"The enemy commanders think themselves safe from the Emperor's Wrath behind kilometres of fortifications and legions of warriors. They did not account for us. Make your peace with the Emperor, men—we drop in two minutes."
- — Colonel Johanna van Meer, Elysian 13th "Helldivers" Drop Troops
Elysian Drop Troops are the airborne assault infantry regiments of the Astra Militarum who are recruited from the verdant world of Elysia in the Segmentum Solar, 30 light years from the world of Armageddon.
Rare within the Imperial Guard as a whole, Drop Infantry regiments are a potent strategic asset which many Generals are eager to obtain, and Elysia produces a considerable quantity of such regiments, whose skills are employed across the galaxy.
The Elysian Drop Troop regiments make extensive use of aircraft and elite soldiers plunging from the skies directly into battle. These regiments' true advantage lies in their speed, unpredictability and the unrivalled ability to attack anywhere on the battlefield, at any time. Imperial Guard regiments raised from Elysia are regarded as somewhat unorthodox. Conventional infantry, armour, and artillery formations are rare, with the bulk of Elysians becoming the famed Drop Troops.
Each Elysian must spend a single tour of duty within the forces guarding Elysia itself before they will be considered for service within the Imperial Guard. After this time, with each soldier becoming veterans of a dozen or more battles, potential recruits are drilled for months in the art of airborne assault by Grav-Chute and aircraft, working to perfect those skills before being deployed to a warzone on a distant world.
Little compares to the awe-inspiring sight of an entire regiment of Elysian Drop Troops, thousands of soldiers strong, dropping by Grav-Chute and rappelling from Valkyrie Assault Carriers, supported by similarly air-mobile Sentinel walkers and Tauros scout vehicles.
However, their favoured strategies also come with their own problems. Drop Troop regiments cannot be supported by anything much heavier than those light vehicles, denying them the support of the mighty Leman Russ main battle tank or even the humble Chimera APC.
Consequently, the Elysians struggle in prolonged battles, lacking the endurance and the firepower necessary to hold their ground for a protracted period. Instead, Elysian Drop Troop regiments are better suited to surprise attacks, ambushes, and guerrilla warfare once they've landed, relying on mobility to continue their fight.
For similar reasons, Elysians carry as many supplies as possible to prolong their ability to operate behind enemy lines, and their intense training ensures that these supplies last as long as possible, with availability of ammunition being a particular problem, alleviated by ensuring that as few shots are wasted as possible.
Elysia, the homeworld of the Elysian Drop Troop regiments, is a verdant Imperial Civilised World in the Segmentum Solar existing at the edge of a spur of colonised territory some 30 light years from the Hive World of Armageddon.
The Elysian System and the surrounding space were notorious havens for human and Eldar pirates, as Elysia lay on a major trade route through its sector and its star system was characterised by numerous asteroid fields and dense gas clouds that served as highly effective camouflage for pirate vessels waiting to raid passing Imperial commerce.
Surrounded by untamed worlds, barren moons, and a variety of gas clouds and asteroid fields, the region is a haven for pirates and renegades, who must constantly be kept in check to prevent lawlessness from overrunning the system. Much of the Elysian planetary defence force is thus required to serve the dual role of defending their homeworld and suppressing pirate activity in the surrounding area.
Due to this necessity, Elysian soldiers are well-versed in ship-to-ship boarding actions and similar strategies, rapid strikes in concert with orbital and aerial support being the only effective way of combating elusive enemies, such as those the Elysians routinely face. As a result of this, Imperial Guard regiments raised from Elysia are regarded as somewhat unorthodox.
The Spinward Front
Through careful politicking and negotiation at the highest levels, a contingent of Elysian regiments was secured for operations in and around the Calixis Sector. While the majority were quickly claimed for the Margin Crusade, a few were diverted to support the Spinward Front.
These regiments are held as a strategic reserve by Lord Marshal Ghanzorik, who is careful to employ such a limited resource only when strictly necessary, unwilling to simply throw the valuable regiments into the meat-grinder.
This has not limited the action that Elysian regiments have seen within the Spinward Front, however. So many individual warzones and objectives exist across so many worlds that there are ample opportunities and vital conflicts aplenty that are deserving of the Elysians' rare talents, from counter-offensives against Drukhari raiders on Kalf, to intense guerrilla warfare on Horizon and the sabotage of the Ork-dominated shipyards above Sickle.
However, the Elysian contingent has suffered heavy losses during the failed assault on Thrax, which saw nine regiments lost and the survivors stranded on a world contested by both the Orks and the forces of the Severan Dominate.
The Elysian Drop Troop Regiments raised by the Imperial Tithe for service in the Imperial Guard are elite, all-volunteer units whose troops are required to first serve at least one tour of combat duty in the Elysian PDF before they are allowed to join.
After they are recruited the new Drop Troops are sent to a number of military training bases established across Elysia and the rest of the Elysian System to begin their training, which includes extensive practice handling Grav-Chutes, making high-orbit insertions, sharpshooter training and extreme environment survival skills.
Elysian Drop Troops are expected to make every shot count as during their operations resupply can often be days or even weeks away and so no Trooper is allowed to enter combat duty without first having been rated as an expert marksman. This high-level of accuracy allows Elysian Drop Troops to be far more effective when wielding lasguns or autoguns than the equivalent standard regiments of the Imperial Guard.
Most Imperial Guard regiments are recruited to serve as basic heavy infantry. But some worlds, due to their particular cultural or environmental circumstances, produce more specialised and elite regiments. Among this group of Imperial Guard units can be counted the Elysian Drop Troops, who serve as highly mobile, elite airborne infantry equipped with sophisticated aircraft and Grav-Chutes intended to be used for deep strikes behind enemy lines.
The Elysian Drop Troops are among the best rapid-response, highly mobile heavy infantry regiments that can be deployed by the Imperial Guard.
Elysian Drop Troops are provided with high-quality armour and weapons and are extremely well-trained due to the difficulty required in mastering the tactics of airborne assault using Grav-Chutes and Valkyrie Airborne Assault Aircraft. They also comprise an unusually high number of elite Storm Trooper companies within their unit organisations.
When making a combat drop, the Elysian Drop Troops' primary objective is to sow devastation and confusion among the enemy as a result of their sudden arrival behind enemy lines. However, because of their emphasis on mobility, Elysian Regiments do not make use of any of the standard Imperial Guard armoured vehicles from the Leman Russ tank to the Chimera armoured personnel carrier.
The only vehicles that the Elysian Drop Troops can make use of because they are light enough to be dropped into combat by a Grav-Chute are Sentinel walkers and Tauros Rapid Assault Vehicles. As a result, Elysian troops are often able to rapidly overwhelm the enemy and seize an objective, but they must be reinforced by other Imperial forces that possess heavier weaponry as they are unable to hold their objectives for long in the face of determined enemy resistance.
During large-scale campaigns such as planetary sieges, the Elysian combat doctrine favours hit-and-run tactics that focuses on ambushes where the Elysians can concentrate their fire and mobility advantage to weaken the enemy and then disappear to repeat the process.
In smaller engagements such as direct assaults of a fixed target, the Elysians are capable of carrying out rapid assaults and maintaining their combat cohesiveness for several weeks without effective resupply.
- Mark IV Accatran Pattern Lasgun - All Elysian Drop Troops are armed with the Mark IV Accatran Pattern Lasgun.
- 5 Charge Cells - Not every world within the Imperium maintains the capacity to manufacture a Charge Pack capable of releasing a limited laser charge at a time. Some must make do with individual cells that expend their entire capacity in a single rapid burst. These have sufficient energy for a single laser shot and must be changed after every firing.
- Mark XII Carapace Armour - Carapace Armour is generally a sign of status and is mostly worn by Imperial officers and agents of the Inquisition. Elysia is a wealthy world and spares no expense in outfitting its troops. Made from moulded plates of armaplas, ceramite, or other strong materials, it can cover the entire body or just sections depending on the desired level of protection. Storm Troopers, for example, wear full body suits including a helmet, while most soldiers are lucky to gain access to just a simple chestplate to wear over more comfortable mesh or flakweave suits. Some bodysuits have slots designed for simple carapace plates to be inserted in, so that the overall suits can be rapidly configured for as much or little protection as desired. Damaged plates can be more easily replaced without requiring the purchase of an entire new suit.
- Grav-Chute - A Grav-Chute relies on anti-gravitic suspensor fields to counter the pull of gravity and slow its user's descent to a planetary surface. Two small jets on either side above the shoulders offer extra braking and manoeuvrability as well. Unlike a true Jump Pack, Grav-Chutes are designed only to allow the user to land safely from a long fall—such as combat drop from a transport—rather than leap into the air and begin powered flight.
- Type 5 Pressure Helmet - Elysian Drop Troops are equipped with these specially crafted helmets, which come with built-in respirators and breathing apparatuses intended for low-oxygen, high-altitude drops or for deployment in hostile environments like the vacuum of space or on worlds with toxic atmospheres.
- Micro-bead - A Micro-bead or Comm-bead is a short-range radio wave communication device worn in the ear, good for communication out to about one kilometre (depending on weather conditions and 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 increase the amount of light waves hitting the retina of the eye, which enhances low-light vision to that point that even on the darkest nights its users can see almost as well as in full daylight.
- Combat Knife - 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.
- 3 Frag Grenades - Frag Grenades use a combustible charge and special fillers of shrapnel fragments to fill a given circumference with deadly shards that prove to be a potent anti-personnel weapon. 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 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.
- Mark IV Combat Backpack - This combat backpack is comprised of durable metal composites and contains the soldier's air supply, Vox-caster, and any other vital supplies like rations and water. This piece of equipment was designed to be used in conjunction with the Type 5 pressure helmets.
- Vox-caster - A Vox-caster is a standard and reliable radio wave communication device used to transmit over long distances, including to and from orbiting vessels. This allows communications with other Imperial personnel who possess Vox-casters. A Vox-caster's standard range is 100 kilometres, though better crafted variants exist that have longer ranges.
- Elysian Imperial Guard Uniform
- Poor Weather Gear
- Basic Toolkit
- Mess Kit & Water Canteen
- 4 weeks' Rations
- Survival Suit - When working in harsh and extreme planetary weather conditions, survival suits are a must for Imperial Guard personnel. No matter if it is too hot or too cold, the suit can maintain proper body temperature and hydration via its excellent insulation capabilities. Using the differential between body temperature and outside temperature to drive thermoelectric power cells, the suit also has reclamation systems for turning sweat into drinking water. Most survival suits come complete with a hood, as well as goggles to protect the head and face. While it does not protect forever, for medium duration emergencies it can help sustain life until a rescue.
- Blanket & 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
- 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.
All Drop Troops are armed with Mark IV Accatran Pattern Lasguns with a standard issue of five power cells. Grenades are issued in a more ad hoc fashion and can be provided to the Grenade Launcher as needed. Elysian Drop Troopers generally deploy in a 10-trooper squad formation that includes 9 troops and 1 Sergeant with one trooper carrying a special weapon. Among the special weapons available to Elysian Drop Troops are:
- Mark IX Accatran Pattern Mortar - An automatic Mortar with pre-loaded five round drum that is capable of a high rate of fire.
- Mark Vd Accatran Pattern Heavy Bolter
- Mark II Accatran Pattern Missile Launcher
- Mark VIII Accatran Pattern Melta Gun
- Mark II Accatran Pattern Plasma Gun
- Mark IVe Accatran Pattern Modified Sniper Lasgun
- Mark Ic Accatran Pattern Flamer - This Flamer's Promethium canisters are worn on the back.
Vehicles and Equipment
The Elysian Drop Troops Regiments are known for their rapid deployment capabilities using Airborne Troop Carriers called Valkyries, and they deploy from these aircraft by rappelling or making use of Grav-Chutes at high altitudes.
Elysian Drop Troopers are able to strike deep into enemy territory, and so are unable to field any heavy ground vehicles during missions. While this may be the case, the Elysians do make use of a number of light vehicles including the Tauros rapid assault vehicle, the modified Drop Sentinel, Cyclops Demolition Vehicle, and Sentry Gun batteries.
The Elysians make use of Valkyries, Vulture Gunships, and the support of the Imperial Navy to make up for their lack of heavy armour. Using their Valkyries and Grav-Chutes, the Elysians can capture objectives rapidly by dint of overwhelming force and their close-range firepower.
Elysian Drop Troop regiments often rely on demo-charges and special weapons for tank-busting. Vultures, Valkyries and Imperial Navy aircraft pack fearsome amounts of firepower, and swooping over the battlefield they can target just about anything.
Tactical flexibility is the Elysians' true advantage over most other forces, and there are few tactical situations, other than a drawn-out planetary siege, that the Elysians cannot counter quickly and effectively.
The Elysian Drop Troops are a very specialised force. Being drop troops, Elysians lack many of the heavy weapons needed to defeat the enemies heaviest equipment and vehicles. As their primary armaments are simple Lasguns Elysian Drop Troops cannot afford to sit back and engage in prolonged firefights with an enemy either.
Elysian Drop Troops do not engage the enemy in a conventional stand-up fight. Instead, they seek to take objectives by rapid, hard-hitting attacks and then hold them with grim determination and the selective targetting of enemy threats.
Casualties will often be high for Elysian Regiments as a result of this strategy, but that is the price Drop Troop Regiments pay for their extreme mobility.
Notable Elysian Drop Troops Regiments
- 1st Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - This Elysian Regiment is a part of Ultima Segmentum's strategic reserve of Imperial Guard Regiments waiting for rapid deployment against any emerging threat to the Imperium. The vaunted 1st Elysian Regiment has a long and glorious tradition, having fought in the Emperor's cause across the galaxy; including having fought against heretic rebellions around the Eye of Terror, the Orks of WAAAGH! Urgok and Eldar pirates in the Barbarius Sector.
- 9th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Participated in the Veridian Prime Campaign, against the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Kraken.
- 12th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Fought in the Third War for Armageddon.
- 13th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment, "Helldivers" - The Elysian 13th Drop Troops have gained something of a heroic reputation amongst the regiments of the Spinward Front, having emerged from seemingly impossible odds on multiple occasions. Dubbed the "Helldivers" for their tendency to descend upon the enemy from above and leave destruction in their wake, the Elysian 13th are the subject of overblown tales and flights of fancy amongst the masses. The Departmento Munitorum has only encouraged this tendency, reporting whenever possible the victories of the 13th publicly, along with those of the other Imperial Guard regiments whose exploits will bolster morale. The truth is, as always, both more and less than the fictions wrought from it. Colonel Johanna van Meer, the regiment’s commander, is daring, optimistic, courageous, and more than a little vainglorious. Her fervour for the glory of battle has seen the Elysian 13th deployed to the deadliest of conflicts and the most challenging of missions, succeeding at any cost, and to great acclaim. The Helldivers have suffered great casualties over the years, and only a handful of companies of their original ten thousand warriors still remain, though each is a veteran of many battles. Only on one occasion have the Helldivers been reinforced with the remnants of another regiment. After the failed invasion of Avitohol, they bolstered their diminishing numbers with the remains of the Elysian 227th Drop Troops, though subsequent campaigns have reduced their numbers further.
- 15th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Participated in the Yarant II Campaign.
- 16th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Participated in the defence of Cadia during the 13th Black Crusade.
- 22nd Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Participated in the Yarant III Campaign, the Skopios Incident and the Cathalin Crusade.
- 23rd Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - The 23rd Regiment formed part of the Imperial Taros Expeditionary Force to combat Tau aggression which had seen those duplicitous aliens seize that mineral-rich mining world. The regiment's part of the campaign was codenamed "Operation Comet" aimed at capturing and holding the planet's largest water processing plant. The 23rd Regiment also took part in the assault on Fort Moros and were awarded a regimental citation for their actions. During the desert battles of the Taros Campaign the 23rd Elysian Regiment was wiped out in the battle for Hydro-Processing Plant 23-20 by Tau forces during Operation Comet when they were surrounded and cut off three days after initially capturing the plant.
- 41st Elysian Drop Troops Regiment, the "Angel Guard" - Participated in the 13th Black Crusade.
- 158th, 101st, and 16th Elysian Drop Troops Regiments - All of these Elysian Regiments participated jointly in the 13th Black Crusade.
- 64th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - The 64th Elysian Regiment was wiped out during the Ill-fated Fifth Ymgarl Insertion.
- 72nd Elysian Storm Troopers - Destroyed in combat against the Word Bearers Traitor Legion on Tanakreg.
- 89th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Fought an Ork WAAAGH! on Elysia itself during an Ork assault.
- 99th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment/Detachment D-99 - Fought against the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Kraken; the 99th Regiment made repeated combat drops in the defence of the Imperial planets of Moloch, Hamman's World and Moran. The survivors, a single, over-strength company, were amalgamated into the small Imperial Guard unit designated Detachment D-99 and seconded to the forces of the Inquisition by Lord Inquisitor Varius. Subsequently, Detachment D-99 served during the Inquisition's mission to Beta Anphelion IV to investigate a Tyranid outbreak at a secret Adeptus Mechanicus xenological research facility.
- 101st Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Participated in the 13th Black Crusade.
- 110th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Defeated the Ocanan XV Traitor Guard Regiment.
- 133rd Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - Destroyed in combat against the Word Bearers Traitor Legion on Tanakreg.
- 158th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - During the massive Chaos invasion of the 13th Black Crusade, the 158th Elysian Regiment was sent to reinforce the defenders if St. Josmane's Hope in the Cadia System. The regiment's arrival proved insufficient to stem the tide of the Chaos force's advance. The 158th was almost destroyed in heavy fighting before St. Josmane's Hope itself was destroyed to prevent it from falling into the enemy's hands.
- 181st Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - This regiment was diverted from the defence of the Forsarr Sector against the encroachment of the Ork WAAAGH! Garaghak to assist the Raven Guard Space Marines in a raid against the Orks' manufacturing base on the world of Kastorel-Novem. The regiment was all but annihilated in the attack.
- 234th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - During the 12th Black Crusade, the 234th Elysian led a suicidal boarding action that resulted in the destruction of the Hades-class Heavy Crusier Injustice. The regiment was posthumously awarded commendations for their role in the vessel's destruction.
- 226th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - The 226th Elysians were en route to the Yarant System when they were diverted by General Myndoras Odon's request for aid in the defence of Betalis III.
- 227th Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - The remains of the 227th Elysians were absorbed by the 13th Elysians after the failed invasion of Avitohol.
- 352nd Elysian Drop Troops Regiment - The 352nd Elysian was part of a massive deployment of drop regiments that included the 998th Harakoni Warhawks, the 142nd Etharic Seraphs, and Militarum Tempestus regiments including the 12th Thetoid Condors and 1st Zetic Harriers, to Extremis Six after the massacre of its population by Lucius the Eternal and warbands of Emperor's Children and the Traitor Titan Legion "Riotous Host" in the days just before the fall of Cadia to the 13th Black Crusade. Unconfirmed reports indicate the drop regiments encountered a giant serpent-bodied creature that annihilated anything deployed against it. The description fits the known form of the Daemon Primarch Fulgrim, indicating that the Daemon Primarchs may be taking to the field for the first time since the Horus Heresy ended.
Notable Elysian Drop Troopers
- General Syckava - Commanding Officer of the 23rd Elysian Drop Troops Regiment.
- Brigadier-General Ishmael Havorn
- Colonel Johanna van Meer - Colonel Johanna van Meer, the commander of the "Helldivers", the 13th Elysian Drop Troop Regiment, is daring, optimistic, courageous, and more than a little vainglorious. Her fervour for the glory of battle has seen the Elysian 13th deployed to the deadliest of conflicts and the most challenging of missions, succeeding at any cost, and to great acclaim.
- Major Durra - Commanding Officer of Detachment D-99 during the Inquisition's campaign on Beta Anphelion IV.
- Captain Gerek - Commander of A Company, 181st Elysian Drop Troops Regiment. Captain Gerek leads the company from his command Tauros.
- Captain Thanstadt - Commander of Shield Force, 181st Elysian Drop Troops Regiment.
- Captain Xhyst - Commander of Sword Force, 181st Elysian Drop Troops Regiment.
- Codex: Astra Militarum (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), "Regiments of Distinction - Elysian Drop Troops"
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pp. 9, 21, 23-24, 27
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 64
- Codex: Militarum Tempestus (6th Edition), pg. 30
- Gathering Storm - Part III - Fracture of Biel-Tan (7th Edition), pg. 84
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign, pp. 112, 264, 274-279
- Imperial Armour Volume Four - The Anphelion Project, pp. 26, 136-137
- Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid on Kastorel-Novem, pp. 10, 89, 94-103
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pp. 98, 100-101
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 48-49
- Dark Apostle (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds, pp. 101, 105-106, 155
- Third War for Armageddon Worldwide Campaign - Forces Disposition, Imperial Forces: Elysian Drop Troops
- White Dwarf 251 (US), "The Final Days of Armageddon"
- White Dwarf 248 (US), "Historical Actions of the Imperial Guard"
- Scions of Elysia (Audio Drama) by Chris Dows (Cover Image)