"A soldier afoot is no soldier at all."
- — Common saying among the Attilan Rough Riders
The Attilan Rough Riders, also referred to as the Rough Riders of Attila, are an elite Astra Militarum mounted regiment whose members have been recruited from the Feudal World of Attila, an ancient human colony located in the Ultima Segmentum.
The ancient Attilan Rough Riders are one of the most famous Imperial Guard regiments, alongside the likes of the doughty Cadian Shock Troops, the intractable Valhallan Ice Warriors, and the stoic Death Korps of Krieg.
The Imperium of Man recruits some of its most ferocious mounted warriors from this barbaric world. These specialised mounted cavalry regiments have a bloodthirsty reputation and they fight all over the galaxy in the name of the Emperor of Mankind.
On Feudal Worlds such as Attila, where it is normal for warriors to fight from horseback, the Imperium recruits mounted regiments of Imperial Guardsmen known as Rough Riders. The Attilan Rough Riders are recruited from such a world, where fierce nomadic tribes and warrior horse-lodges have perfected the art of cavalry techniques through thousands of Terran years of bloodshed.
It is said that Attilans are born in the saddle, for they are amongst the greatest horsemen in the galaxy. The Attilan breed of horses they prefer are thick-set beasts, ill-tempered and likely to bite or kick anyone unwise enough to give them the chance to do so.
Such mounts are bred for power and strength, and many are given bio-chemical treatments intended to enhance their combat potential. Trained for a life of battle, these warhorses do not shy away from the enemy or panic easily. The riders depend upon their mounts a great deal, and value them more highly than any treasure.
In adverse conditions a warrior will draw off some of the animal's blood and drink it to sustain himself, enabling the Attilans to survive without food or water for many days. This gives them the ability to operate behind enemy lines without supplies.
The Spinward Front
Attilan Rough Rider regiments operating in the Spinward Front of the Calixis Sector's Periphery Sub-Sector have been used to shockingly good effect by Lord Marshal Ghanzorik. Recognizing their aptitude for guerrilla fighting and both anti-infantry and anti-armour warfare, the Lord Marshal has deployed the Attilans under the command of the implacable Commander Tenzing, a protégé of the famous Attilan war chief Mogul Khamir.
Under the leadership of Tenzing, the Attilans have spent most of their time in theatre battling Orks and the human Separatists of the Severan Dominate, using their knowledge of skirmish warfare to cut a swath through the Ork and human forces alike, and sowing much discord throughout their enemies’ armies.
Of particular note in the Spinward Front is the 264th Attilan Rough Riders, a regiment that have won some note in the Spinward Front battling the various Renegades and marauders who have struck at the flanks of Imperial supply lines and worlds left vulnerable by the major push against the Severan Dominate. Although they have participated in few of the major operations against the Separatists in the Spinward Front, the populations of several Imperial worlds owe their continued existence to the swift reactions of the 264th. Commander Khutulun, one of Tenzing’s most prominent pupils, has led the 264th on the worlds of Sisk, Sinophia, and Oriad, using the mobility of her force to harry and intercept groups of raiders as they land and before they can strike at vulnerable targets. Currently, the 264th is on the world of Cepyrsk, where it has been assigned with purging a larger group of Renegades who have entrenched themselves in Garhive, the world’s main hive city.
Unfortunately, in recent months, the campaign has ground to a halt thanks to a number of aircraft possessed by the Renegades of the Dominate. Without a dedicated core of anti-aircraft weapons, the Attilans, and Krieg Guardsmen stationed on Cepyrsk have been forced to fight a defensive battle, holding on until the proper support arrives. Commander Khutulun and her Attilans have been particularly aggravated by this turn of events. The Attilan Rough Riders favour the offence, using swift Rough Riders to throw the enemy into confusion before decisively crushing them with the bulk of their forces. As such, Khutulun has made targeting the airfields a priority, and hopes to rout the renegades defending these key locations with a set of rapid, aggressive strikes by her vanguard units while the aircraft engage the rest of the Imperial Guard at Garhive.
Attila's society was once composed of fractured, scattered nomadic tribes who spent their lives herding their animals and warring with one another for food, land, horses, and dominance. For centuries they existed like this, perfecting both their ways of war and the breeding of their unique horses, until the Imperium rediscovered them and began bringing them back into the Emperor's fold. Attila is a rugged and striking world, slightly smaller than Terra, dominated by broad, arid steppes. Its single continent spans nearly half of the planet, with the rest being deep, impenetrable seas. At the centre of Attila's single continent is a vast desert. Brutally extreme in its temperature variations and weather patterns, it is a baking desert during the summer season and a howling, icy expanse of sand, snow, and wind in the winter. The steppes and savannah for which the planet is known ring this central desert, and are home to nearly all of the planet's population.
This scant habitable area is defined by a stunning array of rolling plains, soaring mountain ranges, deep inland seas, and powerful, rushing rivers. At the very extremes of the continent, all along its long coastline, are dense forests of tall evergreens. There is only one city on Attila, the bustling metropolis of Khanasan. It is here that the Attilans have their government, their main trading centres, and the small, barely tolerated Imperial and Ecclesiarchy missions. The Attilans themselves are a hardy, passionate, small-framed people with nut-coloured skin, black hair and eyes, and striking, weather-beaten features. Some Attilans sport long braids or tangles of hair, and many Attilan men sport impressive moustaches that fall across their craggy faces. Attilans of both genders tend to be bandy-legged and long armed, with broad shoulders and piercing eyes. They move with the loping, bow-legged gait of lifetime riders, and are graceful and elegant in the saddle. Some undergo ritual scarification as a part of their coming of age ceremony -- long, deep, vertical cuts are made in their cheeks, into which ashes are rubbed to encourage scars that mar the Attilans' faces.
As with most Feudal Worlders, few Attilans take the time to learn to read and write, consumed as their lives are by warfare. Written language is largely the domain of scribes, and even many of the elite see little reason to concern themselves with this specialised task. While the Attilans possess the understanding of technology required to wield their weapons and sufficient knowledge of august tech-rites to maintain their own equipment, life on Attila does not prepare them for many of the arcane machines and devices that they encounter in the service of the God-Emperor.
The Rough Riders of Attila's warrior prowess is founded upon their tradition of never ending battle, especially amongst themselves, for the tribes of Attila respect only power and a tribal chieftain or king must be prepared to demonstrate his might to doubting rivals. When a lord of the Attilans defeats an enemy he decapitates the beaten man's head and has his artificers turn the skull into a drinking cup as a permanent symbol of his victory. Attilans have little respect for medals awarded after a battle's conclusion and feel that the only symbols of merit worth owning are those won in the heat of battle, whilst their warriors' blood is still hot in their veins. As such, the most valued trophies of war amongst the Attilans are the scars earned from cheating death and the skull of a worthy foe.
Attilan life is innately tied to various animals. Two species are of particular importance to them: the Ovigor, a herd animal that provides critical sustenance and, of course, the mighty horses of Terran descent that the Attilans ride into battle. Horses serve as the faithful companions and mounts, and Ovigors make up the core of the Attilans' staple diet on their homeworld. The Attilan's native variant of the Imperial Creed uses iconography of the horse and rider to represent many aspects of the holy. Work, play, and the passage of seasons all centre on herding the Ovigor, as the Attilans move them to the centre of the continent during the summer for the good grazing into the temperate lands near the forests for the winter. Their deep bond with the horse as both working and fighting animals is one reason that so many Rough Rider regiments are raised on this planet.
The Attilans have lived alongside their mounts for millennia. Their entire cultural identity is centred around these tough, compact, and reliable horses, and the creatures are used not only as mounts and work animals, but for food, materials, and in the Attilan's various religious rites. The Attilans and their horses share a deep bond of culture, tradition, service, and affection. When in the field, far away from Imperial Logistics, Attilans can even drink small portions of the blood of their mounts to sustain them, draining off small amounts of blood at a time and mixing it with foraged plants to create a nourishing slurry that they heat over a fire.
The Attilans excel at raiding and skirmishing, and are used by the Imperial Guard as guerrilla fighters to great effect all across the galaxy. Their cavalry charges are in part terrifying and in part inspiring for their allies to behold, a striking testament to the will of the Attilans and the unyielding might of the Imperial Guard. To their enemies, these roaring walls of horses, soldiers, and volatile speartips are must seem nothing less than the hammer of the God-Emperor himself, smiting those who have woken his ire by provoking the Attilans.
The world of Attila is primitive, having reverted to a pre-industrial way of life during the Long Night of the Age of Strife. On such a barbaric world, the horse is the most important type of transport, and horses are found throughout human space having been brought by early colonists during the Dark Age of Technology. Even the Imperial Guard, with its legions of machinery and armoured vehicles, has a place for mounted warriors. Regiments of Rough Riders are sometimes deployed wholesale, especially where terrain is unsuitable for tracked vehicles.
A squad of skilled mounted cavalry can be used as an effective assault and skirmishing force, able to move rapidly over the broken ground, climb steep slopes and gallop along narrow ravines. However, it is more common to divide mounted regiments and allocate Rough Rider squads to fight alongside conventional infantry regiments, thereby spreading the horsemen over a wide battlefield.
They can then act in the roles of scouts, patrols and fast response troops. Rough Riders are also used to operate out on their own beyond the reach of normal lines of communication, deep within enemy territory. Because of their use of living mounts rather than machines, they need neither fuel nor maintenance and, unlike vehicles, they cannot be easily traced with Auspex or scanner. This enables them to harass enemy troop movements by using guerrilla tactics.
For the most part, the Attilan Rough Riders are raiders and skirmishers. They use guerrilla tactics honed over thousands of standard years of tribal warfare. They specialise in using terrain features and light cover to hide their movements, appearing suddenly over a rise or from behind a ridge and riding quickly down on their enemies, lances levelled and screaming all the while. This shocking spectacle rarely fails to shake enemies and scatter their formations.
Once the initial charge is over, the Attilans wheel their mounts around and charge back into the thick of the enemy, using their sidearms and sabres with shocking efficiency to cut the enemy to ribbons. In the middle of these melees, the horses themselves also prove devastating weapons, biting, kicking, and trampling everything around them. The Attilans are also well trained in fast attack anti-armour tactics where their speed, agility, and pinpoint accuracy with the hunting lance can disable all but the most powerful armoured vehicles.
The Rough Riders of Attila's uniforms consist of personal armour made of scale or lamellar, leather or hide greatcoats, leather riding gloves, boots and a traditional and distinctive Attilan wide-brimmed fur riding hat. Every squad of Attilan Rough Riders chooses a distinctive Astra Militarum skull motif which is branded onto each of their horses. Apart from this and the other Imperial Guard icon on their shoulder armour, they wear little or no insignia.
The Attilans present a barbaric appearance, especially with the ritual scarification upon their cheeks -- long knife cuts of white tissue which stand out against each man's weather-beaten skin. These marks are cut into a rider's cheeks as a young man, and ashes from the camp fire are rubbed into the wounds so that they leave deep and prominent scars. The Attilans also are known to make extensive use of tribal tattoos as well.
Attilans tend to wear their hair in long, unkempt braids, or long and matted. They do not wash themselves or clean their clothes, believing that to do so would affront the spirits of water that they superstitiously believe people their land. This tradition has proven hard to break, despite considerable effort on the part of the Adeptus Ministorum preachers in the barely-tolerated Imperial mission in the Attilan capital city of Khanasan. Indeed, it is said that the stench of an Attilan is as powerful a weapon as his hunting lance.
What follows is a list of the most common items of wargear issued to the members of the Attilan Rough Rider regiments:
- Laspistol or Bolt Pistol - Attilan Rough Riders often carry compact weapons like a Laspistol or human-sized Bolt Pistol in addition to the standard Hunting Lances utilised in mounted cavalry charges. The Attilans utilise these additional weapons once their initial charge is complete.
- 4 Charge Packs - Charge Packs are powerful capacitor batteries used almost exclusively by Imperial laser weapons. The Charge Pack's size and make varies depending on the class of the weapon. In all cases, it provides shots equal to the weapon's full clip value and can be recharged when emptied.
- 1 Hunting Lance - The Attilans carry a long and lethal Hunting Lance as their primary weapon. The hunting lance is roughly half again as tall as a man, is balanced and reinforced to absorb the shock of charging and thrusting, and is tipped with a bayonet-style mount that allows the trooper to use a number of speciality tips depending on their mission. These tips range from anti-armour tips using shaped charges or melta technology to mono-edged blades and even deadly plasma tips that rely on the detonation of a small plasma core to inflict their damage.
- 1 Sabre - Attilan Rough Riders often utilise heavy, curved, single-edged sabres designed for the kind of heavy hacking and slashing that fighting from horseback entails, following a mounted cavalry charge.
- 2 Frag Grenades - Frag Grenades use a combustible charge and special fillers of shrapnel fragments which make them potent anti-personnel weapons. Imperial Frag Grenades are roughly the size of a clenched fist and covered with a heavily notched shell, both to increase the shrapnel produced and provide a more secure grip for throwing.
- 2 Krak Grenades - Krak Grenades are crafted with powerful concentrated explosives designed to punch holes in armoured targets such as vehicles or bunkers. While stronger than Frag Grenades, Krak detonations do not produce a blast effect and their more focused explosion makes them less practical as anti-personnel weapons.
- 2 Smoke Grenades - Smoke Grenades release a dense smoke which only obscures basic eyesight and optical based systems. They do not block detection systems that use heat or other spectral bands outside of normal human eyesight, but are much more widely available and easier to construct.
- 1 Mono Knife - The Mono-Knife is a one-handed melee implement that is one variant of the ubiquitous back-up melee weapon for warriors all across the Imperium, be they lowly hive scum or the elite soldiers of a Planetary Governor. Some, such as the Catachan Fighting Knife, are designed for a specific purpose, whilst others are more generic in nature.
- 1 Flak Jacket and Flak Helm - For protection, the Attilans wear a specially designed light flak armour based on their traditional lamellar riding armour that gives them adequate protection while not encumbering them overmuch or limiting their range of movement.
- Gas Mask - A simple breathing mask that covers the nose and mouth or entire face, these offer much better protection than filtration plugs.
- Poor Weather Gear
- Mess Kit
- Water Canteen
- Blanket and Sleep Bag
- Rechargeable Lamp–Pack - Sturdy and reliable, glow-globes illuminate many an Imperial paveway and cathedral. Most portable ones are roughly the size of a clenched fist and can shine strong, yellowish light a dozen or so metres in width, lasting roughly five hours before their power pack needs recharging or replacing.
- Grooming Kit
- Dog Tags
- 2 Weeks' Rations
- 1 Horse - The most important component of both the Attilan's training and wargear loadout is the redoubtable warhorse. Compact, powerful, and generally ill-tempered, these creatures have been bred for centuries for intelligence, fearlessness in battle, and incredible endurance. Their powerful muscles and impressive stamina grant them the ability to travel at a consistent and moderately quick pace across the kilometres of trackless steppe that make up the Attilan landscape. While the creatures obviously cannot actually fly, some riders describe a mounted charge as being akin to airborne, and the comparison is not entirely inapt. These creatures have the ability to cover short distances in surprisingly fast sprints that bring their riders within striking range much more quickly than their foes typically expect.
- 1 Saddle
- 2 Saddlebags
- 1 Set of Riding Tack - This consists of reins, harness, ect. that is necessary for maintaining a mount.
- Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer - A standard-issue Imperial text that covers a vast variety of topics, this book is possessed by all members of the Imperial Guard as part of their standard-issue equipment. The Primer is a basic guide that details everything a Guardsman needs to know: principles and regulations of the Imperial Guard, issued arms, attire, apparatus, and equipment, basic battlefield policy and Imperial Guard organisation and structure, elementary battlefield medical instructions, and a detailed guide on the foes of the Imperium. No Guardsman should ever be found without possession of a copy of the Uplifting Primer for the punishment is severe.
Notable Attilan Rough Rider Regiments
- 264th Attilan Rough Riders - The 264th Attilan Rough Riders are a regiment that have won some note in the Spinward Front in the Calixis Sector's Periphery Sub-sector, battling the various Renegades and marauders who have struck at the flanks of Imperial supply lines and worlds left vulnerable by the major push of the Imperial Guard against the forces of the Severan Dominate. Although they have participated in few of the major operations against the Separatists in the Spinward Front, the populations of several Imperial worlds owe their continued existence to the swift reactions of the 264th.
Notable Attilan Rough Riders
- Mogul Kamir - Mogul Kamir is the fiercest mounted warrior of the Attilan Rough Riders. He rose to take control of his tribe at a young age. As a fierce warrior and natural leader, Kamir easily rose to a position of leadership over his own squadron of Rough Riders. Mogul Kamir's squadron has carried out some of the Khanasan's fiercest mounted charges within all of the Imperial Guard's Rough Riders regiments. His headstrong attitude often sees him recklessly charging the enemy. Kamir's body is a testament to pain and a lifetime of battle, riddled with scar-tissue and other signs of uncounted notable endeavours in the heat of battle. Many a warlord's skull adorns his massive hunting-lance, both a testament to his courage and a proclamation of his skills as Attila's greatest warrior. Like his fellow Attilan tribesmen, Kamir is proud and aloof except in battle, when he turns into a snarling daredevil oblivious to mortal danger. His lust for combat is a matter of pride amongst the Attilans and only the fiercest and most skilled of warriors are allowed to ride with him. Kamir is a cunning ally who has the ability to turn the tide of battle with a single charge.
- Commander Tenzing - Tenzing is a a protégé of the famous Attilan war chief Mogul Khamir. Utilising Attilan Rough Rider regiments in the Spinward Front, they have been used to shockingly good effect by Lord Marshal Ghanzorik. Recognizing their aptitude for guerrilla fighting and both anti-infantry and anti-armour warfare, the Lord Marshal has deployed the Attilans under the command of the implacable Commander Tenzing.
- Commander Khutulun - Commander Khutulun, one of Tenzing's most prominent pupils, has led the 264th Attilan Rough Riders on the worlds of Sisk, Sinophia, and Oriad in the Spinward Front, using the mobility of her force to harry and intercept groups of raiders as they land and before they can strike at vulnerable targets. Currently, the 264th is on the world of Cepyrsk, where it has been assigned with purging a larger group of Renegades who have entrenched themselves in Garhive, the world's main hive city. Unfortunately, in recent months, the campaign has ground to a halt thanks to a number of aircraft possessed by the Renegades. Without a dedicated core of anti-aircraft weapons, the Attilans and Death Korps of Krieg Guardsmen stationed on Cepyrsk have been forced to fight a defensive battle, holding on until the proper support arrives. Commander Khutulun and her Attilans have been particularly aggravated by this turn of events. The Attilan Rough Riders favour the offence, using swift Rough Riders to throw the enemy into confusion before decisively crushing them with the bulk of their forces. As such, Khutulun has made targeting the airfields as a priority, and hopes to rout the Renegades defending these key locations with a set of rapid, aggressive strikes by her vanguard units while the aircraft engage the rest of the Imperial Guard at Garhive.
The Attilan Imperial Guard regiments are based almost, if not entirely, on the Hun and Mongol nomadic hordes that rampaged across the Eurasian continent in the 5th and 13th centuries AD, respectively. Their name derives from the nickname of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry's during the 1898 Spanish-American War. The Attilans' practice of "drinking the blood of their mounts" is in fact a reference to one of the more common practices of the Huns, Mongols and other Eurasian steppe nomads.
- Codex: Imeprial Guard (5th Edition), pp. 21, 44, 66
- Codex: Imperial Guard (2nd Edition), pp. 17, 40-41, 90
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pp. 12-16, 119-120, 133, 136