Cosmos Arcane

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Map of the Cosmos Arcane.

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]

Aetheric Void

For more information see: Aetheric Void

The Aetheric Void is a huge expanse of null-space made of loose unaligned magic, within which the Realmspheres exist. This non-realm forms the sky of the realms.[1b][6]

Realmspheres

For more information see: Realmsphere & Mortal Realms

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 Mallus.[3a][6]

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][9]

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 siege 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 led directly to the Dark Prince's domain.[3a][3d][4a]

Beyond the main powers of Chaos lies blighted wastelands, where darkness and horror with a infinity variety of forms lies. It is in these places that the lowest Daemons, unaligned manifestations of Chaos itself, lurk.[3d]

Grand Alliances

Grand Alliances are ancient compacts dating to the Age of Myth between various warring factions who seek dominate the Mortal Realms.[13]

Order

Order Icon.png
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 the servants of the Pantheon of Order, whatever that might be its God-King Sigmar or one of his fellow deities, but others are entirely concerned with the sinister goals and agendas of their own people. 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.[13][8][19a]

It 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.[13][19a]

Chaos

Chaos Icon.png
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.[13][18a]

The armies of Chaos is have an anarchic diversity in their servants. Most prominent is the armies of corrupted, mutated, malcontent and mad mortals, many who believe to have been abandoned by the gods of Order during the Age of Chaos. The Beastmen, animalistic savages who indulge in their base desires. The rat-like Skaven, who pursue their own goals in the depths until the time they will claim all of creations for their own. The most powerful are Daemons, the dark manifestations of the power of the Gods of Chaos.[13][18a][18b]

Death

Death Icon.png
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 Kings sends his undead legions to do his bidding, to hunt down all souls that have evaded his eternal grasp. Beneath Nagash all are bound to his will.[13][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.[13][19a][19b][19d][19g][19h]

Destruction

Destruction Icon.png
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 a unstoppable wave of savagery, attacking at the slightest provocation for the joy of combat, despoiling, defiling and reducing all into dust wherever they go to sate their primal need for violence.[13][7][19c]

The armies of destruction consists of Greenskins, migratory Ogors, towering Gargants and other mighty beasts. The Orruks go on unstoppable crusades known as Waagh! 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 by competing with their kind by crushing all opposition underfoot so they can inherit the title of the World-Titan.[12][13][19c][19e][19f]

Deities

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 that of their direct presence 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 were the tales of the Sigmar's travels through the early history, how he won against them, built civilizations and the lessons he imparted.[15c]

Each god has its own method of worship, shrines and way of showing its devotion, especially in combat and it is the desire to serve and believe in the gods that drive many of its 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 in difficult times, for even if they don't like them, their power is real. Still, when you know your deity is real and it doesn't answer their prayers can turn faith to doubt to hatred. The countless demands 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 with a small part of their power, known as the Blessed, who can channel the divine power of their patron into miracles. In exchange, these acts bolster the faith of its believers and return to the deity far great power than they expended. However, this closer relationship with the gods doesn't grant them divine insight and they must decipher the cryptic and obscure omens and hints the gods give them.[15c]

The most prominent powers that fight over the dominion of the Cosmos Arcane are the Pantheon of Order, Gorkamorka, the Pantheon of the Dark Gods and Nagash.

Magic

A Darkling Sorceress casting a spell.
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, made of the components energies that show as a dominant 'colour', or the elemental characteristics 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 understand 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 can 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 to learn how to harness and shape the fabric of reality. The spellcasters across the realm are continuously researching, studying and crafting new spells, be that a modification of an existing spell, recreating of a lost spell or an entirely original one. This power has a myriad of uses, from accelerating healing, masking their presence, controlling minds or into destructive blasts.[15d]

Resolve and focus is required to direct these arcane energies, becoming easier with practice. Even a single mistake has the chance of ending the life of the magic wielder, or worse creating 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 falling to the whispers of the Dark Powers.[15d]

There are other ways of accessing magic without casting spells, like runecrafting of the Duardin or by channelling primordial powers, like the Sylvaneth, Ogors and Orruks. 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 create powerful artefacts. It one of the cornerstones of commerce across the Realms, though many see it as cursed, as madness, mutations and misfortune striking those who use or traffic it.[15d]

History

Since the arrival of Sigmar to the Mortal Realms its history has been divided into three Great Epochs.[14]

Before the Ages

Mallus flying through the Cosmos after the end of the World-That-Was.
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 cluttering back together in the Aetheric Void forming Realmspheres. Within these Realmsphere, magic started to crystallise and form landscapes. Some remnants of the broken world, like the Spear of Mallus and the Oak of Ages Past, came to settle in these landscapes.[11][17]

Many of the inhabitants of the Mortal Realms are the descendants of the survivors of the World-That-Was that managed to reach the Mortal Realms.[11] When Sigmar arrived the realms were covered in the dew of creation yet much was already ancient with fractures kingdoms and portals between the realms.[14] Dracothion found Sigmar hanging upon Mallus, the remains of the World-That-Was, and set it upon the Firmament.[10]

Age of Myth

Sigmar fighting Ymnog during the 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.[14]

These gods grateful to be awoken or saved, pledged to aid Sigmar and the nascent civilizations, 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 set a foothold on the Mortal Realms and the Age of Chaos began.[14]

The true history of this age has long been lost. Fact and tale 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 relics and ruins, those that weren't destroyed by the followers of Chaos or hidden away by the gods.[14]

Age of Chaos

The twisted lands during the 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 they would be later known them as the Red Century. Great armies were raised to fight off chaos but they lacked the union to successfully achieve this, as none of these powers could trust each other out of fear for further betrayal.[14]

Even through the Chaos God Slaanesh was missing, the united forces of the Chaos Gods conquered the realms, destroying empires, cities, civilizations and annihilated their histories overnight. Under Chaos the realms returned to their savage states, filled with cruelty, enslavement and despair and erased 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.[14]

Halfway through this age the enemies of Chaos suffered a disastrous defeats and Sigmar lost Ghal Maraz. Sigmar retreated to the Celestial Realm and sealed the Gates of Azyr, retiring to his celestial palace-city and 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.[14]

Age of Sigmar

The dawn of the Age of Sigmar hailed the rekindling of the Grand Alliance of Order.
For more information see: Age of Sigmar

The Age of Sigmar started when the 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 would be called the Realmgate Wars.[14]

The Stormcast sought alliances with the besieged armies, seeking to reunite the old alliance from the Age of Myth, and a strong unified front in 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.[14]

After many tribulations, the Realmgate Wars ended with Order resurgent. After the battles for the All-Gates, especially in Ghyran, many Cities of Sigmar were built during the Season of War.[5]

As Nagash finished his ritual many omens and vision plague 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.[16]

The broken ritual resulted in the Necroquake, a catastrophe of amethyst magic that blasted the realms and changed the nature of magic. This age became known as the Arcanum Optimar.[2]

Sources