We explore the advanced character creation to fill the missing link
Cubicle7 announced that 4 campaign books are coming somewhere in the future. According to the article, they focus on military campaign, e.g. "The Bloody Gates". That said, and without further information... I thought about exploring the options to play a low (read 1) tier (Astra) military campaign with the given source books.
This is not Only Wars reimagined, but more, how to make a guardsman warband with the given tools., Thus, I will assume that advanced character creation is an option and will lay out my/one approach to build multiple Astra Militarum archetypes.
The Problem: The Core and Forsaken rules only give a small amount of feasible archetypes for a Tier 1 Guardsman Campaign. Lets see the solid picks:
Imperial Guardsman a plain old bodyguard
Ratling Sniper, you know, pewpew and cooking
Ok thats it.... rough. Some other archetypes are also quite fitting:
Ministorum Priest, spiritual guide into hell and probably not back
Ganger, forcefully drafted into the guard, use the [ANY] keyword to pick ASTRA MILITARUM
Tech-Adept, your local mechanic from the Forsaken System
The Sororitas and Inquisition archetypes are relatively special, so I will not list them.
Archetypes by fluff
So, lets leave the rules system out for now. Lets think about the archetypes you would expect in the guard or a respective campaign. This will be the basic for the Wrath & Glory character stubs we want to create. Lets see:
Special Weapon guy (e.g. Flamer or Melta for tier 1 probably)
Sniper (Ratling or not)
Rank and File Guardsman
Sergeant, hold the line, bark orders
Ogryn, there is no Tier 1 archetype but we will se what we can do with advanced creation
Psykers, usually not recommended for Tier 1, maybe we make an exception?
Make the characters
Ok with this in mind, lets go. We will use advanced creation big time, because the using the default bodyguard guardsman multiple times is boring as hell (personal overexaggerating). he use other archetypes abilities will come in handy. And I might give some suggestions for a talent.
Creating a Tier 1 char gives us 10 extra XP, we might spend on those jucy archetype abilities.
Using advanced Archetype Creation on Tier 1 gives us 15 points to spend on wargear. Lasgun (3, common) and Flak Armour (4, common) consumes 7 points, leaving us with 8 points to spend on Uncommon (and lower) items.
Sniper (non ratling variant)
Advanced Creation, maybe take the Imperial Scion ability (20XP), but that's not essential. Take a Heavy Stubber (5, uncommon) or an Autocannon (5, common) or a Heavy Bolter (6, uncommon). I would prefer the Stubber. As you can leave the Lasgun (-3 points), you have enough points to get the Ammo Backpack (5 uncommon).
Advanced Creation, you could got the small mans commissar route and take the Commissarability (for 30XP) as it grants resolve and intimidation. A different approach would be to buy the Devotees talent (30XP) and fill your ranks with disposable grunts. This is expensive due to the talent and the Leadership 4 (20XP) requirement but gives cool cannon fodder. There are not too many leadership talents. So the rest might be "just" points for more willpower, maybe fellowship and skills. Grab a chainsword (4, uncommon) or sword (3, common). Maybe even a Shock Maul (5 Uncommon)
(The poor mans) Ogryn
Ok so, the archetypes are Tier 2+ but we can use advanced creation because Species do not have a tier requirement. The stat requirements are quite... expensive thou (76XP). Leaving you with only 34 XP for stuff. Probably just attributes and skills? The Ripper Gun is very rare and thus out of reach. You could go with a Heavy Stubber (5 uncommon). This weapon has the heavy(4) Trait and you have Strength 5+ therefore you could risk using it without bracing. Ok now your are more or less a Heavy Gunner variant. But that's ok I guess? :)
Advanced Creation, you can consider the Space Marine Scout ability (10XP) but you can probably also just increase agility or stealth. Or you can go exotic with the Aeldari Rangers ability (20XP). You can take talents that lead you down the observer role OR you could go assassin. Or postpone this for later. Equipment wise, consider Infravision (4 uncommon), Survival Kit (3 uncommon), Silencer (3 uncommon), Grapnel Launcher (4 uncommon), Mono Knive (3 uncommon) and/or a Data Slate (2 common).
Another interesting archetype ability might be the Ork Kommando (20XP) that gives a slight area stealth buff.
This one depends a little on how you handle vehicles as there are no official rules yet. Assuming you treat it as skill challenges using Pilot, you can probably just forego a archetype ability, push Agility, Pilot and Tech. As wargear maybe take Combi-Tool (3 uncommon), maaaybe Mag-Boots (4 uncommon), maybe sacred machine oil for the vehicle! (3 uncommon).
This... might be a little tricky. At least flavor style. But let's assume the fluff allows it (stares in commissar). I would maybe just allow to take the Sanctioned psyker ability which grants you all the tools. But maybe only allow minor powers, maybe not even smite (maybe reduce the ability cost?). But this is all quite some tinkering and not using the core rules. Again for tier 1 maybe stick to minor powers.
A fitting framework
Maybe this part sometimes gets overlooked. The Framework allows to give some focus to the campaign. It also allows for some adjustments that affect all characters. For example, you could grant everyone some basic guard equipment, like rations, shovels, bedroll and the always uplifting imperial primer. You could even go so far and flesh out the common regiment a little.
E.g. "You are part of the Armageddon Steel Legion, patrolling the northern ashen wasteland." Every character starts with a Flak Coat, a Respirator the 9-70 Entrenching Tool and a Mono Knife. This gives the whole group a common set of equipment and flavor.
This is only an example. You could equip a Gaunt's Ghosts Warband with the Cameleoline Cloak. Some granted wargear or a shared special ability or a free specific talent (gasp) might give the Campaign some more unique style without tanking the balance. Underpicked talents might be a good way to let them shine.
I provided multiple templates and approaches for different archetypes that might fit into a astra military campaign. Some have more or less room for individualizations. I hope this gives some inspiration on how to use the advanced archetype creation to fill the gap of missing official archetypes for such a campaign.