[Archive] Some thoughts on the remoulding of WHFB as a setting


Copy-pasted from another thread, since I’ve been thinking a bit about it as of lately:

As for the End Times narrative, it’s a very nice Armageddon and Ragnarök doomsday story (this is obvious just from the tidbits I’ve heard, before reading the books), but personally I doubt it will make for a better setting once the heyday is over. After all, the Warhammer world’s fluff have never really been an ongoing story like Warcraft. It’s always been a setting, a home for many stories, and keeping it static and treading water (i.e. not destroying the world) has long been logical for three reasons:

1, the Warhammer world is about providing an outstanding theatre for the customers/hobbyists to wage war in. The more world there is, the more wealth of background and history and geography, the more living world there is, the more there is for the players to fight for and destroy. And large populaces equal more to kill, which makes all the battles players fight more believable. For point 1, a setting reboot may very well provide a relatively rich world, and certainly an interesting one.

2, that way no army has to be dropped or destroyed, as could very well happen with an upheaval, and for many years WHFB seemed to be at least somewhat succesful as a product thanks to its wealth of available armies, all drawing upon some familiar theme and archetype. Dropping armies after the End Times could possibly make business sense, however.

3, one of the things which made the Warhammer world such a favourite of my brother and me (and I believe many more people) is its nature of basing a fantasy world in real world-history and to some extent even geography. For one thing, it makes the gaps and unmentioned bits of the setting easy to fill in with the imagination. All that’s been needed are a few available fluff snippets, knowledge of history and giving it a fantasy twist.

One of the strengths of the Warhammer world’s background (at least for me) is how larger than mainstream it is. The very existence of peripheral and exotic places like Kislev, Ind, Cathay and the hostile Hobgoblins to its north have enriched the setting immensely, and set it head and shoulders above most other fantasy settings (even those with superior main story lines and very imaginative/bizarre environs). The lure of the exotic and quasi-historical have even made some people convert armies from places like Southlands, Araby and Nippon, despite a lack of official rules and models.

It is primarily this point, #3, that makes me doubt whether the post-End Times setting will be that much to have when compared to the old Warhammer world, which was 30+ years in the making. When removing characterful places like the Black Fortress, Karak Kadrin and Nuln, which have provided quite a theme for player armies based on them, there’s a risk for making the armies/factions much less interesting and less heterogenous. Though the overarcing story of Warhammer becomes much more coherent and improves a lot, the world itself will have distanced itself so much from that historical fantasy foundation, it’s likely to be inferior for that reason alone, no matter how fantastical the new Warhammer world turns out to be.

Also, there’s a slight risk the survivors of the End Times are portrayed as too few in number to make the battles waged by players as plausible as they were before, though advancing the story line some centuries after the ET events to allowing for fluff rebuilding for WHFB 9th edition will offset that disadvantage.

Still, even if one does not like the remoulding of the Warhammer world, that very upheaval is no reason to panic.

For one thing, as a Skaven-playing friend of mine pointed out, the Warhammer world can always be played in different ages of time, including distant ones like War of the Beard. That’s why we have “historical” and long gone characters like Gorbad Ironclaw and Grom the Paunch in the army books. The End Times and its aftermath is simply yet another age, with a mythical doomsday story to go with it and a chance to fight in fantastical environs. Even if the setting isn’t as good as the previous one, it can still be most enjoyable.

Also, if one isn’t too fond of the results of the destruction and remoulding of the setting brought about by the End Times (even if one like the story itself), it’s easy to view the doomsday as a possible future yet to come, as something which happened in a parallell world within the Realm of Chaos, or a dark prophecy.

So, enjoy the show people. :slight_smile:


I should perhaps have added that I’ve got some experience in fleshing out fantasy settings in cooperation with others. This makes it easier to all the more appreciate the great stuff that’s been the Warhammer world up until now. The above post was written mainly for those who don’t enjoy the background changes (I know there are some whose hobby enthusiasm have been dampened by the remoulding of the setting), since a little perspective is all that’s needed to enjoy both the old and the new Warhammer world. This is not intended to deaden anyone’s enthusiasm for the End Times. On the contrary! I like what’s going on, even though fluff snippets written by me will generally continue to be set in pre-ET WHFB. :slight_smile:


Nice write-up Admiral.  From a story perspective I see no reason that such an upheaval was needed so agree sales/business ‘strategy’ were probably the driving factor.  Like you, I like Warhammer for the setting not just simply as a wargame and personally, I think without the setting it’ll no longer be Warhammer to me; at best it’ll be an alternate system that’s part of the Warhammer ‘brand’ (ie like how 40k is ‘Warhammer’ 40k and is tied to Fantasy via the Chaos Pantheon).  That said, it’s important to remember that ultimately we’re not dictated by GW and are all free to continue playing pre-ET games with 8th (or even earlier) edition rules, and like your friend said, there’s never been any reason why games have to be played in the present day so like you said! you can take ET/post-ET as present, and the previous present as the past and just go play in the past.

I’m not sure I want to see this new direction fail; on the one hand it might make GW drop Fantasy all together, but on the other it might make the management see it as a total c**k-up and order a retcon to reset things and start again.

Personally, if I’d been writing the ET, I’d have done something like:

Retcon back in SoC, then reveal that the Archaon who lead it was an imposter. Several years after SoC, as the Empire has started to recover, they hear via traders and/or refugees from Cathay that the real Archaon, who was besieging the Great Bastion at the time, has discovered this, and enraged has set out to destroy the Empire to clear his name of the failure. He sets off west after breaching the Great Bastion, allowing the eastern chaos tribes and the hobgoblin khanganate to overrun Northern Cathay. On his way west he hires ogre mercenaries and arrives at Zharr-Naggrund where he barters for the services of the Dawi Zharr. With this support, his armies flood over High Pass and besiege Praag which they capture and secure, Arcaon taking it as his personal capital/base of operations. His forces flood northern Kislev and push on into the Empire, gaining footholds there.

While this is happening, the Dark Elves make another invasion of Ulthuan. Arriving in force, they sweep from the west across the island. The High Elves are able to drive them back, but not before the DE have secured their beachhead and the HE are unable to dislodge them from Naggarond.

In the badlands, Nagash has finally awoken and actively making moves. He’s still a crippled shadow of his former self, but still extremely powerful. Raising legions of undead he marches in all directions, seeking artefacts in a bit to further restore his power and unites several of his followers among the Vampires and Tomb Kings to stir up trouble and keep the other TKs busy. Settra is able to unite the free TK in an uneasy truce to combat this and try to drive Nagash’s forces back and stop his plans (including dispatching armies all over the world after Nagash’s treasure hunters).

Needs a lot of fine tuning, but I think that something along those lines would have been better than the ET; it moves the story along, and shakes things up a bit by bringing the enemy in force to the doors of the Forces of Order’s doors and bringing back Nagash, but at the same time doesn’t wipe anyone out or upset the balance too much. The End Times are now under way, but The End is not here yet.


Something to consider is that warhammer games are theoretically supposed to represent something like 10 models for every one on the tabletop.  Sure I read that somewhere.

As a result of end times it may be more down to a theoretical 1:1

Also, depending on how this all plays out, picking over the ruins of a lost hold/city and making it a fortress is what Dwarfs do best it seems.  So even if Zharr Naggrund has fallen, even if the Chaos Dwarfs have lost millions of slaves and half their number (just hypothesising here, no spoilers!) there is still a rich setting if you are willing to delve a little deeper. We could move mountains before through force of will (and a little magic), so we can do it again.

Just have to adjust your thinking to having more of a nomadic/ desperate army on the run/march etc than many people have had before.

Finally, from what I see very few people actually invest a lot of time in building a back story for their armies.  So the fall of an empire wouldn’t actually mean as much to them as it would to others.  Just my thoughts on what I see.

Grimbold Blackhammer:

When in doubt - follow the money. GW has invested significant capital in their fantasy product and I just cannot see them throwing it away. So now that the old planet is gone, they’ll create a new one that they can truly call their own and cement their intellectual property in. It doesn’t make much sense, to me anyway, to throw away all those casting molds, old product, and whatever just to spite the industry. So I’m sure their new world will have Elves and Humans and Goblins in it. And if we’re really lucky, maybe it will have some Chaos Dwarfs in it too! Up until this point, we’ve been completely ignored. They really can’t make it much worse for us. I see nothing but opportunity ahead :hashut


@Grimstonefire: Yes, that is very much true. I for one won’t mind such a setting, it can easily be a cool one and certainly provide a change of scenery or fresh air, so to speak, at least for a while. But it can’t be escaped that a post-apocalyptic world is, in the end, inferior as a setting as opposed to a rich, living world (which will matter to some hobbyists). That’s my little prediction or weather forecast, we’ll see how it turns out.

@Grimbold BlackHammer: Indeed, but that historical background basis for the Warhammer world will have weakened. It can still make for an engaging setting, but it will have lost one of its strengths. (Major strengths, in my eyes, but that’s down to taste.)

Chaos Dwarfs would by some logic have a better chance if the case of the End Times is to create unique IP, since pretty much only the Skaven and Chaos Dwarfs as they are now, are Warhammer factions or archetypes more or less invented by Games Workshop (everything else has generic roots in some way or another). I wouldn’t say we’ve been completely ignored, we’re just a fringe army that has been lucky enough to return by intervals, and cool enough for the developers to attach new themes to (Daemonsmithing, Colossi, land trains).


The way I see it, the biggest threat is that now there is no evolution over time of the world. Now when something is destroyed it doesn’t really matter so much because something new can be made in it’s place.

But before if say Nuln was destroyed it would be hugely significant.


But before if say Nuln was destroyed it would be hugely significant.

Key word is *if* which they just weren't doing, but I do agree with you. As I posted above, what they should have done to advance things was to do a few such things rather than trying to torch everything.

Heck, you don't even need to leave things permantly destroyed; taking the Nuln example, have say the Orcs overrun the city in the 9th ed Empire book but some of the College of Engineering staff/students and some of the Nuln based regiments manage to escape. Combined with the Nuln armies who were off campaigning at the time this still allows people with Nuln armies to play a Nuln army, and just gives them (at least those who think about background for their armies) an extra motivation for their army in the form of trying to take back the city. You could even have the Countess (or her heir) and part of the court also escape and set up a Nuln-in-exile government in either another city in Wissenland or in Altdorf.

This then leads onto giving GW an excuse to give Orcs guns/cannons/etc in the 9th ed O&G book or in a supplement/campaign book (and thus an excuse to churn out new minis with the added benefit of them not just popping into existence with a 'oh they were always there' hand wave). Then in either said campaign book/supplement, a sequal or the 10th ed Empire and O&G books have the Empire take it back (but with the fluff making it clear that the city is a mess and will take in-universe years before it becomes a powerhouse again).


Haven’t yet dived into Age of Sigmar, I won’t comment on the setting, though I do expect it to be good in many ways since it’s a GW world. Still, the above thoughts stand.

On the flip side, one could observe that Age of Sigmar do allow Games Workshop to drive their story forward, in whatever direction they like. This is the same evolving story arc which characterizes computer game series such as Blizzard’s Warcraft. I believe at least some hobbyists have been curious how GW would handle such a narrative drive with their worlds, after playing Blizzard games, whose settings reminds you of WHFB and 40k. If nothing else, this is our chance to find out.

While the AoS setting fundamentally cannot trump the old Warhammer world in my eyes due to the above mentioned reasons (even if AoS would excel WHFB setting in some areas), both the old and new settings are very much available for hobbyists to choose whatever they prefer. You can pick one or the other, or both at the same time. They’re not mutually exclusive.

And since old Warhammer always was so inclusive to all things fantasy, even someone not interested in the AoS setting could easily build a Stormcast Eternal/Sigmarine army for WHFB, perhaps with an angel of Mons saviour theme.

Advice for those put off by the End Times and move to Age of Sigmar: Eat the cake, and keep it. :wink:

Thommy H:

The one great advantage of the Mortal Realms over the Warhammer world is that it’s an infinitely expandable setting. At the moment, every aspect of it is vaguely defined - we don’t even know how big each Realm is, or what form they take. Are they planets or some other physical shape, or something more metaphysical? As someone familiar with D&D’s planes concepts, where elements and moral philosophies are represented by separate (but linked) universes of their own, I find it pretty easy to get my head around. Basically, just don’t sweat the details.

I’ve bought the Stormcast and Bloodbound Battletomes so far, and I’ve seen how GW are exploring their new world(s). There are references to things like colossal giants made of stone or bone large enough to have whole cities built on their backs and other bizarre locations and concepts. I’ve been having a lot of fun adding my own ideas in the fluff for my new armies - the opportunity to do some proper worldbuilding is something I never had with Warhammer (not that it stopped me trying!).

The Warhammer world was a good setting, but it was tightly themed and had fairly strict geographic limits. The more successful model has been 40K, a galaxy with over a million human worlds and 38,000 years of history to make them as weird as you like.


Very good point with the 40k universe. 40k started out as Warhammer in space, and now Warhammer has turned into 40k in fantasy. It’s gone full circle. :slight_smile:

Also, the Realms reminds a little about Lords of Magic.