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The problem with Commissars.


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#1 Arbitrator

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 01:12 PM

Commissars. Every player wants to be one. Every group somebody complains they don't get to be it. You just cannot escape them. They're one of the most (if not the) iconic parts of the Imperial Guard, and indeed the Imperium as a whole. 

But boy do they feel out of place.

In Only War, its a squad based game, with your jackboots starting from the bottom of the pit, who could be nothing more than green conscripts with some basic training in them, especially if they're starting at Level 0. As strict as the Imperial Guard is, contraband like Iho-sticks seems to imply its not as "take another sip of water and lose your head" as the Grimdarkness seems to imply, and Guardsmen do obviously do their own things among each other like gamble, sometimes brawl, and cheat the armoury chief out of some extra magazines.

But still I come back to ye olde problem. Commissars in this scenario just feel so out of place. It seems so weird to have one of them just lounging with the regular greenies when things settle down back at basecamp, and both myself and the player don't want to segregate the players 'that' much either. As well, players also run into issues of just how they roleplay out their troops… there's less casual banter, less remarks, less character development (if anybody says anything at all) just because the Commissar standing over them ICly (perhaps rightly) makes them straighten up and act like drones. This problem also exists to a much lesser degree with Sergeants, but at least those players seem to be more relaxed and treat it like Sharpe rather than Full Metal Jacket. In some scenarios, I have to rewrite the NPC reactions completely just to accomidate them. The Captain in Final Testament is probably the best example of that, with his entire personality needing to be changed (at least how he acts to the PCs) to make room for the class.

They just feel so out of place in Only War. I'd hazard a guess  FFG felt compelled to put them in just because… well, they're iconic, much like the "They're Not-Commissars, but kind of are" in the Inquisitor's Handbook for Dark Heresy.

But they're so popular, and  so I run into an issue of barring them completely and getting more than a few irked players, or sacrificing the roleplay element almost entirely outside of playing 'steely gaze, with shooting'. Any suggestions?



#2 Robomummy

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 04:25 PM

I completely agree, commissars should not have been put in this book. Personally I do not let anyone in my gaming group play as a commissar, they have too much power for me to trust someone to play as them. I only let someone play as a commissar once and they abused their power to the point of destroying the campaign, mainly by shooting every officer that the group came accross which had the consequence of disrupting the chain of command to the extent that the entire regiment needed to withdraw from the planet (needless to say that commissar was brought up on charges and shot by the Inquisition). Ever since that player single handedly sent guard forces into disarray I have banned players from playing as commissars.


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#3 Darck Child

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 04:35 PM

I imagine that it comes down to your group's play style, wether you follow the rules to a "t" or some ideal fictionalized version found in print (Gaunt or Caine).

 

It will depend on the game you run as well, if you intend to run an only grunts story then they will be out of place but you then could argue that would be the same for any specialist.

 

It's not unique to specialists either, what about the player that wanted to play a tanker or drop trooper while the rest of the Players and Storyteller want to go with a light rifle regiment of sharpshooters.

 

I like how this group handled the situation.

 

The game I'm currently running I made it known from the get go that no specialists would be allowed for first characters, if the current character dies then I would consider the possibility of a specialist as a replacement if the Player could pitch me a solid reason why this character ended up with what's rest of the current squad.

 

Ultimately if you are the Storyteller you set the standards of what type of game that you want to run and what is expected of the Players.



#4 Darck Child

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 04:42 PM

Robomummy said:

I completely agree, commissars should not have been put in this book. Personally I do not let anyone in my gaming group play as a commissar, they have too much power for me to trust someone to play as them. I only let someone play as a commissar once and they abused their power to the point of destroying the campaign, mainly by shooting every officer that the group came accross which had the consequence of disrupting the chain of command to the extent that the entire regiment needed to withdraw from the planet (needless to say that commissar was brought up on charges and shot by the Inquisition). Ever since that player single handedly sent guard forces into disarray I have banned players from playing as commissars.

Where were the other Commissars? Or did you only have one for the whole Regiment?

 

Why didn't anyone put the offending Commissar and squad into harms way?  

 

Someone could equally abuse the rank of Sgt as that Player would hold rank above any other soldier in the squad.

 

Any class has the potential for abuse, it all depends how the storyteller plays up the consequences - wehter it be reactions from NPCs, or the lack of command structure that causes more losses then victories.



#5 ZombieLenin

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:36 PM

This might be because I'm not totally married to, or even aware of the canon, but I insisted someone play a Commissar. I gave the following advice to the player:

 

1. Think of yourself as a morale officer and model your actions on a Soviet Political officer

2. This means you could be a hard *** sure, but in reality it more often means you want to befriend those you're supervising. 

3. Your a combatant 1st and a morale officer second. Meaning that while its your job to keep people happy, and maintain "right thought," most importantly your serving the emperor and the imperium on the front lines of a shooting war. 

4. Yes, you technically have rank on everyone, and the ability to shoot people for treason/heresy; However, your not part of the regular army. If you're going to pull rank you've got to have a damn good reason, and you better be damn well prepared to justify this to both your superiors and the the regular imperial guard chain of command. This is 100x the case if your going to dispense capital punishment. 

5. Again, you are not the commanding officer of the regiment, the battalion, the company, or platoon. In matters military the corporal outranks you--unless you have a damn good reason, that you're prepared to justify in the formal inquest that WILL follow. You are a political officer. 

6. I changed the Commissar "power" that allows her comrades to ignore critical damage to shooting the squadmate, or otherwise dramatically inspire the character to keep fighting. I did this with a heavy emphasis on point 4, and pointed out shooting an unharmed soldier to inspire a critically wounded one to get up is a phenomenally stupid idea from both a tactical and a personal standpoint. 

 



#6 Rawrbear

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 05:58 AM

Anyone who wishes to play Commissar should be forced to read all the Ciaphus Cain novels before being allowed to. That's the way a good commissar should be played. He frequently works along side a squad of troops(as well as an inquisitor and a blank) so I don't think commissars being included is totally out there. Also commissars have to be attached to a squad in TT so again not that wrong.

 

Also using the Cain novels as referance, there's nothing out of place with people acting normal around commissars but they should change if he was to "remind" them of his authority(unbuttoning his las pistol for instance)



#7 Darck Child

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 06:24 AM

Rawrbear said:

 

Anyone who wishes to play Commissar should be forced to read all the Ciaphus Cain novels before being allowed to. That's the way a good commissar should be played. He frequently works along side a squad of troops(as well as an inquisitor and a blank) so I don't think commissars being included is totally out there. Also commissars have to be attached to a squad in TT so again not that wrong.

 

Also using the Cain novels as referance, there's nothing out of place with people acting normal around commissars but they should change if he was to "remind" them of his authority(unbuttoning his las pistol for instance)

 

 

 

Or at least check out this link or maybe this link

 

 



#8 Lynata

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 08:52 AM

I don't think there is a problem with the Commissar per se. To me, their presence certainly seems more fitting than the odd Storm Trooper that hangs around with the grunts instead of deploying with his own squad.

What it comes down to is player attitude, and the Commissar is just one of those classes where the group should consider carefully who (if anyone!) gets to play one. It's the same with the Sergeant. Or the Rogue Trader in RT. Or the Inquisitor or a Battle Sister in Dark Heresy. The list goes on. Not everyone can cope well with authority in what is supposed to be a spare time activity - this goes for both exerting it as well as receiving it.

I find it weird that this is an issue in a decidedly military setting, but if either the player of the Commissar is unable to carefully balance between conveying that threatening inspiring presence or if the rest of the players are absolutely incapable of simulating and heeding a military hierarchy, then drop the concept and have everyone play as a grunt of equal rank, with their Sarge and/or Commissar being an NPC who gets killed off within the first minutes of the game. Problem solved. There is no reason to assume that every group shares this experience. :)

Rawrbear said:

Anyone who wishes to play Commissar should be forced to read all the Ciaphus Cain novels before being allowed to. That's the way a good commissar should be played.

Ouphhh …

… a social Commissar, no doubt. For some groups, that may be the way to go. I know that for mine it would be too far removed from what we consider the spirit of 40k. Those novels take some weird artistic liberties compared to the core material. :)


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previous characters: Captain Elias (Celestial Lions Chapter -- debriefed), Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors -- KIA), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose -- assassinated), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader Artemisia -- retired), Taleera "Raven" Nephran (Hive Ganger & Inquisitorial Assassin -- mindwiped)

#9 Robomummy

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 03:23 PM

Darck Child said:

Robomummy said:

 

I completely agree, commissars should not have been put in this book. Personally I do not let anyone in my gaming group play as a commissar, they have too much power for me to trust someone to play as them. I only let someone play as a commissar once and they abused their power to the point of destroying the campaign, mainly by shooting every officer that the group came accross which had the consequence of disrupting the chain of command to the extent that the entire regiment needed to withdraw from the planet (needless to say that commissar was brought up on charges and shot by the Inquisition). Ever since that player single handedly sent guard forces into disarray I have banned players from playing as commissars.

 

 

Where were the other Commissars? Or did you only have one for the whole Regiment?

 

Why didn't anyone put the offending Commissar and squad into harms way?  

 

Someone could equally abuse the rank of Sgt as that Player would hold rank above any other soldier in the squad.

 

Any class has the potential for abuse, it all depends how the storyteller plays up the consequences - wehter it be reactions from NPCs, or the lack of command structure that causes more losses then victories.

The other commissars were killed by this player, as well as most of the command staff.

The command staff was gone and they fought their way out of harms way (some unprecidented luck was also involved). In addition to this since the regiment was leaderless the commissar took command. he had a valid reson for executing the regimental command as this was originally part of the story but from here he then proceeded to shoot most of the command staff and officers for retreating due to the lack of solid leadership. The campaign on the surface broke and the guard forces retreated to the surface allowing chaos forces to take control of the planet.

Sgt is much harder to abuse since there is still a command structure where they recieve and carry out their orders. Commissars are a different story because they technically operate out of the chain of command.


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#10 Graey

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 04:20 PM

Well, Dead Men Walking had an interesting (humanized) Commissar, and the IG codex paints a good picture. But I think the idea is broken more in players' minds than in the book. We're kinda thrown the idea that Commissars don't care, that everyone around them is expendable, etc. But it's worth considering them as a sort of half-chaplain/priest, or in fantasy terms, possibly a paladin- They are there to root out heresy, and to tend to the morale/fighting spirit of the unit. Fear works in some cases, being more approachable in others. Commissars are also veterans of Storm Trooper sevice, so theyaren't just a beurocrat who's dropped in, but a decent tactical advisor, as well. But most importantly, they can't execute you for cowardice on the front lines in they aren't there themselves, meaning they're going to have to walk the walk while they talk the talk. "I'm not asking you to do something I wouldn't do, nor haven't done myself", basically. 

Also worth noting that Catachan units have high Commissar "accident" rates, because they don't like random outsiders meddling without earning their trust. Commissars with the Death Korps are there as more as liasons to other non-Krieg (and to keep them from working non-Krieg units too hard). A Commissars approach to the unit will require some tailoring and thought, so ZombieLenin's suggstion of guidelines, in my opinion is a great start. You can't just execute without cause, and you will likely have some extensive explaining/reporting to do. Commissars might also be played with this Arbites motto in mind (since they're of a similar kind)- "To stand upon the bedrock of the Law is our great duty. To presume to stand above it is our worst heresy."

The Commissar is not invincible and easily outnumbered. If enough disgruntled Guardsmen are willing to kill them/engineer their death and cover up the truth, it'll happen. 

As for the Storm Trooper being dropped in, since someone brought that up… I'd probably write that in as a sort of force amplification/advisory/mentoring thing. Even their special talents allude to this- they'd be inserted into a squad to passively pass on some of their skills and experiance to enhance the front line forces over time. That's quite literally what Green Berets do- they are not just guys who strike behind the lines, but they can also go individually teach even poorly organized/trained groups to become more combat effective.



#11 ZombieLenin

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 06:50 PM

Robomummy said:

Darck Child said:

 

Robomummy said:

 

I completely agree, commissars should not have been put in this book. Personally I do not let anyone in my gaming group play as a commissar, they have too much power for me to trust someone to play as them. I only let someone play as a commissar once and they abused their power to the point of destroying the campaign, mainly by shooting every officer that the group came accross which had the consequence of disrupting the chain of command to the extent that the entire regiment needed to withdraw from the planet (needless to say that commissar was brought up on charges and shot by the Inquisition). Ever since that player single handedly sent guard forces into disarray I have banned players from playing as commissars.

 

 

Where were the other Commissars? Or did you only have one for the whole Regiment?

 

Why didn't anyone put the offending Commissar and squad into harms way?  

 

Someone could equally abuse the rank of Sgt as that Player would hold rank above any other soldier in the squad.

 

Any class has the potential for abuse, it all depends how the storyteller plays up the consequences - wehter it be reactions from NPCs, or the lack of command structure that causes more losses then victories.

 

 

The other commissars were killed by this player, as well as most of the command staff.

The command staff was gone and they fought their way out of harms way (some unprecidented luck was also involved). In addition to this since the regiment was leaderless the commissar took command. he had a valid reson for executing the regimental command as this was originally part of the story but from here he then proceeded to shoot most of the command staff and officers for retreating due to the lack of solid leadership. The campaign on the surface broke and the guard forces retreated to the surface allowing chaos forces to take control of the planet.

Sgt is much harder to abuse since there is still a command structure where they recieve and carry out their orders. Commissars are a different story because they technically operate out of the chain of command.

 

I just would have GMd this differently. I wouldn't have made the player the highest ranking Commissar in the regiment. This would have made it extremely hard for the player to just "kill" all of the other Commissars, even if they were corrupt. In addition to this I would have ruled two things:

 

1. While Commissars as the right hand of the Emperor, and as the Political Officers of his divine grace, have a lot of power, they cannot execute or kill an Imperial officer of the same or higher rank, without first taking the issue (and evidence) to his commanding officer where a formal determination would be made. So, if your PC was a Commissary Lt, summary execution without very serious consequences, most likely his own death regardless of whether or not the player made the right call, of any military officer. This would limit his authority to "kill" to NCOs and enlisted. 

 

If he were a Commissary Captain, he could probably get away with shooting a Lt., but not a Major or a Col.  I when make very clear that if the player decided to go on a killing spree of a regiments high command, justified or not, his characters life would most likely be forfeit when the dust cleared. 

 

2. The moment the player began just willy hilly killing all of the officers in high command, I would have the entire regiment turn on him. Soldiers aren't the most docile bunch when an outsider political officer, particularly a low ranked one, just decides that all of their officers should die. So the very act of trying to do what your player did, would cause everyone within range that new what was going on (and then some) would immediately attempt to stop the Commissar and everyone taking his side. This would be a very lethal fight nearly impossible to survive, and impossible to win. Anyone who surrenders after initially taking the Commissar's side, and the Commissar himself should he survive capture or surrender, would then be executed themselves after a short trial scene. 

 

The other option is to tell your player before hand not to play him in a way that doesn't make sense and ruins everyone's fun. And continually warn him of the consequences (like the ones above) if he or she chose to act that way despite your request. 



#12 Darck Child

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:28 PM

Robomummy said:

The other commissars were killed by this player, as well as most of the command staff.

The command staff was gone and they fought their way out of harms way (some unprecidented luck was also involved). In addition to this since the regiment was leaderless the commissar took command. he had a valid reson for executing the regimental command as this was originally part of the story but from here he then proceeded to shoot most of the command staff and officers for retreating due to the lack of solid leadership. The campaign on the surface broke and the guard forces retreated to the surface allowing chaos forces to take control of the planet.

Sgt is much harder to abuse since there is still a command structure where they recieve and carry out their orders. Commissars are a different story because they technically operate out of the chain of command.

 

Thanks for sharing.  Sounds like the story had potential, it's unfortunate it unfolded as it did.

 

As for Sgt and abuse, well I still see lots of potential - Would Trooper Smith like to take point again? Maybe Trooper Jones like to take rearguard?  I'm too tired to get any craftier than that at the moment but anyone who hase a position for authority can abuse it.  Sgt.s outrank a Trooper…

 

Tech-priest could sabotage equipment, Priests can in spire or demoralize the troops - or even denonce them, Psyckers - well strange things always seem to happen around them, and troopers have friendly fire or fragging those that they deemed to deserve it….

 

So everyone has a chance to "abuse" the system.



#13 Darck Child

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 07:42 PM

ZombieLenin said:

I just would have GMd this differently. I wouldn't have made the player the highest ranking Commissar in the regiment. This would have made it extremely hard for the player to just "kill" all of the other Commissars, even if they were corrupt. In addition to this I would have ruled two things:

 

1. While Commissars as the right hand of the Emperor, and as the Political Officers of his divine grace, have a lot of power, they cannot execute or kill an Imperial officer of the same or higher rank, without first taking the issue (and evidence) to his commanding officer where a formal determination would be made. So, if your PC was a Commissary Lt, summary execution without very serious consequences, most likely his own death regardless of whether or not the player made the right call, of any military officer. This would limit his authority to "kill" to NCOs and enlisted. 

 

If he were a Commissary Captain, he could probably get away with shooting a Lt., but not a Major or a Col.  I when make very clear that if the player decided to go on a killing spree of a regiments high command, justified or not, his characters life would most likely be forfeit when the dust cleared. 

 

2. The moment the player began just willy hilly killing all of the officers in high command, I would have the entire regiment turn on him. Soldiers aren't the most docile bunch when an outsider political officer, particularly a low ranked one, just decides that all of their officers should die. So the very act of trying to do what your player did, would cause everyone within range that new what was going on (and then some) would immediately attempt to stop the Commissar and everyone taking his side. This would be a very lethal fight nearly impossible to survive, and impossible to win. Anyone who surrenders after initially taking the Commissar's side, and the Commissar himself should he survive capture or surrender, would then be executed themselves after a short trial scene. 

 

The other option is to tell your player before hand not to play him in a way that doesn't make sense and ruins everyone's fun. And continually warn him of the consequences (like the ones above) if he or she chose to act that way despite your request. 

 

But we weren't there and there may have been things that gave the Player justification to a point.

 

Not all Commissars are like Caine or Gaunt.  Many posters have shared their opinions of what and who the Commisssar is or should be.  The rules tend to make them darker - like shooting the Comrade to rally the troops. 

 

Outside the chain of command puts them outside the jurisdiction of the military. I bet if the Commissar kills a  Colonel once and can justify it there wouldn't be any reprecussions from the Commissiat. If it beame a more common occurence well probably it would get said Commissar into trial to have his actions accounted for if he's lucky or shot on the spot if not so lucky.

 

 

 

 



#14 ZombieLenin

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 08:32 PM

Darck Child said:

ZombieLenin said:

 

I just would have GMd this differently. I wouldn't have made the player the highest ranking Commissar in the regiment. This would have made it extremely hard for the player to just "kill" all of the other Commissars, even if they were corrupt. In addition to this I would have ruled two things:

 

1. While Commissars as the right hand of the Emperor, and as the Political Officers of his divine grace, have a lot of power, they cannot execute or kill an Imperial officer of the same or higher rank, without first taking the issue (and evidence) to his commanding officer where a formal determination would be made. So, if your PC was a Commissary Lt, summary execution without very serious consequences, most likely his own death regardless of whether or not the player made the right call, of any military officer. This would limit his authority to "kill" to NCOs and enlisted. 

 

If he were a Commissary Captain, he could probably get away with shooting a Lt., but not a Major or a Col.  I when make very clear that if the player decided to go on a killing spree of a regiments high command, justified or not, his characters life would most likely be forfeit when the dust cleared. 

 

2. The moment the player began just willy hilly killing all of the officers in high command, I would have the entire regiment turn on him. Soldiers aren't the most docile bunch when an outsider political officer, particularly a low ranked one, just decides that all of their officers should die. So the very act of trying to do what your player did, would cause everyone within range that new what was going on (and then some) would immediately attempt to stop the Commissar and everyone taking his side. This would be a very lethal fight nearly impossible to survive, and impossible to win. Anyone who surrenders after initially taking the Commissar's side, and the Commissar himself should he survive capture or surrender, would then be executed themselves after a short trial scene. 

 

The other option is to tell your player before hand not to play him in a way that doesn't make sense and ruins everyone's fun. And continually warn him of the consequences (like the ones above) if he or she chose to act that way despite your request. 

 

 

 

But we weren't there and there may have been things that gave the Player justification to a point.

 

Not all Commissars are like Caine or Gaunt.  Many posters have shared their opinions of what and who the Commisssar is or should be.  The rules tend to make them darker - like shooting the Comrade to rally the troops. 

 

Outside the chain of command puts them outside the jurisdiction of the military. I bet if the Commissar kills a  Colonel once and can justify it there wouldn't be any reprecussions from the Commissiat. If it beame a more common occurence well probably it would get said Commissar into trial to have his actions accounted for if he's lucky or shot on the spot if not so lucky.

 

 

 

 

That's why I totally hand waved that rule. And ultimately, it doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense. Why would someone shoot an uninsured soldier to get a wounded one to stand up. If you're going to buy into the dark hard a** aspect, it really makes much more sense to shoot the wounded guy to demonstrate what happens when you fail to do your full duty and fight on. 

 

In any event, I changed that power to "dramatically inspire your comrades" and leave it up to the player to tell me what that means. 



#15 Kasatka

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 04:20 AM

I think it is important to include the summary execution option for commisars because they are the ONLY members of the imperial guard who are allowed to do it. Even some stupidly high ranking commander cannot just pull a pistol on a rank and file troop for not following orders - that commander would soon be in front of his commander and facing sanctions if that kind of activity became known.  Exeuction is an option to any commisar, but without good reason he'll be facing assasination from the troopers in the regiment and command staff will be contacting other commisars to deal with him soon enough.

The commisars of a regiment are the political wing of the Imperial Guard - they make sure that there is no grounds for dissent or heresy to grow, so they stamp out trade of illegal goods and services and keep an eye on the troopers morale etc. They are also executioners, and while that means that they can make a snap judgement to shoot a trooper or officer to enforce morale in a tight spot, it more often than not means that if an officer has found a guardsmen to be deserving of execution for his crimes then the commisar will carry out the execution. They may do it personally in a quiet, dark corner of the battlefield so that the rest of the regiment doesn't know what happened to Trooper Smith, or they might hand pick some of Trooper Smiths closest friends and order them to be the firing squad at dawn.

Also the whole "commisar rank" thing as the previous posts mentioned is a bit off as there are only really two ranks of commisars - commisars and commisar lords. There are technically junior commisars, or commisars-in-training, but these will be shadowing senior commisars as personal assistants and are below what a player character would be (it'd be like guardsmen playing as raw recruits with no training).

So yes, commisars are grimdark and they can execute people but only in the direst of circumstances. More often than not the best way to help morale of a regiment and to get orders carried out is to lead from the front with power sword swinging, bolt pistol blazing away and litanies of hatred being spouted at the enemies of the Imperium.


Only the insane have strength enough to prosper.

Only those that prosper may truly judge what is sane.


#16 Robomummy

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 07:52 AM

ZombieLenin said:

I just would have GMd this differently. I wouldn't have made the player the highest ranking Commissar in the regiment. This would have made it extremely hard for the player to just "kill" all of the other Commissars, even if they were corrupt. In addition to this I would have ruled two things:

 

1. While Commissars as the right hand of the Emperor, and as the Political Officers of his divine grace, have a lot of power, they cannot execute or kill an Imperial officer of the same or higher rank, without first taking the issue (and evidence) to his commanding officer where a formal determination would be made. So, if your PC was a Commissary Lt, summary execution without very serious consequences, most likely his own death regardless of whether or not the player made the right call, of any military officer. This would limit his authority to "kill" to NCOs and enlisted. 

 

If he were a Commissary Captain, he could probably get away with shooting a Lt., but not a Major or a Col.  I when make very clear that if the player decided to go on a killing spree of a regiments high command, justified or not, his characters life would most likely be forfeit when the dust cleared. 

 

2. The moment the player began just willy hilly killing all of the officers in high command, I would have the entire regiment turn on him. Soldiers aren't the most docile bunch when an outsider political officer, particularly a low ranked one, just decides that all of their officers should die. So the very act of trying to do what your player did, would cause everyone within range that new what was going on (and then some) would immediately attempt to stop the Commissar and everyone taking his side. This would be a very lethal fight nearly impossible to survive, and impossible to win. Anyone who surrenders after initially taking the Commissar's side, and the Commissar himself should he survive capture or surrender, would then be executed themselves after a short trial scene. 

 

The other option is to tell your player before hand not to play him in a way that doesn't make sense and ruins everyone's fun. And continually warn him of the consequences (like the ones above) if he or she chose to act that way despite your request. 

 

I see what you are saying, the point is that Commissars can be greatly abused if you (like my gaming group) play OW based more on fluff then on rules. In the story the commissar was completely justified in killing all those officers even though it crushed imperial campaign on the planet. The player was able to provide a valid reason for each execution and I couldnt argue with that. It was supposed to be part of the story that he would be able to execute a few people but I believe in letting a campaign evolve naturally from player's actions and since he was able to provide valid point on why he should be able to execute them I gave it to him.

Also he was the senior commissar by default since the others died.

as to your points:

1) in the 40k lore commissars are given free reign to preform summary execution to any member of the Imperial guard they deem appropriate. in my campaign story trumps rules so im not about to limit what my players can do if they can provide valid arguements why it should be done.

2) After the execution of the command staff (which was part of the original story but it wasnt supposed to happen at this point) for cowardice after they ordered a withdraw from a particularly strong assault the commissar then attempetd to convice the other regimental commissars to execute those who participated in retreating from the front lines. After a lengthy time where the officers were captured or killed the regiment was in a state of anarchy, the commissars who tried to restore order were killed in the flight of soldiers trying to get off world before the chaos soldiers broke through the lines. the commissar and players were then captured by the inquisition and the commissar was interrogated and shot. the players ended up transferred to a penal regiment where the next campaign took place.


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#17 HappyDaze

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 07:57 AM

ZombieLenin said:

Why would someone shoot an uninsured soldier to get a wounded one to stand up.

Because the claims adjusters the Administratum would send in to collect the deductable make even Commissars balk?


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#18 ZombieLenin

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 08:09 AM

HappyDaze said:

 

Because the claims adjusters the Administratum would send in to collect the deductable make even Commissars balk?

 

Exactly! :D Gotta love cellphone + autocorrect + forums that don't let you edit your post. This eventually leads to hilarity. :)



#19 Radwraith

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:57 PM

Commisars have a valid place in the game and so do their executions in the 40k setting. The way it's adjudicated though I don't understand. In my game; the ability removes all fear effects on the rest of the squad by executing a comrade. (This is derived directly from the TT game.) Also, Commisars at the OW beginning level are considered "Commisar cadets' in my game and to not reach full commisar status until somewhere between 10-13k exp. As to who a Commisar can Execute; A grunt would probably not cause him much trouble but an Officer would definately cause his superiors to ask questions! Also; Field or summary executions are only performed on the battlefield where such snap judgements may be necessary. off the field, Commisars would convene a Court-martial or non-judicial punishment (dicipline through the Unit CO). Depending on the severity of the offence committed this could result in sentences as severe or worse than the expeditious bolt round to the back of the head!


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#20 ramza82

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 10:44 AM

While I am not fimilar with that adventure, once I would of put a stop to that behaviour once the player starting going around attempting to execute command staff. Any character can be abused in my opinion, and it it up to the GM to discourage the player from this type of behaviour, subtly first, and more aggresivly if the player doesn't take the hint.

While Commissars are within their right to perform summary executions within the rank and file of the Imperial Guard, I would not say they can just blindly go around executing command staff. They are are a lot harder to replace, and removing an entire command crew would seriously jepordize Imperial interests, as you are well aware with the effect it had on your adventure.

Commissars are front line soldiers, and if they feel a field officer to be should be found wanting, they can temporarily take over command and summarily execute any soldier they feel is jepordizing moral. But one is not necesssarily for the other. If a Comminssar were to abuse his powers and piss off an entire platoon or company for that matter he would be putting a huge target on his back. Most IG distrust Commissars by nature, and having an entire company hate you and want to see you dead is not in the Commissar's best interest. He still has to eat, sleep and fight with these man. As others have pointed out, all sorts of 'accidents' could occur. or outright assinations.

 

In terns of Command Staff, Commissar' s only out rank anything below Reginmental Commander, anything higher( Lord Marshal, Captiain General, Lord Castellan) are going to take serious issue with a political line officer removing their support staff without a damn good reason. If things get out of hand they can even peition the Commissariat or a Lord General to intervene. A PC Commissar is by no means on par with a Lord General, and the Commissariat is not going to let one of their own ruin their privlidged position by running roughshod.

Point being, the Imperium of Man is huge empire that  centered on bureaucracy. With so many branches and organizations, very few individuals have the kind of authority to just do as they please, and a Commissar's duty is to the troopers, if he goes around killing the upper echelon of the command structure, who is going to take their place? Not the commissar, he's duty is on the front lines. 






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