Races and nations of Warhammer Fantasy

Races and nations of Warhammer Fantasy

In the fictional Warhammer Fantasy setting by Games Workshop there are a number of different races and nations. The most important of these feature as individual armies in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle table top game.


Realms of Men

All of the featured human nations are based in the Old World.


A throwback feudal nation that relies on its haughty knights, heraldry, and their mysterious patron for military strength. It is similar to the French armies before the Hundred Years' War, combined with a heavy dose of Arthurian Myth. Bretonnian armies rely on powerful charges from their many heavily armed and armoured knights in order to achieve victory. Bretonnian knights are arguably the best heavy cavalry in the game, along with being the most varied. Bretonnian armies can also contain cheap and expendable units of unskilled peasants to serve as fodder.[1]

The Empire

  • The Empire is one of mightiest nation of the Old World. The Empire is based upon the real-world Holy Roman Empire, especially during the early modern period. The Empire benefits from a great diversity of units and magic. They also field an extensive variety of black powder weapons.[2]

Smaller states of the Old World

  • The Wasteland — Akin to the Low Countries, this low-lying land at the mouth of the River Reik is home to Marienburg, one of the largest cities in the Old World. This region used to belong to the Empire — when it was referred to as Westerland — but is now fiercely independent. Marienburg is a single city-state and is not covered by its own army book for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, though the previous edition of Empire Army book contains a listing for a Marienburg army.
  • Tilea — South of the Irrana Mountains and the Vaults, the fractious city-states of Tilea embrace trade, exploration and civil war with equal passion. Mercenary companies form the bulk of armies in these lands, often fighting on behalf of the wealthy rulers of the many republics and principalities or further north in the service of the Empire. Tilean armies can be represented by the Dogs of War army list. Tilea roughly corresponds to real world's Renaissance Italy.
  • Estalia — A peninsula southwest of Bretonnia, far from the threat of Chaos, this land is home to a kingdom, akin to the Iberian peninsula prior to the Reconquista along with some Renaissance Italy influences - The name "Estalia" is a mix-up of the names España (Spain) and Italia (Italy). Estalia was once occupied by forces from Araby (which mirrors the real life Iberian peninsula which was once under berber/arabian princes) but these were driven out by a combined effort by other Old World human realms. There is no oficial Estalian army book or list published by Games Workshop at this time, though one could use a Dogs of War army list as a basis for a royal or mercenary force from the peninsula or use one of the unoficial books publicated by independent players. Estalia's position in the Old World mirrors that of Spain and Portugal in Europe.
  • Norsca- Bordered to the North by the Chaos Wastes, to the South by the Sea of Claws, and to the East by Troll Country; Norsca is a wild country based on Scandinavia. The tribal and Viking like Norse worship a large pantheon of gods, including the Chaos Gods, and are often found among the ranks of the Warriors of Chaos serving in Marauders of Chaos units.
  • Kislev — A northern nation and an ally of the Empire under constant threat due to their close proximity to the maddening Realm of Chaos, reminiscent of a mixture of medieval Muscovy, Mongolia, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and relatively similar to the Slavic countries. In the most recent incarnation the Kislevites are remarkably similar to the medieval Russians, with Boyars, Kossars and the Tsar and Tsarina all being very similar adaptations of Russian creations. Kislevites can be taken as allies by some armies, and can be fielded as their own army through an Army Book published as a supplement with White Dwarf (in 2004) [1].

The North, East, and South

  • Albion - based upon Britain and Ireland, Albion is an island surrounded by mist and fog.[3] In 2001 Games Workshop ran a worldwide summer campaign based around control of the Isle of Albion which included rules for adverse weather conditions and stone circles which enhanced the abilities of magic users.
  • Cathay - based upon ancient China.[4]
  • Nippon - based upon ancient Japan
  • Araby - based on the Islamic Near East of the medieval period with units based largely on Arabian Nights style fantasy. Earlier background describes it as being divided into several theocratic states comprising a large empire ruled by the "Sultan of All Araby"[5].
  • Kingdoms of Ind - based upon India


The Elves were the third civilised race to walk the world. Brought from creation by the Old Ones, the Elves showed an adeptness at magic. Torn asunder many thousands of years ago by a great civil war, there are three major nations of Elves.

  • Dark Elves — The relentless and bitter Druchii of Naggaroth still follow Malekith, who was exiled but still claims to be the rightful heir to the throne of the Elven Kingdoms of Ulthuan. The dark elves are sworn enemies of the high elves and try incessantly to invade Ulthuan. Dark elves enjoy nothing more than inflicting pain and suffering on others and frequently launch raids throughout the Old World in order to capture more slaves to feed their hunger for cruelty. The Witch elves of Khaine perform blood rituals to rejuvenate their youth.[6]
  • High Elves — The Asur carry on the ancient traditions of the Elven people on the island continent of Ulthuan, as well as the burdens of many millennia of arrogance and warfare. With out them only deamons would exist.[7]
  • Wood Elves — The ruthless Asrai abandoned their kin to both protect and restrain the strange sentient forest of Athel Loren in the Old World. They resemble the Elves of Tolkien's Lothlórien. They appear to be neither good nor bad, as likely to kill lost travellers as to aid them. They are mortal enemies to the Beastmen, and wage a silent war against them.[8]

In the first edition of the game, there were two other Elven armies noted: the "Sea Elves" and the "Night Elves". Sea Elves were essentially the Elves of the more practical and worldly Outer Kingdoms of Ulthuan, and the Night Elves are now considered part of the Dark Elves.[citation needed]


The Dwarfs live in city fortresses dug into the mountains of the Old World. Their Chaos brethren occupy one huge towering city in the lands to the south east of the Old World.

  • Dwarfs — An ancient, grim, and determined race integral in the founding of the Empire, the Dwarfs spend their days avenging grudges and counting gold. Dwarfs are the greatest craftsmen in the Warhammer World and in addition to enjoying fine arms and armor they have the best heavy infantry and artillery in the game. Dwarf armies are well suited to defensive warfare, however due to their lack of mobility they do not do well when forced to go on the offensive. Dwarves are legendary for their ability to never forget nor forgive a wrong against them, their finely crafted weapons and armor, ability to consume large quantities of ale, extreme stubbornness, mistrust of elves, and hatred of greenskins. Dwarfs are the closest ally to Humanity, although the Elves of Ulthuan have united with the Humans as well in the last few hundred years.[9] Due to the horrid War of the Beard, Dwarfs hold a grudge against the High Elves.[2]
  • Chaos Dwarfs — Tireless overseers of soulless industry, the Chaos Dwarfs worship their own Chaos God; Hashut, the Father of Darkness. Their braided beards and Lamassu monsters are drawn from Mesopotamian art and mythology.[citation needed] As of 2011, the Chaos Dwarfs are available as a Forge World exlusive army, as well as three working as the crewmen of the Hellcannon in the Warriors of Chaos army, and as one of the ships in Dreadfleet


  • Lizardmen — This race, more than almost any other has undergone successive changes through the history of the Warhammer game - originally the 'native' race of the Warhammer World driven underground by the Slann prior to their vast terraforming (that creates the distinctive form of the continents compared to those of Earth), they fought an eons-long guerilla war against the amphibean aliens whose armies were then made up of Amazons, Pygmies, Lobotomised Slaves and Slann warriors.
  • In recent editions they have been reimagined to have been originally created by the Old Ones being the second civilization to come to the warhammer world precedeed by the old ones and succeeded by the elves to aid in their great genetic works, the Slann now lead the Lizardmen through prophesies containing ancient instructions from their gods, who may or may not some day return. Lizardmen are also based on the Aztec and Mayan cultures and are in the New World corresponding with South America.[10]

Orcs and Goblins (Greenskins)

The tribes of Orcs, Goblins and other Greenskins are spread across the Old World and into the east. They are mostly referred to in general as 'Greenskins' due to obvious reasons. The magic they use is called Waaagh! magic and is drawn from the power and energy of Greenskins fighting. Also, a horde of Orcs and/or Goblins is called a Waaagh![11]

Another relative of the Common Goblin is the Gnoblar, which is found living with the Ogre Hordes in the Mountains of Mourn.[12] East of the Mountains of Mourn, upon the borders of Cathay, live the Hobgoblins; a race of greenskins somewhere between the size of a Goblin and an Orc, but more cunning than either. Hobgoblins can also be found as slaves of the Chaos Dwarfs.[13] Smallest in size of all the Greenskin races is the Snotling. They are considered the lowliest of greenskins and are most often bullied around by their larger, greener cousins.[11]


The phrase "Slaves to Darkness" is used to cover all those who have fallen under the control of or pledged themselves to the Forces of the Chaos gods. While the energies of chaos touch all things magical, there are those who fully give themselves to the deities of this realm, and seek to conquer not just the works of the Old Ones, but the very fabric of reality itself.

There used to be a combined Chaos Army in the early 1990s, which was later split into the Beasts of Chaos and Hordes of Chaos army books. These books then subdivide the armies of Chaos further into Bestial, Mortal (humans), and Daemonic armies.

  • Beastmen — Whether born bestial to human parents or raised among mutants, Beastmen hate all that is civilized and untouched by the glories of chaos.
  • Warriors of Chaos — Primarily humans who are favoured by the Four Great Gods of chaos, these marauders emerge from the areas below the Northern Warp Gate and also possess one of the strongest cavalries and infantries in the game.
  • Daemons of Chaos - The servants of the chaos gods, made out of pure energy emerging from the northern and southern warp gates. These daemons only come out in times when the Chaos energies in the Warhammer World are strong.


Skaven or "Children of the Horned Rat" are a Chaotic mockery of Man's nations. Inventive and insane, the ratmen live in a vast network of tunnels beneath all the Warhammer World called the Under-empire. Many human denizens of the Old World do not believe the Skaven exist, much to their detriment. The crazed mechanics of Clan Skyre create powerful yet unreliable weapons to aid their rampages and it is said that one day the Grey Seers will unite them and take over the Old World. The Skaven have a general Steampunk motif, in that the Skaven use primitive and magic-driven science similar to alchemy and medieval proto-science. Some Skaven concepts might be inspired by the Old World's view of technology in imbalance or knowledge/science not held in check by morals (a theme which runs through the background of The Empire, in which wizards, gunpowder manufacturers and Sigmarite priests all try to limit or free themselves from the others influence).

The Undead

All undead in the Warhammer world are a result of the black sorceries devised by the first necromancer, Nagash, in the long distant past. The Undead are effectively split into two distinct armies: that of the Tomb Kings which has a strong ancient Egyptian feel with mummies and chariots driven by skeletons; and the army of the Vampire Counts which features vampires, zombies and so forth. They are colloquially known as "dry" and "wet" undead, respectively and are a mirror of the transilvania in renaissence period.

  • Vampire Counts — Disciples of Nagash who stole his secrets of eternal life, the Vampires and their minions have spread across the Old World, furthering their own aims. There are five playable vampire families, each with different ambitions, habits and powers: Von Carsteins, Necrarchs, Blood Dragons, Lahmians and Strigoi. Their armies consist mainly of classic undead, such as zombies, skeletons, vampires, bats, and ghosts.
  • Tomb Kings — In the hot desert lands of Nehekhara to the south of the Old World a race was once ruled by the necromancer Nagash. After a successful rebellion against his rule, he killed every mortal being in order to raise an unassailable army of the undead to conquer the world. He was stopped by the last king of Khemri. The aftermath of Nagash's great spell awakened several thousand years worth of the buried dead and their Kings as an undead army. Their armies consist mainly of Egyptian-style units, such as bowmen, light infantry and many chariots.

The Ogres

  • Ogre Kingdoms — Massive Eastern barbarians who will do any work for gold and will eat anything and anyone. They ride large beasts resembling mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers. As ogres are guided solely by their stomachs, they spread devastation and destruction wherever they go. Ogres are often considered to be a "neutral" army and can end up fighting for any side since they hire themselves out as mercenaries to feed their lust for food they have a resemblance of humans in the ice age or cave man.[12]


  1. ^ Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (Games Workshop, 1998) ISBN 1869893085
  2. ^ Warhammer Armies: The Empire (Games Workshop, 2000) ISBN 1841540595
  3. ^ Warhammer: Dark Shadows, (Games Workshop, 2001) ISBN 1-84154-198-2
  4. ^ Warhammer Rulebook (Gamesworkshop, 1996) ASIN B000QGG4SA
  5. ^ Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (main rulebook, 1986, reprint 1995)
  6. ^ Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (Nottingham: Games Workshop Ltd., 1998) ISBN
  7. ^ Warhammer Armies: High Elves(Nottingham: Games Workshop, 1993) ISBN - 872372635
  8. ^ Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (Nottingham: Games Workshop, 2006) ISBN 1872372457
  9. ^ Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (Nottingham: Games Workshop, 2000) ISBN 1841540668
  10. ^ Warhammer Lizardmen (Nottingham: Games Workshop Ltd., 2005) ISBN 1841546445
  11. ^ a b Warhammer Armies: Orcs and Goblins (Games Workshop Lts, 2000) ISBN 1841540609
  12. ^ a b Warhammer Armies: Ogre Kingdoms (Games Workshop Lts, 2004) ISBN 1841545317
  13. ^ White Dwarf Presents Warhammer Chaos Dwarfs (Games Workshop Lts, 1994) ISBN 1-872372-80-5
  • Gallard, Richard Wolfrik (1998). The World of Warhammer. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 1-85868-488-9. 
  • Warhammer Armies

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