The Imperial Guard are the household troops of the Red Emperor. They consist of six regiments of elite soldiers, some 4500 strong, with three cavalry and three foot regiments. They include the Grim Soldiers, the Feathered Axe, the Household Foot, the Mother’s Guard, the Hell Sisters, and the feared Bloodspillers (all members of Jar-eel’s Moonsword Cult).
These units follow the Red Emperor and typically go where he goes. No units of the Imperial Guard have been in Dragon Pass since 1602 (the last time the Red Emperor was present). In battle, units of the Imperial Guard are held in reserve until the critical moment then often personally led by Jar-eel and Beat-Pot Aelwrin.
Each unit has their own cults, their own tradition of recruitment, their own preferred fighting techniques, and their own priests, officers, and commanders. They are unified solely by the person of the Red Emperor and his family (and thus will follow Jar-eel, the Fourth Inspiration of Moonson, but not some mundane commander). They are favored by the Red Emperor more than any other regiments of the Lunar Army (except perhaps the Full Moon Corps, who are his kin).
The Full Moon Corps are not “household troops” – they are immortals who descend from the Red Moon to fight for their mother. When they are slain, they return to their mother, who heals them and sends them back to the Lunar armies. They are demigods, spirits, and not bodyguards.
What regiments in Sartar could stand against the Imperial Guard and Full Moon Corps on equal footing?
In 1625? None.
In 1628? Several bands from Argrath’s Sartar Magical Union could stand toe to toe with the Imperial Guard. And the Stormwalkers are the equal of the Full Moon Corps. And Harrek and Gunda are a match for Jar-eel and Beat-Pot.
One thing worth keeping in mind that the presence of the Imperial Guard means the presence of the Red Emperor. These aren’t garrison troops, routine patrols, or scouts. If they show up, it means BIG things are up.
The individual soldiers are equipped by the Red Emperor – often with iron, magic weapons, bound spirits, and more. Plenty of Rune Lords and Rune Priests. They are not to be trifled with.
How would the regiments in Loskalm under Lord Meriatan’s command fare against the Imperial Guard? I suspect the Imperial Guard would tear them apart, and if Jar-eel and Beat-Pot are there, Lord Meriatan wouldn’t stand a chance.
Are there any non-Sartar/Argrath units, from other regions of Glorantha, that might stand up to the Imperial Guard? Remember that the Imperial Guard’s presence in a battle is almost always accompanied by the Red Emperor, Jar-eel, and Beat-Pot. And if they are there, most likely you have the Lunar College of Magic as well.
So for example at the Battle of Heroes, the Red Emperor was present with the Bloodspillers, Hell Sisters, and the Household Foot, AND the Minor and Major Classes of the College of Magic. That is a LOT of firepower! But they were held in reserve and when it was clear the battle was lost, they guarded the Red Emperor on his retreat back to Mirin’s Cross.