Sunteți pe pagina 1din 402

Hello Wargamer,

And thank you so much for picking up the rules for Kings of War.
It isn’t many games, especially wargames, that get to a third
edition. These days
some don’t even get to the first edition, so we are mightily proud
that there are
enough players out there who like what we do enough to buy our
books, build armies
with our miniatures and play the game, time and time again.
The longevity of Kings of War I think is down to a few things.
Firstly there is a demand for a great rank-and-flank style fanta
sy game, and
Kings of War certainly seems to fill that slot.
We have always worked with, and listened carefully to, the commu
nity – there is
no game without the fans. And Mantic has also been fortunate
enough to work with
some of the best people in the industry, right from Alessio’s initial
12 page rules
pamphlet, through the hardback books and several expansions, we
have been supported
by fantastic writers, artists, layout and graphic design talent and
wonderful
sculptors, painters and tool makers. And let’s not forget the tireles
s efforts of the
Kings of War Rules Committee.
Finally we invested in the game with our own funds, plus money
raised from
Kickstarter, to get the vast range of plastic, metal and resin miniat
ures to go with
the rules.
However, we are particularly proud that this is the first edition
that goes directly to
consumers via our website and our fantastic retail partners.
This third edition not only brings Titans to your fantasy tabletop,
along with new
spells, units and of course more balance and cleaner rules, It also
delves deeper into
the world of Pannithor, looking at the various forces, armies and
political machinations
that lead to constant turmoil, and endless wars. This edition also
sees the world
become a living one – every year your results and the outcome
of our summer
campaigns will have an impact on the world, which will change and
develop as a result
from the games being played – so it is absolutely true… every
battle counts!
Best wishes, enjoy and thank you.

Ronnie
Introduction

INTRODUCTION
The world of Pannithor is a place of magic and adventure. But it is also beset by danger in this, the Age of Conflict. Legions
of evil cast their shadow across the lands while the forces of good strive to hold back the darkness. Between both, the armies of
nature fight to maintain the balance of the world, led by a demi-god from another time.

Welcome to Kings of War, and prepare to rally your forces to


fight epic battles in the biggest and best fantasy mass-battle What’s In This Book?
game. This book contains all the information you need to muster
your soldiers and march them to war.
Pannithor is a wondrous place with a rich and detailed
history. Civilisations have come and gone and even the gods The rules section explains how to play the game, covering
themselves have fought for dominance across the battle- everything you need to know about moving, shooting, combat
scarred lands. Despite their interference, or perhaps due to it, and casting spells.
the noble races of Elf, Dwarf and Man are flourishing once
The army lists section introduces 14 different armies,
more. But while these most ancient of peoples build and seek
detailing all the options they have available, from infantry
order, the insidious agents of evil spill into the world. Mighty
and cavalry to heroes, war engines and monsters. Gallery
battles are all too common as hordes of orcs, demons, and
pages also showcase the superb range of Mantic miniatures
worse sweep through the world, intent on destruction and
available to collect and build your forces.
death. It is a time of uncertainty and war, but also a time for
great heroes and legends to rise. The background section takes a deep dive into the history of
Pannithor and the most populous region of the known world,
Kings of War is a tabletop game for two or more players.
Mantica. As well as proving a detailed look at the current
Choose your side and then command an army of Mantic
world, you’ll learn about the ancient gods, the usurpers
miniatures to represent incredible armies such as the stoic
known as the Celestians, and the bitter God War that
and pious Basileans, or plot your opponent’s downfall with
concluded with the creation of the opening to hell known as
the wicked Forces of the Abyss. With a huge variety of models
the Abyss.
and armies to choose from and many stories to tell, Kings of
War is truly an amazing spectacle like no other. Prepare to immerse yourself in the world of Kings of War like
never before.

3
Introduction

Contents
Rules .................................................. 6 Neutral Forces ............................................. 152
Forces of Nature ................................................... 153
Getting Started ................................................8
Ogres ......................................................................160
Units ................................................................10
The Trident Realm of Neritica .........................166
The Turn ........................................................ 16
The Kingdoms of Men ........................................174
The Movement Phase ............................................17
The Forces of Evil.......................................180
Terrain .....................................................................24
Abyssal Dwarfs ..................................................... 181
The Ranged Phase .................................................26
The Empire of Dust ............................................188
The Melee Phase ...................................................28
Forces of the Abyss ..............................................194
Nerve ........................................................................29
Goblins ...................................................................206
War Engines ..................................................32
Orcs ........................................................................216
Individuals .....................................................34 Undead ...................................................................222
Special Rules .................................................36
Army Lists..................................... 230
Picking a Force .............................................39
Basileans ......................................................232
Army Compostion..................................................42
Allies & Alignments .............................................43 Dwarfs .......................................................... 244
Magical Artefacts ..........................................45 Elves ..............................................................256
Magic............................................................... 53 Northern Alliance ..................................... 268
Game Scenarios ............................................. 57 Forces of Nature ......................................... 280
Scenarios .................................................................60 Ogres .............................................................292
Timed Games ..........................................................63 Trident Realm of Neritica ........................304
Pannithor ........................................ 74 Abyssal Dwarfs ............................................316
In the Beginning ...........................................77 Empire of Dust ...........................................328
The Time of Light ........................................82 Forces of the Abyss .....................................340
The God War ..................................................88 Goblins..........................................................352
The Time of Ice ............................................92 Nighstalkers .................................................364
The Age of Conflict ......................................94 Orcs ............................................................... 376
Of Magic .........................................................98 Undead ..........................................................388
The Forces of Good .....................................100
Basilea.................................................................... 101
Dwarfs .................................................................... 110
Elves .......................................................................128
Northern Alliance ...............................................146

4
Introduction

Credits
Rules Writing & Army List Development Editing & Proofing
Matthew James, Daniel King, Chris Morris, Jason Ead Brown, Rob Burman, Christopher Fisher, Matt Gilbert
Moorman, Jeffery Swann
Graphic Design & Layout
Background Material Duncan Aldis, David Lanza
Rob Burman, Michael Grey, Matt Gilbert, Guy Haley,
Mark Latham, Thomas Pike, Anthony Reynolds, Greg D Photography
Smith, David Symonds Ben Sandum

Miniature Painting Playtesters


Duncan Aldis, Luke Barker, Mark Bedwell, Alex Cairns, Patrick Zoro Allen, Michael Blyth, Roger Connor, Michael
Andrew Chesney, Conflict in Colour, Matt Gilbert, Golem Crossman, Matthew Curtis, Nick Davies, Andrew Goodman,
Painting Studio, Matt Kennedy, Ben Macintyre, Dave Neild, Jez Gurney, Alec Habig, Frank Habig, Daniel Hannon, Ed
Paul Scott Miniatures, Chris Straw, Studio Giraldez, David Herzig, Geoff Holland, Christopher James, Kris Kapsner,
Symonds, Chris Webb, Andrew Wedmore, Dave Wilson, George Kirke, Eldon Krosch Jr., Yan Zhi Lai, Sami
Winterdyne Commission Modelling Mahmoud, Elliot Morrish, Adam Padley, Michael Pearcy,
Cyle ‘Dino Lord’ Pool, Tom Robinson, Todd Serpico, Paul
Terrain Smith, Adrian Smith, Erich Trowbridge, Nick Williams,
Elvis Fisher, Gale Force Nine, PrintableScenery.com, Ben Eric Winters
Sandum, Sunny Shukla, Tabletop World, Nick Williams
Special Thanks
Art Andrew Sharp, PrintableScenery.com, Jesse Cornwell
Jeff Brown, Robin Carey, Robert Cirillo, Juan Diego (thanks for the boots!) and all our players across the world!
Dianderas, Shen Fei, Heath Foley, Michele Giorgi, Des
Hanley, Yann Hoarau, Ralph Horsley, Tugsbayar Jamts, Rob All scenery from owner’s collection.
Jenx, Stef Kopinski, Alan Lathwell, Ciaran Morris, Phil
Moss, Thomas Putman, Michael Rechlin, Boris Samec, Lie
Setiawan, Tan Ho Sim, Luigi Terzi, Damian Ziomek

5
The Rules
Getting Started

Getting Started
Welcome to Kings of War!
Kings of War is a mass-battle fantasy wargame set in the Some players select their armies based on the miniatures they
world of Pannithor. Rank upon rank of soldiers march into like, particular tactics they want to use in battle, or Kings of
bloody combat, while winged demons battle fiery dragons War’s extensive background. If you aren’t sure which army to
overhead. From launching devastating bombardments of field, just choose the one you like the look of most.
artillery, to tactically out-flanking your opponent’s forces,
Kings of War is a game of exciting, expansive fantasy battles.

This book is your guide to Kings of War, from playing the


game to the lore of the world of Pannithor and how to select
an army of your own!

What’s It All About?


In games of Kings of War, players field armies of painted
Mantic miniatures to fight exciting battles across the tabletop!
Combat and abilities are represented by a unit’s statistics
(called stats for short) and by rolling six-sided dice (called D6
for short) to decide your warriors’ fates.
You’ll also need clippers, plastic glue and super glue to
An army is made up of units, which can range from mighty assemble your miniatures. Your army doesn’t need to be
heroes, to powerful war engines, to blocks of stoic troops. painted for your first games – however, a fully painted army
looks amazing on the tabletop and is something to aspire to.
We will explore all these concepts in the pages that follow.

Each unit and army plays slightly differently, leading to


an almost infinite variety of tactics and strategies that can
be employed against your opponent in a game. You can
fight massive cataclysmic battles in an hour or two, fielding
monsters and hundreds of troops against each other, pulling
off feints and flanking manoeuvres to thwart your opponent’s
plans.

What Do I Need to Get Started?


You will need some six-sided dice, in two colours – about 15
This rulebook contains all the information you’ll need to get
of each colour is enough. These are for rolling in the game
started with your very first games. You will need a few more
and are also useful for showing how much damage a unit
things, however.
takes over time, by placing the dice behind the unit. You will
First and foremost, you’ll need an opponent - someone to face also need a ruler or tape measure that uses inches.
on the battlefield... and enjoy the game with! Each of you will
Finally, you will need a gaming area. This should be a flat,
need an army of your own to play with. You can get started
rectangular surface that is 6’x4’. It doesn’t need to be exactly
quickly by picking up a Mantic Army or Mega Army each,
this size, but this is an ideal size for a standard game. You can
or build up your forces with units according to your own
use some books as terrain if you don’t have any model scenery
preference. You could also split the contents of the Shadows
for your table yet. In the rules, the surface you are playing on
in the North starter box between you and use them to begin
– your battlefield – is called the table, or board.
your own new armies!

8
Dice
Getting Started
For example, if a dice roll had a modifier of -1, you would
subtract 1 from the score rolled. Thus, if a 5 was rolled on a
In these rules, whenever we refer to a die or dice, we mean die, it would become a result of 4, a 3 would become a 2, etc.
a normal six-sided die, which we call D6. Sometimes we also
use terms like ‘D3’, which is the result of a D6 divided by Modifiers to a roll are cumulative unless specified otherwise.
2 (rounded up); ‘D2’, which is the result of a D6 divided by For example two -1 modifiers would result in a total -2
3 (rounded up); ‘D6+1’, meaning rolling a D6 and adding 1 modifier.
to the result; or ‘2D6’, which is rolling two dice and adding
them together.
Re-Rolls
When you are allowed a re-roll, simply pick up the number
Modifiers of dice you are allowed to re-roll and roll them again.
Sometimes, one or more modifiers will apply to a roll. If The second result stands, even if it’s worse than the first.
a modifier applies, add or subtract it from each of the dice Regardless of the number of special rules that apply to a
scores, as appropriate, to find the final results. particular circumstance, you can never re-roll a re-roll; the
second result always stands.

9
Rules

Units
In Kings of War, all units are made up of one or more models. The number of models that make up a unit is specified in each
unit’s stats (explained on page 14) and will normally correspond to the number of models you get in boxes supplied by Mantic.
These models must be attached to bases and formed up into their units as described below. Each unit belongs to one of the
following Types.

Infantry (Inf) & Large Infantry (Lrg Inf),


Heavy Infantry (Hv Inf) Monstrous Infantry (Mon Inf),
Infantry units come in four sizes: Swarm (Swa) &
• Troops consisting of 10 models, arranged five models wide
in two ranks.
Large Cavalry (Lrg Cav)
• Regiments consisting of 20 models, arranged five models Large Infantry, Monstrous Infantry, Large Cavalry and
wide in four ranks. Swarm units come in three sizes:
• Hordes consisting of 40 models, arranged ten models wide • Regiments consisting of three models, arranged in a single
in four ranks. rank.
• Legions consisting of 60 models, arranged ten models wide • Hordes consisting of six models, arranged three models
in six ranks. wide in two ranks.
Each Infantry model has a 20mm square base. • Legions consisting of 12 models, arranged six models wide
in two ranks.
Each Heavy Infantry model has a 25mm square base.
Each Large Infantry and Swarm model has a 40mm square
base. Note that a Swarm of human-sized models must have at
Cavalry (Cav) least three models per model base, while a Swarm of smaller
Cavalry units come in three sizes: creatures like orclings should aim for five or more models per
base.
• Troops consisting of five models, arranged in a single rank.
Each Large Cavalry and Monstrous Infantry model has a
• Regiments consisting of 10 models, arranged five models
50mm square base.
wide in two ranks.
• Hordes consisting of 20 models, arranged ten models wide
in two ranks.
War Engine (War Eng)
Each Cavalry model has a 25x50mm rectangular base. A War Engine is a unit consisting of a single machine, like
a catapult or bolt thrower. It may also have a number of
crew models, but these are purely decorative and should
Chariot (Cht) be arranged around the machine in a suitably entertaining
Chariot units come in four sizes: fashion.
• Troops consisting of two models, arranged in a single rank. Since the crew is merely decorative, they are ignored for all
• Regiments consisting of three models, arranged in a single in-game purposes, such as checking ranges, movement, etc.
rank. Each War Engine model has a 50mm square base.
• Hordes consisting of four models, arranged in a single
rank. Monster (Mon)
• Legions consisting of six models, arranged three models A Monster is a unit consisting of a single model – a large and
wide in two ranks. powerful mythical beast or magical construct.
Each Chariot model has a 50x100mm rectangular base (a
‘chariot base’). Monster models normally have 50mm square bases. Some
Monsters may be labeled as Mon (Cht), in which case they
have a 50x100mm chariot base. Other rare exceptions may be
noted in the unit profile.

10
Titan (Ttn)
Units
A Titan is a unit consisting of a single model – a being of
both gargantuan size and strength.

Each Titan model has a 75mm square base.

Hero (Hero/[type])
A Hero is a unit consisting of a single model. It can be an
officer, a sorcerer or even a mighty lord of its race. Heroes
vary in size between different races, and can ride many types
of mount or even monstrous war-beasts, so Heroes always
have a tag in brackets specifying what type of unit they belong
to. This helps when determining their Height and other
special rules that are relevant to that type.

So a Hero could be a (Hero/Inf) or (Hero/Hvy Inf), a (Hero/


Cav), a (Hero/Mon) or (Hero/Ttn), a (Hero/Lrg Inf), a (Hero/
Lrg Cav), or, indeed, any other type of unit.

Sometimes Heroes have options that allow them to choose


different mounts. If a mount is chosen, the Hero’s unit
type will of course change to that of the relevant mount, as
specified in the Hero’s entry.

Heroes fit on the relevant base of their type unless specified


otherwise. For example, a Hero (Inf) will be on a 20mm
square base, a Hero (Cav) will be on a 25x50mm base, etc.

Exceptional Base Sizes


You may need a wider or deeper base for exceptionally large
Heroes, Monsters, Titans or War Engines – in such rare cases,
use the smallest base that you can fit your model on.

Friendly Units
If a rule refers to Friendly units, this means all the
units in your army.

Enemy Units
Conversely, your opponent’s units and army are
considered the Enemy units in the rules.

11
Rules

UNIT FOOTPRINTS, MOVEMENT as ‘multi-bases’. Multi-bases are very useful, but make sure
that the multi-base itself conforms to the correct size for

TRAYS & MULTI-BASES


the ranked up models as if they were mounted onto their
individual bases. To continue the example above, you could
mount the 20 Elf infantry models directly onto a 100x80mm
If a unit consists of a large number of models, it is far more multi-base.
convenient when moving it around to place a ‘movement tray’
underneath it – that way you effectively have a single object This last way of mounting models directly onto the multi-
to move on the battlefield rather than a large number of base offers great modelling opportunities, as the multi-base
them (say 20 Elf infantry models). This speeds up gameplay can effectively be treated as a mini diorama in itself, creating
immensely. The ideal movement tray is a piece of plastic, great looking and very individual units and helping to tell
thick cardboard or plasticard that is cut to the exact space story or give a theme to the army.
occupied by the bases of the models forming the unit, and
painted to match the colour of their bases. For example, a You might even end up with a little more or less than the
regiment of 20 Elf infantry models occupies a rectangular correct number of models on the multi-base – this is fine,
tray 100mm wide and 80mm deep. If the tray has a little but it must be reasonably close to the correct amount, so that
‘lip’ around the unit (normally up to a couple of millimetres there is no chance of misleading your opponents in regard to
wide), this does not matter and players should ignore the lip the real size of the unit. Below you will find a chart listing
when measuring distances. the base sizes for all the units as well as the ‘preferred model
count’ (PMC), which is the amount of models you should aim
It is even faster, not to mention more practical, to actually to use for your multi-based units to maintain the spectacle of
glue the models’ bases directly onto the tray. That way you a big battle. Sometimes, the practicalities of model size and
have an army that effectively consists of a very small number position will make this more difficult, or not possible, but in
of individual ‘elements’ – very compact and easy to store and essence, you should plan to have 75% or more of the models
transport. Some people even go to the next level, and glue being represented on the base.
their models directly onto the tray, without first placing
them on their individual bases. We refer to these solutions

Model Troop Regiment Horde Legion


Unit Type
Base Size Footprint PMC Footprint PMC Footprint PMC Footprint PMC
Infantry 20x20mm 100x40mm 8+ 100x80mm 15+ 200x80mm 30+ 200x120mm 45+

Heavy Infantry 25x25mm 125x50mm 8+ 125x100mm 15+ 250x100mm 30+ 250x150mm 45+

Cavalry 25x50mm 125x50mm 4+ 125x100mm 8+ 250x100mm 15+ N/A N/A


Large Infantry
40x40mm N/A N/A 120x40mm 2+ 120x80mm 5+ 240x80mm 9+
and Swarms
Large Cavalry
and Monstrous 50x50mm N/A N/A 150x50mm 2+ 150x100mm 5+ 300x100mm 9+
Infantry
Chariots 50x100mm 100x100mm 2 150x100mm 3 200x100mm 4 150x200mm 5+

12
Units
Unit basing examples

Multi-Basing Scenic basing


Duncan has used simple grass and snow on this Ice Rob’s Ironwatch Troop has Full Model Count on this
Elemental multi-base. The unit has Preferred Model rocky multi-base.
Count for a Large Infantry Horde.

Movement Trays
These Goblin Fleabag Sniffs and Nightstalker
Shadowhounds are all on individual bases with
movement trays.

13
Rules

Unit Characteristics Keywords


Facings & Arcs Units will have one or more keywords listed in bold
alongside their special rules. For example: Paladin.
Normally in Kings of War, units have four facings: front, rear,
If a special rule includes a keyword, then it will affect
left flank and right flank. Each of these facings has an ‘arc’, an
any unit which also has that keyword. For example:
area determined by drawing imaginary lines at 45 degree angles
Inspiring (Paladin only) affects any unit with the
from each corner of the unit, as shown in Diagram A below.
Paladin keyword.

Unit Leader Point


The unit Leader Point is the exact centre of the front edge of Stats
a unit’s base. The reason why we call it the ‘Leader Point’ is Each unit in Kings of War has a name and a series of
that some players like to place a suitably imposing model in statistics (for short, we call them ‘stats’), which define how
the centre of the first rank to ‘lead’ the unit. powerful it is in the game. These are:

Whenever the rules say to take something ‘from the unit’s • Type. Whether the unit is Infantry, Cavalry, etc.
Leader Point’, such as a measurement or Line of Sight, it is
• Unit Size. How many models the unit comprises.
taken from this point in the exact centre of the unit’s front
edge. It’s a good idea to mark the unit’s Leader Point on the • Speed (Sp). How fast the unit moves, in inches.
unit in some way as it may be difficult to easily locate the • Melee (Me). The score needed by the unit to hit in melee.
Leader Point on a movement tray or multi-base at a glance
during gameplay. • Ranged (Ra). The score needed by the unit to hit with
ranged attacks. If it has no normal ranged attacks, this is
a ‘–’.
• Defence (De). The score the enemy requires to damage the
unit.
• Height (Ht). The unit’s Height value. This value is used
primarily when determining Line of Sight.
• Unit Strength (US). Unit Strength represents the
presence a unit exerts on its surroundings and its ability
to control the battlefield. It’s frequently used when scoring
scenarios to determine the winner of a game.
• Attacks (Att). The number of dice the unit rolls when
attacking, both at range and in melee.
• Nerve (Ne). A combination of the unit’s size and its
training and discipline. This stat shows how resistant it is
to damage suffered – both physical damage to its warriors,
but also to its morale.
• Points (Pts). How valuable the unit is. Used for picking
Diagram A: Front, Rear, Side Arcs and Leader Point a force and sometimes for working out victory points in
scenarios to determine the winner of a game.
• Special. Any special equipment (like ranged weapons) and
rules the unit has.
These stats make up what is known as a unit ‘profile’ – a handy
visual summary of the information for each unit. The army
lists later in the book have all the unit profiles for the various
troops, monsters, heroes and sorcerers at your disposal.

14
Units
Unit Interactions
Front Arc
During the game, you will often need to determine whether
one of your units can interact with another unit, normally
one you intend to charge or shoot. Unless specified otherwise,
a unit can only interact with other units that are at least
partially within its front arc.

Line of Sight (LoS)


Certain actions, such as charging or shooting at an enemy
unit, will require you to determine if your unit can see
another unit. This requires drawing an imaginary straight
line, called the Line of Sight (LoS), from your unit’s Leader
Point to any point on the target’s base.

• If this imaginary line passes over no other unit’s base or


terrain features, then LoS is not blocked.
• If either your unit or the target unit has a greater Height
stat than any other units or terrain in the way, then LoS is Diagram B1: Drawing Line of Sight
not blocked. Unit A is trying to draw LoS to Unit C (See Diagram B1). The red lines
• If any units or terrain in the way are the same Height or represent the LoS trying to be drawn. If either Unit A or Unit C are taller
greater than both your unit and the target unit, then LoS than Unit B, then LoS is NOT blocked. If Unit B is the same height or
is blocked. taller than both Unit A and Unit C, then LoS is blocked.
A unit’s LoS can never pass through the unit itself.

Note that the LoS does not have to be the shortest line
between your unit Leader Point and the target unit’s base;
any line from your unit Leader Point to any part of the target
unit’s base will do fine.

If you’re unsure whether your unit can see a target unit or


not, roll a die. On a 4+ it can see it, on 3 or less it cannot.

Terrain and LoS are discussed in more detail on page 24.

Measuring Distances
You can measure any distance at any time you like. Unless
otherwise specified, the distance between two units is the
distance between the two nearest points of the units’ bases.

Keep Your Distance


In order to avoid confusion, keep your units at least 1” away
from enemy units at all times, except when charging, engaged
or regrouping as explained later. To remove any confusion,
ensure that your units are not in base contact with other
friendly units at all times. Diagram B2: Drawing Line of Sight
In this example (see Diagram B2), Unit B is considered to be as tall as
Unit A and C and therefore blocks LoS. Unit A can still see Unit C by
looking around the edge of Unit B.

15
Rules

The Turn
Kings of War is played in Rounds, with each player taking A player goes through the following three phases in their Turn:
a Turn during each Round. Both players roll a die each to
decide who has the first Turn – the player winning the die 1. Movement Phase
roll decides who goes first. That player goes through the three
phases listed below, concluding their Turn. The opposing 2. Ranged Phase
player then takes their Turn. When both players have
3. Melee Phase
finished their Turns, Round 1 is complete. Players continue
alternating Turns and completing Rounds this way until an We’ll examine each of these phases in detail on the following
agreed time limit or Round limit is reached. This is usually pages. Once a player has moved and attacked with all their
determined by the scenario being played (see page 57). units and completed their three phases, it is then their
opponent’s Turn.

16
The Turn
the Movement Phase
During the Movement Phase of your Turn, pick each of
your units, one at a time, and give them one of the following
Movement orders. Complete each order and any movement
with a unit before proceeding with the next one.

Halt
The unit does not move at all. If a unit is not moved during the
Movement Phase, it has received a Halt order by default.

Change Facing
The unit remains stationary and can pivot around its centre to Diagram C: Changing Facing
face any direction. See Diagram C.

Advance
The unit can advance straight forward up to its Speed stat,
in inches. For example, a unit with a Speed of 6 can move
forward up to 6 inches. At any point during this move (i.e.
before or after advancing, or anywhere along its advance), the
unit can also make a single pivot around its centre of up to 90
degrees from its original facing. See Diagram D.

Back
The unit can move straight backward at up to half of its
Speed stat value, in inches. See Diagram E.

Sidestep Diagram D: Advance


The unit can move sideways straight to its left or straight to This regiment has a Speed Stat of 5” and it is ordered to Advance. First
its right at up to half of its Speed, in inches. See Diagram E. it is moved 4” straight forward, then it is pivoted around its centre, and
finally it completes its advance by moving a further 1” straight forward.
At the Double
The unit can advance straight forward up to double its Speed,
in inches. See Diagram E.

Charge
This is by far the most exciting of orders. Your units are
about to engage the enemy in hand-to-hand (or tooth-to-claw)
combat. It is also the most complicated and so it is described
in detail on page 19.

Diagram E: Move

17
Rules

UNIT INTERPENETRATION Disengaging


During a game, units may begin their Turn Engaged with
Enemy units (see page 28). When such units are given a
Interpenetration When Moving Movement order that takes them out of base contact with
The following rules regulate interpenetration when a unit Enemy units, they are said to be Disengaging. Disengaging
moves directly forward, backward or sideways. units may move within 1” of any Enemy unit they were
Engaged with at the beginning of the Turn. They still must
Friendly Units end their move at least 1” away from any Enemy units unless
Friendly units can be moved through (except when charging, charging.
see below), but you cannot end a unit’s move on top of If a unit begins its Turn Engaged with one or more Enemy
another unit, so you’ll have to be sure that your units have units on a single facing only, it may make a free Withdraw
enough movement to end up clear of their friends. move directly away from the unit(s) up to 1” before carrying
Also, at the end of their move, your units must not be in base out its normal Movement order. All applicable measurements,
contact with other Friendly units. This ensures that both you LoS checks and front arc checks are then taken from the new
and your opponent can clearly tell them apart. position.

Unless noted above, all the normal rules for movement apply
Enemy Units to Disengaging units.
Enemy units, on the other hand, block movement. Your
If a unit is given a Halt order but does not Disengage, the
units must remain at least 1” away from them, except when
unit and all units Engaged with it remain Engaged.
charging, disengaging or during a pivot.
If your unit is not Engaged but begins its Turn within 1” of
Interpenetration When Pivoting an Enemy unit. it may still move freely as long as it ends its
In reality, regimented units are more flexible in rearranging Turn farther away from the Enemy unit than where it began.
their ranks and files than our miniatures, so when a unit is
pivoting around its centre, it can pivot through both friends
and enemy units, and all types of terrain, including Blocking
Terrain and the edge of the table. It must of course still end
its pivot (and also its entire move) clear of Blocking Terrain
(and completely on the table), not in base contact with
Friendly units, and at least 1” away from Enemy units.

18
The Turn
CHARGE
A Charge is typically the only way your units can move into
contact with the enemy. A unit can Charge a single enemy unit
(‘the target’) as long as the following conditions are all met:

• The target is at least partially in your unit’s front arc;


• The unit can draw LoS to the target from its Leader Point
as described on page 15;
• The distance between any point on your unit’s front facing
and the closest point on the target unit’s base is less than
or equal to double your unit’s Speed stat (this is sometimes
called the Charge Range);
• There is enough space for your unit to be physically placed
into contact with the target by moving as described below.

Moving Chargers
A Charge move is carried out in three steps:
Diagram F1
1. Move Unit A wishes to Charge unit B
First, the charging unit moves forward using the shortest,
most direct route possible to make contact with the facing
of the enemy unit being charged. This is done without
measuring how much distance they actually cover, going
around any Blocking Terrain and any unit in their way (both
Friendly and Enemy units). See Diagram F.

In order to do this they may, if necessary, pivot once around


their centre up to 90º at any point during their move. This
pivot may only be carried out if required to do so in order to
complete the most direct route. In other words, if the Charge
can be completed without the pivot, then the charging unit
should not pivot.

Note that the charging unit must go through any area of


Difficult Terrain or over any Obstacle that would normally
slow down their movement. The pivot may not be used to
avoid them. These elements of terrain do not slow down
Charge moves, but they cause the Charge to be Hindered (see
page 28).

Diagram F2

19
Rules

Diagram F3 Diagram F4
Unit A aligns with unit B at the point of contact Unit A shuffles to the centre of unit B

2. Align 3. Shuffle to Centre


Second, once the charging unit has made contact with the Finally, shuffle the charger sideways until their unit Leader
target, pick it up and align its front edge flush with the facing Point is facing directly opposite the centre of the target unit,
of the target in the arc being charged (see Flank and Rear or as close as possible to it. See Diagram F4. During this
Charges below). The charging unit must still be touching the shuffle the charging unit may not pass through other units
initial point of contact with the target and clear of all other or Blocking Terrain. In some cases this shuffle may take the
units. See Diagram F3. charging unit into Difficult Terrain or onto an Obstacle. In
such cases, the Charge is considered Hindered, as described
The charging unit must be able to align at the initial point on page 28.
of contact in order to carry out a legal charge and must
physically have enough space to fit when aligned. A charging Once the charging unit has shuffled to its final position, the
unit cannot make contact with an enemy unit at a point of charging unit(s) and the target are Engaged.
contact and then ‘skip’ over units or terrain to align with a
different part of the unit. See Diagram G.

Diagram G: Illegal Charges


Regiment A wants to Charge Regiment B and can contact the corner of ‘Skipping’ to the other side of the Troop is not allowed so this
Regiment B, but it cannot align due to the Troop charge would not be legal

20
Flank and Rear Charges Corner-to-Corner Charges
The Turn
If the Leader Point of the charging unit is in the target’s front In some rare cases, the only possible way for charging units
arc when the order to Charge is given, the unit must charge to make physical contact with a target would be by literally
the target’s front facing. having one corner of its frontage in contact with one corner of
the target.
If the Leader Point of the charging unit is in the target’s right
or left flank arc when the order to Charge is given, the unit These extreme cases are called ‘corner-to-corner’ contact. One
must charge the target’s corresponding flank facing. example of this is shown in Diagram I.

If the Leader Point of the charging unit is in the target’s rear We deem that this is not enough to warrant a sensible charge
arc when the order to Charge is given, the unit must charge and combat, so we disallow these charges.
the target’s rear facing. See Diagram H.

Diagram H: Flank and Rear Charges

Proximity to Enemies
Remember that when charging, units don’t have to stay
1” away from Enemies, and this means that sometimes a
Diagram I: Corner Charges
charging unit may end up in contact with both its target
and one or more Enemy units it has not charged (e.g. when
charging a unit that is part of a tight enemy battle line). In
this case, if possible, nudge the enemy unit that is not being
charged back just enough that it’s clear it is not Engaged with
the charging unit.

This nudge is for the sake of keeping engagements clear and


is not enough by itself to expose an otherwise unexposed
flank. In other words, players cannot use this nudge to create
a Charge that was not possible without the nudge.

21
Rules

Multiple Charges Against the All units must be able to fit the facing they are charging after
all charging units have moved. If there isn’t enough space
Same Target for all of the units to fit against the facing of the target they
At times you will want two or more of your units to Charge are charging, some of the units will not Charge and must be
the same Enemy unit. This is allowed as long as each unit given a different order.
can fit against the correct facing of the target unit once all
Note that units do not shuffle to make room for units that are
of the charges are completed, but the process for moving the
charging different facings.
units is a bit different.
You will notice how it is impossible for three units of exactly
First, all units charging a single target must be given a
the same frontage (e.g. 100mm) to charge the facing of an
simultaneous order to Charge the target unit. This means that
enemy that has the same width (100mm). This is because
each of the units charging must meet the requirements for a
corner-to-corner charges are not allowed – so only two such
Charge order (see page 19) before any of the charging units
units can charge the same facing; the third will have to be
move. It also means that new units cannot be issued a Charge
given a different order.
order against the same target later in the Movement phase.
Also note that, in multiple charges, units charging the same
Each unit is then moved one at a time in an order decided
target facing cannot cross each other’s way in, i.e. they cannot
by the charging player. A charging unit moves and aligns in
swap places and must remain in the same relative positions to
the same way as a single Charge described above. Rather than
the target facing when they started their Charge. The Leader
shuffling to the centre, however, multiple units charging the
Point of each charging unit must stay in the same relative
same facing shuffle to their final positions as explained below,
position to the Leader Points of all other units charging the
before moving the next unit so that all units on a facing share
same facing. In other words, the leftmost Leader Point before
the space available as equally as possible. In the case of two
the Charge must still be the leftmost Leader Point after the
units, each unit should, as much as possible, have roughly the
Charge, etc. If it is particularly close and hard to determine,
same fraction of contact (e.g. if two units with 100mm fronts
use a straight line perpendicular from the target, moving it
Charge a facing that is 100mm wide, each unit would have
left and right, and see which unit’s Leader Point the line
50mm of their facing touching the target unit). In the case of
touches first. In the event that multiple Leader Points are
more than two units, the central unit will of course be fully
lined up exactly with each other, then the charging player
in contact. Divide the remaining frontage evenly among the
may choose the final position. See Diagram K.
overhanging units. There is no need to micromanage this to
the last millimetre; placing the units in roughly the correct
position by eye is sufficient. See Diagram J.

Diagram J: Shuffling Multiple Charges

Each unit has roughly 1/3 Each unit has roughly 5/6 Of the 100mm of frontage, the Individual takes up
of its frontage in contact of its frontage in contact 20mm, which leaves 80mm for the other units to share
equally. This means roughly 1/4 of the regiment and
horde are in contact

22
The Turn
If the attacking unit Counter Charges an enemy Engaged on
its side or rear facing, simply pick up the Counter Charging
unit, turn it to face the target and align it flush with the
target’s front face. Shuffle it to the final position as normal.
As noted above, the unit is now Disengaged from all other
units it was previously Engaged with. Nudge them out of
Using leasderpoints contact as above.

to determine final Counter Charging to the flank or rear can sometimes prove
slightly tricky in narrow confines. It is perfectly fine to slide
positions on a multiple the unit sideways to fit against the front of the enemy, as
long as the final position does not overlap any other unit. If
charge the unit cannot fit against the target, then it cannot Counter
Charge that unit.

All rules that apply in a Charge also apply in a Counter


Charge, unless otherwise specified.

Note: Remember that if a unit wishes to Counter Charge an


Enemy unit it is Engaged with, it must declare the Counter
Charge in the Movement phase. Don’t forget to declare it!
Diagram K: Using Leader Points to Determine Final
Positions after a Multiple Charge
Unit B’s Leader Point is farther left than unit C’s so
unit B will align to the left

Counter Charge
If a unit begins its turn Engaged with one or more Enemy
units, it may elect to perform a Counter Charge instead of a
regular Charge.

If a unit decides to Counter Charge, then it may only do so


against an Enemy unit with which it is already Engaged. It
does not need LoS and the Enemy unit does not need to be in
the front arc, so it may Counter Charge against units Engaged
on its flank or rear facings.

If the unit Counter Charges an enemy unit that is Engaged


on its front facing, simply shuffle the attacking unit to its
final position as normal. It is now considered Disengaged
from all other units, so, if possible, any units it may still be
touching should be nudged out of contact to show that they
are no longer Engaged.

23
Rules

Terrain Difficult Terrain


This type of terrain consists of things like woods, crop fields,
Terrain plays a vital role in Kings of War, providing cover areas of rocky terrain or scree, ponds and so on. They are
from gunlines, breaking up charging paths for cavalry and normally made by gluing a number of pieces of terrain onto
providing strategic advantages and disadvantages for both a large base. This conveniently shows the area of the terrain
players. Because terrain can have an effect on unit activity in – the entire area of this base counts as Difficult Terrain. It
all phases of the game, as well as LoS (and thus shooting), we impacts the game in the following ways:
will discuss it in more depth here before moving on to the
Ranged and Melee phases. • While moving At the Double, units treat Difficult Terrain
as Blocking Terrain instead.
On a standard 6’x4’ table it is recommended that players use
• If a unit’s Leader Point is in a piece of Difficult Terrain,
between eight and twelve pieces of terrain, making sure to
then that unit ignores that piece of Difficult Terrain when
use a few pieces of terrain from each of the five types listed
checking LoS. Otherwise Difficult Terrain impacts LoS as
below. Before the game, it’s always a good idea to agree with
described below.
your opponent how you are going to treat each of the pieces of
terrain on the table. • If a charging unit’s move has gone through or ended over
any portion of Difficult Terrain, then it is Hindered as

Terrain Types described on page 28.

There are five types of terrain that impact gameplay in Kings Obstacles
of War: Obstacles are long and narrow pieces of terrain, like a
low wall, a fence, a hedge, etc. – something that a roughly
Open Terrain man-sized creature could see over and clamber across easily.
Obstacles should be no more than 1” high – any higher and
Open Terrain simply describes the normal battlefield and it
they will be Blocking Terrain instead. They impact the game
is assumed that units and warriors can move, see and fight in
in the following ways:
areas of Open Terrain easily, following the normal rules. You
don’t need to specify Open Terrain – we assume it covers all • Units can move over Obstacles normally (even ending their
the areas of your table where you have not placed any of the move on top of them), but they cannot cross them while
other terrain types listed below. moving At the Double.
• If a charging unit’s move has gone through or ended
Blocking Terrain over any portion of an Obstacle, then it is Hindered as
Blocking Terrain is any solid piece of terrain such as high described on page 28.
walls, buildings or large rock formations. The edge of the
• Obstacles are Height 2 for determining cover but never
table is also normally treated as Blocking Terrain. When
block LoS.
setting up the table, it is recommended that players leave at
least 12” between any two pieces of Blocking Terrain to ensure
that all units in the game can fit between them. It impacts Hills
the game in the following ways: Hills are elevated terrain pieces on which units can stand.
Because of the tactical advantages granted by Hills, it is
• Units cannot move across Blocking Terrain and must go recommended that players avoid placing them in the Set-up
around it. Areas. Hills impact the game in the following ways:
• Units can pivot through Blocking Terrain in the same way • In order to be on a hill for game purposes, a unit must
as other units (see Interpenetration When Pivoting on page have at least half of its unit’s base on it. When a player
18). intends for their unit to be on a hill, they should make
• Blocking Terrain impacts LoS as described below. this clear to their opponent.
• Hills have no impact on movement.
• If a unit’s Leader Point is on a hill, then that unit ignores
that hill when checking LoS. Otherwise, hills impact LoS
as described below.

24
• While on a hill, a unit adds that hill’s Height to its own. Drawing Line of Sight
The Turn
For example, a Height 2 unit on a Height 2 hill would be
Height 4, while a Height 3 unit would be Height 5 while Terrain blocks LoS to any units behind it in the same way as
it stood on the hill. a unit. For example, a Height 3 or higher building will block
LoS between two Height 3 units. Some pieces of terrain, such
• If a unit that begins its turn on a hill makes a Charge that as rivers and ponds, will be completely flat and never block
is not Hindered against a unit that is not on a hill, the LoS. As always, these should be agreed with your opponent
charging unit gains the Thunderous Charge (+1) special rule. before the game.
Units with the Fly special rule, including those who have
temporarily lost the special rule due to being Disordered, Terrain does not block LoS drawn to units that are at least
do not gain this bonus. partially inside the piece of terrain. If any part of a unit is in
a forest, for instance, then other units outside of the forest

TERRAIN & LINE OF SIGHT may draw LoS to the unit in the forest.

Note that it is important to have some pieces of terrain that


Terrain Height block LoS toward the centre of the board in order to break up
Heights of all terrain features should be agreed upon before LoS and provide cover from units with ranged attacks. Hills,
the game. As a rough guideline, a piece of terrain is Height forests and Blocking Terrain are great for this purpose.
1 plus one level of Height for each inch of actual physical
height, so a 2” high wall would be Height 3 for example. Terrain and Cover
For rules on how terrain impacts the Ranged phase, see the
Cover section on page 27.

Hill

Blocking Terrain

Difficult Terrain

Obstacles

25
Rules

The Ranged Phase


Once you have finished moving all of your units, it’s time to
Ranged Weapon
make ranged attacks with those that can do so. Only units
with a ranged weapon, such as a bow, or other ranged attack, Units that possess a ranged weapon will display it in the
such as a spell, can be chosen to make attacks in the Ranged special rules section of their unit profile.
phase. They are said to be firing, shooting or casting ranged
A ranged weapon’s own profile is composed of several
attacks as appropriate.
different elements. At the very least it will display its name
Pick one of your units at a time, choose a target for them and and range but may also indicate a different number of dice
let loose. As noted previously, any unit that did not receive an to roll for its attacks to be used instead of the unit’s own Att
order in the Movement phase is considered to have had the stat. Special rules that affect the weapon are also included and
default Halt order given to it. If a unit has two or more types only apply to that weapon when it is used.
of ranged attacks (including spells), it can only use one per
For example: (Bows – 24”), (Heavy Crossbows – 36”,
Turn.
Piercing (2), Reload) or (Flame Belcher – 12”, Att: 10,
To resolve a unit shooting (or casting) with a ranged attack, a Piercing (1), Steady Aim)
player will:
If a ranged weapon profile does not explicitly list a number of
1. Pick a target and make sure it’s in range and Attacks for that weapon, or list an Ra stat value to be used for
there is LoS to it. that weapon, the Att value and/or Ra value in the unit profile
itself should be used.
2. Roll to hit.
3. Roll to damage. PICKING A TARGET
At the end of the Ranged phase, you will test the Nerve of A unit can pick a single Enemy unit as a target for its ranged
any enemy units that were damaged. We will cover Nerve in a attacks as long as all the following conditions are met:
following section. • The target is at least partially in the unit’s front arc.
• The unit has LoS to the target.
Moving and Shooting
Units that have received an At the Double order in their • The distance between the unit’s Leader Point and its target
previous Movement phase may not make ranged attacks. is equal to or less than the weapon’s or spell’s range.

Melee and Shooting SHOOTING & HITTING THE TARGET


Units that are Engaged with enemies cannot use, or be Once a valid target has been selected, roll a number of dice
targeted by, ranged attacks, unless specified otherwise. equal to the firing unit’s (or weapon’s) Att stat. Your unit’s
dice rolls, with any modifiers that apply, must score a number
Engaged Units and Shooting equal to or higher than its Ra stat value in order to hit its
Units that begin their turn Engaged in combat must first target. Discard any dice that score less than that.
Disengage during their Movement phase if they wish to
Example: A unit has Att 10 and so shoots with 10 dice. Its Ra value is
shoot during their Ranged phase. If a unit is issued a Halt
5+. The dice are rolled. Any that score 4 or less are discarded – they have
order immediately after Disengaging (including Disengaging
missed. Any that score 5 or 6 are successful hits.
that involves a Withdraw move), any normal penalties for
movement, including those for Pot Shot or Reload, do not apply.
With any other Movement order, any normal movement
penalties apply.

Units that are only Engaged with enemy units that are Yielding
do not have to disengage in order to shoot. See page 34 for
more on Yielding.

26
The Turn
Modifiers
A number of factors can affect the chance of hitting a target:
TESTING NERVE
At the end of the Ranged phase, test the Nerve of any
• -1 Moving. This applies if the firing unit received any unit you inflicted damage on during that phase. This test
order other than Halt in the previous Movement phase. is described on page 30 and will determine whether the
This modifier does not apply to Pistols, Javelins or Thrown damaged units are Steady, Wavered or Routed.
Weapons.
• -1 Cover. This applies if the target is in cover (see below).
For each of these conditions that apply, deduct one from the
COVER
score rolled on each of the dice. In cases when the target unit is partially visible behind
another unit or terrain piece, the firing unit might suffer
For example, if your unit normally needs a 4 or more to hit, from the the -1 Cover modifier on its rolls to hit. To decide
but it has moved, you will need 5 or more to hit instead, whether the target unit is in cover, draw LoS from the Leader
because all results will be one less than actually rolled – a 5 Point of the firing unit to the facing and arc of the target unit
will become a 4 and thus meet the required Ra value, but a 4 that the firing unit is in (front, rear or either flank).
will become a 3 and therefore miss. If the target was in cover
as well, you would need 6s. The target unit will be in cover if:

Any dice that naturally roll a 1 always miss, regardless of • At least half of its base is within Difficult Terrain, or…
modifiers. However, if modifiers to the roll mean that the • LoS to at least half of the target unit’s facing that is being
unit would need more than a 6 to hit, it may only roll a targeted passes over intervening units or terrain (including
number of dice equal to half its Attacks (rounding down) and Difficult Terrain the target unit is in contact with).
will only score hits on a 6.
A firing unit that received a Halt order in its Movement
Additionally, the target unit or firing unit may have special phase ignores any piece of Difficult Terrain that it is currently
rules which also modify To Hit rolls when shooting and will within, or in base contact with, for determining whether an
be explained in the unit’s special rules. enemy unit is in cover, unless the enemy unit is also touching
or within the same piece of Difficult Terrain.

DAMAGING THE TARGET If a unit’s Leader Point is on a hill, but the unit itself is
not on the hill (with more than half its base), LoS is not
After discarding any dice that missed, pick up the remaining blocked, but the hill itself is taken into consideration when
dice that scored hits and roll them again to try and damage determining cover to and from the unit.
the enemy unit. The number your unit needs to damage the
target is equal to or greater than the target’s Defence value.
This roll can sometimes be modified by special rules, etc.
Big Targets
Intervening units/terrain that are three Height levels smaller
Example: A unit has scored 6 hits on an enemy unit which has a De of 4+. than either the firing unit or the target offer no cover. For
The attacking player rolls the dice again. Any that score 3 or less have failed example, Height 1 units/terrain do not offer cover to or from
to cause any damage. Any that score 4 or more cause 1 damage each. Height 4 units.
Any die that rolls a 1 always fails to damage, regardless of
modifiers. If a modifier brings the score required to damage a Not Sure?
target above 6, that target cannot be damaged. In the rare, marginal cases when you’re not sure whether
your target is in cover or not, simply roll a die. On a 4+ it is
not, on 3 or less it is.
Recording Damage
For each hit that scores damage, place a damage marker next
to the unit. This represents physical damage and casualties
as well as a decline in the unit’s morale, cohesion and will to
fight on. As the unit accumulates damage markers, it might
be more convenient to record this by placing a die (possibly
an unusual one, of a different size or colour, to avoid rolling
it by mistake) next to the unit, or by using some other
suitable tokens to track the damage.

27
Rules

The Melee Phase


Once you have finished any Ranged attacks with your units A unit that is Counter Charging is never Hindered, whether
and made any Nerve tests for the enemy, it’s time for your by terrain, special rules or any other reason.
warriors to strike against the enemies that they Charged,
or Counter Charged, in your Movement phase. We imagine Any die that naturally rolls a 1 is always a miss, regardless
that in your Turn the impetus of the Charge means that your of modifiers. However, if modifiers to the roll mean that
warriors will be doing most of the hacking and slashing, the unit would need more than a 6 to hit, it may only roll a
while the enemy mostly defend themselves. number of dice equal to half its Attacks (rounding down) and
will only score hits on a 6.
At this stage, there may be a number of Engaged units
all involved in hand-to-hand Melee combat. The player Additionally, the target unit or attacking unit may have special
whose Turn it is picks one of these combats and resolves it rules that also modify the roll to hit when making Melee
completely before moving to the next, and so on until all attacks; these will be explained in the units’ special rules.
combats have been resolved.

To resolve each Melee combat a player will:

1. Roll to hit.
2. Roll to damage.
3. Test the enemy unit’s Nerve.
If more than one unit is attacking the same target, resolve
steps 1 and 2 for each unit in the order chosen by the
attacking player before moving on to step 3. Regardless of the
number of attacking units, the target’s nerve is only tested
once in a given combat.

STRIKING
To attack the unit you charged, roll a number of dice equal to
the charging unit’s Att stat.

DAMAGING THE TARGET


If your unit is attacking an enemy to its flank, it doubles
its Attacks. If your unit is attacking an enemy to its rear, it
triples its Attacks.
This process is exactly the same as described for Ranged

HITTING THE TARGET


attacks on page 27.

This process is exactly the same as described for ranged attacks, Recording Damage
except that it uses the unit’s Me stat rather than Ra and the This process is exactly the same as described for Ranged
modifiers below rather than the ones for Ranged attacks. attacks on page 27.

Modifiers
A number of factors can affect the chance of hitting a target:
TESTING NERVE
At the end of each combat, if your attacking unit(s) have
• -1 Hindered. If a charging unit’s movement has gone managed to score at least one point of damage on the target,
through or ended over any portion of Difficult Terrain or an test the target’s Nerve. This test is described on page 30
Obstacle, then it is Hindered in the following Melee phase. and will determine whether the damaged units are Steady,
A unit can only be Hindered once in any given charge so Wavered or Routed. Note this is different to the Ranged
will only ever suffer a single -1 modifier for the condition. phase, where you test enemy Nerve at the end of that phase.

28
The Turn

Ogre Berserker Braves face off against a Goblin Rabble

AFTER COMBAT DISORDERED


Units that have suffered at least one point of damage in the
Target Routed – Chargers Regroup melee phase are Disordered – mark them with an appropriate
At the end of each combat, if your Charging or Counter counter.
Charging unit(s) managed to Rout the Enemy unit, it can do
one of the following: Units will remain Disordered until the end of their following
Turn, when the Disordered counter is removed.
• Stay where it is and pivot around its centre to face any
direction (as per a Change Facing order).
No Ranged Attacks
• Move directly forward D6”. The unit must move the full Disordered units cannot use any form of ranged attack
distance rolled. This move is not affected by Difficult (including spells). This is because they have been disrupted by
Terrain or Obstacles. the melee or are busy fighting back in close quarters.
• Move directly sideways either left or right D3” (as above).
• Move directly backward D3” (as above).
A unit cannot move through any other units while
regrouping, though it can pivot through them as long as it
ends clear. Once the Regroup move has been carried out,
nudge the unit out of base contact with any enemy units it
may be touching, so that it’s clear they are not Engaged.

Target Steady or Wavering –


Remain Engaged
If, on the other hand, your unit(s) failed to Rout the Enemy
unit, it remains Engaged. Engaged units remain in base
contact with one another and do not move.

29
Rules

Nerve
As a unit accumulates damage, it will become more and
Steady
more likely to lose cohesion, stamina or even willpower, until
eventually it will turn tail and run from the field, never to The unit continues to fight normally and does not suffer any
return. negative effects. Remember, however, that units capable of
ranged attacks that have been Disordered will not be able to

WHEN TO TEST use their ranged attacks in their next Turn.

At the end of both the Movement and Ranged phases of your Wavering
Turn, you test the Nerve of any enemy unit that suffered any The unit does not Rout, but it is severely shaken during
damage during that phase. If there are multiple units, you its next Turn. Place a suitable counter by the unit as a
may choose the order to make the tests. reminder. In its next Movement phase, it can only be given
one of the following orders: Halt, Change Facing or Back. In
In the Melee phase, however, a Nerve test is made for any addition, the unit is Disordered (so it will not be able to use
enemy unit that suffered damage in the phase at the end its ranged attacks in its next Ranged phase). The unit will
of each combat, before moving on to the next. In a combat remain Wavering until the end of its following turn, when the
where more than two units are attacking, resolve all of the Wavering counter is removed.
attacks and damage first from all the attacking units, and
then make the Nerve test.
Rout
Note that if one of your own units receives damage during The unit is no longer capable of participating in the battle
your own Turn, a Nerve test is not required. and any few remaining survivors (if any!) have routed.
Remove the unit from the table. It can take no further part in

HOW TO TEST this game and is considered destroyed.

Each unit has two numbers under its Ne stat. The first
number is the unit’s Wavering limit, the second number is its Devastated
Routing limit.
If the amount of damage on a unit exceeds its Routing
To test the Nerve of an Enemy unit, roll 2D6 and add any limit but the unit has not suffered a Rout result, the unit
damage currently on the unit to the score, plus any other is said to be Devastated. Devastated units halve their
modifiers that apply (such as those granted by some special Attacks, Unit Strength and spell (n) stat values, rounding
rules). The final total is then compared to the Ne stat values down. Mark the unit with an appropriate token.
of the Enemy unit.
For example, if a unit that normally had an Att stat of
• If the total is equal to or higher than the unit’s Routing 12 was Devastated, it would continue to play using an
limit, the unit suffers a Rout result (see below). Att stat of 6 instead.

• If the total is lower than the Routing limit, but equal


to or higher than the Wavering limit, the unit suffers a
Wavering result (see below).
• If the total is lower than the unit’s Wavering limit, then
the unit is said to be Steady, which means it is completely
unaffected and continues to fight on as normal.
For example, let’s assume you are testing the Nerve of an
Enemy unit that has a Nerve of 11/13 and has suffered three
points of damage so far during the game. If you roll a seven
(or less), your total will be ten or less and the enemy will be
Steady. If you roll an eight or nine, your total will be eleven
or twelve and the enemy will be Wavering. If you roll a ten or
more, the enemy Routs.

30
The Turn
Exceptional Morale Results
Double Six – We Are Doomed!
If you roll double six when testing Nerve and the enemy unit is not Routed, it will still suffer from a result of Wavering,
as insidious news of defeat starts to spread through the ranks.

Double One – Hold Your Ground!


If you roll snake eyes (double one) when testing Nerve, the enemy unit is filled with implacable resolve and will always
be Steady and fight on, regardless of any modifier. Note, if the Enemy unit has suffered enough damage, this may still
result in it being Devastated.

Fearless
Some units in the game have a value of “-” for their Wavering limit. For example, it could be -/14. These units are
normally composed of fanatical, frenzied warriors or mindless supernatural creatures – in any case, they cannot Waver,
and will therefore remain Steady until they eventually Rout. Of course a Rout result for such troops represents them
being utterly annihilated, or collapsing as their magical life force abandons them.

31
Wymriders herd a Terror into a trap
Rules

War Engines
Unless specified otherwise in a unit profile, the following
rules apply to all War Engine units.

Movement
War Engines cannot be ordered to move At the Double, nor
to Charge. While moving, War Engines treat Obstacles as
Blocking Terrain.

Melee
Units attacking a War Engine in Melee always triple their
Attacks, regardless of the facing they are attacking.

War Engines lucky enough to take damage but survive such


an onslaught will be Disordered as normal.

Front Arc
If a War Engine’s base is wider than 50mm, the front arc
for making ranged attacks is not taken from the corners.
Instead the 50mm wide base of the arc should be defined on
the unit’s front base edge, centered on the unit Leader Point,
such as by painting two vertical lines on the front or marking
it with appropriate scenic decoration. It still has a front arc as
normal, but when choosing a target for ranged attacks it may
only choose one within the front arc determined by the 50mm
marked on the base.

For example, the base in Diagram L has an 80mm width, but


the front arc only extends from a 50mm width on the front of
the base.

Diagram L: War Engine Bases

32
War Engines

A Basilean Heavy Arbalest team surveys the battlefield

An Abyssal Dwarf crew prepares their G’rog Light Mortar for war

33
Rules

Individuals
Units with the Individual special rule are normally made of a
Ranged Attacks
single model representing a roughly human-sized individual,
on foot or horseback. These can obviously behave in a Individuals may pivot to face any direction for free before
very different manner from regimented units or very large picking a target in the Ranged phase.
creatures. When the word Individual is used in the rules with
Enemies shooting against Individuals suffer an additional -1
a capital letter, it means a unit with the Individual special rule.
to hit modifier.
A unit with the Individual special rule uses the normal rules
with the following changes. A unit with the Individual special rule also has the Steady Aim
special rule, which can be found in the next section.
Line of Sight
Individuals never block LoS and also do not provide cover Melee
against ranged attacks. When charging an Individual, a unit must make contact
with the facing that they started in as normal. However, the
Movement Individual will align flush with the unit’s facing, rather than
Immediately before being issued a Movement order, the unit aligning to the Individual’s facing. The charging unit
Individuals may pivot to face any direction before carrying then shuffles to its final position as normal. If more than one
out the rest of their order. If it is a Charge order, this pivot is Enemy unit is charging the Individual, declare all Charges
allowed to end within 1” of enemy units. as normal and move the first charging unit into contact. The
Individual then aligns to that unit and the charging unit
An Individual that does not start the turn in Difficult Terrain moves to its final position. The remaining charging units
or on a Hill that would otherwise block LoS (such as a then make contact with the facing they would have charged
Height 4 forest for a Height 2 Hero (Inf), model) may not when they declared the Charge and align to the Individual –
pivot into the Difficult Terrain or Hill to see through it in assuming there is still room to fit.
order to declare a Charge.
Enemies never double/triple their Attacks in Melee combat
A unit with the Individual special rule also has the Nimble against an Individual. Similarly, the Individual does not
special rule, which can be found in the next section. double/triple its own attacks when attacking an enemy in the
flank/rear. Individuals do still triple their Attacks against War
An Individual may move into base contact with a Friendly Engines however.
unit to protect a facing. While in base contact like this, the
Individual may not be charged in any facing that is entirely
in contact with the Friendly unit. Overrun
If an Individual suffers a Rout result, and the attacking
unit(s) opts to advance D6” directly forward for its Regroup
Yielding move, it may make contact with another enemy unit if the
Units with the Individual special rule are Yielding. distance moved would allow it. This is treated as a successful
Charge. The charging unit is aligned and shuffled against
This means that Enemy and Friendly units that are not
the new enemy as normal and can immediately attack again,
Disordered may move, Charge and pivot through them as
even if the unit contacted has already been attacked in Melee
long as they end their entire movement, or the Move step of
this Turn. This may result in more than one Nerve test on
any Charge, clear of the Individual.
a single enemy unit in the Melee phase. If either the initial
In addition, units do not need to Disengage to carry out a Charge move or the regroup move took the charging unit over
ranged attack if they are only Engaged with Individuals that an Obstacle or through Difficult Terrain, then it is Hindered
are Yielding. during this additional combat.

Enemy Yielding units are not taken into account when Also note that if the new enemy is another Individual, which
determining if a unit can make a Withdraw move. However, is then Routed, the charging unit can again advance D6”
the Withdraw move still may not pass through them if the forward as above, and so on – it is possible to run over any
Disengaging unit is Disordered, and the Withdraw move still number of meddling Individuals in a single Charge!
must end clear of the Yielding unit

34
Special Rules
Special Rules
Some units possess what we call ‘special rules’. Each of these example, Vicious (Melee – vs. Monsters & Titans only) grants
special rules is an exception to the normal rules. Some are the Vicious special rule, but only in Melee, and only when
listed with the units themselves, but the most common are attacking Monsters and Titans.
presented together in this section for reference.
In some instances, upgrades or special abilities or spells may
Special rules typically grant bonuses or apply modifiers to grant a special rule with a (+n) value. If the unit does not
dice rolls during the game. If they only affect actions during already have that special rule, the unit would then have it
specific phases, this will be listed in brackets after the special with the given (n) value. If it does already have the special
rule’s name in the unit entry. For instance, Elite (Ranged) rule, the unit’s (n) value is increased by the (+n) value, up to
grants the Elite special rule, but only on ranged attacks. In the maximum allowed by the rules.
cases where there is no qualifier, the special rule works in all
applicable phases. For example: should an ability grant Lifeleech (+1), any unit that does not
have Lifeleech would now have Lifeleech (1), whereas a unit with Lifeleech
Similarly, some special rules may have qualifiers granting (1) already would now have Lifeleech (2).
the ability only when attacking certain types of units. For

SPECIAL RULES Blast (n)


If the unit’s attack hits the target, the target suffers a number
Aura (x) of hits equal to the number in brackets, rather than a single
hit. For example, if a unit suffers a hit from a Blast (D6+3)
(x) refers to another special rule that the Aura grants to units attack, it will suffer from four to nine hits rather than a
around it. This unit and all Friendly Core units while within single one. Once this is done, roll for damage as normal for
6” of it have the (x) special rule. Note an Aura may have a all of the hits caused.
further qualifier, in which case the Aura will only grant the
special rule to the unit with that name or keyword in addition
to the unit with the Aura itself.
Brutal (n)
When testing the Nerve of an enemy unit in Melee with one
Effects of Auras of the same type are not cumulative. So, for or more of your units with this rule, add the highest Brutal (n)
instance, a unit covered by two Aura (Thunderous Charge (+1)) do value to the total rolled.
not gain Thunderous Charge (+2).
If an enemy unit is subject to both the Brutal and Dread
Big Shield special rules, the attacking player must choose which to use.
Both cannot be applied against the same unit at the same
All attacks (Ranged and Melee) against the target unit’s front time.
facing treat its defence as 6+.

35
Rules

Cloak of Death Fly


In the Movement phase, after this unit has completed The unit can move over anything (Blocking Terrain, Enemy
its order, all Enemy units within 6” of this unit take an units, Friendly units when charging, etc.), and may pivot
immediate point of damage. while above anything, as long as the flying unit’s entire move
ends clear of any units or Blocking Terrain. The unit does not
Units can only be damaged by a single source of Cloak of Death suffer Hindered charges for moving over Difficult Terrain or
per Turn. No Nerve test is required for damage taken from a Obstacles, unless it ends the move within or touching them.
Cloak of Death.
While Disordered, this unit cannot use the Fly special rule.
Crushing Strength (n) In addition, if a unit with Fly also has the Nimble special
rule, then the Nimble special rule is also lost while the unit is
All hits caused by Melee attacks from this unit have a +(n) Disordered.
modifier when rolling to damage.

For example: when rolling to damage with a Melee attack that Frozen
has Crushing Strength (1), a roll of 4 would become a roll of 5. A unit with the Frozen special rule has -1 Sp until the end of
its next turn, at which point the special rule is removed from
Dread the unit. No unit may have its speed reduced by more than -1
in a given turn due to having the Frozen special rule (although
While within 6” of this unit, Enemy units have -1 to their
other modifiers may still apply). Frozen has no effect if the
Wavering and Rout Nerve values, in addition to any other
unit’s Sp is already 4 or below.
modifiers that may apply. A unit can only be affected by a
single source of Dread – multiple sources are not cumulative.
Fury
If an Enemy unit is subject to both the Brutal and Dread
While Wavering, this unit may still declare a Counter Charge.
special rules or the Shattering and Dread special rules, the
attacking player must choose to use either the Brutal/Shattering
or the Dread modifiers. Both cannot be applied against the Headstrong
same unit. If a unit with this rule begins its turn Wavering, roll a die
before declaring a Movement order (including Halt) for
Duelist this unit. On a 3+ it shrugs off the effects of Wavering and
is Disordered instead. Adjust any counters on the unit as
While attacking enemy Individuals in Melee, this unit doubles
required.
its number of Attacks.

Elite Ignore Cover


The unit fires in high arcs, hitting the target from the top,
Whenever the unit rolls to hit, it must re-roll all dice that
which means it does not suffer the -1 to hit modifier for
score a natural, unmodified 1.
enemy targets being in cover. Note that the firing unit does
still need to have LoS to its target to fire at it.
Ensnare
Melee attacks against the target unit’s front suffer an Indirect
additional -1 to hit.
The unit cannot make Ranged attacks on targets that are
within 12”.

36
Individual Phalanx
Special Rules
This rule is explained on page 34. Units that Charge this unit’s front cannot use the Thunderous
Charge special rule.
Inspiring In addition, Cavalry, Large Cavalry and units with the Fly
If this unit, or any Friendly Core unit within 6” of this unit, special rule that make an unhindered Charge against this
suffers a Rout result, the opponent must re-roll that Nerve unit’s front suffer a -1 to hit modifier in the subsequent
test. The second result stands. Melee.

Note that a unit may also have a qualifier for its Inspiring rule.
In this case the unit will only Inspire itself and the unit(s)
Piercing (n)
specified. All hits caused by Ranged attacks with this rule from this
unit have a +(n) modifier when rolling to damage.
Iron Resolve For example: when rolling to damage with a Ranged attack
If this unit is Steady as a result of a Nerve test, it regains one that has Piercing (1), a roll of 4 would become a roll of 5.
point of damage previously suffered.
Pot Shot
Lifeleech (n) If this unit is given any order other than Halt in the
When this unit completes its to-hit and to-damage rolls Movement phase, any Ranged attacks with this rule that it
in Melee combat, it regains one point of damage it has makes are resolved with a -2 Moving modifier rather than the
previously suffered for every point of damage it causes on the normal -1 Moving modifier.
enemy unit, up to a maximum of n. Lifeleech has a maximum
total of 3. Radiance of Life
In the Movement phase, after this unit has completed its
Mighty order, this unit and all Friendly Core units within 6” of this
Individuals with the Mighty special rule are no longer unit immediately remove one point of damage previously
Yielding. suffered.

Units can only be affected by a single source of Radiance of Life


Mindthirst per Turn.
If this unit is within 12” of an enemy unit with the Inspiring or
Very Inspiring special rule and it is Routed, the opponent must Rallying (n)
re-roll that Nerve test. The second result stands.
Friendly Core units within 6” of this unit have +n to their
Wavering and Rout Nerve values. This is cumulative to a
Nimble maximum total of +2 if multiple units with Rallying are in
The unit can make a single extra pivot of up to 90 degrees range.
around its centre while executing any Movement order,
For example, if a unit with a Ne stat of 13/15 is within 6” of a
including a Charge. It cannot make this extra pivot when
unit with Rallying (1), its Nerve stat is 14/16. If it moves out
ordered to Halt.
of the 6” range, its Nerve stat is 13/15 again.
When Disordered by a unit in Melee with either the Phalanx
Only the Rout value of a Fearless unit is affected by Rallying.
or Ensnare special rule, this unit loses the Nimble special rule
until the end of its following Turn.
Regeneration (n)
Pathfinder Every time this unit receives a Movement order (including
Halt), before doing anything else, roll a number of dice equal
The unit suffers no movement penalties for Difficult Terrain,
to the amount of damage currently on the unit. For every
simply treating it as Open Terrain in the Movement phase.
result of (n) or higher, the unit recovers one point of damage
Pathfinder units are not Hindered when making a Charge previously suffered.
through Difficult Terrain.

37
Rules

Reload Stealthy
The unit can only make ranged attacks if it received a Halt Enemy units making Ranged attacks against this unit suffer
order in its previous Movement phase. an additional -1 to hit modifier.

Scout Strider
The unit can make a single At the Double or Advance order This unit’s Charge is not Hindered when charging through,
after set-up is finished but before the first Turn of the first or ending its Charge on, Difficult Terrain or Obstacles.
Round begins. If moving At the Double as part of this order,
the unit treats Obstacles and Difficult Terrain as Open Thunderous Charge (n)
Terrain during the Scout movement. If both armies have units
with this rule, both players roll a single die each. The highest All Melee hits inflicted by this unit have a +(n) modifier
scorer decides who begins to move one of their Scout units when rolling to damage. This bonus is in addition to the
first, then the players alternate until all Scout units have been unit’s Crushing Strength (if any). However, the unit loses this
moved. Players then roll to determine who takes the first bonus when Disordered and reduces this bonus by one when
Turn in Round one as normal. Hindered (to a minimum of zero).

Shambling Very Inspiring


The unit cannot be given an At the Double Movement order, This is the same as the Inspiring special rule, except that it has
except when carrying out a Scout move. a range of 9”. Any rule that affects Inspiring also affects Very
Inspiring.
Shattering
Vicious
If a unit is damaged by the ranged attacks of one or more
units with this rule, add one to the subsequent Nerve test at Whenever the unit rolls to damage, it must reroll all dice that
the end of the Ranged phase. score a natural, unmodified 1.

If an enemy unit is subject to both the Shattering and Dread Wild Charge (n)
special rules, the attacking player must choose to use either
the Shattering or the Dread modifiers. Both cannot be applied Models with this special rule may add (n) to their charge
against the same unit. range. This is added after Sp is doubled. For instance, a unit
with a Sp stat of 4 and Wild Charge (2) can Charge units up to
10” away.
Steady Aim
The unit does not suffer from the -1 Moving modifier when In some instances, the (n) value may be a variable die
making Ranged attacks. roll (e.g. Wild Charge (D3)). In these cases, before issuing a
Movement order to this unit, roll a D3. If this unit is then
issued a Charge order, it may add the result in inches to its
total Charge range.

38
Army Selection
Picking a Force
You can play Kings of War with just a few units per side, First, agree with your opponent how many points you will
without worrying about the two armies being equally matched. each have to spend on your armies. For example, you may
This is great for learning the game, but after you’ve become agree that you both have 1500 or 2000 points to spend. Then,
familiar with the rules and have amassed a large collection of select your Core units (Friendly units from the same Army
models, you will want to play games where the forces facing List) from a single Army List of your choice. Thus if you want
one another across the battlefield are balanced, so that both to play with a Dwarf army, you would start selecting units
players have an equal chance of winning the game. only from the Dwarf Army List.

In order to achieve this, you and your opponent must pick 2000 points per side is considered a standard game.
an army before the game. Armies are selected from the Army
Lists (sometimes called Force Lists) presented later in this As you pick units and include them in your army, keep adding
book. Units within an army each have a Points Value assigned their cost, including any upgrade options you select for them,
to them, which represents their value on the battlefield. or extras like magical artefacts, until you have reached the total
Bigger units and those that can deal more damage will you agreed upon. You can of course spend less than the agreed
typically have a higher Points Value than smaller or weaker total, but you cannot spend even a single point more. However,
units. Players will select the units for their army by ‘spending’ an army is still considered to be the size of the maximum total
points up to an agreed limit. the players agreed on (e.g. an army that comes to 1995 points
would still be considered a 2000 point army).

39
Tearing through the walls of reality, a horde of Nightstalkers gathers to feast on the fear of mortals
Rules

ARMY SELECTION Hordes


Your army can include as many Hordes as you like. For each
In order to restrict the possible (nasty) combinations that Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Chariot or Cavalry Horde in the
can be fielded and to make sure armies have a semblance of army, you can also include all of the following units:
‘realism’ about them, we introduce the following limitations
to the unit types that can make up your army. • Up to one Hero
• Up to one Monster or Titan
Troops • Up to one War Engine
Your army can include up to two Troop units for each
Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Chariot or Cavalry Regiment in the For example, including three Infantry, Heavy Infantry,
army. You may also include up to two Troop units for each Chariot or Cavalry Hordes allows you to select up to three
Large Infantry, Monstrous Infantry or Large Cavalry Horde Heroes AND three Monsters (or Titans) AND three War
in your army. Engines.

Your army can also include up to four Troop units for each For each Large Infantry, Monstrous Infantry or Large Cavalry
Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Chariot or Cavalry Horde or Legion Horde in the army, you can also include up to two of the
in your army. following units:

You may also include up to four Troop units for each Large • Up to one Hero
Infantry, Monstrous Infantry or Large Cavalry Legion in your • Up to one Monster
army.
• Up to one Titan

Regiments • Up to one War Engine

Your army can include as many Regiments as you like. For You may not choose the same option twice. For example,
each Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Chariot or Cavalry Regiment including an Infantry Horde would allow you to select up to
in the army, you can also include one of the following units: one Hero and one Monster, but NOT two Heroes.

• Hero Legions
• Monster Unless otherwise stated, Legions are Hordes for the purposes
• Titan of army selection.
• War Engine
For example, including three Regiments allows you to select
up to three additional units chosen from Heroes, Monsters,
Titans and War Engines.

40
Army Selection

41
Rules

ARMY COMPOSITION Limited Units


If a unit has [n] after its name in the list, it is only available
In a standard 2000 point game, players may only take the in limited numbers and may only be taken in quantities up to
same Hero, Monster, Titan or War Engine unit a maximum its [n] value. Often these are named heroes of great fame or
of three times. Elves could take a maximum of three Bolt units of renown and so have a [1] against their name as they
Thrower units in 2000 points for example. This limit includes are unique.
units with artefacts or other upgrades, so an Undead army
could only have a maximum of 3 Necromancers, regardless of If a unit with a [n] value has more than one unit size
what options or upgrades they take. available (e.g. Troop and Regiment), each unit taken,
regardless of size, counts toward the [n] total. For instance, a
For other game sizes, please consult the table below. unit with both Troops and Regiments that is [3] may not take
3 Troops and 3 Regiments.
Point Limit Max Duplicates
0-1499 1
1500-1999 2
Upgrades
Some units have optional upgrades available, in which
2000-2999 3 case the cost for the upgrade is listed beside the option
Each additional 1000 points +1 in the unit profile. The total cost for a unit includes
any upgrades selected for it. So if you chose a 15 point
upgrade for a 100 point unit, the total cost of the unit
Irregular Units would be 115 points.
Note that some units have an asterisk next to their name (for
example: Gargoyles*). We call these Irregular units, because At times these upgrades have variable costs based on
they are not representative of the mainstay force of their unit size (i.e. Troop/Regiment/Horde options).
army. This means that the unit is treated as a Troop from the In these instances the upgrade cost for each size is listed
point of view of Army Selection, even if it is a Regiment or in square brackets. For instance, in the example below
Horde – i.e. it does not ‘unlock’ any optional Troops, Heroes, the cost to upgrade with a Veteran Command is +5 pts for
Monsters or War Engines, and it needs to be unlocked itself a Troop, +10 pts for a Regiment, and +15 pts for a Horde.
by a Regiment, Horde or Legion of ‘regular’ troops.

Heroes (Monsters, etc.)


Heroes that belong to the Monster, Titan or even War Engine
unit type (e.g Hero (Mon)) simply count as a Hero from the
point of view of force selection. So if you have a Horde, you
can field a Hero (Mon) as well as a Monster.

42
Army Selection
ALLIES & ALIGNMENTS Core and Allied Units
When taking allies, your list will have two sets of Core units,
In a standard game, players will pick from a single Army the Primary Core units from your Primary force list and the
List. However, sometimes players wish to play an army with a Allied Core units from the Allied list. Special rules affecting
particular story or theme and so may wish to add allies from Core units will only affect one type rather than both, even if
another list to their army. they are all Friendly and on the same side.
When using allies, you may only choose from one other Army Primary Core units are those you chose from your primary
List. You select units from the allied list in a similar way, so army list.
you still need Regiments/Hordes to then include Troops, War
Engines, Heroes, Monsters or Titans from that list. Allied Core units are those you chose from your allied army
list (if you have one).
If you are using allies, then you may only choose up to 25%
of your army total points limit from the allied list. You may Example: if you chose to play an Ogre army with Orc allies, your Primary
not take Irregular or Limited units as allies and you cannot Core units will be the ones selected from the Ogre Army List, and your
select the same allied unit entry of each of the following types Allied Core units will be the ones selected from the Orcs Army List.
more than once:
When a rule refers to Friendly Core units, it means units
• War Engine from the same list as the unit with the rule. Thus if a unit
from the Allied part of your army had a rule that affected
• Hero (all types) Friendly Core units, it would only apply to other units in the
• Monster Allied part of your army.

SMALLER GAMES
• Titan
Allies may never take unique spells and may not be given
magical artefacts. If you are a new player with a small model collection, you
sometimes want to throw a few units on the table to learn the
Alliances between races that are hated enemies in the Kings
game. You might even be running a small demo of the game
of War background are not very ‘realistic’, so we have given
for friends or even teaching the kids the joys of wargaming.
a specific Alignment to each army – either Good, Evil or
Neutral. Good races should never ally with Evil races, but Whatever the circumstances, you might want to consider
anybody can ally with Neutral races. So please don’t mix allowing any number of Troops in an army when playing
Evil and Good units in the same army, unless your opponent games below around 750 points. This allows both sides to field
agrees, of course. You can also join forces with your friends a decent variety of unit types and for players who are still
and play with several allied armies on either or both sides, as collecting their armies to get them on the table and play some
long as the points values are balanced. games.

43
Rules

THEME LISTS Restrictions on Theme Lists


In order to keep these forces fair and balanced, there are a
The Army Lists included in this book represent many of the few restrictions on how you can field Theme Lists.
primary races and dominate political powers in the world
of Pannithor. They are all considered to be ‘Master Lists’. • If you are using a Theme List, you may only select the
In future supplements we will be introducing many of the specified units from the Master List indicated. Other units
smaller military powers or ‘flavours’ of the primary ones. The from the Master List may not be taken. Likewise, any army
Army Lists for all these sub-factions are known as ‘Theme upgrades available to the Master List are only available to
Lists’ and will be identified as such. the Theme List if explicitly mentioned in the Theme List
itself.
Each Theme List will be a variation of a specific Master List
• You can only use one Theme List at a time, even if
that is found in this book or in future supplements. The
multiple Theme Lists exist for the Master List you are
Theme List will draw many of its units from the original
using.
Master List, while also granting access to new special rules
and units unique to the Theme List itself, allowing players • Theme lists may never choose units from their Master List
to control rarer factions or specific local powers scattered as Allies. Furthermore, units from a Theme list may never
throughout Pannithor. So, for instance, while the Elf list be taken as Allies.
in this book allows players to broadly field elves of all types,
the Sylvan Kin Theme List that will be included in a future
publication will allow players to field the more enigmatic and
fey elves found in ancient forests, like Galahir.

Each Theme List will indicate its parent Master List. It will
then list a series of units from the Master List that may be
taken as part of the Theme List in the army building process.
Not all units from the Master List will be available to Theme
Lists, however. Finally, any new units and rules unique to the
Theme List will be presented as full unit entries. All the units
from the Master List available to a given Theme List, and the
new units unique to that Theme List, when taken together,
comprise the Primary Core units for the army.

44
The glades of Galahir are protected by the Sylvan Kin
Magical Artefacts
Magical Artefacts
Magical artefacts bestow bonuses to the unit they are given When an item refers to ‘normal’ ranged attacks, it cannot be
to. Each unit can have a single artefact chosen from the lists used with any Spells.
below, which is presumed to be carried by the unit’s leader.
The cost of the artefact is added to that of the unit. The artefacts below are presented in two sections. The first
section lists Common items that can be taken by any unit,
Unless the artefact specifies otherwise, the following limits with the exceptions noted above. The second section lists
also apply: Heroic artefacts that can only be taken by Hero (Inf), Hero
(Cav), Hero (Mon), Hero (Cht) and Hero (Ttn) units.
• Each artefact is unique and therefore can only be chosen
once per army. Where a Common artefact has two different points values (e.g.
[20/30] points), the first is the standard cost for most units.
• War Engine units cannot be given artefacts.
The second value is the cost when taking the artefact with a
• Monster and Titan units cannot be given artefacts, but Hero Horde or Legion sized unit – these pay a higher price due to
(Mon), Hero (Cht) and Hero (Ttn) units definitely can. the greater impact the artefact may have when used by larger
and more powerful units.
• Unique units (i.e. units with a [1] limit) cannot choose
artefacts. As the presence of these items is not obvious, players must
• Allied units may not take magical artefacts. tell their opponent which artefact any of their units is
carrying as they deploy them on the battlefield. If both
Artefacts are magical in nature (some of them might even players agree before deployment, you may want to play with
be sentient!), and all of them have the magical power of ‘hidden artefacts’. This is somewhat less fair, but can be
changing their shape. This allows them to morph into a considerably more fun…
weapon, piece of armour, jewel or other implement that is
more akin to the race of the warrior carrying it. For example,
a Blade of Slashing could be an elegant sword in the hands of
an elf, but it will turn into a crude meat cleaver in the hands
of an orc. This magical property is of course very convenient
from the point of view of the average wargamer!

Note that Ranged attacks and Spells granted to a unit by an


artefact do not gain any of the unit’s inherent special rules.
For example, if a unit itself has the Elite (Ranged) special rule
and was given the War-Bow of Kaba, any ranged attack made
with the War-Bow would not benefit from the unit’s Elite
(Ranged) special rule.

45
Rules

COMMON ARTEFACTS Mace of Crushing 5 pts


Whenever the unit rolls to damage in Melee, it can re-roll
Blade of Slashing 5 pts one of the dice that failed to damage.

Whenever the unit rolls to hit in Melee, it can re-roll one of


the dice that failed to hit.

Fire-Oil 5 pts Staying Stone 5 pts


The unit gains both the Crushing Strength special rule (+1 – vs.
The unit gains +1 to its Wavering stat value.
units with Regeneration) and the Piercing special rule (+1 – vs.
units with Regeneration).

War-Bow of Kaba 5 pts


Healing Brew 5 pts The unit gains the following Ranged attack:
Once per game, when given a Movement order, the unit may War-Bow of Kaba: 24”, Att: 1, Ra: 4+, Piercing (1), Steady Aim
roll a single die. On a 1-3 it regains one point of damage it
previously suffered. On a result of 4-6 it regains two points of
damage it previously suffered.

Hann’s Sanguinary Scripture 10 pts


Liliana’s Tear 5 pts The unit gains the Lifeleech (+1) special rule.

The unit is not affected by the Dread, Shattering or Brutal


special rules on enemy units.

46
Mead of Madness
Magical Artefacts
10 pts Piercing Arrow 10 pts
The unit gains the Wild Charge (+1) special rule. Whenever the unit rolls to damage with a Ranged attack, it
can re-roll one of the dice that failed to damage.

Aegis of the Elohi 15 pts


The unit gains the Iron Resolve special rule. If it already has
Iron Resolve, it increases the amount of damage regained each
Pipes of Terror 10 pts time Iron Resolve is used to two.

This unit gains the Brutal special rule.

47
Rules

Blood of the Old King 15 pts Sacred Horn 15 pts


Once per game, the unit gains Elite (Melee) and Vicious The unit gains an additional 3” range to all of its Auras.
(Melee) for one Turn. This must be declared before the unit
rolls any attacks. For each die re-rolled, the unit receives
an immediate point of damage on itself. No Nerve test is
required for this self-inflicted damage.

Sir Jesse’s Boots of Striding 15 pts


Once per game, this unit gains the Strider special rule until
Chalice of Wrath 15 pts the end of the Turn.
The unit gains the Fury special rule.

Dwarven Ale 15 pts Blessing of the Gods [20/30] pts


The unit gains the Headstrong special rule. The unit gains the Elite special rule.

Helm of Confidence 15 pts Brew of Haste 20 pts


The unit gains the Inspiring (Self) special rule. This unit increases its Speed stat by +1.

48
Chant of Hate
Magical Artefacts
[20/30] pts The Scrying Gem 25 pts
The unit gains the Vicious special rule. When starting to deploy their units, your opponent must
deploy D3+1 units instead of a single one.

Dragonshard Shield 20 pts


Once per game, when this unit carries out a Halt or Change
Diadem of Dragonkind 30 pts
Facing order, it may choose to increase its Defence by +2 to a The unit gains the Fireball (8) spell.
maximum of 6+ until the start of its next Turn.

Brew of Strength [30/40] pts


Hammer of Measured Force 20 pts The unit gains the Crushing Strength (+1) special rule.
In Melee, this unit will always damage the enemy on a 4+
regardless of any other modifiers.

Maccwar’s Potion of the Brew of Sharpness [35/45] pts


Caterpillar 20 pts The unit has a +1 to hit modifier with Melee attacks.
This unit gains the Pathfinder special rule.

49
Rules

Wine of Elvenkind 40 pts


The unit gains the Nimble special rule.

Crystal Pendant of
Retribution 50 pts
When the unit suffers a Rout result, all units in base contact
with it suffer 2D6 hits at Piercing (3). These hits are resolved
by the player that Routed the unit with the Crystal, which
now has to (grudgingly, we’re sure) resolve the hits against
their own unit(s). After the damage has been resolved, no
Nerve test is taken by the damaged units – they proceed to
Regroup, but cannot move directly forward D6” for their
Regroup action, because they are deterred by the huge
explosion.

50
Magical Artefacts
HEROIC ARTEFACTS Blade of the Beast Slayer 20 pts
The unit gains the Crushing Strength (+2 – vs. Large Infantry,
Conjurer’s Staff 10 pts Monstrous Infantry, Large Cavalry, Monsters and Titans)
special rule.
Whenever the unit rolls to hit with non-unique spells, it can
re-roll one of the dice that failed to hit.

Inspiring Talisman 20 pts


The unit gains the Inspiring special rule.

Darklord’s Onyx Ring 10 pts


Individuals only. The unit gains the Regeneration (6+) special
rule.

Tome of Darkness 20 pts


The unit gains the Surge (4) spell, or if the unit already has a
Surge spell, its value is increased by 4.

Mournful Blade 15 pts


Individuals only. The unit gains the Duelist special rule.

Lute of Insatiable Darkness 25 pts


Trickster’s Wand 15 pts The unit gains the Bane Chant (2) spell.

The unit gains the Hex (2) spell.

If this unit scores a hit with its Hex against an enemy Hero
also carrying a Trickster’s Wand, the enemy’s Hex spell,
granted by its Trickster’s Wand, cannot be used for the
remainder of the game.

51
Rules

Zephyr Crown 25 pts Shroud of the Saint 30 pts


The unit gains the Wind Blast (5) spell. The unit gains the Heal (3) spell, or if the unit already has a
Heal spell, its value is increased by 3.

Boots of Levitation 30 pts


The unit may still make Ranged attacks even after receiving
an At the Double Movement order.

The Boomstick 30 pts


The unit gains the Lightning Bolt (3) spell, or if the unit
already has a Lightning Bolt spell, its value is increased by 3.

Boots of the Seven Leagues 30 pts


Individuals only. The unit gains the Scout special rule.
Wings of Honeymaze 40 pts
Individuals only. The unit gains the Fly special rule and
increases its Speed stat to 10, but decreases its Defence stat by
-1 to a minimum of 2.

52
Magic
Magic
The spells listed in this section summarise the wealth of Some spells have the target marked as ‘Friendly’. Such spells
subtly different magical powers wielded in Kings of War can only target Friendly units taken from the same list as
by spellcasters – whether they are warlocks, witches, vile the spellcaster with the spell. In other words, a spellcaster
necromancers or holy priests. Primary Core unit may only target other Friendly Primary
Core units, not Friendly Allied units and vice-versa: a spell-
A spellcaster’s unit profile lists the spells already included in caster Allied Core unit can only target other Friendly Allied
the cost of that spellcaster. In addition it will list any extra Core, not Friendly Primary Core units. Such spells can only
spells that can be purchased for the unit in the same way as target the spellcaster itself if ‘Self’ is listed in in the Targets
other optional upgrades, along with their cost. This allows section of the spell’s profile.
you to customise your magic users to a degree. Keep in mind,
however, that a unit can make only a single Ranged attack Like other ranged attacks, most spells are not allowed to
per Turn, so while having more than one spell gives your target units that are in Melee combat or Engaged. Spells that
spellcasters flexibility, it does not allow them to cast more have ‘CC’ in the Targets section of their profile, meaning
than one at a time. Combat Casting, are exceptions. They may target units in
Melee or who are Engaged.
Spells
Spells are Ranged attacks and thus follow the normal rules
for these (e.g. a model that moves At the Double cannot use Spellcasting Tiers
spells in the same Turn), with the exceptions listed below.
A spellcasting tier is listed in the special rules section
For spells, you always roll the number of dice indicated in the of each unit that is capable of casting spells. Tiers give
(n) value in the spellcaster’s entry for that spell, rather than a rough idea of the relative power of any given caster,
the Att value of the spellcaster itself. The Att value of the where a higher number represents a more powerful
spellcaster is only used when the model is using a Melee or or knowledgeable sorcerer, and a lower number may
non-magical Ranged attack, like a bow, instead of its spells. represent a novice, or even a unit with a simple innate
magical ability. A unit must have a spellcasting tier to
Spells always hit on 4+ and ignore all the normal to hit be considered a spellcaster. These tiers will be used in
modifiers for Ranged attacks, including any modifiers from future supplements.
special rules, unless otherwise stated.

53
An Abyssal Warlock conjures forth a gout of searing flame
Rules

SPELLS
Spell Name Range Targets Effect Modifiers

If one or more hits are scored, for the rest of the


Friendly, turn the unit gains Crushing Strength (+1). This effect
Bane Chant 12” -
CC only applies once – multiple castings on the same
target have no additional effect.
Roll to damage as normal. If one or more points
of damage are scored, choose either the caster or a
single Friendly Core unit within 6” of the caster.
Drain Life 6” Enemy, CC Remove one point of damage from the chosen unit Piercing (1)
for each point of damage dealt to the target. If this is
cast into Melee, the target will not take a Nerve test
at the end of the Ranged phase.
For each hit scored, the target Enemy unit is pulled
1” directly forward if the spellcaster is in the target
unit’s front arc, directly sideways and toward the
spellcaster if the spellcaster is in either of the
target unit’s flank arcs, or directly backward if the
Enthral 18” Enemy spellcaster is in the target unit’s rear arc. The target -
stops 1" away from enemy units or just out of contact
with Blocking Terrain and Friendly units.

A unit can only be targeted by Enthral once per Turn.

This spell has no effect on units with Speed 0.


Hits on a 5+
against units
Fireball 12” Enemy Roll to damage the enemy as normal.
in Cover or
with Stealthy
Friendly, For each hit, the target unit regains a point of
Heal 12” -
Self, CC damage that it has previously suffered.
Instead of causing damage, if one or more hits are
scored, the target enemy unit is Hexed and receives
two points of damage each time it scores a hit with
Hex 30” Enemy a spell until the end of its next Turn. A Nerve test is -
not required for damage caused by this spell.

This spell has no effect on Spellcaster: 0 units.


Roll to damage the Enemy unit as normal. If one or Hits on a 5+
Icy Breath 10” Enemy more points of damage are dealt, the target Enemy against units
unit is given the Frozen special rule. in Cover.
Piercing (1),
Hits on a 5+
Lightning Bolt 24” Enemy Roll to damage the enemy as normal.
against units
in Cover.

54
Magic
Spell Name Range Targets Effect Modifiers

Instead of causing damage, if one or more hits


are scored, make a Nerve test for the target at the
Mind Fog 36” Enemy -
end of the Ranged phase as though damage had been
caused.
For each hit, the target friendly Shambling unit
moves straight forward a full inch (stopping just out
of contact from Friendly units and Blocking Terrain).
If applicable, the Fly special rule is not in effect for
this movement.

If this movement brings it into contact with an


Enemy unit, treat this as a successful Charge against
the enemy facing that has been contacted. However,
the charged unit will not take any Nerve tests for any
damage it might have taken in the previous Ranged
phase.
Friendly –
Surge 12” Shambling If, and only if, the surged unit contacts a corner of -
Only the Enemy unit and not the edge, determine which
arc of the target unit the Leader Point of the surging
unit is in before it moves and align to that side to
attack.

If two Enemy units are contacted at the same time,


the attacking player may choose which unit is being
charged.

If the Surge move took the unit over an Obstacle or


through Difficult Terrain, then it will be Hindered
in the ensuing combat as normal.

This spell has no effect on units with Speed 0.


Instead of causing damage, if one or more hits are
scored, the target unit has a -1 modifier when rolling
to damage enemy units during their next turn (any
Weakness 24” Enemy, CC -
rolls the unit makes of natural six will still cause
damage, however). This effect only applies once –
multiple castings on the same target have no effect.
For each hit the target enemy unit is pushed 1”
directly backward if the spellcaster is in the target
unit’s front arc, directly sideways and away from the
spellcaster if the spellcaster is in either of the target
Wind Blast 18” Enemy unit’s flank arcs, or directly forward if the spellcaster
is in the target unit’s rear arc. The target stops 1"
away from enemy units or just out of contact with
blocking terrain and friends.

This spell has no effect on Speed 0 units.

55
Rules

UNIQUE SPELLS
The following spells may only ever be taken once in an army. If a unit in the army has it by default on its profile, and another
unit has it as an option, that other unit may not take it as an upgrade option. If two units have the option to take the spell,
only one of the units may take the upgrade. Unique spells may never be taken by Allies.

Spell Name Range Targets Effect Modifiers

If one or more hits are scored, until the start of its


Bastion Friendly, next Turn, the target increases its Waver and Rout
12” -
[1] Self, CC stat values by 1 and gains the Rallying (+1) special
rule, to a maximum of 2.
Blizzard For each hit scored, roll a single D3. The combined Indirect,
30” Enemy
[1] total is the amount of attacks to roll for damage. Piercing (1)
Piercing (1),
Hits on a 5+
Bloodboil When rolling to hit, roll a number of dice equal to
12” Enemy against units
[1] the amount of damage on the target unit.
in Cover or
with Stealthy.
For each hit scored, remove one point of damage that
has been previously taken by the target and transfer
Martyr’s Prayer Friendly, it to the spellcaster.
12” -
[1] CC
The spellcaster will not take a Nerve test for damage
taken in this way.
If one or more hits are scored, the spellcaster gains
Veil of Shadows
- Self the Aura (Stealthy) special rule until the start of the -
[1]
player’s next Turn.

56
Scenarios
Game Scenarios
Scenarios are an important part of balanced and varied play
in Kings of War. To that end we have a total of 12 different
Result Scenario
and exciting scenarios in this book for you to use. Each
scenario will explain how to set up your games and what the 1 ............................................Pillage
victory conditions and special rules will be for each player. 2 ...............................................Loot
3...............................................Push
For tournament organisers, to encourage players to bring well
balanced armies, we strongly recommend playing a variety of 4 ..................................... Dominate
these scenarios at your events. 5............................................ Invade
6 ......................................... Control
Prepare Your Forces 7 .................................................Kill
First of all you and your opponent need to pick armies to an 8 .............................................. Raze
agreed total of points, using the process described in ‘Picking 9 ........................................ Plunder
a Force’, on page 39.
10 .................................. Fool’s Gold
11 .......................Smoke & Mirrors
Choose a Gaming Area
12 .............................Salt the Earth
Kings of War is usually played on a 6’x4’ board; however,
sometimes you will be playing on a different size. If playing
with fewer than 1500 points, you might choose a 4’x4’ board
for example. Set-up
After rolling for the type of game and setting up the
If you are playing on a size other than 6’x4’, then you may
objectives/loot, if any, both players roll a die. The person
need to adjust the scenario. Usually this will mean reducing
scoring highest chooses one long edge of the battlefield as
the number of objectives. We have detailed the recommended
their own and then places one of their units on that side
changes for a 4’x4’ board within the applicable scenarios.
of the battlefield, more than 12” from the middle line (see
Please ensure that both players are aware of the changes
Set-up diagram on page 58). Their opponent then does the
being used for each scenario when necessary.
same on the opposite side of the table. The players continue to
alternate placing units until they have placed all of their units
Determine a Scenario onto the table in their Set-up areas.
Either pick one of the below scenarios to play or choose a
random scenario by rolling a D12 and consulting the table Who Goes First?
below.
Both you and your opponent roll a die. The highest scorer
Alternatively, if you do not have a D12, roll a D6. On a chooses whether they are going to have the first Turn or give
1-3 you will play scenarios 1-6, and on a 4-6 you will play the first Turn to their opponent instead. Game on!
scenarios 7-12. Roll another D6 to find out which of those you
will play. Duration
The game lasts until each player has taken six Turns. At the
Place Terrain end of Round 6, the player who went second rolls a die. On a
Before the game, it’s a good idea if you and your opponent 1-3 the game ends. On a 4-6 there is a Round 7. Both players
put some terrain on the battlefield. Arrange it in a sensible play an extra turn and then the game ends – work out the
manner, trying to recreate a plausible landscape of the winner as described in the scenario conditions.
fantastic world your armies are battling in. Alternatively, find
You can, of course, vary the number of Turns you want to
a third and neutral person to lay out the terrain for you.
play for, or decide to play for a set amount of time instead
During this stage it’s vital that you agree what each piece of (e.g. two hours), after which the game continues until each
terrain is going to count as during the game – what is the player has had the same number of Turns. Alternatively, you
Height of each piece of terrain? Is it Blocking Terrain, an could also play a Timed Game, as explained in the Timed
Obstacle or an area of Difficult Terrain? Games section on page 63.

57
Rules

Definitions Rolling Off


Some scenarios may instruct you to roll off to determine who
places an objective, token or marker first. In these cases,
Victory Points whoever rolls the highest number places first.
Most scenarios award a certain number of Victory Points
(VPs) for completing objectives. The player with the most
VPs at the end of the game wins. If the players have an equal
Objective Markers
number of VPs, then the game is a draw. Objective Markers should always be placed at least 12” apart
from each other and at least 3” away from any Blocking
Terrain.
Unit Strength
Each unit on the board will have a Unit Strength that is used For Objective Markers you should use 25mm round bases or
in some scenarios to determine who controls different areas of tokens. You can have some fun by creating special themed
the board. This is listed in the unit’s profile. Objective Markers too.

If at the end of the game you have a Scoring unit within at


Centre of the Board least 3” of an Objective and there are no enemy units within
A number of scenarios require you to place an Objective 3” of it, you control that Objective. A single unit can control
Marker or Loot Counter in the centre of the board. If you are any number of Objectives.
unable to do so due to Blocking Terrain, it should be placed
along the centre line of the table as close to the centre as If your opponent also has a Scoring unit within 3” of an
possible, remaining at least 3” from Blocking Terrain. objective, then you can determine who controls it by adding
up the total Unit Strength of both your and your opponents
units within 3” of the Objective. Whichever army has the
Scoring Units highest total is in control of that Objective Marker.
Scoring units are any units that have a Unit Strength value
greater than 0. If both players have an equal total Unit Strength within 3”
of an Objective, then it is contested and is worth 0 Victory
Non-Scoring Units Points for both players.
Non-Scoring units are any units that have a Unit Strength of 0. Individuals and War Engines are always ignored from the
point of view of controlling Objectives (if it helps, remove
them from the table before determining control of Objectives).

Objective Markers do not block LoS or movement.

58
Scenarios
Loot Counters Bluff Counters
Loot Counters should always be placed at least 12” apart from For Bluff Counters you should use 25mm round bases or
each other and at least 3” away from any Blocking Terrain, tokens.
unless starting the game in a unit.
Bluff Counters are marked with a number on one side,
For Loot Counters you should use 25mm round bases or tokens. leaving the other side blank, so that the players do not know
the value of the counter their opponent placed until it is
During the game, when one of your units ends a phase of its revealed.
own Turn (excluding Scout moves) on top of or in contact with
a Loot Counter, it can pick it up as long as there is no Enemy For scenarios that use Bluff Counters, each player is given the
unit also in contact with the Loot Counter. That unit will following:
then carry the Loot Counter.
• Two Bluff Counters marked with a ‘0’
A unit can drop any Loot Counters it is carrying at the • Two Bluff Counters marked with a ‘1’
start of any move – simply place the Counter(s) anywhere
completely within the footprint of the unit and then move the • One Bluff Counter marked with a ‘2’
unit as normal.
Players may look at their own counters so they know what
If one of your units is Routed while carrying Loot, place the they are placing where, but are not allowed to see their
Counter(s) anywhere within its footprint before removing opponent’s until they are revealed during the game.
the unit. If the unit was destroyed in a Melee, your opponent
Bluff Counters do not block LoS or movement.
automatically distributes the Loot Counters however they like
among the units that are in contact with yours before your
unit is removed.

Units with the Individual special rule cannot carry loot


Counters. However, Loot Counters may be placed under units
with the Individual special rule if no other units are available
to receive them. In this case, the Individual is not carrying
the Loot Counter but is defending it. The Loot Counter must
be placed before the Individual carries out its Regroup action.
If the Individual chooses to move forward or backward as its
Regroup action, the Loot Counter does not move with the
Individual.

While carrying a Loot Counter, a unit’s speed is reduced to 5


(unless it is less than 5) and it cannot be targeted by the Wind
Blast, Enthrall or Surge spells. Additionally, while carrying
a Loot Counter, a unit loses the Fly, Nimble and Wild Charge
special rules

Non-Scoring Units cannot pick up nor carry the Loot


Counters; the best they can do is stand on a Loot Counter
to defend it. As long as a Non-Scoring Unit is standing on a
Loot Counter, it cannot be picked up by the enemy.

Loot Counters do not block LoS or movement.

59
Rules

Scenarios
1: Pillage 3: Push
Before rolling off to choose sides, place a total of D3+4 After both players have set up their forces, roll a D3. Each
Objective Markers on the board. The players take it in turns player places that many Loot Counters within their set-up
to place one Objective each. Roll off to see who places the area, giving them to units to carry if they wish. Roll off to see
first objective. who begins placing their Loot Counters first, and the players
take it in turns to place one Loot Counter each until they
Victory Points are awarded at the end of the game as follows: have placed them all.
• 1 Victory Point for each Objective Marker you control. An additional Loot Counter is placed in the exact centre of
the board.
Smaller Board Victory Points are awarded at the end of the game as follows:
We recommend using D3+2 Objective Markers on a
4’x4’ board. • 2 Victory Points for each Loot Counter you hold where
your unit is entirely on the opposing half of the board.
• 1 Victory Point for each Loot Counter you hold where your

2: Loot unit is at least partly on your half of the board.

Before rolling off to choose sides, place three Loot Counters


on the centre line of the board. One must be placed in the
4: Dominate
exact centre of the board (or as close to it along the centre At the end of the game, add up the Unit Strength of all of
line as possible), and then players place one more each, your units that have the majority of their footprint within 12”
rolling off to see who places theirs first. Loot Counters cannot of the centre of the playing area. That is your Victory Point
be placed within 12” of each other or within 3” of Blocking score. Your opponent does the same and you compare scores.
Terrain.

Victory Points are awarded at the end of the game as follows: 5: Invade
• 1 Victory Point for each Loot Counter you hold. At the end of the game, add up the total Unit Strength of
each player’s units that have the majority of their footprint
on the opposing player’s half of the board. This is the total
number of Victory Points that each player scores.

60
Scenarios
6: Control 8: Raze
At the end of the game, divide the board into six 2’x2’ squares After rolling off to choose sides, place one Objective Marker
and add up the total Unit Strength of each player’s units in the exact centre of the board. The players then place three
within a square. If a unit is straddling the line between two more Objective Markers 6” from the centre line on their
or more squares it is considered to be in whichever square opponent’s half of the board, rolling off to see who places
is covered by the majority of its base. If there is no clear theirs first. Take it in turns until all the Objective Markers
majority, the owning player must choose which square the have been placed.
unit is in.
You can contest, but not control, the Objective Marker on
The player who has the highest Unit Strength in each square your own side of the table. You cannot remove the Central
controls it. Objective, or Objective Markers on your own side of the table.

Victory Points are awarded at the end of the game as follows: Victory Points can be accumulated from Round two onward
and are as follows:
• 2 Victory Points if you hold the square in the middle of
your opponent’s half of the board. • 1 Victory Point for each Objective Marker you control on
your opponent’s half of the table at the end of your player
• 1 Victory Point for each other square you hold.
Turn. Claimed Objective Markers on your opponent’s half
of the board are then removed from play.
Smaller Board
• 1 Victory Point if you control the central Objective Marker
There are only 4 2’x2’ squares on the board rather than at the end of the game.
six. The square that is on your right and on the opposite
side of the board will give you the 2 Victory Points.
Smaller Board
We recommend using 2 Objective Markers each on a
4’x4’ board.

9: Plunder
Before rolling off to choose sides, place five Loot Counters on
the centre line of the board. One must be placed in the exact
centre of the board (or as close to it along the centre line as
possible). The remaining four Counters are then placed along
the centre line, 12” away from each other (or as close to this
distance as possible). After choosing sides, starting with the
player that chose their side first, each player nominates a
7: Kill (different) Loot Counter which will be worth 2 Victory Points.
These two counters are referred to as Primary Loot Counters.
At the end of the game, add up the points cost of all of the
Enemy units you Routed. That is your score. Your opponent Victory Points are awarded at the end of the game as follows:
does the same and you compare scores. If the difference
• 1 Victory Point for each Loot Counter you hold.
between the scores in favour of a player is at least 10% of the
total cost of the armies, that player wins; otherwise the game • 2 Victory Points for each Primary Loot Counter you hold.
is a draw. For example, in a game where armies are 2000
points, you need at least 200 points more than your opponent
Smaller Board
to win.
We recommend using three Loot Counters on a 4’x4’
board. Rather than players choosing, the central counter
is the single Primary Loot Counter.

61
Rules

10: Fool’s Gold 11: Smoke & Mirrors


This scenario uses 10 Bluff Counters. This scenario uses 10 Bluff Counters.

After rolling off to choose sides, roll off to see who places After rolling off to choose sides, roll off to see who places
the first Bluff Counter. The players take it in turns to place the first Bluff Counter. The players take it in turns to place
one Bluff Counter of their choice (marked side down) fully one Bluff Counter of their choice (marked side down) fully
on their opponent’s half of the board, following the same on their opponent’s half of the board, following the same
placement restrictions as Objective Markers. placement restrictions as Objective Markers.

At the end of Round 3, all the Bluff Counters are flipped At the end of each Round, each player must flip one Bluff
to reveal their value. Bluff counters are treated as Objective Counter on their side of the board, rolling off to decide
Markers from this point on. who flips first. Repeat this process each turn until all Bluff
Counters are flipped and revealed.
Victory Points are awarded at the end of the game as follows:
Victory Points are awarded at the end of the game as follows:
• 1 Victory Point for each Bluff Counter marked with a 1
that you control. • 1 Victory Point for each Bluff Counter marked with a 1
that you control.
• 2 Victory Points for each Bluff Counter marked with a 2
that you control. • 2 Victory Points for each Bluff Counter marked with a 2
that you control.
Bluff Counters marked with a 0 are not worth any Victory
Points. Bluff Counters marked with a 0 are not worth any Victory
Points.
Smaller Board
We recommend each player only use one of each value Smaller Board
of Bluff Counter on a 4’x4’ board. We recommend each player only use one of each value
of Bluff Counter on a 4’x4’ board.

12: Salt the Earth


Before rolling off to choose sides, place one Objective Marker
in the exact centre of the board and then the players take it in
turns placing Objective Markers until both players have each
placed three Objective Markers. Roll off to see who places the
first Objective.

After a player has completed their Turn, they can choose to


destroy any Objective Markers which they control (except for
the Central Objective). Repeat this process at the end of each
of the player’s Turns until the end of the game. Destroyed
Objective Markers are removed from play and have no
influence on the rest of the game.

Victory Points are awarded at the end of the game as follows:

• 1 Victory Point for each Objective Marker still in play that


you control.

Smaller Board
We recommend using two Objective Markers each on a
4’x4’ board.

62
Scenarios
Timed Games Time Out
If a player runs out of time, they must immediately put their
We really enjoy playing Kings of War in a relaxed dice down and make no further dice rolls for the rest of the
atmosphere, accompanied by epic music, beer, pizza and the game. If there are any unresolved combats, the units are
unavoidable truculent banter. However, the game is designed simply left Engaged.
so that you can also decide to introduce another dimension
to the fight: time. This way you’ll be able to experience some During the remainder of the game, the player may not
of the pressure of real battle, when snap decisions make the issue any orders or roll any dice, including for rules such as
difference between victory or defeat, life or death! Regeneration.

If the other player still has time remaining, then they may
Chess Clocks continue playing as normal.
The best tool for timed games is a chess clock, a device that
ensures time is equally divided among the players, thus Be Nice!
creating the ultimate fair and balanced wargame.
Of course, it’s only fair to stop the chess clock or timer if one
Simply agree a number of turns for the game and an amount of the players is distracted from the game (by a phone call or
of time per player and set the chess clock accordingly. For a the like), or if the players need to check a rule, an unclear
2000 points game, we suggest six turns each and fifty minutes LoS, etc.
per player, but it’s up you to find the pace you prefer for your
By all means, you and your opponent can vary the amount
games.
of time you have for your game or your Turns according to
After deciding which player begins to set up, start that your own taste, but if you’re like us, you are going to love the
player’s clock. Once that player has set up their first unit, stop pressure created by timed games – after all, in real war one
their clock, start their opponent’s clock and so on. Once setup rarely has the luxury of time...
is finished, stop both clocks and roll to see who has the first
turn. Once the winner of the roll has made their choice, re-
start that player’s clock. That player plays a Turn, then stops
their clock and activates the opponent’s clock, and so on.

The game ends at the agreed number of Rounds and victory


conditions are worked out as normal.

Other Timers
If you don’t have a chess clock at hand, don’t worry – the
stopwatch in your phone or watch, or even an hourglass or
egg timer will do fine. If you use one of these, then each
player gets an agreed amount of time per Turn (agree first
how many Rounds the game is going to last for). We suggest
that each Turn should take around two minutes per 500
points in your game (say eight minutes in a 2000 point game).

Make sure you set a time limit for setup (30 seconds per unit
works fine).

63
Nightstalkers unleashed from a void-cage threaten the Alliance’s defences
A demonic army from the Abyss rampages through a Basilean border town
A terrifying Shadowhulk strides forward to smash the elven lines
Iron-caster Krzak the Blood-forged of Tragazahk commands his legions against a Neritican invasion
A mighty Orc host seeks to plunder the riches of the cursed Ahmunites
A surge of Neriticans rises to quench the fires of the Abyss
Pannithor
Background

Pannithor
Behind the massive walls of Therennia Adar, deep down in imagination. A giant quill, filled with a limitless supply of
the twilight gloom of the city streets there is a door. It is black ink made from the blood of hydras, scratches its way
a nondescript, unremarkable wooden door, passed daily by endlessly over a fantastically detailed map of the entire world.
the feet of thousands as they go about their daily lives. The Since time forgotten, the quill has faithfully recorded the
door has no key, no handle that can be seen by those who ever-changing shape of the world; the rise and fall of empires,
do not know its secret – their eyes slide past as they walk on, the kingdoms and borders that shift and merge and come and
unseeing. Yet behind this unexceptional door, protected by go. The fate of entire civilisations and the decisive events and
spells woven by Valandor himself almost one thousand years battles that have dominated history have all been steadily and
ago, is a vast room, lit by glittering mirrors that cunningly dispassionately recorded by this unerring cartographer. As
re-cast soft light from the heavens far above. Tiered wooden an observer you can ask the map to redraw itself to show the
shelves surround the central chamber, heavy with the dusty world as it was at any time. It is possible to watch the fate of
books and grimoires of the learned elven races. In studies nations unfold as they have struggled to survive to the present
and lecture rooms off the main hall, students and teachers day. The destiny of the noble races and their influence on the
absorb the knowledge recorded by their ancestors while surface of the world is clear but perhaps more intriguing is to
scholars continue to chronicle the history of the world and study the minor players or those that fall between the cracks
the secrets it contains. In the middle of the central hall is an of history. The authority of the noble races and the impact of
immense table made of a single piece of polished hardwood, the major forces of darkness are common knowledge. But to
carved with astonishing skill by the hands of ancient elven study the map is also to understand the subtle influence that
artisans. On the table lies a massive animal hide, taken from the so-called minor peoples have had on the shaping of the
Y’Roon Thunderfoot, the ancient king of the mammoths. world and the ripples of their interactions down the ages and
As fascinating as they may be, the table and the enormous into the future. You can also see the places you never knew
piece of leather draped across it are not what will capture the existed. The world is much bigger than many people believe.

76
Background
IN THE BEGINNING itself, dragged forth from the heavens to shine the brighter
near the world, is countered by the Moon, which Lonok uses
to drag shadows across the globe. In some of the older parts of
Before the dawn of the noble races, in a time so long ago
the world, in lost civilisations still holding to the Old Ways,
even the elves have scant record, the world came to be. It was
a solar eclipse is seen as a sign that the two are at the peak
created, in all of its bleak majesty, by the efforts of the Old
of their rage with one another, the longer periods of twilight
Gods, known as the Primogenitors.
and dusk that follow the result of the exhaustion of each as
The Primogenitors were each themselves fashioned of the they slink away to regain their powers for another day.
very stuff of which existence is composed: Life, Death,
Threnekka and Korgaan’s relationship was a playful one -
Darkness, Light, Earth, Water and Air - each of them wholly
the God of the Air would send forth mighty winds to stir
possessed of and driven by the nature of their own makeup.
Threnekka’s oceans, whipping them to frenzy. Threnekka
Bhanek was among the youngest, twin of Shobik. Bhanek would take these winds and use their strength to form
was the God of Life, delighting in bringing the spark of enormous waves, and the resulting storms were as epic as
sentience to a vast and bewildering array of creations and they were beautiful. Neither cared much for the creatures
forms, his imagination as limitless as his capacity for joy. His gifted both of them by Bhanek, not the birds of the skies nor
brother, Shobik, presided over Death, though the word itself the beasts of the deeps, as each was too wrapped up in their
does the concept little justice. In reality, Shobik represented affections for the other. Even the ancient wyrms, mothers of
time, entropy, decay and the hope of rebirth. For a mortal dragonkind, were considered clumsy and beneath contempt by
mind to even attempt to comprehend the full majesty and both gods. Some of the greatest lakes, mountains and rivers
perfect harmony of the one twin with the other is simply were formed by their constant and tempestuous back and
impossible. Where Bhanek was excitable and intemperate, forth, and in a very real sense they shaped much of the world
Shobik was aloof and logical. Where Bhanek would often as it is known today.
let his creations loose in the world with no idea as to their
Of all the Primogenitors, Dianek alone lived a solitary and
potential or capability, Shobik’s every action was considered
mournful life. Hers was the earth and all that lay beneath
and calculated, never resulting in anything other than exactly
it. Bhanek had no interest in making creatures he was
that which he had intended. The two were as fire and ice,
unable to see and show off to the others. Shobik bestowed
Bhanek’s flames rising to melt Shobik’s ice, which would
only the lightest attention on the Underworld, ensuring
in turn douse the conflagration of Bhanek’s ardour. It is
that time would drag their infinitesimally slowly. Ohmpek
impossible for the mortal heart to comprehend the depths
had no use for a realm in which light could not survive,
of emotion exchanged between these two beings - a fraction
and Lonok saw no use for a realm whose stygian depths
of their fraternal love would burst the hearts of a million
drank light more deeply and completely than any shadow
suitors, a mere sliver of their jealousy and rage would send
she could conjure. Threnekka found Earth to be anathema
whole populations insane with anger. And yet, the two
to her, fit only to wash away in slow erosion as she carved
coexisted closely, Bhanek’s creations giving him delight,
her signature through it, and Korgaan blew across the top
Shobik’s inevitable attentions taking them away, paving the
of the earth without once touching it. While the other
way for the next and the next. Theirs was a relationship
Primogenitors played and marvelled above the earth, exulting
of perfect harmony, such that the whole of creation was
in their powers and vying to outdo one another through the
balanced more finely than any scale by their actions.
heavens, Dianek remained below and tended to her depths in
Ohmpek, God of Light and Raiser of the Sun, was paired solitude. Try as she might, she could fashion no truly sentient
with Lonok, Queen of the Shadows and Bringer of Darkness. creatures from the clay and mud, though she could raise
Unlike the twins, these two enjoyed a fiery co-existence of simple mindless constructs of rock to do her bidding, puppet-
endless opposition, each constantly battling to vanquish the like.
other utterly. Their struggle was endless, chasing one another
None living can truly say how long the reign of the
around the globe, neither able to best the other or cast the
Primogenitors lasted before Bhanek ushered in the beginning
world fully under their own influence. Where there was
of its end with his creation of the elves. All that is known
Darkness on one side, so there was Light on the other. Where
is that these seven between them begun the shaping of the
the sun rose and illuminated the lands at one pole, the stars
world into what it is today.
winked from the cyclopean darkness at the other. The Sun

77
Background

On the Origins of the Noble Races the oceans and mammals on the earth. Shobik, the Keeper
of Time, would take them back again as the years claimed
The world has undergone much upheaval and many wars in them. Ohmpek, the raiser of the Sun, would spread light
the span of its existence. Entire civilisations have been wiped and life from horizon to horizon, and Lonok, Bringer of
clean from both existence and memory, and new ones have the Dark, would cover the world in her velvet embrace once
come after. Wars have raged in which Gods and God-like again. Korgaan, God of the Winds would delight in stirring
beings have fought over continents. Mortals have offered up the depths of Threnneka’s oceans, the two dancing together
entire seas of blood in sacrifice for some ideal or belief now endlessly. Dianek, the Goddess of the Underworld, was the
consigned to the oblivious vaults of history. Throughout its loneliest of all the Gods, alone in the eternal twilight of
history the world has been given many names. To the ancient her realm and ignored by the others, and the story of her
race of men, it has been known as both Mirramoth and children began after Bhanek’s greatest creation came to pass
Minaholm. The dwarf’s ancestral name, often still used today - the elves.
is khôlen-bakkar which means ‘The over-earth’, although
Berranonn is also used in more modern texts and carvings. Bhanek had tired of his creations being simply left to wander
The elves of old called everything they surveyed Shalath’enir the world for their allotted span, and wished for a creation
meaning ‘between the seas’, but it is Pannithor, a name of which could surprise him, one which might leave its own
unknown origins, which has survived the test of time and is marks upon the world, perhaps even commune with him. His
still the most prevalent name, across languages, cultures and ambitions were lofty, but after many spans, he had created
species. the first of elven kind. Made to be perfectly pleasing to their
creator in every way, elves were beautiful, intelligent, fierce
It is perhaps to be expected then, that the creation of and talented. So taken was Bhanek with his new creations,
Pannithor itself and the races upon it are lost to the depths that he feared to show them to Shobik. He could not bear
of time. And yet, before the War with Winter, before the God the thought of time stealing away his new children and their
War and even before the Celestians themselves bestrode the beauty, and so he hid them away for many years, flourishing
world, Pannithor and her three noblest races existed under and growing in the heart of what is now Ileuthar, beneath
the auspice of very different gods. While so-called lesser the World Tree, his previous greatest and most lovely
races prevailed, the triumvirate of elf, dwarf and man were achievement.
dominant.
Of course, the elves could not be hidden forever, and when
Though the elves are reckoned the most ancient of the noble his siblings discovered them, there was great consternation.
races, it is the dour dwarfs who have the strongest impression Shobik wanted to destroy what his brother had wrought
of their own creation. To the dwarfs themselves, this is no utterly in his rage. Ohmpek delighted in the detail of his
surprise as they find elves equally as contemptibly in thrall to brother’s work, admiring the beauty and ability of these little
the Shining Ones and their Celestial forebears. To a dwarf, creatures, where Lonok saw them as objects of suspicion.
forgetting one’s own roots and legacy is about the gravest sin Eventually, after much quarrelling, it was agreed that Bhanek
any mortal may commit. should create some other race of creatures which might
The dwarfs have it that they were created from the tears of be given over immediately to the untender mercies of his
the goddess of the Underworld, bereft at her lack of children brother. Appeased, Shobik bade Bhanek make it so. Thus
to call her own. These tears are held to have gathered to form began the creation of man.
a stalagmite in the form of a dwarf, and thus the first of their Dianek meanwhile had remained silent. Her realm beneath
kind was created. There is a certain poetic beauty to the tale the earth was barren, home to great wealth and treasure
that resonates and gives it the ring of truth, speaking as it but no life. Bhanek had no interest in creations he could
does so well to the character of dwarf kind. They are strong not see, nor Shobik in the unaltering depths, and neither
and firm like the rock from which they sprang, yet filled light nor dark nor wind nor ocean made any difference in
with the deep and sombre passion of the goddess whose great the subterranean walls of her realm. Her anguished sorrow
sadness formed them. henceforth brought about the dwarfs, or certainly their shape,
The elves were of course the cause of this grief. Where the and in shame, her fellow Primogenitors heard her tears
dwarfs were formed from the despair of a bereft deity, the and bestowed life and the gentlest touch of time upon them
elves were formed from the sheer joy and unbridled conceit in recompense, giving the dwarfs their sturdy vigour and
of another. Though the gods of old Pannithor were wont longevity.
to engage in many contests among themselves, seeking to Meanwhile, Shobik’s penalty on men, assembled in haste by
outdo one another in the breadth and splendour of their Bhanek and unlovely and emotionally stunted where elves
accomplishments, there was always balance. Bhanek, the were sleek and advanced, gave forth a race which would
Breath of Life in the world, would delight in creating beasts ironically rise one day to dominate the world. For all their
of every type, shape and size - birds in the skies, fish in awareness of mortality and its grim grip on their destiny,

78
individually and as a species, they were driven harder to test
Background
– their command of the breadth and depth of possibilities
its bounds, to escape the embrace of death itself and bestride afforded by magic was unrivalled. But they had no need of
the world as Gods themselves. its use. They were near immortal creatures, capable in their
long lifespans of perfecting any craft to which their attentions
By the time that Bhanek and Shobik realised the sum result were turned. The concept of regret, of feeling as if one’s life
of their endeavours, it was too late. They had set in motion had been lived incompletely, was alien to them. Not so, to
events and circumstances that would prove their undoing. humans.
While men raged and cursed at their limitations, elves Whether it was in fact the love between a human and an
followed their own path. Their immense lifespans and elf which first prompted this obsession with the shortness
uncommon beauty combined with their keen intellects to of span afforded the former is not known, though given the
make all things seem possible to them. Great art, philosophy fact that the first human mages were taught by elves, and
and scientific progress all came easily to them as they bent the closeness that was fostered between such apprentices
their attention to each. As they studied the mysteries of and their masters, it seems likely. Seeing such beauty and
creation, they inadvertently stumbled upon the very power of accomplishment at close hand and knowing that it was the
creation itself – magic. result – among other things – of a lifespan many times that
afforded to themselves, it stands to reason that this would be
Every single thing upon the face of the world is composed
a factor in triggering the obsession with magical resurrection
of matter, in various combinations of the base elements.
and rejuvenation which would eventually morph into the foul
But magic is the binding force, injecting the spark of life
art of Necromancy in all its many forms.
and intelligence into each living creature. Various cultures
describe it as the ‘soul’, the ‘life energy’ or the ‘essence’. It is The elven appetite for knowledge was voracious. They began
only with magic that life may be created from nothing, that to reach out and touch the mortal boundaries of the temporal,
the crude meat, bone and flesh they makes up a human or an and take fleeting glimpses of the spaces between worlds,
elf may become a breathing, sentient creature. beyond even the stars in the skies above them.
The gods had used magic in all their creations. What It was on one such journey that the elves drew the attention
they had never anticipated was that those creations might of the beings known to antiquity as the Celestians.
discover how to harness this power themselves. With such
a miraculous discovery, the elves elevated themselves yet
further above the humans and dwarfs with whom they shared
the world. Early human mages were taught by the elves as
the two noble races became ever more closely entwined with
one another. Though they lacked the lifespan and iron will
of the elves, human mages made up for this with discipline
and focus, driven by fear of their own mortal frames and the
limitations these placed upon them. The elves came to admire
this spirit, indeed it is said that the first love affair between
man and elf came about between an elven mage and his
human protégé. It was however also to birth the darkest and
most dangerous of all the arcane arts – Necromancy.

The knowledge that magic could be used to halt or even


reverse the ravages of time was known to the elves of course

79
Background

80
Background

81
Background

THE TIME OF LIGHT an elven statue as to fall instantly in love and stand transfixed
forever more until they wasted away. Their paintings of this
period were so vivid they almost seemed as windows to the
Precious little is known of the Celestians, save that they were
scenes they depicted, every brush stroke meticulously hidden,
extremely powerful, and not of Pannithor. Some theorise
every colour hauntingly vivid. In music, they devised ballads
that they come from a distant star, the few survivors of some
that could crush their audience with grief in one verse, then
ancient, advanced civilisation. Others say that they came
lift the heart to the highest ecstasy in the next. And in magic,
from another dimension altogether, a mirror world in which
they became accomplished masters, taking to the mystic
mortals had created the gods rather than the other way
arts with the same sense of wonder and discipline as they
around. Others still assert that the Celestians come from the
did all things. It is no coincidence that, to this very day, the
future, the elves’ childlike meddling in powers they did not
mightiest mages in all of Pannithor hail from the elven race.
understand slipping loose the bonds of time itself.
In every way, the elves excelled, mastering all they
Whatever the truth of their origins, the impact of the
turned their hand to in ways which made their previous
Celestians is clear. Even before their arrival, the influence
achievements seem as childish play, and all along they
and power of the old Gods had begun to markedly fade. As
were encouraged by the Celestians, to whom they believed
humans, dwarfs and elves alike spread across the world and
themselves - in their vanity - to be equals.
began to forge their own legacies, their reliance on and belief
in their creators waned. For the elves, this process was more That vanity would eventually cost the elves - and the rest of
or less instant. Their increased delving into magic had seen the world - dearly, but for a time, there was nothing that
them pay less and less attention to their divine overlords and they could not accomplish. The realm of the elves grew and
even their creator himself. With the arrival of the Celestians - sprawled outward, its cities vast monuments to perfection.
all-powerful and all too eager to share their wisdom with the The Time of Light shone at its very brightest.
elves, the use of ‘gods’ eluded them more and more.
Beneath the dark waves of the Infant Sea, buried under
But the Celestians were not content merely to share the the watery grave of Winter’s final spite, lie the ruins of
limited realm of the elves. Such beings would not be the greatest human civilisation ever to have existed –
contained, and spread their attentions across the whole Primovantor. In the Time of Light, Primovantor covered
world, taking in the cultures of humanity and, eventually, much of the globe, and represented the very apex of
even dwarf-kind. The dwarfs were naturally the very last to humanity’s existence on Pannithor, rivalling even the ancient
succumb, isolationism and suspicion built into their very realm of the elves for size. In those dark ruins, preserved in
being, but eventually even they were brought forth by the submerged murals and carvings, lie the records of the heights
wonders which the Celestians could bring. of that civilisation. Driven by their ever-present knowledge of
their own mortality, humans sought the power of magic for
And what wonders they were. The history of each of the noble
their own ends. Art and literature were all well and good, but
races speaks - frustratingly briefly - of the Time of Light; that
humanity sought dominion over life and death itself.
almost mythical time of ancient history in which all three
races united in peace and prosperity, and reached further and However, for a time, the empires of man and elf grew
achieved more than at any time before or since. Those who together in harmony, and the realm of Primovantor - the
know where to look can find more detail. greatest empire of men ever known in the history of the world
– grew ever outwards, covering a large proportion of the globe.
Buried beneath the tower of Therennia Adar, in chambers
Beneath the sprawl of cities and towns composing this mighty
protected by powerful wards, are records of the elves from
empire lay the realm of the dwarfs.
that distant time. Of the great majesty of their magic and art,
the long reach of their exploration as they walked amongst Dwarfs by their nature are an insular people, and this was
the stars themselves and captured their very essence. Mighty ever the case, even during this golden time of plenty. Though
cities of such beauty that mortal men wept at their very they lived in harmony beneath the feet of humans and elves
sight were raised across the whole of their Western domains. during the Time of Light, and treated regularly with both,
Fleets of ships majestically sailed to each corner of the world, they did so guardedly. Some theorise that this mistrust of
mapping every coastline, inlet and island. It was said that outsiders springs from their creation myths, which they take
at its height, the elven Empire’s collective expeditionary more seriously than any other of the noble races. Indeed,
fleets could have stretched around the globe, and allowed though the dwarfs respected the Celestians and were known
a man to walk the circumference without once getting his to make great friends of some, they never really recognised
feet wet. Their energies were also bent to the arts. The elves them as gods, with the exception of Fulgria. For the dwarfs,
created wondrous sculptures so exacting in detail that they Dianek was the only ancient god of note, the one who gave
could drive mortal minds to extremes of love. More than one them life and the one to whom they pray and still give quiet
account exists of men and even dwarfs being so entranced by obeisance to this day. Fulgria is recognised as the Goddess of

82
Fire, worshipped by certain factions within dwarfen society,
Background
the elves learned to visit by magical means (as taught to them
but no other deity approaches the Goddess of the Underworld by the Celestians). He posited that the Celestians knew the
in the affections of her children. paths to these places having emerged from there themselves.
Literally, he claimed that the Celestians had arrived at
Thus, the dwarfs traded with the other noble races in the Pannithor from another plane of existence altogether, seeking
Time of Light, growing their empire beneath those of men refuge from some calamity or other and seeing in this world
and elves who had little reason to complain, having no need an opportunity to rule as deities, easily able to manipulate the
or use for the land beneath their feet. The more bitter-spirited naïve, lesser races which dwelled there.
of dwarf kind maintained then and to this day that the other
noble races looked on them with disdain, seeing them as Certainly, there are elements to the behaviour of the
no better than the spoil and waste they threw beneath the Celestians as it is recorded that invite consideration of
ground. For their part, the dwarfs made good use of their Athalaneus’ observations. The elves were flattered by the
freedom, their empire sprawling out for many leagues. attentions of these new godlike beings, who immediately
They mined precious rocks and minerals, created huge began satiating their desire for knowledge and arcane powers.
subterranean cities and profited from providing some of their In humanity the Celestians found worship and subservience,
innovations to their neighbours. Many cities in Primovantor feeding on the natural superstition of humans borne of their
and beyond benefited from dwarfen plumbing, sewers, and shorter, more violent lives and credible natures. With the
other innovations. Always the dwarfs held back though, dwarfs, the Celestians sought neither worship nor friendship,
largely refusing to involve themselves in the politics and happy to maintain the sort of arms-length relationship typical
affairs of the other races, and mostly treating the Celestians of those dour folk. It was as if the Celestians were simply all
with cautious respect. things to all noble races, knowing exactly which feelings and
instincts to massage in order to maintain their own position
The dwarfs never approved of intermarriage between races. of superiority over all three.
The tendency of humans and elves to freely intermix, though
not common, was often enough to draw the quiet disgust of And it was not as if any of the noble races did not benefit –
the dwarfs. To them, the thought of mixing blood in this way at least for a time. The ministrations of the Celestians, their
is abhorrent. During the Time of Light, it was a subject deftly wisdom, encouragement and gifts, helped to usher in the
avoided by them, and there is certainly no verifiable historical brightest time in the history of all three races, the Time of
record anywhere on Pannithor of a mixed marriage involving Light seeing the very zenith of what could be achieved by
a dwarf. civilised races. Mighty fleets sailed the oceans, endless cities
rose from horizon to horizon, and through the depths as well.
Of the Celestians In that time, there were so many Celestians, and so much
It was during the Time of Light that the Celestians finally prosperity and wonder, that the endeavours of individuals are
displaced the Old Gods of Pannithor by way of their now mostly lost to history. A few notables remain: Liliana,
incredible powers and abilities, as well as their appealing now subsumed into the Green Lady, the Lady herself, and
natures. Well able to command the loyalty of any they Valandor. All achieved great things and performed mighty
encountered, the Celestians were easily able to bend the deeds. And yet none can equal the one name that echoes
wills of the noble races to their own whims. None really loudest down through the ages. A name accursed by all
sought to question how they did this at the time, and few who speak it, the name of he who brought the downfall of
have considered it since. However, the scribe Athalaneus, everything the Celestians had built, for reasons which remain
later committed to the sanatorium for his own safety, wrote disputed and unclear to this very day. Oskan, sometimes
extensively on the God War and its aftermath, making some called the Father of Lies, though this soubriquet would not
interesting observations on the nature of the Shining Ones, be earned by him until after the nefarious events he set in
the Wicked Ones, and on the suggestions each of these made motion.
regarding the original nature of the Celestians.
Athalaneus speaks much of Oskan in his fevered writings.
Firstly, Athalaneus observed that the Celestians seemed, at Whether his ideas are the ramblings of a madman or are
least in his opinion, neither wholly physical nor entirely truly insightful, the truth has been eroded and lost by time.
ethereal. This in and of itself he concluded, disqualified them He asserts that Oskan was the youngest of the Celestians,
from being gods as such – instead Athalaneus asserted that possibly even the child of an unhappy union among their
they were beings of great power, who simply appeared as gods kind. Bitter, and full of loathing both for his own kind and
to the much less sophisticated mortal races of Pannithor at the noble races of Pannithor, Athalaneus writes that Oskan
that time. Claiming to have studied fragmented records stored conceived of a way to destroy both without challenging his
in the Grand Library of Therennia Adar (a claim which first peers himself. Young and weak as he was, barely tolerated
raised the questions as to his mental equilibrium), Athalaneus by his kin, Oskan feared the oblivion of death more than
spoke of strange ‘otherworlds’ and ‘planes of reality’ which anything else. He sought the destruction of his own noble

83
Background

impulses, which he saw as an alien being trapped within Such talent and passion combined with the near immortal
him, so that he could give in to every dark impulse. For this, lifespan of an elf could only end badly. Calisor’s mastery of
he would need a pawn. One fateful day as he wandered the everything to which he turned his hand made the charismatic
sacred glades of Therennia Adar, Oskan crossed paths with young elf prideful, even by the standards of his kind. When
none other than Calisor Fenulian, greatest of his kind and he finally fell in love, it was the unmaking of him and his
the most powerful elf to have ever lived. Oskan could not have era.
found a better pawn for his plans.
Elinathora was daughter to a minor but respected noble,
After Athalaneus was committed to the sanatorium, brought with her father to Therennia Adar’s court when
he continued to write furiously until his death. Upon he accepted his post as envoy to the elves. Her mother had
examination of his cell, works were found carved into every died when she was young, and Elinathora had taken care of
surface by a sharpened rock. One word repeatedly scrawled her father and family from that day forward. Strong-willed,
and scratched out that has continued to baffle scholars and fiercely independent and loyal, she was a remarkable woman
historians alike was the name Reiliur. Many outlandish in her own right, but her station in life had given her no
claims were made, including that Valandor’s twin aspect was expectation of marriage into nobility.
Ba’el, the loathsome general of the Abyssal armies, and that
both would one day return for a final reckoning. Calisor, however, was entranced by the young woman from
the first moment he laid eyes on her in the court of the High
King. He resolved that he must have her hand in marriage at
The Fenulian Mirror any cost, and began a pursuit of the young woman that would
The saga of Calisor and Elinathora is more commonly be the downfall of him and the world he knew.
referred to as the tale of the Fenulian Mirror. There are
almost as many different tellings of the story as there are For her part, Elianthora was respectful, polite, but
stars in the sky, and certainly the details of this epic myth uninterested. Not only did she have her own affairs to attend
differ wildly amongst the different noble races. To the elves, to in looking after her father and siblings, but Elianthora
it is a tragic story of doomed romance, a tale for the ages had a healthy fear of the impact of committing to a life with
of the lengths to which an elf may be driven by love. To an elf, let alone one as mighty as Calisor. Her mortal dread
the humans, it is a tale of the selfishness and arrogance of was to live with a husband who would not only drastically
elvenkind, the horror of an elf not being able to accept the outstrip her in every way – physical and mental – but who
will of a human and instead seeking to override that will would also live for several hundred lifetimes longer than she.
by means of sorcery. To the dwarfs, it is a simple warning Half-elf children tend to take far more of the elf aspect than
of what happens when the other races intermix in the the human, and the thought of children she would never see
way that elves and humans have often been wont to do reach their full maturity, paired with a husband who would
throughout history. The dwarfs view such intermarriage and never age relative to her as she withered and grew old, filled
interbreeding with horrified disdain, maintaining that if only her with horror.
the other noble races could have ‘stuck to their own’ as they
Acquaintances of both begged Elianthora to reconsider,
themselves do, then the world would not be half so full of
including her own father. Here was an opportunity to be
woes.
wedded to the most radiant member of the most radiant race
Nevertheless, regardless of the colour which might shade an on Pannithor save the Celestians themselves. Her father
individual’s viewing of the tale, the salient facts remain the implored her to think of the possible benefits to their own
same. Calisor Fenulian was the most brilliant elf who ever family, their city and their very people. The elves who came
trod the lands of Pannithor. There was no single endeavour to see her were less romantic, confused by how this simple
beyond him - the arcane arts came to him as easily as the human woman could refuse the attentions of their greatest
physical ones, his mastery of warfare was equal to his gift scion. Though not exactly cruel, they were baffled by what
with poetry, and his peerless appearance was matched only by they saw as her temerity – even arrogance – at saying no.
his easy charm and wit. To read the chronicles of Calisor is None could sway her, and nor could the overblown attentions
to read a tale of a being who appears surely mythical in the of Calisor himself, who tried all manner of outlandish gifts
modern age; even amongst his own kin, there are those who and feats to impress the object of his desires. All was to no
question whether any one elf, however gifted, could possibly avail, and the greatest son of elvenkind slipped into a deep,
have been responsible for such a lengthy and varied list of morose depression.
achievements and great deeds.

84
The effect of Calisor’s upset was felt throughout Therennia
Background
The exact nature of the Mirror is disputed by scholars. Some
Adar and the wider elven realm. His people had come to insist that it was a literal mirror, forged through arcane
rely upon Calisor for so many things, not least the simple means from various artefacts but nonetheless identical to
knowledge of his greatness and his steady hand at the tiller its mundane counterparts in basic operation, if vastly more
of so many duties. Eventually, rebuked formally by the High lavish in appearance. Others argue that it was a mighty spell,
King for his inattentiveness to his responsibilities, Calisor the like of which has never been performed before or since,
cast down his symbols of office, wrapped himself in a simple and that the complexities of it were such that it could only be
traveller’s cloak and took to the glades surrounding the city to described to lesser minds than Calisor’s as a mirror in a kind
wander alone in misery. of simplified metaphor. Whatever the truth, and regardless of
the version of the tale being told, certain basic factors remain
Perhaps at this juncture, had he wandered a different way, or the same. The Mirror was suggested to Calisor as a means to
not driven away any who might have otherwise accompanied win the heart of Elinathora, if she would but gaze within its
him, the history of the world might have been written very depths. To create it was an undertaking that would go beyond
differently. This point in the tale is one where the tellings any magic previously attempted by any elf including Calisor
diverge as one might expect. The dwarfs write Calisor off as himself, and would require many exotic and rare elements,
a sulky child, striding forth to pout at not getting his own but rarest of all, the glimmer of the Star of Heaven. This is a
way. The elves tell it as a heartbreaking apex point of the literal translation from every text detailing the event, and the
tragedy, the final breaking of Calisor, body and soul, from wording remains the same in ancient Dwarfish, Elvish and
the anguish of his heartfelt and unrequited love. Men recount Primovantian.
it with bitter cynicism – the first and best example of the
flighty nature of elves, the hubris and arrogance with which Oskan’s caveat – that Elinathora must be prevented from
they view the world and the hollow nature of their capability gazing into the mirror past the singing of a golden bird
in the face of adversity. Regardless, each tale recounts what being heard from its depths – seems to be delivered as an
happened next with equal horror. afterthought, and this would appear to be no accident. Surely,
by that point Calisor was too enraptured by the thought of
his love being returned to notice the oddity of this detail,
or to pay it too much heed. Why Oskan would mention it
at all is another matter which baffles those who study the
tale – perhaps some rule or customary practice among his
kin, or perhaps simply a slip of the tongue motivated by
his nobler self, acting in vain against him. Whatever the
truth, it is unimportant in the context of the legend. Calisor
strode forth from the glades that day with renewed purpose,
and something of his old vigour returned to him. When he
arrived at the Court of the High King and begged the use of
As he wandered, Calisor cursed the heavens, sometimes a mighty fleet and massive resources for his quest, the High
loudly and sometimes beneath his breath. He wandered in King gladly granted both, happy to see the elves’ brightest
deliberate patterns, seeking to avoid contact with any other, and best son returned to something of his old self. It was
though in truth none lived in Adar who any longer had this concession that damned the elves in the hindsight of
patience to speak with him. It was therefore cruel fate, chance the dwarfen telling – had the King been more mindful,
or perhaps something darker that saw the elf happened upon had he paid more attention to the gleam in Calisor’s eye,
by Oskan, when he was in the very nadir of his misery. or questioned him more closely on the nature of his quest,
maybe disaster might still have been averted. The elven
Exactly what passed between them is unknown. Perhaps
telling is predictably more forgiving – the High King was
Calisor vented his woes to the young Celestian – after all,
under much pressure from many quarters in Calisor’s long
he was used to treating with the divine beings on a regular
absence, and his apparent return must have granted much
basis, and would have felt no sense of awe at the Celestian’s
relief.
presence, nor any sense of shame in divulging his sorrows to
him. Perhaps Oskan vented his own feelings of displeasure At any rate, Calisor set forth on his quest, which was to last
with his station among his peers, his unhappiness on several years. He gathered the required materials from far and
Pannithor, his disdain for the noble races and the way they wide, taking each at great cost in resources and sometimes
looked upon his kind. It is clear however that Oskan learned, people. None dared question him, but by the time he declared
one way or another, of the source of Calisor’s misery, and his his quest complete and secluded himself in his private
solution for this was something which would echo down the chambers to commence work, the fleet he had taken was
ages – the Fenulian Mirror.

85
Background

decimated and the coffers of the High King were substantially honour, perfected to her every wish in every last detail, and
emptier. This was of no consequence to Calisor – he had what surrounded by the adoring multitudes of elves, humans
he needed, and the great work could begin. and dwarfs, united in their love for her and devotion to her
husband. She saw children, fine and strong, heroes of the
Legend tells that the world itself shuddered with paroxysms world and loved by all. She saw her beloved father, happier
at each stage of the work. Mighty earthquakes shook the than he had been since the last day her mother had been
very foundations of Therennia Adar, the seas boiled over with them all, and living just as long as she. Every last detail
and flooded inland, and the skies darkened. Nothing could quashed every last one of the convictions she had held against
dissuade Calisor however, and eventually the Mirror was the union, and she reached out to grasp Calisor’s hand even
ready for its final piece. Aiming it at the Star of Heaven one as she remained transfixed by the tableau which played out
fateful night, the Mirror captured the light from the star, before her unblinking eyes. Calisor grasped the hand eagerly,
trapping it, fusing with it, and drawing power from it to fuel so enraptured by this final achievement of his heart’s most
its function. ardent desire that he failed to notice the singing of a bird,
fine in golden plumage, until it was too late.
Whether the light was necessary for the function Oskan
had intimated is unclear. Some posit that the Celestian The images in the Mirror darkened, taking on a different
simply used his own powers of illusion to create the simple aspect than before. A marble tomb appeared, breathtaking
fantasy that would capture Elinathora’s heart, and that the in its stark beauty and bearing Elinathora’s name. Calisor
true purpose of the device itself was the sundering of the noticed the bird, and began trying to drag Elinathora away
Celestians all along. Certainly they enjoyed some special and from the mirror, Oskan’s warning loud in his memories. But
particular link with the Star of Heaven, apparently drawing the woman was planted as if in rock, fixated on the images
their power from it, or possibly even their very essences. which played before her, and he dared not exert force for fear
of breaking her delicate human frame. Horror-struck, Calisor
Whatever the truth, with the light captured, the Mirror was
could only watch as the love so recently born in Elinathora’s
complete, and the next task which lay before Calisor was
heart for him withered and died to be replaced by horror as
perhaps the hardest of all – getting Elinathora to gaze into its
she witnessed the Mirror’s prediction of their union’s end.
polished depths.
In the images, an unkempt and dishevelled Calisor screamed
Once more he found himself frustrated, his wit, charm and
at the sky as he beat his fists bloody on the unyielding
wealth unable to cajole, persuade or bribe her into ascending
marble of the tomb. A flash, and the scene changed to their
his private tower to witness his new marvel. Elinathora had
bedchamber, flash, flash, flash, each one a new woman or
not changed one iota in her convictions, and in truth was
women sharing their marital bed with him, none of them
disappointed. She, like all in Therennia Adar, had heard
even close to her beauty or radiance, all discarded in short
of the new lease of life in Calisor and had hoped that this
order as he sought some physical solace from his pain.
signalled his final acceptance of her rejection, and perhaps
Another flash, and their children appeared, wracked with
even a new love in his life. Now he was again lavishing the
torment at the duality within their very souls. Their eldest
same smothering affections upon her, and it was all she could
son, embittered by his mother’s loss, enraged by his father’s
do to remain polite.
desecration of her memory with his string of lovers, took up
But Calisor was not to be ignored. He pestered Elinathora, arms against him. They met on a blood-drenched battlefield,
and her father. He harangued her friends, her maids and face to face, and Calisor, old now and feebler than ever, was
anyone else who might have any portion of her attention and run through and then crucified. Even his own men cheered
affections. Eventually, after many long weeks of not being as he died, finally rid of their mad master.
able to speak with a single person who would not entreat her
After many minutes, as the jeers of his men at his final gasps
to see Calisor one last time and marvel at his great works,
of agony died to a murmur, Calisor became aware of the
Elinathora relented, presenting herself at his chambers to
sound in the room beside him. Elinathora was screaming,
witness his creation and maybe regain her own life once
the cry of the truly broken tumbling uninterrupted from
more.
her lips as the horror of what she had witnessed battered at
And thus, the inexorable course of history was set. Elinathora her sanity. With a sudden movement, her balled fist lashed
gazed upon the Mirror and saw images which melted her out, smashing the glass of the mirror and splintering it into
heart and turned her every thought towards love for Calisor. a mass of shards which rained down around them. Calisor
Visions came one after another – a life of wondrous and was reeling from all he had witnessed in its depths. The dead
endless invention and adventure. A life lengthened many weight of Elinathora falling beside him brought him back to
times over by Calisor’s attentions and ministrations, and the reality of the room, to the lifeless corpse of his beloved,
a glorious, golden twilight to this magnificent life, lived a shard of mirror buried deep in her heart, her hand resting
out in a vast and beautiful castle raised by Calisor in her atop it.

86
Background

The eventual fate of Calisor is unrecorded, and for the to use as his own weapon, steeped as it was in sorrow and
purposes of the tale itself, unimportant. Though he had been the weight of a life taken by itself in despair, making it a
the greatest of his kind, his hubris had brought about the powerful dark artefact indeed. With it, he ended the life of
worst consequences. Whether the act of capturing the light his nobler half, the first God Murder, imbuing the shard
of the Star of Heaven itself caused it, or the smashing of the with more power still. It is said that he gathered several
mirror by Elinathora in her rage, the outcome was the same – other fragments which would eventually be distributed
the Sundering of the Celestian race, destroying many outright among his Dark brothers and sisters before he was driven
and splitting many others in twain, their nobler aspects away. The remaining splinters were gathered and secreted
removed from their darker ones to create mirror image twins away, though they still appear from time to time as amulets,
of hatred and love which would face one another in a conflict charms, weapons and other artefacts. The genuineness of
that would change the face of the world forever. these artefacts is always difficult to prove – indeed, the
existence of shards of the mirror itself is highly questionable
The Mirror itself is a different matter. The so-called ‘God and hotly debated among scholars. But the fact remains that
Splinters’ are said to be fragments of the Mirror from its some magical artefacts possess unimaginable powers from
smashing. Oskan’s dark aspect himself is said to have plucked unknowable origins.
the very shard with which Elinathora had ended her life

87
Background

THE GOD WAR earthquakes caused by their impacts killed thousands and
smashed the land asunder, creating the islands as they are
now - standing like the upturned teeth of some monstrous
When the Fenulian Mirror shattered, the Celestians were
draconic beast, where once stood a land mass stretching the
either destroyed or split apart, and the conflict known as the
length of the Eastern span of the great elven empire.
God War began.
As the war dragged on, the Wicked Ones looked to find
No war before or since has matched it for intensity, scope
advantage in any way they could. Most mortals had allied
or impact. The blood of mortals ran in rivers of red across
themselves to the Shining Ones and though they were pitiful
the land, the skies remained unnaturally dark, rent by
compared to the might of the Gods, they were many where
thunderclaps which smote the ground and flashes of lightning
the Gods were few.
in colours no human eye could perceive. The oceans rebelled,
tsunamis of foaming waters crashing over entire continents Oskan himself is said to have first created the demon
and vast, monolithic creatures of the deep rising in fury to creatures that would eventually become the Abyssal Hordes,
crush those who had disturbed their stygian depths. The using his own power mixed with shards of the Mirror to
world of Pannithor today first began to take shape from the summon forth living extensions of his single-minded purpose.
scars cut into it by the War between the Gods. Creatures of pure darkness and evil intent, these first demons
were the metaphysical forefathers of the Abyssal fiends and
Oskan was prepared like none of the others, having
beasts known today. Just one of these creatures wielded
orchestrated the construction of the Mirror and the events
enough power to slaughter many times their number, and
that led to its sundering. His own splitting was a dark
Oskan brought forth whole legions of them to blight the
blessing his baser self had longed for, and it was quick to
land. Others sought to copy his example, to greater or lesser
seize the splinter of mirror lodged in the heart of Elinathora
success, creating various creatures and races, some of which
and use it to murder its noble twin. No longer dragged down
persist to this day, others consigned to the darkness of ancient
by the capacity for love of his nobler self, Oskan became a
history. The most successful and enduring of these was the
creature of true darkness.
orcs.
His title, the Father of Lies, came about from his first actions
Created by Garkan the Black, twisted Wicked One of the
of the War. Oskan was powerful, and had the advantage of
Celestian Belkon of the Forge, the orcs were a twisted
expecting the trauma of the Sundering, but he was still not
amalgamation of the aspects and souls of various different
strong enough to take on hundreds of Shining Ones alone,
sentient creatures, ripped apart and spliced back together in
nor was he trusting enough to rely on the assistance of the
the fleshforges to become terrifying beasts.
Wicked Ones. Oskan knew that only a demonstration of
strength and ruthlessness would guarantee his victory, and The orcs, demons and other creatures drawn forth by the
to this end he sought out Shining Ones, pretending to be Wicked Ones saw the God War enter a new, grinding phase
as wounded and confused as they, earning their trust before of attrition. Where before there had been spectacular battles
brutally slaying them. Two dozen fell to his concealed blade, between ethereal beings of unimaginable power, now there
a dagger named Calisor’s Sorrow, before his true nature was was all-out war between all living things, whole continents
widely known. Upon learning of his deeds, the Wicked Ones heaving with the mass of bodies set in combat, shuddering
quickly fell into line under his leadership, while the Shining beneath the tread of millions of boots, hooves and claws.
Ones attempted to rally together to fight against him. Now, Atrocities were committed by the mortals of both sides
the war began in earnest. which would leave deep and enduring scars on their cultural
psyches forever – the dwarfs to this day despise the orc on an
It was the war to end all wars. The mighty heights reached
instinctual level and to a degree perceived irrationally focused
by the civilisations of men, elves and dwarfs ensured a
by the other noble races, due to the massacre at Faeyrnhold.
dizzying fall as they found themselves caught up in this
It is the one matter which unites both the Imperial and Free
conflict between god-like beings. Various legends survive of
dwarfs completely.
some of the epic conflicts, which took place in those dark
times, and shaped the world today – such as the tale of Such slaughter could continue only so long, and eventually,
Eoswain & Zbortan and their duel which raged through the the conflict came to a head when the Hybrid – also known
heavens for years and ended in their plummet to the earth as Domivar the Unyielding, faced Oskan on the great
of the Ardovikian plain, still locked in a fierce combat. It is Northeastern Plains. On the ground, their two titanic armies
said that they still fight to this day, beneath the earth; the clashed in a fight which encompassed almost every remaining
irregular earthquakes felt in the area echoes of their wrath. able-bodied warrior in all of Pannithor. Above, Domivar had
As Tulann shrieked from the heavens, throwing castle-sized assumed his god-like aspect, legacy of his Father Mescator,
boulders down at his imagined foes, the savage tsunamis and and ascended on mighty white pinions to face Oskan.

88
Oskan had become ever more powerful as the slaughter of
Background
Now, as he raised his axe to finish his opponent, Oskan felt
the War had raged on. His infamous dagger was reborn, the monstrous strength begin to leave his swollen frame.
becoming part of a mighty axe bearing the same name. The The swing he delivered was slow, half-hearted, and Domivar
power of Calisor’s Sorrow was augmented by dark forging, was easily able to avoid it. He swung again, and again, but
which had harnessed the cold black of the void between the each swing was wilder, weaker and less focused than the last.
stars themselves. As the blade of this mighty weapon moved, Finally, Domivar grabbed the hilt of the axe and wrested it
it seemed to cut through not just the air, but the very stuff of from Oskan’s trembling fingers. With a rousing cry, Domivar
existence, leaving reality itself bleeding in its wake. dove towards the ground, raising the axe above his head and
bringing it down with all the force his tired muscles could
Domivar wielded his father’s sword, forged from star-iron and summon.
woven with enchantments of strength and power. It had seen
him best every mortal challenger he had faced, but it was not The impact of the weapon upon the earth was devastating.
equal to the task, scratching harmlessly across Oskan’s hide The ground cracked beneath it, splintering for miles in either
until it was caught by a parry from his almighty axe. The direction. The gap widened like a beastly maw, the red glow
blow shattered it, the fragments scattering in an explosive of the world’s very core rising up in a flash of heat. Either
release of Celestian power. side of this gaping wound, the earth itself began to blacken
and die, and the mortal creatures too, hundreds dropping
Oskan bellowed with laughter, savouring the moment of his stone dead or flashing to withered husks. All of the bitterness,
final triumph. This time, Oskan’s arrogance would prove his anger and heartbreak trapped in Calisor’s Sorrow, at the
undoing. Buried within Domivar’s blade had been a final, heart of the evil blade, had been added to a thousand-fold by
terrible secret – a tiny splinter of the shard which had ended the hateful slaughter the axe had made. All that poison was
Elinathora’s life, a piece lodged so deeply in her heart it had anathema to the world it touched, and the rapidly widening
evaded even Oskan when he tore free the larger part of it. wound in the world began to drag everything towards it with
How Mescator had come to possess it, none knew, but he inexorable force, including Oskan, his followers, and his
had ensured that the piece was forged into his sword, using bestial generals. The Wicked Ones, so full of malice, murder
an element of the very treachery that had begun the war to and wickedness, were sucked hungrily down by the maw
visit justice on those who would prosecute it. Whether he had that had formed. Whether this process took minutes, hours,
known his son would end up in mortal combat with Oskan or even days, history fails to record. What is known is that
is unclear, but unnoticed by the Wicked One the shard had when the foul winds from the pit finally died down, and the
flown free when the blade shattered and lodged in his flesh, a surviving mortal creatures were able to venture close enough
mere splinter, an irritant beneath his notice. to see, the body of Domivar, once again human and frail, was
found at the edge, the axe crumbled to dust, and a shining,
irregular silvered fragment clutched in his dead hand. Thus
was the Abyss created, at once a home and a prison for the
Wicked Ones and their foul spawn.

89
Background

90
Background

91
Background

THE TIME OF ICE It was the elves who discovered the source of this unnatural
turn of events. The Wicked One known as Winter, dark
aspect of the Ice Maiden Shakara, had somehow escaped the
Following the banishment of the Wicked Ones, something
Abyss and was waging her own slow war against the world
approaching peace settled on the world, but not the peace of
in revenge for her imprisonment. The elves sent envoys in
previous generations – the existence of new and awful threats
secret to the humans and dwarfs, but their reception was not
like the orcs and their kin, the changed geography of the
favourable. Both races still recalled the disasters which had
world itself and the fall and breaking of the great kingdoms
befallen them as a result of the elves’ actions. Alerted by this
saw to this. Settlements, regions or entire empires had been
activity that she had been discovered, Winter gave up on her
destroyed or cut off. Further, the bonds which had existed for
subterfuge and unleashed the full extent of her powers on the
so long between the noble races were forever weakened. There
world.
was a lack of trust, a sense that each must look to their own,
that had not existed before. Disputes would erupt into battles Winter’s glaciers advanced on civilisation, armies of weird
and all-out wars much more frequently and easily than they and terrifying creatures marching before them. These legions
once had, and this, combined with the need to defend against were headed by Winter’s seven knights, immense elemental
raids from evil creatures, left the world a crueller place. constructs of flesh and frost, bound together with ice magic
and fiercely loyal to the one who gave them life. Faced with
Then came the cold.
this, the old alliances were reborn, albeit much weaker and
It began simply as unseasonable bad weather. Crops failed, less trusting than they had once been. The dwarfs in particular
the levels of the oceans began to drop as water formed remained reluctant for some time, finally agreeing against their
massive ice shelves and the caps of the tallest mountain tops better judgement to join men and elves in this fight when it
began their march downwards, snow and ice reaching down became clear they simply could not avoid doing so.
to the earth in an inexorable advance. Within a year, the ice
Nor could the assistance of the Shining Ones be counted
was covering much of Pannithor, all sense of seasons gone,
upon. Much of their power had been expended during the
and the world was in the grip of a devastating, endless cold.
God War, and some were mere fragments of their former
selves, with wandering attentions and minds. The one shining
hope of the age was Valandor.

92
Valandor had appeared amongst the noble races in the
Background
Valandor waited until the last moment, until a blade flowed
aftermath of the God War, and was revered among them into cruel existence from the tips of Winter’s fingers and
all. To the Primovantians, he was the essence of humanity’s rested a hair’s breadth from his bowed head, before he made
potential distilled, a great warrior and magic user and his move. Winter’s mocking laughter ringing in the frozen
a supreme general. To the elves, he was a brother, an air, he surged forwards with explosive force, hammering into
elf somehow separated from his kin but still of them, a his erstwhile sister with immortal flesh and ethereal power,
supremely gifted artist and mage. To the dwarfs, he was a sending her backwards, surprised and angry. He had awaited
spiritual kin, a craftsmen of rare skill even by their exacting this opening for many months, and he could not afford to
standards and the only non-dwarf they would truly trust and waste it. Doubling the concentration of his power, he rained
embrace as a friend. down blows on Winter. Recovering herself from the shock,
Winter responded, and the battle began in earnest, two
Valandor was not keen to dispel the perceptions of any of demigods fighting on every plane at once, magical, mental
the three races, and less keen still that they should discover and physical, locked in combat. Their soldiers stood and
not only his identity as a Shining One but also that his watched on, all thought of battle forgotten as their generals
Wicked One counterpart was one of the most hideous and fought. Winter had the benefit of freshness, Valandor having
reviled generals of the Abyssal hordes. He worked tirelessly been fighting constantly for many years. But Valandor was the
to try and mend relations between the three noble races, more experienced, having tested his mettle against every type
and thought he was making substantial progress when his of beast sent forth by Winter. None of her tricks would catch
erstwhile sister Winter revealed her hand. him, and he knew her well enough that her prowess was no
guarantee of her victory. He pressed forward, and she became
In the war that followed, Valandor was everywhere. Legends
reckless as frustration took hold of her, seeing her victory
of the War against Winter among all the noble races speak
being slowly wrestled from her grasp.
of his presence, shoring up defences, weaving his magic
and facing the enemy in open battle. Such ubiquity was a When the opening came, Valandor hesitated, still loath after
necessity, as the very elements bent to Winter’s will and all this time to end the life of a fellow. His blade rested
she was able to send forth her armies across the span of the on her neck as she stared defiant murder back at him. He
world. Valandor knew as he faced each force and defeated expected a curse, or maybe a plea for her own life to fall from
each foe, he was just biding time – only by finding Winter her frost blue lips. Instead, she merely glared, face twisted in
and confronting her directly could the war be ended. As a wicked grin. In his mind’s eye, he saw the image she sent
he stood shoulder to shoulder with the elves at Lethuia, him, the death of his brothers and sisters, many at her hands,
facing down a legion of Ice Giants, he knew the battle during the God War, and he shoved the blade forward hard.
was immaterial. As he commanded the garrison at Sathoi She shattered, disappearing in a flurry of ice shards behind
repelling ten thousand capering frost sprites, he knew victory a blinding flash of ice magic. A bitter laugh echoed across
was essential but meaningless. As he helped construct the the field, and the first ominous rumble from the glaciers
bulwarks at Dolgarth against the encroaching glaciers, he surrounding them confirmed Valandor’s worst fear. Winter
knew it would never be enough. had bound her world-consuming ice to herself, body and soul
– with her defeat, so too came the immediate dissipation of it
Winter was cunning, hiding from view and sending her
all, melting away with a speed entirely unnatural. The Great
minions forth to do her bidding. She knew full well that
Inundation began.
Valandor represented her one true foe, and she had little
intention of facing him openly until she had worn him down. Valandor, already taxed almost to his very limits, now found
Endlessly she threw forth her armies, accompanied by the himself once again rushing to defend the world. At Therennia
very ice itself moving over every surface. The war dragged on, Adar, he raised a mighty wall to save the inner city from
and the world slowly began to strangle under the iron grip of the raging flood waters, though he was able to save little
the ice. else. At Basilea, he thwarted and diverted what he could,
but still vast swathes of the old Primovantan Empire were
Finally, at the battle of Ileuthar, Valandor stumbled as
lost to the Infant Sea as it was birthed from the rising flood
he repelled the fifth charge that day from a horde of Ice
tides. Everywhere he went, Valandor failed as much as he
Demons. His spells of protection wavered as he went to one
succeeded, and much of the old world, already scarred by the
knee, and suddenly Winter was there, resplendent in a cloak
God War, was lost beneath the unnatural floods of Winter’s
of ice daggers, eyes burning like cold fire and a wicked smile
Final Gift.
across her features. She stalked towards Valandor, power
building in her clenched fists, the air crackling with tension
as the elves looked on in horror.

93
Background

THE AGE OF CONFLICT


The world of Pannithor turned on, and a new age The elven kindreds struggle to unite and function
began – one forged in pain and conflict. The ranks of as a whole, the previous glories of Primovantor are
the half-gods, both Shining Ones and Wicked Ones, long gone, and the dwarfs have hardened their hearts
were thinned, but they survive still and their numbers against the surface world. The threat of resurgent orcs,
grow. The conflicts of the ancients have re-wrought the goblins and other hideous beings is never far away,
world time and again, offering fresh territories to man, nor is the fear of the undead marching to war. As
dwarf and elf alike. While some view the age as one of the peoples of Pannithor find their way in the world
rebirth, the midwives in attendance are war and strife. and fight bitterly for their existence, the ever present
hell-scar of the Abyss looms large, and the predations
Old oaths have been broken, alliances forgotten. Where of the beings known as the Nightstalkers are an ever
once the three Noble Peoples were united under the increasing menace.
banners of vast empires, they now bicker and squabble,
fighting amongst themselves, carving meagre territories
in lands plagued by violence and darkness.

94
In the madness of new boiling seas and flooding plains,
Background
grew and the earth began to heave and buckle with an
Valandor was lost to the onrushing tides. None know at what almighty crack. The gaping chasm in the earth began to
exact point he finally succumbed, but none doubt that much tear its way through new ground and countless hordes of
less of the world would endure today without his efforts. Abyssal monsters spilled forth to devour everything before
When his body was recovered near the Brokenwall Islands, them. Never had such vast numbers of demon spawn been
it was borne with full ceremony to its final resting place atop seen before and the horrors that were unleashed triggered
the Tower of Walldeep, where it has rested there ever since. cataclysmic events across the land as the Forces of Good and
Mounted on a high, ornate plinth, and reclining on a carved the will of the Green Lady fought to halt the monumental
couch, his body lies pristine in state – free of the effects of destruction being wrought, while vile races sought to take
age or time, and the focus of much adoration from millions advantage.
of pilgrims each year who come from far and wide to venerate
the Hero of the Winter War. The war raged for many years, and even the Green Lady was
pushed to the point of exhaustion and despair - the taint and
With Winter seemingly vanquished, and with the world spread of the Abyss seemed inexorable. Slowly, the forces of
changed once again, the noble and lesser races alike began Good, bolstered by the support of the Green Lady and her
to rebuild. Primovantor was shattered, and no kingdom of followers, pushed the demonic legions back through the lands
man has yet to approach its majesty and glory. The elves charred black by their passage and on towards the burning
were irrevocably split into distant kindreds, their once great chasm. The Green Lady sensed the cracks appearing in the
realm scattered across the world. The dwarfs were sundered dark magics impelling the invasion and, with the Thuul
into different factions, many of their old Holds destroyed or Arch-Mythicans of the Trident Realm, enacted a desperate
abandoned either in the war or its aftermath. The forces of plan. Gaining the reluctant acceptance of those who would be
darkness alone grew bolder, as their foes found themselves most affected, the Green Lady instructed the Thuul to begin
divided and weaker than ever before. their rituals. Through them, she awakened and channelled
ancient, forbidden magic, a distant memory from her previous
The Flooding of the Abyss incarnation in Celestian form. The Frozen Sea, north of the
Abyss and the Steppe began to seethe and boil. As ancient
As time flows through the world and drives the endless
ice sheets gave way, the Green Lady wept for the lives lost
cycle of birth and death, civilisations rise and fall, heroes
and the sacrifice of the earth as a tsunami the likes of which
and villains write their small passages in the history books
had not been seen since the creation of the Infant Sea, swept
of their descendants and the influence of the Abyss waxes
ferociously across the Steppe and flooded the hell-scar in an
and wanes. At its worse, the region is a malignant threat,
unstoppable deluge. The chaos that had been unleashed upon
simmering with wicked potential. At its worst, when the
the world had been halted.
winds of magic strengthen alongside unimaginable cosmic
alignments and the thinning of reality’s barriers against the Eventually, the flood-waters dissipated and the extent of the
other planes of existence, the Abyss will vomit forth legions of damage was revealed. The tortured lands around the Abyss
foul demons to lay waste and inflict their evil upon the world. had swelled in many directions and the great rent in the
Due to its location, the region of Mantica, ancestral home to world had opened far into new territory. A decade on and
the Noble races, the empires and peoples here have suffered the aftershocks from the rending of the earth are still felt in
the most. Ancient texts, found hidden in dusty, long forgotten northern Basilea, the Halpi mountains and along the coast of
libraries make mention of far off places with worrying the Frozen Sea. Many lands remain uninhabitable.
descriptions that resemble the hellfire of the great wound in
the land. It is postulated that if such places exist, they may be While the forces of the Green Lady and her allies lick their
collateral damage from the aftershock of Domivar’s victory. wounds and rebuild, the agents of the Wicked Ones are
Such fears are easily dismissed as rumour or idle fancy. The gathering their strength once more. The Abyssal Dwarfs have
Abyss in Mantica is certainly a horrifying reality. raised a new fortress city, Tragazahk, that guards the hellish
chasm that now reaches deep into Tragar. From here and
Twelve hundred years after the war with Winter, Pannithor their other strongholds of Deiw and Zarak, fresh new legions
was plunged into its darkest period since that cataclysmic are preparing to march north behind a vanguard of ratkin,
age. After centuries of magical preparation, the sacrifice of slave orcs and worse, as the Wicked Ones turn their attention
countless slaves and the forging of new and deadly artefacts, to the city of Chill.
the influence of the Wicked Ones over their infernal prison

95
Background

96
Background

97
Background

OF MAGIC
Some describe it as the soul. Others as the spark of life. These, and Of course, darker forms of magic lurk in the hearts of all mortals,
a hundred other poetic descriptions of the primal element known but foolish indeed are those who seek to pursue such paths. The
as Magic, fail to fully capture the complex beauty and intricacy of art of Necromancy is more varied than the uneducated assume -
the thing. Even elven language, with all of its subtlety and nuance, some practitioners seek the departed soul of the subject and drag
cannot fully capture the true depth of Magic. it back to its mortal shell. Others learn to split their own essence,
transferring shards of their own soul to the shell of the departed.
Just as a smithy controls fire in his furnace, and a farmer manages Still others steal the energy required from the living to puppet the
the earth to cultivate his crop, so an experienced mage can exert corpses of the dead. Whatever the precise form of Necromancy
their will upon magic to achieve all manner of things. Being the practised, the focus and energy required mean that only the
pure stuff of life, Magic is a powerful and unpredictable energy, most talented and well-trained can hope to master the art, and
and only those properly trained in its application, manipulation this means that Necromancers tend to be singularly dangerous
and use can even hope to properly control it. individuals. It is seldom that any mortal seeks dominion over the
It is a common belief that some special natural ‘talent’ for magic dead with noble motive, and indeed some of the greatest threats to
is required in order for this training to be given. Indeed, various the order of the world have come from practitioners of this dark
traditions exist the world over in different societies, and even in art. From Mhorgoth the Faceless to Mortibris himself, powerful
different colleges or ‘factions’ within the same society, to choose Necromancers have been a dread threat to the noble races.
those deemed ‘worthy’. In the Golden Horn, the Order of the The dwarfs tend to avoid magic - ingrained within their culture is a
Ardent Light takes apprentices only from noble families whose belief that only work done by the sweat of the brow and the strain
lineage can trace some connection back to Valandor himself. of the sinew is honest. Their natural distaste for adopting any of the
In Therennia Adar, only the first-born sons and daughters of practices or customs of other races also feeds into this reluctance,
noble houses are considered able to take on the mantle of mage. and the legend of Calisor Fenulian is to them a cautionary tale
The truth is, with enough discipline, training and focus, many of the excesses an individual is wont to pursue and the disasters
individuals can master the art of controlling magical energies, that may arise from an over enthusiasm for the arcane arts.
though the extent of their abilities will be bound by the limits of Nevertheless, like all mortals, they are physically able to harness
their endurance, their physical prowess and their mental capacity. the mystical energies of the world, though few actually do so. In
Thus it is that orcs and goblins have their crude magics, and those dwarfs, with their particular affinity with the earth and the stone
races in the alliance of nature may make use of arcane powers. on which all of the world rests, this manifests itself in an incredibly
Such usage is done in a less regimented and more ‘natural’ way esoteric way, which the dwarfs themselves refer to as being
than by men and elves - for orcs and goblins, the crude energy ‘stonewise’. Individuals so afflicted can be dangerous left unchecked
of their creation tends to cause a natural build up when many of – their talents can cause seismic shifts in the earth and rock of a
them gather, and their shamans act almost as lightning rods for hold – and they are rightly viewed with a mixture of suspicion, awe
this energy, directing it as much by instinctual reaction as any form and fear by others in their society. Nevertheless, once taken in by
of planning. For the forces of nature, including the druidic and the Order of Stone and taught to properly channel and control
shamanic orders, the flow of magic is simply part of the natural the power they possess, they become immeasurably useful parts of
balance of life, another thread to master the ebb and flow of, acting the dwarf arsenal. Theirs is the power to control the very earth
as a conduit rather than attempting anything so crude as control or itself, and they are taught to harness this by summoning Earth
direction. Elementals – terrifying semi-sentient constructs of earth and stone
bound by magic and sent forth to smash apart the enemies of the
Dragons too derive much of their power from magic, for how else dwarfs in battle.
could a biological creature conjure fire from its lungs or exert its
will upon other living things merely with a gaze? As dragons age, Magic is simply a part of life on Pannithor, wherever one may
their aptitude for these arts increases, meaning the older the dragon wander. Such has been the scope of the magical conflicts between
the more dangerous it becomes. It is for this reason the elves of gods and mortal races, between gods and gods, that the world
Alandar bond with dragons when they are almost freshly hatched - remains positively soaked in this most vital and volatile of elements.
it would be folly indeed even for one of these fabled dragon masters
to attempt to exert their will over a fully mature dragon and expect
to live.

98
Background

99
Background

The Forces of Good


Among the noble peoples of Pannithor, there is universal agreement on just one point – that the Time of Light was good. Since
those ancient days, through the God War, the Time of Ice, the Winter War and the Age of Conflict, evil has spread steadily
through the world, purveyed by its despicable agents. It is only the forces of good that stand in their way, who seek to stem this
flow, who would see evil banished from the world and Pannithor returned to a state in which goodness prevails.
Of course, even among these races there are those who are more inclined to evil, whose hearts are tainted with the allure of the
darker side of things – such is its corrupting nature. Nevertheless, in the following pages you will find details of the races which,
as a people, as a whole, pull collectively towards the light.
100
Background
Basilea
The Fall of Primovantor Some of the glory of Primovantor did survive, in Basilea,
the Eastern portion of the Republic. Basilea persists to this
The Grand Republic of Primovantor was the greatest day, albeit in much diminished form and certainly not as a
civilisation not only of Man, but in all of Pannithor’s long republic, but as the hidebound Hegemony. The twin cities
history - at its height covering a third of the known world, of Primantor and the Golden Horn, perched atop their
rivalling Elvenhome and the mightiest dwarf Holds in size, mountainous bedrocks, were spared the scouring of Winter’s
power and opulence. floods. Primantor stands to this day as a monument to the
follies of that long-forgotten age. The Golden Horn became
A grand coalition of nations ruled by an elected senate
the centre of humanity’s rebirth in the years following the
and headed by the High Consul, it was a place of high art
Great Flood, its succession of rulers struggling to bind their
and high science, a beacon of hope against the relentless
people together in the face of threats from every direction.
chill of Winter’s Age of Ice, the last era of the God War.
The Celestians themselves had been friends to the learned
scholars of Primovantor, and humanity’s power was at its very
apex.

The men of this time were long-lived and keen-minded.


Nearly a thousand years after the republic collapsed, its feats
of magic and art have yet to be matched. The Primovantians
learned much from the elves, and gave them much in
return. From their mountain home of Primantor, the early
Primovantians brought as many lands into their Republic by
diplomacy as by conquest. All citizens were treated equally
under her laws, no matter whether they willingly joined or
their country had been defeated in war, and it flourished
because of it. Every man who fought for Primovantor did so
willingly, to protect a land they were proud to call their own.

It was the High Consul of the Primovantians who urged the


ending of Winter, and thus sealed the fate of his own land.
By that point in history, the God War had ravaged much of
its lands, the splitting of the Celestians hitting the republic
harder than any other place. Some say that it was a mercy of
sorts when Primovantor sank beneath the waves of the Great
Flood, wiping clean the bloated and fragmented place that it
had become.

Winter’s War finished the Republic, and the provinces north


of the Dragon’s Teeth mountains were ground to clay under
the ice, its rich southlands drowned by the sea.

101
Background

The Birth of Basilea Whether his plea caught the fickle Shining Ones in a
favourable mood by chance, or whether there was something
After the events of the God War and the ruinous scouring different in his cries that moved them, none will ever know.
of Winter’s floods, the belligerent dwarfs had retreated But what happened next passed forever into legend. The spirit
underground, determined no longer to involve themselves of Domivar himself – the son of Mescator and the hero who
in affairs outside their own. The elves fragmented along smote the Wicked Ones into the Abyss at the end of the God
the lines of the shattered remains of their former glories, War, appeared before Bolisean, and asked him to repeat his
concerned more with their own survival than the matters of oath, sealing it with his own blood in the sacred ground on
lesser races. In the face of this abandonment, men fought which he knelt. Without thinking to pause, Bolisean sliced
creatures of the Abyss, marauding orcs and goblins, and even open his palm on the jagged end of his sword, allowing
the savage men of the steppes, alone. Humanity teetered on several drops to mix with the wet filth of the ground.
the brink of extinction many times over those dark centuries,
surviving by dint of sheer tenacity. Even the Shining Ones, The reaction was instant. The rains stopped with a thunder-
the broken remains of their former patrons the Celestians, crack of pressure and a blinding flash of lightning. As the
had become unreliable and fickle. eyes of all present adjusted in the aftermath, it was to the
sight of thousands of Elohi, the winged warrior guardians of
It was at the last, when all hope seemed lost, when the the Shining Ones, standing ready over the men of the Golden
Hegemon Bolisean’s armies were exhausted, surrounded and Horn. The orcs faltered, and were destroyed. The magnificent
cut off by a far larger orc horde, that the balance shifted. and terrible creatures overwhelmed them with violence and
Bolisean was alone, his guards smashed into the mud, a fresh fury that even their savage nature could not match.
charge of orcs pounding towards him, and his blade shattered.
Slumping to his knees, Bolisean threw his head back and The pact had been made in blood, and on that bloody field at
bellowed a plea to the lightning-streaked skies above for the the edge of their protectorate, the realm of Basilea was born,
Shining Ones to descend and save him and his people. In Bolisean becoming the first Hegemon of this new empire of
return, he offered the eternal and heartfelt fealty of him and men.
his people to the Shining Ones as the true gods of humanity.
Since that day, Basilea has been the last shining bastion of
humanity, the centre of man’s power and learning, and the
upholder of the traditions of Primovantor, in whose shadow it
persists.

102
Background

103
Background

Here follows an extract from the diary of Hegemon Bosilean at the battle of Antovar, may he forever be blessed in
life and in death, in memory and in prayer.
Day 47 The enemy is fierce and hardy. I have
repositioned the arbalests and dispatched
We broke camp at dawn. I began this day in
cavalry to probe their flank in kind.
low spirits. Bad weather continues to make the
road difficult. We marched this morning. The ~
soldiers sang. The fighting continues. Each of their charges
We halted at the village of Larroway, joined comes harder than the last. Endless ranks of
by three companies of Paladins. Impressive disorderly Gore and Ax. Trolls and worse have
fellows. Our full force is assembled, some 23 been sighted. The Sisters have not returned.
battalions under arms, not counting the cavalry The enemy has darkness as its ally, this is
divisions of the Sisterhood. certain. May our bold hearts prevail.
My main desire was to write letters home. I
Day 50
have allowed the men to build fires and cook
soup. I shall spend today at prayer, and I We formed columns and struck at their left
have advised my captains to do likewise. This flank. I led the attack myself. The enemy was
will be our last day of rest. stopped directly, only to pivot and counter to our
~ right. Fighting continued all day. I have little
energy to write.
Our respite was short-lived. Word of a rear-
guard action has reached me. I have sent for Day 51
clarification of these reports. This cannot be
correct. Their tribal nature does not leave them without
the wit of war. The fighting is desperate,
Day 48 our losses severe. We are at half strength,
perhaps less. I must assist in tending to our
No further reports have reached us. We broke
many casualties myself.
camp and marched 11 hours to improve our
position. We crossed a wide, shallow river. Its ~
waters ran black. The men were silent at this. To my surprise, the fighting has abated. Night
40 men fell ill, 3 have since died. The rest are has fallen. Their war drums echo across the
completely exhausted from fatigue. There was valley. The battalion commanders are a woeful
no singing today. sight to behold. Brave men reduced to wide-
We halted at Antovar. Here there is little wood eyed ruins, gaunt faces flickering in the dying
for cooking, and we managed few fires. The sky candlelight. I am preparing my morning address.
churns with darkness. Many ill omens befall us They look to me now, as I look to the Shining
this day. And Rain. A heavier downfall I have Ones.
not seen.
Day 52
~
Rain all night. This, and rats, prevented us from In the dawn light our forces appear pitiful
sleeping. We turned our attention to an account indeed. I have not slept for the groaning of our
of supplies. Low, as we expected, but on full wounded. The rain continues, whipped into a brutal
accounting not so low as to cause alarm. spray by incessant winds. I struggle to focus
my mind. My faith is with me yet.
Day 49 ~
The first raid came shortly before dawn. How The first engagement of the morning has come
can the orcs be this far south in such force? to pass. The heaviest yet. I must rest. There
is no time. My scouts report the enemy in force
Disguised by thunder, a heavy charge of foul
on all sides. I send riders, they do not return.
gore-riders hit us. Their battle-drums striking
We are surrounded. There is no hope of supply
at our resolve. Our line broke, the enemy being
or relief. We cannot withstand another charge.
repelled only by our knights. This drew cheers
from the remaining men-at-arms, but I am not I hear the drums again...
satisfied. We inflicted few casualties. It was
a probe, nothing more.

104
Background
BASILEA TODAY But alongside the purest aspect of true faith and benevolence,
Basilea has its sinister side too. Free thinking of any kind is
not easily tolerated, and Basilean culture therefore remains
Conservative by nature and paralysed by ritual it may
hidebound and unchanging. Periodic panics about agents of
be, Basilea still reflects some of the ancient glories of
the Wicked Ones sweep the nation, leading to innocent and
Primovantor. Its cities are the largest, its princes the
guilty alike being condemned to death by mass drowning
richest, its mages the most powerful of all the kingdoms
in the Cleansing Pools. The Hegemon does not rule
of Men. Basilea insists that it is the only true protector of
unchallenged; blood feud is all too common, driven by fires
Primovantor’s legacy.
of honour and religious fervour that cannot be quenched.
While some temples are still maintained to the long-gone Orcs press upon Basilea from the north, while relations with
Celestians in Basilea, the worship of their good aspects, the the dwarfs to the east are at their lowest ebb. And atop their
Shining Ones, is an integral part of life. It is a kingdom pillar of stone, the Shining Ones watch, for the most part
where time has stood still, where some of the glories of the silent. Protectors of Mankind, some say, capricious immortals
elder days might still be found. Noble Paladins devote their who toy with the lives of lesser beings, say others.
entire lives to battle and prayer, undergoing arduous quests to
prove their purity to the Shining Ones. Many Orders of the The People of Basilea
Sisterhood guard the borders. Purity, courage and strength Being a people watched over by literal gods, the Basileans are
are the watchwords of these warrior virgins. both pious and conceited. It is difficult not to feel arrogant
The Hegemon of Basilea is king and high priest both. It when one has beings of such power at one’s back, and it is
is within his power to appeal directly to the Shining Ones. equally difficult not to have faith when your gods manifest
These remaining noble aspects of the Celestians dwell atop physically before you. The Golden Horn is full of churches,
the mountain of Kolosu, an impossibly high pillar of rock, and the faith holds great temporal power. It is through the
and from there they watch over the Hegemony. They rarely Shining Ones’ power and guardianship that the Hegemony
manifest directly, instead choosing to send an avatar or has persisted these last nine hundred years, and none of
emissary in their stead, even in these lesser times. More its people are soon likely to forget this. Its position as a
often, they will choose to send their servants to the aid of the trade route and its importance as a central hub in human
Basilean armies, should the occasion warrant it. These are the civilisation, combined with the reliance of smaller, satellite
Elohi, angelic beings of immense power, who appear in the states on its protection, have seen Basilea grow rich and
guise of beautiful, winged humans armoured all in gold. In powerful. Though it may never truly rival the scale and sheer
war they are all but unstoppable, as terrible in combat as they majesty of the old Primovantor, Basilea is undoubtedly one of
are merciful and kind out of it. the wealthiest nation states in all of Mantica, if not the whole
of Pannithor.

105
Background

The Armies of Basilea the Brotherhood’s fortresses. The Brotherhood as it was has
fragmented and a fledgling new order now stands guard on
The Basileans are adherents of the Shining Ones, and large the north-eastern fringes of the Hegemony as the first line of
numbers of paladins, warrior monks and battle nuns are defence against future incursions.
found in their armies. The angelic Elohi fly above the hosts
of Basilea, lending their pure voices to the battle hymns of On the border with Tragar, in land ceded to the new order
holy warriors, and their strength to the army’s assault. and designated The Brothermark, many of the ruined
fortresses are being rebuilt and reinforced by this newly
Basilea’s wealth means that its footsoldiers march to war formed force. Due to this defence line’s importance, garrisons
clad in the finest plate and bearing the very best weapons from Basilea have integrated with former Brotherhood
that money can buy. Vast armies of them march to protect soldiers and are assigned to its guard. The pennants of the
its borders, bolstered by the elite religious warriors of the Order of The Brothermark now fly high over the towers of St.
Paladins on foot and atop mighty warhorses, and the fanatical Victor Dupont, continuing their steady vigil against the forces
sisterhood, fighting on foot or riding to battle mounted on of evil.
war panthers or chariots pulled by these magnificent, if
terrifying apex predators. Their war machines are intricate With these forces alone, Basilea could endure for centuries as
and well built, and their magical support can rival the best, one of the great powers of Pannithor. When the forces of the
Basilea having the highest concentration of magical colleges Shining Ones are added, the eternal supremacy of the Golden
anywhere in the world. Horn is assured. Elohi march alongside the troops of Basilea,
living manifestations of divine fury, each the equal of many
Following the flooding of the Abyss and the near total dozens of men. It is no surprise that Basilea has become as
destruction of the lands and fortresses of the Brotherhood, arrogant as it is fervent. There are simply no powers in the
the political schemers of Basilea quickly began courting the world who can match it. For now.
remaining Exemplars, offering their support in rebuilding

106
Background

Dwarfs
It is a common mistake amongst the peoples of Pannithor to
fancy that they know the dwarfs. Scholars and poets across
many lands happily parrot the old conceits: that the dwarfs
embody the mountains they hail from, that they are as
enduring as stone and that their backs are as strong as the
spines of the ranges they mine; that their wisdom is timeless,
their valour impeccable, and that their realms shine with
the uplifted wealth of a thousand kingdoms of men. These
might well serve as facts but do those who speak them truly
understand the stout, strong armed, gravelly voiced wanderers
that appear in metropolitan cities such as the Golden Horn
of Basilea? Can they reconcile the image of the ancient and
hardy people famed for their great martial virtues, whimsical
fondness for alcohol, and stalwart opposition to evil with
the dread that churns in the stomach at the mention of the
mighty dwarf king Golloch and the swelling of his empire of
subjugation? Such academics and artists are forced to admit
that the gulf between these two visions of dwarfhood are deep
indeed and that the actuality of the dwarfen character and
the culture that informs it is not quite so simple as either
extreme suggests.

110
Background

have and for the wasting of her passions on childless eternity.


The Great Pastime of Smoking Her tears stained the very rock of her deep realm. In the
strange admixture of divine sorrow, immortal desire, the
Mining, brewing, and craftsmanship spring readily to
elements of stone, the salt of enchanted tears, and the icy
the minds of outsiders when considering what must
cold chill of deep-flowing water, a stalagmite took shape and
surely be the wealthiest and most respected industries
became magically fertile. In awed disbelief, the goddess pared
amongst dwarfkind. They are not wrong; however,
away the mound of stone and what her hands drew forth from
the dwarfs themselves know that those clans with
the rocky afterbirth was a creature of noble aspect, inborn
an ancestral claim to the so-called ‘smoke trade’ are
with all of her wisdom and love for deep places and earnest
amongst the richest and most influential in any region
labours, a mistrust for the ephemeral sky and a resolute
they operate in.
kinship with the hard, reassuring earth. Now the goddess
Even the most casual observation reveals dwarfs as keen wept for joy, and so were born the dwarfs.
smokers. Only the rarest and most outlandish of dwarfs
The fullness of this myth is extraordinarily detailed and
goes far without a pipe and weed-pouch at his hip and
has been reproduced without variation or dispute as long as
the vaulted ceilings of grand dwarfen halls are thick
dwarfen history records. It is reflective of key dwarfen values.
with the warm blends of a hundred different flavours of
They see themselves as the rightful heirs of the underworld
exhalation. Every hold is riven with smoking chambers,
and all that is within it. It seems to champion the virtues of
asheries, and pipe-guild outlets. Dwarfs will typically
isolation and that great things can come of one’s own will and
smoke every chance they can get and consider being
one’s own hands. That they record it so meticulously is also
seen with a pipe between their lips a sign of good sense
quite telling for it is a romantic tale and dwarfs are certainly
and virtue. In fact, it is popularly thought that a dwarf
not given to romance. The poetry of the dwarfs is criticised
who does not smoke is somewhat strange and perhaps
for being utterly bland and lacking all nuance. The dwarfs see
has spent too long surface-gazing and has lost his taste
these criticisms as high praise. It is often claimed by dwarfen
for ‘the breath of Fulgria’. This is sometimes employed
balladeers and singers that their people have a deep love for
as a backhanded slight against rangers who, while they
the well-crafted word but to the dwarfen mind well-crafted
do smoke, are resented for forbidding the use of pipes
means direct and unambiguous; its true meaning instantly
while leading dwarf forces on scouting trails or in
and completely evident to any who encounter it.
ambush.
The literalist approach to language can also be seen in
The crafting of pipes and the cultivation of tobacco
the great crafts of the dwarfs. Everything from utensils, to
and other similar plants is a major concern in dwarfen
clothing, to weapons all possess a direct practicality that
economies and members of such clans and guilds are
makes elven and human crafts seem frivolous. This is not to
often placed shoulder to shoulder with great Warsmiths
say that the dwarfs do not enjoy decoration. Indeed, one of
and renowned brewers on ruling councils and tribunals.
the great dwarfen past-times is displaying one’s wealth, and
gold inlays and silver trim abound on all sorts of objects.
What can be said with complete certainty is that dwarfs are However, such ornamentation never betrays function or form.
an intensely private people. Even those that live amongst Dwarfen jewellery might be considered an exception as they
humankind or as transient warriors upon the roads of the are greatly fond of filigree and ostentation on their torcs and
world let little slip of their true thoughts. Even at their most bands. Of course, it could be argued that such opulence is the
drunken excesses a dwarf will speak little to non-dwarfs of form and function of jewellery and in that case the dwarfs are
his own private thoughts. This is mirrored on a societal level just as direct as ever.
as few non-dwarfs will ever come to know how the dwarfs
live, what they feel, or even much of how they think. Their The greatest of all of the dwarfen crafts is undoubtedly that
kingdoms, weather lauded or feared, are the very essence of of war. To look at a dwarf is to see a figure that is made for
true secret societies; rising, warring, and sometimes falling in the labours of battle. They are very muscular and tough;
complete seclusion beneath the earthen crust of Pannithor. their bones are dense and difficult to break. Their hands and
wrists are large, dextrous, and dwarfs are almost impossible
This penchant for secrecy is deeply rooted in dwarfen history for other folk to grapple with or overpower. They are, of
and is reflected in one of their creation myths. The dwarfs course, short; their compact frames give them a low centre of
have it that the goddess of the underworld – which to dwarfs gravity that is planted squarely on steady legs and sturdy feet.
signifies not an Abyssal hellscape but the deepest reaches They are broad of shoulder and their mass hunches forward,
of subterranea – was distraught at her inability to conceive. helping to protect their vital organs from taller foes. Add to
While the other powers of creation sired and nurtured mortal this armour that is designed around their physiques – such as
progeny on the surface, the barren goddess secreted herself plates piled high atop their shoulders and brows and flexible
away in her realm and wept for the children she could never coats of mail that guard their loins – and a dwarf becomes a

112
walking fortress. Indeed, armour is a great symbol of status
Background
no function save for the direct application of a penetrating
amongst dwarfen society and even in human realms it is rare deathblow. Elves, champions of elegant warfare, despise
to see a dwarf without at least a sturdy brigandine. Those who this weapon above all others, citing that it fosters no skill or
go without armour are invariably berserkers and as such are beauty in its application. To dwarfs, its application, the act
not ‘proper’ dwarfs according to the mores of dwarfen culture. of war, is craft not art. It is hard work and earnest labour.
Figurative statements of the elusive beauty of the killing
In battle, dwarfs have been called ‘artless’ and ‘blunt’ by stroke reveal all that a dwarf would ever care to know about
the generals of other folk. Again, the dwarfen mind would the feeble elven conception of aesthetics.
struggle to find these anything but complimentary. They
favour tactics that have stood as reliable and sure for untold
generations of dwarfs, to the point where dwarfen generals
who have suffered a defeat at the hands of innovation
mutter at the dishonour of their foes. For example, the great
soliloquies against elven dishonour composed in the wake of
the dwarfen defeat at Black Pass will certainly be recited for
untold generations to come.

Dwarfen weapons of war reinforce their reputation for


direct, workmanlike brutality; the axe and the hammer.
Even in innovation the dwarfs do not stray from their values
of forthrightness. The handgun is certainly an innovative
weapon but it has been said that it is one that could only have
been conceived by dwarfs. It is loud, dirty, and brutal. It has

113
Background

Warsmiths The comparison to monasticism is apt for each chamber is a


temple in a very literal sense. Each one is dominated by an
The handgun is only one of a great array of arms devised and altar of flame, a steel structure kept white hot year round
built by a special caste of dwarfen society: the Warsmiths. in tribute to Fulgria, perhaps the single most revered divine
Each dwarfen clan within a hold is bent to a particular figure amongst the dwarfs. She is the Goddess of the White
avenue of industry, but the Warsmiths have almost complete Fire and hers is the purity of the forge, the heat of the earth,
dominion over the accoutrements of war and they are and, through them, the transformative arts of forging and
unfettered by clan loyalties or political boundaries. Instead reshaping that allow mere ore to become a brilliant treasure.
they are beholden to an array of interrelated guilds, each of It is to her that the Warsmiths offer their passions and their
which operates like a small part of a greater machine. The craft and with her fiery will the true marvels of the dwarfen
Warsmiths refer to these guilds as ‘chambers’ and each has its world are born. Of course, no divinity is without its darkened
own secrets, jealously guarded. A dwarf wishing to become a double and Fulgria is opposed by Ariagful, She of the Red
Warsmith need only forsake his clan ties and make pilgrimage Flow. Just as her name evokes both lava and blood, hers is
to one of the chambers that dot dwarfendom. Here, he falls the dominion of the undisciplined forge and terrible violence.
into a life that can only be compared to monasticism. Each The distinction is manifest amongst the dreaded Abyssal
chamber guards the long-perfected secrets of a single facet Dwarfs, who revere Ariagful and turn her savage philosophy
of the Warsmith’s art. One chamber may be devoted to the toward the crafting of the crude blunderbusses of the
honing of axe blades and another to the precise fitting of Decimators – simplistic and ugly weapons that nonetheless
armour to its wearer and still others to the more cryptic sacrifice nothing in terms of direct killing power. These
interrelations of cogs or the measuring of blasting sand. weapons are in fact marked by an unnecessary brutality that
A Warsmith is expected to take an oath to the chamber and re-enforces their functions as weapons of fear and terror,
remain there in seclusion, learning from the grandmasters offering no clean deaths to those caught in their clouds of
of that one particular skill until he has mastered it. Then shrapnel. Furthermore, Ariagful is all too happy to tempt
he may remain, a master himself, or continue his training dwarfs with sorcerous solutions to practical problems, an offer
as an Undgwer (literally ‘journeying man’), wandering from that the Abyssal Dwarfs are only too happy to embrace.
chamber to chamber mastering the hundreds of discreet This devotion to one of the Shining Ones – who most dwarfs
skills that make up the Warsmith’s discipline. Such dwarfs do not accept as gods – sets those more traditionalist dwarfs
are renowned as great innovators of war-crafts and at least on edge – especially those of the Free Clans. This might go
a few new chambers are founded each century. Likewise, some way towards explaining why the Imperial dwarf armies
some chambers have been lost for all time, either to the can be found fielding the Warsmiths’ latest innovations
depredation of monstrous foes or simple calamity. Some few and weapons, while the Free Dwarfs stick to older, reliable
of these ‘empty chambers’ have taken their secrets with them weapons, such as crossbows and hammers. Forged weapons
leaving the remaining Warsmiths to puzzle over the unknown and masterful artifice have been a mark of dwarfen society for
natures of such concepts as ‘cold forging’ and ‘the balancing centuries, as much for the Free Clans as for the Imperials. In
of the inlay’. Once a Warsmith’s journeying days are behind the end, even the most stubborn dwarf cannot deny the worth
him he may freely practise the secret crafts he has learned, and usefulness of a Warsmith’s craft and will pay handsomely
oftentimes returning to his hold and clan. A Warsmith is to procure their services.
a great prize to any hold, however, and they are known to
receive lavish offers of patronage from lords, kings, or entire
communities of dwarfs.

116
The Order of Stone
Background
While the Warsmiths embrace a spirituality that elves or The Battle of Black Pass
men might find easy to relate to, much stranger is the arcane The Battle of Black Pass was an early event in the
Order of Stone. Dwarfs are famous for their lack of affinity centuries following the War with Winter, remembered
for magic. Not only does the typical dwarf consider it a shamefully by dwarfs to this day. After a centuries’ long
frivolous crutch leaned on by other cultures, the dwarf mind blood-feud, the elf prince Nualador lured the dwarfen
is such that the unnatural patterns of thought required to army of the Ironhelm clan into Black Pass and a bloody
practice the secret arts are almost impossible for the logical slaughter.
and forthright dwarfs to perform. That said, every generation
there are a bare few dwarfs born ‘stonewise’ who have an In the twisting maze of canyons of the Knife Spires,
innate connection to the all that is earthen and deep. A world Nualador and his kinsmen engaged the dwarfs in a
of mysticism is open to them and from an early age they are series of masterfully directed hit-and-run attacks. The
able to sense the very spirits of stone and gem. Such dwarfs two armies faced each other across the narrow defile
live troubled lives, for this is the stuff of magic and their of Black Pass, and the dwarfs marched resolutely
families will not understand the way they stare at formations through the hail of arrows launched by the elves. They
of rock or patterns of sediment. Indeed, those around such outnumbered the elves heavily and were confident of
strange dwarfs will rightly fear the calamities that can be victory. Just before the dwarf charge hit home, the elves
brought about by unchecked sorceries. The Order of Stone turned tail and fled, their ranks seemingly in utter
exists to find such dwarfs and bring them under its care. The disarray. The dwarfs pushed forward, advancing further
Order is composed entirely of such ‘stonetouched’ dwarfs and up the ever-narrowing canyon in pursuit of the fleet-
has, over long centuries, become a powerful and influential footed elves. As the walls closed in, the crush became
structure in the dwarfen realms. Within the bounds of the ever more oppressive as the entire dwarf army surged
Order, a dwarf finds kinship with those that understand him forwards. Only then did Nualador launch his trap. The
and he may master the great secrets of stone and one day young prince had positioned vast batteries of Dragon’s
assume the mantle of Stone Priest; an uncontested master of Claw bolt throwers upon the ridges overhead, and as
the elemental forces of the underworld and a living echo of the dwarfs pushed into the narrow defile below, they
the mythic origins of the dwarfs. Proper dwarf society will unleashed their fury. The dwarfs could not escape the
still fear and mistrust him but these feelings will be deeply brutal fire of the war machines, so tightly packed where
couched in respect, for none can deny the great value such they, and hundreds died in the first barrage. Those
dwarfs bring to their realms in times of trouble. elves that had been feigning flight turned back upon
their pursuers, cutting them down with relentless waves
of bow fire before Nualador led the counter-charge of
his spearmen, breaking the back of the enemy army
and cutting through them without mercy. The dwarf
momentum was stymied and their army crumbled under
the sheer fury of the elven blades. Nevertheless, it was
the horrific toll that the Dragon’s Claw bolt throwers
exacted that accounted for the vast majority of the
dwarf casualties that day. By sundown, it became clear
that more than ten thousand dwarfs had been slain,
including their lord, Balor Ironhelm III, for the loss of
less than fifty elves.

117
Background

118
Background

119
Background

Berserkers of the dwarfs’ relations with the Celestians. Today, it is


difficult to discern if the underworld goddess of the dwarfen
Stone priests are not the only dwarfs to break from the norm. creation myth has Celestian origin or if she is an older figure,
Under the grim influences of the ‘red curse’, berserkers are or even if her aspect was taken up by one or more Celestians
likely the most famous rogues of all of dwarfen society and to better influence the dwarfs. It could be that Fulgria and
are renown far abroad for their terrifying efficacy on the Ariagful, the light and dark aspects of fiery, earthen creation,
battlefield. The red curse is popularly thought to be brought are the remains of this masquerade but of this matter the
on by ancestral anger at the many great tragedies of dwarfen dwarfs say nothing.
history, but an examination of berserker writing and poetics,
as unencumbered by subtext as any dwarfen art, reveals that Despite some skirmishes and minor feuds, the military
almost any emotional duress may plant the seed of this so- history of the dwarfs does not truly intersect with men and
called curse. A dwarf who struggles greatly with the weight of elves until the wild throes of the God War. This was the first
a broken heart, dissolution with his craft, or even the great time the full force of the dwarfen war-machine was on display
shame of exile may feel the red curse upon him. and of all the great rumblings that shook the earth in those
terrifying days, the march of the dwarfen legions were surely
The red curse is characterised as a great and violent rage that amongst the deepest.
fills a dwarf with bloodlust and inures him to pain but it is
only on the battlefield that berserkers work themselves up Before this era, the dwarfs paid only moderate heed to the
into their famous frenzy. In private, the curse manifests as a ways of surface warfare, happy as they were to cede the open
great and dismal lethargy. Dwarfs engage with depression as spaces of the surface beyond their mountains to those who
directly as they do any other foe and wilfully feast and drink were born to it. Their traditional foes were monsters of the
to excess until their lassitude is buried beneath their assumed deep, marauding goblin bands, or, occasionally, rival clans,
joys. Berserkers often form tightly-knit groups in support of all to be fought from tunnel to cramped tunnel and cavern
each other and the largest and most famous of these is the to rocky cavern. The God War brought the dwarfs to a new
great hold of Cwl Gen under the renowned berserker king, orientation of war: the pitched battlefield. This was an
Sveri Eligax. The realm of this legendary warrior is known environment where the dwarfs were forced to shed the long-
for almost constant feasting and celebration and for its major drilled traditions of subterranean warfare and embrace new
export: bloodthirsty warriors. tactics that could exploit the dimensions and sight-lines of the
surface: dense gun lines, terrifying artillery, and vast blocks
Some berserkers become addicted to the battle frenzy for all of infantry all commanded by generals who could see the
woes vanish in the heat and rush of combat. These congregate battlefield in its entirety from atop strategic rises. The dwarfs
not in Cwl Gen but wander farther north where promises of did not struggle with these unfamiliar methodologies. They
eternal bloodshed are uttered in secret tongues beneath dark excelled.
skies. Such berserkers are named ‘vanished fellows’ by their
brethren and it is hoped that they are never encountered During this period the hitherto obscure tradition of dwarfen
again. rangers grew to greater prominence. There had always been
a need for warriors specialising in surface tactics to guard the

DWARFEN ORIGINS passes and valleys where valuable surface industries such as
herding aurochs or growing crops for the lucrative smoke-
The great histories of the dwarfs remain unknown to the trade are conducted. With greater attention turned to the
world at large having passed by deep beneath the mountains world above, the ranger was suddenly a boon to the efforts
of Abkhazia and Halpi that rise endlessly in the east of the of dwarfen warfare and security. The role was and remains
world. Generation upon generation has lived and died in total largely the province of the young and the curious. Most such
seclusion. Great wars and campaigns have been undertaken dwarfs are expected to get their fascination of the sky and
far from the gaze of the sun and great heroes have carved wind out of their system by true adulthood but some never do,
legends that have never reached the ears of men or elves. going on to become grandmasters of the arts of path finding,
Even during the fabled Time of Light when the civilisations hunting, and tracking.
of the three noble people were at their zeniths, the dwarfs
Sadly, the God War took a toll on the dwarfs’ already fragile
were insular and secretive; dealing with outsiders only on very
capacities for trusting outsiders. Hard-won diplomatic bonds
specific (although not unfriendly) terms. While Primovantor
fell away and more and more often the dwarfs practised
glimmered brightly beneath the heavens and Elvenholme
the arts of surface war against former allies over debts and
stretched afar as a grand and united realm, the dwarfs made
slights both great and small. The elves bore the worst of
their deepest delving and their mightiest constructions; cities
dwarfen ire as the mountain folk, perhaps rightly, placed
and halls, timeless and fixed with endless grandeur, secreted
the blame for the ruined state of the world squarely on their
beneath the earth. Secreted, too, was the dwarfen spirituality
shoulders. While this was a bitter time in many respects it
of those times. Little has ever been learned of the particulars
was also a period of growth and expansion for the dwarfs as

120
great wealth in gold and gems was struck in the north and
Background
The northern dwarfs, for all their might and surety in their
a mighty wealth-rush into the Hapli Mountains led to the fortifications, also suffered greatly during the war. More
founding and expansion of many new holds. The boldest and than the loss of surface meat and good leaf to fill their pipes,
greediest of these dwarfs paid no heed to the dire warnings the coming of the Winter War brought with it an assault
and omens of Warsmith and stone priest alike and ventured by terrible forces from below. Frenzied hordes of orcs and
far into the rich lands that abut the Abyss; a shattered land goblins broke through the upper fortifications of many holds
where the rending of that great and evil void tore many of while the shapeless and unspeakable horrors of the Abyss
the most precious ores and gems up from the earth and left bubbled up from hitherto unknown depths to lay waste to
them scattered about the very surface. Then came the reign of others. The fighting was bitter and many holds, clans and
Winter and contact with those adventurous souls was lost. families simply vanished in the horrific time known as the
fall of the north. Even with all of the strength bent to the
struggle, only five holds survived the onslaught: the bloody
minded Cwl Gen, the pragmatic Gars, the stoic Marn, the
so-called ‘tomb-hold’ of Llyfanifeg and defiant Rhyn Dufaris,
known as ‘the peak’ for having be carved into the upper spires
of Mount Rhimerad.

All of dwarfendom was thus devastated, kingless and divided.


The dwarfs of the south saw their northern kin as betrayers
and oath breakers whose refusal to join the war led directly
to unspeakable losses and the termination of the royal line.
For their part, those in the north cursed the southern dwarfs
for following the foolish edict of an unwise king; leaving
them friendless against a terrible foe that, had the fighting
strength of the north not been there to sacrifice itself, would
have devoured every hold, clan and kinship in all the dwarfen
The dreadful Winter War took a black toll on the dwarfs realms.
and it is here that can be seen the first signs of the great
division in their people. When men and elves called for aid The two sides would never trust each other again. The newly
in the titanic struggles of the surface, the dwarfs of Abkhazia minted Free Clans in the north declared that they would
were reluctant to answer. It is said that Odador the Twice- never be beholden to any king, lord, or power to ever rise
Crowned, the high king of those times, mulled long over from the southern holds. In the south, the death of Odador
the decision to join the war. After weeks of council, it was and his sons left an incredible power vacuum and many lords
decreed that the old oaths to man and elf still held and that vied to fill the gap and claim possession of the Royal Hoard.
the dwarfs would march. No decision in dwarfen history
A series of weak high kings followed. Each was wanting for
has ever been regretted so quickly or so deeply. Firstly, the
regal stature and able to grasp the throne only briefly through
northern dwarfs, wealthy, powerful, and secure in their newly
highly disputed claims. As such few of these kings had any
delved holds refused the order of the high king to join the
real loyalty from those outside their own clans. This led to
war. Odador knew he could not compel those mighty holds
disaster as, during the brief reign of Kludis Foesweeper the
to march without risking bloodshed and resolved to deal with
Royal Hoard was infiltrated and the greatest of its treasures
them later. The grand army that took to the frozen surface of
were gone. The Twenty-Seven Boons of the Gods, most prized
the world was thus under-strength, demoralised, and wavering
and beloved of all dwarfen treasures, were stolen by a no-
in its faith to its monarch. It suffered tremendous losses in
account thief called Gilgulli, later named ‘goldless’, the most
the field as whole clans lost the entirety of their fighting
shameful of all dwarfen titles. Ashamed at his powerlessness
strength and had to be absorbed into stronger clans to avoid
in keeping the Royal Hoard secure, Kludis abdicated and
annihilation. Not even the royal household was spared as
removed himself from gentler dwarfen society by taking on
Odador was cast from the walls of a Primovantian fortress
the strange oaths of the berserker.
by a triumphant archfiend. His body was recovered and he
stubbornly lived on within his crushed armour for many The scrabbling for the throne would end with the claim of
hours, speaking deliriously of the duty that now lay on his Golloch. For long this king had bided his time. His clan
three sons. None had the heart to tell him that all three had was wealthy and large, having absorbed a great many of the
been slain. While Winter was defeated, the dwarfs were never sundered clans of the Winter War and thus his troves were
the same. They returned in misery to their kingless kingdom bolstered by theirs and he had a surplus of marriageable
and sealed their gates to the surface world for many decades women and a host of loyal orphaned wards who were by now
to come. coming into age as strapping dwarf warriors. These were all
tokens he would employ in his rise to power.

121
Background

Golloch did have a legitimate claim to the throne through So began the bloodiest and most shameful chapter in dwarfen
his mother Dorak the Instant (who by all accounts was a history: the great civil war. Here the worst traits of the dwarfs
temperamental hag) but he did not pursue his claim in any were made clear. Brother turned against brother as greed
direct or proper fashion. Instead he approached it in a way overtook valour. Promises of great peerage and wealth in the
that could only be called mannish. With his wealth he took new dwarfen empire drove great rifts in sturdy allegiances
on the debts of impoverished clans. He arranged favourable and brought many dissenters to heel behind the ascendant
marriages for many of his foster daughters and other Golloch. Those that fell to the new High King’s military
womenfolk of his hold into the wealthiest of his rival clans might were subjugated. Many clans sought to avoid this fate
(collecting handsome dowries and oaths of friendship as he and fled northwards toward the freeholds, causing new and
did so), and for those clans who would not be brought into his bloody conflicts to erupt as imperial dwarf clashed with free
loyalty or his debt he arranged embargoes of trade enforced clansmen as Golloch closed his iron fist around Abkhazia.
by his menacing and ever-growing military. Moreover, several When the dust had settled, Golloch stood atop a great new
of his outstanding rivals suffered conspicuous misfortunes empire and bore a new title: Conqueror.
such as landslides, cave-ins, and deep, pure streams suddenly
becoming tainted. Many holds realised what Golloch was up Conquest remains the chief pastime of Imperial dwarfs
to but general disunity amongst them prevented any effective as Golloch’s tyrannical ambition pushes his borders ever
opposition and many kings refused to believe that any dwarf outward. In the north his hand reaches toward the free holds.
would stoop so low as to seize power politically rather than by In the west, his fingertips brush against the very walls of
pursuing a just claim. Much of Abkhazia was thus unprepared Basilea. To the east, many free cities of men now feel the
when Golloch renamed his great hold ‘Caeryn Golloch’, weight of the imperial yoke as they are pressed into vassalage
declared himself High King, and demanded that all loyalties from below. Only the south and the deserts of Ophidia seem
of all dwarfs be turned immediately to him; any who refused free from Golloch’s ambitions. Here his empire terminates
could consider themselves at war. A great many refused. suddenly in the great Southern Watchline, a vast wall carved
and built upon the very mountains. Great fortresses rise
from this vast barrier that stretches across the breadth of the
empire itself.

122
The free Dwarfs held steady in the north, watching with
Background
only clan to remain neutral during the civil war: the dour
glowering apprehension the glow of Golloch’s northernmost Thistledew clan; a cryptic lineage that held neither with the
holdings from across the sea of Suan. These dwarfs looked north or the south but seemingly only with the roar of the
not to expansion but to reclamation; bringing the lost holds of waters and the surety of the chain. Alas, the Chainway was
the north back to prominence and prestige. The north became severed over a decade ago, when the Abyssal Dwarfs invaded
a haven for dwarfs seeking to escape the tyranny of Golloch from the north and took the Halpi Mountains for themselves.
and return to the ways of old, when dwarfs shunned the outer
world instead of vying to claim it. Few Warsmiths pilgrimaged Thus is the world presented with a cleft civilisation when it
between these realms and the secrets of several chambers had gazes upon the dwarfs. The cities and lands of men are no
become all but exclusive to the Free dwarfs or their imperial stranger to the stout folk – Basilea in particular is rich with
rivals, leading to not only differences in general military the benefits of long association and the City of the Golden
comportment but in battle philosophy, iconography, and Horn is home to no less than three free clans who, while
culture; the horned helm and the round shield has become a cloistered in their quarter of the city with typical dwarfen
potent anti-Imperial device while the Bearded axe and iron- aloofness, are invaluable allies and advisors on how best to
banded hammerhead have come to symbolise the rightness of handle the reaching of Golloch. More common across the
imperial rule. land are dwarfen adventurers, alone or in small groups,
who reject the conflicts of Halpi and Abkhazia and take
There was one place where Free and Imperial dwarfs could to the world at large. Successful examples often summon
meet without fear of violence: Culloch Mor. This is a rocky their families, their family’s allies, bondsdwarfs, respected
outcropping topped with bleak, hardy trees that juts up from Warsmiths, artisans, and assorted hangers on, and before long
the very centre of the Great Cataract; the vast and terrifying new holds have appeared in remote corners of Pannithor.
waterfall formed by the high sea of Bari disgorging itself
eternally into the low sea of Suan. This sacred place could All the while, however, the threat of Golloch’s desire hangs
be reached by the Chainway; an incredible feat of dwarfen over much of the world and the very word ‘dwarf’ has come to
ingenuity that joined the north and south to Culloch Mor by evoke fears of conquest and war as much as it has long been
way of ferries that were pulled along a great chain that hung associated with steadfast honour and stout nobility. This is
over the very lip of the Cataract. On certain nights, Free and the duality that now marks the dwarfs and their ambiguous
Imperial dwarfs stood with each other in the shadow of the position in the world. One thing remains certain, however:
altar of Culloch Mor to treat with each other, sometimes on they have endured the worst excesses of both god and mortal
matters of state, other times to re-unite briefly with estranged and their realm, though divided, remains undiminished.
relatives or friends. The Chainway was maintained by the

123
Background

THE DELIRIUM OF BETRAYAL


Ramborim’s part in the dwarf Civil War was over a graven tablet he read of Ramborim’s new titles. He
the moment he struck off the head of his brother. The was now Ramborim the Loyal Beyond Blood, Stain-
helm fell away as the neck gave beneath the sweep of Cleaver, Eater of Betrayals, Lord amongst the Loyal,
the axe and the head rolled naked down the rocky The Wise, the True-Fisted, First Among Friends, and
mountainside; hair and beard tumbling over each other, more and more. As they were read, Ramborim’s back
becoming smaller and smaller. A great cheer went up as stiffened. His posture became prideful. His elbows
the deed was done, Ramborim’s supporters jubilant at became rigid as his arms seemed to encompass the
his victory-stroke. Ramborim did not hear it, however. throne. He felt his face smile. He had done right.
He was transfixed by the muffled thumping of the
severed head as it bounced and rolled from rock to rock, A coffer was brought forth, its bulk encompassed by
striking each in turn. Now and then there was a glint great iron chains and a gilded lock. The herald of
from within the tumult of hair; an eye, wide with shock, Golloch brought down his silvered hammer and the
flashed into view, locked with Ramborim’s gaze for the lock was no more – what is given now shall not be
briefest of instants, then was gone; rolling, rolling, and retaken was the grand gesture Ramborim knew. Cries
rolling away. of awe came up from the courtiers – his courtiers; his
clan, now, though the faces were new. Jewels filled
Hands seized Ramborim. He looked up to see his Ramborim’s eyes. Rings of gold and platinum. Amulets
banner rise up against the sun. Its dancing silhouette of silver and ruby stud. A figurine of Fulgria, arms
was pierced by the glow of the great orb and, though it thrust toward him beneath her jade eyes, her hands
was surely of the finest make and entwined with jewels full of shining white fire. His mouth was moving. He
and golden chains, it seemed a frail and threadbare breathed; ‘mine.’
thing as the rays of the sun punched through it, making
it look like the bare wisps of a dark and ghostly shroud. Before him the traitors were paraded. He held his
Ramborim felt his hand being raised in glory and of freshly jewelled fingers to his chin and he heard their
great and tight embraces from those he valued; those pleas. They spoke of closeness and rightness and bonds
who supported him and surely loved him though of blood; of the sale of a legacy and true betrayals.
he hardly knew their names. He was lord, now, of In his heart pains were stirred. He looked to the
Deepglitter hold, and his hand had been just. The crowd herald who shook his head. Ramborim shook his head
swept around him and a bagpipe hummed above the too and waved away the pleadings of the chained.
tumult of voices and newly-struck pipe smoke. Someone ‘Conspirators,’ his mouth said as his eyes were locked
took the axe from his hand as a great cloak was to the white fire sat proudly by his throne, ‘no blood of
wrapped around his shoulders. A crown was pressed mine.’
upon his brow and the edge of its silver-wrought brim So he said of his brother’s wife, and of his nephews
bit into his flesh. It does not fit, his thoughts told him, and nieces, and bondsmen to his house. His old arms
but soon, in the deep of the hold, they were silenced. master, who taught him the sweep of the axe, spat
The throne seemed too big for him, and his elbows at his feet, cursed the name of Golloch and what his
hung short of the bone-chased arm-rests. A herald had gold could buy. The herald had him taken away and
appeared, clad thickly in the livery of Golloch, and from suspended further sentencing until tomorrow.

124
Background
Food was brought by unfamiliar servants and Ramborim He sat down onto the comforting hardness of his bed,
filled his belly with the tasteless flesh of surface cattle
cradling the shiny figure of Fulgria in his broad hands.
and the empty satisfaction of his household’s mead. He looked deeply into the white flame and saw his
His mead, by rights. A balladeer raised his voice and moist lips smiling back at him in the weird curves of the
the words made it clear as they formed the struggle of platinum fire. He tried to follow the distorted reflection
Ramborim. He alone was courageous and stood against and marvelled at how much that smile now looked
the corruption of his house. Rightful High King Golloch like a frown, and how his moustaches and cheeks were
was generous to the brave who kept true to the oaths of suddenly damp. In the strange illusion of the graven
fealty to the High Throne. None who were betrayers – fire, his lips had come apart and he knew then that he
not beggars, not princes, not kin – were right to rule over
was howling. His eyes stung and he squeezed them tight.
any corner of the great realm that was beneath Golloch’s His fingers clenched the figurine desperately as he fell
gaze. Ramborim, great champion, was so honoured. backward onto the bed, his face contorted with painful
shame. Behind his eyes there was a glimmer in the dark;
The Herald led unsteady Ramborim away, teetering with the flashing of a sad, dead eye in a head that was rolling
the depth of his cups. His words spoke of how older oaths and rolling and rolling away.
mattered more than new ones; mattered more than blood
and all. They were the real oaths; sworn to one’s High
King, whomever it be. No lineage was greater. Why, he’d
sire a new lineage! One rightwise to the true oaths. The
herald smiled and nodded and led the wobbly new lord
to his bedchamber. The door swung closed at last and
Ramborim smiled drunkenly at the faces of the guards
outside as they disappeared behind the great portal. He
couldn’t place their faces.

125
Background

LOSS OF THE HALPI MOUNTAINS The last to arrive were Herneas and a single regiment of his
rangers, all bloodied and exhausted. They came bearing a
single message:
A decade ago, the power of the Abyss waxed strong, and
the world was thrown into a great war with the Abyss and They are coming.
all of the evils it had spawned. The dwarfs’ dark kin, now
empowered by the fell demons flowing from the Abyss, As the armies of the Abyssal Dwarfs marched from the
surged south, eager to wipe out the dwarfs once and for all. mountains, the number of Free Dwarfs remaining on the
The invasion was larger than any could have predicted, tens shores of the Great Cataract dwindled. Ironclad, Bulwarkers
of thousands of slaves and Blacksouls marched ahead of and Ironguard from a dozen different holds stood shoulder
hundreds of mortars, whose infernal firepower was so great to shoulder, resisting the tides of slaves as the last refugees
it blocked out the sky. Shambling, mewling Halfbreeds and boarded the ships. When they retreated, it was slowly and
Grotesques, in seemingly endless varieties of form and size, reluctantly. They were still fighting when they boarded the
were goaded into battle by their cruel creators. Although ferries of the Chainway. Artillery fire screamed overhead, most
they were too stubborn to admit it, the dwarfs never stood a shots missing the crafts. Those that did hit severed the ferries’
chance. connection to the chains underwater, sending the occupants
cascading into the mists of the waterfall. The final warriors
Each battle that followed could be considered a legend in its left behind were to defend the Chainway’s mechanisms at all
own right. At Cwl Gen, Jarrun Iremonger bought time for the costs until the survivors were safely across to the other shore.
dwarf armies to march south and regroup with their kin by Victory was won by the slightest of margins – as the last dwarf
emptying his workshop and the hold’s entire armoury. Well disembarked, the last defender fell.
over a hundred warmachines held the walls of the hold. For
seven days and nights they fired continuously, making the They were met by the dwarfs of the Thistledew clan.
foe pay dearly for every step they took. The siege only ended Although they had chosen to take no part in the defence or
when the last of the Ironclad had evacuated and reserves of the evacuation, they knew of the infernal forces awaiting
ammunition had been all but depleted. Iremonger and the on the distant shore and knew what must be done. It was
rest of the crews fought a retreat to join the muster, buying the head of that clan, Baine Thistledew, who hefted his
themselves time by detonating the last of their powder enchanted Greataxe and stuck the massive chains. Though it
reserves – bringing the hold itself down upon the advancing took many blows, eventually the link was shorn in two. With
armies. a sound of tortured metal, the entire Chainway pulled away
from the shore and sank into the depths. The dwarfs stood
The legions of the Abyssal Dwarfs could not be stopped. in a sullen silence, considering the loss of the sacred meeting
Each hold valiantly fought to the last, but try as they might, place and what it meant for the future of their kind. They
they simply couldn’t match the Abyssal Dwarf’s numbers. awaited the Abyssal Dwarf invasion. It never came.
When the Abyssal Dwarfs broke through, they butchered the
defenders and razed their homes. So much was lost in both
life and history that many dwarfs fell to the red curse. In the The Aftermath
Battle of the Bloody Steppe, berserker king Sveri Egilax led Unknown to the dwarfs, the rest of the world had struck a
an entire army of these blood-mad survivors, fighting more victory against the Abyss. The Green Lady, the leader of the
for honour than for any kind of tangible victory. Though Forces of Nature and the last remaining Celestian, summoned
each warrior took scores of the enemy with them, the Abyssal her most powerful mages to melt one of the glaciers to the
Dwarfs’ greed could not be halted. far north of Tragar. The resulting flood consumed the Abyss,
which now lay steaming under a newly formed lake. With
The final muster of forces gathered at Rhyn Dufaris. As the their homeland under attack and their power cut off, the
closest hold to the Great Cataract, it was the only chance of Abyssal Dwarfs could not risk further conflict. Thus, they
survival against the impossible odds. Although it galled the consolidated their position, but many of the legions retreated
Free Dwarfs to abandon their homeland, they knew that back to Tragar.
staying would mean not just their deaths, but that all of the
history of their holds being forgotten and lost. Warriors and The Free Dwarfs were met by an entourage on behalf of
civilians from every hold in the mountains had come, each Golloch. The leading herald announced that they shared the
carrying tales of miraculous survival and endless cruelty pain of the refugees and that every single Free Dwarf would
and desolation. The evacuation efforts were painfully slow, be welcomed with open arms into the holds of their kin.
the Chainway being unable to transport too many at a time. There was no way to mask the chastising nature of the speech
– the Free Dwarfs had not been able to defend their homes,

126
and were looked down on because of it. Regardless of this, the
Background
The Imperial Dwarfs’ arrogance has only grown. In their
leaders of the Free Dwarfs gave their respectful gratitude – hubris, they believe that Golloch and his empire is so
they knew what would happen to voices of dissent. fearsome, that the Abyssal Dwarfs were afraid to attack
them - lest they risk the wrath of Golloch himself. Under
The scattered clans of the Free Dwarfs now live across the leadership of the hero Rordin, they have retaken their
Pannithor. Many reside in the northern realms of Abercarr ancient capital of Dolgarth - worryingly close to Basilea - and
and, in recent years, further into Estacarr – living in an started fortifying it with every artifice Golloch’s Warsmiths
uneasy truce with their Imperial brethren. Some have can produce. Their derision of the Free Dwarfs is clear and
relocated to the lands of men – the dwarfen quarter of the although the two groups are living amicably for now, there
City of the Golden Horn in Basilea is now full to bursting. are tensions rising on both sides. With the Abyssal Dwarf
Many have chosen to make the dangerous journey to the threat fading into memory, it is only a matter of time before
outlying dwarf holds in other lands. the truce is forgotten.

Banick grunted as he spotted the towering archway that They had been pushed from their homes in the Halpi
signalled the entrance to King Golloch’s domain. It had Mountains by the swarm of vengeful Abyssal Dwarfs that
been some time since he had been here. He paused for descended upon them. With nowhere to go, they had
a moment before the surging crowd of dwarfs began fled across the Great Cataract and into the kingdom of
pushing him forward once more. He tightened his grip on Golloch. The Free Dwarfs weren’t so free anymore.
the drill - desperately trying to ignore the bloodstains that
streaked the handle - and pulled it behind him. Of course, Golloch’s songsmiths told of a great victory
against the Abyssal Dwarfs. They sang of a courageous
His attention was grabbed by the sound of laughter last stand against countless hordes of Blacksouls,
ahead… a sound few of them had heard recently. A Gargoyles and Golems, which allowed the refugees to flee
group of young dwarfs were climbing up Craggoth’s back the slaughter while the crossing over the Great Cataract
and using the Elemental’s blue crystals as makeshift was destroyed. Banick still shuddered as he remembered
handholds. When they got to the top, Craggoth would lift the sound of the bridge splashing into the water.
them down so they could repeat the process once more.
Banick swore he could hear a rumbling laugh coming He guessed it was a victory of sorts - at least the Abyssal
from Craggoth. Dwarfs hadn’t reached into the Halls of Golloch. He
could only imagine the slaughter that would have taken
Banick wasn’t sure how the magic that bound the place there. Years spent mining had made him sceptical,
elemental together worked but no matter the battles they perhaps he should be grateful for a moment. While he
had fought alongside each other, the arcane powers that contemplated the events of recent days - and tried to
held him together never seemed to falter. push some of the more bitter memories from his mind - he
became aware of some shouting.
Craggoth turned and gave the Dwarf a wave. Banick
hoped it would hold for a bit longer… or at least until “Golloch’s rule is over!” came the cry.
he could consult a Stone Priest. Since joining forces
with Craggoth, he’d become strangely attached to the Banick spotted a young Ranger standing on a rocky
lumbering giant. The pair made an odd but effective outcrop.
fighting force. Banick considered if he could learn the “The Free dwarfs must be free,” he continued before
magic needed to maintain the elemental’s dwindling life some older Dwarfs, dressed in the livery of King Golloch
force. bundled him away.
The line of dwarfs stretched as far as Banick could see. A victory, thought Banick… but at what cost?
They were all refugees from the war against the Abyss.

127
Background

Elves
Of all the folk that walk the realms of Pannithor, the Pannithor known as Mantica – is now a constant reminder
elves are supreme. There are few beings as ancient as they of faded glories. Elven births are fewer than ever and the
and none who are as storied. It could be argued that their children of Elvenholme are born to a culture of ancestral
histories are the very histories of the world and that they are guilt generated by the fact that the greatest of the world’s
entwined with it, essential to it. woes can be lain at elven feet. For all their excellence, many
elves live and die in the shadow of the mistakes of the past.
There is nothing that is noble or valuable that has not The striving of the young and the vibrant in elven kingdoms
been mastered by the elves. Their refinement of culture new and strong may not be enough to save the elven people
and art beggars the belief of lesser folk who can merely from succumbing, at last, to the attrition suffered since the
dream of grasping the intricate meanings of works such deluge of Winter’s end.
as the Triptychs of Adar or whose languages are too blunt
and infantile to reflect the resonant depths of subtext
and significance exemplified in elven poetry and song. In
statecraft, they are matchless. In nobility, peerless. No mage
of mortal bent can even hope to contest the mastery of the
elven magicians who spend their long, enchanted lives given
entirely to the illuminative crafts of the arcane.

And none doubt their prowess at arms. Other races watch


with breathless awe at the timeless display of elven archery.
Fighters, man for man, stand aghast against the unstoppable
brilliance of elven swordsmanship. Rampant beasts, thought
unkillable by human huntsmen, sink down into death; their
hearts transfixed by the impossible precision of an elvish
spear. There is no task or pursuit that the elven psyche will
not elevate into an artform.

All of these skills, all of this brilliance, are bound in tall,


graceful bodies that are virtually immune to age and the
ravages of illness; in minds that do not suffer the dimming
and the madness that afflicts the elders amongst men or
dwarfs. Their senses are sublime; shaming all but the most
developed of the creatures of nature with their perceptive
ears, immaculate sense of touch and presence, uncanny sense
of smell, and eyes that are even said to penetrate the bleakest
dark. They can feel emotions more deeply and more sensually
than any being. They are the pinnacle of conscious life.

All of these things, elves are. Why then are they not masters
of the world?

The ravages of the God War, the reign of Winter, and the
terrific flood that flowed in her demise all took a tremendous
toll on the kingdoms of the world. But where the dwarfs
endured, the elves have faltered. Where the humans of
Basilea surge up with unmatched vitality from the corpse
of Primovantor, the elves remain staggered; barely clawing
their way back from the brink of oblivion. Their lands
are sundered, their race is atrophied and scattered, and
their ancient bonds of kinship and loyalty are reduced
to bare strands of insubstantial obligation. Elvenholme –
the diminished heart of the elven world in the region of

128
Background
ELVENHOLME Elven Spears
To human eyes Elvenholme is a vast realm of untarnished ‘I am Starwhisper, bane of trolls and beloved of Idrilim. Do you believe
grandeur where an undying alliance of ancient kingdoms in me?’ – cryptic inscription on an ancient elven spear.
glitters eternal beneath the endless sky; the enchanted land of
the ageless and ensorcelled race that mastered the world long In the legends of the elves it is not the sword that
before humanity ever took shape. For the elves who dwell shines brightest but the spear. Indeed, the elven word
in its varied realms Elvenholme is not so and the shadow of for ‘blade’ refers specifically to the long-bladed spears
what it once was lies dark and heavy across their days. used for bringing down great beasts and monsters
while the elvish for sword translates more
Twelve hundred fleeting years have passed since Winter’s directly to ‘shear’ or ‘scissor’ in the tongues
Final Gift, as it is known to the elves, when vast swathes of men. As a result, translated poetics of
of Elvenholme simply vanished; swallowed by the surging elven legend place swords in the hands
ocean. Today, Elvenholme barely extends from the great of heroes which are then ‘braced against
wall of Therennia Adar to the bitter edge of the Mouth of its master’s vault’ or ‘transfix four steeds
Leith but at one time it ran for leagues more and the shining abreast’ and other unlikely scenarios
spires of bright cities thrust up from the green bosoms of that bring forth much mirth from the
enchanted forests, and the Brokenwall Islands were still great elves that read them.
mountain fastnesses that overlooked valleys of gold. Although
they wear a veneer of haughty pride, those elves that remain Many legends and myths are told
in the diminished kingdoms of Elvenholme struggle with of elven warriors and their spears.
tremendous depths of guilt and regret. In ancient times, it was the spear
of Ikarimeth the Doubter that
This age of mourning has chewed away at the culture of punctured the belly of the crippled
Elvenholme’s kindreds. In Therennia Adar the songs that dragon Sliphid, ending the monster’s
ring out now are dirges to the former glory of their drowned reign of terror once and for all as
groves. In Alandar, the Dragon Kindred mutter funeral the mortally wounded beast tumbled
hymns to the ages of brilliance that will now never come. In from the eastern steppes to the
the east and south dour utterances have caught on that equate savannah below. From its wound
the eroding lands with the eroding of the elves themselves. crawled a snarling brood whose
The old alliances, too, have been worn away and loyalties form matched their parent’s
have become frail. Respects paid to the Mage Queen from disfigurement. Thus is Ikarimeth
further afield than Ileuthar are often token at best and great called the father of Dragons and
kings in the west and east look to their own realms rather his spear known as ‘Lifegiver’.
than ancient and frayed bonds.
Malinius of Treitial was said to be so at one with his
Still, Elvenholme endures and the kindreds that still call it spear that it would thrust toward gaps in the defences
home, from the endless sea to the Ophidian sands, are as yet of foemen before Malinius even knew about them.
unbroken and some small hope remains that they will yet Malinius is often called the ‘spear-wielded’, a term that
triumph and new golden ages may yet be born. survives today as a compliment paid to spear-wielders of
particular excellence.

129
Background

130
Background

131
Background

THERENNIA ADAR Therennia Adar now sits hundreds of feet below sea level,
yet it did not drown. This is because of the sacrifice made by
great Valandor – the warrior-mage whose powers transcended
Therennia Adar was and is one of the most remarkable
both man and elf. He stood before the onrush of the deadly
cities in the world. Once it was merely a speck of civilisation
waters as they hungrily devoured the shining groves. The
nestled amid the great Groves of Adar. The city had no walls
streets thundered with the flight of forest creatures and the
in those times and an elf could make their way directly
air was thick with the roaring of the waters. Valandor stood
from the orderly avenues and thoroughfares to the winding
fast before them, pitting all his might and will against the
paths of the wood without ever being able to pinpoint exactly
devouring tide. Soon the earth shook, and a great rumbling
where one ended and the other began. The Celestians walked
drowned out all sound as Valandor tore a great wall up from
those paths, too, in the days when they were whole. Their
the earth; a vast curtain of rock that spared Therennia Adar
otherworldliness did not ward them against the entrancing
from the fate shared by so much of Elvenholme. His might
beauty of the wild ways; the hidden grove, the secret pool.
spent, Valandor fell from atop the wall to the churning waters
Above it all, the Spire of Ages struck up from the heart of
below.
Therennia Adar, an icon of triumph hundreds of feet high.
It bathed in the warmth of the sun above and the glow of the Today the vast majority of Therennia Adar sits in perpetual
vast woodland below. Stories are told of how light, birdsong, gloom, always in the shadow of the greatest wall outside
and the very wind itself were woven into mighty spells dwarfendom and neither wind nor sun strikes the city streets.
that swirled above the great kingdom and protected it from Of the old city, only the very tip of the Spire of Ages peers
intrusion and disaster. Those spells are as broken as the age above the wall. It is here that the battered body of Valandor,
that birthed them. recovered from the cruel waters, is held in state where it
attracts pilgrims from both land and sea.

Despite existing in shadow, Therennia Adar has transcended


its fate and so have its people. They have reclaimed their
heritage of wind and sun by transitioning from a land-locked
spiritual paradise to the great maritime superpower of the
world. Atop the mighty barrier wall are great buttressed
towers overlooking the elegant, sweeping shipyards that have
been erected in the centuries since the fall of Valandor. Some
say this is the true heart of the city and its people; bristling
with activity, energy, and motion that is to be envied by the
inland attitudes of mournful lassitude. It is certainly true that
the people of the old Western Kindred have found new life in
their bond with the ocean.

132
On the waves, the Warfleets of Therennia Adar are
Background
unmatched and there are few states that would dare molest
the trading ships of the Sea Kindred. Their King – Ariandaris
Elven Archery
‘It is a primitive weapon as all weapons are primitive. It is the art of
– is known all across the world for his great foresight and
archery that gives meaning to the bow.’ – attributed to Madriga,
statesmanship. No other kindred of elves can hope to forge
Sea Guard Fleetmaster and hero of Dolgarth
the kinds of bonds with other kingdoms that come with
mastery of the sea and the diplomatic opportunities it offers. To elves, archery is the most beautiful of the war arts; a
Humans and even dwarfs are no strangers to the elegant perfect blending of skill and grace with awareness and
docks and moorings atop the great wall, though they seldom foresight. Master marksmen from among other peoples
progress further toward the city proper than to raise a toast to have been known to mutter accusations of sorcery upon
the spire and Valandor. The view of Therennia Adar from the witnessing an elven archer at one with his bow. As
wall’s edge gave birth to its vulgar name, popularly used in uncanny as it is, there is nothing supernatural about the
the realms of men: Walldeep. near universal elven mastery of marksmanship. Their
otherworldly skill is a product of the natural aptitude
Still, the sorrows of the past run deep. Many elves of
and long experience that only elves possess.
Therennia Adar are practitioners of the divinitive arts –
Ariandaris himself among them – and they have been known Elven remarks on the subject are cryptic at best,
to slip into trances where their spirits walk free of their expressing mild bemusement that other races cannot
bodies out beyond the great wall. Through the strange magics sense the twisting of the wind and the quivering of the
of the Weird, they see not shoals of fish of clusters of weed shaft in the instants before they happen. ‘Your people
but the very Groves of Adar themselves; as though they were loose arrows,’ one Sea Guard marine famously remarked
alive again and bristling with the echoes of birdsongs the to a Basilean official, ‘my people place them.’
phantoms of the past. For the sensitive elves, such trances can
be difficult to will themselves back from and, having seen Still, for all the precise brilliance afforded to the
the very perfection of the enchanted green, the reality of the individual elven archer by their unparalleled senses and
present can be difficult to bear. potential centuries of experience at the peak of health, it
is the deadly rain of the volley that rules the battlefield
and many a proud marksman chafes to see their arrow
lost amid a brutal, indiscriminate cloud.

133
Background

134
Background

135
Background

The Sea Kindred Therennia Adar itself and have adopted names that are as
stark and sharp as the cutting sea wind such as the austere
Of all the kindreds of Elvenholme, none can say they both House Nightspray or the feared House of the Morning Gull.
lost and gained as much in the calamities of Winter’s end Their rivalries seldom slip into true bitterness, however, and
as those of the west. Vast tracts of land were swallowed, they are united against threats from outside.
including the ancient and magical Groves of Adar, the most
enchanted of all mortal places. Of the untold numbers of The great Houses of the Brokenwall Isles share a firm
lives lost to the triumphant sea, a vast majority are from alliance with Therennia Adar and count themselves fully
these kindreds. In their sufferings, however, they found new amongst the Sea Kindred. Adar’s great warfleets are often
strengths that would be the envy of the kindreds of the north joined by a dazzling motley of Brokenwall colours and
and east who wallow deeper in their sorrows. The Western heraldry. Some of the lords of the Houses wish to solidify this
kindreds, focussed in the still-standing city of Therennia Adar alliance even farther by way of royal marriage; aggressively
and the Brokenwall Isles have regained mastery of the sea positioning their sons as contenders to the hand of the
and a bold new identity as the Sea Kindred – lords of the very wayward princess Tabinriorn, daughter of King Ariandaris.
thing that destroyed their past. He might even agree if only she could be found and coaxed
back home…

Ileuthar
Ileuthar is a city of a kind unlike any other known to mortal
peoples. Its shape and structures are formed from the very
trees themselves. It is said that the woodland was not coaxed
into doing so by ancient elvish magic but rather formed itself,
as a gift of acceptance to the kindreds that first walked there.

It is shaped like a great ring and in its centre is the deepest


and most enchanted heart of all the Twilight Glades. Beneath
these strange and twisted boughs are the paths and groves of
the Twilight Glades proper – a place where the burdens of
reality are fully shed and the twisting paths are said to lead
Basilean sailors swear that when elven ships sail,
the very waves part to receive them anywhere, everywhere, and even, terrifyingly, nowhere. These
paths of the Glade of Ways are unsafe even for the elves. Only
the most beloved of the wood can be sure of their steps here,
and there are none known who can claim that honour save
the Mage-Queen, Laraentha Silverbranch herself.
The Brokenwall Isles
These stark islands were once the tops of great mountains The court of the Mage-Queen and Ileuthar itself are open
that overlooked the western reaches of Elvenholme , to all kinds and kindreds of elves. It is the very heart of
dominated by the elegant castles of noble elves. Today, these elvendom; the single place where all feuds and debts are
castles have surrendered their pictorial beauty to become forgotten in a strange truce that would befuddle both man
lordly coastal fortresses. Each is host to a fleet that flies the and dwarf. Here, Dragon Lords will walk beside the marines
colours and heraldry of the great house to which it belongs. of the Sea Guard. Ice elves will laugh with undisguised
The Brokenwall Houses compete with each other at feats of warmth at the jests of wayward princes. Even the reviled elves
maritime valour and distinction just as surely as their noble that dwell within the Mouth of Leith can occasionally be
forebears competed to have the grandest castle in the heights. glimpsed stalking through the city’s gardens and galleries in
These houses have taken to the sea with an aplomb that rivals small, secretive cadres.

136
The Twilight Glades
Background
The Northern Kindreds
To pass into the Twilight Glades is to pass into a dream. This The elves of the Northern Kindreds are the proudest and
woodland realm is nestled in a deep valley amid a range of most aloof of a notoriously proud and aloof people. They
sullen hills south of the infant sea like a pool of magic caught hold that their ways are the true ways and continue in them
in a rocky bowl. The enchantments that permeate this realm undaunted by disaster or folly. This is both a blessing and
were not crafted by mortal mind or living hand. The magic a curse to them. While they are unshakable adherents to
of this place grew within it. Its deep shadows are dotted with tradition, bolstered no doubt by their great love and loyalty to
phantom lights, its glades are filled with secret whispers. their Mage-Queen and the host of great champions that walk
amongst them, they are also loath to surrender their sorrows.
The living sculpture that is the city of Ileuthar can only be The Northern Kin, more so than any other, worry away at the
found by those who know the paths or who have wounds of the past at the expense of present joys and those yet
a willing guide. For those that don’t, the glades are a perilous to come.
place, the shifting tracks and paths leading the weary
journeyman round in circles, deeper into the undergrowth,
never to return. The very air is alive with a pervasive energy,
there on the edge of consciousness, primal and tantalisingly
full of promise but always just out of reach. Even those not
blessed, or cursed, with knowledge of the arcane can feel
something on the edge of perception, a taste of something
alien and cryptic.

For the elves who live here, however, much of the glamour is
lost. These realms are nothing, they say, compared to those
that once spread in the west and clutched precious Therennia Thus, these traditionalists have garnered a reputation for
Adar to their bosom. In light of their memory, these glades morose fatalism. Considering the numbers of young elves that
are weak and diminished. They are a certain reminder to the turn their backs to the northern courts and wander far afield
elves that they dwell not in the great day of their race, but in quest of life’s rich pageant, it is a reputation that is well
its twilight. Recent events have made the glades even more deserved.
perilous for the unwary and there are some areas where even
the elves now fear to tread.

137
Background

Here follow extracts from letters written by Mage-tutor Callinah of the Willowdale to the mage-masters of Ileuthar.

Esteemed colleagues of the court,


My lords,
The boy has arrived. Should you see fit to visit me here, you do not think we
ntinued concern, but I
will know him by his golden hair, happy countenance and most I thank you for your co this stage.
ge-Queen directly at
surely by his uncommon aptitude. I have arranged for his need to involve the Ma
tutelage in the arts of the arcane to begin immediately.
ah of Willowdale
Yours, Mage-tutor Callin
I hope my decision to bring him here will prove wise. I am
aware of your doubts. Rest assured the child remains under My esteemed colleagues,
my close supervision and I shall report to you once again
upon completion of his first season. I apologise for not writing sooner. My duties here keep me
more occupied than ever before. With ten seasons past, and
Yours, Mage-tutor Callinah of Willowdale with three times that number studied by the boy, I must
interrupt our progress again with word of deepest tragedy.
s, Now comes news that his sister too has left this plane. Worse,
My Esteemed colleague in an equally unsavoury manner as his mother. While it is
ne of you have
all. While it is a pity no
Blessings be upon you exceeded our
obvious he never recovered from the passing of his parents,
report the child has far
visited, I am happy to son of which he
his reaction to this latest news was, I admit, disturbing,
ta tio ns. Th ere wa s little in the first sea though he has now returned from a long period during which
exp ec mere days.
t alr ea dy fam ilia r, or able to grasp within his whereabouts were unknown to us. I fear the impact of
wa s no that I have
on ly ha lf a sea son , I am delighted to report my guidance upon his actions is waning, but rest assured all
Af ter y of this age
n fit to ad va nc e him . Never has a human bo efforts will be made to rein him in. The boy would appear to
see share in my
so quickly. I trust you
obtained such mastery ge rly as I do. have depths we never imagined.
next report as ea
delight, and await my Yours servant, Mage-tutor Callinah of Willowdale
llowdale
ge-tutor Callinah of Wi
Your faithful servant, Ma
My learned colleagues,
Learned Mages of the Court, to train this
I fear I have reached the limit of my ability
know ledge of techn iques forbidden
I have considered your concerns. Sadly, I cannot agree that child. He is demonstrating
sever al sacre d texts have gone
this boy needs anything other than challenge upon challenge to his level of learning, and
it, and his trick ery has gone from
in order that we might ascertain the true level of his ability. missing. I know he is behind
appe ars bent on pursu ing his
Perhaps we have among us a child of the ages? To stop now playful to wicked in nature. He
imme diate interventi on lest we
could deny us something spoken of among the very stars own course, and I ask for your
have inves ted so much time,
themselves. I stake my reputation on it, in your eyes and in should lose someone in whom we
your faith for all time. His fifth season will begin at once. and of course my lords, so many secrets.
Your servant, Mage-tutor Callinah of Willowdale Humbly, Mage-tutor Callinah of Willowdale

Colleagues of esteem, My learned colleagues,


It is with regret that I must inform you The situation has become grave. You were right. How foolish
of a great tragedy
that has befallen our brightest pupi that I could not see it. The boy, now a full man by any
l. News lately reached us
that his Mother and Father have been human standard, has not returned from his latest fit of
slain. After his letters
to them were not returned I made enq rage, and I fear he will never again do so willingly. Two of
uires on his behalf
and sure enough, they are indeed no our charter-masters have been found dead, and yet more
more. May they rest on
the winds of summer. The details I will restricted texts are missing. I awoke from a restless sleep
not trouble you with,
suffice to say that his sister of simi this day to see a letter hovering over me. Its foul contents I
lar age is said to have
survived as a prisoner. He draws som cannot bear to relay until we meet in person, but I can report
e comfort in this. I was
only mildly wounded in his display of that he has taken a name – the letter was signed Mhorgoth.
grief, being as I was the
bearer of this news. However, the inte You know the meaning of this name as well as I, and what
nsity of his studies has
since doubled, which I cannot deny is must be done. I shall arrive at court post-haste, to seek your
most pleasing.
forgiveness and to make immediate preparations.
Your servant, Mage-tutor Callinah of
Willowdale
Ashamedly, Mage-tutor Callinah of Willowdale

138
Background

The Dragon Kindred Amid the forbidding peaks, the great fastnesses and eyries
of these rarest of elves have been carved by sorcerous means
The mountains of Alandar are virtually impenetrable. They from the very rock. The power and influence of these few
thrust up from the body of Elvenholme like a cluster of noble lords cannot be overstated. Although they live in an
spearheads that threaten the sky. Their foothills bristle inhospitable realm they enjoy every luxury and every honour
with monster-haunted woods that would chill the boldest of due to them. Great gifts and tributes are made to them from
huntsmen and across it all streak the shadows of dragons. other kindreds in exchange for their support. The swooping
It is said that Great Calisor, in the age prior to his fall from shadow and the plunging lance have spelled doom for many
grace, brokered a friendship between dragons and elves – an army of foemen and only annihilation can come to those
but dragons are creatures of incredible depths of pride and who face a dragon’s breath. The mere sight of a dragon and
nobility matched only by their wrath and beauty. They will its lordly rider upon the battlefield is immediate confirmation
not suffer any but the worthy to look freely upon them or to to any general that the favour of one of the Dragon Kindred
lay hands upon their scales. Those few clans that meet the is worth every courtesy.
dragon’s approval count themselves among the Thandreen
– the Dragon Kindred. Only the very greatest amongst
these select few – the wisest, purest, and most valiant – may
be taught the secrets of the dragon speech and forge the
legendary bond between dragon and rider.

139
Background

The Southern Kindred The Eastern Kindred


The elves that inhabit the fading southern edge of The elves of the Southern Kindred are not the only ones to
Elvenholme are the very image of stubborn pride. Their suffer the relentless expansion of the Ophidian sands. The
mighty castles are under constant siege by the sands of the Eastern Kindred too have watched their lush grasslands and
moving desert and the foul, cursed creatures that inhabit rich savannahs wither away as that hellish southern realm
them. Their great, sand-blasted fortresses have surrendered seeks to swallow all. This has taken a great toll on the hearts
their beauty to the erosion of the ages, becoming worn and of the nomadic easterly elves who were once renowned as the
pitted; their once-famous reliefs obliterated by the cruel winds finest poets, most captivating singers, and quickest wits of all
of nearly a thousand summers. But still they stand, windows the kindreds of Elvenholme. Now their poetry has become
and battlements framing the defiant sneers of these elves. litanies of battle, their songs are bloody war ballads, and their
jests are dark and sardonic. Once their bright caravans rolled
Though the outer walls of the elven cities and citadels are merry and carefree beneath the endless eastern sky but now
blasted, within they have retained their ancient opulence. that tradition has been turned toward bloodier ends as the
The spells of old that once defied the desert have been drawn wagon trains of clans and families have become itinerant war-
inward to protect the great halls and galleries where gems columns that roam ceaselessly across their domain.
shine from every tapestry and portraits shimmer with gilt
detail; and the enchanted gardens from which the elves In battle, the Eastern Kindred carries great respect for not
subsist in the harshest times. However, nothing is as prized only are they matchless in the great war-arts of the bow
and protected in these magnificent halls as the libraries. Each and the spear, but they are powerful innovators. It is on the
of the great southern families has one and none are greater great expanse that the chariot was born; first for flights of
than that belonging to Prince Mathaleer. It is said that much pleasure, now for the dealing of death. For ages, the Drakon
of the histories and lore mourned by other kindreds as lost, was considered a wilful and dangerous beast until the bold
remain in the ancient scrolls of his house. It is also said, in horsemen of the Eastern Kindred mastered the art of their
dark and fearful whispers, that Mathaleer is an obsessive breaking and now the Drakon is a feared and terrible foe
keeper of secrets and has lore enough to shame many a noble for any evil that might swell up from the desert sands or
head. All of the libraries of the Southern Kindred are closed the hateful Mouth of Lieth. Perhaps their greatest weapon,
to outsiders and their lore is jealously guarded. They open however, is the genius of Elthenar Bladesinger. He is the
only in exchange for marvellous treasures, lasting pledges youngest lord to set the Helm of Dawn upon his brow and
of support, favourable marriages, and other great gifts. Even draw all of the loyalty of the east to his rune-etched blade,
then, access is watched with fearful strictness. No one knows the legendary Deathbringer. His prowess is such that even
with certainty that Mathaleer has ever opened his library to elves are struck into wordless awe at his spear and swordplay
anyone. Scandalous whispers hiss with another possible truth: and his gift for battle strategy is said to shame even the war-
there is nothing in his library but shadows and dust. masters of old. Beyond this, there is said to be a darkness
within him – perhaps the product of his tragic life – that
drives him to ever greater brutality. Some in the east are
disturbed by the extremes this might reach but until then
the bitterness inside Elthenar is well-matched by that of his
people.

140
Background
THE ELVES OF ELSEWHERE contemplating the follies of their ancestors who they
believe turned from nature’s path. Ancient practices and
rituals were shunned in favour of building with stone and
While Elvenholme remains host to the most ancient of elven
forging with steel, spoiling the essence of their people forever.
traditions and cultures, elves may be found anywhere in the
They hold true to the ancient ways, living in harmony with
world. Communities, clans, or families live in the grand
nature and close to the origins of the world-tree. They are
human cities of Basilea and other lands. To humans, these
an enigmatic people, as much a part of their forest as any
might seem to be enigmatic figures that exist amongst them,
bird, beast or tree that lives there. They nurture it, tend it
unchanging, for generations. To the elves these settlings are
and protect it with their very souls.
impermanent dalliances amongst an interesting folk and
nothing more. Lone elves are known to wander all realms, In the deepest, darkest and most treacherous parts of the
seeming to go wherever their adventurous hearts take them. glades the charge in the air is palpable, the forest alive with
Many of these are known to take on interesting pseudonyms, purpose. Little light breaches the canopy of the ancient
perhaps to hide their origins from other elves they might arboreal sentinels. The mists hugging the massive roots
meet (as many are said to be hated exiles or missing princes) and snaking between the impossibly twisted branches
or perhaps merely to cultivate a romantic mystique. One such sparkle and flicker with faerie fire, while will-o-the-wisps
elf, known abroad by the brusque and decidedly un-elflike and capricious forest sprites frolic across the patchwork
of name of Madriga, is greatly celebrated in the City of the marshland of ponds and streams that lie between the trees.
Golden Horn for her valour in the terrible ruins of Dolgarth Those unlucky enough to find themselves in this place lie
and the recovery of the Tome of Valandor. Despite this fame, drowned in these fog-pools, armour and weapons rusting
or because of it, Madriga has vanished from the city, perhaps around their bones, their grinning skulls visible just
to seek adventure elsewhere. beneath the surface, watching and waiting for a companion
to join them in eternal slumber. This is the domain of the
Then there are the Young Kingdoms – up-thrust growths of
Sylvan Fey.
bright civilisation and culture that dot the face of the world,
even beyond Mantica and the influence of Elvenholme. Many
of these have been established by youthful and charismatic
elves, paying only lip service to the traditions of old and
shirking the guilt that rests like a great mantle across so
many of their kinfolk. Some shine only briefly before being
snuffed out. Others, bolder than the rest, have carved out
a place in the world that may yet see them remembered in
legend and song.

The Sylvan Kindred


This enigmatic Kindred are drawn to nature above all else.
Many of their number live in the enchanted forest of Galahir.
This place is beloved of the Green Lady, the enigmatic triple-
goddess whom the Sylvan Kindred revere. She embodies the
naturalistic mindset these elves favour, seeing no shame in
beauty, ugliness, capriciousness, beneficence, cruelty, life,
or death. In her shadow, the Kindred exemplifies the oldest
ideals of elfkind, the green time when there was no divide
between elves and the natural world. A significant number of
Sylvan elves live in the Twilight Glades where some of them
hold positions of high influence, serving at the right hand of
the Mage-Queen.

The elves of the glades are different from the other Kindreds,
more in tune with the natural world around them. Meeting
them offers a mirror into the past glories of the race. They
are a people cursed with introspection and regret, forever

141
Background

142
Background

143
Background

The Fey are Sylvan Kin who have fully become one with Despite having the favour of the Green Lady, the Sylvan Kin
nature as they believe the ancestors once were. They are an have no influence over her. They cannot compel her to join
extension of the living forest, spread from the seedlings of them in battle directly, nor to listen to their pleas or praises.
the world-tree and as ancient as the land on which it grows. Instead, the Lady has chosen the Druids, favoured humans, to
Unlike the elves of the other kindreds, whose skin can have be her agents in the world and to them she gives her deepest
an almost alabaster appearance, most Fey are born with pale council. This is greatly troubling to many Sylvan elves and
green skin which darkens with age. Those most proficient clear evidence of just how far their kind has fallen from the
in magic stand out as blue-tinged individuals, with crackling true green paths they were born to.
yellow eyes. Mysterious even by the standards of the other
elves in the Glades, the Fey inhabit the most magical parts Following the almost apocalyptic recent events of the
of the forest, amongst the faeries and sprites that dwell there expanding Abyss, a dark horror has stained the glades and
and are a rare sight to behold for the alien visitor. If they are the Fey have become even more insular as they strive to
seen, it is because they choose to be. Encountering them is fight the insidious evil. The Paths have become all the more
often fatal for anyone foolish enough to encroach upon their treacherous and travellers must be constantly wary of the
world. There are stories of the Fey taking other elf children predations of the Nightstalkers. Ofttimes, the fabric of the
in the night, never to be seen again. Elven scholars scare Paths ripples and tears, creating temporary portals to the
their young charges with tales of the Fey spiriting them voids and immortal planes of insanity. When such rifts occur,
away should they fail their lessons. These are perhaps just hell is let loose into the world.
legends and fairy stories, for the Sylvan Kin and the Fey are
on peaceable terms. The Fey are even known to lend martial The Valellion Legacy
support to the armies of the Glades, but such aid can be Before the Time of Ice, before Winter’s Final Gift took so
fickle, coming when and where the Fey so choose. many elven lives and land, the house of Valellion was a
stabilising and highly respected royal blood line and servant
The Shadow Paths are known to both the Kin and the Fey.
of the elven empire. Its lineage could boast of ancestors
Accessed by the portal known as the Glade of Ways, the
documented to the Time of Light and perhaps even beyond.
pathways offer the traveller routes to all places, but they are
Valellion mages were much sought after for their sage
perilous and can be trodden only by those with supreme
advice, and their military was second to none. Lord Valellion
knowledge and power. There are few Kin with the skill and
himself was one of the closest confidants of the great elf king
bravery to walk the Paths but the Fey use them without
Thominus Moonweaver and the sun always shone on the
thought. The Paths are simply an extension of the forest and
rolling green valleys and woodland of Valellion’s realm.
world in which the Fey are a part. Magic seeps through them,
and they through it. As a consequence, the Fey will travel Growing up in this seemingly idyllic world were two brothers
across the world where they feel their presence is required. – twins – inseparable since birth. Tyris and Talannar were
The largest concentration of the Fey outside the Twilight minor princes, too far from the line of succession to be
Glades is thought to be in the Forest of Galahir, west of the considered significant, but with enough spirit and sense of
Abyss, on the edge of the Mammoth Steppe. No one truly daring that they were always in the thick of, or the instigators
knows though and it is a brave or foolish man who would try of, many misadventures. Both showed some latent talent
to find out. for magic, but neither expressed any desire to pursue that
journey, considering it too time consuming and a distraction
Wildness permeates every facet of Sylvan Kin society and
from their comfortable and privileged lives. They were
nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in their
competent although mostly reluctant warriors and for the
approach to war. They disdain conventional organisation,
most part could be found in the ale houses of the human
often casting aside such rigid concepts as ‘regiment’ and
quarters of the nearest and largest eleven cities. It was during
‘troop’. For them, there is nothing clinical or controlled in
one such frivolous undertaking that Talannar fathered a
the art of war. It is the savage struggle; the doe in the jaws,
child. Not unusual for an elf of his age, except the mother
the diving hawk, the darting hare. They march in seeming
was a human.
disarray; a rich pageant of shining spears and snapping
banners often accompanied by the pipes of satyrs, the glow The effect on Talannar was profound. He became increasingly
of pixies and wisps, and the teasing mockery of fairies and protective and devoted to the mother and she to him. Tyris
sprites. This display has been the doom of many a foe, for implored him to remember the stories from their childhood,
when the horn of battle sounds the chaos vanishes and of Calisor and Elinathora and the destructive power of such
the Sylvan Kin take to killing with a terrifying blend of love but Tyris was blind to reason. When the babe was born
instinctual bloodlust and elven skill. but a few months later, Talannar was in rapture. The girl was
his pride and joy, and he cared not for its mixed parentage,
an unspoken taboo in elven culture.

144
When word reached lord Valellion as it inevitably would, The Ice Kindred
Background
he decreed that the child and mother be banished from
the kingdom or face destruction. Talannar was aghast and In his Survey of Noble Peoples, the Basilean philosopher Anslew
Tyris stood firmly beside his blood brother – Talannar was wrote: ‘Each elf partakes of the natural world around him.’
the father and he had a right to bring the child up as he The strange Ice Kindred may prove the literal truth of his
saw fit, in the safety of his own home. Valellion refused and fanciful words. More than two millennia have passed since
generously gave the mother and child seven days to leave the exiled Tyris Valellion led his small band from the borders
Elvenholme forever. of Elvenholme and into the frozen inhospitality of the Bitter
Lands. Rather than succumb to the unliveable conditions
Incensed at the injustice and bitterly aggrieved, Talannar of that rain-frozen and ice-blasted place, Valellion’s people
turned to his old school master for advice. Scholar Yrillith somehow thrived and carved out a kingdom that is of great
shook his head at the folly of youth and said that he could concern to the wise heads of Elvenholme.
think of no law that could overturn the ruling of his lord.
Reluctantly, he allowed the young men access to the Valellion The Ice Kindred are a changed people. Their skin has taken
library, thinking such an act was harmless. on the icy hues of the wasteland, their hair has run to
white or icy blue, and their hearts, according to some, have
In truth, it was Tyris that spent every waking hour pouring become hardened against joy and pleasure. In Elvenholme
through old legal texts and histories. Talannar spent as much it is speculated that Valellion had solved a sorcerous riddle
time as he could with his beloved family while desperately that would allow his people to master the frozen wasteland.
worrying and praying his brother would find something of Certainly this seems to be true as the Ice Kindred are known
use – some shred of something to grasp onto and make a case to batter their foes with enchanted winds that chill the bone
from. and blizzards of cutting ice summoned up by the words of
the Kindred’s sorcerers. To the incomprehension of the elves
And find something he did. of the south, none are more versed in this ice magic than
Valellion himself who demonstrates this most directly in his
At the last hour, when all hope seemed lost, Tyris uncovered
command of Tyris’ Gate, the great blade of ice that cuts across
the awful and hypocritical truth. In historical texts buried
the only land-bound route into his realm. Retracting only
deep in a dusty tome, the chronicles of the Valellion line
at Valellion’s will, this impossible barrier makes the Bitter
recorded the illicit joining of Wystirith Valellion to a
Lands immune to invasion by land.
human male, thus polluting the bloodline with a secret kept
suppressed for generations. Tyris felt ashamed and afeared to Argus Rodinir, famed master of the cryptic Altar of Elements,
have made such a discovery but told his brother all the same. warns of this so called ‘ice magic’, saying that it isn’t truly
Talannar was stunned, but soon his astonishment turned to about ice at all, or even freezing. According to Argus, it is the
joy as he realised he had the perfect weapon to defeat the magic of cold, a long-neglected arcane philosophy the mastery
cruelty being imposed upon his kin. of which could lead to knowledge of the great heatless void
said to exist beyond the stars; of stasis, and the terrifying
On the day of reckoning, the brothers entered Lord
permanence and fixity of absolute zero.
Valellion’s court side by side. Tyris trod fearfully, deeply
unsure they were following the right path. Talannar strode Following their expulsion, the brothers became bitter
purposefully, straight backed and with steely determination. enemies, each blaming the other for their downfall. Time has
King Thominus was in court that day and the room was not fully healed the scars between Tyris and Talannar and his
packed with dignitaries. Having requested their audience, the mood at any given time is reflected by conflicting emotions of
brothers were called forwards. Lord Valellion frowned and love, loyalty, betrayal and deep regret. The Bitter Lands seem
reminded them he had made his decision and that it must aptly named, for they describe well the state of the elven lord
be respected. Talannar fought back, declaring the judgement that claims dominion over them.
deeply dishonest and duplicitous. Valellion was enraged at
this affront to his authority in front of his king and ordered
the pair from the hall. As guards began to haul the brothers
away, Tyris was loath to speak but Talannar shot his brother
a desperate glance. Swallowing his terror, Tyris decried
the hypocrisy at the very heart of the household and in the
stunned silence that echoed in the great hall, the Valellion
bloodline’s assumed purity, standing and authority across the
lands of Elvenholme came to a crushing and humiliating end.

145
Background

Northern Alliance
Icekin
Talannar is a worrying enigma to the elves. When he was still
known as Talannar Valellion, this unremarkable prince was
exiled from all of Elvenholme for bringing great shame upon
his kin. Exactly what his crime was is neither recorded nor
shared and the high lords of the elven realms likely thought
never to hear of him again. Not so. What was rumoured to be
a settlement of the Ice Kindred in the far north turned out
to be something else entirely; a remarkable Young Kingdom
under the rulership of a reinvented and renamed Prince
Talannar Icekin.

The elves do not have a clear picture of what happened to


Talannar in the great northern Winterlands. From what
little is known, the exiled prince wandered the world for
centuries alone, eventually striking north as far as he could
go and traded his rings – priceless heirlooms – for the loyalty
and protection of at least one savage tribe of ogres. These
brutes carved out his first settlements and kept his borders
while, by some unknown sorcery, Talannar rebuilt and
raised a greatly-spired city from the very ice and rock. He
named this glistening capital ‘Chill’, a simple word known
to many folk in many tongues, and, in an act that would
horrify his forebears, threw open his court to all who would
come before him. Now Chill is a beacon to many savage folk.
Besides ogres, tribes of northmen have bent their knee before
Talannar’s throne, as have snow trolls and even dispossessed
dwarfs. And, of course, word of his realm has attracted elves
who have cut their ties to the old world and sought new
glories as part of this Young Kingdom. Half-elves, outcasts
from their own lands, seem to hold a particular attraction,
and a welcome home, within the walls of Chill.

Mercenaries returning from campaigns in the far north name


Talannar the ‘Silver Emperor’ and spend freely with freshly
minted silver coins bearing the marks of Chill and Icekin. Of
the city itself they speak of great wonders. Beyond its blue-
tinged icy walls, warm gardens flourish brightly beneath the
mighty sweep of many-faceted towers. Bright banners line
every avenue and music and song ring through the air. These
sounds are accompanied by one even rarer and more precious:
the laughter of elven children; seldom heard in the ancestral
south.

146
Chill
Background
recruiting and diplomatic missions. Ofttimes, he would take
off on his own, refusing company and heading high into the
Deep in the Ice Mountains, on the frozen edge of the range mountains where he would remain for weeks, if not months,
known as the Howling Peaks, there stands an impossibility. at a time. Those that tried to track him, concerned for their
It is enchanting, awesome, dominating and incomprehensible leader’s safety, eventually lost their prey as a squall of icy
in equal measure. Bridging a high valley between mighty wind or flurry of blinding snow forced them to lose sight.
sentinels of rock, stands the implausible city of Chill. It The prince left no tracks and even the master hunters were
stands as a symbol of hope for the repressed and dispossessed. baffled. The greatest, Tiemjinn Wolfsbane, managed to follow
It is a home for the disenfranchised and the lost. Above all, it him further than anyone before, but still ultimately lost him
is a rallying point for those that wish to unite for something as the prince slipped into a fissure in a sheer wall of ice and
greater, and a bastion against the darkness in the world. rock. Only minutes behind, Wolfsbane arrived at the entrance
Early attempts to establish a permanent settlement as a base to a dark cavern with no other visible egress. His prince was
of safety and central operations for Talannar’s new alliance gone.
met with constant difficulties and set-backs. Providing a When scouts from the east began reporting the movement
supply of traditional building resources became impossible of a vast horde of greenskins swarming through the peaks
due to weather and location, and raids from the orcs and and hell-bent on all-out war, the alliance braced itself for
goblins of Iceblood Fjord were a constant menace. The threat the worst. Several outposts were swept aside and contact
became so great that the snow trolls tasked with the bulk of lost with remote tribes. Refugees fled west, trying to keep
the foundational construction work were diverted instead to ahead of the tide of orcs and goblins that boiled and seethed
support the ogre mercenaries in a bid to hold off the invaders. through the high passes and south through the wild tundra
Over a decade, many violent clashes resulted in ongoing and plateaus of the northern Steppe. As the clansfolk fled
delays and on two occasions, vast swathes of defences and towards Blackridge, the largest of the Alliance settlements,
building work was destroyed by greenskins breaking through doom surrounded them from all sides. The clans fought back
the lines. with fury, bolstered by packs of their vicious snow trolls and
To compound the situation, Talannar himself was not always charges from their hulking frost-fang cavalry. But the green
present. Construction, leadership and security was left to tide seemed endless, and slowly, inexorably, the orcs pushed
trusted clan lords while the prince was abroad, embarked on on. Goblin Sniffs pestered and harassed as their Spitters

147
Background

poured a rain of crude arrows into the fur-clad ranks of the What Talannar said that evening, none in that room have
alliance. Hill giants were goaded into the front lines by their ever spoken of. But the gathering emerged highly energised
orc captors to smash and grind their way through the melee. and with a steely and burning determination. Orders were
Above all, the ice magic of the elves and clan magi, crackled given and the great mobilisation and retreat was put in
and clashed violently with the spiteful and malicious sorcery motion. Talannar went ahead, taking the most powerful of the
of the greenskins. ice queens and magi with him, preparing the path as much
as they could. The fighting retreat would be treacherous,
Pushed back on all fronts, Talannar made a decision. and many would sell their lives dearly for the safety of the
Calling the lords and thegns to an emergency council, he whole before the end. Scores of trolls were lost holding off an
ask for them to fall back, to abandon Blackridge and stage a assault by goblins in the night as the alliance slowly moved
controlled retreat up into the mountains, through the pass of up the Ygrituul valley and generations of clansfolk were
Hykrim and across the mighty Fangspire glacier to a place lost when an avalanche swept them aside on the sides of the
known to the most northern clans as Wraithsight. Tribal and mountain known as the Laughing Man.
snow troll legends all spoke of a haunted place that turned
even the strongest and most stalwart into gibbering wrecks. The tale of the great frost giant, Grimjaw Igurdottir, is firmly
Even the foul creatures that lived in the shadows, the orcs, woven in to the songs of skalds. Grimjaw sacrificed herself to
beastmen and worse, were seen in far fewer numbers the save hundreds of clansfolk and elves as they made their way,
closer to Wraithsight you dared to go. embattled, through Hykrim pass. Sickly green beams of light
blazed from a cadre of orc godspeakers, carving a monstrously
At Talannar’s proclamation, the war room fell into huge sheet of ice from the cliff face which plunged into the
incredulous silence before erupting into a cacophony of chasm below. The orcs screamed in delight at the expected
vehement objections and dismay. Exerting his full bearing massacre below. Sensing the danger, Grimjaw threw down
and majesty, Talannar rose to his feet, dominating the room. her weapons and caught the massive berg with a bone
He seemed to fill the space, his being omnipresent and the crunching impact. Mortally wounded, Grimjaw held the ice
room was bathed in a golden light that melted through the aloft as the refugees escaped around her. For three agonising
frigid air and spread blissful, soothing warmth into the bones hours, she endured the crushing weight as more snow, rock
of all present. and ice rained down upon her. As the last of the Alliance’s
peoples passed beneath her, the greenskin pursuers were close
on their heels. As they hacked and slashed at her dying body,
Grimjaw let the strength ebb away from her muscles and the
immense mass of ice and rock came crushing down to seal
her fate.

Two months after the retreat began, with food running out
and hope fading, the first of the Alliance reached their
goal. And what a sight it was. Many dropped to their
knees in astonishment or disbelief; many more
with exhaustion. All were filled with a sense of
wonder and an intense feeling of belonging.
Tears flowed freely.

Raised and made from the rock and ice itself, a majestic city
stood before them, framed by the twin peaks of Usmund
and Burgljot. A vast, glittering blue wall surrounded the
construction and ran as far left and right as could be seen.
Beyond the wall, elegant spires and buildings could be seen
and in the distance, at the heart of the city, rose an imposing
and beautiful citadel, an enormous bastion of azure blue ice
and jet black obsidian.

In front of the massive doors, Talannar Icekin rode ahead


of a fresh army of elves and men. Astride the wall, the
Frostdrake, Einnar, stretched its long sinewy white neck and
roared a welcome to the newcomers. The ranks of Talannar’s
army parted and the great flow of people poured through the
gate. They were home.

148
A Growing Power
Background
In the comparatively little time that has passed since the
construction of Chill, the Alliance has continued to build
layers of defences around the city. Lines of watchtowers and
outposts run throughout the Ice Mountains for scores of
leagues in all directions. With the support and stability of
Chill, and the aid of the ice queens, many smaller settlements
have been established, garrisoned and protected by the armies
of the Alliance. None have the stature and majesty of Chill,
but each is remarkable in its own right and these offer a
welcome sanctuary for weary travellers.

After the greenskin invasion was defeated at the wall of Chill


and the remnants pursued and ridden down, work quickly
begun on securing and maintaining safer and more reliable
roads into the city. Traders and merchants, while still at the
mercy of the weather and bandits, now regularly make the
journey to and from the city, watched by Alliance patrols.
All return south with astonishing stories of the city and
its wonders, still dismissed by many in their audiences as
fanciful and exotic nonsense.

The birth of this new kingdom and its growing influence


has not gone unnoticed. Talannar’s Northern Alliance must
keep a constant vigil against those that would threaten it and
seek to uncover its mysteries. Talannar is believed to have
discovered a great and powerful secret in the frozen wastes,
and jealousy, curiosity and fear in equal measure have led to
a succession of skirmishes and outright conflict with the clans
of the Varangur and others. The Basileans remain deeply
unsure of this new but powerful ally against the wave of evil
spilling into the world.

In the depths of the Abyss, suspicious minds have turned


their baleful gaze from the forces of the Green Lady to the
watch towers and caverns of the mountain empire, and the
forges of Zarak and Diew have been working tirelessly to
prepare for invasion. The defences of the Alliance will soon
be tested once more.

149
Background

150
Background

151
Background

The Neutral Forces


To be neutral in the world of Pannithor is not merely a refusal to align oneself with this race or that, nor merely a failure to declare for the forces
of good or evil. Such measures of behaviour barely exist in the frame of reference for these intriguing races, and often there are not even words
for these outlooks in their vocabularies. Mostly, their motivations lie in far more sweeping concepts, less vague, less prone to interpretation.
In the case of the Forces of Nature, natural balance and ecological harmony are the guiding influences. For the mercenary race of Ogres it is
simply a matter of coin, of the building and maintaining of certain reputations. For others, they are simply looking to establish their own place
in the world and only looking out for their own kind. Neutral armies can therefore be found on either side of any battle, switching allegiances at
any moment based on their own private principles and goals, and this only adds to their already intriguing nature. Mankind, perhaps the most
populous and travelled of all Pannithor’s inhabitants, is considered, for the most part, neutral in its outlook.

152
Background
Forces of Nature
To understand the forces that march beneath the banners of It was a journey which took her through some of the most
the Green Lady, one must first understand the deity herself. horrific battles of the war. With each fresh atrocity she
Unique among all the old and new gods of Pannithor, the witnessed, her Celestian heart took pity upon a new mortal
Green Lady seeks always to preserve balance in the world, to race which had fallen victim to this terrible conflict - even
stave off the dominance of good and evil alike, and to crush as Liliana’s thirst for vengeance drove her own darker nature
those who would seek to undo it, whoever they may be. to perform terrible acts against those who made them suffer.
Thus it was that the Salamanders, the Hydras, the Pegasi
The reason for this lies in the unique nature of the lady and more came to swell the ranks of the Lady, groups of each
herself. When the Fenulian Mirror shattered, it is common retreating with her to the Forests to make their new home,
knowledge that all of the Celestians either perished forever even as their own habitats burned in the fires of the Wicked
or were split into opposing halves of their own selves, their Ones’ spite or the Shining Ones’ vengeance.
noble and dark sides becoming separate identities which
would then go on to wage the most destructive and
costly war in the history of the world. What is
less well-known, is that at least one Celestian
was subject to neither fate. Karinna, ever one of
the most withdrawn and secretive of her kind,
was deep within her sacred groves when the
mirror was rent asunder. Enveloped within those
dark canopies, she was protected from the effects
of the Sundering. As her kin raged and fought
around the world, and cataclysm after cataclysm
smote the heavens, the land and the sea, the Lady
knew her time was short. If she was to survive the
catastrophe which had claimed her Kin, she had to
find some way to become more than she was.

The answer presented itself when the Wicked One known as


Liliana stumbled into her glades. The creatures of the Forests
rallied to destroy this invader, instinctively looking to protect
their Lady. But the Lady saw in Liliana’s eyes a sense of
torment. The Wicked One had fled into the Glades to escape
the war outside, feeling neither part of one side nor the other.
The rending of Liliana’s soul in twain had not been clean.
Good still clung to her, leaving her neither wholly evil nor
by any stretch pure. The Lady looked upon her kin and knew
what must be done - calling on the powers of the elements,
Fire, Earth, Air and Water, she bound Liliana’s suffering,
pain and essence within her own frame, becoming more than
she had once been.

The conjoining of the two beings soothed the pain of Liliana,


while providing the power the Lady needed to venture
outside her own realm. Everywhere, the world was in
chaos, a conflict to end all conflicts, whose size and ferocity
confounded even the mighty intellect of a Celestian such as
the Lady. She knew only one goal - balance. And that balance
must start in her own bifurcated soul. With that single drive
in mind, the Lady set out to make her way through the God
War in search of Liliana’s Shining aspect.

153
Background

After many journeys, and many battles, the Lady finally found became whole once again, extinguishing the pain both halves
Liliana’s Shining aspect at the battle of Madness. Where had felt, and creating a gestalt which would rule over the
the Straits of Madness lie today - so called because of the forces of Nature forever more.
tendency of sailors who chance the passage to succumb to
insanity - was once a chain of paradisical islands, hunting From that day to this, the Lady has commanded not merely
grounds for naiads of the Neritican realm. Ba’el, one of the the creatures of the Glades, but races from across the world,
mightiest of the Wicked Ones, had gathered an army of united in their debt of gratitude for her actions during the
demonic creatures to lay waste to these creatures, and Liliana God War and inspired by her vision and energy. The elves of
stood before him. The ocean waters heaved in revulsion at the the Sylvan Kin also worship her, but it is in her own forces
presence of such evil, the sky above as black as tar. Liliana that the true power of the lady lies, not least of which are
was battered but defiant when the Lady arrived, at the head the druids, an order of men scattered throughout the known
of a vast fleet of her allies, elves and other, feyer creatures world and beyond and sworn to her service. Thus, though the
all working side by side in the name of the Lady. The sight Lady is but one (albeit powerful) being, she has eyes and ears
of her shining aspect alive but in such pain and peril drove and reach across all of Pannithor.
the wicked shard sharing the Lady’s body into a terrible fury,
The Forces of Nature are unique in Pannithor. No other race
such that even Ba’el and his army of darkness could not stand
or faction in the world commands such diversity amongst its
before her. Legions of hellspawn were immolated in the fires
ranks. No other king, lord or deity can command such fierce
of her anger, and Ba’el himself retired from the field to lick
loyalty as the Lady does from so many far-flung ends of the
the wounds inflicted upon him that day. When the battle was
globe. With the power at her command, the Lady could crush
over, an exhausted Liliana fell, limp, to be caught at the last
all before her and rule supreme, should she so choose. It is
moment by the Lady. At her touch, Liliana’s corporeal form
the very fact that she does not which ensures those loyalties,
flashed into motes of light, which were absorbed into the
and maintains her position in the world.
Lady’s divine frame. Within her, the twin aspects of Liliana

154
The real uniqueness of the Forces of Nature lies in the way in
Background
In battle, the Forces of Nature are nigh unstoppable once
which they are used. Other armies march for coin or power. roused to action. Usually commanded in the field by one or
They stride forth to conquer territories for distant masters, more members of the druidic order, the army will represent
crush enemies in petty vengeance or simply for the chance a balance between the four elements, Earth, Wind, Water
to exult in the act of war itself. The Forces of Nature play a and Fire, with creatures representing each in its ranks.
larger and more patient game. Accompanying them will be all manner of additional
creatures – mighty giant Eagles, Elemental Constructs,
It is the singular composition of the Lady – a Celestian heart enormous Forest Shamblers and more. To face the wrath of
balanced by the darker and nobler aspects of one of her kin the Lady is to war against nature itself, and the irresistible
– that informs and strengthens her striving for balance in might of her armies is matched by the ferocity of their
the world above all other things. Alone of her kin, the Lady magic, which calls on the very elements themselves. An army
saw the true horrors of the God War. Where the Shining fighting the forces of the Lady fights as though facing the
Ones and Wicked Ones fought against each other with all the very world itself.
petty focus of siblings trying to outdo one another, conscious
only of their own goals and desires and largely heedless of It is only rarely that the Lady herself will take to battle with
the destruction they rained upon the world around them, her forces. Even the druids themselves give thanks for this, as
the Lady saw all of the horror and hope of the God War in the fury of the Lady is terrible to behold and nigh impossible
equal measure. She witnessed the nobility of the mortal spirit to contain, even for her most trusted lieutenants. It is when
fighting against impossible odds and she despaired of the her darker aspect is roused that the enemies of Nature
awful selfishness of those who would use slaughter to further tremble, knowing that their inevitable doom by her hand is
their own ends. She saw the awful complacency of good men nigh.
when victory seemed assured, and the unimaginable terror of
a world blanketed by evil that nearly blotted any trace of light
from its face.

It is this need for balance which drives every decision of the


Lady, and every action taken by her forces. The Druids form
a secretive network which is threaded throughout the world,
mysterious lone travellers wandering from place to place and
observing the course of all life in every corner of civilisation.
When a Druid observes something which might indicate
a tipping of the balance – the fall of a final line of defence
for one faction or another, or the swelling of a conquering
force to invincible proportions – they will send word back to
the Forests of Galahir via the very birds, insects and other
creatures, that the Lady may judge the situation and call forth
her forces accordingly.

155
Background

The Druids Whatever the truth, the man became the first of the sacred
Order of Druids, a secretive sect which has grown and spread
Legend has it that the first druid was a man bewitched into to cover the entire world with a network of agents dedicated
the Lady’s service by her magic. Some tales have it that this to the teachings of the Lady and the preservation of balance.
was a mighty warrior of noble birth who wandered into her
realm one day. Impressed by his boldness and having need of To be a druid is to forsake all other masters, all other loyalties
influence beyond the borders of Galahir, the Lady enraptured and pledge oneself completely to the Lady and her works. It
him with her powers and caused him to foreswear his old requires a particular combination of skill, intellect and raw
path in favour of a new life of service in her name, preserving physical stamina and prowess, to say nothing of courage and
peace and balance throughout the world. Other versions of determination. It is a profession suited more to humans than
the tale have the man as a mere foot soldier, the sole survivor any other noble race, and it is for this reason that the Order
of a particularly brutal battle in the God War, who swore of Druids is almost exclusively composed of humans. Elves
fealty to the Lady having witnessed her attempting to save may be stronger magic users, but they also lack humility
his people. Still others have him as a learned mage who and the will to subvert themselves to a greater cause. Dwarfs
sought the Lady out to study her unique nature in the years are stubborn, and generally mistrustful of anything and
following the God War and instead fell hopelessly in love with everything that is not dwarfish. During the God War, the
her and swore an oath to be forever in her service. Lady learned the capacity for humanity to sit right on the
edge of morality and judgement, to walk the grey line others
either do not or cannot see. It is no accident that she chose a
human as the first druid, nor that the order is mostly human
in composition to this day.

Druids are masters of magic to rival even the greatest elven


mage, though they use magic in a very different way. Where
elves and human mages tend to forcefully take what power
they require and actively bend it to perform their will, druids
are more subtle, sensing and feeling the ripples, ebbs and
flows of magical force and gently altering these to achieve
the desired effect. Ever mindful of the need for balance in
all things, a druid will never commit to ‘mastery’ of one or
the other form of magic as other magic users do, nor will
they ever attempt magic that is beyond their limits. To be
a druid is to accept limitations rather than push against
them, to ensure the world and the forces which shape it are
disturbed as little as possible by your actions. Where an elven
battle mage might be described as a tsunami of magical force,
pummelling his opponents with raw magical might, a druid is
more akin to a river, gently eroding with natural force. Where
a human wizard might spend years mastering one particular
lore or element of magic, a druid will study all, seeking never
to master, but merely to guide appropriately.

A druid is a spy as much as a mage and leader, and


must be able to escape difficult and often outnumbered
situations should they be discovered. They must also often
take responsibility for the direction of armies in battle,
marshalling their disparate resources to the best possible
effect, sometimes while ensuring the foe is not completely
destroyed. Thus, every druid is statesman, warrior, general,
mage, academic and more. There are no comparable
individuals in the world, and no similar order exists in any of
the realms of men, elves or dwarfs.

156
So subtle are the druids, that to this day the full extent of
Background
Other creatures live within the borders of Galahir – in fact
their infiltration and works in the world at large are not even in no other place in the world are so many races represented
suspected, far less known. Elves, dwarfs and men of whom a in so small a space. Naiads, Sylphs and more cohabit in the
druid knows every last intimate detail, who he may even have varied environs of the great space, each keeping to the part
walked a mere step behind during many years of observation, most suited to them but co-existing in peace and harmony.
would still greet him as a stranger should he reveal himself. Many of these creatures are not native to this part of the
world, such as the Salamanders, and are either descendants
Such dedication and power require great sacrifice. A druid of those who took refuge in Galahir during the God War or
forsakes all former ties, all former family, friends and emissaries from their homelands, sent as part of the ongoing
oaths when admitted to the order. Nothing less than total pacts and debts made during that terrible time.
dedication to the Lady and her cause is acceptable. It is
telling that in the centuries since the first druid, not one of Thus Galahir has untold acres of sweeping woodlands, but
their kind has betrayed this dedication, nor even appeared the common reference to it as a forest realm is a misnomer.
close to doing so. Within her borders, the Lady counts mountains, streams,
lakes and dark caverns. Truly, like its queen herself, the
Galahir realm of Galahir is a many faceted thing, reflecting all aspects
of the world around it.
Galahir itself is an enduring marvel of the world. As the
fastness of the Lady, it is fitting that its size and boundaries Of course, this bountiful variety and its place in the world
wax and wane over the course of time, though the central mean that Galahir is often subject to the unwelcome
forest itself, the great green cloister of the goddess, remains attentions of outside invaders. Orcs and their smaller cousin
unchanged and, until recently, unsullied. Originally the races often trespass into the borders of Galahir as they
heart of the elven civilisation in times long since past, it was continue their endless quest for destruction. Abyssal Dwarfs
deserted by most of them as their power grew, and with it have been known to venture within, seeking fuel for their
their appetite for conquest and the building of mighty cities furnaces in the magnificent and ancient trees of the forests.
of stone and glass. Those few who remain – the Sylvan Kin Even men, from the wild barbarians of the Ardovikian Plains
– retain the favour of the Lady as well as her gratitude, for to adventurers and rogues from Basilea and other, smaller
theirs was part of the power that warded off the calamity of cities in the remains of Primovantor, seek to penetrate the
the Sundering from splitting her in twain. Returning the mysterious depths of the realm in search of sport, plunder or
favour during the Time of Ice, the Lady wove arcane defences both. Few meet with any success, and most lose their lives,
around the centre of the forest realm, preventing the glaciers or worse, when they cross the borders of Galahir and seek to
of Winter from crushing the Sylvan Kin and their realm make sport of its inhabitants.
while Primovantor and Arkovidia were smothered beneath
the frigid onslaught. The Sylvan Kin worship and fear the
Green Lady in equal measure, as awed by her beauty and
kindness as they are terrified by her unpredictable moods and
awful temper.

157
Background

The dull thunk of the axe biting into the trunk seemed simple – the trees needed to be felled quickly. He gestured
swallowed by the oppressive canopy above, lost among to the big troll, and the dull creature swung its oversized
the branches and leaves which blotted out the sky. Krug axe again, the blade hitting the wood with the same dull
didn’t like it, his every instinct revolting against the thud, shivering the trunk as the notch in it was opened
unnatural dark. An orc needed to see the sky, even if it another foot. The tree was massive, probably ancient, but
was choked with thick black smoke, covered in dirty rain that was of no concern to Krug – young or old, it would
clouds or lit only by the pinpricks of stars. His hindbrain burn just the same, and its absence would at least admit a
railed against this enclosure like a chained beast, keeping bit of light into this place.
his limbs tense, his ears pricked and his eyes flitting from
shadow to shadow. He was jolted from his reverie by the arrival of his
number two, Dul. Or, more accurately, by the vile
Krug had not ascended to leadership of the Bloody Tooth stench that his most trusted lieutenant brought with him
tribe by being a coward, but neither had he wrenched wherever he went, announcing his presence seconds
that authority to himself by being stupid. He didn’t like before the orc himself arrived. Krug noted as he turned
being here in the forest like this, and the solution was that Dul was chewing on a goblin leg, and hoped another
conversation about eating their servants wasn’t on the
cards.
“It’s quiet,” noted Dul, with all of his usual observational
nuance. But then, Dul hadn’t got his position by being
a great conversationalist – his scars attested to that.
Krug grunted by way of a reply, unwilling to be drawn
into conversation while the darkness was everywhere,
hiding who knew what.
Dul opened his mouth again, but
whatever nugget of wisdom he was
about to share would remain a
mystery, stuck to the roof of his
mouth along with his tongue by
a bolt the size of a small dagger.
Dul’s eyes crossed as his
legs went from beneath
him, his corpse sliding
heavily on the floor.
Before he had hit the ground,
Krug was running, bellowing orders.
The troll stopped in its work and looked up, confused,
its tiny brain uncomprehending. Krug bellowed at the
thing again, but it continued to stare stupidly at him.
The other lads were running now, coming towards him
with questions on their faces. He realised that aside

158
Background
from Dul’s slumped body there was nothing out of place. bones and pulverised flesh that had been a troll only
No swarm of enemies, no sign of the killer, just the eerie, seconds before. Krug made a very hasty decision.
unnatural quiet of the forest.
“Hack it to pieces!”
He straightened up and punched the nearest orc in the
gut for good measure. It wouldn’t do to look weak in As if his words broke some spell, the other lads began to
front of his troops. move. Above the sound of their charge came a whistling
and two went down, half a dozen arrows in each of their
“Some sneaky blighter has done for Dul. Orgug, you’re backs. An inhuman scream, almost like a horse, rolled
my number two. Raghat, Hig, search those trees over out, and the sound of hooves reached him. Krug was
there and see if you can find the sneaky wotsit. The rest yelling, hoping the rest of the tribe might hear. It was too
of you, keep your eyes peeled.” late.
They snapped to it, though he couldn’t help but feel they The centaurs burst into the small area, crashing through
went about it with a little less speed than they could have the undergrowth and charging straight into the orcs.
done. He’d have to watch this. Those who were not trampled beneath the hooves were
hacked apart by wicked blades, and then, as quickly
A cry from the direction of the troll had him turning as they had appeared, the centaurs vanished again,
on the spot, ready to yell at whatever idiot had got in leaving Krug alone with the rapidly cooling corpses of his
the thing’s way. Instead, he saw one of the lads laid out scouting party.
flat, a flaming sword buried in his guts. Now the others
were paying attention. Orgug was forming them up, Krug had fought many battles, both among his own kind
weapons drawn, tightening into a circle and scanning the to reach his current position and against all manner of
surrounding darkness, looking for some sign of the enemy. other foes. Never in all those years of battle had he seen
two dozen orcs and a troll wiped out with such casual
Another noise, this time the unmistakable sound of bone efficiency. He looked back at the giant walking tree, but
shattering. Krug turned to remonstrate with the troll for it was no longer there – all that remained was the gently
whoever it had just broken and stopped. wobbling axe in the tree trunk. It was as if he had simply
Standing there, rising above everything around it was a – imagined the whole thing, only the bodies and blood there
well it looked like a tree. Except an enormous, murderous to bear witness otherwise.
tree, with massive trunk-like arms and enormous trunk- Krug ran, heading as quickly as he could for the edge
like legs. Its red, glowing eyes narrowed, burning into him of the forest and daylight. Behind him, the bodies of the
like coals. Buried in the side of one leg, still quivering, fallen were already sinking into the loamy earth, claimed
was the troll’s axe, looking now like a goblin’s toy. His by the forest. None invaded the Lady’s realm without
eyes moved down the trunk-leg to the pile of liquefied consequence.

159
Background

Ogres
Of the ogres’ origins as a species, history remains silent.
As with so many things regarding these creatures, their
physiology and psychology are contradictory and strange,
and offer no clues as to their original, yet ancient lineage.
Their massive size and brutal strength recalls the orc, yet
their temperament and sophistication of speech and culture
speaks more to the noble races for which they are seemingly
contemporaries, if the legends and myths surrounding them
have any glimmer of truth.

The most frustrating element of all to scholars looking


for answers to this question is the attitude of the ogres
themselves – put simply, they could not care less.
Theirs is a culture which relies on the oral tradition
rather than written history, and concerns
itself with the practical – the deeds and
achievements of living, breathing ogres
as they march the world, rather than the
metaphysical comings and goings of gods.
It is not that the ogres are foolish enough
not to believe in gods as others do, nor that
they are too unsophisticated to grasp such
lofty concepts. It is simply that knowing
anything about ancient history or the deeds
of ethereal beings is of no use in learning
how to use a weapon, hunt for food, or obtain
work. If the ogres have any concept of, or
belief in, a deity of any kind, it is a very well-
kept secret, or simply not worth mentioning to
outsiders.

Living in the sprawling and frozen landscapes of


the Mammoth Steppe, the ogre race is a tribal
one, scattered across those wild lands in countless
groups ranging in size from small family groups to hordes
several hundred strong. With no cities, no capital and no
recognised overall leader, these tribes move and flow across
the steppes, sometimes meeting but mostly and mysteriously
keeping to their own paths in some great, swirling dance
across the endless plains. Ogres are very family-orientated,
with a calm and neutral temperament in day to day life.
They have no interest in fighting amongst themselves, unless
for pay, and tend to keep to their own save for the annual
gathering known amongst their kind as the Thing.

160
Background
THE THING their kind all combine to give an instant impression of power
and strength. Ogres do not usually find trouble in gaining
employment wherever they wander – there is always someone
The Thing functions in equal parts as a social gathering and
with money who needs things done of which they themselves
a ‘Parliament’ of sorts to ogrekind. Disputes will be settled,
are not capable, and whether going forth to retrieve some
marriages and other bonds and agreements between tribes
stolen artefact or kidnapped relative, or fighting in the army
arranged and trade carried out. Of greater note to the outside
of a small fiefdom, the usefulness of an ogre is undisputed.
world, it also serves as a recruitment place for the great
mercenary companies of the ogres. Some such ogres naturally find themselves gravitating to
others of their kind over time, throwing in their lot with
Each year, a handful of ogres will feel the Calling. This is
some ogre captain or other and joining a mercenary band
the name given to a feeling experienced by a relative few
to wander the world offering their services to whoever pays
that they do not wish to be part of their family or tribe, but
the best coin. Others – a rare few – will become captains
instead want to make their own way into the world and see
themselves, recruiting more of their kin and carving fierce
what can be seen. Sometimes, they will die, because even an
reputations in whatever part of the world they work.
ogre with their mighty strength and ability is but one creature
in the frozen wastes, which are a hostile and terrible place. The Thing is the one time each year when these mercenary
Others however, will make the perilous journey into the companies will return home to the Steppe and catch up with
wider world, drawn inexorably to one of the towns or cities the stories of their kind, bring back gold or other riches, and
that spread across the southern reaches of the continent and see if any others fancy trying their chances at the mercenary
beyond. life. Those who are tempted will seldom rise to captaincy
themselves – they do not feel the Calling in the same way and
An ogre who has survived to maturity in the harsh environs
will often return home after a few years – but they will still
of the Steppe and the fraught journey from it to civilisation
form an important backbone of the mercenary company and
will be a fearsome individual indeed. In physical stature
ensure the growth and continuance of its legend.
alone, ogres stand a sight taller than the largest man or elf,
and several times as broad. Prominent jaws belie the fierce
intelligence possessed by their kind, and the mountainous
slabs of muscle, broad shoulders and barrel-sized fists of

161
Background

Ogre Mercenaries Ogre Armies


Beside their obvious physical attributes in terms of size, Though ogre mercenary companies are a common enough
strength and fighting ability, ogres possess a number of sight across the length and breadth of Pannithor, whole
other qualities which have seen them become the recognised armies of them are a rarer encounter. Ogres in general
mercenary race in all civilised lands. Firstly there is have very little reason to form armies – they have few if
their general attitude – an ogre is naturally neutral in any natural enemies in the wider world or on the plains,
temperament, not easily roused to anger and willing to listen and their pressing desire is generally for more money and
to all sides of any story. Of course, it is far easier to be this notoriety.
relaxed on these matters when you are large and powerful
enough to end any argument very quickly indeed, but it is Nonetheless, sometimes honour or other, baser motives will
still of note just how neutral ogres are. It is not unheard necessitate such a gathering, and none who witness such a
of for them to fight for any side – including the forces of spectacle are likely to forget it. In some cases, a foolish king
the orcs, the Abyssal Dwarfs and sometimes even the Abyss or other ruler of some minor state will refuse payment of his
itself, as often as they fight for humans, elves and dwarfs. due to a mercenary captain once the work is complete. In
Sometimes they will even find themselves fighting the very others, an especially brave orc or barbarian band will seek to
forces they aided mere weeks or even days before, driven carve a little slice of their own territory in the ancestral lands
simply by the economics of the situation. of the Tribes, perhaps attacking the women and children of a
Tribe to do so. Whatever the reason, when motivated to war,
The other quality which assists them in their ubiquity there are few military forces on Pannithor that can stand in
as soldiers for hire is the sophistication of their speech, the way of the ogres.
something obviously cultivated heavily in a people which
relies on the oral tradition of storytelling to preserve what Rallying to them come the goblins who naturally follow any
they see as the important parts of their history and culture. ogre mercenary band, attracted both to the wealth and power
This extends into a surprising talent for languages, and of the larger ogres and also to the protection afforded them by
the most renowned and storied among the ogre captains proximity to the mighty warriors. Goblins who follow ogres
can command many dozens of languages, from the lilting in this way are often referred to as ‘red’ goblins, from their
musical speech of Therennia Adar to the gravelly, blunt habit of wearing bright red rags tied to their armour so that
tones of Golloch and of course, the Common tongue. It is a the ogres might distinguish them from the enemy in the heat
tremendous asset indeed to a mercenary to be able to speak of the fight. For their part, the ogres tolerate the goblins well
and understand not just the speech but the subtle nuances of enough – they eat little, and prove useful in many menial
the language of their employers, and few indeed are the races tasks such as the upkeep of weapons and the beasts of burden
who will dare attempt to double cross or mislead an ogre such as gores for the chariots and the giant mammoths of the
captain more than once. Steppe. Ogres take a fairly proprietary attitude towards ‘their’
goblins, and woe betide the unlucky individual who makes
Finally, there is their apparently inherent grasp of tactics the mistake of kicking a goblin wearing the red rag, or indeed
and strategy. Ogres on the plains rarely fight each other, the goblin who is foolish enough to wear one in order to try
and even more rarely find themselves confronted with any and benefit from its protection when not a member of an ogre
other race brave enough to challenge them, yet somehow they entourage. Ogres do not take kindly to anything belonging to
seem to have an understanding of military matters almost in them being mistreated, as many have discovered, most in a
their blood. Many are the opponents who have been caught fairly terminal way.
napping by the clever flank manoeuvre or sudden enfilade
of a canny ogre captain and his crew, their perception of the Giants are also known to fight alongside ogres, recognising in
ogres as unsophisticated brutes melting away in a haze of them a sort of equal and also an opportunity for good fighting
chopping blades and devastating crossfire. and good ale. The stature of giants is matched only by their
appetite and they are not fussy eaters – some of the more
These sophistications aside, the main asset of an ogre to any lurid tales of ogres eating the slain after battle are actually
fighting force is their enormous strength and prodigious in reference to giants who, while not especially enamoured
fighting ability. Wielding two handed weapons which a man of the taste of uncooked man, dwarf or elf flesh, will eat
would struggle even to lift, the ogres are a whirlwind of anything that presents itself in a pinch.
destructive force, barrelling through entire regiments of the
foe and scattering even the bravest and most capable warriors Thus, as the ogres do the bulk of the fighting, their
around them. Some take to firearms, having enormous, warriors move forwards with unstoppable force, smashing
artillery-sized crossbows or cannons constructed for them by and hacking apart anything standing in their way. Their
willing dwarf artisans and using them to devastating effect. Boomers and Shooters wreak bloody havoc from afar and
their chariots pulp anything stupid enough to stand before

162
them. Meanwhile, the allies of the ogres swarm forth to mop
Background
This being the case, where the money goes is a mystery.
up what remains behind them. An ogre army is thus akin to
a force of nature in a very real sense, its enemies destroyed Some posit that the ogres bury their wealth, and this has led
before it and left behind picked clean and quite often eaten. to many ill-fated expeditions into the frozen wastelands and
Once the point is proven, the army will often disband again, beyond in search of some secret hidden hoard. Others assert
splintering into its component warbands who will once again that the ogres eat their winnings, which has led to some
go their separate ways, but the raw violence and brutality even more ill-fated expeditions into the privies of various
of their passage will live long in the memory of those who establishments. Certainly it seems that they do not take their
witnessed it. wealth home to the Thing to pass to their tribes – for who
among them would have use for it?
It is well indeed for the other races of Pannithor that ogres do
not tend towards the conquering life – for surely if they did, Whatever the truth, the fact remains that ogres fight for
none could stand in their way. money and money alone – they have even been known to face
each other on different sides of whatever dispute is occurring
in their vicinity, a fact which bothers them not one jot as long
Money as the pay is good. Perhaps one day the mystery of where this
The relationship of ogres to money is perhaps the greatest wealth goes to will be revealed – in the meantime it is enough
mystery about them after that of their origins. What is certain to know that any with enough money to offer will be able to
is that they do not use it on the Steppe, where no cities exist secure the services of the best mercenaries in the world.
and trade is done rarely and on a barter system. Gold and
jewels are of no help in surviving the frozen wastes, and this
nomadic people have no vaults or fortresses in which to store it.

And yet, when a mercenary captain ventures forth into


the wider world, the acquisition of more and more wealth
becomes his or her primary goal. Dwarfs are often said to
have a passion for gold and other fine metals and jewels, but
ogre mercenaries seem consumed by it, their sole purpose in
building up their reputation and legend apparently being to
drive up their prices. There are some among their kind who
– by any educated reckoning – have acquired the wealth of
a small kingdom many times over, and yet they never waver
from their life of mercenary wandering. Of course, some of
the wealth must go on food, travel, weaponry and the like, but
ogres are not fools and rarely is any merchant or smith likely
to try and take even the slightest advantage in their prices.

163
Background

GROKAGAMOK AND THE of the services of dependable mercenaries to defend their


interests. These are Grokagamok’s bread and butter, and in

GRANITE FISTS
recent years he has taken more and more to staying in that
area.

Even in the rarefied company of his massive kin, Given his enormous length of experience, Grokagamok has
Grokagamok is a legend, spoken of with equal reverence by acquired a wealth of tactical and strategic expertise which
his fellows as by those who have been fortunate enough to surpasses even that of his fellow ogres. Few indeed are
hire his services and the relatives of those unlucky enough to the battlefield tricks which Grokagamok has not learned,
be on the receiving end of his attentions. perfected and even adapted, and never in the long and storied
history of the Granite Fists has the band been defeated, no
For three decades now, the Granite Fists have plied their matter the foe.
trade over the length and breadth of Mantica, the vast region
circling the infant sea and reaching into the icy lands of The Granite Fists themselves are a curious group – unlike
the north, ranging further and for longer than any other most mercenary bands, and in common with their captain,
mercenary band in the history of the ogre race. they rarely go back to the homelands, and never permanently.
Nobody ever leaves the Granite Fists – in most bands long-
Grokagamok himself is massive, even by the standards of his serving members may eventually go forth to make their own
kind. Covered in criss-crossing scars which are so many and fortune as captains, but such is the legend and kudos attached
dense that not a single patch of original tissue remains, he to being a member of the Fists that none can conceive of any
stands a head taller than any of his fellows, and noticeably captaincy which would surpass it. And anyway, none would
broader. In one hand he bears the massive axe known as the dare tread on Grokagamok’s patch, which in fairness is
Amputator, a weapon which has earned its title many times wherever he says it is on any given day.
over in the fierce battles Grokagamok has waged over the
years. Over the course of his immense career, it is certain that
Grokagamok has acquired an enormous personal fortune,
He has fought for all of the noble races, and other, darker but where it has gone and what he intends for it is just as
masters in his career, but Grokagamok tends to prefer mysterious as for any of his kind. It is true that the Fists
fighting alongside men. Elves he find haughty and aloof, not have greater expenses than most, living in the finest quarters
impressed by his scatological humour and feeling themselves in whatever part of the world in which they live, and using
superior even to one who speaks their many dialects as only the best weapons and equipment, but even this cannot
flawlessly as he. Dwarfs he finds personable enough, account for the sheer amount of coin which they have earned
with their solid belief in the power of promises and their in their 30 years of work. Some wonder if Grokagamok, in
promptness of payment, but he also finds their short stature keeping with his unusual nature, is planning on one day
a challenge, and is left with a persistent back ache whenever retiring and buying one or more of the kingdoms in which
he has dealings with them. Even orcs have sometimes hired he has fought, to spend the rest of his days. Others presume
his services, though they have occasionally found themselves that the ogre captain is just keeping every option open, just as
unable or simply unwilling to pay, which has resulted in he does on the battlefield. One thing is for sure, whatever his
exchanges which were far more unpleasant for them than plans, the world will know about them when Grokagamok is
Grokagamok. Along the northern shores of the Infant Sea good and ready, and not a moment before.
however, there tend to be many rich men who own small
countries or city ports and find themselves often in need

164
[Cool Art here]
Background

165
Background

The Trident Realm of Neritica


A wind starts in the west, blowing in the mountains and As with many races, the fishmen’s influence on the world
sighing gently onto the plains below, following the paths since has ebbed and flowed. They are fiercely territorial
carved by once-mighty rivers. The wind squalls across the and have clashed and sided with many land dwelling
ocean, churning the surface into a boiling and deadly surf peoples, especially when their watery domain is encroached
that crashes onto the coast of island chains. As the storm upon by the vile, filthy cities that are built on coasts and
unleashes its fury, lands are flooded, ships and lives are lost. rivers. Their relative isolation and remoteness has given
It streams over the land, a lofty spectator as it soars over them a certain aloofness to the general woes and conflicts
clashing armies and blood-stained fields. It howls through of the other races, but when their anger is roused, few can
the deserted remains of a city ruined by earthquakes and stand in the way of the hordes that pour forth from the
villages devastated by flooding. The wind, which has travelled ocean waters. They still feel the call in their hearts to protect
so far and seen so much goes almost unnoticed by those the Mother world from the darkness from which they were
below the surface of the waters of the world. The rivers, the rescued and this more than anything is what drives them to
seas, the oceans and the lakes – these are the domains of the arms and to venture onto the land.
Neriticans, known to simple land-folk as ‘fishmen’.

Deep beneath the seas of the known world lies the Trident
Realm – a triumvirate of glittering underwater kingdoms,
ruled by an aquatic race far beyond the ken of land-dwellers.
Created during the God War by the Dark Smith, the
Neriticans are as capricious as the vast oceans that surround
them, in parts gentle and nurturing, in others spiteful and
full of wrath.

The great Kyron was friend to all beasts of the land, air and
sea. When his dark side helped reform the beasts of the earth
and sky, the Dark Smith had also turned his cruelty on those
of the sea. Hideous magic and dark powers roiled the waters
of the world and man and beast were fused in terrible pain.
When the Lost were rescued by Brave Kyron, those of the
sea fled to the dark depths of the oceans, sent away by their
father to escape his brother’s evil curse. The beings that
were now neither of land nor sea but a strange amalgam of
both, hid themselves away in terror, not understanding what
had become of them. Over the centuries that followed, the
fishmen slowly, cautiously, emerged from their submarine
retreat and began to explore their new world and identity. Of
the races on the land, the fishmen identified most with their
fellow sufferers, the beastmen. Like them, the fishmen began
to fracture into tribes and clans, sometimes divided by type,
sometimes by necessity. They too watched the Great Hunt in
the skies as Kyron stalked his wicked self across the stars by
night and day. But the fishmen felt the effects of the chase
more keenly as the ocean tides responded to the wandering
gods.

166
Background
THE NERITICAN PEOPLE
If a land-dweller was able to visit the undersea realms of Neritica, they would find a diverse population of creatures, from
humanoid sea-folk to all manner of lesser races, aquatic beasts of burden, and ferocious monsters. Though all of these creatures
would seem strange to the average mortal, scholars have recorded four distinct species of sentient ‘fishman’, for want of a better
word, all of whom are naturally suited to certain tasks, be it at war and at home.

Naiads
The most common of the Neriticans to be seen above the surface are the naiads. These lithe and graceful female warriors
are often seen fighting alongside the armies of the Mother herself and, far more rarely, with some human realms lucky
enough to acquire their services. Naiads have a fell reputation amongst Pannithor’s sailors, for they have been known
to use their strangely alluring forms to attract ships onto jagged rocks, and drag men to their doom. They are spiteful,
fickle, and ferocious, fighting with a skill to rival the elven races. As long as they are near to water – whether a babbling
spring or the open ocean – they are also incredibly resolute, drawing energy from the water’s flow to heal even the most
grievous wounds. Naiads are ingenious, too, harnessing the great sea-monsters known as Wyrms to carry them into
battle, and making use of advanced weaponry, such as harpoon launchers. Long used by the land-dwellers to hunt aquatic
creatures, the use of these weapons is an irony that brings the naiads great joy.

167
Background

Placoderms
Placoderms are the toughest
of the Neriticans, being
large and strong, and
plated in thick scales that are almost
impervious to blades. They are a war-like
species, who organise themselves into warrior guilds, protecting
the Trident Realm from any threat. Even in times of peace, they
organise patrols relentlessly, always drilled, so that when the call to
arms comes, every placoderm is ready to answer it. Predatory and
bloodthirsty, the placoderms view all lesser forms of life as theirs to
hunt. Where their naiad cousins are swift and graceful, placoderms
are steadfast and hardy. They rarely have numbers on their side, and
so tend to adopt solid formations in battle, using tridents and pikes
to keep the foe at arm’s length, stabbing at the enemy as though
from hell’s heart. Enemies who break through their lines are met
only with the second wave of placoderm warriors, armed with huge
axes of stone and thick shell, taller than the average men, and
wielded with such grim efficiency as to crush even the strongest foe.

Thuul
Perhaps the strangest of the Neriticans are
the thuul. These creatures are a bizarre
mix of halfling and octopus. Their skin
is smooth and often purplish in hue,
their bodies squat and broad, and their bulbous heads
terminate at mouths surrounded by long, grasping
tentacles. Some whisper they are touched by the gods,
being fashioned in the image of Kyron himself, and
this may well be true, for their elders have an affinity
for magic far greater than any other Neritican. Thuul
sorcerers are naturally attuned to the elemental power of
water, harnessing it to summon the great beasts of the
ocean to war, and scupper enemy fleets in raging storms.

168
Background
Riverguard
The fourth race often
encountered by land-
dwellers are not true
Neriticans at all. Dubbed the
riverguard for their tendency to dwell near inland
waters, these amphibious creatures belong to tribes that
long ago allied themselves to the Neriticans for mutual
benefit. They are rangy creatures, looking something
like frogs, and perhaps are more akin to the beastmen
of the Herd than fishmen. Due to sacred oaths older
than most civilisations, the riverguard are the first
defence for the Trident Realm, serving as sentinels, and
carefully watching for danger passing through rivers
and estuaries. In battle, they move in great, bounding
leaps, crashing into the midst of the enemy before
attacking with their poisoned weapons.

The Trident Kings


There is, however, a fifth major species, though it has rarely been
encountered, and most land-folk would not recognise it even if they
saw one. These massive Neriticans are the Trident Kings, and to
the best of anyone’s knowledge there are only three in existence at
any one time – each a ruler of one of the kingdoms of the Trident
Realm. No one knows for sure the identity of the Trident Kings,
as they always wear one of the three fabled Masks of Medusa, from
which they draw godlike power. They are widely believed to be
immortal, although it is more likely that, as a Trident King dies,
the mask is gifted to his replacement, who gains some portion of
the knowledge, skill and strength of all the previous wearers. Of
course, who exactly these replacements are, and where they come
from, is anyone’s guess. They certainly do not live amongst the
royal families of the naiads, placoderms and thuul.

A few sainted scholars of Euhedral and from far-flung Cerulea


claim to have studied fragments of certain texts, written upon
scrolls of whale-hide in tongues almost lost to knowledge. It is
thought that the present Neriticans have no written language, but
instead retain racial memories of their history, lore and spirituality
from their birthing – so who wrote these scraps is still a mystery.
These blasphemous writings speak of the gods themselves – soul-
fragments of divinity, cast to the oceans at the culmination of
the God War, and lost for millennia until finally they might be
claimed by a worthy avatar, and the gods might dwell amongst
mortals once more. It is said that when the stars are right, and
the Trident Realm is in great need, a new champion emerges from
the deepest part of the sea – one of the great, forbidden rents in
the ocean floor, where it is believed the Neriticans’ gods slumber.
Some might call these rents ‘chasms’; others might well use the
word ‘abyss’…

169
Background

170
Background

171
Background

THE THREE KINGDOMS Myrrhimm


The kingdom of Myrrhimm occupies the space nearest the
Deep beneath the surface of the oceans, there currently exist Great Deep – that impossibly deep trench that is so venerated
three major kingdoms, each ruled by a near-mythical Trident by the Neriticans. Watchtowers line either side of the trench,
King. The kingdoms were born from the forced breakup of their bioluminescent beacons pulsating should any trespasser
a former, larger empire when the war against Winter ended draw near. Of course, given that such trespass usually results
and the Infant Sea was created. This catastrophic event had in some hulking depth horror eternal bursting from the long
far reaching consequences above and below the surface. dark in defence of the trench, such trespass is rare indeed.
The three new kingdoms may bicker and squabble amongst The city of Myrr’Uulis is the capital of Myrrhimm, and its
themselves, but they have a unity of sorts, and together form many iridescent towers shimmer like beacons in the darkness
the Trident Realm. The exact location and range of the to pilgrims from across the Trident Realm. Myrr’Uulis is
kingdoms seems fluid and neigh on impossible for any land home to the elders of the thuul, whose priests are inducted
loving creature to fathom – in fact many confused attempts into the many mysteries of the Great Deep from the moment
are a result of contradictory evidence. The Neriticans are not they breach their egg-sacs. This vast temple-city is protected
in any rush to correct any wayward assumptions however. by the mysterious gigas – large, powerful crustaceans, who
scuttle endlessly around the sea bed, beady eyes vigilant for
intruders to this most sacred realm. The farthest reaches
of Myrrhimm stretch into the icy waters of the north and
Myrrhimm’s king has been rumoured to have dealings with
the fledgling Northern Alliance both above and below the ice.
Whether Myrrhimm itself extends similarly to the southern
ice cap remains a mystery.

Ilythish
The farthest-flung kingdom is Ilythish, home to the greatest
population of naiads in the Trident Realm. Ostensibly
the smallest of the realms, it is also the most beautiful,
with verdant fields of aquatic flora, resplendent reefs and
bioluminescent fauna providing its cities and villages with
unrivalled splendour. The naiads themselves are often seen
Medu’Syth as vain and self-absorbed, although in truth they live long,
The largest and most powerful of the kingdoms is Medu’Syth. peaceful lives, which they fill with light and laughter. Yet
This vast realm of reef-cities and cave-dwellings covers many they harbour a dark secret: naiads have a thirst for killing
hundreds of leagues of ocean floor beneath the Endless Sea, and cruelty that goes beyond the simple barbarism of their
sprawling across Pannithor’s equator and culminating in the placoderm kin. They go to great lengths to ensnare victims,
great undersea city of Yth’Medu, with its labyrinthine mazes body and soul, often sending parties to the surface to seduce
of coral, sunken elven ruins, and carved rock-temples. If any sailors, fishermen and coastal villagers, before dragging them
of the fishmen’s territories can be said to be cosmopolitan, back to Ilythish. If one were to look closely at the settlements
it would be Yth’Medu. Here large domes of magical energy of naiads, they would find that the coral grows amongst
create pockets of air so that friends of the riverguard may mountains of glittering treasure, hulks of human ships, and
take respite from the salty sea, and even emissaries from the the skeletal remains of mortals, picked clean by swarms of
Brokenwall Islands may visit to treat with the ruling family. carnivorous fish.
None should ever mistake the hospitality of the Sythians for
weakness, however, for any outsider who has laid eyes on the
glories of Yth’Medu cannot have failed to notice the living
forts of the placoderm army, and the ceaseless patrols of those
ferocious warriors.

172
Background
THE NERITICANS AT WAR This harnessing of the sea’s elemental power can sometimes
result in the creation of a truly terrible being – the coral
giant. Knitted together from the living creatures of the sea,
The Neriticans’ major allies are, predictably, those of the
these massive beasts drag themselves to the shore, gathering
Forces of Nature and the beastmen of the Herd with whom
strength and regenerating even the most grievous wounds as
they share a common history and empathy. The armies of the
they fight. Such an embodiment of nature’s wrath has rarely
fishmen will march to war whenever they feel threatened or
been seen on Pannithor, but typifies the ferocity and resolve
the natural balance of the world is endangered. So relentless
of the Neriticans.
are they in defence of the natural order that even orcs have
learned to be wary of water, lest some great beast drags them The ability of the Neriticans is not limited to their proximity
to a watery grave. to water, although canny generals quickly learn that they are
more dangerous when water is abundant. Most Neriticans
Neriticans excel at hit-and-run attacks, usually emerging from
have lungs as well as gills, and can march as well as any
lakes and estuaries with great rapidity, and in great number,
man. Eventually, however, they do have to return to their
with a fury that only nature can conjure. Should a foe
aquatic homes, and so Neriticans rarely have any interest in
attempt to engage the Neriticans upon the seashore, they will
holding objectives or fortifying positions. They attack swiftly
quickly count the cost of their mistake, for that is where the
and decisively, sacking any settlement or stronghold that they
fishmen’s home advantage becomes overwhelming. Not only
see as a threat, before retreating back whence they came. The
do the Neriticans draw great strength from the salty spray
coordination and single-mindedness of the Neriticans is so
of the ocean, but they can also summon forth the greatest
alien to most mortal commanders that they are often caught
monsters of the deep to aid them in battle, from krakens and
on the backfoot – Neriticans will always attack rather than
wyrms to knuckers and depth horrors. The sorcerer-priests of
defend, always sally forth rather than be besieged, and always
the thuul begin their sibilant, ululating chants, summoning
fight to the bitter end rather than allow any to taint their
forth great storms to pummel the enemy, as more and more
natural habitats.
horrific beasts drag themselves from the surf. Elementals and
devilish nokken materialise within the waves, and propel When the winds of war blow strong and sweep across the
themselves at the enemy with unrivalled spite and fury. land, they stir the waters of the world and nervous eyes keep
watch of the rising tide. Who knows what will emerge from
the depths?

173
Background

Kingdoms of Men
What does it mean to be a human of Pannithor? To the other
races of the world, the answer to this question is as elusive as
it is to humans themselves.

In the taverns and bartering houses of Mantica there is a


common saying, ‘A dwarf is a dwarf is a dwarf.’ Likewise, to
describe something as ‘elvish’ is to endow it with
an immediate and widely understood set of
characteristics. The mention of man, however,
leads only to a raised eyebrow, a stroked beard,
and to yet more questions. To talk of men is at
once as meaningless and as meaningful as to talk of
love, of gods, or of nature itself. For down to the last all
men differ, each swayed by a unique, emotionally conflicted
heart, forever changeable.

Some men glide wistfully over the gleaming battlements


of their legendary castles, garbed in the finest robes, their
bejewelled headwear tilted to the sky in contemplation of
the deepest philosophies. Others toil in the fruitless dirt of
forgotten villages, praying for a bountiful harvest to see them
through the lean winter, cherishing every coin, shivering
each night in the pitiful shacks they call home. There are
men who devote their lives to the gods, to the battles of their
time, to helping the needy, while others plumb the depths of
cruelty, depravity, and betrayal to further their goals. All are
men, and yet no two are ever truly alike.

While numerous clans, tribes, and kingdoms of men have


formed, risen, and fallen during the long ages of time,
humans’ immense diversity has always been at once their
strength and the reason they have never fully conquered the
world.

174
Background
MEN AT WAR beyond the Bitter Islands, reavers set sail in longships,
raiding and trading as far south as Elvenholme and Basilea.
Upon the contested plain of Ardovikia’s young kingdoms, new
Naturally, man’s method of war differs from place to
lands reclaimed from the ice’s retreat are founded. Caravans
place. The Successor Kingdoms are the homes of engineers
of camels criss-cross the deserts of the south between desert
and wizard-scholars, and their armies reflect this. Crude
oases and dry cities, bringing exotic wares from cultures so
gunpowder weapons such as cannon and primitive handguns
far afield what is known of them by the nations around the
are common there. Basilea also possesses this technology, but
Infant Sea is more legend than fact. All add yet more colour
relies more on divine magic and armoured horsemen to win
to the tapestry of the civilisations called Man.
its wars, backed up by griffins and the elohi.
As a whole, men have a somewhat ambivalent relationship
All the kingdoms born from Primovantor’s ruins favour
with the other speaking races of Pannithor. Several states have
blocks of polearms, weapons used for millennia. The
very close ties with the elves, the Valenticans in particular,
Ophidians can draw upon a wide range of troops from
with two great elven cities actually being part of it, and
across their empire; including desert-horsemen, fierce tribal
elven quarters in almost every other city besides. Dwarfs live
warriors from the green south and all manner of light troops
throughout man’s lands, descendants of refugees from the
suited for their harsh land, supported by heavy infantry and
fall of the northern holds and, more recently, King Golloch’s
horse drawn from the Ophidian cities. The Ophidians also
reign. The northern tribes sometimes make common cause
enslave desert spirits to fight for them, and make use of
with the orcs or the Abyssal Dwarfs, or are else forced to fight
legions of the undead.
for them as slaves. The great alliances of the past are fading
The northern tribes are less disciplined, but formidable memories, men are as likely to fight shoulder to shoulder with
nonetheless. Whether steppe rider or sea raider, all are raised the elves and dwarfs as they are to oppose them, and on many
as warriors from childhood, and they are consequently skilled occasions men have fought on both sides of the battle in these
individual fighters. grand alliances. Men, however, most often fight other men,
whether through greed or hatred or honour or just through

THE NATURE OF MEN


misunderstanding. Men are hot-blooded, and not always wise,
their vivacity is a curse as much as it is a blessing.
First stepping onto the world as the hasty creations of a
god whose true affections lay elsewhere, Man has ever
since struggled with its own identify and self-worth, their
shortcomings painfully evident in everything they do. The
devout among men merely expose their insecurities, the
brave do little but reveal their own need for acceptance,
and the depraved exacerbate their need for love. The flaws
of each man are clear to all but himself. This ignorance,
combined with a great fear of their own mortality
and a diverse set of skills has nonetheless allowed
mankind to prosper and propagate, becoming
easily the most numerous of the noble races – on rare
occasions even obtaining mastery as individuals, and often
achieving great things as a people.

Men can be found everywhere, from the most verdant


valley to the harshest environment, anywhere a living can
be scratched from the land. In blazing deserts, the frozen
north, jungle, plain and mountain, men dwell. They exhibit
a bewildering array of outer forms and skin colour, and the
palette of their emotions is equally as varied. Men can be
black of heart or as pure as snow. Men have been known as
great elf Friends, men have been known to embrace and serve
the Abyss willingly. Men are anything but predictable.

Men live in societies ranging from those of great culture


to simple, orcish barbarism, and everywhere in between.
To the far north, hordes of tribesmen fight over the herds
of mammoth and bison with goblins. On the icy seashores

175
Background

176
Background

177
Background

THE SPREAD OF MAN For the main part small and individually weak, it is these
same small kingdoms that are showing the flowerings of
rebirth. For many years little more than barbarian realms, the
With the High Consul of Primovantor dead, much of the
city states, dukedoms and petty principalities of the coast and
land laid waste, the shock of the inundation after the War
mountains have reached fresh levels of understanding, while
with Winter was the final blow to the tottering Republic.
art and science once again flourish.
The remnants of it broke up into warring statelets, and much
was forgotten. Beyond Basilea, dozens of independent city Over the mountains to the north, realms expand, and new
states now rule small kingdoms all over the peninsula of countries are born from the virgin lands of the Young
Primovantia, known as the Successor Kingdoms, and to the Kingdoms, often with the men of the Successor Kingdoms as
north and west of the Dragon’s Teeth mountains, known as their founders.
the Young Kingdoms.
The Young Kingdoms
The Successor Kingdoms Upon the Ardovikian plain, new nations are being born.
The Successor Kingdoms are descended from Primovantor, From the Dragon’s Teeth in the south to the edge of the
but the similarity to Basilea ends there, for they have been Mammoth Steppes, hundreds of small kingdoms, independent
much influenced by admixtures of culture and thought townsteads, isolated keeps and fortified manses have been
from other lands and have followed their own path. There established, each one alternately warring and allying with its
are as many as a hundred of these small statelets, ranging neighbours.
from independent cities to large dukedoms, and the genuine
kingdom of Valentica. These small lands are in a constant The majority are ruled by men, although there are realms of
state of rivalry. War between them is not uncommon. all kinds to be found, from dwarfs and elves to even – it is
whispered – vampires. After twelve centuries, some are only
Valentica now showing promise, absorbing others through treaty or
Perhaps the greatest of them all is Valentica, which occupies conflict, and becoming players on the grander stage.
the entirety of the lands bearing the same name. The people
Cruel tyrants, idealistic nobles, religious zealots, chancers,
here are great traders, keen-eyed sailors with a thirst for
pauper kings, outcast knights, sorcerers and mercenaries –
adventure, and hold close ties with the Sea Elves. Relations
many and more have attempted to carve out a kingdom here,
between Valentica and Basilea vary from the strained to the
by the strength of their steel or the depths of their cunning.
cordial, as Basilea periodically restates its ancient vow and
duty to bring all men under the rule of a new Republic of Some few have been so successful that they even now look
Primovantor. beyond the Young Kingdoms, dreaming of the day that they
may conquer those lands and march across the Dragon’s
Geneza Teeth to Primovantor at the head of an unstoppable army.
Also of note is the mountain duchy of Sathoi, a provider of
skilled mercenary companies, and the city-state of Geneza, The wise see the powers of the future taking root upon the
another sea nation of traders, and great rivals of both the Ardovikian flatlands, yet for now it remains a rough land, full
Valenticans and Sea Kindred. Geneza is unique in that it is of promise and danger. To be a king here is hard, but then
built atop the ruins of an earlier city, drowned by the sea. again, here anyone can become a king.
Unable to escape, the Genezans simply built upwards, and
modern Geneza sits upon the waves like a stone ship. The Northern Tribes
The lands of the north are not an easy place to live and the
Primovantor people who scratch a living there are hardy and resilient from
Whereas once Primovantor was a mountain kingdom looking necessity. Food is scare and life is tribal and harsh. Human
over fertile plains, it is now a peninsula and landmass clans have dominated the region, alongside the ogres, for
containing the vast Bay of Geneza. Most of Primovantor that countless centuries. From the warlords of the horse tribes, to
was not ruined in the war was drowned under the Infant the fur-clad huntsman of the mountain folk, to the raiders
Sea. The holy city of Primantor itself survived, although it is on the bleak, icy coasts and the Shattered Clans and peoples
greatly shrunk in size. The city is now mostly ruinous, trees around the Frozen Sea, the human tribes here have developed
fill its wide boulevards, and the inhabited parts are little an eclectic, abundant and ingenious variety of cultures and a
more than villages, divided by a wilderness of crumbling stubbornness to survive.
masonry.

178
Ophidia
Background
powers the envy of other realms of men, but they do so at
a cost to their souls that few would be willing to pay. It is
Ancient Ophidia, the most venerable of all man’s realms, has only the wisdom of the elven Southern Kindreds that allows
weathered catastrophe and war implacably. Long the rival the magi to tread the fine line between arcane mastery and
of Primovantor, its roots stretch back from even before the damnation, and this pact between men and elves is a rare
ancient Time of Light, born from the hubris and folly of the thing in these troubled times.
Ahmunite people. For thousands of years the God-Kings have
watched over their subjects, who toil as they ever have on the It is a hard truth that much evil in the world has come
perilously thin green strip of fertile land adjoining the River from Ophidia: the necromantic art of death magic, unbound
Ophid. From the depths of their lavish citadels, they also abyssals and those terrible perversions of humanity: the
watch and shape the world: through their vast network of vampires and the ghouls, ghastly by-products of the Ophidian
spies and agents, secretly and subtly weaving the tapestry of sorcerers’ never-ending quest for mastery over death.
history, the rise and fall of empires, and always to their own, Elven scholars studying the ancient histories wonder if the
unfathomable ends. arrogance and greed of the God-Kings will consume them as
they forget the lessons of their own ancestors and the curse
Ophidia is a harsh land, of ritual and cruelty, but also of they inflicted upon them.
beauty and opportunity, of gold and mystery. Its nobility are
sorcerers, demonologists and even necromancers, though This is a land where desert-borne spirits are enslaved to
many whisper that its true masters are anything but human. raise the monuments of the God-Kings, where elaborate
It is a place where adventurers can find their fortune, braving funerary rituals are essential to prevent the return of the
serpent-haunted tombs and ancient ruins. Assassins lurk dead, where proud warriors fight alongside their reanimated
in every shadow, alchemists ply their trade in vast painted fallen ancestors, and where, at the heart of it all, the true,
markets, and women of enviable beauty dance the long nights cold-blooded Ophidians plot and scheme from their glittering
away to the hypnotic sound of drums. towers – surely concocting a return to past glories.
In crumbling temples and golden towers, the Cult of the Magi
make pacts with demonic djinn in exchange for wealth and
near-immortality. From this source, the magi draw magical

179
Background

The Forces of Evil

The Forces of Evil


Unlike the forces of good, whose impure hearts often waver towards the allure of darkness, the forces of evil themselves are
near-uniformly devoid of goodness. What little good exists in the cultures of this dark end spectrum is brutally hunted down and
obliterated at every opportunity. These are, almost without exception, the cruel, the malicious and the vile-hearted races - foul
creatures beyond imagining being chief among their number. They bring nothing but chaos and suffering to the world.
Of course, to them, these are the greatest glories of all, the sources of all their power, pleasure, and desire. Their
accomplishments are ever more far reaching, and having come this far there are many in Pannithor who believe they can never
be stopped.
180
Background
Abyssal Dwarfs
From the distant lands of the north, the lost kin of King each other’s wealth, take it any way possible, and perhaps
Golloch’s folk plot and scheme within their fire-lit halls. perform the most unspeakable act known to dwarfkind:
Twisted almost beyond recognition, the Abyssal Dwarfs are murder. When this happens the Father of Lies looks up from
driven by a thirst for power and wealth that surpasses mortal whatever hell pit he has been banished to and smiles, for at
concepts of desire – and driven by these lusts they plan a this final step another dwarf has been lost to the Abyss.
campaign for world domination.
The longer a dwarf spends in close proximity to the Abyss,
Abyssal Dwarfs are a breed unto themselves, every bit as the more twisted they become. It is a small blessing for the
strong, squat and hardy as their southern counterparts, but wider world that Abyssal Dwarfs are slow to reproduce.
often grotesque and pale of features, twisted of body and Indeed, many scholars believe that proximity to the Abyss
vicious of temperament. The flinty, intelligent eyes of their means that Abyssal Dwarfs cannot be born naturally at all.
cousins have been replaced by dark gimlets which stare at the Rather, their ranks are swelled by the corruption of renegade
world with undisguised loathing. They are more portly than dwarfs migrating to Tragar from the southern holds. Some
other dwarfs, for their reliance on slaves has led them to a believe that the Abyssal Dwarfs are so imbued by demonic
lifestyle of excess and slovenliness. Despite this, the Abyssal magic that they are effectively immortal, cursed to face an
Dwarfs have lost none of their strength, and their thick eternity of treachery and wickedness. Whatever the truth, it is
fingers are still as dextrous, making them just as skilful in a fact that any Abyssal Dwarf army will see the dwarfs within
metalworking as other dwarfs – a skill that is used frequently it outnumbered by the slaves that they drive before them and
to display an individual’s personal wealth. Each Abyssal the magical constructs they conjure to fight alongside them,
Dwarf has a longing for wealth and power that is a yawning sometimes greatly so.
chasm in their very souls – a chasm that can never be filled.
Their unrestrained avarice makes them more ostentatious
than their unsullied dwarf-kin, adorning themselves in
finery, elaborate armour and jewels.

The dwarfs of Pannithor have long battled with their gold-


lust – a love of riches that borders on obsession. Each dwarf
knows that they must conquer this extreme avarice, or risk
losing their grip on the very reason, honour and doughtiness
for which their race is duly famed. It is difficult for other
races to imagine the nobility with
which the dwarfs carry this
curse – and it is indeed a curse,
unleashed upon this ancient
people during the God War,
by the Father of Lies.

When the good peoples of the


world forged together to face the
Dark Gods, the dwarfs were there, as implacable
and stalwart as they are today. But the Father of Lies,
great and powerful among his dark kin, espied the
potential for corruption within the dwarfen heart, that
their love of all things precious could be twisted as the Dark
Ones twist every beautiful thing. To this end, the Father of
Lies planted a seed within the dwarfs that could tip their
love of gold into a secret, burning need; the urge to collect
personal riches above all other considerations. If a dwarf
succumbs to these urges, they lose all control; they will covet

181
Background

TRAGAR The Abyssal Dwarfs employ each race of slaves for the tasks
they are most suited for: dwarfs are excellent miners and
smiths, elves make amusing playthings, humans can be put
The fate of the northern dwarfs who had established mining
to work on the most gruelling tasks, and goblins are perfect
communities around the Abyss went undiscovered for
house servants. Orcs, however, have one clear area where
centuries. Drawn there by the promise of riches, these once
they excel above all others – war. Their great strength and
noble-hearted creatures were twisted by the dark whispers
brutal ferocity are an asset to any army, and the Abyssal
of the Father of Lies. Now their hellish industries surround
Dwarfs push vast hordes of the brutes towards the enemy
the Abyss. Mines and settlements cling to the precipice above
before committing their own troops. Orcs are employed
the vast, smoke-belching chasm. Their twin temple-cities
both as living shields and line-breakers – two tasks at which
loom large at either end – Zarak and Deiw – the ancient
the brutish creatures excel. It matters little to the slavers if
dwarf words for power and pain. These towering sentinel-
hundreds of orcs are slain in the process – there are always
mountains are almost maddening in their scale, wrought of
more to replace them.
stone, iron and brass, and adorned with leering, blasphemous
carvings. The cities are constantly expanding as the Abyssal
Dwarfs increase their domain, building ever higher, and
burrowing ever deeper until the warping power of the Abyss
seeps through the rock and makes hellish dens in the deepest
chambers. Surrounding the twin cities – almost dwarfed by
them – are mountains and foothills that are home to Orcs,
Giants and Trolls. Atop the highest spires, Dragonspawn
swoop and soar on thermals rising from the Abyss, while
mutated Basilisks slither in the lava-rivers that cascade from
the cities’ vast forges into the lower reaches of the hellpit
below.

The Abyssal Dwarfs call this kingdom Tragar, and all fear
it. It is a dangerous realm, built upon slavery and treachery,
where a knife in the dark is every bit as commonplace as
open war. Within the sprawling twin cities, districts are
formed around one of many temple-bastions, each with its
own workshops, barracks, temples, centres of commerce,
guilds and keeps; and each ruled over by an Overmaster or
Abyssal Dwarf society operates on the basis of individual
Iron-caster, who must fight every day to gain influence, and
greed and lust for wealth, explaining its fluid and ever-
defend himself from the jealous ambition of his rivals.
changing nature, as various individuals rise to prominence,
The smoke of the Abyss chokes the air, the ruddy light of dominating their fellows and expanding their own tiny spaces
the fires in its depths make it impossible to tell if it is night into minor empires within Tragar before they topple once
or day. The air rings with the sounds of the Abyssal Dwarfs’ more. Though the twin cities thrive, their rulership is in
industries and the screams of their slaves. Thousands are a state of constant flux, with various powerful individuals
sacrificed daily, pushed from the Gift-Piers of Zarak and making and breaking alliances as they all vie for ‘rightful’
Deiw, long stone arches that end high above the broil of rulership of their people. Ostensibly, the commanders of
the pit; all for the greater glory of Oskan and his twenty-six Tragar’s temple-bastions owe fealty to the Overking, but in
Abyssal Lords. The slave-pits burn with industry, fierce and reality even this lauded individual has a precarious grip
strong, their baleful light casting malevolent shadows that over his people. The current Overking is Zerkziz, who daily
flicker and chase across the sheer rock sides. Within this navigates the many avenues of politicking, diplomacy and
warren of chasms, mines, tunnels and caverns, the screams of displays of strength and cruelty in order to keep the lords
the slaves echo through the endless night as the rest of their of his land on side. Zerkziz has grown fat within his palace,
fleeting lives are played out in a never-ending nightmare of and must be carried everywhere upon a palanquin hoisted
misery, brutality and pain. by slaves. Though his martial prowess has long failed him,
the Overking’s mind has lost none of its cunning and steel.
Many of these wretches are from far off lands, seized by Zerkziz dispatches his armies to war regularly, knowing that
roaming slave gangs and raiders, or are unlucky prisoners he must never let his strength be questioned, and secretly
from battlefields far from the Abyss. Unlucky that they hoping that any pretenders to his throne might be slain in
survived the fighting only to find a fate worse than death. battle.
Many more are born into slavery. Some are bred for it.

182
So it is that the greatest, most cruel and wealthy of the
Background
Some leaders have amassed such notoriety that entire cults
Abyssal Dwarfs often lead their armies into battle personally, have formed around them, for only by securing a fanatical
knowing that gaining fame on the battlefield is a sure-fire following can most Overmasters be sure of their dark kin’s
way of rising through the ranks of Abyssal Dwarf nobility. loyalty. Within the vast temple-bastions of Tragar, these
Mighty Overmasters, armed with ensorcelled weaponry and cult leaders are revered alongside the dark gods who grant
covered in the most impenetrable obsidian armour, bellow them favour, and their names have become legend amongst
orders to their warriors. Mysterious Iron-casters unleash the the Abyssal Dwarfs. From the Blackblood Legion, who coat
twisted fire-magic of Ariagful, the evil Queen of the Black their armour and weapons in the blood of slaughtered slaves
Flame, and summon her abyssal servants to the field to do before each battle, to the Engine-Legion of Vhrakzis, whose
their bidding alongside the monstrous half-breeds and other champions hack off their own right arm in sacrifice, to have
strange war-engines that they have created. This pairing of it replaced by a mechanical device of brass and iron, it is
sorcerous Iron-caster and martial Overmaster is both the to these cults that the great warlords look when planning a
secret of the Abyssal Dwarfs’ success, and their greatest military campaign – or plotting a coup against their rivals in
impediment. The balance of power between these two ruling Tragar.
factions rests on a blade-edge, and they are as like to turn on
each other as to unite. The Abyssal Dwarfs themselves are every bit as steadfast,
enduring – and, unfortunately, slow – as their noble
Occasionally, a leader will rise of such power and counterparts. As such, they play to their strengths, marching
magnificence that he is able to unify the Abyssal Dwarfs in large infantry blocks, protected by thick armour and
as a race, and they will march forth to make war on the shields. As the enemy approach, they are met with long lines
other civilised peoples of the world, driving their armies of Decimators – Abyssal Dwarfs bearing short-ranged black
of slaves before them and supported by magical constructs powder weapons, which fire clouds of grapeshot capable of
and wicked creatures of darkness. The last time the Abyssal stripping flesh from bone, and stopping the most determined
Dwarfs marched in unison, it was under the command charge in its tracks. If this is not enough, the Decimators
of the Overking himself, aided by the legions of the now rush aside, allowing the enemy to be trapped in the teeth
dead Supreme Iron-caster, Arhak Soulbinder. Arhak had of their waiting kin. Blacksouls form the backbone of the
discovered the location of the lost dwarf hold of Hirath army, and these doughty warriors prefer to receive the enemy
Dur, reputed to be the location of the fabled Quartz Sceptre, charge, letting the foe expend their might against their ranks,
capable of subduing even the most resolute will, making its before hacking into them with vicious axes. Impetuous foes
bearer capable of ruling the world. The War of the Quartz who overcome even these warriors might be unfortunate
Sceptre brought Zerkziz and Arhak into conflict with the enough to see the Abyssal Dwarfs’ elite troops, the Immortal
Free Dwarfs, led by the Berserker Lord Sveri Egilax, king of Guard. Granted eternal life by the Iron-casters, the Immortal
Cwl Gen. A bitter campaign that almost saw the Free Dwarfs Guard are said to be little more than living suits of armour,
wiped from the face of Pannithor culminated at the Battle fused into some terrible, bloodthirsty semblance of a dwarf,
Among the Crags. Arhak Soulbinder almost claimed the and utterly without fear or mercy. Their sole task is to protect
sceptre for his own, and would have succeeded had Egilax not their commander on the battlefield, and it is a duty they fulfil
led a daring assault on the Overking himself. Facing death with grim efficiency.
at last, Zerkziz sounded the retreat, and the Abyssal Dwarfs
retreated. The Quartz Sceptre was secured by King Egilax, Given the nature of these most numerous of troops, one
and its location lost to the Abyssal Dwarfs, at least for now… might be forgiven for thinking that the Abyssal Dwarfs
operate entirely defensively on the battlefield, but this could
Thankfully for the free people of Pannithor, such times of ill- not be further from the truth. While the core remains
omen are short lived, for the fractious nature of the Abyssal steadfast and resolute, the units operating on the flanks are
Dwarfs tends to ensure that any alliance lasts only as long as aggressive in the extreme, relishing their job of funnelling
it takes for the ambitions of another to arise. the enemy towards the unbreakable wall of Blacksouls and
Decimators. Slave orcs, both on foot and mounted on brutish

THE ABYSSAL DWARF ARMY gores, are pushed towards the foe, although in truth they
need little encouragement from the lash of their masters.
Like other dwarfs, all Abyssal Dwarfs are accomplished Orcs are bred for war, and once the scent of blood gets in
warriors, and all are expected to fight on the field of battle their porcine nostrils they will gladly throw themselves into
in service of the Iron-casters and dark dwarf lords. The most battle with wild abandon. This slim glimpse of freedom is
powerful and infamous leaders can summon troops from enough to make them fight with unbridled ferocity, even
across the realm of Tragar, while others must form their though they hate and fear their dwarfen overseers. Equally
own mighty legions by sheer strength of will, raising militia, ferocious are the Abyssal Dwarf berserkers. They are normally
bartering for support, and amassing huge slave hordes from found trying to keep up with the orcs, howling like madmen
the sweltering pits. until finally they reach the enemy lines, where they become

183
Background

whirling, frenzied death-dealers. Berserkers are twisted forms The Birth of the Gnorr
of their noble kin; they are not driven to battle-lust by the
tragic history of their people, nor even by guilt over their Bharzak the Grim, Overmaster of the Gift-Piers of Zarak,
betrayal of Golloch’s folk. No, these berserkers have given wanted more. More work, more blood, more pain, more
themselves over entirely to the death-cults of Tragar, giving productivity, more sacrifice. More slaves. While other
up their very souls to the creatures of the Abyss in return for Abyssal Dwarfs lust for gold or jewels, or titles and power,
the promise of endless slaughter. Only through killing can Bharzak thirsts only to swell the already endless ranks of
they hope to stave off eternal damnation, at least for a time. his slave-pits. No amount of cruelty can satisfy his insanity.
Taking out his frustrations in an orgy of torture and hideous
Elsewhere on the battlefield, packs of halfbreeds form the experimentation, he once butchered over a hundred dwarf
Abyssal Dwarf equivalent of shock cavalry, ably assisted by slaves until there was nothing recognisable left. In a rage he
hulking obsidian golems, and the flapping, carrion forms of threw the last of their sundered bodies into the far reaches of
gargoyles that swoops and soar overhead. All the while, great the pits, good for nothing but food for the rats. And in that
war engines rain down iron and flame upon the heads of moment, Bharzak had a flash of inspiration.
the enemy, their constant thudding providing a drumbeat to
which the army marches to ever greater feats of slaughter. Rats are everywhere. Rats are vicious, hard creatures that
can survive in the harshest of conditions, living in filth and
eating worse. They thrive in adversity. The darkest, most
Halfbreeds miserable places in the world are the domain of rats. If ever
The Abyss’s unwholesome presence is not restricted to a race was destined for slavery, ideally suited for the despair
engines of war, and too often living beings are the focus of and brutal life it offered, it was the vermin. And so Bharzak
the sorcerous engineers of the fallen dwarfs. The dreaded cloistered himself away in his laboratory, and toiled for
halfbreeds are the most widely known of the Iron-casters’ almost 13 years, experimenting on stricken slaves, and vermin
mad experiments. Sick amalgams of bull-like quadrupeds and infused with the power of the Abyss. At last, a new race was
dwarf, the heavy thunder of their hooves are heard and feared born, the Gnorr, or ‘Ratkin’. A subservient slave-race, with
further across the northern steppes as the herald of death or a propensity to multiply rapidly, they seemed the answer to
slavery. Bharzak’s prayers. And yet they would eventually prove his
greatest failure.
Most Abyssal Dwarf halfbreeds are reckoned too unruly
and unpredictable of temperament to command others of Unseen by their masters, the Ratkin tunnelled into the very
their kind, resulting in them being set lose upon the foe chasm of the Abyss, undermining the vast cellars and sewers
individually or in small groups in the manner of mindless of the twin cities, and eventually escaping Tragar completely.
berserkers. The one exception is the fearsome warlord Brakki Though Bharzak tried to stop them, it was far too late – the
Barka. So preternaturally strong is Barka, and so unending Ratkin had multiplied beyond reckoning, and a new race of
the extremes of his fury when denied, that he has risen to a evil was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. Bharzak
station that none of his cursed kind has ever been known to held on to his position only by his fingertips, and now rules
hold. He is the lord of the army of an entire temple-bastion, his subterranean domain with one eye on every flickering
known as Bhardoom. The Legion of Bhardoom has earned shadow, expecting always to see the blade of his bitterest
a reputation as being both utterly relentless and supremely rivals, or the gleaming red eyes of his malign creations…
obedient. Even the slightest transgression amongst the legion
is met with uncompromising force. A warrior who hesitates
in enacting Barka’s orders is crushed beneath his fearsome
hooves and, if any object, their entire company is driven from
the heights of Bhardoom and pitched into the raging ocean of
lava at the bottom of the Abyss. If this regime appears harsh,
life is a hundred times worse for the slaves of Bhardoom.
Should one slave falter in his work then he and ten others
are instantly slaughtered as an example to the rest. Needless
to say, the slave-masters of Bhardoom are ever searching for
more unfortunates to add to their workforce.

184
Background
THE LEGIONS MARCH With their armies cut off or unable to leave the Abyss,
the Wicked Ones have chosen new proxies in this world.
Exercising their will, they fill the minds of the Abyssal
When the Abyss grew and swelled with power, the Abyssal
Dwarfs with visions of conquest and terror. They whisper
Dwarfs were invigorated with strength and purpose. Great
ideas and secrets to the mind of the Overking. A power in the
armies were raised, new infernal creations were pressed into
north, a lost elven prince, glory everlasting. Zealous in his
service and the armies of Zarak and Diew marched south.
worship of the Wicked Ones, the Overking obeys.
With the power of the Wicked Ones at their backs, the
Abyssal Dwarfs were eager to eliminate their kin once and for Years have passed and the Abyssal Dwarfs have prospered.
all. The dwarfs of the south were divided, bickering and weak, The Halpi mountains are their domain, every hold either
whereas the dwarfs of Tragar were strong and united under destroyed or occupied and corrupted. The floodwaters have
the Overking Zerkziz. The time to strike had come. evaporated from the Abyss, the damage repaired by legions
of toiling slaves. What’s more, the great chasm has split the
Numberless armies marched on the Halpi mountains. The
ground further, with Diew no longer marking the edge of the
sky was darkened by mortar fire and polluting fumes. New,
Abyss. At the Abyss’ furthest point, thousands of slaves are
colossal obsidian beasts lumbered into battle carrying great
forced to raise immense structures of black iron and obsidian.
shrines that channelled their patrons’ infernal power. The
Wails fill the air, as forges burn bright to smelt vast quantities
Free Dwarf clans set up desperate defences and fought with
of materials needed for one purpose – to build a third city.
every warrior they could muster, but the Overking could
not be denied. The Abyssal Dwarfs advanced like a great Alliances with other evil races in Mantica have yielded new
lava flow, slowly consuming and razing all in their path. weapons, the likes of which have not been seen since the God
No army could stop them, no hero could see victory, and as War. Things so terrible, that they are best left unspoken, lest
they surrounded the last defenders at Rhyn Dufaris, their they invite madness.
dominion was all but guaranteed.
For the Abyssal Dwarfs, failure is fleeting, but the desire for
Then came the flood. With their attentions focussed so conquest is all-consuming. There are always new schemes;
eagerly on the south, no one could have foreseen the Green new lands to plunder; new foes to decimate and slaves to
Lady’s plan. Neritican aquamages melted a great glacier to capture. Only through bloody conquest can the Abyssal
the north of Tragar, flooding the Abyss and all of the lands Dwarfs find even a sliver of satisfaction, and to this end their
surrounding it. Zarak and Diew, built on high peaks at armies prepare to crush the lands of dwarfs, men and elves.
either end of the chasm, survived, but they were cut off from
the land and the raging fires of the Abyss itself. With their
homeland and power under threat and the power of the Abyss
draining from them, the Abyssal Dwarfs chose to consolidate
their holdings and retreat – for now.

185
Background

186
Background

187
Background

The Empire of Dust


The Ophidian obsession with mastery over death and It began as most things do. An idea corrupted and warped.
everlasting life is a curiosity in the eyes of the northern lands. The Ahmunites had long revered the dead, believing in an
But little do most know that beyond Ophidia lies a more existence after the mortal vessel had served its purpose. Their
sinister place – the remnants of a kingdom long thought high priests had dabbled a little in the art of necromancy and
destroyed, whose vengeful overlords rise from the sand once a vain fashion amongst the noble classes developed – raising
more in the name of their everlasting god, Shobik. their most loyal warriors to serve again in their undeath in a
rite known incongruously as Purification. Under the toil of
South of the Infant Sea lies an expanse of arid desert that is countless undead slaves, the great city of Nehkesharr grew,
truly vast, stretching along most of the lower seaboard. The until its size and power rivalled the greatest civilisations of
mysterious and beguiling kingdom of Ophidia, sustained by the mortal realms. It became a necropolis-city, where soon
its rich river valley, occupies much of the west – precious the dead outnumbered the living.
oases, desert cities and other, stranger kingdoms scattered
across its interior. But beyond Ophidia, mysterious ruins,
dead trees, and the bones of long extinct creatures are all
that challenge the whispering sand for space. Straddling
the Wastes of Ophidia and the wretched land further south
lie the broken towns and cities of the once great empire of
Ahmun.

In the Time of Light, beyond the scorched and barren


region now known as the Cracked Lands, a people migrated
north. Driven from their own lands by years of drought and
plague, they sought and found a new land, with rich soils
and fresh, bountiful rivers. As they settled and slowly began
to re-establish themselves, they begun to explore and trade
with the other noble races. Relations and trade pacts were
built between the elves to the west and kingdoms of men and
dwarfs to the far east and north. The Ahmunites flourished,
becoming an influential and important cog in the economic
and political stability of the southern regions.

188
The once-fertile lands began to dry. Hot, arid winds howled
Background
The Rise Of Ophidia
from the south – and as they blew, the whispers of the dead
were heard in the ears of the black-hearted, sowing the seeds The great journey had taken its toll and the young realm,
of destruction. The practice of Purification began to spread now called Ophidia, was desperately vulnerable and short of
insidiously. Across the lesser regions, more and more people man-power. Aghast at the decision they had to take, the new
were raised from their rest, slaves for the living. The families God-Kings finally decreed that once again necromancy must
of these undead workers were ignored – cries of protest be used to return their people from the grave. But this time
falling on uncaring ears. Politically powerful and devious, the motives were different – not selfish, not arrogant. Service
the high priests were rumoured to be the real power behind to the new empire would be for altruistic reasons. Strict laws
the thrones of the Ahmunites. Spurred on by these priests, were established to control the learning and practice of the
the noble houses plunged ever deeper into darkness, until once dark art. As the fledgling empire grew and became the
the cities of the empire began to echo with the shambling masters of undeath, the God-Kings cast their sad eyes south
and mournful groans of the dead. Souls and bodies were to Ahmun, to the people they had left behind, and watched
unwillingly forced back into service. The people of Ahmun an ancient empire tear itself apart. The madness had to be
feared the setting of the sun, which heralded the terror of the stopped before it could spread any further, before the armies
night as petty kings and beggar-princes turned their private of the dead turned their baleful gazes to the wider world.
armies of the dead upon each other.

As the Ahmunite empire began to consume itself from


within, the rulers of the northernmost regions, or ‘sepats’,
agreed to take their people and escape the madness. A mass
exodus began as tens of thousands fled to the east, the
remnants of culture transplanted to a new home. They settled
around the mouth of the great river, now called Hokh-man,
and forged themselves a new life. The princes were seen as
the saviours of their subjects and were to be revered as the
‘God-Kings’ of the people.

Gathering together their most trusted and masterful magi,


the God-Kings summoned the most powerful and spiteful of
the demonic djinn. Together, they unleashed a monstrous
and lethal sandstorm that engulfed the Ahmunite armies,
flensing skin and flesh from bone and driving them back to
the wastes. Plagues of insects, so vast they blotted out the sun,
descended on the cities of the Ahmunites and devoured the
living so thoroughly that as the swarm passed by, only bones
remained.

The Ahmunite people were driven back into their broken,


crumbling cities and scoured from the face of the world. The
Ophidians had condemned an entire civilisation to an eternal
torment of undeath, stripped bare for all to see as a terrible
reminder to those who seek to abuse power and believe they
can master both life and death. What was once a prosperous,
sprawling empire of merchants, art, learning and science
is now a shattered, bitter, hateful and smouldering lesson
against hubris and conceit.

189
Background

190
Background

191
Background

The Ahmunites Return burned with liquid fire for seven days and seven nights. Great
storms blasted the sands from the necropolis-cities of Ahmun,
What prompted the Ahmunites to look beyond their barren until the towering pinnacles of the sky-catacombs once more
realm once more is unknown. Some speculate that one of the gazed down upon the cities of the dead from lofty heights.
many bands of tomb-robbers, drawn south by the promise of Every living thing within a hundred leagues was scoured,
gold and precious stones, inadvertently unlocked some thrice- poisoned, slain; cured to join the ranks of the dead. Zhar-Teph
warded chamber, unleashing a curse of untold magnitude. looked upon this great work, and saw that it was good.
Others still claim that emissaries of the carrion-goddess,
the Wicked One Akshun’arha, arrived amidst the ruins and Were it not for an unexpected interruption, it would have
awoke the Ahmunites with a great spell. been the hated Ophidians to first feel the new-found power
of the Ahmunites. Instead, drawn by the incredible power of
For centuries, the Ahmunites had long been directionless. the incantation, a warband of Twilight Kin, the dark hearted
The pharaohs and cursed priests had retreated to the safety of elves from the Pit of Leith, crossed the desert to investigate.
their tombs, leaving their skeleton legions to stand dormant, Marching only at night, the Twilight Kin sought to steal the
and guardian slaves to toil aimlessly. Now, they had awoken. source of this magic for themselves. The venture was cursed
Kings of old burst forth from the dunes on the gleaming almost as soon as the elves set foot on the desert sands.
chariots they had been buried with. By their sides, the high Swarms of scorpions and gigantic, tunnelling sand worms
priests began great incantations to bring the skeletons back beset the Twilight Kin and their infernal allies, relentlessly,
to un-life, and return lost souls to the mummified remains forcing them ever onwards, until they reached the ruins of
of ancient warlords. Skeletal giants and revenants dragged Sekhaat, a long-abandoned Ahmunite outpost. There, the
themselves from the sand, ready to fight for Ahmun once very statues came to life, setting upon the elves with great
again. The djinn were summoned, and trapped within weapons of stone and polished gold. On and on the elves fled,
bodies of gold, bronze and stone, so that one might think their numbers dwindling, until finally they glimpsed the peak
the very statues of old Ahmun had come to life in defence of of the sky-catacombs, long thought buried. They climbed a
their lords. The Great Pharaoh, Zhar-Teph, who in life had great dune, and what they saw filled even the cruel Twilight
struggled to maintain a hold over his bickering rivals, now Kin with dread. Before them, the vast necropolis-city of
took unwavering command of them in death. The Incantation Nehkesharr stood; and as one, thousands upon thousands of
of Cleansing was begun. The great rivers ran red with foul long-dead, skeletal soldiers turned to look upon the intruders.
ichor, the very blood of Shobik. The skies over the desert

192
Background

Only one of the elves made it back to the Mouth of Leith, clacking of bones and the scrape of steel. The very creatures
emaciated and raving, pale skin blistered and burnt by the of the desert are likewise reanimated, falling into line with
desert sun. The Twilight Kin have shown no immediate the skeletal army almost as a by-product of the necromantic
inclination to return. Although many battles have been power flowing through the land. Scorpions, giants, dragons
fought against these undead foes since, that lone elf’s raving and behemoths lumber to war at the behest of the Ahmunite
testimony remains the only first-hand account of the full priests.
power of Zhar-Teph’s legions.
The undead architects who built the necropolises have also
It is not only on land that the growing threat of the arisen, now turning their skills to the construction of baleful
Ahmunites is felt. Ghost ships haunt the Straits of Madness war engines and monoliths of dark power, designed to extend
and small fleets of Ahmunite bone-hulks are a constant the influence of the necromancers in battle. It is a riddle that
menace and distraction for patrolling frigates from the has baffled countless military and political commentators;
Salamander navy. At the height of its most recent expansion, why, with all the Ophidian God-Kings’ power and influence,
when the winds of dark magic poured forth from the Abyss, have they let the Ahmunites rebuild and grow so strong once
the Ahmunite high priests were able to raise a vast armada more. Perhaps they mean to use them as a tool. Perhaps
of warships, stopped only by the desperate intervention of they see them as no real threat at all. As with all things,
the Trident Realm and the unleashing of a mighty kraken to the motivations and plots of the Ophidians are shrouded in
wreak havoc on the ghastly fleet. mystery and deceit.

The armies of Ahmun are almost numberless. The greatest The Ahmunite pharaohs are driven by a willpower that
cities had become nothing more than enormous necropolises conquered death itself centuries past, and are now almost
before the empire fell, constructed with both skulls and unstoppable in their unquenchable wrath. To the sound of
blocks of stone, and filled with the dead. Only now has the golden trumpets, the pharaohs roar their proclamations from
true ambition of the high priests become known, for the sheer parchment-dry throats: the great kingdoms will be restored.
number of warriors assembling beneath the banners of the The world of the living will end, starting with the treacherous
pharaohs are seemingly endless. Rank after rank of skeleton Ophidians, and a new empire will rise.
warriors, armed with khopesh, spear, bow or crossbow, march
and fight almost as one, drilled to ceremonial perfection in An empire of dust.
death as they were in life, the only sounds they make are the

193
Background

Forces of the Abyss


Far to the northeast of the Infant Sea, amidst the shattered,
soot-stained remnants of Winter’s glaciers lies the Abyss –
the greatest wound inflicted upon the world in the God War.
Here, the last of the wicked gods reside, 27 in number, their
dark magic spewing ceaselessly into the world, twisting men
and nobler creatures still into dark images of themselves.

A great rent in the ground, the Abyss is many miles deep


and countless leagues across. A pall of smoke hangs above
the Abyss, so that it and all the lands about it are shrouded
in unnatural, perpetual night. The empires of the Abyssal
Dwarfs as well as countless orcs, goblins and other wretched
creatures all exist there. Further down this hellish crevasse,
the taint of the malevolent energies of the Wicked Ones
becomes stronger, and things far worse than orcs dwell.

When the constellations are in alignment and the power of


the Wicked Ones waxes strong, their infernal legions march
forth. Cackling, spiteful devils march alongside muscled
behemoths. They are the Forces of the Abyss and the world
screams in their wake.

194
Background

195
Background

THE CIRCLES OF DAMNATION They rave of kingdoms where the air is thick and noxious,
and shadowy denizens shuffle about the feet of their dark
lord, dragging plague-ridden souls behind them. They speak
The Abyss is a chasm, both literal and metaphorical, in
of a kingdom of dog-headed spiders, and of palaces of bone,
the skin of the world. It is thought by many to be a vast,
and the endless forges of Ariagful, whence cursed artefacts are
physical cleft in the earth, leading to some cyclopean, volcanic
forged and remade over and over, before being sent out into
depth far below. This is only partly true, for mortals must
the world to taint the hearts of mortals.
ever reconcile that which they cannot understand with
absolutes. The deeper one ventures into this dizzying realm
of darkness, the more it becomes obvious that the Abyss
and all its denizens are anathema to natural law. The veil ‘The prayers of mortals are a double-edged sword, granting
between planes of existence is thin, a dark parody of the courage, but reinforcing fears. Due deference cannot be given to
power of the old Celestians to walk between worlds. Bare the Shining Ones without also acknowledging their dark halves.
rock breathes with bilious life; black smoke coils with dark The Wicked Ones delight in prayers, for they thrive on fear and
sentience, corrupting all that breathe it; measureless caverns uncertainty, and more so on belief. If man believes in good, then
convulse and twist into labyrinths that would take a lifetime he must also believe in evil.’
to traverse. Countless tortured souls gibber as they suffer
- The Book of Malborgia
exquisite pain in the endless dark, their fevered imaginings
giving form to new realities, new monstrosities, and new
sorceries. Deep down in the shadows and billowing fumes,
perpetually lit by the glow of hellish red fires, fouler creatures Some of the Wicked Ones may never recover the power they
reside – beings of unfettered evil, whose very existence is an enjoyed before their fall: Akshun’arha, Mother of Vampires,
abomination against the natural order of things, living in a for instance, is little more than a wraith – a sliver of the
twisted mirror of the celestial orders above. god she once was. Most of her divine power was bound
into the hearts of mummified Ophidians in a bid to escape
These are the Abyssals, immortal servants of the Father of
banishment to the Abyss, but most of these were destroyed.
Lies. The Abyssals are emanations of their Lord’s mind – pure
And yet the other Wicked Ones are ever jealous of their
Evil incarnate. They are organised into a strict hierarchy,
weakling sister, for some shards of her power live on in the
which perversely mirrors that of the celestial hosts of the
mortal realm, in the form of the first true vampires. Only
Shining Ones, and is related to which level, or ‘circle’ of
Garkan the Black can truly say that he has unleashed such
the Abyss in which they reside. Each Circle of the Abyss
a darkness upon the wider world, in the form of the brutish
increases in size to accommodate the burgeoning hordes that
orcs. Other Wicked Ones reign over vast kingdoms, and the
dwell there, and yet diminishes in power the farther from the
names of Ju’bilex, Barglurath and Vraz’zt are feared – and
sight of the Wicked Ones they are cast.
worshipped – in the mortal world. Kyron, the Dark Smith,
has recently grown in prominence, for the very oceans of the
The Seventh Circle mortal world answer to his call; and yet his power ebbs and
Ruling over this hierarchy are the supreme beings that dwell flows as surely as the tides, and even he pales in comparison
in the depths of the Seventh Circle, which is at the very to the lord of all evil, Oskan. From hell’s heart, Oskan plots
bottom of the Abyss – they are the 27 Wicked Ones, kin to and schemes, always looking for a way to exert his malign
the Father of Lies, bound by the power of Domivar never to influence over the mortal realms, whilst keeping one eye on
leave the Abyss, and yet ever plotting and scheming to exert the many intrigues of his 26 Abyssal Lords.
their will onto the mortal realm. It is said that the Wicked
Ones live in the Eternal Dark, inimical to life both mortal
and Abyssal, and yet these godlike beings endure, their power
manifest in every corner of their realm.

The Wicked Ones each carve out domains of unmitigated evil


upon the magical plane of the First Circle. Each realm is as
unique in appearance and workings as it is possible to be,
and as the fortunes of these dark gods ebb and flow, so too do
their domains expand and shrink, sometimes clashing into
each other, resulting in war and intrigue between the Wicked
Ones themselves. These domains defy mortal description,
although crazed seers have sometimes written forbidden texts
describing cities made of writhing, pulsating flesh, or great
plains of precious stones that shine as far as the eyes can see.

196
The Sixth Circle
Background
The will of the Wicked Ones is interpreted and enacted by
the most powerful of their servants – the Archfiends, Lords ‘To find favour in the eyes of the Wicked Ones is to be truly
of the Sixth Circle, who are the generals of the Abyssal host, blessed.’
creatures of great might, both physical and sorcerous. The
Sixth Circle has never been seen by mortal eyes, and if it - The Book of Malborgia
were it would surely drive them to madness. In these cursed
depths, impossible towers of brimstone and gleaming crystal
twist into endless skies of fire and blood. Atop monuments It is not unknown for a champion to rise as a mighty
made from the remains of vanquished foes sit effigies of conqueror, bloated with power, and to take to the mortal
nameless gods from forgotten planes, while at their feet, world at the head of his own army. However, as the power
lumbering Molochs and Despoilers train endlessly for war of the Abyss recedes and the gateways to the mortal realm
in brutal testing grounds. The servants of the Archfiends are shut, the Abyssal Champions turn their violent gaze
endlessly search the Abyss for portals into other planes, upon each other. Revelling in the chaos of war, these mighty
particularly the mortal realm, where the sweetmeats of mortal avatars of the Abyss battle constantly, honing their skills
flesh are bountiful. As opposed to the Wicked Ones, the foul and growing in power. Fortresses topple and are rebuilt in
Archfiends can leave the Abyss when the signs are right, and an endless cycle. Champions are defeated, only to return
will march at the head of their legions to unleash the power more powerful than ever. This is a realm of unending war
of the Abyss upon the world. and bloodshed, and the Abyssal Champions would have it no
other way.

‘And behold, the infinite numbers of the Abyss, and the souls of The Fourth Circle
mortals beyond counting, are churned in the endless gears of
The Fourth Circle is a plane of fire, which feeds the volcanic
the Archfiends’ mills. And from this grist of bone and blood and
pits that mark the bounds between the Dark and the mortal
pure malevolence, the armies of the Wicked Ones dance anew
realm. Here, the blessed children of Ariagful walk upon
to the tune of their masters.’
conflagrating seas, seeking egress into the world beyond.
- The Book of Malborgia

‘It is the greatest honour to walk the red-litten halls of the


majestic Efreet. They are the gift-givers, the enchanters, the
Greatest of the Archfiends is the so-called Lord of Lies, who master smiths. In their name the mightiest weapons and the
has risen to prominence by his very deviousness. Such is his lowliest trinkets are forged, to corrupt the hearts of men, sealing
cunning that it is said the Lord of Lies is an avatar of Oskan their fates.’
himself; a means for the Father of Lies to escape the Eternal
Dark and experience conquest in the mortal realm, for a - The Book of Malborgia
limited time at least.

No one can know for sure how many Archfiends there are at
any given time, for they rise to prominence rapidly, and fall This is the domain of the demonic Efreets, who oversee the
almost as quickly. The true names of these mighty demons forging of great artefacts for the armies of the Archfiends.
are hidden from all but the most depraved geniuses, or They harness the lava that cascades into their great forges,
else guarded by chaste warriors of pure heart. For should and produce items of power that are desired by both gods and
anyone be so insane as to call upon an Archfiend by name, mortals. Moulded by the furnaces of the infernal pit that they
they would as like create a tear in the very fabric of reality, tend, Efreets are suffused with flickering, magical fire. Their
through which all the hordes of the Abyss could flow. very touch can incinerate a mortal where he stands, and when
they get the chance to take to a battlefield against mortal foes,
The Fifth Circle they delight in pyrotechnic displays of power, shooting balls
of flame into the unfortunate enemy.
The Fifth Circle is the abode of the Abyssal Champions,
crafty Lower Abyssals or mortals that have gained the favour Of lesser power, but no less obsessed with fiery conflagration,
of the Wicked Ones and been elevated to levels of power that are the Flamebearers. These lesser Abyssals are saved a fate
most of their kind cannot imagine. These champions draw on the First Circle by the usefulness they represent to the
countless slaves from the lesser circles to construct mighty Efreet. When hordes of these creatures are unleashed, the
fortresses and monuments to their strength, exerting cruel ground upon which they walk burns hot enough to sear flesh
power over their one-time brethren. and melt armour.

197
Background

‘What fate to live a life of cruelty, only to be found unworthy of ‘Those who believed that the Wicked Ones were
a place at the Wicked Ones’ table. What exquisite tortures are defeated when Domivar cast them into the Abyss
inflicted by those who have spent a thousand lifetimes perfecting knew not how wrong they were. There, in a realm
their arts. What joy to suffer, knowing that it aids the cause of beyond realms, a world of the Celestians’ own
the Abyssal Lords.’
making, the demonic legions thrive, and wait, and
- The Book of Malborgia grow into a horde unimaginable.’
- The Book of Malborgia
The Third Circle
The Third Circle is a wellspring of magic and corruption that The First Circle
feeds the other circles, above and below. Endless labyrinths The bulk of the Abyssal denizens are born of the First Circle,
of living stone twist and turn through the underbelly of the which straddles both the mortal realm and the incorporeal
Great Pit, and countless torture chambers echo with the domains below. Here, in seemingly limitless numbers, Lower
screams of the cursed. Here, Succubi and Temptresses practice Abyssals, or ‘Diaboli’, and winged gargoyles are birthed from
perverse sorceries on victims plucked from the mortal realm, volcanic pits, breathing in toxic miasma as if it were clean
perfecting their arts, ready to unleash exquisite pain upon air. These sly, cruel creatures are usually to be found tending
the mortal world when next they are called to war. Alongside to the torture of mortals who have been dragged back to the
these alluring, mocking creatures, lumbering, molten, black- Abyss, but fight for supremacy amongst themselves constantly,
skinned Chroneas manipulate time itself, so that the tortured so that when they are summoned to war they have already
souls can experience their torment for all eternity. In battle, been tempered by battle. Tiny imps scamper through black
the Chroneas reverse this power, speeding up time all around caverns, serving the more powerful Abyssal Warriors as a
them, so that mortals wither and die in a heartbeat. means to survive, or else ending up as dinner for the many
predators that lurk in the darkness. For many Lower Abyssals,
The Second Circle life in the Abyss is violent and short, with no chance to
attain the favour of their masters. There are some, however,
The Second Circle is a wild land, a blasted waste inhabited
possessed of more ambition than to accept their lot. These
by bestial creatures of raw strength and rage. Across plains of
creatures sometimes strike unholy alliances with the lesser
ash, beneath a sky of liquid fire, hordes of nomadic horsemen
beasts of the First Circle, fusing with their mount to create
engage in the endless hunt, before feasting upon the day’s kill
an altogether new, and utterly freakish, abomination. These
in great halls dedicated to the Wicked Ones. Once mortal,
‘Harbingers’ are often used as swift outriders in the Abyssal
these Hellequin are now corrupted beyond recognition, and
army, and success in battle earns them a gift beyond the
ride down the tortured souls of the Abyss for sport, packs of
reach of most Diaboli – promotion to the Second Circle.
slavering, three-headed Hellhounds racing alongside them.

‘Those who embrace fear can fear no more. Those


who embrace change can change no more. Those
who embrace death will be born again, to fight in
service of the Wicked Ones.’
- The Book of Malborgia

When they are summoned to battle, these Abyssal Horsemen


gallop through the rift at the head of the Abyssal horde,
armed with lance or huge, hell-forged axes. Such is the
awesome sight of these dark riders upon the battlefield, that
mortals of corrupt intent long to be like them – to wield
for themselves just a fragment of such strength, whatever
the cost. So it is that the Second Circle has no shortage of
warriors to call upon, for the hearts of mortals can ever be
swayed by a lust for power.

198
The Southern Rift
Background
birds and vast stretches of steaming jungle, one might find
all is not well. The creatures of that land are many-eyed,
South beyond the Cracked Lands lies a fractured landscape fanged, and unnatural to behold. The trees pulsate with life,
of parched stone and craters. Some sages maintain this was their leaves dripping venom, roots drinking blood. And deep
the site of a powerful kingdom, flattened by a falling comet within the heart of that place, a great chasm falls away into a
during the God War, but others whisper that it is a site of evil blistering hot darkness, falling seemingly forever. This chasm
to rival the Abyss. Those of the Noble Races that have crossed represents the growing danger of the Portals Beneath the
the desert and ventured into the Cracked Lands in recent World. Given time to grow, to feed on the magical energies
times are but a handful in number, for there is insufficient of Pannithor, the portals cause such disruption that they
water to sustain a camel there. On the far side these travellers become vast rifts in reality, transforming and corrupting all
assert the land abruptly changes, becoming verdant and they touch. If left unchecked, these portals will grow into a
green, hills cloaked with jungle and teeming with life. void worthy of the Abyss, and the legions of the Wicked Ones
These assertions are likely the word of madmen, for none and the nightstalkers will gain unassailable footholds across
who have looked upon those distant lands have ever remained the world.
unchanged. If one were to look closely at the throngs of

199
Background

DESCENT
High Paladin Gnatius took the knee, the point of remembered seeing brother monks, eyes plucked from
his sword pressing firmly into the frozen ground, and their heads, driven mad by what they had read. Was that
muttered a prayer to the Shining Ones. The price of real? Or a dream? It had been in the mountains north
victory had been high. The snow-swirled ruins around of Basilea, had it not? They were to seek out the hellish
him were draped in corpses, both proud Basilean soldiers things that had corrupted those monks…
and thrice-cursed demons alike.
‘My Lord, I say again we must leave,’ Vaelleri urged. ‘Tell
The Abyssals had come from nowhere, hidden by me, Lord, is your mind… compromised?’
unnatural shadows and the relentless blizzards that had
hounded the expedition’s every step. Gnatius pulled away from the woman, suddenly angry.
‘I am High Paladin of the House of Embers!’ he said.
‘Lord, we must not linger here.’ It was Vaelleri who ‘My mind is gated and barred against the influence of the
interrupted the paladin’s prayer; the blessed Sister looked Wicked Ones. If there is sorcery afoot, I shall uncover it,
about the hilltop ruin furtively. and destroy it, as I always have.’
Gnatius rose. ‘And where is “here”?’ he asked. ‘How did Vaelleri was about to say something more, when a great
we even come to be here?’ roar pierced the night. The soldiers flinched, drawing
swords from befrosted scabbards, gripping halberds that
Vaelleri frowned, and looked around the few remaining much tighter.
soldiers of the warband, who now beheld Gnatius with
equal confusion and, perhaps, suspicion. ‘My Lord?’ she Gnatius saw a deep red glow on the edge of his vision;
said. saw movement in the darkness, through the swirling snow.
Guttural roars carried on the cold air towards him. More
‘I mean,’ said Gnatius, ‘just yesterday we were bartering Abyssals came from every direction, and his force was too
safe passage through the contested Chainway of the sorely depleted to fight so many. Gnatius looked around
warring dwarfs. And yet we are somehow here, leagues for inspiration, hoping that the Elohi would send him a
away. Look – these carvings. These were made by sign.
northmen. We should be south of the Cataract, and yet
here we are, nearing the Abyss.’ ‘Here!’ Vaelleri yelled, dashing to a trapdoor, half-buried
under snow.
‘My Lord, I mean no disrespect, but North is our
direction. These seven moons past crossing the Halpi Had it been there before? If so, none had seen it
Mountains, do you… do you not recall?’ during the frenzy of battle. Now, the sight of a way out
lifted Gnatius’ spirits. He pushed the men towards the
‘Do not be ridiculous, Sister, I…’ and Gnatius stopped. trapdoor, urging them to smash it open, praying that it
The awkward looks of his men said it all. He remembered would lead to salvation.
so clearly setting out to treat with the warring dwarfs;
securing passage through their lands to the lands of Soon, Gnatius led the way through cramped tunnels
Abercarr, to seek out the sorcerers of far Abkhazala. hewn from earth and rock, sloping gradually downwards.
Was that not their mission? To find the Abyssal sorcerer Men-at-arms lit the way with torches, and perhaps that
Zhortan, and visit justice upon him? explained the growing heat, which seemed unnatural in
this frozen waste. Dozens of times the passages split, and
Gnatius shook his head. Other memories jostled for Gnatius had to pray for guidance, trusting his instincts to
supremacy in his mind. He remembered discovering a lead them on.
book in the cloisters of some desecrated monastery. He

200
Background
They did not know if they marched for hours or days. Had he dreamt her? He squinted, his vision not what
Every passage began to feel like a slog across an arid it once was. Before him stood a dark figure, in robes of
desert, and yet each time the end was reached, it felt as deepest crimson.
though only seconds had passed. Sometimes they would
reach a dead end, only to find that the walls parted at ‘Zh… Zhortan?’ Gnatius croaked, his voice robbed of its
their touch, like membranous flesh rather than rock. old steel.
Other times, they would see daylight ahead, only to find I have many names. The words were unspoken. They
the path blocked by walls of coal-black rock. The only formed in Gnatius’ mind, unbidden, all his training as for
indication that time had elapsed in any great measure nothing. Tell me, Gnatius, what have you learned?
was their exhaustion. One by one, the men fell. Soon, the
others would grow too tired to drag their comrades along, ‘Learned? I… Enough, sorcerer!’ Gnatius did not know
and would leave them. When they looked back, the fallen what was happening. He lifted his sword, which felt far
were gone, and moments later, Gnatius found himself too heavy. He saw his own gnarled, weathered hands,
wondering if they had ever truly been there, or if he had and wondered just how long he had been searching for
miscounted the number of his party. this wizard. But it did not matter – all that mattered was
the quest. Gnatius staggered forward, and with a great
When at last they reached a great door, bound in brass roar brought down the sword upon his foe.
and set in a wall of carved stone, Gnatius realised that
only two of them remained. He looked to the blessed There was a great burst of flame, a gibbering, maniacal
Sister Vaelleri. ‘The others...’ he began, ‘what became of laugh, and red-skinned figures danced impishly all around
them?’ Gnatius, prodding him with pitchforks, goading him with
blasphemous insults. And then came the voice in his mind
‘What others?’ she asked. ‘This quest was ours alone.’ once more.
‘This is… the monastery?’ he asked, with growing The way to the next circle is barred to you.
uncertainty. Disappointing, Basilean, most disappointing. And yet,
‘Brother Gnatius, what are you talking about?’ Vallaeri the Wicked Ones are ever merciful, for they will allow
asked. ‘This is the end of our journey. It is the lair of you to try again. And again…
Zhortan of Abkhazala, the demonologist. Steel yourself, Gnatius roared with anger, strength returning to his
for behind this door is the one we must slay.’ ancient limbs. He spun, slashing with his sword at his
Gnatius pushed the doubts from his mind as best he fiery torturers, until the blood-rage clouded his vision, and
could, shaking off the enchantments that had surely all was black. He felt the enemy disperse, heard cries and
beset him. He was here now, with Vallaeri, and all shouts, then finally felt the swell of hard-fought victory.
that mattered was the success of their quest. He drew Gnatius sank to one knee, the point of his sword pressing
his sword, pushed open the door, and stepped into the firmly into the frozen ground, and offered praise to the
chamber beyond. Shining Ones for his deliverance.
Gnatius stood upon a vast plain, the air around him ‘Lord, we must not linger here,’ Vallaeri said.
shimmering with heat, scorching his flesh. The sky
overhead burned with liquid fire. The sounds of battle Gnatius opened his eyes and looked about the shattered
echoed all around, though the combatants were little more ruins, masked by the swirl of endless snow.
than shadows on the periphery of his vision. Vallaeri was
gone – indeed, he wondered if she had ever been thee.

201
Background

OVERLORDS OF THE ABYSS


Many times, champions of the Abyss have risen to threaten the mortal worlds. Time and again, they have been turned back.
For most champions of the Abyss, defeat signals an end to their brush with greater glories. But for some, a taste of the greater
prize to be had beyond the Abyss consumes them, driving them to greatness. These singular lords of the Abyss are favoured by
the Wicked Ones, and given every advantage in order to once again take the fight to the mortal realms. The greatest lords of
the age are Ba’el and Drech’nok, whose many misdeeds have made their names rightly feared across Pannithor.

Ba’el
Bane of the Mortal Kingdoms, Bringer of Woe, Eater of Realms. The
Demon known as Ba’el has gone by many names in his long life.
After the God War, he was one of the most prominent and powerful
warlords of the Abyssal hordes, and his name was feared wherever
it was spoken. Whole civilisations disappeared from the map under
the unstoppable advance of his armies, rivers of blood and mountains
of the dead the marks of his passing. Finally, he was brought low by
the mighty hero known as Valandor, who bound him to an eternal
prison beneath the ruins of the last civilisation he had razed – that
of the Du’lan Var. Indeed, some secret cults in the darkest parts of
the world whisper that Valandor could no sooner kill Ba’el than
kill himself, for the two were inextricably bound together. In
Basilea, such heresy is punishable by death; in Elvenholme,
such talk will earn immediate exile. Whatever the truth,
legend tells that Valandor intended to return and destroy Ba’el
once he had righted the damage done by him, but the Great
Flood claimed him before this could come to pass.

Drech’nok the Destroyer


Drech’nok was one of the most powerful warriors of the Abyss,
rising amongst his kindred and marked out even in that hellish
realm for his cruelty and delight in slaughter and war. He was
finally imprisoned by Valandor himself in one of the massive battles
before the Great Flood in the war with Winter, sealed ritually in a
sarcophagus and buried deep beneath the skin of the world to wait
out eternity. His tomb held for centuries until it was accidentally
discovered by a dwarf mining expedition digging for a new mineral
seam. Their drill having shattered his ancient prison, Drech’nok
slaughtered the dwarfs and escaped back into the world to wreak
havoc anew. His years of imprisonment have driven him into a state
of permanent, blinding rage, and he is one of the deadliest foes
encountered in all the lands.

202
Background
The Call to War
At the signal from the Archfiends, great shadow-bridges are formed between the circles, and the Molochs adopt the
role of enforcers, herding the Abyssals together into a mighty demonic horde. Plumes of ash and coruscating arcs of
pure magic erupt from the heart of the Abyss. War-horns sound, and the ground trembles as the armies of the Wicked
Ones begin their march of conquest. When these creatures venture forth from the pit, they spread like a stain across the
surface of the world. Crops wither and die under their tread, and their shadow blights the world until they are banished
back to the Dark whence they came, but always at great cost.

203
Background

The Abyssal Crusade The Necromancer’s meddling with the Portals Beneath the
World had its own effect. Now that one portal had been
After the God War had scarred the very earth, vomiting forth opened, and the unearthly energies had been allowed to vomit
strange new races and rendering evil into flesh, and the forth into the real world, the rest of the network pulsed once
spite of Winter had consumed fully half the globe, drowning again with urgent life. Strange sights were seen in many
ancient and noble kingdoms, came a time of relative peace. places – children would be born with strange deformities or
The marauding hordes of orcs and goblins nibbled at the unnatural gifts, and weird creatures would be spotted at the
edges of civilisation. The twisted inhabitants of the Abyss fringes of cities and towns. The Abyss, ever turbulent, was
would occasionally venture forth to wreak havoc on the world, beaten into a frenzy of activity by the campaign of Ba’el and
before inevitably stretching themselves too thin and too far the possibilities that the network presented. As divided as the
from their realm and being driven back. Diplomatic discord noble races were, they would need to unite once again to meet
would occasionally spill over into minor conflict. But still, the threats to come in the years ahead, lest they all perish.
the soil of Pannithor rested under a peace of sorts, a natural
equilibrium that saw civilisations flourish and grow, and the The Wicked Ones gazed up from the Seventh Circle, and
cycle of life resume. poured their favour upon Ba’el, for truly he had found a way
to crush the world of mortals. The Abyssal Crusade had truly
Then came the Necromancer. begun.
Mortibris was not the first of his kind. Nor was he the sole
architect of the dark times that would follow. But it was his
pursuit of the Portal of Khul-Harakh, and the subsequent
opening of the seals on the Entrance to the Underworld,
which began the dark times. Human scholars had referred The Abyssal Incursions
to the previous age as the Age of Conflict. They would soon
discover how inadequately framed their experience had been. Under the leadership of Ba’el, the Abyssal hordes have
come to represent the greatest threat to Pannithor since
From the moment Mortibris and Ba’el unleashed their the Wicked Ones instigated the God War. The Portals
hellish crusade upon the mortal world, nothing would ever Beneath the World twist and snake through the fabric
be the same. Simmering tensions between the civilised of the world, so that incursions – small and large – can
races were exacerbated in the wake of the conflict, with occur anywhere, at any time. And the power of the
civilisations attempting to capitalise on gains made, and Abyssals grows with each victory, until the horde attains
territories occupied. The suspicion with which the dwarfs of such momentum that the fabric of reality tears, and
the Golloch Empire and the humans of Basilea viewed each a gibbering horde pours through it. The Green Lady
other worsened. The elves of Walldeep saw the need for their herself, combining her magic with that of the Thuul
kind to take a more active role in the affairs of the world Mythicans of the Trident Realm, only just stopped the
beyond their walls once more, a decision that did not sit latest assault on the world, quenching the flames of
well with the other races. And the ancient kingdoms such as the Abyss, albeit only for a short time. Nothing can
Ophidia found themselves once more drawn onto the world’s extinguish the raging fire at the heart of the hell-scar in
stage, expected to take sides and engage in endless politicking, the earth and the Abyss is stirring again, a fresh horde
which distracted them from their true work. The bestial orcs of demonic evil biding its time, getting ready to strike.
were agitated by the conflict, pushing further against the
edges of civilisation as they sensed weakness and opportunity. It is a horde that concerns itself only with the end of
The Abyssal Dwarfs rallied to launch a mighty assault from mortals, and the burning of the world.
their twisted kingdom, and the Twilight Kin sensed discord
amongst their kindred elven peoples, and wondered at how
best to exploit it.

204
Background

205
Background

Goblins
It is easy to dismiss the diminutive goblin as little more than Unlike the predominantly destructive and chaotic evil races
a weakling pest. But these cousins of the orcs are as cunning of the land, the goblin race is a great maker of things.
and cruel as they are small, and their numbers are now so Perhaps fuelled largely by their own physical inadequacies
vast that they are more than merely pests: they are a plague. or hierarchical shortcomings, they apply their quick and
energetic minds to the conception of occasionally baffling
No scholar has yet offered a convincing account of the contraptions. So-called ‘Gadjits’ toil away in crude workshops
moment or method by which goblins came into being. The before emerging astride some bizarre contraption usually
fabric of their history is so closely woven into that of orcs as designed to cause harm in unthinkable ways, or to otherwise
to be all but indistinguishable, and few early records exist levy some sinister confrontational advantage. Unlike great
where one is mentioned without the other. Some suggest, engineers like the dwarfs or halflings, goblin machines lack
rather uncharitably, that Garkan the Black created goblins true craftsmanship and their designs are just as likely to cause
with ‘whatever was left over’ after orcs were made – and damage to their own troops as they are the enemy.
perhaps, given their renowned propensity for scavenging and
invention, this slur would not displease them. What they lack
in stature or strength they more than make up for in sheer
numbers, ingenuity and savage cruelty. Many a brave warrior
has been drowned in a flood of vicious green-skinned fighters
as they overwhelm their chosen target.

Goblins are scrawny creatures, no taller than a dwarf and


considerably slighter. Their ears and noses are grotesquely
large, lending them a well-developed sense of hearing and
smell, the better to notice approaching danger. Their beady
red eyes are full of malign intelligence, and flicker about
furtively, always scanning for danger, something to steal, or
an easy target to kill.

As a group, an instinctive and almost rodent-like ability to


propagate drives the goblins to a constant, frenetic level of
activity and fills them with a boundless energy for progressing
the swarm ever onwards. The trouble now is that
goblins have been overlooked for so long by the
noble races of the land, that their population is
reaching breaking point. If left unchecked for much
longer, the dam will break and the goblins could spill
across the continent in a tidal wave of violence.

Thankfully for everyone else, goblins are prone to short


tempers, mindless brutality and petty spitefulness. They
are keen to exact swift vengeance on their foes – whether
perceived or real - and this means that although a goblin
army will occasionally swell to terrifying numbers, it will
quickly fall apart due to in-fighting and squabbling. A goblin
commander spends as much time keeping an eye on their
warriors – keen to avoid a knife in the back – as they do on
their rivals across the battlefields. As a result, their decisions
in battle are often more concerned with keeping themselves
safe, than defeating their opponent.

206
Goblin Clans
Background
It is likely the goblins discovered the destructive nature of
black power weapons in their many skirmishes with dwarfs.
There is no one goblin kingdom. Instead, large clans are While the dwarfs use black powder in their intricately
scattered across the land, each with their own self-elected designed weaponry, goblins prefer to pack in as much as
(and often tyrannical) leader. It is not uncommon for these possible and hope it doesn’t blow their face off.
miniature megalomaniacs to declare themselves king – and
there can often be multiple goblin ‘kings’ ruling at any one Although goblins excel in digging, they lack the necessary
time. Typically the kings will spend the majority of their powers of concentration and determination for farming or
short-lived reign fighting other goblin kings or hiding away cultivating livestock. As such, large numbers regularly flood
from would-be attackers. If any goblin king ever managed to from hidden entrances to their tunnels, to raid the nearby
survive the petty squabbling and back stabbing to unite the surroundings. These infrequent, surprise attacks can quickly
clans in a common goal, it would be a dark day indeed for the overwhelm unsuspecting settlements and comparisons to
other races. immense plagues of locusts are not uncommon. The goblins
will strip the land of whatever they find: crops, animals,
The problem is that it’s impossible to tell how many goblin weapons, building materials, etc., before hauling them back to
clans there are. This is because goblins are incredibly their underground lair.
proficient at tunnelling; preferring to hide away from the
world in the safety of caves or vast, underground warrens. In
fact, some say the goblins rival the dwarfs themselves in their
ability to form subterranean dwellings – though they never
say it in earshot of a dwarf, if they value their lives.

Scant knowledge of these goblin settlements has been


pieced together from the ramblings of prisoners that have
managed to escape the cavernous, maze-like burrows.
Unlike dwarf holds that have an organised structure, a
goblin’s underground city is seemingly built at random.
Narrow tunnels will criss-cross each other before coming
to an unexpected end, while others will spin off in random
directions back toward the surface or head even deeper
underground. It is likely to be the goblins’ nervous, skittish
energy that leads them to constantly start new projects,
without completing whatever task they were previously
working on.

There are some consistencies in each gloomy burrow,


however. All have a large communal area where the goblins
retire after a furious period of tunnelling or raiding.
Hundreds of greenskins will huddle together when sleeping
– the sheer volume of individuals seemingly giving them a
comforting sense of safety. At the heart of this chamber you The Goblin who would be King
will find the appointed king and their most loyal Biggits, The only goblin to come close to becoming a true goblin
while goblins held in low regard and any prisoners must sleep King is Grogger Split-tooth. From humble beginnings as
toward the edge of the hall. It is thought the king sleeps in the commander of a Rabble regiment, Grogger showed a
the very centre so that in the case of an attack, the invaders true talent for leadership – something normally lacking
will need to wade through the other sleeping goblins before among his fellow goblins. As Grogger said himself,
reaching their leader. other goblins ‘actually listen’ when he speaks and seem
to (mostly) do what he tells him. During the war against
When the goblins are not sleeping, the tunnels are alive the Abyss, Grogger came close to conquering the Forest
with the thrumming of machinery or the booms of distant of Galahir and it was only a desperate last-minute
explosions. Deep within the chambers, you will find the defence by the Forces of Nature that drove him out.
crude workshops of the Gadjits and Banggits. These are kept But Grogger is undeterred. After the defeat he retreated
away from the sleeping quarters, just in case of accidental to lick his wounds but, more importantly, he’s been
blasts from unstable experiments. While the Gadjits enjoy carefully plotting his revenge and the Forest of Galahir
building, the Banggits delight in destroying things in the will be the first place to feel his wrath
most spectacularly violent and explosive way possible.

207
Background

Goblin Magic Goblins at War


Unlike some of the other races of Pannithor, goblins do not Because of their cowardly nature, goblins tend to avoid all-
show a natural affinity for magic. Their skittish nature and out war, instead preferring sneak attacks or moonlit raids on
malicious minds make it almost impossible for them to study unsuspecting villages. However, their seemingly relentless
the secrets of spellcasting in any great depth. As such, magic ability to propagate results in an increasing demand for
users among a goblin clan are outnumbered by the likes of supplies. Sometimes small factions will break off from the
Gadjits or Banggits. tribe to set up their own warren, which temporarily decreases
the ever-growing need. Other times a leader that still has
Occasionally though, a goblin will show an interest in the control of his followers will convince them to muster their
arcane arts – although it is not clear whether this interest forces and march to war, which causes its own problems.
develops because they can sense the winds of magic blowing
across Pannithor. During the many goblin raids into civilised Although goblins show a propensity for crafting ingenious,
settlements, they will steal any magical artefacts, spellbooks though unreliable, war machines, they have little skill when
or trinkets they find, dragging them back to the warren with it comes to smithing weapons or armour. Instead they must
excited glee. rely on whatever they’ve scavenged from previous raids. As
a result, a goblin army is a ramshackle mix of ill-fitting
The problem is that without the proper training, these armour, filthy jerkins, rusty blades and tired-looking bows.
would-be magicians are unable to control the magical items It would almost be an amusing sight, if they weren’t so
they find. They will drink mysterious potions, read banished potentially lethal.
incantations or simply disappear into a ball of blazing light. It
is not uncommon for entire clans to be wiped out by a goblin Another issue for a beleaguered goblin commander is trying
accidentally unleashing a particularly destructive spell. to get his troops to follow simple commands. There’s a saying
in Pannithor when trying to organise an unruly crowd that
As such, these goblins – known as a Wiz - are treated with it’s like ‘giving orders to a rabble’ – the term commonly used
acute suspicion by their fellow greenskins and treated as to describe an unwieldy regiment of goblins. Left to their own
outsiders. Many are not allowed inside the communal area devices, the edgy greenskins will simply run away from battle,
and are banished to nearby caves. Left to their own devices start fighting among themselves, get distracted by immediately
though, some will gain some a modicum of control over their collecting the spoils of war, or just charge wildly into the
burgeoning magical abilities and are quickly drafted into the opposition without the slightest hint of battle tactics.
ranks of a goblin army… whether they want to or not.
When they can be safely goaded into combat, the goblins
However, an enemy commander can normally tell where mass together in huge hordes. With so many other goblins
a Wiz is among the goblin army. This is because the other packed around them, a kind of battle frenzy overcomes their
goblins tend to give the Wiz a wide birth during battle, just normally timid nature. They charge into battle, violently
in case they’re overwhelmed by the powerful magic coursing swinging their rusty weapons and screeching foul battle cries.
through their body and dramatically explode in a shower of Many goblins die on the initial charge, as they’re struck by
body parts and unstable energy. the swords or spears of eager comrades.

Those that do make it to the enemy, quickly engulf them in


a blur of gnashing teeth and wild slashes. Unlike the dwarfs
or elves, who rely on hours of military drilling and battle
planning, goblins simply trust sheer numbers to overwhelm
their foe. The problem is that if left unchecked, the goblins
could grow in large enough numbers to overwhelm Pannithor
itself – something to send a chill down the spine of even the
hardiest warrior.

208
Background

209
Background

Nightstalkers
Since the creation of the Abyss, the veil between realities has
thinned. Behind the veil lies every nightmare, fear and terror
ever conjured by mortal minds and worse. Where the fabric
of reality thins, these ravening entities gather like moths to
a candleflame, looking for ingress into the physical world.
Terror given form, the Nightstalkers are creatures of dark
fable, who hunger for the souls of mortals.

In a world steeped in magic, plagued by warfare, and touched


by the gods themselves, it seems inevitable that spirits and
shades should haunt the realms of mortals. And yet the
Nightstalkers are more than mere ghosts: they are the stories
by which parents scare their children abed. They are the
monsters that dwell in the darkest forests, who demand
sacrifice from superstitious villagers. They are the
darkest dreams and ill omens made manifest.

210
The Tearing of the Veil
Background
These are the Nightstalkers: the dreams, nightmares, fears
and horrors of mortals become manifest. They lurk in the
The elven Conclave of Heaven was a secretive, intellectual shadows and feed on the most powerful of mortal emotions
project devoted to the study of higher consciousness and - fear, hatred and pride. The essence of the Stalkers burrows
the nature of divinity. The pinnacle of the Conclave’s deep into the psyche of mortals, so that each time an
achievements and understanding came when it attracted incursion through the veil occurs, the spirits gain a greater
the attentions of the young and seemingly curious Celestian foothold in the world. When the power of the Abyss swells
known as Oskan. Oskan seemed to display a bond with anew, those seeds that have taken root erupt violently until
the elves and hinted at great changes soon to come with dark manifestations tear themselves from mortal hosts,
wonderful gifts bestowed upon the mortal world. Oskan began terrorising communities, and sometimes gathering into vast
to teach the elven arch-mages how to travel the paths between hosts of unimaginable horrors. They come from shadow,
worlds and walk in the footsteps of the gods, luring them ever sweeping through the mortal realm, taking nourishment from
further away from their bodies, testing their minds for his the very fear that precedes them. As their grip on the physical
own amusement. form fades, Stalkers often latch onto the bodies of the dead
One day, the entire conclave was invited deeper into the – or even undead – in desperation; this explains in part why
paths, beyond the mists of time, with Oskan leading and the shadowy spectres are so often seen in graveyards or roaming
elves displaying an almost childish glee to see the wonders of ancient battlefields. Such wretched spirits are often sought
the galaxy and other, unimaginable planes of existence. Then out by necromancers, for there is much they can teach the
Elinathora smashed the Fenulian Mirror. Chaos erupted practitioners of dark magic, if they can be successfully bound
and sorcerous turmoil swept across the land and skies as the – a terrifyingly difficult task, fraught with danger.
bodies of the Celestians were ripped in two. As Oskan’s body
was split in twain, the backwash of cosmic energy shattered Cosmic Horrors
the bodies, minds and spirits of the Conclave around him. While the vast majority of the Nightstalker host comprises
Acting as a conduit for this devastating surge of raw power, hollow remnants of Pannithor’s distant past, there are things
the mortal bodies of the elves formed the epicentre of an that follow them through the veil more terrifying by far.
explosion that utterly destroyed the city where the Conclave They come from other planes, other universes – even other
had met. The souls of the entire population and all living worlds beyond space and time. They are alien, cold and
creatures for miles in every direction were torn from the unfathomable. Their twisted forms speak to the mortals of
mortal plane and scattered across countless dimensions; the Pannithor on some primal level that few can understand.
screams of the victims echoing across both time and space. The oldest of the elves believe that these creatures serve
Feeding greedily on the minds so cruelly sacrificed, Oskan, cyclopean beings that were once gods, worshipped even before
Father of Lies, was born. the Celestians, by cultures thankfully forgotten, or wiped out
long before the elder races began to write down their history.
When Domivar created the Abyss with the axe of Oskan it
They whisper strange names, almost unpronounceable, such
created a rent not only in the earth but in the fabric of the
as the Ch’wthall’thoi, and Tsatt’huul the fear-demon. Almost
universe too. The paths between realities twisted, crossed, and
as a racial memory, these dark star-gods and their minions
swelled with power. The veil between worlds grew so thin
are still feared, such that the very sight of them can cause the
in parts that the shadow-forms of myriad, strange creatures
weak of mind to be driven mad.
could be seen flickering in the air, and it is the waxing and
waning power of the Abyss that attracts and repels these
creatures in turn. The Abyss and other sites like it across The Hosts of Shadow
the world of Pannithor are areas where reality has thinned, Stalkers take many forms – often perceived by different races
and such places draw things from other dimensions into in different ways depending on the superstitions and fears
the mortal world. It is here, behind fragile barriers between of a culture or individual, or a hideous perversion of their
realities, that unimaginable things gather and lurk, desperate once-mortal form. As in the life they were so cruelly ripped
to find a way into the world of mortals. These are what away from, there are many different types of Nighstalker,
remains of the beings horrifically torn from the world as sometimes even shaped by remnants of memories and
Oskan was born. And in their absence from the mortal world personalities of their lost mortality. Sometimes, when
they have encountered other things, too. Cosmic entities and the powers of the Abyss are strong, the presence of the
obscene horrors who follow the shadows to the thinning veil, Nightstalkers rips a portal in the fabric of reality – a doorway
eyeing a new world to conquer; new souls to devour. between dimensions. The damage to the Shadow Paths in
the Twilight Glades has created another vulnerability in the
fabric of reality.

211
Background

The power of the Abyss is channelled through such rents for the rest of the host to manifest. Wherever they appear,
that seethe and boil in the air, painful for mortals to see Doppelgangers are not far behind, whose mimicry of the
directly. At the edge of vision the portal seems like a cage enemy often leads to mistrust and bloody murder. And it
of glossy black, writhing serpents, screaming in perpetual is not merely the twisted spirits of men, elves and dwarfs
agony. Nightstalker shadow-hosts burst forth into reality: a that join the host: monstrous Stalkers also exist, such as the
gibbering, cacophonous explosion of fear wreathed in the Shadowhulks, seemingly fused from the souls and bodies of
purple lightning of the portal. The baying of spectral hounds several giant Cyclopes and now filled with the hunger of the
goes before the ravenous host, while the soul-rending screams void.
of heartless Banshees chills their foe to the bone.
And from the void come those emissaries of the ancient
Most numerous of the shadow-hosts are Spectres – hollow star-gods. If these creatures were ever mortal at all, it must
remnants of once-living ancients. These are the creatures have been some bizarre form of life that no longer exists
that often haunt places where the dead are interred. They on Pannithor. Unspeakable and indescribable things, they
are mournful, wraith-like creatures, wreathed in cloaks of have lived in the dimensions between worlds for an eternity.
mist and shadow. Cowardly beings, they huddle in vicious Perhaps they were known to the Celestians as they themselves
packs, lashing out at any mortal that comes near with tendrils travelled the stars. Some, like the monstrous Void Lurkers,
of soul-mist. From their obfuscating presence, shambling, have an intelligence of sorts and understand enough to sense
zombie-like Scarecrows emerge. Their presence is often the rents in the fabric of the universe and know how to
heralded by wriggling swarms of bloated Blood worms, which locate them. They attach themselves to Nightstalkers as they
congregate around the Spectres’ victims, sucking the blood stream into reality. There, they coalesce into mismatched and
from the dead and dying. petrifying shapes. Other squamous horrors accompany these
beasts, from vaguely arachnoid fiends, to flickering, tenebrous
Manifesting from the primal fears of their enemies, blade- planar apparitions.
limbed Reapers and skull-faced Phantasms are the harbingers
of the horde, whose purpose is to sow the terror required

212
The Battle of Tarisios
Background
sight, then reappearing in the midst of the Basileans. Pale-
skinned beings, at first beauteous, lured soldiers from the
One of the more remote and sprawling provinces of Basilea, ranks, before transforming into skull-faced monsters, with
Nova Ardovikio is a hub of trade for leagues around, for it screams so terrible that the soldiers’ minds were seared on the
stands as a gateway to the Young Kingdoms, the Successor spot. Behind myriad, gibbering creatures, huge shadow-beasts
Kingdoms, and the feudal realms of old Primovantor. The lurked, chitinous and terrible to behold, their uncountable
city of Tarisios is the centre of commerce for the region, and eyes brimming with alien intelligence. These terrors and
as such it is well protected by the Hegemony. Well protected, more tore savagely into the defenders of Tarisios until all but
that is, against mortal foes. the Paladins and the devout Sisterhood remained – a circle of
It was during a particularly harsh winter, when many of light against an endless, encroaching darkness.
the farmsteads and villages around Tarisios had been made And yet Ecquitar was resolute. With every step forward he
inaccessible, that the incursion began. Old folk tales of shades took, he saw the creatures before him diminish in strength.
haunting the burial grounds nearby, or of fey creatures With every prayer he uttered, a shadow flickered, as though
lurking in the woods to carry children away in the night it might fade completely. Ecquitar saw that courage was the
began to resonate more strongly than ever before. Peasants only weapon of any surety against these creatures, and at
from villages miles apart began to experience nightmares once ordered his Paladins to form a ring of steel around the
of violent intensity – nightmares of shadow-formed beasts, Sisters. He ordered the blessed Sisters to abandon the fight
slavering ghost-hounds, and, worst of all, many-eyed, and instead sing the praises of the Elohi. One by one the
tentacle things hovering silently in the dark. The citizens of Paladins fell, and soon the shadow-maws of spectral hounds
Tarisios itself soon began to fall prey to similar nightmares and the flickering scythes of deathly phantoms bit deep into
and visions, until the cries in the night could be heard all the Sisters themselves, but they showed no fear. Still they
around the city. An atmosphere of paranoia and fear pervaded raised their voices to the heavens in a choir that surely the
every settlement, and the Paladins of the Hegemon soon arch-angels could hear.
took notice. Something was amiss, and at first the malign
influence of Abyssal magic was suspected.

One by one, the villages, farms and remote watchtowers of


Nova Ardovikio went dark, snuffed out like candles. Riders
were dispatched, but were turned back each time by what
they described as banks of unnatural darkness, like inky black
fog – that is, if they returned at all. Cut off from the outside
world, the citizens of Tarisios huddled together behind the
city walls, their growing fear palpable on the air.

One night, the city guard saw a great pall of shadow encroach
from all around, seeping up through the ground, smoking
down from the Copper Hills, creeping forth through the
trees of Galahir, blacker even than the darkness all around.
Hideous forms squirmed, scuttled and jerked through
the dark. Thousands of pairs of shining eyes fixed their
cold, inhuman gaze upon the city. Panic rose, for as soon
as man, woman or child set eyes on the army of shadow,
they recognised the subject of their night-terrors. They saw
legendary monsters they had feared since their earliest days,
and with each sob of fear, the shadow-horde grew larger,
stronger, and closer.

Though his men-at-arms were filled with dread at the


prospect of facing their manifest fears in battle, the garrison
commander, High Paladin Ecquitar, sallied forth with
the city guard at his back. As his warriors drew close, the
shadows shifted and parted, and the true horror of the foe was
revealed. Black shapes scuttled across the ground. Lolling,
slack-jawed killers shambled into view before vanishing from

213
Background

And hear them they did. Bringing a brilliant light as of the


dawn, an angelic host swept over Tarisios. Where their light
shone, the people felt courage anew. Men-at-arms rallied.
Citizens took up axes and torches and surged from the city
to aid their High Paladin. Where previously the weapons of
men had failed to harm the shadow-creatures, they now bit
deep, and the creatures shrank away from the stout-hearted
warriors.

Ecquitar raced forward, his faith driving him through the


pack of wailing monstrosities, until he confronted the great
beast itself, the thing from the void. It whispered his deepest
fears into his mind; it transformed into things that Ecquitar
wished he could unsee; and finally, it struck at him with
blade-like talons of pure dark energy. The assault on mind
and body rocked Ecquitar to his core, and although he felt the
thing’s pure evil begin to seep into his heart, he struck once
more, his blessed blade biting deep. The creature screamed
with such intensity that the other shadows began to dissipate,
and every Basilean fell clutching their heads as mental pain
overcame them. When they recovered, the creatures were gone
– nothing more than sliding shadows on the edge of vision. In
the east, the first rind of the sun heralded a new dawn, and
the end of the alien threat. All that was left to do was count
the cost.

For Ecquitar, it was only the beginning. During his battle


with the void-creature, something had changed him. He felt
a darkness inside himself, a seed of evil and fear gnawing at
his faith, contaminating him. He knew this. And yet, in his
shame, he said nothing…

The Lurking Menace


For all the sudden violence and catastrophic destruction
that a Nightstalker incursion can bring, the waning of the
Abyss drives them away like shadows before the rising sun.
In the aftermath of such a battle, it is hard for a mortal to
comprehend exactly what just happened, for all at once the
spectral foe seems no more dangerous than bad dreams and
tales to frighten children. However, with each incursion more
Stalkers dig themselves deep into the psyche of unwitting
hosts, gaining more of a foothold in the real world. The
fracture in the elven ways, the expansion of the Abyss and
Southern Rift, the wilful summoning by the crones of the
Twilight Kin and simply the fear in the mortal mind; inch by
inch, soul by soul, the Nightstalkers gain ground, for when
enough of them can stake a claim to the realm of mortals,
they no longer have to rely on the vagaries of the Abyss to
bring them into being in force. And when that day comes,
surely all of Pannithor will be overwhelmed by screeching
shadow.

214
Background

215
Background

Orcs
Orcs are brutish, evil beings, created for war. They delight in
destruction. All their essence is bent towards violence, mind
and body. They despise beauty and goodness, finding their
very presence insufferable, and do all they can to burn what
is right in the world to ash.

There is, perhaps, no creature on Pannithor more vile than


the orc. While all other species in Pannithor have reached
their native disposition through a process of natural reactions
over thousands of years, orcs were made as they are; designed
to be the perfect living weapons of a god mad on bloodshed,
whose only aim was to see the world burn.

216
It was at the height of the God War when the Wicked One,
Background
wheat; others say that they grow from discarded body parts.
Garkan the Black, looked upon the brutal mire which the Others still point to more sorcerous means. It is thought that
face of Pannithor had become and thought he would add to perhaps Talus, the dark aspect of the Celestian Hermanas
that misery with a legion of man-beasts no other army could often linked to lies and mischief, may be responsible for
hope to best. There is some debate today of exactly when and imparting the secret of reproduction to the orcs. If this is
how Garkan began his obscene experiments. Even the august true, it is a trick rued by all races on Pannithor.
Academy of Theologians in Basilea cannot agree on the
precise details. Whether Garkan forged his creations hoping Orc Physiology
to swamp the forces of his kin’s lighter aspects and bring a
Physically, orcs are tremendously imposing. Their bodies
swifter victory, or to tip the balance as the dark gods began
are comparable in basic silhouette and size to a large man
to lose the initiative. Or perhaps it was simply death and
or even ape, though the details differ vastly. They are broad
violence itself that was the ambition.
and hunched of shoulder, perhaps twice the weight of a
In fashioning the orcs, the dark god of smiths bent all of his grown man, with long, heavily muscled arms possessed
talents to seeking out the perfect amalgamation of martial of animal strength. Their bodies are hugely muscled and
prowess and uncontrollable aggression. There was not a powerful, covered in tough green hide, akin to the leather
people in Pannithor he did not extract some slice of character armour of some steppes warriors. Orcs have long faces and
from, for even the brightest, most peaceable creature possesses jutting, fang-lined maws. Above tiny, snout-noses, red eyes
some sliver of darkness and violence. With the skill only glimmer in deep sockets like the Abyss wrought in miniature.
a god could possess, Garkan disassembled these myriad Their capacity for pain and privation is unmatched by any
creatures, and reformed them into something stronger, and other race in the world. They can march for weeks on little
fouler. to no sustenance, fight for days with no sign of tiring and
survive wounds that should rightly kill them. Their life-span
Garkan toiled at his soul forges and horrific flesh anvils, is limited ,however, and most but for the greatest of their
working malice, muscle and hate into living forms until, kind live for only a dozen or so years, although studies are
after 900 days and nights, he drew forth from the Abyss the inconclusive as to whether this is through violence, the body
first of orc kind. Their component parts were unidentifiable; burning out with so much pent up aggression, or natural
they were driven near blind with pain and filled with causes.
unquenchable rage. It was this creature that Garkan
unleashed, ensuring the world would never be the same Orcs are by nature lazy creatures, but suitably motivated
again. by the promise of war or the slaver’s lash, they can march
without pause for day upon day, their shuffling run eating
If the orc was intended to tip the war in favour of the dark up leagues eagerly. Every aspect of their repulsive physicality
gods, they failed. However, if death and blood was the is crafted to keep them alive and fighting as long as possible,
objective, orcs have performed admirably. During the God from their unnaturally resilient flesh to their thick, green-
War, hundreds of thousands of iron-shod orc feet pounded the black blood which flows slowly through their veins and
fields of Pannithor, driven by the whips of their masters and means even the most grave of wounds will not slow them.
the urge, nay, the need to see living things die.
An orc’s tongue is clumsy, ill-suited to speech, and their
The end of the God War was not the end of the orc race. Free language is harsh and guttural, full of rasping and barking.
of their insidious masters the orcs dispersed, the natural flow Their minds are as narrow and ugly as their features; their
of their movements taking them to the lonely, wild places greatest preoccupation is the invention of ever-greater
of the world. Winter’s retreat scraped much of northern torments for the innocent and good. It is easy to mistake their
Pannithor clean, leaving the orc tribes alone in a sea of virgin inability to concentrate and propensity for sudden, mindless
grassland where they may have remained until nature took violence as stupidity, but orcs are far from stupid. From their
its course and they slowly killed each other off in internecine father god Garkan the Black they have inherited an affinity
wars. Had that happened, Pannithor would be a very different for forging; and though their creations are crude and ugly to
world. Instead, something happened that would transform others’ eyes, they are strong and functional. Their weapons
the orcs into a world-threatening force, or, more accurately, a are heavy and rough-hewn, often made of black iron, and
plague. honed to a razor-sharp edge. They make little use of armour,
largely because they do not need it, except to make themselves
How the orcs learned to multiply is a mystery to even the
look more imposing in battle. Orcs are capable of awesome
greatest scholars although it assumed basic biology takes
feats of smithing and engineering when inspired – the might
part. The beasts themselves seem to make no real distinction
of their weapons is surpassed only by the twisted ingenuity of
between male or female, there is simply ‘orc’, and Garkan
their instruments of torture.
employed techniques unholy and profane in their creation.
Some myths have orcs that sprout from the ground like

217
Background

Orc Tribes curse inflicted by Garkan upon the world: the orcs will likely
never conquer all, but their threat is ever-present, an open
Orcs band together into nomadic tribes of varying size. sore that scars every race of Pannithor, ensuring that none
The smallest may contain a single warband of a few dozen will ever reign supreme.
warriors, while the largest are thousands strong. The greatest
concentration of orcs roam the open plains and foothills to
the north, where a fight is never far away, either with their The Godspeakers
own kind, the ogres across the Mammoth Steppe, or the hated It is perhaps a blessing to the rest of Pannithor that the orcs
Abyssal Dwarfs of Tragar. have little to no magical attunement. As a race, orcs seem
almost entirely unable, or unwilling, to tap into the magical
The concept of a ‘tribe’ in orc culture is, however, unlike that energies that other races take for granted, instead relying
found in similar nomadic peoples. Orcs naturally despise on strength at arms to carve out their territories. Scholars
order and peace. A typical orc has no real concept of loyalty, speculate that this lack of magical aptitude was a deliberate
either familial or otherwise. It travels with a clan for the flaw, imbued into the orcs by their creator, Garkan. Legend
promise of war and plunder. If that is not forthcoming, or has it that so assured was Garkan of the orcs’ ultimate
if a greater leader surfaces, an orc will change its affiliation dominion over Pannithor, that he removed their ability to
in a heartbeat, serving whichever warlord, or ‘Krudger’ in challenge him directly. Others say that Garkan would never
their language, can promise the most bloodshed. So it is that have been so cowardly as to fear his own creations, and thus
tribes tend to be named for their current warlord, or favoured it was more likely a rival god who meddled in the creation of
hunting grounds, and their banners bear simple motifs and the orcs, removing any innate magical abilities.
colours which serve little purpose other than to provide a
rallying point in battle. All orcs long for the call to a famous, Whatever the reason, there are some curious exceptions.
marauding tribe, hoping that day their path of slaughter Every tribe has one or more ‘Godspeakers’ amongst their
might be mentioned in the same breath as the Bonecrusher number. These orcs are scrawny and weak compared to their
tribe, or Gakamak the Smasher. warrior brethren. But they do not suffer the same violent fate
as other runts, because they are marked out at birth as being
Orc tribes are found across Pannithor, however, spreading different. Their eyes sometimes glow with weird green energy,
like a cancer within civilised lands. In Mantica, across and they talk to themselves a great deal – or, rather, they
the Successor Kingdoms, Primovantor, Basilea, the Halpi talk to the gods, which to the orcs often amounts to the same
Mountains, and even it is believed, the lands beyond thing. As such, Godspeakers are shunned by their fellows and
the Infant Sea, orcs are a constant nuisance. They come tend to live in relative isolation, following the tribes around
from open steppe and dark forests, raiding in the night, the plains but keeping a respectful distance. The Krudgers
slaughtering villages and towns, plundering all they can and ensure that the Godspeakers live unmolested and even send
burning what’s left. No matter how many tribes are put down ‘volunteers’ to the Godspeakers’ huts from time-to-time
by the lords of dwarfs, elves and men, some always survive, with food and offerings, in return for blessings or prophetic
retreating into the dark places of the world before springing warnings of what lies ahead.
up months or even years later, in ever greater numbers.
When orcs amass for battle, Godspeakers often march with
Orc society, or what passes for it, is predictably simple: the the tribe, accepted for perhaps the only time in their reclusive
strongest leads. All orc tribal leaders have reached their lives, and driven to a frenzied ecstasy by the proximity of so
position atop the corpses of their predecessors. An orc leader many of their kin. They chant prayers and shout blessings
might last a decade or two before age and war-wounds take upon the orcs, all the while hopping up and down on one leg,
their toll, and they are bested in combat by another orc. The and flapping their arms about. Whether these charms work or
loser is often devoured by the victor, sometimes while they not is open to debate, but the superstitious orcs would rather
are still alive. So it is that the greatest warlords of the orcs are let the Godspeakers be, on the off chance that they really do
terrifying brutes, their size matched only by their ferocity and talk to the gods. Better to have the gods on your side, than
cunning. against you.
If the presence of orc tribes goes unchallenged, they swell in
size and power. Sometimes, an orc Krudger will rise to such Armies of the Orcs
prominence that he is able to unite several tribes under one An orc army on the move is like a force of nature;
banner. If he can hold on to his position for long enough, indiscriminate and utterly destructive, yet it is a mistake to
this great alliance inevitably sweeps towards settled lands think of them as a directionless mob. All orcs inherently
without fear. Only by slaying the warlord will this threat be have a grasp of warfare, and the larger the orc, the more
ended – a leaderless orc tribe rapidly loses all discipline. The experienced they are in the arts of war, and thus the firmer
ranks descend into a squabbling, disorganised mass, which this understanding. As such, even small bands of orcs
crumbles and fragments. This is both the blessing and the can pose a threat, as long as they are organised around a

218
Background

sufficiently experienced leader. For all their lack of discipline, warriors often band together to form Morax regiments,
an orc army is terrifying to face. Individual orcs are almost identifiable by their use of twin axes, and usually found at
entirely fearless once in combat, and though their formations the forefront of any orc infantry charge. They are supported
lack the precise coordination of more organised armies, they gleefully by Greatax units – the ‘Graka Mar-Kashgak’ –
are all formidable warriors. heavily scarred veterans worth many of a lesser orc. These
elite warriors bear double-handed axes into battle, and are
The average orc is psychotically violent, and a group of them rightly feared across Pannithor. Most Krudgers will hand-
together are possessed of barely enough discipline to march in pick a mob of Greatax to form their personal guard in battle,
the same direction. Squabbles and fighting among the ranks always keeping one eye on the best fighters amongst them, in
of an orc regiment are a constant problem, as anything judged case they challenge his supremacy in the battle’s aftermath.
a slight by an orc – and they are exceptionally touchy – can
rapidly escalate into bloody murder. Other orcs expect this, Some orcs are so eager to get to grips with the enemy that
and those that fall to fighting are abandoned to sort it out they look for mounts to carry them faster into battle. Most
between themselves, the survivors expected to catch up. In riding beasts will not allow a foul-smelling, hyper-violent orc
those tribes with particularly strong chiefs, these fights are within a hundred feet, but thankfully for the orcs, the open
delayed until the army breaks its march. Organised fights plains of the north teem with one of the most bad-tempered,
then take place in a circle of jeering orcs, and are the cause of sharp-tusked brutes in Mantica: Gores. These massive,
much wagering. porcine creatures need little excuse to disembowel anyone
who gets too close, including their own riders. Orcs find the
The typical orc fighting formation is a rowdy mob of ‘Barki’, very act of subduing a Gore into service as a cavalry mount
or more commonly, the orc ‘Ax’. Favouring viciously spiked a worthy challenge, and take great pride in hurtling across
axes and shields, they are found in great numbers wherever the battlefield upon their backs, ploughing a mass of muscle,
a strong Krudger marches. The more skilful and reckless tusks and iron into the foe.

219
Background

Over this rampaging mob stands an orc Krudger, biggest, high walls of that industrial land, resigning thousands to a
mightiest and loudest of his kind. Their dominance on the fate worse than death for an orc: slavery. All of that changed,
battlefield is often reflected in their appearance and fighting however, when Gakamak the Smasher rose to prominence.
style. Some surround themselves with a horde of Greatax; He betrayed the Abyssal Dwarfs, slaying several of their lords
some ride upon a particularly ferocious Gore, or atop a Gore- at a parley, before launching an all-out assault on their lands.
pulled chariot in order to get to grips with the enemy more His fame spread rapidly, until it was whispered with dread
swiftly. Others still display their battle-prowess and fame by as far away as Ileuthar, and he duly attracted many smaller
riding to battle atop a winged Slasher, making them almost tribes to his banner, spoiling for a fight with a foe that
unstoppable in personal combat. many had previously thought indefatigable. Tribe Gakamak
became the greatest orc force in history, and soon they took
A battle-savvy Krudger knows that his orc warriors alone will the fight to Tragar, besieging the Abyssal Dwarfs’ temple-
not win him the day. The larger and more infamous a force, bastions and inflicting a series of humiliating defeats upon
the more specialists it will attract, to fulfil those tactical roles the Overmasters.
not normally associated with the blunt instrument that is an
orc warband. The strange breed of orc known as Godspeakers Though they pushed the Abyssal Dwarfs back to the brink
hop up and down beside the regiments, blessing the warriors of the Abyss itself, Gakamak’s mighty army was finally
in the name of the orc gods of war. Lumbering Giants and fractured. The tribes splintered and fled, though the Abyssal
packs of Trolls provide not only muscle, but useful large Dwarfs were in no position to press home a pursuit. So it was
targets to attract the arrows of cowardly foes who prefer to that Gakamak escaped, maintaining control of the core of
fight at range. The orcs, too, have archers, which they call his tribe. Such was his audacity and power that even defeat
‘Skulks’, for they are not blessed with the fearlessness and could not turn the other Krudgers away from his service
strength of their brethren. The diminutive, imp-like Orclings – they knew Gakamak would rise again, and they would
scurry about the battlefield, fetching and carrying for the follow. Duly, Gakamak presided over years of wanton plunder
army, and mischievously harassing the enemy. Orc warbands persecuted against the elves of Galahir, the kingdoms of
are often defined by their territories. Those who wander the the Ardovikian Plain and any other who dared stand before
harsh, open plains of the north tend towards large, rag-tag him. Eventually, only when a particularly harsh winter
units of Gore Riders and chariots, the better to hunt the descended, the Smasher’s horde was at last spent, and despite
lumbering Arrox and Hornbeasts of the steppe. Those from his bellowed orders to the contrary it finally split into its
mountain lairs tend to lumber down to the lowlands with constituent parts, the remains of the tribes returning to their
large numbers of Trolls in tow, as well as a Giant or two to own lands.
put the fear into the enemy. Forest-orcs, by contrast, are so
accustomed to raiding that they tend to attract larger-than- Frustrated, the Krudger headed into the wild tundra with a
ordinary numbers of Skulks, trying (often unsuccessfully) few trusted followers, to battle monstrous beasts and nomadic
to emulate the hated elves by peppering the foe with arrows ogre war-parties. Some say he is there still, and fear the day
from the shadows. Whatever crude tactics a Krudger tries to he decides to return to his homeland to reunite the orcs.
employ, however, the battle almost always descends into a
straight-up fight, when the orcs’ natural inclinations get the Dreams of Conquest
better of them and they rush into the fray in one vast rabble For all their best efforts, the forces of m\en, elves and
of axe, tusk and fist. dwarfs have so far failed to curtail the expansion of orc tribal
territories. Indeed, the numbers of orcs swell with each
War Against the Abyssal Dwarfs passing year, and the numbers of battles against the orcs
There is little love lost between the Abyssal Dwarfs and the increases accordingly. Of late, the greatest seers and mystics
orcs. The heartlands of both these wicked races centre upon from the Vale of Imlar to the city of Spartha have begun to
the great Abyss, whence all the evil in the world comes. The experience visions of increasing violence and clarity. Visions
orcs are regarded as unpredictable and destructive by the of a world ablaze with green flame, in which rivers run red
Abyssal Dwarfs and despite similar goals – the subjugation of with the blood of the noble races. The very wise believe this
the kingdoms of other races – the orcs and Abyssal Dwarfs to prophesize the war to end all wars, in which all civilised
find themselves battling one another more often than not. peoples of Pannithor must unite if they are to survive.
The orcs may be a plague upon the world, but if it were not
If there is any truth to these portents of doom, it can only
for them, the Abyssal Dwarfs would be able to direct all their
mean one thing: that an orc warlord of unprecedented power
unholy energies south, towards the lands of gentler folk.
will soon ascend, and his army will be too large for any single
For the longest time, no orc dared assault Tragar head-on, nation to challenge.
for to do so would result in the orcs crashing against the

220
Background

221
Background

Undead
In Pannithor, the dead do not rest easy.

Across the Successor Kingdoms in Mantica, feudal barons


look to the ancient burial grounds, where kings of old lie
in thrice-warded barrows since before the Age of Ice. Those
kings who served Oskan and the Wicked Ones, it is said, are
cursed to spend eternity in a state of undeath, their tombs
also becoming their prisons. Between the Successor Kingdoms
lie vast swathes of land forever tainted by dark magic, where
Domivar himself once spilled so much of the Wicked Ones’
blood, that any corpse buried is liable to rise from the very
earth as a cadaverous monster, unless it is first decapitated,
and its heart pierced by a stake of ironwood. In the pious
lands of Basilea, such superstitions are widely discouraged,
although secretive bands of devout Paladins routinely venture
forth to the ruins of old Primovantor, where practitioners of
necromancy gather in dark covens to practise their arts.

222
Necromancy is the most abhorrent of sorcery, and those
Background
those who were once known and loved by the reanimated
who practise it are hated and feared in equal measure. warrior. Worse by far is the fate of those imprisoned – if the
In all civilised places, save Ophidia, its use is outlawed. vessel is destroyed, there is a good chance that the summoned
Those caught studying these black arts are likely to find soul will not be able to find its way back to its rest. Such
themselves dragged in ensorcelled iron to a painful execution, benighted spirits wander Pannithor in agony until laid to
but established necromancers are never short of acolytes. rest by priest or paladin, or cast out into the Utterdark for all
Necromancy offers immortality to those who master it, time. Their reanimated body, however, may be risen again
never mind that few actually do. The price of failure is to be and again, becoming no more than a warrior of meat or bone.
condemned for eternity to the endless cold and night of the It is for this reason that necromancy causes such revulsion in
Utterdark. right-thinking folk.

For the handful that escape detection and succeed in their Of course, there are those wicked creatures, tormented in
quest, such devotion does have its rewards – the most infernal planes of existence, who welcome a return to the
powerful necromancers are all but immortal. In violation of land of the living, even if it is as an unfeeling corpse. These
natural law, necromancers are able to use their power to defy spirits are the most dangerous of a necromancer’s servants,
death itself, extending their own lives virtually indefinitely. for they obey them willingly and are thus allowed some
Furthermore, they are able to create armies to do their measure of self-determination. Revenants, wights and wraiths
bidding, invoking powers learnt from ancient tomes to make all flock to the banner of an ambitious necromancer, hoping
corpses clamber back to their feet and skeletons claw their for some scant respite from the cold of the Utterdark.
way up from ancient battlefields. The greatest necromancers
are able to raise forces numbering the tens of thousands: Once a necromancer reaches sufficient power to begin putting
forces that never grow tired, or hungry, or mutinous, and their dark arts into practise, they risk discovery and thus a
which know absolutely no mercy. death sentence. It is hard to disguise necromantic magic, for
it is indiscriminate. When a sorcerer weaves the incantations
Good fortune then, to the rest of the world, that becoming a of awakening, it will re-animate every dead creature nearby.
necromancer is difficult indeed. It takes not only fine magical In such a manner, the decomposing bodies of
talent but also an iron will, for damnation lies around every dogs, rats, birds and horses will inevitably be
corner. A practitioner must have singular focus in order to raised along with the corpses of warriors
animate and sustain the dead in contravention of natural law. and long-dead heroes. All are enslaved
These qualities are rare indeed in budding necromancers, to the will of the necromancer, but all
for the path to this darkest of arts is fraught with mental increase the chance of some do-gooder
toil, and few master the study with their sanity intact. It discovering the necromancer’s foul
takes a lifetime – sometimes several natural lifetimes – for a experiments.
necromancer to become anywhere near competent, for they
must eke out fragments of knowledge in the darkest and most
dangerous corners of the world, all the while evading the
attention of men of noble heart. And it is most often
men who pursue the study of necromancy; the
older races know to leave the dark arts well
alone, while humanity has ever been touched
with a lust for power and immortality – a
curse placed upon their line by the Father
of Lies.

Necromancy is a universally loathed art,


and with good reason. The souls of those
risen by its black magics are dragged
screaming from whatever afterlife they
might inhabit and forced back into their
decayed mortal frames. Trapped in
prisons of decayed flesh, they
can only watch as their new
master uses their very essence as
a fuel to drive their old body on
as a magical automaton, hacking
down the innocent – perhaps even

223
Background

Ophidia, Land of the Dead warriors and servants, all of whom are mummified alive so
that they might serve their lord in the afterlife. The God-
While considered neutral in its outlook, in the ancient Kings are believed to be divine, taking their place amongst
kingdom of Ophidia, all manner of vile magical practises are the pantheon of Ophidia’s deities, until heeding the call
condoned and encouraged. Here, necromancy, demonology to rule again, and lead their people to glory even in death.
and other unnatural arts are studied like any other school of The Ophidians are bemused by the reactions of others to
magic, and skilled necromancers are awarded high status, and their death-magic, pointing out with some justification that
treated in many respects as priests. Most of the blasphemous necromancy helps to keep their kingdom mighty. To them,
texts that have found their way northwards originated in death is only the beginning.
Ophidia, in one form or another, for mastery over death has
been an ambition of these strange peoples since the earliest The work of Ophidia’s scholars, however, has unleashed many
days of humanity. unclean things upon the world, perhaps inadvertently. Both
vampires and ghouls, for instance, are reckoned to be the
Far from being reviled, the people of this strange land products of the sorcerers of Ophidia who, in searching for
worship the necromancer-priests of the great temples. Drawn elixirs to grant immortality, instead created monsters.
from the cult of magi, their duty now is to conduct elaborate
funerary rituals, and to summon the Mighty Dead to walk
alongside the living once more. So it is that in Ophidia the The Mark of the Vampire
common man sees for himself some measure of immortality. It is believed that the curse of vampirism originated in
Ophidia during the God War. Fleeing the wrath of Domivar,
Ophidia is unusual in that its armies comprise undead the Wicked One Akshun’arha made a pact with the magi of
and living warriors marching side by side; its monumental Ophidia. In return for knowledge of necromancy, the magi
buildings are raised by the labours of the dead, who toil were to sacrifice 13 nobles, and bind Akshun’arha’s essence
longer and harder than a hundred times as many slaves ever into the husks, even as the souls left their bodies. So divided,
could. The most noble and powerful rulers of the land are laid Akshun’arha planned to lie dormant, hidden within these
to rest beneath three-sided pyramids of obsidian, their bodies hosts until the war was long over. She could not outfight the
ritually prepared for their triumphant return. Mightiest of Shining Ones, but she was determined to outlast them, even
all are the God-Kings. Little is known about these enigmatic if it meant centuries of slumber beneath the pyramids of
beings but rumour has it they are interred along with their Ophidia.

224
None could have predicted what happened next. The Age of
Background
Eaters of the Dead
Ice swept over the land, and the battles against Winter took
a heavy toll on the world. Pious men and vengeful elves Wherever the dark energy of necromancy settles and congeals,
learned of the dark sorcery that had taken root in Ophidia all around becomes corrupted. Crops wither and die, trees
and came to investigate, learning eventually of the Wicked become more gnarled and twisted, men are driven slowly
One’s plan and determining to put an end to it. Delving deep mad and warped into something inhuman. The necromancer-
below the pyramid, these raiders from the northern lands priests of Ophidia have learnt to control this to a degree
delivered final death to 10 of the hosts – but with each scream themselves, but go to great pains to conceal these horrible
of rage and terror from a departing facet of Akshun’arha’s truths of their magic from the common folk, for the illusion
essence the remaining hosts stirred and grew angry. Finally, of the Mighty Dead would surely be lost if the people knew
their sarcophagi flew open and the last three creatures the price of dabbling in the blackest arts.
emerged. Disturbed from their rest too early and released It is the necromancers’ human servants who were first to be
without the proper incantations, the three remaining facets changed beyond all recognition. Slowly, these humble men
of Akshun’arha’s psyche were driven mad, and fell upon the and women lost all semblance of self. Their hair fell out
invaders hungrily, glutting themselves on blood in order to in clumps, their minds became addled. They developed an
restore their shrivelled, desiccated bodies. They staggered unnatural craving for the flesh of the dead, until nothing else
from the tomb, venturing into the night, feasting on any who could satisfy their hunger. Cursed for this vile appetite, their
stood before them. The three hosts went their separate ways, transformation was complete. Future generations born from
fleeing to the farthest reaches of the world, even as the ice these wretches were disfigured, deformed and bestial. They
retreated, where they created others of their kind through the carried the same curse as their sires, and eventually became
unnatural curse of the Blood Gift. What became of the first the creatures known as ghouls.
vampires is unknown – but their foul offspring have remained
a blight upon Pannithor ever since. Ghouls are found across Pannithor, wherever the dead are
interred. They gather in catacombs beneath the many-storied
Vampires are near-immortal. Barring the destruction of their deeps of Basilea; they haunt the ruins of Primovantor, and
body they cannot die, and the strongest of their number have the graveyards of Sathoi. Across the Successor Kingdoms,
even been known to survive burning and dismemberment. they can be found in the dead of night, digging at barrows
Time and again vampire lords have been slain and their like dogs in search of corpses. In some lands, particularly the
ashes dispersed, only for their corrupt souls to grow a new tribal lands of the north, ghouls are so prevalent that burying
body in some forgotten crypt. This longevity comes at great the dead has become unthinkable. Instead, the deceased are
price, however. Although preternaturally swift and strong, burned on great pyres so that none can feast upon their flesh.
their bodies are prone to bizarre afflictions. Some cannot
cross running water; others burst into flames at the touch of Ghouls are universally reviled and hunted. Often fleeing
the sun. Many of them carry the stink of the charnel house persecution, some animal instinct drives them to seek each
around with them wherever they go; some are grotesque other out and they form loose ‘clans’, ranging from small
and bestial; while others are as beautiful as they are evil. isolated groups of little more than a dozen individuals,
They hunger eternally for blood, and are inclined to terrible all the way up to mighty cave-dwelling hordes numbering
cruelty as they search for it. Many of them possess at least in their thousands. Most clans are ruled by a Corpse-
a grain of conscience and are tormented by every life they Mother, the oldest and most respected matriarch in their
take. Others immerse themselves in savagery only to come to repulsive community. Corpse-Mothers have absolute power
the horrified realisation of what they have become every so over the clan and it is they who guide and direct the raids
often, tormented first by shame and guilt and then by horror and attacks against the living, though they rarely take
as their red thirst reasserts itself. Because of this, many part themselves. While most ghouls are wasted, emaciated
vampires are driven mad. creatures, the Corpse-Mothers ruling over them are bloated,
corpulent creatures, gluttonously feeding on the choicest
Vampirism is a curse, though it is often bestowed as a gift. meats and organs after a kill while the rest of the clan
Despite its many and hideous drawbacks, vampirism exerts starves. Nevertheless, they are regarded with almost holy
a lure even greater than that of necromancy. Vampires are reverence by the clan, and any threat to a Corpse-Mother is
terrible and glorious creatures, and to the most desperate met with savage, unbridled fury. It is these creatures that a
men and women must appear as gods, above the concerns of necromancer must treat with if they are to bring ghouls to the
humanity. They are also natural necromancers, their powers battlefield, although it is normally a mere formality. Ghouls
stemming from the faint essence of Akshun’arha that flows follow necromancers willingly, drawn to the stench of death
through their tainted blood. For this reason they are actively and thrilled by the promise of slaughter.
courted as often as they are hunted, and often take on human
thralls to serve their every whim in return for the merest
promise of the Blood Gift.

225
Background

MHORGOTH THE FACELESS As he grew into a haunted, bitter man, Mhorgoth devoured
every lesson in magic with a hunger that the elves found
staggering and more than a little disturbing. How and when
Mhorgoth the Faceless is arguably the most powerful he was introduced to the dark arts of necromancy is a matter
Necromancer ever to blight the world, a twisted and ancient of great speculation, but whatever the case, Mhorgoth’s
being that was old even before the mountain folk sealed the true calling was finally revealed. The discovery was met
gates of their subterranean cities to the world above. What with shock, revulsion and sadness by the elves. Mhorgoth
little is known of his past is clouded in darkness, lost in the fled, carrying with him a grimoire containing all his cursed
mists of time, although some snippets of ancient lore make teachings, but he was hunted down and the elves reluctantly
reference to Ophidia. What is known is that Mhorgoth is sentenced him to death.
hated the length and breadth of the world, classed as enemy
to all living beings, be they animal, man, elf or dwarf. As mad As his earthly flesh was consumed in the Eternal Flames,
as he is powerful, Mhorgoth has sworn a pact to see every Mhorgoth unleashed the full extent of dark powers for the
living creature perish. first time. When he was spent, there was no living creature
within a mile of his location. With his flesh burnt beyond
Mhorgoth was once a man and his talent in the sorcerous all recognition, Mhorgoth stumbled from the grove in agony.
arts, even as a child, was far beyond those of any of his Repulsed by his own horrifically burnt countenance, he
kinsmen. It is believed that the northern elves took Mhorgoth crafted himself a mask of iron and hammered it into his still
into their realm when he was but a boy, partly to help guide raw flesh, thus becoming the terrible being known as the
and teach him, but also to keep him under close watch. He Faceless. He retreated from the world for many years, during
was a handsome child, charismatic and full of life, with which time his bitterness and madness slowly consumed him.
golden hair and a happy demeanour. That was all to change,
however. Tragedy followed Mhorgoth like a curse, and as the As the passing decades rolled into centuries, his life now
years rolled by, everything and everyone that he cared for was unnaturally prolonged through dark pacts and his cursed
torn from him. arts, a plan began to formulate in his ravaged, agonised mind.
After two hundred years of self-exile, Morgoth emerged at the
head of the largest undead legion the world had ever seen,
with just one burning aim consuming him; to exterminate the
living, and re-populate the world with the dead.

226
Throughout history, other powerful Necromancers have March of the Dead
Background
threatened to destabilise the world with their insidious and
wicked magic. Prince Glarion, who became G’laron-tza, When a necromancer or vampire does finally gather
The Shadow King, was a terror that despoiled the land for enough power to come out of hiding, the result is always
a hundred years, ruling with an iron fist from his cursed a war of utter desperation. Undead hordes are virtually
Shadowfort. More recently, Mortibris, once a pupil of the unstoppable; though slow, they never need to stop marching.
Order of the Ardent Light in the City of the Golden Horn, Even a vampire can march in daylight by summoning vast
became a master of the dark arts and schemed to locate the stormclouds to blot out the sun, or submitting themselves to a
fabled Tome of Valandor which he believed would grant him coffin to be carried along upon a cart. After each battle, fresh
unrivalled power. In his madness, the agents he unleashed bodies are raised so that an Undead army grows during a
upon the world even attempted to free G’laron-tza from his campaign rather than dwindles.
banishment, plotting to bind him to Mortibris’ will. Even
worse, the Tome revealed to Mortibris the secrets of Valandor The bulk of an Undead force often comprises vast regiments
and the rituals that would release the Wicked One known as of skeleton warriors. Raised from the grave by the darkest
Ba’el, Valandor’s dark half, whom he had imprisoned in an sorcery, they are utterly enslaved to the will of their
inescapable labyrinth to protect the world from Ba’el’s evil. It Necromancer master and will obey their every command
was only due to the heroic actions of a small band of warriors, without question. Their empty eye-sockets filled with baleful
chosen by the Council of Rulers in Basilea, that ultimately witch-fire, they advance relentlessly against whosoever their
prevented a catastrophic war from erupting. Locating the master decrees, marching forward in unstoppable serried
starmetal amulet that contained the last essence of the ranks, bringing inevitable death to all who stand against
Shining One himself, the party released the spirit of Valandor them. Skeleton warriors are notoriously difficult to destroy,
to face Mortibris and Ba’el. After a titanic struggle between and can usually only be stopped by smashing their skulls to
the twins of light and dark, Ba’el was defeated, banished back splinters; if hacked in half, they will merely drag themselves
to his eternal torment, and the essence of Valandor was spent. forward, the need to kill impelling them on. Even when
Of Mortibris himself, no body was ever returned. finally stopped, they may yet prove a threat, for with just one
spell a necromancer is able to re-knit smashed bone and force
While such insane practitioners of death magic and wicked the fallen to rise once again.
sorcery continue to dabble in powers they cannot ultimately
control, the world will never be safe.

227
Background

While skeletons have no vestige of their mortal soul A Curse Unending


remaining, the same cannot be said of the elite revenants.
These skeletal creatures were once heroes and chieftains Time and again, necromancers have risen against the natural
of old, who were entombed in cairns and barrows of stone order and descended upon the lands of mortals. So far,
and earth, still garbed in the armour they wore in life. outside of Ophidia, they have failed to gain a true foothold
Surrounded by their earthly wealth, they were sealed in with over the settled kingdoms of Pannithor, but it is surely only
curses and hexes, ensuring that none disturbed their eternal a matter of time. Mhorgoth plots and schemes to transform
slumber. However, while these ancient spells of warding the entire world into the dominion of the dead, and he
might keep centuries of tomb robbers at bay, they pose little gathers the greatest unloving champions to his side to assist
hindrance to the most powerful necromancers. The very wards in this dark task. At times, his attention is drawn elsewhere
that protected their resting places also cursed them to retain in the world, but a return to sow destruction in and around
some of their spirit. Now trapped in an undying body bound Mantica and the Infant Sea is never far away. Balor, one
to the will of a necromancer, they have become utterly twisted of the Dragon-Kings of old, destroyer of the elven realm of
and spiteful. They are encased in heavy ensorcelled armour of the Moonlit Glades, scours the land upon his undead steed,
bronze and iron, making them nigh on impossible to destroy. the dragon Gharamesh, always ready to kill at Mhorgoth’s
Their weapons radiate a deadly chill, and it is said that those bidding. Worjech the Tainted marches from the frozen north,
felled by these cursed blades are damned for all eternity, their with an army of undead northmen at his back, for what dark
souls forfeit. purpose who can tell? Rumours abound still that one of the
so-called Liche-Kings, long thought a myth, has returned to
As the undead army claims the lives of its enemies, the newly the world, and has set his baleful sights upon his old enemies
slain are reanimated into shambling zombies. These slow, of Basilea.
groaning creatures are perhaps the most fearsome of all, for
they are a reflection of the grisly fate that awaits each foe Through all of these perils, the true battleground lies within
should they fall. Worst of all, zombies are often animated the heart of mortal cities and townships – practitioners of
before the soul has departed to the heavens, and thus the necromancy are everywhere, tempted from the path of light
fallen mortal must watch on from behind dead eyes as they by honeyed whispers of power beyond imagining, and life
are forced to slay – and devour – their former kin. Zombies everlasting. Ultimately, no good can come of necromancy. It
can only be stopped by decapitation, or by destroying the is the burden of all thinking, living things to come to terms
brain, finally offering some release for the unfortunate soul with their mortality, and the existence of necromancy is yet
trapped within the rotting body. another sign of Pannithor’s lack of balance.

Knowing that an undead army cannot be defeated piecemeal,


most mortal generals adapt different tactics against them,
drawing the deathly legion into a single, monumental battle
or siege, with the aim of breaking the army utterly in one
fell swoop. Canny generals often pay master assassins to creep
behind enemy lines to slay the head necromancer, although
this is no mean feat. However, it is often worth the risk:
while undead armies are all but unstoppable in battle, the
necromancer is its lynchpin – destroy them and the entire army
will collapse, like puppets with their strings suddenly cut.

228
Background

229
Army Lists
Army Lists

Basileans

232
Men-at-Arms Paladin Chapters
Basileans
The backbone of Basilean forces, the men-at-arms are the The paladins epitomise the Basileans at peace and at war.
largest, and most highly trained, standing army in Mantica. Holy men, utterly devoted to worship of the Shining Ones,
Comprised of legions numbering in the thousands, they they spend their days in meditation and prayer, aiding the
ensure the Hegemon’s supremacy through strength of arms sick and needy, teaching, or preserving and spreading ancient
and hold back the dark forces of the world with seemingly knowledge. That is until battle calls, when the paladins take
endless faith and determination. up their swords and head to war.

Men-at-arms are well equipped with weapons and armour Since the founding of the first order three hundred years ago
paid for from the Hegemon’s bountiful coffers. Most are by Oredorus the Pure, the Paladins have risen to challenge
armed with the ‘Koliskos’, a broad-bladed spear in use since the men-at-arms legions as the primary military force in
the age of the Republic of Primovantor, and the simple but Basilea. There are now many chapters of Oredorians spread
effective ‘Daga’ sword. These soldiers are heavily armoured, across the Hegemony, each solemn brotherhood ready for war
clad in scale mail and plate and additionally protected by at any time.
large winged shields often embossed with the sun emblem of
Basilea. Paladin foot guard march to war in heavy, ornate plate
armour. Each wields a hefty two-handed sword known as
With such a large military fighting on all fronts, men-at-arms a ‘sparthion’, cleaving foes into pieces with each precise
legions regularly contain seasoned veterans who have fought strike. Some paladins go to war on barded chargers, fighting
some of the worst creatures that Mantica has to offer, from from atop their mounts with shields and long lances. The
the dread chimeras to the disturbing terrors. They are iron- devastating charges of these armoured cavalry have turned the
willed and nigh-on unbreakable in melee, their faith holding tides of many battles.
no matter the odds. Units of these peerless warriors can
often be seen holding the line, inspiring others to stand firm Each paladin chapter is led by a high paladin, who is a
against the foe. warrior, strategist and monk in one. These powerful fighters
can be found on the front lines, launching holy wars or
Although the ever present threat of the Abyss and their coming to the aid of others in their time of need. High
swift-footed creatures means that skill at arms is more prized paladins are masters of warfare, more than capable of fighting
than missile weaponry, such weapons are still found among on foot, or mounted on a barded warhorse. The most powerful
Basilea’s military. The most prominent is the crossbow, of their number ride immense, ferocious dragons – mythical
wielded to deadly effect by skilled marksmen, for in battles creatures bound by the iron will of a high paladin. Such is
against the forces of the Abyss there is rarely time for a the power of Basilea’s faith.
second shot.
After the mighty high paladins, the chaplains are the highest
The other missile weapon seen often in the ranks of the ranking member of a Paladin chapter. They are unwavering
Hegemon’s armies is the Arbalest, a heavy crossbow. Of in their dedication to the Shining Ones and are more
little use in fighting the fell creatures of the Abyss, these blessed because of it. Able to wield magic beyond that of the
warmachines are still common in garrisons as their armour brethren, they are bulwarks against the darkness that would
piercing bolts have proved invaluable in battling King claim the world.
Golloch’s heavily protected Dwarf warriors.
Between the ranked warriors of the paladin foot guard and
the upper echelons of each chapter there are the paladin
defenders. Even among the elite brethren of the paladins, the
defenders are mighty warriors. Each chapter can only boast
a dozen of these peerless fighters, and they take to the field
only in the times of direst need. Should they be deployed in
a conflict that is unjust, then the blessings of the Shining
Ones will swiftly fade from them – leading them to quit the
field before they risk the wrath of the gods. This provides a
useful check to the power of the Hegemon, should they prove
to be bloodthirsty or unstable. The paladins are literally the
favoured of the gods.

233
Army Lists

Sisterhood Convents The sisterhood convents have also been known to ride the
vicious Gur Panthers to war. These deadly feline hunters
There are monasteries of many religious orders all over the can be found roaming the forests of Gur in the province of
countryside of Basilea. Many of these convents, for reasons Tarkis, whose borders are piously guarded by the sisterhood.
known only to themselves, are exclusively female. Staying off There is a strict limit on the number of juvenile cats that can
the beaten track to avoid the iron rule of the Hegemon, these be removed from the forest for taming so that this precious
sisters in arms are pledged to the Shining Ones and thus the resource is never lost.
defence of Basilea as a whole.
Raised and trained by dedicated handlers, a panther will
This remoteness of their existence means that they must grow to be almost as large as a horse. Panthers in training
rely on themselves for their defence, and the sisters spend as are directed to fight on the battlefield in packs, their tamers
much time training their bodies as their souls. The sisterhood letting the animals give in to their hunting instincts. Once
will often lend their defenders to nearby garrisons in times fully trained, these beasts are made even more dangerous
of need. Most of the orders eschew armour for speed and act when mounted by a battle sister. Warrior and panther
as skirmishers, light cavalry, scouts and infiltrators. Their will fight as a deadly pair, either as lancer light cavalry or
preferred weapons are heavy flails and a curved variant of the from swift chariots. Each pairing of human and beast is a
Koliskos known as a glaive. permanent relationship, the sister and panther bound to each
It is rare for members of the sisterhood to remain at war for other, going through training and battle together. Should one
prolonged periods. Most fight out of necessity or duty but die, the other will be unable to find a new partner again.
return to their peaceful existence shortly thereafter. The few While most sisterhood excel as light infantry, it is those
that do fight continuously are elite warriors. They are highly that hail from the mountainous region of Basilea, Tarkis,
prized for their skills and experience within the convents that are most renowned as scouts. Lethal shots with bows,
of the sisterhood and can commonly be found training the these skirmishers are in high demand to fight alongside the
newest acolytes on the front lines. Basilean military. This doesn’t affect the scouts’ deployment –
they go where the Shining Ones will them.

The holy leaders of each convent are known as


abbesses. These individuals are almost always strict and
uncompromising, keeping their charges in order both on and
off the battlefield. Each is obeyed with unquestioning loyalty,
for any who see the abbess fight on the battlefield or in
training can see their unwavering dedication to the Shining
Ones. Setting amongst the enemy with a heavy flail or curved
Koliskos, the abbess brings the light of the gods to
those without faith.

Agents of the Hegemon


In Basilea, faith is given as much
importance as might or military genius,
so it is no coincidence that those who
lead armies on the battlefield are zealous
devotees to the Shining Ones and the
Hegemon. Most of these aren’t members of
military organisations per se but are appointed
as leaders of combined arms forces by those who
wield power in the Basilean capital.

234
The most powerful military organisation that the Hegemon
Basileans
crusade, the priests can invariably be found marching in step
has direct control over is the Palace Guard. Exclusively with the line infantry – whether they are invited to or not.
comprised of ogres wearing heavy plate armour, they are
rarely seen beyond the walls of the palace. When these Many armies are lead by the bombastic Dictators, the voices
towering warriors do fight abroad, it is on direct orders of the Basilean faith. Generals drawn from the ranks of the
from the Hegemon themselves. The Palace Guard are gifted priesthood, sisterhood, paladins or even the lowly men-at-
fighters, but painfully few in number, so their deployment arms, they draw up grand strategies to protect the lands of
must be warranted by dire circumstances. When the need is the Hegemon from harm. As they tend to be older men,
truly great, whole phalanxes of Palace Guard may be led by they might not be the most powerful of warriors, but their
one of their captains – dedicated generals who will see their presence on the field is nevertheless vital to guide the
missions completed, whatever the cost. Basilean legions to victory.

Each prized suit of armour worn by the Palace Guard War wizards have become an increasing common sight on
is painstakingly inscribed with the deeds of its previous the battlefield over the last few decades. For Basileans, magic
occupants. Each warrior who dons the armour is added to is an integral part of all walks of life, including battle. War
this roll of glory upon their death, granting them a measure wizards, masters of fire and weather spells, wreak havoc upon
of immortality in ogre culture. It’s little wonder that so many the foes of Basilea with inferno and lightning. In particular,
ogre youths aspire to join the ranks of the Palace Guard. their magic has been found to be a potent weapon to counter
the denizens of the Abyss, against which it seems to have a
Basilea is filled with holy men and women who have greater effect.
dedicated their lives to spreading the word of the Shining
Ones. These priests who follow the troops on the battlefield Only the bravest and most virtuous amongst the young
are fully able to defend themselves, usually while exalting acolytes are given the honour of carrying into battle one
the virtues of their gods. Should an army launch a great holy of the holy icons of Basilea. These take many forms, from
golden statues of a saintly hero or heroine of history, to the
battle flags of renowned regiments.

Warriors of the Gods


The elohi are the angels of the gods, the mightiest of Basilea’s
warriors, sent from the top of Mount Kolosu to protect the land
the Shining Ones have chosen as their own. They are beautiful
beyond mortal understanding, tall and free of blemish. Wings
sprout from their shoulders, their limbs clad in gleaming
armour of unknown metals. They wield swords and spears
reminiscent of the terrible weapons of the God War.

The ur-elohi are the most powerful of their number, shining


beacons of light and good, flying high in the sky to guide the
armies of Basilea and its allies against all evil. Legends are
told of these beings, like Kurilia, the Phoenix Maiden, who
led the charge against the abyssals at Baraskoi, or Beraphael,
who ended the undead abomination known as the Gorelord
with a single blow from his shining spear. Time and again,
the ur-elohi have torn victory from the jaws of defeat.

The phoenix is the symbol of Basilea: an emblem of rebirth,


holy fire and blazing fury. These semi-magical birds are
summoned by the mages of Basilea to fight with the armies of
the Hegemon. Phoenixes are vast birds of prey, part fire and
part feather; it is unknown exactly how they came into being.
They are the favoured creature of the Shining One Fulgria,
the goddess of fire, and legend states how they were created
from her own sacred flames. They are noble birds who will
serve the pure-hearted alone. They possess the power of
speech and cannot abide the sight of evil.

235
Army Lists

Danor, Wizard of Basilea her followers and did her upmost to battle Prykagia and
protect them from harm. Seeing this weakness, Prykagia
Danor was once a reluctant student of the Basilean magical launched a feint, moving to strike Irdima down. Fotia threw
Order of the Ardent Light. The order – like many others in herself before the blow and was cleaved in half – as Prykagia
Basilea – claimed to have direct connection in their history to had intended.
the legendary mage, Valandor the Great. They only accepted
members whose ancestors fought alongside this figure – like Her victory complete, Prykagia quit the field in a flash of
Danor, who resisted becoming an apprentice for a long time. light – retreating elsewhere to celebrate. Fotia’s followers fled,
Once he did join the order, he was found to be a naturally fearing the worst.
gifted student of the magical arts.
Irdima was left alone on the battlefield, cradling the two parts
It was Danor’s expedition to the ruins of Du’Lan in pursuit of Fotia’s corpse and weeping. Suddenly, by the great power
of the necromancer Mortibris that changed everything. After of her words of love and frantic prayers, a miracle manifested
encountering the still living spirit of Valandor, Danor seemed and the two halves did not die. Instead, one half, representing
to glean some perspective and understanding of the greater the cauterising, vengeful, and warlike nature of fire, became
war between the forces of good and evil, even going so far as the er-elohi Jullius, the Dragon of Heaven. The other half,
to summon Valandor’s spirit to the battlefield when the need representing the nurturing, renewing, and cleansing nature of
was dire. Although he has spoken little of his experiences, it fire, returned as the ur-elohi Samacris, Mother of Phoenixes.
is clear that Danor now walks his own path, guided by some
destiny that others cannot perceive. And so, the Shining One who was Fotia was reborn as the
Phoenix and the Dragon. Weaker now individually, they are
more powerful united, and their story is told as a parable of
Gnaeus Sallustis, Paladin Grand passion and the indestructibility of love, their strength in
Master unity giving rise to sayings such as ‘You can’t cut fire with a
Gnaeus Sallustis is the Grand Master of the order of Basilean sword’, meaning that the two lovers are inseparable.
paladins. His appearance on the battlefield is a bad omen for
the enemies of Basilea, as no army he has led has ever lost
a battle. He rides into battle atop his gigantic Basilean lion,
Nakir, cutting a swathe through the enemy ranks to reach
his ultimate objective: a final confrontation with the enemy
general.

Supremely pious and devout, yet a terrifying warrior and


cunning tactician, Gnaeus epitomises every aspect of what
it means to be a paladin. As a novice, he showed uncanny
talent and piety beyond his years. He was the youngest novice
to ever be sent on an initiation – at the age of 14. He was
immediately sworn as a brother and became a full paladin
when he returned from his initiation quest riding a young
Basilean lion.

Jullius, Dragon of Heaven &


Samacris, Mother of Phoenixes
During the God War, the Celestian Fotia was split in two. The
Shining One, who retained the name Fotia, and the Wicked
One called Prykagia.

The wars between the two aspects were many, but their final
conflict came during the Time of Ice. The pair were duelling
upon the plains of Ardovakia. Prykagia had managed to find
and wield an artefact of magical ice, an anathema to both
her and her counterpart. She intended to end the Shining
One with it. Fotia was supported by her mortal followers,
including her high priestess, Irdima. Fotia cared greatly for

236
Basileans
Army Special Upgrade Alignment: Good
Aegis Fragment
Once per game, when this unit’s Iron Resolve is used, it can regain a maximum of two points of damage previously
suffered, instead of one. The unit’s Aegis Fragment is then destroyed and cannot be used again for the remainder of the
game.

Infantry
Men-at-Arms Swordsmen Ht Men-at-Arms Spearmen Ht
Infantry 2 Infantry 2
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 4+ Troop (10) 1 10 9/11 70 5 4+ Troop (10) 1 12 9/11 80
Ra De Regiment (20) 3 12 13/15 105 Ra De Regiment (20) 3 15 13/15 125
- 4+ Horde (40) 4 25 20/22 175 - 4+ Horde (40) 4 30 20/22 205
Special Rules Special Rules
Iron Resolve Iron Resolve, Phalanx
Options Options
• Upgrade with a Veteran Command, increasing the unit’s rout & • Upgrade with a Veteran Command, increasing the unit’s rout &
waver values by +1 for [+5/+10/+15] pts waver values by +1 for [+5/+10/+15] pts
Keywords: Human, Men-at-Arms Keywords: Human, Men-at-Arms

Paladin Foot Guard Ht Sisterhood Infantry Ht


Infantry 2 Infantry 2
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 3+ Troop (10) 1 10 11/13 100 5 4+ Troop (10) 1 12 10/12 95
Ra De Regiment (20) 3 12 15/17 150 Ra De Regiment (20) 3 15 14/16 145
- 5+ - 3+ Horde (40) 4 30 21/23 240
Special Rules Special Rules
Headstrong, Iron Resolve Crushing Strength (1), Iron Resolve, Vicious (Melee), Wild Charge (D3)
Options Keywords: Human, Sisterhood
• Upgrade to Paladin Defenders [1] (Regiment only) - Gain Aura
(Elite (Melee) - Paladin Infantry only) for +15 pts
• Exchange shields for two-handed weapons, lowering Defence to
4+ and gaining Crushing Strength (1) for free
• Aegis Fragment for +5 pts
Keywords: Human, Paladin

237
Army Lists

Ranged Infantry
Men-at-Arms Crossbowmen Ht Sisterhood Scouts* Ht
Infantry 2 Infantry 2
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 5+ Troop (10) 1 8 9/11 100 5 4+ Troop (10) 1 8 10/12 120
Ra De Regiment (20) 2 10 13/15 130 Ra De Regiment (20) 2 10 14/16 160
5+ 4+ Horde (40) 3 20 20/22 230 4+ 3+
Special Rules Special Rules
Iron Resolve Iron Resolve, Scout
Crossbows: 24”, Piercing (1), Pot Shot Bows: 24”, Steady Aim, Vicious (Ranged)
Keywords: Human, Men-at-Arms Keywords: Human, Sisterhood, Tracker

Cavalry Chariots
Gur Panthers* Ht Sisterhood Panther Chariot* Ht
Cavalry 2 Chariot 3
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
10 4+ Troop (5) 1 6 9/11 85 8 4+ Troop (2) 1 10 12/14 145
Ra De Regiment (10) 3 12 12/14 130 Ra De Regiment (3) 2 15 14/16 180
- 3+ - 4+ Horde (4) 3 20 16/18 225
Special Rules Legion (6) 4 25 19/21 260
Nimble, Pathfinder, Vicious (Melee)
Special Rules
Keywords: Beast
Iron Resolve, Thunderous Charge (2), Vicious (Melee)
Keywords: Human, Sisterhood

Paladin Knights Ht
Cavalry 3
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
8 3+ Troop (5) 1 8 12/14 135
Ra De Regiment (10) 3 16 15/17 210
- 5+ Horde (20) 4 32 22/24 355
Special Rules
Headstrong, Iron Resolve, Thunderous Charge (2)
Options
• Aegis Fragment for +5 pts
Keywords: Human, Paladin

Sisterhood Panther Lancers Ht


Cavalry 3
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
10 4+ Troop (5) 1 8 11/13 115
Ra De Regiment (10) 3 16 14/16 175
- 3+
Special Rules
Iron Resolve, Nimble, Thunderous Charge (1), Vicious (Melee)
Keywords: Human, Sisterhood

238
Basileans
Large Infantry
Ogre Palace Guard Ht Elohi* Ht
Large Infantry 3 Large Infantry 3
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
6 3+ Regiment (3) 2 9 12/14 140 10 3+ Regiment (3) 2 9 -/14 160
Ra De Horde (6) 3 18 15/17 235 Ra De Horde (6) 3 18 -/17 270
- 5+ - 5+
Special Rules Special Rules
Brutal, Crushing Strength (2), Iron Resolve Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Inspiring, Iron Resolve
Keywords: Ogre Keywords: Angelic

War Engines Titans


Heavy Arbalest Ht Phoenix Ht
War Engine 2 Titan, Spellcaster: 0 6
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 - 1 0 2 10/12 85 10 3+ 1 1 5 14/16 195
Ra De Ra De
4+ 4+ - 3+
Special Rules Special Rules
Iron Resolve Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Nimble, Radiance of Life, Regeneration (4+)
Heavy Arbalest: 48”, Blast (D3), Piercing (2), Reload Spells
Keywords: Human, Men-at-Arms Fireball (10), Heal (5)
Keywords: Angelic, Flamebound, Majestic

Heroes
Bearer of the Holy Icon Ht Dictator Ht
Hero (Inf) 2 Hero (Inf) 2
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 5+ 1 0 1 10/12 50 5 3+ 1 0 4 12/14 90
Ra De Ra De
- 4+ - 5+
Special Rules Special Rules
Individual, Inspiring, Iron Resolve Crushing Strength (2), Duelist, Individual, Inspiring, Iron Resolve,
Options Mighty
• Mount on a Horse, increasing Speed to 8 and changing to Hero Keywords: Human
(Cav - Height: 3) for +25 pts
Keywords: Human
Ur-Elohi Ht
Hero (Lrg Inf) 3
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
10 3+ 1 1 6 -/15 200
Ra De
- 5+
Special Rules
Crushing Strength (2), Dread, Fly, Inspiring, Iron Resolve, Nimble
Keywords: Angelic

239
Army Lists

Paladin Chaplain Ht Priest Ht


Hero (Inf), Spellcaster: 1 2 Hero (Inf), Spellcaster: 1 2
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 3+ 1 0 3 11/13 55 5 4+ 1 0 1 11/13 75
Ra De Ra De
- 5+ - 4+
Special Rules Special Rules
Crushing Strength (1), Headstrong, Individual, Iron Resolve Crushing Strength (1), Individual, Inspiring, Iron Resolve
Options Spells
• Mount on a Horse, increasing Speed to 8 and changing to Hero Heal (3)
(Cav - Height: 3) for +25 pts Options
• Heal (2) for +10 pts • Mount on a Horse, increasing Speed to 8 and changing to Hero
• Aegis Fragment for +5 pts (Cav - Height: 3) for +25 pts
Cleanse: If one or more hits are scored by this unit’s Heal spell, • Bane Chant (2) for +20 pts
the target unit is no longer Weakened or Hexed. • Bastion (1) [1] for +10 pts
Keywords: Human, Paladin • Martyr’s Prayer (7) [1] for +35 pts
Cleanse: If one or more hits are scored by this unit’s Heal spell,
the target unit is no longer Weakened or Hexed.
Keywords: Human
High Paladin Ht
Hero (Inf), Spellcaster: 0 2
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 3+ 1 0 5 13/15 95 Abbess on Panther Chariot Ht
Ra De Hero (Cht) 3
- 5+ Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
Special Rules 8 3+ 1 1 6 14/16 145
Crushing Strength (1), Headstrong, Individual, Inspiring, Iron Ra De
Resolve, Mighty - 4+
Options
• Mount on a Horse, increasing Speed to 8 and changing to Hero Special Rules
(Cav - Height: 3) for +35 pts Crushing Strength (1), Inspiring (Sisterhood only), Iron Resolve,
• Heal (2) for +10 pts Nimble, Thunderous Charge (1), Vicious (Melee)
• Aegis Fragment for +5 pts Keywords: Human, Sisterhood
Keywords: Human, Paladin

Abbess Ht War Wizard Ht


Hero (Inf) 2 Hero (Inf), Spellcaster: 2 2
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 3+ 1 0 6 12/14 90 5 5+ 1 0 1 10/12 75
Ra De Ra De
- 4+ - 4+
Special Rules Special Rules
Crushing Strength (1), Iron Resolve, Iron Resolve, Inspiring Individual, Iron Resolve
(Sisterhood only), Vicious (Melee), Wild Charge (D3) Spells
Options Fireball (10)
• Mount on a Gur Panther, losing Wild Charge (D3) but Options
increasing Speed to 10 and changing to Hero (Cav – Height: 3) • Mount on a Horse, increasing Speed to 8 and changing to Hero
for +30 pts (Cav – Height: 3) for +25 pts
Keywords: Human, Sisterhood • Bane Chant (2) for +20 pts
• Lightning Bolt (4) for +30 pts, or free if it replaces Fireball
• Wind Blast (6) for +25 pts
Keywords: Human

240
Basileans
Ogre Palace Guard Captain Ht High Paladin on Dragon Ht
Hero (Lrg Inf) 3 Hero (Ttn), Spellcaster: 0 6
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
6 3+ 1 1 5 13/15 115 10 3+ 1 1 10 -/19 310
Ra De Ra De
- 5+ 4+ 5+
Special Rules Special Rules
Brutal, Crushing Strength (2), Inspiring (Ogre only), Iron Resolve, Crushing Strength (3), Fly, Inspiring, Iron Resolve, Nimble
Nimble Dragon’s Breath: 12”, Steady Aim
Keywords: Ogre Options
• Heal (4) for +15 pts
• Aegis Fragment for +5 pts
Keywords: Draconic, Human, Paladin

Unique Units
Gnaeus Sallustis [1] Ht Samacris, Mother of Phoenixes [1] Ht
Hero (Lrg Cav), Spellcaster: 1 4 Hero (Lrg Inf), Spellcaster: 2 3
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
9 3+ 1 1 7 15/17 180 10 3+ 1 1 3 -/15 195
Ra De Ra De
- 5+ - 5+
Special Rules Special Rules
Crushing Strength (2), Headstrong, Inspiring, Iron Resolve, Crushing Strength (1), Fly, Inspiring, Iron Resolve, Nimble,
Nimble Radiance of Life, Regeneration (5+)
Options Spells
• Heal (4) for +20 pts Fireball (8), Heal (5)
Keywords: Beast, Human, Paladin Purging Flame: This unit’s Fireball spell is resolved with Piercing (1).
Keywords: Angelic, Flamebound

Danor the Wizard [1] Ht Jullius, Dragon of Heaven [1] Ht


Hero (Inf), Spellcaster: 1 2 Hero (Lrg Inf), Spellcaster: 0 3
Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts Sp Me Unit Size US Att Ne Pts
5 5+ 1 0 1 10/12 105 10 3+ 1 1 8 -/16 315
Ra De Ra De
- 4+ - 6+
Special Rules Special Rules
Individual, Iron Resolve Crushing Strength (3), Dread, Elite (Melee), Fly, Iron Resolve,
Spells Nimble, Very Inspiring
Bane Chant (2), Fireball (4), Heal (2), Lightning Bolt (2), Wind Spells
Blast (3) Fireball (8)
Staff of Silibar: After using a spell, Danor may immediately use Keywords: Angelic
another different spell he possesses on his basic profile (not an
upgrade), against the same or a different target. He may continue
to do this until he has used each of his spells once in any of his
Ranged phases.
Keywords: Human

241
Army Lists

Basilean Gallery

Men-at-Arms with Crossbows Men-at-Arms with Swords and Shields Men-at-Arms with Spears and Shields

Sisterhood Scouts
Paladin Defenders
Men-at-Arms Veterans

Heavy Arbalest

Ogre Palace Gurad

Phoenix
Elohi
242
Basileans

Paladin Knights Panther Lancers

War Wizard Abbess Dictator Priest Danor the Wizard

243
Army Lists

Dwarfs

244
Oathsworn Warriors Black Powder Weaponry
Dwarfs
Each dwarf hold supports its own military, with many Without the reliance on magic that the elves possess, the
residents possessing skills at arms. In times of war, these dwarfs were the first race in Pannithor to develop black
warriors are mustered into regiments with their close kin, powder weaponry. From its early, dangerous firearms, the
creating a well-drilled and powerful fighting force on the development of these weapons has come far in the passing
battlefield. Once their honour has been satisfied and victory centuries. Modern dwarf firearms feature rifle barrels, shaped
achieved, many will go back to their peaceful lives, with few charges and a dozen other enhancements that make them the
dwarfs remaining as a standing military between conflicts. most accurate and reliable weapons on the battlefield.

In the new age of King Golloch, things have changed. He The oldest dwarf warriors are often assembled into the ranks
demands tithes from the holds under his rule to support his of the Ironwatch. Most dwarfs lose none of their wits or
own vast army. This fighting force protects Abercarr, never keenness of sight with venerable age and thus they take to
at rest or disbanding. Golloch’s expansionist ideals have seen battle armed with crossbows or black powder rifles so they
the dwarfs fight more and more conflicts with each passing may fight from a more sedentary position.
year, with many young Ironclads having never known peace
in their lifetimes. Unlike the Ironwatch, dwarf Sharpshooters are recruited
from among the hardiest apprentices from the warsmiths’
Regardless of whether they belong to a clan hold, or Golloch’s guild-temples. Bringing the latest long-ranged black powder
Imperial army, the dwarf forces follow the same regimented weapons to war, their units are one part deadly sniper troop
structure as they have for centuries. Dwarfs are not known and one part experimental field-testers!
for their flexibility, so each warrior’s role on the battlefield is
firmly set in stone. The warsmiths’ guild is responsible for many of the dwarfs’
more advanced weapons of war. The Ironbelcher, for example,
The Ironclad fighting technique epitomises the dwarvern way has seen continuous use for many centuries. The simplicity,
of war. They lure their opponent into attacking first, trusting durability and destructive power of the design has made it an
their rugged physique and thick armour to protect them. enduring weapon of war. Most commonly found are the heavy
Then, once the foe has come within reach, the Dwarfs will bore cannons, capable of killing dozens of warriors with each
respond in unhurried, deadly manner. shot.

The strongest Ironclads go to war equipped with heavy,


two-handed hammers, whose weight alone is enough to
break bones and splinter shields with equal ease, earning
the Shieldbreakers their name. Shieldbreakers are aggressive
fighters, with little to no thought of self-defence. Often
encountered on the front lines of an army, these belligerent
warriors can also be found joining an advance party to clash
with the enemy all the faster.

Unlike the Shieldbreakers, Bulwarkers are stoic, their


battlefield role requiring stubbornness and grit. Armed with
long spears and thick armour, a Bulwarkers regiment will
manoeuvre themselves into the path of a cavalry charge
before bracing behind heavy shields to receive it. The enemy
cavalry meets a wall of dwarf steel and sharp spears, usually
coming to a sudden and messy end.

245
Army Lists

Close range battles have favoured the Organ Gun, named Secrets of Steel
for its similarity to dwarvern musical instruments, a five-
barrelled light cannon that discharges its payload in a tight Keepers of the ancient Secrets of Steel, warsmiths are master
spread to deal with tightly packed enemy formations. craftsmen whose guild-temples furnish the dwarf armies
with destructive war engines and the finest weapons and
The Flamebelcher fires gouts of flammable liquid over the armour. Their knowledge of mechanical devices and black
dwarfs’ foes, consigning them to a horrible death. Despite its powder weapons is without peer and thus they have a strong
short range, it is the ultimate area-denial weapon, partially influence over dwarf lords.
due to its fell reputation This war engine has seen particular
success in the dwarfs’ many underground battles, holding The warsmiths are pledged to Fulgria, the Shining One of
narrow tunnels and mine entrances against goblins, ratkin white fire. Through worship and study, the dwarfs are able to
and other foes. bend metal to their will and forge artefacts of stunning power
and beauty. Some dwarfs go even further in their veneration,
As a relatively recent addition to the dwarfs’ arsenal, the bringing weapons to the battlefield that unleash the cleansing
Jarrun Bombard is still controversial, with some holds fire of their patron upon their foes. These Flame Priests walk
refusing to field the weapon out of principle. Created by Free a dangerous path, for the destructive power of fire has led
Dwarf warsmith Jarrun Iremonger, this revolutionary weapon many dwarfs to the path of damnation.
has been highly successful when deployed. It can be fired
directly into the enemy ranks like a cannon, or indirectly like
a mortar – bypassing fortifications to hit vulnerable troops
beyond. While most dwarf lords will reluctantly admit to the
weapon’s usefulness, it is its origins from among the Free
Dwarfs that causes concern. The concept that the Free Dwarfs
could create something that surpasses the war machines
created by Imperial warsmiths is something that no one
would openly admit to, but the concern of those within the
Imperial army is clear. Nevertheless, as long as the Bombard
sees continued success on the battlefield, it will find a place
among the armies of the dwarfs.

Berserkers
Some dwarfs fall under the influence of the ‘red curse’, a
violent rage that, in battle, transforms them into frenzied
lunatics. These individuals group together in small warbands,
or rarely into whole clans, and march to whatever battles they
can find. Fighting with wild abandon and seemingly feeling With mechanical and forging abilities far beyond that of
no pain, these Berserkers do not stop fighting until they are most other races, these dwarfs have been able to create
killed outright. devices and weapons to aid their brethren both on and off the
battlefield. The mining guilds, in particular, have benefitted
Only a Berserker would be mad enough to trap and tame the from ingenious tunnelling devices created by the warsmiths.
vicious Brocks that inhabit the dwarfs’ realm. Securing such The unsubtle ‘Battle Drillers’ will bring these devices with
a steed is deemed a sign of courage and honour within the them to battle, charging them into the enemy ranks with
berserker clans. spectacularly unpredictable results.
Few berserkers live long enough to amass wealth and status, The most revolutionary weapon to be created by the
or even a hold of their own, but those who do master the red warsmiths is the Steel Behemoth. Resembling a giant
curse are mighty warriors indeed. Usually carrying a pair mechanical beast, these innovative fighting vehicles are
of magical axes as a symbol of their power, they are nigh- powered by the black blood of the earth. Protected by thick
unstoppable killing machines in battle. metal plates and equipped with flame-spitting weaponry, they
are a nightmare made manifest for the dwarfs’ enemies.

246
Warriors of the Wilds Lords of the Hold
Dwarfs
Although technologically advanced, some dwarfs share a deep Each dwarf hold is ruled by a lord. These noble rulers come
kinship with nature. These individuals can often be found from ancient lineages and inspire utter devotion in their
wandering the surface around the dwarvern holds, exploring people. With a lifetime of warmongering behind them, and
the forests and foothills of their home and learning much bearing magical, rune-encrusted weapons and armour, they
about the world around them. Inevitably, many of these are mighty warriors on the battlefield. Some lords will fight
wayward dwarfs band together and become Rangers. from atop mounts, such as unnaturally large burrowing
creatures or bears. But most prefer to fight in what they
Rangers are often young, vigorous dwarfs, curious about the consider the true dwarven way – with both feet planted firmly
world outside the holds. Though greeted with suspicion by on the ground. Although each lord’s rule over their hold is
older, more traditional dwarfs, Rangers become expert scouts, absolute, only Golloch is king of all dwarfs.
explorers and pathfinders, specialising in ambush warfare and
flank marches. When a dwarf lord goes to war, he does so surrounded by his
personal guard and military advisors. Most of his retinue are
Those who feel an affinity with animals take on the duty of Ironguard – hand-picked veterans and sworn protectors of the
raising livestock for the hold. While most of the beasts are dwarf lords. Chosen from the toughest and most experienced
used for food, clothing or as beasts of burden, the dwarvern fighters, they form defensive shield walls upon which even
mastiffs are bred for war. Younger dwarfs often mock the strongest enemies expend their strength harmlessly.
Packmasters for work they consider to be beneath a warrior.
Such mockery lasts only until the Packmaster sets his charges
loose – a pack of purebred wardogs with sharp teeth and a
taste for ankles.

Strength of Stone
Within the dwarf holds, Stone Priests are outsiders, for
their innate mastery of magic is treated with suspicion by all
right-thinking dwarfs. In battle, however, they are capable
of summoning and controlling powerful Earth Elementals to
smash apart the dwarfs’ foes.

Summoned to war by the mysterious Stone Priests, these


supernatural creatures are formed of the very earth and rock
of the dwarf holds – the living embodiment of the mountains
come to protect their people. In times of great need, a Stone
Priest may risk his own life to summon an immense Greater
Earth Elemental. The rites to raise such a creature are
dangerous, putting a heavy burden upon the summoner, but
the destructive power and impenetrable forms of these beings
can turn the tide of a battle in seconds.

247
Army Lists

It is the greatest, most solemn honour to carry one of the After Rordin’s successful expedition to the ruins of the
dwarfs’ revered banners to battle, and only the most loyal dwarven capital of Dolgarth, which ousted the necromancer
retainers of the dwarf nobles are entrusted with this duty. Mortibris and his undead minions, Golloch has tasked the
These banners and icons are older than any living dwarf and young noble with the reclamation of the ancient hold. Repairs
are often inscribed with the feats and heroes of one of the are being made, troops are marching to garrison the ancient
noble houses. city and the Basileans watch with concern as the Dwarfs re-
establish a foothold worryingly close to their territory. Rordin
The Steel Juggernaut, a mechanical suit of armour, is slowly himself has been named as the High Guardian of the West –
becoming more common among wealthy dwarf lords. Based Golloch’s pawn and shield against the Hegemony of Basilea.
on Knorri Ironheart’s personal battle armour, it has divided
opinion amongst the clan lords. Some have placed orders for
their own personalised versions or have their own engineers Golloch’s Fury
scrambling to copy the design. Others see it as an affront to In order to keep up with their king’s demands, warsmiths have
warfare and the armour of a coward. been designing, producing and testing new engines of war at
a far faster rate than any period in dwarf history. The Steel
Behemoth known as Golloch’s Fury is one such creation.
Rordin, High Guardian of the West
Rordin lived amongst the humans of the City of the Golden Although it is based on the same chassis as existing Steel
Horn for so long that he has – somewhat to the annoyance of Behemoths, it has been fitted with a gun commissioned
his king – picked up many of their customs and manners. As by the king himself. This weapon spits a hail of shots at
the nephew of Golloch himself, Rordin was always somewhat a terrifying rate, relying on motorised cranks and loaders
of a black sheep within the noble family, and some mutter to maintain its weight of fire. This experimental weapon
that his diplomatic posting to the Basilean capital was more is longer ranged and harder hitting than the Behemoth’s
of an exile so that he could not cause further shame to the normal weapons, but it wears out by the battle’s end, the
family. gun’s warped and tortured barrels needing immediate
replacement.
Where most dwarfs are dour and insular individuals, Rordin
is positively cheerful and fond of socialising (so long as there The name of this prototype is no coincidence. When enemy
is strong ale involved). For all his faults, he is a fearsome ranks fall before the might of this war machine, it sends a
and capable warrior, and as much as Golloch despairs of his very clear message to both the dwarfs fighting alongside and
foolish ways, he respects his abilities. the foes that face it: Golloch is watching. The deployment