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Not to be confused with the Gromril-clad Ironbreakers.

ShieldbreakerProfile

A Shieldbreaker.

“Axes ready. Shields up. Put yer backs into it, lads. They’re not getting past us today.”
—Anonymous Shieldbreaker[2a]

Shieldbreakers are a specialised corps of underground, Dwarfen fighters.

Overview

Chaos and Greenskin incursions have overrun many Dwarfholds in the Worlds Edge Mountains over the centuries. To protect their remaining fortress cities, the Dwarfs have trained elite Soldiers who specialise in fighting deep underground. They are the Shieldbreakers, doughty warriors that seek to stem the tide of evil and safeguard their people. While most Shieldbreakers are Dwarfs, members of other races join their ranks from time to time in exchange for Dwarfen gold. Young Dwarfs from the Empire often become Shieldbreakers to prove their mettle and show solidarity with their mountain kin.[1a]

A Day in the Life

The life of a Shieldbreaker is one of honour and blood, sacrifice, and duty to their clan. Each day when they rise, they recite the oaths of loyalty, a litany of the names of their ancestors and the glory of their clan, ending with a pledge to spill the blood of the clan’s enemies. They will then spend several hours servicing their armour and weapons, as is the Dwarf way, sharpening blades to razor-fine edges and polishing armour to a dull shine.[2a]

The rest of the day is typically spent patrolling and training with their weapons. If they are garrisoned near the clan’s hold they will spend hours marching the tunnels, hunting any Goblins, Orcs or Skaven foolish enough to venture up from the depths. Periodically they will rest and spend an hour or so drilling, the clash of arms echoing up and down the tunnels. Finally they will return to their camp and finish the day doing what Dwarfs do best – drinking![2a]

The Shieldbreaker's Oath

ThrunborGimrigsonProfile

A Shieldbreaker.

A Shieldbreaker’s first and last duty is to their clan. Whether they have taken up the title for honour or gold (something equally interchangeable for Dwarfs) they are expected to put no power, lord, or god before their oath to the clan. Even when a Shieldbreaker is far from his clan’s holdings he is expected to always conduct himself with honour and courage, mindful that he represents not only himself, but the clan wherever he travels.[2a]

A close second to a Shieldbreaker’s duty to the clan is his duty to the Dwarf race. He is expected to constantly fight against the foes of the Dwarf wherever they are found. As Dwarfs are slow to forgive and have long memories, their enemies can be found almost anywhere.[2a]

While most Shieldbreakers are Dwarfs, there are rare instances when a member of another race will take up arms and oaths for the Dwarfs. Humans have been known to become Shieldbreakers, usually those who live close to Dwarf holds or have befriended a Dwarf.[2a]

Sometimes when a Human fights side by side with Dwarfs and impresses the doughty warriors with his prowess, he will be invited to serve the clan. However, such a life is far from easy for a non-Dwarf, and they must constantly struggle to prove themselves with feats of daring and courage in combat and strength and endurance otherwise.[2a]

In fact the first test of a non-Dwarf Shieldbreaker is usually to be taken deep underground, without light or food, and forced to find their way back to the surface. It is an easy task for most Dwarfs, but can be fatal for softer races.[2a]

Notable Shieldbreakers

  • Grod Thunderfist – Grod was in Mittleresdorf on business – he was trying to recruit anyone willing to risk their skins for a few crowns to travel with him back to the embattled Dwarfen city of Zhufbar. It turned out that not many people had been willing to take up the mission, since gold would be of little use when they’d been slaughtered by Greenskins. Naturally, Grod was a bit discouraged, but he was not about to go back empty-handed. The Dwarf had been in his share of battles, and looked it. Aside from the battle scars that decorated the majority of his extremities, he also had a sizeable bald patch on the back of his head – the result of losing part of his scalp.[4a]
  • Thrunbor Gimrigson – Thrunbor grew up in Nuln, where his father was still a respected craftsman. Having heard tales from the Longbeards of his clan, Thrunbor decided to head to the World’s Edge Mountains and see the cities of his ancestors for himself. Humans would not understand the grandeur of such places, but he found himself inspired. Thrunbor stayed there for many years, pledging his axe to help in their defence. He fought in the lightless depths beneath many Dwarfholds, proving his worth. The Empire, however, is also his home and when the Storm of Chaos was unleashed, Thrunbor decided to return. The enemies there are not always as obvious as those in the mountains, but they are no less deadly.[3a]

Trivia

By similarity of name, it is possible that the Shieldbreakers were formed by Nurn Shieldbreaker, or at least inspired by his name. During his reign, the Dwarfs were engaged in the Goblin Wars, when most of their holds were besieged and lost, prompting for an elite force specialized in underground warfare. Again, by similarity of name as well as role, the Ironbreakers might be considered an elite within the Shieldbreakers, if not a separate organization.

Sources

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Core Rulebook (2nd Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 53
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Career Compendium (2nd Edition)
    • 2a: pg. 191
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Ashes of Middenheim (2nd Edition)
    • 3a: pg. 93
  • 4: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Plundered Vaults (2nd Edition)
    • 4a: pg. 25

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