Nobledark Imperium Imperial Forces
- Finish arguments over how the military is structured
- 1 Imperial Guard
- 1.1 Standard Imperial Tactics
- 1.2 Imperial Infantry Command Structure
- 1.3 Forces of the Imperial Guard
- 1.4 Doctrines of the Imperial Guard
- 1.5 Scion Tempestus
- 2 Abhuman Subspecies
- 3 Weapons of the Imperium
- 4 Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines)
- 5 Oficios and Adepta
- 6 Adeptus Mechanicus and its branches
- 7 The Inquisition
- 8 Imperial Navy
- 9 Eldar-Only Forces
- 10 Tau Empire
- 11 Interex
- 12 Hubworld League (Squats)
Standard Imperial Tactics
The standard Imperial infantry composition is to field a battalion of Imperial Guardsmen combined with a detachment of Eldar Guardians as auxiliaries. Unlike previous mixed-forces regiments throughout galactic history, this arrangement tends to work rather well, as unlike those previous combined regiments both sides feel fairly safe that the other side isn't going to shoot them in the back. Both groups can and do fight on their own, but work spectacularly together. In theory, the regiment structure works by Imperial Guard forces taking the brunt of the enemy fire and the Eldar acting as flankers. In practice, the more fragile but heavier-hitting Eldar like this arrangement because it means they won't be the primary targets of enemy fire, whereas the Imperial Guard like this arrangement because even though they start out taking brunt of the blow the Eldar auxiliaries will tear through enemy forces fast enough that they never become the targets of focus fire. As with everything in the Imperium, this varies from world to world. Specialist forces like Catachans, Kriegers, Harlequins, or Aspect Warriors function differently, and follow their own rules.
If there is any weakness to this arrangement, it's that Eldar and humans tend to only take orders from their respective species, which causes there to be two people in charge of a given regiment. If the two commanders can't come to an agreement, the army sputters, which can lead to one or the other going in alone.
After the Tau Empire was absorbed into the Imperium, Imperial commanders were eager to try to incorporate Tau Fire Warriors into this formation. The Imperium had seen how effective the Tau were at long-ranged combat, and saw great potential in their ability. In theory, the idea was to have a third group of Tau Fire Warriors providing long-range support fire from behind the Guardsman infantry, and if all worked as planned then half of the enemy army wouldn’t even be able to show up to the battle in the first place. In practice, however, this did not work for several reasons. First, the Tau were essentially a combined-arms force already (save for close combat), and didn’t appreciate being shoehorned into a long-range only role, even if they were talented at it. Secondly, much like Eldar and humans, Tau like to be commanded by Tau, so in an Eldar-Tau-human battalion you end up having three arguing commanders instead of just two. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Eldar and humans have worked together long enough to trust that one is not going to shoot the other in the back. This is not true of the Tau, especially given their attitude towards the Imperium for much of their history. When you factor in that in this arrangement the Tau are supposed to be in the back of the formation, and thus in the perfect position to potentially shoot their allies in the back, the other soldiers start to get paranoid and morale drops. Eventually, it was decided to keep Tau divisions as their own separate forces, called in especially for any enemy that has started to work out a viable counter, however soft, to the traditional Guardian & Guard one-two.
Eldar opinions on human weapons, like just about everything else in the Imperium, vary from Craftworld to Craftworld. Craftworlds like Alaitoc would sneer if offered human weapon as a sidearm, whereas Ulthwé Eldar would take two in addition to their own weapon and then ask if you have any more. Most Eldar see human weapons like modern soldiers do knives; crude, simple, and inelegant compared to their primary weapon, but if you're stuck in the trenches in a do-or-die moment it's better to have the other guy get shot/stabbed rather than you. Therefore, Eldar that use human weapons use them as a sidearm or last resort weapon, if at all. It helps that many human-made weapons are based on STC designs, and therefore easily replaceable and about as fragile as a brick (being designed for maximum durability), in contrast to the more delicate and precision-made (though still pretty tough) weapons of the Eldar. Therefore, an Eldar can be less careful with their sidearm and make sure their primary weapon is functioning at maximum efficiency.
Imperial Infantry Command Structure
As the Imperial Guard does not prescribe specific organizational arrangements for anything below battalion level, the vastly different cultures and traditions that exist across the Imperium change the size of the smaller units as they see fit. Terra does set minimum sizes on how large units must be before the unit can be recognized as aforementioned self-declared units by the wider Imperial Guard, however.
The lowest level of the Imperial Guard is the squad size. Guardsmen often operate in pairs for specialized tasks to keep confusion as low as possible between other in the same squad. The smallest recognized size for these squads is 10 soldiers per squad, further broken into 5 pairs, although a command squad might only have 6 men. At least 4 squads form a platoon, with one squad being a command squad, bringing the total number of men in platoon to at least 36 Guardsmen. Some battalions, like the Kriegers, assign 7 squads to a platoon, bringing their platoon size to 76 Guardsmen.
Eldar squads attached to Guardsman platoons come in the smallest size of 5 Eldar per squad, but their size can be bigger depending on their world of origin. Notably, Maiden world Eldar tends to be organized into larger sizes as they experience more attacks on their homes compared to the Craftworlds.
For the platoons to form into a company there must be at least 4 platoons with a company command squad, thus bringing the number to at least 150 men. Again, these numbers vary; Cadian Shock Troops often deploy around 300 per company, whereas the Kriegers use 10 platoons per company then adding the Company HQ with at least 1 Grenadier squad totalling in at least 704 Guardsmen, not counting transports which they are often deployed with.
The smallest size battalion uses at least 2 companies and battalion HQ before being deployed, bringing the numbers to 306 Guardsmen per battalion. The expected regiment holds at least 3 battalions and 1 support platoon, which have 7 squads and 1 HQ, totalling to 1000 men. More often than not, regiments like the Vostroyans use 3 infantry battalions and 2 standardized (organized not by 7 squad and HQ but like the infantry 3 squad with 1 HQ) support battalions coming up to 1,536 men. The Krieger regiments far exceed these expectations by using 4 standardized support battalions and 6 infantry battalions, boosting their numbers to 14,146 men including the regimental HQ.
The corps used to garrison a world often use the smallest size, with only 5 regiments totalling to at least 5,000 Guardsmen, and these troops are used more to raise PDF than to actually keep the peace. If there are still insurgents who disrupt the peace and do not accept the Imperial Truth, these garrison corps can double or triple in regiments. This puts the tripled corps from at least a small 15,000 to a gigantic 200,000 Guardsmen. The PDF used to aid the garrison corps may number from around a low 400,000 up to millions at a time on heavily populated planets like on hive worlds.
In more peaceful systems, the lax Guardsmen armies deployed to ‘guard’ the place would only be using the tinniest size, thus only have 20,000 on-paper Guardsmen at any one time, with a majority of the corps in reserve. In the more active systems, particularly garrisoning systems not too far from a front, the numbers would go up to around 40,000 to 60,000 troops at any given time. When the Imperial Guard does deploy an army to the frontline the commanders always request at least 100,000 soldiers for the more daring, but preferentially use 180,000 men if they are fortunate enough that they can requisition such numbers.
- Additional info in thread XI, including number of troops in each Segmentum. Actual number of troops never agreed upon, left here as placeholder.
Forces of the Imperial Guard
Cadian Shock Troopers
Most 'Cadian' Regiments are not, in fact, from Cadia, nor do they even have a drop of Cadian blood in them. “So why name them Cadian?” I hear you ask. The Cadians were one of the few who proved themselves in the Great Crusade as versatile and adaptable enough troops that the Imperial Army could deploy them on most fronts. The organizational structures and equipment used by the Cadians were introduced to many different worlds as the original Cadian regiments toured the modern Imperium and beyond in the Crusade Era. The 200 year expansion period saw the diverse traditions of regiments being used all over the galaxy, as newly integrated worlds threw their armed forces into joining the Imperial Army and subsequently be sent to the far-flung reaches of the Imperium. The War of the Beast saw almost all Cadian regiments be recalled to the defense of either Cadia or, if they were close enough, Terra itself. With the absence of many regiments from Ultima Segmentum and Segmentum Tempestus, the worlds in these places were forced to raise totally new regiments from scratch for either self-defense or as requisition to be deployed to the fronts.
At the time, many of the Imperial, Hive and Fortress worlds saw the effectiveness in Cadian regiments as they fought against or with the Cadians during the Great Crusade, and the industrial capability to manufacture standard Cadian equipment was already present on many Imperial worlds. Forge, Argi, and Feudal worlds, on the other hand, used the local traditions, organization, and equipment of their planetary elite troops to form their own Guardsmen regiments, as the Argi and Feudal worlds typically lacked the industry to produce and equip a Cadian regiment and the Forge worlds refused to form Cadian regiments, as these worlds dismissed the relative lack of artillery and armored vehicles characteristic of the Cadian doctrine, and formed the Skitarii armies instead.
The adoption of Cadian regiments on so many different worlds shows the versatility and efficiency of the Cadian doctrine. After the War of the Beast, the original Cadian regiments would be sent to refortify the Cadian Gate. Many of the displaced Cadian civilians would be reorganized into colonist groups, leaving their homeworld to settle the vast Imperium. The same adaptable traditions thus carried over to Cadian colonies and frontier worlds when they raised their own Cadian regiments.
Cadian infantry regiments from Cadia proper are known as “Cadian Shock Troops”, while off-world or imitation regiments are known as “Cadian Foot Troops”. Cadian Shock Troops would often have at least two detachments from other branches of the Imperial Guard; the 203rd Cadian Shock Troop, for example, has self-propelled heavy artillery and armored detachments. Cadian Foot Troops often don’t follow this rule and only deploy with one such detachment.
In a Cadian infantry regiment, a squad is made of 10 people that operate in 5 pairs. The sergeant keeps up morale and plans out tactics with the lieutenant, the latter of whom typically operates as a vox-caster, though these officers can also be equipped with melee weapons. A heavy weapons team is included to allow long range suppressive fire on the battlefield - usually with a heavy stubber. A medic works to keep the soldiers in fighting condition with the help of an underling that tags along into battles. The rest of the squad is made up of two pairs of weapon specialists, normally Lasgunners, rounding out the squad.
The sergeant is equipped with a chainsword and Laspistol for leading charges or CQC. Alternatively, the sergeant can be armed like the lieutenant, who is given a las-carbine for self-defense. The heavy weapons team normally uses an offensive heavy stubber that fires 12.7mm rounds or a lighter defensive stubber firing 7.92 rounds. One member of the heavy weapons team carries and fires the weapon, while the other member feeds ammo, spots targets, guards the gunner, and act as a makeshift bipod. Both members are also equipped with a Lasgun and a Laspistol. The medic fights with a Lasgun and heals with a medikit, which comes with medicinal drugs, chemicals, surgical tools, sedatives, injectors, bandages, and a medical cogitator which can detect almost every aliment known to man. To help the Medic is the underling, who carries extra supplies, guards the Medic, or helps in surgery, depending on the conditions. The weapon specialists mostly carry Lasguns, although one or two of the four might have flamers instead. These specialists can be armed with just about any weapon that can be held by two regular human arms, and some can also serve a dual role of vox-caster as well. The specialists act as either a flanking force while the heavy weapon team suppresses the enemy, or as the center line that lays down fire.
Fenrisian Line Regiments
Seeing the effectiveness of Cadian troops after encountering them in battle during the Great Crusade, Fenris adopted the Cadian Doctrine and deployed Cadian Foot Troops of their own to the front. Yet The War of the Beast changed the Fenrisians' outlook regarding the Cadian Doctrine; when faced with the Ork threat, several Cadian Foot Troops were entirely wiped out within the first week of the war due to the Fenrisians' lack of mortal manpower. The Death world bred heroes for the Space Wolves, not the infinite manpower required for regiments of Foot Troops. The Fenrisians abandoned the Cadian Doctrine after the war and switched to the Fusilier Doctrine that the famous Mordian, Praetorian, and Scintillan regiments used.
Sacrificing quantity for quality, the Fenrisians can always request Space Wolves regiments to merge with a Fenrisian Line Regiment, to devastating effect. The Flak Armor of the typical Fenrisian Line Guardsman uses extra metal plates compared to a Cadian's. Infantry under the Fusilier Doctrine would stand shoulder to shoulder, forming into lines facing the enemy before firing. The Fenrisian Line Regiments took this tactic and expanded it with the introduction of self-propelled artillery to provide mobile defense and keep up with infantry during attacks. In Fenrisian regiments officers are encouraged to outgun the enemy via volley fire, and if that fails just charge them. Fenrisian line infantry are better trained than Cadians in melee combat, with some even wielding swords into charges.
Fenrisian Line Regiments often differ in tactics depending on whether they come from one of the Fenrisian colony worlds or Fenris itself. Old World Fenrisians are more wild and less coordinated in their approach, and typically operate in 5-10 man squads for the best kill-to-loss ratio. New World Fenrisians are more ordered and coordinated, though they are still wilder than anyone outside your average Death Worlder. The two groups work best together, with New Worlder regiments holding the line and securing targets and Old Worlders scouting ahead and harrying supply lines.
Everybody knows the Steel Legion. Reflections of their world in microcosm. Steel and fire and ash; unstoppable waves of armor, Basilisk barrages like monsoon rains, choking clouds of lung-burning gas. Less well-known is the fact that there are two parts to the Steel Legion. The first and largest are the heavy mechanized infantry they are famous for. The second is the Outriders.
The Outriders are all crazy. The infantry regiments of the Steel Legion recruit from inside the hives — the factory and forge workers — but the Outriders recruit from outside the hives, and there are only two ways to make a living out there.
The first is prospecting and wildcat mining, delving deep into ancient and much-abused Ork-built structures with jury-rigged and second-hand equipment in search of veins of valuable materials. Everything from gold electrical circuits to adamantine armor plate. Most valuable of all is components of the old teleporter system. The Mechanicus has decided it wants planetary teleporters more than it hates Ork 'technology', and pays staggering sums for the smallest scraps. This description alone should tell you everything you need to know about how difficult and dangerous the job is.
The second is Ork hunting. The Administratum and PDF will pay good thrones for Ork skulls. Two for a squig, five for a grot, and starting at forty for an Ork, more for larger or special types like Weirdboys and Brainboys. Reimbursement is included for promethium spent burning the bodies, and the PDF doesn't check too hard to make sure you're not claiming driving-around promethium as Ork-burning expense.
Outrider legends tell of Billy-Joe Hammerlord, who drove through an entire warband on his bike to take the head of a Warboss and earned enough to retire. The story grows wilder and more fantastic every retelling, thus by now the old stories claim the warband stretched from one horizon to the other, the Warboss carving paths through the rubble for his army to march through just by dragging his axe along the ground behind him, and Billy-Joe himself earned enough to buy himself a fleet, became a Rogue Trader, and went on adventures with Prince Yriel.
Officially, all the Orks on Armageddon are Feral. Most places, Feral means stone axes and weird squigs. But this is Armageddon. The world still remembers in her bones when she strode among the stars and slapped aside Battlefleet Solar like so many childrens' toys. A lot of the Orks are just waving around scrap-metal axes. On the other hand, depending on what armories they've broken into, they might be tossing around vortex bombs.
The point is that Outriders are all crazy. In some ways they sort of resemble Orks themselves. They move around in a wide assortment of walkers, fat-tire buggies, and motorbikes, made of scrap metal and spare parts. Most of these vehicles may have started life on an assembly line in a Mechanicus factory, but after generations of repairs and modifications nothing of the original vehicle can be found. Most of them are old - a good vehicle is a heirloom, passed down from father to son, with each generation adding a bit more to it. They stick spikes on the vehicles and stick Ork skulls on the spikes, and judge each other by how skull-laden their bosspoles are. When an Ork warband and an Outrider clan are fighting, it sometimes gets hard to tell which is which.
Outriders prefer las-weapons over slug, so there is that.
A common rite of passage among the Outriders is for the father to cripple an Ork with shots to its limbs, then for son finish it off with a knife. This marks the transition from childhood into adolescence. True manhood is often not considered to begin until the son repeats the ritual as the father. It is important not just to kill Orks, but to ensure that Ork-killing will continue into the far future.
The point is that Outriders are all crazy, but they are Ork-killing crazy so they make excellent candidates for the Imperial Guard. Sometimes entire clans get recruited into their own regiments. Sometimes restless young men come in on their own to the recruiting office and get incorporated into the regular Steel Legions as scouts and cavalry. Most of the time they insist on bringing their own vehicles, and most of the time the Munitorum lets them, though they insist that the Outriders repair their vehicles with standard issue parts. Since most of the time their vehicles are kitbashes of Sentinels and Chimeras, this is usually not too difficult.
For all their skill and lunatic courage, the Outriders are not famous for the good and simple reason that there just aren't as many of them as the normal Steel Legions. Armageddon outside the hive walls does not support high population densities. Thus, they just fade into the background as 'specialized auxiliaries' of the Steel Legion. But those who have met them have given rise to a proverb: “Armageddon has many faces, and all of them are lethal."
Elysian Drop Troopers
Elysium does, in fact, produce forces for the Guard beyond its famous Drop Regiments. There are Elysian tank regiments, Elysian artillery regiments, Elysian footslogger regiments. They are all, universally, nursing a mild grudge against the universe in general and the Drop Regiments in particular for the way everyone is continually surprised by their existence.
"I thought Elysium did, you know, drop troops." "FUCK YOU."
But nobody cares about them. [muffled FUCK YOU in the distance] Let's talk about the Drop Regiments.
The Elysian Drop Regiments are somewhat unique in the Imperial Guard for being descended from a naval boarding force. Elysium was, and is, a major trade hub in a sector unfortunately plagued with human pirates, Ork Freebootas, and a superfluity of places for them to hide. As a result, Elysium committed much of its PDF force to anti-piracy operations, stationing regiments on merchant vessels and escort ships for boarding and counter-boarding operations.
No war can be won with defense alone, however, and the Elysian PDF regiments assigned to anti-pirate duty began experimenting with methods of striking at the pirates in their lairs. Thus the modern Drop Regiments began to take shape. The first attempts were amateurish and improvised; in some cases regiments used civilian shuttles and Void Maneuvering Packs instead of proper assault ships and grav-chutes. Still, a couple of victories proved the concept worthy of further development, and Elysian high command invested in additional training and equipment.
The first battles of the Drop Regiments were void-borne affairs, fought in microgravity in and around hidden asteroid bases. As more and more pirate bases were expunged, however, they were forced to track down their opponents in ever more diverse locales, from fairly conventional planets to burning Mercurial environments to floating gas-giant bases. But, in the end, it was mostly done. The pirates would never be fully expunged from the sector — fucking Orks — but it was safer than it had ever been before. Trade was flourishing, new worlds were being colonized, and the Elysian PDF found itself somewhat underemployed. So, when the next Founding came around, the course of action was obvious.
The modern Elysian Drop Regiments distinguish themselves from the usual run of air cavalry in three ways.
First, they continue to train for operation in a very wide variety of environments: zero-g and vacuum, high gravity, extreme temperatures, toxic atmospheres, they have the tools and training to operate in them all. Most drop regiments only train to operate within the usual 'human-habitable' range of environments, giving the Elysians a distinct niche and edge.
Second, they have very good relations with the Imperial Navy due to their past as, essentially, naval armsmen specialising in hunting pirates. Thus, they have an easier time securing air and orbital support, and have the doctrine and training to make the maximum use of it. They are comfortable with inter-service cooperation in a way few regiments are. This includes good relationships with the Void Wolves, with joint training exercises being commonplace.
Third, general superiority of training and equipment. The Drop Regiments have become a point of planetary pride, and as a prosperous trading hub Elysium can afford to ensure they are equipped and trained to the highest standards. And with far more volunteers than they can accept, the training academies can accept only the best recruits.
Combined, this results in the Drop Regiments being frequently deployed to the stranger battlefields of the Imperium, executing their distinctive lightning strikes in environments an unprepared human could not even hope to survive in, much less fight in.
Humans in general have a tendency to survive in places where they aren’t intended to go. Such is the case of the Lucifer Blacks, one of the original regiments of the Old Hundred, the original one hundred regiments that were not disbanded at the end of the Unification Wars and would serve as the basis for the Imperial Army. The Lucifer Blacks were one of the last people on Old Earth to be discovered by the outside world, living deep underwater in pre-Strife underwater habitats at the bottom of Old Earth’s Great Ocean (also known as the Pacific Ocean) in a region controlled by the Pan-Pacific Empire. It is thought that these habitats were originally meant as simple residential habitats or research stations during the Dark Age of Technology. By the time of the Age of Strife, however, the Lucifer Blacks were cut off from the rest of the world until their rediscovery by the horrendous contraptions of the Pan-Pacific Empire. This lifestyle in the inky darkness, surviving off of mesopelagic fish and geothermal power from hydrothermal vents, is what gave the regiment their name.
Living underwater in an environment where literally one wrong seal could mean the difference between life and death tended to foster an extremely calm and measured attitude in people. To the Lucifer Blacks, a crisis was the absolute worst time to panic, as panic is what led to rash decisions and rash decisions are what get you killed. This led the regiment to be infamously known for their ability to be calm and clear-thinking under fire, as well as a very dark and (ironically) dry sense of humor. Additionally, living nearly 4000 meters below sea level in conditions where most light was artificial tended to make one very good at fighting in the dark. The Lucifer Blacks often used this to their advantage in battle, using smoke grenades and other implements to approximate the low-light conditions in which they had the advantage over their foes.
However, at the same time the Lucifer Blacks were not the most numerous people. When one lives in such a hostile, enclosed environment, the primary constraint on population size was not food or materials, but simply living space due to the number of habs present. When the Lucifer Blacks were first discovered and subjugated by Narthan Dume, Dume decided that one of the best ways to use the highly disciplined — but not very numerous — Lucifer Blacks were as elite shock troops. The calm, detached nature of the Lucifer Blacks in high-stress combat situations made them especially hard to break. The fact that the Lucifer Blacks preferred to fight in the hermetically sealed all-black bodysuits they typically wore for extra-habitat activities only added to their intimidation factor.
When the Pan-Pacific Empire fell and the tyranny of Narthan Dume finally toppled, the Lucifer Blacks were one of the first regiments of the Pan-Pacific Empire to pledge their loyalty to the Warlord. The Warlord was somewhat suspicious of the Lucifer Blacks at first, but as with the Assassins of the Salt Wastes he wasn’t fool enough to deny himself potentially useful resources. And the Lucifer Blacks more than delivered on their promises of loyalty, even serving in a secondary role alongside the Night Lords during the Vhnori Resurgence as the two fought against the attempted resurgence of the Pan-Pacific Empire.
Eventually, in return for their exemplary service, the Warlord — now the Steward — granted the Lucifer Blacks settlement rights on extrasolar worlds. The Lucifer Blacks mostly chose to settle on Ocean Worlds that approximated their old home. Even today, many people on Ocean Worlds have distant Lucifer Black Ancestry. As part of the Old Hundred, the Lucifer Blacks also still exist on Earth, living in the same oceanic trenches as their forefathers, though ten thousand years of gentrification and integration into Old Earth’s infrastructure mean that the modern Lucifer Blacks have lost a lot of their original culture and aren’t as incredibly stoic and tough-as-nails as their forefathers. Imperial nobles often like to have Lucifer Black bodyguards when they can’t get someone like a member of Terra’s Children, though in reality having a Lucifer Black bodyguard usually amounts to little more than a display of prestige.
The 12th Ohmsworld Armored Regiment
The 12th Ohmsworld was in the final stages of being reconstituted when the insurrection began, with the veterans of previous Ohmsworld regiments and even a junior Ulthwe Farseer combining their efforts to ready the troops. As such, it was not only at full strength when the Duke announced his secession, it also had expert — if not exceptional — leadership. With aid from the Skitarii, the 12th led the charge into Ohmsworld's primary hive and quickly overwhelmed the Ducal Guards, many of whom were Ohmsworld veterans themselves and subsequently defected to the Imperial forces. More importantly, they managed to seize the Guards' stock of Chimeras, giving Ohmsworld a powerful mobile army. With the easing of pressure on Ohmsworld as the Imperium advances, the 12th has even begun contemplating direct offensive actions, as opposed to the firefighting they had done before. Whether this leads them to glorious victory or fatally overextends their already undersupplied lines, only time will tell.
Home World: Hive World
Commanding Officer: Psyker (Farseer Eldian Sylandriel, provisional/brevet Colonel)
Regiment Type: Mechanised Infantry
Doctrines: Survivalists: Ash Wastes, Scavengers*
Regimental Drawbacks: Poorly Provisioned
Starting Aptitudes: +6 Agility
Starting Talents: Warp Sense, Paranoia, Rapid Reload
Starting Skills: Common Lore: Imperium, Deceive, Linguistics: Low Gothic, Psyniscience, Forbidden Lore: Psykers, Operate: Surface
Starting Aptitude: Agility
Tutelage of Mars (replaces Accustomed to Crowds): The Mechanicus has taken a great deal of interest in Ohmsworld's archaeotech, so while Mars would never officially sanction it, the local techpriests have given the people of Ohmsworld some basic training in technological mysteries to aid them in maintenance. Ohmsworld troopers may offer Aid in Tech-Use tests as if they were trained in Tech-Use, though this bonus goes away if they actually become Trained in Tech-Use. Those who ARE trained in Tech-Use gain +10 to all Tech-Use tests that involve respiratory or air filtration equipment...
Hivebound: Hive worlders seldom endure the horrors of the open sky or suffer the indignities of the great outdoors. Whilst outside of an enclosed or artificial environment (such as a hive city, voidship or similar), they suffer a –10 penalty to all Survival Tests, due to their continued unfamiliarity with such places. Wounds: Characters from this regiment reduce their starting Wounds by 1.
Standard Kit: Universal Standard Kit, one M36 Lasgun and four charge packs per PC, one suit of flak armour per PC, two frag and two krak grenades per PC, 1 Chimera Transport per Squad, one respirator per PC, one micro-bead per PC, one survival suit per PC, one auspex per Squad
Favoured Weapons: Autocannon, grenade launcher
- Special note: Everyone on Ohmsworld knows that scavenging is necessary; as such, scavenging is explicitly allowed by Guard and Munitorum authorities. However, regiments are also under orders to deposit all scavenged materiel into a collective equipment pool; hoarding is very much frowned upon. This doesn't mechanically alter the Scavengers Doctrine, just modify its ingame usage.
The 3rd Special Defence Regiment
As with all things on Ohmsworld, the archaeotech comes first, and even the most vicious assaults often devolves into hand-to-hand combat as all sides struggle desperately to avoid damaging the precious filtration systems. As such, most close-combat specialists present during the rebellion had been consolidated into solely defensive forces. These specialists ranged from press-ganged hivers, to the few Arbites who had survived the Duke's initial purge, to any and all Ogryn on the planet, and — in the case of the 3rd Special Defence Regiment — even maintenance workers skilled at handling heavy tools. Indeed, the leader of the increasingly diverse regiment is herself an Ogryn Bone'ead; 'Boss Foreman' Mogda Gruk took to her implants exceptionally well, with her intelligence even rating slightly above Imperial average. Though astoundingly ugly even by Ogryn standards she is well-loved by the troopers under her command, especially since she seems little changed from her days as foreman for her hive's Ogryn workforce.
Home World: Hive World
Commanding Officer: Maverick (Brevet Colonel Mogda Gruk)
Regiment Type: Siege Regiment
Doctrines: Hardened Fighters, Close Order Drill
Regimental Drawbacks: Poorly Provisioned
Starting Aptitudes: +3 Agility, +3 Perception, +3 Toughness, +2 Weapon Skill, -3 Intelligence
Starting Talents: Paranoia, Resistance: Fear, Street Fighting, Combat Formation, Nerves of Steel
Starting Skills: Common Lore: Imperium, Deceive, Linguistics: Low Gothic, Tech-Use
Starting Aptitude: None
Tutelage of Mars (replaces Accustomed to Crowds): The Maechanicus has taken a great deal of interest in Ohmsworld's archaeotech, and while Mars would never officially sanction it, the local techpriests have given the people of Ohmsworld some basic training in technological mysteries to aid them in maintenance. Ohmsworld troopers may offer Aid in Tech-Use tests as if they were trained in Tech-Use, though this bonus goes away if they actually become Trained in Tech-Use. However, those who ARE trained in Tech-Use gain a +10 bonus to all Tech-Use tests that involve respiratory or air filtration equipment...
Hivebound: Hive worlders seldom endure the horrors of the open sky or suffer the indignities of the great outdoors. Whilst outside of an enclosed or artificial environment (such as a hive city, voidship or similar), they suffer a –10 penalty to all Survival Tests, due to their continued unfamiliarity with such places.
Wounds: Characters from this regiment reduce their starting Wounds by 1.
Standard Kit: Universal Standard Kit, one combat shotgun with a mono bayonet and 8 shotgun magazines per PC, one suit of flak armour per PC, one respirator per PC, four empty sandbags and one entrenching tool per PC, two frag grenades and two photon flash grenades per PC, one auspex per Squad, one micro bead per PC
Favoured Weapons: Heavy flamer, flamer (as delicate as the filters are, they are surprisingly heat-resistant)
Century Omega 7-13
When the Duke announced his secession, the Mechanicus authorities on Ohmsworld immediately decided to move in support of the Imperium — not out of any real love for the Imperium proper, but out of fear that the resources they needed for further research would be cut off. Under most circumstances, they wouldn't even have gone that far — after all, no sane man would cross the Mechanicus. Problem was, the Duke was anything but sane; during secret negotiations between Mars' representatives and the Duke, the latter made it clear that he would brook no opposition nor equal (that Mars would be his superior never seemed to cross his mind). The fact that many hereteks had thrown in their lot with the Duke in exchange for independence and freedom of work only hardened the opinions of Ohmsworld's Mechanicus against them.
Even so, their insurrection was costly, with the already small Skitarii centuries being further depleted to the point where they were eventually consolidated into a single unit. Century Omega 7-13 now functions as a semi-independent organization within Ohmsworld's military; in general, the Magi's goals tend to align with Ohsmworld's, but sometimes they send Omega 7-13 detachments on independent missions, their actual agenda known only to the senior adepts of Mars.
Home World: Lathe Worlds
Commanding Officer: Phlegmatic (Centurion/Magos Rho-1)
Regiment Type: Grenadiers
Doctrines: Cyber-Enhanced, Iron Discipline
Regimental Drawbacks: The Few
Characteristic Modifiers: +3 Intelligence, +3 Ballistic Skill, +3 Toughness
Starting Talents: Bombardier
Starting Skills: Tech-use (Trained), Common Lore: AdMech, Common Lore: Tech, Linguistics: Low Gothic, Linguistics: Techno-Lingua, Logic, Common Lore: Imperial Guard, Common Lore: War
Starting Aptitudes: Willpower
Tutelage of Mars (replaces Isolated by Machines): Gain a +10 bonus to all Tech-Use tests that involve respiratory or air filtration equipment...
The True Flesh: Lathe World characters possess the Mechanicus Implants Trait. In addition, the potentia coil is specifically enhanced to meet the needs of integrated weapons.
Soldiers of the Omnissiah: This regiment cannot include Support Specialists used in other Guard regiments; the Mixed Regiment rules must be used in those cases. Guardsmen from these regiments always count as Techpriests for purposes of prerequisites, regardless of current Speciality or Advanced Speciality. Wounds: Characters from this regiment generate Wounds normally.
Standard Kit: Universal Standard Kit, one Lathe lasrifle with an attached auxiliary grenade launcher weapon upgrade per PC, three krak and two frag grenades per PC, one suit of light carapace armour per Player Character, one deadspace earpiece per PC, one combi-tool per PC, two grenade launchers per Squad, Common bionic respiratory system, bionic heart
Favoured Weapons: Integrated Weapons
Doctrines of the Imperial Guard
In addition to the famed Cadian Doctrine, many regiments have also developed their own unique methods of fighting which have then spread throughout the Imperium. While this is hardly an exhaustive list, it provides a decent look into the sheer diversity of the Guard.
Infiltration doctrine is a light infantry doctrine focused on stealth and mobility. It omits vehicles and heavy artillery from the TO&E almost entirely, relying on crew-served weapons for heavy firepower, which can be dismantled and carried by an infantry squad. On the offence, infiltration regiments use their stealth and lightweight equipment to close with enemy formations undetected and from unexpected directions; once all elements are in position, they launch an overwhelming surprise attack from close range, using their crew-served weapons and snipers to suppress the enemy and ensure they cannot mount an organized defence. On the defense, they use the same qualities for hit-and-run raids, whittling down the enemy and melting away into the night when the enemy tries to bring their firepower to bear.
Infiltration regiments are usually equipped with specialized equipment such as camo-cloaks and night-vision goggles, but these are less important than how the regiment is trained. The nature of their operations require that officers and NCOs be trained to a higher standard of independence than normal, as units as small as squads will often be trusted to maneuver individually in support of the overall objective. This usually cultivates a sense of being elite; combined with the looser chains of command infiltration regiments usually operate with, other regiments usually consider them insubordinate and undisciplined.
In combat, infiltration regiments are used to secure and move through terrain that mechanized regiments cannot. They are also used in combined-arms strategies to scout out enemy positions, assassinate officers, and destroy enemy strongpoints in advance of the main armored thrust. Infiltration regiments also maintain their effectiveness easier in the face of enemy air and orbital superiority thanks to their ability to fight while remaining hidden and dispersed. Finally, infiltration doctrines are popular among PDF forces incapable of maintaining large mechanized armies. As powerful as they are within their specialty, however, their lack of vehicles and artillery makes them perform poorly outside of it.
Armageddon doctrine is a maneuver- and terrain-focused mechanized infantry doctrine. Developed by the Steel Legion in their endless battles against the Orks, Armageddon doctrine TO&E is extremely vehicle-heavy, with sufficient Chimeras to carry the entire regiment, strong organic artillery support, and at least a modest tank detachment. Mechanized scout detachments — Salamanders, Sentinels, and bikes (preferably jet-bikes) — are common, but can also be delegated to other specialized regiments. The Steel Legion itself uses the Outriders for this purpose, but other regiments have alternative solutions. Likewise, organic combat engineering support is common, as are air defense vehicles; Hydras in particular are valued for their ability to sweep aside Ork hordes in addition to aircraft. Soldiers are heavily armored in carapace.
In combat, Armageddon doctrine is often described as 'operationally offensive, tactically defensive'. Using the scout detachment to survey the terrain and enemy dispositions, the regiment seeks to seize vital terrain features before the enemy and fortify it, forcing the enemy to assault a fortified position on a terrain of the Imperium's choosing. To this end, Armageddon-style regiments usually carry copious amounts of barbed wire, mines, and other defensive implements; vehicles are equipped with dozer blades to dig out entrenchments. This is where the engineering detachment comes in. The scout detachment, if present, harasses the enemy on its approach, although this is not a vital component of the doctrine.
At the level of individual squads, Armageddon doctrine emphasizes close cooperation between infantry and armor; full mechanization means each squad has a Chimera, which they are responsible for defending from threats and vice versa.
Few worlds adopt the Armageddon doctrine in full. Although many other mechanized infantry forces adopt its emphasis on mobility, terrain, and forcing of the enemy to attack fortified positions, few worlds can afford to equip their regiments with the same weight of metal as Armageddon and thus do not adopt the full TO&E. In addition, the emergence of the Brain Boy caste has thrown the doctrine into flux; with the Orks no longer throwing themselves as eagerly into near-suicidal charges, the strategy has lost some of its effectiveness. Although the core of the strategy remains sound, the arguments at Steel Legion HQ about how to adapt to a changing galaxy continue long into the night.
Fast Attack Doctrine
A light-armor and occasionally bio-cavalry doctrine focusing on the use of speed and maneuverability as weapons.
There is no standard TO&E for Fast Attack regiments, due to the wide variance in equipment used. Salamander scout tanks, Sentinels, motor- and jet-bikes, a thousand varieties of armored car and riding beasts. A very few forge-worlds even have super-heavy fast-attack companies, equipping tanks as heavy as Baneblades with antigrav units to allow them to keep up with lighter forces.
Whatever the equipment, all Fast Attack units operate similarly: using overwhelming speed to strike at an enemy's weak points before an effective response can be mustered. The 'classic' pattern of attack is to punch straight through the enemy line and rampage through the rear areas, but that is hardly the only tactical possibility. Outflanking maneuvers, hit-and-run raids — speed opens many possibilities.
Fast Attack regiments are usually deployed as part of combined arms strategies, scouting for slower units or exploiting breakthroughs created by heavier ones. On their own, while fast and generally well-armed, they are also more fragile than a true tank unit and lack staying power. This varies, of course; the dynamics of a horse cavalry unit differ from Sentinels and Salamanders, which in turn differ from jet-bikes. But the general principle holds; as with so many other things in the Imperium, there is strength in diversity.
Fast Attack units, like Infiltration units, are often popular among PDF forces which cannot sustain heavy tank formations but can build light tanks and armored cars or breed horses, which contributes to the wide variance of regiments following the doctrine.
Difference between Stormtroopers and Scions
The Tempestus Scion, also colloquially known (somewhat incorrectly) as Stormtroopers, are specialized heavy infantry regiments that are always broken down into smaller units. Once divided into battalions or companies, they are attached to other units within the Imperial Army but can also serve under the Inquisition or Sororitas. The Scions are known for their high dropout rates in the intense training period, but prove in combat at being the best CQC non-melee soldiers in the Imperial Army.
Scions and Stormtroopers differ in role and function within the Imperial army, and thus differ in their training and equipment as a result. Veteran Guardsmen or raw volunteers are first trained and deployed as Stormtroopers in the Imperial Guard. Stormtroopers are only trained to fight in ground wars and are equipped and assigned as such; Stormtroopers are often given the task of assaulting fortifications and clearing buildings. In contrast, Scions are volunteer veteran Stormtroopers who are retrained to fight inside void ships and infiltrate behind enemy lines. The Scions' weapons are unchanged for the most part, but their armor is a lighter version of Stormtrooper armor that can withstand the vacuum of the void.
Stormtroopers are sent to the frontlines as the first ones to clear out bunkers, trenches, and buildings. Missions of that nature mean that Stormtroopers are given the deadly ‘Hellgun’ pattern Lasgun to eviscerate enemies at point-blank range. The Carapace Armor worn by Stormtroopers is the innermost armor worn by Diffusion squads. This armor can prevent shrapnel or shots at less than 50m from disabling the Stormtrooper, allowing them to clear tight spaces in relative safety from explosives and suppressive fire. Apart from these rather remarkable pieces of equipment, Stormtroopers maintain the same basic kit as the typical Guardsman — just with more explosives. The Scions, when first founded, noted that the Carapace Armor accelerated exhaustion and hindered the movement of the user. These two factors played an important role in crippling operators on independent infiltration missions. The Tempestus Scion thus developed the ‘Cephalon Armor’, which was a lighter version of Carapace Armor with the same bodily armor coverage while still being stronger than Flak Armor. Cephalon Armor also comes with a built-in antenna and shoulder mounted pic recorder that a commanding officer can use. Apart from an additional void survival kit. the Scions' basic kits are otherwise almost the same as a Stormtrooper’s.
In terms of equipment, Scions all carry the same Scion basic kit and standard CQC weapons, though they can always carry extra things with them or swap out weapons due to their armor being lighter. This keeps all Scion companies mostly standardized while still maintaining enough flexibility to complete very specific missions. All Scion squads are expected to take on CQC & infiltration missions and equip themselves accordingly.
Stormtroopers, on the other hand, vary greatly from the world to world, just like the Guardsmen regiments they're attached to. All Stormtroopers are expected to be assigned the task of clearing cramped locations and fortifications. How they are trained and equipped to accomplish this changes from regiment to regiment. The Cadian Kasrkins, for example, are made for storming buildings in urban combat while the Cadian Guardsmen maneuver quickly in street fighting. Kreiger Grenadiers, on the other hand, charge at fortifications and trenches en masse before everybody throwing a grenade and jumping inside. Kreiger Grenadiers would hold even more extra grenades than Kasrkins. Hive world Stormtroopers might always carry Meltaguns or Flamers due to the importance of high damage in fast reaction time weapons in urban warfare. Stormtroopers from Feudal worlds, on the other hand, might only have a Lasgun and a single grenade while carrying a shield with several melee weapons. In short, each Stormtrooper detachment is as varied and differentiated as the Guard regiments themselves. The only thing standard is that they all wear some variation of Carapace Armor.
See Scion Regiments
Beastmen and Ogryn
As the Imperium spread its borders past the boundaries of Sol, it rapidly began to encounter new strains of abhumans. Some of these strains were familiar, such as the Navigators and additional tribes of Void Born. Others, such as the Ratlings, Felinids, and Nightsiders, were novel but genetically stable, having mutated through Dark Age of Technology genetic engineering and/or natural evolution - a testament to humanity's hardiness and ability to survive on almost any world.
For the most part, the Steward was unconcerned with admitting these abhuman variants into the Imperium. He already had one abhuman primarch, another nearly so, and he himself was only human in the loosest sense of the word. To him, the abhumans were just one more drop of variation in the great sea of humanity.
However, then the Imperium discovered the Ogryn. And the Beastmen.
Each race presented its own problems for the Imperium. The previous abhuman species were all genetically stable and essentially comparable to baseline humans in intelligence. In contrast, the Ogryn were clearly of subhuman intelligence — being comparable to a mentally handicapped human at best — and behaved and looked like shaved apes more than people, fighting each other with their enlarged canine tusks.
The Beastmen were slightly more intelligent, but more in the manner of an extremely cunning predator than a civilized being. Completely ruled by their instincts and prone to additional mutations, when the Beastmen were discovered by the Imperium their lives were brutish, nasty, and short.
Such was the Steward’s concern that he brought in his highest ranked geneticists and gene-wrights to consult on this matter. At this point in time, the Steward’s various groups of genetic engineers had been merged into Adeptus Biologis, but had not yet adopted the trappings of the Mechanicum of Mars. The nominal head of the Biologis — a former Genesmith — suggested the Ogryn and Beastmen were so unsalvageable that the Steward’s best options were either to wipe them out immediately and resettle the planet with humans of other stock, or otherwise to sterilize them and then resettle the planets in 60 years or so after they had all died out. These suggestions caused considerable consternation among other schools of thought in the Biologis.
The Steward made it abundantly clear that the suggestion of summary genocide on a world under the Imperium’s protection would not be tolerated, and doing so without the Steward’s knowledge was grounds for immediate and summary execution without appeal. The Steward argued the Ogryn and Beastmen were humans. Afflicted humans, yes, but humans all the same. Their ancestors were no different than any other group that Earth had sent to the stars, but were merely dealt a bad hand by the universe through no fault of their own. Eventually, the Steward and the various factions of the Adeptus Biologis reached an agreement. The Biologis would release carefully tailored mutations into the genepools of the Ogryn and Beastmen over thousands of years, until the devolution in intelligence and sanity caused by the Age of Strife could be undone.
As of M41, Ogryn and Beastmen can be split into two broad categories: Primeval and Nova. Primeval Ogryn and Beastmen are rare, existing only on planets that have been just recently rediscovered by the Imperium. They are little different from the Ogryn and Beastmen first encountered by the Imperium in M30. Nova Ogryn and Beastmen vary in intelligence from little better than their Primeval ancestors to levels deemed acceptable to the Imperium (generally comparable to standard human intelligence, or close to it).
Nova Ogryn have lost some of the strength and durability of their ancestors, but in general are much more intelligent (though less so than baseline humans, on average). Combined with external artificial augmentations, such as Biochemical Ogryn Neural Enhancement or “Bonehead Procedure”, some Ogryn officers are entirely comparable to the average human in intelligence.
Nova Beastmen are one of the greatest success stories of the Biologis, along with the Astartes and Necromundan eco-engineering. Out of all the strains of abhuman, the Beastmen benefited the most from genetic engineering — mostly because of how bad they had it to begin with. Some have theorized that the Beastmen were created via crude methods of genetic engineering by splicing in large amounts of non-human DNA (even moreso than other abhumans) during the Dark Age of Technology. When society collapsed during the Age of Strife, there was no way to correct the myriad mutations and glitches that cropped up over the following 10,000 years. Indeed, when the Beastmen were first discovered by the Imperium they were not even recognized as human-descended at first.
Although the Beastmen started off much worse than the Ogryn, their uplifting progressed much faster. The same shoddy genetic engineering that made the Beastmen prone to mutation in the first place meant that the new, more stable genes introduced by the Adeptus Biologis became established across the population very quickly. As of M41, all Nova Beastmen are essentially of average human intelligence and, as previously stated, any Primeval Beastmen in M41 are all from very recently discovered worlds. Nevertheless, despite their dramatically more stable genome, Beastmen still suffer a slightly higher rate of mutation than the rest of the Imperium. No one is sure if the tendency towards mutations is due to the Biologis trying a little too hard to correct the flaws in the Beastmen genome or the Ruinous Powers trying to taint any long-term victory on the part of the Imperium.
The Adeptus Biologicus might have gone a little overboard in trying to keep the instincts of the Beastmen in check; as opposed to their Primeval brethren, Nova Beastmen tend to be rather solemn and dour, though this may be because they know how far they have climbed and how deep the pit they were lifted out of was. Their sense of duty and debt is second only to that of Krieg, but thankfully for the Imperium’s sake the Beastmen are much less suicidal. Promethean beliefs tend to be widespread among the Beastmen. The Nova Beastmen have not lost all of the bestial instincts of their kin, however; Beastmen often speak of a “Weakness of the Beast” to refer to any behavior that seems to be driven by instinct or base desire, one of the few societal ideas they may have picked up from the Adeptus Biologicus. Nova Beastmen in general also tend to have much sharper senses than baseline humans, and are valued even in otherwise all-baseline regiments as scouts and trackers.
Beastmen and Ogryn Society
Nova Ogryn tend to live under a tribal or clan-like structure of governance. There are perhaps dozens of worlds whose inhabitants come under the broad category of Ogryn, and each world can have a thousand different tribal groups, each with their own individual set of traditions. Nevertheless, there do exist some similarities. Common to most tribes are a leading Patriarch, some paternal ancestor of a large proportion of the tribe, and the presence of a Wise Woman. Sometimes this Wise Woman the chief’s mother, sometimes his wife, sometimes it's not a woman at all but just someone with good judgement. A priest/shaman position is also common in most tribes for matters of spiritual significance and dealing with supernatural phenomena (which usually boils down to “leave it alone and tell the nearest adept”). Sometimes the tribe might be blessed/cursed with a Witch/Warlock who has psychic powers. Psychic Ogryn do exist. They used to be rarer than in the baseline gene pool, but now exist in the same proportion as baseline humanity. This may be a side effect of the increase in cognitive ability or by using baseline human genes to uplift the Ogryn.
Although Ogryns are typically not as smart as baseline humans, they are generally smarter than people expect. The officers with BONE implants can fluently converse in High Gothic about all manner of matters both practical and philosophical, and are invariably literate. But that's because they were already the brightest of the bright even before the bio-crystalline Cortex Technology was inserted into their brain. The average Ogyrn can learn to maintain an extra-large laser rifle by rote, can understand contractual obligations (although they will sign said contract with an X), and has enough brains to follow orders and even understand quite complex strategy — provided it's explained slowly with small words and you get them to repeat it back to you just to make sure. Ogryn are also known to be fiercely loyal and honorable. It's a bloody strange day when an Ogryn breaks their word.
Nova Beastmen, on the other hand, tend to form rigid military hierarchies when left to form their own societies. This is not due to any intrinsic inclination to do so, as opposed to baseline humanity and the various cultures thereof, but more because any governmental structure that doesn’t encourage iron-hard discipline tends to implode within a few years. Their inner animal is still very close to the surface, and their increased cognitive faculties haven’t tamed it in the slightest. Beastmen societies are ruled by philosopher-kings called Brahmins, who tend to exemplify everything that the Beast is not. More of a high judge than a war chief, Brahmins are seemingly at odds with the otherwise militarized nature of Beastmen society, but a wise and solemn individual that will not give in to base desires and passions proves to be an excellent leader for those who may.
Another notable feature of Beastman society are Aurochs, the warrior-champions of Beastman society. These huge warriors are about the size and strength of Astartes, but overall tend to be much less effective for several reasons. First, Aurochs make up a vanishingly small proportion of the Beastmen population and thus cannot reliably be mass produced. Secondly, Aurochs lack all of the advantages beyond sheer strength that make Space Marines so lethal. Finally, Aurochs cannot use standardized equipment. Because of their rarity, armor and weaponry often have to be individually crafted; most Imperial helmets are unable to fit over their horns and even normal Beastmen helmets being too small for them.
The Nightsider is a catchall term for a grouping of sub-species adapted for a specific type of environment without any common origin beyond that of any other human group. They are native to many worlds of the Imperium, such as Praetoria, Calth (from the transplanted population of dead Posul), Equixus, at least one world in the Carcharodon recruitment area, and many others. Typically, they are a pale breed adapted to living on worlds either with no light or additional environmental conditions that make dwelling in the light substantially detrimental. Such reasons can include, but are not limited to, the planet having unusually harmful sunlight, extreme daytime predation or population pressure, or isolation in the dark lands of tidally-locked worlds. Worlds populated entirely by Nightsiders are rare (but not unprecedented), as they would require an environment where regular humans could not survive, and such worlds typically can't maintain global environmental conditions that would allow a population of humans or near-humans to survive at all.
Although disparate in origin, the Nightsiders of the Imperium share common features which are partly necessitated by their environment and partly derived from a standardized Dominion era gene-template; Large dark eyes, a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and nails, the ability to synthesize vitamin D in the liver, and a very slightly lower optimal body temperature. Due to their native environments often being lower in available energy, Nightsiders often form smaller social structures based on extended family bonds, typically numbering no more than twenty or thirty individuals operating over a wide area dictated by availability of resources. To this end, the Nightsiders are also often fiercely territorial in nature. This borderline anti-social nature is assumed to be more cultural than biological, as they have been integrated into the Imperial Army with little additional problems after the first few months when they realize that the meals are regular and predictable, although even then they tend to form groups among themselves and disperse evenly within the regiment.
Nightsiders are as intelligent as baseline humanity and so have never qualified for AdBio uplifting like the Beastmen and Ogryn strains. Although they were often found in primitive conditions by the Imperium, this is typically a result of finding a long term equilibrium with their direct environmental needs; usually a lack of available food prevented work specialization and the larger social projects that result. In all cases, efforts of the Missionarius Galaxia, especially the Orders Sabine, have resulted in varying degrees of successful pacification and introduction to true civilization.
The introduction to the civilization of the Imperium's light has gone smoothest in places where the local populations could be persuaded to accept the tithe willingly. The Nightsiders are human; they do not gladly eat the slain of their own kind or kill off excess population in times of greatest need, but they did so nevertheless in the name of survival. The tithe offers a way out, as excess population is sent out into the galaxy and send their pay home in the form of nutri-paste and tinned foods, and when they return they have had the habits of good order trained into them, which they spread to the rest of their kindred. This cultural influence over the generations has resulted in them adopting Imperial technology willingly as barter and trade for their services, rather than as the recipients of charity. Charity they would not tolerate, as they seldom care for the pity of outsiders (a term typically used to mean anyone that is not part of their family group). By this helping hand, the Imperium reaches out to them rather than reaching down to them, and in doing so all may rise up higher as allies and friends.
In the Imperial guard, Nightsiders typically make very good target spotters for artillery and patrol squad removers. The ways of hunting are often a second nature to them, and all good commanders know how best to take advantage of this.
Despite long term introduction into the wider Imperium, the various Nightsider cultures have retained many of the more "primitive-seeming" rituals and customs of their ancestors, at least partly because, like all ab-humans, they maintain an "us and them" mentality based on the very obvious and noticeable differences between themselves and the teeming masses of other humanities. This is encouraged for the most part as it binds their social order, and so long as they retain pride in their social identity whilst understanding that the Imperium places due worth in them based on their skills and contributions, they are less tested by the whispers of more terrible things. Due to their extremely family based social structures the prevailing religious trends tend towards the worship of ancestors and ancestor spirits, although due to their disparate nature this is not always the case and great variation has been noted.
Many human strains, both baseline and abhuman, express apprehension towards Nightsiders, often because their strange habits and dark sclera give them an uncanny valley effect. Ironically, many xenos species find Nightsiders to appear more personable than regular humans (at least in appearance; their behavior often having the same off-putting effect), white sclera being virtually unique amongst humanity and its component subspecies in the galaxy, with some xenos even admitting that the white sclera of human eyes can be creepy in their eyes.
The Ratling strain of humanity — or Ornsworlder as many of them prefer to be called — is a variety of abhuman. Unlike many other abhuman strains, however, Ratlings are native to only one world: Ornsworld. The planet Ornsworld was founded sometime between the later years of M6 and the early days of M7, according to the radioactive decay of a can of irradiated waste on the largest moon and by the local legends of the mighty hero "Orn of Many Tales". Orn was a mighty warrior and fearless explorer of the First Stellar Exodus, so the tales tell, who headed a colony fleet and braved the uncharted deeps of space in early ships of imperfect design. Many places on the surface of the planet hold the name of Orn; the great mesa of Orn's Table, the immense cavern system of Orn's Burrow, the ancient water filled impact crater of Orn's Bath, and the escarpment of Orn's Headstone, the foot of which is reputedly the site of Orn's Grave. Due to the rarity of surviving records of this era independent proof of Orn existing remain undiscovered. All Ratlings claim descent from Orn, though if he ever did exist then it is inevitable that they are correct due to the passage of time and isolation during the Age of Strife. From this stage of development up until the Age of Strife it is believed that the Ornsworlders did not deviate noticeably from the baseline human form. The role of Ornsworld in the days of, and days prior to, the Great and Bountiful Human Dominion is unknown, as records of that era of Ornsworld have not survived.
At the onset of the Age of Strife, in the first days of the Iron War of which dark legends tell the fell deeds of, Ornsworld fared better than most. Some have suggested that the locals had slightly Luddite tendencies and thus did not trust thinking machines that thought as men thought. Others have pointed out rusted remains in the mountains of the south above where glaciers once roamed, where Iron Folk sat in the caves, their alloy shells still sitting where they died though their hearts have long since decayed beyond possibility of reanimation. Others again point out that human bones were found alongside them, and that there is no evidence that they died in violence. Whatever the cause or evidence thereof, it seems that the most sophisticated Men of Iron never made it to Ornsworld and as such Ornsworld had neither an Iron Mind nor a Man of Gold. There is also no isotopic residue in the soil layers from this time to indicate that the sudden Ice Age was anything but either a natural occurrence or a long delayed hiccup of the original terraforming efforts.
The Ice Age would have been correctable with the subtle application of solar reflectors and atmospheric tweaking that was common enough practice for Dominion era habitation, but although Ornsworld had been spared the worst of the Iron War it did not come out unmarred; the planet's industry was in ruins and beyond a few weather monitoring and communication satellites the planet had no space presence. The world slipped into the cold and its inhabitants could do nothing to stop it.
There is debate in the leafy halls of the AdBio if the physiological changes that started in this dwindling age of isolation were the result of intentional engineering, to better survive the new and sorrowful age, or were a result of natural adaptation to the conditions of that age. Some point out that the alterations couldn't have occurred that fast across the entire global population, especially when considering the alterations to the digestive system and the bones in the hands and feet. Others point out that by the time that the Iron War started genetic tempering was already present in the population of the entire planet, bar a few puritan holdouts, and that with a broader pallet available the beneficial structures could have stabilized in a mere handful of generations (i.e. natural processes built from semi-artificial components). Whatever the cause, the result was a deviation that was sufficient to have them declared beyond the normal levels of variation found in the baseline population. Such changes include a hand with three fingers and two thumbs, a similarly structured foot, unusual neural architecture in the parietal lobe resulting in a high tolerance for physical pain, the stomach being divided into two separate organs, and a proportionally larger and more functional appendix. The shorter and on average slightly broader stature would not be enough on its own to have them classed as abhuman, as many pygmy populations are not classed as such. It is said that Ratlings have a better sense of smell, but this has been proven incorrect beyond normal human variation. Ratlings do, however, posses better hand to eye coordination, which slightly but measurably surpasses the human norm when the whole population is taken into account.
The deviations were ideal for them to have at least a little bit of an edge in the food scarce and cold environment that their world had become. As a society they could have gone two ways: increased competition or greater cooperation. In the case of the Children of Orn they would not forsake their bonds of common humanity and kinship, and did not turn on each other, preferring instead to ration carefully what they had and huddle together in the dark for warmth; they would die as people rather than live as beasts. In time what few technological artifacts they had preserved failed and they had not the skills or tools to repair or replace them. Thus the Ornsworlders became a rustic and simpler people.
No cold spell can endure forever, even one as soul crushing and lingering as the great winter, and spring came at last in the late part of the twenty-ninth millennium. By the time that the fledgling Imperium found them, the glaciers were retreating miles at a time each summer and regaining no ground in milder winters. The people of Ornsworld, long since accustomed to making do with little, were in an age of plenty and underwent a golden age of rapid expansion in those fresh green years, as miles of new farmland opened before them year after year and great joy was had that their old fairy stories had come true; the people Orn was born to had come at last again to their world, the Tall Folk of Earth. No age of expansion can continue indefinitely, and the Ratlings found an equilibrium in time with their new and verdant world, tending to its great green glacial valleys lovingly. They knew the value of what they, by the grace of their gods, had. By the time such stability was reached, they had already managed to acquire a little bit of a reputation with the Imperium at large; by their first impressions, of being fond of food and drink and prone to large families.
In the years after the Ornsworlders served the Imperium dutifully and provided many fine marksmen and regimental cooks, as well as food stuffs. They were a well-loved people, gentle and kind and full of good sense and down-to-earth wisdom. Their friends were many as they tended to be generous and always possessed a delightfully infectious laughter. The Imperium was their golden age.
The golden age did not last. Dominion records were found in the 12th Black Crusade by a Chaos Lordling — Eidolon Ever-Burning — of an artifact of on Ornsworld known as the Eye of Night. It was not an artifact of Dominion made but something far more ancient that they had unearthed, that was said to be able to destroy complex mortal technology great and small, fragile or robust. He descended upon peaceful Ornsworld like a great dragon made of fire, and like an inferno reduced all he touched to cinders and ash as he took the Eye from its hiding place in a deep and flooded cave. Hideous as his presence was, he vanished soon enough with his prize. But the resistance had been stiffer than expected, and the Children of Orn were weakened now. Like sharks to spilled blood, other creatures came to the weakened world as the Imperium was hamstrung and distracted by the rest of a greater war.
When the Imperium managed to scrape the resources to send a force to Ornsworld, it was far too late. Gone were the songs in the halls of the thanes, the laughter was silent, and all that was to be found were the bodies; arranged in great patterns of Chaotic offering, lying where they had fallen in the hunts, or mutilated and thrown on sacrificial heaps. Those joyful smiles were twisted into expressions of fear and pain. Only Chaos Spawn moved on the blighted and tainted land. The Ratlings had been exterminated to the last child.
There were Ornsworlders in the forces that landed in the fresh ashes. Their tears were bitter and sorrowful beyond words, and that sorrow was turned to a cold and terrible wrath. It might seem amusing that a branch humanity that seemed built for peace could be so angry, and maintain that anger — colder than the deeps of space — for so long. But they can, and it seems like it should be an impotent rage, but it is not. A call was put out by the head chef of one of the regiments that landed, a dreadful and terrible message whispered from astropath to scribe and passed on across the Imperium. All the sons and daughters of Orn were to come home.
The fields were made green again, trees grew again from the ashes on the mass graves, and from a distance perhaps Ornsworld would look like all was how it was. But those happy songs are now songs of war and retribution. The sons and daughters of that world look to the stars no longer in hope but in hate. The law of conscription has been restricted, as were it not too many would heed the war drums that beat in their hearts. People look at Ratlings and are unimpressed, and remain unimpressed until they start racking up a body count. A length of spider-silk, once sold to off-world merchants in bolts and dresses for princesses, is now carried by every Ratling soldier, and can cut a neck all the way to the bone. Those clever hands and keen eyes, once used to carve and paint things of beauty, now put those skills to a greater, bloody work in their service to the Guard and Ornsworld; Ratling marksmen are famed and feared across half the galaxy, as they move swiftly and quietly, and kill without hesitation or remorse. They are owed a blood-price. A price that could only be measured in the depths of their oceans of shed tears.
The world of Orn and its inhabitants are a very unexpected terror that stalks the stars in the dying of the forty-first millennium. Their roused anger is all the more terrible for how unexpected it was. Although the Eye of Night was undoubtedly a great boon to the forces of Chaos, it might not be worth what has risen against them.
Weapons of the Imperium
The first instances of las-weapon technology came from Terra itself. Thought to be a recreational weapon used in mock battles during the Dark Age of Technology, at that time these las-weapons beams had the power of 4mm stubber pellets, thus even thick cloth was effective armor against it. These relics were present on Terra and other worlds during the Warlord Era, but it was the Emperor who reshaped it to become a lethal weapon. The Emperor’s scouts had presented him with some prototype weapons while preparing for the unification with Mars. One such weapon was a proto-Lascarbine that was superior to stubber carbines in all but firepower. The Las beams still had the power of a 4mm stubber pellet, thus the Emperor - in his intelligence - recrafted the weapon so that it fired with the power of an 8mm stubber round. The Lascarbine first saw service as a replacement for the Autorifles, which were the standard weapon for the Imperial Army at the time, in the unification of the Sol system. Next were the Laspistols, which were designed to replace the stubber pistols. The mass use of Las-weapons found that Lascarbine barrels started to warp after ~5,000 shots, and the Laspistol barrels warped after ~2,000 shots. When these barrels warped, what would have been unmodified hitscan fire devolved into looser and inaccurate beams, such that Guardsmen had to fire two or more times in the same place to hit. Even worse, when the Laspistol barrels warped, soldiers had to fire at point-blank range to hit their targets at all.
The Imperial Army Handheld Weapons Development Bureau would develop the Lasgun in response, which featured a longer barrel and limited the power to 7.9mm stubber round strength. The iron sights of the weapon were changed to allow attachable optics, and a stock was added for increased accuracy. The first Lasguns were deployed to the front during the Hunting Era, where it was noted that these weapons had effectively the same firepower as the Lascarbines but the barrels didn’t warp until after ~10,000 shots. When the Apostasy Era started Guardsmen on both sides reported that Lascarbines and Lasguns in night-time fighting left noticeable muzzle flashes, thus making the shooter an easy target. The Weapons Development Bureau would again work on the Lasgun and Lascarbine just after the Apostasy Era, creating the attachable flash suppressor, for better night-time combat, and the light attachable stock for the Lascarbine.
There was no such thing as a standardized armor used by the Imperial Army during the Great Crusade. The closest thing to such a concept came in the form of the Solar Pattern Void Armor, used widely by the Solar Auxilia, but that was a carapace-reinforced void suit rather than Flak Armor as we know it today. The first documented instances of what could be considered Flak Armor was when Cadian Shock Troops started equipping soldiers en masse with light anti-shrapnel armor near the end of the Great Crusade. Cadian officers found that when Cadian Guardsmen attacked entrenched positions on the battlefield, most of their losses sustained were from artillery or random bits of debris thrown into the air by artillery. The different regiments from Cadia phased out the traditional metal plate armor for Flak Armor, and thus all future campaigns used Flak Armor once manufactorums switched production lines right before the War of the Beast.
The breastplate, shoulder pauldrons, knee plates, and greaves all use the same material and layering. The fabric connecting the armor is much weaker and lacks any sort of plating. Most of the actual armor in Flak Armor uses an inner layer of shock absorbent gel, with metal plating between the gel and outer ceramic layer. All three of these layers are connected and interwoven with carbon-fibers, metal-fabrics, and nylon fabrics, forcing the layers to stay together under most conditions. The ceramic plate was designed to deflect shrapnel, or at least cause it to be stuck in the plate. The metal layer was emplaced to stop lasbolts or stubber rounds from fully penetrating through the armor, in case the shot passed the ceramic plate. The gel is present as either a last ditch effort to stop shrapnel from fully penetrating the armor or to prevent internal bleeding after receiving a direct hit. The fabric of Flak Armor is made from a variety of different carbon-fibers, metal fabrics, and thick cloths, to prevent shrapnel from cutting through or a blade from tearing it. Flak Armor helmets have considerably more armor, tending to have extra metal plating to ensure that not all shots to the head are fatal and random falling debris don't kill the Guardsman.
The first major combat test of Flak Armor was seen in the War of the Beast. On the front lines, Flak Armor proved to be basically ineffective in protecting against Ork weaponry; the Orks had used unusually large stubber rounds, up to but not limited to 10 or 12mm, that would slice right through Flak plating. However, what would otherwise be considered deadly Ork rockets would often fail to kill Guardsmen, even with flame ammo, as the Flak Armor was more than enough protection against most Ork rocketry short of city-block-levelling size. Crone Eldar and Dark Eldar weapons, of both Saw and Splinter ammo types, likewise had difficult times penetrating Flak plating unless there was a concentrated barrage of fire, as even the Flak plating can only protect against so much. When the Fallen first turned on Imperial Army elements, bolters were used for the first time against Flak Armor. The bolter rounds would often penetrate Flak plating, only to cleanly exit out on the other side and then explode. If the Guardsman was lucky they would still be alive after the ordeal. When a Guardsman was even luckier, the bolter round would be deflected off of Flak plating altogether and explodes prematurely in mid-air, meaning that unless the deflected round exploded in their face the shrapnel would be mostly harmless. The flexibility, simplicity, and cheapness of producing Flak Armor instead of Void suits led to many Imperial worlds adopting the Flak Armor. Production quotas meant resources were limited in the total economic mobilization that happened during the War of the Beast, making the simple and affordable Flak Armor even more popular.
During the Apostasy, Imperial Guard regiments openly fought against one another, resulting in the first use of Flak Armor against massed artillery. Regiments would launch massive formations to charge at entrenched opposing Guardsmen, who were themselves well prepared for such an attack. The defenders would fire blinding volleys of artillery shells to delay the charge. The Flak Armor proved a Guardsman could survive an artillery barrage, and short of a direct hit right next to their feet the Guardsman would be fine (if the shockwave from the explosion didn’t destroy their bodily organs, that is). Artillery barrages could now only slow down attacks from Guardsmen thanks to Flak Armor. Several field modifications were noted to have been used by regiments during the Apostasy, including extra cloth to prevent shrapnel from easily slicing the joints. Similarly, thicker ceramic plates are often used by veteran Guardsmen against Orks to at least survive glancing shots from Ork stubbers, and regiments constantly facing Crone or Dark Eldar are deployed with extra metal layered into their Flak Armor to prevent enemy fire from penetrating Flak plating.
All modern varieties of bolter, from the humble workhorse that is the mainstay of the Space Marine legions to the bolt pistol used by baseline humans, are at least partially influenced by a design created by the Emperor of Mankind himself. Believe it or not, bolters were originally not that important a part of ancient humanity’s arsenal. This can be seen in the nature of warfare in the 41st millennium, as warfare in the 41st millennium almost resembles that of pre-gunpowder humanity, with a heavy focus on armor and the viability of melee combat. Humanity’s weapons of choice during the Dark Age of Technology were Volkite guns and Adrathic disintegrators, neither of which armor offered much protection against. Military tactics during this period would have been more familiar to older groups of humans (potentially as far back as M2) than their descendants, with a greater emphasis on utilizing cover and avoiding fire than melee combat. Knowledge of how to make advanced armor survived the Age of Strife better than similar knowledge of weaponry, shifting the advantage to armor over arms and making melee combat viable again. Bolters only entered into the military sphere much later in the Dark Age of Technology, believed to have been a weaponized version of a power tool, after it was noticed how well they performed against Orks, other high-durability xenos, and rogue Men of Iron and other Silica Animus.
The Emperor had contributed to the reinvention of the bolter back before he was the Emperor, before he was the Steward, even before he was the Warlord, but when he was merely Oscar of the Terrawatt Clan. The Terrawatt Clan was a technocracy, with societal standing and authority being based on one’s inventiveness and research productivity, and if one could not prove their mental ability there was no way for them to advance in status. Embarking on a project that advanced Terrawatt’s sum of knowledge in some way was a common coming of age ritual in the country, and although he saw himself as artificial and a shadow of humanity, Oscar wanted to be viewed slightly less as Malcador's trophy taken from the ruins of Chthonia and slightly more as a person.
Oscar chose as his project the reverse-engineering of an old ballistics weapon that had been uncovered some centuries before by expeditions from Terrawatt into the deserts of the former Tharkian Empire (specifically, the province of Anatolia). The weapon’s systems had been fouled by sand and half of its components were missing, but Oscar managed to piece together enough of its workings to construct a working replica sized to his frame, or at least fill in enough of the missing pieces to construct a model that actually worked. This would be the precursor of the Astartes pattern boltgun, and explains - among other things - why the prototype bolter was already built for someone of an Astartes’ size.
The Theologiteks were impressed, and Oscar was proud of his creation (not to mention happy to have a weapon that didn’t feel like a child’s toy in his hands), eventually taking the prototype as his sidearm when he embarked to reunify Old Earth. The gun faithfully served as his sidearm for many years, before finally failing some two hundred years after the Battle of Terra in about 700.M31. Oscar was saddened by the loss, seemingly one more aspect of his life that seemed to be eroding away, but the remains of the so-called ‘father of bolters’ survived and remains enshrined to this day in the museum in the Imperial Palace.
Originally, the Warlord’s armies of Thunder Warriors were armed with Volkite weaponry and autoguns, but as the numbers of augmented warriors grew and Volkite weapons were gradually lost to attrition, three-quarters of the Warlord’s soldiers were armed with bolters about the time the Thunder Legions were being phased out in favor of the Legio Astartes. Volkite weaponry may have been more powerful and autoguns were cheap, but bolters were reliable, relatively powerful (unlike autoguns), and more importantly their workings were well-understood and could be easily replicated (unlike Volkite weapons).
The Warlord was not the only individual to reverse engineer the secrets of the bolter. Other human nations during the Age of Strife had come to the same conclusion regarding the bolter’s reliability and ease of production, and the Imperium encountered other models of bolters on places like Mars, the Hubworld League, and the Auretian Technocracy, several of which were based on actual STC designs. Information from these designs was assimilated by the Imperium to create a syncretic design that improved upon the initial Astartes pattern (Oscar, to his embarrassment, had gotten some of his assumptions wrong and had replaced several missing systems with slightly more inefficient versions he had created from scratch). However, not all bolter designs were equally optimal in all situations, with some performing better at certain tasks than others. Eventually, a wide array of bolter types proliferated throughout the Imperium, ranging from the numerous variants of the Astartes pattern, in which the initial kick from the propellant recoil is enough to break an unaugmented human’s arm, to the smaller bolt pistol commonly used by commissars, which trades caliber size and rate of fire for recoil to the point that it can be used by normal humans.
By approximately early M34, enough principles of miniaturization had been rediscovered to downsize the traditional full-size Astartes bolter to the Godwin-De’az Pattern. Nevertheless, despite this miniaturization the recoil still made it almost impossible for normal humans to use unless you were genetically enhanced, were wearing powered armor, or from Catachan or the Hubworld League. For many years the Godwin-De’az pattern occupied an awkward position for many years, being too large to be used by most Guardsmen yet too small in caliber to be an efficient weapon for Astartes. However, this all changed after the founding of the Adeptus Securitas and the Sisters of Battle in M36, who, with their enhanced strength, found this intermediate-sized bolter almost perfect for their needs. Indeed, the name Godwin-De'az came about as a reference to Sister De'az, the Nocturnean Sister who was the first successful recipient of the augmentations used by the Sisters of Battle. Before that, they were merely referred to as "miniaturized Bolters" due to their scarcity. Godwin-De'az bolters are much more common in the Imperium now, mostly due to their use by the Securitas.
The invention of the precursor to the modern bolter is perhaps one of the achievements the Emperor is most proud of. It was not something created by Oscar, the Man of Gold, nor Oscar, the Warlord of Earth, but by Oscar, the person, in the name of the betterment of his species.
Leman Russ Tank
“We should've waited for the Fenrisian ale before rushing here just to find half a tractor. At least we'd've something that would lift the mens' spirits after such a disappointment.”
— Primarch Leman Russ, post-Imperial Compliance of Nova Borilia.
THE REGIMENTAL STANDARD: A HISTORY OF THE LEMAN RUSS TANK
In today's battlefield, almost all of the armed forces flying Imperial banners have either used or fought alongside the Leman Russ Battle Tank. Many view it with great relief, no longer having to be at the forefront of an advance on fortified positions. Others call it their “ride”. And some view the Leman Russ as an inelegant and ugly hunk of metal that conceals brutal effectiveness and resilience worthy of the name. Its treads have rolled over thousands of battlegrounds, and its guns have obliterated many a foe. Yet one wonders where the seeds for this venerable war machine were sown. If you have had the same question that we at the Regimental Standard did then read on, fellow historians, as we detail the venerable history of the Leman Russ Tank.
The Leman Russ Battle Tank, and its subsequent and numerous variants, originates from the early days of the Great Crusades. The tank itself is not to be confused with Primarch Leman Russ, who discovered it on Nova Borilia when rumors of an STC for a tank dating from the Dark Age of Technology drew his attention to the campaign against the Noman xenos' planetary empire, which was already marked for destruction as Xenos Horrificus due to its brutal enslavement of the local human population and violent refusal of all diplomatic attempts. Fortunately, resistance was broken after a series of engagements that saw the Nomans and a disobedient slave army reeling from the hard hitting tactics of the Space Wolves and accompanying Solar Auxilia attachments. For the expeditionary forces, what they salvaged from the last Noman stronghold was an immense let down.
The STC was, in fact, the fragments of a blueprint for an all-terrain tractor that started production sometime before the Age Of Strife, not the weapon the intel had suggested. Presumably it had been mistaken for a valuable human relic, and so it was situated in the most secure collection in the Noman fortress.
But the Imperial Army would not be denied their tank, and in the span of a decade several components of the discovery were incorporated into a new design, christened the Leman Russ Battle Tank, Mark I. It set a gyrostabilized Battle Cannon turret on top of a ceramite and plasteel hull with a steel-sprung suspension, while a complex transmission mated to an enormous twin-turbocharged V12 multi-fuel HL230 engine gave it a top speed of 80 km/h and 40 km/h off-road (widely considered ludicrous for a tracked vehicle twice as tall as a Space Marine). This ability was used to great effect, as commanders swung behind enemy positions and unloaded rounds into petty tyrants and slavers.
However, as the Imperium expanded further and encountered tougher opposition, the Leman Russ proved inadequate. Its main gun struggled to defeat more heavily-armored horrors and what was left often outmaneuvered the Leman Russ, and breakdowns ranging from burnt out turbocharger components to transmission failures intensified a growing logistics headache. This led to the replacement of the Mk. I with the Mk. II-V, similar variants that traded mobility for protection and ease of maintenance by bolting on armor, dropping the forced-induction chargers, and, in the case of the Mk. IV and V, switching to a simpler transmission. This was deemed acceptable, as the Imperium couldn't afford the best equipment possible for all its soldiers in the immediate aftermath of the War of the Beast.
That is not to say desperation did not proliferate the loaded idea of 'innovation'. During and after the War of the Beast, new variants were hurriedly fitted with crew-operated sponsons to add anti-infantry firepower, and while still inferior to the Land Raider-killing Vanquisher Cannon, a long-barrelled Battle Cannon increased muzzle velocity and was easier to mass-produce. Later, more improvements filtered through, like a hydropneumatic suspension and lifted armor skirts that allowed the road wheels freedom of movement and together provided better acceleration and a more stable firing platform. Other changes included light, replaceable composite rectangles attached to the sides (sanctioned for Chimera variants and Salamanders after APC crew entrepreneurs decided they too wanted more armor) and a set of wide-angle optics that replaced the glass visor slit in the driver's hatch and made it possible to drive the tank and fire the hull weapon without switching seats or controls.
The Mk. XVII, created in the late 36th millennium, was supposed to use a scaled-down version of the Malcador Heavy Tank's electric drive system. You will never see this outside the Mechanicus' basements.
The Mk. XXIV Leman Russ Battle Tank is the most recent variant (see Remembrancer's sketch at left), created in response to reports of a spike in Leman Russ losses due to an increased prevalence of Crone Eldar and Necron tank analogues. The Imperial Couple had put pressure on Mars and the Fabricator-General to either keep the venerable tank a viable part of the Imperial Guard armory or risk losing further contracts to Forge Worlds unaligned with Mars' branch of the Adeptus Mechanicus, many of whom were experimenting with unsanctioned tank designs. This was enough incentive to finally push the program into its final field tests and evaluation stage.
It carries over the extremely sloped frontal turret and glacis present since the Mk. XX, but replaces the original hull weapon's swivel mount with a ball mount in a smaller housing. To address the vulnerability of the Leman Russ to being flanked, particularly in urban warfare, the tank hull went from being 4.42 meters tall to a flatter profile 3.3 meters high. The front-facing plates of the widened and extended turret are angled to better resist side shots, and the Battle Cannon magazines were relocated to the back of the turret, so an ammo cook-off wouldn't be surrounded by critical systems and the crew. Blow-off vents further increase the chances a disabled Mk. XXIV can escape without Atlas recovery vehicles being put at risk, and two sponsons utilizing cogitators based off the Predator's and Tarantula Sentry Turret's are managed by a remote gunner seated by the driver. Lastly, a refined version of the Great Crusade's forced-induction setup and a weight reduction of 5 tons have allowed the Leman Russ to regain the nimbleness of the Mk. I, without the original's notorious mechanical problems.
While the newest Leman Russ might still be recognizable to an Imperial officer of the 30th millennium, it is not the same war machine your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents used. Keep an eye out for those shiny new Mk. XXIVs, and remember to report any issues to your commanding officer or a Commissar!
Psycannons and the Psi-Disruptor
Justinian and Theodora were the Man of Gold and Iron Mind of the Sol System, based out of Earth and Mars respectively. When the Age of Strife happened, and the Men of Gold and Iron Minds were driven mad by seeing that which was not meant to be seen, Justinian and Theodora waged demented war on each other first in the grips of their madness. Ironically, the fact that the two of them killed each other off so early in the Iron War meant that the Sol System was spared the worst excesses of the Age of Strife, and thus had more working Dark Age technology lying around compared to a place like Cthonia, whose inner face was sterilized when someone induced the star it orbited to go supernova. Of course, this isn't to say that either Justinian or Theodora were in a healthy state of mind at the time; Justinian may have gone for Theodora first, but he was still psychotically insane and destroyed everything and everyone in his way to get to his goal, while concurrently Theodora targeted Earth with orbital bombardments and scrapcode. The descendants of the technicians that attended to Justinian and Theodora, in a very roundabout way, became the ancestors of the Terrawatt Clan and the Martian Mechanicum, though the Mechanicum accomplished this in a more indirect fashion in that the technicians of the Iron Mind were integrated into the general population whilst Mars more broadly devolved into technology worshipping cults (of which the future Mechanicum was but one of many) after the destruction of Mars' terraformed biosphere.
In order to kill Theodora, Justinian built a device known as the psi-disruptor, a device designed and optimized for killing Iron Minds. One can point it at a lesser mortal and pull the trigger to some effect, though said effects can vary from anywhere between a noticeable headache all the way up to total bodily disruption. The device draws on the psychic potential of the wielder, and so can only be used by an active psyker. The one made and used by Justinian was built to such a scale that it was only usable by Men of Gold. The higher end of baseline psykers could presumably wield Justinian's psi-disruptor to an extent, but the list of such talented candidates is very short, and as the Imperium only has one such weapon they aren't willing to risk the destruction of such a powerful device on such meagre speculation, so inquiries in this direction remain fruitless. This device would later be taken out of the doomsday vaults of the Mechanicum and used by the Steward to strike down the Rangda Abomination when it became clear that conventional options were just not enough.
The original psi-disruptor gun is contained in the low-risk section on Ganymede. Psycannons are thought to be in some way derived from the study of the original device; a much cruder weapon, but one that can be made using currently available technology. Creation of the Psycannon is attributed to the founding of the Grey Knights, though to one of Magnus' students rather than the Primarch himself. Magnus the Red was without peer amongst humanity in terms of daemon-lore and warp studies, but neither he nor Russ were very good with machinery.
The downsides to Justinian’s psi-disruptor are that it takes a huge amount of time to charge up and is very easy to dodge, but if you’re fighting an Iron Mind — whose physical forms and central processing units are quite literal building complexes — both of these deficiencies are non-issues. The psi-disruptor also has quite a large “splash zone”; when Justinian fired the weapon at Theodora it didn’t just kill the Iron Mind but also horrifically mutilated and massacred every sapient creature within a few kilometers of the blast radius.
When Oscar fired the weapon at the Rangda Abomination, the only things in the blast radius were the abomination itself, some Slaugth and their bio-constructs, and members of various sapient species the Slaugth had taken as livestock and slaves (the latter of which nobody wanted to hit, but reasoned that a quick death was better than spending years living in the Slaugth's feedlots). The Imperium nevertheless ensured that all of their forces and allies stood well away when the disruptor was fired. The Eldar threw a fit over the possibility of Eldar chattel being in the blast zone — especially given those Eldar had no soul stones and would go straight to She Who Thirsts — but backed down when even they had to admit there wasn’t a better option. The best they could come up with was pulling one of their own doomsday devices out of Yme-Loc, which would probably blow up the planet and wouldn’t be much better. At least when using the mon-keigh device the Eldar slaves outside of the blast zone would survive.
The Steward also seriously considered using Justinian’s psi-disruptor on the corrupted Man of Gold back in M34, given how it was so insane that its path was easily predictable, before the Grey Knights managed to resolve that problem on their own. It is a horrible weapon built by a madman to kill a god, with a terrible history on top of whatever reality scarring power it might already direct, and tends to rack up a massive body count in collateral damaged whenever it is fired. It is little wonder the Steward is so reluctant to use it.
After striking the killing blow on Theodora with the psi-disruptor in the initial days of the Iron War, Justinian just kind of wandered off. The members of the resistance found him in the sands of Mars, sitting in a fetal position staring at something no one could see off in the distance, tears streaming down his cheeks. Mars’ carefully constructed biosphere had been stripped away by the Iron War, and the fourth planet of Sol had returned to the red wasteland humanity had first set foot on almost twelve millennia previously. Justinian knew why they were there, as he could see their minds. But one doesn’t have to be a Man of Gold to figure it out.
The resistance members knew their duty was to shoot and kill. Justinian was calm now, but who knew how long this bout of stability would last, and it wasn’t especially long ago that he was throwing around ships in Martian orbit like they were children’s toys to attack Theodora. At the same time, his executioners couldn't bring themselves to do it. Everyone there knew Justinian, possibly personally if someone like Tiberius was there, and Justinian had been there for almost every human on Earth since before they were born. The Justinian they knew didn’t deserve to die. And if he had to die, he deserved to go out in a blaze of glory. Demigods shouldn’t die like this.
There were no kine shields, no nuclear eruptions, none of the cosmic temper-tantrums that characterized the death of his kin across the galaxy. Just a simple question:
“Do you think... do you think she will be waiting for me on the other side?”
Weapons are raised.
See Kinebrach Blades
Adeptus Astartes (Space Marines)
“A Space Marine chapter conquering a planet? Have you been watching those damn holovids again, boy? Let me be clear so I never hear this foolishness again. Could we glass a continent given space superiority and a Battle Barge? Yes. Could we decapitate a planet’s leadership and destroy their infrastructure, leaving them to wither on the vine? Yes, within an hour. Could we shock and awe the enemy into a surrender if they are sufficiently cowardly or primitive? Perhaps. But make no mistake. If a planet has advanced to the nuclear age and the populace is intent on resistance, there is no way 2,500 men can hold it alone. I don’t care if you’re the damn Custodes or Grey Knights, you simply cannot be everywhere at once. Gather your strength, and they will simply rise up where you are not. Spread out, and they will overwhelm you with their numbers. Sometimes, quantity has a quality all its own.
Subjugation and garrison duty is not our purpose. We are Astartes. Space Marines. We were made to tread the stars and go where others cannot. We are the tip of the Imperium’s spear, striking swiftly and mercilessly at the enemy’s heart. We are the Emperor’s Angels of Death, descending from the sky to slay nightmares so that others may dream peacefully in their beds. Leave the business of conquest and subjugation to the Guard. They have their duty, and we have ours.”
— Scout-Sergeant Kohl Leibhen of the Raptors, addressing a group of Aspirants
The ideal age for Astartes augmentation is somewhere between 19 and 25 years of age. At this point, the individual is young enough that their body can recover from the trauma of the procedure, but old enough that the worth of giving them the enhancements is clear. In theory, older individuals could undergo Astartes augmentation, but the risk of complication is so high that the attempt would be severely impractical. By that same token, individuals younger than 19 might be able to handle the stress of Astartes augmentations better than older individuals, but at such an age the augmentations might affect their mental development. Ironically, the earlier and less stable versions of super soldier augmentation, such as the Thunder Warrior, Canis Helix, and Astartes Mark I augmentations, have a much higher compatibility rate and thus are viable for a much wider range of ages than the standard Mark III Astartes augmentations, in part because they are less invasive.
It should be noted that for all their similarities, the Space Wolves, Iron Hands, and their descendant chapters are not Astartes and therefore are both created differently and have their own strengths and weaknesses relative to Astartes. Canis Helix chapters like the Space Wolves are created by splicing large amounts of non-human DNA into the human genome (and therefore have no gene-seed), whereas Astartes are created by implanting artificially grown organs and glands into the human body. This means that despite being gene-locked to the Imperium's best efforts, a Canis Helix supersoldier could theoretically pass down some of their modifications to their descendants, which is something the Imperium did not want and one of the reasons the Astartes won out over the Canis Helix design. The probability of such an event is miniscule, but in a galaxy of scale such events cannot be discounted, as the inhabitants of the Fenrisian worlds demonstrate. Canis Helix soldiers are also noteworthy in their lack of the Black Carapace augmentation, which was one of the key features that led to the Astartes winning out over the Thunder Warriors and other super soldier designs. Instead, Space Wolves use a complex mind-to-machine interface designed by the Iron Priests. The interface is expensive and not cost-effective on a galactic scale, but it has allowed the Space Wolves to perform just as well as Astartes.
The Iron Hands and their descendants are modified Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii, many of whom are possibly even augmented to the level of Thallaxi. As a result, there are no real restrictions to who can join the Iron Hands or their descendant chapters beyond the ability to survive the augmentation procedure and being a part of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Skitarii also use a much wider range of augmentations and are often specialized for particular tasks, which means that the members of the Iron Hands and their descendants can be much more physically variable in their augmentations than the standardized augmentations of Astartes. Iron Hands and their descendant chapters do not have to worry about the Black Carapace issue, as their armor essentially is their body and thus makes an augmented connection between soldier and armor a moot point.
The Breaking of the Legions
During the Great Crusade the Adeptus Astartes were organized into twenty distinct legions, each composed of thousands of Space Marines. By M41, however, the Adeptus Astartes have been divided into many distinct chapters, each about 1000-1200 strong and each descended at least in part from one of the eighteen legions that survived the War of the Beast. The reasons for this change in organization are complicated; many lay students of history often claim that the impetus for this change was Roboute Guilliman's Codex Astartes, published in 243.M31. However, like much of Guilliman's work, the Codex Astartes was meant to be a thought exercise in how the Adeptus Astartes could be more efficiently organized in a post-Great Crusade environment, and Guilliman would never have tried to shove his ideas down his fellow primarch's throats.
In truth, all of the legions split up for different reasons, and at different times.
Several of the legions survived virtually intact for a little while longer under their new leaders, who would have probably been considered primarchs in their own right if they hadn't had to stand in their predecessors' shadows. Kharn found himself essentially taking over more and more of his legion's duties as Angron's health deteriorated. Abbadon was ambitious and charismatic enough to keep the Void Wolves in one piece for at least another generation. Leman Russ told Bjorn during a moment of mutual drunkenness to "look after the place while I step out for a minute". The next morning they realized Russ was gone and to make matters worse everyone had been just sober enough to remember what Russ had said the night before.
Other legions split up following the death of their primarch, or for simple matters of practicality. Old Man Khan called a meeting of the yabgu, despite not being dead yet, to make sure that whoever succeeded him would be competent enough not to run the legion into the ground. In a rare moment of humility, the yabgu compared themselves to Khan and realized that none of them could claim to have accomplished what Khan had accomplished by their age, and so the legion was split up. The descendants of the Thousand Sons, such as the Grey Knights, were already split up before their primarch's death (with the exception of the Blood Ravens), given that all were created to perform quite different, specialized tasks. The Imperial Fists found themselves splitting apart to fortify and garrison agri-worlds after the War of the Beast, on the basis that one cannot rebuild an empire if everyone is starving, and gradually drifted apart over the centuries. The same is true of the Iron Warriors and hive worlds and Iron Hands and forgeworlds. In these cases, Guilliman's Codex Astartes was seen as a natural framework for how to rework the legions into more autonomous units (though each legion implemented the Codex in their own way).
The Dark Angels are rather infamous for having split up before Guilliman ever wrote the Codex Astartes, after two-thirds of their number turned traitor during the War of the Beast. The Lion split the remaining loyalists into knightly orders and instituted the rank of Watcher to ensure that no one individual could ever subvert the entire legion. Guilliman may have actually been thinking of the Dark Angels when he wrote some parts of the Codex.
The Death Guard never really split up, even with the death of their primarch. Unlike the other legions, they have never truly stopped marching to war.
There were two real death knells for the concepts of a legion as a whole. The first was when Belarius the Abdicator refused to take up command of the full host of the Blood Angels after the death of Sanguinus, knowing full well that his entire reign would be spent in the shadow of the Martyr Angel. Instead, he took command of a much more reasonably sized contingent of Blood Angels, nearly all survivors of the War of the Beast, with Belarius giving the most competent of the remaining Blood Angels command of their own groups. This set the precedent for most legions of breaking up into chapters after the death of their Primarch.
The other was the “Iron Cage” incident that happened to Fulgrim sometime in early M31. Fulgrim had always been a micro-manager, and was one of the strongest opponents against breaking the legions into chapters. However, after the War of the Beast, the sheer number of small-scale conflicts across the rebuilding Imperium and a lack of local autonomy meant that the Empire’s Sons were ground down to about half the size of their prime merely by attrition alone, despite being one of the biggest recruiters of new Astartes. The breaking point for the legion was when the Empire’s Sons got caught in a trap set up by a Tzeentch-worshipping Big Wyrd. The Wyrdboy was never caught, and by the end of it Fulgrim was left with enough marines to scrape into a little less than three chapters. After that point, even the strongest detractors of the Codex Astartes (with the exception of some particularly stubborn cases like the Death Guard) had to admit that Guilliman had a point.
However, despite this, successor chapters have not completely caught all ties with one another. Most chapters still retain close ties with their former brethren in other chapters, and many chapters have officer exchange programs to encourage loyalty to the Imperium as a whole rather than a particular world or individual. Nevertheless, chapters are expected to be open about all inter-chapter interactions, and unofficial brotherhoods are officially banned by explicit decree of the Emperor to prevent the rise of another individual like Luther from fostering ties of soft power beneath the nose of the Imperium. One of the jobs of the Inquisition’s Ordo Militarum is to make sure the Adeptus Astartes keep to this decree.
Additionally, by his own admission, Guilliman’s organizational suggestions were designed for times of relative peace, rather than all-out galactic war. In times of great crisis, the First Founding chapters (who are considered first among equals among successor chapters, and whose original members were often some of the best soldiers of each legion) have the right to call for a Reformation of the Legion, where the successor chapters would temporarily unite to lock arms and march under the united banner of the old legion once more. This policy is sometimes called the Last Wall policy, as Guilliman reputedly got this idea based on suggestions by the consummate soldier Rogal Dorn, who understood that the War of the Beast was not going to be the last major war the Imperium would face.
Responding to this call is completely voluntary, but many chapters consider it shameful for a successor chapter to refuse to answer the call, particularly since a call for a Reformation of the Legion is reserved for only the direst of emergencies that threaten the entire Imperium. The only time a refusal of the call is ever considered acceptable is if a chapter is severely undermanned or if they are physically unable to respond due to being directly under attack themselves. For example, the Lamenters were unable to respond to a call for the temporary reformation of the Blood Angels during the 12th Black Crusade, due to suffering from severe manpower losses beforehand. The Lamenters still blame themselves for not being able to respond to the call, even if the rest of the Imperium doesn’t.
The Minotaurs are something of a boogeyman among Space Marines. They are a group that make even battle-hardened Astartes quiver, and are spoken of in hushed tones. The reason for this fear and paranoia is rather simple: The Minotaurs are Space Marines that hunt Space Marines.
The first recorded instance of a Space Marine considering tactics against other Space Marines was the Ultramarine Aeonid Thiel. During the Great Crusade, Thiel was dragged before Guilliman by his fellow Ultramarines for teaching the marines under his command tactics for fighting other Space Marines, which they saw as a sign of treachery. Guilliman asked whether this was true, and upon being told it was, asked Thiel to explain himself. Thiel said that as Ultramarines it was the duty of the legionnaires to be prepared for any possible eventuality. Although the idea of Astartes becoming traitors to the Imperium was an uncomfortable one that did not mean it was impossible, nor that Astartes could not be unwillingly brainwashed into turning on their battle brothers like they had during the Rangdan Xenocides. After hearing Thiel’s explanation, Guilliman asked the two Ultramarines who had brought Thiel to him to leave the room, and then congratulated Thiel for his ingenuity. He was willing to entertain possibilities no one else could or wanted to consider, and just because people didn't like the implications of such a scenario did not invalidate the utility of any such contingency plans. The Space Marines were created by the Imperium to be their finest warriors in the reconquest of the stars, and who is to say another, more hostile human empire could not have had a similar idea. Thiel would be rewarded for his ingenuity — though for obvious reasons not at that very moment. Thiel would finally be validated and his actions recognized during the War of the Beast, where the actions of Luther and his Fallen showed the idea that a Space Marine could turn traitor to be a frightening reality.
The Minotaurs were originally founded by a War Hound named Leon Kravidos, shortly after the Age of Apostasy, as a chapter dedicated to fighting against the Fallen. Kravidos knew that in order to fight other Space Marines his men would have to be at the very peak of their potential. Therefore, he created a downright gruelling training regimen by Space Marine standards, designed to make his men prepared for anything. Despite his job, Kravidos was actually well respected among the Astartes, and was deeply mourned when he died in battle. For thousands of years after that, the Minotaurs were rather unnotable among the Space Marine chapters. Their job of hunting down fallen Space Marines was well known, but they were seen as people just doing their jobs as opposed to someone to be feared. That is, until the latest Chapter Master of the Minotaurs, Asterion Moloc, took control of the chapter in 200.M41, after the death of his predecessor in the Badab War.
In contrast to many in the Imperium who spend much of their time in pursuit of a particular foe, such as Inquisitor Boaz Kryptman and the tyranids, Asterion Moloc does not feel a festering hatred for his enemy. Instead, he seems to take the attitude of a big game hunter hunting the most dangerous game. He seems to take a perverse joy in hounding his targets to the ends of their endurance before delivering the final blow. He spends hours reviewing all known records and tactics of his quarry, so that he knows every possible move his prey can make before even they do. He does this even for chapters that have not been assigned as his targets yet.
For obvious reasons, most Space Marines are uncomfortable with the Minotaurs, considering them to be, in the words of one Astartes scout who wished to remain anonymous, “team-killing frag-heads”. Indeed, the Minotaurs in recent years have been known to be a bit too eager in their desire to fight Space Marines, sometimes flying off the handle at an innocent chapter at the urging of some particularly radical or puritan Inquisitor. About the only people who feel comfortable around the Minotaurs are the Sisters of Battle, who often cooperate with the Minotaurs in operations involving the Fallen.
The Dragon Lords
The history of the Dragon Lords dates back to the founding of Praetoria, in the days of the post-Beast rebuilding. It was deemed that the military side of the endeavour would require the substantial presence and use of Space Marines to remove some of the more fearsome and prepared horrors that had moved in during the intervening years. As Primarch Vulkan was the overall commander in bringing the worlds of Wilderness Space back to the light of civilization, it was understandable when one of his newly minted chapters set up a way station alongside the more entrepreneurial efforts of the Gredbrittonic founding families.
The head of the space marines in this endeavour was Commander Xiaphas Jurr of the Afrique League, a former Chaplain. Commander Jurr never let the change in position from preacher of the Promethean faith to overall commander interfere with his missionary work and vice versa, and Praetoria's growth into a mostly Promethean world is largely his doing. This was not without practical merit, as the forces raised from Praetoria all held a faith in common, even as the years went on, and were all the closer for it. It has been speculated that the noble feuds of later years would undoubtedly have bloomed into minor wars without this vague sense of brotherhood.
As Praetoria grew from a minor service stop into a nation, the waystation he commanded likewise grew, such that in time it was declared a Chapter in its own right with Jurr as its commander — a rank he wore well. He and his newly designated Dragon Lords were now distinct from the rest of the Prometheans, as although he had been influencing the world he commanded, so too had it been influencing him.
As the population of Praetoria grew, the Dragon Lords soon found that they could recruit from the planet exclusively even with the introduction of the Tithe. Before the tithe, the military of Praetoria was predominantly composed of the house militias and private military companies of the nobility, with only the Red Coats — the mostly ceremonial soldiers of the Parliamentary Herald — representing the planet as a whole. At the time, the Red Coats were seen as a token force of no real concern and the butt of many jokes due to their lack of real experience and attachment to a figurehead rather than anyone with any real power.
This changed when the Imperial Army demanded its due. They didn't want soldiers loyal to any one city or lord in contest with their comrades of the same world. They wanted soldiers loyal to the Imperium representing their world as a unified whole. The imposition of a standard uniform was seen as a way to gently erode those mental barriers; they were one and all Praetorian. The distinctive green and black colour scheme of the Dragon Lords was surrendered not long after, coincidentally a few days after the death of Xiaphas Jurr, to their current red and ivory as a show of solidarity with the common soldier.
By this time, native-born Gernebern of Auchmouth — a progeny who rose fast but died a mere few centuries later — had taken command of the Space Marines and was the source of many reforms within the chapter. It was deemed prudent to have the chapter integrate even more closely with the common soldiery, splitting the companies up into squads and placing them on long term loan to the — at the time — 90 regiments of the Praetorian Guard as specialist squads. All but one company was split in such a manner, and the remaining company was to remain whole to guard their homeworld at all times.
Despite all the upheavals and political manoeuvrings — which could fill a very dry library in their own right — the contributions that Praetoria has made to the conquest, rebuilding, and protection of the wilderness worlds and beyond are often overlooked. Indeed, it was to this noble endeavour that Commander Jurr sacrificed himself. Were it not for the diligence, vigilance and sacrifices of the red coated Praetorians, the Orks, marauders, and worse would have just swept right back in, and the fates of those that called these places home would have been, at best, pitiable.
The Mortificators are a brother chapter to the Ultramarines, both being founded by veterans of the War of The Beast from Legion XIII in the days of The Rebuilding. The head of the force sent out that formed the core of the original Mortificators was commanded by the esteemed but eccentric — some would say slightly bonkers — Sasebo Tezuka. Tezuka was originally a child of the strange land of Strayllya on Old Earth, and had begun his military career in the earliest days of the Great Crusade. He was an accomplished man who commanded the respect of his men despite his oddness. One of these oddities was a seeming over-reliance on signs and portents that he used to make his decisions even though he himself was no psyker, and although he did employ them he didn’t use them for divination. Though he relied on what was essentially random chance, Tezuka seldom went irretrievably astray and more often than not followed a correct path. In more recent times people have wondered if the King of Clowns had anything to do with the roll of those bones, but no answer that any could understand has been forthcoming.
With the breakup of the XIII Legion, Captain — now Chapter Master — Tezuka was free to follow the omens as his cards and bones would show him and by a roundabout means, thirty years of wandering brought him to the world of Posul. If Posul was meant to be some sort of Promised Land it was not one given from any god that cared for its followers; Posul was dreary and dark, and by some fluke of topography and atmospheric composition it was eternally shrouded in a permanent and extremely heavy overcast lit only by two small, dim suns. It was a world of extremely dark nights and extremely dim days — and it was not unclaimed.
A hardy breed of man survived on that world, pale and slight of build with big dark eyes. They were primitive in those days, having in the time since man’s apex devolved to something that resembled Mesolithic era humanity. It was assumed at the time that their fall from grace, so complete as it was, was solely a result of an environment that was best and most politely described as very bleak. The plant life was typically sparse, with dark purple leaves to maximize the available energy from the dim suns, and the whole world had the general feeling of a deep-sea vent ecosystem on dry land.
Although that bleakness was almost certainly a contributing factor, it was not the whole story. The Posuli could fairly be described as the Death Cult of the Death Cults. They followed the faiths of the Deorum Mortuus Est, or at least adhered to the teachings of those who had slain their gods. Master Tezuka and his followers, dictated by omens to settle on this world, learned the stories of the eldest of the eldest priests and, backed up by their own findings in the Verboten Lands held by all tribes in inviolate sacrosanctity for time beyond mind, came to a startling conclusion: the natives — though not now — had once been worshipers of Chaos.
Their gods had been very real and walked among them awful and powerful, ordering great temples be built to them and demanding holocaust and sacrifice to feed them. Over the long years they had brought the Posuli low, to the point of being naught but cattle to the slaughter of unworthy butcher gods, until one day men led by the “dream-walkers” rose up, and were not struck down but instead did strike back with a righteous fire. Estimates by the off-worlders put the date of the uprising at approximately two centuries prior to the Posuli's discovery by the wider Imperium. The locals had no calendars and so none could know for sure, but it seemed that the gods of Posul were overthrown on or around the day of The Raid of the Mansion.
But the Posuli were by then a thoroughly broken people. Presumably their ancestors had been of the Great and Bountiful Human Dominion, stranded here in the early days of the Age of Strife, and presumably they did retain some measure of civility for some time, but if that is true none of that civility survived. The locals had nothing that they remembered of greatness, nothing to aspire to and no notion of lasting joy. They carried on much as they had, with cannibalistic rituals and constant wars of tribal slaughter. Tribal warriors would war and the victors would kill all of the men-folk and children and take the women as their own, and they would try to hold what land they could claim of the fallen’s holdings until displaced or the tribe split through internal unrest and warred upon once-kin.
It was into this savagery that Chapter Master Sasebo Tezuka of Legion XIII descended. His first interaction with a local was when a boy — barely old enough to grow his first chin hairs — stabbed him in the gut with a stone tipped spear. Sasebo had approached the nearest tribe unarmoured and unarmed, wearing a simple coarse jute robe with only a brother-psyker at his side, to show peaceful intent and appear as unthreatening as an Astartes can. The spear tip cut into his skin and stopped at the black carapace. The lad received a backhander that knocked several of his teeth out; it was extremely easy to follow him back to his tribe.
Some worlds welcome the Imperium as returning brothers from the stars. Some worlds react poorly to Imperial attempts to uplift them. Few were as reluctant as the Posuli, who by then had no notion of anything greater than a tribe and no understanding of any social order more complex than "the strong rule and the weak are food". Generally, the Imperium tries to keep as much of the substance of a culture as possible in its uplifting. Master Sasebo couldn’t really see much worth keeping, and as the days passed the other teams that had investigated other tribes reported much of the same. It was a long and bloody road to remake the Posuli into any sort of real society, and Master Tezuka had fallen to the unknowable things of The Harrowing long before then.
In the end the people of Posul were brought, reluctant every step of the way, into the light of civilization. Although their world could never be tamed it was made better than awful, and it was possible to live there rather than just be sentenced. In the end the Posuli were taken to the stars again and became a part of the Imperium, if only a minor part. The people of Posul were found, despite being classed as abhuman Nightsiders, to be compatible with the Astartes Mk III MP gene-seed, and in the intervening years were made worthy of it. In time they raised regiments of their own to aid the Imperium that had taken then from the dirt. But it could not be said that they did not affect the chapter as it uplifted them, especially once the Mortifactors started to recruit from Posul.
The cannibalistic rituals were replaced with haemovorous rituals, and human sacrifices exchanged with deep drug-induced comatose vision seeking. The Mortifactors adopted both of these rituals. Thus, down the long march of years, while the chapter had amended the beliefs of the locals for their own betterment, the Mortifactors had also ended up adopting these beliefs and took up the scriptures of the Dead Gods. As such, the Mortificators were never seen as desirable allies. They were unpleasantly weird and typically possessed a grim disposition. But they were valued and so were their people. It was not to last.
In the year 997M39 the Leviathan fell upon Posul. There was no hope of saving the world. All those dusty temples where man had slain their gods, all those strange tribes and wandering soothsayers, all the victories of the Imperium to make men out of monsters, all of those works of art carved into pale stone and lit pink and deep red by the dim red suns, were all washed away in a tide of chitin that were in turn washed away in nuclear fire. Basilica Mortis, the great star fort of the Mortificators, had managed to remain hidden by strange Eldar trickery, and in its vaulted halls were held the last hopes of that world. As many of the keepers of the stories and children to tell those stories to were kept as safe as could be in the hidden Astartes stronghold. On the surface of Posul, the men, women, and Space Marines of that grim, dark world gave their lives to draw the Hive to them, to trick the Hive into believing that it was winning. Lord Magyar ordered the atomics released at the last possible moment, transforming the time when hope should have been turned to despair instead into righteous wrath and retribution, and for a moment he beheld his home in sunlight before the fire consumed him.
And it was beautiful.
Posul is now a dead world, as perhaps is fitting. It is unlikely that the Adeptus Biologis will agree to terraform it in this age, as even in the old days it was never a particularly worthy candidate for such an endeavour. And as for the remnants of the Posuli and the Mortificators? They endure, barely. Hearing of their plight their distant kin in the Ultramarines petitioned the Imperium to grant them refuge, and they were granted a place on the basis that so few people would likely cause little disruption to any adoptive planet. The Mortificators requested long ruined Calth to settle upon and try and make a home. The people of Calth were initially unenthusiastic about the idea, to say the least, as their caverns and hollows were precious to them. When they learned that the Posuli wished to live in the wastelands of the surface, where none had dwelt since the devastation ten thousand years past, they were considerably more amenable. The Posuli, for their part, said that they could cover their eyes in the day and sleep and in the night, and sometimes they could pretend that they were home once more.
The Mortificators will rebuild. Death has not claimed them yet.
The Black Legion
The Void Wolves are Astartes primarily used as boarding/anti-boarding specialists throughout the Great Crusade and 1st Black Crusade. The majority of the pre-split Void Wolves Astartes ended up in this chapter. They call the worlds of the Cadian Gate their home, and recruit from these and nearby systems. The Void Wolves still operate much as the Legion of old, in that they are massively represented in the boarding parties of the Navy assets in the Cadian sector, but with the emphasis put more on garrison duty.
Lord Commander Corpulax was previous Lord Commander of Black Legion
Corpulax was born on Cadia in the year 446M41, and like all Cadians was inducted into the military and raised to be a good little soldier. It wasn't long into his adolescence that his physical prowess was recognized. As such, he was genetically screened and earmarked for the Black Legion. He trained well and hard as a Neophyte and learned deeply of the chapter's venerable lore. In his 15th year, he started to undergo the surgical alterations and augmentations that would turn him from human to Astartes.
His career as a Space Marine was noteworthy in his reliability. He was a very by-the-book soldier, who would have been overlooked for any measure of excellence were it not for his ability to exemplify everything the chapter's battle doctrines exalted. He was, in every way, the very model of a Cadian Space Marine. By age 176 he was a sergeant, by 239 he was a Marshal, and by 301 he was Lord Commander. And it was a role he excelled at — for the brief time that he held that rank, at least. In the year 775M41, a mere 28 years into his command, the Apostles of Contagion launched a sustained attack on the agri-world of Phagir. Phagir was one of the worlds that supplied the Cadian Gate with food. Presumably their goal — or at least the goal of their masters — was to inconvenience the Gate Worlds, as were they to succeed the Gate Worlds would have to import all foodstuffs.
The Apostles of Contagion launched a sustained campaign in their defensive style of land holding and attrition, supplemented by extensive biological warfare. In the end it was deemed an untenable theater by the Adeptus Biologis order stationed on the planet; they couldn't make cures as fast as the Apostles could make ails. The Cadian forces were instrumental in the evacuation of Phagir as the Zombie Virus finally took hold and the dead shambled across the blighted fields to add the living to their ranks.
The Black Legion held the line at the capital's spaceport until the last moment - to get just one more shuttle off of the planet. In the final stages of the withdrawal it became clear that Lord Commander Corpulax was infected with the Zombie Virus, for which there was no cure save a clean death. Wracked in pain and wroth with righteous fury, Corpulax spent his last moments sprinting towards a techno-abomination of rust and rotted flesh merged together into what might once have been a Baneblade. Its burning wreckage was his funeral pyre as the IEDs he had strapped to himself detonated.
By his sacrifice one more shuttle, containing nearly 2,000 civilians and the last of his brothers on the surface, made it safely off the launch pad. The planet was subsequently bathed in nuclear fire; it was lost but it would not be damned.
Lord Commander Zagthean the Broken
Zagthean was the son of a long-term "soup stirrer" of the algae vats and a sister of the Convent of Alabaster Maidens. Civilian jobs on Cadia are typically — though not always — given to individuals disqualified from front line service for reasons of either health or competence. As good 'ol Zaganath had been doing that job from age 12 to age 62, it can be safely assumed that he was given the job for being pretty useless at proper soldiering. This was not to say that he wasn't a dutiful man; he died in a Chaos raid with a Cadian weapon in his hands and Cadian honor in his heart, and he didn't go down quietly nor alone. Matylda was sister of the Alabaster Maidens, a widespread order with convents on several dozen worlds in the Cadian Sector that specialized in offering healthcare to the underclasses. On Cadia, they offered healthcare to the more broken veterans.
Despite his humble beginnings, Zagthean has proven a savage warrior — more of Angron's ilk than Horus'. He has charged into battles no man or Astartes should ever have hoped to walk out of, and has not only done so but done so victorious. Even in his earliest days he was dauntless, and he set into every task and training exercise put before him with an almost alarming ferocity. After his genetic screening there was no question of him being looked over for Space Marine augmentation, and the fire in his heart was not diminished even slightly by the alterations; if anything with fewer physical constraints he approached the status of truly unstoppable.
His will is adamantium and among his chapter his word is law. To the Lord Castellan's annoyance he insists on leading from the front; in the thick of the carnage, the blood and the thunder flowing past him. Roaring with laughter and wroth joy, all mortals who have stood against him have known one simple truth: they have come here to die and their gods — from the greatest to the least — have all abandoned them.
He is relatively young for a man of his rank, but he has lived hard and built up an impressive record. But the price of living so hard is that he has seen death many times, and they have danced ever closer. He has been broken down and rebuilt, torn apart and stitched back whole, burned, healed, cut, stitched, glued, grafted, and lashed back together. What's left is almost poured over, rather than connected to, an ever increasing number of cybernetics. He may have fallen many times, but he is still alive. He does not march, he charges; he wills Death to find him, to hold him one last time so that he may beseech her "let me take these bastards out with me". And always Death has returned him.
As the 13th Black Crusade descends upon Cadia, it may be that his wish could be granted. He may die, but he will take whole armies down with him.
Ygethmor the Trickster, Head of the Black Legion Battle Psykers
Of Old Earth stock and a resilient psychic of pristine physique, Ygethmor was initially destined for the Grey Knights. Though the tests of genetic compatibility showed positive, the artificial organs of the MK III S gene-seed would not take root in his flesh. Unwilling to just toss such a promising neophyte aside for such paltry reasons as a biological fluke, the Grey Knights ordered him to be tested with the MK III MP variant of the gene-seed. The MP variant did take and Ygethmor was posted to the Cadian Gate — typically they would have sent him to the Exorcists but he lacked their "straightforward" attitude to problem-solving. Steeped in ancient daemon lore learned in the halls of Titan and with a Nemesis Blade as a parting gift, Ygethmor has proven to be a boon to the Black Legion like no other.
He is fond of ambushes, illusions, misdirection and what he affectionately likes to refer to as "pranks". He is formidable in a straight-up and honest fight — if he has no option to make a dishonest one. He has no notions of fair play and considers the idea of "fair play" synonymous with "not trying". It is this underhanded attitude towards warfare that has won him the approval of the Lord Castellan (and few others). That and a well-refined and caustic sense of humour.
Despite his detractors, of which he has cultivated a great many, Ygethmor's effectiveness can not be denied. He is not the most powerful psychic among the Astartes — not by a great margin — but like his martial strength he makes the most of what he has. As he would say, "a stiletto atwixt the sternum is as good as a broadsword to the bonce".
Devram Korda, Marshal of the 1st Cohort
At approximately 230 years of age Marshal Devram Korda is on the younger end of the Black Legion's Marshals, but he is far from unaccomplished. His rank was attained in the Liberation of Sarora, an intense war on the hiveworld Sarora to depose the warband known as the Children of Torment; a nasty group of Crone Worlders with faux marines stitched together from the bodies of their victims and animated with lesser daemons. As the most senior surviving officer left after a particularly nasty assault, Davram was given temporary command over his brothers. This was made permanent at the conclusion of the campaign, when contact was re-established with Lord Castellan Jakren Stein and the rest of the Cadian 509th.
The things he saw on Sarora, the things he had to do for the sake of pity, still haunt him. He is a grim figure, with no sense of humour or good cheer. Just a seething, well-controlled, and bottomless grudge.
Marshal Araghast the Pillar, Marshal of the 2nd Cohort
Abnormally large for a Space Marine and phenomenally strong besides, Marshal Araghast lugs around a lascannon with the same ease as an experienced guardsman lugs around a Lasgun. His aim is exemplary, and for a creature so big he can move surprisingly fast. In his oversized suit of armour Araghast can withstand a punishing amount of fire and remains standing, carefully and calmly placing laser beams in the most inconvenient places. He rose to prominence in the Aurelia debacle that almost saw a world lost to the warp. He was the pillar of certainty around which the rescue forces rallied.
He has a calm and measured manner and an unflappable temperament, and remains — or can at least give the impression of remaining — relaxed in even the most bizarre and awful circumstances.
Xorphas Firestarter, Marshal of the 3rd Cohort
Xorphas is very good at pyrotechnics and incendiaries of all kinds, and possesses a fascination with fire that borders on the unhealthy. This has, however, made him and his Cohort extremely good at dealing with orks and Nurglites in particular, and anything else that resents being set on fire in general. He is also a low level psychic, though despite the rumours he is not a pyrokine. His "gifts", if one can call them that, manifested only after he attained the position of Marshal, and by then he was too far along the chain of command for it to be worth the effort and disruption of reassigning him to the Battle Psykers. He was given extensive instruction by the head Librarian so that he would be considered safe, but little in how to hone what he actually does have — which is not very much if truth be told. He has very good gut instincts that can be mistaken for inhuman reflexes (even by Astartes standards), an uncanny ability to determine if someone is lying, and some modest telekinetic ability.
He is a reserved and calm individual, meticulous and methodical in his approach to all things — be it war or mundane chores. Until you give him a box of matches and you can see the flickering flames reflected in his eyes.
Drecarth the Sightless, Marshal of the 4th Cohort
A veteran of the 12the Black Crusade who spent half the invasion stranded in the lower tunnels, hunted by Crone Worlders with knives for fingers. Those knives had cost him his eyes, but he cost them much more. Those tunnels were pitch black, but he was blind anyway. As such, although the Crones could see to some degree in total darkness, Drecarth could hear perfectly well and thus eschewed the corrupted Eldars' handicapped sight for a clear, inhuman hearing. Drecarth had yet another advantage, as those tunnels had been his playground as a child; they weren't just tunnels, they were home. The hunt quickly turned inside out, and the Chaos Eldar came to the realization that he wasn't trapped with them, they were trapped with him. When he returned to the light he was reborn, and his star was ascendant.
With two black orbs of technology replacing his ruined eyes and an unhealthily pale visage, Marshal Drecarth looks like a spectre from the old stories; some unhappy undead returned to get even. He has moulded his company into one of quiet killers, stalkers, and hunters, as he had been in the time of his epiphany. It is suspected that he is part of the secretive Cadian Death Faith, as it was prevalent in his patch of tunnels when he was young, but nothing can be proven. All that is known is that he is sober, diligent, humble, and quiet. All traits he tries to instil in his brothers.
Amalaxis Deamonslayer, Marshal of the 5th Cohort
Amalaxis is as close to a Chaplain as you can get without actually being one. He is a strong, almost fanatical, believer in the old Cadian tree gods. He offers prayers and devotion to them on the eve of battle, before setting forth on campaign, when another invasion is expected, and when it is peaceful because on Cadia — you have to be thankful for respite. Most of his Cohort are also adherents of his faith — the reason he was chosen as Marshal of the 5th Cohort — and to them he is a figure of great reverence. Some say he was a tree spirit in a stillborn child, like in the old stories of before war.
His method of warfare is very much in favour of the aggressive advance. Ideally after the first attack there should be no possibility of a retaliation. There must be something to his faith, as the hymns he roars as he charges into battle have daemons clutching their bleeding ears.
Valicar "the Graven" Hyne, Marshal of the 6th Cohort
Unlike Marshal Drecarth, Marshal Valicar Hyne makes no secret of his adherence to the Death Faith. Why should he? Why should he have to skulk in the dark and hide? This candidness has not won him many friends in the faith, all of whom agree that discretion has served them well since the Age of Strife. The rest of the Chapter just think he's a bit eccentric and the baseline Cadians just assume all augmented are a bit loopy — assuming they haven't actually met a Space Marine before.
Despite the implications of his religion, he is a bombastic man who loves the simple pleasures in life; pretty women, good food, and fine ale. Also jetpacks and air assaults. If the battle can be met hurling out of a speeding aircraft, it is a good day for Marshal Valicar. It is suspected that most of the 6th Cohort follow him out of morbid fascination.
Verzekh the Siege Engine, Marshal of the 7th Cohort
Verzekh has the distinction of being the only member of the Marshals to retain rank whilst interred in a Dreadnaught. Most Dreadnaughts become sleepy as a result of the painkillers and mechanisms that keep them in their half-life — not a good trait in a leader. Not so with old Verzekh. Whether by some incorrect implementation of his sarcophagus or a deviation in his brain, Verzekh has not slept in over 1,800 years and so far seems to be suffering no ill effects. Attempts to duplicate this miracle in others have had no notable success.
He is armed with two power claws with under-slung Meltas, with which he has obliterated the defenses of hundreds of bunkers and fortifications and uncountable tanks. His personality since his internment has actually improved, if the historical records are anything to go off of, now having a very pleasant and cheerful disposition. Verzekh puts this down to the painkillers. His favored method of warfare is the slow and unstoppable advance.
Kor Megron "Corpsemaker", Marshal of the 8th Cohort
Many times repaired and cybernetically patched up — though not the extent of the Lord Commander — Marshal of the 8th Cohort Kor Megron is a fan of going fast and going hard. Bikes, land speeders, jet packs, and anything else that can deliver high velocity death are his bread and butter. Standing still, he claims, makes you a target in a way that no additional fire power will compensate for. The rest of his chapter call him slightly manic. He calls them worse. In war — as in life — there is the target. You get target fast, find another target, get other target, repeat until target exhaustion or death. There is no stop, there is no slowing, until the job is done. To stop invites death.
The Cohort that he has assembled are all, like himself, lay-technicians. They need to be able to perform basic rituals of repair to their vehicles at a moment's notice. To lose the momentum is to invite failure. Possibly exacerbating these traits is his knowledge that he is indeed dying; some poison of Dark Eldar design — half-real and half-not — flickers through his veins. He has maybe a few years at most left. If the intent of this poison was supposed to debilitate him with despair or fear, it has failed. If anything, it's made him far more dangerous in the time he has left.
Troskzer The Elder, Marshal of the 9th Cohort.
Older than some of the younger dreadnaughts, Marshal Troskzer is old even by the standards of near-immortals. Given the time distorting effects of warp travel and the amount of time he has travelled through said warp, Troskzer isn't sure exactly how old he is. He was born in the year 998M40, but he could be as "young" as 850. That said, Space Marine biology and rejuvenant treatments can only take you so far, and he is approaching exactly as far as they can take him. What Troskzer has lost in strength and speed he has made up for in experience and animal cunning. He is without peer when it comes to the use of landscape and natural resources as a means of gaining an advantage. He can plan ambushes almost as well as the Lord Castellan, and his ability to smell weakness is bordering on the unnatural. If you have a place where you are vulnerable he will find it and he will hurt you. He is patient and will fuck up your day at the most inopportune time. This, combined with an inhuman ability to comprehend not just his battlefield but an entire planetary campaign, makes him far more dangerous off the field of battle than on it. But he is a Space Marine, he will not be shamed by staying where it is safe.
Despite his seniority — and to his relief — he was never considered for the job of Lord Commander. A Lord Commander has to have a sense of diplomacy and people skills. Troskzer has neither. He's a cantankerous, introverted, belligerent arsehole overly fond of sarcasm and seems to be staying alive just because it pisses people off.
Starkzahn, Marshal of the 10th Cohort.
Saviour of Darristen and ███████ █████████ ██████ ███ ██████ ██ ████████ ████ ███ █████████ ██████ ████████████ █████ ████. Known to have spent near thirty years in the Deathwatch and a further twenty five in the personal employ of a particular Inquisitor, neither of which he will talk about. It is suspected that he has travelled and fought as far as the Eastern Fringe — or at the very least near it — as he is well versed in the teaching of Aun'Va, though it is unlikely that he will be able to convince his countrymen of the virtues of the Greater Good.
His method of waging war is a combination of movement and fire, be it in the form of artillery or tactical squads that looks oddly familiar to anyone who has seen warfare in the Damocles Gulf.
Oficios and Adepta
The Officio Assassinorum was one of the oldest arms of the Imperial Government, and its roots date back to the barbarity and cruelty of the Old Night. Perhaps it was fitting that, as the Warlord became the Steward and the Unification became the Great Crusade, the ancient orders of assassins were finally brought to heel and integrated into the Imperium proper.
The Rebuke at Mount Vengeance is the common story of the Officio Assassinorum's founding. In those days, the young Imperium was mired in battles far and wide, but one particular front was facing opposition that none seemed able to counter. Here, commanding officers and vital figures were dying at an alarming rate, even in the safety of their secured rear; although their deaths were suspected to be the work of the enemy, all of them seemed to have died of natural causes. The Warlord simply appointed new generals and ordered veteran bodyguards for the ones already in theatre, but in response his loathsome foes only grew bolder. Ever more evidence of their activities was left behind, seemingly taunting the Imperium for their inability to protect their own; clean killings becoming vicious slaughters of officers and civilians alike. Many commanders were found butchered in their headquarters with a single bodyguard left alive, usually little more than a traumatised wreck stammering about technological sorcery beyond even that of the Warlord's Mechanicus allies.
Incensed at the atrocities inflicted upon his people, the Warlord made war on the Assassin Temples of the Salt Spires. Little is known about the Spires or their mercenary and heartless Masters, for many archives of their history were lost in the anarchy of the War of the Beast (although this may well have been Vangorich's objective all along). The Warlord did his best to spread his own view — that the assassins were little but cowardly shadows who thought they could behead the Imperium — but even his presence and words did little to bolster armies plagued by fear and paranoia, and so he began using the antithesis of their own doctrine to plot their downfall. There were no grand offensives, no bold strikes, nothing that seemed major enough to warrant the assassins moving against it; yet suddenly they found their supplies of everything from ammunition to promethium — and most importantly, water — were perilously low. In their weakened state, the Temples knew they could not face the Warlord's forces, and so they came before him to seek treaty.
At Mount Vengeance, the Temple Masters met to offer peace to the Warlord. At Mount Vengeance, they received his full scorn. The Warlord was not content with their mere offer of fealty. For the atrocities the Masters had inflicted on his people — for the lives they had taken so cruelly — the Warlord would not be content with a glorified armistice. He gave them an offer of his own: total surrender, or total annihilation. Those were their only choices.
Some of the Temple Masters, emboldened by hubris, unwisely struck the Warlord. They died. Some fled. They died, later. But on the mountain and around it — for many assassins had followed their Masters, perhaps out of loyalty or some morbid curiosity — others remained, bowing in total capitulation to the Warlord and the futility of resisting this god amongst men. For his part, the Warlord acted rather appropriately in that role, passing judgement on each Master and their assassins. Some were found guilty of crimes beyond forgiveness and were slain — often by their peers as a test of loyalty. Others were granted the "clemency" of banishment into the salt wastes. Only one was judged pure enough to be worthy of leadership — and, as the new Grandmaster of Assassins, he was assured that the temples that surrendered would remain intact, albeit in service of the Imperium under the watchful eye of Malcador.
Thus was formed the Officio Assassinorum. Malcador was pleased with the Warlord's mercy, for it showed no amount of fury would blind him to true talent. A few thousand years later, the assassins proved that such talent brought risks, especially from those as secretive as the assassins.
In 546.M32, the Grandmaster of the Officio Assassinorum attempted to assassinate the High Lords of Terra. The Beheading, as it has since come to be know, was shrouded in mystery; with events restricted to the Imperial Palace, motive, means, and for some figures even identity have been lost to the shrouds of time. All that has survived to this day is that the Inquisitorial Representative, the Master of the Astronomicon, the Paternal Envoy of the Navigators, and the Fabricator-General of the Adeptus Mechanicus were all killed before the Steward was able to stop Grandmaster Vangorich's terror.
Naturally, many asked how Vangorich was able to get as far as he did. Perhaps the sheer scale of the events already taking place at the time (especially the rising threat of the Beast) was responsible, since it was one of the few periods in Imperial history where the High Lords were forced to abandon their usual backstabbing and power plays that kept the Officios and Adepta in check, in favour of (relative) unity. However, others believe such planning and preparation had to have taken decades, and the timing an unfortunate consequence of Vangorich demanding so much care be taken to make the deaths of his fellow High Lords look like accidents.
All sources agree, however, that once his treachery was revealed Vangorich unleashed the assassins on the entire palace. The halls ran with the blood of the highest of Lords and the most lowly of servitors alike. Yet there was one figure the assassins would not touch, could not touch, out of fear of what he had done to their forefathers: the Steward, who had vowed to personally put a stop to the killing spree desecrating the home of the Golden Throne. Vangorich, infuriated at the apparent incompetence of his underlings, took it upon himself to do the job they would not, attempting to slay the Steward with a vortex grenade as he emerged from his personal transport.
This went about as well as one would expect.
Even less is known about the outcome. Historians have waxed poetically about the Grandmaster facing an agonizing death, eternal torture, exile into the depths of the Webway with nothing but the clothes on his back, or any other number of tall tales. The most reliable account, however — attributed to the Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes — states that the Steward simply broke Vangorich's neck as comfortably as one would a twig, mere moments after his ill-advised attempt on the Steward's life.
For their part, the assassins were right to be fearful; for unlike their predecessors on Mount Vengeance the Steward gazed upon them with disappointment as well as fury. The Beheading had been undertaken by Vangorich, but the Steward noted with no small distaste that his orders had not been questioned by any under him. Malcador had managed to maintain the delicate balancing act between accountability and unflinching loyalty necessary in an organisation such as the Assassinorum, and without him it seemed the assassins were falling back on their bad habits.
Any other time he would have dismantled the Assassinorum then and there, but the Steward was more concerned with reinforcing the wider Imperium against the coming onslaught of the Beast. In a time when every second was precious, the Steward could only set aside a day to scour the assassins' much-reduced ranks. Those found wanting of moral character were incinerated where they stood if they had acted on Vangorich's orders, or pressed into a penal legion if they had not. One assassin that the Steward found was of solid loyalty, and aided him in his purge of the temples. They were declared the new Grandmaster. The first decree they were to issue, however, was a warning — a warning to be spread through every temple, to every assassin from the depths of the Imperial Palace to frontline fighting against the Orks. A warning that, if the Steward was ever forced to intervene again, he would simply dissolve the Assassinorum instead of wasting more time on leniency.
Four thousand years later, the Steward was once again forced to intervene — although this time it was because of a crisis of his own making.
To her credit, the Grandmaster the Steward had put in place had served honorably, loyally, and carefully. Within the temples, long overdue reforms were undertaken, training formalised, and generations of assassins raised to revere the Imperium as a whole more than their temple. The Grandmaster, when she felt her time came, passed the title on to one she felt she could trust; and he continued her work, standardising material provisions and improving survivability. When he was lost in a warpstorm, his successor was well chosen, and worked to streamline chain of command and requisition. This continued, the Officio slowly evolving into an organisation capable of keeping up with the rapid changes of the galaxy, until the reign of Goge Vandire. Emperor Goge Vandire.
Goge Vandire was, initially, the ideal servant of the Imperium. Intelligent yet humble, decisive yet wise, he was familiar with all the intricacies of every part of the Imperium's government — save the assassins. Naturally, he was curious. At his first meeting with the High Lords of Terra, they each took their own oaths of loyalty and explained their roles. The Grandmaster of Assassins, on the other hand, explained the history of the Beheading to the new Emperor, and explained why since then the Assassinorum has always chosen to swear loyalty to the wider Imperium instead of a particular individual. An explanation that would end up nearly tearing it apart.
"...hence, our loyalty is to the Golden Throne and its guardians rather than the one sitting upon it. A mere technicality, of course—" The Grandmaster offering a thin smile at this point, "since I personally doubt we will ever receive liquidation orders from the archaeotech itself... but still."
The other High Lords had long ago learned not to question inner workings of the Assassinorum, while Emperor Vandire merely gave a hearty chuckle. They moved onto other, more pressing matters, and it appeared that that was the end of that. And it was, for the most part, but there was a small corner of Emperor Vandire's mind where those words echoed endlessly. "The Golden Throne and its guardians," the Grandmaster had said, but it seemed clear to him that there was only one guardian that mattered; the one who had appointed him to the position in the first place. Over the years of Emperor Vandire's reign — too many hard decisions, too many threats to the Imperium from within and without, perhaps too many treatments of juvenat — the echo rose in his mind until it was deafening, a mild irritation over semantics growing into full-blown paranoia.
Of course they were faithful to the Imperium, but the hypocrites chose the Steward to venerate as a figurehead! Even in the Palace, his own home, all the oaths in the galaxy would not change the fact that each soul's allegiance lay with the Steward rather than himself. They only trusted him because the Steward trusted him, had appointed him. Oh, yes, his reign and countless years of selfless service were all very good and well appreciated, but they were all nought against those of that living god. Everything he did was overshadowed by that guardian; his words judged against the Steward's, his actions compared to those of the Steward, the Steward, the Steward, who was never more than a moment away from the lips of Vandire's own people; as if he had been usurped before he was ever appointed to the throne.
Still, Vandire was still as talented as he always was, and soon managed to find an assassin willing to aid him; a Callidus by the name of Tziz Jarek. By that point he was in direct control of every aspect of the Imperium thanks to a thousand emergency powers and Imperial edicts; yet frustratingly, the Grandmaster remained steadfastly insistent on the stance that had tormented Vandire since their first meeting. Jarek, on the other hand, was simply angry with the Assassinorum's reforms, and made sure to stay well out of range of Vandire's spittle and foam when he began to rant — although over time she found herself believing in more and more of his firey rhetoric.
The assassination was textbook perfection; the Grandmaster's long list of security measures outdone by Jarek's longer-still list of fall-backs and contingencies. However, the lifeless corpse that was quietly fed into a plasma generator was only a body double of the Grandmaster — even as Jarek disguised herself with polymorphine and assumed the seat of Grandmaster of Assassins — had already made her getaway, rallying those loyal to her from Terra and beyond. With the Assassinorum now firmly under his thumb, Vandire used the shadowy assassins as another weapon with which to prosecute what was rapidly becoming a reign of terror; opponents political and military alike disappearing or found butchered in cruel and unusual manners.
When the reign of Emperor Vandire was coming to an end, he began to use his assassins more openly against rebel forces — and it was at that moment, when they emerged from the shadows, that the true Grandmaster struck. Jarek had used the forces of the Assassinorum masterfully, always knowing which figures to liquidate to maximise disorder and panic — yet she had no experience of the same tactics being used against her, and could do little but order her own assassins to focus on the new threat.
The resulting battles were devastating. Assassins loyal to Vandire and to the Grandmaster both used long-forgotten, forbidden technologies on the other side, for each was (rightly) convinced that the victory of the other would see them exterminated to the last. Gene-sympathetic nerve gases, neutronic warheads, entropic broadcasters, pan-chronal disruptors, and other terrors were all used; some dating back to the nightmare of the Old Night. These were the Wars of Vindication, and they would be repeated again and again from Terra to the furthest reaches of the Imperium as assassin turned against assassin to purge the ones they saw as traitors.
When the Steward finally returned to Terra from his self-imposted exile, the Temples were little more than smoking, hellish ruin. The palace, too, was scarred by battle; and there he found the Grandmaster — who pointed to her lifeless doppelganger and declared that the traitor was dead.
The Steward was unamused.
The Grandmaster offered her life by way of apology, and begged the Officio Assassinorum be spared. She knew all too well of the warning passed down from each Grandmaster to the next, and of the possibility of her and her own suddenly being abandoned by an Imperium that had no other place for them. For his part, the Steward was bitterly disappointed with Emperor Vandire's descent into madness — yet this time he could not truly fault what had historically been the most troublesome of the High Lords' domains. One Grandmaster had fought with unwavering loyalty for the Imperium, while the other had done so in the name of the Emperor. Perhaps he was a little ashamed of his own poor judgement, for he was merciful; the Grandmaster was allowed to disappear into exile, and the remnants of the Assassinorum were to return to Terra for their final judgment.
The Steward of the Golden Throne retreated into the Imperial Palace for the last time, and when the Emperor of Mankind emerged, first and final orders to the ancient Officio Assassinorum were as follows:
- All assassins were to be granted a window of clemency, where an amnesty would be offered regardless of allegiance. They were misled, but had still fought with ferocious loyalty to their superiors — against some of the best in the Imperium, no less. Any who ignored this opportunity would be declared outlaws of the Imperium of the Golden Throne, for both the Grandmaster and her doppelganger had kept close eyes on their respective assassins (lest they defect). Huge bounties were offered, of course, but the most sought-after reward was the opportunity for the hunter to take the place of the assassin they defeated, becoming one of the Imperium's shadowy elite.
- After the grace period, the Officio Assassinorum would be completely and utterly dissolved. The Temples would remain, but only as individual institutions with no power and little role; all masters would stripped of formal office and all survivors either absorbed into the reborn order: the Officio Tactitum. No more secret handshakes or shadowy meetings lit by incense, no unaccountable Grandmasters operating without question. Civilian control would slow the Tactitum, perhaps even hamstring it, but this was the price to be paid to avoid the mistakes of the past.
- Perhaps most importantly, the Ordo Securitas of the Inquisition would be formed to monitor not only the assassins but the other highest echelons of the Imperium. These Inquisitors would be the guardians of the guardians, watching each Officio and Adeptus for corruption and abuse, wary of another Vangorich or Vandire emerging.
- However, due to their power to render judgment of even the highest figures of the Imperium, the Sicarius were only permitted to advise and regulate, never taking direction — at least, in theory. In reality, many Securitas Inquisitors found rather...creative ways to circumvent the decree that they may not maintain "men under arms".
The Emperor had spoken, and these were his commands.
The Officio Tactitum is a far more modern organization nowadays. Though it primarily is still famed for its assassins, it also produces operatives specialised in sabotage and covert warfare far from home. They are often assigned to the command of the Astra Militarum or individual Inquisitors; and each lone assassin is still a finely honed killing machine, but they now serve as spectacular force multipliers rather as ends in themselves. The Ordo Sicarius is satisfied with this arrangement, as it avoids the high risk and cost of the traditional lone wolf operations, and allows them to keep an eye on any assassins deployed.
The Temples? They are far less superstitious and shadowy than they once were, although the name of "Temple" has stuck in defiance of every reform that has been attempted. Each of them has diversified, yet maintained their core roots in their quest to perfect the art of murder.
Temple Vindicare, who reach out far longer than all but the highest of psykers to deliver their kiss of death.
Temple Venenum, who can find a thousand toxins to kill a man from the gentlest of paradise worlds, each one exquisite to the palette in their own unique way.
Temple Eversor, who can scythe through men, orks, eldar and even Astartes with the horrifying ease of a power sword through flak armour.
Temples Culexus — who hunt down their prey with soulless eyes — and Callidus, who have no face to call their own.
Temple Vanus, which according to popular belief ha[EXPUNGED]oes not exist. The Ordo Sicarius has confirmed this, and will not allow any dispute.
The primary headquarters of the Tactitum, including the Temples, lies on Terra, although across each segmentum there are localised, lesser temples that train assassins, liaison with other Imperial Forces, and seek recruits from outside the Schola the Temples traditionally draw from. The Ordo Sicarius also work closely with segmentum command to permit proper coordination if Tactitum assets are needed, although on a smaller level they are surprisingly good at scouting talented assassin candidates. With proper Inquisitorial oversight, the assassins are kept well in check, and well out of politics.
The High Lords of Terra still retain a seat for the Grandmaster of Assassins, but it has been left vacant ever since the reign of Emperor Vandire. Few imagine it will ever be filled again.
“We are the ones who give of ourselves so that others may walk in the light”
— Motto of the Adeptus Astronomica
Of all the professions available to psykers of the Imperial Schola, perhaps none is more honored than those of the Adeptus Astronomica. These are the people who make daily life in the Imperium possible with literally nothing more than their sheer force of will. The Astronomican represents one of the first major cooperative efforts between humanity and the Eldar. Although originally of human creation, its design was improved by the Eldar as a gift of gratitude for humanity’s participation in the raid on Nurgle’s mansion, greatly improving the efficiency of the Astronomican and strength of its beacon. Although original estimates based on the average ability of a human psyker suggested that twelve thousand people at once would be needed to power the beacon, Eldar modifications decreased the actual number of psykers needed by an order of magnitude, while drastically reducing the amount of stress on an individual psyker.
However, at the same time, no profession is more tragic than that of the Adeptus Astronomica. Creating a psychic “bonfire” that can be seen by the entire Imperium is taxing on the individual, even with twelve hundred other psykers to share the burden. As a result, the psykers of the Adeptus Astronomica are rotated out in shifts in an attempt to maximize their health, with a third of the choir being rotated out every four months. However, even this is not enough to prevent long-term damage. Few psykers live more than a year, and almost none have survived more than eighteen months. In the Halls of the Astronomican, right before one enters the Chambers of the Astronomican itself, there is a small, grassy courtyard, nearly empty save for a stele made of the hardest adamantium. On it is inscribed the names of every psyker who has died in the course of powering the Astronomican, a testament to their bravery so that the Imperium will never forget their sacrifice.
Origin of the Astronomican
"Only humanity would think to solve the complex and intricate issue of interstellar travel by building a giant psychic bonfire"
— Finarion, specialist bonesinger from Biel-Tan sent to examine the Astronomican, circa M31.
When the Great Crusade started, there wasn’t any need for an Astronomican. The Steward was a Man of Gold, originally designed to link human worlds together during the days of the Great and Bountiful Empire, and as a result was a fairly effective psychic landmark in his own right. Combined with the fact that the Imperium had access to the Void Borns’ maps and the knowledge of the relatively safe Warp currents, it was possible to reach many of the nearby systems using short (but very slow) warp jumps.
Having delegated most of the Legion running and Great Crusading to the primarchs, the Steward was free to try and figure out a long-term solution to the navigation issue. The Steward made no secret of this fact, and the primarchs didn’t complain about it because they themselves were starting to notice as they were getting further and further from Earth it was getting harder and harder to navigate. Indeed, some of the primarchs were actually trying to convince the Steward to stay on Earth, because if the Steward got killed it meant no Astropaths and the nascent Imperium would likely tear itself apart over succession crises, especially after the Steward was taken by surprise and nearly killed by a super-Ork on the nascent Attack Moon of Gorro.
The Steward hit upon the idea of the Astronomican when the Imperium had at least several hundred worlds under its belt. He found that if he could get the beacon started other psychics can maintain the “fire”, but it would take a lot of them working together and they'd have to rotate in shifts. Thankfully the Imperium is big enough now to provide those numbers. Unfortunately, while it wasn’t as dangerous at first, as the Astronomican grew in response to the need from the Crusade it becomes increasingly lethal and difficult to handle. The warp-flow goes "lumpy" and the lumps are dangerous proportional to the size of the "flame” you are trying to generate. Given that the flame is bright enough to see across lightyears, the lumps are pretty lethal.
When the alliance with the Eldar happened, the Eldar sent their specialists to Old Earth as part of the deal with humanity to look at the thing. Then they backed out of the hall slowly at the sheer insanity of what these mon-keigh were trying to do. The Eldar started attaching shock absorbers and buffering jars and shit to it, and the lifespan of resident psychics jumps up dramatically. Nowadays, maintaining the Astronomican is considered an actual job rather than a death sentence, albeit one with a greatly reduced quality and length of life even compared to baseline humanity. Eldar and human technicians continued to tinker with the Astronomican, adding more devices to it, like lenses and spectrum filters. And that's where the Astronomican is at now. It can't be tweaked any more, having hit the hard upper limit on what is possible with a single, giant psychic lighthouse.
Theoretically other alternatives are possible, and in hindsight it would have been easier to just make a bunch of small lighthouses instead of one big one, in a similar vein to what the Great and Bountiful Human Empire did with the Men of Gold and likely what many other races did back during the Dark Age of Technology. Such devices would not only be more efficient, but would greatly — though not entirely — reduce the issues with the potential lethality of the job. Unfortunately doing so would require resources that the Imperium doesn’t have, either in the form of Iron Minds/Men of Gold or psykers that are desperately needed by the big Astronomican on Old Earth. And it it not possible to simply put out the Astronomican and start over, because the loss of the Astronomican, even temporarily, would be catastrophic for the Imperium.
Rough Notes from the Threads
- Formed in the aftermath of the reign of Vandire and the Civil War along with the Ordo Securitas
- They receive some cybernetic and biological enhancements, putting them roughly on par with a Spartan from Halo
- A group of 3 Sisters is roughly equal to 1 Space Marine, winning about 5 times out of 10. However, the Marine has a significant advantage in melee due to much better physical attributes and the Sisters are encumbered by their Power Armor due to lack of a Black Carapace. To win, the Sisters would need to leverage numbers and teamwork.
- I believe we said they mostly operate with the Inquisition, though their organization and exact scope of duties is unclear/undiscussed at the moment.
Daughters of Russ
The Daughters of Russ, better known as the Valkyries, are a organization similar to the Adeptas Sororitas unique for only recruiting from Fenris and the Fenrisian colonies. The Daughters claim to be matrilineal descendants of Leman Russ via his many daughters, but given the size of Leman Russ' family and the amount of time that has passed since Russ came to Fenris, it is likely that everyone on the Fenrisian Worlds can trace their ancestry back to Leman Russ in some way.
The Daughters of Russ are best known for their ferocity. Although the Sororitas are well known for their aggression and their single-mindedness, the Valkyries fight with a viciousness that seems almost inhuman. In addition, the Valkyries exhibit senses and other abilities that seem beyond standard Sororitas-level augmentation, leading some to suspect that the Sororitas enhancements either enhance the effect of the Canis Helix genes present in the general Fenrisian population or reawaken Canis Helix genes that were formerly dormant. Surprisingly, the Daughters are otherwise rather conservative for Sororitas, looking down on the sisterhoods who add additional augmentations like kill-glands. To the Valkyries, such additions mock and taint the skill of an individual in battle.
At the same time, the Daughters are also well-known for their talents in medicine. The Valkyries have close ties with the Sisters Hospitaller, and often find themselves being sent to reinforce flagging battalions and save as many of the wounded as they can. It is these practices that led the first leader of the Daughters of Russ to say “it is our job to look Morkai in the eye and tell him, ‘you will not touch them today’”, which eventually became shortened into the motto of the order.
Editor's Note: Needs to be seen how they relate to Sororitas. Are they actual Sororitas, the female equivalent of Space Wolves, or what? It was pointed out that the concept is good, but they don't seem to function like the Sisters (as internal police).
Adeptus Mechanicus and its branches
Without metal man is a beast. Without flesh man is a tool.
— Motto of the Adeptus Biologis
Despite being seen as just another branch of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Adeptus Biologis actually has very different origins from the rest of the Mechanicus. Instead of being derived from the Martian Mechanicum, the Biologis were originally formed from the various geneticists and biotechnologists living in the territories that the Warlord conquered, including the Geno-Hippie conclaves of western Merika, the Genesmiths of Duscht Jemanic, and the Genewrights of Luna. The Biologis were eventually folded into the Mechanicus proper, and centuries of cultural and philosophical exchange have greatly reduced the differences between the two, but the group still retains its own unique quirks.
Today, the Adeptus Biologis performs a multitude of services throughout the Imperium. They travel to newly pacified worlds to catalogue and study the native flora and fauna. They study diseases and synthesize new medications to constantly try to beat back the plagues of Nurgle. They try to engineer more efficient versions of crops to feed the burgeoning Imperium. They often oversee the augmentations of Space Marines and Sisters of Battle.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Adeptus Biologis and most other divisions of the Adeptus Mechanicus is their stance on innovation. According to the Biologis, the Mechanicus’ prohibition on invention and innovation only applies to technology, not nature, a loophole the Biologis are happy to exploit. As a result, the Adeptus Biologis are much more willing to try new techniques than the Mechanicus proper, which is one reason why things like rejuvenant drugs and augmentation have improved over the centuries, even if it is only at a glacial pace. Of course, given that all of their equipment comes from the Mechanicus proper, the Biologis are often unable to build the kind of equipment they would like to use.
Another major difference between the Biologis and the rest of the Mechanicus involve physical augmentations. The Biologis are just as augment-happy as their brethren within the AdMech, but tend to prefer artificially engineered organs and genetically modified tissues over cybernetic implants. Even those Magos Biologis who do have mechanical implants often strive for a balance between flesh and metal, seeking to perfect the flesh before they involve the machine.
Like virtually every organization in the Imperium, the Adeptus Biologis can be broken up into a number of factions. The old rivalry between the Geno-Hippies and Genesmiths is still there, only under different names. The Emergentists believe that artificial biological designs must be “balanced” as part of an integrated whole much like natural designs, and that the greatest parts of a design often emerge via interactions that are not foreseen. By contrast, the Utilitarians believe the body is analogous to a machine, and must be treated as such. Any deviation from the perceived purity of a design is something not to be tolerated.
The Mechanicum — that is, the actual Mars-based organization who make up the majority of the Adeptus Mechanicus and primarily work with technology — do not like the Adeptus Biologis very much. They see the Adeptus Biologis as pretenders whose accoutrements are little more than aping the Mechanicum of Mars. They see the aversion of the Biologis to cybernetic augmentations as an affront to the Credo Omnissiah. Nevertheless, they begrudgingly acknowledge the Biologis despite seeing them as lesser, much in the way scholars of the “hard sciences” looked down on biology prior to the Age of Strife. Perhaps this is one reason why, at some point in history, the Biologis changed their apparel from dressing in robes of red to robes of dark green.
'Tech-Heresy' and its definition
The Last Ditch
On Mars, there are a series of missile silos. They appear on no map, save in the personal files of the Fabricator General and his inner circle. Hardcopy, not digital. Nothing about them has ever been committed to cogitator. Their locations are concealed beneath layers of bureaucratic subterfuge; declared off- limits zones, patrolled by guards unaware of what they protect. Onion layers of lies await the curious; the suspicious might continue digging past the first lie, but the second? The third, the fourth?
The bunkers themselves are manned by unaugmented humans; none possess even the simplest augmetic. Perhaps the only such in the whole of the regular armed forces of the Mechanicus. Everything is done with the simplest possible technology; even electricity is used sparingly. Steam engines drive complex mechanical assemblies. Everything is designed with physical, manually-operated lockouts. Everything requires human action to operate. From the air or orbit, they blend in perfectly with the environment.
Inside the silos, the crews are terribly isolated. Their only contact with the outside world is a single cable, through which the fire order will come. If it ever comes. None of them know of the purpose of their silo, or of the existence of the others. Each shift lasts a year at least. They play endless hands of cards, read books, and bullshit continuously. And wait for the order to come down. In ten thousand years it has not.
As for the missiles themselves? Vortex warheads. Currently the largest concentration of vortex weaponry in the entire Imperium. Over a thousand of the weapons, each capable of felling cities and Titans. Enough firepower to scour a continent clean, to say nothing of the possibility of daemonic incursion.
Arranged in a loose ring around the Noctis Labyrinth.
This is but one of the contingency plans the Guardians of the Dragon have prepared.
The Ark Ship
As part of their duty to keep the Imperium safe, members of the Inquisition are often forced to consider possibilities that would be unthinkable to the rest of the Imperium. Contingency plans for disasters on the scale of which most people would be unable to imagine. The Ark Ship is one such contingency.
The Ark Ship is one of the biggest secrets of the Inquisition and Mechanicus. What little information that has leaked out to the public has been hilariously exaggerated.
It is the final contingency plan. The ultimate Plan B. Activated only in the unthinkable event that the Imperium falls and the galaxy becomes uninhabitable for sentient life. Due to its nature and the implications of its construction - even as a contingency plan - knowledge of the actual ship has been suppressed for fear of causing a panic.
It's a highly modified Omnissiah class ship, modified to survive for thousands upon thousands of years at minimal power and activity. The captain is the one Inquisitor of Ordo Desolatus, held in stasis. Its cargo is rack upon rack of genetic samples and frozen embryos, from every sapient species in the Imperium; humans to Eldar to Tau, and everything in between.
The crew are mechanically augmented up to the very edge of what is legally allowed before you start treading into A.I. territory. Metal can shut down cleanly and is far more efficient than flesh. The crew, like the captain, are in stasis.
If the Imperium falls, the Ark's orders are to take one of countless planned FTL escape-routes to the galaxy's edge, and burn hard into the intergalactic blackness, in hopes of eventually rendezvousing with the escaping craftworlds at an outlying star-cluster to resupply. And to begin the longest journey.
The Five Flagships
Phalanx. Nicor. Mirabilis. The Rock. Terminus Est. These are names that are instantly recognized by any scholar of Imperial history, as well as feared throughout history by those who sought to do the Imperium harm.
The Five, often colloquially referred to as the “Five Big Bastards” after a comment made by primarch Rogal Dorn, were a series of massive super-dreadnoughts commissioned by the Imperium in the last days of the Unification of Sol and the early years of the Great Crusade. Each of these ships were roughly 25 kilometers long and bristled with conventional weaponry. The five ships were roughly comparable in size and shape, though the Phalanx was perhaps a little larger and a little more heavily-armed than her sisters. In addition to newly constructed material mined from the Sol system, the Five were also constructed from the recycled remains of the numerous scattered shipwrecks throughout the Sol system (many of which came to the attention of the Imperium at the suggestion of the primarch Horus), making them packed full of whatever Dark Age-era technology could be salvaged from the wreckage.
The original construction of the Five was intended to be a show of solidarity between the newly unified nations of Sol. The ships were to be commissioned by the newly named Steward of Earth, constructed by the Mechanicum of Mars in the shipyards of Luna, and would be crewed by the Void Born of the Sol migrant fleet. However, because of the time and resource-intensive nature of their construction, only two of these ships — the Rock and the Phalanx — were ready by the beginning of the Great Crusade. The Rock was sent out as the flagship of the Imperium's first expeditionary fleet helmed by the Dark Angels, whereas the Phalanx remained in the Sol system to act as a deterrent to any potential force that would threaten Mars and Old Earth. Construction of the remaining three — the Nicor, Mirabilis, and Terminus Est — was not completed until much later in the Great Crusade, when the resources of additional systems could be brought to bear for their completion.
The Five were intended to be a long-term investment. In addition to building ties of unity between the major factions of Sol, the Five were meant to be a show of strength, on the part of the nascent Imperium, to the greater galaxy. The huge size of the Five meant that their internal workings could support much larger than average hydroponic bays, which meant they could function away from the Imperium for long periods of time without resupplying and be largely self-sufficient if they were ever cut off from Imperial supply chains. This made the Rock the ideal flagship to send out with the expeditionary fleet. Eventually, the plan was for the Five to be sent to the far corners of the galaxy, one for each major Segmentum, to act as flagships and command centers for the Imperial Navy. The Phalanx, Rock, Terminus Est, Nicor, and Mirabilis were to be sent to Segmenta Solar, Obscurus, Pacificus, Tempestus, and Ultima, respectively. Unfortunately, random chance and the whims of history ended up scuttling this plan. Although originally constructed as part of a set, each of the Five suffered dramatically different fates.
The Rock was infamously stolen by the arch-traitor Luther during the Chaos of the War of the Beast, only to be reclaimed by the loyalist Dark Angels after the Lion's final battle with his brother. Luther had not had his hands on the Rock long enough for it to be irrevocably tainted by Chaos, and the Dark Angels were able to repurpose the battleship for their own uses. To this day, the Rock remains the mobile headquarters of the Dark Angels chapter.
The Phalanx, although heavily damaged in the War of the Beast, remains as it always has in the Sol System, an old guard dog ever-ready to fight those that would threaten the capital of the Imperium. Its legendary ramming action that repelled the Beast's attack planet Ullanor during the War of The Beast obliterated much of the original ship, as the relativistic impact vaporized almost all of the Phalanx, with only relatively small parts of the drive superstructure remaining attached to the ship's neutronium ramming prow and keel, which was later recovered from a highly elliptical orbit around Sol. Any conventional matter, including the body of Pius himself, would have been vaporized on impact, but neutronium is made of tougher stuff. The Phalanx was rebuilt from around this neutronium keel, missing many of the archaeotech systems originally contained within its frame but the keel was enough of a plank in the ship of Theseus to claim continuity with the original ship. The Imperium doesn't like to take defeat lying down.
The Mirabilis remains active in the galactic East, still acting as a flagship of the Imperial Navy rather than commanded by any chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, perhaps the only one of the Five along with the Phalanx that is still performing the job the Imperium intended for it. However, the Ultima Segmentum is nearly an order of magnitude larger than any other part of the galaxy, and there is little the Mirabilis can do beyond putting out fires.
The Nicor fought valiantly for many years, but was presumed lost in the aftermath of the Second Black Crusade. In late M40, the Carcharodons found the carcass of the Nicor floating out in the middle of the Segmentum Tempestus, and — after much friction with the rest of the Imperium — refurbished it into their new headquarters. Although the Nicor is probably capable of void combat once more, the Carcharodons prefer to keep it in a strategic location in the galactic South to act as a central base from which they can coordinate their attacks. Ironically, the Nicor in some ways is performing the job it had always been intended to do in the first place, striking fear in the hearts of any who would threaten the Imperium in the Segmentum Tempestus.
The Terminus Est served the Imperium through more military campaigns than any other member of the Five. After being sent to take back the Segmentum Pacificum when the Imperium set out to reclaim the Segmentum, the ship was commandeered in the aftermath of the war by Typhus the Pilgrim, who made it into the mobile headquarters of his breakaway chapter the Black Templars. For six millennia, the Terminus Est was a constant presence on the western front of the Imperium. Much like the Black Templars themselves, the Terminus Est was forever marching to war, never resting, never stopping, almost seeming to have an indefatigable personality of its own. If there is any truth to the Mechanicus' claim that ships have machine spirits, there is perhaps no better argument in support of this idea than the Terminus Est.
However, no ship can fight forever. In late M38, the Terminus Est finally broke down after back-to-back fighting in an Armageddon War and putting down an assault on Necromunda. The Terminus Est managed to limp its mass to high Necromundan orbit before tidal forces tore the ship apart. Today, the Terminus Est is the closest thing the Black Templars have to a static headquarters. Like the Nicor, the Templars claim the Terminus Est might have a few more battles in her, but so far none have been willing to put that claim to the test.
Blade of Luna
The Blade Of Luna is one of the first in a series of modified Mars-class battlecruisers equipped with oversized engines, the sensor networks of an Emperor-class battleship, and cutting edge vox warfare systems. Recently built by the shipyards based around Luna — not the orthodox masters of Mars — it is designed to serve as a support ship maintaining inter-fleet communications and tracking enemies for improved battlefield awareness.
This description vastly oversimplifies their role. While rebels and pirates who barely know how to keep a stolen ship's anti-gravity working are little threat to the pirate-extermination forces that a ship of this type would lead — the Crone Eldar, Necrons, Olamic Quietude, and Dark Mechanicus, to name the most infamous — all have their own foul brand of techno-sorcery.
Daemonic scrap-code can cut power to point defense arrays just long enough to let a barrage of boarding pods bite into the hull, secure encryptions can be cracked in milliseconds by machinery powered by broken star gods, crucial orders can be lost under a tidal wave of jamming signals, augurs that previously tracked micrometeorites from one end of the solar system to the other suddenly lose their visuals; the list goes on. The Imperial Navy has learned its bloody lessons over ten thousand years of war, and its more technically-minded factions are the inheritors of practices fine-tuned prior to the Dark Age of Technology.
Hence the limited production run of ships like the Blade Of Luna, testbeds for the latest electronic warfare systems to serve as sword and shield against the Imperium's enemies. Her higher decks are packed with banks of compartmentalized, EMP-shielded cogitators and consoles, each linked to a backup battery in the event the redundant power couplings to the Generatorium fail in battle. Augur arrays normally found only on the Emperor-class battleship cover the Blade Of Luna in a thin forest of sensor spars and domes, and in concert with the cogitators enable the ship's Techpriests to tune out false positives and home in on elusive cloaked enemies. Gellar fields, hexagrammatic wards, and crude automations of machine exorcism are present to fend off the more daemonic varieties of scrap-code. There are other technologies that are not so enthusiastically discussed by the rather open-minded Mechanicus builders, but they have risen to meet the monumental challenges of those who would challenge the Omnissiah's vessels of war.
Deep Field Recon
Knowledge of its many enemies is vital to the Imperium's survival, and quite hard to come by. Oh, you can learn some things on the battlefield. Weapons and tactics. But this is far, far from a complete picture. It tells you nothing of their logistics, of their politics, of their inner minds, of the deep knowledge needed to strike at the heart of an entire civilization. Fighting on the battlefield tells you how to fight on the battlefield, but not how to craft grand strategy.
Channels for gaining this deep knowledge are few. It is impossible to infiltrate the Silent Court, and there is no gossip there; likewise a tyranid cannot be bribed to turn against the Swarm, and even the smallest bribes in Shaa-Dome are far too horrible to pay. There is no trade with the Orks, and an embassy in Commorragh would be nothing but a buffet table. Intercepting the communications of Chaos is actively hazardous to the health of the reader's mind and soul, and any wire-tapping the thoughts of a dark God is wont to become a conduit for them into reality. All the tricks human nations have used to spy on each other since time immemorial are useless against the vast majority of the Imperium's foes. But ignorance is not an option.
Thus, the Deep Field Recon squadrons.
The Deep Field Recon squadrons are one of the few methods the Imperium has for investigating the inner reaches of enemy territory. Deep Field Recon ships are made to be as stealthy as possible, typically mounting multiple forms of concealment. Reflex shields and Eldar holo-fields are standard, as are various forms of passive stealth such as low-signature engines and auspex-baffling plating. Some are equipped with more exotic devices still; archeotech and xenotech cloaking devices salvaged from the far corners of the galaxy. An (un)lucky few bear psychic choirs on board, actively diverting the attention of possible searchers away.
The design of any two ships are often dissimilar; due to the incorporation of xenotech in the design, the main body of the Mechanicum refuses to construct them. Thus, their creation is left to the heterodox and other member states; the Hubworld League, the Eldar, the Interex, and increasingly the Tau.
With these techniques, they dive deep into the sanctums of the enemy, gathering information, inserting and extracting commando teams, and striking targets of opportunity. The Deep Field Recon squadrons are a vital part of anti-Ork efforts, providing forewarning of rising WAAAGGHHs and delivering kill-teams to eliminate rising Warbosses. Others ghost through the Silent Empire, mapping tomb worlds, counting World Engines, and watching for any preparations for an attack. This is one of the highest mortality duties among in Deep Field Recon; the Silent Empire guards its borders jealously, and its reserves of techno-sorcery are vast and deep. There are even rumors of ships covered in hexagrammatic wards operating under the auspices of the Alpha Legion, plunging into the Eye of Terror itself to strike at the Great Enemy in its lair.
Life in the Silent Service is frequently nerve-wracking. By the nature of their missions, they spend their time deep in enemy territory far away from any possible reinforcements. Often for years on end, as they slowly assemble a complete picture of enemy numbers and capabilities from telescope pictures and stray vox-chatter. At the same time, it is often quite boring, drifting through space with everything but stealth systems and passive sensors powered down, watching an enemy with no idea of their presence. When hunting, the nature of the wait and tension changes as they slowly glide towards their targets, moving into position for a single kill-shot and hoping their exit route remains clear.
Deep Field Recon squadrons usually operate under the auspices of the Inquisition. Typically, they are attached to various Watch Fortresses keeping an eye on specific threats or regions of space. Most Recon ships operate with an Inquisitor, or at least an Interrogator, on board, specializing in the specific threat the ship is operating against. Many Inquisitors use vessels of similar design as their personal vehicles, even if not specifically on Deep Field Recon duties; the class is well-suited to Inquisition duties generally.
There are few Deep Field Recon vessels. Due to the exotic equipment and demanding tolerances of the class, they are difficult to build; only a few thousand exist at any given time. But, in enemies of the Imperium ambushed and destroyed, and even more in vital knowledge gathered, each is worth ten times its number in conventional vessels.
Handmaidens of Isha
Just as it is the job of the Adeptus Custodes to protect the Emperor of Mankind and his wife, it is the job of the Handmaidens of Isha to protect the Grand Empress Isha and her husband. The Handmaidens of Isha are the Eldar side of the Imperium's praetorian guard, drawn from the ranks of her most devout followers in the cults that sprung up in her wake following her rescue from Nurgle's mansion. Compared to many other followers of Isha, the blessings of the Handmaidens are rather subtle; little more than an immunity to virtually all diseases and a seeming inability to sustain permanent damage from scarring or age. This allows the Handmaidens to perfect their physical training in a way that only one who does not have to worry about wear and tear on their body can. The Handmaidens are no pushovers; they are armed with swords known as "the Thorns of Isha" that can inflict wounds that do not heal. The Handmaidens are also noted to have a connection to Isha that borders on the preternatural, able to sense if their charge is in direct danger even if they are unable to see her directly.
However, the Handmaidens of Isha have an another job in addition to protecting their Empress. As the Imperial Couple travels from world to world, the Empress often sends her handmaidens to inspect the world beforehand to ensure that the world is as upstanding as it often claims to be. Although many worlds have their own dirty little secrets that they have managed to keep secret from the Administratum, few can hide from the gaze of the All-Mother. The Adeptus Custodes are likewise often posted in Imperial society to keep watch for potential threats against the Emperor and Imperium, though most of them are incapable of doing so without drawing attention to themselves. The Handmaidens of Isha, on the other hand, are capable of passing themselves off as just another Eldar, or even avoiding notice altogether. Because the two groups have essentially the same job, they often end up directly cooperating with one another.
The Avatar of Khaine
The Avatar of Biel-Tan
Biel-Tan hasn't deployed an Avatar of Khaine for nearly one hundred years. This wouldn't be surprising for a lesser or more peaceable craftworld, but this is Biel-Tan; the most well-known, influential, and martially famous craftworld. That Khaela Mensha Khaine hasn't made an appearance in a year, much less a near century, would provoke suspicion.
However, among the Eldar, it's considered a bit of a faux pas to ask about this. The Inquisition is another matter entirely though, and they already know the answer.
Biel-Tan's avatar has been awake this entire time. Biel-Tan summoned the avatar for the Ghoul Campaign to help a desperate sword wind against a siege of orks with daemon support. The avatar of war led the survivors — many of whom were wounded — to victory against the orks, culminating in the avatar decapitating the bloodthirster Yel'Grazruk and shattering the spirit of the enemy. The sword wind rejoiced.
Then they noticed the avatar wasn't gone. It had followed the fleeing enemy, killing as many as it could reach. The next day, the avatar was still killing. And the next. On the fifteenth day, it ran out of enemies to kill and came back, planted its sword at the center of the Biel-Tan fortifications, and waited.
After the twentieth day, the Biel-Tan forces found themselves very worried indeed. The burning avatar still smoldered, glaring out at the horizon. In the face of their persistent god, the Eldar finally attempted to psychically contact the avatar; a hazardous venture for even the most skilled warlock.
After the warlock stopped chanting in a dead language, she managed to sputter out "Khaine waits for his chariot". No one knew what that referred to. But when the autarch ordered the sword wind back to Biel-Tan, the avatar followed, marched through the craftworld, and returned to his temple, still burning.
The avatar has sat there since, waiting for his chariot.
The Craftworld Eldar military forces are descended from, essentially, civic militia. Thus, their war machines were optimized for ease of construction, ease of maintenance, and ease of piloting; war machines a part-time non-professional volunteer force could use and maintain. The aftermath of the Fall, when the survivors were thrown back onto highly limited resources and the whole population had to be mobilized to survive, only reinforced this paradigm. 10,000 years of Imperium have loosened it; the number of super-heavy vehicles in the Craftworld arsenal has increased both in absolute number and proportionally as more resources become available. Likewise, more specialist designs for specific battlefield roles have become commonplace as the need for every tank to potentially fill every role lessens. Still, the typical Craftworld grav-tank remains a stripped-down (in terms of mechanical complexity, not necessarily weight) generalist.
As the Tau first expanded from their cradle of civilization on T’au into the greater galaxy, they began to realize that many of their opponents—including Orks, tyranids, Space Marines, and more—were devastatingly effective in close-quarters combat. Although the Tau preferred to avoid melee combat whenever possible, they realized that many of their opponents were not going to do them a favor and do the same. The Tau would have loved to use their auxiliaries to make up for this deficiency, but among their close allies only the Kroot were well-suited for close combat. And there were far more Tau regiments than there were Kroot to go around.
As a result, at the behest of O’Shovah (Commander Farsight) back before the Schism, the Tau Empire decided to solve this problem by building bigger and more durable versions of the Crisis battlesuit, specifically designed for melee combat. It has been suggested that O’Shovah was inspired to pitch his idea when he realized that battlesuits could be used to compensate for the Tau’s smaller physical stature and reluctance to engage in melee combat against foes, such as Orks and Space Marines, but the Tau vehemently deny this is the case. Unlike most battlesuits, which were designed as mobile platforms for heavy ranged weaponry, these suits were designed for close quarters combat. Like all Tau battlesuits these suits often carry guns, but more often than not these tend to be close-range weapons like shotguns, or tend to be a melee weapon first and foremost, like a giant bayonet to which attaching an actual gun is an afterthought. The Tau called them Mont’kau Battlesuits, named after a particularly terrifying species of predator from their homeworld of T’au. To the rest of the Imperium, who lacked the appreciation for the intricacies of the Tau language, these suits simply became known as Predator Battlesuits.
Compared to a Space Marine or an Aspect Warrior, Mont’kau battlesuits aren’t as particularly agile in close-quarters combat, as they lack the Black Carapace of a Space Marine or the flesh and blood agility of an Eldar. But like all Tau battlesuits they are lightweight for their size and—more importantly—easily replaceable. The purpose of the Mont’kau battlesuits is not to serve as shock troops, but instead to act as a bulwark to keep the close combat forces of the enemy away from the firing line. Mont’kau battlesuits are typically piloted by battlefield veterans, ones who are accustomed to the chaos of battle and have fast enough reflexes to fight on the front lines. As a result, although melee combat is still the Tau’s biggest weakness, at least the Tau now have an answer to the numerous close-combat specialists that dominate the galactic landscape and are not a complete joke about it. Nevertheless, the Tau claim that they are continually improving on the Mont’kau design, and that one day the Mont’kau battlesuits will be the equal of the front line combatants of the other major races.
One common addition to Mont’kau battlesuits is an outer layer of explosive reactive armor, made of an alloy similar to (but more brittle than) the traditional fio’tak, which is designed to fragment into a spray of ceramite-like shrapnel. This reactive armor can either be used to provide additional protection against anti-personnel ranged attacks or be command-detonated to act like a makeshift claymore mine. These reactive armor plates are actually capable of being added to a wide-variety of battlesuits, but are most often associated with the Mont’kau battlesuits due to their role in close combat. These additions, along with the directed flechette grenades that are now a common component of Tau infantry gear, were largely devised as contingencies against the Dark Eldar, whom the Tau held a particular hatred for after their repeated raids of the Tau Empire in the wake of the A.I. rebellion, the Tau Reformation, and the vanguard Hive Fleets. To the Dark Eldar, for whom speed was their primary protection, such devices would prove lethal.
Although mankind had experimented with quadrupedal walking machines as early as M3, the use of these machines in warfare would not come into their own until much later, reaching their zenith just before and during the Age of Strife. The separation of the myriad worlds of the Great and Bountiful Human Empire during the Age of Strife resulted in each human world developing its own unique way of coping with the adverse conditions of the period, leading to an explosion of new technologies and new adaptations of old ones. Among these new weapons were the sagittars — a term used to both refer to the quadrupedal walking and the people who rode them — developed by the Interex of the Segmentum Pacificus. Although originally designed as scouts and heavy cavalry, sagittars would quickly become the backbone of Interex ground warfare.
Sagittars are primarily controlled by their rider, who would be neurally linked to their mount, in order to operate their mechanical limbs and onboard armory as if the machine was an extension of themself. Because of this, it often takes several years for a sagittar rider to fully learn how to control their machine’s limbs as if they were their own. When riderless, the robotic portion of the sagittar is controlled by an extremely simple artificial intelligence (about as simple, if not moreso, than those seen in Legio Cybernetica constructs), capable of standing still, returning to the rider’s side when commanded, or seeking cover in a firefight, and not much else. It is only when linked to their rider that a sagittar is capable of more complex action.
In addition to serving as a mobile mount, sagittars also function as a mobile armory for their rider. The rear portion of the mount contains a number of weapons, which can be switched between as needed. The most common weapon used by the Interex is the magnetic bow, which consists of a magazine of two-foot long spikes attached to a pair of arms, each of which contained a pair of electromagnets. A current is sent through the bow when the weapon is fired, accelerating the projectile to velocities high enough to penetrate ceramite armor. Adjusting the arms of the bow to be closer or further from the main barrel increases or decreases the power, accuracy, and recoil of the shot. Skilled riders can even turn their bodies around 180 degrees while retreating, to fire parting shots while their mount runs away from the battle. The armory will also contain lances, swords, or electrified throwing lances for other tasks. If an enemy attacks too fast for the rider to grab a weapon, the sagittar can strike out at its foe by kicking with its hydraulic legs.
In some ways, Interex sagittars act as highly mobile infantry as opposed to cavalry. Sagittars are stronger than a baseline human footsoldier, but their primary advantage over other elite troops — such as Astartes and Aspect Warriors — is their extreme mobility. Although sagittars can fight in traditional cavalry charges, the near ubiquitous presence of ranged weapons in the galaxy makes this a near-suicidal endeavor. Instead, the Interex use the superior mobility of their sagittars to outflank and outmaneuver slower opponents. This fits well with the general Interex policy of war, which was to dictate where and when a battle would occur such that battles would be fought under conditions that favored the Interex in order to minimize casualties on both sides. Although not as fast as an assault bike, under good conditions a sagittar can travel at speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour, and unlike flesh-and-blood mounts sagittars do not get tired. Sagittar legs are also well-built to traveling over uneven terrain, as opposed to horses.
Because the sagittar’s mounts are an extension of themselves, rather than a separate animal, sagittars do not suffer from many of the typical weaknesses of biological cavalry; a sagittar cannot be startled as easily as a horse can because the only way to startle a sagittar is to startle the rider. However, sagittars do have some weaknesses. Because the rider of a sagittar has to be able to turn around to access the onboard armory, the armor has to be relatively light and flexible around the waist, making it a weak point. Since contact with the Imperium, the Interex have created models with heavier armor and more powerful weapons, but have never been able to fully eliminate this weakness. Additionally, because the rider sits above the fray of the battle, in close-combat conditions where the sagittar is unable to exploit its greater mobility, that same height which allows the sagittar to pick and choose its targets on the battlefield makes them an easy target for snipers or other high-powered ranged weaponry. If the legs are damaged, it is often possible to kill the rider before they can eject from their sagittar. Finally — and most importantly — although sagittars are good at offensive actions and hit-and-run attacks, they are not as effective when they are forced to stand and fight, whether they are forced into a position in which they cannot retreat or need to fortify and protect an objective. In the past, this is often when the Interex would call in the Kinebrach to supplement their sagittars as shock troops. Today this role is generally filled by other forces.
However, sagittar usage has never really caught on outside of the Interex and a few associated territories for a variety of reasons. First, sagittars occupy a rather awkward place in Imperial Tactics; sagittars are more expensive and more difficult to replace than flesh-and-blood cavalry such as horses, yet too slow for tactics used by heavy cavalry such as assault bikes and jetbikes. In some parts of the Imperium highly orthodox Mechanicus adepts will refuse to construct parts for sagittars, considering their machine spirits too close to A.I. for comfort (as they do the Legio Cybernetica), and since this simple intelligence is required for sagittar function no sagittars are made. Finally, sagittar fighting involves mastering an unusual set of tactics, including the ability to rapidly retreat and regroup from the battlefield when it becomes necessary. This is very different from typical Imperial tactics — particularly the Cadian doctrine, the most commonly followed military doctrine in the Imperium — which primarily focuses on the defense and holding of territory and aggressive action being undertaken primarily through artillery barrages. Sagittar fighting thus requires a very different mindset than is typically found among Imperial forces; one that is found only in groups such as the Armageddon Outriders or the inhabitants of the Pastoral Worlds. Nevertheless, a well-trained sagittar battalion is still a welcome sight for an Imperial commander on any battlefield.
Hubworld League (Squats)
Destroyermen are the heavy infantry of any squat army. The concept of Destroyermen originally derived from the squat custom of having people who would risk their lives as the first ones to enter an unexplored cavern or mine shaft, to see if it was safe to enter. Despite being clad in the best protective gear available, this work was extremely dangerous — as evidenced by the casualty rate — but at the same time it paid extremely well. However, being mostly collectivists, a squat clan would often not waste all of the earnings on themselves. Instead, they would put into upgrading and improving the protective suit, making it more likely that the individual performing this job would keep coming back intact. This bizarre method of technological natural selection went on for millennia, until eventually most squat colonies had numerous sets of masterwork craft powered armor scattered among various clans. From there it was a simple leap to go from using this armor for checking for gas pockets and occasional hostile xenos to using them in open warfare against threats like Orks. Destroyermen are often the “tip of the spear” in squat armies, fighting in areas where casualties are likely to be high. Destroyerman armors have often been in squat families for generations, and the living clan members are fiercely protective of them, seeing them as emblems of their clan’s glory and heritage.
Like most squat technology, the concept of Destroyermen and Destroyermen suits was developed during the Age of Isolation, the period in which the Hubworld League was cut off from contact with the majority of humanity. Destroyerman armor is often referred to as the little brother of Space Marine terminator armor, and there is a grain of truth to that statement; Destroyerman armor and Terminator armor actually spring from a common source: the environmental hazard suits used for working in hard vacuum or mining in inhospitable conditions during the Dark Age of Technology. However, whereas Terminator armor was retrofitted for military usage and has been increasingly refined for combat over millennia, Destroyerman armor is much more sedate. This is in part because Destroyermen were never expected to see combat on the level that most Space Marines do, and in part because the ability to efficiently manufacture some of the higher-end devices for the armors (like teleporters) was lost during the Age of Strife. In general, Destroyerman armor is more geared towards making sure the wearer and the armor survives, rather than making a more efficient killing machine like Terminator armor. There is also the issue of the armor wearer; although the armor may be high quality, the person inside the armor is still only human, thus lacking the genetic modifications typical of Space Marines or Sisters of Battle (particularly the Black Carapace of the former) and therefore limited what a Destroyerman is capable of.
Desperados are the scouts of the Hubworld’s military. Typically drawing their ranks from the young and impetuous members of Hubworld society, desperados are often hotheaded and eager to make their name. When on duty, desperados spend most of their time on the outskirts of Hubworld society, traversing the planet in search of undiscovered mineral lodes, making sure the machinery that keeps the hold functioning is still intact, and even acting as ranch hands on the few worlds in the Hubworld League capable of supporting grox herds. Desperados typically ride jet bikes, which have the easiest time traveling over the geologically unstable surface of many worlds of the Hubworld League, but wheeled vehicles are not uncommon. The Hubworld League has the largest collection of human-made jet bikes in the Imperium, lovingly passed down family lines for generations. In times of war desperados find themselves conscripted into Hubworld military actions, acting as raiding parties, scouts, and light skirmishers. Other, better-trained forces serve as more dedicated mechanized cavalry combatants.
Hubworlder Land Trains
Not all planets are so lucky as to have a breathable atmosphere, tolerable levels of radiation, and stable tectonic activity. The people of the Hubworld League near the galactic core know that better than most, as many of their worlds exist near the galactic core and therefore are under constant upheaval from tidal flexing in the gravitational pull of a gas giant, pulsar, or the core of the Milky Way itself. On many worlds it is not even possible to build the traditional bunker-like fortresses favored by Hubworld architects. Instead, the primary form of squat habitation is in the form of Land Trains.
Land Trains were originally developed on less hostile worlds, designed as caravans to bring raw ore and other goods between major settlements. On less stable worlds, however, land trains have been refitted to become settlements in and of themselves, ballooning in size to encompass the populations of entire cities. These trains are typically found on the less tectonically stable worlds and often contain large amounts of mining equipment, allowing Hubworlders to mine the ores that drive their civilization while still being able to move out of the way of newly formed fissures and tectonic rifts
Many who see Hubworlder Land Trains draw parallels with trains from other worlds. The comparison is better in some ways than others; a better comparison might be an armored trade caravan, albeit one with treads and an ability to mine its own raw materials. Hubworlder Land Trains are formed by linked cars much as more familiar trains do, but they do not follow tracks. After all, on these worlds sedentary or semi-permanent structures are a death sentence. Instead, land trains have treads, allowing them to climb over even highly angled surfaces.
As with almost every piece of technology they developed, the Hubworlders soon found that it was easy to repurpose their caravans for war. Armored sides designed to shrug off micrometeorite impacts and stellar radiation are equally well suited to deflecting enemy fire. Furthermore, the large size of the trains makes them ideal not only for housing troops and transport materiel but also supporting truly massive weaponry, potentially making them armored juggernauts when used correctly.