The Death Cult is a group within the Imperium that expresses their worship through the art and exploration of death. Death and blood underpin human existence. It is a common truism that only through continued blood-sacrifice in the face of a hostile universe will mankind prevail, a sacrifice likened in the Imperial Creed to the bodily sacrifice of the Emperor Himself. So it is in these beliefs that Death Cults flourish within the Imperium, a dark shadow of the more readily recognised sects of the Imperial faith, making them some of the most dangerous heretical cults that the Inquisition can encounter. Some are no doubt deluded, corrupted by the Ruinous Powers or swayed by far older and more terrible influences, but many are devout followers of the Golden Throne. To these individuals, every death, every cut, every welling of blood is an act of worship to the immortal Emperor of Mankind. Such Death Cults can vary widely in purpose, creed, makeup, and scope, but even the least suspect walks something of a tightrope between the sublime and the damned. Most so-called Death Cults, despite their differences, can be divided into three broad categories:
Perhaps the most commonplace and famed sub-division of the Death Cults, Sanguinary Cults focus on the act of bloodshed itself the manifold art of killing and the moment of extinction. Often honing the skills of the assassin beyond the ken of normal men, such cults are tolerated or at least wilfully ignored by the Imperial authorities despite their heretical and even vampiric tendencies. This tolerance is because they are known to be implacable in their hatred of mankind's enemies, supplying the Adeptus Ministorum and the Inquisition with invaluable adepts of murder and fanatical killers loyal to the cause. Some have even more shadowy connections to the mysterious Officio Assassinorum, the secret organisation that provides unparalleled adepts of murder for the High Lords of Terra. Many Sanguinary Cults spring into being in the fertile soil provided by the harsh conditions found on many Feral and Feudal Worlds. However, the shadows of the underhive, the viperous intrigues of the noble's court, and even the travails of deep space can equally create the conditions where ritual societies dedicated to the deadly arts of the blade, bullet, and poison can flourish.
The Calixis Sector has numerous such Sanguinary Cults and sacrificial societies present scattered across many worlds, and indeed, the population of the outcast Feudal World of Fervious is largely governed by them. The most famous of the Death Cultists, without doubt, are the assassin-mystics of the Moritat, which has sub-cults and cells operating right across the sector and indeed beyond.
Necrophagic Cults are the most blatantly heretical and terrible of all Death Cults, with sects often springing up on worlds ravaged by incessant warfare or planet-wide famine, pandemic disease, or other terrible disasters. In desperation and often goaded by outside influence, the people's faith and devotion take on an increasingly malign turn, with human sacrifice, cannibalism, and necrotic rituals becoming widespread. In such cases the members of these cults rapidly become irretrievably insane and physically corrupt, and are often the playthings of Warp entities, while the vile leaders of such cults walk a tightrope between burgeoning malefic power and utter madness. Necrophagic Cults are never tolerated by the Imperial authorities and are hounded to destruction wherever uncovered.
Within the Calixis Sector, Necrophagic Cults have been known to spring up in the wake of long-burning wars (as has happened on Tranch and Malice in recent years), on isolated and savage worlds such as Endrite, and in the dark Space Hulks and other vessels in space where stricken survivors or desperate stowaways devolve into a form of mutant cannibal known to the voiders as Ghillam or Hold-Gaunts. But of all these tales, none can compare to the ancient stories of the appalling Saynay Clan of Dusk, whose half-mythic ghoulish histories have given the children of the Calixis Sector nightmares for centuries.
Rarely encountered but insidious in nature, Resurrectionist Cults ultimately seek to conquer the secrets of life and death itself. Some Resurrectionist Cults preach a doctrine of the Emperor's triumph over death and the conquest of human weakness, while others entreat darker masters, pursue utterly forbidden sciences, or hide baleful xenos or Warp-spawned influences at their hearts. Often they espouse the goal of attaining physical immortality for the faithful and will go to unspeakable lengths to obtain their ends.
More so than even the Sanguinary Cults, these groups attract insane and desperate individuals to their ranks, those who have lost everything, become the most degenerate Heretics or follow the wildest of deviant creeds. Some Resurrectionists even practice ritual revivification to indoctrinate their members. The most extreme examples of such sects believe that the Emperor's plan is for mankind to follow him into a blessed "immortality of the flesh." They even claim that it is possible through the use of utterly forbidden archeaotech to free the Emperor from the Golden Throne to walk among His people, "dead-but-alive-everlasting" to quote the darkly renowned Credo Mortifex. Such cults are hated by both the Adeptus Ministorum and the Adeptus Mechanicus and must throw up a murderous veil of secrecy and superstition in order to survive.
Saints are those mortals who, by formal pronouncement of the Ecclesiarchy, have been elevated by the Emperor's grace far above the bulk of humanity. They are exceptionally holy individuals, and their words and deeds are held to be the direct work of the God-Emperor Himself. Throughout the ten thousand standard years of the Age of the Imperium, millions of men and women have been recognised as saints, in many cases long after their death and only after several Terran decades of consideration. Most are known and venerated only within a specific region, but some, such as Sebastian Thor himself, are known across the length and breadth of the Imperium. Men and women may be declared saints for all manner of deeds, but in most cases they will have performed some great service to the Imperium and the faith of the Imperial Creed. In a galaxy riven by war, it should be no surprise that many were great warriors, often leaders of massive Imperial Crusades that conquered vast swathes of space, or liberators of human worlds enslaved by aliens or recidivists. Many were generals or admirals, while others were simple foot soldiers who by doing their duty, turned the tide of battle and molded history.
Other saints were great teachers or orators, men and women who with a single word or missive could achieve what a million Imperial Guardsmen could not. The writers of the most learned of religious tracts are also often made saints, lending even greater weight to teachings preached across countless planets. Furthermore, it is common practice for Ecclesiarchs to be declared saints after death, although the "beatification" of less well-respected or beloved individuals may take standard decades or even centuries to come about. Many are regarded as intercessors, to whom prayers are addressed and offerings are made to aid the faithful. It is held that the saint, being human but also close to the God-Emperor, might be able to petition the Emperor and bring about some tangible effect. Saints may come to be regarded as able to intercede on specific issues, such as to provide deliverance from oppressors, safe passage through the Warp, a successful crop or a warrior's true aim. Given that such a vast pantheon of saints exists, the matters on which they are said to be able to intercede are often extremely specialised. Some regiments of the Imperial Guard, for example, hold that there is a specific saint for every single one of the thousands of marks of standard-issue Lasgun.
Just as the Imperial Cults allow cultures and peoples to integrate the superstitions of their worlds and ways of life into the larger Imperial Creed, so too do saints offer the common citizen a focus for their devotion more personal and approachable than that of the God-Emperor alone. Saint worship is seen by the Imperial Church as an aspect of worship of the God-Emperor the reasoning being that all saints rise up to become one with Him. Therefore, to revere a saint is to revere the Emperor. That being said, the Ministorum is meticulous in who or what is deemed a "saint" and even the entire support of a planet or star system is sometimes not enough for them to be considered legitimate. For example, within the Calixis Sector, there are at least a score or more of true saints, sanctioned by the Ecclesiarchy and recognised as high up as the Segmentum Obscurus Synod, while hundreds more lesser or unsanctioned saints are still worshiped on worlds all across the sector. Though they risk punitive measures from the Church, or in extreme cases the brand of heresy from the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition, those not truly approved continue to rise up from the notable deeds and legends of common (and not so common) men and women.
There is a fine line between saints and martyrs, and in many cases those who achieve sainthood only do so through martyrdom. However the numbers of martyrs far outweigh the lists of the saints, though they are still honoured and remembered in their own way. Martyrs are examples held up by the Church as a lesson in the ultimate expression of faith and the righteous conclusion of a life lived in the service of the God-Emperor. The worlds of the Calixis Sector are riddled with martyrs, from the well known ones, like the seventeen Holy Martyrs of Gallowglass, Sisters of Battle who gave their lives in a heroic last stand, to the nearly forgotten, like the Lost Pilgrim, who represents those that stray from the trails of pilgrimage and disappear into the void.
Quite often an individual or group will be remembered for many standard years as a martyr or martyrs before their deeds are considered great enough to be raised to sainthood. Such an example is the Tranch War Saint, a nameless Imperial Guardsman said to have fallen in the Tranch War only to rise up and fight again at the side of his comrades no less than thirteen times despite terrible, mortal wounds. From reports given by the Departmento Munitorum and numerous Commissars, there has been a movement to raise this nameless soldier up to sainthood for his martyrdom and he has been repeatedly put forward on the Festival of Saints for the consideration of the Sector Synod. To date, they have only deemed him a martyr of exceptional faith and not yet granted the mantle of sainthood.
Living Saints are those members of the Adepta Sororitas who are said to be so holy in mind, body and spirit that they somehow manifest something of the sacred power of the Emperor Himself. Living Saints are not beatified after their death, but rather are spontaneous manifestations of the Emperor's grace. Living Saints literally glow with power, and even the least faithful will have no choice but to collapse to his knees in her presence. A Living Saint will usually, though not always, manifest from among the ranks of the Adepta Sororitas, of whom are all strictly female. Typically, the manifestation of a Living Saint will presage some great endeavour, in which countless millions of the faithful take up arms in the name of the Emperor and truly extraordinary feats are performed. Sadly, the phenomenon is often short-lived, for it appears that the Living Saints are beacons of faith that burn blindingly bright, yet tragically brief. Before her death, however, a Living Saint will have changed the course of history for the better. Living Saints are of great interest to the Thorian faction of the Inquisition, who regard them as vessels of the Emperor's power in the model of Sebastian Thor himself. This also makes them a target for the enemies of the faction, who have on several occasions sought to capture a Living Saint and dissect her in order to discover the source of her powers.
Most saints have their own holy days that are specific to them and their deeds (such as Saint Drusus). However, the Festival of Saints provides a day for all saints to be honoured, as well as a time when new saints may join their ranks. This is especially important for very minor saints, such as Yorgic Thrice-Branded or Ewerft the Handless, who have small followings and little power within the Ecclesiarchy. During this time, stories are told and devout followers try and convert people by extolling the virtues and merits of their chosen saint. As a result, it can be a dangerous (or at least frightening) time to go near to a shrine as citizens are accosted by frothing saint worshippers dressed in bizarre costumes and spouting proverbs. Causing an equally strong response is enough for the chance of being raised to sainthood. While it is uncommon for anyone to be so bold as to try and claim that they themselves should be ordained (though there are a few that have tried some with surprisingly good cases), every voice seems to know of someone who died serving the Emperor and thus deserves the eternal recognition of the Ecclesiarchy. As a result, the clerics and priests are subjected to long lines of supplicants and must listen to countless solar hours of prattle to then judge whether any are worthy of the greater attention of the Ecclesiarchy.
Whenever a lost human culture is discovered or a new colony is founded, a missionary must journey to that world to take responsibility for its spiritual enlightenment, using whatever tools are most expedient. For some colonies, the missionary’s responsibility can be limited, as other servants of the Ecclesiarchy participate in the colonisation effort. For newly recovered worlds, the task is often far more challenging.
In these instances, the missionary must first absorb and learn the ways of the native society and its religion, if one exists. As he comes to grips with the culture, he must identify practices and teachings that can be refined to become consistent with the ways of the Imperial Creed.
A missionary's ultimate goal on any new world is to convert its existing populace to the Imperial Creed, but this is no trivial matter. Often, a missionary must work without any support. As the sole representative of the Imperium, the missionary serves as an ambassador to the entire planet. Given the scale of this task, many missionaries attempt to institute a gradual and subtle reform that can subtly gain traction within the planet’s culture rather than trying to violently overwhelm the local beliefs immediately by force of arms or raw charisma.
Missionaries frequently begin implementing such changes by integrating portions of the Imperial Creed into the planet’s native belief system. This might be a simple matter of substituting the Emperor and his saints for the roles of deities within the world’s pantheon. In other circumstances, a solution could require more extreme, violent actions or could take longterm planning. A missionary might have to design a system for a far more gradual conversion process. By placing facets of the Imperial Creed subversively into the culture, a missionary can help to lay the groundwork for his successor—sometimes one who only arrives centuries or millennia later. Ideally, the foundation the first missionary creates opportunities for future missionaries to exploit in the signs and prophecies the first leaves behind, ensuring that even if he cannot succeed in his lifetime, the Imperium will triumph long after his death.
The precise tenets of the Creed that missionaries espouse can vary substantially. Some are generous to a fault, granting the Emperor’s pardon for past crimes, while winning the population over with charm and assistance. Those who follow this path are often more dependent upon their impassioned speech and vast body of knowledge. Others pursue a more militant course, often with the assistance of particularly zealous converts or even the forces of the Imperial Guard. Missionaries who employ this pattern might initiate a holy war against the planet’s native religions or they might use the power of the Imperium as a tool while they ferret out threats to humanity. Still others work from the shadows, acting to subtly introduce the Imperial Creed so that the inhabitants never truly realise a change has occurred.
The Missionaries of the Missionarius Galaxia are a special breed of Imperial servant, and although they operate under the auspices of the Cardinals Palatine, they are in practice a nigh autonomous body within the Adeptus Ministorum. The Missionaries are tasked with accompanying all manner of expeditions into regions of the galaxy lost or previously unknown to the Imperium. Whether it be aboard Imperial Guard vessels launching a crusade to retake a sector lost to alien invasion, or in the retinue of a daring Rogue Trader penetrating the dark, unexplored regions of the galaxy, Missionaries bear the flame of the Imperial Creed wherever they go, and with it kindle the faith of those long separated from the true faith.
Upon the discovery of a new or lost human culture out among the stars, it is the task of the Missionarius Galaxia to study all he can of its society and religion. He is ever watchful for ways in which the culture’s religious practices and teachings can be subtly altered, to bring them broadly into line with the Imperial Creed. Practices dubbed benighted or barbaric may be supplanted with more suitable ones, though often some symbolism is allowed to remain to lend a sense of continuity. For example, necrophagia – the eating of the dead – is a practise proscribed by the Imperial Creed, but when it is encountered in savage cultures it may be replaced with the symbolic consumption of a particular totem animal. Equally, the worship of a pantheon of multiple gods will be replaced with that of a host of Imperial Saints, each chosen because they embody something of the qualities associated with each of the deposed deities.
The men and women of the Missionarius Galaxia are supremely skilled orators and diplomats, and they must also be cunning and resourceful to survive contact with often barbaric or belligerent cultures. They have the skill to recognise when an impassioned sermon will change the course of an entire planetary history, or when they must instead retreat into the shadows and lay plans that will not see fruition in their own lifetime. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the Ministorum’s officers regard the Missionaries as mavericks and reckless adventurers, but the truth is that they are the bedrock on which the faith of multitudes is built.
For millennia, there have been a number of systems that have existed in a state of disorder and darkness, cut off from the Imperium and the Emperor's word. When these lost regions of space are re-opened, missionaries of the Missionarius Galaxia are among the first to enter the vast and wild regions in search of lost human populations that they might illuminate (and exploit) in the name of the Emperor. These explorers often take passage aboard any vessel able to carry them into the vastness of the unexplored regions, from Imperial Navy warships to Rogue Trader caravels, and immediately set to reintroducing the Emperor's light to whatever human populations they discover. A missionary endeavouring to reclaim a human population that has forgotten its duties to the Emperor and his mortal agents has a difficult task ahead of him. Even after finding a stable human population amidst the countless glimmering stars of the forgotten areas of space, the missionary must make successful contact. This requires extensive work on his part, and very likely on the part of others who he impresses into his service in the name of spreading the Emperor's word across the forgotten spans of void that lie beyond the bounds of the Imperium. Rogue Traders are required to render assistance to missionaries in travelling between the stars, and many pious (or opportunistic) Rogue Traders offer considerably more help, aiding missionaries in establishing contact with rediscovered human populations, setting up operations on forgotten worlds, venturing across these lost regions in search of holy relics, bringing scattered groups into the Imperial fold, and completing the other sacred tasks to which these wandering clerics set themselves.
Example Requirements for Reclaiming a Lost Population:
The most fundamental duty of a missionary is to find the human populations far from the light of the Emperor and prepare them for the return of the Imperium, that they can be integrated seamlessly once that happens and convinced to pay their tithes with minimal protest. There are many worlds that fit this description in the Koronus Expanse, for example, and so missionaries from the Calixis Sector flock to this region. Finding these planets in the trackless void is no easy task, however. Some missionaries prefer to drift from place to place, relying on the Emperor to guide them to their intended destination. Others pore through Imperial Navy surveys, shuffle through ancient, fragmentary records from ages forgotten, or seek rumours at ports of call. Of course, as difficult as finding an appropriate planet might be, locating it is usually the simplest part of a missionary's task.
However a missionary chooses a world for conversion, his task once he arrives requires him interact with the locals. Different missionaries prefer different methods of introducing themselves. Some descend on wings of fire, stepping out of massive warships to terrify the locals into submission, while others prefer subtlety, slipping into the population unnoticed to observe it for months or even years before beginning to introduce elements of the Imperial Creed. Most missionaries seek to win allies in any new place they arrive, and so the first step in the arduous process of bringing a world back to the fold is winning over a portion of the population. This group can be a political faction, a ruling elite, a religious sect, or even a repressed substratum waiting for a liberator to arrive to rise up in revolt. For a missionary working alone, this is an incredibly daunting task, for many scattered cultures are xenophobic, and choosing the wrong faction in a power struggle can prove fatal.
A Rogue Trader and his crew can prove incredibly helpful to a missionary at this stage if they wish to assist with his Emperor-given duty (or have been coerced into doing so). Even the smallest ship with which a Rogue Trader plies the stars dwarfs most isolated populations in terms of raw military power, and the sight of landing craft descending from the sky is impressive indeed. Most missionaries who receive help from Rogue Trader allies do not simply have them fl atten the prospective population of worshippers; all but the most violently zealous can see the waste of human resources intrinsic in such a strategy. Instead, if a Rogue Trader and his crew are present, the missionary can use them as a point of contact with the local society. If there is a ruling elite, an impressive display with a few landing craft can often grant the missionary immediate access to the ears of important individuals. Further, a Rogue Trader and his crew can provide lavish gifts from beyond the stars to sway even the most worldly of local lords. If the population is divided by war, a brief display of a warship's power can frequently cow both sides into brokering a peace, for which the missionary can reasonably claim credit. Once the missionary has established channels by which he can spread his message of the Imperial Creed to a lost population, this objective can be considered complete and his true work begins.
The duty of missionaries is to spread the Imperial Creed on far-off worlds, but before they begin to speak in earnest of the Emperor and the local population's duty to Him on Earth, many missionaries choose first to listen. By learning about a culture, missionaries can most easily tailor the message to most efficiently convert the population, seeding the Emperor, Imperial Saints, and other important features of worship into the rites and religious practices of the locals rather than attempting to stamp out these long-held traditions. Studying a culture can be the work of years or decades for a lone missionary, especially if the language of the locals is not a derivation of Low Gothic or another commonly spoken tongue. While some missionaries have Sisters Dialogus of the Adepta Sororitas to assist them in translation and the study of regional mythologies, others rely on the aid of fellow scholars of a more secular bent.
A Rogue Trader's Seneschal can prove invaluable when the crew's Missionary needs to research an obscure dialect or construct a functional lexicon in a new tongue from nothing, given how these individuals are often trained in both scholarship and dozens of codes, cants, and other languages. Explorators can also be extremely helpful in this capacity, using their mastery of arcane technologies to process vast quantities of linguistic and behavioural data far more rigorously and rapidly than a Missionary could do alone. Once the representative of the Imperial faith has cracked this problem, he must analyse their beliefs, determining which ones are harmless divergences, which ones can be twisted to fi t the Imperial Creed, and which ones must be purged.
Certain practices, especially as relates to the place of psykers in a population, can be intolerable to the Imperial Creed, but most of the time, missionaries are more concerned with inserting the appropriate elements of the faith into the belief system of the natives rather than removing anything. So long as the population pays its tithes, it matters not whether they revere the Emperor as a solar deity who brings the harvest, a guardian spirit against marauding bands of twisted fiends that lurk in ancient ruins, or a god of death whose fury spills over and floods the rivers. Once the representative of the faith has studied the culture's mythology and found figures and anecdotes that can be subverted to serve the Imperial Creed, he is ready to begin the process of conversion, and this objective can be considered complete.
No matter how strong a plan to bring a world into the Imperial fold seems in theory, a missionary cannot truly know its effectiveness until he puts it to the test. If he has developed a strong understanding of a population's beliefs and found the mythological overlaps with certain critical aspects of the Imperial Creed (as he has hopefully done in the previous Objective), then the missionary knows the content of the message he should deliver to that group of people. Still, publicly reinterpreting a doctrine that has stood for centuries or millennia can be extraordinarily difficult and dangerous. The missionary must make a choice: he can either go through the keepers of religion and lore, converting the hierarchy from the top by convincing the local religious figures to support his "additions" to the local beliefs, or alternatively, he can act through the laity, convincing them that their religious leaders have overlooked or even hidden the truest interpretation of their faith. No matter which path he chooses, the priest faces various risks to his person, for he is doing nothing less than rearranging their religious structure to support the ends of the Imperium of Mankind.
Zealots, scorned hierarchs, and angry kings have all slain countless missionaries attempting to bring their worlds into the fold across the newly re-discovered regions of the galaxy. Martyrdom does not necessarily mean failure, as it might inspire revolution, religious shifts, or simply make it easier for the next missionary to complete the task. Still, most missionaries prefer to survive their labours of faith if possible. The protection of a talented Arch-Militant and other bodyguards can mean the difference between success and an excruciating death for a missionary once he has played his hand and begun the open process of converting a world. A Void-Master's skills can also be extremely helpful—the massive weaponry of the vessel he controls can silence most local armed conflicts with relative ease. Further, a good pilot is invaluable in case a missionary finds himself needing to depart in a hurry for any reason.Imperial history is littered with tales of powerful artefacts associated with the Emperor, the Primarchs, high-ranking priests and generals, or one of the masses of Imperial Saints. Most are merely legends or metaphors, their existence apocryphal. Those that do exist are jealously guarded by their possessors. Some are wielded by the High Lords of Terra or other powerful leaders in the Imperial hierarchy as marks of office, while others are kept in reliquaries or secure vaults on Terra or one of the Imperium's many Shrine Worlds. Most holy artefacts mentioned in Imperial scripture are lost, however, scattered to the stars by time, strife, misfortune, and the machinations of the Ruinous Powers. Countless individuals constantly scour the galaxy in search of lost holy artefacts, and a Rogue Trader can make a fortune from any such discovery. Artefacts can take any form, and can be something as small and simple as a finger bone or prayer book to something as powerful as a holy weapon or even an entire voidship. While some have actual mystical or holy abilities, the majority are notable simply due to their association with their original owner. Undertaking the search for a lost holy artefact is a great commitment, requiring copious amounts of scholarly research and interstellar travel as the hunter scours databanks and lost worlds alike in search of the goal. In the end, all of the time and money spent, not to mention all of the inherent danger and possible mind-bending horrors, encountered in the search for lost artefacts are considered a small price to pay by those who undertake such tasks.
Example Requirements for Recovering a Sacred Artefact:
Many Rogue Traders make a large portion of their profits by recovering ancient treasures, lost archeotech, and other items of nigh-incalculable value. Rumours of forgotten relics abound in re-discovered regions of space -- countless sacred prizes waiting to be uncovered by bold Explorers. Of course, chasing phantom treasures of any sort can ruin a Rogue Trader, and so the wise only devote their own resources to pursuing those items whose locations they can confirm in some way. If another entity or group is willing to put forth the capital for the expedition, many Rogue Traders gladly offer their services -- and those of their vessels and crews -- to those following the faded footsteps of ancient saints. Other Rogue Traders do so even if not compensated handsomely for their efforts, out of a sense of piety, as penance for past transgressions, or simply to curry favour with a powerful member of the Adeptus Ministorum or individual within the Sector nobility.
Though the Imperium is built on the bones of martyrs and every world is soaked in the blood of ancient heroes, most of these individuals are unsung, their contributions to humanity's ascension forgotten. The relics of true Imperial Saints or of other figures deemed worthy of such reverence are rare. Especially in lawless regions such as the Koronus Expanse, it can be a daunting task to set out in search of a relic with little more than rumours guiding one's search. Thus, the first step in any quest for a lost Saint's bones, a forgotten device of great power, or any other item of interest is research. A Rogue Trader and his crew must undertake considerable efforts to track down legends, scroll through ancient records, and then interpret these clues into a comprehensible map to their destination. A Seneschal's information-gathering abilities can be incredibly helpful at this stage, assisting the group in separating the wheat from the chaff as they encounter countless baseless whispers about their quarry. A Missionary's extensive knowledge of the lore of the Ecclesiarchy is also key to many of these quests. Navigators can also be crucial at this stage, using their lineages' unparalleled knowledge of the capricious Warp routes over the millennia in these lost regions to eliminate some areas and highlight others as potential regions of interest. This objective can be considered complete when the crew has sorted through the drunken voidsmens' tales, the false leads, and the cryptic clues to find the start of a trail that might lead to the relic in question.
Once the Explorers know where to start their search, they must pinpoint its exact location. Even if all of the information they received during the previous objective was once accurate, it might well have been rendered incorrect in the centuries since the whispers that the Explorers followed were first muttered. The Explorers might still have a great deal of work ahead of them even if they have tracked the relic to a single system or world. Upon their arrival, the Explorers must assess their new environment and determine the most likely resting place of the relic. Accurate sweeps by crew-members skilled in the use of their voidship's scanners could locate likely positions or populations that might provide up-to-date regional information. If the Explorers have a direct connection to the artefact in some way, or another object in some way related to it, a skilled Astropath might be able to use divination to narrow its location further. Once they have conducted a thorough examination of the region (whether that be mechanical, mystical, social, or by other means) and found an area they can explore on foot that contains the artefact, this Objective can be considered complete. The more precise the information they garner during the completion of this Objective, the more they know about the final objective, and what it requires of them.
Unfortunately, most relics of Imperial Saints and other famous figures are not simply discarded several centimetres beneath the ground, waiting for bold Explorers to exhume them. Once the Explorers have found the exact location of a given artefact, they must actually reclaim it. Liberating it from its current circumstances can be as difficult as all of the preparation that has lead up to this moment. Many such relics are hidden in the midst of ancient tombs, crashed starships, and other treacherous environs. Others are in the hands of fanatical cults both heretical and Imperial that deny outsiders any access to their treasures. The Explorers must navigate dangerous environments to reach their goal, whether these be social, physical, or both. Canny Explorers might be able to avoid some of these obstacles, convincing even power-mad zealots to trade for their sacred relics, while other crews with less subtlety and a more ballistic inclination might prefer to solve their problems with guns blazing. This objective can be considered complete once the artefact the Explorers sought rests in their hands.
The creeping influence of the myriad xenos races that pollute the galaxy is anathema to the learned men and women of the Imperium of Man. From the pointless savagery of the bloody-minded Orks to the cunning treachery of the Eldar to the honeyed lies of the upstart Tau Empire, xenos threats are everywhere. Occasionally, it falls to a member of the Missionarus Galaxia to root out xenos and stymie their plans, especially when the xenos show too much interest in worlds the Ecclesiarchy holds dear. In cases such as these, a missionary, especially one serving aboard a Rogue Trader ship or otherwise allied with a powerful trade dynasty, might choose to raise a fighting force and take the battle directly to the enemy. Endeavours such as these can range anywhere from simply hunting down and destroying a marauding Eldar Corsair to leading a crusade to wrest a region of the Koronus Expanse from the grip of some heretofore unknown xenos threat.
Example Requirements for Destroying a Xenos Threat:
Aliens pose various threats across the Koronus Expanse, and though they do prey upon human populations scattered across the countless worlds in this region of space, this is not the only reason that a Rogue Trader and his crew might come into conflict with xenos. Various alien factions also compete with Rogue Traders for resources, relics, and more, and Rogue Traders frequently find themselves in minor but nonetheless cataclysmic wars with xenos species. Of course, the line between holy wars and territorial squabbles over resources is often blurred. After all, what Rogue Trader would refuse the financial and military assistance of the Ecclesiarchy if he intended to rout the Orks occupying a mineral-rich system eventually anyway? Thus, Rogue Traders frequently declare minor crusades, war-pilgrimages, and other, similar undertakings of a religious bent to seek the bones of lost saints on worlds occupied by troublesome xenos or launch fleets of ships to protect "helpless" human populations (and their valuable resources) from marauding aliens.
Organising a military campaign to retake a world is a monumental task. How much more massive, then, must be the effort to reclaim an entire system or even larger region? A Rogue Trader looking to launch such an Endeavour must be prepared to spend considerable sums of money, favour, and influence gathering forces. Having a religious purpose for such a venture can make acquiring resources much easier. A Missionary's impassioned oration can sway many hearts to the cause. Of course, such tactics are not effective on all the factions a Rogue Trader might wish to employ. Hard-bitten mercenaries, privateers, and even less savoury individuals (especially the various xenos who fight for profit, glory, or cruel joy) rarely see the benefits of spiritual rewards, no matter how grand they might be. For recruiting such groups, a skilled and knowledge Seneschal is invaluable. Securing finances to pay hired forces, using favours or blackmail to control unruly elements, and spinning a web of intrigue from which the Rogue Trader and his dynasty can profit are all integral parts of a Seneschal's duty. A Rogue Trader and his crew might have to travel to many different worlds to secure the assistance of various allies, or even treat with other Rogue Trader dynasties to win their aid. Once the Explorers have secured support from an appropriate number of backers, this objective can be considered complete.
Before launching a full invasion of a region of space, a wise Rogue Trader uses the resources at his disposal to scout all of the threats it contains. Frequently, a Rogue Trader intending to lead a larger force into a system uses his own vessel (which is already optimised for independent action in potentially hostile territory). This objective could consist of a preliminary journey to the destination to gather as much information as possible, either avoiding the enemy entirely or retreating before they can bring their forces to bear. A skilled Void-Master is obviously crucial to the success of such a mission, for only the most talented pilots can avoid detection while flying so close to hostile forces. Anyone specialised in operating the vessel's sensors must be extremely adept as well, so that the Rogue Trader can draw together a full picture of the warzone before the action begins. A veteran Arch-Militant or Missionary who has led many such assaults before can also provide considerable advice on how to carry out such a mission, especially if a portion of the crew needs to leave the ship to closely explore a particular feature of the battlefield. The Rogue Trader and his crew must carefully balance caution and curiosity at this stage; if they are discovered, they might find themselves facing a force much larger than their own. On the other hand, if they fail to uncover a crucial part of the enemy's defences, their lapse could prove devastating when they bring the full might of their force to bear. Once the Explorers return to their mustered forces, this objective can be considered complete.
Once the Explorers have all the information they can gather about their target, it comes time to formulate a plan of attack. Rogue Traders themselves often possess considerable strategic acumen, as do many Arch-Militants. Further, the technical knowledge of an Explorator can provide considerable insight into the organisation of the enemy's defences. Other Explorers might even have experience fighting the enemy in question. Even if their plan is perfect, however, executing it requires the Explorers to engage in a significant battle against their enemies. The successes and failures of the Rogue Trader and his crew can reflect the overall status of the force they have gathered. If they were extremely thorough in their search in the previous objective, the Explorers should probably have uncovered everything that their enemies have to throw at them. If they overlooked important details, however, then once they begin the assault, these lapses in their scrutiny can come back to haunt the Explorers in the form of extra forces, unexpected defences, or other unpleasant surprises. If the Explorers can navigate the trials and travails of war and vanquish their foes, this objective can be considered complete.
The Imperium of Man has many layers of government, but those who rise to the top tend to be survivors of the Scholas Progenium. Such prodigies require tutors capable of driving home hard lessons and able to instill discipline into the souls of the scared and lonely young. The Drill Abbots are technically full Preachers of the Ecclesiarchy, but are excused from a Preacher's normal duties of ministering to the faithful in favour of a more specialised role in teaching the future leaders and special forces troops of the Imperium. This sacred duty is fulfilled through the focused application of devotional teachings, exercise and weapons training. Drill Abbots stalk the hallways of the Schola, striking the fear of the Emperor into the hearts of youths who one day shall have the power of life and death over millions. Even the most ruthless Lord Inquisitor may still, centuries later, remember his time in the Schola Progenium with a mixture of fear and awe due to the work of these fearsome individuals.
Coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, most Drill Abbots have served at least half their lives in one branch or another of the Imperial military. They have seen first hand the enemies of the Imperium, and are anxious to impress upon their young charges the absolute necessity of faith in the Emperor and skill at arms. They are charismatic and inspiring, caring for their young charges in their own harsh way, and famed for their unbending stubborness and strength of will. They will seek to maintain their fighting edge throughout their lives, and remain fierce and skilled combatants and warriors. Many Drill Abbots forge lifelong bonds of mutual respect with Progena in their care, which can result in useful contacts years later with some of the most senior figure in the Sector. Indeed, it is not unknown for Inquisitors to recruit their old tutors for their retinues, as a sign of the tremendous debt they owe for the gift of the light of the Emperor.
Some Drill Abbots find it difficult to return to active duty or to be drafted into a cell of Inquisitorial Acolytes after serving so long with the Schola Progenium. While these men serve the God-Emperor to the best of their ability, it is often a surprise when their commands are not met with cowering obedience. So harsh are many of the methods employed by Drill Abbots that many students fear for their lives. The more fearsome Drill Abbots have been known to employ branding, freezing cold and sleep deprivation to motivate their charges, which is the source of the understandable terror that some Progena feel. This fear is not typically necessary, however, as Drill Abbots wish to prepare their charges for service to the God-Emperor and it is well known that such service only ends in death. Regardless of their pasts, Drill Abbots are well known for their uncompromising and stubborn natures. Coupled with their faith in the God-Emperor of Mankind they have considerable martial prowess and the respect of even the most seasoned Imperial Guardsman. A Drill Abbot has suffered and knows how to administer suffering in turn; they are not people to be trifled with.
A Drill Abbot is typically an experienced Imperial Guardsman who is ordained as an Abbot by the Adeptus Ministorum after their period of service. They are decorated NCOs of the Imperial military, men and women who already have the experience and skills necessary to forge new warriors from the rabble and raw material of the Progena. Although the process of indoctrination into the Schola's more arcane educational techniques takes some time, most Drill Abbots are thrown into the deep end and can go from fighting Orks to fighting for the souls of troubled adolescents in just a few short weeks. Encouraged to treat these children just as they would treat soldiers, the task of a Drill Abbot is not one for the merciful of heart. A certainty of purpose is required, and one must know that to show a pupil mercy is to lie to them about the true nature of the galaxy.
The Schola Progenium is one of the many divisions of the Ecclesiarchy, the Adeptus Ministorum of the Imperium of Man. It is responsible for the upbringing and training of orphans, predominantly those of officers who have died in the service of the Imperium, often those who once served in the Imperial Guard. These children are known as the Progena, and most of them will end up serving the Ministorum or in other branches of the Adeptus Terra. Others will go on to become military leaders and special forces troops within the Imperial Guard or Imperial Navy such as elite Tempestus Scions(Storm Troopers), or iron-willed Imperial Commissars. Some may take office in a planetary government, the Administratum, the Ecclesiarchy, the Adeptus Arbites or even become Acolytes of the Inquisition on the path to assuming the duties of a full Inquisitor. Many girls of the Progena are destined for one of the Orders of the Adepta Sororitas. Those Progena who display psychic aptitude are often killed or used to meet the Emperor's levy of psykers, but may sometimes be handed over to the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, or, in rare cases, receive further training as Inquisitor Acolytes.
The Schola Progenium takes children who were orphaned when their parents perished in the service of the Emperor of Mankind, from daughters of Imperial Guard officers killed on the battlefield, to sons of Imperial administrators lost in the far reaches of space, and trains them to become the backbone of Imperial society as servants of the various branches of the Adeptus Terra. Those who pass through the Schola Progenium are called Progena, and they receive an education like no other. The fundamental cornerstone of life in the Schola Progenium is harsh discipline. From the day they first don their grey garb, the Progena learn that the God-Emperor has no use for infirmity of purpose or weakness, and pain is merely an illusion of an untrained mind. Swift correction, prayer, fasting and contemplation are the tools by which a mind of rigid purpose and faith is formed, and the cornerstone of the Schola's teaching. A Progena's education moves through predetermined phases, beginning with literacy and the basic theology of the Imperial Creed, and progressing on through history, politics, the contemplation of Imperial saints, rhetoric and leadership skills. The curriculum does not stop at honing the intellect either as all Progena are trained in physical endurance and skill at arms by the infamous Drill Abbots. The Drill Abbots are hardened veterans and have usually spent half their lives in Imperial military service. Stern, stoic, unforgiving and relentless, the lessons imparted by the Drill Abbots will stay with Progena for their entire lives.
As they mature, the Progena are groomed for the place they shall take in the service of the Imperium. Many are taken into the Ecclesiarchy, Administratum or some other division of the Adeptus Terra, while others of martial leanings find their place in the officer cadres of the Imperial armed forces or as an Arbitor of the Adeptus Arbites. The finest Progena are recruited into the most specialised of the Imperium's elites, such as the Commissariat or Adepta Sororitas, and a very few of the most talented are inducted directly into the Inquisition.
With the ever-present threat of heresy hiding in the souls of the weak-willed amongst Mankind, the Ecclesiarchy can take no chances that an apostate is able to fool those who seek to bring their transgressions to light. Arch-Cardinals establish many training shrines within their sectors to prepare their clergy for service as Confessors. It is from these holy sites and institutions that many of the most talented Interrogators of the Inquisition hail. As hardened veterans of the Ecclesiarchy, Confessors know how to obtain the information they want in a timely manner. Many Inquisitors will recruit a Confessor to serve in his Acolyte cell. A Confessor's zeal for uncovering heresy is such that many Confessors who survive their tasks with any semblance of sanity eventually become Inquisitors in their own right.
Filled with the power and fury of faith, legends in the Shrine Worlds tell of Confessors who have turned back armies with a word or incited entire cities to rebel against an apostate dictator. These individuals can be found on almost every world, commanding loyal servants of the God-Emperor to seek out foul Heretics and purge them. Imperial Guard and Planetary Defence Force commanders often retain a Confessor amongst their advisors, bringing their rhetoric and oratory to their soldiers on the eve of battle. Occasionally Cardinals will despatch groups of fiery Confessors to lead regiments of the Frateris Militia on wars of faith against the enemies of the Emperor.
Every Confessor has his or her own unique brand of oratory and interrogation. The two are not vastly dissimilar practices in the mind of a Confessor. While many use finely honed speeches that have been practiced to perfection, others might call out to the crowd for responses to questions, correcting and praising them. In the interrogation chamber these fearsome individuals would ask questions of the shriven, demanding that they incriminate themselves to gain absolution. Others whisper the correct words in the ears of Imperial commanders so that they might deliver their own sermons. In the confession chamber a whisper in the ear and a hot brand can be very persuasive, guiding the pliant subject to a clear conscious.
The majority of Confessors are trained at one of the Adeptus Ministorum's special shrines. The process is not dissimilar to the training of an Adeptus Arbites Arbitrator or a standard Ecclesiarchy Cleric, in that the Confessor is drilled with the doctrines of the Imperial Creed and the price of straying from it. Along with training in the arts of self-defence, the neophyte Confessors ply their newfound trade upon each other in an attempt to cleanse the weakness and sin from the group. Some keep the scars of this experience for life as a reminder of the pain they must deliver to others in order to offer them the oppotunity to become pure and whole in the eyes of the God-Emperor. While many Imperial clergy are selected to join the ranks of the Confessors directly from the Schola Progenium or other Ecclesiarchal recruiting grounds, there are many more who attend the training facilities at the behest of Arbites Judges or Inquisitors. Those who are not educated at one of the approved Adeptus Ministorum sacred places are trained in private by experienced Confessors, often for a specific duty.
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