Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Genestealer Cult - developing the background for my army.


Greetings all, welcome to another of my expo posts on the lists I'm working on and planning to play with. As these armies are completed you'll begin to see them crop up in battle reports on our brotherhood blog and youtube channel, so you'll be able to see how they actually work on the tabletop as well as understand the theory behind the army.

Above is the colour scheme set out in the codex for the Behemoid Undercult and one that I really liked. As you probably know by now though, I'm not one to simply sit by and use something someone else has conceived - for starters, it leaves you very open to GW all of a sudden paying attention to that creation of theirs and taking it in a direction you may not like.

So, along similar lines therefore I started to plan out my own ideas.

As I've said before I really wanted to have my genestealer cult and guard armies come together to look cohesive on the tabletop and that meant a couple of things. First, getting the colours right, and second, being able to utilise the 'deal' kits that GW have produced for the cult incorporating the Cadian kit.

I wanted to really set out the base idea for all my armies however, creating my own little niche section of the galaxy that I could really go to town on, coming up with systems and planets of my own to really give my armies a grounded feel within the 40k universe. To that end, I headed over to the 40k wiki to try and figure out where I would base this. Now given that I have a Tau army, I was pretty much limited to the Ultima Segmentum if I wanted to be able to justify them fighting each other, and I've already made reference to that section of space with the Dusk Knights undertaking campaigns in the Hell Stars of the Caron Nebula.

Now rather conveniently given my own star-sign, the Tau Empire is situated on the Sagittarius Arm of the Galaxy, and just to the galactic south west of that is an area known as the Mordant Zone, which sounded quite good to me, especially with it being home to the forge world 'Metalica', which has its own Titan Legion.

St Olav's Fall therefore would be located in the Mordant Zone, so now I needed another planetary name. Given that I wanted to represent my cult as welcoming a splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Kraken due to the colouring I wanted to use, I then did a bit of research on the legend of the Kraken. Turns out that there's reference to it in an icelandic saga about a journey to a place called Helluland. That sounded promising, and the magma deep-mining colony of Hellslanding was born, source of the molten ore used to produce adamantium for the nearby forgeworld.

Using Hell therefore as a bit of a research key, I looked into the potential names for what I could possibly call an 'army of hell'. Out of that, via wikipedia, came a reference to the Spawn comic that I have a fleeting soft spot for thanks to the appalling film version that somehow made an impression on my teenage brain in the late 1990s. In that, the army of Hell is referred to as Hellspawn, which sounded quite cool, but equally would best represent how an imperial colony might refer to the twisted and mutated abominations that were spilling from the depths of their mining complexes. That same wikipedia article however referred to the patron hell entity of these creatures as Malebolgia, and that sounded suitably malevolent for my purposes. And so, the Kindred of Malebolgia were born, a genestealer cult army drawing background influence from myriad sources to tie together a cohesive back-story for the army.

Both the Kindred and my Guard army, The Bromheads, would be based on Hellslanding, the former acting as a standing defence force for the crucial mineral production supplying nearby systems (there are in fact two forge worlds in this part of the Mordant Zone, Accatran being the second). The Mordant Zone is also extremely close to the Ork Empire of Charadon, explaining why Saul Regulo has a hatred of Orks that passes to his troopers (I use Pedro Kantor rules for my Chapter Master).

Now obviously I want to fight not only imperial armies with the cult, and thankfully, their location on a mining colony that would make regular cargo shipments to other planets in imperial space will justify many different settings, and equally it is not beyond the boundaries of reason to anticipate that some of these shipments may be attacked and boarded by other forces, which could easily then become prey to waiting genestealers, either through implantation or transportation of the genestealers themselves.

Indeed, there may even be the odd 'Rogue' trader making undercover shipments to xenos locations, and from there the cult may spread even further afield, to the outlying Tau colonies of Bork'an perhaps.

So there you have it - a detailed explanation of how the fluff for my genestealer cult army was generated, from simple beginnings I just let the flow of research take me where it would, making stops at various interesting points along the way to pick and choose influences that could be woven into a convincing story.

I could easily foresee the Kindred infesting more than one system, and a certain military force of the Imperium encountering those infestations at different times and stages of their development (by which I mean I'll probably end up facing Tom's deathwatch quite a bit) and leading to a long-running saga rather than just a single cult uprising and gone.

Hopefully this article will help those of you who've read it to see how easy it can be to develop a backstory for your armies, and in turn, transform simple one-off games into separate parts of a much larger tale, and that's when a fight between your marine sergeant and an enemy warlord takes on a much larger dimension, and in fact becomes the valiant struggle as Sergeant Alarico traps the Kaiser Sose-like Primus Argen Falx in a docking bay of the main spaceport on Scorix-9, and engages the military leader in an effort to cut the head from the snake, or at the very least delay them to allow the rest of Hazard Company to arrive and cleanse the facility, but despite taking a grievous wound to the thigh, Falx escapes just as Captain Alvaro's squad thunders into the room, Sergeant Alarico bleeding profusely from a hideous wound in his torso.

Till next time!
TBE