My recent involvement in the Warhammer 40K miniatures game caused me to view one of the short stories, The Bleak Shore, in Swords Against Death in a whole new way.
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, carousing in their favourite watering hole, The Silver Eel, encounter an enigmatic stranger - a small, pale man with a bulging forehead, who places a powerful geas upon them to seek their doom upon the bleak shore of the Western Continent. Fafhrd and the Mouser immediately depart in Fafhrd's red-sailed sloop across the Inner Sea, accompanied by their Mingol henchmen. Upon reaching the bleak shore, Fafhrd bade the Mingols return to Lankhmar, saying "Do not follow. We are dead men. Go back if you can."
Fafhrd and the Mouser set out climbing the basalt crags on the shore and upon reaching the plateau they discovered a flat landscape of black sand, barren of life, in which was embedded more than two score monstrous black eggs amid a litter of bones scattered over the sand. They hear a thin, clear voice from out of nowhere intone, "For warriors, a warrior's doom," and then the eggs began to hatch. What follows is the passage describing the hatching:
The first hint of their nature came in the form of a long, swordlike claw which struck out through a crack, widening it farther. Fragments of shell fell more swiftly.
The two creatures which emerged in the gathering dusk held enormity even for the Mouser's drugged mind. Shambling things, erect like men, but taller, with reptilian heads boned and crested like helmets, feet clawed like a lizards, shoulders topped with bony spikes, forelimbs each terminating in a single yard-long claw. In the semidarkness they seemed like hideous caricatures of fighting men, armored and bearing swords. Dusk did not hide the yellow of their blinking eyes.
Compare this photo of one of my tyranid hormagaunt miniatures to Leiber's description. Uncanny similarity?
And here is a rendition of the creature by Fred Fields from the AD&D 2nd edition sourcebook, Lankhmar: City of Adventure
In the description of the creatures, called Gladiator Lizards in the AD&D Lankhmar sourcebook, that accompanies their stat block, they are said to "fight with extreme agility, attacking twice per round, once with each claw. When encountered in pairs, they are always brood mates. Brood mates have a mental link that allows them to coordinate attacks, giving the second gladiator lizard to attack in a round a +1 to hit." This mental link uncannily parallels the synaptic link with which tyranid leaders coordinate the brood warriors.
There is little doubt that the Warhammer 40K tyranid race, in general, was largely inspired by the Alien/Aliens movies by Ridley Scott and James Cameron, but it appears as though the design of the hormagaunt warrior broods might have been heavily influenced by Fritz Leiber's creatures from the Bleak Shore.
But, more importantly, I've found a whole new use for my many hormagaunt miniatures. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the dungeon....