Inquisition (Warhammer 40,000)

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The Inquisition (The Holy Orders of the Emperor's Inquisition) is an organization in the fictional Warhammer 40,000 universe. They act as the secret police of the Imperium, hunting down any and all threats to the stability of the God-Emperor's realm. In fiction relating to the games, Inquisitors are usually represented by extremely powerful, intelligent, and talented individuals. In the games, Inquisitors are usually powerful combatants with a variety of specialized abilities with a party of followers who improve and protect the Inquisitor. Inquisitors also grant the player access to many new units, such as Imperial Assassins and Daemonhosts.

Development of the Inquisition[edit]

In early editions of Warhammer 40,000, the Inquisition was a single, undivided organization, with a single inner order, the Ordo Malleus. The stated purpose of the Ordo was to police the Inquisition itself, but it also existed to combat the threat of the infinite hordes of Chaos. This massive war remains a secret hidden from most forces of the Imperium, including non-Malleus Inquisitors.

In later editions of Warhammer 40,000, the Inquisition is divided into three Ordos: Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus, intended to combat threats to the Imperium from the activities of alien races, demons, and heretics, respectively. These Ordos act independently, and their agents sometimes come into conflict with each other.

The Ordo Xenos and Ordo Malleus both have specialized Space Marine chapters attached to them: the Deathwatch and the Grey Knights, respectively. Meanwhile, the Ordo Hereticus utilizes Orders drawn from the Sisters of Battle.

There are online rules for using the Deathwatch, the militant arm of the Ordo Xenos and one such Ordo Xenos Inquisitor has been released by Forge World. Following the end of the Inquisitor line, and the successful relaunch of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay by Black Industries, it was decided that the first roleplaying game to explore the Warhammer 40,000 universe would be Dark Heresy, a game in which the player characters are, by default, diverse agents of the Inquisition sent to investigate various mysteries and heresies on behalf of their Inquisitor.

The Inquisition was created around the Horus Heresy on order of Malcador the Sigillite, the Emperor's right-hand man. Malcador assembled 12 individuals of "an inquisitive nature," 8 loyal Astartes and 4 mortal Imperial lords and administrators, who would respectively become the initial core of the Grey Knights and the conclaves of the Inquisition. The Inquisition functions like the CIA, NSA, and FBI combined into one entity. Individual Inquisitors have a high degree of autonomy with which to conduct themselves. They gather information thorough informants, conduct investigations, and prosecute individuals as they see fit, often to deadly effect.

However, the more radical elements of the Inquisition also possess many forces of their own, such as the Radical Malleus' daemonhosts bound in Emperor blessed chains and seals or the trillions of pertinent and brainwashed former chaos or renegade marines that go to war with their armor devoid of any markings. The Ordo Xenos has radical elements as well like hidden android robotic armies from the Men of Iron or the freed Necrons souls of the enslaved Void Dragon on Mars, a hope for the radicals that the Emperor can bind the corrupt xenos into his service.

There were originally only two Orders within the Inquisition (Ordo Malleus and Ordo Xenos), but a third (the Ordo Hereticus) was added after the events of the Age of Apostasy.[1] A further fourth the Ordo Sicarius was formed following the Wars of Vindication.[2] It is rumored that the Inquisition has thousands of independent ordos and cells for various goals and tasks, and the resources they pool together can rival those individually owned by Inquisitor Lords.

Within the narrative provided by source books and other media, a number of Inquisitors are considered to be famous. Those include Gideon Ravenor, Ario Barzano who is featured in the book Nightbringer by Graham McNeill, Gregor Eisenhorn the main character in the Eisenhorn series by Dan Abnett, and Jaq Draco, the main character in the Inquisition War series, written by Ian Watson. In the graphic novel Daemonifuge, by Kev Walker, the character Silas Hand features prominently.[3]

The development of other characters alludes to important literature works. Fydor Karamazov, Fyodor is known as the Pyrophant Judge of Salem Proctor. This is a reference to Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Proctor being the name of one convicted, yet innocent, witch; and Salem being the puritan township he lived in. His name is a reference to The Grand Inquisitor a chapter in the Russian authors Fyodor Dostoevsky's book entitled The Brothers Karamazov.[4]


  1. ^ Priestley, Rick (2004). Warhammer 40,000 (4th ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-468-X. 
  2. ^ Exterminatus Issue 8, Bringers of Death Page 22
  3. ^ Walker, Kev (1999). Daemonifuge (1st ed.). Nottingham: Black Library. ISBN 1-84154-117-6. 
  4. ^ McNeil, Graham; Hoare, Andy; Haines, Pete (2003). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Witchhunters (1st ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-485-X. 

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