Welcome to Retro-Hammer, a series here at Master of Magics that has a look at the long and varied history of Games Workshops product line. Since the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 have been around for quite a while (and Games Workshop itself has been producing games even before these were a thing) it is unsurprising that there are a decent number of weird and wonderful things that have been produced by our favourite miniatures company.
Today we head way, way back to the very start of Warhammer 40,000 and have a look at a race that we don’t see anymore, even though they once ruled the stars. A race that’s influence is felt throughout the entire galaxy and were the guiding hand behind many of the races in the setting. Now a days they are know as the Old Ones, but back in the day they had another name. That’s right. Today, we are looking at the Space Slann.
Its important to remember before we move on that the lore of Warhammer 40,000 now is very different from what it was back when the game first hit the shelves. In those early days there were so many different ideas been thrown about it would be hard to believe it was the same game we play now. The Primarchs, Chaos and other concepts that we take for granted in the setting were not even a thing yet, and as a result the game had a very different feel to it. One of those early concepts was the race that we know today as the Old Ones. Back then though they had another name.
The Space Slann (also known as the Old Slann) were a race of amphibious creatures that claim to be the oldest of all the known races. They had a galactic empire long before many of the races we know today had even evolved, and they discovered and nurtured many primitive creatures such as the Aeldari. The taught the ancient Aeldari of the warp and its dangers and may have be responsible for the creation of many different races, such as Humans, Orks, and Jokaero thanks to their genetic tinkering.
It was said that in the realms of psychic-philosophy and mystic-technology the Slann had no equal, as they are fulfilling themselves by study of spiritual life-forces and the secret powers of other realities. It was the Slann who taught the Aeldari the principles of warp-tunnel engineering, which would lay the groundwork for the webway, which as well all know is kinda a big deal.
Eventually, these Slann would retreat from the galaxy and reside in the galactic north, far away from the other races, although a number of Slann could be found living more primitive lives on a number of worlds. As stated in the Rogue Trader Rulebook “They do not seem to have suffered from any physical conflict, wars, or disasters. Rather, the reasons for abandoning their active role in galactic affairs and falling into long dream of indolence and introspection appear to be have been driven by a sudden and drastic change in their race’s motivations.”
“With their change in motivations, they have lost interest in material conquest and power. It is perhaps the case that the Slann had discovered something yet unknown to other races, a secret of the universe, a spiritual truth or a supreme metaphysical insight.” From this point onwards , they would have little if no contact with the other races of the galaxy.
This wasn’t just interesting lore either. These xenos had a whole (if limited) miniature line and rules for running an army of them in the main Rogue Trader rulebook. Organised into warband consisting of Braves (warriors) and Chiefs (leader) and Mages (psykers), they would typically number around twelve models at most (which is a far cry from the mass armies we see on the tabletops of today). They would be armed with a combination of mundane and exotic equipment, such as Lasguns, Flak Armour, Displacer Fields and Neuro-Disruptors to mention only a few.
Sadly, like most concepts from Rogue Trader, the Slann would make no further appearances in the setting once the 2nd edition of the game was released. Much of their background would be used to establish the lore of the Old Ones, as mentioned in Codex: Necrons during 4th edition. However, a picture of a reptilian alien known as a Slanni did appear in the pages of the Warhammer 40,000 4th edition rulebook, which bare a striking resemblance to the Slann of old. But these xenos appear to be only inspired by the Slann and have not been seen in the setting since then.
Perhaps the Slann/Slanni will make a return to the universe in the future. After all, if Genestealer Cults, Ambulls and Zoats can make a return to our favourite Grim Dark hobby, then way not a race of frog men carrying Lasgun, D-Cannons and Power Gloves. We can only hope.
We hope you have enjoyed our exploration into the retro past of Games Workshop’s product line. What would you like us to talk about next? Let us know in the comments below or find me on twitter @MTGTengu and maybe we will talk about it next time.
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