Grand Alliance Order
"Money is both the generation and corruption of purchased honor; honor is both the child and slave of potent money; the credit which honor hath lost, money hath found. When honor grew mercenary, money grew honorable. The way to be truly noble is to contemn both."
- – Francis Quarles
The Fyreslayers are the Duardin followers of Grimnir. They scour the realms for their precious Ur-Gold, which is also the scattered fragments of Grimnir’s corpse combined with the molten blood of a giant magma lizard godbeast. Because of this, they’re a lot more mercenary-like than their forbearers in the Old World. They were initially less-than-liked when they were first released (due to both their large orange mohawks and stark difference to the slayers of old), but have since then been grudgingly accepted, because what is more awesome than musclebound bearded Chads riding giant fire lizards and fighting in thongs? Not much.
Age of Myth
According to Fyreslayer myth, they originated as the mortal descendants of Grimnir. During this time, Grimnir directly dwelled among his worshippers, but this state of affairs would not last for long. Grimnir and his brother god Grungni were imprisoned in the event known as the Thagduegi, or Great Betrayal, the exact nature of which has long since been forgotten. This was until Sigmar came to rescue them, and in exchange Grimnir demanded to repay the favor immediately. Sigmar decided to have Grimnir slay the powerful salamander Godbeast Vulcatrix. The epic duel between Vulcatrix and Grimnir ended in their mutual destruction, in a colossal explosion that turned the Hills of Aqshy into the Plains of Aqshy and scatter their remains across the world, where they would turn into gold and the eggs of Magmadroths.
The worshippers of Grimnir immediately began gathering the gold (which they called Ur-Gold) as sacred relics. Although they initially attempted to create enchanted weapons out of the substance, they quickly discovered the best way to tap into the true power of Ur-Gold was to forge into runes and painfully hammer it into their bodies, granting them superdwarfen strength and toughness. However, to those not of the Fyreslayer priesthood Ur-Gold and regular gold is indistinguishable. Thus, the Fyreslayers quickly became a culture of mercenaries, the only way to find their precious Ur-Gold being to sift through plenty of the regular kind.
Age of Chaos
During the Age of Chaos, the Fyreslayers were one of the few non-Chaos worshipping cultures that thrived. Even as the other Duardins were driven out of their Karaks, the Fyreslayers' warrior culture (and the superior defenses one has when you build a fortress inside active volcanos) allowed them to avoid being conquered (despite regular confrontations with Skaven and the Gloomspite Gitz) During this time, the Fyreslayers were often hired as mercenaries by those wishing to defend themselves from the Chaos hordes, but almost as often were hired by the Chaos hordes themselves. This combined with their isolationism meant that although they had many customers, they had few true allies.
Age of Sigmar
When the Age of Sigmar began during the Realmgate Wars, many Fyreslayers quickly became allies with the Stormcast Eternals, being one of the few major Order-aligned powers who weren't limited to Azyr nor in hiding. After the founding of the Free Cities, the Fyreslayers became more connected to the outside world, often setting up local branches within these cities.
The Necroquake would prove to be a tough time for the Fyreslayers, however. The repeated failed sieges during the Age of Chaos meant the outside of many Magmaholds were mass-graves, ripe to be resurrected as undead armies, and the lava-moats and walls that protected them didn't do a good job of stopping Nighthaunts that are flying and intangiable. Thankfully Teclis has put a stop to this.
Era of Beasts
Grungni's return to the public eye has been controversial among Fyreslayers, some respecting him for being a kin of Grimnir and others seeing him as a coward and a traitor for not fighting during the Age of Chaos. In addition, the prospect of Duardin reunification Grungni promotes is itself controversial, many Fyreslayers looking down on the Kharadron Overlords for their atheism and wanting no relationship between them beyond business, whilst the Kharadron see the Fyreslayers as backwards rustic nut jobs so lost in their zealotry to obtain Ur Gold and bring back Grimnir that they were willing to sometimes work with Chaos, something even the opportunistic Kharadron would rather die than undertake given their society's origins in the Age of Chaos.
Despite this political divide, the Era of the Beast has proven to be a profitable one for the Fyreslayers, as the many Dawnbringer Crusades being launched have plennty of need of mercenaries to protect them, all the better if they seek to settle in a land rich with Ur-Gold.
Ur-Gold was created when Grimnir's firey spirit fused with Vulcatrix's metal blood during their simultaneous death, and upon being spread across the realms this combined essence sunk underground until it merged with hidden veins of gold. The Fyreslayers believe that somewhere around five in every hundred parts of gold is Ur-Gold. Only the Zharrgrim priesthood is able to reliably tell Ur-Gold apart from regular gold, and even they have trouble explaining the differences. Although some may cite strange sheens or an invigorating smells, it really comes down to a kind of gut instinct on their part.
The exact abilities given by Ur-Gold depends on what type of rune its made into. On tabletop, this manifests in six different buffs that can be applied to your Fyreslayer army depending on what rune they activate that turn. The Soulbound RPG allows you to go more granular with this, and gives you a choice of nineteen seperate runes to choose from to customize your character. Ur-Gold runes remain dormant until activated in battle, and a typical sign of them being activated is the Fyreslayer emitting smoke or sparks from his body.
Some Fyreslayers get addicted to the feeling of power and divinity they gain from releasing the power of Ur-Gold. This condition is called the Glimmerlust, and the Zharrgrim priesthood take great efforts to ensure this does not become a problem by carefully rationing the supply of runes. Still, it is not unknown for some to fall entirely to Glimmerlust and become Doomvarags, madmen who slaughter their kin in order to take runes from their corpses.
In addition, due to Ur-Gold containing Vulcatrix's essence in addition to Grimnir's, the Zharrgrim priesthood have absorbed some of his elemental power from their constant handling of Ur-Gold, resulting in them developing abilities to manipulate fire and magma. This power was boosted further by the Necroquake, allowing the summoning of lava constructs known as Magmic Invocations. The most notable of these invocations are the Magmic Battleforges, forges that the Zharrgrim priesthood can summon from the earth. In addition to being used as a convenient way to craft runes and cremate the dead when far away from the Lodge, they can also empower the Ur-Gold runes of those fighting nearby.
Fyreslayers are a warrior culture, and every male Fyreslayer is expected to serve in battle. While Fyreslayers may be miners or blacksmiths while they aren't fighting, these occupations have the sole purpose of supplying their armies with resources. Women are exempt from this, due to being much rarer than the men and thus too valuable to risk in battle, leading to the common misconception amongst outsiders that they have no women at all. Although, it has been mentioned in various stories that women fulfill other roles within the lodge, such as being Brew Matrons, brewing rather strong and fiery ale and grog that is said to be difficult for anyone who isn't a Fyreslayer to even swallow. Of course, there have been exceptions to the rule, with the occasional Runemother rising to take charge of a lodge.
The gathering of Ur-Gold is seen as the highest religious pursuit. It is believed that when the power of Ur-Gold runes are exhausted, the energy escapes to where it will eventually coalesce back into Grimnir. As such, acquiring gold at any cost is seen as a necessary evil to allow the eventual reincarnation of their deity, and the use of runes in battle is seen as the highest form of prayer. Most outsiders don't know this secret, assuming Fyreslayers are just incredibly greedy and obsessive, since the Fyreslayers keep this information tightly guarded for fear that others will try to steal Grimnir's power for themselves. That said, the stereotype exists for a reason and some Fyreslayers really are obsessively greedy, while other Lodges are well aware of the assumptions outsiders place on their gold gathering and deliberately use it as a cover to hide their true intentions. For the gathering of Ur Gold is no mere monetary endeavor, but a religious undertaking of the highest priority, making nearly all other ethical or moral concerns secondary.
Fyreslayers are divided into clans known as lodges. At the top is the Runefather, patriarch of the lodge, and directly below him are the Runesons, his many children who compete with each-other in hopes of proving themselves a worthy heir. A Runefather will typically have a dozen or so children over his lifetime, though the especially fertile Runefather of the Vostarg lodge has sired over fifty Runesons. Only one Runeson may inherit the title of Runefather, though there are many cases of Runesons splitting off with their supporters to become Runefathers of their own lodges. The badge of office of the Runefather is the latchkey grandaxe, a weapon that also serves as the key to the central Ur-Gold magmavault. Upon ascending to the rank of Runefather, it is customary for said Guardian to take up the surname of Grimnir alongside their birth name, marking them out as carrying on the sacred lineage of their deity (eg. Bael-Grimnir, Runefather of the Vostarg Lodge). The bodyguards of the Runefather, his Runesons and other family members are the Hearthguard Berzerkers, the elite of the Fyreslayers.
Ur-Gold is handled by the Zharrgrim Priesthood, the religious caste of the Fyreslayers. Although having a dozen different ranks, the only ones elaborated in the tabletop are the Auric Runemaster, head of the priesthood and crafter of the Ur-Gold runes, and the Auric Runesmiters, who are in charge of the rituals of hammering said runes into the Fyreslayers. Ur-Gold has an addictive quality, and putting too many runes into one duardin can kill them, so the Zharrgrim priests have the important role of making sure every Fyreslayer has his fair share but doesn't take more than he can handle. In addition, the Zharrgrim Priesthood are also in charge of filtering out Ur-Gold from the regular gold. Lastly, there is the Auric Flamekeepers, whose main task is to oversee the funerary rites of the Lodge (which of course involves cremation), as well the extraction of Ur Gold runes from the fallen. Zharrgrim who do not appear on the tabletop include the Klinkin (who maintain the furnaces), the Voldrini (who use their magmic powers to carve tunnels) and the Drothnim (who raise Magmadroths from eggs). These guys are guarded by the Auric Hearthguard, who also have the job of guarding the main magma-vault that contains the Lodge's Ur-Gold hoard.
Two units exist outside of the hierarchy of the Fyreslayers: the Doomseekers and Grimwrath Berzerkers. Doomseekers are essentially oldschool Dwarf Slayers, warriors who seek to die in battle to atone for some shame. They tend to spend most of their time wandering in exile, but often ally with any nearby Fyreslayers in exchange for some fresh new Ur-Gold runes. Grimwrath Berzerkers are the greatest warriors of the Fyreslayers, having dozens of runes implanted into them, but the process of doing so tends to drive them quite mad and thus they aren't seen as fit to take command. Their axes are apparently so powerful that anybody who isn't a Grimwrath will die if they try to use them, unless you're Gotrek, who uses one even before having an Ur-Gold rune implanted in him because he's fucking Gotrek.
- Vostarg Lodge: The largest and wealthiest of the lodges, and the only ones that still bear the name of one of the OG lodges formed in the time of Grimnir. Technically has two Runefathers, as Fjul-Grimnir (great-grandfather of the current Runefather) abandoned his post to go to Shadespire, where the curse there has prevented him from dying. Part of the pro-Grungni faction of Fyreslayers.
- Greyfyrd Lodge: The most mercenary out of all the mercenaries, the Greyfyrd lodge are constantly at war to the point where they no longer even bother to mine. Their unscrupulous nature means they're the ones most likely to be hired by non-Order factions. They reside in Chamon within the Gateswold realm nexus, a cluster of Realmgates that allow the Greyfyrd easy access to other Realms, and more importantly, ever more contracts. Guess their businesses are dying now thanks to Be'lakor.
- Hermdar Lodge: This lodge is known for providing their services for cheap and even doing pro-bono work to liberate the oppressed. While this makes them This Guy, the other lodges despise them and think of them as undercutters. After losing their Magmahold, Runefather and all his sons to the forces of Chaos, the survivors elected a new leader. Against the odds, they took back their home, swearing to never sit idly by while the forces of Chaos ravage the lands. Part of the pro-Grungni faction of the Fyreslayers.
- Lofnir Lodge: These pyromaniacs from Ghur worship Vulcatrix and Grimnir equally, and as such have the most Magmadroths. This trait has earned them much suspicion from other Lodges, which has turned them into bitter isolationists who are perhaps the most openly opposed to Grugni's reunification efforts.
- Unbak Lodge: Residing in the Salamander’s Spine, this lodge is among the oldest and most skilled in rune-crafting. Though it is best known for being ground zero for Gotrek Gurnisson’s arrival in the Mortal Realms. This lodge has refused to swear loyalty to Sigmar's forces and has even been heavily implied to have sided with Chaos in the past, causing the Order of Azyr to send forces, specifically Gotrek's travel companion Maleneth, to steal their Master Rune and making Gotrek incredibly disgusted with their shameful lack of honour.
- Tangrim Lodge: After the gates of Azyr reopened, these duardin quickly set up shop in the Realm of Heavens, working exclusively with the forces of Order, the Stormcast Eternals specifically. Additionally, they dye parts of their beards white to symbolize their alliance to Sigmar.
- Gelvagd Lodge: A more traditional warrior group residing in Azyrheim. Stoic and vindictive, they maintain a record of all transgressions made against the Lodge in metal tablets, which are then cast into a lava moat when the grudge is settled. They hire themselves out to travelers setting out from the city. One of the Fyreslayer lodges known to oppose Grungni.
- Volturung Lodge: The first Fyreslayers to ally with the Stormcast Eternals, they live in a mountain they’ve carved to look like Grimnir’s face and claim direct descent from the original Lodges.
- Sigyorn Lodge: Warriors from the Forge Cities of Chamon, these duardin bear red tattoos all across their bodies and often sell their axes to Freeguild and Kharadron armies.
- Ulrung Lodge: A wandering lodge who lost their original Shyish forges many years ago to the legions of Death. They are grim and fatalistic, marking their beards white with the ashes of their fallen brothers ala Kratos.
- Baeldrag Lodge: An offshoot of the Vostarg Lodge, they live in Ghyran and devote themselves entirely to destroying the Skaven after two of their eldest Runesons were mutated together into a horrific monster.
- Thungur Lodge: These Hysh duardin have waged war with the native Aelves of the region and carry more than a few strange traditions, such as covering each other in gold dust which causes them to burst into flames at the behest of their Runesmitters. They have the unusual practice of forging their Ur-Gold using beams projected through crystal lenses rather than using forge fire. Also notably the only Fyreslayer Lodge confirmed to be ruled by a Runemother, the Fyrequeen Maegrym.
- Caengan Lodge: A subtler Lodge from Ulgu, this Lodge is infamous for sacking the entire kingdom of their former allies following the latter’s refusal to give compensation. They have learned a number of shadowy tricks in order to survive in the treacherous and unpredictable landscape of Ulgu.
- Varrukh Lodge: A Fyreslayer Lodge from Chamon that went into a steep decline due to attacks from Idoneth Deepkin and its Runefather falling into madness. Gotrek showed up to whip them into shape by snapping their Runefather out of his funk and helping them reconquer their lost holdings. Unlike the Unbak, he actually ended up getting along with these guys quite well, even seeming to tolerate them calling him a prophet of Grimnir despite his disdain whenever Fyreslayers typically start worshipping him.
Where da Fyreslayer Women at?
"I mean it Bael. This could be the one. Your true heir. I had a dream. Grimnir told me as much..."
- – Grunhilda to Bael-Grimnir after giving birth to his daughter.
As with all dwarf races to come out of Games Workshop, we don't know very much about the presence of their women. We know they exist, and we know they have to be pretty fertile, since a Runefather can have dozens of sons, but that's pretty much the extent of canon information. Aside from this obvious implication that fyreslayer women are veritable broodmothers compared to the dwarf women of the World-That-Was, they have appeared in very bit-part mentions in canon. One Fyreslayer battle report in White Dwarf has framing fiction of the Runefather interacting with his pregnant wife before he leaves to fight the battle, and the returning to find she's given birth to a daughter, which doesn't displease him.
It's possible that Fyreslayers have lost both the overabundance of males and cripplingly long gestation periods that made Malus dwarves a dying race, and it's purely cultural values that keeps their womenfolk largely out of sight and off of the battlefield.
There is a recent notable exception to the standard Patriarchal system to the Fyreslayers introduced in the 3rd edition battletome, however. The current Runefather of the Hermdar Lodge, Kalmar-Grimnir appointed his Runedaughter, Bruja Brightaxe, to be his heir, rather than what would traditionally be given to one of his older Runesons, making her the first potential canon Runemother in the setting. This choice was made primarily because of Brujas's savviness and diplomatic mind that help to maintain the worldview Hermdar maintains that differentiates itself from other lodges, mainly it's willingness to uphold oaths and contracts more on the basis of honor and justice, rather than on solely the relentless pursuit of Ur-Gold to restore Grimnir.
As well, the Runefather mentioned above whose wife gave birth to a daughter, Bael-Grimnir of the Vostarg Lodge, is known to be notoriously difficult to please. So much so that, despite having sired over FIFTY Runesons throughout his long life, he refused to name any of them as his heir. However, shortly after the Necroquake was unleashed, Bael's Hearthwife Grunhilda gave birth to a daughter, while also having a vision that this new Runedaughter would finally be the one worthy enough to inherit the rule of Vostarg.
In Age of Sigmar Roleplay, Fyreslayers are noted as rare Soulbound compared to their Kharadron Overlord cousins, simply because of the insularity of the race - though it doesn't help that becoming a Soulbound means being sterilized, which is a pretty damn major thing in Fyreslayer society! Still, for whatever reasons - be it becoming a grimnyn ("fated wanderer", allowing one to swear a kill evil shit oath but be able to deem it fulfilled while living) or swearing the Oath of Doom (the classic Warhammer Fantasy Slayer oath, only ending in death), losing their lodge, being estranged from their lodge, or just being an oddball, there are Fyreslayers willing to swear even this most grievous and serious of pledges by undergoing the Rite of Binding. Normal Fyreslayers are uncertain of how to act around their Soulbound fellows; there is great honor and potentially great glory in the Soulbound's life, and yet suspicious that they would work for gods other than Grimnir... not to mention scandalous that often the Soulbound will actually do things for free! For this reason, Fyreslayer Soulbound tend to be the most likely to demand at least some token form of payment, for appearances sake. Doomseekers are probably the most accepted by ordinary Fyreslayers, as they are sworn to death in battle due to a failure or great shame already and being Soulbound would allow them to seek redemption more effectively.
The Champions of Order splatbook adds the following lodges for a Fyreslayer hero to hail from:
- Vostarg: One of the most legendary of lodges, but now tarnished as their last great runefather died and his various runesons broke off to travel the realms in search of glory. Modern Fyreslayers of this lodge seek to surpass the legendary deeds of their ancestors and seek greater glories. Heroes of Vostarg seek unity and cooperation amongst the Fyreslyers, and thus add a number of die equal to their training in Lore to any checks to foster such a unity (including any Entertain checks when using the Legendary Saga talent) and gain advantage against any opposed checks against Fyreslayers of other lodges.
- Greyfyrd: Feared as mercenaries, the slayers of this lodge seek nothing more than bloody conflict. Often, they will only take arms if their fees are met, though many will fight merely for the sake of fighting and for the glory that killing a certain enemy would entail. Heroes of Greyfyrd are exceptionally wealthy, having either extra reserves of Aqua Ghyranis or a certain rare item in their possession. In addition, they gain double the money if they undertake any endeavors to generate a profit.
- Lofnir: The members of this lodge revere Vulcatrix as part of a cycle of violence that the fallen Grimnir only completes. As such, they seek to both emulate the martial power of their gods as well as the fiery wrath of the mother of salamanders. Heroes of Lofnir are inured to the flames and thus suffer half the damage from any manner of fire. They also improve their defense by one step against Beasts.
- Tangrim: As befits those who settled on Azyr, the slayers of this lodge join forces to destroy the forces of Chaos and will join forces with others who share this belief, though other Fyreslayers view this sort of magnanimous behavior as foolish. That said, these warriors also have the hope that Grimnir will return again and seek to welcome him as allies of order. Heroes of Tangrim have the Sigmar's Judgment talent, as befits those who swore loyalty to both Grimnir and the god-king. Additionally, those with the Devoted (Grimnir) talent can also select miracles of Sigmar.
- Ulrung: As they reside in the realm of death, the Fyreslayers of this lodge are well-aware of the many perils that await them. Unfortunately, these perils are not merely foes they can cut through, and tragedies from within have dogged their steps as well. Even then, they fight to their dogged last, refusing even an inch of ground until their last breath. Heroes of Ulrung have the Ur-Gold Mastery talent, and the Old Enemy (Undead) talent is available to all archetypes.
- Thungur: As this lodge resides in Hysh, they make extensive use of Aetherquartz as well as their beloved Ur-Gold. Their forging process is also unique, using the light of many moons to forge their runes, leaving a golden dust and a pale shimmering rune that unsettles more unorthodox slayers. Heroes of Thungur add their training in Athletics and Weapon Skill when determining Initiative.
Fyreslayer archetypes available in the corebook consist of the Auric Runesmiter, the Battlesmith and the Doomseeker. The Champions of Order supplement adds the Grimwrath Berzerker as an archetype.
|Playable Factions in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar|