- "In all things do we take the example of Saint Drusus, who the Emperor saw fit to return from death to continue service in His name. We endure hardships, as Drusus did. We show no mercy, as Drusus did. We drive back the darkness beyond His realm, as Drusus did."
- — Verse III of the Janissary’s Oath
The Maccabian Janissaries are an elite Astra Militarum regiment united by their zealous faith in the God-Emperor and composed of the finest members of the Maccabian militia who follow in the footsteps of their great patron, the Imperial Saint Drusus. These regiments hail from the blessed world of Maccabeus Quintus, the arid and bitterly cold Shrine World located in the Calixis Sector, where the great General Drusus fell and was raised up as a saint by the glory of the Emperor during the Angevin Crusade which conquered the Calixis Sector for the Imperium.
This harsh world is not blessed because of the resources it possesses (which are few), or because of the climate (which is harsh), but because of the faith that grows there in abundance. A site of pilgrimage for the faithful across the Calixis Sector, this Shrine World has a significant military tradition all its own. These pilgrims form the core of the Maccabian militias, the finest of which are chosen to become Maccabian Janissaries. Like Saint Drusus, they defend or expand the Imperium in battle, which is regarded as the most pious form of worship of the God-Emperor. To date, none have refused this honour, for all are driven by faith and the spirit of pilgrimage. They know that to become a Janissary is to embark upon a sacred pilgrimage of a different sort, carrying the Emperor's wrath to dark and distant places.
While it is rare for an Imperial Guardsman to ever return to his homeworld, Janissaries never do so -- they press on to ever more distant warzones and die fighting on countless distant worlds. Even those who are demobilised at campaign's end will often find themselves on other pilgrim trails in other parts of the Imperium, guarding the faithful from the predations of the Heretic and the alien.
Janissary regiments are extraordinarily well-equipped, clad in finely-wrought Flak Armour adorned with silvered masks in the image of Saint Drusus, and are capable marksmen, well-trained at fighting in carefully-orchestrated formations, often literally battling shoulder-to-shoulder in serried ranks, unleashing volleys of accurate laser fire into enemy units. Units of Maccabian Janissaries commonly stand at the heart of a battle line, their faith and their equipment allowing them to hold out against enemy attack when others might falter. Since they are united by faith, rather than common heritage, the Maccabian Janissaries have few ties to the world they are named for, and tend to volunteer for deployments that place them at the forefront of an Imperial campaign, pushing deep into enemy territory, viewing every engagement as another step along their militant pilgrimage.
A world of vast, dry, salt flats, dust-laden winds, and harsh, chill sun; the fifth planet of the unforgiving Maccabeus System is nevertheless a blessed place. Blessed not because of the resources it is gifted with (which are few), or because of the climate (which is harsh), but because of the faith, for this is the place where a great man fell and was raised up as a saint by the glory of the Emperor.
The chronicles of the Angevin Crusade tell that General Drusus, commanding the Trailward Salient of the Crusade, had pushed towards the Halo Stars, hoping to carve out a stable Imperial domain in what had been a fraught and bitter decade of war, when a sudden and vicious resurgence of hostilities in the region around Spectoris, at his rear, caused his advance to shudder to a halt. The order to mass and regroup was given. The planet chosen for this gathering was an uninhabited world in the obscure Maccabeus System, and as Drusus’ forces gathered, the general himself prayed to the God-Emperor for guidance, knowing that a wrong choice could jeopardise the fate of the whole Crusade.
Disaster struck, as, employing unholy methods, his enemies discovered Drusus’ location and unleashed a deadly assassin against him. Drusus fell, but even as the killing blow was struck did the power of the Emperor rend apart the assassin and spare the great man. After ten days and nights in shadow did Drusus return, and the light of the Emperor was within him. In the years that followed, Drusus knew not defeat; one by one his enemies fell, and from the ashes of his conquest, the Calixis Sector was born. In the centuries following the Crusade, Drusus was declared a Saint of the Imperial Cult, for his miraculous return and subsequent triumph, and the site of his miracle was declared a Shrine World of the Adeptus Ministorum.
To this day, Maccabeus Quintus is a site of pilgrimage for the faithful across the Calixis Sector, and is the heart of the Drusian Cult within the sector’s Ecclesiarchy. The world’s harsh and unforgiving landscape is walked by countless pilgrims every year, many of whom spend the remainder of their lives there, giving themselves to the devotion of the Emperor.
Unlike many Shrine Worlds, Maccabeus Quintus has a significant military tradition all its own. Following in the footsteps of their patron, discipline and endurance are regarded as the greatest of virtues, and to defend or expand the Imperium in battle is regarded as the most pious form of worship. With the sheer number of pilgrims arriving on-world each year, a considerable population of the Imperial devout exists on Maccabeus Quintus, which in turn provides an ample and diverse supply of potential candidates to the Maccabian militias, the world's Planetary Defence Force, the finest of which are chosen to join the Maccabian Janissaries. To date, none have refused this honour, for all are driven by faith and the spirit of pilgrimage, and to become a Janissary is to embark upon a pilgrimage of a different sort, carrying the Emperor’s Wrath to dark and distant places. As noted, while it is rare for an Imperial Guardsman ever to return to his homeworld, Janissaries never do so -- they press on to ever more distant warzones and die fighting on countless distant worlds. Even those who are demobilised at campaign’s end will often find themselves on other pilgrim trails in other parts of the Imperium, guarding the faithful from the predations of the Heretic and the alien.
The Spinward Front
During the early days of strife within the Periphery Sub-sector, twelve regiments of Maccabian Janissaries were duty-bound to accompany Missionaries voyaging there, to ensure that the population remained loyal and faithful. Stationed within what would become the Spinward Front, when the Ork invasion came, the Maccabian Janissaries were already on the front lines, fending off numerous Dark Eldar raids across the Periphery, and would then form the core of the Imperial Guard force that was mustered to defend the region.
The subsequent betrayal of the Imperium by Duke Severus XIII of Kulth when he proceeded to create the Severan Dominate and secede from the Emperor's dominion was taken by the Janissary regiments as a particular affront against their patron saint Drusus, inspiring greater levels of fervour in the Maccabians. Almost immediately, Cardinals Hestor and Fortis began calling for a War of Faith to cleanse the Periphery of the Apostate and the Heretic, so that it could be repopulated by the true and the pure. While their zeal was to be commended, more practical minds won out; between the Margin Crusade's increasing demands and the war effort already present in the Periphery, the military capabilities of the Calixis Sector were already stretched to the breaking point, and little more could be drawn from Segmentum Obscurus reserves or neighbouring sectors.
Nonetheless, Maccabeus Quintus continued to recruit soldiers and raise regiments, whipping the pilgrims who journeyed to that Ecclesiarchy Shrine World into a frenzy of devotion and purgation and doubling the number of regiments mustered, pledging every new regiment to the Spinward Front. At present, the Maccabian Janissaries form the fourth largest contingent of Calixis-born Imperial Guardsmen in the Periphery, overshadowed only by large musters from the populous Hive Worlds of Scintilla, Malfi, and Bront, and given the perpetual influx of new pilgrims to Maccabeus Quintus, it seems unlikely that this recruitment rate will dwindle any time soon.
Maccabian Janissary regiments are extraordinarily well-equipped, clad in finely-wrought Flak Armour adorned with silvered masks in the image of Saint Drusus, and are capable marksmen, well-trained at fighting in carefully orchestrated formations, often literally battling shoulder-to-shoulder in serried ranks, unleashing volleys of accurate fire into enemy units. Units of Maccabian Janissaries commonly stand at the heart of a battle line, their faith and their equipment allowing them to hold out against enemy attack when others might falter. Being united by faith, rather than common heritage, the Maccabian Janissaries have few ties to the world they are named for, and tend to volunteer for deployments that place them at the forefront, pushing deep into enemy territory, viewing every engagement as another step along their militant pilgrimage.
A standard Maccabian Guardsmen will be outfitted with the following wargear:
- M36 Pattern Lasgun - Produced in a multitude of different styles and patterns, the Lasgun can be found in use on almost every world of the Imperium. The M36 Pattern is one of the most ubiquitous patterns of Lasgun in use by the Imperial Guard, and has long been the standard weapon issued to the troops of the Maccabian Jannisary regiments.
- 4 Lasgun Charge Packs - Charge packs are powerful batteries used almost exclusively by Imperial laser weapons. The cost of a charge pack varies depending on the class of the weapon. In all cases, it provides shots equal to the weapon's full clip value.
- 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.
- Maccabian Jannisaries Imperial Guard Uniform
- 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.
- 2 Frag Grenades - Frag Grenades use a combustible charge and special fillers of shrapnel fragments. 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 composed of powerful shaped and concentrated explosives designed to punch holes in armoured targets such as vehicles or bunkers. While stronger than Frag Grenades in explosive power, Krak detonations do not produce a blast effect and their more focused blast wave makes them less practical for use as an anti-personnel weapon.
- Poor Weather Gear
- Basic Toolkit
- Mess Kit & Water Canteen
- 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
- The 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.
- 2 Weeks' Rations
- 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.
- Respirator - A simple breathing mask that covers the nose and mouth or entire face, these offer much better protection than filtration plugs.
- Purity Seals - As fanatical devotees of the Imperial Cult, it is common for Guardsmen of the Maccabian Janissaries to affix Purity Seals blessed by an Ecclesiarchy priest to their uniforms and armour.
Notable Maccabian Janissary Regiments
- 37th Maccabian Janissaries - The 37th Maccabian Janissaries were part of the second wave of Imperial troops assigned to the world of Virbius in the Spinward Front, and they took heavy losses from the guerrilla tactics employed by the Severan Dominate (and Dark Eldar) forces at the beginning of the conflict, as well as losing a key detachment to the world's fierce lightning storms. Already a grim bunch, soon the morale of the 37th Janissaries took a dark turn, as they were unable to strike a telling blow against the Dominate forces. The 37th also had trouble adapting their regiment from acting as defensive light infantry into a fully mobile assault force, an absolute necessity for fighting on Virbius. The Janissaries believe that their lack of success in battle was due do to a greater lack of devotion amongst the Imperial forces already present on Virbius, and so they actively sought for signs of heresy and other transgressions against the God-Emperor within the ranks of the Imperial Guard.
- 1322nd Macabbian Janissaries - The Maccabian 1322nd is on its last legs, having fought on the front lines now for over a decade. Like those who came before them, and those who shall come after, the 1322nd hold no illusions about returning to Maccabeus Quintus, and unfettered by thoughts of home, they have endeavoured to be at the forefront of battle whenever the opportunity has arisen. Particularly driven to oppose Traitors and Heretics, the 1322nd have come to relish battle against Severan Dominate and Chaos forces, and are currently embroiled in the multi-front battles that have engulfed the resource-rich Karacallia System. The 1322nd are currently led by Major Gwendolin Tsavice, who has commanded the regiment for the last two standard years, since the assassination of Colonel Richter Kamask by a Dominate kill-squad. Not entirely prepared for command, and haunted by the sudden and malicious demise of her former commanding officer, Tsavice has become deeply paranoid, her faith fuelling her caution by making her doubt the zeal of those around her. Her chief advisor, Commissar Kristoffer Novek, has encouraged this righteous scrutiny, and the two officers have worked hard to instill a proper sense of wary circumspection in the remaining men and women of the 1322nd.
Notable Maccabian Janissaries
- Lord General Militant Ghanzorik - Lord General Ganzorik is the current commander of all of the Imperial forces fighting on the Calixis Sector's Spinward Front. Ghanzorik is the most dogged of leaders, and those serving beneath him hold him in a mixture of respect and fear. Most know that he will do anything to fulfil his duty to the Emperor, but that this includes sacrificing countless numbers of his own troops should he deem it necessary. Not for nothing is Ghanzorik known by many on the front line as "Old Steel and Blood," a title the dour old general is said to secretly revel in. As the supreme commander of the Imperium’s military forces on the Spinward Front, General Ghanzorik is an officer with a fearsome reputation, as much amongst his own staff as his enemies. He was commissioned into the 61st Maccabian Janissaries in 775.M41, and in 780.M41 his regiment was dispatched through the Jericho-Maw Warp Gate to serve in the hellish war zones of the Jericho Reach. Over two standard decades, Ghanzorik proved himself an able leader, his regiment primarily engaged in prosecuting the wars of the Achilus Crusade's Orpheus Salient. Of the sights he witnessed during those bloody years, Ghanzorik rarely speaks, but he is known to have sustained a number of grievous wounds while commanding his troops from the very front. Upon receiving one such wound that almost proved fatal, Ghanzorik was informed of his ascension to the Imperial General Staff and, while he initially protested what he saw as the loss of his regiment, he soon found himself commanding entire Army Groups, where his courage, tactical skill, and determination found an entirely new expression. With the secession of the Severan Dominate and the establishment of the Spinward Front, Ghanzorik was raised up still higher, granted the title of Lord Marshal (Lord General Militant) and given the grave responsibility of repulsing an Ork invasion, putting down a pernicious rebellion, and bringing order to a region of space long known for its lawlessness. Ghanzorik soon earned his nickname, committing countless troops to the Relief of Kulth. Yet, despite his initial success in holding the Orks at the Periphery Sub-sector’s capital world, Ghanzorik appears to be operating with one hand tied behind his back. The situation in the Spinward Front is dire indeed, and seemingly warrants far more military resources than have been assigned to it. While the most highly placed in the Calixis Sector’s military authorities understand there is a grave need to send forces through the Jericho-Maw Warp Gate and to use the Spinward Front as a cover for the high levels of recruitment, others believe that a deliberate policy exists to ensure that the Severan Dominate and the Orks of WAAAGH! Grimtoof grind each other to mutual destruction. How complicit “Old Steel and Blood” might be in such a conspiracy, none can say, nor can they predict how he might react if he himself discovers the truth.
- Colonel Raxe Garn - Colonel Garn is the grim commander of the 37th Maccabian Janissaries. In his 40 standard years of service to the Imperial Guard, he has seen combat on dozens of worlds and faced down all manner of terrifying threats, from horrifying xenos abominations to innumerable throngs of recidivists and Traitors. He has come out victorious against overwhelming odds and held his own as teetering millions battled around him again and again.
As their name implies, the Maccabian Janissaries were more than likely inspired by the real-world Ottoman Empire's Janissaries (Turkish: "new soldier" or "Yeniçeri"). They were the elite infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan's household troops and bodyguards. They began as a corps of slaves made up of conscripted Christian boys, and became famed for the internal cohesion cemented by strict discipline and order. Unlike typical Ottoman slaves, they were paid regular salaries. Forbidden to marry or engage in trade, their complete loyalty to the sultan was expected. By 1620, they represented a hereditary and corrupt caste within the Ottoman government and were an impediment to its reform. The Janissaries were ultimately disbanded during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, in 1826, which enabled the Ottoman Empire to enact crucial modernisation reforms in almost every area.
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 50-51
- Only War: The Game Master's Kit (RPG), pg. 7