"At three hundred yards! Volley fire, present! Aim! Fire!"
- — Captain Gliene, acting commander XXIVth Praetorian Guard, Battle at Big Toof River
The Praetorian Guard regiments of the Astra Militarum are raised from the world of Praetoria. Praetoria is a heavily populated Hive World that lies in a star system close to the Imperial segmentum naval base at Bakka in the Segmentum Tempestus.
The overpopulated hive cities of Praetoria are renowned for their squalor and degradation, and produce some of the toughest gangers on any of the Hive Worlds in the Imperium.
This vast population works as little more than slave-labour in the huge manufactoria complexes of Praetoria, producing the goods that have made the planet (and its rulers) among the richest in the Imperium of Man, with a huge fleet of merchant voidcraft that trade all over the segmentum and beyond.
- Massacre at Big Toof River (987.M41) - When an ancient Space Hulk entered the Montar System, in Segmentum Tempestus, little notice was taken in its passing, that is, until it disgorged a massive Ork WAAAGH! led by the mighty Greenskin Warlord Bullgarg in a massive assault on the desolate world of Montar VII. Claiming it for his own, Bullgarg was determined to conquer every world within the Montar System and carve out his own Ork empire. The Ork landing did not go unnoticed, and soon the Planetary Governor Kinwa on Montar Prime urgently requested aid to deal with the Orks before they spread mayhem and destruction throughout the star system. Although preliminary reports indicated that the Ork tribe was of no great strength, Lord Kinwa simply did not have the forces to deal with them. The total human and Abhuman population of the entire Montar System numbered less than 700, and Lord Kinwa's Planetary Defence Force consisted of an under-strength platoon with only 3 heavy weapons and no armoured vehicles! Fortunately for Lord Kinwa, his appeal for help was received and acted upon very quickly, perhaps too quickly as things turned out. The Montar System lies in the Segmentum Tempestus close to the planet of Tallarn. Imperial Guard forces in this sector were under the control of Lord Commander Sherdan, who had recently completed a successful campaign against a renegade Aeldari pirate fleet. The campaign had been a long and bloody one, a running battle fought in half a dozen different star systems and on more than 30 worlds, which had ended with the destruction of the Aeldari renegades by the Imperial Navy. Reports of this final battle were coming in when Sherdan received the news of the Ork invasion of Montar VII, and it may be that his elation over the victory against the renegade Aeldari clouded his judgement about how he would deal with Warlord Bullgarg. Whatever the reason, Sherdan trusted the preliminary reconnaissance reports and decided to dispatch a small force to deal with the Orks as quickly as possible. The troops that he sent were the veterans of the campaign against the Drukhari, the XXIVth Praetorian Guard. The Praetorian XXIVth had lived up well to the traditions of the fighting reputation of their homeworld, but had suffered very heavy casualties in so doing. Of the 1,500 troops that had left Praetoria, only about 300 now remained. More importantly, all of the regiment's senior officers had been killed. The most senior officer left alive, and acting commander of the regiment, was 21-year-old Captain Gliene of C Company. To overcome these deficiencies for the campaign against Warlord Bullgarg, the XXIVth was hastily reinforced with the survivors of the 135th Tallarn Desert Raiders Regiment, which had been all but destroyed in the battles against the Aeldari renegades. Crucially, the commander of the Tallarns, Colonel Al' Ter-Ay, was put in overall command of the reinforced Praetorian XXIVth, even though the bulk of the troops in the regiment were Praetorians. It was a command structure that was to have disastrous consequences for the regiment. The XXIVth was dispatched immediately to Montar VII with orders from Lord Sherdan to act quickly to eliminate the Ork threat to the system. Information was still sketchy about the size and strength of the Ork tribe, but the common consensus was that they were fairly few in numbers, and lacking in any heavy support in the form of Gargants or Battle Fortresses. Ork Blood Axes mercenaries, hired as scouts by the regiment during the campaign, confirmed that although they had never actually met Warlord Bullgarg, the Imperials had nothing to worry about, for Bullgarg was considered a minor threat. Within an hour of first spotting a massive Ork camp, every single member of Forces Kaz-Ter and Force Gliene, with the exception of one of Company C's Blood Axe mercenaries, was dead. Warlord Bullgarg went on to found a successful Ork empire in the Montar System, but then disappeared along with most of his followers on board an Ork Space Hulk. It was assumed that the craft was destroyed in the Warp, but no one can be certain. Lord Sherdan recovered from the setback and went on to reconquer the Montar System from the Orks that had remained after Bullgarg had left. In the forefront of the campaign was the newly raised XXIVth Praetorian Guard.
Astra Militarum regiments raised on Praetoria are renowned for their iron discipline and bravery, even in the face of the most overwhelming odds. They detest slovenliness and disorder and even in the midst of the fiercest battle will ensure their ranks are correctly dressed in parade ground fashion and have their uniforms smartly fastened.
The planetary lords of Praetoria hold it is only through fearsome training and draconian punishments for the most minor infringements that the hive-toughened inhabitants of their planet can be made to follow orders and do as they are told as part of a highly-regimented military unit.
Whatever one's views on the training methods used, they seem to work, producing troops that are as ferocious on the attack as they are determined to hold the line in defence.
Regimental Combat Doctrine
The Praetorian Guard's regiments fight in a similar way to the regiments of the Mordian Iron Guard, presenting perfectly formed firing lines and unleashing precisely timed volleys of las-fire, despite the chaos of battle around them.
The Praetorian Guard are known for their incredible discipline, and will not break from the line under almost any conditions, displaying a fortitude that is near superhuman when compared to other Imperial Guard regiments.
The following is a list of the wargear traditionally available to a standard Praetorian Guard trooper:
- M36 Pattern Lasgun - The M36 Pattern Lasgun is one of the most ubiquitous Lasgun patterns available across the human-settled galaxy. It is produced in a multitude of different styles and patterns, and can be found on almost every world of the Imperium.
- 2 Charge Packs - Charge Packs are powerful capacitors used almost exclusively by Imperial laser weapons. The potency of a Charge Pack varies depending on the class of the weapon. In all cases, it provides shots equal to the weapon's full magazine value.
- Combat Knife - A one-handed melee weapon, the knife 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 specific purpose, whilst others are more generic in nature.
- 2 Frag Grenades - These explosives use a combustible charge and special fillers of shrapnel fragments to fill a given circumfrence with deadly shrapnel, making this grenade 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.
- 2 Krak Grenades - Krak explosives contain powerful concentrated explosives that have been shaped 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 for use as an anti-personnel weapon.
- Flak Vest - The most common type of armour in the galaxy is Flak Armour, as it is standard issue to the countless millions of Imperial Guardsmen. 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 better.
- Praetorian Guard Imperial Guard Uniform - The Praetorian Guard wears a distinctive uniform which typically consists of their trademark scarlet tunic with epaulettes and dark blue trousers with a vertical scarlet stripe on the outside leg.
- Pith Helmet - The infamous Praetorian Pith Helmet is worn as headgear by common troops and officers alike.
- Poor Weather Gear
- 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.
- Respirator - A simple breathing mask that covers the nose and mouth or entire face, these offer much better protection than filtration plugs and are used by Praetorian Guardsmen in toxic environments or during attacks by chemical or even biological weapons.
- Survival Kit
- Basic Toolkit
- Mess Kit & Water Canteen
- 2 weeks' Rations
- 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
- 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. The Primer is a basic guide to life in the Imperial Guard and the tactics employed by its regiments. Even elite Imperial troops like Kasrkin often times still rely on its advice.
Notable Praetorian Guard Regiments
- Vth Praetorian Guard - In 999.M41, the Praetorian V fought in the valiant defence of Cadia and its surrounding star systems during the 13th Black Crusade from the Forces of Chaos commanded by Abaddon the Despoiler.
- XXIVth Praetorian Guard - The Praetorian XXIVth was commanded by Captain Gleine and fought at the infamous battle known as the Massacre at Big Toof River, where they were wiped out to a man by a massive Ork WAAAGH!
- XXXVth Praetorian Guard - The Praetorian XXXVth alongside its sister regiment, also took part in the massive Imperial defence of the Cadian Gate during the 13th Black Crusade.
The Praetorian Guard were created for the "Massacre At Big Toof River" Mega Display which appeared at UK Gamesday '97 in 1997. The original models were created by Michael and Alan Perry and were based on the Mordian Iron Guard. Extreme interest in the new regiment led Games Workshop to release a Limited Edition Box Set which was later followed by a release of the unit in blisters.
Like many older models, the Praetorian Guard have since been removed from both production and Games Workshop's mail order and online catalogues, but are still widely available on the internet through second-hand sources.
The Praetorians were reasonably popular, largely due to the highly distinctive look of their armies and the sharp contrast between them and the dark, gothic Imperium around them.
The Praetorian Guard's distinctive look is based on the uniforms worn by the infantry of the British Army who most famously fought in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.
The Praetorian regiment name is derived from the home planet of Praetoria, which is inspired by the South African city of a similar name: Pretoria.
This regiment's name is also obviously inspired by the Praetorian Guard which served as the personal bodyguard of the Roman emperors from the time Caesar Augustus formally established the Roman Empire in 27 B.C. until they were disbanded by Constantine I in 312 A.D.
- Citadel Journal 36, "Doc Butcha's Conversion Klinik - Praetorian Conversions: Horse Mounted Cavalry & Horse Drawn Artillery ," pp. 89-96
- Citadel Journal 29, "Doc Butcha's Conversion Klinik - Praetorian Jeep," pp. 93-96
- The 13th Black Crusade (Background Book) by Andy Hoare, pg. 91
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 28
- UK Games Day '97 Program, "Massacre at Big Toof River"
- White Dwarf 243 (UK), "Slave Raid at Melfa River - Canada Games Day '99 Display," pp. 96-101
- White Dwarf 222 (UK), "Last Stand at Glazer's Creed," pp. 71-87
- White Dwarf 218 (UK), "Massacre at Big Toof River - UK Games Day '97 Display," pp. 66-71
- White Dwarf 39 (ES), July 1998
- Massacre At Big Toof River Mega Display