All info-graphics are the work of Ashlee Worger, Swordecraft Iron Triangle – Thank you Ashlee!
The Empire is in turmoil. A land united by Sigmar Heldenhammer, since his death the Empire has fallen into petty squabbles. A disagreement led to civil war, with a number of different claimants to the throne. The civil war has a religious aspect in the Empire, it is a war of belief between the cults of Taal, Ulric and Sigmar. Ostermark, Stirland and the northern lands of the Empire are devasted by Vlad von Carstein. Mordheim, the crown of Ostermark and the Empire is destroyed by a Warpstone meteor. Not much is known about Warpstone, except that it is rare and contains many qualities which enhance people and items (some say it is made of evil).
The High Elves, a secretive race leave Ulthuan and their colonies and begin to explore the world again. Finubar arrives and establishes contact with Bretonnia, the Empire and Dwarfs. A trade agreement is made between the High Elves, Tilea and Marienburg. This leads to a trade war between the alliance and the Estalians.
Bretonnia, invaded by Chaos, is slowly rebuilding after being devasted.
Norsca, a land to the far North has seen an expansion of the dread Chaos Wastes, and tales of terrors beyond the wildest dreams. As a result, these hardy raiders and sailors have began looking for new lands to expand into and migrate to.
Kislev, located north of the Empire is a cold land and the most northernmost nation of the Old World. Kislev is ruled by the Tzar and Ice Queen. They know what Chaos is.
Tilea and Estalia. These are made of many rival city states. They are explorers, merchants and warriors.
Sartosa: Small island off the south coast of Tilea, it is ruled by a pirate-king who has created a kingdom and haven for pirates and other criminals.
Dwarfs. There are numerous Dwarven holds, and they have now began to expand and send out envoys and trading caravans throughout the Old World.
The Border Princes, also known as the Borderlands is a vast region within the Old World located between the Black Mountains and Black Fire Pass (The Empire is to the north) and the shores of the Black Gulf to the south (the gulf leads to the Tilean sea). This region of vast wilderness is home to a multitude of petty Human kingdoms which were established by highly ambitious adventurers who sought to create a realm of their own.
Many times, however, these adventurers usually consist of political or religious refugees from lands such as the Empire, Bretonnia, Kislev or any of the other Human Kingdoms. As such, these lands are infamous as the homes of a wide variety of bandits, mercenaries, cut-throats, pirates and other lawless fugitives from many different races. The Border Princes is made up of many abandoned ancient ruins, some which are still full of treasures and deadly traps.
The regional rulers are known collectively as Border Princes or Princesses. Each prince or princesses rules a small realm, which have the prestigious and over exaggerated title of Principality, yet it is usually a realm that would barely qualify as a Knight’s fief in more civilised lands. Most princes and princesses have a court, a group of hangers-on who help the prince to run his principality in return for rewards or until they have enough clout to murder him and take over.
The overwhelming majority of communities in the Border Princes are small compared to other civilized lands. Outside the principalities, there are no communities larger than a hamlet, and the largest settlements of the region would only count as small towns in the more civilised parts of the Old World.
Most principalities contain a large number of villages, with rare towns located between these small kingdoms. Communities in the Border Princes have many features in common with communities elsewhere; homes of varying quality, a Temple or Shrine to the locally favoured God, a marketplace, probably a mill, and so on.
One feature that sets communities in this region apart is the level of fortification. There are no undefended communities, and all villages have at least an earth and wood rampart with a gate that is guarded at all times. Within these fortifications, homes are generally built to be defensible. It is common for the entrance to be on the first floor, for example, and for the ground floor to have solid stone walls or thick earth ramparts with no openings. There are, of course, other equally dangerous regions of the Old World, but the Borderlands is more extensive than most of them.
Communities also have distinguishing features. Some of these are pure colour, as far as outsiders are concerned. Perhaps the blacksmith is very fat, or the villagers are particularly devout worshippers of Sigmar.
The Borderlands are full of perils. War, plague, famine — these kill many of the inhabitants long before their time. But the inhabitants of the region rarely worry about these threats. They are far too busy worrying about the monsters. Some scholars have speculated that the Borderlands have no more monsters than any other region of the Old World but that the absence of government makes them bolder, making the monsters seem more numerous. Scholars who have actually been to the Border Princes know that this is ridiculous; the inhabitants of more civilised areas might think that their actions have no effect on the number of foul creatures plaguing them, but these scholars know better. Without organised hunts, monsters in the Borderlands are far more numerous, and bolder, than elsewhere.
Sudenburg is located in the Border Princes region. It is a frontier town on the Old Silk road (map located above). Sudenburg is surrounded by wilderness, hostile human and non-human tribes, the ruins of ancient civilisations, and rumours of untold treasure.
A town where its ruling Council of 4 Lords and Merchants, are always looking for swords to hire and people are looking to make a decent (or not so decent) living. A town where you are likely to die in battle as with a knife in your guts. A town where bold adventure awaits.
Sudenburg is located near an offshoot of the Blood River, with access to the sea and the Dwarven hold of Barak Varr a couple of days march away.
Sudenburg has seen exponential growth in the past five years as bold merchants have sought to re-open the Old Silk Road and adventurers have made forays into the Badlands to the south.
Realms of Men: Kingdom of Bretonnia (Arthurian knights, Robin Hood); The Empire (Faith, steel and gunpowered in Renaissance Germany); Estalia ( Renaissance Spain and Portugal); Tilea (Renaissance Italy with Roman Empire influences); Dogs of War (mercenary companies); Norsca (Vikings); Albion (Celtic British isles); Cathay (Ancient China); Nippon ( Feudal Japan) Araby (Arabian Nights)); Kingdoms of Ind (Indian subcontinent).
Elves: High elves (Arrogant, good-guy elves); Wood elves (Reclusive, savage, forest worshiping elves) , Dark Elves (Arrogant, sadistic, bad-guy elves who make Machiavelli look like a pussy cat) – only playable with permission of Swordcraft.
Dwarfs: Norse and Imperial/Normal Dwarfs.
Haflings: The Empire (the Moot).
Orcs and Goblins: In this version, they can communicate and are looked down as savage barbarians. Occasionally they form blood crazed hordes and try to wipe out all other races.
Hobgoblins: Half way between an orc and a goblin but with hair. Rule an enormous empire on the central steppes and live like Mongols.
Dark Elves: Sadistic and devious wizards and witches, blade- masters, corsairs and reavers of the seas, hate High Elves.
Lizardmen: Tropical bi-pedal magic lizards, very Aztec inspired. Not common.
Chaos cultist: People who worship Chaos. Hidden threat
Beastmen: Animals who worship Chaos. Hidden threat.
Chaos Dwarves: Dwarves that worship Chaos. Hidden threat.
Skaven: Steampunk rat people…who worship Chaos – unknown to most people.
Ogres: Large humanoid beings, incredibly strong and seen throughout the Old World. You will need to be tall.
The Undead/Tomb Kings: Egyptian mummies and zombies, ghouls etc. Both are very different and distinct. Hidden threat.
Vampires: Classic vampire and zombies. Hidden threat.
More detailed descriptions here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Races_and_nations_of_Warhammer_Fantasy
There is some understandable confusion and misunderstanding with regards to what Chaos is and how this relates to the Warhammer setting.
In terms of pantheons, there are many gods for the races and species of the Warhammer setting, but no devil – the four great powers of Chaos are what amounts to this. While some of the other gods team up, Chaos is not that way inclined. Chaos in terms of a story can be summed up as the prime evil. Chaos may not be reasoned with or bought; its aims and directives are its own with total indifference to others. The absolute uncompromising nature of Chaos appears in the rewards it bestows on its chosen few and damnation it brings to its failed followers.
To the common citizen of the Old World, and the elf and dwarf kingdoms, Chaos is both an apocalyptic force that ravages from the Chaos Wastes and an insidious hidden presence blamed on and causing all manner of harm and misfortune within.
For a close example from real world history on how most folk relate to Chaos, consider the fear of witches from the mid to late fifteenth century. Common people were in a religious terror and believed in the end of days and the devil walking among them. The accusation of being a witch often lead to torture and death – the same is true for an accusation of following one of the Chaos gods.
The physical armies of Chaos include Daemons, monstrous humanoids and twisted beasts. These reside at the top of the world in a place that shares connection to the immaterial worlds that the Chaos powers originate from – akin to Hell. This is a crossover where reality warps and changes to the whim of evil. The four great Chaos powers reach out and actively burden all peoples of the world, which is in stark contrast to the other gods, some of who are silent and most of which have no influence outside their peoples and lands. There is no place that doesn’t feel the touch of these corrupt beings.
The Warhammer world is a large and complex world. Being a terrible person in this world is one thing, but being a straight up embodiment of all things hated is different.
In the Warhammer world there are 6 “big” evils:
Openly following one of the Chaos powers will be impossible to play in the town of Sudenburg (unless you opt to play two separate characters – a non-Chaos one for the town and a Chaos one for the battlefield).
If you wish to play a single Chaos aligned character then the only option would be one who is a member of a secret cult – this could work in the lawless lands of the Border Princes, but think about what will happen when you reveal yourselves? A consideration would be to consider playing the long game with the cult. If you reveal yourself at the first event then every event you go to after you will be hunted and killed and destroyed. Plan ahead and really think about how a cult would try to stay hidden for as long as they could.
In the current time (2019) the Vampire Wars are being waged in the Empire. This means that most people in the Empire who travel into the Borderlands will know of stories of the blood suckers and will do their best to warn others. You will struggle to really play vampires properly in this game unless you act as described above – hidden until the time is right. Remember, there are entire Knightly Orders dedicated to vanquishing the blight of vampires from the world, along with the cult of Sigmar. People will panic when they learn of vampires in the town of Sudenburg.
Like with Chaos, there is the option to play two characters – a mortal for daylight and a vampire for night.
In the setting of Swordcraft, there is still room to play Orcs and Goblins. Think of the Orcs from D&D, World of Warcraft, or the Tolkien universe. Orcs and Goblins in the Borderlands are savage barbarians, not mindless brutes. In saying this, be prepared to be scorned by most of society and be prepared to deal with the prejudice from many who have fought against orcs and goblins in the past.
It is also possible to play a Dark Elf on the battlefield as an alternative character.
The key to playing one of these “evil” races is how covert you will be (if playing a single character). This game will continue on for years to come. Do you really want to reveal yourselves day one? Plan a head and really think about how you want to Role play and enhanced the game.
If you opt to play an evil race as a second character, you will need to make them appear sufficiently different to your non-evil character that other players understand the difference. You will need clearance from the Swordcraft team if you take this approach.
Consequences. Consider this, there will be consequences in this game. You will no longer just be able to go into a store and kill anyone you want. You will not be able to assassinate anyone on the street. If you are spotted, there will be consequences which will be dire and real.