Today we speak of the authors of life in both 40K and beyond; primogenitors who ruled the galaxy in the beginning – The Slann.
The Slann, also known as the Old Slann and as Slanni, are a sentient reptilian or amphibian alien species.
Among all the races of the galaxy, the Slann claim to be one of the oldest, who evolved, matured and spread throughout space hundreds of thousands of years ago. At the height of their empire, they discovered and nurtured many primitive creatures. They encouraged the evolutionary process on countless worlds where they eradicated or moved dangerous species whilst seeding many worlds with promising stock. Over the course of millennia, they experimented and played with the galaxy in this manner; some credit the Slann with creating the modern races in the galaxy.
In this distant past, the Slann were known as the greatest of the spacefaring races and encountered the Eldar. Through this contact, the Eldar learnt many of the Old Slann’s arcane secrets of the universe. Thousands of years before mankind‘s first forays into space, the ancient Slann empire began to collapse. As their civilisation dwindled, the pace of their empire slowed and they largely abandoned their genetic experiments. The reasons for this change in behaviour were not known, as there are no records of destructive wars or disasters that befell their empire. Instead, it was believed that they had a sudden change in their racial motivations that led to them abandoning any desire for physical conquest or power. This was followed by a retirement from active affairs in the galaxy and they engaged in a long period of indolence as well as introspection. What their true reasons for doing so is unknown; some believe that the Slann discovered some unknown secret of the cosmos or a spiritual truth or even gained a supreme mystical insight. It is known that they were conscious of the existence of Warp Entities, which they called the Powers of Chaos and even forewarned the Eldar of the dangers they would face in the future, including the cataclysmic Fall. Some of the Eldar heeded their warnings, leaving their homeworlds for the Craftworlds. During this time, the Old Slann not only taught the Eldar of the dangers of the Warp but also of its benefits.
The Slann are also speculated to be the creators of the Jokaero species, given that the Slann are believed to have visited Earth on numerous occasions, coupled with the Jokaero’s resemblance to Terra’s Orangutan species.
After their retreat from the galaxy, the Slann are known to have resided on a number of proximate and prosperous worlds located north of the galactic pole.When the Eldar created their mighty civilisation, they not only adopted but also refined and perfected the ancient Slann knowledge of the warp as well as its movements.
During the Age of the Imperium, some primitive tribes of Slann reside on planets within the space of the Imperium. Despite the great era of their empire being long gone, the Slann remain among the most enigmatic race within known space.
The Slann had originally evolved from amphibian stock and their appearance demonstrates their ancestry, as their hands are long as well as webbed with cool, moist skins, along with large heads and protruding eyes. They are able to draw oxygen from water or other poorly oxygenated atmospheres directly through their skin and are also quite comfortable in watery surroundings. Skin colour tends to vary a great deal, with blue and green being the most common, yellow being well-represented, and other tones being rarer such as albino as well as melanistic forms. Slann that are brightly pigmented tend to be extroverts, talented or noteworthy in some manner. On some occasions, their skins tend to be mottled, striped or otherwise marked (though among certain Slann worlds, such as primitive ones, these tend to represent tribal divisions). In terms of height, Slann tend to be fairly consistent, with adults reaching two meters high whilst females tend to be slightly bulkier and larger. It is believed that the Slann are likely to have psychic powers.
The society of the Slann remains closed to other races but is seemingly homogenous throughout, with entire planets holding a similar technical base, language, and culture. Some of these groups live as savage primitives outside Slann space and in the territory of the Imperium. Such communities are in fact scattered throughout the galaxy, leading to the belief that these sites were once locations of an even greater Slann settlement in the past. These primitives tend to have little or even no contact with their more technologically advanced kin. Ultimately, however, the Slann remain a curious race though they rarely ever trade with outsiders and even prove to be unpredictable during territorial disputes or rivalries. This is due to the simple fact that there is little that the Slann need or want. As such, any traders encountering a tribe of Slann feel as if they were being watched or studied, with no interest in any exchange of goods.
They hold no equals in the realm of psychic-philosophy or mystic-technology as they fulfill themselves by the study of spiritual lifeforces along with the secret powers of other realities. The Old Slann believed that the object of life was to perfect the mind and through this they held the view that this allowed an individual to become an immortal spirit in the Warp.
The 40K-WFB Mystery
Over the decades, there has been hot debate over exactly how much the worlds of Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy overlap “in canon”. The Slann have been one of the centers of these arguments, having existed in both universes in a similar manner. Here are the two ranges of early Slann Miniatures from both systems in the 1980s to compare:
The Device of the Great Beyond
Then of course, we have the most interesting story from the END TIMES: Thanquol, when the Lizardmen empire of Lustria was overrun by the Skaven and a handful of ziggurats, rose from the ground and fled into open space. In one of the temples overrun by the Skaven, an advanced machine was discovered and when activated began to speak in an unknown language to the Skaven, but in the unmistakable voice of the Elves. Here’s the quote:
“The warlock engineers soon discovered the Device of the Great Beyond, a communication apparatus that spoke to beings from beyond the stars. As they swirled its many dials, a querulous voice spoke through the stone speakers. That voice, fair and clear caused the Skaven to bolt away. The device was something like the far-squeaker, but the melodious tones that issued forth were, if anything, kin to the despised speech of the elf-things. As they did not understand the alien language, nor how the arcane contraption worked the warlock engineers pulled the device apart and shot it with warplock pistols until it stopped making any sounds.”
Onto the Mortal Realms
With their strong amphibian appearance, it’s probable the Slann connection even extends into the Age of Sigmar via the Seraphon. Hmmm…
Into the Beyond…
As a final footnote to the possible origin of the Slann/Lizardmen/Seraphon, take a look at this scene from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain… from 1973.
~What do you think is going on with the Slann in both (maybe one) game universes?