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"We determine the guilty. We decide the punishment."

Lex Imperialis

The Adeptus Arbites is the adepta of the Adeptus Terra that serves as the galactic police force of the Imperium of Man, responsible for enforcing Imperial Law (the Lex Imperialis) on all Imperial-controlled worlds. The Adeptus Arbites have been granted the right by the High Lords of Terra to serve as judge, jury and executioner for any Imperial citizen they discover having broken Imperial Law. Unfortunately for many Imperial citizens, the concept of due process is not one that generally applies in the Imperium.

However, in those cases where Imperial Law is unclear or the law breaker has committed a truly heinous deed or is of unusually high-ranking stature, the offended will be taken back to an Arbites Precinct House for judgement by an Arbites Judge, the sentence to be carried out immediately. Imperial justice is swift and sure, but not always just.

Only through a constant watch and the execution of often brutal laws can the Imperium survive, and it is the Adeptus Arbites who carry out this function. While the armies of the Astra Militarum struggle to hold back the aggression of alien empires and protect the worlds of Mankind from without, the Adeptus Arbites roots out rebels, recidivists, and threats to the stability of the Imperium from within.

The men and women of the Arbites operate as they see fit, using their greater training and weaponry to tackle foes that might be beyond the scope of local Enforcers, or in many cases to deal with a planetary government which has itself become corrupted. Remorseless and single-minded, Arbitrators do not forgive or forget any crime against Imperial Law, and pursue their quarry relentlessly until the Emperor's justice has been served.

The laws of the Imperium of Man are a complex web of tradition, obligation, and local custom. Thus, they can vary from world to world or sector to sector, with each planetary governor, local prefect, or headman pronouncing their own laws. Arbitrators care little for such trivialities, and enforce the serious crimes against the Imperium while leaving such petty matters to local officials. Murder or theft, for example, are considered inconsequential unless they affect the interests of the wider Imperium directly, are perpetrated against Imperial officials, or somehow fundamentally threaten a world's security or safety and thus its ability to pay its Imperial Tithe.

Arbitrators have little pity or compassion for the transgressions of Imperial citizens. Years of dealing with the scum of the galaxy has made many of them cynical and bitter. Others have become religious zealots, seeing the God-Emperor's divine hand in the letter of the law and only death is deserved for those who would break it.

A few might maintain idealistic notions for bringing order and justice to the Imperium, but the realities of endless, sometimes horrific crimes constantly erode such notions. The arrival of an Arbitrator patrol is seldom welcome among an Imperial world's people, given the brutal way in which they operate during their investigations, arrests, and executions, even though it might mean an end to vicious criminal enterprises or corrupt Imperial or planetary officials.

Arbitrators must deal with ineffectual or corrupt local and planetary government agencies. These are often an Arbitrator's greatest foes as they must clean up a local situation, taking over the Enforcers of a hive city, orbital void station, or even an entire planet to purge it of crime and corruption in a series of bloody and unforgiving sweeps.

On Imperial worlds the Adeptus Arbites are the last, most absolute law, answering only to their commanders and the Judges of star systems and entire sectors, and not to local authorities. It is a thankless task, for the anonymous, helmeted Arbitrator usually only receives fear and hatred from their fellow citizens as a reward for their actions.

The members of the Adeptus Arbites are the final bulwark against heretical uprisings and other major threats. Their precinct-fortress is often the last bastion of Imperial rule during revolutions or invasions, holding out to the very end whilst alerting outside Imperial agencies and adepta of the dire situation. Each Arbitrator knows that should they fall, so follows the planet. To merely survive in such a hostile environment, Arbitrators must show no hesitation, regret, or compassion for those they protect, and they must consider every citizen guilty until they are proven innocent.

The Adeptus Arbites face a monumental task to enforce the law across countless Imperial worlds. Those that take the oaths, don the Carapace Armour, and take Shock Maul in hand are often obsessive and pitiless individuals, who see the law as an extension of the Emperor's will upon His subjects, and its enforcement their sacred duty. Whether they are skilled in combat or possessed of a keen mind, an Arbitrator knows they face an implacable and remorseless foe, one which they must counter with all the talents at their command.

To be part of this adepta is to be apart from one's surroundings, for after training in the Schola Progenium, Arbitrators are never assigned to the world of their birth. They are beyond local authorities, serving none but higher Imperial Law. Once a man or woman puts on the distinctive dark armour of an Arbitrator they stop being merely Human, and are now a representative of the greater Imperium upon a world, there to ensure planetary compliance with Imperial Law.

Arbitrators are always active with investigations and enforcement, for crime never sleeps. The surrounding populace overwhelmingly outnumbers them, so it is essential to detect and crush crime before it grows too strong. On many worlds, Arbitrators bring massive firepower to bear at the slightest hint of resistance, often reacting to crimes before they occur, and preemptively arresting citizens who are "at risk" of becoming criminals.

Skilled Arbitrators are masters of urban conflict and crowd control, with a natural understanding of Imperial societies and the nature of places such as the packed hab-blocks of an overpopulated Hive World or the savage villages of a Feral World, each requiring their own special tactics to police.

Arbitrators often tap local vox-networks, develop networks of spies and informants, and even infiltrate any suspect organisations to snare the lawless in surgical strikes where their superior weaponry and training can prevail over larger forces. Such investigations require long solar hours of dedicated detective work, patience, and cunning to root out actual violations of Imperial Law against the myriad other offences against lesser law enforcement authorities.

Arbitrators' lives are often at risk, and not just from their criminal quarry. During the course of an investigation all manner of things might come to light, including the secrets of powerful individuals in a planetary government. In these cases an Arbitrator can face more danger from supposedly loyal allies than the scum they are pursuing.


"Of course I know who you are. You were the governor here, until you turned your back on your rightful ruler. Now, you're dead."

—Marshall Ranx Wayner
Female Arbiter 2

A female Arbitrator of the Adeptus Arbites wielding a Power Maul.

Throughout the million worlds of the Imperium of Man, crime is rife. Not just the petty crimes of individuals for personal gain, but organised crime on a scale never even considered in Humanity's past.

Entire sub-sectors and planets have been in the thrall of illegal cartels and criminal organisations. There are even wayward planetary governors who shun the Imperium and treat their dominion as their own paltry fiefdom, claiming the planet's natural resources, labour and riches for their own.

In these dire situations it falls to the Adeptus Arbites to defend the Imperium's rights and prevent whole sub-sectors going rogue for generations, or even permanently. The Adeptus Arbites is not a galactic police force; it has little interest in petty crimes such as theft, murder or tax evasion, for these fall under the responsibility of the local planetary enforcement cadres. The Adeptus Arbites is there to keep order on a far greater scale, to root out corruption, maintain the Imperial Tithe and to guard against witchery.

From the Adeptus Arbites come the fearsome Arbitrators. Also sometimes incorrectly known as "Judges" amongst the general populace of the Imperium (this term actually refers to a specific Arbites rank), these men and women are stoic in their duty and unquestionably loyal to the Imperium. Inquisitors often go to the Adeptus Arbites when in need of a trustworthy Acolyte who is trained to think on their feet, combat-hardened and beyond reproach in their faith in the God-Emperor.

Arbitrators are infamous for their prodigious stamina and zeal, and their ability to survive all manner of wounds and punishment in the quest to catch their quarry. Arbitrators are resolute and fearless. They demand utter obedience from the citizens they come into contact with.

Where civil unrest and crime threaten the stability of a world, the Arbitrators are in the field: unflinching, ordering the local Enforcers, and hunting down the rabble-rousers to restore law and order.

The Judges' methods are varied, not unlike the way Inquisitors go about their work. The means used can be different depending on their mentors, what Schola Progenium the individual attended and other such factors. However, unlike Inquisitors who have their own private agendas, all members of the Adeptus Arbites have the same goal and responsibility -- to uphold the Emperor's justice.

Some Arbitrators openly investigate and make no secret who their quarry is, even if they are of noble birth or high rank. This can often lead to overt hostility between the Judge and his subject, although there is no question who off-world forces of the Imperium would side with should they be requested to attend.

This is by no means the only mode of investigation; other officers of the Adeptus Arbites are quite methodical in their approach, meticulously sourcing evidence and questioning contacts and witnesses.

The relationship between the Inquisition and the Adeptus Arbites is often one of the more cordial within the Adeptus Terra. Arbitrators often see working with Inquisitors as a way of further enforcing justice.

However, such arrangements have not always worked so well. It has been known for Judges to turn on the Inquisitors they have been seconded to serve if they perceive the Inquisitor to have broken sacrosanct Imperial laws. This means Inquisitors of the more Radical factions must be wary when recruiting members of the Adeptus Arbites to become their Acolytes.

Notable Arbites Actions

  • Pavonis (Unknown Date.M41) - During the workers' riots on Pavonis, the entire Adeptus Arbites force stationed at the planetary governor's palace was destroyed (save one who had been tasked by Inquisitor Ario Barzano with the personal protection of the governor), but only after holding out for several solar hours and fighting a rearguard action in the secret palace tunnels. They succeeded in destroying Pavonis' largest weaponry and munitions cache, denying its supplies to the traitorous Planetary Defence Force legions.
  • Ichar IV (ca.992.M41) - During the beginning of Hive Fleet Kraken's approach, rioting began to consume planets near the southeastern fringe of the Imperium. Inquisitor Agmar investigated these strange riots for signs of treasonous thoughts or heretical influence. On Ichar IV, a religious fundamentalist group called the Brotherhood was the cause of the rioting. Although they preached a faith like that of the Imperial Cult, they refused to obey Imperial commands or pay their tithe. Soon after this act of defiance they started instigating riots among the masses. While trying to break up one such riot, the Arbitrators of the planet were quickly surrounded by what seemed to be mobs organized from the complete population of the planet. When the local Planetary Defence Force regiment was called to help, it was quickly made apparent that they, too, had sided with the rebel mobs. After the assassination of the planetary governor, the Brotherhood established itself as the sole controlling force on Ichar IV. Inquisitor Agmar arrived on Ichar a few weeks after the outbreak of rebellion and on the same day that the Arbites precinct fortress in the capital, Lomas, was finally overrun. The Arbitrators were not defeated and most of their number escaped along a secret tunnel and captured the city's four main power generators. Inquisitor Agmar led assaults on the capital, but he was unable to rescue the Arbitrators who were overrun just six days after his arrival. With their final act, they destroyed the city's power generators. Because of the destruction of the city's power grid, the Ultramarines (who arrived just 39 days later) were able to retake the planet. It was later revealed that the Brotherhood was controlled by Genestealers.
  • Typhos Prime (Unknown Date.M41) - As a Tyranid hive fleet approached the Typhon Sector, the Inquisitor Oriel of the Ordo Xenos released a Genestealer into the Astra Militarum fortress city of Coritanorum on the sector's capital world of Typhos Prime in an attempt to find ways of defeating the approaching Great Devourer. The predictable result was a rebellion against Imperial authority by the resulting Genestealer Cult established within the Typhos Supreme Guard, the world's Planetary Defence Force, and the outbreak of civil war. To deal with the rebellion, the local Typhos Adeptus Arbites greatly increased their patrols and locked down many of the surrounding cities. The world's leadership called in the forces of the Astra Militarum's Mordian Iron Guard to put down the rebellion while the local Commissariat took command of the Arbitrators for the two standard years that the civil war raged. Ultimately, the rebellion was put down after Oriel called in the Astra Militarum's 13th Penal Legion who successfully disabled the reactor coolant systems of Coritanorum, leading to the fortress' destruction. It was then that the evidence of Oriel's complicity in the original rebellion was discovered. As a result, Oriel was not allowed to evacuate with the 13th Penal Legion and was killed in the explosion of Coritanorum.


While every advanced Imperial planet has its own local planetary police forces colloquially known as Enforcers and its own local laws, the Arbites are responsible for enforcing the broader laws of the Imperium, the Lex Imperia, ensuring Imperial planetary governors do not plot against the Emperor's rule, and that all Imperial laws and decrees are followed.

The enforcement of a planet's local laws is not the concern of the Adeptus Arbites. These are left to the local law enforcement agencies. The Adeptus Arbites also serves to keep planetary governors in check; if an Imperial governor decides to skip their Imperial Tithes for a standard year or ignore requests for troops from an embattled neighbour or the Administratum itself, one glance at the armoured fortress-precinct house of the Adeptus Arbites is usually more than enough to make him or her reconsider.

Duties and Powers

"You have been accused, in the Emperor's Name, of the crime of Piracy. You have the right to confess to your crime and seek absolution for your sins. Pleas for leniency will not be heard."

— Master Chastener Grigor Cardainn
Arbite aboard vessel

Arbitrator aboard an Imperial Navy vessel

Although the adepta's headquarters is the Hall of Judgement on Terra, the Arbitrators are stationed on almost every advanced Imperial world in fortified fortress-precincts. Arbitrators are recruited from the Adeptus Ministorum's Schola Progenium facilities (the Ecclesiarchy's schools for the orphans of Imperial servants who have given their lives in the Emperor's service) across the Imperium.

In the event of a planet-wide collapse of Imperial control, the Arbites can decree martial law and take control until a suitable military command can be established, generally under an Astra Militarum force. Even in circumstances that are not as extreme, Arbitrators have legal power over most of the people in the Imperium.

They are authorized to arrest, interrogate, and execute planetary, sub-sector, or even sector governors should the occasion warrant it, and can do the same to officers of the Astra Militarum and the Imperial Navy (although custom dictates that they must seek permission from the Commissariat, the organisation responsible for enforcing military law in the Astra Militarum).

Only the very highest-ranking individuals and Imperial institutions are above the dictates of Imperial Law (the Imperial Inquisition, the Adeptus Astartes, the Navis Nobilite, etc.), something that reflects powerfully on the mutual awe and terror in which the Arbitrators are held across the galaxy.

Commanded by the Grand Provost Marshal of the Adeptus Arbites, who is one of the High Lords of Terra, the Arbites maintains an uncompromising attitude towards crime and hands out harsh sentences for violations, including summary execution, helping to make its officers in their dreaded black uniforms into symbols of fear across the Imperium.

The Arbites is, for all intents and purposes, the practical militant arm of the Adeptus Terra. It presents a united legal front across the galaxy -- it is concerned only with citizens following Imperial Law, and remains separate from enforcing local (planetary) laws.

Arbitrators go to great lengths to remain aloof and separate from the populations they police, often only appearing to patrol and drag some poor unfortunate back to their terrifying precinct-fortresses.

Precinct Fortresses

The Arbitrators operate out of massive precinct-fortresses, located within capital cities in close proximity to the planetary governor of major Imperial worlds. Sprawling hive cities may also have their own Courthouse Precinct to aid in large scale monitoring.

Remote planets of little importance may have just a single fortified precinct house for the single Arbitrator stationed there. Whatever their number on a world, or relative size and importance, every precinct-fortress is broadly similar.

They are severe, utilitarian buildings with black armoured walls as thick as a military bunker. Their towering shapes exude an air of menace, frowning down on the other buildings nearby and the citizens who hurry fearfully past.

Though each precinct varies based on the needs and environment of the world it is built on, many include the same basic elements: billets for the Arbitrators, an extensive armoury to ensure they are well-equipped for the job at hand, secure cells in which to detain suspects ready for questioning or trial, and a court of judgement where guilt and punishment is determined.

These resources can vary greatly, as a precinct with only a single Arbitrator may have limited ability to hold the guilty until the time of their punishment, and summary execution may be the Arbitrator's only viable course of action. Monitoring arrays allow the users to listen in on local communications and heavy calibre automated weapon turrets track passing vehicles.

Larger precincts may contain additional facilities at the discretion of the High Marshal or Judge such as specialised interrogation rooms fitted out with all manner of devices for extracting information from those who find themselves strapped to the table, medicae centres containing automated equipment and surgeon-servitors to treat the wounds of injured agents, and Astropathica shrines where pleas for aid can be transmitted to other planets and incoming messages painstakingly decoded.

Planetary governors often resent the Imperial oversight represented by the precinct-fortresses on their world. However, in the event of widespread civil unrest and rebellion, they can provide sanctuary from the raging mobs and form the base from which the uprising will be crushed.

In the case of a hostile invasion, the Arbites may well be the only ones with the means to send for Imperial reinforcements, and their armoured fortresses often become a rallying point and central hub of the resistance.

Assistance rarely arrives quickly enough to save the population, but behind their thick walls and heavy doors, it is the Arbitrators' duty to hold out for as long as possible, until the last scrap of food is gone and the last round of ammunition has been fired.

Imperial Law

"He demands? The demands of the law come first, even in Hive Tarsus."

— Regulator Hanz Rikennan, IVth Precinct, Hive Tarsus.
Magister & Adeptus Arbite Sacrifice

A Lord Marshal and his fellow Arbitrators prepare to sell their lives dearly to a force of Tyranid Genestealers.

Unlike the members of the Inquisition, the Arbitrators (also sometimes called Arbiters) of the Adeptus Arbites are unable to freely judge or sentence other Imperial citizens at will.

The only mandate an Arbitrator is sworn to uphold and enforce to the letter is formally known as the Dictates Imperialis, the laws of the Imperium as set by the Adeptus Terra; local laws are not the Arbitrators' concern, nor do they fall under their jurisdiction, and those are left to be enforced by local law enforcement agencies.

Likewise, they owe no allegiance to any local Imperial Commander or planetary governor and are themselves above any planetary law. The Lex Imperialis is a collection of laws, rules, precedents, and other legal protocols collected from the decrees of the Emperor of Mankind in ancient times and the High Lords of Terra over the last ten millennia. An Arbitrator could spend solar decades researching and studying the law for one case.

The Imperial Law that the Arbites enforce is thousands of Terran years old and, in some cases, is potentially irrational and oppressive. It could be as much a crime to be kidnapped under certain circumstances as it is to kidnap an individual.

Any crime which concerns the Arbites is already severe, and the usual punishment is death, either through immediate execution or the delayed death sentence of conscription into a Penal Legion of the Astra Militarum.

The common Imperial citizen has no legal right to a trial beyond the judgment of an Arbitrator once the Arbites are called in to deal with a crime. Other punishments include public lashings, and death by burning in the case of certain religious heresies.

With the permission of the Ecclesiarchy, for crimes of heresy or crimes conducted by an Adeptus Ministorum priest who has abused their office, the sentence is usually that of Arco-flagellation.

Lex Imperialis and the Book of Judgement

"I can also correct you on a point of formal law. We are the Adeptus Arbites. The vessel by which the Emperor's laws have travelled down the ages. We light and keep the beacon of the Emperor’s Law so that all His Imperium can guide their lives by it, and we see to it that those who turn away from that beacon and cause themselves and others to stumble are made to pay. We determine the guilty, we decide the punishment. I have witnessed judgments of officers of the Navy and of the Imperial Guard and of planetary and system governors. I have twice helped to pass sentence on men and women of both those organizations, some of them more highly ranked than you, gate-captain."

— Attributed to Arbitor Senioris Calpurnia

The Lex Imperialis, the code of Imperial Law, is written down in the Book of Judgement kept by the Adeptus Arbites. The Book of Judgement has been painstakingly collected, annotated and collated over millennia and embodies every decree ever passed by the Emperor Himself or the High Lords of Terra.

In fact, the Book of Judgement has long-since grown beyond the confines of a single tome, no matter how large, and comprises countless records, books, and legal decrees.

The most ancient articles are written on crumbling parchments, enscribed in unknown Human tongues by the nameless functionaries of a forgotten age. However, every day new volumes of parchment, data-records, and encoded holoscript are added to the Book of Judgement, and interred within the reinforced confines of the Hall of Judgement on Terra. Shelves of tomes rise hundreds of metres towards the vaulted ceilings above canyons of marble and iron.

Over the ages, the Hall of Judgement has been expanded and extended many times, so that it is now an entire complex covering many acres, with kilometres of corridors, levels, and rooms. Scholars, scribes, and law lords pace the time-worn marble floors, while above their heads, on the narrow gantries and ladders that cover the shelf stacks like a spider's web, crawl legal assistants and low-ranking functionaries, searching through the detritus of judgement for solar weeks and months at a time to find just a single reference.

Sectors ruled by the Imperium follow the precepts of the Lex Imperialis and the Book of Judgement. Over the centuries, of course, the interpretation of the Lex Imperialis by various sector lords and Judges became more and more bloated and unwieldy from numerous additions, amendments, exceptions, and clauses, the result of interpreting Imperial Law to the needs of specific locales.

There exists a veritable army of thousands of clerks, litigants, and barristers toiling away on a sector's capital world just to interpret its ever evolving decrees and dicta.

Indeed, the most astute Rogue Traders, trade houses, and merchant interests keep their own teams of legal scholars in their employ, both to keep them abreast of the current state of law in a given sector where they do business as well as to give them protection and guidance should they become embroiled in legal proceedings.

Rogue Traders often send one of their cargo vessels to a sector's capital world once a solar decade to obtain the most up-to-date records of the Lex Imperialis as interpreted by that sector's law.

Every Adeptus Arbites Judge, at some point in their career, attempts a pilgrimage to the Hall of Judgement on Terra, there to study the full intricacies of Imperial Law. Many spend long standard years there, for the most heinous, subtle, or far-reaching crimes often require a lengthy process of research to pass judgement.

While the Dictates Imperialis are extensive, the huge volume of prior cases and sometimes contradictory rulings can make it difficult to determine the correct decision. In especially complex cases, it may take Terran centuries to reach an outcome -- a Judge may spend their entire life deliberating, scrutinising, and trying to fathom out the issues, only to pass their work on, unfinished, for others to continue.

Millennia later, though the accused are long dead, a ruling is finally made and justice must be meted out upon the distant descendants and those obscurely associated with the original transgressor.

Lex Imperialis and the Calixis Sector

The codified Lex Imperialis is a labyrinth of laws and ordinances that govern the Imperium's scattered worlds. Imperial Law is, for the most part, brutal and unyielding, yet understanding every nuance of its breadth and scope is an impossible task.

In addition, the Lex Imperialis can be interpreted with a myriad of minute differences across the galaxy, which are as many as the innumerable different Human cultures that comprise the Imperium itself.

More importantly, the Lex Imperialis does not deal with the laws of specific planets. Instead, it deals with the rule of the Imperium: in other words, the Imperial Tithe and the legal workings of the Imperium as a whole, the law codes that bind the Human-settled galaxy together within a single, if feudal, interstellar government.

Within the Calixis Sector, the Adeptus Arbites and other Imperial agents tend towards a fairly "average" interpretation of the Lex Imperialis, if such an interpretation can be said to exist. Of course, even then each Judge and Arbitrator has their own interpretation of the finer points of Imperial Law, and each one's view of the Lex Imperialis is different.

Corpus Presidium Calixis

While the mighty Dictates Imperialis contains the writ of the Emperor's holy word, the rulings of the High Lords of Terra, and the enumerable precedents and judgements of the great and the just among the Adeptus Arbites themselves, it is not the whole of the law. Indeed, it is far from it.

The Corpus Presidium Calixis is the name given to the collected laws, enshrined rights, and traditions of the Calixis Sector itself. It holds sway over the lives of billions, forming the bedrock of the lord sector's rule.

Much of it is a reiteration (or interpretation) of the tenets of the holy Dictates Imperialis and other strictures laid down in the ordinances of the Segmentum Obscurus of which the Calixis Sector is a part. However, a great part of the Dictates is individual and unique to the Calixis Sector.

Of this latter portion, much was writ during the Angevin Crusade and its aftermath, either by Lord Militant Golgenna Angevin himself, his advisors, and most importantly, by the hand of Saint Drusus.

These documents do much to enshrine the rule of law in the sector and establish the power and strength of the nobility, the rights of the great houses and the laws of dynastic succession, and to lay down the strictures in which the Combine Commercia, the corporations and commercial houses of the sector, operate.

These ancient laws, given under a Warmaster's authority and ratified by an Imperial saint, have a provenance and weight that is difficult to overturn or ignore. Even the other Imperial adepta and the Ordos Calixis of the Inquisition must consider their import carefully before acting against them.

Imperial Law and the Adeptus Arbites

To aid their investigations, most Arbites Precinct Fortresses boast a cogitator stack containing a massively abridged version of just a portion of those judgements and precedents of the Lex Imperialis that fall commonly into the Arbitrators' local purview. These rulings by segmentae Judges, High Marshals and even the Lords Marshal themselves, are designed to expedite the work of an individual Arbitrator.

The Imperium of Man is ultimately a theocracy, and although the Arbites wield and police temporal authority, religious concepts make up the bedrock of Imperial Law. The Lex Imperialis holds that the Emperor rightfully expects service and obedience from every Human being in the galaxy, and that within the Imperium that expectation is made manifest through the scripture of His laws.

To break the Lex Imperialis is not only to disobey a law of the government, it is to violate the immaculate and divine moral order those laws set out. This violation of a divine order -- this sin -- is present in every crime the Arbites investigate, and once this reality is understood the need for harsh methods and stern penalties becomes clear. For the Arbites, there is no such thing as a petty crime.

This is also why the heresy of abstractionism -- the attempt by some Arbitrators to go beyond the bounds of the letter of the law in the search for justice -- is so reviled by right-thinking Arbites. It places the flawed and hubristic whims of an individual above the clean, majestic structures of the Emperor's laws as made manifest through the due scripture of His servants. The letter of the law is immaculate -- to claim access to the spirit of the law is to claim equality with the Emperor, a crime and a blasphemy which no Arbitor should countenance.

There are a number of broad crimes the Arbites constantly find themselves fighting. There are crimes of destabilisation, committed on scales taking in whole planetary populations. These are the waves of anarchy that can break across a world from disobedient anger at adepta rule, or the criminal loss of discipline in the face of disaster or famine.

It can be panic at imminent or actual invasion, or a hive-, continent-, or planetwide religious fervour that skews the perspective of the masses and sees them in flagellant processions or hysterical mass confessions rather than keeping the wheels of the Imperium turning.

Where a planetary governor cannot restrain their citizens the Arbites must take the lead and set the example, breaking rioters, crushing panics, and showing the mob the meaning of Imperial loyalty and discipline. Invariably, when the Arbites must take such action, the governor will be called to account for his or her loss of control, and few survive their verdict.

It is said the Lex Imperialis allows that crimes of destabilisation may arise from raw passions ineffectively contained. Crimes of sedition have no such mitigation -- they result from the cold and careful intention to strike at the perfect machinery of Imperial rule.

Blasphemy, heresy, the spreading of freethinking propaganda, and the deliberate and knowing defiance of Arbites law are all crimes of sedition, as are physical and moral assaults on the instruments of Imperial rule. A mind capable of deliberate sedition could be capable of anything, and the punishments for it are ruthless and terrifying to contemplate.

To enforce every mandate within the Lex Imperialis is a nearly impossible task. These codices of law are so enormous and erudite that few individuals can claim to know all of their secrets or loopholes. Even the Judges of the Arbites must regularly confer with archive-savants and librarium cogitation engines in order to make their rulings.

Working for the local planetary Enforcers or powerful nobles during the all-too-rare trials, the legal experts make up a group of rare legal minds. These steadfast scholars spend solar decades poring over the Lex Imperialis, learning its every nuance and interpretation.


In special cases, Arbitrators may be granted a considerable degree of independence and latitude in pursuing transgressors of the law. This may take them away from their regular duties for extended periods and even necessitate travel off-planet, if that is where the trail leads. It is hardly surprising then, if their inquiries bring them to the notice of an Inquisitor, who may request their ongoing services as an Acolyte.

This is usually a harmonious relationship, as both are implacable servants of the Imperium and are dedicated to rooting out those that would see it fall, and many Inquisitors count Arbitrators among their most trusted servants.

Of course, Inquisitors are invested with completely discretionary powers to determine a course of action and punishment, in stark contrast to the iron dictates of the law that the Arbitrators must follow.

Any bending of the rules or leniency granted to wrongdoers by the Inquisition in return for information and favours may well cause friction. As such, members of the Adeptus Arbites are better suited as the Acolytes of Puritan Inquisitors. It is not unheard of for Arbitrator Acolytes to turn upon Radical Inquisitors if they perceive an unforgivable law has been broken.

The sponsorship of an Inquisitor can provide a considerable boost to the career of an Arbitrator. The word of a senior member of the Holy Ordos goes a long way to improving the chances of an Arbitrator in being elevated to the high rank of Judge. Of course, the Inquisitor will then expect the Judge to serve them as well as the Arbites, gaining by extension the Judge's sweeping power and Imperial authority at a level few other Inquisitorial agents possess.

In fact, given a Judge's great standing and responsibility, their relationship with an Inquisitor is often something close to an equal partnership. Facing such a combination, the enemies of the Imperium will surely fall.

Law in Dispute

The Adeptus Arbites are the chief enforcers of the Emperor's law. On the countless worlds of the Imperium, it is the steel gauntlet of the Arbites that ensures the inviolable law of the Emperor is followed.

It is the Arbitrators who stand ready to enforce the law of the Imperium over the regulations and concerns of planetary rulers, and it is the Arbitrators who are the first line of defence against rebellion and anarchy.

They are the rigid, unbreakable order of the Imperium personified. Yet just as rust can creep into the cracks of the toughest armour, so discord can fester in these protectors of Imperial rule.

The written law of the great Book of Judgement, or the Dictates Imperialis as it is more properly known, is unforgiving, but neither is it simple nor brief. The law of the Imperium is vast and considered divinely-inspired, yet it is not so great in size that it covers every eventuality.

In such cases where the law fails to give clear guidance, a case must be judged in line with any precedence set by previous judgements. Between the vagaries of interpretation and the weight of precedence fall many disputes and contradictions, some of which even an Arbites Judge cannot reconcile.

Thus, an unbending approach to the Emperor's law can lend authority to the indiscriminate killer as easy as it can the guardian of order, and a judgement once made can create licence for all manner of actions normally beyond consideration until a greater judgement contradicts it.

Quality of Judgement

The Judges of the Adeptus Arbites are mighty lords, clad in the raiment and traditions of a long past age. They wield the absolute and unforgiving law of the Imperium with brutal and unyielding exaction, for it is given to them to stand guard against the treachery of those beneath them and the excesses and ambitions of those in power. Not least of all this includes the Imperial Commanders and their agents who directly govern the Imperium's many worlds.

Each Judge may command their own armed forces of Arbitrators and may call upon the other resources of the Imperium if they require it. Trusting no one and nothing but the letter of the law, they are able to hold almost all within the Imperium to account.

The power of the senior Judges and High Marshals of the Adeptus Arbites is almost equal to that of the Inquisition -- except they are bound entirely by the hierarchy of the Imperium and cannot step beyond the measure of the Dictates Imperialis.

Given such power and responsibility, it is possible for the judgement of these men and women to stray and for them to find themselves following a path of conflict with other agencies of the Imperium. So it is that instances of heresy and strife relating to the Adeptus Arbites most often have their root in the Judges.

While they may be inflexible in the execution of their duties, and unflinching in their authority, there are some threats against which neither the word of the law nor strength of arms offer any defence.

Crime of Abstraction

Although extremely rare, abstractionism is considered by some to be the oldest sin those empowered to enforce Imperial Law may commit. For all of the wisdom accumulated by venerable Judges, the shadow of abstraction clings to their office like a leech.

"Abstractionism" is a term applied to a condition of criminal deviancy in Arbitrators who come to see the letter of the law as inadequate to the task of executing their duties in an expedient manner. Instead, they come to rely on summary judgement over evidence and due process.

The worst stray into vigilantism, meting out punishment and death for perceived or even potential crimes rather than real ones. This creed is considered a vile heresy, a breaking of the Arbites' oath, and a crime punishable by death if discovered.

Of course those who fall into this heresy feel they are on the side of the righteous and that their own sense of the law and moral imperative are a guide to truth and judgement in an uncaring universe. In the worst of cases, such as the long-suppressed Cerpicia Precinct incident on the world of Hredrin, unauthorised and unmarked Arbites Kill-teams were sent to execute criminals at the behest of an illegal "star chamber" of judgement.

Venerable Marshals used their subordinates to assassinate members of other Imperial agencies who they felt "must" be Heretics. In such rare and dangerous cases, the slide from persecuting the enemies of the Imperium to becoming one can be a swift journey indeed.

Tragically, it is often the most intelligent, faithful, and dedicated among the Judges and Marshals that fall to the sin of abstractionism in their desire to do the Emperor's work. They doom themselves to a Traitor's death if they are discovered by their fellow Arbitrators, and worse should the Ordo Hereticus claim them.

Disputes of Jurisdiction

Conflicts between the Adeptus Arbites and other Imperial agencies most commonly occur as disputes over which has authority to enforce Imperial Law and which law applies in a given case. Many Judges see the letter of Imperial Law as not only absolutely unbending but without boundaries or limits.

Zealous Arbitrators have been known to seize and execute agents of the Ministorum for executing Heretics without recourse to the law, or bullishly intervene on the discovery of some cult or secret agency only to later discover that they have jeopardised a covert Inquisitorial investigation.

To some foolish or fanatic Judges, such distinctions as the sanctity of a Navigator's ancient privileges or an Imperial noble's rights and title are subservient to the requirements of the law. To them, the greater weight of the law outweighs other considerations in any and all cases.

Most often such activities are reined in by the Arbitrator's high command before conflict can turn to violence or even open warfare. On rare occasions, a senior Marshal or Judge (knowing full well the risks of doing so), might start a secret investigation against an agency whose immunity from the law they cannot accept. Whether they are right or wrong in their suspicions, bloodshed is the often inevitable result.

Enforcer Cadres

Many worlds have their own cadres of Enforcers, local law enforcement agencies provided by the Imperial Commander to enforce their will and the common law of their world. Unlike the mighty Arbitrators, most Enforcers, or whatever other local title they use, hold little loyalty to the law itself or to the tradition of service (although there are notable exceptions to this).

Instead they function as the iron hand of the planetary governor's rule at best, and are at worst little more than hired thugs with some degree of official sanction -- loyal only to their paymaster and eminently venial and corruptible.

Within the Calixis Sector, the role and nature of Enforcer cadres vary widely. Perhaps the most well-organised and numerous force is the Magistratum of Scintilla, a paramilitary force that serves as the direct agency of the office of the lord governor.

The Magistratum numbers tens of thousands of armed men and women, nearly as well resourced as the Adeptus Arbites. At the other end of the scale, worlds such as Luggnum, whose communities are scattered across numerous mining camps and shanty towns, make do with Regulators and Rail Agents to maintain order and dispense rough justice. Many of these are little better than bandits and extortionists themselves.

Some worlds, either through culture or simple lack of technology, do without Enforcer cadres at all, the ruling classes and their private armies being in sole charge.

Although this arrangement is most common on Feudal and Feral Worlds, it is not exclusive to them, and indeed Malfi, a sub-sector capital and a Hive World second only to Scintilla in the Calixis Sector, is largely governed and civil order maintained by the armsmen of its Great Houses. Its small Enforcer cadres are little more than over-armed door wardens and palace guards.

In most cases, the Adeptus Arbites and the Inquisition view Enforcer cadres with some suspicion, if not outright distrust, concerning their competence, loyalty and professionalism, often with good reason.

Adepta Organisation


A Marshal armed with Bolt Pistol and Shock Maul, responsible for leading all the Arbitrators on a single world or even several star systems.

The overall leader of the Adeptus Arbites is the Grand Provost Marshal, who represents the Arbitrators on the Senatorum Imperialis as one of the High Lords of Terra. Below the Grand Provost Marshal are the senior Arbites officers known as the "Marshals of the Court" who oversee sector-spanning administrative jurisdictions that are called "Precincts."

Below the Marshals of the Court, the Arbites are internally divided into two primary divisions; the Judges, who deal with actual legal matters and the application of ten thousand standard years of Imperial Law to criminal and civil cases, and Arbitrators, the paramilitary law enforcement arm of the Arbites who perform the work necessary to apprehend and punish those who break the dictates of the Lex Imperialis.

Arbitrators and Judges operate in parallel organisations within the Adeptus Arbites, though the two separate organisations join at the highest ranks when senior Judges and Arbitrators are raised to become Marshals of the Court. Senior Arbites fulfill both roles, with Judges getting their hands dirty apprehending criminals in the field, and Arbitrators learning to preside over lengthy court trials.

There are numerous ranks and roles within each of the Arbites divisions, such as the squads of Verispex technicians who provide forensic evidence drawn from a crime scene to the Judges and Arbitrators, the Chaplains who provide the spiritual sustenance of the Imperial Cult to the Arbitrators and the Chasteners who are experts in the psychological and physical interrogation of prisoners.

For their part, the Arbitrators are divided into many different functional roles, each trained and equipped accordingly. Patrol groups of Arbitrators prowl the dangerous underhives of hive cities, Shock Troops break up the vicious queue wars which often develop outside Imperial government buildings belonging to the bureaucrats of the Administratum, Execution Teams hound the guilty through barren wastes and labyrinthine tunnels, and Snatch Squads apprehend targets for interrogation by the Chasteners.

Other kinds of Arbitrators include cyber-warfare specialists who apprehend cyber-criminals through the cogitator matrices of the Administratum and specialists who carry out more long-term investigations who are known as Arbitrator Detectives. Senior Arbitrators are often awarded the rank of Proctor and placed in command of the different types of Arbitrator squad.

DH17-19-Chastener-VictorPCorbella 2

An Adeptus Arbites Chastener, the interrogation specialists of the adepta.

Arbites installations are maintained on almost every Imperial world and are known as precinct-fortresses or precinct courthouses. Each precinct courthouse includes an armoured installation that serves as an armoury, training ground, barracks, prison and judgment hall.

In order to remain fully aloof and separate from the populations they patrol, precincts are as close to fully-enclosed and fortified cities as they can be, and include dungeons, barracks, firing ranges, scriptories, archives, warehouses, kitchens, gymnasia and garages. They include all possible resources that the Arbitrators require -- including their own Astropath facilities and access to orbital docks. These courthouses are intended to be self-sufficient and to support a complete Arbites army and they are equipped as such.

Amongst the most highly trained and disciplined individuals in the Imperium, Arbitrators may find themselves commissioned to join the retinue of an Inquisitor as an Inquisitorial Acolyte.

The Arbites has strong ties in particular with the Ordo Hereticus, and the two can often be found working towards common goals. Arbitrators in these retinues are ironically often known as "Enforcers," having been released from their single-world jurisdiction, and free to punish law-breakers wherever they may be.

Recruitment and Promotion

Arbitrators are recruited from exceptional members of the Schola Progenium from all over the Imperium. This organisation fosters the orphaned children of high-ranking Imperial servants (whether they are scholars, scribes, or soldiers) and grooms them for their own life of dedicated service to the Emperor. Those chosen for service in the Adeptus Arbites are selected for a variety of reasons.

Such candidates could be those who dominated their fellow progenia though force of will, or those who show an attention to detail and an analytical mind. Ultimately, any candidate must be exceptional if they are to serve within the Adeptus Arbites.

It is ensured that new Arbitrators have no ties or connections whatsoever to the world on which they are to be stationed, so there is no weakness for blackmail or coercion to exploit -- Arbitrators are famously incorruptible.

Though the term "Arbitrator" is often used to indicate the members of the Adeptus Arbites as a whole, there are in fact many ranks within a given sector that may be bestowed upon such individuals. These titles are selected for each world or sub-sector to instill fear in the local culture.

In a sector rife with heresy (such as the Calixis Sector) it is crucial that an Adeptus Arbites officer is instantly obeyed. Therefore, a Lord Marshal might allow individual precincts to title their officers as they best see fit, and these titles often deviate greatly from precinct to precinct. Furthermore, specialists found within a sector often find their titles altered, even from one locale to another.

Once trained and deployed on-world, the lowest ranks are most commonly seen patrolling the streets in small squads, discouraging trouble by their menacing presence. This is especially true in many of the hive cities of a highly populated Hive World, which serve as a proving and burial ground for many fledgling Arbitrators.

Those novice Arbitrators who prove themselves may be promoted to the ranks of Investigator, a title chosen to strike fear into the nobles of an Imperial world, who have many secrets. Some may show themselves to be highly capable in the field, even in high pressure, life-threatening situations, and be tasked with guiding field operations. Others are tireless at rooting out evidence and leads, as well as having an excellent command of Imperial Law and how to apply it, and they may be promoted to even higher ranks.

Many Lord Marshals value skill, tenacity, and faith, and to that end, higher and more specialised appointments are awarded to those officers with exceptional talents in particular areas. Those who truly excel in the detection of crime may become the ultimate spymasters, tacticians, and forensic experts. No wrongdoer is too well-hidden to escape their notice or evade their cunningly laid traps.

Those who specialise in trial and prosecution, who boast an encyclopedic knowledge of the Lex Imperialis and a gift for oratory and incisive accusation, may be tasked with presiding over glorious show-trials and passing judgement upon those great individuals who have failed in their duties to the Emperor.

Arbitrators whose particular skills lie in the application of extreme brutality and military force or the command of troops in battle, and who have proven time and again that they are nigh impossible to kill, may be promoted to the level of Proctor or Marshal. Proctors derive their name from ancient military traditions in the underhive of Gunmetal City on Scintilla, a term that carries with it an air of divine justice. They specialise in crushing riots and insurrection in the most hostile of districts deep within a hive city's steel and iron caverns.

Arbites High Marshals are the commanders who control the deployment of resources across the precincts of an entire planet or even multiple planetary systems. They serve at the direct appointment of the Lord Marshal, and there is no higher Imperial legal authority on a planet, unless an Inquisitor decides to "open a dialogue" on the subject. It is they who bear the heavy burden of allocating Arbitrators and equipment, trusting to their own judgement and the Emperor's will that their forces will be in the right place at the right time.

A few remarkable individuals may, after a long and illustrious career, be elevated to the rank of Judge. Judges are iron-willed lords of Imperial justice, who have far-reaching powers, an extraordinary mandate, and influence not far below that of an Inquisitor. They investigate and sit in judgement over those who commit the most heinous crimes, and will go to any lengths to pursue and capture or destroy a perpetrator.

All Arbitrators of high rank will readily deliver their sentence personally, through the barrel of a gun, and have the power to deploy the uncompromising force of the Arbitrators when it is necessary. Should the need arise, perhaps if an entire planet has fallen to civil unrest, they even have the influence to request, and receive, the full might of the Astra Militarum to restore the Pax Imperialis (though in such cases, the population of the planet is often substantially reduced).

It should be noted that while the Adeptus Arbites enforce galaxy-wide Imperial Law, every world and star system will have its own local laws, inherited through tradition or imposed by autocratic ruling families and severe planetary governors. Each world's rulers will maintain their own policing force, recruited locally, and often outnumbering the Arbitrators a thousand to one -- these local law enforcement officers are commonly known in Imperial jargon simply as "Enforcers," though they are each called by their own title on each world they serve.

These native Enforcers often mimic the Arbites in appearance, but their local ties and often less rigorous standards mean that they are far more susceptible to corruption. The objectives of local Enforcers and Imperial Arbitrators often overlap, and the two work in conjunction when it is mutually beneficial. However, there are also occasions when they come into direct conflict.

In practice, the Arbitrators are tasked to punish criminal activity, root out cultists and illegal gatherings, eliminate organised gangs, and are often unleashed en masse to quell riots. They must be as willing to dispense justice as they are to pronounce it.

Often the punishment will be a swift bullet to the brain (or the perpetrator will have expired during the process of apprehension and interrogation). Other sentences, amongst the hundreds of thousands available in Imperial Law, include flogging, limb amputation, exile to a Penal World, condemnation to a Penal Legion, public execution, or conversion into a servitor.

Arbitrators have the power to commandeer local Enforcers and other resources such as ground vehicles or air transportation, the services of freelance bounty hunters if their own manpower is lacking, and in dire circumstances can summon Imperial military assistance. Their authority supersedes even that of the local planetary governor, who will be closely scrutinized if there is any suspicion that their duties are not being undertaken with all due diligence.

If the governor is late in the payment of Imperial tithes, is less than thorough in enforcing the population's proper worship of the God-Emperor, or is tempted to decline sending troops to the aid of an embattled neighbour, the Arbites will be watching. In times of crisis and conflict, it is possible that a planetary governor may be assassinated, deposed, incapacitated, or even implicated in one of the Arbites' investigations.

If this should happen, then the highest-ranking member of the Adeptus Arbites available on the world has the authority to temporarily take over rulership of the planet, until a suitable replacement can be put in place.

This duty generally falls to an Arbitrator with the rank of Judge or Marshal, but where an isolated world has only a token Imperial presence, even the lowest ranked Arbitrators have, on rare occasion, stepped in to fill the breach.

Arbitrator Ranks

Arbitrator ranks, from relatively highest to lowest, are described below.

Grand Provost Marshal

The Grand Provost Marshal is the leader of the Adeptus Arbites and sets its overall policy from the Hall of Judgement on Terra. The Grand Provost Marshal also is considered a High Lord of Terra and sits on the Senatorum Imperialis, the collective ruling body of the Imperium.

Lord Marshal

As the Imperium is mighty so too is the Lord Marshal. Their will is not blunted by the petty whims of circumstance. The cold rule of law is their only measure, and woe betide those that fall short. A Lord Marshal commands the Arbites presence within an entire Imperial sector.


The Justicar is a senior and highly decorated Marshal who brings the light of the Emperor's judgement to decadent nobles, corrupt officials of the Adeptus Terra and local planetary administrations and worlds brought low by dark worship.

Justicars are rare individuals within the Arbites hierarchy, but where they can be found they normally command the Arbites presence on an entire Imperial world or across several star systems.

Justicars are powerful officials within the Arbites hierarchy who may be tasked by their Lord Marshal or even the Grand Provost Marshal with troubleshooting duties spanning an entire sector or even several regions of the Imperium where the Emperor's justice has dimmed.


A high administrative rank, comparable to a Magistrate but with increased seniority, Marshals take the rule of law to the darkest dens of scum and depravity, dispensing Imperial justice in a bright arc of muzzle flare.

Marshals normally command the Arbites presence on an entire Imperial world or even several star systems.


A Magistrate is a senior and highly experienced Judge who rules upon intricate cases of heresy and sedition. By dispensing death, they keep the soul of the Imperium alive. Magistrates hear and decide the most difficult of cases to come before the Arbites.


A Judge is a senior Arbitrator whose experience and knowledge of the law has given them the right to hear the more difficult cases that come before the Arbites and to command their fellow Arbitrators in the field and in the Precinct House. Judges are often the highest-ranking Arbitrator in a given Precinct if there is more than one Arbites Precinct on a world.

Judges often work closely with the Arbites' Chasteners and pronounce sentences over any prisoners held within their Precinct courthouse, though any Arbitrator also has the authority to proclaim sentences and execute those sentences in the field.

Most Judges deal with crimes of a more high-profile nature or where the correct sentence under Imperial Law is unclear to the arresting Arbitrator. Most Judges were originally Arbitrators themselves who were promoted upwards in the adepta.


A lateral rank, comparable to an Intelligencer, Proctors are Arbitrators who lead Adeptus Arbites riot squads and suppression forces in the field against highly armed, and highly foolish, criminals.


Intelligencers are those Arbitrators who serve as the Arbites' spymasters, tacticians and forensic experts. Their powerful intellect is matched only by their dedication to the Imperium.


Investigators are skilled and experienced Arbitrators who learn the arts of inquiry, using contacts, charm and dirty tactics to uncover the truth. Investigators are usually veteran Arbitrators who are the Imperial equivalent of real world police detectives.


Arbitrators are guardians of order and the rule of law within the Imperium. Implacable, unrelenting, and nigh-on impossible to kill; they are the Emperor's justice manifest.

They are the most common rank of Arbitrator an ordinary Imperial citizen will come into contact with, usually to their misfortune if they have broken the law.


Regulators are Arbitrators who specifically take the law to the known criminal underworld of a city or world, specially trained to hold their own against any who challenge the Emperor's law.


An Enforcer is an Arbitrator who is taught how to keep order in the most desperate situations like riots and other civil disturbances, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellow Arbitrators. They should not be confused with the local planetary law enforcement officers who are called by the general term "Enforcers."


The most junior rank within the Adeptus Arbites hierarchy, a Trooper is drilled in combat and their legal and law enforcement duties to the Imperium. They are stout of heart and eager to enforce the Emperor's law.

Other Arbites Specialists

Specialists are those Arbitrators of various rank who have been trained in the functional methods and skills of particular specialised disciplines that enhance the mission of the Adeptus Arbites.

Arbitrator Detectives

Arbitrator Detectives, often bearing the rank of Investigator, spend the most time in the field of any of the Arbites, usually under deep cover as they seek to root out particularly egregious criminal conspiracies or even heretical taint.

A rare few Detectives may be psykers.


A Chastener is a specialised Arbites agent found in the Precincts of worlds in the Calixis Sector. The task of the Chastener is to interrogate prisoners in the Arbites Precinct House by any means they see as necessary, including artful forms of mental and physical torture.

Treatment at the hands of these men and women usually ends in death, although a death in which one is absolved of one's sins against the God-Emperor, provided one confesses.

Chasteners are often trained in the interrogative arts by the senior Inquisition agents known as Interrogators.


The Chaplains of the Arbites are the spiritual overseers of the Adeptus Arbites who are also considered members of the Ecclesiarchy as well as the Arbites, like other clergy of the Imperial Cult.

A number of Chaplains are always to be found in Arbites installations.

Cyber-mastiff Handler

Cyber-Mastiffs are the sniffer dogs of the Adeptus Arbites. These cybernetic animals form their own squads, consisting of a paired Cyber-Mastiff and its handler, but there are no specifics as to how many pairs form a squad.

Cyber-Mastiffs are often employed to sniff out any hostiles that might have hidden themselves in the wake of an Arbites advance, but are still fully capable of defending themselves and their handlers. They are controlled by verbal commands from whoever is paired up with them, and are keyed to their owners' voices/smells to prevent enemies from giving them counter-acting commands.

Cyber-Mastiffs can be biological animals or purely mechanical creations, though many are actually normal canines who have received some form of cybernetic upgrade from the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Planetary Enforcers

Arbitrators are not, typically, concerned with everyday crimes, such as murder or theft. These are the purview of the colloquially named Enforcers (known locally by as many names as there are planets in the Imperium).

These native planetary Enforcers often mimic the Arbites in appearance, but their local ties and often less rigorous standards mean that they are far more susceptible to corruption. The objectives of local Enforcers and Imperial Arbitrators often overlap, and the two work in conjunction when it is mutually beneficial.

However, there are also occasions when they come into direct conflict. While the effort put into maintaining this justice varies greatly between one planet and another, the individual planetary governors are charged with keeping the peace on their world.

The justice (or lack thereof) on a planet falls to the Enforcers of that planet's law, who may find themselves working under the Arbitrators during an investigation, or indeed being trained by them.

Of course, these lines occasionally blur. When powerful men and women, such as Ecclesiarchical leaders, Inquisitors, or even Rogue Traders, pull strings or demand the services of particularly skilled Arbitrators or Enforcers, the distinction can become hazy or non-existent.


A Mortiurge is an Arbitrator who takes on the role of a sanctioned killer rather than a servant of the law, but their presence within the Adeptus Arbites is considered by most a necessary evil.

These specialised agents stand out from the ranks of the cold-blooded killers of the feared Arbites Castigation Detachments due to their particular skill and callous dedication to their lethal duty. These individuals are specially trained to operate independently both as snipers and close-quarter gunfighters.

A Mortiurge operates alone, singled out from their fellows by their differences in purpose and the blood on their hands. In truth little more than judicially-recognised assassins, Mortiurges are often also employed to keep other law-enforcers in check when the need arises.

As such, these singular killers are often shunned by their colleagues and quickly learn to keep their distance from other Arbitrators, lest one day they be called on to slaughter a friend and ally.

Suffering Marshal

An Arbitrator rank found only on the harsh and brutal world of Iocanthos in the Calixis Sector, a Suffering Marshal is a stalwart and resourceful agent of the Arbites assigned to track down skilled fugitives who flee to Iocanthos to escape Imperial Law.

These lone operatives must remain resolute in their duties, whose dedication to the Imperium and its laws drive them on, alone, for as long as it takes to catch those who would jeopardise the planet's chief export of Ghostfire, a crop used to make combat drugs.

Suffering Marshals are given a great deal of personal discretion in so far as how they go about their duties, a necessity of their work, but one that many more traditional Arbites consider to be dangerous. While each Marshal is called upon sooner or later to track down specific fugitives and deliver righteous punishment, it is also their duty to know intimately the frontiers in which these criminals will eventually try to hide.

They are free to travel the planet, with massive banners to signal their position to the locals. Called "Flags" by many because of their identifying banners, local settlements and tribes will flock to the Marshal for judgement in tribal affairs.

In this way, these solitary agents of the Adeptus Arbites become experts on the customs, environments, and populations of dozens of frontier outposts and locales, and are adept at learning new mores and cultures quickly.

Verispex Adept

A Verispex Adept is an agent of the Adeptus Arbites on the world of Scintilla in the Calixis Sector, trained by the Inquisition in a variety of detection arts. It is the Verispex who uses their own immense knowledge, both learned and implanted, to follow the minute traces of physical evidence left by even the most careful suspect who has transgressed Imperial Law.

Due to the extreme investment the Adeptus Arbites and the Ordos of the Inquisition must make in order to train a single Verispex, these scholarly agents are highly valued and often kept far from the front line of Imperial law-keeping. This is, however, not always a possibility.

Whenever a Verispex Adept is sent into the field, they are accompanied by an Inquisitor or a Judge's most capable retainers. Arbites Verispex Squads are the Imperium's equivalent to real world police forensic crime scene investigation teams.

Arbitrator Squads

Adeptus Arbites in Action2

An Arbiter Squad battles Heretics.

A standard Arbites Patrol Group or Squad will either consist of five, ten, fifteen or twenty Arbitrators, led by a squad leader (included in the number of the squad, and usually called a "Proctor") and armed with Shotguns, Suppression Shields and Power Mauls, as well as an array of grenades (Frag, Krak, Smoke, Blind, and several other types, depending on the situation).

Arbitrators are trained to intermingle with other squads in the event of casualties, meaning that even if one squad loses several members, it can easily disperse to fill the gaps in nearby units, or fall back for reinforcements and resupply before plunging back into the fighting once more.

Traditionally, larger squads of fifteen to twenty Arbitrators are only used in extended combat actions; where greater numbers are needed for tougher jobs such as storming a gatehouse or defending a vital area. In serious attacks, Shock Troop Squads (Arbitrators trained in paramilitary techniques to break enemy positions), organised into units of ten, will lead the way.

Although these grim-faced men and women are equipped in exactly the same way as the standard Arbites Patrol Squads (albeit with larger grenade and ammunition stores, since they cannot be expected to fall back and restock as frequently as their more mundane counterparts) they probably receive extra training, as they are considered the elite troops of an Arbites Precinct, similar to real-world SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams.

Accordingly, both the Adeptus Arbites and many local planetary Enforcer cadres have need of hardened men and women whose talent lies in dealing death and summary execution rather than upholding the law or maintaining order.

These troopers make up the infamous Kill Squads under the direct jurisdiction of the local Imperial Commander and are used to guarantee their power; they also form the feared Arbites Castigation Detachments tasked to deliver the Emperor's wrath on the recidivist and those who would contravene high Imperial Law without fear or favour.


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Arbitrator arrayed in full panoply; Power Maul, Suppression Shield and Arbites Carapace Armour

The closest real life equivalent of the Adeptus Arbites -- disregarding the Arbitrator's right in Imperial Law to suspend habeas corpus and serve as judge, jury and executioner -- is an American police SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team or a national paramilitary force such as the Spanish GEO or French GIGN, and their equipment reflects this homage.

Often operating in dense urban environments, Arbites are equipped with combat shotguns and bolters with Executioner rounds; this is a type of special bolt ammunition with homing capabilities.

They are also generally armed with Shock Mauls for melee combat, Electro-Net launchers and pulse-charged bolas for capturing perpetrators alive, grapplehooks and stingers, and escorted by cybernetically-enhanced Cyber-Mastiffs for hunting hidden lawbreakers.

For protection, Arbitrators wear black Carapace Armour with their signature jaw-exposing helmets. Arbites make use of Combat Bikes for patrols and Repressor armoured personnel carriers, a variant of the Space Marines' Rhino, for riot response and patrols in violent urban areas, as well as heavier tanks such as the Leman Russ in true combat situations such as a rebellion or uprising.

However, in such extreme circumstances the Arbitrators are almost always required to call in true Imperial military forces like the Astra Militarum or the Space Marines.

Commonly utilised wargear for the Adeptus Arbites includes the following:

Shock Mauls

Ultima-Pattern Arbites Maul

An Ultima Pattern Arbites Shock Maul

Shock Weapons are designed to be generally non-lethal, assaulting the victim with incapacitating force through electrical shocks released on impact.

As Shock Weapons have little or no destructive impact on flesh other than minor electrical burn marks, they are useful for crowd control and "encouraging" workers such as shipboard press gangs or other forced labour.

A Shock Maul (also called a Power Maul) resembles a club surrounded in an electrical energy field which disrupts the surface of solid matter. The depth of the field can be adjusted to bash a hole through a wall or merely administer an irresistible knock-out blow to subdue a victim.

Common variants utilised by Adeptus Arbites include:

  • Agni Pattern Power Maul - A relatively small and inexpensively manufactured model of Power Maul, this weapon is weighted towards the hilt, and as such is regarded by some Power Weapon connoisseurs as somewhat graceless. It is common in "second line" precincts (as they are locally known) where trouble is not particularly expected, or among vehicle crews who value its handy proportions. Like all true Power Mauls, it has energy settings which can be adjusted to the circumstances.
  • Cyclopea Pattern Power Maul - A huge and intimidating two-handed weapon unique to the Calixis Sector, this Power Maul contains a monstrously overcharged disruption field which actively shatters the bonds between the molecules contained within items it strikes. Resembling a feudal mace, this maul has only one power setting: maximal. Potent enough to crush groundcars or send shattered opponents flying dozens of feet with a single stroke, this weapon is reserved for the most intense riots. It is designed to awe and terrorise the enemies of the Adeptus Arbites, and to send entire mobs cowering before the user.
  • Lathe Pattern Power Maul - A light, slender, and elegant model of Power Maul, this unusual weapon (crafted only on demand in the Calixis Sector) has a spiked handguard and a long, straight, un-weighted haft. It must be handled more like a sword than a club, which some users find frustrating, and critics have labelled the weapon fussy and difficult to master. However, the Arbitrators manning the Precinct Fortresses of the Lathe Worlds find that the slender profile is highly effective in the dense corridors of the manufactoria. Those who take the time to familiarise themselves with the pattern's idiosyncrasies declare it one of the finest examples of a Power Maul ever made. The apparent fragility of the design is misleading, and the versatile power field is more than capable of inflicting the same damage against opponents as models with a more brutal heft.
  • Ultima Pattern Arbites Power Maul - This pattern of Power Maul is a versatile, one-handed weapon with two power settings. At its low setting, the maul's head delivers an electrical shock powerful enough to stun (and sometimes kill) its targets, just like a regular Shock Maul. At the high setting however, the energy forms a crackling power field that can sunder steel, armour, and flesh. The Power Maul of the Adeptus Arbites is as much a symbol of Imperial authority as it is a weapon, and one that is seared into the minds of petty criminals and serious recidivists alike. While rank-and-file Arbitrators make do with simple Shock Mauls, veteran Proctors or the feared Judges prefer to wield the far more impressive Ultima Pattern Power Maul.


Arbites Shotgun

An Adeptus Arbites Combat Shotgun

The Shotgun is an ancient Imperial weapon, much the same as the Heavy Stubber, which fires solid slugs that burst into submunitions to spread out over a wider area.

The Adeptus Arbites utilise the shotgun for crowd control and urban conditions and have developed special "Executioner" shells for them:

  • Vox Legi-Pattern Arbites Combat Shotgun - The primary weapon of the Adeptus Arbites is the Combat Shotgun. It is valued for its stopping power, simplicity, reliability, and for its ability to intimidate. Even the most dusty, ancient Judge haunting the Halls of Judgement on Terra will have cut his teeth on the brutally effective shotgun drills which form the foundation of all Arbites combat training. A large variety of different shotgun patterns are used in different Arbites Precinct Fortresses across the galaxy, depending upon the proximity of the local Forge Worlds. The Vox Legi-Pattern is particularly widespread amongst the Arbitrators of the Periphery Sub-sector, and is broadly typical of the weapons favoured by the Arbitrators of the Calixis Sector. Effectively a large-bore, locally manufactured version of the Shotgun designs used by many planetary Enforcers, the Vox Legi is a devastating and adaptable weapon that fires shotgun shells nearly the size of those employed by the Adeptus Astartes. The increased size of the weapon reduces its ammunition capacity compared to that of other shotguns, but it still remains more powerful and adaptable than a standard shotgun. Most patrolling Arbitrators take advantage of this flexibility by carrying a variety of shotgun shell types so that they can employ different tactical options. Over-engineered by a considerable margin, the weapon is also perfectly capable of being used as a large club -- indeed, it is expressly designed with this secondary purpose in mind. It is also designed for maximum psychological impact, with a very audible pump action (standard Arbites riot training makes use of this). The sound of a hundred Arbitrators simultaneously chambering their weapons has ended countless riots in a single instant over the millennia.
  • Executioner Shotgun Shells - These rare and specialised shells (whose use is often limited to the upper echelons such as Judges and important Castigators and Mortiurges of the Adeptus Arbites) contain miniaturised propulsion and stabilisation systems allowing the shell to lock on and track its target. The mechanisms that achieve this are little understood and extremely hard to replicate, and so remain within the purview of those Magos-Munitorium that provide the Arbites with their sanctioned and ordained arms.

Ranged Weapons

The Adeptus Arbites are a paramilitary force, and as such employ a vast variety of ranged weapons. The amount of military grade equipment they possess is infamous, and a constant warning to any rebellious planetary governor. The armouries of most hive city Precincts are capable of equipping an army ten times the size of the actual Arbites complement within their walls, or of sustaining a siege for solar months on end.

  • Bulldog Heavy Stubber - Although mistakenly regarded by many as a pure police force, it is far from unknown for the Arbites to engage in suppressing what are, in effect, full blown wars between opposing national, or even planetary, forces. As such, they have access to powerful heavy weapons to ensure that they are able to fulfil their divine mandate. The Arbites value reliability, tactical flexibility, and a menacing appearance in their weapons, and these qualities are expressed fully in the Bulldog Heavy Stubber. The Bulldog is regarded with great affection by its proponents, whom it has served faithfully since the time of the Angevin Crusade in the Calixis Sector. The weapon can be switched between belt or magazine feed easily, can accept a variety of exotic ammunition types without complaint, and can be carried at the hip in a gyro-mount or mounted on an Arbites Rhino.
  • Ius Automatic Pistol - Normally used as a backup weapon alongside the Arbites shotgun, the Ius is ubiquitous amongst both the Calixian Arbites and planetary enforcers of Scintilla. This weapon is a solid and unspectacular yet utterly reliable Autopistol, crafted by the gunsmiths of Gunmetal City on the world of Scintilla, the capital of the Calixis Sector, to be as sturdy as possible. Typically issued to junior ranks within both organisations, this weapon is designed to be foolproof and to withstand punishment that would damage other firearms. Many of these humble weapons are thousands of standard years old, having served generations of lawmen and women in some of the toughest hive cities in the galaxy.
  • Raffir Ringleader Pistol - Gifted to the Arbites as part of the planetary tithe by the Raffir clan manufactory smithmasters of Hive Subrique, these beautiful Autopistols are produced under licence using ancient Adeptus Mechanicus archprints. The pistols produced are huge, intimidating shock-and-terror weapons, designed for the execution of high profile targets at the height of anti-Imperial riots. These weapons are issued to senior Arbites officers, not so much for their accuracy or utility in a firefight, but for the damage they inflict on both the person of rabble rousers and on the morale of their followers.


  • Adeptus Arbites Carapace Armour - The appearance of the Adeptus Arbites strikes fear into the hearts of criminals and the lawless. The task of crafting the signature Carapace Armour of the Adeptus Arbites falls to a variety of worlds within various sectors of the galaxy. A given sector's Adeptus Arbites sees to the manufacturing of equipment for its Fortress Precincts on many different Forge Worlds, so that it would require a sector-wide revolt to jeopardise the supply lines. Arbitrator Carapace Armour is constructed from dense plasteel plates overlaying a synthetic polyplastic fibre weave that must be produced in an orbital null-gravity manufactorum. Arbites Carapace Armour is designed to be clipped together and worn over a light, breathable bodyglove, the armour carefully constructed and tailor-made to the proportions of the Arbitrator concerned. Given that the armour must be worn for hours at a time, often during periods of extreme physical exertion, it must be light and comfortable, and it succeeds surprisingly well on these fronts. The armour is completely unpowered, though it is often equipped with a number of mag-strips which permit weapons and other equipment to be attached directly to the armour without the need for clumsy straps and external clips. The Carapace Helm is equipped with a micro-bead (or "vox-torc") and is open at the mouth to allow easier verbal communication. The helm is, however, capable of being hermetically sealed in seconds; and has mountings for a rebreather, which is usually magnetised to the belt when not in use. It also contains polarising lenses which react instantly to light over a certain lumen level, and which have the effect of negating photonic Flash Grenades completely. A beneficial side effect of this approach is that it makes it impossible to see which direction an Arbitrator is looking. The armoured gloves are cunningly wrought devices colloquially known as "lock gloves" in Low Gothic terminology, which count as Recoil Gloves. The armour has a number of magnetised attachment strips that are capable of carrying the Arbitrator's weapons and equipment. Typically, an Arbitrator in the field will be equipped with a holstered Ius automatic pistol, three clips of ammunition, a rebreather, a Vox-torc, a lamp pack that can be handheld or swiftly attached to any Arbites weapon, a Power Maul, two grenades (of any type), and two pairs of magnacles in addition to a basic weapon and ammunition. The armour has a very large mag-strip on the back which is capable of mounting a single basic weapon of up to 10 kilograms in weight.
  • Arbites Riot Armour - The Arbites are often called to break up riots. Whatever the nature of the disturbance, whether it be a queue war involving disparate packs of petitioners outside Administratum scriptoria, or desperate food riots aimed at snatching resources from tithe shuttles, the Arbites will not falter before the mob. When facing large, ill-disciplined multitudes armed with cobblestones, planks, or staves, the Arbites will attach panels of protective cushioned wadding over parts of their Carapace Armour to protect against impact damage. These pads are often brightly coloured, and are designed not only to protect the Arbitrator, but to signal to rioters that they are about to be routed. Riot Armour is a simple, but encumbering, collection of cushioned pads that are attached to vulnerable parts of standard Arbitrator Carapace Armour when facing riots.
  • Judge Armour - Judges have the authority to requisition whatever equipment is held within the armouries or Cold Vaults of their planet's Precincts, and as such will wear whatever they want in the field. Some pride themselves on wearing the same battered Carapace Armour they wore when patrolling decades before as a humble Arbitrator; however, most accept that their superior station as a lord of the Emperor's justice demands more spectacular and intimidating garb. Judges will typically wear the finest examples of Carapace Armour available, constructed by master artisans, together with antique flowing robes and elaborate headdresses from different periods of humanity's judicial history. A Judge's armour will vary from world to world, as he or she seeks to refine their appearance so that it causes the most awe and fear in an individual planetary population. Judge Armour is broadly similar to normal Arbites Carapace Armour in terms of its level of protection, but it incorporates theatrical and gaudy elements which suggest (in local historical terms) the power and majesty of the Arbites.
  • Hydraphur Pattern Judge's Carapace Armour - The distinctive matte-black and red light Carapace Armour of the Arbites is as distinctive as it is intimidating, and the armour of an Arbites Judge is only more so. The armour of a Judge is designed to reflect his authority as the Lex Imperialis made manifest, and to sow terror in the criminal and malcontent. It shares the same basic pattern as Arbites Carapace Armour, but incorporates a storm coat and helm topped with a massive golden eagle. Judge's Carapace Armour has a helmet equipped with an integral encrypted micro-bead, good quality photo-visor (granting him Dark Sight and allowing him to ignore photonic Flash Grenades), and a vox-amplifier (allowing the user to amplify his voice to near-deafening levels). A small stab-light can also be attached to the shoulder plates. These systems are powered by a small Charge Pack (equivalent in size and cost to a Lasgun Charge Pack) that must be replaced after a week of continuous use.
  • Verispex Armour - The Verispex Adepts on loan from the Inquisition are individuals with a unique perspective on the galaxy, a skewed outlook gained by years of focused study. These crime-teks do not require the same standard of protective armour as frontline Arbitrators, yet they are still operating alongside Arbites agents, and must be clothed in garments that express their standing. Verispex armour symbolically resembles Arbitrator carapace armour, but is far lighter and more comfortable. It contains a variety of special tools and scanners, including an auspex, chrono, combi-tool and data-slate.

Suppression Shield

Hydraphur-Pattern Suppression Shield

Hyrdraphur Pattern Suppression Shield

  • Hydraphur Pattern Suppression Shield - Suppression Shields are common equipment for the Adeptus Arbites, although upon seeing their effectiveness, many other organisations and individuals have moved to obtain them. The Suppression Shield is both a bulwark and a weapon, a heavy slab of ceramite large enough for the wielder to take cover behind. Each has a built-in arc-lumin at the top, and a powerful shock-plate in the shield's centre. If the wielder strikes with the shield, he can discharge the shock-plate on impact, delivering a powerful electrical blow. Suppression Shields have the Recharge quality, since the shock-plate takes time to build to dangerous levels. It can still be used as a weapon while it is still recharging. Arbites Suppression Shields are also designed with lockgrips on the upper corners. Crusader Suppression Shields are designed for combating the malefic and Warp-spawned powers, and are inscribed with hexagrammic wards.
  • Synford Pattern "Lockshield" - The Arbites commonly make use of heavy ceramite shields during operations of all types. These are rectangular plates, worn on one arm, which are typically equipped with a heavily armoured viewport that offers protection to the operator. The Synford "Lockshield" is a relatively standard example of the type, but with one unusual and defining feature. The Lockshield, like most Arbites shields, is designed with an armourglass viewport and a firing port through which a basic or pistol weapon can be fired without penalty. It also contains a powered vox-hailer linked to the vox-torc of the most senior Arbitrator present, allowing that officer to rebuke and remonstrate over even the most deafening racket. It contains mag-strips on both sides, which enable prisoners to be secured directly to the shield by magnacles. Its most unusual feature is its ability to lock solidly with adjacent Lockshields to create an armoured wall behind which Arbitrators can advance as a unit, thus giving the shield its common name. The shield can be locked using mag-strips to shields adjacent to it; the Arbites use this to create walled "Lockshield" formations during particularly lethal riots, or to advance large groups of Arbites down wide, fire-swept corridors.

Adeptus Arbites Titles and Uniforms in the Calixis Sector

Lord Marshal Luthir Veremonn Goreman of the Calixis Sector, the commander of the Calixian Great Precinct, allows his Precincts to give titles that strike fear and awe into the local population. This practice allows a certain flexibility when interrogating suspects and determining duties. It is quite possible that no two agents in a Precinct have exactly the same title. Each Judge uses this freedom as they sees fit, some creating convenient ranks to identify specialisations, and others treating them almost as nicknames, easy monikers for identifying who is capable of a task.

In an effort to make it easy for each Arbitrator to identify the role of their colleagues from other precincts, Goreman has instituted a system of armbands, sashes, and collars. A red collar, for instance, shows that an Arbitrator has been trained and proven capable of detailed investigations. Sashes are also used, so that an individual may be identified as having more than one area of expertise, such as the brown sash of the Chastener. Finally, a thin armband may be worn on an Arbitrator’s upper arm, to signify further specialised skills and experience.


Arbites Cyber-Mastiff

An Arbites Cyber-Mastiff

The Arbites will, on occasion, make use of servitors, but generally not to the same extent as other branches of the Adeptus Terra. The Arbites pride themselves on being a disciplined and self-reliant force, and there is an unspoken belief in many precinct-fortresses that excessive reliance upon Servitors fosters a spirit of dependence far removed from the proper, spartan ethic of the organisation.

Despite this, some servitors do serve to the best of their limited abilities within the Arbites, typically performing duties which can free Arbitrators to carry out their law enforcement roles. For example, emplaced Gun Servitors are used extensively within Precincts for sentry duty, and a handful of other heavily modified designs are used for other more specialist roles.

The Arbites also have in their service cyber-constructs such as Cyber-Mastiffs, cyborgs that incorporate the instincts of animals. Both canids and avians are employed for this purpose. Such animals are usually crafted in special Adeptus Mechanicus facilities, such as Hive Subrique, which provides the vast majority of such constructs for the Calixian Arbites.

Notable Arbitrators

  • Lord Marshal Luthir Veremonn Goreman - Luthir Veremonn Goreman is the Lord Marshal of the Calixian Great Precinct, located in the Calixis Sector on the sector capital world of Scintilla. Born into a family of butchers and flesh-thieves upon the world of Sinophia, he came into contact with a wandering Confessor who had once been a former Enforcer from Scintilla who had left her post following a religious awakening. Listening to her holy words, Luthir's soul was stirred to zealous conviction in the benevolent Emperor. Of all the expressions of the God-Emperor's will that she was able to teach him, her experience as an Enforcer was the one that resonated with him the most. Departing his world, he struck out on his own and became a part of the local enforcement militia of the Horst-Kosada hive city. Following a cull of these Enforcers due to corruption by the local Arbites, he went from being a suspect to being a recruit during his interrogation. His reputation was cemented over many long, dedicated standard years of service. His iron will, the force of his personality, and the constant, simmering anger that sometimes blunted his undeniable charisma marked him for Arbites command. Goreman's vigour for his job is not born out of a positive inspiration to bring order but by his smouldering hatred of those who disrupt it. It was his idea to create the Divisio Immoralis, a new Arbitrator taskforce intended to deal with the myriad threats now confronting the sector. Goreman is known to have little respect for the vast majority of citizens who comprise the Calixis Sector's populace. Every time Goreman looks out upon the mass of Imperial citizenry he sees exactly the same thing he remembered from his homeworld of Sinophia: dissipated, lazy, disobedient wastrels slouching through aimless and worthless lives. To him, the Imperial Adeptus Terra is the only worthy creation of human society, to serve in it the one worthy ambition. The Adeptus, under the guidance of the Immortal Emperor, shows the rest of humanity what they could be had they the discipline, the faith, and the strength. Those outside the Adeptus are contemptible, and should think themselves lucky they are allowed to toil to support it; those who disobey or disrespect the Adeptus, or even court ambitions outside it, are beneath contempt. Luthir Goreman is of average height and lean of build, which surprises people who have seen the portraits and statues portraying him as a muscular giant. His complexion is pale, his eyes and hair grey, and his features broad, stern and handsome. He wears a black and gold Arbitrator dress uniform for most of his duties, with his rank pins and medals arranged on a separate banner that is carried to formal occasions by an adjutant. He always has a small purity seal pinned to his left lapel, copying a verse of Imperial scripture onto a new parchment each morning and having a garrison preacher bless and attach the seal at his private morning prayers.
  • Marshal-in-Chief Kae Drusil - Senior Arbitrator Kae Drusil is marshal-in-chief of the Divisio Immoralis taskforce within the Calixis Sector. She was recruited into the Arbites following the assassination of her Great-Aunt and the rest of her noble household at the Universitariate she was attending at the age of fifteen. She remembered the Universitariate Enforcers and the interrogation by an unknown Judge. The Judge, whose name she never learned (and never sought), saw Kae's faith in the law, and her anger. He believed that these two traits would make her a fine recruit for the Arbites, and he was correct. As far as Kae Drusil could tell, the interrogation was her recruitment examination. Her belief in the incorruptibility of the Arbites and the inevitability of a future rule of perfect law had been demolished beyond repair by the things she was forced to do during a mission that was conducted under the auspices of the Inquisition. Approached by Lord Marshal Goreman, Drusil agreed to command the Divisio Immoralis, the Lord Marshal's new experiment in Imperial law enforcement.
  • Arbitrator Primus Naxander Durantis - A man with nearly two decades of experience in the Calixis Sector, Arbitrator Primus Durantis is the commander of the voidship Intervention, a unique "Castigator" patrol cruiser. Now in his late fifties (and with limited access to rejuvenat drugs), Durantis views his rank with a mixture of honour and resentment, eager to bring justice to the stars but also struggling with the fact that he can no longer so readily lead his men in combat as he did earlier in his career. Unwilling to let all his old duties fall away in place of newer ones, Durantis still interrogates many suspects personally, his scarred visage serving to intimidate the weaker-willed of his captives. He is a shrewd interrogator, having learned a great deal working alongside many skilled Chasteners over the years, and his eye for detail is sharper than ever.
  • Judge Citro Envedine - Judge Envendine is an ambitious and politically astute agent of the Calixian Arbites. The Precinct Astra is the brainchild of Judge Envendine as a means of prosecuting the habitual lawbreaking of several Rogue Trader Houses around the Calixian entrance to the Koronus Passage into the Koronus Expanse. He bought two salvaged voidships that had been pried from a space hulk's embrace. Utilising these two vessels, the Calixian Judges were able to prosecute the Emperor's laws, bringing Renegade members of Rogue Trader houses and pirates to justice.
  • Judge Orrik Von Darnus - Orrik Von Darnus was a very senior Judge of the Calixis Sector almost a millennia ago, and had turned to intellectual pursuits late in his career, devoting nearly a century to research and analysis of the Pax Imperialis and how it is implemented in the Calixis Sector. Though he wrote many books and treatises, his seminal work in the late 40th Millennium was The Promise of the Pax Imperialis, a volume so large that a printed copy requires two cargo-hauler Servitors to move. Later scholars argue whether Von Darnus wrote The Promise in an attempt to simplify the application of Imperial Law in the Calixis Sector, or simply because the old man derived far too much pleasure worrying away at thorny issues of legal precedent. Von Darnus's primary arguments focused on the idea that the Calixian Arbites' attentions should focus on crimes of sedition, treason, and actions that undermined the Adeptus Terra, while leaving most "lesser" crimes to a planet's local Enforcers. He went on to say that as isolated as the sector was from the rest of the Imperium, such crimes posed the greatest threat to Imperial rule, and should be prosecuted aggressively. Even now, a thousand standard years later, many senior Calixian Arbitrators regard Von Darnus's writings as something of an authority on the implementation of Imperial Law. Currently, Lord Marshal Goreman's opinions cemented the high regard with which many Calixian Arbites hold Von Darnus's works. The Lord Marshal has a habit of quoting The Promise of the Pax Imperialis when pronouncing rulings, and is said to keep a near-complete collection of Von Darnus' books in his personal offices on Scintilla.
  • Detective-Commander Jaanyi - Detective-Commander Jaanyi "The Brute" Doyenko, Great Precinct Master of Espionists, doesn’t like his nickname. He doesn’t have to hear it very often, since only Lord Marshal Goreman will ever use it to his face, (usually when he wants to get a rise out of him), but just the knowledge that it’s universally used behind his back is enough to bring a scowl to his craggy, chem-burned face. He understands why he has it, of course. Anyone glancing into the quiet cloisters of the Detective chambers will see Jaanyi Doyenko standing out like a battle-tank in a procession of nobles' sedan-chairs. The eldest son of an Administratum Adept on Fenksworld, he grew up aboard a giant convoy of land-trains slogging back and forth between Nova Castilis and the hellhole of Volg, carrying subsistence supplies, basic trade goods, and cage-loads of condemned exiles. Jaanyi grew up strong, brawny, and prideful. His mother was an Imperial Adept, and he exacted the respect he felt his family was due from the convoy labourers with his brass-knuckled fists. When he was fifteen his family was killed in a scum-raid, Jaanyi escaping from the massacre and disappearing into Volg’s hellish warrens. There he spent five years living by his wits and muscles while he hunted down and murdered all he could find of the gang who had killed his family. Finally, he was tracked down by bounty hunters on a surprising contract: the Adeptus' files had shown a son unaccounted for when Shima Doyenko was killed, and they were following procedure by recruiting him for the Schola Progenium. One of the most difficult decisions Jaanyi ever made was to walk away from Volg and his unfinished vengeance, but inside his hulking body was a keen mind. He told himself that here was a chance to carry his family's name off Fenksworld and into the stars, rather than give the scum the final victory by sputtering out from chem-poisoning or dust choke in this lightless Fenksworld sump-hole. His last act before he clambered aboard the dune-crawler was to turn and spit down the stairwell up which he had climbed out of Volg. Then he put the place at his back forever. Doyenko was an oddity at the Schola. He was already years older than his eldest classmates and had endured a lifetime's worth of trauma and violence. There was talk among the instructors of fast-tracking him into the military streams, putting his proven capacity for violence to work as a Storm Trooper or trainee Commissar; some even wondered if he was too old for the Officio Assassinorum recruiters. Doyenko knew where he wanted to go, however, and had already made his contacts. When the Schola received a joint petition from Doyenko and the Arbites recruiters for early release from the Schola they let him go, and Doyenko was already in training aboard the Arbites carrier by the time they broke Warp for Scintilla. He mastered the basic training quickly and thoroughly, and was soon back in transit for a Chastener's posting at Malfi. That posting revealed Doyenko's real and unexpected gifts. His work hunting his quarry as a Chastener brought out the chilled edge of his intellect and his intuition for analysing people's motives, relationships, and actions. After a couple of rapid promotions up the Chastener ladder he transferred into the ranks of the Detectives and for the first time since his youth aboard the land-train he felt he knew where he belonged. This was work he could really throw himself into, unravelling Malfi's baroque culture of intrigues and studying its threads and shadows for threats and insults to the God- Emperor's laws. Doyenko's work was invaluable in the timely prevention of the Braquerade Coup, and as deputy to the Chief Detective-Espionist he drew on his old skills to pose as a hive scummer and infiltrate the Fourth Ashen Resurgency from the ground up, exposing the layers of manipulation that led back to its secretive masterminds. After the attempted assassination of Lord Goreman's previous Detective-Commander, Doyenko was brought to Scintilla both to follow the assassin's trail back to its origin and to act for Detective-Commander Ilkram during her convalescence. When it became clear that Ilkram's injuries would never permit her to return to her old role, Goreman appointed Doyenko to the office and he has validated the Lord Marshal's decision many times over. Jaanyi Doyenko is a great slab of scarred flesh packed into an oversized regulation uniform. His face is heavy-boned, usually unshaven, and pitted from long-ago acid burns. His eyes are deep-set, dark, and unfriendly. His left shoulder is packed with augmetics and he often fidgets with it, sometimes even slipping off his tunic to work the kinks out of both flesh and metal. He wears a brown Chastener sash as well as his red Detective's collar, and a solid-slug pistol in a thigh holster. He is an expert with this and will often be found in the Fortress gun-range, intimidating his colleagues with his size, his glowering features, and the speed and accuracy of his shooting.
  • Judge Jeremiah Pavo - Judge Pavo gained his place among the Adeptus Arbites after revealing a plot to corrupt fellow members of his Schola Progenium on Avellorn. After containing the Bureau of Standard Measures Queue Wars and detaining over 10,000 participants, he was asked to join the retinue of Inquisitor Tannenburg of the Ordo Hereticus. He has proven to be a valuable asset to the Inquisition and an example of the skill and determination of all Arbitrators.
  • Captain Virgil Ortega - Wielding a Shock Maul and Combat Shotgun, Captain Virgil Ortega commanded the Adeptus Arbites on the planet of Pavonis during a time of great riots and disorder against the Planetary Governor and her cartel. When the situation led to the arrival of a company of Ultramarines and an Inquisitor's investigation, the Planetary Defence Force openly attacked the capital city, starting with the bombing of the precinct house. Ortega led his fellow Judges into battle, charging from the ruins into the city square, in front of a statue of the Emperor himself. The battle that followed was the stuff of legend, the few and faithful fighting against those who would betray the Emperor, however the sheer number of tanks and soldiers of the traitor Planetary Defence Force legions slowly began to whittle away at the Arbites' numbers. Holding his few remaining men together, Captain Ortega slowly fell back to the weapons cache located beneath the Precinct house. They were able to hold back their pursuers for a while there, having an almost limitless supply of heavy weapons and ammunition, but when it became apparent that they were fighting a losing battle, Captain Ortega and his loyal Arbites came to the decision that the precious store of weapons and ammunition could not fall into the hands of the enemy. Fighting back waves of planetary defense force troops, Captain Ortega and his remaining Arbites wired and readied all of the explosives in the cache. They came very close to failure as their position was nearly overrun, but with his remaining Judge, Sergeant Collix, covering his advance, he ran into enemy fire and as his life slipped away he detonated the munitions, dying with the rest of his men.
  • Senior Arbitrator Leukala Mhal - Senior Arbitrator Leukala Mhal, Marshal-Commodore of the Calixia Castilis Precinct Fleet, is the Calixis fleet’s commander, its figure head, and its lucky charm. She and her four sisters were void-born aboard an armed trader pressed into service for the tense and bloody Second Sepherine Interdiction. When a miscalculated trajectory resulted in the ship arriving ten days overdue at the Arbites blockade, the shipmaster was fined not only part of his pay, but also some of his cargo, ship’s supplies, and crew. Although the youngest of the five, Leukala volunteered herself to the cull to spare her sisters the pain of separation, and joined the frightened throng shuffling through the transit locks off the ship that had been her world for thirteen years. Most of the tithed were put straight into menial positions, but any young enough to be potential recruits were sidelined for aptitude testing. Leukala, made fierce by desperation, passed the tests with honours and when the Interdiction ended and the Arbites squadron moved on, she was riding in the garrison decks in the uniform of a trainee. From there the records show little about Arbitor Mhal apart from her presence aboard a series of Precinct ships, until the bloody guerilla war with xenophile raiders through the Drusus Marches. The traitors’ strange weapons and fearsome boarding actions took a heavy toll on the Arbites crews and many younger Arbitrators found themselves yanked up the promotion ladder. Mhal rose to the challenge, commanding ships’ troops and crew sections with an equal measure of resourcefulness, charisma and quickly demonstrating an intuitive grasp of shipboard combat. It took three years for the Arbites and the Imperial Navy to turn the tables, hunt out the raiders, and exterminate them. At the final triumph aboard the Arbites flagship Radiant Decree, the raider chieftain was dragged the length of the ship in chains and ceremonially flushed from the airlock with his hands nailed to the small of his back and his writ of execution branded into his chest. Mhal was there to watch as Provost-Commander of the Radiant Decree’s fighting Arbitrator contingent. Within five years she was commanding a ship of her own, a squadron within ten more years, and when the newly-appointed Lord Marshal Goreman needed a commander he trusted to efficiently run his very small, and thin-spread fleet there was only one name he had in mind. Marshal-Commodore Mhal has never lost the unflagging drive that propelled her through the recruitment trials, and works herself and her fleet calmly and efficiently, but relentlessly. She hates inactivity, always restless for the next mission, the next challenge, the next task—she even walks with an odd forward-leaning gait, as though desperate to arrive where she’s going that few seconds sooner. The Radiant Decree is now her flagship, but when that ship is in port for any lengthy refits she will transfer her flag to one of the other two ships so as to be back out and in active command again. Her temperament is an excellent match for the Lord Marshal’s, and just the right one for the small and overworked fleet she commands. For her the relentless work is a given, rather than a burden, and her own unflappable demeanour and endless energy are an inspiration to her command. Her personal charisma and strong leadership have turned the usual prejudices about void-born inside out and "The Lady" has become something of an iconic figure to her fleet. Portraits of her adorn many halls and quarters, and fleet folklore holds that any ship with her aboard will always prevail and return to dock safely. She has never set foot on a planet’s surface in her life, and has no plans ever to do so. Leukala Mhal is a startlingly tall woman of slender build, with the trademark pallor of the void-born. She has long, haughty features and blue-grey eyes with prominent epicanthic folds. Her hair has been a glossy gunmetal-grey all her life; more recently it has turned the lighter grey of advancing age. She wears it in a thick, braided cable across her shoulders. She usually dresses in a formal Arbitor-General’s cloak over neat shipboard fatigues, the cloak pinned carefully so it won’t billow or tangle in low gravity.
  • Sergeant Collix - Collix served on Pavonis fresh from the academy until the day of his death. When Pavonis could not produce tithe taxes to the Imperium, a force of Ultramarines led by Uriel Ventris traveled to the planet, accompanied by a young adept by the name of Ario Barzano, who in turn was actually a high ranking Inquisitor investigating heresy and the presence of Necrons on the world. The planet's separate factions rebelled against the governor and the Arbites, striking hard in the city square and the Arbites Precinct house. Some two hundred Judges survived the initial attack, and fought the renegade Planetary Defence Force troopers in a bloody battle. Together with his comrades, Sergeant Collix held a weapons cache and defended it to the last man. Never yielding in his faith, though mortally wounded, Sergeant Collix continued firing a Heavy Stubber into charging masses of traitors and heretics as he lay dying, buying time for Captain Ortega to detonate the munitions stores, leveling the cache, along with the entire renegade force in the city.
  • Judge Jenna Sharben - Jenna Sharben served alongside Captain Virgil Ortega and Sergeant Collix on Pavonis. She was kidnapped along with the planetary governor and an Inquisitor. She was the only member of the Adeptus Arbites team on Pavonis to survive after the rebellion. She was later killed in a Tau invasion of Pavonis.
  • Proctor Noles Rotlan - Proctor Rotlan is a tall imposing man, as is often the case with members of the Adeptus Arbites. Unlike most of his fellows, though, Rotlan has an active imagination, which has served him as an asset, turning him into one of Sepheris Secundus’s chief investigators. However, he is not popular with the local nobles as he is too skilled by far (in their opinions of course) at ferreting out their schemes to hide resources from the Queen and the Imperium. The ongoing troubles with the Broken Chains have allowed his many baronial enemies to accuse him of incompetence—a charge that he is finding difficult to fight as the mutant terrorists continue to evade his best efforts to locate and neutralise them.
  • Marshal Primus Jamahl Byzantane - Marshal Primus Jamahl Byzantane was a long-serving Marshal of the Adeptus Arbites who was assigned to service on the world of Belatis shortly before the start of the Gothic War in the early 41st Millennium. Byzantane fought a losing battle for the control of Belatis with already present and active Chaos Cult cells, and ultimately had to abandon the planet altogether when it became the next target of Abaddon the Despoiler's Planet Killer.
  • Arbites Senioris Shira Lucina Calpurnia - An Arbites Senioris, Shira Calpurnia was born on the world of Iax in the Realms of Ultramar. Shira's family, the Calpurnii, are one of the oldest and most prominent of Iax, and like many such families in Ultramar, has an illustrious pedigree and long history of service to the Imperium; there have been other Arbitrators within her family, as well as senior commanders of the Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, and at least two Battle-Brothers that served in the Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter, including a 1st Company Veteran who died during the Battle of Macragge fighting against the Tyranids. After being recruited into the Adeptus Arbites, Shira trained on Machiun. Her career then took her to postings across the Ultima Segmentum including; Drade-73, MG-Dyel, Hazhim, Don-Croix and Epheada before reaching the rank of Arbiter Senioris and being posted to the world of Hydraphur in the Segmentum Pacificus.

Adeptus Arbites and the Inquisition

The Adeptus Arbites exist to maintain the laws and codes of the Imperium. The adepta maintains facilities on every world with a sizeable population, from which the Arbitrators sally forth to impose order and bring justice to the guilty.

It is the responsibility of the local Imperial Commander to maintain a body of so-called "Enforcers" to impose local laws -- the Arbitrators are present to impose those laws that apply across the entire domains of Man, and they stand above all local authority.

This being the case, the Adeptus Arbites have much in common with the Inquisition, and the bodies often find themselves allied against a common foe. All too often, an Arbitrator's investigations into localised criminal activities turns up links to far more terrible deeds.

Many Inquisitors maintain contacts and agents within the ranks of the Adeptus Arbites, who intercept reports that might indicate matters in which the Inquisitor should take an interest. On many occasions an Inquisitor has turned up, seemingly out of the blue, to aid an Adeptus Arbites task force against foes the Arbitrators had little chance of defeating alone.

Inquisitors quite often requisition the services of the Adeptus Arbites. The Arbitrators are highly professional and devoted servants of the Imperium, and so make ideal allies against the foes of Mankind. Furthermore, the Arbitrators are often gifted with local knowledge the Inquisitor can rarely hope to match, and are able to track down key local figures, from potential allies to outright enemies.

The Adeptus Arbites maintain substantial, grimly imposing precinct-fortresses on the worlds they occupy. These fortresses are armed and armoured to a very high level indeed, and often form a bulwark against rebellious uprisings. As each precinct-fortress has its own astropath, the Arbitrators are often able to send telepathic word to the Imperium of an uprising that might have engulfed the world's government entirely.

All too often, an Adeptus Arbites fortress-precinct has proven the last redoubt against anarchy, the few hundred Arbitrators within holding out with grim determination until aid can arrive from off-world. Sometimes a single Inquisitor and their cadre of Acolytes might be the sole reply to the call for help, but with Inquisitors being the uniquely puissant individuals they are, that might be all that is required to put down the rebellion.

Following such incidents it is not uncommon for one or more Arbitrators to become permanent members of an Inquisitor's cadre, and the precinct authorities rarely object, considering it an Arbitrator's duty to aid the Inquisition.

Indeed, following the fall of Precinct Omega–14 on the world of Baraspine after a localised uprising against what criminal elements referred to as "arbitrary brutality," Inquisitor Vallax recruited every one of the seventy Arbitrators who survived. This elite cadre then took the Emperor's law to every world in the Adrantis Nebula sub-sector of the Calixis Sector, ruthlessly punishing countless thousands of criminals.

While the Inquisition is likely to find a ready ally in the Adeptus Arbites, it is extremely rare indeed for the two organisations to find themselves coming to blows. Arbitrators and Judges are nigh-incorruptible, and always serve many light years away from their own homeworld so that they never become embroiled in local politics. This is not to say that no Arbitrator has ever turned from the Emperor's light, of course, and those few that have fallen have inevitably fallen the furthest.

Such was the case when Marshall Gorr of the Frontier World of Kudrun one day pronounced that the entire population of the planet was guilty of concealing seditious thoughts, and attempted to round up 100,000 citizens. Needless to say, the people revolted, and Gorr was murdered at the hands of an outraged mob. After the event, an Inquisitorial investigation determined that Gorr had come into psychic powers, perhaps those of the telepath, late in his life, and had lost his sanity.

Game History

Borrowing heavily from the British comic book Judge Dredd's imagery, the Adeptus Arbites were first mentioned in 1st Edition's Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, but were only introduced as a playable force in the 2nd Edition of Warhammer 40,000, and have since appeared in the spin-off games Necromunda and Inquisitor.

They appear as "play-as" equivalents to Inquisitorial Storm Troopers (although armed with Shotguns) in the Witch Hunters supplement. Also, the organisation is the focus of three novels by Matthew Farrer -- Cross Fire (2003), Legacy (2004), and Blind (2006).


  • 13th Legion (Novel) by Gav Thorpe, Chs. 4, 6-7
  • Black Crusade: Hand of Corruption (RPG), pp. 88-89, 128-129
  • Codex Imperialis (2nd Edition), pp. 12, 34-35
  • Codex: Sisters of Battle (2nd Edition), pp. 5–10
  • Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 21, 38-39, 43-44, 47, 70-73, 141-142, 147, 154, 177-178, 180
  • Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 50-55
  • Dark Heresy: Book of Judgement (RPG), pp. 6-8, 16-17, 23-29, 42-43, 44-45, 48-49, 54-55, 61-69
  • Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 166-168
  • Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pp. 54-55
  • Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 143
  • Dark Heresy: Purge the Unclean (RPG), pg. 103
  • Dark Heresy 2nd Edition: Beta Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 32-33
  • Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pp. 6-11, 82-83
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (Digital Edition) (7th Edition), pp. 275, 280-281, 541, 544
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 148
  • Long Arm of the Emperor's Law: Adeptus Arbites in Inquisitor (Specialist Game)
  • Codex: Tyranids (1st Edition)
  • Necromunda Enforcers: Justice in the Underhive (Specialist Game)
  • Cross Fire (Novel) by Matthew Farrer
  • Legacy (Novel) by Matthew Farrer
  • Blind (Novel) by Matthew Farrer
  • Nightbringer (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • Execution Hour (Novel) by Gordon Rennie
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pg. 139