Cities of Sigmar
Grand Alliance Order
Cities of Sigmar
The Cities of Sigmar, also known as the Free Cities, Azyrites, or the Island of Misfit Toys, are essentially the “normal” people of the Mortal Realms under Sigmar's rule, although a minority when compared with the vast population of the territories taken by Chaos, they are probably the most numerous representatives of the Grand Alliance of Order. Humans who haven't become immortal due to having lightning jammed up their ass. Duardin who don't go into battle half naked and on fire or live in steampunk sky cities. Aelves who don't live underwater and eat souls, don't come from a misandric murdercult or aren't made of light and maths.
Each City itself is MASSIVE, comprised of numerous districts and subcultures, to the point where some could be considered their own nations. So while each City maybe known for a particular thing, it is very likely that there is an aspect of each race active in every city.
The story of how humans, Duardin (dwarves) and Aelves (elves) of various allegiances and creeds are somehow living together in massive cities without murderising each other is a long and expansive story that traces its way back to the closing days of the Age of Myth. Right before Chaos kicked in the proverbial door and began running rough shod across the Realms, the various mortal races lived in their respective golden ages. With the help of primarily Grungni, Teclis and Alarielle, Sigmar established countless human kingdoms and cities, with innovation, learning and cultural development blossoming at an exponential rate. The Duardin had a healthy relationship with humans as always, with a portion living alongside them, but most still taking up residence in their mountain fortresses or splitting off as the newly emerged children of Grimnir, the Fyreslayers. The Aelves enjoyed a resurgence from their initially minuscule numbers when discovered by Sigmar, and began to slowly thrive once again when the various Aelven gods joined the pantheon and began the work to restore their race to its former glory.
Of course, all of this was not to last once Chaos got wise to what was going on in the Mortal Realms. The Gods of Chaos began to secretly bore their way into the kingdoms, cities and tribes across the Realms, slowly influencing portions of the population with promises of power and immortality, and piece by piece sowing discord. When the time came to strike, the Mortal Realms were taken completely by surprise and nearly buckled under the sudden upheaval. However, the armies of Order managed to rally and held the forces of Chaos at bay for a time...That is until Archaon made his entrance into the Realms. The forces of Order began to falter and little by little they gave ground to the ever intensifying onslaught. The final blow for Order came at the Allpoints, at the disastrous confrontation that became known as the Battle of the Burning Sky. Here, the gods of Order fractured through betrayal, panic and mistrust and by the end of the slaughter Sigmar had lost Ghal Maraz, his pantheon and the most strategically important location in all the Mortal Realms. Thus, the Age of Myth came to a catastrophic end, bringing forth the Age of Chaos.
With the Allpoints granting the armies of Chaos access to all of the Mortal Realms save Azyr, it did not take long for their ravenous hordes to overrun the land. The following collapse of civilization across the Realms can only be described as not falling apart, but disintegrating in its own terror.
The last of the Duardin Karaks in Chamon were overrun as the forces of Tzeentch swept across the land, the survivors reluctantly fleeing to the Gates of Azyr, with a small contingent escaping to the highest peaks of the Realm of Metal to an uncertain fate. Many Duardin Kings, prideful and stubborn in their sense of honor, refused to evacuate and chose to remain in their Holds, sealing their fate when the doors to Azyr were finally sealed. It is said that Grungni cried tears of molten lead when he saw how few of his children had managed to escape. Thus, the Dispossessed came to be.
The Aelven devotees of Alarielle desperately held on with their Sylvaneth comrades as Nurgle's rot and pestilence began to seep into Ghyran. However, as the Sylvaneth groves outside the Realm of Life began to be wiped out, their numbers and their reinforcements began to dwindle. As their defenses reached the breaking point, the Aelves had to make a choice; either stay with their beloved Goddess and her children and face almost certain annihilation, or abandon them in their direst hour and try to flee to Azyr before the gates closed. They chose the latter, and from that day, Alarielle and the Sylvaneth have never fully forgiven the Wanderers for their abandonment.
All the remaining human, duardin and aelf empires that were not already destroyed or besieged made a bee-line toward any realmgates to Azyr that were still open. Many didn't survive the journey, being butchered by chaos armies along the way. Many others however managed to reach Azyr and safety, others were unfortunately stranded in the other realms when Sigmar finally closed the gates as the forces of Chaos were getting too close to breaching them. These unfortunate souls either swore fealty to Chaos in return for their lives, died fighting against the maruading hordes or were forced to adopt a nomadic lifestyle for the remainder of the Age of Chaos, always on the run or in hiding from the legios of Chaos. This wasn't the end of tribulations for the survivors who have reached Azyr however. Chaos cultists and double agents had managed to slip into Azyrheim among the refugees, forcing Sigmar's witch hunters to route them out (with often lethal results). Around this time the Aelven order of the Shadowblades is believed to have first become active, systematically purging Azyr further of potential threats to Sigmar's rule.
Sigmar realized that many of the refugees themselves, having malice or deception in their hearts, could be susceptible of falling to Chaos in the future. This moved the God-King to take the uneasy task of leading a mass purge of many of the peoples that had fled to Azyr. Countless supposedly innocent souls that Sigmar deemed corruptible were slaughtered by the agents of Azyr, even those that could be suspected of treachery were not spared. Only after this extermination campaign did Sigmar deemed that Azyr was safe from further corruption. Whether he did the right thing or not is up for debate, but the fluff continuously mentions that Azyr was the only Mortal Realm free from the taint of Chaos.
For the next 500 or so years the peoples of Azyr went along with their lives, but whether they be from the various cultures of the armies of the Free Guilds or the Sinister Knights of the Order Serpentis they now all shared a united goal. Which was to rebuild their forces for a counter-invasion against Chaos. After centuries of preparation and having the Stormcast Eternal infraestructure mostly finished, the various armies of Azyr were ready to reopen the realmgates and retake their ancient territories. For many this was indeed almost a relief, as while Azyr was definitely a better place to live than any of the other Mortal Realms, life under Sigmar's rule wasn't all perfect. Sigmar fearing potential Chaos infiltration kept a rather draconian amount of control on the various cities and settlements in Azyr. From constant fear of the Order of Azyr and potential knives in backs from the Shadowblades, not to mention strict legal codes, many of the peoples from the other realms chafed somewhat in this highly ordered society. So when offered a chance to retake their old homes many were happy to give it a try.
With Sigmar's Tempest opening the Gates of Azyr what followed a massive undertaking as the combined might of all the peoples of Azyr began preparations for Sigmar's reconquest of the Realms. The sheer level of planning, logistics, training and dealmaking that went down in this period cannot be understated. Whether it was noble families looking to reclaim their ancestral homelands, outcasts going to wherever offered a fresh start, or perhaps a deal made between various parties for certain benefits in the reclaimed territories in exchange for assistance. The Regiments of the Freeguild were raised and assigned to accompany settlers to their new homes in the Realms. Duardin of the Ironweld Guilds and the Dispossessed Clans offered up their expertise in engineering as well as firepower, often in exchange for trading or mining rights in the charted territories. Wanderer Enclaves saw much demand for their knowledge of scouting the wilderness, and in turn requested territory to settle and roam freely in.
The initial areas for the first cities formed around the stormkeeps established by the Stormcast Eternals after the Realmgate Wars. From these intial settlements cities began to form around them. One obvious example being Hammerhal, which would go on to be the largest city and defacto capital of Sigmar’s growing empire. Other cities were subsequently founded usually near realmgates or areas of great strategic/economic importance (I.e Hallowheart, Tempest Eye, Excelsior and Vindicarum). The Living City was established sometime later by Allarielle herself after great victories against Nurgle’s forces and stands as a testeament to her renewed alliance with Sigmar. Later would come the establishment of industrial hub Greywater Fastness would become a seat for many of the Ironweld and Disspossesed clans, and Phoenicium, one of few Aelf dominated Cities of Sigmar. These expansions did not come easy however. Millions gave their lives in their foundation and the subsequent wars to maintain these great bastions.
Roughly 100 years after the Stormcast Eternals first set down in the Realms, these initial cities have greatly expanded upon themselves, managing to carve out their own territories in the Realms. However even with all this, much of the realms have not yet been liberated. It is estimated barely a tenth of the pre-Age of Chaos territory has been reclaimed thus far, with the rest either in Chaos hands, heavily contested, held by neutral parties, or no one, with none yet claiming these wild areas. Due to this, the cities must fight hard for any territorial gains they can manage, along with sending colonists (both willing and otherwise) out to found new cities. These cities tend to be on frontier zones, forcing them to often deal with more heavier chaos or destruction incursions, along with the deadly native wildlife or even native peoples who aren't necessarily happy with newcomers trying to colonize their ancestral lands that they defended all through the Age of Chaos. In fact, an unfortunate result of this has been the occasional Stromcast or Freeguild force having to do the uncomfortable task of subjugating or even wiping out native tribes that would refuse to compromise on these cities’ foundings. Some examples of these frontier cities include Anvilgard in Aqshy, which has quickly amassed a dark reputation from its internal dealings, or Izalend in Ghur which has to be on constant alert due to the dangerous area it inhabits. Not all of these frontier cities survive, most are either destroyed from invaders or some other calamity and must be abandoned. More than one city has suffered this fate since the first cities were established.
However many others continue to prosper and continue to expand their territory to slowly retake the realms from Chaos' grasp. Due to the dangerous nature of the realms, the mere act of traveling can be dangerous. Thus while all cities are nominally under Sigmar’s domain, many often have to rely on governing themselves for the most part, as communication with the capital Hammerhal can be slow and unreliable and Stormcast sometimes not being able to lend assistance due to being stretched thin expanding the God-King’s borders. Many have to establish their own form of government and trade zones. All cities follow the government structure laid out by Azyrheim, however many make variations to how a city’s government is made up and how they conduct warfare due to local stigmas and situations. This leads to each city developing unique cultural identities, and since not all cities actively coordinate with each other, entire wars and new city foundings can occur without some nations even being aware of it, even if they are technically on the same faction. This is why organizations such as the Swifthawk Agents are so important to the cities, as speedy communication can often mean the difference between annihilation and salvation for threatened cities.
Two free cities played an important part in Morathi’s ploy for godhood. Misthåvn lent its Black Ark fleets to defend the High Oracle from retaliating Idoneth Deepkin and Hedonites of Slaanesh while she enacted her ritual. As expected though, the Scourge Privateers were merely pawns to Morathi, and to their credit they recognized this and split the second things looked dire. The second city was Anvilgard, where the now goddess Morathi-Khaine made her appearance to the ruling council of the city. She coerced the local Darkling Covens and other “dark aelves” to overthrow their masters, leading to Morathi’s annexation of the city and renaming it to Har Kuron. Sigmar did of course learn about this deceit and was just about to besiege the city and reclaim it when Morathi parlayed with the Lord of Azyr. What they agreed upon is unclear, but the city is still called Har Kuron presently.
In Hysh, Settler’s Gain was ground zero for Nagash’s assault against the Lumineth Realm-Lords, sending spectral waves of Nighthaunt to crash against the city’s defenses. They were only saved when Teclis arrived and restored life to the Nighthaunt while they were flying so they would die again when they fell back down. Later on, the city supplied a battery of Luminarks and Hurricanums in the final duel between Teclis and Nagash, their magical attacks distracting the great necromancer just enough for the mage god to win the day and reverse the effects of the Necroquake.
Vindicarum was besieged by the forces of Be'lakor shortly after the First Prince collapsed every Realmgate in Chamon and released dark storms of chaos energy. The siege is a brutal affair that decimates the Hallowed Knights and Celestial Vindicators stormhosts, which is exactly what Be'lakor wants. He didn’t want to conquer the city, but to raze it and send its occupants’ souls into the Realm of Chaos where eternal torture awaited them. It took the combined fleets of every Kharadron skyport led by the mysterious white-bearded Duardin called Gromthi. The First Prince was repelled...but at a heavy cost. Vindicarum’s population was obliterated, Chamon is now separated from the other Realms, and the dark chaos storms that loomed over the lands were growing.
The Ghurish city of Excelsis suffered a Tzeentchian demonic plot which inspired anti-magical sentiment and gave rise to a magic-hating Sigmarite cult. Then the Newborn twins of Slaanesh subverted the cult by playing on its leader's personal hatred of elves, culminating in a pogrom against elves that caused the survivors to leave Excelsis, while the slaughtered elves unwittingly became sacrifices to summon the two Newborn and an army of Slaanesh daemons into the city. The twins also got the Skaven to set up the sacrifices and undermine the city further. And then the newly awakened god of Earthquakes Kragnos and his allies attacked the city. The only thing that stopped them from stomping the city flat is the arrival of Lord Kroak, the banishment of the demonic twins and the unexpected arrival of a Black Ark with the newly ascended goddess Morathi. She tracked down Lord Kroak while he tried to help the city with his magic and the two of them managed to trick Kragnos into going through a portal that drops him on the far side of Ghur and allowed the defenders to finally force the besiegers out of the city.
The Cities of Sigmar are by their nature cosmopolitan places, as many different cultures across the realms fled to Azyr only to recolonize the lands when the Age of Sigmar arrived. As such, when war comes they have a vast diversity of military forces.
- Stormcast Eternals: Yes, they're here too. Most Free Cities are built around a Stormkeep, and many are named after their founding Stormhost (Hammers of Sigmar in Hammerhal, Anvils of the Heldenhammer in Anvilgard, etc.). Have a bad habit of going too far when trying to purge Chaos from the city, leading to anti-Stormcast resentment, which in turn leads to more purges. But in the nicer cities like Brightspear they can be pretty chill and hang around with civillians.
- Freeguild: The core of the old Empire's forces, chiefly soldiers and Demigryphs. They are the standing armies and militias of the Cities, each descended from twelve military companies that originally fled to Azyr. A City can possess multiple Freeguilds, each one with their own specialties and strategies in warfare, making them sorta like the Imperial Guard for AoS. Lore mentions that their ranks include Duardin and Aelves as well, meaning you easily use squatted High Elf/Dwarf units as proxy Freeguild units (Swordmasters as Greatswords, Thunderers as Handgunners, etc).
- Devoted of Sigmar: The Old "Church of Sigmar" faction now reduced to only the flagellant. It’s incorporated into the city with quite some critical roles. Priests of Sigmar tend to the moral and spiritual health of the human population, and when a internal threat arises, it is the work of the witch hunters from the Order of Azyr to root it out, while flagellants have to process around the city countryside, spilling their blood to destroy the chaos corruption in the land and let the city expand. Unfortunately only the latter are usable on tabletop (in a Cities of Sigmar list. The warpriests, war-altars and witch hunters have their own faction ; The Devoted of Sigmar.)
- Dispossessed: Duardin who have lost their old Karaks in the Age of Chaos and have to live with the umgi and elgi now. Their primary goal in the greater Cities is providing defensive fortifications for the other factions, using their legendary shield walls and stubbornness to hold the line at all costs.
- Collegiate Arcane: All the Empire's Wizards, including their giant engines. Sadly, no High Elf wizards made the cut, nor did their dragons. They are essentially a souped up version of the Colleges of Magic, comprised of powerful Battlemages who have trained for decades in eight floating towers called the Towers of the Eight Winds (I see what you did there GW), each one focused on a certain Realm’s variety of magic. However, humans are no longer restricted to one color only and can learn all, in particular a Battlemage spending a decade in each is deemed a Grandmaster who is licensed to create new spells and magical items. The Grandmasters built a specialist sub order named the Order of the Chained Flame that functions as a bounty board that hands out Spell Hunter licenses to those who dispell and capture rogue Endless spells.
- Ironweld Arsenal: All the Dwarf and Empire war machines and vehicles. This includes letting people ride those tanks. It was revealed that they can build some really freaking shit nowadays, like a fortress with legs that was so powerful in Morathi book that it decimated hindreds of dark aelves and almost won the battle single handedly.
- Darkling Covens: Cults of Sorceresses and their brainwashed Aelven minions. Rumored to have brainwashed more than just aelves so they can secretly manipulate cities from the shadows.
- Phoenix Temple: Yes, these silent dead 'ard bastards are still around. They now worship the Ur-Phoenix instead of Asuryan. They were once broken Aelves (physically or mentally broken) who received the healing warmth of a phoenix, thus they were reborn as devout warrior monks. Members can come from any Aelven faction, there are even some Phoenix Guard who were former Daughters of Khaine.
- Order Serpentis: An ancient order of tyrannical dragon-riding Aelves who lost most of their dragons in the Age of Chaos. Undaunted by this, they started hiring Sorceresses of the Darkling Covens to genetically engineer hideous part-dragon monsters to act as replacements.
- Wanderers: Nomadic wood aelves from Ghyran who fled to Azyr. Upon returning they seek to restore balance to the nature they abandoned, even if many of their Sylvaneth allies despise them as traitors. Their role in the CoS army is to be pathfinders and vanguard forces, scouting ahead of the main fighting bulk to chart secure passages.
- Shadowblades: Secretive Aelf assassins who worship Malerion and usually function as a secret police force within the cities.
- Scourge Privateers: Descendants of a cruel slaver empire that once terrorized the seas. Now that they have to coexist with the civillians they once preyed upon, they cooled down a bit and became beast tamers who regularly hunt monsters and then sell them (whole or in pieces) to their allies. Still enjoy doing shady pirate stuff under the books, though (not that anyone is complaining when its fucking Chaos scum who are on the receving end of it for once). They still live on Black Arks, much like their Old World counterparts, except these Arks are made from binding together the bones and shells of colossal sea creatures.
Relations with Other Order Factions
While not part of the Cities of Sigmar allegiance, almost every Order race tends to have some sort of outpost or embassy in the Free Cities. If not, they’re still likely to have a relationship to them given the Free Cities’ nature as safe havens for the enemies of Chaos.
- Daughters of Khaine: The Daughters of Khaine host temples in every major City. While they're subject to all sorts of (entirely justified) rumors about dark blood rituals, they're tolerated due to being formidable allies in the war against Chaos. When not at war they perform gladitorial games and blade dances to simultaneously praise Khaine and entertain the masses. Of the various sects, the Draichi Ganeth, who look down upon the subterfuge and deception of their sisters, are the most commonly seen. They are known to the Freeguilds as the Executioners Cult due to their blunt and forward style of combat, as well as their penchant for decapitation. But word's starting to get around about what Morathi did to Anvilgard, eroding peoples' tolerance of them.
- Kharadron Overlords: Kharadron Overlords are an important part of the Cities of Sigmar economy. With travel over land being incredibly dangerous due to the hordes of chaotic marauders, deathly thralls, and destructive hooligans, airships are the most efficient way to trade between cities, and while the Cities of Sigmar have their own airships, they're nowhere near as good as the Kharadron's. The Kharadron for their part look down on the Cities of Sigmar as being primitive rubes, and only sell them their most outdated technology (which is still more advanced than the average thing the Ironweld Arsenal makes).
- Seraphon: The Fangs of Sotek Seraphon often end up setting up embassies in the Cities of Sigmar. When they're around, often people turn up mysteriously dead, with the investigation discovering the victims were secret Chaos cultists. These vigilante killings are inevitably blamed upon the Daughters of Khaine.
- Fyreslayers: Fyreslayers often set up local branches of their Lodges in Free Cities to offer their services as mercenaries. In addition to being hired by the City itself, they're also commonly hired by merchants; as already mentioned, travel over land is incredibly dangerous, so if you are forced to do it you're gonna need a regiment of angry pyromaniac dorfs to protect your caravan.
- Sylvaneth: The forest folk who are willing to work with quick-bloods will establish embassies in the free cities. Said embassies appear as small woodland groves or parks, where the Sylvaneth presumably keep a scrutinizing eye on anyone who ventures too close.
- Lumineth Realm-Lords: In their stalwart quest to defeat Chaos at all costs, the scions of Tyrion and Teclis are coldly pragmatic towards the Free Cities. Small cities are in danger of being completely wiped off the map if the Realm-Lords need its territory for some rune carving. The larger ones (or the ones they can’t nuke) are simply seen as primitive strongholds by the Lumineth and could really benefit from their guiding light. Understandably, this makes many of the Hysh Aelves rather unwelcome among the Cities of Sigmar.
- Hammerhal: Hammerhal is technically two cities, Hammerhal Ghyra and Hammerhal Aqsha, linked as one by the Stormrift Realmgate. The Ghyran side exports crops and lumber to Aqshy, and lava is channeled from the Aqshy side to form a protective moat. As it is home to the Hammers of Sigmar, GREATEST OF THEM ALL among stormhosts, so too the people of Hammerhal seek to prove themselves as the most eminent of the Free Cities. The Cadia and Ultramar of the Cities.
- Greywater Fastness: Despite hailing from the Realm of Life, this city is pretty choked with smoke and industry, as they focus heavily on war machines. Literally the entire outer regions of the city are just glorified testing grounds for their weapons, riddled with craters and no vegetation aside from withered skeletal trees. This makes them rather friendly towards the Kharadron Overlords, but not so much with the Sylvaneth. They were nearly starved out by the Sylvaneth until Alarielle herself arranged a compromise, and she only tolerates them because they hate Chaos and are great at bombarding them back to the Warp. What few people know though is that the city’s lead designer, Valium Maliti, is actually the Changeling in disguise, and purposely created this industrial wasteland in Ghyran to cause tension between the Sylvaneth and Sigmar.
- Anvilgard: In a nutshell, basically. Port city in Aqshy by a constantly erupting volcano and a constantly burning-down-but-rapidly-regrowing jungle. To hold off the jungle from reclaiming the city's territory, they spray mass amounts of basically weedkiller everywhere (which doesn't seem - thus far - to have any long-term consequences on people), which covers the city in a gloomy grey atmosphere. Y'know, the kind of shadows where criminal syndicates thrive - and thrive they do. As in, anyone who's anyone has underworld connections, though it's kept just enough on the down-low so Lord-Veritants and other inquisitorial types don't raise a stink. In recent years, Morathi has annexed it (renaming it to Har Kuron), splitting the frontier city in half between those who sided with the Daughters of Khaine and everyone else who remained loyal to Sigmar. Sigmar learned of the treachery and sent a Stormcast army to liberate the city, but a surprise parley between the Celestant-Prime and Morathi led to the Stormcast withdrawing and ceding the city to Morathi in exchange for... something.
- On its own, Har Kuron is completely devoted to Morathi with only her most bloodthirsty and zealous followers rising to prominence in the city. Every major sect of the DoK has a temple in Har Kuron where they regularly cull and cleanse the population of the weak or unfaithful. Essentially, it’s now the AoS equivalent to Har Ganeth from Fantasy. What’s funny though is that despite the city’s fervent zealotry to her, Morathi loathes Har Kuron for the repugnant stench it still carries thanks to the copious weed killer and sees it as a poor throne for a goddess. To her, this city is less of a wanted conquest and more of a statement to her former allies and a staging ground for future expansion.
- Hallowheart: The wizard's city. Being founded by the Hallowed Knights at the bottom of a gigantic crystal cave (where lived a mutated gigantic dragon of Tzeentch, who got hammered) this city has an magical focus and the central core of Collegiate Arcane. Don't mind the continuous daemon invasion perpetrated by Tzeentch and company, or the strange whispers that promise you great power and wealth, but report those facts to the Devoted of Sigmar for a handsome reward. *BLAM*
- The Living City: A city shaped from trees and rock by Alarielle herself that symbolizes the alliance between her and Sigmar. As such, this city allies itself with Sylvaneth capable of putting aside their grudges towards everything that isn't a tree. Also where Alarielle pardoned the Wanderers for their cowardice during the Age of Chaos, so this is their home base.
- The Phoenicium: The main city of the Phoenix Temple, it's at the foot of a big tree-mountain with a goofy name that avalanched sap over the area, trapping warriors in amber. In the Age of Sigmar, a host of phoenix birds thawed the sap into a golden mist that persists ever since - and if enemies that get too close enter the mist, they get trapped in amber, which then becomes another block on the ramparts. So, yeah, picture an amber wall filled with "oh crap"-faced Chaos warriors, greenskins, and spooks - that's how The Phoenicium do. Why nobody already tricked Archaon to attack this city, turning him into a statue and win the war is anyone's guess... but then again Archaon is a god so it would only weaken him and not by much (It is great at keeping Thanquol away)
- Tempest's Eye: A city on top of a mountain that has close trade and military ties to the Kharadron Overlords. Since the Tempest Lords stationed there were all recruited from former nobility, they're the only city that is directly ruled by its Stormcast Eternals.
- Misthåvn: The “City of Scoundrels” was created in Ulgu from a collection of massive ships from varying races all lashed together. This unique design means that Misthåvn can divide into its various components and move along the coast of Cape Tendbrax. Rather than having districts, the city is comprised of different armadas, each overseen by a Scourge Privateer Fleetmaster/Admiral. It’s infamous among the Azyrites for its corrupt policies, underhanded combat strategies, and a very lucrative illegal narcotics market. The native populace takes a spiteful pride in this reputation, though they still do their best to make sure Sigmar doesn’t call for the city’s purging.
- Settler's Gain: Located in the continent of Xintil in Hysh, where all the Sigmar-praisers are given their own little society away from the rest of the realm. Settler's Gain notably has solar-powered automata doing all the menial labor, freeing the populace to focus on intellectual pursuits. The city is run by a meritocratic caste system where your status is based on passing philosophical, theological and arcane tests. Truly the most utopian of all Free Cities. Pay no attention to the fact that passing these tests requires so many years of study that only Aelves can live long enough to ascend to the highest ranks, resulting in a ruling class of Lumineth reigning over the mostly-human peasants. The peasants live in simple but well-designed houses neatly grouped together which are totally not second-rate housing commission to create a ghetto for humans and human sympathizers. Those questioning the perfect society of
Settler's GainYllurai Xhen will be assigned to Lumineth-owned Enlightenment Prisms for re-education.
- Excelsis: A Ghurish city built around the Spear of Mallus, an big ass shard of the World-That-Was that fell into Ghur. Shards broken off this object can be used to see the future, and the resulting "Glimmerings" have become the local currency. Too bad they have to live in terror of the Knights Excelsior, one of the most brutal and authoritarian Stormhosts. Too bad the Knights are doing huge crackdowns after a big Tzeentch cultist insurrection (detailed in the book City of Secrets). Too bad that all the fortune teller guilds are discovering from the Glimmerings that a gigantic army of all Destruction races lead by Kragnos himself is heading towards them. Too bad that the ever mounting volume of hurt about to befall the citizens of Excelsis is about to expand, as Sigvald the Magnificent and Glutos Orscollion are now leading their Slaaneshi hordes towards the city, intending to make it their new personal playground of debauchery.
- Azyrheim: The largest city in Azyr and de-facto capital of the entire the Grand Alliance of Order. Azyrheim's also has a fantasy IN SPACE look, further reinforced by some fluff which states Azyr has no day but an eternal night filled with stars, moons and other astral phenomena, another important feature of the city is the Towers of the Eight Winds, massive floating structures where the Collegiate Arcane train mages and research magic. Sigmar's obsession with keeping Azyr free of the taint of Chaos has lead to this place being rather authoritarian, as in if they catch you performing crimes they implant you with runes that burn out all thoughts of disloyalty out of your mind. On the other hand, it’s not like the freaking gods don’t know if you’re guilty and if you don’t want to be implanted then just follow the law set by one of the few deities that isn't a complete sociopath. They aren’t crazy or stupid under Sigmar so there isn’t really a reason not to.
- Brightspear: A city near the coast of The Great Parch that was built on top of an ancient realmgate that could travel to any of the nine realms. Above the city are orbs that each contain a college of magic dedicated to one of the winds. The one dedicated to chaos was destroyed, but the echoes still remain. This city is expanded upon in great detail in the Soulbound starter set.
- Edassa: Mentioned during Gotrek's adventures in “Realmslayer” and “Ghoulslayer”, and the home city of the character Jordainn. An African themed kingdom located in Aqshy, it sits at crossroads with two other kingdoms and city states, all of them part of a mutual pact funding the garrisons of forts and towns that run the length of the region's roads. Have a Lion motif in their armor as well as in their battlecry.
- Westreach and Eastdale: Twin cities built on an island in Shyish. Westreach is populated by Azyrites while Eastdale is controlled by the Reclaimed. Both cities work with each other though the former’s haughty attitude and the latter’s superstitions has lead to tension between the two. Both cities were built over the ruins/tombs of an ancient town called Belvegrod, and since this is Shyish both cities have a terrible Nighthaunt infestation. A warding protected the city from Lady Olynder’s full wrath, but through machinations that’d make Neferata proud, the Mortarch of Grief broke the wardings and razed the Twin Cities, her undead hordes consuming the living.
- Vindicarum: The city of the Celestial Vindicators in Chamon. If you thought Excelsis was bad, Vindicarium is worse. How worse? When the citizens rioted in protest of the Celestial Vindicator's harsh laws, the Stormcast ended up killing three quarters of the city's population. Keep in mind every City of Sigmar is fucking massive, so its quite possible literally millions died. All the remaining survivors became super pious members of the Devoted of Sigmar, equally terrified of the taint of Chaos and the wrath of their overlords. Suffice to say the reports of this incident have only served to even further increase the fear and distrust the common man has for the Stormcast. Be’lakor’s siege of the city has wiped out more than ninety percent of their population, so although he was pushed back, it came at a high cost. Vindicarum is less of a city now and more of a township in the low hundreds.
- Lethis: Technically has rules in the form of the “Lethisian Defenders” list from Forbidden Power, but not actually part of the Cities of Sigmar allegiance. This city is based in Shyish next to Lake Lethis, a lake whose waters are cursed to take away memories. This water is actually one of their most valuable exports, as a lot of people in the Mortal Realms have traumatic memories they'd rather forget. Also home to a Stormvault which held Katakros, who was released when the city was invaded by Lady Olynder's Legion of Grief.
- The Collonade: A towering gleaming city in Ghur built upon colossal marble pillars that rise and fall with the shifting earth of their bestial home. The culture of the Collonade is defined by always being “pure” and morally above the Realm of Beasts, which makes most of the populace have an insufferably self righteous opinion of themselves. So it was quite the wound to their pride then when they had to work with the monstrous vampires of the Avengorii Dynasty to defend their city against a Beastmen war herd. Prejudice won out in the end though as the actions of an overzealous bard led to the Collonade breaking their alliance with the Avengorii…and then having their entire city razed to the ground as punishment for their betrayal.
Considering the diverse natures of the cities, it also makes no surprise that they also hold a diverse number of archetypes in Age of Sigmar Roleplay. Naturally, these Free Peoples are descendants of those who holed up in Azyr during the Age of Chaos as well as those who managed to weather the mayhem that ensued. As the gates of Azyr opened up again, many joined hands in their great cities, some out of total loyalty while others see this as merely an opportunity. Of course, those who become Soulbound do so for an equally vast number of reasons, though all are hailed among the cities as heroes and champions of the gods, perhaps equal to the Stormcast Eternals.
The Champions of Order splatbook introduces the various cities for a Free Peoples hero to hail from:
- Anvilgard: Initially founded on the Charrwind Coast of Aqshy and employed defoliant mists to keep the rampant vegetation at bay. Before long, it fell victim to the manipulations of a powerful criminal syndicate called the Blackscale Coil. Though it first acted through subterfuge and blackmail, it eventually escalated to more direct means of murder and espionage with such brazenness that many questioned whether or not they actually ruled the city...and then the city got steamrolled by Morathi and turned into Har Kuron. Heroes from Anvilgard start with either two contacts to benefit from or one contact with better contacts to benefit from.
- Brightspear: This city has suffered much despite its relative youth. This relative recency has made surviving the Necroquake much harder, and when combined with the constant invasions by Tzeentch's forces, who seek to plunder both its supply fleets and its walls, it makes for a nigh-impossible situation. Those who hail from this city don't live in luxury, but live knowing that they fought tooth and nail for all that they own. Heroes from Brightspear can ignore any tool requirements for tests or endeavors, but the tests become more difficult. During any downtime, they can also swap their training and focus from one skill to another, even if this is a skill they lack any training or focus in.
- Hammerhal: The greatest of cities, split between both Aqshy and Ghyran. It is here that the god-king Sigmar claims is his capital in his ambitions of clearing the taint from the other realms. However, this is something of a gilded dream, as the rich often live in lofty palaces while the rest are left in slums and ghettos. Hammerhal Aqsha is an industrialized haven, home to several military guilds and the most famous militant academy, the Acadamae Martial. Hammerhal Ghyra are stubborn in seeking their goals, filled with the vigor that comes from living in the realm of life. Heroes from Hammerhal Aqsha double their training in any skills involving military acumen, including when undertaking the Fortify endeavor, and have the Tactician talent available to all archetypes. Heroes from Hammerhal Ghyra can always undertake the Industrious endeavor regardless of species, and reduce the complexity of Death checks by 1 - Any instant-kill abilities instead renders them mortally wounded.
- Greywater Fastness: An industrial haven residing in Ghyran, much to the hatred of the neighboring Sylvaneth. This place is driven by its military might, as it houses a great many stores of weapons and powder that they supply to other cities. Often, there is no freedom from the constant labor. Heroes from Greywater Fastness always possess a firearm (be it a blunderbuss, a pair of pistols, a rifle, or a repeater pistol). In addition, any time they undertake the Crafting endeavor, they can always auto-pass the tests needed, though doing so comes with peril as Doom is increased by 1.
- Excelsis: This city is split between fortune-tellers who entered the city with open eyes who hail from Azyr and those hunters who have always resided in Ghur during the Age of Chaos. Though the city is under constant watch of the Knights Excelsior, their greater threat comes from the realm itself, filled with many menaces and threats that are all too immediate, unmoored from past or future. Heroes from Excelsis carry Glimmerlings, valuable magical items that can be expended to tell the future. These can always be bought from any marketplace, though not for cheap. Later during the Broken Realms Saga a mini-civil war breaks out in the city after some Tzeentchian demons manifest and a reactionary force of magic haters called the Nullstone Brotherhood starts to gain power. Unknown to everyone the leader of the group is actually a Slaanesh worshipper. The Newborns of Slaanesh later hire some Skaven to undermine the defenses of the city and to summon them into the city just as Kragnos and his Orruk allies begin to assault the city. In the end, the leader of the Nullstone Brotherhood is killed, the twin Newborn demons are banished and Morathi arrives with reinforcements in a Black Ark and helps Lord Kroak trick Kragnos into going through a portal that drops him on the opposite side of the Realm of Ghur. Thus, the city is left severely damaged but still intact.
- Lethis: Residing in the realm of death, the citizens of this city revere an obscure god rather than the great necromancer who rules here - though it is debated whether this god still exists or was devoured by Nagash in a past age. Regardless of the truth, they utilize talismans to war themselves from evil. Heroes from Lethis all carry such talismans, making their weapons and armor count as magical when facing the undead and daemons.
- Misthåvn: This city is just as shady as the realm as it claims as home. It is a bleak and dismal colony, populated by pirates, conmen, and other duplicitious individuals in search for a good time - and often, there are secrets behind the façades, usually hiding something far worse. This is what the inhabitants embody, much to the consternation of the Azyrite members of the city. Heroes from Misthåvn start with a False Identity and can always undertake this endeavor at any time. They also have one dose each of three particular narcotics, which they can always seek more of when needed.
- Settler's Gain: A seeming utopia in Hysh, where automatons manage all of the manual labor so the citizens can pursue more intellectual pursuits. That said, it is not-so-subtly manipulated by the Lumineth, who are the abiters of progress and lawkeepers and seek to discipline and re-educate those they deem their lessers. Heroes from Settler's Gain can re-arrange their environment during their rest, having a chance of adding +1d6 to either Mind or Soul tests for the rest of the day.
- Vindicarum: This city is a veritable fortress, stationed atop a mountain and guarded by the Celestial Vindicators. Though it is a devout place, it is constantly imperiled by the machinations of Tzeentch and as a result, its Stormcast protectors are often merciless with their persecution. Heroes from Vindicarum add their training in Theology to Insight, Awareness, or Survival checks made to determine the traces of Chaos. In addition, the Theology skill is available to all archetypes.
Because of their diverse natures, there are archetypes available to Human, Duardin, and Aelf members of the Free Cities. Any of these races can select the Trade Privateer archetype. Humans can select the Battlemage and Excelsior Warpriest archetypes. Aelfs can select the Black Ark Corsair and Darkling Sorceress archetypes.
- The dominant currency in the Cities of Sigmar is Aqua Ghyranis, which is water infused with the life magic of Ghyran, typically stored in vials or globes. This happened mainly because of two reasons; the majority of Free Cities are in Aqshy (where Aqua Ghyranis is naturally an incredibly valuable commodity) and Ghyran (which produces it) and the founders of Cities realized that if they used gold as the currency that would just mean they gave complete control of their economy to the Kharadron Overlords due to their monopoly on Chamon's mineral resources. The uses of Aqua Ghyranis are considered worth having the economy controlled by the people of Ghyran and the goddess Alarielle.
|Playable Factions in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar|