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Zoats: From Warhammer to 40K (and back again)


A little while ago, I wrote a post about the Ambull, a Warhammer 40,000 creature that had a (very) short career in WFRP. I was inspired in part by the Ambull’s reappearance in Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress, and back in January Games Workshop revealed a new Zoat miniature for the same game.

The Zoat’s history in Warhammer and 40K is a troubled one. Its origins are tied up with those of the Fimir, which the excellent Luke Maciak discussed in a post on his Terminally Incoherent blog a few years ago.

In short, Bryan Ansell came in one day with a sketch of a Zoat, and wanted the creatures added to WFRP as a new race which would be distinctive and unique to Warhammer. We already had Warriors of Chaos and the recently-released Skaven, so we writers thought Warhammer and WFRP were pretty safe on that score, and to be honest we didn’t find the sketch too inspiring. By the way, I vaguely remember that Bryan put a note on the sketch giving the pronunciation as “Zow-at.” I don’t know if anyone else spotted that at the time, but we all pronounced the name to rhyme with “goat” and as far as I know everyone else has done the same ever since.

Bryan was not discouraged by our lukewarm response to his idea. He told us that Zoats would have to go in, or we would have to come up with something else that satisfied the same requirements. That was when Jes Goodwin, Tony Ackland, and I began to develop the Fimir.

WFRP1

Zoats from the WFRP 1st edition rulebook. Left: Bob Naismith. Right: Tony Ackland.

To be on the safe side, I also wrote Zoats up for the WFRP 1st edition rulebook. Perhaps some memory of The Dark Crystal was rattling about in my brain at the time, because I ended up making them reclusive forest mystics and possible Wood Elf allies. Rules for Zoat allied contingents appeared in Ravening Hordes for Warhammer 2nd edition and Warhammer Armies for 3rd edition, but they never really caught on and by 4th edition Warhammer they were gone. They reappeared in the Storm of Magic supplement for Warhammer 8th edition in 2011, but never re-established themselves firmly in the lore of the Old World.

Warhammer Armies

Zoats from Warhammer Armies.

Zoats did rather better in Warhammer 40,000. The masters for the slow-selling fantasy miniatures were given face masks and futuristic weapons, and they got a new backstory making them a servitor race of the Tyranids. More on their 40K career can be found on the Warhammer 40,000 wiki, and of course that is how they came to Blackstone Fortress, in the form of a single miniature.

zoat-2020-1

The new Blackstone Fortress Zoat.

I don’t expect Zoats will reappear in Game Workshop’s reboot of the Old World setting, or in anything Cubicle 7 publishes for WFRP. Still, for those who may be interested I have done a quick WFRP 4th edition profile for them, based on the entry in the WFRP 1st edition rulebook. Let me have your thoughts. Also let me know if you feel inspired to use Zoats in a WFRP adventure, or if you know of any appearance in an official Warhammer or WFRP publication that I have missed.

Needless to say, what follows is in no way official and should be considered a fan work. No challenge is intended to copyrights or trademarks held by Games Workshop, Cubicle 7, or anyone else.


ZOATS

WFRP1_RulebookIn many parts of the Old World, Zoats are regarded as creatures of legend. They are solitary by nature, living in the depths of the most ancient forests. Despite their bulk, they are quiet and reclusive, and can move through the densest undergrowth with hardly a sound. Occasionally, they have dealings with the Wood Elves, and on rare occasions they have been known to make contact with Humans. It is said that they strive to keep the forests free of monsters such as Beastmen and Goblinoids. Ancient Elvish songs tell of single Zoats coming to the aid of beleaguered Wood Elf settlements.

Zoats are centauroid in appearance, standing some six feet high and eight feet long. Heavy plates of fused scales cover their shoulders, back, and hindquarters. Their heads are reptilian in appearance, with a broad, slightly domed skull, large eyes, and a wide mouth that gives them a wry expression. Colour ranges from dark brown through maroon to purple. They do not wear clothing or armour.

Their characteristic weapon is a long, two-handed mace whose tip is a cylinder of black stone bound in a silvery metal. The head is carved with strange runes that are indecipherable by other races. All Zoats seem to speak a common grinding, rumbling tongue; they may also speak Eltharin and occasionally the local Human language.

M WS BS S T I Ag Dex Int WP Fel W
7 59 25 50 50 50 25 43 45 43 40 19

Traits: Arboreal, Armour 3 (body/hindquarters, Armour 1 (elsewhere), Night Vision, Size (Large), Stride, Tracker, Weapon +8

Optional: Spellcaster (Amber)

Zoat Mace

Price Enc Availability Reach Damage Qualities and Flaws
N/A 3 Exotic 3 +SB+6 Damaging, Impact1, Pummel, Unbreakable, Tiring2

1. A Zoat Mace wielded by a spellcaster is normally inscribed with a mystical rune that gives it the Impact Quality.

2. Only if the wielder’s SB is 3 or less.


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  1. Pariah
    March 29, 2020 at 2:29 am

    As always an interesting reading.
    Allow me some observations on the stats.

    I would add Territorial (as “reclusive forest mystics”) and Champion to the Optional Traits.
    I think Spellcaster (Beasts) would be more clear.
    I would simplify the natural armour of the Creature with Armour (2), but it’s probably personal preference for quick rules.

    To represent the Zoat Mace, Weapon trait should be Weapon+11 or +12 (SB5+6 plus the effect of Damaging and Impact).

    A centaur-like creature Hit Locations table is probably needed, what about this?
    01-09 Head
    10-14 Left Arm
    15-24 Right Arm
    25-69 Body
    70-84 Left Legs
    85-00 Right Legs

  2. Stephen Bradley
    March 29, 2020 at 4:32 am

    I always loved Zoats from when I first picked up the rule book, they were one of the things that made WFRP stand out from D&D!

  3. Lochdale
    March 29, 2020 at 9:51 am

    I liked Zoats in WFRP. They were mysterious and it was nice to have the occasional “good guy” with a bit of power by your side (the one campaign that we ran into one). Unfortunately they went the way of the law gods and just sort of vanished. It was too bad as I do think they would have been fun to explore in some of the novels.

  4. Benoît Dumeaux
    March 29, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Some soucre reference
    • WJDR1 – Bestiaire, Règles et background sur les Zoats page 248.
    • WFB2 Ravening Hordes / Hordes Sauvages Alliés Zoats page 74.
    • WFB3 Rulebook Bestiary – Règles des Zoats page 233.
    • WFB3 Warhammer Armies – Zoat Ally Contingent page 149.
    • WFB8 Tempête de Magie – Zoat page 135.

    > I think Spellcaster (Beasts) would be more clear.

    Agree for me is more Spellcaster (Nature) or Spellcaster (Celestial)

  5. xisor
    March 30, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Have you read Clint’s Storm of Magic Novella, The Hour of Shadows?
    A slight spoiler, but it factors a Zoat into it in what I found to be a really neat way. Well worth a read on its own too – a fine story!
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hour-Shadows-Storm-Magic-Werner-ebook/dp/B06XQ32HW3

  6. Benoît Dumeaux
    March 30, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    Bob Naismith HD illustration

    Tony Akland HD illustration

    Extract from Clint Werner Storm of Magic Novel #3 The Hour of Shadows
    “[…]
    The highborn gawped at the weird creature which came stomping out from among the trees. It was like nothing he had ever seen before, a great reptilian beast with a scaly brown and black hide. It tromped down the trail on four massive, pillar-like legs. A great, club-like tail swung from its hindquarters, sharp barbs running along the sides of the cudgellike button on its tip. A humanoid torso rose from the fore of the creature’s lower body, muscular arms descending from broad shoulders, a lizard-like head perched atop the merest stump of a neck. In the creature’s hands, a bladed staff of silver and white shone with the brilliance of starfire. Even from a distance, he could tell it was no natural denizen of Athel Loren, nor yet some strange manifestation of the fey. He was reminded of Ywain’s words, her insistence that the Warden of the Wood was not a creature of the forest but rather something far older.”

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