Nice ideas! One could add torturers (as per one of the theme armies showcased in Thommy H’s 8th ed army book) with lots of grisly displays for psychological terror warfare, and cowed mutilated slave troops; mechanized war caravan steaming up north with Marauder auxilliaries and loads of shackled slaves in tow; Daemonsmith freak show (think Hellcannon and K’daii insanity but writ over a whole army); deep miners who drill down through bedrock to get at lava, sporting drill engine Iron Daemons, lava golems and sorcerers surfing on lava waves (by Malorndk); airship flotilla; an expeditionary force long thought lost in a distant land returning with hardened veterans and exotic trophies and perhaps strange beasts and odd weapons of war taken from foreign enemies (Will Liam?); cruel beastmasters with a whipped menagerie of warhounds and monsters; outcast sect, e.g. dragon-worshipping heretics or grotesquely mutated Hashut-forsaken Chaos Dwarfs herded by embittered preachers; Chaos Dwarfs sworn to any of the Great Four (heresy!); or something else entirely.
Also, Grimstonefire’s Brotherhood of Hashut is directly relevant here:
Brotherhood of Hashut
Collectively all those devoting their lives to worship are part of the Brotherhood of Hashut, though theorising over the exact nature of Hashuts protection has split the Chaos Dwarfs into many different cults. It was when the Coven of Seven was first called together at the Great Feast of Hashut and their dark road was set before them that this division occurred.
Cult of the Bull
Baelath was a Sorcerer Lord of great standing when he was called to the Great Feast. Having trained for many years as an Immortal, it was late in life he turned to the path of the Brotherhood. His great strength, natural leadership, and roaring voice earning him much respect as he rose through the ranks to become a fearsome High Sorcerer. To him Hashut was represented as an immense bull, whose thundering steps would crush their enemies into the dust. The most powerful cult amongst the Brotherhood, this cult personifies Hashut as a gigantic flaming bull, whose ferocity protects them from the perils of Chaos. They look upon the image of the bull as highly important, and those so shaped as being the blessed children of Hashut. The Brothers of this cult tend to be the most aggressive on the battlefield, in an attempt to bring the rewards of their God.
Cult of Vengeance
Astrogoth is the founder and current leader of the Cult of Vengeance. He is ancient beyond reckoning, but the fires of vengeance burning within him are as strong as they ever were. Perhaps it was that Hashut recognised in him the spirit of a dark avenging angel, for the vision he received was to exact vengeance for all the wrongs done to the Dawi Zharr as a race. Brothers of this cult are amongst the most knowledgeable on all the ancient wrongs and blood grudges that have ever been recorded deep within the Vaults at Zharr Naggrund. On the battlefield they smite all enemies with the utmost hatred, roaring oaths, warcries and battle prayers as they exact their deadly vengeance.
Cult of Darkness
Tashub was an aloof and solitary High Sorcerer, dark in demeanour and often wearing robes of the purest black. After receiving his vision from Hashut, he retired to the deepest libraries for many decades. When he at last emerged from the depths, the brothers of the Cult of Darkness he had been guiding stood at his side. Brotherhood members of this cult view Hashut as the personification of darkness itself that will reign eternal when the world falls in shadow and flame. They prey to Hashut to unlock the secrets of dark magic to them, so that they may protect their race in the fall of the world. The Brothers of this cult spend much greater amounts of time studying ancient magical tomes than most other cults, and often have more sorcerers amongst their number as a result.
Cult of the Eternal Fire
Razheph was already well known as the most devout of Priests to Hashut when his calling came, and inspired by their founder the Brothers of this cult are often the most fanatical in their worship. Seeing the peril of their race, they believe it can only be saved if they undertake their duty to provide slaves to the burning pits of Hashut with zeal unmatched. Brothers of this cult will be those most often away from the safety of Zharr Naggrund fighting in slave raids.
Cult of Damnation
Molach was well known to be a fearful High Sorcerer, who knew more about the ancient prophesies of doom than any other Chaos Dwarf alive. When summoned to the Great Feast, the darkest fears he had long dwelled upon were shown to him by Hashut. Thus was founded the Cult of Damnation, its members forever to be known as prophets of doom who know far more about the dark prophesies of the future than any Chaos Dwarf should. The mournful dirge and strange rituals of this Cult have been known to bring low many a besieged town, occasionally whilst the Brothers have simply been engaging in prayer preparing themselves for the coming battle.
Cult of the Great Devourer
Pazazzu was one of the very rare High Sorcerers who had previously been trained as an Arcane Engineer. Brothers of this cult are usually found working in the Forges when they are not deep in prayer. They believe that anything and everything that can be consumed to save their race must be consumed, even if this at times appears self destructive. Their beliefs have set them at odds with many Dawi Zharr, who tend to jealously guard their possessions and only donate them for the greater good when pressed to do so.
Cult of Subjugation
For his insolence, Hanbeh was forever to be represented by the bound slave. The members of this cult are the most unusual of all the Brotherhood, for theirs is the seemingly impossible task given to them by Hashut; to force slaves to be ‘willing’ sacrifices. As a result, they are renowned as torturers of the greatest skills, and will often use magical trickery to achieve their goal. On the battlefield they are heard reciting liturgies to those enemies they have wounded, and carry many books and torturing tools with them to war.
And now for a tangent (I’d put this in spoiler tags if I could): As to great freedom for cooking up one’s very own stuff in Age of Sigmar, most certainly! It’s far from difficult to do likewise in the Warhammer world (in fact Games Workshop has always been good at creating expansive settings for people to tell their own stories in), but the comparative boundlessness in AoS do have some advantages: I’d recommend people to read Uther the Unhinged’s creation story
for an example of something brilliant homebrewed, which would be difficult to fit into the Old World without chafing.
These two broad approaches to world-building here, say freer/less limited planeswalking on the one hand (as in AoS), and a traditional delineated/limited detailed world on the other (as in WHFB ), makes me think of Yin and Yang.
The traditional, more grounded format (which still allows for craziness, and was ever used for such) allows for a wealth of detailed background to dive into and create stories around, while the generic themes and historical parallells intentionally built into the Warhammer World certainly helps make the setting tick and come to life. Yet the limits that appeal are also the limits that restrict own creativity: It’s sometimes hard to fit some wild, big new idea, and most particularly wild new story development, into the setting without chafing. The inherent danger of this kind of setting is boringly stifling stagnation.
The more open planeswalking approach allows for an immense degree of freedom to craft your own background without being too restricted by what has come before. Whole mighty kingdoms can easily be invented; taken to rise through widescale conflict deciding the fate of vast swathes of mortal living space; and then fall dramatically with the sweep of a keyboard, without chafing. Yet the boundlessness that appeals is also the boundlessness that restrict immersion: It’s sometimes hard to relate to the shifting openess and find that sense of grounded, detailed background with parallells to generic or historical stuff, that helps make the wild stuff tick. The inherent danger of this kind of setting is senseless bewilderment through sheer randomness.
There are merits and drawbacks with both approaches, and in practice they’re not Mazdaean polar opposites. Those who stick to one type of setting still can glean some lessons from the other kind: E.g. the fantastical planeswalk worldbuilding can teach writers of the traditional type of setting to dare shake things up a bit with imaginative stuff like cities built on the backs of petrified titans and otherworldly things that truly bring something exotic to bear, without sacrificing the groundedness. While, as another example, the writers of a brave new planeswalking world can take notes from traditional settings, to introduce some mapped limits, at least in some areas, with a higher and more grounded detail level in the background (yet be more prepared to sacrifice them wholesale for wild story developments than traditional settings would be), while still leaving much of the setting open for exploration and wild rides of the imagination. I think this is starting to happen a bit in AoS, by the way.
Both ways of building a fictive world may not always appeal to the same kind of people, but they’re not mutually exclusive: As an instant and committed fan to the traditional, more limited and mapped approach to historically based fantasy (go Tolkien!), there are nevertheless loads of good concepts I’ve glimpsed in the still-young setting of Age of Sigmar; thrilling ideas of oil-platform oceanic Chaos Dwarfs and daring ideas for fantastical cities from official quarters, and some brilliant homebrew background from hobbyists such as Uther the Unhinged. It’s well possible to engage in both settings if one happen to like both.
There are great ideas to be had for both settings, and especially for something as wacky as Chaos Dwarfs they often overlap, so that one concept can be used in both worlds.
So bring on the crazy army ideas.