- "I looked up into the sky and there I saw my doom, lithesome yet dread. What creatures were these? How many tortures would I endure before peace was mine? A thousand wretched forms united only by a hatred that never ends. Malign and savage to the last, they brim with bitterness for the works of Man."
- —Bestiarie Malificent[1m]
The Beastmen, sometimes known as the Cloven Ones,[1a] the Horned Ones, the Beast of Chaos or even the Children of Chaos[4a] are a race of savage mutant humanoids that bear various traits of bestial appearance, such as cloven hooves, muscular human bodies, horned bestial heads and a malign primitive intelligence.[4b] Proud of their origins, it is said that they are the descendants of ancient humans corrupted and twisted by the influence of Chaos at the dawn of Chaos's coming into the world.[4a]
From deep within the twisted forested woodlands of the Old World and beyond,[2c] the Beastmen are a violent, war-driven race that seeks only to plague and destroy the civilisations of Mankind. They prey on the weak and defenseless, striking at lonely settlements without warning in a rampage of destruction before disappearing into the protective darkness of their dark wilderness, running away from the dire retribution that fails to follow.
To the citizens of the Empire, Bretonnia and the other nations of the Old World, the Beastmen have come to represent creatures from a half-remembered age of nightmare. Men deceive themselves that the danger has passed; that they are safe in their walled towns, that their steel and gunpowder, wizards' arts and engineers' creations will hold at bay the lowly beast-things that haunt the woodlands. Men tell themselves that the creatures of the forest are disorganised and incapable of fielding armies that can threaten their crenellated, high-walled cities.[1b]
They are quite wrong. To underestimate the Beastmen is a fatal mistake. The Cloven Ones are creatures of violence and conflict, and they are far more cunning than the Empire believes. Worse still, the more noble and haughty the foe, the more the Beastmen are driven to prove their own supremacy by casting him down from his lofty pedestal and trampling his body beneath blood-encrusted, filthy hooves.[1b] As such, these unruly, course and foul creatures would go to war with savage intent, slaughtering the civilised races like cattle, burning down and shattering their homes, and stomping on the remains with their cloven hooves until there is nothing left but devastation and ruin. It is said that so long as Chaos reigns over this world, the Beastmen shall plague the lands of Mankind for all eternity.
The origins of the Beastmen is tied closely with the origins of Mankind itself. Indeed, long before the collapse of the Northern and Southern poles, there was no such thing as a Beastmen living within the world of that ancient age. By this time, Mankind was still a fledgling and unknown race, still confined to lands far from the reaches of the ancient civilisations of the Dwarfs and Elves. The Old Ones, ancient beings of incredible power had watched like a guardian upon this fledgling world, staving off the undesirable races and seeding the world with the first true forms of life. However, a catastrophic event had occurred in an unknown point in time that has since cursed the World to its inevitable damnation.[1a]
The Origins of Chaos
A great calamity befell. Something glorious, wonderful, and powerful died, and when it did, the Great Polar Warp Gates, once a marvel of technology, had collapsed, and with it, the raw stuff of Chaos flowed like a river upon the harsh lifeless lands of the northern and southern waste. Boiling out from the wound within reality itself were the Daemons and their warping powers of magic. The effects of the gate’s destruction created all manner of abominations, and from these abominations came the first Incursion of Chaos and the first of the Beastmen.[1a]
As the fabric of reality was torn asunder, from the skies came pulsing comets of wyrdling stone, contrails of unlight flaring in their wake as they plummeted toward the untamed forests. The lands were pounded and punished as if by the fists of the gods themselves. Huge chunks of solidified Chaos energy, thrown from the collapsing dimensional gates, set aflame the skies. They crashed into the world like meteors, felling endless tracts of forest and burying themselves inside massive craters of scorched earth.[1a]
With each impact, the land was infected further by the raw stuff of Chaos. Its insidious taint worked outward into the fertile soil, suckled upon by the roots of ancient trees and seeping into the air breathed by the nomads and the beasts that populated the lands. As Chaos infected the lands like a malign cancer, the ancient forest of the world began to stir, writhing with corrupted energies. The primitives of the land and the beast of the forest had merged into beings of both man and beast. In time, the offspring of these creatures spread throughout the wilderness of the world, gathering in the dark places before unleashing their wars upon humanity.[1a]
The Rise of Mankind
For thousands of years the Beastmen and their nightbred kin ruled the forests, preying upon the scattered bands of men as wolves upon sheep. Then a man came bearing a golden hammer that was the bane of all enemies, and united the human tribes, challenging the Beastmen for dominance of the lands. This warrior elevated Mankind from a collection of loosely organised tribesmen into the massive empire it is today.[1a]
The time before the rise of Mankind is regarded by the Beastmen both as a part-remembered dream and as a legend. The Beastmen's rituals are full of references to a time when they ruled the lands unchallenged, and a time when they shall rule again. To the Cloven Ones, the War of the Hammer heralded an age of bitterness and strife in which Mankind rose to undeserved and stolen power, with the God-King Sigmar unifying the human tribes into what would soon become the Empire of Man.[1a]
With their power forever broken, the Beastmen of today hate Mankind with a deep loathing born of uncounted centuries of battle and righteous persecution. They seek a return to that primeval age when Man was little more than prey to be hunted and devoured, where the Beastmen were considered the true masters of the world.[1b]
For Mankind's part, the Beastmen soon became creatures of horror and superstition, embodying and confirming their deepest fears of what might lurk in the forests of the Old World. It is said in the legends of Bretonnia that the Beastmen looked out from under the forest eaves, spying upon Man and in so doing knew their own impurity, while some scholars of the Empire hold that the beasts are jealous and resentful of Man's ingenuity and cleanness of limb. Whatever the case, all men know that the Beastmen harbour a bitter hatred for humanity. This enmity goes far beyond jealousy or spite. It is not just Man that the Beastmen despise so, but his civilisation, his works and his gods.[1b]
They are a bitter, savage race that have become so blinded by their bloodlust that they are disillusioned by the hardship and suffering of their very own existence. They are so filled with such unjustified hatred that they see Humanity as the cause for their suffering, for Mankind to the Beastmen is simply a reminder of a life that these creature would never have a chance of living.[1b]
- "When the world was very young, a group of nomads drifted north into the icy steppes where they tamed wild dogs to help herd wild boar, long-horned cattle, and goats, which they raised for food and clothing. When the Gate of Heaven collapsed, Chaos was released into our world, saturating the people of the north. The loosed energy of Chaos melded these poor simple folk with their herds and other animals, warping them into the Beastmen we recognise today."
- —Dwarf Myth[2a]
In their most primal core, the Beastmen are indeed a fusion of Man and Beast, a transformation that came about when the Gates of Heaven collapsed, and the influence of Chaos smothered the world in its grip.[1a] The term "Beastmen", is often used to describe a whole spectrum of different animal-like beings of varying appearance and distinction. To an extent, a Beastmen is also classified as a Mutant. Unfortunately, no scholar can truly say with certainty where a Mutant ends and a Beastman begins. There is no absolute dividing line between Human and Mutant, or between Mutant and Beastman, or between Beastman and Daemon; rather, there is simply a spectrum of taint.[3a]
Nevertheless, all Beastmen are seen to be spiteful and mean spirited creatures that revel in bloodshed and chaos and loathe order and the very concept of civilisation in all its forms. Beastmen are not believed to be creatures of nature for there is nothing natural about their existence. The Herdstones and rituals of the Beastmen corrupt the very essence of nature itself: it is for this reason Beastmen are especially loathed by the Wood Elves of Athel Loren, with whom the Beastmen have been fighting a gruelling secret war for centuries.
- "Under the pallid moon his skull cracked and his eyes rolled. Hair sprouted and jaw gnashed, legs swelled, snapping and grinding and gristle-cracking loud enough to wake a corpse. New joints and muscles buckled and stung, blood-slick horns forced from black-thatched crown, toes gammed and hardened into flesh-ridged hooves. A long braying laugh tore its way from Heinrich's wattled throat as his hairy face lengthened into a biting maw, thick with teeth to grind and pieces."
- —The Transformation of Heinrich Oncemann[1l]
A typical Beastmen generally has a certain appearance that is consistent with most other Beastmen breeds. Most Beastmen are known for having the head and legs of various animals, the most common are usually the heads of cattle or goats, though some have been seen with traits of other animals as well. Their overall body, however, is noticeably Humanoid, with the chest and arms resembling that of a Man. They are capable of walking in an upright posture, but some have been known to walk on all fours. Their matted hair is encrusted with blood and dung, a haven for fat ticks and colonies of fleas that keep the Beastmen in a constant state of agitation. Due to their harsh living, a Beastmen is also naturally strong and well muscled.
The robust constitution of the Cloven Ones allows them to live upon the most meagre or unpleasant of diets. They prefer great chunks of meat above all but, unlike their larger Minotaur brethren, they do not care if it is infested and maggot-ridden. Beastmen are also very well-known cannibals who gorge themselves upon the corpses of their own kind without hesitation; entrails, hair, horns, hooves and all, and believe that to do so is to inherit the strength of the victim. This diet of dead meat is supplemented with grubs, hairy-legged spiders, poisonous centipedes, plump blowflies, and other unsavoury foodstuff, as well as the occasional lost child or lone woodsman. Human flesh is a highly sought after delicacy to the Beastmen, and rivals have been known to fight to the death over a single human arm or leg.[1d]
As a product of Chaos mutation, Beastmen are typically born in one of three ways. The first way is generally by simple reproduction between a male Beastmen and the more docile and least numerous female variants. The second way is generally the most well known. In this case, a child of two Human parents might be born with obvious signs of mutation. Unable to cure their child, the parents are forced by law to give up their child to a local Priest or Witch Hunter to be properly extinguished before the child grows to become a Beastmen proper. However, most parents are incapable of doing such a thing, and so to both expunge the child from their lives as well as the parents sin, they would leave the child alone in the forest to die by the elements.
By doing so, the parents consider themselves clean from their actions, and allow the Gods to do what they wish with the child. However, such events almost never kills the child, for within hours of being left in this lonely state, the crying of the child will signal other Beastmen to its location. By then, the Beastmen would take the child as their own, and in doing so, swell the numbers of the tribes ever further.
The third way is when a Human is transformed into a Beastmen at some point later in their life. Such a situation is a painful process which results in the Human gaining many bestial traits. Neither fully Human or fully Beastmen, these creatures, known as Turnskins, are never truly accepted to either Human or Beastmen societies.
All Beastmen are surly and mean-spirited, for they know they are destined to live a short, brutal life of squalor, suffering and pain. When their blood is up and foul-smelling breath snorts from their gorestained snouts, the Beastmen become belligerent and bellicose in the extreme, every gesture or glance brimming with hostility. The atavistic fury that each Beastman harbours within his soul is always but a moment away from the surface, and it is this rage that gives the Beastmen much of their unholy strength on the field of battle. Bitterness and spite simmers in the heart of every Beastman; it takes little more than a few well-chosen words to spur a Gor into a frenzy of unrestrained rage.[1c]
The sounds of distant battle will cause a Beastman to prick up his tufted ears in an instant; a fight or duel upon a woodland path will invariably bring dozens of Beastmen from all about in a very short space of time. Above all, though, it is the trappings of progress and civilisation that fan the embers of hatred burning within each Beastman's breast. A mere glimpse of bright colours, especially the colour red, will often be enough to get a Beastman's pulse racing with bloodlust. The sight of a proud flag or coat of arms, a pristine uniform or a magnificent statue elicits a powerful reaction in the Beastmen, for the things of order are anathema to the Children of Chaos. All caution is put aside in a desperate attempt to tear down and befoul the offending article, to stomp it into the mud, smear it with dung or rip it to pieces and chew on the remains.[1d]
- Gors - Gors are the most common type, distinguished by the fact they possess horns. Gors are a broad class comprising more specific types. Below the Gors are the lowly breeds which look to them for leadership.[2d]
- Ungors - Ungors are much more variable in appearance. They possess some form of horns, but the Ungors themselves are not recognisable as either Caprigors or Bovigors. The most favoured Ungors might possess a spectacular array of horns, or a single, fine horn, but most have only small or misshapen versions, which other Beastmen find contemptible. They also bear the most humanoid appearance.[2f]
- Brays - Brays are a lowly breed of Beastmen. Their name refers to the braying cacophony they make when they feast or fight together. Brays can appear in any form, and are mainly distinguished by the fact they lack any kind of horns.[2f]
- Turnskins - Turnskins are humans who at a later stage of life began to develop into a Beastmen. Ostracised and despised by their former peers, they have no escape other than to flee human society. Many of them become renegades and some manage to join a beastmen tribe who will accept them as slaves.[2f]
- Gaves - Gaves are Beastmen born to normal human parents. Some parents attempt to hide their child's deformities while others will kill it, but many mutant babies are abandoned near a forest, or set afloat in a river on a raft of reeds, to die of hunger and exposure. These creatures rarely die however, as the ears of Beastmen are always alert to the cries of their own kind. These foundlings are adopted and raised by Beastmen, who consider such a child a gift of their own fell gods. Whether the child becomes a Gor, Ungor or Bray, they are held in higher esteem due to the purity of their birth.[2g]
- Bray-Shamans - are the intermediaries between the tribe and the Gods. The majority are not powerful enough to challenge the tribal leader, but some ambitious ones are more than willing and able to fulfil both positions. Shamans are marked apart from other Beastmen by their heterochromic eyes, with one eye typically being a different color then the other. The specific colours are believed to signify the favour in which the Shaman is held by a particular Power. A Shaman might repeat the colours of his eyes in his robes, so that he might display the favoured colours of the Chaos Gods.[2g]
- Beastwomen - Beastwomen are female and, compared to the beastmen, are shy and gentle.
- Minotaurs - Minotaurs are massive beastmen with the head and hindquarters of a bull. Standing nearly ten feet tall, Minotaurs are a class of Beastmen unto themselves, but are nonetheless often seen amongst their numbers.[2h]
- "In many respects, the society and hierarchy of Beastmen are almost as sophisticated as those of Humans. Its structure is rigid, so that every member of a tribe knows his or her place, is completely aware of which other Beastfolk are higher and which are lower in the hierarchy; very un-Chaotic, you might think! Yet movement within that hierarchy is always possible. Any member can challenge the leader or any other member at almost any time, whether formally or informally."
- —Heinrich Malz, High Priest of Verena[3b]
The Beastmen live by the base laws of nature, twisted beyond recognition by the corrupting influence that is Chaos. Though they may walk upright and speak, the Beastmen are as close to animals as they are to men. Violence simmers beneath the surface of every exchange, each Beastman seeking every opportunity to enforce his superiority to all others.[1e] Domination is enforced with bloody violence, and every Beastman quickly learns his place under the heel of the warherd's chieftain. Should any one of their numbers show weakness, the victim will suffer for it, and his position within the warherd will be diminished.[3b]
In more understandable terms, the Beastmen follow a violent hierarchy based upon the overall prowess of a Beastmen as well as what kind of breed the particular Beastmen is.[3a] Those that possess exceptional strength and bear the greatest blessings of the Dark Gods, such as magnificent curling horns, occupy the higher tiers of their tribes. Those Beastmen that possess small horns or none at all, such as the lowly breeds of Ungors and Brays, are always below those that do such as the Gors and Minotaurs. Hence, each warherd is led by the strongest and most bestial amongst their numbers, whom are known collectively as Beastlords.[1e]
These primitive chieftain's occupy the apex of tribal authority. It is his absolute right to rule as he pleases provided that he has the strength to back it up. To maintain his position, he has to continually fight off challenges from his many jealous and power-hungry subordinates. He makes a totem from the pelts of those he has defeated to prove his right to rule, making his personal banner a gory record of his deeds and conquests. One day, though, a challenger will come who is stronger, younger and far more vigorous than the current incumbent, and then the chieftain's own hide will hang bleeding in the wind from the challenger's totem. From here, this vicious cycle is repeated again and again until time immemorial.[1e]
Status within a Beast tribe is typically regulated by the strongest individuals within the group. Those wishing to obtain a higher position simply has to challenge an opponent of higher status in a brutal and often fatal duel. The only exception is the Ungors and Brays, those Beastmen or other mutants who are not graced with the horns that are the most distinctive feature of this race. No Gor, or horned Beastman, would consent to being ruled by an Ungor or Bray, no matter how skilled or powerful the lesser Beastman might be. In any case, such a situation never occurs in practice; Ungors and Brays are simply weaker and less physically imposing than Gors.[3a]
The occasional spirited Ungor who might step out of line is quickly torn to shreds by the Gors of the tribe. Mutants who do not have at least one animalistic feature, even if it is so minor as enlarged, fang-like teeth, are rarely accepted into Beastmen bands even as Ungors, but sometimes form their own tribes, sometimes led by outcast Gors or other powerful Chaos creatures. Above the ordinary Gors are the Bestigors, large and powerful beastmen that occupy the highest position within their tribe just below the Beastlord himself.[3b]
Some powerful Gors have too much ambition to be willing to serve as a Bestigor, and force their way up the hierarchy still further. At this point, these Gor leaders are known by many names such as Beastlords, Foe-Renders, Gouge-Horns, Wargors, Banebeasts, and Banegors. From here, the hierarchy becomes more complex; these different names are not merely local affectations, but precise statements of rank. These various Gor leaders will work together, each with their own smaller warband, banding together under one supreme leader of each horde. Fortunately, such co-operation is relatively rare, and the typical traveller would be most unlucky to be attacked by a Beastman herd that is lead not by one, but multiple leaders.[3b]
- "Chaos strong. Gors strong. Humans, Elves, Dwarf -- weak, weak, weak. We win. We fight, we kill, one day we win. One day soon. You -- if you lucky, we eat you, make you into part of us, make you better than you, stronger than any of you, stronger than all of you. Once this arm weak, like you. I eat many of your kind, now strong, strong, strong."
- —Karzog, Beastigor Charioteer, Member of Gorthor's Herd[3d]
The Beastmen all worship the Gods of Chaos as the one true divine powers of the World. They are the product of their corruption and as such are wholly dedicated to the spreading of their will to all lands of the Old World and beyond. As these Beastmen pursue their endless hunt against all civilisation, some Beastmen commit such acts of savagery and bloodshed that the attentions of the Dark Gods are turned their way.[1e]
Ordinarily, the Ruinous Powers pay little heed to the deeds of the Beastmen, knowing that the Children of Chaos will enact their will regardless of any gifts or rewards offered. The Beastmen are utterly enthralled to the magnificence of Chaos, and are thus totally free of any constraints imposed by these malign Gods upon their thoughts and actions. They do as they please and, in so doing, serve Chaos with every shred of their being.[1e]
Though they do not truly comprehend it, the Beastmen are a vital part of the Ruinous Powers' eternal quest to subsume the world in a roiling, turbulent tide of unreasoning change and constant war. It is the Beastmen that tear down the elegant Elven waystones that hold the power of Chaos in check and replace them with herdstones — primitive shrines that corrupts the earth around them. It is the Beastmen that hunt down and kill those who would otherwise remain out of the reach of the Chaos Gods. It is the Beastmen who plague the civilisations of mankind, ensuring that their people shall not progress past their primitive states for centuries to come. So it is that the Cloven Ones remain at the forefront of the war against order and light, a war that only continues to escalate to apocalyptic proportions.[1e]
Campsites are often set up around the sacred herdstones that are scattered throughout the dark forests of the Old World. Sometimes referred to as the Chaos Heart, herdstones are sacred to the Beastmen, and all manner of offerings are left there to appease and earn the favour of the gods; weapons, armour, the banners of vanquished foes and the corpses of mutilated enemies can all be found piled around the base of these stones. The herdstones are always erected in places of magical significance, usually over one of the baleful meteors that brought the Beastmen into being all those ages ago.[4d]
They are well hidden and there are almost always Beastmen warherds and Minotaur tribes nearby because of it. The floor of the clearing in which the herdstone stands is often strewn with an ankle-deep carpet of bones, the remains of the captives taken in battle and sacrificed by the Bray-Shamans to the dark glory of the Ruinous Powers. Most herdstones are located far from human settlements, for no such settlement founded near one has survived more than a single season. They are often hidden in the darkest and most inaccessible parts of the forests, deep within caves or on mountain tops. Any intrusion within a hundred leagues of a herdstone will cause every warherd in the region to descend upon the intruder with unrelenting wrath. Sometimes, particularly powerful Minotaurs take up the role of the keepers of the herdstones, becoming the fearful guardians of these most sacred Beastmen shrines.[4d]
To gather the warbands, a raging signal fire is lit in the centre of the herdstone circle. Often, Shamans throw mind-altering herbs upon the blaze, sending up great swathes of strangely coloured smoke curling into the sky. This fire is stoked with wood and carrion, and left to burn for days on end. Over the following nights, other Beastmen will slowly gather at the sacred stones, attracted by the fire and the smell of burning fat; each arriving chieftain scratches his name or mark onto the central stone in the crude Beastman version of the Dark Tongue, known simply as the Beast Tongue, and his warband sets up camp. It is at the herdstones that most of the important celebrations and festivals of the Beastmen take place. They are the rallying points where warbands can meet and join together without fighting breaking out instantly. They are also the place for feasting, most importantly the ritualistic Champion's Feast, where the flesh of slain chieftains is consumed by the herd. [4d]
Like the Skaven, the Beastmen have a difficult time forming the words of the Dark Tongue with their malformed bestial maws. As a result, they use a crude mixture of Dark Tongue, body movements, grunts, clicks, and pops, collectively called the Beast Tongue. This language sounds more like noise than a sophisticated language, being not much more than an indescribable array of muttering, growls and grumbling. Added to this are the shrieks, howls, and bleats that Beastmen use to punctuate and emphasise their phrases. Many scholars often haven considerable debate whether Beastmen speak a language at all. But regardless of prevailing opinions, Beastmen are still fairly intelligent, and despite their brutish aspect, and the fact that some of their kind cannot speak at all, they use their Tongue effectively, conveying a wide range of subjects and concepts.[2i]
The Beast Tongue is beyond Mankind's ability to speak. In the rare instances when Beastmen deign to talk with Humans, they use a mix of basic Dark Tongue, body language, and gestures, only descending to Beast Tongue when frustrated. For their written language, the Beastmen use a simplified form of the phonetic runes used in Dark Tongue to mark Herdstones or to leave messages for other members of their herd. These are always crude for Beastmen lack the precision needed to write clearly. Most Beastmen use their bodily wastes instead, finding the experience far more rewarding than taking the time to scribble something on a rock.[2i]
- "They’re in the woods, you know. Always there. Any time you go in the woods, chances are you’re no more than a few leagues from a Beastman camp. Mostly ’ey just takes foresters and charcoal burners, but every so often a band of ’em will come out of the trees and take a village or a town, burning and killing and looting. They’s not so thorough as t’ Ratmen, you’ll usually find one or two folk o’ the village—either hid, or fled an’ come back, or sometimes left by t’ Beastmen to tell t’ tale to t’ other villages."
- —Old Hob, Peasant Farmer[3a]
The Beastmen build no cities, for order and construction are anathema to them. They roam far and wide, following the scent of fresh meat and hunting down whatever wanders into the ancient hunting grounds that the Beastmen patrol. All the lands of the Old World are regarded as these very same hunting-grounds. It has always been so, since the coming of Chaos in a distant and legendary age. The Beastmen are tough and strong, for they must compete with the unimaginable horrors that haunt the woods.[1g]
Beneath the dark forest canopy, the Beastmen are often the prey of yet more disturbing creatures. Though the Beastmen dwell within the forests, they rarely stay in one location for long. Instead, they move from place to place along ancient paths within the territory of each warherd, occasionally encroaching upon the domains of other tribes or making new paths through the civilised lands of Man. Though no sane man can make sense of it, there is sometimes a pattern to these movements — sudden changes in direction, or an uncanny coordination between disparate warbands, that hint at a far grander plan.[1g]
When a halt is called, the Beastmen establish temporary sites from which to launch their merciless invasions of the surrounding territory. After these violent events, the Beastmen would then return to their sites and celebrate their victories in overt displays of feasting and brawling. Being highly nomadic, the tribe usually stay in the one place only for a short period of time before moving on to find another suitable site in their hunting grounds. Beastmen warbands will often roam for hundreds of miles before setting up camp again, frequently battling other Beastmen for the choicest spots.[1g]
If the Beastlord follows the tenets of Slaa - as the Dark Prince is oft-known among the Beastmen - then he will allow his Gors to rut and mewl and wallow in their own fifth, as well as bathe in and consume enemy blood. This leads many Beastmen into a state of euphoria; to become 'gore-drunk'. A generous Beastlord who grants his Gors such a boon will gather many followers.[10a]
Beastmen build crude, temporary campsites from which to raid the surrounding areas, usually picking dark and dense parts of the forest that are near to trade routes or villages. Far from stupid creatures, the Beastmen will only stay in this one place for a short space of time before moving on to find another suitable campsite so as to avoid detection and holy retribution. Beastmen warbands will often roam for a hundred miles before setting up camp again, battling other Beastmen for the best raiding grounds.[1g]
The campsites themselves are crude affairs, often consisting of little more than a large central bonfire surrounded by a mass of roughly hewn animal skins. Sometimes other skins, often still matted with gore, will be held up by sticks and branches to form makeshift tents. The more powerful Beastmen, such as the Minotaurs and the Bestigor, take up the positions closest to the fire and closest to the food. The smaller Ungors are pushed to the extreme outskirts of the ring, and it has been known in winter for many of the weaker runts to perish. Wild chaos hounds prowl around the edges of the campsite, fighting over discarded bones and often preying on the smallest Beastmen. In other camps, hounds and hideously mutated Spawn, their bulk covered in matted fur, are kept in rough pens of sharpened stakes where they are taunted and starved until set loose in battle.[1g]
The treetops all around the encampment are haunted by Harpies, twisted beings that from a distance appear as winged and shapely human women. These creatures follow the tribe wherever it goes, attracted by the remains of sacrificed victims scattered about the encampment. They squabble constantly for the choicest pickings of the food the Beastmen discard. To stumble upon a Beastman camp is not only to witness a cacophonous vision of hell in full flow, but also to consign oneself to a grisly and extremely unpleasant death.[1g]
Caves serve Warherd well so long as they are near a good supply of running water and offer a good view of the surrounding woods. They follow their food, so once they exhaust an area of fauna and people, they move on to some other camp. Their constant movement puts them into contact with other Beastmen, and battles between them are quite common. After a particularly successful raid, the Beastherd will typically celebrate through the night, parading around the fireplace drunkenly, feasting on captives and enjoying the spoils of their victory. By noon the following day, the herd will have abandoned its camp and moved on, discarding anything that cannot easily be carried.[1g]
The lands that the Beastmen use to hunt their prey are known collectively as Blood-Grounds. Every single creature within the Beastmen's bloodgrounds is prey, whether it flees as do the Goblins, evades as do the Wood Elves, or fights back as do the Men. Even the act of marching to war is akin to the hunt, of tracking or stalking the prey. Battle itself is like unto the act of a predator running down its prey, or the clash of rivals fighting to the last to determine the right to leadership and territorial dominance.[1h]
The Beastmen that lurk within the Forest of Shadows, for example, are constantly at war with others who would shelter in its darkness. Every new day, the warherds clash with Forest Goblins, human bandits and the shambling hordes of rotten corpses raised by reclusive Necromancers who hide from prying eyes in the woods. Because of this, the warherds of the Forest of Shadows, though fewer in number, are amongst the strongest and most belligerent in the entire Old World.[1h]
When their strength waxes and they dominate their rivals within the Forest of Shadows, they make war upon foes outside of it. It is then that the lands of Men truly know the raw strength of the Beastmen. Occasionally, the warherds of the Forest of Shadows have fought such successful wars against the others that dwell there that their enemies have been driven out of the forest to plague the lands all about. Such was the case when the warherd of Ul-Ruk the Redhom launched a genocidal war against the Forest Goblins of the Bitter-Eye Tribe. The war lasted three entire seasons, culminating in the remains of the Forest Goblin horde being driven from the woods straight towards the Empire town of Ferlangen.[1h]
The defenders of the town had barely time to muster before being overrun with screaming greenskins. Sensing weakness, the pursuing Beastmen crashed into those Men who had survived the wave of Forest Goblins, hacking down the last of their number and putting the town to the torch. Less common a foe than the Forest Goblins are the Wood Elves, who are held in contempt by the Beastmen race for their love of stealth over strength. Most clashes between the two races are fought on the verges of the supernatural forest of Athel Loren, east of Bretonnia.[1h]
Conversely, the Wood Elves hate the Children of Chaos with a burning passion, for the Beastmen are the opposite of all they stand for. When the two races encounter one another, a raging battle occurs. Should the Beastmen prevail they take perverse delight in chasing the Elves down with packs of specially trained hounds. A Beastman that catches and eats a Wood Elf earns the honorific 'Fey-killer' and little else, for the Beastmen find Elf flesh stringy and unsatisfying, with barely enough meat on the bone to feed an Ungor.[1h]
The vast forests of the Old World are crossed by a spider's web of paths only the Beastmen know. Where these paths cross, there is to be found a site that is in some way significant to the Cloven Ones. These Beastpaths are located deep within the forests, far from the towns and highways of Man, yet they are far from hidden. Though native to the deep woods, the Beastmen are not naturally creatures of concealment and guile. When passing through the dense woodlands they simply barge their way through the foliage and trample flat the undergrowth.[1g]
Over millennia of use, the beast-paths have become deep ruts in the ground, strewn with the bones of the enemy and other detritus. So dense is the undergrowth that grows on the embankments that the chances are that no human tracker or huntsman seeking a beast-path would find one another simply by pure coincidence. Any huntsman who have managed to stumble upon a beast-path would be extremely wise to turn and flee, for a warherd might be travelling the path and his own bones may soon be added to those discarded upon it.[1g]
Occasionally, two Beastmen warherds will run into one another whilst travelling in opposite directions along a beast-path. In such cases, the chieftains of each tribe will barge their way to the fore and meet in the center of the pathway to decide which tribe will stand aside and allow the other to pass. Amidst much bravado and exaggerated strutting, the chieftains will engage in vulgar displays of power until one either stands aside or, far more likely, the two come to blows. The ensuing combat will consist of the two chieftains clashing horns and headbutting each other until one is knocked unconscious and the winner determined. The winner's tribe will then pass along the beast-path, the grinning Gors only pausing to relieve themselves upon the prostrate form of the defeated chieftain.[1g]
- "And so did the fair village of Sternburg come under the hateful, greed-filled gaze of the Beast. Intent these foul Beasts were of naught but the spilling of blood, the burning of houses and the butchery of all. Mayhap they wished to gather foodstuffs and drink, but I believe this beyond their bestial intellect. A night of terrors and tragedy it was for the people of Sternburg..."
- —Arthus Reinhold, Scribe of the Middenheim Court[5a]
Creatures of violence and destruction, the Beastmen race are as unreasoning and deadly as the hurricane that tears apart the village, the plague that ravages the lands or the blight that kills the harvest. And yet the Beastmen are far worse, for they have little to do with the natural order of things. The carnage and despair they spread across the land is not part of the eternal cycle of life and death but a malevolent and deliberate attempt to tear down and despoil everything of beauty, peace or sanctity, replacing it with filth and ruin. Even when gathered in their torrid encampments the Beastmen can be seen brawling, shouting, rutting, drinking or filling their hairy bellies with raw flesh, for they are vital and virile creatures that are never truly still.
When it comes time for the Beastmen hordes to launch their invasion upon the lands of Mankind, the herds gather around a single holy site and form themselves into large hordes called Warherds or Brayherds.[4b] From here, all the chieftains of the tribes challenge each other for the right to lead the Brayherd into battle. Once a leader is chosen, the Bray-Shamans of all the tribes conducts sacrificial rituals to their loathsome gods. Smelling the spilling of fresh blood, Minotaurs, Centigors, and all manner of Chaos creatures are seen joining the Beastmen on their hunt.[1i]
As daylight nears, the rituals begins its final climax. From the shrouded treeline the atonal droning of warhorns sounds, accompanied by the dolorous, arhythmic pounding of mighty drums made from the flayed skins of defeated foes. Soon, massed figures emerge from the mists and the horde becomes visible in all its terrible glory. The tactics employed by the Beastmen are not the practiced drills of many other races, but the inherent guile of a pack of wild animals stalking and encircling its prey. They sense weakness and smell fear, surging forward for the kill and falling upon their prey in an orgy of butchery.[1k]
The coming of the horde is always presaged by a cacophonous braying. As if to amplify their already deafening war cries, the Beastmen employ war horns fashioned from the tusks of forest creatures or the horns of slain rivals. They carry a bewildering array of banners adorned with the heads of fallen enemies and daubed with the crude runes that identify each herd. Such banners are used to increase the Beastmen's own stature, ensuring that even distant enemies can see the dominance and strength of the bearers. At the centre of the horde as it surges forward are heavily armoured, elite Bestigors. Equipped with huge axes taken from the treasures stacked at the base of each herdstone, these Beastmen hack into the enemy as farmers scythe down wheat. The Bestigors will fight to the death to take the banners of their foe, trampling enemy standards into the mud as the bulk of the horde comes on in their bloody wake.[1k]
All the while, Gors and Ungors stalk through the undergrowth to encircle and hem in the enemy battleline, moving into the most advantageous positions before springing horribly effective ambushes upon the flanks and rear of the enemy army. Many a gunnery or archer battalion has believed itself safe behind sharpened stakes and defensible positions only to find that the Beastmen had them surrounded from the start. Alongside the warherd comes the Minotaurs, driven to such extremes of violence by the scent of blood they cannot wait until the day is won to feast upon their victims — they gorge themselves on the flesh of their dying foes even as battle rages all around.[1k]
The beasts of the wild come too. Above the battlefield ragged flocks of Harpies screech and squabble over the remains of the dead. Twisted Chaos Spawn thrash and writhe as the raw power of Chaos surges through their veins. Even larger creatures accompany the horde; terrifying Cygors, rot-clad Giants of the forests, and bloated, betentacled things that lurk within the forest bogs and can swallow whole a dozen men in a single gulp. When the herds form up for battle, it is not as small, ragged bands but as fully armed and battle-ready armies united by the will of the chieftain. The sight is sufficient to strike terror into even the bravest warriors, for such a menagerie of horrors can consume all before it. Once a Beastmen horde is on the warpath, nothing short of total annihilation shall stop these creatures from consuming the rest of the Old World.[1k]
- Gors - Gors forms the great mass of the brayherds. Their appearance varies but all combine bestial features with those of a man. They have the savage fangs of a wolf and muscular bodies both well suited to enacting the violence and warfare that they crave. To face a horde of Gors is to face anarchy and mayhem. Rowdy and undisciplined, they bray, bark and bawl an unceasing cacophony that fills the hearts of Men with dread.
- Ungor - Ungors are more dexterous than Gors and possessed of a wiry strength that makes them more than a match for humans. They live to murder and despoil all that is wholesome and are extremely cruel and spiteful creatures. Ungors take to the field in large herds, arming themselves with stout spears with which to impale their prey, and crude shields to protect their grotesque bodies.
- Ungor Raiders - Ungor Raiders are those Ungors tasked with the role of hunting out enemies for the warherds to prey upon. They have knowledge of the wilderness that is unsurpassed by even the most intelligent Gor, and it is they who sow the seeds of mayhem that soon blossom into full-blown destruction as the rest of the warherd falls upon their victims.
- Bestigors - Bestigor are the strongest and meanest of all the brayherd footsoldiers, and are prone to acts of excessive violence. In battle Bestigors form a solid, armoured mass of muscle and iron that charges forward, huge axes levelled, ready to hew the foe limb from limb and trample his broken body beneath their unshod hooves.
- Minotaurs - Minotaurs, also known as Bullgors are massive bull-headed monstrosities that constantly hunger for blood and meat. Twice the height of a man and substantially more muscular, their horns can eviscerate with a single thrust. When called to war, Minotaurs charge with a thundering impact and hack apart their hapless victims with formidable weapons.
- Harpies - Upon the thermals of the sacrificial pyres soar the Harpies - winged beasts with a savage beauty. They are creatures of cruel temperament, that is for sure, for flocks of Harpies delight in tormenting their victims and feast upon raw flesh.
- Centigors - Centigors are drunken, jealous creatures and carry out extreme acts of cruelty and violence on the battlefield. Each Centigor carries either a crude spear or horn, and wears limited amounts of chainmail and cloth, while their shields and decorations display both skull and chaos motifs. Rising up from clawed hooves, their muscular torsos lead to a cruel-looking head, from which protrudes large, ribbed horns.
- Tuskgor Chariot - The chariots of the Beastmen are ramshackle constructions, built from heavy pieces of lumbar scavenged from the ruins of Man's buildings. Drawn by Tuskgors, whose brute strength and ferocity far outmatches that of mere horses, a Beastmen chariot inflicts terrible damage as it charges into the foe.
- Razorgor Chariots - Razorgor Chariots are a much larger and far more hard-punching variant of the more common Tuskgor Chariot, but instead of having two Tuskgors pull the chariot, one massive Razorgor is instead. Such is the size of these monsters that few can truly survive a charge from even just a single of these beast on the open battlefield.
- Chaos Warhound - Brutish and bloodthirsty beasts, the Warhounds of Chaos are tireless hunters built of little more than muscle and fang. On the field of battle the Beastmen release these feral beasts to intercept the forward elements of the enemy army. Packs of Chaos Warhounds will hunt down and pounce upon enemy skirmishers and scouts, bearing them to the ground and ripping them to pieces in their desperate desire to kill.
- Razorgors - Razorgor are massive cousins of the Tuskgors, mountains of muscle and hair that are deadly in the extreme. Such is a Razorgor's appetite and fearsome metabolism that they are able to gobble down a knight in full plate mail and his barded horse in a matter of seconds.
- Chaos Spawn - Chaos Spawn are creatures which have become so mutated through their servitude to Chaos they have devolved into twisted and insane abominations. Those seeking immortality and power through Daemonhood face the constant possibility of being reduced to Chaos Spawn, either by accumulating too many mutations or being cast aside by their Chaos patrons as unworthy.
- Ghorgons - Ghorgons are the huge, four-armed, ox-headed monsters used by the Beastmen herds. They have evolved from those Minotaurs, whose extreme overconsumption of tainted flesh triggered rapid growth and extreme mutation. As such, they now tower above the Gor Herds, sprouting a line of rigid spikes in the back and an extra pair of arms, ending in bone blades instead of true hands.
- Cygors - Cygors are distant cousins of the Minotaurs, but they have diverged significantly from their kin. Where once they could see the mortal world with two eyes, they can now only see the swirling Winds of Chaos with one.
- Jabberslythe - Jabberslythes are some of the most ancient creatures of the world, and are certainly the most vile. They are an unwholesome union of toad, sludge-drake and insect, a creature so unearthly and grotesque that even the clearest of nature's pools will never reflect that abomination. Sentient creatures fare even worse, with many humans known to die of sheer shock or madness that the appearance of this creature invariably induces.
- Chaos Giants - Bellowing primitive warcries from maws crammed with rotten, jagged fangs, the Chaos Giant tribes lumber to war. Corrupted by the hideous powers they worship, these beings are twisted perversions of their former selves, monsters dedicated to killing for Chaos.
- Beastlords - The Beastlords of the brayherds are hairy, muscle bound brutes possessed of a raw and savage might. Upon the battlefield a Beastlord is a force of untold destruction, gouging and butchering with horn, blade and claw. Their thick, hairy skulls are crowned with magnificent sets of horns as sharp and hard as any blade, and their robust and heavily-thewed bodies are covered with scar tissue and crudely rendered tattoos.
- Doombulls - Doombulls are the strongest and most ferocious of their kind, towering bull-headed and cloven-hoofed beasts almost as broad as they are tall. Consumed by bloodgreed, Doombulls lay waste to their prey in an orgy of slaughter, maiming everything within reach of their gargantuan axes.
- Great Bray-Shaman - Great Bray-Shamans are the greatest practitioners of magic within a Bray-herd. When the Beastmen go to war, the Great Bray-Shamans wield their powers to wreak terrible devastation upon the foe, their coruscating magic transforming soldiers into hideous new forms, summoning the creatures of the forest, both large and small, to bite and rend, or driving enemy mounts to buck their riders to the ground, to gore and trample their masters.
- Wargor - Wargors are the leaders of the warherds, but they give no regard to the concerns of their tribe. They care not how their underlings are fed or how disputes are settled. The only thing the Wargors concern themselves with is battle. The only thing the Wargors concern themselves with is battle. Day and night they brood and plot the myriad ways they will enact their race's hatred of Man, the violence they will wreak upon his flesh and the defilement they will heap upon his temples.
- Bray-Shamans - Bray-Shamans are born into magic and they wield it with an instinctive ease. A miasma of fell sorcery surrounds then and, when their wrath is roused, reality itself becomes distorted and maimed.
- Gorebulls - Gorebulls are a much lesser yet not less ferocious leader of the Minotaur tribes. They are towering figures clad in large armour and wield hefty axes from which they could carve a path through the enemy and feast upon their flesh.
- Gorthor - Gorthor was the greatest Beastlord ever to have lived. With strength of arm and animal cunning, he united all the tribes of the Middle Mountains. His, the largest horde of beasts ever seen, ravaged the Empire almost beyond recovery killing millions of Men and bringing two entire provinces to their knees. Gorthor claimed that the Dark Gods had selected him as their emissary. Though he had no true magical powers, he had something of the shaman about him, often being visited by nightmare visions of the future. Such was his fervour in battle that he was sometimes cloaked by coronas of dark energy, which protected him or struck out at his foes, a sure sign to other Beastmen that the gods truly favoured him.
- Khazrak One-Eye - Khazrak has plagued the Drakwald region for several years, descending without warning and then slipping away into the shadows once more. Khazrak has a unique ability to control and harness the unruly spirit of the herd and devise simple but effective battle plans. He is unlike most Beastmen, with a patient and cunning mind at odds with the normal headstrong nature of his kind. Khazrak's warband roams the Drakwald, terrorising the townships and roads, and never before has a Beastman leader proven so elusive to retribution. No one is spared in Khazrak's attacks, his superbly trained Warhounds chasing down the few who manage to escape the warherd itself.
- Malagor - Where Malagor treads, mayhem and destruction follow. The Beastmen believe that he is the doom of Mankind personified. A powerful Bray-Shaman, it is Malagor's whisperings that steer the course of the entire Beastmen race. The sight alone of Malagor has caused stout defenders to abandon otherwise impregnable walls and the mightiest of warriors to fall to their knees in abject defeat.
- Taurox - Known as the Brass Bull, Taurox is a monstrous engine of destruction, formed of living brass in the shape of a terrible Doombull, dedicated solely to the spilling of blood in Khorne's name.
- Morghur, Master of Skulls, the Shadowgrave - Born almost three centuries ago, the creature known as Morghur was far from a human child. With tooth and horn, he ripped his mother apart in his gory entrance to the world, while her features mutated horribly. Her distraught husband reached forwards to strangle the twisted abomination, yet as his hands touched the foul creature, his body also was wracked with hideous mutation.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Beastmen (7th Edition)
- 2: Warhammer RPG 2nd Edition: Tome of Corruption
- 3: Warhammer RPG 2nd Edition: Old World Beastiary
- 4: Warhammer Armies: Beast of Chaos (6th Edition)
- 5: White Dwarf Magazine #286
- 5a: pg. 12
- 6: Warhammer Expansion: The Lost and the Damned
- 6a: pgs. 127 - 142
Gotrek and Felix series
- 7: Trollslayer (Novel), by William King
- 7a: Blood and Darkness
- 8: Beastslayer (Novel), by William King
- 9: Shamanslayer (Novel), by Nathan Long
- 10 Total War: Warhammer