The Imperial Inquisition
GM’s Note: Much of this material was copied or adapted from, or inspired by, articles on Wikipedia describing the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. It exists here because one of the players declared that his character is a member of the Inquisition, working for the Emperor. So I made up an Inquisition.
The Office of the Inquisition was established in response to the influence of the Diabolist and the High Druid in the frontiers and remote areas of the Dragon Empire. In many conquered regions, diabolism and druidism secretly retain their ancient hold on populations who outwardly profess allegiance to the Emperor.
This undercurrent poses a significant threat to the stability of the Empire: citizens who appear to be loyal subjects may, in fact, serve other deep-rooted powers that have claims to rule that rival that of the Emperor, and world-views that deny the legitimacy of the Empire itself.
To a lesser extent the Inquisition is tasked with rooting out secret members of death cults who owed allegiance to the Lich King. However, because the Lich King’s claim to Imperial authority is primarily secular, and he does not question the legitimacy of the Empire’s existence (he merely wants to be the emperor), he is not one of their primary concerns.
In many ways the Inquisition resembles a religious order; indeed, many Inquisitors revere the Emperor as a demigod. All Inquisitors have the mark of the Emperor tattooed on their forearms and over their hearts, and address one another as “Brother” and “Sister.”
Nearly all Inquisitors are human, half-elf or half-orc, though members of any race except Tieflings or class may become an Inquisitor. The Elf Queen forbids elves from becoming Inquisitors, though they are allowed to work with a sergeant (see below.) Inquisitors are likely to have backgrounds that include history, Imperial law, religion, philosophy or occult studies.
Up until recently, the Inquisition’s activities were funded by the seizure and sale of convicted subversives’ property. This practice led to abuses in which wealthy citizens were targeted by Inquisitors in order to fill its coffers. The current Emperor has eliminated the practice: the Inquisition now receives an annual budget just as every other Imperial office does. The Inquisition objects that the prospect of one’s property being seized, potentially leaving one’s family destitute, is a vital deterrent to subversive activity; and furthermore, since the change in policy, the Inquisition lacks the funds it needs to carry out its work effectively.
The Inquisitor General presides over the six-member Supreme Council of the Imperial Inquisition, which is based in Axis. The Inquisitor General and the members of the Supreme Council are appointed by the Emperor with input from the Priestess, the Archmage, the Crusader and the Great Gold Wyrm.
Below the Supreme Council are the tribunals of the Inquisition, which install themselves where they are necessary to combat subversion. They may reside in a town or city on a temporary or semi-permanent basis depending on the need. In the eastern part of the empire, the tribunals primarily focus on druidism; in the west, diabolism.
At its core a tribunal consists of a Senior Inquisitor and two Inquisitors whom he or she supervises. When a suspect is on trial, one Inquisitor acts as the “Accuser” or prosecutor, investigating the denunciations, presenting an accusation, calling witnesses, and interrogating the suspect, using physical and mental torture if deemed necessary. Suspects do not have the right to know the evidence against them.
The other Inquisitor acts as the “Hearer,” evaluating the testimony and evidence using his or her knowledge of subversive activities and organizations, as well as imperial law. The Senior Inquisitor presides over the trial, receives the counsel of the Accuser and Hearer in secret deliberations, evaluates the matter, and passes final judgment.
The core members of the tribunal are also responsible for administrative work, preparing reports for the Supreme Council, and acting as liaison with local authorities both religious and secular.
A tribunal employs a small staff including a secretary, a bailiff, and a sergeant. The sergeant is primarily responsible for the field work of investigation, pursuit and apprehension of a suspect. A sergeant often has hirelings, henchmen or “free companions” that assist him or her in this highly dangerous work.
The sergeant frequently interacts with local law enforcement, to whom he delivers apprehended suspects for imprisonment. Prisoners being investigated by the Inquisition have a bright yellow patch sewn to their clothing.
The penalty for subversion is death by public hanging. The deceased’s body is then burned, and his or her ashes scattered in a location known only to the tribunal.