Illegal Activities and Crime

There are many crimes that a citizen can commit. As noted in the Law and Order section each world has its own local laws in addition to the Imperial Law designating high crimes, policed by the Adeptus Arbites. The majority of Imperial citizens do their best not to stray and breach the law, fear keeps them in line; but desperation can often drive a citizen to break local laws. Sometimes this is simply to feed their family, sometimes it is abuse of restricted substances to escape from the horrors of their waking world. Imperial Law has no mercy for offenders – regardless of their reasoning, the Lex Imperialis is cold and uncaring.

Common Infractions

Theft is by far the most common crime in the Imperium, especially among lowborn citizens. Though the Imperial State provides basic welfare for its citizens, its inefficiency in delivery means that many lowborn citizens barely scrape the resources they need to survive. The majority of thefts are from the workplace, designated as ‘misappropriation of Imperial resources’, but there are plenty of selfish individuals who steal from others in order to survive. The majority of thefts are investigated by planetary law enforcement, known colloquially as ‘Enforcers’. However, major thefts such as mass looting of Administratum Supply depots or weapons thefts are handled directly by the Adeptus Arbites who come down harshly on any major challenges to Imperial authority like these.

Violent crimes are a particularly common problem; riots can be commonplace and in the lower sections of society communities often form into criminal gangs that war for control of various resources. So long as Imperial servants are not directly attacked the Imperium tends to look upon these local conflicts as something to be monitored rather than stopped; situations that spiral out of control lead to clampdowns, but the Imperium has been known to pressgang violent criminals into Imperial Guard units in order to redirect their violent tendencies.

Common minor infractions tend to be focused around lack of official paperwork and sanction; ownership of a firearm, for example, is crime within the Imperium without proper authorisation, usually limited to the rich and those who have done military service, or those in active service to the Imperium in one of its branches. Travelling without proper paperwork is another common crime, as is failure to report to designated work areas or keep to state mandated work schedules.

Smuggling and the Black Market

Without taking the risk of theft, acquiring luxuries and other resources through legitimate channels is difficult for most lowborn citizens. Despite the notable risks in illict ownership of a firearm, there are many reasons for a citizen to want to get their hands on one for self defence, between the constant threats of crime, invasion and aggressive wildlife. The black markets of the Prosperitas Sector are filled with individuals willing to purchase illegally acquired goods

Of all the things on the black market, paperwork is the most commonly sold item. In an Imperium where so many parts of daily life depend entirely on Administratum approvals, stolen and forged paperwork makes it easier for a citizen to overcome the horrendous bureaucracy involved in the most basic of freedoms. There is always a risk, however; the Administratum might seem a dull organisation but it has no mercy when it comes to illegal documentation – ownership and creation of such things is a crime handled directly by the Arbites.

Smuggling goods onto a world is a challenge. Few smugglers have the wealth to own a void ship – the majority operate like parasites in the underbellies of legitimate void ships. It is a major concern for shipboard security of Naval and Trader vessels, and for traders, perceived laxity with smugglers can be mean the loss of a license.

Controlled Substances

The horrors of the galaxy, the horrendous pressure placed on citizens by work schedules and many other daily stresses often drive abuse of controlled substances such as chems. The legality of various substances varies from planet to planet, those recorded beneath are the most commonly encountered substances currently restricted and controlled across the Prosperitas Sector.

Alcohol comes in many varieties across the Imperium, though the only restrictions surrounding in focus on the quantity officially permitted per individual, and consumption while at a work station or on duty. Amasec, a wine distillate, is a widespread drink of the nobility and many who aspire to higher stations, though the latter often drink the more basic brews available on the market. Production of Amasec and wine was more common in the South Eastern Prosperitas sector in the worlds on the edge of subsector Tenebris, but warp taint in crops has drastically slowed this in recent years. Uisge-beatha is a native spirit in the North-Eastern regions of the Sector; it is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash; many planets have their own variations of differing potency and taste depending on how long it is allowed to ferment, the grains used and method of filtration.

Lho Leaf is a popular substance across the Prosperitas Sector and the Imperium proper. The original home world of this plant is unknown but crops have spread across the Imperium, including the Prosperitas Sector. The Lho Leaf, when smoked, produces a mild psychoactive effect that in most individuals induces a state of calm and relaxation. Crops are tightly controlled by the Imperium, and manufactured ‘Lho-sticks’ are considered a standard part of Guard and Naval rations. Civilian purchase of Lho-sticks is considered a luxury however, so there are many unscrupulous individuals who grow unsanctioned Lho crops or illegally produce Lho sticks for cheaper prices than sanctioned sticks are sold for. The Imperium has good reason to clamp down upon them – Lho-leaf grown in the wrong environment can be toxic or produce more dangerous effects, and many illicit Lho-sticks are cut with other dangerous substances.

There are a number of controlled substances utilised by the Imperium on battlefields that are considered illegal for personal use and ownership. Slaught, for example, is an Imperial-manufactured combat-drug that simultaneously heightens the aggression of an individual while disabling pain receptors and inhibitors of the human body, the result is highly destructive and as a result unlicensed use and possession are capital offences. Pain killers and stimulants such as morphia are also restricted for the use of sanctioned Medicae only; the administration of these doses are costly and have long waiting lists, even for those who actually need them.  As with weapons and paperwork, many controlled drugs, even combat drugs, end up on the black market if one is willing to pay.

The most commonly abused substances are those designated for performance enhancement – while many in the Imperium turn to caffeinated substances like Recaf the demands placed upon Imperial workers are intense.  Physical performance enhancements are rare, but those intended to boost brain power and focus are heavily abused in the lower ranks of the Adeptus Administratum. This is a rampant problem as it often leads to blackmail of Administratum scribes by the underworld figures using them. The most dangerous of these in the Prosperitas sector is a neurobooster called Cortexin. Marketed as a synthetic chemical, Arbites forces believe it to actually be harvested from the spinal fluid of a xenoform creature – as such it poses a threat to the spiritual and genetic purity of an individual.

There are also several highly popular recreational drugs in the Sector, most of these come and go as Arbites are swift to clamp down on the latest crazes, but the following are some of the most commonly encountered. Ketracel is a huge problem in hive cities, in small doses it induces a trance-like state that can leave the subject open to hypnotic suggestion, whereas in higher doses it induces mania and feral strength. Deepweed is harvested from the lightless depths of Kydos, this aquatic plant is easy to smuggle offworld from the agri-world as it looks and smells like much of the standard aquatic produce from the planet, dried and smoked or consumed the weed produces incredibly vivid and twisted hallucinations and a sense of euphoria rumoured to be extrasensory in nature, it is deemed a moral threat to Imperial citizens and has a destroy-on-discovery order against it. Along with these two, common hallucinogenic drugs like Opia, Obscura and Somna that are common to the rest of the Imperium can be found within the sector.

Illegal Activities

In addition to approved and sanctioned recreational activities there are a number of activities unsanctioned by the Imperium that citizens have been known to participate in, in contravention of the law. The majority of these are simply attending unsanctioned venues where popular events such as pit-fights are more savage than the legally licenced venues, attending an unlicensed bar or speakeasy, or engaging in unlicensed races. Imperial law prevents unsanctioned gatherings of more than a certain number of individuals so many secret concerts and raves where unsanctioned electronically produced music is played are hot spots of sociable young Citizens, and often targeted heavily by the Adeptus Arbites.

The listening to and possession of uncensored music is also considered a crime in the Imperium, and Imperial law prevents unsanctioned gatherings of more than a certain number of individuals. However many underground concerts and raves were uncensored music is listened to, and popular spots where ‘clubbing’ occurs that are hot spots for sociable young citizens and simultaneously heavily targeted by Enforcers and Arbites. Even ‘ironically’ attending a club where the music played is deemed rebellious or heretical is considered a crime by the Enforcers.

Climbing urban structures and religious locations, the latter of which is considered a minor heresy in the eyes of Imperial law is a regular activity that breaches the law; a handful of young citizens die every cycle attempting to climb the monolithic architecture built by the Imperium to impress their peers.  

Because of the sheer variation of local laws, many different things are deemed illegal, but citizens have been known to breach law for enjoyment and personal pleasure.

Genetic Crimes

The genetic purity of mankind is an obsession of the Imperium; there are a myriad of genetic tests for purity. You can read more about the genetically impure here. However there are several crimes a Citizen can commit surrounding this matter that have harsh sentences, including exile and being stripped of citizen status.

The crime of ‘polluting the genetic purity of mankind’ was originally intended the act of knowingly producing a child with at least one mutant or abhuman parent, but is relatively rare given the segregation between these populations. It is also a crime to conceal your own mutations and then go on to have children, relatively more common but still relatively rare given the efficiency of genetic screening. However there have been a number of unique cases where this charge has been levied because of crimes relating to genetic manipulation. The Imperium is concerned exclusively with significant deviation away from the homo sapiens pattern and the strange mutations that arise on distant planets and in the holds of starships; any genetic variation familiar from 21st century Earth falls well below the threshold of “mutation” and accepted without question.

Genetic manipulation, or gene-forging, is a highly restricted and arcane science reliant on technology from a darker age of mankind; it is exclusively a realm of science restricted to the high ranks of the Collegia Biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The majority of genetic sciences surrounding childbirth are legal, often used to produce offspring for those who cannot have them; however there are many laws surround genetic tampering with the child. Genetic engineering is highly forbidden and its products considered ‘abhuman’ – the act of doing so, is considered a high crime, often persecuted as technoheresy. The sciences surrounding the Adeptus Astartes are considered divine and unrelated.

Genetic engineering of beasts is on the other hand is not a high crime, but requires official sanction both to perform, and to own such a creation – failure to acquire such sanction is prosecuted, especially in the case of Terran-origin wildlife, which is considered sacred since the majority of species of Terra are extinct on the Throneworld.

Given the knowledge of these arcane sciences is so rare and forbidden, the Arbites are ever-vigilant about it; the majority of underworld sources of the science are from xenos science and such things are heresies of the highest order.

Organised Crime

Organised crime is a constant challenge for Local Enforcers and the Adeptus Arbites. The majority of crimes are committed by individuals, as the constant and brutal vigilance of the Arbites means it is very difficult for criminals to organise. Any large and organised enough criminal gang is treated as posing as much threat to Imperial stability as a rebel movement or a heretical cult, and the Arbites do not need anything more than suspicion to brutally crack down on individuals they suspect of orchestrating a large criminal empire. That is not to say that such syndicates do not exist, but that only the smartest and toughest survive for long. The most successful criminals maintain a respectable front to their operations and are ready to jettison any illegal sidelines where they can or go mostly legitimate to get lenience.

Most organised crime therefore exists at the street gang level, which is a particular issue in the underhives of many hive cities, and tends to be territorial. In the Prosperitas Sector, many of the criminal forces which existed prior to M.41 saw the way the wind was blowing when the Imperium invaded and hashed out deals to support its forces. Pirates still prove a problem, some of which work in mixed crews with xenos species, but the majority of the big criminal organisations have respectable fronts to them now.

Rebellion, Sedition and Defiance of Imperial Authority

The Imperium is a harsh totalitarian regime. Freedom is not something enjoyed by Imperial citizens. Freely speaking negatively of Imperial Officials, even grumbling about a work supervisor, is considered sedition. The Imperium is quick to punish these lesser forms of sedition, and can be draconian in the nature of the punishments – it is the belief of Imperial authorities that laxity on minor sedition only allows it to grow.

As noted above, it is against Imperial law for a large crowd to gather without sanctioned purpose (such as attending a Temple of the Imperial Faith), so any form of protest – even silent and peaceful – is considered illegal and relentlessly clamped suppressed. The Adeptus Arbites are well armed with military-grade equipment, so protests and riots are suppressed with swift and brutal efficiency by heavily armed and armoured Arbitrators. They do however happen; often protests will be against working conditions, the strain placed upon a population by Imperial tithes, or the enlistment of soldiers into the Imperial Guard – very few seditionists are heretics, most remain devoted to the God-Emperor but instead see the Imperial institutions as being corrupt and having failed them. Seditionists are often branded at the very minimum, as a mark of shame.

Though the Imperium hunts for the influence of heretical cults and agents of its enemies behind every rebellion, the majority of uprisings against the Imperium are not influenced by outside agents but are instead caused by upset and anger at Imperial and Local authorities and political misrule. Communities, be they a hab-block, city or even planet, that rebel against the Imperium are treated harshly for their failings. Punishments are usually collective, the entire population may be shipped to a penal world if considered of continued use to the Imperium, or see their world turned into one; the Imperium’s punishments for rebellion are creative and public, as examples must always be set.

Within the Prosperitas Sector, outbreaks of rebellion are a common problem facing the Imperial Governors of worlds in the rimward regions of the sector; some of these are heretical, with the organisers being part of Archenemy cults that existed prior to the arrival of the Prosperitas Crusade or unconverted locals who reject the divine rule of the God-Emperor.  The majority are disparate settlers and natives on frontier worlds who are angry at what they see as unfair and uncaring demands placed upon them by Imperial tithes levied against their still-developing worlds – arguably this is the cause of the slow advance of the Prosperitas Crusade, as many forces keep on being pulled from the front lines to suppress uprisings and rebellions.


Purge the heretic, beware the psyker and the mutant, abhor the alien”: this is the third tenet of the Imperial Creed. The crime of Heresy is as rigorously policed as any non-metaphysical crime – a heretic poses a moral hazard to their soul and the souls of those around them.
Minor heresies are treated much the same as sedition. Should the soul of the guilty heretic be deemed worthy of redemption they may be branded and condemned to suffer a punishment deemed sufficient to repent for their crime. The worse their moral transgressions the worse the punishment; nearly always these are a form of corporal punishment such as flogging, the removal of body parts or excruciation (torture) – often involving fire, which is seen as purifying in Imperial lore. The nature of minor heresies are varied, from insulting the God-Emperor‘s name, to singing the Hymns of the Ecclesiarchy incorrectly with deliberate disrespect, to more severe cases like damaging His shrines and holy places and possession of minor heretical texts (such as those belonging to outlawed sects of the Imperial Cult), practice of false religions deemed to pose no direct taint of the Archenemy, or Atheism; these latter two crimes are a common issue in the Prosperitas Sector where many worlds are recent converts to the Imperial creed.

Those guilty of more severe or repeated minor heresies are often sentenced to a state called ‘Repentia’. A Citizen in Repentia is assigned a duty within the Imperium (often within an Ecclesiarchy-overseen penal unit) where they must serve to redeem their souls. Most often this service is fatal to the repentant heretic but redemption in death is seen as infinitely preferable to dying as a Heretic as one’s soul is the Emperor’s to take rather than the daemons’.

Major Heresies are so foul that actual knowledge of most the crimes committed is forbidden, worship of the Dark Gods of the Archenemy is the only well known one, these are the crimes exclusively policed by the Inquisition, for which the minimum punishment is death. In extreme cases and often when a heretic is tried in absentia they may be declared Excommunicate Traitoris – meaning they become a hunted target of the Inquisition, a fate few survive for long. In extreme cases where the potential of taint affecting the Heretic could potentially have compromised the souls of those close to them, entire bloodlines, communities and organisations have been declared Excommunicate Traitoris and put to the torch.

Almost all Heretics guilty of major heresy are graphically executed, usually by burning.

Although an equal Heresy, ‘consorting with Xenos’ and ‘conspiracy to pollute Imperial culture’ are crimes worth noting in the Prosperitas Sector. There are a number of minor xenos species found throughout the sector, mostly in the Rimward Marches, some of which hide their natural predatory nature through the guise of ‘trade’. The act of willingly engaging with these foul creatures and bringing traded goods into the Imperium is a heresy in and of itself, righteously prosecuted by the Inquisitors of the Ordo Xenos.

There is one form of Heresy not policed by the Adeptus Ministorum and the Inquisition, and that is Tech-Heresy. Within the Imperium, most sciences and all technology are the domain of the Machine Cult, the Adeptus Mechanicus. They sanction who is and is not allowed knowledge and rigorously persecute those who stray from their rigorous conservatism regarding the development of new technologies and the manufacture of equipment.

Some argue this stifling control over technology and its classification as ‘heresy’ is a method by which politically the Machine Cult holds onto power, but regardless of seditionist claims, it is their right and duty to prosecute crimes against their creed. The simple act of stripping the cover off a machine without proper sanctioning and ritual is enough to attract the ire of the Tech-Priests of the Cult, and their punishments are various and harsh. Unlike the Imperium the Mechanicus rarely executes so-called ‘hereteks’; usually they are lobotomised and augmented into menial cyborgs known as ‘Servitors’. Often these drones are assigned to duties within the heretek’s home community where they serve as a grisly warning against transgressions against the machine cult.