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Author Topic: Upon the Realm of Chaos...  (Read 299 times)

Offline Michael W

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Upon the Realm of Chaos...
« on: January 26, 2021, 06:00:15 PM »
Random? musings on a topic that comes up in discussion from time to time...

I enjoy military history and world-building, and as such I am acutely aware of the major issue in the Warhammer world - that of how Chaos manages to muster vast armies and throw them at the Empire, which seems to be consistently outnumbered and overmatched time and again.  On the basis of geography, population density, and distance alone, it seems like such a campaign would be destined to failure before it ever began.  There is simply no way that Archaon can keep 100,000 northmen together for any length of time - his army would eat itself out of its own camp in a matter of days.

But there may be a way!

To my mind, the best way to map the north is to consider a piece of paper on a table.  The paper represents a normal region of the world - stable, consistent, measured.  But what happens if you push the ends of the paper together?  It rolls up like a wave.  It occupies less space on the table...yet the paper has the same surface area.  This effect could be considered to grow as one approaches the Polar Vortices.  In this way, the north is vast - much, much larger than a map reflects, and much larger than the men of the south can really comprehend.

But by the same token, the distance between two points on the paper can now be measured in two ways - one by measuring across the surface of the paper, up and down the waves; and the other by measuring from point to point in space.  And there are ways to travel the second way, understood by ritual or rote by the men of the north - for example, sacrificing blood upon the altar of Karamsun may open the Chiragan Pass, allowing travel to the green lands beyond in a matter of days; without the Pass, one must hike over the Giantsgorge Mountains, a journey that takes over a year.  The northmen don't know why the blood on the altar makes a difference, and they don't recognize that the Pass is, in effect, a magical portal that appears as the landscape they live in - but they do know that it works.

And as the Winds of Chaos grow from the north, the edges of the page condense further, and the point-to-point gaps become larger, more frequent, and more stable.  In this way, the men of the north have, in effect, access to much more of the north for hunting, gathering, scavenging, and pillaging as they prepare for their great wars.  They have less distance to travel to muster, and more direct access to home before they go.  They wouldn't think of it as odd, but the mustering would be not only an act of mortals but an act of the gods, condensing their very world so as to compel the concentration of forces.

The concept is entirely open to further exploration, of course; perhaps there are vast kingdoms and empires unseen by any southern eye; maybe time moves more slowly higher up the crests, so that the warriors who invade the Empire are led by living veterans of the last war, 300 years ago; and perhaps the effect of strong faith in Sigmar is like a paperweight, crushing down the crests and flattening the world, limiting the northmen to the physical rules that the south lives by.

Just my musings, and I'm sure there are logical flaws in there.  Thoughts?
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Offline Naitsabes

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Re: Upon the Realm of Chaos...
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2021, 05:33:49 AM »
Heady stuff! I am buying it.

I think you need to expand that concept to how time flows differently up there and maybe goes faster at times (or faster in some areas). This allows for replenishing the manpower of the vast tribes after each and every chaos invasion (except for the last of course) gets beaten back and countless Northmen die.

Where the concept struggles a bit is how does that vast horde do the march south without starving? Once it hits ~Troll County the 'normal' laws of physics should apply and 100,000 Northmen should struggle to stay fed.
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Offline S.O.F

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Re: Upon the Realm of Chaos...
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2021, 05:10:15 PM »
I think one of the other key points is differentiating the Marauder Tribes from the armies of Chaos themselves in addition to the overall discussion of the geography of the North. A Marauder proper is a mortal that has taken the first steps on the path of glory and has begun to divorce themselves from the concerns of the mortal world. Sure during incursions tribesmen and other hangers on may join a Chaos Warlord for plunder they most likely melt away when they have enough spoils or the fighting turns against them. The Marauders that a permanently part of Warlords warband are those that have given up their semi-settled or pastoral lives, though supplemented by seasonal raiding of rivals or southern lands, among their fellow tribesmen to fight in the Realm of Battles, the wastes not yet completely overtaken by daemons but the lands where the various Chaos Champions fight for the gaze of the gods.

So as time moves at a different rate in the wastes, for example in Daemonslayer the Dwarfs of Kazad Dum marked it had been twenty years by their reckoning that the Great War had taken place though in the lands outside the wastes 200 years had elapsed, when great forces emerge out of the north they are not really representative of the current population of tribesmen but more generations of warriors that have gone further north to take part in constant warfare found in the realm of battles.
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Upon the Realm of Chaos...
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2021, 05:57:42 PM »
It is starting to sound like relativity and physics, and the warping of time.
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Offline Michael W

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Re: Upon the Realm of Chaos...
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2021, 10:21:03 PM »
Where the concept struggles a bit is how does that vast horde do the march south without starving? Once it hits ~Troll County the 'normal' laws of physics should apply and 100,000 Northmen should struggle to stay fed.
I'm more okay with them heading south - Kislev and the Empire certainly have substantially more agricultural land than the north, and a hundred thousand troops can move through a country that provides sufficient provisions (though of course they'll strip it bare in the process).  It also sort of explains why their invasions hit so hard and fast - they have to, because if they don't push forward they will run out of food (and a cunning southern commander would use any delay to remove possible provisions from their path).

Along those lines, Asavar Kul's siege of Praag would have stripped all of northern Kislev of supplies, and the siege of Kislev itself would have presumably seen much of his army out foraging - only a small portion of his troops would actually be stationed around the city.  But that's not unlike the Siege of Acre - the Crusaders also launched a campaign without any real kind of planned logistical support and, it turned out, it sucked.

SOF - Agreed.  I don't really have a great sense of how actual often Chaos Invasions are; I mean, in 6e it had been, what 300 years since the last one?  That's a lot of time to replenish manpower up north.  It would actually be another factor explaining how a Chaos invasion is so immensely massive; the north is effectively sending half its men to harass the Empire and stockpiling the other half for a real war later.  =P

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Offline S.O.F

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Re: Upon the Realm of Chaos...
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2021, 01:47:27 PM »
Along those lines, Asavar Kul's siege of Praag would have stripped all of northern Kislev of supplies, and the siege of Kislev itself would have presumably seen much of his army out foraging - only a small portion of his troops would actually be stationed around the city.

Some of a chaos host maybe but it is perhaps the case that Chaos Warriors themselves have already transcended normal needs of food or water. I think there is a line in Beastslayer along those lines, so the Beastmen and Mutants eat their kills or each other, the attached tribesmen forage for for themselves, and the core of the Chaos warbands the Warriors and the like from out of the wastes no longer have these same level of needs.

If you can turn up a copy I would suggest Riders of the Dead to give you a look at Kislev and Kurgan on campaign. It covers two demilancers during Surtha Lenk's precursor attack before Archaon. Lenk's horde is only said to be at best 10,000 strong or so, mad of mortal tribesmen so a much more sustainable on campaign. Further covers a lot on the unattached and opportunist northmen raiders that use incursions to pillage but don't care at all about any of the Chaos Champions aims.
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Offline Michael W

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Re: Upon the Realm of Chaos...
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2021, 04:35:22 PM »
I remember that book, I believe.  By Abnett, want it?  I remember being really annoyed at how the battles didn't line up with WHFB gameplay at all (ie, the Chaos troops sent warhounds into halberdier regiments to break up their formation, and the Empire troops apparently had no idea how to fight against Chaos tactics).  Also, someone threw a javelin through a knight in plate armor, which just...no.

I'd read Gav Thorpe's Claws of Chaos series right before that, and while the plot wasn't great at least I knew that he'd played the game, right down to cannon-sniping the Khornate champion.   :eusa_clap:

All that said, Chaos warriors transcending mortal needs I can get behind.  I see them as comparatively rare - certainly most of the army, numerically, is mortals - maybe touched by the gods but not blessed by them.  But that solid core would form a reliable point on which marauders and others could return to - a home-away-from-home, so to speak - which would keep them as part of the army.  It would be a much shorter distance back to camp than it would all the way back up north.
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Offline S.O.F

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Re: Upon the Realm of Chaos...
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2021, 11:07:01 PM »
I remember being really annoyed at how the battles didn't line up with WHFB gameplay at all...  Also, someone threw a javelin through a knight in plate armor, which just...no.

This strikes me as a boast of a man that has never failed an armor save  :wink:
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