Attention Loremasters and Loremaster-Initiates… please do not attempt to venture into the Empyrean without the aid of a Navigator. It is the acme of foolishness and will get you killed.
Greetings Loremasters, today’s lecture on the correlation between Augmetics and Rank in the Astra Militarum has been postponed–we’re pleased to have a guest-lecturer from the Navis Nobilite, here to discuss why Navigators are an important part of any Imperial space-faring vessel. This is a happy coincidence, and coincidence only, because any whispers that some of the Loremaster-initiates were planning to hop aboard a ship, point her at the warp to “see what happens” must be wild rumors, spoken by those with too much time on their hands. While we work out who will be assigned to servitor care and maintenance duty, let’s turn our attention to our Guest, who hails from House Modar.
Navigators are a species of human, classified by the small-minded as a subspecies afflicted with mutation. The truth is that the Navigators are those humans blessed enough to possess the Navigator Gene, which gives them the unique ability to navigate through Warp space. This ability makes them absolutely necessary to the Imperium‘s continued survival. All Navigators have a third eye, commonly called the Warp Eye, on their foreheads, which allows them to perceive the psychic light of the Astronomican, enabling them to fully use their powers in guiding ships through the currents of the Warp. Their ability to sense the tides of the Warp is considered psychic, although Navigators never possess any psychic abilities beyond the powers their Warp eye affords them.
Navigators gain a variety of powers from their Third Eye, but by far the most vital one is the ability to steer spacecraft through the Warp. The Warp Eye allows the Navigators to see the currents of the Warp, and using the psychic beacon of the Astronomican as a guide, they are able to direct the ship through the dangerous environment, allowing Imperial ships to make far longer and accurate jumps than otherwise possible. They are the only ones, man or machine, with the ability to do this. Because of this unique talent they collectively hold a vital and powerful position within the Imperium.
Of course, the unique ability of the Navigators has its limits also. Outside the range of the guiding light of the Astronomican the Navigators are far more limited in their ability to guide a ship through the Warp. During the Macharian Crusade the grand conquest almost ground to a halt as the sight of the Navigators failed, when they could sense only darkness around them. Furthermore, there are places the Navigators avoid at almost every cost. Navigators will shun the Eye of Terror for thousands of light years around it rather than risk a minor deviation in course which might take them into its boundaries. Most Navigators have personal experience of close encounters with Chaos near the Eye of Terror, and many more can recall the names of others who traveled too close to the Eye in a foolish attempt to cut days from their journey time only to vanish forever.
Rumors that Navigators are prone to mutation, including webbed feet, hands, or twisted bodies that cannot survive outside of specially designed holding tanks are simply that. A Navigator is, like most of you, human. Just better owing to the fact that their Warp Eye allows them to see into the tides of the Empyrean, making them a necessary addition to any ship that wishes to traverse the Warp in one piece.
Navigators have been an extension of Humanity for so long their exact origins have been forgotten. What is known is that their origins go back to the Dark Age of Technology in roughly M22, to a time of genetic experimentation when many kinds of mutants were engineered to fulfill roles envisaged by their creators. The Navigator Gene, in particular, is passed down through bloodlines, and can only be reproduced when Navigators intermarry. Should they mix with normal humans, the gene is suppressed entirely. Thus many Navigators have established Houses that have their own influence in galactic affairs.
So there you have it, Loremasters–Navigators are the lifeblood of the Imperium. Travel without one isn’t just foolish, it’s illegal.