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Streltsi

A Streltsi armed with their signature Halberd and rifle.

The Streltsi are an elite branch of Erengrad Kossars that specialise in the use of blackpowder rifles, perhaps the only known Kislevite rota to do so.

Overview

Led by Boyar Boydinov, an eccentric noble obsessed with the Empire - they wielded poleaxes rather than axes, mirroring the halberds favoured by the State Troops of Ostland. In 2345 IC, whilst driving back a Chaos horde alongside his Empire allies, the wide-eyed Boyar witnessed the devastating effects of Imperial blackpowder for the first time.[1a]

His Kossars were changed forever. In his last will, Prince Boydinov ordered that a considerable part of his fortune be used for the upkeep of a regiment of handgunners. This tradition endures today, but because Kislev is a poor country, only the city of Erengrad is able to support a regiment of Streltsi.[1a]

Now, many years after the death of Boydinov, the Streltsi are the foremost masters of firearms in Kislev, using weapons once viewed with fear and superstition. Soldiers from across Kislev travel to Erengrad to earn the crossed "berdische and musket" badge, which is awarded to any who train with the Streltsi for more than two seasons. The streltsi can shift suddenly from a disciplined line of calm, almost machine-like handgunners to a raging horde of axe-wielding berserkers in an instant, often terrifying even those foes brave enough to cross the wall of gunfire they lay down.[1a]

A Day in the Life

The streltsi are no mercenaries or sell-swords... or sell-guns, as the case may be. They are proud soldiers of Kislev, strong and loyal, and disciplined in battle. They are rarely found wandering alone, though a few will move on to other careers and take their skills with them. Most, though, are found with their fellows. Streltsi are brothers, trained together, fighting together and, when it happens, dying together, all of which they accept with typical Kislevite fatalism.[2a]

Unless actively at war, the life of a streltsi is normally one of practise. The firearms they carry, though well made, are still not entirely reliable, and the streltsi must constantly check, clean and maintain them, as well as each and every component of their uniform. They must also drill with sword and berdysh, practising both formation firing and one-on-one melee combat.[2a]

Of course, all work and no play... streltsi are often stationed in larger towns or villages, and even those on the cold frontier are rotated back regularly. Streltsi who have the opportunity will spend their nights as soldiers everywhere do, drinking, gambling and seeking comfort in the arms of tavern girls. They tend to relax in the same way they fight – as a group. It is rare to see a streltsi drinking alone; some say that it would be wiser to kick a hungry bear in his private parts than to disturb a solitary streltsi deep in his cups.[2a]

At war, the streltsi march with other troops, but also keep themselves apart – they are elite, and have their own pack-boys, wagon trains, and so on. They mark off their encampments when the army pitches camp for the night, and few cross those lines of ribbon without good cause.[2a]

Little Known Facts

Every streltsi names his weapon, though not until after it has killed a man – or at least been fired in war at an enemy. It is said that at that time, the weapon tells the wielder its name. Using a fellow streltsi's gun can be done in times of crisis, but it is said that doing so without permission is a worse offense than sleeping with his wife.[2a]

Trivia

The Streltsi are based on the Streltsy, the Elite guards and standing army of Tsarist Russia from Ivan the Terrible to Peter the Great. The first units to gunpowder weapons in Russia, they would gradually be phased out under Peter the Great, until they were almost completely removed from power in 1689.

Sources

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Realm of the Ice Queen
    • 1a: pg. 105
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Career Compendium
    • 2a: pg. 202

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