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🔨 Warhammer 40k
Tyranid Lore

Updated at 2020-02-15 01:07

The humans create. The necrons maintain. The tyranids consume.

- Location 11691, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

The Tyranids are an extragalactic species of collective insectoids. Tyranid organisms have little distinct consciousness or mind of their own. All of them merge into a single unfathomable consciousness called the Hive Mind. The Hive Mind has a single goal, "grow", which happens by consuming all resources on encountered planets.

Kellian twisted his hands around his spear. ‘That is a misinterpretation, noble autarch. There is no malice here. The Great Dragon is a force of nature, nothing more. It is not evil as the Doom of Souls is, but merely terrible in its endless hunger. A force of nature, nothing more, but awful for that. We are leaves before the hurricane.’

- Location 3296, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

Tyranids have no concept of evil or good. They simply are and act according to their survival instincts. Tyranids leave moral dilemmas to the other races.

Brief, two concept synopsis of each major hive fleet:

Leviathan:      Balance and Resilience
Behemoth:       Melee and Raw Power
Kronos:         Ranged and Anti-psyker
Gorgon:         Poisons and Adaptability
Kraken:         Speed and Exploiting Weaknesses
Jormungandr:    Ambush and Siege Warfare
Hydra:          Swarm and Regrowth
Tiamet:         Defense and Creating Structures
Ouroboros:      Flight and Shock Assault

It stood for the Great Devourer, the Star Ravener, the Hunger from the Void. The tyranids, which the eldar called the Great Dragon.

- Location 475, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

Modified by the Parting of the Ways, Draoch-var represented the hive fleet Far Ranging Hunger, the one the humans called Kraken.

- Location 476, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

Amid the bone and red of Far Ranging Hunger’s weapon-beasts he caught flashes of white and purple. More voidspawn, those the eldar called Starving Dragon and the humans Hive Fleet Leviathan.

- Location 483, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

"Tyranid" is only the human name for the species, likewise for the hive fleet naming. This comes from the first officially recorded encounter with the species on Tyran Primus planet. For example, Eldar call the species "The Great Dragon" or "the voidspawn" and they call Kraken "The Far Ranging Hunger" and Leviathan "The Starving Dragon". Orcs simply call them "bugs." As the species has no intention of communicating with the rest of the cosmos except for purely personal gain without any diplomatic considerations, it is highly unlikely that the rest of the spacefaring races will ever get to learn what they call themselves, if they even have a concept of that.

The storm bolter in his hand thundered, and the genestealer was reduced to purple mist and ragged tatters of alien flesh.

- Location 6753, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

I breach the gate, the killing almost metronomic in its regularity. Xenos blood has turned my armour a viscous purple hue.

- Location 12034, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

Tyranid blood is purple. At least the (semi-accurate) lore books seem to indicate that hive fleet Leviathan has some purple "excrement".

Our cold bodies hold little interest for the Devourer. At best, they might be drawn to the more physical power sources utilised by our technologies, or defend themselves when we strike them. But fodder for their living ships, we are not.

- Location 11610, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

Non-living species might still be of interest to tyranids. As tyranids appreciate any source of resources like power cells or minerals, those might become target of tyranids. But biomass (living things) are the most delicious substance due to it containing both resources and knowledge that tyranids can assimilate.

Tyranids don't like fighting the Chaos. As beings of Immaterium leave no substance behind, they don't attract tyranids at all, only the resources that they might control. Tyranids only fight Chaos if they get in the way getting to those resources.

Human hive cities are like tyranid baits. The Imperium tends to colonize planets by setting up one or a few hive cities and then ravaging the rest of the planet to extract the resources. Then humans breed on a rapid rate generating a lot of biomatter that further attracts tyranids. Such a strong concentration of matter lights like a beacon for tyranids as it promises more biomass per effort.

The door to Thurliarissa’s transport hissed shut, sealing the warriors into the craft with thousands of squirming weapons grubs. The creatures spasmed violently, expending what little life they had to destroy the eldar. First to fall was Ulieneathar, shrieking horribly as the beetle-like constructs burrowed through the weaknesses in his armour and through the hardened bodyglove beneath. Then Ralitheen. And finally Thurliarissa. They all swatted at their limbs, fingers digging frantically at flesh to pull the creatures out, but there were too many. Pain of a kind Thurliarissa had never felt overwhelmed her as the creatures chewed through her soft tissues, their barbed bodies scraping against her bones. Acidic secretions burned her nerves. The strength left her legs. She collapsed to the floor, and was engulfed by the grubs. The last thing Thurliarissa heard in this life was the screams of eldar in many transports being devoured alive.

- Location 1869, The Great Devourer: the Leviathan Omnibus, by Guy Haley, Josh Reynolds, Braden Campbell, Joe Parrino, L J Goulding, Nick Kyme

Everything tyranid is living or part of a living being. Even tyranid ammunitions are living beetles, flesh-burrowing worms, bone spikes or blobs of acidic bile.