The Old World, called Elthin Arvan in the Eltharin language of the Elves[1a], is the northwestern region of the Warhammer World's sprawling eastern continent. It is the region of that great landmass where most of the realms of Men are located and is usually defined as the area west of the Worlds Edge Mountains, north of the Blood River and the Dwarf sea fortress of Barak Varr and south of the Troll Country. To its south lies the Badlands and the Southlands and eastward stretches the vast and mysterious Far East.
The Old World is home to the Human realms of the Empire, Kislev, Bretonnia, Tilea, Estalia, the independent city-state of Marienburg in the Wasteland, the Elven forest of Athel Loren, and the lawless Border Princes, as well as several Dwarf holds.
In the past, before the rise of Men, the Old World was ruled by Dwarfs and Elves, until the "War of the Beard" forever sundered the friendship that once defined relations between Dwarf and Elf. The ruins of ancient structures built by those elder races are still scattered across the coastlines and high mountains of the Old World.
The different states of the Old World are rarely allied, and although relations between the various realms generally tend to be cordial, they have been known to go to war against each other. While there are interstate rivalries over such things as trade and natural resources, which have often proved a great source of wealth for some Old Worlders, the near-constant threats to life that exist in this region make working together an occasional necessity.
The Old World has been invaded many times over the years: Greenskin hordes from the Badlands to the south, Chaos incursions from the north, Skaven attacks from their underground lairs, unrelenting armies of the Undead, and large scale raids by Dark Elf fleets have all threatened to destroy one or all of the realms of Men. However, Human lives are relatively short, and over the generations the memories of these events fade into myth and legend, and they become nothing more than stories to scare children at bedtime.
The dangers that exist beyond the borders of the Old World prevent all but the most adventurous and foolhardy from venturing out into the wider world. There are a few established trade routes to the eastern empire of Cathay and to the inhospitable lands of Araby to the south, and the famous explorer Marco Colombo "discovered" the continents of the New World across the Great Ocean to the west.
Contact with the High Elves and Dwarfs is maintained by most of the states of Men, primarily for the pursuit of rich trading and commercial opportunities. However, the vast majority of the settled population of the Old World knows little about the wider world beyond the lands they call home.
Kingdoms of the Old World
The Empire is the most preminent nation of men in the Old World, possessing black powder technology while more antiquated weapons are still more common and the norm. The Empire was founded by Sigmar Heldenhammer from a collection of warring tribes inhabiting the region that is now the Empire. Sigmar was of the Unberogen tribe who inhabited what is now Reikland, and he is now the patron deity of the Empire. The territories of the other tribes now exist as the Empire's various other states such as Ostland and Talabecland. The Empire is led by an Emperor, though he is elected from and by the ranks of the Elector Counts, rulers of each individual state. Though it has gone through various periods of fragmentation, it was reunited two centuries ago into the strong power it now is by Emperor Magnus the Pious. Most dates in Warhammer are measured with the Imperial Calendar, IC. Though the other factions would surely use their own systems, this serves to simplify things. The current Emperor is Karl Franz.
Bretonnia is a large feudal kingdom. It was formed from a collection of warring city-states by Gilles le Breton at the bidding of the Lady of the Lake, who would later become the patron deity of Bretonnia. Bretonnia is the second largest nation in the Old World after the Empire and has a strict class system where the upper class abide by principles of chivalry and are rich and educated. The lower class makes up the majority of the population, and is made up of oppressed peasants. Bretonnians eschew Black Powder weaponry as cowardly, favouring more traditional mounted combat using knights, accompanied by hordes of peasant footmen as support. The Knights of Bretonnia are regarded as the greatest in Old World, and all male nobles are expected to train in the arts of war and chivalry, or face dishonour. Most renowned of all are the Grail Knights, beings who have supped from the Holy Grail and become imbued with fay power and longevity. Bretonnia is ruled by a Royarch, a fearsome warrior-king who is almost always a Grail Knight. The current Royarch is King Louen Leoncoeur - The "Lionhearted."
Kislev is known for its freezing temperatures, obviously being based on Tzar's Russia, and is the northernmost nation of the Old World. Kislev is ruled by the Tzar and the Ice Queen and bears the brunt of most Chaos invasions. Erengrad, Kislev (the capital) and Praag are the three largest cities in Kislev, with Erengrad and Praag both being situated on the river Lynsk, Kislev's largest river. Kislev was founded around 1000 years after the Empire by Gospodar and Ungol tribes. Its main god is Ursun, the father of Bears, at least in the Gospodar influenced south. In the nomadic north, the Ungol tribes keep the worship of Dazh and Tor alive, as well as the veneration of minor spirits.
Tilea is divided up into various rival city states, the largest of which are Principality: Luccini, Miragliano, Pavona,Sartosa, Tobaro, Trantio, Remas, Verezzo. Tileans are known as extremely skilled traders and are able to swindle anyone but the cunning Arabyans into a bad bargain, and to take great offence at having their personage or accent mistaken as coming from Estalia. Most warfare in Tilea is conducted through the hiring of mercenaries, also known ad Dogs of War
Estalia is divided up into various rival kingdoms such as Magritta and Tobaro. Estalians take great offence at being mistaken for Tileans and vice versa despite the similarities of their native languages. Estalian steel is famed throughout the Old World for its quality, and Estalia was famously invaded by a Sultan of Araby, which served as the inciting incident for the Crusades. The resulting Crusade involved soldiers from as far away as The Empire and Bretonnia.
The Border Princes, also known as the Borderlands, are a loose collection of city-states and small feudal pricipalities in the far south of the Old World. The Borderlands essentially serve as the frontier of the Old World and are regularly attacked by Greenskins, Beastmen and other marauding forces. Many mercenaries come from here.
Marienburg and the Wasteland
Marienburg is a bustling city state in The Wasteland that seceded from The Empire peacefully some time ago. Marienburg is one of the largest cities in the Old World and flourishes on trade from the Great Ocean and the Sea of Claws, and trade on the River Reik which runs south to Nuln and Altdorf.
Athel Loren is a magical forest comprised of ancient, sentient trees in the southeast of Bretonnia, and is inhabited by the Wood Elves, or Asrai, as they like to call themselves. The Wood Elves have inhabited the area since the main body of High Elves was driven out almost 5000 years ago after the War of the Beard, a titanic conflict with the Dwarfs, and have become deeply bonded to the forest. While isolated colonies of Wood Elves exist elsewhere, Athel Loren is their homeland.
Worlds Edge Mountains and the Karaz Ankor
The Worlds Edge Mountains are the greatest range of mountains in the world, stretching out from the Chaos Wastes and extending into the Southlands. The mountains are also said to split into several smaller ranges that branch out of the mountain range, to that of the Black Mountains, that act as the Empire's southern borders to the Border Princes, and the Grey Mountains, that act as the western border that separates the lands of Bretonnia and the Empire. The range continues on more north until it splits in the lands of Norsca, and the other connecting to the Mountains of Mourn. In the distant past, the Worlds Edge Mountains were at the heart of the great Dwarf empire of ancient days, this empire was called the Karaz Ankor and even now, many great Dwarf holds and fortresses may be found amidst this towering range of peaks.
- The Old World is roughly equivalent in geography, culture and technological development to the historical continent of Europe on Earth during the late medieval and early Renaissance periods of real world history.