The Nighthaunt are a faction in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. They are an army of ghosts who hate and envy the living. Like all undead, they're part of Grand Alliance: Death, and thus owe their allegiance to Nagash. Previously a minor faction, Age of Sigmar second edition promotes them to new heights of relevance with them even being in the starter set.
Most of the Nighthaunt have forms that reflect their past crimes, said crimes range from actual wrong-doing to something Nagash doesn't like (the Nighthaunts called Dreadscythe Harridans are the spirits of healers who Nagash turned into tormented killing machines for the 'crime' of saving people from dying and thus preventing their souls from coming to Shyish, and he left them aware of their actions but unable to control themselves). This was done as either a kind of an ironic punishment or Nagash's idea of a joke. Which just goes to show how much of a hypocrite he is, since all of his power came from scheming, theft, sacrilege, murder, genocide, and a warpstone drug addiction.
Nighthaunts have always been around in some form, some artificially created by necromancers, others naturally generated by powerful winds of Amethyst Magic. The first all-Nighthaunt army was created by Nagash during the beginning of the Age of Chaos, when he turned the spirits of valiant warriors who swore oaths to fight for noble causes and never for coin into mercenaries who killed in exchange for payments of souls, also establishing his firm love for ironic torture. They only became a true big player during the Necroquake caused by Nagash's Black Pyramid, whe vast waves of Shyish energy caused the reanimation of millions of Nighthaunts. Unfortunately for Nagash, the hordes had no leadership and didn't know anything about tactics or strategy, and the force that could've ushered in his ultimate victory mostly just got sidetracked.
Seeing that these hordes needed a leader, he appointed Lady Olynder to be the Mortarch in charge of the Nighthaunt. She quickly went around organizing them into actual armies, called Processions, and appointing generals to lead them in the form of the Knights of Shrouds. Olynder's first task as Mortarch was to eradicate the Chaos forces occupying the Underworld of Lyria, and although she was succesful, her near-death at the hands of a Bloodthirster caused Nagash to realize that she needed a lieutenant to prevent her from making another such mistake, resulting in him arranging her marriage to Kurdoss Valentian. Sadly there are no details about how the wedding went, so we just have to imagine a giant Nagash saying "YOU MAY NOW KISS THE BRIDE".
Prior to the soulwars, it was rare to see masses of Nighthaunt gathered together in large armies, partly due to their unreliable nature as ghosts. This changed following the crowning of Lady Olynder as Mortarch of Grief, as she ruthlessly gathered the spirits and formed them into armies known as Processions. The goals of each Procession are mostly centered around specific curses or leaders. Some Processions might be formed of a empires worth of spirits, called forth from the underworld, while others may be spirits long imprisoned by Nagash, freed and twisted by the Necroquake.
- Lady Olynder, Mortarch of Grief: In life, Olynder was a schemer who married into power and arranged the deaths of her husbands, all the while crying crocodile tears about how she's a widow. Upon her death, Nagash punished her for her crimes by making her feel all the grief in the Mortal Realms, so now she's a genuine sobbing wreck. However, that didn't stop Olynder for long; using her own sorrows as a irresistible bate for other Nighthaunt, she forged one of the first entirely Nighthaunt empires. With the arrival of more Nighthaunts after the Necroquake, Nagash needed someone to manage them, and thus promoted her to be his newest Mortarch.
- Kurdoss Valentian, the Craven King: Another noble who schemed his way into power, killing many including his own brothers, but was struck down by Nagash just before his coronation as King. (Not for his betrayals and murders, but because he praised and prayed to Sigmar.) He is constantly followed by spectral heralds who mock him for not being able to become a true king (basically Statler and Waldorf) and cursed to be unable to raise his voice above the level of a whisper. Married to Lady Olynder by Nagash to become the second-in-command of the Nighthaunt, but further cursed to be forced to obey her every order to deny him any kind of rulership even in his new position of power.
- Reikenor the Grimhailer: Once a mighty sorcerer who attempted to become immortal. And we all know what Nagash does to people who try to cheat death. Now Nagash tasks him with hunting down and killing those who would seek to steal souls from him.
Spooky Melodies for Haunting
As any good Ork/Imperial Guard/Stormcast/Skelebob player knows, fitting music for your army is necessary for lowering enemy morale, so you'll need to have a couple of ghastly tunes ready to give your opponent (and the rest of your FLGS) a real frighten.
- Grim Bitter Haunts - Make sure to play this when you bring both Lady Olynder, Valentian and Reikenor in a game!
- Now I know it's N-N-N-N-NIGHTHAUNT!
- For the Vidya lovers among us.