World of Warhammer – No, Really, It’s An Actual BookJune 25, 2008
Because it was cited as one of the artistic and inspirational sources behind the current incarnation of Warhammer Online, I ordered an out-of-print copy of “World of Warhammer: The Official Illustrated Guide to the Fantasy World” a few weeks ago. It came in the mail and I triumphantly waved it at my wife, who has long since stopped calling the special doctor every time I showed a quirk of dementia. “A-HA!” I said. “IT’S HERE! SIGMAR BE PRAISED!”
Then I had to put the book down and take my quiet time pills.
One of the challenges of trying to indoctrinate yourself into the Warhammer Fantasy world is that there really is no one main source for everything Warhammer. Sure, there’s the Games Workshop website, the fantasy RPG guide, the tabletop guides, but since this fantasy world is a bit more fluid and changing than others, it’s hard to peg down exactly who does what where and why and to what extent. I think this 1998 book might be the best overview of the Warhammer fantasy world you could hope to find, and yet it still left me unsatisfied.
I think it’s partially because I got it for the art, which is decent yet a little too… cartoony… for my tastes. And also because it was less on technical specs (“classes” and such) and more on general overviews of each race.
Since we’ve heard a lot about the six/seven races being implemented into WAR — the Greenskins (Orcs and Goblins), Dark Elves, Chaos, Empire, High Elves and Dwarfs — what interested me most was to take a peek at the OTHER Warhammer fantasy races… which we might very well see come expansion time.
Lizardmen: Children of the Old Ones
- This race is composed of a variety of humanish reptiles who live in the jungle of Lustria (the Warhammer equivalent of South America).
- Three main sub-species of Lizardmen: Slann (fat toad/frog creature), Saurus (crocodile creature) and Skinks (giant newts/chameleon).
- Possible classes: Mage-Priest, Totem Warrior, Scouts, Skirmishers, Dino-Riders
- Lizardmen ride Cold Ones (mini-dinos), the same mounts as the Dark Elves use
- Destruction or Order? Possibly Destruction, but since their enemies include Dark Elves and the Undead, Order might well be in the cards too.
Wood Elves: Defenders of the Forest
- Occupy Athel Loren, much more beatnik and nature-loving than the High or Dark Elves.
- More like the elves of Tolkien than the other elven races.
- Possible classes: Dryad, Treemen, Tree Kin, Bowman, Spellsinger, Waywatcher (elite ranger), Glade Guard, Wardancer.
- Destruction or Order? They hate dwarfs, so Destruction. They are friends with Bretonnia, so Order.
Bretonnia: Land of Chivalry
- The “other” Warhammer human race, Bretonnia is more modeled after Britain/King Arthur than the Empire’s Germanic slant. Bretonnia is more rustic and more medieval than the steampunky Empire.
- Possible classes: Knights, Knight Errant, Grail Knight, Archer, Grail Pilgrim, Damsel, Prophetess, Wizard
- Destruction or Order? Can’t see them being Destruction, but will be weird to have two human races on the Order side.
Skaven: Children of the Horned Rat
- Hordes of rat-men born out of Chaos who mostly live underground.
- They have a capital — Skavenblight — that they nearly destroyed with magic.
- Possible classes: Head-Taker, Grey Seers, Clan Rat, Stormvermin, Plague Monks
- Destruction or Order? Most definitely Destruction.
Chaos Dwarfs: The Sons of Darkness
- Like Dwarfs, just angrier and darker. They’re not very popular with the Warhammer crowd, and has thus been in decline lately.
- Possible classes: Sorcerer-Priest, Sorcerer Engineers, Dawi-zharr, Hobgoblin, Sneaky Git
- Destruction or Order? Destruction, although their creation of the Black Orcs — who turned on them — casts this into doubt.
Undead: Bane of Life
- The Undead have two major factions: The Tomb Kings and the Vampire Counts
- This faction covers pretty much all the horror staples — werewolves, vampires, mummies, zombies, skeletons, wraiths
- Possible classes: Necromancer, Skeleton Warrior, Greater Undead, Banshee, pretty much any of the horror “creatures”
- Destruction or Order: Um… let me think… Destruction.
- Dogs of War – Mercenary groups
- Kislev – Nordic-themed, don’t have a big tabletop presence
- Ogre Kingdoms – might be another fun race to go alongside of the Greenskins
So what looks likely for the first expansion? Unless Mythic eschews adding new playable races in favor of increasing the level cap and/or providing new areas of conquest, I think that a new racial pairing is likely in the works. Skaven are highly popular, but problematic to include (and will already be present in the game as NPCs). Chaos Dwarfs are so low on the radar as to be non-existent. Wood Elves are solid, but would represent a third elf race in a game already 1/3rd elven. Bretonnia is a bit medievalish and bland, and they’d be competing with the Empire for the human mindshare.
My thinking is Lizardmen (Order) vs. Undead (Destruction). The Lizardmen would give the Order side a crazy looking race — and “good” guys rarely get the weird looking races in these games. The Undead might be overwhelmingly attractive to many players in love with horror monsters. And emo kids wanting to be a vampire with mad leveling skillz.
But really, who knows? It’s all a shot in the dark, and since we’re a looooong ways away from any solid expansion info, we’ll just sit here with flights of fancy.