Respect mah authoritah!
8th Nov, 2008

The Imperium is made up of several powerful allied factions: The Armies of Terra (Earth), the Adeptus Mechanicus and their armies (Mars), the Inquisition (Terra), each of the Space Marine chapters (Various worlds) and the Grey Knights (Titan) to name but a few. Each a virtual self-contained autonomous empire in their own right, so how do they interact?

This musing of mine is about the protocols for cooperation between the factions. What is the process that allows one faction to become part of another's chain of command? How is the authority established for joint ventures if each is independent and actively protects and enforces its autonomy? How can it be implemented at the local level, when most humans on many a world have never seen an actual 'Space Marine'? Most only know of them as mythical angels of half-forgotten legends. Or to really push out the boat to make the point, we must consider the shadowy and obsessively secret order the 'inquisitors'. How does a secret organisation assume authority if no one knows about them, or have no idea what an Inquisitor seal is, or how to verify any Inquisitional credentials???

How does and Inquisitor gain power over another Imperial faction yet rIn practical terms, how does and Inquisitor gain power over another Imperial faction, such as the Adeptus Arbites, yet remain 'secret' and not alert those they hunt to their presence?

The idea I come up with is to assign a 'second'; a liaison officer between the The idea I come up with is to assign a 'second'; a liaison officer between the perceived interloping 'allies' and the main body they are interacting with. This allows the force to isolate the influence of the ally through the liaison officer, giving the actual orders to the force's troops.

Space Marines

How this works with Space Marines interacting with the Imperial Guard; the Marine command requests a liaison officer. The Imperial Guard command then assigns a liaison offer to the Marine force. This liaison officer, with a rank as agreed in treaties, grants the Marines the authority equal to the liaison officer's rank. The Marines then use the liaison officer's rank to give commands; the liaison officer is as a proxy. The liaison officer only has to confirm the arrangement with other Imperial Guard officers and units in the field. Once the authority is verified, and the new chain of command established, the liaison can step back. This way, the IG officer in the field knows the orders to obey the Marines is authentic as it came from their own command (and no judgement calls are needed). Even if the Imperial Guard unit has no idea what a Marine is, they know their own officers, and it's the officer that tells the rank and file.

Once set up the Space Marines can now order Imperial Guard units about the place, through the power of the liaison officer, with an effective rank of the liaison officer. This also means that a liaison officer can override Marine orders (though upsetting the marines in battle is not a good idea, and they may dismiss the liaison officer and act unilaterally!).

The great thing about this is that when the Imperial Guard see the liaison officer, they recognise them instantly and accept their authority. It's the liaison officer that vouches for the marines. Without this setup, there could be issues. The Imperial Guard troopers, without confirmation from their own command, could refuse to take an order from a Marine (in battle this may be a stretch, considering how awesome Marines are) as they do not recognise the authority of the marine - which is technically correct as the Marines are not part of the chain of command of the Imperial Guard (none of them wants to be shot by a Commissioner!).

In action, I would imagine that the liaison officer acts more as C&C in the field of battle rather than following the marines about (and if they do, they'll hang back).

I also imagine that the marines may take temporary campaign markings on leg armour and such. Markings similar to tanks (as Marines are like mini-one-man-tanks!)

More on Space Marines


This is where it gets fun as the Inquisitor does not have to proclaim they are an inquisitor merely a 'special investigator' or some other cover. The liaison officer assigned to them for official business does not have to be told who the Inquisitor really is, all that matters is that someone high up in the world's local government has cleared them for access at the highest level possible.

All the people of the world deal with the liaison officer. It is this officer that All the people of a given world will deal with the liaison officer. It is this officer that supplies the 'recognisable authority' to local populous, and provides the units for back up. The inquisitor does not have to show a badge of office; the liaison officer, and the associated unit (Arbites, PDF etc.) is their 'badge of office'.

No enemy or chaos minion is alerted to the presence of the Inquisition. The existence of the Inquisition is neither confirmed or denied. As far as the records show, the Inquisitor was never there, and the operations were all carried out by local units.

This means that all orders for assistance in the field go up through the Inquisitor's chain of command (reports going with it) to the appropriate level (highest level if needs be) and then jumps over to the appropriate level in the chain of command of the faction the Inquisition is dealing with.

The Imperium is not noted for its speed, and this system can cause problems. If an Inquisitor suddenly turns up, without any groundwork and has not been assigned a liaison officer, and demands to requisition a starship from the navy; it can take time. The navy officer does not have to comply (they wouldn't comply under this system) but instead waits for order from their own chain of command to cooperate, and to what level. About all the Inquisitor can do when they show up, and if they want to keep their identity secret, is claim a form of 'diplomatic immunity'. Perhaps provide some codes (probably handled like nuke launch codes) in some form of passport (which does not identify them as an Inquisitor but a noble or some other high-ranking cover).

If a liaison officer from the navy is already in place; the Inquisitor can assume command of any ship, up to the rank of the liaison officer. If the Inquisitor needs more power; they can request it from their own command structure, which works out the details with the navy, who then issues the command.

All nice and neat, and also allows the Inquisition's command and control to keep an eye on their inquisitors!

More on The Inquisition

Best wishes,

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4 Responses

Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concept you'll find here. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years, and I would especially like to thank all those who commented on this specific topic. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!

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  1. Kage2020 says:

    Surely the answer here is that they act as "empire" and, perhaps, even as clients-patrons?


    • Philip S says:

      I introduced this idea to make the politics of the Imperium a little more interesting and improve its security model - in order to highlight how the Imperium could function being made up of autonomous 'factions'.

      This gets around the security weakness of identification paper, e-paper, seals, tokens etc. An Inquisitor has the resources to fake identity papers if they wish, and may powerful individuals have the resources to fake identity papers too. The problem is how does the average Joe verify these papers?

      I figure you'll know an 'Inquisitor' means business because they turn up with police you recognise. The Inquisitor does not even have to identify themselves; as all that really matters to you is the police.

      Example: Imagine if in our world and Inquisitor turns up in their fancy armour and a group of similarly weird retainers. It could be hard to take them seriously at first because they would look like something out of the movies (and GW products!) and your first though may be 'fancy dress' or they are shooting a movie (am I in the shot?). Now imagine the same strange group if surrounded by hordes of police and firearms units (who show respect to the strangers) and it may look different. To push the scenario further, how about the police drag you off and you find yourself in a cell with an Inquisitor jacked into a vacant police officer who is translating what is said into English would you view the situation?

      I important point of this set-up is to allow normal people to, those outside the loop, to respect higher authorities even when these higher authorities are unfamiliar to them. The added bonus is that the higher authorities do not have to start shooting people to prove they are serious, they can use local resources to make that point.


      • Kage2020 says:

        I guess the point might be that the various organisations are not autonomous, but rather interdependent?

        • Philip S says:

          They may be interdependent and that is why the work together, but that does not necessary translate into linking chains of command. America buys oil from Iran, they need Iran, but I doubt either recognise the authority of each other's military over their own.

          The background says the marines are autonomous, as are the Inquisition, the Sisters of Battle, the Navy etc. they are all their own power base. They are more like countries in the UN that an actual empire. The Imperial Guard are not even allowed their own ships!

          This is my attempt to resolve this issue (square the circle)

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