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The Icon of the Militarum Auxilla, a specialist division of the Astra Militarum in which many Abhumans serve.

An Abhuman is a descendant of baseline Human settlers whose ancestors mutated and physically adapted to various extreme environmental conditions after being isolated for thousands of standard years on colony worlds across the galaxy. Some Abhumans may also be intentionally genetically engineered mutants created for a specific purpose.

The term may be short for "aberrant Human", "abnormal Human," or, less pejoratively, derived from the High Gothic term ab humanis, "from Humans."

In an Imperium of Man where genetic mutation from the Human baseline and spiritual corruption are often viewed as interrelated or one and the same, Abhumans are a focus of much controversy for the Imperial government. Abhumans are distinct from true mutants in that they conform to a common physical phenotype, demonstrate reproductive stability and are no more susceptible to further mutation than normal Humans.

In more enlightened times under the direct rule of the Emperor of Mankind during the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium, even markedly divergent Abhumans such as the Beastmen could serve in the Imperial Army.

Since the Emperor's stasis on the Golden Throne began at the end of the Horus Heresy, however, only the lesser Abhuman mutants, such as Ogryns and Ratlings, are allowed full citizenship in the Imperium. However, they are still distrusted by the Puritan members of the Inquisition and by the more devout believers in the Imperial Creed in every corner of the Imperium. Imperial citizens tend to treat Abhumans with a mixture of hatred, fear and prejudice and it is rare for Abhumans to reach positions of power within Imperial society.

By the 41st Millennium, the Adeptus Terra had recognised seventy-three different Abhuman strains, of which forty-six have been declared extinct, and twelve more are on the verge of being declared so due to lack of contact with Imperial representatives. Some of the most important and notable Abhuman strains in the Imperium are detailed below.

Abhumans like Ratlings and Ogryns who are considered Imperial citizens have proved their worth as specialists in the Militarum Auxilla, an auxiliary specialist appendage of the Astra Militarum. Indoctrinated in the Imperial Creed to ensure their loyalty to the Emperor, they are taught self-loathing, and watched closely by the commissars and priests of the Ecclesiarchy.


A Navigator (Homo navigo) is a very particular form of Imperially-sanctioned Human mutant, who possess the Navigator Gene and have existed within the Human gene pool since the time of the Dark Age of Technology. All Navigators possess a third eye, commonly called the "Warp Eye," on their foreheads which gives them the unique ability to see into the Empyrean without losing their sanity. 

Using the psychic beacon generated and directed by the Emperor known as the Astronomican as a stable reference point, Navigators use the power granted by their third eye to guide Human starships through the currents of the Warp. Their ability to sense the tides of the Warp is considered psychic, although Navigators never possess any psychic abilities beyond the powers of astronavigation their Warp Eye affords them. 

Since the Navigator Gene is hereditary rather than a recurring random mutation, the existence of Navigators is tolerated by an edict from the Emperor Himself issued at the time of the Unification Wars in the 30th Millennium as the Navigators and their politically powerful Navis Nobilite aristocratic houses were essential to the continued functioning of the Imperium's commerce and defence.

Navigators all live within the special precinct of the Terran world-city that was given to them by the Emperor millennia ago. The politics of the Navigator Houses are known to be byzantine and treacherous in the extreme.

Afriel Strain

Afriel Strain soldiers are genetically-engineered warriors created during an experimental project conducted by the Adeptus Mechanicus, of which little is known.

The initiative was an attempt to capitalise on the characteristics of the heroes of the Imperial past's genetic material, to recreate all the best traits which had made them great. The project was ultimately an attempt to create the perfect Human soldier, and it failed miserably.

Afriel Strain warriors, for some reason, have the worst luck ever seen among Humans, to the point that some Mechanicus adepts believe that their cloned genetic makeup may interface with the Warp in some way to alter the laws of probability. Afriels are normally albinos, with pale alabaster skin, pale hair and colorless, pink eyes.


Beastmen (Homo sapiens variatus) are horned, hoofed, and quite hairy Abhumans who appear like nothing so much as humanoid goats or rams. They were formerly recruited for the Imperial Army and later the Astra Militarum, where they used their innate bloodlust to fight for the Emperor and atone for the sin of being born as mutants. They were led by other Beastmen called "packmasters."

At present, "Pureblood" Beastmen are no longer seen in Imperial service, since overt mutants now only serve in the forces of Chaos. No doubt Puritan elements of the Inquisition convinced the Administratum that the Beastmen could not be so radically altered from the normal Human form without being tainted by Chaos.

Some lesser variants of the H.s.variatus strain, who are less physically mutated than their peers, are allowed to still exist within the Imperial armed forces, where they are used as cannon fodder and as expendable assault troops. These Beastmen are the Warhammer 40,000 equivalent of the Warhammer universe's Beastmen.


The dim-witted Human sub-species called Ogryns (Homo sapiens gigantus) evolved on high-gravity, low-temperature prison planets. They are huge and unusually stupid for a Human subrace, but unquestionably loyal to the Imperium once introduced to the faith of the Imperial Cult.

Ogryns are used as the Astra Militarum's shock troops, and for this role, they are commonly outfitted with the Ripper Gun. The Ripper Gun is a weapon simple enough for them to operate, although some feral Ogryn cannot even fathom this device. Ogryn are also frequently used as bodyguards by Imperial military commanders.

Ogryns tend to be claustrophobic and thus are difficult to transport. They are typically led by "Bone 'eads," who have undergone a procedure known as Biochemical Ogryn Neural Enhancement (or BONE treatment), improving their intellect to near-Human standards.

Sometimes, when speed is of the essence, Imperial commanders with a fresh batch of conscripted Ogryns do not bother to teach them the comparatively complicated use of the standard Ogryn Ripper Gun, merely giving them another club and telling them to smash the enemy with it.

As one might guess, the Ogryns are the Warhammer 40,000 equivalent of the Warhammer Ogre.


Ratlings (Homo sapiens minimus) are small, loud, hungry and lecherous Abhumans who often serve as snipers in the Astra Militarum, a role at which they excel.

Ratlings also serve as cooks for Astra Militarum regiments, a skill they no doubt learned in order to feed their own seemingly bottomless stomachs; and they also have kleptomaniac tendencies, as commissars report petty theft and illegal gambling rings increase substantially when Ratlings are attached to a platoon, company or regiment.

One named Ratling homeworld is Ornsworld, which was attacked by Abaddon the Despoiler during the Gothic War. Ratlings are a mutant sub-branch of the Human race, like the Ogryns, who adapted to living in underground tunnel systems on worlds with hostile surface environments.

Due to their small size, they often bear the brunt of normal Human soldiers' jokes, although more than one soldier has been saved by the Ratlings' superior marksmanship. Essentially, Ratlings are the Warhammer 40,000 equivalent of Warhammer's Halflings.

Squats (Original)

The Abhumans called Squats (Homo sapiens rotundus) originated on high-gravity Mining Worlds close to the galactic core, making them short, muscular and tough. Their homeworlds briefly seceded from the Imperium during the Age of Apostasy, though they later returned to the Imperial fold as autonomous but loyal worlds.

Squats are talented engineers, and known to hold long-standing grudges, particularly against the Orks. In combat, Squats use combat motorcycles and support from superheavy artillery weapons, such as Leviathans and Colossi.

Squats for a long time were officially no longer part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe due to decisions made by Games Workshop to bring the universe closer to a true science fiction reality; in the universe's mythology they were said to have been nearly driven extinct by the attack of the Tyranids on their homeworlds in the 41st Millennium, though some Squats survived to seek vengeance across the Human-settled galaxy.

The Squat race was an equivalent of the Warhammer Dwarfs, but following the removal of the Squats from the game for two decades, the part of a Dwarf analogue in the Warhammer 40,000 universe was taken for a time by the T'au-allied alien species called the Demiurg.

The Squats are now once more a full-fledged faction of the Warhammer 40,000 universe as the Kin of the Leagues of Votann and the Demiurg are now considered a Prospect of the Kin.

Leagues of Votann

The Leagues of Votann is the collective name for the various confederations of the species of squat but powerfully-built Abhuman clones who refer to themselves as the "Kin." They are sometimes pejoratively called "Squats" by the Humans of the Imperium. The Kin are an advanced, starfaring race who possess highly advanced technology and live amid the extreme environments that mark the resource-rich worlds of the galactic core. The Kin share their lives with self-aware, robotic constructs called Ironkin, which they treat as full societal equals in every way.

The Kin have sometimes been misidentified by Humans and xenos species alike as different Abhuman or alien species than their true identity. For instance, the Kin have been mistakenly known to both the T'au and Humans as the "Demiurg," to the Aeldari as the "Heliosi Ancients," and to various other peoples as the "Gnostari," the "Grome" or the "Kreg," among others.

The Kin vary in their classification by the Imperium between a sanctioned Abhuman sub-species of Humanity or a xenos species. However, the Kin's earliest surviving records do establish an ancient link between their Ancestors who settled the galactic core and the sublight, generational Long March mining fleets sent out by pre-Imperial Old Earth, thus making the Abhuman designation the correct one. For their part, the Kin care little what others think of them.

Each of the Leagues of Votann are divided up into groupings similar to clans or nation-states known as "Kindreds," and are ultimately led by a self-aware machine intelligence called a Votann or "Ancestor Core." The Votann are treated as objects of near-worship by the Kin, and when they die, each Kin and Ironkin has their cerebral data uploaded into their Kindred's Votann, a semi-mystical practice referred to as "returning to the Ancestors."

Few intelligent species in the galaxy are as redoubtable, courageous or determined as the Kin who comprise the Leagues of Votann. Nor are many as ruthless when it comes to the risk-and-reward calculus of war. To face them in battle is to stand before an armoured avalanche that crushes all in its path. It is to be appraised and then brusquely dealt with by attackers who see any foe as little more than an obstruction, or else as a hated nemesis whose annihilation is worth any cost.

To those they fight alongside or trade with, the Kin are invaluable allies. However, those they deem a risk to their people's survival they destroy with the same relentless rigour that the Kin apply to harvesting black hole accretion discs, manufacturing their incredible technologies or, indeed, anything else they set their minds to.

The Leagues of Votann are huge and formidable stellar empires, united by a shared history, genetic kinship and culture. As the emergence of the Great Rift sends ripples of upheaval through the galactic core and beyond, they are coming into violent collision with the other starfaring races more than ever before.

The Leagues of Votann represent the completely reworked return of the 1st Edition Squats into the Warhammer 40,000 universe as a full faction of their own.

Gland War Veterans

Gland War Veterans were created to fight invading Tyranids on the Forge World of Dantis III, which was heavily polluted. The Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-priests who ruled Dantis III genetically modified several companies of the Lostok 23rd Regiment of the Astra Militarum to fight in the hellish conditions.

They had many organs and drug-secreting glands implanted in their bodies so that they could survive in the Dantisian environment unprotected. Their combat abilities and physical aggressiveness were also genetically increased.

Thanks to the heavy losses they took to ensure the successful defence of Dantis III, only three Gland Warriors are believed to have survived, who were taken by the Inquisition for study and debriefing.


The Necromundan House Goliath owns and operates many of the great foundries of the Hive World of Necromunda and its workers are the masters of the furnace and of metal, the raw materials of which are traded from the mines of House Orlock.

The house values nothing higher than physical strength, and to this end breeds its workers like prize cattle in an effort to create the strongest, toughest and most unthinkingly loyal workers of the furnace in the galaxy.

The core of these workers are huge brutes -- incredibly strong and tough, but often mentally unbalanced and extremely short-lived. House Goliath furnace-tenders -- Goliaths -- are often bigger than a Space Marine and some Imperial scholars regard them as a classifiable strain of Abhuman.


Nightsiders are Abhumans who live out their lives in near or complete darkness on worlds that either are so far from their primary star that little or no light is shed or planets that do not rotate and so one side is always facing away from the sun.

Nightsiders may have developed larger eyes than a normal Human, almost bulbous; others may have vestigial eyes with their other senses greatly enhanced to compensate for the near-blindness.

Other Notable Abhumans

The Adeptus Administratum's records of officially Sanctioned Abhumans further mention the following Abhuman subspecies, but does not provide much more detail about them other than their existence:

  • Troths (Homo sapiens verdantus) - Troths are endemic to the world of Verdant, and unable to leave it due to their particular, unknown physical adaptation to its environment. They are virtually unknown to the Imperium at large.
  • Longshanks (Homo sapiens elongatus) - These Abhumans have genetically adapted to habitable worlds with particularly low gravity, and are tall, elongated and emaciated. They find it nearly impossible to survive on worlds with gravity heavier than what they endure on their homeworlds.
  • Pelagers (Homo sapiens oceanus) - Pelagers have either evolved or were genetically altered during the Age of Technology to live on Ocean Worlds, those habitable planets of the galaxy almost entirely covered in liquid water. They possess a set of both gills and lungs, and other adaptations for an aquatic lifestyle such as webbed hands and feet. They are a common sight on such worlds of the Imperium, but virtually unknown everywhere else.
  • Felinids (Homo sapiens hirsutus) - Felinids are endemic to the Imperial world of Carlos McConell. Whether this is due to the particular biological requirements of that planet, prior genetic modifications made to a Human population during the Dark Age of Technology or prior Imperial regulation is unknown, but they are virtually unheard of in the Imperium at large. Felinids are Humans who have had their genomes spliced with genetic sequences derived from various species of Terran felines, and they possess many felinoid traits, including a light covering of fur over their entire body, extended canine teeth and superhuman agility and grace.
  • Neandors (Homo sapiens hyannothus) - Descendants of the original base-line Human colonists of the world of Hyannoth IV, the Neandors have adapted over the Terran millennia to the particular ecological demands of their frigid and high gravity homeworld. These adaptations, which include hirsutism and a much more robust skeletomuscular system, however, prevent them from leaving Hyannoth IV easily. As a result, Neandors are virtually unknown to the wider Imperium.

Usage In-Game

In the most recent editions of Warhammer 40,000, only the Ogryns and Ratling snipers are mentioned in the main rulebook. However, in the U.S. edition of White Dwarf 302 (UK) (numbered as White Dwarf 303), an official article was published featuring doctrines that allow Astra Militarum armies to take units of Abhumans, expanding on the Ratling Snipers and Ogryns of the core rulebook.

The article featured Beastmen (or Homo sapiens variatus), Mutant Slave Levies (ordinary mutant slaves rounded up to serve as Imperial cannon fodder), Feral Ogryns (even nastier and more primitive creatures than regular "civilised" Ogryns), Nightsiders (mutants originating from worlds of perpetual or near-perpetual darkness, who have little to no ability to see but are the perfect warriors for night-fighting missions), Afriel Strain Soldiers (Human clones genetically engineered from DNA taken from the greatest heroes of the Imperium, very unlucky and unpopular), Subs (relatively genetically stable but still hideously deformed mutant sub-breeds) and Gland Warriors (genetically-normal Imperial Guardsmen implanted with special organs and glands that secrete combat-useful chemicals, such as stims and pain-killers).

See Also