WH40k ranks

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dragon
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WH40k ranks

Post by dragon » 2009-02-15 10:11am

I am reading Gaunt's Last Command and have some question on the ranks.

They mention the Warmaster since 1 really famous warmaster was a traitor do they pay extra close attention to the new ones?
They mention that Colonel Wilder is a company comander yet he is directing around mutiple companies in the field. They mention a major that is the Marshal second. Gaunt was a colonel yet he had a regiment. It seems like theres almost no order to the rank structure.

Also for the Commisart there are the junior, full there is the Commisar General what other ranks are there in the Comissart. Especially when the one Commisar kills a field officer even after the Marshal said he was free to go.
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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by Brother-Captain Gaius » 2009-02-15 10:16am

The Guard varies wildly. There is very little standardization between units. Furthermore, given the brutal nature of most 40k conflicts, things get pretty jumbled in the field pretty quickly, so it isn't surprising to have officers in unusual positions.

Also, the Commissariat is a separate organization, so they have their own organizational structure that has no relation to the Guard. They are the final word when it comes to discipline in the Guard and have the full authority to mete out summary executions as they see fit, trumping even superior officers.
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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by Black Admiral » 2009-02-15 10:32am

It's entirely possible for a Colonel to be a company commander as well as a regimental one; in the British Army as of the American Revolutionary War, three of the ten companies in a line battalion were Field Officer's Companies, that is, nominally commanded by a regiment's Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Major instead of by Captains. Given that the IG does borrow a fair bit from all over the place, I don't find that being the case in some units at all surprising.

And IIRC it's been noted somewhere that the Imperium prefers not to use the title "Warmaster", given its, ah, unfortunate historical implications.
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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by Darth Hoth » 2009-02-15 11:56am

It varies; sometimes Warmaster is used, sometimes not, depending on what is "politically correct" in the current millennium. The Gaunt novels do use the title for the commander of the Sabbath Crusade.

Guard ranks vary wildly; there is a basic table given in the Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer, if I recall correctly also in the IG Codex, that the Ghosts appear to follow reasonably well.
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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by Bedlam » 2009-02-15 12:24pm

dragon wrote:They mention the Warmaster since 1 really famous warmaster was a traitor do they pay extra close attention to the new ones?
It seems that the role and power of the original Warmaster and 'current' warmasters are quite different. Horus's role seemed to by commander in chief of the imperiums military although the chain of command does not seem as strong as it is in a modern military, partually due to communication dificulties.

'Modern' Warmasters although often commanding multiple armies, fleets, etc do not have the same scale of control as Horus had. They seem to be given a single (admitedly, very large) combat theatre and told to deal with it as best they can, the theatre can either by a single highly important planet (I think one of the Armageddon wars was over seen by a warmaster) or a section of the Galaxy (The sabbat worlds crusade whcih seems to be tasked with reclaiming Dozens to possible low hundreds of worlds).

Given the structure of the Imperium 'current' warmasters have large parts of their forces that they cannot directly order, for space marines, Adeptus Mechanicus, sisters of battle, etc they have to ask for support rather than ordering them.

However, I'm sure any individual with such power is very much under scrutiny by groups such as the comisat, the eclesiarcy and the Inquisition.

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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by open_sketchbook » 2009-02-15 01:27pm

Warmasters are basically the Imperium's way of uniting their hugely varied military forces under one banner when the shit hits the fan. With the countless billions of people in their officer corps, they can pretty much count on finding an Alexander the Great style strategic genius when things get ugly and giving him the broad power he needs to get the job done, be it on a single world or a campaign across sectors. That way, they make sure that said command power never stagnates, as it's directly tied to the success of a campaign. Warmasters aren't necessary in "normal" Imperial operation, as their role basically to provide a leader with enough power to see a campaign through without it getting bogged down in inter-departmental red tape.
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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by Lord Revan » 2009-02-16 12:50pm

yeah basically a warmaster anwsers to the Emperor alone (in matters conserning the crusade he/she was appointed to), ofc it's not quite that simple, but that's the idea of a "warmaster" or whatever then choose to call that position and Bedlam I might be mistaken but the way it's described in the 3rd edition guard codex it seem the difference between Warmaster Horus and the warmasters after him if that post-Horus warmasters cannot command the Space Marines (they anwser to no one but the emperor) and that the position is for limited time only.

also there's also a warmaster only when shit hits the fan (with more force then normal that is) and not during times that are considered "normal" by the standards of the Imperium.
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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2009-02-16 01:29pm

Warmasters I believe were mentioned in the Codex Imperialis as the highest possible mi litary rank. They're basically a rank employed only in the direst of necessities (or for political reasons - such as carrying out a large scale Crusade) because a Warmaster literally has (If I remember correctly) CArte Blanche to do what is needed to protect the Imperium. The unreliable nature of Warp communication and the problems with Warp travel can mean that coordination/administration over long distances is nigh-impossible, so the Imperium has to make do with delegating authority.

As I also recall, there is generally only one Warmaster at a time, precisely because of the power they wield. Its also quite likely they stick one (or more) Assassins with the "current" Warmaster (as well as the usual safeguards like Commissars and whatnot) to ensure he doesn't cause trouble. (Hell, knowing the High Lords, they probably would execute a Warmaster AFTER a crisis simply to eliminate a potential threat.)

Mind you, the power in practice seems highly variable. Macaroth and Slaydo as Warmaster was far more limited in scope than Horus was. I vaguely recall in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade book that the Warmaster's purpose and duties nd powers are lined out in official documentation when he is elevated to Warmaster (much like a Rogue Trader's Charter.) And while in theory they could "command" all forces under the Banner of the Imperium (The Navigators, the Astarrtes, teh AdMech, etc.) there is still need to negotiate, since many of those forces are only allies and largely independent (the AdMech and Astartes in particular.) Slaydo had to do alot of bargaining to get those two groups to work wiht him as I recall.

really a Warmaster is just the military equivalen tof a really high-end Rogue Trader or a powerful Inquisitor, they can wield alot of potential power, but they're not totally "immune" if certain forces/organizations tried to stop them (eg the Inquisition.) The only organizations in the Imperium I think that are TRULY unregulated and truly dangerous are the Assassin's temples and MAYBE the AdMech. Hell as I remember it its even been noted in really early sources if the Assassins go bad they could topple the Imperium.

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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by Serafina » 2009-02-16 01:36pm

Well, a warmaster can command all forces the empire has.

Problem is, a lot of organisations LIKE their independence. While a Space Marine, formally, has to answer to a warmaster (being a subordinate to the emperor and the warmaster being an emissary of the emperor), he will possibly not do so.

But basically, its all about politics. Ignoring a warmaster is a BAD idea, as he has direct backup from the senators of terra. Of course, he is not invulnerable, if he overstretches his power, he may very well loose his job (or head).

Its similar to Inquisitors: While they can command every resource of the Empire, you can file a complain to the Inquisiton. If you are important enough, and the Inquisitor lacks good reasons, he is in trouble.
Its the same for a warmaster, but warmasters are at least an order of magnitude more powerfull than even an Grand Inquisitor.

If a warmaster says "i need this and that to fulfill my job", he will get it. But if he does notable operations that are not part of his job, or fails, he loses his powers.
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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by open_sketchbook » 2009-02-16 01:51pm

Exactly. It's all about maintaining a balance between the power to get stuff done and the fail safes to protect the Imperium. A Warmaster is only ever appointed when the threat to the Imperium outweighs the potential threat of putting so much power in one persons hands, and even then they are cautious. Interal strife is as big a threat to the Imperium as external incursion, if not more a threat.
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Re: WH40k ranks

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2009-02-16 06:32pm

Oberst Tharnow wrote:Well, a warmaster can command all forces the empire has.
In theory. He's got to have the muscle, or charisma, or something to back it up as a rule. This is true of many branches of the Imperium, in fact, including the Inquisition. Hell, a sufficiently powerful or influential Rogue Trader can potentially match an Inquisitor or Warmaster for power.
Problem is, a lot of organisations LIKE their independence. While a Space Marine, formally, has to answer to a warmaster (being a subordinate to the emperor and the warmaster being an emissary of the emperor), he will possibly not do so.
Agreed.
But basically, its all about politics. Ignoring a warmaster is a BAD idea, as he has direct backup from the senators of terra. Of course, he is not invulnerable, if he overstretches his power, he may very well loose his job (or head).
While in theory he has the backing of the High Lords, its also true that the High Lords are way way off on Terra - which is usually goign to be many thousands (or tens of thousands) of light years from wherever the Warmaster is. So the Warmaster really only has as much power as he can, effectively, "take and hold" from others.
Its similar to Inquisitors: While they can command every resource of the Empire, you can file a complain to the Inquisiton. If you are important enough, and the Inquisitor lacks good reasons, he is in trouble.
Its the same for a warmaster, but warmasters are at least an order of magnitude more powerfull than even an Grand Inquisitor.
Actually, while the whole "representative of the Emperor" thing shoudl in theory make an Inquisitor all powerful, many ORganizations can and will tell an Inquisitor to take a flying fuck unless he's powerful/charasmatic/useful or any combination thereof. The "decetralizeD/scattered" n ature of the Imperium can make enforcement difficult, unless the Inquisitor has access to his (or the Inquisition as a whole's) resrouce base. There are eaxmples of this in the novels, for example.
If a warmaster says "i need this and that to fulfill my job", he will get it. But if he does notable operations that are not part of his job, or fails, he loses his powers.
Again, in theory. In practicee many of the organizations in the Imperium won't just "sit up and answer" - often you need to provide additional incentive (Warmaster Slaydo, for example, having to negotiate/charm the AdMech into joining his Crusade and bringing in Titans.) Its all well and good to say "Faith in the Emperor" holds the Imperium together (And it does, to a certain extent) but self interest and greed often tend to be just as important if not moreso.

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