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Lightbringer

Retirement from the Guard

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Any thoughts on this? I suppose there are two opposing views:-

1. Guardsmen never retire. They fight on until they die. All guardsmen are locked into what amounts to a death sentence, doomed to martyr themselves gloriously in the service of the God-Emperor.

2. Guardsmen are like any other Imperial servant: they will be given rejuvenat treatment proportional to their importance. Those who have reached the end of their useful life are given the right to retire in peace.

Personally, although the former is nice and grimdark (and no doubt applies in some theatres of war) on the whole I prefer the latter. Dan Abnett's treatment of the guard certainly deals with them in a manner analogous to a 21st century army, with pay, breaks for r&r etc. Retirement fits this pattern. Canonically, successful regiments get to run conquered worlds; arguably this is a type of retirement.

What do you think?

Edited by Lightbringer

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Guardsmen are retired when the duty for which they were raised is discharged.

 

The problem is that a campaign can take centuries and hundreds of millions may die in service, but when at last the campaign is over most of the raised regiments are retired. After all it's easier and more effective to transport 10,000 sets of kit to the next hotspot than feed, medicate, accomodate and clothe 10,000 armed men for the same peroid of time.

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You are correct: Sometimes an Imperial guard regiment will be given the right to colonise a world they have (re)conquered and alowed to settle there and start a new life as colonists/civilians. Or some guardmen go home. Due to the lethality of 40k combat that is very few of them. And even if they could go home, chances are good that due to time destortion in the warp everyone they knew back home is dead or old. (And of cours if you're tanith you can never go home.)

 

option 2.2: those who survived into retirement are the few, the proud, the survivors with special skills. Just what the inquisition needs! "say boys, would you care to join my retinue as acolites?"

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I'm firmly in the 2nd camp. The idea of guardsmen never ever retiring and always dying isn't really grimdark, it's just grimderp. There would be huge issues with morale and recruitment if it was true. The truth is that while the Imperial Guard gets shipped around a lot and as  whole fights endless wars, the vast majority of the Imperial Guard may not even be involved in a major engagement in their entire life.

And by major I mean the truly meatgrinding wars against larger waaaghs or the masses of chaos.

 

Successful regiments that have reached the end of their usefulness or their tour of duty are given a planet that they have conquered, or land on an available world. Guardsmen that have finished their tour of duty are sent home if possible, or are made into trainers and drill sergeants. In many cases in major engagements, this is completely suspended, but the idea is there.

 

And they're all getting paid in one way or another.

 

Unless it's a Penal Regiment.

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In the Michael Scanlon book Fifteen Hours, it is stated that Guardsmen may never return home, but are occasionally given the right to settle on a conquered world. The protagonist's great grandfather "won" a lottery, and was allowed to stay and settle on a world they were on leave at.

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That getting to settle on a conqured world can also be really bad.

 

Colonel: "well guys- you did great conquring this acid-rainswept frozen deathworld! And as a reward for your services you get to settle on it, isn't that great?"

me: (sets lasgun to full auto) Not it isn't! BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! (starts shooting)

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I see it being down to the regiment, or you get retired after a certain amount of service via going to a nearby world or colonizing the one you just fought on. This is practical (not just for morale reasons) but also because if you say got a regiment that only ever really fought skirmishes guarding some city. Would you rather feed, arm and equip these weaker 70 year old men or a bunch of stronger, fitter 20 year olds instead?

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That getting to settle on a conqured world can also be really bad.

 

Colonel: "well guys- you did great conquring this acid-rainswept frozen deathworld! And as a reward for your services you get to settle on it, isn't that great?"

me: (sets lasgun to full auto) Not it isn't! BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! (starts shooting)

Me: B.. but sir, Lasguns don't have full auto..?

You: THEY DO NOW! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!

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I tend to think of the Guard as either retiring people in place, on or near whatever world they happen to be in at the time, or putting them into staff positions within the guard. I think actually sending retirees back to their homeworld would depend on how far from their homeworld they've gone and how difficult arranging warp transit back home would be.

 

I don't see the Administrum taking the effort to arrange a Navy transport exclusively to return old soldiers to their homeworld... unless (lightbulb!) they were picking up new regiments at the same time. That might make sense actually... send old soldiers home as trainers and recruiters for the next tithe of regiments from that world. The old soldiers could then either retire at home or "re-up" as senior members of the new regiment. That might actually be a logical and efficient idea...

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2. Guardsmen are like any other Imperial servant: they will be given rejuvenat treatment proportional to their importance. Those who have reached the end of their useful life are given the right to retire in peace.

 

My opinion is this one. The I.G. is nothing if not pragmatic, and if your geriatric medical issues reach the 'tipping point' where you become more of a liability than an asset, then congratulations, soldier, you've earned an Honourable Discharge!

 

In my Dark Heresy campaign I sent my Acolytes to a Frontier World where most of the population were former Guardsmen who were offered free plots of land instead of the standard (tiny) pension [this was done to expedite the development of the planet so that it's Tithe Grade could be increased, not not out of the 'goodness of the heart' of the I.G.]. Some prospered as grox-ranchers, but upon discovering that farming is much harder than they though, many of these ex-Guardsmen turned to banditry, thus setting up a 'Wild West' planetary culture.

Edited by Adeptus-B

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It would be darkly humorous if "honorable discharge" was another eufemism for getting-shot-in-the-head-by-a-commisar,

sort of like the Emperor's mercy.

 

Commisar Falco: "sorry old chap, but these rejuvinat treatments and medical pensions and whatnots are costing us and the administratum thinks the resources should be spent on others!"

Guard vet. "b-b-but!-"

Commisar Falco: "You have earned your place at the Emperors side!"

BLAM!!!

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Only in death does duty end.

 

I think that clears it up. Think about it. There are so many imperial guardsman that if every one got retired... imagine the state of the munitorum. "Look a file about private Will's retirement! Must be important!" As he passes over the call for help in the Terraria sector about a chaos invasion.

 

That might actually be a logical and efficient idea... Lucias T said this.

 

Hah! If the Imperium was logical and efficient they would actually be winning. Trust me if a general ever thinks that up, well say bye to his career and life as he gets executed by the Inquisition for heresy.

Edited by Misha

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I think the concept of individual retirement is valid. Of course it would probably more resemble the Roman legion's 20 year term rather than modern military versions (4-6 year enlistments are just not practical for the guard). At the end of their tour, The guardsman would be offered either retirement or (If successful enough) rejuvenate treatment contingent on reenlistment. Retirement would consist of being dropped on whatever non combat (At least mostly) theatre the regiment is currently in. They would probably separate with some fancy scroll extolling their 'loyal service to the Emperor' and sent on their way. Pensions would vary wildly by regiment and could run the gamut from, "Get out!" to a livable pension or property. Senior Officers and enlisted deemed 'worthy' of retaining would be offered Juvenat treatment and resigned for yet another 20 yr. term.

 

I think that clears it up. Think about it. There are so many imperial guardsman that if every one got retired... imagine the state of the munitorum. -Misha

 

Of course the odds of an individual in a campaigning regiment making it 20 yrs. are not really good to begin with! Assuming a Guardsman did make it though I don't for a minute believe that the administratum would 'provide' them transport anywhere! Wherever you retire is where they leave you. Certainly, a Retiree who saved enough of his/her wages could secure commercial transport in the same manner as any other Imperial citizen.

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In addition. a guardsmen who survives twenty years probably won't last that long after from lasting injuries, environmental effects etc.

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I like the idea of retirement, but the Guard get thrown at some terrible things, and I can imagine them not so easily getting retired. Some of them are "mercifully" liquidated just for seeing some types of enemies (or some types of allies), and with the potential likelihood of racking up Insanity and Corruption points, going howling mad, or becoming part something else, it might just be easier to put you down, after 20 years of fighting some of the most terrifying shite in the universe.

 

As for morale, I'd say that's a Commissar's job; maintaining morale, at the business-end of a bolter, if need be. Many Guardsmen are so indoctrinated if they are ordered to march into oncoming tanks, only hoping to be run down, and clog the treads with their gore, so that the slowed vehicles can be more easily picked off with anti-tank arms, they'll do it; so what's wiping some out who got old? Especially if you do it off in a quiet corner. Compared to the grimdark future, Logan's Run seems almost merciful.

 

All that crap said, I still prefer to imagine that the best of the survivors DO get to retire, in the same sense that the Tau do; they become instructors, passing down their field experience, or they maybe become some sort of Officer. I could even, just slightly, see some planets working into their military budgets paying to have some "heroes" returned home; someone has to train their troops, and the tithe frequently takes many of their best soldiers. Maybe they get seconded by the Schola Progenium, to train the best soldier the Imperium has, or get picked up by an Inquisitor with a mind for gun-barrel diplomacy. There's also always that last, unlikely hope, that perhaps their service will either attract the attention of a foraging Rogue Trader, or perhaps, like the smallest number, become Rogue Traders, and continue to serve the Emperor beyond the reach of His blessed light.

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Black Library is hardly a good source, but but the Ciaphas Cain books and the Gaunt's Ghosts talk about guardsmen retiring, for what ever that's worth.

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Black Library is hardly a good source, but but the Ciaphas Cain books and the Gaunt's Ghosts talk about guardsmen retiring, for what ever that's worth.

 

Hardly a good source? Where precisely do you propose to get official information on this fictional universe other than the only official source of fiction? Being that my previous post alluded to a book about the exact process of the topic in discussion?

 

That said the novel Commissar also covers the a similar matter of regiments maintaining "continuous" service.

 

Basically the process seems to be that when the bulk of troops are sufficiently worthless due to being killed or ruined by years of combat they are retired, a small core of the regiment becomes the colour guard and returns to their homeworld to raise a new regiment with the colours, designation and traditions of the old one.

 

This is how units like the 1st Cadian for example can still exist despite it being thousands of years since their first founding.

 

As for those tumpeting "only in death does duty end." This is entirely true, but there are many ways to serve, and somebody has to make the rations, fill out the forms and become drill abbots to train the progenium cadets.

Edited by Askil
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Only in death does duty end.

 

I think that clears it up. Think about it. There are so many imperial guardsman that if every one got retired... imagine the state of the munitorum. "Look a file about private Will's retirement! Must be important!" As he passes over the call for help in the Terraria sector about a chaos invasion.

That assumes that there's one single office of the Departmento Munitorum that handles absolutely everything as it comes in, without any Adept having specialized duties.

I cannot see any reason why something like that would even go by the Munitorum except as part of being sent onwards to the rest of the Administratum for filing. The Departmento Munitorum likely has a laundry list of offices, all of which like the Munitorum is part of the labyrinthine structures of the Administratum.

I see no reason why issues of retirement and discharge would not be handled by the Regiments themselves and the Administratum or Munitorum clerks directly attached to it. This doesn't mean that it's logical or efficient. Things don't have to be handled on a sector or segmentum scale to be inefficient. It doesn't even have to be planetary. Our own societies should have taught us that by now.

I think a much more interesting question is how they get home, should they desire to do so. Now, the Imperial Navy personnell in this situation likely has a much easier time, because more likely than not, they either already serve in their home, with their families, or they can continue to serve until they find other ships to serve on until they are home.

But Guardsmen? Can't imagine that they'd be given free shipping, although I guess it's possible to "hike" on ships heading in the right direction.

And like Askil said, there's many ways to serve. After all, to the vast, overwhelming mass of humans in the Imperium, they don't serve in the Imperial Guard. But they do all serve. Theoretically.

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.

And like Askil said, there's many ways to serve. After all, to the vast, overwhelming mass of humans in the Imperium, they don't serve in the Imperial Guard. But they do all serve. Theoretically.

 

 

We all serve, but who we serve I can't say...

Edited by Robin Graves

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Guardsmen don't go home unless the are the colour guard or are appointed commander of a new regiment. They get retired in-situ to seed loyalist ex-military settlers on newly won worlds.

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Imperial Guardsmen actually are meant to represent pretty competant, trained reasonably well equipped troops.  While they are often treated like cannon fodder by the Imperium and are often individually out matched by the xenos they fight compared to most PDF or militia troops they are pretty elite.

 

Added to this is the fact that manpower is not something the Imperium has in short supply. 

 

With all this in mind it doesn't make a huge amount of sense for the Department Munitorium to continue to feed, water, transport, regulate, adminsiter and equip a regiment that is made up of geriatrics, suffering from chronic PTS or are simply physically worn out.  Far more efficient to retire off the old regiment and raise a new one.

 

On this basis I think that Guardsmen do retire.  I would suspect they probably have a long mandatory tour to complete 15+ years up and are encouraged to re-enlist.  After they retire, receive backpay and what ever passes for a pension after which they are on their own.  If they are lucky then they get to colonise a world.  If they are unlucky they find themselves at a random space port a long way from anywhere. 

 

There would be lots of caveats to this though. 

 

First the type of regiment.  Penal Legions obviously don't retire and I doubt many abhuman regiments do either (possible exception of Ratlings).  Certain regiments like the Death Korp don't retire for historic reasons for example.

 

Second the types of enemies that Guardsmen fight and the sheer brutality of the Imperial tactics probably mean that most don't last long enough to retire and those that do are likely so institutionalised and desensitised to violence or are suffering from various battle traumas that they couldn't cope in the outside world. 

 

Thirdly I suspect that simple issues such as pay, pension and cultural dissonance probably means that retirment for many guard probably makes retirement impractical and they just reenlist.

 

So if your from a feral world regiment your pay might be six chickens a day.  On your home world that seemed like a great deal but 15 years later your back pay converted into thrones might not amount to a whole lot.  Certainly not enough to get you back to your own planet.

 

And this is to say nothing of the fact that the day you retire your out.  This means the administratum doesn't feed you, they don't tell you were you are, you don't have any briefings to tell you what to do.  If your really unlucky you might be the only one i nthe regiment retiring that day.  Do you even speak the language of the world you happen to be on?

 

In short I think Guardsmen do retire but it isn't necessarily as simple as that.

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My two shells:
 
As with most cases, I've aligned my interpretation to GW's original material. Guard regiments are raised with a specific campaign in mind, but should they happen to survive, they are simply sent into the next warzone. This process continues until the regiment is so badly mauled that it either has to be merged with the remnants of another regiment, or in some cases is assigned garrison duty on a nearby world or, more often, the one they just conquered/defended. If the regiment managed to remain active for more than 10 years, it earns the right to be granted custodianship over a world it has captured - in this case, the officers will form the basis of the new nobility, although the soldiers will remain active reserves until they are too old to fight, at which point they will finally become ordinary citizens.
 
It would be very unlikely for the regiment to ever return to its original homeworld, as to arrange transportation would be an incredible waste of naval resources better used elsewhere. Indeed, it is probably better for both the soldiers as well as the civilians back home if the troops would never return home, considering the horrors they have witnessed - surely, public morale within the Imperium is a precious, brittle good even without the population at large being made aware of a regiment's experiences, especially considering the risk that these stories might spread to the next batch of recruits.
 
"Not all Veterans are wholly sane, or even wholly men any more. Many suffer from severe battle psychosis to the extent that they hunger for battle, while others are haunted, paranoid individuals who believe that somewhere out there is the bullet or las bolt destined for them. The more dubious Imperial Commanders do not think twice about subjecting their Guardsmen to atrocities which would be considered barbaric by many, such as forced addiction to certain combat drugs, or the implantation of adrenal and endochrinal glands that turn the Veteran into a frenzied killing machine. In the most horrendous instances, the Veteran may have undergone such traumas that they are completely unhinged and unsuitable for normal service - tales abound of platoons forced to eat their dead comrades or starve; of being isolated for years at a time under continuous shelling until they are half-blind and deaf; of seeing alien and Chaotic monstrosities so hideous that they defy sanity. [...]"
-- Inquisitor : Imperial Guard Veterans
 
This is, of course, not to prevent individual soldiers to actively prevent from ever returning home, merely that the Imperium will not support such movements and the soldier would have to arrange for transport by themselves, thus making it an option primarily reserved for the officer caste, many of whom may hail from a planet's nobility, which would be able to pay for transportation.
 
That being said, some few soldiers would be able to "retire" as Drill-Abbots in the Ecclesiarchy's Schola Progenium, spending another one or two decades in service to the Emperor by training and molding young impressionable orphans, making sure that they are turned into loyal and well-drilled servants and that they would find a place in one of the Imperial adepta where their talents are of best use.
 

 

Hardly a good source? Where precisely do you propose to get official information on this fictional universe other than the only official source of fiction? Being that my previous post alluded to a book about the exact process of the topic in discussion?

 

Why, in the codices and rulebooks, of course. Or White Dwarf. Inquisitor, Necromunda, BFG. The various websites and PDFs that GW has created over the years, ...

 

But ... no. Personally, I do have a bias against material not from the GW core studio as well, chiefly because it tends to be filled with contradictions for no other reason than "the author had a different idea", and very often those contradictions end up preaching something that I perceive as a violation of some important aspect of the setting.

 

However, it is important for all fans to keep in mind that 40k does not have a "true" canon, merely lots of sources that all offer different interpretations of the setting. They are all equally valid, and it is entirely up to you to pick and choose what you want to go with. Arguably, Only War itself is breaking with IG Codex fluff on several details, but you as players and GMs have just as much right to cherrypick as everyone else.

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"Not all Veterans are wholly sane, or even wholly men any more. Many suffer from severe battle psychosis to the extent that they hunger for battle, while others are haunted, paranoid individuals who believe that somewhere out there is the bullet or las bolt destined for them. The more dubious Imperial Commanders do not think twice about subjecting their Guardsmen to atrocities which would be considered barbaric by many, such as forced addiction to certain combat drugs, or the implantation of adrenal and endochrinal glands that turn the Veteran into a frenzied killing machine. In the most horrendous instances, the Veteran may have undergone such traumas that they are completely unhinged and unsuitable for normal service - tales abound of platoons forced to eat their dead comrades or starve; of being isolated for years at a time under continuous shelling until they are half-blind and deaf; of seeing alien and Chaotic monstrosities so hideous that they defy sanity. [...]"
-- Inquisitor : Imperial Guard Veterans
 

This is something I hadn't considered, but would mean that alot of war torn worlds would need mental institutes constructed after, to house all the crazy lunatics and guardsmen with horrific withdrawal symptoms that have been turned loose into their relatively vulnerable society.

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Though bare in mind that the adjectives used in the veteran description do indicate that these are some of the more extreme examples rather than the norm (not the battle psychosis but the eating the dead etc).

 

I do remember reading that oft times a Guard Regiment isn't sent outside of their sector or even their sub sector except in the case of the largest war zones.  Depending on the conflict it might be practical for a triumphant Imperial Guard regiment to return home as a propaganda base for further recruitment.

 

It can take decades for the Munitorium to organise a full blown crusade or campaign which consists of dozens or even hudnreds of regiments, Marine Chapters, Mechanicus experts etc.  I could see that part of this process of recruitment might include a period of Guard Triumphs (in the roman style)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_triumph to get the local population enthusiastic about joining up.

 

So for example war is brewing in some sector vs Death Guard or some other horrible foe.  High Lords declare they need an additional 100 regiments raised from scratch.  Department Munitorium know that under normal circumstances they can raise 20 regiments.

 

So maybe instead they instigate a few brushfire wars and relatively minor skirmishes against known pirate bases, minor rebellious worlds that they have been putting off dealing with and the like.

 

After these easy conflicts are resolved a half dozen regiments are retired and the members transported back home for a heroes welcome with stories of glorious victory and good pay.

 

Ten or twenty years later when the Guard comes to receruit there are plenty of young men and women eager to join up to live up to the exploits of Uncle Charlie not realising that they are at the bum end of the Department Munitoriums galactic recruitment cycle and are being shipped off to a real hell hole with no prospect of returning home.

 

In other words retirment and transportation back home might be seen as an investment on the part of the Munitorium. 

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