Ah, that much is true - but then again, this could be said about anyone, including the High Lords and the Emperor Himself.
As you (probably) know, I've been pointing out the differences between authority in theory and in practice in the past, but I only tend to do so when the thread is specifically about the Inquisition's reach. *lazy*
I know, I know, I just felt like pointing it out so it doesn't give OP any strange ideas. In this particular case, I fully agree with you, as should be clear. As a general idea though, I just wanted to point at the fact that there is indeed a clear difference between theory and practice. In theory, an Inquisitor could put his bolter against the head of the Master of the Administratum. In practice.. eh.. maybe, if he gets close enough, but he'd probably get shot somewhere between raising that bolter and pulling the trigger.
OT: Whew, Sisters of Silence ... personally I am still ignoring them as a construct that has so far shown up exclusively in a bunch of outsourced, controversial novels set in a different era, and it seems the GW studio is doing the same as far as their own fluff is concerned. That's not to say it would be "wrong" to include them in one's campaign, of course - after all, the background is malleable and subjective, and there is no such thing as an "absolute truth" - but I feel it is prudent that the fanbase is fully aware of their "floating" status in the franchise, and that their existence in M41 throws up a few (minor) conflicts with GW studio fluff.
If that doesn't pose a problem for the group, include away! They do seem to be kind of popular with people, after all.
As with so many other things, the fluff is a bit dodgy, but I do like the idea of the Sisters of Silence, the titular Departmento Investigates of the Astra Telepathica. It makes perfect sense to me that the Astra Telepathica would have some kind of armed policing force, and that they would be blanks, if not pariahs (I always separate between blanks and pariahs, even if many don't).
At best, they're a very small part of the entire setting, either way, and even with the fact that they exist in my "headcanon" and in my universe as a GM, they'll likely never appear, unless the players decides to visit an actual Scholastica Psykana installation (which are exceedingly rare, afaik) or attack the League of Blackships (in which case they deserve to lose unless they bring the fury).
How far is very far? Across a planet? Across a system? Across a sector?
Across the entire galaxy, if you want and if you have a strong enough transmitter, as far as I know, maybe with enough repeaters. The problem is that radio is incredibly slow. The time to send a radio signal between Earth and Mars is just above 13 minutes.
My response was a bit tounge-in-cheek. Radio is not an option except in-system, ship-to-ship or ship-to-planet.
Good advice, I do usually take the liberty of selecting and leaving out as it suits me. However, astropath communication in particular is taking on a deus-ex-psykerphone appearance and since my players is ascending this will come more into play.
Psykerphone. I have to remember that when it comes to what I usually call the Telefaxus Glorificus.
If the inquisition, the adeptus arbites and maybe even another power group has access to choirs of their very own, doesn’t that take away power from Xiao? I would really like him to come into play as someone with much influence that the players do well to stay on good terms with. However, if there simply is possible to “borrow” the arbiter’s choir instead, doesn’t that sort of deflate his power?
Is his choir better in some way?
Well, there's things that definitely plays in the favour of Xiao. Even if the Arbites have their "own" Astropaths for emergencies (and I want to note that there is nothing in the fluff saying that this is so, I just argue that it stands to reason that the Arbites would have it), they still functionally *belong* to Xiao. And I don't mean that in that he pays their wages.
The Imperium is a feudal system, and Xiao is the Chief Astropath over all of Scintilla, perhaps the Head of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica in all of Sector Calixis, or at the very least, the head of the Astropath wing of that organization. For all intents and purposes, that means that he is the God-Emperor's Chosen for the Astropaths, the only concrete authority that immediately lords directly over them, and have the very real power to decide whether they live or die at a whim. The Inquisition needs an excuse (technically) to execute astropaths and the Arbites must follow the law (in theory). But Xiao could likely execute them for fun, or because he perceives them as incompetent.
Or he could station them on some god-forsaken planet at the edge of the universe. He could send them to Port Wander to be forgotten. If you work for the Chief Astropath on Malfi, he can put in a transfer request for you, or he can move to you a small choir cross-planet, or possibly shoot you. But Xiao can make your life hell. If you're an Astropath on Scintilla, the Planetary Governor is nothing to you, the Arbites are annoying knuckle-draggers and the Inquisition is feared, but Xiao is your Lord and Master.
Even if the Adeptus Arbites have their "own" Astropaths, those are chosen and assigned by Xiao. Even if the Inquisition has the mandate to choose the Astropaths, those Astropaths were most likely trained by other Astropaths and most, if not all, likely come from the Scintillan Choir(s) or are assigned to serve by the overall Astra Telepathica, a organization in which Xiao has considerable standing.
There is no way, no how, that Xiao is not exactly the kind of power-player you want him to be.
If he wants to, he listens in and gets reports for every single report going off-planet. Even if the Inquisition have their own men or women capable of Astrotelepathy (I'm sure there's Inquisitors or Inquisitorial Acolytes capable of such, or maybe there are even Astropaths that are acolytes, perhaps without Xiao even knowing), Xiao can have his own Astropaths listening in, or working hard to break encryptions or decipher codes, something Astropaths supposedly excel at.
And Xiao's Choir is probably the best in the Sector, either way, and he likely has a retinue or group of Astropaths that he considers the best of the best, for those truly high-priority messages that require triple-encryption and five layers of encoding, sent cross-sector without having to be relayed by Void-Choirs (I forget the name, there's these Choirs that are pretty much just void-stations in the middle of nowhere that only works with repeating and relaying astropathic messages. Astropathic Relays?)
I was partly wondering that, and partly if there is a way to steal a message “midflight”. Like a vox-thief, but psycic
There is. Astropathic messages aren't cleartext, though, and even a simple message probably has some basic encryption. Also, Astropaths have gone through the Rite of Soulbinding specifically to avoid things like this, so it's not easy. But it's possible. After all, the messages go through the warp, and they are telepathic, so it can get distorted or intercepted, for sure.
Does the message travel at warp speed or faster/slower?
Depends on your idea of "warp speed", but I would say much faster. Telepathic messages are usually instant, and a ship in the warp still needs to move within the warp. In a nutshell, telepathy and ships move at different speeds in realspace. If both are in the warp, it stands to reason that that difference would be maintained, bar oddities with the message - but this could also apply to ships, so it's a hit/miss situation. But I'd say that the general answer would be that the message is considerably faster than travel.
I have a particular setting where a player who is nobility wants to send messages to his wife and young children. He is also becoming the party inquisitor. Can he use a choir as a noble for something like that? Can he even as an inquisitor use a choir for that?
I don't see why. It would probably annoy someone, somewhere, but since when has nobles and inquisitors not misused public funds and misappropriated resources? Go for it.
I've always interpreted it as Chief Astropath Xiao and his choir as being the only (or at least one of a very, very few) who have the psychic power to send messages in between Sectors. I remember reading something in one of the books (Disciples of the Dark Gods, maybe?) concerning just that. In Rogue Trader I know that a majority of Imperial Battleships have astropaths on board who can communicate over vast distances with each other. It is no stretch of the imagination to assume that Imperial worlds would have some sort of choir on each and every one of them then. Seeing as the distances in between world in the Calixis Sector, and the distances concerned if someone was trying to send a message to a different sector entirely are vastly different, it has always been easy for me to assume that inter-sector communication requires the psychic power of the chief astropathic choir on Scintilla.
As a bonus, this also makes the whole info monopoly that Xiao has a lot less absurd. Sending a message to another sector would not be something that happens often (I've always thought it would generally only take place if a hive fleet parked in orbit above Scintilla, or the like), so Xiao could feasibly go over all of them before giving the okay.
That has some considerable implications, though. If that was true, then there's only a single choir in the entire sector capable of sending messages out of the sector.
That means that there's only a single choir that needs to be taken out to isolate the entire sector from the rest of the Imperium, which I consider a bit absurd. Also, sectors aren't completely cut off from eachother, and the functional "edge" of a sector is not a clear line, with some sectors being wall-to-wall with eachother. Astropathic Relay Stations are also spread out through the Imperium for relaying messages, likely also between sectors that are adjacent to eachother, but not geographically close or "wall to wall".
I'm fully on board with the Chief Astropathic Choir being the only one capable of sending or relaying messages over vast distances without relaying, however. It could be argued the high-priority messages within the Calixis Sector would likely be relayed to Scintilla and then sent directly to the concerned parties (Battlefleet Obscurus, Segmentum Command, Terra, etc?) with a minimum of relays (None at all, within Obscurus?).
But the only one to send out of sector? I find that hard to believe. That's one terrorist attack away from cutting the sector off. It doesn't mesh well with the Imperium's well-established paranoia.
Make sense, gives him an edge without making the system completely overcomplicated
Everything in the Imperium is overcomplicated. If ever you are writing something for your Campaign(s) or anything dealing with the structures of the Imperium, if you ever find yourself thinking that this makes complete and total sense and that it's a straight hierarchy, it's probably wrong and you need to make it more complicated.
Make sure to impart this confusion on your Acolytes. Assign them to multiple Inquisitor Lords and call it a filing error, meanwhile, both Inquisitor Lords will treat them as "theirs" and tell them to ignore the other, because it was a filing error. Punish them when they choose and anger the one lord. Take away their pay, then double it. Assign them a ship, but forget to man in, giving them an empty battle-cruiser.
I once played a Sanctioned Psyker from the Imperial Guard in a Rogue Trader game. I was the head of the Astropathic Choir. We attributed this to the Great Filing Error of m41. By the time the game ended, all the Astropaths were wielding lasguns and participating in landing parties, and regularly threw personal messages the choir was supposed to send in the trash.
Edited by Fgdsfg, 16 August 2014 - 04:40 AM.