Dec 19, 2013

Gremlins. Who are they really?

 Well the answer to this question has a really simple answer and a more complex one. The simple answer is an official one as well. Wyrd has stated on their site  that "The Neverborn take many shapes, from the giant winged Nephilim to the small murderous Gremlins". Wha? Gremlins ARE Neverborn? Then why are they a different faction?

What qualifies as a Neverborn?

 Now onto the more complex answer.  If you read the whole entry on the Neverborn (I encourage all of you to read all the factions, it's pretty good) you will see these quotes as well "As long as people have dreamed, they have been terrified by their nightmares. These ghosts that lurk in shadows exist just beyond the thin veil that separates this world from another; nightmares are real. Humans have always had the subconscious ability to peer through this boundary, but with the opening of the Breach of the Great Barrier, man must now face the deadly reality of those nightmares, the Neverborn" and "Many believe that they are created by some maligned force, and thus, they were dubbed Neverborn to help mankind explain away their complete lack of human empathy and mercy." So one quality is that Neverborn are they are the embodiment of human nightmares. Are Gremlins the embodiment of human nightmares? It could be argued that they are. With a massive reproduction rate, they are an example of mankind being  out competed for resources. They are described in lore as "mischievous and mechanically oriented". Here we see they are derived from the English folklore of an Imp. Imps are described as "mischievous rather than evil or harmful, and in some regions, they were portrayed as attendants of the gods"The ability to use tools and their penchant for shenanigans they are the embodiment of a technological world gone wild. (How many Gremlins sneak into your car, computer et al to muck things up?)   and "Imps have also been described as being "bound" or contained in some sort of object, such as a sword or crystal ball.". That I think explains the Zorida link better than any I can come up with. Let us delve into that Gods part just a bit, in Malifaux lore the Tyrants are described as the old Gods of Malifaux, does this mean that the Gremlins were their attendants? If so, they will be playing a larger part going forward with the fluff!  Another quality of the Neverborn faction is a lack of human empathy and emotion. Gremlins exhibit this quality as well, laughing when a slop hauler gets eaten by the pigs at feeding time, willing to step over dead comrades to accomplish the mission, and generally using pain, intimidation and fear to lead.  So far it looks like Gremlins are more Neverborn than most Neverborn!

What makes a Gremlin?

So we've covered how the Gremlins could fit into the Neverborn but why aren't Neverborn Gremlins then? Well it's similar to why a human isn't a chimpanzee or a pig. Sure they may have derived from the same stock at one point (questionable) but if my theory is true then they are the attendants of the Tyrants. This would put them above Nephilim and other varieties of Neverborn in the eyes of the Tyrants. They could be the loyal servants of the Tyrants that lost a lot of their sanity and intelligence when the Tyrants fell. This would make them a race to be despised and cast out. They could also figure into the Tyrants reemerging for "one final battle!" They also are described as a bunch of fun loving, moonshine drinking hillbillies. These three attributes are the reason why they stand apart from Neverborn. Think about it, Lilith took over the Nephlim after Nekima went all Joe Pesci on the world, Pandora is the embodiment of woes, depair and insanity. Chompy is in fact a real tyrant (why is he Neverborn again?). Collodi is a doll that is pissed off because he didn't have anyone to play with. The Hungering Darkness isn't a Tyrant but something else entirely. Lucius is Neverborn masquerading as a Guildie who has uncovered Doug (E Freshmeat) McMourning's moonlighting escapades. Then we come to the old hag Zorida. Zorida has been schemeing with her fate deck for a long time. She was a human who became Neverborn, probably because she has been in Malifaux a loooooooong time. She could have told Lucius to bury the Gremlin reports and ignore them since they weren't a credible threat. Out of all the characters above hillbilly, moonshine, and fun loving are not exactly words that describe any of them, but they all describe Gremlins and Gremlin behavior. 

All in all I believe that Gremlins were actually a race of creatures that attended to the Tyrants. Humans have classified all the native inhabitants as Neverborn. Humans, as we have all seen, make mistakes. A broad generalization of Neverborn onto the inhabitants of Malifaux is, as generalizations often are, wrong. Gremlins are not an offshoot of Neverborn, nor are they Neverborn at all. They are known unknown that Zorida is using to an end, but even then with the advent of more Masters coming in that we have no background on it is debatable whether even Zorida can control the Bayou Horde that she seems intent on unleashing upon an unsuspecting Malifaux.

As always feel free to email or post comments! I'm glad that I can help some to at least put up a credible defense and convoluted explanation of the Neverborn/Gremlin angle as well. Hope you enjoyed it, until next time - MOON SHINOBI!


  1. Good post, with lots of interesting ideas.

    I think one of the issues I have here is that Neverborn is not a genus or species but instead a classification meaning only "Malifaux Native".

    We know that Nephilum are corrupted humans, we've seen that in the story of Tuco who was turned into a Neph.

    We also know that woes are similar to spirits embodying different aspects, but Woes and Neph are not genetically similar, the only similarity is that they are natives to Malifaux.

    Now I can't comment on V2 fluff, as I've only read Books1-4, but even then some things were allowed for game mechanics reasons, for example:

    In the Fluff Dreamer didn't hire minions, he also didn't actually have SoulStones because he wasn't a real presence in Malifaux, just an astral projection. Instead his minions were just creations of his own subconscious (well, it seemed to be inconclusive if they were actually created by him, or instead his power ripped open gates to allow them to enter Malifaux from a completely different realm).

    If gameplay was to follow fluff then The Dreamer's crew would not be able to hire Non-Nightmares, and likewise Nightmares would not be able to be hired by other Neverborn crews.

    We're looking at the same here, original inhabitants of Malifaux (the Gremlins) who because of this singular classification count as Neverborn, but because of gameplay reasons are not part of the faction (it is my belief this is because Neverborn are largely melee focussed, and introducing a Gremlin Gunline to someone like a Lilith crew would just be OverPowered and feel a little strange.

    So in other words we are seeing another example of the fluff and the gameplay coming at odds, and because it is a table top game before anything else, the gameplay side wins out.

    Anyway, I will be interested to see where Wyrd take the Gremlin faction. Despite the fact that I'm not a huge fan of them, they were the first faction I bought into.

    Anyway, long ramble here, apologies, bu long story short, while your ideas are well thought out they are essentially theories and conjecture, there is little to know cannon to support it, and that is where the original 'bad fluff' post by SSK still stands.

    Speaking personally, I like the ideas you've suggested, and I hope Wyrd are watching and go down a similar route thereby tying the Gremmies into the bigger Malifaux History picture.

  2. Thanks for the comment, you inspired the new tagline to the blog! I agree that the fluff is a bit sparse on the Gremlin side and I hope with the introduction of 2 new masters and a horde of new minions we see more of the Gremlin story unfold. Well then at least I won't have to rely on theory and conjecture but it doesn't mean I won't! ;)