The Sternguard are members of the 1st Company of a Space Marine Chapter. Their primary role is to cover a fighting retreat by the rest of a Space Marine force, holding the enemy at bay with their superior training and ranged weaponry.
While every member of a Chapter's 1st Company are proficient in all manner of weaponry, Sternguard Veterans prefer ranged combat over close-quarter fighting. Though occasionally armed with heavier weapons, such as Lascannons or Heavy Flamers, Sternguard Veterans prefer to use their Bolters, meticulously modified with enhanced scopes and specialised ammunition.
Sternguard Squads deploy wherever the battleline is most fierce, facing down the most impossible odds with icy calm and precise bursts of bolter fire. They are the image of what every Space Marine aspires to become, and the pinnacle of any Chapter's fighting force. Though there is friendly rivalry with their counterpart Vanguard Veterans, such competition does not get in the way of their bonds in battle, and each will fight to the death for the other.
All Sternguard Veterans are equipped with extra kinds of specialised ammunition for use in battle. In addition to standard Bolter rounds they have access to:
- Dragonfire Bolts: These hollow shells explode with superheated gas, allowing them to bypass cover with ease.
- Hellfire Rounds: Replacing the bolt's explosive charge with needles of mutagenic acid, these were originally designed to combat Tyranids.
- Kraken Pattern Penetrator Rounds: Modified with an adamantine core and more propellant, Kraken Bolts have a longer range and better armour penetration.
- Metal Storm Shells: Capable of wreaking havoc against unarmoured foes.
- Tempest Bolts: These rounds incorporate tiny plasma shock generators that emit electromagnetic and thermal radiation when the shell detonates. Produced only on the Forgeworld of Mars, tempest shells are noted as particularly effective against machines and other mechanical targets.
- Vengeance Rounds: Employing unstable flux core technology which makes them hazardous to use, but superior at penetrating power armour. these were originally designed to combat Traitor Marines.
- 1: GW Website Sternguard Veteran (accessed 2008.12.23)
- 2: Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 63
- 3: Games Workshop Website (last accessed September 25, 2012)
- 4: One Bullet (Short Story) - Deathwatch: Ignition (Anthology)