Warhammer Retrospect: A tribute to an Epic Game Series
"The Old World. A dark and grim place filled with peril and riven by war. From the teeming cities of the Empire to the Elf haunted forests to the lofty crags of the Worlds' Edge mountains where Dwarfs battle with Goblins and their vile kin, a shadow hangs over the world, cast by the dark corrupting hand of Chaos. All along its borders, the Old World's greatest nation, the Empire, seeks to hold back the dark tide. But even within the Empire there are enemies. Twisted cultists seek to bring about the Empire's fall, cold-hearted Beastmen stalk the forests, and loathsome Skaven ratmen spread plague and sickness from their suburban lairs.
"In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, you are unlikely heroes in a grim world of perilous adventure. You venture into the dark corners of the Empire and deal with the threats that others cannot or will not face. You'll probably die alone in some festering hellhole, but maybe, just maybe, you'll survive foul Mutants, horrible diseases, insidious plots, and sanity-blasting rituals to reap Fate's rewards.
"Welcome to the roleplaying game of the Warhammer World... Death and glory await!"
(From the back cover of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rulebook, 2nd edition.)
You find yourself alone and lost in a dark forest, the path ahead can barely be seen as the daylight fades to a moonless night. You hear a soft footstep and then a gentle voice that calls out, “Come traveler, join me at my fire.” A wispy elven lass peeps out from behind a tree, her eyes glowing bright green under a cascade of long black hair that swirls around her as she turns to lead you to a small clearing.
Drawing your dagger you cautiously approach the camp only to find a cheery fire and the mouth watering smell of meat roasting. The elf waves you to sit and offers you a flask of a sweet mead. You hesitate until a slow grin spreads across her face and she takes a sip herself and then offers it to you again.
Relieved to find a warm spot and a friendly face, you sit down and accept the drink and food offered to you with many thanks. Curious about your hostess you inquire as to what business brings her to be out in these woods alone with the dangers of war all around.
Your question brings a wistful look to her eyes and she replies, “Peace traveler, I gladly offer you a safe place to pass the night in warmth and share with you a tale if you will hear it.”
“However, before you accept you should know that I am a Witch elf,” there is a pause as she takes a breath and continues. “ I have led great armies of Chaos against the Empire, killing them and sacking and burning their villages, towns and cities as we laid waste to the lands.”
Seeing your horrified look, she lays a comforting hand on your arm. “Peace. Yes, I am a Bride of Khaine, but you see I owe a great debt to a Dwarf….” Her words trail off and she pulls a small harp from the folds of her cloak and begins to pluck a melancholy tune.
With the night growing darker, the warmth of the fire and the lovely voice of of a beautiful, if deadly elf, how can you resist. So you make yourself comfortable and with another swig of mead, nod your head to acknowledge acceptance.
In a sing song voice that keeps time with the music she began, “This is the tale of the Tower of Neborhest as told to me by the Dwarf Clanorton, Clan Lord of Orton.”
Deep within the Marshes of Madness, where the conflict between the Dwarves and Greenskins had spread to the far corners. There was once a place that neither order nor chaos would dare venture near... Rising from a dense bank of perpetual fog, an ancient Mourkain tower of pure jet erupted from the sodden swamp, home to the Vampire Lord Neborhest and his undead minions.
The tower exuded all the foul menace of the concentrated evil of it's Necrarch master, and the area occupied a rare pocket of silence amid the cacophony of chirping frogs and buzzing insects from the myriad creatures which dwelled in the marshlands.
There came from Kilsev a brave party of friends, each swearing to slay the Lord Neborhest. Their leader was a solemn Warrior Priest bearing a great golden hammer, rightly called Vampires Bane. The magic bearers were a Bright Wizard named Azazen whose eternal fire blazed from his fingertips and the beautiful Elven Archmage, Tatja with her magical staff and glowing robes. Then there were the dwarves, Clanorton a fierce, great axe wielding, Ironbreaker, and finally Artss, an Engineer with a vast array of rifles, grenades and turrets tucked all about him.
After many days of travel they arrived late in the evening to the camp of Oathhold where they met the leader and rally master, Droki Redbeard, who when told of their quest offered these words of advice, "Manlings find it hard t' get along while they're alive. I reckon it's not hard to believe they'd behave the same when dead. That monster in the tower seems t' be deep in conflict with that mess o' skeletons to the south. Something we might use to our advantage. Strike them both while they're distracted!"
Exhausted from their journey and grateful for the welcome fires of the camp, the party bedded down for the night and awoke at first light to Droki calling them to break fast with his company of miners.
After a hearty meal the party gathered their belongings and readied themselves for wading the murky paths through the swamp to reach the heart of the marshes, where the long forgotten ruins of an ancient cursed empire lie and there the Tower of Neborhest and it’s corrupt Vampire Lord.
It was a weary journey with intermittent attacks from wolves, but finally the party came upon a clearing. Before them was a sickening sight, Thorgrim's elite Oathbearer regiment, a brave company that had decided to do an expedition across the Marshes in an attempt to regain control of the Eight Peaks. All fifty dwarves were slaughtered in battle and their remains were being feasted upon by hordes of undead.
The gruesome scene and horrific smell briefly halted the party until the soulless feeders turned their attention to the living and started to advance. Gathering the grudges from the slain dwarves as they fought through a seemingly endless assault, they battled their way forward with hammer, spells, axe and bullets.
Azazen and Tatja called upon their magic, killing dozens with fiery blasts and mystical flicks of their hands. Artss’ rifle weaved back and forth, firing shot after shot, all the while covering Clanorton’s flanks as the Ironbreaker decapitated each foe with a swing of his great axe. Their leader, full of Righteous Indignation, crumbled the undead army before him with every stroke of his hammer.
When they reached the foot of the tower suddenly the attack ceased and the undead receded. A wild laugh broke the silence, followed by a call, “Come brave adventurers, enter my lair, for you shall serve me. Be it in life or in death, it is your choice.” As the voice faded, a door swung wide revealing a gaping black hole that lead into the tower.
Cautiously they stepped inside and as their eyes adjusted to the dim light, they saw before them a gaunt and dusty man who they recognized as the long missing Witch Hunter, Mattias Von Jaeger. He swept off his hat and bowed at them, saying, “My Lord bids me to welcome you and offer you eternal life in his service.”
In answer for all, the Warrior Priest lifted his hammer and started a prayer to Sigmar. With each word that he spoke under his breath his weapon began to glow, then it became brighter, until the bottom room was aglow with his holy power. The whole tower shook when his first blow landed on the large central pillar with a resounding “No!”
With a terrible screech as the pillar crumbled, Mattias pointed a finger at the party and suddenly they were being attacked by skeletons. While the others laid waste to the bone army, the Priest focused on the undead Witch Hunter until finally he landed a mighty blow that knocked him to the ground. Before their eyes the once great man decayed, then turned to dust leaving only a large silver charm on the floor.
At the back of the room they found stairs leading up, so they followed them to the next landing above. There they were surprised to find Norrison, the Captain of the slain Oathbearers standing in the center of the room next to another pillar and surrounded by giant swooping bats. The Captain's deep voice bellowed, “Join us or die!”
Azazen and Tatja fought the bats with magic blasts as the others battled their former ally, Norrison, who even in death was a skillful warrior. There were dead bats everywhere when they finally overwhelmed and defeated the Captain. Again, the Priest charged his hammer and struck the center pillar so hard that it crumbled, and the tower shook once more and a side door opened to reveal another stairway leading up.
They climbed the stairs, brushing through webs and then fighting off the giant spiders that attacked them when their webs were broken. At the next landing they found yet another pillar and waiting beside it was the great Orc Chieftain, Dork Redeye, now an undead Hero. With a loud grunt, Dork charged at them swinging.
The Orc fought furiously and with his wild blows he managed to land blows that injured each one of the party. With a nod from Clanorton, he broke away from the group as a distraction. It was just enough to give Azazen and Tatja time to weave a powerful spell together and with one great fiery blast the orc was incinerated and his ashes puffed out, then scattered to the floor.
The group rested and regrouped a few minutes as Vampires Bane healed their wounds. This time when the Priest charged his hammer and smashed the last pillar, there came a terrible scream of pain from above. Then complete silence descended on them as they made their way to the last stairs leading up to their final battle.
They climbed the steep stairs upwards to the top of the tower without any more attacks. When they reached the doorway they were greeted by an old but powerful voice, “Welcome brave adventures, throw down your arms so you can join me at last.”
In slow motion Clanorton, then Azazen, then Artts and finally Tatja laid down their weapons. However Vampires Bane just bowed his head with a quick prayer to Sigmar he smashed the head of his hammer to the floor and the others came back to their senses with renewed strength and they grabbed their weapons.
“I see that you have made your choice fools, now you will serve me in DEATH!” And out of the shadows stepped the rotted skeletal remains of an ancient Lord, Neborhest. Clad in tattered black robes then covered with pitted armor, around his waist hung skulls and bones and he was wielding a foul black sword, the runes glowing a poisonous green in the dusty gloom.
With a wild cry the Lord raised his sword and lunged at the group. Clanorton stepped up to block his first attack and was thrown across the room. Neborhest turned on Tatja next and before she could utter a spell, she too was swept aside.
Azazen was able to blast him with a fireball as Artss hit him with a close up blunderbuss attack, before both of them were knocked down. Just as Neborhest raised his sword to kill them, Vampires Bane, his hammer charged and glowing with Sigmar’s blessing, delivered a mighty blow that staggered him while Clanorton used his axe to slash behind his knees.
Screaming the Lord fell to the floor and Vampires Bane brought his hammer down upon his chest crushing the ancient bones beneath his armor. When he tried to rise again he was hit with spells from Azazen and Tatja that set him afire, then he was blasted by Artss’ rifle just before Clanorton, with a mighty swing of his axe, beheaded the Vampire.
An empty voice whispered “Vengeance!” as the Warrior Priest chanted a loud prayer to Sigmar damning him to the endless void and with one great blow, crushed his skull and they all watched as the remains of the Lord crumbled to dust.
As her voice trails off you look around and notice that night has fully descended and the fire has died down to hot coals, the air is chilly and you hear a howl in the distance. You wrap your cloak tighter and throw more wood on the dying fire.
Glancing up at your hostess, you see her staring off into the dark, then slowly she turns towards you and sets aside her harp. Curiously you inquire how she came upon this story. Silently she pulls off her bracers to show you deep red scars on her wrist, then removing her boots, she reveals more fresh scars on her ankles.
“I too went to that tower to fight Neborhest, however in my arrogance I went alone.” With a heavy sigh, she continues, “I was able to cloak myself and while invisible make my way to the very top of the tower without a fight. That was my mistake, and instead of taking on one monster at a time, I had to deal with Mattias, Norrison, Dork and Neborhest all at once.”
“I was outnumbered, and though I put up a fierce fight, in the end I was captured and then chained up when their party arrived. Helplessly I listened as they fought their way up the tower and watched as they fought, then destroyed the Lord.”
“I do not know what would have become of me if they had not arrived. I do know that when the party found me in the room after they had slain Neborhest, they were ready to kill me on the spot, all but for one dwarf, Clanorton. He stepped in front of me and released my shackles, then helped me to descend to the lowest room of the tower.”
“The others would not come near me, but he told me this story as he healed my wounds as best he could.” she paused again. “Because of his kindness I am alive and free to travel back to my own lands.”
“Soon enough I will rejoin the war, but for now traveler, I have put away my daggers and offer shelter to those I find in need along the way…..”
This article is a compilation of the introduction from and a story about the Roleplaying version of Warhammer that is wrapped around a story written about one of the the Public Quests in the MMO, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Special thanks to Clanorton for his invaluable contributions…. Now I am off to find my dice
About the Author
Aoibheann (pronounced Ae-veen) is an Irish American Artist.
As a Photographer and Writer her work has been featured in Gaiscoich Magazine, Biker Magazine, Sun City Bikers, Ruidoso News, The Ruidoso Free Press, KEDU Radio, the Society for Creative Anachronism, BetterPhoto.com, Juicy Skin Calendar, as well as various other publications for the U.S. military and her colleges.
When she’s not traveling the world and taking pictures, you can find her interviewing interesting people, writing whimsical stories and articles, gaming in GW2, playing guitar, reading her favorite books, or out dancing in the rain.
Owner of Rogue Photos, you can view her photography work at http://roguephotos.virb.com/