Imperial Cults

Age of Founding

The Age of Founding determines how consolidated the belief structure and power base of a Cult might be. The main thing these will shape is the initial beliefs of the Cult, as there are many ancient Cults that are holding on with a toehold in the outer fringes of the Imperium, and new Cults that are born due to a charismatic leader that can quickly spread throughout a Sub-Sector

  • Age of Rebirth – Born immediately after the Horus Heresy, this cult would have been founded shortly after the Emperor’s Ascension to the Golden Throne. Cults born in this age tend to focus on the importance of faith in the face of adversity of betrayal and sacrifice in the face of threats to the Imperium.
  • The Forging – This cult would’ve been founded when the Imperium re-expanded its boundaries to the heights of what they were before the Heresy. Cults forged in this time focus on the dominion of Man and its inherent right to lay claim to the Galaxy.
  • Age of Apostasy – Founded when civil war nearly tore the Imperium apart, only those that were judged as true would have survived. Cults forged in this era would be focused inwards, towards rooting out sin within the Imperium and exposing those who would attempt to undermine it from the inside.
  • Age of Redemption – Founded as a reaction to the Apostasy, it would be overly concerned with proving itself and spreading the Imperial Truth. Cults created in this period would tend towards flagellation and recognising your own sins before you move on to “purifying” others.
  • The Waning – “Modern Day” founding, the Imperium has started to overextend and can no longer contend with the number of threats. Cults forged in this era would recognise omens that appear to herald the end of the Imperium, but deal with this news in different ways depending on the belief structure.

Emperor’s Vigil

When the Emperor sacrificed Himself for us and ascended to the Golden Throne, many were left wondering what exactly the nature of his now eternal vigil over Mankind would be. These are but a few interpretations that form the underpinnings of many Imperial Cults.

  • Protection – The Emperor watches over us from the Throne and keeps us safe. He will shepherd us away from danger and will never allow Mankind to fall again into darkness so long as we keep faith in Him.
  • Benevolence – The Emperor loves us and is ready to accept us. He welcomes all souls that believe in Him to the Golden Throne, and as long as we abide by his beliefs He will always be there for us.
  • Judgment – The Emperor judges our sins and only takes the worthy. He is eternally watchful for our transgressions every day, and it is only through overcoming our sins will we be welcome to join him.
  • Wrath – The Emperor compels us to destroy all non-believers. He has claimed dominion over this galaxy, and it is our job to ensure His will is done through our crusades and our faith.
  • Guidance – The Emperor leads us on the path of our destiny. We may be one in uncountable quadrillions, but the Emperor has a destiny for each of us and believes that we will find it, and walk it for His glory.

Primary Duty

All Imperial Cults have a duty they see as sacrosanct amongst all others, and their initial belief structure would reflect this.

  • Bolster Faith – Not everyone is strong in their faith, we must encourage this. We must lead by example, ensure that the fire in the hearts of our believers only grows with time, and that by ensuring those that believe do so with all of their hearts we will become an inspiration to others.
  • Exterminate Threats – The Imperium is founded on blood and war! There’s no point in sitting back and waiting for them to come to us, we must continue the Emperor’s work and head out into the stars so that the Xenos, Mutants and Heretics have not a moment’s respite!
  • Spread Influence – Entire planets must be made to see as we do. Only by speaking with one voice can we ensure that our words are properly heard by the Emperor, and once everyone worships the way that we do will be we judged as worthy.
  • Convert Heathens – We must find those that are lost and bring them back. Many planets have been lost to the mists of time, and worlds that have not yet had a chance to see the light of the Emperor must be brought back into the fold.
  • Judge Wicked – We must root out corruption deep within us. It was sin that forced the Emperor to sacrifice himself for us, and we will not allow any secrets that would harm the souls of the secret-keeper, nor any other, to remain unfound.

Primary Opposition

The Imperium can be measured in millions upon millions of star systems, and it’s impossible for any one portion of it to live in harmony with the rest. There’s one particular group however that this Imperial Cult does not get along with.

  • Administratum – The Age of Apostasy proved that these bureaucrats cannot be trusted. Their meddling influence must be opposed at every turn, and we will not allow their intereference to yet again dictate the Emperor’s Truth. They constantly undermine our church and deny us critical supplies and recognition.
  • Inquisition – At some point our cult was investigated, either due to a prominent member falling to Chaos, or the truth of our beliefs conflicting with the wrong people. Either way, the Inquisition keeps a close eye on us, and although our Cult is still permitted to flourish, it has been made clear that this is only until they deem it otherwise.
  • Adeptus Mechanicus – The Priests of Mars are an interesting lot. Theoretically they believe in their own version of the Imperial Cult, but for most tech-priests this is a lip service only. Their blasphemous belief structure has come into conflict with our vision of the Emperor, and there is a lot of bad blood between them.
  • System Nobility – Many of the system’s nobility are corrupt and indolent, and are a frequent target of our sermons and scorn. As a result, they use their powerful influence to purchase and demolish our churches, hire thugs and criminals to assault our meetings and make life as difficult for us as we make it for them.
  • Poverty-stricken – The poor are poor because the Emperor wants them to be poor. Many persist in believing that they can rise above their station, and we will always strive to put them in their place. Naturally most of them do not see the logic in this, and as they significantly outnumber any other group, this creates a great deal of confusion.
  • Imperial Cults – Obviously all Imperial Cults have some degree of friction with each other, but this particular one views all other Cults as an enemy that preaches a version of the truth that, at best, leads people astray. They are enormously combative with every other version of the Imperial Truth, and it’s not uncommon for fights to break out between clergy members.
  • Imperial Navy – There are Cults that believe the sole duty of the Imperial Navy should be to take them on pilgrimages to rediscover lost worlds and convert Heathens. The Navy looks down on them for their thoughtless arrogance at treating Imperial Battlecruisers as mere Transport vessels.
  • Psykers – Sanctioned Psykers and Astropaths are essential to the smooth functioning of the Imperium, but that hasn’t stopped this church from preaching that they are one-step away from damnation and curse entire worlds with their presence. Not even Navigators are necessarily safe from this influence.

Doctrine

Not so much what we believe, but how firm we our in our beliefs. How stringent will we hold to our core beliefs in this galaxy, and how will we react to the opinion that we need to “change”.

  • Traditionalist – What we believed at our founding is what we believe now, and nothing is going to change that. The Cult does not bend, for it is when the truth is lost that Heresy enters our lives.
  • Orthodox – As we are flawed humans, our beliefs must occasionally be called into question. However this is not a process that should be underatken swiftly, or lightly. Change will come incrementally, at a rate that only by measuring it from the outside over decades will it be noticeable.
  • Un-orthodox – People’s objections are to be taken into consideration, and we will change our message and our methods in order to suit a planet or a city or even an individual. However, despite what we may say to them at the core our beliefs are more or less unchanged, and it is only the vehicle through which we preach this truth do we appear to change.
  • Heterodox – People have their own viewpoints to the Emperor’s light, and over time the church has incorporated some of these differences into their faith. Although the Cult would claim the core of their beliefs is unmodified, it definitely does not resemble its initial beliefs.
  • Heretical – This cult incorporates beliefs or worshipping practices that are not readily visible to the common person, and if they were discovered they would be at best disbanded by the Imperium, and much more likely exterminated by the Inquisition. Although they have not been disbanded yet, they have some fundamental core in their belief that is in opposition to the true Imperial Cult that tends to put people off.

Popularity

A certain type of people inside of the Imperium are drawn to this cult more than others. However this does not mean that they are inept at preaching to the other classes, but this would be thought of as their power base inside of the Imperium.

  • Nobles – The nobles of planets are drawn to this Cult, and tend to donate large amounts of capital into the church. The majority of such Cults would preach a low-effort path to the Emperor, but these can come in all beliefs depending on the nature of the Cult.
  • Middle-Class – A firm powerbase that is a halfway point of upwardly mobile citizenry and numbers. Cults with this power base tend to be popular and recognised, and frequently attract some congregates from all walks of life in the Imperium.
  • Downtrodden – The downtrodden and underhivers may not bring capital into the church, but my word they bring in the numbers. Cults that are popular with this group attract huge numbers to their services, and as a result tend to experience vast growth once they reach a certain amount of profit.
  • Void-born – Voidships tend to attract a certain type of missionary that is different from a planet bound one. These Cults tend to be incredibly mobile and de-centralized, and spread farther and faster than most other Cults in the Imperium.
  • Heathens – A lot of mankind still lingers in darkness, and it takes a special type of Cult to specialize in converting them into the Imperial Truth.
  • Criminals – Although a dangerous group to be popular with, there is enough crime that takes place that does not warrant the attention of the Inquisition nor the Arbites, and these groups may still consider themselves pious in their own way, and appreciate a church willing to accept them for that.

Moral Weakness

All Cults have a specific threat that their worshippers tend to fall into over time. Worshippers of this Church must be especially vigilant for these sins inside of themselves.

  • Hubris – Their absolute certainty in their correctness and infallibility means that this group tends to be blinded to the possibility that they might be wrong, and often fall victim to missing an obvious sign of their own corruption as they interpret it as “proof” that the Emperor smiles on them.
  • Complacency – Either their cult is very well established, or new enough to not recognise that they still need to fight, but members of this Cult tend towards passivity or allowing their congregation to come to them with their problems.
  • Fury – Their desire to purge the Imperium of its enemies will often blind them to the correctness of their actions. They could fall into destroying anyone that disagrees with them in the belief that they are doing the Emperor’s work.
  • Overextension – This Cult wants to do everything immediately, and as a result often fails to consider logistics or the practicality of converting an entire Sector based out of one Church. Its members tend to suffer breakdowns or madness from stress
  • Satisfaction – Although the Imperial Truth should be spread to all of its members, these believers tend to take undue pleasure in spreading the word to others. If they are not careful, they will glorify themselves and turn the message into a message carried from them, instead of by them.
  • Inferiority – These Cults look at other beliefs, or nobility or influence and desire to become more like others. Although this passion can drive them to new heights, if left unchecked it can lead to anger and resentment at their lack of success.

Known Cults

Imperial Cults

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