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"How many Guardsmen does it take to unload a gun? Lets find out shall we? *BLAM!*"

– A Commissar during Tuesday.

"You're going back to the front lines and you may get shot and killed, but you're going to fight. If you don't, I'll stand you up against a wall and have a firing squad kill you on purpose. In fact, I ought to shoot you myself, you goddamned whimpering coward."

– George S. Patton to a shell-shocked soldier in the hospital

"Last one to die's an Eldar!"

– A Commissar

In the times long before these dark hours of the forty-first millennium, commanders of various Terran military entities and their successors in the colonial states of galactic expansionism remained in relative safety throughout the duration of various conflicts instead of charging the lines of their enemies with vitriol and froth issuing from their mouths in equal rabid measure. The instruments of the will of higher officers on the battlefield were men of inflexible will and intolerable zealotry, men greatly respected and feared by their underlings who inspired entire battalions with selfless example and were willing to sacrifice themselves for the success of their company and their empire. Regardless, these times have long passed.

In this current moment of the history of man, war has become a very different thing. Lasguns firing, explosives detonating, great beasts of unimaginable terror charging the trenches without fear, death of all sorts stalking behind every wisp of smoke... and that's just at the front. Behind every line of trembling conscripts is a man, sanctimonious, who fires not upon the hordes of the enemy, but his own troops.

That man is the Commissar.

They get a cool hat, a Nazi-esque longcoat, a sword or power fist they seem all too happy to hit the enemy with and their iconic bolt pistol which they use to "boost" the morale of their men, although they sometimes trade it for las or plasma pistols (but seeing your buddy's head explode or melt down does indeed motivate you better than just seeing a laser beam go through it).

A Commissar that lacks any guardsmen to execute and is in the proximity of any vehicle proceeds to clamber on the said vehicle and threaten the crew into charging the enemy so he can hit the enemy with his close combat weapon. Hilarity ensues depending on the kind of closest vehicle, close combat weapon and closest enemy.

Commissars also have a tendency to get killed suspiciously far from the front lines. Such a tragedy; our platoon's dear Commissar tripped on his own grenade, while in the latrines. Oh well, such is life fighting in the Emperor's name. Hopefully his replacement will learn well from such an unfortunate accident.

They also have mad shooting skills, some can even execute ENTIRE SQUADS OF COWARDS in the time it takes to drop their hats. If only they could shoot the enemies that fast, what with their phenomenal accuracy when shooting their own men and all.

They are preceded with Discipline Masters in Great Crusade era.

On a more serious note[edit]

TLDR: Although there are a multitude of jokes and pages on /tg/ basically calling these guys nothing more than blunt instruments of discipline. The role of a Commissar is more nuanced. The Commissar leads by example and will never give an order he wouldn't do himself. In a universe of untold horror, these men lead thousands of often poorly trained and equipped men and women to war. These chosen few are genuinely inspirational and will ensure that the Emperor's currency (human life), is spent effectively. But should you dare falter from battle, they will not hesitate to make you an example of what happens to cowards.

Beyond their reputation as team-killing fucktards, the presence of Commissars make a lot of sense in the Imperial Guard. Copy-pasted straight from Civil War Soviet real world Commissars (save for the uniform) with a dash of Great War-era "charge the enemy or I'll execute you" British Army officer thrown in, they're political officers with everything that entails.

First of all, they are the warrants of doctrine. They will deal with any disciplinary issue coming up whenever a Guardsman misbehaves. The punishment for cowardice and desertion is death and the Commissar will apply the sentence on the spot, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. As a Guard regiment travels around the Imperium, they will come in contact with other cultures and ideas. Ideas that could potentially be dangerous and morale-ruining (looking at you Tau propaganda, but not only). Just like their real-world counterparts made sure random Ivan remained true to the ideals of communism, the Imperial Commissar will ensure such heretical ideas are suppressed and the regiment remains loyal to the Imperium and fit for duty. Where to the simple Guardsman this translates into being constantly watched by a terrifying enforcer of discipline that does not hesitate to shoot a deserter on the spot, to the higher echelons of the Guard they're a (frankly necessary) constant reminder they're supposed to do their job as defined by the old coots back home and not go rogue to seize a planet for their own or carve out their own little kingdom. Yeah, it takes a lot to become a Commissar, tactical and strategic training included: after all, they have to judge the competence of everyone, up to and including Lords Solar.

A second part of their job is to ensure cooperation between elements of the Guard. You see, the Imperium is vast. Extremely vast. And only very loosely unified as a whole. Hence what is considered quite normal on one world would have denizens from another throw a massive bitchfit, if not worse. Imagine the result of stuck-up Mordian Iron Guards in the same room as rowdy Catachan Jungle Fighters unsupervised, you'll get the idea. Commissars make sure discipline is maintained and rules are adhered to (by force of arms if necessary), no matter the origin of the warriors under their care.

The third part is military counseling. Officially, a Commissar is outside the chain of command and can only advise on military matters, the ultimate decision remaining in the hands of the commanding officer. But, as mentioned, they also have the authority to execute any soldier if they conclude they're severely derelict in the prosecution of their duties (this includes high ranking officers, as Ibram Gaunt, Commissar Holt and Viktor Hark have demonstrated). Should it come to pass that the leader of a squad or regiment has fallen (one way or another, either due to the enemy or *BLAM*), the Commissar will assume command himself. Most Guardsmen dread when this happens for this all too often results in a pointless *BLAM!* Glorious last stand for anyone involved, and anyone attempting to retreat is given a bolter round to the back of the head for cowardice. In their minds however, Commissars have no choice: they simply cannot flee or order a retreat as they're well aware this would be the surest way for morale to collapse immediately, especially if they just executed the commanding officer. In many cases the situation has already gone so FUBAR when a Commissar assumes command he decides standing his ground and taking as many enemies of the Emperor with him is the only meaningful choice left to him and the men close to him; for they are already dead. The inverse is also true, if a commander refuses to retreat when it would serve the Emperor to do so, the Commissar can and will take command as well. This said, it is not always a bad thing when it happens, the most famous example is Commissar Yarrick assuming command of the defense of Armageddon; whose undaunted contest of Hades hive made Ghazghkull Thraka lose sight of the larger battle because he couldn't see it as anything but a personal challenge and answered in kind, leaving the flanks of his hordes wide open for the Imperial counter-attack. Another thing to remember is that while a Commissar can temporarily receive or assume command, they will relinquish it back to a proper officer at the end of the mission/first occasion they get. They are (mostly) watchdogs meant to keep an eye on the proceedings, not leaders themselves.

The fourth part is being an exemplar for all Guardsmen to follow. They can't be accused of being hypocrites, and so will most of the time stay close to the action and lead by example. One of the core tenets of the Imperial Creed is Mankind's right to be the sole owners of the Galaxy, and the Commissar is always ready to personally prove it to any particular breed of Space Elf, Ork, Necron, space bug or whoever was stupid enough to question Mankind's right to rule the stars with their existence that day, up to and including gods. They're helped by often being the most well-equipped and hardest motherfuckers in the squad.

The fifth and often forgotten part that is only lightly touched in BL books is interaction with civilians of the Imperium. To your regular Imperial citizen, a Commissar is both a terrifying and inspiring figure instantly recognized by their longcoat and peaked cap that are widely used in propaganda. Who do you think a governor is more likely to listen to: some Mongolian guy who doesn't even know how fire a Lasgun even if he's thrice the colonel, or the same guy backed by a living instrument of the Emperor's Will straight out of a recruitment poster? Moreover, if some harm comes to a civilian through an unlawful action of a Guardsmen, the possibility of the Commissar looking the other way due to a misplaced sense of comradery is basically nonexistent, as opposed to, say, an Savlar, Catachan or Scintillan officer. That, of course, doesn't mean the Commissar won't put a bullet through the head of a civilian should the need arises.

Last but not least, the Commissars are also trained to look out for xenos or chaotic taint. Not all enemies of the Imperium conveniently charge at the Guard straight on but use much more insidious methods. So the Commissars are taught a little bit (just what is needed) about Chaos, Genestealers, Enslavers and all those kind of joyful things that could fuck over their regiment and how to look out for it, with the strict instruction to *BLAM* anything they find out on sight. Any psyker in their regiment will be under their constant scrutiny because where Average Joe just has a vague knowledge he should 'abhor the witch', the Commissar know what would happen if he would get possessed. Better safe than sorry.

With the above in mind, you easily understand why Commissars are generally at best tolerated and often hated with a passion by the men under their care. They are hard and pitiless men, but that is a sad necessity in the just as hard and pitiless 40k universe where the alternative is even worse. It should also be noted, that not all Commissars are trigger-happy fucknuts. The intelligent ones that live long lives learn that the right words can often inspire men just as well, if not better, than a bolt to the head. These Commissars learn to tell the difference in situations. After all, the Commissars first job is to inspire the troops, through whichever means are most appropriate. Of course, the trigger-happy fucknuts do tend to spoil the bunch for the good ones. Also, did you know there's an entire Regiment of Commissars? Yeah, pretty sca-*BLAM!* AWESOME

Choices of equipment[edit]

  • Badass longcoat, badass sash and even more badass peaked cap that takes design cues from both the Germans and Russians.
  • Mars-Pattern ceramite balls
  • Flak Armour- Standard guardsman issue Commissar armoured underwear.
  • Carapace Armor & Refractor field- A better armour and a force field for genre-savvy Lord Commissar.
  • Camo-cloak. Serves to hide said badass garments and get less fire from the enemy and guardsmen.
  • Special Mask for a Lord that weeps tears of blood near traitors! Oh and scares people. Also gives a force field.
  • (Other) Special Mask for Commissars lucky enough to get the Death Korps of Krieg (easiest gig in the guard cuz Kriegers commissar themselves) -Alternatively may result in getting *BLAM!*ed by a Krieger for cowardice.
  • Saber- Often carried to swing towards enemies while riding a Leman Russ tank so that he could drive closer and hit enemies with his sword.
  • Laspistol- Clean, precise, and efficient working tool of the Commissar that doesn't waste ammunition. Less satisfying to execute people with though. The Imperial Infantryman’s Uplifting Primer recommend it however as the laser beam will cauterize the wound it makes, keeping your uniform spring clean despite your executions. This is noted to be the favored pistol of choice for the vast majority of commissar's featured in the Dawn of War series.
  • Bolt Pistol- Produces very satisfying *BLAM!*ming sound that raises self-esteem of the worthless ponce hold-*BLAM!*, can also get through standard issue Imperial flak armor if you need to blam someone in the chest on the battle field.
  • Imperial Boltgun- Good for shooting underarmoured enemies and your entire squad if you suspect them all of HERESY.
  • Plasma pistol- Good for shooting armoured enemies dead, and executing cowardly tanks. Bad for summary executions since it's poor form for it to over heat when trying to "inspire" your squad. Notably a better choice in fluff than on the table top since as an officer a Commissar could better take care of such an ornery and delicate piece of equipment thus preventing overheats, excepting cases of over use. So it's not a tool to blam a squad with, but if you need to do just one it rivals a bolt pistol for impact.
  • Baleful Eye- Lasgun built in the eye socket to kill Orks with a glare.
  • Grenades & bombs.
  • Titanium balls.
  • Two pairs of balls, (see above)

Reasonable Commissars[edit]

Reasonable Commissars do not execute those who flee. However, they do carry a potent stun-gun to bring down those who break ranks and save the bolter shells for those who have willingly became servants of Chaos or Xenos. Afterwards, the accused is brought before a military tribunal to judge what the appropriate punishment will be. Reasonably Hard Labor is a common punishment. If a not-so-reasonable Commissar is present the punishment is invariably a *BLAM!*-ing. The bast- *BLAM!*

Reasonable Commissars can often be found in units operating alongside Reasonable Marines.

Reasonable Commissars understand their duty is to instill courage within the Imperial Guard, not to instill discord and discontent. Thus they lead by example and be the first to die and last to retreat.

Reasonable Commissars only exist because there are Commissars who are *ahem* dicks...such as Commissar Jericho of the 8th Cadian Whiteshield division:

"Lil' Timmy: "Commissar? My helmet won't fit. Can you please help me fasten it?"

– From the records of Inquisitor Murtho

To some extent, they do actually exist in Warhammer canon, with Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!) and Ibram Gaunt being the most iconic examples, the fact that they became tremendously famous (OK, Gaunt - not so much) and idolized is implied to have led to many newer Commissars using their less trigger happy and more reasonable methods. Proof that sometimes, you can make a positive difference in Warhammer.

It could be argued that all Commissars are reasonable as most don't hold malicious intent when killing their own, or don't kill their own unless in extreme (Read: Chaos) circumstances, since most of the time shooting your own men can be counterproductive when they're light infantry fleeing from a Super heavy tank. Or if they, you know, have orders to pull back. Obviously they are evil fucks for killing their own men but usually it is done because it has to be done. Rules are rules, heresy is heresy, and Commissars have to show some authority. Not saying that they are necessarily nice guys but no Commissar ever sleeps well at night, except Gaunt, he was pretty fucking cool!

Female Commissars[edit]

A female Commissar is a rare sight, except by the Vostroyans, otherwise, there is little to no representation in the fluff. This is because combat talented fanatical women (as opposed to those female progena with other talents) in the Schola Progenium are far more likely to end up in the Adepta Sororitas (because the limitations set after Goge Vandire had to go fuck everything up, so the Ecclesiarchy needs all they can get). However, there have been all-female regiments of guardswomen, and they only had female Commissars.

In the recent Lemartes novel, there is a female Commissar Stromberg attached to the Mordian Iron Guard--she died like she lived, making an infantry charge against motherfucking Skarbrand of all things before being ripped into 3 bits with one axe swing, thus buying enough time for the Blood Angels to regroup and therefore get all the glory of banishing the Daemon. Typical.

Commissar Raege is one of the rare cases of a woman that became a Commissar.

As of late 2018-2019, Games Workshop has put out a series of novels about a female Commissar called Severina Raine. They've also released a really nice model for her (which is horribly overpriced in cash - she costs nearly twice as much as the most expensive Commissar models, and has fairly lame rules). They've also hyped her as a fan favorite despite being a newcomer which reeks of corporate greed, or worse; since Raine got a model while long-time fan-favorite Cain hasn't even got a model yet (unlike Cain, Gaunt and his Ghosts at least had metal minis made of them years ago)Gaunts Ghosts recently got new plastic minis which are, sadly, also horribly overpriced as well, with gaunt and a handful of the notable characters running over double the cost of a regular guardsman squad.

Commissar in Squat Regiments[edit]

It was considered a common occurrence for a Commissar to be grouped with a Squat regiment when they were still relevant in 40k lore. However unlike in the Guard, the Commissars being stationed with the stunties act as advisers rather than a force of morale. This is mainly done to keep an eye on the Squats. Of course a Commissar is forbidden in *BLAM!*ing a Squat since while he has a Bolt/Laspistol, your basic Squat Trooper has Plasma Guns, Conversion Beamers and captured Eldar D-Cannons as their flashlight equivalent. So if the Commissar is a idiotic prick and thinks he/she has near impunity with the Squats he is stationed with, they will soon find themselves face-kissing the barrel of a Squat Melta Gun.

Yeah, the Space Dorfs did not fuck around back in the day. Commissars act not only as advisers but also supporting leaders. But their leadership is often ineffectual when compared to that of Squat Warlord, Guildmaster or heck, even a Living Ancestor.

Traitor Commissars[edit]

Commissar.gif This article or section is EXTRA heretical. Prepare to be purged.
Those who would break this oath are Heretics, worthy of neither pity, nor mercy!

While it was originally believed to be near impossible for any Commissar to fall to Chaos (at least for those of you following the The Regimental Standard, and The Regimental Standard never lies, although it may make very minor errors at times for none save the Emperor is perfect), the existence of Traitor Commissars has been confirmed. While it seems they still act as leaders of heretics and traitor Guardsmen, their exact role (and whether or not they execute people for being possible Loyalists) is uncertain, although a good guess is that they'd act like enforcers on a wider scale.

Ciaphas Cain in his memoirs states that Commissars occasionally do join Chaos when their regiment joins Chaos, but normally if a regiment decides to serve Chaos, the Commissar is one of the first people killed by the regiment when it decides to purge loyalists of the Corpse Emperor. In one of the Ciaphas Cain books, a Commissar joins the 13th Black Crusade.

Out of meta, there are only three instances where we've seen playable Chaos commissars: the first being the abovementioned Enforcers made by Forge World, the second being the Escalation expansion of Blackstone Fortress, where he's accompanied by a mutant Ogryn bodyguard, and the third being the Kill Team: Moroch set, which reuses the same commissar and ogryn models from Blackstone Fortress.

What not to do around a Commissar[edit]

If you have to ask...

Unless you have a death wish (since you're drafted into the Guard, we already KNOW you have a death wish) these are the things you should avoid doing around your Commissar unless you want to be shot for a number of reasons:

  • Do not retreat until he says so.
  • Do not look like you will retreat before he says so.
  • Do not think about retreating before he says so.
  • Do not think about thinking of retreating before he says so.
  • Do not retreat even WHEN he says so.
  • Do not refuse to retreat when he says so because you will later be shot for insubordination.
  • Do not be incompetent in battle, he'll execute you for being useless.
  • Do not move too far away from a Commissar attached to your squad, he might think you are retreating without his command.
  • Do not fap to the women that are xenos, heretics, or mutants while in the field of battle... or outside.
  • Do not fap to human women either, he'll execute you for dereliction of duty. Also, Slaanesh worship.
  • Do not fap AT ALL Because it is heresy. No! Fap to the Corpse-Empero- wait, I kinda gave that away, didn't- *BLAM!* HERESY!!
  • Do not mock anyone in the upper command structure, social status and organizations. It's the same as treason and treason, kids, is HERESY.
  • Do not look at your Commissar with a grimdark look, he'll assume you want to kill him. Unless you're a Catachan. He doesn't need to see the look to know you want to kill him.
  • Do not pretend to listen to your Commissar.
  • Do not pretend to pretend to listen to your Commissar.
  • Do not interrupt him while speaking, he'll execute you for the insubordination.
  • Do not change your underwear. Tzeentch worship.
  • Do not neglect to change your underwear. Nurgle worship.
  • Do not bring up the paradox of changing underwear. Malal worship. (There is no paradox as long as you follow the correct procedure. First remove and burn the tainted garment while reciting the litany of blessed hygiene. Instead of "Changing" your underwear, proceed to replace the purged garments with identical standard pattern guard issued underwater.)
  • Do not worship the ruinous powers, even if your Commissar is-*BLAM!* Commissars are loyal servants of the Emperor!
  • Do not look like you are worshipping the ruinous powers.
  • Do not think about worshipping the ruinous powers.
  • Do not think about thinking about worshipping the ruinous powers.
  • Do not think AT ALL or he'll think you are thinking about worshiping the ruinous powers.
  • Do not find out about the Ruinous Powers. Best you can hope for is being sterilised and mind-wiped.
  • Do not fall ill. Nurgle worship.
  • Do not fall seriously ill. Serious Nurgle worship.
  • Do not think about getting ill. More Nurgle worship.
  • Do not think abou- To Hell with this, you are already thinking about getting ill! *BLAM!*
  • Do not watch "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", that is both Tzeentch and Slaanesh worship. (and if the excessive cuteness makes you sick than it's also Nurgle Worship, and if the associations with Chaos or furries makes you overly angry that's Khorne worship. *BLAM* Righteous fury at the foes of the Emperor does not feed the Ruinous Powers!)
  • Do not openly question his orders.
  • Do not question his orders behind his back either.
  • Do not suggest your orders are suicidal.
  • Do not suggest that said "suicidal" Commissar should join the enemy, if he is able to kill his squad so quickly.
  • Do not suggest anything, lest he take it for Heresy.
  • Do not mention that the Ministorum Priests are better motivators. *BLAM!* Insubordination!
  • Do NOT interrupt him while attempting to execute someone unless you have a pretty good reason as he'll execute you along with the one about to be executed.
  • DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES challenge him or her in a western shootout. Why? Because they'll *BLAM!* kill you all in LESS than a splitsecond, now get back to the front, or you'll join him.
  • DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES give your Commissar a new bolt pistol for his birthday. Just think of how fast he can *BLAM!* your squad if he goes Akimbo...
  • Do not ask a Commissar for a bullet in the head. He will have you flogged for cowardice.
  • Do not ask a Commissar for a flogging. He WILL have you shot in the spine for being a Slaaneshi Cultist. Not that that's a bad thing, being a Sla-*BLAM!* HERESY!
  • Do not, in any way, shape, or form, give a zealous Commissar an Assault Cannon. You will have no unit.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, give a zealous Commissar a Deathstrike Missile Launcher. You will have no army.
  • Do not give a zealous Commissar a spacecraft. You will have lost a planet.
  • Do not give a Commissar a cookie. You chaos worshipping freak.
    • A: He'll think you are trying to poison him.
    • B: He'll think you're trying to bribe him.
    • And yes, death is the sentence.
  • Do not be bald, then you are a Genestealer.
  • Do not be balding, then you are becoming a Genestealer.
  • Do not think about balding, then you are thinking about becoming a Genestealer.
  • Do not think about thinking about balding, you don't wanna become a Genestealer.
  • Do not add to this list, or else he will have you shot for insubordination. He- Yes, Sir!... No, sir... Sir? *BLAM!* HERESY!
  • Do not use an axe as a last-ditch weapon. Khornate behaviour. Only acceptable if having said "For the Emperor!" and dying soon afterwards for the Imperium.
  • Do not eat your rations in a particularly vigorous manner. Khorne worship.
  • Any alteration of the standard uniform shall not be tolerated. Tzeentch worship.
  • Growing facial hair in the pres- *BLAM!*. More Tzeentch worship.
  • Do not cut yourself while shaving your facial hair. More Khorne worship.
  • Surviving a life threatening injury at the hands of the enemy. Serious Tzeentch worship.
  • Do not bring prostitutes to the base while your unit is on leave. Slaanesh worship (and just plain improper behavior).
  • Waking up lat- *BLAM!*. Cowardice.
  • Do not deface or lose your Imperial Infantrymen's Uplifting Primer. (even though any veteran guardsman will tell you most of pages are complete bullsh- *BLAM!* HERESY! )
  • Calling your self a member of the "Astra Militarum" *BLAM!* HERESY! We are and always have been the Imperial Guard: Hammer of the Emperor!
  • Do not lose your issued Lasgun. Unless it's loss is unavoidable in*BLAM!* A proper Guardsman would never lose his Lasgun.
  • Do not remind him that technically Commissars are outside the chain of command and cannot order you. So next time a fraking com- *BLAM!*. Cursing Commissars is HERESY!!!
  • Do not steal from a Commissar. Commissars are possessive, very possessive.
    • Whatever else you do, Never Ever EVER steal a Commissar's hat.
  • Do not make Hitler jokes, Stalin jokes, or any political jokes around a commissar. They might assume the joke is a hateful metaphor for the God-Emperor.
  • Speaking of which, do not make fun of the God-Emperor.
  • Never salute the anthem of a state other than that of the God-Emperor. To do so is treason and thus heresy.
  • Do not email him your porn. Slaanesh worship (also WTF man).
  • Do not let him catch you playing Ironclaw. Granted Ironclaw has a lot of hot vixien chicks, but still- *BLAM*
  • Do NOT let him catch you playing Magic: the gathering, Magic is heresy.
  • Don't let him catch you playing Dungeons and dragons, (Unless you offer for him to be the DM)

What to do around a Commissar[edit]

Nothing escapes the vigilant eye of a Commissar (except everything)
  • Worship the Emperor
  • Talk fairly loudly about how the chaos gods suck.
  • Make sure all your gear is organized, cleaned, maintained, and free of non-standard issue modifications.
  • Charge towards Khorne Berserkers even if you don't want to.
  • Compliment his marksmanship skills.
  • Have your uplifting primer on your person. Failure to present it on request will result in *BLAM!*.
  • When the rest of your squad looks like they are gonna fall back, step away from the Commissar's general direction as he might choose not to execute you to make an example for the rest of the men.
  • When the rest of your squad looks like they are gonna fall back, step towards the Commissar's general direction as he might choose to execute you to make an example for the rest of the men.
  • When you are about to do something that can only be described as batshit insane and a Commissar's around suggest it to him, if you survive said suicide mission he'll probably favor you a bit, which probably means that he MIGHT actually think about who's he shooting at.
  • If you're the guy at the wheel of a transport, DRIVE HIM CLOSER! HE WANTS TO HIT THE ENEMIES OF THE EMPRAH WITH HIS SWORD!
  • Pee on Dead Orks.
  • Learn to anticipate their desires and fulfill them before they ask.
  • If your Commissar has a bolt pistol make sure there that when he starts *BLAM!*'ing that there are 10 people closer to the Commissar than you. That way after he's done blaming the rest of your platoon he might think you 'suitably inspired' so as to not blam you.
  • Be born on Catachan, your divisions are "cursed" with "unfortunate accidents".
  • Be a member of the Karauvan Conservators. Vance Motherfucking Stubbs loves his motherfucking men. Also because no Commissar wants to *BLAM!* people who can *BLAM!* a Living Saint to death with flashlights.
  • Instead of DYING, try to acquire the Enemy's head. Minor kudos for a Grunt, some kudos for an NCO Equivalent, and perhaps at least a bit of respect from the Commissar him/herself for an enemy Commander, or said Commander's Lieutenants.

Notable Commissars[edit]

  • Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt
  • Commissar Yarrick DA ORKIEST HUMIE EVAH!!
  • Commissar Ciaphas Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!!!! Secretly believes himself to be a coward. The truth of that is up for debate.
  • Commissar Severina Raine: the main character of the short story 'Execution and the novel Honor Bound by Rachel Harrison, Severina is the rare female Commissar who has managed to get her own (limited-run and therefore overpriced) figure and rules.
  • Commissar-General Delane Oktar: Ibram Gaunt's mentor and substitute father-figure. He should have died better.
  • Commissar Fuklaw is tired of putting up with your heretical bullshit.
  • Commissar Dan: A /tg/-created character from the days of yore (along with Fuklaw and the Angry Marines) that got somewhat canon-ised by Fantasy Flight Games. Likes to order charges from atop his Basilisk Fluffy. According to FFG, his full name is Daniel Sterne and he met his end while attempting to ram a Helbrute with Fluffy when the damn thing came too close.
  • Commissar Koulick Krieg attached to the famed storm trooper regiment known as the Redemption Corps and an agent for the Adeptus Ministorum. Never officially trained as a Commissar, but field promoted from storm trooper on behalf of the Ecclesiarchy to infiltrate the "heretical" regiment that was the free thinking Redemption Corps, eventually turning on his masters and becoming a full part of the Corps instead.
  • Commissar Max the Lovemachine of Yagis V. (It should be noted that he was actually a guardsman who picked up Commissar regalia and weapons.)
  • Commissar K59
  • Holt *SLAP* Commissar Holt!!!
  • Commissar Raege
  • Kharn The Commissar *BLAM!* Major Khorne worship!
  • Colonel Greiss Formerly a Commissar; became a conventional officer through necessity.
  • Commissar LORD Bernn (always put LORD in ALL CAPS -bold is optional-, not doing so is Heresy.) Known for making entire armies completely invincible as long as he has people to execute and beating Mega-Daemon Princes, Hive Tyrants, Land Raider Redeemers, Battlewagons, Deranged Khornate Chaos Champions (if you're so far off your rocker that other Khornates think you're crazy, you may be a wee bit nutters), and Eldar wraithlords to death with a power fist. Also notable for being able to one-shot any infantry, from lowly Ork boyz to TERMINATORS with his laspistol. He needs no words to show he's a badass.
  • Commissar "Colonel" Schaeffer The commanding officer of the 13th Penal Legion "Last Chancers", he had his arm shot off by a plasma gun AND GREW IT BACK, had his spine rebuilt after being crushed by a tank and made a full recovery, had his eyes replaced after his other ones were destroyed and has survived throwing himself into suicide mission after suicide mission (seriously, most people would rather just take the summary execution than go with him) for over 300 years LIKE A BOSS, he gets down and dirty and is usually seen in front of his men in the battle rather than behind them. He's still brutal as fuck to deserters though. *why doesn't he have his own pag- *BLAM!*
  • Commissar Jaes "Jellyfish" Quallen. Fragile, stuttering, clumsy, prone to disease, about as intimidating as a wet kitten. His enlistment was a cruel wager between two of his rich aunts to see if he would survive. He barely made his commission as Commissar, and he was discarded to the Catachan 217th infantry to get rid of him. And yet he's still alive today. What's more, he leads his men from the very front, utterly fearless when the jagged teeth of Chaos spawn (OH GOD NOOOOOOAAAAAUUUUUUUGHHHHHHH!!! GRRAAAAAAAAAGH!!!! *BLAM!* Mercy killing; continue.) are inches from his face, humming to himself in the middle of the shitstorm that is every battlefield. Atypical for a Catachan company, his men are quite loyal to him, well-liked for leading by example instead of inspiring fear behind the lines ... although they do tease him off-duty by playing keepaway with his hat.
  • Commissar Viktor Hark - The Commissar for the Tanith First (and Only). Pretty bad ass dude with a cybernetic arm to beat heretics and a plasma pistol to melt faces with. Pretty reasonable for a Commissar, preferring *BLAM!* only when it can have the most effect on a units morale, which in some cases means *BLAM!*ming the guy in charge.
  • Commissar Flint was abruptly reassigned to the reconstituted 77th Vostroyan Firstborn Dragoons, whose first mission was to quell a bloody rebel uprising at a penal facility on Furia Penitens. Leading a picked team of escaped convicts and Firstborn, Flint infiltrated the vast creepy facility, wrecking Stalkers, slaying giant mutants with his power sword and slaughtering literal rebel scum by the dozens, all while keeping his execution-count impressively low and displaying many feats of epic badassery. Not bad for a Commissar who gets his own book who isn't Gaunt or Cain.
  • Commissar Fenstrum Holt: A supporting character in the ongoing Eagle Ordinary [1]webcomic. NOT to be confused with (though he constantly is, even by his own junior, Commissar Talon Gunner) that other Holt *SLAP* Commissar Holt. This Holt is an elderly badass with a creepy bionic eye who manages to beat up trigger-happy aristocratic officers despite being only 5'6. Although introduced in the comic's first page engaging in the Commissariat's trademark pastime *BLAM!*-ming Guardsmen, his character is so well-written and drawn he might just be the fan favorite. Might just be the only adult in the whole comic as well.
  • Commissar Daridh Ahl Karif : Commissar of the Fifth Company, 68th Vostroyan Regiment, one of the main character in the Rebel Winter novel. One of the few Reasonable Commissars in 40k. An unnaturally caring, nice, level-headed Commissar but also sternly ruthless when the situation demands it. Got posted down to a company-level commission in a pretty much worthless campaign for rejecting a Lord General's sons love (no, seriously), leading to the rejected dude committing suicide. Currently serves as part of an Inquisitorial retinue.
  • Commissar Vaynom Blenner - A Commissar attached to the Tanith First (and Only). Basically the shit drug addict version of Ciaphas Cain.

Commissar Mortality[edit]

Commissars, at least those attached to an Imperial guard regiment, do not exactly have a high life expectancy. Next to the many horrible fates that await your average "balls of steel" Guardsman in the grimdark WH40K universe, the Commissars have some additional aggravating factors leading to a quick demise.

Some reasons:

  • A Commissar's uniform is very different from those he is working with, add to that he is shouting things at people and possibly *BLAM!*-ming them, probably without fire being returned at him, and is probably carrying different weapons than those around him. It doesn't take a genius to figure out he is an obvious High-Value Target which any sniper worth the name would take note of.
  • Aforementioned uniform offers little to no head protection, head protection is for cowards and cowards get *BLAM!*-med. (However, a Commissar's lack of headgear can get him *BLAM!*-med by the enemy).(subverted for death korps as they have helmets under their hats)
  • *BLAM!*-ming cowards, and especially *BLAM!*-ming non-cowards, often has a side effect of *accidentally* getting shot, repeatedly, sometimes even far from the front lines. This fate is particularly common for those attached to Catachan units.
  • Even when not getting *accidentally* shot/dropped in a pit/run over/... by his own troops, few Guardsmen will risk their lives to save a Commissar should he get into trouble with the enemy.
  • Some Commissars both lead by example and expect their men to perform acts of suicidal courage, resulting in performing collective suicide in the name of the Emprah.
  • Lots of Commissars like big flashy bolt pistols. Bolt pistols, being roight flashy bitz of dakka, naturally attract orks like sugar water attracts flies, and unlike laspistols eventually run out of bolts.
  • According to their most recent models some unusually ballsy Commissars carry plasma pistols, and as such possess a statistical lifespan of six shots at maximum.

It should be noted that regimental standards vary:
- Kriegers will leave a Commissar a wreck because they have to keep convincing the men that while it's laudable to die for the Emperor you have to do so while trying to kill His enemies. It's like herding sheep: if you keep your eye off of one for too long it'll be gone. Except this sheep wears a gas mask, digs a trench, bombards the enemy with mortar fire, then goes over the top and gets gunned down without achieving anything. Oh, and there's millions more like it.

- Serving with the Tallarn regiments that there will be sand EVERYWHERE. There's so much fucking sand everywhere. I mean, how did it even get there? Not to mention that you'll want to wear one of their turbans to protect your head against the heat, but you can't wear your cap alongside one of those things. And many a Commissar has suffered from dehydration following being told exactly what most of the regiment's water is distilled from.

- The Mordians employ the strictest of discipline and expect a Commissar to lead by example. When they inevitably mess up the Commissar is subjected to physical disciplinary actions, up to and including being flogged or even executed by the platoon.

- The Vostroyans are ABSOLUTE MADMEN and expect the Commissar to lead by examples of balls-out insanity and win the day, but they have trouble following the orders of a man who has no imposing facial hair. If a Commissar's lucky he'll be approached by one of the regiment's senior female officers who offers him one of her glue-on mustaches to spare him the indignity.

- Scintillans show utter disdain for the Commissar because of his poor breeding and low social standing (word has it the Commissar is an orphan, for the Emperor's sake!) and will have their authority undermined by even the lowest of privates and when trouble arises a senior officer steps in and takes the offending soldier away, but punishment following this is rare.

- Praetorians are fine enough soldiers, but their culture is very strange and requires unusual degrees of politeness from both officers and the rank-and-file. Not following these labyrinthian rules will be sternly frowned upon. And their officers will never, ever duck even when taking direct fire.

- Drookians openly hate the Commissar's guts for being an outsider and a nancy for wearing pants instead of a kilt, but a clever Commissar will figure out that if he manages to convince the platoon that the enemy has slighted the Drookians' clan honor all he needs to do is step aside and watch the men fuck the enemy up.

- Brontians solve most of their internal struggles with knife fights, and the unfortunate Commissar who steps in to try and stop such a duel will quickly catch one, two, three or thirteen knives to the chest. The Brontians don't like them anyway due to their lack of scars.

- Attilans laugh their asses of when the Commissar tries to ride a horse and keep falling off, and the platoon just rides ahead of him leaving the unfortunate Commissar in the dust.

- The Steel Legions are almost entirely mechanized, so a Commissar has to hang out with the same squad all the time. And he better be able to keep up when redeploying: miss the Chimera and it ain't coming back for you. Plus, nobody respects you because you're not Yarrick.

- With the Valhallans you constantly have to convince the commanders that yes, while it would result in a technical victory if you sacrifice a million men for that small amount of ground, it'd be better to have them attack in a different way to win slower but with fewer losses because the enemy is statistically a mundane rebellion or Orks and thus don't need to be urgently stopped to prevent a Chaos ritual of other psychic nonsense from going off and allowing the Guard to send the men to the planet 23 light years over that needs reinforcements. And they'll hate you for this.

- The Chem Dogs will hate the Commissar because people like him put them there, and will try to rob him blind without being found out.

- Elysian, Harakoni and Phantine Skyborne regiments have a high Commissar mortality rate because they're not very well trained in the use of grav-chutes. And with those things, you'll make a mistake only once. Drop regiments in general have high mortality, so successfully landing is not much of an achievement either.

- With the Phantine Air Corps it's hard to say. On the one hand they are a guard regiment and not a navy unit, so Commissars come standard. What they do is trickier to say since they can't fly and even on bombers it's hard to justify attaching a spare person just to shoot one of the valuable air crew if they start to turn around, which if our own history of strategic bombing holds true, does not really happen, plus it would be a stupid waste to get a bomber formation shot down because unlike the men they are actually worth something to the Munitorum. Commissars therefore likely just sit around not doing much other then paper work and watching the pilots like a hawk when ever they are on the ground, thus proving that even in the 41st millennium the chair force meme still exists.

- Kanak Skull Takers will hate the Commissar because he prevents them from taking skulls, and they do so anyway. If he becomes forceful about it they'll take a skull with a fancy hat.

- Naval Commissars are the first targets when a mutiny occurs/the ship gets boarded. Otherwise, you aren't likely to survive a voidship becoming combat ineffective if not straight up losing life support/about half the bulkheads/the reactor/the engines/the magazine and Emperor forbid the Warp Drive or the Gellar Field Generator.

-.....Then there is the Catachans. To say that the Rambos in Spehss merely dislike Commissars would be like saying Matt Ward merely sugar coated the Ultrasmurfs.


  • "Fear me...but follow!"
  • "You can give the Emperor your loyalty, or I can take it from your corpse."
  • "You DARE shoot at me?...AT ME?!"
  • "What I cannot crush with words, I shall crush with the tanks of the Imperial Guard."
  • "Fear ensures loyalty! Where do you need me?"
  • "Trooper, the enemy may kill you, but if you try to run I will kill you!"
  • *BLAM!*
  • "It is our duty to muster the Guardsmen's courage and loyalty under fire and it is our duty to - GET THE FUCK BACK HERE!"*BLAM!* *BLAM!*
  • Drive me closer, I want to hit them with my sword!
  • "Follow my example or I will MAKE YOU ONE!"
  • A compilation of some -if not all- of the Dow II Commissar quotes that can be found here.
  • Heil Hitler! *BLAM!* HERESY!!! Heil Emperor!
  • "If you will not serve in combat, then you will serve on the firing line!" *BLAM!*
  • "On charges of cowardice, you are sentenced to death!" *BLAM!*


How many Guardsmen were Executed writing this article?

See Also[edit]

Lord Commissar, what Commissars are promoted to.


PROMOTIONS-small.pngThis article contains PROMOTIONS! Don't say we didn't warn you.


Forces of the Imperial Guard
Command: Commissar - Enginseer - Imperial Guard Command Squad - Ministorum Priest
Primaris Psyker - Regimental Advisors - Tank Commander
Troops: Armoured Fist Squad - Breacher Squad - Infantry Squad - Field Chiurgeon
Heavy Weapons Squad - Militarum Veteran Squad - Ogryn Squad - Penal Legion
Psyker Battle Squad - Ratling Squad - Rough Rider Squad - Scout Squad
Sharpshooter - Special Weapons Squad - Stormtrooper - Whiteshield Conscript
Structures: Aegis Defence Line - Aquila Strongpoint - Firestorm Redoubt - Fortress of Redemption
Imperial Bastion - Imperial Bunker - Imperial Defence Line - Imperial Fortress Walls
Plasma Obliterator Platform - Primus Redoubt - Skyshield Landing Pad
Vengeance Weapon Battery - Void Shield Generator
Transports: Aurox Armoured Transport - Chimera - Crassus Armored Assault Transport
Gorgon Armored Assault Transport - Hades Breaching Drill - Hellbore
Mole - Taurox - Termite - Testudo - Trojan Support Vehicle - Pegasus AAV
Light Vehicles: Atlas Recovery Tank - Bike Squad - Bane Wolf - Cargo-8 Ridgehauler
Centaur Utility Vehicle - Cyclops Demolition Vehicle - Devil Dog - Hellhound
Land Crawler - Scylla - Salamander Reconnaissance Tank - Sentinel - Siegfried
Tauros - Venator - Pegasus AFV
Tanks & Ordnance: Basilisk Artillery Gun - Carnodon - Colossus Bombard - Deathstrike Missile Launcher
Griffon Heavy Mortar Carrier - Heavy Quad-Launcher - Hydra Flak Tank
Leman Russ Battle Tank - Manticore Launcher Tank - Medusa Siege Gun
Ragnarok - Wyvern Suppression Tank
Superheavy Vehicles: Baneblade - Capitol Imperialis - Leviathan - Macharius Heavy Tank
Malcador Heavy Tank
Flyers & Bombers: Avenger Strike Fighter - Lightning Fighter - Marauder Bomber
Thunderbolt Fighter - Valkyrie - Vendetta - Vulture - Chiropteran Scout
Spacecraft: Devourer Dropship - Tetrarch Heavy Lander
Forces of the Militarum Tempestus
Command: Tempestor Prime - Lord Commissar
Commissar - Tempestus Command Squad
Troops: Stormtrooper
Vehicles: Taurox - Taurox Prime - Chimera
Flyers: Valkyrie - Vendetta
Spacecraft: Devourer Dropship
Allies: Imperial Guard - Inquisition
Forces of the Squats/Leagues
Command: Brôkhyr Iron-masters - Einhyr Champion - Guildmaster
Kâhl - Living Ancestor (Grimnyr) - Squat Warlord - Votann
Troops: Brôkhyr Thunderkyn - Brotherhood Heavy Weapons Team
COG - Commissar - Chthonian Beserks - Hearthguard
Hearthkyn Warrior - Ironkin - Mole Mortar Team
Tech Priest - Theyn
Vehicles: Cyclops War Machine - Colossus War Machine
Land Train - Leviathan - Magna-Coil Bike - Rhino
Squat Bike - Squat Trike - Tunneling Transport Vehicles
Hekaton Land Fortress - Sagitaur ATV
Flyers &
Iron Eagle Gyrocopter
Overlord Armoured Airship
Artillery: Heavy Quad-Launcher
Thunder-Fire Cannon
Goliath Mega-Cannon