The Squats Lore has long been forgotten by many. and they are making their long awaited return to Warhammer 40k. Many said they would never return, some of the original game designers themselves. It was said Dwarfs no longer fit in 40k storytelling, or they were just too silly and whimsical with their trikes and overtly dwarfish appearance. Like them, hate them, or be in love with them, but the Leagues of Vottan are making their return to 40k.
If you’re like me, you weren’t around 40k back in the 80s when Squats were originally released or in 1993 when 2nd edition came out. We missed the glory days of these Space Dwarfs. But, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
We thought it would be fun to review the original lore of the Squats and compare it to what we know so far.
The Long Forgotten Squats Lore aka Space Dwarfs
They were on average 1.4 meters meters tall, having adapted to the gravity on the core worlds near the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Though they were adapted to these difficult to live on worlds, of all the abhumans encountered by the Imperium the Squats were most like humans.
A Brief History of Squats Origins
The Squats’ ancestors were originally descendants of colonists that left from Old Terra and reached the galactic core during the initial expansion of humanity into the Galaxy. This was still during the dark age of technology: at least a millenia before the Emperor and the dawn of the Imperium.
They left old Terra due to the resources, and minerals, running dry on earth. Since the worlds at the Galactic Core were rich in rare and strategic minerals it made sense for these brave colonists to head off in search of riches. When they arrived they found that these worlds were barren, lifeless and unsuitable for human habitation.
Most of these worlds were dark, bleak, and large with very intense gravity wells. The Squats often found themselves on planets with two to three times Terra’s gravity. These planets were not fun places to live: thin or almost no atmosphere, and constantly bombarded by solar and galactic radiation.
The Six Ages of Squats
Each age was signified by huge upheavals in Squats society and galactic conditions. The ages, listed in order are thus:
The Age of Founding
This is the equivalent to the Dark age of Technology records found throughout the Imperium. During this period, which is not technically part of Squats history, because they were yet to develop their physical characteristics that we know them by today. However, it is the foundign of the mining colonies that would serve as the foundation of the Squats Homeworlds.
20,000 standard years ago, from the present day of the 41st Millenium, think around the year 21,000, the transportation and communication between the squats and Terra was nearly continuous. Colony ships, and others, were constantly making the voyage back and forth. During this period the colonies were very important to Terra and the surrounding federation of planets that were under Terra’s control. Terra kept the mining colonies well supplied with many valuable goods that couldn’t be created on the rough Squats Worlds, chief among them food.
This lasted until the age of Strife in the 25th millenium and leads us to our next phase of Squats of Society.
The Age of Isolation
This age corresponds to the early part of the Age of Strife around 16,000 -18,000 years before the current period. The Galactic core was cutoff from the rest of the galaxy by the devastating Warp Storms. As you likely know this was the age of Strife and was the gestation period of the God Slaanesh. Many worlds were swallowed by the Warp never to return, and so the many worlds of Squats were cutoff from the rest of the Imperium. All contact between the rest of the human settled galaxy and the Squats was completely lost. They were alone and cutoff from humantiy.
However, the Squats were not cutoff from one another. The Squats homeworlds stayed in constant contact and began to organize for their mutual defense and provistion. Thus, instead of referring to Terra as the “homeworld” the Squats began referring to their newly inhabited planets near the Galactic core as “The Homeworlds”. Thus began thousands of years of isolation in an increasingly hostile galaxy.
Those that did survive grtew and prospered. Their worlds became impregnable strongholds that were powered by alternative technologies (from what was provided by the Imperium). Many Squat guilds were formed during this period to oversee politicallly and culturally important parts of society. Thus, the worlds formed into guild led “Leagues” that were along complex political lines.
Engineers produced during this time were more akin (pun intended) to what humans of old would consider an engineer: they were grounded in the scientific method instead of the religious dogma of Old Terra.
The Age of Trade
This took place during a brief respite in the Warp Storm and led to the Squats isolation ending and their encountering other intelligent life within the galaxy. For the first time they met the Orks and the Eldar. Dwarfs, Orks and Elves altogether…
At the beginning of this age some of the Squats homeworlds were attacked by these new races. The aliens quickly found out that the Squats were reslitent, tough, and not to be trifled with. AFter these initial skirmishes trade relationships were established and the Squats took full advantage. The Squats gladly traded their immense mineral wealth for mundane items like food, but most importantly for the first time Xenos High Technology Systems.
During the many conflicts of this perid between the Eldar and the Orks the Squats wisely chose to remain neutral. Though there were some small wars the Squats were inevitably drug into, they stuck to their trade agreements to protect themselves.
The Age of Wars
The age of Trade lasted nearly three millenia. This age of relative peace ended when a huge Ork Battle Fleet attempted a full scale invastion of the Squat Homeworlds. Losses were great throughout the homeworlds on both sides. Battles were especially intense inside the mineral and resource tunnels found throughout the Squats homeworlds. Dwarves and Orks fighting in tunnels, who knew!?
The Squats reached out to the Eldar for help, but no help was sent, forming a deep animosity between the Squats and the Eldar. The Squats regard this as the darkest chapter in their history due to the double betrayal of both races leading to the downfall of many of their homeworlds.
The Squats to this day mount expeditions, with the Adeptus Mechanicus, to these lost Squat homeworlds in search of lost Squat technology.
The Age of Rediscovery
This age overlaps with the Imperium’s Great Crusade and the current age of Imperium. As the Imperium came out of the age of Strife and began reuniting the planets of the galaxy the Squat worlds were recontacted and communication began once again. The Imperium found that a distinct culture had developed on the Squat homeworld. The Squats had extended outwards into the galaxy founding many homeworlds of their own, often on harsh inhospitable planets, though some inhabitable by Terran descended humans.
The Age of Imperium
Though the Squats were officially part of the Imperium of Man, and owed allegiance to the Emperor, they were not controlled by the Administratum. They were allowed quite a bit of autonomy. The leagues and strongholds had control over the worlds of Squats outside of Imperium control.
These newfound Squats were hard working, hardy people who did not like the other alien races due to their betrayal. This was nearly perfect from the Imperium’s point of view. The Imperium, therefore, allowed them a greater deal of self governance than they would normally permit. In exchange for this freedom, they traded exclusively with the Imperium and provided soliders for the Imperiums armies.
Additionally, the Squats brought with them technology that had never before been seen by the Adeptus Mechanicus. These pieces of technology were relics of the past before the Dark Age of Technology.
The most surprising aspect of the newfound Squat society, from the Imperium’s point of view, was that they did not follow the Imperial Cult. Instead they practice a form of Ancestor Worship. They believe that when a Squat dies they join their ancestors.
The Lore of the Leagues – Lore Update from Games Workshop
There are some noticeable changes to the Squats lore that have been released from GW thus far. Some things seem to have remained the same.
First, the story remains that the Squats were cutoff from the rest of the Imperium on worlds near the Galactic core that were tough, barren and hard living. The Squats biology has clearly been adapted to make them shorter, hardier, and have huge heads. All fitting with the previous lore of being Space Dwarfs (though I believe that’s being dropped).
Second, they still ride trikes:
The Changes in Squats Lore (so far) for 9th Edition
But from there the changes are coming in quick:
First, They’re not really dwarfs any longer. They’re short, and hardy, and tough, and like to mine for resources, but that’s as far as it goes. Their biology instead is now cloned. From the Warhammer Community blog we learned today:
Likewise, it is a First Truth that the Kin have been a cloned people from the very start.
The First Ancestors are held responsible for the cloneskeins – the systems of stable mutations that underpin the entire genetic structure of the Kin to this day. The gene pool drawn upon by the Leagues of Votann is stable, deep, and varied – this is no race of identical clones. In practical terms, the cloneskeins have produced a species with denser bones and muscles than baseline humans, higher red and white blood cell counts, and formidable strength and resilience.
Such was the craft of the First Ancestors that even Kin souls are engineered – they shine more dimly against the tides of the warp than their distant human cousins, with no evidence of uncontrolled psychic mutation. Indeed, only those with the appropriate psychically active cloneskein can activate the so-called barrier-tech the Kin employ to access the empyrean.
This is a huge deviation from the original lore, and my guess is that this is going to lead to some very interesting stories as well as abilities on the table top.
Second, and this is part of their original lore, but it seems to have deviated: they use technology that the rest of the Imperium does not. We still don’t know exactly what the Ancestor Cores contain, but it seems that if they contain all information of the kin since their earliest days, what else might they contain?
Could these Ancestor Cores be some kind of Artificial Intelligence?
What effect will their Cloneskein have on their story and their gameplay?
What other mysteries do they contain that we cannot fathom the Squats are bringing back from the depths of the Galaxy’s Core to the Imperium?
Only time will tell, but we cannot wait to find out!