This is the ultimate guide to Warhammer 40k Genestealer Cult! A Genestealer Cult is a group of Genestealers, Genestealer hybrids, fully human convert-hosts, infected victims, and genetic relations known as Brood Brothers who live in another culture.
Want to learn how to play this army? Start here with our Introduction to Genestealer Cult Tactics for Warhammer 40k 9th Edition!
- 1 Overview
- 2 Hierarchy and Organization
- 3 Genestealer Cults and Tyranids
- 4 Genestealer Cults in the Imperium
- 4.1 Known Infestations
- 4.2 Known Imperial Genestealer Cults
- 4.2.1 Officially Documented Cults
- 4.2.2 Other Cults
- 5 Genestealer Cults in xenos societies
- 6 Background Information
When a Genestealer infects members of another species with its genotype, Genestealer Cults arises with the most unquestioning loyalty ability . The host’s genome changes as a result, causing a fervent devotion to the Genestealers as well as a significant modification in their reproductive system; their firstborn children will be Hybrids, a monstrous combination of the host’s race and Genestealers. The illness grows exponentially as these hybrids infect more victims. Purestrain Genestealers are produced by fourth generation hybrids, and the cycle begins all over again.
This brood of Purestrains, hybrids, and Brood Brothers comes together around the original Genestealer, who becomes the Patriarch, and is bound together by powerful psychic and genetic links. The Imperium refers to this community as a Genestealer Cult since it is frequently veiled behind the facade of a religion or political movement.
More specialized varieties of Genestealer Hybrid are made to serve the Patriarch, who is now venerated as a deity, as the Genestealer cult units numbers expand. Maguses, Primuses, Locuses, and other creatures fall under this category. The Cult will frequently expand and scheme beneath the surface of their host world, using this base of operations to infiltrate the above society gradually.
Later generations are less monstrous than their forefathers, and they can freely wander through Imperial society without drawing attention to themselves. A Genestealer Cult will frequently recruit from society’s poor and underbelly, portraying itself as liberators from Imperial rule’s terrible yoke. A fully developed Cult can number in the billions and span multiple worlds.
The primary priority of the Cult is procreation, but as time passes, this shifts to prepare their host world for the arrival of a Tyranid Hive Fleet. Cultists frequently consider this as an anointed holy day of salvation, and they will strive fanatically to see a victim populace is ready for consumption. The Genestealer Cult awakens at the appointed hour, unleashing the cult’s diabolic pincer attacks capable of destroying entire Systems while the enemies taking cover.
Hierarchy and Organization
The Patriarch is the head of a Genestealer Cult; as its founder, he decides every activity of the cult; he is adored and regarded as a father figure or, in the case of the Brood Brothers, as a god a true cult icon. The Magus and Primus, who are above him in the hierarchy, use the Broodmind to keep control of their armies. These hybrids are from the fourth generation, and they serve as public figures.
Patriarch, Magus, and Primus, along with the other hybrids and Genestealers, constitute an inner circle that is in charge of the cult’s leadership. Clamavus, Biophagus, Nexos, Sanctus, Reductus, Kelermorph, and Locus are just a few of the specialty Hybrids that have been discovered. The regular Genestealer Hybrids, Genestealer Aberrants, Abominants, and Genestealer Familiars are beneath these.
Although Brood Brothers live outside of the cult, they are still considered members of the clan and apart of the genestealer cults army. Outside, the cult’s uninfected allies, usually members of oppressed minorities, social fringe organizations, and mutants, can be found. These organizations are not good hosts since they are unable to contribute to the cult’s political influence. They are viewed as non-essential aspects who are only useful when the cult actively rebels, and they are ruthlessly exploited.
The Patriarch and the Magus are the highest-ranking members of the cult with true psychic power. The death of one, or worse, both of these personalities, generates some uncertainty among the cult members at first. The order structure, on the other hand, is adaptable and resilient, and even the deaths of both characters will not destabilize or destroy a cult. If the Patriarch dies, the Magus becomes the only leader of the cult until the next eldest Purestrain Genestealer succeeds him as Patriarch.
An infestation is defined as all of the cultists in a given globe, and each population area can propagate multiple full brood cycles. A gene-sect is a group of cultists in a certain population centre. Some populations are just large enough to maintain a single gene-sect, but on densely inhabited worlds, multiple can coexist.
Though each gene-sect may have its own distinct patterns and colours, they are all descended from the same Patriarch and normally function together harmoniously. Each gene-sect has its own leader and specialist organisms. These are normally from the fourth generation and can be mistaken for humans. They are so similar in thought and action that they and their peers from other gene-sects may form a pact to fight in the same location at the same time.
Claws are subdivided from these gene-sects, which normally include several hundred individuals. Claws usually consist of fifty to a hundred warriors who are recruited for specialized tasks and are assembled and dispersed according to the cult’s requirements and coordinated assault. Claws will be led by at least one figure who will guide them through their goal, and each Magus and Primus will have a number of claws at their disposal, ranging from humanoid Neophyte groups to monster Aberrant broods that are undeniably alien.
When the cult has grown to the point where it feels safe enough to send out a Genestealer cult – or even an entire brood – to find fresh prey, it sends out a Genestealer cult – or even an entire brood – to find new prey. These will either come from the First Curse, the first brood to make planetfall, or the Purestrain Genestealers of a brood cycle’s fifth generation. If they discover another suitable population center on the same globe, these infection vectors will establish a new gene-sect, or a completely new infestation, if they reach a planet that can support a branch of the parent cult.
Genestealer Cults and Tyranids
Because the Patriarch’s psychic strength shines like a beacon in the Warp and is seen by the Tyranid Hive Fleets, Genestealers are basically the heralds of Tyranid invasions. The beacon increases stronger as the cult’s dominance over the world develops, signifying to the Tyranids the location of a biologically rich world. The world may already be in the hands of the genestealer cult, or torn apart by civil war between the cult and the residual free civilization, or at the very least crippled and filled with traitors, by the time the Hive Fleets arrive.
However, once the planet is discovered by the Hive Fleet, the cult’s fate is sealed, and all surviving members are swallowed along with the rest of the world. The Genestealer cults Patriarch and his Brood of Purestrain Genestealers will slaughter their own after the enemy unit is defeated. The Tyranid Hive Fleet harvests and consumes the Cults’ biomass.
The Tyranid is revered as a god by the Genestealer Cult.
Tyranid were frequently referred to as Star Children.
The Cult regards the arrival of the Hive Fleet as a long-awaited prophecy, with its arrival heralding their eternal ascension into the light. Once the Tyranids have taken control of their world, all the Genestealer Cults will battle zealously for the Tyranids, working in tandem with the Hive Mind.
Genestealer Cults in the Imperium
Even before it was discovered that Genestealers were Tyranids, their infiltration of human worlds posed a serious threat. A single Genestealer cultists or infected human on a planet can easily corrupt the whole human population of that world. The planet is doomed once a cult gains numerical advantage. The only rational choice at some time would be to sterilize the planet by extermination. The first known Genestealer Cult met by the Imperium occurred on Ghosar Quintus in 680.M41.
In warhammer 40k the Genestealers cults and their reproductive processes were initially misunderstood, and the threat they posed was grossly underestimated as the cult’s numbers grow . This altered as a result of research into the reproductive cycle and the aggressive proliferation that resulted from it. As the Imperium and the Inquisition gained a better understanding of Genestealer cults, minor signs could point to the existence of Genestealer cultists within human cultures. Space Marine forces or even Exterminatus might detect infiltrated planets and clear them of Genestealers cults and afflicted humans.
A cult is frequently misunderstood as a threat to the globe because its activities in gaining power are initially carried out in a subversive, non-violent manner. A Cult will bide its times for years, slowly acquiring control behind the scenes on an unexpected journey, multiplying its numbers. If the threat is recognized for what it is, however, the cult must resort to overt military action in order to survive. Outside threats to a Genestealer Cult’s grasp on a world, such as a Warp breach, Ork Waaagh!, or Hrud migration, will be met with violence.
Genestealer Cults thrive amid Imperial society’s destitute and oppressed, frequently appearing to be no more than a standard planetary insurgent group.
The Cultists are looking forward to the day when they will be free of the Imperium, which the Cult leadership claims will happen when the Star Children arrive. The Cult itself promotes this ideology, inciting generations of dissent and upheaval in preparation for their impending revolt.
- Darvon VI
- Ghosar Quintus
- Ichar IV
Known Imperial Genestealer Cults in Warhammer 40k 9th Edition
Though only six Genestealer cults have been formally documented by the Ordo Xenos, it appears that there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of cults in Ultima Segmentum alone, based on information provided by Ghosar Quintus .
Officially Documented Cults
- Cult of the Bladed Cog
- Cult of the Hive Cult
- Cult of the Innerwyrm
- Cult of the Pauper Princes
- Cult of the Rusted Claw
- Cult of the Twisted Helix
- Behemoid Undercult
- Blessed Raised
- Bringers of Enraptured Joy
- The Brotherhood
- Brotherhood of Distant Stars
- Burning Wyrm
- Claw of the Thirsting Wyrm
- Cult Hydraic
- Cult of Awoken Eyes
- Cult of the Blessed Wormlings
- Cult of the Cataclysm
- Cult of the Children
- Cult of the Chosen Sons
- Cult of the Devouring Earth
- Cult of the Elevated Siblings
- Cult of the Emperor’s Writhing Shadow
- Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor
- Cult of the Giving Claw
- Cult of the Purified Gene
- Cult of the Second Son
- Cult of the Shadow Spectres
- Cult of the Slithering Star
- Cult of the Star Kindred
- Cult of the Star Saviours
- Cult of the Starchosen
- Cult of the Toothed Coil
- Cult of the Twisted Claw
- Cult of the Voidbrood
- Cult Tendricul
- Cult Tenebrous
- Cult Veridian
- Cytos Cartel
- Disciples of the Bleeding Star
- Glatchian Creed
- Guild of Ash
- Order of the Wyrm
- Petitioners of the Frugal Saints
- Sons of Jormungandr
- Wyrms of the Ur-Tendril
Genestealer Cults in xenos societies
Genestealers aren’t only confined to infecting humans; they can infect almost any race or species, even Orks. Broods within a society like Orks, on the other hand, are rarely large or long-lasting due to the Orkoid species’ unique life cycle and exceedingly intolerant social structure. Orks can also detect a flaw in people who have been infected, which irritates them.
In fact, Orks appear to be unpopular hosts who are largely used as a stopgap measure until more worthwhile victims become available. Infections that steal genes can only thrive in huge, largely open cultures like humanity’s. When Genestealer Cults proliferate across Ork villages, such as during the Xenos War, they can wreak catastrophic harm. Genestealer activity has also been spotted on the Tau Empire’s Sept of Ksi’m’yen, yet infection by Genestealers is difficult due to the Tau’s link to their Ethereal Caste.
The Kroot have also been known to get infected, however they are normally able to avoid sick individuals because to their ability to detect pheromones and the Shapers’ expertise in steering their evolution
Genestealers have been known to establish colonies among the Eldar as well, such as on the lost Craftworld Zaisuthra, however the Eldar’s extremely long gestation durations make them unsuitable hosts. Genestealer colonies have also been found among the Greet and Tarellians, though these species have not fared as well as humans as hosts.
Genestealers first appeared in Warhammer 40,000: First Edition. Though Genestealers may infect and multiply with any type of creature at the time, purestrain Genestealers could only come from the infection of a Csith. Because a host died with the “birth” of the hybrid-genestealer, there was no Genestealer cult.
The Genestealers and their offspring were reimagined as cult-like communities of Genestealers, hybrids, and fully human Brood Brothers, with a strict hierarchy and a complicated and unique generation cycle, following the release of the board game Space Hulk and extensive articles in White Dwarf issues 114, 115, and 116. They posed a nefarious menace to the Imperium, infecting it from the inside and spreading like a virus. By worshiping Chaos, these Genestealer Clans may become “Genestealer Cults.” Beastmen, mutants, and daemons were among the army’s Chaos cults.
The Genestealer cults were affiliated with the Tyranids in the board game Advanced Space Crusade, and their infiltration now functioned as a prelude to a Hive Fleet invasion. This variant is still in use today, and it has resulted in a reduction in the role of Genestealer cult icon forces in Warhammer 40,000. While they were still a separate army and an additional force list in Codex: Tyranids (2nd Edition) in the Second Edition, the Genestealer cult army only debuted in the Citadel Journal (40 and 41) in the Third Edition as a semi-official Chapter Approved army list prepared by Tim Huckelbery.
Genestealer Cult was re-released in February 2016 as part of the board game Deathwatch: Overkill by Games Workshop. With the introduction of the new Genestealer cults codex, they were officially incorporated into Warhammer 40,000.