“Don’t do female custodians”: The Studio Expressly Demanded Warhammer 40K Author to Not Make Unnecessary Changes to Henry Cavill’s Favorite Army

What Could This New Inclusion Mean for the Future of Warhammer 40k?

warhammer 40k, henry cavill

SUMMARY

  • Warhammer author Aaron Dembski-Bowden, who has penned numerous novels in Warhammer 40k, revealed that he was explicitly instructed to avoid creating female Adeptus Custodes.
  • Years later, Warhammer 40k has gotten its first female Custodian. And this has caused controversy.
  • The uproar over female Custodians is not entirely new. Warhammer 40K fans have long debated gender representation within the game's factions.
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The recent controversy in the Warhammer 40k universe regarding the addition of female Custodes in the lore has caused one of Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s comments in an old Reddit post to come to light.

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Aaron Dembski-Bowden is a well-known person in the Warhammer 40k community. He wrote multiple novels set in the Warhammer universe, including the Horus Heresy series. 

Back in 2018, Dembski-Bowden revealed that he was explicitly instructed to avoid creating female Adeptus Custodes. Despite there being no established lore forbidding female Custodians, the studio’s mandate was clear: the models were all male, and the narrative should reflect that.

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What Dembski-Bowden Had to Say About Changing Warhammer 40k Lore

What Dembski-Bowden Had to Say About Changing Warhammer 40k Lore
A still from the upcoming Warhammer 40k: Space Marine 2 | Saber Interactive

The release of the 10th Edition Adeptus Custodes Codex introduced a Custodian named Calladayce Taurovalia Kesh, who uses she/her pronouns. 

The introduction of a female Custodian has sparked controversy among fans. The arguments center on the fact that this change goes against already lore, while others see it as a move that promotes inclusion in the growing universe of Warhammer 40k

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byu/wecanhaveallthree from discussion
in40kLore

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Games Workshop also revealed their official stance on social media saying that female Custodians have always existed. This hasn’t sat well with some fans.

What I was saying was, at the time of working on the lore, there was no reason they couldn’t be male or female (and as far as things still stand, there’s still no lore reason they can’t be). But there is a non-lore reason, which was the previous IP overlord saying “There are no female Custodian models, they’re all male, so don’t write any female ones.

Dembski-Bowden himself commented on the subject six years ago in a Reddit post. There, he talked about how the lore surrounding the Custodians has always been flexible and open to interpretation.

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He said that the directive from the studio at the time was to avoid female representations due to the all-male miniature line even though there was no lore explicitly stating that Custodians had to be male. This restriction could have been seen as a limitation to creative freedom back then but has now been challenged by the new codex.

The Introduction of Female Custodes in Warhammer 40k

The Introduction of Female Custodes in Warhammer 40k
Adeptus Custodes are elite guards in Warhammer 40k lore | Saber Interactive

In Warhammer 40k, the Adeptus Custodes are the Emperor of Mankind’s personal guard, crafted and go through genetic modifications involving gene-forging and warp magic. Their portrayal has remained consistent since the release of Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader in 1987. 

But this lore has been challenged with the introduction of the first female Custodian in the 10th Edition Adeptus Custodes Codex. This new inclusion in the lore goes against the long-standing perceived gender exclusivity, much to the chagrin of a vocal segment of the fanbase.

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While there was already an immediate controversy after this introduction, it was further intensified when the official Warhammer account on social media confirmed the presence of female Custodians. The statement was that they had always existed within the lore. This was met with fans calling it and unnecessary retcon just to abide by modern standards for media. 

The Introduction of Female Custodes in Warhammer 40k
All upcoming Warhammer media, including Space Marine 2 will have to abide by this lore change. | Saber Interactive

The controversy has even reached online forums and subreddits, where discussions about female representation in the Warhammer 40k universe have become a hot topic.

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Adeptus Custodes Codex confirms the existence of female Custodians.
byu/CaptTenacity in40kLore

The reaction from the community has been polarized. On one hand, there’s a segment of the fanbase that embraces the new lore, appreciating the deeper narrative and representation it brings. 

This whole controversy has affected things even further with Henry Cavill, who is producing and starring in an upcoming Warhammer 40k TV series/movie, has been rumored to leave the project over this. It is highly likely that this rumor is false and just fabricated for clickbait and attention. But the implications of this lore change do have far-reaching effects.

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Written by Daniel Royte

Articles Published: 171

Daniel is a gamer through and through with a passion for gaming in his veins. His current adventures have taken him into the world of Elden Ring, Wuthering Waves, and Genshin Impact, amongst others.