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Fanfic / All Guardsmen Party

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"So no shit, there we were..."

There once was a gaming group with an evil GM who spent a weekend playing one of Warhammer 40,000's spin-off RPGs. They rolled up a Imperial Guard regiment, made some characters, and proceeded to suffer Total Party Kill after Total Party Kill, so much so that they were generating new characters in between rounds of combat. At the end of this brutal introductory campaign, the surviving fifty Guardsmen found their evac shuttle redirected to an unfamiliar spaceship, where some intimidating soldiers informed them that they were now working for the Inquisition.


In other words, a bunch of ragtag, trigger-happy grunts from an Only War campaign wound up playing Dark Heresy, a game ostensibly about clandestine efforts to thwart the enemies of mankind. Hilarity, and Awesome, Ensues.

This dramatized After-Action Report chronicles an All Guardsmen Party's adventures as they're loaned out to their boss' Interrogators like Pokémon to newbie Trainers, serving as Dumb Muscle and Cannon Fodder for the Inquisition's best and brightest (and worst, and dumbest). Despite all expectations, the Guardsmen keep rising to the challenge, dealing with intrigue and subterfuge the Imperial Guard way - which is to say, lots of shooting and explosives, and occasional activity of a legally-dubious nature. Whether the job is finding missing psykers, figuring out what's going on with a misbehaving Imperial Guard regiment, purchasing a new mission ship, training a new batch of agents, or acquiring a dangerous xenos specimen, the All Guardsmen Party will find a way to succeed, though not always in the way their bosses would expect or prefer.


The series can be read here on 1d4chan, or at the author's personal archive site.

Tropes experienced by the All Guardsmen Party include:

  • The Alleged Car: The second-hand Warp-ship known as the Occurrence Border. The first thing that the team noticed about it is that the entire bow was missing, and it only got worse from there. It does make it perfect as an Inquisition base though, since everyone assumes nobody of any importance would be caught dead in the thing.
    • The party also obtains and drives self-described "shitty vans" on three separate occasions.
  • And I Must Scream: The fate of the Chaos-worshipping interrogator in the aftermath of "Nubby's Girlfriend": To prevent her from escaping during the trip back to Professor Oak, Doc works with the transit ship's medical crew to install a shunt in her spinal cord, completely paralyzing her and leaving her only able to communicate by blinking in Morse code. After spending days like this in the company of Nubby, she is eventually shipped off to the Ordo Mallus to be interrogated.
  • Anyone Can Die: So far, at least three different Guardsmen have died, not counting other team members they've been assigned to.
    • This was especially prevalent in the prologue "Darwinian Character Creation", where the entire point of the game is that player characters die so suddenly and so often that the players spend the lull between turns quickly rolling up new characters. The main cast of TAGP is composed of the ragged handful of guardsmen who survived this process.
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  • Arc Villain: The female interrogator in "Nubby's Girlfriend".
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: One of the side-effects of the weapons from What's In The Box?, due to their wielders being infected with Orkoid mindsets.
  • Badass Crew: The Guardsmen as a whole.
  • Bad Boss: Most of the Interrogators qualify, some more than others. Sarge is finally persuaded to accept a promotion to Interrogator to keep the Guardsmen from any more bad bosses.
  • Band of Brothers: The Guardsmen certainly view themselves as this. The rest of their teams, not so much.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Frequently. Arguably the result of Sarge's promotion - sure, their superiors are no longer insane, but they have worse assignments now.
    It was the complete opposite of all the horribly complex ops we'd suffered through since joining the Inquisition: it was the ultimate simple, straightforward plan. If it wasn't for the fact that we'd be outnumbered thousands to one, we'd have loved it. As it was though, there's no word for how much we hated that plan.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The named Space Marines in Tyranid Acquisition Experts are named Rubram, Gravis, and Rebus - loosely translated from Latin into "Red", "Serious" and "Matters", or more colloquially, "Ruddy Serious Business".
    • With the expectation that the shuttle pilot would be used, he was named Tunicae - so that the Marines (Gravis and Rebus) meant "Serious Business", and the Scouts (Rubram and Tunicae) meant "Red Shirt."
  • Catch-Phrase: The page quote. Considering the situations the party gets into, starting every chapter with a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer is warranted.
  • Car Fu: Not even a Tau battlesuit can withstand a van full of Guardsmen ramming into it and pouring their entire arsenal into it at point-blank range.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The party uses every dirty trick in the book and arms themselves with potentially-heretical xenotech and illegally-procured weapons - but if it keeps them alive, they'll use it.
  • Comically Inept Healing: Due to the abnormal anatomy and physiology of Space Marines and the side-effects of Tyranid venom, Doc and Tink's attempts to administer first aid to Sergeant Gravis quickly devolves into this.
  • Cool Old Guy: The feisty elderly adept from Heretic Purging, who (among other things) gets the team and their weapons through a checkpoint by trying to seduce the guards.
  • The Corruption: The weapons produced by "the Box" slowly mutate their wielders into Orks. This is because it's a heretek manufactorum that uses servitorized orks as assembly line workers, and an ork psyker as its AI. Fortunately, once the Box is destroyed, everyone goes back to normal.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Lots of them when the Occurrence Border's questionable Gellar Field network starts to fail, including with the deceased Crisp, Heavy, and a few chaos cultists playing poker.
  • The Door Slams You: Two in rapid succession during Nubby's Girlfriend. A pair of arbites blow a door off its hinges and directly onto a stunned Sarge. They then proceed to address the rest of the team while standing directly on that door. Later, when Sarge gets the door off his back and raises it into position, a pair of bolter rounds slam into it, pitching him head-first into the wall and knocking him unconscious.
    • Sarge does it to a couple security guards during The Stealth Mission. First he hammers the door out of its frame and over a guard, then picks up the door and hurls it at another guard.
  • The Dreaded: Bane Johns, the one thing in the galaxy the party won't try and shoot.
  • Dwindling Party: The initially-thousands-strong regiment the characters are part of. It lost a third of its personnel in the first engagement, and over the course of four campaigns was whittled down to fifty men. A quarter of which were purged for genestealer infestation. According to Word of God they're now down to fifteen.
  • Fantastic Racism: Zig-Zagged. This being 40k, hating the Xeno is normal for everyone, but the exceptional circumstances of Inquisitional work lead to the party having much more interaction with aliens than they would otherwise tolerate. The entirety of The Greater Good takes place in an Imperium-Tau neutral zone and causes the party to nearly go on shooting sprees against the mixed population several times. In The Xenotech Heresy the party is forced into a fragile alliance with an Eldar and actually go out of their way to save an Earth Caste Tau who had been forced into the whole debacle. There's also a decent amount of this between the Mechanicus and the baseline crew of the Occurrence Border.
  • Famed In-Story: After the events of Greater Good the guardsmen become known as heroes among both the Tau and human populace. Although for them it is also the case of Your Approval Fills Me with Shame.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: The players aren't playing Only War anymore, they're playing Dark Heresy.
  • Femme Fatale: The female Interrogator in "Nubby's Girlfriend" betrays the team in the middle of a mission.
  • The Fool: Bane Johns, the squad's fifth Interrogator: despite what seems like a surfeit of confidence and a lack of strategic planning or common sense, every event in his mission seems to go his way without fail. Turns out he's a psyker with Reality Warper tendencies who can arrange probability to go in his favor - by siphoning his teammates' luck away.
  • Gambit Pileup: One of the reasons so many people died in the back story of the "The Interplanetary Man of Mystery" was because there were a half dozen factions running around trying to kill each other or obstructing each other's work.
  • Generic Name: Played for Laughs. The characters' former regiment was the Generian 99th Medium Infantry — listed in Munitorum records as GENER IC.
  • Going Native: The adventure in Tau space features a former Inquisitor who has adapted a number of Tau customs and is heavily hinted to be the villain behind it all. He remains loyal to the Imperium.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Twitch accuses Sergeant Gravis of being an Ork in disguise and Doc has him take off his helmet to prove he is human to the panicking Trooper. We never see it, but the scars on his face freak Tink out real bad.
  • Go Out with a Smile
    • Crisp laughs as his flamer tank is detonated, killing him and his squad's current nemesis.
    • Cutter revels in the joy of battle and good combat-drugs as his enemy self-destructs.
  • Groin Attack: Nubby's preferred method of melee combat. Especially effective after he's given augmetic legs.
    • Cutter does this too, though not always successfully as his targets sometimes have augmetics of their own.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be:
    • Nubby loses both legs to a swipe from a forcesword and has them replaced with augmetics.
    • Sergeant Gravis gets bisected through the lungs by a Hive Tyrant's bonesword. He survives.
    • A few enemies get this treatment including a Khonate mutant that gets bisected by Cutter as well as the Heretek that takes down Cutter when the latter beats him in melee.
  • Halfway Plot Switch:
    • Nubby's Girlfriend starts as a largely-espionage job that involves breaking up an entrenched genestealer cult before the authorities are forced to enact purges, until the party's current interrogator turns out to be a Chaos cultist trying to use the purges to trigger a daemonic ritual.
    • 'Good Soldiers, Bad Educators' spends its first two-thirds following the misadventures of the Party while they try to whip a bunch of hopeless Inquisition trainees into shape, while the final third switches tone abruptly when a Necron voidship suddenly crash-lands and threatens to summon an army to the lightly-defended planet, followed by the Iron Warriors warband who had shot it down in the first place.
  • Hand Puppet: How do you explain Imperial-Tau political intrigue to a crew of idiot guardsmen? With sock puppets!
    • This gets repeated when the squad doesn't understand the complex and varied philosophies of the Inquisition.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick:
    • The Guardsmen end up being this, due to usually being the only sane men, relatively speaking, to their Interrogators.
    • Alfred, the Rupert's batman. The Guardsmen instantly bond with him over this.
    • The Diplomacy Adept has this going for him as does an old female Adept they had for a previous mission. The former takes out a traitor that no one but him noticed and the latter could hide enough sidearms on her person for the entire team and she led a cleansing operation of the remaining members of a Nurgle cult.
  • I Call It "Vera": Tink first names his Tau stealth drone as "Hannah 2.0." Sarge makes him change the name to Spot.
  • Idiot Ball: Nubby takes firm possession of this during the Discount Spaceship chapter - it starts with buying the hunk of junk that is the Occurrence Border and escalates from there.
  • Implacable Man: The ex-Arbite traffic cop the party meets in Jack Hive is nearly impossible to shake and determined to ticket the party for the smallest infractions. He follows them between spires and into the Underhive, appears from nowhere whenever the party has a quiet moment, and papers their entire vehicle in tickets.
  • Killer Game Master: The GM has his players roll up hundreds of Player Characters in their first session, and kills off nearly all of them - only 37 survive. It gets so bad that the players have to quickly roll up new characters in-between turns. Not for nothing is he described as being "on the 'Hitler scale' of death measurement".
  • Medium Awareness: After the first chapter and a half, the origin of the series as a Dark Heresy campaign is generally ignored. But an occasional line is thrown in. For example, the narrator points out that fighting in vacuum and zero-G felt like the party had lost exactly 10% of their ballistic skills, and capitalizes the word "Obsession" (also a gaming term) while describing Aimy and Twitch.
  • Missing Steps Plan: During one particularly intense hilltop battle on a world being fought over by Orks and Tyranids, Sarge's plan to deal with a Hive Tyrant amounts to ordering the squad to "HANDLE IT!". invokedThe squad does not appear to be willing to permit him to live that down, and have in fact used the line verbatim on each other.
  • More Dakka: The Guardsmen are firm believers in solving problems by shooting them with extreme prejudice, and the more firepower they can bring to bear, the better. Heavy, Tink and Twitch are the usual suspects.
    Our 'experiments' had established that las fire and grenades didn't do much to the shield, but since we were guardsmen we felt sure that enough faith and firepower could solve anything. We set up positions around the shield and started continuously plinking las fire into it, because when you have a fusion reactor to recharge your cells from you might as well lay down some indiscriminate suppressive fire.
  • Mushroom Samba: One of the Occurrence Border's docking bays is covered in caustic, psychically-active warp fungus. Hallucinations ensue when a shuttle of Space Marines accidentally docks in it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Doc runs away from a Flyrant, letting Sergeant Gravis get bisected (two thirds of the Inquisitorial Council ruled in his favor saying that his continuous shooting was an attempt to distract the Flyrant), the DM makes a roll and decides that Doc got an obsession with keeping the Marine alive. This manifests in the story as Doc becoming utterly determined in keeping the Marine alive until he got full medical treatment. (Though he does eventually lose the Marine's legs.) Gravis lives long enough to get put into a Dreadnaught.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In Good Soldiers, Bad Educators, the Party acquires some assorted reading material for their trainees, and Doc gets hooked on The Spheres of Longing:
    He tried to get us to read this book about longing for balls by some famous old crippled inquisitor, but it was way too long and sounded like the diary of a perverted shut-in; so none of us could be bothered.
  • New Technology Is Evil: Averted, against the standard beliefs of the Imperium, as of The Greater Good. The party has started gathering and using Tau xenotech disguised with Imperial adornments. They've also tried and failed to steal from both the Eldar and the Necrons, both times being thwarted by an inability to understand the controls.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The result of sending a Knarloc to fight a Chaos servitor-Titan-techpriest. What's left of both fuses together, remains Chaos-possessed, and is significantly angrier at the Guardsmen.
    • Trading a Necron flyer to a Rogue Trader. Several worlds are cleansed of life by the Necrons chasing after the flyer, and a schism in the Mechanicus is threatened. And that's before the Hereteks get in on the madness.
  • Not Proven: The party is cleared of criminal incompetence in allowing their two Astartes handlers to be crushed by a Tyranid flyer and bisected by a Hive Tyrant, respectively by a Ordo Xenos tribunal. Two-thirds of it, anyway.
  • Oh, Crap!: At the end of Tyranid Delivery Experts, the team finally delivers their deadly cargo to it's destination. They are then promptly arrested by the Inquisition as renegades.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • The Guardsmen are all known only by their nicknames - Sarge, Doc, Heavy, Cutter, Nubby, Twitch, Tink. Eventually Sarge's name is revealed - it's Greg Sargent.
    • There's also one unnamed Interrogator, later an Inquisitor, who's only known as "the Rupert", and his batman, who is christened "Alfred" by the party.
    • And then the Inquisitor who's their boss, who's only referred to as Professor Oak. His real name is eventually revealed by the diplomacy adept to be Quercus, which means... Oak.
    • Averted by Aimy, whose name is eventually revealed to be a contraction of her Overly Long Name, Amelia Delorisista Amanita Trigestrata Zeldana Malifee von Humpeding.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Sarge is basically this for the Guardsmen.
    • The Guardsmen collectively are this for whatever random Interrogator they're assigned to.
  • Out-Gambitted: The party manages this against an Eldar Warlock when they stick a detpack to his spirit stone.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Tink sticks a bunch of grox skins and other assorted skulls on his tau drone to disguise it as a servoskull. The illustration near the end of "Xenotech Heresy" depicts it as having a human skull duct-taped on top, a human jaw hanging on wires below, and two scrolls; one saying "PLEASE IGNORE" and another saying "COMPLETELY NORMAL SERVITOR SKULL".
    • Later, after Sarge's lasgun is destroyed, Tink tries to disguise a Tau pulse carbine as a lasgun for Sarge.
    • Whenever the guardsmen try to wear disguises it's described as making them look exactly like guardsmen trying to wear disguises.
  • Plasma Cannon: Tink's weapon of choice. Also; some party members get Tau pulse rifles disguised as lasguns.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A Space Marine Scout informs the Guardsmen that a Tyranid Assault Flier is headed their way, expecting them to stand their ground and shoot it down like Space Marines would. Unfortunately, because he didn't say what to do, the Guardsmen naturally take cover and the Scout is taken out shortly after by said Flier.
  • Properly Paranoid: The guardsmen's paranoia has saved them a great many times. It's shown to great effect in The Xenotech Heresy: the Guardsmen's paranoia allows them to counter the machinations of the Eldar and Mechanicus.
    • After the events of Discount Spaceship, the party has a unanimous paranoid hatred of servitors, declaring them daemon-possessed spies at the drop of a bolter shell and commissioning Twitch to make overkill anti-servitor traps for their barracks. It turns out that the Mechanicus was indeed attempting to spy on the group with cleaning servitors during The Xenotech Heresy, only failing because the party killed them all with extreme prejudice.
    • Twitch, the explosives expert, is a full-on paranoid, especially when Orks are involved (as they triggered his paranoia in the first place). This gets to the point of having short-fuse grenades taped to the inside of a top-of-the-line security door, setting up redundant detonators, keeping shaped charges on his back-plate to keep people from sneaking up on him, and booby-trapping his own weapons (when Twitch says not to touch his stuff, it's for your safety). This would normally make him a bit too paranoid, but each time this comes up it saves the rest of the team.
      • According to Shoggy, the DM allows Twitch's player to roll for paranoia and leaks him spoilers based on how well he does, which the other players are only privy to through Twitch's in-character interpretation. Consequently, the revelations that the mystery box was "full of Orks" and the Tyrannid "ghosts" were caused by the comatose Zoanthrope becoming possessed by a Daemon resulted in "I told you so" moments.
  • Red Shirt: The guardsmen are typically grouped with several less combat-focused teammates. Most of them don't survive.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Reread "Heretic Purging" after finding out Crisp had joined a death cult and all of his behavior suddenly makes a lot more sense.
  • Right Behind Me: Tink goes on a rant about Sarge and the Inquisition; he is interrupted by Sarge's hand on his shoulder.
  • Security Cling: Aimy (part terrified of her team leader and part really happy to see the other Guardsmen) jumps into Sarge's arms when they meet again, and it takes some work to get her disentangled.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Two characters are shout-outs to the Discworld:
      • Nubby, the Guardsman who doesn't quite look human and steals everything not nailed down, is a blatant Expy of Nobby Nobbs.
      • Aimy, whose full name and nobility are borrowed from another Discworld character.
    • The warp-tainted, ramshackle free trader, the Occurrence Border, is one to Event Horizon.
    • The way the Interrogator's adepts die in "Nubby's Girlfriend" is a shoutout to Mission: Impossible.
    • Bane Johns, the suave, hard-partying and improbably-lucky superspy, is a Spoonerism for "James Bond". He's even strapped into a laser death trap by an Ork named Gol'fingy, and the dialogue from that scene is used mostly verbatim.
      • Or more likely a reference to "Archer" with his flippant nonchalance.
    • From the same episode as Bane Johns, we're given a stealth Firefly shout out from Sarge, who sprang Tink from confinement by "explaining the chain of command." The fact Sarge is covered in blood and holding a chain seems to imply he did so in Jayne's preferred manner.
    • Heavy and his heavy stubber are basically Team Fortress 2's Heavy Weapons Guy.
    • Tyranid Acquisition Experts has the Guardsmen team up with a squad of Space Marines to capture a Zoanthrope (a psychic Tyranid). It's Starship Troopers all over again...
    • Twitch's insane accusation that the Emperor's Scythes are all Orks in disguise references the premise of another /tg/ classic, Deffwotch.
    • The narrator references Red vs. Blue at multiple points, and Shoggy uses images from the show on some of the posts.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": It's always The Rupert, not just "Rupert".
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The usual stock in trade of Twitch, the squad's demo specialist. The Guardsmen are very fond of this as a means of solving problems, including up to the occasional orbital strike.
    While the nerds babbled about how this was the greatest scientific advancement in centuries Twitch and Nubby went to find a place to plant the Nuke and blow it all up. There's probably something deep and philosophical you could say about that, but we were guardsmen. We had a really big bomb, and damned if we weren't going to use it.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: At one point, the Guardsmen end up luring a Chaos-possessed servitor-Titan into combat with a hungry and pissed off Knarloc. Doesn't quite work as planned, see Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! above.
  • Taking You with Me
    • Crisp kills a chaos marine by having Twitch strap all his remaining explosives to his back and detonating them once he's too close for the marine to get away in time.
    • Cutter is killed when a dying Heretek activates several explosive charges within his body which engulf him in flames.
  • The Cloud Cuckoo Lander Was Right: In "What's In The Box", Twitch was convinced that the titular box was full of Orks and the non-PC Guard Regiment were all Orks in disguise. He was right on both counts.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Guardsmen's go-to solution for dealing with hostiles.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: After Sarge becomes an Interrogator, we see Twitch's point of view as he goes through one of his episodes. He hears orks through the walls of a septic pipe and occasionally shoots the wall in a vain attempt to kill them. Of course, the audience knows that there are no orks.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Inverted in The Xenotech Heresy when the team is given a small nuclear bomb to complete their mission, and decide its so awesome that they must use it, even if a better solution appears.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: The party intentionally plays this part when negotiating with an Eldar Warlock by acting not only stupid, but completely insane. After a while they wear him down into skipping the manipulative doublespeak and Exact Words tricks so that he'll just talk to them in plain Gothic. It also makes him underestimate them so much that his inevitable attempt to betray them is half-assed by Eldar standards.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The first chapter has the Party's "Nerd" charges accidentally rile up a shipload of pilgrims by trying to apprehend a heretic by chasing them into them.
  • Training from Hell: The party's backstory, played through in a marathon session as a series of bloody Only War campaigns before they switched to Dark Heresy. Also applies to what they eventually put their Inquisitorial trainees through.
  • Truce Zone: It turns out one of these actually manages to exist between the Imperium and the Tau. This hazy region of space contains such heresies as humans and aliens living together peacefully, religious freedom, and functioning government.
  • Veteran Instructor: The Guardsmen become this in Good Soldiers, Bad Educators, where they have to turn a bunch of randoms (and a squad of PDF) into Inquisitorial adepts. Things only work out after they all go Drill Sergeant Nasty (led by Sarge) on the recruits.
  • Wham Line: The final sentence of "Tyranid Delivery Experts" is a doozy:
    But the charge at the top of the list will almost certainly be aiding and abetting the Rogue Inquisitor colloquially known as "Oak".
  • Why Did It Have To Be Orks?!: The entire party, and especially Twitch, hate the Orks with a fiery and massively explosive passion. And, when and where they expect the greenskins least, they show up. It's even mentioned in "Tyranid Acquisitions Experts", almost word-for-word.
  • Widget Series: Most of the group has this opinion of the not-Anime the Tau make about them. The first storyline was a politically-sanitized version of their real adventures with the Tau, but according to a brief recap by the members who actually enjoy it and watch it regularly it brought in Dark Eldar witches and Gender Bender plots pretty quickly.
  • Wrench Wench: In addition to a few female Tech Priests such as Hannah, Tink has a brief relationship with a Tau weapons tech that he seems convinced is a woman.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The team is NOT happy when the Tau praise their efforts for taking down their corrupt politician. It is left ambiguous whether or not the politician was acting on behalf of the government and was sold out when his plans were revealed or if he was a real traitor.