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.
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.”