How much does a Guardsman get paid?

By Toadek, in Only War Game Masters

So the Only War system works off of Logistics, acquiring equipment is a matter of being able to requisition it from the Munitorium. The book also says that because they get all their gear from the Munitorium that they cannot expect to receive special compensation for their services. However, in a lot of lore there is reference to guardsman having wages that they use for gambling, alcohol, etc. It is also mentioned that most regiments have a group of followers that are families, merchants, and such. My idea was to have my players be paid wages so that during the time they spend aboard ships traveling in space they could mingle with their group of followers and buy goods, gamble, or engage in some entrepreneurship if they happen to acquire some rare commodities. Also it would allow them options to trade, gamble, and bond with other regiments that they're serving with. Having their wages be determined by rank would encourage them to try and gain promotions and interact more with the planets that they fight on. My question is, how much and how often would the normal trooper get paid,what about a commissar or a sergeant?

One of the Dark Heresy supplements said that a lower hive manufactorum worker on Scintilla would make 25-30 thrones a month ... Soooo, since IG have all their needs met but are in fact in mortal danger at all times perhaps it matches up?

Dark heresy core book says that guardsman income is 50 thrones per month

This is once again one of those topics where it is important to keep in mind that there can be no single "true" answer, on the simple basis that 40k does not have a "uniform canon" . This means that, ultimately, we have to choose for ourselves what to accept in our version of the setting. You will find one book that says one thing, and another that says something else.

However, topics such as these can still make for fun discussions where we simply throw around our various takes on the subject, treating them as simple suggestions for optional adoption. :)

My two shells:

They're not actually getting any monthly wage. This is in part due to the Imperium not even having a universal currency (making trade between its worlds, including the Imperial tithe, function by barter), and in part because there is no ongoing connection between a warzone and the regiment's homeworld - unless you simply remove the setting's take on and communications and the significant delays involved. Some of the Imperium's worlds may not even have a currency anyways, either because their economy is not sufficiently advanced (Feral worlds) or because its people opted for a different form of economy (like the Inca Empire with its mixture of communism and barter).

As such, payment poses a problem: On one hand, there are no steady supply lines from the regiment's homeworld to the troops it raised, especially as they may eventually end up on the other end of the Imperium over the course of their campaign. On the other hand, the troop transport also cannot just load up on enough cash to pay the regiment over its entire existence, as we may be talking about decades of service. Not only would this require a lot of space better used for munitions, it could also be a severe blow to the planet's economy much harsher than the actual tithe in men.

Of course, technically the planet in question could "just print" the additional cash and consider it irrelevant for its own economy, as it will never be used to actually buy anything from the locals, so it will have no effect on inflation. However, this of course creates the problem that the soldiers would then "invade" another planet's economy with off-world money, generating inflation.

However, why should any vendor actually accept this money? Why would, say, a merchant on Necromunda accept Calixis Thrones from a Guardsman, knowing full well that they cannot be exchanged for local currency on the basis of a monetary exchange between a million worlds using astropathic communications being all but impossible?

But here is an idea I've got from a novel by James Swallow: Imperial Scrip .

It was just a minor detail in the book, but these two words were enough to inspire me to come up with a sort of compromise between the two extremes of "no pay at all" and the contemporary real life model of payment. The author did not go into too much detail, but from how it was given out and judging by its title, this might actually qualify as an "ersatz currency" for specialised, limited use throughout the Imperium, reserved for use by those few men and women who actually travel between worlds and thus are the only ones who would ever need different coin, and limited in application by nature of its use.

The concept of "scrip" has real life meaning - and for a full explanation I'd recommend to head over to the relevant wikipedia article . The idea I eventually ran with took the form of vouchers for specific services, given out to Guardsmen on the rare occasion that they would get some R&R. The soldiers could be given scrip for various basic needs such as food and lodging, and local merchants would be required by Imperial decree to provide the bearer with these goods in exchange for the voucher. As you can see, this is less about wages but rather a form of "pocket money" to go with a few days of vacation.

The merchant who has been paid in scrip then has the option of exchanging the scrip for local currency at an Administratum office, either in the Guard's regional headquarters or (if present) the Governor's Palace. Needless to say, this would be quite a trip, but I imagine that (1) the Imperium does not care and (2) it would just be a matter of time until specialised brokers would pop up who buy up scrip at significantly lower prices and make a profit by handling the exchange.

The Administratum clerk who has exchanged the voucher for local currency then keeps track of all such transactions, which will ultimately be offset against the planet's next Imperial tithe.

Just like in real life, this form of scrip could also be used for bartering or betting inside the regiment, and there could be a black market where soldiers trade with the aforementioned brokers to get direct access to local currency for more "specialised" transactions that might not be officially condoned by the regiment's leadership.

The potential advantages of such a system are obvious: It ties into the existing tithe system, it is independent from any interstellar supply lines or communications, it is completely independent from any form of fluctuating exchange rates and the economy (the price of the goods may change, but the scrip voucher's value remains consistent, as it will still be good for whatever product or service it says), and, with exception of a possible black market, it allows the regiment to maintain a degree of control over what its soldiers do in their spare time. Together with the soldiers being fed and cared for by the Munitorum, it could be just enough remuneration to maintain morale for a warrior who will never see their homeworld again.

Speaking of homes -- in addition to the Imperial Scrip as a form of "pocket money" for R&R, I also like the idea of land grants . The codices mention that veteran regiments who have served and survived for more than ten years are usually transformed into armies of conquest and sent on campaigns with the intent of bringing the Emperor's light to new worlds. Should such a regiment be successful, its soldiers are granted rights to parcels of land, with the officer class becoming the new nobility, and the common soldiers joining the planet's new middle class.

Few regiments may survive as long in the bloody wars that ravage across the stars, but either way such a glimmer of hope could be a powerful motivator for many veterans, as it may well be all they can look forward to.

Edited by Lynata

Lynata your idea is great i think i will use it too. For now i used golden thorne like currency similar to credits. They were universal in most civilized planets and respected by administratorium and admech even in this less civilized since i didn't have any better idea. I think that "scrip" idea is much better.

My suggestion is that they would be paid in regimental "scrip" that could be used within the unit and (at an approved exchange rate) at approved locations on-planet. How much is up to you. From a narrativist perspective, you can get interesting stories out of this -- the locals might be suspicious of the money or even refuse to accept it, or perhaps it's used within the regiment as part of its black market.

For now i used golden thorne like currency similar to credits. They were universal in most civilized planets and respected by administratorium and admech even in this less civilized since i didn't have any better idea.

Yeah, most people here have gotten used to Thrones since they were the established currency of the Calixis sector in 1st edition Dark Heresy. I'd argue that even this is already quite a feat given the aforementioned problems with maintaining monetary union under the given circumstances, but in DH, games are taking place across many different planets, and the creators of the game apparently felt a need to give players some type of currency so they could save up and buy equipment, D&D-style.

This aspect of the game got dropped when FFG took over and created Rogue Trader, as from there on the games would use various special mechanics such as Profit Factor, Renown or Logistics instead of a pool-o'-coins. Coincidentally: does DH2 mention anywhere what sort of currency they use in DH2's Askellon Sector?

As for other currencies, I recall Necromunda having "Guilder Credits", and the DH1 supplement Inquisitor's Handbook mentioned that trade in Gunmetal Hive would use bullets (a bit like how cocoa beans were used for trade in the Aztec Empire). It's fun how so much history of the real world can make for unique and interesting planetary quirks in fictional settings, too. :)

Anyways, I'm glad you like my idea! Once again, props to James Swallow for inspiring me here. ;)

DH2 switches equipment purchases into Influence checks against items, basically using the same system as Only War regimental logistics, except this uses your/your Inquisitor's influence.

Edited by Euthan

DH2 switches equipment purchases into Influence checks against items, basically using the same system as Only War regimental logistics, except this uses your/your Inquisitor's influence.

Oh yeah, that I have seen - I was just wondering if any sort of currency was mentioned as part of the sector's or individual planets' background. I suppose it doesn't matter given the new way to acquire items, but it's always nice to know such things for narrative reasons.

Then again, fairly easy to make them up on the spot, too. ;)

I use Thrones in my games, to allow soldiers to buy items, from local traders which I use other books such as dark heresy's items to supplement there gear, since the requisition system can be some what brutal if one is unlucky in dice rolls.

For A Base private I normally issue 50 thrones per month, and increase it with 10 throne increments per rank, So private first class is paid 60 , ext ext.

To be honest just pay them what ever you like, to my understanding, most planets use there own currency anyway. For example the Regiment that my group created currency is all based of trade, since there planet is post apocalyptic. So instead of ruling leaders being born on the world, it's who is the best barter. I still pay them thrones, but mostly they try to trade for stuff... or beat up drug dealers.

A good idea for a Campaign, would be the Imperium trying to force a planet to adopt the Imperial throne gelt ,as the standard currency, and the planet is having none of it, and have revolted with the guard being sent in to stamp down the revolt.

I kind of like that this came up, as there are always "little things" in 40K that I know must pop up, from time to time, but I never totally figure out how. People have to reproduce in 40K, but I always read about it like "people are born near the station their ancestors have manned for years. They will grow up learning that station, work it all their lives, and eventually die, hopefully after having their own children, who can continue the task." So, being it's the Imperium, they work roughly 20 hour days, with 3 hours sleep, and the leftover for meals, etc, seven days a week, until they croak. When do they find time to have children? Who raises children? Hive cities have huge populations, put to making various things. Do they have bars? Do people have any free time to go sit, talk, "be people", or is it all work work work? People need rest, but the Imperium is well known for not treating its own as "people"; they are parts of an unthinking machine, or another resource to be spent, lent, and used up as the high and mighty see fit. If they do have time down, what do they do? What do they spend for it? There are ganger groups in the Underhives? Why aren't they working? With a horde of Arbites I often think of like Commissars, why aren't these "criminals" blatantly shot as a problem? If you "run a shop", where does your stuff come from? Who buys it? All the little minutia that we have here, because our world works differently, and i don't know how the grimdark future has it done, when one writer even mentions it.

Venkelos the longer someone think about this the more unrealistic the setting becomes :D In my games i try to tone down some things since imperium described as it is wopuld collapse thousand of years ago. I think that they have bars, they have free time but imperial propaganda just describe things differently. I try to paint imperium as a medieval space fantasy where most people are peasants, there are some middle class people mostly craftsmans and nobles.

Anyway it raises more questions what do arbitres do in free time? Do people marry? Can you buy land? How merchants ship are paid for their services? Who buys it if most poeple are slave workers? Why even use money if you have slaves and imperium provides anything you need as a loyal servant? Seriously the more i think about this i see even more holes in setting than before :D

It helps to look at the real world -- a lot of stuff in 40k is inspired by it, not just in the military aspect but civilian life, too. If you wonder whether a civilisation in which people are having such ridiculously long work shifts and little time or money for entertainment is feasible ... yes, yes it is, because sadly we've already been there.

Change a few words and that could be right out of some 40k rulebook's fluff section. Of course, just like in the real world, these people would have some spare time left, but then you've got to consider that they don't have a lot of money to spend, and that they still have to go to church, too.

It's also important to keep in mind that this still differs from planet to planet, of course. Not every Imperial world is a Hive. Other planets will be Feudal and more reminiscent of the Dark Ages, yet others possibly even Feral and more akin to a cyberpunk version of the Bronze Age, depending on just how much technology found its way onto the planet. I would think it is safe to say that no planet would offer the comforts of our modern day western culture, however, because as much as we can still improve, we've come a very long way in overcoming the factors that are responsible for the horrific living conditions in 40k, and should count ourselves lucky to have been born today and not a century or two earlier.

As for Hive gangs -- if you look at the Necromunda rulebook, security patrols regularly descend into the Underhive to simply waltz through a sector and shoot anything with a gun, but just like in the real world, they are fighting a losing battle because they just don't have enough manpower to truly stamp out crime and corruption.

Not to mention that these gangs are usually affiliated with the noble houses. *coughs*

Do people marry? Can you buy land? How merchants ship are paid for their services? Who buys it if most poeple are slave workers? Why even use money if you have slaves and imperium provides anything you need as a loyal servant?

- depends on the planet and its culture + local laws

- depends on the planet and whether you've got the money

- by local merchants or the government

- most planets exist in feudalism, and a serf isn't the same as a slave (see medieval Europe)

- generally, only the nobility and various Imperial organisations can afford to retain slaves (see Ancient Rome)

- the Imperium provides nothing to some random commoner on some random planet; not everyone is an Adept

What holes? :D

Edited by Lynata

Lynata you da best :P

I just assumed that when someone serves in the guard their family is set up but they are paid nothing

I'm skirting this issue in my campaign: my campaign the city is basically in ruins and most citizens have been 'conscripted' into the guard, not as soldiers but as orderlies: large amounts of the population has been moved into the camp, the women wash uniforms the men dig trenches or are trained for the pdf (the imperium be sexist..) the children are messengers and such. but scrips sound like a really good idea.

Edited by RonFarster

I just assumed that when someone serves in the guard their family is set up but they are paid nothing

That works too! It'd be a local thing, but I can absolutely see a government paying "compensation" to families for taking away someone who would have otherwise helped their folk tend to the fields or labour in their workshop, or even just bring home a couple coins from long, low-paying shifts in a manufactorium.

This actually reminds me of an opposite approach where the Guardsmen are considered payment for the government -- meet the Jopall Indentured Squadrons !

"On their homeworld, the Jopall owe their government money as soon as they are born. Taking up valuable resources throughout their childhood, they incur a debt that they cannot repay until adolescence. Most citizens of Jopall spend the majority of their adult lives working off the debts they incur during the first part of their lives. There are ways around this punishing system, however; the citizen can either borrow money from the local Lord, or they can work off the debt to the government by joining the Jopall Indentured Squadrons."

(the imperium be sexist..)

The Imperium isn't sexist - but individual member worlds can be. There are planets with mixed conscription (Cadia) just as ones who recruit only men (Vostroya) or only women (Xenan VII) into the regiments they raise. Of course, there is nothing wrong with your chosen world falling into the 2nd category; I'm just adding this for the sake of completion.

It may be mostly just me, of course, but one of my problems is seeing things like a real-world battle. Take a fight in the Civil War, for instance. A few miles from the battlefield, there are farms, where some of the people are still living, and trying to get by, while a war is on. A few soldiers, form either side, might straggle in, and ask for help, or just take who/what they want. Cities will be besieged, while their terrified people might be secured in bunkers, bomb shelters, and what have you. So much of my 40K experience is the table top game, though, where there are no other people. It's always like a stage in Starcraft, where you fight as your race, against the enemy, on a desolate world. I always find it hard to remember that some battleground worlds in 40k have villages, towns, cities, and what have you, maybe even hives, and any of these are going to have "regular" people, but since my take of 40K is so stark, based on fluff I've read, where there don't have street-filled towns, with people shopping, off-work people drinking in the tavern, drifters and pickpockets in alleys, and all, I always miss the images of cities near battles, and civilians living their lives, next to it. In my world, I don't see too many people being paid; they what is thought necessary/deserved, and nothing more. They live to serve, and offed if they don't, because there is always more to replace them. I'm just glad that my view isn't necessarily correct.

That's a good point. Codex-material actually mentions this from time to time (with Cityfight there was even an entire supplement devoted to urban combat), but it rarely gets mentioned in short stories or novels, which may twist a reader's perception away from such obvious aspects of warfare.

I actually consider Pillaging a normal part of Munitorum doctrine - it's how the Imperial Guard can operate with next to no logistics. In today's military, about 2/3 of an army's is not the fighting force but support personnel, a stark contrast to warfare in earlier eras, and (or so I believe) to 40k. Purely going by codex background, an Imperial Guard regiment is 100% fighting forces, but accompanied by wagon trains (where they also keep the kids until they are old enough to follow their fathers/mothers into battle) and forcing local populations into slave labour (the Imperial Guard invasion of Fenris in M36).

I don't think I've ever explicitly read about Guardsmen looting food, but if they are looting people it sounds like a good guess, and it would fit perfectly to the IG often feeling as if it seeks to emulate the Napoleonic Wars.

Besides, given the nature of Warp travel I'd certainly not rely on a constant food supply by regular starship visits.

Edited by Lynata

Thing with Cityfight, though, is that, like everything else, it doesn't feel like there are other people there; you're just traipsing through, bombed out, abandoned buildings, blowing up the enemy street by street. If the enemy isn't other Imperium, I imagine those poor bastards are already dead, if not fled (Chaos needs sacrifices, Nids biomass, Eldar delays, Tau might've "moved them out" for their safety?) If the Cityfight rules had stuff for battling in inhabited cities, like finding little caches of stuff, or people being as scouts for your force, maybe, but yeah, the cities seem as empty as the fields, the rivers, and the everything else.

Yeah, iirc at most you'd get a mention of the local clerics who take up arms to defend the temple. After all, the Imperial Creed is a warrior cult.

That being said ...

"As you will have been made aware, we struck Warlord Rukglum's army as it moved position from shelling the mining outpost Gaius Point to occupy the settlement. Battered by three days' bombardment, the population of Gaius Point had dug underground and, under the careful ministrations of my Sisters Superior, were determined to form an ad hoc militia to defend their homes."

-- report from Canoness Carmina

"As you are no doubt aware, this camp currently houses over 12,000 refugees from the destroyed hive and nearly 1,000 members of the Adeptus Ministorum. I was therefore horrified when the Whirlwind anti-personnel tanks of the Marines Malevolent opened fire on the Orks while they were still within the camp's perimeter. High explosive rockets turned the refugee camp into a storm of shrapnel and when we launched our counter-attack, I saw horrendous collateral damage amongst the camp's population."

-- report from Colonel Celestine

"The carnage at Tempestora East Factory Complex has shown the inhabitants of Armageddon Primus what fate could befall Tempestora, as the entire complex has been overtaken by Ork overlords surging from the Ork Rok to the south. The factory workers are still being forced to work under the cruel whips of their new Greenskin masters, but now the toil of Tempestora East's workers is resulting in new battlewagons and crude mockeries of Imperial tanks being fielded against the Morpheon line. The citizens are forced to fight amongst themselves for food, and disease is rife. Luckily, morale has not been completely broken within the factory complex, and a good deal of the vehicles the Orks are demanding are either riddled with flaws or else the ammunition is booby-trapped to explode on the field of battle."

"The citizens of Infernus were forced to endure terrible privations during the siege, including constant bombardments from orbiting space hulks and the lumbering Gargants of Ghazghkull's horde. As the shelling relented, countless hordes of Greenskins streamed down from the Diablo mountains. Time and again the green tide smashed against the walls of Infernus, only to break and flow back before reforming and attacking again. With Yarrick as their saviour the citizens of Infernus were undaunted. Old men, women and children took up arms against the invaders, dragged ammunition to the redoubts and bunkers across the front lines, endured the bombing and strafing of Fighta-Bommerz as they toiled to dig secondary trench lines. Hive gang militias fought against Orks with equal ferocity, selling their lives to protect their homes. To the south-west, the Stygian Bulwark groaned under the pressure of countless warbands braving its guns and minefields to link up with the feral Ork tribes swarming out of the equatorial jungles to overrun the Infernus south forge complex."

"The controversy at the Emperor's Deliverance Refugee Camp, where the Marines Malevolent bombarded the attacking Orks regardless of the fact their fire was taking a horrific toll on the refugees inside, has been described as 'acceptable losses' by Captain Vinyard of the Marines Malevolent, but condemned as 'ruthless inhumanity' by Colonel Destrier Celestine of the Armageddon Command Guard. This callous strategy, inimical to the Adeptus Ministorum stationed there, was later shown to be symptomatic of the Marines Malevolent's attitude to human life. Former residents of Hades Hive with broken families and shattered homes were treated like cattle by those supposedly protecting them. Reports of unprecedented beatings and pleas for aid ignored abound in the shanty towns surrounding Hades, and morale is low. Vinyard himself is on record as having spat at the feet of Colonel Celestine when he voiced his objections to the thousands of civilian deaths caused by the Marines Malevolent's modus operandi."

-- all taken from GW's Armageddon 3 material

Edited by Lynata

The Space Marine game's audiologs (the ones you find in the campaign) also illustrate what happens to civilians in an Ork invasion, for example.

They were hunted down and killed for sport by the orks, and that's basically why everything you pass through is deserted save for enemies (and in parts, the Imperial Guard are present).

In "The Imperial Infantryman's Handbook" released by the Black Library, GW's in-house fiction publisher (novels, audiobooks and the like) there is a reference to an "Imperial Credit Unit" (ICU) on page 28. This credit unit works the same as the aforementioned "Imperial Scrip", and is intended for use on worlds that are not completly within the Imperium's sphere of infulence, but are on the way to being so.

How it works:

  1. A regiment requisitions supplies (food, water, fuel, arms and ammo) from the planet's Imperial Commander (IC)
  2. for a prevously decided amount of ICUs (could be as low as one ICU, or as many ICUs as there are stars in the sky) the goods must be transferred to the regiment, with all due haste, and down to the last drop, or else the IC gets :commissared:
  3. any ICUs "spent" in this way are "recorded for addition to the planet's next tithe and will be claimed back by the Imperial Office of Outlays."

In the instance for my Penal Regiment, they don't get paid and probably never will.

However, this does not stop them from bartering with Lho sticks, Alcohol, Drugs, Contraband etc...

I'm sure that they will want to trade in some goods for a currency, which I will allow if they figure out a way to keep it hush hush, but if they are wanting to purchase goods in this way, I will turn to the DH or RT books. Other than that they have what is requisitioned to them and whatever they want to keep hidden from the Commissars.

Needs more Gothic.

Each scrip is a small rectangle of everplastic. One side has a colorful & uplifting picture of an Imperial saint, and the details of what the scrip is good for. The other side is blank, or has some IG symbol. Assuming you don't die in the meatgrinder, you can pretty easily get enough to make a deck of cards. For scrip that's been spent, Command gets it back by every so often the Comissars sweep the camp followers. They take the spent scrip and exchange it for some amount of guard-confiscated food or some other surplus materiel.

Even the Imperium knows troopers need a little R&R before being sent back to the trenches.