40K Lore: Tyranid Norn-Queen & Dominatrix

Come Loremasters, today we study the greatest known “leader-beasts” of the Tyranid species.

Norn Queens

Norn-Queens (also known as Splicer-Beasts) are the productive parts of the Tyranid swarm. They live upon massive Hive Ships in huge chambers at the centre of the Hive Fleet and ingest genetic materials, churning out all the countless types of creatures that make up the Tyranid Hive Fleet. All Tyranids have links back to a Norn-Queen, as the only way for Tyranids to reproduce is via this cloning technique. It is said that they lead the Tyranid forces and direct the evolution of the Tyranid race.

Reproductive Methods

Norn-Queens require a constant supply of fuel, in the shape of genetic material, in order to reproduce or bring forth new Tyranid life forms. This mainly consists of the fluids formed in Reclamation Pools, that are pumped up into the Hive Ships through massive Capillary Towers. Genetic material is also supplied directly to the Norn-Queen via living creatures and scavengers, such as Coffin-Crawlers. All this, including transport creatures, is pumped into the great jaws that are located at the top of the Norn-Queen, and synthesized by the Queens genetic shredder organs. The dissembled DNA structures form a gene-bank, which provides the raw material from which new creatures are created. Once a type of bio-construct has been designed more identical creatures can be cloned by the Norn-Queens.

Norn-Queens are capable of bringing forth new bio-constructs in a variety of different ways, each designed to ensure maximum efficiency. Most bio-constructs are born as tiny wriggling larvae or may begin life as eggs that must be nurtured further before they hatch and develop into adults. Clusters of eggs spill from rows of ovipository orifices along its flanks, fluid filled depressions on its upper surface writhe with maggot-like larvae, fetal sacs hang like ripe fruit from umbilical branches, and huge larval Teleporter Worms burst from incubator pouches on the Norn-Queen’s sides. Simpler bio-constructs may emerge already in their adult form to be gathered and directed by the horde of creatures that feed and serve the Norn-Queen.

The Hydra effect

Upon the extinction of the class of xeno-form known as a Norn Queen, a psycho-temporal event approaching level Gamma 12 is generated – a level sufficient to temporarily obscure the light of the Astronomican. It is believed that this phenomenon represents the ‘death knell’ of said xeno-form, and that its purpose is to trigger those bio-vessels that intercept the signal to calve. This has been dubbed the ‘Hydra effect’, for, upon the death of one Norn Queen, a number of others are calved and thus the advance of the Tyranids is merely slowed, not stalled.

Dominatrix

The Dominatrix (plural: Dominatrices, species name: Tyranicus praepotens ) is a Tyranid species which exerts a controlling psychic aura to bring lesser Tyranid creatures under its will, allowing the swarm under its command to operate with uncanny efficiency and tactical ability. However, a Dominatrix is extremely rare and only seen in the most advanced Tyranid swarms.

A Dominatrix possess a large array of Bio-weaponry and packs a colossal mass, dwarfing that of an Imperial Super Heavy Tank. It has an intelligence akin to that of a mighty Hive Tyrant, and the link it has to the Tyranid Hive Mind surpasses even the Hive Tyrant’s.

A Dominatrix is a gargantuan composite creature of nightmarish proportions, equipped with ripping claws and fangs, and a stunning profusion of symbiotic weaponry. Dominatrices are the brood queens of the Tyranid hordes, their children spawning into all the different Tyranid classes. Inside her rides a Norn Queen, with all the gene sequences of the galaxy’s most lethal creatures, ready to be spliced and twisted into new monstrocities.

Because of the importance of a Dominatrix, which is also the most powerful link to the Hive Mind a horde has, they are strategic targets of the highest priority. Destroying a Dominatrix can decide whether a planet falls to the Great Devourer, or is saved.

Learn More of the Tyranids

Lexicanum

~ Knowledge is power – guard it well.

  • Arthfael

    As a biologist, I always find the bits where the genetics of species from different planets, let alone galaxies, are said to be compatible really annoying. There is just no way you could have a species with a way to create a conversion machinery between their genetic material (which, even had it converged to some DNA-like molecule, would be using a different code) and that of their prey.

    That being said, once compatibility issues would’ve been solved, it could make some sense to ingest prey genetic material to try to evolve faster. Some bacteria do it, apparently absorbing random genetic material from their surroundings when stressed, probably as a way to fish randomly for the protein that can save them by chance. It may not have more a 1:1000000 chance to work, but then again, when there’s a trillion of yous…
    So that would make some form of sense… except the more complex an organism, the less easy this gets. A bacteria need only grab a random gene, make the protein and see what happens. For a complex organism, you gotta make sure it binds the correct interactors, it’s expressed in the correct tissue, etc… It just could never work. This is also the reason why a toxin would be unlikely to have the same effect on our biology and that of tyranids: context is all.

    For tyranids, it may be easier to actually create random variation, the same way we actually improve antibodies that have been selected during infection by randomly mutating them and selecting the clones that work best. Yes, we are our own limited norn queens, isn’t that great?

    All this to say, I know it’s a game, but these guys should really take a good biology course. If you can see the ropes, then immersion fails.

    • Spade McTrowel

      Magic!

      No, really. 40K isn’t a sci-fi game, it’s fantasy in sci-fi cosplay.

      Therefore, warp-magic answers everything. 🙂

      –Spade

      • Arthfael

        Agreed. Especially given the strong link between the supernatural and genetics that pervades all 40k lore (see: Primarchs). But the best 40k lore is usually dressed up as superficially making sense. That one… meh.

      • marxlives

        That is true, I never saw 40k as a hard sci fi game in the same vein as say Battletech or Infinity. That said I like both. Sometimes I want to play space magic, but sometimes nothing really beats a hard sci-fi game when you get the itch for one.

    • Fredddy

      The 40k lore is a huge pile of bulls*t from a lots of viewpoints, most of the technical stuff is simple vapouring too- for example. And even worse, they sometimes go for the cool bulls*t even when there would be a much more logical course of the events within the confines of the setting.

      But we love 40k despite this because you simply can not fight a horned daemon with a chainsaw bladed sword on a gothic cathedral shaped spaceship in the name of a half-dead Emperor in the more realisic scifi universes 🙂

    • euansmith

      Scale is something else that 40k struggles with (though they are hardly alone). The idea that the Tyranids pose any real threat to the Milky Way is nonsensical. The Galaxy (a fairly modest one) is simply too vast to be devoured by Hive Fleets and their tendrils. But, then, this is the grim, dark universe of the future in which there is only WAAAAAAR!

      • memitchell

        A Hive Fleet can invade a significant portion of the MW galaxy, but meets defeat tying to consume just ONE planet?

      • Fredddy

        They could be a threat if they consume enough material to maintain the growth of their fleet versus their casualties during the galaxy tour (war, aging, and the material used as fuel and food). Of course not a threat for the galaxy itself, but for the life in it.

        • euansmith

          There are approximately 300 billion star systems in the Galaxy, so, unless the Hive Fleet was able to expand geometrically, it would take an unfeasible long time to nom-nom across it. As the Hive Fleet doesn’t farm, all of its resources are limited, and their existence is going to be a fine balancing act though; one that the Imperium could probably tip via a simple and brutal scorched stars policy. But, as with any fluff-cannon, that’s just, like, my opinion, man. 😉

          • Tyr

            Well… farming wouldnt help, really. Life is cyclical, and theres a hard cap on how much life there can be on a planet. I wouldnt be surprised if Tyranids *did* farm, in a way: Basically, having dedicated tyranid photosynthesisers aboard their hive ships.
            And its ironic that youd say their resources are limited, since that could very well be what caused the hive fleets in the first place. Theyd used up everything on their planet, theyd run out. The obvious choice? Go to a different planet, gather all the raw materials there. Once that runs out, the next planet, and so on…
            And a fleet should actually be able to expand geometrically, thats what life generally does if theres nothing to stop it (ie, predators, disease…). Just look at humanity. Weve gotten rid of most of the stuff that limits our population growth, and so its been skyrocketing. Similarly, an unopposed hivefleet should be able to grow exponentially, only limited by the resources it can gather from each planet.

    • memitchell

      Having had one biology class in my education career (Civil Engineer), my naive ignorance allows me to live with the Tyranid’s “mysterious” gene-splicing. Heck, I paid good money to watch FOUR different movies about dinosaurs made from 65 million year-old DNA found in mosquitoes’ stomachs. But, it’s the 40K acquired genetic traits that bother me, since even a high school biology class tells us Blood Angels’ DNA would not “remember” the trauma of their Primarch’s death throes. Besides, why would a species that can manipulate DNA need to destroy all other species in a galaxy, and then travel the unimaginable distance between galaxies, for who knows how long, to absorb more DNA? When experimentation/mutation like the bacteria would probably produce results quicker.

      • Tyr

        Well… I think its actually about biomass, not DNA. Theyve simply used up all the useful stuff in their galaxy, and are now continuing in the next. Kind of how humans are considering asteroid mining to combat running out of essential elements on earth, except at a much larger scale.

        As to the BA trauma, even that can be explained away by considering that the geneseed might not actually change the DNA of a marine (or not *just* the DNA), but rather a complicated mix of hormones, neurotransmitters, what-have-you. If you could affect them via the warp, you could bring things out of balance, possibly causing the red thirst. The warp is a very convenient macguffin. 😉

        That said, tyranid genesplicing is still BS. 😛

    • Jabberwokk

      A Tyranid phage cell did it!

      It happened all by it self!

      Hey look a unicorn!

    • 6Cobra

      As a career infantryman.. I don’t feel sorry for you at all. 😉

      If Tyranid genetic manipulation spoils your immersion, think of the hundreds of real-world-militarily ludicrous aspects of the game, the minis, AND the fluff for guys like me! Embrace the nonsense, my scientific friend!

  • Sonic tooth

    Thought the norn Queen would be busy lookin for the witchwood crown

  • Commissar Molotov
  • PinkTerror

    There will never be a Citadel or FW model called a Tyranid ‘Dominatrix’. In today’s PC climate that has put Slaanesh in his/her backseat – that word is just too taboo.

  • kingcharlesii

    That is true, I never saw 40k as a hard sci fi game in the same vein as say Battletech or Infinity. That said I like both. Sometimes I want to play space magic, but sometimes nothing really beats a hard sci-fi game when you get the itch for one.

  • Jaz

    A Tyranid phage cell did it!It happened all by it self!Hey look a unicorn!

  • Damien 1.0

    Once one falls, the rest follow in rapid succession.

  • Wyatt Mcmahon

    That is true, I never saw 40k as a hard sci fi game in the same vein as say Battletech or Infinity. That said I like both. Sometimes I want to play space magic, but sometimes nothing really beats a hard sci-fi game when you get the itch for one.