The Order of Things
Dawi�?TZharr society is divided in two directions: the Sorcerers are the undisputed masters of Zharr-Naggrund; every inhabitant of the city belongs to them and, in addition, each Sorcerer divides his subjects into discrete Castes. The Sorcerers themselves are at the top, followed by the Warriors, then Artisans, then Labourers and finally the great teeming masses of slaves. The Castes have no contact with one another except when serving their Sorcerer masters, and fraternisation or �?" worse �?" breeding between Castes is strictly forbidden. There is no way for a Chaos Dwarf to improve his Caste, except through the discovery of magical talent, and he may only advance within it, but no true Dawi�?TZharr would even consider going against the sacred Order of Things.
Unlike their western kin, Chaos Dwarf Warriors are not bound together by oaths and camaraderie, but by unspoken and unbreakable bonds of blood and Caste. A Chaos Dwarf Warrior serves his Sorcerer master with unthinking loyalty, and to disobey a command from him is utterly inconceivable. They are wholly devoted to war and the acquisition of slaves for Dawi’Zharr society, and do not baulk at even suicidal orders. A Sorcerer thinks nothing of pouring out the blood of his Warriors like water if it benefits himself, and the Warriors accept their place without question. To a Chaos Dwarf, obedience to their leaders and conformity to the norms of their society is the most important thing in their lives. Without it, they are nothing.
Within the Warrior Caste there is a many-layered hierarchy, and each Warrior in a garrison knows his place and his role. Foremost amongst the soldiery are the feared Ironguards, Warriors possessed of particular skill and cruelty. Chosen as much for their loyalty as their experience, Ironguards ensure obedience to the Order of Things and also lend their considerable abilities to the fighting. Often, they sport one of the symbols of Chaos Dwarf authority: tall, ornate helms or grotesque skeletal masks forged from blackened iron.
The undisputed rulers of Zharr-Naggrund are the Priests of Hashut, more commonly known as Chaos Dwarf Sorcerers. They form a Caste unto themselves, living and ruling from the Temple of Hashut at the peak of the great obsidian city of Zharr-Naggrund. Each Sorcerer Lord rules a part of the city and all the Chaos Dwarfs and slaves who live in those areas. His subjects are utterly loyal to him and he uses them as pawns in his machinations, because the Sorcerers constantly vie amongst themselves for influence and power. All Sorcerers are incredibly ambitious and they seek to undermine each other at every turn. In a very real sense, Chaos Dwarf society is really just a loose alliance of rival nations each headed up by a powerful Sorcerer.
Only one thing keeps the relentless power-grabbing of the Sorcerer Lords in check. As a Sorcerer grows older, the corrupt magic he casts beings to wreak changes on his body. What once was flesh magically transmutes into inanimate grey stone. Starting from his feet, a Sorcerer gradually beings to literally turn to stone, until his entire body is consumed and he becomes a lifeless statue. This terrifying metamorphosis is known as the Sorcerers’ Curse and aged Sorcerers become increasingly immobile and must be carried around by their followers. It is this natural limit on a Sorcerer’s lifespan that prevents the endless cycle of civil war in the Temple from destroying Chaos Dwarf civilisation. The more powerful and reckless a Sorcerer, the faster his transformation occurs, and so the most ambitious and destructive Sorcerers rarely remain in power long enough to upset the status quo. Once a Sorcerer has become a statue, he is taken from the Temple of Hashut to the long highway leading to Zharr-Naggrund where he is lined up alongside his fellows, staring sightlessly down on all who approach, a grim reminder of the Chaos Dwarfs’ dedication to Hashut.
Nonetheless, Chaos Dwarf Sorcerers are powerful magic users. They are empowered by the Father of Darkness and have mastery over fire and stone. They summon infernal storms and melt rock and metal with but a curt command. Elder Sorcerers are capable of more mysterious feats, manipulating the Winds of Magic to produce visions of darkness and death. However, the most mysterious powers of the Sorcerers involve the summoning and binding of Daemons from the Realm of Chaos. Chaos Dwarfs are almost unique in that they see Chaos as just another tool to be used for their own ends: they believe it can be beaten into shape, like iron, and turned to their purposes. Sorcerers oversee the creation of Daemonic weapons and engines that use bound spirits to achieve truly monstrous effects. Some of their number are known as Daemonsmiths, Sorcerers raised from the Artisan Caste who have a particular affinity with metallurgy and construction.
Captains of Zharr-Naggrund
The Warrior Caste is privileged and influential compared to the lower Castes because they alone have the opportunity to rise to positions of genuine power in Chaos Dwarf society. A loyal and skilled Warrior can rise up the hierarchy, perhaps spending time as an Immortal, and emerge as a great leader. A Sorcerer Lord will recognise such an individual amongst his followers and reward him accordingly before his desire for power begins to make him too ambitious. Buying him with titles and honours, the Sorcerer will ensure he has a steadfast lieutenant at his side instead of a potential threat to his position.
Captains amongst the Dawi’Zharr are known as Despots, for they are often the right hands of their masters, enacting their will amongst the common Chaos Dwarfs. Despots rule with the same iron fists as the Sorcerers, and their authority is just as absolute. Gifted with artefacts of terrifying power and ancient provenance by their masters �?" often bound with Daemonic spirits enslaved to their will �?" they are extremely dangerous foes in battle and always lead from the front, seeking to capture the attention of their Sorcerer so they can rise in his estimation and become more powerful still.
The mightiest Despots eventually ascend to the rank of Warlord. Each Sorcerer normally only has one Warlord serving him, and he acts as the commander of his armies. A Warlord is a terrible, inscrutable foe. Unlike the Despots who crave greater influence, a Warlord has reached the apex of his career �?" indeed, the apex of his very existence �?" and has nothing to prove to anyone. Supremely arrogant and cruel, Warlords often ride mighty Daemonic creatures called Tauruses, leading by example as they plunge to earth on their winged beasts, scattering the enemy. They are the greatest warriors and leaders in Chaos Dwarf society and, like all of their Caste, are utterly loyal to the Sorcerer Lord whom they serve.
“Do you really want to give up your life for ‘the Order of Things’?”
“It is not my life to give up, manling…and it never was.”
- Warlord Dhurzhan to Tzar Petyr at the Battle of Farside, when ordered to make a suicidal last stand.