The Leagues of Votann have crashed back into the eternal colosseum that is the 41st millenium. Space Dwarves, Squats (though maybe don’t let them hear you say that) and now Kin – this hardy race have been known under several names throughout the years. Short, stocky and long lived they’re considered by the Imperium as abhumans due to their genetic differences to ‘baseline’ humans, many of which relate to adaptations that have allowed them to survive on high gravity planets. They’re the widest spread abhuman race and have literally carved out a powerful position in the galaxy.
While there may not be much remembered about the origins of the Leagues of Votann, it ultimately started with the colonisation of incredibly mineral rich planets around the core of the galaxy. These resources were needed to fuel the ongoing expansion of the burgeoning human expansion into space, as the resources of Terra had long since been expended.
While the details of the Leagues of Votann’s origins may be irretrievably lost to time the Kin themselves hold certain principles of their founding to be indisputable. These ‘First Truths’ include that the ‘First Ancestors’ left their original homeworld, pre-imperial Terra, on huge generation ships in order to colonise the galactic core. The First Truths tell that these ancestors miners, surveryours, explorers and engineers poured into this area of the galaxy seeking to make a fortune on this extremely inhospitable frontier. They would eventually build settlements by mining into the planets crusts, linked together by mine shafts and tunnels and supplied by underground farms, overtime they became heavily fortified and became known by the Kin as strongholds.
Another First Truth is that the Kin are cloned, and have been since the First Ancestors. They draw from a deep and well established gene pool and have established genetic adaptations that are stable and underpin their entire race. These are known as the Cloneskeins and have produced a race with denser bones, stronger muscles and higher blood cell counts than their ‘baseline’ human cousins. The kin are a far stronger and more resilient race than the Humans that left Terra. Cloneskeins determine a Kin’s role in society, giving the necessary tools to complete their jobs. Enhanced reaction times, improved vision, increased resistance to cosmic radiation and many other adaptations can be found among the Kin that, were they found in an Imperial citizen, would result in a painful visit from the Inquisition. Even access to psychic abilities is controlled by the Cloneskeins, conferring the ability to use the barrier-tech that the Kin use to access the Warp. Kin from these shared genetic pools bond together into Kindreds – some as small as a few dozen and expanding right up to nation sized populations. They all live, train and work in a shared Hold – this could be a tunnel complex, live-in factory block or a vast planet spanning settlement, the term hold applies to them all.
At an unknown time in history huge warp storms cut off the galactic core from the remaining human occupied galaxy and threw the League of Votann into isolation. While cut off from the Human planets the Kin holds had to band together to protect each other and ensure survival. This is when the Kin truly diverged from their human roots and became the Leagues as we know them now. The structure of their society developed.
Strongholds, lead by a hereditary Lord and defended by a force of Hearthkyn, banded together for trade and protection and formed Leagues, led in turn by a single stronghold. These bands of strongholds became the influential forces that operate the Kin’s society. Of varying size and influence the differing leagues vie for power and control of key resources. Often this results in war between the Leagues, though there have been numerous occasions when the entirety of the Leagues of Votann band together to face an external threat – an advancing Ork Waaagh! for example.
In addition to Strongholds and Leagues Kin society is also separated into Guilds. The Guilds operate outside the boundaries of Leagues, and unite Kin that share occupations. Whether you harvest scrap from wrecked spacecraft or bore huge mine shafts into planetary cores you can find a Guild made up of Kin sharing that role. Membership is optional, though there’s certainly a rivalry between Guilds and freelancers. On paper the Guilds are apolitical and operate to ensure fair competition, but the reality is they fill powerful positions within leagues and strongholds and have access to great reserves of money and resources. Guild leaders often sit on the Hearthspake (the Kindreds leading council) alongside the military leaders and governors of the Kin. They smooth the way for trade and fund expeditions to discover new resources and keep the wheels of Kindred commerce moving.
As the warp storms shifted and cleared about 10,000 years ago contact with the recently founded Imperium of Man was reestablished. Mostly this has been peaceful cooperation between the two races, with mutually beneficial trade being at the core of the interactions. However Kin are stubborn and prone to anger when they feel their honour is being impeached or they are being dealt with deceitfully, and there have been skirmishes and outright wars between Humans and Kin on a few occasions.
The forces of the Leagues of Votann are almost defined by the technology they utilise. To say it’s advanced is to understate it. The Adeptus Mechanicus have experimented to try and learn these secrets, the prime example being their testing of Warp Reactor technology which opened a warp gate on Ganymede and flooded the planet with the unleashed forces of chaos. It wasn’t recovered until the return of Roboute Guilliman and the launch of the Indomitus Crusade. The Kin’s weapons, vehicles and even artificial intelligence are all highly advanced – in fact their mechanical intellects, known as the Ironkin, have fully integrated into the League’s societies as completely equal partners to their flesh and blood betheren.
The technology of the Leagues of Votann rests on the lynch pin of their knowledge – the Votann, or Ancestor Cores. These super-cogitators contain all the collated knowledge and wisdom of a Kin League, and contain multiple millennia’s worth of data essential for the Kin to survive, and thrive, in the galaxy. Weapons schematics, genetic coding, military tactics, government structures, philosophical principles, scientific discoveries and even functional standard template constructs – they’re all stored in the Ancestor Cores.
Understandably these cores are central to Kin society and are sacred to the members of the Leagues of Votann. An extremely carefully guarded secret that no outsider is allowed to know any Kin will happily give their life to protect the Votann. However, as is a common pattern in the 41st millenium, all is not well with the Ancestor Cores. The sheer weight of data contained within them has begun to overwhelm the cogitators capacities and they’ve started to slow down and develop quirks and idiosyncrasies that border on personality. While once the Leagues leaders could have an answer to a complex question in moments it can now take cores decades or centuries to produce the same information.
Whilst there are numerous leagues spread across the stars and competing for position, at present there are currently five major leagues at the top of Kin society:
The Greater Thurian League
An alliance of over 200 Kindreds and multiple wealthy guilds, the Greater Thurian League is one of the original founding Leagues and one of the largest. The League’s main focus is on securing the homeworlds and expanding their hold to provide for Kin that lost their homeworlds to chaos incursions. They’re clearly recognisable on the battlefield in teal and white.
The Trans-Hyperian Alliance
This league is made up of the adventurers who constantly seek to explore and colonise new worlds to unlock their mysteries. Their pioneers are notably good at their jobs, and unlike other Leagues they’ve adopted a nomadic lifestyle – even their Ancestor Cores travel with them, safe in the heart of highly fortified ships. They’re distinguished by the orange and white of their void suits.
The Kronus Hegemony
A young league formed a millennium ago, the Kronus Hegemony was founded when the Fane (collection of arcane technology that Voltan use to communicate) of the Kôrynn Kindred became a Voltann. The league now aggressively hunt down new knowledge and materials in order to support and defend their newly created Ancestor Core. They’re known for being quick to anger (even for Kin) and are the most warlike league – any new Kindred that join must pledge themselves to a focus on training large Kinhosts. Their forces are known for their yellow and black livery.
The Ymyr Conglomerate
This league are the masters of engineering and production of technology, managing to stand apart even in a race that prides itself on those abilities. Their craftsmen and forges produce wargear of unparalleled quality and in vast volumes. Entire warhosts can be fielded armed with top class weaponry and highly developed armour with advanced warmachines operating in support, all decked out in the distinctive deep red of the Ymyr’s regalia.
The Urani-Surtr Regulates
Known as the URSR this league is beset on all sides by Necrons, Orks and Tyranid forces. It’s unknown if their refusal to give an inch in the face of these aggressors is due to age-old grudges, particularly valuable homeworlds or sheer stubbornness, but what is known is that the URSR fight on relentlessly despite losses. The only explanation they proffer is that their ancestors would abandon them if they forfeited their Homeworlds. Clad in simple green gear these grim warriors carry on their fight without hesitation.
The leagues come to the battlefields of the 41st millennium with ceaseless loyalty, grim determination and some serious firepower, and are fully prepared to mow down the forces of anyone who oppose (or insult) them. What impact do you think they’re going to have on the unfolding narrative of the Warhammer universe?
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