Grand Alliance of Death
The Grand Alliance of Death are the armies of undead and mortals that follow the dark commands of Nagash, the Supreme Lord of the Undead. Their purpose is to kill the living imposing the order of the dead upon all the mortal realms, and not just Shyish, the Realm of Death. These armies are numberless, brought to undeath from tombs to the corpse-mounds of ancient battles. All types of undead creatures can be found under his service like the skeletal Deathrattle warriors, the rotting corpses of Deadwalkers and the spectral wraiths and shades that haunt the realms.
Nagash is the Supreme Lord of the Undead and the self-proclaimed master of Shyish. Thousands of years prior to the demise of the World-that-Was, he had mastered the dark art of necromancy and it is claimed that Nagash himself is the progenitor of the morbid craft. Ultimately, every undead creature that haunts the Mortal Realms is his to control, whether they wish it or otherwise. There was a time when the Pantheon of Order nominally employed this power in their service, though even the Great Necromancer schemed for sole domination of the realms. Now the armies of the dead are set intractably against the living, Nagash's ambition writ large in atrocities committed by his minions.[2a]
Nagash rules from the sepulchral citadel of Nagashizzar, located at the bottom of the soul-sucking void known as the Shyish Nadir, and it is from there Nagash and his Mortarchs plot to cast down the nations of the living. In their place, they would raise an unchanging empire solely under the control of the Great Necromancer, a 'necrotopia' in which concepts such as free will and emotion would be forgotten. In doing so, Nagash would starve his fellow deities of worship, leaving him the sole power in the cosmos.[2a]
Morathi, when speaking to the Grand Conclave of Hammerhal to convince them to act against Nagash during the Time of Tribulations, she defines the goal of Death, or at least Nagash's, to them. His goal is undeath and for the realms to be reshaped in his image. That everything should be a clockwork machine of bone, sinew and magic that only obeys him. And that he is just as dangerous as the warlords of Chaos.
|Knight of Shrouds
|Legions of Nagash
|Beasts of the Grave
Beneath the sinister glow of the realms' moons and clouds of shrieking bats, the armies of the Soulblight Gravelords march to assail the living. Hordes of risen cadavers and clattering skeletons are commanded by cruel vampires who rise with their hosts on the nights where the skies are darkest and the winds blow cold. These are armies of the risen dead, hordes of rotting corpses and leering wights given animus through the power of necromancy. Directed by the will of their Vampire Lords, they are constant scourge upon civilisation. Though a single skeleton or Deadwalker zombie poses little threat to the disciplined armies of the Free Cities, in sufficient enough numbers they can even pull down a Stormcast lord. Worse still is when these undead armies fall they are soon resurrected once more, their ranks bolstered by mortals overcome by the Gravelord's army, which can only be defeated by destroying the Soulblight vampire leading them. Each Soulblight vampire possesses far greater strength and speed than a normal man, and many have impressive command over necromatic sorceries. However, these boons come at the cost of requiring regular consumption of fresh blood to survive and though many consider themselves to be the most refined of the unliving, they possess the same cruelty and malice that one would expect of Nagash's champions. Vampires are amongst the most individualistic of the undead and retain many of the same compulsions and ambitions they had in life, albeit often on a far grander scale to match their increased power.[1b]
In a macabre parody of Azyr's noble houses, the Soulblight vampires are linked through a complex web of lineages and bloodlines, which often possess their own quirks and obsessions. The greatest serve in the Legions of Blood and Night, led by Neferata (the first to take the Soulblight curse) and Mannfred von Carstein, respectively. Beneath the great legions are lesser vampiric clans known as dynasties. These tend to stem from a single sire and though they are vastly smaller and more localised than the morbid feudal web spun by the legions, many of them are still feared across the realms. Joining the courts of these vampire lords are Necromancers, evil men who sought to magical knowledge to escape their fear of death. Wight Kings, meanwhile are the skeletal remains of ancient warrior-chieftains and kings who sometimes rule their own Deathrattle empires, but it is far more common to encounter one who has sworn allegiance to a vampire. Often forming the vanguard of the collective undead armies are Deadwalker zombies, corpses raised as puppets via the necromatic arts, but it is the vampires themselves who are the most fearsome warriors of the Gravelord armies. Clad in morbid armour and riding atop enchanted palaquins or ferocious undead beasts, they are spear aimed at the heart of Nagash's enemies.[!b]
The Flesh-eater Courts are the armies of degenerate cannibals afflicted with a curse of madness. Ruled over by monstrous vampiric creatures known as abhorrants, they live under the delusion that their kingdoms stand proud against evil - even as they devour their screaming and often still-living prey in bloody and horrifying feasts. The courts of the Flesh-eaters linger within the ruins of crumbling castles and fallen civilisations, where the stench of gore hangs thick in the air, clouting and ever-present. Their pale shapes lope through the shadows, snarling with bloody, fanged maws at one another as they fight over rotting meat. Squatting atop an osseous throne at the centre of this macabre pageant are the vampiric masters of these unhallowed domains, their throngs of twisted supplicants racing to heed their every growled command. These foetid gatherings of the Flesh-eater Courts and their deranged, monstrous cannibals are a blight upon the civilised lands of the Mortal Realms.[2c]
The origins of the Flesh-eaters lie in tragedy. Though their deeds and bloody massacres committed at their hands ensure few look upon them with any pity, they in fact originate from those lands that were cast into ruin during the Age of Chaos. The most desperate mortals did anything they could to survive and it is little wonder that they would turn to cannibalism, first feeding upon the freshly dead, then the weak, then finally each other. However, it was not until the vampiric brood of the ur-vampire Ushoran found them that these wretched souls became true Flesh-eaters or 'mordants'. As they supped the blood of their newfound abhorrant masters, they became closer to beings of death than life and shared in their liege's madness by doing so. Each Flesh-Eater Court is ultimately ruled by a single abhorrant, hideous vampires that tear at their foes with wild abandon. Abhorrant monarchs are served by favoured courtiers, many of whom mirror the hierarchs of Ushoran's First Courts and bear repulsive titles such as Maquis Gruelsop and Lord Liverbelch. Mordant ghouls form the serf class of these twisted kingdoms, sweeping forward as a great wave in their rabid hunger to rip apart their enemy. When the flesh of monsters and the blood of the vampiric abhorrants is splattered across the feasting table to be consumed by mordants, Crypt Horrors and Crypt Flayers are born. These are perceived as the knights of the Flesh-eaters, utterly loyal to their masters whose blood they have consumed.[2c]
The Flesh-eaters maintain a complex relationship the Great Necromancer Nagash. Though the majority of them are not truly dead, Nagash considers them his servants, bound through their devotion to the vampiric abhorrants. Some Flesh-eaters worship Nagash as a benevolent father-god, whilst others fear him as a tyrant, a trait inherited from the madness of their progenitor Ushoran. Regardless, when the God of Undeath exerts his will over them, they cannot help but obey. Whilst other champions of Death may look down upon mordants as they are not truly undead, only a fool would underestimate them. What they lack in sanity they make up for in ferocity, and their frenzy has proven the bane of even the mightiest armies.[2c]
Ghostly blades flashing and hollow eyes ablaze with cruelty, the Nighthaunt emerge from the underworlds as a howling gale. The Nighthaunt are an army of cursed spirits unleashed upon the realms, ravaging the lands as they surge forth like an ill gale from their crumbling mausoleums and sepulchers. They are sustained by fathomless hatred for the living, and these grim hosts of gheists and spectres are the stuff of the darkest folk tales. Nearly all Nighthaunt were wicked mortals in a past life and upon death, where their souls passed to Shyish, they were ensnared in the chains of the Great Necromancer's intractable and warped sense of justice and bound to serve him for evermore. Remade through Nagash's necromantic sorcery and twisted by the his depthless spite, these are no mere ghosts. Their ethereal bodies glow with a baleful light, and their doleful wailing can cause even a veteran warrior's heart to freeze with terror.[2d]
The Nighthaunt were once a rare sight throughout the Mortal Realms, being primarily things of legend. This was to change with the Shyishian Necroquake, which battered the cosmos with deathly energies. Since the event, gheists beyond number rose from shallow graves and remains of ancient battlefields, and the Nighthaunt were empowered as never before. Led by the Lady Olynder, the Mortarch of Grief, the Nighthaunt Processions form the vanguard of Nagash's armies/ Mortals often describe them as howling spirit-gales that can reave a province clear of life in a few nights. Where they pass, dread grips the land and in Shyish, where the onset of despair drags an underworld an its inhabitants irreversibly closer to the unholy Nadir, despair is indeed a great tool in the Great Necromancer's arsenal. The Nighthaunt are uniquely well suited to the task of spreading this misery. Even a moaning horde of Chainrasps - the lowest of the spectral order - can overwhelm a host of shining paladins through sheer numbers, remorseless momentum and their disconcerting ethereal nature. Whereas a Nighthaunt can reach through the thickest gromril armour with ease to grasp one's heart and stop it dead, in turn simple bladework and skill accounts for little in the face of their insubstantial forms. Only attacks delivered with true courage and conviction or those blessed with arcane or divine power can hope to banish a Nighthaunt, which is merely a temporary reprieve should these spirits be restored by devoted acolytes of death magic.[2d]
A Nighthaunt's appearance is a reflection of their crimes in the eyes of Nagash. Micreants who died clapped in irons remain bound in perpetuity. Necromancers and spirits-speakers are charged with bearing unholy lanterns that draw wayward gheists to them like fluttering crpypt-moths. Secret murderers and careful plotters are reduced to screaming and frenzied beings compelled to kill almost at random. Amongst the most dreadful phantoms are the cackling, scythe-wielding cavaliers known as Hexwraiths and unhallowed Black Coaches, whose carriages hold coffins housing the regenerating bodies of Nagash's chsoen. Perhaps the most horrific and tragic are the Dreadscythe Harridans, for their only crime was to offend Nagash with their healer's arts. Led by powerful wraiths and gheist-kings, when the Nighthaunt tear across the moonlit skies, all would do well to fear them, for they are pitiless, relentless and almost impossible to slay.[2d]
Advancing in disciplined lockstep, the Ossiarch Bonereapers come as Nagash's blade of conquest, the weapon with which he intends to reshape the realms. Those ground beneath Ossiarch legions' sculpted heels are not slain needlessly; instead, they are subjected to hideous tithes, offering up their own bones so that the skeletal armies might stay their blades for another season. Though from a distance they may be mistaken for the skeletal Deathrattle hordes, these are no simple revenants wrenched wholesale from graves and battlefield dead. Each Ossiarch Bonereaper is a testament to Nagash's mastery of the necromatic arts, a war construct that represents his vision of the ideal soldier. By way of bone-masonry and unholy soul-binding, they are crafted to be stronger, more resilient and more skilled than any simple grave-chattel. However, they are far from mindless soldiers; behind their dread legions is an entire macabre civilisation, albeit one given over entirely to the twin businesses of war and praising their dread master.[2e]
The Ossiarchs are crafted from the physical remains of the dead and their ephemeral soul-essence, which resides in every living being. In great arcane laboritories, the retrieved osseous matter is reshaped and magically strengthened while the souls are torn apart, spliced and reconstituted in ways deemed more agreeable by the Mortisan priesthood, the cabal of mystical Bonereapers who oversee the raising of the legions. The Mortisans are most particular about what qualities they value in their warriors: be it measured bloodlust, iron discipline, or unflinching cruelty. The black soultrap gems set into the chests of every Bonereapers are commonly filled with various blended souls, each chosen for their specific qualities. For instance, a Kavalos rider may contain soul-traces not only from cavalrymen, but also from hunters and daring bravos. Perhaps the most ghoulish aspect of the Ossiarchs is the manner in which they acquire raw materials needed for the expansion of their armies and dominions. Rather than butching the inhabitants of their conquered lands, they impose a bone tithe upon their dominions. At regular intervals, the living are commanded to offer up tributes of bone, often in highly exacting amounts, to stave off the wrath of their conquerers. Such deals are inevitably signed via arcane contracts, which are as bleak as they are binding. How the conquered peoples collect the necessary tribute is left for them to determine, with grim tales told of geriatricide and habitual self-mutilation being employed in an effort to avert the ire of Nagash's reapers.[2e]
The armies of the Ossiarch Bonereapers are feared across the Mortal Realms. Their legions are perhaps the most disciplined force in all creation, responding to the barked orders of their superiors with matchless unity. Rank upon rank of Mortek Guard weather the blows of increasingly desperate foe as they wear them down through sheer attrition. The monstrous Gothizzar Harvesters smash aside enemy shieldwalls with wreaking-ball fists or huge sickle-blades, harvesting the remains of the dead for later use even as they kill. Dreaded Deathriders and towering war constructs scythe through the elite of the foe, unburdened by distraction or fatique, while bizarre engines rain down a constant bombardment of cursed bone. If the lieges of the Ossiarch Bonereapers were not terrible enough, all pale beside he who serves their supreme commander: Katakros, Mortarch of the Necropolis. Otherwise known as the 'Undefeated', he his perhaps the finest military mind ever to bestride the realms. By his hand, so the Mortarch believes, will the sacrets precepts of the necropia be realised and supremacy of the Bonereaper legions proven beyond all doubt.[2e]
Legions of Nagash
Nagash has haunted the realms for aeons, since before the Age of Myth. In that time has accumulated a wealth of arcane knowledge beyond the ken of mere mortals, and complete mastery over death. All lifeless things, from carrion crawlers that writhe through the charnel mires of Shyish to the mightiest Vampire Lord, chafe under his dominating will. Yet even the Supreme Lord of the Undead cannot be in all places at once. To ensure his domination of the Mortal Realms, Nagash turns to his greatest lieutenants, the Mortarchs. Each of these mighty beings wields formidable arcane power and military might, and is granted a sliver of Nagash's limitless power with which to command their own undead legions. The Mortarchs were chosen by Nagash not for their loyalty, but for their unique and invaluable skills.Each Mortarch commands their own Legion, a gathering of undead warriors that fights according to the traditions and strategies favoured by their masters. Detachments from each Legion may differ in size and composition depending on the warlord chosen to command it, from small yet powerful coven of Necromancers led by a Vampire Lord, to a kingdom-toppling tide of skeletal warriors marching under the banner of a Wight King. Just as Nagash cannot claim omnipotence, neither can his lieutenants oversee every battle and every campaign. Thus, the Mortarchs in turn delegate to their favoured Necromancers or undead thralls. Alongside these armies one may find blood-mad Ghoul Kings of the Flesh-eater Courts fighting alongside them, although the relationship between Nagash and the Mordants is uneasy. At the foot of this pyramidal structure are the foot soldiers and carrion-beasts of the deathless legions, beings that can be summoned and dominated at will by wielders of dark magic. Zombies and deathrattle skeletons provide disposable fodder, front-line troops immune to mortal weaknesses such as fear and fatigue.[3b]
Each Mortarch's legion varies in their approach and skills. Should Nagash require the corruption of a mortal city via the spreading of the Soulblight Curse, he will turn to Neferata, the Mortarch of Blood. Her Legion of Blood makes use of countless agents scattered throughout the realms, each playing a vital role a grand scheme the scale of which only the Mortarch of Blood fully understands. Nagash's ever-loyal lieutenant Arkhan the Black's Legion of Sacrament is dispatched for the most sensitive and secretive missions, which often requires the arcane might of Arkhan's Black Disciples. Mannfred von Carstein's Legion of Night use lies in tasks that demand martial expertise and viscous, low cunning.[3b] The greatest of all these legions is the one led by the Great Necromancer himself: the Grand Host of Nagash.[3d] The Legion of Grief, led by the Mortarch of Grief Lady Olynder makes use of shrieking gheists known as Nighthaunt to inflict despair upon mortalkind. Most recent of the Legions, thanks to the action of Lady Olynder during the Siege of Sorrow[4a], are the Ossiarch Legions led by Orpheon Katakros whose martial prowess is said to be equal to none.[2e]
The Legions of Nagash have largely ceased to operate as a unified force since the defeat of Nagash at the hands of Teclis during the War of Light and Death, ending the Soul Wars; an outcome largely a result of Mannfred von Carstein indirectly forcing Alarielle's intervention in helping Teclis stand against the Great Necromancer.[5a]
With the exception of the ghouls of the Flesh-eater Courts, the Legions of Nagash encompassed all forces of Death guided by the will of Nagash, his Mortarchs, Deathlords and the macabre legions below them.[3b]
| Attention Adept of the LEXICANUM!
This article is being created or revised.
Below is a list of warbands prominently featured in Warhammer Underworlds:
Below is a list of warbands prominently featured in Age of Sigmar: Warcry:
- In the initial release of Age of Sigmar, various factions from Warhammer Fantasy Battles were converted into various Age of Sigmar in the form of Warscroll Compendiums. These would be later reorganized with the release of Grand Alliance: Death. For Death these were:
- A large portion of the Grand Alliance of Death was reorganized under the Legions of Nagash faction with the release of Battletome: Legions of Nagash (2018). They would go through another reorganization with the release of Battletome: Soulblight Gravelords (2021).
- 1: Warcry: Bringers of Death
- 1a: Introduction, pg. 1
- 2: Age of Sigmar: Core Book (3rd Edition)
- 3: Battletome: Legions of Nagash (2018)
- 4: Forbidden Power
- 4a: An Ancient Hatred, pg. 28-29
- 5: Battletome: Soulblight Gravelords (2021),
- 5a: The Soul Wars, pg. 11
- 6: Grand Alliance: Death product description
- 7: Age of Sigmar faction guide
- 8: Malign Portents short story - Cause Célèbre