Intro into WARHAMMER LORE
So I'm well aware many people here have little or no idea what Warhammer is, at the same time I know a LOT of Total War fans are Warhammer fans. But to you new guys, I decided to write this intro to the main lore, and of the races/factions presented in the trailer.
Also I've noticed some people confused as to "where are the Space Marines?" Games Workshop owns two main IP's: Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. This is Warhammer which is a fantasy setting, while it's brother is a sci-fi setting. Also no, Warhammer 40,000 is not the Warhammer fantasy setting in the future.
Hope you Enjoy, and just a heads up. This is REALLY scratching the surface.
The Old World, European Inspired Continent basically
- Origin of the World
- The Empire
- The Dwarfs
- The Orcs and Goblins
- The Vampire Counts
- The Warriors of Chaos (seemingly confirmed)
- Chaos: The Archenemy
- The Parody
ORIGIN of the World
The Warhammer world was originally a desolate world of ice and death where disturbing creatures resided. This all changed when a race of God-like beings called "The Old Ones" appeared and began to change the world. They brought it closer to the sun, they began the creation of entire races, and also began campaigns of genocide against races they deemed unfit for their "Grand Plan".
The power they commanded was spectacular, and they even traveled across different dimensions through the Gates they had established at the Poles of the world. Each of these was a portal to unknown realms which were all linked to the Empire of the Old Ones. However, the Old Ones were not to last. Whether they knew it or not they had been watched by sinister beings now known as the Chaos Gods.
A terrible catastrophe occurred and the Polar Gates collapsed, in their place the sheer stuff of Chaos poured into the world. The Old Ones vanished, whether they were taken by the Chaos Gods or fled the cataclysm is unknown. What is known is that the utopia they attempted to create was fully corrupted.
The stuff of Chaos is the source of all magic, taking the form of several winds that can be harnessed by those taught the art. However the taint of Chaos also causes mutation, madness, and possession by daemonic entities.
Mutants were spawned and daemons walked the world. This ancient time was dark and it cost many sacrifices of the ancient races (Elves, Dwarfs, and Lizardmen) to end the insanity and drive the chaos taint back to the poles where it resides to this day. Even so, mutants now haunt the wilds of the world and entire races have been corrupted by this disaster, including man.
The Collapse of the Polar Gates and the corruption of the world
The Empire (Humans)
In the ancient times the Empire was made up of warring barbarian tribes. They constantly bickered amongst one another, and with the Orcs. It was when a twin-tailed comet flew across the sky that a child was born that would change their destiny. His name was Sigmar.
Sigmar led a remarkable life. A barbarian king who was cunning, intelligent, honourable and fearless. He fought many wars against the Orcs, and knew if the tribes were to survive they would have to unite. Sigmar saved the life of the Dwarf high king, named Kurgan Ironbeard, who pledged his friendship to the barbarian, and presented him with his rune-inscribed Warhammer called Ghal-Maraz. Sigmar then went to unite the tribes, thus was the early Empire born.
Together the fledgling Empire and the Dwarfs made a stand against a vast ocean of Orc warriors at the battle of Blackfire Pass. The casualties were horrifying but the humans and dwarfs crushed the Orcs and drove them from the land. To the tribes of the Empire Sigmar ascended as a God in their pantheon, as well as Emperor. To the Dwarfs he became an eternal friend. In his later years, weary of politics, Sigmar left the Empire and wandered into the east, leaving Ghal-Maraz behind. Some believe he went to see his old friend, Kurgan Ironbeard, what is known is that he was never seen again.
Thousands of years have passed since then and the Empire has had many Emperors. Though none could match the legend of their founder, some like Magnus the Pious and Karl Franz have became famous and heroic leaders of men.
The Empire is a very militaristic society, they have hardened armies of disciplined soldiers, armed with a multitude of weapons and war machines. They have crushed Orc hordes, Undead and Skaven invasions, and have even held back the Storm of Chaos. They are the strongest realm of men in the world, and many believe it is on the shoulders of the Empire that the fate of the world resides.
Imperial State Troops
One of the oldest races, alongside Elves, the Dwarfs are a proud and stubborn people who have endured many hardships. Originally content with a life of mining and crafting the Dwarfs became embroiled in the first Invasion of Chaos, when the Polar Gates collapsed and helped the Elves drive back the daemonic hordes
Superior craftsmen and intellectuals, Dwarfs invented guns, cannons, war machines and other things that make even the most sophisticated race seem primitive by comparison. They lacked however in the ability to control magic, instead having an immunity to it's warping effects. Indeed Dwarfs are greatly resilient in general, their dense bones, muscles and compact frames make them astonishingly tough, like boulders.
Though they controlled a marvellous Empire when humans were but half-naked primitives, this was all gradually lost. First came the war against the Elves called the war of the beard. When Elven diplomats shaved and insulted Dwarf emissaries who were investigating atrocities committed to their people. To a Dwarf the beard is a status symbol: the longer a beard, the older and more venerable the Dwarf. Shaving a beard is practically outlawed in their society. Thus this insult, and other Elven atrocities were enough to commit them to war.
The Dwarfs ultimately won when the Elves had to flee to their island homeland, due to an emerging civil war. However, the cost in lives was high, and the Dwarf Empire would not be given enough time to heal. For this is when hordes of Orcs, Goblins and Skaven emerged, and ransacked the battered Dwarf Empire.
Now the Dwarfs are a shadow of their former might, residing in the last remaining holds of their people. They are still proud, and bear eternal grudges against those that have wronged them.
The Orcs and Goblins
Orcs and Goblins are sub-species of the "Greenskin" race which also includes: Snotlings, Black Orcs, and Gnoblars to name a few. Though they were around since the time of the Old Ones, it seems they became a grave threat only after the War of the Beard. Up until then their numbers had frequently been culled, but with the disappearance of the Old Ones, and the break-up between Elves and Dwarfs their population exploded.
Orcs are a race truly built for war. Though the average Orc stands around the height of a man, they would tower over humans if they only stood upright rather than in their stooped posture. They are immensely broad and solid, thick bones and dense muscle making up their frames. To an Orc there is no joy greater than that of battle, and violence is a daily part of Orc life. They are a race of brutes who live to kill. The best thing an Orc can gain is a really good fight.
Orcs are led by leaders called "big bosses" or "war bosses", these Orcs are towering brutes that make their brethren look like runts by comparison. For in a culture of bullies naturally the biggest and strongest bully will dominate the others. The only way to become Warboss is to kill the current Warboss in a straight up fight to the death. Luckily for Orcs they grow constantly through their lives and eventually one will become big and tough enough to challenge the current leader.
Goblins are diminutive and frail in every sense compared to an Orc. They make up for this by having vast numbers and low-cunning. Often used as slaves, Goblins nonetheless fulfill an important role in Greenskin society. They craft weapons, gather food and establish the huts and homes. Orcs are too thick and lazy to be counted on anything other than fighting, so the relationship is mutual. Orcs gain equipment and food, Goblins gain bodyguards (who may or may not occasionally eat them).
There have been many infamous Orc Warboss' in the annals of history. Some who have led massive armies of their kind, called WAAAGH's, which are strong enough to have the Empire alarmed. Such legendary individuals include Gorbad Ironclaw and Azhag the Slaughterer. Young Orcs are often told mythical tales of these warriors who bloodied the other races in spectacular fights.
The Vampire Counts
Their origins in the far off land of Nehekara. the Vampires were born when the death-obsessed Humans of that land created an elixir to gain immortality. They became the first Vampires, the price they paid was their hunger for blood. Most were killed, being seen as abominations, the last survivors being forced to flee to other lands.
In the Old World, there are many Vampires. Some hide in plain sight, others are loners who live in secluded castles and manors. All have the power to raise the dead, and all are seen as monsters. It wasn't until Vlad Von Carstien that the Vampires became a serious threat. Vlad had a dream of ruling the Empire and making it a utopia for his kind, keeping humans as cattle and having legions of undead as footsoldiers. Thus he began the Vampire wars which saw tens of thousands of undead rise to serve their Vampire overlords.
Though the Undead were eventually defeated many Vampire lords with the same ambitions as Vlad remain, gaining power, and using their intellect and supernatural abilities to meddle in the affairs or mortals. The dream of an Undead utopia still living on in their thoughts.
The Warriors of Chaos
The power of Chaos always had a profound effect on humans, and though most are terrified of it, others venerate it. There are some humans in the civilized lands that will devote themselves to the cause of Chaos. But the true threat lies with the Chaos tribes in the far north.
From the lands of Norsca, to the Kurgan and Hung steppes. There dwell countless tribes of human barbarians. They live under the shadow of the northern polar gate, in a land rife with the taint of Chaos. To these men the Chaos Gods are part of their mythology, their creed, their faith. And most give their lives to serving the Dark Gods.
Comparing a man of the north to men of the civilized lands is like comparing a wolf to a dog. Battle and conquest are a daily part of barbarian life. Slavery and death are all that await the losers. Glory and the blessings of the Gods await the victors.
Though they often march in hordes of barbarian warbands these groups are always led by towering Chaos Champions and their armoured brethren simply called the Warriors of Chaos. To be a warrior of Chaos one must leave his humanity behind, to venture to the forges of the Chaos Dwarfs and to earn a suit of Chaos armour. Once this armour is worn it cannot be removed and thus the person that once was becomes a simple tool in the arsenal of the Chaos hordes. They do not tire, they do not hunger, they only crave conquest and war.
The ultimate goal of each mortal dedicated to Chaos is to attain immortality by ascending to the rank of a Daemon Prince. This is a miraculously rare occurrence. Most mortals will die in battle, others will mutate into fleshy abominations called Chaos Spawn. But those that ascend become demi-gods who no longer fear death, and are worshiped by the very tribes they may have once hailed from.
Ultimately the only way to do this is to gain the attention of the Gods and to impress them. This often leads great Chaos Lords to invade the lands of the south where their might may stand out, and the races of the south have fought many bitter wars with the northmen as a result.
Engra Deathsword, Champion of Chaos Undivided
CHAOS: The Archenemy
The Realm of the Gods (Also known as the Warp, the Maelstrom, the Sea of Souls, and many other names) is where the nightmare mirrors of all emotion and imagination reside. When a Human feels anger this emotion seeps into the Realm of Chaos, where it gathers together. Eventually all these emotions began to awaken and sprout sentience. This resulted in the birth of gods that mirror human emotions and traits, but the most powerful emotions of humanity: Anger, Lust, Misery and Hope, created the Four Great Gods of Chaos. The heads of the pantheon, they are:
Khorne: The Blood God.
The first God to awaken was born by the very first rage-induced murder committed by some primal man in some forgotten time. Every time a person feels anger and hatred, every time blood has been spilled in the name of war, and heads taken in fury, the Dark God Khorne has grown in strength.
Considered the greatest of the Chaos Gods, Khorne is depicted as an armoured giant sitting upon a brass throne atop a mountain of skulls in the middle of a sea of blood. The brass formed by the armour of slain warriors, the skulls of victims and killers alike, and the blood of warriors spilled since the dawn of time. This is the Skull Throne.
His cries of rage echo across the multi-verse, his weapons can split reality and destroy civilizations. Though he is the God of sheer fury, Khorne is also the God of martial prowess and honour.
Men who dedicate themselves to Khorne are blood hungry warriors, madmen, or berserkers in the truest sense. Though most die violently in battle those who do truly horrific deeds of renown gain the attention of the Blood God, who gifts them with the mark of Khorne. Gifts of Khorne often include: insane fury and inhuman strength.
The Skull Throne
Nurgle: Lord of Decay
Nurgle is the god of death, disease, misery and fear. Born from the horror and agonies of those dying from illness. Often depicted as a massive bloated abomination, Nurgle works over a cauldron the size of an ocean where he brews plagues, diseases and malformations. He sends these diseases into the material world through his minions, be they human, or plague fly. Though some die out, others become epidemics, and it is during these such events that Nurgle truly engorges on power, waning again when illness fades.
Though a horrific god Nurgle also possesses a strange twist, for he sees those dying of plague as his children, and to him their laments are cries of joy. He also takes the most interest in his followers and cares a great deal about them. Thus is he also known as "Grandfather Nurgle" or simply "The Grandfather".
Men who dedicate themselves to Nurgle often do so out of fear of ever-encroaching death, sickness, or the failure of the body. These men are blighted with disease which they spread from village to village, selling the lives of others for their own selfish gains. In return they gain immunity from illness, and are numb to pain, though they become hideous beings carrying all manner of illness mirrored on their mortal frames.
The Great Unclean One, Greater Daemon of Nurgle
Slaanesh: The Prince of Excess
Slaanesh was born from the deepest and darkest desires of humanity. Lust, gluttony, ultimately excess in every form. Every perverse crave humanity has felt, every sick indulgence that is born, mirrors in the Prince of Pleasure.
Depicted as a radiant colossus, part male part female, it is said that were a human to look upon Slaanesh they would instantly fall in love and become the adoring slaves of this depraved creature. Though the weakest of the four, Slaanesh rises in power the comfier and more excessive humans become, thus do many believe that one day Slaanesh will bypass his brother gods and make the universe a hunting ground for insanely perverse.
Humans who turn to Slaanesh do so to earn the affection of other people, to gain adoring supporters, to attract flocks of their desired sex, and to simply partake in all the pleasures that life can offer. These beings ultimately become twisted and vile predators who slowly get bored of the things that once gave them pleasure and go to more extremes. Eventually they will become deranged, only the most vile acts giving them the joy they seek. Torture and murder foremost, and many people go missing only to be found gnarled and mutilated in the hidden chambers of Slaanesh's faithful.
Common gifts of Slaanesh result in fearlessness out of sheer arrogance, and unnatural beauty.
The Keeper of Secrets, Greater Daemon of Slaanesh
Tzeentch: The Changer of Ways
(the Daemons of Tzeentch were in the trailer)
Tzeentch is the God of Hope, trickery, manipulation, and magic. Perhaps brought into being by the constant scheming and plotting of men. Tzeentch is a creature of knowledge and foresight. It is said that every being living and dead play a role in the grand scheme of Tzeentch, what this scheme results in none can say, for Tzeentch is utterly unfathomable to mortals and gods alike.
Being the God of Change Tzeentch takes many forms: a vibrant serpent that changes scale pattern, an ever-mutating avian creature, mist and smoke that continuously change colour and shape, and so on.
Tzeentch is said to command the winds of magic, and ultimately he has dominion over all sorcerers. Thus, it is mainly sorcerers and mages that turn to him to earn great power. Lesser men may begin this trek by seeking to outwit their enemies, to secure their positions, to crush those they hate without having to raise a sword, to gain vast knowledge, or to simply become lords over other men.
Gifts of Tzeentch include the alteration of ones destiny, and the ability to use magic.
The Lord of Change, Greater Daemon of Tzeentch, mutating a mortal play-thing
Something that some people don't know is that Warhammer is a fantasy parody of ancient Earth. The guys who created the game were big history buffs and there are plenty of historical sources (both obvious and less well known) that exist in both Warhammer IP's.
The Empire is The Holy Roman Empire pretty much.
Bretonnia is like Feudal France/England/Europe.
Kislev is a mix of the Kievan Russ and the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth.
Albion is Celtic Britain.
The Mountains of Mourn are the Himalayas.
Norsca is... hmm... actually I'm not sure where the Norsemen could come from. Maybe they're Spanish? (sarcasm)
Even 40k has plenty of these. A small one that I love is: on the Ultramarines homeworld of Macragge the Northern Macraggians are called Illyrians and they were pirates and bandits. *wink*
If you wish to actually get into the Warhammer universe I can recommend checking the novels from Black Library (they write all the books for Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000). A great place to start (in my opinion) would be with Gotrek and Felix, they are a legendary duo in Warhammer and travel the entire world.
-- So now that you know a bit more, perhaps you may understand it all a bit better. --
Check out Lexicanum or Warhammerfb wiki. They both have solid catalogues of the lore, though the latter seems better for the fantasy universe.
So I hope you enjoyed the read