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AbyssRaven
04-11-2007, 11:37
Can any one point me to some good source fluff for IG in general and Commisars?

BL books or Certain websites/WD issues

Trying to get background fluff for a story

Thanks

Lavadude360
04-11-2007, 12:14
Well there's the Guant's Ghosts novels and of course the ab-fab Ciaphus Cain.

Vaulkhar
04-11-2007, 13:45
And for the more stereotypical Commissar (the kind who kill more of their men than the enemy), there's the Uplifting Primer and the various Codices

MrBigMr
04-11-2007, 21:14
Go to Soviet Russia, comrade, there you will find plenty of info.

To me the basic codex gave plenty of good info, and the rest can be found in history. Commissars are political officers. They aren't part of the military machine and thus aren't bound by the ranks. His only job is to ensure that the job gets done and punish those that don't do it. The stereotypical one is the type that shoots people that don't do as they say.

This image isn't wrong, as it has happened. In one instance a Soviet tank battalion was surrounded during WW2. The commander decided to break through the enemy and back to their own lines. The commissar interrupted this order, calling the commander a coward. The commander pointed out that he was in charge, at which point the commissar just shot him. Some time later the whole battalion was wiped out.

AbyssRaven
04-11-2007, 22:28
I was going after the more insperational leader then the feared one
I'll try and check the gaunts ghosts series. I think i have one of the books somewhere, just have to remember where ><

Maidel
04-11-2007, 22:42
I was going after the more insperational leader then the feared one
I'll try and check the gaunts ghosts series. I think i have one of the books somewhere, just have to remember where ><

In GW fluff Gaunt is the only commisar like that...

Omniassiah
04-11-2007, 23:23
Nah Gaunt isn't the only one like that. Just like regular officers you'll get hard-liners and you'll get the generally better officers that are a little more like Gaunt. Threatening to kill someone in a combat situation is more likely to get a Catachan result then you'll ever see what happens in-game. Hard-liners only really work well with untrained troops, veteran troops are more likely to shoot the commissar then to let him lead you to death.

DantesInferno
04-11-2007, 23:55
Nah Gaunt isn't the only one like that. Just like regular officers you'll get hard-liners and you'll get the generally better officers that are a little more like Gaunt. Threatening to kill someone in a combat situation is more likely to get a Catachan result then you'll ever see what happens in-game. Hard-liners only really work well with untrained troops, veteran troops are more likely to shoot the commissar then to let him lead you to death.

You can be damn sure that the Commissariat makes rather nasty examples of Guard units who frag their Commissars. We're talking cruelty on the scale of the mass crucifixions which happened to Spartacus' slaves, I'd imagine.

MrBigMr
05-11-2007, 00:02
Hard-liners only really work well with untrained troops, veteran troops are more likely to shoot the commissar then to let him lead you to death.
Tell me about it. I was in a 40K larp the other day and the first thing the vets did when they rebelled (they got plenty of flak from thing they didn't do and it was either rebellion or a quick trial with a speedy execution), was to kill the commissar.

legio mortis
05-11-2007, 00:10
You can be damn sure that the Commissariat makes rather nasty examples of Guard units who frag their Commissars.
Yes, well first it has to be seen, or even reported. Seriously, in the confusion of the battlefield, anything can happen. It really depends on the Commissar, but if it was one of the stereotypical ones, then I'm sure that no one would notice what happened to him.;)

Argastes
05-11-2007, 01:19
You can be damn sure that the Commissariat makes rather nasty examples of Guard units who frag their Commissars. We're talking cruelty on the scale of the mass crucifixions which happened to Spartacus' slaves, I'd imagine.

The whole point of "fragging" an officer is that it can't be attributed to friendly action... The word "frag" comes from Vietnam, where troops who wanted to kill an unpopular officer would do so by "accidentally" catching him in the casualty radius of a fragmentation grenade. I'd imagine that if a group of Guardsmen wanted to frag their commissar, they wouldn't shoot him in front of witnesses.

EDIT: But that said, assuming an investigation DID figure out what happened, then yes, I'm sure the fate of those responsible would be unpleasant in the extreme.

DantesInferno
05-11-2007, 01:28
The whole point of "fragging" an officer is that it can't be attributed to friendly action... The word "frag" comes from Vietnam, where troops who wanted to kill an unpopular officer would do so by "accidentally" catching him in the casualty radius of a fragmentation grenade. I'd imagine that if a group of Guardsmen wanted to frag their commissar, they wouldn't shoot him in front of witnesses.

EDIT: But that said, assuming an investigation DID figure out what happened, then yes, I'm sure the fate of those responsible would be unpleasant in the extreme.

Yeah, I'm not sure the Imperium in general, or the Commissariat in particular, is really too concerned about the accuracy of trials or investigations. Ruthlessly purge a few regiments whose Commissars died in even vaguely suspicious circumstances, make sure everyone knows what the fate of the regiments was, and leave it at that.

Argastes
05-11-2007, 01:33
Well, it would encourage Guardsmen to be extra-careful with their commissars!

Stranger
05-11-2007, 01:34
Well, the whole deal with catachans prove the commissariat's realy that concerned about losing men... Either that, or the reports of commissars getting KIA in mysterious conditions get clogged somewhere in the beaurocratic machine rather often... Either way, the regiment's there and kicking.

DantesInferno
05-11-2007, 01:41
Well, the whole deal with catachans prove the commissariat's realy that concerned about losing men... Either that, or the reports of commissars getting KIA in mysterious conditions get clogged somewhere in the beaurocratic machine rather often... Either way, the regiment's there and kicking.

Well, not all regiments are created equal. Catachan regiments are no doubt particularly valuable to the Imperium given their skill in jungle fighting which far surpasses any other standard human forces. So given their increased value to the Imperium as a whole, they'd be allowed a bit more leeway on that kind of thing.

Your average regiment from some Hive World is going to be a bit more expendable, and would be just the sort for the Commissariat to make examples of.

Not, of course, that the Commissariat is particularly concerned about having its men die per se: their authority is so undermined if Guardsmen regularly kill their Commissars that the organisation as a whole would be threatened.

legio mortis
05-11-2007, 02:58
Your average regiment from some Hive World is going to be a bit more expendable, and would be just the sort for the Commissariat to make examples of.

Not, of course, that the Commissariat is particularly concerned about having its men die per se: their authority is so undermined if Guardsmen regularly kill their Commissars that the organisation as a whole would be threatened.
Well than that would show you that not every Commissar loves shooting his own men for fun, doesn't it? I've never heard of such action being taken against a suspecting regiment, and taking such action would be a logistical nightmare.

Argastes
05-11-2007, 03:35
It does seem a bit over the top even for the Imperium. I know the Imperium is supposed to be ruthless, but I think it's kind of silly to always imagine them taking the most excessively ruthless action in every situation. It smacks of the sort of over-enthusiastic, take-it-to-the-limit interpretations of the fluff that a certain percentage of the gaming community seems to like indulging in, I guess because exaggerating everything makes it seem cooler to them (note: DantesInferno, I'm not referring to you at this point, please take no offense). Personally, I think that if a commissar died under suspicious circumstances, an investigation would be conducted and those responsible or complicit would be shot by a firing squad of their comrades. Word of that getting around is probably perfectly effective as a deterrent to future would-be fraggers; no need to waste the entirety of a 5,000-man fighting unit because three or four of them decided to shoot their commissar.

Omniassiah
05-11-2007, 04:08
It would be so ridiculously easy to cover up a commissar getting fragged. When you have a group of people that are supposed to be up in front leading the charge a grenade falling short or even crossing in front of a firing heavy weapon would be easy enough to pass off in a combat zone.

That said most Commissars would realize that the leadership style required would be different depending on each group of solidiers. Commissars in a Cadian regiment are probably far less aggressive and heavy handed as compared to a Slavar(sp?) Chem-dogs regiment.

The higher trained the army the less the need for commissar to be disciplinary and more inspirational since most well trained armies will follow orders anyway as they know that they are more and likely not going to be wasted.

DantesInferno
05-11-2007, 04:18
It does seem a bit over the top even for the Imperium. I know the Imperium is supposed to be ruthless, but I think it's kind of silly to always imagine them taking the most excessively ruthless action in every situation. It smacks of the sort of over-enthusiastic, take-it-to-the-limit interpretations of the fluff that a certain percentage of the gaming community seems to like indulging in, I guess because exaggerating everything makes it seem cooler to them.

It's not really that excessively, implausibly ruthless. Soviet Russia had a similar system, after all.


Personally, I think that if a commissar died under suspicious circumstances, an investigation would be conducted and those responsible or complicit would be shot by a firing squad of their comrades. Word of that getting around is probably perfectly effective as a deterrent to future would-be fraggers; no need to waste the entirety of a 5,000-man fighting unit because three or four of them decided to shoot their commissar.

It's all about efficiency: if you make examples of anyone who transgresses Imperial authority, you get the benefits of increased discipline across the whole of your armed forces. Sure, it may cost you a few hundred thousand men to prove your point to the rest of them, but that's a small price to pay for the Imperium.

As Omnissiah says, it would be hard to prove responsibility or complicity if a group of Guardsmen decided to take out their Commissar in combat and covered it up. So the best way is to discourage them beforehand: make it clear what happens when the Commissariat loses men in suspicious circumstances.

Khaine's Messenger
05-11-2007, 04:28
Commissars in a Cadian regiment are probably far less aggressive and heavy handed as compared to a Slavar(sp?) Chem-dogs regiment.

That is more likely because it actually takes effort for some Commissars to keep up with Cadian regiments in a fighting formation sense (EoT 'dex flavor text). That can actually tend to be the case in a lot of the ultra-loyalist regiments (like those from Tallarn or Krieg)...but when Commissars swap notes, they still don't like to look like they've engineered themselves out of a job. :D

Argastes
05-11-2007, 04:42
It's not really that excessively, implausibly ruthless. Soviet Russia had a similar system, after all.

:confused: If you can find an example of the Soviets executing an entire regiment of soldiers without an investigation, just because their political officer died under "vaguely suspicious" circumstances, I'll concede this point. Otherwise, I must maintain that yes, your proposal is excessively and implausibly ruthless even in comparison to the Soviet system, because the Soviets would have A). investigated the incident thoroughly, and B). executed only those who were directly responsible, which might be a handful of individuals at the most. 5,000 executions without an investigation is definitely "excessive" relative to a handful of executions after an investigation.


It's all about efficiency: if you make examples of anyone who transgresses Imperial authority, you get the benefits of increased discipline across the whole of your armed forces. Sure, it may cost you a few hundred thousand men to prove your point to the rest of them, but that's a small price to pay for the Imperium.

Yes, but I think the same benefits could be gained by executing only those who were actually involved. It is indeed all about efficiency: Executing ten men for killing their commissar proves the same point as executing the whole regiment, as long as there is the perception that those ten really were everyone who was involved or complicit, and is a much more efficient solution in terms of effort and expense.


As Omnissiah says, it would be hard to prove responsibility or complicity if a group of Guardsmen decided to take out their Commissar in combat and covered it up. So the best way is to discourage them beforehand: make it clear what happens when the Commissariat loses men in suspicious circumstances.

Weighed against the loss of five thousand well-trained soldiers, I think that the cost and effort of the investigation needed to stick even the hardest-to-prove allegations would be negligible.

And even in those few cases where it would be entirely impossible to prove anything, a better solution would simply be to execute only those soldiers who were around him when he died, rather than everyone in the regiment. You might lose a few dozen at most. The effect would be the same, and the cost much less. Because it doesn't even matter whether the guys you execute really were responsible, it only matters whether the resultant rumors make people think that they were responsible, since the objective here is only to provide a disincentive for other soldiers to kill their commissar--not actually to punish the crime of killing the commissar. Soldiers who plan to kill their commissar are only going to care whether THEY will be executed, not whether their whole regiment will die with them, so creating a perception that you'll execute anyone besides those actually responsible is pointless; it doesn't add any extra disincentive for the potential commissar-killer. They are just going to be just as dissuaded from killing their commissar when they think that only they and their co-conspirators will be executed, as when they think that the whole regiment will be purged.

DantesInferno
05-11-2007, 05:26
:confused: If you can find an example of the Soviets executing an entire regiment of soldiers without an investigation, just because their political officer died under "vaguely suspicious" circumstances, I'll concede this point. Otherwise, I must maintain that yes, your proposal is excessively and implausibly ruthless even in comparison to the Soviet system, because the Soviets would have A). investigated the incident thoroughly, and B). executed only those who were directly responsible, which might be a handful of individuals at the most.

I was referring to the practice of having Commissars with the power to execute their own soldiers. The Russians definitely had them.

And if you're going to have them to instill fear and discipline in the troops, it's a natural consequence that you need to make sure they can do their job properly without being knocked off. While mass executions to prove a point may have been unworkable in the Soviet Union (though you can bet Stalin would have considered it!), the Imperium's got enough men to make it a possibility.

But if you think that the Soviet secret services went around carrying out thorough investigations and only executing individuals whose guilt could be directly proven, I've got a bridge to sell you...


Yes, but I think the same benefits could be gained by executing only those who were actually involved. It is indeed all about efficiency: Executing ten men for killing their commissar proves the same point as executing the whole regiment, as long as there is the perception that those ten really were everyone who was involved or complicit, and is a much more efficient solution in terms of effort and expense.

A regiment over on the other side of the galaxy isn't going to know who was actually involved in the fragging of a Commissar on Armageddon. It's the message which is important: Kill a Commissar, and you're a traitor to the Imperium who is going to end very nastily. Not only that, but all your mates are going to end nastily too. The message is much more clear: we mean business, and we don't care about legal niceties. You're not going to get away with it if you cover it up.


Weighed against the loss of five thousand well-trained soldiers, I think that the cost and effort of the investigation needed to prove even the hardest allegations to stick would be negligible. And even where it would be entirely impossible to prove anything, a better solution would simply be to execute only those soldiers who were around him when he died, rather than everyone in the regiment. You might lose a few dozen at most. The effect would be the same, and the cost much less. Because it doesn't even matter whether the guys you execute really were responsible, it only matters whether the resultant rumors make people think that they were responsible, since the objective here is only to provide a disincentive for other soldiers to kill their commissar, not actually to punish the crime of killing the commissar. Soldiers who plan to kill their commissar are only going to care whether THEY will be executed, not whether their whole regiment will die with them, so creating a perception that anyone besides those actually responsible will be executed is pointless. It doesn't add any extra disincentive for the potential commissar-killer.

I'd imagine that most potential Commissar-killers would care a great deal about what will happen to their comrades after they die. The whole point of Commissars is to make sure people obey their duties to the Emperor and follow their orders. There are two main motivating factors which would stop you following your orders: they're sending you to your death; and they're sending all your mates to their deaths too.

So if your Commissar is ordering all your friends to walk into machine-gun fire, you might well be tempted to kill him to save them. Not so if you've heard what happened to the Tarson 61st......

I'm willing to be flexible on the numbers, of course. The mass executions of whole regiments might not be a particularly common practice, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Imperial Guard High Command and the Commissariat are very concerned about maximising the efficiency of their soldiers, and if killing large numbers of soldiers is the best way to do it.... They're certainly not worried about about guilt or innocence.

sabreu
05-11-2007, 05:35
Just to add in a little bit, isn't there a reference in For the Emperor (or, if I'm mistaken on the title, the one where Cain faces the Orks) that unlike other Commissars he had acquintanced/heard about didn't like performing mass executions for the fear of being capped off 'accidently' during a fire fight? I think that suggests commissar killing is not unheard and most of the time played off as being caught in a 'torrent of fire' :p

theshadowduke
05-11-2007, 05:42
According to some of the fluff I have read, its pretty common. That said, alot of times the offending party doesnt get away with it.

Catachcan regiments frag their commissars, but kreig commissars are the voice of reason in their regiments, and their front, since other regiments dont like the kreig mentality.

Its a matter of whats more needed. Commissars for savlar regiments are harsh by necessity, while commissars of regiments from cadia or kreig keep their soldiers from going into fights they cannot win. I imagine there are alot of pretty decent commissars, and its usually only the newer ones that are total ******s when they dont need to be.

Vaulkhar
05-11-2007, 07:56
Cain's usual riff on the subject is that it's a bad idea to be excessively harsh on the troopers since before long, they'll be in a warzone, you'll be with them and they'll all have guns...which he repeats several times in the novels

On a practical note, the usual way to cover up a fragging is to report that Commissar Murderous Psychopath heroically charged the enemy, only to die of wounds received when the treacherous scum detonated a frag grenade in a suicidal bid to kill such a revered Hero of the Imperium. No, there won;'t be a funeral there wasn't enough left to bury and don't bother with a replacement either, that's the third one we've lost this month, the enemy must be targetting them in a bid to undermine morale, etc, etc...

Obviously sooner or later the Munitorum is going to rumble this, so best hope to get a 'tame' Commissar before that happens. In an Imperial Guard where a soldier is worth far less than his kit (and is far easier to replace) I can see the decimation of a regiment being tried - and if that doesn't work, the wholesale extermination.

OnlyInDeath
05-11-2007, 08:20
Catachcan regiments frag their commissars, but kreig commissars are the voice of reason in their regiments, and their front, since other regiments dont like the kreig mentality.


I like the idea that the Commissar in the DKOK would be the guy who would try to get them to be just a little less fanatically psychotic.

Vaulkhar
05-11-2007, 08:49
In addition, DKoK Commissars have the unwelcome task of stopping officers from other worlds fragging the DKoK officers when they realise their Cadians/Tallarns/whatever are going to be used as human bullets in exactly the same way as the Krieg regard their own men...