One of the things that has always appealed to me about Warhammer fantasy battle is the way that the background has stayed more or less the same since its inception, compared with say WH40K.
True such races as the Zoats or Fimir have more or less gone, but they were never major ‘players’ in the Warhammer world and were in any case fairly secretive anyway. When one couples this with the large body of background material that has been produced for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay over the years it becomes pretty clear that there is a huge ‘mine’ of Warhammer background ready for anyone who is interested.
The main thing that has changed isn’t what happens but rather when it happens. For example the events in the 1st edition Warhammer Fantasy role-play adventure ‘Power Behind the Throne’ take place when both Karl Franz and Boris Todbringer are old men (indeed within a year or so Karl Franz is dead). When 2nd edition WFRP came out the time frame was artificially changed, superimposing the events of Power Behind the Throne so that they took place some months before ’Storm of Chaos’, when both Karl Franz and Graf Todbringer were in their prime. This is in my opinion a shame because one of the key backdrops of the Power Behind the Throne and the Enemy Within Campaign is the failing health of both these rulers.
When I play Warhammer (either Fantasy Battle or Roleplay) I use a slightly modified time line that incorporates pre-Storm of Chaos events , the Period around Storm of chaos and the Period known as the ’Empire in Flames’, set some twenty years after the present setting of Warhammer fantasy battle (2542 Imperial calendar).
For the record then I give an account of the events leading up to the ’Empire in Flames’.
Note: Nearly all of these events were published in the 1st edition WFRP campaign ’Enemy Within’ Where I have filled in gaps with completely new background I have made a note.
I see darkness gathering around a walled city- Shadows over Bogenhafen!
I see the Lord of Death astride a great river- Death on the Reik!
I see a hooded evil behind the seat of a once mighty Lord- a Power behind the Throne!
‘A man bearing a false testimonial shall travel the Empire. And though he be a servant of the Great Mutator, yet shall he die at the hands of His Chosen Ones, the Outcasts, the Nameless ones created in his image. But another shall come alike unto the first and yet unlike. He shall take up the testimony, and many will mistake him for its original bearer. Through many perils, he will travel to the place Where Chaos Waits, the City of the White Wolf, home of the War God, Lord of Winter. And in his company there shall be others and Chaos seethes in their wake. As strangers they shall come , but though they stab the spider in its very heart yet shall its gushing blood but pour forth a great danger.
I see the Empire in Flames! The Horned Rat doth sit upon the Imperial Throne. It is all written in the Book of changes.. Yea-Chaos’ most determined enemies shall prove its greatest servants.
The Enemy is Within!
The period known as the ‘Empire in Flames’ takes place over some three years from 2542 to 2545 and refers to the period where growing unrest between the Sigmarite and Ulrican factions in the Empire boiled over into violence, bloodshed and (briefly) outright civil war.
While the age old rivalries between these two religions were at the centre of the crisis facing the Empire, a number of external and internal factors exacerbated the problem and allowed it to develop into bloodshed.
The years following the Storm of Chaos were fairly peaceful for the Empire. The Emperor Karl Franz was, in his prime at least, a master general, but his real skill lay in diplomacy. The alliance he forged between the Human nations, elves and dwarfs held for nearly two decades. At the same time the beastmen and other foul creatures that inhabited the forests of the Empire sank back leaderless following the defeat of Archaon.
In short for nearly twenty years the Empire did not face any significant threats to its security. Its leaders and its people began to look to internal matters…and to settle old scores.
Decline of the Emperor
The Emperor was hardly an old man when the events of a Storm of Chaos occurred, but nor was he a youth. forty years (the Emperor was elected in 2502) of politics and the pressures of office began to take there toll. Karl Franz mental health began to slowly deteriorate.
The Emperor was always viewed as fairly tolerant and in his later years this aspect of his personality was emphasised by a series of Imperial edicts concerning law and order, seen as extremely lenient by some and dangerously eccentric by others.
The effect of Karl Franz mental health came to a head in 2542 when he introduced the so called ’Mutant Laws’. This law labelled mutants as ‘afflicted individuals’ rather than marked by Chaos. It was therefore declared that mutants could not be killed on sight, indeed mutation was no longer in itself a crime!
Such a law understandably caused consternation and outrage across the Empire. In the North, particularly in the traditional Ulrican ‘strongholds’ of Middenhiem and Nordland the law was not only ignored but the official response was a greater purge of mutants. Such blatant defiance of Imperial edicts began to cause discontent between those loyal to the Northern Electors (mainly Ulricans) and the Imperial authorities (Mainly Sigmarites). The Sigmarites began being branded as mutant lovers, while some Sigmarites began to mutter about the stubborn rebellious, and even heretical Ulricans.
The situation was not helped by the choice of Karl Franz heir apparent, Wolfgang Holswig-Schliestein , son of his oldest sister. By all accounts the ‘Crown Prince’ was regarded as something of a fool, easily swayed by more powerful personalities. Furthermore the rumours amongst the peasants and common folk was that Wolfgang was himself a mutant!. This fanciful, to say nothing of treasonous, gossip demonstrated the increasing scepticism and even contempt with which the Imperial authority was held.
A strong heir would have been able to take de facto control and assert his authority.
No heir would have at least led to a position where each of the Electors would have calmed their respective followers in anticipation for the coming Election following Karl Franz death in the hope that they might have a chance of gaining the crown,
As it was Wolfgang had the support of his Uncle (who would be able to cast his vote in favour of the Crown Prince in his will). He had three more votes provided by the Temple of Sigmar which was eager to have a pliant and above all Sigmarite Emperor on the throne. Finally another vote was secured from the Halfling Elder from the Moot. Five votes put Wolfgang well on his way to securing the eight votes he needed to be crowned Emperor.
As a result both Ulricans and Sigmarites knew that for the foreseeable future there would be no strong Emperor on the throne to deliver order. Each state would have to look to themselves.
The Aging Wolf
If the official Imperial and Sigmarite authorities were not able to provide sound leadership for the Empire then the Ulricans could do little better.
Graf Boris Todbringer, ruler of Middenhiem was suffering from a long term and severe depression following the death of his wife Anika-Elise Nikse, daughter of the Baron Von Nordland. She had died childless. The Grafs only legitimate child was his youngest son Stefan. Stefan himself though technically heir to the Graf (Boris oldest son Hienrich was illegitimate) was an invalid and mentally unfit to rule.
Of the other Ulrican Elector Counts, Ar-Ulric, high priest of Ulric was able to do little as he was based in Middenhiem and primarily acted as advisor with Graf Todbringer and would be unlikely to act without the Grafs lead. Further more Ar-Ulric was in 2543 caught in an awkward political and personal crisis when he began being blackmailed about an affair he was having with the Grafs Paramour!
Grand Duke Gustav of Tabacland was but an infant (aged two) at the time of the Storm of Chaos and had
little influence on events until the final years of the ‘Empire in Flames’. The Grand Duke of Middenland was as much a rival of Middenhiem as he was with the Sigmarites. Finally Nordland (not technically an Elector Province) was happy to have a chance to face off against its old rival Ostland.
Further to these factors was the fact that the two traditionally reconciliatory forces of the Temple of Shallya and Verena did not have much effect. Neither Temple for various reasons were able to provide strong leadership during this period.
The Power Behind the Throne
Occasionally the actions of a few independent minded individuals cross with the great events of History, re-directing its course forever. Such was the case in the Summer of 2543 during the Great Carnival of Middenhiem.
The events of Carnival week are well documented else where and shan’t be repeated in great detail here but in summery a cruel and manipulative man by the name of Karl-Hienz Wasmeier had gained the position of Law Lord within the city. He was however a follower of Tzeentch. He used his position and the Grafs ailing state to formulate a plan whereby a number of tax laws were put into effect that divided the city and weakened its defences. He allied himself with a creature of chaos known as a doppelganger who would assassinate the Graf and assume his identity. Middenhiem would truly be a City of Chaos. Fortunately for the Empire a band of intrepid adventures were able to foil Wasmeiers plot, stop the assassination and dispose of the evil Law Lord. In addition it had been agents of Wasmeier who had been blackmailing Ar Ulric. These blackmailers were also discreetly ’neutralised’.
The political situation was within a few weeks changed. The Graf realising how close he had come to being murdered was shaken out of his grim depression while Ar-Ulric was once again able to offer clear and sound advice and begin to mitigate the worse of the tensions between Sigmarites and Ulricans.
Despite this change in the political landscape there was still much division in the Empire. The Emperors mental health had degenerated into a serious but lingering physical illness.
Grand Duke Gustav had come of age and was looking to cement his position by expanding his domains. He was eager to claim various disputed areas of Ostland. Both sides began facing off against each other and ‘Witch Hunters’ from both sides began harassing their rival’s villages.
There was talk of some of the petty rulers in Nordland denouncing the Sigmarites as heretics, and in league with mutants. Meanwhile the Elector Count of Stirland made strong protest about Middenlands defiance of the anti-mutant laws and the apparent oppression of Sigmarite clerics, in particular a tax that certain barons were levying.
Hail the Wolf!
Events began to move quickly in late 2544 with the assassination of Emperor Karl Franz.
Karl Franz had apparently recovered from his illness somewhat and had called a grand council of electors to discuss both his own position and the growing tension within the Empire. In particular it was widely understood that the Emperor was going to abdicate in favour of his heir the ‘Crown Prince’ Wolfgang. When the Emperor arrived he apparently did not look much recovered, indeed he looked far older than his sixty three years. The Emperor began a barely coherent speech in which he claimed that his Doctor Ludwig von Ente had prepared moon medicine to cure him. As the Electors watched with growing embarrassment at this spectacle one of the Emperors guards approached. Before anyone could stop him he drew a knife and cut the Emperor‘s, throat. The old man was dead in seconds. The guard turned to the horrified crowd and spoke three words.
“Hail the Wolf!”.
Then he made to flee, but was cut down by the rest of the Emperors guards.
The true identity of this guard was never established but his words had more impact than a dozen speeches by a dozen demagogues. The Ulrican faction was widely held responsible for the assassination and only the fact that there was still an Imperial Election to take place held the various factions in order. None the less the Sigmarite worshipers now taking the moral high ground began actively supporting Witch hunters and various radical clerics in denouncing followers of the ’traitorous’ wolf god.
Following the burning of several Ulricans for ’witchcraft’ a group of militia men from Middenland marched over the border into Ostland to ‘offer protection’. They were soon pulled back but the first moves had been made.
Death in The Afternoon
The assassination of the Emperor had been a shock, but a shock the Electors could handle. Most were willing to use the event for their own ends but none seriously believed that the Ulricans had actually put the assassin up to the deed. More likely it was the work of a bitter mad man or at worse an anarchist seeking to spread disorder.
The gruesome events of the Imperial Election would change the feeling that both sides were playing at mere politics and would finally begin the Empires descent into civil war and bloodshed.
Below is a narrative of the events that took place at the Volkshalle, the place where the Electors gather to elect a new Emperor, a few months after Karl Franz death, presented to give a clearer picture.
“Inside the Volkshalle the Electors are seated around a large circular table in the centre of the hall. Immediately behind each Elector sits his or her most trusted retainers in a wedge shaped block of pew like seats.
The hall has an air of expectation about it. Scribes are passing notes between the Electors and there are many hushed conversations going on.
The chamber falls silent as the Grand Theogonist, Yorri, emerges from the Sigmarite shrine attached to the side of the Volkshalle. He walks slowly to the lectern by the throne.
“Imperial Electors…We are gathered here to consider two matters. Firstly the urgent election of a new Emperor. Secondly we are here to discover the true killers of our late lamented Emperor Karl Franz” Yorri looks around the hall allowing his gaze to rest an instant on the Ulrican Electors. It is obvious where he places the blame.
There is a roar of trumpets from outside, and a herald steps forward and announces “His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Wolfgang of Holswig-Schliestein, nominated heir of our late lamented Emperor Karl Franz I, may he rest in peace.”
Before the herald has a chance to finish Crown Prince Wolfgang strides into the hall. At his back are ten Imperial Guardsmen, resplendent in their finest uniforms. Yorri, the Grand Theogonist bows deeply, and then moves aside to allow the Prince to climb the two steps to the throne. The Prince seats himself, then gradually slumps down in the chair, resting his chin on one fist. He looks utterly bored and this is before the ceremony is even underway. He waves a hand at Yorri.
“By the authority entrusted to me, I hereby request that each Elector declare his vote in the matter of the Imperial succession” Yorri’s voice booms out across the hall. “Let all present witness that the election of the Emperor is fair and free, a choice of his people”.
Yorri pauses and holds up a scroll “I hold the last will of Karl-Franz I Emperor. One vote for Wolfgang Holsig-Schliestien, Crown Prince, cast in his favour. He passes the scroll down to a clerk. “No other nominations having been declared, how say the Electors? Do you consent to Wolfgang Holsig-Schliestien, as your Emperor?”
Again Yorri pauses, and then he says “For Yorri Grand Theogonist of Sigmar, an ‘Aye’. Long Live Emperor Wolfgang, second of that name.” Wolfgang has two votes. “How say you Aglim Arch Lector of Sigmar?”
Aglim stands and bows to Wolfgang “Aye!” Three votes to Wolfgang.
“How say you, Kaslain Arch Lector of Sigmar?”
“Aye” Kaslains vote is predictable. Four votes in favour. Wolfgang grins and shifts in his seat.
Ar Ulric rises to cast his vote but Yorri does not call him “How say you Hals von Tasseninck, Grand Prince of Ostland?” Ar-Ulric sits down heavily and looks at Graf Boris, his faced shocked. Will the Ulrican Electors be allowed to vote?
“Aye!” There are murmurs as Grand Prince Hals casts the fifth vote for Wolfgang. Yorri takes one step forwards and the noise subsides. He looks towards Alberich Haupt Anderssen, Graf of Stirland, and then turns away. His next choice of Elector also comes as a surprise.
“How say you Boris Todbringer, Graf of Middenhiem?”
Graf Boris slowly rises to his feet and looks round at his fellow Electors. He leans on the table his hands flat on its ancient surface, His voice is quiet “No”
"I ask you again, how say you?" Yorri doesn’t like the answer.
“No” Graf Boris straightens up. Whispered comments fill the hall. “No, I will not cast my vote in his favour”
Yorri seems appalled at the breach with accepted protocol. The Imperial Election was supposed to be a formality, a necessary formality but no more. Yorri starts to flounder, unsure of what to do next, and the Crown Prince rises to his feet. Graf Boris is unrepentant and repeats his vote “No.”
“NO!” The Crown Prince scream cuts through the whispers and murmurs. He steps down from the throne and walks towards Graf Boris. There are tears on his face “But you all promised….” his voice is almost whining.
Graf Boris looks at the Crown Prince with pity and contempt and shakes his head again “No”
“Please…” Wolfgang falls to his knees in front of Graf Boris and grabs his hand. The hall is absolutely silent “I want to be Emperor! Your all supposed to say I can be Emperor! Yorri promised me that everyone would say yes…..”
It is obvious that Graf Boris has heard enough. He pulls his hand out of Wolfgang’s grasp and, by accident, slaps the Crown Prince in the face. It is hardly a blow in anger, but before the Graf can apologise Wolfgang’s face contorts in rage. The entire audience gasp and shrieks, partly in horror at the blow mostly in horror at what is happening to the Crown Prince.
Wolfgang pounds the floor with his fists, locked into a temper tantrum, As he does so his entire body erupts in a terrible transformation. His eyes sprout stalks and leap a foot from his head. His fingers become twisted and clawed, and wings sprout from his back. As Wolfgang shrieks in anger a long tongue darts from his mouth, testing the air like a huge snake, The Crown Prince is transformed in the wink of an eye into a hideous mutant.
In the same instant Wolfgang strikes at Graf Boris,. His claws rip into the old mans torso. His tongue lashes out and the Graf falls backwards his face and neck a bloody ruin. Graf Boris’ body gives a final spastic twitch as Wolfgang lashes at him again. Then, standing over the corpse, Wolfgang looks for fresh victims……”
The Crown Prince was quickly slain by a group of Graf Boris bodyguards (as it happens the same individuals who had saved his life nearly a year earlier).
At that moment, with the realisation that the assembled Electors had come within a hairs breath of electing a creature of chaos, a few well timed words of calm, of reconciliation could have changed the attitudes of the Electors, and saved many lives. Instead the air was rent with accusations from both sides. Within a few minutes words turned to violence, violence to open battle as a fight broke out between the Stirlanders and the Talabeclanders. An attempt was made to strike Ar Ulric as he left the assembly with the Middenheimers but a Knights Panther stopped the blow of the would be assailant. In the confusion Graf Alberich Haupt-Anderssen of Stirland was seriously wounded, and Chancellor Maximillian Dachs of Ostermark was killed by the blade of the Grand Duke of Talabecland himself.
Following the debacle in the Volkshalle the Electors quickly left the Capital to their own lands with talk of war to follow.
The True Hammer
Although the Elector Counts were heading towards civil war there were some amongst them that saw the folly of such an action. Chief amongst them were Arch Lector Kaslian and Ar-Ulric. Shortly after the death of Wolfgang they held a secret meeting where it was decided that a great gesture or symbol was needed to restore order and unity to the Empire. Following visions both of them had received it was decided that Ghal-Maraz the True Hammer of Sigmar must be found and brought back to the Empire!. Such a discovery would remind the people of the Empire of their history, and the long struggles their ancestors had gone through to forge the great nation. Agents were sent out towards Black Fire Pass, following a few scant clues. Time was one of the few allies they had, it would take months before armies could be raised.
Note: A distinction is made by me at this point between the ‘Hammer of Sigmar’ Karl Franz wields and Ghal-Maraz the True Hammer of Sigmar. Both the religious effect the True Hammer was purported to have and its actual effects in combat compared to those of the magic weapon wielded by Karl Franz showed that there must have been a major difference though this was never explicitly mentioned in the official sources.
The Fuel that Feeds the Fire.
Within a few weeks two factions had emerged within the Empire, one consisting of Middenhiem, Middenland, Talabecland and Nordland, these were mainly Ulrican states, against Stirland, Sudenland, Ostland and Ostermark, all mainly Sigmarite States. The Grand Theogonist was quickly able to ‘persuade’ Averland to join his cause, though the state was more or less neutral in religious terms.
The two sides were more or less evenly matched. Following the Storm of Chaos the Ulrican forces had taken great pains to increase the training given to their peasant militias. Two decades later these training regimes ingrained into the population allowed the Ulricans to raise the core of their army quickly, to use not against beastmen but against their fellow countrymen.
For their part the Sigmarites could call upon the hardened Ostlanders also plagued by the Storm of Chaos twenty years previously. The alliances that Karl Franz had forged were still strong and while no nations sent any official aid to the Sigmarites Tilean and Estillean mercenaries soon found themselves marching under the banner of the Twin Tailed Comet.
The Colleges of Magic were divided with the Bright, Light and Gold colleges eager to join the Imperial cause. The Jade college was more hesitant but reluctantly agreed to fight for the Sigmarites. The Grey and Amthyist college were strictly neutral seeing the war as a folly that would allow the forces of Chaos to overwhelm the Empire. The Amber college was nominally neutral but as hostilities started many Amber wizards found themselves fighting for the Wolf God.
But if the Sigmarites thought they would be able to have complete magic superiority they were mistaken. Middenhiem had its own very well organised Wizards Guild and there were many Elementalists jealous of the power the Colleges held who were more than willing to fight for the Ulricans.
Save for the Knights of the White Wolf and the Knights Panther and a few other Ulrican Orders virtually every other Knightly Order sided with the Sigmarites, or as they saw it the loyalists.
Non-Humans, Elves Halflings and Dwarfs were strictly neutral in this conflict save for those Dwarfs who lived in Middenhiem and were deeply loyal to the city. Though they would not march with the Middenhiemers they did agree to stay and defend the city against any hostile forces, ‘be they man, orc or beast’.
The greatest surprise that the raising of forces was the fact that Nuln declared its alliance with the Ulrican forces, with it went the core of the Imperial artillery.
The reason for this was simple but not widely known, the Middenhiem ruler following the death of Graf Boris Todbringer was his illegitimate son Hienrich (Baron Stefan had died a little before the Imperial ‘Election‘). Heinrich was in fact deeply infatuated with Countess Emmanuelle von Liebewitz, ruler of Nuln. The feeling was mutual. There had been some discreet talk of marriage previously but the tensions within the Empire had prevented it going any further, but when war had broken out it soon become obvious to whom Countess Emmanuelle’s loyalties lay.
The Empire In Flames
The opening manoeuvres of the civil war centred on the ‘defection’ of Nuln. Grand Marshall Bock, commander of the Sigmarite forces, was eager to secure Nuln and its guns Moving South from Altdorf he led a force numbering just over 4000 towards Nuln. The gunners of the Imperial school supported by the citizen levy of Nuln were more than ready however. As the Marshall approached the town of Biebdorf he and his men were caught in brilliantly executed ambush and were killed to a man, betrayed by an Ulrican sympathiser in their midst’s. The first formal battle of the war had been fought and lost.
The Sigmarites quickly recovered from this defeat and were able to co-ordinate and gather their troops together, while the Ulricans were still celebrating their first victory and deciding about their wider strategy. However the Sigmarites were unable to successful press the Ulricans. The Grand Theogonist, Yorri, began to interfere with military matters. His poor grasp of tactics, not to mention his poor communications between himself and the front lines (he spent the entire war in the capital) meant the Ulricans were able to out-manoeuvre the Sigmarites at every turn. Militarily they were better led and their various factions’ leaders leant what they could to the whole so that Imperial gunners and Knights Panther fought alongside Nordland spearmen and Middenland swordsmen. The Sigmarites by comparison were fairly disorganised save for that ‘direction’ given to them by Yorri, and the standing Imperial army which spent most of the war garrisoned in Altdorf. On a social level too the Ulricans formulated a wiser policy. Prompted by Ar-Ulric the Ulricans (for the most part) did not give into the worst excesses of religious hatred and refrained from killing Sigmarites out of hand. As the war progressed more Sigmarites were willing to surrender, and co-operate with the Ulricans knowing they wouldn’t be summarily martyred.
By contrast the Sigmarites put to death dozens of Ulrican clerics and in some cases even entire villages.
It should be noted that independent ‘Witch Hunters’ on both sides were rife, and they contributed too much bloodshed and strife on both sides.
Neither side was willing to risk large pitched battles, at least in the early stages of the war. The Ulricans were comparatively few in number and were willing to push the Sigmarites into a more favourable position. The experienced Sigmarite commanders knew that they were badly in need of better command and organisation. A battle, if fought and lost, would be a waste of the numerical and territorial advantage they had. Dozens of small skirmishes resulted, these dragged on late into the long summer of 2545.
It should be made clear that the forces of chaos had not watched idly while the Empire tore itself apart. Tzeentch cultists of the Red Crown had been gathering together and organising bands of mutants and even beastmen and had been raiding the relatively undefended farmsteads and hamlets of North Ostland. In the South the Cult of the Twisting Serpent and the Jade Sceptre both made attempts to halt the progression of the agents sent by Ar-Ulric and Kaslain to find Ghal-Maraz. The tunnel fighting with the Skaven and beastmen under Middenhiem became particularly fierce. Normally sweeping the Under city was a case of basic patrols for the Dwarfs, by mid 2545 however it had become a virtual siege under the unsuspecting city.
The Ulricans and Sigmarites consumed by their petty differences were none the wiser as the war marched towards its bloody finale while the forces of Chaos watched on eagerly.
Cometh the Hour Cometh the Man
Graf Heinrich Todbringer of Middenhiem proved a more than able commander for the Ulricans, indeed he was truly inspirational. Advised by his father’s old friend Marshall Maximillian Von Gensher and the High Priest of Ulric, Ar-Ulric he was able to both unite the Ulrican faction and drive back the Sigmarites with the minimum of bloodshed to either side. In truth Heinrich had been told of the mission to find the Hammer of Sigmar by Ar-Ulric and was doing what he could to delay the war and prevent it from spilling into a conflict that would allow no peace.
By the end of the summer of 2545 the best Sigmarite forces had been driven, by the use of simple skirmishes, back to Wolfenburg. Here Heinrich decided to settle the war with, hopefully, the only large pitched battle of the conflict.
The Sigmarites knowing that the defences of Wolfenburg were inadequate to resist a long siege by an Ulrican force supported by the Imperial Gunners of Nuln decided to sally forth.
In the centre of the Sigmarite line was a huge block of Ostland detachments supported by Great Swords of the Imperial Guard. On the east flank was a small detachment of Averlanders, mainly archers and spearmen. Knights of the Gryphon Legion, allies from Kisliev, supported them. On the West flank the Sigmarites had four small detachments of Stirlanders, Sudenlanders and Ostermarkers, a mixture of swordsmen, archers and free companies. In reserve the Sigmarites had Knights of the Fiery Heart and High Helms.
Facing them was the larger Ulrican force. The centre consisting of numerous detachments from Middenhiem (including Knights of the White Wolf and almost every member of the Knights Panther), Talabeclanders and Middenlanders. Their numbers were slightly superior to their Sigmarite counterparts and they were better trained. On the East flank the Ulricans had placed a small but solid block of Nordland halberdiers and spearmen. While on the West flank a large body of Talabecland swordsmen and spearmen supported by crossbow men had been assembled.
In reserve was a small detachment of Talabecland halberdiers and the guns of Nuln. On the extreme West flank Nuln spearmen were also deployed.
The two armies tactics were fairly similar, a pitched battle in the centre of the battlefield decided by the strength of the central regiments. The Ulricans were hoping that their superior numbers and the quality of their troops would tell and would quickly rout the Sigmarites. The Sigmarites were hoping that their centre and West flank would hold long enough for their cavalry reserves to outflank and crush the Ulricans in a devastating pincer movement.
The battle began fairly slowly. Both sides wanted to keep their forces fairly compact and they both knew that once committed their would be little chance to re-deploy or indeed direct the ebb and flow of the battle. The Gryphon Legion struck first driving back the Nordlanders on the East flank. However this allowed the Middenlanders in the centre to advance into the Averland detachment, sure the Sigmarite cavalry would not immediately charge them.
On the West flank the Stirlanders, Sudenlanders and Ostermarkers faced off against the Talbeclanders, neither side willing to fully commit. What missile weapons were available were brought to bear but neither side were suffering particularly heavy casualties.
Then, as if by some pre-arranged signal the centre of the Ulrican line surged forward to engage the Imperial Guard and Ostlanders. The grim determination of the knights Panther the savagery of the Whit Wolves and the discipline of the Talbecland great swords began to tell as the Ostlanders were cut down in their dozens. Only the fierce resistance of the Imperial guard held the Sigmarite line from the initial charge.
Before the battle descended into the bloodbath that was expected Ghal-Maraz the True Hammer of Sigmar was revealed, and presented to Sigmars heir, none other than Graf Heinrich Todbringer, illegitimate son of Boris Todbringer.
What neither side had realised or even suspected was that the agents (it was no coincidence that these were the same individuals that had saved Graf Boris life a year previous and had slain the mutant Wolfgang), that High Priest Ar-Ulric and Arch Lector Kaslain had sent to retrieve the Hammer from its resting place in the lost dwarf hold of Kadar-Khalizad had not only succeeded but had brought the Hammer in secret to the battle of Wolfenburg.
They had each received a vision by the Avatar of Sigmar telling them to find the heir of Sigmar and bring order to the Empire. The Hammer itself was able to guide them inexorably towards Heinrich.
Fighting their way through the press of bodies these bold heroes presented the Hammer to Heinrich.
As his hands clenched around it the sky grew black as pitch and the fighting died down as men from both sides looked around in confusion. Then from the West came a bright light that rose above the darkened battlefield, a Twin Tailed comet the sign of Sigmar, under it ran a huge wolf, the colour of fresh snow. The comet advanced above the battlefield until it came to a stop above Graf Hienrich’s head. The wolf stopped then and let out a great howl. From around the battlefield the howl was greeted by a hundred others. There could be no doubt what the will of the gods was, this son of Sigmar and Ulric was to be the next Emperor. A few moments later the comet faded and darkness returned. When the darkness too had faded back to the light of day there was no trace of the wolves. For a few seconds there was confusion. And then like a ripple the soldiers from both sides began to fall to one knee at Heinrichs feet.
The war was over.
History did not of course stop here, there were still areas of the Empire that saw minor skirmishes for up to several months afterwards and tensions between Ulricans and Sigmarites took far longer to subside. The forces of Chaos too were unwilling to let this opportunity slide, indeed the new Emperor was attacked at his coronation by a mighty daemon of Tzeentch.
None the less there were no less than eight Elector counts present at the battle of Wolfenburg from both sides all who were willing to support the new Emperor. For this reason the period known as the ’Empire in Flames’ can be said to have drawn to a close in the last weeks of Summer 2545.
A selection of stats that may be useful for those wishing to run WFRP or Fantasy Battle scenarios involving the personalities in these events. Points are not included as these figures should be used as part of a specific scenario. The True Hammer in particular is very powerful.
Heinrich Todbringer Graf of Middenhiem, Heir of Sigmar
1st edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay stats (WFRP)
Acute Hearing, Ambidextrous, Charm, Consume Alcohol, Cryptography, Disarm, Dodge Blow, Etiquette, Evaluate, Excellent Vision, Heraldry, Immunity to Disease, Luck, Night Vision, Orientation, Public Speaking, Read/Write, Eltharin and Old Worlder, Ride, Secret language-Battle Tongue. Sixth Sense Speak Additional Language, Eltharin, Old Worlder (most dialects), Specialist weapon, Lance two-handed weapon, Story Telling, Strike to Stun, Strike Mighty Blow, Strike to Injure, Theology, Very Strong, Wit.
Unlimited cash and credit.
Magic Plate armour- +1 AP all locations
Skavenslayer (magic sword) I -10 Ws +10 D +3 inflicts 2d6 wounds vs. Skaven)
A giant of man standing at 6 feet 11 inches. Dark auburn hair blue-grey eyes and unnervingly piercing gaze.
Warhammer Fantasy Battle Stats
Fate-Heinrich ignores the first wound he suffers in the game regardless of its cause. If Heinrich has fled the battlefield or is cut down while running fate will not save him.
In a campaign game where Heinrich is slain (or otherwise removed from play) on a roll of 2+ Heinrich is assumed to have survived the battle.
Magic Plate Armour-Provides a 3+ save
Skavenslayer (two handed sword, may not use a shield) St+1, in addition vs. Skaven Heinrich has the killing blow ability..
If allowed by the scenario Heinrich may wield the True Hammer of Sigmar. In which case skavenslayer is not used foe the battle
May be given a barded horse to ride,.
The Hammer of Sigmar
Note that the Hammer of Sigmar is an incredibly powerful artefact and is loaded with religious significance. It will not be wielded by some random lord and certainly not a petty hero unless under the most extreme circumstances. Heinrich himself only wielded the Hammer in battle once against a Lord of Change sent to kill him. In short it should be used with caution (hence no points value)
1) All blows by Ghal-Maraz cause an additional D +3 except for certain creatures listed below.
In addition the bearer adds +20 to his/her Ld Cl Wp and Fel and +10 to his WS and I and +1 to his St T and +2 to his W
2) Ghal-Maraz has a Lesser Death Rune against all green skins of any variety including snotlings and hobgoblins. Any hit kill instantly.
3) Against Ogres Trolls Giants and Champions and Warriors of Chaos Ghal-Maraz causes 2d6 Damage plus the users modified St. The additional +3 damage is ignored however.
4)The bearer is immune to non magical weapons and may only ever take a maximum of a +1 critical hit
5)Ghal-Maraz can cast the following spells once per day with no magic point cost.
Cure Light wound, Cure Severe Wound, Cure Disease. Spells always have the maximum beneficial effect.
Ghal-Maraz has a permanent, Aura of Resistance that protects its bearer.
Ghal-Maraz can cast detect magic whenever required.
Ghal-Maraz can cast enthuse 12 times a day.
6) Ghal-maraz causes terror in Greenskins of any kind. It can also be used to dispel fear or terror caused by Chaos creatures including daemons up to 3 times per day. The Hammer also detects any followers of chaos who approach within 8 yards
7)The Hammer negates the effects of the following spells if the bearer wishes. Cause Cowardly Flight, Dispirit, Cause Fear, Cause Panic.
Finally the Hammer of Sigmar can deliver one St 10 hit to a creature of Chaos once per day. The strike is unerringly accurate and the Hammer can be thrown up to 16 yards to strike its target. The Hammer will then return to its bearer’s hand.
Hammer of Sigmar in Warhammer Fantasy Battle
Against Ogres Giants Trolls and Chaos Warriors and Champions the bearer counts as having killing blow (which will effect such creatures despite their size)
Against Greenskins of any kind the Hammer counts as having the killing blow ability which will automatically take effect if the target is hit.
Once per battle the bearer of the Hammer may inflict an automatic St10 hit against any follower or creature of chaos. This strike has a range of 6 inches and may be delivered in the Close Combat or Shooting phase. The attack will hit automatically, roll to wound as normal (though note that all of the Hammers normal rules apply in respect to Killing Blow etc)
The Bearer of the Hammer may not take more than one wound a turn for any reason.
The Hammer causes Terror in Greenskins
The Hammer may be used to automatically rally any fleeing troops within 6 inches
Finally the hammer of Sigmar is of such potent religious significance to Empire troops that it increases the bearers command range by 6 inches (so an Empire General holding the Hammer could have troops within 18 inches take his Ld).
Yes the hammer is very powerful, no it isn’t balanced, nor is it meant to be, use with discretion.