The Empire | Bretonnia | Dwarfs | Elves (High Elves | Dark Elves (Malekith) | Wood Elves) | Lizardmen | Vampire Counts | Tomb Kings (Nagash) | Daemons of Chaos | Warriors of Chaos | Beastmen | Chaos Dwarfs | Skaven | Greenskins | Ogre Kingdoms | Others
—Emperor Magnus the Pious
Founded by warrior-turned-god Emperor Sigmar Heldenhammer who united the tribes of men in the region that would become the greatest human nation in the world, The Empire towers in size and military power over its neighbors. Extending from the World's Edge Mountains kingdoms of the Dwarfs to most of the eastern Old World, it is comprised of ten grand provinces, each ruled by an elector count who votes on who takes the throne of Emperor after the death of the last one. The Empire is mostly comprised of humans, but has welcomed a few other species within its borders — several major cities are home to Dwarf communities, Halflings control the province of the Moot, and Gnomes live in isolated villages in rural areas. Its current leader is the Emperor Karl Franz.
In battle, the Empire can field a diverse array of fighting units. The backbone of the Empire's armies are their average but disciplined state troops holding tight ranks against the enemy. In addition, the Empire can call upon its Knightly Orders to form a deadly cavalry, the Sorcerers of the Eight Colleges with their magic and their esoteric constructs, the war machines of the Imperial Engineers Schools, or the fanatical worshippers of Sigmar. While not any of these units may be the best in their category, the Empire can play on the weaknesses of any foe.
The Empire is expansionist (when it can be) but also open to trading and diplomatic relations with other nations, which resulted in it gaining both the semi-renaissance steampunk technology of the Dwarfs, and being taught magic from the Elves, both of whom consider the human nation beneath them but still a necessary ally against the threats to the world.
Though better than the wilderness, it is still a pretty terrible place to live. Peasants from the northern regions are forced into conscription to beat back the never-ending tide of Norse warbands, Orc tribes, and Beastmen. Templars of Sigmar, better known as Witch Hunters, prowl the villages and cities, eradicating even the smallest taints of heresy with extreme prejudice. And amongst the nobility, it seems only the Emperor himself, Karl Franz, cares for the fate of the nation as a whole and not just his own well-being.
As for cultural themes, it's mainly Germanic, with a dash of the British Empire thrown in for good measure. In essence, it resembles the Holy Roman Empire, only more zealous.
- Ancestral Weapon:
- The mighty warhammer Ghal Maraz was the personal weapon of the Empire's founder and has been wielded by almost every Emperor since. Gifted to Sigmar by High King Kurgan Ironbeard, Ghal Maraz is also a symbol of the alliance between the Empire and the Dwarfs.
- The Runefangs are a set of twelve Absurdly Sharp Blades forged by the famous Dwarf Runesmith Alaric the Mad and presented to the chiefs of the Human tribes who joined with Sigmar to create the Empire. These weapons have since been passed down through the families of these original chiefs and are now a symbol of the power and authority of the Elector Counts who rule the provinces of the Empire.
- Awesome, but Impractical: A lot of their experimental weaponry is this, leaving them relying on regular polearms, swords, muskets, and cannons more often than not. A lot of said weaponry is based on real 16th-17th century inventions that never saw widespread use for the same reasons.
- Steam tanks. Only eight exist in the entire Empire, they're perpetually in a near-constant state of breakdown, and they're completely irreplaceable; if one is lost, it's lost forever (there used to be twelve). Moreover they're quite slow and armed worse than a war wagon (just a steam gun and a single small cannon), so they're not the game changer you'd think they'd be even when they're both present and functional.
- Helstorm Rocket Batteries are devastating when they land, but with no aiming mechanism it's hard for them to actually hit anything other than the ground. As is typical for high-end Empire gunpowder weapons, they're also uncomfortably likely to explode in your face due to the finnicky fuses.
- Helblaster Volley Guns can unleash a devastating hail of lead in seconds, but take ages to reload after the first salvo (every barrel needs to be individually loaded) and are extremely unreliable. Or, in the words of the 7e army book, "prone to sudden, cataclysmic explosions; those crewmen who operate a machine so prone to catastrophically blowing them to tiny pieces tend to be paid up with the priests of Morr."
- The grenade launching blunderbuss is pretty nifty when it actually works, but soldiers are frequently skeptical to use it because of the high chance that the grenade will detonate prematurely and take their hands with it. This is on top of it having a short range and an explosive charge that's too small to deal splash damage (which are the main things making it impractical in-game).
- The mechanical steed must be regularly wound for its clockwork mechanism to work, which is understandably not doable on the battlefield. Said mechanism can also injure the person wounding it or just break with no warning. Moreover, even when it does work, the mechanical steed is slower than a regular horse (movement 8 and initiative 3 vs movement 7 and initiative 1), less protected than said regular horse with barding (it has no armor save; probably because its frame can't handle the additional weight of heavy armor), takes no more punishment to destroy than a regular horse (both are 1 wound; probably because its internal mechanisms are quite fragile), and has a 1/6 chance of malfunctioning every time it moves 70 or so yards,note leading to its immobilization after a few such breakdowns. As a result it's almost never seen, and the army book's fluff text refers to it as "one of the Engineer School's most dubious inventions."
- Pigeon bombs. Based on the wargame's mechanics, there's a roughly 1/3 chance that it'll actually do anything useful, compared to a 3/6 chance of exploding harmlessly in mid-air or a 1/6 chance of blowing up a friendly unit. Animal-guided bombs never worked in real life even with [[ creatures more intelligent than pigeons]], so this is unsurprising.
- Badass Normal: The Imperial Army holds the line against daemon-worshipping vikings, insane braying Beastmen, sadistic Dark Elves, the Vampires and their undead minions, brutal fight-happy Orcs and all kinds of other monsters through righteous fury, More Dakka and continually averting Call That a Formation?. In a sense they are even more Badass Normal than the Astra Militarum — fighting a daemon with a laser rifle is nothing next to fighting the same daemon with a steel sword. Aside from rare and modestly-powered wizards, the almost-unseen steam tanks, and the occasional lord mount, it took until the game's last edition (technically an Alternate Timeline from the previous ones due to the Storm of Chaos/End Times difference) for the Empire's roster to include any units you couldn't find in real-world 16th century Germany.
- BFS: Imperial Greatswords, the elite soldiers and bodyguards of the Imperial state troops, fight with masterfully forged zweihander swords that are as long as their wielder is tall. Greatswords are capable of employing these massive blades with great skill, and with strength enough to cleave a knight and his horse in two with a single blow. In-game, zweihanders are great weapons, boosting the wielder's strength at the cost of speed in combat.
- Blade on a Stick: The halberd is the traditional weapon of Empire and regiments of State Troop Halberdiers form the backbone of many armies. Some states, especially those lacking in funds, field regiments of Spearmen alongside, or in place of Halberdiers. Both weapons have their own strengths and weaknesses with the in-game rules for halberds boosting the strength of its wielder but preventing them from using a shield in combat, while the length of the spear allows extra ranks of troops to attack.
- Balkanize Me: The Empire was Balkanized for 1000 years:
- Approximately 1400 years ago in-universe, Emperor Mandred Skavenslayer who had seen the Empire through the worst crisis since Sigmar was assassinated. For 200 years, the Empire was without an Emperor. Then the electors finally made their decision, electing the Sigmarite Elector-Count of Stirland. The Elector-Countess of Talabecland, Ottilia, declared herself Empress, claiming that the election was a sham (there were also religious issues relating to Sigmar's divinity), with the support of the cults of Ulric and Taal. The two sides went to war and Ottilia won a decisive victory, defeating the electoral Emperor in a huge battle.
- For another 200 years, the two sides were locked in what amounted to cold war. Then the Elector-Count of Middenheim managed to secure the support of the cult of Ulric and declared himself the Wolf Emperor. The three sides fought for another 400 years, when the Grand Theogonist refused to accept the newest elected Empress (an infant) at which point the Elector-Counts of Reikland advanced their own claim.
- And then it got even worse: the Vampire Counts of Sylvania laid siege to the Empire, beginning another century-long war.
- This came to a head around the year 2300 of the Imperial Calendar (200 years before the in-universe present), when a massive Chaos invasion threatened to end the Empire once and for all. A minor noble from Nuln managed to reunite the Empire and defeat the forces of Chaos, was unanimously elected Emperor, and became the greatest Emperor since Sigmar. His name? Magnus the Pious.
- Cool Sword: The Runefangs, powerful runic swords forged by one of the greatest Runesmiths of history, Alaric the Mad, are both the symbol of an Elector Count's office and a precious weapon enabling mere humans to stand a chance against all the horrors that would destroy the Empire. The Drakwald Runefang, the only one without an official owner since Drakwald was destroyed, can be fielded and the Runefang is worth its price. In-game, any hit with the Runefang wounds automatically and it ignores armour.
- Crapsack World: Although by far the most powerful and enlightened human nation, the Empire is riddled with so many frailties (corruption, Chaos cultists, mutants, rebellious lords, plutocrats, ignorant populaces, the list goes on) that it's amazing that the nation doesn't simply implode (actually, it has in the past, but that's another story). It's mostly held together by Karl Franz's sheer force of will.
- Death from Above: The Empire has several ways to rain down death from above. The Master Engineers use pigeons trained to carry a bomb towards a target, but have a chance to return to its master with said bomb still ticking and ready to blow. The Empire's mortars are a much reliable method of sending explosive ordnance up into the sky and then back down around the enemies' heads.
- Divided We Fall: United, the Empire is a powerhouse that bulwarks the entirety of Order and breaks all enemies over its knee, as proven by many occasions from Blackfire Pass to the Great War to the Storm of Chaos. But the Empire is very seldom united, being a loose confederation of de facto independent states that spend most of their time feuding with each other. All of their enemies' successes, such as much of the Skaven Wars and Vampiric Wars, came during times of great internal strife for the Imperials, and those successes ended when the Empire finally managed to unify.
- Drop the Hammer: Ghal Maraz is the Emperor's weapon, which is also the warhammer that the title of the franchise refers to. Because of the hammer's significance to the Empire, warhammers have become one of the state's symbols and is commonly wielded by the Cult of Sigmar's Battle Priests. Finally, the Knights of the White Wolf also use warhammers.
- The Emperor: It is an Empire after all, so above the Elector Counts who manage their own provinces stands an Emperor who governs the Empire in its entirety as well as the province of Reikland. The title is not hereditary but elective. Upon the death of a reigning emperor, the highest lords of the Empire are assembled to select a new one. Each of the ten Elector-Counts have a vote (though they almost always vote for themselves), the Church of Sigmar has three votes (one for the Grand Theogonist, and one for each Arch-Lector, though the Theogonist casts all three votes), the Cult of Ulric has one vote (cast by the Ar-Ulric of Middenheim), and the Elder of the Moot has one vote. The Theogonist almost always casts his votes in favor of the Elector-Count of Reikland, meaning that he wins.
- The Empire: It bears the name, although it doesn't get many chances to expand its territory as it is surrounded by mountains in all directions but North where there is Kislev, an allied state, and the Sea of Claw just above. Indeed it generally seems more like The Federation due to the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by the Elector-Counts.
- Fantastic Nature Reserve: The Imperial Zoo at Altdorf, a popular tourist attraction holding numerous fantastic beings and monsters, such as pegasi, hippogriffs, wyverns and chimeras, brought back by adventurers and armies from all over the world. It also serves as a home for the Empire's fiercer war beasts, such as griffons, including Emperor Karl Franz's favorite mount, Deathclaw, and the Imperial Dragon.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of the Holy Roman Empire, of which it copies the electoral imperial system, the subdivision into a large number of bickering fiefdoms, the early modern Germanic culture (down to the language, Reikspiel, being somewhat mangled German) and technology, and a geography dominated by vast pine forests and great rivers. Their religion is basically a generic form of Germanic paganism with the organization and aesthetics of the Catholic Church. Likewise, the founding tribes of the Empire are based on the Germanic peoples of Classical Antiquity such as the Brigundians (Burgundians) and the Ostagoths (Ostrogoths) mixed with the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: The Hellhammer Wargalley from the Gaiden Game Man o' War mounts the truly immense Emperor Cannon that runs almost the entire length of the ship, taking up the majority of the its main deck. The cannon is held in a forward facing position by massive iron bars so that it doesn't shift when fired, and is so large that the Hellhammer can only carry enough ammunition for three shots.
- Four-Star Badass: The Generals and Captains of the Empire are no Chaos Lords, but being mere unpowered humans does not stop them from being Frontline Generals who will meet the foe head-on and remain some of the toughest men of the Empire, both in body and spirit. With Weapon Skill 5, Strength and Toughness 4, and Leadership 9 to 8, Generals and Captains are cheap and reliable Lords, if poorly suited to duels against tougher models.
- Gatling Good: The eccentric Master Engineer Volker von Meinkopt invented a number of rotary firearms that were later used by the Empire's military forces including the repeater pistol, the repeater handgun and the dreaded Helblaster Volley Gun. All of these weapons consist of a number of single-shot barrels that rotate to bring them into line with the firing hammer in order to increase the weapon's rate of fire.
- Gladiator Games: While illegal, underground pit fights and gladiatorial combats are mentioned in some background material and pit fighter characters have made appearances in Gaiden Games such as the original version of the Dungeon Crawling Warhammer Quest and the skirmish-scale Mordheim.
- The Gunslinger: The Pistoliers and Outriders of the Pistolkorps ride horses and use guns, acting as a fast harassing cavalry. The Pistoliers, being young nobles eager to test their mettle, are usually the Agent Peacock, wearing lavishly decorated armor in contrast to the older and more experienced Outriders in charge of keeping the former in line.
- Hold the Line: The Commanders of the Empire know that discipline and keeping ranks is the only way to defeat enemies that would overpower several men on their own. Their Hold the Line! rule grants them the possibility of rolling 3D6 to test their units Leadership if it breaks and choose the two best dice, giving the unit a better chance to stand its ground together as the Commanders watch for discipline.
- Home Guard: Free Company Militia are composed of local men enrolled into the army by force or because they were promised payment. In any case, their only claim to fame is that in game they are Dual Wielding and they are exclusively used as Detachments which flank and deliver a good number of weak attacks for dirt cheap.
- Horny Vikings: Not nearly to the extent of the Warriors of Chaos, but the Ulrican order has a very Nordic flavor about it. The ancestors of the modern Empire, the various tribes that were united by Sigmar, are pretty much Vikings crossed with ancient Germans.
- Humans Are Warriors: The Empire is the most powerful state in the Old World, mainly because of the third variation of the trope. The Empire have professional soldiers drilled to avert Call That a Formation? and be highly disciplined. Despite Orcs WAAAGH!s, Beastmen raids, Vampire invasions, and Chaos, the Empire has held for centuries of constant warfare.
- Jack of All Stats: As an army, one of the Empire's strength is its ability to field a wide array of different units for different purposes. Magic? Battle Wizards do the job, just don't get into magic duels with High Elves. Archers? Not as good as the Wood Elves but we have archers. The big guns? Plenty, but Dwarfs are comparable and more precise, while Skaven equivalents are significantly more powerful at the cost of reliability. Cavalry? Yep, but Bretonnians do it better. Melee? Greenskins and Chaos Warriors outshine them but it can be done. Numbers? The Empire has plenty, but it's the Skaven and Undead who are the kings of We Have Reserves. Big monsters? Griffins are present as steeds for characters, but the Lizardmen are the real specialists in this field. Almost everyone is better than the Empire at something, but the Empire is always better than its enemies at something else too.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The Helstorm Rocket Battery is a downplayed version of the trope, although it retains the main idea of firing several rockets at the same time to balance the rockets poor accuracy. Thus, it fires D3 Rockets in salvos, said rockets exploding on a small template with Strength 3 but Armour Piercing.
- Master Swordsman: The famed Greatswords are an elite heavy infantry unit with full plate armour and of course their eponymous swords which in game count as great weapons. Some of these companies such as the Carroburg Greatswords have managed to attain nationwide fame. Having Weapon Skill 4 and Stubborn, they are a somewhat elite unit meant to stand in the thickest of the battle.
- More Dakka: The Hellblaster Volley Guns very philosophy. It isnt meant for precision firing but for sheer volume of fire to obliterate whole units. Thus, with lucky rolls on Artillery Dice, a Hellblaster may shoot up to 30 Strength 5 Armour Piercing shots.
- Multiple Government Polity: The Empire is made up of multiple territories belonging to various nobles, who theoretically owe fealty to the Emperor. There's also the city of Marienburg, which purchased its freedom centuries earlier and which the Empire would very much like to get back as it's just about the only port where elves will trade.
- National Animal Stereotypes: Bring the Empire a pastiche of the Holy Roman Empire and the Napoleonic German states, is heavily associated with griffins — they turn up very often in its heraldry, while flesh-and-blood griffins serve as flying steeds for its leaders.
- National Weapon: It is noted in some sources (like WFRP 2e's core book) that most Imperial soldiers use one of two weapons: the halberd and the handgun. Gunpowder in general has an almost religious significance among the Imperials and has been key in all their victories for nearly a thousand years.
- Non-Uniform Uniform: It's stated in lore that there isn't a strict rule for uniforms for State Troops, leading to a lot of variations between units. One common denominator is that soldier will usually and proudly display the colours of their province.
- The Penance: Because the Empire is beset by threats both from without and from within constantly, many citizens have begun to think that they have entered the end times. Large groups of Flagellants, self-whipping Crazy Homeless People screaming The End Is Nigh, are a common sight in the Empire's towns. In-game they are a close quarters infantry unit meant to throw themselves in the thick of battle, prone to frenzied berserking but impossible to rout. When they charge enemy units, a random number of Flagellants is killed, creating martyrs that send the rest into a religious fury. Thus, on a dice roll, the Flagellants either become Ax-Crazy and reroll all failed rolls to hit the enemy or Feel No Pain and gain increased toughness.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Empire is a highly sophisticated state but has accumulated quite a few pointless bureaucracies as have the individual electorate-counties due to its mass. An especially large number have cropped up in the Imperial Palace in Altdorf, all directed at controlling access to the Emperor.
- Our Gryphons Are Different: The Empire breeds "Imperial Griffons", which are bigger and stronger (though slightly slower) than the regular wild Griffons. These are powerful mounts that give Empire Lords a chance at fighting enemies that are typically impossible to defeat. A subtype seemingly popular as a mount for wizards has two heads. Then there are the Demigryphs, a small (compared with other Griffons — they're still bigger than a horse) wingless variety used as elite cavalry mounts by the knightly orders.
- The Protagonist: The Empire are the undisputed protagonist faction, with the High Elves as a somewhat distant second. They have the most edition updates of any army and were usually the first ones to get one. Of the three global campaigns Games Workshop ran, two (Storm of Chaos and Nemesis Crown) were very firmly Empire-centric. All of the hundred plus books of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay series focus almost entirely on the Empire with perhaps 10-20% of the focus given to every other place in the setting combined (usually in their own dedicated sourcebooks). Similarly the vast majority of the series' 150+ novels are set in the Empire and have Imperial protagonists. They also take up the lion's share of the focus in the video games; Dark Omen, Shadow of the Horned Rat, Mark of Chaos, Age of Reckoning, Mordheim, Chaosbane, Vermintide, and Vermintide II are all set primarily in the Empire and, while featuring many factions, also have mostly Imperial protagonists. The Total War: Warhammer subseries started off with a map centered on the Empire with them as the clear headlining heroic faction, and while the High Elves took that role from them in the second game and Cathay again in the third, the Empire still gets heavily represented in those games while the latter two factions weren't in the first at all; the third game's map even leaves out half of Cathay in order to cram nearly the entire Empire on it, despite the game ostensibly being centered on the east. Finally, depending on the timeline, the world was either doomed or saved in a massive battle in the middle of the Empire between a reincarnation of the Empire's founder and a fallen Imperial knight. The titular warhammer that adorns the cover of every core rulebook is even their national symbol.
- Pyrrhic Victory: The Battle of Altdorf. While the Empire ultimately prevailed against Nurgle's hordes, the capital was ruined, half of the population had died and Bretonnia had expended much strength in the Empire's defense. And Archaon was still coming with his own hordes.
- Redshirt Army: The State Troops, with stats 3 all around and an average 7, do not particularly shine by their prowess on the battlefield and die in droves in the lore. Nonetheless one could consider them Badass Normal who through teamwork, discipline and numbers, can hold against anyone. Their respectable equipment and discipline also makes them better pound-for-pound than the foot soldiers of most other factions.
- Altdorf, besides being the Empire's capital, is one of the biggest centres of learning and research in the Old World. It's home to the University of Altdorf, a location big enough to occupy an entire district of the city; to the Imperial Engineers School, which produces some of the greatest technological innovations of the Empire; and to the main campuses of the Colleges of Magic, making it the de facto centre of all magical study in the Old World.
- Nuln has a similar reputation. However, while the capital is a cosmopolitan centre for all kinds of knowledge, Nuln is much more of an engineer's city: along with being a hub of heavy industry and defended with numerous ingenious mechanisms, it's home to the famous Imperial Gunnery School, where artillery specialists, demolition experts and other technical specialists learn the fine art of blowing stuff up.
- Skull for a Head: The famous Death's Heads regiment of Halberdiers from Ostermark were ornate masks fashioned into the image of a grinning skull. This dates back to the time of the Vampire Wars where the members rebellious regiment wished to protect their identity from the Vlad von Carstein's informers.
- Steampunk: The Empire has recently entered the era of steam power and sophisticated machinery. Its engineers, ever inventive, have created a number of more or less reliable machines such as mechanical horses or steam-powered tanks.
- Tank Goodness: The Empire possesses eight Steam Tanks, metal behemoths of a self-moving vehicle armed with powerful weapons which are notably on wheels despite being called tanks. Of the genius Leonardo di Miraglianos twelve original tanks, eight have survived to the present day and the lost plans has made their maintenance increasingly unreliable. Relying on its boiler to power its every system, the Steam Tank is a peculiar unit to use in game. The Boiler can generate a number of Steam Points which are spent to power either the Steam Engine to move around, powerful Steam Cannon or its Steam Gun which shoots a jet of scalding steam.
- Überwald: Sylvania is technically a part of the Empire, but is ruled by frickin' Vampires though only in a de facto fashion. The vampires still had to keep their heads down or the warrior priests, witch hunters and knights of Morr will come crashing down on them until Mannfred revealed himself openly, reuniting the Vampire Counts into a strong force.
- We Have Reserves: The Empire has advanced technology, advanced economies, a nascent industrial sector, pioneering universities and a burgeoning knowledge economy, wizarding schools and powerful allies in every cardinal direction. Yet, the bedrock of its strength will always be its vast armies.
- Acrofatic: Despite their gluttonous ways meaning most halflings sport stomachs so bulbous they're practically spherical, they are surprisingly stealthy, swift-moving and dextrous.
- Amazon Brigade: A halfling army in the tabletop game can take a single unit of Housewives, as well as taking two female heroes in the form of the Matron and the more powerful Lady. They have vicious tempers and are tougher than the standard militia, and fly into berserk furies if other halfling units take casualities within a close radius. They have a unique magical banner they can take which is flavored as a washing line full of clean wet clothes.
- Ascended Extra: Originally, halflings only existed in the lore, but they got Promoted to Playable in both the RPG and in the wargame itself with a Black Library Approved article written in Citadel Journal #36 for 5th edition, which was a team-up between Wayne Oldfield of the Nottingham Games Club and British author Dave Lee Stone.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Halfling housewives are characterized as pretty harridan-like in the army unit, which literally says you can only have a single unit because they are too jealous of other halfling women hanging around and sees them armed with stereotypical "nasty housewife weapons" like rolling pins and frying pans. But their special rule has them enter Frenzy if any halfling models are removed as casualties within 8 inches of their unit, which is flavored as them flying into a rage at their husbands or boyfriends being hurt.
- Big Eater: The gluttony of halflings is literally their primary defining trait. They eat almost constantly, and even their only god whom any major detail is provided for is the one who governs cooking and eating!
- Big Fun: Halflings tend to be either fat and jolly types who haven't a care in the world... or else scheming, self-centered, wicked little thieves who also happen to be fat as butter.
- Chef of Iron: Halfling cooks are hero and lord characters in the semi-official Halfling army, whilst the Halfling Hot-Pot is a "war machine" consisting of a team of halfling chefs lobbing cauldrons of boiling soup at the enemy with a giant slingshot.
- Hobbits: Warhammer's halflings are very, very recognizably set up as rip-offs of the original Tolkien halflings. This is especially notable in their original army list; the Moot General wields a magic sword called "Glammyding", a parody of Gandalf's blade Glamdring, whilst the army can take parodies of the Fellowship of the Ring called Olorin the Grey Wizard, Aragand the Layabout, Giblet the Dwarf, and Legles the Elf. Aside from the jokey tone, the biggest differences to give them a Dark Fantasy slant are a) playing up their gluttony, and b) infusing them with a bunch of negative British stereotypes about rural farm people — they're foul-mouthed, randy, thieving drunkards who are largely if not mostly criminals.
- Horse of a Different Color: In the army, halfling cavalry is made up of a mixture of sheep riders, goat riders, giant eagle riders, and swan riders, whilst characters can ride not only the aforementioned giant birds, but also a pegasus or a baby dragon.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Halflings are completely immune to the malevolent and mutative touch of Chaos. A halfling could literally juggle warpstone and suffer no ill effect. Unusually for this trope, this in absolutely no way makes them nice people, and many halflings are straight up assholes.
- Improvised Weapon: In the halfling army, the units tend to carry very improvised or makeshift weaponry. Two of their units are farming machinery repurposed into warmachines and a literal flock of very, very angry poultry that is driven towards the enemy. The Housewives unit is flavored as being armed with all manner of womanly tools; rolling pins, frying pans, brooms, mops, barrels, etcetera. This is even reflected in the models, which are often carrying improvised gear, like a dartboard as a shield.
- Lethal Joke Character: While they are competent archers and poachers, halflings are never treated as mighty warriors, and their lore typically tends towards the light-hearted and jokey, but they can prove to be surprisingly effective in the right circumstances and with a bit of luck, especially when given favorable terrain. In-game, despite their poor stats, the semi-official 5th Edition army proved to be quite effective.
- Odd Friendship:
- Halflings are the only race in the Warhammer world whom Treemen are presented as liking, in an homage to Tolkien's Ents. Even the Wood Elves, whose armies the treemen normally fight in, are generally characterized more as "tolerated" than anything else.
- Ogres have a strange instinctual affection for halflings, and whilst they do sometimes eat them, they much prefer to keep them around as cooks.
- Odd Job Gods: In addition to worshipping some of the less martial Imperial deities, halflings have a small pantheon of six gods, about which only their names and portfolios are known: Esmerelda, Goddess of Hearth and Home; Josias, God of Farming; Hyacinth, Goddess of Fertility and Childbirth; Gaffey, God of Building and Villages; Quinsberry, God of Ancestry and Traditions; and 'Phineas, God of Smoking Tobacco.
- Put on a Bus: Halflings of all sorts, even as Dogs of War units, were written out of the game in 7th and 8th edition. Even then, their army only ever appeared in 5th edition, and was essentially fan-made.
- Serious Business: Food. Absolutely nothing is so important in halfling culture as cooking and eating. Esmerelda, whose portfolio covers food, is the only halfling god whose religious tenets we know:
- Never refuse food to the hungry.
- Never use cooking utensils for anything else.
- Never water ale down.
- Never eat less than three quarters a meal a day.
- Never do anything strenuous after a meal.
- Never leave anything unattended while it is cooking.
- Always observe Pie Week.
- Supreme Chef: Halflings are legendary for their skill at cooking. They even won the property rights to the Moot by plying their cooking skills on the particularly gluttonous Emperor Ludwig "the Fat" Hohenbach II.
- To Serve Man: Some halfling lore has hinted that they are willing to murder and eat humans who make the mistake of being too disruptive in halfling communities.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Pies. Halflings will eat anything and love it, but they are absolutely mad for pies, and have a celebration in honor of the goddess Esmerelda calle Pie Week, a week-long holy festival dedicated to cooking and eating pies. It's so popular that even their human neighbors have come to celebrate Pie Week.
Sigmar Heldenhammer, the founder of the Empire, is worshipped as a god by the people of the nation, and this worship is concentrated into his widespread and powerful church. The Church of Sigmar is a highly militant organization, as Sigmar is a god of war and expects his followers to solve their own woes through skill in arms; as such, most Sigmarite priests are at least passable with a warhammer, and many march alongside Imperial armies in times of war. In civilian settings, the Church is a major player in Imperial politics — the Grand Theogonist and two arch-lectors each hold a vote in choosing the new Emperor — and often finds itself at odds with the churches of the Empire's older gods, especially that of the wolf god Ulrik. Sigmarite orthodoxy also distrusts the practice of magic, often seeing it as a wholesale embrace of the foul power of Chaos, and relationships with the Colleges of Magic also tend to be strained as a result.
- Anti-Magical Faction: Originally, the Church's doctrine held that magic is a wholly abominable affair and that its practitioners are all tainted puppets of Chaos, and punished magic use by death. This was formally ended by Magnus the Pious, who legalized magic use within the purview of the Colleges of Magic, but most members of the Church and its branches still view magic with deep suspicion and mages as, at best, ticking time bombs waiting to explode.
- Bald Head of Toughness: Warrior Priests typically shave their heads as an act of devotion. Their vestments are armor and the Cult of Sigmar demands that they express their faith through battle.
- Church Militant: Sigmar only accepts prayers for battle and defending the homeland, so Warrior Priests and Witch Hunters go to openly fight in the battlefield where they rouse devout soldiers to bravery. These devotees fight with the power of Sigmar supporting them or by hunting heretics that need to be slain. The former are generally portrayed positively, the latter negatively.
- Cool Car: The War Altar of Sigmar is a unique giant chariot commissioned by Magnus the Pious and which Arch Lectors occasionally use as personal vehicle and speech stand on the battlefield. It was created by the most skilled artisans of the Empire, lavishly decorated with holy symbols and items, and most notably bears a giant Golden Griffon statue wielding a hammer. As an altar imbued with the power of Sigmar, it can launch the Banishment spell, with the Holy Fervour rule it grants Hatred to units nearby and The Power of Sigmar rule buffs the range of Holy Prayers. Finally, it can be upgraded with the Horn of Sigismund, giving it the Terror rule.
- Knight Templar: Members of the Church of Sigmar are utterly convinced of their own righteousness, and are willing to perform some rather heinous deeds — including systematic religious repression and the torture and execution of their own citizens — in the pursuit of their holy charge.
- Religion is Magic: The Battle Priests and Arch-Lectors of the Cult of Sigmar can channel the power of their god through battle prayers, performing holy miracles in Sigmar's name. In-game, these prayers are treated as spells that don't require their casters to draw from the ambient magic that wizards do. Hammer of Sigmar allows the priest's unit to reroll failed to wound rolls in close quarters, Shield of Faith grants him and his unit a 5+ ward save and Soulfire grants the unit the Flaming Attacks rule with automatic hits against Daemons and Undead.
- Warrior Monk: The Warrior Priests and Arch Lectors of the Cult of Sigmar fight evil with miracles but also their hammers as the Cult of Sigmar only really performs offices when openly fighting the Empire's enemies. With Weapon Skill Strength and Toughness 4, these Priests are not to be trifled with. They possess the Righteous Fury granting them and the unit they are in the Hatred rule.
The Witch Hunters
The Witch Hunters — formally the Holy Order of the Templars of Sigmar, originally the Order of the Silver Hammer — are technically a part of the Church's hierarchy, but in practice operate independently of any oversight but their own, although they still recognize the direct authority of the Grand Theogonist. They are charged with hunting down and eradicating heretics, Chaos cults, illegal magic-users, the undead and assorted monsters, which they do with extreme prejudice. They view themselves as the only bastions between the Empire's continued survival and the creeping tide of Chaotic corruption; most others seem them as a mob of fanatical maniacs drunk on their own unchecked power.
- Arsenal Attire: Witch Hunters often wear longcoats with lead balls sewn into their rims (for use as bludgeoning weapons if they're otherwise disarmed) and boots with poisoned, spring-powered knives concealed in their heels.
- Badass Longcoat: The Witch Hunters wear greatcoats as part of their standard uniform (along with a capotain) as a Shout-Out to the traditional outfit associated with real life and fictional witch hunters.
- Crazy-Prepared: Witch Hunters need to be prepared for every eventuality because of the diversity of the threats they face, and consequently carry a considerable variety of Hidden Weapons, specialized poisons and assorted tricks on their persons at all time. Their Tools of Judgement rule represents this by allowing them to reroll failed to Wound rolls against Wizards, Daemons, and all Undead. The Witch Hunter's Handbook even mentions using a retracting blade to falsify an accused's invulnerability to the knife to convince doubtful onlookers that the accused is clearly a strange threat.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The sight of a Witch Hunter invokes dread in the innocent and guilty alike, for they are uncompromising-yet-fallible individuals on an unending mission that they will not shirk from. A variety of quotations attributed to them make it clear the speaker has no qualms killing as many innocents as it takes for them to find the truly-evil corrupters they're searching for. The Witch Hunter's Handbook was also clearly written by a Witch Hunter who was truly harsh, brutal, and very slow to declare innocence — but it also begins with a preface warning that the superior reviewing this work realized the author was obviously affected by his career and a second edition is being made which will tone down some of his more outlandish statements while endorsing its core values to leave it up in the air that there is a thing as too far to the Witch Hunters, but not making it clear what's exactly the final straw to them.
- Hidden Weapons: Witch Hunters typically carry a great variety of weapons hidden on their persons, ranging from extra guns and knives to weaponry incorporated into their clothing, pipes modified to act as blowdarts, boxes of toxic powders and collapsible, wrist-mounted bows.
- Hunter of Monsters: In addition to dealing with real and supposed heretics, Witch Hunters are also expected to find, track and neutralize monsters such as vampires, skeletal and spectral undead, beastmen, and daemons.
- Initiation Ceremony: Witch Hunters progress through seven ranks of initiation, each referred to as a Mystery and accessed only following a specialized ceremony and trial.
- Morton's Fork: The Witch Hunters' blessed silver bullets are sometimes used as a form of this. Those tainted by Chaos or dark magic are consumed by flame if shot with these bullets; if the target doesn't burn, then they are proven innocent by their clean death. Either way the subject dies, but as the Witch Hunters see it it is better to die untainted than to live under the sway of evil.
- Nerves of Steel: Witch Hunters need an unshakeable resolve to face off against the threats they fight; this represented by the Grim Resolve rule, which makes the Witch Hunters and the units they are immune to Fear with Terror downgraded to Fear.
- Noodle Implements: The Witch Hunter's Handbook describes some of the items necessary for undertaking the ceremony to be admitted into the First Mystery of the order of the Witch Hunters, which include a wild boar with one tusk painted black, three keys, a silver knife, a receptacle capable of holding three pints of liquid, a white robe made of material thin enough to tear, a length of stout rope, a leather-and-birch crop, and bandages and smelling salts. It's clear enough that the initiate needs to do something violent involving the boar, but the details are otherwise left to the reader's imagination.
- Silver Bullet: Witch Hunters load their pistols with thrice-blessed silver bullets that burst into flame on contact with evil magic.
- Sword and Gun: Witch Hunters typically wield a flintlock pistol in one hand and a saber in the other, using the former at range and the latter in melee.
- The Witch Hunter: To pursue all occult threats to the Empire such as unsanctioned wizards, necromancers and Chaos worshipers, the Empire under Magnus the Pious began to openly recognize the Order of the Silver Hammer and its Witch Hunters. Witch Hunters are officially sanctioned to seek the evildoers in whatever way they see fit. With such an open-ended goal and with ruthless methods available to them, Witch Hunters are as feared as they are necessary to the Empire, being the Mage Killer, the Vampire Hunter and Demon Slaying all in one. In-game, Witch Hunters are characters meant to hunt down other characters, their Accusation rule granting them the Killing Blow and Sniper rules against a particular character declared to be a detestable heretic.
The High Elf mage Teclis, who had come to the Old World to help hold back the northern hordes, agreed to instruct human magicians in the basic arts of wielding the eight Winds of Magic, establishing the Colleges of Magic within Altdorf and formal orders of magicians within the Empire. Nowdays, while popular sentiment isn't much more favorable towards wizards than it ever was, their craft is under the protection of Imperial law, and when the Empire musters its armies the battle wizards of the colleges march with them to bring the power of the arcane arts to bear against its foes.
- The Archmage: The Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the individual colleges are the most powerful, skilled and knowledgeable wielders of their specific Wind in the realms of men.
- Color-Coded Wizardry: Imperial wizards are trained to perceive the Winds of Magic as various colors and to tap into one specific Wind and color, and tends to also dress in robes matching the hue of their wind — blue for the Wind of Heavens, white for the Wind of Light, grey for the Wind of Shadows, red and orange for the Wind of Fire, brown and amber for the Wind of Beasts, green for the Wind of Life, and purple for the Wind of Death.
- Magic Staff:
- The symbol of office for the Supreme Patriarch is the Staff of Volans, an Amplifier Artifact that was crafted (and named) for the first Patriarch soon after the Colleges' founding.
- More generally, wizard models are almost always depicted as wielding tall staffs. These range from the Jade Wizard's simple gnarled stick to one topped with a saber-toothed beast's skull for the Amber Wizard, a scythe wrapped in black roses for the Amethyst Wizard, a metal staff tipped by a lit brazier for the Bright Wizard, and a staff topped by an elaborate orrery for the Celestial Wizard.
- Military Mage: Battle Wizards are wizards trained to go to battle and use offensive spells to destroy the enemy or counter the enemy's sorcerers' own spells.
- Wizard Beard: While facial hair is in fashion among Imperial men in general, it's very common for the models and art of male wizards to show them thickly bearded and whiskered, often in colors matching their preferred wind of magic.
- Wizard Duel: In order to become Supreme Patriarch of the colleges, a wizard must challenge the sitting holder of the title to a formal duel, which can be done every eight years. The clash takes place in a sealed chamber beneath the colleges, with the challengers standing at opposite ends and with the Staff of Volans, the Supreme Patriarch's symbol of office, in the middle; the title goes to the first to grasp the staff. These duels can get rather violent, but nobody dies. Usually.
- Wizarding School: The Colleges of Magic, although rather than true schools these work more similarly to medieval guilds, offering apprenticeships for fledgling magic-users, specialized training for more advanced wizards, and the ability for full-fledged members to conduct their own personal research.
The Amber Order
The wizards of the Amber Order are shamans and wilderness-tenders more concerned with the well-being of the Empire's wild places than with that of its farms and cities; most live out in the forests and mountains, protecting them from the taint of Chaos, and prefer the forthright natures of beasts to the deceitful ways of humanity. It is the only order not to maintain a College in Altdorf; when they must visits, its wizards stay in the Jade College. Its symbol is the Arrow of Taal.
- The Beastmaster: Amber Wizards use Ghur, the Lore of Beasts, to control wild animals and monsters and to impart the ferocity of the wild into themselves and their allies.
- Brutal Honesty: Amber Wizards detest subterfuge and dishonesty in any form, even the most innocuous, and are consequently notorious for being incredibly blunt and for delivering their views and opinions with no pretense at sugarcoating, tact, or diplomacy.
- Druid: Amber Wizards are reclusive hermits who wear animal furs, communicate with wild animals, and can give themselves and their allies the ferocity and physical traits of the beasts of the wild.
- Forest Ranger: Amber Wizards spend most of their time protecting the wilderness from intruders and despoilers. While they do deal with poachers and the like from time to time, they're mostly involved in preserving nature from the ravages of the Beastmen and other forces of Chaos.
- The Hermit: Amber Wizards tend to eschew and avoid human civilization if they have a choice in the matter, and instead prefer to live in the depths of the forest with only nature and wild beasts as company.
- Nature Hero: Amber Wizards tend to lead reclusive lives in the wilderness, speaking with birds and beasts, ensuring the fertility and health of the forest, and protecting the wild from the perverse influence of Chaos.
The Amethyst Order
Ill-omened and reclusive, the wizards of the Amethyst Order devote themselves to the grim task of protecting the Empire's dead and battling those who would enslave them. The order's symbol is the Scythe.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Due to their sinister magic, ominous dress, solitary and taciturn natures and preoccupation with places of death, Amethyst wizards are often seen as the most strange and frightening of their kind in an Empire that already doesn't trust magic users. Even the other Colleges find them off-putting and alarming.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Amethyst Wizards harness the Wind of Shyish, death, but are no more evil than any other wizard.
- Necromancer: Amethyst Wizards use Shysh, the Lore of Death, to perform necromancy in the classical sense, such as by communicating with the dead. They fiercely oppose the in-game necromancers for the perversion of the Lore of Death that they use.
- The Sacred Darkness: The magic of Amethyst Wizards is different from that used by necromancers — Amethyst Wizards, in particular, detest true necromancers, and use their magic to safeguard the cycles of natural death and protect the spirits of the deceased. The ignorance prevalent in the setting means most people are unaware of this, however, just seeing a magic-user with a scythe in both cases.
- Sinister Scythe: Amethyst Wizards tend to carry scythes as weapons and badges of office, which together with their use of death magic and habit of wearing dark, hooded cloaks makes them decidedly reminiscent of The Grim Reaper.
The Bright Order
The wizards of the Bright Order wield the Wind of Fire, one of the most passionate and destructive of the winds of magic, and reflect it in their tempestuous and temperamental personalities. The order's symbol is the Key of Secrets.
- Elemental Hair Colors: The hair and beards of Bright Wizards are almost always depicted as fiery coppers, oranges and reds.
- Elemental Personalities: Bright Wizards are typically characterized as impulsive, hot-headed, passionate, and prone to sudden mood swings.
- Flaming Sword: Artwork and models for Bright Wizards sometimes show them wielding a sword wreathed in flames, representing Lore of Fire spells such as Flaming Sword of Rhuin.
- Playing with Fire: Bright Wizards use Aqshy, the Lore of Fire, which allows them to create, magnify and control flames, shoot fireballs, create firestorms, enshroud their allies' weapons in flame or give themselves and other cloaks of fire.
- Wreathed in Flames: The Bright Wizards' 7th Edition model shows them shrouded in blazing fire.
The Celestial Order
To the wizards of the Celestial Order, knowledge is power, and true knowledge lies in the stars. Wise but often arrogant, the Celestial Wizards spend much of their time studying the heavens, tracking the shifting patterns of the stars and the ebbs and flows of their Wind alike. The Order's symbol is the Comet of Power.
- Astrologer: While they also use direct manipulation of Azyr to peer into the future, Celestial Wizards often specialize in divining future events from the motions of the stars and planets, studying the heavens through telescopes and astrolabes in order to know how to guid the Empire through impending events and calamities.
- Cosmic Motifs: Fitting its preoccupation with matters of the heavens, the Celestial Order uses a comet as its symbol. Its narrow tail and broadening head represent the ever-expanding knowledge of the order, and it points upwards to represent its transcendent ambitions. When a wizard dies, the comet symbols are instead angled downwards in mourning.
- Random Effect Spell: The Celestial Hurricanum can cast the Storm of Shemtek, a direct damage spell that targets an enemy unit with a random weather phenomenon taken from a set pool of effects and decided by a dice roll. This can result in light rain that achieves nothing, a blizzard that does a little damage, a tornado that rotates the unit, a lightning strike that deals decent damage, or a devastating meteor strike.
- Shock and Awe: The Celestial Wizards' attunement to Azyr, the Wind of Heavens, allows them to call down lightning bolts and to send masses of crackling electricity to fry enemy forces.
- Star Power: Celestial Wizards mostly practice a classical interpretation of this focusing on fate manipulation and divination, plus meteors, but with added aeromantic and lightning-based spells for combat — in classical thought, meteors and comets were considered sub-lunar (atmospheric, in our terms) phenomena, and thus fundamentally similar to lightning, wind and weather.
- Weather-Control Machine: The Celestial Order will occasionally field the battle altars named Celestial Hurricanums, giant orreries on wheels powered by one of Teclis' Orbs of Sorcery. Celestial Hurricanums are usually used to study the sky and stars, but also double as weapons. Their main draw is the Storm of Shemtek rule, a direct damage spell that can target the enemy from anything to a light rain to a tornado, lightning bolt or meteor strike.
- Weather Manipulation: Celestial Wizards' use of the Lore of Heavens allows them to call down lightning bolts, summon powerful gusts of wind and manipulate weather patterns to aid their allies and hinder enemy forces.
The Gold Order
The Magisters of the Gold College are intensely devoted to discovering the secrets of the material world, and spend as much time tinkering with alembics, powders and chemicals as they do casting spells. Most go about heavily robed and masked, as a lifetime of working with caustic and explosive chemicals does few favors for the body. The Order's symbol is the Eagle.
- Alchemy Is Magic: The study of the Lore of Metal tends to go hand-in-hand with that of alchemy, and Gold Wizards' study of their magic tends to involve a great of alembics, crucibles and alchemical reagents, with their magic often being used as one more component of their quest for the universal solvent and the secret of true transmutation.
- Animal Motifs: The Gold College uses an eagle as its symbol, as this is an important motif among the High Elves whose scholarly and magical traditions the College seeks to emulate.
- Conspicuous Consumption: Gold wizards usually wear ostentatious robes heavily laden with golden embroidery and jewelry to display their skill and mastery of their art.
- Extra-ore-dinary: Gold Wizards use Chamon, the Lore of Metal, which allows them to transform enemies into lifeless golden statues, transmute bones into molten iron, liquefy enemy weapons and armor, or burn foes to death with gouts of molten steel.
The Grey Order
Secrets and deception, both their foiling and propagation, are the stock in trade of the Grey Order, and the secretive, grey-shrouded wizards roam the Empire's lands on an endless quest to uncover conspiracies and hidden guilt. The Order's symbol is the Sword of Judgement.
- Casting a Shadow: Grey Wizards use Ulgu, the Lore of Shadows, which allows them to manipulate shadows and darkness. The spells of Ulgu involve using shadows for concealment and illusion, as well as transportation.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Grey Wizards harness the Wind of Ulgu, which is associated with secrets, deception and subterfuge, but are no more evil than any other wizard.
- The Sacred Darkness: The magic of Grey Wizards is chiefly intended to see through deceptions and suss out hidden schemes. The ignorance prevalent in the setting means most people are unaware of this, however, just seeing a shifty, darkness-wielding magic-user.
The Jade Order
The Jade Order concerns itself with safeguarding the cycles of life, seasons, and growth, so often perverted by Chaos and by man. They have a greater tolerance for urban spaces than their Amber kin, as the Wind of Life is less repulsed by large concentrations of humanity. The Order's symbol is the Coil of Life.
- Druid: Jade Wizards wear green robes, harness magic that controls plant life and heal their allies, and look after and safeguard the purity of wild place from the encroachment of civilization and the taint of Chaos.
- Druidic Sickle: Jade Wizards often arm or equip themselves with large sickles.
- Green Thumb: Jade Wizards channel Ghyran, the Wind of Life, to use a combination of this and healing magic — besides being able to heal and strengthen allies, they can influence plant growth or call on animated vegetation to attack their foes.
- Nature Hero: Jade Wizards are closely connected to the Wind of life, growth, cycles and nature, work to protect the fertility and health of natural lands, and combat Chaos' attempts to corrupt the natural world.
The Light Order
Hysh is the most diffuse of the Winds of Magic and the most difficult to master, but the challenge of doing so can be mitigated by many working together. As such, the Light Wizards are the most social of their kin, and the Light Order the most regimented and structured of the Colleges. The Order's traditions are also notable for seeming to be influenced as much by the traditions of the southern deserts as by those of Ulthuan, and beneath their pyramid in Altdorf the Order hides a great cache of imprisoned Chaos artifacts and monsters. The Order's symbol is the Serpent of Light.
- Animal Motifs: The Light College's symbol is the Serpent of Light, and its wizards make heavy use of snake symbolism in their clothes and gear.
- Energy Weapon: The Light College's Luminarks of Hysh are giant contraptions made out of a chariot bearing an array of lenses that focus the power of a Light Orb of Sorcery. A Luminark's main draw is Solheim's Bolt of Illumination, a magic ray of light that penetrates ranks, dealing increased damage against daemons and undead because Holy Burns Evil.
- Godzilla Threshold: Fielding a Luminark of Hysh is considered to be this because, while very powerful weapons, they're mainly used to contain evil artifacts at the College of Light. Taking one to the field weakens the protection around said artifacts and could spell doom for Altdorf.
- Light 'em Up: Light Wizards use Hysh, the Lore of Light, which focuses on the manipulation of radiance fight Daemons, heal the soul and body, and illuminate the mind and darkness alike.
- Secret Government Warehouse: The dungeons of the Light College are used to store and contain arcane artifacts obtained by Imperial forces. These include both arcane treasures of immediate or potential use to the Empire or the wizards in particular, stored to keep them safe and away from unwelcome eyes, and many malign objects and monstrous beings imprisoned to keep them from working their designs upon the world.
- Serpent Staff: Light Wizards often carry staffs topped with ornate gilded snakes, usually cobras, modeled after the Order's symbol.
Mechanical innovation is a very important concern within the Empire — the teams of trained gunmen form the backbones of its armies, artillery forms its hammer and rare war machines are valuable additions to any army that can claim them. Consequently, the Imperial government takes efforts to fund and promote the engineers who create, improve and maintain these devices. The Imperial Schools of Engineers are fairly decentralized, with several major cities hosting their own, but all operate in broadly the same manner; prospective engineers come there for training and afterwards often maintain workshops on their premises, where they constantly experiment with new designs, devices and experimental weapons. The devices thereby created are more than valuable enough to offset the costs of rebuilding these headquarters on a semi-constant basis.
- Ditzy Genius: Master Engineers are eccentric individuals prone to being sucked into projects that they focus on to the exclusion of everything else, forgetting to eat or sleep, and muttering incomprehensible nonsense to themselves as they tinker with bizarre contraptions. Most other Imperials think that they're quite mad, but they're also unquestionably geniuses in matters dealing with machinery, and their inventions have often proved instrumental to securing the Empire's safety.
- The Engineer: Master Engineers are regularly brought to the battlefield either to oversee the war machines of the Empire, or to test some new technological innovation. They possess the Master of Ballistics rule allowing a war machine unit nearby to use the Master Engineer's Ballistic Skill and reroll artillery dice. Despite their ability to use different guns, a Master Engineer is typically a Non-Action Guy and so they're subject to the Stand Back, Sir! rule which allows them to be protected by the crewmen like a character.
- Forgets to Eat: Often, when Imperial Engineers are struck by a new project or vision, they become so engrossed with their work that they entirely forget about trivial things like eating or sleeping until they finish their new creation.
- Grenade Launcher: The Master Engineers can wield a Grenade Launcher Blunderbluss, a Strength 6 Armour Piercing but More or Fire and Slow to Fire weapon. Its short range for such a crucial and fragile character makes it Awesome, but Impractical.
- Mechanical Horse: Masters Engineers have invented the Mechanical Steed, a quite sophisticated machine that runs as fast as a Warhorse. However, it is Awesome, but Impractical since its clockwork mechanism must regularly be wound, an impossible maintenance task on the battlefield. It is thus Unreliable, having a risk of losing points in Movement every turn.
- Random Effect Spell: While not a spell semantically, the Master Engineers' pigeon bomb attack functions this way mechanically — after declaring the attack, the controlling player rolls a die to see whether the pigeon bomb explodes uselessly midair, the pigeon reaches its destination, or the bird gets confused and flies back to the engineer.
- Sniper Rifle: Master Engineers can fancy playing the sniper with their Hochland Long Gun which has a range of 36 inches for a Strength 4 shot with the Armour Piercing, Move or Fire, Slow to Fire and Sniper rules.
The Knightly Orders of the Empire are brotherhoods of nobles who have forsaken their land, titles and formal influence to fight on the frontlines of the Empire's wars of survival. They vary greatly in size, scope and nature. Some are widespread and ancient, with chapterhouses in every province, while many are small and local groups who draw their membership from a single province's gentry; many chapters are secular in nature, or revere all deities equally, while others are fiercely devoted to a single patron god.
- Animal Motifs: The Knights of the White Wolf make heavy use of wolf symbology, while the Knights Panther use panthers and other large cats for this purpose, and the Knights of the Black Bear have ursine iconography. All of these orders, besides naming themselves after these beasts, depict them on their banners and wear their pelts in battle.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The motto of the banner of the Knights of the White Wolf, Lupus Weiss, is a hodgepodge of Latin and German stitched together to mean "White Wolf".
- Barbarian Longhair: The Knights of the White Wolf, fierce and wild knights from the north who worship the god of war and winter, traditionally wear their hair long and uncut.
- Beard of Barbarism: In addition to Barbarian Longhair, the Knights of the White Wolf habitually sport long, flowing beards.
- Boisterous Bruiser: The Knights of the Black Bear are infamous for being loud, rowdy, and proudly declaring their previous actions and their intended valorous goals. Usually while drinking in an inn.
- Born Unlucky: The Knights of the Everlasting Light suffer under a curse of unclear origin, which afflicts them with chronic and extreme ill luck — the knights of the order regularly find themselves thrown from their horses, their swords break in battle and the earth turns to quicksand when they ride across it, and famous knights of the order have even found themselves hit in the eye by ricocheted shots fired from behind them or thrown into the only dung-cart in the city when their horse reared; once they even lost an entire chapterhouse to a freak earthquake. Despite this, the order has dutifully soldiered on in the Empire's defense.
- Creepy Good: The Knights of Morr fight in deathly silence, worship the god of the dead, and are the subject of dark rumor and boogeyman myths across the Empire. Despite this, they're steadfast defenders of the Empire and welcome on any battlefield they join.
- Drop the Hammer: The Knights of the White Wolf are notable for using warhammers instead of the lances favored by the other orders.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Most knights go into battle fully armored, complete with face-concealing helmets. The Knights of the White Wolf, however, ride into war bareheaded to show their valor and to better display their long hair and flowing beards.
- Horse of a Different Color: While the bulk of any given order rides regular warhorses, the most distinguished members of its Inner Circle are occasionally permitted to saddle rarer and more exotic mounts; depending on the kind, these are either raised by the order or caught in the wild. The most common and notable of these are the demigryphs, wingless kin of the griffins that bear Imperial generals aloft, but there is also mention of knights riding giant wolves and other beasts. Regardless of type, these steeds turn the already formidable knights into incredibly deadly combatants.
- Knight In Shining Armour: The nobles of the Empire still ride into battle as knights. though they aren't nearly as slavishly obsessed with chivalry as Bretonnians. Empire Knights are more similar to real soldiers (as opposed to just mounted fighters) in that they value victory in battle more than any other virtue. In-game they form units of heavy cavalry who typically charge key dangerous foes, and their Grandmasters are fighting-oriented Lords thanks to their high Weapon Skill.
- Liquid Courage: The Knights of the Black Bear are famous for quaffing "bear's milk", a very strong dairy-mixed drink as a ritual before imminent battle.
- The Order: The Knightly Orders are sworn brotherhoods of Imperial nobles united under a shared banner and ideals, which typically focus on crusading in the name of a patron god (these specific groups are known as the Templar Orders) or the protection of a specific Imperial territory, of championing the Emperor himself, or of acting in the defense of the Empire as a whole. The Orders are highly exclusive in their membership, and nobles who seek to join one must forswear their claim to lands and titles, pass a rigorous set of initiation rites, and swear oaths to uphold the Order's mission and ideals.
- Praetorian Guard: The knights of the Reiksguard form the Emperors personal army and bodyguards. Because of the sheer prestige many knights and highborns try to apply to the Reiksguard but the Reiksmarshal only selects the most accomplished and loyal applicants. The Reiksguard forms a heavy cavalry unit on the battlefield with the Stubborn rule to represent their determination as the Emperor's best soldiers.
The Distinguished Leaders of the Empire
Emperor Karl Franz
The Prince of Altdorf and the Elector Count of Reikland, Karl Franz is the current holder of the title "Emperor of the Old World", a military genius and valiant general said to be the greatest statesman the Old World has ever seen. Riding atop either Deathclaw, his mighty griffon, or the Imperial Dragon, Karl Franz marches into battle alongside his men and leads from the front, wielding either the Runefang of Reikland or Ghal-Maraz, legendary weapon of the Emperor Sigmar.
- The Ace: Karl Franz is a great warrior, a tireless and competent statesman, and a fine amateur of art. It is no wonder many people claim that the Empire remains whole thanks to him first.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: He owns the Silver Seal, a talisman crafted under Magnus the Pious to protect its wearer from Daemons. In-game, it increase Karl Franz's resistance to damage and specifically makes him resistant to magical attacks.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: This guy is the leader of the Empire. He's also a major league ass-kicker.
- Big Good: For the Empire at least. He is a benevolent and competent leader both in times of peace and war.
- Bling of War: Karl Franz wears an ornate full-plate armour, with notably the highest feather panache known to man. It also applies to Deathclaw wearing an ornate breastplate bearing his master's blazon.
- Cool Sword: He wields the Reikland Runefang, the traditional weapons of the Counts of Reikland, should he choose not to use Ghal Maraz. If he uses the Runefang, then all hits dealt by him will automatically wound with no armour saves allowed.
- Cultured Badass: He's a great patron of the arts, drinker of fine wine, master politician, skilled warrior and one of the only non-Chaos-aligned humans to ever command the obedience of a dragon.
- Dragon Rider: Although it has never had an official model, one of the optional mounts available to Karl Franz is the Imperial Dragon, a mighty beast that only the Emperor has ever had the strength of will to ride. In many editions Karl Franz is the only human, not touched by Chaos, to be able to ride such a powerful monster.
- Drop the Hammer: Wielding Ghal Maraz, deadliest hammer in the setting, is the privilege of the Emperor. In game, Ghal Maraz's simple but quite powerful rules demonstrate how deadly it is: every hit automatically wounds with a Multiple Wounds (D3) bonus and no armour save allowed for the target.
- A Father to His Men: One of the reasons Karl Franz is so respected. In game, this gives his General bonus half again the usual range (twice the usual range if he's mounted).
- Nerves of Steel: In game, Karl Franz is Immune to Psychology, meaning the prospect of fighting zombies, dragons, giant and daemons doesn't faze him at all.
- Our Griffons Are Different: Karl Franz's favoured mount is his Imperial Griffon, Deathclaw. On top of all the usual rules and stats of a Griffon representing him being a terrifying flying predator capable of gutting a grown man with a flick of his claws, Deathclaw is fiercely loyal to his master and will go into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge if Karl Franz is slain.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Unlike many Imperial nobles, Franz is a competent and unselfish ruler, holding the interests of his realm and his people genuinely at heart.
- Significant Anagram: Karl Franz' family name is actually Holswig-Schliestein, which is basically the back halves of the Schleswig-Holstein state swapped around.
- Take a Third Option: In the now non-canon Storm of Chaos campaign, faced with the threat of having the Church of Sigmar split down the middle or a civil war and uprising caused by Valten's proponents who wanted him to become Emperor, Karl Franz instead handed Ghal Maraz over to Valten. This signified that he accepted the boy as a successor to Sigmar and granted him full authority to go kick ass while still maintaining his own legitimacy and status as Emperor.
Reiksmarshal Kurt Helborg
Reiksmarshal of the Empire and leader of the Reiksguard.
- Combat Pragmatist: A Bretonnian Grail Knight going by Viscount d'Alembençon attacked the Empire in a border dispute. It became a stalemate, and the Viscount proposed that the generals duel so that the loser's army was to leave the area (Helborg was initially unaware that d'Alembençon was a Grail Knight). The Viscount beat and injured Helborg quite handily, expressed his respect for him for fighting valiantly and regret that he had to slay him to prevent further bloodshed. Then Helborg's army attacked the Bretonnians while they were distracted, starting by blasting them with their cannons, and Helborg disarmed and decapitated Viscount d'Alembençon while he was shocked and outraged by the deception killing his men.
- Cool Helmet: He wears a helmet decorated with magnificently huge wings.
- Cool Crown: Not a real crown, but a laurel crown. The Laurels of Victory have been enchanted to magnify their bearer's stature to the enemy. In game, all wounds made by Kurt Helborg are "doubled" for calculating the result of a fight round.
- Cool Sword: Kurt Helborg wields the Solland Runefang, entrusted to him as one of the Empire's best champions. In game the Solland Runefang wound automatically with no armour save allowed.
- Nerves of Steel: Kurt Helborg is Immune to Psychology, representing his outstanding bravery against all the enemies of the Empire, however intimidating and monstrous they may be. The captain of the Reiksguard shouldn't be any less brave.
- Old Soldier: Despite his grey hair and advancing years, Kurt is still considered to be one of the two greatest swordsmen in the empire and has killed Grail Knights, Chaos Warlords and Vampire Counts in close combat without being strained. In the 8th Edition of the game, this is represented by his high Weapon Skill characteristic that, when combined with the Solland Runefang, he can stand up to all but the most melee-oriented of enemy champions.
- Praetorian Guard: Leads the Emperor's Reiksguard. His rule The Emperor's Chosen makes it so his prestige and courage becomes contagious and any unit he joins becomes Immune to Psychology like him.
- Really Gets Around: Is noted to have a lot of affairs with Imperial noblewomen. Or women in general.
- The Rival: To Ludwig, the only man to ever beat him in a duel. Usually, it's subdued, but once it was manipulated to the brink of ruin.
The Emperor's Champion.
- Celibate Hero: He was taunted by a Nurgle demon at the van Rauken to live a little by food or women, like Helborg's womanizing. Probably meant to contrast him from his rival.
- The Champion: To the Emperor, he is perhaps his best warrior and the bearer of his battle standard. In game his rule The Emperor's Bodyguard can be used if he is in the same unit as Karl Franz, take a wound meant for Karl Franz onto himself on a 2+ dice roll, representing his zealousness. However, none of this works if Karl Franz is in a proper duel.
- Combat by Champion: A common task for him to determine whether various nobles have broken the Emperor's laws. Most are liable to cut to the chase and confess rather than get, well, cut up by him.
- Cool Sword: The Sword of Justice is also an Ancestral Weapon passed down from champion to champion, being a runic sword of magnificent quality although its fame is way less than that of the Runefangs. In game, it grants the Killing Blow rule and allows failed to wound rolls to be rerolled.
- Evil Mentor: The General who trained Schwarzhelm successfully manipulated Ludwig into attacking Helborg out of paranoia during a riot in Averland, when Schwarzhelm was choosing a new elector count for the province. Helborg barely survived and the man Schwarzhelm chose turned out to be a Slaaneshi warlock.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Was just a simple villager until he was recruited into the army. From there he managed to fight his way up to being the Emperor's personal standard bearer, champion and judge.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Gives off this image, and is utterly committed to doing what he can to cut out corruption and power abuses within the Empire.
- Old Soldier: Ludwig is at least in his late forties or early fifties, and is still able to go up against Doombulls or Orc mobs with little trouble.
- Perpetual Frowner: Schwarzhelm is reputed to have never smiled in his life.
- Renowned Selective Mentor: Ludwig is concerned with upholding justice within the Empire not only through his own means, but looks for like-minded men to bring in his retinue that he may mold to also carry on his purpose and lead others themselves.
- The Rival: To Kurt Helborg, the only man able to ever beat him in a duel. Kurt killed the only fellow that's beaten himself in a duel in a rather underhanded way.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He's generally uncaring of the letter of the law, but as the Sword of Justice is very good at keeping up its spirit.
- Self-Made Man: He was born virtually penniless as the son of a common blacksmith. He joined the Imperial army and his might was quickly proven him until he reached a lofty position by the Emperor's side.
- Shoot the Dog: Had to put down his squire at van Rauken mansion after he was infected by eating Nurgle-afflicted food.
Marius Leitdorf, Elector Count of Averland
Elector Count of Averland and total, absolute nutter. Legendary for his many eccentricities, his bouts of screaming rage, his periods of melancholy, his mercurial conduct at court, and his constant improprieties with the wives and daughters of the nobility. Hated by many, particularly Kurt Helborg after Marius described him as having "a poor moustache, worse dental hygiene and a sense of humour to rival a Troll". Nevertheless, he was an accomplished poet, an inventor of some standing, an exceptional swordsman, and a military tactician who led his armies with considerable flair and skill, meaning his insane courage and uncanny insights resulted in a number of great victories. Karl Franz counted Leitdorf as one of his most trusted allies, and genuinely regretted his fall in battle against a massive Orc invasion.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: In spite of his madness, he was proven to be one of the competent Elector Counts and the most intelligent one in The Empire. Somewhat deconstructed in that Leitdorf's madness is such a liability that the only way his ability could express itself despite his madness is the Emperor personally stepping in to have Leitdorf appoint counselors that would rein in his worst bouts. In any case, a man with Weapon Skill 6 and a Runefang is not someone to scoff at.
- The Caligula: A more benevolent example than many. There is even a special rule dedicated to this trope: The Mad Count. Every turn in game, Leitdorf's model takes a Leadership test with 3D6, discarding the lowest result. If he fails the test, another dice is rolled and a number of things can happen. On a 1 Lunatic Ravings and Marius cannot act as he decides to recite a poem or do funny impressions of the Reiksmarshal. On a 2 Berserk Rage applies and he gains Frenzy because his favorite shirt of the day is torn off. On a 3 Paranoid Delusions applies and Leitdorf performs a single attack against an allied model he thinks conspires against him. On a 4 Tactical Brilliance applies and every friendly unit around Markus can reform as his tactical genius actually speaks. On a 5 Outrageous Insult applies as Leitdorf mocks an enemy in his way so the closest enemy character gains Hatred specifically for the Count. On a 6 Insane Bravado applies so Marius gets Frenzy, Stubborn and must accept all challenges as his courage multiplies.
- Caligula's Horse: He even frequently took advice from Daisy Kurt von Helboring II, his warhorse.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Marius Leitdorf is regularly subject to bouts of uncontrollable madness.
- Crazy-Prepared: As mad as Marius was, he was wise enough to store a huge amount of gunpowder inside the Averburg in Averheim which helped immensely against the Chaos invaders. Ultimately though, it wasn't able to save the city or the Empire against the numberless armies of Archaon.
- Dual Wielding: Carried both the Averland Runefang (which like all Runefangs wounds automatically on a hit and ignores armour) and a dagger and was capable of wielding them simultaneously. They both count as paired weapons, giving Leitdorf an attack bonus.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: He's a man of many talents and undeniably intelligent, but everyone either hates or just barely tolerates him. Therefore, it's saying something when only the Emperor regards someone like Marius as an ally he can trust.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Died in battle against an Black Orc chieftain at the third Battle of Black Fire Pass, but wounded the Orc enough for Karl Franz to finish the job, and his soldiers held the line long enough for the Reiksguard to take the Orcs in the flank.
- Jerkass: Well, at his worst anyway. He insulted a lady from Bretonnia, causing a short war between the local lord and the Empire.
- Mood-Swinger: See his The Mad Count rule, he will pretty much have a different mood every turn.
- Posthumous Character: Marius Leitdorf actually died in the battle of Black Fire Pass several years before the period the game is set in.
- Renaissance Man: He's a fierce warrior, a cultured man and a competent statesman. At least whenever he's not acting mad.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: He has this with the Reiksmarshal, enough so that he partially named his horse Kurt von Hellboring II and will make unflattering impersonations of him on the battlefield.
- We Named the Monkey "Jack": Marius named his horse Daisy Kurt von Helboring II to insult Kurt Helborg. Yes, Hel"boring" to make his detest particularly unsubtle. Oddly enough though, apparently he actually also takes advice from this horse despite naming after someone he hated.
Boris Todbringer, Graf of Middenheim and Elector Count of Middenland
Graf Boris Todbringer II is the Elector Count of Middenland. A great warrior and statesman, he made a bid for the imperial throne but was outplayed and defeated by Karl Franz. Boris remained deeply bitter about this for some years thereafter, until he was forced to turn his attention to the rising threat of the Drakwald beastmen and their leader, Khazrak the One-Eye, whose rivalry with Todbringer has become the stuff of legends.
- Arch-Enemy: He's a deep and bitter foe of Beastlord Khazrak the One-Eye. The two have spent most of their adult lives trying to defeat one another and have each cost the other an eye, and Boris has few goals left in life beyond purging the beastlord and his hordes from the face of the Empire.
- Badass in Charge: He's the Elector Count of Middenland, and an accomplished commander who has led several campaigns against the Beastmen.
- Badass Normal: He defeated Khazrak in one on one combat despite being a normal man while Khazrak is a superhumanly strong and tough Chaos Champion wielding a magic sword that can cut through plate like butter. He had a Runefang, but the Dark Mail Khazrak wears causes any magical weapon used on him to function like a regular nonmagical weapon of its type, so he was effectively going into that duel with a regular sword and no armor.
- Cool Helmet: His helmet is notably decorated with a castle on top of it.
- Demoted to Extra: He ceased receiving tabletop rules with 5th Edition, although he continues to be mentioned in Imperial background lore.
- Eye Scream: He cut out one of Khazrak's eyes, a favor the beastlord repayed by tearing out one of his later on.
- The Rival: He was formerly this to Karl Franz, as they were opponents during the election that saw Franz crowned emperor and remained bitter rivals afterwards, but he has largely put this issue aside to focus on the threat posed by the Beastmen.
Markus Wulfhart, Huntsmarshal of the Empire
The Huntsmarshal of the Empire, Markus Wulfhart was once a humble huntsman from Middenland until the day that a one-eyed Bonegrinder Giant known as the Drakwald Cyclops destroyed his hometown of Drakenburg. Burning with revenge, the lone huntsman chased after the beast, blinding it with a single shot from his bow before hamstringing it with his sword and hacking through its neck once it lay crippled on the ground. From then on, he swore to never rest until the Empire was free of monsters, turning down a knighthood and a lavish nobleman's estate that the Emperor offered him in recognition of his heroic deeds. Impressed, Karl Franz bestowed upon him a magical bow, known as the Amber Bow, and made him the Huntsmarshal of the Empire. Now the Emperor's Captain of Scouts, Markus gathers other like-minded individuals to form the most elite monster-slaying unit in the Empire, responsible for the death of the Talonbeast of Stirland, the Ostermark Ice Dragon, the Chimera of Flamespire Peak and many others.
- Army Scout: As the Empire's Huntsmarshal, he commands the Emperor's Scouts units.
- Ass Kicking Equals Authority: He was made chief monster hunter of the empire after singlehandedly chasing down and killing a Cygor. Wulfhart's Hunters, the squad of Huntsmen he personally leads, is Immune to Psychology.
- Doomed Home Town: A Cygor nicknamed the Drakwald Cyclop razed his hometown of Drakenburg. He personally hunted the monster down and killed it.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He began as a simple huntsman and went on to become chief monster hunter of the Empire.
- Great Bow: Markus wield the Amber Bow, a bow as big as he is, made from a Drakwald Oak and enchanted by Amber wizards. Despite its strength 3, it is quite powerful thanks to its 30" range and its ability to always wound a monster on a 4+ roll. It also has the Volley Fire rule.
- Hunter of Monsters: It's in his title, and it is his goal in life to hunt all the monsters of the Drakwald after he saw his hometown destroyed by one of the monsters lurking in the forests of the Empire. In his tally are a giant and his kin, a Chimera, and a Dragon, so his skill is clearly something. His rule Monster Hunter allows him to reroll failed to hit rolls against monsters, and when shooting against a mounted character on a monster of a unit of handlers and monsters, he automatically shoots the monster model. He also has the Hatred rule against monsters to represent his will to get revenge.
- Nerves of Steel: Markus Wulfhart is Immune to Psychology to represent his courage against horrible monsters. Indeed, a man who prepares to hunt Dragons or Giants should naturally keep his calm in their presence.
The Church of Sigmar
Volkmar the Grim, Grand Theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar
The grand theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar and by extension the highest religious authority in the Empire.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The Jade Griffon is a necklace-cum-talisman shaped in the form of a griffon with deployed wings. It glows with green light, infusing Volkmar with life energy and grants him the Regeneration rule.
- Badass Preacher: Like any member of the Cult of Sigmar worth their prayer beads. Volkmar prays by smashing heretic jaws on the battlefield. With Strength 4 and Weapon Skill 5, Volkmar clearly isn't a pansy priest locked in his cloister all day.
- Drop the Hammer: Wields a warhammer that resembles the Comet of Sigmar. Disappointingly, it doesn't do anything special.
- Good Shepherd: To his flock, the Grand Theogonist is a calm, friendly man who cares about every person in the Empire's spiritual health. To his enemies who draw his wrath, however...
- Heroic Lineage: Volkmar's bloodline goes back to Sigmar actually.
- Magic Staff: The Staff of Command is a magic staff decorated with a statue of a griffon holding a hammer on the tip and allowing him to draw upon the power of the War Altar of Sigmar if he is mounted on it, giving him strength and a +2 bonus to said stat.
- Religious Bruiser: He's the arch-priest of a war-god's cult; this comes with the territory. A the Grand Theogonist of the Cult of Sigmar, his prowess is only matched by his faith, and his Grand Theogonist rule gives him a bonus to cast Battle Prayers.
- Talking the Monster to Death: In the Storm of Chaos story after the Chaos forces had fled Mannfred von Carstein arrived and raised the corpses of both sides into his army, all set to attack the exhausted forces of Order and declare himself Emperor. Volkmar stood forward and said "Almost five hundred years ago, a man like me killed a monster like you. It can be done again." Mannfred remembered being killed by another Grand Theogonist in the past and left the field.
- Warrior Monk: Naturally; Sigmar is a war-god after all.
A wandering preacher known as the Prophet of Sigmar, who devotes himself to both the destruction of Chaos and to opposing papal corruption and greed amongst the church.
- The Chooser of the One: Huss was the first one to see Valten as Sigmar reborn and supported him from the beginning of their travels. His rule Chosen of Sigmar grants him a 4+ ward save and once per game, grants him a great D3 bonus in Weapon Skill, Strength, Toughness and Attack stats.
- Defector from Decadence: Downplayed. He didn't quit the Cult of Sigmar but publicly denounced the higher priests who were wasting time squabbling for political clout instead of purging Chaos from the lands and exiled himself with only Volkmar as his supporter.
- Drop the Hammer: Goes through magical warhammers like nothing since he hits so hard and wears them down at a fast rate.
- Evil Mentor: The priest that trained him turned to Chaos and was Huss' second kill.
- Heroic Willpower: He has a special battle prayer, Unbending Righteousness, that makes him and his unit Stubborn for a turn.
- Meaningful Name: His full name is derived from both Martin Luther and Jan Hus, dissident theologians who opposed the decadence of the Church.
- My Greatest Failure: Valten dying hit him bad, in the now non-canon Storm of Chaos storyline.
- Mysterious Past: The earliest thing people know about Huss is that he appeared near a monastery as a boy and only revealed that he wanted to fight Chaos.
- Religious Bruiser: Can take on small armies of undead and beastmen by his lonesome and is such a persuasive preacher that he can turn a slum of despondent refugees into a mob of howling, blood thirsty fanatics in under an hour. He is also bent on destroying Chaos.
- Vigilante Man: When he isn't busy hunting Chaos beast or heretics, Luthor hunts down and executes priests of Sigmar he knows are corrupt. His rash actions cause all the Cult to demand his excommunication and only the Grand Theogonist's will has kept him in their ranks.
- Warrior Monk: A warrior priest of Sigmar. With Weapon Skill 5 and Strength 4, he is one of the best warriors the Empire can field.
The Colleges of Magic
Balthasar Gelt, Patriarch of the Golden Order and Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic
The Patriarch of the Golden College, the Wizarding School devoted to mastering the Wind of Metal, and the Supreme Patriach of all the wizards of the Empire.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The Amulet of Sea Gold is an ancient elven talisman picked up in Estalia and glowing with protective energy. It grants him Magic Resistance which increases the more enemy wizards there are.
- The Archmage: The Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic and by extension one of, if not the, most powerful wizard in the Empire. In-game he is a Level 4 Loremaster wizard in the Lore of Metal, meaning he has access to every single spell in the discipline.
- Badass Bookworm: Comes with being a wizard. The man knows all there is to know about sorcery and alchemy and puts it to catastrophic use against his enemies.
- Badass Cape: The Cloak of Molten Metal is a mystic cape shimmering with images matching Balthasar's appearance. It disturbs enemies looking at him from afar and thus grants the wizard a 3+ ward save against shooting attacks.
- Body Horror: When he was younger, an explosion caused by an accident during his experiments either turned his body into gold or horrifically burnt off his flesh. Whatever the case, Balthasar hasn't been seen without his Cool Mask since.
- Cool Mask: Wears an ornate mask of solid gold over his head, which is speculated to conceal rather grisly deformities.
- Extra-ore-dinary: He uses the Lore of Metal, allowing him to transform enemies into lifeless golden statues, transmute bones into molten iron, liquefy enemy weapons and armor, or burn foes to death with gouts of molten steel.
- Expy: His backstory is similar to Dr Doom, even wearing a metal mask.
- Klingon Promotion: A non-lethal example. Gelt became Supreme Patriarch after defeating the previous one, Thyrus Gormann of the College of the Bright Order, in a ceremonial Wizard Duel.
- Magic Staff: He owns the Staff of Volans, a personal item belonging to the first Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic. It allows Gelt to bind the Winds of Magic to his will, and thus an in-game bonus to casting spells.
- Meaningful Name: Gelt means "money" in old German, while in English it's a somewhat archaic past tense of "to gild".
- Odd Friendship: Uncommonly for a wizard, Gelt gets along famously with the Imperial Engineers, frequently visiting them to observe their latest developments. The accident that made him how he is today in fact occurred during one of these visits.
- Pegasus: A pegasus named Quicksilver serves as his mount of choice.
- Rags to Riches: He was originally some nobody drifter who was so broke he had to con a boat captain to take him to Altdorf. His limitless ambition and natural talent for magic saw him rocket up through the ranks of the Golden College, eventually becoming Supreme Patriarch for the entire Empire.
Thyrus Gormann, Patriarch of the Bright Order
The Patriarch of the Bright College, the Wizarding School devoted to mastering the Wind of Fire. He used to be the Supreme Patriach of all the wizards of the Empire, until he was unseated by Balthasar Gelt following the latter defeating him in a formal duel, but remains an influential figure in Altdorf politics and a close ally of Karl Franz.
- The Archmage: He used to be Supreme Patriarch and the leader of almost all wizards in the Empire. He remains the leader of Bright Order, the greatest pyromancer in the realm, and one of the Empire's most powerful and respected wizards.
- Flaming Sword: He wields the Bright Sword, a blade that he enhanced to always be on fire. If the spell in the sword is dispelled by an enemy wizard, it reignites almost immediately.
- Elemental Hair Colors: His hair and beard are a fiery copper-red.
- Large and in Charge: Thyrus is the former Supreme Patriarch of the Colleges of Magic, the current master of the Bright Wizards, advisor to the emperor and well over six feet tall.
- Mood-Swinger: In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, he's described as having the sort of highly tempestuous personality common among red wizards, and can quickly switch between extremes of mirth and anger.
- Out of Focus: He had tabletop rules in the Empire's 4th edition armybook, where he was the then-current Supreme Patriarch, but in later editions only receives mentions in background lore or ancillary products — in the main books, his appearances are generally limited to mentions of how Gelt unseated him in the latter's own biography.
- Playing with Fire: He's a master of the Red Wind, and the most powerful practitioner of fire magic in the Old World.
Elspeth von Draken, Magisterix of the Amethyst Order
The most powerful user of Shyish, the Wind of Death, among the people of the Empire, the so-called Dark Lady of Nuln has been the subject of hushed speculation and superstitious fear for the three generations during which she has ruled the Amethyst Order from her blackened tower on the city's edge. Yet, despite her fearsome reputation, Elspeth von Draken has been a steadfast champion of the Empire, her mastery of her Wind having brought ruin to many of its foes.
- The Archmage: She's the current head of the Amethyst Order, and quite possibly the most powerful wielder of the Wind of Death in the Old World.
- Dark Is Not Evil: She uses the Wind of Death, the selfsame one that is twisted and employed by the Vampire Counts and Nagash's other heirs, resides in a dark and twisted tower, shuns contact with the rest of society and generally gives off a very strong "evil necromancer" impression, but she's no more evil than the rest of the Empire's more, ah, eccentric wizard recluses, and has been a terrible foe to many of its enemies.
- Dragon Rider: She rides a carmine dragon into battle, one of the perhaps two dragons ridden by any Imperial figure.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: She is understandably feared by her own people, and a few Witch Hunters have even tried to arrest her in the past. Needless to say, none were ever seen again after they tried.
- Long-Lived: It's not known exactly how long she's been around, but she's been in residence in Nuln for three generations so far, and she does not seem to age.
- Mage Tower: She spends the majority of her time secluded in a tall, black tower on the edges of Nuln, and according to rumor she keeps a second such tower in the Grey Mountains.
- Names To Run Away From Very Fast: Von Draken is German for "of Dragon", and not only is she a fearsome sorceress, she's one of the only Imperials who's able to ride a dragon into battle.
- The Red Baron: She's often known by titles such as the Dark Lady, the Graveyard Rose and the Dark Lady of Nuln, as many of the Empire's residents would rather not invoke her given name.
- Sinister Scythe: She wields the Pale Scythe, a weapon forged by her own hands and attuned to the Wind of Death.
- The Von Trope Family: Like many other Imperial characters.
Emperor Sigmar Heldenhammer
The first emperor, born in the sign of a twin-tailed comet. Deified after his disappearance, with the Cult of Sigmar being the foremost religion in the Empire.
- Barbarian Hero: Sigmar was originally a barbarian hero and chieftain of the Unberogen tribe who used a combination of strength and diplomacy to unite most of the other human tribes between the Worlds Edge Mountains, the Grey Mountains and the Great Ocean, before leading them to decisively crush a huge Orc horde at the Battle of Blackfire Pass. The most famous wielder of the powerful warhammer Ghal Maraz — which he received for saving the life of the High King of the Dwarfs — Sigmar is typically depicted as a noble barbarian with wild hair and is often shown bear-chested. One of his greatest foes was the powerful Lich Nagash, the Great Necromancer, whose undead armies invaded the fifteen years after the founding of the Empire.
- Child Soldier: By the age of fifteen, Sigmar was already a veteran of dozens of battles against the Orcs. Or so the legends claim.
- Deity of Human Origin: At the end of his reign, Sigmar wandered away into the mountains to the east and was never seen again. Some time afterwards, the people of his empire came to believe that he ascended to divinity.
- Drop the Hammer: First wielder of the legendary Ghal Maraz, the eponymous war hammer of the game.
- The Emperor: The Empire's very first ruler.
- Ethnic God: He serves as the Empire's patron god, and is rarely worshipped outside of its borders by anyone other than Imperial expatriates.
- Fire-Forged Friends: With High King Kurgan Ironbeard of the Dwarfs. Sigmar first saved him from orcs, and after fighting battle after battle alongside each other, Sigmar managed to gain enough of the Dwarfs' trust for them to enter a military alliance with his Empire that still holds to this day.
- Founder of the Kingdom: United the many tribes of the land into the Empire.
- God-Emperor: Worshipped as the foremost god in the Empire after his disappearance. And then he took it even further in Age of Sigmar.
- Posthumous Character: Sigmar is dead, although how he died isn't recorded, but he surely couldn't resist old age and abhorred necromancy.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Almost all official artwork depicts him wearing nothing on his upper body. In-story he actually favors heavy armor, being so strong that it doesn't slow him down, although he was prone to losing it in fights.
Emperor Mandred Skavenslayer
A long-dead Emperor who came to power during the Black Plague. He was one of the few points of resistance against the Skaven and managed to drive them back below ground before his coronation. He was noted to be one of the best Emperors and Warriors ever, having fallen through the flame of Ulric and survived unscathed, his wounds healed. However, he fathered no heirs and on his assassination by the Skaven the Empire split into civil war.
- The Berserker: Went nuts on any Skaven in range in many battles after his father was killed.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Most of the women he was interested in were killed by his bodyguard in an attempt to get Mandred into a dynastic marriage. This handily explains why he never married.
- Cool Helmet: Had one in the shape of a wolf's skull.
- Properly Paranoid: His father wisely quarantined Middenheim from all outside contact during the plague, sparing the town of the disease. Mandred initially objected before seeing his error.
- There Is No Kill like Overkill: His foiling of the attempted Skaven conquest made the rat-men angry enough that simply killing him wasn't quite sufficient to them — when Mandred was found dead in his bed after a Clan Eshin agent eventually paid him a visit, the assassin had left over a dozen daggers in his body and carved his heart out for good measure.
Mikhael Ludendorf, Elector Count of Hochland
The Elector Count of Hochland at the time of Gorthor the Cruel's invasion of the Empire, Mikhael gained notoriety in his efforts to stop Gorthor's Beastmen horde by any means necessary.
- Bad Boss: The first piece of information about him states he was more feared than loved by his subjects. He abandoned the villages in Hochland's outer provinces to Gorthor's mercy to buy time to fortify his capital Hergig, press-ganged anyone and everyone he could into military service, forbade his archers from carrying quivers so they wouldn't yield any ground to the Beastmen and forced the wives and children of his soldiers to carry food and water to the front lines so his men wouldn't be tempted to abandon their positions. When the Beastmen finally broke into the city, Mikhael retreated to his castle and had the rest of the city set ablaze to kill as many Beastmen as possible, declaring that any of his citizens who wouldn't fight were useless to him.
- Crazy-Prepared: He used all the time he had to fortify his capital, Hergig, for Gorthor's inevitable siege. By the time Gorthor's horde reached the capital, Mikhael had had every well poisoned and all crops and livestock either stored in his castle or destroyed to deny the Beastmen food and water, as well as turning every approach to Hergig for miles around into a killing ground. It took the Beastmen the better part of a month to fight their way through the outer defences before they could actually lay siege to the city.
- Dying Curse: His last act before dying of the injuries he sustained in his final duel with Gorthor was to curse the Knights of the Blazing Sun for arriving too late to save him.
- The Extremist Was Right: He didn't earn himself much love with his methods, but his brutal actions slowed Gorthor down long enough for Imperial forces to arrive to relieve the siege of Hergig and to give him the chance to kill the Beastlord for good.
- Get Out!: When one of his advisors suggested negotiating with Gorthor, Mikhael banished him, calling him more like a Beastman than one of his own race. Ironically, that insult goaded the advisor into keeping his mouth shut when Gorthor caught and interrogated him about Hergig's defenses.
- Mutual Kill: He slew Gorthor in a duel to the death, but died of his injuries soon after.
- Posthumous Character: He's long dead by the time of the present storyline.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Zigzagged. He certainly wasn't idle when Gorthor attacked his province... but instead of defending his people, he abandoned the villages in Gorthor's path to their fate and focused on preparing his capital for a siege.
- Straight for the Commander: When the Knights of the Blazing Sun attacked Gorthor's army in the rear, Mikhael led what was left of his forces in a counterattack targeted solely at killing Gorthor. When Gorthor was slain, his army broke and fled.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Among those he press-ganged into service were a team of Dwarf engineers that he forced to make weapons, armour and artillery pieces for him. That act got Mikhael an entry in the Great Book of Grudges.