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"Three things make the Empire great; faith, steel, and gunpowder."

Emperor Magnus the Pious[2w]

The Empire, formally known as the Empire of Man[14a][15][20], and named the "Land of the Hammer and the Wolf" by the Norscans,[17a] is an electoral monarchy composed of semiautonomous feudal states called "Electoral Provinces" or "Grand Provinces." The Empire is the largest, most populous, most powerful and most important of the nations of Men in the Old World.[2d]

The Empire 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 Empire more than 2500 years ago.[2a][2b] Although not as skilled in craftsmanship or engineering 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 the 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 and most powerful realm of the Old World, the Empire is ruled by a monarch with the title of the "Emperor of Man" or simply "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 over twenty-five hundred years ago.[1e][3n]

Sigmar was deified after his death by his people and his promise of eternal aid from the Men of 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 ruled by the Emperor Karl Franz,[1f][3a][3k] who reigns 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.

History

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

Imperial Cross

The Imperial Cross, the most commonly displayed sigil representing the Empire and Imperial authority as a whole.

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 like the Belthani 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, an enterprising Tilean merchant from 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.[24a]

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.[1c]

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.[1c]

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.[1c]

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.[1c]

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. Peace and good weather brought regular harvests and, eventually, a booming population. 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 ties to bind the tribes to each other and inhibit their natural centrifugal tendencies to come apart.[1c]

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.[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."

Fifty years after ascending the throne, Sigmar announced his abdication to the assembled Counts and the high priests of the various cults. 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.[1c]

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.[1c]

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.[1c]

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.[1c]

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.[1c]

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.[1c]

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.[1c]

Drive to the Frontiers (400 to 1000 IC)

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.[1c]

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.Such were his achievements that many within the Empire knew him as "The Conqueror" and he was proclaimed the greatest Emperor since the reign of Sigmar himself. After his death, his son Siegfried the Lawgiver took the throne in 557 IC, and would later become the new Emperor. [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.[1c]

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.[1d]

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]

Formation of the Mootland (1010 to 1035 IC)

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]

Although Human historians are swift to point out that Emperor Ludwig the Fat founding the county was done as a joke at the expense of the then-Elector of Stirland, Halflings are quick to respond that any good joke has meaning and possibly truth behind it. More careful historians have noted that Ludwig had a rather quick-witted Halfling jester. This might have something to do with how the Halflings acquired nearly ten million acres of some of the most fertile farmland in the Empire.T he tension between the Mootland as a place and as a concept that grants political power comes to a head in the fact that the Elector Count of the land must, by Imperial Law, have been born inside the county limits. This law was also enacted by Emperor Ludwig, assuming that the Halflings would be unwilling or unable to present a newborn baby at the next Imperial Election, and thus forfeit their seat. The Halflings called his bluff, and set to the task with great fervency. Just three months later (Halfling gestation being quite short) Pulchritudinous ‘Trudy’ Talltree was presented, the youngest Imperial Elector ever to appear at a council. Naturally she was helped in her decisions by her family, and this tradition has continued. Within a few decades, the counties of Greenleaf were added into the wider territory of the Moot.[30a]

Rise of the Drakwald Emperors

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.[1d]

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."[1d]

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.[1d]

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.[1d]

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. 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. [1d]

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]

Destruction of the Drakwald (1110 IC to 1414 IC)

Around 1110 IC, Drakwald's last ruler, Count Vilner, was slain by a bestigor and his Runefang was sent to Emperor Boris Goldgather, himself a Drakwalder, for safekeeping.For unknown reasons no new Elector Count of Drakwald was ever selected. For the next several centuries, Drakwald was left unsupported by Imperial forces and many of its settlements were destroyed by Beastmen and Goblins. Dozens of settlements were razes by marauding Beastmen and Forest Goblins. By 1414 IC, the territory of Drakwald was divided between Middenland and Nordland, the latter receiving the lion's share of Drakwalder land.[1g]

Great Crusade against Araby (1448 to 1475 IC)

In the year 1430 IC, Sultan Jaffar, a powerful Arabyan sorcerer, forged a coalition among many of the desert tribes of Araby and expanded his power to forge a small empire by capturing Al-Haikk, Copher, Martek, and Lashiek. Legends speak of him invoking Daemons and parleying with spirits and Djinn. The Skaven of Araby secretly allied with Jaffar, spying for him and slaying his enemies in exchange for warpstone.The sultan also made a dark compact with the forces of Chaos called the "Conference of Brass." His armies made landfall on the southern shores of Estalia from the Great Ocean and quickly sacked the powerful port-city of Magritta with a huge army. The Estalians were a hardy and fierce folk, but despite putting up a hardy defence, were soon overrun. Countless numbers of Estalians were enslaved and sent back across the seas to the infamous slave markets of Lashiek into a life of hard toil under the unbearable heat of the Araby sun. At the news of the invasion, panic spread throughout the Old World.[5b]

King Louis the Righteous called forth the first Errantry War upon the Arabyan invaders. Some say this was because the King feared the Arabyans might turn their attention to his own realm once Estalia had been conquered; others suggest it was the outrage felt by the noble ruler at the terrible deeds carried out by Jaffar's soldiers that moved his heart and forced his hand. Whatever the case, the Kingdom of Bretonnia was at war. Looking to gain further military aid for his campaign, King Louis sent word to the Emperor Frederik III. A council was called in Altdorf, and although many of the provinces were embroiled in civil war at the time, hostilities were temporarily halted, and each count offered a small number of their own men to the cause. The Knightly Orders of the Empire also pledged themselves to this noble cause, seeking to prove their valour in wars beyond the civil strife engulfing the Empire.[26a] Grand Theogonist Helmut Karr issued the Edict of Magritta, sending several templar orders to join the secular knights.The combined forces of the northern realms smashed aside the Arabyan armies, annihilating an army sent to attack Tobaro and besieging Magritta. Realizing the inevitability of defeat, the sultan withdrew his forces aside from the trapped soldiers in Magritta. Only a stubborn group under Wazar the Cruel and the Black Schimitar Guard remained.[5b]

Not satisfied with liberating Estalia, the Crusade stalled in the ports of Estalia as great fleets were mustered, ships sailing from all the ports of Estalia and Tilea, and beyond to carry the Crusaders across the Great Ocean to Araby. By the time the fleet eventually set sail, the armies of Jaffar had arrived back in Araby and had begun to make preparations for the oncoming invasion, conscripting slaves and fortifying towns and cities. The first city to taste their vengeance was Copher. It's population was brutally slaughtered, vengeful knights putting the city to the torch.[5b]

In time, the determination of the Crusaders began to take its toll on Jaffar's armies. Sultan Jaffar was a tyrannical despot, almost as hated by his own people as by those of the Old World, and during the crusade against Araby many of his subjects took the opportunity to rise up against the sultan. For the most part, these uprisings had little impact on the crusade, but as the crusaders descended upon the city of El-Haikk, many hundreds of tribesmen conscripted into the Sultan’s army decided to revolt, plunging the city into disarray and throwing Jaffar’s carefully planned defences into chaos.flowering of the arts saw some improvements Several tribes simply deserted and disappeared into the vast desert to await the outcome.[5b]

The sultan was forced to abandon his plans to hold firm against the attacking knights and waiting out their siege, instead marching out to meet them in open battle, confident that the desert sun and the fear he inspired in his men would ensure victory. But the invaders had by that time learned to use magic and common sense alike to ward off the sun, keeping their heavier metal armour cool and shaded until the just before a battle. Though the armies’ numbers were even, the crusaders boasted several thousand knights in plate, astride powerful horses similarly clad; they were as a wave of unstoppable metal, thousands of tons of it crushing the lightly-armoured pikebearers and swordsmen of the sultan. That charge, which has been immortalised in many a legend and ballad, scattered and crushed the sultan’s army utterly, staining the stony ground a blood-red shade that remains to this day.[5b]

The Arabyan sorcerers raised desert elementals to destroy their enemies. During the climatic battle, Jaffar's desert elementals were not enought to turn the tide of the fight and so he made a desperate pact with Kairos Fateweaver, a Greater Daemon of Tzeentch, and unleashed a tumult of terror upon the battlefield. As the host of Knights Errant meets the Sultan's forces, the skies rain blood, living whirlwinds of sand emerge to wreak havoc and vast daemonic pylons thrust out of the writhing dunes. Yet the Sultan's plans gone awry, and was overthrown when his Daemonic legions suddenly withdraw. Jaffar ultimatelly met his death when his back was pierced by a Bretonnian lance as he fled the field. An army, led by the fearsome Mehmed-bey, tried to help Jaffar while the Siege of Al-Haikk lasted, but they were intercepted by the Duke of Aquitaine. He fell on them in a wadi, alerted by bedouin scouts that had turned against the Arabyans tyranny. The Battle of the Black Lizard was tremendously tough. His archers were positioned on top of the wadi, being able to fire on the Arabyan warriors without retaliation, while the knights assaulted them from front and behind, resulting in a total massacre.[5b]

With the sultan dead, the crusade ended. The Bretonnian knights who made up over half of the army declared that their honour had been satisfied, returned to Copher, and sailed for home. They deemed the land too vast and hostile to be properly conquered and disliked the climate. The Imperial knights had a very different view, having included in their vows at Estalia the promise of a more complete victory. At this point the main crusade began to split up into many smaller crusades, as the various contingents of knights began to hunt down the remnants of Jaffar’s army and free every single slave taken in the Old World. Most of the Bretonnian knights withdrew to their homes, but the Imperial orders remained, hunting down many slavers and pushing into Nehekhara itself.[5b]

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.[1d]

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.[1d]

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]

Waaagh! Gorbad (1707 to 1712 IC)

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.[1d]

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.[1d]

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]

Mordheim's Destruction (1999 IC)

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. [1d]

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]

Gorthor's Rampage (1520 IC)

There have been many Beastlords over the centuries that have arisen to power over the Beastmen tribes, uniting warherds from across the forests and launching devastating invasions against the lands of Man. The names of many of these Beastlords live on, recorded in the annals of the Empire's history, lamented in the chronicles and tapestries of Bretonnia, or hewn into the rock of the herdstones of the Beastmen.Yet, there are those Beastlords of such potent savagery that their invasions have threatened to bring even the greatest of nations to their very knees. The names of such individuals are roared by the Beastmen with animalistic power when they gather around their herdstones, striking fear into the hearts of Men. The most well-known of these is Gorthor, whose name in the Dark Tongue means "cruel".[21a]

Gorthor rose to power in the Middle Mountains when the armies of the Human nations of the Old World were engaged in Crusades against the far-off lands of Araby. Gorthor was a nigh unstoppable warrior who bore witness an apocalyptic vision of a world in which the lands of men were trampled under the hooves of the Beastmen, the skies above were turned black with smoke from the burning cities, and the air filled with woeful lamentations.Gorthor not only possessed this vision, but the sheer, animal ferocity to instil it in others of his kind, and so he soon became a great leader amongst the tribes and an unholy Prophet of Chaos. At first, many challenged him, yet the Bray-Shamans say that the tally of those he defeated in the challenge rose so high that they abandoned the count. In time, Gorthor's reputation spread, and no more would come to challenge him and his right to rule.[21a]

Like an unrelenting storm, the Beastman horde broke upon the unsuspecting territories of Ostland and Hochland. This time, Beastmen did not come to plunder or pillage. They came to destroy the northern provinces once and for all. Ostland was the first to suffer the wrath of Gorthor and his horde. Sweeping eastwards down from the Middle Mountains, the horde stretched from one horizon to the other.[21a]

At its head was Gorthor himself, riding upon his chariot, his own warherd similarly mounted. Razorgors the size of mammoths parted the horde before them and made the ground quake with their tread. Amongst the swarming Gors strode massive Minotaurs, the promise of fresh meat sending them into a terrible frenzy. Even larger than the Minotaurs were whole packs of soul-eating Cygors and the berserker giants known as Ghorgons, summoned to join the horde by the magics of Gorthor's Bray-Shamans. These, and other, indefinable gargantuan creatures waded through the horde, towering above it such that a man would see their coming from miles away.[21a]

Gorthor left a trail of destruction in his wake. Such was the terror inspired by Gorthor and his horde that Men claimed he was a Daemon Lord given form. Men, women and children were butchered without mercy. Towns and castles were razed to the ground, and pillars of smoke scored the skies. No army that stood before the horde achieved anything more than providing the Minotaurs with yet more fresh meat to gulp down. Each night, the Beastmen feasted on fat chunks of raw flesh and drank great drafts of Human blood. The unruly chanting of tens of thousands of Gors rolled across the land, striking terror into the hearts of those whose homes lay before the horde. It seemed that Gorthor was determined to finish Mankind once and for all. After each battle the mighty Beastlord always spared a single man, who was fated to carry the news to others and spread panic in the face of the oncoming armies. Leaving Ostland devastated in his wake, the skies behind him wreathed in black smoke and filled with Harpies quarrelling over the last scraps of meat, Gorthor led the ravening herds south, into the province of Hochland.[21a]

After defeating a large horder of Black Orcs, who also sought to destroy mankind, Gorthor turned his attention to Hochland. The Elector Count of Ostland sent what forces he had remaining to join with the defenders of Hochland, in the hope that the combined force would somehow be enough to halt their foe. But the Ostlanders were attacked and defeated by a band of Beastmen who had been ordered by Gorthor to watch the roads from the east, for he was granted a vision that revealed a trap closing around him. Knowing that his flank was now unchallenged, Gorthor took the horde further south, cutting a trail of devastation across Hochland. His destination was soon clear: Gorthor was marching against Hergig, the capital of Hochland itself.[21a]

Meanwhile, the armies of Hochland were marshalled under the Elector Count Mikael Ludendorf. A ruthless man who ruled his province with an iron fist, Ludendorf was feared rather than admired by his men. During those dark days it was perhaps better to have a merciless leader to match the savagery of Gorthor. With so many of Mikael's elite warriors away fighting in the Crusades, the forces of Hochland lacked heavy cavalry and elite infantry. The defenders knew they had no hope of matching Gorthor's horde on the open field of battle. Ludendorf ignored the pleas of his subjects to save the countryside from the ravages of the Beastmen, and instead busied himself with strengthening the defences of the provincial capital.[21a]

Gorthor

Gorthor leading his troops against mankind.

The siege that followed was truly of epic proportions. It took three weeks for the horde to force its way into the city, and then it devolved into a savage melee inside the city.n the end, the Beastmen finally drove most of the defenders out of the city's south gate, and slaughtered those who remained. They were victorious but their casualties were horrendous. At least half of the horde was either dead or seriously wounded. Most of their chariots were crushed by stones thrown from the walls or broken in the savage street battles. With only a handful of troops left, Count Mikael withdrew to his palace. He ordered the archers on the walls to shoot with flaming arrows, and soon every building not already set ablaze by the Beastmen was burning at the hands of the defenders. Hundreds of Beastmen, along with many civilians hiding in the cellars and attics, were roasted alive. The Count appeared not to care — there was no place in his city for those who would not fight.[21a]

Then, as the sun rose, the battle took on a new and dramatic turn. The earth suddenly began to shake under the heavy hooves of warhorses. Knights of the Order of the Blazing Sun galloped through the streets of Hergig. They had returned from Araby and, upon hearing of the Beastman army threatening the hinterland of the Empire, immediately rode to the aid of the defenders of Hochland. The knights rode into the rear of the seething Beastman horde, hundreds upon hundreds of heavily-armoured warriors. These men were veterans of the wars of Araby, and led by Grand Master Heinrich, they crushed warherd after warherd with their long lances and hungry swords. In an attempt to meet the new threat, Gorthor ordered his retinues to turn to face the newcomers. Seizing his chance, Mikael led his own reserves to battle. The Beastmen were caught between the hammer and the anvil and Gorthor knew that his cause was doomed unless he acted swiftly. Standing atop the ruins of a shattered statue of a long-dead Emperor, surrounded by a hundred of his Bestigor, Gorthor raised his arms to the storm-wracked skies. He bellowed to the Chaos Powers to guide him while the battle raged all around, howling incantations in the Dark Tongue of Chaos.[21a]

Knowing then that the gaze of the Dark Gods was upon him, Gorthor ordered his Bestigors to get him as close to Count Mikael as possible. The brutal Beastmen cut a red swathe through the battle until the Beastlord saw the Elector Count resplendent in his ancestral armour. Gorthor stepped forward and challenged Count Mikael to single combat. Dismissing the pleas of his captains, the Count accepted.For almost an hour the two fought on the great palace steps. Both the enemy armies paused, near exhaustion, waiting for the outcome of duel — the Beastmen braying and barking with bloodlust, the Men silent, anxious and desperate. It seemed that the Elector Count would surely fall before the fury of the gigantic Beastlord, yet time and again he somehow parried Gorthor's incessant attacks. Then Gorthor struck such a heavy blow that the Count's shield was splintered and his ancient armour rent in two. Gorthor's spear pierced the Count's body, the Beastlord putting all of his strength into lifting the spear high into the air even as the transfixed Mikael slid down its length. However, the count's Runefang pierced the beast's chest. Both generals died in that moment. The Beastmen, believing their leader invincible routed and fled into the woods. However, there was no glorious pursuit. Many areas around the middle mountains were never reclaimed, still within Beastmen territory.[21a]

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 transformed her into a particularly vicious Vampire, the first of his new von Carstein lineage.[1e]

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.[1e]

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.[1e]

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.[1e]

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. 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.[1e]

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]

Independence of Ostermark (2122 to 2148 IC)

By 2122, Kislev had been growing ever more powerful and began to strongly push back the Empire from its eastern and northern territories. Talabheim was besieged by the Kislevites but they failed to take the city due to Marshall Braxix. He then conquered the Kislevite occupied parts of the Talabecland outside the crater wall and even got back some of the areas lost decades ago, which actually belonged to the Eastern Marches. Outraged at this, several other provinces declared war. This began a 25-year war between Talabecland and the Ostermark, which was supported by Ostland and Stirland. In 2148 IC the Ostermark became finally independent and Braxix was executed for his crimes. Talabecland was severely reduced in size and power compared to the other provinces. [32a]

The Great War against Chaos (2301 to 2304 IC)

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]

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.[1e]

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.[1e]

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. Other Imperial armies had 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.[1e]

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.[1e]

In Talabheim Magnus met with Pieter Lazlo, who was accompanied by three High Elves. The Elves were powerful archmages, namely Teclis and his two comrades, Finreir and Yrtle. 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. The war had reached its crisis point as the Forces of Chaos prepared to cross the border into the Empire. 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.[1e]

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]

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.[1e]

The Chaos Champion, Asvar Kul, divided his forces and sent one to attack the city and one to counter the Imperial army. 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.[1e]

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.[1e]

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. 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."[1e]

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.[1e]

Talabecland was also invaded by a vast Chaos horde, led by the Kurgan known as Thorgar the Blooded One. The survivors of Thorgar's invasion began flocking in their droves to Feuerbach's banner, while he and his ragtag army continued to make for the safety of Talabheim. The forces of Chaos began to close on Feuerbach and his refugees, pillaging, looting and leaving ruin in their wake. The Count, knowing that he could not reach his city in time, prepared to make a final, glorious stand.[1] In the burning square of a ruined Talabec village, Count Feuerbach challenged the Northmen's leader to single combat. Though he fought bravely, wielding one of the legendary Runefangs, the Count ultimately fell before the might of Thorgar the Blooded One, Daemon Prince of Khorne.[33]

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). 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. 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.[1e]

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. 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. A new age of intellectual vigor and inquiry had begun for Humanity.[1e]

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.[1e]

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]

Parravon Wars (2308to 2405 IC)

When the Reikland State Army musters in Ubersreik, the Duke of Parravon claims an ancient treaty is broken and invades Reikland over Grey Lady Pass. In the Third Parravon War, the Bretonnians are swiftly driven back to their own lands. The following year, the Reiklanders invade Parravon, and lay siege to the Castle Parravon. After a long and uneventful siege, the King of Bretonnia treats for peace on behalf of Parravon with Emperor Magnus I. However, following the Empire's victory, a battalion of Nordlanders are mistakenly attacked by a relief army of over-eager Stirlanders who have heard tales of brightly clothed foreigners with funny accents invading their lands.[8b]

The Duchy of Parravon invades Reikland a second time over Grey Lady Pass. Twice the Bretonnians lay siege to Ubersreik, but it does not fall. The Fourth Parravon War is ended when Dieter IV pays a very large sum of money in return for the Bretonnian retreat.[8b]

Sack of Marienburg (2344 IC)

In 2344 IC, the infamous pirate Otto Steinroth lead a large fleet to Ulthuan. There, the pirates raided the coastline and plundered many elven riches. With these deeds did the Red Pirate bring woe upon the city of Marienburg, for he earned the wrath of Sea Lord Aislinn, whose fleet had come to Sardenath's aid too late. Aislinn's ships were swift, and could easily have overtaken the Red Pirate and destroyed him at sea, but the Sea Lord was determined to set an example not soon forgotten by the upstart race of Man. So it was that he shadowed Steinroth's ships across the stormy seas, using every ounce of nautical cunning at his command to remain undetected. Only when the Red Pirate's fleet was berthed once more alongside Marienburg's Guilderveld docks did Aislinn strike.[23a] As the battle began, the gunners in Marienburg's coastal fortresses -- long practiced though they were at repelling raids from Bretonnia and Norsca -- found their aim cheated by an inexplicable mist that swept over the Reiksmouth the instant the first shot was fired. Under cover of the mist, the High Elf fleet took up blockade formation and began bombardment of the port. Aislinn's flagship, the Brinedragon, its gunwales filled to bursting with the finest warriors of Lothern, sailed full into the harbour and disgorged its troops along the dockside. Had the Marienburgers known the reason for Aislinn's attack, they might well have stood aside and allowed his vengeance to proceed unimpeded, the better to end the blockade of their city. As it was, they knew only that their home was afire, and that Elven warriors marched in their streets. Thus, Aislinn's warriors found their path to Steinroth's wolfprows blocked not only by the Red Pirate's rough curs, but some of Nordland's finest troops.[23a] A brutal fight ensued, with the elves slowing pushing the defenders back. Handguns and artillery desperately fired into the mists, attempting to hit anything. As the Lothern Sea Guard formed spear-walls to secure the quayside, other Elves boarded the wolfprows and retrieved all that was truly valuable: books of ancient lore, sceptres and circlets of rule and the weapons of Sardenath's princes. Retreating back onto their ship, now with many elven merchants who would be certainly persecuted that day, the High Elves called down magic firestorms that engulfed the city. Soon, the entire merchant fleet and most of the city was in flames. [23a] Aislinn retreated back to Ulthuan. Those who had suffered at the hands of the humans were delighted to hear of his vengeance. However, many at the court saw these actions as too hostile for a nation that was relatively friendly to Ulthuan. The resulting politics saw the Sea Lord's influence fall to almost nothing in the court.[23a]

Pirate Wars (2458 to 2578 IC)

Beginning in 2458 IC, the Cult of Manann declared a crusade against the many pirates that infested the Old World and the followers of Stromfels. Most of the nations in the Old World united to exterminate piracy on the oceans. Estalia's navy took offensives towards the pirates in their lands, driving them north into Bretonnia's waters. Here, the pirates were annihilated to a ship in the Battle of the Tides.[22a]

Sartosa's castle

A naval battle of the Pirate Wars

The Empire's navy saw action in the Battle of the Torpid sea, where it allied with the Marienburg navy to destroy the pirate fleet in 2478 IC. Also in this year, the last of the purges of the coastal pirate settlements in The Wasteland and in Nordland were complete. The Order of the Blazing Sun torched many villages and hunted down many criminals. However, there was no long term reduction in piracy, as new pirates emerged to replace the old.[22a]

Waaagh! Grom (2420 to 2424 IC)

The gobling Grom the Paunch had been amassing a gigantic horde of greenskins in the Badlands. After Ravagin the dwarf holds of the Black Mountains. Unfortunately for the Dwarfs (and the Empire) the reigning Emperor was Dieter IV, the Elector Count of Stirland and perhaps the most feckless and callow individual to ever sit upon the Imperial throne. When the Dwarf King's messenger reached Dieter's Golden Palace in the then-capital of Nuln, the Emperor reacted immediately, not by sending help, but by removing his entire court further westwards to Altdorf in order to be as far as possible from the threat. Disgusted, the Dwarf messenger returned to Karaz-a-Karak where the King received the news of the Emperor's decision with stoicism and a fresh entry into the Book of Grudges.Through Peak Pass came long lines of mobile shanty towns — the caravans of the swindle-happy trader tribes. Many of the lean Wolf Rider tribes came too. Hardened by their life in the Wolf Lands, they sought to put their banners beneath that of the larger-than-life and now-legendary Grom. As befitted both his massive status as well as his ponderous frame, Grom began to travel everywhere aboard an especially sturdy chariot. From that point in history, Grom had essentially formed the largest and most powerful Goblin Horde to have ever terrorised the lands of Men since the time of Sigmar Heldenhammer, a horde whose numbers can literally flood the Old World in a rushing green tide of violence and anarchy.[26a]

Leading his host westwards, Grom devastated the Empire provinces of Stirland and Talabecland, and penetrated as far as Hochland, in the shadow of the Middle Mountains. Empire armies were met and defeated and soon the humans retreated to walled towns and cities. The countryside was abandoned. The Great Forest became, for a time, a Goblin realm. Grom chose to bypass heavily fortified areas. Instead the Waaagh! lived off the land, leaving behind only burnt and well-picked over ruins. There was one notable exception. Since Imperial hero Magnus the Pious had become Emperor years before, the capital city of the Empire had been Nuln. Recently, however, the city defences had been badly neglected in favour of Dieter's preference for marbled magnificence. Such a rich target could not be ignored and Dieter's marvellous Palace of Gold and his great buildings and fountains were destroyed in the ensuing attack. For weeks the cobblestone streets of Nuln rang to the sound of reckless chariot racing. To the frustration of the battle-minded Black Orc mobs that had joined the throng, Grom was content to rest upon his spoil-heaps. While popular with most troops, this lack of direction ensured that the ragtag army was widely dispersed, looting across wide tracts of the Empire.[26a]

Warhammer Waaagh! Grom 3

Imperial troops desperately fight untold hordes of goblins while horrifically outnumbered.

The mightiest of human nations was now little more than a collection of isolated communities huddling behind heavily defended walls, while Grom's hordes roamed and plundered at will. Forest Goblins emerged to join the rampage, and spiders of vast proportions crept over palisades and soon even walled towns were being plundered. The end of the Empire seemed inevitable, for during such times no land was tilled nor crops sown. The Emperor was too paralysed with fear to raise an army and spent his days secure in Altdorf, dreaming of lissom maids sprawling amid heaped piles of gold coins. Only the desperate valour of Prince Wilhelm, cousin to Dieter, raised any hopes. While his army of hastily raised militia could not hope to stand before Grom's assembled minions, the greenskins were so divided across many provinces that it was possible to confront and beat many of these smaller elements. Thus, Wilhelm preserved the fertile fields of Reikland, a breadbasket that would scour the starving nation, if only the greenskins could be driven off. Despite the urgings of his Black Orc Warbosses, Grom remained content to loll about atop mounds of looted goods. It was a trance-prophecy from his Shaman, ol' Blacktoof, that rekindled Grom's fighting spirit. "Take to da sea", Blacktoof had said, "Gork and Mork want new lands to crush". In that hour Grom turned from lethargic despot to his old frenetic self. Without waiting to regroup his scattered legions, Grom ordered all troops within bellowing distance to head westwards.[26a]

Even with only a portion of his dispersed force, it was child's play for Grom to defeat an army of Middenland that marched out to meet him. As his chariot was destroyed by a cannonball in the battle with the blue-clad humans, Grom made a brief stop at the city of Middenheim. His new chariot was magnificent, made from the roof timbers of the Temple of the White Wolf in Middenheim. Grom, to the surprise of no one, named his chariot the same as the last one — the Chariot of Grom. Such was Grom's haste to reach the coast that the city of Middenheim was left intact, save for the roofless temple, a ruined gate and a lingering smell. After devastating large tracts of Nordland, Grom reached the coast and immediately ordered the tribes gathering in his wake to build a fleet. Acres of timber were cut down while other tribes were sent to scavenge for supplies. The fleet was unlike anything seen before, enormous hulks of crudely fashioned wood, propelled by treadwheels or patchwork sails. In typical greenskin fashion, whatever materials were available were used, resulting in entire Imperial watchtowers dismantled and rebuilt (in a rather more slipshod style) upon the decks of larger ships. Many Warbosses, particularly the Orc and Black Orc ones, protested that the Boyz should be deployed in battle, not sweating it out shipbuilding. Grom slew enough protesters to quell the rest.Within several months Grom set sail and made his way down the coast. Brave ships from the Imperial Navy shadowed the greenskin fleet. Admiral von Kronitze did not want to risk engaging the greenskin armada, reckoning that time, tide and naval ineptitude would do much of his work for him. As Grom's fleet sailed for the delta of the mighty Reik, heading into Marienburg, Kronitze realised he had no choice but to attack. It was a massive and bloody sea battle that sunk half the Imperial fleet before the rest were driven off into the rising winds. Marienburg lay open to invasion but, as fortune would have it, the weather took a turn for the worse. Strong gales whipped up a rough sea and at last the poor seamanship of the Orcs and Goblins caught up with them. Unable to reach safety, many vessels, each crammed with greenskins, sank unceremoniously, killing hundreds with each vessel sunk. The rest of the fleet was blown out to sea and over the horizon.[26a]

The Reikland Bloodline of Emperors (2429 to 2519 IC)

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.[1e]

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.[1e]

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.[1e]

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]

Halfling Rebellion (2502 IC)

In early 2502 IC, the Electors of Stirland and Averland pledged their armies to a campaign against the Goblin Warlord Nhobgarg whose army was gathering in the Worlds Edge Mountains. The only snag was how to join the provinces' two State Armies together, a problem that Marius Leitdorf, the Elector Count of Averland, solved by seeking permission from the Moot's Halfling Elders to build roads through their territory.[28a] After a colossal bribe of gold and roastable animals, an accord was reached and Leitdorf sent engineers into the Moot to construct roads and, crucially, build a modern stone bridge over the River Stir. Other than the rampant larceny that any visitor to the Moot must endure, the engineers made good progress. It was not until the first pilings for the new bridge were sunk that the troubles began. Each morning, stones that had been set in place the day before had mysteriously vanished. Setting guards didn't seem to work -- they had a tendency to vanish too, only to turn up several days later, bound and gagged in a ditch.[28a] The engineer in charge of the construction petitioned the Elders of the Moot, suspecting that the Tomfiddle family, a sprawling Halfling clan who operated the local ferry, were behind the delays. After much shaking of heads the Elders rebuffed him, explaining that the permission granted was to strengthen and construct new roads, not bridges, and sadly they were powerless to assist in the manner.

Shortly thereafter, Leitdorf flew into one of his splendid rages and assembled the army of Averland to, in his words, "slaughter every one of the malodorous runts." Leitdorf led his army across the southern border of the Moot. Fearful for their lives, the Elders of the Moot sent a huge force of Halflings to stop them. The Battle of Nearstream has since passed into history as the army of Averland's most successful, though not its noblest, engagement. Once the Averlanders came into sight, the Halflings arrayed before them began to panic, and were mercilessly cut down as they scrambled for safety. Predictably, the Averlanders suffered little if any casualties.[28a]

Lumpin Croop's Fighting Cocks

Halfling mercenaries

With their main force defeated, the Elders of the Moot went into hiding, desperately penning letters calling for aid from any who would listen. By this point, nearly three-quarters of Leitdorf's army had abandoned him, utterly dismayed at his sheer barbarity against such helpless foes. The Elector Count had lost what little wits he had remaining, and could be seen stalking the mist-shrouded fields of the Moot in the small hours, screaming challenges at trees and shrubs. Unaware that another Imperial army was even then marching from Altdorf to curb his excesses, he directed his engineers to finish the bridge that had started the war. The fighting concluded then an Imperial army forced a peace.[28a]

Tamurkhan's Invasion (2511 IC)

In 2509 IC, Tamurkhan, one of Nurgle's greatest champions saw an apocalyptic vision of the Empire in flames and the great city of Nuln destroyed. Only a few centuries had passed since Magnus the Pious had emerged from the city of Nuln to utterly destroy the forces of Chaos at the Battle of the Gates of Kislev. The urge for revenge ran deep in the Northmen's hearts. Tamurkhan assembled a truly enormous horde of warrios and swept across the Dark Lands. Fighting Greenskins, Cathayans, and ogres, he finally formed an alliance with the Chaos Dwarfs. As a prelude to his invasion of the Empire, the Nurglite general utterly annihilated the eastern Border Princes, slaughtering every living thing in that region. Unable to pass through Black Fire Pass, due to rampant flooding, Tamurkhan moved through the mountain passes, running into a large Night Goblin army. At the head of the fighting, Tamurkhan's axe rose and fell, carving a bloody arc through all before him as the Greenskins scattered like mice before the harvest sickle. Bubebolos roared with all his might, and his rancid breath was a poisoned wind that choked the life out of the panicked Night Goblins. All was mayhem and confusion. In their eagerness none held back, but gave full vent to their fury, so that the Greenskins were pressed together into the valley's narrow exits where their bodies were soon piled ten deep and their fellows clambered over them to be free from the wrath of Chaos unleashed.[25a]

After opening the way into the Empire after all these months of violence, Tamurkhan's horde spilled into Wissenland's territory. The town of Hornfen was the first to feel the wrath of Chaos. The town, well-used to raids being situated in the barrens of the former realm of Solland, was protected by a wide moat before its banked walls and the town's bridge had been destroyed by its inhabitants, but the terrified townsfolk could do little but look on in horror as the Dolgan war mammoths simply waded through the water under their guns and sundered the gates; not one of the men and women of Hornfen lived to see the dawn after the ritual orgy of violence to honour the Dark Gods that was to follow. The same story was repeated time and again as the horde's three-pronged assault ate up the ground and fell upon any unfortunate or foolhardy enough to be caught in their path. Rookberg was taken in the night; emptied of civilians who had fled upriver in boats, its garrison of state troops and peasant militia stood little chance against the screaming horsemen and the devilish Chaos Sorcerers ranged against them. Castle Greymane, whose infamous claw-shaped keep had been in legend the birthplace of Arch-Lector and damned necromancer alike over its long history, was laid waste, the power of the Chaos Dwarfs' Daemon-forged artillery smashing it apart with sustained bombardment; the lords of the Black Fortress eager to test their firepower against a worthy target. Finally, the supposed city of Nuln, actually Pfeildorf, was open. The Imperial Army arranged outside the city walls did not expect the enemy to have great artillery trains and was quickly overrun. The cavalry battle proved brutal and short, with the Imperial forces, wildly outnumbered, soon overwhelmed and scattered, and with a mighty roar the whole Chaos horde surged forward and crashed like a tidal wave into the outer palisade as the Imperial forces tried to sound a general retreat behind the walls. Shells and fireballs fell before the gate, forcing those who would flee to run a gauntlet of death, while those who survived on the battlements above rained down handgun shot and crossbow bolts with frantic desperation in the hope of slowing the unstoppable tide. The city was sacked, and it's inhabitants slaughtered. Eventually, the barbarians realized that this was not the main city they had been looking for, but simply a minor town in its shadow.[25a]

Meanwhile, Wissenland's forces under Emmanuelle von Liebwitz were in a panic, rallying any available forces to defeat the unexpected Nurgle horde. Times of peace are rare in the Empire and the hour of Tamurkhan's coming was not one of them, with the brushfire wars taking place in the north, heavy Orc raids in the west and the blighted lands of horror-haunted Sylvania stirring into unhallowed life. These conflicts as well as bloody dynastic squabbles in the province of Talabecland had already seen legions of Imperial State Troops dispatched from both Nuln and Wissenland to aid the Empire's defence, thinning the forces that would be available to meet this unforeseen threat. Indeed, the armies of the Empire had seen several hard seasons of campaigning over the past few years and were stretched thin in many places. Aid for Wissenland from the Empire's other provinces would likely be slow in coming. The Empire slowly but surely grew its force, while the Chaos army began to disintegrate and break off.[25a]

The Imperial defenders of Nuln had deployed to prepare positions to defend their city in the chill hours of dawn, the fate that had fallen Pfeildorf foremost in their minds. The |Countess Emmanuelle's generals and knights-masters had determined to operate a defence in depth, the majority of their forces meeting the Chaos horde in the open field where they would be able to manoeuvre and if need be fall back through a series of defensive lines, finally ending in the city's fortification. In this, they hoped to prevent the horde massing in strength either in numbers, monstrous beasts or magic against a single point on the city walls and shattering through a breach as they had done in Pfeildorf.[1k] Nor would the Imperials allow the strange and devastating war machines that had crushed Pfeildorf to advance within range of the city -- the plan called for their destruction at any cost. To this end, nearly a full thousand knights, mounted pistoliers and free riders had drawn up on the rolling downs to the west of the city, while serried ranks of State Troops: spearmen, halberdiers, handgunners and cannon batteries awaited the horde upon the raised banks of the flood levies that dominated the peninsula where the mighty rivers of the River Aver and the Upper Reik met. It was this boggy expanse that was the Empire's chosen killing ground, and the bulwark on which they hoped to shatter the horde, in sight of the great city but no closer. [25a]

While the Amethyst Wizard Elspeth von Draken watched from the back of her Carmine Dragon as it clutched to a high cathedral spire like a terrifying, living gargoyle, she could feel the almost heartbeat-like pulse of the talisman she had gifted to Theodore Bruckner -- the countess's champion -- to protect him from the foul magics of the Arch-enemy. Bruckner's role in the battle plan was a simple if almost impossible one; he was to seek out Tamurkhan, the master of the horde, and slay him, an act that alone might make the difference this day between victory and defeat.[25a]

Her occult senses, attuned to the ebb and flow of life and death as only an initiate of the Amethyst Order could be, picked out a score of bright burning souls below her who might find glory beyond lesser men, and saw their spirit-candles brutally snuffed out as merciless chance determined, not least of all that of Leitpold the Black, given command of the free riders, whose lust for vengeance was so great she could almost taste it like bitter blood and copper on her tongue. The day of destruction was born slowly, pale mists clinging to the damp earth, and a thousand, breathless prayers were offered up to the gods of Mankind and screamed in exhalation to the Ruinous Powers. The sun rose up like a bloody beacon to light the way, and battle was joined.[25a]

The Chaos Horde soon began taking massive casualties from the endless barrage of mankind's most powerful industrial city. Cannon after cannon smashed into the screaming ranks of berserkers. Chaos Dwarf artillery attempted to counter fire, but was quickly targeted and silenced.A hundred paces distance became fifty, and fifty became ten when unexpectedly the front ranks of the enemy peeled away in desperate flight, revealing a trio of Imperial Helblaster Volley Cannons chased in gleaming bronze. It would have been too late to abort their charge even if they had wished, and in the bleak joy of their tainted existence the Rot Knights cared not for the danger. As the Helblaster Volley Cannons erupted in sheets of flame from their spinning muzzles, each barrel discharged its load of a dozen or more small cannonballs. They cut a swath through the armoured knights and opened great gaps in the Chaos ranks.[25a] Those who survived the cannon fire plunged straight into the Imperial infantry. In places the valiant footmen held their ground, but in others they were scattered or cut down. Those Rot Knights mounted upon their monstrous-steeds had little difficulty overcoming the fence of gleaming halberd blades raised before them. Chaos-bred mounts crashed down upon the poor Imperial infantrymen, crushing the leading ranks and slashing those behind with steel-sharp hooves, as the riders impaled men bodily one to another with their lances in screaming slaughter and lay about themselves with festering, skull-headed flails which charriped and bit with venom-dripping teeth. But even where the Imperial regiments broke and fled, others quickly took their place as the second line advanced. Among them were regiments bedecked in the crimson and sable livery of the countess's personal men-at-arms, steel-plated Empire Greatswords of the Exchequer Guard with gold chased, double-handed blades as tall as they, and grim, grey-cloaked sell-swords with the coin of a dozen realms nailed to their bucklers. Behind them came the great, gleaming war altar of the Arch-Lector of Nuln, pulled by scores of bare-backed and bloody flagellants, while barely armed and crazed zealots screamed and scourged themselves in a great throng of unwashed bodies pressed around it, shouting out their eagerness for martyrdom in Sigmar's name.[25a] At the height of the fighting, Sayl the Faithless was himself struck down, a burning bullet of mercurial shot smashing into his helm and toppling him from his throne. Soon the last of the mighty war mammoths still fighting fell crashing to the ground, its hide riddled with hundreds of bullet wounds; a titan laid low by bee stings. Leaderless and beset, the Kurgans' assault began to waver when a deafening howl from the heavens drowned out all else in the tumult as a dark shape crashed to earth from the skies above. After hours of brutal fighting, the deciding factor came when Land Ships from the city of Marienburg smashed into the Chaos Artillery ranks, silencing them forever. Dozens of Knightly charges combined with the Empire Battle Wizards of Nuln soon overwhelmed the Chaos forces, and the tide began to turn. Theodore Bruckner himself struck down Tamurkhan, finally ending his terror of the Known World and saving the city of Nuln.[25a]

Turmoil of 2512 IC

Beginning in 2512, the Emperor made a series of decisions that made some people question his sanity. Through the Reikland Diet, an emergency decree was passed which annexed Ubersreik. Its ruler, Sigismund von Jungfreud, was stripped of his title and forced to flee into his ancestral lands at the Duchy of Black Rock. Ostensibly, Karl-Franz responded to recent tensions between the duchies of Wallenstein and Ubersreik. Indeed, the bill placed before the Reikland Diet in the small hours of the morning cited Graf Sigismund’s belligerent and aggressive military build-up that challenged the limitations of his ducal rights as a primary reason for his removal.The Emperor acted on intelligence provided by his uncle, Immanuel-Ferrand, who had been fed false information by the Black Chamber, which had been secretly infiltrated by Chaos cultists of the Purple Hand.[28a]

Hostilities began in the spring of 2512 IC, when border skirmishes occurred between Ostland and Talabecland. Prince Hergard von Tasseninck, son of the then Elector Count of Ostland was lost during an expedition in the Grey Mountains, and unfortunately declared slain. Conspiratorial rumours that he was killed on the orders of the Elector of Talabecland, Grand Duke Krieglitz, became common wisdom. Skirmishes broke out between the Ostland marchers and their counterparts on the Talabecland border. Diplomats were sent to help reconcile the nobles, but by the time they reached Wolfenburg the two provinces were already at war. At the same time, several other disputes took a violent turn. In Middenland, Middenheim, Talabheim and Talabecland, the Ulricans' hardline attitude, which had been in check for centuries, experienced a renaissance. It became fashionable for Ulricans in these places to despise their Sigmarite neighbours and declare their god and the emperor who ruled in his name illegitimate. The abdication of Ar-Ulric Jarrick Valgeir in favour of his brother Emil, the fire-breathing preacher who disrespected the Sigmarites, only made matters worse. [28a] The noble lords of Hochland, Nordland and Ostermark were increasingly at odds. These areas had either been independent in the past, or were culturally distinct from the states that ruled them, or both. In Nordland, an aggressive noble ruler, Theoderic Gausser, organised (or at least inspired) a rebellion against the rule of Middenheim. Less aggressive, but still strong, arguments were put forward by Aldebrand Ludenhof of Hochland and the Eastern Confederation who took Wolfram Hertwig of Ostermark as their spokesman. Normally, Karl Franz would have easily been able to smooth over any hostilities, but he was much too sick at this point. A marriage was proposed between the nobles of Reikland and Middenheim to calm down religious relations, but this ended in disaster as a Nordland assassin attacked.[28a]

After a demonic attack by the Purple Hand, Karl Franz recovered, and, now with the newly rediscovered Ghal Maraz, organized a vast reoganizaiton of the Empire. Emperor Karl Franz called a large Electoral Conference, the largest since Magnus the Pious reunited the Empire two centuries before. Hochland, Nordland and Ostermark, which had previously lost their Electoral Count status and been attached to Talabheim and Middenheim, were reinstated as full Electoral Provinces, with Theoderic Gausser, Aldebrand Ludenhof and Wolfram Hertwig being confirmed in their respective territories as Elector Counts.Sudenland was dissolved and reunited with Wissenland under Emmanuelle von Liebwitz. Talabecland and Talabheim were unified when Count Helmut Feuerbach married Elise Krieglitz-Untern, while the von Bildhofens of Middenland were left as dukes of Carroburg, but Middenland itself was again unified with Middenheim. Karl Franz officially married his mistress Maria-Luise von Walfen and named their daughter Alia his heir as the Elector Countess of Reikland, while his son Luitpold remained the heir to the crown as the prince of Altdorf.[28a]

Waaagh!!! Azhag (2512-2515 IC)

While in the far north of Troll Country, Azhag the Slaughterer was a simple greenskin among many in that region. However, one day after battles with Chaos Warriors, Azhag slew a chaos troll and discovred the Crown of Sorcery in its lair. Azhag was not entirely Azhag anymore. However, though the Orc psyche is a simple one, Azhag's mind had its own singularly determined strength. Despite the crown's exertions, it could not fully possess Azhag.[26a]

Through cunning, force or foul magic, Azhag outmanoeuvred all rivals. The northern Orc tribes were united as never before. Word of Azhag's great victories spread far and his forces were swollen by hordes of Night Goblins from Red Eye Mountain. They brought, as favour to their chosen leader, an enormous and exceptionally fierce Wyvern. Without being hand-reared from an egg, few Wyverns can be broken to serve as a steed. Yet such was his force of will that Azhag subdued the beast with but a single glance. "Skullmuncha," as the Wyvern was named, was vicious and temperamental, yet acted almost docile with its new master. Ruling over rabble could never sate the Crown of Sorcery, for it wished to return far southwards, to reunite with its rightful master. Compelled by a will not his own, Azhag led his Waaagh! into Kislev and stormed into the northern provinces of the Empire. With brain and brawn so closely aligned, nothing could stop the Greenskins.[26a]

Azhag the Slaughterer - 8th Ed Art

At Butcher's Hill, Azhag earned his infamous moniker "the Slaughterer." After ingeniously using hordes of Goblins and Snotlings to trap his Human enemies in a pincer movement, Azhag utterly destroyed the remaining defenders, bodily and mentally, with a barrage of fell spells. The massacre earned Azhag a place amongst the most hated of Mankind's foes. Azhag's final defeat would come at the Battle of Osterwald in 2515 IC. In a mental battle between his mind and the crown, Azhag was distracted enough that the grandmaster of the Knights Panther, Werner von Kriegstadt. The rest of his army soon routed after their warlord's death. After the victory, the Crown of Sorcery was personally taken by the Grand Theogonist and placed within the Imperial Vaults in Altdorf to be secured away.[26a]

Slaughter at Volganhof (2515 IC)

After an increased series of Norscan raids, Ostland and Nordland were put on high alert. Elector Count Valmir von Raukov even lead counter raids, razing many coastal villages in Norsca. In 2515 IC, the attacks on the Northern Empire were unlike anything ever seen in memory. Sigvald the Magnificent marched with his host and ravaged much of Kislev and the northern Empire, but this was only a precursor to the real threat. Karl Franz had summoned the count to the Bretonnian border, as tensions were high in the Grey Mountains.[31a]

Not long after Valmir von Raukov rode southwards, even before the snows of winter had begun to melt, there were grim tales along the border of Ostland. Ferocious creatures and many warbands were wandering the plains of Kislev. The Beastmen that dwelt in the Forest of Shadows were becoming bolder and many dark things stirred in the night.Even as word from the north drifted in, Oleg von Raukov wasted no time in counsel. He deployed many of the newly mustered state troops into the Ostforts along the northernmost border and then led a sizeable force into Kislev, joining with Pitr Sergeyev, a great Kovnik (Captain) of Erengrad. There, with his fast-moving cavalry allies, Oleg hoped to confront and destroy any invaders on the plains before they could reach Ostland.[31a]

The first major battle was fought on the banks of the River Lynsk and resulted in total defeat for the combined Imperial and Kislevite army. The majority of the army was cut down by Lord Mortkin's Fell Legion, and most of the fleeing troops were hunted down. The few survivors fled back to the Ostforts, but all of these were burning by the end of the night.[31a]

Mortkin's invasion

The Invasion path of the Invasion.

Everywhere the invaders sought word of any of the von Raukov family. After crossing the Lynsk, Lord Mortkin ordered his army to spread out to search and destroy. The Daemons of Kargharak slew all they found in the town of Zundap. Bohsenfels was hard-pressed by the slime-encrusted warriors of Lord Hackbile's Plague Army and only the timely arrival of Baron Beckburg's army out of Ferlangen prevented another massacre. Ostland was burning. However, No aid would be in time to save Castle Raukov. The Fell Legion advanced to that ancestral stronghold in hopes of catching some of the royal family. Indeed, Vassily von Raukov had hoped to avoid the invasion, cowering behind the walls of his forefathers. It was not to be. Steam-driven metal siege towers rolled forward, shrugging off innumerable cannonballs. Such infernal devices had never before been seen in the Empire - they bore the sterling craftsmanship of the Dwarfs, yet were cruelly devised and covered in leering faces and foul runes. Even as they reduced the walls to rubble, Vassily and his bodyguard fled via secret tunnels, making their way towards the city of Volganof. All others, including Ivana von Raukov, were never heard from again.[31a]

The main host now marched on Volganof, the most defended city in Ostland. The battle began when the chaos sorcerers smote seven massive holes in the walls t Mortkin's signal the Chaos invaders surged forwards. Leading the charge were dozens of tribes of Norsemen, all eager to win glory. They hoped to attract, through deed of battle, the eyes of their Dark GodsAlong the city walls the defenders were not waiting idle. Handgunners discharged their weapons, handed their gun to a loader, accepted a new firearm and, almost without needing to aim, fired again into the oncoming mass. Crews struggled to fire and reload war machines; others manhandled artillery pieces into the gaps in the wall, ready to repel the attackers with multiple volleys or blasts of grapeshot. But it was at the south walls, where Oleg von Raukov led his counter-attack out of the gates, that Lord Mortkin put forth his real strength. It was there that he released the howling fury of Kargharak and his Daemonhost. They drove deep into the enemy and there was much slaughter. As of yet, Mortkin held in check the matchless warriors of his own Fell Legion. [31a]

There, the Bechafen Halberdiers hacked down the greater demon Kargharak and repelled the demonic charges. Seeing his demonic allies repulsed, Lord Mortkin ordered his elite chaos warriors into the fray. Under such pressure and sheer ferocity from the northmen cavalry, Oleg could not hold the troops from fleeing back to the walls. After barely back holding two cavalry charged, Mortkin himself strode through his retreating forces and dueled Oleg. Despite landing three major hits, Oleg was smote in a single strike and crushed beneath his boot. [31a]

It was at this moment of despair that the chaos lord removed his helmet and proclaimed that the debt had been paid with Oleg's death. The insane energy that proteced him dissipated as the Chaos Gods removed their favor, and the Imperial soldiers quickly cut him to pieces. This was the moment of a massive charge of Reiksguard sounded through the forest. Half of the beastmen horde was supposed to ambush any reinforcements at Mortkin's symbol, but no symbol came. Frustrated at having to take orders, the beastlord ordered all of his forces to the city. The shock of their lord's death stunned the Northmen, and half of them fled or began to cut each other down for old fights. Even with half of the chaos horde gone, the reinforced mobs of Beastmen had pushed the tide too far. The city was soon overrun and began to burn. The Reiksguard smashed through the Juggernauts outside the walls with the leadership of Kurt Helborg and the returned Elector count.[31a]

The few escaping Chaos troops fled back into Kislev's lands, only to be mercilessly picked off by the horse tribes of that country. Despite the victory, there was no joy for Ostland. The forces of the province had been reduced to a shadow of their former self, and its forts had been ruined. Valmir wept openly at the loss of wife and ancestral home. But many said it was the loss of his favoured son that hit the Elector Count the hardest. In mourning, Valmir remains inconsolable. Vassily, found unconscious in the ruins, has recovered his health, but has not yet found the forgiveness of his father.[31a]

Third Battle of the Black Fire Pass (2520 IC)

It was in 2520 IC that Marius Leitdorf warned the Emperor when a new Greenskin Waaagh! poured out of Black Fire Pass and threatened to overrun the province of Averland. He responded personally to this call and went to face the horde before it was too late, culminating in what would become the Third Battle of Black Fire Pass. The Imperial army arrived just in time to block the entrance of Black Fire Pass from the onrushing hordes of Greenskin warriors.[27a]

With a battle-line of Imperial soldiers holding the enemy at bay, a barrage of Imperial artillery rained down cannonballs and grapeshots upon the tightly packed enemy horde. The first few waves consisted mostly of Goblins and a handful of Orcs, but the appearance of a berserking Giant would soon threaten the Imperial Line. Karl Franz, upon his Griffon, personally fought the massive behemoth, but in the process, Deathclaw was injured and was forced to retreat back to the command post. After a devastating rear attack from boar rider cavalry, the Empire lines were in tatters, with only the right flank conserving some sense of its former order. Upon the centre of the battlefield, a small knot of determined Greatswords stood alone in a sea of Greenskins as they fought side-by-side with Marius Leitdorf. Warlord Vorbad drove his gigantic mount through the Greatswords company, tossing them aside like dolls, and made his way towards the Count himself. Marius came forward to meet the monster, dodging the charging beast as he swung his Runefang in a deadly arc. The massive boar was disembowelled by the magic sword and its rider fell to the ground. When the Warlord rose to his feet, he smashed the Elector Count into submission within mere seconds. The Warlord grabbed the Count by the throat in a powerful grip, and after a few seconds of struggle, the Count's strangled snarl was cut short by the chilling noise of bones snapping. In that instant, Marius Leitdorf was dead..[27a]

Third Battle of Black Fire Pass

The Empire lines holding back the Greenskins in the Third Battle of Blackfire Pass.

The Warlord then started a titantic duel with the Emperor. Even though Karl was one of mankind's greatest warriors, he was not strong enough to hold back the massive opponent. After several injuries, he was forced to one knee. In this moment, he ushered he prayer to Sigmar, for the strength to overcome his foe just like his predecessor had all those millennia ago. A blinding aura shimmered around him, and the Emperor was transformed into a massive barbarian. The instincts of the Warlord were overcome by memories inscribed in the soul of his race; memories of mighty barbarians defeating the Orcs in a war for the dominion of the rich plains, and driving them to the desolation beyond the mountains. For the first time in his life, the orc fealt true terror, and momentarily hesitated. This was all the Emperor needed as he swung the hammer down and cracked the orc's skull. The Greenskin horde panicked and fled. Imperial troops, rallied around their Emperor, pursued them ruthlessly, hacking down thousands of orcs and goblins. From that day onwards, the name of Karl Franz was pronounced with even greater respect.[27a]

War of the Drakwald (2518 IC to Present)

Snagla Grobspit's Deff Creepers

Snagla Grobspit's Deff Creepers

Starting in 2518 IC, Men from the Empire first cut their frontiers deeper in to the surrounding forests, they unwittingly began the bitter War of the Drakwald that continues to this day. The fractious Forest Goblin tribes who dwelt in the hinter regions of that sprawling woodland ceased their internal strife to unite against the enemy. Unbeknownst to the men of the Empire, their deepest forays had encroached dangerously close to the most holy of sites to the Forest Goblin tribes, the sacred lands known as the Black Pit, or the Valley of Many Eyes. To stray near that dark and web-strewn place is certain death, for the Forest Goblins will stop at nothing to destroy any interlopers who dare approach it.[24b]

At first, forest patrols and huntsmen disappeared at an alarming rate. The deep woods were always treacherous, but the men of the Empire were savvy enough about life beneath the boughs to understand that something terrible was brewing. They didn't have to wait long, for soon the Forest Goblin raiding parties mobbed together to form armies. Emboldened by their numbers, the Forest Goblins left the confines of the woods to mount fierce attacks on the nearest human settlements. In turn, fresh troops marched out from the Empire's cities, eager to push the boundaries of civilisation further. Many ambushes and large battles followed, most fought entirely beneath the gloomy canopy.[24b]

Of Snagla's tribe, the Redvenom Forest Goblins, little is known. They were destroyed early on in the battles in the Drakwald, for they dwelt on the edge of the Gnarlwood – the lands that were first cleared by the Empire soldiery. If there were any survivors they never returned from out of the woods. When Snagla returned to find his camp in ruins, it is rumoured that the Spider-god spoke to him. All that is known for sure is that Snagla took the fangs from his tribe's cannonball-blasted Arachnarok Spider. With these he fashioned a throwing spear and a great spiked club. When the Forest Goblins first began to gather, seeking to push the invading humans farther away from the sacred Black Pit, Snagla and his Deff Creepers mob turned up, eager to join the fight. They alone still wear the distinctive striped feathers and facepaint associated with the Redvenom tribe. Snagla and his mob have a penchant for the feathers worn by many Empire troops. After battle, the Deff Creepers soak these feathers in the blood of their former owners and wear them as grim trophies upon their weapons and shields. With their status still growing, Snagla and his mob travel throughout the vast forest, ever eager to join an battle they can.[24b]

Imperial Goverment

"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]
Imperial Goverment

The Imperial Court of Emperor Karl Franz

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]

Imperial Law

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]

The Council of State

Due to its size, the Imperial Government is considered far too 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
  • Amadeus Mencken - Chamberlain of the Seal.
  • 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]

Prime Estates

The Prime Estates is an Imperial advisory body composed of representatives chosen by the Electors that was created to help aid the Emperor of Man in the administration of the Empire -- and ensure that the interests of the Electors are not trampled upon by an overly-strong emperor. At the end of the 11th century IC, when Emperor Boris Goldgather tried to confer the title of duke upon his favorite racehorse, the Electors unanimously decided that they had to have a veto upon the emperor's actions so as to keep face with the Empire's people. So each Elector deputised one representative each to form a watchdog body that would take the name of the Prime Estates.[1f]

This institution is located within a beautiful building in the confines of the capital of Altdorf, its membership ostensibly open to any person of the recognised Imperial nobility, although the "lackeys" of the emperor are carefully kept away. In fact, the Prime Estates has now essentially become the Empire's legislature. All Imperial edicts are carefully examined "in the interest of the state," with documented reports being immediately sent to the Electors who can choose to either support or veto the edict. The Prime Estates can veto any edict that does not suit them or the Empire's interests, allowing the Prime Estates to have near-complete control over what course the emperor may take in legislating for the Empire.[1f]

Each Elector Count maintains an established representative of their interests in the capital, and these embassies are directed by either one of their loyal family members or another close and loyal acquaintance. These ambassadors will discuss new Imperial decrees or legislation announced by the emperor in council in the Prime Estates, as well as send these reports back to the Electors they ultimately serve. As they have the power to veto those decisions of the emperor that do not suit them, it is important for the emperor to obtain the approval of the Prime Estates if he hopes to accomplish anything.[1f]

In theory, the emperor also has a veto over the Prime Estates' decision as he is the Empire's recognised sovereign, but in practice, it would be very difficult for him to exercise it. Indeed, without real majority support amongst the Electors, the emperor has little capability to assert his own right of veto over the Prime Estates. The latest attempt to do so occurred during the reign of Emperor Mattheus II who wished to institute a more democratic form of government for the Empire, drastically reducing the power of the nobility, but the threat of a civil war unleashed by the Elector Counts if he took such a step was so pressing that he was forced to give it up.[1f]

Provincial Goverments

The empire by tzapquiel-d4hvv9z

A detailed map depicting the Electoral Provinces at the time of the reign of the Empress Magritta

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.[1f]

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.[1g][2d]

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]

Political Map

A diagram mapping the complex political structure of the Empire

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]

Provincial Structure

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. 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]

Imperial City-States

560px-Manoir

A chartered town within the Empire

An Imperial city-state is a privileged, semi-autonomous state based in one of the Empire's largest cities, often the capital of one of the Electoral Provinces, that can assert its political, legal, and military sovereignty over a specific territory; the space enclosed by its city wall and its immediate surrounds. The city-state 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 Imperial 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]

Foreign Relations

Old World Diplomacy

The forces of Chaos in the Northern Wastes and internal Chaos corruption is not the only problem the Empire and its ruling nobility face. Other realms surround the Empire, and its relations with them have often proven contentious.[1m]

At the same time, the Empire has maintained tentative allegiances, or at least states of peaceful coexistence, with the other major realms of Men in the Old World -- Bretonnia, Kislev, and Tilea -- for many years in recent decades.[34a]

Bretonnia

Despite the current peace, 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]

Kislev

Kislevites still remember their alliance with the Empire that brought victory during the Great War Against Chaos some two centuries ago, when Magnus the Pious came to their aid.[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]

Skaven

"Ignorance is the best shield the Empire has, the ratkin themselves our best allies against the threat of the skaven. While man remains ignorant of their world, the skaven feel safe to war amongst themselves, pursuing their petty intrigues and vendettas. Given a common foe, given a common purpose, their entire race would unite into a single horde and smother the world of men beneath their numbers. For the survival of the Empire, the underfolk must remian a fable told to children."

Jeremias Scrivner describing the policy of the Empire against the Skaven.[18a]

The Empire's refusal to acknowledge the Skaven as anything more than myths and children's tales frustrates the people of the southern realms of Tilea and Estalia. Taverna gossip on the subject ranges from the grim to the absurd, in some cases claiming that Imperials refuse to acknowledge the ratmen's existence because they are actually in league with them![16a]

The reason for that is simple: Higher-ups in the Empire are aware of the ratmen threat, but also that, if the knowledge about the Under-Empire would spread, not only mass panicks would follow, but also, the Skaven would find a common foe. They would galvanize into a single horde which would overrun the world beneath their numbers. For the safety of the Empire, knowledge of the Skaven is suppressed by members of the Grey Order to keep the Skaven divided, so that they spend their forces by warring on each other and sabotaging themselves.[18a] Others believe in the Skaven, but are unaware of the extent of the threat they pose.[19a]

For their part, the Skaven and their agents work to inflame tensions between the realms of Men in the Old World so the stories of their existence are greeted with greater skepticism, and what the Skaven cannot discredit, they will seek to embellish to such a degree that it becomes an amusing, outlandish children's tale, thus keeping the Humans of the Old World's greatest nation from acting to thwart their schemes to achieve the Great Ascendancy.[16a]

Tilea

"I’m proud to wear the Imperial eagle on my armour. We’re the greatest nation in the Old World! If he’s an Empire man born and bred, even the most stinking thief in my cells is twice the man of a perfumed Bretonnian or wheedling Tilean."

Johan Strauss, Altdorf Harbour Watchman[13a]

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]

Despite this, the Empire has maintained tentative allegiances, or at least states of peaceful coexistence with the Tilean city-states for many years.[54a]

Norsca

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]

Border Princes

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

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]

Geography

"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]
TheEmpire

A map of the Empire

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 well-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]

Religion

See also History of the Cults of the Empire


"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]
Sigmar Icon

The Twin-Tailed Comet, symbol of Sigmar

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]

  • Sigmar - Warrior-god of Mankind, and the Founder of the Empire.[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]

Outlawed Gods

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]

Electoral Provinces

Current Electoral Provinces

TheEmpirePolitics

The Empire's current 11 Electoral Provinces and the major Imperial cities, all of which also legally carry the status of independent city-states as of 2512 IC.

The 11 current Electoral Provinces of the Empire, also sometimes called "Grand Provinces" or "Great Provinces" include:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Former Electoral 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:

  • West Mark - founded in the modern territories of Bretonnia.[10b]
  • Grauesland - founded after the first Parravon War within the Grey Mountains between modern Bretonnia and the Empire, on the territory of modern Parravon.[12a]

Current Provinces

Provinces attached to one of the Electoral Provinces after the political reorganisation of the Empire following the Turmoil of 2512 include the:[9c]

  • Princedom of Altdorf - attached to Reikland
  • Princedom of Averheim - attached to Averland
  • Princedom of Carroburg - attached to Middenland
  • Princedom of Wurtbad - attached to Stirland
  • Protectorate of Drakwald - attached to Middenland
  • Arch-duchy of Dunkelkoste - attached to Talabecland
  • Grand County of Nuln - attached to Wissenland
  • Northern March - attached to Ostland
  • County of Sylvania - The County of Sylvania was formerly an independent Imperial Electoral Province, but it is now officially only a constituent 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 bloodline of Vampires and their necromancer and Undead followers.
  • Arch-duchy of Upper Teufel - attached to Reikland
  • March of Vennland - attached to Wissenland
  • Westenmark - attached to Middenland

Twelve Original Grand 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 Grand Provinces of the Empire, including their associated original Human tribe and that tribe's ruler at the time they were included in the newly-founded Empire of Man by Sigmar. The first Elector Counts were drawn from this "Greats;" as such, many Imperial nobles attempt to link their family line to one of these great leaders.[10a]

Colonies

The Empire has since expanded to new continents beyond the Old World. These do not have representation within the Empire at large.

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]
  • 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.

Former Settlements of the Empire

  • Marburg - Marburg was an early settlement of the Empire that stood during the reign of Sigmar. It still stands today as a much-reduced village in Stirland that faces regular threats from nearby tribes of Forest Goblins.[35a]
  • Jutonsryk - Jutonsryk was an Imperial city of the Wasteland originally founded by the Jutones tribe that stood during the reign of Emperor Sigmar. After the assault of the Liche Nagash on the Empire and his defeat by the first emperor, Jutonsryk was reduced to a city of the dead, its streets empty of life and infested with degenerate cannibal creatures.[35c]
  • Siggurdheim - Siggurdheim was the ancient capital of the pre-Imperial tribe of Men known as the Brigundians, although it was abandoned after the war against the Liche Nagash during the reign of Emperor Sigmar. The town had originally been built into a crag near a river, forming a natural defence, although under King Siggurd the city had already grown beyond its constraints. Sigurdheim was constructed on a natural promontory of dark rock with a wall of smooth stone erected around it. Siggurdheim was taken by the Great Necromancer Nagash when the Lord of Undeath sought to reclaim his Crown of Sorcery from Sigmar. The city fell after only a few days of siege, with the entire population being slain and raised again to join Nagash's Undead armies. The exact location of Siggurdheim within the ancient Empire has been lost to time. In the Empire of the present day, it is believed that Sigmaringen, a humble township in modern Stirland, stands upon the ruins of what was once one of the major centres of the early Empire.[35a]

Other Regions

  • 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.
  • Drakwald Forest - The Drakwald Forest is the most ancient woodland in all the Old World, this region of woodland is infamous throughout the lands of the Empire as a realm of darkness and the home of an untold number of Beastmen tribes.
  • Forest of Shadows - The Forest of Shadows is the northernmost woodland within the Empire, and covers much of the province of Ostland. It serves as the natural border between Kislev and the Empire.
  • Reikwald Forest - The safest forest within the Empire, kept clear of the dangers of Greenskins, Beastmen and worse creatures that afflict so many other woodlands of the Old World, the Reikwald covers the lands of the Reikland, and is famous for the tranquility and peace to be found beneath its boughs.
  • Three Hills - The Three Hills is a wide strip of land in what is now Stirland that was used for many decades during the reign of Sigmar by Asoborn youths to hone their skills with bow, spear and chariot.[35b]

Current Elector Counts and Other Electors

Notable Imperial Characters

  • 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, is the current emperor of the Empire 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, Luitpold I, 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]

Forces of the Empire

"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]
Empire Greatsword

The armies of the Empire gain a great victory over their foes in Sigmar's name.

By decree of the Emperor 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]

Typical Imperial Trooper

An Imperial man-at-arms

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

A regiment of Imperial state troops

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 Infantry

  • 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 Cavalry

  • 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 Artillery

  • 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 Lords

  • 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.

Empire Heroes

  • 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 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.

Interactive Map


Trivia

The Empire is based on the Holy Roman Empire of the sixteenth century in the real world. Both nations occupy similar central regions on their respective continents, have very similar languages, cultures, and aesthetics, and were often rife with infighting and religious civil wars. The political system of the Elector Counts and the Electoral Provinces mirrors the real life nobility who served as the Electors of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Sources

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