No one expects the synod inquisition


I have heard of the inquisition being a part of empire, how does it work?


Basically the entire Synod could be described as “the Inquisition”. And being inquisited by a good inquisitor can be a lot of fun!


In theory they can come an execute you for being a heretic but in practise that is fairly unlikely I have been told. There was a whole discussion about whether or not I would be killed by one if they thought I was a heretic and the general consensus was no. I think for OOC reasons as it isn’t fun losing a character for simply having a different opinion.

The main idea is for them to find people who are being unvirtuous. I think you would have to be extremely unvirtuous for them to pay any attention to you. Once they do, they will try and capture you from what I know of them.

Inquisitor is also one of the Highguard archetypes.


Can’t happen directly. The inquisition has to be raised as a judgement, be voted on and passed, the hours questioning is an investigation only, a separate judgement of sanction of condemnation would have to be raised (and voted on) for you to go to trial before a magistrate, where the priest who inquisited you sets out the evidence that they believe shows you have committed a religious crime. Then the magistrate will decide your fate.

Inquisitions are a chance to prove a theory, or investigate someone’s motives, They’re also a chance to make a formal record of someone’s successes if you want, or to ask someone to really think about whether they are doing the virtuous thing.

It’s not a trial as in the real world sense.


No, they can’t. There are set outcomes of an Inquisition, none of which are death.


@thresher and @CharlieP thank you both for correcting me. I thought they could do that as someone told me that it had happened before but maybe that was a special case. I do understand that you are very unlikely to be killed but I thought that if you were extremely unvirtuous, doing terrible deeds and causing great harm, then they could execute you. I’m not really sure however it is decided whether or not they handle something or if the law handles something. Do they handle the more subtle breaches of virtue where as the law handles the more obvious and extreme such as murder?


You can be executed for heresy if you do it really well ! It just takes several steps, at least one inquisition, then a sanction judgement, then a magistrates trial, and then the magistrate can call for your execution. If the inquisiting priest executes you, then they’ll be up before the magistrate for murder!

Basically inquisition handles matters of Virtue, small to large, and their result will be another synod judgement, and the Magistrates handle matters of law, which is a trial, verdict and sentencing (If needed). There are some laws that concern Virtue, where both processes may be applied though.


Ah okay, thanks.


I play a PC who was a Virtue Inquisitor, Imperial Inquisitor or proxy for those on and off for a few years. Most of the job of those positions is “Encouraging people to do an Inquisition” and “Helping them not fuck it up”.

a couple of events back, we Inquisited the Empress. Not because we thought she was a heretic, but because we wanted to use Inquisition as public oversight on a powerful citizen.
(That’s what we put on the judgement, IC opinion, your mileage may vary)

It’s not the Spanish Inquisition or the 40k Inquisition, it’s more like The Virtue Regulatory Board.
Things I’ve used Inquisition for:

  • Questioning Blasphemers to find holes in their alibi.
  • Giving a character a platform to explain how she did a super loyal thing that screwed over said blasphemers.
  • Giving everyone who wanted to yell at a certain PC 2 minutes worth of yelling each, in a controlled environment.
  • Attempting to bollock someone over mad science and having it go horribly wrong,
  • Getting a character to actually, properly defend his actions with Virtue and explain what he’s Proud of. Then instructing him to “Go follow more Pride”.


An inquisition is one of two equivalents in Empire of the traditional LRP trial where you’re brought before other PCs who spend a long time discussing your alleged crimes, possibly with your input, before deciding your guilt or innocence.


  • You are never held for long periods because being a prisoner is not fun. You are given a time when you must show up - provided it’s a reasonable time, then nonattendance is a crime that will be dealt with summarily by law enforcement (stiff fine, usually).
  • It’s not a matter of law - it’s a matter of religion. An assembly of the Synod (a player-character religious governing body) votes to call you to inquisition, and appoints someone to question you. They may conduct the inquisition however they like.
  • That inquisitor, after the inquisition, may if they choose either declare you guilty of a religious crime or provide some lesser judgement ranging from a slap on the wrist to declaring you not just not-guilty but in fact quite excellent.
  • They then need to get their assembly’s support in saying that they judged correctly. Of course, typically an inquisitor is a seasoned political operator who can turn out the vote - trying to get a guilty judgement voted down would need powerful friends.
  • You have no right to counsel - your main right is freedom of movement. You can be legally compelled to turn up, but you cannot be compelled to stick around. Of course, you might well be charged with something unpleasant if you disrespect the Synod.
  • IF you’re found guilty and IF the Synod vote for the guilty judgement, then there are a couple of legal sanctions. You could be excommunicated, which would eject you from positions you held and declare open season on you in terms of curses etc, or you could be declared guilty of various religious crimes - at which point the Magistrates would arrest you.

Which brings me on to the other kind of trial at Empire - criminal trials!

  • Criminal trials are conducted by impartial NPC magistrates in as bish-bash-bosh-efficient a procedure as they can be made.
  • Your freedom of movement is suspended. Just walking off will get attention paid to your kneecaps.
  • You have a legal right to a specific defence called clemency - this is where you claim “I did it, I was right to do it, I’d do it again” and a priest argues that this is right as far as the Way teaches. It would be bizarre to get a competent clemency defence on a blasphemy or heresy charge but never say never. Notably, a clemency defence has to hold water - you can’t just get your mate to claim you were virtuous, they’ve actually got to argue it coherently.
  • A Synod condemnation is prima facie evidence that You Done It - for religious crimes the magistrate is there to determine whether you get executed or fined, not whether you did it. There’s no not-guilty plea available for religious crime.
  • The magistrate sentences you and it’s carried out as immediately as possible. This might be an execution. The Way esteems human life somewhat less than real-life systems - characters never get custodial sentences because they are considered worse than execution (and it’d suck OOC).


So yes, it’s possible to get executed for heresy. But you’ve got to be a public heretic loudly enough to make someone spend their event’s Synod judgement on taking you down, they’ve got to have the support of their Assembly, then again once you’ve said your piece, then an NPC has to agree that there’s a significant risk of you doing it again. This whole process is loud and public, and designed to give a soapbox to people who love playing villains, heretics, blasphemers and Public Enemy Number One. It’s not a trap to catch newbies.


As a reference, the last person to be executed for heresy was (I believe) Yael, and it took her player several years of dedicated roleplaying a defiant, charismatic heretic to get to that point.



It would be bizarre to get a competent clemency defence on a blasphemy or heresy charge but never say never.

I can confirm it’s happened :stuck_out_tongue:


With help, I successfully argued a Loyalty plea before the heresy condemnation finished the voting stage, and managed to get away without even getting condemned (only a 40 vote difference) in spite of the fact I admitted I did a heresy. It was great fun.


Right, but in your case it never got to trial, right?

It’s interesting to me that we’re getting in Empire a phenomenon we get in real life, where citizens take the way a government sets rules about what the government itself can do and apply them to how they as private citizens should comport themselves.


That sounds eerily familiar. :wink: