The Inquisition (The Holy Orders of the Emperor's Inquisition) is an organisation 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.
Inquisitors have been a part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe since the first edition of the game, Rogue Trader. However, they have had a higher profile since the release of the 54 mm miniatures game Inquisitor, which is a narrative game based around warbands which often comprise of an Inquisitor and his henchmen. The creation of Inquisitor was followed by a great deal of information about the Inquisition, and the organization attracted the interest of fans. This led to the creation of Codex: Daemonhunters and Codex: Witch Hunters, both based around armies led by Inquisitors (of the Ordo Malleus and the Ordo Hereticus, respectively). In addition there are online rules for using 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.
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 in reality it also existed to combat the threat of Chaos, then a secret hidden from most forces of the Imperium, including non-Malleus Inquisitors.
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.
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