+ inload: Anatomy of the enemy VI: Fomn +

+ Anatomy of the enemy VI: Fomn +

Of all the miserable xenos I've had the misfortune to encounter, Fomn were the most frustrating. Like fighting fog, the filthy things simply refused to engage. When at last they were forced to coalesce, they came striding down the approach to the bridge, the auto-defences hexed by that horrorwitch. The brutes knocked the armsmen aside in bludgeoning strokes, grabbed Navigatrix Sulo – and, with her still screaming, disappeared into thin air. 

Blinded, it took us nearly three years to limp to the nearest port; by which time the Fomn were long gone.

Extract from Campaign in the Braccian Reach – Lord Marshal Endun of Battlefleet Solar


+ Abstract +

Brutal, ancient and aggressive, the Fomn's hidden empire has been fading for aeons; but stubbornly refuses to die out. Suffused by the immaterium through ritual and sortilege, their worlds and holdfasts are shunned by most sapient species – but their connection to the warp and mysterious relationship to homo navigus makes them a fell and avowed opponent of humanity.

+ First contact +

Scratchy and unreliable record fragments, found in datalooms and archaeotech hoards believed to date back to the Dark Age of Technology, offer tantalising hints of species bearing hallmarks of the Fomn. Of course, many thousands of species have been encountered by humans over the millennia, so why should such vague and indistinct records suggest a particular species? 

In this case, it is partially the Fomn's distinctiveness – simultaneously familiar enough to the human form to admit ready description, while distinctive enough to be marked out – that makes them recognisable, even from oral history. Their curious cycloptic nature, imposing physique and methods of contact make for easy and vivid description, even in fragmentary or partially corrupted data. 

More striking than their physical form, however, is their curious nature; and it is this that dominates all records of the creatures. Their suildluith – variously recounted as 'the evil eye', 'gimlet gaze' or 'warp eye' amongst a thousand other similar descriptors – is the main contributing factor to their long, if intermittent, interaction with humanity; and with their continuing belligerence. 

In any case, contact with the Fomn long predates Imperial history – and it may be that contact predates the Dark Age of Technology itself.


+ Fomn biology +

Adult warrior Fomn standing between nine and twelve feet from toes to the top of their head, Fomn are rangy, spindly creatures with thick rubbery skin. Skintones usually range from pale orange to pale green on their dorsal sides, while ventral skin is near universally a corpse-pale white-purple. Occasional specimens appear with different colorations, but this is rare. Clusters of darker spots are common on dorsal skin, and on the face and forearms.

Along with their pale, hairless bodies, their hands and feet are large and webbed, indicative of a semi-aquatic ancestry; and they favour swampy terrain and worlds with plenty of free water. Fomn are particularly vulnerable to dehydration and heat-based weaponry; and standard doctrine recommends the deployment of melta and promethium-projecting weaponry where possible. 

Fomn bear long, sinuous tails. Dependent on caste, some of these end in tufts of a hair-analogue; others in thick skin, rendering it able to use as an improvised weapon. All Fomn emerge from their sacs as small, pale and genderless creatures. Left in isolation, they will mostly grow to infertile forms roughly five to seven foot high, with a lifespan measured in centuries. In communities, however, they develop through a form of enforced puberty – known as atharrachadh – that drives them towards a particular caste. There appear to be dozens of these; but the most commonly-encountered by humanity are warriors, psykers known as (cailleach) and the 'daemon-speakers' (or dirach).

Lacking external ears – indeed, with few distinguishable facial features of any type save their conical snout, bristling with grubby, short, sharp teeth – the Fomn possess a honeycomb-like internal ear that grants them excellent navigational abilities undewater, or in poor visibility. This partially explains their prediliction for, and expertise in, fighting at dusk or in mist and fog.

Emitting an unpleasant scent of corruption somewhere between swamp water and musk, their most distinctive physical characteristic of all Fomn is their baleful single eye. Lacking binocular vision, their depth perception is poor, a weakness partly, though no completely offset by their ability to peer beyond the physical and into the immaterium. 

How this is achieved is unknown. It is a feature that has long intrigued the Imperium at large, discussed in everything from learned debate to folk tales of 'beasts with the evil eye' across the galaxy. The few specimens that have been captured demonstrate no obvious physical attribute of their optical or other sensory organ that would allow the ability; and while many of the Fomn castes demonstrate prodigious psychic ability, that is not a quality that extends across the warrior caste. 

Glossy and black, the fimir's suildluith has obvious similarities to the Warp-eye of homo navigo – the Navigators – and the Fomn are similarly rumoured to be able to strike down those who meet their gaze. A few patchy reports seems to corroborate this, but more common is a general sense of malaise and unease on those who find themselves in close contact with Fomn. Their common low gothic names often reflect this. They are variously known as witcheyesbascilixsoulhunters and hundreds more variants across the Imperium at large.

Most Fomn are male, with meargh females appearing vanishingly rarely. Larger, stronger and more intelligent than the males, meargh usually rise to positions of power through physical and psychic dominance of their kin. The apparent paucity of females has led to many human cultures telling tales of Fomn raiders spiriting women away to produce more Fomn through magical or sorcerous means – but this is without any basis in empirical fact; and more likely shines a mirror to the raiding practises and prejudices of human cultures in which such tales arise. 

Like spiders or toads, Mearghs produce vast sacks of offspring that are intermittently fertilised by dominant males. There is no doubt that Fomn take captives, but such fanciful notions as magical impregnation are founded only in myth: Fomn invariably eat their prey.


Fomn technology +

Fomn technology appears crude and ritualistic; but this belies its puissance. As with all aspects of their foul culture, the Fomn's wargear is closely bound to the warp. The symbols and markings frequently serve a warding role, guiding and channelling direct transference of conventional energy in a manner equivalent to Imperial or orkoid field technology; simply using the warp itself in place of technomantic solutions such as electromagnetism. In bare terms of function, Fomn weaponry is unsophisticated and ineffective; but this is overcome through their successful yoking of sorcerous warp-binding.

Fomn warrior armour is distinctive, frequently made from crude metals and stone, giving it a primeval appearance. Outwardly cumbersome and awkward, it is rarely form-fitting; instead restricted to protecting the head and bellies – which are culturally important; symbolising prosperity and dominance. The surface of the armour is invariably covered in eye-watering symbols picked out through inscription and highlighted with precious stones. These frequently evoke the suildluith of the Fomn, being picked out to look like open, staring eyes. It is yet another reason why many Imperial worlds dread the Fomn – even comparatively sophisticated Imperial societies associate the single staring eye with the arch-Traitor Horus and the traitor legions, and the appearance of such large monsters provokes a particular dread amongst the faithful.

Fomn blast pistols – or bataborradh – are heavy, brutal weapons that discharge high intensity laser energy. Swift-firing but short-ranged, these weapons rely on saturation of fire rather than accuracy.

Fomn favour close-in fighting, utilising brutally effective chain-weapon analogues to spread fear and terror. As with their armour, their weapons are often ritually decorated in order to enhance their already formidable physical abilities. 

Gaudy and primal it may appear, but Fomn armour is nevertheless highly effective. It resonates a low charge that not only protects them from psychic attack, but also wards off small arms and offers some protection against heavier weaponry.

Fomn armour does incorporate some concessions to atmospheric adaptation; the pict-capture above shows both the rebreather device built into the backplate and the incorporated communications array in the helm. Such technology is believed to be considered another element in the overall composition of the ritualistic decoration, and thus functional elements will follow the same alien aesthetic as the rest of the Fomn's technology. The crest on the helm here is an example; the shape concealing a shortband comms-mitter/ceiver.


Visitation fleets +

As far as can be ascertained, the Fomn maintain no connected empire; rather being a disparate species that temporarily occupies small, isolated worlds in wilderness space. The majority of such planets are deep in warpstorm-touched areas, hidden and protected from other species. Such worlds as they do colonise are swiftly polluted by their presence, invariably becoming mire-covered swampworlds, fizzing with corruption, as the Fomn raise fell monoliths and steles to their vast pantheon of gods.

Contact with humanity is rare and intermittent, with centuries or even Millennia passing without sightings of their Visitation fleets. These powerful armadas, made up of many dozens of vast dish-shaped craft, ply the hidden depths of wilderness space. While their motives are largely mysterious, it is suspected that their movements are driven by warp tides; populations abandoning worlds as the warp ebbs, and moving to invade and capture new holdings where the veil between the material and immaterial thins.

Fomn are superlative navigators, their biology well-suited and technology geared towards swift and silent movement across the galaxy.

+ Primary visitation fleet tracking M34–M36 +

Visitation fleets will descend upon planets with little warning; the warriors inside boiling out to swiftly overwhelm the inhabitants. Fomn use their method of arrival to disrupt planetary defences, translating from warp within the heliosphere of a star, then 'skipping' the warp to within a planet's outer atmosphere. The dish-shape of the craft thus becomes a form of weapon, with disruption caused both to planetary weather patterns and the warp signature of the planet. 

The physical result is to send scouring rains, boiling weatherfronts of mist, duststorms and other sensor-fogging atmospheric effects roiling across their points of landing; while the spiritual consequence of the warp disturbance is to fill the defenders with deep uncertainty and fear. The disruption that goes in front of the Fomn is thus both wide-ranging and profound, making them a considerably greater threat than their comparatively low tech-level would suggest. That they also make use of daemons and warp-magick further increases their capabilities.

This method of invasion, along with their swift deployment, is utterly reliant on their incomparably precise navigation through the immaterium. No other species comes close to their precision in galactic movement, which is part of what makes them so infuriatingly difficult to bring to battle – they are simply able to avoid or withdraw contact.

Despite these strengths, Fomn seemingly shy from conflict with advanced groups wherever possible, preferring to prey on backward or lightly-defended worlds. Since their objectives seem to be harvesting provisions – that it, livestock – or colonisation near worlds that are falling into heavier warpstorms, the Imperium finds countering such attacks difficult. 

Where the Fomn can be brought to battle, they are a strong but not insurmountable foe. A typical guard outpost or properly-manned Imperial bastion will have sufficient firepower to drive off feinting attacks, and Fomn will usually withdraw before daylight-equivalent cycles, where their protective mists dissipate and poor day-vision renders them still worse at ranged combat.


+ The Nova Terra Interregnum +

The disruption caused by the Nova Terra Interregnum meant that reports of Fomn activity – always patchy and unreliable owing to their unfamiliarity – lost all cohesion. It is believed that Fomn vessels took advantage of the galactic disruption to increase their attacks on Imperial shipping; a behaviour that had been hitherto unknown or unreported.

The Fomn showed no differentiation between attacks on Nova Terran or Old Imperial shipping, indicating their motives were purely selfish.

+ The Fomn during the Alien Wars +

The precise connection or relationship between the Fomn and Navigators – if there is one – is utterly mysterious. Even the Inquisition tread lightly around the wickedly powerful Navigator houses, and the few investigators that have dared to broach the subject have been immediately stonewalled. Imperial history records that they, along with a number of other human subspecies and abhumans, appear to have been artificially created in some way during the Dark Age of Technology; but the Navigators themselves admit nothing about their origins.

The Alien Wars, however, did throw some light on the relationship. In late M35, the Navigator House of Ghi – a so-called 'shrouded' or 'beggar' house, had been making a number of seemingly ruinous betrothals outside of the House to many different Navigator Houses; a practise that would have seen them die out entirely in two or three generations. A low-ranking unidentified Navigator, perhaps an ally or scion of Ghi, began to make a series of cryptic reports to the Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Moad Ben Djagal. 

He was killed by unknown assailants before these could be transmitted in full, but the decrypted results bore an unmistakable trace to a little known-world deep in the minor warpstorm Phlegethon. It was discovered that the world had contained a substantial proportion of the House of Ghi's holdings in a subterranean complex; and that they had been in regular contact with the Fomn. Upon further investigation, an entire manufactorum bearing hallmarks of the Fomn was discovered producing a fatal nerve-toxin effective only against homo navigo; keyed to activate only in two generations time. Realising the implications, Inquisitor Ben Djagal was able to bring the plot to the attention of the Paternoval Envoy, and a silent massacre was successfully avoided.

That the Fomn were heavily involved in a plot to destabilise or entirely wipe out numerous Navigatorial houses is an unavoidable conclusion. The question of why this might be, however, remains elusive.


+ Post Script +

What conclusion can we draw from the Fomn? Such nebulous lessons as xenos can grant are valuable only through negation: learning the shape of our foe through the space it should occupy. Here, it hints at conspiracy at the highest level. What do the Patriarchs and Matriarchs seek to shield from the wider Imperium?

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.


  1. Love the retro vibe of the mini and the lore. Where is the figure coming from?

    1. He's from Knightmare miniatures; their Fomorian Bounty Hunter. Comes very much recommended. Lovely metal miniatures:

  2. Very cool. Bowdlerisation though of only ok in the 80s fimir lore, Celtic fairy rapists the lot of them.

    1. Yeah, unpleasant concept then, unpleasant concept now. For those interested in the background of how this came about, you can read about the designer's thoughts and intentions on Terminally Incoherent:


      ... in which Graeme Davis is quoted as saying it was an unfortunate oversight, rather than intentionally horrible:
      'The most controversial aspect of the Fimir, their need to kidnap human women for breeding, came from an Orkney creature called a kunal-trow, which is probably a distorted folk-memory of troll-myths brought to those islands by the Vikings. When I wrote the description of the Fimir, I didn’t give this feature enough though, as I now realize; at the time it somehow never occurred to me that the legends were talking about kidnapping and rape. It should have, and I regret this.
      ~ Graeme Davis, via email, 3/28/14'

      When re-introducing them, I wanted to nod to the concept, and write it out.

  3. Oh, man, that's amazing! I love your take on the mini. I also have this one and you blew my mind with the paintjob. Besides, as usual, your background really makes the difference. I'm giving you 12 points out of 10!


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