- "Mighty is Sigmar, who saves a Dwarf king from dishonour,
How can I reward him?
A hammer of war, a hammer of Iron, which fell from the sky with two tongues of fire,
From the Forge of the Gods,
Worked by Runesmiths,
Ghal Maraz its name, the Splitter of Skulls."
- —Saga of Sigmar Heldenhammer.
Ghal Maraz (Skull-Splitter in the original Khazalid) is the name of the legendary Warhammer once wielded by the founder of the Empire of Man; Sigmar Heldenhammer. It is considered the weapon from which the Warhammer universe is named after.
The mighty weapon was gifted to the young Unberogen prince in -15 IC, when a young Sigmar and his warband of Unberogen warriors rescued Dwarf High King Kurgan Ironbeard from his captivity by Orc Warlord Vagraz Headstomper and his small army of Greenskin warriors. In addition to its practical use, the Warhammer was also a symbol for the treaty of friendship between the Dwarfs and the Unberogen tribe that led to the spread of sophisticated iron-smithing, literacy, and engineering among the Tribes of Men.
Created by the Ancestor God Smednir, Ghal Maraz is one of the greatest weapons ever made, rivalling even the great Ancestor Weapons of old. Such was its power and the secrets of its make that not even Alaric the Mad, legendary Runesmith, could create a weapon rivalling its power. Such are the mysteries of the hammer that it has even been suggested that it possesses some form of sentience, favouring some users over others. What is known is that the weapon has never failed its wielder in battle.
In addition to the blessings of the Dwarfen Ancestor Gods, the Skull-Splitter is also anointed by the mighty war-god Ulric, Sigmar's own patron, ever since the day when Artur the Teutogen threw the future Emperor into the God's menhir-ringed Flame. Miraculously, Sigmar emerged from the fire unharmed, his weapon ablaze with the Wolf God's cold fury, and defeated Artur, thereby bringing the Teutogens into the Empire and establishing himself as Ulric's Champion. With the blessings of Smednir and Ulric combined, Ghal Maraz is the bane of all that is unholy - for it has defeated Daemon Princes of Khorne, the dreadful Everchosen of Chaos, and has even destroyed the Lord of the Undead, Nagash himself. Indeed, few are the creatures of evil who can bear to look upon its radiant nimbus and survive the experience.
When Sigmar vacated the Imperial Throne in the year of 50 IC, it is unclear whether he left his Warhammer upon the throne along with his crown, or whether he took it with him. Historical texts differ on this point: some say that the Emperor left the Warhammer on the throne, others that he took it with him, and still, others that the Dwarfs returned it to a future Emperor some years later, saying that Sigmar had left it with them on his journey to the East.
The exact powers of the hammer are a state secret of the Empire and not shared with outsiders. In the legends, Ghal Maraz is depicted as vastly more powerful than the weapon currently wielded by the Emperor. Stories claim that the hammer was able to detect the servants of Chaos hidden among humanity, slay an orc with a single blow, could abjure daemons and other entities of the Realm of Chaos, shielded him from harmful magic and even that it could fly and once destroyed a Daemon Prince with a single strike. Despite the historical controversy, the Cult of Sigmar and the Imperial State, in general, both insist that the mighty Warhammer in the possession of the incumbent Karl Franz is the original. The discrepancy between the powers the hammer exhibits, which are strengthening its wielder, bypassing non-magical armour and renewing the vitality of anyone who holds it, is explained with historical exaggeration.
- The haft of Ghal Maraz is said to have been made of rowan (also known as witchwood). For this reason, rowan is seen as particulary holy by the Cult of Sigmar.
- Dwarfs- Stone and Steel, pg.59-60.
- 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 MceNill
- Let the Great Axe Fall (Short Story) by Graham McNeill
- Birth of a Legend (Short Story) by Gav Thorpe
- The Witchhunter's Handbook, pg.47