[Archive] Chaos Dwarf society build up out of?


Was wondering about this the other day. In both GW fluff as well as fanbased fluff several things have been mentioned, ranging from houses, clans, castes etc… Maybe even forges?!

We know that the sorcerers are the absolute top in the hierarchy of the Dawi-Zharr but I can also imagine that other powerful individuals constantly vie for the favour of these sorcerers and also strife to enhance their wealth and power.

Wondering what you all think of this and heck, even maybe some nice new backround material could come out of this. :hat off


The Sorcerers are the undisputed rulers of Zharr Naggrund, and we know there is a caste system as it is mentioned in Knight of the Realm. Beyond that is a bit vague.

Most mentions of CDs in other books seem to revolve around individual CD ‘Arms Dealers’ for want of a better term, who sell their services to Chaos Champions and Ogres. Some of these seem to be outcasts (such as Hothgar from the 8th ed rulebook), at least temporarily. They do seem to have a fair amount of freedom to do this; Hothgar is himself mentioned to be a Sorcerer, and so presumably only answers to the other Sorcerers collectively (presumably he was exiled by vote and then allowed to return by similar consensus).

My views of CD society (which also appear in Shadow & Flame) are heavily influenced by ownership, not just of things but of people and even other CDs. This is just my version of CDs, and my views have also been influenced by many others on CDO.
Everything in a CD Clan or House belongs to its Lord, who in turn belongs to a Sorcerer who is part of the ruling body of Zharr Naggrund. This includes everyone who is below him/her in the pecking order. The Dwarf loves of hoarding and haggling have been twisted into an all-consuming desire to own everything, be it gold, mines, ore, slaves, females, younger siblings, whatever.

Age is still important, and the eldest is always the most respected and most powerful.

The rigid caste system is the only thing that prevents anarchy, and, being Dwarfs, the standard of living is very high as everything they create is so well-made, so even the lowliest CD has a pretty good time. This is helped by the ownership of slaves, allowing even the lowest members of CD society to lord it over someone. The castes are, in order of hierarchy: Sorcerers, Warriors, Artisans and Merchants. The Sorcerers are the spiritual leaders of the CD empire and are the word of Hashut. The Warriors must sacrifice much of their personal freedom, family lives and chance to obtain wealth in order to serve Zharr Naggrund, so are honoured and well treated. The artisan’s skills are highly prized and these individuals are among the most carefully guarded of all the Sorcerer’s servants; indeed junior Sorcerers all begin their training in the forges and those who have no claims to Lordship due to having older siblings often remain in the forges. The merchants are the lowest, as they create nothing yet prosper from the labours of others.

Being Dwarfs, all CDs still have some sense of honour and this is backed up by the certainty of savage recriminations should a bargain be broken; thus their society functions and their economy prospers. They are not as treacherous as the Druchii, and will instantly put aside petty differences and unite in the face of a common enemy; unity is how they have survived through the ages in the hostile Darklands. I see CDs only eliminating rivals through violence if they have been cheated; thats not to say accidents don’t happen, particularly the Hobgoblin-knife-in-the-back kind.

I see the Hobgoblins as being the wildcard in CD society; anything that a CD cannot be seen to do, or his Dwarfish nature will not allow, can be done by a Hobgoblin for a price. Spying, scouting, assassination, stirring up revolts, fraud, slave-rustling (:)), nothing is too low for them. It is truly a symbiotic relationship; the Hobgoblins are just too damned useful.

Thommy H:

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.

Border Reiver:

The caste structure, probably based on the dwarf clans would seem to be the way things are based. I like Thommy’s take on it.


Agreed, nice takes both Baggronor and Thommy H. I take it they are both your own interpretations (with inspiration taken by existing fluff)?

Thommy H:

That’s correct.

This message was automatically appended because it was too short.


I am curious to understand how the hobgoblins fit and act within the order of Chaos Dwarves.

What is to stop them from throwing over the Chaos Dwarves

Also, with slaves greatly out numbering the CD, how do they keep control?

Thommy H:

The Hobgoblins don’t overthrow the Chaos Dwarfs because the other Greenskins hate them - allegedly because they betrayed them during the Black Orc rebellion, but I suspect that Hobgoblins would just not easily survive in the dog-eat-dog “society” of Orcs and Goblins. So Hobgoblins and Chaos Dwarfs enjoy a symbiotic relationship - the Hobgoblins needs the Chaos Dwarfs to protect them from their cousins, and the Chaos Dwarfs need the Hobgoblins to control the rest of the slaves which, as you say, outnumber them by quite a bit. It’s in neither race’s best interest to end this relationship, so they both do all they can to maintain it.


Thanks Thommy

This helps for my own mini projects



The WFRP fluff says that it is a precarious relationship and that both sides recognise that it could end at any time if it is beneficial to them.