This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (September 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Genestealers (Corporaptor hominii) are an alien species in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and the opponents of the marines in the Space Hulk board game. In more recent versions of that universe, Genestealers are a biological subgroup of the Tyranids, a nomadic alien race comprising many genetically engineered forms.
In 4th Edition of the wargame, there are two subgroups of the Genestealers: the Broodlord and the Genestealer. In the 2nd Edition of the game, there are five subgroups, representing the Genestealer Cult variant army: Genestealer Patriarchs, Genestealer Magus, Genestealers, Genestealer Hybrids, and Brood Brothers. For information concerning biomorphs and other mutable genetic characters of the Genestealers in the game, see Tyranid.
Genestealers first appeared in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1987), which was the first edition of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, written by Rick Priestley. Although the Tyranids also made their first appearance in this book, they and the genestealers were not related at that point. The genestealers, at this stage, were based on the monster in the movie Alien (1979). Like that monster, genestealers procreate by laying an egg in the body of a host animal, which will then tear its way out upon finishing gestation. The newborn genestealer will inherit certain genetic traits from the host, hence the name "genestealer". The genestealer in this edition had a head resembling that of a lamprey.
In White Dwarf #114 (June 1989), the genestealers' nature was revised, taking inspiration instead from H. P. Lovecraft's short story The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Instead of implanting a literal egg in a victim, they instead implant an organ that modifies the victim's genome such that he or she will sire human-genestealer hybrid children. These hybrids then form "genestealer cults", through which they gain political influence and find new hosts to infect. The genestealer's face was also modified to be more human-like. These changes were the idea of Bryan Ansell.
1989 also saw the first edition of the tabletop game Space Hulk. The game attempted to replicate the experience of the movie Aliens (1986) by having Space Marines battle genestealers within the confines of a derelict spaceship.
In an article in White Dwarf #145 (1992), the genestealers were made part of the Tyranid race, allowing players to use genestealer models in Warhammer 40,000 as part of a Tyranid army.
Tabletop game mechanics
In some editions of the Warhammer 40,000, genestealers can only be used as auxiliaries to a regular Tyranid army, but in the latest edition (8th) they can be played as a separate army. Although there is a dedicated line of genestealer models, a player can also use units from the Imperial Guard (a sub-faction of the Imperium) in his genestealer army. This is an exception to the common-faction rule and is based on the logic that these "human" units are actually genestealer hybrids who look perfectly human. Like Tyranids, genestealers are hard-hitting but fragile. All infantry have a trait called "Cult Ambush" that allows them to deploy anywhere on the battlefield instead of just the designated starting zones (similar to the Space Marines' "Deep Strike" ability).
Genestealers (the purestrain kind) are the antagonists of the tabletop game Space Hulk. Much like in the miniature wargame, they are hard-hitting but frail. Gameplay in Space Hulk revolves around a squad of Space Marines fighting off waves of genestealers as they make their way to their objective.
The biology of genestealers has undergone heavy revision over the years as Games Workshop developed the concept from their original appearance as wild animals to their current status as a Tyranid hive fleet component.
The original "genestealer" is closest in appearance and ability to what is now called a "purestrain genestealer." It is a roughly human-sized, six limbed creature possessing incredible strength, speed and durability. At melee range, purestrain genestealers can best nearly any opponents in the W40K universe. Unless they have the advantage of vast numbers, genestealers favor stealth and ambush tactics. Purestrain genestealers are depicted as being extremely intelligent for animals, but lack the ability to use tools or engage in speech. Genestealers, like all tyranids, are capable of telepathic communication with one another within a limited range.
Due to the human-centric nature of most W40K fiction, most genestealer infestations that have been depicted thus far have occurred on purely human worlds. Despite this, there is evidence that non-human species can be infected in an identical fashion. In the Ciaphas Cain novel "For the Emperor," it is strongly suggested that Tau can be infected in an identical fashion to humans. Furthermore, in another Ciaphas Cain novel "The Emperor's Finest" infected Orks are described protecting a genestealer hibernaculum.
In current canon, small numbers of genestealers are infiltrated on to worlds populated by sentient humanoid species to prepare the worlds for invasion by a Tyranid hive fleet. These genestealers are "pure strain" and thus capable of using their sharp tongues as an ovipositor to insert a "seed" into the host's body. The "seed" immediately alters the host to suppress any memory of the infection. It also alters the host so that they will have a strong urge to reproduce and to protect whatever children are subsequently born. Unfortunately, the "seed" also alters the host so that any children born are monsters strongly resembling the original genestealer. These infected humans also become psychically linked to one another and to the genestealers.
All genestealer-infected humans produce what are known as "genestealer hybrids." Hybrids reproduce like the host species and produce more hybrids. With each subsequent generation, the hybrids become less and less like purestrain genestealers in appearance. The first generation is depicted as slightly more intelligent than purestrain genestealers and only slightly less physically powerful. A 4th generation hybrid is nearly human in appearance and intelligence. Unfortunately, when 4th generation hybrids reproduce, they produce only purestrain genestealers. These genestealers can continue the process by infecting non-infected humans.
All hybrids, regardless of generation, share the tyranid psychic link of the original genestealers and this psychic link provides the communication network for the genestealer cult as it grows. As the fourth generation begins reproducing, the number of purestrains (and the number of newly infected humans) rapidly increases. The psychic traffic between the many members of the cult and their purestrain genestealer descendants increases drastically at this point. Beyond a certain threshold, this intense psychic activity draws the attention of any nearby Tyranid hive fleets, who will set course for the world to consume it. Just prior to the arrival of the hive fleet, the genestealer cult (by now in direct psychic contact with the hive fleet) will engage in widespread rebellion and sabotage to weaken any defense the world might undertake against the fleet. If this is successful, the genestealer cult ends up being consumed by the hive fleet along with all life on the planet.
Imperial response to Genestealers
The Imperial response to genestealer infestation is often used as storytelling device to illustrate the ruthless and brutal nature of 41st millennium humanity. It also frequently serves to justify that ruthlessness and brutality as a rational response to the threat that the Tyranids represent.
The typical Imperial response to discovering signs of a genestealer infestation is to hunt down and kill all genestealers, hybrids and infected humans. The authorities then institute strict screening measures for detecting newly infected humans and quickly kill any that are found. If the infestation was widespread before discovery, the entire sector is then typically put on alert for impending Tyranid attack.
If the infestation is too widespread to eradicate, the typical response is to write off the uninfected human population and use orbital bombardment to wipe out the infestation wholesale. If the entire planet falls (whether to a genestealer cult insurrection or the inevitable arrival of a hive fleet) the entire planet is laid waste in an Exterminatus.
The most recent Genestealer Cult was released in September 2016. It was released with 4 exclusive web store offers. Prior to this, the last published version was announced in Citadel Journal and was released for the 3rd edition Warhammer 40k. As such it is outdated and not tournament legal; however, due to the similarity of the 3rd and 4th edition rules for Warhammer 40k it was still usable with the latter edition. Some players preferred to use the Lost and the Damned army list to represent a Genestealer Cult, with Traitor Guardsmen representing Brood Brothers and Mutants representing Genestealer Hybrids. Others have tried to modify the Imperial Guard list using the Doctrines rule to mimic the Genestealer cult. In the more recent 5th edition of Warhammer 40k, the Doctrines rules and Lost and the Damned rules are no longer present, leaving the Imperial Guard codex as the last viable rules set to use.
- Kelly, Phil; Chambers, Andy (2004). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Tyranids (3rd ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-650-X. Search this book on
- Chambers, Andy. Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Tyranids (1st ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-90-2. Search this book on
- Priestley, Rick (1992). Rogue Trader. Eastwood: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-872372-27-9. Search this book on
This article "Genestealer" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Genestealer. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.