Corpse Grinder Cults
"It is better that the masses do not know the truth behind what they consume; for many find their sanity overwhelmed by the necessity of our great work. That is what the Corpse Grinders are; weak-willed fools who have seen the truth and seek now comfort in the arms of heretics."
- – Quirinos,Mercator Pallidus
Corpse Grinder Cults are a faction within the Necromunda tabletop game, introduced in the 2019 splatbook Book of Ruin. They are a very specific kind of Chaos Cultist in that they are crazed cannibals that typically gravitate together out of the shared madness of realizing that the primary food source on the Hive World is other people.
While they appear to devote themselves to Khorne, it likely that their patron is rather a powerful daemon of Khorne acting under various other guises such as the Lord of Meat or the Lord of Skin and Sinew.
Corpse Grinders are not new to the world of Necromunda, they arise with regular frequency, in part due to the nature of hive living. Fresh food is a rarity, and agriculture is unknown on polluted hive worlds. Imperial sanctioned Corpse Guilds are legally entitled to collect the bodies of the dead and recycle them into more useful materials, such as "Corpse Starch" or Soylens Viridiens.
The knowledge that you are eating your former colleagues and loved ones is often too much for many to handle, and hacking apart bodies to make burgers 12 hours a day is enough to make all but the strongest minds crack. Therefore tired and jaded members of the Corpse Guilds become the perfect candidates for charismatic demagogues to turn to the forces of Chaos.
This first Corpse Grinder cult arose before the world had even been fully brought under unified control, hinting that it may go as far back as the Great Crusade during a period called the Great Road War. An Ash-Rider called Waz Bonepicker managed to unify various clans under the cannibalistic direction of the Lord of Meat before he was put down, though many cults have risen and fallen since then, nearly all record of these uprisings has been brutally scrubbed from existence in order to conceal their presence from the Imperium.
Rumours still persist, particularly in the ash-wastes which are further from suppression of the Imperium, that the "Lord of Skin and Sinew" has walked the surface of Necromunda before, or that he might be a powerful daemon that is somehow tied to the planet, seeking its escape or to be given the opportunity to transform the world into something else entirely.
Despite the grimdark inevitability of eating the processed remains of your fellow citizens leading to madness, it still takes one spark to ignite the rebellion of a Corpse Grinder cult.
It tends to start with one individual who will later be known as the Harvest Lord. These individuals, either by listening to the whispering voices in their head, or through the desperate pains of hunger, will succumb to the cannibal madness and forgo waiting for the final product and start eating raw flesh. The high protein diet of their former friends allowing them to become stronger than normal, but only enticing them to become hungrier and hungrier and seeking out new sources of food. Shortly afterward, they will share the revelation that "fresh food makes you healthy" with trusted individuals, and eventually a cult begins to form around them, starting to revel in the meat-eating practices. Such cults grow and grow, with the ego and power of their leader only growing with them, with the eventual end-point of the Harvest Lord becoming directly possessed by their mysterious patron and becoming the living embodiment of the "Lord of Meat".
Beneath the Harvest Lord will be any number of Butchers who lead splinter sects of their own, and may or may not be closer to the truth of their connection to the malign forces of Chaos. Beneath them sit the Cutters, then Skinners, then Initiates. As members of the Corpse Guilds, they would have been forced to wear masks as part of their daily duties, in order to stop them from becoming tempted by the promise of fresh meat. Clearly such precautions failed, and so with each division in the cult, they decorate their masks to signify their proximity in rank from the leader and to act as tools of intimidation when they eventually declare themselves.
Eventually the illicit whispers grow into impatient screams of MORE MEAT!! and they finally make themselves public. At this point the followers would have grown in number to a threatening uprising, and their members grown strong on their diets of fresh meat, and armed with various cutting and sawing tools, making them a force to be reckoned with.
Their main limiting factor being the fact that they are mostly a collection of madmen who eschew ranged weapons, with only the lowest and "sanest" members actually remembering how triggers work.
Eightfold Harvest Lord
Perhaps the most infamous member Necromundan Corpse Grinder cults. It is believed that "it is no longer -or ever was- human, more of a vicious "thing" than a mortal person. It is drawn towards sites of murder, its arrival always precedes times of starvation, terror, and cannibalism. It appears as a tall, powerful figure wrapped in spikes and strips of human skin, with bladed fingers and wrist mounted chain-cleavers.
Its existence is a potential indicator that the so-called "Lord of Meat" is not necessarily a daemon of Khorne; or more likely considering that most denizens of the Imperium are utterly ignorant of the nature of Chaos gods at all, that the Corpse Grinders do not fully understand or care to differentiate between the manifold divisions of Chaos. The Eightfold Harvest Lord quite comfortably associates with chaos cultist of all shades on the tabletop.
Corpse Grinders are a very melee-centric gang, with universal access to the Combat, Brawn and Ferocity trees. Additionally, only the Juves may be equipped with any sort of ranged weapon. The rest of the gang have to make do with melee weapons only unless they want to hire some Hangers-on temporarily. During campaign games they are also always counted as Outlaw, which immediately restricts from taking certain options.
The trade off is that each type of gang member a special rule as default, with Initiates (Juves) gaining Infiltrate, Skinners (Gangers) get Berserker as well as ALWAYS counting as specialists to gain access to more skills. Their Cutters (Champions) get Dervish, allowing for 360 degree attack arcs, while Butchers (Leaders) gain First to the Fray to add D6 to their charge distances. The gang also gets exclusive access to the "Savagery" talent tree, which amplifies their melee potential, and potentially heals them or makes them more effective as they cause more and more unsaved wounds.