Warhammer has a rich history that stretches back 25 years beginning with Warhammer Fantasy Battle, a tabletop miniature wargame. Since its creation, Warhammer Fantasy Battle has spawned novels, board games, video games, and a sister universe, the science fiction based Warhammer 40K. All of these things gave Mythic a truly vast library of information to pull from to create Warhammer Online as it is now, and add to it in the future. With the launch of WAR just over a month away it’s a great time to examine the lore of Warhammer. In the first of a series of articles, I’ll take a look at the lore behind the Warhammer setting as it relates to WAR, beginning with the Armies of WAR.
The Armies of Order
Sigmar Heldenhammer unified primitive human tribes into the Empire thousands of years ago. He served as its first emperor for fifty years before venturing off to pass over the World’s Edge Mountains. Sigmar was never seen again. It was not long before Sigmar was acclaimed as a god, thanks in no small part to visible answers to the prayers of his followers. While the Empire is polytheistic, Sigmar has become its most important god.
Left divided following the War of the Three Emperors, the forces of Chaos began a campaign to conquer the world. A man named Magnus Von Bildhofen emerges to unify the battered Empire and defeat the Chaos armies. Following his crusade, Magnus, now known as Magnus the Pious, is elected Emperor and revitalizes the Empire. His successor, Wilhelm Holswig-Schliestein, is an ancestor to Emperor Karl Franz; ruler of the Empire during the time period WAR takes place.
Patron god of the Dwarfs, Grungi, forged powerful, magical armor and weapons and created runes to imbue talismans and armor with additional protection. He taught the Dwarfs to create armor, weapons, and runes as well. Due to Grungi’s teachings, Dwarfs would emerge as some of the greatest, if not the greatest, craftsmen in the Old World.
Dwarfs eventually encountered the High Elves and for a while the two races had an amicable relationship. Dark Elf warriors attacked a Dwarf caravan and, because fighting between kin was incomprehensible to Dwarfs, High King Gortek Starbreaker sent an envoy to obtain an apology from the High Elves. The envoy threatened High Elf ruler Phoenix King Caledor II and as a result he was sent back with neither an apology, nor his beard. This event sparked the War of Vengeance or, the War of the Beard, as the High Elves would call it.
The war left both the High Elves and the Dwarfs in a state of decline. In their weakened state the Dwarfs were unable to hold back the Greenskin, Skaven, and Beastmen hordes that would eventually overrun much of the Old World. It would be two millennia before the invading armies were beaten back, yet still not fully exterminated.
In WAR, the Dwarfs, lead by High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer, are still in decline.
On their home island of Ulthuan, High Elves were constructing grandiose cities, charting stars and studying magic while men were still primitives. The lives of High Elves were that of leisure until the Chaos hordes began marching. With weapons meant only for hunting, the High Elves were at a severe disadvantage until Aenarion, as the avatar of Asuryan, single-handedly defeated the Chaos army. Following the battle, the High Elves would raise a grand army that would see many wars, including a civil war and the War of the Beard with the Dwarfs. The many conflicts the High Elves have fought have left them weakened.
Thanks to their incredibly long life spans, nearly 2500 years, High Elves have an enormous amount of time to sharpen their skills at whatever they see fit. As a result Ulthuan has produced some of the most powerful mages, warriors, and craftsmen the world has seen.
The armies of destruction are on the march, forcing current ruler of the High Elves, Phoenix King Sinubar the Seafarer, to send his armies to fight along side the forces of The Empire and, reluctantly, the Dwarfs.
The Armies of Destruction
In the northern part of the Old World known as the Chaos Wastes, barbaric, tribal humans inhabit the region. Three races comprise these Northmen, the Norse, Kurgan, and Hung, and each race is comprised of many tribes. These tribal humans rally to war behind Champions to carry out the vile biddings of their deities, the greatest of which are, Khorne, Tzeentch, Nurgle, and Slaanesh. While typically opposed to one another the tribes occasionally band together as Chaos Undivided to wreak havoc upon the world.
In WAR, Tzeentch, god of manipulation and lies, has called forth Tchar’zanek to lead his warhost against the Empire. The Champion Tchar’zanek is the Chosen of Tzeentch and has conquered many tribes who now fight in his warhost.
WAAAAGH! The Greenskins are comprised of Orcs and Goblins. Orc are big, stupid, mean and born for war. Goblins, due to their lower strength and smaller size, had to become smarter and more cunning than Orcs. Greenskins are tribal by nature and are lead by the strongest of the bunch. Occasionally many tribes will be brought under the same banner to form a band of bloodthirsty raiders known as a “Waaagh!”. Aided by their twin gods, Mork and Gork, who have been known to physically step on their enemies, a Greenskin Waaagh! is a powerful force to be reckoned with.
Greenskin players are members of the Bloody Sun Boyz. Black Orc Grumlok and Goblin Shaman Gazbag lead the Bloody Sun Boyz to WAAAGH! with their old enemies the Dwarfs.
High Elf Phoenix King Aenarion’s son, Malekith, was denied ascension to Phoenix King following the death of his father by the Council of Princes. Malekith was made High General and wandered the world and experimented with Dark Magic. The Cult of Pleasure became a front of a cult of Slaanesh and Malekith promptly lead an investigation. Malekith used his powers as investigator and made false claims that his enemies were worshippers of Slaanesh. After Phoenix King Bel-Shanaar died of poisoning, Malekith was accused of assassination by the Council of Princes. Malekith and his followered killed many of the Princes. With his enemies out of the way Malekith only had to pass through the Sacred Fire of Asuryan to become the Phoenix King. Malekith was badly burned by the flame. Malekith’s followers fled with their leader to Nagarythe for treatment for their leader.
According to the High Elves, Malekith went insane. Though his body was healed, it would not survive the strain of battle. He commissioned an armorsmith to create a suit of armor fused directly to his body, the suit granted Malekith great power. He became known as the Witch King. The Witch King became bent on taking the throne of the Phoenix King.
In WAR, Dark Elf players are lead by a noble of Naggaroth, Lord Uthorin. Lord Uthorin wishes to claim Malekith’s throne.