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Thank you, Abecedar!

Elven Views of Marshlands

Humans, being a sickly lot with much more to gain from living in cleared-out plains near rivers and coasts, are not great fans of wetlands. Apart from some sacrifices, particularly in Celtic cultures, marshlands are generally an unproductive wasteland and den of unsavoury wildlife, disease and parasites. A place to hide out in during times of war, and something best drained (at great effort and cost) and made better use of during times of prosperous peace.

Elves, being resistant to disease and of an artistic mindset to admire nature in its manifold shapes, would not necessarily share this view of wetlands. On the contrary, Elves since the dawn of time would have observed that marshes and bogs are soft watery places where nature is particularly bountiful in its sprout of bringing forth vegetation and wildlife (including mosquitoes, flies and even Orcs and Goblins, but not all life is pleasant). How could these wetlands be anything else than expressions of the feminine force, the euphemistic wells of Mother Nature, the most female of landscapes on Earth?

Elves would be particularly prone to appreciate the rich bird life of swamps, not least swans, and this include for purposes of egg-snatching wherever and if such is done by Elven youths.

As such, there may be taboos persisting even in urban Elven cultures against draining marshlands, dumping rubble into swamps (but perhaps not organic waste?), and building them over with rude causeways. In Elven lands, wetlands may well be left alone even in breadbasket plains, with city walls skirting marshes at some length (not too shabby part of the defense, see Ravenna) and with roads curving around marshlands or, if need be, travelling above them on elegantly arched viaducts. While marshes are not the most aesthetically pleasing features of the natural world, Elves would nevertheless see a value, that Humans do not do, in preserving bogs to a large extent. You may well find some respectfully placed half-overgrown Elven-crafted stone statues or sleek stelae out in a marshy nowhere, at some spot where some Elf thought that this artwork would decorate the surroundings like a gemstone adorns armour.

Dread Elves or even Sylvan Elves, if prone to sacrifices, could very well sport traditions running after the cycle of the seasons, where they lead and prod a male animal (e.g. stallion or slave) into a deep bog where the screaming victim sinks into the swamp and drowns in the embrace of Mother Nature: A union between male and female to re-energize life itself in the world.

Conversely, Orcs and Goblins would have a much ruder view on swamps, but still connect them to bodily nature. You could well hear marsh Orcs exclaim, when declaring their home: "I grew up in my armpit!"
@Abecedar: Indeed!

Posted on T9A as advice for Wiegraf, given the scarcity of knowledge of how Carthaginian architecture looked:

Carthaginian Architecture & Aesthetics

Just tossing out reference material to inspire ideas, since you mentioned possible Carthaginian style terrain. So little remains of ancient Carthage's buildings (the capital city itself was razed to the ground and then later built-over by the Romans) that much is guesswork. It was a Phoenician colony, sitting close to western Greek colonies and being part of the larger Mediterranean world, which was being permeated by Greek cultural influences: See how Rome aped Hellas down to its very gods.

This may be of interest on Carthaginian architecture: The mix of styles include Greek and Egyptian. But mostly it's Middle Eastern Phoenician style incl. flat roofs and possibly also decorative crenellations on domestic houses given this surviving depiction of a Punic city (buildings surrounded by city wall?):

Possibly stepped crenellations, given Carthage's Levantine roots, under millennia of heavy Mesopotamian influence.

Carthage sported some of the world's first high-rise buildings (6 storeys tall at the main streets) and parts of the city was built in a hellenistic grid pattern. Houses sported central courtyards with narrow corridors leading into the middle.

Doing terrain with Carthage in mind would not only give you pieces that could maybe fit into the Persian world, but could even be of interest for Hellenistic scenery given the apparent mix of local styles and Greek architecture and decor for some buildings. In T9A such mixed style could easily represent Infernal Dwarf settlements in the equivalent of the Levant (with residual neighbour influences from both Avras/Rome and Naptesh/Egypt), or even Copper Dwarf above-ground dwellings, or older parts of the human city Amharaq/Carthage/Tunis).

Proto-Aeolic capital, Phoenician architectural invention and forerunner of Ionic capital:

Assyrians attacking Tyre, Carthage's mother city:

Ancient History Encyclopedia Wrote:
A helpful source of information on Phoenician architecture is the Bible’s I Kings 6-7 description of King Solomon’s temple. This was, of course, built at Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE but the architects and artists involved in its construction were Phoenician and its layout matches temple descriptions at Phoenician sites and the wider region. Its general design shows a significant influence from Egyptian architecture.

Notice the corner horns, artist's interpretation copied from altars:

The Second Temple may give further visual pointers, as a Canaanite style monumental building with Hellenic influences (note columns):

As to horned altars:

This one is not Canaanite, but Egyptian from Karnak:

Temple remnants of Phoenician Amrit, note decorative stepped crenellations on the centerpiece:

Proposed reconstruction:

A couple of 4th century BC tomb towers at Amrit:

Temple of the Obelisks in Byblos:

Phoenician ivory inlays, sporting obvious Egyptian influences:

Other Phoenician art:

The Phoenician city of Tyre, mother of Carthage:

The harbour of Carthage, a partially Hellenized Punic city:

Carthaginian buildings by Wildfire Games:

Carthaginian buildings by LordGood:

And lastly, we're fortunate to have Mr. Cyns' interpretation in model scenery of a richer Phoenician/Carthaginian dwelling:

Mausoleum of Thugga, 2nd century BC Punic monument

If hunting generically desired low shipment cost terrain, then small Egyptian and Graeco-Roman pieces seem a safe bet: Right here I won't say useful, because wargames could theoretically be played with paper-cut outs or markers, but we all want good looks, so a kit of rank and file miniatures is in the end just as useful as a piece of finely crafted impassable [lexicon]terrain[/lexicon].

You could do the Reclining Attis from Ostia:

Or Etruscan sarcophagi:

Could be good loot for tomb raiding and ever useful in both historical and fantasy collections.

You know what really is missing? 28mm scale Persian bull-topped pillars! Think of all the Achaemenid and Macedonian collections that exist out there which would hunger for some quality terrain details to build the King of King's palace. Could also be a first step toward making the Stair of All Nations. Infernal Dwarf collectors would love to have some, as rank fillers if nothing else:

You could also do a Roman fountain, like this one, but with a much fancier sculpted head and decor (otherwise it is easy to scratchbuild):

Or maybe Caryatid pillars:

Or possibly one small section of these multi-story Hellenistic buildings, as a compartment ready to be smacked onto a simple stone wall scratchbuild, and then multiplied over and over to create such a detailed facade:

Or the arched front porch of the Temple of Hadrian. Again, something that can be limited in size, have a widely desired aesthetic and be used as a smack-dab add-on decoration piece to scratchbuilt/Hirstart moulded terrain:

Here's a wild card. You won't believe it sells, but expensive resin wall relief plates actually do sell from my experience. It's not something most hobbyists can make themselves to a highly detailed degree, and something surprisingly many are willing to pay for to add into their collection. I've had to restock my Infernal Dwarf wall reliefs (holes bored through them to provide "pillars" due to mould suction over such a thin area), so that mould investment repaid itself rapidly for its limited niche:

I've no idea if you plan to make monsters, rank and file models or suchlike. But one scenery thing which might sell, would be Xerxes watching the battle of Salamis from a luxurious throne, possibly on some decorated platform or even with a pavillion, who knows?

It'd give collectors an instant Persian king [lexicon]model[/lexicon], which could be used for other ancient Middle Eastern monarchs with a bit of tweaking. If you were to make the king a separate piece from the throne, then Chaos Dwarf and suchlike collectors might find extra use for it. One could even include a servant (or Roman emperor Valerian?) acting as a footstool for the ruler to spice the kit.

Just throwing ideas at you. Best of luck whatever you do!

If shipment holds you back, then I would suggest you look into high detail intensity historical architecture and art that can cater to both history, fantasy (and the occasional 40k/sci-fi customer, imagine Norse carvings bought for spicing up a Space Wolf collection). Trust that people can build or 3D-print the superstructure themselves for all but the most complicated stuff, and provide them with surface decorations, statues, pillars and colonnaded porches to make their scratchbuilt rectangular block houses into palatial temples and monumental centerpieces.
Follow-up on Kegiz Gavem: Ethiopian Dwarf by Sergio Artigas:

Artigas Wrote:
I was invited by [Admiral] to collaborate with the wargame The 9th Age with an illustration depicting a dwarf culture that would come from an area equivalent to Ethiopia.
The region was always a very interesting area, with so many ancient cultures interacting and influencing each other. There is so much to work with, but at the same time, no specific strong identity per se. I didn't want to go the somewhat popular way of simply "dressing up" a dwarf in the local attire of the native peoples, maybe even giving him black racial traits. I do not subscribe to that kind of approach, preferring instead to always mix and combine certain aspects of many cultures in order to have something recognisable yet unique. I wanted this design to be primarily dwarven looking, as I imagine the dwarven culture to be a very uniform looking one, given their rigid traditions and slow pace towards innovation and change. I also wanted it to look more advanced than the local cultures, showcasing the traditional excellence and wealth of their race. As for the racial diversity in fantasy races, even though I subscribe to a range of variation within the dwarven or elven races, I definitely do not fancy having it to be an exact mirror of human phenotypes, specially if corresponding to the exact geographical areas that you expect them to be found in. In other words, not every being that sets foot in Africa should be black, the contrast between human locals and the dwarven tribes in the area serving as a tool to further enhance the effect of having two completely different sapient beings coexisting and interacting.
My design choices that hint to the African cultures is evident on my use of colours, patterns and tattoos. The axe is also reminiscent of some of the throwing axes found all over Africa. The short sword's scabbard is decorated in a pattern that resembles a viper and the shield is fashioned in such a way that it resembles a cut gem.
I situated my design between the christian and muslim cultures that were present in that area for so long as much as the more tribal cultures of the Ethiopian men.

Tack så mycket, Tjub!

Vermin Anteaters

Over on the Ninth Age, there is a different homebrew ratman army book brewing: Vermin Anteaters.

As a homage to that intuitive image of bipedal anteater-men, here's an African cousin of the anteater family, an aardvark. I hope there's space enough for all manner of mammals-turned-humanoids in this shunned horde of mound-dwellers and anteaters? Dress from Dogon ceremonial warrior attire (you gotta love how less-is-more didn't count back in the day when these styles were developed). Being fantasy, the below concept takes the over-the-top step of turning ceremonial stiltwalking into a tool used by anteater monster hunters, for you need to reach high to slay those big beasties:

Reference board:

Orcs & Goblins

Odd Taphrian(?) Feral Orc concept. Since fantasy so often is about taking real life inspiration and run with it one step further, you know this is destined to happen with Orcs (if their reproduction is flesh not fungus). Phallic sheath based on those of e.g. Zulu, Somba and distant Papuan koteka gourds. Made into stone-tipped spear.

Reference board (no famous Papuan gourds pictured):

Lots of brainstorming has been going on over on T9A, with some further homebrew army list tweaking by Calisson.

​Random doodle of Gavemite coffee harvestrix:


The Travails of Makada

In times of yore, in Iron bound, an Age of Ruin, the Fourth undone.
There rose a tide of savage tribes, of Orcs and Goblins slaying scribes.
Felling stelae, burning home, their arms too mighty, free to roam.
In ancient towns were only death, bloodied under snorting breath.
Trampled under filthy feet, toppling every marble seat.
Unspoken forefather's name, corpses lay astrewn to maim.

Her legs both broken after raid, crawled forth a despoiled maid.
Hair burnt off and flesh a crisp, no tongue even left to lisp.
Hiding 'mong the husks of kin, finding infant starving thin.
Makada took him as her son, giving milk while eating none.
Holding boy so hardly grip'd, on single arm she crawled and slip'd.
Miles and miles through ash and dust, over cliffs in windy gust.

Hiding deep mid bramble-thorn, wounds afresh and tendons torn.
Makada hugged Grumaz up close, bearing future Ras through lows.
Her pious form wild beasts would shun, and Goblin scouts the Light did stun.
Sparing both for shouldering pain, their suffering relieved by rain.
Caked in mud she reached strong walls, open gate the watcher calls!
Dying sheltered carved she rune, for fallen Mountains of the Moon.

Icon of Garuvebiz the Scorched

Legends tell of a strong and warlike ancestor who was the first to explore the rich and sacred coast overseas, uncovering mysteries both occult and divine, and learning of the Heavenly Light's will for Kegiz Gavem to grasp this dry land for her own and purify it from Infernal clutches. The name of this man was Garuvebiz, a strapping fellow who dyed his beard red with henna and spilt red blood in the sands for the sacred cause of the Light. First he was to discover, and first he was to set foot ashore among a mighty Gavemite expeditionary force led by Ras Avrakam II's oldest son, Yugnaz the Stalwart.

In battle Garuvebiz was a force unto his own, for his vision became filled by the Light on high as he slayed its enemies and cleansed the promised shores from both Infernal Dwarves and their slave soldiers. Yet the sheer success of this famous champion planted arrogance in his heart, and for this sin did the Heavenly Light cast him aside into captivity and punishment at the hands of Garuvebiz' hateful foes. They stripped him of dignity and armour, and chained his wrists. A command beyond words struck into the mind of him as he lay languishing in his cell, a higher call making Garuvebiz understand that he was to lift his head during his coming torment, and never once have eyes for anything but the light above.

The shackled champion did maintain his gaze upward into the bright sky while kicks and whiplashes rained upon his gnarled hide, yet he finally faltered and looked down for but a moment as the jailors lowered him into a pit of fire. His skin was burnt to a crisp for this brief loss of eye contact with the divine, yet the Light ultimately shielded him from the worst of the flames for the sake of his repentance, and for his resumed stare into the heavens above. And so it was that the cruel and jeering Infernal Dwarves dragged Garuvebiz' twitching body to a nearby Gavemite fort, and dumped his burnt form outside its gates in order to sow terror into the hearts of their pious foes. The Infernal Warriors left their still-smoking victim with a baleful laughter at their lips.

Appalled, the garrison of the fort took their burnt kinsman inside, and eventually discovered a hidden miracle while they slowly nursed him. The hellish flames had indeed seared and ravaged the skin of Garuvebiz, akin to the burning off of superficial pride. Yet their hot bite had not destroyed the flesh beneath the hide, for penitent Garuvebiz had proven his inner spirit to be pure and humble, and thus the Light saved him from death, though not from torture and disfigurement. And so his health and beard eventually returned by the blessing of the Light, and Garuvebiz the Scorched was both able to father sons and daughters, and return to the wars against the Infernal Dwarves overseas. And amid the Gavemite hosts, he bore his horrible burn scars steadily, and once more wreaked higher judgement upon his foes in battle.
Thank you kindly, Ghrask Dragh! At your service. Takes Hat off

Over in T9A homebrew section we're crafting a rival Dwarf people for the infamous Infernal Dwarves: Orthodox pious folk called Gavemites from Kegiz Gavem. Check it out if you like.

The artist Mitchell Nolte over on Deviantart accepted a commission from me to give us his vision of a Gavemite Dwarf, preferably engaged in some activity against an Infernal Dwarf, for the Ninth Age. He drew the link to Mazdaism with its frontal clash between Ahriman and Ahura Mazda, of good versus evil, light against darkness, and set to work making some quick painterly sketches, and then set out to produce this piece of art. Be welcome to leave a comment for him under the artwork on Deviantart. Mitchell Nolte has a deft hand at illustrating historical scenes, fantasy and mythology in colourful artwork, as can be seen in his gallery!

"Swathed in heavenly radiance and girt for war did faithful Negusaz, son of Eraphram, son of Danak, son of Alemakyu, stand his ground against Azerak of the Chains.

For horned Azerak rose from out of a pit of flames beneath the shadow of his heathen idol, and he threatened Negusaz with a baleful end if he did not stand aside, and yet the son of Eraphram would not yield to let him pass.

And roaring an oath with tusked maw did Azerak tread forth from the hellfire in fury, for he brandished a twin-headed axe with murder in his eyes.

And axe of dark steel clashed with bright-lit sickle sword, locked in mortal combat.

For under the higher gaze of heaven and under the eyes of infernal idol did the warriors trade blows, where light and darkness met."

Plus Nolte's thumbnail sketches:

To top it all off with a crown, by master Artigas:

The general concept was to follow the historical "bucket crown" style they used, and to imbue it with hot weather/ Desert climate qualities. For that I made it with an interlocking pattern, reminiscent of basket weaving, that is breathable and yet impressive and complex. The crown also sports two facing lions (the true natural King in the region) and a large sun-gem at the crest.

A splendid design, showcasing both fine Dwarven craftsmanship, wealth and ingenuity as to the airframe! Truly a crown fit for the Ras; the light-blessed monarch who lords it over Kegiz Gavem and all her holdings; the Ras Taphria who lay claim to sovereignty over all the sun-touched southern lands between the Great Ocean and the Southern Sea.

Behold its splendour and the brilliant rays reflected in its carved gemstones, and know what true kingly power in Taphria looks like. And obviously those thrice-accursed heathens, Daemon-worshippers and idolaters known as Infernal Dwarves, with their ridiculously tall headgear, are just making up for having stood inferior and unworthy in the Ras' looming presence.

Such is the crown of true kings.

And it should show up as a common emblem on Gavemite military equipment, banners and buildings commissioned by the Crown.

Historical Ethiopian reference:

An idea inspired by seeing Artigas' crown: While the Gavemite king bear the magnificent bucket crown, the heir apparent could sport a mask of humble stature, yet still of fine Dwarven craft and handiwork. As Ghiznuk kindly informed us of in his great summary (recommended read!), it was a traditional feature in Ethiopian Christian states to have all the male relatives of the emperor confined to a mountain settlement, where they would often spend their time at arts, out of reach from plotting against the sovereign. While I have a hard time seeing rock-stable Dwarves scheming and backstabbing to any extent approaching the familiar ways of Manling palaces, there could still be a reference echo to said historical practice, in that the Kegiz Gavem heir apparent is masked at all times in public, to symbolically hide which royal family member is next in line. Maybe with the extended royal family and all adult children of the royal couple living in seclusion, though probably not for reasons of the Ras' security. The heir apparent could be called the Hidden One, and this secrecy could play a great role in Gavemite epics surrounding dynastic turbulence and the ascension of a new line of kings, or the return of the rightful king, during times of extreme chaos and havoc across the land (thanks in no small part to the ever-damned Orcs & Goblins). The Hidden One revealed, the kingdom restored. That kind of thing.

Also, a couple of other ideas: To let hero characters of some sort in the army list have access to expensively imported Dwarven guildcrafted handguns. Not for any regimental unit types whatsoever, but for individual members of the wealthy elite. This would better point out the trade networks and exchange of highly expensive fine crafts items that take place between far-flung Dwarven strongholds, isolated from each other as they are by vast tracts of countries and wasteland where hostile monsters, nomads and opportunistic settled people make life perilous for merchant caravans. It would also point forward to the future, where Kegiz Gavem may be destined to emerge as a gunpowder empire. During the Ninth Age, however, firearms are still the domain of Vetian Dwarves and the hated Infernal Dwarves, with some luxuriously crafted Vetian Dwarf (and maybe also Copper Mountain Dwarf) handguns being bought at great expense by wealthy members of the Gavemite elite.

To reflect their fabled mastery over stonecarving and masonry, which Dwarves the world over hail the Gavemites for, the flagships of the Gavemite fleet could be fashioned entirely and extremely laboriously out of rock, carved with fine ornamental designs and magical runes. Although runic enchantments are involved, it is widely believed that the flotation of these stone ships occur only by the blessing of the heavenly Light, for otherwise these rock vessels would sink. All other craft in the Gavemite fleet are built out of traditional materials.
Frost Elves: Northern Sylvan Elves Based on Finnic Tribes

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to go full circle where the Aurora Borealis dances across the sky.

JRR Tolkien, the inventor of the classic historically-based fantasy genre (that Warhammer Fantasy and the Ninth Age are both part of), was profoundly inspired by Finnish folklore and language. The epic of Kalevala (whose 1990s Don Rosa comic adaptation is, by the way, warmly recommended) was an important basis for Tolkien's own tales in Middle Earth, and his Elven languages were in no small part inspired by his studies of Finnish. Let us as such be the first fantasy setting to complete the circle, and introduce northern Elves based on Finno-Ugrians. The working name here will be Frost Elves to get the ball rolling, obviously to be changed for something better.

The basic concept is a plethora of different Elven tribes, sprinkled across the frigid lands north of Vetia and Augea. By the Ninth Age, these various peoples are the remnants from ancient days of much greater spread, but never great population density. They live sparsely, eking out semi-nomadic lives primarily as hunters, gatherers, fishers and herdsmen, moving like ghosts upon waterways and snow alike. They know these bleak forests and remote tundras and highlands better than anyone living, and they know well both how to avoid outsiders, and how to lay ambushes for intruders. To have the famous White Death (Simo Häyhä) and ski-based Finnish winter warfare during the Second World War (based upon a 16th Century Swedish captain's assault on a Russian marching column during winter) at the back of one's mind is for once not a modern burden for this particular brainstorming, but an aid. Think sisu.

Tolkien's own tales present us with two elements that may inspire this concept: First, his Avari Elves, who remained in the east of Middle-Earth and expanded across these mortal lands, until humans emerged, grew and gradually displaced the Avari natives. Second, the dead-set exodus of Fingolfin with the majority of the exiled Noldor Elves across the Grinding Ice, or Helcaraxë, in the north. Especially the latter has inspired numerous artists to depict Elves on the ice, see below.

I have no intention of turning this into a Homebrew army book, though anyone who wish to is of course welcome to do so.

Now imagine the vast expanses up in the cold north, where water and dark forests aplenty brood, home to hardy wildlife, savage tribes from various races, and not least bleak Elves, glimpsed through morning mist and snowstorms. These are the most silent and sullen Elves in all the wide world, yet they are also the living keepers of an oral culture of beautiful songs, cunning and crafty and handy with skis, boats, knives and sleds alike. They ken the ancient spirits of the harsh woods, and they share these spirits' deadly wish for solitude from a hostile world. Theirs is a cold and wind-blown life, wandering the sparse expanses, yet ancient legends tell of paths not chosen, of civilization rejected, of bonds to the Northern Dwarves broken, and of magical gold and smith's craft cast aside. The corruption of the Wasteland and the roaming followers of the Dark Gods have both taken a heavy toll on these Elves of the north, and likewise they are pressed upon by Orcs, Goblins and Trolls alike, and snorting Beast Herds can be heard stomping in the woods these wayward Sylvan Elves call home.

Captivity, by Michael Rechlin.

But these, the original tribes of the northlands, will never lay down their knives and bows, and they will never cease their fight, no matter come what may, for theirs is an unbending will, and theirs is a lethal determination to see their kin and songs live on, flushed with lifeblood, even if all the lakes and forests have to be carpeted thick with the corpses of foes. And as long as their grit and cunning win through, the magical songs of strange Elves will continue to sound among the mists and the snowfalls.

Such are the Sylvan Elves in the frozen north of the Ninth Age.

Avari Elves & Related Reference Images, by assorted artists, including Steamey

Finnic & Related Reference Images, by assorted artists, including Tuomas Koiruvinnen

Hercalaxë Reference Images, by [url='']assorted artists[/url]

Kalevala Reference Images, by assorted artists

Ideas, feedback and criticism are of course welcome!

Dread Elves of Maphria Island

We are developing Dark Elves based on the slaving Sultanate of Zanzibar and colonial safari.

Matthew Klaas de Witte accepted a commission from me to design a Dread Elf from Maphria, with a leopard skin and an enslaved Pygmy Halfling. Gut feeling told me he was the right man to pioneer this field. Be welcome to leave a comment for him under the artwork on Deviantart. Master de Witte has a deft hand at playing with historical styles in fantasy artwork, as can be seen in his gallery!

Please share ideas of your own for this exotic colony faction!
The 13th issue of the 9th Scroll webzine is out now, ready for download. It features a quick homebrew showcase of Kegiz Gavem brainstorming and artwork. Check it out!

Kegiz Gavem Hold Guardian

Artist Matthew Klaas de Witte over on Deviantart accepted a commission from me to draw us his own vision of a Kegiz Gavem Hold Guardian for the Ninth Age. Be welcome to leave a comment for him under the artwork on Deviantart. de Witte has a deft hand at playing with historical styles in fantasy artwork, as can be seen in his gallery!

The Dwarves of Kegiz Gavem are masters of stone, more so than of metal, and their splendid architecture in stones laid upon stones or cut out of the living rock is a testament to their engineering capabilities and sheer mastery of shaping such hard matter. Dwarf lore in far-flung Holds record how Gavemite stoneworking secrets and arcane techniques of magical stone-carved runes were transmitted from the fabled lands of the Ras, through overwhelming dangers during long ages of chaos, by brave adventurers, heavily armed trade caravans and Dwarven pilgrims seeking the rocky cradle of their first ancestors. One such secret from the Runecarvers of Kegiz Gavem is asserted to have been the creation of Hold Guardians out of stone. It is disputed whether all similar constructs in distant Dwarven Holds originate from the secret lore and crafts originally developed by the Gavemites, or if parallell and mutually isolated instances of invention took place over time in several different beleaguered Holds.

Be that as it may, most Dwarves of learning recognize that the Runecarvers of Kegiz Gavem were the first ones to fashion stone-faced Hold Guardians to protect their settlements and forest-surrounded shrines. The sturdy Hold Guardians of living rock have been a staple sight in Gavemite settlements since ancient times. And for many ages of ravages, loss and bitter reconquest have these statuary protectors of Kegiz Gavem been seen among the ranks of her armies, striding heavily into battles beyond counting, ever unchanging of expression, and ever serving their creators unquestioningly by crushing their foes.

Furthermore, Prince of Spires over on had some comments to share:

Prince of Spires Wrote:
I like the depth of fluff you're working towards.

The idea of using handguns for the elite as a symbol of their wealth is an interesting idea. It's sort of what's behind the magical item allowance of characters (and certain units). Though I must say, if gunpowder is actually seen as the domain of the infernal dwarves, there is an argument to be made for not allowing any firearms in an army list (or having them distrust allies with gunpowder weapons).

The hiding of the heir (and family members in general) is an interesting twist. It did conjure up an image for me of a society where this happens and the rules doesn't actually have an heir and they (try to) hide this being having different people parade around in the mask etc. There should be an interesting story there. Now, where is my pen... Wink

Icon of Sunken Souls

Mountainous Kegiz Gavem have long fielded a considerable navy to safeguard its share of the Southern Ocean's trade. Likewise, the ancient naval traditions of the Gavemites have allowed them to strike unexpectedly by landing forces on the coast and overtaking their foes from the rear. Most famous of all of Kegiz Gavem's naval affairs, however, is the ages-long tug of war fought against the despised Infernal Dwarves over the Sacred Coast overseas.

Zalaman Tekash the Great and all her baleful holdings is undoubtedly the stronger power of the two rivals, yet the core realms of the Infernal Dwarves are much more distant from the Sacred Coast, compared to the Gavemites. For where their benighted cousins face a primarily overland logistical nightmare to wage distant wars, the Gavemites with their easier access via the sea can reinforce, supply and outflank their enemies with a speed that has frustrated Infernal Dwarf efforts through a long succession of conflicts. Such have long been the state of affairs of wars fought for the Sacred Coast beyond the Southern Ocean, with Gavemites having the upper hand in most clashes.

Yet nothing lasts forever.

The Ninth Age has seen a great number of grudges recorded by the dour Gavemites against their hateful adversaries to the northeast, for Zalaman Tekash is once again on the rise, with an unrelenting hunger to dominate and reshape the world in its image. For the demented minds of the Infernal ones' artificers are putting out an endless stream of inventions, which is slowly giving these infamous Dwarves a technological edge of increasingly acute sharpness. And so their manufactories and shipyards glow and echo to the birth of ever deadlier weapons of war, and woe betide whosoever will stand against that ravenous will to power which drives Zalaman Tekash to rebound and reforge itself from disasters that would have toppled lesser empires.

As a hereditary arch-enemy to the south of the Infernal Dwarves, the warriors of Kegiz Gavem and her colonial possessions has borne the brunt of this renewed Infernal onslaught. Where once her fleets ruled virtually supreme upon the waves, now the northwestern sections of the Southern Ocean has become a truly contested battleground, and the naval supremacy of the Gavemites have vanished in the face of Infernal technological advances. The trend is a dire one, yet the outcome of this naval warfare is still in doubt and far from being predestined. As such the devout folk of Kegiz Gavem turn to the Heavenly Light on high for guidance, call upon their saintly ancestors, and gird themselves for war. For nothing alive can be more stubborn than a Dwarf in the face of adversity, and the sworn admirals and mariners will serve their Light-touched Ras unto death, no matter come what may.

The legend of the Sunken Souls will serve as an illustration of the difficulties that beset the Gavemite navy. It tells of a recent grudge by Dwarven standards, and follow the exploits of a dogged crew upon the Southern Ocean.

The fleets of Kegiz Gavem are led by finely carved stone vessels that are the marvel of the seas, and the subject of fanciful sailor's tales the world over. Gavemite lore holds that it is only by the blessing of the Light that these ships of rock may float. Their ornate hulls and interiors are evidence of a mastery of stonecarving far beyond the ken of Human hands, and their surfaces are bedecked with sacral runes and iconographic fresques. Each stone ship is a massive monument wrought by the hands of Kegiz Gavem's Runecarvers, and each vessel hewn out of the mountain is an incredibly costly crafts object, and an overbearingly powerful instrument of naval war. The loss of a single stone ship is a disaster, for it is the equivalent of seeing a giant obelisk or fortress sink to the bottom of the ocean.

The vessel known as the
Radiance Upon Akurem was carved out of the naval quarries of Kallugiz Marak, south of Kegiz Gavem. Naval stonecarving is a most demanding craft, and the Runecarvers and quarrymen of this fortified stone shipyard toiled for years to fashion her into a smaller class of warship known as a Vrek within the Gavemite navy, to serve as a squadron leader for one of the many small patrol units who are the day-to-day workhorses of the fleets of the Ras Taphria. The timbermen of the Mastmaker Guild equipped her stony hull with stout wooden masts. The seamstresses and tailors of the Clothier Guild made for her durable sails, both of leather and of linen. The Ropemaker Guild crafted her rigging, and the Blacksmith Guild made all her details, implements and ornaments that were forged out of metal. And the Armsmith Guild provided the ship's mariners with an armoury of spears, sickle-swords, axes and many other weapons.

When the
Radiance Upon Akurem was launched, she rocked heavily seven times to the chanting of clerics and assembled worksfolk alike, as well as by a masked member of the royal clan. And they all rejoiced and sang hymns of praise, for the Divine Light had approved of their arduous efforts and found it to be good. The Vrek did not sink, but proved herself well carved to handle waves and winds, as well as to withstand ship-to-ship battles and sea monsters. The Crown was in possession of a resilient weapon of war, bedecked with a roaring lion's head of grey stone at both bow and stern.

For four centuries and three decades did the
Radiance Upon Akurem serve the Ras of Kegiz Gavem, and for four centuries and three decades did she protect Gavemite interests and thwart Goblin raiders, Human pirates and Infernal Dwarf battlegroups. The Radiance Upon Akurem was usually deployed in a squadron with four or eight wooden vessels of war attendant, or in convoy duty to escort merchant vessels and pilgrim ships, and at a few occassions did the Vrek earn her honours in large naval battlegroups facing full enemy fleets.

Her many captains served with distinction, and the stone ship was well cared-for, and proved herself well able to sail for extended periods between drydock refits. Runecarvers would occassionally board her with their apprentices, as part of instructive inspections, where the novices of the secret craft would observe firsthand the handiwork and test of time in the field of the fruits of their Guild's labours. Master Runecarvers always brought up the
Radiance Upon Akurem as a fine example of naval stonecarving done right, as opposed to other stone ships where cracks and repairs were regularly required from the wear and tear of mere sailing service.

But all tales of success and fortune must come to an end, for the career of the
Radiance Upon Akurem ended in fatal disaster by the hands of the hated Infernal Dwarves. Yet another war for the Sacred Coast erupted during her 437th year of service, and the stone ship left the grand royal harbour of Kegiz Gavem as part of one of two relief fleets that would reinforce and supply the realm overseas, intercept enemy vessels and seize any opportunity to land forces and strike from the rear. The voyage began under ill omens, for dark clouds blocked out the sun at the very moment the masked Crown Admiral blew out the signal for departure. Heavy rains drenched the sailors on deck, and fierce winds began tugging at sails to rock ships in the water. Then, lightning struck. First once, then thrice, then a hundred-fold. Thunder rolled ominously while the Gavemites prayed beneath deck and toiled sourly without complaint on deck and in masts, and over fifty sailors were struck by lightning in that hell-spawned storm, of which three Dwarves died.

Nevertheless, the Light shielded its devotees from the worst of the storm, and both fleets emerged quite intact out of the harsh weather. Half a week of repairs was called for by one of the admirals, yet the leader of the
Radiance Upon Akurem's relief fleet had to stop for a whole week out at sea. During this time, the admiral in charge held his fleet together, anchors down, sails rolled up and vessels moored to each other in squadrons, while sailors and timbermen toiled night and day to restore the damaged ships' rigging and sails, and replace broken masts. At last, this second relief fleet set sail anew, yet soon hit dead in the failing wind and found itself stranded on an uneerily calm sea without a single gust of wind blowing.

Three weeks passed in this manner, and ships' clerics organized penitent masses to appease the Heavenly Light. The mariners asked each other what they had done to so anger the Light, and they repented of sins and prayed earnestly. At last, after a time of fruitless waiting that was torture to the soul, did the winds pick up again, and the second relief fleet sailed straight for their destination with great speed from strong winds.

Yet even this stroke of luck turned out a curse, for it led the sail-borne Gavemite fleet straight into the clutches of an Infernal Dwarf trap close to rocky Cape Myrrh. Out from a cove did the steel behemoths churn through the turqoise waters, unfettered by wind and spewing black smoke from their spiked chimneys. Steam enginges gasped and clanked and creaked, and harsh voices rang out upon rivetted decks, to the cracking of whips and screams of slave flesh. The brisk winds had taken the Gavemite fleet into the worst possible position, and every squadron was out of position to respond to the lumbering metal monsters of the Infernal ones, for the enemy was close by and quickly upon them.

The Infernal Dwarf ships fired mortars and rockets as their armoured hulls cut through the waves in spite of the wind direction, and Volcano Cannons unleashed their searing flames at close range while steel rams crashed into the sides of wood and stone. Sharks gathered to feast upon the doomed in the brilliant waters. The Infernal fleet had struck without a single sail unfurled, but had waited behind rock formations and pounced with their hot engines from a spot by the coast where sailing ships could not have hoped to do so and catch their prey. It was a slaughter, and Gavemite ships sank into the salty depths.

This battle was to be the last of the
Radiance Upon Akurem, for its captain, Avrakam Palebeard son of Rezilak, managed to steer it around to come back upon the Infernal Dwarf fleet, bearing down upon a three-chimneyed warship with full ramming force from the side and buckling her plate hull so badly the Infernal vessel sank within half an hour. This loud impact of stone upon twisting metal gained the attention of Bazerak One-Eye, the commanding Lord of Fire in the Infernal fleet, who commanded a handful of his steamships to deal with this flanking threat. The Radiance Upon Akurem managed to catch and crush a slave galley filled with shrieking thralls while this response force was incoming, yet the Infernal Dwarf steamships were too quick, and they bore down upon the Gavemite Vrek from all sides, putting their paddle wheels in reverse gear and striking the Light worshippers again and again with their rams.

The crew of the
Radiance Upon Akurem fought off their attackers as best they could with bolt throwers, crossbows and composite horn bows, yet their stone ship's hull cracked in places from the repeated ramming blows, and its deck was awash in the vomit of Infernal fire weaponry and guns. Finally, the Might of Azhebarak landed a titanic hit upon the weakened rock hull, and the Gavemite stern broke apart as the jagged metal ram ground into the Radiance Upon Akurem. Most of its crew abandoned ship and leapt overboard as their marvellous stone vessel sank, yet their chances of survival by escaping upon flotsam or their own rotund Dwarf guts were grim indeed. Infernal Warriors scoured the surface of the sea with blunderbusses and gouts of flame that even burnt underwater, and many sharks gathered to the shipwreck, throwing themselves at Gavemites in a frenzied bloodfeast. Captain Avrakam Palebeard is said to have been finished off by a shoulder-launched red rocket that blew his head clean off while he led a desperate boarding party who tried in vain to conquer a nearby steamship with grappling hooks and sickle-swords, and thus secure their escape upon captive enemy hull.

Yet the sacrifice of the
Radiance Upon Akurem and her dutiful crew were not in vain, for the diverting action of Avrakam's manoeuver saved half the Gavemite relief fleet from destruction, and allowed them to limp into harbour on the Sacred Coast. The survivors of the ambushed fleet repaired their crafts and spent the rest of the war making Infernal Dwarf naval squadrons pay dearly for their cheap victory early-on, for these sailors of fabled Kegiz Gavem struck with holy vengeance to avenge the Grudge of Sunken Souls.


Border Rosary: Attempt at geometric base.

Border: Anyone may copy and use it for their own iconographic drawings, no need to ask for permission. Credit is nice, but not a must.

Lineart: The clutter of details loosened the paper fibres and made it fold.

Entry in Chaos Dwarfs Online's Artisan's Contest XXVI: Mariners of Malevolence

Some laidback smalltalk somewhere in western Taphria, in lands under the imperial reign of the Koghi, with a handy armrest for the brave warrior and dauntless slaver to lean on.

Entry in T9A's Art Contest II.

Vetian Vermin Guard

Concept art of guard unit for the Vermin Swarm of Avras in Vetia. Heavily inspired by the artwork of Simulayton, who mix in extra elements of ancient styles (inspired by the Macedonian renaissance) to aesthetically underline that Byzantium is nothing but Rome.

Guesswork: These Ratmen overthrew the strongest Human empire to ever emerge in temperate Vetia during ancient times, and then proceeded to lord over a shrinking realm where they tried to maintain the captive high culture and material achievements (such as architecture and engineering) of ancient Avras through a bitter cycle of ruination, repair, setbacks and decay. Through ages of struggle this mighty people lost their dominion bit by bit as they had to battle against foes beyond counting on more fronts simultaneously than could be managed. As such their history beat to a pulse of slow, drawn-out yet inexorable decline, where dips into dark ages may be followed be resurgent might and reconquest, and even brief golden ages of blossoming population, wealth and culture, only to see corruption, decadence, disease, treachery and fell fortune topple their restored ascendancy and cast the Vermin Swarm anew into a maelstrom of struggles against overwhelming odds. Diplomatic sowing of divisions abroad, choice assassinations of enemy leaders, and baffling grand strategy (centered upon their capital of Avras) all allowed the Ratmen to carry their beset empire through ages of chaos and destruction. For it was cunning, more so than raw strength, which saw them win through to survive for yet more ages of war and disasters.

Yet nothing lasts forever. Avras of the Vermin Swarm is fallen, for the fabled crossroad city is once again in Human hands for the first time in many millennia. Yet the Ratmen will never accept this loss, for theirs is the power and glory...

The overarching story of Avras in the Ninth Age is a parody of a parody. For it taps into the commonplace way in which the long history of the Roman realm, ever since the Enlightenment and Gibbons in particular, is unthinkingly wrought into a parody of the past, with half of Roman history (the mediaeval half) being artificially separated from its own antiquity by the label of Byzantine - a name which still has a good ring to it. These Byzantines then have their scandalous parts and failings highlighted, while skipping over the fact that this declining realm managed to hold on for an astounding number of centuries in the face of way too many enemies beating down upon it from too many fronts at once. The reality of the mediaeval Roman Empire is a fascinating and bitter story of a realm and culture that had long since passed its peak, yet still refused to lie down and die where greater powers of its era went under the bus. The parody version casts the Byzantine Empire as little more than a tiresome parade of monks, eunuchs, craven defeats, stupendous titles, and incessant palace murders and civil wars: And so what can be more fitting than to take hold of the parody, and run it to the hilt in fantasy fiction through Byzantine Ratmen?

After all, both Warhammer Fantasy's Skaven (the most original of Games Workshop's major WHFB armies, and one not based upon any historical culture) and the historical Romans/Byzantines do have mediaeval flamethrowers and treachery in common.

Enter, the Vermin Swarm of the Ninth Age.

Frost Elf Kantelist

Light torso armour is meant to be some sort of multi-layer enchanted birch bark treated tough.


In honour of a nascent tabletop scourge that brooks no challengers - namely, the infamous cowboy of Eisenhans - with a Byzantine twist: Behold the heavily armoured Catarat monstrous cavalry!

Cataphract pun. Note draco rat standard and X-shaped amulets with the symbol of the Last Human Ruler of Avras Quartered by Four Vermin Hulks hanging from the rat and human skulls beneath the ostentatious saddle. Note also rivetted metal plates strapped to the undersides of the mount's paws, to protect against caltrops. The lamellar armour of the Monstrous Rat is bedecked with a rope harness sporting tiny bells, ringing out to the enemy general or head wizard, for whom the bells toll...

Virentian Dwarves of the Wrathful Mountains

Ladies and gentlemen, the historically based fantasy world of Warhammer, beyond naval expeditions, found one way of pitting Dwarfs against Lizardmen. This was by the means of the lost hold of Karak Zorn in the Southlands, having Lizardmen in their southern vicinity. (Karak Zorn always had a vibe of Prester John about it, but it was ultimately not meant as a realm of Ethiopian fantasy Dwarves.) However, a brief glance at history will make it instantly clear that Warhammer (for all its brilliance) missed an open goal for pitting Dwarfs against Lizardmen, and thus missed a chance of making Lustria itself into something more than an almost purely Lizardmen continent.

We're of course speaking about the Andean civlizations, of which the Inca Empire with its well-organized army is the most famous, but which also include such cultures as the Moche, Caral and Nazca, to name a few. Lord-Triceratops on Deviantart has already dabbled some with the concept of Incan fantasy Dwarves, including their use of domesticated Glyptodons. Let the Ninth Age be the first major fantasy setting to sport Incan fantasy Dwarves: Mountain dwellers, miners and skilled metal workers who build terraces, roads and towns in stone on altitudes few other peoples would even consider to climb.

Sounds Dwarven enough? Then let's head for the Wrathful Mountains in faraway Virentia, and follow the rumours of gold!

Just to get the ball rolling, here are some proposals: The Virentian Dwarves of the Wrathful Mountains have been isolated from all others of their kin since the most ancient ages. Originally imported as mining slaves for the Saurian Ancients during the distant First Age, these Dwarrows endured a longer slavery than others of their kind, for they lived close to the Saurian power centers of tropical Virentia, and were among the few peoples who still endured the Saurian yoke for many centuries after the Heavenly Mace set others free. Nevertheless, the great comet still set in motion a long and arduous struggle for freedom, for the bands of escaped rebel slaves waged a long guerilla campaign in the mountains and in the mining tunnels.

After a long and bloody struggle, the Dwarves of the Wrathful Mountains drove out their former Saurian overlords. Freed at long last, these Dwarves peopled the long mountain chain and heavily fortified their nigh-inaccessible dwellings, building kingdoms and city-states that battled Goblins, Saurian Ancients and each other alike. Slowly, and through many blood-soaked setbacks, the Dwarves spread throughout the great Virentian mountains, and emerged from the highlands to colonize some of the coastal lowlands to the west. And to this day they will make any Saurian intruders come to regret their quest for regaining lost glory, for the Wrathful Mountains were thus named for a reason.

The Dwarves of the Wrathful Mountains are little known outside their towering homeland, yet legends speak of great realms of strong armies and finely carved stones laid upon stones, of giant mines, of master smiths toiling with copper and gold, and of great builders of roads, farming terraces and rope bridges that defy the soaring landscape. And most of all, the rumours speak of treasures beyond the dreams of mortals...

There are lots of questions, if you buy into the idea of Andean Dwarves in the first place:

Are these Dwarven Holds, or Infernal Dwarves?

Should T9A go for an all-encompassing empire like the Inca, or go for a smattering of independent Dwarven Holds?

The former conform to the Renaissance reality, the latter to the older historical reality of the Andes, and may open up for more local variation and opportunities for rowdy infighting.

How advanced are these Virentian Dwarves?

Given the Inca's comparatively sophisticated grasp of technology, torsion war machines could possibly suit their fantasy counterparts, since Dwarves are more mechanically minded than humans, and live longer thus not wasting all that accumulating knowledge and skills on an early grave, resulting in higher levels of technology. What do you think?

What about slings, spear-throwers and bows instead of crossbows as infantry ranged weapons to underline the lower level of technology compared to Dwarves of all kinds found in Vetia, Augea and Taphria?

There are many fields of opportunity to the ardent thinker here, so please contribute your ideas and criticisms to this brainstorming!

This is a natural extension of Northern Dwarves, Kegiz Gavem and Dwarves of the Copper Mountains. There can be no such thing as too many Dwarfs. Wink

Roll out your thoughts on these potato-eating Dwarves and let's make the world of the Ninth Age distinct also in this quarter!


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