The Pauper Princes are a Genestealer Cult that originated in the coastal slums of the world of Chancer's Vale. Its members are highly religious and zealous fanatics who believe in ill-defined alien gods known as the "Star Children." Pauper Princes cultists are willing to make almost inhuman sacrifices at a personal level to spread their faith.
The Pauper Princes believe that greatness can only be found in self-sacrifice and humility. Zealous to the point of mania, they bring the edifice of the Imperium of Man low to ensure the new order can thrive -- even if it costs every life save for that of their sacred messiah known as the "Star Saviour," the cult's Genestealer Patriarch.
The Pauper Princes have spread far beyond their "holy land" of Chancer's Vale to many other worlds in the galaxy. The most important of these was the Sentinel World of Vigilus, where the Pauper Princes were one of the key combatants in the War of Beasts after the opening of the Great Rift.
The Pauper Princes are devoted worshippers of the Star Children, xenoform gods from beyond that are only ever referred to in veiled terms and vague, implied concepts. They also revere their own prophets and living saints, who they protect with fierce dedication. They are selfless to an almost alien degree, so faithful to their creed that they will gladly take a bullet for those closer to the Patriarch than they.
They never hesitate to give their lives to protect their war leaders. This self-sacrifice, this utmost loyalty, is not enforced so much as inspired -- for the martyrdom of their first Magus sent ripples throughout the cult's collective psyche that define its members hundreds of Terran years later.
The Pauper Princes originally hailed from the ochre-hued Imperial slum world of Chancer's Vale, which although still listed as an Imperial-held planet is almost entirely under the cult's sway. Much of the populace lives in the squalid shanty towns that pepper the coasts, their skin badly desiccated by the constant mining of minerals from its barren seas.
The planet exports millions of tonnes of saline cubes every year to those planets in the same sector that have no seas of their own; these are used for scores of purposes, from curing meat to the preparation of healing salves. Those of the Pauper Princes who hail from Chancer's Vale have a wrinkled, pale cast to their skin -- an appearance that marks them out as blessed scions of the holy land to those who have colonised other worlds in the cult's name.
Such is the deprivation and abject poverty of Chancer's Vale that many of its people originally joined the cult not because they were forced to by coercion or the Genestealer's Kiss, but because they were desperate for a way off the planet. Word had spread that there was an offshoot of the Imperial Cult thriving in the principal spaceport of Senfarr -- though the source of its formation, the Purestrain Genestealer that still made its lair on the super-barge Just Strength, remained secret.
From the Just Strength came a cult which preached hope, solidarity and new beginnings, an intoxicating mixture to the downtrodden and desperate population of the planet's searing coasts.
The first and most talented demagogue of the cult, Magus Marovitch Tenndarc, spoke with such conviction about a new life amongst the stars that thousands fell under his sway in the space of a few short solar weeks. Swathes of the world's populace united in their devotion to the Star Saviour.
Every Emperor's Day, the Magus sermonised to rapturous applause about the glories to come. Tenndarc died saving the Star Saviour himself -- the cult's Patriarch -- by diving in front of a Ratling sniper's bullet. The Abhuman assassin was torn to pieces within the solar hour, Tenndarc attained the status of saint, and the cult's flock quadrupled in size overnight.
Since that day the cult has had a fierce hatred of Ratlings, and in any war zone that harbours these diminutive Imperial Guardsmen, they will go to great lengths to destroy them -- for that which nearly killed their Patriarch may one day finish the job, and this they cannot allow.
If any cult embodies the unthinking obedience of the Broodmind, it is the Cult of the Pauper Princes. The zealots of the cult would do literally anything to save their masters. There are reports in Ordo Xenos files of a hundred extreme incidences of self-sacrifice, some so shocking they seem more like the behaviour of an insectile hive than a group of humans.
There are pictfeeds of mutant hybrids running through promethium fires to hurl themselves into the path of oncoming Primaris Space Marine Aggressor Squads, purely to buy their war leaders a few more seconds to escape. There are reports of Neophyte Hybrids making dense walls out of their own bodies in front of their cult leaders, acting as living sandbags to soak up the phosphor bullets of a war clade of Kastelan Robots without emitting a single scream of pain.
There is even grainy footage of Pauper Princes making mass charges against the giant spiked rams of Ork Bonebreaka wagons so as to jam up their workings and protect their Patriarch -- only for the alpha predator to skitter nimbly up the side of a building without looking back.
It is near-impossible to bring the tactic of military decapitation to bear against this cult, for it has a strange prescience when it comes to danger, especially when the heart of its dark organisation is threatened. With their war leaders living what amounts to charmed lives as a result, their extreme methods have proved to be incredibly successful.
As they say amongst the faithful flock, to be one of the Pauper Princes is to live forever -- though none admit that it may not always be in the same body, or even anatomy, as that of their birthright.
War of Beasts
The Pauper Princes tell one another they are blessed with an uncanny prescience, and on numerous occasions that claim to having a sixth sense has been borne out. On the wartorn planet of Vigilus, at the northern end of the Nachmund Gauntlet, the Pauper Princes had worked for generations to infiltrate every stratum of society.
Though teams of Adeptus Arbites and even elements of the Inquisition had delved into the darkest corners of the world after rumours and reports of disappearances far surpassed the usual threshold, the Genestealer Cult always stayed one step ahead -- or at least camouflaged itself so well amongst the populace that they continued their vile agenda without serious hindrance.
The Patriarch of that planetary infestation, known as "Grandsire Wurm" to his faithful worshippers, was so adept at evading pursuit or discovery that it was claimed by his cultists he was as intangible as mist, and could shift from one shadow to another at will. Grandsire Wurm had made its primary home under the surface of the continent Megaborealis and began spreading its infection among Vigilus' population.
When a sudden invasion of Orks from within the Great Rift threatened to capsize the Vigilus insurgency before it had truly begun, the Genestealer Cultists found themselves fighting to defend the very holdings they had worked so long to undermine. All they had fought for, all they had planned, would be in tatters if they allowed the Greenskin menace to overtake the surface world -- for the Orks of this so-called SPEEDWAAAGH! had capitalised on the planet's vulnerability during the Noctis Aeterna to conquer the wastelands and invade the fringes of the hivesprawls that formed every civilised region.
What began as a devastating but relatively straightforward invasion soon turned into a complex and many-layered war on all fronts, a conflict remembered as the War of Beasts. The Pauper Princes took control of Dirkden Hivesprawl and even gene-poisoned many of the Hollows, giant reservoirs from whence much of the arid planet's water supply was drawn.
Wheels within wheels and plans within plans saw the cult's creed reach the highest echelons of society, even infecting the Adeptus Ministorum of Saint's Haven and the ruling Aquilarian Council. Only the intervention of Chapter Master Marneus Calgar's Ultramarines brought the planet back from the brink of disaster -- yet the Pauper Princes had already spread, infesting the planet's moon before venturing further afield.
- Claw of the Thirsting Wyrm - The Claw of the Thirsting Wyrm is a gene-sect of the Pauper Princes that was active on Vigilus during the War of Beasts. For many Terran years, this gene-sect had been thriving in the shadows of Vigilus. Having taken root in the subterranean depths below the militarised reservoir known as Greigan Hollow, many of their number had never seen the sky before their bloody uprising brought them to the planet's surface. Unbeknownst to the Vigilite defenders, the threat posed by the Ork WAAAGH! that attacked the world's hivesprawls had directly forced the cult's hand, for their long-planned time to rise was still a few solar months off. Despite the initial successes achieved by roving Kill-teams of Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii sent to counter these new attacks, every attempt to track the Genestealer Cultist threat to its source met with failure. Assailed by xenos from without and within, the Aquiliarian Council that governed Vigilus eventually sent out a desperate call for aid that initiated the next phase of the War of Beasts.
- Devoted Sons - The Devoted Sons were one of the cult's gene-sects involved in the War of Beasts on Vigilus.
- Writhing Wyrm - The Writhing Wyrm was a gene-sect of the Pauper Princes that participated in the War of Beasts. During that conflict, hybrids of this faction managed to steal a Vortex Missile and detonate it near the Warlord-class Titan Dominus Rex of the Legio Ferroxus. The explosion of the Battle Titan was so great that a chain reaction was triggered that destroyed all of the other Ferroxus Titans alongside the Dominus Rex.
- Glatchian Gene-Sect - The Glatchian Gene-Sect is an offshoot of the Pauper Princes that was founded on the world of Isis V in the late 41st Millennium by a Genestealer Patriarch known as the 'King Below." It is led into combat by the Primus Dodren Glatch and his Acolyte Iconward brother, Thriver Glatch. The force includes many Acolyte Hybrids and Neophyte Hybrids, a solid core of infantry that is capable of claiming critical objectives whilst engaging enemy hordes and even war machines if necessary. It strikes from ambush whenever it can, making swift use of the short-range weapons available to it without having to trudge across the field first. The war leaders commune with the more specialist elements of the force -- those being the outriders led by the intrepid biker Quessa Glatch-Jandeer, the inhuman force of Aberrants and Purestrain Genestealers that follow the Abominant known as the Lumberglatch, and Magus Vendarc. Vendarc goes to war accompanied by his personal aides -- the Nexos Hostud Half-Glatch, who swiftly adapts the cult's plans of conquest should unforeseen events occur; the Clamavus Jeere Vanderglatch, who communicates his orders; his bodyguard Irrix of the Twin Blades; and the infamous Kelermorph, Malachus. The Brood Brothers won over to the cult's side by Vendarc's wiles are there to bulk out the force with heavy armour and reconnaissance assets, and have turned the tide in many a battle. But in all likelihood the critical victory will be won by the cult's Patriarch, the King Below -- at close quarters, this xenos beast is all but unstoppable.
- Codex: Genstealer Cults (8th Edition), pp. 28-29, 76-77
- Codex: Genestealer Cults (7th Edition), pp. 19, 51
- Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Defiant (8th Edition), pp. 1-21, 30, 111