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"From dark place I came, and to darker places still I travel, dear heart. Wyrm-midden and filth my crib; man-flesh and dead-thing my down. To the coast of far away land I sailed, to delve in dusty place. Not for glimmer, nor spark, but for Lizard-wyrd parchment and age-crusted name.
Secrets and lies, from the birth of time, so all that is hidden be mine, my dear.
Slime-thing lovers call sailors to salty death in my name. With a touch, he rises once more, brine-blood vigor her delight. Her kiss is clammy little death. Her song calls men from every land, and my servants walk the land of swamp, doing death for all time.
"
—Arch Grand Commadore Luthor Harkon[3a]
Luthor Harkon Fleet1

The Zombie Pirates of the Vampire Coast

The Zombie Pirates of the Vampire Coast are one of the biggest persistent threats faced by the Lizardmen Empire of Lustria to this day. Vampire Lord Luthor Harkon has plagued the eastern regions of the continent for centuries, and his sacking of the temple-city of Axotl has made the eradication of his realm of utmost importance to the Slann Mage-Priests. With the coming of the new races to Lustria, Harkon has hatched a scheme, no matter the consequences of invasion. He has dispatched emissaries to the more black-hearted invaders, messengers bearing gifts - gilded, ebony skulls containing the power to call forth Harkon's servants. With these allies the invaders further Harkon's power with every battle.[1b]

History

In 876 I.C., the Vampire Luthor Harkon arrives on the shores of Lustria and used his dark arts to raise the corpses of drowned seamen. He established his own empire of the unliving, which comes to be known as the Vampire Coast.[3a]

By 930, Lord Xltep of Itxa tired of the presence of the unnatural occupants of the Vampire Coast as Harkon attempted to expand his realm into the interior. The Mage-Priest ordered his cohorts to march against the Undead and comprehensively defeated Luthor Harkon’s horde at the Battle of the Eclipse.[3a]

Decades later, in 1011, Luthor Harkon thirsted for vengeance against the Lizardmen and so orchestrated a dread enchantment to draw vessels sailing the Great Ocean off course with its siren-wail to be shipwrecked on the Vampire Coast. Over the course of several centuries, he amasses a sizeable horde of Undead warriors by reanimating the corpses of his victims.[3a]

In 1127, Harkon dispatched his Undead warriors aboard the decaying hulks of shipwrecked vessels. The so-called Zombie Pirates of the Vampire Coast struck fear into already superstitious mariners across the oceans of the world and brought yet more victims back to join Harkon’s armies.[3a]

In 1351, Harkon mobilized a vast horde of Zombie Pirates and marches out of the fetid swamps of the Vampire Coast. The host was enveloped by a dank, stinking mist that seemed to creep along as the Undead advanced. Despite heroic rear-guard actions by desperate Skink sentinels, the horde fell upon the temple-city of Axlotl, slaughters its defenders, and cast it down so completely that it is said that no stone now stands upon another. Though the Skink Priests evacuated the most precious of artifacts, Harkon returns to his lair with countless items of arcane power.[3a]

Characteristics

Zombie Pirates

Zombie Pirates attacking the Lizardmen

Having risen from all manner of watery graves, every member of the army can move over marshes, rivers, lakes, or any other water features without any issue and will benefit from soft cover while in such terrain.[2a]

The pirates of the Vampire Coast carry a large assortment of black powder weapons, ranging from pistols to Great Cannon – not a normal sight in the retinues of more traditionally minded (and less clinically insane) Vampire Counts. Though Zombies are not normally known for their ability to shoot straight (or at all), Harkon long ago wove an enchantment that allows them to do just that. However, even the misused magics of the Slann have a hard time making soggy and waterlogged black powder weapons discharge with any reliability.[2a]

Military

Characters

  • Vampire Fleet Captain: Harkon’s captains or “shipwights” are all carefully animated from the mariners that he captures. Given the Arch Grand Commodore’s whimsical nature, they tend to be bloodthirsty souls whose grasp on rational thought is a little less than solid.[2c]
  • Syreen: Tales speak of the Syreens that lure mariners to their doom on the rocks along the Vampire Coast. These wretched creatures are much akin to the Banshees of the Old World and are as feared on dry land as they are on the seas.[2c]

Infantry

  • Zombie Pirate Deckhands Mob: Festooned with all manner of rusty and corroded weaponry, Zombie Pirates make up the bulk of Harkon’s damned followers. Unlike most reanimated vassals, some vicious spark of personality resides deep within the rotten souls of the Deckhands, making them all the more formidable in combat.[2d]
  • Zombie Pirate Gunnery Mob: Though their weapons are rusted and sodden, many of Harkon’s Undead Pirates cling to the guns they held so dearly in life. Wielding a shabby collection of black powder weapons long past their best, the Zombies of the Gunnery Mob still gain a small spark of the satisfaction they enjoyed in life through the random discharge of noisy, indiscriminate firepower.[2d]
  • Bloated Corpse: Some cadavers lurch from the sea swollen with noxious gases and liquefying tissues seeping from rotten and tattered skin. It is preferable by far to fight such a creature at a distance, for when slain, their tortured forms disintegrate in a poisonous shower of decomposing internal organs and diseased fluids.[2e]
  • Animated Hulks: Not all mariners are of human stature and girth. Indeed, many Ogres take passage aboard ocean-going vessels in search of money or food. Thus, not all of Harkon’s eternal indentured servants are man-sized, though for some reason the reanimation process often yields more unpredictable results.[2g]
  • Deck Gunners: Dead or alive, all pirates love guns, and the bigger they are, the better. Though the barrels be corroded and the aim of the gunners be poor (arrr!), the sheer power and range of Harkon’s swivel gunners command respect from his foes.[2g]
  • Depth Guard: The Depth Guard are the elite vampiric infantry of the Vampire Coast. Blood Knight warriors one and all, they are hand-picked by their masters and given the Blood Kiss, rather than being simply raised from the drowned rabble. Clad in eldritch armour, they are an unstoppable force on the field of battle, unrelenting in their advance.[4]

Warbeasts

  • Scurvy Dogs: Many Pirate settlements are filthy dives of scum and villainy, infested with all manner of vermin and wild dogs, many of which are pitied by drunken pirates and brought aboard ship as affectionate, if somewhat noisome pets. Many such dogs serve their masters beyond the death of both. These dogs are less affectionate and much more noisome.[2e]
  • Razortooth Rats: Most rats abandon a sinking ship, but the cadaverous rodents that scuttle about the bilges of Harkon’s fleet are more than content to forsake their vessel even before it has foundered. Razortooth Rats are driven by an undying hunger for the flesh of the living.[2f]
  • Deck Droppers: Fell Bats hang from the topmost spars high in the rigging of Harkon’s pirate fleet and lie dormant until the coppery tang of blood fills the air. When battle rages, the bats dive among the combatants and carry a vicious (though somewhat disoriented) Zombie Pirate in their sharp talons.[2f]
  • Rotting Leviathan: There are many great and wondrous creatures in the seas of the Old World. From the Sea Dragons and Kraken of the Great Ocean, to the crab-like Prometheans of the Lustrian coastline, the sea’s bounty is truly as varied as that of land-going life. Not that Harkon cares much about either. He waits until they’re dead and infinitely more controllable.[2h]

Artillery

  • Carronade: Many of the ships in the Vampire fleet carry small bore, short-barreled cannons, known as carronades or smashers. Though their power pales by comparison to that of Imperial Great Cannon, it can still wipe out whole files of foes in a single shot.[2g]
  • Queen Bess: This enormous and oft-repaired monstrosity is Harkon’s pride and joy. The exact heritage of Queen Bess is uncertain but, from the reports that have reached the Colleges of Nuln, it is likely to have begun life as nothing less than a Hell-Hammer Cannon! It has since been much “refined” and “improved” by Harkon (in one of his more than usually lucid moments) and reduced in size somewhat. Even so, the Queen Bess remains one of the most powerful pieces of black powder artillery ever to grace the shores of Lustria.[2h]

Booty of the Vampire Coast

Gallery

Source

  • 1: White Dwarf Issue 305
    • 1a: pg. 27
  • 2: White Dwarf Issue 306
    • 2a: pg. 62
    • 2b: pg. 64
    • 2c: pg. 65
    • 2d: pg. 66
    • 2e: pg. 67
    • 2f: pg. 68
    • 2g: pg. 69
    • 2h: pg. 70
  • 3: Conquest of the New World (Expansion)
    • 3a: pg. 4
    • 3b: pg. 6
  • 4: Total War Warhammer II: Curse of the Vampire Coast