The Navigator houses of the Navis Nobilite are amongst the most important individuals in the Imperium. They lease out their members to various institutions across the galaxy, either for currency or through ancient pacts and debts.
These are always honored and, in this respect, the Navigators are extremely honorable indeed, as to renege on them would be costly in financial terms as well as the accompanying loss of face.
he Navigators first appeared amongst the scattered seeds of humanity in the long-forgotten past, their true origin obscured by the mist of ages. Their unique ability to perceive the tides of the Warp and guide a star ship safely through its otherwise inscrutable depths allowed the formerly scattered, largely autonomous fragments of the human race to unite into a single, star-spanning empire. The entire species entered a golden age of unity and enlightenment that, sadly, would last only a handful of millennia before the dark epoch of the Age of Strife descended and Mankind was plunged into five thousand years of despair.
Of the earliest histories of the Navigator Houses almost nothing is known, though some amongst the Holy Ordos suspect that the ancient stasis vaults beneath the mansions of the Navigator’s Quarter on Holy Terra must contain records and artifacts rivaling those of the Inquisition in age and significance. Whatever secret histories of Mankind’s darkest ages are hidden beneath these marble palaces are likely to remain obscured though, for the Novators of the Great Houses are beholden to no other authority and even the most determined and relentless of Inquisitors would find it all but impossible to breach their closed society and force
them to acknowledge any external law.
Whatever the details of their roots, the Navigator Houses appear to have enjoyed a special status since time immemorial. They must have been an established and powerful body at the beginning of the Emperor’s Great Crusade, which would have been impossible without their services. Were it not for the Navigators that guided each Expeditionary Fleet, the Great Crusade would have taken millennia to prosecute, not the scant two centuries it actually took before the calamitous events of the Horus Heresy plunged the nascent Imperium into galaxy burning civil war.
It must be presumed that a number of Houses fell to the insidious lies of the Warmaster, for it would not have been possible for Horus to deploy his fleets with the speed and cunning he did were this not the case. Whatever the truth, the Navigator Houses appear to have emerged from the Heresy with their power and reputation largely intact— confirmation, were it needed, of their critical role in the very existence of the galaxy-spanning empire that is the Imperium.
It is because of their sheer importance that the Navigator Houses have attained a vast degree of wealth and influence.
The Navis Nobilite can draw its formal origins back to ages long past, and since that time the Navigator Houses have amassed unimaginable riches. Every starship that plies the Warp routes of the Imperium and beyond has at least one, and most likely an entire cabal of Navigators, to guide it safely through the Immaterium.
The Navis Nobilite uses the wealth that it accrues from this critical task to amass still more. None accept perhaps the Paternova—the most senior Patriarch of all the Great Houses—can have any true notion of just how much wealth the Navis Nobilite wields, and its influence and alliances stretch far beyond pure material riches. Certainly, they appear to have interests in sundry organizations the length and breadth of the Imperium; some have close ties with Rogue Trader dynasties, the Adeptus Mechanicus, and even the vaunted Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. The
Navigator Houses act as backers and investors in some of the most ambitious undertakings, especially those of the most powerful of Rogue Trader expeditions. Thus, as Rogue Traders employ Navigators to forge new Warp routes, the Navis Nobilite profits doubly, for even while establishing those routes, they can improve their charts, to their own benefit and that of the Imperium.
Role within the Imperium
Despite the staggering wealth that the Navigator Houses enjoy, they do not generally maintain the sort of visible power structures most other Imperial institutions rely upon.
Unlike Rogue Traders and Chartist Captains, nor do they operate fleets of starships bearing their livery and, unlike the great merchant combines, they do not maintain their own trading centers or industrial installations. Instead, they own part interests in all manner of such endeavors and
sometimes the hand of the Navis Nobilite is very well hidden indeed. They do not generally maintain large standing armies, although many Navigator Houses employ a cadre of highly trained, well equipped, and sometimes gen-hanced household troops utterly loyal to their bloodline. When circumstances dictate, the Navigator Houses draw on their vast wealth to employ the very best mercenary forces available and, with sufficient warning of impending war, can field composite armies rivaling an orbital defense force in size and resources. What the Navigator Houses do maintain, however, are the most splendid palaces, exquisite estates,
and gorgeous pleasure gardens it is possible to imagine.
Most are located far from the eyes of the average man and woman of the Imperium, though they often maintain more utilitarian, if still richly appointed, chancelleries in most large star ports and capital cities.
From the outside, even the most modest Navis Nobilite palace is likely to be a rearing edifice dressed with marble and decorated by the most accomplished sculptors of the age. Beyond the walls, delicate towers pierce the sky while glittering domes hint at the untold riches within. What the casual observer might not note is the banks of unseen defenses, from automated weapons turrets to the most impregnable of void shielding. Within, every visible surface is gilded with precious metal leaf or hung with sumptuous fabrics. The domes house vast libraries of ancient texts, sumptuous ballrooms, serene pleasure gardens, and luxurious harems. Lumens crafted from the rarest of cut jewels light dining halls that can accommodate thousands of guests, while serried ranks of liveried attendants stand to attention nearby.
Entire armies of servants and menials attend to their masters’ every conceivable whim, while the lower levels are hives of activity where the most skilled cuisiniers prepare feasts of delicacies imported from all over the Imperium.
Beneath the servants’ levels lies something far darker. In armored and warded dungeons are housed those spawn of the Navis Nobilite fated never to guide a star ship through the roiling Sea of Souls. These are the genetic rejects and hideous by-blows of the long millennia of intermarriage and genetic manipulation. They are mindless, puking monstrosities that bear precious little resemblance to anything born of a human womb. Many are destroyed soon
after birth, while others are allowed to live so that the House genitors might study them in the hope of avoiding such mistakes in future generations.
Just as the lowest levels hide those of the Navis Nobilite that the Navigator Houses wish to keep from prying eyes, so there are areas where only the most highly ranked may pass. As a Navigator grows older and his body is ravaged by the curse of his bloodline and exposure to the Warp, so he slowly withdraws from the company of his kin and shuns contact with the outside world entirely. While his mind and his ability to navigate a Warp vessel remain unaffected, he continues to enjoy the luxury his status affords, albeit in his own private chambers attended by his own staff of servants, guards, and chirurgeons. Should his mind fall victim to the curse, however, then his fate is to descend to the lowest dungeons of his own palace where he takes his place amongst the other vile monstrosities of his House.
Navis Nobilite Characters
Navis Nobilite characters are invariably widely travelled individuals, with access to vast resources of money. This means that many have exotic equipment and wargear, having had contact with alien races from distant star systems. As a result, they may be equipped with almost any equipment they desire, though given their less warlike bent, these would tend to be items of a protective nature rather than weapons. Younger Navigators are likely to be employed on Merchant Fleet vessels, while more experienced Navigators may find positions on more prestigious vessels, in the Imperial Navy or onboard the dreaded Black Ships.
The oldest Navigators, no longer able to expose themselves to the Warp safely, will retire to a position within the family holdings to await their chance to become the Novator.
Millennia of infighting and intrigue amongst themselves have made many of the Navigator houses both paranoid and arrogant in the extreme. Though the whole of the Imperium of Man is reliant on their gifts for survival, their mistrust of their fellow man is legendary and they guard their secrets jealously. As such, they rely heavily on espionage and subterfuge in their regular dealings. It is for this reason that Houses of the Navis Nobilite often train some operatives
they employ to keep a close eye on their employers, ferreting out their weaknesses and their sins as possible leverage for future contracts. These operatives are often the most insidious, as they pose as a trusted comrade or conspirator, all the while worming their way into the trust of
their employer in order to gain access to those things he keeps closest.
Navis Nobilite Rules
The character with the Navis Nobilite background applies the following benefits:
- Starting Skills: Charm or Scrutiny, Common Lore (Navis Nobilite), Forbidden Lore (Navigators) or Forbidden Lore (Warp), Navigation (Stellar) or Navigation (Warp), Psyniscience
- Starting Talents: Air of Authority or Weapon Training (Bolt), Weapon Training (Las, Low-tech)
- Starting Equipment: Laspistol or Handcannon, Metal Staff, Emperor’s Tarot deck, Nobilite Robes or Void-Suit, Micro-bead Background Bonus
- The Constant Vigil: The character may sacrifice all of his Actions for the next Round to switch places with an ally within 2 meters (as long as there is no obstruction in the way). This may be done at any time, even interrupting another action. The character becomes the target of any attacks previously targeting the ally or vice versa. This may not be used more than once per combat.
- Warp Eye: If the character takes the Navigator elite advance during character creation, he may either select one additional power or improve an existing power
- Background Aptitude: Navigator or Social
- Recommended Roles: Assassin, Chirurgeon, Sage, Seeker, Trader