Here’s a thought: pitch in to create your own cults/sects/heretical groups which you can throw at your players. Ideas, stats etc all welcome, or text only contributions.
Here’s a topical sample heretical sect for your players to seek out and destroy…
Imperial Governors are given free reign to run their own planets in any manner they choose, provided they pay the Imperial Tithe. A huge variety of planetary governmental systems exist: constitutional monarchies, self perpetuating oligarchies, tribal elder councils, dictatorship by lottery, military juntas, fanatical theocracies….
And yet true democracies are rare in the extreme. This system of government – believed by many scholars to have been widespread during the Dark Age of Technology – has been discredited, in part, by its association with the fanatical Democratist movement.
Originating in the Segmentum Solar from a string of major democratic hive worlds, this ancient subversive sect is notorious for its absolute dedication to the cause of spreading its insidious and arrogant teachings to the far corners of the galaxy, irrespective of the harm it may do to the Holy Realm of the Emperor.
For over 9,000 years, the Democratists have argued, basing their arguments upon proscribed and heretical antique texts, sometimes openly, sometimes secretly, that the Emperor originally dreamed of creating a truly democratic galactic government that would allow mankind to live in peace and harmony forever. Despite millions of executions and the torture of thousands of elected Democratist leaders, the sect continues to advance this scurrilous agenda.
Many Inquisitors believe that in fact the High Electors of the sect seek no less than the removal of the Emperor from the Golden Throne and His replacement with a council of democratically elected Governors from regional assemblies across the galaxy. Such Heresy will not stand!
Whilst not itself illegal, democracy is regarded with suspicion by the Administratum: democratic planetary governments are perceived as slow to react to major crises, reluctant to send their youth to die in the glorious battlefields of the Emperor and prone to internal civil upheaval in regular electoral 4, 5, 8 or 10 year cycles, which can interfere with the Tithe. The High Lords of Terra are far more comfortable dealing with ruthless and single minded planetary despots than with an ever shifting and fickle council of elected peers.
It is common for the Imperium to step in and implement systematic “regime change” to democratic governments in order to protect the rights of the servants of the Pax Imperialis from the tyranny of their elected overlords. As servants of the Imperium, you will be expected to assist in this process. Praise be to Him on Earth, who shall overcome all “democracies,” “elections” and burn every sinful “ballot box” to guide the destiny of mankind!
The Democratists seem determined to spread this sickly and inefficient form of government to every Imperial Segmentum.
Operating in a cell system, the Democratists have had, for centuries, a remarkably consistent modus operandi: they install themselves as “freedom fighters” on non democratic Imperial worlds with harsh and despotic regimes. They incite the local population to rebel against their “cruel overlords.” They preach about humanity’s “manifest destiny.” They set up front organisations, often religious in nature, and ostensibly respectful of the Emperor, and argue for a division between secular and religious authority within the Emperor, a heretical doctrine known as “separation of powers.” Such is the audacity of the blasphemer.
Whilst ranked as a lower priority for Inquisitorial investigation than, say, Warp tainted cults or Xenos artefact smugglers, the merchants of this infamous sedition remain important targets for the Inquisition, particularly for the Ordo Hereticus. Death is too good for those who seek to impose democracy upon the vulnerable in the Imperium, and the Inquisition is well placed not only to track this inter-segmentum conspiracy, but to deliver a fate worse than death to its misguided agents.
Democratists in the Calixis Sector
To the relief of the traditionally minded Lord Sector Hax, democracy is a rare system of government within the Calixis system. In general, only a few planetary systems operate as democracies, and usually only at continental or regional level, rather than planetary level.
However, the sector is a hotbed of democratist activism due to its relatively peaceful backwater status. Over three hundred democratist cells have been eradicated by the Ordo Hereticus in the last century, and if anything this number increases by the year.
Large cells are active on Sephiris Secundus (especially amongst the poorer workers and mutants) Malfi (though they tend to be rather ineffective and baffled by that world’s Byzantine internal intrigues) and Barsapine.
Baraspine in particular is seen as a democratic hotbed: although not a democratic regime, a number of democratic regional assemblies operate. Until he was executed for heresy ten years ago, the previous planetary governor often spoke in terms of “devolution,” a sinister process by which centralised power would be passed to regional assemblies and local parish councils, many of whom had their own native languages and insisted upon erecting multilingual signposts.
Fortunately, a Inquisitorial strike force carried out crippling simultaneous raids on hundreds of local parish council headquarters before this conspiracy could be implemented. The planet is currently under limited interdiction by Imperial Navy fusion bomb orbital strike platforms in order to prevent the threat of future parish council uprisings.
Using the Democratists
The Democratists are designed to give players a moral dilemma. They are not pawns of chaos gods, or Xenos collaborators. They are genuine believers in their political system, and seek to spread it across the entire Imperium. On the whole, they are reasonable and serious minded individuals who prefer to play a long game in inciting dissent rather than creating terror or acts of violence: however newer and more passionate members often get their hands dirty in an attempt to get their message across sooner. However, they all know that the Inquisition would dearly love to rack and/or burn them at the stake at the first available opportunity, and are more likely to run than fight.
There is also something pleasingly comic about hunting down liberal flag wavers and local councillors using all the firepower of the Imperium. Don’t skimp on this angle!
- Have the players chase down a group of democratists. Have the players come to respect their ingenuity, faith and passion. Then have the acolyte’s Inquisitor order them to burn the democratists at the stake. Reward players for roleplaying the confusion and suspicion they should express at dealing with the controversial views of these heretics, especially if they all seem so nice….
- On an important hiveworld, an election is taking place. Perhaps it’s a continental super-election with billions of voters, or perhaps an illegal trade union election in an important factorium. The important thing is that the players need to embarrass the principle candidate with some nasty scandal (adopted to local morality) without revealing who they are…
- The players are called in to discredit democracy itself. They must carry out ingenious atrocities to incite the mob against the very concept of free elections: how they achieve this is up to them. How far will the players go to curry favour with their masters?