Drugs in Imperial society

-Harsh and bleak life of a Imperial citizen requires potent STC and other medicines for a survival, taxing STC and other boosters to rise up to an expectations of Imperium and a thorough traditional intoxication to stupefy stagnant daily misery and haunting nightmares. For some that is not enough and they fall to temptations of depraving narcotics, heretek elixirs, xenos concoctions and ruinous substances.

General definitions of medicine, stims and narcotics

Medicines heal, restore and provide resistances. Majority produced either through STC synthesizing techniques or refined from exotic biospheres and variety of chemical resources deposited across the worlds of Imperium. 

Stims increase abilities and enhance talents beyond natural capacity. Majority produced either through STC synthesizing techniques or refined from biospheres and chemical resources deposited across the worlds of Imperium. 

Narcotics can make Imperial citizens comfortably numb and cultists batshit crazy or vice versa. Though Frenzon and some other STC stims can easily be abused, no known narcotic can be traced to the dark age of technology.  

-As usual, in a grim future, definitions between medicine, stims and narcotics are not as clear as Ordo Arbites would like them to be. All drugs can be used or misused and some of them cannot be contained to just one category. Interpretation of Imperial Law in a drug enforcement is mostly left to local governance. Only exception are the drugs forbidden on a whole Imperium by mandate of Ordo Inquisition.

-Enforcers who know their beat are aware that combat veterans or gang muscle addicted to Frenzon (DH p. 148) , Scraper-Ripper (BOJ p. 71) and Ploin juice (ITS p. 134) pose larger threat to stability of Imperial society and their personal health than middle level hive-geeks catching the Glimmer (HAC p. 67) in their mirror clubs. 

-Categorization of drugs differ from system to system and sector to sector. Careless Rogue Trader may become accused of the heresy on his way to deliver shipment of medical emergency supplies.


Obscura across Imperium

It produces a pleasant dream-like state which lasts a few hours, but then turns into a deep depression once it wears off unless another dose is taken. It is highly addictive and has been known to be smoked and injected directly into the bloodstream.
It is found amongst all classes of civilians and military personal in the Imperium and many smugglers make a good living by importing and selling the illegal substance. It is found amongst the middle- and upper-class citizens of the Imperium, and is used frequently by the followers of Slaanesh in ritualistic activities. Obscura-den’s are fairly common in heavily populated areas within Hives, and are notorious for being a frequented area by the less-desirables found in every hive.

Not Forbidden on whole Imperium but categorization varies.

Medicinal: Jungle world infested with local brain burrowing parasite keeps victim awake and screaming insane last 2-3 years before dying. Medicae estimate that 90% of population over 25 is infested. Use of obscura enables sleep despite constant pain and keeps late-stage colonists in condition to work until death and not as a burdens to the society. Local mayor uses Imperial funds to purchase Obscura from the cold trade smugglers.

“Emperor bless you, honored medic for your tonic to my daddy.”

Forbidden: In some worlds of high creed use of obscura is often associated with abandoning the service of Emperor and users, caught by fervent mobs,  are publicly executed as deserters. Caught dealers are treated as heretics by frothing priests and burned at the stake after the extraction of  confessions.

“Think about all the Emperors children your poisons have defiled. Think and repent! ”

Uncontrolled: On a sub-sector infested with a strong cold trade the imperial Sector Governor has allocated tithe funds to pursuing smuggler’s activity and not burning obscura dens. Arbitrators concentrate on containing problem to gang hives and use obscura dens to collect covert intelligence about more pressing criminal activities.

“Have you ever seen obscura fiend to start a revolution. Neither will you:”

Approved: In an important mining world, harrowed by constant disturbing sub-sonic booms, use of Obscura is the only way to get sleep. Miners guild provides disposable pipes along daily rations. High suicide rate among workers is compensated with constant flow of cheap recruits as many desperate Obscura addicts, planning to combine work and fun, are getting the same great idea.

“Who has forgotten his pipe to communal barracks?”

Controlled: Some forge worlds have noticed that population breathing small dosage of obscura during sleep cycle statistically need 20% less sleep, 10% less energy and 15% less air. Even if death rate among population is up for 250% it still saves resources on significant margin. Magos Biologus laces sleep cycle air with obscura smoke at life sustainer of forge.


Five categories of Imperial drugs 


-Are publicly available on Imperium to anyone who has enough scripts or thrones for a purchase.

-On GMs approval user of medicines may develop similar tolerance to medicine as to drug but addictions are rarer (+40 to WP check) and overcoming it is easier (+0 WP and T checks).

-Some Imperial medicines are faith based. For those it is not possible to develop tolerance or addiction. (Unless you are an evil GM)

-Old folk herbal remedies and revitalizing exercise courses may be pathways to occult activity and heretical sects. Apply with consent of Imperial creed.

Approved drugs:

-Are publicly available on Imperium to anyone who has enough scripts or thrones for a purchase.

-From brain stims to combat boosters Imperial society daily charges on with haze of multiple drug cocktail as fuel.

Amasec, Lho-sticks and many local distillations are appreciated for their medicinal benefits for alleviating Veteran Syndrome and protecting from feeling of cold and exposure to miasma.

Controlled drugs:

-Controlled drugs or dosing devices (Frenzon dispenser, Spine injector) designed for them are not available for citizens but reserved for specialists of different Ordos (examples: Penal legion, Eversor assassin and Arco-flagellant). Acquiring those drugs or devices may require Peer of particular group.

-Locally controlled drugs are always sold or distributed with approval of particular peer. If peer not benevolent then purchasing from cold trade or Rogue Trader Captains are remaining options as Merchant Trader Captains and Merchant guild cannot officially trade with controlled drugs in Imperial trade.

-If controlled drugs or dosing devices becomes widely available Peer controlling them takes action to regain control of the drug or device.

Meme-viruses, used my Adeptus Mechanicus and some Ordos in need of strict mental conditioning, are not drugs in traditional sense but exposure to them may cause state similar to drug addiction.  Fatigue caused by obsessive-compulsive behavior, rampant paranoia and neurotic tics is common if conditioning cannot be carried out. (Tears of dragon, IHB p. 148, Uber Aemos)

Uncontrolled drugs:

-Are so new, insignificant, local, rare or obscure, that they are not yet noticed or classified as Approved, Controlled or Forbidden by Imperial authorities.

-Locally uncontrolled drugs are always sold through cold trade and Rogue Trader Captains as Merchant Trader Captains and Merchant guild cannot officially trade with drugs not approved for Imperial trade.

-System governor, arbitrator judge or cardinal of ecclesiarchy may change categorization (approve, control or forbid) of uncontrolled drug within a system. In case of disagreement on categorization of a drug between local Imperial authorities ruling decision must be petitioned from higher authority, either from sector’s Council of High Judges or from the sector governor.

-Sector governor, Lord Marshall or Inquisition may approve, control or forbid a uncontrolled drug within a sector.

-Ordo Inquisition may approve or forbid a uncontrolled drug Imperium wide.

-Some morally flexible rogue trader captains, after finding a new narcotic, travel from system to system dumping their cargo before local enforcers have time to petition the system governor to ban the narcotic locally. As soon as system is able to forbid the drug, rogue trader captains travel to next system and start again. Their grand-children will retire with great armada of vessels before sector governor or lords of Terra have been able to produce official large scale ban of the substance. Usually dangers of star voyage, envious competitors and limited supplies pose greater obstacles than Imperial custom patrols or Imperial legislation.

Forbidden drugs:

List of some Imperium wide forbidden drugs:
Spook (DH p. 149) Randomly induces psychic ability, possibly causing Insanity.
Geist (HAC p. 66) Increases the user’s psychic ability.
Soul Echo (TSR p.117) Causes corruption.
D-dust (BC p. 182) User gains ruinous trait.
Satrophine (TOE p. 41) Causes corruption.
Flect Causes corruption

-Any drug, that causes more psychic phenomena, corruption, insanity, addictions and deaths than it’s effect benefits Imperium, will become banned.

-Any drug which use is counter-effective to production efficiency marginal of cogs in the Imperial machine will become banned.

-Any drug that is able to unravel Imperial hypno-doctrinal conditioning.

-If drug is considered to be major moral threat to Imperium, causes rampant mutations or virulent cult uprisings, Inquisition may be able to investigate and ban it in some decades, in a century tops.

-Consuming and trading of forbidden category drugs is always considered as act of heresy by local authorities and by Inquisition. How slight or great depends on piety and faction of the interrogator.

-As authority of inquisitor is above Imperial law and she answers directly to only Emperor himself she, in her early stages of radicalization, usually makes some of forbidden drugs available for herself and/or her retinue.


Tolerance and addiction

-When the same drug is used too often in a short period of time, there is a chance for it to have a diminished effect as the user builds up an immunity or tolerance. A character
who uses more than one dose of a given drug in a 24 hour period must make an Ordinary (+10) Toughness test for each use after the first, with a cumulative –10 penalty for each additional dose. If he fails, the drug has no useful effect and further doses do nothing for the next 24 hours.

-Excessive drug use can also lead to Addiction. Every time the effects of a drug indicated as Addictive wears off, the user must take a Routine (+20) Willpower test with a –5
modifier for every dose taken in the last week. Failure means the user is Addicted and will suffer one level of Fatigue unless he gets another dose within 12 hours (should this
dose trigger the Excessive Drug Use test above, he must pass the test to overcome the Fatigue loss). Once per day, the character (should he so choose) can overcome the
Addiction by passing Very Hard (–30) tests for both Willpower and Toughness.

-Some drugs and items, especially from ruinous sources, may cause addiction automatically and getting rid of addiction may be harder (may be allowed by spending EXP, etc) than for drugs more commonly available in the Imperium.

-Characters aligned with ruinous powers often develop strange and permanent addictions.


Basic game rules do not allow character to purchase talents if required characteristic is not high enough.

Allowing players to purchase forementioned talents (if level and talent pre-requisites allow it) encourages players to boost their characters with drugs. That leads to slippery path haunted by debauchery, insanity, corruption and death, if orchestrated by ruthless GM.


When we speak about drugs in the Imperium we should speak about greatest of them all: hypno-doctrination.