Warhammer 40,000 species
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The Warhammer 40,000 game, and consequently the fictional universe, is made up of many races and species. Many of these species are represented in the actual game through armies and figurines. However, not all of the species that are important to the game and its storyline are available as an army. Instead, these 'extra' species are written about within the codexes, rulebooks and other literature available for the game in order to build up a more elaborate storyline and to explain the current state of the game better. The major ones are:
The same familiar species, Homo sapiens, has in the millennia passing after the present day spawned a number of minor subspecies referred to (somewhat pejoratively) as "abhumans". The two most seen abhumans are the ratlings (equivalent to halflings) and ogryns (equivalent to ogres). The vast majority of humans in the galaxy are nominally citizens of the Imperium of Man. It was created by the Emperor, an extremely powerful psyker, whose life is sustained artificially since the mortal wounds he suffered at the culmination of the Horus Heresy. The Emperor is now worshiped as a deity by the citizens of the Imperium. Currently the Imperium is controlled by a ruling body of 12 of the most influential and powerful men in the galaxy, collectively known as the High Lords of Terra. The Capital of the Imperium is the planet Terra. The Imperium features a wide variety of organizations and affiliations, which are represented in the game by a selection of five playable armies:
- Imperial Guard: The main fighting force of the Imperium.
- Space Marines: Elite genetically enhanced superhuman soldiers.
- Inquisition: Well known for their ruthlessness in battle.
- Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus (Daemon Hunters)
- The Grey Knights
- Ordo Hereticus (Heretic Hunters)
- The Sisters of Battle
- Ordo Xenos (Alien Hunters)
- The Deathwatch
- As well as other Orders.
- Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus (Daemon Hunters)
The other major factions of the Imperium, usually as supporting additions to the above armies, often playable in spinoffs of Warhammer 40,000:
- Adeptus Custodes: The Emperor's Bodyguard, ten thousand of the most powerful human warriors ever created.
- Adeptus Mechanicus: The tech-priests of Mars, and their associated vehicles, armies and Titan Legions
- Imperial Navy: Operate most military spacecraft and are responsible for interstellar transport of other Imperial forces.
- Officio Assassinorum: human assassins of the Imperium.
- Adeptus Arbites: Unflinching enforcers of Imperial secular law.
- Adeptus Titanicus: Pilots of the mighty Titan Legions
Many of these non-playable forces can be represented using existing forces; White Dwarf has featured armies such as a Custodian Guard force created using Space Marine rules and a Mechanicus force based upon Imperial Guard. Others, like the Arbites and the Officio Assassinorum, function as allies for existing armies, such as an Ordo Hereticus army including a Culexus Assassin. Forge World also produces a range of resin Titan models for use in Warhammer 40,000.
There are also human settlements outside of the Imperium: worlds cut off from the Imperium for generations, those that have rebelled against the Imperium, or that have merely been overlooked. The only non-Imperial humans playable in the game are:
- Gue'vesa: Humans who have rejected the Imperium and joined the Tau Empire and now fight alongside them for "the Greater Good".
- Lost and the Damned: Humans and mutants who worship and fight for the Chaos Gods.
The forces of Chaos consist of those fallen space marines who rebelled against the Emperor during the Horus Heresy, as well as renegades and corsairs who turned in the 10,000 years since then, and their daemonic allies.
- Chaos Space Marines: Those Space Marines who rebelled during the Horus Heresy.
- Daemons: Warp-spawned Daemons who serve Chaos.
- Lost and the Damned (Siege of Vraks Expansion/Apocalypse Formation): Mutants, human renegades and other outcasts sometimes led by Chaos Marines or supported by Daemons.
- Traitor Guard: Imperial Guard who have turned to Chaos.
- Dark Mechanicum: Sects of the Adeptus Mechanicus who rebeled against the emperor in the same way the adeptus astartes legions did.
Eldar are an ancient, elf-like race, who once were the dominant force in the galaxy. However, at some time in the past (most commonly conjectured to be thousands of years before the Humans' Great Crusade) the Eldar race experienced a dramatic catastrophe known to them as The Fall. The Eldar's highly psychic nature as a species had caused significant repercussions in the Immaterium, ultimately resulting in the genesis of a new Chaos entity known as Slaanesh. The Eldar's close link with the new god resulted in a massive intrusion of the Immaterium into the material realm (now known as the Eye of Terror) and the instantaneous destruction of many billions of Eldar; the majority of their species. There are four main factions of Eldar:
- Craftworld Eldar: Those Eldar who fled before the Fall on massive ships known as Craftworlds.
- Dark Eldar: Those Eldar who have embraced the fall, and continue to live a hedonistic life in hiding from the Chaos God Slaanesh.
- Exodites: Eldar who fled to the edge of Eldar space before the Fall and have embraced a more primitive lifestyle.
- Harlequins: A mysterious faction of the Eldar, they are highly in tune with the cycles of past and future - acting out stories of the past from before the Fall, often with galaxy-changing consequences. They live within the Webway, are highly adept warriors, and religiously guard the repository of Chaotic knowledge known as the Black Library. Their actions are unfathomable to all but those of their order - even to other Eldar - making them extremely unreliable allies, even to those of their own kin. For the Harlequins, the galaxy is their theatre; its inhabitants the actors - forcing them to repeat the same act millennium after millennium.
- Eldar Corsairs: Eldar that have left their craftworld to willingly become an Eldar outcast pirate.
In addition, there are Eldar known as Outcasts. These are Eldar who have left their home-world to wander the galaxy, and do not belong to any of the above-mentioned groups. They usually operate as mercenaries, pirates or adventurers. A final remaining faction are the Crone World, or Chaos, Eldar. Chaos Eldar serve Chaos in exchange for the protection of their souls and are some of the most potent servants of Chaos. First mentioned in earlier Games Workshop publications, their role in modern Warhammer is minimal or nonexistent.
The Orks are a warlike composite race of humanoids collectively known as "Orkoids". The Orkoid species share a unique biochemistry incorporating a second DNA strand resembling that of Terran algae or fungi, and this trait manifests as an exceptionally tough and adaptable physiology featuring vivid, green-pigmented skin. The dominant species, Orks, are considerably larger and more muscular than either Humans or Eldar, and are in comparison highly aggressive and brutish. They are often characterized as stupid, but they do in fact possess roughly the intelligence of an average human. It is their more direct methods of problem solving, and lack of curiosity or philosophical tendencies that can make them appear unintelligent. Orks are constant threat to all other races in the galaxy, for they live only to fight and die and know no fear. Only way to reason with Orks is to give them something else to fight. If Orks can't find other species to fight against, then they will start fighting against each other. It has been said that if Orks stopped this infighting, the entire galaxy would be doomed.
The Gretchin (known as "Grots" to the Orks) are far smaller and physically weaker, and much less aggressive, and as such are treated as a slave race by the Orks. They do however display considerable intelligence and are highly adept tinkerers, looters and thieves. Often thought of as cowardly (and often are), they can nevertheless show a highly vicious temperament when confronted, and like the Orks are not to be trifled with, particularly in numbers.
In the novel Kill Team (Thorpe, 2001), some Orks are seen operating as mercenaries for hire. This is usually a temporary situation, as Ork mercenaries will be just as happy to fight their current employers at a later date. They are stronger in melee combat than at ranged. They also are very weak when it comes to getting hit but the melee damage and the sheer amount of their forces makes up for that.
Other major species and races
- Necrons: An ancient race with unparalleled technology, entombed for countless millennia, who wish to rebuild their ancient empire.
- Tau: A young race just entering the galactic scene, with an amazingly high degree of technological utilization, who fight for a concept called The Greater Good. The playable race is the Tau Empire, which includes the Tau themselves as well as their allies:
- Tyranids: A horde of bio-engineered beasts from another galaxy, operating under one hive mind, and built to kill and make more of their kind from the compounds they devour.
Minor species, races, and groups
Along with the major races and species, there are a number of smaller races and species. Not all of these are active within the game, but all play a part in the history and storyline of the game.
- Abhumans: Descendants of humans, modified in various ways by mutation and the environmental conditions on the planets on which they have evolved.
- Beastmen: A human subspecies characterized by bestial features, normally heads and legs.
- Ogryn: A human subspecies characterized by larger muscles and smaller brains.
- Ratlings: A subspecies of human who are short and specialize in sniping.
- Squats: A race of short humanoids (equivalent to dwarves) who are believed to have been destroyed by the Tyranids.
- Barghesi: Aggressive race near the Grendl stars. No other data is known.
- Caradochian: Winged race often appearing as mercenaries.
- Chuffian: Use a characteristic Power Maul weapon. No other data is known.
- C'tan: The race that doomed the Necrontyr to live eternally as machines (Necrons).
- Demiurg: A race of short humanoids, allied with the Tau. May or may not be related to Squats.
- Daemon: Foul creatures made entirely of Warp material. The favourite servants of the Chaos Gods.
- Drugh: Large larval invertebrates with advanced psionic capability. Stem from the world of Pyrus I.
- Enslavers: Parasitical warp-based lifeforms that look for psychic hosts to transform into living Warp portals.
- Galg: Green, scaled, frog-like creatures rumored to be Tau-allies.
- Galthite: Xenos from the Oenorian Inner Systems.
- Hrud: A race of near-invisible scavenger aliens who infest several areas of the galaxy. Commonly considered to be little more than vermin.
- Jokaero: Resemble orangutans. They are famous for their instinctive technical brilliance.
- Kathap: A race using what appears to be organic weaponry.
- Khrave: Alien mind-eaters.
- K'Nib: Described as "festering clawed fiends", have 10 limbs.
- Kroot: Reptilian hunter species allied with the Tau.
- Lacrymole: A race of shape-shifters.
- Loxatl: Amphibian quadrupeds who communicate through infrasound. Grey-skinned and foul-smelling. They are known to smell like rancid milk and mint.
- Nicassar: A psychic race allied with the Tau.
- Necrontyr: The race that became the Necrons.
- Nekulli: Little known about the Nekulli race, apart from their Whisperlance technology.
- Old Ones: An ancient race who fought the C'tan.
- Psy-Gore: From Perseus; makers of crystalline firearms.
- Q'Orl: An insectoid species, whose empire is centered on the swarmworld of Loqiit.
- Scythian: Martial species devoted to the art of combat.
- Slann: An ancient reptilian species, connected to the Old Ones.
- Stryxis: Nomadic creatures said to resemble a humanoid canine embryo, with no young or gender differences ever reported. Voracious traders, their culture is eccentric and obscure, although they despise the Eldar.
- Tallerian: Reptiloid mercenary allies of the Tau.
- Thyrrus: A squid-like race with color-changing skin.
- Umbra: A species of floating spheres with a hard, black carapace.
- Viskeon: Huge, muscled humanoid creatures, when part of their body is cut off, a fetus forms from it, feeding off its nutrients to eventually become a fully formed Viskeon.
- Xenarch: An isolationist, Warp-worshiping species from the Galactic north.
- Yu'vath: A race of warp-worshipping sorcerer-slavers from the Koronus Expanse, apparently annihilated in the 39th millennium during the Angevin Crusade, although remnants of their empire persist.
- Zoat: Large, strange, centaur-like creatures that were conquered by the Tyranids. The Zoats were used as a slave race for the hive mind and its followers, and many revolts by the Zoats (brutally put down by the Tyranids) led to the near extinction of their race. Eradicated by the Imperium upon their arrival in Human space.
In addition to these, there are many other races that were wiped out during the Great Crusade and probably more yet to be found.