Using a suite of Warhammer 40k Arma 3 mods, the 70 members of the 150th Brimlock Dragoons Astra Militarum armoured company battle through multi-mission campaigns, braving the worst threats the Dark Millennium has to offer. Unit Captain William (no surname given) explains the appeal of sci-fi military roleplay in Arma 3, and how you can get involved.
The Astra Militarum, aka Imperial Guard, are the all-too-human infantry that comprise 99% of the military might of the Warhammer 40k Imperium of Man. Part of the grim appeal of the Guard is the massive odds stacked against them. Realism-focused and highly lethal, Arma 3 is well equipped to provide convincingly long odds. The game supports massive online multiplayer sessions, scenario construction, and with scores of Arma 3 mods it’s a great platform for online roleplay communities.
William says that the Dragoons unit has been operational since May 2022, and is currently concluding its sixth campaign, “bringing a rebellious world back into the embrace of the Imperium”. The poor grunts are engaged in “a gruelling multi-session assault on the rebel general’s mountain fortress”, facing psychic support from Tzeentchian sorcerers.
On a typical Saturday around 30 Dragoons will take part in an Arma 3 operation. William describes a variety of roles: “riflemen, which make up the backbone of the platoon; Vox-Operators, who maintain radio communication between squads; medicae, who put people back together on the battlefield”. There are also specialists porting heavy weapons, combat engineers, marksmen who “help spot enemies from range and can take them out from afar”, vehicle crew, and NCOs who lead squads and fireteams.
Arma 3 has a reputation as a daunting simulation, but William says “it includes a lot of systems that you don’t have to engage with unless you want to”. He adds that in the Dragoons “you can start off with a fairly simple role and then pick up the systems that seem fun to you when you’re ready to” – starting as a rifleman, then progressing to medic training, vehicle crew, or any other role that looks fun.
There are also support roles if you want to get involved with the campaign but don’t fancy facing direct combat. William lists: “our story team, who help our GMs to make missions; recruitment, who help make posts to help bring in more people to the unit; and armoury, who contribute art for our armour”.
William is one of the groups “zeus” or GMs: “Just like a GM I build the campaigns, decide what mods get used (kind of like deciding which supplement rulebooks get used)”, he says. He emphasises that though he crafts the challenges, “players have a lot of freedom in how they complete the objectives”.
The Dragoons use plenty of Arma 3 mods to bring the various Warhammer 40k factions to life in the game, whether that’s Guard vehicles, weapons, and uniforms, or adversaries like Orks, T’au Empire, Necrons, and all flavours of Warhammer 40k Chaos.
Other mods increase systemic depth, adding lifelike proximity chat and radio: “It gives you really cool situations where a squad might drop out of radio contact if they’re in a storm”, William says, while another adds melee combat: “what kind of regiment would we be if we couldn’t use bayonets?”
William says that when it comes to roleplaying, “we don’t enforce yes sir/no sir stuff” – it’s up to players how much they want to roleplay. But some players do get into it: “on operations you’ll hear Dragoons immersing themselves in the experience and reciting prayers from their Uplifting Primers before the ramp of their transport drops down”.
He adds: “It’s like any RPG table, where on one end you’ve got a Barbarian who just wants to eat crisps and roll dice, and on the other end is a Bard who lives in another world for the duration of the session”.
If you’re interested in joining the Dragoons, recruiting officer Stakhanovi states on Reddit that you’ll need a copy of Arma 3, “a headset, and enough space to download the needed mods… We also require you be at least 18 years old, and have working proficiency in the English language”. The Dragoons’ main operations run at 20:00 GMT / 15:00 EST on Saturdays, and you can get more information in the group’s Discord server.
If you fancy playing a tabletop RPG in the Warhammer 40k universe, now’s a great time. Cubicle 7 has just released Imperium Maledictum, which supports all sorts of player characters, including the Guard. You can also get the Astra Militarum RPG ‘Only War’, along with all its supplements, in the Humble RPG Book Bundle for March and April.
You can check our Arma 3 DLC guide to find out about official expansions to the huge wargame.