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"To the north lies our past, and to the north lies our future."

—Baron Fallon von Kelspar[4a]

The dreaded Chaos Wastes of the far north.

The Chaos Wastes, also known as the Northern Wastes, the Shadowlands or simply the Northlands, is a hellish region of barren tundra that lies far to the north of the Old World, the New World and the Far East where the physical world of Mallus is warped by and blends with the magical energies of the Realm of Chaos until it is impossible to tell where one plane ends and the other begins.

The Northern Wastes are the legendary home of the immortal Chaos Gods and, so it is said, of infinitely worse things: the numberless, nameless monstrosities, Daemons and mutant beasts that dwell in the eternal planes. In truth, it is this and infinitely so much more, but for the sake of mortal understanding, the legend alone must suffice.

Were a cartographer to take their compass and inscribe a circle of the area throughout the Known World's northern pole, the circumference lying roughly on the northern shore of the dreaded Sea of Claws, it would serve to roughly demarcate the boundaries of the Chaos Wastes. These unholy lands are seen as a place of absolute sacredness by the Northmen, including the Norscan tribes, the Kurgan, the Hung, the Dorstan and the Tong.

It is the dream of any man or woman of those peoples to one day journey there, overcoming the challenges and indescribable horrors it has to offer, and thus ultimately submit themselves to the judgement of their Dark Gods, ascending to the vaunted ranks of the Champions of Chaos.


Northern Chaos Wastes Map Norsca

A portion of the Northern Wastes above Norsca.

Built before the birth of the intelligent mortal races of Mallus, the Polar Warp Gates were constructed by the ancient Old Ones and their Slann servants, who travelled to the mortal world from beyond the stars. The original purpose of the gates was one of instantaneous, inter-dimensional transportation of resources to other worlds within the Old Ones' vast, interstellar, cross-dimensional empire. Built from alien technology, the gates were vast, capable of transporting massive quantities of resources and personnel at a time, and were located at each pole of the planet due to the existence of the world's Geomantic Web, a series of channels of magical power that existed across the planet and that were necessary for the gates to function.

However, after many millennia of efficient operation, something in the mechanisms of the gates went catastrophically wrong. Quickly growing inherently unstable, the gates unexpectedly collapsed, their physical structure shattering and breaking apart, and without them in place to keep the otherworld in check, pure Chaos ebergy spilled through the ruined portals from the Realm of Chaos, causing widespread mutations and creating the first members of the Beastmen race. Warpstone, the solidified stuff of raw Chaos, spilled out from the tears in reality, and rained down on the planet, causing even further mutations. This terrible event was later known as the Great Catastrophe among the mortal peoples of Mallus.

When the mechanisms of the gates were finally and fully destroyed by the catastrophic failure, the hellish otherworld of the Realm of Chaos began to bleed into the physical dimension, creating forevermore the hellish Chaos Wastes in the northern region of the mortal world surrounding the collapse gate. The Old Ones, realising their colony-world was beyond saving, fled the planet in their silvery ships, never to return.

While the southern pole of Mallus was relatively isolated from any centres of mortal population, thanks to the continent on which the gate was built being surrounded by vast oceans, the northern pole was surrounded by other settled lands, allowing the mutated creatures and mortal worshippers of Chaos to cause mayhem in those realms, influenced and controlled by the malevolent Daemonic entities that exist in its the hellish dimension.


ChaosW web00

A long-ago battlefield within the Chaos Wastes.

The Chaos Wastes are an impossibly vast area of land, bordering the savage land of Norsca and the northern portions of the Dark Lands to the south, the Eastern Steppes to its south-east, and the cold region of Naggaroth to the southwest. The Chaos Wastes are not an altogether natural phenomenon, having been created aeons ago with the collapse of the Warp Gates of the Old Ones, causing the true Realm of Chaos to, for want of a better term, bleed into the mortal world. In this respect, the Chaos Wastes are the result of the overlapping of the Realm of Chaos and the Realm of Mortals, and thus provides a constant reminder of the fate that shall befall the kingdoms of the Old World should their defenders falter in the struggle against Chaos.

To this day, the Chaos Wastes continue to encroach across the Northern Hemisphere, having already claimed the lands of Norsca and portions of the great Eastern Steppes, and infusing those lands with the very essence of raw change. The corruption of the Chaos Wastes is highly evident in all who live under its shadows: in the vicious Norscans as well as the tribes of the Kurgan and the Hung. Whilst the stigmata of physical mutation is a rare and often fatal affliction in the civilised lands of the south, amongst the tribes of the savage north, it is common and considered to be a gift of the gods to their people.

The Chaos Wastes serve as the principle arena of the mortal world in which the Dark Gods of Chaos play out their apocalyptic struggle for supremacy, known to scholars of Daemon-lore as the "Great Game." Amidst the impossible landscape, the armies of the Dark Gods clash in never-ending battles. These wars are fought not for glory, nor plunder, but simply to advance the unknowable designs of the four major Chaos Gods. Every day, the Chaos Wastes rock and shudder with titanic conflicts the likes of which are unmatched by even the most incredible mortal battles of the Old World

The Chaos Wastes are seen as a site of holy pilgrimage by the various tribes of the Northmen. It is the ambition of every man of Norsca and the Kurgan realms to grow into a mighty warrior, and eventually to travel to the uttermost north and submit themselves to the judgement of the Ruinous Powers.

Those who survive on this path are changed forever, transformed into some of the mightiest warriors of all the world and welcomed back into the fold of their people with spirited roars and bellowing song. Warriors of Chaos already blessed by the gods may also lead their warbands to fight and raid and adventure in the north; for where better to seek glory than in a land that houses more monsters than men.

As the Chaos Wastes are an echo of the immortal domain of spirit in the grey land of mortality, they invariably wax and wane with the emotions of mortals. It is not by coincidence the people of Norsca adore war in all its forms, for the fell deities of their worship constantly thirst after the strongest emotions of mortals, for these give them substance and power in the otherworld of Chaos.

For the Chaos Gods, there is no more potent draught than that offered up by the fury of battle, for in times of conflict, the emotions of mortals are at their most rich and plentiful. Thus, the gods of Chaos are all war-like deities who reward the warrior, the general and the battle-mage, turning their backs on the pleas of lesser men. 

When the Chaos Wastes wax, their shadow strengthened by the minds of mortals, the savage Norscans as well as the other tribes of the north see this as a sign of their gods' favour and an invocation to war. Thus, these are the times where it is most likely for a horde of warriors to descend from Norsca and lay waste to all who oppose Chaos.

At other times, the armies of Chaos Champions congregate in the Chaos Wastes and do battle amongst themselves, drawn by the promise of eternal glory. In those rare instances when the Dark Gods can see fit to find common cause with each other, they come together to place their blessing upon a single mortal man to lead the people of the north to ultimate victory and the initiation of the apocalyptic End Times. The most powerful of these are the dreaded Everchosen of Chaos, but there are other champions who may seek out this ultimate end of Chaos as well. 

Now, the gods are again united in their favour of one man, for Archaon, Lord of the End Times, the thirteenth Everchosen, has been empowered with the might of Chaos Undivided and joined by thousands of tribes from the Norscans, Kurgan and Hung. Now, the men of the north stand ready once more to unleash the final battle that will bring about the doom of the faithless people of the civilised south.

Southern Wastes[]

It was not only the northern pole of Mallus where the Polar Gates of the Old Ones collapsed, ushering the powers of Chaos into the mortal world, for the fall of the gate at the northern pole was accompanied by the loss of its twin in the south.

The result was the development of what are called the Southern Wastes of Chaos, which are said to contain some of the highest concentrations of murderous Beastmen in the world. Thankfully, the Southern Wastes' distance relative to the rest of mortal civilisation makes it a far less immediate concern than the terrors constantly spewing from the northern Chaos Wastes.

Notable Locations[]

Warhammer Tamurkhan Chaos Waste Map

Map of a portion of the Chaos Wastes from Tamurkhan: The Throne of Chaos

  • Floating Mountains
  • The Eternal Battle - An eternal battle rages in the Chaos Wastes near the location of the original Polar Gates.
  • Folly of Malofex
  • Fortress of the Damned
  • Palace of Princes
  • Fetid Catacombs
  • Palace of Ruin
  • Shard Lands
  • Blood Mountain
  • Silvered Tower of Sorcerers
  • Shifting Monolith
  • Chasm of Torments
  • Bloodfire Falls
  • Monolith of Kjarl Deathaxe
  • Black Rock
  • Tower of Flies
  • Weeping Monolith of Lord Festerlung
  • Tower of Torment
  • Plain of Bone
  • Pillar of Skulls
  • Bleeding Spire
  • Chimen Plateau
  • Monolith of the Void
  • Blood Marshes
  • Writhing Fortress
  • Burning Monolith
  • Crystal Spires
  • Eternal Lagoon
  • Twisted Towers
  • Blighted Grove
  • Forest of Decay
  • Howling Citadel
  • Vale of Nightmares
  • Red Abyss
  • Dragon's Death
  • Upper Shroudlands - The Upper Shroudlands are an area inhabited by the Gharhars.

Notable Battles of the Chaos Wastes[]

  • Bonespear's Last Stand
  • Norscan Wars
  • Tribeslaughter
  • Battle of 30,000 Blades
  • Bloody Revenge of Ulthspar

Geographic Borders[]

Map of the Northlands

A distorted map of the True North. Notice the incorrect placing of Grand Cathay and the Great Bastion.

The Chaos Wastes are bordered by many different regions and nations, and invariably these lands are infused with the magical essence of Chaos due to their proximity to the ruined portal of the northern Warp Gate that leads to the very Realm of Chaos located at the heart of the Wastes. These borderlands include the following.

  • Norsca - Norsca is home to the bloodthirsty tribes of the Norscans, devout and fierce Chaos Marauders and the strong foudnation of any army comprised of the Warriors of Chaos. Norsca is a mountainous tundra-covvered peninsula, thus possessing a climate and geography roughly analogous to that of the Chaos Wastes. The area is haunted by all manners of Chaos-corrupted beasts, such as Chaos Trolls, Chaos Spawn, Giants, and even Daemons where the Winds of Magic blow fiercest. Mutation is common in Norsca, and many tribes are afflicted with the influence of Chaos to at least some extent. The Norscans, of course, do not see that as negative, quite the opposite. Indeed, they have no word for "mutant" in their langauge, the closest equivalent being "blessed" or "favoured." Barbarous and war-like, the Northmen of Norsca are the very epitome of the Warriors of Chaos.
  • Eastern Steppes - It is only the northernmost portion of the Eastern Steppes of the Far East that Chaos has a firm grasp upon, the region of the steppes that is roughly east of Norsca. This area is a land of frigid plains and barren grasslands, where the second main cultural group that comprises the Chaos Marauders, the Kurgan tribes, live. Mutation is rife amongst the Kurgan tribes, seen as the embodiment of divine favour. The Kurgans are almost, without exception, horse-tribes. Indeed, they are reckoned to be the most proficient horsemen in the world, and are also notable as exceptional archers. Kurgan raids are a constant and devastating threat for the northeastern Old World nation of Kislev. The Eastern Steppes are also home to tribes of other, even more savage Northmen, such as the Hung and the Tong.
  • Troll Country - The Troll Country is the most southerly of the Chaos-tainted wastelands, lying south of the mountainous peninsula of Norsca and north of Kislev. Yet this does not make it a place where Humanity can easily survive. Indeed, only the hardiest and most fearsome of the Chaos tribes make their home in this horrid place, such as the Sarls of Norsca. However, the most prolific inhabitants of these benighted wastes are Trolls themselves, hence the name. But these already fearsome creatures have been further twisted into engines of destruction by the touch of the Chaos Gods. Cockatrices too dwell in cavernous lairs, and Manticores dwell in the sky, just as Ice Dragons rule it and make their homes in the highest peaks. At the northernmost point of the Troll Country, on the cusp of far more Chaos-corrupted Norsca, the legends of the Northmen tell of the existence of a great Troll King who plots the downfall of Men.
  • Naggaroth - Naggaroth, the Land of Chill, is the bleak northern continent of the New World dominated by the Dark Elves. The northernmost areas of Naggaroth border the Chaos Wastes. Similar to the Cathayans who have built the Great Bastion to protect them from incursions on their northern border by the Northmen, the Dark Elves have built a long series of watchtowers to help defend against the armies of marauding Beastmen, Warriors of Chaos and sometimes the Daemons of Chaos that emerge from the northern Chaos Wastes periodically to assault the cities of the Druchii. It is no coincidence that the northernmost city of the Dark Elves, Ghrond, is also home to the Dark Convent led by Morathi. Ghrond was in part built so far north because it is here that the Winds of Magic, the raw power of Chaos, flow most strongly and can be wielded most easily to power the Dark Magic of the sorceresses.


  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos (6th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 6
    • 1b: pg. 10
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: Warriors of Chaos (8th Edition)
    • 2a: pp. 13
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy Battles Rulebook (8th Edition)
    • 3a: pp. 216-219
  • 4: Liber Chaotica (Background Book)