Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mordheim 2019: Undead warband

A living death awaits us all.

It is hard to imagine Mordheim is twenty years old; it means that I have been a part of this hobby for over two decades! And while I never got the opportunity to play the game when it was first released, I remember poring over each new issue of White Dwarf, looking at the new warbands being released, battle reports, and their dedicated magazine the Town Cryer. Games Workshop’s skirmish games have always been my favorite games they release, with GorkaMorka being the first of their games we really played extensively. Games like Necromunda, Inquisitor, and Mordheim allow the player to dive deeply into the strange and morbid worlds Games Workshop has created, and actively encourage you to carve out your own unique niche within their creation. Mordheim 2019 has been a fantastic opportunity to explore the Old World like I have always wanted to, building upon imagery and models that have always inspired us. While Alex defined the basic motivations behind the major factions, Tears of Envy, another incredible hobbyist involved in the event (who made Mordheim 2019’s excellent logo), had the fantastic idea of looking at the city of Mordheim through the lens of the Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic/Stalker. This science fiction classic explores the aftermath of an extraterrestrial visitation. Despite the alien visitors abrupt departure, their presence irrevocably and mysteriously changed the environment where they visited. These “Zones” were eventually cordoned off from the wider world to be studied. Could the meteorite that hit Mordheim have a similar effect, and what would happen to the city after being poisoned by this wyrdstone for 20 years? How would its inhabitants and the city itself be affected and corrupted? And what sort of adventurers would risk their lives to find fortune by venturing into the City of the Damned? This concept really captured my imagination, leading me to start experimenting with different warband designs.

The entire undead warband for the Mordheim 2019 event.

One of the most iconic and memorable elements of Roadside Picnic are the enigmatic Anomalies that are found within the Zone, odd and often dangerous phenomena/entities that seem to defy Newtonian physics. Bug traps are invisible spots that exhibit extremely strong gravity, able to crush anything that walks into them, or propel it into the air. Hell slimes are caustic colloidal gases that transform most of what they touch into more of the slime. The book is filled with many of these otherworldly entities, and I thought it would be interesting to explore the notion that prolonged exposure to wyrdstone has warped many of the undead into creatures resembling some of these Anomalies. What had once been physical beings, moldering bones and rotting corpses, have slowly lost their corporeal forms and now interact with the living inhabitants of the city in curious ways.

Curses souls and strained emotions permeate the streets of the damned city of Mordheim.

My favorite aspect of the old lore was how it would leave a lot unexplained, allowing a layer of mystery define it. I wanted to design my warband with this in mind, creating some interesting models and only hinting at what they might be. To do this, I created little pieces of narrative that were penned by an Empire scholar named Naewen, the savant of Thrax, that speculated at some of the odd things present in Mordheim. Whether or not they accurately explain the models I built is irrelevant, it is only to stimulate the imagination. These passages are listed below:

A dying man, kill by the malevolence that has soaked into the streets of Mordheim for years (counts as a Ghoul).

A dour raven, perched to fly (counts as a zombie).

The corrupting touch of wyrdstone is manifested in many inexplicable ways. As the years of exposure stretch on, hushed rumors tell of rage and malevolence given invisible form, of agony haunting singular locations, that bring doom upon those that haplessly wander too close to the City of the Damned. - Naewen, savant of Thrax

A skeletal wraith that haunts the ruins of Mordheim (counts as a Dire Wolf).

Contrary to widespread belief, the undead are not invulnerable. Bones are scattered or ground to dust, corpses are burned or rot until they are untenable, and finally, the death of the necromancer themselves cuts all motive force. Perhaps that is the true horror of Mordheim, that these inviolate laws no longer hold any sway? That these reanimated relics of a life long past persist indefinitely, with no animating force or corporeal locus. - Naewen, savant of Thrax

A mysterious wandered of uncertain origin who has developed a fascination with the odd anomalies within Mordheim (counts as a dreg).

An invisible wretch of humanity (counts as a dreg).

Wyrdstone is well known to corrupt, but might it also draw out and strengthen elements that are already present? Perhaps those wretched dregs of humanity, invisible in life, traveled to the City of the Damned to become something greater, only to find themselves more soulless than they were before? - Naewen, savant of Thrax

A deranged and devolved vampire created by Eli Parsons (thedragonsofphaeton).

An Anthrophagi Wyrd-caller (counts as the necromancer) and another wraith (dire wolf) created by Nicholas Tregidgo (k0rdhal).

I was really fortunate to have two incredibly talented hobbyists help create a few additional members of my warband, Nicholas Tregidgo (k0rdhal on Instagram) and Eli Parsons (thedragonsofphaeton on Instagram). Nicholas created an additional wraith to join the other four, as well as a misshapen Anthrophagi Wyrd-caller, that attempts to influence and control the anomalies that infest Mordheim (that will serve as the warband’s necromancer). Eli created an absolutely horrifying vampire to lead the warband, one that shows the complete devolution of an aristocratic of the night. After 20 year of wyrdstone poisoning, he has begun to lose his corporeality. Like one of the dregs in the warband, he is largely invisible, with the blood of his eviscerated victim being the only element that makes him discernible.

In an upcoming post, I will chronicle the warband’s Mordheim 2019 games!

- Eric Wier


  1. Wonderful write up of your warband Eric! Such a great and unique interpretation of the undead in Mordheim. Nicks models are such a wonderful addition as well, I adore the Wyrd caller particularly! This whole event has made me desperately want to create a possessed warband for possible future games. I completely understand the strange sentiment acknowledging time brings. It is odd to think of how long this hobby has been a part of my life. I started in the summer of 2001, not knowing how to play and collecting Tyranids simply because their alien/dinosaur aesthetic appealed to me. After all the armies I have built, painted, and sold over the years it often feels like I do not have much finished to show for all the time I have spent. With that said, I'm beyond glad I was able to contribute to the event and even more so help provide an additional model for your warband. Without a doubt that Vampire and the group I made for The Curse of the Alabaster despite their small number summarize why this hobby is so important to me and what it has given me in return. Enough rambling though, excellent models Eric and such a unique original take on the warband as a whole. Here's to the next 20 years!

    1. Thank you again so much for creating the vampire for the warband. It is a model only you could create, equal parts terrifying and primal.

      It is odd to look back at how long I have been a part of the hobby. For the length of time, I have no painted armies. Hell it took be 20 years just to create a painted warband, he he. I think I get the most out of the hobby creating things and exploring the lore, so at the end of the day the small number of painted models does not really bother me. But now that I have one painted warband, maybe I can create another...

  2. It's been wonderful reading all the blogs from the weekend. Sterling stuff!

  3. Great warband, and nice write up of the event. It is actually such a simple idea (that no one else thought of!) but so brilliant to see Mordheim 20 years on...and the changes wrought the Wyrdstone in between. Looking forward to more.....