wingspan is as larger than its mistress’ arm span, and its tail is as long as she is tall.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As a radical Inquisitor, she is not above using xenos weaponry and alien creatures in her fight against those that threaten the Imperium.

See also Bequin, Dark Heresy.

End of the Page? HERESY!