Welcome to The Factory: Imperial Guard Officers in Training

I know what you're thinking... did he fire six
plasma bolts, or only five?
Greetings, bloggers!  Thanks for swinging by.  Well, with my Forgeworld purchase into its third week with no sign of delivery, I'm afraid there's nothing new on the model front I can update you with, so instead here's some more procrastinating fluff from my master document.
This is an 'in character' document so the rambling English is deliberate, I assure you.  One thing I really wanted to emphasise with my fluff was that not everything in the 40K universe is better than modern times.  All too often, you read the 'fluff' for a Guard army that reads like the history of the US Marine Corps; I wanted to highlight that some things might have gone backwards with regards officer commissions, for example.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing - the 40K universe is a big, big place and some of our 'modern' ideas about how military forces should be run just wouldn't apply in the desolate, dystopian far future.  For example: Commissars executing their own men is seen as 'bad' by modern standards, but would the Imperium have even survived as long as it has by being soft and caring towards its men?  Perhaps not.

Anyway, a bit of a distraction from the point of the post which is to illustrate how a Palladian officer is selected and trained.  If you dare to read this in full, (thank you) and don't worry if it seems rambling and goes over your head.  I assure you that it's deliberate, and all part of the experience.  Any ideas and feedback would be humbly welcome.
9.   Recruitment of Officers. Palladian Officers can be recruited by any of the following methods.  They are listed in approximate order of frequency.

Appointment of a Cadet from the Annual Draft; the son of a serving Palladian Officer. 
Appointment of an Aspirant from the Annual Draft; the first son in a Palladian military family. 
Granting of a Brevet commission to a non commissioned officer in the field.
The procedure in each case is briefly outlined below.

(i.)  Cadets. Those of the Annual Draft who come from military families are presented, upon their 15th birthday by Terran years, with a literarae commendaticiae; a letter from the principal of their father’s regiment which invites and recommends him for commission into that regiment. From the cadet’s enlistment, he will spend 1 year in the Palladian Officer’s Military Academy. The top third of the class will be granted immediate commissions as 2nd Lieutenants and join their regiments. The remainder will be granted the honorary rank as ‘3rd Lieutenants Without Commission’, serving a probationary period before principal approval allows them to receive their full commission as 2nd Lieutenants.

(ii.)  Aspirant. If a recruit of a suitable background is identified, who does not possess a literarae commendaticiae (ie., a potential officer whose father is not an officer of the Palladian Guard) he may be accepted as a probationary, or Aspirant officer. Reasons for this case are numerous; a soldier may be of a noble family bloodline, but his father is either on the staff (and so without a regimental principal to furnish a literarae commendaticiae), on secondment to another Imperial Guard force, or even in rare cases an ordinary citizen who wishes to prove himself worthy of commission. Aspirants spend the same 1 year in the Military Academy, but do not ‘graduate’ with the other cadets. They are sent to Legionary units as 3rd Lieutenants Without Commission, and must lead a platoon for 24 months (including a combat posting) before returning to the Academy for their graduation and full commission.

(iii.)  Brevet. In the most exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to commission a man from the ranks to assume the command of a unit due to high casualties. This is avoided wherever possible, as historical precedent has shown that only those of the noblest blood are suitable to lead men in battle. However, the non-commissioned men are no less brave or skilled than their officers and can readily step in to command if required, until a suitable Cadet or Aspirant can be found. It should also be noted that while such Brevet Commissions are rare, Brevet Promotions are exceptionally common amongst commissioned officers. They are used to denote temporary seniority or honorary rank; for example if a Captain were to be made Principal of a company to find his Executive Officer also a Captain with a more senior commission, the Principal Captain would be made a Brevet-Major to give him the necessary seniority to command the company . Such brevets are extremely common, and this footnote should go some way to alleviating the confusion arising between the Palladians and other Imperial Guard regiments unaccustomed to the practice. Brevet commissions and promotions are published in the Gazette of Imperial Commissions.
10.  The Palladian Military Academy. The Academy referred to in the above texts is the central location for the training of all Cadets and Aspirants in the Palladian Guard, and although the famed Gothic structure in Perseus Majoris is renowned as a school of excellence, the title can refer to any school for training officers, provided the same training battalion staffs it. Most commonly ‘front line’ schools are often established so that officers can complete the last few months of their training nearer to true combat. The Academy itself houses a training battalion of 2,200 instructors, Cadets and aspirants. The course lasts for 18 months and is commanded by a Staff-General (Maj.-General equivalent) who will usually be a student of war, having trained at not only the Palladian Staff College but also the Cadian General Staff Offices as well. It is traditional for wounded or convalescent captains and subalterns to lead the training platoons and companies. The syllabus includes:
(a.)  Theory of War. Lectures on the approved theory of warfare, taught by an experienced Executive Officer. The pupils are given over three thousand theoretical problems, and called on to memorise the solution to each one by heart before their graduation. This also includes theoretical lessons such as map reading, codes of war, relations to men, superiors, civilians &c, and battalion planning.
(b.)  Practical Battle. Regular manoeuvres are held in which cadets will be called on to act as not only officers, but also sergeants and sergeants-at-arms. Live ammunition is always used and casualties are not unheard of. The exercises are physically and mentally demanding; to prepare cadets they are schooled in practical skills such as marksmanship, fieldcraft and physical improvement.
(c.)  Duties of an Officer. Includes instruction of a cadet on his prospective duties as an officer, focussing mainly on administration and the command of subordinates. 
And... *snap* you're back in the room!  That's all the fluff today folks, I try to limit these rambling text posts to a minimum and stick to shiny pictures of conversions &c, but I really have a passion for this stuff.  The document from which this is taken is now about 60 pages long and counting...
Anyway, I'd love to hear what you think.  
All you readers keep up your own great posts, I always love to read them, and look forward to posting again soon. As a aside (and some shameless plugging), check out Headologist's blog for some really great-looking work on 40K animations.
Dice well, and prosper!


  1. Really enjoyed it. I look forward to more fluff. Only recently found your blog, and I'm always excited to see you have something new posted.

    1. Thanks, Boxer, as I say fluff is a big part of the hobby for me so I love to post this stuff once in a while. Thanks for the comment! Look forward to reading more on your blog as well.

  2. Looks like you've tken a long time to put this together and it makes for interesting reading and cool stuff to consider when one looks through all the pics of your wonderful mini's for this regiment. (Bit of a long sentence, eh?)
    Did you research any modern or historical military manuals, etc to get your ideas for this or even have a military background yourself?

    1. Dai, thanks a lot for stopping by. In answer to the questions, most of the specifics are taken out of historical military manuals. The two main ones are:

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/German-Army-Handbook-April-1918/dp/1844157113, German WW1
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/1862-Army-Officers-Pocket-Companion/dp/0811700208/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334702912&sr=1-1, US Civil War

      I deliberately steered clear of my modern military influences as I wanted to get something aesthetically part of the 40K universe, rather than a transplant of modern ideas, which seems to have worked.

  3. Great!

    I very very rarely read fluff on blogs, but yours I always do read (actually, Headologist's too, as it happens).

    This rings true indeed; though it's bloody harsh on those poor aspirants!

    By the way, be sure to check out my next post (imminent), as it's a freebie, and a corker of a freebie too. Not my work, by the way, which is why I'm hawking it.

  4. Colonel Scipio, you have out done yourself on this one. It's a jolly good read. By the end I wanted more! Your fluff passion is inspirational. What I would really love to see is a 40k guard novel where between the story there are pages of fluff. And I mean good gritty 'backward' military fluff. 'The Imperial Infantryman's Handbook', which is getting a reboot this December, is woeful compared to stuff like this and Headologist's Triage Tag's etc.
    Your absolutely right- there is too much 'clean efficient' military fluff about. As organisations get bigger and older every system within it gets slower, more complex, less logical with an increased number of redundant operations. Not to forget that the 40k world is a harsh place. So non of what you have written is over done by any means. I was just considering that originally here in Australia midshipman were inducted into the Navy at 12, the training was hard, punishments were hash and suicide rates were high. Add Commissars, continuous war and the demands of Imperial life and there is no telling how nasty the training could end up like.

  5. Thanks again for all the feedback.

    @Drax: Cheers, it's always good to know the hours spent typing this out can be spent for others to read/use as well. Have got the download off your post as well. The hard time Aspirants have is very deliberate, designed to prejudice against non-noble officers, glad that showed through the waffley language!

    @Col. Ackland: High praise indeed, many thanks. As it happens, me and Headologist are working on just such a novel (I wonder if he'll mind me mentioning it pre-release). I might see if we can release a teaser. The middle paragraph you wrote about organisations getting bigger is SPOT ON, it's great to find people of the same pessimistic, dystopian attitude to mankind's future! That's a good point about the aged-12 inductions. I might add a rewrite where children are taken from parents very young and put into a nasty scary version of Pirbright.

  6. Replies
    1. I'd like to second the Col's "Woohoo". :)

  7. Excellent stuff as ever sir, very authentic indeed. And thanks Drax and Ackland for the comments on my stuff :) I definitely agree that the Imperium should be a large bureaucratic mess - anything should have the appearance of attempting to work, but size and logistics mean its rarely feasible. As much as I like the pseudo-religious stuff (Scipio does military very very well to say the least, I go for more poncy abstract stuff like the Ecclesiarchy and Mechanicus lol) I try and balance it, so my triage stuff doesn't have as much as sime might expect. The intention with those was to present the ideal of what triage should be, I imagine the reality is even worse....


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