The campaign is set in a modified variant of the Old World, the setting of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Warhammer Fantasy Battle. The Old World as a setting has gone through many changes and permutations through various editions of the games. My modified Old World is mostly based on the setting as presented in 1st Edition WFRP rather than later editions.
(If you’re interested in more about how the setting evolved, these blog posts by Joseph Manola are an excellent place to start:
- Bringing Down the Hammer 1: WFRP, 1st and 2nd edition
- Bringing Down the Hammer 2: WHFRP 2nd edition corebook )
However, even compared to the 1st Edition setting I’ve taken a lot of liberties with the setting. I’m not going to describe the whole setting on this blog since there’s tons and tons of Warhammer lore online (the WFRP 1st Edition Wiki is a good start), but I’ll note the most obvious changes I’ve made to my version of the setting here. The notes are eventually going to get fleshed out a bit.
Humans and others
No sub-Tolkien humanoid races – all PCs are human. Elves, dwarves and goblins (of various sizes) are rarely-seen faerie beings who mostly stay far away. More “enlightened” folks don’t believe in them. (Ulthuan and Naggaroth may exist, but if so they are as yet undiscovered by human explorers.) No orcs either, but beastmen, Skaven and mutant humans are around, as well as Slann and possibly lizardmen far away. Not to mention undead and so on.
No D&D-style fantasy polytheism. Most of the Old World follows various strains of the Faith of the Five (kind of a mashup of A Song of Ice & Fire‘s ‘Faith of the Seven’ and the canonical Old World’s Southern pantheon, filling a role similar to the Christian church). Sigmar is the patron saint of the Empire; Ulric is not the name of a god but a religious reformer like Luther. (This mean the religious conflict within the Empire can be international, and it’s more closely modeled on the historical religious conflicts of the 16th and 17th centuries.)
As suggested in the Introduction, and like 1st edition WFRP but unlike later ones, the threat of Chaos is not an obvious outside military threat but more of an insidious “enemy within”. The ‘great war against Chaos’ 200 years ago appeared mainly as an invasion of Norse and Kurgan barbarians with some weird magical shit going on rather than a full-on magical war.
The Empire mostly resembles its 1st edition incarnation, a ramshackle federation inspired by the 16th-century Holy Roman Empire and Central Europe in general. It’s not quite as dominant in my Old World as in most official versions.
As for other countries, very briefly:
- Bretonnia is loosely modeled on late 16th-century France, with intermittent religious civil wars and a theoretically centralized but in fact very unstable monarchy. The backwards region of l’Armorique has similarities with the medieval-ish Bretonnia of 2nd edition WFRP.
- Albion mainly resembles an early Tudor England.
- Norsca is somewhere between the rougher reaches of medieval Scandinavia and the Iron Islands of A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Estalia is more united and powerful, resembling Spain in the early Conquistador era.
- Tilea is much like in WFRP: a collection of city states and tiny kingdoms divided by a common language and culture.
- “Araby” (come on, really?) is renamed the Sultanate of Taashin and is an analogue of the 16th/17th Century Ottoman empire. The Badlands are borderlands of the Sultanate.
- Where the “Darklands” are on the canonical Warhammer maps, I’ve got the Silk Road. Heavily based on Joseph Manola’s “Against the Wicked City” setting.
Powerful sorcery exists, but is rare and deeply distrusted because of its roots in Chaos. There are obviously no “Colleges of Magic” as in later Warhammer. The respectable variety of scholarly “magic” is alchemy, and hedge magic, weak magic rituals/charms and so on are common superstition.
While most iterations of WFRP have been a bit vague and inconsistent on gender roles in the setting (though 4th edition, gratifyingly, has been more explicit about equality), my version of the Old World is explicitly gender-equal. To reflect this fact, I’ve gender-swapped a number of NPCs from the original adventures.