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Proliferation of WAR ~ Mordheim

The City of the Damned. Mordheim’s foul ruins are a blight on the Empire; its name a foul curse. What was once the preeminent city of the Empire is now a cluster of ominous ruins, with the ground underneath teeming with Skaven while the streets above are the territory of bandits and the undead. Life has been stricken from this once vibrant city, now it is a place of ill boding, a festering wound within the Empire.

In a time long past, Mordheim was a center of culture and trade for the Empire. While other major cities further to the west like Altdorf, Nuln, and Averheim  were also of prominence, Mordheim held sway in the north-east. What was once the capital of Ostermark, a densely populated and agriculturally rich province, Mordheim was in many ways the center of the Empire. Prior centuries had seen strife reign across the Empire, with the most recent being the Greenskin invasion led by Gorbad Ironclaw which left Nuln and Averheim razed to the ground and Aldorf shattered by a lengthy siege. Thus Mordheim rose to prominence with its grand library (the largest in the Empire in its day), a prestigious university, and the seat of the Colleges of Magic.

Religion also had its place in Mordheim with the prominent Temple of Sigmar, and the Temple of Morr attending to the needs of the poor. Also of note, located in Mordheim was the Convent of the Sisters of Sigmar – a place where nobles sent their unwanted daughters to learn to ‘become better members of society’. Their convent, located upon a outcrop of rock in the River Stir, was simply known as ‘The Rock’ and from here the Sisters of Sigmar tended to the needs of those society had abandoned. But religion was to have a far greater role to play in Mordheim’s future…

In the Imperial year 1999 astronomers spotted a twin-tailed comet over the city of Mordheim. This omen attributed to Sigmar was heralded across the Empire as a sign of his return. In the prior years the Empire had descended into civil war. With no Emperor on the seat, the people of the Empire sought solace where they could find it, and salvation was to be found in Mordheim. From all over the Empire people flocked to Mordheim to welcome to return of Sigmar and over the year the population of Mordheim exploded. However, as the year went on and the flocks of people who had come to Mordheim began to grow bored, they sought other pursuits to break the monotony of waiting for the return of Sigmar; and so Mordheim descended into debauchery. Demons in the forms of men began to wander the streets and tempt men to commit vile deeds. The Sisters of Sigmar tried to guide people back onto the rightful path of Sigmar, but to little avail. Finally on New Years Eve of 1999 the twin-tailed comet descended upon Mordheim, but it did not mark the return of Sigmar, instead it crashed into the town and obliterated all those at and near the impact site.

Some say the comet was Sigmar’s judgement passed upon the city for its decadent behavior, irregardless the year 2000 marked a new page in the history of Mordheim. The comet had actually been a large rock of warpstone, the largest concentration known, and this fact quickly led to the Skaven descending upon the city to mine the mineral. As the Skaven dug below the city, necromancers from Slyvania animated the dead to rise and terrorize the living. Gangs of bandits roamed the streets, some self-organized, others as thugs hired by other Counts. Much of the town began to grow ill and die, those who didn’t fled to refugee settlements on the outskirts of the town. In short, the all the inhabitants of Mordheim either died or fled – all save for the Sisters of Sigmar.

Now almost 1500 years later Mordheim still lays in ruins, with no life within its walls, and little life stirring in the forest around it, Dead Wood. But a dark force is descending upon the town, a town which few living dare set foot in. The Harbingers of Tzeentch are marching towards the city with a small powerful force, and the Sisters of Sigmar have raised the alarm across the Empire. It is not a matter of defending Mordheim, as most would rather erase the city from their memory, it is a matter of halting whatever foul plot Tchar’zanek is scheming. The Harbingers of Tzeentch have begun to arrive in the north-east concentrating at Death’s Advance warcamp. Foul forces have already gone to work transforming the Raven Barracks, which were once the home of the city’s elite private army, into a monument fit for the Raven Host – the name seemed all too fitting. Alerted of the oncoming threat, the Order of the Griffon has rallied regiments from the southern provinces to gather at the Bastion of Light warcamp, while the truest bastion against the darkness that exists in Mordheim is still the Rock situated on the River Stir.

Although in ruins, Mordheim still inspires awe and shows signs of the great city it was. Situated north of the River Stir and surrounded by the forest Dead Wood, Mordheim is ringed by an imposing wall fit for its times of strife and war. The massive wall opens at four points giving outsides access into the city – three gates within Ostermark on the west, north, and east sides, and the south gate consisting of a massive bridge crossing the Stir fortified on both ends by stalwart bastions. Off of each gate refugee settlements sprang – most consisting of slums of vagabonds and thieves, but the southern settlement, the Black Bit Settlement is noted for having ‘good hearted Empire folk’.

The town itself is divided into four districts, with the central point of the town being the Count Gottard Plaza, the founder of Mordheim, and its grand clock tower overlooking the plaza – a novel invention of its age. The south-eastern district was known as the Merchant’s Quarter with three key features. Trade was very important for the growth of a city, and the two key trading points of Mordheim were its Quayside along the river, and the Merchant Square near the Count Gottard Plaza. The most prominent among the features, however, is the Rupert von Endon Amphitheater which towers above the surrounding structures. While trade is crucial for a large city, entertainment also holds great value; when the two are married together the rich get richer and the poor stay happy! The Amphitheater was an arena for martial combat where slaves and warriors combated each other not only for the merriment of the crowd, but to the winner a sizable pouch of coins.

The north-eastern district was the Academics Quarter. Located here was the Constabulary, the local tax-payed city guard, which kept peace amongst the merchants and the scholars. However, the three primary structures which dominated this district were the Colleges of Magic, the University of Mordheim, and the Library of Mordheim. Separating the three was an oasis for poets and thinkers alike – the Steinhardt Memorial Gardens, founded by Count Steinhardt in an attempt to keep the masses pleased in his tight-fisted rule.

To the north-west was Mordheim’s lavish Rich Quarter – an area of lavish estates and manors. Protecting the noble elite of Mordheim was the private army housed atop a hill at the Raven Barracks, which was well supplied by the privately funded armor and stables nearby. Here Count Steinhardt built his grand palace amongst well-bred society, a palace to dwarf their manors. Keeping the rich hearts and coin-purses near to heart was the Temple of Sigmar, located within the Rich Quarter, but near enough to the Poor Quarter to not raise outcry. Fate however had it that the twin-tailed comet was destined to punish the most decadent of those within Mordheim – the rich, as the comet crashed directly into the Rich Quarter obliterating a third of the manors as they sunk into a vast crater.

Lastly in the south-west lay the refuse of society, the Poor Quarter. These flea infested slums were an unfortunate effect of urbanized society, but they served their purpose. Lining the fringes of the Poor Quarter and isolating it from the other more well-to-do segments of population were various taverns and trade inns. Along the main road from the Quayside was Wench Alley, a portion of the Poor Quarter bathed in red lanterns and known for its prostitutes. Centrally located in the Poor District was the Executioner’s Square, a constant reminder to the poor of their place in society. Those of the poor who were not destined for execution often found their way into the cells of the Goul, an imposing prison looming above the Poor District casting its shadow upon the hopes of the poor. Atop a hill opposite the Goul was the Temple of Morr and situated between the two structures was the St. Voller Cemetary. Where the priests of Morr tended to the poor in death, the Sisters of Sigmar, located at their convent on The Rock, tended to the poor in life. Either way, the Poor District isolated the wretches of society and tended to their needs enough to keep them happy and healthy, but left the shadow of death and punishment loom over them as to quell any aspirations of grandeur.

Mordheim, once a vibrant city, now a shadow of its former past. The stench of death clings to its walls and despair floods its streets. But in the Age of Reckoning the forces of Chaos seek to disturb this cursed city; to what ends it is unknown. Where there was once life, there is now death, but death has a strange way of revisiting its lairs. Who will meet death in the streets of the damned?

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