- “There are many paths to order and knowledge; may the Old Ones guide us.”
- —Determining the Great Plan.[5a]
The Old Ones were an ancient, hyper-intelligent, and near omnipotent starfaring species that may have been reptilian in nature. The Old Ones served as the mysterious shaping hand of the world. The Old Ones created the world's current geography and climate, and created new sentient races to inhabit it including the Slann and Lizardmen, Elves, Dwarfs, Men, Ogres and Halflings. The Old Ones embarked on this journey in an effort to create a world capable of resisting and combating the threat of Chaos.
The coming of the Old Ones
The origin of the Lizardmen is a tale that goes back to a primeval era when the world was dark and largely encased by thick sheets of ice. Long before Chaos came to the world, in a time before Elves, Dwarfs or Men, the land was ruled by titanic monsters. These enormous creatures battled for dominance and the warmest regions, those nearest the equatorial band, became the most highly contested zones. Some of these life forms were unthinking creatures of pure instinct, others were established civilizations that rose and fell in that forgotten age. Of that time of eternal twilight there is little knowledge, although buried ruins and descendant creatures still remain.
Into this brutal age came a mysterious race of god-like beings that plied the heavens in silvered ships. These strangers, known as the Old Ones, came from beyond the stars where they ruled an empire that spanned not just the cosmos, but time itself. Their technology was advanced beyond imagination — to them, astrology and astronomy, science and magic were all one and the same. Each world in the Old Ones’ empire was linked by a gateway. Some were small portals, allowing an individual to travel inconceivable distances with but a single step. Others, often situated in the cold void of space, were portals so large that vessels the size of moons could pass through. In their travels across the endless expanse of the universe, one planet caught their eye, for they saw in it a unique and boundless potential.
The Old Ones decreed that this world would have a central place in their unknowable plans and stellar gates at either pole were created to allow easy access to this hopeful new colony. Before the designs for their newest planet could be fully set in motion, the Old Ones had to reshape it to better fit their needs. Using powers beyond mortal comprehension, they shifted the planet’s orbit towards the warming sun. In time, the ice sheets retreated, verdant forests soon growing to cover over the newly revealed land.
Children of the gods
The Old Ones created servants to tend to their needs. Thus was the first spawning of the Slann Mage-Priests begun. They were the grand viziers, trusted creatures of prodigious intellect, and the only beings able to withstand direct contact with the near-omnipotent Old Ones and comprehend their teachings. It was the Slann who were to guide the lesser races whose creation would soon follow. For upon the world, the Old Ones had encountered many primitive creatures, including those that would one day be transformed into the first Elves, Dwarfs and Men. Powerful and far-sighted, the Old Ones could shape new life forms even from these imperfect materials. They did encounter some creatures whose existence was incompatible with their future plans. As the climate warmed, the Saurus were created to destroy these anomalies and soon vast armies marched to war — a fight to eradicate those native races that needed to be removed.
The Old Ones frequently used the polar gateways to travel the cosmos, but in the meantime they created further spawnings of Slann to execute their plans. While the Saurus brought order to the world with their brutal campaigns of destruction, greater projects were undertaken. By command of the Old Ones, the Slann established the rainforest temple-cities in the region that would one day become Lustria. The Skinks were the technicians and the overseers; it was their role to direct the beasts of burden to haul and heft the heavy loads. In this manner, the Lizardmen built fabulous structures that rose high above the steaming jungles.
The Old Ones’ instructions to the Slann were very specific as to the locations where the temple-cities, and the many other architectural wonders, were constructed across the globe. Each one was raised up purposefully to form a vital nexus in a world-spanning ‘geomantic web’, an interlinked matrix of natural earth-energy that encompassed the planet. Each site was linked to the next and the Old Ones were able to draw upon this vast reservoir of energy to manipulate untold devices and enchantments of great power.
The Slann Mage-Priests were also able to tap into the geomantic web, and with its energies they could shift continents and further aid the unknowable plans of the Old Ones. So long as each link remained connected, they could be used to telepathically communicate with one another over vast distances. By entering a trance, the Mage-Priests could transmit pure thoughts and hold councils of communion.
The Great Catastrophe
Main Article: Great Catastrophe.
All was not well with the world, however. Distressing signs began to manifest outside the gateways at the planet’s poles. They were but portals to another dimension, and it was from there that trouble arose. In the swirling madness of that otherworldly realm, nascent beings stirred, malign intelligences that resented the Old Ones’ trespasses.
Disaster came suddenly. Whether due to enemy attacks or structural failure, the Old Ones’ great polar gates, the means by which they traversed the stars, collapsed upon themselves. The eldritch machineries of the gates crashed down upon the world in a burning hail of star-metal. Simultaneously, the poles of the world imploded, opening rifts into the beyond. Chaos spewed forth from the spirit realm. Meteors of congealed magic, a substance known as warpstone, left weirdling contrails that set the skies aflame. The planet shuddered under thunderous impacts, with some meteorites burrowing like animals, gnawing deep into the world’s foundation. A layer of warpstone dust was cast into the air, its mutating properties causing untold atrocities. Across the globe, the seas churned and the forest canopies shook, convulsing with grotesque growth. Where the northern gateway had once been, there now throbbed a second moon, a green satellite made of pure warpstone -- Morrslieb. Many cries were lifted to that sickly orb, as hideously twisted creatures were born, howling in their agony.
As their portals collapsed, the Old Ones disappeared, their fate unknown. Yet the disaster could have been worse, if the Old Ones’ most powerful servants, the Slann, had not staved off complete destruction by sealing much of the rent in reality. So great was the strain of that undertaking that half of their number were slain — their brains melted by the incongruity of Chaos. Despite their sacrifice, the Slann could only shrink the gap; they could neither close it nor stem the tide of magical energy that swept the planet. The Old Ones were gone, and the Lizardmen and the fledgling races were now abandoned before a new and diabolical foe.
Cult to the Old Ones
After the disappearance of the Old Ones, as the Slann withdrew into their own cerebral worlds, the Skink Priests - the most intelligent of their kind — became the daily leaders of the Lizardmen. It was their ceaseless industry that restored the temple-cities, rebuilding everything for which they had architectural plans. It was they who ordered the overgrown jungle cut back to develop the roads between temple-cities.
And so, over the years, the Lizardmen, once the most advanced civilisation to walk the world, regressed to a primitive state. The Old Ones took on the aspect of distant gods, worshipped by the Lizardmen and called upon in times of need by the Skinks. They began to make bloody sacrifices to attract the attention of their missing gods. The relics that they collected upon the orders of the Slann were held in wonder; all hope of understanding the technology of their function lost, replaced with superstitious ceremony and ritual.
While superstitious acts have gained in popularity since the loss of the Old Ones, these were taken to horrific new levels with the coming of the new god Sotek. Inspired by Tehenhauin, Skink Priests led the ritualistic slaughter of untold thousands of ratmen. These Skaven were sacrificed in horrific fashion - sometimes thrown alive into writhing pits of serpents, other times split open and choice organs proffered to the heavens. If the Skaven was lucky, he was simply beheaded by a Saurus executioner. It is recorded that Kroq-Gar, a mighty Saurus leader, has personally delivered the killing strike to over a thousand Skaven warlords since the Rise of Sotek. Entire temple-cities would turn out to watch the sacrifice of an important Skaven commander, the vast plazas filling with clamourous Skinks. For the most part, the inscrutable Slann Mage-Priests leave such barbaric practices alone, although they could no longer ignore the populous rise of the new god Sotek, nor could they rein in the base practice of offering up sacrifices to attract the blessings of the gods.
Those few madmen in the Old World that know of their existence claim that the Old Ones, in their prime, transcended even the divine powers of the Gods of the Old World and even those of the Dark Gods of Chaos, as they existed before the Divine fully awakened. They claim this first amongst all races could summon and bind the Gods to do their bidding, and their actions, deliberate and otherwise, had sculpted the formless Void into what would become the womb of all deities.[4a]
Known Old Ones
- Huanchi - Jaguar God.
- Sotek - Serpent God.
- Tepok - The Feathered Serpent, the Inscrutable.
- Tlanxla - Warrior-God, rides into battle atop a Sky-Chariot.[2a]
- Tlazcotl - The Impassive.
- Tzcatli - The one who gives strength to warrior's arm.[2a]
- Tzunki - God of Water.
- Uxmac - Messenger of the gods.
- Xholankha - The Lost.[2a]
- Xhotl - Chooser of those destined for greatness.[2a]
- Xokha - God of Stone, Strength and Duty.
- Warhammer Armies: Lizardmen (7th Edition).
- 2 Warhammer Armies: Lizardmen (8th Edition).
- 2a: pg. 36
- 3: Total War: WARHAMMER II
- 3a: Determining the Great Plan
- 4 Warhammer RPG 2nd Edition: Realms of Sorcery
- 4a: pg. 16