The latest issue of the 9th Scroll is here! You can read all about it in the news.
Our beta phase is finally over. Download The Ninth Age: Fantasy Battles, 2nd Edition now!
Here we have a possible sidetrack of development for our proposed Polar Dwarves: They remain an open question, such as them being Dwarven Holds or Infernal Dwarves:
When I first shared this Arctic Dwarven Holds concept on Chaos Dwarfs Online, Uther the unhinged was fired up with visions of Infernal Dwarves in the cold north:
"Ooooh can we have polar bears with tusks, pleeeeese!
.........and ice golems......giant scary walrus ice golems........ and penguins (I know they are southern hemisphere, but I like them), giant penguins er just because. Tiny hairy snotling slaves riding giant artic foxes as scouts, messengers, cleaners, cooks and food if it gets too cold. Sleds pulled by white wolves (with bony spikes all over it). More penguins. I think I should go to work before I get too excited."
Now there seem to be a slight chance that Uther's unhinged vision may come to life. See the comment of @saint_barbara beneath DracarysDrekkar7's Inuit Dwarf concept art (my emboldening):
If we use it for the ID, I'll try to remember to thank all the "external contributors". If not - remind me
Which encouraged this two-part evocative brainstorming on Uther's part. We hadn't yet named the Polar Dwarves Karuits when I shared the concept on CDO, so he made up his own name (and a good one I'd like to add) which I'd very much like to share for T9A considerations. We could talk about the DH Polar Dwarf concept as Karuit, and the likewise ID concept as Khinqwit. Well worth the read, regardless of whether you subscribe to the idea or not:
I’d only just finished this fluff for the polar ones.
The Khinqwit dwarves of the far north claim to be the oldest of the free races. They are certainly one of the hardest. They call themselves ‘the people’ and regard all others as enemies and slave races. Their myths go back to a time long before the sky hammer, hen their saurian slavemasters first took them to the mountains of the north to toil for the metals and gems they coveted. Stories tell of repeated slave breaks. How bands of desperate dwarves would force or tunnel their way to freedom. How the saurians would hunt them down, drag them back and butcher them in front of their comrades.
The myths also speak of Hakhawazharr of the Hard Path. Their first leader and founder of their race. They tell of his great escape with a large part of his people. They tell of how he planned it for mid winter when the saurians would be at their most sluggish. Hakhawazharr led his people north hoping to escape the pursuit. He chose the highest passes, the coldest tracks, the hardest paths.
The saurians disabled by the cold sent their hunters, trusted slaves trained in the recapture and execution of escapees. Bartered by the weather, harried by the hunters Hakhawazharr led his people ever northward, seeking for the Shackleless Land. The Shackeless Land where they would be free. The Shackleless Land where their enemies would not, could not follow. The Shackleless Land where only the hardiest, only the hardest could survive.
Hakhawazharr was never to see his promised land. He died saving his people and avenging his wife, squeezing the life from the last of the hunting packs that had followed them. In his passing he urged them ever northwards and taught them the mantra of trust:
Trust not the Lizard, he will enslave you.
Trust not the Elf, he will ensnare you.
Trust not the Green of Skin he will savage you.
Trust not the Manning, he will betray you.
Trust not your weakling brethren, they will seek to profit from you.
Trust only in the people, they will save you.
The people of Hakhawazharr took his words as stone and turned their faces from the sun. Northwards they went till they reached the Shackleless Land of ice and snow where no Lizard could and no Hunter would follow them. Into the white desert they went trusting to the words of Hakhawazharr. Builders that they were they cut blocks from the ice and snow and huddled inside whilst hunters searched for sustenance in that white desert. Yet even with the meagre food they would have perished were it not for the first Shaman, Azthrogeh. It was he who went into the blizzard that night. He went to sacrifice himself. He went so there would be more food for the others. He went to find peace. He found fire! None know the truth of it. Or none will tell, for it is one of the great mysteries of ‘the people’. Yet it is said that Azthrogeh found the ‘Eternal Flame’, and that this entity that the people revere as a god taught Azthrogeh the secrets of sorcery so he might bring warmth to ‘the people’s side they might live.
Little is known of the religion of the Khinqwit, for it is taboo to write the truths down and punishable by death to reveal them to others. That they worship fire in some form is known. Yet unlike other races they do not use it in warfare. Fire is regarded as a sacred thing and to knowingly extinguish a flame is a great sin. That they have magics to create and maintain fire is also known but they would never ‘bless’ an enemy by bestowing this gift upon them. That their god requires blood is also known only too well by those unfortunates who have the misfortune to fall into their grasp, The north is a hard place and it breeds a hard people. Weakness is death, pity is weakness, only the strong survive up there.
By reason of their geographical position and self imposed isolation the Khinqwit dwarves of the North developed separately from others of their kin. This and the sheer lack of mineral resources mean their technological level is far behind most races. This has led many to foolishly and indeed fatally underestimate them. Their animal skin clothes serve not only to keep them warm but provide remarkable protection. This is thought to come from the many small symbol carved ivory and bone charms stitched carefully into them. These are thought to provide both increased warmth but also magical protection. Similarly the long ivory knives and short bone spears should by all rights shatter against the armour of more modern cultures. Yet just as water can be hard as iron when frozen so these symbol carved weapons have a strength and sharpness well beyond that which they should. Woe betide the foe who comes across one of their leaders with bartered or stolen metal weapons! These are bedecked with charms and symbols rendering them truly terrifying in combat. Many Khinqwit carry short bows of surprising power. These symbol carved bone and sinew creations fire barbed shafts of bone with deadly accuracy over short distances. Worse still the tips are coated with some unknown poison which chills the blood of the victim. This will often kill smaller victims with just a scratch and several hits will slow even the great giant walruses that frequent the icy shores.
These ‘backward’ dwarves have been forced to find other ways than technology to survive and as such are possibly the most accomplished of all their kin in the mtstic arts. Each group of warriors or hunters will contain a shamatheh, a lesser shaman. These shamatheh draw on the combined power of the charms in the group to weave a storm of ice and snow round them to hide them from missiles and chill their enemies. With enough warriors gathered together the shamatheh can direct blasts of icy shards at their enemies. The full shamen, the shamanatheh can whip up blinding snows or devastating ice storms, where lumps of ice as big as a helmet can crash to the ground pulverise their enemies.
However the greatest weapon of the Khinqwit is their ferocity. Warriors have been known to fight on with horrific wounds driven by a frenzy of hate.
Most contact with the Khinqwit is by the few hardy traders that travel to the edge of the Shackleless land. There they will barter metal goods for the ivory and skins the Khinqwit hunters bring. Few ever see the scattered settlements of the Khinqwit that dot the ice. Yet stories abound of great settlements far to the north of great ice carved walls and terrible rituals. Few scholars credit these wild tales. How could that desolate waste support a large population? They are only a few scattered tribes, they say. But spend time in the north among the people’s who live close to the ice and you will hear tales. Tales of the darkest winters, when the wind blows from the north and the trees burst with cold. Tales of Khinqwit marching in dreadful silence. Led by Shamanatheh atop huge tusked white bears. Tales of hunting packs of great white wolves. Tales of Khwinqqigo. Terrifying creatures of snow ice and hate. Khwinqwigo, said to be the daemonic souls of Khinqwit driven to cannibalism in life called back to serve the shamanatheh. You will hear the names of settlements that were thriving before the winter snows cut them off and were found in Spring shattered empty shells, lifeless and silent. It is a tribute demanded by their god the eternal flame some say. There is nothing to be done. It is just the way of things. Anyway it is only in the coldest of winters......
It seems there are mysteries up there in the cold, dark north...
Yo, KNC don't get too invested into it based on my comment
@saint_barbara: But Uther just needed a little hint of possibility to explode with creativity and dreams of tusked polar bears. We should encourage that, regardless of what you decide in the end.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to go weird! To the hilt.
As you can see here, the first Chaos Dwarf concepts of the 1980s had a distinctly twisted bend, and this style has been followed up by many different miniature manufacturers who have all given their very own interpretation of this evil Dwarf aesthetic, first pioneered by Citadel Miniatures. Such as:
Clam's Ewal Dvergar
Four A Miniatures
Oldhammer Miniatures by Andrew Taylor
This style is only loosely based on historical armour suits and weapons, and is not founded on any particular culture. This won't do for the Ninth Age, and so here is a proposal from me: But much more from Uther the unhinged over on Chaos Dwarfs Online, who is a true fantasy visionary that can imagine whole bizarre armies filled with strange units at sweeping pace, and moreover have the writing skills to describe them in a thrilling manner. We both would like to see Oldhammer style Infernal Dwarves given a place of their own in the rich Ninth Age setting, and so we have gripped a crowbar to get one in on the map, in the hopes that T9A background developers picks up on it.
The basic concept is one of a tragic post-apocalyptic landscape in the heart of the Wasteland, and of a mountain range that has been all but forgotten it existed by other races than Dwarves. The historical basis is loosely that of Udmurts and the Chuvash people of the Urals, and of Russia in general, though truly Dwarven in possessing full plate armour and other technologies. I will let Uther describe the strangeness:
There have been Dwarves in the Khuralsh peaks for as long as anyone can remember. They were never renowned for their riches or their technological advancement. Instead they were renowned for their stubbornness and alcohol tolerance. Interestingly attributes valued equally or even slightly more than the others by Dwarves. Indeed it was said that only a Khuralshki dwarf would be drunk enough to start a starinrg contest with a statue. And only a Kuralshki Dwarf would be stubborn enough to win it!
As such it was no surprise to anyone that the infernal dwarves made no progress whatsoever in their attempts to move northward through the mountains. Implacable resistance met every attempt. In the end the Infernal Dwarves turned their attention to easier prey.
However all that was before catastrophe that led to the waste. The Infernal Dwarves disastrous meddling with infernal powers devastated the land around, creating the wasteland. Sadly that was not all. The magical energies infused the great roiling dust clouds that formed. Some of these settled on the wastelands. Fine dust particles coated the Khuralsh peaks. Indeed for years afterwards the winds would sweep across the wastelands. The air would climb the the Khuralsh slopes and deposit the dust in the regular rains that watered those high peaks.
The catastrophe and the devastation it caused cut links from the outside world to the Khuralshki dwarf holds. Indeed it was well over two centuries before traders began to tread the old roads into the Khuralsh mountains from the north. What they found shocked them.
When the dust had first started to fall the Khuralshki locked their holds and huddled safe inside. Trusting to the stone and tuned to protect them. They were right to. The infernal energies saturating the dust poisoned thousands of creatures, devastating the gains of the area. Over the following months much of the flora was affected too. The weaker annual plants just died. The hardier ones either failed to thrive or became twisted parodies of their former selves. Safe within their walls the Khuralshki ran down their stores and waited.
Eventually the dust clouds passed and life began to return to a semblance of normal. Still many of the weaker plants would not grow, or grew and died rapidly. Animals from the northern peaks and eastern slopes repopulated the area. The Khuralshki emerged unscathed. At first. Dwarves are a resistant race, but they are long lived. Over the long years that followed the Khuralshki could not avoid the poisons that had sunk into the earth, entered the water and built up in the tissues of the animals of the Khuralsh. Even their precious ‘water of life’ (the terrifyingly strong liquor the drank from childhood) was affected. A less hardy race would have perished. A less stubborn race, left. The Khuralshki did neither. But they did change. Confidence became arrogance. Grudges became hatreds. Independence became rebellion. The great holds were riven first by factions, then by war. Kingdoms split into territories of rival warlords. What had been a disdain for other races became a disregard. The focus of their culture became war and violence. Age was no longer revered, just strength, and alcohol tolerance of course (they were still Khuralshki after all).
Their technological advance halted as civilised society collapsed. Then the mutations began to be noticed. At first small changes, often hidden by parents. Sometimes the child was killed or abandoned in the wilds. Some changes were merely cosmetic. Others not compatible with life. Others were useful! Khuralshki arose who could master magic. Others with abnormal strength, or speed or healing. But always with the mutation came lust for power.
The collapse of order amongst the Khuralshki should have made them weak. It should have left them ripe for conquest by their infernal brethren. Easily beaten or co opted to their cause. Such ran the arguments in Zalaman Tekash. Such was the logic that drove the invasion. Their organisation, their technology, their power would crush the opposition they told their legions. Unfortunately they failed to tell the Khuralshki.
Unlike their southerly cousins the Khuralshki did not seek infernal power. They gloried neither in its evil nor the effects it wrought upon them. The hate that seeped into their souls they directed outwards in all directions, elf, man, greenskins or dwarf, it made no difference. Yet a special hatred was reserved for the architects of their downfall. The Infernal Dwarves would find no allies in the Khuralsh mountains. True, they abandoned their old gods, much as they themselves had been abandoned. Yet though their new deities gloried in warfare and bloodshed they were Khuralshki to their core. They would bow to no other. They sought not just the destruction of their traditional enemies. They sought the destruction of all powers and dominions, divine or infernal. All must be brought to glorious ruin. An eternal hate (and alcohol) fuelled storm of violence. A beautiful combat where only the strongest of will would dominate. Where the Kuralshki would stride through the chaos, masters of the revels. It was into this culture the infernal dwarfs marched so confidently.
The catastrophe that created the wasteland virtually cut off the Khuralsh mountains. As the world reeled from the disaster the Khuralshki Dwarves were forgotten. Indeed the younger races even began to leave the mountains off their maps. Soon only the Dwarves remembered their kin (there were grudges to settle after all). Even their cousins did not think the Khuralshki could survive. Surrounded by the wasteland. Assailed by daemons. Cut off by the followers of the Dark Gods. Surely they could not survive. Surely even the Khuralshki would have to leave their homeland or perish. When no Khuralshki came out the worst was assumed. But as Wartrob Iron Tooth (the legendary Orc big boss) once remarked after a failed Waaaargh against the Khuralshki: “Dem stunties is too stoopid to no wen dey is ded.”
The Khuralshki did not flee. They did not die. But they did change.
The fate of the Khuralshki was unknown until fairly recently. Traders seeking a northerly route to the east (avoiding the Infernal Dwarves) came across the northernmost Khuralsh peaks. These seemed to be spared from the devastation of the wasteland to the South. Explorers began entering them to see if the could provide a route south and east into Augea. Few came out. Those that did spike of the change wrought in the Khuralski and shivered at the thought of a return. This was no safe route to Augea and Tsuandan.
Thus it was that their infernal cousins learned of the Khuralskis' survival. Surely theses Dwarves could be cajoled or forced to join the empire. A bastion of Infernal Dwarves in the Khuralsh could make the Wasteland passable. The lure of access to the sea of storms and the possibilities that it raised were tempting.
The plan was long in formenting. Access through various Ogre Khans' territory needed to be negotiated. Favours offered, bribes paid. Similarly deals were struck with various warlords sworn to the Dark Gods. This did not prevent all skirmishing or indeed Daemon assaults. Yet it was enough to allow the army access across the narrow stretch of Wasteland and the relative sanctuary of the lower Khuralsh slopes.
Their first objective reached, the Infernal force paused. Earthwork fortresses were constructed. Their Daemonic machines repaired and stores established. All the while the higher peaks overlooked them in inscrutable silence.
To be continued.
Couple more thoughts on Khuralski sorcerers:
They Khuralshki refused the daemon binding route taken by the ID. Instead they chose a different route. The Sorcerors developed tunic collars, placed round a slaves neck they provided control. The simplest constrict on a command word and are made by the acolytes to control and train the great bears, trolls and skin wolves. The more complex made by the Soulbinder sorcerors are linked to golden runic bracelets. These allow construction but also a degree of direct control telepathically. These are used for the ogres and captured sorcerors of the dark gods. This enables Khuralshki Soulbinder sorcerors to wield great power and avoid the sorcerors curse. Of course only lesser sorcerors can be so controlled and only one per Khuralski lord. Death of the lord frees the bound souls but they are too damaged by the trauma and are driven mad lashing out at friend or foe or just sitting stuporose.
What do you think?
Please share your thoughts, ideas and criticism for this corrupted Dwarf proposal! We'd love to hear it.
I have neither time nor intention of turning this into a Homebrew army book, though others are of course more than welcome to do so!
And now, get thinkin', and get thinkin' in weird ways...
Dwarven Holds of the Maidens (T9A Celts)
Dwarven Holds of the Crimson Peaks (T9A Celtiberians)
Nekoshim: Dwarven Holds of the Copper Mountains (T9A Nabateans)
Dwarven Holds of the Sky Foothills (T9A Akha)
Dwarven Holds of Aseadal Peaks (T9A Gaya Confederacy)
Dwarven Holds of the Wrathful Mountains (T9A Inca)
Lost Islander Dwarves (T9A Rapa Nui)
Karuits: Polar Dwarves of Remotest Silexia (T9A Inuits)
Cave Dwarves of the Mountains of Gold (T9A Prehistorical)
Infernal Dwarves of the Torture Valleys (T9A Moche)
Infernal Dwarves of the Barren Mountains (T9A Hittites)
Borean Elves (T9A Finno-Ugrians)
Saurian Ancients of Aotarakoa (T9A Indonesia)
The post was edited 1 time, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().
But I will have to disappoint you about the location. The inner parts of the Wasteland are just too "toxic". That does not exclude the possibility the area has undulating low lying hills which could have been inhabited by the Dwarves in the past, but these dwarves if they have left any descendants would have relocated somewhere else. Carrying on their culture and traditions elsewhere
@Giladis: Roger that, we can move them east or somesuch. Updates to come.
On a worldbuilding note, I'd advice to not build big true deadzones into the setting. Dangerous, yes, but you do not truly want large completely uninhabitable swathes of land when building a fantasy smörgåsbord crammed with people and armies and weird things. There is more scope left for adventure wherever there is life instead of just sterile certain death everywhere, and so you'd want the heart of the Wasteland to have very weirdly mutated creatures and husks possessed by Daemons and so on (in an insane and insanely perilous landscape). And though shunned by actual tribes, there should still be reason for powerhungry maniac warlords and so on to strike boldly into the toxic heart of the Wasteland, with horrible consequences for their followers. And perhaps even for twisted descendants of such expeditions to linger on in mutant packs. Perhaps this is already built into T9A as of presently, but just in case not: Avoid throwing large parts of the map to the narrative wastebin of truly no-go-for-the-living. The more life, the more killing. The more places, the more stories.
The post was edited 3 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().
I don't think we have made any place a mortal cannot enter, the question is just how long can they endure at a particular location.
Also it should not be taken places are uninhabited just because there are no Mortals there (capital M is for a reason).
Lackeys to the aforementioned Barren Mountains fantasy Hittite Infernal Dwarf proposal. Cimmerian Hobgoblins:
My colleague tjub asked for Hobgoblins to go along with the Infernal Dwarves of the Barren Mountains, so here goes a remnant of fantasy Cimmerians, with cues taken from the Andronovo and Koban archaeological cultures, settled in the fantasy equivalent of the steppe inlands of Anatolia (which attracted Turkic nomads following the battle for Manzikert):
The steppes of Vetia and Augea are nowadays largely dominated by Makhar Humans and Ogre tribes, with Hobgoblins being a persistent but minor part of this volatile, shifting landscape. It was not always such. The very first true lords of the steppes were Hobgoblins, for it was they who first mastered mounted combat and spread terror far and wide with their wolf chariots and riders. The Fourth Age, that ruinous age of iron and barbarity, saw Orcs and Goblins rise like a savage tide in Vetia, and their Hobgoblin cousins were likewise ascendant on the vast steppes in the inlands of Vetia and Augea. Later on, the Hobgoblins were overshadowed by Ogres and Humans, but the Fourth Age were their absolute peak of dominance on the steppes. Yet Hobgoblin ascendancy predates this age, for the very first hordes of mounted steppe nomads appeared during the late Third Age, when their chariots and later wolf riders struck terror into western Augea and pillaged far afield. The warlike exploits of these most ancient of Hobgoblin tribes were the subject of alarm and fear during their heyday, and echoes of this chaos and scare still lives on in scattered legends and surviving writings, in the shape of odd tribal names and short descriptions of war and fabulously unlikely conquest of cities by cunning Hobgoblins armed with bronze weapons.
While the original tribal confederacies that ravaged the late Third Age are long gone, leftovers from this initial age of greatness still lingers in the steppe-like inland of Minor Augea, for here the Kundrocerian Hobgoblins roam the small steppe, serving as vassals to the Infernal Dwarves of the Barren Mountains and clashing with local enemies such as Vermin Swarms, Orcs and Goblins, as well as Avrasian and Chiomarean Humans.
The many varied landscapes of Minor Augea are home to several archaic remnants from earlier ages, who have managed to preserve much of their ancient way of life and war. The Kundrocerians are the most archaic, and their tribes are still alive and kicking as ruthless slavers, raiders and ambushers; an echo of great invasions during bygone ages of ruin, still sporting wolf chariots and ravenous riders with devious cunning in their quivers and cruelty in their eyes.
Please share your thoughts, criticism and ideas on this Hobgoblin sidekick proposal for the fantasy Hittite Infernal Dwarves of the Barren Mountains.
There was once an Infernal Dwarf captain serving aboard an ironclad warship. He was a cruel soul hungering for the chance to domineer and crush others underhoof. He was also known for his tenacity, and many believed that he would let nothing stop him once he had put his mind to the task.
One day, the lookout of this Infernal Dwarf's ironclad caught sight of one of our stone ships, flying the banners of Kegiz Gavem in broad daylight. The captain of the steel ship was gripped by a desire to board or sink this enemy vessel, and so he roared out orders on deck and set to the task of sea warfare with vomiting smokestacks. Paddle wheels steamed him closer, swinging in for a broadside, and he ordered his crew to open up with artillery fire.
Yet the Infernal Dwarf had the worst of this duel, and our barrage worsted him. And so he roared out orders to board us. Paddle wheels steamed him closer, and grappling hooks gripped our stout railing. And he ordered his crew to assault us.
Yet the Infernal Dwarf had the worst of this combat, and our warriors worsted him. And so he roared out orders to disengage and ram us instead. Paddle wheels backed water for him, and then steamed him onward at full speed. And he ordered his crew to brace for impact.
Yet the Infernal Dwarf had the worst of this ramming action, and our rock hull worsted him so badly that his metal hull creaked and ripped open as rivets popped. And the whole ironclad sank with all hands, except for the Infernal Dwarf captain.
And so he swam toward us, and our merciful warriors produced a rope-ladder for him to climb and thus save his life if he swore to surrender to the victors of naval battle.
Yet the enraged Infernal Dwarf captain refused this offer, and instead started to crash his horned head against our carved stone hull like a mad bull, throwing himself against floating rock again and again until his horns broke and his skull cracked and his brains burst. And so we left the Infernal Dwarf's corpse dishonourably for the sharks to devour. For stubbornness is a virtue, but stupidity is a sin.
- The Infernal Dwarf Captain and the Stone Ship, by Karhemaq Telltongue, mutilated war veteran and author of fables in Kegiz Gavem
Artwork by DracarysDrekkar7, being a fantasy Hittite Infernal Dwarf of the Barren Mountains concept for the Ninth Age. This artist has a deft hand at illustrating fantasy, capturing both an impression of rugged life and craft refinement in fine detail. Check out the wild eyes and strong hands!
And do check out his Deviantart gallery and leave him a comment!
You are doing amazing work @Karak Norn Clansman! Can you send me a list of artists that have so far agreed to allow their artwork be used for T9A?
Thank you kindly, @Giladis!
A new thread has been created on Chaos Dwarfs online by Parish, concerning the question if Chaos Dwarfs in WHFB have Slayers. This is a great point where the infernal ones differ from uncorrupted Dwarfs in Warhammer. In case of inspirational interest, here's my reply to it:
Certainly not. Backgroundwise, the Infernal Guard fill the niche that Slayers would have occupied. Infernal Guards are shamed outcasts locked in iron to serve their masters, denied the release of death that free Dwarfs could have attained as Slayers. Chaos Dwarfs are slaves to their overlords, and their masters want lasting resources (thus heavily armoured), not naked freemen throwing away themselves at enemy lines.
Free Dwarfs may take the Slayer Oath when oaths are broken and their stout minds break down. Unfree Chaos Dwarfs may only serve their masters as vassals and slaves, and shoulder their inner pain for the sake of unflinching hierarchy and dark empire.
No free will. No personal release from searing shame. No individual rights trumping the decrees of their superiors.
Only duty and sacrifice.
All for Hashut!
Infernal Guards by Ravenswood.
But there sure are lots of potential for Chaos Dwarf berzerkers of all different kinds, even if they aren't Slayers by a long shot!
In T9A, enter the Disciples of Lughar. Daemonically possessed fanatic berzerkers on fire. Here reverse-engineered into WHFB K'daai Cultist by Helblindi:
The post was edited 3 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().
It would be nice. I'm currently using old Chaos dwarf icons