Saturday 16 April 2011

N is for Nathan Creed

Nathan Creed is a bounty hunter from the pollution-ruined hive world of Necromunda, a setting created for the game of the same name by Games Workshop in 1995.

Necromunda is a planet dominated by the mountain-sized cities that are separated by toxic ash deserts. The atmosphere of the planet is a poisonous fog and the spires of the vast hives are so tall that they pierce the stratosphere. It's a fantastic setting – a cross between the Wild West (complete with gunslingers and tribes of Ratskins) and the dystopia of urban decay gone mad (with rogue cyborgs wandering deserted city-domes miles across).

Nathan Creed himself started out as a rather one-dimensional character. He is Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood, The Man With No Name and John Wayne all rolled into one, and thrust into a frontier, crumbling sprawl of urban decay in an almost medieval universe. He's a sharp shooter, a chancer, a charmer, a smoker, a drinker and a mean son of a Ripperjack who always gets his man, mutant, zombie or rogue psyker. He had a great line in put-downs, always having the last word in any matter, usually because everyone else was dead.

Creed didn’t really develop as a character until I began to expand his world, building a cast of characters around him, who started to act as foils to the bounty hunter. So detailed did this background become over the next few stories, and in my ideas notebook, that I actually planned to pitch a Creed story as my first novel for the Black Library, but unfortunately it was not to be, and the story of a Genestealer Cult breeding and scheming in the depths of Hive Primus remains untold.*

The first Nathan Creed short story Bad Spirits appeared in Inferno! #3 (1997) and was ultimately re-printed in the Necromunda short story anthology Status: Deadzone (2000).

Mama's Boys (2000) followed three years later and Boyz in the Hive (2001) - in which Creed goes up against an Ork, and which introduced the character of Doc Haze - not long after.

The fourth Nathan Creed story was Firestarter! (2001) and was re-printed in the 40K anthology Crucible of War (2003). Creed's last outing in Inferno! was Bad Medicine (2002)** and introduced a couple of characters who I planned to have appear in other stories - Creed's girlfriend Maisy-Lou (a.k.a. Crazy Maisy) and the Corpsemaker - but it was not to be. I pitched further tales (including an origin story) but for some reason they weren't picked up.

But the Nathan Creed story doesn't end there. In 2003 Games Workshop re-published the Necromunda games system in one book as Necromunda Underhive. I was commissioned to write some short pieces of colour text, each highlighting different aspects of the setting.

I managed to link all of the (very) short stories so that each one led into the next, even though they featured different characters. I even managed to write one involving Scuzman Veck, a pit slave I created for the Necromunda comic strip Slavebreak!

However, the editor didn't really appreciate what I'd attempted to do, and asked me to re-write the stories so that they weren't interconnected. In the end not all of them appeared in the book didn't appear in the right orderanyway. The effect was lost, including the story that resurrected bounty hunter Nathan Creed.

Not all of the Nathan Creed Inferno! stories were re-printed in anthologies but if you're a fan, or fancy reading them having read this post, I have it on good authority that they will be seeing the light of day in the second Necromunda Omnibus (although I'm not sure when that's due out). The first one is available now as part of BL's Print on Demand range.

And I've decided*** that I'm going to make my Necromunda Underhive stories available again, on this blog, over the next few days - and as originally intended.

Boyz in the Hive

by Des Hanley


by Des Hanley

Bad Medicine

by Des Hanley

I had already written two Nathan Creed adventures before Des Hanley became connected with the series, but from Boyz in the Hive onwards he was the unofficial Creed artist. It's a shame there weren't any more Creed stories because I would like to have seen more of Des's images.

* When BL attempted to revive the Necromunda setting in their fiction line I was disappointed not to be asked to contribute a Creed novel, but I was busy writing for Abaddon Books by then.

** Writing this now, I can barely believe that it's almost ten years since I wrote the last Creed story!

*** Again, during the course of writing this post...

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