Chaos Dwarfs (Warhammer)

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Chaos Dwarfs are a fictional race in the Warhammer Fantasy universe in which they are described as being an off-shoot of the Dwarfs who have been corrupted by the forces of Chaos. They are represented within Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Blood Bowl and other games produced by Games Workshop. Chaos Dwarfs differ from normal Dwarfs in that while the latter avoid magic, Chaos Dwarfs are ruled by Sorcerers and have various rules for the use of magic.

Chaos Dwarfs began as optional units played as part of Chaos armies, but were later expanded to become a full army in their own right, though with a redesigned style and new playing rules. Since then they have been revamped several times. As of Games Workshop's 2007 overhaul of the fantasy gaming system Chaos Dwarfs are supported only as a legacy army under the older Ravening Hordes rules published through White Dwarf. Their army lists and rules were removed from the Games Workshop websites from 2007 onwards. Until 2010 the only Chaos Dwarf models in production were the crew of the Hellcannon in the Warriors of Chaos army, until Warhammer Forge was publicly announced and included in their sample models were the Chaos Dwarf Engineer, Steam Engine Skullcracker and several other Chaos Dwarf models. In autumn 2011, Warhammer Forge released Tamurkhan: Throne of Chaos, which include the rules for a Chaos Dwarf Army. This returned the Chaos Dwarfs to official playability for the first time in over 10 years.

Development history[edit]

The background and rules for Chaos Dwarfs appeared in early editions of WFB and they were given several entries in Warhammer Armies and Slaves to Darkness for the 3rd edition as part of the Chaos army. For the 4th edition they became a full army in their own right, gaining a detailed background and full range of miniatures. However, unlike the other armies they were not given a proper Warhammer Armies book but instead had material that had already been published over several issues of White Dwarf issued as a single publication: White Dwarf Presents: Chaos Dwarfs. This included all of the standard army book contents but the material was not edited to work as a single book.

In the 1990s, the Chaos Dwarfs were a fully supported army but by the end of the decade the models were no longer stocked in Games Workshop stores due to lack of popularity with players. It was thought they would be removed from the game entirely, like the Squats in Warhammer 40,000. This turned out to be unfounded when Games Workshop published an army list for them in the supplement Ravening Hordes when 6th edition Warhammer was released. Despite this, there was next to no material about them in any Games Workshop publication for the following few years.

The Chaos Dwarfs are no longer directly supported as a full army like most in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle table top game. Their only "army book" is now out of date since the Ravening Hordes rules and Chaos Dwarf FAQ were removed from the Games Workshop website. There isn't a range of miniatures in the shops, but some of the miniatures were available from the Games Workshop Online Store for a time after the range was removed from the stores. However, around the end of 6th edition in 2005, the Chaos Dwarf miniature range was discontinued and made completely unavailable from Games Workshop.

In the most recent edition of Warhammer, the Game of Fantasy Battles, there have been references to the Chaos Dwarfs in the rulebook and several of the newer army books for other armies. No new miniatures or army lists have been officially released by Games Workshop.

Rumours of the Chaos Dwarfs return spread amongst players. This due to the army being mentioned regularly in written Games Workshop material, and the Hellcannon crew being actual Chaos Dwarfs. A recent phenomenon among fans is converting Chaos Dwarfs using Dwarfs from the Battle of Skull Pass boxed set and parts such as arms and helmets from the Marauder and Warriors boxed set.

During September 2010 Warhammer Forge was publicly announced as a Fantasy equivalent to Forge World, and included in the many display models were numerous Chaos Dwarf models, including the Chaos Dwarf Engineer, many large steam powered war machines and several crew models.

Note that although the Chaos Dwarf army was not available in shops at the time, they were featured as an army in the Storm of Chaos worldwide campaign and they can be seen in the "Faction Rankings" section of the official website. They were an allowed army in the Games Workshop US 'Ard Boyz tournament of 2009. As of 7th edition, the Chaos Dwarfs still did not have an army book but the rules given on the GW website and the Ravening Hordes list were still legal at official events and most players allowed their use in pick up games. With the arrival of 8th edition the rules given on the GW website and in the Ravening Hordes list became unofficial, preventing their use at official GW tournaments. This changed with the release of Warhammer Forge's first book Tarmurkhan: The Throne of Chaos, which contained an army list for the Chaos Dwarfs which the book itself says to treat as official. This coincided with a new range of Forgeworld models which updated the look of the Chaos Dwarfs to match the 6th edition style and included brand new units.

Other Games Workshop games[edit]

Chaos Dwarfs were part of the Chaos team in the 2nd edition of the fantasy football game Blood Bowl. In the 3rd edition and all other editions up to the present, they have always been a full and valid team of their own. Their miniatures are all in the 4th/5th edition Warhammer style and are as widely available as the other Blood Bowl teams.

Chaos Dwarfs had a fleet in the sea battle game Man O' War. This built on their industrial theme with large warships armed with rockets and advanced weapons.

Evolution of style[edit]

In their first appearances Chaos Dwarfs were just Dwarfs who had been affected by Chaos in the same way as humans fall under its effect. They had the look and style of the Chaos Warriors of the time. It was not until the 4th edition of Warhammer that the new style with their own land and society came to be described. These Chaos Dwarfs were portrayed in a semi-Assyrian/Babylonian style. Their beards are arranged in vertical curls, and their armour (particularly helmets), weapons and architecture are reminiscent of these cultures. These Chaos Dwarfs had a much more unified feel to them, and were much beloved by many players, often referred to as "Big Hats". In 6th edition Warhammer, Chaos Dwarfs appeared as crew for the large Chaos Hellcannon in the Storm of Chaos Campaign book, the style was updated, replacing the Chaos like helmets and the big hats of old, with an entirely new look consisting of metal mask and leather cowl. Forgeworld released a new line of Chaos Dwarf models in 2011 which continued this theme to some extent, but also featured a number of characters that combined the look with the "big hat" style. The rank and file miniatures wear a combination of plate armour and platemail, with helmets that cover the face, the lore material does however state that this style is by in large reserved for soldiers who have been shamed in some fashion.

Game background[edit]

Thousands of years ago in the timeline of the Warhammer universe, a group of Dwarfs moved northwards from their ancestral home somewhere in the Southlands. They moved along the high ridge of the mountains known as the World's Edge Mountains, following the trail of mineral ores and precious gems, eventually reaching the region at the far north of the World's Edge Mountains which they called Zorn Uzkul or the Great Skull Land. This was a vast, cold, and inhospitable plateau where the air was thin and the rocks bare. From this point, some of the Dwarfs turned east and then south along the barren Mountains of Mourn.

Then came the Time of Chaos. The Dwarfs who dwelled in the west believed that those who had travelled east had been destroyed by the tides of Chaos that swelled in from the north, but this was not true. The forces of Chaos did not fatally mutate the hardy Dwarfs as it would have done for weaker species such as humans, but instead changed them in much smaller ways. The most common mutations amongst Chaos Dwarfs are prominent tusks, or hooves instead of feet. Chaos Dwarfs also lack the western Dwarf's resistance to magic because of their more direct exposure to Chaos.

Homelands[edit]

Chaos Dwarfs occupy a region of the fictional Warhammer World that would roughly coincide with Central Asia in the real world. It is known as the Dark Lands and lies to the east of the Old World and to the west of the Mountains of Mourn and Cathay. It is a large plain and mostly barren, filled with ash and fire.

The Chaos Dwarfs' major city is Zharr-Naggrund. Zharr-Naggrund is situated in the middle of the Plain of Zharr, a massive crater in the Darklands full of underground workshops and mines. Much of their activity goes toward building and preserving this city. It is in the form of a massive ziggurat, with gates larger than there is any need for, which led to it being also called The Tower of Zharr-Naggrund. On the top of the city is the Temple of Hashut, where slaves are sacrificed to their god Hashut. The mighty city is the centre of Chaos Dwarf lands, but there are others. Far to the south is the Black Tower. The Tower of Gorgorth is situated in the Mountains of Ash. Both Daemon's Stump and the Black Fortress are situated close to the Mountains of Mourn, where Ogres trade slaves and plunder for metal and black-powder weapons.

Society[edit]

In the backstory to Warhammer, the Chaos Dwarfs hate their brethren for abandoning them to the wave of Chaos. The Dwarfs , in turn, have completely disowned their evil kin, even going so far as to rewrite their family histories to make it seem as if they never existed. Chaos Dwarfs are unlike other Warhammer Dwarfs in many ways, being enthusiastic slavers with Orc and Goblin slaves, as well as humans, under hobgoblin overseers. Many of them are potent Sorcerers, using magic more like other races rather than the purely runic magic of other Dwarfs. They worship a god named Hashut, also known as the "Father of Darkness", rather than the Dwarf ancestor gods.

Unlike most of the races in Warhammer Fantasy, Chaos Dwarfs see little need for further campaigns into distant lands to gain more land or belongings; they have all the slaves they need in the Mountains of Mourn and the Dark Lands, along with more material wealth than they actually need; although being Dwarfs, they continue to search for more.

There are relatively few Chaos Dwarfs despite the fact unlike their former kin they are growing in number, the vast numbers of slaves who toil in the Tower of Zharr-Naggrund and in the Plain of Zharrduk outnumber them many times over. All the Chaos Dwarfs belong to one of the Chaos Dwarf Sorcerers, they are his subjects and also his kinsmen, bonded by ties of blood-loyalty which all Chaos Dwarfs deem unbreakable. Bands of Chaos Dwarfs scour the Dark Lands searching for captives to bring back to Zharr-Naggrund to work in the mines and forges, or to sacrifice at the Temple of Hashut. The temple is guarded by Bull Centaurs.

Sorcerers[edit]

According to White Dwarf Presents: Chaos Dwarfs, the Chaos Dwarf Sorcerers rule over the Tower of Zharr-Naggrund as the lords and masters of the Chaos Dwarfs and high priests of Hashut. They specialize in the study of machines and magic combined to produce arcane engines of power and destruction. There are only a few, probably no more than a few hundred amongst the whole Chaos Dwarf race. There is no leader nor formal hierarchy; the strongest voices are the oldest and most powerful. Each Chaos Dwarf Sorcerer controls part of the city, with its own workshops and forges, slaves and warriors, as part of his personal dominion.

The more Chaos Dwarf Sorcerers use magic the more it affects them. Although slow the process once started is inexorable, in newer sources it is however stated that the process begins and continues through losing control of their power. From the feet up they slowly turn to stone. Over time, the entire body turns to stone and he becomes a statue to be placed along with the others lining the roadways around the Tower of Zharr-Naggrund.

Slaves and subject races[edit]

The acquisition of slaves is very important to Chaos Dwarfs because they are totally dependent upon captives to keep their city and industries going. Bands of Chaos Dwarfs will travel many hundreds of miles to raid Orc or Goblin strongholds in the Mountains of Mourn, and when they conquer a tribe they take as many prisoners back to their city as they can. The more captives they take the more successful the expedition is judged to have been. All wars of conquest are fought with the aim of taking slaves; the Chaos Dwarfs are not interested in expanding their territories further, for the Mountains of Mourn and the Plain of Zharrduk contain all the wealth that they require. Sometimes whole armies of Chaos Dwarfs march against the Orc and Goblin tribes, subduing one tribe after another before returning to the Tower of Zharr-Naggrund laden with slaves.

The Chaos Dwarfs trade slaves with the Goblin tribes, choosing to use the Goblins as intermediaries rather than advance further into the Old World.

Hashut[edit]

The nature of the god Hashut is unclear in Warhammer Fantasy. Many people assume that he is a Chaos god simply because Chaos Dwarfs have the word "Chaos" in their name, and because Chaos Dwarfs are included in the background and army lists of those who worship the "big four" Chaos gods. Although Hashut is mentioned in much of the Chaos Dwarf background, he is only called a Chaos god within the rules-specific section of White Dwarf Presents: Chaos Dwarfs. The only other reference to Hashut in any Warhammer-related product is found in the WFRP 2nd edition book "Tome of Salvation", where a brief entry describes him as a deity of darkness and corruption.

Forces[edit]

Chaos Dwarf Warriors[edit]

Chaos Dwarf Warriors are the only mandatory unit in a Chaos Dwarf army. They can be armed with hand weapons, great weapons, blunderbusses and the fire glaive.

Black Orcs[edit]

Main article: Black Orcs

Many years ago in the history of the game, the Chaos Dwarf Sorcerers tried to breed their own Orc race, a race of slaves that could work in the most hostile parts of their realm. They already had thousands of Orc and Goblin slaves, but the Chaos Dwarfs found them unruly and inefficient because they would, as is their habit, often fight amongst themselves. Using evil magic and careful selection, the Chaos Dwarfs created a new type of Orc: stronger than an ordinary Orc but more loyal and not given to squabbling.

The experiment worked at first, but the Black Orcs proved far too independent-minded to make good slaves. They were well organized, often starting rebellions and leading the other Orcs and Goblins into armed revolt. After several near disasters, the Chaos Dwarfs decided to drive them from the city forever and many Black Orcs escaped into the Mountains of Mourn where their descendants remain to this day. Others undertook the long journey to the west and eventually reached the Old World.

Hobgoblins[edit]

During the height of the largest and most savage Black Orc rebellion the Chaos Dwarfs were almost overcome. Vastly outnumbered by their former slaves they were driven upwards through the layers of their city, fighting for each level, ascending ever closer to the Temple of Hashut itself. At the final hour the city was saved by the treachery of the Hobgoblins, who, having rebelled along with the Black Orcs, switched their allegiance once more and turned the tide against the Orc rebels. In doing so the Hobgoblins earned the enmity of the other green-skinned races who deeply distrust them to this day.

The Hobgoblins enjoy the favor of the Chaos Dwarfs and care little what other greenskins think of them. Unlike the Chaos Dwarfs other slaves, they are not made to work in the pits and workshops, but are used as servants and warriors. They are a sneaky, evil-minded race; other greenskins despise them and would certainly kill them were it not for the power they enjoy amongst the Chaos Dwarfs.

Hobgoblins are distinctive in appearance. They look much like Goblins, but they are taller, though nowhere near as burly as Orcs. In fact their whole appearance is thin and sneaky, with narrow eyes and sneering mouths full of pointy teeth. They ride giant wolves and often carry bows to shoot the enemy from a distance. The Chaos Dwarfs utilize many Hobgoblins in their armies but don't really trust them. The Chaos Dwarfs know that the Hobgoblins are despised by other greenskins, and need the protection of the Chaos Dwarfs to survive.

Monsters[edit]

The Great Taurus is a huge winged bull with a tough hide and capable of breathing fire like a dragon. The Great Taurus is the preferred mount amongst high ranking Chaos Dwarf generals. The Lammasu has large bat-like wings but is more intelligent and more Dwarven in appearance in many ways. The Lammasu is believed to be a mutation of a Great Taurus and is favoured over the Taurus by Sorcerers, for it has a natural resistance to magic. Its face is like that of a grotesque Dwarf, while its front legs have claws; the back ones are hooved. The Games Workshop description is a little different from the Lammasu of middle-eastern mythology but has many similarities.

War machines[edit]

In the background of the army, Chaos Dwarfs are reported to be great engineers. They have many war machines, the Death Rocket, and Earthshaker, and one daemonic war machine, the Hellcannon. In the most recent edition they have created several extremely large warmachines including the Skullcracker, Magma Cannon, Steam Engine (part of a land train), Siege Bombard and Demolition Rockets. In the book Grudgebearer, all of these machines are made daemonic by the priests of Hashut. Chaos Dwarfs had many more War Machines in the 3rd Edition of Warhammer. These included the Bazooka, Mortar, Whirlwind, Tenderiser, Swivel Gun and the Juggernaut.

The Earthshaker is a devastating, mortar-like weapon that fires a large explosive shell that cause the ground to tremor upon impact. The Death Rocket is more common and consists of an erratic rocket that can bounce randomly in several directions before exploding.

Other war machines are from the Games Workshop game Man O' War which is set in the same universe. These are huge weapons set on the decks of warships called the Hellfire Battlebarge and Great Leveller Battlebarge. The other two ships, the Thunder Roller and Hull Destroyer, rely on their engine power to ram enemy vessels.

Chaos Dwarfs are also credited with designing and supplying the Juggernaughts of Khorne in earlier lore.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Games Workshop (1994). White Dwarf Presents Warhammer Chaos Dwarfs. ISBN 1-872372-80-5
  • Games Workshop (2006). Warhammer Armies: Orcs & Goblins.
  • Games Workshop (2005). Grudgebearer. Thorpe, Gav.
  • Games Workshop (2008). Warhammer Armies: Warriors of Chaos
  • Games Workshop/Warhammer Forge (2011). Tamurkhan: Throne of Chaos

External links[edit]