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."
- – Fredrick Douglas
"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 have been incorporated into the Legion of Grief, which was formed to besiege the City of Lethis and free Katakros, an ally of Nagash, from a Stormvault. Word on the streets is that Kurdoss is referring to this as a "honeymoon" whilst Olynder is whining about how far away it is.
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.
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;
- 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.
- 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 robbed of any vision, and are forced to flail around with unmatched frenzy whilst holding swords. Really cruel, since the classification for these can include innocent people who drowned or were buried alive.
- Dreadscythe Harridans: Along with the Bladegheists, they have 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 only 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
The Nighthaunt pose a very real and manifest fear to the people of the realms; the dead, suffering awful and dread fates rising from the grave to drag them down into the same torments they suffer. You can never tell when they're coming, you can't fortify against them, you can't even physically wound them most of the time. What hammers the fear factor home even further is the cruel and frankly unfair ironies of some of their units. Did you heal people in life? Tough titties, you're gonna blindly murder them with scythes for hands. Die drowning and flailing? Then you're gonna flail around for all eternity.
Tl:dr, if they want to get you (and they do), then they will. And you're gonna suffer when they do.
- Lady Olynder, Mortarch of Grief: In life, Olynder was a scheming gold digger who married high-ranking men then arranged the deaths of her husbands, afterwards crying crocodile tears about how she's a widow after each one died. 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 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.
- 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.
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 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.
|Lady Olynder - Kurdoss Valentian - Reikenor|
|Playable Factions in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar|