- "When the sun rests, and the world is dark, and the great fires are lit, and the ale is poured into flagons, then it is time to sing sagas as the Dwarfs do. And the greatest saga is the saga of Sigmar, mightiest warrior. Harken now, hear these words, and live in hope."
- —The Legend of Sigmar.
The Cult of Sigmar, sometimes known as the Church of Sigmar, Holy Temple of Sigmar, the Clergy of Sigmar or simply as the Sigmarite Cult, is a state-official religious organization that has dedicated their existence to administrating the worship and prayers of the Empire's patron god; Sigmar Heldenhammer. The Cult of Sigmar was founded by the wild-eyed friar Johann Helstrum in year of 73 IC, where he appeared before the masses to relate a vision that he experienced Sigmar kneeling before Ulric, who then placed the crown of godhood upon his brow and took his place amongst the Old World Pantheons. Such was the popularity of this Cult that Johann became the first Grand Theogonist of the now state-official Cult of Sigmar. Ever since then, the Cult of Sigmar has steadily grown over the centuries until it has arguably become one of the most powerful religious force within the domains of the Empire, so strong that Sigmar has supplemented Lord Ulric as the Empire's new patron God of War.
As of today, the Cult of Sigmar has become an essential part in Imperial society. Nearly every city, town or village within the Empire has dedicated a portion of their wealth and land to the creation and maintenance of a Sigmarite Church, from which an official Priest of the Cult will attend to the spiritual well-being of its citizenry, whether it be through holy words of prayer or through heroic actions and trials by combat. Due to their fanatical devotion to their Warrior God, the Cult of Sigmar demands that its followers fight all forms of evil in the world with the strength of their arms as well as their faith, with many of its priests accompanying the Empire's armies when they march off to war, following and honouring that creed. This sense of righteousness, self-determination, and holy attention from a caring but demanding God has ensured that the citizenry of the Empire is a people of strong faith, will, and unconquerable spirit.
Yet his true gifts to his people are those of healing and hope. His greatest mercy unto them was to unite them under the indisputable belief that they could be something more. Every day he grants hope to his people, and pride in their noble heritage that they might summon the strength to overcome their foes, and ultimately cleanse their blood, body and soul from the dark influence of Chaos. Alongside Ulric, Sigmar watches over the Men of the Reik when they ride to war, and alongside Ulric does he bellow and roar for death and glory. And should those of the faithful die, he shall be ascended into the halls of Sigmar's realm, where he shall fight alongside him in the eternal struggle of safeguarding humanity against the ever-growing threat of the Forces of Chaos.
- "The Ruinous Powers care nothing for why a mortal might fall into their worship – they will trick, coerce and snare whoever they can, for each fallen soul makes them a little stronger. The faith of mankind is different. We’re not tricked into the love of Sigmar. Our faith is no snare, nor can a man be coerced into a life of holiness. We must fight through our doubt to see the truth, just as a man must fight to crest the summit of a mountain. Take away that doubt, take away that struggle, and we’d be no better than the raving fallen who gibber at the sight of visions and cheap magick."
- —Adso Theiss, tutoring Luthor Huss of the true meaning of Faith.
Sigmar is the Empire, and the Empire is Sigmar. He was the founder of the Empire and its first ruler. With his ascension to godhood, he became a legendary forbear worshipped by the folk of the Empire as a stern, vengeful warrior god whose covenant with his people is to defend them as long as the principles upon which his Empire was founded upon continue to stand. This is why the people of the Empire refer to themselves as Sigmar's Folk or the Sons of Sigmar -- and why the Emperor is referred to as the Heir of Sigmar regardless of his or her ancestry or religious beliefs. Sigmar himself never claimed godhood nor immortality in his lifetime.
Indeed, he was in every sense a man of the people, fighting alongside his men on the front-line, eating their food and otherwise living much akin to them when on the march. Like many of the ancient tribesmen, Sigmar was a most devout Ulrican, and would often attribute his successes on the battlefield to the favour of the Wolf God. Ironically for a man who was Ulric's most pious servant, the Cult of Sigmar has long been in contention with the Cult of Ulric. The latter claiming the Sigmarite's heretical ways have driven the Empire from its true god, while the Sigmarites are quick to decry the Ulricans as nothing more than primitive barbarians who worship an uncaring deity. Nonetheless, this level of conflict only exists between the hardliners of each cult, and for the most part, the Cults of Sigmar and Ulric maintain a civil enough level of mutual, if unspoken, respect.
All gods are great, but it is Sigmar who is beloved above all by many in the Empire. For he walked as a man amongst them, and founded their great Empire. It is said by the citizenry of the Empire that it is Sigmar who perceived to watch over them with greater care than all the other, more distant deities. Such is this sense of vigil from a high being has ensured that the worship of Sigmar takes place throughout Imperial society, and often his faith is inseparable from daily life within the Empire.
While it is true that the other gods possess great worldly power and secular influence over the Empire, none are entwined more deeply into the very fabric of the Imperial identity than Sigmar, and it is not uncommon for his faith and followers to permeate Imperial politics and life. While other gods may possess mighty Warrior-Priests and devoted Templar Knights in their own right, the wars of the Empire are Sigmar's personal battles. And while it may be the Nobility and Emperor who declare war, it is the common man's faith in Sigmar that drives him to take up the sword and take his place amongst the battle line, and it is the word of the Warrior Priests of Sigmar that instills within him the courage to meet the horrors that seek to overwhelm them.
The followers of Sigmar are singularly devoted to proving themselves worthy of their Lord's holy legacy and to protect his Empire from the adversaries of Men. Defence in the watchword of the Sigmarites: defence of the Empire, defence of its peoples, defence of their hearts, minds and souls. So watchful are they that the Sigmarites veer often into paranoia and superstition, always wary of Sigmar's disapproval or looking for any sign of the handiwork of those that seek to corrupt. Chaos never sleeps, so say the Men of Sigmar, and so never does the cult rest in its vigil. The favour of Sigmar allows his servants to scour his enemies from the earth.
Whether it be calling down holy fire to purge the Greenskins, scourging the undead from their dark sorcery or bringing his sanctified wrath against the terrors of the North, the powers of Sigmar has always been evident in providing a supernatural means to combat such horrific foes.
- "I am Sigmar. I am Golden. I am God. Harken for my name, for it will echo redoubled through the ages. It will strike down my enemies wherever they may hide. It will be heard when the need is greatest."
- —Deus Sigmar.[1j]
Like most Empire folk, Sigmarites are insular, superstitious, and suspicious, but they view this as a sensible reaction to the corrupt world in which they live. Their self-appointed duty as guardians of the Empire and its people has brought them into contact with all manner of evil, which they have dutifully recorded in a sealed library found deep within the cult’s high temple. Thus, much like the Dwarfs, a race they revere as Sigmar’s strongest allies, Sigmarites never forget, and fully trust none. This, they claim, is a paranoia not born of fear or ignorance, but of experience.[1b]
Mental fortitude and defensive tactics are of paramount importance to Sigmarites, who view open assault or loose thinking as open gates for corruption and heresy. However, nothing is more important that defending the Empire Sigmar created, and they are willing to go to almost any length, even open, blind assault, to ensure this.[1b] To the cult, Sigmar was a leader and warrior, but not a universal saviour. He is not expected to take care of the woes of all his worshippers, but instead serves as an encouragement for Man to stand up for themselves in the face of adversity.[5a]
The cult also prizes strength and strong leadership, qualities they associate with Sigmar himself. They use these traits to promote the same strength amongst the folk of the Empire, and strike at the heart of heresy, the influence of the Dark Gods, wherever it may lie.[1b] War in itself, however, is merely a means to an end, a sombre affair designed to protect civilization from its numerous enemies. In this, the philosophy on war differs from the Cult of Ulric, for whom war needs no excuse and is treated as a natural force.[3a]
In the most devoutly Sigmarite provinces, such as Reikland, nearly every citizen attends a weekly "throng," a temple service with a sermon. Sigmar worshippers also go to the temple for confession, advice, purification, and training as part of the local militia.[2a]
- Obey your orders.[2a]
- Aid Dwarf-folk.[2a]
- Work to promote the unity of the Empire, even at the cost of individual liberty.[2a]
- Bear true allegiance to His Imperial Majesty the Emperor.[2a]
- Root out and destroy Greenskins, the servants of Chaos, and those who use corrupt magic, wherever they may hide.[2a]
Penances from Sigmar fall into one of two categories: destruction of one of his enemies, such as greenskins and chaos cults, and strengthening of the Empire. An example of the latter category would be rebuilding a rural Imperial community.[2a]
- "No man can be judged until he stands before his god."
- —Alaric, High Theogonist of Sigmar.[4a]
Although every temple has its own traditions for initiating new members into the cult, the general process varies little. First, the novitiates (the Sigmarite term for initiates) is accepted into an order by a priest, an event that is often marked with ritual shaving. Next, they are taught the ways of Sigmar. Finally, when the training is completed, the novitiate is tested by a ranking member of the cult.[1b]
Most temples only accept novitiates when young; but, theoretically, anyone called to Sigmar, regardless of age, can join the cult. Those temples that practise ritual shaving have many different traditions, but hammer or comet-shaped tonsures are common.[1b]
Novitiates rarely have any free time between the daily prayers and degrading chores they perform. What little they do have is often spent in contemplation of sacred texts. Many temples have a master of novitiates who leads weekly lessons in history, theology, literacy and Dwarf lore, but it is also common to attach novitiates to a priest who acts as their “Father,” and teaches them what they need to know using whatever, often brutal, methods he prefers.[1b]
Eventually, when their superiors deem the time is right, novitiates are tested. Common tests included perfectly reciting the Twelve Prayers of Righteousness, or singing the Canticles of Sigmar without error, followed by intensive questioning by ranking members of the cult. However, there is no standard, and tests can take many forms. Some temples in southern Averland demand novitiates kill a Greenskin and carve the “Litany of Great Deeds” into its chest. And one Stirlander flagellant order subjects all novitiates to the “Rite of the Three Brothers” after a three-day fast, which is considerably more painful than it sounds.[1b][1c]
No two cultists of Sigmar are the same. The varying orders, individual temples, and widely divergent, local traditions demand Sigmar’s representatives wear a broad array of different ceremonial outfits and cultivate some truly bizarre hairstyles.[1c]
The Order of the Silver Hammer includes both warrior priests and witch hunters.[2a] Its warrior priests are almost always found wearing yellow-detailed black robes over protective leathers. Sacred breastplates—emblazoned with griffons, comets or crosses—and wide, high-necked gorgets are the preferred choices for armour, but cheaper chainmail is often worn in their stead. Hair is commonly shaved when a novitiate is elevated to the order, although some priests allow patches to grow back, where they carefully shave holy symbols or solemn liturgies.[1c]
The Order of the Anvil is the Cult's monastic wing, whose members live in worldly isolation and preserve Sigmar's deeds and law.[2a] Its different monasteries vary in their required garb and hairstyles. Simple grey or black habits are common, although brown is known in the east of the Empire, and green or orange are worn in some isolated monasteries of Talabecland and Reikland. Hair is usually shaved, with novitiates tonsured, but this again varies, with some monasteries demanding that hair grow wild, have stripes shaved through it, or be caught in hundreds of tight braids. Wide, high-necked collars are also common, mirroring the gorgets of the warrior priests.[1c]
The massive Order of the Torch, the largest of the Cult's orders, comprises the local Sigmarite clergymen all across the Empire.[2a] In terms of vestment, is even more diverse. Black robes may be the standard, with brown and grey also common, but some temples wear white, orange, red or even purple robes, as dictated by local traditions and superstitions—although each variance requires, at some point, permission from the Grand Theogonist. High, wide collars are again common, although far from universal, as are shaved heads. The typical hammers, comets, griffons, holy seals and prayer parchments are usually displayed in one fashion or another, although some temples teach that such open displays of faith idolise the objects rather than glorifying Sigmar. Another common tradition is to wear holy books, sometimes at the waist, sometimes upon the back, as a symbolic burden. This is taken to extremes by some priests, who wear miniature holy texts on their foreheads to protect their minds from heresy, tying them in place with strips of leather.[1c]
The smaller Order of the Cleansing Flame is made up of inquisitors and witch hunters.[2a] It tightly controls its ceremonial dress in the same way it carefully monitors its members. Robes are black, detailed in red, and hair is cropped close to the skull, with elaborate tonsures sported by ranking members of the order. Floor-length, hooded, black cloaks are also worn, although novitiates may not raise the hood. Unlike the other primary orders, this ceremonial garb is normally only worn on important occasions. When travelling, Cleansing Flames wear whatever clothes allow them to fulfil their order’s purpose, which include dressing in the garb of other orders, or disguising themselves as peasants or travelling merchants. No matter what they wear, all members of the order own a holy amulet with a single flame in its centre; this is the badge of their order, used to prove they are on Sigmar’s business.[1c]
Signs of Sigmar
Cultists of Sigmar have two primary salutes. The first is the “V” finger salute, representing the twin-tailed comet. The cultists hold their left hand on their chest, right arm thrust to the front, hand raised to head level with the fist clenched, and the first and second fingers extended. This sign is reversed (palm facing the face, rather than facing the person saluted) to be used as a taunt and insult to Sigmar’s enemies. This salute is very popular with insolent children.[1d]
Sigmar’s second sign is a ward, and involves making a hammer shape on the trunk. The cultist’s forefinger touches the navel, the “V” of the collarbone, the right chest, and the left chest. It is commonly employed as a shield against the forces of Chaos.[1d]
When seeking the guidance of Sigmar, the cultist will take the same “V” finger salute and run it across his eyes in the hopes of seeing something he missed the first time around. When a Sigmarite slaps his fist, it’s an invocation of anger, but when he pounds his fist in his palm, he’s urging restraint.[1d]
Every town, city, and village in the Empire has a temple of Sigmar. These range from the byzantine Grand Cathedral in Altdorf to the multitude of village chapels whose only administrator is a travelling priest that stops by once a week. Most pious households also have a small shrine of Sigmar, and wayshrines line the Empire's roads.[2a]
List of Known Miracles
Sigmarite Petty Magic
The following two prayers are solely taught by the Cult of Sigmar:[1e]
- Blessing of Sigmar: Sigmar’s signature weapon, the hammer, becomes imbued with the God’s power with this prayer.[1e]
- Blessing of Unification: Your devotional prayers can stir ancient feelings of patriotism and a sense of fraternity in a single Empire Human within range, making enemies think twice about even considering attacking another Empire human or Dwarf.[1e]
Divine Lore of Sigmar
Each of Sigmar’s primary orders gives importance to different prayers. The orders of the Anvil and Torch, the largest orders of the Cult, practise defensive rites, focussing upon catechisms that protect the body and mind from harm or influence (Sigmar the Anvil). The Silver Hammers follow some of this doctrine, but also teach prayers to smite Sigmar’s enemies, knowing that the best defence can often be offence (Sigmar the Hammer). Lastly, while the Cleansing Flames believe they must take Sigmar’s purifying fires to their enemies, they also teach warding prayers, designed to protect the Order from the foul corruptions of the Ruinous Powers (Sigmar the Purifier). The other Orders of Sigmar use variations upon these themes, with most preferring defensive prayers over the offensive.[1f]
- Armour of Righteousness: A nimbus of power protects you from harm.[1f]
- Beacon of Courage: The power and majesty of Sigmar fills you, making you shine out like a beacon in the night. Any frightened or terrified ally that can see you is inspired by your faith and bravery.[1f]
- Deny the Heretic: You pray over an inanimate object, such as a door or wall, and greatly strengthen it.[1f]
- Comet of Sigmar: You throw a fiery missile that takes the form of Sigmar’s famed twin-tailed comet. The miniature comet streaks towards an opponent of your choice within range.[1f][1g]
- Hammer of Sigmar: Your hammer is imbued with Sigmar’s power.[1g]
- Healing Hand: Your touch heals an injured person.[1g]
- Heart of the Gryphon: Your strident prayers embolden Sigmar’s chosen, filling them with courage and determination, rendering them fearless.[1g]
- Heed Not the Witch: Your prayers beseech Sigmar to protect you from his direst enemies, those who use dark magics.[1g]
- Immaculate Flesh: Denying the power of Chaos with fiery passion, you implore Sigmar to protect you from the Ruinous Powers’ perverting ways.[1g]
- Soulfire: The purifying flames of Sigmar surround you, as his wrath manifests on earth.[1g]
- Vanquish: Your urgent prayers cause your allies to redouble their efforts to destroy Sigmar’s foes.[1g]
- Word of Damnation: Your righteous prayer fills a heretic with hopelessness as he is faced with the prospect of his own damnation.[1h]
Symbols and religious Icons
- Ghal Maraz - The hammer of Sigmar, a creation of unparalleled skill and deadliness even amongst the forces of the Dwarfs who made it, is in itself as much a symbol of the God of the Empire and his cult as it is a supremely powerful weapon. A symbol of Imperial unity, and the defence of the Empire. Alongside the Twin Tailed Comet that heralded Sigmar's coming into the world, it is the most often utilized symbol of the Sigmarite cult. To this day, the hammer remains in the keep of the Emperors, brandished into battle by their very hands in the greatest conflicts the Empire has known, cleaving apart skulls and crushing bones as it did when Sigmar drove the darkness from the land millennia ago. The hammer is also a symbol of the friendship between the Empire and the Dwarf race.
- Twin Tailed Comet - The coming of Sigmar was heralded by a soaring comet that lit the night with twin tails of fire. Since then, it has become both a symbol of prophecy as well as one of the many icons of Sigmar's faith. The twin-tailed comet has appeared two other times in Imperial history, in IC 1999 over the capital of Ostermark, Mordheim, prior to its destruction when the comet crashed in the middle of the city, destroying most of the civic structures and killing a substantial portion of the population. That particular comet was given the name "Sigmar's Hammer", since it was looked on as a herald of Sigmar's will, and since it destroyed the city of Mordheim, considered the capital of sinners, gamblers, drinkers, whores, and criminals, the comet has also become an icon of imminent Sigmarite judgment. A twin-tailed comet also attended the appearance of Valten of Lachenbad in IC 2522, and he bore the image of the heavenly icon on his chest. These were looked on as largely irrefutable evidence of his status as the avatar of Sigmar.
- Imperial Cross - A long-standing symbol of Imperial unity, the top three arms stand for the northern, western, and eastern tribes of the ancient Empire, and the bottom refers to the Dwarfs, the Empire's oldest and staunchest allies. It has connotations of unity and oaths fulfilled.
- Griffon - Popular following the 24th century and the reign of Emperor Magnus I ('the Pious'). This was Magnus's personal heraldry, and has been adopted by many subsequent Emperors, most notably the 'Griffon Emperors' of Reikland. The griffon has also been adopted by the Church of Sigmar in general and by Grand Theogonist Volkmar in particular. The War Altar of Sigmar carries an ornate statue of a Griffon wielding Ghal Maraz, the emblem of Magnus's dynasty. On his chest, Volkmar wears the Jade Griffon, a protective amulet of great power fashioned in the likeness of Magnus's heraldry. In his sermons and private journals, Volkmar refers frequently to Magnus's deeds and words.
- 1: Tome of Salvation (WFRP2)
- 2: Core Rules (WFRP4)
- 3: The Black Plague: Blighted Empire (Novel) by C. L. Werner
- 3a: Chapter Eight
- 4: Liber Chaotica (Background Book)
- 4a: pg. 22
- 5: Gotrek and Felix: City of the Damned (Novel) by David Guymer
- 5a: Chapter Eight
- The Life of Sigmar (Background Book) pg. 6 - 18, 19 - 22, 23 - 34, 35 - 39, 40 - 48, 49 - 56, 57 - 82, 83 - 86, 87 - 98
- Heldenhammer (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Empire (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- God-King (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Let the Great Axe Fall (Short Story) by Graham McNeill
- Birth of a Legend (Short Story) by Gav Thorpe
- The Empire At War (Background Book) pg. 81 - 102
- Tome of Blessings (WFRP3) pg 15
- Signs of Faith (WFRP3) pg. 4 - 6, 13