"There are none above redemption at the end of a Chainsword. Should I fall, it is because it is my sublime reward to have been chosen for absolution by the God-Emperor."
- — Redeemer Cosler
A Redemptionist is a fanatical Priest of the Adeptus Ministorum who follows an extreme and unforgiving doctrine of the faith in which redemption in the eyes of the God-Emperor can only be found in death. Many Redemptionists seek their own redemption on the battlefield for the sins they have committed against the God-Emperor.
They also desire to bring redemption to others, finding one sin particularly offensive and seeking any opportunity to bring the Emperor's final judgement to xenos, Heretics or those who traffic with daemons. The Redemptionist movement first began on the Hive World of Necromunda, but has since spread to every corner of the galaxy.
The Imperial Creed is not a forgiving faith. Those who observe its doctrines in the strictest possible way know that redemption is only found in death. Redemptionists will often congregate in cults whose focus of hatred for a particular sin in the Emperor's eyes is similar. These cults are highly xenophobic and violent, and their members are sworn to expunge all sin with fire and blade. For some cults their focus of hatred is very limited: mutants, witches or aliens.
But for Redemptionists, sin exists in every creature, which can be purged only through bloodshed. A few Cardinals within the Ecclesiarchy see these cults as breeding grounds for assassins of the faith. They will provide the cults with resources as well as targets. Confessors or other clergy will often accompany them to document and bear witness to the faithful's campaigns of cleansing. Those Redemptionists who prove themselves competent or especially devoted are often recruited into the service of a Cardinal or into a cell of Inquisition Acolytes.
Although ostensibly pro-Imperial, such militant factions can often pose more of a threat to the Emperor's peace than the Heretics they seek to destroy. Their mob mentality and ability to rouse a populace into a frenzied witch hunt, blinded by its all-consuming need for the guilty and blasphemous to be cleansed, can cause serious problems to any planetary government, upsetting the precarious balance of power which allows a world to continue to exist in a galaxy that contains a thousand and one threats.
The task at hand is never truly done in the eyes of a Redemptionist, for when all of the xenos of an area have been purged then all those who aided them must also be purged. All those who failed to fight the xenos must then be purged, followed by all those who might fail in the future and so on, until everyone is prosecuted for the failure to prevent such heretical acts.
Planetary governments must often act quickly before the frenzied need to put the blasphemous to the pyre spreads. But Redemptionist cults can also be callously and cynically manipulated by individuals for their own agendas, and often act as a front for even more nefarious activities. Clever leaders will find new targets or crusades for their Redemptionist cults. More drastic means may also be utilised to control these cults, including condemning the members of a cult as Heretics themselves.
Inquisitors, especially those who are zealous Puritans, put such reactionary cults to productive purposes in Acolyte cells that lack either focus, faith or simply a large Chainsword capable of rendering an Ork or a Heretic in half. The Redemptionist is, however, only a man and is susceptible to many of the same depravities, confusions and wounds as any other man. Determination and faith do not make one invincible, and many die willingly for their cause. Flamers are the weapon of choice for such militant fanatics, as the Emperor is often symbolised as the cleansing fire in these cults' doctrine. Other than Flamers, spiked maces, whirling Chainaxes, Chainswords and other weapons which render and tear flesh in a scourging manner are also extremely popular among Redemptionists.
The Ludmillan Dictates
Archdeacon Ludmillan is a self-styled leader of the Redemption in the Calixis Sector, who has crushed those who oppose her with ruthless efficiency. To cement her spiritual rulership, Ludmillan released a number of dictates to which all those true and pure should adhere to:
- Red is the colour of Redemption; it is the colour of fire and blood.
- Do not consume narcotics, alcohol or other substances that give pleasure. They are sin given substance.
- Do not suffer the witch to live; cast them to the fire.
- Do not suffer the mutant to live; rend their flesh apart.
- Do not suffer the heretic for they have heard the Emperor’s truth and have heeded it not. Force them to penance and then to death.
- Should the Emperor’s service require you to appear as others, do so. The mask and red robes of Redemption must be donned when the time comes to set the sinner to their fate.
- When you take up the weapons of the Emperor, do not show your face. You are the Emperor’s tool and not on your own business.
- Pain is a gift: mortification is a duty that should be performed daily.
Becoming a Redemptionist
A strict adherence to the vengeful spirit of the Imperial Creed is the first step down the road to becoming a Redemptionist. Faithful communities from all across the Imperium of Man produce Redemptionists and their cults. It is possible for both men and women to be a member of one of these cults, perhaps coming from an Ecclesiarchical monastic community dedicated to zealous Redemptionist doctrines. It is equally likely that a Cardinal or Inquisitor had an individual trained as a Redemptionist from birth to serve in a specific capacity.
Redemptionist Cult Organisation
Redemptionist Cults often have a common hierarchy which can include some or all of the following components:
The Redemptor Priest is the lynchpin of any Redemptionist cult's Crusade to cleanse Heretics, xenos or witches. He is the inspirational figure the Brethren follow to test their faith. It is he who is greeted with rapture by the Redemptionist cult members and who commands their clandestine help. Only the words of a Redemptor priest can fire the fury in men's hearts or save unbelievers from their sinful existence.
The Deacons of a Redemptionist Cult attend to the secular affairs of the Crusade: silencing dissenters, controlling the crowds while the Redemptor priest preaches, protecting his person from defilers and so forth. Deacons are confirmed Brethren who are fanatically loyal to the Redemption cult and completely trustworthy in the Redemptor priesthood's eyes. Their faith is rewarded with a position of responsibility and the best weaponry.
Brethren make up the body of the Redemptionist cult, the great mass of supporters who have dedicated themselves to the path of righteousness. Confirmed brothers are those who have spent some time in the cult. Novices are often ordinary workers who have been brought into the cult after hearing the preaching of the Redemptor priest, and the senior members of the cult hope that their fanatic zeal will compensate for their lack of experience. Brethren are usually well armed but with simpler weapons than those available to the Redemptor priest or his Deacons.
Zealots are the crazed individuals present in Redemptionist cults who have been touched by the Emperor's fury. Zealots are so filled with bile and anger against those who would transgress the God-Emperor's will that they are in an almost permanent state of rage. They test their faith by plunging headlong into combat with the greatest sinners they can find. They even lash at themselves with whips and flails to savour the pain of purgation, but they would rather carve the path of redemption into their enemies' hearts. Zealots carry only pistols or close combat weapons, preferring their battle of faith to be fought face to face with the sinners. Zealots are most commonly armed with an Eviscerator, a giant, double-handed Chainsword fitted with an Exterminator flame cartridge, to slice and burn the unbelievers into charred lumps (for their own good, of course).
A Redemptionist cult sends units known as "Crusades" that are comprised of their most dedicated and fanatical brethren to purge sinners with the holy fires of battle. A Crusade is led by a Redemptor Priest who has the blessings of the cult's council or the hierarchy of the local Ministorum and is supplied with weapons and followers. A Crusade destroys abominations and battles Heretics as they find them. The Redemption priest will preach to the locals of wherever the cult happens to be located and reaffirm their faith while the cult's brethren take a tithe of their produce or "request" that they make a donation to the collection plate. Then (and only then) will the Crusade move on to battle the forces of darkness, keeping their fellow citizens safe from the real or imagined mutants, witches and gangs of Heretics wandering their locale by shooting them on sight.
When numerous Redemptionist cult members come together without the leadership of a religious figure such as a Redemptor priest, a fanatical mob can form. Typically, these mobs are generally formed by the incensed rabble of poor working class hive city citizens who decide to take vigilante justice against the first group of perceived sinners that they find. The path of righteousness is maintained at its purest with regular public witch hunts and mass burnings of Heretics and mutants.
- The Arch Zealot of the Redemption - The Arch Zealot of the Redemption is one of the most famous and feared of all Redemptor priests on the Hive World of Necromunda. He is a mystic and a prophet for the Redemptionist cause, leading a solitary, hermit-like existence. He wanders constantly from place to place, preaching to Redemptionists and whipping them up into a state of intolerant fury which almost invariably ends at the very least in a lynching, and more often than not in wholesale slaughter and genocide. His views are considered to be rather extreme even by his fellow priests, and some say that he should be banished from the Redemptionist cause altogether. The Arch Zealot denounces all who voice such opinions as weak-willed Traitors to the Emperor, and such is his following amongst the common mass of Redemptionists that those who argue against him either quickly recant or are lynched by an angry mob whipped into a frenzy of blood lust by one of the Arch Zealot's rabble-rousing speeches.
- Ludmilla - Ludmilla is a sturdily-built, middle-aged woman who is the self-styled leader of the Redemption in the Calixis Sector. She believes that the Emperor is vengeful in the extreme and that it is her duty as a human being to punish every sin, from impure thoughts to excessive cursing, with excessive amounts of fire. Ludmilla believes in purifying fire as strongly as she believes in the Emperor, and loves to see sinners, places of ill-repute and whole sections of the underhive consumed in flame. Ludmilla is devoted and not a little crazed. She is an impassioned hellfire preacher and a competent fighter, although she wields her sacred weapon, a pair of massive industrial shears, with more enthusiasm than skill. Ludmilla's true skill is in encouraging her faithful to let the Emperor's fury consume them, until there is nothing left of themselves: no compassion, not even any memory, just the burning hatred of the Emperor for all sinners. Her grandest project is to have the Redemption accepted as a part of the Imperial Creed, and she sends tributes to Cardinal Ignato in the hope that he will declare the Redemptionists to be valued members of the Adeptus Ministorum. These tributes mostly consist of cartloads of charred sinners left outside the Cathedral of Illumination. So far, Ignato has not responded.
- Klovis the Redeemer - Klovis the Redeemer is a noble of House Cawdor and a particularly fanatical and homicidal Redemptionist priest from the Hive World of Necromunda. Based in Hive Primus, the capital city of Necromunda, House Cawdor is the stronghold of the Cult of the Redemption whose prophets foretell of universal destruction. Although the cult has its adherents throughout the hive, in House Cawdor it has attained the status of an official religion. For this reason, the House is also known as the House of Redemption. Members of House Cawdor are forbidden to show their faces in public, and so they wear elaborate masks to conceal their identities. Klovis is a legend in his own lifetime and a force to be reckoned with. His Crusades are notorious for the slaughter they bring. After the Arch Zealot himself, Klovis the Redeemer is perhaps the most notorious Redemptor Priest in the Underhive. He battles tirelessly against the infidels, scourging heretics and purging mutants. His righteous acts of merciful execution are chronicled by the hand of his faithful scribe, Deacon Malakev.
- Devotee Malicant - Malicant's ancestors came from the original home of the Redemptionist movement, the Hive World of Necromunda. Centuries ago they left their world on a Redemptionist Crusade, finally founding a Temple of the Redemption on Ghastri IV. Malicant was brought up from birth to believe in the strict observances of the Redemption, and was raised by the fiery priests and zealots of the order in the Temple of the Redemption. Malicant is a ferociously devout individual. It is no surprise that he caught the eye of the Ordo Hereticus Witch Hunter Tyrus when Malicant's Crusade joined forces with the Inquisitor during the Treachery of Hanuchek. Since then, he has accompanied Tyrus across the galaxy, always spurred on by the Inquisitor's rousing speeches.
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 312
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG), pp. 64-65
- Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 89
- Inquisitor (Sourcebook), pp. 108-109
- Necromunda (Sourcebook) (2nd Edition), pp. 123, 191-198
- Necromunda (Sourcebook) (1st Edition), pg. 81
- Necromunda Magazine Vol. 1, 2, "House of Iron", pp. 28-29
- Necromunda Magazine 2, pp. 30-35
- Necromunda: Outlanders Rulebook pp. 33, 77
- Necromunda: Underhive (Living Rulebook edition), pg. 79
- Outlander (Novel) by Matt Keefe, pp. 12, 34, 163-164, 207
- The Redeemer (Graphic Novel) written by Pat Mills and Debbie Gallagher and illustrated by Wayne Reynolds
- Warhammer Monthly 18, pg. 3
- White Dwarf 302 (US), "Necromunda - The Iron Lords", pg. 91
- White Dwarf 196 (UK), "'Eavy Metal: Redemptionists - The Witch Hunters", pp. 5, 54
- White Dwarf 191 (UK), pg. 6
- White Dwarf 190 (UK), "Gang Warfare!", pg. 8