Pygmies (Warhammer Fantasy)

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This article is about something that is considered by the overpowering majority of /tg/ to be fail.
Expect huge amounts of derp and rage, punctuated by /tg/ extracting humor from it.

Oh, boy.

The genesis of Warhammer Fantasy is that of an excuse to sell overstocked Dungeons & Dragons models which evolved into its own setting under the guidance of number-crunchers who took and passed the early torches of modern tabletop gaming outside of the roleplaying medium as well as loremasters who combined their degrees in history with their love of then-contemporary fantasy like Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, and Conan the Barbarian. Also, they were all British.

Early Warhammer was wild and combined just about whatever the writers wanted, lacking a unified setting as it was just a cluster of ideas designed to inspire people to make their own continuity among each other.

One of these ideas wound up unfortunately being one of the only depictions of black or Latino peoples in the setting. Most of the game takes place in "dialed up to 11 largely for the sake of comedy" Renaissance eras, both early and late, although it also has bronze age, stone age, and magic douchebag Atlantis types mixed in for flavor. So of course having a large chunk of the game taking place in eastern or southern Africa isn't entirely fitting, but the game doesn't have a distinct zoomed-in focus as Mongols and Aztec scalies get a fair amount of spotlight as well.

This makes the presence of the Pygmies fairly embarrassing since they were a shockingly racist expy of Africans straight out of the colonial representation of the Congo (although to be fair, the highly parodical nature of many of the elements of Warhammer could indicate mockery of this concept rather than playing it straight).

Pygmies first appeared in the second edition of Warhammer (it is worth noting that Warhammer didn't even have a true complete setting until 3rd edition) in the Warhammer Battle Bestiary supplement in 1984. They had the same stats of ordinary humans barring one point less of Strength and Toughness, but their point cost was so low that they were arguably one of the best options in the entire game at the time since you could easily create a huge horde of them that can outmatch almost anything. They appeared in the 2e scenario The Magnificent Sven in which they had successfully defeated a Norse (bear in mind this is before Chaos existed in Warhammer) warriors consisting of 120, and the 121st was the guest of honor (unironically, as in he was given choice cuts and as much beer as he wanted) at a feast where they had cooked his companions (and his amputated leg) before letting him go free. These Pygmies live in Lustria, or at least the 2e prototype of it. The artwork was stereotypical, but not completely offensive. They looked like dark-skinned Dwarfs dressed in a combination of Aztec and Zulu styles.

For context, the term "Pygmy" first appears as an ancient Greek creature called the "Pygmaeus", a type of short human-like monster which the Greek poet Homer said came from the region we now know to be India. It also referred to the distance between the fist and elbow for the purpose of measuring clothes/armor. The term was (much) later used during the time period where European superpowers aggressively colonized the world in all directions (but north obviously), being applied to various societies that were still in the stone or bronze age which due to less nutritious diets were usually shorter than the explorers. The term is considered racist, but there's no real alternative word that's caught on in the mainstream so seemingly the rule is that any group who has enough internet access to complain about it can't be called Pygmies anymore, for everyone else its fair game. Although the term was applied to South American tribes, today it only refers to groups in Africa and southeastern Asia.

While that last bit could be theoretically used to excuse the concept since it wouldn't apply towards a real people, Citadel released models in 1985 by Alan and Michael Perry accompanied by artwork of the same minis in the Spring 1985 issue of Citadel Journal. This newly revised version of the Pygmies eschewed the defensible older artwork with the "Pickaninny" style of highly exaggerated features. Who thought this was a good idea is unknown, particularly since not only were the models and artwork embarrassing but their status as a powerful faction with a supporting role in a major story was gone as well. While the visual style of the 3rd edition they were released for was to amp up the exaggeration in order to create unique models that stand out when viewed from a distance (as armies had gotten bigger in 3e) and to create a more signature style to help the Citadel brand, the rest of the models to get this treatment weren't based on ethnic stereotypes (at least since we stopped considering belligerent Irishmen a different race anyway).

Pygmies were only mentioned a handful of times after 1985. The first, and only major appearance, came as a timed scenario for Games Day Convention 1997 written by Basil Barrett which was published in the 100th issue of White Dwarf. The scenario, entitled "The Hanging Gardens Of Bab-Elonn", gives Pygmies a new origin as an alien race that arrived alongside the Old Ones, also in giant floating pyramids from another dimension/outer space. The Pygmy culture devolved since then until now they were a stone age race of short cannibal humanoids who share Lustria with the creations of the Old Ones who have similarly lost most (but not all) of the advanced super magic science they came to the world with. In the campaign, the Pygmy players explore one of the pyramids of their ancestors...which will blow up in 2 hours due to a self-destruct mechanism they accidentally triggered.

Since then Pygmies have only been mentioned very sparingly, once in the Blood Bowl comics as being the team that the Amazons beat (and ate) in order to qualify for the Old World tourney. While the other highly racist Warhammer race, Hobgoblins, simply had the more overt tones dropped and continued to be active in canon, Pygmies are more or less a relic of neckLongbeard Warhammer.

Technically speaking they could be used today as they were never actually retconned thanks to surviving references, and their statline and use of blowguns as a main weapon pretty much makes them Skinks. Their models are not known for being particularly expensive on the secondary market unless buying a complete set, although their original packaging will increase the value substantially.

Age Of Sigmar(?)[edit]

Due to increased non-white representation in Games Workshop's sequel to Warhammer Fantasy called Age of Sigmar, some have joked that the Pygmies finally evolved (and managed to knock up some Dark Aelves Elves). This is obviously not canon in any way, not only because it would be a PR nightmare for Games Workshop but also because its canon that the only things in Lustria that survived the destruction of the Warhammer World were what the Slann loaded onto their ships.

That being said...its canon that the Slann have recreated Lustria as constructs of light magic in their realm, which they send on raids against the enemies of Order. While the Slann and their obsession with the designs of the Old Ones may not have considered the Amazons worth creating construct copies of (although for all we know they have already), the fact that in the most current canon the Pygmies predate the Slann might mean that they would see them as just a natural and intended part of the Warhammer World. So...maybe they do exist still? At any rate it would give Games Workshop the chance to make some humans/humanoids to sell in the South American styles without the baggage of the current design of the Pygmies.