- "They have courage, I’ll give them that, but it’s a wild courage, untempered by discipline that’s beaten into a man by drill sergeants like me. Give me a month, and I’ll have them marching like respectable Empire soldiers"
- —Drill Sergeant Klaus Woerke.[1a]
Kossars fight on foot with axe and bow and their name is descended from an Ungol tribe that previously fought as mercenaries for the Gospodars against the other Ungols when they first invaded. As a result, joining the kossars is seen as a way of cutting their ties and escaping a difficult past.[1b]
The officers accept anyone who can pass the fitness tests, and Tzar Boris granted new kossars a full pardon for any crimes committed before they joined. This pardon does not, of course, apply to crimes committed after becoming a kossar. Contemporary kossars include both Ungols and Gospodars, and they have more than their fair share of criminals, bored younger sons, and general troublemakers. This structure means they have an even worse off-duty reputation than most soldiers.[1b]
Their Boyars do not keep records of the number of kossars executed for their crimes against civilians, as the numbers would be too embarrassing. The Ice Queen would like to restore the kossars pay and increase the size of the army, introducing elements of cavalry. However, many nobles, both Gospodar and Ungol, are very suspicious of any moves to increase the size of the standing army and have encouraged winged lancers and horse archers to see any attempt to include cavalry in the standing army as an insult to their prowess. On the other hand, they are extremely effective in battle, as they are trained constantly and drilled in battlefield tactics and manoeuvres. This reputation is also widespread, so a settlement facing imminent attack is always glad to see the kossars but also keen to see them leave again.[1b]
Originally, the Kossars were an Ungol tribe that lived northeast of the Empire. An eastern people known as the Gospodars invaded this region, subjugated the Ungols, and founded the nation of Kislev. During this conflict, the Kossars sold their skills to the Gospodars as Mercenaries, fighting against other Ungol tribes. Their unique style of fighting impressed the Gospodar nobility, and since that time Kossar regiments have served the Tzars of Kislev. These days the Kossars are no longer a tribe, but a tough military unit drawn from all over Kislev. They are armed with bows and great axes, making them quite flexible on the battlefield. Many Kossars, tired of the ceaseless warfare of their native land, travel to the Empire to become Mercenaries or adventurers.
Little Known Facts
When an Ungol or Gospodar man joins the Kossars, he's expected to leave clan loyalties behind and fight solely for the Tsarina and Kislev. In times of war, Kislev's often volatile mixture of Ungol and Gospodar cultural difference melt away in the face of a common foe. In times of peace, however, clan differences cause friction and Kislev’s patchwork of conciliatory laws creates more problems than it solves. Over time, the Tzars of Kislev have observed that Kossar morale improves when they’re exempted from culturally divisive laws. Minor criminal charges against Kossars are therefore routinely ignored, and their partial immunity has given them an inflated sense of entitlement. Arbitrary punishments have proven mostly ineffective for restoring discipline.[2a]
When convenient, however, Kossars use certain laws to their advantage. For example, Gospodar Kossars often cite clan solidarity laws from the Ungol tradition when civilians file charges against one of their number. Likewise, Ungol Kossars wishing to defect are quick to adopt the Gospodar custom of "finding Ursun," which allows every man one opportunity to abandon his responsibilities for a full month and wander the oblast in search of spiritual guidance. Kossars who defect in this manner usually travel south for greener pastures, never to return.[2a]
- The Bokha Palace Guard - These are elite warriors selected from the ranks of the Kossars to guard Kislev's Royal Palace.
- 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Realm of the Ice Queen
- 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Career Compendium
- 2a: pg. 120