The Imperial Almanack [Updated 28/01/14]

This is a dark age, a bloody age, an age of daemons and of sorcery.

The Imperial Almanack [Updated 28/01/14]

Postby Athelassan » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:19 pm

A while ago, on the old board, I mentioned my intention to create what I tentatively called "The Imperial Almanack", an insanely ambitious project that aimed to cover large tranches of information about the Empire, both collated from existing GW sources, pinched from respected "fanon" locations and made up by me. The goal, in short, was to create nothing more or less than a comprehensive bible of everything Empire.

My original intention was to release this when complete, but in the interests of getting something out before I or any other forumites expire from old age, I've got a couple of snippets I'll post periodically to give an idea of the sort of thing I'm doing.

Today, I offer you a selection of schools of thought among the faithful of Sigmar. All feedback welcome!

Ath

Schools of Theology in the Church of Sigmar

Dawism

“Sigmar Himself only knows why His cult goes to such lengths to ape the customs and beliefs of a people who don’t even accept His divinity”
- Mikael Hasselstein


Originally a provincial movement in the eastern provinces of Averland, Solland and Wissenland, Dawism holds that the Dwarfs - as the oldest allies of Sigmar and sponsors of His Empire – were the model for civilisation and society that the cult should promote. Although sporadically in vogue since the time of Sigmar, the movement gained rapidly in popularity throughout the Sylvanian Wars of the 21st and 22nd centuries as the apparent degeneracy of the Empire was contrasted with the steadfastness of the Dwarfs, who regularly contributed troops to fight alongside Imperial soldiers. The Dawist movement finally attained support at the highest level with the accession of Magnus the Pious in 2304 and was accepted into mainstream Sigmarite doctrine.

Early Dawists grew long hair and beards in imitation of the culture they wished to reflect, but these were gradually phased out in favour of the Markist shaven head when the cult was accepted into the mainstream. The tradition of the Arch-Lectors and Grand Theogonist taking Dwarf names on their accession was first developed in the 5th century and has remained almost unbroken since the time of Magnus. In its more extreme forms, in Averland in particular, the movement encourages a form of ancestor veneration, almost worship, like their Dwarven counterparts, and the sect as a whole is a firm supporter of tradition in all areas of life.


Hussites

“It seems we are expected to take as our ruler any pretty-boy country bumpkin who picks up a hammer”
- Mornan Tybalt

“I bow to the will of the elected Emperor, not to Sigmar, nor his church, and certainly not to rogue Sigmarite priests.”
- Boris Todbringer

“The Hussites represent a greater and more immediate threat to the fabric of the Empire than Archaon himself.”
- Arch-Lector Esmer


Not a unified belief structure as such, although it may in time become one, the Hussite movement is simply a convenient term to bracket the followers of the radical preacher and self-styled prophet Luthor Huss. Huss began his career as a promising priest of Sigmar in the Order of the Hammer and soon gained a reputation for his martial ability and inspirational speechmaking. His star rose rapidly within the church of Sigmar and there was talk at one point of appointing him Lector. However, Huss’s lack of political acumen let him down and his insistence that the church should preoccupy itself with military matters, rather than devoting time to political or social goals, rapidly made him unpopular within the higher echelons of the church.

When Huss encountered the young blacksmith Valten, who had become a local hero for fighting off a band of beasts and saving his village temple, he became convinced that Valten was in fact Sigmar reborn, and devoted his life to sponsoring his career. Gathering followers around him, Huss marched on Altdorf to insist that the Emperor abdicate in Valten’s favour. The Emperor adeptly defused the crisis, but Huss had nevertheless scored a moral victory over the established order of the church. Following Valten’s death during the siege of Middenheim, Huss was initially taken aback, but has since devoted himself to searching down the next incarnation of Sigmar.

The Hussites have little support from the church of Sigmar as a whole, and the church has on occasion come close to outright condemnation of Huss and his followers. Nevertheless, they remain popular with much of the common rural population who believe their lot would improve with Sigmar’s return.


Transhumanists

“Sotek descended from the heavens and the twin-tailed comet was his sign. With fire and venom the ancient Lord of Snakes drove out the ratmen and sanctified the city”
- Book of Sotek, vol. 4

“Oh, humans and their quaint beliefs”
- Archmage Finreir


Transhumanism holds that Sigmar was fully mortal until the end of His earthly rule, at which point He ascended to the heavens and became divine. The most militant Transhumanists hold that Sigmar, moreover, is the only mortal ever to accomplish this, thus making Him both unique and the natural and correct god for all humans. This is the counterpart to the Divinist school, which maintains that Sigmar was always a god throughout His earthly sojourn.
The Transhumanist position is arguably the oldest of Sigmarite philosophies. Although few written records are left from the period, it seems this was the favoured position of Johann Helstrum, and by the end of the second century it was well entrenched. It is still officially endorsed by the church of Sigmar.


Divinism

“Why would Sigmar’s birth have been marked by a comet if not as a sign of divine grace? How could a mortal man have accomplished what Sigmar did? Sigmar has always been a God, and we are blessed that He chose to favour us with his presence.”
- Archlector Helmgar


Divinism holds that Sigmar was a divine entity even before His mortal birth and rule over the Empire. His disappearance at the end of His reign represented a return to the heavens that He had always previously inhabited. Divinists claim that Sigmar’s persistent divinity explains many of the incredible feats attributed to Him, in addition to His extremely long and virile rule in comparison to His human contemporaries and successors.

Some devoted adherents of the Divinist philosophy have sought out evidence of Sigmarite clues in older mythologies and records in an attempt to demonstrate that He had always been present in the world pantheon. The most extreme of these were the Serpentists, who traced similarities between the Lustrian god Sotek (attested in some ancient elven legends) and Sigmar – principally the recurrent use of the twin-tailed comet motif. The Serpentist movement was condemned as heretical in 2361.

More moderate forms of Divinism are tolerated by the church of Sigmar but not enthusiastically embraced. The most common objection to it is that, by interpreting Sigmar as an eternal and universal God, humankind, and the Empire in particular, loses its unique position of divine favour.


The Averheim Sect

“If this was a God, we have killed it”
- Heinrich Todbringer, 1560


The Averheim Sect originated during the era of the Averland Emperors in the 6th century as a largely academic and niche group who contended that not only was Sigmar divine, but His creation - the Empire - was therefore also divine. They argued for retention of original Sigmarite principle, but further contended that it was human duty to perfect the structures of the Empire where possible. The Sect was an enthusiastic supporter of the reforms of Siefried Lawgiver, but its arguments drifted from public view during the 7th century, sustained only in universities and the private musings of scholars.

The sect was revived in the 12th century during the Black Plague and was considered an adjunct to the popular Catastrophist movement of the day, maintaining that the events of the Plague were a punishment for the disrespect displayed towards the Imperial deity. New “Averheim Sects” continued to rear their heads during the Age of Three Emperors and some version of the sect has been almost a permanent fixture since the reunification of the Empire. The modern Sect bears little resemblance to its progenitor, and the school has become renowned for its stubborn opposition to even the most obviously necessary of reforms, with no good reason to take that view save tradition.

The Averheim Sect is acknowledged by the church of Sigmar but its beliefs have never been adopted as the church’s official position and it is not belived any Grand Theogonists have ever been adherents.


Flagellant Movements

“Madmen and nithings and rogues and fanatics...”
-Kristoff von Bildhofen


Some form of Flagellantism dates back to the very earliest days of the Empire, and flagellants are reported to have fought at the Battle of the River Reik alongside Sigmar Himself. Most forms are not so much manifestations of any particular belief but more the product of personal despair brought about by disaster and fuelled by religious fanaticism and a violent self-destructive urge.

Periodically, identifiable sects of flagellants will emerge, often cohering around an inspirational leader and usually disbanding with his death. The earliest known are the Catastrophists of the 12th century, who, believed that the events of the Black Plague were a punishment for the moral failures of the pre-Catastrophist Empire and that only through self-denial and punishment could order be restored. They persisted under a number of leaders until the early 1200s before they were extirpated.

The Cataclysmists of the 21st century are best known for their presence in Ostermark, maintaining that the comet which laid waste to the province in 1999 was a divine judgement on the Empire as a whole and that it was their duty to scourge the province clean. A particularly dangerous sect, they disappeared during the Sylvanian invasion a few years later.

The largest group of modern flagellants belong to the broad-brush End Times cult, which holds that these are the last days of men and the oncoming Storm of Chaos will lay the world waste. A huge army of these fanatics gathered to support the preacher Huss and his protégé Valten in 2522 and, despite suffering very heavy casualties during the Battle of Sokh, dispersed into Middenland to continue spreading their message of doom.

Although flagellants are ferocious fighters and therefore valued by some commanders, they are also unreliable and demoralising to both the civilian population and the professional military. During times of great need, when their services are appreciated, they can gain in credit with the higher echelons of Imperial society and the Sigmarite church, but during peacetime they tend to be regarded as a nuisance and embarrassment, and quiet campaigns of “subdual” to eliminate unwanted flagellants are not unheard of.


Literalism

“A testament to the blind hypocrisy of the human spirit”
- Arch-Lector Kaslain


“Gods would have to move in mysterious ways indeed for this to make any sense.”
- Baron Frederik von Krieglitz-Untermensch


The Literalist movement holds that every word printed in the doctrinal texts of Sigmar and histories of His life is literally true and that it is the duty of all good Sigmarites to obey them as far as possible even when contradictory. Over the years the church has produced a vast quantity of literature, but the Literalist canon generally includes The Book of Sigmar, The Saga of Sigmar, The Book of Helstrum, and the collected writings of Sigmarite priests in the first century, most of which appear in The Book of Bogenhafen.

The Literalist movement is something of an embarrassment to the church as a whole, especially since much of the scripture that the Literalists take as canonical has been disavowed by the church and is no longer included in clerical doctrine. However, the church cannot condemn the movement for the straightforward reason that it cannot be seen to have produced anything that is untrue. It is notoriously difficult to persuade a Sigmarite cleric to go into detail about which texts are to be considered “official”, but most will take the line, if pressed, that much of scripture is allegory, example or parable, and not to be considered a factual representation to the exclusion of reason.


Panhumanism

“You can’t sail, you can’t joust, and you can’t sing. Is there anything of use that Sigmar did teach you?”
- Admiral LeFevre


A militant group of Literalists, the Panhumanists take as their primary doctrine the verse from the Book of Sigmar in which Ar-Ulric is said to have crowned Sigmar “Emperor of all the realms of men”. On this basis they persistently argue that the church should be pressing to extend its scope, and the bounds of the Empire, outside its current borders until all men are under its dominion. The closest the cult came to mainstream acceptance was during the Age of Expansion from the 6th century onwards, when, during wars of conquest in Bretonnia, modern Kislev, the Border Princes and the crusade against the Norse settlers in Westerland, the Empire subjugated many neighbouring peoples and began the process of converting them to Sigmarism. Following the collapse of the marcher provinces and the loss of Kislev, the Panhumanists lost much of their support, but adherents persist within the modern church.

The Panhumanists maintain a particular grievance against Bretonnia, with sympathisers having previously described it as a “kingdom of traitors”, never prepared to forgive them for the perceived betrayal of Sigmar and refusal to join His confederacy before Black Fire Pass. In turn, rulers of Bretonnia have little sympathy for the Panhumanist movement, and, although Sigmarite priests are tentatively permitted to travel and preach within the kingdom’s borders, a priest who voices Panhumanist views is lucky to escape the kingdom with their life.
The movement is not endorsed by the church of Sigmar although neither it has ever been condemned outright. A number of Panhumanist priests travelled to the court of Count Marius of Averland, thinking he might be a supporter, in the furore surrounding the Wastrel’s War of 2512, but were quickly expelled. Few temporal rulers in the Empire, even the most xenophobic, have any patience for the movement, perhaps because it is considered too politically volatile.

Markism

Named for the fourth-century Grand Theogonist Markus II, who in turn took his name regnant from Sigmar’s loyal Count and ally, the Markists have been the predominant faction in the church of Sigmar since before the reign of Sigismund II. From the fourteenth century onwards the Markist teachings became so wholeheartedly adopted into the Sigmarite movement that the terms “Sigmarite” and “Markist” have become all but synonymous.

The primary Markist doctrines are:
• While it is the duty of all good Sigmarites to spread His word, the primary concern of the church of Sigmar should be with the Empire.
• The work of Sigmar cannot be accomplished solely through good works at home. The church must go to war to defend His creation.
• Nor can the work of Sigmar be accomplished solely on the battlefield. The church must ensure the society of the Empire is worthy of Sigmar’s legacy.
• Respect priests of other Imperial churches where their views are not heretical.

It is on the last of these points that the most common divergences from Markism are seen. The teachings of the early Markists were of tolerance, maintaining that co-operation and not conflict with the cults of Ulric and Taal and Rhya, which were at that point dominant religious forces within the Empire, was the route to success. Modern priests, however, are frequently keen to seize on the caveat of “heretical views” to justify their condemnation of rival cults.

Much of the modern iconography of the cult also has its origin with the Markist movement, including the Imperial Cross, the sign of the twin-tailed comet made with the fingers, and the recommendation –contrary to popular belief, not requirement- for priests, especially of the Order of the Hammer, to maintain a shaven head and chin.
Last edited by Athelassan on Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:03 am

Oh this is good, and exciting and interesting.

Any reason why the Valten aspect to the Hussites was kept in light of the glossing over of swathes of SoC (does Valten actually exist anymore?). I mean a populist anti-political peasant based movement disowning the increasingly distant Lectors makes sense would it fit if the Sigmar reborn element was taken out as a movement (albeit a smaller one) or is Huss and his views inconsequential without Valten being about?

Presuming it was the Dawists whom enforced the more rigorous use of Dwarfish as the script to be used for religious texts and the like (origins obviously being that the Dwarfs had a more advanced written language and Reikspiel originated from it anyways) is there scope for other religious languages (variations on Reikspiel or something else) in any of these sects?
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Xisor » Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:51 am

Can the Dawists be referred to as the Dawi-kins and reviled as being counter-productive to the perception of their agenda in modern culture? (Also for being surprisingly sexist?)

(Also can they have a cool dance-remix to the tune of "Here in the countryside we believe the dwarfs are interesting. And if you don't agree you can f*** off!")

(I have to say that, broadly, I love this. Perfectly intriguing.)
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Erunanion » Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:32 pm

Exceptional work, Ath. I am something of a stranger to the deeper lore of WHF, so I'm loving all of this.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Gaius Marius » Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:07 pm

One of the Hussites should be a blind guy. Just saying 8-)

Also, awesome stuff Ath. Nobody hammers together the setting's background quite like you.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Athelassan » Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:09 pm

schaferwhat‽ wrote:Presuming it was the Dawists whom enforced the more rigorous use of Dwarfish as the script to be used for religious texts and the like (origins obviously being that the Dwarfs had a more advanced written language and Reikspiel originated from it anyways) is there scope for other religious languages (variations on Reikspiel or something else) in any of these sects?

That hadn't really occurred to me, which I guess is why it's a good idea to put these things up for review. I think it's likely that Reikspiel evolved largely independently of Khazalid as a language, even if the written script was later adapted from theirs. The Dwarfs are a pretty secretive people, especially where their language is concerned. As such the logical liturgical language for Sigmarites would be Old Reikspiel, although the Dawists might well promote increased use of Khazalid because, well, what's logic got to do with anything?
Any reason why the Valten aspect to the Hussites was kept in light of the glossing over of swathes of SoC (does Valten actually exist anymore?). I mean a populist anti-political peasant based movement disowning the increasingly distant Lectors makes sense would it fit if the Sigmar reborn element was taken out as a movement (albeit a smaller one) or is Huss and his views inconsequential without Valten being about?

Although I wasn't that taken with Valten as a character, I thought the brutal way he was dealt with at the end of the SoC was quite good. I do quite like the idea, I admit, that Huss was just wrong, that Valten was just a talented warrior who became a figurehead for a fanatic movement, and not the reincarnation of Sigmar or any of that nonsense. To be honest, though, whatever the canonical basis of the SoC these days, it's almost impossible to get away from. There was so much published on it and so much of the really qualitative modern WHF background is rooted in a post-SoC world (notably all the WFRP2 material) that ignoring it would seem to be a crime. My intention is to make the Almanack as up-to-date as possible, and that includes the events of the Sword of Thingy novels as well as the SoC.

I believe the Valten model is still available, in any case, and his story is included in that of Luthor Huss in the latest Empire army book, so he seems to retain a degree of official endorsment.

Can the Dawists be referred to as the Dawi-kins and reviled as being counter-productive to the perception of their agenda in modern culture? (Also for being surprisingly sexist?)

One of the Hussites should be a blind guy. Just saying 8-)

Why do I get the feeling that there are references here I'm missing?

Thanks for all the positive feedback.

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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Gaius Marius » Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:14 pm

Mine was that one of the historical Hussites was Jann Zizka, an absolutely bad ass general who defeated several crusades whilst lacking eyes.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Xisor » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:29 am

Dawi-kins. Dawkins."There is considerable controversy in the blogosphere about Richard Dawkins and his apparent views on women."

Otherwise, when can we read more? Did I say 'more'? I meant: MOAR!
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:35 am

Athelassan wrote:
schaferwhat‽ wrote:Presuming it was the Dawists whom enforced the more rigorous use of Dwarfish as the script to be used for religious texts and the like (origins obviously being that the Dwarfs had a more advanced written language and Reikspiel originated from it anyways) is there scope for other religious languages (variations on Reikspiel or something else) in any of these sects?

That hadn't really occurred to me, which I guess is why it's a good idea to put these things up for review. I think it's likely that Reikspiel evolved largely independently of Khazalid as a language, even if the written script was later adapted from theirs. The Dwarfs are a pretty secretive people, especially where their language is concerned. As such the logical liturgical language for Sigmarites would be Old Reikspiel, although the Dawists might well promote increased use of Khazalid because, well, what's logic got to do with anything?


Oh I meant Written word wise when I was on aboud Khazalid origins (in my head this is probably more to do with Dwarfish bookeeping, when Sigmar started the good times between man and dwarf which fostered trade the dwarfs would undoubtedly want to write down receipts, contracts, debts and the like and exchange them with the humans when they do business. It is important because 1) Humans can't be trusted like a dwarf for a verbal contract and 2)Humans don't live very long so your debts may need to be with someone who wasn't born at the time of the contract.) I'm sure I've read that the oldest records and texts in the Empire are in Khazalid though and that some priests of Sigmar know the language (at least to read and write, their accents probably are terrible) which is why I brought this up, could be wrong mind.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Xisor » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:44 am

schaferwhat‽ wrote:Oh I meant Written word wise when I was on aboud Khazalid origins (in my head this is probably more to do with Dwarfish bookeeping, when Sigmar started the good times between man and dwarf which fostered trade the dwarfs would undoubtedly want to write down receipts, contracts, debts and the like and exchange them with the humans when they do business. It is important because 1) Humans can't be trusted like a dwarf for a verbal contract and 2)Humans don't live very long so your debts may need to be with someone who wasn't born at the time of the contract.) I'm sure I've read that the oldest records and texts in the Empire are in Khazalid though and that some priests of Sigmar know the language (at least to read and write, their accents probably are terrible) which is why I brought this up, could be wrong mind.


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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby LordLucan » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:55 am

Finally Ath! Once again, as on the old forum, I must commend you for your stupendous and ambitious undertaking. As interesting and strangely plausible a rendiiton of Empire history as your other works. Good show! :D
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Athelassan » Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:01 pm

More! This section is perhaps half-done (there is one particularly noteworthy omission). I present the Knightly Orders of the Empire. Again, I'm planning to detail all of them, including a few of my own invention (there are a couple in the following). C&C welcome as always.

Ath


The Order of the Black Bear

A number of commentators have described the Order of the Black Bear as less a knightly order and more a formalised drinking society, and certainly the order is equally renowned for its destruction of taverns as for its prowess on the battlefield. The truth behind the order's foundation is unknown, but legend has it that it was founded after the first grand master defeated a bear in unarmed combat to rescue a noble lady. The order requires therefore that each incoming grand master wrestle a bear as part of the opening of the order's many tournaments.

The order are a stalwart, if unruly, component of the Empire's eastern defence, and are well-known in Averland, where their chapter house is located.

The order wear steel armour and black and gold barding. The order's heraldry is a black Imperial cross on a red and yellow field.


The Order of the Blazing Sun

One of the most prestigious orders in the Empire, the Knights of the Blazing Sun are templars of Myrmidia, although their behaviour has more in common in some respects with secular orders. The story of the orders' foundation is legendary: during a battle with the forces of Wazir the Cruel in Estalia in 1457, a group of crusaders were facing certain defeat when divine intervention of Myrmidia caused the Emir to be crushed, turning the tide of battle. Upon their return to the Empire, the knights dedicated themselves to fighting the forces of darkness wherever it was discovered, and serving as ambassadors for the church of Myrmidia.

The knights generally function independently of one another, travelling as individuals and offering their services as champions wherever they are needed, but when fighting in formation they are one of the most feared orders in the Empire. The order has served with distinction in innumerable campaigns, including most notably the Battle of Grunberg, the Battle of Grovod Wood and the Battle of Norduin. Although the foreign nature of the order's worship still leads to suspicion among the most conservative Imperial commanders, none can dispute its martial prowess, and it has been said that a single knight of the order does more good for the image of its cult than all the priests in the Empire.

The full numbers of the order are unknown, but they are one of the most widespread and almost certainly one of the most numerous orders in the Empire. Since the reign of Magnus the Pious, the order has sent representatives to Tilea and Bretonnia in efforts to extend its influence. Some have seen in this the political ambitions of the Eagle of the North, the religious head of the order, and a corresponding challenge to the traditional power base of the church in the south, although relations with the Myrmidian church as a whole remain good.

The order's appearance varies from knight to knight, but all wear the heraldry of the golden sun on black background. Knights wear gold armour or black armour edged in gold, with black and gold or yellow barding.


The Order of the Black Rose (I)

One of two prestigious orders to bear the same name, the first Order of the Black Rose forms the personal bodyguard of the Duke of Talabecland. The order is first attested in records from the 7th century but might be considerably older, and it is one of the most heavily ritualised secular orders in the Empire. Numbers are restricted to one hundred knights at all times, emphasising the order's elite nature, although also making it one of the smallest orders in the Empire.

The order was one of the first to use full plate armour, at a time when most knightly orders in the Empire were still wearing suits constructed largely from chainmail, and the crushing charges executed by them turned the tide of many critical battles, earning them a formidable reputation. Their most notable victory was probably at the Battle of the Talabec in 1360 which secured the independence of Talabecland.

The order's small size has prohibited it from becoming as ubiquitous and politically powerful as some, but it remains the stuff of legend, and a powerful presence at court in Talabheim.

The order wear burnished steel armour including a full-face mask, with heavily decorated barding embellished with stylised black roses. Although the order are proficient in the use of the lance, their favoured weapon is the mace.


The Order of the Black Rose (II)


The second Order of the Black Rose was formed during the Black Plague in Wissenland at a time when the Empire was at its lowest ebb. Communication with Talabecland had been lost and the destruction wrought was such that many towns believed they might be the last outpost of civilisation in the Empire. In Nuln, one of the few major cities to remain whole, the cult of Morr gained greatly in power and popularity, leading to the formation of a templar order. The similarity in name with the existing Talabecland order appears to have been a coincidence, and the orders are so different that rarely is any confusion caused.

The order fought with distinction in the campaigns of Emperor Mandred and relocated following the events of the Plague to a new chapterhouse at the small town of Eigenhof. The order has increased and diminished in size several times over the years, reaching its zenith in the late 1700s when the Counts of Wissenland sought to build up the armed forces in the province to compensate for the secession of Nuln and invested heavily in the Order of the Black Rose.

The order wears steel armour with stylised skull masks and black barding. Their heraldry is a black rose and green thorn on a red background.


The Brotherhood of the Axe

Prior to the unification of the Empire, it was common for each tribal king to maintain a bodyguard of select warriors, and these were later to develop into some of the earliest recognisable knightly orders. The Brotherhood of the Axe were the guards of the Teutognen kings since time immemorial, named for the heavy axes carried by the men and wielded with fearsome effect.

The Brotherhood fell into decline during the reign of Artur, who in his later years became increasingly paranoid about the risk of usurpation from powerful warriors or nobles of the tribe. Warriors who fell in battle were not replaced and by the time of unification the Brotherhood was a rump, comprised only of the most trusted lieutenants of the Teutognen king.

The order enjoyed a brief resurgence under the reigns of Myrsa and his sucessors following unification, but the pre-eminence of the White Wolves lured many promising young warriors to join their ranks rather than those of the Brotherhood. When Middenheim was granted its charter, the Brotherhood relocated to the Middenstag to remain the bodyguards of the senior ducal line. After reunification of Middenheim and Middenland, the Brotherhood returned to Middenheim and have remained there ever since.

The order remains largely a ceremonial one and now overlaps almost entirely with the White Wolves. The order was ravaged by the deaths of many of its members during the Storm of Chaos and the riots over the following year; its long-term future remains unclear.

The modern order bears no heraldry save for an icon of a double-headed axe, worn around the neck.


The Order of Eleven

Founded in the 1150s, this was a particularly esoteric order devised by Emperor Otto to try to maintain unity among the provinces. Each of the Electors was to contribute a champion to the order, which would serve as guards of the Emperor's palace and, Otto hoped, go on to perform an ambassadorial function.

The order became a joke when the majority of the Electors displayed their general disregard for Otto by sending knights they no longer needed rather than the cream of their warriors. A number of families, especially in Middenland, felt the sacred unity of the Empire had already been broken with the dissolution of the province of Drakwald and thus the eleven knights were a symbol of failure rather than of success.

The order was disbanded in the early 1200s and has never been renewed, although the idea of a “twelfth knight” who would serve to reunite the Empire has passed into popular legend.

The order bore the sign of a white eleven-pointed star on a green background.


The Order of the Griffon

Commonly known as the Knights Griffon, this order was founded by Magnus the Pious following the Great War Against Chaos to guard the Temple of Sigmar in Nuln, although the order sees itself as a defender of all temples of Sigmar and maintains small chapterhouses across the Empire for this purpose. The order accepts only the most martially proficient of applicants, although some commentators believe this condition is being increasingly relaxed in order to provide a greater pool of knights.

The order makes no secret of its aspiration to become the pre-eminent order of Sigmarite templars in the Empire, and this ambition has led to rivalry with both the Reiksguard – founded at the same time and who believe the Knights Griffon are infringing on their traditional role – and the Order of Sigmar's Blood, who fear that the increasing prosperity of the Knights Griffon will lead to a depreciation of their support among the church's hierarchy.

The order wear blue-steel armour and dark red or black barding. The order's heraldry is a gold griffon on black background, recalling their foundation by Magnus the Pious in Nuln.


The Order of the High Helms

The High Helms were founded by Emperor Karl-Franz II in 2512 as a supplementary order to guard the Imperial palace along with the Reiksguard, following the Wastrel's War and casualties sustained by the existing knightly orders in those battles. Recruited for their physical presence as much as any particular martial ability, the knights are all over six feet tall and wear helmets that add at least a foot to their already imposing height.

The High Helms have a burgeoning rivalry with the Reiksguard, who are jealous of the Emperor's patronage of the newer order, and disparage their ability in both thought and combat. A common joke among the Reiksguard is that the High Helms have only one brain between each four knights. The High Helms have never seen combat

The High Helms wear heavily burnished steel armour and helmets with high plumes in red and blue. The heraldry is a white Imperial cross on a blue field.


The Order of the Holy Snake

This was one of the many small orders which emerged during the Age of Three Emperors. Adherents of the Serpentine branch of the Divinist school of Sigmarism, the Order was based largely in the secessionist areas of Ostermark where the church of Sigmar had little penetration but Sigmar remained a popular deity among the population. They held the belief that Sigmar was the same god as the ancient elven god Sotek, and wore the image of the twin-tailed comet as a symbol of their unified faith.

The doctrine of Serpentism was declared heretical by the church of Sigmar at the Grand Conclave of 2361 and the order disbanded. Most of its members joined the Order of the Twin-Tailed Orb, although some left military life, a number joined the Knights Griffon, and one, Albrecht von Kursk, even became a renowned member of the Reiksguard.

The order wore burnished plate armour with edging of brass, weathered copper or green enamel and emblazoned with images of the twin-tailed comet.


The Order of Longshanks

An unusual order by modern standards, the Longshanks are templars of Taal, but maintain no known chapterhouses and fight as infantry rather than heavy cavalry. The order's knights pride themselves on their ability to flourish independently, and take to battle in small groups, wielding a variety of weapons. The order's main preoccupation, however, is protecting Taal's forests, and they are rarely seen on the open field. The Longshanks are the largest known order dedicated to Taal, but their numbers remain a mystery.

The Longshanks have no consistent heraldry, although animal pelts are a unifying feature. Knights tend to wear light armour although have been observed in chainmail.


The Order of the Prowling Wolf

Dedicated to the ancient god Lupos, this was a small order based in Hochland during the 6th century, founded to lead the armies of the province by example during the Drive to the Frontiers and in particular the conquest of the Middle Mountains and the Forest of Shadows.

The cult of Lupos had been largely absorbed into that of Ulric long before the order's foundation and in 611 the last remnants of the cult lost their independence. The order was folded into the White Wolves.

The order's heraldry is unknown.


The Reiksguard

Formed as the Reiklandguard during the Great War Against Chaos, the Reiklandguard formed the personal bodyguard of Karl von Holzkrug, who until the appearance of Magnus von Bildhofen had claimed the title of elected Emperor. As the order was formed in something of a crisis, no uniform heraldry was decided, and the order was known for its variegated appearance, as each suit of armour and heraldry tended to be one the bearer had worn prior to joining. Holzkrug was one of the earliest supporters of Magnus's crusade, and when he fell in battle before the Gates of Kislev the Reiklandguard transferred their formidable allegiance to Magnus, his successor to the throne of the Reikland and to the now-undisputed title of Emperor.

The Reiklandguard retained a ceremonial role as bodyguards to the new Emperor but were largely overlooked in the course of his reforms and foundings of new knightly orders. In particular they forged a fierce rivalry with the Knights Griffon, who also counted Magnus as a patron and were given the task of defending the Emperor's person. Following Magnus's death the presence of a highly-trained Reiklander order of knights in the household of the new Stirland Emperor was considered unwise, especially since Magnus's brother had been a rival for the crown. The Reiklandguard were dispatched to Altdorf and thence to Castle Reikguard and seemed set to remain there as another small provincial order.

However, following the accession of Emperor Wilhelm II he set about re-founding the order, and they re-emerged under his rule as the Reiksguard. Wilhelm altered the conditions of entry so that only the eldest sons of nobility could join, and enforced the highest standards of training, such that many would now consider the Reiksguard the pre-eminent fighting order in the land. The Reiksguard now constitute the formal bodyguard of the Emperor and serve as his ambassadors both in battle and, on occasion, in the courts of the Electors. Their long-term future in this position should the Imperial crown once again move away from Altdorf is, however, unclear.

The order wear plate armour burnished to a mirror shine with red and white plumes and accents and decorated with images of the Imperial Cross. Descendants of the original Reiklandguard knights are permitted to wear their ancestors' armour, resulting in the occasional appearance in Reiksguard ranks of unorthodox gilt or black-enamelled armour.


The Order of Sigmar's Blood

The largest templar order of Sigmarite faith to take to the battlefield in regular formation, the Order of Sigmar's Blood was founded during the 20th century to defend the Imperial border following the devastation of greenskin invasions and the collapse of a number of other knightly orders formerly devoted to protecting the eastern passes.

The order suffered heavy casualties in the early stages of the Sylvanian Wars in battles along the Stirland border, and even by the mid-22nd century had still not recovered enough strength to provide a meaningful contingent to the decisive phases of the war. The order contributed heavily, however, to the campaign of Magnus the Pious, forming the vanguard of his host until the arrival of Middenland and Kislev contingents provided a larger number of heavy cavalry.

The order wears steel armour with red-edged steel barding. Their heraldry depicts a golden skull superimposed over a gold hammer mounted with a laurel wreath on red background.


The Order of the Temple

The order from which all subsequent religious orders have taken the title “Templar”, this order was founded to protect the Temple of Ulric at the Middenstag in 550 following the separation of Middenland and Middenheim, as a counterpart to the White Wolves who protected the Temple on the Fauschlag.

The order gained lasting fame during the Westerland Crusade and was noted for its shattering cavalry charges which routed a number of Norse armies. However, over time, the order was unable to compete with the White Wolves and declined into extinction by the 9th century. The title of “Master of the Templars of Ulric” continued to be given as a ceremonial title until the time of Mandred Ratcatcher. Following his rule the provinces of Middenland and Middenheim were forcibly reunited; the title fell into disuse and the order into obscurity.

The order wore a blue surcoat emblazoned with a red Axe of Ulric over chainmail armour.


The Order of the Thousand and One

A crusading order, this was one of the largest orders ever to have been founded, and came about through expediency. Lost in the sands of Araby in 1458, Count Konrad von Hochen promised the gift of knighthood to any soldier who would follow him against an Arabyan fortress rumoured to be impregnable. A thousand men are said to have followed him, with von Hochen making up the numbers as the symbolic “one”. In reality the number is believed to have been closer to seven hundred, although as the majority of the volunteer knights were slain in the fortress assault, the true figure impossible to verify.

The order persisted for a number of years after the success of their initial mission although their numbers never again surpassed one hundred and fifty. When the order was finally expelled from Araby, several of their number travelled to the Border Princes to fight as mercenaries, although the majority entered civilian life.

The original heraldry of the order was simply the tattered remnants of its Hochland uniform. In subsequent years the knights wore chainmail or padded armour bedecked with light green and red cloth in an Arabyan fashion but an Imperial colour scheme. Their banner depicted a stylised broken fortress and the legend 'MMI'


Vannheim's 75th

Strictly a mercenary regiment rather than a knightly order, but they bear comparison with Imperial knights in both proficiency and renown, and no less a judge than Bruno Pfeifraucher is known to have declared Siegfried Vannheim at least as worthy of knighthood as most preceptors in the Empire. Founded as the 75th Light Cavalry Free Company of the Grand Army of Averland in 2485 during one of the periodic punitive ventures into the Border Princes to suppress greenskins, the regiment chose to remain beyond the mountain passes and, following some successes and corresponding rewards, remodelled themselves as an effective heavy cavalry company.

After nearly twenty years of fighting on the Empire's border, Vannheim took his troops north to the Troll Country to lend assistance to the Kislevites. The regiment met with success, killing by some accounts dozens, even hundreds of trolls, but suffered heavy casualties in the process. Pessimistic of his ability to rebuild the regiment with skilled troops, Vannheim disbanded it as a battlefield force and sent his men out into the world as itinerant soldiers. A member of the 75th has bolstered many Imperial free companies over the years, and Vannheim himself was responsible for slaying the necromancer Sorek in 2519 and the beastlord Kharghual in 2521. Several of the regiment fought in the Storm of Chaos, and its current remaining numbers are unknown.

On the battlefield Vannheim's 75th wore gilt-edged plate armour with green and gilt barding for their horses. The unit's heraldry- still worn by surviving itinerant members- is a red “V” on gold background, emblazoned with the number “75”.


The Order of the White Wolf

The largest and probably the oldest of the surviving knightly orders in the Empire, the order of the White Wolf (known more commonly as the White Wolves) were the bodyguard of the Unberogen kings before the time of Sigmar. Upon Sigmar's defeat of Artur and subsequent accession to the crown of the Teutognens, the White Wolves made their new home in Middenheim and dedicated themselves to the protection of the temple of Ulric, Sigmar's favoured deity.

The order is ancient beyond measure and its battlefield honours beyond compare. It has undergone few changes in the two and a half millennia since it found its home in Middenheim, although it has absorbed a number of smaller orders which have moderately affected its culture. The greatest change has been in the stated purpose of the order, which has shifted from the protection of the earthly temple of Ulric to a more all-encompassing role as Ulric's holy warriors.

The order wear burnished steel armour with red accents and occsasionally red barding for their steeds. Famously, the order wear neither helmets nor carry shields, and wield cavalry hammers rather than the conventional lance or sword. The most famous identifying feature is the white wolf pelt, which the knights are obliged to obtain by killing the beast themselves. A smaller, elite detachment of the order fights on foot, calling itself the Teutogen Guard.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:46 am

it's late so I'll get back to this with more indepth comments and what not (there isn't much to crit really, mostly it'll just me be throwing my ignorant tokens of currency at it). Longshanks wise (I speak as someone who has for years been trying to get a decent enough story idea to submit a pitch with them in to BL) there are two things you seem to be missing which I felt were pretty important to the feel of the order. New members take a vow of wandering so that they may never spend more than a week in one place in order to be forever patrolling the forests and glades and sacred areas and things that are hidden away, also they make their own longbows (like a jedi knight and a lightsabre).

Also with Taal and Rhya being coupled in worship it seems that there may even be female Longshanks about. Tome of Salvation suggests that the order is headed by the daughter of the previous head who died hunting Beastmen.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Athelassan » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:09 pm

You're right, the Longshanks do deserve more than I've currently given them (as do the Black Bears, really). This is really just a first draft with a lot more content still to come (and some sections were written from memory; I didn't have ToS in front of me) so I'll add more details on the Longshanks when I update the chapter.

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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Gaius Marius » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:26 pm

Awesome order list Ath. I've been looking for something like this for a while, but the only Lexi articles on them appear to be in German.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Carandini » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:09 am

One thing that would be of immense use in an almanac would be citations of sources. I'm particularly worried about where the background for the Reiksguard stems from as it may no longer be canon. The latest Empire book simply states they were established when the Prince of Reikland first became Emperor.
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Athelassan » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:23 pm

In general I'm disregarding whether something is "canonical" or not (since, after all, everything apart from WAR supposedly is) and taking whatever sources I can get, using my imagination to fill in logical gaps. Indeed quite a lot of the total project has only the faintest of basis in GW sources (some of the orders above are obviously of my own creation). A lot of material seems to get written without much regard or reference for earlier stuff, particularly where BL and BI are concerned, which can result in interesting, well-written background getting papered over with something much less meritorious. Where not totally incompatible I try to retain both/all versions. I understand your concerns, though (and I was careful to cite sources with my original History for this reason).

With the Reiksguard, the background is fairly consistent in stating that they were founded by Wilhelm II following 2429. The most recent three sources I know of (7th edition Empire army book; 6th edition Empire army book; Knightly Orders article on GW website) all state that they were founded by Wilhelm. The most recent source I can recall referencing the Reiklandguard as their precursor was Mark of Chaos by Anthony Reynolds, but there might be a WFRP mention I've forgotten. I don't necessarily think the two are incompatible, though, if the Reiksguard is treated as a re-founding incorporating basically the same personnel.

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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Bjarki » Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:14 pm

Awesome list Ath, I seem to remember some of this from the old forum back in the day.
It looks like something I could use in a story I have rumbling around in me head at the moment though, just keep it coming :P
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby exitus_10 » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:47 am

Athelassan wrote:...They held the belief that Sigmar was the same god as the ancient elven god Sotek...


Elven god sotek.
eh?
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Re: The Imperial Almanack (sneak peek)

Postby Athelassan » Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:13 pm

It's an overlap, open to debate. There's an ancient legend mentioned in Tome of Salvation in which the last stand of the human/elven pantheon includes Sotek. How Sotek actually fits into the pantheon is questionable, and he'd almost certainly be known by a different name by elves/humans. I think, though (and this is an open question in- as well as out-of- universe) that the intention is for Sotek to be one of our friendly neighbourhood gods, even if the humans don't realise he's the same one.

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