Scum’s Thoughts – Part 3

On Friday Games Workshop, in one of their regular updates regarding Necromunda, announced that we’ll soon be seeing new models for the Cult of the Redemption. Admittedly what they wrote was more of a teaser, and the word Redemptionists was never actually used, but so little subtlety was employed that, to anyone familiar with the game or it’s setting, they might as well have announced “Redemptionists are coming soon” in twenty-foot tall letters of fire, fuelled by burning heretics.

Obviously I’m excited about this, the world of Necromunda is probably my absolute favourite aspect of Games Workshop’s various universes and the models that have been released so far have been uniformly excellent. The thought of seeing pyromaniac religious extremists thrown into the mix can only be a good thing in my book. We’ve yet to see any sign of actual models, beyond these two little snippets, but – without wanting to sound blindly fanboyish – I’m optimistic that they’ll maintain the high standard we’ve seen for the game so far.

Redemptionist Preview 1

For those readers who’re unfamiliar with the backstory of Necromunda the Cult of Redemption is a splinter of the Imperial Creed (the state religion of the 41st Millennium which holds that the Emperor of Mankind is the one true God, that heretics, mutants and aliens must be abhorred and that the orders of one’s superiors must be obeyed unquestioningly). The Cult of Redemption takes this a bit far, as they do with everything, adding that the End Times are upon us, that mankind is unworthy and that all are sinful and must be purged – but for a tiny minority of the righteous of course. Nowadays you can find the exact same people preaching their creed of hatred on Twitter, but by the 41st Millennium they’ll be venturing into the Underhive to bring the light of the Emperor to unbelievers. And when I say light I mean the kind that comes out the business end of a flamethrower or springs from a heretic’s pyre.

Redemptionist Preview 2

Late last year a “road map” of forthcoming releases was announced, with House of Faith, the expansion for House Cawdor, due to be released in the second quarter of this year. Given that the Redemption is the official religion of House Cawdor it’s impossible to see these things as anything other than intrinsically linked. As it stands I’ll surprised if the new models for House of Faith and the Redemptionists turn out to be anything other than one and the same.

Roadmap

I am curious however as to exactly how the appearance of these models is going to be handled. Redemptionists were one of the key factions of Necromunda in years gone by and since the relaunch of the game there have been plenty of people, myself included,  bumping our gums about exactly when they’d be making a return. Their popularity, and their intrinsic role in the setting, makes it hard for Games Workshop to push them onto the back burner forever. However the Redemptionists of old had a very distinctive aesthetic, and – to borrow a word from online activists – that look is “problematic”. If you’ve just joined the Cult of the Redemption and you want to make an impression, going out dressed in a long flowing robe and a tall pointed hood is an absolute must.

Redemptionists 3

I must confess, and here I know I’m showing my cultural bias, but I never really thought there was anything offensive about their look. Back in the early 2000’s when I first encountered them I just accepted them for what they were, mutant-hating, fire-starting bigoted bastards in big hoods. Then, a couple of years ago, Games Workshop previewed a new special character for House Cawdor – the Headsman.

Headsman 1

At the time I was a lot more connected to social media than I am now and I was struck by the response of the fanbase. In Europe the sentiment seemed to be “Oh cool, a new Redemptionist”. Here we had a modern interpretation of an established concept; a hooded executioner, which references the look of the Spanish Inquisition but transposed to the far future where he had ample time to indulge his hobbies of collecting candles and nooses and burning to death anyone he reckons is sinful. Across the pond in the United States however pearls were clutched and knickers were twisted as the fanbase reacted with horror. Some people were quite rude to me and others on Twitter for daring to think it was acceptable (mind you, everyone is rude to everyone else on Twitter all the time so there’s nothing particularly special about that). Clearly – a vocal element within the fanbase declared – Games Workshop were in league with the KKK. Games Workshop, presumably fearing what might happen to their profits if one of their largest marketplaces suddenly got it into their heads that the company had some kind of racist agenda, toned the model down a bit to create something a little more sensitive to the America customer before it was released.

Headsman Cawdor 2

Since that time of course news channels around the world have been dominated by the rise of violence, rioting and extremism in the United States, with race a key issue fanning the flames of division. Now it should go without saying, but alas I’d better say it anyway before someone writes in to tell me I’m a Nazi, that I’m staunchly opposed to racism and bigotry in all its forms and I find the actions and beliefs of the KKK and their ilk abhorrent. What’s more I’m conscious of the fact that Games Workshop are a global company and the US is the world’s largest economy so treading with care here is understandable, especially as that country undergoes what appears from the outside to be an almighty social upheaval. Add to that an increasing sensitivity to issues around race on both sides of the Atlantic (and beyond) and I pity the poor designer who must have worked on these models with representatives of the legal team hovering on one side of his desk and the PR department on the other. Meanwhile social media is rife with the kind of paranoid aggression and frothing rants that the Redemptionists themselves would approve of. Maintaining a public image in this climate is a delicate business and the Redemptionists are exactly the kind of models that could easily provoke outrage amongst those looking to be provoked. Honestly I’m worried that someone will decide they ought to “cancel” me with extreme prejudice just for acknowledging that this is an issue people are sensitive about. More and more it seems that, online at least, people are either walking on eggshells or spoiling for a fight. Calm discussion and the exchange of ideas is, like, soooo last decade.

Still, it’ll be a shame if the Redemptionists, when they do appear, stray far from the concepts of old. To me the Redemptionist models were amongst the best in the old Necromunda range and their aesthetic was particularly iconic. I would much prefer to see the old concepts reborn in the form of nice new kits rather than a redesign that strays too far from what came before. However here I find myself comparing them to the Ratskins, those tribal underhive natives who so often found themselves the victims of the Redemptionists’ purges – when they weren’t able to slip away into the darkness of course.

The Ratskins are a tribal people who, like the Redemptionists, had a range of models in old Necromunda but have yet to appear on tabletops of the new edition. Uniquely adapted to the underhive the Ratskins rely on sound and smell to track through the dark, hidden passageways and vaults deep beneath the hives. They worship the hive itself as a great spirit, care little for the world of the gangers and even less for the industry of Hive City and prefer to live peaceful lives in the dark depths. Some however get pushed that little bit too far by uphive gangers acting like dicks, or become addicted to the booze and drugs supplied by their more “civilised” neighbours and end up taking up arms and getting involved in the tabletop violence that we all know and love. After all a range of models that slips silently away through hidden passageways and avoids violence doesn’t make for the most exciting gaming opportunities.

Ratskin Art

The concept is cool and I’d love to see them brought back into the game but unlike the Redemptionists a revamp of their aesthetic really wouldn’t go amiss. Whilst the story of the Ratskins paints a picture of a unique tribal culture the models were pretty blatantly just Native Americans in space.

Ratskins

So why exactly would I like to see the Ratskins revamped and the Redemptionists brought back much as they once were? Partly it comes down to the fact that, much like the Space Wolves and their unashamed plagiarism of Viking culture, it’s hard for me to believe that a planet as toxic and industrialised as Necromunda would somehow produce carbon-copy Native Americans (especially as even on Earth Native Americans were not one homogenised culture). It breaks my sense of immersion in the setting to have to account for something so wildly out of place. The Redemptionists on the other hand feel a bit more like their own entity. Yes they borrow aesthetic elements from the Spanish Inquisition (something no-one was expecting) but they appear rooted in the 41st Millennium. The Ratskins meanwhile belong much more to the school of thought that gave us various 40k factions imported root-and-branch from modern and historical cultures; the previously mentioned Space Wolves and various Imperial Guard regiments foremost amongst them.

Then there’s the fact that the Redemptionists echo an uncomfortable truth – that bullies and religious extremists will always be with us. It is part of the human condition that some amongst us will allow hatred to define them, and will latch onto a creed or cause to justify the violence they crave. Whilst a world like Necromunda would be unlikely to miraculously produce Native Americans it would undoubtedly be full of those who, filled with bitterness at the hardship and oppression of their lives, would recognise in the preacher’s words a call to lash out against those unable to fight back.

Redemptionists 2

I opened this article with the idea in mind that the Redemptionists will appear as a bolt on to House Cawdor, and I stand by my theory that this is what we’re most likely to see in a few months time. There is, however, another option. The Redemption spreads far and wide on Necromunda and draws all kinds of individuals to its cause. House Cawdor may have embraced it wholeheartedly but there are plenty of others who fall under the sway of its hate-filled doctrine. Could we see the option to field a gang made up entirely of Redemptionists or would the new models, much like recent releases for the Goliaths, Eschers, Orlocks and Van Saar, only be available as champions in a gang which draws its rank and file from the Cawdor? Alternatively could we see something akin to the existing rules which allow for a gang to fall under the sway of a cult? Already we can modify a gang taken from one of the major houses so that they can devote themselves to one of the Chaos Gods, or become infested by a Genestealer Cult. Could we be so lucky as to see two new kits, one which brings new champions and prospects to House Cawdor gangs and one which builds Redemptionists which can then either be used to form purely Redemptionist gangs or to convert house gangs which have abandoned their old loyalties and devoted themselves to the fury of the Redemption? The latter seems overly optimistic but who knows, I certainly didn’t expect gangs of Slave Ogryns either.

Regardless of how things turn out I’m going to be watching this release with great interest. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to start a pyre…


33 responses to “Scum’s Thoughts – Part 3

  • gavroche

    Wow, I never saw that original version of the headsman. The hood was so much better. Luckily that’s easily fixed. I’m less enthusiastic about the collection of nooses around his neck. One’s enough for me. That would’ve been harder to remediate. So I guess with a just little personal conversion effort, it’s now possible to get the best of both 🙂

    • Wudugast

      Yeah, that was the version they show-cased originally, it was in one of their big previews back when they still did them at conventions (back when there were conventions!). The head and body are single solid piece unfortunately, I prefer to have the head separate just to make headswaps like this easier. Mind you if you’re feeling brave and you don’t mind digging in with a hobby knife and gouging it out it should be possible to remove it. Will be interesting to see what the alternative options are when the new kit arrives. 🙂

      • gavroche

        Hm. Inconvenient but not insurmountable. I’m not afraid of cutting up a miniature while converting 🙂 Still a separate head would have made things easier.

        Actually it looks like you don’t have to cut the existing head completely out. If you trim it, it might be possible to put a hood over it, either in greenstuff or in fabric treated with a textile hardener.

  • John@justneedsvarnish

    Not being a GW gamer (I know, I’ll no doubt burst into flames later) I enjoyed reading this! 🙂 It’ll no doubt be interesting to see what appears in time!

    • Wudugast

      Nah, you won’t catch on fire – GW do plenty of great stuff but so do lots of other companies. I seem to be painting a lot of GW stuff the last few years but there’s loads of other things I’d like to get around to as well, it’s just that there’s only so many hours in the day unfortunately. Anyway, glad you liked it, I always try to pitch these articles so that they’re readable for a non-fan as much as for a fan – not always an easy balance to strike and I know I often don’t get it quite right but I do my best. 🙂

      • theimperfectmodeller

        Nice post and enjoyable read. Funny how some people look at things so deeply. Maybe it’s me but all I saw was a figure! Next you know it’s a racism issue and everyone is walking on egg shells. We haven’t even reached the 41st Millennium and already people are writing their own agenda for it. Ome people need to get a grip, it’s a fantasy world and meant to be a fun hobby. Worrying to think you can chop heads off and disimbowel people left right and centre and nobody blinks an eye. Bizarre.

      • Wudugast

        Yeah, it’s a worrying time isn’t it? :-/ Some people just seem to see (or claim to see) hatred where none is intended. On the one hand I see some really bigoted, unpleasant people running around and on the other I see headlines saying that having the wrong hairstyle makes you a racist. It’s utter madness. I saw someone the other day trying to argue that using mathematics makes you a white supremacist. Like, what the actual fuck are these people on? A lot of them should have been told the story of the little boy who cried wolf when they were small and it troubles me, I see some very obnoxious people throwing their weight around and attacking people who we should all be defending, yet more and more people (myself included) are rolling our eyes and assuming it’s just yet another fuss about nothing. Some days I think we’ll be bloody lucky to make it to the 41st Millennium .

      • theimperfectmodeller

        When the rational people (I’m putting you and me in that group by the way just to be clear) start to roll their eyes in dismay then I feel we are in trouble. To be honest if I make the 40th millennium then the 41st can go to hell as far as I’m concerned! 😉

  • Alex

    Cracking read (as always) and I’m in full agreement re. both the Ratskins and the Redemptionists… The former need an overhaul, and while the latter are sadly all too plausible, I suspect that they will turn them down to be less controversial. Strange times when our pretend toy space baddies can’t look toooooo much like actual real-world baddies, but there it is… 🤔

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! To me, good science fiction and fantasy should be a proposition, it should let us play with ideas that we might not otherwise be comfortable with. It should help us to ask ourselves why we we’re uncomfortable with those things. Make it too uncontroversial and we deny ourselves that opportunity. Then again there’s plenty of things I wouldn’t necessarily want to expose myself to, especially in what’s supposed to be a fun hobby – if you want horror and despair just put on the news, our books, films and toy soldiers should be where we go to relax. In the end I see both sides of it. I’m hopeful that the models will be good and that they won’t shy away from looking at a healthy amount of darkness. I guess the key is going to be avoiding having too many preconceived ideas about how the Redemptionists should look, I think if I can go into this with an open mind I shouldn’t be disappointed.

  • Mark A. Morin

    Great thought-provoking post. I personally find the current thought police BS disgusting and at odds with liberty. If someone has an issue with me, we can have a discussion. Cancel culture is awful, and ironically it will come for those who push it and identity politics. Very much like the auto-consumption of the French Revolution. In any case, I liked the post a lot, and I’m no GW guy. Can’t we just post pictures of our painted toys after all!

    • Wudugast

      Preach brother! To me cancel culture and the whole “no debate” ethos is an abomination. For one thing it promotes an unattainable level of ideological purity, “goodness” by their metric can never achieved and no matter what we do, or how hard we try to comply, we will always fail. Once you fail you’re damned, so as a means of encouraging goodness through social pressure it always asks too much and forgives too little. Secondly by “cancelling” the achievements and discoveries of historical figures because they failed to live by a modern ethos rather than by that of their day they cut off the noses of current society to spite our collective faces, and leave us without access to the very thoughts and ideas we need to navigate these troubled times. Thirdly if I have an idea; debate it with me. If it’s good it’ll hold up to discussion, or we’ll find the weaknesses and improve on it. If it’s nonsense then a sensible discussion should see it abandoned. The only reason for “no debate” is if you have something to hide and you don’t want the inherent weaknesses and fallacies of your case to be exposed. Anyway, I shall get down off my political high-horse now and get back to painting, this hobby is supposed to be a refuge from the madness consuming society after all! 🙂

  • Kuribo

    This was a great read as always! I actually didn’t know about the Redemptionists but I really like the idea behind them and their design. They look very fanatical indeed! I’ll be curious to see how GW makes them look unique from the Warcry warband that is big into fire as well. In terms of their “hats,” the pointed hood thing is a funny thing. I agree that the look of them fits this faction well. However, I suspect that giving people a “canvas” to make them look like the KKK by simply painting the hoods white, even if it is done unintentionally by someone outside of the US, is just more trouble than it is worth to GW. They don’t want to provoke arguments online, at tournaments, and even in pick up games because of that. As a result, I tend to think that it would be best to avoid it and they can change the head to more of executioner’s hood, for example, which will be familiar and not offend anyone.

    I didn’t really understand or even know the Ratskins so I appreciated reading about them too. They sound like a pretty cool faction and I wonder if GW can tone down the Native American influence a bit and still have a pretty cool group of minis there. I hope so!

    I saw these articles on GW’s site this week and didn’t really understand them and I have to admit, I’m more curious and interested in seeing what the models look like now thanks to your article 🙂

    • Wudugast

      Thank you – I’m still working on slowly but surely luring you into Necromunda so I consider your introduction to the Redemptionists and the Ratskins another step towards that goal!

      I think you’re right, the potential real world controversies of making the Redemptionists look too Klannish, even accidentally, probably isn’t worth the risk. I remember seeing a guy in the States talking about the Headsman when he was first shown and he said “I know he’s a Redemptionist, you know he’s a Redemptionist, but I’m going to get really tired, really quickly, of explaining to my non-hobbyists friends that no, I’m not painting a member of the KKK”. I get that entirely. A good mate of mine is getting into his WW2 gaming and keeps trying to lure me in, which will probably happen once Covid is over and we’re able to meet up regularly again. He’s putting together a big collection of Americans and Brits so it would make sense for me to choose a force that fought against them but my options are limited because I just can’t bring myself to paint the Nazi’s. It’s not that I think there’s something inherently bad or evil about painting model Nazis, they’re just little bits of lead after all, but having to justify it to anyone who saw it would get tiring, and I think there would be an understandable degree of judgment passed. In the end it just seems easier to pick a different faction instead.

      As for the Ratskins it would be so easy to reinvent them as something really cool, just by dropping the lazy Native American clichés. I’m hopeful we’ll see them come back in time but I suspect we’ll see some more new factions first.

  • Adeo

    I was really excited when I saw this on WarCom and was going to blog about it, but you’ve saved me the trouble! The only two gangs I had for Necromunda in ’96 were the Ratskins and the Redemptionists. We all (at least in my local GW) saw the troublesome aspects of them back then, especially the semiotics, but they were really cool gangs. I’d like to see them both back.

    • Wudugast

      Aye, I think it’d be disingenuous to pretend that I didn’t see the troublesome aspects back then but I was a teenager and it was cool to be edgy! I’d love to see them both brought back, and as many new gangs and factions as possible whilst they’re about it. Basically if they can keep making more Necromunda I’ll keep buying it, I’m an addict and I’m not ashamed to admit it! 😀

  • Pete S/ SP

    Great post- you bring up some interesting things… I’m happy waiting… be ages until the club opens up again anyway.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

  • imperialrebelork

    Great post. I much prefer the original headsmen. Sorry to hear people were rude to you on social media but yeah it’s social media. Everyone thinks they’re a hero.

    • Wudugast

      Aye, that’s just the way social media is unfortunately. It does some pretty unhealthy things to our brains to be on display to so many people, and sadly for a lot of people that encourages them to be arseholes. Don’t worry, I’m fairly thick skinned, somebody getting aggressive at me in real life is a problem – someone calling me nasty names from half the world away I can usually handle. 🙂

  • J M Duke

    “Clearly – a vocal element within the fanbase declared – Games Workshop were in league with the KKK.” 🤣

    Great post!

    • Wudugast

      Cheers! Aye, some people really do overreact don’t they, especially on social media. I think they think that if they’re not catastrophizing they’re not really living.

      • J M Duke

        The type who busy themselves with creating armies of straw men to fight, because they don’t have the courage to deal with reality. If only they would leave the rest of us in peace.

      • Wudugast

        Yup. Who would have thought that a blog for adults who play with toy soldiers would be a last bastion for people willing to deal with reality 😂

  • Fran

    Praise be to the Emperor!
    My money is on champion/jyve kit with eviscerators and stuff plus an armament upgrade with the extrrminators

    • Wudugast

      Aye, that seems like the likely option. Interesting that they’ve rolled the Redemptionists into Cawdor entirely though (assuming that’s the case and they haven’t sent us on a wild goose chase). Can’t wait to see the models either way, I need more fanatics to join my crusade – the Underhive isn’t going to purge itself after all!

  • Jack Wells

    What box is that last image from? Looks much more up to date than the classic Redemptionists

    • Wudugast

      They are indeed the second incarnation of the Redemptionists, produced in the early 2000s if my memory serves, back when Specialist Games was called Fanatic. To my eye these are the closest in appearance to how I imagine Redemptionists to look. Alas I was too poor and foolish to buy them back then and they’re painfully pricey whenever I’ve seen them recently. I still dream of getting my hands on some sooner or later though.

      • Jack Wells

        Yeah these are the ones I remember the most. I nearly got these back in the day but didn’t. Everything I see on ebay seems to be the original versions

  • Joseph

    Could someone point me to those old metal fanatics shown at the end, they are very cool and fit in with my old metal Redemptionist Gang.. would love to get my hands on a set

    • Wudugast

      If I knew where to get a set I’d tell you. Actually, that’s a lie – if I knew where to get a set I’d buy it myself, if I knew where to get a second set I’d tell you! 😉 Worth keeping an eye on ebay, they show up from time to time although they tend to be a bit pricy for my wallet sadly. I wish GW would do them on made to order but I have my doubts that’ll happen. 

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