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  1. #1
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    Jul 2013

    A guide to the AoS setting

    I just posted this on TGA, but thought it may interest someone in here.

    I just ended up reading AllGates and I must say that, though I have been very critical of the setting and narrative of AoS so far, it is starting to get good and exciting. In fact, out of excitement, I have decided to write this little introduction/guide to it. The guide serves as a small summary of the way in which AoS setting should be read, along with a review of its achievements and lingering flaws. Please, feel free to add any or to discuss of the topics regarding the setting in this thread.

    I. General idea of the AoS setting

    Most of us, fluff lovers of games, might have felt a little lost with the AoS setting after the end of WHFB in its original form. It was quite obvious that it was a "higher" fantasy setting which stopped dealing with mortal resistance against unstoppable god powers and moved to a "battle of gods" kind of setting. But it somehow felt like it did not work up to AllGates. Allgates is the first time in which the AoS setting seems to have a logic which is working.
    The main idea of the setting can be summarized in the following way: unlike a civilization resistance setting (WHFB), AoS is a total war setting. The idea behind it is to construct a conflict so vast, that it can be the base for decades of gaming in an evolving setting. As the factions that fight each other have huge amounts of resources at their disposal (therefore: total war), the setting feels like a logistic struggle.

    II. The participants of the AoS total war
    AoS factions in war are divided along four grand alliances: Chaos, Order, Destruction and Death. This Grand Alliances do not represent, however, individual players, but rather orientations. Chaos stands for chaotic dominion on the base of primal emotions and phanomenae, although it represents also oppression and slavery. Order stands for civilization. Destructions stands for, well, destruction (war for its own sake). Death, finally, stands for total order through soul dominion.

    However, the big participants in the AoS total war are not the alliances, which in general lack any central power, but gods. This are the big players of the game:
    1) Chaos:

    -Khorne: The blood and war god. Primal entity who resides in the realm of chaos, formed by emotions of anger and wrath. His armies are both mortal (Bloodbound) and daemonic. At the start of the Age of Sigmar, Khorne is dominating power both in the Mortal Realms and in the Realm of Chaos. As Sigmar is focussing on his armies – which is proved by the fact his main attacks took place in the MR controlled by Khorne, Aqsy –, his strenght seems to be waning. But Khorne is the god of war and cares not from whence the blood flows, only that it does, so even in defeat he gains strength by the mere fact that there is war.

    -Tzeentch: the great deceiver, god of change, deceive and magic. His dominion over the Realm of Chaos is called the Crystal Labyrinth. As any Chaos God, his armies are both daemonic and mortal (Arcanists). Although he holds control over Chamon, at the start of the Age of Sigmar he seemed to be in a weaker state than Nurgle and Khorne. Tzeentch plays the long game though and his fortune seems to be in the rise.

    -Nurgle: the great corrupter, god of disease and plagues. His armies are also daemonic and mortal (Rotbringers). Holds control of a portion of the Realm of Chaos (Nurgle's Garden) as well as parts of the Mortal Realms, including most of Ghyran. At the start of the Age of Sigmar, it was the most powerful faction after Khorne and seemed to be in the verge of reversing the balance of power by capturing Alarielle and ending the War of Life. Badly defeated with Alarielle's resurgence though and on the verge of losing most of his control over Ghyran

    -Slaanesh: the Dark Prince, youngest of the big chaos gods, the god of pleasure and strong emotions, nemesis of the elves: when they die, their soul is "eaten" by Slaanesh. After the destruction of the Old World, including all elven realms, he could not diggest so many elven souls, so he was tracked and captured by the elven gods (Malerion and Tyrion). Currently missing. His portion of the Realm of Chaos is currently controlled by the other gods.

    -The Great Horned Rat: God of the skaven. His armies including both mortals (the skaven) as well as daemons (Verminlords). But his control over daemons is rather tenuous, so the armies tend to be known under a single name (Skaven). Holds control of some obscure regions of the Realm of Chaos. Status in the Mortal Realms unknown, but that is to be expected: the power of the skaven lies precisely on the secrecy.

    -Archaon: the Three Eyed King. Formerly a templar of Sigmar in the world that was, he turned to Chaos when he though he had discovered the lie about Sigmar's existence. He then claimed all of the Everchosen's relics; artifacts whose acquisition, following trials, allowed to claim the title of champion of Chaos undivided and therefore lead unified Chaos troops. Subsequently invaded the Old World and set its destruction in motion. Although defeated by Sigmar and the incarnates in the final battle, they could not stop the destruction of the World that Was, setting up the process which lead to the new formation of the Mortal Realms. Still Everchosen of Chaos, so he leads unified chaos armies and his own faction (the Everchosen). Holds control of the Allpoints (Eightpoints), the main transportation hub in the Mortal Realms, allowing him to reinforce locations as needed.

    2) Order

    -Sigmar: the God-King. Formerly son of a barbarian king and then barbarian king himself. He saved a dwarven king from being taken hostage by orcs, gaining the trust of the great dwarven empire and uniting the barbarian tribes with dwarven armies to erradicate most of the orcs in his region. He then founded the Empire, the greatest nation of men. Trapped by Tzeentch in the winds of magic. Treated as main god in the pantheon of the Empire. He was released from his prison in the winds of magic 2500 years later when Teclis liberated them to form the incarnates in the final war against chaos. He then assumed the body of the dying Emperor of the Empire, Karl Franz, and became the Incarnate of Heavens. Failed to save the World that Was despite defeating Archaon, but managed somehow reform them (or travel to them, very unclear) as the Mortal Realms. Since then God of Heavens, ruler of Azyr and main deity (at least in his mind) in the non-chaotic pantheon of the Mortal Realms. His armies include both the Stormcast Eternals, elite shock troops, and many mortal factions of men, elves and dwarves.

    -Alarielle: formerly the Everqueen of Ulthuan, the realm of the High Elves. She was given the gift of life by the dying Queen of the Woods, Ariel and became Incarnate of Life as the wind of life used her as beacon after its liberation by Teclis. Survived the End Times and then became (somehow) Goddess of Life and Ruler of Ghyran. Out of melancholy pulled herself away from the war against Chaos and after the defeat of the Order armies, her realm was mostly conquered and she was herself hunted by Nurgle. Currently in a war-like mood and reconquering her realm. Her armies are the Sylvaneth, mostly tree spirits.

    -Grugni: the Great Maker, one of the great ancestors of the dwarves, he gave them the gift of craftmanship. God of Metal in the Mortal Realms and former ruler of Chamon. Helped Sigmar to forge the Stormcast Eternal, he also gave him the gift of thunder (his ability to just "throw" Stormhosts into the Mortal Realms) as well as training six demi-god blacksmiths. He then disappeared in order to find and help his armies in Chamon. Current location unknown. His faction are the Steamhead Duardin or Metal Dwarves. Not much more known about them.

    -Grimnir: the Great Slayer, dwarven god of war. Held chaos at bay from one of the portal gates for thousands of years but Gotrek took his place. He then travelled to the Old War when it was about to disappear and ended up as God of Fire in the Mortal Realms. Awaken by Sigmar (he was trapped somewhere), he battle the godbeast Vulcatrix at his request, ending up both destroyed. His essence is still alive in the metal which was born out of that confrontation, the Ur-Gold. As Ur-Gold is made into body-runes by the Fyreslayers, he lives in them. He has no conscious form though, so his faction (the Fyreslayers), lack the central organisation of the other order factions.

    -Malerion: formerly Malekith, son of Aenarion, the greatest hero of the elves in the World-that-Was. After the death of his father, obvious choice to rule the high elves, but he was not given the crown as hereditary monarchy did not suit them. Grew evil and cause a civil war which ended up with his side exiled to the cold realm of Naggaroth. During the ET he allied himself with Teclis and successfully invaded Ulthuan. Crowned as Phoenix King and then Eternity King, he also became the Incarnate of Shadow. Although he did not die in the end battle, he was swallowed by the vortex. With the formation of the Mortal Realms, he took the form of a god without body, a shadow god. He allied himself with Sigmar, but along with Tyrion decided to capture Slaanesh, which ended up with the other Chaos Gods uniting against Order. Ruler of Ulgu, seems to have a strong control of it. His faction is the Shadowkin, apparently formed both by shadow creatures (daemons) and elves.

    -Tyrion/Teclis: God of Light. Twin brother descending from Aenarion. By the ET, they were the greatest heroes of Ulthuan, the realm of the high elves. During the ET Teclis followed an elven goddess instructions (Lileath) to ally himself with Malekith and then release the winds of magic to form semi-divine entities (the incarnates) that could stand against the gods of chaos. In the war for Ulthuan, his brother Tyrion - greatest military commander of Ulthuan - was possessed by the elven god of war and blood, Khaine, a curse which was passed to him by his ancestor Aenarion. Although he won most battles, he was finally (almost) killed by Alith Anar. Teclis took his body and kept him alive after Khaine had abandoned him, and then revived him with the essence of the wold god Ulric and made him into Incarnate of Light. In the final battle, after the incarnate of fire, beasts and finally metal were killed, Teclis tried to control all three of these winds of magic to destroy the vortex, but was consumed by so much energy. Tyrion survived the ET up to the demise of the world. Both were reborn as God of Lights and rulers of Hysh, but not much more is known. They seem to be pretty much in control of their realm. Their faction should be some kind of light elven faction, but name is unknown atm.

    -The Slann: former helper of the ancient beings that formed much of the World that Was, they were tasked with defending it and seeing that their great plan is completed. During the ET they stopped once the destruction of the Old World, but could not stop it (nor participate at all in its defence) the second time. They were able however to transport to the Mortal Realms, where they took home in Azyr. They have decided that the Great Plan can only be fulfilled with the destruction of the God of Chaos, so they play the long game in helping defeat them. They lead the Seraphon, energy beings with the form of the former lizardmen armies of the Slann, into battle.

    3) Death: Nagash
    The Great Necromancer. Formerly a high priest of the egyptian like civilization of Khemri, he became obsessed with mortality. After learning magic from captured dark elves, he refined necromancy and made his city into his eternal kingdom. When the others kings of Khemri learned of it, they allied themself to defeat him and exile him. He was later killed in war with the kingdom of Khemri. Although he had learned to cheat death and could come back to life, he did so every time with less power. Reborn with almost full strength by his greatest disciple, Arkhan, and Manfred von Carstein, he absorbed both the power of the wind of death (before its liberation by Teclis) and Khemri's god of the death. With this power he planned to defeat the god of chaos themselves, but most of the power was deposited in the Great Black Pyramid of Khemri, which was destroyed by a skaven team. Weakened, he allied himself with the other incarnates but could not prevent the destruction of the world that was. Reborn as god of death in the Mortal Realms, he allied himself with Sigmar but then betrayed him, allowing for Chaos final victory. He was however subsequently defeated by Chaos and killed by Archaon. By the time of the Age of Sigmar, he has been reborn. Leads many death factions as ultimate leader.

    4) Destruction: Gorkamorka
    God of destruction and of the greenskins, he takes sometimes the form of two deities (Gork, cunning brutality, and Mork, brutal ingenuity) and sometimes the form of one deity. He was also the god of the greenskins in the world that was, so not much seems to have changed. Originally allied to Sigmar, he then grew bored with his peace and started war just for the fun of it before the Age of Chaos. He therefore did not fight the great wars against chaos. Gorkamorka is an anarchic god, so he does not seem to have much of a plan; his power is better described as a "force of nature".

    III. Current state of affairs
    In a setting build around a logistic total war, it is all about the balance of power. The concept itself is very often repeated in the main studio publications regarding AoS setting. The balance of power is measured around control of the mortal realms and the realm of chaos. But it is important to remember that logistics is all in this setting. Better transportation and coordination is much more important that territorial control.
    Until AllGates, logistic control lied with Chaos. This was possible thanks to the Allpoints. The Allpoints is a realm which exists outside the mortal realms but is connected to all them. It is some sort of city within the transport system between realms, just like Comorragh in 40k. Control of the Allpoints allowed for rapid deploy of troops to any of the 8 gates connected to it. Since the Age of Chaos, the Azyr has been closed, so no Allpoints (Everchosen) troops could be deployed to Azyr. All other realms were still connected to it. In this way, Chaos was able to logistically beat all other gods.
    Current state:

    1) Allpoints: currently controled by Archaon. Only connected reliably to Chamon. Connection to Azyr, Aqsy and Ghyran broken. State of connection to Hysh and Ulgu unknown. Connection to Ghur unreliable (moving worm!).
    2) Aqsy, the fire realm. Territorially controlled by Khorne in most parts. But isolated from the Allpoints and most likely from most chances of reinforcements from outside. Gates to Azyr controlled by Sigmar. Logistic advantage of Sigmar.
    3) Ghyran, the life realm. Territorially controlled by Nurgle in most parts. But under strong attack from within (Alarielle) and Azyr and Aqsy. Most likely isolated from reinforcements. Logistic advantage with Alarielle and Sigmar.
    4) Chamon, the metal realm. Territorially controlled by Tzeentch. Gate to the Allpoints under Archaon control, so logistic advantage with Chaos. Most likely will be a major hive of attacks by Chaos, taking into account the fact that Tzeentch is about to unleash his power. Grugni and Steamhead Duardin still missing, but likely to appear.
    5) Shysh, the death realm. Territorially controlled by Chaos (god allegiance: unknown) and still connected to the Allpoints. To which extent Chaos is here under pressure is unknown. Nagash will soon appear...
    6) Hysh, the light realm. Territorial control unknown. Logistic advantage unknown, but most likely not resting with Chaos. Whether there is a connection at all to the Allpoints unknown. Likely power in control of the situation: Tyrion/Teclis and the new high elves.
    7) Ulgu, the shadow realm. Territorial control Shadowkin-Malerion (most likely). Whether there is chaos at all, apart from Slaanesh hunting party, is unknown. Strongly suggested that chaos armies get wiped entirely when they try to invade it.
    8) Azyr, the heavens realm. Absolute territorial and logistic control: Sigmar.
    9) Ghur, the beasts realm. Territorial and logistic control most likely under orruk hands. Chaos getting wiped.

    IV. Current activity of the main players in the total war

    The AoS setting is centred around major players carrying out a huge war. Therefore most of the narrative is sustained by their actions. Understanding the current activities of each major player may help to make sense of the state of the setting in a given moment.

    1) Sigmar: just ended up the first of his plan, which was to gain a logistic advantage in the starting war. Plans were partially successfull: very strong position not only on his stronghold of Azyr but also on Aqsy and Ghyran. Very much failed in Chamon and has not met with huge success in the more independent (from Sigmar and from Chaos) Mortal Realms (Hysh, Ulgu, Ghur, Shysh).

    2) Alarielle: Ascendant in her own realm. Ghyran is still controlled territorially by Nurgle, but she is in such a strong military position, that a "cleansing" is to be expected. Pretty much absent of any activity outside of Ghyran.

    3) Grugni, Malerion and Tyrion/Teclis: missing. Malerion and Tyrion seem to be very much in control of their realms though.

    4) Gorkamorka: has some kind of activity-plan (a growing threat), but unknown to the reader. Very much in control of Ghur.

    5) Nagash: enigmatic. If he has a plan or simple failing is unknown.


    1) Khorne: strong presence in Aqsy and until AoS pretty much dominating in both the mortal realms and the chaos realms. Has suffered a major defeat in Aqsy though, so seems to be losing his position. Plans to retaliate unknown. But then, Khorne does not plan much.

    2) Nurgle: strong presence in Ghyran, but after major defeats and Alarielle's resurgence, about to lose most of his dominion in the Mortal Realms. Plans unknown. For now, he is just frustrated: having captured Alarielle would have meant becoming dominating power in both MR and CR.

    3) Tzeentch: ascending. Thanks to Archaon his stronghold of Chamon is secured. He is preparing something big...

    4) Slaanesh: captured by the elven gods and therefore missing.

    5) The Great Horned Rat: enigmatic position. No dominant position on any known Mortal Realm, but then the skaven have their own territories and means of transportation. Clan Pestilens is about to get very powerful.

    6) Archaon: has control of the Allpoints and from there can still reinforce at least Chamon. Retaliation plans are unknown in details but pretty much certain.

    V. General assessment of current state of the setting
    The setting is starting to get interesting. AllGates was a good reading, with the last chapter being even exciting. As a war setting, AoS is starting to become very good. It still suffers from lack of characters with whom you can identify and from excess of OTT stuff (Godbeasts). Still, it is starting to make sense.
    Lingering flaws: complete absence of culture (aesthetical, political). Lack of characters and factions with which to identify. Hopefully, with cities growing again, this will also get much better soon.
    Last edited by Turgol; 14-07-2016 at 09:16.

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