Jons – Scavvy Ganger

Jons 1 Jons 2








“Scabies and scavenging: scavvies. It’s not that bad. You only have an obligation to your stomach, and you can live as long as you can keep your eyes peeled and your gun loaded. I can tell you, it’s pointless to keep it a secret now that I’d be executed anyway. For all I did, as well as for all I didn’t do but still have the looks like I did: I chose to come here. Here in this dump with nothing but were-rats and skin disease and a bunch of cannibals to keep company. I came here to stay out of the military. And, man, I don’t regret it a bit. I knew I was going to be drafted. From a relative of mine who was some kind of bureaucrat for the Guard. They were going to get me, ship me a crap-ton light years through the warp to some rock on the fringe of the universe, holding a stick-gun against the resident horror-with-no-name. “There is only war”… the hell there is! If I didn’t die on first assignment, then it was going to be nothing but drill and bootlicking until my next chance to die. Screw that! I’d rather be rotting inside and out like I am here, but at least do it in my own name. And that is all I have to say.”


Catch – Scavvy Ganger

Catch 1Catch 2








“I cannot help to imagine all kinds of substances filtering trough my flesh, being sucked in and condensing in my lungs, caught in the blood stream and pumped around, solidifying in nasty cancers in my entrails”.

Being a mutant means to be constantly aware of your own body. Every morning is another rash, a new suppurating orifice, the calling of an unexpected pain, or another lump of flesh going numb.

“Once I saw someone scratch one of his arms to the bone, humming. There was no blood but a white opalescent fluid gushing out like foam. He kept reopening the wound, digging into its lips with a little knife.”

You tend to acknowledge new mutations in the morning. Maybe the metabolism of the toxins speeds up while your body is sleeping, maybe it’s just that you drop out of consciousness for long enough to look at yourself like a stranger. Some think that you will stop mutating if you never close your eyes.

You never dream. Substances and viruses take up your imagination, turning your very flesh into some unconscious, permeable, stuff.

“I found you can get away with some of the pain by focussing on it as a pulse – if you feel it like breathing it blends in and almost disappears. Itching can be turned into pain, and then into rhythm. Speaking and thinking are done fast in between the beats. When the pain’s too intense there’s nothing you can do, though. It just defines you: you can only speak for it and wear its face. You become a vessel, a herald, a laboratory display: your very acts become a mindless expression of whatever that is that’s working up your guts.”

There is a certain pride in the amount of suffering a body can withstand. From without, you just see the torn skin, the broken motions and the expressions of self-disgust. You can breath in the stink and be hit by death in its purposeful, creative presence. But from within is a symphony of terrors. That hunger never leaves you.

“But sometimes I have a surge of strength – my body suddenly feels well and whole. And at that point, over that hallucinating sensation of solidity, settles rage. I am consumed by the need of tearing into other people, leaving them infected.”

Some mutants convert to a weird religion of the flesh. They believe that, somewhere in the sewers, there is a creature made of all the parts of their bodies that they’ve lost, all the blood and pus that they’ve spilled, the skin they have removed. It awaits for them somewhere in the shadow. If you ever meet its hollow eyes, they believe, then you will die. But your mind will remain trapped in the air and consumed by parasites and you will feel the whole universe collapse. These believers sometimes carve their eyes out, so that the golem will have eyes and see them and die in their place.

And yes, Catch plays baseball.

Redemption Harry – Scavvy Ganger

Redemption Harry 1 Redemption Harry 2








“I have little to say about myself. But I can tell you about a thing I’ve seen. I am sure you’ve seen death yourself, and had your share of wounds and bruises. Everyone has around here. But I’ve seen a kid burn at the stake, once. I cannot describe it. A whole mob was staring and cheering. They thought the boy was possessed by demons. I sure wished a demon was really going to come out of that poor fellow’s mouth and let its wrath loose on the congregation. But the boy just screamed. Nothing happened. He screamed, and then he fell silent and his body was consumed by the flames. Am I going to live another thirty years, I will never be able to put a bullet through the head of everyone’s responsible for that. From the high minds to the people who were fooled and killed while clapping their hands. But I still feel I’ve been charged with his vengeance. It’s like it’s here in my chest. So I ended up saying something about me, I guess. Look, I’ve carved an “r” on each of these shotgun shells, for redemption. For that’s how the people who did that called themselves, and, by the time I’ll be finished with them, I swear to the hells that’s what they’re going to get!”

Hunch – Scavvy Ganger

Hunch 1 Hunch 2








“I’m not even a mutant. Not enough to be human, not enough to be a monster”, he can often be heard complaining. “Good enough for the gallows, though”. Hunch got his battle name when one day he matched his most distinguishing physical trait with an uncommon stroke of luck – a series of coincidences of the kind that, in the mutant’s world of superstitions, made of him something of a seer and a wicked saint. The story is told in many ways and Hunch himself greatly embellishes it, for his survival often depends on the satisfaction of his audience. I’ll give you the shortest version.

One day, Hunch accidentally shot his left foot. A few hours later, an enemy gang stormed the camp where he was staying. Outgunned, all the other scavvies fled. But Hunch couldn’t run, so he was left behind and was immediately caught and captured. It turned out that the gang that was attacking them  needed one prisoner, as a gift for neighbouring Cawdors, so Hunch was gagged and tied up and kept safe. All the other scavvies were caught and killed.

The next day, another band of scavvies attacked the gang before Hunch could be delivered to the Cawdors. Taken by surprise, the gangers opted to run away. But since Hunch still couldn’t run, he was left behind again and taken captive. The scavvies who rescued him were about to eat him, of course. But when Hunch told them his story, they changed their mind.  And so Hunch was spared, and got his name.

Salaryman – Scavvy Ganger

Salaryman 1 Salaryman 2








It wasn’t supposed to happen. Allen was an unremarkable man, as inconspicuous as his job as a quality-check assistant at a home guard uniform factory. He wasn’t even a gear in the huge machine of war and religion men called the Imperium, he was the greasing. He had no partner and few acquaintances. His two ageing and estranged parents lived with a sister he had never met in a distant sector of the city.

It might have been a contaminated batch of vitamins. He always took some to stay healthy. One day he woke up with an itching armpit and it seemed like his tongue had swollen. The next day he was trembling with fever. He had an horrible, stinking bubo under his arm. His tongue was burning and scorched with blisters, it was getting so big that he was having trouble keeping his mouth closed. He could not ask for a sick leave, of course. They’d just have fired him. Or, if they had suspected anything more, the parish would have sent a priest and he would have been put to the stake. His only chance was to go through it alone, and hide it while he kept working.

He had to buy perfume to cover the stench coming from his rotting armpit. He never spoke much, so that helped him. The first day passed without incidents. His colleagues must have thought he had met a woman, or just ignored him. The second day, though, he had to leave his post three times to spit blood, and that must have looked suspicious. When he woke up on the morning of the third day, he could not breathe unless he stuck out his monstrous tongue. He let it dangle out like the tendril of an octopus, oozing a thick mixture of blood and saliva. When he reached with his fingers to the thing growing in his armpit, he encountered another touch, a sensation like when you join your palms together. There was no point hiding it anymore.

Crying, but also strangely elated, he packed a bag of essentials and left home for the last time, covering his features in a blanket. He bought a gun and knife in a shady weapon store. Then, on an inkling, he went back in and bought a second gun.

At times now, he feels a numbing sadness at the thought of all he has lost and that had made him a person: faith, property, the integrity of his body. And yet, despite everything, he never quite lost his mid-hive mannerisms and conservative quirks, and he often wears what once was his blue uniform, now in rags, with a starched white collar, as the last signifier of his lost humanity.

Spikes – Scavvy Ganger

Spikes 1 Spikes 2








For some, blight is a blessing. Born with a lovely set of subcutaneous bone growths on his head and elbows, little Spikes was the pride and joy of his winged father and two-headed mother, the first-born fifth-generation mutant in his family. Yes, his father had to put a gag on him for a couple of days right after his birth for he wouldn’t stop crying, but after that he never caused any more trouble. Apart from when it was the right time to do so. At three, he shot his first stub gun. At five, he strangled an older peer. By then, his horns had started to develop, his bones had gotten really strong and his skin toughened. At ten he scavenged, on his own, the first of a long series of scatterguns, which became his weapon of choice. Shortly after he began to raid along with the rest of the gang. But at this point everything slowed down, his bright future never manifested itself, and Spikes slipped in the lacklustre routine of the average scavvy: load your gun with a mix of bolts and nails, stalk close to some guy, shoot him up, end him with a knife, search him, and carve a cut of meat if the flesh doesn’t look too unhealthy. Over and over and the same. The years passed, and Spikes is still waiting for his chance to shine, eager to fulfil the promise of his depraved lineage.

Scavvy Boss Black Tobin

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“One idea has dominated me since I was very very little, nesting in my bones and, like blood, bloating my flesh and keeping me alive. It is important to understand it as soon as possible. In fact, and that’s really all there is to the idea, one must understand it too soon. What’s the idea? The threshold. Any situation bears with it a certain threshold of violence. Some situations just aren’t tense enough, so people often hang around with guns, but they’re not really willing to use them. Men, like animals, must build themselves up to killing, you know: hunger, hate, even madness need nurturing and time, and strength. A broken man won’t stand up to murder you, and no one feels like killing a stranger on the spot without some kind of confrontation. And that’s what gets them. When you’re fighting over dice, no one’s supposed to draw a gun. Same: you fight a war, no one’s supposed to light the nukes. Well, guess who’s the one who always wins at dice? And we won the goddamn war, didn’t we? You have to burn it – the threshold, I mean – and burn it before anyone else does. Grab hold of unexpected, paroxysmal violence. That’s a human thing no animal can do. A new instinct. Spill blood while the dice are still rolling. Be ready to stab over a dollar, and shoot over a dime. And when everyone expects you to do so… well, that’s when you have to get really cruel.”

A disturbing piece of Scavvy savvy, as an introduction to the warped minds, and bodies, of the Scavvy Necromunda gang I’m currently painting, and as a reminder of the extreme-right-wing undertones of many survivalist fantasies.

Being the chief of a tribe of leprous cannibalistic outcasts, likely to be shot on sight by any “respectable” citizen and hunted down by packs of religious fanatics, while the toxic fumes from the most vicious landfill in the known universe are painfully mutating your body into a mass of fluorescent gangrene, is clearly not a breeze. Now do it on just one leg. Despite his brutal philosophy, Black is definitely having troubles staying alive, and lately he has been leaning dangerously over the edge between absolute authority and minced meat.  He lost a leg to an enforcer’s metal mastiff and his skin is rotting away from malnutrition and the exposure to chemical waste. He lost his hair long ago, but no one has yet survived a comment on his eponymous black toupee. He sports an ostentatious autogun, and an array of banned grenades and imaginative torture tools he is more often using on his few subordinates than on the many enemies of his caste. Stress can be heard in the camp like the grinding of teeth. One by one, he will have to kill all of his minions, and soon he’ll be dead or alone. Sleep does not come to him anymore, just occasional lapses of consciousness from which he comes up with a jolt and cold sweats as if he’d been hit by a bullet. For the first time in his short excruciating life, he’s been thinking of turning one of his infamous peaks of violence upon himself – beat everyone else at the game and be the one to end it.