Penal Guard

Penal Guard troopers have little or no armour, and are lucky to be equipped with a functioning weapon.

The Penal Corps

Life in the densely populated worlds of the Orion-Cygnus Spur is, for the teeming masses, brutal, miserable and invariably short. The various stellar empires and myriad smaller celestial states exist in a perpetual state of war, with one another and with numerous external threats. The peoples of the core of each empire and state are divided into numerous, highly stratified classes, the vast majority belonging to what is by far the largest – the workers upon whose toil the empires are built and maintained. Life as a worker, regardless of empire or state, is highly regimented, and any who break the countless rules and regulations by which their lives are pre-ordained from birth are subject to the most brutal censure. One such punishment is consignment to a penal corps, huge formations of troops convicted in civilian life and doomed to serve as cannon fodder in the relentless wars of the stellar empires. Though in theory a convict trooper can serve out his sentence and return to his original life, in truth, few ever do. Those not slaughtered on the field of battle know they are not welcome back at home, and so renew their service, signing up in one of the regular regiments of their empire. A few become Overseers, dreaded officers who lead the criminals in battle.

Most of the stellar empires and celestial states utilise convict troops, and do so in broadly the same manner. Most clamp heavy restraints about the criminals’ necks, serving as a potent symbol of their status and sometimes housing tracking devices, stimulant injectors or other, still less humane mechanisms. Most penal troops are shaved bald and many bear additional symbols of their crimes such as facial tattoos marking the nature of their sentence. Some of the stellar empires clad their penal troops in uniforms that set them apart from other, regular units. Such convicts might wear garishly coloured or patterned uniforms to battle, drawing the enemy’s attention towards them and away from other units. Others dress their convicts in little more than filthy rags, further reminder of their status as the lowest of the low.

ART BY ROBIN CAREY

The Tannenburg Empire makes extensive use of convict troops, for it is such a strictly regulated society that punishment is ever a heartbeat away. A worker might easily earn himself a year in the Tannenburg penal corps simply for reporting to his place of work a minute late, or missing his production quota by a single percentile. Still more severe crimes include addressing a social superior with anything other than total deference, a sin for which he might expect to be sentenced to a decade or more in a penal unit, a punishment which is in effect a death sentence.

The Victorian Domains make use of penal troops as well. These are invariably made up of conquered populations who refuse to submit to the empress or her princesses stellar. The Victorian Domains are notoriously magnanimous to the conquered, welcoming them into their armies, but to those that refuse to do so they can be brutal in the extreme. Thus, Victorian penal units are invariably a diverse mix of peoples from a myriad of different cultures, all of them bitter and resentful of their new rulers and as such, highly unlikely to ever be released.

Other empires that make use of penal troops include the Svargan Autocracy, which is notorious for herding huge numbers of dissidents onto the guns of the enemy, and the Orlean Republic, which routinely convicts those of its own population who refuse to subscribe to their particular brand of enlightenment. The vast majority of the states of the Devine Confederacy field their own penal units, some as small as a single regiment, others many hundreds of thousands strong depending on the specifics of the state’s culture.

Regardless of which stellar empire or celestial state a convict trooper serves in, the manner in which he must fight is more or less pre-ordained. Most are poorly equipped, invariably carrying nothing more than a mass-produced, low-grade rifle or some combination of pistol and melee weapon. The Svargan Autocracy is notorious for under-equipping its convict troops, a policy designed to ensure the criminals fight all the harder to survive, even should this mean competing with their comrades for weapons and ammunition.

Whichever empire they fight for, few penal troops expect to return home and they know they are unlikely to ever be absolved of their sins. Combined with the drugs fed via collars and rations this only serves to embolden them in combat. The troopers of the penal corps are invariably psychotic madmen driven beyond the point of sanity and herded into battle by their brutal Overseers. These officers represent a rare phenomenon indeed – former convicts who have survived the horrors of their punishment and been commissioned into the armies of their empire. Now, these twisted individuals desire nothing more than to mete such punishments out upon the next generation of transgressors.


Penal Guard troopers have little or no armour, and are lucky to be equipped with a functioning weapon.

The Penal Corps

Life in the densely populated worlds of the Orion-Cygnus Spur is, for the teeming masses, brutal, miserable and invariably short. The various stellar empires and myriad smaller celestial states exist in a perpetual state of war, with one another and with numerous external threats. The peoples of the core of each empire and state are divided into numerous, highly stratified classes, the vast majority belonging to what is by far the largest – the workers upon whose toil the empires are built and maintained. Life as a worker, regardless of empire or state, is highly regimented, and any who break the countless rules and regulations by which their lives are pre-ordained from birth are subject to the most brutal censure. One such punishment is consignment to a penal corps, huge formations of troops convicted in civilian life and doomed to serve as cannon fodder in the relentless wars of the stellar empires. Though in theory a convict trooper can serve out his sentence and return to his original life, in truth, few ever do. Those not slaughtered on the field of battle know they are not welcome back at home, and so renew their service, signing up in one of the regular regiments of their empire. A few become Overseers, dreaded officers who lead the criminals in battle.

Most of the stellar empires and celestial states utilise convict troops, and do so in broadly the same manner. Most clamp heavy restraints about the criminals’ necks, serving as a potent symbol of their status and sometimes housing tracking devices, stimulant injectors or other, still less humane mechanisms. Most penal troops are shaved bald and many bear additional symbols of their crimes such as facial tattoos marking the nature of their sentence. Some of the stellar empires clad their penal troops in uniforms that set them apart from other, regular units. Such convicts might wear garishly coloured or patterned uniforms to battle, drawing the enemy’s attention towards them and away from other units. Others dress their convicts in little more than filthy rags, further reminder of their status as the lowest of the low.

ART BY ROBIN CAREY

The Tannenburg Empire makes extensive use of convict troops, for it is such a strictly regulated society that punishment is ever a heartbeat away. A worker might easily earn himself a year in the Tannenburg penal corps simply for reporting to his place of work a minute late, or missing his production quota by a single percentile. Still more severe crimes include addressing a social superior with anything other than total deference, a sin for which he might expect to be sentenced to a decade or more in a penal unit, a punishment which is in effect a death sentence.

The Victorian Domains make use of penal troops as well. These are invariably made up of conquered populations who refuse to submit to the empress or her princesses stellar. The Victorian Domains are notoriously magnanimous to the conquered, welcoming them into their armies, but to those that refuse to do so they can be brutal in the extreme. Thus, Victorian penal units are invariably a diverse mix of peoples from a myriad of different cultures, all of them bitter and resentful of their new rulers and as such, highly unlikely to ever be released.

Other empires that make use of penal troops include the Svargan Autocracy, which is notorious for herding huge numbers of dissidents onto the guns of the enemy, and the Orlean Republic, which routinely convicts those of its own population who refuse to subscribe to their particular brand of enlightenment. The vast majority of the states of the Devine Confederacy field their own penal units, some as small as a single regiment, others many hundreds of thousands strong depending on the specifics of the state’s culture.

Regardless of which stellar empire or celestial state a convict trooper serves in, the manner in which he must fight is more or less pre-ordained. Most are poorly equipped, invariably carrying nothing more than a mass-produced, low-grade rifle or some combination of pistol and melee weapon. The Svargan Autocracy is notorious for under-equipping its convict troops, a policy designed to ensure the criminals fight all the harder to survive, even should this mean competing with their comrades for weapons and ammunition.

Whichever empire they fight for, few penal troops expect to return home and they know they are unlikely to ever be absolved of their sins. Combined with the drugs fed via collars and rations this only serves to embolden them in combat. The troopers of the penal corps are invariably psychotic madmen driven beyond the point of sanity and herded into battle by their brutal Overseers. These officers represent a rare phenomenon indeed – former convicts who have survived the horrors of their punishment and been commissioned into the armies of their empire. Now, these twisted individuals desire nothing more than to mete such punishments out upon the next generation of transgressors.