"Call that a blade? I'd sooner march before an Ork horde naked than trust my life to so insignificant a shard of steel."
- — Sergeant Uan Shaill, 5th Brontian Longknives
The Brontian Longknives are the highly disciplined regiments of the Astra Militarum conscripted in large numbers from the Hive World of Bront, located within the Golgenna Reach Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector. Despite the high level of violence present on this world, the population of Bront is unusually self-disciplined.
The people of Bront favour an assortment of blades over ranged weapons, which typically leaves their bodies scarred during the course of ritualised mass battles using these close combat weapons. These scars are proudly displayed, serving as a mark of experience of an individual warrior's prowess and experience in battle.
The Hive World of Bront is known to be a particularly violent place, yet possesses a level of order and discipline not found on many other Hive Worlds of similar population density. One of the younger Hive Worlds in the Calixis Sector, Bront was founded almost a decade after the end of the Angevin Crusade, as a reward to the 33rd Army Group, the last of the Crusade's forces to be demobilised as the sector fully established itself in the Imperium of Man.
While not originally a Hive World, Bront was swiftly industrialised, and was reclassified by the Administratum as a Hive World within a mere thousand standard years of its founding. Bront's populace was formed from the descendants of countless thousands of Imperial Guardsmen and their families who were originally drawn from dozens of different worlds, who had been brought together by the shared experience of conflict.
The Spinward Front
Brontian regiments are proud to continue in the martial traditions of their ancestors, fighting for the Imperium as their ancestors did generations ago during the Angevin Crusade. With the Calixis Sector still considered relatively young and wild, Brontian regiments are most frequently deployed to relatively local conflicts, from the brutal insurrection of the Meritech Wars, to the mutant uprising on Tranch and the 47 Kapella Pacification. However, an increasing number of Brontians have seen action in warzones further away, particularly with the needs of the Margin Crusade increasing with every passing year.
When Duke Severus XIII annexed the worlds beyond the Periphery Sub-sector into the Severan Dominate, Bront increased its recruitment rate, offering a greater tithe of men to the Departmento Munitorum and to Lord Sector Marius Hax in order to punish this transgression against the labours that their ancestors bled for. Dozens of regiments have been thrown into the Periphery and the zone beyond every year, and this seems unlikely to cease as the conflict on the Spinward Front continues to seethe.
The population of Bront have strong traditions of military discipline and ancestral ties to the Imperial Guard, with old regimental affiliations forming a system of clan-houses. These clans form the heart of Brontian society, maintaining ancient traditions from their ancestors' distant homeworlds and instilling a deep sense of loyalty and duty to the God-Emperor in its people. However, the military tradition that defines Brontian culture also ensures that the clans work tirelessly to be ready to defend the Imperium as their ancestors once did. Disputes between clans are resolved through ritualised mass battles, favouring an assortment of blades over pistols, rifles, and other ranged weapons.
These ritual battles typically leave little more than scars, which are worn openly where possible to display a warrior's victories and losses, and every Brontian warrior knows and can recount the history of every one of his scars. While most scars are regarded as a sign of experience and honour, a few are viewed with scorn: scars upon a warrior’s back are universally regarded as dishonourable, whether from the bite of a lash to punish a criminal, or from the edge of a blade when fleeing from battle. Ne'er-do-wells and cowards are ill-favoured in Brontian society, and seldom rise to achieve any worthy status once marked as such.
The people of Bront grow up surrounded by crowds in the hive cities, and they are used to weaving through even the densest mobs with ease. Brontians seldom endure the horrors of the open sky or suffer the indignities of the great outdoors.
When recruited into the Imperial Guard, Brontian Longknives regiments are deliberately drawn from multiple clans, with individual companies, platoons or even squads all holding different ancestral affiliations. This means that each Brontian regiment represents the world and its people as a whole, rather than any one element of it, and the bonds of bloodshed formed during ritual battle hold these disparate groups together in spite of their differences. A Brontian knows to respect those he faces in battle for the death they can deliver, and the warriors of the other clans have been faced many times.
Individual Brontian Guardsmen are still known to bear their scars openly, and carry their favoured knives about their person, adding new blades to their collection with every campaign survived -- a Brontian soldier's experience can be seen in the scars on his arms, torso and face, and in the knives strapped to his armour. Brontian officers are known to carry the tradition a step further, with an array of swords worn at their belts and over their shoulders, and their scars used to help determine their worth as front-line leaders -- rare is the Brontian officer who achieves a significant rank with dishonour's mark upon his back.
Brontian regiments are most commonly infantry, mechanised infantry or light infantry, with Brontian armoured regiments being extremely rare. The Brontian preference and talent for close assaults are ill-suited to armour or artillery regiments, and are better served being placed at the front lines, leading assaults with bayonet charges or ambushing enemy patrols with blackened knives. Some notable exceptions exist, such as the famed Brontian 82nd Armoured, whose Leman Russ Demolisher squadrons were invariably found at the heart of the fighting, pounding enemies and fortifications alike at close range.
What follows is a list of the most common items of wargear issued to the members of the Brontian Longknives regiments:
- Lasgun - Produced in a multitude of different styles and patterns, the Lasgun can be found in use on almost every world of the Imperium.
- 6 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.
- 2 Knives - This one-handed melee implement is the ubiquitous back-up 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. Brontian regiments are known for their fondness of anything with a blade, carrying an assortment of knives with them at all times.
- 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.
- 3 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.
- 3 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.
- Brontian Longknives Imperial Guard Uniform
- Flak Armour - The most common type of armour used by Imperial Guard forces is Flak Armour, and it is standard-issue combat gear to the countless millions of Imperial Guardsmen who fight on the Emperor's behalf across the galaxy. Many layers of ablative and impact absorbent material go into making each suit, enough to deflect or negate most low-level attacks such as small arms, shrapnel, and proximity blasts. Solid hits from high impact weapons can generally negate it, but given that it is relatively lightweight, cheap to produce, and dependable in most combat situations, many veterans keep using it even when offered something better.
- 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
- 4 Weeks Rations
- 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.
- Micro-Bead - A micro-bead or comm-bead is a short-range radio wave communication device worn in the ear, good for communications out to about one kilometre (depending on weather conditions and the intervening terrain). Each fits discretely in the ear, with higher craftsmanship models nearly undetectable in casual inspection.
- Photo-Visor - These advanced lenses are designed to enhance low-level light so that even in the darkest nights its user can see almost as well as in daylight.
- Grooming Kit
- Dog Tags
- 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 Brontian Longknives Regiments
- 4th Brontian Longknives - The 4th Brontian Longknives are a veteran regiment that has served the Imperium across multiple battlefronts over the past twenty-five years. During that time, they have proven themselves repeatedly against xenos and heretic forces. Their preferred heavy weapon is the Autocannon, while their favoured assault weapon is the Meltagun. Only their command squads are officially assigned Chimera transports. Platoons are disciplined to maintain daily marches of thirty kilometres or more under conditions of light resistance for weeks at a time. Only in situations where troopers need to travel more than a week’s march are they assigned transport. Due to the harsh conditions on their positioned world of Skrynne and the limits to support from the Imperial Navy, the regiment has been forced to convert civilian vehicles for extended troop transits on several occasions. Once pressed into service, the regiment assumes full responsibility for keeping these vehicles fully functional over an extended period. As a light infantry regiment, the 4th Brontian Longknives are well suited to combat the native Ork population. Due to the planet’s relatively low mineral content, those Orks are relatively poorly armed and have few examples of the race’s characteristic vehicles. Sending them to combat such a foe may have been a deliberate choice based upon High Command’s historic knowledge of Skrynne. Unfortunately, the Orks associated with Warboss Tufgob are capable of fielding a substantially higher number of vehicles, most of which they brought with them aboard their Roks. This has led to many situations where the regiment has had to depend upon the efficiency of their Meltaguns against the Ork vehicles. Culturally, the Brontians are extremely disciplined during military situations but tend to cut loose when on leave or even just off duty. They are generally a garrulous lot, who are friendly towards outsiders as long as the outsiders give the appearance of being capable warriors. They look down on those who lack the necessary discipline or talent to be effective warriors. This regiment is also a particularly superstitious lot, as they have seen a number of unholy and unnatural events during past battles against heretical foes. A less proven regiment might even have been disbanded or sent on a suicide mission, as the mere knowledge of some of these events could lead to heresy.
- 5th Brontian Longknives, "the Scar-Sowers" - The current Imperial Guard regiment designated the 5th Brontian Longknives are the fourth to bear the name and traditions, commanded by the daring and charismatic Colonel Ioan Dunnoch. Mustered with the establishment of the Spinward Front, the 5th Longknives have served primarily on Kulth as part of a counter-incursion force based in Fort Drusus, pushing back against Ork assaults wherever they occur with little respite between individual battles. As a front-line assault force, the 5th Brontian have suffered extensive casualties during the years of warfare, but their renown and continued success have seen them bolstered by the remnants of other Brontian regiments. To date, sixteen other Brontian infantry regiments have been consolidated into the strength of the 5th Longknives, creating a force forged by brutal warfare into a brotherhood of hardened veterans. Famous for leading the forlorn hope against the Ork stronghold on Tyrrea, Colonel Dunnoch is a man for whom the horrors of war serve as little discouragement. Ambitious, but with the will and talent to support his aspirations to glory and renown, Dunnoch's rise to command the 5th Longknives (and his increasing notoriety) has seen his regiment placed at the forefront of the onslaught against the Orks, taking their knives and swords to Greenskin flesh. Dunnoch and his regiment have received several commendations from High Command in the Spinward Front for shattering Ork bulwarks and crippling Greenskin offensives, and they have gained a reputation as some of the foremost close-quarters specialists amongst the Imperial Guard regiments staving off the devastating advance of WAAAGH! Grimtoof across the region. The soldiers of the Brontian 5th, informally called the "Scar-Sowers," are proud examples of their world's warriors, strong, quick, and deadly with a blade, loyal and unquestioning, and courageous in the face of the enemy. Their honour is without question and their knives without mercy for the enemies of the Imperium.
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 379-380
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pp. 16-17