- "From the maelstorm of a sundered world, the Eight Realms were born" [11c]
The Mortal Realms are a group of eight planes of existence revealed to Sigmar by the Dracothion after the destruction of the World-that-Was during the End Times.[1a] The Mortal Realms are found within Realmspheres found in the Aetheric Void or the Great Nothing, a huge expanse like space made of loose unaligned magic.
- 1 Realms
- 2 Nature
- 3 Inhabitants
- 4 History
- 5 Sources
There are eight major Realms in total, along with some minor ones and the Realm of Chaos.
- Allpoints: An inter-realm island that connects to all of the Mortal Realms through the All-Gates.[5a]
- Halosphere: A self-enclosed glove of reality created by the Slann from a outer bastion of the Crystal Labyrinth of Tzeentch.
- Shadespire: Known as the Mirrored City it was once located in one of the Underworlds of Shyish, but was cursed by Nagash to stay between Ulgu and Hysh.
- Uhl-Gysh: Known as the Hidden Gloaming is a twilight demi-realm found between Ulgu and Hysh where Slaanesh has been imprisoned.[11b]
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, came to settle in these landscapes like the Spear of Mallus and the Oak of Ages Past.
The realms themselves are not infinite in size, but the sheer amount of time it takes to traverse them, it would take entire life times to reach the end from its center, makes it practically so.
At the center the realms is where the magic is in its most stable forms and because of it, it is one of the most settled with many races starting families, building cities and farming crops there. As long as they can stop invaders or the tribes of Destruction from ending their lives.
The magic is at its most unstable forms at the Realm's End, also known as the Perimeter Inimical where a visitor may spontaneously combust, turn into vegetation or transform into a mechanical contraption depending on the magic of the realm. There are those that have tried to manipulate this unstable magic, but such attempts never end well. This effects makes it impossible to go farther than the Realm's End. Because of the extreme nature of the edges of the realms, Slaanesh has claimed many of these surreal territories for himself. This has lead to these places leading directly to Slaanesh's domains and his domain to bleed into the Mortal Realms.
Connecting the each of the Realms are the Realmgates, magical portals that allow one to traverse the Aetheric Void safely. These come in many forms, from the more understandable, like gates and arcways, to the more esoteric, like mists and seas. Their ability to transport people through the cosmos, giving them enormous values to conquerors.
The most important of these are the Arcways, eight gates from each realm that lead to the sub-realm Allpoints, or the Eightpoints as it was renamed after Archaon conquered and made his base, the Varanspire, there. The Chaos Gods want to corrupt these realmgates so they all lead to the Realm of Chaos, allowing them to take over all reality.
Realmstones, or Cursestones, are concentrations of raw magic, a disparate collection of substances that can be found in the Mortal Realms. They are amongst the most sought-after resource in the Realms and are of such value that a rich seam might start battles or call the attention of the gods.[21a]
Fauna, Flora and Creatures
Life in the Mortal Realms is incredibly diverse, being home to an uncountable amount of species. Some these species are unique to one Realm and can be found nowhere else in the cosmos, while others can be found in all of them, like rats. Independent of how rare they are, each species is adapted to their particular environment, which can be as simple as a different hue to a specialized diet, and even in some cases monstrous in form. This variety is found on more than just fauna and flora, but also the cultures of mortals which are greatly influenced by their realm of origin.[18b]
Wildlife is a frequent threat to the inhabitants of the Mortal Realms, specially in Ghur, home to the most dangerous predators and where every creature is constantly fighting and evolving to make sure they are not eaten. Even the lands of this realm is voracious.[18b]
There are many creatures inhabiting the Mortal Realms and these can be roughly divided into the following types:
- Automaton: Constructs made with science or magic.[18a]
- Beast: Mundane and monstrous animals that are usually of rudimentary intelligence.[18a]
- Daemon: Hellish spawn that serve the Dark Gods.[18a]
- Mortal: Sapient humanoids of the Mortal Realms.[18a]
- Spirit: Strange spirits, magical creatures and the magical creations of spellcasters.[18a]
- Undead: Creatures animated by Dark Magic and Necromancy.[18a]
Day and Night
The Hysh, the Realm of Light, and Ulgu, the Realm of Shadow, orbit around each other like binary stars. When Ulgu is in front of Hysh the Mortal Realms experience night, but when Hysh is in front of Ulgu the realms experience day.
Weather in the Mortal Realms can be quite deadly, with strange elemental properties that threaten the lives and settlements of mortals.[18b]
Some of the known examples are:
- Aqshy has firestorms and searing winds.[18b]
- Chamon has acidic rains, that test the ingenuity of its inhabitants, and poisonous fogbanks.[18b]
- Shyish has boneshard hails, that can shred the flesh from the living in mere moments, and eerie winds that carries the souls of those unwary.[18b]
- Ghur has savage storms that lash at the coasts of the realm.[18b]
Many of the inhabitants of the Mortal Realms are the descendants of the survivors of the World-That-Was that managed to escape its destruction and reach the Mortal Realms.
Some of the known means to reach the realms are:
- Sigmar hung upon the remains of the Broken World, Mallus, as it flung across the cosmos.
- Memories and spirits that attached itself upon Mallus, began to take the magic of the Broken World and gained physical form.[7b]
- Rescued by gods or through arcane means.
- Survivors of the End Times who either fought their way out of the Realm of Chaos or hid in mirror dimensions and otherworldly havens.[7b]
- The Slann travelled through the stars and were guided into the Mortal Realms by Dracothion.
Daily life in the Mortal Realms share many common traits, like for example planting and growing crops and turning it into food, streets must be patrolled and defences must be repaired. But each realm provides unique challenges that they must adapt, like food sources, wildlife, travel and weather.[18b]
The vast reaches of the realms are controlled by Chaos, so the majority of the populations of the Realms live in cities, but even in the most civilised regions the day-to-day survival is difficult. A few reside in frontier settlements that exist in a state of near constant danger from cannibal raiders and voracious beasts. These settlements do the best they can to hide the security they can afford, from small Freeguilds and mercenary forces or the more expensive securities like an arrangement with Fyreslayer lodge or Kharadron trading contract, through with the Kharadron one must always read the fine print. Regardless the people of the realms must continuously adapt to deal with the many threats they face.[18b]
On the coasts these take the form of fishing villages and harbour towns that fish for sustenance or transport cargo and passengers, while inland there are many logging camps and mining towns that harvest the land for resources, like wood, stone and minerals.[18b]
The natures of some realms allow for settlements to harvest unique resources, like for example:
- In Chamon oxide-hunting and hunting ferrosaurs for their polychromatic hides are lucrative.[18b]
- Sulphur mining and obsidian harvesting common in the areas of high volcanic activity of Aqshy.[18b]
- Ghur's frontiers have hunter-enclaves that hunt the great herds for their meat, pelts, teeth, bones or capture them for sale.[18b]
The forces of Destruction and Chaos are often drawn to the cities. From Chaos the armies of Khorne and Nurgle often try to invade and enslave cities, those of Tzeentch and Slaanesh weaken the populations with secretive cults, while the machinations of the Skaven undermine them. Since the Necroquake the forces of Death have become a even larger threat, with the large amounts of spirits and restless corpses stalking the realms.[18b]
Besides the armies of their enemies, the wilderness if full of dangers, from chaos-touched creature, like Beastmen, Sphiranxs and Jabberslythes, to other monsters like Gargants and Maw-Krushas that prowl the wilds in ever-increasing numbers. Since the Necroquake there are predatory spells who endanger all who meet it. The dangerous weathers of the Realms are an ever present threat and tests the ingenuity of its inhabitants to survive it. The vegetation of Ghyran grows so swiftly they might smother or suffocate the sleeping as they grow. In Ghur the earth bucks and heaves like a wild beast. Those who do not maintain a constant vigil don't survive long the dangers of the realms.[18b]
Stout Wall, palisades and stone ramparts are the most common method of defence for most towns and cities. Larger cities have artillery emplacements manned by Ironweld gunners, while smaller settlements have to rely on volunteer archers, who if they survive for long enough will learn that its better to pay the price to get training and weaponry from the Ironweld.[18b]
Freeguild regiments often act as de facto police for the cities and many of the small settlements controlled by the Conclaves of Sigmar. They often regularly rotate their troops serving in active battlefronts and those garrisoned in cities to act as city watch. These garrisons tend to be new recruits, veterans and debilitated soldiers capable of recovery, which means they aren't elite, but still armed and well-trained.[18b]
It's also common for cities, like Hammerhal and Greywater Fastness to employ mercenaries and convicts as underjacks, the first line of defence or early warning system from threats from below like Grots or Skaven.[18b]
Pyre-gangs on the other hand are specialized in quarantining and eliminating the Deadwalker epidemics that have appeared with the Necroquake. These are supported by experts on banishing the undead like warrior-priests, exorcists and gheist-breakers.[18b]
Freeguild units supported by Ironweld Engineers travel weekly between settlements around the cities, providing protection to those that travel. Seas around port cities are watched by the Scourge Privateers who collect a bounty for every pirate and sea-beast they slay. Spell-hunters capture predatory magic rampaging through the landscape, getting paid in the form of the remains of realmstone that is left behind.[18b]
But the forces of Sigmar are often stretched thin and the organizations that protect cities and their surroundings can't defend the smaller settlements further away. These must find ways to protect themselves with volunteers or mercenaries. Most famous amongst these are the Fyreslayers, but they are not cheap and most can only afford them for limited engagements, like wiping out bandits. Wealthy towns can afford to employ aspiring wizards of the Collegiate Arcane, Duardin Runesmiths and Aelven mages to protect them with magic, with many recently focusing on enchantments that can ward against the undead.[18b]
There are also adventurers and their representatives who can often be found in taverns and watering holes.[18b] Some of these noteworthy groups are:
- Hawthorns, killers specialized in tracking and slaying Soulblight vampires.[18b]
- Black Pipers, who eliminate Skaven infestations.[18b]
- Folly are aelven acrobats and singer who have experience in exposing Slaaneshi cults.[18b]
Farming is a complex issue in the Mortal Realms do to their different natures. Ghyran's feral vegetation makes it difficult to plant crops, but after being burned down, like for example channelling molten lava from Aqshy to burn it down, it yields much larger harvests. Shyish's soil has very little nutrients and are only able to produce the most tasteless and hardier strains of fruit and vegetables. Chamon has a mineral rich soil that produces strange vegetation, many of them can be edible if treated properly. Aqshy and Ghur have an harsh and unyielding soil.[18b]
Farming and herding can be found in the majority of settlements, but agrarian communities are more rare, existing only in the more settled regions, just a few days of travel. These farms feed the cities and in exchange the cities provide them with protection, with the most vital being protected by large Freeguild and the cogforts of the Ironweld Arsenal.[18b]
The people of the realms always find time to live, as companionship and laughter protect one's soul from corruption. Due to this many establishments providing entertainment, like taverns, gambling dens, fighting arenas and houses of ill-repute, can be found in most settlements above a certain size. In large cities these forms of entertainment can get exotic, like the light weavers of Hysh who craft intricate works of art using mirrors or the aelven shadow-dancers who are both seductive and terrifying in their private performances for the wealthy.[18b]
Each settlement and region have their own trends on how they entertain their populace.[18b] A few examples:
- Excelsis and Hammerhal Aqsha has many bawdy houses infamous throughout the realms.[18b]
- Greywater Fastness has many Duardin-owned taverns.[18b]
- Tempest's Eye has aerial racing and archery contests.[18b]
- The villages and townships of the Jade Kingdoms playful singing competitions is popular.[18b]
- The Vindicarum has the Silver Drake and the Anvilgard has the Court of Knaves, playhouses and public theatres famous for their performer's skill and wit.[18b]
- Lumnos and Steel Spike are known for their monks of the Flickering Fists, who occasionally give public exhibitions.[18b]
- Bataar has dream-dens where one can buy the imaginings of a stranger to enjoy for a night[18b]
In many places there are troupes of entertainers travelling through the danger of the realms to provide villages and towns, with their actors, singers, acrobats and animal trainers.[18b] Some of the more famous troupes are:
- Lord Hardwicke's Men has an impressive assortment of beast from Azyr.[18b]
- Red Sisters are known for their acrobatic feats.[18b]
- Ys are known for their dancing bears and performing Ghyrlions. They travel by using ancient hidden paths to travel through the Realm of Ghyran in covered wagons.[18b]
- Hotspur Guild are bardic journeymen that travel the Great Parch bringing new and songs to every settlement they pass through.[18b]
- Zirc Nomads of Shyish will tell the fortunes to any who cross their palms with silver.[18b]
To found a settlements and cities it requires stable ground, high walls, trained defenders and a steady supply of food and water and their absence can lead to the end of a town.
The cities themselves are highly diverse, with lots of different establishments, like shops taverns and hostelries, but each of them has their own character. A few examples:
- The city of Excelsis there is value in collecting prophecies and its considered a respectable profession.[18b]
- The Floating City of Bataar has night soil collectors who provide the city with the compost needed to produce food.[18b]
- The Kharadron Sky-ports are famous for constantly searching profit and business in jobs like sky-fishing, mercenary work and beard-wax oil manufacturers.[18b]
:For more information see: Cuisine
Food is a requirement for sustaining life and no matter where in the Realms, mortals need it to maintain their lives. In larger scales, civilizations need both a source of drinkable water as well as food, from thriving wild game or potential farmland, and these become important factors in deciding where new settlements are built.[18b]
Many recently founded settlements are barely able to sustain themselves and need to import goods for long enough until they become self-sustaining. While there are isolated farms, most are clumped together to share the workloads and protection. The harvest is sold or taken to grist mills. Markets being held weekly in larger villages and towns sell many goods like salt, spices, dried meats and alcohol. In general life outside the free cities is difficult and braving the wilderness to hunt for meat and bring in the harvest is arduous at the best of times.[18b]
Cities often start as wall around farmland, like communal vegetable allotments or orchards of native fruits, like the city of Hammerhal which has substantial farming suburbs and conurbations almost always enclosed by the outer walls. In some cases it can be great spots for fishing, like the city of Glymmsforge, which is found on a lake full of fish, or the fishing village found along the shores, rivers and coasts of the realm, but these are always threatened by deadly predator.[18b]
Those cities that survive quickly expand and with it their demands for more food, which is followed by any patch of fertile soil quickly being turned into farmland. These often come in the form of native varieties of corn, rice, potatoes amongst other crops. This local food is supplement through trade, like for example, the Kharadron Overlords who transport grain daily to the cities of Anvilgard and Tempest's Eye, or the mercantile conclaves of Hammerhal who ship food across to the Great Parch as well as from one realm to the other. The spice trade between the realms of Ghyran, Aqshy and Chamon is very lucrative. The Jade Kingdoms of Ghyran have a great demand for the Salamander-meat of Aqshy.[18b]
The main food sources of Ghur and Aqshy comes from hunting and fishing since animal life there is plentiful, but in Ghur there always the danger of quickly becoming the prey. Chamon animals are toxic for anyone not native to their realm. There is always plenty of food in Ghyran, but there is always a danger that any of it could be contaminated by Nurgle.[18b]
Because of how large and dangerous the Realms are, travelling through them is a problem. Travelling by food outside of the cities will most likely end in the death of the traveller.[18b]
Travelling by ship is safer, but still has their issues, like boiling waters and firestorms of Aqshy, the hungry sea monsters of Ghur, or the pirate fleets of Ghyran and Chamon.[18b]
Air travel is favoured over those two as long, even if it can be just as dangerous. It is available in most major cities one can aboard a Kharadron vessel or a private aether-craft, which are often more well-protected by aethershot carbines.[18b]
Realmgates are one of the most effective for long-distance travel, but access to them is often strictly controlled, often by the Stormcast. Some may even spend their entire life in their shadow and never be able to use it.[18b]
Trade is often a issue due to the dangers of the Mortal Realms. Some mercantile dynasties conceal safe routes of travel for their own benefit. Others must pool their resources to hire Fyreslayers to protect their caravans or hire fleets to transport their goods to reach the desired ports and markets.[18b]
The economy is largely focused on barter with conventional banking too difficult to pull off due to the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the Realms. The value of any given good is determined by its rarity and usefulness to the involved parties. For example, Gold itself has no inherent value and Realmstone is considered to have great value due to its magical properties.
While there is no universal currency some cities possess a local currency. The following are several examples of these currencies:
- During the Age of Myth Aqua Ghyranis, the water from the Realm of Ghyran, was used as a mainstay currency of the central regions of the Great Parch continent of the Realm of Aqshy. Because of how arid the central regions this continent were this magical water was considered more valuable than gold.[11a]
- In the Age of Myth, many kingdoms of Hysh grew off the use and trade of Aetherquartz, a kind of Realmstone.
- The Free City of Excelsis has a local currency in the form of Glimmerings which allow brief visions of the future.
- Bataari and Kharadron merchants in the City of Brightspear operate a banking house where currencies such as Aqua Ghyranis, Bataari firesilk, Aether-gold ingots, gold bullion (and the occasional Ur-Gold bullion}, and Shyish black-salt can be exchanged.[19a]
- Shyish black-salt's value as a commodity currency, comes from it's use as a preservative. [19a]
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.[3a] Dracothion found Sigmar hanging upon Mallus, the remains of the World-That-Was, and set it upon the Firmament.[7a]
Age of Myth
- For more information see: Age of Myth
After finding the Mortal Realms, Sigmar set to explore them, battling monster among many other great deeds. He raised the primitive humans and helped build great civilisations, building a great alliance with the help of friends and gods, both old and new.[1a] This golden age of Sigmar's utopia ended when this alliance broke down, thanks to trickery and the invasion of Archaon, his signs plaguing the realms long before. Nagash sought to rule alone, Gorkamorka was discontent with the peace, Tyrion attempted to capture Slaanesh while it was vulnerable and Grimnir died battling Vulcatrix.
Age of Chaos
- For more information see: Age of Chaos
For many aeons the Chaos gods tried to violently entry into the mortal realms, but where always foiled by Sigmar's grand alliance. Only when this alliance was broken by a betrayal did Chaos managed to invade the mortal realms, beginning the Age of Chaos. [1c]
The horrors the dark gods set upon the mortal realms seemed paltry in comparison to the devastation they caused in the world-that-was. The free folk fought, but they were weakened by the fall of the alliance and the union of chaos followers due to the return of Archaon, the ender of worlds.[1c] Despite the gods' attempts at protecting the mortal peoples of their realms, Archaon managed to reduce them to savage tribes and broken kingdom, set about to ruthlessly exterminate them.
Sigmar closed the gates to Azyr and left the other realms to their fates, not seen again for centuries.[1c] The other realms were forced to live in a living hell, frowned in gore and rot, were cities and settlements were torn down and spiked citadels were raised beneath blood-red skies.[1d] Countless cultures were lost during this age with only traces left behind. The few cultures that survived were already strong and well-defended, already isolated and skilled at resisting invaders or transformed themselves to survive, like becoming nomadic to preserve their lives and their old ways.
The God-King knew that fighting the Gods of Chaos was a losing battle. They were too united and powerful, that to fight them was to face certain doom. He had a plan to build an army with the help of Grungni. Plucking the greatest heroes of the realms into Azyrheim and reforging them into Stormcast Eternals.[1d]
Age of Sigmar
- For more information see: Age of Sigmar
The Age of Sigmar begins with the first strike against Chaos, the Stormcast Eternals being first hurled into battle in the Brimstone Peninsula in Aqshy. The Hammers of Sigmar, led by Lord-Celestant Vandus Hammerhand fought Korghos Khul and his army, the Goretide, and took the Igneous Gate, being the first of many conquests. The wars spread across the Mortal Realms, starting a series of events that would be known as the Realmgate Wars, as Sigmar made it a objective to capture as many realmgates as possible, finding many of them corrupted instead.[3b]
Sigmar desired to reform his pantheon of old and helped his old allies, like Alarielle and Nagash and besieged nations like those of the Fyreslayers. The Stormcast held a crusade to recover the Ghal Maraz from the Eldritch Fortress and tried to stop Archaon from enslaving the daemonic oracle Kianathus and the Godbeasts into his service. The Realmgate Wars ended with the fight for the Eightpoints.
Time of Tribulations
- For more information see: Time of Tribulations
As Nagash was finishing the final touches on his Great Black Pyramid, dark omens and forbidding visions plagued the realms. Sigmar was finally pushed to act when Vandus came to him with his own troubling visions. In response Sigmar first reached into the skies of Azyr and sent hundreds of comets of celestium. He then sent forth the Lord-Ordinators to lay claim to these comets and raise Warscryer Citadels atop each to scry the future of the realms. Through the citadels they, as well as the prophets of Chaos and Destruction, foresaw Nagash's plan.[16a][16b][16c]
All of the great alliances sent forces into Shyish to attack Nagashizzar. Unfortunately they all came to the walls of Nagashizzar at the same time and began to fight one another in a six day battle that achieved nothing. Nagash had nearly completed his greatest work, but unknown to him a small band of Skaven assassins had breached the inner workings of the Great Black Pyramid and tampered with it disrupting the ritual. This led to the event known as the Shyish Necroquake.[16c]
- 1: White Dwarf Issue 75 4 July 2015
- 2: Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Primer - an Age of War
- 3: Mighty Battles
- 4: Hammerhal & Other Stories - Dark God's Laughter.
- 5: The Realmgate Wars: All-Gates
- 5a: pg. 18-19
- 6: Battletome: Everchosen (2015) - pg. 29-32
- 7: White Dwarf Issue 76 11 July 2015
- 8: Battletome: Seraphon (2015) - Masters of Order
- 9: A Traveller's Guide to the Mortal Realms
- 10: The Realmgate Wars: Quest for Ghal Maraz - The Oak of Ages Past, pg. 129-132
- 11: Age of Sigmar: Core Book (2nd Edition)
- 12: Warhammer Community: Trade and Currency in the Mortal Realms
- 13: Lord of the Cosmic Gate by Gav Thorpe
- 14: Warhammer Underworlds Shadespire Rulebook, pg. 3-9
- 15: Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh (2019) - The Deity Slaanesh, pg. 8-9
- 16: Malign Portents
- 17: Malign Portents, THE GREAT BLACK PYRAMID
- 18: Soulbound Core Rulebook
- 19: Soulbound Brightspear City Guide
- 19a: Chapter Two: Guide to Brightspear
- 20: Season of War gaming aid from the WH AoS app - A New Power.
- 21: Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Malign Sorcery
- 21a: Concerning Realmstone, pg 10-13