Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Index Militarum: Scarran Irregulars

So, you might recall a while back that we were planning upon doing this for a Necron Dynasty. Well, that is still coming, but a lot of core ideas and issues need to be ironed out first. Plus, let's be honest, quite a few of these articles have been getting fairly lengthy of late. As such, this is just an experiment in the meantime, to further prove you can write a unique and distinctly characterised force in a few words without falling into the more cliched gimmicks or hinging upon a character driven narrative.

Also, after reading War Zone Damocles: Mont'Ka again, I wanted the Imperial Guard to be seen kicking the living hell out of the Tau Empire for once.

Regiment Name: 1st Scarran Irregulars

Founding: 998.M41
Homeworld: Scarra
Combat Doctrine: Infantry Assaults, Commando Raids, Mobile Warfare
Favoured Enemy: Tau Empire
Battlecry: Various. Thanks to originating from so many worlds, the regiment is noted to feature more than two dozen major regimental battlecries and sixty minor variations. 
Strength: Unknown. Estimated 60,000-87,000.

History: Unique among the major Imperial regiments of the Eastern Rim, 1st Scarran Irregulars neither received an official founding nor sanction to claim their homeworld for themselves. Driven by desperation rather than Administratum law, their order retains no true command structure nor single homeworld in which they mustered from. Instead, they were forged in hatred of a single foe: The Tau Empire.

Even after the bloody stalemate of the Damocles Gulf Crusade, the Imperium of Man woefully underestimated its xenos foe. Advancing at an exponential rate both militarily and technologically, multiple outlying worlds found themselves hard pressed by Fire Caste attacks as M41 drew to a close. Under the direction of Commander Shadowsun, Puretide's legendary disciple, world after world fell under their guns. Yet in each battle, each invasion and each failed counter offensive there were survivors. Some regiments would be forced to flee from doomed worlds without ever setting foot on the ground, or lead a fighting retreat from doomed worlds, or never even arrive before they fell; many losing themselves as the Imperial lines collapsed. Unable to regroup with Imperial command, these lost soldiers would often follow ancient doctrines ordering them to regroup at the abandoned fortress world of Scarra.

Ammunition starved, bereft of armoured support and with the Air Caste fleets at their heels, sane men would have surrendered. Instead, vengeful men led them. Under the direction of Cadian Lord General Jävian, the growing number of stragglers were reunified under a new loosely-formed command structure and descended to the crumbling ruins below, fortifying it as best they could. A mere three weeks later the Tau Empire arrived, ready to deal the killing blow to the Guardsmen remnants, and dispatching a sizable force to annihilate them. 

Upon arrival, the Shas'O anticipated an easy victory, delaying their fleets by a few rotaa at most. They were sorely mistaken. Using the hard learned lessons of past defeats and Scarra's hostile atmosphere to their advantage, the Fire Caste task force soon found themselves fighting a grueling street by street battle; with Jävian's forces limiting their best units and forcing them to advance piecemeal towards the enemy. Within two decs, the orbiting vessels had lost contact with the entirety of their ground forces. Then, the tau fleet was offered a single, awkwardly translated message:

"Try harder."

Since that time, each side has been locked in a bitter stalemate. While Scarran Irregulars, as they have come to be known, have resisted multiple assaults and launched their own strikes against the Empire's local forces, each solider knows they live on borrowed time. The cadres they have combated thus far have been little more than auxiliaries drawn away from the front lines, and sooner or later the relentless tau advance or sheer attrition will win out. Until that day, the Guardsmen intend to sell their lives dearly, buying what little time they can for the Imperium and fighting back however possible.


Working with whatever they have on hand and whoever they can muster, the Irregulars lack the more rigid organisational structures of better established forces. With their forces ranging from Adeptus Arbites survivors to Penal Legion troops, the army as a whole is little more than a loose coalition unit of varying forces, guided by Jävian's taskforce. Largely left to their own devices, each commanding officer is expected to see to negotiate with other units for specialists, information or more precious supplies, even as the core command structure keeps them fed and armed as best as possible.

Despite the distant nature of this command structure, no unit is truly isolated or left completely to its own devices. Communication and gatherings between company remnants is frequent, and while they rarely remain together for long, there is a surprisingly effective level of communication between units over certain regions. While crude, the decentralized structure permits them a better response time to threats than the vaster forces often micro-managed by their Warmasters. The obvious downside is that such independence can easily lead to rebellion, or to be caught off guard by a trap. For this reason, brief alliances or joint missions are actively encouraged, so that companies might watch one another for signs of possible dissent.

Each company is stripped to its bare minimum assets. If it cannot be carried by hand, it is a liability in their eyes, slowing them down and limiting the effectiveness of their guerrilla tactics. Organised into squads of twenty Guardsmen, each is supported by four man portable heavy weapons, often lascannons or autocannons. Few to none of these companies retain any armoured support of any kind, save for the occasional and extremely rare Chimera APC. These are reserved for rapid response units or scouting vehicles, monitoring the more inhospitable areas of the continent the Irregulars have called their home. Besides these, a small number also serve as highly mobile medical clinics, moving between regiments as needed for more vital wounds. Unfortunately, their resource starved nature means that fewer still run between units with each passing day, and any loss is keenly felt across the army.

Many soldiers are expected to carry out multiple roles in the field, and with the exception of Tech Priests or extremely skilled roles, multi task ranks have emerged among troops. Medicae-Sergeants and Acting Commissars are among the most prevalent among troops, each trained in the basic skills and talents of their creed. While lacking the finer points of any such career, this diversity prevents any company from being wholly crippled by the loss of one man.

Combat Doctrine: 

Many of the various regiments have been forced to abandon the very ideals they were founded upon since joining the Irregulars. Open combat, reliance upon vehicles, massed assaults and total adherence to the word of officers are among just a few such points. Instead, they have been trained to fight the Tau Empire move by move, having benefited from many hard learned mistakes and flaws within their stratagems. Instead, two overriding rules have been set down when facing their foe - "Use any resource at your disposal to hurt the tau. Always let them come to you."

Rather than allowing the Empire to engage their forces on their own terms, the Irregulars have begun initiating various tactics to limit the Fire Caste's combat effectiveness. While they cannot hope to match the innate maneuverability of their chosen foe, nor their superior technology, the Irregulars often opt to subvert it. Many defensive engagements have focused upon urban environments or running battles throughout the towering artificial canyons of the world, limiting their use of greater ranged weaponry and narrowing them into a series of tight bottlenecks. Unable to maintain a war of attrition the Empire's forces often retreat, usually right into the guns of another company. Even in the face of advanced sensors, the Irregulars' greater understanding of the land is enough to give them a considerable edge, and few locations are ever used twice for such battles.

If given the choice however, the Irregulars often prefer to wear down or limit their foe soon after arrival. Rather than outright destroying them in a sudden assault, an enemy cadre will be targeted by scouts and then briefly attacked by heavy weapons teams. Using coordinated fire from man portable lascannons, these groups will prioritize the Empire's larger war machines before falling back, forcing the Fire Caste to either hold position or continue without a critical part of their force. A Hammerhead Gunship can hardly fight with its main engines destroyed, after all, and a Crisis Battlesuit is near useless with only one leg. Such attacks serve to both leave an enemy force open to an assault, and following strikes divide then further disable crucial units, until they are forced to retreat.

While such acts might appear cowardly, the frustration of such failures and demoralizing effect is enough of a victory in of itself; destabilizing the front as a whole and gradually weakening morale among their forces. Most of all though, it often leaves vital supplies ready for the taking, to be used against the xenos forces. In spite of the Imperium's stringent policies against using xenotech, Jävian has quietly ignored this heresy in order to further learn of their foe and harry them. This is done not merely to learn of a technology's weak points, but how it might be put to their own disposal. From converting pulse rifle charge packs into lasgun magazines to turning enemy dropships into makeshift missiles, the Irregulars have all but outright taken the enemy's weapons for themselves. While each soldier knows that they would be tried and executed for such heresy in any other battlefield, their desire to see the Tau Empire fall overrides all else.

Many of these strategies are difficult to replicate elsewhere, as they hinge upon Scarra's hostile atmosphere and unique terrain. However, the Irregulars have applied several in rare off-world engagements, notably the Glei'Tsun Raid. Using a captured supply transport, a number of Harakoni and Valhallan volunteers launched a suicidal assault upon an vital enemy shipyard. While victory came at the cost of all those involved, their delaying tactics were enough for demolition teams to find the facility's reactors and totally destroy the facility. Several such actions have followed, and every time the Fire Caste prepares to focus its efforts elsewhere, the Irregulars offer them a reminder of how dangerous a foe they can be.


A forgotten blighted ruin, Scarra's history is a grim one indeed. Terraformed to suit human needs towards the end of the Great Crusade, Scarra was initially a defensive lynchpin among several sectors of the Eastern Rim. With every square inch of its surface covered by defensive fortifications, it was an ambitious task built to rival the works of both Dorn and Purturabo. Even after the outbreak of the Heresy interrupted completion of this project, and more pressing rebuilding efforts hindered its progress, it remained a key defensive structure until late M37 when the terraforming process began to fail. 

While few understood the exact reason for it thanks to the long lost secrets of the process, theories ranged from mysterious instabilities within the star system to the works of a Chaos cult. Whatever the case, Scarra was soon wracked by turbulent storms seemingly drawn to powerful electronic energies. Capable of easily downing smaller aircraft and tearing shuttles from the air, all but heavily armoured landers were destroyed outright the moment they entered the atmosphere. Worse still, the frequency of the storms and the unstable nature of the atmosphere severely hampered sensor readings from orbiting ships.

Ironically, while both aspects drove the Imperium from the world, they ultimately proved to be the Irregulars' greatest asset. Preventing the Tau Empire from launching massed assaults or support their ground troops with Air Caste fighters, it forced the Empire to rely almost entirely upon ground assets. Any exposed creature caught on the surface in such a storm would often find itself ripped from the ground or burned alive, and centuries of such storms ultimately ruined the once mighty bastions of the world. However, while they were severely damaged, none could be wholly destroyed. 

The crumbling fortified spires of the planet ultimately still stand despite their dilapidated nature, and kilometers of labyrinthine tunnels run beneath Scarra's surface. While many have collapsed under the strain of these storms, countless others still stand, allowing for easy transport for those familiar with the world's layout. While the Tau Empire's forces have repeatedly attempted to storm these tunnels, both the world's subterranean predators and ambushes by the Irregulars and dissuaded their efforts thus far.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a fan of the Tau Empire, but I too really wanted to see the Imperial Guard give it their all and go head to head with the Tau. This is satisfying as hell.