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Not to be confused with Vampire Count (Title).

"Awake O Dead, for there can be no rest for ye beneath the earth. Let the splintered bones burrow from the grave pall. Let cold fingers grip time-worn blades, and unseeing eyes survey the fields of slaughter. For your time has come once more. And the dead shall walk again."
Motto of the Sylvania Press.[5a]
Von Carstein

Banner of the Von Carsteins.

The Vampire Counts are amongst the most legendary factions of Vampires to have ever terrorised the civilised lands of the Old World, all of whom are members of the unholy Von Carstein bloodline.[2b] From the Imperial government and the patriotic citizenry of the Empire of Man, the Vampire Counts are considered by many to be fiends without equal. They seek only to topple the civilisations of the living and supplant them with an Undead Empire that will reign forever as Lords of the Night.[1a] The Vampire Counts are powerful necromancers as well as warriors, given supernatural enhancements to their strength, cunning, beauty, and ambition.[1c] However, these vampires, for all their power and cunning, are ultimately base, selfish creatures driven by the same motivations as the mortals they deem themselves superior to.[4l] They are remorseless in their advance, killing without thought of mercy or compassion, and whose motives are entirely based on their own selfish desires.[1h] For all their refinement, these vampires are nothing but rotting corpses held together by Dark Magic and the horrific consumption of mortal blood.[1h]

From their powerbase within the former Imperial province of Sylvania,[4c] the descendants of the Von Carstein bloodline have tried repeatedly to topple the authority of the Empire of Man.[2a] Since the time of Vlad von Carstein, it is the sole purpose of the family to inherit the Empire as their own, using attempts of legitimacy, assassination, and outright invasion to achieve their ambitions.[1c] Time and again they have been pushed back towards Sylvania and hunted ceaselessly for their horrific machinations. Yet no matter how many Von Carsteins fall, there always seems to be another willing to take its place, disturbing the graves of the dead and plotting to finally plunge the Empire into their cruel tyranny.[4b]

History

The origins of the Vampire Counts can be traced back to the origins of the vampire race. From the deserts of the far south, there once laid an ancient civilization that ruled unchallenged for many thousands of years. This ancient kingdom held the name of Nehekhara, a mighty human civilisation that was once the pinnacle of Mankind's achievements. Within those once verdant plains, the people of Nehekhara had lived a prosperous life amidst the many rival cities that dot its landscape. Massive temples and pyramids were built to honour the many long-dead Priest Kings that ruled this ancient kingdom and whose obsession to live forever lead its many inhabitants on a dark pursuit for eternal life. Eventually, this obsession with achieving immortality would bring about Nehekhara's demise and, from its death throes, the birth of the first vampire.[1d]

Rise of Nagash: The Birth of the First Vampire

Khemri2

The Ruins of Khemri.

Some two and a half thousand years before the birth of Sigmar, the ancient civilisation of Nehekhara dwelt along the banks of the great River Vitae. Of all the Kings of Nehekhara, none could match the splendour, cruelty, and arrogance of Settra, the First Priest-King of the city-state of Khemri. Under his inspired leadership and unparalleled ruthlessness, the other Priest Kings of Nehekhara were eventually conquered and forced to pay tribute while acknowledging Khemri as the greatest city in the land. But Settra was unsatisfied knowing that one day death would rob him of all he had accomplished.[1d][4e]

In his arrogance, he vowed that the grave would not claim him and proclaimed that he would cheat death, setting his wisest and most powerful priests to task working on a means of preventing his passing. Soon, all of Nehekhara became preoccupied with death and the afterlife, resulting in the construction of many huge temples and monuments that were meant to honour the long deceased. These huge tombs became so frequent and massive in scale that the rulers were forced to gather them all into massive cities called Necropoli. In the end however, Settra could not evade death and after living out the last fleeting years of his extended existence, he was eventually entombed within a vast pyramid.[1d][4e]

It was onto this culture that Nagash was born, the brother of the current reigning Priest King of Khemri. Nagash was the first son of his father, the former Priest King, and was given to the Mortuary Cult as tradition demanded. He soon rose to the position of High Priest, where he observed the Morticians as they prepared the dead for internment and learned all of their ancient magical lore. Yet Nehekhara was far south from the northern Winds of Magic and he was unable to cast them himself. Frustrated with this, Nagash went to great lengths to increase his knowledge of Death magic, to such an extent that he took to unspeakable experiments in his quest for immortality. When word about this spread, nearly all the citizens of Khemri shunned him. But just then, a group of Dark Elves were blown off-course and captured by the ships of the Zandri navy. These prisoners were given to Khemri as a gift to be sealed within the tomb of Nagash's dead father. When Nagash was told by a Dark Elven Priestess that she would reveal all her knowledge of Magic to him in exchange for her life, Nagash faked the Dark Elves' deaths and sealed them within his father's pyramid.[1d][4e]

Nagash reasoned with his captives: if the Dark Elves willingly revealed and taught Nagash all they knew about magic, he would release them from their prison. During his tutoring, the Dark Elves taught Nagash how to reap souls and use their energy to cast spells of his own without the need to channel the Winds of Magic. With this knowledge coupled with many long years of research and experimentation, Nagash would become the founder and creator of a new form of sorcery which he named Necromancy. Even after the bargain was done, the Dark Elves were never seen again. Nagash's experiments met with limited success as he was able to prolong his life and forestall the effects of ageing, but he still could not stop the slow decay of his flesh. He shared his elixir with depraved noblemen, building support for himself before he finally killed his own brother and seized power in Khemri. He and his immortal supporters were tyrannical rulers, slaughtering many of the citizens of Khemri without provocation or reason.[1d][4e]

With their newfound power, they constructed the Black Pyramid, the largest structure ever built by Mankind. Nagash supervised the construction, and although it cost a great many lives to build, the blood, sweat, and souls of those that died were a small price in his eyes. The original purpose of the Pyramid was meant to attract as much Dark Magic into Kemri as possible, using either the Winds of Magic or the souls of the dead to fuel its growing power. For the Priest Kings of the other cities, long disturbed by events in Khemri, this was the final blasphemy.[1d][4e]

Tumblr n3u1a9I9kv1sq3imzo7 1280

Nagash as he fought a bitter last stand before the Black Pyramid.

Under the leadership of King Lahmizzar of the city-state of Lahmia, the other Priest Kings gathered their powerful armies and formed a coalition to stop Nagash's tyranny. A bloody war broke out, where waves of dark magic surged out from the Black Pyramid and blasted the lands of Nehekhara. Once verdant plains of wheat slowly became tainted and the life-giving waters of the land's many oasis grew sickly and killed all that drank from it. After nearly a century of conflict, the armies of the Priest Kings shattered Nagash's power and sacked the capital city of Khemri.[1d][4e]

As Nagash fled the burning city into the cold depths of his pyramid, the Great Necromancer swore to the Priest Kings that he would return and enact his dire vengeance upon their descendants. The Priest Kings considered this an empty threat and laughed as their acolytes found Nagash's disciples within the pyramid and dragged them screaming to be burned and beheaded in the daylight sun. All of the morbid statues and monuments to Nagash's glory were toppled into the sands. The sanctums of the Necromancer's disciples were plundered and despoiled, the practice of Dark Magic outlawed under the pain of death. Yet the agents of the Priest Kings could not find the renegade himself. Although his disciples claimed to have seen Nagash enter his sarcophagus, the coffin itself was mysteriously empty.[1d][4e]

Unbeknownst to the Priest Kings, Nagash escaped and rebuilt his power once more. To the far north, he had spent the better part of a century constructing a vast citadel, which he named Nagashizzar. Located within a mountain known as Cripple Peak, Nagash sought to take advantage of the huge reserves of magic-saturated Warpstone buried beneath its roots to fuel his already formidable powers. The Skaven, also desiring the warpstone, tried many times to sack Nagashizzar and take Cripple Peak for their own. After nearly a century of attrition warfare, the war ended in a stalemate, for the Skavens could not overcome the formidable fortress and Nagash could not drive them away. Recognising the potential for mutual cooperation, Nagash negotiated an alliance with the Skaven, supplying them with warpstone in exchange for their aid with his plans.[1d][4e]

The Damnation of Lahmia (-1200 to -1170 IC)

Neferata

Queen Neferatem, the first of the Vampires.

Before Nagash left for Cripple Peak, he made sure to leave behind agents of the Mortuary Cult within Nehekhara to help in corrupting the minds of the nobility and lure them to his side. One such agent was W'soran, the High Priest of the city of Lahmia. Using his elevated position within Lahmian society he was able to corrupt the mind of the young princess Neferatem, who was destined to become the next Queen of Lahmia. Neferatem was a willful girl who grew fascinated with magic and death but was frustrated by the Mortuary Cult’s unwillingness to pass on their teachings to a woman.[1d][4e]

W’soran nurtured her thirst for the forbidden arts, coaching her in the magical knowledge he learned at Nagash’s side. After the Priest Kings drove Nagash from Nehekhara, Neferatem was all too willing to save several forbidden scrolls from the Priest Kings pyres. After her father took Nagash’s position as King of Khemri, Neferatem began her rule of Lahmia, and behind the locked doors of her palace, she studied the scrolls and began to emulate the simpler necromantic magics.[1d][4e]

All the while, W’soran was testing the waters of Lahmia’s Mortuary Cult, learning which priests were sympathetic to his cause and which would have to be dealt with in due time. Those who could not be twisted to the teachings of Nagash were warned of Neferatem’s dark practices, a calculated act of betrayal that the Queen would not learn of for many years. So it was that the priesthood fractured, some loyal to their queen and others set against her. This culminated in an attack on the palace, a rebellion that was only thwarted when Neferatem herself emerged, surrounded by a crackling nimbus of dark energy, and unleashed the full fury of her burgeoning necromantic abilities on her foes.[1d][4e]

The remaining rebels were rounded up and executed, leaving only those in the Mortuary Cult whom W’soran could trust. With their aid, W'soran and Neferatem continued their studies, focusing on one ritual above all others: the creation of the Elixir of Life that had granted Nagash his immortality. They eventually found success but in an unexpected form. The version of the Elixir they created gave them immortality, but it also fundamentally changed the nature of their beings. They became the first vampires.[1d][4e]

The Mortuary Cult of Lahmia cut its ties with the Mortuary Priests of other cities and began a reformation of its principles, encouraging female priests to join. The temple was rebuilt using stones taken from the buildings of Khemri that were destroyed during Nagash’s defeat, and the chambers of the temple glittered with gold and were decorated with statues and hieroglyphs telling the story of his rise to power. In time, this temple would be known as the Temple of Blood. The Cults of the other Gods found themselves falling out of favour, struggling to be heard at court, and forcing many to simply leave.[1d][4e]

Neferatem invited her cousin Khalida Neferher, the Warrior Queen of Lybaras, to join her cult. Khalida rejected her offer, suspicious of the changes going on in Lahmia and devout in her own worship of Asaph, the Goddess of Serpents. Worried that Khalida knew her secret, Neferatem accused her cousin of treason and attempted to assassinate her during a feast, drawing her into a duel before all the nobles of the Lahmian court. Neferatem’s Vampiric strength gave her victory, and whilst Khalida lay dying, the vampire bit her own tongue and kissed her cousin, transferring the vampire curse upon her. Devout Khalida prayed as she died and her prayer was answered. Asaph drew the taint out of her blood and replaced it with poison, granting Khalida a holy death. It is said that although her death was holy, it was not complete, and Khalida lived on as the eternal guardian of Asaph’s temple. Neferatem, thwarted in her attempt to gain a powerful ally, cast the remaining priests of the other Gods out of Lahmia.[1d][4e]

During this period of change, Neferatem had been secretly feeding on the populace of her city, arousing the suspicion of Abhorash, the love-struck captain of her palace guards. Abhorash was horrified to discover his love’s true nature, but he was still duty-bound to obey her commands as she was still the Queen of Lahmia. Neferatem tricked Abhorash into drinking from the Elixir of Life, turning him into a vampire much to his disgust. Neferatem and W’soran then continued to spread their curse to many within the Lahmian Court this way, including Chief Judge Maatmeses and the court vizier, Harakhte. So began her Deathless Court, the trueborn who would become the masters of the lesser vampires they created.[1d][4e]

Abhorash still felt twinges of his humanity from his former life and created a set of rules for the trueborn to follow, ostensibly as a way of protecting themselves from discovery. They would only prey on criminals and slaves, not ordinary citizens, from then on. Also, they were forbidden from feuding amongst themselves and no trueborn could ever try to kill another trueborn. Thus, when Neferatem’s brother Ushoran learned of the Elixir and stole a draught of it for himself, she could not punish him, and Ushoran, the lowly Lord of Masques, was permitted to join the Deathless Court.[1d][4e]

Under its ageless queen, Lahmia became a city known for its religious intolerance and the harshness of its laws. Agents of the other cities began stirring up rebellion, horrified by the spread of the Cult of Blood and its veneration of Nagash. When the insurrection came, it was more brutally suppressed by Neferatem than the previous rebellion, earning her the name Neferata, meaning “Beautiful Death”. Although the rebellion failed, the other cities of Nehekhara still wished for Lahmia's destruction. King Setep of Khemri, whose military legions had conquered lands as far north as the lands of the Border Princes, was foremost within this coalition. Amongst his soldiers was a masterful tactician called Vashanesh, who was of Nagash’s own blood. Betraying Setep, Vashanesh travelled to Lahmia to warn them of this planned attack.[1d][2a][4e]

Vashanesh so impressed Neferata that she gave him the last of the Elixir of Life (which none have been able to recreate since) and made him her husband, King of Lahmia and co-ruler of its growing population of vampires. Together they plotted to keep the other cities of Nehekhara distant from each other, creating a network of spies that split the nation for centuries, disrupting all attempts to unify the people against them. After centuries of uncontested rule, it was Alcadizaar the Conqueror who finally managed to unite and mobilise the disparate armies of the land and bring war to Lahmia by invoking the names of the old Gods of Nehekhara. He laid siege to the city at the head of a mighty army comprised of warriors from all of the other city-states as well as mercenaries and allies from the territories he had annexed from the lands of Araby and the Southlands. Arriving at the city, they were horrified to be met not only by the military of Lahmia but also by an army of the dead raised from their rest by the vampire W’soran. Fighting back their fear, Alcadizaar’s troops brought battle to the Undead.[1d][2a][4e]

Though outnumbered, the army of Lahmia could be continually replenished, the dead rising as soon as they fell. The vampire's mortal followers proved less reliable, however, and in time, traitors amongst the Lahmian ranks soon turned against their masters and allowed the Nehekharans to storm the city. The chariots of the Jackal Squadron of Marahk coated the streets with blood, and those vampires who did not flee were forced to do battle on the steps of the temple itself. Abhorash lead the defense for a full week, withstanding the spells of Zandri’s high priests and the alchemical fire of their war machines. Finally, the temple was burned to the ground, and Abhorash was forced to flee with several of his sons-in-darkness, the last of his compassion for the living finally burned out of him. The other surviving vampires, including Neferata, W’soran, Ushoran, Maatmeses, and Harakhte fled north, where they came across a reborn Nagash in the midst of raising an Undead army of his own.[1d][2a][4e]

The Curse of the Vampire (-1163 to 1152 IC)

Gykutyk

Neferata as she fought for the Great Nagash.

Nagash had not been idle and learned much about the art of necromancy and animating the dead during his time within Nagashizzar, conceiving of a mad and deadly scheme that would turn the entire world into a necropolis filled only by the unquiet dead. Where no action would be performed, no deed done save when he willed it. Nagash would be the Lord over it all.[1d][2a][4e]

It was no coincidence that the vampires came across Nagash. Through his agent, W’soran, Nagash had manipulated them from the beginning and lent them his magical aid from afar during the siege of Lahmia. When Neferata learned the full extent of W’soran’s manipulation she was furious, even more so than after Nagash's decision to pass her over and offer his distant relative, Vashanesh, the position as commander of his legions. Nagash had crafted a ring that would allow the vampire who wore it to return from the dead time and again, but through that ring, Nagash would be able to control all of Vampirekind. Vashanesh foolishly accepted the ring and at Nagash’s command the vampires led his Undead army.[1d][2a][4e]

The first step on Nagash's road to utter dominion was the elimination of his former homeland Nehekhara, for he wished to fulfill the bitter vengeance he vowed upon the Priest Kings for what they've done to him in the distant past. At his command, the vampires led his legions to war. On ships made of fused bone, the Undead horde made its way from the Sour Sea, down what future generations would call the Straits of Nagash, and finally back into the Bitter Sea of Nehekhara's shores. The Undead legions made landfall within the ruined ports of Lahmia and surged towards the Priest Kings domains, the exiled vampires spearheading the assault.[1d][2a][4e]

However, Nagash had seriously underestimated his former countrymen. In the time of his absence, the Lands of the Great Vitae River had become a mighty Empire ruled by a single Priest King, known by his people as Alcadizaar the Conqueror. Alcadizaar was the greatest general of his age and his Empire was at the zenith of its power. When the Undead came they found themselves opposed by a massive, unified, and highly marshalled grand army consisting of warriors, legions of chariots, and hordes of cavalry. Moreover, the enchanters of the Great Kingdom had made progress in the arts of magic, particularly in the creation of animated war-constructs. No easy victory was possible against them.[1d][2a][4e]

Although at first the vampires were eager to serve as Nagash’s lieutenants to exact revenge on Alcadizaar and regain Lahmia, it became apparent their survival was irrelevant to Nagash. He hurled them carelessly against the enemy as he would his mindless Undead troops, and he cared not for rebuilding Lahmia. Instead, he sought to destroy all of Nehekhara. Bound by the power of the ring Vashanesh wore, they were unable to disobey Nagash or even his second-in-command, Arkhan the Black.[1d][2a][4e]

The ensuing wars stained the sands of Nekehara red for many years. The vampires were mighty sorcerers and fell warriors, and they were determined to reclaim their kingdom. Wherever they appeared, terror and dread came upon the enemy and yet the vampires, for all their claims of power and immortality, could still be cast down to the cold furrow of death. The war raged for a decade. At first, the legions of the Undead had the upper hand, then the armies of Alcadizaar struck back with displays of tactical genius.[1d][2a][4e]

Vashanesh concocted an ingenious solution to the problem of Nagash's enslavement. Suspecting the control Nagash exerted relied on a vampire wearing the ring and believing the Great Necromancer’s assurances that it would return him from the grave, Vashanesh allowed Alcadizaar to cut him down at the height of a battle. The vampires were freed from their control and only W’soran remained, the others scattered and returned to the fortress of Nagashizzar.[1d][2a][4e]

So great was Nagash's rage that he cursed his vampiric captains, making all those bearing their blood unable to bear the rays of the sun. Ever afterwards, they would know constant pain from their unforgiving Master as their howling cries would carry the knowledge of their misery to all Men. W’soran stayed by Nagash’s side whilst he cursed and ranted at the fickleness of vampires. The remaining vampires fled Nagashizzar by night, dispersing in all directions to confuse pursuers. Even after Nagash's death at the hands of Alcadizaar, the vampires bore his curse. Thus, the first vampires disappeared across the world, founding their own bloodthirsty dynasties that would endure and grow through the centuries, terrorising the living to the present day.[1d][2a][4e]

The Vampire Wars: The Reign of the Von Carsteins

When the vampires fled the wrath of Nagash, the majority went northwards into the lands of what would be known as the Old World. Once there, the seven surviving Vampire Lords all went on their own separate journeys. One went to the far East, perhaps to the distant lands of Cathay, whilst another disappeared into the howling Northern Waste. The last four all stayed within different parts of the Old World. Queen Neferata took residence in a large peak within the World's Edge Mountain that was known by the Dwarfs as the Silver Pinnacle, where she still resides today as the leader of the Lahmian bloodline. The honourable Abhorash fled to the northern regions of the Old World, where it is said that the Vampire Lord defeated and drunk the blood of a mighty dragon, removing the loathsome curse of blood consumption. With the curse lifted, Abhorash formed the first of the Blood Dragon bloodline.[1d][2a][4e]

The scholarly W'soran flung himself to all corners of the Old World where he still travels to this very day, gathering as much knowledge of Necromancy as he possibly can in hopes of resurrecting his fallen master. It was during this time that he also founded the Necrarch Bloodline. The cunning Ushoran founded the Strigoi bloodline after he helped a Necromancer named Kadon establish the ancient human kingdom of Strygos and its capital city of Mourkain long before the founding of the Empire of Man. But perhaps the greatest and most dangerous of the bloodlines to have ever plagued the Human Realm in the Old World is one that started with one man and his ambition grown so great that it had the potential to topple an entire Empire.[1d][2a][4e]

Vashanesh eventually returned to life as Nagash promised and he spent the next few centuries testing the limits of the ring. He set about mastering certain magical arts to make the ring his slave, rather than his master. Eventually, Vashanesh's ambitious nature lead him on a dark path that would haunt the lands of Sylvania for the rest of eternity.[1d][2a][4e]

The Madness of Otto von Drak (1797 to 2000 IC)

Drakenhof

The haunted halls of Castle Drakenhof.

It all began on a storm-lashed night when Otto von Drak, the last of the mad von Drak Counts, lay on his death bed within the capital of Drakenhof, cursing the gods that he was without a male heir to continue his legacy. Otto was a cruel, gluttonous, and selfish man who delighted on the plight of others and whose authority over the land was met with little respect and less love by both commoners and nobility alike. While on his deathbed, the lands of Sylvania were seething with civil strife. As his family awaited his final breath, Otto swore to all the gods that he would rather marry his only daughter Isabella to a daemon rather than to let his hated brother Leopold inherit the throne. The dying Count refused all those that requested her hand in marriage, for in his heart, he despised them all. And so it was that Isabella von Drak knelt at her fathers' death bed, still without a husband and child to carry on the family estate.[1d][2a][4e]

As if a dark power had answered the Mad Counts plea, outside the castle, thunder rumbled and lightning split the darkness. Victor Guttman, the aged priest of Sigmar who had been called to shrive the old Count, fainted instantly. Then, from out of the storm came the sound of wheels and pounding hooves. A dark coach pulled by four mighty black steeds stopped outside the keep. In the ensuing silence, someone knocked on the door. A trembling servant introduced an unknown noble to the Count. The stranger introduced himself to the dying Count and his daughter with respect, completely ignoring Leopold and only answering Leopold's questions regarding his origins by stating his name as Vlad von Carstein, the eldest of the von Carstein family, one he didn't expect Leopold to know. Leopold protested, but the stranger silenced him, stating he had come only to offer his services to the current Count von Drak, being in the vicinity whilst travelling to a wedding.[1d][2a][4e]

Completely oblivious to his true intentions, Otto's face lit up and he proposes the stranger to become the husband of his daughter, thus effectively removing Leopold's claim to the title of Count. Vlad then turned to Isabella, claiming that at some point of the ceremony it was usual for the bride to accept. Isabella, wanting the power she sensed in Vlad, accepted but asks him in a whisper for a token of his love. Vlad then faced Leopold and tore his heart out of his chest with his bare hands before tossing him out of a window. He then presented Isabella the heart of her now-dead uncle upon which she coldly stated that she has no use for it, seeing as it no longer beats. The priest Guttman was revived from his swoon and brought to the chambers of Otto, where the marriage ceremony was performed before the dying count's bed. Almost as soon as the last of the ritual words were spoken, Otto von Drak passed away, leaving his daughter and his entire estate in the charge of Vlad von Carstein. Thus the wedding ceremony had ended, and the two lovers were together ever since.[1d][2a][4e]

Vlad von Carstein had married Isabella for power and used his charm to control her at times. To their mutual surprise, what had started as a marriage of convenience swiftly blossomed into true love, and the pair had become confidants in one another and were all but inseparable. Isabella begged Vlad to give her the Blood Kiss so they could be together for eternity, but Vlad was aware to the downsides of vampirism and loved her too much to subject her to that. Scant days later, word reached Drakenhof that Isabella had fallen sick with an incurable illness. One of the physicians who tended her claimed her heart had stopped. The new Count insisted this was not so. He dismissed the learned doctors, claiming he would care for her with his own hands. Three days later she appeared in front of her folk, saying she was fully recovered. She was ever afterwards pale and wan, however, and never left her chambers save by moonlight.[1d][2a][4e]

Several months following Vlad's coronation, dark events had begun taking place across the lands. Young men and women from neighbouring villages began disappearing overnight. Sightings of the dead stirring beneath their graves began to pop up within every cemetery across Sylvania. For whatever reason, these walking dead only attacked those that were defying the Count's authority. Those dissidents that had escaped them were found dead by strange accidents. All over Sylvania, these dark events occurred regularly, with only those who swore their allegiance to Vlad von Carstien seemingly immune to the horrific purge.[1d][4e]

Within ten years, Vlad was more firmly in control of unruly Sylvania than any other ruler beforehand. Some remarked that so great was Vlad's achievement that he should in fact sit upon the Imperial Throne. To his naive subjects, the von Carsteins were, after all, an ancient family that could trace their lineage back to the founding of the Empire.[1d][4e]

Generations later, Vlad and Isabella still presided over the lands of Sylvania, unchanged. At first, few paid attention to their longevity. The lives of the peasants had always been squalid and short, and so they paid little heed, although it was the longer-living nobility that begun to notice this strange vitality. The revelation came about when the oldest woman in Drakenhof remarked how her great grandmother was still a girl when Vlad von Carstein came into power. In time word began to spread, leading to even the most dull-witted peasant realising something was odd. Witch Hunters by the dozen began to flock to the lands of Sylvania, hunting down evil like hounds upon a hare. Yet, of those that tried to investigate the von Carstein family, none had ever returned.[1d][4e]

Vlad and the First Vampire War (2010 to 2051 IC)

Vlad von Carstein

Vlad von Carstein, first of his bloodline.

In his former life, Vlad was not a cruel man at heart, but the curse and selfish pride that is usually brought about by Vampirism had corrupted him body, mind, and soul. As with all vampires, the new Count of Sylvania was ambitious beyond mortal comprehension and so he sought to instill his rule over not just Sylvania but the whole of the Empire of Man. At first, none of the feuding nobles of Sylvania paid any heed to the commands of this new Count. If this bothered Vlad, he gave no sign of it. The Vampire Count cherished his subjects the same way a peasant family would cherish a beast that they are fattening up for the Midsummer feast. After decades of harsh rule by the incompetent Count Otto, this new authority was welcomed by all save perhaps the most paranoid, or perhaps the most wise.[1d][4e]

The first signs that someone big is coming came about when the disease that first took Isabella now took the rest of the Sylvanian nobility. Soon, every major castle within Sylvania was home to a family of long-living nocturnal vampires, pallid of aspect and arrogant in their rule. In time, the number of people who went missing grew exponentially. A mysterious sickness, not unlike the one that had killed Otto van Drak, had filled the graveyards of Sylvania, pushing the people to their limits and forcing the majority of the peasantry to turn their backs on the gods who would not help them and into the arms of the Cult of the Wiederauferstanden, known by many as "The Cult of the Arisen Dead".[1d][4e]

The holy temples of the Old World Pantheons were desecrated and closed, with the Priest of Morr being driven out. Without the Morr Priest to perform the proper burial rites to bring the long-deceased into their tombs and towards the afterlife, the bodies of the dead were simply piling up at the sides of the road and their tormented spirits forced to live without rest. But probably the greatest and final sign of this impending darkness came when the Ostermark capital of Mordheim was destroyed by a massive Warpstone meteorite in the year 2000 IC.[1d][4e]

The city of Mordheim was once the capital of the Imperial province of Ostermark where the faithful and pious gathered to witness the second coming of Sigmar Heldemhammer. But after some time, the city grew into a cesspit of decadence, greed, and widespread corruption. When the city was obliterated in 2000 IC by a massive meteorite, shards of Warpstone were found all over the ruins of the city. Unaware of its chaotic origins, claimants of the Imperial Throne sent mercenary companies into the city to gather as much Warpstone as they possibly could, hoping to manipulate its false properties of healing or turning lead into gold for their own personal uses. Vlad followed up on this as well, sending in his dark minions to gather as many of these shards as possible.[1d][4e]

Finally, on Geheimnisnacht Eve of the Imperial year of 2010 IC, Vlad von Carstein thought the time ripe for the next step in his master plan. It was then, at the beginning of the winter, that the count called forth all the nobles of the province to pledge loyalty to him during a festivity called the Totentanz, or the "Dance of the Dead". The dance was to be held at Drakenhof Castle on the eve of Geheimnisnacht. The Totentanz was actually a ploy, invented by Vlad to assemble the remaining living aristocracy in one place. At the height of the ball, he gave an order to his minions to close of the entrance and kill every living thing inside. Only two people left the throne room alive: Alten Ganz, loyal human servant of Vlad who had suspected the true nature of his master plan, and Stefan Fischer, a witch hunter who had been chasing one of von Carstein's vampires for the murder of his wife alongside another Witch Hunter named Jon Skellan, his brother in law. During this event Skellan was killed and turned into a vampire, but Fischer managed to hide under a pile of dead corpses to avoid being caught.[1d][4e]

With his deed enacted, the Count of Sylvania stood upon the battlements of Castle Drakenhof and performed a terrible incantation from one of the Nine Books of Nagash. Fueled by the magic-saturated Warpstones recovered from Mordheim, the necromancy spell flowed over the unguarded cemeteries of the Gardens of Morr and in an instant, all throughout the province, the dead began to stir. Slowly, every single cadaver in Sylvania began to move towards Drakenhof to answer the call of the Vampire Count. As the dead nobles started to emerge from the throne room, Stefan Fisher acted like a zombie and escaped Drakenhof with only one single taught in mind: "they are coming".[1d][4e]

Fischer finally escaped the deadly trap Sylvania had become only to fall into the claws of a small band of Vampires travelling through the Empire. Accepting his fate, even feeling joy for being soon reunited with his wife, Fischer was contempt to finally meet his end when suddenly he was saved by a small detachment of Countess Otilla's army sent to investigate reports of Undead activity along the Sylvanian border. Fischer thus relayed the truth regarding the Vampire Count's true nature. Feeling all sense had fled his life, he stayed with Otilla's army as they try to fend off the Undead army at the Battle of Essen Ford, which would be the first conflict of the Vampire Wars.[1d][4e]

Vampire Wars

The hopeless Battle of Essen Ford.

The Battle at Essen Ford was considered a total Imperial massacre. Knee deep in the mud and overwhelmed by impossible odds, the human army was easily swept away. At the end of the battle Fisher came across his brother-in-law, Jon Skellan. When the prisoners were lined up before the Vampire Count, Vlad showed them the extent of his power. While speaking with the leader of the army detachment he invited first Ganz, then three vampires including Skellan, to kill a prisoner of their choosing. Skellan chose Fischer and bled him dry, thus reuniting him with his dead wife. Vlad reanimated each of the dead Imperials, then asked the still-living Imperial Commander of this defeated army to choose one of his men to live.[1d][4e]

The latter refused, not wanting judgement over the life or death of any but his own. The Vampire Count thus chose the youngest of the prisoners and announced that he alone would live to spread the fear of the vampires throughout the Empire. He then freed the prisoner, who ran for his life away from the Undead army. In this moment of distraction, the Imperial Commander took Vlad's sword and beheaded the count with a swift stroke. Herman Prosner severed the Commander's an instant afterwards but it was too late, for the Vampire Count was no more.[1d][4e]

Not long after, Prosner remarked that the body of the count had disappeared. Dismissing it as trivial, he started a brutal rise to power, slaying everyone opposing him. It had been the loyal servant Ganz who had taken the body away, incapable of accepting the death of his beloved Count. At the end of the night, Prosner had obtained control of the Undead army and was going to get the last thing which would truly cement his power: the widow Isabella. The latter, totally hysterical, was smiling when Herman Prosner entered her tent. She claimed that her beloved wasn't dead and that he would come back for her. Gently, Herman Prosner led Isabella out the tent and claimed her before the whole army as his bride by right of strength.[1d][4e]

From the back of the crowd, someone answered the challenge. The Undead all stepped away from the one who had spoken and there stood Vlad von Carstein. He had been saved by a family heritage, an old signet ring obtained in his earlier life which granted the wielder true immortality. In the following duel, Vlad defeated Prosner and laid him low. Seeing his death inevitable, Prosner hurled his sword away, killing loyal Ganz in the process. The Count then prepared to strike him down, but was stopped by Isabella, who claimed that right for herself. The Count gave his sword to her, and she killed Herman Prosner in cold blood.[1d][4e]

The war continued after the events of Essen Ford. For more than 40 years, the dark shade of the Count put an aura of terror above the Empire. Countless times he was struck down in battle, and each time he rose again to kill those who had defeated him; at the Battle of Bluthof, he fell impaled by five lances with the Count of Ostland's Runefang buried to the hilt in his heart, yet reappeared three days later, overseeing the execution of prisoners. Whilst at the town of Bogenhafen, he led his undead army to victory after being decapitated by a cannon only an hour before. When in the spring of 2050 IC, the city of Middenheim was attacked and the Grand Master of the Knights of the White Wolf, Jerek Kruger, was turned into a vampire because he had dared to kill the count at the Battle of Schwartzhafen a year before. All hope seemed lost to the Imperials, and eventually the Undead army now marched towards the last thing between them and victory: the Imperial capital of Altdorf.[1d][4e]

When the Undead army arrived before the walls of Altdorf, they found the city was well prepared. The Reik had been diverted to surround the city, harvests had been stockpiled, and the walls had been manned. However, the powers of Vlad proved enormous. In a shocking display of cabalistic power, he covered the sky in clouds and awoke every dead beneath the plains surrounding Altdorf. Huge siege engines formed of zombies were thrown against the city walls, and in time, the dead soon outnumbered the living. There was no hope of victory for mankind. In search of divine aid, the Grand Theogonist Wilhelm III retreated into the catacombs of the Cathedral of Altdorf to pray. It was in that holy place that he received a visit from Mannfred von Carstein, the eldest thrall of Vlad.[1d][4e]

Mannfred wanted the power of the Vampire Count for himself, but he knew that he wasn't strong enough to challenge Vlad in combat. So he informed Wilhelm III about the secret of the Count's immortality. The priest then set an elaborated trap to catch the best thief of the age: Felix Mann. When they caught him robbing the Imperial Counting House, they gave him a simple choice: to rob Vlad von Carstein's signet ring, or to be hung for his crimes. In exchange for the theft, he would be paid enough to start anew elsewhere. Felix accepted the charge and, with a little aid from Mannfred von Carstien, robbed the count of his most precious belonging.[1d][4e]

When the Count awakened, his anger was uncontrollable. In one frenetic attack, Vlad threw everything he had against Altdorf. There on the battlements, he confronted Wilhelm III and eventually overcame him. With his last breath, the Great Theogonist threw himself against the Undead Count, and both fell off the walls. While the fall wouldn't have killed a vampire as powerful as Vlad, they both fell on a wooden stake, the vampire trapped beneath the corpse of the holy man. Immediately after the death of Vlad, his army dissolved and the Altdorfers rejoiced, for finally, the horrors of the First Vampire War were over.[1d][4e]

Konrad and the Second Vampire War (2058 to 2121 IC)

Konrad von Carstein

Konrad the Bloody, the most violent and bloodthirsty of the von Carsteins line.

The war had ended and Vlad's dream of an Undead Empire was dead alongside him. While the horrors perpetrated by his unholy campaign would still stalk mankind's worst nightmares for centuries to come, the vampire threat hadn't been routed. The vampires had indeed fled into the woods and were returning to their powerbase within Sylvania, but still two of Vlad's lieutenants where alive, and enough direct descendants to assure the continuation of his line. Jerek Kruger, a warrior with experience commanding, managed to shepherd the surviving vampires back to Sylvania. He would, however, never try to obtain the position of Count. Another Vampire by the name of Skellan had been captured by the Altdorfers and was imprisoned in a crypt beneath the Cathedral of Altdorf where they kept him as a prisoner for many years afterwards.[1d][4e]

Felix Mann, wanting to claim his reward, discovered that with no physical proof of the deal he had with the Grand Theogonist, no one would believe he had committed the theft on behalf of the holy man. Wronged and angered, Felix stole one of Vlad's Books of Nagash but while fleeing from the Sigmarites he became aware that someone was following him from the shadows. When Felix was finally cornered by the stranger in a back alley, he tried to buy him off with the dead Count's signet ring. The stranger, who was in fact Mannfred von Carstein, severed the two hands of the thief, took the ring and the book, and left Felix for dead. Thus, Vlad's artefacts passed on to a vampire and necromancer of almost equal power. Isabella von Carstein would be taken captive the very next night when they caught her trying to find her husband's body, which had been buried beneath the Theogonist's grave. She was completely hysterical and had lost all touch with reality. She would commit suicide eventually, when the Lector of Sigmar, in an attempt at pity, told her Vlad was really dead and would not come back.[1d][4e]

Following Vlad's death, only five vampires claimed to be the heir to his legacy. These vampires were Fritz, Hans, Pieter, Konrad, and Mannfred von Carstein. For more than forty years afterwards, the vampires of the von Carstein line fought a vicious power struggle against each other, giving the Empire vital time to recover from the desolation brought about by Vlad's invasion. In time, Fritz von Carstein was killed on the field of battle when he foolishly attempted to besiege the massive fortress-city of Middenheim. Hans von Carstein perished when Konrad instigated a quarrel between them over who was the toughest amongst them. Pieter was slain in his coffin by a vengeful Witch Hunter by the name of Helmut van Hal, a distant descendant of an ancient and powerful necromancer from the time of the Skaven Wars. It is said that Mannfred von Carstein had also aided in his death. After Pieter's death, Mannfred von Carstein disappeared from Sylvania, leaving Konrad as the new and undisputed ruler of all Sylvania. In time, Konrad began the Second Vampire War, much to the Empire's dismay.[1d][4e]

Whilst Vlad von Carstein was patient, Konrad von Carstein was simply a mad butcher: evil, merciless, and insanely violent. Lacking the necromantic skills of his predecessor, Konrad was forced to enslave any magicians he could capture and forced them to do his bidding as powerful necromancers. Once more, the Vampire Counts of Sylvania rampaged across the lands of the Empire. Indeed, Konrad was beyond bloodthirsty, even amongst his own kind. Vlad offered his opponents a choice between servitude or death, Konrad offered them a choice between dying quickly or dying slowly. The former Count's ambition was to rule as the Vampire Emperor of the Empire, Konrad's single motivation was to simply indulge himself in endless slaughter.[1d][4e]

His warmongering nature took his army to the far south of the Empire, where he came into contact with the Blood Knights of Blood Keep, the bearers of the Blood Dragon bloodline. With these knights folded into his ranks, Konrad was able to destroy all those who would dare to oppose him, even given Konrad's complete lack of strategic planning, hysteri,a and grave tactical errors. At the Battle of Kleiberstorf, however, Konrad faced a powerful Averlander army that contained a massive wagon-train of long-range artillery. When battle commenced, the Averlander artillery was merciless toward the slow-moving Sylvanian army. In desperation, Konrad threatened, bribed, and pleaded with his necromancers to keep his army moving forward. He offered power and riches to his captive wizards and they acceded, combining their powers to unleash a scourging wind on the Averland army. Dark magic swept across the Imperial ranks, and in a short time, the Imperial soldiers began to feel their souls being clawed by ethereal hands. Panic began to spread as the unnatural gale stripped the life of the Imperial soldiers one by one.[1d][4e]

In a rare moment of tactical genius, Konrad saw that the moment was ripe for a counter-attack and sent his elite squadron of Blood Knights and Drakenhof Templars into the fray. Faced with incomprehensible terrors and armoured vampires, the Averland army broke and fled. Konrad, like the bloodthirsty creature he was, hounded the Imperial soldiers for five days and five nights, ensuring that all those that participated in the battle were hunted down and killed to the very last man. In his overzealous pride and need to draw more blood, the Vampire Count had instigated a bloody war with the dwarfs against the cautious advice of his few remaining advisors. Attacking isolated villages and surface settlements within the domains of Zhufbar, the Dwarf King of Zhufbar himself finally had enough and mustered a grand army to punish the vampire for his wrongdoings. Seeing a new challenge, the vampire met the dwarf army at the town of Nachthafen.[1d][4e]

In the battle, the dwarfen runesmiths countered the necromantic spells of Konrads enslaved necromancers with ease. Robbed of their sustaining power, the Skeletal Warriors and Zombies of Konrad's army lay where they fell, blasted apart by a massive barrage of cannons and mortar artillery. Konrad remained confident despite the setbacks and launched an all-out assault on the dwarf's right flank. Leading the assault himself, the vampire drove directly towards the cadre of runesmiths whilst his Blood Knights smashed into the disciplined ranks of dwarf warriors. Konrad slew the runesmiths personally, drinking their spilt blood and giving his captive necromancers the time they needed to resurrect the fallen. It was a hopeless battle, but the dwarfs still fought stubbornly until the very end. Their own King had challenged the Blood Count to personal combat, but instead of accepting, Konrad dispatched Walach Harkon, the Grand Master of the Blood Knights to fight as his champion. Though the duel was bitter close, the Grand Master finally killed the Dwarf King with a mighty blow and gorged himself on royal blood. Within the next hour, the last of the dwarfs were all dead.[1d][4e]

Konrad was so unwavering and vicious in his undead assault that, confronted with a common enemy, the three claimants to the Imperial Throne had put aside their differences and combined their mighty armies into one titanic force with which to oppose him. At the Battle of the Four Armies, the three Imperial Grand Armies stood united against the undead army of Konrad just outside the fortress-city of Middenheim. This battle became infamously known for the great betrayal by two of the Imperial leaders. Emperor Lutwik and Emperess Ottila IV attempted to assassinate each other during the battle, a disgusting gesture that forced the other Imperial Counts to select another candidate to lead this new coalition. A conclave of the Elector Counts assembled themselves within Averheim where they decided that Helmut of Marienburg would be a prime candidate to be the new Emperor. Even as support for him grew within the council hall, Helmut began to act erratically, struck dumb and vacant at a critical time. Eventually, Helmut's skin began to peel off and his eye suddenly popped out of his own skull. Even Helmut's son, Helmar, refused his father's claim to the throne once it was discovered that his father was killed and turned into a zombie under Konrad's control.[1d][4e]

With his ploy failing, Konrad went into a rage and slaughtered his way from Averheim into the Howling Hills, putting to the torch every town and village that stood in his way. Finally, having enough of Konrad's sadistic invasion, all of the remaining Elector Counts and Dwarf Lords joined forces once more upon the Battle of Grim Morr during the spring of 2121 IC. Arrogantly, Konrad once again made a headlong charge against the fully-arrayed armies of all the Elector Counts and dwarf warriors under their hero, Grufbad. Although his elite core of warriors had managed to endure the punishment, a strange event began to occur. In that instant, the regiments of the Undead began to falter, with the magic that bound them together seeping away. The enslaved necromancers finally had enough of Konrad's sadistic rule and fled the battlefield without a second glance. Seeing the battle was lost, the terrified Blood Knights retreated as well, hoping to escape the vengeful dwarfs and Imperials. In desperation, the magically inept Konrad tried to hold the undead army together by himself, but the effort proved too much to bear and Konrad's mind finally snapped.[1d][4e]

In a mad fit, Konrad wandered away from the battle while his undead army began to disintegrate, shouting maniacally as his mind lay shattered. Konrad wandered the forest for some time until he was ambushed by Grufbad, who captured the vmpire and held him down as the newly elevated Elector Count Helmar impaled his father's killer with his own Runefang. With Konrad's death, the Second Vampire War was finally over, and in time, the Elector Counts began to squabble amongst themselves once more.[1d][4e]

Mannfred and the Third Vampire War (2124 to 2145 IC)

Mannfred von Carstein

Mannfred von Carstein, the most cunning and magically gifted of the bloodline.

With the death of Konrad, the last contender for Vlad's position was Mannfred von Carstein. Whilst Vlad was the most powerful and Konrad was the most violent, Mannfred was by far the most cunning and perhaps the most magically gifted of the entire bloodline. During the time of the Second Vampire War, Mannfred left Sylvania and travelled to the dead lands of Nehekhara to seek out necromantic artifacts of great power. He spent the next century reading through forbidden books and by the time Mannfred returned to Castle Drakenhof he soon possessed an entire library of dark lore. Being the last of the von Carstein bloodline, Mannfred became the undisputed ruler of Sylvania.[1d][4e]

For a full decade Mannfred von Carstein had bid his time wisely and allowed the Imperial contenders to believe that the threat of Sylvania was truly over. Where Vlad had ruled through his iron will and raw power, and Konrad reigned with violence and fear, Mannfred used his necromantic powers and devious manipulations to forge his new undead armies. He sought out vampires from beyond the borders of Sylvania and bribed, coerced, and flattered them into his new retinue. He spent many long months in the wilderness of the Empire rousing Spirits and Wights from their decrepit tombs and desecrating cemeteries for corpses. When vicious civil war again wracked the Empire once again, Mannfred deemed it was time to finally strike.[1d][4e]

Mannfred's undead army crossed the Sylvanian border in the depths of winter. With the summer campaigning season over, the armies of the Elector Counts were already disbanded and were completely unprepared for this sudden assault. Mannfred's armies marched through the snows towards Altdorf, putting to the sword any living men they met and raising the corpses to swell the ranks of his horde. In the infamous Winter War of 2132 IC, Mannfred defeated several hastily assembled Imperial armies that attempted to block his path to the capital. Victory followed victory and soon the rumour of Mannfred's coming was enough to send villagers fleeing from their homes only to freeze to death in the cold winter snow. When Mannfred's massive legions reached Altdorf, they found the city seemingly undefended.[1d][4e]

Triumph filled Mannfred. He looked set to become not a Vampire Count but a Vampire Emperor, achieving what Vlad and Konrad had failed to do. Then the Grand Theogonist, Kurt III, appeared on the battlements of the city. The Sigmarite high priest had brought forth the evil Liber Mortis from the deepest locked vaults of his temple, and began to recite the "Great Spell of Unbinding" from its pages. As the incantation continued, Mannfred's power over his minions began to weaken. Seeing his followers begin to crumble to dust, Mannfred ordered a hasty retreat, for the hidden Imperial armies within Altdorf were mobilizing for a massive counter-attack.[1d][4e]

Unperturbed, Mannfred marched his army along the River Reik downstream and into the port-city Marienburg, capturing several large vessels along the way and manning them with the raised corpses of their crews. Mannfred's initial plan was to lay siege to the port city, and then sail his zombie fleet through Marienburg's primary rivers and canals that cut directly through the city and attack from the river ports. In desperation, the entire city was roused to the defence, and in time, the first undead assault upon the ports was repulsed. Unable to make a beachhead within the riverways, Mannfred began construction of massive siege towers and catapults within the outskirts of the city. However, scouts reported to Mannfred that a massive Imperial army was hounding them all the way from the city of Altdorf. Realising he could not win this siege, Mannfred promptly retreated.[1d][4e]

So began a long cat-and-mouse chase that encircled the entire Empire, with neither side entirely sure which one was the cat. At Horstenbad, the armies of Ostermark were able to surround and ambush Mannfred as his army wound its way along the forest road, destroying nearly half of his forces. Yet Mannfred escaped the slaughter and within the month had seized the town of Felph and created a new army. On and on the campaign raged, with neither side able to secure the ultimate victory. Twice, Mannfred was forced to retreat to Sylvania in order to escape pursuit from his relentless enemies.[1d][4e]

Determined not to make the same mistakes as they had before, the nobility of the Empire had sworn a truce to finally rid the Empire of Man of the vampire threat once and for all. United under a righteous cause, the entire military might of the Empire was brought forth and in time, army after the Imperial army was mustered from all the Grand Provinces for the Sylvanian campaign. To repay themselves for lost grudges, the High King of the Dwarfs also sent in armies of his own to reinforce the Imperials. Wave after wave of Imperial regiments were streaming into the Sylvanian borders like a massive river, scouring the dark woods and routing their foes. Eventually, the Imperial armies had forced Mannfred into a pitched battle within the treacherous marshes of Hel Fenn.[1d][4e]

At the Battle of Hel Fenn, Mannfred's army was vast, his necromantic power having raised a legion of zombies from the muddy depths of Hel Fenn itself. Mannfred's unliving host continued to retreat deeper into the swamps, drawing the exhausted Imperial armies onwards into the filth and gloom. Yet Mannfred was taken aback by the determination of his foes. Tirelessly, the Imperial and dwarfen armies continued to hound Mannfred until finally he was brought to battle at the eastern reaches of the marshlands, where the warriors of the Empire and the dwarfs fought with grim resolve.[1d][4e]

Mannfred saw that victory was beyond his reach and attempted to flee. Elector Count Martin of Stirland, mounted upon a majestic Griffon, gave chase and caught Mannfred at the very edge of the swamps. It is said that Jerek von Carstein, the former Grand Master of the Knights of the White Wolf , tore off Mannfred's arm which contained the signet ring Vlad once wore to resurrect himself from the dead. Without this ring, Mannfred was now mortal. Though the Elector Count was wounded badly, his Runefang cleaved great gouges into Mannfred's flesh and the vampire's mangled corpse sank into the depths of the swamp. Despite a long search, neither human nor dwarf ever located Mannfred's body, but unbeknownst to them, Mannfred von Carstein was truly dead. Thus ended the reign of Mannfred, the last of the von Carsteins and the final end of the Vampires Wars once and for all. Or so the Empire had thought.[1d][4e]

The Border Wars: The Return of Mannfred von Carstein

Although Mannfred truly died at the Battle of Hel Fenn, an odd turn of events came about that resurrect Mannfred from the grave. A necromancer by the name of Schtillman was within the vicinity of Mannfred's buried corpse when he was suddenly killed by a group of hunters, of which included the famous duo Gotrek and Felix. The blood of the necromancer dripped loosely and flowed into the roots of a tree where Mannfred's body laid. With enough blood going back into his body, Mannfred was able to rise once more. Mannfred, hell-bent on taking the Imperial throne for himself and ruling over the Old World, even if it took an eternity to do so, has bided his time since his defeat at Hel Fenn.[1d][4e]

Over the years leading up to his re-emergence, Mannfred travelled far and wide to secure allies. Once his studies with the disciples of Nagash in the ruins of Lahmia had come to completion, his magical abilities had never been stronger. Yet the von Carstein's plans were ambitious indeed. In return for their secrets, Mannfred had sworn a dread pact with the corrupted wraith-wizards that yet served Nagash in the South - a pact to aid them in their own goal of summoning the Great Necromancer once more and bringing a new order to the world. The von Carsteins had secretly been working towards this same goal for centuries following the death of the rebellious Vlad von Carstein. Though great progress had been made, their efforts had ultimately fallen short, for in truth, Nagash had become more like a god than a man, and his spirit was beyond even the abilities of the Vampire Counts to bring to the mortal realm. It would take the rituals of ancient Nehekhara combined with the sacrifice of a powerful and innocent soul to achieve a true resurrection. Mannfred, in his genius, saw a way to hasten the return of Nagash and seriously weaken those who would stand against him in one stroke.[1d][4e]

Hierarchy

"There is no Vampiric society, no aristocracy or blue-blooded royalty amongst the Undead. Vampires crave power, and through strength and cunning they take it. Frailty is punished by death—final, true death. There is no natural succession amongst those left behind. No birthright. No passing of the torch from generation to generation. Power is taken with strength."
Stefan Savilus.[2g]
Vampire Council

Vlad von Carstein and his coven of Vampire Lords.

The rulership and hierarchy of the Vampire Counts is both simple and brutal in all aspects; only the strongest shall rule. The vampires, and more specifically the von Carsteins, all crave power with an endless hunger, and will stop at nothing to attain the title of Vampire Count. The title of Vampire Count is a prestigious and legendary title that denotes a vampire as the current Vampiric leader of Sylvania and the patriarch of the von Carstein family. Since the creation of the vampire race, there has only been three Vampire Counts in existence.[1d] The current reigning Vampire Count is the cunning and deviously powerful Mannfred von Carstein.[2b][2e]

The title of Vampire Count is usually passed down not by succession, for all vampires are immortal, but by right of strength, being claimed by the strongest amongst the remaining contenders. Once a Vampire Count dies, the remaining vampires usually squabble amongst themselves for the position, leading to a vicious power struggle that could last decades. These events have happened several times in the past, with the most prominent occurring just after the death of the first Vampire Count. Indeed, even when the current Vampire Count still walks the earth, there is always one amongst their numbers who would wish to claim his title by any means necessary.[2b]

Vampiric Nobility

VampireNobitliy

A artistic portrait of Sylvanian Nobility.

Similar to the Imperial nobility, the Vampire Count is nonetheless also the liege to a host of other lesser families of vampires or human nobles. The Von Carsteins have links to the majority of the ruling nobility within the lands of Sylvania and, as such, their aims are like any noble house—to remain powerful and wealthy and to find ways to increase their status even further. They go about achieving such goals in much the same way as any other province of the Empire and often through the same political machinations.[2d]

Count Mannfred holds power because of his military and necromnatic strength, his enduring charisma, and a complex system of alliances, treaties, and spies that he has made with other lesser lords. Even then his power is relatively limited; if his fellow Lords have a strong reason to object to one of his campaigns, they can simply deny him troops or face the Count in open hostility. Despite his strengths, Mannfred has to be a political creature as well as a brutal warrior and must choose actions that will be well supported in order to avoid a possible civil war amongst his fiercely independent subjects. Luckily for the Count, the goal he seeks to achieve is also within the common interest of the remaining Lords of Sylvania, which is to expand the domains of Sylvania and to turn the Empire of Man into an empire of the unliving. In the current political climate of the Sylvanian nobility, few vampires are willing to make Mannfred angry for few are willing to take up the responsibility and dangers of his position.[2d]

Since the fall of the first two Vampire Counts, the position has since fallen out of favour amongst the remaining Vampiric Lords, for it attracts too much unwanted attention from the Empire's many agents. As such, the remaining Lords of Sylvania are simply content to live out their unliving lives in luxury, leaving Mannfred to do the work of vampiric expansion mostly alone. Beyond the provision of troops, however, Mannfred has little official control over any of his subordinates, as there are few unifying laws or vows that must be kept amongst their numbers. Each feudal lord is therefore free to do whatever he wishes within the lands he owns, with the only consequence for certain decisions being a possible shift in his social or political status within Sylvanian nobility. Gifted with a cowed and terrified populace, the individual Vampire Lords are free to inflict whatever laws or treatments they please upon their subjects for the sake of pure cruelty or simple curiosity.[2d]

Count Marcellan von Carstein once ordered his townsfolk to eat nothing but grass in order to study the effects of such a diet, whilst Lady Carlotta famously forced husbands to execute their own wives if they committed the crime of bearing them more than two children. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want her town growing too fast, as it might then spread over her favourite patch of lilies on a nearby hillside. Befitting their cursed and hated existence, the Vampire Counts of Sylvania are truly monsters in the eyes of man, yet they are still loved feverishly by their disillusioned populace.[2d]

The Blood Tax

The Blood Tax is the only tax paid by the peasant population under the rule of a Vampire Lord, a tradition dating back generations since the time the vampires first took over Sylvania. This tax is generally paid by giving up a member of a family or community to their local vampiric liege so that they can be used for the consumption of blood. The amount of tax to be paid differs from place to place, depending on the vampire who controls the land. In Nachthafen, Countess Gabriella refuses to feed on the lowest peasants and only taxes the relatively affluent townspeople who can afford more than one set of clothes. She prefers to leave them alive after feeding, most of the time, to increase their loyalty to her.[2f]

In the town of Eschen, the tax demands the firstborn daughter of every family, who is never seen again, leading to some parents attempting to disguise their girls as boys to avoid payment. The smaller villages are typically only taxed once per year, though the amount varies purely on whim. Those few who are foolish enough to hide from the Count’s men when they come to collect are dealt with harshly, and the blood tax is raised in those places where they are found. This leads to situations where neighbours turn in their neighbours to avoid offending their masters.[2f]

Von Carstein

"Those von Carsteins are very handsome! I don't think I'd mind being bitten by one of them. Did you see the one with the black hair and the scowl?"
Elke Rabe, a camp follower attached to a baggage trade of Imperial Stirlander Guards.[3a]
Von Carstein-0

A handsome member of the von Carstein bloodline

The members of the Vampire Counts are usually also members of the Von Carstein Bloodline, or at the very least, members of other Vampiric Bloodlines that have pledged their services to the current reigning Vampire Count. Out of all the Vampires that have ever been known to man, the cursed bloodline of the von Carsteins is by-far the most legendary. Handsome, arrogant, charismatic, prideful and ambitious, the von Carsteins are the true aristocracy of the night. It is said that the history of the von Carstein family can be traced back to the time of Sigmar Heldenhammer and the founding of the Empire. Indeed, for in a way, there is some truth to this, for it was Vlad von Carstein himself that was present during that ancient time, giving Sigmar vital instructions on how to defeat Nagash before the gates of Altdorf itself.[2b]

Ever since then, however, it is believed by the von Carsteins that they have the right and legitimacy for Sigmar's realm as much as any other contender. Many nobles believe deeply in the concept of the peerage to its literal extreme. Nobility, in other words, is in the blood. The upper classes are placed above the lower because only they have the qualities necessary to rule, and these qualities can only be passed through the blood. To the Von Carsteins, this is taken to an even greater extreme.[2b]

Believing in the power that lies within their blood, the von Carsteins truly believe that they were born to rule, and everyone not of their bloodline was born simply to grovel at their feet. Indeed, the von Carsteins are naturally theatrical and consummate braggarts, yet over and over they've proven that their words were not empty, for they have the supernatural strength, charisma and ambition to accomplish all that they boast. If a von Carsteins swears to hunt you down to the ends of the earth, the Vampire will keep that promise unto his grave.[2b]

This is not least because of family pride. The Von Carsteins take their name and noble duties very seriously, and if they swear something upon themselves, they will move all the earth to see it through. Of course, herein lies the terrible contradiction of the Von Carsteins. They consider their bloodline sacred, yet because the Von Carsteins are incapable of delivering offspring and the blood itself is simply considered enough to make one a member of their ranks, they are often faced with less ideal members that might possibly make a mockery of their name. The only solution is to constantly engage in internecine wars and power struggle so that only the truly greatest amongst their number are allowed to bear the illustrious name.[2b]

Thus it is that the Von Carsteins devote most of their lives to the twin obsessions at the heart of all nobility, conspiring to improve their status over each other and waging outright war. Perhaps the only way to unite these warring members is to find a common enemy, and perhaps the most common are those mortals that dare to still defy the ruling and greatness of the von Carstein family.[2b]

Feeding and Breeding

"I do not care what our prey think of us. Do you consider what opinion meat has of you?"
Constantin von Carstein.[2h]
Von Carsteins

A Von Carstein as he is going to give the Blood Kiss.

Like all Vampires, the von Carsteins are required to sustain themselves with a steady flow of blood in order to keep both their appearance, strength and sanity in check. Without the consumption of blood, all Vampires would either die or degenerate into a primitive yet savage beast. As such, the von Carsteins are known to be the only Vampiric bloodline to be caretakers or landholders of certain human estates and small holdings, with a literal populace of human cattle.[2c]

Contrary to popular belief, the von Carsteins actually don't mind if they hunt for their prey, but rather they find it insulting that they have to do it from the shadows and away from the prying eyes of the Witch Hunters. However, thanks to their astonishing good-looks and great charisma, the peasants and nobles under their rule have been known to fight each other for the chance to be willing subjects to their feedings. For whatever reasoning behind it, those victims that are tenderly drained of their blood seem to enjoy a pleasuring sensation that would otherwise overcome the pain and fear of being drained of their blood.[2c]

Also like all Vampires, the von Carsteins cannot bear any children and thus have to rely on transforming potential candidates into a Vampire by means of a Blood Kiss. Such a decision is often frowned upon by the majority of Vampires, as it is common for the descending bloodlines to become weaker of both will, power and strength. To keep to their image as the best of the bloodlines, even when a candidate becomes a von Carstein Vampire, they must also embody the family's core values and characteristics. There is no point in passing on the von Carstein blood to one who will mingle with the common folk or not uphold the high standards of the family. A von Carstein must be arrogant to the core, fundamentally assured of both his family’s prominent place in the universe and his own. If this is not the case when the Kiss is given, instruction will be provided and new Vampires are schooled in every aspect of their noble life, including strategy, manipulation, and conspiracy. Likewise, if the Vampire is ever found wanting in his lordly skills and duties, he may be prompted to at least mind the honour of his family name. A von Carstein Vampire is only given one chance, and should he continue to be a liability to the family, they are often never seen again.[2c]

Although strict in their selection process, members of the von Carstein family are known to be erratic in passing the Blood Kiss to many candidates that have very little to no qualifications. Often times, these members are known to give the Blood Kiss to stable boys or wenches just because of their dashing good looks. It is believed by the bloodline that eccentricities are the right and privilege of those with noble blood. A single vampire wench is an insult, a harem of them is an achievement. In short, when it comes to the Blood Kiss, as with almost everything in the life of the nobility, there is a great deal of propriety to be observed but every rule can be broken if one is powerful enough that no one would dare to slight him.[2c]

Military

"By all means, try and stop 'em. I won't stand in your way. Beat them back, chop them down, hold the line, carry the day. Cover yourself in glory, or in guts, it makes no difference to me. Or to the dead, for that matter. You're just postponing the inevitable, lad."
Black Ruprecht, grizzled veteran of the Vampire Wars.[1y]
Tumblr mzgdpkq7Ni1rn2yg0o1 1280

The Legions of the Undead unleashed upon the battlefield.

The Vampires of the Old World claim dominion over the mortal remains of all earthly creatures. To die is to surrender oneself to their power. The generals of the Empire claim that the night is always darkest before the dawn; The Warrior Priests of Sigmar preach that there is hope yet. But they know little of the games immortals play. Patient, cunning, devious, the Vampires work to conquer the lands of the living with ancient and corrupted sorcery. Should they succeed in their dread goals, the rays of the sun shall be forever suffocated by the night, and the age of men will be replaced by an age of undeath. The world will be transformed into a ghastly necropolis of mindless and unliving slaves, ruled over by the iron will of the Vampire Counts.[1f]

The warriors that mostly comprise the armies of the Vampire Counts are known throughout both history and legend as those of the unliving brought about by the use of Necromancy.[1g] Most if not all Vampires have a certain affinity with Necromancy, a unique form of sorcery that derives from the use of the Black Arts, also known Dhar, or Dark Magic.[4d][4o] Necromancy is in itself a direct contradiction to the Winds of Shyish, where while Shyish follows and embrace the certainty of death, the use of Necromancy is meant to evade or strive to prevent it.

Necromancy is thus a key element within the Vampire Counts armies. When a Vampire Lord wishes to bring war upon the Empire or against other enemy factions, they would often raise the dead of Sylvania from their graves with either their own sorcerous abilities or from their personal coven of Necromancers. These powerful individuals are what keeps the Undead army together, for without them, the dark magic that controls and holds these walking corpses together would soon dissipate, often crumbling into simple scraps of rusted armour or broken bones.[4d][4o][1h][1i]

The bulk of the Vampire Counts armies consist almost entirely of raised Zombies or armoured Skeletal Warriors. These unliving abominations have not a single flicker of sentience within them, and can not operate independently without a Necromancer or Sorcerer to guide them. Although mindless, these Undead are nonetheless also fairly resilient to many other factors that might hinder other living armies. Such advantages include not being hindered by the need for food, sleep or the touch of the cruel elements, as well as having the inability to feel fear, for they lack the sentience to feel such complex emotions.[1o][1p]

Other then the raised dead, however, the Vampire Counts have also made extensive use of horrible creatures and grotesque abominations that have taken residence within the lands of Sylvania. These creatures come in all grotesque shapes and sizes, from the towering Ghoul Kings to the flying horrors of the Varghiests. Through the use of dark magic, these creatures are bound to the will of a particularly powerful Necromancer. Due to these creatures having extremely low intellect, they are often as mindless in their advance as any unliving creature, with the only sole motivation in their mind being the consumption of human flesh.[1g]

Other times they've even bound the souls of spirits into their service.[1v] While such property belongs to the Death God respectively, the Necromancer does not fear the punishments of his actions and would lure these restless souls into his army by means of a ritual involving Dark Magic. From the wailing Banshees to the ethereal Hexwraiths, these lost Souls have lost their will of control, and are forced to do the bidding of their hated master.[1g]

When engaged in battle, the ability for the Vampire to both directly manipulate and control his warriors proved pivotal to their success on the battlefield.[1g][1h] With almost methodological planning, these Undead Warriors would rally into neatly formed ranks and would endure almost anything thrown against them. With the ability to resurrect the fallen almost at a whim, the tactics employed by the Vampire Counts consist almost entirely on the use of attrition warfare. As the Undead ranks absorb the enemy attack, their ranks would be continuously bolstered by freshly resurrected warriors from their own warriors and those of the enemies. Eventually, the dead would so outnumber the living that victory is almost inevitably ensured. However, herein lies the single greatest weakness that comes to all their kind, for should the powerful Necromancer that controls the army dies, so too will the entire army crumble into ruins.[4d][4o][1h]

Vampire Infantry

  • Zombies - Zombies are simple corpses raised by a Necromancer to be used against the enemy as simple infantry. The armaments of these unliving are extremely diverse, for any who have died on the field of battle are instantly amongst their ranks. Some might have been recently slain Imperial troopers with magnificent weapons and armour, while others may consist of simple peasants with rusted pitchforks and kitchen knives. Whatever their origins, these unliving are still used extensively by the Vampire Counts.[1o]
  • Skeleton Warriors - Skeletons form the mainstay of the Vampire Counts armies, and unlike Zombies, have the ability to go head-to-head against other enemy infantry. These skeletons are warriors raised from times long ago, having been slain in combat and buried with both their weapons and armour still intact. Although these warriors bare rusted swords and rotting wooden shields, these Skeletons still have a flicker of light within their sockets that indicates their spirits still linger within them, whose souls still remain trapped within the material realm.[1p]
  • Sylvanian Peasant Levies - Levies of living, breathing peasants are sometimes marshalled for war by the Vampiric overlords of Sylvania. They are typically untrained and ill-equipped. Their main advantage over Zombies and Skeleton Warriors lies in the fact that they are truly afraid of their masters, leading them to fight with grim desperation. And, of course, if they should die during battle, they can be reanimated once again.[6a]
  • Crypt Ghouls - Crypt Ghouls, or simply just Ghouls, are malformed humans whom have devolved themselves into a primitive existence due to the horrible consumption of dead flesh. Unlike the Undead, these still living creatures do not engage their enemy head-on and would rather attack from the shadows where they could use their adept hunting instincts and their poisonous claws to great effect.[1n]
  • Crypt Horrors - Crypt Horrors are a larger form of Ghouls that have managed to consume the blood of a Vampire, granting the beast incredible size and physical strength. With these benefits, these Crypt Horrors are used extensively by the Vampires Counts as a form of heavy shock infantry, able to burst through the ranks of the enemy and endure great punishment.[1w]
  • Grave Guards - Grave Guards are, unlike simple Skeletal Warriors, heroes and powerful warriors from a long and ancient past. Equipped with some of the finest weapons and armour of their age, these Undead still have the combat abilities of their former lives still within them, allowing them to become a formidable corps of warriors, their enchanted blades cutting down the toughest of enemies.[1s]
  • Cairn Wraiths - Cairn Wraiths are amongst the most powerful of the Undead. Though they lack physical form, their touch drains the life of a mortal. Their very presence fills the air with dread, and most who face them are driven mad with fear long before they are killed. Filled with rage, these vengeful spirits fall upon their enemies, tearing them apart with great sweeps of their ancient, magical scythes. In return, those who do stand against them find their pitiful attacks merely pass straight through the Cairn Wraith, making contact with nothing but foul air and tattered robes. It doesn't take long for the Wraiths to punish them for their insolence.[1k]
  • Spirit Hosts - Spirit Host are those tormented spirits of Humans who were not given rest from their graves and was forcibly summoned by Necromancers or Vampires to do their bidding. On the field of battle, these vengeful apparitions cluster together into hosts that drift slowly towards their warm-blooded victims with terrible inevitability. Even a cannonball strike will not damage a Spirit Host, for they exist only partially in this world. However, their twilight state does not render these spirits harmless. They can claw at a mortal’s flesh with long, taloned hands, stopping the victim’s beating heart with nothing more than a touch.[1v]
  • Vargheists - Vargheists are the darkness in a Vampire's soul made manifest after consuming a horrid amount of Warpstone taint. They are towering winged humanoids, each several times the size of a man. Though the Vargheists were once noble Vampires, they have since devolved into ravening predators desperate for the taste of blood.[1x]
  • Varghulfs - Varghulfs are those devolved Vampires that have given themselves up to their primal urges, and willingly transform themselves into monsters that are far stronger than any typical Vampire, but at the price of the creature's former thoughts and personality.[1y]

Vampire Cavalry

  • Black Knights - Black Knights come from a time many centuries ago, when barbarian tribes roamed what is now the Empire. Upon their death they were buried with their most prized possessions - their blade, their armour, and their steed. However, without the blessing of Morr, these corpses are susceptible to the corrupting influence of a Necromancer. Many centuries afterwards, it is common for Necromancers to raise these unblessed corpses from the grave to do his bidding as his most elite warriors.[1t]
  • Blood Knights - The first Blood Knights were once an honourable brotherhood of Imperial Knights that protected the lands just west of the Imperial province of Wissenland. However, after their horrific transformation into Vampries, these once noble Knights have since become the bearers of the unholy blood of the Blood Dragon bloodline. Their once shining armour is now encrusted with the blood and gore of countless battles, their monstrous steeds ragged and ruined from years of warfare, yet held together by potent necromantic spells. The Blood Knights are nigh indestructible and their thirst for blood makes them ferocious and implacable. Since the creation of the Blood Dragons, many more Blood Knight orders have been founded, from many different families.
  • Hexwraiths - Hexwraiths are born in the very depths of the Underworld, their only goal in the afterlife is to hunt down those evil men who have cheated death. Tearing from the Underworld and into the material world, these Hexwraiths ride from one end of the Old World to another in order to hunt down those that would defy the Death Gods wishes, whether it would be amateur Necromancers or powerful Vampires. Ironically, however, these spirits would often be lured and trapped by the bindings of a Necromancer, and forced to do their bidding.

Vampire Warbeasts

  • Dire Wolves - Dire Wolves are the arisen corpses of Giants Wolves that were brought back to serve the will of a Necromancer. Like in their former life, these Dire Wolves serve as horrific pack animals that hunt the enemies of his master like the hounds of the living.[1q]
  • Fell Bats - Fell Bats are among one of the largest variants of Bats living within the Old World, so large that their wingspan can grow to the height of a tall man, and whose numbers can literally devour the inhabitants of an entire village.[1r]
  • Terrorgheists - Terrorgheists are the largest and most powerful Bat species to have ever existed, so large and terrifying that they've grown to the size of Dragons. These monstrous Bats are rare yet extremely dangerous, so much so that they've become a favoured mount for many Vampiric bloodlines, the most prominent of which are the Strigoi.
  • Zombie Dragons - Zombie Dragons are the remains of long-dead Dragons that were arisen from their resting place within the Plain of Bones by powerful Dark Magic. Used extensively by many Necromancers and Vampires, these Dragons have lost all of their former thoughts and personality, and are nothing but a hollow husk given life and purpose by his new Undead master.
  • Abyssal Terrors - Abyssal Terrors are massive chaos-corrupted creatures that were given life and form by the horrific infusion of many different body parts from a variety of different monsters and chaos tainted creatures. Once created, these monstrosities are often used to borne afloat his Undead master in battle.

Vampire War Machines

  • Corpse Carts - Corpse Carts are large rotting carts that are used to attract a large influx of Dark Magic from the surrounding land. When Dark Magic becomes thick within the air, the Corpse Cart is used to send shockwaves of Dark Magic that would ripple across the battlefield, allowing the recently slain to be drawn back together and once more fight at their side.[1u]
  • Black Coaches - Black Coaches are, as their name suggests, coaches that are painted jet-black and driven by the servants of the Undead. Driven forward by a pair of Nightmares and a scythe-wielding Wraith, these coaches serves as a way of transporting a Vampire anywhere he wishes, protecting him from the baneful sun and plowing through any opposition that would dare to stand in his way.
  • Coven Thrones - The Coven Throne is a huge and unnecessarily decorative throne whose purpose is to borne afloat a Vampire Lord across the battlefield, borne aloft by the departed spirits of those slain by the Vampire. Ghostly, and occasionally armoured tendrils stretch upward at the bottom of the throne, at the head of which are skeletal riders on armoured horses. At the centre, it features the seductive Vampire and her handmaidens looming over a cauldron of blood.
  • Mortis Engines - Mortis Engines are large horrific reliquary's that are borne afloat by a host of spirits and used by many Undead factions as a way to help bolster the combat abilities of those Undead that are close by as well as to suck the courage and life essence of the opposing army.

Lords

  • Vampire Lords - Vampire Lords are amongst the most powerful Vampires within a Vampiric bloodline. To be a Vampire Lord is to obtain a position from which would've seen lesser Vampires perished, for within Vampiric hierarchy, it is well known that only the strongest individual within their numbers are given the right to rule over others of their kind.[1h]
  • Master Necromancers - Master Necromancers are those few individuals who have dedicated their entire existence to the learning and practicing of Necromancy and Dark Magic. Extending their lifespan beyond their mortal limits, these evil men are truly powerful Sorcerers that have the ability to conjure up an entire army of Undead all by themselves. Ancient and malevolent beings, these Necromancers have since lost all touch with their former humanity.[1i]
  • Strigoi Ghoul Kings - Strigoi Ghoul Kings were once proud and mighty Vampires of the Strigoi bloodline that have since been shunned and hunted down by other Vampiric bloodlines and forced into a state of troglodyte existence. Large and highly grotesque monstrosities, these Strigoi are no less fearsome in combat than any other Vampire, for they still retain the ability to raise Undead armies of their own and match the skills of even a Vampire Lord in combat.[1m]

Heroes

  • Vampires - Vampires are incredibly powerful Undead creatures. Unlike most of the Undead, Vampires retain all of their intelligence and will, and hence all of their ambition and desire. This makes them very dangerous indeed, for they can continue to grow and learn, spending eternity perfecting their skills and honing their plans and schemes. Vampires serve as the lieutenants of an Undead army, whose combat prowess and adequate skills in Necromancy can help determine the outcome of a battle.[1h]
  • Necromancers - Necromancers are widely regarded as twisted and corrupt individuals who are obsessed with death and the avoidance of it at all costs. They are used by those magically inept Vampires to animate the broken corpses of their servants and return them to battle. To learn such dark magic, these desperate men will seek out a Necromancer or a Vampire to teach them, though this task is not without its own dangers and many aspirants have found themselves dying a grim death at the hands of their would-be tutor. Those that do survive invariably become powerful spell-casters, though their sanity is forever broken by the horrors they have witnessed.[1i]
  • Wight Kings - Wight Kings were once ancient and immensely powerful Human Warlords that have once occupied the lands of present-day Sylvania in the days before the founding of the Empire of Man. When imbued with Dark Magic, these ancient warlords rise from their crypts as Wight Kings, eyes glowing with unnatural life. The merest touch of their blade can drain the life from their foes, or slice through flesh and bone with effortless ease. Clad in heavy armour, their bodies are virtually invulnerable to damage, making them a common choice amongst many Undead factions as front-line field commanders.[1q]
  • Tomb Banshees - Tomb Banshees are those many sorceresses, enchantresses and witches that have plagued the Warhammer world over the centuries who have since died in a horrific and unfulfilling way. The most bitter, restless spirits of these evil-hearted women become Tomb Banshees. They constantly howl in remembrance of the pleasures of life that was theirs, and in bitterness for the peace of the grave that they cannot attain.[1l]

Notable Characters

  • Vlad von Carstein - Vlad von Carstein was the first and greatest of the Vampire Counts of Sylvania. A master swordsman and skilled general with no small aptitude in the magical arts, it was he who tainted the aristocracy of Sylvania with the curse of vampirism, and in so doing, created an Undead kingdom in the heart of the Empire. 
  • Isabella von Carstein - Daughter of the mad Count Otto von Drak, Isabella was much like many of her noble counterparts. She was vain, immoral and selfish, and cared little for anything that did not affect her personal comfort and standing. Though very intelligent, she had a classical, rather than practical, education. She was considered somewhat strange for her love of some of the more male pursuits, such as hunting and falconry, over needlework and music
  • Mannfred von Carstein - While Vlad von Carstein was the most physically powerful of the Vampire Counts, Mannfred was the most cunning. When Vlad was slain, Mannfred did not involve himself in the infighting that would see Konrad rise to prominence. Instead, he travelled far and wide, seeking to deepen his knowledge of necromantic lore. He made an unholy pilgrimage to the ancient tombs of Nehekhara and the ancient city of Lahmia, where he wrested the secrets of the Liche Priests from bone dry papyrus and scrolls made from human skin. 
  • Konrad von Carstein - There are few things more dangerous than a violent lunatic, but one of them is an immortal violent lunatic with the strength and speed of a Vampire. Adding a literal thirst for blood to Konrad's figurative one did little for the noble's stretched sanity. The first of the von Carsteins had considered this as a potential advantage, and Konrad was one of the last of the von Carsteins to be embraced into the family. 
  • Heinrich Kemmler - Heinrich Kemmler burns with the need for power. Having recognised the limits that mortality placed upon him in his early years, Kemmler made it his life's work to escape them. He plunged into the world of Necromancy as a young man, and by the time he had reached his fortieth year he was able to raise entire graveyards of corpses to do his bidding. 
  • Krell - Krell was a mighty Chaos Champion in the days before the birth of Sigmar, the ruler of a barbarian tribe that had been corrupted by the Chaos God Khorne. Krell carved out an empire amongst the barbarian tribes of the north and then turned against the Dwarfs to the south. He allied with the Night Goblins that stormed the Dwarf strongholds of Karak Ungor and Karak Varn, and his name is recorded many times in the Great Book of Grudges, though he was eventually slain by the Dwarf hero, Grimbul Ironhelm, during the assault on Karak Kadrin. 

Sources

  • 1:Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (8th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 3
    • 1b: pg. 5
    • 1c: pg. 6 - 7
    • 1d: pg. 9 - 18
    • 1e: pg. 19 - 21
    • 1f: pg. 25
    • 1g: pg. 26
    • 1h: pg. 27
    • 1i: pg. 28
    • 1j: pg. 29
    • 1k: pg. 30
    • 1l: pg. 31
    • 1m: pg. 32
    • 1n: pg. 33
    • 1o: pg. 34
    • 1p: pg. 35
    • 1q: pg. 36
    • 1r: pg. 37
    • 1s: pg. 38
    • 1t: pg. 39
    • 1u: pg. 40
    • 1v: pg. 41
    • 1w: pg. 42
    • 1x: pg. 43
    • 1y: pg. 44
  • 2:Night's Dark Masters (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
    • 2a: pg. 74 - 75
    • 2b: pg. 76 - 78
    • 2c: pg. 79
    • 2d: pg. 80
    • 2e: pg. 82
    • 2f: pg. 87
    • 2g: pg. 21
    • 2h: pg. 8
  • 3:Old World Beastiary (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
    • 3a: pg. 70 - 72
  • 4:Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (7th Edition)
    • 4a: pg. 3
    • 4b: pg. 6
    • 4c: pg. 7
    • 4d: pg. 8
    • 4e: pg. 10 - 18
    • 4f: pg. 20 - 22
    • 4g: pg. 24 - 25
    • 4h: pg. 26
    • 4i: pg. 27
    • 4j: pg. 28
    • 4k: pg. 29
    • 4l: pg. 34 - 35
    • 4m: pg. 36
    • 4n: pg. 37
    • 4o: pg. 38
  • 5:Liber Nectris (Background Book)
    • 5a: Backcover
  • 6: The Empire at War
    • 6a: pg. 28
  • Gotrek and Felix: Vampireslayer (Novel) by William King
  • Dominion (Novel) by Steven Saville
  • Retribution (Novel) by Steven Saville
  • Inheritance (Novel) by Steven Savile
  • Vampire Wars (Omnibus Novel) by Steven Savile
  • Warhammer: Mordheim Rulebook
  • Warhammer Armies: Undead (4th Edition)

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