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Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
In this thread I'm going to take a look at the history of the Mortal Realms, the setting of Age of Sigmar, with an eye to the major undead factions that were active at various points, and from the biased perspective of Nagash. I'll start a separate thread that looks at those factions in more detail.

1: Before the Age of Myth: The End of the World That Was

There are few who can remember the World That Was, but those who do tell of a single realm governed largely by physical laws. There the raw destructive magic of chaos was refracted like light through a prism into eight distinct winds of magic, and the flow of these purified winds, inimical to the frenzied and disordered powers of the warp, granted the World That Was and the souls that lived there some defense against the depredations of Dark Gods. But the Dark Gods of chaos are not easily denied, and their power infiltrated this realm of eightfold order in the form of twisted servants committed to their own world's undoing. The greatest of these was Archaon the Everchosen, who led a massive army of chaos warriors, beastmen, and daemons, smashing aside the Human, Elf, and Dwarven nations of the World That Was, and preparing a terrible ritual that would spell the undoing of the World That Was. The forces opposed to Chaos launched a mighty counter-offensive, led by eight incarnate demigods, each soul-bound to one of the purified winds of magic. The greatest of these were Sigmar, the Incarnate of Azyr - the golden magic of the Heavens; and Nagash, the Incarnate of Shyish - the amethyst magic of Death. These ancient enemies could not be more opposed to one another in aspect and temperament, yet when the world needed them most they put aside their mutual hatred to fight side by side in defense of their world... and in the end they lost.

The alliance of the Incarnates nearly succeeded, but at the last possible moment was brought low by the betrayal of one of Nagash's lieutenants. The momentary distraction was enough to allow Archaon's ritual grew out of control, creating a warp rift that tore the Old World apart and siphoned it into the Realm of Chaos. The eight winds of magic were torn thought the rift, billowing out into the realm of chaos in great swirling clouds. The physical forms of those nearest to the event were reduced to atoms, their souls sent screaming into the void. As the void grew and reached further away, great chunks were torn through at a time. Entire Cities, islands, and subcontinents were sent through the rift with survivors yet alive, only for the daemons of the warp to descend upon them in an endless tide - or the dark gods themself to snatch up hundreds at a time in great handfuls to feast on alive. The last piece of the Old World to pass into the Realm of Chaos was the great iron core of the planed, which was sent rocketing out into the distance far from the nascent moral realms.

The Dark Gods feasted on the souls of the Old World until they were swollen to bursting - none more so than Slaanesh, who for reasons few remember had exclusive claim to the souls of the elves. When they could consume no more, each retreated to hidden places in their own realms for an age to digest the souls they had consumed, and as they did so they turned their thoughts and ambitions to other worlds.

But the annihilation of the Old World was not quite complete. The rarefied energies of the Old World's winds of magic, now raging in seven great storms and one magnificent comet, were still anathema to the dark gods. They still repelled the wild disordered magic of chaos, creating relatively stable regions even within the Realm of Chaos itself. And within these winds there remained refugees from the World. Its not clear if these were living survivors or merely souls of the dead that had escaped consumption, but there were survivors none the less, and chief among these were the Incarnates, bound forever to their respective winds as a new kind of divinity. In time they were able to pull together new physical manifestations for themselves, even as the storms of their respective winds slowly coalesced into swirling disks within which the remnants of the old world collected in the center, and in this way the Mortal Realms were born.

2. Before the Age of Myth: The Mortal Realms

Over time the Mortal Realms stabilized, most resolving into disk-like forms. At the edges of these disks, the wind of magic that dominates them still swirls in a terrible and endless storm. Though these storms are sources of great arcane power, it is impossible for mortal creatures to survive here, and even the gods find it difficult to control the fierce magic. Within these raging winds are chunks of physical matter - some left over from the World That Was, some newly created in response to the thoughts and emotions that mortals associate with a particular Wind of Magic. This can happen because Mortal Realms still exist within the wider Realm of Chaos, and reality here is governed by symbolism and metaphor rather than physical laws. As an idea is shared by more and more mortals, becoming more concrete and stable in their minds, a new region representing that thought or idea drifts out of the wild boarder of the Mortal Realm, joining the more stable inner regions. Also formed within the winds of magic at a realms perimeter is that Realm's Realmstone, a unique material that embodies and contains tremendous reserves of a Realm's energies. This material filters out from the storms at a Realm's edge like snow, and draws many foolish mortals to the edges of their Realm in search of riches or storable reserves of arcane power.

The Inlands of the Mortal Realms are great disk worlds, governed by what seem to be more natural laws - though even these are manifested by mortal beliefs, else gravity itself would not work correctly there. Each of these worlds is huge - with great oceans and multiple continents. And while they are stable enough for mortals to survive, they are still fundamentally strange and magical places. For one, they are still dominated by their respective wind of magic. Additionally, while the people of the World That Was thought the Realm of Chaos was entirely dominated by the Dark Gods and their daemonic legions, in truth the greater Realm of Chaos is populated by a dizzying variety of strange and ancient entities, creatures mortals never knew simply because they had no interest in invading and consuming mortal worlds. And while the Dark Gods and their daemonic legions had lost interest in the mortal realms once they had consumed their fill, many other strange entities were drawn to the new Realms and chose to make their homes there. Other majestic, terrible, and godlike entities were imagined into existence by mortals in the same way as the physical spaces of the realms were formed. Whether warp-born or born from the minds of mortals, the greatest of these entities came to be called 'Godbeasts', and their power in some cases dwarfed even the Incarnate Gods themselves.

The Mortal Realms float within something of a void in the Realm of Chaos, the wild magic of chaos seemingly calmed by the winds of Magic. There are many thousands of miles of nothing between most of the realms, and each would be completely isolated were it not for the Realm Gates. These arcane portals connect two different points - which can either be within the same realm or can be two entirely different realms. The greatest of these gates - each large enough for an army to pass through shoulder to shoulder, each connects one of the reams to a continent-sized Realm of its own called the All Points.

How the mortal races first came to inhabit the Mortal Realms is a bit of a mystery. Some sources say there were living survivors of the World That Was, clinging onto chunks of the world and somehow surviving until those chunks settled into the Inlands of a Mortal Realm, though this seems unlikely. Others say the mortal races didn't appear until the Incarnate Gods reformed, and that the gods then set about plucking the surviving souls from the storms of magic surrounding their realms to create new mortals to serve and worship them. However they came to be, these first Humans, Aelves, Duardin, Orruks, Grots, and Ogors found the early Mortal Realms to be a dangerous place, already overrun with strange creatures, Godbeasts, and most of all the Children of Chaos - great roving tribes of Beastmen, who considered the Mortal Realms to be their inheritance and birthright, gifted to them by their Dark Gods. The mortal races spread and formed civilizations, but the realms overall remained wild and untamed, far too inhospitable for any one people to settle on their own, even with the power of an Incarnate Deity behind them.

3. Before the Age of Myth: Shyish in the Early Realms.

Before the Age of Myth, there were no mortals in Shyish, the Realm of Death. Governed by mortal beliefs and emotions about Death, Shyish was uniquiely inhospitable to the living. Even as mortal races began to appear and their civilizations spread among the other realms, none could travel to Shyish, for the Endgate leading from the All Points to Shyish was guarded by terrifying Hydragors, the spawn of the Godbeast Gnorros. The peoples of the Mortal Realms knew of Shyish, and that the souls of the departed were drawn there from all the other realms, but in the absence of direct knowledge they were left to imagine what the Realm of Death was like, and these imaginings took on a reality of their own as ghostly afterlives and underworlds in the storm of amethyst magic surrounding Shyish. When faith in a particular afterlife spread and solidified, this caused the afterlife that faith created to take on a more stable physical form and drift inwards, leaving the wild magic of the Realm's perimeter to join the more stable Inner Heartlands of the realm, eventually settling among the other afterlives that preceded it.

These afterlives were as varied as the peoples who imagined them. Hallost, the Land of Dead Heroes, where the spirits of warrior tribes spend their days battling an endless tide of great monsters and beasts, dying each night only to be roused again to glorious battle the next day. Athanasia, an afterlife of peace and enlightenment where Souls rest and study and await their rebirth. The Latchkey Isle, a paradise filled with wonderous treasures protected by devious traps, intricate locks, and watchful guardians, where the spirits of the greatest adventurers and thieves spend eternity challenging themselves to ever more daring heists. Ossia, a land of endless toil where those who served living priest-kings in life continue to serve those same priest-kings in death, forever expanding their grand necropolis temples and building ever greater monuments to their greatness. Many of these afterlives were ruled over by their own god or gods of death, imagined into being by the faith of mortals just as the afterlives they ruled were, but none the less enjoying powers rivaling that of Incarnate Gods and Godbeasts, at least within their own afterlife or underworld.

When mortals died, their souls were drawn to the afterlife most closely matching their own beliefs, and in this way many mortals granted themselves eternal rewards, or cursed themselves to damnations of their own choosing. However, they didn't always find themselves in quite the hereafter they were expecting. As the various afterlives settled together in the heartlands of Shyish, they came into contact and could influence each other. In some places this resulted in peaceful coexistence or open trade, but in other places outright wars broke out as the masters of one underworld attempted to conquer or exterminate another. In this way a mortal soul expecting an afterlife of quiet contemplation could find themselves drafted into a war between heavens and hells they had never heard of. And other afterlives weren't the only threat - Shyish had it's own menagerie of strange creatures and terrible godbeasts, and as the realm of death, governed by mortal emotions about their own ends, these beasts were, if anything, more terrible than those found in any other Mortal Realm.

What Shyish did not have was an Incarnate Deity of its own to lend it a singular vision or semblance of order, for while the other incarnates reborn as deities in their own relms, and set about fostering their own followers, Nagash was mysteriously absent, and Shyish was left to its own devices, with no guiding hand on the wheel to impose order upon it.

AoS Death Faction: The Tomb Kings (deprecated)

Age of Sigmar originally released with 'compendium' faction rules allowing players to continue using their Warhammer Fantasy armies. These included the Vampire Counts Compendium; which was eventually divided into the Nighthaunt, Flesh Eater Courts, and Soulblight Gravelords factions; and the Tomb Kings Compendium, which can still be found in the Warhammer Legends section on Warhammer Community, including points values for all of those units.

While the Tomb Kings lack faction rules, 3rd edition Age of Sigmar has core options for spells, command traits, magic items, and battalions, which make the Tomb Kings Legends rules still kind of sort of playable, even if they aren't an officially supported faction and thus aren't allowed at official GW events. While intended to allow players to run armies of the old world warhammer faction, the Tomb Kings rules happen to be an excellent mechanical representation of some of the more militaristic and stratified afterlives from this early period in the History of the Realms. Particularly afterlives like Ossia, spawned by rigedly hierarchical societies that believed those hierarchies would be maintained after death. You have tomb kings and lich priests representing the leaders of these societies, construct units and animated statues representing their various gods of death, elite grave guard and necropolis knights representing the warrior castes, and basic skeleton units representing conscripts taken form the lower tiers of these societies.

In terms of gameplay, the Tomb Kings were a diverse faction with powerful synergies and strong recursion abilities - particularly with Tomb Kings on Exalted Chariots and Tomb Heralds supporting Skeleton Chariots and Necropolis Stalkers. Beyond that, they were a versatile faction, with big infantry blocks, strong monstrous infantry elites, and several monster options. They even had decent ranged support, by Death army standards at least, between their archers, horse archers, and catapults, with a dedicated hero support option for ranged builds in the tomb queen. Had the Tomb Kings persisted as their own faction, this variety would have made them well suited to the emerging 3e gameplay environment.

Unfortunately, while these rules still exist, they were never updated for 2nd edition, let alone 3rd edition, so many of their rules don't really function within the current core rules and just have to be ignored. Likewise, many of their points costs don't make much sense either, and more are too high than too low. And while 3rd edition offers more support in core alternatives, the lack of faction allegiance rules really does hurt, especially since the Grand Alliance Death faction rules which Tomb Kings used to have access to are gone now. Mind of Mengel put out a very high polish home brew battletome for them which helps if you have a gaming group cool enough to run with homebrew stuff, but that was never updated to 2nd or 3rd edition either, so those rules also don't quite work perfectly in the modern game.

In the end, this is a deprecated faction, no longer officially supported, and I don't recommend any new players to start it. However, if you happen to have an old tomb kings army, or want a ruleset to represent the old afterlives - perhaps you're playing a historical campaign set in the Wars of the Dead - see 'the Settling of the Realms' below - then it might be worth your time to give these rules a look over, and also swing by Mengel Miniatures to give their homebrew Tomb Kings battletome a look.

Hopefully some enterprising player community group finds the time and motivation to update these rules to 3e in a new homebrew battletome - hint hint.

4. The Age of Myth: The Return of Sigmar, and Nagash.

In these early days when the Mortal Realms were first taking form, Mallus - the molten core of the World That Was, was still streaking through the cosmos like a mighty comet. And clinging to that comet for dear life was Sigmar, the Incarnate Deity of Azyr.

Just how long exactly Sigmar travelled like this is unclear, especially since time in the Realm of Chaos drifts in strange ways the further one wanders from the Mortal Realms. Eventually though, Mallus was plucked out of the sky by the Godbeast Dracothion, the Celestial Drake and friend to Sigmar, and placed in the firmament above Azyr, the Realm of Heavens, to which both Sigmar and Dracothion are mystically connected. From here Sigmar was able to pass into the Allpoints, and from there the God of Storms proceeded to visit each of the Mortal Realms in turn, even slipping past the monstrous hydragors to visit the Realm of Death.

He found his fellow Incarnate Deities - some still sleeping, others struggling on their own to foster their chosen peoples. He saw civilization struggling to survive in the corners while all around the Realms disorder, beasts, and monsters reigned. And, after seeing so much of the Realm of Chaos on his celestial voyage, Sigmar knew that time to establish and fortify civilization within the Mortal Realms was limited, for eventually these new worlds would attract the attention of the Dark Gods just as the old world had, and in their current fractured state there would be no way to defend them.

Sigmar knew he needed to re-forge the alliance of the Incarnate Deities, but to begin this new Alliance he would need at least one ally not already overwhelmed with the task of protecting their own struggling people. And for this, to his own everlasting regret, he eventually turned to his old enemy, Nagash.

Sigmar found Nagash sealed away beneath a great mountain cairn of gravesand, the realmstone of Shyish, the entropic properties of which were enough to immobilize even the Great Necromancer. How Nagash came to be this way is unclear. Some early stories say the Dark Gods went out of their way to find and seal the spirit of Nagash before they had even finished consuming the souls of the old world, for among all who had opposed them it was Nagash alone that they feared. Others suggest that a great quantity of gravesand was naturally drawn to Nagash's soul during the formation of Shyish by the sheer gravity of his dark power and malevolent will.

In any event, the Mortal Realms would never have known the curse of undeath had Sigmar not made the fateful decision to free Nagash, in exchange for the Great Necromancer's pledge to join Sigmar's Grand Alliance against the Dark Gods, and to help Sigmar bring order to the Mortal Realms. This Nagash happily swore, for he has always sought to impose his own terrible order upon the world.

In time the differences between Sigmar's and Nagash's vision of what 'order' meant for the realms would prove too incompatible to maintain, but in the early days of the alliance the two gods, so unalike in aspect, fought side by side as brothers, laying low the horrors of the Realms, bringing unexpected salvation to their peoples, and bringing their fellow Incarnate deities one by one into Sigmar's Grand Alliance - though some, as with Gorkamorka, required persuasion by force of battle. Still, there seemed no foe, no godbeast, no power in the realms that could match the might of Sigmar and Nagash working together, and it was this alliance of opposites, even more so than the greater allience they spearheaded, that truely ushered in the Age of Myth.

5. The Age of Myth: Settling the Realms.

With the Grand Alliance of the Gods newly forged, Sigmar turned his attention to the Settling of the Mortal Realms, and Nagash and his Undead Legions were instrumental to this effort. Uncountable throngs of skeletal laborers working day and night without end at the Great Necromancer's command build the early cities, fortifications, roads, and walls of Sigmarite Civilization in all eight realms. The ruins of these great works still bear reliefs depicting the contributions of the dead.

Fearless, tireless, and pittiless, Nagash's armies fought back the hordes of beastmen mile by mile, and brought the realms to heel. In time Sigmar would come to regret his decision to free Nagash, but Sigmarite civilization in the realms might never have been possible without the Necromancer's aid. Even the Endgate was thrown open and the terrible Hydragores slain, allowing Sigmarite civilization to populate the inner heartlands of Shyish - much to the consternation of some of the spirits who resided there.

But the residents of Shyish's afterlives had more immediate problems to contend with than human settlers. Once free of his gravesand tomb, Nagash would tolerate no rivals within his domain. He quickly set about conquering Shyish, pitting the undead against the dead in the Wars of the Dead. Resist as they might, though, the forces of the various afterlives could not hope to oppose the living embodiment of Shyish itself, especially as they were too divided against one another to unite in mutual defense. One by one they fell, and their gods were consumed by Nagash. Even mighty Ossia fell, after their greatest general Katakros, seeing their cause as hopeless, defected to Nagash's side, becomeing the Great Necromancer's foremost battle tactitian and seige engineer.

In this way were all the Mortal Realms brought into the order of the Grand Alliance of Sigmar, and, together with the foremost Slaan wizards of the Seraphon, the Incarnate Gods were able to seal away many otherwise unkillable terrors of the realms - including the earthquake god Kragonos, and even weave a barrier that would protect the Mortal Realms from the attention of the Dark Gods for as long as peace and order persisted in the the Realms. For a single, glorious, golden age, it seemed Sigmar's plan had worked, and the people of the Mortal Realms would forever be free from the terrible fate that befell the World That Was.

6. The Age of Myth: the Mortarchs.

Nagash was a busy god in the Age of Myth. Conquering Shyish, slaying cosmic horrors and rampaging godbeasts, driving back the beastmen hordes, managing diplomatic ties with gods and mortals that feared and distrusted the undead, building the infrastructure of Sigmarite civilization across all 8 Mortal Realms, and even making time for a few personal projects. The God of Death can spread his mind far and wide, but even he cannot be everywhere at once.

Nagash needed lieutenants that could work his will where he was not, so he chose a number of supremely talented and powerful undead to serve as his Mortarchs. Each was already a legendary undead warlord in their own right, with long and bloody histories. As part of their ascention they are soul-bound to Nagash himself, and share in a sliver of his own nightmarish power. This dark blessing expands their own necromantic abilities, dramatically increases their dominion over other undead, and renders them not just undead but truly deathless - for their souls cannot be destroyed while the dark god they serve yet endures.

However, these gifts come at a terrible price, for Nagash's dominion over the Mortarchs is absolute. They may have their plots and plans, they may seek to subvert him in subtle ways, but any action they might wish to take against Nagash's will must be made through cat's paws, for the Mortarchs are physically incapable of directly defying the Necromancer's word. Such is his dominion over them that Arkhan the Black, the First of the Mortarchs, has privately wondered whether the mortarchs are really themselves at all, or whether perhaps they are simply pieces of Nagash shaped in the likeness of favored servants from his memories.

Though the exact number and identities of the Mortarchs in the Age of Myth are unclear, Five in particular are remembered, their cruel legacies persisting into the modern day.

First among the Mortarchs, as it has always been, was Arkhan the Black, the Liche King, the Mortarch of Sacrament and the Right Hand of Death. Arkhan is the closest thing the megalomaniacal God of Shyish has ever had to a friend, and is the only creature in all the Realms that the Great Necromancer trusts with the full scope and detail of his dark designs.

A supremely skilled necromantic adept who has studdied at Nagash's foot from time immemorial, Arkhan's innate talents are supplemented by artefacts of fell power hand crafted by Nagash. With these tools, Arkhan is capable of working necromantic rituals of a scale and subtlety surpassed only by the Great Necromancer himself. He applies these tools and talents to Nagash's most critical and sensitive missions, those that cannot be trusted to lesser Mortarchs, and in this way the Mortarch of Sacrament advances Nagash's terrible designs in the shadows, keeping them hidden until it is too late for his enemies to stop them.

Arkhan's very first task was to build Nagashizaar, Nagash's terrible fortress capitol, at the dead center of Shyish, and it is from here that the forces of undeath launched their campaign to unify the Realm of Death in the Great Necromancer's dread image.

Three of the Mortarchs were Vampires. Among the strongest varieties of undead, Vampires are unliving focal points of death magic, invigorating lesser undead around them by their very presence. Vampires also retain all the knowledge and cunning of their once living minds, and supplement this with an instictive understanding of necromantic sorcery and a ceaseless hunger for mortal blood that made them among the foremost foes of the living in the World That Was.

Less helpfully to Nagash's designs, vampires are also as a rule deceitful and ambitious to a fault, and tainted by further vices retained from their mortal lives. Even so, the strengths of vampires were too great for Nagash to ignore, and he had long ago learned to mitigate the runaway ambitions of vampyric servants by playing them off of one another. Unable to truely die, the souls of several vampires had survived the Old World's destruction, and three of these Nagash is said to have pulled from the void to serve as his generals, introducing the Soulblight Curse to the mortal realms. These were:

Neferata, The Mortarch of Blood and the Queen of Mysteries. The very first vampire, Neferata is a being nearly as ancient as Nagash and Arkhan. While a formidable general in her own right, directing her warriors in battle from high above the fray on the back of her Dread Abyssal, Nagadron, Neferata's true talents are in diplomacy, espionage, and political manipulation. No other undead had ever been so adept at managing information and disinformation networks, using the Soulblight Curse to spread her agents throughout the World That Was.

In the Mortal Realms she turned those same talants to managing the alliance between Nagash's undead and the other god's mortal peoples, undermining those who advised caution when dealing with the undead, planting her own agents among the leadership of the other races, turning their attentions towards whatever Nagash wished them to see, and away from what he didn't. She also managed the governance of the mortal outposts within Shyish, cultivating an elite aristocracy devoted to her alone and founding the nation of Nefertaria, and its grand capitol Nulahmia, in the image of her half-remembered homeland.

Mannfred von Carstein, The Mortarch of Night. The spawn of a much younger generation of vampires in the Old World, as a survivor of the World That Was Mannfred was already none the less unspeakably ancient by the standards of the Mortal Realms by the time Nagash revived him. A singularly selfish and duplicitous creature, it was Mannfred who betrayed the alliance of the Incarnates and doomed the World That Was. That Nagash would willingly choose to revive such an untrustworthy servant is testament to just how useful Mannfred is.

The Mortarch of Night is a necromantic prodigy of nearly unrivaled strength and skill - even Arkhan the Black would hardly be a match for him without the prodigious arcane treasures bestowed by his fell master. Mannfred is also blessed with a cruel tactical cunning, able to draw foes into deadly traps, or identify and strike at unexpected weaknesses. Mannfred is such a master of deceit that he's also able to easily see through his opponents tricks and traps, and evade them with ease.

Where Neferata's gifts were turned on Nagash's allies, Mannfreds were unleashed on his enemies, sapping the strength of beastman hordes and rebellious underworlds alike before swooping in for the kill on his Dread Abyssal, Ashigaroth. In the wild places of Shyish he carved a dominion of his own, Carstinia, forged in the half remembered likeness of his homeland in the World That Was. However, unlike Neferata, Mannfreds memories of home are mostly bitter and filled with regrets, so in the end he spent little time there, and left its governance to his progeny.

Ushoran, the Fallen Mortarch. Once a fell prince of the undead, resplendent in his dark glory, Ushoran was for a time one of Nagash's greatest generals. But somehow he fell from the Great Necromancers favor. The details of how this happened remain a mystery to most. Some say he defied Nagash's direct orders, even made war upon the Great Necromancer's kingdom, though it seems impossible for a Mortarch to have done so. Others say he merely proved to be an ill chosen champion by virtue of repeated failures. A few whisper that he was overwhelmed by the Soulblight curse and degenerated into a beastly form, proving that even the Vampire Mortarchs are doomed to such a fate.

Regardless, Nagash is loathe to destroy any tool that might prove useful in the future, so instead of destroying Ushoran he imprisoned the fallen mortarch in the Shroudcage, a lonely tower that reflected every lie and broken vow Ushoran had ever made back at him, utterly destroying his sanity.

The last Mortarch still remembered from the Age of Myth is Katakros, Mortarch of the Necropolis. As the general of the underworld of Ossia, Katakros successfully repelled Nagash's forces for many years, deflecting the attacks of even Nagash's Mortarchs with ease, until Nagash himself was forced to intervene directly.

Katakros soon saw that the Great Necromancer's overwhelming power was beyond any strategy he could devise, and so he defected, bringing with him all his battle plans, treatises on the art of war, and designs for seige engines, war machines, and fortresses, along with hastily drafted notes on how these designs might be further enhanced through Nagash's necromantic power.

Nagash found himself impressed by these works, and by Katakros's successes against his favored generals, and so rather than destroy the Ossian for having opposed him for so long, the Great Necromancer instead elevated Katakros to the rank of Mortarch, and placed him in charge of the campaign to unify Shyish, as well as the consolidation and ordering of the various afterlives into a single great Necropolis of the Undead once the Wars of the Dead were complete.

AoS Death Faction: Legions of Nagash (replaced)

The Legions of Nagash Battletome, released in the last months of 1st edition AoS, was a book designed to represent the forces of Nagash and his mortarchs, and for a time it was the best ruleset for representing Nagash's undead from the Age of Myth clear up to the Soul Wars, when the Nighthaunt Processions grew so numerous that they required separate dedicated management.

Though in unit selection it was essentially just the Vampire Counts compendium (minus the ghouls) by another name, and included no new units, Legions of Nagash was still arguably the first 'modern' AoS battletome, with more extensive faction and subfaction rules than the books that came before it, including separate legion rules for Nagash's own Grand Host and the personal legions of Arkhan, Neferata, and Mannfred. No rules for Ushoran or Katakros's age of myth legions, since the book and the game as a whole are focused on the more modern Age of Sigmar, where those Legions no longer existed. Also, Katakros hadn't been invented yet at the time this book was released.

Apart from rules, the book is especially notable for its more extensive and detailed lore. Early AoS was a very messy, fuzzy, undefined game, not just in the ruleset, but in the setting as well. It was around the time of the Legions of Nagash battletome release that we finally started to get a more coherent view of what the Realms really were and what life was like on them, via the more ground level exploration of life on Shyish in this book and especially in the Malign Portents campaign that followed. If you have the chance to pick up the book, IMO it's still worth getting, just to see what that was like.

That said, rules-wise the LoNagash battletome are no longer supported, and unlike the Tomb Kings rules which were retired but still remain as they were for those who want to run them, the Legions of Nagash have been outright replaced by the Soulblight Gravelords battletome (see below), which is why I'm not spending time here getting into how LoN played on the table. If you want to play historical games representing the Legions of Nagash as they were, I recommend using the Soulblight Gravelords book, along with some Nighthaunt allies. The only thing really missing from that is the Legion of Sacrament rules, and you'll find my own homebrew rule set for running Legion of Sacrament via Soulblight Gravelords in the homebrew subsection.

Apart from the absense of Arkhan's legion, and the lack of Nighthaunt units - though those can be allied in - Soulblight Gravelords really is just Legions of Nagash by another name, at least mechanically, with updated versions of largely the same units and faction rules. Nagash no longer has his own subfaction within the book, but can be fielded leading any of the others. Neferata's Legion of Blood has changed from vampire-focused to deathrattle-focused, which is admittedly a somewhat odd choice, but old style LoB armies focused on dragon lords and blood knights have a new home with the Kastelai, and you can even run Neferata in the army if you really want to.

7. The Age of Myth: the Vision of Nagash.

Sigmar's vision of harmony and order for the Mortal Realms seemed to be a great success, but Nagash knew that it couldn't last. Chaos and disorder is the fundamental nature of all life, most especially that of the intelligent mortal races. All living things die, and yet so too do they struggle against the inevitable, and that struggle is the fuel that powers Chaos. The Dark Gods themselves are merely a manifestation of the mortal races' struggle to live. Nagash would honor his pact with Sigmar. But he would also prepare for the day that it inevitably fell apart.

During his long imprisonment beneath his cairn of gravesand, Nagash had been carefully examining his failures in the World That Was, up to and including the final failure that led to the world's destruction. He knew that all life must be extinguished in order to obtain final victory over the Chaos Gods, but all his attempts to achieve this end had met with failure after failure.

After long contemplation, he concluded this failure was itself primarily due to the vestiges of mortal weakness within his own forces. Basic undead like Skeletons and Zombies were largely free of emotional weaknesses, but also lacked the independence necessary to operate without the leadership of more free willed undead. Furthermore, these lesser undead were even more frail and fragile than mortals were physically. Sentient undead like Vampires and Liches boasted greatly enhanced physical and arcane talents, and retained the intelligence and awareness needed to lead his armies - but they also retained most of the petty vices and mortal failings they had in life.

The fault wasn't purely that of his minions, however. Time and again, Nagash had underestimated the strength and cunning of his mortal foes, acting too brazenly in the mistaken belief that none were mighty enough to oppose him. Going forward he would need to shroud his designs in a veil of secrecy - at least until they were ready to be enacted.

Nagash had always known there were two paths to ultimate victory - gaining enough personal power to destroy the chaos gods directly, or raising an undead army large and powerful enough to wipe out life, leaving the chaos gods to starve. Of the two, nagash perferred the former plan, and believed it was possible to achieve - if only he could absorb the full power of the Wind of Shyish into his own being.

He had attempted to do this in the World That Was, setting his undead armies to delay the forces of the Dark Gods while he slowly absorbed the incomprehensible power of Shyish through his Black Pyramid. But this method had been too slow, and too obvious, giving his enemies the opportunity to disrupt the ritual and destroy the pyramid. The new Realm of Shyish, and its peculiar Gravesand realmstone, presented a new opportunity though. With enough of the realmstone, Nagash could work a ritual to absorb the wind of Shyish all at once, in a single terrible moment. So long as the gravesand was collected and the ritual prepared in secret, Nagash's enemies would have no time to react.

Unfortunately, in most of Shyish gravesand was rare. The only regions with sufficient reserves of the malign stone were at the unstable edges of the Realm. To work his ritual, Nagash would need a huge quantity of gravesand transported thousands of miles to the center of the realm. Furthermore, the gravesand at the realms edge was so saturated with death magic that even an already-dead skeleton could transport but a single grain at a time or else it would be ground to dust by the gravesand's entropic energies before it could reach its destination. To move so much of it, so far, and in complete secrecy, would be the work of millennia.

None the less, Nagash tasked Arkhan with collecting the needed gravesand, and so in the hidden pathways of Shyish trains of millions of skeletons began traveling in single file from the perimiter of the realm to Nagashizzar at its heart, each clutching a single grain of precious gravesand in their bony fingers. In the mean time, Sigmar's Grand Alliance was the best chance of holding Chaos at bay long enough for the work to be completed.

While time meant nothing to Nagash, the scale of time involved meant that, no matter how carefully and quietly he proceeded, there was a real chance that his enemies would discover the work before it was finished. And so Nagash also pursued a second plan in parallel to the first. This would be a new kind of undead army, comprised of a new kind of undead soldier - one that retained the 'positive' qualities of intelligence, independence, creativity, and hatred, yet was simultaneously devoid of the 'weaknesses' of willfulness, greed, ambition, honor, or compassion. Nagash had already been experimenting with new forms of undead in the latter days of the World That Was, creating the Morghasts - monstrous undead atrocities to act as his personal elite guard and the vanguard of his armies. These concepts he further refined into the Ossiarch Legions - his vision for the mortal realms.

An ossiarch's body would not be comprised of the remains of a single living being, rather they would constructs assembled from necromantically shaped bone taken from many individuals and reinforced with enchanted metals to create a single, sturdy form. Their souls would be similarly hand crafted - with dozens of mortal souls carefully teased apart, with the qualities most useful to nagash retained and re-combined to form an ossiarch soul that would then be bound to an indestructible soul stone affixed to its constructed body.

Early experiments proved promising, but the process of constructing even a single ossiarch warrior would prove incredibly time and resource intensive, so accumulating a realms-conquering army of them would again be the work of millennia. Again this most sensitive task was assigned to Arkhan. So while Nagash's undead were building Sigmar's cities Arkhan was secretly carving out vast underground tomb complexes where the Ossiarch Legions would be assembled in secret. These were hidden in the most inhospitable corners of all the mortal realms, not just Shyish, so that even were the Realm of Death to be ransacked by Nagash's enemies and searched from top to bottom, construction of the Legions would continue.

While Nagash trusted Arkhan with the task of assembling the Ossiarchs, and keeping them secret, he knew he would need another to lead them once they were ready for war. Arkhan's loyalty and arcane talents were without flaw, but while he was a competent field commander, he was no battlefield genius. Meanwhile the Vampire Mortarchs simply could not be trusted with command of Nagash's perfect army.

This was of little concern to Nagash - The construction of the Ossiarch Legions would take countless centuries, there would be time to find - or create - a general suited to them. But it turned out Nagash didn't have to wait long, for Katakros proved to be exactly the general Nagash desired. Supremely talented in the art of war, yet utterly devoid of greed or ambition. And his conceptual designs for war machines and seige engines provided significant improvements to existing Ossiarch designs.

8. The Realm of Myth: Cracks in the Grand Alliance

Everything seemed to be proceeding as Nagash wished. Both of his grand designs presented a viable path to absolute victory, and while both would be ages in the making, Sigmar's Grand Alliance seemed strong and stable, fully capable of keeping the dark powers at bay until Nagash was ready to destroy friend and foe alike.

Unfortunately, the alliance was not so stable as Nagash supposed. Even as the Great Necromancer was initiating long term plots to betray the other gods, far more immediate threats were appearing. As the godbeasts were tamed or laid low and the beastmen tribes pushed to the fringes of the Mortal Realms, the battlelust of the twin headed god GorkaMorka and their greenskin children drove them to turn on their Sigmarite allies.

Though Gorkamorka themselves were defeated and imprisoned, the now leaderless greenskins quickly became as dangerous and disorderly a threat as the beastmen had been, especially in Ghur, the Realm of Beasts, where they were the most numerous. While GorkaMorka's betrayal had been quite damaging, it had not been altogether unexpected. Far worse, and a surprise to all, were the actions of the Aelven Deities - Tyrion, Teclis, and Malerion.

Very few aelven souls had survived the end of the World That Was, and the ravenous hunger of Slaanesh. The Aelven Gods attempted to foster new aelven peoples in the Mortal Realms, but they had so few souls to start, and their populations expanded so slowly, that their peoples were faced with a grim future. Even if their tiny populations proved viable - far from a sure thing - the shorter lived and faster multiplying races would surely have settled and occupied all the realms before the nascent aelven civilizations could really even get started.

Alarielle, goddes of Life, accepted this as the natural course and instead channeled her attention, favor, and share of aelven souls into her new plant-like Sylvaneth people. Tyrion, Teclis, and Malerion, uncompromising deities of Light and Darkness, would not give up on the aelves, though, and eventually an opportunity presented itself in a most unlikely form.

Morathi, Malerion's mother, who had been consumed by Slaanesh in the destruction of the World That Was, reappeared, claiming to have clawed her way out of Slaanesh's gullet and travelled in secret to the Mortal Realms. She knew where Slaanesh was hidden and vulnerable, still digesting the souls of the Old World's aelves even now, and she proposed a daring plan - capture Slaanesh in their torpor, bring them back to the mortal realms, and extract as many aelven souls as might yet be saved, possibly numbering in the millions.

Tyrion, Teclis, and Malerion supported this plan, desperate as they were for any chance of reviving their peoples. The other gods, especially Nagash, opposed the plan as unthinkably reckless. Even were it possible, capturing one of the Chaos Gods would surely attract the attention of the rest. Bringing Slaanesh to the mortal realms would draw the others as well, and would require breaking - or at least severely weakening, the barrier they had woven to keep the powers of Chaos out.

Furthermore, Nagash argued, according to the pact sworn by the deities of the Grand Alliance, the souls of the dead belonged to Nagash and Nagash alone. Even the aelven gods had sworn to this - thinking their oath largely meaningless since aelves are without age or natural death regardless. Nagash had already shown tremendous grace in forgiving the use of souls of the dead by the various gods in establishing their peoples before the Alliance had been sworn, but now that they had all acknowledged his claim, by all rights any souls of the dead still being digested within the Dark Prince belonged to Nagash, and it was his will that they should rot there rather than risk everything the Incarnate Gods had built together (and everything Nagash was building in secret).

Still, the aelven gods appealed to Sigmar's greatest weakness - his hope - while Morathi reminded Sigmar of all the evils Nagash had done in the World That Was, of the enemy he was to life, and characterized the Great Necromancer's wise counsel as petty cruelty, and it seemed as though the Storm God would break the tie in favor of this foolhardy plan. In anger, Nagash struck Morathi, and the terrible blow wiped away the illusion she had woven around herself, revealing her true form - hideous, snake-like, and clearly tainted by the corruption of Slaanesh.

As Morathi slithered off into the shadows, swearing revenge for the insult, Nagash made his final argument, tailored to snuff the flame of hope that the aelven gods had fanned in Sigmar's heart. Just as Morathi was so clearly tainted by chaos, so too would be any aelven soul dredged up from the Dark God's gullet. Not only would the aelven gods' plan place all the Mortal Realms in jeapordy, it would be for nothing. Finally bowing to the Necromancer's superior wisdom, Sigmar sided with Nagash, and the Grand Alliance ruled that Slaanesh, and any aelven souls trapped within, would be left to their fate.

But if Nagash had imagined this disaster to be averted, he was wrong, for just as the Aelven gods had intended to defy their oath to Nagash, so too did they defy the will of Sigmar and their oaths of loyalty to the Grand Alliance as a whole. They proceeded with Morathi's plan in secret, despite Nagash's wisdom and Sigmar's command. And while their daring raid was successful in capturing the Dark Prince, the result was exactly as Nagash had said it would be. The other gods immediately noticed the disappearance of their peer and rival, and rising from their convalesence, turned their dread gazes towards the Mortal Realms.

9. The Age of Chaos: The Return of the Everchosen.

At first the remaining Dark Gods - Khorne, Tzeentch, and Nurgle - didn't know what to make of what had happened. Slaanesh was gone, and the Dark Prince's domain was in a panicked uproar. Perhaps their initial thought was a gleeful inclination to take advantage of the weakness and claim part of Slaanesh's holdings, only... where had Slaanesh gone? Was this some sort of trick?

Following the traces, they were drawn to the Mortal Realms, and looked in wonder and greed at these new worlds that had sprung up right under their nose. Had Slaanesh merely found these Realms first? Were they there already, consuming as many souls as they could before the other Dark Gods could stake their claims? Such would be poor sportsmanship in the great game. But no, Slaanesh's trail led to these Realms, and then vanished.

And there was something familiar about these Mortal Realms. There were presences here that they had not felt since their last great feast, little godlings of light and shadow, fire and metal, beasts and forests. There was the golden godling Sigmar, who had defied them to the last. And one more besides, a dark presence, darker even than the Dark Gods themselves. The memory came like a voice on the winds of chaos, a voice that whispered the name Nagash, and for the first time in an age the Gods of Chaos knew fear.

Nagash, who had mastered death. Nagash, who had torn mortal souls away from the warp and tainted them with the blasphemous curse of undeath, changing them from succulent meals for the Dark Gods to a bitter poison that offered no nourishment at all. Nagash who had come closer than any other entity all the histories of all the worlds to not just defying the will of the Dark Gods, but destroying them altogether and usurping their thrones. Nagash had not been not destroyed after all, nor even imprisoned, he was here, free, now more powerful than ever as a god in thruth, young and weak by the standards of the Dark Gods but growing in power and with an entire array of godlings dancing to his tune. Had this upstart God of Death discovered a way to kill even a God of Chaos?

This could not be tolerated, could not be allowed. These Mortal Realms must be smashed, these new gods - especially Nagash - destroyed. More than anything else Slaanesh's fate had to be discovered and understood. Yet the Dark Gods would not attack directly. For one, a powerful barrier resisted them. Though it seemed to have been recently weakened, creating gaps large enough for their daemonic legions to pass through, it still prevented entry by the Dark Gods in their full horror.

Even apart from the barrier, the Chaos Gods did not want to risk suffering whatever fate had befallen Slaanesh. Indeed, the entire situation might be a trap to lure them in. If there was some weapon or tool capable of defeating a Chaos God, they didn't want to risk it falling into the hands of their remaining siblings, either. They needed a neutral pawn to lead the conquest of these Mortal Realms and the hunt for Slaanesh. Since they now knew these Realms were born out of the remains of the World That Was, they dredged up from the well of souls the dark champion who had led the destruction of that world and defeated these same Incarnate Deities once before - Archaon Everchosen.

So it was that the Daemonic Legions of Khorne, Tzeentch and Nurgle, under the command of Archaon Everchosen - a monster blessed with greater gifts of chaos than any dark champion before him, crashed down in an apocalypse of blood, fire, and plague on all 8 realms.

10. The Age of Chaos: Blood, Fire, and Plague

While Sigmar's Grand Alliance has already been stretched to the breaking point by the rebellion of GorkaMorka and the betrayal of the Aelven Gods, It does not collapse all at once. The Gods of Order hold out for many years, fighting a slowly losing campaign against Archaon's seemingly endless daemonic horde. But the daemonic legions are forced to tear their way in from the fringes of the realms, while what remains of the Pantheon of Order holds the stable innerlands of the realms, and in particular the crucial Allpoint gates that allow them to swiftly move great armies from one Mortal Realm to another. In this way the Sigmarite Forces are able to quickly respond with overwhelming force wherever Archaon's forces are able to amass themselves.

Yet the Dark Gods are relentless and their Daemonic Legions seemingly without limit. The war drags on, and the Mortal Realms suffer terrible atrocities, sometimes at the hands of their own desperate deities. This is especially true in Shyish, which suffers the worst of the Chaos onslaught. The Shyishian nation of Dolorum is beset by a legion of Nurgle Daemons.

Dolorum is led by the ruthless and ambitious Lady Olynder, but she came to power through deception and political machination and has no way of fighting daemonic armies and daemon-borne plagues. When she attemepts to bargain with the forces of chaos for leniency, Nagash destroys her entire civilization. With no more carriers the plagues die out and the Nurgle daemons are weakened enough for the vengeful ghosts of Dolorum to push them back, but all of Dolorum is lost in the process. For her treachery, Nagash curses Lady Olynder's spirit to wander her dead land forever, suffering the combined sorrows of all the Mortal Realms.

Meanwhile the underworld of Hallost as attacked by Khornate Daemons. The spirits of great warriors who reside in Hallost welcome battle with the daemons as much as they did with the cthonic beasts they had spent their afterlife hunting to that point, but the demons are themselves invigorated by this pure and honorable combat, and one by one the Blood God's daemons begin to drag the souls of these mighty heroes back to Khornes realm.

Furious at this usurpation - and knowing the souls of great warriors like those of Hallost are exactly what his ossiarch legions will require - Nagash brings a thousand living prisoners to Hallost and sacrifices them in a single terrible necromantic ritual, transforming their ghosts into the first true Nighthaunts - spirits of the dead twisted and tortured by necromantic magic into horrors that long only to spread their suffering to the living. The Nighthaunt, lacking honor or battle pride or even true blood lust, possessed only of a hatred so pure and relentless that even the Blood God's daemons can find no nourishment in it, are able to repel the daemons, at least for a time.

As decades of warfare turn to centuries, the already strained Grand Alliance reaches a breaking point. Attrition takes its toll on the forces of the Gods of Order, until they barely have enough strength to protect their own realms, with nothing to spare for mutual defense. Shyish is particularly hard hit, for the Dark Gods know that, of all the Incarnate Deities, Nagash is by far the greatest threat. On the surface vast daemonic armies run riot with the Everchosen himself at their head, while in the underworlds countless millions of Skaven pour through their gnawholes.

Long had the skaven been waiting in the corners of the realms, dismissed as yet more beastmen by Sigmar's Pantheon, and now they hoped through aiding in the conquest of the Mortal Realms to make way for the Great Horned Rat to fill the vacuum left by Slaanesh. Nagash's great work was in jeapordy, and his forces were so overwhelmed by the ferocity of this battle on multiple fronts that the Great Necromancer called out to Sigmar for aid. Even if the Pantheon they had forged was collapsing, surely the Sigmar, the self-styled God of Heavenly Order would honor his oaths to Nagash, sworn before the rest of the Pantheon was even formed?

But Sigmar refused to answer the call, a betrayal that Doomed all the Realms to an Age of Chaos.

11. The Age of Chaos: The Grand Alliance Broken

With Sigmar's alliance broken by the golden god's own betrayal, Nagash could see that there was no hope of victory against the Dark Gods, at least not in battle. Instead, Nagash would do as he had often done in the World That Was - retreat into the shadows and wait out his enemies. This time, though, he wouldn't just be waiting, for his two great plans could continue in secret.

The Ossiarch tomb-complexes were well hidden in the other realms, but the Great Black Pyramid in Shyish was under threat, particularly from the Skaven burrowing through the underworlds. And so Nagash removed all his forces from every non-essential field of battle, and dedicated his forces to preparing a refuge to conceal the Black Pyramid during its construction, where Nagash himself could wait out Archaon's dawning Age of Chaos. For this he chose a sunless abyss beneath the underworld of Stygxx.

This subrealm within the damp, rocky landscape of Stygxx proved an ideal hiding place, for it could only be accessed via the Starless Gates - a set of Realmgates with one side opening into the Abyss of Stygxx and the other side appearing only briefly, infrequently, and at locations that none but Nagash and Arkhan could predict in advance. This benighted Abyss was so inimical to life that the gnawing Skaven would likewise find it impossible to access via their gnawholes. The nature of the Starless Gates would greatly slow the construction of the Black Pyramid, but this was still preferable to it's discovery by Chaos forces.

By withdrawing his undead legions from the field of battle, however, Nagash had left the all important Death Gate exposed. Jumping at the opening, Archaon took the gate and streamed into the All Points. Sigmar's forces were taken completely by surprise, having barely enough time to register the undead withdrawal before Archaon's forces smashed through. With the All points no longer under their control, the last defenses of the other realms began to fall. To Sigmar, it seemed Nagash had betrayed him to Archaon. With hope of victory lost, Sigmar was overcome with rage, taking on the aspet of a divine Barbarian King he smashed into Shyish, ignoring the forces of chaos to instead attack the Undead, all the time calling out Nagash to face the Storm God's fury.

This Nagash hadn't expected, forcing him to work with even greater haste. He sent Katakros to delay Sigmar, only for the Storm God to smash the mortarch and, seemingly, destroy him outright, something Nagash hadn't even thought possible. This was a terrible blow, as Katakros was crucial to one of Nagash's great plans. Even if he did complete his Ossiarch Legions, he now had no general worthy of leading them, and Nagash was unlikely to find a worthy replacement while waiting out the Age of Chaos in Stygxx.

Sigmar also discovered and smashed the Shroudcage containing Ushoran, releasing the monstrous vampire-beast, now thoroughly insane but remembering just enough of its old life to feel a hatred for Nagash and all his works. Insane as he was, Ushoran was still a Mortarch of Nagash, and might have been brought to heel, even put to productive use, if Nagash had time to deal with the creature personally, but there was no such time.

Eventually Sigmar came to his senses and retreated to defend Azyr, but the damage was katastrophic. The skaven continued their assault from below, daemons ran roughshod over the surface, and Ushoran rampaged the wilderness tearing town Nagash's works and monuments. Finally, Nagashizzar was beseiged by Archaon himself, at the head of a great host of nurgle daemons immune to the undead capitol's entropic aura.

In the Battle of Black Skies, the Everchosen cleaved Nagash's body in twain and cast the burning remnants to the ground. Luckily for nagash, they landed amid his own forces - though a rogue Vampire Lord named Prince Vhordrai attempted to destroy the remains by hurling them through a corrupted realmgate. It was only through the swift, desperate actions of Nagash's remaining Mortarchs that the remains were saved at the last moment and spirited in secret to the Stygian Abyss.

Archaon went on to conquer all the Realms save Azyr only, where Sigmar and Grungni - the Duardin God of Smiths, incarnate to the fallen Realm of Metal - managed to fight back the forces of chaos and seal every single Realmgate leading to any of the other Realms. Archaon settled down for a seige of Azyr that would last for an entire age, while his forces scoured the Mortal Realms, burning and pillaging where they willed, but also searching for any sign of what had happened to Slaanesh.

12. The Age of Chaos: Surviving under Archaon's Heel.

The Great Necromancer was dead, his armies broken, his works undone, his power banished, and any threat he might have posed to the Dark Gods ended forever - or so it seemed, for this was all according to Nagash's plan. He had willingly allowed himself to be defeated by Archaon in order to create a false narrative of his own eath, and further had intentionally arranged for his own Realm of Shyish to be the most completely destroyed and overrun by Chaos so that the Dark Powers would turn their gaze elsewhere and fail to detect his ruse.

Even so, this clever deception had cost Nagash dearly. Not just his body, but also his mind and soul had suffered grievous injury, scattering his thought and purpose. It would take an Age for Nagash to pull himself back together, but that was no matter, for it would take an age for Arkhan to prepare the Great Works. The other gods, for their part, followed the path that Nagash had chosen, withdrawing into their own hidden refuges, abandoning their peoples to the depredations of Chaos.

In the mean time, Nagash's mortarchs were left to their own devices. Arkhan the Black, ever loyal, continued preparations as instructed, pausing only long enough to track down Prince Vhordrai and seal the traitorous vampire within a realmstone coffin to wait for Nagash's return, so that the Great Necromancer could personally choose a suitable punishment.

Neferata returned to Nefertaria, where she fought a centuries long defense of her chosen lands, slowly loosing ground until all that was left was her capitol of NuLamia, locked in a perpetual siege.

Mannfred abandoned his own lands to their fate and disappeared into the mists of history. His actions and whereabouts during the Age of Chaos are known only to himself.

For a time Ushoran roved the wild places of shyish in the form of a great beast, hunting the servants of Nagash and the Chaos Gods alike. Whether any vestige of his former nobility still existed in his madness clouded mind, none can say, and once his anger was spent he disappeared entirely.

With the Soulblight Mortarchs missing or preoccupied, many Soulblight Vampires throughout the realms were cut off from any chain of command and left to struggle for survival in whatever way they could. Some, following in the traditions of Carstinia or Nefertaria, claimed particular mortal hold outs as their own and attempted to rally the defense of their chosen mortal chattle. With the gods abandoning their people, the vampires who stayed to defend them were often worshipped as gods themselves, and lived in unimagineable luxury, at least until Archaon's armies came to topple their little kingdoms of the night.

Others formed isolated knightly orders, honing their martial abilities and animating tireless undead steeds to carry them into battle against any roving chaos warbands who discovered their refuge - or to help them flee from any chaos forces too large to defeat through strength of arms.

Still others embraced the monstrous nature of the Soulblight Curse. Placing base survival above all other virtues, these vampires deliberately triggered horrific transformations in order to gain the strength needed to persist against the powers of chaos, even at the cost of their minds.

There were also those who retreated from cities and settlements as the chaos armies burned them, and spent the Age of Chaos skulking in the wild places, beasts in behavior if not in body. In the frozen forests of Shyish, a woman named Volga was visited by a huge wolf that gifted her and her progeny the vampiric strength to survive and fight back against raiding chaos marauders.

In this way the bloodlines that the Vampire Mortarchs had founded blended and diverged, giving rise to a number of new Soulblight Dynasties.

The mortal peoples of Shyish struggled to survive. Those in the stable inner heartlands were mostly overrun, or turned to chaos worship themselves. In the more remote regions of the realm, there were societies that managed to avoid the notice of chaos, at least for a time, some abanding their homes and becoming nomadic or simply moving further out towards the unstable rim. But as the centuries under Chaos rule dragged on, there were fewer and fewer places where such refugees could go unnoticed.

As those who managed to hold off Chaos armies were locked in prolonged seiges, and those who fled from Chaos armies sought refuge in less and less hospitable regions, food became scarce and many were driven by desperation to cannibalism.
Where such acts, while taboo, might be understandable, even justifiable in a world without magic, the Mortal Realms exist within the wider Realm of Chaos. The physical properties of reality are fundamentally magical and symbolic in nature, and breaking powerful cultural taboos can invite real spiritual and physical corruption. Death Magic slowly collected within the souls and bodies of those who resorted to such unsavory food supplies to survive until they were little different from undead themselves, causing these people to degenerate into horrific ghouls with twisted bodies and broken minds called mordants.
Mordant communities thus sprang up in the isolated regions of all the realms, but most especially in Shyish, where Death Magic and necromantic energies are already abundant.

Eventually Ushoran stumbled upon such a community of mordants, and in his madness he saw them as the only virtuous and civilized people left in Shyish. Ushoran took on a new identity as the Carrion King, and founded a new bloodline among the mordants. Their corruption combined with Ushoran's madness and Soulblight Curse gave rise to the Abhorrants. In time these Ghoul Kings spread their delusions and unique variant of the Soulblight Curse to mordant populations throughout the Realms.

Death Faction: Soulblight Gravelords

While the Soulblight Gravelords are the most recent Death faction battletome to be released, the forces they represent have been active in the Mortal Realms longer than any of the other current Death factions. This is the Age of Sigmar incarnation of the classic Warhammer Vampire Counts army, and thus the direct inheritors of the Vampire Counts Compendium lineage that had passed through the Legions of Nagash battletome, missing only Arkhan and the ghostly Nighthaunt units, the latter of which can still be allied in from the Nighthaunt battletome. Like the old Vampire Counts army and the Legions of Nagash, the Soulblight Gravelords are a diverse menagerie of gothic horror tropes. Ancient Wight Kings command legions of deathrattle skeletons, decrepit necromancers raise hordes of deadwalker zombies, and the Soulblight Vampires preside over them all in a dark mockery of aristocratic nobility. While the Battletome's lore is focused on more recent events, it's during the Age of Chaos that the Gravelords really came to define themselves, as the temporary dissolution of the undead chain of command left the vampires, as the most powerful and willful undead, to follow their own individual ambitious where they would, founding many of the Soulblight Dynasties that persisted into the modern age.

Following the tradition set by the Legions of Nagash battletome, the Soulblight Gravelords book is rich with lore, art, and narrative, providing a window into the Realm of Shyish, including its history, people, and the undead that claim dominion over it. In particular it does a great job of characterizing both the various Soulblight Dynasties and the legendary vampires who rule them. The Soublight Gravelords battletome is a fantastic introduction to the setting of Age of Sigmar, the Realm of Shyish in particular, and how the undead fit into that wider context both historically and in the game's current events, and I honestly recommend it to anyone interested in Age of Sigmar undead, even those who might prefer to collect and play other undead factions.

Mechanically, the Gravelords are very much the classic Warhammer Undead faction. This means large units of relatively weak, relatively slow undead infantry that rely on recursion mechanics (healing damaged units, re-summoning dead ones) to make up for poor defense and hero support in the form of spell and aura buffs to make up for poor offense. These units are supported by a number of smaller, faster chaff and hammer units like dire wolves and blood knights that make up for the army's otherwise lacking speed and hitting power. The overall faction as a result is very diverse and resilient, with a number of viable build styles and answers to most possible threats, really only lacking in ranged offense.

This diversity is further supplemented by a set of five different 'Soublight Dynasty' subfaction rules. The vampires of Neferata's Legion of Blood prefer politics and intrigue to the dirty business of physical battle. When called to war they tend to float above the fray on great undead beasts or floating thrones and palanquins, directing their elite skeletal minions to battle on their behalf, swooping down to partake in a feast of blood only when victory is assured. Mannfred's Legion of the Night likes to bog enemies down in battles against hoards of expendable skeletons and zombies before ambushing them with powerful elite units and monstrous horrrors appearing suddenly from the shadows. Prince Vhordrai's Kastellai of the Crimson Keep are an elite order of ravenous blood knights who use their lord's teleporting castle to launch assaults behind enemy lines. Lauka Vai's Avengori willingly embrace the monstrous true face of the Soulblight Curse, either becoming monsters themselves or proving their strength by hunting the monsters that stalk the realm of beasts, slaying them with their bare hands and reanimating them as undead horrors. Beladamma Volga's Vyrkos stalk the frozen forests of Shyish like a pack of winter wolves, supplementing their feral strength and that of their lesser undead minions with secret blood magic witchcraft passed down by their elders.

Adding even more character to the army and its subfactions is an almost unprecedented selection of named characters. Each Dynasty has at least one, and the Vyrkos - fresh from their role as the antagonists of the sadly discontinued Cursed City board game - have several. All of these characters are at least casually playable, and some are even points efficient enough to see serious competitive play. And they can even be played outside of their own Dynasties, though they don't benefit from other Dynasties' subfaction rules. Neferata's support abilities are very impressive. Mannfred's ability to duck out of any melee combat he doesn't want to participate in can make him nigh unkillable against melee armies - though you'll often want to keep him in for the sake of the potent buff he can hand out when killing enemies in combat. Volga is an efficient and potent wizard and support hero, particularly within her own Vyrkos subfaction.

In addition to all these Dynasty heroes there is Nagash, practically an army unto himself, with a points cost to match. Playing with Nagash can be frustrating thanks to the new miscast rules, which can shut down the Great Necromancer due to an unlucky roll before he even gets going. But when Nagash does get on a roll, he really is a sight to behold, especially in 3rd edition where he adds heroic actions and monstrous rampages to his tool kit, and can spam a significantly more dangerous version of Arcane Bolt.

There are three main differences that fans of the old Vampire Counts army will notice in the general gameplay of the Gravelords, apart from just the differences in the core game rules. The first is that the non-monstrous heroes are focused on the support they can offer to our units rather than being powerful threats in and of themselves. With no bloodline powers and greatly reduced equipment and magic item selection, basic vampire lords are much less customizeable than they were in Warhammer Fantasy, and they certainly won't be cutting down entire enemy units single handed - though if you do want individually powerful undead heroes, any of the monter or monster-riding heroes can perform that sort of role.

Second is that, while we have some decent spell options (at least in the warscroll spells and necromancer lore, the vampire lore is pretty bad), the Gravelords lack the cheap casts and bonuses to casting rolls needed to be a strong magic army, at least outside of a small handful of special characters. This is unfortunately a general trend with undead armies in AoS of late. Dedicated arcane special characters like Nagash and Volga are pretty strong. However, while our generic wizards have access to strong spells, you can't really rely on those spells going through when you need them, since our non-named heroes just lack the oomph needed to reliably force spells past the various stronger magic armies in the game, like Lumineth, Seraphon, Tzeentch, and so on. As a result magic is a useful tool in our belt, but it's not the cornerstone of our strategy that it used to be in Warhammer Fantasy. Again, unless you're running one or more of the named heroes dedicated to spell casting.

Finally, 3rd edition AoS is deliberately decreasing game sizes, both in terms of the number of units on the table and the number of models in those units, likely in an attempt to make the game easier for new players to pick up. As a result, while Gravelords can still be a hoard army in the classic Warhammer Undead sense, those hordes are smaller now than they were in the past. Where it wasn't uncommon for Legions of Nagash armies in AoS 2nd edition to run well over 100 models (at least when they weren't fielding Nagash himself), relatively few Gravelord armies will reach that count. This can be viewed as a good thing - fewer models needed to purchase and paint to get an army together, but it does mean you get a bit less of that classic cinematic undead horde effect on the table. Instead there is a greater emphasis on our monsters like Mortarchs and Vengorian Lords and smaller elite units like Grave Guard and especially Blood Knights. Full elite Kastellai armies that eschew hordes altogether, instead fielding several minimum strength Blood Knight units, a couple monsrous heroes, and maybe some Dire Wolves or Fell Bats to screen your hammers and disrupt enemy tactics, are not only viable in AoS 3e, they may turn out to be the strongest Soulblight armies possible. Though much of that likely rests on the fact that Blood Knights seem to be pretty severely under-priced in their points cost, something likely to change the next time points costs are revised. With the 2021-22 matched play season set in the Realm of Beasts and focusing on monsters, you might even see Avengori armies with nothing but monstrous heroes, terrorgheists, and zombie dragons, with as few as 7 or 8 models total at the lower range.

Death Faction: Flesh Eater Courts

Narratively, thematically, the Flesh Eater Courts are an extremely compelling faction, full of tragedy, pathos, and dramatic irony. The mordants are the descendants of once proud peoples brought low by the most horrible circumstances and corrupted by their own desperate will to survive in spite of all hardship. They are led by abhorrants, the heirs of Ushoran, who somehow defied the evil of Nagash despite the fact that his bond as a mortarch was supposed to make such heroic defiance impossible. The punishment Nagash inflicted on Ushoran for his heroism was enough to break his mind, but was not enough to break his spirit. Both the abhorrants and their mordant followers are caught up in the Carrion King's delusions, seeing themselves as noble and virtuous paragons. On some refined level far removed from the nightmarish reality of life in the Mortal Realms, they're not wrong, but to everyone else around them, the Flesh Eater Courts are cannibalistic monsters, and one of the most grisly threats haunting the dark corners of the Realms. Indeed many have been so twisted that they've turned all the way around to become fanatic Nagash worshippers, their delusion clouded eyes seeing the hateful god of death as a benevolant god of divine order.

About the only problem with FEC on the narrative front is that the faction hasn't featured very heavily in the overall story of the game to this point. FEC communities have mostly been written as minding their own business until some other faction accidentally stumbles into their territory, or until some other, non-FEC Death character riles them up and points them at one of Nagash's enemies. IMO the lack of big named characters within the FEC faction is the main cause of this problem, as there aren't a lot of specific characters with defined motivations in the lore to drive FEC narratives. There are some rumors that this particular problem might get fixed in AoS 3e, though.

Unfortunately, while the concept of this faction is absolutely brilliant, the rule set and especially the model range can be a bit lacking. Rules-wise, FEC have one of the smallest unit rosters among the games factions, which means sub par or even just redundant units hurt much more than they do in other, more populous factions. And FEC do suffer from both problems. In redundancy, Abhorrant Archregents are basically just better Ghoul Kings on foot, and there's not a lot of mechanical daylight between Terrorgheists and Zombie Dragons. In terms of sub par units, the monstrous infantry don't make out terribly well with 3e's new unit coherency rules, and Crypt Horrors' lack of rend made them questionable combatants even before 3e. Meanwhile, basic Crypt Ghoul infantry are very highly priced in points considering how fragile they are. Furthermore, the new 3rd edition restrictions on command abilities significantly cut into the power of the faction's signature Feeding Frenzy ability, and warscroll battalions no longer being legal in matched play hurts FEC more than most.

That's not to say things are all bad, though. The abhorrant heroes have some strong spells and summoning abilities, especially the double-casting Archregents. Ghoul Kings on Terrorgheists and Zombie Dragons are among the deadliest hero-monsters in the game, and the Gristlegore subfaction lets you field unridden TGs and ZDs as battleline, so the faction can get a lot of mileage out of the new monstrous rampage rules and the new matched play season's focus on monster units. Other subfactions can also be strong, notably blisterskin with their faction-wide movement speed increase and battelline flayers. Even non-subfaction armies can be viable thanks to the delusion rules. Meanwhile Courtier heroes can offer some decent cheapish healing support and can get you extra battleline options, and varghulfs in particular can be respectable beatsticks in their own right. FEC armies can reasonably field monster mash, or flying circus, or big buffed ghoul hordes, or even use summoning to outflank and surround enemies, attacking from unexpected angles. That's a pretty impressive variety of builds and tactics from a faction with so few units to choose from.

The model range is a similarly mixed bag. The lack of available kits is an obvious problem that can make the faction pretty boring to collect and paint. In fact, the model range is so tiny that it doesn't even effectively cover the faction's already undersized unit range, as the varghulf courtier is still stuck with a stiff-posed old resin model, and there are no actual models for the ghoul, horror, and flayer courtiers. What you're supposed to do is take one model out of a box of the units and paint it fancier than the rest then... what? Throw the rest of the box in the garbage, since in AoS you can only take units in multiples of their box size? It's not as bad as it could be, since the Underworlds Warband can be used for ghoul courtiers and if you make a couple horror/flayer courtiers - even just one of each, then you won't have too many leftovers, but even so the situation is FAR from ideal.

On a more positive note, while almost all of the range are old Warhammer Fantasy holdovers, most of them do still hold up pretty well, at least in my opinion. Especially the big monsters, which have a layered 'rotting organs under tattered flesh and bones' effect that is very cool. Assembly of them is a bit of a pain, though, and you'll need to paint them in sub-assemblies to be able to reach all their nooks and crannies with your brush. Also, the tiny model range means you can get some of pretty much everything from their start collecting box, so you can build up the core of your army quickly and relatively inexpensively by grabbing a few of those. It's easily the best Start Collecting box available to any Death faction based on both utility of the models included and savings compared to purchasing the components separately, and as a result FEC are among the easiest armies to collect in Age of Sigmar - though they're very much not the easiest to play in 3rd edition so that holds me back from calling them a great starter army for players that are new to the game. But while the models mostly still hold up as 'generic cannibal monsters', they don't really do much to convey the faction's compelling lore and personality in AoS. No hints of their delusions, no glimpses of their internal nobility peeking out through their monstrous forms. That's not surprising since that lore didn't exist when most of this line was first created, but the disconnect between their cool and distinct lore and their considerably more generic models can be a bit disappointing.

13. The Age of Chaos: Nagash in the Shadows, and the Missing Souls.

The forces of Chaos scoured the Realms, warring back and forth against survivors, breaking apart into smaller tribes and warbands that slaughtered each other. Everywhere they went, the dead piled high in their wake, and in Shyish the dead do not rest easy. Soon every field hid a mass grave ready to erupt in a tide of deadwalkers. In every ruined fortress and city an army of skeletons stood ready to defend walls long ago breached and families long since dead. Cthonian monsters soared on ethereal winds, undying beasts stalked the woods, and vengeful ghosts haunted the night, eager to share their suffering with any living soul they encountered.

As hard as life was for the struggling survivors in Shyish, it was a nightmare for the invaders as well. Prideful Chaos Champions proclaimed that Nagash was dead, that the Great Necromancer was no more, that the Everchosen had ground his bones to dust, but the warriors and marauders who followed them still whispered in their tents that perhaps Nagash was not truly dead at all.

And they were right to fear, for Nagash was not dead. His broken body reclined unmoving upon a great basalt throne in the Abyss of Stygxx, but the remnants of his mind and spirit soared on the winds of Shyish. This vestige of nagash roamed to and fro, back and forth accross the length of his realm, stirring the dead and the undead to action against the forces of the enemy wherever he happened to find them, but that was merely incidental acts of frustration, it was not his true purpose. It was not quite time to rise up against the powers of Chaos. No, Nagash was searching for a thief.

In all the long centuries since his feigned defeat at Archaon's hands, Nagash's great works had proceeded as planned. Under Arkhan's guidance, a mountain of gravesand had been brought from the edges of Shyish to the inner heartlands one grain at a time, and construction of the Black Pyramid was well underway. Furthermore, in the hidden places of the other realms, the hidden catacombs of the Ossiarch Legions were nearly full with finely crafted undead bodies waiting for suitable souls to animate them. However, a bottleneck had formed in the supply of those souls. The realms were blanketed in the dead, there were no end of mortal souls to comb through, but souls with the specific attributes needed for Ossiarch soldiers - courage, valor, military training, tactical acumen - in a word, heroic souls? These had all but disappeared.

There were yet champions to be found in the realms, While surviving communities were few, centuries of war and hardship had honed those remaining populations to a razor's edge. Yet where these heroes fell, Arkhan's nighthaunt psychopomps found no fresh heroic souls to carry back to his workshops, only scorch marks and a hint of ozone. Someone or something was snatching up the heroes of the realms, including Shyish, in the moment of their deaths. And not just living heroes. With supplies of living souls cut off, Arkhan had turned to the tattered soul-vestiges of skeletal wight champions, but there too he was often stymied, with several deathrattle kingdoms that had continued the war against chaos even after death left leaderless when their champions had vanished.

If the souls of dead and dying heroes were out of reach, Arkhan was more than willing to turn to the souls of the living, his Legion of Sacrament appearing from the darkness to slaughter entire communities of survivors in order to harvest a mere handful of sufficiently heroic souls. Yet even here thieves had stymied his efforts, as several such communities - populations Arkhan had expended considerable resources to keep hidden from the forces of chaos specifically so he could harvest them himself - were found soulless and deserted, the population vanished but their treasures left behind and their buildings left undamaged. The only clue to their fate was a mysterious dampness and a crust of ocean salt.

The situation was desperate enough to wake Nagash from his sleep early, an action that had involved inviting an army of Nurgle warriors and demons to the very threshhold of Nagash's hidden sanctum in order to force the Great Necromancer to consciousness out of sheer desperate self defense. A risk, certainly, but a calculated one, and exactly the sort of judgement call Arkhan existed to make.

Now Nagash's invisible will, conscious but still fractured, still not fully recovered, ranted silently to himself as he scoured his Realm, seeking the identity of these Soul Thieves. Soon enough he found them. One of them, at least. For even as Nagash hunted for the lost souls that belonged to him, a handful of the stolen souls had been sent to Shyish to seek out Nagash.

Sigmar's stormcast had arrived.

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Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
All the stuff in the previous post? All of that's before the Age of Sigmar game even really started, setting backstory mostly inserted as after-the-fact retcons. The game 'Age of Sigmar' proper started with the Age of Sigmar, specifically the arrival of the Stormcast Eternals on the scene. First edition Age of Sigmar focused on the Realmgate Wars and the establishment of the Cities of Sigmar, and ended with the Malign Portents. Second edition Age of Sigmar - a.k.a. the Age of Nagash - started with the Necroquake, mostly focused on the Soul Wars, and ended with the Broken Realms. Third edition Age of Sigmar has only just started with the Dawnbringer Crusades, and it's too early to give it a cheeky nickname, though early signs point to an 'Age of Beasts', possibly even more specifically an 'Age of Dragons'.

The Age of Sigmar: the Stormcast Appear

In other realms the Stormcast arrived like bolts of lightning, crashing from the heavens straight into battle with the marauding chaos hordes, playing the part of glorious divine saviors to those few precious holdout communities that remained, a living sign that Sigmar had not abandoned the Realms after all. But in Shyish they showed a different face, slinking and skulking in the the shadows, meek and downcast, for in Shyish they didn't come to inspire hope in the mortals or fear in the enemy's forces, but rather to abase and supplicate themselves before Nagash, to beg on Sigmar's behalf for the Great Necromancer's forgiveness and aid.

To study Sigmar's curious new pets, Nagash placed Mannfred in their path, bound up in a trap enchanted to appear as though he had been contained within for ages. When the Stormcast discovered the vampire mortarch, he inquired as to their purpose, and they told him that they sought Nagash, in the hope of reforging Sigmar's alliance of the gods - the very alliance that Sigmar himself had destroyed with his betrayal and had further spat upon with his soul theft. Mannfred offered them a bargain - if they released him, he would lead them to the Starless Gate and Nagash's sanctum beyond. The Stormcast accepted, and Mannfred led them through a number of Shyishian dangers ranging from Chaos warbands to Flesh Eater tribes, that Nagash might study the Storcast in battle. They were mighty indeed, surviving far more than any mortal soldier could, and when they did fall in battle their souls blasted their way back to Azyr on bolts of Sigmar's lightning to be forged anew. A neat trick, if one that only hammered home how keen the Storm God was to deny Nagash his rightful due.

After testing their mettle - and weeding them down to a small and easily manageable group, Mannfred finally led the remaining Stormcast through the Starless Gate as promised, where Arkhan and Nagash were waiting to act out a little play. First Arkhan accused Mannfred of being a traitor, of trying to usurp Nagash and hand his realm over to the Dark Gods. He inquired how Mannfred had escaped the bindings Nagash had imprisoned him in for his crimes. And when Mannfred indicated that the Stormcast had helped him escape, Nagash emerged in all his fury, accusing the Stormcast and Sigmar of siding with the traitor. With the deception established, Nagash smashed the remaining stormcast, and plucked their leader's soul from the ether in the moment of his death, the will of Nagash overpowering even Sigmar's lightning, so that he could study their soul's inner workings as well.

These scions of the barbarian storm god were blessed with a portion of their master's essence, lightning magic of Azyr fused to their soul which could carry them from Azyr to other realms without relying on Realmgates. This magic also increased their strength, empowered their weaponry, and ensured their return to Azyr upon their defeat, that they could be reforged and sent back out into the realms again. They were encased in enchanted armor which Nagash realized was forged from the core of the Old World itself - it seemed Sigmar was sparing no resources in the construction of his new army. The gear was forged with a skill beyond anything the crude barbarian god was capable of. Nagash rightly guessed that Sigmar had recruited the Duardin god Grugni to help him there.

The physical forms of Sigmar's army were beyond compare. There were even some concepts that could be adapted for improvements to Ossiarch designs. But where the physical forms and equipment of the Stormcast were immaculate, the soul-work was worse than amateur.

Nagash had wondered why Sigmar even bothered offering this new alliance. If the Storm God had truly regretted his betrayal of Nagash, if he had honestly wanted the Great Necromancer's assistance in this Stormcast project, then he would have sought out Nagash from the beginning, would have asked for souls rather than stealing what rightfully belonged to Nagash. "Easier to ask forgiveness than permission" might be true for doting mothers and dottering nursemaids, but not with Nagash, and Sigmar had known the God of Death long enough to understand this. No, it was clear from studying the soul of his captive Stormcast that Sigmar had intended to bypass Nagash altogether, and had only been driven to beg for the Great Necromancer's aid in desperation after realizing how terribly flawed his creations were at their core.

For Nagash, that flaw was plain to see. Sigmar's reforging process, like everything the Storm God did, was clumbsy and brutal. It damaged the delicate workings of the soul, and with each reforging that damage would compound. This would manifest in clouded memories and progressive loss of humanity until, with enough reforgings, Sigmar's glorious army of saviors degrade into uncaring, unfeeling automotons, engines of destruction as dangerous to their own allies as to their enemies.

It would almost have inspired mirth in Nagash's mummified heart, but for the fact that this meant Sigmar had compounded his theft with the careless destruction of Nagash's property. Of course, Nagash could easily have corrected the errors in Sigmar's process, had he any desire to rekindle their alliance. If Sigmar had come to him to begin with, Nagash might even have considered doing so. But no, this too-late offer of alliance was just insult piled on injury.

Even so, Nagash had no desire to wage a war on two fronts. Hope was ever the Storm God's greatest failing, and it was Sigmar's hope that Nagash now played on to manipulate him, as the Stormcast he had laid low returned to Sigmar with news of their failure tempered with word of Mannfred's betrayal. Thus was a seed of hope planted in Sigmar's heart - had Mannfred, not Nagash, been responsible for withdrawing undead troops from the defense of the All Points? Nagash rejected alliance now, but could he be won over if his Stormcast repaired their mistake by re-capturing the traitor Mortarch? These seeds of false hope took root in Sigmar's heart as he prepared his next moves in ignorant accordance with Nagash's secret designs.

The Age of Sigmar: More Soul Thieves

Sigmar wasn't the only thief robbing Nagash of the Souls that were rightfully his. The Dark Gods continued to harvest the souls of their followers and their victims, and those dark champions who pleased them were granted immortality as daemon princes or merely restored to life each time they died in unholy defiance of the Natural Order of Death and the Supreme Will of Nagash. But the Dark Gods are the enemy, and their blasphemy was to be expected. The greater insult to Nagash came from the Incarnate Gods who should have known better, and indeed had agreed to subject their worshippers to the Law of Death when they joined Sigmar's Alliance, only to break their oaths and abandon their obligations when it became convenient to do so.

While sigmar's own crimes were the most brazen, those of the Aelven Gods were only slightly behind. Alarielle retained the souls of her Sylvanneth minions in an endless cycle of seasonal reincarnation - a perpetual life in flagrant violation of the natural order she claimed to uphold. But where Alariaelle simply denied her Sylvaneth the finality of True Death, the other Elven Gods took their crimes even further, restoring life to the souls of dead aelves that they fished up from Slaanesh's gullet in an outright reversal of the natural order.

Teclis, Tyrion, Malerion, and even the pretender-god Morathi each created new Aelven peoples in their own image which they used to settle Hysh, the Realm of Light, and Ulgu, the Realm of Shadow. While neither Realm was free from the taint of Archaon's Age of Chaos, the innate hostility of these Realms to the forces of Chaos, and the relative lack of Sigmarite human civilization, meant they received far less attention from Archaon than the other Mortal Realms. Later in the Age of Chaos and early Age of Sigmar, Archaon would track the traces of Slaanesh to Ulgu and Hysh, greatly increasing the pressure of invading Chaos forces, particularly Slaaneshi cults and daemons seeking their absent god. But early in the Age of Chaos Hysh and Ulgu enjoyed a reprieve while the rest of the Realms burned, giving the nascent aelven empires time to grow.

But where the taint of Chaos from without was, at least for a time, limited, the taint of chaos from within was readily apparent. The Aelven gods had ignored Nagash's wise council, but the truth of it was soon readily apparent, as the Aelven souls they dredged up from the bowels of Slaanesh were as corrupt as Nagash had revealed Morathi to be. Many were deeply physically tainted - as with the snake and harpy like Shadow Aelves among morathi's people, or the eyeless Namarti within Teclis's Idoneth. But the worst corruption was of a spiritual sort. Morathi's Khainite shadow aelves were bloodthirsty predatory murderers. The Idoneth souls were so corrupted that they couldn't even sustain themselves, forcing them to sustain themselves by stealing the souls of other mortals. Even Teclis was forced to recognize his failure, but at the same time he refused to destroy his abomination, instead releasing an entire civilization of soul thieves and into the seas of all the Mortal Realms.

Tyrion and Teclis thought they succeeded with the creation of the Lumineth, with their untarnished physical bodies and self sustaining souls, but even these eventually proved their corruption. The impulse to pride and excess instilled by their exposure to Slaanesh eventually drove their entire civilization to near collapse, a catastrophe they only averted and recovered from by the use of Hyshian realmstone to drain their emotions and suppress their own corrupt souls, leading to an empire that looks alive from without but is just as dead inside as any founded in Nagash's image. The fact that Teclis cannot see this only proves that the self-styled 'God of Magic' is as blind as his brother.

The Age of Sigmar: The Realmgate Wars

Archaon's greatest military asset at the dawn of the Age of Sigmar was control of the All Points - now renamed the Eight Points after the eight pointed star of chaos. As it had done for Sigmar's alliance when Archaon first invaded the mortal realms, this critical territory, with its huge gates to each of the Mortal Realms, allowed the legions of chaos to shift overwhelming force to a single Mortal Realm in response to any challenge.

Sigmar's first goal in his war to re-take the realms was to deny Archaon that advantage. Even his new stormcast lacked the power and resources to actually take any of the great realm gates, but if they could close them off then Archaons ability to move his armies between Realms would be dramatically diminished, while the Stormcast could ride bolts of Sigmar's lightning from Azyr to any other Mortal Realm without relying on gates at all. In the Realmgate Wars, the Stormcast succeeded in closing or destroying several gates, while also re-establishing relations with other Incarnate Deities & peoples of Order where they could.

In Shyish, hoping to find a more suitable voice to advocate to Nagash on Sigmar's behalf, the Stormcast helped break the seige of Neferata's capital, Nulahmia, and through her were able to establish contact with Arkhan, pleading ignorance of Mannfred's supposed betrayal and entreating the aid of Nagash. Arkhan informed them of Nagash's terrible anger, but suggested that if the Stormcast could recapture Mannfred then Nagash might be persuaded to help them retake the Death Gate at Gothizzar. Arkhan even claimed to desire the reforging of this alliance, and to prove his own good will, offered to help the stormcast in their endeavor.

Together they pursued Mannfred's trail through a realm gate into Ghur, the Realm of Beasts, eventually cornering the supposedly rebellious vampire mortarch, with Arkhan himself cutting Mannfred down. However, the vampire escaped. Even so, Arkhan and Neferata promised to entreat Nagash for aid in the assault on the Death Gate, and, relying on these promises, the Stormcast launched their assault on Gothizzar. In the end, though, Nagash's aid did not appear and the Stormcast army in Shyish was overwhelmed by Chaos forces and blasted back to Azyr in defeat.

This was Nagash's grand manipulation throughout the Realmgate Wars, offering the possibility of alliance through Neferata and occasionally Arkhan, gaining the aid of Stormcast forces to help break Chaos sieges of Death strongholds while never offering material aid in return. Thus Sigmar helped strengthen Nagash's position in Shyish even as Nagash's full resources were committed to the final stages of his own masterstroke. And whenever Nagash failed to deliver the promised support, Mannfred was always there to take the blame. As long as Sigmar could still convince himself that there was someone else to blame, that there was still hope to reforge their alliance, his Stormcast would never attack Nagash's forces directly.

Even without Nagash's support, the Stormcast assaults weakened chaos forces enough that Nagash was personally able to re-take Nagashizzar, after first freeing an entire legion of undead soldiers from the Cage of Bones, a chaos fortress built on the remains of the undead army left behind when Nagash was slain at the dawn of the Age of Chaos. Archaon himself took to the field to stop the Great Necromancer, but while he was able to drive Nagash from the battle, the great hoard of undead Nagash had raised overwhelmed the much smaller chaos army that Archaon had brought with him. Had Archaon valued the ruins of Nagashizzar more highly, he could have stopped this, but that would have meant leaving the vital Death Gate at Gothizzar vulnerable to Undead or Stormcast attack. Indeed, if the Deathgate had been taken or sealed behind him Archaon himself might have been prevented from returning to the Eight Points.

Besides, Nagashizzar's treasures were long since stolen, its towers reduced to rubble, and it's position seemingly held no great strategic importance. As far as Archaon could see, its only value was to Nagash's vanity, so why waste resources contesting it?

Of course, Nagash hadn't stepped out of Stigyxx for the first time since his great defeat purely for vanity's sake, and as skeletal laborers set to work rebuilding the fortress city of Nagashizzar above the ground, below ground a chasm was opened to make room for the construction of Nagash's last and greatest Black Pyramid, as massive blocks of Shadeglass, a refined form of the Shyishian realmstone gravesand, were transported from the abyss of Stigyxx for the final assembly.

The Age of Sigmar: Points of Light

The Realmgate Wars eventually stalled out as, after the closure or destruction of several gates, Archaon was able to focus enough strength on the defense of the remaining gates to prevent further successes for the Stormcast on that front. Even so, the movement of many Chaos legions had been hampered by the gates that had been closed, and yet more had been forced into a defensive posture to protect those that remained. Furthermore, while Nagash had seen through the Storm God's clumsy pretense of diplomacy, the Azyrites had successfully re-established ties to the Elven gods and to many surviving mortal communities throughout the Realms. With these gains, Sigmar was able to begin the work of building several massive cities to serve as the forward command centers of his push to reclaim the Mortal Realms.

These "Points of Light" were cosmopolitan places. Their populations included Humans, Aelves, Duardin, and more exotic folk, an uneasy mix of Azyrites who had sheltered through the Age of Chaos and those who had survived under Archaon's heel through stealth or strength of arms. Most included lesser realmgates within their walls, allowing them to sprawl over multiple Mortal Realms or even connecting them back to Azyr. All were built on the bones of ancient cities from the Age of Myth. Some were joint ventures built in concert with other gods, physical embodiments of Sigmar's new Grand Alliance of Order where Azyrite civilians and Stormcast shared space with Sylvaneth, or Lumineth, or the Daughters of Khaine, not always peacefully.

The forces of Chaos didn't suffer the construction of these bastions of Order and civilization lightly. Each of these cities were built under a constant state of siege, but with Archaon's forces temporarily on the back foot construction of the first great Cities of Sigmar was completed all the same. The undead played little part in these conflicts, though, as Nagash had no interest in Sigmar's offer of a renewed alliance, and his and Arkhan's personal legions were engaged in the final stages of the Great Work in Nagashizzar, regardless. Mannfred and Neferata did keep an eye on the conflict and construction however, via vampire led exploratory and infiltration missions. Neferata's Legion of Blood in particular was successful at inserting spies into these nascent centers of expanding Azyrite civilization.

While several such cities were built throughout the realms, the most prominent in Shyish, and the most profound insult to Nagash, was the city of Lethis in Stygxx, built on the shores of Lake Lethis, beneath which Nagash's secret refuge during the Age of Sigmar was hidden. The insult of its location was compounded by their tenuous alliance with a faction of Idoneth Deepkin, Teclis's ill-spawned race of corrupt sea aelves, soul-thieves in their own right.

There would be time to repay that insult, however, as by this point the Great Work was nearing its completion.

The Age of Sigmar: Malign Portents

Keeping the progress of the Great Work secret through much of the Age of Myth and all of the Age of Chaos had been a staggering task, testament to Nagash's staggering will and Arkhan's unflinching attention to detail. But now the Work neared completion, and the time for secrecy was passed. An array of inverted black pyramids rose into the air around Nagashizzar, with the greatest, as large as a mountain, blotting out the sky above Nagash's capitol city itself. These had been constructed from blocks of active Shadeglass, refined from the impossible quantity of gravesand that had been carried one grain at a time from the perimeter of Shyish ovet countless millennia by Arkhan's Legion of Sacrament, with each block etched in intricate arcane patterns by Nagash himself. As the Great Necromancer brought the pyramids into alignment and began the final ritual, the very fabric of reality in Shyish began to shudder, sending ripples out into the cosmos that would be impossible to conceal.

In every Mortal Realm, seers and soothsayers, diviners and stargazers found their visions overwhelmed by terrible signs of an unspeakable danger at the heart of Shyish. In the Varanspire Archaon's panicked Gaunt Summoners pleaded with their master to abandon the seige of Sigmar's Cities and even the defense of the remaining Eightpoints Realm Gates to throw all his available power at Nagashizzar. In Azyr, the seers and sign readers among the Stormcast urged Sigmar to do the same. But while both Sigmar and Archaon did send armies to Shyish, neither was willing to risk exposing weakness to the other to do so, so they sent nothing like the forces that would have been necessary to stop what was coming, and it was a simple matter for Mannfred's and Neferata's agents to lead the armies of Order and Chaos into each others paths, delaying and weakening the armies arrayed against Nagash long before they reached Nagashizzar.

Sigmar and Archaon weren't the only ones to act, however. Of all the powers in the mortal realms, the Great Horned Rat and the Council of 13 were perhaps the only ones who truly believed their prophets and seers about the impossible scale of the threat, partly because many of the Council of 13 are Grey Seers blessed with prophetic visions themselves, but mostly because the Skaven have had a unique understanding of the threat Nagash posed going all the way back to the World That Was. Time and again the Skaven had averted the most dangerous of Nagash's schemes, plots and rituals that otherwise would have spelled the doom of all life, but they had always done so from the shadows, averting apocalypses before the other races or even the other gods had to become aware of the true danger. So it was that the entirety of the Skaven civilization was bent to invading Nagashizzar. These efforts were aggressive to the point of carelessness - accidentally opened a large gnaw hole into one of the oceans of Shyish, flooding massive skaven caverns and much of their capital with water poisoned by the accumulated corpses of the ages and full of aquatic undead abominations. Even so, soon great legions of Skaven were marching on Nagashizzar through the tunnels and underworlds of Shyish, allowing them to bypass the conflicts between Sigmar's and Archaon's armies above ground.

However, these Skaven armies were also delayed, for a number of Moonclan grot shamen had entreated their own respective warbosses to send forces to Shyish, and once in the realm of Death these armies, like the skaven, preferred to travel in the lightless subterrainean caverns. Soon they crossed paths with the Skaven armies and, greenskins being greenskins, quickly fell to fighting whatever enemy there was to fight.

In the last hours of Nagash's great ritual, the remaining forces arrayed against the undead converged on Nagashizzar simultaneously, but it was too late. Even as the armies neared Nagash's capitol, the very Realm of Shyish around them was breaking apart at the seams. The armies of the living began to crumble under an incredible entropic force, warriors withering away to dust in mere moments. Chains of unliving steel burst from the ground to drag those more supernaturally empowered warriors - Stormcasts, Daemons, & the Chosen of Dark Gods - down into the prisons beneath Nagashizzar. A few managed to fight their way back out of those prisons, in the process freeing a number of legendary souls. But of the armies that had come to stop Nagash, not one even came close to disrupting the ritual.

And yet, as the final moments approached, something was wrong. The great pyramid began to sink, as Nagash intended, pulling with it all of the magic of Shyish. By moving so much realmstone from the Realm's perimiter to its center, Nagash had inverted the normal balance of magic. His intent was, through perfect alignment of the pyramids and their ritual carvings, that the pyramid would sink down, down, down, into Nagash, and would carry all the Magic of Shyish with it, the entire realm following on after, until the entirety of Shyish, the sum totality of Death itself, was contained within him. This was exactly what Nagash had attempted to achieve in the World That Was, only in one terrible moment that his foes would be unable to react to in time. As the Ur Death, Nagash would have been able to proceed from one realm to the other like the hand of a great implacable clock, snuffing out all life on each in turn with but a wave of his hand. Without mortals to feed them power the Dark Gods would then fall before him as well, leaving a perfect, silent universe where nothing could exist except for Nagash.

But as the pyramid began to descend, something was clearly throwing off its delicate balance. What had caused the misalignment? Casting his mind through the intricate inner workings of the Pyramid, Nagash found what he had missed, a handful of Skaven infiltrators, shrouded by spells woven by the Council of 13. Nagash killed them with a thought, but the damage was done. The great pyramid began to tilt, and to spin, and the whole ritual began to buckle and heave. Rather than collecting all of Shyish's power into himself, the ritual now threatened to destroy the Realm in a titanic explosion, shattering the other realms, dispelling the wards that kept the Dark Gods and bay, and worse scattering the power Nagash was meant to consume across the cosmos so thinly that even with an eternity of effort Nagash would never be able to collect it all together again. He could hear the laughter of the Dark Gods echoing in his head as his greatest work became his own undoing.

But the Great Necromancer did not despair. He threw his shoulder against the tilt and spin of the pyramid and with all his terrible strength and will he FORCED the entire mountain-sized pyramid back into alignment. As he did so the laughter of the Dark Gods died away, to be replaced the joyful, victorious laughter of Nagash.

The Age of Sigmar Nagash: the Necroquake, and the Nadir

Nagash's last second efforts saved the ritual from becoming a complete disaster, but could not salvage it entirely. As the colossal weight of Shyish's magic fell inward in the implosion, a portion richoched back out, crashing through the realms in a tidal wave of death magic that would be called the Necroquake. The effects of the Necroquake were catastrophic. Storms of magic sanks islands beneath the waves and threw mountains into the sky. Intricate rituals were torn asunder and artefacts of power overwhelmed and corrupted. Vampires, Necromancers, and other Death wizards found their magic empowered as never before. Some were overwhelmed by their own power - many vampires near the epicenter of Nagash's ritual were transformed into nightmarish Vengorian Lords by it - but those that mastered the energies of the necroquake were empowered as never before. By contrast, the wizards of Order, Destruction, and Chaos saw their magic twisted and corrupted in horrific ways. Spells were ripped from the minds and hands of their casters to take on malevolent, predatory lives of their own.

During the long Age of Chaos, Nagash's psychopomps had been restricted from acting. As a result, a great many souls of the dead throughout the realms had simply failed to make their way to Shyish, instead remaining bound to battlefields and mass graves where the marauders of Chaos had left them. The Necroquake tore these souls from their resting places, the overwhelming flood of death magic twisting them into maddened nighthaunts. Millions of such horrors were unleashed on every realm in a riot of murder and destruction. Dozens of settlements, fortresses, and even entire cities of the forces of Order, Chaos, and Destruction fell in a single apocalyptic night of ghostly horror, the victims own souls ripped from their bodies and converted into more Nighthaunt monstrosities by the same Death magic that had created and empowered the Nighthaunt tide. The soulless bodies, flooded with the power of Shyish, would often rise up as flesh hungry deadwalkers themselves, turning ever causalty suffered into a pair of new enemies to spread the carnage

The power of the Necroquake did not simply wash over the realm and then pass. Aftershocks of death magic echoed across the realms continuously, shuddering out from the core of Shyish or bouncing back off the barrier that encompased the Mortal Realms as a whole. These aftershocks turned the Nighthaunt horror into a perennial threat, another perpetual danger in Mortal Realms already ravaged by greenskin waaghs, beastmen tribes, chaos warbands, daemonic incursions, roving predatory monsters, and fiends yet stranger still.

Nagash's ritual had not succeeded, at least not fully, not perfectly, but none the less it had reshaped the Mortal Realms in his own image, and no Realm was changed more completely than Shyish. The Necroquake, the wave of Death Magic that caused so much devastation, wus but a tiny fraction of the total power Nagash's ritual had channeled. The remainder had followed the pyramid down, down, down into the center of Shyish. The disruption of the ritual caused by the skaven presence in the great pyramid meant the magic could not all be concentrated into Nagash's person. Instead it collected into his city, consuming Nagashizzar within the 'Shyish Nadir", to a black hole of death magic more concentrated than any arcane power in the history of creation.

The Nadir had become the metaphysical 'lowest point' in existence, realigning the leylines of all magic such that, for arcane purposes, "down" was no longer a subjective direction, but instead pointed towards Nagashizzar. From this point forward, all unbound souls would be inexorably drawn to the Nadir, to be torn apart and added to its power. With enough effort, rival gods could still hold on to their most favored servants, and Sigmar's Stormcast would still be carried back to Azyr on bolts of his lightning - tough the damage caused by his brutal reforging process would only increase - but psychopomps would no longer be necessary to collect errant souls, and Nagash would no longer face any difficulty collecting the resources he needed.

Nagashizzar itself was now far beyond the threat of any invading armies. Nothing that lived could exist there, and even daemons and Stormcast would be quickly ground to dust if they lingered there. Few undead could even withstand the concentration of entropic power within the Nadir for long. For Nagash and his closest servants, however, the Nadir was an infinite battery of Arcane power. The slight taint of chaos introduced by the Skaven meant that none, not even Nagash, could stay within the Nadir forever. Even so, the Nadir was a refuge which the Supreme Lord of the Undead and his Mortarchs could retreat to at any time to escape any threat, and they could easily endure it's oppressive power long enough to fill them with unimaginable arcane power they could then use to annihilate their enemies or conduct necromantic works the likes of which had never been seen before.

The Nadir didn't just change Nagashizzar, either. Rather, it redefined the entire Realm of Shyish. No more would new afterlives and underworlds form in storms of wild magic at the perimeter of the realm. Instead the edge of Shyish was now a baren wasteland, devoid of both magic and life. The heartlands near the center of the Realm, once the most stable region, were now the least stable, rocked by the malevolent energies of the Nadir. As the mortal souls of these regions, both living and dead, fall deeper into despair, so are their lands pulled closer to the Nagashizzar, eventually breaking away to be devoured by the Nadir and converted back into the pure Death Magic from which the lands had originally been created, adding to the Nadir's power, causing it to grown in size and increase its pull on the lands that remain.

In time, when generations of battling the Nighthaunts had numbed the peoples of the Mortal Realms to their horror, when the Nadir had existed long enough that mortals could believe it had simply always been there, when the shame of the abject failure of combined armies of every other Grand Alliance to stop Nagash had faded out of memory, some would try to claim that the ritual had been a failure, an embarassing defeat for Nagash. But the Necroquake and the Nadir had reshaped the Mortal Realms and fate itself to Nagash's favor, leading to further events that would see the forces of the Death God marching from victory to victory. Nagash's ritual may not have been The End of All Things as he had intended it to be, but it was none the less a victory of staggering proportions, and may yet prove to have been the begging of the end Nagash sought.

The Age of Sigmar Nagash: The Mortarch of Grief

The flood of Nighthaunt created by the Necroquake caused a terrible blow to Nagash's foes that well served the Great Necromancer's designs, but they were unfocused and undirected, more a supernatural disaster than an army. They might stream through an enemy fortress or city slaughtering all life inside, but the angry spirits, driven into a maddened frenzy by the Necroquake, would not stay to capture and garrison the site, instead abandoning it in search of new victims. Likewise, when faced with defenders equiped to battly spectral foes - walls blessed and enchanted to bar their passage, foes equipped with enchanted blades capable of tearing apart their incorporeal bodies - the maddened Nighthaunt were incapable of organizing a coordinated assault, let alone staging a patient siege, instead simply throwing themselves at the enemy until their strength was expended.

To truly capitalize on the opportunity the Nighthaunt represented, they would need leadership, a commander capable of collecting and binding the angry ghosts into an army. Any of his mortarchs, and indeed many lesser vampires and necromancers, were capable of binding a number of Nighthaunts at a time, but for what Nagash envisioned he would need to delegate a more signifant share of his power and authority. Arkhan could have been trusted with this, the Mortarch of Sacrament's attention was now wholly dedicated to completing the Ossiarch Legions now that the Nadir was drawing in a wealth of souls to use as raw materials. Both Mannfred and Neferata were capable of serving, but Nagash did not wish to divide the authority over these new Nighthaunt forces, nor was he willing to upset the carefully balanced rivalry between the Soulblight Mortarchs by granting this authority to one or the other. No, Nagash would require a new Mortarch for this purpose, and he cast his Nadir-enhanced senses out over the wreckage of his Realm in search of a suitable candidate.

This he found the the haunting specter of Lady Olynder of Dolorum. Nagash had wiped out her people and cursed her to carry the sorrow of all the Mortal Realms for her betrayal at the outset of the Age of Chaos. Either punishment would have shattered the pride and resolve of most rulers, but Olynder possessed a drive and ambition that outlasted her own life and that of her subjects. In the centuries since Nagash had passed judgment on Dolorum Olynder had claimed dominion over the ghosts of her former people. Their spectral undead state had given them the martial strength that they had lacked in life, and Olynder had use this not just to retake Dolorum and defend it from Chaos incursions, but to expand her realm as well. Even more impressive was how she had mastered her own curse and turned it into a strength. Experiencing all the sorrows of the Mortal Realms gave her intimate familiarity with the misdeeds, regrets, and weaknesses of her enemies and rivals. Likewise, any mortal or spirit who looked upon her stricken face would experience a fraction of her suffering, a side effect of her curse that she ruthlessly weaponized against any who opposed her. By turning her suffering into strength and Nagash's punishments into gifts, Olynder had become a queen far more glorious and terrible in death than she had ever been in life, and a wicked embodiment of Nagash's vision for the Nighthaunt as a whole.

So it was that Nagash elevated Olynder as the Mortarch of Grief, and gifted her supernatural chains forged from his own authority over the spirits of the dead with which to bind the great hordes of Nighthaunt horrors created by the Necroquake into orderly Processions capable of enacting the Great Necromancer's will with ruthless precision. While Arkhan was busy completing the Ossiarch Legions, and Neferata and Mannfred were tasked with taking advantage of the devastation unleashed by the Necroquake to reconquer regions of Shyish currently held by Chaos forces, Olynder and her Nighthaunt Processions would be Nagash's primary weapon against the forces of Sigmar and his Grand Alliance of Order in the early days of what would be called the Soul Wars.

AoS Death Faction: Nighthaunt

The Nighthaunt existed before the Necroquake, both in universe and in the game, in the form a handful of ghostly units that had been part of the old Warhammer Fantasy Vampire Counts army, and were carried forward into the Vampire Counts Compendium, the Grand Alliance: Death book, and the Legion of Nagash battletome. But the Necroquake in the lore, and the release of Age of Sigmar 2nd edition in the game, saw the Nighthaunts expanded into a faction of their own with a whole range of new models. The Nighthaunt share a number of characteristics with typical Warhammer Undead, with a core of weaker infantry hordes that rely on recursion mechanics for defense and buffs from nearby heroes for offense, though, as with other warhammer undead factions, there are more elite units available that can be used for non-hoardy builds.

However, the Nighthaunts have a couple characteristics that really set them apart, including ethereal saves which cannot be modified, making even the weaker nighthaunts more durable than regular undead. The faction is also much faster than typical Warhammer undead, with higher movement speeds than average and flight for all units. Additionally, fully half the units in a nighthaunt army can deep strike, and between that and their flight and higher movement speed the army can really be wherever it wants right from turn one. That's not even the limit of their movement shenanigans, with additional teleportation options available. The Nighthaunt faction does share the typical Warhammer undead preference for melee combat over ranged attacks, and their deep strike and teleportation options come with the typical 'must deploy more than 9" from enemy units' restriction, which means Nighthaunt armies are often praying for long bomb charges, and the faction doesn't get much extra help in making those. However, you do get to fight an extra round of combat with units that roll big on the charge dice, so those units that do land those long bomb charges hit harder to make up for units left standing around. And if you're lucky enough to get a double turn then those units who failed the initial charge will get to casually slide into combat anyway. Taken together, the speed, teleportation, and focus on hard hitting long bomb charges really help to establish the Nighthaunt as the sudden assault shock troops of Nagash's forces. These rules also help to create narrative battles on the table with beleagered enemy forces beset by a rush of angry ghosts appearing as if from nowhere all around them.

Unfortunately, the reliance on either making long bomb charges or getting the double turn can make the overall faction very swingy. Sort of a 'Win Big or Go Home' sort of faction, one that sadly trends towards the 'Go Home' end of things. That's not their only weakness either - Nighthaunt rely heavily on their heroes for buffs and support auras, but despite their ethereal saves those heroes are very vulnerable and easily picked off by enemy armies with even a little bit of shooting or offensive magic, although the 'Emerald Host' subfaction rules introduced in Broken Realms: Belakor do help with this, specifically the ability for Emerald Host Hexwraith units to take wounds for nearby Nighthaunt heroes. Another issue with Nighthaunts is the significant redundancy in their units. There are several units - Grimghasts, Bladegheists, Dreadscythes, etc - that are all minor variations on 'semi-elite ethereal infantry', with very similar stats, abilities, and mechanics. Likewise there are arguably too many variations on '5 wound ethereal support hero with short range aura buff'. This leaves the overall faction with far less variety and versatility than the unit count would imply, and several units that feel pretty disappointing, since they're basically just a worse version of some other unit in the same faction.

Nighthaunt also have had a bit of an awkward transition into the newly released 3rd edition of AoS. Not the most awkward transition, but one of the more notable changes in AoS 3e is the many ways to get a +1 armor save buff onto your units and heroes between the new mystic shield spell, Finest Hour heroic action, and All Out Defense command ability, and the Nighthaunt's Ethereal rule means exactly none of those apply to them. 3rd edition AoS, and the current matched play season especially, put a lot more emphasis on monster units as well, and Nighthaunt options in that area are all but non-existant, with access to monster units only via allies or Forgeworld units.

Entirely apart from the various mechanical challenges confronting the Nighthaunt army, there's also difficulties just collecting them. Some key options - like the Mounted Knight of Shrouds and the Guardian of Souls wizard - were only available in the now discontinued 2nd edition 'Soul Wars' starter set. Even if your local store still happens to have one lying around, and you can find a Stormcast player to split it with, it's still not a great purchase for Nighthaunt players due to a particularly awkward unit selection. 5 glaivewraiths when the unit is only playable in multiples of 4, 4 grimghasts when the unit is only playable in multiples of 10, a spirit torment which really wants to be run with chainghasts, but chainghasts only come in a box that includes another, better looking spirit torment anyway, etc. The army's basic hoard infantry unit, Chainrasps, are currently only available in boxes of 10 for us$40, which is a positively attrocious price point for hoard infantry. If the 'Mortal Realms' magazine promotion was available in your local area you might still be able to get them for a better price than that on the secondary market, but if not then you're probably going to want to skip typical hoardy builds for more esoteric elite builds altogether. Such elite builds are typically stronger, but also more vulnerable to fluctuating points costs, as a number of early Grimghast spam players discovered to their detriment in the early days of 2nd edition.

On the up side, the model range is great - at least the models that aren't oldhammer carry overs. They have a consistent aesthetic style with empty shrouded bodies, ghostly hands, and skeletal faces that just looks good and creepy. They also lend themselves to relatively fast and easy paint jobs since you can get a lot of the work done with time saving techniques like washes, drybrushes, or airbrushing. The models can be a bit fragile, though, so if you want to get into nighthaunt you'll definitely want to look into magnetized storage and transport options. The lore is also great, with many Nighthaunt units defined by ironic punishments handed down to them by nagash, punishments that in turn become their deadliest weapons against the living, further serving Nagash's ends. A great example are the Dreadscythe Harridans, who during their lives defied the natural law of Death through their work as healers, so in death have had their hands turned into horrific bladed claws so that they harm everything they touch. This same pattern is repeated throughout the range, but it never gets old. This is also a key theme in Lady Olynder's backstory, which helps tie her and her faction together in a satisfying way. This also does a lot to characterize Nagash, helping to define his personality and sense of humor, which is really nice in terms of building the overall undead lore in AoS, even though Nagash is sadly not currently a playable model in Nighthaunt armies.

Overall Nighthaunt are a cool looking and very flavorful faction. However, their various mechanical hangups, the struggle adapting to 3rd edition, the need to rely on multiple faction rule sources (the Nighthaunt Battletome and Broken Realms Be'Lakor at least) and in particular the difficulty of just collecting the models in the first place are enough that I can't really recommend them to new players right now. If you're sure they're the army for you, then have at it, but if you're on the fence with the Nighthaunt, I honestly suggest waiting for their 3rd eddition battletome release. That should fix some of their 3rd edition transition issues, and hopefully should come with a repackaging of some of their available model range to make the faction a bit more collector friendly.

The Age of Sigmar Nagash: Soul Wars

The Soul Wars were the series of conflicts throughout the Mortal Realmss that followed the Necroquake and the devastating but unfocused initial wave of Nighthaunt attacks. The remaining Nighthaunt hordes, now bound into coherent processions by Olynder's authority, launched campaigns in several Mortal Realms targeting the settlements and supply lines of Nagash's enemies, harvesting souls and striking back at the Soul Thieves - Sigmarites, Aelves, & Chaos Powers - who dared to usurp Nagash's authority over the dead. Though the more established cities & centers of military power managed to hold out, the losses suffered were crippling and many smaller settlements fell altogether. Archaon's forces, already struggling to maintain control over his unimaginably vast Realms-spanning dominion under pressure from the Stormcast, were forced back at an accelerating rate, and the expansion that Sigmarite and Aelven domains had managed to achieve during the early Age of Sigmar through hard fought battles against the forces of Chaos was largely halted, and in some places reversed, for many mortal generations.

The fiercest battles of the Soul Wars were fought in Shyish, with Arkhan leading a combined army of Nighthaunts and corporeal undead against the city of Glymmsforge and Olynder leading her own Legion of Grief, spearheaded by her spectral procession the Emerald Host, against the city of Lethis. At first both attacks seemed to be a matter of satisfying Nagash's pride and ego by attacking Sigmarite strongholds in his Realm of Shyish, but while Nagash would have gladly seen these bastions of Sigmarite civilization wiped from Shyish, in both cases the targets were not the cities themselves but what lied hidden beneath them.

The City of Glymmsforge was built atop the Ten-Thousand Tombs, the silent resting place of an entire army of spectral soldiers. Arkhan sought these souls, either as an elite cadre of Nighthaunt warriors or, more likely, as raw material for the Ossiarch Legions. In the end, though, Arkhan undermined his own assault in order to bring about a moment of direct communication between Nagash and Sigmar, for the Mortarch of Sacrament had come to believe that only by working together could the forces of Order and Death fight back the powers of Chaos. This interaction did not lead to a renewed alliance between the two, but Arkhan is, if anything, even more unfathomably patient than his master, and the Gods of the Heavens and the Underworlds, while still enemies, had at least oppened communications. And while Arkhan neither overthrew Glymmsforge nor captured the Ten Thousand Tombs, his armies did manage to capture a great many souls of the city's most valiant defenders, including a number of Stormcast Souls that Arkhan had devised a means of trapping before the lightning of Sigmar could carry them back to Azyr, and these souls would serve well in the creation of more Ossiarch soldiers.

The more vital target, Lethis, was assigned to Lady Olynder, a sign of Nagash's confidence in his new mortarch, and a test of her competence. Late in the age of Myth, Teclis had gifted Sigmar with a number of 'Enlightenment Engines' - arcane devices designed to expand the throughts and awareness of mortals in their presence. Sigmar had taken these gifts and inverted their energies, creating 'Penumbral Engines' which clouded the awareness of objects in their vicinity, hiding whatever was placed near them from all memery and perception, and used these to conceal a number of 'Stormvaults' - great storage houses where Sigmar hid artifacts and entities that he could not destroy and yet considered too dangerous to let free in the Mortal Realms. The Necroquake had disturbed the delicate operation of the Penumbral Engines throughout the Realms, revealing their existance to Sigmar's allies and enemies alike, and leading to a scramble of battles to take or secure their contents.

The City of Lethis was built atop such a Stormvault, the Midnight Tomb, where Sigmar had desperately hidden a number items that he had captured during his rampage through Shyish during the early period of the Age of Chaos. And among those treasures was one that Nagash could feel keenly the moment the Penumbral Engine that concealed the Midnight Tomb started to fail. That this treasure hadn't been lost, but merely concealed from him filled the Great Necromancer with joy, while the realization that it had been so close throughout the entire Age of Chaos - with Nagash himself recuperating in the Abyss beneath the lake of Lethis that the city boardered, was an infuriating insult. Yes, he wanted the city destroyed for that insult, but Olynder's orders were far more specific - smash her way into Lethis, break open the Midnight Tomb, and return Nagash's treasure to him.

The assault on Lethis was brutal and sudden, but also extremely costly to Olynder's forces. Lethis was well defended by a combined Order force, including a number of Fyreslayer mercenaries and significant Stormcast host who had come to defend the Midnight Tomb, including the Celestant Prime, the first and greatest of the Stormcast Eternals. At first it seemed these forces would be enough to hold back Olynder's Nighthaunt army, until the Fyreslayer mercenaries, furious when they discovered that the leaders of the city had no intention of actually paying the agreed price, abandoned the battle, leaving the gate they had defended open to the Nighthaunt invaders. Once inside the city, Olynder made stright for the Midnight Tomb, where the Celestant Prime was waiting for her. And though Sigmar's second in command was mighty, his strength could not match Olynder's determination to succeed at this first and most vital task that Nagash had assigned to her. The Mortarch of Grief bested her Stormcast counterpart, cracking the seal on the Midnight Tomb and releasing Nagash's imprisoned treasure, the immortal soul of Katakros, Mortarch of the Necropolis.

AoS Death Faction: Legion of Grief (deprecated)

The Legion of Grief was intended to represent the personal forces of Lady Olynder during the early period of the Soul Wars, particularly during her assault on the city of Lethis, as the rules for the Legion of Grief were introduced in the 'Forbidden Power' campaign expansion which covered that conflict. The Legion of Grief had access to all Nighthaunt units, plus a few units from the Legions of Nagash, and used Legions of Nagash allegiance rules (gravesite summoning and recursion) instead of Nighthaunt allegiance rules (deep strike and bonus combat rounds for big charges). The extra healing and re-summoning options provided by LoN allegiance rules mad ethe Legion of Grief a much more reliable and just generally stronger way of playing Nighthaunt armies, albeit one that was less mechanically distinct and required a pretty hefty and increasingly obscure extra purchase on top of the battletome to access the rules, an unfortunate recurring pattern for Nighthaunt armies in 2nd edition AoS.

While the Legion of Grief rules still exist, and you could conceivably still run them in casual games if your opponents permit, they did not make the official transition to 3rd edition Age of Sigmar, so they are no longer an official faction in the game. Narratively, the Legion of Grief's role as 'Olynder's personal army' has been replaced by the Emerald Host rules in broken realms Be'Lakor, which have no particular resemblance to the Legion of Grief's mechanics. Furthermore, the Legion of Nagash allegiance abilities themselves were heavily redesigned in their own transition to the new Soulblight Gravelords battletome, so even if you did want to do a Legion style army but with Nighthaunt units for casual games, it would still probably be better to write your own homebres rules based on the new versions of those allegiance abilities from the Soulblight book.

The Age of Sigmar Nagash: A Tithe of Bones

With a wealth of heroic souls claimed in the Soul Wars, Arkhan was finally able to complete the Ossiarch Legions - or at least bring them up to a strength sufficient to unleash them on the Realms, and with the return of Katakros's soul - now housed in an ossiarch body of sublime perfection, Nagash once again had a worthy general to command his new legions into battle. The gates of the hidden Ossiarch tomb complexes buried in the most inhospitable corners of the Mortal Realms were thrown open and the Legions marched forth. Most made their way by long forgotten Realmgates to the blasted ruins of Ossia in Shyish. Others began to fortify and expand territory in the other Mortal Realms. Ossiarch construction and expansion moved quickly, for their laborers required neither food nor sleep and their architects worked according to shared design principles etched into their very souls. The Ossiarch Legions were an undead force like nothing the Mortal Realms, or even the World That Was, had ever seen before. As relentless as wights, as intelligent as vampires, yet completely untainted by the mortal flaws, doubts, or desires. The Ossiarchs were perfectly unified in their pursuit of the Great Necromancer's grand design, capable of working both entirely autonomously or in unnerving synchronicity with their fellow Legionairs, and they switfly began laying the foundations of the great Necropolis that was Nagash's grand vision for the Mortal Realms.

The Ossiarchs constantly hungered for resources to fuel their rapid expansion. Some of these were mundane resources that any expanding empire required - the stone and metal to build their structures, realmstone for more arcane purposes. The two most critical, and unique, resources for the Ossiarchs however were souls and bone. Souls the Ossiarchs had in relative abundance thanks to the Nadir and to Olynder's successes in the Soul Wars, but no amount of bone could ever be enough. The Ossiarchs were the greatest manipulators of bone in all Shyish, able to shape bone into whatever form they desired, then infuse it with necromantic enchangments to change its properties, making it hard as steel, as strong as stone, as flexible as rubber, or impenetrable to spectral and daemonic forces. Humanoid bone was preferred, especially for the construction of new Ossiarchs, as the remains of sentient life were best suited to channeling the will of new sentience, but lesser qualities of bone were still useful for reinforcing structures, roads, bridges, or constructing animated beasts of burden. Even Ossiarch steel had bone dust added in the smelting process, allowing it to carry necromantic enchantments.

After all the slaughter of the Age of Chaos, there were no shortage of mass graves, abandoned battlefields, pillaged villages, & burned wild lands to harvest bone from, but Nagash had a plan to ensure a steady supply of more valuable humanoid bone while simultaneously weakening his enemies. As the Necrotopian Empire grew and inevitably began to run up against mortal lands, Ossiarch diplomats would presented their new neighbors with a simple demand. "The dead belong to Nagash, as promised by your ancestors and your gods in the Age of Myth," they would say. "For millennia this debt has gone unpaid, but the Lord of Death has returned, and now demands his due. We trust that your people have meticulously catalogued all their dead in the ages since Nagash last walked the lands, and are now prepared to hand over the carefully preserved remains of each and every one. No? Oh, how unfortunate. But the Great Necromancer is nothing if not merciful, and we are prepared to negotiate a reasonable Tithe of Bone."

Those who refused from the start were met with overwhelming force, crushed beneath the heels of Ossiarch armies that outnumbered the beseiged population 2 or even 3 to 1, with lines of massive unilving catapults to smash their walls and ranks of heavy cavalry to run down fleeing survivors. Only a scant handful were allowed to escape to carry the story of what had happened to other mortal communities, so that when the Ossiarch diplomats came to those lands, the Tithe really did seem to be a reasonable price to avoid such a fate. Of course, reasonable was almost always carefully calculated, by Ossiarchs assembled from the souls of only the most meticulous accountants, to be ever so slightly more than the population in question could sustainably pay.

The first payment was almost always payable from the settlement's existing graveyards and cemetaries, but as the ossiarchs returned generation after generation, the supply of the already dead would be expended, and the settlement would begin to have to take sacrifices from the living, either offering a few of their people, or taking toes or fingers from every citizen. Over time the population would grow smaller and weaker until they could no longer pay at all, and the Ossiarchs would then harvest the remaining dregs of the population with ease. In this way the growing Ossiarch empire was able to harvest a steady supply of humanoid bone and weaken their mortal neighbors while conserving most of their military strength for the war on Chaos.

Different Ossiarch Legions had different roles in the Tithe. The brutal, uncompromising, life-hating Stalliarch Lords demanded impossible tithes of weak settlements, and slaughtered the mortals who were inevitably unable to meet those demands. In this way the less extreme demands of other legions would seem all the more reasonable. The Crematorians, based on earlier, more experimental Ossiarch designs, were sent to devastate more proud and powerful cities which were sure to refuse the tithe but which were sufficiently defended to make any subsequent seige costly. The bodies of the Crematorian were unstable and prone to exploding when damaged, so the defenders' own strength would only accellerate the destruction of their cities. For his part, Katakros took direct command of the Mortis Praetorians, the largest Ossiarch legion, and began building the core of their Necropolis empire atop the ruins of his ancient home of Ossia. The Praetorians took advantage of spreading stories of the slaughter and devastation suffered by those who had refused the demands of the Stalliarch Lords and Crematorians to extract a more reasonable Tithe from the more pliable mortal settlements they boardered, and carefully avoided coming into contact with better defended Cities of Sigmar in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts. With massive resource collection and minimal resource expenditure, the Mortis Praetorians were able to amass a colossal fighting force in a few short mortal lifetimes.

Arkhan himself 'rewarded' his Legion of Sacrament, the undead soldiers and spellcasters that had labored for ages to bring the Ossiarchs into being, by making them the first victims of the Tithe of Bone. Vampires who had brought entire civilizations to their knees in Arkhan's name, Necromancers who had studdied at his feet since the early days of the Realms, all were hauled away screaming to suffer the same fate as the common skeletons and zombies. Their bones were harvested to construct more ossiarch soldiers, and their arcane talents were teased from their souls to add to the abilities of the Mortisan caste. Their shocked betrayal was discarded with their rotting flesh, deemed to be without value by the Mortarch of Sacrament. Most of the Legion of Sacrament's physical and spiritual remains went to the Null Myriad legion. The bones of the countless skeletons who had carried grains of gravesand across Shyish for the construction of the Black Pyramid had become infused with the entropic energies of Shyish's realmstone, making the Myriad's soldiers particularly resistant to the magics of other realms. For this mighty contribution to the war effort, Katakros rewarded Arkhan with direct command of the Null Myriad.

AoS Death Faction: Ossiarch Bonereapers

The Ossiarch Bonereapers are the newest and most experimental undead faction in both the lore and in the game generally. Even the more recent Soulblight Gravelords are basically just reverting the already existing Legions of Nagash faction back into their prior Vampire Counts identity, complete with a range of new models that would have looked right at home back in Warhammer Fantasy Battles. By contrast the Ossiarch Bonereapers are new, fresh, and unmistakably Age of Sigmar, with a cartoonish high fantasy aesthetic that, like their Stormcast counterparts in the forces of Order, is unashamedly toyetic. The bonereapers would be more at home in an episode of He-Man than they would in the Old World. Naturally, this leads to strongly divergent opinions on the look and feel of the faction. Some hate it, and I can absolutely understand and respect that opinion, but personally I love these guys. From the goofy grinning face masks of the Mortek Guard to the Soulmason's walking bone-throne to Katakros's polished ivory codpiece, I knew I had to have an army of these bone boys from the moment they were first previewed. Honestly, my only complaint about the model line is that the Mortek Guard could maybe have stood to be a bit taller. But that's all aesthetics, as for how they play....

The Ossiarch Bonereapers represent Nagash's vision of a perfect undead army, one that retains the strengths of classical undead - including strong heroes & support magic, and recursion effects to keep the soldiers fighting long after mortal soldiers would have succumbed to their injuries - while avoiding the traditional weaknesses of the undead. In particular, while traditional mainstay undead units are weak and fragile, relying on hero support to function at all, individual Ossiarch units are already strong & tough in their own right, and able to provide their own support abilities even if their heroes have been slain or are busy elsewhere. Where hero & magic support raises normal undead from weak to passable, it raises ossiarch units from a strong baseline to frightening power. More typical undead armies do have access to a handful of stronger, more elite units, but elite units in those armies generally don't have the keywords to benefit from their faction's buffing and healing abilities. For example, Blood Knights in a Soulblight Gravelords army are a very strong unit, but they aren't 'summonable' so they can't benefit from a necromancer's "Danse Macabre" spell, nor from a Vampire Lord's healing invocation. That's not the case for the Ossiarchs, were even their elite units and characters can be healed by a Boneshaper or gain extra attacks from a Liege Kavalos.

The unique nature of Ossiarch command is represented by their 'Relentless Discipline' rule. This prevents Bonereapers from using normal command points and command abilities, instead generating Relentless Discipline points to activate their own unique command abilities. In 2nd edition age of sigmar, this was very powerful, basically a beta test version of 3rd edition command point rules - including generating the points at the start of each battle round, having more to work with but not being able to save them for later rounds, and unit champions being able to issue commands to their own units without the need for a nearby hero. As a result, Bonereaper armies basically got to make more and better use of command abilities than any other faction in 2nd edition. Unfortunately, that's changed with 3rd edition. Now every other faction has access to several command points per battle round and champions that can issue commands to their units. Worse, core Command Abilities are now much more numerous and much more important. Bonereapers having no access to command abilities like 'redeploy' and 'all out defense', which are fundamental to how the game is played in 3rd edition, is a heavy blow. Finally, some of the new restrictions on command abilities in 3rd edition, in particular each unit only being able to issue or receive one command ability per phase, means Bonereaper armies can't even always make meaningful use of the Relentless Discipline points you are able to generate each turn. Things aren't as bad as they were at the start of 3rd edition thanks to a recent errata that allows you to use the same command ability multiple times in a single phase if you spend Relentless Discipline points to activate it, so long as new units are issuing and receiving the ability each time, and since that errata the faction functions much less awkwardly, but the overall situation is still a significant downgrade from 2nd edition relative to every other faction in the game.

And that's not the only weakness of the faction. Despite Nagash's lofty vision of undead perfection, the Ossiarchs don't avoid all the traditional failings of the undead. In particular, Bonereaper armies tend to be relatively slow, particularly their staple Mortek Guard infantry units. Bonereapers are in fact the slowest undead army in Age of Sigmar. Even the skeletons and zombies of the Soulblight Gravelords can use gravesites for forward deployment, where Ossiarchs have to shuffle across the board normally. As with other undead armies, the Ossiarchs do have access to some faster unit - most notable the battleline Kavalos Deathriders - but while you wouldn't call Deathriders slow, they're not terribly fast by the standards of most cavalry units. The faction does have a universal command ability for +3 movement speed, and thanks to the recent errata you can now once again use the ability multiple times in a single phase in order to move your whole army forward in the first turn, then shift your Relentless Discipline points to more offensive and defensive command abilities as the game progresses. This certainly helps matters significantly, but if you build your army with enough RDP to move everything up in the first turn, you might not be able to effectively use all those points in later rounds once you get stuck in.

The problem of low speed is compounded by another weakness of the faction - all their strengths come with some relatively high points costs. While every undead faction has access to some elite units, the Bonereaper faction is comprised of nothing but elite units. Bonereapers are far from the most elite army in the game, but you can usually expect to be outnumbered both in terms of total models and total units on the table. Bonereapers are tough enough to hold the objectives they capture all day long, but between their lack of board presence and the relatively low speed of their individual units, the army can have a hard time reaching key objectives to begin with. This also means tactical errors in deployment or early game movement can be difficult or even impossible to correct on later turns.

It's not all bad, though, and the Bonereapers do retain many unique strengths. For example, traditional undead have been vulnerable to crumbling if the heroes that control them are slain or driven off. In Old Warhammer this was represented by explicit crumbling rules, but in Age of Sigmar this has generally been conveyed by large undead infantry units being highly vulnerable to battleshock, even despite the high bravery of the undead, which meant large undead units relied heavily on 'Inspiring Presance' from nearby heroes in order to survive long enough for their faction's healing abilities to kick in and help them win a battle of attrition. The Ossiarchs, on the other hand, are completely self sustaining, requiring no outside control or animating influence. In game, this is represented by the Ossiarch Bonereapers being completely immune to battleshock across the entire faction. Where some of the Bonereaper faction traits have gotten worse in the transition to 3e, this trait is arguably even stronger now, since Inspiring Presence is now limited to once per turn.

Additionally, the new coherency rules in 3rd edition Age of Sigmar heavily favor two kinds of melee units - 25mm base infantry, which can maintain coherency in a single line base to base or attack in two ranks even with 1" reach weapons, and 5 model elite units, which is the largest unit size that still uses the old style coherency rules. The Ossiarch Bonereapers happen to have strong units of both types available as battleline - Mortek Guard and Kavalos Deathriders. This gives the faction multiple options for sturdy, reliable battleline units to build around, With Kavalos units in particular looking to be more prevalent going forward than they have been in the past.

3rd edition, especially the 2021-22 Matched Play Season, also heavily favors super unit 'god' models, particualarly those combining the strengths of 3e's monster, hero, and wizard rules. Bonereapers have some great options for high priced centerpiece generals - both Katakros and Arkhan are solid options in 3e, with Arkhan in particular benefiting from the changes to Mystic Shield and Arcane Bolt (though do be aware that errata has removed his ability to multi-cast Mystic Shield). Of course, if you really want to play into this god=monster meta then few big centerpiece models make more of an impact on the table than Nagash. His command ability is a bit weaker for Ossiarchs than for Soulblight since the Bonereapers are already immune to battleshock, but that's more than made up for by Nagash's ability to heal himself and benefit from subfaction rules in Ossiarch armies, as well as the more favorable spell lore, particular 'Protection of Nagash' which allows some cheeky teleportation shenanigans.

And even that's not the full extent of Ossiarch strengths in 3e. Their unique endless spells have gotten stronger, particularly the Bone Tithe Shrieker which now blocks Inspiring Presence. Necropolis Stalkers and Morghast Harbingers are more effective now that giant units have been limited by the reinforcement rules. 'All Out Defense' does cut into the offensive impact of Mortek Crawler catapults, but they remain an effective and potent tool for threatening enemy units at range, particularly 5 wound support heroes and wizards. And the Harvester is a very nice mixed utility piece, with healing, melee punch, and 3e's new monster abilities as well. Bonereapers are still a relatively young faction, with a fairly shallow selection of units, but most of those units are quite solid, allowing for a surprising variety of at least casually viable builds.

Ossiarch Bonereapers are absolutely in an awkward state right now, if maybe not quite as awkward as Nighthaunts thanks to the recent errata to Relentless Discipline. In 2e Bonereaper armies were ahead of their time, like they were running an early version of 3e, but in 3e it's almost the opposite, like they're trapped playing 2e while the game's moved on around them. This is frustrating, and if you're on the fence with the Bonereapers, not quite sure whether you're ready to commit, then it might be a good idea to hold off for now and wait to see if a future battletome smooths over the gaps. However, if you already have a Bonereaper army, or if you're just completely sold based on their narrative and model range alone, then ignore the nay sayers and jump in.

The Age of Sigmar Nagash: Death Comes for the Chaos Hordes

While Lady Olynder was directing the Soul Wars against the bastions of Order, the soulblight mortarchs, Mannfred and Neferata, were busy reclaiming their ancient holdings from the forces of chaos. Though Mannfred had no particular sentimental attachment to Carstinia, he could plainly read the shifting balance of power within Shyish, and knew he would need control over his own territories if he wanted to maintain his personal power. Carstinia and its gloomy capitol of Sternieste had always been a downgrodden land, poor in natural resources. What treasures it did contain were well hidden, and thus even though Mannfred himself had abandoned his hold, it still managed to go relatively unravaged by the forces of chaos. There simply didn't seem to be anything worth plundering, certainly nothing that warranted crueling and costly marches through Carsteinia's haunted forests and zombie-choked swamplands. It didn't take Mannfred long to clear out the chaos forces that had infested his lands.

Neferatia, however, had been a prized jewel of Shyishian civilization during the Age of Myth - Neferata's queenly pride could allow nothing else - and its capital city of Nulahmia had been a beacon of trade, learning, and culture, attracting fabulous wealth and no end of arcane treasures to Neferata's lands. During the Age of Chaos this had invited constant attention from powerful warlords and daemon princes of the dark gods. Nulahmia itself had managed to just barely survive a centuries long seige, which had been broken during the Realmgate Wars with the help of the Stormcast Eternals. Since then, Neferata had reclaimed significant territory around Nulamiah, fighting back chaos forces and gloomspite hordes alike, but the bulk of what had once been Neferatia was now part of the Khornate emprie of Angaria, ruled by the Hyshian daemon prince Graunos. Through a series of subtle manipulations, Neferata was able to lure Graunos's forces into a single great battle, but where Graunos expected to face Neferata's Legion of Blood in open war, he instead was forced to watch in impotent fury as the mad Banshee Kranyax crashed the floating underworld of Velkan down onto his armies in her desperation to recover the Crown of Anguish, which had been stolen by one of Neferata's agents. Neferata's Legions then moved in to slaughter any survivors. The cataclysm of Velkan's destruction caused earthquakes throughout the entire Realm of Shyish, scarred an entire continent, annihilated the most powerful chaos empire in Shyish, and snuffed the life out of the hundreds of thousands of mortals that Neferata had saught to rule. This mattered little to Neferata - her subjects would serve her just as well in death. What did matter was the unmistakable message to all the Mortal Realms of just how far the Mortarch of Blood would go to claim what was hers.

Meanwhile the Bone Tithe continued to do its work of quickly expanding the Necrotopian Empire and extorting vital resources from neighboring mortal settlements through intimidation, keeping costly military expenditures to a minimum. Within the span of a few short mortal lifespans, Katakros's Ossiarch Legions had built up a military force to rival any other in the Mortal Realms, and extended their territory to striking range of Gothizzar, the great chaos fortress built around the End Gate connecting the Eight Points to Shyish. Recognizing that his legion's greatest strengths were in fortification, defense, and slow but implacable expansion rather than sudden shock assaults, Katakros had Nagash recall Lady Olynder and her personal Nighthaunt procession, the Emerald Host, from the Soul Wars in order to aid in the attack on Gothizzar. Finally the opportunity presented itself - Katakros's spies informed him that the Everchosen left the Eight Points at the head of a massive chaos warhost, launching an invasion ingo Hysh and Ulgu in search of the captive Chaos God, Slaanesh. Sensing their opportunity, the two mortarchs launched their attack, taking Gothizzar in a single terrible night of battle, streaming through the End Gate to crush the chaos defenders on the Eight-Points side of the gate, and then erecting a massive Ossiarch fortress of enchanted bone to secure the End Gate. After fighting off reprisal attacks from a number of warlords still active in the Eight Points, and still no sign of Archaon, Katakros realized the path was open to the Varanspire itself, the very seat of Archaon's power. This opportunity was too great to ignore, so Katakros and Olynder led a joint army on Archaon's capital city - even as the supply lines of the Necrotopian Empire in Shyish worked around the clock to funnel more soldiers and resources into further fortifying the Death Gate.

Katakros & Olynder's army had breached the Varanspire's outer walls before an enraged Archaon finally returned to defend his throne. The Everchosen had successfully found Slaanesh, but was forced to abandon the Chaos God before the Dark Prince could be freed in order to meet this challenge to his control over the Eight Points. This would give the Aelven Gods time to move Slaanesh's hiding place, forcing the hunt to begin all over. The Everchosen vented his wrath on the undead armies, defeating both and smashing Katakros's physical form. But the spirit of the Mortarch of the Necropolis simply retreated to the fortress of Gothizzar, now firmly under ossiarch control, where a new body had been prepared for him, and Olynder soon followed. The undead losses at the Varanspire were negligible, and in the meantime the Ossiarch defenses around both sides of the Death Gate had become one of the most impregnable fortresses in all the Mortal Realms, in preparation for Archaon's inevitable counter attack. However, before the Everchosen could launch his counterattack and put the Ossiarch defenses to the test, the Realms would be shaken by a series of events that would forever change the balance of power, and shatter the Grand Alliances as they had existed to that point.

The Age of Sigmar Nagash: Broken Realms and the Fall of Nagash

Since the Necroquake, Nagash's forces of Undeath had marched from one victory to another. Partial victories, sure. Never complete or unqualified. But nobody said annihilating the stain of life from the Mortal Realms would be easy. Nagash's great ritual hadn't given him the strength to wipe out his rivals outright, but it had provided him with a nearly bottemless supply of necromantic power, awakened a spectral warhost large enough to threaten all the other realms, completely derailed the ambitions of his divine rivals by casting their various arcane works into disarray, secured a steady flow of souls, and revealed the location of the long missing Mortarch of the Necropolis. Yes, the Seige of Lethis had failed to wipe the City from the face of Shyish, but it succeeded in freeing Katakros, giving the Ossiarch Legions the commander they needed to march. Olynder's Soul Wars had put the other Grand Alliances on a back foot, forcing them into a defensive posture and preventing them from making any significant gains in the other Mortal Realms. Meanwhile, between the Soulblight Mortarchs reclaiming their ancient holdings and Katakros expanding the Ossiarch Necropolis, much of Shyish had been brought back under Nagash's Control. The Undead had even managed to take and hold territory within the Eight Points, the very heart of Chaos Power in the Mortal Realms, something no other faction, not even Sigmar's vaunted Stormcast Eternals, had been able to accomplish.

It was a difficult road, and there were set backs, but all in all matters had been progressing in the Great Necromancer's favor for several centuries. But behind the scenes resistance to the advancing armies of Death throughout the Mortal Realms was building, and rival gods and would be gods had been preparing designs of their own - designs that would disrupt the status quo throughout the Realms.

Morathi had long pretended to represent the dead Aelven god Khaine while aspiring to true godhood herself, and in a daring scheme that played the forces of Chaos and Sigmar against one another she finally succeeded, using the multi-elemental Realmstone of the Eight Points to be re-born as Morathi-Khaine, shedding her monstrous physical body, which gained life of its own as Morathi the Shadow Queen. Not content with mere ascention to godhood, Morathi also betrayed Sigmar, conquering and claiming the Sigmarite city of Anvilguard and adding it to her growing dominion. She also secured an alliance with the Idoneth Deepkin, Teclis's abandoned children. Tensions had long been building between Sigmar and the Aelven Gods, ever since their actions had drawn the attention of the Chaos Gods, and with Morathi's betrayal of both sides of this divide was the final catalyst tearing the Grand Alliance of Order to pieces. Worse, the lingering connection to Slaanesh from Morathi's time in the Dark Prince's gullet channeled some of the power of her divine ascension to the captive Chaos God, enough for pieces of Slaanesh's essence to break free from their bindings, becoming the twin Newborns of Slaanesh.

Teclis might have managed to prevent this rift, but he was focused on his own plans. The proud Aelven god had taken Nagash's ascendency as a challenge to his own divine dominion over the arcane arts, and Nighthaunt assault on Lumineth settlements were an insufferable injury layered upon that insult. With the still echoing reverberations of the Necroquake and the endless well of power in the Shyish Nadir, Teclis knew he had no hope of challenging the Great Necromancer within Shyish itself, so he instead schemed to draw Nagash into a conflict in Hysh. To begin with, while the bulk of Nagash's undead legions were engaged in various wars against Chaos, A small but elite force of Lumineth invaded Shyish. They didn't target inportant supply lines or key fortifications, nothing which could mount a prolonged defense, but instead targeted monuments to Nagash and Bone Tithe collection points, and other outward signs of Nagash's dominion. The attack caused no real damage to Nagash's plans, but the god of Death was as proud as Teclis, and could not let the insult go. Still, he would not be drawn into needless conflict, not when he was making significant progress in battles agaisnt the true enemy, so Nagash dispatched Arkhan to answer Teclis's challenge.

Arkhan led an ossiarch invasion force of Mortis Praetorians and his own Null Myraid through a realm gate into Hysh. There the Mortarch of Sacrament met up with a kingdom of Nagash-worshipping Mordants hidden in the mountain hinterlands of Hysh. Together the Ossiarch and Flesh Eater forces battled against combined Lumineth and Sigmarite forces, while behind them Arkhan's mortisan acolytes harnessed the echoeing energies of the Necroquake to prepare a ritual which would have relocated the Shyish side of the realm gate to Nagashizzar, at the heart of the Shyish Nadir. If they were successful, the Hysh side of the gate would have effectively become a small Nadir itelf, and started to tear apart Hysh much as Shyish itself was being torn apart.

While a competent field commander, Arkhan is no great general, and they Hyshian forces were able to outmaneuver the Mortarch of Sacrament, simultaneously stoppint the ritual and cutting Arkhan off from his escape back into Shyish. The undead army first retreated into the Mordant's territory, but the Ossiarchs, running low on supplies, attempted to tithe their Flesh Eater allies, causing the alliance to collapse into infighting, which left Arkhan's forces even weaker when the Lumineth pursued them. Arkhan was driven to the very edge of Hysh, where he believed the swirling storms of uncontrolled light magic would be too dangerous for mortals to follow. Yet the Lumineth, driven on by the spirit of Eltharion, who had been slain by Arkhan in the Old World, pursued all the same, driving the undead off the very edge of their realm even as their own bodies were turned to crystal. Eltharion himself cast Arkhan from the brink, seemingly destroying the mortarch utterly - though the ancient Nehekharan had suffered seemingly final fates before.

The destruction of Arkhan - who embodied the bulk of Nagash's self restraint and critical thinking skills at the best of times - drove the Great Necromancer into a fury the likes of which the Realms had never known, and he strode into Hysh like a walking apocalypse, laying waste to multiple armies simultaneously. Teclis engaged the Great Necromancer in a desperate arcane duel, but it seemed as though the Aelven god was overmatched even in his home realm. Only the timely intervention of Alarielle, goddess of life, allowed Teclis to endure long enough to spring his trap, immobilizing Nagash long enough for a fleet of Luminarks to burn away his Physical Form, allowing the grievously wounded Teclis to banish Nagash's spirit, sending it screaming back to Nagashizzar in tatters. Nagash's own death-cry provided the necromantic power Teclis needed to work the final part of his plan, stilling the echoes and aftershocks of the Necroquake.

The Nadir would remain, its power would ensuring that Nagash would need far, far less time to restore himself than he had after previous defeats. But even temporary as it is, Nagash's fall was still a mighty setback for the forces of Death. Temporarily free from the Great Necromancer's collar, the mortarchs immediately fell into infighting. Manfred and Neferata abandoned their own missions from Nagash in order to war with each other over territory in Shyish. Katakros was left to defend the Ossiarch foothold in the Eight Points with significantly reduced resources funneling in from Shyish as mortal settlements, given hope that Nagash could be opposed, began to refuse the Tithe. Olynder, whose Nighthaunt Processions had relied upon the aftershocks of the Necroquake to stay invigorated and replenish losses, now needed a new source of souls to maintain her own grip on power. The Realm of Shyish remained an inhospitable nightmare for the living almost entirely under the dominion of various undead factions, but as the power of the Necroquake faded away and the forces of the undead collapsed into petty infighting or returned to Shyish to shore up their individual claims, the long night of the undead that had settled over the reast of the Mortal Realms finally began to lift... only for a new darkness to take its place.

With the Grand Alliances of Order and Death collapsing, a united Grand Alliance of Chaos might have seized the opportunity to crush the Mortal Realms once and for all. However, unity is one thing the forces of Chaos have in short supply. The worshippers of the Dark Gods like the Dark Gods themselves, are by nature selfish and factional, seeking conquest over each other as much as over their enemies. For the entire Age of Chaos, Archaon had kept his Grand Alliance in line by shocking acts of violence, sheer despotic force of will, and an aura of inevitability. Yet cracks had begun to show in the Everchosen's facade. He had failed to penetrate the gates of Azyr, had failed to stop Sigmar's Stormcast from closing several major Realmgates to the Eight Points, had failed to prevent the Necroquake, had failed to free Slaanesh, had failed to prevent the ascension of a new rival deity, and now the forces of Nagash occupied territory within the Eight Points itself. These signs of weakness invited pretenders to his throne, and none had more ready a claim than Be'lakor, the First Prince, Daemon of Chaos Undivided, and former Everchosen himself.

Be'lakor had gained considerable face during the undead attack on the Varanspire when he defeated and banished Lady Olynder's spectral form in the skies where all the chaos forces could witness his victory, and though the First Prince wasn't ready to challenge the Everchosen directly, he had other plans that would draw further power and glory away from Archaon and towards himself. Be'lakor recognized that the strongest pillar in Archaon's power base was the Eight Points and their Realmgates. Even with a few gates closed and one in Ossiarch hands, Archaon could still move mighty armies of Chaos Mortals throughout most of the Mortal Realms with dire speed. Be'lakor's own Daemonic Legions had significantly less need of realmgates. Yes, they could be redirected to the Chaos Realms to allow for daemonic incursions, but sufficiently bloody rituals conducted by the chaos fanatics that still infested all the Mortal Realms but Azyr could conjure daemonic legions even without the aid of Realmgates. The only faction that could move as quickly from one Mortal Realm to another without the use of Realmgates was Sigmar's Stormcast Eternals. Thinking to strike rival and enemy alike, Be'lakor devised plan to destroy all the Realm-gates on the Eight Points in a chain reaction beginning with the destruction of a Silver Tower, larglely destroying Archaon's usefulness to the Dark Gods, and channel the arcane storm such destruction would unleash to creat a great cloud of chaos magic, blocking the Stormcasts ability to ride Sigmar's lightning between the realms.

Be'lakor could not be seen to act against Archaon by attacking the Silver Towers openly, however, so instead he created an opening for the Seraphon to do so. The attack didn't go quite as Be'lakor had hoped, with the Silver Tower landing in Chamon, the Realm of Metal, rather than the Eight Points. The Mortal Realm was too large for the chain reaction to destroy all of its Realmgates, but Be'lakor found an unlikely ally to help him finish the job. Olynder had placed a curse upon the First Prince when he defeated her during the seige of the Varanspire, establishing a connection that Be'lakor was able to use to contact the Mortarch of Grief, esplaining his plan and offering all the Stormcast souls that would become trapped in Be'lakor's Realms-spanning shroud of darkness were it to succeed. Olynder agreed, seeing this plan as a way to secure the power of her Nighthaunt processions now that the Necroquake's energies had been stilled. Together the First Prince and the Mortarch of Grief succeeded, destroying the remaining realmgates in Chamon, cutting the Realm of Metal off from the other Realms and creating a shroud of darkness that trapped the Stormcasts in whatever realm they found themselves in. No longer could they ride Sigmar's lightning from Azyr to any battlefield that needed them, and once slain they would no longer be able to ride the lightning in their souls back to Azyr for reforging. Instead, the dark shroud between the realms would deliver their souls to the Mortarch of Grief, an unholy ransom paid to forestall the effects of Olynder's curse on Be'lakor's soul.

Meanwhile in Ghyran, the Realm of Life, Alarielle had been putting the finishing touches on a grand ritual of her own. Before Teclis's battle with Nagash, Alarielle had been preparing a rite that would unleash a flood of life magic, to counterbalance the echoing death magic of the Necroquake. With the Necroquake already stilled, however, this act wouldn't restore balance, but rather create a new imbalance in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, it was too late for Alarielle to forestall her plans, and even if it hadn't been, the Realm of Life remained beset by foes on all sides - Nurgle infestations, undead incursions, hordes of beastmen and greenskins, and now Be'Lakor's dark cloud - and Alarielle would not abandon a source of power she could use against her foes, even if it came at the cost of further destabilizing the Mortal Realms. as the effects of Alarielle's Rite spread through the realms, the forces of Death outside of Shyish were further diminished, and Alarielle's Sylvanneth were greatly empowered, especially in Sylvaneth. But so to were wild creatures and peoples throughout the realms, from beasts of chaos and greenskin tribes to great predatory monsters of all sorts.

In Ghur, the surging life magic was enough to awaken Kragnos, the God of Earthquakes, a mighty spirit of destruction that had refused and opposed Sigmar's Grand Alliance in the age of Myth, and subsequently been imprisoned by the combined strength of Sigmar's Pantheon and the mage-priests of the Seraphon. Now free, Kragnos became a mighty rallying point for the forces of Destruction in Ghur, attacting massive stampedes of Orruks, Ogors, and Gargants.


Thus ended the would-be Age of Nagash. The undead accomplished much, but whether they can hold onto their gains with the Necroquake stilled, Alarielle's Rite of Life further suppressing death magic in the Realms, Nagash and Arkhan temporarily out of the picture, and the remaining Mortachs turning their efforts towards their own petty rivalries is an open question. One thing is sure, though - Nagash won't be gone for long. And If Olynder's death curse was enough to threaten the First Prince of Chaos, Nagash's own death curse will prove far more terrible still. he place where the God of Death fell has become an open wound in Hysh that will never heal, and the self-styled God of Magic can already hear the Great Necromancer's hollow laughter echoing from his own festuring injuries. Alarielle may have saved Teclis during the battle with Nagash, but for how long remains to be seen.

The Age of Sigmar: The Dawnbringer Crusades

The combined events of the Broken Realms have caused tremendous upheval throughout the Mortal Realms. Old alliances have collapsed, and many dangers new and old now wander the Realms. The forces of Destruction are ascendant with Kragnos's awakening, as are daemonic forces under the First Prince and the Newborn Twins of slaanesh. Chamon has been almost entirely cut off from the other Mortal Realms, and Be'lakor's Dark Shroud limits the Stormcasts' ability to defend those beacons of Sigmarite civilization that survived the Soul Wars.

However, the Soul Wars are difinitively over. The people of the Mortal Realms no longer face a constant seige by the spectral dead. Archaon's Realms-spanning empire of chaos is also in decline, forced into a defensive posture by the thread of the Ossiarchs in the Eightpoints and no longer able to move power as freely throughout the relams with more and more key Realmgates closed to them. Alarielle's Rite of Life has further suppressed the undead and bolstered the living, improving their health, bolstering their spirits, and increasing the fertility of their crops and their peoples alike. While many dangers remain, and their once strong Grand Alliance falling apart, now is also a time of growth and opportunity for Sigmarites, Khainites, Duardin, and Lumineth alike.

Sigmarite civilizations in particular prepare great Dawnbringer Crusades - might expeditions of Azyrites marching out of the gates of the various Cities of Sigmar in the hopes of founding settlements that might grow into new Cities in the future. To support these heroic undertakings, Sigmar has prepared a new order of Stormcast soldiers filled with enough divine power to punch through Be'lakor's dark cloud. These new Stormcasts are less stable than the previous sort - prone to spectacular explosions when they fall in battle, and require even greater expenditures of the Storm God's power to create, limiting their numbers. They are strike teams to bolster existing forces, not a way to move armies freely between the realms as Sigmar had before, and the bulk of stormcast armies are reduced to marching through Realmgates like mortal soldiers, but even so these new Stormcast remain an invaluable weapon and a useful tool to raise morale among the common Sigmarites.

This is a period of growth and expansion, not one of death and decay, but even so the threat of the Undead remain. Olynder's bargain with Be'lakor continues to pay dividends in captured stormcast souls, Katakros's Ossiarch empire continues to expand and fortify its boarders even within the Eightpoints, flesh-hungrey Mordant Courts still fester in the hidden corners of the realms, and while the various Soulblight Dynasties have fallen into infighting and battles over territory, the danger they pose to the mortal populations caught between them has only increased now that Nagash no longer has his skeletal hand on their leash. In the Realm of Beasts alone multiple Flesh Eater Courts, the the Ivory Host bonereaper legion, and the monstrous Avengori Soulblight Dynasty are all active already, and as the return of Kragnos draws more eyes to Ghur the ambitions of other deathlords are sure to follow.
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Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009

That should be good enough. I'll be coming back to fill this out over the course of the next week or so. Please feel free to offer feedback or corrections.

Disciple of Nagash

Staff member
Feb 12, 2008
Brilliant, just seen this. Already looking great. I've written up a super high-level one here for those jumping straight back and linked to this. I'll include the links for the specific army threads when you get around to them as well


Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
I'm making some corrections as I go. Most minor, but some are pretty major. The biggest two are that the wind of Azyr did not get pulled along with the core of the old world on Sigmar's celestial journey. The core went on its own with Sigmar, and Azyr stayed behind to form its own Realm just like all the others. The other is that great realm-gate from the Allpoints to Shyish is the 'Endgate', not the 'Starless Gate'. The Starless gate is instead the access point to Stygxx, the underworld where Nagash spend the Age of Chaos hiding and recuperating in after his defeat at Archaon's hands.

Disciple of Nagash

Staff member
Feb 12, 2008
I was going to read it, but I've decided I'm not going to spoil it for myself, I'll wait until it's done and enjoy it all together!


Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
My current painting project has been really coming down to the wire, I maybe committed to a bit too much for a single month, and it's had a negative impact on other projects (commission painting, DMing a D&D group, this thread, homebrew project, housework, etc). Today's the last day of the current pledge, & I've learned my lesson & will pick a more reasonable committment for July which will leave me time to catch up here & elsewhere.
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Jun 15, 2021
My current painting project has been really coming down to the wire, I maybe committed to a bit too much for a single month, and it's had a negative impact on other projects (commission painting, DMing a D&D group, this thread, homebrew project, housework, etc). Today's the last day of the current pledge, & I've learned my lesson & will pick a more reasonable committment for July which will leave me time to catch up here & elsewhere.
I hear you there. Last month was basically my father, uncle and other uncle redoing the second floor of the house (I'm in the attic) which basically ruined my ability to do painting because no power for about six days on and off, and the constant work.


Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
Update: the rest of the Age of Myth and most of the Age of Chaos lore done, along with a brief description of what the Legions of Nagash book was. Still need to do write ups for the death factions that become relevant during the Age of Chaos (Soulblight Gravelords, Flesh Eater Courts), tie off the end of the Age of Chaos, and move on into the Age of Sigmar.
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Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
First draft of the Age of Sigmar 1st edition lore is up. It'll all need cleanup still, but that'll come later. Please let me know if I made any significant factual errors.


Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
Added basic write ups for Nighthaunt and Legion of Grief. I have little experience with either faction, so any feedback from actual Nighthaunt players would be appreciated to be sure I'm not steering folks wrong.

I also need to go back and revisit the Soulblight and FEC sections in light of 3e changes, and will be looking for feedback from players after I do, but I'm not ready for that quite yet.

As always, I am trying to spin all the lore descriptions from a Death-oriented, pro-Nagash perspective, but if I have anything factually wrong, or I spin anything to the point of being misinformative, please let me know.


Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
OBR description is up. Closing in on the end of the first drafts, once that's done I'll go back and start clean up work. As always, if I'm making any significant factual errors, please let me know.


Master Necromancer
True Blood
Sep 23, 2009
First draft of everything done. Major copy editing needs to follow - lots of typos, lots of awkward wording. I also might pull out the bits talking about the various death factions and put them in the third post, separate from the lore description. That might make more sense.

Anyway, as always feedback is appreciated, especially in terms of accuracy, particularly with the broken realms stuff, much of which I'm coming to second hand. I did deliberately try to give everything an undead slant, but I don't want to be outright misinformative.
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