After several games, I’ve finally A) got a list I like, B) bought the models for it, and C) started painting! To celebrate this amazing achievement, I thought I should write up my army background… and vow to stop making comments like ‘By Hashut’s strangely alluring man-titties!’.
The Tower of B’hrak Kzaar:
In a realm known by men as the Forest of Horrors, many worlds collide. Elven Corsairs raid the men and goblins who dwell in this region, and foul Necromancers and unholy Vampires stirr up the slain to fuel their own dreams of conquest. Ever are these threats met with force; rank upon rank of Hobgoblin spearmen, supported by archers who darken the skies with their salvos. These defenders are not raised for the sake of greenskin comradery, however; they rise at the bidding of their Dawi-Zharr masters.
Known to men as the Abyssal Forge, B’hrak Kzaar was founded by Hashut’s servants long ago to serve two goals; the first was to monitor and control passage through the region, the second to discover why there was so much of it. The thick forests were said to conceal edritch secrets, and skeptical as they were, even the Chaos Dwarfs could not deny there were many weird and warped beasts found in this damned place.
The Tower is, in many respects, Zharr Naggrund in miniature; its Chaos Dwarf population is relatively small, with most of the work performed by slaves. The priesthood rule the Tower with an iron fist, their will enforced by the Obsidian Guard and the warrior caste who swear fealty to them.
Grazkhrad Taurblood - High Priest of Hashut:
Grazkhrad is the supreme ruler of the Tower, and a truly terrifying individual. Though not as physically imposing as many members of the warrior caste, Grazkhrad makes up for this via manipulation of arcane forces. He is the master of fire, able to channel the raw fury of the winds of magic in spectacular and devastating ways. During his rise to power, Grazkhrad found ways to enhance his already considerable abilities whilst leading expeditions into the Forest of Horrors and the surrounding wastelands. The first of these was a humble looking staff that, after much study, proved capable of augmenting the Priest’s abilities. This was demonstrated on enemies without and within the Tower. The second relic was forged for the High Priest by the Daemonsmiths of the Tower as a symbol of their loyalty; a black talisman of obsidian that deadens the arcane abilities of any wizard Grazkhrad focuses his will toward. Shortly after its forging, several Priests within the tower mysterious died, leaving only a lingering smell of burnt hair and suspiciously large piles of ash to mark their passing. Those who remained were quick to confirm their loyalty to Grazkhrad Taurblood.
The Obsidian Guard:
The warriors of the Obsidian Guard are the personal bodyguard of Grazkhrad Taurblood. They dwell within the upper spire of the Tower, directly below the Great Temple of Hashut itself. Entry to the temple and, by extension, the living quarters of the Priesthood is only possible by first travelling through the Obsidian Halls where the Guard reside; a journey that even those with good and lawful buisness avoid when possible.
Only the greatest of warriors are invited to join the Obsidian Guard, and it is an honour none would ever refuse. To be a member of the Obsidian Guard is to open the door to wealth and power few can ever dream of; a Guard who serves for a hundred years is automatically granted dominion over one of the Tower’s great forges and placed at the head of his own personal clan. Though many die in battle, or even old age before achieving this goal (the Priesthood can be very choosy about who is worthy of the Obsidian Guard), the promise of instant and unchallenged power is reward enough to keep the aspirants coming.
The Obsidian Guard do not have a fixed uniform as such. Instead, the Obisidian Guard seek to equip themselves with the finest weapons and armour they can afford, and given their status they can certainly do better than most. However, with each man equipping themselves, there is always variation; some march to war in ancestral armour, others in uniquely forged Blackshard armour, whilst others still use stolen Gromril. Those who cannot afford the services of a Daemonsmith, and must thus content themselves with iron platemail, are mocked by their peers and looked upon as ‘lesser’ Guards. However, anyone outside the order who mocks such a man will quickly find themselves subject to the fury of the entire Obsidian Guard, for to insult one is to insult them all, their masters and, by extension, Hashut himself.
The Warrior Caste:
The fastest way to gain wealth and power within the Tower is to be a part of the warrior caste. Like the Chaos Dwarf domain as a whole, the Tower constantly needs more slaves to labour in its forges and foundaries, and it is the warrior caste who is responsible for acquiring them.
Most warriors belong to a Warrior Clan. These are households founded by powerful and influential Dawi-Zharr, many of whom were former Obsidian Guard, and are amongst the few groups outside the Priesthood allowed to own land. In return, each Clan must provide a steady income of slaves, as well as fighting men for any other task the Priests deem worthy.
In battle, most warrior clans favour the use of two handed axes or hammers, and typically wear heavy bronze armour. The exact nature of each warriors gear can vary greatly, even within an individual clan, as it is determined by what the warrior’s benefactor can afford, or simply feels appropriate to provide. Individual soldiers who are not part of a clan are typically less well off than their rivals, and thus will usually sport inferior gear.
Warriors with ties to the Daemonsmiths, or simply those with an inordinate amount of money, may find themselves part of a Blunderbussier regiment. The raw fury of a formed block of Blunderbuss is a truly awesome sight, and those on the receiving end rarely survive to speak of it to their allies. The competition to become a Blunderbussier is fierce indeed, and there is considerable speculation about just how accidental many accidents within the weapon foundaries really are…
Hobgoblins form the first line of defence for the Tower and the surrounding lands. Recruited for battle with the promise of fine food (by Hobgoblin standards), considerable wealth (by Hobgoblin standards) and a very detailed description of what might happen if they don’t volunteer, these malicious goblinoids are an ever present threat to any who travel in the region.
The Tower Hobgoblins are distinguishable from their ‘feral’ counterparts primarily by way of equipment. Most Hobgoblins go into battle armed with a bow, allowing them to kill from a distance and, in theory, giving them plenty of time to run away when things turn ugly. However, those favoured by the Tower are issued with a shield, spear and basic armour, more often than not scrounged from the dead of previous battles. They are also remarkably well drilled by Greenskin standards, and are renowned for only needing to be told an order twice! The natural cowardice of the Hobgoblin is countered within the spear regiments by the promise of Immunity; should a raiding band fail to acquire sufficient slaves, they will invariably make up the difference from their Hobgoblin allies. Those favoured by the Tower are never culled in this manner, so long as they hold the line in battle and do as commanded. That is not to say they are particularly cared for by their masters; the Chaos Dwarfs will happily sacrifice entire regiments of Hobgoblins to achieve their goals.
When the Chaos Dwarfs march from the Tower, the bulk of their Hobgoblin auxiliaries will be called forth from whatever tribes happen to live nearby. Though not all Hobgoblins are truly loyal to the Tower, the tribes learned long ago that any who defy the call are swiftly overwhelmed by the Chaos Dwarfs, and thus there is never any shortage of Hobgoblins within the Tower armies.
Though rarely seen on the battlefield, the Daemonsmith’s creations most certainly are. Most common of these are the Death Rockets, as well as some of the more exotic weapons and armour sported by the warrior elite. Their war engines are entrusted only to those who prove themselves worthy of their use, and even then it takes a certain frame of mind to volunteer for such a duty. Being stone deaf and covered in burn scars is, presumably, optional.
Politically, the Daemonsmiths stand somewhat apart from the normal heirarchy. Their knowledge of binding Chaos energy to otherwise mundane machinery makes them very powerful, but with no resources of their own they must ever beg and borrow from others. Most of the time the Daemonsmiths go unseen; hazy, armoured figures stomping through smoke filled smithies and barking orders at their slaves. Occasionally, one will venture forth into the sunlight long enough to hand over a creation, mutter something incomprehensible about ‘safe operating protocols’ and vanish back into their dens before anyone can work out what they meant.
Exactly how one becomes a Daemonsmith is something of a mystery to other members of the Tower. Sometimes a child will go missing and the Daemonsmiths will be blamed, but nothing is ever proven. Some travel to the Tower from Zharr Naggrund or another Chaos Dwarf realm, and likewise others depart at irregular intervals. In general, they simply seem to exist, never speaking of who they are, what they do or why they do it. For most, these questions can happily go unanswered, so long as the Daemonsmiths continue to supply them with weaponry.