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

March 28, 2020 24 comments

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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Viydagg: A Forgotten WFRP Monster
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The Toad Dragon: An Old Citadel Miniature Described for WFRP4
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The Mud Elemental: Two Old Monsters Combined for WFRP4
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Leaping Slomm Two-Face, Another Old Citadel Miniature
Zygor Snake-Arms, Another Old Citadel Miniature
Independent Daemons for WFRP 4th Edition
Chaos Snakemen – A Forgotten Warhammer Race
Menfish – Another Lost Warhammer Race
Golems in Warhammer

The Truth about Fimir

April 9, 2014 8 comments

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Over the years I’ve been asked many times, “What happened to the Fimir?” A lot of people seem to like this strange race, and there seems to be a lot of curiosity about why they were quietly dropped from Warhammer canon.

I’ve been thinking for some time about writing a post that gives the whole story of the Fimir’s creation, short life, and eventual demise – but now I don’t have to. Warhammer fan Luke Maciak, author of the excellent Terminally Incoherent blog, has painstakingly collected all the information from various sources and assembled it into a full and complete account of the beasts, and added some great insights of his own.

The Fimir reappear from time to time, both in GW publications (fleetingly) and in fan works (often in great depth). Here are a few useful links I found:

A scan of the Fimir promo from WD102, including an adventure that I still regard as one of the worst I’ve ever written, “There’s a One-Eyed Fellow Hiding to the North of Kammendun.” Oldhammer fans will also find a 3rd edition Fimir army list.

An unofficial 8th edition Warhammer army book for Fimir created by some German fans (and written, impressively, in English).

My earlier post on Forge World’s announcement of their Fimir miniatures.

David Stafford’s impressive Fimir army, with inspiration from 2000AD’s Slaine comic and broader Irish mythology.

Warpstone magazine devoted issue 25 to a Fimir special.

I’m sure this list just scratches the surface of what’s out there. If I happen upon anything else interesting, I’ll post links in the comments section below.

HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Edition

November 20, 2013 7 comments


One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was a reminiscence on the early days of Vampire: the Masquerade, prompted by the release of a 20th Anniversary Edition. Well, now I feel even older. I just saw that someone is bringing back the Games Workshop – Milton Bradley fantasy boardgame HeroQuest in time for its 25th.

Jervis Johnson – he of Blood Bowl and Adeptus Titanicus/Space Marine fame – was the designer, but I sat in with him on meetings and contributed some early writing and background. I remember that the man from MB liked the fact that I’d named the Barbarian character Rogar, because his boss was named Roger and he thought that would go down especially well.

As part of the agreement, Milton Bradley developed all the HeroQuest expansions themselves but Games Workshop had the right to develop and sell Advanced HeroQuest, which was a lot deeper and more Warhammer-ish. It’s also where the Fimir found a home after failing as a new Warhammer race. I had a little more to do with AHQ, writing a few expansion articles for White Dwarf and – one of my first freelance contracts after I left the Games Workshop staff in 1990 – an undead-themed supplement called Terror in the Dark.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this new incarnation of HeroQuest. Who knows – maybe I’ll even get the opportunity to write something for it.

Out of the Mists

January 15, 2012 8 comments

So, I just learned that Forge World is issuing a set of Fimir models. It seems that these critters just won’t go away.

The story of the Fimir is well-enough known to anyone who has followed the development of the Warhammer world. When Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was in development in mid-1986, GW miniature designer Jes Goodwin and I created them in response to a challenge by GW boss and Warhammer co-creator Bryan Ansell, who wanted the game to have a distinctive and unique race. For one reason and another, they didn’t make it, and were quietly dropped from the Warhammer canon – but every so often, they pop back up again. Like Bigfoot, every few years there is another Fimir sighting.

The WFRP fanzine Warpstone produced an issue devoted to the Fimir in 2006.

Fimir miniatures were included in the HeroQuest board game developed by GW for Milton Bradley.

They were mentioned briefly in the 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles rulebook, although not included as playable creatures.

And I’m told that GW’s Storm of Magic supplement for Warhammer, published in July 2011, included a Fimir sorcerer called a Balefiend.

So who knows, maybe they’re coming back. I always kind of liked them, but then I’m biased.