- "You can keep that, mate! Won't fetch me more than a few credits on the market anyway. All this death-and-glory crap isn't really my business. I'm in it for the loot."
- — Sergeant Joto of the XXIInd Savlar upon receiving a medal for bravery after the bloodbath at Trenia
The Savlar Chem-Dogs are Penal Legion regiments that serve within the Astra Militarum. They draw their recruits from the prisons on the inhospitable Penal World of Savlar by the promise that they will be allowed to keep anything they take from the battlefield, as well as the chance to get away from Savlar's highly toxic environment. Though these Imperial Guard regiments are primarily composed of immoral, desperate cut-throats, criminals and scavengers, they have been forged into an effective fighting force, and are some of the most hard-bitten, tenacious and outright dirty fighters in the Imperium of Man.
These dregs of Humanity have been recruited to serve on the embattled Hive World of Armageddon. Motivated by the loot they might be able to recover, they excel in the cramped, noxious battlefields of that world's hive cities. Much of their equipment is stolen from other regiments, and much of their courage comes from the use of nitro-chem inhalers, without which they would likely flee in terror from the daemons that now haunt the ash wastes and underhives in the wake of the Great Rift's birth.
Chem-Dogs are highly resourceful and surprisingly enterprising. Rather than waiting for battlefield resupplies, they will often re-purpose old equipment. They have been known to strip weapons from vehicles and proceed on foot when fuel is low, or replace broken machine parts with similarly-shaped pieces of scrap. Though effective, such practices have seen more than a few Savlar officers executed for heresy by the Adeptus Mechanicus.
The Savlar Chem-Dogs, far from being amongst the elite of the Imperial Guard, are infamous scavengers and criminals assembled from the dregs of Imperial society. How they came into existence as an Imperial Guard regiment in their own right is indicative of the depths the Imperium had to plumb in order to stem the tide of Orks that invaded the Hive World of Armageddon in 998.M41 during the Third War for Armageddon.
The Savlar System, just over a hundred light years from Armageddon in the Segmentum Solar, is a desolate place, little valued by the Imperium save for the rich chemical deposits to be found on the volcanic moons of Savlar Penitens. Unsatisfied by poor mining quota returns, the Adeptus Terra re-graded Savlar as a Penal World in the 39th Millennium, shipping in criminals who had been captured during the recent Bokur Rebellion by the thousand, along with special detachments of the Adeptus Arbites to ensure productivity. Within three standard decades the chemical production of Savlar was supplying three Civilised Worlds and two Forge Worlds in the surrounding sub-sectors. The population of the moons was subsequently swelled by regular influxes of thieves, murderers and traitors from across the Armageddon Sector. The high mortality rate in the poisonous mines of Savlar became notorious among the criminal fraternity, leading to it being known as the "Dead Dog Moons" and phrases like "Dead as Savlar."
The Chem-Dogs were initially formed into a fighting force by Judge Callistar, an Adeptus Arbites senior Judge and magistrate, in response to an armed uprising on Savlar itself. Savlar, once an inhospitable Mining World useful only for its rich chemical deposits, was converted into a penal settlement when it failed to meet Imperial tithes. Since that time, it has become a hellhole populated only by traitors, criminals and the Adeptus Arbites troops assigned to watch over them. However, during the third Armageddon campaign, Judge Callistar quickly found that such an assortment of desperate cut-throats could be forged into an effective fighting force with the addition of but a few simple directives to keep them in line.
Regimental Recruitment and Training
Savlar Chem-Dogs are recruited from the penal colonies on the planet Savlar, and come from among the worst murderers, thieves and miscellaneous scoundrels of that toxic Mining World. Conscripted into the Imperial Guard en masse, the Chem-Dogs were given two motivational imperatives: they could keep whatever they took from the enemy, and if they broke the law again they would be sent straight back to their toxic nightmare of a homeworld.
Regimental Combat Doctrine
Regiments of the Savlar Chem-Dogs were used to fight in the Third War for Armageddon and excelled in fighting in hive cities and in close quarters. They were used beneath the hive cities of Armageddon to repel any Orks trying to invade the cramped, toxic regions of the underhives. They get their courage mainly from the use of nitro-chem inhalers, and are just as likely to steal from other Imperial Guard regiments (and each other!) as they are from the enemy. They also have a high number of Commissars, since they are a Penal Legion regiment that needs constant "motivation" to do their jobs properly. Savlar Chem-Dog Regiments have access to Ogryns and a special type of Astra Militarum Rough Riders, known as the Savlar Chem-Riders, whose riding animals are altered with chemicals to survive in toxic environments.
Savlar Chem-Dog Regiments are not trusted with some of the more ancient weapons used by other Imperial Guard regiments, and are mostly armed with Flamers and Heavy Bolters. The Savlar Rebreather unit worn to filter out the toxins and poisons of the Savlar atmosphere and other toxic worlds where the Chem-Dogs are often deployed is bulky and has four intake/outtake hoses connected to a large canister and filter mask, though somehow, during the third Armageddon campaign, many Chem-Dogs were able to "secure" a large number of the superior Armageddon Pattern Filter Masks that had been reported lost or stolen in every warzone frequented by the Chem-Dogs. Often times, the Chem-Dogs would modify their Rebreather units to include nitro-chem inhalers for the intake of dangerous hyper-aggressive stimulant chemicals. Guardsmen of these regiments are also prone to carrying a number of non-standard pieces of gear, such as improved body armour, stolen, civilian-made dust-goggles and vox-casters, and even extremely rare archeotech they have "acquired."
Savlar Chem-Dog regiments utilise such Imperial vehicles as Hellhounds, Leman Russ Tanks (including the Leman Russ Demolisher, Leman Russ Exterminator and Leman Russ Vanquisher variants) as well as Sentinels. Chem-Dog artillery assets utilise Basilisks and Griffons.
- Third War for Armageddon (998.M41) - The Savlar Chem-Dogs played a typically inglorious part in the Third War for Armageddon, but their contribution proved valuable nonetheless. The leader of the ruling military council of Armageddon, General Kurov, saw the Chem-Dogs as a perfect fit for taking the fight deep into the toxic bowels of the rotting underhives of Armageddon's numerous hive cities, and so Chem-Dog regiments were distributed throughout Armageddon with orders to go as deep into the access tunnels and crawlways as they could. The Savlar Chem-Dogs were ideally suited for this role, as they quickly adapted to the cramped, noxious environment. Not only did this suit the Chem-Dogs admirably, as they were able to plunder many old and valuable pieces of archeotech, but it also dealt with a unique and unenviable battlefield role that would have been avoided by most other Imperial Guard personnel. Any Ork forces attempting to infiltrate into a hive from the myriad tunnels below not only had to fight the crazed mutants and monstrous denizens of the underhive, but some of the most hardened criminals and desperadoes in the Imperium. Needless to say, the Chem-Dogs took every opportunity they could to steal anything that was not nailed down.
Notable Savlar Chem Dog Regiments
- 12th Savlar Chem-Dogs - The 12th Savlar Chem-Dogs fought in the Indranis Campaign and the follow-up actions on the worlds of Kalidar and Geratomro.
- 13th Savlar Chem-Dogs - The 13th Savlar Chem-Dogs fought in the Indranis Campaign and the follow-up actions on the worlds of Kalidar and Geratomro. The heavy tunnel-fighting on Kalidar meant that the 13th fought at only 57% readiness during the Geratomran Reconquest.
- 14th Savlar Chem-Dogs - The 14th Savlar Chem-Dogs served in the Third War for Armageddon in Warzone Infernus.
- 29th Savlar Chem-Dogs, "Lucidites" - A renowned -- some might prefer "infamous" -- Savlar Chem-Dogs regiment.
- 71st Savlar Chem-Dogs - The 71st Savlar Chem-Dogs Regiment is known to include a Leman Russ Executioner, an extremely rare variant of the standard Leman Russ Main Battle Tank used by the Imperial Guard that mounts a powerful Plasma Destroyer cannon instead of the standard Battle Cannon. The Executioner is possibly a survivor of the ill-fated campaign in the chloride-swamps of Goru. It serves as a command tank for the 71st Regiment.
Notable Savlar Chem Dogs
- Judge Callistar - Callistar is an Adeptus Arbites Judge. While not an actual member of the Savlar Chem-Dogs Regiments, he is the magistrate in charge of the penal colony on Savlar and the man responsible for raising the Savlar Chem-Dog Regiments in the first place.
- Sergeant Rojo - A leader of the Savlar Chem-Dogs who attacked other Imperial Guardsmen, such as Sergeant Avoir of an unidentified regiment. These rogues, such as Slavro, Estrone (dead), Janssen (Flamer carrier/arsonist), and Taldac, were once under the command of Commissar Yendl.
- Karlok Shoam - After the heavy fighting on Kalidar, Karlok Shoam was chosen by the Machine Spirit of the newly forged Baneblade Super Heavy Tank Cortein's Honour to become its designated driver. This was truely exceptionnal as Cortein's Honour belonged to the Paragonian Seventh Super-Heavy Tank Company and had chosen a member of a different regiment to become part of its crew. Nevertheless Shoam proved to be a competent driver and when needed, an ice-cold killer.
- Chapter Approved - Third Book of the Astronomican (2003), pp. 25-27
- Codex: Astra Militarum (8th Edition), pg. 26
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 60
- Imperial Armour Volume One - Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy, pg. 64
- Shadowsword (Novel) by Guy Haley
- Third War for Armageddon Worldwide Campaign - Forces Disposition, Imperial Forces: Savlar Chem-Dogs