Genestealer Cultists are a cunning, resilient lot. Infestations of cultists spread like wildfire and can become hard to root out without virus bombing a world back to the Siderian period. Here’s why they’re so perniciously tenacious.
The Genestealer Cultists are among the most persistent of enemies that the Tyranids face. They are an excellent example of how treasonous thought, if left to fester, can lead to the utter ruination of the civilization that you have come to enjoy. Even a single Genestealer can grow and create a festering mire of infectious sedition that can turn an entire planet into a weapon in service of the Great Devourers. But fear not Loremasters, for once the Genestealer Cultist threat is understood, you can begin to root them out. It all begins with the Xenos that give this heretical cult its name, Genestealers.
Genestealers form the first wave of a Tyranid invasion, either infiltrating a suitable world hundreds of years before the actual invasion, or in the more short term, where they are deployed onto a planet by Mycetic Spores from the hive fleet. In both cases they pave the way for the invasion by weakening the planet’s defenses.
Once upon a new world, the Genestealers seek out all forms of life, attempting to home in on species of a highly organised nature. Genestealers at first concentrate on infecting host victims, who go on to breed Genestealer/host hybrids and begin a generational cycle of new hybrids increasingly like the host species. Over decades, the hybrids will spread through a society and a hidden cult is established within the host’s society. All members of the Genestealer cult are psychically linked and controlled by the original Genestealer. The cult is totally devoted to gaining political power within the society, often cloaking itself in the guise of a legitimate religion, while infecting suitable hosts, prospering and multiplying, and hiding their true nature from the broader society
A full Genestealer starts the infection cycle by inserting their genetic material into a host victim. As the infestation spreads and the cult grows, the first Genestealer takes the role of a Genestealer Patriarch and often grows larger into an obese and psychic monstrosity.
But the Patriarch is just the beginning. The forms of the enemy are myriad, and knowing each of them will help you root out infected citizens from the normal, remember anyone acting suspiciously might be infected with Genestealer DNA, so be prepared to stop these seditious villains whatever shape they take. First up are the cultists known as Contagii–they are the first infected and are driven to make more cultists.
Infection Generation – Contagii
The host victims, or Contagii, return to their own societies and begin to have an urgent need to find a mate and begin a family. This mate also becomes infected with Genestealer DNA. Contagii still physically resemble other members of their species, though they may have a slight blue or mauve pallor to their skin and can be psychically controlled by the Patriach to become mindless slaves, making them the perfect infiltrators.
1st Generation – Maelignaci
As the contagii mate, the Genestealer genetic material passes onto their offspring, the Maelignaci, also known as Genestealer Acolytes. The Maelignaci are animals, slow, clumsy and moronic. Within the cult they generally regarded as expendable shock troops. They often possess three or even four arms, and are unable to use their host species technology or weaponry.
2nd Generation – Hybrid
The Hybrid offspring of the Maelignaci, still referred to as Acolytes are born unique with no two alike. However this generation can be selectively bred, using their parents like live-stock, and is often manipulated for traits such speed, strength or aggression. They bear more resemblance to their host species than a Genestealer, but are still unable to use their host’s technology.
3rd Generation – True Hybrid
The next generation are True Hybrids, and can be mistaken for a member of their host species, if they wear disguising clothes, or stay in dark areas, etc. Some of this generation are capable of using weapons of their host species
4th Generation – Primacii
The fourth generation, the Primacii or Neophytes are almost indistinguishable from their host species, only with slight physical deformities. Some still sport give-away signs such as being bald. They are able to blend in to the host society and work to lure, kidnap, or do whatever it takes to provide more hosts. Some rare individuals of this generation have psychic powers and become a Genestealer Magus or Genestealer Primus.
5th Generation – Primacii
Paradoxically, the Genestealer’s DNA reemerges in the fifth generation, giving birth to a full Genestealer, albeit one showing some physical characteristics of the host species. Thus the cycle can begin anew, as the new Genestealers have the potential to infiltrate other worlds and become a Patriarch.