Tomb Kings (Warhammer)
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In Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe, Tomb Kings is an army in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle game. Up until and including the fifth edition of Warhammer, there was an all-inclusive Undead army, with the skeletons and mummies being the predecessor to what would be known as the Tomb Kings. During the 5th edition, in 1999, the Vampire Counts were split off into their own army, and at the start of 6th edition Tomb Kings were included in the ravening hordes supplement. In 2002 the first Tomb Kings army book was released, with an expanded back-story that details the rift between the two Undead factions. The current Army Book of the Tomb Kings was released in May 2011 for the Eighth Edition of Warhammer Fantasy.
The Tomb Kings were once rulers of Nehekhara, a vast, fertile kingdom analogous to ancient Egypt and the Mesopotamian civilizations, but not identical to them. Nehekhara was a land of many war-torn kingdoms. The divided land was eventually unified by the First King of Nehekhara, King Settra. King Settra was a beloved ruler that led Nehekhara into a golden age, yet time was not on his side. As Settra grew older he began to turn his gaze towards extending his rule into the afterlife. He charged his priests of the 'Mortuary Cult', who tended the mummified remains of the past rulers, to use their magics to develop a spell for everlasting life. After many years the priests were able to develop two spells: the first was one that would simply prolong life, the user would still age indefinitely, and the other would allow for the resurrection of the user. With promises that they would find a spell for true eternal life, the priests cast the magics that would allow them to reanimate the dead onto King Settra as he died. It would be this spell that would cause the eventual damnation of all of Nehekhara.
Huge necropoleis of the dead, full of pyramids and temples eventually surrounded and dwarfed all the inhabited cities. Over hundreds of years, the necromancer Nagash waged a series of wars with the Nehekharans. His failure to dominate the region was bittersweet, as a final curse of epic proportions slew the populace and rendered the once-fertile kingdoms desert. Through the polluting side effects of Nagash's curse combining with the ancient Nehekharan magics, and the manner of burial, the Tomb Kings were reborn. Unlike the other mindless creations of Nagash the ancient Kings were reborn with their mind and will intact, due to the embalming rituals performed on them before their deaths. Instead of being reborn in paradise with healthy young bodies as promised by the priests they were born in rotting corpses, the once fertile land they ruled now a barren desert.
Their armies are based around deployments typical of Mesopotamian/Egyptian antiquity. Large blocks of light infantry armed with bows, axes, maces, spears, and shields are supported by chariots and light cavalry. One such cavalry are Necropolis Knights, ancient elite warriors mounted on animated serpentine statues of bone, metal and marble. Tomb Kings are also able to summon swarms of scarabs to aid them in battle.
The Tomb King army also fields other large Undead constructs assembled from bone, marble and ancient statues these include gigantic undead scorpions, carrion Vultures of the desert and even the animated skeletons of ancient giants. Other Sand animated statues of the ancient gods of Khemri also march with the undead horde such as the mighty Ushabti, the Snake like Sepulchral Stalkers, Warsphinxs which can serve as monstrous mounts by either a squad of elite tomb guard or a Tomb King himself, The most deadly construct in a Tomb King army however is the Giant Necrosphinx, an animated statue capable of decapitating a dragon with a single strike of its ancient blades. Every Tomb Kings army must be led by a King or Prince (the army's General). His force of will drives the host forward, while the accompanying Liche Priests or High Priest (one called the Hierophant is compulsory in every Tomb Kings army) animates the dead. An army can usually survive the death of its General, but once the Hierophant is slain, it is only a matter of time before all non-character models collapse into the sand.
The army was best known for its magic: Liche Priests and High Liche Priests (along with Tomb Kings and Princes to a lesser degree) employ a variety called "Nehekharan Incantations". In the sixth edition the magic did not follow the normal Warhammer rules for magic; they were not subject to Miscasts or Irresistible Force but were cast automatically. Priests did not roll for their spells as most Warhammer wizards; each knows all four incantations (Tomb Kings and Princes knew a set two). However, in the updated version of Tomb Kings the Liche priests now have a new magic lore known as the Lore of Nehekhara along with the ability to now access the Lore of Light and the Lore of Death.