Warhammer 40K: The League of Blackships
Learn of the dread fleets of the League of Blackships – who bring meat to the Emperor’s table.
League of Blackships Basics
The League of Blackships forms the recruiting division, consisting of a substantial fleet charged with collecting and transporting psykers. Independent of the Imperial Navy, they are the second-largest fleet in the galaxy. There are many thousands of Black Ships. However, only the highest-ranking adepts in the Adeptus Astra Telepathica know the true scale of the fleet and the vast scope of its operations. The Black Fleet itself is based from the Magadan orbital construct in the Sol System. They are not to be confused with the Black Ships of the Inquisition.
The Fleets report directly to the Master of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica. The Blackships are feared transports filled with mournful psykers. This doomed cargo is held in cavernous, psi-shielded holds to be taken back to Terra to feed the voracious psychic appetite of the Emperor. Black Ships are technologically advanced vessels. They are covered in anti-psychic wardings and constructed from a psychically resistant ebony metal. The Blackships themselves are overseen by a member of the Sisters of Silence, known as the Mistress of the Black Fleet.
The Blackship fleet travels constantly throughout the Imperium. Each Imperial world is visited every hundred years or so by a Blackship. When a Blackship nears a planet, its governor is instructed to prepare the customary levy – a tithe of psykers. Once the levy has been collected, the Blackship Captains make an initial evaluation of their cargo before proceeding to the next world in their circuit. When the ships are full they return to Terra. Upon arrival, the psykers are transferred to the Scholastia Psykana before the ship leaves again to continue in their eternal search. It is common for Inquisitors to travel on board these ships. This gives them a good opportunity to investigate a planet’s potential for psychically-based corruption.
Recently due to the Great Rift‘s creation, the supply chain of the League of Blackships has been severely interrupted. Imperium worlds have been cut off from having their Imperial Tithes taken by the Black Ships. Planetary Governors are now forced to implement their own restraints upon their populations of untrained psykers.
League of Blackships Crew
Due to their complicated mission, Black Ships maintain a crew several times higher than similar-sized vessels of the Imperial Navy. Only those with the strength of mind to withstand the constant soul-numbing despair that permeates the Blackship may crew it, so mentally traumatic is such duty. The most vital crew of the Black Ships are the Sisters of Silence, which are well-suited to combat any psychic threat they encounter.
However the majority of the crew are standard humans. Captains and other senior officers of the Black Ships are senior adepts of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica. As for the rest of the ships’ crews, they are indentured workers drafted from a number of Imperial worlds situated relatively close to Terra. The Astra Telepathica have ancient contracts with these worlds, ensuring a steady flow of suitable recruits in return for exemption from Imperial Tithes. The mortal crews of Black Ships are well-trained and equipped with highly secretive exotic anti-psyker weaponry.
All crews that serve aboard the Blackship fleet are rigorously tested and scrutinised for any latent psychic abilities or sensitivities. They are regularly mind-scrubbed to purge any taint or infection. The Navigator Houses of Granicus, MacPherson Ptolemy work exclusively for the Astra Telepathica and are the only Navigators allowed to work aboard the Black Ships. Generally, few other Imperial agents, besides Inquisitors, are permitted aboard these dread vessels. Occasionally Space Marines, Sisters of Battle or higher-ranking members of the Adeptus Terra may be accommodated at the discretion of the Black Ship’s Captain.