The Zoats are a race of centaur-like lizard creatures that appear in Games Workshops Warhammer Fantasy. Zoats were also present in the earliest editions of Warhammer's companion Warhammer 40,000 science-fiction setting, but have since been written out of the background.
Zoats are large, strange, centaurlike creatures, representing many fantasy archetypes related to nature and wilderness (and, in their Warhammer 40,000 incarnation, organic technology). In Warhammer, Zoats are powerful forest magicians, but also secretive isolationists, living only in the deepest woodlands and avoiding contact with outsiders if at all possible. By contrast, the Zoats of Warhammer 40,000 were a much more cosmopolitan species, often found fighting as mercenaries. They communicated telepathically, and had other prodigious abilities to assimilate into other cultures. Zoats in Warhammer Fantasy fight with heavy stone maces called sky-staves, while those in WH40K were equipped with futuristic organic weapons.
Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Role-play
Zoats were not included in the "bestiary" for the first (1983) and second (1984) editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle but were brought into the 3rd (1987) edition and appeared in Warhammer Armies as an ally contingent available to the Wood Elf army. The original Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was derived from 3rd Edition WFB and they were given an entry in the Bestiary for the 1st Edition and subsequent reprints. In Warhammer 3rd edition and WFRP, Lizardman races fear Zoats for unknown reasons.
Zoats did not appear in the 4th (1992) edition of Warhammer, or in any subsequent edition thereafter, until they were reintroduced, their background, appearance, and character almost unchanged, by the 2011 "Storm of Magic" supplement for the 8th edition of the game.
The Zoats were introduced in the first release of the 40K game Rogue Trader. They are described as one of the Tyranid's genetically engineered slave races, in the first White Dwarf army list for the Tyranids. They were discontinued by Games Workshop in the second edition of Warhammer 40,000, and have since disappeared completely from the mainstream. They were elite fighters, forming the warrior-corps of the Hive Fleets. Although naturally a psychic race, they could not develop psychically under Tyranid dominance. It is stated that the "Xenobiologers of the Administratum" believed Zoats to have been created purely for combat. In game terms, any Tyranid force had to have at least half its numbers made up by Zoats. In the Rogue Trader Edition of the rules, it was said that they ate "Zoatibix", which is a pun on the breakfast cereal "Weetabix"
The Zoat's exact links to the Tyranid race are lost outside of the Warhammer 40,000 galaxy, but what has been gleaned from ancient encounters is that the Tyranids did not assimilate the Zoats as per the norm, but instead enslaved them to do their bidding. They were large, strange, powerful creatures, centauroid in appearance, with two powerful arms, and a lack of oral organs. The Zoats communicated telepathically, and had a prodigious ability to assimilate the cultures (language, customs, practices) of other races, thus acting as diplomatic conduits for the otherwise uncompromising hive mind.
In this role, they were said to excel, but were discontinued from use by the Tyranid race once the Zoats rebelled against their pitiless enslavers.
Though used for communicating with other races and other diplomatic tasks, the Zoats were proficient fighters, said to be savage, ruthless, and ferocious in battle. Even so, all out war between a small sub-part and the rest of the Tyranid race could have only one outcome, and the majority of the Zoat race fled from the Hive fleets.
As such, they were one of the first Tyranic organisms to reach the Eastern Fringe, and have been the only Tyranic organisms so far to have actually established contact with the Imperium of Man. The Zoats were regarded with great curiosity by those they encountered, and were said to travel in fleets of "great, conch-like ships". However, their general nature and frequent contact with other alien races in the sector, as well as frequent attempts to settle on worlds caused the Imperium to declare them "Xenos Horibillis", sparking the violent Zorastra-Atilla war in the 38th millennium, which lasted fifty years, culminating in the destruction of the last of their strange colossal ships over the planet of Zorastra. As there were no subsequent records of contact with the Zoat, it is assumed that the Zoats have been purged from the galaxy.
In the recent Horus Heresy novel, Fulgrim, aboard the multi-racial (or, more appropriately, "multi-species", seeing as there are a number of species as well as humans) Diasporax fleet there could be found a number of crimson centaurid creatures. Although not named as such, there is a strong implication that they are Zoats.
Four full production models were released during the Rogue Trader era of Warhammer 40,000 with their sales being limited once the race was withdrawn from the game although Games Workshop continued to make the models available via mail order for some years. All four Zoats were two-part, each using the same lower torso, with the variants being in the upper torso component. The four Warhammer 40,000 variants were, with their catalogue names:
- Gharg - Zoat officer armed with flamer and power fist (originally termed "power glove")
- Loorg - Zoat hero armed with two fleshborers (originally termed "bolters")
- Sheaar - Zoat heavy weapons trooper armed with missile launcher
- Slaarsh - Zoat trooper armed with fleshborer (originally termed "bolter")
In 2005, the US Games Workshop online fanzine Black Gobbo included an article which described a number of 'lost Tyranid races, of which one the "Colossus" resembles the Zoat though the models (conversions of existing Citadel models) look less like the Zoats of old.