Tabletop Game: Mordheim

Mordheim is a fantasy boardgame made by Games Workshop, creators of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000.

Being an example of what are known as "warband games", boardgames that occupy a small junction point between a Role-Playing Game and a wargame, Mordheim's ruleset hearkens back to the much more complex rules of earlier editions of Warhammer.

Set several centuries before the "present day" of Warhammer, it revolves around a city called Mordheim, once the jewel of The Empire, now flattened after being crushed under a meteorite of wyrdstone. This magical substance can, among other things, turn lead into gold, and so the ruins now crawl with adventurous treasure seekers. However, the wyrdstone also causes rampant mutation and corruption, and so the ruins are crawling with monsters, maniacs and mutants.

The game was still being supported by Games Workshop as the section of the White Dwarf magazine, Town Cryer, which provided new rules, warbands, scenarios, modeling tips, etc. until February 2010 Games Workshop stopped supplying the basic Mordheim rulebook for purchase as a physical book. In April 2014 the previously available digital downloads of rulebooks and other materials were removed from the Games Workshop website along with any other remnants of the old Specialist Games. There was also a comic set in the city following the adventures of two self-serving rogues, Ulli Leitpold & Marquand Volker in the city. Which ended up with both of Ulli & Marquand dead and the narrator taking all their loot.

The game, along with all of GW Specialist Games, were discontinued at 2013, and all support ceased

Also the game has seperate settings orginially published in Town Cryer including Empire in Flames (the rural sections of the empire), Lustria and Khemri.

A video game adaptation, Mordheim: City of the Damned, is being developed by Rogue Factor and published by Focus Home Interactive. It's currently available for purchase on Steam.

For the Warhammer 40,000 equivalent game see Necromunda

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     Tropes in the Tabletop Game 
  • After the End: A localized example. Mordheim was utterly destroyed by the wyrdstone comet, but the rest of the world is fine. For a given value of "fine".
  • Amazon Brigade: The Sisters of Sigmar warband. Unsurprising, given the name.
  • Armor Is Useless: Armor is expensive and so easy to penetrate from everything that its rare to see anyone carry any.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Or you might think so, at any rate. The Witch Hunters want to eradicate "warlocks, witches, sorcerers, fortune-tellers, necromancers, worshippers of the dark gods, deviants, mutants, blasphemers, sinners, utterers of profanities, servants of Daemons, or composers of corrupting music". The only thing is, this being a setting where Slaanesh exists, the music could indeed be one of the most dangerous things on the list.
  • Automatic Crossbows: Repeater crossbow
  • Awesome, yet Impractical
    • Double-handed weapons. They add +2 to the user's Strength - which, in an "average human vs. average human" situation, means your chances to wound the opponent jump from 50% to 85%, and armor saves get a -2 modifier (essentially making everything but a heavy armor + shield combo useless). The catch? The user always strikes last, even if they charge, meaning that the opponent has the chance to down them before they even get to employ said Strength bonus. Also, since they are 2-handed, they forbid the user to use a shield, making them even more vulnerable. Good luck.
      • Can go into pure Awesome territory when comboed with the Strongman skill, which removes the "always strike last" penalty. A Stength 6 Middenheimer Captain who strikes in Initiative order with high Weapon Skill and heavy armor? Now that's scary.
    • Basically the whole Cult of the Possessed hero roster. The Magister? He's your Captain and only Mage mixed together, meaning that he can't wear armor and cannot be re-hired. Have fun trying to protect him while having him use his (short-ranged) magic. The Possessed? Expensive as hell (a minimum of 110 gold crowns when your starting budget is 500, and every mutations past the first one costs double the normal price, making a multiple-mutations Possessed insanely expensive). The Mutants? Glorified henchmen with mediocre stats. Their only "edge" comes from having access to (usually stupidly expensive) mutations.
    • Rat ogres. Sure, they cause Fear and their profile is impressive... but they are Huge (everyone gets +1 to shoot them), cannot use equipment, are Stupid (which means they have a good chance to lose turn after turn by standing where they are and drool) and cost a whopping 210 gold crowns (for reference, that's pouring roughly 40% of your starting budget in one warrior). Also, the fact that Rat Ogres cannot gain experience makes them fairly useless in campaigns, as other units will eventually outclass them.
      • It gets particularly offensive when you confront the Rat Ogre with the Ogre Bodyguard. The latter has -1 to S, T and A... but has a much higher Leadership of 7 (the Rat Ogre gets 4, which basically means he's doomed to fail any Leadership roll when on its own), can use equipment, can gain experience and costs 80 crowns (with an extra 30 to be paid after each battle, but still). A sufficently experience and equipped Ogre will murder any Rat Ogre most of the time.
    • Elven bows. Their range is mostly overkill, and they still hit with S 3. -1 to enemy armor saves is nice... but all black powder weapons do that and are much cheaper (considering that black powder weapons are relatively expensive, that says a lot about how much the Elven bow costs).
    • All Blackpowder weapons have have high costs(one Hochland Long Rifle takes as much as 8 henchmen), long reloading periods, usually cannot move-and-fire, and can only be used by certain characters, usually Heroes with access to a specific skill so only certain warbands can make any use out of them.
  • Badass: Anyone who survives more than one visit to Mordheim is going to become this soon enough.
  • Boring but Practical: The humble sling. "Mordheim" being an urban combat game, the limited range on this weapon isn't much of an issue, and it hits with "Strength as user", which means as hard as any bow. Also, the ability to fire twice if the shooter doesn't move in the same turn is insanely useful, essentially doubling your chances of one-hit killing someone.
    • Bows are also common for any warband that can't use slings. Heroes can get skills to improve their Bows as well. Clubs/hammers are very common as they are much cheaper than nearly any other melee weapon.
    • Bludgeoning weapons. They have a 50% change to stun a wounded (down to 0 Wounds) enemy, which, in most cases, spells certain death for them.
  • The Berserker: Anyone with the Frenzy rule.
  • Black Humor: This is a Games Workshop game — naturally, it's full of it.
  • Black Magic: The magic used by the Chaos Cult, Beastmen and Skaven, of course, but the Witch Hunters consider all magic "black". To be fair, this game takes place in a time period before Teclis of Ulthuan showed humans how to use magic safely, so for all practical purposes, with the exception of elven mages, the Witch Hunters are right.
  • Blind Seer: The Augurs are the Sisters of Sigmar who trade their eyesight for second sight (read re-roll dice for their failed actions in game and get choose the results from two dice when looking for loot). They also shave their hair off except for a single braid.
  • Bloody Murder: The Dark Blood chaos ritual literally consists of slashing open a palm and showering an enemy with blood, which burns the enemy. And then testing to see if you collapse from blood loss.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Bugman’s ale which makes the unit fearless and the Kislevites naturally have vodka.
  • Burn the Witch!: The Witch Hunters, naturally.
  • Church Militant: The Sisters of Sigmar and the Witch Hunters. Both agree that Wyrdstone is a dangerous and evil resource that must be sealed away for the good of the world. But they wouldn't ally because the witch hunters have decided that the only way that the sisters could have survived the comet impact was to have made pacts with dark gods and they treat the sisters like they would the chaos corrupted warbands that loot the city.
  • Circus of Fear: The Carnival of Chaos warband.
  • Cult: Cult of the Possessed who worship the Shadowlord, a dark lord who lives in The Pit (the crater which the meteor left when it struck).
  • Cursed with Awesome: Out of Combat warriors must roll a d66 (yes, it exists) on a fairly long table after the game, to determine what happened to them. Most results are fairly bad, but some grant special abilities (such as causing Fear due to horrendous scars!), experience points or gold with no side effects.
  • Crutch Character: Any warrior who cannot gain experience, such as animals, Rat Ogres, zombies and the like. They might have good profiles or special abilities (all zombies cause Fear, for example, and Rat Ogres have monstrous stats), but in campaign games, their inability to improve means that they'll fall hopelessly behind other warriors.
    • Heroes, to an extent. Most of them start with experience points, which account for their higher stats or special abilities, and slowd down their advancement.
  • Demonic Possession: Cult of the Possessed has the "Possessed" and the Darksouls which are humans who have been previously possessed and have been driven mad by the experience.
  • Disaster Scavengers: Everyone, it's why most of them are here and the only way to survive. It helps that said disaster spread lots of valuable Green Rocks around the city.
  • Dowsing Device: The Wrydstone Pendulum from the Opulent Goods article is a pendulum made of wrydstone and can be used to find more of the stone.
  • Dramatis Personae: This is used as the name for the list of hireable individual characters with actual names rather then generic troops.
  • Drop the Hammer: Apart from the regular hammers the soldiers can be armed with the Sisters of Sigmar have the Sigmarite Warhammer, a holy weapon that takes after the God Emperor's favoured weapon.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: There are tables for environmental effects that include the earth underfoot trying to swallow you, shadows coming to life and trying murder you, and spontaneous rains of fish.
  • Experience Points: Units gain experience for surving and achieving objectives in each battle which can be used to gain new skills or stat increases.
  • Warband of Hats: Even individual empire provinces get their own warbands.
  • Gladiator Games: Whilst gladiatorial combat is outlawed in most places of the Empire games still continue in lawless location such as the devestated city of Mordheim. Units that haven't been killed but taken out of action have a chance of waking up in the infamous fighting pits of Cutthroat’s Haven, if he wins he gains EXP and cash if he merely survives they just throw him out.
    • One of the hired swords that warbands can recruit is a Pit Fighter.
    • The larger gladiatorial fights can be played out with the Gaiden Game "Pit Fighter".
    • Also there are rules for playing with the Pit Fighters warband made up of those fighters who earned their freddom or more likely escaped the pits.
  • Glass Cannon: A Skaven Master Assassin with Art of Silent Death and Tail Fighting, equipped with fighting claws. Double crit chances combined with a metric crapton of extra attacks? Every one of which starts at S 4 and gives an extra -1 to armor saves? Yes, please. However, his Thoughness is a mediocre 3 and his armor options quite limited, which makes him relatively vulnerable.
    • Its easy to make any character into one as offensive skills are common and powerful, while defensive ones is limited to only a couple of skills which many heroes dont have access to.
  • Good Luck Charm: Can be equipped, and they even work! saving the holder from damage 50% of the time (determined by dice roll).
  • Green Rocks: Wyrdstone... better known elsewhere in the Warhammer setting as "warpstone".
  • Human Sacrifice: The Cult of the Possessed can sacrifice captives or ramdom survivors that them find they gain after the battle for extra EXP.
    • One of the ramdom things that be found while exploring is a group of people being held for sacrifice. What you can do with them depends on the warband including freeing them (humans), sell them to slavery (skaven), zombifying them (undead) and the Possessed can finish the job.
    • Other chaos aligned warbands and the Lizardmen can also do the same.
  • Hunter of Her Own Kind: Countess Marianna Chevaux was turned into a vampire against her will. She now spends her time hunting vampires in the anonymity of Mordheim and torturing them for leads on the where abouts of her sire Serutat to exact her revenge.
  • The Igor: The Undead warbands can recruit the Dregs, the hunch-backed and deformed human survivors of the comet strike. They serve their undead masters faithfully since they are the few who showed them kindness.
  • It Only Works Once: The Blunderbuss can hit anyone in a 16" long and 1" wide area but can only be fired once per battle.
  • Kill It with Fire In the end Magnus the Pious razed the city with fire after the great war against chaos in 2302.
  • Knife Nut: Johann The Knife. he has a special rule called Knife Fighter Extraordinare that allows him to bypass the limit of three knives thrown during his turn, allowing him to throw six knives per turn if he doesn't move. He's so good with knives that they count for swords during battle.
  • Literal Genie: The wizard Nicodemus freed a daemon that had been trapped inside a lantern and in return was offered a wish. His wish was "I want to become the greatest wizard known to Mankind!" and the daemon granted his wish by making him grow endlessly. He discovered an antidote before he grew too large, but he requires a constant supply of Warpstone to manufacture it.
  • Mooks: Henchmen make up the majority of any warband. They cannot look for Wyrdstone to sell, cannot learn skills, have limited statistic upgrades, and permanently die 1/3rd of the time after any battle.
    • Elite Mooks: Some warbands have these at a higher costs and sometimes drawbacks like inability to gain ANY experience and therefore stuck with default stats.
  • Mythology Gag: A Sisters of Sigmar seeress called Cassandora predicted the comet is presumably the same Cassandora from "Comet of Cassandora" in the Warhammer Lore of Heavens.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: From the credits "No toads or rats were harmed during the production of Mordheim. Several fish were consumed."
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Norse Warband from town cryer had the Wulfen. Described as Berserkers with a very rare mutation that allows them to change into blood hungry beasts, part man part wolf or bear. These warriors can tear through flesh and armor with ease with there massive fangs as they rampage through the melee.
    • The Empire in Flames rules include the Balewolf, a creature of chaos the can even infect the units that it wounds with lycanthropy potentially turning them into a Balewolf in a future battle.
  • Prehensile Tail: Skaven can get this as a special skill.
  • Press-Ganged: The Pirate Crew warband can force captives to become swabbies to fight for them (with the decent chance of running away if they can). Undead just turn them into zombies.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Rumor has it that the endless growth in Nicodemus back story was written because when they made the original model, they noticed that it was taller then the other human models and rather then remake the model simply intergrated it with the story.
  • Religion Is Magic: The Sisters of Sigmar have mystical powers as a result of their devotion to Sigmar. They even managed to use their prayers to shield their monastery when the comet hit.
  • Retcon: In the 6th Chaos Warriors sourcebook for Warhammer, The Shadowlord was explained to be Be'lakor, the Damned First Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided, having possessed the Chaos Warrior who should have been the Chosen of Chaos for that generation, in an effort to cheat his destiny.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The Skaven of Clan Eshin run rampant over the devastated city.
  • Running Gag: A lot of models made games workshop for Mordheim include a fish. For example one is nailed to the Freelancer Knight's shield and a Witch Hunter flagellants carring one for no particular reason.
  • Shout-Out: The Carnival of Chaos preforms such tales as ‘The Emperor’s True Face’, ‘Orfeo and Pustulate’, ‘Papa Noigul’s Festering Children’ and ‘A Midsummer Nightmare’.
    • The introductory story for the Carnival includes the lines:
  • Sniper Rifle: Hochland long rifle.
  • Suffer the Slings: Slings in Mordheim have similar stats to short bows but with a special rule allowing them to be fired twice if the unit wielding it does not move in the same turn. A popular tactic for the Skaven warband is to arm a whole lot of cheap units with slings for a Zerg Rush since ranged attacks were a bit over-powered.
  • The Gunslinger: Normally blackpowder weapons can only fire once every two turns, reflecting their slow reload time. The "Pistolier" skill negates this for pistols, as does the gear "Brace of Dueling Pistols." The thing is the two effects stack, so a hero with both can fire twice in a turn, gunslinging with matchlocks.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum: Wyrdstone. The "Power in the Stones" article from Town Cryer gives rules to give wyrdstone shards magical powers whilst using them, but runs the risk of sickness, mutation or transformation into a chaos spawn.
  • Universal Poison: Posion affects every race from Ogres to Skaven, only a few are immune such as the undead.
  • Urban Warfare: The game uses rules similar to Warhammer but without the emphasis on large units of troops in formation deployed on fairly open terrain, instead focusing on a few warriors in cramp streets.
  • Whip It Good: Sisters of Sigmar steel whip special weapon.
  • Wretched Hive: The city of Mordheim became so depraved, corrupt, and horrifying a comet was thrown at it. Then it became a bunch of warped ruins home to a few depraved, corrupt, and horrifying mutants, any number of criminals who arrived to take advantage of the lawlessness, as well as the mercenary warbands coming from across the realm to loot it.
  • Your Mom: In the fluff for the Dwarf warband a fight was started between a group of dwarves and mercenary humans because the the drunk human leader "made a very unfriendly remark about the dwarf leader's mother".
  • Zerg Rush: The Skaven. Their bands tend to be very large, which makes them harder to rout (you have to lose a quarter of your men... pardon, rats before being forced to test for routing). Borders on Game Breaker when you are faced with a 20-rat Skaven band, and they'are all armed with slings, which can fire twice in the same turn. Enjoy being stoned to death.

     Tropes in City of the Damned 
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The number of units you can deploy, and the number of units you can keep on reserve between missions, increases based on the rank of your warband. The maximum possible number of units you can have in a mission is one Leader, five Henchmen, and four Heroes/two Heroes and one Impressive unit.
  • Battle Trophy: The 'Marked For Death' secondary objective requires you to defeat certain members of the opposing warband and claim special trinkets they're carrying.
  • Capture the Flag: The 'Break Their Will' secondary objective involves raiding the enemy wagon to steal their idol, while protecting your own.
  • Elite Mooks: 'Hired Swords' will occasionally appear at your warband's camp, taking the form of experienced Heroes and Henchmen with random equipment.
  • Fragile Speedster: Thanks to the Arbitrary Headcount Limit described above, the Skaven have been redesigned as this. Plenty of movement points and high dodge chances all around, but low defense and morale.
  • Hero Unit: During the faction missions, your warband will be accompanied by a unique Hero character called a 'Dramatis Personae'. This character is max level and very powerful, but if they are defeated you immediately lose the mission.
  • Metal Slime: Daemons have a chance to appear on Brutal-difficulty missions and higher, are hostile to everyone, and will grant a whopping five experience to the warrior who lands the killing blow on them.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Slings have been removed, and an Arbitrary Headcount Limit has been put in place to make all warbands equal in size.
  • Shows Damage: Certain injuries your warriors suffer are represented on the unit model afterwords, such as missing limbs and blinded eyes.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Henchmen are significantly more powerful in City of the Damned, and are able to level up and learn skills just like Heroes.
    • To a lesser extent, the Cult of the Possessed has benefited greatly from their fragile Leader unit being replaceable, and mutations being a random upgrade gained for free at level thresholds.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Chances are you'll find a lot of weapons that can only be used by certain units from other factions, like flails or warplock pistols. Depending on the faction you play as, these weapons are essentially Vendor Trash.