The Cosmos Arcane is the overarching universe that encompasses the entire setting of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. It is bound by aetheric links and is notably composed of the Aetheric Void and the various Realmspheres.[1a][1b]
- For more information see: Aetheric Void
Realmspheres are spheres of reality, coalescing and breaking apart within the Aetheric Void.[1b] After the destruction of the World-That-Was, various kinds of magic formed new realities of near-infinite scope and grandeur by clustering together, crystallising and combining with nebulae, cosmic dust and debris of the cataclysmic end of the world.[3a]
Foremost amongst them are the Realmspheres formed by the eight winds of magic, for kindred energies are attracted to one another by cosmic law. The Realmspheres thus created became host to the eight Mortal Realms, the largest realms in the Cosmos Arcane.[1b][1c]
The Mortal Realms are:
Realm of Chaos
- For more information see: Realm of Chaos
The Realm of Chaos, also known as the Realm of the Dark Gods is a dimension of magic and raw emotions that feeds on the Mortal Realms. It is a nightmarish hellscape beyond that of the eight Mortal Realms where the most terrible nightmares are given shape and form. Trespassers are devoured, grotesquely transformed or damned for all eternity.[3d][4c]
This infernal plane is ruled by the Ruinous Powers, each with their own dominion, who can reshape mortals by transforming their bodies, minds and souls. It's from here that Chaos draws strength necessary to lay siege to the other realms, from the fell magic of the sorcerers and witches of Chaos to the abhorrent mutations of the Chaos corrupted that are manifestations of the malevolent power of this realm. It is inhabited by the Daemons of Chaos, who can take form and persist without being limited by a need for hosts, sacrifices or arcane rituals.[3d]
In certain places the Realm of Chaos straddles reality giving it easy access to the Mortal Realms. Many of the Realmgates of the Mortal Realms have been corrupted by Chaos' influence, replacing their original destination so they now lead to some part of the Realm of Chaos. The metaphysical position of Blight City allows Skaven to gnaw reality and create Gnawholes, portals through which they can spread their kind. Slaanesh's claims to the extreme at the Realm's Edge has lead these surreal landscapes to lead directly to the Dark Prince's domain.[3a][3d][4a]
Beyond the main powers of Chaos lie blighted wastelands, where darkness and horror with an infinity variety of forms lies. It is in these places that the lowest Daemons lurk, unaligned manifestations of Chaos itself.[3d]
- For more information see: Grand Alliance of Order
The forces of Order use innovative technology, arcane skill and raw courage to protect their civilizations and way of life against those who would want to tear them down. Most are servants of the God-King Sigmar or of one of his fellow deities from the Pantheon of Order. Others however serve Order for their own sinister goals or their people's agendas. However all forces of Order are united in their hatred for the Dark Gods, even to the point where they can raze entire cities because of the slightest hint of Chaos corruption. Order is the shield of the Mortal Realms against the forces of Chaos.[19a]
Order is a loose alliance of the free peoples, like Humans, Aelves and Duardin, with free will, autonomy and a desire to create rather than destroy. These are supported by staunch defenders of law, like the Stormcast Eternals, and exotic forces like the Seraphon and the Sylvaneth.[19a]
- For more information see: Grand Alliance of Chaos
The Dark Gods are a pantheon of primeval forces, the nature of mortals reflected back on itself, that seek to conquer all of reality, including the Mortal Realms. They send forth their Daemonic legions to achieve that objective. From their mortal servants they demand that they walk the Path to Glory and to triumph over their foes. To fail is to become damned to a fate worse than death. Archaon the Everchosen, their favoured warlord, is their herald in the realms and leads vasts armies in their name.[18a]
The armies of Chaos display an anarchic diversity in their servants. Most prominent are the armies of corrupted, mutated, malcontent and mad mortals, many of whom believe to have been abandoned by the gods of Order during the Age of Chaos. There are also other mortals, like the Beastmen, animalistic savages who indulge in their base desires, or the rat-like Skaven, who pursue their own goals in the depths until the time they will claim all of creation for their own. The most powerful of the servants of Chaos are Daemons, the dark manifestations of the power of the Gods of Chaos.[18a][18b]
- For more information see: Grand Alliance of Death
The Great Necromancer Nagash rules over all the dead from his palace in the underworlds of Realm of Shyish. The Undying King sends his undead legions to do his bidding, to hunt down all souls that have evaded his eternal grasp. Nagash stands above all undead and beneath him all are bound to his will.[19d]
The armies of Death are not inconvenienced by the needs of mortals, like breath, food, sleep or companionship. There are the mindless legions of lurching Skeletons and ravenous corpse-beasts that parody the living. Malignants are dangerous and hard to destroy ghosts of the dead whose real power lies in their familiarity, stark reminders that there is no peace to be found in death. The Vampires of the Soulblight dynasties are the aristocrats of the underworlds, who rule the empires of Death. The Ossiarch Bonereapers are the most organized and orderly of the forces of Death. The Mordants of the Flesh-Eater Courts are the remnants of nations who have become delusional cannibals out of desperation and now serve the Abhorrents, the vampire descendants of the Carrion King.[19a][19b][19d][19g][19h]
- For more information see: Grand Alliance of Destruction
The hordes of Destruction are like a force of nature that seeks to please their belligerent deity, Gorkamorka. Once allied with Order, they now rampage throughout the Mortal Realms in an unstoppable wave of savagery, attacking at the slightest provocation for the sheer joy of combat, despoiling, defiling and reducing all into dust wherever they go to sate their primal need for violence.[19c]
The armies of Destruction consist of Greenskins, migratory Ogors, towering Gargants and other mighty beasts. The Orruks go on unstoppable crusades known as Waaagh!s that are both a natural disaster and an organized threat. The Grots are spiteful and violent greenskins that bond with their enviroment on a primal level and are led by the most daring, spiritual or bonkers of their kind. The nomadic Ogors and their followers are closely knit groups that continuously wander the realms in an unending search for meat and new and exciting flavours. Gargants follow armies for fresh meat, payment, or in a competition with their own kind by crushing all opposition underfoot so they can inherit the title of the World-Titan.[19c][19e][19f]
- For more information see: Deity
Deities are powerful entities who derive their power from the belief of their worshippers in them. They are not omniscient and to influence and use their power on the realms a small presence is required, be it their direct presence or be it of their worshippers. Such is their power that there are many tales in the Mortal Realms that tell of the clashes of the gods and powerful monsters that have changed the landscape of the realms. Amongst them are the tales of Sigmar's travels through the early history, how he won against these monsters and gods, built civilizations and the lessons he imparted.[15c]
Each deity has their own method of worship, their own shrines and way of showing devotion to them, especially in combat. It is the desire to serve and believe in the gods that drives many of his people. Even those who dedicate themselves to a single deity pay homage to other deities. Many can see the direct results of worship and some even meet their gods so nobody doubts their existence - though many, especially after the Age of Chaos are distrustful of them and don't want to worship them. Many of those still leave offerings to them in difficult times, for even if they don't like them, their power is real. Still, when people knows their deity is real and it doesn't answer their prayers, that can turn faith into doubt, and then to hatred. The countless demands to the gods across the Cosmos Arcane divide their attention and leave many prayers unanswered.[15c]
Many of the greatest heroes and villains of the realms are the champions of the gods. Despite their immense powers the gods cannot be everywhere, blessing a few of their mortal followers here and there with a small part of their power - turning them into the so-called Blessed, who can channel the divine power of their patron gods into miracles. In exchange these acts bolster the faith of their believers and return to the deities far greater power than they expended. However, this closer relationship with the gods doesn't grant their champions divine insight and they must decipher the cryptic and obscure omens and hints the gods give them.[15c]
- For more information see: Magic
Magic is raw eldritch energy that permeates the Mortal Realms, each a crystallization of raw magical energies and the remains of the World-That-Was, and an embodiment of one of the eight Lores of Magic. Winds, rocks, earth, wood and water have motes of magical energy in them. This energy is made up by different component energies, each embodied by a specific, dominant 'colour', or the elemental characteristic of magic. Despite that, all realms share faint traces of magic of the other lores and it is said that many other strange and unknowable lores of magic exist in the realms.[15d]
Every species understands magic in their own way, that the realms themselves are partly made of it and that this power can be harnessed and shaped. Those that know how to manipulate the arcane can tap and direct this energy, using ancient words of power, mystic gestures and their wills. Those who are able to use this power have countless names, like wizards, witches, warlocks, mages and sorcerers and those who are born with the ability to perceive magic are said to have the Witch-Sight. It is a practice that requires years of study in order to learn how to harness and shape the fabric of reality. The spellcasters across the realms are continuously researching, studying and crafting new spells, by modifying an existing spell, recreating a lost spell or creating an entirely original one. This power has a myriad of uses, from accelerating healing, masking their presence, controlling minds or creating destructive blasts.[15d]
Resolve and focus is required to direct these arcane energies, something that becomes easier with practice. Even a single mistake can end the life of the wielder of magic, or worse, create thaumaturgical catastrophes, like the Endless Spells, pure manifestations of predatory magic in all its destructive force. Even beyond that, the power and the insatiable need for knowledge are dangerously seductive. Many satisfy this desire by exploring esoteric and blasphemous lores that are not meant for the sane, peering into the shadows of the Aetheric Void or end up succumbing to the whispers of the Dark Powers.[15d]
There are other ways of accessing magic, i.e. without casting spells, like the runecrafting of the Duardin or by channelling primordial powers, like the Sylvaneth, Ogors and Orruks do. One can also tap into Realmstone, the raw magical energy in physical form, the most valuable material in the realms. Just one piece of it can create great arcane feats or powerful artefacts. It is one of the cornerstones of commerce across the realms, though many see it as cursed, as madness, mutations and misfortune strike those who use or traffic it.[15d]
Before the Ages
- For more information see: Before the Ages
The magic of the Mortal Realms spread from the end of the World-That-Was, exploding through the cosmos, before coalescing back together in the Aetheric Void forming Realmspheres. Within these Realmspheres, magic started to crystallise and to form landscapes. Some conserved remnants of the broken World-That-Was came to settle in these landscapes, like the Spear of Mallus and the Oak of Ages Past.
Many of the inhabitants of the Mortal Realms are the descendants of the survivors of the World-That-Was that managed to reach these realities. When Sigmar arrived the realms were covered in the dew of creation yet much was already ancient with fractured kingdoms and portals between the realms. Dracothion found Sigmar hanging upon the core of the World-That-Was, Mallus, and set the remains upon the Firmament.
Age of Myth
- For more information see: Age of Myth
The Age of Myth started when Sigmar awoke from drifting in the void and explored each of the Eight Realms, overcoming monstrous beasts and finding enclaves of primitive humans. Sigmar taught these enclaves many things and in turn they worshipped him. Within a few generations these hunters wielding flint-tipped weapons ceased wandering and erected great cities. Sigmar would eventually come to find and awaken many other gods.
These gods were grateful to have been awoken or saved, pledging to aid Sigmar and the nascent civilizations and creating a brief utopia. This utopia was challenged many times by Chaos but the strong union of the people and their gods repulsed these invasions. Only when the Great Alliance failed did Chaos manage to get a foothold in the Mortal Realms and the Age of Chaos began.
The true history of this age has long been lost. Facts and tales of this era are difficult to discern, as myths and legends are most of what remains. The glory of that age can still be glimpsed through those relics and ruins that weren't destroyed by the followers of Chaos or hidden away by the gods.
Age of Chaos
- For more information see: Age of Chaos
The Age of Chaos began when Sigmar's Great Alliance faltered to betrayal and Chaos managed to establish a foothold in the Mortal Realms. So devastating were the first invasions that they would later become known as the Red Century. Great armies were raised to fight off Chaos but they lacked the union to succeed, as none of these powers trusted each other out of fear for further betrayal.
Even though the Chaos God Slaanesh was missing, the united forces of the other Chaos Gods conquered the realms, destroying empires, cities, civilizations and annihilating their histories overnight. Under Chaos the realms returned to their savage states, filled with cruelty, enslavement and despair and erasing enlightenment. So complete was their dominion over the realms that the forces of Chaos began to fight amongst themselves for the spoils of their victories.
Halfway through this age the enemies of Chaos suffered disastrous defeats and Sigmar lost Ghal Maraz, his hammer carrying a portion of his divine power. Sigmar retreated to the Celestial Realm and sealed the Gates of Azyr, retiring to his celestial palace-city and was not seen again for centuries. The only great city to survive through this age was Azyrheim, sheltering many refugees from besieged realms, and its gate was the last of Azyr to close.
Age of Sigmar
- For more information see: Age of Sigmar
The Age of Sigmar started when Sigmar, after centuries of preparation and marshalling his strength, sent his Stormcast Eternals all across the Mortal Realms to wage war on the forces of Chaos. Every available warrior chamber of the Stormcast was sent to secure the Realmgates, an event that became known as the Realmgate Wars.
The Stormcast sought alliances with the besieged armies, seeking to reunite the old alliance from the Age of Myth, and a strong unified front across every region of the Mortal Realms against Chaos was born. The Chaos Gods, realising that total victory had escaped them, sent countless reinforcements from the Realm of Chaos to fight against the unified front that resisted their complete dominance.
As Nagash finished his ritual many omens and vision plagued the realms, a period of time called the Time of Tribulations. All the Grand Alliances sent forces to Nagashizzar to stop him and eventually his ritual would be disrupted by Skaven.
- 1: Age of Sigmar: Core Book (2nd Edition)
- 2: Malign Sorcery - Magic Unending, pg. 18-19
- 3: Soulbound Core Rulebook
- 4: Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh (2021)
- 5: Season of War pdf
- 6: White Dwarf November 2020 - pg. 10-13
- 7: Warcry: Harbingers of Destruction, pg. 2
- 8: Warcry: Sentinels of Order, pg. 2
- 9: White Dwarf Issue 75 of 4 July 2015 - The Nine Realms
- 10: White Dwarf Issue 76 of 11 July 2015 - Codex: Apocrypha
- 11: A Traveller's Guide to the Mortal Realms
- 12: Battletome: Gloomspite Gitz (2019) - Ages of Loonacy, pg. 16-19
- 13: Age of Sigmar website - Faction section
- 14: Mighty Battles - The Great Epochs
- 15: Soulbound Core Rulebook
- 16: Malign Portents
- 17: The Realmgate Wars: Quest for Ghal Maraz - The Oak of Ages Past, pg. 129-132
- 18: Warcry: Agents of Chaos
- 19: Soulbound: Bestiary