Monday 14 January 2013

Origin of the Species: Fimir

There's a one-eyed yellow idol 
To the north of Kathmandu; 
There's a little marble cross below the town; 
And a brokenhearted woman
Tends the grave of 'Mad' Carew, 
While the yellow god for ever gazes down.
Milton Hayes 1911(Kenneth Williams 1978)
Alan Lee | Formorian Balor One-Eye | Castles | 1984

Tony Ackland | Fimir | 1987 (?)

Steve Whitehead | Forge World Fimir | 2011

"Graeme Davis had been tasked with creating a new race. So between us we came up with the Fimir He working on the text and me on the visuals. The starting point was a book cover that Graeme found featuring a Fomorian as depicted by Alan Lee. I mutated the image and Graeme shortened the name and changed the vowels. Not the most original thing either of us did."

The 3 fingers, odd bovine lizard face with pointed snout, the stooped shambling gait and prominent sharp teeth remain the stable genetic inheritance. Strangely Alan Lees image, Balor of the Evil Eye (not the exact image mentioned by Graeme - but another Formorian by Alan Lee) from his 1984 book  Castles appears maimed rather than cycloptic, like some rain soaked Odinic mutant goat. Always liked the Fimm, with their mist-shrouded nefarious activities, obviously based on the Fomorians of Celtic Myth, and all the better for it.

"I showed Jes an illo of a Fomorian on the cover of a paperback book of Irish folktales, and we went from there. It all started when Bryan Ansell decided that WFRP should introduce a new race to the WH world - "to be as distinctive of Warhammer as the Broo are of Runequest" were his exact words if memory serves ... So as I say, Jes and I came up with the concept for Fimir, Jes did the designs and I did the culture and game stats - and in the end, both Zoats and Fimir ended up in WFRP, and nobody much cares for either race. The popularisation of Fimir wasn't helped by a communications foul-up when Nick Bibby took over making the miniatures from Jes - Nick made them all Ogre-sized, compared to Jes' and my idea that they should be Orc sized. So we had big, expensive miniatures with low game stats, and nobody bought them. Sigh."
Graeme Davis, usenet post 1998

There are some discrepancies between Tony and Graemes accounts, mostly down to the involvement of Jes at the concept stage. Graemes statement is over a decade after the event and Tonys a quarter of a century, so perhaps it is to be expected that the exact details are hazy. That both speak of a book cover as original inspiration is interesting, especially as I cannot find a book cover with the Alan Lee image on it (not to say it doesn't exist, which it does, as eventually I found it, on the back cover of a book of Celtic Fairy tales see here ). So perhaps the true origins of Fimir will remain somewhat foggy, shrouded in the mists of time.

See part two: Fimirian musings on Henson & Froud


  1. Splendid post, I always enjoy a bit of fimir history.

  2. great post I should of used my two old citadel one as Fomorian's when I ran my Slaine RPG all them years ago, damn it missed a good one there

  3. A fantastic post... Its good to see more delvings into the history of the Design Studio. From what I have learnt about the studio in those days, things were pretty relaxed and lots of people were happy to contribute to many projects...

    But no Paul Bonner pictures of the foul beasts?

  4. The cover in question is actually the back cover of this book:

    Somebody actually mentioned it on Mr Saturday's blog a while ago, and it took me some time to track it down. I haven't read it yet (only started the first volume - it's good), but I'm wondering if other ideas are nicked from the stories.


  5. I got my first taste of Fimirs and gaming together with a copy of the board game Hero Quest. They caught my imagination even if they skipped most other peoples'. I had no idea until today that they where based on Fomorians, I even had Alan Lees castles and never noticed the similarities.

  6. It's the Irish/Celtic background of the fimir that really dragged me into doing an army. As pseudo fomorians, there's so much great fodder for theme that one is spoilt for choice.

    1. IIRC in Games Master International Magazine, they had an article about wargaming in Celtic Mythology which mentions using the Fimir as Fomorians (and suggests Wardancers as other celtic types I think). Not amazingly detailed, but might be interesting to you.

      Micheal Moorcocks Corum (Prince of the Silver Hand) is definitely worth a read, it's a pulp fantasy take on Celtic myth. The seven giants of the Fhoi Myore (Formorians) and their semi-undead minions "People of the Pines" and some kind of winter wolves, invading the lands of the Mabden.

    2. Thanks for those. Corum sounds good. I haven't read any Moorcock in some time.

  7. Hey Orlygg, I left Bonners amazing works out because they were published a while later (1988), so he might not have been involved in their origins. Perhaps he'd make a good interview candidate? His drawings of the Fimir are definitely of the Orc sized variety (as they stand next to each other!), while the Nick Bibby sculpts premiered in the same issue of WD (102) are ogre sized...

    Thanks Robin for the book tip-off. Quite an obscure edition that, if anyone can get a copy of the back cover, or the wrap around art, that would be very interesting.

    And of course all Fimir lovers should be admiring Mr. "Fimirmaster" Saturdays spectacular Fimir Army.

  8. So where do the 25mm based limited edition fimir with axis fit I wonder.... dying to get one of those!

    1. That was the original Jes Goodwin fimir, the definitive one, in my opinion. I'm lucky enough to have one, and it's a fantastic mini.