by Isaac

The Imperial Guard is as vast and varied as the Imperium itself. I love the idea of every Imperial World being tasked with raising a regiment, resulting in a wide variety of troops throughout the Galaxy. Although a number of different regiments have been explored by both Games Workshop and Forgeworld, I’ve personally never been all that excited by any of them. They tend to be direct direct historical analogs, whereas I like the idea of soldiers that look more like the Imperium they represent; anachronistic, strange, brutal, and doomed.

So I decided it would be a fun challenge to come up with a visual concept for my own Imperial Guard regiment; just a random example of one of the countless varied regiments you might find on a battlefield in the 41st millennium.

For inspiration, I began with the beautiful and haunting work of Ian Miller. I’ve always loved his drawings of stooped, desperate, and almost monstrous soldiers that grimaced their way through Rogue Trader.
Ian Miller

And then, of course, the master of it all, John Blanche.
John Blanche

I also looked beyond Games Workshop, particularly about the Samurai in Akira Kurosawa movies and the soldiers in Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
Akira Kurosawa (above), Hayao Miyazaki (below)

With these references loosely in mind I started to doodle, and arrived at this combination of helmet, poncho, and layered furs and armor.
sketches 1

I liked the sketches a lot but didn’t think I’d ever build any models … in fact I specifically sketched without thinking about conversion potential.
sketches 2

But ultimately, I couldn’t resist the temptation, and started to bash together a single trooper.
wip

He’s almost done now.
almost done

I don’t plan to build anymore Ashgali troopers, and instead this soldier will end up being employed by some of my Navigators and take a journey on the Alabaster.

The Ashghali trooper considered himself lucky. The seventh child of a middling family, he knew he’d never inherit a hab title of his own, or even a commission to grow his own clutch of fur-slugs on the farm gantries. His options were therefore limited to indentured hard labor in the pump-works, the cold nomadic life of a crust-harvester on the plains beyond the domes, or voluntary inscription in the Imperial Guard.

Never the best nor the worst during training drills, the trooper managed to survive his first engagements through a combination of dumb luck and desperation. Like many regiments, the Ashgali Third spent much more time in transit than in combat, and the years passed quickly, and eventually the trooper became a practiced shot with the cumbersome Ashgali long-rifle his regiment preferred. But he knew his luck wouldn’t last forever, and it’s common knowledge that there are no old men in the Militarum.

And so the trooper thanked the God-Emperor when his regimental Commissar informed him that an individual of superior status wished to buy out his contract. This was a rare but not unprecedented event. But normally whole squads were purchased, their service oaths cancelled out and replaced with contracts with whatever petty Noble or powerful trader had decided he’d like a unit of smartly uniformed, battle-tested solders at his beck and call.

So when the trooper reported to his commander’s office he was surprised to come to face to face with a freakishly unsettling noble, stopped low in the cramped quarters, his robes barely concealing his long limbs. The trooper knew this was no foul mutant but one of the sanctioned Navis Nobilite who were being carried on the same transport. The officer broke the tension:

“Trooper, it is our regiments’ great honor to have attracted the attention of this most splendid and blessed individual, Majordomo Hanza Akuhm of the venerable House Akuhm-Itano. For reasons I must confess I do not understand, this honorable Navigator has specifically requested your assistance.”

Confused, the trooper bowed his head and replied “It is my great honor, but surely there is some mistake. I am but a simple trooper, one of billions in this vast galaxy. How is it that such a glorious individual even knows who I am?”

After an uncomfortable silence, the Navigator turned his gaze on the trooper, the dark pools of his two human eyes glinting behind the amber haze of his helmet.

“Worry not dear trooper. It is the fate of all mortal men to crawl blindly through their lives, trapped between the unknowable future and unchangeable past. No one, not even the most powerful Tarotician or Soothsayer can see all that lies in the empty void that is the future. But I have a secret. You mustn’t tell anyone. You are very, very important indeed. I can’t yet tell just exactly why you are important, but I am sure of it. I have seen your face in my baubles, dreamed it in the Void. Fate may be branching, twisting and gnarled, but I can say for sure that you must join my dear family on our upcoming journey.”

Stunned by the strange tone of the Navigator, the trooper finally managed a response:

“Journey? What journey?”

The Navigator flashed a strange smile. “Why, passage aboard the good ship Alabaster.”

8 Comments on “Ashgali Trooper

  1. A lovely model and an even better story! It is great to see someone of your talents creating a faction of the Imperial Guard, because as you mention, there is great potential there to create some pretty unique things. I love the samurai look, and am amazed at how well the genestealer cult models work towards this end. I like the rifle you created too. Its simple design suggests that not all Guardsmen are as well supplied as say Cadian Shock Troops. The story really suggests the nebulous uncertainty of a guardsman’s life, and makes me even more excited about the Alabaster event!

    • Thanks! Really glad you like it.

      GW has been releasing so many wonderful “regular” human kits lately I think we’re going to see lots more great kit-bashed troopers, but so far I haven’t seen a lot of converted Guard regiments. Darren Latham said on twitter that his (beautiful!) new Hybrid Neophyte kit uses the same head and arm fittings as his Skitarii, for example. And I love that they are releasing a heads-only upgrade sprue!

      What I would really love to see are some new mortal human kits for Age of Sigmar; either updated “free peoples” that recall the Empire or Bretonnia or maybe even a bold new aesthetic direction. I love the Flagellant and Greatsword kits as much as the next guy but imagine a fantasy equivalent of the GS cult release (with the same level of proportion, detail, and sprue layout), and the conversion opportunities that would arise …

  2. This is truly beautiful, I share your thoughts wholeheartedly on the non excitement by the Cadians, they always seemed to be out of place in the universe to me.

    Great art, ideas and conversion. Can’t wait to see more

    • Thanks! I’m running out of time to complete this group but will try to get some good photos of the rest of the models soon. I’m particularly excited by some of the larger ones that I haven’t shared anywhere yet.

  3. An intriguing little model, but as others have already stated, what really drew me in is the elegantly written backstory. I’m now quite keen on learning how this nameless pawn’s fate pans out.

    Have you read any of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels? Your narrative style is quite remeniscent of his (a good thing).

    • Thanks! I’m much more confident creating images so I always get nervous when I share writing but it is fun to continue the thoughts that start while converting.

      I’ve read a few of the Culture novels and really liked them, so I take that as a big compliment! My favorite part of scifi and fantasy books is always the world building, and Ian M. Banks does a great job of that. I’ve also been really into Peter Watts the past few years — lots of thought provoking ideas.

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