"Three things make the Empire great; faith, steel, and gunpowder."
The Empire, sometimes referred to as the Empire of Man, is an electoral monarchy composed of feudal states that is the largest and most important of the Human nations in the Old World. It was forged by the warrior-king and ascended deity Sigmar[3k] from the primitive tribes of Human barbarians who inhabited what became the lands of the southern Empire more than 2500 years ago.[2a][2b] Although not as skilled in craftsmanship as the Dwarfs or in magic as the High Elves, the people of the Empire are not beholden by the limits of tradition to the same extent as those elder races and continue to progress culturally, technologically and magically.[2d]
Having yet to succumb to any threat, external or internal, it is the faith, the sense of righteousness, and the unconquerable spirit of the realm's citizens which gives the Empire its strength, as well as the ruthless efficiency of its military and religious orders.[1l][2s] The greatest nation of the Old World, the Empire is ruled by an Emperor and is composed of the descendants of the ancient tribes of Mankind united by the great Human warrior Sigmar Heldenhammer after the Battle of Black Fire Pass.[1e][3n] Sigmar was deified after his death by his people and his promise of eternal aid from the Empire for the kingdoms of the Dwarfs still stands today.
This action solidified the relationship between Men and Dwarfs and planted the seeds for the burgeoning Empire through trade between the two races.[1b] Today, the Empire is led by Karl Franz I,[1f][3a][3k] who rules from his court in the Imperial capital city of Altdorf.[2d] There are ten provincial states in the Empire, each ultimately ruled by a feudal lord known as an Elector Count who owes his or her power to the unifying figurehead and ultimate authority of the Emperor.[1f] It should be noted that the Empire is not truly a single, centralized nation, but instead a confederation of individual, feudal states united only by the common tongue of Reikspiel, a shared faith in Sigmar and a mutual Imperial culture.[1g] The Imperial states correspond roughly to the ancient tribal territories brought together by Sigmar when he united the tribes of Man beneath one crown to defeat the greenskins of the Old World.[1g][2d]
The southern Imperial states -- Averland, Reikland, Stirland, Talabecland and Wissenland -- resemble a broad chalice, partially surrounded by near-impassable mountain ranges from which drain the mighty rivers which are the lifeblood of Imperial trade. To the west of these are the Grey Mountains, beyond which lies the Kingdom of Bretonnia and the Wood Elves' magical forest of Athel Loren. To the south are the inhospitable Black Mountains and to the east are the Worlds Edge Mountains that mark the eastern extent of the Old World.[1a]
To the north, the rolling hills and rapid streams of the south and east are gradually transformed into the forested lowlands and deep waterways that define the heart of the Empire. The vast forests that comprise the central and northern Imperial lands stretch almost unbroken across the countless leagues from the state of Reikland to the northern border with Kislev and the shore of the Sea of Claws. The Great Forest, Drakwald Forest and the Forest of Shadows are all essentially part of the same dark, untamed wilderness, with the green blanket of trees punctured only by the abrupt mountain range known as the Middle Mountains. These lands are divided into the northern Imperial states -- Hochland, Ostermark, Ostland, Middenland and Nordland. The inhabitants of these northern states generally have to deal with much greater hardships and military threats than those of the more civilized south, being that much closer to the daemons, Beastmen and other dangers of the northern Chaos Wastes.[1a]
The life of a citizen of the Empire is a perilous one, for there are foes within every shadow and enemies around every corner.[2a] Secret Chaos Cults abound, or at the very least, there are rumors of them running rampant, as well as the legendary rat-men that some call the Skaven. No one is certain who is trustworthy, and fear and paranoia are omnipresent in the isolated settlements that dot the Empire's provinces outside of the major Imperial cities.
The Empire has a history that stretches back for more than 2500 years, but much has been forgotten or lost in the intervening centuries. War, fire, flood, and even conspiracy have helped to hide much of the historical record, whether it was recorded in books and scrolls or preserved in the form of artifacts.
Present-day Imperial scholars dig and research to discover the hidden truths of the past, but the gaps are many and their conclusions are often simply wrong or skewed to match their preconceptions and political or religious ideology. Also, some truths are best-kept secret from the people of the Empire, lest their revelation spread panic or doubt amongst a previously docile populace.
And it is not just uncovering a horrible truth that must be feared, but also dealing with those who would rather keep that information to themselves. In the Empire, the dedicated students of History had best keep a blade ready--and be handy with its use.[1c][2b]
Failed Promise: The Founding and the First Millennium
No one now knows when Humanity first entered the Old World or from whence they came, though the most ancient records of the Dwarfs record the steady movement of Humans over the Worlds Edge Mountains over a period of several centuries, sometimes fleeing more powerful tribes of Men, other times fleeing the rampaging hordes of Greenskins.
The earliest known of these migrant peoples are mentioned in the Chronicles of Nurn Shieldbreaker, an ancient king of Karaz-a-Karak. The golden leaf of this folio, stamped with the most ancient Khazalid runes of the Dwarfs that no outsider is allowed to see, record a pastoral Human tribe who worshiped the Earth itself in the form of the Earth Mother, a religion now remembered as the druidic Old Faith.
Timid around the highly martial Dwarfs and persecuted by other tribes in their home territory, they vanished into the forests of the central Old World and faded from view. Dwarf scholars who have lectured on early history estimate that this occurred around -1500 IC, some 1,500 years before the coronation of Sigmar as the first Emperor.
Perhaps some five hundred years later, in -1000 IC, Dwarfen Khazalid inscriptions on the walls of Blackfire Pass mark the passing of a massive confederation of tribal peoples from the future lands of the Border Princes and the steppes beyond the Worlds Edge Mountains. Dwarfen historical lays from this time also speak of the migration of the Humans.[1c]
"Great danger there was in the East, in the lands of our enemies, and the clans of the Manlings fled west. Ignorant of the arts of steel and warcraft, they had no weapons that could stand before the Goblins and their allies. They gave us gold, cattle, and salt and we let them pass, protected by our shields."
Scholars have noted that many of the tribes listed by the Dwarf lay bear names very similar to those who later founded the Empire: the Hunberokin, Tutokin, Merokin, and Jutonik among them.[1c]
Unlike the peaceful agricultural tribes that had preceded them in migrating into the heart of the Old World, the newcomers were aggressive and the bearers of a culture based on raiding each other for cattle and women. While they could not stand up to the greenskins' iron weapons, their bronze blades and chariots were more than a match for the obsidian and flint of the existing Old World Human tribes.
Within a century of their arrival, the ancestors of the Teutogen, the Unberogen and the other founding Imperial tribes had displaced the older peoples and taken the best lands of the central Old World for themselves. For centuries afterward, the tribes alternately traded and made war on each other, uniting only to face an external threat, then squabbling and turning on each other when the threat had passed.
The shield provided by the Dwarfholds of the Worlds Edge Mountains gave some protection, but as Dwarfen power declined, increasing numbers of Orc and Goblin warbands found their way through into Human lands. They made their hideouts deep within the forests or among the rugged hills and raided the nearby Human tribes. Even worse creatures would find their way through the high mountain passes from the south and east, including Chaos Warriors looking for glory for their Dark Gods and mutants looking for food and slaughter.[1c]
These growing threats led to the development of the first true Human fortified towns and villages in the lands of the central Old World that would become the Empire. In the west, the Unberogens founded a walled village at the confluence of the Reik and Talabec rivers, naming it Reikdorf.
In the south, Tilean merchants from the once ruined elven-city of Miragliano built a fortified trading post on the ruins of an abandoned High Elf settlement that quickly became a rallying point for the local tribes in times of trouble. This settlement grew over time and became the city of Nuln.
In the north, the Teutogens continued to search for a safe place for their people, until a vision from their patron god Ulric, the Lord of Winter and Wolves, led them to a flat-topped mountain that stood like a fortified island among the surrounding dense forest lands.
There they built their great settlement of Middenheim and named the mountain Fauschlag, though it is today more commonly known as the Ulricsberg. This phase of early settlement continued for nearly a thousand years (-1000 to 1 IC), until the coming of Sigmar and the crisis of the Great Orc Invasion.[1c]
The Rise of Sigmar Uberogen (-30 to -1 IC)
"Aye, together. I cannot do this alone; I need my sword-brothers with me. Swear with me, my friends. Swear that everything we do from this day forth will be in service of this vision of a united empire of man."
- —Sigmar Heldenhammer, the first Emperor[6d]
Unsurprisingly for a man who founded the greatest nation of the Old World and then topped off his accomplishment by becoming a God, the origins of Sigmar Heldenhammer are shrouded in myth and legends--although the Sigmarite Cult itself insists that all the stories are true and accepted as religious dogma, even those that outright contradict each other. Imperial and Dwarf scholars agree that Sigmar was born to a family that belonged to the clans of the northern Unberogens, probably at Reikdorf. His birth came in a dangerous time, for there was frequent conflict with the Merogens and the Teutogens, as well as the ever-present threat presented by the Greenskins. Sigmarite Cult legends say that a twin-tailed comet raced across the heavens on the night of Sigmar's birth, a sign of the Gods' blessings upon the infant and a herald of the great changes he would make. Young Sigmar grew to be a powerful warrior even as a youth and his kinsmen marveled at his ferocity and sheer prowess.[1c]
In his fifteenth year, Sigmar was alone in the woods somewhere south of Reikdorf--the exact place has been lost, but some Sigmarites believe it is near Kemperbad--when he heard a band of Orcs stomping through the underbrush. The Orc warband, led by the Black Orc Vagraz Headstomper, had ambushed a massive Drawf trading convoy from Karaz-a-Karak and was returning to camp with the spoils and battered Dwarfen prisoners. Sigmar and his own warband waylaid the Orcs and slew them all in an epic battle beneath the boughs of the forest, where it is said that he was thrown a golden warhammer by a captive Dwarf to fight the Orcish Warlord. Recovering after the battle, Sigmar learned that he had saved the life of none other than Kurgan Ironbeard, the King of Karaz-a-Karak, who had been captured by Vagraz Headstomper along with several of his kinsmen. The grateful Dwarf monarch rewarded the Unberogen warrior with an amazing magical item: the warhammer Ghal Maraz, whose name means "Skull-splitter" in the Dwarfen tongue of Khazalid. Allowed to keep the weapon that allowed him to slew the Orcish Warlord, the two soon became fast friends and Dwarf and Man often fought side-by-side against the growing tide of Orcs and Goblins.[1c]
When not fighting Greenskins, Sigmar was also busy building his own empire, for he had a vision that Mankind would only survive if it stood united against the many and growing dangers threatening it in the Old World. Through a combination of guile, diplomacy, bribery, and war, Sigmar brought the various Human tribes into his Unberogen-led confederation, with him as its acknowledged leader. He traveled the central Old World with his closest friends and his growing Unberogen army, aiding the other tribal warlords in defense of their people and slowly earning their trust. One by one, the leaders of the Human tribes pledged their support to Sigmar and his Unberogen. Yet several of the tribes still refused to join Sigmar's growing tribal confederation, or were openly hostile and threatened to make war upon the Unberogen and their allies. The tribe of the Bretonni, which had no desire to become a part of the growing tribal confederation, decided to migrate to the west, eventually settling in the region of the Old World that would become Bretonnia. These people, united in a similar way under their leader and first king, Gilles le Breton, would eventually found the Kingdom of Bretonnia. The Teutogens and their chieftain, Artur, chose to terrorize the neighboring tribes, murdering and pillaging as they chose, refusing to give up the old ways and join with Sigmar. Artur declared that he would not bow to any man, nor allow his people to give up their ancient heritage.[1c]
The Teutogens' defiance represented a major challenge to Sigmar's dreams of a united Human front against the Greenskins. If the Teutogen chieftain was not defeated, then the other tribes in his confederacy would always have an alternative to unity and the confederacy would prove to be only a fleeting alliance that would break apart as soon as the overall threat of the Greenskins was defeated rather than becoming the foundation for a new and better Human society as Sigmar wished. As a result, Sigmar set out to challenge Artur and defeat him publicly. He climbed by hand to the top of the mighty mountain Fauschlag, where the Teutogen settlement of Middenheim lay, and fought Artur to the death in his own throne room. The Knights of the White Wolf, the elite Teutogen warriors who venerated the god Ulric and had been Artur's personal warband, pledged from then on to serve Sigmar as his personal guard. Once the Knights of the White Wolf pledged to serve Sigmar as their king and chieftain, the rest of the Teutogen also pledged their allegiance, seeing the favour their God Ulric has bestowed upon him. All the Human tribes of the central Old World were at last united under Sigmar's leadership. Sigmar then wasted no time.[1c]
According to legend, in -1 IC he summoned the tribes to a great area which would one day be the Mootland in the lands of the eastern Brigundians and laid his case before them. He recounted all the atrocities committed against Humanity by the Greenskins: the burned steadings and murdered families, the stolen cattle and fouled wells. He told them of the danger looming in the mountains, of the huge Orc horde the Dwarfs were struggling to hold back. Sigmar implored the gathered tribes not to meet the Orcs and Goblins as they had in the past, standing apart from each other, refusing to lend aid, and combine their forces when needed--that would only lead to their defeat and deaths. His voice rising with a terrible rage that was felt throughout the gathering, Sigmar called on all the tribes of Man to unite and make their common stand with the Dwarfs, calling it the crucible of a new nation. As recorded in the Book of Origins, Sigmar's final shout of "To war!" was answered with a cheer so loud that the Dwarfs heard it as far away as Black Fire Pass.[1c]
History records that Sigmar's army arrived just in time, as the Orcs finally breached the wall King Kurgan had built across Black Fire Pass. Leading the charge from the chariot of Siggurd, Chieftain of the Brigundians, Sigmar fell upon the Greenskins as if he were the God Ulric himself. The force of the Human assault stopped the Orc and Goblin advance, then began pushing it back. The Dwarfs saw this as their opportunity and charged from their forts and towers and fell upon the Greenskins' flanks. Fear overcame the Greenskins and they began to break ranks and flee. Their leader, Warlord Urgluk Bloodfang, rallied his forces and made a counter-attack. Charging, he and his warband came face to face with Sigmar and his Knights of the White Wolf.[1c]
Sigmar and the Orc warlord entered into single combat, whilst Siggurd and his elite Brigundian warriors battled Bloodfang's Black Orc bodyguards. Hammer clashed with cleaver as the two struggled for advantage. After nearly an hour of fighting, Sigmar killed the Orc warlord with a mighty double blow, first breaking the hand that held the cleaver, then smashing Bloodfang's skull on the return stroke. The death of their leader was also the death of the Orc army, which broke and ran in utter panic. The slaughter that followed was terrible to behold as the armies of Man and Dwarf fell upon their most hated foes. It is said that there has never been a greater concentration of crows in the all the world than that which gathered to feat on the stinking and unburied corpses of the Greenskins at Black Fire Pass. So many died that day that it would be over a thousand years before the Orcs and Goblins could again raise such an army, even with their prodigious if unknown reproduction rates.[1c]
The Founding of an Empire (0 to 50 IC)
After the Battle of Blackfire Pass, the Humans returned to their lands, but not to their old ways. All the tribal chiefs recognized that Humanity was safer united than divided and they knew that only one among them could truly make that unity a reality. Thus, at Reikdorf one year after the Battle of Blackfire Pass, the Ar-Ulric, high priest of the Cult of Ulric, placed a crown of gold and ivory, a gift from the Dwarfs, upon Sigmar's head and proclaimed him Emperor before the assembled representatives of the Human tribes. Before him, the tribal chiefs knelt and swore brotherhood to each other and fealty to Emperor Sigmar and the newborn Empire. This moment marks the start of the Imperial Calendar and occurred in the year 1 IC.[1c]
Yet for all the talk of Human unity, Sigmar knew his people and knew that their attachments to the old tribes were too strong to simply be erased. He also acknowledged that the lands of the Empire, from the Grey Mountains in the west to the Worlds Edge Mountains in the east and from the Sea of Claws in the north to The Vaults in the south, were simply too big to govern as a centralized realm. He, therefore, made the best of the political situation and made the chieftains of the twelve tribes Counts of the Empire. Each Count would be sovereign in his own lands, subject only to the laws and edicts the Emperor made for the Empire as a whole. The tribal lands became the original twelve Great Provinces of the Empire. Alaric the Mad, a Dwarf runesmith, forged 12 great magical runeblades called Runefangs for each of the tribal chieftains who had sworn to follow Sigmar and who would become the first Counts of the Empire.[1c]
The years of Sigmar's reign were a time of peace and great interbal growth for the Empire. Sigmar decreed the building of two great roads, the first from Reikdorf, now called Altdorf, to Middenheim and the second from Altdorf to Nuln along the banks of the Reik River and thence to join the Old Dwarf Road in Averland. The Emperor hoped that the roads and rivers together would serve as tied to bind the tribes to each other and inhibit their natural centrifugal tendencies to come apart.[1c]
Peace and good weather brought regular harvests and, eventually, a booming population. The new Imperials cleared land and laid the foundations for new towns and cities, sometimes over the remains of their fortified tribal camps, other times on unspoiled new lands. The Taleutens discovered a vast crater in the midst of the Great Forest, within which they built their chief city, Talabheim. The Brigundians founded both Averheim and Streissen as fortified trading posts and eventually, at Averheim the Counts of Averland built their great fortress, which has never fallen. Middenheim grew wealthy as the religious capital of the Empire, as Ulric was Sigmar's favored deity. Many Imperials tried to curry favor with the ruler by making donations to his preferred religion. In the south, Nuln prospered as trade along the rivers to and from the Dwarfholds of the Worlds Edge Mountains expanded after the coming of peace. The city grew so powerful and wealthy compared to the rest of the province (then known as "Uissenerland") that the Counts of Wissenland eventually moved their seat of government there from their former town of Pfeildorf. Fifty years after ascending the throne, Sigmar announced his abdication to the assembled Counts and the high priests of the various cults.[1c]
"My work here is done, The Empire is prosperous and united, and in your good hands, it will continue to be so. But I have work I must finish, a task left undone, and I must return Ghal Maraz to its maker."
With that, the First Emperor placed his crown on a table, picked up a rucksack, shouldered Ghal Maraz, and walked out the door to an unknown final fate. Thus did Sigmar depart the lands of his Empire, to the bewilderment and grieving of his peers, in a manner some have compared to the fearsome warrior god of the Dwarfen race -- Grimnir the Fearless. He emerged from the forests onto the eastward plains where he was flanked on either side by a massive, grey-headed wolf and a towering boar with tusks of black iron. As Sigmar made his way up the eastern hills, his grim eyes set upon the Worlds Edge Mountains, the great lord's bestial allies came faithfully at his heels, the wolf with its strength and courage, and the boar with its wit and tenacity. Sigmar disappeared into the East, pausing once to look upon his great works and take pride in all that he had accomplished. And even more so in the knowledge that the glory of his people would only grow, no longer did they require his earthly guidance, nor heirs of his blood too. For the land and unity, he had created was greater than anyone man, anyone dynasty. It belonged to the people it had been made for, and it would be guarded by their strength, existing eternally in their minds and souls. They were all his heirs, who would take up his mantle and rule the land in his absence. Raising his mighty hammer in honor of the indomitable spirit of Humanity and in praise of Ulric, who had in his benevolence granted him victory, Sigmar offered one final goodbye to the people he so loved. And thus turned towards his destiny without another backward glance. He had now reached the climax of Ulric's Wolf-Path. His reward now stood before him -- earned through strength, bloodshed, and unsurpassed heroism. To take his rightful place in the everlasting company of the Gods.[1c]
An Era of Conquest and Prosperity (73 to 1000 IC)
The gathered Counts were faced with a major crisis: Sigmar had never married and, as far as anyone knows, had never produced an heir. Nor had he left a will designating who should succeed him on the Imperial throne. Never in the fifty years of his reign had anyone even considered the question of succession. Several among the Counts claimed the throne, some on the basis of being the most skilled in war or politics, while others claimed the favor of the Gods or even a secret promise from Sigmar that they were his heir. The arguments in the Reikhaus grew acrimonious and the threat of civil war loomed large, when a priestess of Rhya who was in the retinue of the Count of Stirland suggested an election. Let all the Counts renew their vows of brotherhood and then let each explain why he or she should take the Imperial Crown. The first to get a majority of the votes of his or her peers would become the new Emperor or Empress. Determined to avoid civil war, the Counts agreed and retired to the Great Hall of the Reikhaus to deliberate. After three days passed amidst promises, threats, and a great many exchanges of gold, the Ar-Ulric came forth to announce their new leader: Emperor Fulk of Wissenland. As part of the agreement, the Counts determined that each new Emperor should be chosen from among them and that the person so chosen could move the Imperial capital to his state's chief city. They also elevated a powerful noble of the Reikland to become the first Count of that province. In recognition of their role in choosing the Emperor, the Counts changed their titles to "Elector Counts" of the Empire.[1c]
Less than twenty-five years after Sigmar's disappearance, during the reign of Emperor Henest in Nuln, a mendicant friar named Johann Helsturm appeared in Altdorf telling of a new God--the Emperor Sigmar himself. With a wild gleam of enthusiasm in his eyes and the strength of utter conviction in his voice, he preached the world of Sigmar Divine to all who would listen, even gaining acolytes from among the priests of the already extant cults. Not all welcomed his words. Much of the clergy of the other Gods dismissed Helstrum as a madman, his visions a sign that he had been eating moldy bread. What he claimed verged on blasphemy, for he claimed to have seen a vision that Ulric himself placed a crown upon Sigmar's head, anointing him as a God and making him the chief of the divine pantheon of the Old World. Some wanted Helstrum killed, but others proved more tolerant. Helstrum's new cult preached the unity of the Empire and obedience to the Emperor and the Elector Counts and so this small cult gained permission to build a temple in Sigmar's home city of Altdorf, with Johan Helstrum as the first Grand Theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar. As the centuries passed, the Sigmarite Cult would grow wealthy and politically powerful. Sigmar's worship became so popular in Reikland and Stirland that it practically supplanted the Cult of Ulric in those states, much to the latter Cult's irritation. Money from gifts and rents from donated lands flowed into the Sigmarite Cult's coffers, until the Grand Theogonists rivaled the wealth and power of the Elector Counts and the Cult began to clamor for their own electoral vote in Imperial elections.[1c]
Emperor Fulk moved his Imperial capital to his home city of Nuln, where it stayed for several centuries as his heirs succeeded in having themselves elected time after time. This was an era of growth and great vigor for the Empire, as its growing population looked for outlets for their energy. Not satisfied with merely filling in and developing the lands they already possessed, the Elector Counts looked to expand their provinces' territory--and their power relative to one another. From the years of the 5th and 10th century IC, a period Imperial historians call "the Drive to the Frontiers," the Counts and Emperors moved to extend the Empire to what they felt were its natural borders. The Counts of Ostland and Talabecland aggressively colonized and expanded into the northern lands of what is now Kislev, claiming all the land to the mountains and the River Lynsk, but their settlements were rarely successful. Most fortunate were Talabecland's efforts to expand into the land to its southeast. Originally ruled by the heirs of Adelhard of the Ostagoths, the towns of Ostermark became Talabecland's "East March", later regaining their independence when they became the League of Ostermark.[1c]
Stirland and Averland, meanwhile, aggressively expanded into the less fertile eastern regions of their home provinces, pressing into the foothills of the Worlds Edge Mountains the Dwarfs claimed as their own, which lead to occasional violent clashes. In the process, they incorporated the lesser tribes and small kingdoms of related Human peoples that had never joined Sigmar's confederation, particularly the Fennones, whose lands became the new Imperial province of Sylvania under the domination of Stirland. The Emperor most associated with this period is the 6th century IC Emperor, Sigismund the Conqueror, who not only defeated the King of the Jutones and added the Jutonsryk's land to the province of Westerland (now the Wasteland), but also crossed the Grey Mountains to create the "West Mark" on the Bretonnian side of the mountains and invaded the southern lands of the Border Princes (then a wild, tribal region) to found the province of Lichtenberg and built a series of castles to protect the Empire's southeastern flank.[1c]
One area eluded all attempts at conquest: the forested Wood Elf realm of Laurelorn to the northwest of the Empire. Claimed by the Elector Counts of Drakwald, Middenland, and Westerland, the Wood Elves acknowledged no Human overlord and defeated all attempts to conquer them by force. They won their most spectacular victory in 897 IC, when they overwhelmed the army of the Drakwalder Count, whom history remembers only as "the Unlucky". The defeat was so crushing that it set the stage for Drakwald's own later degeneracy and eventual disappearance as an Imperial Great Province. By the tenth century IC, the Empire had reached the pinnacle of its size and achievements. No power in the Old World could match it and there was talk amongst its rulers of one day governing the whole of the Old World. Blind with hubris, the people of the Empire could not see the growing cracks that would one day bring the whole Imperial structure crashing down around their heads.[1c]
The Second Millennium: Imperial Collapse
The beginning of the second millennium IC heralded a decay in the once-grand fortunes of the Empire. It is now known in Imperial history as a time of hedonistic excess, poor leadership, and civil strife. The Drakwald Elector Counts had become the Emperors not long before, bribing their way into the office to use its power to preserve their provinces' failing position. The defeat at the hands of the Wood Elves and a series of disasters had weakened the province so much that there was fear that it would simply be absorbed by one of the others. The Drakwald Emperors moved the Imperial capital to the city of Carroburg and began a reign so corrupt that the term "Drakwalder" to this day is a byword for a greedy, grasping person in the Empire. Under the Drakwalders' dubious leadership the Empire would begin to rot away from within. For over a century, Emperor after Emperor continued the venal ways of the Drakwalder line, looking for any way to enrich themselves and caring more for their pleasures than the prosperity or well-being of the Empire they ruled. Fragmentary annals of this time give lurid hints of the debaucheries and orgies held at the Imperial Court in carroburg--and of other, even more, obscene events.[1d]
Two events of notes took place in the 11th century IC, both during the reign of Emperor Ludwig II Hohenbach, known as "der Grosse" on his coins, but better remembered by history as "Ludwig the Fat." Both a gourmand and an avid hedonist, Ludwig was infamous for the torture and execution of chefs who offended his culinary tastes. Finally, he ordered his Halfling valet to create a "meal worthy of his greatness." The resulting butter-laden feast was so successful that Ludwig not only made his valet the Imperial Chef, but elevated him to the rank of Elector Count, tearing the fertile farmlands of the Halflings away from Stirland and Averland to create the new Great Province of the Mootland. This appealed to Ludwig II not only because he had enjoyed a fine meal, but it also gave him political vengeance against the Elector Counts of those two states, whose daughters had spurned his greasy attentions.[1d]
Seeing the success of these tactics, the Cult of Sigmar began to slowly woo the grotesquely fat Emperor. Invited to a ceaseless round of feasts, banquets, and "private suppers," the Emperor slowly began to see the cult in a positive light. Folk began to whisper that the Grand Theogonist of Sigmar would sit at Ludwig II's right hand, constantly filling his plate with fine food and his cup with wine. The Cult of Sigmar gifted the Emperor with a new palace in Altdorf, rumored to be fitted out with extensive kitchens, dining halls, and exceedingly luxurious privies. Eventually, the Emperor signed a charter granting the Grand Theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar an electoral vote in Imperial elections. The Grand Theogonist of the time is said to have died in bed a short while later -- smothered to death by his own neck fat.[1d]
With the rise of the Drakwald line of Emperors, the arts saw an explosion of noble patronage. In their quest for self-aggrandizement, the decadent Imperial rulers commissioned flattering portraiture, fawning literature, and pompous, self-promoting musical scores. The Imperial nobility followed suit, and soon every one of any note had artists of one kind or another in their service. Referred to by Imperial art historians as the "naturalistic" movement, the artwork of this period ceases to be a literal record of history as it was. Many noble families seized the chance to have their history recorded in huge tomes. Outrageous claims, tall battlefield tales, and simpering portrayals of forefathers became the norm for such books, leading to some extraordinary and somewhat amusing cases of one-upmanship. Similarly, many nobles chose to have "favorable" portraits created--thus, for example, the infamous drooling Duke of Leicheburg is depicted as a striking, martially-capable man, with not one trace of his hump-back and an entirely normal number of eyes. Some nobles went so far as to have their faces painted or woven into famous scenes from Imperial history, such as its founding during the Battle of Blackfire Pass.[1d]
Dismissed by the common folk as utter nonsense, this flowering of the arts saw some improvements for their lot in life as well. The Cult of Sigmar was one of the first to seize upon the idea of illuminated books, commissioning lavish tomes after the style of the nobles' histories. Focused around the Life of Sigmar, these works were frequently treated as objects of homage, with some Sigmarite temples dedicating thousands of gold crowns to their creation. The completion of the soaring Cathedral of Sigmar in Altdorf occasioned the commissioning of eight such illuminated books, each bound in beaten gold dug from the mountains by the descendants of King Kurgan Ironbeard himself. Completed in 1012 IC, these eight tomes were paraded with great ceremony throughout the Empire before being returned to a vault deep beneath the Cathedral.[1d]
Within the dye trade, the creation of so many works of art caused great leaps forward in coloring and dye fixatives. Not only were tinted inks in great demand, so too were fine shades of cloth and paint. Certain families began to specialize in the hugely expensive pigments required for noble portraiture, experimenting with all manner of ingredients in the quest to find the brightest blue and the most brilliant gold. This short-lived but highly lucrative trade reached its peak in 1023 IC when Baroness Auerbach of Hochland was reputed to have paid 120,000 crowns for a pearl-based paint that exactly matched the yellow-white of her teeth. This brief blossoming of the arts was not to survive for long. The disasters to come would end the decadence of the Drakwald line for good.[1d]
The year 1053 IC saw the accession of the last and worst of the Drakwald Emperors, Boris Hohenbach, known forever to posterity as "Boris Goldgather" and "Boris the Incompetent." Devoted solely to money and its acquisition, he let the Elector Counts rule as they wished as long as he received the appropriate "gifts." New titles and Imperial offices were invented and sold, so now Elector Counts vied with each other to acquire ever more grandiose titles, such as "Grand Prince" or "Grand Duchess Palatine." A quick bribe would see a troublesome freetown's charter revoked by the Emperor, the first news of which would come when the soldiers of the local nobleman would seize control and hang the burgomeister. Others joined the game as the cults began selling ecclesiastical offices to the highest bidders. The Emperor himself would even sell to commoners the right to spend the night in the Imperial Palace, renting out the chambers of the 9th century Emperor, Jurgen the Opulent.[1d]
The Skaven Wars (1111 to 1115 IC)
Judgment for these practices came in 1111 IC when plague erupted in several cities at once in the east, spreading inexorably westwards. The easternmost lands of Talabecland and Ostland, which would later become the Kingdom of Kislev, were denuded of even animal life by the virulent disease and had to be abandoned by the Empire. The crowded Imperial towns and cities were the hardest hit and desperate authorities would set fires to burn whole neighborhoods at the first sign of the plague's emergence. Travelers even suspected of carrying the plague were hung and their corpses burned by desperate road wardens. Prayers to the Gods went unanswered, with the priests dying at their altars, while the nobles and the wealthy commoners abandoned the urban areas for the relative safety of their rural manors and estates.[1d]
The Emperor could not have cared less. Boris secluded himself at a palace, miles from Carroburg and allowed only the wealthiest and most beautiful of his subjects to join him there. Thoughts of plague and postulated peasants were far away. They would laugh and drink and wait for the plague to finally extinguish itself. In the summer of 1115 IC, there was an especially virulent eruption of the plague. The Emperor, most of the Elector Counts and their immediate families and retainers had gathered at the Carroburg palace to hold court and wait for the disease to die down once more. One hot summer evening during a ball, they met their own deaths. As the Emperor gorged himself on roast goose and the courtiers danced under the stars, none noticed the figures in ragged robes gathering upwind of them. They were the censer carriers of Clan Pestilens and this marked the beginning of the Skaven's first assault upon the Empire that was completely ignorant of the mutant rat-men's existence. The winds carried the many chemical plagues of the Skaven throughout the palace grounds. Hundred of the Empire's leaders died that night, buboes sprouting from their bodies and pustules bursting. As he lay dying, Emperor Boris the Incompetent listened as the Skaven leader told him of the rat-men's grand plan, how armies of his kin were that very night marching all over the Empire, the heralds of Mankind's downfall, the start of the Great Skaven Wars.[1d]
Many Imperial towns and cities fell to the Skaven that night and for the many that followed as the Skaven Wars erupted all around them. Even if they were not captured outright, the damage done to the Empire's infrastructure was tremendous as libraries, temples, universities, and whole city districts burned. The Empire's defenders tried to put up a resistance, but they were disorganized and possessed only a shadow of their once potent martial prowess. Great Imperial cities like Nuln and Mordheim became islands in a sea of Skaven-ruled territory. Eventually, they were all sure to fall. From behind their walls, the Empire's few remaining leaders were sure they were watching the terrible end of Sigmar's great dream of Human unity.[1d]
Yet hope came from the North. The Elector Count of Middenland and Middenheim, Graf Mandred von Zelt, broke the Skaven siege of Middenheim and, gathering what forces he could, fought them to a standstill along the lines of the Talabec and Reik Rivers. For the next nine years, Mandred rallied the Empire's people and, in battle after battle, pushed the rat-men back into their subterranean realm. Finally, in 1124 IC at the Battle of Averheim, Mandred broke the Skaven armies and sent them fleeing in terror. There on the battlefield strewn with Skaven corpses, the remaining Elector Counts declared him by acclamation Emperor Mandred I Skavenslayer.[1d]
Emperor Mandred faced a herculean task of reconstruction. Thanks to the plagues and other depredations caused by the Skaven, it is believed that only roughly three out of every ten souls once living in the Empire had survived the Skaven Wars. Vast tracts of land were laid to waste and much of the Empire's territory had reverted to wilderness. Mandred's first act upon coming to the throne was to enact punishment for all the foolishness that had led to the disaster. By Imperial decree, he stripped the House of Hohenbach of all of its honors and declared the Grand Province of Drakwald dissolved, its lands merged with Middenland and Nordland. Its Elector Count's Runefang was placed into the vaults of the Cathedral of Ulric in Middenheim. Emperor Mandred I ruled for over twenty-five years and in that time gained a reputation for his strength and as a stern but just ruler. Reconstruction began on the Empire's cities and towns, but much knowledge was lost in the Skaven War that could never be recovered. Mandred ruled as a strong Emperor and the Elector Counts deferred to his wishes in all things. After a few years, the people of the Empire began to forget the horrors of the Skaven Wars during the years of 1115 to 1124 IC, and have even forgotten that the Skaven even exist, but the Skaven never forgot.[1d]
Taking their revenge, the Skaven's of Clan Eshin assassinated Emperor Mandred in his bed-chamber on the night of Geheimnisnacht's Eve, 1152 IC, leaving over a dozen daggers in his body and carving out his heart. Like Sigmar before him, Mandred Ratslayer had left no heirs. The Electoral Council chose a weakling as the next Emperor, Emperor Otto of Solland, a pattern that would hold for centuries; the office of the Emperor had become a toy to be traded amongst the Elector Counts. It did not matter to the Elector Counts, who wanted the freedom provided by a weak Emperor to engage in their internecine wars without restraint. So common were these that this era has become known in Imperial history as the "Age of Wars". Yet the Imperial throne remained an important symbol of Human unity, until finally, one Elector Count decided she did not wish to see it in the hands of another.[1d]
Age of the Three Emperors (1359 to 2000 IC)
In 1359 IC, the Grand Duke of Stirland was elected Emperor in Nuln, but Grand Duchess Ottilia I of Talabecland felt that the Imperial Crown was her's by right. In 1360 IC, she declared herself Empress without an election and banned the Cult of Sigmar from Talabecland, in retaliation for the Stirlander Emperor's taxes on the Cult of Ulric. From this point forward, the private wars of the Empire took on a religious character, with Sigmarite-loyal provinces clashing with Ulrican ones as the two Imperial thrones contested for power, although it was not uncommon for other provinces to side with their ostensible religious enemies for short-term political or strategic gain. This growing religious militancy of the Empire became more clear with the start of the Great Crusades in 1450 IC. Though the majority of the Imperial Knightly Orders are sworn to the protection of the Empire's people, there are still times when they have found themselves called to war in foreign lands. When Sultan Jaffar of the desert kingdoms of Araby invaded the distant lands of Estalia, the then-current Royarch of Bretonnia, King Louis the Righteous, raised a grand army of Knights and pledged himself to free the distant land from the oppressing clutches of the Arabyans. The Bretonnia king issued a call to arm to all warriors of honor in the Old World and the Grand Masters of many Imperial Knightly Orders swore themselves and their knights to this noble cause, seeking to prove their valor in wars beyond the petty civil conflicts that afflicted the Empire during the Age of Wars. During the bloody crusade, not only was Estalia freed from the control of Araby, but the gathered knights took the conflict to Araby itself to destroy the Sultan's empire. The Knights were filled with religious zeal and they destroyed the Sultan's decadent palaces, burned thousands of heathen tomes in his grand libraries of ancient lore, and cast down the idols from his temples.[1d]
The political situation of the Empire grew worse in 1547 IC, when the Ulrican Elector Count of Middenland, Grand Duke Heinrich, felt that he had the votes to become Emperor by-election and unify the Empire once again. The other Elector Counts disagreed and made their feelings quite clear by aiming the points of their crossbow quarrels at the Grand Duke's chest. Heinrich stormed off in a rage back to Middenheim and issued a proclamation declaring himself Emperor, minting coins and issuing edicts to that effect. Now the Empire had three Emperors--one elected and two self-chosen--and the political disintegration only accelerated. The Age of Three Emperors had begun.[1d]
Emperor Heinrich declared war on Frederik V, the "Ottilian Emperor" based in Talabheim. Meanwhile, Frederik made war on the Nuln Emperor, whose name has been lost to history but who was apparently a political tool of the Grand Theogonist of Sigmar. Even the lesser Imperial provinces asserted their autonomy in the general chaos: western Middenland in 1550 IC declared its independence from Middenheim under the leadership of the von Bildhofen family and received the Runefang of Drakwald in return for supporting the claim of the Nuln Emperor. Although no clear record exists of how this magical runesword disappeared from the Ulrican vaults in Middenheim and appeared in Nuln, the religious lore of the Cult of Ranald refers to this theft as "The Great Caper." The County of Sylvania gained its independence from Stirland in the chaotic aftermath of the Night of the Restless Dead in 1681 IC, while the towns of Ostermark rebelled against Talabecland with the help of the Ostland Grand Princes, forming the League of Ostermark in 1905 IC.[1d]
Outside invasion played a role in the political reshaping of the Empire as well, with the destruction of Solland and its absorption by Wissenland in the wake of Gorbad Ironclaw and his Orc invasion of the Empire in 1707 IC. Gorbad Ironclaw was one of the most feared Orc warlords of this era and he eventually commanded a huge horde of Orcs and Goblins through Black Fire Pass to devastate the Imperial provinces of Averland and Solland. Eldred, the Elector Count of Solland, marched his forces to the Aver River where he commanded the crossing towards the province capital of Averheim. Gorbad's army plunged into the river and attacked the Imperial defenders on the opposite bank. Though the Greenskin horde lost thousands of warriors during the cross, the Orcs gained a foothold on the other side of the riverbank and stormed the Imperial forces headon. This marked a grave turn of events for the defenders, whose only hope for victory had been to keep the Orcs on the far bank. The Imperial army could not contain all the beachheads and were soon encircled and Eldred desperately sought to quit the field before his forces were slaughtered. But this decision came too late, for Orc cavalry had already attacked the Halfling province of the Moot and had circled around behind the Imperial army.[1d]
Eldred's personal bodyguard tried to protect their lord, but Goblin wolf riders and Orcs on their powerful war boars flanked the Imperial amy and ultimately caused a rout. Throwing caution to the wind, Eldred bravely led his Greatswords to face the leader of the Orcs. But Gorbad was a monstrously powerful Orc, and even armed with a magical Runefang, Eldred was brutally slain. The last Elector Count of Solland's body was dismembered and hung upon the Orc warlord's trophy racks. Gorbad took Eldred's Runefang and his comital crown as spoils of war. This battle became known as the Battle of Solland's Crown. Gorbad's invasion was only ultimately defeated at the Siege of Altdorf, though not before the Emperor Sigismund was torn apart by a wyvern, and his army was scattered as winter set in. The Greenskin threat to the Empire had ended, but the province of Solland was utterly destroyed and one of the Runefangs was lost. Solland was annexed in its entirety by Wissenland. Centuries later, the lost Runefang originally forged by Alaric the Mad was rediscovered by a warrior band led by the Dwarf Thane Ergrim Stonehammer deep in the lair of a mutant beast in the Worlds Edge Mountains. Stonehammer returned the Runefang to the Prince of Altdorf, where the sword was placed in the Imperial Treasury, to be presented to the greatest of Imperial heroes and wielded in battle in the times of direst need.[1d]
Before the peers of the Empire would accede to the annexation of Solland by Wissenland, the other Elector Counts demanded the political separation of the city of Nuln from the Wissenland. Talabheim, too, gained a short-lived independence from Talabecland when the Talabeclander Emperor Horst the Cautious refused to attack an invading army in 1750 IC, leading the city to revolt and embrace its own Emperor, Helmut II. The political collapse of the Empire was complete with the election of Grand Countess Margraritha of Nuln in 1979 IC, via a "rump council" of Electors. None outside of Wissenland, Stirland and Averland recognised her rule and the Grand Theogonist declared the office of Emperor vacant. For almost 400 years, the Empire was nothing more than a fading idea of unity in Men's minds.[1d]
One other event heralded the dark times that were about to engulf the Empire, the destruction of the city of Mordheim, once the greatest city and capital of the League of Ostermark. Corruption and madness ran riot in within the walls of Mordheim as the Second Millennium IC drew to a close. A twin-tailed comet appeared in the sky above Mordheim on the first day of the year 1999 IC, growing ever closer as the final day of the millennium approached. A depraved festival atmosphere grew in the city, and it is said that daemons crept from the shadows, crying with joy and carousing with men and women alike. As the clocks struck midnight, the comet, a great mass of green Warpstone, smashed down on the city like a divine hammer. The people of the Empire came to believe that Sigmar had judged Mordheim lacking. Those unfortunate people who survived the impact were soon horribly mutated by exposure to such high concentrations of Warpstone and to make matters worse, the Skaven were drawn to the city in large numbers by such massive concentrations of the Chaotic substance. Mordheim had become the City of the Damned, cursed forever to be a place of ill-fortune and misery until its eventual destruction at the hands of the Sigmarite forces of the Grand Theogonist and a combined force of the Imperial Knightly Orders. Yet even today, the Skaven-haunted ruins of Mordheim are a by-word for sin and moral corruption.[1d]
The Third Millennium: Forged Anew in Fire
As the Time of Three Emperors dragged on with none of the claimants achieving final superiority, a dreadful threat to Mankind was stirring in the frigid shadow of the Worlds Edge Mountains. The County of Sylvania, the most infamous region of the Empire, had long been shunned by most folk of any sense, but its wicked reputation truly began when Vlad von Carstein, a Vampire of ancient lineage, wrested control of the province from the previous ill-loved Count, Otto von Drak, by marrying his daughter, Isabella von Drak to Vlad von Carstein in 1797 IC. Vlad and Isabella come to share a true, if unholy love, and Vlad transforms her into a particularly vicious Vampire, the first of his new von Carstein lineage. Many of the other Sylvanian noble families objected to the thought of having an outsider rule them, but these dissidents were quickly silenced by foul and unnatural means. Under Vlad's tyrannical grip, the province soon flourished for the first time in its history. The Elector Counts of the Empire looked on with indifference, too caught up in their own schemes for power to pay much attention to a poor and backwater province. For the next two hundred years, Count Vlad von Carstein ruled over Sylvania under the guise of different identities to prevent anyone from becoming aware of his Undead nature. In 2010 IC, judging the Empire to be at its weakest, Vlad launched his attempt to become a Vampire Emperor, beginning the first of a series of Vampire Wars upon the Empire.[1e]
The Vampire Wars (2010 to 2145 IC)
Marching at the head of the Sylvanian army and a massive host of Undead troops he had raised from the graves of Sylvania using a potent necromantic spell drawn from one of the Books of Nagash, Vlad invaded Stirland and laid waste to Ostermark before turning his attentions to the heart of the Empire. However, in 2025, Vlad was slain by Jerek Kruger, Grand Master of the Knights of the White Wolf. Unfortunately for the Empire, not even death could hold Vlad for long: Kruger's body was found at the base of Ulricsberg one year later, making Vlad's return apparent. For the next twenty-five years, Vlad's Undead armies ravaged the lands of the Empire until in 2051 IC he eventually fought his way to Altdorf, the seat of Prince Ludwig, one of the three claimants to the title of Emperor. The siege lasted for many months, but in the Empire's darkest hour the Grand Theogonist of Sigmar, Wilhelm III, seized Vlad in a desperate grip and bore him from the city's walls, impaling them both on the wooden stakes that lay at the buttom. With Vlad dead, much of the Sylvanian army began to disintegrate as the necromantic magic maintaining its Undead troops unraveled and the surviving Vampires of the von Carstein line were forced to retreat. Prince Ludwig rallied his forces to give pursuit, but fearful that the victory would allow him to cement support for his bid for the Imperial throne, his rivals united against him and the pernicious Undead lords of Sylvania were allowed the time to regain their strength.[1e]
Years later, Count Konrad von Carstein emerged as Vlad's successor and launched another invasion of the Empire. Konrad was so vicious a Vampire that the three claimants to the Imperial throne were forced to ally against him and he too was ultimately defeated, the dust of his ashes floating on the wind, cut down by the Dwarf hero Grufbad and the soon to be Count of Marienburg, Helmar, at the Battle of Grim Moor in 2121 IC. The last and most dangerous of the Vampire Counts was Mannfred von Carstein, a subtle, devious, and treacherous Vampire Lord who was perhaps the most dangerous of the von Carstein line. He allowed the various contenders for the Imperial Crown to think that with Konrad's death the threat from Sylvania had ended and simply waited for the civil strife to begin anew. When the Empire was once more wracked by civil war Mannfred attacked, his Undead legions marching through the snow to Altdorf and defeating all the armies that gathered to oppose him. Mannfred appeared triumphant until the Grand Theogonist of Sigmar, Kurt III, appeared on the battlements of the city and began to recite the Great Spell of Unbinding.[1e]
Seeing many of his Undead troops crumbling to dust, Mannfred ordered a hasty retreat. After a failed attack on Marienburg, the Vampire Count was forced to return to Sylvania. The Imperial nobility finally put aside their self-interested scheming and invaded Sylvania in force to end the threat of the Undead once and for all. Eventually, Mannfred was brought to battle at Hel Fenn in 2145 IC where Prince Martin of Stirland cut him down. For his heroic feat, the Count of Stirland claimed all of Sylvania as part of his province and thus ended the Vampire Wars, though the ever-present threat of the Vampire Counts' return ensures that none forget the dread of Sylvania, where the dead never fully rest. Though now officially a part of Stirland, Sylvania is now an abandoned province where the dead are easily stirred and the dark forests are prowled by unknown terrors.[1e]
The dawn of the twenty-fourth century IC saw the development of an even graver threat to all the peoples of the Old World, this time in the north. The power of the Chaos Gods had waxed fat upon the myriad sacrifices of their faithful and the excesses of Humanity and other mortals over the previous centuries. The hand of the Ruinous Powers began to move with great strength across the face of the Warhammer World once more. Auroras were seen as far south as Nuln, omens in the temples of the Empire spoke of a coming time of great danger and Kislevan scouts reported a vast, horrible army composed of the Forces of Chaos gathering beyond the taiga in the Chaos Wastes under the command of the powerful Northman and Champion of Chaos Undivided named Asavar Kul, the Everchosen. The Great War Against Chaos was about to begin.[1e]
The Great War against Chaos (2302 to 2369 IC)
In 2302 IC, the Forces of Chaos, comprised of Chaos Warriors, Beastmen, and even powerful daemonhosts, crossed the River Lynsk into Kislev, laying waste to the Kislevite cities of Erengrad and Praag and marching on to besiege the capital city of Kislev. The Siege of Praag had lasted throughout the spring and summer, with the city's brave defenders hurling back their attackers time and again with desperate heroics and stalwart bravery. But as winter set in and the year drew to a close, Praag fell and the hordes of Chaos ran through its tortured streets. The raw power of Chaos engulfed the city and Praag was changed forever, its survivors fused together into hellish and inhuman mutant shapes. Living bodies fused into the walls of the city itself so that it became impossible to tell flesh from stone. Distorted Human faces peered out from walls, agonized limbs writhed from the streets and pillars of stone groaned with Human voices. Praag had become a living nightmare and stood as a grim warning of the suffering that lay ahead for the whole Warhammer World if the warriors of the Ruinous Powers proved victorious over the Forces of Order.[1e]
A Chaos Fleet sailed the Sea of Claws, laying waste to the coasts of the Old World and sinking any ships they could find. The Tsar of Kislev sent messages to each of the Elector Counts' courts, begging for help, but the response was confused and bordered on panic. No leader was chosen for the Empire's military efforts, for none of the Electors trusted the others enough to cede authority to him or her. The High Priests of Sigmar and Ulric squabbled with each other over who should take the overall command of Imperial forces, whilst many of the nobility refused to send help for fear their neighbors would attack their lands in their absence. Some even felt the cause was lost and openly began to worship the Dark Gods, hoping for mercy from the Forces of Chaos after the Empire's fall.[1e]
One man did not give up or give in to fear and apathy. Magnus von Bildhofen of Nuln, a young noble and priest of Sigmar, still believed in the dream of a united Empire strong enough to defeat the Forces of Chaos and the daemonic servants of the Dark Gods. Within the city of Nuln, a powerful Tzeentch cult known as "The Magi", led the largest of the uprisings, unleashing demons and other horrors upon the city. Those who remained loyal to Sigmar prayed for deliverance, receiving an answer in the Twin-Tailed Comet that soured through the night sky. Magnus saw the comet, and inspired by his grounding in the church of Sigmar used his influence as a minor noble to rally the people. Under Magnus's leadership, Nuln was liberated from Chaos, and took his crusade across the Empire. Magnus was a magnificent orator whose rousing speeches raised a massive following amongst the common folk of the Empire. He marched northward from city to city, addressing the people in the market places, gathering about him an army the like of which had not been seen within the Empire for centuries.[1e]
Other Imperial armies have also begun to muster from the Electors and other powers, either swayed by Magnus' tongue or afraid of any refusal to aid the growing force. By the time Magnus reached the great city of Middenheim, his legions of followers became the largest military formation ever assembled within the Empire's up to the point in time. In 2302 IC, Magnus reached Middenheim, where he sought an audience with Ar-Ulric Kriestov to gain support for the war. After Kriestov denounced Magnus as a charlatan, Magnus bravely walked through the Sacred Flame - a holy site of the Church of Ulric which separates the pure from the tainted, and the truthful from the liar. After miraculously emerging unscathed, Magnus had proven the righteousness of his cause, and gained the support of a powerful ally. Magnus tactfully appointed Kriestov as the leader of his cavalry force.[1e]
Just as the Empire finished uniting behind Magnus, a message was received from the Kislevite leader Tzar Alexis Vassilivich. It told of a crushing defeat inflicted on the army of Kislev, leaving her cities wide open to attack. Magnus heeded the news and decided to march to Kislev, and there take the fight to their foe. As the new year began, Magnus finished consolidating his army and split it into two mighty forces: one of infantry and one of cavalry, setting Ar-Ulric Kriestov to lead the former and heading the latter himself. With their greater mobility, the cavalry force headed towards Kislev to buy time for the second half of the army. In Talabheim Magnus met with Pieter Lazlo, who was accompanied by three High Elves. The war had reached its crisis point as the Forces of Chaos prepared to cross the border into the Empire.[1e]
The Elves were powerful archmages, namely Teclis and his two comrades, Finreir and Yrtle. Although Magnus had a strong faith in Sigmar he did not have the same faith in the men he led. Despite knowing they could defeat any mortal enemy, the daemons of Chaos were not mortal. Magnus knew that the advantage the armies of Chaos had over his own lay in the Winds of Magic, but traditionally any man of the Empire who dabbled with magic was seen as a pawn of Chaos himself. With the help of the High Elves, however, a new system could be devised to allow Humans to wield the winds without opening themselves to corruption. With this new status quo possible, Magnus declared an amnesty to those who could use magic, subject to the judgment of the High Elves. Teclis and his brethren subsequently used their own arts to assemble those who could be taught.[1e]
The High Elven wizard Teclis and his companions had joined Magnus during the march north and assisted him with their advice and magic and also trained a few of the Imperial wizards in how to use magic to defend their brethren. After they learned of the fall of Praag, Dwarfs from Karaz-a-Karak, though themselves under siege by Chaos forces and greenskins, joined the Tzar within the city of Kislev. The first assault of the Chaos forces, mainly composed of Beastmen, drove the Kislevite defenders from their outer defenses and behind the city walls. It was the stolid determination of the Dwarfs that prevented the hordes of Beastmen from breaking through the city gates. As the Chaos hordes prepared for a second attack, they were struck in the rear by the combined forces of Magnus' Imperial troops and Teclis' devastating magical assault. The Chaos Champion, Asvar Kul, divided his forces and sent one to attack the city and one to counter the Imperial army.[1e]
The Imperials managed to resounding defeat the troops of the hoarded sent against them with Teclis' magical support, but the forces of Chaos were too large to be completely destroyed and they eventually redeployed and managed to push the Imperial army onto the defensive, keeping it away from the relief of the city. The High Elven mage Yrtle was slain by a Keeper of Secrets. On the city walls, the battle between the forces of Chaos and the Imperial relief army was seen by the Kislevite defenders. Three hundred Dwarfs broke out of the city gates in an attempt to try and reach the Imperial relief forces, but they were beaten back. Only half of the Dwarfs returned to the beleaguered Kislevite capital. When it seemed that all hope was lost to the defenders of the city, the advance Imperial force which had been sent to relieve fallen Praag but had turned back to rejoin the main body of the Imperial army, appeared on the northern horizon, on the “Hill of Heroes”, and launched a devastating attack borne of hatred upon the Chaos forces.[1e]
Watching the enemy suddenly broken by the appearance of the Imperial reinforcements, Magnus spurred his men on to one last herculean effort to relieve the city. Seeing the forces of Order had gained some momentum, the gates of Kislev were opened and the Kislevites and their Dwarf allies spilled forth to slam into the army of Chaos from yet another flank. Caught between three separate offensives on every side, the forces of Chaos lost all discipline, milling as a mass to be cut down where they stood. As Magnus prepared to lead another charge a voice warned him of a "beast in Human form" approaching, the enemy leader, Asavar Kul. The Everchosen challenged the champion of Sigmar to single combat, as a test of might between their respective gods.[1e]
After an awesome conflict of great magnitude, Magnus eventually triumphed, disarming Kul and knocking him to the ground. After removing his helmet, Asavar admitted defeat, saying he had failed the Chaos gods and the fight belonged to Magnus. Having slain Asavar, Magnus touched his golden hammer and reflected: "It was your gods who failed you. My god is always with me."At the same time, the Kislevite and dwarf troops broke through and engaged the Chaos army at their respective flanks. Caught between three armies, the Chaos horde was finally ground down and destroyed, saving the Old World from being Chaos' thrall. Alriksson and Vassilivich recognized Magnus as the instrument of Chaos' defeat. With Erengrad being relieved and Praag leveled for rebuilding, Chaos was driven back to its domains. As the last piece of clean up, Magnus's army destroyed the cursed city of Mordheim, before liberating Ostland and the Ostermark and clearing the Empire's forests of Beastmen.[1e]
After their defeat, the strength of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos slowly ebbed away and returned to their pre-war strength, but an echo of the Realm of Chaos would always remain within Praag, though it was leveled and subsequently rebuilt. The Chaos Gods returned to their eternal bickering and infighting, the power of Chaos Undivided once more submerged beneath the Ruinous Powers' own intense antipathy for one another. Magnus, who had earned his moniker "the Pious", returned to the Empire as its greatest savior and warrior since Sigmar himself and was quickly installed as the new Emperor by the Elector Counts, largely to popular acclaim (and because he now commanded the loyalty of a very large, very battle-hardened army).[1e]
Magnus proceeded to purge the lands of the Empire of the taint of Chaos and the anarchy of bandits, greenskins, and Beastmen that remained for several years after the end of the Great War. Order was eventually restored across the Empire and in Kislev. Though Finubar resisted the idea, Teclis taught the Humans of the Empire the principles of magic as understood by the High Elves and helped them found the Colleges of Magic with Emperor Magnus' full agreement, as it had become clear that despite the Imperial prejudice against the use of magic as being tainted by Chaos, Humanity and the Empire would need its power if it was to successfully defend itself from the future depredations of Chaos. On Ulthuan, despite Tyrion's attempts to reclaim the Blighted Isle, the Dark Elves eventually succeeded in occupying the Altar of Khaine.[1e]
Emperor Magnus reigned for sixty-five years and many regard his reign as among the happiest periods in the Empire's long history since Sigmar's own rule. A general peace reigned throughout the land, and the reunification of the Empire brought increased commerce and prosperity as trade flowed like water. Magnus took steps to increase the defenses of the Empire against the Dark Powers of Chaos and their servants, removing the ancient Imperial ban on wizardry and even creating the Imperial Colleges of Magic under the tutelage of the High Elf Wizard Teclis, the most powerful mage of the Warhammer World, who had come to the Empire's aid from the High Elven Kingdom of Ulthuan during the Great War against Chaos. A new age of intellectual vigor and inquiry had begun for Humanity. Magnus also recognized the changing balance of Imperial power between city and country, granting Nuln the status of a city-state, whilst ratifying the political reintegration of Middenland and Middenheim under the Todbringer Grafs of Middenheim. His distant cousins, the Middenland von Bildhofens, had died during the war, but Magnus had no desire to claim the province for himself, and denied his brother's right to do so. Instead, its electoral vote was put into abeyance. Magnus also acceded to the formal reunification of Talabheim and Talabecland, which had already occurred for all practical purposes centuries before. Magnus of Nuln died in his sleep in 2369 IC. For his great works, devotion to the Empire, and dedication to Sigmar and his dream, a conclave of the Electors voted to give Magnus the posthumous title "the Pious" and declared his birthday to be an Empire-wide day of thanks.[1e]
The Reikland Bloodline of Emperors (2429 to 2519 IC)
Yet the Empire could not long escape its own fractious nature. The Electors rejected Magnus' brother Gunther as his successor and instead chose Leopold Unfahiger, the Elector Count and Grand Count of Stirland as the new Emperor. As had happened before under the Imperial electoral system, the need to bargain led successful candidates to cede Imperial powers and privileges to the Electors, gradually weakening the Emperor's office once again. This problem led the Unfahiger Emperors to seek other sources of Imperial revenue to give them leverage against the other Electors. Emperor Dieter IV carried this tendency too far when he reputedly accepted large bribes from the burgomeisters of the great commercial city of Marienburg to acknowledge its independence from the Empire as a free city-state. The scandal of an entire Imperial province breaking away with the Emperor's permission was so shocking that an emergency meeting of the Electors was called in the Volkshalle in Altdorf. In 2429 IC the Electors deposed Dieter IV and put in his place Grand Prince Wilhelm of Reikland, the direct ancestor of the current Emperor, Karl-Franz I. To avoid a civil war after the defeat of an Imperial Army outside of Marienburg, the new Emperor Wilhelm III recognized the Westerland's independence (it soon became known as the Wasteland in the Empire, perhaps out of a sense of pique) and made Dieter IV the Grand Duke and Elector Count of Talabecland, from which he detached Talabheim as a separate city-state in a manner similar to Nuln. Perhaps it was a fear of what disunity had almost cost them during the Great War Against Chaos, but the Imperial Electors, their vassals, and the priests of the Imperial cults all made a serious effort to avoid another period of civil war. Clandestine aristocratic maneuvers and conspiracies were another thing, however.[1e]
The current Emperor, Karl Franz, acceded to the Imperial throne in 2502 IC as a young and vigorous man. Ruling from the Imperial capital of Altdorf like his predecessors, he showed more skill and character than all of his immediate ancestors and held out the promise of strong leadership for the Empire. The Electors felt pressured to toe the Imperial line and he skillfully played the Cults of Sigmar and Ulric against each other in their attempts to gain his favor. Pundits and scholars alike claim that Karl Franz is able to maintain order by forcing each Imperial faction into deals that are mutually acceptable. With an excellent understanding of leverage, many of the Emperor's political victories have been won by granting a person not what they want, but instead what they do not want any of their rivals to have. Using such tactics, for example, Karl Franz was able to convince the Guilds of Altdorf to sign the infamous "Stench Act" of 2506 IC, committing themselves to large fines and fees, not because they believed in a cleaner Altdorf, but because they thought the cost would destroy their rival Guilds. A powerful statesman, aided in no small way by the excellent advisors he has chosen, Emperor Karl Franz has managed to steer the Empire through many dangers.[1e]
"A government? You call that a government? Looks like the invention of a deranged Snotling!"
- —Count Claude Villecroix of Parravon, Bretonnian ambassador to the court of the Emperor Karl Franz[1f]
Contrary to popular beliefs, the Empire is not a unified nation ruled by a powerful central government but is in actuality a massive confederation of fiercely independent states and provinces whose inhabitants are tied together only by a common language, a shared faith in Sigmar and a mutual Imperial culture. Nowadays there are two types of states: the provinces and the city-state. Sigmar was a wise and calculating leader, and he had the foresight to recognize that the Empire was far too big to be ruled by a single man. And so he gave the title of Counts to all the tribal leaders, each responsible for managing his own territory but subject to the Emperor in matters relating to its rulership. Their independence was supposed to counterbalance the power of the Emperor should he proved too tyrannical as a leader, as well as to ensure mutual but non-violent competition amongst each of the Imperial Counts.[1f]
When it became known that Sigmar did not have an heir to inherit the Imperial Throne, the invention of the electoral system was successful in avoiding a civil war amongst the various Counts, but it however complicated matters even further in creating and maintaining a successive ruler. Those ambitious Elector Counts that wish to become Emperor have been known to give away privileges, titles, and power to any man that will cast his vote for him. The interests of each voters were such that they seldom rallied around a strong candidate, for they may find another of his rivals far more "generous" in their "gifts", which has resulted in the weakening of the Imperial system. Even when the Imperial Throne is transferred to his heir by majority vote thanks to the previous Emperor's influence, voters were quick to remind the newly elected Emperor to renew the promises made by his predecessor.[1f]
While the Empire had a fair share of strong and highly competent Emperors ruling the Empire, many times have the Imperial Throne been occupied by an uncaring Lord who allows his subjects to steal and exploit the Imperial system and her people, often going as far as to ignore the Imperial Edicts once placed by wise and caring rulers of ages past. However, the Imperial System as a whole still continues to work for the Empire as was its purpose, allowing any wise and ambitious Emperor to take the throne and used its powers to better the people under his reign.[1f]
In theory, the Emperor is free to make whatever laws and regulations he or she wishes and have it apply to the whole of the Empire. The truth is more nuanced, for laws must pass the review of the Prime Estates, who report to the Electors. A bad report is often all the excuse an Elector needs to quietly not enforce the law or deny it altogether, in times of a weak emperor. In such cases, the Emperor, if he is determined to see the law obeyed, will exercise diplomatic and even public pressure on the recalcitrant Elector to come to heel. Often this is enough to gain grudging acceptance. But, if the Elector is determined, an Emperor may claim peremptory jurisdiction and have the case heard in his own courts. In rare cases, continued defiance by an Elector may merit military action, as Karl Franz’s ancestor Wilhelm threatened against Elector Gunnwald of Averland in the case of the Pudding Tax Revolt of 2433.[1i]
Imperial Law concerns itself mostly with revenues, security from foreign and internal threats, the regulation of sorcery, and the rooting out of Chaos cults. Many Emperors have claimed jurisdiction over the succession to Electoral thrones when the succession is in dispute, and even the right in extreme cases to depose Electors, elevate new families to the Electoral rank, and even give whole provinces to another Elector, as was the case with Drakwald under Emperor Mandred. Though rooted in ancient law and the precedent set by Sigmar himself, no Elector formally acknowledges this right and all resist it in any but the direst cases, lest a lasting precedent is set.[1i]
Imperial courts exist in all the major cities of the Empire, including the capitals of the Grand Provinces, with judges appointed by the Emperor through the office of the Imperial authority over the case, leading to extended wrangling while the defendant or parties to a civil case swing in the wind.[1i]
Due to its size, the Imperial Government is considered far to large and complex for a single man or woman to function properly. It is common that each day, the Emperor must devote attention to dozens of questions, from newly introduced tax policies, the final appeal of a prisoner convicted of treason, or even the official opening of a ceremonial fairground. To succeed in establishing a priority order in this complex system and ensure that only individuals whose cases are really crucial get an audience with the Emperor himself, successive Emperors have often surrounded themselves with advisers chosen from members among the most prominent noble families so that they may assist on legal, financial, diplomatic and military matters in the Emperors stead. Over time, this gathering of councilors turned into a formal meeting, which officially became the Council of State.[1f]
- Members of the Council of State as of 2520 IC
- Volkmar the Grim - Spiritual Leader.
- Siegfried von Walfen - Chancellor of the Reikland.
- Balthasar Gelt - Counselor of Matters Magical.
- Amadeus Mencken - Chamberlain of the Seal.
- Kurt Helborg - Military Advisor to the Emperor.
- Lotte Hochsvoll - Chancellor of the Imperial Treasury.
- Agatha von Böhrn - Supreme Law Lord.
- Arne Damstadt - Chamberlain of the Imperial House.
Each member of the Council controls a large bureaucracy that helps administer the affairs of the state. Such is the importance of their position within the Government that the common people will probably never see these members in person except maybe indirectly in official or ceremonial events.[1f]
The Prime Estates
The Prime Estates is an Imperial organization that was created to help administrate the actions and well-being of the Emperor in person. At the end of the 11th century, when Boris the Incompetent tried to confer the title of Duke to his favorite racehorse, the Electors unanimously decided that they had to administrate the Emperors actions as to keep face with the Empire's people. So they deputed one representative each to form a watchdog body that would take the name of Prime Estates.[1f]
This institution is located within a beautiful building in the confines of the capital, ostensibly open to any person of recognized nobility, although the "lackeys" of the Emperor are carefully kept away. In fact, the Prime Estates has now become the Supreme Court. All Imperial Edicts are carefully examined "in the interest of the state", with documented reports being immediately sent to the Electors who would choose either to support or veto the edict. This organization has the powerful ability to refuse any edict that does not suit them or the Empire's interest, allowing the Prime States to have near-complete control over what the Emperor is logically placed to decide.[1f]
Each Elector Count has ensured an established representation in the capital, embassies directed by a loyal family member or close acquaintance. These ambassadors would discuss new imperial decree or legislation, as well as send these reports back to the Electors that had elevated them to such a position. As they have the power to reject decisions that do not suit them, it is important for the Emperor to obtain the approval of the Prime Estate if he hopes to accomplish anything. In theory, the Emperor also has a veto over the choice, but in practice, it would be very difficult for him to exercise it. Indeed, without a real majority support amongst the Electors, the Emperor has no chance to assert his right of veto. The latest attempt to do so was Emperor Mattheus II who wished to institute the first ever democracy, but the threat of civil war by the other Elector Counts was so pressing that he was forced to give it up.[1f]
The Provincial Goverment
Since the time of Sigmar Heldenhammer, the lands of what is today the Empire was divided between many semi-autonomous states that are collectively referred to as the Great Provinces or Electoral Provinces, named because the Elector Counts who rule them traditionally have a say in the election of the next Emperor. The provinces are further divided into various counties, baronies, or leagues whose administrative governors are appointed by the Elector Count. These regional governors, in turn, appoint the governors of cities. This practice, however, is not universally prevalent: some cities have been known to elect their own municipal councils. Theoretically, the boundaries of the Imperial provinces were based on the territories of the ancient barbarian tribes that Sigmar had united around him during his reign as the nation's first Emperor, however, over the last several centuries, the dynastic quarrels and ruthless ambition between various Lords and Counts have altered the borders, where new states have emerged while others have since disappeared from history.[1f]
The patriotic citizenry that lives within these provinces are fiercely proud of their people's traditions and ancestry. In essence, the people of each provinces are in many ways a completely different people, with many expressions or dialects varying from province to province. The people of the east and north are generally more hardy and warlike as they are regularly victims of invasions, while those in the West and South are perceived as more cosmopolitan and "civilized" or effeminate and proud, according to the view of the person to whom a person asks. The style of government also varies from province to province. Talabecland, for example, is firmly autocratic, while Solland had many democratic ideals and institutions during its existence. In the overall health of the nation, however, the political structure between various governments has very little influence on the lives of the citizen of the Empire overall, for the rich are still widely favored over the poor who live in squalor.[1g][2d]
The lands of the Great Provinces are themselves a patchwork of smaller semi-autonomous states or holdings belonging to a certain religious Cult or martial Order, chartered towns and cities, and lands held by various noble families or even Elector Counts of other provinces. This patchwork is the result of a millennia of feudalism, inheritance, war, and purchases. Each noble, from the smallest landholders to the greatest Duke is theoretically beholden to one above him, up to the Elector Counts, who would then answer only to the Emperor himself. Thus, if the Emperor has a problem with the Duke of Niebelwald, he has to make his complaints through the Elector of Averland, who the Duke is a vassal towards.[1g]
Provinces in the Empire are divided between those who are ruled by an Elector Count, an Elector and those who are ruled by mere nobles.
The rulers of the Electoral Provinces, which are also called the Grand Provinces, are effectively sovereigns in their own realms, meaning they are largely able to exercise their authority as they see fit within the boundaries of their domains without needing to ask the Emperor’s permission. Some are more independent than others, thanks to special privileges granted by previous Emperors. For example, the City States of Middenheim and Talabheim send no taxes to the Imperial coffers, and only have to supply troops during times of war when all the other provinces have been exhausted.[9a]
Down through the centuries, there have also been other provincial rulers granted a right to vote for the next Emperor. This right has been granted by Emperors in the past for various political or social reasons, but is not linked to a royal title or the right to claim a Runefang. Currently, the Empire only has one Electoral Province ruled by an Elector: the Grand County of Mootland.[9b]
There are also many lesser, non-Electoral Provinces. The rulers of these Provinces are not considered to have royal blood but are important for historical, political, religious, or societal reasons. As a result, non-Electors often rival, or nearly equal, the less powerful Electors. Provincial rulers are responsible first to their liege, the relevant Elector above them, and secondly to the Emperor. They appeal directly to their Elector, not the Emperor, for justice if they feel wronged. Just to add to the confusion, some of the Provinces are also ruled directly by an Elector Count, but do not have Electoral privileges.[9b]
The Prime Estates are ruled by the vassals of the Electoral Provinces and Provinces. Whether the land is a duchy, march, league, county, palatinate, barony, or something else, its ruler is considered one of the most important nobles in the Empire, and can vote in the Prime Estate Diet. Most Prime Estates are split into many smaller fiefs.[9c]
A fief is ruled by a Noble House that has not sworn loyalty directly to its Elector Count, but to a lesser noble, perhaps a ruler of a Prime Estate. However, that doesn’t mean such nobles wield any lesser power in their personal domains.[9c]
The City States
The City-State forms a privileged semi-autonomous state that can assert its political, legal, and military defense on a specific territory; the closed city wall and its immediate entours. The city is a concentration of economic, political, religious, academic, and ideological power, thanks to its very diverse society and its semi-democratic ruling. Most cities form independent political entities within the greater Imperial government. [2d]
For the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Empire, it is through the city that the government is manifested in everyday life. This is where the taxes are collected, where the criminal courts are served, where a military service is completed, and where the goods are sold. The governmental structure varies from city to city. In some of them, the governor is sometimes appointed by the Elector Count as an autocratic authority, whilst others consist of democratically elected individuals from several noble or mercantile families.[2d]
The forces of Chaos in the Northern Wastes and internal Chaos corruption is not the only problem the Empire and its rulers face. Other realms surround the Empire, and its relations with them have often proven contentious.[1m]
The Empire's relations with Bretonnia have not always been harmonious. In the days of Sigmar, the Bretonni tribes refused to join the Heldenhammer's alliance. While the Empire was founded only a year after the Battle of Black Fire Pass, it was 980 years until Gilles le Breton united the Bretonni tribes and founded a new kingdom.[1m]
Since the Empire is the elder state by nearly a millennium, its rulers have often taken an arrogant approach in their dealings with Bretonnia, one the noble descendants of Gilles le Breton have not appreciated. During the Great War Against Chaos, the Bretonnians declined to send aid to Magnus the Pious, leaving the Men of the Empire and Kislev to defeat the Chaos incursion without the aid of the other major Human realm of the Old World.[1m]
Not all in the Empire bear Kislev goodwill, however. The Elector Count of Talabecland remembers his province's ancient claims to large portions of Kislevite territory. Trade between Kislev and the Empire moves mainly along the River Talabec.[1m]
Far from the immediate concerns of the war against the Chaos tribes of the north, the Tilean city-states continue their blithe habits of arguing, fighting, and trading with each other, when they are not arguing, fighting, and trading with the Estalians or the Arabyans.[1m]
Although once, long ago during the reign of Emperor Gunthar II "the Faithful", the Empire ruled much of northern Tilea, contact between the two realms is largely confined to trade via the middlemen of Marienburg, though some Tilean merchant houses, especially from the cities of Miragliano and Remas, have taken advantage of the recent discovery of the River of Echoes from northern Tilea to Wissenland to set up trading offices in Nuln, Pfeildorf, and other southern Imperial towns. The Tilean merchants hope to use this as a reliable route to bypass Marienburg and cut costs, since the mountain passes are frequently blocked by snow.[1m]
With the coming of war with the forces of Chaos, Tilean influence has increased in military affairs. Tilean mercenaries, particularly their crossbowmen and pikemen, were always a common sight in the Empire, but, more and more, priests and priestesses of Myrmidia, the southern goddess of war, are taking positions of influence with southern and western Imperial nobles, as advisors and even field commanders. Weakened in the fighting against the forces of Chaos, the Cult of Ulric looks askance on this challenge to their influence.[1m]
Far across the stormy Sea of Claws, small Norscan kingdoms generally friendly to the Empire cling to the coasts, trying to hold out against the Chaos-aligned barbarians and berserkers that dominate the interior of Norsca.[1m]
To the south and southwest of the Empire, the lands of the Border Princes have long been both a thorn in the side of the Empire and a safety valve for its malcontents. The princes and petty lords of this land must deal with frequent raids by Orcs and Goblins, some of which are large bands trying to reach the Empire. The local rulers fear that, if the Greenskins raise enough trouble in the Empire, then the Elector Counts of the southern Grand Provinces may decide that the time to reannex these lands has come.[1m]
Marienburg, for all the occasional noises from the Empire and the Cult of Sigmar about "reclaiming lost provinces," has good if quiet relations with the Empire. The similar culture and shared history of the Empire and its wayward city-state helps, as do the regular payments on the debts owed to Marienberg merchants and bankers by several Elector Counts, lower Imperial nobles, and free towns. Marienburg also relies on the Empire to be a counterbalance to Bretonnian ambitions. Thus, the current weakened state of the Empire has the ruling Directorate of Marienberg deeply concerned.[1m]
"The mountains that ring the three sides of the natural lands of the Empire are like the walls of a stout castle. These days, however, those walls are so thinly manned that the castle looks set to fall."
- —Albert Kornhammer, Priest of Sigmar[1a]
The Empire is a vast region at the heart of the Old World that consists of a multitude of landscapes and biomes. The domains that recognise Imperial authority usually encompasses the lands in between the three large mountain ranges that occupy the Empire's eastern, southern and western borders.[1a]
The northern border is usually defined along the shores of the Sea of Claws within Nordland, whilst the north-eastern border is usually not as well-defined. In theory, the border between Kislev and the Empire is often defined by the edge of the Great Forest and the Forest of Shadows. However, this has not always been the case, and perhaps the most wel-defined border between the two realms is along the banks of the Upper Talabec River and the edge of the Forest of Shadows.[1a]
Within this large territory, the lands of the Empire are often further divided between several distinct regions with varying environments. The lands of the northern Empire usually consist almost entirely of large swaths of forest and uninhabited wilderness, whilst the lands to the south are comprised of fertile plains fit for large-scale agriculture.[1a]
Ramparts of Stone
The mountains that encompass the southern borders of the Empire is the Black Mountains, a range of mountains that branches out from the greater Worlds Edge Mountains. This massive region of treacherous terrain is a natural border that divides the Empire from the frontiers of the Border Princes. The most viable route through the mountains lies within a region known famously as Black Fire Pass. This pass serves as an important trade route for the Empire, as it follows the ancient road system that connects the city of Averheim with that of the Dwarfish capital of Karaz-a-Karak. The southern borders are also a frequent hotspot for marauding armies of Greenskin invaders hoping to plunder the lands of the Empire, with Black Fire Pass being the most obvious route. As such, the province of Averland is usually given the duty to protect the southern borders of the Empire from enemy invasions.[1a][2e]
The mountains that encompass the western borders of the Empire is perhaps the least treacherous of all the bordering mountain ranges. The Grey Mountains act as a buffer zone for the territories of the kingdom of Bretonnia and that of the Empire, although in the Bretonnian case, the entire Grey Mountain range belongs to the dukedoms of Montfort and Parravon respectively. However, such a claim is always disputed with the Dwarfs of the Grey Mountains, who built Dwarf Holds such as Karak Norn, Karak Ziflin, and Karak Azgaraz long before the founding of Bretonnia.[1a][2e]
There are about three passes that can be used to move through these mountains, which usually consist of the Gisoreux Gap to the north, the Axe Bite Pass in the centre, and the Grey Lady Pass to the south. Although these mountains are less dangerous than other mountain ranges, the Grey Mountains are known to have the fewest mineral deposits within the whole of the Old World.[1a][2e]
Perhaps the greatest and largest of these mountains lies to the east, within the towering peaks of the Worlds Edge Mountains. Considered by many to be the homeland of the Dwarfs, this mighty mountain range stands like a titanic wall that separates the civilised lands of the Old World from the horrors and warfare of the distant east. As such, it is undisputedly one of the most dangerous mountain ranges within the Old World.[1a][2e]
"The Gods of the Empire rule overall. Regardless of whether you are peasant or burgher, knight or priest, rat catcher of the Emperor himself, all must pay heed to the wisdom, rules, and decrees of the Gods. To ignore them, or worse, belittle them, is to invite disaster."
- —Alfred Schumann, Priest of Verena[5a]
A deeply superstitious people, the Empire has always looked to their Gods for hope, prosperity, and salvation upon a world that is awash with misery, destruction, and corruption. Generally, nearly every village, town, and city has dedicated a portion of its wealth and land to the construction and maintenance of at least one Imperial deity. It is from these temples and shrines that people deposit their daily offerings, hoping to curry their favor and perhaps improve their lives in some way or form.[5a]
These Cults possess a considerable political influence on the workings of the Empire, be it through religious or fiscal means. Such is the case that even the Cult of Sigmar and the Cult of Ulric have an Electoral power to choose who shall become the next Emperor, a power that is usually reserved only for the Elector Counts. Currently, the Cult of Sigmar holds the strongest influence within the Empire's large web of bureaucracy, having the ability to cast 3 votes within the selection process, with each vote being divided towards the Grand Theogonist and his two Arch Lectors. Such is the ever-growing influence of the Sigmarite Cult that it is now common to consider the people of the Empire simply as Sigmar's Folk, or the Sons of Sigmar.[5a]
Depending on the location of a particular community, some areas of the Empire have a certain degree of worship often towards a certain family of gods. Within the northern provinces of the Empire, the people of those harsh lands have been known to worship an older pantheon of Gods known as the Elder Gods, whilst in the south, the worship of the Classical Gods is more common.[5a]
Such religious differences have been known to have resulted in the Empire experiencing a certain degree of religious strife, the most prominent of which was during a period of civil war that many historians called the Age of Three Emperors. During that time, an elected Emperor along with his Sigmarite followers fought against two self-proclaimed Emperors of the province of Middenland and Talabecland, both of which were worshippers of Ulric and Taal. The resulting devastation and centuries of warfare has ensured the creation of a regular Conclave of Faith in Altdorf for the High Priests of every major faith in the Empire to gather together letting them air their disputes to the reigning Emperor and come into an agreement without the need for bloodshed.[5a]
The Patron God
The Empire has been known to worship a specific God that is not connected with either the Elder or Classical Gods. Instead, the Imperials worships a God who was originally born as a mortal, who founded the Empire and was rewarded by the Old World Pantheons with the ultimate gift of Godhood.[1l]
The Northern Gods
The Elder Gods, also known as the Country Gods or the Northern Gods, are the oldest of the Old World pantheons, whose origins of worship can be traced back for nearly two millennia during the time when primitive Human tribes began to settle within the lands of the Empire and the Old World.[1l]
- Taal - God of the Wilds and the husband of Rhya.[1l]
- Rhya - Goddess of Agriculture and Birth and the wife of Taal.[1l]
- Manann - God of the Sea and the son of Taal and Rhya.[1l]
- Ulric - God of Winter and Wolves and the younger brother of Taal.[1l]
The Southern Gods
The Classical Gods, also known as the Town Gods or the Southern Gods, are the youngest of the Old World pantheons, whose worship is usually confined to the lands of the southern Empire, and the lands of Tilea and Estalia.[1l]
- Morr - God of Death and the husband of Verena.[1l]
- Verena - Goddess of Justice and Learning and the wife of Morr.[1l]
- Myrmidia - Goddess of Warfare and Strategy and the daughter of Morr and Verena.[1l]
- Shallya - Goddess of Mercy and Healing and the daughter of Morr and Verena.[1l]
- Ranald - God of Trickery and Thieves.[1l]
Despite being generally open about the worship of foreign deities, some gods are forbidden. The Dark Gods and their kind, and the gods of races like the Greenskins are the most prominent, but many others also exist and are targeted by witch hunters.[1l]
- Khaine - Classical God of Blood and Murder and the younger brother of Morr.[1l]
- Stromfels - God of Wreckers and Pirates, darker aspect of Manann.[1l]
"Where march you, men of Riekland, where carry you halberd and sword... We march to war for our Emperor, and Sigmar our savior and lord... Tomorrow we go to war, to face the hordes of Chaos... Tomorrow we will be buried, in cold graves that await us... And when the fighting is done, and the sun goes down at night... Hear my prayers, save my soul, and take me to Sigmar's Light..."
- —Old soldier's song from Reikland[2g]
By decree of Magnus the Pious, every province and city-state in the Empire must maintain a State or Provincial Army at its own expense.[7a][8a][2a][3b] Together, these regional forces make up the Imperial Army, the force that mans the Empire's fortresses, patrols the Empire's borders, repels the Empire's invaders,[7a] and, in many places, acts as local law-enforcement. These soldiers are armed with a variety of weapons, the most common being the Halberd, Sword, and Spear.[2a][3b]
As well as having a standing army, the Empire has the ability to call up and use the warships of the Imperial Navy, which are divided amongst the First Fleet and Second Fleet, stationed within the provinces of Reikland and Nordland respectively.[4a] In addition, Imperial forces are often supplemented with militia troops that are little better than recruits,[8a] and more professional mercenaries.[7a][8a]
Since its existence, the Empire has always been a nation born and bred for war, fighting off foes uncountable with the will, the steel, and the faith of their patriotic citizenry. With an unending chain of constant warfare, the armies of the Empire are brimmed with grizzled Veterans of many campaigns, each one lead by an even greater man of strength, valor, and heroic leadership. As their nation progress throughout the centuries, innovations and inventions were re-engineered for the use of warfare, with the armies of the Empire now stockpiled with large quantities of devastating black-powder weaponry and the technological marvels of the 25th century.[2a][3b]
With the need for professional soldiers always on the rise, each Imperial soldier is regularly trained, equipped, and maintained at the expense of the Imperial government. Enlistment in the state troops means enlistment in a full-time profession, where those with skill at arms enlist as basic front-line soldiers. Armies stationed within the richer south are equipped with the finest weaponry and armor available to them by their local government, with standard equipment being comparably superior to those in other national armies.[2a][2o][3b]
Each regiment has a wide variety of weapons for certain types of engagements, with spears, halberds, and swords being the most common and the most flexible in battle situations. Imperial regiments used as long-range support are often equipped with handguns, crossbows, and longbows, among others. When not in war, Imperial soldiers are required to drill and train on a regular basis in order to build their stamina and deepen their martial abilities when the time for combat soon reappears. Supervised by drill sergeants, these men are harshly instructed in the importance of formation tactics and the need to fight as a cohesive unit capable of lending support to one another in the chaos of the battlefield. Those soldiers not stationed within a campaigning army usually serves as guards, acting as the local city watch, fire watch, and enforcers of the law, patrolling the streets or roads of the provinces for anything as small as minor criminal activities to as large as Beastmen raids.[2a][2o][3b]
State trooper regiments typically wear the color or colors associated with their provinces or city-states as a means of identification amongst the many Imperial armies, although some exceptions are occasionally made. There are no overriding rules governing how, where, or in what proportions these colors are used; instead, colors differ based on individual regiments' own traditions, their preferred uniforms, the whim of their commanders, the demands of the nobility, or even just the availability of materials and dyes. One regiment might be outfitted entirely in its provincial colors, while another could only bear sleeves or leggings of their province's associated color hue. Many regiments, however, distinguish themselves by the use of minor details such as sleeves, cuffs, plumes, hats, or collars in a common uniform color.[2a][2o][3b][3j]
Some regiments do follow strict uniform regulations, but most units leave individual soldiers to procure their own garbs, resulting in a variety of gear that are often in differing states of wear. Regardless, troops on the march, based in the wilderness, or campaigning are generally more ragtag in appearance as their equipment wears out and replacements must be found.[2a][2o][3b]
When on the battlefield, each Imperial regiment would usually have supporting detachments of soldiers to help them fight in combat,[2d] such as auxiliary units of hand gunners, archers, and crossbowmen; as well as supporting artillery companies and Calvary squadrons. Each unit has a role to play in the battlefield, such as securing their flanks from enemy attacks, reinforcing the front-line with fresh troops, or providing missile fire from supporting regiments of auxiliary units.[3d]Alongside these warriors are cadres of mighty War Wizards trained by the Magisters of the Eight Colleges of Magic.[3o] Such organization and cooperation has made Imperial armies particularly dreaded in the Old World. Were it not for the endless wars, famines, and corruption that has plagued the Empire's long history, no other nation could have hope to stop them should they be allowed to concentrate their entire military might into a single earth-shattering campaign.[2a][3b]
- Empire Swordsmen - Swordsmen are amongst the three most common infantry types fielded by the armies of the Empire. Equipped with a sword, shield, and half-plate armor, these brave soldiers often engage the best enemy with both valor and courage. Due to their expertise with the sword and their flexible formation, the Swordsmen of the Empire provides the military with reliable offensive capability.[2o][3b]
- Empire Halberdier - Halberdiers are amongst the three most common infantry types fielded by the armies of the Empire. Equipped with a battle-worn halberd, these groups of line infantry are a powerful force on the battlefield, proving the Empire with both offensive and defensive capability with bone-crushing force.[2o][3b]
- Empire Spearmen - Spearmen are amongst the three most common infantry types fielded by the armies of the Empire. Equipped with a spear and shield, the solid formation that this unit provides is highly adequate in defensive situations, providing the Empire with much-needed holding power.[2o][3b]
- Free Company - A Free Company is a polite catch-all term to describe all sell-swords, mercenaries, cut-throats, and bandits paid to fight for the Empire and her armies. They are hardy fighters and are well-accustomed to the rigours of war, but are undisciplined and unruly, liable to cause more harm than good when roaming around in armed bands. An Elector Count might employ these men for military service, but must ensure such men are under close watch to prevent them from running amok in his lands.[2p][3c]
- Free Company Militia - Not to be confused with the usual band of cutthroats and mercenaries, these rag-tag groups of patriotic civilians take up arms alongside the Empire's armies not out of the need for gold or glory, but to protect the lands of their birth from the depredation of all those that seek to destroy it.[2p][3c]
- Empire Handgunners - Handgunners are one of the primaries ranged units of the Imperial army. Equipped with the loud and deadly handgun, these men are highly trained as a line-formation of missile support that can penetrate even the thickest of enemy armor. As such, they are the mainstay of most Imperial missile support.[3b]
- Empire Archers - Archers are an often irregular group of hunters and trappers that usually band together to form their own regiment of scouts and support units. The more experienced and exceptional hunters and archers hail from the woodland province of Hochland, where hunting is a very popular sport amongst both the nobility and commoner alike. These men are often fielded when regiments of crossbowmen and handgunners are in short supply.[2o][3c]
- Empire Crossbowmen - Crossbowmen are the least most common ranged units following the introduction of gunpowder weaponry. In the past, Crossbowmen provided the Empire with a stronger degree of peneration against heavily-armored foes. As of now, some provinces still retain the use of Crossbows as a substitute should Handguns be unavailable. [3c]
- Empire Greatswords - Greatswords are the elite infantry of the Imperial army. Operating as a crack fighting force, their main duty is the protection of their Elector Counts during the heat of battle, and to provide the Empire with dedicated shock infantry, often attacking the Empire's foes at their flanks, where their swordsmanship puts even the most battle-hardened foes to their knee's.[2q][3e]
- Flagellants - Flagellants are an unorganized grouping of warriors and fanatics that unofficially serve the Church of Sigmar and many of the Empire's army's during a campaign. Though not considered a traditional Empire military asset, these fanatics are nonetheless used by many Imperial Generals for their great ferocity and complete lack of fear in the heat of battle. However due to their insanity, they are often accompanied by a Warrior Priest from the clergy of Sigmar to ensure these men are put on a tight leash.[2r]3i
- Empire Knights - Knights are one of the most common cavalry troops deployed in battle. Many knights have a certain color scheme or heraldry that identifies them with either a knightly order or a noble household. They are considered heavy shock cavalry, wearing heavy plate armor and wielding lances and swords into battle. Knights tend to be born from the nobler families of the Empire, a tradition that is often kept and practiced by most Knightly Orders. Those of common birth who are exceptionally-skilled with a weapon often serves as sergeants and squires for their knights. Although not considered full brothers of their orders, sergeants and squires play vital roles in supporting the knights in battle, and are often equally respected for their prowess in battle.[2s][2t][3f]
- Empire Pistoliers - Pistoliers are agile light cavalry that are meant to support the armies of the Empire in their role as dedicated scouts and skirmishers. Equipped with light armor and a brace of pistol, these units can harass the enemy with a hail of bullets and can flee the scene to avoid any repercussions.[3e]
- Empire Outriders - Outriders are those veteran Pistoliers whom have survived their time within the Pistolier Korps but have not yet been able to join any of the Knightly Orders afterwards. Instead, these veterans are promoted into the ranks of the Outriders, an elite core of cavalry equipped with deadly repeater handguns, and adorned with a greater degree of armor.
- Demigryph Knights - Demigryph Knights are amongst the most powerful and heavily armored shock calvary within the Imperial arsenal. Not only are these horsemen excellent knights, but they also ride one of the most dangerous and fearsome creatures ever to live within the depths of the Reikwald Forest. A Demigryph is another variant of the Griffon, a creature similar in appearance but somewhat smaller, more numerous and often have no wings for flight. These beasts are only seen in the depths of the Reikwald Forest, which provides more safety for prides of these beast against creatures such as Beastmen or Greenskins living in the more hostile Forest of the North. Thought smaller and flightless, these beasts of war are no less fearsome in their attacks, as a single Demigryph knight can more than hold his own in any battle through the use of the Demigryph's claws and the knight's armored steel.[2u]
- Empire Great Cannon - Great Cannons are one of the most common pieces of Imperial artillery, with the Dwarfs and the Empire being the largest producers of gunpowder in the entire Old World. Great Cannons are among the largest of the mobile cannons built and utilised by the Empire. Imperial cannons are made primarily at the Gunnery School of Nuln and it is from here that both the cannons and the crews that operate them come from. Most provinces of the Empire maintain an artillery train and many cities equipped themselves with varying sizes to defend their walls. Larger then other cannons, the Great Cannons can be somewhat unreliable and may misfire, wounding or even killing their crews, but their battlefield value in destroying entire ranks of enemies has ensured its continued service within the Empire warmachine.[3g]
- Empire Mortar - Mortars are squat cannons that fire at a high angle, lobbing projectiles over troops or even tall walls. They fire an explosive shell which can cause severe damage to a tightly packed regiment of troops.[3g]
- Helblaster Volley Cannon - The Helblaster is an experimental artillery piece that was first created within the factories of Nuln by the famous inventor Von Meinkopt, a former engineer of the great School of Engineers. This infamous weapon has the ability to fire multiple cannon balls in a 3 round-burst, with enough strength in it to be able to tear whole regiments of men or beasts into limbs and torsos. However, it is also known for its unreliablity since the weapon regularly malfunctions or even explodes.[3g][2w]
- Helstorm Rocket Battery - The Helstorm is another experimental artillery piece created by the Master Engineer Herman Faulkstein. This eccentric piece of artillery is notoriously inaccurate yet when it does hit its intended target, the effects are devastating, with entire enemy regiments blown to smithereens by an earth-shaking cascade of shrieking explosive rockets.[3g][2w]
Empire War Machines
- Steam Tank - Steam Tanks are monstrous, smoke-belching creation that rumbles towards the enemy, firing deadly cannonballs to plow through the enemy ranks while charging headlong into battle, protected by extremely thick steel plating. Indeed, these wondrous inventions are powerful and extremely formidable, but they have weaknesses as well. The most glaring weakness is the rarity of these machines: when Leonardo mysteriously disappeared, no one has ever been able to create another one and the secrets for its creation was lost. Leonardo made 12 of the mighty tanks, but as the years went on, some steam tanks were inevitably lost and now only 8 remain. They are also becoming more and more unreliable and less potent than in their earlier years, as it proves difficult to properly repair the machine without Leonardo's guidance. Nevertheless, these machines are dreaded in the battlefield and it is a legendary day to have all 8 of these monstrous beasts in the field at the same time. Some have said that within the foundries of Nuln, ingenious Engineers have begun to learn from Leonardo's scimatics and are as we speak creating a newer generation of Steam-tank to be used in the later wars of the Empire.[3g]
- War Altar of Sigmar - The War Altar of Sigmar is a wonderous battle-altar that is known not for its magical or mechanical power, but a spiritual one. This Altar is a wheeled chariot, decorated with many heraldries and talismans that helps protect it and its user from harm, and to bestow those around it with awe and spiritual fervor. However, the greatest of the magical items imbued within the Altar is that of the giant golden Gryphon, a symbol of the Empire and the personal emblem used by the great Imperial hero, Emperor Magnus the Pious. This Altar is always ridden by a Sigmarite spiritual leader, such as the Arch Lector or even the Grand Theogonist himself.[2v]
- Luminark of Hysh - The Luminark is a chariot similar in ways to the War Altar of Sigmar, though it is not one of spiritual power but a magical one. This chariot is imbued with the strong energies of the Light Order, with a massive construct built within the roof of the chariot that emits powerful rays of pure light energy towards the foes from which the wizard controlling seeks to destroy, burning through flesh and metal with equal power. Such is the power and rarity of these constructs that the Light Order is extremely reluctant to send a single one to be used for the benefit of the Empire.[2x]
- Celestial Hurricanum - similar to the Luminark of Hysh, this construct is of similar design but hails from the Celestial Wizards of the Celestial College. This Altar emits powerful energies from the Winds of Azyr, giving the wizard controlling it with unrivalled power over the heavens, where lightning bolts and meteorites crash towards their foes below in a hurricane of violence. The Orb of Sorcery that sits at the centre of the construct gathers these energies around it, eventually growing from a steady breeze to a mighty whirling hurricane. Such power is obsessively kept within the Celestial College, and it is rare indeed for these Altars to be deployed in battle.[2x]
- Empire War Wagon - now an obsolete war-machine, this rather odd contraption was formerly used to transport Empire soldiers through the battlefield and provide a vantage point for units of archers or cannoner's to fire at the enemy. The size of these War-Wagons can vary, with some as small as a oversize hay-cart to some growing as tall as an Empire bastion. As of now, the Empire War Wagons have been replaced with the more reliable and heavily armored Steam Tank.
- Empire General - Empire Generals are amongst the highest commanding officers within a Imperial army, second only in command to an Elector Count or the Emperor himself. These officers vary greatly in rank, depending on the size of the force they lead, and are usually known within the Empire as captains, marshals, generals or sometimes simply commanders. Regardless of their social status, they will be tested veterans of many years of experience in soldiering, having spent most of their lives practicing the arts of war in defence of their besieged homelands.[2i]
- Empire Wizard Lord - A Wizard Lord is a highly prestigious rank within the Imperial Colleges of Magic that are second only to the Matriarch or Patriach of a Magic Order. A being of immense but unstable power, these mighty Men of the Empire are amongst the strongest particioner's of magic within the realms of Man. Such is their great knowledge at their perfered Magic Lore that these Wizards are accompanied by a whole cadre of lesser Wizards and Adepts, using their magical abilities to further augment the Wizard Lords already formidable powers into ever grander strenght.
- Arch Lector of Sigmar - An Arch Lector of Sigmar is one of the highest positions within the hierarchy of the Church of Sigmar, second only to the Grand Theogonist in terms of his political and religious authority. These men are the very embodiedment of both strenght and faith in their warrior diety Sigmar. When war calls the High Priests of Sigmar to battle, it is an awe-inspiring sight to see them ride at the head of an army atop the mighty War Altar of Sigmar.
- Empire Grand Master - A Grand Master is a warrior and leader of unparalleled valour, having fought in dozens of battles from atop his great warhorse and whose military prowess is beyond question. These mighty warriors are the leaders of one of the many prestigious Knightly Orders that populate many of the Empire's lands, a position of power suited for only the most wisest and martialed member of their Order.
- Captain of the Empire - A Captain of the Empire is a veteran military commander possessed of a variety of different formal titles who leads a smaller regiment or other unit of troops within an Imperial army. These leaders take to the field of battle whenever they can. Most of the men appointed by an Elector Count to serve as officers in their province's armies will also be nobles of the Empire, educated in martial pursuits from an early age, whilst others are simply high-born cowards with no courage or leadership.
- Warrior Priest of Sigmar - Warrior Priests are a war-like sect of the Church of Sigmar who not only lead and inspire Imperial troops in battle, but also minister to their spiritual needs. On many an occasion a rousing speech by a Warrior Priest of Sigmar has restored the troops' faith, brought hope to a seemingly lost cause, or prevented a mutiny when the words of even the most respected commanders had fallen on frightened and angry ears. Warrior Priests of Sigmar normally wear mail or full plate armour underneath their holy vestments, wield the mighty warhammers that are the favoured weapon of Sigmar, and ride into battle atop powerful Imperial warhorses. Among the most commonly employed divine powers of a Warrior Priest are prayers.[2m][3h]
- Witch Hunter - Witch Hunters are highly dreaded figures in the lands of the Empire, feared by both enemies and allies alike. These zealous warriors are part of the Church of Sigmar, also known as the Order of Sigmar, whose job is to eradicate and kill any if not all Chaos Worshippers that dare to defile the lands of the God-King Sigmar of Old.[2n]
- Empire Master Engineer - Empire Master Engineers are those select few individuals amongst many thousand that have the knowledge and skills to create, maintain and operate wonderous inventions of war in the battle against the Empire's foes. These Engineers are highly schooled in mathematics and engineering, having the skills to direct artillery pieces into position and calibrating them to their full potential.[2l][3g]
- Empire Battle Wizard - Empire Battle Wizards are individuals with the knowledge and power of one of the great Winds of Magic, who has been schooled from one of the eight Colleges of Magic within the capital of Altdorf, and are now giving their services to the Empire.[2j]
Notable Regiments of the Empire
- Altdorf Company of Honour - A Reikland Regiment of highly-trained and highly-equipped troops dedicated to the service of the Emperor and the city of Altdorf.
- Von Kragsburg Guard - An Averland Regiment dedicated to the safeguarding of merchants and travelers along the Old Dwarf Road, in exchange for spoils and gold.
- The Swords of Ulric - A Middenland Regiment formed and funded by the Temple of Ulric in Middenhiem as a special fighting force meant to safeguard and patrol the Drakwald region of Middenland.
- Grundel's Defenders - A Wissenland Regiment formed for the sole purpose of protecting important and irreplaceable cannons and mortar batteries from the claws of the Empire's enemy.
- Sterntower Marksmen - A newly formed Wissenland Regiment created to guard the eastern foothills of Wissenland from any at all threats posed against the capital of Nuln.
- Fireloques of Ferlangen - An Ostland Regiment of highly skilled and accurate sharpshooters hailing from the distant province of Ostland.
- Carroburg Greatswords - A Reikland Regiment that was known highly for their participation in the Siege of Carroburg in 1865, which resulted in the utter destruction of a massive Middenland army intended to invade Reikland.
- Deathjacks - A Stirland Regiment renowned by many for their achery and skills of tracking.
- The Death's Heads - An Ostermark Regiment who gained notoriety for their zealous pursuit against all Vampire after the end of the first Vampire Wars.
The 11 Electoral Provinces of the Empire include:
- Grand Principality of Reikland
- Grand County of Stirland
- Grand Barony of Hochland - Hochland is a former Electoral Province that was attached to Talabheim and then was re-granted its electoral privileges after the Turmoil of 2512 IC.
- Grand County of Averland
- Grand Barony of Wissenland
- Grand Duchy of Talabecland
- League of Ostermark - Ostermark was a former Electoral Province attached to Talabecland that was re-granted its electoral privileges after the Turmoil of 2512 IC.
- Grand Duchy of Nordland - Nordland was a former Electoral Province attached to Middenheim that was re-granted its electoral privileges after the Turmoil of 2512 IC.
- Grand Principality of Ostland
- Grand Duchy of Middenland
- Grand County of the Mootland - The Mootland, also called simply "the Moot," is the region of the realm where the Halflings of the Empire dwell, known officially as the Grand County of the Mootland. The Moot's elector, currently the Halfling Elder Hisme Stoutheart, is the only non-Human elector in the Empire, and like the Grand Theogonist and Arch Lectors of Sigmar, and the Ar-Ulric, does not wield one of the magical Runefangs as a sign of their office and authority.
Former Grand Provinces
The former Electoral provinces of the Empire and other Imperial regions of note:
- Solland - Solland was destroyed as an independent Imperial province in the wake of Gorbad Ironclaw's Orc invasion of the Empire in 1707 IC and its territory was ultimately absorbed by the Grand Barony of Wissenland.
- Westerland (The Wasteland) - The Westerland was the Imperial province that was the seat of the great commercial city of Marienburg that seceded from the Empire in 2429 IC and became an independent city-state. Emperor Wilhem III recognized the Westerland's independence after the forces of Marienburg forcefully defeated an Imperial army dispatched to return them to the Imperial fold. The province is now known across the Old World as the Wasteland, perhaps out of a fit of pique on the part of the people of the Empire.
- Drakwald - Drakwald was a founding Electoral Province of the Empire that was located near the center of the Drakwald Forest, now divided up between Middenland and Nordland.
Other provinces that were once founded, but now have been abandoned:
- Lichtenberg - founded in the modern lands of the Border Princes.[10b]
- West Mark - founded in the modern territories of Bretonnia.[10b]
Provinces attached to one of the Electoral Provinces after the Turmoil are the following:[9c]
- The Princedom of Altdorf - attached to Reikland
- The Princedom of Averheim - attached to Averland
- The Princedom of Carroburg - attached to Middenland
- The Princedom of Wurtbad - attached to Stirland
- The Protectorate of Drakwald - attached to Middenland
- The Arch-duchy of Dunkelkoste - attached to Talabecland
- The Duchy of Middenheim - attached to Middenland
- The Grand County of Nuln - attached to Wissenland
- The Barony of Sudenland - attached to Wissenland
- The Duchy of Talabheim - attached to Talabecland
- The Northern March - attached to Ostland
- The County of Sylvania - Sylvania was formerly the County of Sylvania, an independent Imperial province, but it is now officially a fief of the Grand County of Stirland. It can be sure that no other province of the Empire would want the accursed place that was home to the von Carstein line of Vampires and their necromancer and Undead followers.
- The Arch-duchy of Upper Teufel - attached to Reikland
- The March of Vennland - attached to Wissenland
- The Westenmark - attached to Middenland
The Empire has since expanded to new continents beyond the Old World. These do not have representation within the Empire at large.
- New Coast - located in the Southlands and consisting of settlements like Sudenburg and Leopoldheim.
- Neuland - a colony founded on Albion.
Twelve Original Provinces
The provinces that Sigmar created when he founded the Empire are not necessarily the same ones that exist at present. Some have been lost to disaster, others to invasion or civil war. Following is a list of the twelve original Great Provinces of the Empire, including their associated tribe and original ruler. The first Elector Counts were drawn from this "Great Confederacy;" as such, many Imperial nobles attempt to link their family line to one of these great leaders.[10a]
- Averland - Brigundians (Siggurd).
- Drakwald - Thuringians (Otwin).
- Hochland - Cherusens (Aloysis).
- Ostermark - Ostagoths (Adelhard).
- Ostland - Udoses (Wolfila).
- Solland - Menogoths (Markus).
- Stirland - Asoborns (Freya).
- Talabecland - Taleutens (Krugar).
- Westerland - Endals (Marbad).
- Wissenland - Merogens (Henroth).
Cities of the Empire
- Altdorf- Altdorf is the capital city of the Grand Principality of Reikland and the current capital city of the Empire itself, as well as the home of the Imperial Colleges of Magic and the Imperial College of Engineers.[2d]
- Nuln - The city of Nuln, located between four provinces, Reikland, Wissenland, Averland and Stirland, and two great rivers, the Reik and the Aver, is the home of the famed Imperial Gunnery School and several of the oldest and most prestigious universities of the Empire. Nuln is the former capital city of the Empire under the Emperor Magnus the Pious, until it was moved back to the traditional Imperial capital at Altdorf in 2429 IC. There is no Elector Count of Nuln, although the Countess Emmanuelle von Liebewitz of the Grand Barony of Wissenland is based in the city. Von Liebwitz is the Chancellor of the University of Nuln and is known for her extravagant parties, desiring to surpass the Imperial Court in Altdorf through sheer decadence. Nuln is also the base of one of the two Arch-Lectors of the Cult of Sigmar. The temple to Sigmar is large and ornate and attracts thousands of pilgrims due to its connections with Magnus the Pious. The second most important temple in Nuln is that of Verena.[2d]
- Middenheim - Capital city of Middenland.[2d]
- Marienburg - Marienburg was the largest commercial city in the Old World that seceded from the Empire in 2429 IC and took the former province of Westerland (now the Wasteland) with it. It is now an independent city-state ruled by its most powerful merchants.
- Talabheim - Talabheim is the capital city of the Grand Duchy of Talabecland.
- Averheim - Averheim is the capital city of the Grand County of Averland.
- Mordheim - Mordheim was once a major Imperial city and the former capital of the League of Ostermark until it was destroyed by a falling comet of Warpstone in the year 1999 IC. The survivors mutated, and the entire city became a dangerous ruin whose monstrous inhabitants threatened the rest of the Empire until it was destroyed by the forces of the Grand Theogonist of Sigmar and the Knightly Orders of the Empire.
- Wolfenburg - Wolfenburg is the large town that serves as the capital of the Grand Principality of Ostland.
- Salzenmund - Salzenmund is the medium-sized town that serves as the capital of the rural Grand Barony of Nordland.
- Drakenhof - The Drakenhof was the dread castle that served as the capital of the County of Sylvania that was once ruled by the von Carstein line of Vampires and is now a fief of the Grand County of Stirland.
- The Great Forest - The Great Forest is an immense woodland that encompasses much of the Empire's territory across its southern and western regions and keeps its cities and towns largely isolated from one another. The Great Forest, particularly in its northern and northeastern reaches, is home to dozens of groups of Greenskins, Beastmen, mutants, Chaos Cultists, Human bandits.
- The Drakwald Forest - The most ancient woods in all the Old World, this region of woodland is infamous for throught the lands of the Empire as a realm of darkness and the home of untold number of Beastmen tribes.
- The Forest of Shadows - The northernmost forest within the Empire, this region of woodlands covers much of the province of Ostland, and acts as the borders from which separates the territory of Kislev and those of the Empire
- The Reikwald Forest - The safest forest within the Empire, this region of woodlands covers the lands of the Reiklands, famous for tranquility and peace.
List of Electors
- Averland - Disputed after the death of Marius Leitdorf.
- Hochland - Aldebrand Ludenhof.
- Middenland - Boris Todbringer.
- Nordland - Theoderic Gausser.
- Ostland - Valmir von Raukov.
- Reikland - Emperor Karl Franz.
- Stirland - Alberich Haupt-Anderssen.
- Talabecland - Helmut Feuerbach.
- Wissenland - Emmanuelle von Liebwitz.
- The Mootland - Hisme Stoutheart.
- Cult of Sigmar - Grand Theogonist Volkmar the Grim, Arch Lectors Kaslain and Aglim.
- Cult of Ulric - Ar-Ulric Emil Valgeir.
- Emperor Karl Franz - Karl Franz, also sometimes styled Karl-Franz or Karl Franz I, Protector of the Empire, Defiler of the Dark, Emperor Himself and the Son of Emperors, Elector Count of Reikland, and Prince of Altdorf (formal titles) is the current Emperor of the Empire, the Elector Count of Reikland, the Prince of Altdorf and the greatest statesman and general the Empire or perhaps the entire Old World has seen in many centuries. Karl Franz, who was elected to the Imperial title in 2502 IC and inherited it from his father, is acclaimed as a patron of the arts and science, as a military innovator, and as a valiant general. Thanks to his tireless efforts on the behalf of its people, the Empire has flourished during his reign like never before: the Imperial Engineers School in Altdorf has grown, the Colleges of Magic have thrived and his armies have marched from victory to victory, most recently during the terrible events of the Storm of Chaos. The Emperor frequently takes personal command of his troops, wielding Ghal Maraz, the fabled magical warhammer given to Sigmar himself by the Dwarf king Kurgan Ironbeard over two thousand years ago, or his Runefang sword, and riding atop Deathclaw, his Griffon mount of many years.[2y]
- Kurt Helborg - Kurk Helborg, is Karl Franz's closest friend, and one of the greatest military minds in the entire Empire. He is known by most as the Reikmarshal, having full authority when it comes to military affairs, second only in command to the Emperor himself. Kurt is an exceptional warrior as well as a leader and tactican, and has been responsible for leading many battles against the Empire's foes from as far north as Kislev to the furthest south as Araby.
- Ludwig Schwarzhelm - Lugwig, also known as the Emperor's Champion is another close friend of Emperor Karl Franz and bodyguard to his lord. Not only is he a very skillful swordsman, but he is also the envoy of Karl Franz himself, often acting as his emissary towards several other provinces for political reasons, such as an edict the supposed lord has refused to accept or to uphold the Emperor's justice.
- Markus Wulfhart - also known by most as the Huntsmarshal or Captain of Scouts, is the Emperor's most superb Monster Hunter, as well as an exceptional leader and scout. He and his band of Monster Hunters are the greatest in the Old World, hunting down the greatest and most terrible beasts from the dark dense woods of the Empire, not stopping until the day comes that no other beast shall ever be seen once again in the Great Forest.
- Marius Leitdorf- also known as Elector Count Marius Lietdorf of Averland "the Mad", is both a Count of the Empire and also as an exceptional swordsman and leader, but having a known reputation of being mentally-ill, often screaming in rage one moment, then having a period of melancholy and laughter a moment later.
- Volkmar the Grim - is the current Grand Theogonist of the Empire, and the leading spiritual leader of the Church of Sigmar. This man has a great aura of influence wherever he goes: such is his reputation that if he wished, he could call an army of followers and zealots onto his banner, who are ready to die for their great leader and prophet. A pious and foreboding man, this man's entire life was bent on holding back the darkness assailing his homeland, never tiring nor resting in his vigil over his own people.
- Luthor Huss - known by some as the Prophet of Sigmar, is one of the Empire's most devout and zealous Warrior Priests across the land. His desire to smite chaos and all its forms drove this Warrior Priest to scorch the land of Beastmen tribes, Chaos cults, and Imperial corruption wherever he goes. Though his deeds were just, his actions have unveiled the corruption from within the Church of Sigmar itself, and it came to pass that an Arch Lector has asked the Grand Theogonist himself to excommunicate this man. Yet the Theogonist was a just man himself, and knew something about Luthor Huss that no one else knows about, and with a smile upon hearing his deeds, he dismisses the ordeal.[3l]
- Balthasar Gelt - Balthasar Gelt or with his full title, Supreme Patriarch Balthasar Gelt, is one of the Colleges of Magic's most powerful and skillful Wizards of the Gold College and some say, the entire city of Altdorf. Such is his skill in the art of magic that he managed to defeat the former Supreme Patriarch, Thyrus Gormann of the Bright Order, in single combat, replacing the long-standing prominence of Fire with that of Metal.[3m]
- 1: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Sigmar's Heirs (RPG)
- 2: Warhammer Armies: The Empire (8th Edition)
- 3: Warhammer Armies: The Empire (6th Edition)
- 4: Man O' War (6th Edition)
- 4a: pg. 34
- 5: Warhammer Fantasy Rolaplay 2nd Edition: Tome of Salvation (RPG)
- 5a: pg. 28
- 6: Legend of Sigmar: Heldenhammer (Novel) by Graham McNeil
- 7:Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Core Rulebook (RPG)
- 7a: pg. 54
- 8:Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition: Core Rulebook (RPG)
- 8a: pg. 115
- 9:Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition: Enemy in Shadow Companion (RPG)
- 10:Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: Sigmar's Heirs - A Guide to the Empire (RPG)