[Archive] Designing the units


Hello, fellow Dawi Zharr

I am creating this thread to both share some WIP pieces and concepts and look for advice in future designs, as well as discuss the viability of some of the classic units.

Keep in mind that the tone of this discussion is not related to TT gaming or rules, but rather design and lore focused, as I myself own no minis and never played tabletop wh.

One particular unit I’ve been requested to design before are the whirlwind and tenderizer. It has been particularly hard for me to come up with something worthy, mostly because when I think Chaos Dwarfs I tend to Imagine a technologically advanced culture (in comparison to most others in the old world) and seeing how they have created impressive steam-like daemon engines it becomes hard to actually see those old units in the CD army ranks. I think GW intended replaced this unit with FW’s Skullcracker War Engine. At least that makes some measure of sense to me. Nonetheless I am intrigued as to what the community thinks of this, so let me know. If you think the old Whirlwind/Tenderizer still make sense in “modern” CD armies I’d like to know why.

My latest design at the time of writing this has been a re-iteration of the Immortal. I’m still not quite satisfied with it, but I feel I am getting closer to something GW worthy, so I am going to refine this in the near future and making a decent Illustration of it. Meanwhile I will leave some WIP and conceptual designs here for you to have a look and, If so inclined, give me some feedback :slight_smile:

I will also post a WIP of a Chaos Dwarf Lord fighting an empire heavy armored soldier I’ve started a while back :slight_smile:


Really excellent design! A great marriage of the old school big hat style and the awesome heavy metal album cover style of totally brutal chaos. I especially like the thoroughly daemonic image of Hashut.

I do feel like your design is missing an important part of chaos dwarf iconography, while I am as big a fan of the eight pointed star as the next chaos worshipper I think you have made big mistake by neglecting the lightning bolt. I know these new sigmarites seem to think it belongs to them, but I has been our symbol of old and is really our faction�?Ts only signature iconography. I think it should always have a place upon chaos dwarf brows or as part of the gilding on our weapons and armor (and of course split down the forehead of any skulls we bare).

I think the whirlwind and tenderizer really have their place as a device attached to/being pushed by a Bullcentaur. No matter how technologically advanced the Dawi Zharr become Bullcentaurs are not going anywhere- they are The Chosen and they will never fail to stampede through the gore of battle, improving their ferocity buy giving them a ridiculously evil daemon-powered lawnmower to barrel into the enemy ranks seems like a logical fusion of chaos dwarf technology and the might of the Bullcentaur.


I like them. Very nice


Thank you, this is great feedback, I’ll work those elements in :slight_smile:


pretty nice sketches, I wish I had your drawing skills!


The direction I’ve been taking with my designs this later years os largely influenced by FW’s Legion of Azgorh. I deduced that the Chaos Dwarf culture, bring a fairly industrialized culture, would streamline the equipment design. But this makes sense if the mass produce it. If each piece of equipmen is hand crafted this assumption might be wrong. Also, as the dark lands represent a vast extension of land, dotted with several holds I bet to understand how authonomous each hold is. I wonder how the equipment varies from hold to hold or how unique is the equipment from each “sect”. I’ve read that the blackguard of uzkulak is adorned with flayed skins and gory trophies, along with black armor, while having little hearaldry or iconography. One obvious point in this matter is that the color scheme of their armor will be different depending on their origin (as with all of warhammer) but i reckon there is more to it.

Then again, base troops will probably not change much from hold to hold. I think it most likely for the higher ranking members in the CD hierarchy to have the most unique looks. Now this leads me to a question I’ve often asked myself: What exactly is the Chaos Dwarf “nobility”? What is their role in war? What unit best represents them, and what portion of the CD population do they make up?


Exquisite drawings and designs, and as Carcearion pointed out a perfect marriage between the big hat opulent Chaos Dwarf style and the grimdark Chaos vein. The Daemonic bull’s head image is particularly strong. Your drawings are especially refreshing to see, since it captures something of what could have been, had GW decided to make a full Chaos Dwarf army out of the Hellcannon style, with nods back to earlier ranges. I like your concepts a lot, and could point out particularly good parts of the sketches for half an hour at length. I’ll have to be brief instead this time.

As for whirlwinds and tenderizers, yes Forgeworld obviously took them up to date with the marvellous Donald Duck-ish contraption of the Skullcracker, neat model. But Chaos Dwarfs are more than just industrialists, slavers and maverick inventors.* The Dawi Zharr are Blacksmiths of Chaos, and they are fanatic devotees of a rapacious, capricious and overpoweringly oppressive Dark God demanding full submission. They are sacrificers and idolaters. They are mystics and binders of Daemons, forgers of devils and breakers of souls. Though split in various cults, all Dawi Zharr worth their salt in the eyes of the ruling Temple priesthood pay homage to the sacred spawns of the fiery Bull God, and adulation and fearful respect must be heaped upon His Bull Centaurs, Tauri and Lamassi. These fire worshippers of the Dark Lands are also enigmatically devoted to Chaos and order at the same time, slavishly sticking to a merciless Order of Things which grinds slaves and unworthies underheel to build the greater works of Hashut in the worldly realm.

Their mad ingenuity and demented inventiveness is no obstacle to a rigid adherence to tradition and the demands of cult and sect. One would not only expect to find Bull Centaurs with Whirlwinds and Tenderizers used even when steam technology has seemingly rendered these antique contraptions obsolete, but one would even expect to see bull chariots used not only in ceremonies and parades, but occassionally even in combat.

Uncorrupted Dwarfs are sensible. Chaos Dwarfs are not, and as such you can go to town with whatever senseless maverick schemes you feel like for these Children of Hashut. The more convoluted and cryptic and chaotic the overall impression, the better. The Dwarfs of Chaos have become increasingly fascinating as a fictive race, and will continue to intrigue and fascinate hobbyists for a long time to come. CDs are rigged for creativity and original leaps and crazy conversions and concepts of wild abandon. Not everything has to make sense at a surface glance in Dawi Zharr society, and much don’t.

As for Chaos Dwarf nobility, my guess is that they would roughly correspond to Clan leaders, individuals who through brilliance and achievements have risen in the world, and most importantly offspring of the ruling caste of Sorcerer-Prophets. To differ from their uncorrupted cousins in fundamental aspects and to draw upon real-world ancient Mesopotamian reference, the ruling class of the Chaos Dwarfs would obviously have harems. And though Sorcerer-Prophets eventually petrify, one would expect them to beget as many offspring as possible while the granite grasp of the Sorcerer’s Curse has not yet claimed their virility, particularly as they are bull worshippers with the bull being a most male creature (This and this are related to the topic on hand). To lord it over their harem and breed many sons and even precious daughters would only be to live in the image of their Father of Darkness.

As such, there would at any time exist a sizeable portion of the Chaos Dwarf society which has been fathered by Sorcerer-Prophets or other overlords, and as usual within societies with polygamy most of these would be expected to trickle down the social ladder and largely fend for themselves, though their status, upbringing and perhaps gifts or inheritance would likely secure fine enough positions in the Chaos Dwarf empire. Many of the more gifted or favoured ones would become Daemonsmiths, or warleaders and officers if their talents are martial. Prized companies comprising only of sons of the harems would not be unlikely at all in the hosts of Zharr-Naggrund the Great and all her holdings. And if gifted with the sorcerous and prophetic sparks, they could become Temple acolytes and aim at lordship and priesthood if not unholy rites, Temple intrigues, madness, sorcerous-Daemonic disasters or the Curse of Stone claim them first.

So, much of Chaos Dwarf “nobility” would be the numerous offspring from the priestly harems, whether of first or later generations. They would have lineage and prestige and some privileges, and would usually have quite good means to claw themselves upward in the world. And if they are truly fortunate or skilled, they will even have wives or concubines of their own. With the male to female ratio in fantasy Dwarf populations being skewed, even having a single wife in a society with harems would be highly precious, so it plays in well with the covetousness and greed inherent in the Dawi Zharr. Lust for mortal dominion, worldly wealth, immortal knowledge, otherworldly forces and fleshly power goes hand in hand in a culture which openly professes that might is right and stringently adhers to and even worships cruelty, ruthlessness, rapacity, oppression and black-hearted hunger for power.

This might provide some starting point for thinking of the Chaos Dwarf elite.

Also, though customs may vary widely from stronghold to stronghold, from clan to clan, from sect to sect and most importantly from the followers of one Sorcerer-Prophet to another (their whims or religious interpretations being the deciding factor for thousands of subjects), as a rule one would expect to see big hats, and particularly ornate hats, adorn the heads of what corresponds to nobility in the slavish, fanatic, mad craftsman world of the Chaos Dwarfs, with masks often being associated with the lower orders, artillery crews/engineers (for reasons of profession) and even the shamed outcast warriors of the infamous Infernal Guard. This hierarchical headgear height opulence would as stated not be strictly universal to all worshippers of Hashut, but could work as a rough rule of thumb.

* Also they are skilled artisans, and one would expect fine crafts pieces as opposed to mass produced arms to figure a lot among free Chaos Dwarfs, i.e. non Infernal Guard, who have the means to purchase or produce high-quality mastercrafted weapons and armour. Much of the simple mass-produced stuff would go on export up north and be used to arm the Hobgoblin middleman slave caste or the lowliest thralls. It’d be a status thing to have uniquely crafted objects among your armaments.


I’m so glad I started this thread! Thank you, your replies are much apreciated :slight_smile:


Your drawings are great but I agree that lightning bolts are a good addition, but think they look pretty spot on!

I see dwarves being stuck in there way and the process of forging being the way it has always been done, just on a larger scale. 100 daemonsmiths with a 100 slaves each all working individually to create there masterpieces, there legacy to Hashut.

I also think that the 4th edition warhammer armies chaos dwarfs book goes into social structure, although only briefly.



This message was automatically appended because it was too short.


As for iconography and aesthetics, you’ve got a great look going! One thing one cannot wish for more, is Daemonic elements. You have them nailed in abundance, skillfully. If you nevertheless would be on the lookout for further things to incorporate into your distinctive style, then here’s some spattering of oddities:

Chaos Dwarf runes, which there is a wealth of. Aside from those in the compilation thread, there’s a plethora of little runes scattered throughout the CD illustrations for Throne of Tamurkhan/Legion of Azgorh. Nicomedus has been compiling them into a list, but he’s busy and it’s a big undertaking, so don’t hold your breath for that crowning glory on the collection of official GW/FW CD runes. One can also take some inspiration from cuneiform if one feel like it, and likewise stone or clay writing tablets will make Chaos Dwarfs seem a bit extra peculiar.

Mesopotamian god horns (the subtle horns lying flat around the headgear), as seen on T9A Infernal Dwarf icon and this Norbaminiatures’ Lord of Fire, this Lost Kingdoms Sorcerer and also on the top decoration on the Animated Dwarf Statue.

Also, I’m dead sure your hard Daemonic Chaotic style of Dawi Zharr would look wondrous if given an opportunity to assault fresques, whether on large armour plates for sacred creatures or steam vehicles, or on architecture or even the odd shield. There’s a wealth of ancient Assyrian fresques in particular to pick inspiration from, and much to be done with it in fantasy settings. Volcanoes, cracking and collapsing earth and flames shooting from up out of the underworld and other destructive elemental stuff could figure in the iconography somewhere, besides lightning. Most of this is too detailed and wide for any use in infantry equipment detailwork, obviously, but could be used as a backdrop in scenic artworks depicting Chaos Dwarfs busy with some activity amid their soaring monuments, in their laboratory-workshops, sacred Temple halls, armouries, torture chambers, Daemonforges and soulfurnaces, slave quarters, catacombs or whatever.

Twisted and distorted faces in materials scream Daemonic, as in the Hellcannon, and generally the Hellcannon and its crew with their equipment and tools ought to be studied closely. This was drawn after close inspection of said figures and various historical stuff, just in case anything in there is worth salvaging somewhere.

The beaten metal, and the roughly torn metal on the wheels always improved the raw and untamed impression of that artillery piece. For use with similar units in the army, perhaps? (Obviously not inspirational stuff for CD overlords, who in their outfits are refined, in control and far above the maniac ragings of a violently forged Hellcannon. But possibly for the odd mad Daemonsmith or shunned Infernal Guard?)

Also, chains, mayhap with a meathook, Chaos star/arrow, rune amulet, severed head or hand at the end, aren’t wrong with the Dwarfs of Fire. Neither are shackles for slaves.

Speaking of shackles, you might want to take a quick look on these Lost Kingdoms characters. There are design elements in there worth to ponder on. E.g. the flaming metal bull’s head standard, the theme of the subdued slave and the sorcerer in full swing of action.

…and then there’s always flaying, based upon ancient Assyrian cruelty practices.

Besides, do you have any plans to visit the asscannon and reinvent it? I have long pondered it, and eventually intends to sculpt something much more grimdark Daemonic with loads of freak detail, shackles and whatnot. I’m highly curious as to how you would tackle the subject in drawing. :slight_smile:


Chaos dwarf runes have not been the easiest of elements to put in the designs, because I tend to think of runes as a “magic” infused thing, which makes me almost invariably think of them as glowy things almost wherever they appear. At the time of writing this, the only effective way I have to do that in my drawings is as a digital overlay. I’ll include it in my next piece as a sort of test.

FYI my next piece is (again) the immortal, based on the latest design I did for it, but this time in a more lively pose as shared in the opening post on this thread (the one where he’s on top of an ork, pulling its head up, preparing a deadly axe swing.


Also part of what makes me design the Dawi Zarr armor along the lines of chaos warrior armor is something I read somewhere, stating that chaos armor is largely crafted by our brethren and then traded to the chaos warriors of the north. The simplicity of the design in the base troops of FW’s Legion of Azgorh, to my eyes, conveys this perfectly, so I also take a lot of queues from them, but at the same time I think it somewhat bland in a few areas, so I attempt to make them a bit more unique, drawing from everything else Chaos Dwarf related I’ve found both here, and on the many fanmade Army Books I’ve found. I have to thank Tommy H. and Mathyas Ellison for it :slight_smile:


Hmmm… I dunno I think you had runes done correctly on this piece here:

where they are used as talismans and individual carvings, the stone (or possibly etched metal in some cases?) inserts give the impression the Chaos Dwarf likely carved them himself and had them attached (assuming of course he didn’t forge all of his weapons and armor himself, the Dawi Zharr are no less craftsmen then any mountain dwelling ancestor groveler). They don’t garishly dominate his armor buy being massive rune shaped pauldron trimmings, they are runes and symbols placed with clear purpose and tradition… not to say that there is anything wrong with garish, but these more subtle details I think speak volumes.


Ah yes, runic symbols are nailed down already then. I was merely inspecting the above sketches. Great drawing, besides! :slight_smile:


Hmmm... I dunno I think you had runes done correctly on this piece here:

Yes, But I'm not 100% satisfied with how they turned out when I did add them. That's what I mean. It can be done better, I just need to test some other methods until I/we figure out what works best. But thanks :)


I got a couple more questions btw: Do chaos dwarves always have horns? and do they actually incorporate the star of chaos extensively, or is that element something not as prevalent as other CD specific symbols?


Well if we are talking hard GW cannon and we are also talking about the Assyrian big hats era of Chaos Dwarves you do see uses of arrows, but the actual star of chaos is completely missing. Instead you see bearded skulls with horns, bullheads, and so on.

The CDO wiki is an excellent resource, here is a link where you can actually look at the individual models yourself:

Now if you want to talk about the more kind of derivative and expspanded communal lore which has been built here on the forum (which exceeds the scraps of lore that GW made for us by several magnitudes in detail, depth, quantity and fun) then you will hear that the star of chaos is both used and revered by the Dawi Zharr, who do identify themselves as a people of chaos and have a understanding of its nature built into the mysticism of their culture, but that the focus of their adoration is always to Hashut above raw chaos itself.


At the bottom line, it’s all about following one’s own vision and fancies. This fictive race has already been tackled in a myriad different ways through the years by GW and other firms, and not least by various hobbyists. At the end of the day, one can do them however the heck one want. :slight_smile:

Still, going by what we’ve seen, not all Chaos Dwarfs have horns. Virtually all have tusks, however. Some have horns, and some even have cloven hooves or weirder mutations still (there’s even some unfortunate wretch, experimental failure, misborn or whatever, with cloven horns on all four extremities kept in a cage by Drazhoath). Horns was a new introduction by FW. Devil dwarfs, most fitting. Also, the Infernal Guard champion by FW have sawn-off horns, stumps only.

The Chaos star or parts thereof have been a very common symbol for Chaos Dwarfs throughout many miniature line incarnations, for good reason. Blacksmiths of Chaos. Part of the appeal with Chaos Dwarfs, is their being a part of the bewildering Chaos abyss, yet standing apart within it. There’s a tension between the many themes built into the CDs which keeps them interesting and fresh.

Though slavishly worshipping their own specific Dark God and sticking to their own specific culture, they are ever within the pull of the maelstrom of Chaos, and never truly separate. To occassionally pay homage to other Daemons and Dark Gods would not be at all amiss when circumstances demanded it. The Great Four Dark Gods are stronger than their own, and the Dawi Zharr know this. They truly are Dwarfs of Chaos, so using the Chaos star a lot is only fitting. How much you choose to use it is entirely up to you, obviously.


Ooh this is fun, it seems like a long time since we had much lore discussion.

An interesting note on the use of the chaos star on the models themselves I noticed is that while the star is completely missing from the older Assyrian era big hats, you will see nothing but the star of chaos (a complete lack of old Dawi Zharr icons) on the next generation that is the Hellcannon crew (who in my mind where kind of a skipped over phase of chaos dwarf design). From an expanded lore perspective you could certainly argue that they wore specifically those symbols because they where foreigners amongst the northern chaos warriors, and getting on as fellow chaos worshipers is probably a very good idea in those circumstances.

I agree with the point Admiral made above, when you get right down to it- it’s really very open to interpretation.

Oh wow, I just read the linked story and must say wow, really excellent piece of lore, and I think it illiterates your point perfectly on the relationship between Chaos Dwarves and Chaos. The idea that they are still deeply entangled in the larger web of chaos despite what shelter they may receive from their god really makes for a compelling spiritual state

"Thus it is that the Chaos Dwarfs, and even the Father of Darkness Himself, must welcome the wider Chaos with one hand, while pushing it away with the other. To welcome with both hands is to kindle the wrath of Hashut. To push away with both hands is to test the patience of Chaos."