The Black Judges were a technologically advanced space-faring civilisation who utilized machinery from the Dark Age of Technology to live for thousands of years. Twisted and withered creatures, they required regular infusion with fresh human genetic material extracted from living, healthy humans in order to prolong their lives. Their time-ravaged, frail bodies were enclosed in mechanised armour controlled by cybernetic implants, impervious to Bolter fire and each having the firepower of a Dreadnought.
As such they operated a powerful fleet from a hollowed-out moon base known as the Rock of Judgement and plundered nearby worlds. They held sway over a dozen nearby worlds in the Meratara Cluster, from which they took humans captives to feed on, usually in the guise of a Faustian bargain that would ostensibly see sacrificial "tributes" in exchange for protection from xenos threats. These tributes would undergo the painful and ultimately fatal process which fuelled the longevity of the Black Judges.
Within the Rock of Judgement, a hundreds of Black Judges ruled from the towering obsidian citadels known as the Night Courts, served by tens of thousands of black-robed Accusators and gene-bred functionaries.
The Black Judges were a dark legend on the Primarch Perturabo's homeworld of Olympia, said to have slaughtered and enslaved tens of thousands the last time they visited the planet. When Perturabo took command of his Iron Warriors Legion, his first campaign was a lightning strike against the heart of their domain. Though the battle was bloody, in the end the Black Judges were slaughtered, their citadels smashed, and the Rock of Judgement was taken back to Olympia to serve as a shipyard for the Iron Warriors fleet.
The Iron Warriors' victory over the Black Judges was hailed as one of the Legion's most outstanding achievements, their triumphant return celebrated in the Palimodes Fresco. It would become largely forgotten after the Horus Heresy, when most of the records of the Legion's Crusade history were destroyed, but fragmentary holo-recordings of the fresco survive.
The Black Judges maintained a fleet of warp-capable battleships as well as drone-fighter craft. They possessed knowledge of gene-craft sufficient to create gene-bred slaves as well as extract genetic material from healthy humans to prolong their own lives for millennia. Their cybernetic mech-armour mounted razor scourges and ray cannon, considered equal in combat to a Space Marine Dreadnought , and helms that contained defensive resonator technology.
- Neutron Ray - emplacement weapon batteries
- Ray Cannon - wielded by Black Judges
- Razor Scourge - wielded by Black Judges
- Chain Hammer - wielded by Accusators
- 1: The Horus Heresy Book Three - Extermination, pgs. 128-129
- 2: Index Astartes Bitter and Twisted: The Iron Warriors Space Marine Legion
- 3: The Horus Heresy Book Four - Conquest, pg. 225