After the Storm
The Old World Setting
The The Storm of Chaos has come and gone and though the Empire has survived the future is in doubt.
Tensions rise, a ruthless winter’s effects and poor harvests are felt across the Empire – villages and farms find it harder than ever to scrape by.
To many citizens, this means The End Times are still at hand. Fear is rife. Beastmen prowl, attacking villages with greater frequency and ferocity. Chaos cults still lurk, summoning daemons, fomenting rebellion, and instigating insurrection throughout the Empire’s cities. Bands of Chaos lurk behind the retreating Chaos Hordes to plague the Empire.
In response to these ominous developments, Emperor Karl Franz still works tirelessly to protect the Empire. He sends envoys to the Phoenix King in Ulthuan, asking the high elves for aid in the coming conflict. Calling on ancient oaths and alliances, Karl Franz beseeches the High King of the dwarfs to rally together with Empire.
Deep in Athel Loren’s ancient forests, Ariel, the Queen in the Woods, senses impending doom. She sends parties of wood elves into the Reikland to protect the ancient cairns secreted deep in the Reikwald Forest, and aid against the forces of Chaos.
In the midst of this bleak, brewing turmoil, the Old World needs beacons of hope. Fate has called for heroes – humans of the Empire, wood elves from Athel Loren, high elves from distant Ulthuan, and dwarfs of The Everlasting Realm.
Heroic champions are needed.
Alas, you will have to do.
1. It’s a grim, muddy, smelly and likely doomed world of mostly illiterate characters accruing nasty critical wounds and mental twitches and finding what satisfaction they can until death – which is always permanent – finds them ~ so party like it’s 1999 (well 2523 actually).
2. Society is pre-renaissance/post-medieval, with a growing merchant class, arrogant nobility and backward peasants all living in fear of the witch-hunter’s “burn them all and let Sigmar sort it out” philosophy.
3. Magic is linked to Chaos, the taint that corrupts and mutates flesh and mind. Chaos is ultimately Cthulhoid in its uncaring destruction of reality but its servants are manifestations of humanity’s darkest desires and fears. Chaos is like the “zombie virus” in a horror movie – Johanna is sweet and nice and it’s not her fault she was exposed, and right now she’s still sweet and nice but some hour, day or year … Mercy is risky – thus the witch-hunter’s approach and the tightly regulated nature of legal magic.
4. If there is a modern cinema model for a warhammer hero who has been successful it would be Captain Jack Sparrow – your most prized possession is a haunted boat, you’re more than a little addled, and there’s more than one something awful on your trail, and for all that you’re broke and some other guy gets the girl.
5. Foes are bandits, corrupt burghers and decadent nobles, greenskins (goblins, orks), beastmen (monstrous humanoids with hunter-pack mentalities), chaos cultists and more fearsome chaos warriors (corrupted mortals serving chaos), undead, trolls, giants, daemons – but pay no need to scurrilous rumours of technologically advanced rat-people underneath the Empire’s cities, that’s a drunk-ratcatcher’s tale. Even less believable are tales of evil elves that look just like the regular ones, that’s some elf’s version of “my evil twin must have done it” (besides the regular ones are creepy enough).
6. Thank the dwarfs (not dwarves) for steamworks and blackpowder weapons – and blame them when the unreliable (weapon quality) things blow up in your face – though really that’s the metaphor for anything more effective than just something well made such as magic – sooner or later there’s a price in more than just the coin.
7. There is no “alignment”. Judgment is in the next life, if you can manage to get your soul there without a chaos daemon carrying it off beforehand. That said, the courts secular and clerical will judge you readily for misdeeds you’ve never done and you’ve no doubt you will be judged in the next world.
8. The setting uses dark, mature humour. From puns (Count von Saponatheim) to elements such as Orks speaking in low-class English slang.