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How To Build The Death Korps of Krieg in The Pathfinder RPG

A Warhammer 40K Character Conversion

By Neal LitherlandPublished 3 years ago 7 min read

Among the Astra Militarum there are warriors of great courage and ruthless drive. There are soldiers without peer whose banners heave with accolades of past glories. But even among the regiments of renown, whose names and sigils are known across the Imperium, there is one that stands out from the others. A regiment spoken of in equal parts awe, and horror. A regiment that does not know fear, or pity, or remorse, and who absolutely will not stop until they or the foe are dead.

That regiment is the Death Korps of Krieg.

Once a lush, resource-rich world, Krieg rebelled centuries ago. Sparking a bloody civil war that lasted for nearly 500 years, eventually those loyal to the Emperor reclaimed their world. The cost was nuclear hellfire, and dead soil watered in generations of blood and hate. What they brought to the Imperium when they were allowed to rejoin, though, was soldiers. Soldiers who believed utterly and completely in their cause, and who showed no fear of death. Martyrs-in-waiting, the Death Korps are zealots who will follow any order, and fight any battle, because to them the prospect of dying in the service of the God Emperor that their ancestors betrayed is the highest achievement they could ever hope for.

And if you're looking to bring this kind of fearless devotion to your next Pathfinder game, the following guide should get you started!

For more character conversion guides such as the Imperial Commissar, make sure you visit the Character Conversions page on my gaming blog Improved Initiative! And for those who'd like to see even more gaming and associated geekery, make sure you stop by my full Vocal archive as well!

Origins (Species, Attributes, Traits)

The zeal of Krieg means they never retreat, never surrender, and always request the harshest, most dangerous battlefields to be deployed to. This results in breathtaking casualties, and since the soldiers of Krieg don't play well with those who lack their suicidal devotion, there need to be enough of them to make up entire battalions without expecting them to mesh with other members of the guard.

As such, Krieg has been given special dispensation to use vitae wombs in order to mass produce their troops at a rate that will keep up with the mountain of corpses caused by both their intense training on their home world, and the endless battles they need to fight among the stars. The issue with the vitae wombs, though, is that no one seems to really understand what they are or how they work outside of Krieg. And they are not without... defects, shall we say?

Given this bit of background lore, while human is the standard species one should choose, it might be thematically appropriate to select a half-orc for a Krieg soldier in order to give them access to half-orc ferocity, and the general toughness available through alternative traits like Smog Sight or Unflinching Valor. You may want to consider taking the Pass For Human feat, assuming you don't want to play into the mystery of just what, exactly, is under that gas mask. As to the character's attributes, primary focus should be placed on the main combat attribute (Dexterity for primarily ranged fighters, Strength for melee), with Constitution being the next consideration. Wisdom should be the highest of the mental stats, as Krieg soldiers are known for their sheer will rather than their intellect or force of personality.

As to their traits, it's important to pick options that are going to come up fairly often. Indomitable Faith is a fitting one for Krieg, and could be matched with Inspiring Rush to mimic their bayonet charge. Courageous and Hard To Kill are also useful options, if you don't choose one of the old standbys like Reactionary or Vengeful.

Regimen (Class)

Only in death is service rendered.

The soldiers of Krieg have been shaped, molded, and engineered for a single purpose; war. They are masters of grueling attrition warfare, where their enemies break in the face of Krieg's utter refusal to bend.

To capture this kind of soldier, the fighter is the most obvious class choice. The question, of course, is what kind of fighter?

For those who want to emulate the style of warfare Krieg is most famous for, the Trench Fighter archetype from Rasputin Must Die! is likely going to be the most appropriate. You lose all the armor training options, but you gain bonuses whenever you use cover, and you get to add your Dexterity modifier to damage rolls with certain firearms. All in all, it's quite functional.

If you want to capture the essence of Krieg's soldiers, though, then the Unbreakable archetype out of Ultimate Combat might be more to your tastes. They gain Endurance and Diehard as bonus feats at first level, as well as Heroic Recovery and Heroic Defiance at later levels. They gain Stalwart at level 13, which allows them to completely shake off the partial effects of spells or spell-like abilities which require a Will or Fortitude save. It is, all-around, one of the tougher fighter options out there defensively.

Sadly these two archetypes cannot be stacked together, as they cross over at replacing the higher levels of armor training. But while the trench fighter gives you better damage for your firearm attacks, the Unbreakable gives you greater endurance. Both are viable, but will simply require you to fill in the gaps.

Beneath The Mask (Skills and Feats)

Until their guns run dry, we march.

Fighters, as a rule, are not blessed with an overabundance of skill points. Survival will likely be helpful, and Knowledge (Engineering) would be useful for smashing gates, striking weak points, and making the best possible trench lines. Ride might be useful if you want to make a Death Rider, though if you want to go full cavalry with your character then you may wish to instead choose the cavalier for your base class instead of fighter in order to ensure your mount levels with you.

Before we get into the rest of the feats, though, a trick for your Korpsman; making them immune to fear. Or, at least, the next best thing to immune for our purposes.

The first thing you need to take is the feat Nameless One from Adventurer's Guide. This feat severs you from any previous identities or names (as if you had one, being born on Krieg), and creates a simple designation for you. Your triple-digit serial number should work just fine for the purposes of the feat. It also takes 200 gp of special oils and incense to bless a ritual mask for you to wear (which sounds like mechanicus shenanigans if ever I hard of them) as part of this feat. This makes you either impossible, or extremely difficult to scrye on (depending on the circumstances). Nothing in the description says this mask can't be a gas mask, especially one with a distinctive design unique to Krieg's regiments.

Once you have that feat you then take Masked by Fear out of the same book. This requires either the bravery class feature, or a base Will save of +6... so while the Trench Fighter could take this right away, the Unbreakable would have to wait till level 8, as they trade in bravery for other bonuses. It states that whenever you would be subject to frightened, panicked, or cowering while wearing your mask, you are instead merely shaken... so you still take the -2, but there is not a fear spell, aura, or Intimidate check that will make you turn away.

Aside from this one handy trick, though, you still need to make your soldier the deadliest they can be. To that end, a lot of your other feats are going to feel pretty "standard" for lack of a better term.

You'll want Point Blank and Precise Shot, of course. You'll also want to make sure you're proficient with your firearm of choice (which is particularly important if your GM is willing to crack open the Technology Guide to give you nasty toys to play with). Rapid Shot and Rapid Reload are good to have, as well, and Weapon Focus along with Weapon Specialization (along with their improved versions) are solid, reliable choices.

As to the infamous use of the shovel... well, you could take Catch Off-Guard to negate your penalty for attacking with an improvised weapon, but generally that's going to be a course of last resort instead of a primary attack that you spend feat slots on.

Legacy (Equipment and Story)

What a lovely day for a stroll.

Aside from their signature gas masks, soldiers of Krieg are issued flak armor, as well as the Lucius pattern lasgun (more familiarly referred to as a Hell gun), in addition to a mono knife that serves as both combat blade and bayonet. While a standard laser rifle might do for this option, if you're looking for something a little more customized I would recommend checking out both the Savage Company Campaign Setting as well as the Savage Company Infantryman's Handbook for some war gear that feels very 40k inspired.

Lastly, ask yourself what this character's story is. Because soldiers of the Death Korps have no names, no identity, and no purpose beyond redeeming the great sin of their people in the eyes of the God Emperor... but consider what makes yours unique. Are they a child soldier under that gas mask? Will they begin to see the doctrine they were trained with is flawed, or has holes, leading them to take off the true face of their gas mask and store it away to take fledgling steps at becoming a real person? Or will they simply remain a nameless, faceless ghost until they eventually die in the trenches alongside their comrades?

As with all things, that choice is up to you!

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About the Creator

Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.

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Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary

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