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Homebrew: Isabella, Mortarch of Shadow


Master Necromancer
Homebrew version of Isabella as a mortarch on Dread Abyssal.

When Nagash called his new mortarchs, the Mortarch of Shadow, a silent knight wearing Vlad Von Carstein's armor, carrying his sword and ring, and wearing a helm that covered their face stood among them. Many assumed the Mortarch of Shadow to actually be Vlad, but in truth it was his lost love, Isabella Von Carstein.

In the World that Was, she had once abandoned her immortal life in grief at her husband's death. In the End Times, however, she had been reborn as a servant of chaos, and Vlad had sacrificed himself to free her from the clutches of Nurgle. Though she felt the pain of grief no less keenly than she had at Vlad's first death, this time Isabella could not bring herself to throw away the life that her beloved Vlad had sacrificed himself to save. Instead, she resolved to honor that sacrifice by carrying forward her husband's legacy, and one day rebuilding the home they had once ruled together.

Amongst the other Mortarchs, only Arkhan, who was privy to almost all of his master's secrets, and Neferata, who had carried Isabella from the final battle after Vlad's sacrifice, knew the truth. But even they might have wondered at the Mortarch of Shadow's identity, for she led the undead legions at her command with all of Vlad's honor, cunning, and ruthlessness. Nagash's enemies came to fear and respect the Mortarch of Shadow's reputation, and many of those who faced her chose to willingly submit. All of those who did not came to wish they had.

During the Age of Peace that followed the formation of Sigmar's Grand Alliance, Isabella founded a new city-state, Drakkenhold, in the image of old Sylvania. There she also created a new vampyric aristocracy, one sworn to the defense of the land's mortal inhabitants in exchange for a willing tithe of life blood. Vampires who abused this bargain by hunting or slaying the citizens of Drakkenhold were personally executed by their mortarch ruler.

During the wars to unify Shyish under Nagash's rule, Manfred, like most of the other mortarchs, had assumed the dread knight that bore the Carstein Ring to be Vlad himself. Mannfred in particular avoided the Mortarch of Shadow during those early campaigns, fearing his sire and waiting for an opportunity to outmaneuver him through guile, rather than risk direct confrontation.

When he heard rumors of the city of Drakkenhold, Mannfred attempted to infiltrate its vampyric aristocracy, slaying one of the lesser vampire acolytes and disguising himself to take their place. He hoped to weasel himself back into Vlad's inner circle and make another bid to steal the ring, but when he discovered that it was not Vlad but Isabella who wore the ring, he instead revealed himself openly, mocking Isabella, and laughing at himself for avoiding 'Vlad' for so long and spending so much time trying to come up with plans to steal the ring through deceit or treachery when he could have just taken it by force. Isabella listened to all of this with a steely face, while the lesser vampires in her court shrank into the shadows, not wanting to be caught in the middle of what they knew was coming.

When Mannfred finally finished monologueing and lunged forward to take the ring by force, the Mortarch of Night was in for an unpleasant shock. Mannfred had no respect for Isabella, seeing only the love-struck girl, impossibly out of her depth, that he knew in ages past. Since he had avoided the Mortarch of Shadow on the field, he had no idea of her present power, and thought her but a pretender hiding behind her fallen husband's legacy. Thus he was unprepared for her to slap aside his attack with contemptuous ease, and counter-attack with a vicious strike that cut into Mannfred's undead flesh, immediately putting him on the defensive and fighting for his life.

With neither side holding anything back, the duel began to drag on, though with Mannfred already grievously injured, Isabella's victory seemed inevitable. Hoping to regain an advantage, Mannfred unleashed a torrent of baleful magic, forcing Isabella back and buying him time to work a much more potent spell. Harnessing his power as the Mortarch of the Night, Mannfred plunged the bright moon above the castle into an eclipse, drowning Drakkenhold in inky blackness. Mannfred drew renewed vigor from the unnatural gloom, his strength growing and his wound beginning to heal, but too late he realized his error. The Mortarch of Night may have been empowered by darkness, but the Mortarch of Shadow was darkness itself. Isabella's blade, Vlad's blade, bit into Mannfred from every direction, her mocking laughter echoing from everywhere and nowhere at once.

Desperate, Mannfred banished his spell, but when the moonlight returned, he found himself standing in an empty field. The castle, the entire city of Drakkenhold, was nowhere to be seen, and though he searched far and wide, hunting after rumors of its location, he never found it again.

When the alliance between the gods was broken and Chaos returned to the mortal realms, Isabella used that same power as Mortarch of Shadow to shroud her realm in a spell of darkness, hiding it from the eyes of the chaos gods, moving it from place to place within the Realm of Shyish such that none who stumbled upon it once might ever find it again, except by her invitation. In this way Drakkenhold survived through the Age of Chaos, fighting off the occasional roving warband, but never having to face a serious protracted siege.

Now the servants of Sigmar and Nagash alike seek her power in order to cloud the vision of Archaon's seers and gain a tactical advantage against the armies of the Everchosen.

Rules write up:
Isabella Von Carstein, Mortarch of Shadow, is empowered by the tenebrous magic of Nagash and driven by the memory of her lost love, who died that she might live. In battle she wields a the sword Blood Drinker. On her right hand she wears the legendary Carstein ring, and carries the Blood Chalice of Bathori. She rides to war on the back of her dread abyssal Vasharak the Consoler, a nightmare beast with a head like the skull of a terrible wolf. In ages past the beast hunted the afterlife for the souls of separated lovers, that they might be reunited in her terrible gullet.

Role: Leader & Behemoth
Points Cost: as Neferata, Mortarch of Blood
Alternative Rules: in games where house rules aren't allowed, use the rules for Neferata, Mortarch of Blood instead

Wounds: 11
Move: *
Save: 4+
Bravery: 10

Missile Weapons

Melee Weapons
Blood Drinker: 5 attacks, 3+ to hit, 3+ to wound, -2 rend, damage 1
Vasharak's Ebon Claws: 1", * attacks, 4+ to hit, 3+ to wound, rend -2, damage 2
Spirit's Spectral Claws & Daggers: 1", 6 attacks, 5+ to hit, 4+ to wound, rend -, damage 1

Wounds Suffered; Move; Claws; Shrouding Darkness
0-2; 16"; 6; 15"
3-4; 13"; 5; 12"
5-6; 10"; 4; 9"
7-8; 7"; 3; 6"
9+; 4"; 2; 3"

Fly: Isabella can fly

Feaster of Souls: Isabella heals 2 wounds at the end of any combat phase in which she slew any models.

Blood Chalice of Bathori: Whenever Isabella would heal a wound from her Feaster of Souls ability, you may choose to have another Vampire model within 6" of her heal a wound, instead.

Frightful Touch: If a hit from the Spirit's Spectral Claws & Daggers is a 6 or more, the target immediately suffers a single mortal wound instead of the normal damage for the attack.

Carstein Ring: Roll a die the first time Isabella is slain. On a roll of 2 or more, place Isabella back on the table anywhere within 12" of where she was slain, with 1d3+3 wounds restored (design note: this assumes the faq ruling on the ring of immortality: ie, to use this ability in matched play games you would have to pay her points again out of your reserve pool, more or less restricting the ability to narrative play. Otherwise, her points cost or other abilities might have to be significantly adjusted).

Mortarch of Shadow: Shooting attacks made against this unit suffer a -1 penalty to hit.

Beloved's Legacy: Isabella keeps the memory of her fallen husband with her always. She may re-roll hit rolls made with the Blood Drinker.

Command Ability, Shrouding Darkness: Isabella can extend her power as the Mortarch of Shadow to blanket the battlefield in concealing darkness. Until the start of your next hero phase, all units, friend and foe, within a number of inches of Isabella given in the table above, gain the benefit of her Mortarch of Shadow ability.

Magic: Isabella is a wizard. She may attempt to cast two spells in each of your hero phases, and may attempt to unbind two spells in each of your opponent's hero phases. She knows the spells Arcane Bolt, Mystic Shield, and Tenebrous Road.

Tenebrous Road: As Mortarch of Shadow, Isabella has mastery over the paths of darkness, and can use their power to transport her forces over great distances or to banish her enemies from her presence. Tenebrous Road has a casting value of 8. If successfully cast, choose one unit, friend or foe, within 6" of the wizard casting this spell, which may be the wizard itself. Then nominate any point on the board within 18" of the wizard casting this spell, and that is more than 6" away from any other models or terrain pieces (if there is no valid point within range then then the spell fails). The target unit's owner removes the unit from the table, and then redeploys it so that every model in the unit is as near as possible to the nominated point while avoiding placing any models within 6" of any enemy models. If you choose one of your own units for this spell, it may not move further in the following movement phase, but may otherwise act normally this turn.

Keywords: Isabella Von Carstein, Death, Deathlord, Vampire, Monster, Hero, Wizard

EDIT: (3/29/17) fixed some typos, changed wording on command ability, reduced number of attacks, increased casting ability, slightly adjusted spell ranges, added GH info (role, points), & alternative rule suggestion when house rules aren't in play.
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A Knight of Blood
Aye, quite interesting! And practically Vlad himself. Very impressive - Isabella is both a good fighter and a wizard with tactical skills, as already mentioned. Very good work :)