Backroom politics

Posted by  | Saturday, September 19, 2020  at 3:52 AM  

Musing the nature of secret deals, I spent some time this week reorganising my collection. This presents so much temptation to gush about collecting Citadel miniatures, perhaps mentioning a few of my own backroom deals. Trades done to acquire rare items. Resin, plastic, lead or white metal to pursue conversion projects or simply round out some of my favourite sculpts from across the years to represent the Mordheim and Marienburg personalities.

What I need to be doing right now is updating links for sharing player aids. A lot of the Mutiny in Marienburg files being circulated currently are years out of date, been hijacked by third party writers who I spent no collaborative time with, or were left incomplete. Recently I have updated the campaign again during the global pandemic by referring to all of my unedited campaign notes. I made so many notes! I mean, a lot! Living lockdown life like a druidic cave hermit means this is the perfect time to get organised. One of the major breakthroughs was my collaboration with Nuno Martins on the Boatyard! Our player guide completes the Marketplace chapter by proposing some intense modelling opportunities.
What follows is a list of confirmed chapters with links to my Google Drive. The first section is devoted to background information. I am setting this part out still so most links won't be active yet. You don't need it to play MiM campaigns! The 'fluff' section is largely based on collating relevant content in the form of knowledge gained from every published source. It provides motives, commissions and scams to provide inspiration. Since I have been enjoying messing around with the Gazetteer this month, I may as well include a preview for that. The rest is the stuff you need to play. You will also need access to a copy of the Mordeim Rulebook, Empire in Flames, Border Town Burning and the Mordheim Annual. Remember all of these can be resourced online by visiting somewhere like Broheim.

An Epic Maritime Adventure Setting for Mordheim
01. Greatest Port in the Old World
02. City of Secret Deals
03. The Grand Sewer Network, Canals & Districts
04. An Almanac of Marienburg Crime
05. A Gazetteer of the Wasteland Country
06. Imperial Calendar Guide

Maritime Campaigns
07. Epic Campaign Rules
08. Unknowable Cargo
09. Adventure Seeds
10. Core Scenarios / Special Scenarios 12-13 / Special Scenarios 15-18
11. Waterfront Encounters
12. Undertown / Metal-Mongers
13. Daemon Swamp / Lords of the Marsh
14. Wasteland Exploration
15. Marketplace
16. Infamous Haunts
17. Corrupted Characters

Crimefighters & Cons
18. Miracle Workers
19. Watchmen
20. Channel Rats 'Strigany River Gypsies'
21. Sea Ghosts 'Elf Rangers'
22. Militant Mootlanders 'Halfling Rogues'
23. Shallows Beasts 'Cult of Stromfels'
24. Low Kings 'Marienburg Crime Cartels'
25. Specialists

Hired Swords Compendium
Swords of the Empire

It was my intention to reintroduce concepts by pinning useful guidelines to memorable themes particularly by demonstrating their practical applications, throughout the campaign scenarios. This encourages players to apply the same rules for starting fires, entering buildings, making arrests, going underground, transporting cargo, sailing ships and more, if they become familiar.

Special rules tackling crime, boats and cargo are sometimes split between different chapters. This breaks down advanced gameplay into bite size chunks for players to explore, unravel and piece together as your campaign narrative unfolds.

This campaign revolves around the power of commerce. Major themes are crime, punishment, trade and piracy. Cops and robbers are played by the watch patrols and river pirates operating around the complicated canal network. All of the traditional warbands will have their roles to play alongside the gangs of Marienburg.

Imaginary places

Posted by  | Wednesday, June 17, 2020  at 1:35 AM  

Imaginary panoramas with imaginary people on a journey without end. The Empire is a wilderness place of stark, cruel beauty, measured in its bewildering complexities.

Exploring of our own imagination seeking solace or escaping strained lives by entering imaginary worlds of wizards learning magic, noble knights battling monsters, acting out the parts of witch hunters and sorcerous maidens.

The latest lockdown binge of reading Warhammer story books has somewhat surprisingly introduced me to a number of unfamiliar locations in otherwise mostly familiar environments. Much of my meditation down-time for reading was spent exploring, then ruminating and I suppose researching the Ostermark province. Authors Jonathan Green and Neil McIntosh both favour the region in their storytelling. What appeals to us about this is that the ruins of Mordheim happen to be in the Ostermark province! There was no warband for Ostermarkers featured in the original Mordheim game rules. Local brigands can be perfectly well represented through the Outlaws of Stirwood warband even though Stirwood Forest itself is based much further to the south. Kislev mercenaries form the ideal basis for representing Ostermark mercenaries since many warriors fighting in the Empire's frontier land hail from further north. The League of Ostermark article by Nick Kyme provided tangible variations on a theme if you enjoy playing vanilla mercenaries from the core rules.

Band of mercenaries from Ostermark & Kislev hare around the northern province in eight thick chapters of adventure. The Slaughtered Troll tavern is the central location in The Dead and the Damned by Jonathan Green. This is an instant classic loaded with short stories perfect for Mordheim fans! There are Witch Hunters, Priests, Chaos Cults, a lot of talk about Sigmar and instances where two Saints of the holy Heldenhammer form part of the dialogue. Eowen and Ephrael.

"It it our holy duty to the God-Emperor Sigmar to recover the relics of his most beloved Saint Eowen."
— Brother Tobias, Warrior-Priest of Sigmar

The latter Lady's name already being familiar to some devout followers of the Sigmarite faith. The former appearing in the recovery of a holy reliquary, holding the mortal remains of the Lady Eowen. The appearance of Sister Ephrael von Stern was originally inspired by an amazing parallel observation based on the other big Warhammer property.

"During that incident with the Nagenhof Bell, Burgomeister Audric wasn't even in town. Rumour has it he'd had a thing going with Abbess Rilka, and he'd been up to the Priory of Saint Ephrael to ask for absolution, if you know what I mean."
— Lisbet, Ostermark Maidservant

Jonathan's solid pitch was enough to insert a fascinating character into the cult history of Mordheim, sub-world skirmish game set in a doomed city of Ostermark province, set five hundred years in the past of the Warhammer World timeline. Canonising his adaptation in the Old World mythology in the form of a Saint in the Church of Sigmar really is a story weaving masterstroke.
It's worth noting that there are two further short stories for Badenov's band published in compilations elsewhere. One is an origins story called 'Mark of the Beast' (compiled in 'Way of the Dead') and the other is the Nagenhof Bell (compiled in 'Swords of the Empire') detailing events that were mentioned as preceding one of the stories in the Dead and the Damned.
Saints of Sigmar
There is not a ton of lore on Saints. They don't even get a mention in army books made available to Warhammer Fantasy Battle military enthusiasts but neither do most gods of the Empire, like Taal and Ranald. Saints are likened to minor gods or lesser deities. The roleplay supplement for Marienburg was indeed the first tome published to apply purpose to these deities. Author of Sold Down the River, Anthony Ragan talks about the origins of Saints in an old Warpstone interview here.

It makes sense that Sigmar as the most recognisably worshipped and deified god would have Saints. Due to their being a rich history of religious personalities, some of the best holy men and women would have earned their title through acts of devotion involving heroic deeds done in the name of the holy Heldenhammer. A popular notion with Warhammer authors who are fans of the roleplaying aesthetic.
Following the events of the Nagenhof Bell short story, curiously absent from this collection of eight tales, Torben Badenov's band travel from the market town of Nagenhof, through the wooded gorge of Bruchenbach Woods on to Wollustig Castle. This is my favourite chapter from their adventures. I wish there was more like it!
The Slaughtered Troll
Ostermark's premier drinking establishment and night-spot, unofficial home of the town's equally unofficial adventurers' and mercenaries' guild; avoided by all honest, Sigmar-fearing citizens and city watch. Humans, dwarfs and even the occasional pot-bellied halfling crowd the tables filling the drinking den.

"Shhh! There are many here who would not understand or appreciate what I intend to do. It is best that they do not know at all. That which they do not know cannot trouble them."
— Luthor Harlock, Witch Hunter

Wollustig Castle
Travelling from Nagenhof, traversing a bridged waterway, twice ambushed by bandits of Bruchenbach Woods, before finally reaching Wollustig. The castle is portrayed larger than life. Without meaning to spoil things any more than I already am. Oh this report is full of spoilers peeled from the story books! The events unfolding within the castle walls are nothing short of diabolical. This is one of many favourite new locations is an underexplored province. It seems a shame that too much favour is being laboured on the City of the White Wolf when this other northerly province has such potential.
Neil McIntosh wrote a trilogy of books about the adventures of the mercenary Stefan Kumansky. Star of Erengrad was published 2002, Taint of Evil in 2003 and Keepers of the Flame finished the adventure in 2005. To say that the author takes us on an epic campaign through the Empire's wilderness doesn't sell the affair short. I wish I could read this collection again for the first time. There are some outstanding depictions of places never before seen and I have picked some excerpts out to share below in case you are struggling to get around to reading the legendary tales of Stefan Kumansky and his comrade in arms Bruno.

Forgotten City
An honourable name and a memorable one. I haven’t come across this settlement or their livery before. Beyond the plains of Ostermark is a place that does no honour to its sacred name.

Sigmarsgeist, the city upon the plain, its spreading mass lit by a phosphor glow that came not from any natural source, but from the tide of elemental energy that raged like a boiling sea below.

The key, was a place known in legend as Tal Dur. The fathomless waters of the lake held magical powers that would surpass any imagining, power enough to take the strength of a man and multiply it tenfold.

Doom came to Sigmarsgeist. It was brought by its Guides. Their desire and naked greed for power had consequences. With its gates cut off by their own endeavour, the city had been laid to waste by the floods.

Only by breaching the walls could the waters of a raging flood that came from nowhere be dispersed. As the prophecy of Tal Dur became fulfilled, grotesque troops of warp-touched prisoners, Norscans, cultists, mutants and inhumans bore down on the soldiers of Sigmar. The Chaos horde tore into the city’s Red Guard as they had tried to salvage the wreckage of their citadel from a rising tide.

It had become like a drowned world with only crests of stonework left poking through the churning waters like islands in the sea. The first springs channelled elsewhere, converging near the bottom of the Well of Sadness, where the locus of Tal Dur may be found.

Buildings wrecked and submerged, collapsed into the swirling waters. A chapel of humble worship to the healing goddess Shallya, a ruined shelter in the dark, watery wasteland.

For those strong enough to survive the deluge, its maelstrom that replaced domes and gilded towers with a drowned wasteland of rubble, draining away all sign of the lake’s existence without trace except the ravages left behind.

"I'm not surprised that our citadel is unfamiliar to you. As yet, the name of Sigmarsgeist is known to few beyond the walls. But that will change. Believe me, friend, the time will come when all the Old World will know and bless that name."
— Hans Baecker, Ostermark Mercenary

"A long time ago, before I knew I had a gift, I was a Sister. A Sister of Shallya, a priestess. Then I discovered that I had other powers, powers to heal that came from magic, as well as from the divine will of the goddess. What I took as a gift, others saw as witchcraft. I had to renounce my calling, and leave the Sisterhood. Here I can start afresh, and use my gifts as they were always meant to be used. The goddess knows, there’s work enough to be done."
— Beatrice de Lucht, Sister of Shallya

"But you must remain with us a while yet, draw strength and such provisions as we can offer. Then you can ride on with full belly and good heart. Will you consent to rest with us at least until the halving of the moons?"
— Konstantin von Augen, Father of Sigmarsgeist

"You have been brought to Sigmarsgeist and here you will be judged and your sins will be accounted for. What do you have to offer us, that might possibly postpone your miserable end? You are an abomination of Chaos. A creature of darkness. You will die here in Sigmarsgeist, and your death will purge a blight from the world."
— Anaise von Augen, Guide of Sigmarsgeist

"Behold the Mines of Sigmar. Behold them, and despair. For those of you who work hard — Who knows? Maybe you’ll find some food and rest as your reward at the end of the day. For those who don’t, take a good look about as you climb down the shaft. Because they’ll be your tomb."
— Ostermark Prison Guard

"The rulers of Sigmarsgeist were not the first to build here. As the foundations were dug, they came upon the ruins of another city, long since abandoned or destroyed. Perhaps they too had dreams of a great citadel, a bastion to protect them against evil."
— Rilke, Keeper of the Flame

Stahlfort Prison
Two weeks journey from Altdorf, through lands forsaken by man and god is a prison island in the western Reikland. Stahlfort is a human warehouse; its rows of cells arranged in layers, floor upon floor. Each has its own guardhouse, a squat, heavily fortified cage from where the warders keep watch over the prisoners in their charge.

Two days out from Balzen, travelling through a desolate landscape of marshlands. After the marshes recede into undulating swathes of open grassland, come the lakes. A web of raised strips cross this drowned land until there is no more land to path. Empty expanses of water several miles across. Unlike the greenery all around, one landmass is visibly devoid of shrubs. A featureless island, aside from the skirt of cliffs surrounding it.

Prison boats ferry arrivals between the towering cliffs of an island, through a channel cut in the cliff. The narrow fissure opens out to reveal a horseshoe-shaped harbour with wooden jetties. A flight of steps hewn from the rock lead up the cliff-top. A dark fortress of high towers and heavy walls forms the slate grey outline of the monolith like garrison.

Hundreds of prisoners, jammed inside the close confines of the cells. Life is hard here but mercifully short. Starved of air and light, with only the rats for company. Inmates leave "the pit" when their time’s up, when it's time to "stretch their necks".

Chaos prisoners are held on the other side in the belly of the prison. The area holding them is joined to the main block by a tunnel of steel, a metal cage with locked gates at either end. A prison within a prison. The Chaos cells are the dark heart of Stahlfort.

"These are the enemies of the Empire. Men who have committed abominable crimes."
— Stefan Kumansky, Kislev Mercenary

"It's true: the villain was picked up in a sweep of cultists, but that was more by coincidence than design. We were only going to have him hung. If you want him, you can take him, I suppose."
— Friedrich Krieger, Chief Security Officer of the Sekurheitszicke

"Who are we to argue the will of our Imperial masters? Or the wisdom of the glorious witch hunters? Very well. Take them through to the gates."
— Guard Commander of Stahlfort Prison

The Reikshalle Falls
A daring river escape presents Stefan Kumansky with no possibility to escape. Faced as ever with difficult and impossible choices, the heroes encounter a perilous waterfall on the river network. The waterway drop is not the only dead encounter that the party has to face.

"The falls. The right leads straight over the Reikshalle Falls! We’ll be cut off! Once we hit the falls your only chance will be to jump."
— Ernst Nagel, Former Guard of Stahlfort Prison

"Maybe they managed to get a message from the island to the garrison at Marienburg. They could be moving to cut us off from the west, while troops from the island follow our trail in from the north."
— Karl Maier, Reikland Mercenary

The Keepers of the Flame
A secret society of adversaries to Chaos. Several of the larger sects of zealots in Altdorf stir up trouble. The Apostles of Morr, the Black Confessors and the True Path. Measures being taken by the Keepers of the Flame to defy the schemes of Chaos cults is the ongoing plot for this fantastic series. The endless tide of adversaries and the machinations of the enemy within culminates into the final battle to save one the Empire's great cities.

"The Blessing of the Souls. The whole town's been building up to it for weeks. By noon today, every zealot, doom-merchant and penny-prophet in the city will be on the streets."
— Franz Sterkel, Altdorf Cutthroat

"What makes a young man throw away a good career in the Guard for the uncertain life of a hired sword?"
— Otto Brandauer, Imperial Courtier and Keeper of the Flame

"I shall summon a gathering of the Keepers of the Flame. I will gather together our brothers from across the Empire. Together we have access to powers - powers of persuasion greater than anything the Imperial gaolers can muster."
— Marcus Albrecht, Keeper of the Flame

There are too many memorable characters to discuss or describe them all. Instead some choice dialogue has been quoted throughout this narrative round up which helps to give the impression of how these strangely familiar landscapes are populated. I hope you get to read some of these enlightening stories for yourselves and I hope to make further explorations in the cult exploits of the followers of Chaos they encountered. I was rather taken with the Scarandar changelings and feathered chameleons, Tzeentchian cultists and daemonkin of the avian variety. We should definitely hope to see more of them in the future!

"The Scarandar are the servants of evil. They are human - at least, I think they are - but they have set their face against mankind and all its works. They worship a daemon, a terrible master pledged to deliver first Erengrad, then all Kislev to the Lord of Change."
— Elena Yevschenko, Kislev Noblewoman

Profane tomes

Posted by  | Sunday, April 26, 2020  at 4:21 AM  

Nearly a decade has passed since I imagined a future where I blog more about Warhammer stories. Forbidden texts which I enjoy the most, including tales of the Old World that most inspired the Marienburg campaign odyssey for Mordheim. Along the way I recommended some great books to source knowledge and report on private visits to the Black Library. Now due to a severe case of 'Reikland Cabin Fever' the time has arrived to come good on the first part of my pledge.


The drawback with investing so heavily in nerdy pastimes, like one that tempts you to delve into Liber Malefic is twofold. Economy and capacity. Luckily if you cannot load all of these meaty manuals onto your shelf there is the sorcery of digital storage. Conveniently a great many titles including short stories (with b-side level quality no less!) set in the World That Was are only accessible through digital. This mode saves you a few hundred gold crowns. Fantastic reading material has become trickier to track down in 2020 than it was 5-10 years ago. Have you seen the black market prices on hard copy parchment these days?


Put the Imperial calendar year 2525 apocalypse to one side. Ignore the fact that thousands of hipsters never touched proper old Warhammer or carried a case of lead warriors mounted on square slottas. Black Library recently published a cracking slew of omnibus format books. Warhammer Chronicles are some of the best trilogies of stories ever written by their stable of authors.

The Old World lives. The Old World returns. There is a rich catalogue of storytelling that has built, razed and rebuilt its great cities, helping flesh out colonies, provinces and pivotal circumstances. Here are ten of the novels that have shaped its identity. Ten special tomes or series that made the Old World what it is.


10. Tyrion and Teclis by Bill King
Blood of Aenarion
Sword of Caledor
Bane of Malekith

Destiny is inescapable. As the story goes I got my original hit-list wrong since I failed to mention Bill. He built the world! I must have been hung over in 2002. That's what happens when heroes get distracted in the post-battle phase! William King co-write Man O'War, the naval guidelines of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. What else? Oh yeah, for anyone who is not so Oldhammer that they actually believe in characters who change the way we feel, Bill conceptualised most of the classic Dramtis Personae that pre-date whatever the Shadowlord conceived. Bill left the scene for a while. He stormed back to meet the fans in 2012 when Sword of Caledor was released. Ed 'Skarloc' Morgan and I turned out at Bugman's bar to greet Bill and shout him a pint. It was a special occasion for all of us.

The twins had been kicking around in the design process since as early as 1992. There was a deal of anticipation surrounding the release of these stories and I am happy to say they not only did the original threads justice. They exceeded our expectations! These books are keepers. You can read them over and over. Aenarion's heirs are an advisable investment to make for fantasy literature fans. I love elves. Not the haughty kind so much. This pair are something else. On top of all that, you have the despicable pleasure of Malekith as he is, or was, believable, before they falsely crowned him King. Bill defined the genre so read more of his stuff and be a better fleet-master.


9. Zavant by Gordon Rennie
The Case of the Scarlet Cell by Gordon Rennie
The Riddle of Scorpions by Josh Reynolds
The Problem of Three-Toll Bridge by Josh Reynolds
How Vido Learned the Trick by Josh Reynolds

In 2002 an unusual contribution to the Black Library legacy was touted. 'A Zavant Konniger novel' promised murder and intrigue in the savage world of Warhammer. Konniger is a sage-detective and an ex-priest of Sigmar. The scholarly sage acts as a private investigator. No other contemporary sleuth, not Cadfael, Holmes or Chan can handle himself in similar fight scenes, since the ageing sleuth combats deadly foes in perilous situations, having received training in the martial arts of the east. No other detective had such a faithful assistant as the halfling Vido, when dealing with murderous inquests.

The original novel is split into four sections, or 'cases'. The first two cases are short stories. The third case is longer. The fourth case is longest but the original casebook only weighing in at 285 pages leaves the reader craving another hit! Thankfully I discovered a fifth case in the excellent short stories anthology Swords of the Empire. Since 2004 there were teasers that the sage-detective would return* and eventually he did, if temporarily

*Hijacked by Josh Reynolds under editorial duress in the later years of the detective's case studies. A trio of new investigations to revel in.

Numerous cases had been imaginatively referenced by Rennie in the publisher notes of the Nuln University Press as lost or incomplete works. More frustrating is that the reprint is even more out-of-print than the original pressing! Fortunately you can source copies of the original in the bazaar of books that is online shopping and the short stories are available digitally. I have hyperlinked them all from this page.


8. Matthias Thulmann by CL Werner
A Choice of Hatreds
Meat Wagon
Witch Work
Witch Hunter
Witch Finder
Witch Killer

The Witch Hunter Matthias Thulmann and his side-kick Streng have been immortalised in Warhammer lore in this classic series. You desperately need to read it so you can keep your heretics, mutants or blood-drinkers one step ahead of the Templars of Sigmar!

Reprinted in a new omnibus format as part of the Warhammer Chronicles series, you get all three of the short stories bundled together with the three novels. Even more black-powdered bang for your buck.


7. The Adventures of Florin & Lorenzo by Robert Earl
Burning Shore
Wild Kingdoms
Savage City
Noblesse Oblige

It's a challenging task to select a favourite book by each of my favorite authors. The toughest call was made choosing a Robert Earl novel. Earl has a brand new novel set in Hochland being released in the coming months. All of his stuff is entertaining, spine-tingling and it is romantic in the telling! His writing tone is distinct amongst Black Library authors. Comedic moments seem more common yet Earl's sinister humour is justified in a stylish symphony that 'feels really Warhammer'. In the end it was a toss up between the chilling Strigany tale of vampirism that is 'Ancient Blood' and the swashbuckling hijinks of Florin & Lorenzo.

Florin & Lorenzo are a pair of risk-taking Bretonnian adventurers. Being such bold adventurers the duo suffer none of the predictable moral dilemmas of your usual knightly characters from their home nation. Their dangerlust is a breath of fresh air because it leads them into daring romps across the Warhammer world to exotic locales. There is now an omnibus release collecting the three novels together with the short stories (including phenomenal tale 'Haute Cuisine') which is fantastic for anyone who didn't go on a jolly with them upon the initial releases.

There is odd synergy between the two characters. Lorenzo is initially meant to be Florin's manservant or at least he was at some point until their arrangement developed into being a partnership. 'The Burning Shore' takes the reader to distant Lustria, followed by a cross-country jaunt beyond the World's Edge Mountains to the Mountains of Mourn in 'Wild Kingdoms'. Robert Earl's captivating descriptions of the Ogre Kingdoms are the best thing since sliced dwarf bread. On the strength of book two alone I have to put this in my top six.


6. The Vampire Genevieve by Kim Newman
Drachenfels
Genevieve Undead
Beasts in Velvet
Silver Nails

The vampire Geneviève Dieudonné is a heroine. Something of an unusual statement given the reputation of bloodsuckers in the Warhammer game background. Kim Newman (aka Jack Yeovil) brought us the delicious Geneviève in the early days of Warhammer fiction. Compared to most of the shit these Von Carstein scumbags get up to, Dieudonné is positively angelic. Worth noting is that a lot of BL authors cite Newman's work as an influence. Indeed the impresario Detlef Sierck (greatest playwright and actor the world has ever known) seems to be name-checked in subtext more times than any other character in Warhammer history except perhaps Karl Franz. The Emperor himself makes a cameo appearance in Drachenfels (book one) along with esteemed members of his royal court.
Marketed nowadays as as suspenseful Warhammer horror repack with murder mystery abound. The first omnibus release, no longer in print, is still available from second hard bookstores online. Both reprints comprise of 3 novels and 5 short stories. The continuity of the stories might be considered a little jumbled. My vamp-loving little sister complained that the main character herself is less and less involved as the adventure unfolds. In fact, the author does some decidedly tricky juggling of sub-plots and characters. It's like he gets caught in a tangent involving an event, only then he terminates that tangent yet sees fit to return (us) to it through some nagging temptation to explore the sub-plot with a detailed explanation. It's bizarre and sensational all at once. I recommend this, even if you don't like vampire stories. Beasts in Velvet and the shorts The Warhawk and The Ignorant Armies are amongst the best Warhammer fiction you will ever read is what makes the World what it is.


5. Orion by Darius Hinks
The Vaults of Winter
Tears of Isha
The Council of Beasts
Elven storyteller Hinks nailed the cosmic end of fantasy fables in the Orion series. There was a fae telling or two bordering on funky territory before Darius came along. Darius redefined the spectrum after hanging up his own magical axe. He did it by gripping the soiled tips of the World Roots and taking us to the other side of the World. Storyteller does all this by darkening the heart of the wood with poison, before he brings it back round. Weaving spirits, animals, birds, daemons and less easily identifiable creatures in a challenging tapestry of supernatural happenings.

Check out Hinks rock band Cable. They gave the Wildhearts a run for their money in the 90's.


4. Heroes of the Empire by Chris Wraight
Sword of Justice
Sword of Vengeance
Luthor Huss
Feast of Horrors
Duty and Honour
The March of Doom

I wasn't aware that I'd read anything by this author when I picked up the first release from the Warhammer Heroes series. As it turns out I did read The Judgement of Crows, a short featured in Death & Dishonour which happens to be the latest Warhammer Anthology to be published. Having already read the heroic Norse romp that is Wulfrik, this book had big footsteps to follow in. Funnily, I only grabbed the novel because I was stuck in Taunton with a couple of hours to kill. The telling of this tale is exceptional!

The main plot in Sword of Justice concerns the selection and eventual crowning of a new Elector Count in Averland. The task falls to the Emperor's Champion, Ludwig Schwartzhelm (much to his dismay). I'm familiar with the circumstances surrounding the province from tit-bits of information read elsewhere. Even so, for what one might assume to be a fairly cut and shut military-themed story, this adventure was loaded with intrigue. Without spoiling the readers experience I will only mention that there are a lot of outstanding back-room scenes. The highlight from this read was a meeting a very special character who works exclusively for Ludwig behind the scenes. By no co-incidence the third Warhammer Heroes release was a sequel to this story. A follow-up release Sword of Vengeance concerns Kurt Helborg, exploring the rivalry of these two differing personalities. It brings the tale to a fitting conclusion.

Both of these are collected with another Heroes story for Luthor Huss in a chunky omnibus that also collates a few short stories. Empire heroics at its finest.


3. Blood of Nagash by Josh Reynolds
Neferata
Master of Death
Master of Mourkain
Ghoul King 1: Conqueror of Worms
Ghoul King 2: Empire of Maggots
To be fair Mike Lee has done a fair old amount of graft fleshing out the history of Nehekhara in the Time of Legends* series. I have a fair idea how much of a slog his job was from digesting that author's Rise of Nagash series because the first volume reads drier than a mouthful of sand scooped up from the Khemri desert. Not quite as dry as the Silmarillion but anyone who bothered to trudge through Tolkien's Elvish Sopranos will know what I mean. That is not to say either can't be considered masterful writing. The Rise of Nagash series is a hard read.

Josh Reynolds pick things up with progeny of Nagash. The first born vampires. These characters may be familiar Warhammer vampire fans since the ancestral vampires spawned the five bloodlines of their kind. What Neferata, W'Soran, Ushoran, Abhorash and Vashanesh all have in common is that they all ascended to immortality from the kingdom of Nehekhara. Vashanesh better know as Vlad the Impaler is the odd one out since whatever his fate entailed was screened out from Rise of Nagash. Along with the rest he drank from the advanced blood elixir of Nagash first supped by Neferata then passed on to the rest.

The Blood of Nagash series centres around Neferata of Lahmia in the first book. She played a pivotal role in Lee's series and it's a real pleasure to experience the Queen in her element, surrounded by a full cast of handmaidens. The second volume though is the true masterpiece of this series. I now consider it one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read! The schemes of sorcerer W'Soran and his apprentices, known to tabletop gamers as the Necrach vampires. As the obsessive fiend unravels the remaining mysteries of the 'Corpse Geometries' he works to challenge Nagash for lordship of all undead. Along the way both he and the Queen of Lahmia are undermined by Ushoran, Lord of Masks. After usurping the kingdom of Mourkain he ushers in the Strigoi bloodline by freely sharing his bloodkiss with the entire aristocracy of the Strigos empire. This includes one Vorag Bloodytooth who defies his masters will and falls under the influence of the other first borns, apart from the warrior Abhorash who he always sees as a rival. The latter plays the most mysterious role in the both ends of the Nagash saga. A warrior born, battling to slake his bloodthirst and regain lost honour. The author discusses why on his Hunting Monsters blog and it is a crying shame (tears of blood) that the series failed to reach any conclusion concerning Abhorash's debts and what he'd wanted out of immortality. The motives of the Queen's grim former champion are altogether different to the rest. Vampires wrestle for power and the ultimate control that will bring them dominion over the realms of men, while the Blood Dragon is altogether more elusive. They are all well travelled enough since the destruction of their ancient civilisation. Readers are left with the impression that the last loaf is yet to be baked. For now we must make do with crumbs instead since the few short story downloads currently available pick up the subplots of both Ushoran and Vorag.

Master of Death might not have been selling as many copies as the Von Carsteins, yet the stories told of Sylvania are all made inferior by paying a visit to the city of Mourkain. It would be remiss not to mention one last key character whose continuous appearances feature in important roles throughout the affairs of Nagash and the vampires. That would be Arkhan the Black. The liche-king was Nagash's first immortal lieutenant. The part the sorcerer plays underpins everything that happens across the timeline and he's one of my most loved characters in the Warhammer world.

*The Time of Legends series was a ground breaking accomplishment for Warhammer. It harked back to unexplained periods that some of us actually gave a shit about. Some of it is a tough read! The content was conceived to be intimidating. That is not to say it isn't an enjoyable read because it will take you deep. Much of the early biblical releases (including the ascendancy of Nagash and all that business of Sigmar uniting the tribes) challenge the reader with quizzical texts. Later releases flow naturally. If you are a fan of Skaven or Empire politics then you totally need to check out the Black Plague series. Download this since you can't find hard copies for shit. Do they even exist? No, the masterpiece of this era is the progeny of the Great Necromancer. As a lifelong fan of Nagash this cycle of undead opera has paid dividends.


2. Brunner the Bounty Hunter by C L Werner
Blood Money
Blood and Steel
Blood of the Dragon
Wolfshead

Herr Werner has produced several faithful tales elaborating on fan-favourite characters tied to the game background. I previously mentioned his Grey Seer Thanquol series and the Warhammer Heroes release depicting the barbaric escapades of Wulfrik Worldwalker. My favourite stories from CL are some of those where all new characters of his own invention have been introduced! Runefang and The Chaos Wastes series are all grand accomplishments in fantasy storytelling by the pulp-influenced author but the crown jewel in Werner's collection is Brunner.

Brunner is no ordinary bounter hunter. He's a complicated character. An elite hired sword with patience, a unique moral code, a mysterious past coupled to a curious agenda. The adventures of Brunner were (finally!) collated into an omnibus release. The Bounty Hunter visits unusual settings, notably the Tilean city states. This makes for some delightful entertainment and colourful descriptive work courtesy of Werner's imaginative insight and informative research of the southern nation. One of Werner's strengths is his ability to pen engaging action sequences! He always pumps a lot of physical activity in and the fighting is extraordinarily real in his books!

CL teased us when the sallet-helmed mercenary briefly returned in one short story. I'm unsure whether that was incorporated into the Warhammer Chronicles reprint edition because it wasn't listed but you can always download it from the Death & Dishonour collection. The first omnibus had miles better cover art.


1. Daemonslayer by Bill King
Skavenslayer
Vampireslayer
Kislev is the realm of ice and chill. It has a three major cities in addition to a great many stanitsas splayed across the Oblast. There are a richer selection of Warhammer adventures based in this country than you will ever find in the archives. Perhaps the most important settlement is Prague. Bill King owns this city. He helped build it and raze it. He lived here in it with us and shared that experience for us all to share.

The rat sorcerer Thanquol memorably appeared to foil the Slayer and his rememberer. The heroes notoriety has meant that spin-off trilogies were commissioned to celebrate their fortune. Grey Seer spawned a further two novels and the Warhammer Chronicles omnibus for Thanquol & Boneripper is now the total package for skaven fans, cunningly scripted by CL Werner. Nathan Long completed a trilogy off the back of Vampireslayer, starring the the fierce Kislevite noblewoman Ulrika Magdova after she unfortunately receives the bloodkiss from a Von Carstein throwback. None of this would be possible without Bill laying down the groundwork and all of this stuff is quintessentially Warhammer.


Those are all storybooks to read for pleasure. If you happen to be putting together a warband for a Mordheim campaign then depending on the setting your campaign is set in, I can recommend what you need to read next. Need to do a little research to get your crew ready for an upcoming series of games? Here are the top picks for inspiration and preparation.

Mordheim

If you are looking for stories to motivate your next warband then please look no further than 'Ill Met In Mordheim' by Robert Waters or the story boarding of Condemned by Fire - series of comics collected in a graphic novel written by the mighty Dan Abnett.

Then there have been murmurings of gossip concerning one Torben Badenov which I have been yet to remark upon. The Nagenhof Bell was always a favourite short story of mine. Jonathan Green can also be held to account for his heretical interpretations of Sister Von Stern from the Sigmarite Sisterhood and forms of necromancy. Gordon Rennie and Gavin Thorpe joined forces in 2001 to quill The Life and Time of Ulli & Marquand and Their Misadventures in Mordheim City of the Damned, a graphic novel which won't be easy to affordably track down.

For fans of those Brides of the Heldenhammer, there is another treat instore from Hammer and Bolter issue #3. 'Virtue's Reward' by Darius Hinks sends a trio of novice initiates from the Sisterhood of Sigmar off on a rite of passage to hunt for wyrdstone!


Nemesis Crown
The Blackhearts trilogy helped define this setting in a supplement for Mordheim fans. This is great omnibus that has been reprinted more than once. If you can find a copy then snap it up if you're a mercenary warband fan. Nathan has done so much for us.


Border Town Burning
Easily the best few reads for fans of this supplement are Palace of the Plague Lord, Wild Kingdoms and Forged by Chaos. Wild Kingdoms by Robert Earl digs deep into the culture of of Ivory Road inhabitants. Palace of the Plaguelord takes marauders tribal in a deeper sense than ever before. Forged by Chaos is an obscure gem, secretly exposing popular cornerstones of Oldhammer lore. It touches upon cultures of this setting that can be better discussed after leafing through its heretical pages.


Sartosa
The pirate republic was defined by Dan Abnett in his novel Fell Cargo. Not a lot has happened on the high seas since Luka Silvaro set sail, except one time when Aranessa Anja Saltspite challenged the vampiric flotilla in a dreadful experience.


Marienburg
Writing takes a while to get into. If you're reading this far, then hopefully you have some understanding of how difficult it sometimes is. As I work to prepare new content for friends to riff off, please let's remember that Marienburg has been destroyed six times! While many districts fester in their state of perpetual decay, with your help we can rebuild other boroughs in decline, returning some of the port from ruin.


The city is adored by content creators, roleplayers, video game designers, revisited time and time again, and in a tidy selection of novels by some talented authors. Breaking them down here for you in the correct order of the timeline, from when they were written. Reading them will introduce you to iconic new characters like Watch Captain Kurt Schnell and Templar-marine Erkhart Dubnitz in familiar surroundings while showing you some never-before-seen locations of adventure such as Van Der Decken's Boatyard in the Craftsmarket district.

The Tilean Rat by Sandy Mitchell
The Man Who Stabbed Luther van Groot by Sandy Mitchell
Seventh Boon by Mitchel Scanlon
Marshlight by C L Werner

Blood on the Reik series
Death's Messenger by Sandy Mitchell
Death's City by Sandy Mitchell
Death's Legacy by Sandy Mitchell

Murder in Marienburg by David Bishop
Elfslayer by Nathan Long
Slayer of the Storm God (Audio Book) by Nathan Long
Massacre of Marienburg by David Bishop
Knights of the Blazing Sun by Josh Reynolds

Knights of Manann series
Dead Calm by Josh Reynolds
Stromfel’s Teeth by Josh Reynolds
Lords of the Marsh by Josh Reynolds
Dead Man’s Party by Josh Reynolds
Bernheimer’s Gun by Josh Reynolds

Marienburg's Stand by David Guymer
The Fall of Altdorf by Chris Wraight

I'm currently working on a special interview with one of these authors for issue #3 of 28 Magazine. Download the first two issues if you haven't done so already. It is a digital magazine that focuses on unique and personal projects of the Warhammer hobby.

28 Mag is being released annually and, as an entirely not-for-profit venture, is completely free to download.

Until the next time we sail together! The inevitable Werekin wishes you all to stay safe.


Trapped somewhere in the past

Posted by  | Sunday, November 4, 2018  at 8:55 PM  

Last month was Spieltage 2018 in Essen. A gang of British tabletop gamers from Dorset attended with the purpose of purchasing lots of hot new board game releases. I was there to meet with old tabletop friends from across the years and make new acquaintances. In hall 6 were Games Workshop as well as Cubicle 7 who have licensed Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay for it’s 4th edition release. They are in the process of fulfilment for pre-orders and copies of the new rulebook were onhand. I had a nice chat with their staff about upcoming plans which in addition to the director’s cut rewrite for legendary campaign The Enemy Within, will include another module for Marienburg. This was my first chance to put my fingers on the limited edition embossed version which I have prepaid for my collection.

Towards the end of the fair weekend there were a ton of incoming messages and alerts hitting me about Mordheim interest from the community in my hometown of Poole. Firstly this reminded me that I needed to post here as it’s been over 3 years since the last MiM campaign phase ended. Secondly I keep meaning to include a reference to the public Dropbox account with my shared player aids contributions for this game we all adore.

Werekin folder is found here:
*MiM campaign player aids*

There is new terrain being created by members of the hobby community in my town and various captains are conspiring to raise enough gold crowns to hire swords for a campaign.

It’s too early to tell what exactly will be happening or whether I will put up my guilders to do the same. There are so many distractions yet we do have the fantastic new Entoyment Hobby Centre that has opened in my hometown and the temptation is always there to get back on the campaign trail.

Shades of decay

Posted by  | Thursday, August 6, 2015  at 1:22 AM  

When death falls upon the Free City of Marienburg, fractious citizens witness the exploits of apocalypse. The End Times have come. Renegade personalities clash in a fight for survival. In a city shattered and leaderless, rival outfits face off to stake their claim on Marienburg. Rich thieves in a safe place became dead men on a long rope.

For this years 5th annual Mordheim battle day it was originally my intention for the player's warbands to fight in a united front against a Plague Fleet spearheaded by the brothers Glött. Inevitably realising plan A* couldn't be orchestrated without a Nurgle general volunteering to lead a few thousand points worth of Chaos despoilers through my decaying port-cityscape we resorted to plan B.

*Oldhammer Nurgle fleetmasters apply herein and we may yet re-enact this.

The back up plan discussed with my conspirators Dan and Chris was to entertain ourselves with a series of two player battles by starting off with new warband lists. Veterans of our campaign have been playing the same gangs on and off for the last four years. The consensus was that most of us prefer to start afresh for this get together. With a bunch of new recruits joining rusty veterans for the weekend, I devised a simple map-based system of area control broken down into districts and boroughs.

Each of 16 wards or ghettos was represented with a different scenario and the players could agree between themselves which ones they wished to play, or randomise a scenario if they failed to agree, then move on to face another opponent based on current whereabouts on the Great Map.

A crude tagging system was employed to mark out victories with coloured spots determining which warbands were asserting their dominance over the city.

All of the games were staged in the loft flat my girlfriend and I have moved into. We've been lucky enough to find a place with adequate space in the spare room for my Marienburg table to be set up full-time. Yet as I write this a good chunk of my terrain collection is currently boxed up as I've just returned from another weekend event with the Oldhammer community! It's been a busy month for Mordheim activity and this years battle day featured 10 players.

João (Dwarf Rangers), Michelle (Strigany Gypsies), Chris (Skaven Warp-Engineers), Stu C (Norse Explorers), Stu W (Dark Elves), Phil (Ogre Maneaters), Bob (Fimir), Dawn (Dwarf Treasure Hunters), Enys (Sisters of Sigmars) & Dan (River Watch)

Witch Hunter General Dave made a brief guest appearance during the course of Saturday to say hi to the group. Another new face to Bournemouth Mordheimers was Kawe Weissi-Zadeh who visited during set up week with his goblins, trolls and some unreleased halflings. Kawe ended up missing the battles due to work commitments so we are planning another night for some games soon with a smaller group.

João and Bob grabbed some super snaps of the action through the day. My own photography featured here occasionally is not the best. João shot some excellent pics of the main Marienburg table terrain in my spare room. He was able to capture over 200 shots at Oldhammer Weekend whilst I was running participation games of Mordheim.

In addition to the main 6'x4' table, a second table 4'x4' was prepared in the living room by draping a Dreadfleet seascape mat across my (large enough to do this) coffee table to represent the Reiksmouth Estuary. With the excess terrain being supplied by João we had more than enough to create 10' worth of tabletop across the two boards.

Additionally the dining table was used to play Mordheim Quest games in the Marienburg sewer network with the 'Border Town Collapsing' scenario plus four tavern brawls were fought using the scenario 'Last Orders!'

Some time was spent drawing up warband lists on Friday evening. Most of the games took place on Saturday beginning in the morning and finishing quite late as has become tradition. Some of the survivors who arrived late on Saturday reconvened on Sunday for a couple more games. As the sound of battle died down it was clear that the most successful outfits had been the Dark Elf Corsairs, Skaven Warp-Engineers and Fimir Ambushers.

Everybody attending the get together brought something unique of their own making to the exploratory return to the City of Islands & Bridges. In the case of Enys and Dan that meant a supply of mead, for Michelle two tins of baked banana bread cakes, and Chris rocked up with his deadly concoction of home-brewed stout.

João took the opportunity to limber up his camera skills in preparation for the Oldhammer Weekend which the two of us had booked in for at Stoke Hall in Newark, the home of Wargames Foundry owned by 'The Mighty Avenger' Bryan Ansell. I took this opportunity to familiarise myself with Marienburg terrain to help select the best scenarios to go on the road with up to Nottinghamshire for the annual Oldhammer community event 'Bring Out Your Lead' (BOYL) III.

Although we did not get around to playing through all of the scenarios, there were some firm favourites seeing repeat play throughout Saturday. Our newest guests took the liberty of making the most of the abundance of scenery conjured up by João Sousa, Carl Merrell and I. We also made use of some new ships that Chris & I have been constructing in the hope of taking the waterfront actions beyond the limits of Fisherman's Steps, Oyster Dock and Candle Wharf. Boarding actions and danger chasing false beacons in the Reiksmouth Estuary beckons.

There was the usual spate of post battle scrambling about for desirable rare items. We kept the amount of visits to special Marketplace locations to a minimum, yet thanks to the Wasteland Exploration tables there were still some unexpected visits to the Infamous Haunts found in seedier corners of the city-port! Skaven and Fimir Heroes jostled over wyrdstone shards (1 in 6 chance of finding tainted treasures) to take to the Alchemist and the amphibious Fimm nobles felt the touch of Chaos upon them more than once. Speaking of Warp-touch rolls, we took a break from the tabletop for dinner and discovered the taint of wyrdstone upon a menu board in one of the local fast food restaurants on Charminster High Street! Another recommendation for the Infamous Haunts chapter.

The cramped streets and docks of Marienburg caused the usual amount of cursing from Phil as he led his Maneaters through the Old Money Ward for perhaps the final time. The ogres faired well enough beneath the Dead Canal on a smuggling run through the sewer network.

The lascars of Crime-lord Salaman Singh were once again absent as the Pirate-King's usual warband commander Stu Webb had chosen to lead a crew of Dark Elf Corsairs down the Reik onto Marienburg's South Dock.

Despite the absence of lockstocked holy templars with their smoking flintlock barrels we enjoyed the divine presence of Sigmar in the feminine form of an orderly visitation by Sisters of Sigmar. Our new pilgrim on the dock Enys led the ladies in a fervent charge across seaweed-strewn cobblestones to liberate orphans. Waterfront witches or heroines with halos, the Sigmarites faced the Lords of the Marsh with all their zeal.

Despite being bitch-slapped in an opening encounter by swampbound monsters they bounced back with proud posture. Righteousness prevailed in the rolling fog as the united sisterhood held their ground while craven fiends clawed at their buxom forms.

The Marienburg Secretariat repelled an assault from drunken barbarians across Powder Bridge at great cost.

River watchmen were plunged like sinking torpedoes into the Poultice Water yet with enough reinforcements the law fought hard enough to press the hoary heathens back as far as Norse Town.

The Reiksmouth Estuary ran thick with blood. An recurring aquatic menace threatened civilians each time that an eerie mist descended upon the port.

From the relative safety of priestess-blessed skiffs the fallen Sisters find they are less welcome sailing the canals than they had imagined in Manannshaven as they disembark for Temple District on their pilgrimage.

Lords and ladies. Marsh daemons biting off as much as they can chew in the shape of whip-toting she-devils. Well that's what Witch Hunter General Dave would call those feisty matriarchs.

Wharf rats slumming it down on Sour Dock. Strigany gypsies will take any kind of work. They won't do it honestly because of shadowy traditions they can never escape from. The past has a habit of catching up with river pirates! They won't be the first crew of cut-throats to dance from a gibbet in Marienburg. As the End Times approach they could well be the last!

There are some enormous vermin reported to be infesting the city. This one must have sat on a warpstone slab!

Sigmar's Solace provides safe haven for the least favourable priesthood in Marienburg. The God-King was never popular in the City of Secret Deals. Worship of Handrich is a perpetual state and the following of Stromfels rise with the tide.

What everyone wants to see right now. More pictures taken by João. Enjoy the scenery! There will be more of it in our report of Oldhammer 2015 weekend.