Grand Alliance Death
"Welcome, foolish mortals, to the haunted mansion!"
- – Ghost Host
"As those who believe in the visibility of ghosts can easily see them, so it is always easy to see repulsive qualities in those we despise and hate."
- – Frederick Douglass
"A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man woke in the night."
- – J.M. Barrie
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, and said crimes range from actual wrong-doing to something Nagash doesn't like; an example of the latter are the Nighthaunts called Dreadscythe Harridans, 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 arose 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, where 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'RE MARRIED, NOW KISS".
Since then they've been rampaging across the realms, Shyish most of all. The Processions aided the (now defunct) Legion of Grief in besieging the City of Lethis and freeing Katakros, an ally of Nagash, from a Stormvault. Word on the streets is that Kurdoss referred to this outing as a "honeymoon" whilst Olynder spent most the trip there whining about how far away it was. After freeing Katakros, as a favour Lady O and her hubby decided to lend a helping hand in his endeavours to besiege the Eightpoints, leading the initial assault.
This didn't go wholly to plan, however - whilst they initially broke the chaos forces and Olynder managed to infect Be'lakor with supernatural rectal cancer, chaos quickly overwhelmed them, leading to Kurdoss being temporarily shattered (much to his annoyance) and Olynder calling for a retreat. Since Teclis sealed Nagash into a mountain, the ghosts have been enjoying more... well, not freedom, but more autonomy in making decisions. The bone man himself isn't all too happy about Olynder's alliance with Be’lakor, however.
Prior to the Necroquake, it was rare to see masses of Nighthaunt gathered together in large armies, partly due to their unreliable nature as ghosts. You'd see the odd Cain Wraith knocking about in a Necromancer's army, or a Tomb Banshee haunting the local manor, but that's about it. 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.
There are a few Processions notable enough to have unique rules and characters:
- The Emerald Host::
- The Grieving Legion:
- The Quicksilver Dead:
- The Scarlet Doom:
A Tide of Spookums
The Processions employ the various spirits dredged up from the bowels of Shyish, meaning that they can be pretty varied. However, the same group of archetypes tend to pop up more often than others; this is on account of Nagash leaving several curses in place that hang around and snap up those who fit the target of the curse.
- Knight of Shrouds: In life, these guys were generals that sold out to Nagash and are cursed in the afterlife to lead his hosts. They are cursed to always have a small sliver of doubt that worms through their hearts, meaning they suffer from a perpetual Macbeth-type guilt.
- Guardian of Souls: The wannabe Necromancers that thought they could outrun death are now (un)living nexuses of Death Magic. They summon more Nighthaunt into battle.
- Spirit Torment: AKA the ones that got off easy. Sadistic Jailers in life now get to be even more sadistic jailers in the afterlife!
- Lord Executioner: The ones who got the second best deal after Spirit Torments. Executioners who knowingly killed the innocent in life or enjoyed their work too much are now sent after heroes to execute them in unlife. They are constantly harassed by the spirits of the people they wrongfully executed, but those same spirits also can be used to preserve the Executioner's unlife.
- Dreadblade Harrow: The lieutenants of the Knights that watched on as they betrayed and did nothing. Their half-measures in life make them especially incorporeal.
- Krulghast Cruciator: Formerly mortals who were tortured to death, the Krulghast Cruciators now gain power by inflicting torment upon others. When harvesting the pain of their opponents they turn into beacons of death magic that make other Nighthaunt harder to banish.
- Cairn Wraith: Mass murderers and serial killers that can't rest due to their hatred. Often Lone Wolves among the Processions.
- Tomb Banshee: The betrayed and tormented women, who in unlife have become obsessed with revenge.
- Spirit Hosts: Formless, identity-less packs of spirits that are all bound together, often found in mass graves or battlefields.
- Chainrasps: The average criminal scum that died in chains, now forever grasping and begging for light in the afterlife.
- Grimghast Reapers: When someone has too much Just as Planned they are blinded and forced to kill with no subtlety whatsoever.
- Hexwraiths: The proud and cruel Knights that decided to shit on the peasants too much are stuck forever riding their ethereal horses.
- Glaivewrath Stalkers: The guys that enjoyed hunting too much are now melded with their mounts, their weapons always point towards their victims like compasses but they literally cannot feel any joy in the hunt anymore.
- Myrmourn Banshees: People who sought knowledge of magic in life (specifically death magic) and didn't pay proper reverence to Nagash are forced to feed on nothing BUT magic, devouring spells and wizards.
- Chainghasts: The Spirit Torment's assistants but without the better deal. They're formed from people who died in captivity and didn't pray to Nagash for help. For this "crime" they're put into iron harnesses, forced to carry heavy locks enchanted to fill them with hopelessness and forced to act as enforcers for Spirit Torments. Still better off than Bladegheists and Dreadscythes.
- Bladegheist Revenants: Those who died screeching and thrashing are blinded and are forced to flail around with unmatched frenzy whilst holding swords forever. Really cruel, since the classification for these can include innocent people who drowned or were buried alive. The second most unfortunate Nighthaunts after the ones below.
- Dreadscythe Harridans: The ones with the most cruel fate. Former healers that stopped souls from going to Nagash by saving people from fatal injuries are forced into committing wanton slaughter with scythes for hands, and a few even have two arms split into four. As a further "fuck you" from Nagash, their minds and memories are wholly intact, but they are unable to control their actions.
- Black Coach: The particularly powerful Necromancers and Vampires are coached around by a Cairn Wraith in these, so that they can absorb the Death Magic and regenerate.
Why They're Scary
Well, aside from the fact that they're called Nighthaunt, they pose a very real and genuinely terrifying threat to the realms; Nighthaunt are literally the tortured ghosts of the dearly departed rising from the grave to drag you down to meet the same fate. You never know when they're coming, you can't fortify against them, and you can't even wound them most of the time because they're ghosts. At any given moment, your shitty little hamlet in the middle of nowhere could get swamped by a tide of them, and there would be very little you could do to stop them. And even if you should repel them, they can always come back - see the fates of Westreach and Eastdale in the Lady of Sorrows novel.
What hammers the fear factor home even further is the cruel - and frankly unfair - ironies they face. Did you heal people in life? You're gonna scythes for hands, uncontrollably murdering people, as your incorporeal eyes are used as a camera as you look on helplessly. Die drowning or flailing around? Then you're gonna blindly flail around for all eternity, never knowing peace. Die in prison? Oops, looks like you're gonna be groping around for the light of day for the rest of your miserable existence! Hell, if your jailer was abusive, then THEY might become a Nighthaunt too, and STILL have power over you!
Tl:dr, if they want to get you, then they will. And when they do, the best possible outcome is death, and the worst is dying horribly and becoming one yourself.
- Lady Olynder, Mortarch of Grief: In life, Olynder was a scheming gold digger who married high-ranking men then covertly had her husbands murdered, then she'd cry crocodile tears about their deaths while claiming their wealth. 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 bait 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 two spectral heralds who mock him for not being able to become a true king (basically Statler and Waldorf) and is also cursed to be unable to raise his voice above the level of a whisper. He was 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 so as to deny him any kind of rulership even in his new position of power. His hatred and bitterness over this situation is so strong, he can stifle his foes' commands in their mouths.
- Reikenor the Grimhailer: Once a mighty sorcerer from Hysh 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 and Necromancers who refuse to serve him.
- Awlrach the Drowner: A murderous oarsman who flies around in an awesome ghost ship.
- The Briar Queen: A former mage of Death. Notable for looking suspiciously similar to Olynder and being stuck in the Nightvault of Shadespire.
- Gharest Malcor: A knight who was part of a rebellion against Lady Olynder after figuring out she'd murdered their previous king and the prince to get power. However Olynder seduced him into betraying the rebellion to her, by bribing him with money, riches and presumably feet pics. This was all for naught however, as she murdered him as well. As a Nighthaunt she enslaved him to be
her main simp pay piggy a beta orbitera Knight of Shrouds who leads her personal Procession, The Emerald Host.
- The Night Haunter: C'mon, it's in the name.
The Age of Sigmar Roleplay supplement Champions of Death would naturally introduce the Nighthaunt as a playable race, making full use of their ghastly nature. Of course, as these are the souls of the restless dead perpetually shackled to Nagash's will, they have little choice but to obey his bidding in those instances where the skelepope personally makes Bindings, making use of their spite to keep their so-called allies on edge.
Once in a blue moon however, there are those Nighthaunt who find themselves soulbound to the gods of Order rather than Nagash. Often, these were former heroes of legend who already had the potential to join the Order of the Soulbound but rejected the offer for some reason. In any case, the Nighthaunt must first overcome their all-consuming bitterness towards the living for the sake of finding some sort of freedom, some hope that the great necromancer would so gleefully dangle just out of their ethereal reach...and sometimes, the forces of Order may answer. Those who are so lucky seek either the final release of true death or to partake in mortal pleasures once more, knowing that this may be the last time they could do so.
Unlike other races, the Nighthaunt currently lack any form of subfaction, instead gaining 2 XP to use on talents.
Nighthaunts have access to the Cairn Wraith, Guardian of Souls, Knight of Shrouds, Lord-Executioner, Myrmourn Banshee, or Spirit Torment archetypes.
Spooky Melodies for Haunting
As any good Ork/Imperial Guard/Stormcast/fellow death 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 fright!
- 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.
- For Metal lovers.
|Awlrach the Drowner - Kurdoss Valentian - Lady Olynder - Reikenor the Grimhailer|
|Leaders:||Cairn Wraith - Dreadblade Harrow - Guardian of Souls - Knight of Shrouds - Krulghast Cruciator - Lord Executioner - Scriptor Mortis - Spirit Torment - Tomb Banshee|
|Troops:||Bladegheist Revenant - Chainrasp - Craventhrone Guard - Dreadscythe Harridan - Glaivewraith Stalker - Grimghast Reaper - Myrmourn Banshee - Black Coach - Hexwraiths - Spirit Host|
|Playable Factions in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar|