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Leagues of Votann

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Leagues of Votann
LOVSymbolTransparent.png
Capital: Decentralized
Major Species: Squats, Ironkin
Type of Government Mercantile Confederation
Head of state: Ancestor Cores
Governing body: Various Hearthspakes
Religion: Ancestor Worship
Military forces

Kinhosts
Fleet

The Leagues of Votann are a prominent Squat civilization based around the Galactic Core. For thousands of years, they have exploited the riches of the core and overcome the dangers of the perilous region. Over these many millennia they have battled many of the galaxy's races, while just as frequently trading or acting as mercenaries.[1a]

The Votann are a rugged survivalist culture, having derived their society from the dangerous merchant-fleets of the Dark Age of Technology. They find strength and unity in the endless quest to acquire the resources they need to endure. While many judge them as selfish hoarders, they see these actions as necessary to ensure the survival of their race. Few other races can match the cloned Kin of the Leagues of Votann in the resilience of mind, body, and spirit.[1a]

History

Origins

A Kin of the Leagues of Votann[5]

According to the First Truths of the Leagues of Votann, the Kins origins lie in the Age of Myth. It is said that during this time, mining explorers and settlers known as the First Ancestors set out for the Galactic Core in Generation Ships from what was almost certainly pre-Imperial Terra. Seeking its great wealth, these fleets left with highly advanced Artificial Intelligences known as Votann Ancestor Cores in order to provide them with all the wisdom and aid they would require in their mission.[1b]

While it is unknown as to why these Fleets never returned to the heartlands of Humanity, from the fact that so many fleets plunged into the Galactic Core within a period of only a few centuries it may have been a deliberate choice. It is during this period that the last references to the First Ancestors are made, often blurring with the tales of Ancestor Cores. These are themselves referred to as The Votann, with the Kin employing the two terms interchangeably. It is said that the First Ancestors were responsible for the majority of stable mutations known as Cloneskeins which allowed the Kin to survive within the Galactic Core. Some accounts claim this was in response to some sort of threat, others that it was done to ready the Kin for inhabiting their new home. Regardless of the truth, the Cloneskeins made the Votann more durable and physically stronger than standard Humans, as well as more resistant to the mutating power of the Warp and Chaos.[1b]

As the Fleets settled the Galactic Core, Holds and soon began to construct space-borne Particle Excavators to disassemble newborn stars, employing their fusion harvest to refine elements undreamt of and fueling a burgeoning industry. One by one, the Leagues formed. Trade routes bridged void-straits battered by stellar winds, or saw merchant craft ply back and forth between the Core's outer disc and the ominous dead zone that encircled the supermassive black hole at its heart. More and greater Holds were raised upon new worlds. Life was hard, but the rewards were plentiful, and the Kin saw clearly the benefits of thriving in a location where competitor species could not. Thus, as millennia passed, the Leagues of Votann continued to focus upon settling the immense sprawl of the Core and exploiting its boundless riches.[1a]

The Leagues of Votann at war

The Votann and the Galaxy

Millennia have passed since the first of these mining fleets established Holds in the galactic core. The Kin have been content to remain largely within the bounds of this strange region, but have nonetheless had interactions with various civilizations and races seeking to plunder the core for its great riches. Not all Kin have remained content to remain within the Core, and some ventured out into the greater Galaxy to establish trade with other species they have encountered. Many of these pioneers were not simply motivated by a desire for wealth, but rather a belief that in order to honor their Ancestors a Kin must live a full life and discover all that one can. This was the region that many Prospector Fleets were sent out into the wider Galaxy. The Kin of these fleets have since fought in mercenaries in the wars of other species, returning only when they have gathered knowledge and experience fit to offer their Ancestor Core.[1a]

While the Leagues of Votann have since encountered all the major races of the galaxy thanks to their Prospector Fleets, in some cases these interactions have been limited and limited to a single fleet, conflict, or trade agreement. The Kin are close-mouthed around outsiders, and are reluctant to reveal the extent of their civilization within the Galactic Core lest it risk their existence. Many outside players in the Galaxy have thus mistook these fleets for the entirety of their race and dismissed as a minor alien civilization.[1a]

In Imperial records, it is impossible to say how many itinerant nomad races, xenos traders, or Abhuman settlements have actually been Kin. Where they have been identified consistently, the Kin are typically referred to as the pejorative of "Squat" and vary in classification between Abhuman and true Xenos. The Kin have mistakenly been identified as the Demiurg to Tau and Human alike, to the Eldar as the Heliosi Ancients, and to other peoples as the Gnostari, the Kreg, and others. To the Kin, they bear all this with a mixture of contempt and amusement. They are especially careful not to reveal their links to ancient Humanity on Terra, lest the Imperium impose a claim upon them. For the most part, the Imperium has been an enemy as often as an ally. The Inquisition or especially zealous Space Marines are quick to name the Kin xenos and demand their slaughter, while the Kin have disdain for the superstitious Imperium and in particular the Adeptus Mechanicus. They see the acquisitive ignorance of the Mechanicum especially dangerous and are on orders to swiftly eliminate them where they cannot be avoided. The Leagues of Votann maintain semi-cordial relations with other species, such as the Eldar and Tau Empire. There are exceptions of course, and while the Demiurg seem to happily coexist with the Tau there have been clashes between the Votann and Tau Empire around the Chalnath Expanse.[1a]

The Leagues of Votann harvest a celestial body[1b]

During their long history the Leagues of Votann have engaged in countless wars. A disproportionate amount of these have been against the Orks of the Galactic Core, who remain their most hated and frequent foe. However they have also come to battle the followers of Chaos, who they view with a mix of disgust and bewilderment. Another major foe is the Necrons due to their disturbing of ancient Tomb Worlds or ancient Dynasties returned to reclaim worlds settled by the Kin. The Tyranids, meanwhile, are known throughout the Leagues of Votann as simply "The Bane" and are afforded the wary respect one gives to an especially intelligent and dangerous predator. This has not prevented some Kindreds from actively stalking Tyranid fleets, striking at isolated Hive Ships in order to harvest their resources.[1a]

The formation of the Great Rift has shaken the Leagues of Votann to their foundations. Many new Warp Storms such as Örgvayar, Gëirokh, Töroll, Öggh, Cyklöp, and others all appeared simultaneously, swallowing entire systems. Holds vanished amidst the new swirling Warp storm belt, while trade routes were severed. Many Kindreds were compelled to relocate their holdings, abandoning regions held for thousands of years and venturing out from the Galactic Core to seek more stable areas to settle. Both within the core and beyond its fringes, the Rift's creation has driven the Kin into new conflicts, as well as stirring up old foes and setting them on a collision course with the Leagues.[1c] The Kin not only came into conflict with the forces of Chaos, but also with Xenos such as the Septeryx, Chrobdyr Ferrophagites, and the ominous Cult of Ohn.[1e] During this time of great calamity, the Kin refused to give the Great Rift an overarching name, believing it would lend further superstitious menace to it. They choose instead to name the greatest of the component Warp storms that have opened within the Galactic Core, treating each as a separate peril.[1c]

Because of the Rift, many Kin have chosen new settlement outside of the core for the first time in millennia. At the same time, the universal upheaval catapulted Humans, Eldar, and Tau interlopers into the galactic core, dislocated through space and time by the Rift. Thus the Leagues of Votann now find themselves dealing with outsiders on a level unseen in their history.[1e]

Society and Culture

A Kin and COG at work[1a]
A city of the Leagues of Votann[1d]

The Squats of the Leagues of Votann refer to themselves as Kin. All Kin - barring only rare outcasts - belong to an extended familial and biological groupings known as a Kindred. Kindred dwell in Holds, which while simple at first glance often are wildly different in their structures and locations. Each Kindred is ruled over by a Hearthspake, and nearly all Kindreds and their Holds in turn pledge their allegiance to a League that make up the Leagues of Votann. At the heart of every one of these Leagues is a Votann Ancestor Core, venerable thinking machines created long ago and placed aboard the first Kin mining fleets. Some of the most notable Leagues include the Greater Thurian League, Trans-Hyperian Alliance, Ymyr Conglomerate, Urani-Surtr Regulates, and Kronus Hegemony.[1a]

Another important aspect of Votann society is the Guild, which are united bodies that make up of all those Kin whose perform a particular role or provide a particular service. Guilds officially exist outside of Kindreds and Leagues, but in truth a great deal of overlapping takes place at the smaller levels.[1b]

While the Leagues of Votann sport a large population greater than the T'au or Eldar, they still pale in comparison to the teeming masses of Humanity. The Leagues are a cloned race, each generation emerging from devices known as Crucibles. Their numbers are further augmented by the Ironkin, Artificial Intelligence clad in mechanical bodies and dedicated in aiding their fleshy brothers. To the Kin, the Ironkin are equal and valuable members of their society. The Leagues of Votann are a highly conservative and stubborn society, and securing their aid in any endeavor is known to be highly difficult. While valuable and loyal allies, they look to their own familial duties and obligations first, as well as the interests of their race's survival. If they deem the motivations of others to go against these particular interests, they are as likely as becoming foes than friends.[1a]

So conservative are the Kin that certain truisms and idioms have found universal acceptance. These are dubbed Truths, and are treated as articles of sincere good sense that are loaded with more nuance and meaning than is immediately apparent. The most common of these is the frequent Kin saying "The Ancestors are Watching", which often doubles as a battle-cry. One interpretation of this Truth is that all generations who have gone before are judging the deeds of the living, who must strive their hardest to live up to their ancestors. Yet equally, this Truth can remind the Kin that their Ancestors live on in every new generation and they are never truly alone. There are many other Truths, from describing useless objects or foolish schemes as a "prize for an Ork", to encompassing the depth's of their race's space-faring prowess as "The void is in our veins".[1a]

When a Kin dies, they usually are sent to rejoin their Ancestor Core. Their minds are offered up to the Votann in the belief that their experiences will enrich the machine minds and aid future generations. This places great pressure on individual Kin to live up to the perceived ideals of their Ancestors, driving them on in their duties. It is a major motivator for Oathbands setting out to fight as soldiers of fortune in wars of other races, for doing so allows them to learn much from their temporary employers. This act has ironically perhaps contributed to the decline of the Ancestor Cores, for over the millennia they have been forced to intake more (and often duplicate) data from the exponentially growing Votann civilization.[1c]

The Leagues of Votann usually do not bother with incarceration of transgressors from their own kind, instead using exile as their harshest punishment. This serves to ensure that the Kin will never be rejoined with their Votann Ancestor Core. Furthermore, their name is told to the Core so that the Ancestors know who has failed them and can forbid the transgressor entrance into another Kindred or League.[1c]

Various Leagues of Votann Kin

In terms of religion, the Kin of the Leagues of Votann maintain their own Cults of Ancestor-Worship. Moreover some, like the Trans-Hyperian Alliance, pursue their duties with an almost religious fanaticism.[1f]

For naming conventions, each Kin has a first given name and a second chosen name. The given name is determined by their Crucible of birth and is given moments before their emergence. This name can not be changed, for it is seen as the will of the Ancestors. Only Ironkin are permitted to choose their own given names. Meanwhile, a chosen name is something a Kin may choose for themselves and are free to change at will. It may incorporate some component of the names of their Kindred, Hold, or Votann. Others choose their names based on their institutions, reputation, or their family names.[1h]

Physiology

Kin of the Leagues of Votann, often referred to as Squats due to their build, are known to be extremely hardy and resilient. This is thanks to their Cloneskeins, genetic templates that give the cloned Kin a variety of physical and spiritual abilities. Their species also have higher red and white blood cell counts, and formidable strength and resilience. Other Cloneskeins impart enhanced reaction times, infa-red vision, or limited resistance to extreme temperatures, gravity, and radiation. Many Cloneskeins manifest physically, whether it be unusually colored eyes or skin, craggy subdermal layers, chemical body odors, or various other giveaways.[1b]

More esoteric, Cloneskeins allowed the souls of the Kin to shine far more dimly in the Warp than other races such as Humans. This makes the Kin extremely resilient in the face of mutations and temptations of Chaos. Thus there are no true Psykers within the Leagues of Votann. Even those Kin who carry psychoactive Cloneskeins shine just brightly enough to mesh with ward-tech, such as Ancestral Ward Starves and Crests which channel Barrier-Tech and allow for the use of limited Warp-based powers.[1b]

League Territories

Map of some territories of the Galactic Core of the Leagues of Votann[1d]

The homeland of the Leagues if the vast and inhospitable but phenomenally wealthy Galactic Core. It is thanks to the Cloneskein biological templates that the Kin have been able to thrive in this region.[1b] Within the Core, even the smallest of Kindreds operate a Hold World, mining outposts, nomad flotilla, or void station they can call home. The largest and most prosperous meanwhile will rule over multiple star systems. Besides these planets, the Leagues also have settled a great many mining settlements, trading hubs, and more.[1e]

Though there have been dark times when civil war has raged between Kindreds or Leagues, such occurrences are rare for they are viewed by the Kin as dishonorable and wasteful. Usually, once a League has laid claim to a region, that claim is honored by all other Kin and established boundaries rarely shift. If such a revision of territories does take place, it is most commonly due to a change of ownership or new contract or trade agreement. However this bellicosity does not extend to conquering new territories, for the Kin consider any region of space not already claimed by them open for conquest. That other races might already dwell there is seen as either a trade opportunity at best or an obstacle that needs to be removed at worst. Should these non-Kin be amendable to League rule, peaceful habitation is possible so long as the Kin can continue with their desired acquisitions uninterrupted. Some Kin have managed to exist in peaceful alliances with non-Squat civilizations for some time, such as the "Demiurg" of the T'au Empire.

Technology

Leagues of Votann forces[6]

Much of the basic technology of the Leagues of Votann is broadly derived from the same STC patterns of those used by the Imperium, so the two maintain a great deal of base similarity. However, Kin designs are of superior build and effectiveness to their Imperial counterparts.[2] The engineers of the Votann, the Brokhyr, are known to slowly modify and improve the original STC's in a manner that would horrify the Imperium. This lack of dogma extends into the sphere of Artificial Intelligence, for the Votann utilize large amounts of fully sentient Robots.[1g]

The warships of the Kin tend to be enormous in size, with even smaller vessels such as the Bastion and Stronghold Classes matching most race Cruisers in capability. The Kin achieve FTL with Warp Drives and Gellar Fields similar to that of Humanity, but of greater reliability and accuracy at the expense of expediency. In order to circumnavigate the Warp, Kin vessels utilize Ironkin Wayfinders.[1b]

The Leagues at War

A Kinhost mobilizes for war

The basic unit of war for the Leagues of Votann is the Kinhost, which operates at the Kindred level. The Kinhost consists of Hearthkyn, Einhyr Hearthguard, Theyn's, and Kahls and is overall commanded by a Kindred's Votannic Council. The Votannic Council is normally called upon for only the greatest of conflicts a Kindred may engage in, and for smaller wars they are led by ad-hoc gatherings of heroes such as Kahls, Brokhyr Iron-Masters, or Living Ancestors. These Kinhosts and their vehicles are in turn supported by other Kin organizations as the Hernkyn and Cthonian Mining Guilds. These forces are in turn divided into a number of Oathband, which is usually ad hoc in nature and varies greatly in size and composition.[1d]

Kin military doctrine emphasizes a leader's ability to calmly assess enemy threats in the midst of battle, remaining stoic as they determine which hostiles pose the greatest threats to their efforts. Known as casting the Eye of the Ancestors, this talent allows Kin war leaders to judge at a glance which enemies are the most dangerous, where enemy fortifications are their weakest, and how to balance their resources in countering enemy threats. The greatest of these foes have nonetheless plagued the Kin for generations, and have earned a strong Grudge from the Leagues of Votann. Sometimes Grudgebands are formed in order to fight these foes and settle the grudge.[1a]


Forces


Leagues of Votann Forces
Command KâhlTheynBrôkhyr Iron-masterGrimnyrEinhyr Champion
Elites Einhyr Hearthguard
Troops Hearthkyn WarriorHernkyn PioneerBrôkhyr ThunderkynChthonian BeserksIronkin
Vehicles Magna-Coil BikeSagitaur ATVHekaton Land FortressColossus
Support CORVE-COG
Characters Ûthar


Notable Kin of the Leagues of Votann

Notes

The Leagues of Votann are a reboot of the earlier Squats of Warhammer 40,000 lore, which had been killed off (or "Squatted") by the 2nd Edition.[3] The Leagues were introduced in the 9th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 as a new playable faction. Some earlier Squat lore as well as other groups such as the Demiurg are dismissed as misunderstandings and misclassifications by other races, which did not fully understand the scope of the Squat civilization and did not have full access to their homelands within the Galactic Core.[1a]

Sources