Loopy from the Masters of the Forge Narrative 40k podcast has decided to risk life and limb to discuss a topic that is near and dear to so many hearts. If you’ve ever been interested to learn what all the hubbub is with the Squats, read on…
Squats, or Homo Sapiens Rotundus, are basically Space Dwarves. Their cultures developed on several worlds near the galactic core where many young stars are born from the corpses of their dead predecessors, creating rocky planets full of rich minerals. These heavy planets needed a specific subspecies of human capable of withstanding the constant gravitational forces on those worlds. As such, the Squats were developed for this purpose. The worlds were harsh and bombarded by radiation as the galactic core periodically eats stars and other celestial objects. As such, the Squats developed underground mining societies. The Imperium relied heavily upon the riches mined from Squat worlds and maintained constant communication and a steady supply of foodstuffs and other material which was harder to come by in the core worlds.
Because of their sheltered existence, all through the dark times, the Squats still managed to flourish and grow their technical skills. The Squat society remained largely an atheistic Technocracy, allowing them to continue to experiment on machinery as well as their own genome. It was only with these advancements that the Squat Homeworlds survived the Age of Strife.
As the Warp Storms abated, the Squats began trade relationships with several species, including the Orks and the Eldar. Other races also ventured out into space in search of plunder and found the Squat homeworlds heavily defended and not really worth messing with. The Orks were a different story, of course. Warlord Grunhag the Flayer launched a WAAGH! against all the Squat Homeworlds in a massive coordinated attack that left the Squats reeling.
When the Squats reached out to their Eldar trading partners for assistance, their cries for help fell on deaf ears and several Squat Homeworlds were wiped out by the Orks. Forever more, the Squats would hold deep resentment for the actions of their former allies. Resentment is a strong trait among Squats. They will hold grudges for centuries or even millennia. Squats are not immune to in-fighting. Different Homeworlds can sometimes hold grudges against one another and even fight over resources. If you cross a Squat, it’s best to find a resolution for your disagreement quickly before the grudge has time to settle in on their psyche.
When the burgeoning Imperium finally encountered the Squat Homeworlds, the disillusioned Squats were ready to fold themselves back into humanity again. They happily signed exclusive trade deals with their gene cousins, though the Imperium did agree to grant the Squats a certain amount of autonomy. The Machine Cult and the Imperial Cult, when they spread after the fall of the Emperor, were not welcome among the Squat Homeworlds. Instead, the Squats maintained their Technocratic ways, although they did hold a deep reverence for their Ancestors which did resemble a religion of sorts. Some Squats who were folded into the Astra Militarum were convinced by the ecclesiarchy to accept the Emperor of Mankind as a deity under the guise of the protector of their Ancestral spirits.
Forces of the Squats
In war, the Squats brought their massive war machines to bear against the enemy. Names like the Colossus, the Cyclops, the Leviathan, and the Land Train are renowned throughout the Imperium as bulwarks of devastation on the battlefields of the far future. Squats also developed and used other land vehicles such as trikes for rapid land transit and also Exo-Armour for fighting hand to hand with dangerous infantry threats.
The Leviathan mobile fortress is still in use by the Imperium today in various forms, although it is a rare sight indeed. These are enormous ambulatory bulwarks with huge weapons arrays, void shields, and enough carrying capacity to field a regiment of soldiers. Also built on this chassis were the Cyclops and the Colossus (not to be confused with the Chimera-hulled vehicles of the Astra Militarum). The Cyclops was designed to fight other Squat war machines and mounted an enormous Hellfury Cannon which was actually a starship-scale weapon. It was also fitted with enormous Doomstorm missiles which could wipe out swaths of infantry and armour with their plasma warheads. The Colossus resembles the Leviathan, except it foregoes much of its carrying capacity for additional weaponry.
And the Land Train… well, that’s just silly. It is unknown whether the name of the Land Train refers to the train’s mode of locomotion or whether it was developed by Arkhan Land. The latter seems somewhat of a stretch.
The Squats also used several Imperial vehicles such as Land Raiders and Rhinos. They made heavy use of burrowing vehicles such as the Termite, Mole, and Hades Breaching Drill due to their familiarity with such activities. The Termite has recently been re-released by Forge World as a new resin kit.
Fate of the Squats
Sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s (I haven’t been able to find out when), Jervis Johnson made a post in the Specialist Games forum of Games Workshop’s website describing what happened on the Squat Homeworlds. In the late 41st Millennium, a splinter fleet found its way to the core worlds. Starved for sustenance, the Tyranids devoured one Homeworld after another, taking a toll of life measured in the billions of souls. The Squat worlds that remained after this tragedy were taken over lock stock and barrel by the Administratum and the Squat race was all but homogenized into Imperial society. One would rightly question the canonicity of this story. At any rate, the Squats all but disappeared from the lore for years.
There has been much ado about squats. Rumors abound as to the cause of their removal from Warhammer 40,000, right down to some rather unfortunate language used by one of the lead developers. We don’t really know if any of this is true, so we won’t repeat it here. What we do know is that the developers felt that they had not represented the species well in the game and they had rendered them as a comic relief rather than infusing them with the grimdark gravitas they needed to fit into the setting. Indeed, the very name makes for a difficult inclusion in the dark future of the 41st Millennium.
Future of the Squats
At most, one might argue that the Squats would make a fine inclusion as part of the Astra Militarum, similar to Ratlings and Ogryn which, for their part, are also a bit of comic relief in the game. A full squats army would be a somewhat problematic fit in the game we have today.
Mantic, Hasslefree Miniatures, and Ramshackle Games all have options for space dwarf miniatures and in Age of Sigmar we have the Kharadron Overlords.
And, now, thanks to that adorable klutz, Duncan Rhodes, we have Grendl Grendelsen. His lore does not specifically mention the events from Jervis Johnson’s ill fated forum post, but it does say his “group was wiped out”, kind of leaving it open to interpretation.
Of course, few have spoken up about the real danger to the Squats as a modern faction. If you look at the present galactic map, you’ll see that the Cicatrix Maledictum not only rips through the core worlds, but has totally overtaken them. All of the Squat homeworlds in that region have been plunged into the thickest zone of warp storms in the galaxy save the Eye of Terror itself.
It’s unclear if there’s much that can come from that.
That doesn’t mean we can’t expect some kind of squat release in the future. The Squats are still out there, if in a fractious state. Games Workshop could even work the Kharadron Overlords into a 40k release as a group of nomadic Squats with crazy Warp-manipulating technology. Who knows?
What we do know is that people will empty their wallets when they do. I know I will.
Do you like this narrative article? Check out the Masters of the Forge podcast for more!
Feel free to share your views or clarify anything you may know in the comments below!
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!