In the forsaken lands of Sylvania, the undead battalions of the Vampire Counts gather. Upon fen and moor, creatures of darkness that have haunted the nightmares of Men for millennia break free from ancient cairns and age-worn mausoleums, shaking the ground beneath them and eclipsing the moon as they spread their tattered wings and take to the skies. In the eternal gloom of ancient tombs can be heard the scrape of bone on bone, wordless moans, and the clank of rusted armour. The unliving host advances, a tide of resurrected corpses, driven on by necromantic magic and the immortal will of the Vampire Counts.
The presence of the living dead is a corruption upon the face of the world and as they expand their holdings, the very land they occupy is transformed. Their advance is heralded by encroaching mists no wind can displace, trees twisting and buckling as though in agony, and a gathering darkness of supernatural perpetuity. In battle, they are a fearsome force to behold. Legions of moldering soldiers wear down their enemies without fear or hesitation whilst colossal, contorted aberrations and bat-winged beasts crush all who dare stand in their way.
All tremble before the unliving masters of Sylvania, for they are a blasphemy against nature and reason. Those that attempt to stem their relentless onslaught will soon learn that there are fates in this world that are worse than death. The Midnight Aristocracy are masters of Death Magic and Necromancy and those that fall before their might will soon rise again. Where once stood defiant enemy soldiers now stand twitching corpse-puppets devoid of any determination save to serve the morbid fiends that now command them.
With their solid melee infantry, fast cavalry, powerful monstrous units and excellent flying units, the Vampire Counts are masters of aggressive attacks and bold maneuvers. Many of their units fill their foes with terror and devastate their morale while being immune to morale damage themselves, causing enemy forces to panic and falter, and any losses taken are inconsequential as they can be easily replaced by raising their own dead against them. And that is not even getting into how they can recruit incredibly powerful lords through the rituals known as The Blood Kiss. However, great care must be taken to protect the leaders of these armies as should they fall, so too does their army quickly crumble as the dark energies animating them dissipate and the undead minions return to their rest. The Vampire Counts field no missile units unless they offer enough Blood Kisses to the Von Carstein bloodline.
Introduced in Total War: Warhammer, the Vampire Counts are playable in custom games, the Grand Campaign, and Mortal Empires.
- Achilles' Heel: Fire, Light and fearless units. The vampires take extra damage against units who possess fire damage, but they also take extra damage from magicians who use the Lore of Light. And since they are so reliant on frightening their foes away from the field, they can have a very hard time against foes that are either Immune to Psychology (which means they are not affected by the Fear or Terror trait that many vampire units have) or are Unbreakable (which means they will fight to the death).
- A Commander Is You: A Spammer/Technical/Espionage faction. The Vampire Counts have a combination of strong, expensive units and weak, expendable fodder, all of which are heavily dependent on their hero units in battle who can support them with a variety of buffs. They have no ranged units whatsoever not even artillery but boast some excellent flying units to compensate. Outside of combat, their strength comes from exploiting the use of Vampiric Corruption on the strategic map to shift advantage to themselves, which means their offensives require a higher degree of pre-planning.
- And I Must Scream: Some vampires, after being defeated by their siblings, are sealed in stone coffins for centuries, slowly going mad. By the time they're released, they have degenerated fully into the Vargheists, vicious, mindless bat-like monsters.
- Animate Dead: Can be used outside of battle to gain troops. Its advantage over basic recruiting is that it can be used anywhere and it's instantaneous—you can use your new troops the same turn you raise them. However, the quality of the troops you can raise depends on your location—you can get low-level skeletons and zombies anywhere, but high-tier units can only be raised at old battle sites, with the level of the troops that fought there determining what troops you can raise. Your Lords can also raise the dead in the middle of battle, though to prevent the ability from being a Game-Breaker it's limited to a single unit of zombies (or skeletons) — expendable Cannon Fodder only really useful for absorbing projectiles or blunting the charge of an enemy unit.
- The Grim and the Grave adds two variations of this spell - "Awaken from the Grave", unique to Helman Ghorst, which summons Grave Guard or a Wight King; and "Command of the Unliving", unique to the Strigoi Ghoul King, which summons Crypt Ghouls or Crypt Horrors.
- The Arch Mage: The Necrarch Bloodline are some of the most powerful practitioners of Black Magic in the setting, at the cost of being blisteringly insane. Not only do they combine several extremely powerful spells in their spell list, all of their bonuses are related to increasing the players magical capabilities, and have several skills dedicated to giving you insane reserves of magic in your mana pool.
- Artifact of Doom: The Mortis Engine superunit is essentially one. A dark, magical device (similar to a chariot) pulled by a host of vengeful, horrific spirits. It usually holds the remains of a powerful necromancer (in the ultra powerful Regiment Renown version, remains of Nagash himself), and is pulled into the thickest of battles, as the ghosts who man it can inflict terrible damage. It provides an area of effect aura that damages any enemy unit'' inside said aura, and another aura that heals friendly units. If destroyed, the Mortis Engine explodes in a fury of balefire, damaging anything nearby. Very powerful units that cost a ton.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Since they entirely lack missile units or artillery, Vampire armies don't have a lot of use for standoffs. Instead, the undead opt for overpowering, brutal onslaughts designed to overwhelm the foe before their magic degrades too much.
- Ax-Crazy: Blood Dragons, whether they be Blood Knights or Blood Dragon Lords, are seething, cackling, blood crazed monsters on the battlefield, Noble Demon or not, with their unit quotes suitably blood hungry. Blood Dragon Lords all start with the Frenzy special rule.
- Bat Out of Hell: Fittingly for a Vampiric army they have access to no less then four different bat-esque units.
- Fellbats are "small" (bird-of-prey sized), expendable, and attack in large groups, used to harass, target warmachine crews, and "tarpit" units. Many Vampires treat them akin to how a hunter views his prized falcon, and are often used by the Midnight Aristocracy as pets.
- Vargheists are degenerate, utterly nightmarish creatures that serve as something akin to Flying Monstrous Shock Cavalry, being very large, pale bat-like winged monstrosities that have an insatiable lust for blood. They are actually corrupted Vampires who have degraded to a "purer" much more bestial form of Vampirism, having gained much physical power, at the cost of their mind, and the ability to use magic. Most Vargheists become the way they are through imprisonment (inflicted by wayward relatives or a failed coup against their betters) and starvation, slowly transforming over the course of centuries. They are considered the most infamous of all the Vampiric horrors the Counts can unleash.
- Varghulfs are flightless, tank-sized horrors that prowl the dark forests, devouring entire village in a fruitless quest to satisfy their unending hunger, feasting on raw meat, and turning over mass graves to consume rotting corpses. Often compared to Vampire Bears, like the Vargheist, Varghulfs are a more "pure" breed of corrupted Vampire, yet unlike their cousins, Varghulfs are turned willing having simply embraced their animalistic urges, and forsake their former identities, eventually morphing into these horrors after decades of going crazy in the woods, away from their castle. They act as living siege weapons, and incredibly hard hitting monsters.
- Terrorgheists are the undead husks of dragon-sized bats that live in the Sylvanian wilderness, big enough to prey on horses, pegasi, and even Griffins. They make underground caves their lairs, and once they die, Vampires commonly resurrect their cadavers to forge a mighty beast capable of taking to the skies. Not only being a standalone unit, they are often used by Ghoul Kings as powerful mounts. Mortal Empires gives them a sonic shriek as a special ability.
- Back from the Dead: Almost all Vampire Units are resurrected humans, brought to unlife by Black Magic. Well, they are undead. More specifically, the Carstein Ring lets vampires who wear it come back from even stuff that would normally kill vampires.
- The Invocation of Nehek spell in the Lore of Vampires, which all Vampire Count lords start out knowing, heals members of an undead regiment. If the unit's current warriors are already at full health, the surplus healing instead brings back slain members of the unit.
- Battlecry: "Kill them! Raise them!"
- Another is Danse Macabre!translation , which comes from the Middle-Age allegory that no matter one's station in life, death unifies all.
- The Beast Master: Von Carstein Bloodline Lords all have special trees dedicated to giving their various monsters and dark beasts hefty bonuses to stats, and Flavor Text describes they and their bloodline having very close ties to the dark beasts that haunt Sylvania. Their ultimate skill even lets them summon a Varghuf.
- Beauty = Goodness: Inverted by the Legendary Lords. Vlad von Carstein looks like a walking corpse and, while not exactly a heroic figure, he does have genuine good intentions behind his bid for the Imperial throne. Contrast to his son Mannfred, who wants to dominate the Empire just to appease his ego. Isabella looks mostly human and shares her husband's cause, but her personal motivation in the campaign is revenge against her traitorous son. Helman Gorst's body is hideously twisted and eyeless, but he has a tragic, sympathetic backstory that paints him as driven to madness rather than purposeful evil. Lastly Kemmler, who is a physically normal human, is a despicable necromancer only interested in becoming more powerful and spreading destruction.
- Black Knight: The name of their primary cavalry unit, being recently slain Knights twisted and broken by dark magic.
- Black Magic: The Lore of Vampires is unique to the Vampire Counts, and is available to every Lord and Hero aside from the Banshee and Wight King. Ironically, it's much more defensive, than most examples, being primarily used to buff undead soldiers, and heal them.
- Blood Knight: They have vampiric cavalry called Blood Knights, members of the infamously violent and aggressive house of the Blood Dragons.
- Burn the Undead: As many undead units have regeneration, fire does extra damage to them.
- Civil Warcraft: At the start of the Grand Campaign, the two provinces that make up Sylvania are split between the main Vampire Counts faction, the Von Carstein sub-faction, and the Tempelhof minor faction (which is already at war with the Vampire Counts). As such, the first few turns of the campaign will likely be spent fighting other undead armies, with forays into the lands of the Empire and Dwarfen Kingdoms only coming after Sylvania has been secured.
- Chill of Undeath: The Undead are commonly associated with the cold, and two of their regiments of renown have a chilling aura (Which slows down enemy units around them).
- Close-Range Combatant: They have no ranged units whatsoever, not even artillery, and can be reliably whittled down from afar.
- Council of Vampires: The Von Carsteins as a whole serve as one, governing the former Imperial Province of Sylvania as Counts and Dukes. The Lahmians also indulge in this, albeit more clandestinely.
- Crapsack World: Even compared to the rest of the Old World, Sylvania is a really nasty place. Bloodthirsty monsters lurk in the dark woods and vampire lords maintain seats of power in haunted castle ruins, freely preying on a helpless populace who live in run-down communities, constantly fearing for their lives behind heavy doors laden with multiple bolts and incantations to ward off the horrors of the night.
- The Corrupter: Their agents and heroes can spread corruption on enemy territory, thus allowing Vampire Count armies to safely traverse enemy territory without the danger of attrition.
- Dark Is Evil: Whilst heroic Vampires can and do exist, on the whole the faction is unquestionably villainous.
- Dark Action Girl: Lahmian Vampire lords, Vampire Heroes and of course Isabella herself.
- Daywalking Vampire: Vampires prefer the comfort of night or heavy cloud cover, and battles in regions with high vampiric corruption provide both the latter and a number of morale benefits for Vampire Count armies. However, you can still fight in low-corruption regions, marching your armies under a sunny sky with no averse effects; you will suffer attrition though on the campaign map.note
- Decapitated Army: While all factions have this to a certain extent, the Vampire Counts suffer the harshest penalty for losing a lord, as most of the army is sustained by their magic, and once that's gone, nothing is keeping them from becoming just another pile of bones
- Dem Bones: They can field a wide variety of skeletal units, ranging from cheap Skeleton Warriors up to the elite Grave Guard. Lower tier skeletons will even walk in sync like an old horror movie!
- The Dreaded: Vampires are things every Imperial child fears, and are the living nightmares of the people of Sylvania. Fittingly, almost every Vampire Count unit, even the lower tier ones, cause fear or terror, making them In-Universe Nightmare Fuel.
- Dracolich: Zombie Dragons are available flying mounts for Vampire Lords. Unlike most examples of this trope, Zombie Dragons are mindless puppets, and command no magic of their own, although they have powerful rot breath.
- Dual Wielding: Vampire Lords of the Blood Dragon Dynasty dual wield longswords.
- Elite Mook: The ferocious, and heavily armored, Graveguard serve as this, which are a clear step above standard Vampire Count infantry. They retain their old fighting skills that served them in life, and as such, act as elite heavy infantry in Vampire armies.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: The Vampire Counts apparently have a penchant for grave puns.[failed diplomacy] "You have made a 'grave' error, and for that a punishment is needed."
- Fearless Undead: While they have morale values, undead units will not rout or flee when broken. They'll keep fighting to the bitter end, but they'll start slowly losing health and eventually fall apart.
- Foil: To the other undead armies in the game, the Tomb Kings and the Vampire Coast. The Vampire Counts have no ranged units or artillery but a lot of fast-moving cavalry, monsters and flying units, and their infantry are fairly strong but have a tendency to waste away over time; all this lends the Vampire Counts to being a heavy rushdown army meant close to melee range quickly, and hopefully overrun them. The Tomb Kings, on the other hand, do have archers and artillery, and their own skeleton infantry are offensively weak but very resilient, with a lot of options for further enhancing their staying power; this makes them more suited to staying back in a good position and gradually wearing the enemy down with attrition. The Vampire Coast, meanwhile, boasts an even greater emphasis on (somewhat inaccurate) ranged weapons - with multiple types of artillery, marksmen, and a selection of monsters that either have gunners riding them or are lugging around heavy weapons themselves - but are quite brittle in melee and fare poorly once their ammunition is expended.
- Geo Effects: Vampire Count armies, heroes and certain structures spread "Vampiric Corruption", which steadily terraforms the local province into an Überwald that strengthens the walking dead. In gameplay terms, provinces with low corruption deal constant attrition damage to undead armies and inflict public order penalties to their settlements, while provinces with high corruption inversely penalize the living - with an added caveat that any rebel armies that form in the province will use Vampire Count units, instead of the local faction's default rebels. Spreading and maintaining corruption allows the Vampire Counts to keep a solid grip on their territories, while softening up foreign regions for later conquest.
- Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Many of their units possess these, colored teal blue.
- Haunted Castle: The Midnight Aristocracy bases itself in these. As of Mortal Empires there are three notable examples in the Old World with unique buildings for vampires: Castle Drakenhof, ancestral seat of the Von Carstein bloodline and Mannfred's starting position; Castle Drachenfels, home of Constant Drachenfels the great enchanter (and necromancer) and Kemmler's starting postion; and the haunted dukedom of Mousillon, the start location of the Red Duke.
- Heavily Armored Mook: In contrast to their lower-tier Cannon Fodder, late-game Vampire Count foot soldiers, such as the disciplined Grave Guard, wear heavy, black plate armor.
- Hero Killer: You do not want to get your lord into a duel with a Blood Dragon Lord. Just don't.
- Horror Hunger: One of the prices of vampiric immortality is the need to feed on fresh blood. Young vampires need to feed frequently to sustain their transformation, often to the point that the urge to do so overpowers their own will and they are prone to reckless behavior that makes them easy targets for witch hunters. As vampires mature, this need satiates as they come more fully into control of their undead form, and an elder vampire only needs to feed once every few years or so. One of their initial combat skills titled, "The Hunger" grants them supernatural regeneration whilst in combat, implying the Vampires are slurping up Blood from fallen soldiers.
- Injured Vulnerability: Vampire units in battle are essentially a wasting asset: the longer they're in combat, the more their magic and leadership degrades, which leads to the unit weakening, which leads to more stat degradation, eventually entering a death spiral that terminates with the unit lying in a pile of dust. Undead units therefore depend heavily on overwhelming assaults scattering the enemy in relatively short order; an opponent that can withstand an Undead army's initial onslaught stands a much better chance of victory.
- The Juggernaut: Those of Strigori blood are towering behemoths of muscles, fangs, and claws, being noted as physically the strongest of all Vampires (whom all already posses Super Strength) being able to slaughter scores of enemy soldiers on their lonesome.
- Keystone Army: All armies take the death of their general poorly, but there aren't many that actually crumble to dust over it. A vampire army that has lost its general can only hope to defeat its enemies quickly before its time runs out. Of course, said keystone can either be a squishy necromancer that is usually kept back and out of enemy range or a powerful vampire capable of mowing down units by himself, so tearing them down is easier said than done.
- Les Collaborateurs: Von Carstein Lords can field a select number of human levies within their armies. Though instead of true loyalty or money, most of these peasants serve their vampiric overlords because of fear.
- Lightning Bruiser:
- Varghulfs. Their attacks deal a lot of damage, they regenerate health over time, and they are quite fast for their size, in addition to getting a powerful charge bonus. Varghulfs also able to shove their way through crowds of infantry, which makes them difficult - if not impossible - to tie down using 'tarpit' tactics.
- Terrorgheists are faster than any cavalry unit, extremely powerful, have excellent defenses (properly armored, they take reduced damage except from armor-piercing and anti-large damage) and regenerate health to boot. They got an even stronger boost in Mortal Empires, getting enhanced stats, as well as an ultra powerful Sonic Shriek breath attack.
- Looks Like Orlok: Some of the more bestial vampires are very nightmarish, including the insane, bat-like Strigoi, and the downright monstrous Vargheists. Even the much more fair Von Carsteins have twisted visages.
- The Necrarch Bloodline is made out of these exclusively, and each of them are very powerful users of necromancy who are on a whole different level than both hero Necromancers and Necromancer Lords.
- The Lost Woods: A general motif. Dark forests spread across the land corrupted by the Vampire Counts, and the Haunted Forest is an available building necessary for raising Terrorgheists.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: The Terrorgheists' scream, which can scare units to death or sap their morale.
- Master Swordsman: Blood Dragon Lords are some of the finest swordsmen in the setting, wielding their twin blades like no other. A vast majroity of their skills are centered around improving their mastery and unmatched killing capabilities with the sword.
- Monster Knight: The Blood Knights; a cavalry unit consisting of armored vampire knights riding undead warhorses. Their considered one of - if not the - best shock cavalry in the series, being dangerous against anything (though they truly excel at killing other knights and monsters), with only Grail Knights contesting the claim.
- The Blood Dragons Bloodline in general, from which aforementioned Blood Knights come from, are this combined with Noble Demon below and Proud Warrior Race Guy, though they lean far to the Knight portion of this trope, being obsessed with martial prowess and the mastery of the blade. Currently, their Lord variants are the most powerful non-legendary lords in the game, combining decent durability with insane damage output, using their twin blades to carve through other lords like cheddar.
- Mooks: A number of basic units, such as zombies and skeletons, which can be recruited for a low cost or even just raised in the middle of battle. Theyre useful in the early game, but later on their only real use is for swarming and bogging down enemies while higher-tier units get into position.
- Mordor: The lands they conquer gradually transform into dark, forbidding Uberwalds that inflict attrition damage on non-undead armies. From a narrative perspective, meanwhile, the twin provinces that compose the cursed land of Sylvania are the proper undead Mordor due to serving as Vampire Counts' seat of power, and starting the campaign with 100% corruption that is difficult to purify. Attempting to wipe the Counts off the campaign map will inevitably involve fighting your way into Sylvania.
- The Necrocracy: Sylvania, Lahmia, Mousillon and any other lands controlled by vampires are Type III necrocracies (undead rulers, with both living and undead subjects). The von Carsteins in particular are known as "The Midnight Aristocracy", since they only hold court after the sun has set and never after it rises, as well as being the ones most inclined to rule (and sometimes even well) over human subjects.
- Necromancer: Available as both a Hero Unit and a Lord that can be placed in charge of armies. Lore-wise, necromancers are humans who learned death magic from the books of Nagash, the first necromancer, and were eventually chased out of society by angry mobs and the witch hunters and forced to seek sanctuary among the vampires. The vampires themselves hold the human necromancers in contempt but, unlike most Fantasy works (who have Vampires and Necromancers at odds with each other) find them useful, although many vampires are necromancers themselves, and some humans have achieved a fair degree of power. Quite fittingly, both share the same Lore of Magic, the Lore of Vampires.
- Night of the Living Mooks: The armies of the Vampire Counts consist almost entirely of legions of undead horrors with little to nothing in the way of independent will. Fighting them means fighting endless ranks of corpses, wraiths and vampires that will never break ranks, show mercy or give quarter, and can never be reasoned with.
- Noble Demon: Blood Dragon knights, who are basically a cult of martial vampires who have a code of honor which states that only cowards prey on the weak and defenseless, and so they travel around picking fights with worthy warriors and monsters and feeding on their blood instead. They retain much of their previous nobility and honor (as most of them are former Imperial and Bretonnian Knights), and their progenitor, Aborash the Blood Dragon was a downright Token Good Teammate. They're still bloodthirsty (metaphorically and literally), undead monsters, but if you're a woman or child, they'll leave you alone.
- Mighty Glacier: They are certainly slow moving, but slow moving like an avalanche. Not only do their units have large health pools, they have truly ridiculous healing and regeneration options available to them (with spells, unit abilities, passive aura's from support Corpse Carts), meaning they can take alot of punishment, and can simply resurrect their fallen with magic.
- Our Banshees Are Louder: Banshees are available as a Hero Unit, and their primary purpose is to hunt down enemy heroes and lords; either by attacking them on the battlefield or assassinating them on the campaign map. They take the appearance of ghostly young girls with horrifying visages.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: The Vampire Counts can field a variety of ethereal units, which have a chance of outright ignoring non-magical attacks in combat. While this makes them highly deadly against heroes and other slow-hitting-high-damage units, they tend to be vulnerable to cheaper and more numerous enemies, who can simply surround them and slowly hack away at their partial invulnerability.
- Cairn Wraiths are floating spirits clad in tattered Black Cloaks and who wield scythes in battle, evoking the image of the grim reaper. They are either extremely dark spirits, or Necromancers who attempted to make themselves immortal, only to succeed in the most horrific way possible.
- Hexwraiths are a form of Psychopomp; said by legend to be frightening servants of Morr who, on the first night of the new year, ride from the underworld on ghostly steeds to hunt down damned souls that refuse to pass on. Unfortunately, while hexwraiths are implacable and intangible, their singleminded drive and straightforward tactics allow sufficiently powerful necromancers to lead hexwraiths into a trap and then bind them into service as spectral shock cavalry.
- Our Ghouls Are Different: Technically Living Zombies that feed on carrion and carry large bones as clubs. They actually have a lot in common with trolls—besides a visual similarity, both types of units regenerate damage over time and have an acid spit attack. There are also Crypt Horrors, monster-sized Ghouls who are given a dosage of Vampire blood to make them physically much more stronger then a regular Ghoul.
- The Strigoi Bloodline are this combined with Tragic Monster. Before they became the Ghoul Kings they are, the Strigoi ruled over a great kingdom where people loved them for being just rulers. Then way too many tragedies happened (among which their progenitor Ushoran getting killed), their kingdom fell into ruin and the survivors were hunted by both mortals and other vampire bloodlines. It was so bad they had to resolve to feeding on the blood, and later, flesh of the deceased. Needless to say this degenerated the Strigoi into animalistic, bestial juggernauts. Some do retain most of their sanity and try to rebuild the Strigos Empire. None of them however managed to pull it off.
- Our Vampires Are Different: While they look and act much like typical fantasy vampires, if they succumb to their bloodlust entirely (either willingly or from starvation), they'll mutate into hideous, barely-sentient monsters. They is also a multitude of vampiric sub-races, each with their own cultures, strengths and weaknesses.
- Our Wights Are Different: Wight Kings are available as a Hero Unit, being ancient warlords and chieftains who died long before the time of Sigmar. In gameplay, they serve as a beefier alternative to Vampires, but have no access to spells.
- Our Zombies Are Different: A weak, cheap and expendable basic unit, only really useful for bogging down the enemy battle line while your more elite forces do their jobs.
- Out of Focus: In the base game Vampire Counts were all of the Von Carstein family, which is only one of five families in the tabletop game. This trope then got slowly phased out over time as The Grim and the Grave added Strigoi Ghoul Kings as generic lords, Vlad's FLC added Blood Dragon Knights as recruitable units, and in the second game Mortal Empires introduced a 'Bloodline' mechanic that let the player hire unique Blood Dragon, Necrarch, Lahmian or Strigoi vampire lords as well.
- Savage Wolves: Vampire Aristocrats of the Von Carstein bloodline breed savage packs of undead Direwolves within their dark castles, bloodthirsty parodies of real wolves, infused with dark magic to make them more aggressive. As they're often used as hunting hounds, they make decent scouts, as well as light cavalry and archer hunters. In the lore, Von Casteins can shapeshift into wolves, which is mentioned in the Flavor Text of one of the Bloodline Lords skills.
- Stronger with Age: Vampires get stronger as they get older, as they drink more and more blood to build up their power.
- Support Party Member: Necromancers. Much weaker than a Vampire Hero, yet they have a myriad of passives that buff the undead around them, alongside their access to the Lore of Vampires. They become even better at this role when mounted on a Corpse Cart, which gives them even more passive bonuses to units nearby. Necromancers are best put behind lines, close enough for them to support units with their abilities, yet far enough away from the battlefield.
- Corpse Carts themselves are very similar, which are rickety carts stuffed with fresh corpses, that are pulled along the Vampire Counts lines to give certain magical auras. There's no less then three variants. The normal one which provides regeneration to undead units around them. The second, which has a balefire brazier attached, which makes spellcasting more difficult for enemy wizards. And the third, which holds an Unholy Lodestone, doubles the regeneration undead receive.
- Technically Living Zombie: The ghouls. Unlike most depictions of ghouls, they aren't a type of undead or an evil spirit, being instead descended from humans who have turned into degenerate monsters through generations of inbreeding and cannibalism, and who are drawn to the Vampire Counts' armies by their ever-present dark magic and by the promise of fresh food. They especially like to follow Strigoi Vampires, who are equally hideous and depraved.
- Überwald: The territories they conquer turn into haunted wildernesses carpeted by thick, dark forests broken only by the fortresses of the local vampire lords and necromancers and by villages of oppressed peasants kept around chiefly as renewable sources of blood and corpses.
- The Undead: One of two undead factions in the tabletop (and one of three in the game proper), the other being the Tomb Kings, and the first one playable in the game itself. In contrast to the eastern styled Tomb Kings, and the nautical themed Vampire Coast, they collectively gather the standard stock of European Gothic Horror monsters (Ghosts, Wraiths, Vampires, Zombies Skeletons), putting them into a single army. Most are also simple puppets, commanded by the dark magic of their masters.
- Undeathly Pallor: All pure vampires have sickly pale skin, which just adds to their creepiness.
- Undead Laborers: Much of the Vampire Counts infrastructure buildings are crewed by undead slave laborers, going by their names. (Abandoned Wood Shed, for example.)
- Vampire Monarch: The Von Carsteins in particular tend to style themselves like this, as they're organized as feudal lines, with fine clothing and armor, legions of servants, and being the rulers of the Midnight aristocracy. Some even wish to become the Emperor of the Empire, though none have actually succeeded in this. The Lahmians get in on the act too, with Neferata styling herself as a queen.
- Vampire Variety Pack: The vampires of the Warhammer world are split into five distinct bloodlines, each descended from Queen Neferata or one of her four lieutenants, who were the first true vampires. The Von Carstein bloodline is the focus, but you can also recruit vampires from some other bloodlines:
- The Von Carsteins themselves are nobles and aristocrats, and are descended from Vlad von Carstein. More of a clan than a bloodline, the Von Carsteins frequently accept worthy outsiders into their fold. All generic vampires, vampire lords and vampiric legendary lords of the faction are Von Carsteins, and in Mortal Empires the Von Carsteins can also hire limited numbers of human serfs as missile units.
- The Blood Knights unit is composed of vampires from the militaristic Blood Dragons dynasty - originally an order of Imperial knights, until they were corrupted from within by Abhorash, the Blood Dragon. The Red Duke and (according to at least one source) Luther Harkon are also Blood Dragons, and in Mortal Empires you can 'awaken' the bloodline for military boosts and the ability to hire unique Blood Dragon lords.
- The Strigoi descend from Prince Ushoran, the brother of Neferata, and once ruled a mighty kingdom known as Strigos. However, the other bloodlines conspired to destroy Ushoran's work, and today the Strigoi are degenerate, scavenging beasts that closely resemble ghouls. Strigoi Ghoul Kings can be recruited to lead Vampire Count armies.
- The Necrarchs are the most seldom seen of their kind, an entire bloodline of powerful practitioners of Black Magic. They are also the closest Vampires still in touch with their Nehekhara roots, retaining use of the old language. In Mortal Empires the bloodline can be awakened for research and winds of magic boosts, and letting you hire unique Necrach vampire lords.
- Neferata's own descendants, the all-female Lahmians, are inhumanly beautiful and skilled at manipulating humanity from behind the scenes. In Mortal Empires the city of Lahmia is present as a ten-slot provincial capital, and awakening the Lahmian bloodline lets you hire unique Lahmian vampires.
- Vengeful Ghost: Wraiths who aren't dead necromancers, are incredibly dark spirits that had something horrible inflicted upon them, and now want to make everything living pay for it.
- Victory by Endurance: Most early-game battles will be this for a Vampire army, as their first and second tier units lack most redeeming qualities save for quantity and mass. They make up for it with their heavy health pools, and powerful support magic, which lets you keep resurrecting fallen soldiers. Played to the hilt in Vampire vs Vampire battles, which quickly devolve into a brutal attritional mess.
- Was Once a Man: All undead units, obviously, but Vargheists and Varghulfs were both once vampires—Vargheists were driven mad by centuries of imprisonment, while Varghulfs willingly surrendered themselves to their bloodthirst. The carrion-eating Ghouls are also notable as they're Technically Living Zombies - they're the result of several generations of human inbreeding and cannibalism mixed with Black Magic.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Ironically, despite never routing from combat, focusing on morale damage is actually extremely effective against undead armies, as their broken units will constantly lose health while fighting - which will result in their Leadership values decreasing from lost members, which will then make them easier to break again if they ever recover, and so on...
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Some Vampires are driven by noble goals. This was the general idea of Vlad von Carstein, who aimed to take over the Empire and convert it to undead to end its corruption and internal power struggles once and for all (also denying the Chaos Gods tens of thousands of souls to consume), a task which he almost managed to succeed with before he was betrayed by Mannfred on the evening before the final decisive battle.
- We Have Reserves: Low-tier Vampire Count armies in the campaign can play this trope by using the 'Raise Dead' mechanic between battles to instantly replace destroyed zombie/skeleton units with fresh ones. Bonus points if the previous battle was large enough to warrant the creation of even stronger undead at the site.
- Zombie Gait: Subverted. Zombies are fully capable of running in this game. That being said, they still aren't particularly fast.
Count Mannfred von Carstein, True Elector Count of Stirland
Mannfred Von Carstein exhibits a characteristic that, in addition to his Vampiric speed and strength, is exceedingly dangerous. That characteristic is cunning. Whilst others of his bloodline spent aeons bickering and infighting, nearly destroying the dynasty in the process, Mannfred devoted his efforts to deepening his knowledge of necromantic lore. He made unholy pilgrimages to the ancient tombs of Nehekhara and the forgotten city of Lahmia, where the secrets of the Liche Priests were wrested from desiccated papyrus and ancient scriptures written on sheaves of tanned human skin. During this time he was able to conceal his dark gifts by travelling in the guise of an Imperial Lord. The only hints left to his true nature were hushed whispers of exsanguinated corpses found here and there where an unnamed Lord of prodigious wealth had passed through not long before.
When Mannfred returned and revealed himself fully, he was transformed almost beyond recognition - his face contorted and corpse-like, his bare scalp writhing with necromantic power.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: See Benevolent Boss.
- A God Am I: In a quest battle against the Bretonnians, he declares himself a god of undeath in his pre-battle speech. It fits well with his ego.
- Ambition Is Evil: He intends to conquer and subjugate the Empire, seeing Sigmar's throne as his by right of his blood.
- Animal Motif: Mannfred is often associated with vampire bats. Like them, Mannfred is cunning and stealthy and the style of his armor resembles bat wings. There's also the obvious.
- Animate Dead: Like all users of the Lore of Vampires, he has the ability to raise the corpses of the dead to do his bidding. Notably, he casts this spell in both the Vampire Counts cinematic trailer and in his faction's campaign intro, both times for the sake of flaunting his considerable power in front of a mortal.Mannfred: Thy brave corpses shall make a fine addition to my army!
- Antagonistic Offspring: Begins the Grand Campaign, as of the Old World Edition, as an enemy of his vampire parents Vlad and Isabella. Of course, he sees them as the exact opposite tropes.
- The Archmage: Noted as being the most mystically inclined of the Von Carstein bloodline, likely one of the most powerful vampire sorcerers in the entire world. He spent centuries being taught the Black arts in Nehekhara, so he's earned it. He's a master of two separate Lores of magic, the Lore of Death, and the Lore of the Vampire.
- Badass Boast: His claims to godhood.Mannfred: The flower of Bretonnia shall wither, and the tomb that holds my prize be broken open! And those inside shall serve me! They shall know a true deity! I am a GOD! Let thy gravebound and thy living worship ME! Mannfred the Wise, Mannfred the Unliving, Mannfred the Merciless!
- Badass Bookworm: Spent centuries pouring over old arcane tomes, and in the old Flavor Text when Vlad was part of the Vampire Counts faction, it mentions that Mannfred has returned to his castle to pour over old volumes of sorcery, while Vlad leads their armies.
- Back from the Dead: Was killed long ago but later resurrected when a necromancer's blood was spilled on his bodynote . At the start of the campaign, Mannfred has only just revealed himself following that revival.
- Badass Cape: Wears a tattered black cloak.
- Badass Teacher: He schooled Helman in the dark arts, and is indeed an extremely powerful vampire,
- Bald of Evil: Or Bald of Awesome if you're playing the Vampire Counts. It's self-inflicted, to signify his maturity as a vampire.
- Benevolent Boss: Amazingly enough, he seems to be this in this incarnation of the universe. Not only does he love giving his minions rousing speeches, he treats his dragon, Ghorst, with respect and even kindnesses (taking the young man under his wing during his darkest moments, and rewarding him an extremely powerful Tome of Eldritch Lore), enough the necromancer has Undying Loyalty to him. At the start of a Vampire Counts campaign tutorial, the Adviser politely turns down an apparent offer from Mannfred to be made a vampire; a very high honor, for a relative outsider.
- Black Magic: He has complete mastery of the Lore of Vampires and the Lore of Death (something no other Vampire has), the most outwardly evil magics in the setting outside of Chaos Magic and Dark Magic, the sorcery of the Dark Elves — which, in the lore, served as the original basis for necromancy.
- Blasphemous Boast: "I will take Sigmar's throne!"
- Casting a Shadow: Mannfred's body is wreathed in black vapour.
- Cool Sword: The Sword of Unholy Power, which Mannfred creates by slaughtering several hundred orcs and goblins at the foot of the Pillar of Bone, in order to charge the Winds of Magic with necromantic energy. In-game, it allows Mannfred to replenish his army's reserve of magic during battles as long as he remains in melee combat.
- The Corrupter: To Helman Ghorst, whom he taught the art of Necromancy.
- Dark Is Evil: Wears a set of blackened platemail, is heavily associated with the night, a master of two separate forms of Black Magic, and is one of the most sinister Vampire's to have walked the forests of Sylvania
- Dragon Rider: He has a zombie dragon as his highest tier mount; a barded, resurrected dragon that breaths unholy pestilence.
- Dual Wielding: Wields a Sinister Scimitar and a black scythe in unison, the scythe doubling as a magic staff.
- Evil Overlord: As the ruler of Sylvania, head of the von Carstein vampire clan, and one of the most powerful wizards in the Old World, with aspirations of world conquest.
- Evil Sorcerer: A powerful and accomplished necromancer with nothing resembling morals. When his kin brother was ruling their ancestral home, Mannfred on the other hand was traveling the world learning the dark arts.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Damn right he does. Mannfred's voice is very dark and throaty.
- Fantastic Racism: He despises Greenskins, calling them vermin and claiming they make for terrible undead minions.
- Flowery Elizabethan English: Speaks this way on occasion.Mannfred: Mortals! Thou have trespassed! Thy words had best hold prominence, or death shall visit thee!
- Looks Like Orlok: Due to his lack of hair. That being said, he still looks decidedly less overtly monstrous than most of the generic vampire lord variants, who are also bald.
- Magic Knight: Is proficient in both spellcasting and physical combat. Mannfred is in fact one of the most powerful Lords in direct combat, especially when mounted on his Zombie Dragon.
- Manipulative Bastard: He maintains leadership of the Von Carstein vampires by playing off their desires and flaws, or even pitting dangerous rivals against each other.
- The Necrocracy: Rules one and hopes to expand its borders.
- Necromancer: An able student of the necromantic arts.
- Noodle Incident: The Battle of Hel Fenn - where a younger Mannfred was defeated and (temporarily) killed by Count Martin of Stirland - is brought up a few times but never described in-game, making it this. According to the description of his first quest battle, which takes place in Hel Fenn, Mannfred isn't terribly pleased to be fighting on the same battlefield he previously died upon.
- Plato Is a Moron: Makes this claim about Nagash.Mannfred: Nagash was weak! Witness true power!
- Rightful King Returns: A decidedly evil version: Mannfred doesn't just consider himself to be the true Elector Count of Stirland; he claims that he is the rightful emperor as well, and that Karl Franz is a craven usurper. His brief Motive Rant at the beginning of the Hel Fenn quest battle summarizes it rather nicely:Mannfred: Franz, the son of whores and tumorous burgomeisters, thinks the crown is his! But the house of the Reikland electors is tainted. As the last great count of Stirland, my claim is the truest! I should be emperor! I will be emperor!
- Scary Impractical Armor: His Armor of Templehof, a black set of platemail covered in a miasma of darkness and a series of jutting spikes. It is a product of twisted sorcery, this construct fuses with the wearer, giving Mannfred tremendous endurance.
- Sinister Scythe: Other than his sword, he also wields a hook scythe.
- The Starscream: It's been insinuated more than once that he was involved in the mysterious "disappearance" of Vlad von Carstein's magical ring, he arranged for the loss of the ring and did so to engineer Vlad's downfall so he could take over. One of the reasons why Vlad wants his head is this very fact.
- Sorcerous Overlord: The ruler of Sylvania and the Von Carstein vampires and aspiring ruler of the Empire is also a necromancer of considerable power, a master of both Lore of Vampires and the Lore of Death.
- Vampire Monarch: The undead ruler of Sylvania and the von Carstein bloodline of vampires.
Heinrich Kemmler, the Lichemaster
It is said that the end goal of power is power itself. In no being, living or dead, is this personified more singularly than in Heinrich Kemmler. An avid enthusiast of the necromantic arts from his youth, by the time he was a man his command of the nefarious, morbid magics that rule the dead were powerful almost beyond equal. His ascendant star led him to defile the most ancient and secret of tombs in search of the forbidden knowledge that he sought so fervently. In time, his rivals banded together to engineer a defeat that left Kemmler broken in both body and mind. Half-sane and disfigured, the man who once called himself Lichemaster spent a great many years wandering the Grey Mountains as little more than a beggar. In due course, subtly guided by forces unknown, the haggard necromancer came upon the monolithic burial mound of a once-great Chaos Champion.
Here, Kemmler struck a terrible pact with the gods. They would restore his health and give to him power greater even than he had previously lost, and in exchange he resolved to do their bidding, becoming a tool of unilateral destruction. Now, once more, hushed whispers of the Lichemaster send shivers of fear down tavern-goers' spines, and plague their childrens minds with terrible nightmares.
Being first available from the start in Total War Warhammer in both Custom Games and The Grand Campaign and in Total War Warhammer 2 in Mortal Empires as a member of the main Vampire Counts faction, he eventually got to lead his own subfaction, The Barrow Legion, upon the release of The Vampire Coast, starting near the borders of Bretonnia, in the mountains that surround it.
- Adaptational Wimp: In the tabletop, Kemmler was a kind of budget vampire with a master necromancer's powers — he would never be able to stand up to a vampire lord but could easily defeat most necromancers in hand-to-hand combat (and was also much cheaper than Mannfred while still having Loremaster of Vampires). His cloak (depending on edition) could also make him either able to fly, teleport, or become ethereal. Here, he's actually worse at melee combat than a generic necromancer lord, and his cloak only grants him Strider. Thankfully, Krell is always there to back him up.
- His update with the release of The Vampire Coast granted him many powerful buffs, including a Barded Nightmare (his lack of a mount was previously his greatest weakness), immunity to untainted attrition, and upgraded him from one of Manfred's Co-Dragons to his own power near Mousillion. His power in the lore was also given increased focus, with the inclusion of skills that give zombies a Healing Factor and a 0-cost upkeep.
- The Archmage: The greatest living necromancer in the lore, Kemmler has always had at least one kind of special rule to aid his spellcasting and had a White Dwarf-only exclusive lore (issue #311) called the Lore of the Lichemaster that was made up of improved versions of Nagash's original spells from the Lore of Vampires. In-game, Kemmler can become a Loremaster of the Lore of Vampires, greatly reducing cooldowns on spells.
- Beard of Evil: Has a white beard and is hideously evil.
- Badass Cape: His Cloak of Mists and Shadows, which has Kemmler surrounded by a dark presence that swirls and twists the cloak with a life of its own. In the lore it grants true Flight, but in game it only gives him protection and the Strider trait.
- Brains and Brawn: The Brains to Krell's Brawn. Though Krell is actually a lot smarter than he lets on and Kemmler's sanity is suspect, Kemmler is still the one who calls the shots.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: While nowhere as bad as, say, Luther Harkon, Kemmler's quotes are a little out there.
- Kemmler: Quiet skull staff! I know what I'm doing...
- Cool Sword: The Chaos Tomb Blade, which is taken from Krell's resting place. This evil weapon not only fills its wielder with an unholy energy but also entraps the souls of those it cleaves, binding their fleshless remains in servitude.
- Co-Dragons: Was effectively this in the vanilla game with Helman Ghorst, as they are both human necromancers in service to Mannfred von Carstein. As of the Vampire Coast update, like Vlad, he's seemingly had enough of Mannfred and has become his own master once more, leading his own faction, and averting this.
- Consulting Mr Puppet: He can be heard arguing with his Skull Staff during combat. Then again, lorewise the skull staff is actually talking back...
- Deal with the Devil: He made a pact with the Chaos Gods that he would spread destruction in their name if they gave him back his wits and magical skills. This is even reflected by one of his new campaign bonuses: he gets a whopping thirty bonus to diplomacy with factions that worship Chaos, making him the only Chaos-aligned Necromancer in the series so far.
- Dragon with an Agenda: In Heinrich's Warhammer 1 campaign intro, it's essentially stated that his alliance with the vampire lord is one of mere convenience. In Mortal Empires, he's not allied with Mannfred at all.
- Evil Old Folks: An old man and a power-hungry necromancer.
- Evil Sorcerer: Obviously.
- Evil Sounds Raspy: Has a wheezy, rasping old-man voice to underline his sinister nature.
- Genuine Human Hide: His robes are made from human skin.
- Lampshade Hanging: In one of his in-game quotes he can be heard asking "Where is Krell?". This makes fun of the fact that his Chaos Lord-turned-Wight bodyguard was missing from the game at launch. In the lore, Krell is almost always with Kemmler everywhere he goes. He was finally made playable after the "Old Friend" FLC was revealed to be him.
- Magikarp Power: Kemmler is completely outclassed at the start of every Vampire Counts campaign by every other Legendary Lord. Once he begins investing skill points into making the already formidable Krell even more powerful, he begins pulling his weight a lot more during the mid-and-late game, bringing a free (and permanent) powerhouse of a summonable hero to the battlefield.
- The Minion Master: Kemmler can temporarily summon Krell once per battle as a powerful Legendary Hero unit. He also has a skill chain dedicated to improving Krell's attributes, which culminates in making Krell immune to the usual life-decay of summoned units.
- Mythology Gag: His Mortal Empires faction, "The Barrow Legion", takes it's name from a semi-canon army list written in White Dwarf for Kemmler a very long time ago.
- Necromancer: The greatest living necromancer in the setting. Emphasis on living.
- Obviously Evil: It's notable that even in a faction made up of the living dead and their monstrous masters, Kemmler comes off as the most obviously evil of the bunch. His lines sound like a Saturday morning cartoon villain.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Kemmler had a bad case of this in the first game, which only got worse with the release of Vlad, Isabella and Ghorst. With the release of Krell in the Old Friend FLC Kemmler got an unique factor back, and as of Mortal Empires he's now in possession of his own faction and immunity to attrition.
- Robe and Wizard Hat: His are, appropriately enough for a necromancer, adorned with bones, skulls and human skin.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: His hat is wrapped in what appears to be a snake skeleton, with its skull resting at the tip, while animal skulls adorn his shoulders.
- Squishy Wizard: Especially when compared to Mannfred. Heinrich's statline is actually slightly worse than a generic Master Necromancer at the beginning of the campaign, and he cannot ride mounts; making him extremely vulnerable and requiring constant protection. Fortunately, he has Krell to offset this weakness.
- Took a Level in Badass: Meta example, and one of the most shining examples in the series so far. Kemmler in the Warhammer 1 days was basically the laughing stock of the entire fanbase; an absolutely garbage Legendary Lord that was never picked, didn't feel like his lore at all, mocked for being an underling of Mannfred, and had worse stats than the generic Necromancer Lord! The Old Friend FLC, however, gave him his own little niche as The Minion Master, but even then, people were far more afraid of Krell then Kemmler. Mortal Empires, however, not only gives him a host of very powerful buffs, such as a mount, a bunch of way more useful campaign bonuses, proper abilities that reflect his lore, alongside the powerhouse that is Krell, it finally made him his legitimate power in his own right, no longer a subordinate to the Vampires. Kemmer has gone a very long way.
- Vampire Wannabe: Averted, which is unusual for necromancers in the Warhammer universe. A lore piece in the 4th edition reveals Kemmler thinks of necromancers who join up with vampires for the promise of immortality are all idiots. While Kemmler is an Immortality Seeker, he wants a living form of immortality.
- Wild Card: Kemmler explicitly serves no-one but himself, and has only aligned himself with the Midnight Aristocracy out of convenience...which as Mortal Empires has ended, and has Kemmler striking out on his own.
- Who's Laughing Now?: One of Kemmler's lines on the campaign map are "They will ALL pay..."
Helman Ghorst, Necromancer Lord
Helman Ghorst was once a man, the youngest of five brothers living in the village that would one day be Castle Templehof. The loss of his father and brothers to a plague sent Ghorst into an obsessive madness; he began studying the black arts in the hope of returning his lost kin to life. Coming to the attention of Mannfred von Carstein, the Count taught him necromancy, transforming Helman into something beyond the grief-maddened man from Templehof. Now, he is carried through the night on a bone-ridged cart; pulled not by horses, but by the brothers he so desperately wished to save each a once-handsome farrier restored to a mockery of life, forced to stumble along at the head of their brothers unliving host.
Helman Ghorst is a Legendary Lord available to those who purchased The Grim and the Grave DLC.
- Adaptational Badass: Of a sort. In the background lore Helman was a capable but not exceptional necromancer. Certainly not of the level of someone like Heinrich Kemmler. In this game, however, not only are his spells every bit as effective as those wielded by any other caster with the Lore of Vampires, but he possesses a number of unique traits and skills that allow him to outshine Kemmler in nearly every respect. This was eventually phased out at the game progressed. With the addition of a massive slew of buffs aimed at Kemmler (including his trademark right hand, Krell, the Lord of Undeath), the opposite has happened, and now Kemmler and Helman are at their proper levels of power, with Kemmler by far the superior Lord choice, with Helman being a powerful, but lesser, necromancer that serves as a secondary support character to his liege lord Mannfred.
- The Apprentice: To Mannfred, having learned everything he knows about Necromancy from the dark Vampire Lord, and he remains his most devoted follower.
- Animate Dead: All users of the Lore of Vampires can do this, but unique to Ghorst is the spell Awaken from the Grave, which instead summons a unit of Grave Guard or (when overcast) a Wight King.
- Ascended Extra: On the tabletop, Helman is nothing but a bit of flavor lore relating to the Corpse Carts◊, and has no model, rules or presence in the greater setting. In Total War: Warhammer, however, Helman is a Legendary Lord capable of commanding armies.
- Badass Bookworm: Is both a powerful sorcecer, and a well read scholar. To reflect this he grants a very useful bonus to research via his Neophyte trait. Combine it with another unique trait he can unlock at a very early level (level 4) and you gain twice the research bonus from him. Quite useful if you don't have Necromancer Towers yet or you have them too few.
- Cast from Hit Points: The Liber Noctus allows Ghorst to boost his power recharge rate and shave sixty seconds off all of his current ability cooldowns, at the cost of suffering damage.
- Co-Dragons: Is effectively this with Heinrich Kemmler, as they are both human necromancers in service to Mannfred von Carstein. Though he is the only one of the pair stated to be explicitly loyal to Mannfred.
- The Dragon: By Warhammer II and the launch of Curse of the Vampire Coast, however, Kemmler struck out to form his own sub-faction, leaving Ghorst as Mannfred's official second-in-command.
- Driven to Suicide: When his brothers died, Helman attempted to contract the plague as well from their dead bodies. It didn't work.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite being a sinister necromancer, he sincerely loves his brothers.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He started as a mere peasant who wanted to bring his brothers back from the dead. Now he leads armies of the undead on behalf of Mannfred von Carstein.
- Magic Knight: His unique skill tree is focused on giving Ghorst more survivability in combat, by heavily buffing up his melee defense and melee attack, turning him from a Squishy Wizard into this.
- Necromantic: Platonic example: Helman's Start of Darkness was a desire to resurrect his four brothers, who had died from a plague in their home village. Now they pull his personal Corpse Cart in battle.
- Poisonous Person: If Helman is chosen as your starting Lord, all units in his army gain poison attacks.
- Poisonous Friend: Mannfred was seemingly this to him, being solely responsible for his Start of Darkness. Though it does appear Maanfred's fondness for him is genuine.
- Start of Darkness: His was the loss of his family to the plague, which eventually drove him to the study of necromancy in a desperate attempt to revive them.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Liber Noctus, a tome of necromancy that was bestowed upon Ghorst by Mannfred von Carstein, after he graduated from his apprenticeship as a gift. The book is derived from one of Nagash's own tomes.
- Undying Loyalty: What he's noted to have for Mannfred, as he's genuinely very loyal to his master.
Vlad von Carstein, former Elector Count of Sylvania
Vlad von Carstein was the first Vampire Count of Sylvania, and the founder of the Von Carstein bloodline. He was dreaded by many as the monster that has brought the darkness upon the lands of Sylvannia after his marriage with Isabella von Drak, daughter of the late Imperial Count Otto von Drak. His bid for power and the desire to rule the whole Empire as his own have ensured the total collapse of the Imperial province, and heralded the beginning of the first Vampire Wars from 2010 IC onwards. Though his death signaled the end of the grueling conflict in 2051 IC, the lands of Sylvania were forever cursed with the powers of the Undead, becoming the breeding grounds for a multitude of Necromancers, Vampires, and other dark creatures. As the years go by, the land will forever be shunned by the other Imperial provinces, and every other century another one of Vlad's own blood-line rises up and challenges the Empire in hopes of fulfilling that which Vlad could not.
Vlad Von Carstein is a FLC legendary lord available to everyone after Update 3, and may be used in the Grand Campaign, Custom Battles and Multiplayer. Together with his wife, Isabella, he also leads the sub-faction of the Von Carsteins, which can be played in custom games and the Grand Campaign.
- Affably Evil: Underneath his unlimited ambition, infinite ruthlessness and other vampire-related evilness is a decent person, who Vlad occasionally lets show.
- Archnemesis Dad: As of the Old World Edition, he starts as an enemy of his vampire son Mannfred, whom he sees as an uppity little traitor.
- Authority Equals Ass Kicking: Led the von Carstein family because he was the most powerful of them, which does say something. And now he aims to again by showing his son who the true lord of Undeath is...
- Back from the Dead: Died at least four times during the Vampire Wars (the last one sticking due to the lack of his ring) before returning at the onset of the game.
- Battle Couple: With Isabella von Carstein. When reinforcing/being reinforced by Isabella's army, both characters gain bonuses to their combat prowess.
- Vlad and Isabella also start out able to recruit the other right off the bat, and at a discount. Every other faction in the game need to do something to unlock whatever Legendary Lords they didn't start with.
- The Berserker: On the battlefield, Vlad seems to let his animal instincts get the better of him, becoming a raging ball of unholy death, complete with screaming, and erratic swords swings.
- Big-Bad Ensemble: Vlad rules the Von Carstein subfaction with Isabella, while Mannfred rules the primary Vampire Counts faction.
- Blood Knight: Easily the loudest and most aggressive of the undead Legendary Lords introduced, to the point where one of his quotes when commencing a field battle is to simply scream "Blood!". Were it not for his name and appearance, you could easily mistake him for the actual crazed Blood Knight of the von Carstein family, Konrad.
- Bling of War: His wargear, is extremely ornate, a heavy set of gold and iron plate armor, covered in Vampire iconography.
- Comeback Mechanic: The Von Carstein Ring can be activated to give Vlad an insane 90% ward save, giving him a few seconds of effective invincibility. Paired with the Invocation of Nehek and his Blood Drinker sword granting Regeneration, he can gain a burst of healing without his opponent being able to hit him.
- Cool Sword: Blood Drinker, a vampiric blade that exudes an unearthly green glow and constantly regenerates Vlad's health.
- Crutch Character: Vlad is frighteningly powerful out of the gate, with his high melee stats, all-army vanguard deployment and siege attacker trait, his low-level unique skills that give free XP to his entire faction (including garrisons) and his extremely powerful starting army (including vargheists and a unit of blood knights). He also starts two turns away from Castle Drakenhof, and can easily take it on his own if reinforced by Isabella. In terms of the lategame, however, he is less of a One-Man Army than a dragon-mounted Mannfred, and lacks Isabella's synergy bonuses to specific army builds.
- Cultured Badass: Vlad is genteel and well-traveled. When he took rulership of Sylvania, he was eager to learn the cultures of the Empire from his wife. On the campaign map, he speaks with both refinement and sophistication.
- Damage-Sponge Boss: Even among other Vampire Lords, who are all Magic Knights that can learn 'The Hunger' to gain a Healing Factor in direct combat, Vlad can learn that skill and gain two artifacts that boost his health regeneration even further.
- Demoted to Dragon: Initially played straight, as Mannfred was still the leader of the Vampire Counts despite Vlad's return, but later subverted once he and Isabella were moved into their own subfaction.
- Depending on the Writer: Being one of the oldest Warhammer characters (not as old as Kemmler, but still), Vlad has had many interpretations over the years, from an Ax-Crazy The Caligula who took control of Sylvania by butchering its ruling class in a Nasty Party and literally bathed in the blood of imperials during the Vampire Wars, to an Anti-Villain who wants to protect humanity from Chaos (the latter especially in The End Times, which saw him join the Forces of Order long before Nagash did). About the only thing that's remained consistent is his geniune love for Isabella, and the fact that he started the Vampire Wars by invading the Empire during the time of the Three Emperors. The Vlad shown in-game is closest to as he's presented in the Vampire Counts army books, a bloodthirsty and ruthless conqueror who nonetheless wants to rule the living instead of killing them all.
- The Dreaded: Can unlock the Supernatural Horror trait that grants him Terror.
- Elite Mook: Turns all regiments in his and all Vampire Counts armies into these via his Coven of The Undead trait he unlocks on level 4.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Deeply loves his wife Isabella and the feeling is mutual, to the point that Isabella was Driven to Suicide not long after Vlad's initial destruction. Fortunately, they both got better. Averted with Mannfred.
- Facial Horror: His skin features patches of decay, his hair is limp and stringy, and his nose has either rotted away or has deformed into vampire bat-like nostrils.
- Founder of the Kingdom: A villainous example. Vlad is the founder of the Von Carstein bloodline and the first vampiric ruler of Sylvania.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: In-universe: Downplayed as Vlad and Vampires are clearly dangerous, but the question is how dangerous they are. Vlad went from a strangely accented foreign nobleman of indeterminate origin to a conquering Vampire Lord. Vlad also did this to Vampires as a whole in regards to how the Empire views them. Vampires went from being seen as undead monsters who occasionally cause people to go missing from villagers and towns to conquerors of nations with armies of undead at their beck and call.
- Genius Bruiser: Not only is he a highly skilled swordsman, a competent mage, and a wrecking ball of speed and strength, he's a brilliant military genius that nearly conquered the entire Empire. He makes sure to instill his legions with some cunning, training both his own army with a massive experience gain each turn, and a still considerable experience gain for every army in his faction.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Vlad was known to be very handsome in life, and looked quite normal in his 4th-5th edition incarnation◊ (keeping in mind the earlier editions had a much more exaggerated style). His in-game version is more in leaning with the model used from 6th edition onwards◊, implied by the tabletop game to be his Game Face.
- Join or Die: As per his quote, he's big on this. When the army of Otillia III chose to fight him at the beginning of the Vampire Wars, Vlad killed everyone in the army for their defiance, whether they died fighting, fled, or surrendered when the battle was lost.
- Master Swordsman: By far the most gifted Von Carstein when it comes to swordplay, Vlad is highly skilled with the broadsword, and can reliably fight against most opponents. It's said that only Aborash the Blood Dragon could surpass his own skill, who happens to be the Master Swordsman of Warhammer.
- Magic Knight: Leaning more towards the knight than Mannfred, as Vlad is most well known for his melee prowess and insane durability.
- Mighty Glacier: Vlad has no mount options, unlike Mannfred and Isabella, and is stuck footslogging it. In between Blood Drinker and the Von Carstein Ring he is immensely difficult to put down, and having an infantry model makes him much less vulnerable to massed ranged fire.
- Multiple-Choice Past: It's unclear who Vlad was before becoming a nobleman in Sylvania. Some say he was sired by Queen Neferata's husband. Others say he is Neferata's husband using a different name. The End Times go with the later interpretation, but the game itself offers no hints... barring having a diplomacy affinity with Arkhan the Black and the Servants of Nagash.
- Obvious Rule Patch: Vlad Von Carstein was almost single-handedly responsible for the introduction of a regeneration cap to the game's mechanics: Without the cap (and while the Von Carstein Ring gave regeneration) he was Nigh Invulnerable.
- Predecessor Villain: As the founder of the von Carstein bloodline, Vlad is this to Mannfred von Carstein and the Midnight Aristocracy itself. He's also responsible for the current state of Sylvania by using an incarnation from the Books of Nagash (and a giant pile of Warpstone) to blight the land and cloud the skies.
- Pro-Human Transhuman: Vlad is said to have cherished his tenants the way a peasant family cherishes a beast they are fattening for a Midwinter Feast, and put a great amount of time and effort into making Sylvania better than it was run by his predecessor, who was known as the Mad Count. In-game he can get downright courteous to his living allies, even Empire or Dwarf ones.Vlad: The Men of the Empire are always welcome in my court!
- Rasputinian Death: In the lore, Vlad's final death involved him being thrown off Altdorf's battlements into a pit of wooden spikes (impaling him) by the Grand Theogonist of Sigmar (who landed on top on him just for that extra impalement). His body had all his limbs broken, tied into a bundle with silver wire, holy wafers and garlic was stuffed in his mouth, and he was buried in sacred ground beneath said Grand Theogonist. In-game, Vlad's high HP, Leadership and melee stats, coupled with his Ring and regeneration, more or less ensures he'll always be the last casualty on his own side.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Contrasting with Mannfred, who has Prophet Eyes.
- Replacement Goldfish: Over the course of one of his quests, Vlad will request that a vampire hero be attached to his army — ostensibly to serve as one of these to Isabella von Carstein. Curiously due to an oversight, this quest remains even with Isabella back (and thanks to their Battle Couple mechanics, almost certainly standing right next to him)!
- In the original edition, if you didn't chose him as your starting Lord, the only way to unlock him was by razing Altdorf — the site of his previous defeat — to the ground.
- In the Old World Edition, he's coming after Mannfred for being The Starscream.
- Ring of Power: The Carstein Ring, which bestows a Comeback Mechanic upon Vlad, and in lore, made him Nigh Invulnerable.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Canonically, Vlad was defeated and destroyed at the Siege of Altdorf in IC 2051, over five-hundred years before the events of this game. While Vlad does eventually return to life in the setting, it won't actually happen until the opening months of the End Times, twenty years later.
- Spikes of Villainy: Has several massive spikes protruding from the back of his armor, in the style of Blood Dragon armor.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Meta example. As of The Old World Edition, Vlad has gotten a lot nicer, and is very courteous on the diplomacy screen, and seems to be genuinely warm towards his allies, unlike Mannfred who always has an undertone of mocking. He's still a maniac on the battlefield, however...
- Unholy Matrimony: With Isabella, being the setting's triumphant (or to be specific, only) example of an evil character with a completely happy home life.
- Vampire Monarch: The first of the Vampire Counts of Sylvania.
- Vampire Vords: Downplayed, but Vlad has a noticeable Hungarian accent, unlike the English accents of his descendants. This is justified by the fact that, unlike most of his descendants, Vlad is not imperial by birthnote and as such affected a fake accentnote in order to pass himself off as a foreign nobleman when he went to claim the hand of Isabella.
- Worthy Opponent: Defied. In the speeches for one quest battle he curses that he hasn't found one among the men he's fought; wishing for someone like the warriors of his time.
Isabella von Carstein, Heir of the Mad Count
Isabella was the daughter of Otto, last of the mad von Drak counts of Sylvania. On his deathbed, without a male heir, he swore he would rather marry his daughter to a daemon than let his brother Leopold inherit. Then, one stormy night, a black coach arrived at Castle Drakenhof and a stranger demanded entry. He had a strange accent, but he was a noble and called himself Vlad. He had come to claim Isabella's hand. Unwilling to give his daughter to any noble from Sylvania, and because of his oath, Otto agreed to the marriage. The ceremony was performed before the dying count's bed, and when it was complete, the last von Drak expired. With his death, Vlad von Carstein became the new elector count of Sylvania. However, what began as a marriage of convenience had, over time, grown into something much more. After a few years of his rule, Isabella had fallen sick with an incurable illness. Unable to be cured by the doctors, Vlad dismissed them. He could not imagine spending the rest of eternity without her, and so gave her the Blood Kiss. She was ever afterward pale and never left her chambers save by moonlight.
Together, Vlad and Isabella firmly ruled Sylvania for many years and were unchanged by time. In the meantime, many of the nobles were also plagued by the same disease the Isabella had, and soon, castles in Sylvania were home to nocturnal and long-living folk. When Vlad assembled a nightmarish army to commence the Vampire Wars, Isabella stood at his side, and took her own life when she learned he had perished at the climactic Siege of Altdorf. Now, centuries later, Isabella rises again to be with her beloved, and to take vengeance upon the craven Empire and those among the vampires who had abandoned them to their fate.
Announced on Valentine's Day 2017, Isabella became available at the release of Bretonnia's grand campaign, and is part of a Vampire Counts subfaction — the Von Carsteins — alongside her husband Vlad.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Both Vlad and Isabella's tabletop models were given a more feral-looking makeover between the 5th and 6th editions of the tabletop game, but Vlad resembles his new model while Isabella resembles her old model.
- Adaptational Badass: In the tabletop game Isabella was a hero unit rather than a lord and was only a level 1 wizard note . In this game however she is not only a lord choice, but is also every bit as effective a spellcaster as her husband note .
- Admiring the Abomination: Makes such a remark during one of her quest battles, in regards to the Beastmen, stating that "They might be beautiful if they weren't so terribly disgusting".
- Ascended Extra: A downplayed example compared to Ghorst and Duke Alberic, but Isabella in the tabletop can't be an army general and instead forms a dual unit with Vlad (who will always be the general instead). Here, she is a Legendary Lord in her own right.
- Battle Couple: With Vlad von Carstein. When reinforcing/being reinforced by Vlad's army, both characters gain bonuses to their combat prowess.
- Vlad and Isabella also start out able to recruit the other right off the bat, and at a discount. Every other faction in the game need to do something to unlock whatever Legendary Lords they didn't start with.
- The Beastmaster: Many of her Army skills are geared towards buffing Vargulfs, Dire Bats and Terrorgeists, and it's noted in Flavor Text that she surrounds herself with the natural predators of Sylvania because she adores them so much.
- Bowdlerise: Her tabletop model◊ had pronounced, visible cleavage as well as exposed panties, but her armor in this game - much like her official art for the tabletop rule book◊ - makes sure to keep most of it covered.
- Somewhat ironically however, the generic vampire hero unit seems to be directly modeled after Isabella's tabletop look, complete with Absolute Cleavage.
- Dark Action Girl: Isabella is one of the only two female Legendary Lords available in the first game; the other being Morgiana le Fay of Bretonnia, and unlike the Fey Enchantress, Isabella is a highly sinister figure, an inhuman monster who fights with both powerful magic and quick swordplay.
- Dark Mistress: Acts as this to Vlad von Carstein, though they technically are married.
- Depending on the Writer: Similar to her husband, especially with regards to the opinion she held her father in. Some stories even go so far as to portray her as the calmer of the two, tempering Vlad's hotheaded side.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She and Vlad deeply love each-other, to the point that Isabella was Driven to Suicide not long after Vlad's initial destruction. Fortunately, they both got better. Again, averted with Mannfred.
- Evil Matriarch: Served as the "mom" to Vlad's vampire children, including Mannfred and Konrad. Still does, but not to Mannfred anymore.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The only vampire to have them, to boot. Isabella's irises glow a vivid teal, similar in color to the Glowing Eyelights of Undeath found throughout the Vampire Counts' army roster.
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Just because you have to wear armor, doesn't mean you can't make it look stunning together with a dress.
- Magikarp Power: In contrast to Vlad being a Crutch Character. While she picks up steam a lot slower, with her lower melee stats and worse starting units, Isabella has mount options, a unique red tree that makes an army made out of vampiric beasts frighteningly effective, and her faction bonuses to vampire hero damage means she can load an entire army full of vampire heroes and curbstomp practically anything the AI can throw at her.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Finally reunited with her husband, what is her first order of business? Simple. To ravage through the lands of Sylvania until she can get her hands on that ungrateful bastard Mannfred and tear him to shreds for betraying his parents at Altdorf!
- Spared by the Adaptation: Canonically, Isabella committed suicide following Vlad's death in IC 2051, over five-hundred years before the events of this game. She does come back in the setting during the End Times, but with a daemon of Nurgle possessing her and fighting for the Forces of Chaos.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Vlad is a decayed, snaggle-toothed monster, but Isabella remains beautiful, if eerily doll-like. There isn't a single blemish on her entire body.
- Unholy Matrimony: She and her husband Vlad have shared a genuinely happy, loving marriage for all the centuries they've spent as undead abominations leading armies of horrors in their attempts to force the Old World under their dark rule.
- Vampire Vords: Like her husband, Isabella has an Eastern-European accent.
The Red Duke of Mousillon
The Red Duke, also known as the Scourge of Aquitaine, was the former Bretonnian Duke of Aquitaine during his mortal life. An avid crusader and mighty warrior, he contracted a mysterious illness during his participation in the Great Crusade against the Arabyans. Falling mortally ill, he was taken back to his realm by his loyal knights, there to die in bed after three nights. Mourning the loss of their beloved Duke, the people buried him in a tomb fit for a king. However, this was not the end for the duke. Three nights later, the door of the tomb opened and out stepped the duke — reborn as a dread vampire.
The Red Duke is the leader of the NPC faction Mousillon in the Grand Campaign, and is playable in custom games and multiplayer after beating the "Season of Revelations" mini-Campaign in the Realm of the Wood Elves DLC.
- Ax-Crazy: As any proper Blood Dragon, he also gets the Frenzy special rule.
- Blood Knight: Both literally, and figuratively. He's a a Blood Knight of the Blood Dragon order, and someone who hungers for blood and slaughter, the Red Duke being one of the most infamous members of the entire order.
- Evil Gloating: As he shares his dialogue with the generic Vampire Lord, he's fond of doing this when you come to negotiate with him:"You reek of anguish, or hopelessness, haha! Yes, let us parley!"
"Morrslieb glows... I can tell, for you come thinking to bargain; but I have already won!"
"There is desperation in your pitiful eyes! That knowledge alone will be leveraged against you!"
- Fallen Hero: Formerly a brave, heroic duke of Bretonnia, and is now a horrid monster of the Night.
- Non-Player Character: The Red Duke cannot be selected as a Legendary Lord in the Grand Campaign — instead, he exists as the leader of an AI-controlled minor faction.
- No Name Given: The only Legendary Lord without a proper name; he is known only by his title.
- Palette Swap: There's not much differentiating him from a regular Vampire Lord outside of better stats and one unique spell. The faction of Mousillon itself is a palette swap of the main Vampire Counts faction, only with all the red markings replaced with yellow.
- Promoted to Playable: In much the same vein as Boris Todbringer, the Red Duke was originally a generic Vampire Lord in charge of Mousillon — a Vampire Counts minor faction within the lands of Bretonnia you probably wouldn't even fight in the average Grand Campaign. Now he's a minor Legendary Lord that can be unlocked by completing a challenge campaign.
- Spikes of Villainy: His armor is covered in them.
Krell, the Lord of Undeath
In life, Krell was a Lord of Chaos, the master of a bloodthirsty warrior kingdom that existed within the lands of the Empire over fifteen-hundred years before the birth of Sigmar Heldenhammer. With Khorne as his patron and the night goblins as his allies, Krell attempted to storm the lands of the dwarfs, ransacking the holds of Karak Ungor and Karak Varn before being slain at the battle of Karak Kadrin.
Millennia after his demise, Heinrich Kemmler discovered Krell's tomb and managed to restore his powers and abilities by forging a pact with the gods. So it was that Krell rose from the dead once again as a wight, to fight alongside his new master.
Introduced in the Old Friend Free-LC, Krell is a Legendary Hero that can be summoned by Heinrich Kemmler as a special ability in singleplayer and multiplayer battles.
- Ax-Crazy: Krell still has the mindset of a Norscan berserker, all he cares about is inflicting violence.
- An Axe to Grind: Benefiting a former Champion of Khorne. The Black Axe is a massive two-handed battleaxe that glows with baleful blue light. In the lore the axe is a vile weapon that leaves shards of metal in the wound, which slowly worm their way towards their victim's heart.
- The Berserker: Krell's undeath has changed little when it comes to fighting style, which is relentlessly powerful strikes with his axe until his victim is nothing more then a bloody pulp.
- Black Knight: He has the appearance of one, as do all wights, but he gets the look even better, as unlike other wights Krell wears ancient, yet expertly forged, Chaos Warrior plate armor which has been modified to sport Vampire Count iconography and colors rather than symbols of the Ruinous Powers.
- Brains and Brawn: The Brawn to Kemmler's Brain. Krell is actually a lot more sapient and independent than he lets on, but remains firmly aligned with Kemmler and lets him call the shots despite the necromancer's... eccentricities.
- Brick Joke: One of the very first memes in Total War: Warhammer's community was inspired by Kemmler openly lampshading Krell's absence during a developer gameplay preview. As Creative Assembly geared up to release Total War: Warhammer II, they released a free DLC that finally included Krell in the base game, as a summoned companion for the Lichemaster.
- The Dragon: He's both Kemmler's bodyguard and primary enforcer, although many have questioned Krell's true loyalty.
- Enigmatic Minion: Krell rarely speaks, and usually carries out Heinrich's orders with brutal efficiency, with a certain coldness that contrasts with his status as a Norscan Champion of Khorne. He seemingly has little personal loyalty to the Lichemaster, barring some gratitude for raising him so he can slaughter once more, it's just convenient to serve him. The End Times, and his summon spell's Flavor Text, reveal his first, and only true loyalty is to his old lord Nagash.
- The Ghost: He was mentioned quite a bit in the early days of the game, even before he became an actual Hero Unit, mostly by his "old friend".
- Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: Like all wights, his eye holes are inhabited by spheres of cold, blue energy.
- Herd-Hitting Attack: Though most Lords, Heroes and Legendary Lords have this, Krell has this to an even bigger degree, being able to send about a fifth or quarter of an enemy squad flying with each swing of his axe.
- Hero Killer: Despite being an excellent source of crowd control with his Herd-Hitting Attack, Krell is very adapt at fighting other heroes. Any other hero who tries to face Krell in a straight fight, will be subjected to a Curb-Stomp Battle. In the background, Krell holds the honor of being the one who almost felled Gotrek Gurnisson, a legendary slayer, and inspired an aura of dread that almost made Gotrek fear him.
- Horny Vikings: A Norcan Chaos Champion in life, he still wears a great horned Norscan-styled helm, which has giant protruding horns from it's side.
- Right-Hand Attack Dog: His role to Kemmler.
- Undying Loyalty: Not to Khorne or Kemmler, but to his true liege lord Nagash. Alongside Arkhan, he's among his most fanatic and loyal followers.