Saturday, 25 March 2017

Lady Atia's Squats - Planning a Faction

Howdy Guys and Girls :)

Today I want to talk a bit about an upcoming project of mine - the Squats. As some of you may know, Space Dwarfs are one of my dream-projects and GW's upcoming release of Kharadron Overlords will give me enough material to convert my own Squats or use as cross-over models for both systems. So let's talk about the basics - what are the Squats fluff wise and what I want to do with mine!


The Fluff - Squats, and Empire within an Empire





"Do not underestimate the Squats. They survived for millennia cut off from the Imperium and assailed from all sides. Their determination and resilience is an example to all."
-  Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves Legion


"The Squats (Homo sapiens rotundus) were short, stocky and physically hardy Abhumans who were adapted to the heavy gravity conditions that predominated on the worlds they had settled near the core of the Milky Way Galaxy. Of all the Abhuman types encountered by the Imperium, they most closely resembled baseline humans. The Squats' ancestors were human colonists who reached the heavy-gravity mineral-rich worlds around the galactic core during the time of the initial expansion of humanity beyond Earth's own Solar System during the Dark Age of Technology, many millennia before the emergence of the Emperor of Mankind and the dawn of the Age of the Imperium. The colonisation came at the right time, as Old Earth's own mineral wealth had been largely depleted. The worlds at the galactic core were rich in rare and unique strategic minerals, but in terms of the existence of life they were barren and unsuited for human colonisaton. These worlds were dark and bleak planets. Their gravity was intense, usually two or three times that of the Earth. Their atmospheres were either thin or non-existent. Even those planets that did possess atmospheres were continuously blasted by tremendous radiation storms produced by the massive black hole located in the galaxy's core.

Once settled, these planets became rich Mining Worlds. The colonists were forced to become self-sufficient, providing their own underground hydroponically-grown food. Due to the hostile nature of these worlds' surfaces, the colonists formed underground societies. During the long isolation of Mankind produced by the Warp Storms of the Age of Strife, the Squat race genetically adapted to their new homes, evolving or genetically engineering themselves to better suit their environment, becoming far tougher, more resilient and physically shorter with a denser skeletomuscular system than found in the baseline human genome. The Squats had some of the best scientists and engineers in history who explored the frontiers of human science and technology without the constraints of religion and ritual, in contrast with the dogma-bound humans of the Mechanicum who followed a very different path on Mars during the same period.

As the Imperium of Man emerged from the Age of Strife and began to reunite the scattered worlds of humanity, the Squat Homeworlds were rediscovered and contact with the Imperium was established. The Imperium found that a distinct culture had developed on the Squat Homeworlds, and that the Squats had moved outwards through the galaxy, extending their own domains. Often they settled harsh planets similar in climate to their Homeworlds, but they also occupied more conventional worlds able to support normal human civilisations."

What I want to do with my version of Squats


The fluff above will be the base for my Squats - abhumans, part of the Imperium but still independend (basically an empire within an empire, similiar to the Mechanicum). They will also split during the heresy - some of them will stay true to the Empire, while others will want to do their own thing or even turn to Chaos (it's whispered some Squat homeworlds have secret cults of the daemonic Hashut going on hidden under their surfaces ...).

I'll try to re-use most if not all of the old 1st/2nd edition fluff about them - but probably not everything. If you look at the state of some other factions during Rogue Trader - especially Orks, Guard and Eldar - you will see that most of them used similiar stuff than Space Marines - Boltguns, Dreadnoughts, Rhinos and Land Raiders (Yes, Harlequin Land Raiders were a thing!). The same goes for Squats back then. They had rhinos, boltguns and bikes. 



My Squats will be a little bit more unique - they are supposed to be their own faction, like Solar Auxilia or Mechanicum, not just Imperial Army/Marines 2.0. I want to follow Forgeworlds' way of doing the Legio Custodes - new unique looking stuff instead of "just" Land Raiders and Rhinos. I imagine them mostly using their own weapons and tanks/airships. The boltgun for example was a Terran' weapon so they should have limited access to it at the time of the Great Crusade. I think they would have their own weapon and variations - better plasma stuff, grav and anti-grav engines, laserweapons. I guess some of the squat core-STC's would be used on other imperial weapons and tanks (maybe it was the Squats assaultcannons that actually made the kheres pattern working?!). 

At that point I would like to share a comment from Jervis Johnson about the removing of the Squats:

"No, the reason that the Squats were dropped was because the creatives in the Studio (people like me, Rick, Andy C, Gav etc) felt that we had failed to do the Dwarf 'archetype' justice in its 40K incarnation. From the name of the race (Squats - what *were* we thinking?!?!) through to the short bikers motif, we had managed to turn what was a proud and noble race in Warhammer and the other literary forms where the archetype exists, into a joke race in 40K. We only fully realized what we had done when we were working on the 2nd edition of 40K. Try as we might, we just couldn't work up much enthusiasm for the Squats. The mistake we made then (deeply regretted since) was to leave them in the background and the 'get you by' army list book that appeared. With hindsight, we should have dropped the Squats back then, and saved ourselves a lot of grief later on.

Anyway, the Squats made it into 2nd edition, and since we were doing army books for each of the races, we started to try and figure out what to do with them. Unfortunately we just couldn't figure out a way to update them and get them to work that we felt was good enough. The 'art' of working on an army as a designer is to find the thing that you think is cool and exciting about an army, and work it up into a strong theme. This 'muse' didn't strike any of us, and so, rather than bring out a second-rate product simply re-hashing the old background, we kept doing other army books instead, with stuff we did feel inspired by.

Now, while this was all going on for 40K, we were actually doing some rather good stuff for the Squats in Epic. On this scale there was a natural tendency to focus on the big 'hand-made' war machines the Squat artisans produced, and this created an army with a feel that was very different to the biker hordes in 40K. However, this tended to reinforce the problems we saw in the Squat background rather than alleviate them, underlining what we *should* have done with the Squats in 40K."









With that in mind I really want to do them justice - making them a proud army that will fight alongside Space Marines, Mechanicum and Solar Auxilia against Xenos and Traitors during the Great Crusade, the Horus Heresy and beyond! I also want to create rules for them sometimes next year - with the help of Drake, once any rules changes for 40k's next edition are clear.







If there are any wishes you have for my Squats - write it in the comments below. I'm currently still in the "brain storming phase", so any help is welcome :)


Regards,
Lady Atia

47 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Me neither - this will probably a slow project though - I want to get them right ^.^

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    2. This is going to be so cool!

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  2. have you seen these?
    http://spikyratpack.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/the-brotherhood-of-steel-story-so-far.html

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    1. Yeah they are quite cool :)

      That said, I would try to keep boltguns quite rare - they were developed on terra and afaik not mass produced 'till the Great Crusade kicked off (think Thunder Warriors were the first to use them). Hence Great Crusade/Heresy era Squats would probably have not recieved that many yet and would use their own weapons instead.

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    2. So you see boltguns as a Sergeant level or a Lieutenant level piece of wargear?

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    3. The thing with boltguns - they would be something the Squats got from the Imperium (and maybe they would modify them, something that's actually quite cool). The conflict here is between having something unique (like let's say Mechanicum weapons) and making a drawback to "1st edition Squats/Artworks". At the end of the day, I may just include the option in the armylist but ignore the boltguns for my personal army. It's also worth noting that newly colonised Squat worlds would probably use a mix between Squat and Imperial STC's and weapons, and I would like to include Squat abhuman regiments in the background - but my idea and list will be the "Clan Army" (I really need a cool name like Questoris Knights for them), similiar to Taghmata vs Marsian Skitarii.

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  3. Land train please. Flip those airships upside down and I think you will be onto something.

    Termites for drop quad equivalents, perhaps more scatter but no chance of being intercepted, maybe with a damage effect should they emerge near another unit.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with.

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    1. Haha - I like the idea of the Land Train, but no clue how to do that one yet (or the Cyclops ^^).

      Termites and Airships are a must have!

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    2. Wasn't there an updated take on the land train in White Dwarf a few years back, made from Land Raider bits?

      I went hunting for it and I think this was it:
      http://media.moddb.com/images/groups/1/3/2055/1008309_514295875285545_18816044_o.jpg

      Though I think you'd get a lot of mileage out of kitbashing Taurox and Goliath bits into Squat tech. The rock grinder bits on the Goliath in particular seem to fit the theme.

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    3. Maybe for the sake of distinctiveness and playing off the land train vibe, what if all your vehicles had a series of smaller track sections... kinda like the Taurox but where each section of the vehicle body a set of tracks connects is a separate and articulating section... joined together less like trailers or train cars and more like those double length busses. Each section would be modular and different combinations would make specific units.

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    4. @Qlippot: I remember that train from the first Apocalypse book, really really cool. The concept works, I would just have to go more steampunk than Imperial Gothic, but yeah, that's awesome :)

      @Jeffrey: Yeah, great idea. Modular is a must have, simple for transport and configuration :)

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  4. Replies
    1. Now you know why Squats need airships ;)

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    2. Yep forget tunnels! My Squats will be mining high gravity gas giants!

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    3. Indeed - I imagine they would also use the airship stuff to fly through giant tunnels/mining areas :)

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  5. What about transports along these lines, converted Stormwolf flyer or Dreadknight Dreadnought type thing
    http://spikyratpack.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/adding-mobility-apc.html
    http://spikyratpack.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/bringing-in-heavy-support-exo-armour.html

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    1. Haha that Stormwolf looks so cute. And some kind of dreadnought type model is already on my to-do list :)

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  6. Did you read the webcomic Wolf & sister by Nachomon? He had really good ideas and designs for Squats, like biggers Exoarmour (with hammers and shields) and he draw light, heavy a really heavy infantery units.

    In fact we were about to make some models and try lucky in a KS campaign, but real life don't allow us...

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    1. Not yet, will read it later today :)

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  7. I think that the problem with the squats is as stated in the quotation above, they need the large bad ass tanks and equipment. This does mean a lot of scratch building and design, and if done right can be really cool, but I would guess also quite challenging. GW could probably do it with the new plastic tech of today. If you are up for it I would love to see a land train with squads fighting out of it instead of individual transports and heavy support. Good luck, can't wait to see what you come up with.

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    1. Yeah, I imagine them as attacking from all sides - you would have stuff like a Land Train, Rapiers and Thudd-Cannons - stuff like Termites for "drop assault" and of course the airships (fun fact, Squats were the first faction in EPIC to get access to flyers via airships and gyrocopters!).

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  8. The best part about Squats for me were their Ancestor Lords. Probably the most evocative entry in the entire Codex Imperialis book that came with 2nd ed. Whatever Squat army I made would have to include an Ancestor Lord.

    The new sky pirate dwarves look great, but I am a bit stuck on how to adapt them well. I think a purpose-built list will be needed, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    One other suggestion, and I worry it makes me That Player. Keeping the metal balloon theme in a nonmagical setting almost necessitates some kind of gravitic technology on their part (those aren't filled with gas is all I'm saying). Perhaps this is where grav-gun technology comes from, why the imperium doesn't have it in HH (except that one weird mechanicum entry) but does in 40k? It makes sense fluff wise, but I loathe the grav gun mechanic, and it would be even more disastrous applied en-masse to the heresy era. But perhaps you can make something better out of it.

    Ok, last idea - the single-pilot balloons should totally be Jet Pack Infantry

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    1. Oh yeah, the Ancestor stuff is quite cool and who doesn't like a buffed psycher monster dwarf?^^

      I love the Sky Pirates and the first thing I said when I saw them - Squats are back. For me, they look like Mantics Forgefathers done right. They are the perfect missing link between Mechanicum, Solar Auxilia and Space Dwarf :)

      Regarding the metal ballon theme - in 30k, it will be Anti-Grav technology. And yep, the grav-gun technology was exactly what I wanted to do. Squat worlds have quite an intense Gravity so I figured they would have to develop technology to counter that - hence they created anti-grav airships, anti-grav jetpacks and even anti-grav dreadnoughts (anyone remember 1st edition jump pack dreads?^^). I imagine once the Mechanicum started to lern from the Squat basic STC's they would use it for their own grav weapons (which we would see during the Scouring and later as support weapon for 40k Marines). The only point to figure out is to decide where Arkhan Land comes into all of this - maybe his anti grav technology was still easier to produce than Squat ones, or just came earlier. That's something I have to figure out!

      Regarding rules - I'm honest with you, I will think about the rules once the next edition hits.

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    2. What was the fluff for the Ancestor again? Sounds interesting? Also, whats the consensus on proposing fluff ideas?

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    3. From 4chan:

      "Living Ancestors are super, duper old Squats who have become psychic by sheer age alone. The typical lifespan for a Squat is about 300 years. However a small portion of the population can live up to 800 years. This select part of Squat society are treated with enormous respect, being known as Living Ancestors or Spirit Lords. On the other hand /tg/ likes to imagine them with the personality akin to Papalith and Bjorn the Fell Handed.

      They are treated as living members of the ancestor group which forms the basis of Squat religion. Their long lives have filled them with wisdom, as well as enhanced their psychic potential, which begin to manifest at around 500 years old. The fact that psychic powers are practically unknown amongst other Squats makes the Living Ancestor doubly venerated."

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  9. I think the starting point is to think about the ways the Squat technology should be more advanced or less advanced than the average imperial world. Are the Squats defined by a single technology like Imperial Knight households or are they more broadly advanced and diverse in their technology?

    The traditional focal point of their army have been large or superheavy vehicles... is that a part of how you want to portray them?

    A couple of things that existed in Rogue Trader that no longer exist... Dreadnought's that were simply piloted like sentinels and dreadnought's with jump packs. Either presents an interesting re-interpretation of the Exo-armor concept without simply copying it as a terminator armor analog. Exo-armor might also be interesting as more of a Robot/monstrous creature sized thing... more on this thought later..:

    Central to the Squat/Space Dwarf concept... they are miners and they are craftsmen...
    In the past GW has 3 instances of representing repurposed mining equipment: breacher squad lascutters, Goliath heavy mining lasers and rock grinder, and the hades drill...
    Craftsmanship has been a case of weapons being mastercrafted or re-rolling on 1s or with 30k it's more of a bonus to strength or AP.

    Really these two themes stand counter to each other and how you chose to balance them will really define your approach. You have the utilitarian vs masterworks... you have pragmatism vs the ostentatious.

    On one hand you could go with some form of Squats that in their lore wear utilitarian carapace armor carrying mining lasers modified into las-rifles... or you can go to the other extreme of power armor and exo-armored Squats in a few monolithic and unique superheavy vehicles.

    If I were designing a Squat army list from scratch I would generally think of the mining units in the vein of how IG conscripts or Eldar guardians fictionally fit into those armies.

    I think their basic infantry should be more of a powered armored infantry but with something like slow and purposeful.

    Central to how the army is characterized... I think Exo-armor reimagined as something like conventionally manned Dreadnoughts supported directly or indirectly with robots and automata playing off more of the mysticism of the Golem... In the lore Automata get around the prohibition on artificial intelligence by using animal brains as the sorta CPU of the robot... I imagine Automata as some technology in between that and Eldar Wraith Guard... an inelegant version. With either those beefier Exo-armor/Dreadnought acting like cortex controllers, bypassing by making the equivalent to paragons of metal, or just coming up with some uniquely Squat take on that control hub mechanic.

    I picture Squats infantry in many ways being largely slow moving that once it gets in close it will hit hard. A few close combat attacks being made with otherwise unwieldy weapons but at initiative.

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    1. Regarding Squat technology - that's quite an interesting point. The Squats were born during the Dark Age of Technology, and their original STC's would be based on mining gear - but during the time of isolation they would have started to invent their own stuff, something that's really different from (most of) the Mechanicum. I imagine that most of the original plans would later be shared with the Marsians once they joined the Imperium - stuff that may open up Goliaths, Grav technology, better assault cannons or giant anti-grav ships (like the one Mortarion uses). That said, the look of (pure) Squat technology would still be quite steam-punky - it's made from scratch and I imagine the Squat enginners as kind of stunty Leonardo Da Vinci's - creating stuff in an universe where you don't create stuff!

      Regarding "they are miners and they are craftsmen" - I don't think one stands against the others. I imagine they would be the best miners out there (maybe besides the Demiurg who are Xenos Gnomes and should be exterminated!). They would have made mining an artform!

      The basic units would wear Carapace Armour - fully sealed (like all other Squats - no bit of skin since most Squat worlds are toxic). Higher ranked ones would have something akin to power armour, aswell as Exo-Armour (which may have inspired the first Cataphractii pattern Terminator armours!).

      Regarding slow moving Squats - that's a thing, and the reason why they have stuff like airships, termites, land trains and anti-grav jet packs. Not sure about bikes, since they "stunty biker" is something GW disliked about them - but again, I may just include them in the army list for people who really want them?

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    2. First of all, I love that people are actually talking about this. There is so much potential to explore and so many different ways you can go. There are undoubtedly going to be differing levels of opinion, especially with regard to technology and themes. I just hope everyone remains civil.

      In terms of technological inspiration, I think a good starting point would be the Genestealer Cult codex, as many of the special items and wargear are intended to be re-purposed mining equipment. That will give point costs as a framework. from there, the items can be grafted onto other items. For instance, putting a seismic cannon on a predator would cost how much?

      You can also use the fluff idea of different mining environments to explain army variations (sort of like chapter tactics). An ice mining squat clan that works on lethal comets or frozen death worlds would emphasize use of flamers. On the other hand, a clan of cloud-miners operating in a gas giant might need harpoons to fend off airbourne predators.

      Of course, you can go full Mines of Moria and have some orphaned clans fighting to reclaim their ancient family stakes from rampaging orks or awakened necrons. You could also have nomadic clans of Squats prospectors that go hunting for fresh locations to set up and exploit (imperial regulations be damned)

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    3. Long winded reply here....
      I had a better thing written, before google messed it up.
      Anyway, here goes:
      Agree with Jeff's point on technology- most places in the galaxy barely survived the age of strife, and if they had advanced technology of one sort, they would 'lose' some of another. Given that their entire biology changed to an extent, I would love to poke at the changes in their technology and their culture. I mean, look at the world right now for example- there are still primitive cultures living exactly as they did (sort of ) hundreds of years ago. Esp Amazonian tribes and other isolated tribes. further expanding on that, are the STC's- the old plot device of older editions. Maybe the Imperials 'relearned' the technology of the Leviathans/Capital Imperialis from a squat STC (re: the Squat Colossus). Rhinos were fairly common in Squat armies, esp the epic ones, so there must have been *some* sort of STC tech.
      (Maybe even boltguns in the style of Greyfax's crossbow?)
      Miners and craftsmen are one way to approach the squats, but what about other traits? A clan that focused on trading- they have more interstellar ships, and the strongest trade treaties. Their mining and exploration teams are minimal, but perhaps they drawn on regular human (or even Xenos) technology? Perhaps even expand on it. Perhaps a squat team worked with the admech on the hot-shot lasguns as a stop gap measure?
      Speaking of admech, I would think there is a lot of love/hate there- especially if there is a huge divide in how the squats maintain and create technology. Not so big before the heresy- as the mechanicus was more logical then, but still something that could be expanded on easily. Primarchs like Vulkan, Ferrus- even ol' Perturabo- would probably have significant dealings with them (unless they saw the squats technology as vastly inferior).
      Their fights against ork-waaghs and such aside, Mr. Short's 'moria' statement gave me another idea- some of the larger (or any clan, really) could have the ability to create Calth-like, self contained structures under the ground. (This especially comes into play with the partially accepted fluff that Tyranids ate the squats.) Allowing the clans to hide (like necrons, who they may have copied the idea from) and re-emerge later, like a short, angry version of Monty Pythons Inquisiton.

      Something that would be really fun to elaborate on (especially if the clans/clan structure is fleshed out) is how they side with Horus/The emperor during the heresy. (Or not). Horus is a statesman, and the idea that he could appeal to the greed- or honor of some squats (going off the 'dwarf' archetype, which is somewhere between Ferengi and Klingon) to join his cause would be interesting. Though I could be the only one. Squats may have joined with Horus too because they didn't want to be 'abhuman' or 2nd class imperials? Who knows. Squats as pirates would be quick to come by too. If the Imperials couldn't hold together for 200 years, after the clans survived all that time, why ally themselves with weakness?

      I'm amused that Mr. Jeffery, and Mr. Short and I had a lot of the same ideas. Cheers, you guys!

      I would love to help/be a part of this project, if help is ever needed.

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    4. Thanks buddies :)

      Regarding the Heresy - my versions of Squats will indeed split up during the Heresy (like they did in the original rogue trader fluff). Some will stay loyal to the Emperor, others will join Horus (and these have various reasons, one of it would be secret chaos cults who venerable a daemonic entity known as Hashut that got banished from Squat society thousands of years ago ....). Again some few may join a Blackshield band or may turn into pirates. There are also Squat worlds who got lost to the Warp during the Age of Strife - who knows what strange things are going on there .... :)

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  10. https://1d4chan.org/wiki/Codex_-_Squats

    Use thiiiiiis

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    1. Hey! That's quite a cool list, and lots of inspiration there - thanks for linking :)

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  11. Best of luck, I really look forward to seeing what you do with the concept.

    On the subject of land trains, no idea for the carriages but the Land Speeder, plus some tracks, might make a good engine to pull it.

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    1. Thanks buddy :)

      I'll probably slowly build infantry and airship stuff before having to think about the big ones - so I have some time to plan that hehe :D

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  12. A great read - both the post and the comments! Squats are one of those armies that for some of us is a must. For now I still have too many other projects so I am really enjoying seeing where other people take this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. Indeed! I'll do them slowly, because I want to do them right and need to do them alongside my Thousand Sons (the big project) and some other smaller ones (from Assassins to Stormcasts). But as soon as they allowed us to talk about the AoS dwarfes I knew I had to start to plan and talk about my interpretation of Squats :)

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  13. http://sciborminiatures.com/pow.php?absol=1&co=i/2015/big/dwarf_cruiser_mech_suit_1_01.jpg

    Gotta be along the lines your thinking?

    Conk

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    1. While cool, I think it has too many "Space Wolf" bling on him. Great model though and the concept of the power armour is quite cool, so I may use the model but change the details quite a bit :)

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  14. Make good use of the Imperial Armour - Lord of War options! Especially Sub-orbital flight wings

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    1. Well, we will all have to wait how 30k plays once 8th hits, right? I'll start to think about rules once we have it in our hands, but Questoris Knights also have a different FOC already, so that shouldn't be an issue :)

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  15. Waaaay back a space marine novel featured a squat riding a cybernetic ambull. Kind of like a charonite ogryn I guess. Pretty cool subterranean cavalry.
    Aside from that, I see them as having loads of tunneling machines - it makes sense that they'd think of going down as much as of going up. Mole mortars and heavier mole artillery. They'd also dug tunnels packed with explosives and then detonate them under enemy positions, just like WWI sappers. Because of living in tunnels they'd probably have short ranged, reliable weapons; shotguns, flamers, autoguns and the like.

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    1. Haha - cyber dogs as mounts - yep, that sounds cute!

      Fun fact - WW1 sappers, gas and flamers was the idea behind Space Skaven - another faction that I would like to do once AoS brings us some cool weirdy Skaven that look like they should be in 40k already :P

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  16. hope it turns out well ... ive got a buttload of old 40k squats waiting to be dusted off and repainted :)

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  17. i plan to do the same thing when they come out i need to find an old codex and ry to modify it and make them more to the fluff of how sqauts are.. i ameven planning to use the mechanicus transport part of the land train they had.
    good luck nd please post pics or ur buties to.

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    1. Sadly there was no Codex for them - most fluff came either from EPIC or Rogue Trader afaik :(

      And of course - the idea is to do them slowly but keep you guys up to date on the blog :)

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