The Veiled Blade
The primary setting of WFRP is the Empire, a region of the Old World based loosely on the Holy Roman Empire, with a number of baronies, counties and dukedoms fashioned after the fiefs of elector counts and dukes. Other prominent regions include Bretonnia, based on medieval France with strong Arthurian mythology themes; Kislev, based on medieval Poland and Imperial Russia; and the Wasteland, whose sole city of Marienburg is based on the Low Countries. Other lands not explored as thoroughly but still frequently mentioned include the fragmented lands of Estalia and Tilea, fashioned after Spain and the city-states of Renaissance Italy respectively, and Araby, a mixture of Arabic Caliphate and Persia. Other lands with real-life analogies include Cathay (China), Ind (India), Naggaroth (northern North America), Ulthuan (Atlantis), Lustria (Mesoamerica), Norsca (Scandinavia) and the island of Albion (British Isles); however, very little official information has been released for these locales.
While the setting of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay shares traits, such as the existence of elves and goblins, with other popular fantasy settings, it is chronologically set slightly later than that of many fantasy games – close to the early Renaissance era in terms of technology and society. Firearms are readily available, though expensive and unreliable, and a growing mercantile middle class challenges the supremacy of the nobility.
One of the most identifiable features of the Warhammer setting is Chaos. While the forces of Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy Battle are depicted primarily in the form of marauding dark knights and beastmen, Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is an insidious force gnawing at the fabric of society. Secret cults abound among all strata of society, seeking to overthrow the social order or to further their own power. Mutants lurk in the forests outside the great cities, while the Skaven (a race of rats) tunnel beneath them.
Magic is widely feared and reviled, and not without reason. Magic is derived from – and thus corrupted by – Chaos, and its practitioners tread a fine line between death or corruption and relative safety.
Player Character Careers:
Religion in the Old World:
Verena is the Goddess of Knowledge, Science, Law and Justice. Her symbols are the scale and the downward-pointing sword, representing justice, as well as the owl, representing wisdom. Verena is generally portrayed as a tall and beautiful woman, dignified and serious, sometimes with a blindfold over her eyes, her scale in one hand and her sword in the other. Other depictions include an owl or an elderly scholar of varying gender. In legends, she sometimes takes the form of an owl or a venerable sage of either sex. She is said to be the wife of Morr, and is often asked to intercede with her husband by people who have broken the law for a just cause, or those who are oppressed and affected by injustice. Verena is concerned with fairness, rather than with the literal letter of the law, and she is equally opposed to tyranny and oppression as she is to crime. As Verena values wisdom and education, her church is much more positively aligned to magic than other religions in the Empire.
Shallya is the Goddess of Healing, Mercy and Childbirth. In the classical pantheon she is the daughter of Verena and Morr. She is normally portrayed as a young beautiful maiden whose eyes are perpetually welling with tears, but she can also take the form of a white dove. She is an exceptionally important goddess throughout the Old World. People pray to Shallya all the time: when they are suffering from an illness, when they are hoping to have children, or when they are looking for forgiveness for their sins. Of all the gods, she is the only one who most people agree really listens.
Shallya is the most beneficent of all the gods, and her temples provide places of comfort for the sick, the dying, and those without homes. Her clerics are almost always women, and they are trained in the arts of healing and midwifery. Many of the people of the Empire were born in a temple of Shallya; most of them return when they are ill or dying. In the end, it is to the temple of Shallya’s father they go. Followers of Shallya lead a life according to strictures of pacifism and forgiveness, although they have a special enmity for Nurgle, the god of pestilence and sickness.
Morr is the classical God of Death and Dreams in the pantheon of the Old World. He is the ruler of the underworld, and is depicted as a tall, brooding man with an aristocratic bearing, wrapped in dark robes. In Old Worlder belief he is the guardian of the souls of the dead.
He presides over the realm of death, called the Shadowrealm, which is inhabited by the souls of the dead. Morr is also known as the Guardian of Dreams, as the realm of death closely borders the land of dreams. It is also said that he is able to create illusions and communicate through dreams. His symbols are the raven, the scythe, the hourglass, the black rose and the stone portal. He is the husband of Verena, who is said to have knowledge of all that is past while he is the master of dreams and of that which is yet to be. His brother and foremost rival is Khaine, who, in the Old World, is the god of murder and patron of necromancers and assassins.
Although priests of Morr are found throughout the Old World wherever there are dead to be taken care of, his is not a religion which is practiced widely. He is worshipped mainly by the bereaved, who offer up prayers and sacrifices in the hope that their departed will reach his realm safely and prosper there. Interpreters of dreams and those who wish to be free of nightmares also invoke him. Many Amethyst wizards consider Morr to be their patron. In addition, those who fight against the undead, such as Witch Hunters call upon him for divine help, for the art of necromancy enslaves the souls of those who should rightfully enter Morr’s domain.
Ranald is the God of Tricksters. He is a rogue and a charlatan, with an irrepressible sense of humor. He is said to be able to take the form of a crow, a magpie or a black cat. He loves nothing more than to bring down the mighty and raise the low, although he abhors violence of all kinds, and would never condone violent crime, murder or torture. Ranald is considered to be a giver of good fortune, and many prayers are said to him by those wishing for a change of luck, or to keep the wealth they have gained so far.
Although there are almost no real temples to Ranald, he is widely worshiped, mainly by merchants, gamblers, thieves, and all those whose daily tasks revolve around money. Revered across the Old World as a hero of the common folk, his reputation amongst the leaders of other cults is that of a patron of rogues and other so-called “low lifes”.
Taal is the God of Nature and Wild Places. As with his brother Ulric he was the god of a pre-Imperial tribe, and the Empire province of Talabecland still bears his name. He shares with his brother some of the primal aspects of nature. Taal is not a violent god however, and although failing to show the land the proper respect can incur his wrath, his realm is more often the protection and harmony of the wild. His followers are those who depend on and live in accord with the natural world, including many hunters and farmers, and although there is no formal church of Taal, there exist many temples of loose stones out in the countryside, where passing woodsmen can pay their respects to nature.
Ulric is the god of wolves, battle and winter. Long before the Empire was founded by Sigmar, he was worshipped by the soldiers and warriors of the Old World. Ulric is by far the most irate god of the humans, but at the same time he embodies courage, strength and power. In the pantheon of the old gods he is the brother of Taal. He is worshipped predominantly in the north of the Empire, in the provinces of Nordland, Ostland and especially Middenland and the city of Middenheim. Worshippers of Ulric preserve the spirit and traditions of their pre-Imperial ancestors, and the leadership of the cult of Ulric is able to trace its roots back over three millennia.
The symbol of Ulric is the white wolf, and his followers often wear wolf pelts as cloaks, which were taken by an animal killed by their own hands according to Ulric’s strictures. He is commonly depicted as a massive warrior in the style of the tribes who founded the Empire: his long hair flows unbound, his thick black beard is silvered with hoar frost, he wealds a giant two-handed hammer and goes into battle without a helm to show his bravery. He is said to abhor the use of black powder, explosives and mechanical weapons, preferring warriors to wield simple hand-crafted weapons, and he favours an honest up-front approach to all things considering deception and trickery to be tools of the weak.
Ulric’s main temple is located in the “City of the White Wolf” and houses an eternal flame that can – according to the Cult – never be extinguished. It was built by Wodaan, a former High Priest of Ulric, in 63 IC after he had received a vision from his god that bade him do so.
Rhya is the Earth Mother, the goddess of all that grows and lives. It is Rhya to whom the people of the Old World pray to for fair winds, moderate rains, healthy plants and animals, yet she is also the Huntress. Wife of Taal, the lord of Beasts and Rivers, Rhya is seen as the more merciful and gentle of the pair, and is often asked to intercede with her husband to calm his rages.
All the gods-fearing populace of The Empire live in superstitious fear of the powers of Chaos and their corruptive influence. Witchhunters are often called for by the authorities in times of supernatural terror to discover and burn both witches and mutants. The average person has no idea of the details concerning Chaos and know enough to shun it and report it to the authorities when they so much as hear rumour of it. Unbeknownst to them, thousands of miles away In the north pole of the planet the warp vortex spills its powers into the ether and issues forth warp stones, and every once in a while an unfortunate family will give birth to a mutant bearing the unholy marks of this aberrant source of power.
Chaos embodies anarchy and variation while the forces of Law are its very diametric. Lawful gods and their followers seek to bring totalitarian order and a singular unity amongst all things. The forces of Law are a fascist power that are unrelenting in their combat of all things deemed evil or chaotic. Normal folk know well enough to shun these extreme gods too lest they succumb to intense and unreasonable fires of inquisition and purity.
Alignments in Warhammer:
This isn’t D&D or Pathfinder, WFRP alignments are very straightforward and can be boiled down to the following -
1. Chaotic – You are a mutant and you like to do things to the extreme; your body is corrupted by the power of the warp, your mind is crazy and you rebel against all order and the establishment. You want nothing more than to bring an end to all things.
2. Evil – You look out for your own interest first and foremost and no vile act is beyond your capability. You will happily cut the throat of babes and grannies just for the fun of it. You may believe in a particular dark deity, but just as equally you may believe in nothing at all. You’re unlikely to rally to anyone’s call and you probably hate everyone and everything in the world.
3. Neutral – You’re just an average Joe trying to get by. You don’t bother the gods and you sure as hell hope that they don’t bother you. Everything is very 60/40 for you. You like to do the right thing but sometimes it just isn’t safe or wise to stick your neck out. Who knows what you’ll do when things come to a push?
4. Good – You really, really like to do the right thing. You have a high opinion of yourself and of your fellow beings. Being good isn’t always easy but you’ll do your damnedest to ensure that the forces of light triumph over the forces of darkness, even if it means putting yourself out a little.
5.Lawful – You are a single minded and somewhat bigoted individual. There is Chaos and evil out in the world and you’re going to hunt it down and slay it with your righteous sword of justice; you’ll probably take care of all those who you perceived to be collaborators or morally weak too! You won’t rest until everything is under control and all organised and neat.
Playtest Info For Players:
The Psychology of Other Races