Among the most important technological advances of the Star League era was the Hyper Pulse Generator, a variant of the technology of the Kearny-Fuchida Drive that allowed interstellar communications and made possible the smooth rule and operation of massive Star League and Inner Sphere. With the prime circuit of the Star League Communications Network (SLCOMNET) located on the worlds of the Terran Hegemony, the HPG network suffered crippling damage during the Amaris Civil War. While the House Lords could agree on little after the conclusion of Amaris-Kerensky War, all knew that it was vital the HPG network be restored, with Nicoletta Calderon nominating Jerome Blake for the position of Minister of Communications of the Star League on October 10, 2780. As the highest-ranking member of the SLCOMNET hierarchy who was not captured or killed during the Amaris coup, Blake’s heroic efforts to maintain communications during the crisis earned him a reputation for integrity.
Blake recognised two great responsibilities in the wake of the collapse of the Star League: preserving as much of the currently available technological knowledge as possible, and preventing the Successor States from seizing the interstellar communications network and misusing it for their own destructive purposes. To this end he set about transforming the Department of Communications into a neutral trans-national corporation dedicated to the operation and preservation of the HPG network, renaming it ComStar.
In 2788, Blake took control of Terra and declared it a neutral world. He offered secure interstellar communication to all Successor States that would pledge to respect the neutrality of the HyperPulse generator stations and personnel. The Inner Sphere leaders recognized that open communications were crucial to their survival and agreed to Blake's demands marking the beginning of the order of ComStar. Blake created the First Circuit to administer ComStar's affairs and fostered a "secret brotherhood" mentality among ComStar's members in order to keep the secrets of the Star League safe.
After Blake's death in 2819, Conrad Toyama of Dieron took control of ComStar. He replaced its corporate structure with a rigid, religious hierarchy, and shrouded its activities in mystic rituals. Toyama declared himself Primus, the highest authority in ComStar, bequeathing that august title and its responsibilities to every leader of ComStar who followed him. Initially, Primus Toyama's doctrine of religious mystery served Blake's original intent by fostering the belief that the sacred magic of HPG transmissions could only be wielded by ComStar adepts, ensuring that no Successor State would attempt to take control of the Star League's technological legacy. One faction of ComStar gradually forgot the true meaning of Blake's intent, however, convinced that its mission lay in conquering humanity rather than protecting it. This faction reached the zenith of their power under Primus Myndo Waterly, who nearly succeeded in handing the Inner Sphere to the Clans. Only Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht's intervention prevented Myndo Waterly from propagating the collapse of the Inner Sphere. Focht ended Waterly's misguided rule by forcing her retirement from the primacy. Waterly's successor, Sharilar Mori, had launched a much-needed reform of the Order of Comstar. Under the leadership of Primus Mori and the Precentor Martial, ComStar returned to fulfilling its original purpose as guardians of Star League-era technology, and to a slightly lesser extent, the Inner Sphere itself.
While the members of ComStar continue the original mission given to them by Jerome Blake, the splinter group known as the "Word of Blake," under the leadership of the so-called "Primus-in-Exile," Thomas Marik, use a more radical interpretation of the teachings of Jerome Blake as a justification for a jihad against the houses of the Inner Sphere, with the intent of conquering Terra. Since their separation from the main body, they remained an enemy of ComStar until their defeat and reabsorption in 3081.
When the Clan Invasion occurred in 3049-3051, one of the leaders of ComStar, Anastasius Focht, proposed a deal to the ilKhan of the opposing Clan forces, Ulric Kerensky, in which the invading Clans would fight the forces of ComStar on the remote Rasalhaguese planet of Tukayyid. To fight the Clans, Focht revealed the existence of the ComGuard, the elite, near mythical military branch of ComStar that had been hidden since the fall of the Star League.
The ComGuard forces clashed with the invading Clans on Tukayyid, and used their tactics and knowledge of clan weaknesses to attain an almost absolute victory against all but one of the opposing clans. Humiliated, ilKhan Kerensky was forced to accept a 15 year truce with the Inner Sphere. Following the revealing of the ComGuard, ComStar became an even more predominant force in the Inner Sphere. The ComGuard were deployed all across the Inner Sphere to act as guards of HPGs on war-torn planets, and also were called on to act as Second Star League peacekeepers following the Whitting Conference of 3058. In this guise, ComGuard forces went with Prince Victor Ian Steiner-Davion to the Clan homeworld of Strana Mechty, where they participated in the Great Refusal, during which they were defeated by Clan Jade Falcon.
Following the Battle of Tukayyid, Focht returned to Terra to confront radical Primus Myndo Waterly, who had hoped a Clan takeover of the Inner Sphere would lead to control by ComStar. Focht killed Waterly and tried but failed to cover it up. However, Precentor Demona Aziz of Atreus knew the truth and left Terra with a group of followers. With the permission of Thomas Marik, the new Word of Blake would occupy land on the world of Gibson.
ComStar would be dealt a major blow when the Word of Blake captured Terra in Operation Odysseus. Anastasius Focht chose not to recapture the planet, believing that the Clans were a greater threat. Soon all of ComStar would be moved to Tukayyid. ComStar attempted an invasion of the newly-formed Word of Blake Protectorate in 3068, but failed. After the bloody Word of Blake Jihad, Devlin Stone would successfully recapture Terra and form the Republic of the Sphere. ComStar has yet to regain control of Terra.
Having inherited the vestiges of the Star League Communications Network, ComStar maintains HPG stations on 98% of all inhabited worlds in the Inner Sphere with a small number of links out to the Periphery. While control of a large number of HPG stations fell into the hands of the Successor States after Operation Scorpion, the near total monopoly the organization held on HPG maintenance, operation and parts manufacture slowly resulted in their transfer back to ComStar. While HPG stations in the Star League era were directly integrated into the communities they serviced, their vulnerability to attack during the Amaris Coup resulted in ComStar developing separate heavily protected compounds. These massive ferro-concrete structures were virtual mini-Castles Brian designed as much to defend ComStar personnel from outside attack as to separate them from the influences of the general populace.
After ComStar seized Terra as part of Operation Silver Shield, the organization obtained much of the surviving military, scientific and manufacturing facilities of the disbanded Star League's capital world, carefully rebuilding and mothballing the bulk in case of future need. Content to preserve them for centuries, the secular ComStar set about reactivating them after the Battle of Tukayyid only to fall to the hands of the Word of Blake after their Operation Odysseus took place in 3058.
ComStar primary headquarters up to 3058 was located on Hilton's Head island in North America. The site of upgraded replacement for the overstrained Terran HPG completed after the Amaris Coup, Hilton Head was the natural choice for the organization's political and operational headquarters, serving as the home and meeting place for the First Circuit and Primus. For centuries it was also the secret storage facility for a large portion of its mothballed stockpile of Star League era equipment.
The other notable Terran facility was the Sandhurst Royal Military College, the premier military academy during the Star League era initially served as the home and training center for the Order's intelligence agency ROM. After the creation of the Com Guards Primus Hollings York ordered its conversion back to a full military academy, also serving as the Com Guard central headquarters after the general public were made known of its existence in 3040s.
After the loss of Terra, the secular ComStar transferred its headquarters to the Free Rasalhague Republic world of Tukayyid, effectively under ComStar control since the Battle of Tukayyid, constructing replacement facilities such as the Focht War College. These facilities were ravaged in 3068 at the beginning of the Jihad. Clan Ghost Bear arrived and in July 3070 and freed the planet from constant attack by Blakist Warships and raids. However, by September, ComStar was asked by both Clan Ghost Bear and the Rasalhague people to leave and re-settled on Arc-Royal.
After the conclusion of the Jihad, the terrible damage wrought on the existing Terran facilities and the transfer of the planet to the control of the Republic of the Sphere, a new Class A station hub was constructed in Sydney, Australia, again the natural choice to serve as the headquarters of the organization in the Republic era.
Formalized as part of Doctrinal Edict of 2861, for most of its existence ComStar used a three tier structure of Precentors, Adepts and Acolytes led by the Primus since the days of Blake. During the secularization of the Order, Primus Mori official sanctioning the previously unofficial position of Demi-Precentor, while the Word of Blake retained the original three tiers.
ComStar's chief rank is its Primus, who serves as the political and spiritual leader of the Order. The position of Primus was set up during the immediate post-Star League era by Jerome Blake, who intended for the Primus to serve as a protector of humanity in the fractured era that he predicted would come following the breakup of the Star League.
The Primus selected by his or her predecessor and confirmed by the First Circuit which serves as the ruling council of the Order. The First Circuit handles and approves all financial policy, a break against the Primus's control over ROM and the Com Guards, though the body can veto use of those branches by majority vote. Members of the First Circuit are appointed by the Primus. The First Circuit originally mirrored the HPG network's First Circuit and was composed of the Precentors who commanded the HPG stations on New Earth, Barnard, Alpha C, Bryant, Procyon, and Dieron, later increased to ten in 2857 with the addition of Arcturus, Oriente, Altair, and Capella with the expansion of the HPG network. However in 2988, believing that the existing First Circuit members had become more politicians than technocrats, then Primus Yin Takami reduced their number to one representive for each of the Great Houses, Precentor Tharkad for the Lyran Commonwealth, Precentor Sian for the Capellan Confederation, Precentor Atreus for the Free Worlds League, and Precentor New Avalon for the Federated Suns. Precentor Dieron was made the advocate of the Draconis Combine.
The highest ranking Precentors outside of the First Circuit are those in command of the Com Guards and ROM, the Precentor Martial and Precentor ROM respectively, both positions hand picked by the Primus. Below the ruling triumvirate, the majority of Precentors serve as middle managers or division heads. The largest volume of Precentors serve as the commander of a single HPG station and the crew that mans it, and normally the highest ranking ComStar official most people will encounter.
Prior to the Schism and Reformation of the Order, the rank Demi-Precentor was an unofficial term for senior Adept with more than 10 years of service, or a junior Precentor with less than 5. But as part of the changes instituted by Primus Mori, the rank became formally recognized to allow a more gradual and noted progression through the Order. Five or more Demi-Precentors report to each Precentor to receive rotating assignments.
Below the Precentor ranks is that of the Adept or working technicians, though the creation of the Demi-Precentor rank has reduced the large portion of high-ranking Adept. Adepts perform the majority of actual ongoing work in the Order. In earlier times, unlike HPG station Precentors who are transferred only by promotion or demotion, HPG ComTech Adepts served only one year in an given HPG station before being automatically transferred to increase the difficulty of familiarity and subversion.
The lowest rank is that of Acolyte, effectively equivalent to laborer, which form the bulk of the Order and is the held by all members with less than two years of service. During earlier times, Acolytes underwent a 10 week apprenticeship on the "outer mysteries" of the Order, where upon those who showed promise and willingness to dedicate themselves to lifelong service were initiated into the Order or had been weeded out by ROM as possible infiltrators and "rejected".
Each rank supports numerous sub-rankings and functions. Sub-rankings, or grades, are designated by Roman numerals, with I representing the first-year members of each rank. Each year of an Acolyte's tenure within ComStar raises his or her sub-ranking by one; therefore, an Adept III represents an Adept who has spent three years at that rank within the Order. Promotion to the next rank is granted upon recommendation of a superior, or else occurs automatically upon achieving 25 years, Grade XXV, in a given rank, where their seniority indicator is reset to I.
The rank and grade classifications are further broken down by Greek letters used to specify each individual's function. For example, Adept XI-Alpha designates an Adept HPG ComTech with eleven years of service while Precentor VIII-Tau designates a Precentor in involved in ComStar's Archives Branch who has served at that level for eight years. Function designations in the civilian branch of the Order are:
ComStar is composed of several branches, all reporting to the Primus and First Circuit. Current branches include: