Fast, heavily-defended, and extremely well armed, the Guardian-class was designed to patrol the remote and hostile systems at the edges of Imperial space unescorted and for prolonged amounts of time. More than capable of handling freight traffic, smugglers, and pirates, the Guardian was not well equipped for large-scale boarding actions as it lacked the space for a sizable boarding party, with crews often opting to simply destroy targets in true Imperial fashion. To assist in interdiction and customs, Guardians could be outfitted with external docking points to carry TIE Fighters; however, these fighters reduced maneuverability noticeably.
The Guardian-class was one of the three main ship classes employed by Imperial Customs, and was a common Imperial system patrol craft.
Guardians, which were in service from before the Battle of Nar Shaddaa, were a common sight in lightly populated, isolated systems where the Galactic Empire needed to maintain a presence without underwriting the expense of assigning a larger vessel to patrol duty. Also, these light cruisers often patrolled with corvette or frigate support.
These ships also saw use outside the Imperial military. The privately owned station known as "The Wheel", a gambling haven located in the Besh Gorgon System employed ten of these cruisers for traffic control duty in its security forces. Political entities such as the House Pelagia in the Tapani sector maintained these ships as well. One such ship was the Reprise.
A variant of the Guardian was the ISB operations ship, which was essentially the same ship modified to contain holding cells, as well as light and sensor stealth coatings.
Pirates such as Shanto Dhil acquired Guardian-class cruisers as well. Dhil's Guardian light cruiser, The Avatar's Needle liked to pose as an Imperial vessel in order to get close enough to bacta transports to steal their cargo.
- The Hutt Gambit
- (as customs cruiser) (Mentioned only)
- "Regina Cayli" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 1 (as customs cruiser) (Mentioned only)
- "You're in the Army Now!" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 2 (as Guardian-class Imperial Customs patrol cruiser)
- "Loyalties" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 4 (as Guardian-class customs cruiser)
- (as Guardian light cruiser)
- Shadows in the Force
- "A Servant of the Empire" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 16 (Canceled)
- Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition
- Star Wars Gamemaster Screen
- Star Wars Gamemaster Handbook (as Customs cruiser)
- Planets of the Galaxy, Volume Three
- "Smuggler's Log" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 2
- The Star Wars Planets Collection
- "The Cure" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 6
- Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
- Star Wars Gamemaster Screen, Revised
- Pirates & Privateers
- Lords of the Expanse
- Gundark's Fantastic Technology: Personal Gear (as "Customs cruiser")
- "Tasariq: The Crystal Planet" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 15
- The Far Orbit Project
- Star Wars Roleplaying Game Revised Core Rulebook
- Talnar's Rescue"—Star Wars Gamer 5 "
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia