"You have betrayed your god. You have defiled His temples with the unworthy and sold His divinity to beggars..."
The Temple Tendency is the vengeful remains of a cult of the Emperor of Mankind's divinity that once held sway over the entire Imperium. The Temple Tendency does not have truck with aliens or worship infernal powers; it is composed of the faithful devoted of the Emperor, who claim to follow the heritage of those who first declared the Emperor as a god. Once their faith was the faith of all the Imperium. Their armies and starships were as numerous as the stars, their power all but unrivalled, and below the Golden Throne none was mightier. This might was long ago lost in the cataclysm known to Imperial history as the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium, and they have been reduced to perpetuating their faith in the shadows, nursing their hate and contemplating their vengeance. Millennia of subterfuge have made the Temple Tendency a deadly and thirsting shadow of the holy organisation it once was. Its poisonous presence slipped into the foundling Calixis Sector during the days of its birth, where the Tendency has festered and grown slowly down the centuries. The Calixian Temple Tendency is stronger now than it has ever been, and a threat to which even the Inquisition is blind, lurking unseen like a serpent poised to sink its fangs into the sector's heart.
The Temple Tendency is named for the lingering elements of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor, the early precursor of the present-day Imperial state religion, that exist in parts of the Imperium and within the Ecclesiarchy. The tone of rituals, dress, even the layout of chapels can bear a style or flourish that marks them as being linked to the ways of the pre-Reformation era of the Ecclesiarchy, before the changes made by the great Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor in the 36th Millennium. These distinctive features can be marked enough to elicit a feeling of "tending towards the Temple" or having a "Temple tendency." Over time, this phrase has become a euphemism within the Adeptus Ministorum for marked greed or the desire for worldly power within its own ranks. In the millennia since the Reformation, Heretics following the old ways have been unearthed. They have been similarly labelled as being of a "Temple tendency" rather than admitting what they truly were and so the label has been perpetuated. To these sects, they are of course not the "Temple Tendency" at all, but the members of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor, champions of the old and "true faith." To them it is the Ministorum's faith that is false and corrupt -- a morally bankrupt upstart that has doomed Mankind to a slow death.
The story of the Temple Tendency is the story of faith in the God-Emperor and its forging by the most bloody times of an age when war was rife across the stars. Its root are in the birth of the Imperium itself, and its downfall is the consequence of its own domination of humanity. To understand the Temple Tendency is to walk through a story of apotheosis and apostasy and see Mankind in both its glory and in its ruin.
The Foundation of the Emperor as God
The Imperium of Mankind is an empire of faith -- faith guides its actions, gives solace to the masses and is its shield against the dark. It was not always so. Once, the Emperor was not seen as a god but as the perpetuator of an enlightening truth that would heal and unite humanity, and free it from the tyranny of demagogues and the worship of false idols. Then came the mythic times of the Horus Heresy. The Emperor's favoured son ripped apart his father's dream of human unity and the price of the Emperor's victory was eternity in the Golden Throne. In the wake of this disaster, the Imperium was shaken to its core, and a belief that had been growing in secret became reality as people searched for comfort and purpose -- that the Emperor was not a man, but a god. Cults emerged on thousands of worlds, each declaring and embracing the Emperor as divine -- a God-Emperor. Over time, sects merged, warred, and prospered until, amongst the powerful, one emerged to tower over all others. This sect was the Temple of the Saviour Emperor, and over time it became the One Faith -- the Adeptus Ministorum, state church of the Imperium of Man.
Over the following standard millennia, the power of the Ministorum grew, and its leader, the Ecclesiarch, earned a seat with the High Lords of Terra. Its influence extended to every facet of the Imperium. Only the Adeptus Astartes and Adeptus Mechanicus were immune to the demands of the Ministorum, and then only because none dared to enforce their submission. Soon the Ministorum was the most powerful organ of the Imperium, commanding fleets of warships and legions of crack troops -- all used to wage Wars of Faith and bloody Imperial Crusades at the command of the priests. At the height of its power, the word of the Ecclesiarch could make or unmake laws, decree wars, and refashion the Imperium at a whim.
Age of Apostasy
As the Ministorum bloated with secular power, its need for wealth to sustain its holdings became an insatiable hunger. Huge tithes levied with the authority of the Ecclesiarch pushed worlds into open rebellion. The Frateris Templar punished such defiance without mercy, with Planetary Governors and their officials burnt as Heretics for defying the Emperor's will. Entire populations were decimated to drive home the lesson that those who did not bow to the Ecclesiarchy would find death their only reward. The lesson was not heard.
As rebellion spread across the galaxy and the wrath of the Ecclesiarchy grew, Warp Storms blew up out of the depths of the Immaterium and the burning Imperium was blinded. Thousands of star systems were completely isolated, travel between all but the most local systems became impossible, and the psychic messages of Astropaths became desperate shrieks at the rising maelstrom. Anarchy boiled up across the Imperium. Rogue zealots led thousands in turning their worlds into funeral pyres where cults and sects spawned and struggled in a cloud of blood, dragging Mankind down into dark nightmares of extermination perfumed with the smell of burnt flesh. The few pitiful worlds still open to Warp travel became the focus of the Ecclesiarchy's attempt to assert its authority on a dream that had gone astray. Millions lay dead at the hands of the Frateris Templars.
The storm had broken, but the initial anarchy of bloodletting was only the harbinger of worse to come. As the Ecclesiarchy rose to its position of near-supreme power, it was in constant struggle with the Adeptus Administratum -- the balance of power shifted several times between the two great organs of the Imperium but neither achieved decisive control over the other. However, as the Imperium began to pull itself apart, one man would break the deadlock. That man's name lives on in infamy down even to the current age. He became master of both the Ministorum and Administratum, a tyrant whose rule would be called the Reign of Blood in an age already mired in conflict. The name of the man who came as close as Horus to destroying the Imperium was Goge Vandire. His dark reign was a time of absolute authority executed without restraint or sanity, where worlds were virus–bombed at whim and vast armies mustered to destroy Imperial subjects for suspected or imagined sedition.
At the last, it took the forces of the Mechanicus, Astartes, and the rise of one of the greatest Imperial Saints ever known to bring down Vandire. The man who broke Vandire's power and later became Ecclesiarch, reformer of law, and after death was declared foremost among Imperial Saints was Sebastian Thor. Thor was the leader of the Confederation of Light, a faith cult declared heretical by the Temple of the Saviour Emperor. He was imbued with great charisma and vision but was also supremely humble and, if the current creed is to be believed, performed miracles by the God-Emperor's grace. High Lord Goge Vandire was to die under the sword of his once most loyal servants and thereby be immortalised in infamy. Usurper and corrupt though he may have been, Goge Vandire was the last Ecclesiarch of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor. With his end also came the end of the Temple's dominance of faith in the Imperium.
Sebastian Thor's Reformation
Six thousand standard years of religious rule by the Temple of the Saviour Emperor came to an end with the fall of Goge Vandire and the Reformation that took place in the wake of Sebastian Thor's ascension to Ecclesiarch. Many things changed within the Imperium as a whole, but most importantly to the Adeptus Ministorum, Thor brought with him the penitent teachings of the Confederation of Light. In an ironic reversal of positions, the followers of the teachings of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor found themselves now named the Heretics. Though the old ways of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor were not completely supplanted, the excesses of power and wealth, untempered by sacrifice and humbleness, were the subject of the most brutal change. So it was that the Reformation brought the end of the military might of the Ministorum fleets and the Frateris Templar. The political and spiritual power of the Ecclesiarchy was split between Ophelia VII and Terra, and the secular power of the individual Cardinals was diminished. The message was clear -- the old ways were gone and the power of the Ecclesiarchy was now just one part of the Imperium rather than its sole regent.
The Ecclesiarchy had been born anew, and it was not a bloodless birth. The tales the Calixian Temple Tendency tell to themselves claim that key pillars of the old order slipped away to be lost in the vastness of the Imperium, or had their lives ended in its darker corners. The reformers were ruthless and subtle; however, they could not excise all those who had been part of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor. So it was that an enemy was cowed and humiliated but ultimately allowed to survive and nurse its malice. A few of the followers of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor who survived the Reformation kept their "faith" alive as an outlawed sect. They endured mostly in places where the Temple of the Saviour Emperor had previously held great sway. Today, this sect is known as the Temple Tendency.
Tenets, Goals and Heretical Beliefs
At the core of the Temple Tendency lies the absolute belief by its members that they are true and pure worshipers of the God-Emperor of Mankind. Furthermore, they are convinced the Ecclesiarchy is a heresy of the highest order that has usurped the faithful and damned the souls of countless billions by perpetuating a faith that is a tainted lie. This belief, warped and poisoned by the passage of millennia, informs all they do in what they regard as the battle for the Emperor's soul. To the the Tendency, the current Ecclesiarchy is a heresy and all who are part of it should be put to the flame. All those that acknowledge the authority of the Heretic usurpers are also Heretics and so have cast themselves into service to darkness. Thus does the Tendency believe that only by the return of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor to its rightful place as the ruling body of the Imperium can the ignorantly damned billions gain repentance, and only the purging of the heretical Ecclesiarchy can save humanity. Guided by these convictions, the Temple Tendency's activities work to further three goals for the salvation of all:
- The Preservation of the True - Those who maintain the ways of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor are few in number, and preserving the faith of those few comes before all else. The members of the Tendency are often linked by blood or fealty to a noble lineage that has passed allegiance to the Tendency down the generations. The sect is acutely aware that, if discovered, a single member of their faith can quickly lead to the discovery of the others by the way of family association or background. To counter this inherent weakness in their structure, the Tendency has evolved thorough and rigorous methods of protection, concealment, and misdirection that can baffle all but the most sophisticated and subtle of enemies. Given the Tendency's small size, any depletion in its ranks weakens its ability to work towards its other goals, and so the Tendency will go to the most extreme and extraordinary lengths to preserve its security and anonymity. Assassination, misdirection, planting false evidence, rebuilding identities, and even provoking atrocities and open warfare to distract those who might discover the Tendency are all tactics employed by it.
- The Return of Might and Majesty - The Temple Tendency's central aim is to return the control of the Imperium's political and military might to the hands of the pure and the true. Such a grand goal could only be truly achieved by the overthrowing of the Imperium as it currently exists. Therefore the Tendency works towards gathering military and political power to its service through the placement of its members and manipulation of the organs of Imperial power through infiltration, blackmail, and bribery. It slowly erodes, where it can, the influence of the Adeptus Ministorum and the cohesion of the Adeptus Terra.
- The Return of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor - Ultimately, all of the Temple Tendency's energies are channelled to one end -- the overthrow of the Heretics who have suborned the Ecclesiarchy and led the Imperium astray. The protection of those who still keep the pure and true worship of the Emperor alive, the gathering of military power, and the subversion of other organisations of power are all but steps to this final goal. The Tendency knows it will have to win victories in small pieces -- a soul, a city, a planet, a sector at a time, and that millennia of failure and bloodshed lie ahead. This knowledge has done nothing to blunt the potency of the Temple Tendency's dedication to this ultimate end.
The Temple Tendency in the Calixis Sector
The Temple Tendency came with the Angevin Crusade that carved the Calixis Sector from the godless and infested margins of the Halo Stars. In all likelihood they were refugees from some other purge. Today, who these "pilgrims" were remains largely unknown even to the Tendency's masters. Perhaps they were senior officers in Angevin's forces or part of the Ecclesiarchy's army of missionaries that moved in the wake of the conquering Imperial soldiers. No matter who they were, they came to newborn Calixis and brought their heretical faith with them, infecting their successors with paranoid secrecy and fear of discovery.
Since that time, the Tendency has made great efforts to solidify its position with near-infinite patience. Its two main goals have been supporting and protecting Highborn families of the faithful and building its shadow priesthood to hold them together with the far distant dream of using Calixis to further its true goals of a restoration of the faith. Over the centuries, the Tendency has weathered the storms of history, surviving plagues, wars, reversals of fortune, and unforeseen disasters and gaining ground and influence with measured precision and intent, until today its position in the shadowed hierarchies of the Calixis Sector is stronger than it has ever been.
The old ways of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor and the priesthood which exists to keep them alive live in the shadow of the Ecclesiarchy. The priests minister to an exclusive number of highly-placed families and hide almost in plain sight among the masses of the faithful. Although the Temple Tendency is strong and highly placed, it is geared more to survival and secrecy than open rebellion. It might be argued that it is troubled both by complacency in its current state and the fear of showing itself openly. It has also lost contact with any branch of the sect outside of the Calixis Sector -- a fact that the hidden Pontifices who command the sect have long concealed from their followers.
A Fallen Family: House Verence
House Verence is one of the preeminent noble houses of Scintilla with extensive holdings in Hive Tarsus and Gunmetal City. Lord Verence is a member of the inner circle of Lord Sector Marius Hax's court and has grown in Hax's favour for his insights into dealing with the politics of Scintilla's other hives. Lord Verence appears a rejuvenat–softened, gaudy degenerate with a taste for epicurean pleasure that is well-known amongst the upper echelons of Scintillan society. The truth is somewhat at odds with the mask. House Verence is one of the oldest noble houses of the sector, able to trace its blood back to an aide of Lord Militant Angevin during the early stages of his Crusade. They are and always have been faithful to the pure and true faith of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor, and Lord Verence is not a slowly decaying libertine, but a skilled and dangerous manipulator who has used his position to further the ends of his faith and shield those who share the faith of his house.
Lineages of the True and Pure
The Tendency has chiefly survived through the efforts of its hidden priesthood and the powerful noble families that secretly cling to its creed. The majority of the Tendency's scattered congregation is made up of Highborn families who have passed their hidden faith down by word of mouth and who have a strict code of silence. Most families are well-established and thought of as being either part of the local elite or, in a few cases, powerful and influential clans within the sector with wide influence. In secret, these families maintain their worship and have formed a symbiotic relationship with the sect's priesthood, providing the Temple Tendency with resources and influence, while benefiting from its secret network and alliance. These families seldom know each other, being tied together instead only through the Shade Priests who come and go to minister to them in secret.
The Hidden Pontifices
The Pontifices are the ruling elite of the Tendency. In them the ancient authority of the first men to proclaim the Emperor as the God of Mankind is preserved. While the noble families are the bedrock of the Tendency and the Shade Priests the web that holds it together, the Pontifices are its guiding hand. There are no more than a handful in the Calixis Sector, each watching over a sub-sector and answering only to the High Priest of the True. Each Pontifex also leads a double life, usually having a position of some importance within the organisations of the Imperium from where he can exert influence or be privy to useful information. Some may be members of the Administratum or a planetary government, while others are members of the Ecclesiarchy itself, working to undo the very organisation that they are part of.
Current Conspiracies and Plots
At any one time in the Calixis Sector, members of the Temple Tendency may be pursuing a number of schemes for the furtherment of their outlawed faith: the corruption of an individual mission to spread the Ministorum's version of the Imperial Creed, the assassination of a perceived threat, or the obtaining of illegal arms and equipment. Its most abiding concerns, however, are maintaining the faith and the shield of secrecy that hides it. The Temple Tendency is also hampered somewhat in that it must always operate under a paradox that further complicates matters -- while it hates and despises the Imperium as it is currently established, it cannot afford to see it fall to outside forces, for that too would be a betrayal of the Emperor. The Tendency is as firm in its hatred of the witch, the alien, and the tainted as the most hardline Puritan Inquisitor and its faithful act accordingly.
Currently, the Holy Ordos are ignorant of the Temple Tendency's entrenched presence in the Calixis Sector. This is a state that has been maintained by the sect at the cost of the lives of several Inquisitorial Acolytes and numerous cell members. This ignorance on the part of the Calixian Conclave of the Inquisition is in part due to the fact that the Tendency is often found tied to places where the Temple of the Saviour Emperor was once powerful -- an age long passed by the time the Calixis Sector was born. This fact has hidden the Temple Tendency, and while the Inquisition is aware of certain incidents, it does not suspect a single heresy or group to be behind them, much less that the heresy is the Temple Tendency.
The Assassination Cells
The Temple Tendency has a long history of venting its hate of the Ecclesiarchy in episodes of spiteful bloodletting. In the last half-century (ca.800-850.M41), however, High Priest of the True Priam, the sect's Calixian leader, has charged his flock with supporting and enacting the murder of members of the Ecclesiarchy with greater vigour than his predecessors. The assassination cells formed by this edict are made up of members of the secret faith and are often of diverse profession and appearance. Trained to move amongst the Imperium without notice, the members of a cell may appear to be aides to a merchant, pilgrims, or other innocuous travellers. The members of a Tendency assassination cell usually work together for several standard years, selecting and executing their own targets. Many kill opportunistically, slaying a lone preacher or missionary and thus making the most of any given advantage. Others are more selective and aim to strike at key members of the Ministorum presence in the sector. Indeed, the poisoning of the previous Adepta Sororitas adviser to Lord Sector Hax was one such assassination that was the result of careful planning by a Tendency assassination cell. The assassination cells are allowed and encouraged to roam free, killing and working against members of the Ecclesiarchy at will so long as they maintain their veil of secrecy. These activities, however, are only to hone them for their real tasks. Their true duty is revealed to them when they receive a name or a series of objectives by the word of a Shade Priest at the behest of one of the sect's Pontifices.
The Infiltration of the Red Redemption
The Temple Tendency has recently set its sights on the Red Redemption. Redemptionists are an ultra militant sect of the Imperial Creed that sees humanity as saturated with sin and who can only be redeemed by fire and blood. Followers of the Redemptionist creed are militant to a frenzied degree, and groups of different sizes are found across the Calixis Sector, varying from small underhive gangs to the huge army of Seth the Voice on Iocanthos. Redemptionists see Heretics all around them, yet are often blind to those that stand amongst them. The Temple Tendency began its infiltration of the Redemption a few standard years ago, starting by funding the Redemption and then infiltrating members into the Redemption's local leadership. So far it has not managed to penetrate the Redemption enough to exert any real influence over the sect, but should its plans progress unimpeded, it will eventually have gained control over a fanatical army of followers to use as unwitting cannon fodder in a war yet to come.
The Manipulation of the Lucid Court
The Temple Tendency's chief achievement in the Calixis Sector is the extent to which it can influence the sector's governance. The Temple Tendency has caused the dismissal of officials so that it could substitute its own pawns and thereby influence the balance of the power in the sector. To this end, it has taken advantage of aspects of Lord Sector Hax's character to bring about a political situation that favours its schemes, not least of all his innate paranoia and dislike of outside interference to his rule. This goal has been achieved by the placement of trusted followers of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor within the inner circle of Lord Hax's court, a thing that has taken centuries of positioning and bribery to achieve.
Chief amongst these secret Heretics is Lord Verence, who coordinates the manipulation of Hax and his court fellows with the delicate and invisible hand of a master. Others work in ignorance for the sect, believing instead that their petty corruptions fuel noble vendettas or simple greed, not realising their paymasters' true natures. Ultimately the sect wishes to push Hax into ever more tyrannical actions, turning his suspicion and wrath against rival noble families, competing powers, and troublesome members of the Adeptus Terra, all in the furtherance of its own long-term power, and perhaps even provoke a carefully managed sector civil war.
Servants of the Old Faith
"I have stood upon the towers and watched the fell radiance of the Tyrant Star. I have glimpsed things that follow in its wake, vast and terrible, lurking like leviathans in the Warp. I could never look upon anything ever again without seeing that horrid, dark glimmer. It was obvious. The only answer was to cut out my eyes. Only then would I truly see."
- — Unknown servant of the Temple Tendency
The Tendency can call upon almost all Imperial organisations at a low level thanks to the diverse roles its adherents play in the Imperium. The Tendency has a number of priests and allied family members who are reasonably senior members of the Administratum, Ecclesiarchy, and the Imperial nobility. It also has extensive contacts with merchants, smugglers, and the criminal underworld, often through false identities and intermediaries:
- Shade Priests - Also known to the Inquisition as the Vandiran Apostates, the Shade Priests are the bonds by which the Temple Tendency and its enterprises are held together. Each is chosen at a young age from amongst the children of the faithful and then schooled in the creed of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor along with the skills that he will need to keep that faith alive. Each is a controlled, capable fanatic who will do anything to preserve what he sees as the true Imperial Creed, trained to slip unnoticed through the Imperium like a ghost in order to do the sect's work -- either by secretly spreading the faith or executing the apostate.
- Temple Tendency Assassination Cells - The assassination cells of the Temple Tendency are small groups of seemingly ordinary people who are in fact highly-trained covert agents and fanatic adherents to the cult. They operate as semi-autonomous executioners of the enemies of the Temple Tendency (both perceived and real) and engage in the cult's plots.
- Chantry Guards - The Chantry Guard watch over the hidden temples of the sect and serve as the secret bodyguards of the Pontifices. Encased in gilded plate and implanted with synthetic muscle grafts, these warrior-fanatics are a distant echo of the now-forbidden Frateris Templar that served as the Temple of the Saviour Emperor's vast army during Vandire's reign. Most are drawn from the military retainers of faithful noble families. Each Chantry Guard is bound to protect a sacred place or guard his Pontifex until he dies or is too feeble to fight. Occasionally, a Chantry Guard will be despatched incognito to watch over a member of the sect on an important mission or an ally who might prove false. In addition, the Tendency can call upon members of almost every branch of the Imperial military, save the Adeptus Astartes, thanks to the roles its adherents play across the Imperium.
- Arco-Flagellants - Arco-Flagellants are Heretics who have been implanted with brutal weaponry and drug injectors and boosted by muscle grafts so that they become terrifying cyborg berserkers who can be unleashed on those who have fallen in the sight of the Emperor. The sentence of arco-flagellation is reserved for the worst of sinners and Heretics. The condemned are mentally and physically transformed into engines of destruction, kept in check by a Pacifier Helm. With a word, the implanted aggression inhibitors and stream of sacred chanting from the Pacifier Helm shuts down. Then, huge quantities of combat drugs, muscle stimulators, and pain suppressors are dumped into the Arco-Flagellant's body, instantly turning it into a superhuman blur of taut muscle and thrashing weapons. Arco-Flagellants are created and controlled by the Ecclesiarchy, though thanks to the Temple Tendency's infiltrations, the cult has gained the use of a number of these once-human weapons. The Temple has even turned a small number of kidnapped Ecclesiarchy priests into Arco-Flagellants in a spiteful reversal of the Ecclesiarchy's own justice.
Ordo Hereticus Departmento Analyticus Threat Briefing
The Temple Tendency is a known heretical movement, under millennia-old standing orders of purgation from the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus. Historically its followers have been found in various bodies of the Imperium and have a degree of organisation and coordination behind their actions. The presence of the Temple Tendency in the Calixis Sector is currently considered doubtful by the Ordos Calixis. Several cells of regressive heretical faith have been encountered and purged in the past, but none can yet be concretely linked to an organised or widerspread sect.
Vengeance and Loathing
Of all the arms of the Ecclesiarchy, the Temple Tendency nurtures a special malice towards the Sisters of the Adepta Sororitas. The holy Sisters were once called the Brides of the Emperor and served as Goge Vandire's personal shock troops and bodyguards in the last bloody solar decades before the Reformation re-forged the Ecclesiarchy. Consisting of many Orders, each following a different calling, the Adepta Sororitas have been the pure heart of the Ecclesiarchy for over five standard millennia. Most famed of the holy Sisters are the Sisters of Battle, the military arm of the Ecclesiarchy and Chamber Militant of the Ordo Hereticus; they are manifestations of the Emperor's judgement. No matter what their Order, all sisters of the Adepta Sororitas are despised by the Temple Tendency. To this day, the Tendency will take any opportunity to revenge themselves on the Sisterhood, even acting with uncharacteristic recklessness to inflict harm and suffering upon them. The poisoning of the Sister Famulous adviser to Lord Sector Hax two standard years ago and the "accidental" unleashing of reprogrammed Arco-Flagellants on a Sister Hospitaller medical facility on Tranch are but the most recent manifestations of the Temple Tendency's vendetta against the Adepta Sororitas.
- Dark Heresy: Disciples of the Dark Gods (RPG), pp. 31-39