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Tabletop Game / Mordheim

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Mordheim is a Gaiden Game created for Warhammer and released by Games Workshop in 1999.

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

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


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

The game had alternate settings originally published in Town Cryer, including Empire in Flames (the rural sections of the empire), Lustria, and Khemri.


A video game adaptation, Mordheim: City of the Damned, is currently available for purchase on Steam.

For the Warhammer 40,000 equivalent game see Necromunda

The setting and gameplay provided examples of the following tropes:

  • After the End: While it only affected a single city, the background for the game's setting is the Mordheim was hit by a massive wyrdstone comet that left nothing but charred and blasted ruins within the city's walls. The catastrophe also scattered chunks of solidified dark magic everywhere that drove the survivors insane and mutated their bodies.
  • The Alcoholic: Ruffian Henchmen from the Ostlander Mercenary warbands have taken their fellows love of alcohol to the extreme and are never sober, in fact they are rarely ever conscious. While their constant state of inebriation make them near fearless in battle, their base combat abilities tend to be compromised somewhat and are unable to use missile weapons.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Sisters of Sigmar are an all-female religious order consisting of the wayward and troublesome daughters of the Empire’s nobility. They believe that it is their sacred duty to cleanse the City of the Damned of its taint and collect wyrdstone so that it cannot be spread across the Empire.
  • Ancestral Weapon: The Druzhina Captains who lead Kislevite Mercenary Warbands are minor nobles and will generally be equipped with weapons and armour that has been in their family for generations. To represent this, Druzhina Captains are able to purchase one item from the equipment list at half its regular cost when the Warband is first created. On the downside, if the Captain should lose his Ancestral Weapon for any reason they are honour-bound to replace it with a far more expensive version.
  • Anti-Magic: Due to having a Rune of Spell Eating inscribed upon it, the Magical Artefact Att'la's Plate Mail makes its wearer utterly immune to all spells (both friendly and hostile) as the Rune consumes the spell's magical energy.
  • Armor Is Useless: Armor is expensive and so easy to penetrate from everything that its rare to see anyone carry any.
  • Arrows on Fire: Introduced in the Mordheim Annual 2002 fire arrows are a rare item that can be purchased between battles consisting of arrows wrapped in oil-soaked rags that are set alight before being fired. If they hit the enemy then fire arrows have a 50% chance of setting the target on fire, causing damage each turn until the fire is put out.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Or you might think so, at any rate. The Witch Hunters want to eradicate "warlocks, witches, sorcerers, fortune-tellers, necromancers, worshippers of the dark gods, deviants, mutants, blasphemers, sinners, utterers of profanities, servants of Daemons, or composers of corrupting music". The only thing is, this being a setting where Slaanesh exists, the music could indeed be one of the most dangerous things on the list.
  • Automatic Crossbows: Although they are unique to the Dark Elves in the main game, repeater crossbows are available to purchase as a Rare item from the Trading post for most warbands during campaigns. Such weapons have a far higher rate of fire than a regular crossbow but suffer from lower Strength, shorter range and a penalty to hit. They are also almost twice the cost of a regular crossbow.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical
    • Double-handed weapons. They add +2 to the user's Strength - which, in an "average human vs. average human" situation, means your chances to wound the opponent jump from 50% to 85%, and armor saves get a -2 modifier (essentially making everything but a heavy armor + shield combo useless). The catch? The user always strikes last, even if they charge, meaning that the opponent has the chance to down them before they even get to employ said Strength bonus. Also, since they are 2-handed, they forbid the user to use a shield, making them even more vulnerable. Good luck.
      • Can go into pure Awesome territory when comboed with the Strongman skill, which removes the "always strike last" penalty. A Stength 6 Middenheimer Captain who strikes in Initiative order with high Weapon Skill and heavy armor? Now that's scary.
    • Basically the whole Cult of the Possessed hero roster. The Magister? He's your Captain and only Mage mixed together, meaning that he can't wear armor and cannot be re-hired. Have fun trying to protect him while having him use his (short-ranged) magic. The Possessed? Expensive as hell (a minimum of 110 gold crowns when your starting budget is 500, and every mutations past the first one costs double the normal price, making a multiple-mutations Possessed insanely expensive). The Mutants? Glorified henchmen with mediocre stats. Their only "edge" comes from having access to (usually stupidly expensive) mutations.
    • Rat ogres. Sure, they cause Fear and their profile is impressive... but they are Huge (everyone gets +1 to shoot them), cannot use equipment, are Stupid (which means they have a good chance to lose turn after turn by standing where they are and drool) and cost a whopping 210 gold crowns (for reference, that's pouring roughly 40% of your starting budget in one warrior). Also, the fact that Rat Ogres cannot gain experience makes them fairly useless in campaigns, as other units will eventually outclass them.
      • It gets particularly offensive when you confront the Rat Ogre with the Ogre Bodyguard. The latter has -1 to S, T and A... but has a much higher Leadership of 7 (the Rat Ogre gets 4, which basically means he's doomed to fail any Leadership roll when on its own), can use equipment, can gain experience and costs 80 crowns (with an extra 30 to be paid after each battle, but still). A sufficently experience and equipped Ogre will murder any Rat Ogre most of the time.
    • Elven bows. Their range is mostly overkill, and they still hit with S 3. -1 to enemy armor saves is nice... but all black powder weapons do that and are much cheaper (considering that black powder weapons are relatively expensive, that says a lot about how much the Elven bow costs).
    • All Blackpowder weapons have have high costs(one Hochland Long Rifle takes as much as 8 henchmen), long reloading periods, usually cannot move-and-fire, and can only be used by certain characters, usually Heroes with access to a specific skill so only certain warbands can make any use out of them. Crossbows lack the armour piercing bonus, but have better range and a higher rate of fire because you don't have to waste a turn every time they shoot.
  • Badass Family: Ostlander Mercenary warbands tend to be made up of an entire extended family that has left their home village to make their fortune in the City of the Damned. Hardy and self-sufficient, these Ostlanders are talented hunters who enjoy a good drunken brawl and possess an intense hatred of Chaos. Brothers, fathers, cousins, uncles, sometimes even the tough-as-nails aunt gets herself involved.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Skaven Heroes with the Art of Silent Death special skill are masters of unarmed combat. Heroes with this skill are able to fight unarmed with no penalty, always count as being armed with two close combat weapons and are more likely to cause critical hits.
  • The Berserker: Anyone with the Frenzy rule.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Mutants and Possessed of the Cult of the Possessed warband can purchase the scorpion tail mutation, giving them a long tail that ends with a barbed stinger that drips deadly venom from its tip. Heroes with this mutation can use it to make an extra attack during close combat.
  • Black Humor: As with many Games Workshop publications, particularly the Gaiden Games, Mordheim has a dark streak of humour running through it. The Town Cryer articles and magazines, for example, often included comedy obituaries for fantasy versions of various characters and celebrities.
  • Black Magic: The magic used by the Chaos Cult, Beastmen and Skaven, of course, but the Witch Hunters consider all magic "black". To be fair, this game takes place in a time period before Teclis of Ulthuan showed humans how to use magic safely, so for all practical purposes, with the exception of elven mages, the Witch Hunters are right.
  • Blinded by the Light: The Mordheim Annual 2002 includes rules for flash powder, a concoction made by the Dwarfs that creates a bright flash when thrown, blinding a charging enemy and forcing them to fail their move.
  • Blind Seer: The Augurs are the Sisters of Sigmar who trade their eyesight for second sight (read re-roll dice for their failed actions in game and get choose the results from two dice when looking for loot). They also shave their hair off except for a single braid.
  • Bloody Murder:
    • The Dark Blood spell from the Chaos ritual list involves the caster of slashing open their palm and showering an enemy with burning blood. The downside of this spell is that, once cast, the Chaos Mage must test to see if they collapse from blood loss.
    • The blackblood mutation, available to Mutants and Possessed of the Cult of the Possessed warbands, transforms the model’s blood into a highly corrosive substance that burns anyone in close proximity whenever they suffer damage as the tainted blood spurts from the wound.
  • Blow Gun: The Clan Eshin heroes of Skaven warbands are the only warriors from the original warbands who can purchase blowpipes. While the have low Strength and struggle to penetrate even light armour, the darts fired from Skaven blowpipes are impregnated with the deadly Black Lotus toxin and can be fired in absolute silence, allowing the firer to remain hidden while attacking.
  • Booze-Based Buff:
    • Bugman's Ale is a rare item available to any Warband lucky enough to find one in the marketplace. A Warband that drinks a barrel of Bugman's Ale will be fearless for the following battle.
    • Being a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Russia, Kislevite Warbands are able to purchase Vodka. A Kislevite Hero who drank a bottle of this harsh alcohol before a battle fights with great courage at the cost of their coordination and reaction time. In game this was represented by a bonus to his Leadership and a possible deduction to his Initiative.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The humble sling. "Mordheim" being an urban combat game, the limited range on this weapon isn't much of an issue, and it hits with "Strength as user", which means as hard as any bow. Also, the ability to fire twice if the shooter doesn't move in the same turn is insanely useful, essentially doubling your chances of one-hit killing someone.
    • Bows are also common for any warband that can't use slings. Heroes can get skills to improve their Bows as well. Clubs/hammers are very common as they are much cheaper than nearly any other melee weapon.
    • Bludgeoning weapons. They have a 50% change to stun a wounded (down to 0 Wounds) enemy, which, in most cases, spells certain death for them.
  • Born Lucky: The Elf Ranger Hired Sword is said to be blessed by Lileath, the Elven goddess of luck. The in-game effect of this blessing is that the Ranger is able to re-roll one dice roll he makes once per game.
  • Burn the Witch!: The Witch Hunters, naturally.
  • Casting a Shadow: The Shadow Weavers of the High Elf Shadow Warrior warbands use a unique form of shadow magic. The spells of this strange blend of magic allow the Shadow Weaver to manipulate threads of shadow so that they hide his allies, strike at the foe or congeal into a solid shell to protect from enemy attacks.
  • Church Militant: The Sisters of Sigmar and the Witch Hunters. Both agree that Wyrdstone is a dangerous and evil resource that must be sealed away for the good of the world. But they wouldn't ally because the witch hunters have decided that the only way that the sisters could have survived the comet impact was to have made pacts with dark gods and they treat the sisters like they would the chaos corrupted warbands that loot the city.
  • Circus of Fear: The Carnival of Chaos warband. They are a cabal of Nurgle daemons who masquerade as travelling performers; they lure crowds of people in with the spectacle and then in the finale they reveal their true nature to the now horrified audience and claim their souls.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Human Mercenaries: Balanced/Generalist. Well-balanced warband with a large and varied armoury. Adding on to the base, Reikland is Loyal (increased leadership radius for Captain), Middenland is Brute (higher Strength rating on Captains and Champions) and Marienburg is Economist (more starting funds and increased loot chance).
    • Cult of the Possessed: Spammer/Brute/Gimmick. Great at close combat, very limited shooting. Chaos can upgrade units with mutations to give bonuses like extra movement, extra saves, fear, etc.
    • Skaven: Spammer/Guerilla. Vast numbers of ratmen with a variety of special weapons that inflict poison like the Blowpipe and the Weeping Blades, but no access to heavy armour, limited shooting and poor stats.
    • Sisters of Sigmar: Elitist/Brute. Strong close combat warband featuring armoured spellcasters, good stats all-round and the coveted Steel Whip special weapon. However they are slow and have limited options for shooting.
    • Undead: Balanced/Brute/Gimmick. Most Undead henchmen are talentless and have poor stats, but the Vampire leader is an immensely powerful fighter on his own. Immunity to poison and psychology is a widespread feature.
  • Confusion Fu: The Orcs and Goblins warband has a special rule called Animosity. Every turn the player has to roll a dice for every unit in the warband, and then another roll for every unit that got a 1. Depending on the result, the unit in question might charge and attack or take a potshot at a friendly unit, waste their turn hurling insults, or make a free charge move towards the nearest enemy (or just move again if there aren't any in sight).
  • Critical Hit: On a 6 to wound, you can get this. Their effects range from nasty (double damage if they get through) to horrifying (double damage, +2 on the injury roll, and ignores armour save).
  • Cult: Cult of the Possessed who worship the Shadowlord, a dark lord who lives in The Pit (the crater which the meteor left when it struck).
  • Crutch Character: Any warrior who cannot gain experience, such as animals, Rat Ogres, zombies and the like. They might have good profiles or special abilities (all zombies cause Fear, for example, and Rat Ogres have monstrous stats), but in campaign games, their inability to improve means that they'll fall hopelessly behind other warriors.
    • Heroes, to an extent. Most of them start with experience points, which account for their higher stats or special abilities, but have slower advancement than other units.
  • Cursed With Awesome: Out of Combat warriors must roll a d66 (yes, they exists, although it's functionally identical to rolling 2D6 with one being the "Tens" dice) on a fairly long table after the game, to determine what happened to them. Most results are fairly bad, but some grant special abilities (such as causing Fear due to horrendous scars!), experience points or gold with no side effects.
  • Demonic Possession: Cult of the Possessed has the "Possessed" and the Darksouls which are humans who have been previously possessed and have been driven mad by the experience.
  • Disaster Scavengers: Everyone, it's why most of them are here and the only way to survive. It helps that said disaster spread lots of valuable Green Rocks around the city.
  • Dowsing Device: The Wrydstone Pendulum from the Opulent Goods article is a pendulum made of wrydstone and can be used to find more of the stone.
  • Dramatis Personae: This is used as the name for the list of hireable individual characters with actual names rather then generic troops.
  • Drop the Hammer:
    • Hammers are one of the basic weapons available to most warbands. While no stronger than other basic close combat weapons, hammers have the Concussion special rule that makes it easier to stun and enemy fighter.
    • The hammer is one of the signature weapons of the Sisters of Sigmar due to the weapon's association with the founding god of the Empire. The warband also has access to a unique type of hammer, the Sigmarite Warhammer, created in imitation of Sigmar's mighty weapon Ghal-Maraz and heavily sanctified to that it is more effective against Possessed and Undead fighters.
  • Early Game Hell: As with Blood Bowl and Necromunda, if you fare bad or lose in the fist couple of battles it would be easier to just scrap the warband and start from scratch, as you lack both the resources to plug the holes in the roster and the skilled units to cover for the absent ones.
  • Elite Mooks: Some warbands have these at a higher costs and sometimes drawbacks like inability to gain ANY experience and therefore stuck with default stats.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: There are tables for environmental effects that include the earth underfoot trying to swallow you, shadows coming to life and trying murder you, and spontaneous rains of fish.
  • Expansion Pack World:
    • The Empire in Flames expansion introduced rules for taking warbands out of the City of the Damned, and into the wildernesses of the Empire as a whole. This expansion expanded the rules for terrain (introducing forests, swamps, etc.) and vehicle (including boats), as well as introducing scenarios, hired swords, and warbands that are more likely to be encountered in the countryside than in the city.
    • The Lustria: Cities of Gold expansion, published in the Town Cryer Fanatic magazine, introduces rules that allow payers to explore the jungles, ruins and swamps of the ancient continent of Lustria. The expansion also included rules for new equipment, jungle hazards (such as carnivorous plants and quicksand) and Lizardmen warbands.
  • Experience Points: Units gain experience for surving and achieving objectives in each battle which can be used to gain new skills or stat increases.
  • Fireball: The spell Fires of U'Zhul, from the Lesser Magic spell list, sees the caster summon a ball of fire to throw at his foes, hitting with the strength of a crossbow bolt.
  • Flaming Sword: The Sword of Rezhebel spell available to human warlocks allows the caster to summon a flaming blade to their hand, boosting the warlock’s close combat abilities.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: The Bull Rush skill, available to the Heroes of Ostlander Warbands, represents the warrior using his bulk to smash an opponent from their feet. The skill gives the model a special attack when they charge that will knock their opponent to the ground should it hit.
  • Gang of Hats: Even individual empire provinces get their own warbands.
    • Reiklanders - Professional soldier types eschewing fashionable clothing for practical fare and no-nonsense military gear, with coloured ribbons for identification.
    • Middenheimers - Big, mean, practically half-Norscan men from a city with a big martial tradition. They wear wolf pelts to distinguish themselves as worshippers of Ulric, god of wolves and winter - custom is the wearer must kill the wolf himself, with his bare bands. Tend to prefer Bald of Awesome and Badass Beard for hair styling.
    • Marienburgers - Sailors and effete snobs from the richest trade port in the Empire. Warbands tend to be a dozen men (former ship's crew and dock thugs) dressed in simple shirts and leather jacks with bandanas, clustered around a leader in foppish clothes with loads of jewellery.
    • Averlanders - Practical trappers and mountain men from a prosperous province known for sheep farming. Finely made and colourful uniforms with cloaks and hoods are dress code, bows and arrows are the Weapon of Choice and traps are often employed to great effect in the urban warfare. Halflings tend to follow them in employ too.
    • Ostlanders - Rugged folks from one of the poorest and most isolated provinces in the Empire. Tall, stocky and clad in furs, these men are often all related, love dark ale and have a burning hatred for Chaos. Many of them have never seen coin before in their lives so when do get some, they spend it lavishly and immediately.
  • Gladiator Games: Whilst gladiatorial combat is outlawed in most places of the Empire, games still continue in lawless location such as the devastated city of Mordheim. Units that haven't been killed but taken out of action have a chance of waking up in the infamous fighting pits of Cutthroat’s Haven. If the unfortunate sod wins, they gain EXP and cash, if they merely survive they just throw him out.
    • One of the hired swords that warbands can recruit is a Pit Fighter.
    • The larger gladiatorial fights can be played out with the Gaiden Game "Pit Fighter".
    • Also there are rules for playing with the Pit Fighters warband, made up of those fighters who earned their freedom or more likely escaped the pits.
  • Glass Cannon: A Skaven Master Assassin with Art of Silent Death and Tail Fighting, equipped with fighting claws. Double crit chances combined with a metric crapton of extra attacks? Every one of which starts at S 4 and gives an extra -1 to armor saves? Yes, please. However, his Toughness is a mediocre 3 and his armor options quite limited, which makes him relatively vulnerable.
    • It's easy to make any character into one as offensive skills are common and powerful, while defensive ones are limited to only a couple of skills which many heroes don't have access to.
    • Barbarian mercenaries have base S 5, a two-handed weapon, and the Strongman skill (allowing them to swing that huge sword without being delayed by the weight). However, despite two wounds, they're only Toughness 3 and turn up in breeches and a ratty old wolf's pelt.
  • Good Luck Charm: Can be equipped, and they even work! saving the holder from damage 50% of the time (determined by dice roll).
  • Green Rocks: Wyrdstone... better known elsewhere in the Warhammer setting as "warpstone".
  • Guns Akimbo: Models armed with multiple pistols use the “fire one weapon until empty then fire the other” version of this trope, allowing the model to fire every turn and bypass the need to spend a turn reloading. There is however a Shooting Skill called Pistolier that allows a model to fire both weapons at the same time when armed with a brace of pistols. The downside of this ability being that the model once again has to reload his weapons in the next turn.
  • The Gunslinger: Normally blackpowder weapons can only fire once every two turns, reflecting their slow reload time. The "Pistolier" skill negates this for pistols, as does the gear "Brace of Dueling Pistols." The thing is the two effects stack, so a hero with both can fire twice in a turn, gunslinging with matchlocks.
  • Healing Hands: The Healing Hands Payer of Sigmar, available to Witch Hunter Warrior Priests and Sisters of Sigmar Matriarchs, allows the user to return a model to full wounds, and remove stunned and knocked down effects from nearby models.
  • Healing Herb: Plants with medicinal properties grow along the River Stir and can be bought as rare items during the course of a campaign. A model with these healing herbs can use them to restore all their lost wounds during a game.
  • Holy Water: Blessed Water is pure water consecrated by a priest of one of the Empire's gods so that it burns creatures of darkness. Most commonly used by the Sisters of Sigmar, and the Warrior-Priests that accompany Witch Hunter warbands, Blessed Water can be thrown at an Undead, Daemon or Possessed model to cause automatic damage if it hits.
  • Homing Projectile: The Bow of Seeking, a magical artefact that can be found while exploring the ruins of Mordheim, fires enchanted projectiles that will seek out their target wherever they hide. As such, the Bow can fire at any model within range as long as they are aware of their presence, with a hit roll that cannot be modified in any way. The enchantment also means that arrows shot from the bow will seek out Dwarfs in preference to any other target, and refuse to be fired at Elves.
  • Horse Archer: The expanded riding rules in the Mordheim Annual 2002 include Horse Archer as a skill available to any warrior with the Ride skill. This skill gives the warrior a 360 degree field of fire while riding a mount (rather than the usual 90 degree front arc) and allows them to fire a missile weapon while riding at full speed at the cost of a -1 to hit.
  • High Priest: The special character Bertha Bestraufung is the High Matriarch of the Sisters of Sigmar, and is the most powerful and favoured of the warrior sisterhood's members. In-game, Bertha will fight alongside any warband of her Order, without charging the high fees usually associated with special characters. Instead a warband must petition for the High Matriarch's assistance when facing an enemy warband of a higher rating.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Cult of the Possessed can sacrifice captives or random survivors that them find they gain after the battle for extra EXP.
    • One of the random things that be found while exploring is a group of people being held for sacrifice. What you can do with them depends on the warband including freeing them (humans), sell them to slavery (skaven), zombifying them (undead) and the Possessed can finish the job.
    • Other chaos aligned warbands and the Lizardmen can also do the same.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Countess Marianna Chevaux was turned into a vampire against her will. She now spends her time hunting vampires in the anonymity of Mordheim and torturing them for leads on the whereabouts of her sire Serutat to exact her revenge.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Mordheim is German for "Murder-House".
  • The Igor: The Undead warbands can recruit the Dregs, the hunch-backed and deformed human survivors of the comet strike. They serve their undead masters faithfully since they are the few who showed them kindness.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: When using the optional weapon specific critical hit charts, thrusting weapons such as spears and lances have a chance to impale their target. This Kebab! result totally ignores armour, improves the chance of the attack taking the opponent out of action, and drives them back with the sheer force of the attack.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: The Elven hired sword special character Aenur, the Sword of Twilight, is thought to be the greatest swordsman in the entire City of the Damned, able to wield his immense sword with staggering skill and grace. In-game, not only does Aenur have a number of regular skills that boost his hand-to-hand combat abilities, he has the unique Invincible Swordsman skill that means he always hits on a 2+ in combat.
  • It Only Works Once: The Blunderbuss can hit anyone in a 16" long and 1" wide area but can only be fired once per battle.
  • Kill It with Fire In the end Magnus the Pious razed the city with fire after the great war against chaos in 2302.
  • Knife Nut: Johann The Knife. He has a special rule called Knife Fighter Extraordinare that allows him to bypass the limit of three knives thrown during his turn, allowing him to throw six knives per turn if he doesn't move. He's so good with knives that they count for swords during battle.
  • Literal Genie: The wizard Nicodemus freed a daemon that had been trapped inside a lantern and in return was offered a wish. His wish was "I want to become the greatest wizard known to Mankind!" and the daemon granted his wish by making him grow endlessly. He discovered an antidote before he grew too large, but he requires a constant supply of Warpstone to manufacture it.
  • Mooks: Henchmen make up the majority of any warband. They cannot look for Wyrdstone to sell, cannot learn skills, have limited statistic upgrades, and permanently die 1/3rd of the time after any battle.
  • Morale Mechanic:
    • Morale for individual fighters is handled by attempting to roll under their Leadership characteristic on a pair of dice. This can happen in a number of situations, ranging from losing a combat or fighting alone against multiple enemies. Should the test be failed, the warrior can do nothing as runs towards the nearest table edge while avoiding enemy models. The model can attempt to regain his nerve by passing another Leadership test during subsequent Recovery phases.
    • Morale for entire warbands is handled by a Rout test, rolling under the Leadership characteristic on the Leader on two dice every turn after the warband has taken more than 25% casualties. Should the test be failed, the warband automatically ends the game.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Some Possessed and Mutants from the Cult of the Possessed warband sport an extra arm that allows them to carry more weapons and gain extra attacks in close combat.
  • Mythology Gag: A Sisters of Sigmar seeress called Cassandora predicted the comet is presumably the same Cassandora from "Comet of Cassandora" in the Warhammer Lore of Heavens.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: From the credits "No toads or rats were harmed during the production of Mordheim. Several fish were consumed."
  • No-Sell: Clubs and maces have no benefit against dwarves, due to their sturdy skulls being resistant to the bludgeoning impacts.
  • Pest Controller: The Gnawdoom spell, available to Skaven magic users, allows the sorcerer to summon a swarm of rats to attack an enemy doing multiple, low strength wounds.
  • Prehensile Tail: Skaven can get this as a special skill.
  • Press-Ganged: The Pirate Crew warband can force captives to become swabbies to fight for them (with the decent chance of running away if they can). Undead just turn them into zombies.
  • Power Pincers: The great claw mutation causes the arm of a Mutant or Possessed to transform into a large, crab-like claw that boosts their strength in close combat.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Rumor has it that the endless growth in Nicodemus back story was written because when they made the original model, they noticed that it was taller then the other human models and rather then remake the model simply integrated it with the story.
  • Religion Is Magic: The Sisters of Sigmar have mystical powers as a result of their devotion to Sigmar. They even managed to use their prayers to shield their monastery when the comet hit.
  • Retcon: In the 6th Chaos Warriors sourcebook for Warhammer, The Shadowlord was explained to be Be'lakor, the Damned First Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided, having possessed the Chaos Warrior who should have been the Chosen of Chaos for that generation, in an effort to cheat his destiny.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Skaven warbands are able to purchase packs of mutated Giant Rats, the size of dogs, as Attack Animal Henchmen. As animals, they are unable to gain experience and advance in level but, unlike the animal henchmen of other Warbands, they can be purchased in unlimited numbers if the player has the gold.
  • Running Gag: A lot of models made by Games Workshop for Mordheim include a fish. For example one is nailed to the Freelancer Knight's shield and Witch Hunter flagellants carrying one for no particular reason.
  • Seers: The magical jewel of known as the All-seeing Eye of Numas grants the bearer horrific visions of the future that allow them to know the positions of hidden enemies, gain a special save against al attacks, and gives them a greater chance of finding something when exploring the ruins of Mordheim.
  • Shout-Out: The Carnival of Chaos preforms such tales as ‘The Emperor’s True Face’, ‘Orfeo and Pustulate’, ‘Papa Noigul’s Festering Children’ and ‘A Midsummer Nightmare’.
    • The introductory story for the Carnival includes the lines:
  • Sniper Rifle: The Hochland long rifle is a rare and expensive blackpowder weapon available to some warbands. The gun has the longest range of any missile weapon in the game and allows the firer to target any enemy they can seenote  so that they can snipe the most dangerous foes.
  • Stone Wall: Dwarf warbands are incredibly durable: they're tougher than humans, elves or skaven, get cheap Gromril armour in the early game, and are half as likely to be taken out by a single hit (normally it's 5+; dwarves need a 6). However, while they don't suffer the move penalty due to heavy armour, that's because their base move is 3 and basically everyone is faster than they are.
  • Stubborn Mule: The expanded rules for mounted warriors in the Mordheim Annual 2002 book include mules as one of the additional purchasable mounts. These mules have the Stubborn special rule that forces their rider to take a test each turn in order to get the mount to move.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: The titular city, which is the setting of the main game, descended into an orgy of decadence in the months before its destruction by a wyrdstone comet. Drawn by the belief that the god Sigmar was going to appear in the there, the city filled with people who, in their joy, indulged in every pleasure and debauchery imaginable until the comet struck, destroying the city and mutating the survivors.
  • Suffer the Slings: Slings in Mordheim have similar stats to short bows but with a special rule allowing them to be fired twice if the unit wielding it does not move in the same turn. A popular tactic for the Skaven warband is to arm a whole lot of cheap units with slings for a Zerg Rush since ranged attacks were a bit over-powered.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer:
    • Human Warlocks can use the lesser magic spell Dread of Armar to make their living opponents feel uncontrollable dread, forcing them to take a Leadership test or run screaming from the magic user.
    • The Eye of the Warp spell available to Skaven magic users exposes its target to the horrors of the Chaos, causing them to flee from the caster in despair and fear after they have taken a hit from the otherworldly power.
  • Supreme Chef: Halflings are renowned for their love of food and even the simplest of them is able to produce a marvellous feast. In Mordheim this is represented by the Halfling Scout Hired Sword having the Cook special rule, allowing any warband who hires them to increase their maximum size as the wondrous smell of Halfling cooking attracts more warriors.
  • Treasure Map: The Dwarf Treasure Hunter Hired Sword carries a number of treasure maps on him at all times, may of dubious quality. In-game this is represented by the player rolling a dice at after a battle as the Treasure Hunter sees where the map leads, something that can result in anything from him being ambushed by thugs, through finding already looted treasure to finding impressive hordes.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum: Wyrdstone. The "Power in the Stones" article from Town Cryer gives rules to give wyrdstone shards magical powers whilst using them, but runs the risk of sickness, mutation or transformation into a chaos spawn.
  • Universal Poison: Poison affects every race from Ogres to Skaven, only a few are immune such as the undead.
  • Urban Warfare: The game uses rules similar to Warhammer but without the emphasis on large units of troops in formation deployed on fairly open terrain, instead focusing on a few warriors in cramped streets.
  • Walking the Earth: The Elf Mages who can act as Hired Swords for Human Mercenary Warbands belong to the small Djed’hi sect of Elven magic users who believe that true enlightenment in the ways of magic can only be achieved by travelling and studying the ways of the world. To represent the transient nature of these wanderers, no Warband can hire an Elf Mage for more than a single battle as they leave their employers to continue their journey once the fight is concluded.
  • Wall Run: Usually a model has to make an Initiative Test in order to climb a wall, up to their maximum movement distance. The unique Skaven skill Wall Runner however allows a model to climb a wall without the need of a test, while the general Speed skill Scale Sheer Surfaces allows a model to climb up to double their movement distance without making a test.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Veskit, the high executioner of Clan Eshin, would have died from the terrible wounds he sustained while rescuing a Clan Skryre Warlock Engineer had the scientist-sorcerers not rebuilt him with their Magitek. Veskit is now more machine than Skaven now, an emotionless and uncontrollable killing machine that Clan Eshin have sent to strengthen their forces in the City of the Damned.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different:
    • The Norse Warband from town cryer had the Wulfen. Described as Berserkers with a very rare mutation that allows them to change into blood hungry beasts, part man part wolf or bear. These warriors can tear through flesh and armor with ease with there massive fangs as they rampage through the melee.
    • The Empire in Flames rules include the Balewolf, a creature of chaos the can even infect the units that it wounds with lycanthropy potentially turning them into a Balewolf in a future battle.
  • Whip It Good:
    • The Sisters of Sigmar have steel whips as a unique weapon available to members of the warband. Made from lenths of barbed chain, these whips are impossible to parry and tie into the Warband's fanatically religious visual theme with images of chastisement and flagellation.
    • Regular whips were introduced in the Mordheim Annual 2002. Although not very effective as weapons, giving a -1 modifier to the wielder's Strength and +1 to the opponent's armour save, whips can be used to disarm the opposition instead of attacking.
  • Winged Humanoid: Magisters from the Cult of the Possessed can use the Wings of Darkness Chaos ritual to create daemonic wings of shadow that will carry them through the air to a specific location before disappearing., allowing them to make an immediate move that ignores many of the normal movement rules.
  • Wolverine Claws: Skaven warbands have access to rare unique weapons known as Fighting Claws. Consisting of sharp blades attached to their forepaws, the warriors of Clan Eshin use pairs of these claws to fightnote , but also as crampons to assist in climbing.
  • Words Can Break My Bones: The Chaos ritual Word of Pain involves the Chaos Magister speaking the name of his dark god. The power of this forbidden name is so great that everyone within earshot, whether they are enemies or fellow worshipers, is stricken with pain.
  • Wretched Hive: The city of Mordheim became so depraved, corrupt, and horrifying a comet was thrown at it. Then it became a bunch of warped ruins home to a few depraved, corrupt, and horrifying mutants, any number of criminals who arrived to take advantage of the lawlessness, as well as the mercenary warbands coming from across the realm to loot it.
  • Your Mom: In the fluff for the Dwarf warband a fight was started between a group of dwarves and mercenary humans because the the drunk human leader "made a very unfriendly remark about the dwarf leader's mother".
  • Zerg Rush: The Skaven. Their bands tend to be very large, which makes them harder to rout (you have to lose a quarter of your men... pardon, rats before being forced to test for routing). Borders on Game-Breaker when you are faced with a 20-rat Skaven band, and they'are all armed with slings, which can fire twice in the same turn. Enjoy being stoned to death.


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