Settra the Imperishable
"There are great deeds that remain undone, enemies yet to conquer and raptures yet to rejoice in. So as it is written, so shall it be done. I, Settra, have proclaimed it - let none dare oppose my will."
- – Settra the Imperishable
"The last enemy to be destroyed is death."
- – 1 Corinthians 15:26
"If there's anything more important than my ego on this ship, I want it caught and shot right now!"
- – Zaphod Beeblebrox
The one who made Nehekhara a unified kingdom, first king of the first dynasty, greatest badass of the Tomb Kings and he with the most magnificent beard outside Dwarfs.
Though he was a tyrannical ruler, Settra the Imperishable is regarded as Nehekhara's best king. This is because he united the cities of Nehekhara into one kingdom and rebuilt the realm after it had been devastated by civil war, plague and drought. While he was ruthless dealing with dissenters, he was generous when his people came through, doing things such as praising the peasants and slaves when they did well and giving lots of rewards
In essence, he had mastered one of the most famous [and the most widely misunderstood] of Machiavelli's ideas - a ruler should be both feared and loved, only choose fear if they can't have both, and always avoid being hated. In practice, Settra is Warhammer's answer to Qin Shi Huang - the man who united China and became its first Emperor and even searched for immortality before he died, Alexander the Great - being a guy who tried to rule the world and was mad when he couldn't, and a bit of Seti I. He's probably best friends with Zod (Terrence Stamp Zod obviously)
"Think your arrogance can match mine, Elf? I am Settra!"
Originally Settra was a powerful king, but a vain and egotistical tyrant as well. He actually renamed Nehekhara Khemri in his vanity. He was the founder of the city of Khemri and the first Priest King to have his body buried in a pyramid. When Settra died, the people rejoiced but preserved his body out of tradition. When Nagash's magic inundated the land, Settra rose and rallied armies of undead to make an anti-Nagash resistance, the other kings joining him due to their shared hatred of Nagash. But after Nagash and Arkhan were driven out, the other kings refused to obey Settra. Furious, Settra led his armies to war waged war against them, but the other kings united against Settra and he was forced to retreat and turtle up in Khemri, vowing revenge. Settra then sent his army to raid other lands and bring back living captives who be killed in horrible rituals to bolster his army, with the goal of bringing all Nehekhara under his iron-fisted rule.
In later editions, some of this is still true with several major changes. Settra became a very skilled - albeit tyrannical - ruler who, while hard on dissenters and failures, was generous with people who succeeded which is unlike most Nehekharan monarchs. He also founded the Mortuary Cult as a way for him to achieve immortality because he didn't want to die. Newer lore also made Settra the king who successfully unified Nehekhara through cleverness, strength and the blessings of their gods.
He was ruthless towards anyone who challenged or even questioned his rule, from bandits to leaders of other kingdoms who thought they were "equal", having them dealt with loudly and publicly. In undeath, he became strong enough that he can tear anyone who invites his wrath limb from limb, with his bare hands. The combination of brutal efficiency and effective rule brought about an unequaled golden age for Nehekhara that trumped everything humans (and came close to the height of elves) that had ever been before or after. He also considered ruling the world to be his destiny, to the point not even his own sons were considered worthy to take up the mantle of all that he has wrought.
He is also a textbook example of the Knight Templar trope (doing terrible things to get his point across for a greater goal, seeking the best for people, self-righteous, bonus points for being religious too). The man sacrificed his own children without a second thought to the gods to prove his devotion to them (whether this makes him a dedicated ruler or an evil zealot is a matter of debate).
In all fluff, Settra wound up with more titles than an Ogre Tyrant and had servants whose entire job was reciting them (punishment for those who fucked up) all day, every day. It took his heralds nearly two hours to say them all. Unlike many people with a ton of titles, he earned most of them. They include:
- Mighty Lion Of The Infinite Desert
- Emperor Of The Shifting Sands
- He Who Holds The Sceptre
- Great Hawk Of The Heavens
- King of Kings
- Monarch of the Sky
- Majestic Emperor of the Shifting Sands
- High King of Nehekara
- Ruler of the Four Horizons
- and many, many, more...
Of all the kings of Nehekhara, none could match the splendor, cruelty and arrogance of Settra, first King of Khemri (
Except Nagash Usurpers don't count, and Settra made Nehekhara a splendid unified kingdom while Nagash fucked it over). Before he became king Settra saw a lot of shit as Nehekhara was a desolate place torn apart by wars between cities. Wanting his subjects to love him, Settra listed to the advice of his priest who stated only a king with the gods on their side could command the respect of their people. So, alone amongst the kings, Settra rebuilt the gods temples, made statues of them, attended sermons, prayed to them nightly all that stuff. On the first anniversary of his coronation, Settra organized a huge ceremony where he prayed for an end to the drought and asked them to bless the kingdom sacrificing his own children to show his dedication to the gods. The next day there was a huge rainstorm, the Nile-equivalent river flooded, washing away plague and the farmer's harvest was the best in history (at the time), proof that the gods favoured Settra.
Settra had fought alongside his father's legion for many years before ascending to Khemri's throne. As a result, he had the skill of a ruthless warlord, and his keen tactical and strategic sense was matched only by his courage and martial skill. From there he started reunifying Nehekhara under his rule, giving a beatdown to anyone who even slightly challenged his authority. He sent envoys and armies across the world, promoting trade or taking plunder, making Nehekhara a rich kingdom in material wealth, intellectual drive and faith, Nehekhara became the pinnacle of human civilization that has rarely been equaled (maybe Cathay) and only surpassed by the Elder races, such as the High Elves, at the height of their power. At some point he got his herald, Nekaph, a man (implied to be of Norsii descent) strong enough to crush a person's skull with his fists but smart enough to remember everything important about Settra. Nekaph may have been like a replacement son to him, as Setty gave Nekaph an awesome hand-me-down, his old weapon the Flail of Skulls.
When he was forty (or in the fortieth year of his reign; thank you very much vaguely-worded fluff), he grew vexed with the idea that he would grow mortal and die, as there would be lands left unruled by him. Even worse, death would rob him of all of his achievements in life. He gathered the priesthood and demanded they find a way to stop him dying. While their views on the matter were unknown, the priest agreed searching far and wide across the world. Various methods, including so-called immortality elixirs, rejuvenating treatments and even skin creams, were tried. Those attempts did slow down the king's ageing, but were ultimately unsuccessful at granting him the true immortality he craved. As time went on the Priests discovered a lot and extended their own lives as well. There were limits but they didn't tell Settra that for obvious reasons.
According to the Nagash novel, at some point in life he could no longer offer his sons to the gods in order to honor their pact (infertility at old age? or he has gone soft?), so he married a high priestess of Ptra named Hatsushepra instead. Since Hatsushepra was a royalty from Lahmia, Settra's act of marriage has began a tradition where the priest king of Khemri must married the princess of Lahmia in order to fulfill their pact with their gods. Despite sacrificed many of his sons to the gods, his bloodline continued with his fifth son Amenophis, which he was exiled by Settra for the suspicion of murdering his other son Djoser. Amenophis eventually found his way to Rasetra and continue his bloodline, which eventually lead to Alcadizzar the Conqueror, whom killed Nagash at the cost of his life and his kingdom.
After living for several hundred years beyond a human's natural span (even among the long-lived Nehekharans), Settra became frail enough to be said to be on his deathbed. During this time the priests came forth and told Settra that while they could not prevent his death right now, they could find a way for him to return to life later and then reign for eternity (sweetening the deal with the mention of an immortal, immaculate gold body). Pissed off that he was going to die but, for once up against an enemy he couldn't defeat, Settra agreed to their plan. He ordered a HEUG pyramid tomb complex built for himself and his army and gave a last speech to the Khemrians. After that, Settra died with a curse on his lips that would do an Angry Marine proud.
A boss to the end.
Death (and all the bullshit that happened when he wasn't around to keep the peace)
After his death and burial (including the customary ritual suicide of his army to serve him in the afterlife;
by the way, Nehekhara must have been full of carefree sex if they can afford to keep the population up despite sacrificing an army every time the reigning king dies remember "there are as many elves as the plot requires." Consistency and logic can take a back seat to rule of cool, it's all good), another king took the throne. This continued for generations, bringing the kingdom of Nehekhara further into contact with the outside world. Each king built a grand tomb for when they died, but none of them (except the Usurper mentioned below) dared make one bigger or better than Settra's. In the first version of Settra's lore, back in 4th edition when Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings were just Warhammer: Undead, Settra was a tyrant and his death was met with much rejoicing throughout the land. Suffice it to say the newer lore has been better received.
The Mortuary Cult went on to become more powerful, even harnessing magic. Despite various types of kings Nehekhara remained strong until the reign of king Thutep. While his older brother was given to the Priesthood as is traditional, Thutep was a diplomatic but overly accommodating king, leading to the kings of other cities trying to get one over on Khemri. Despite that, the worst-case scenario would have been a change in Khermi's socio-political position; Nehekhara would likely still have thrived.
Unfortunately for Nehekhara and much of the world, that aforementioned older brother of Thutep was a certain someone we all know and love to hate.
After the fall of Nehekhara, the now-undead Kings had regained their will they realised that the Mortuary Cult's preservation methods were not 100% perfect; they had succeeded in keeping their souls in their corpses but their bodies had nonetheless shrivelled up and decayed somewhat, with the most decayed being almost mindless. Naturally, one can imagine that this was a depressing situation for them. Many generations of kings from each city had to decide who got to hold the throne they all had at some point. Weaker kings who had sat on the laurels of stronger kings now had to contend with those stronger kings. Countless generations of dynasties took one look at having to spend the rest of eternity alongside each other and started beating the shit out of each other, trying to figure out who could be top dog. Throughout it all Settra and his forces were still resting in the peace of death, the wards on Settra's pyramid protecting the occupants from the necromantic magic that had inundated the land.
The Liche Priests eventually despaired that the incessant fighting between the returned dynasties was Not Good. In fact, there was a very real chance that the Tomb Kings would destroy each other out of sheer pride. Finally, the head of the Mortuary Cult, Grand Hierophant Khatep, decided he would get shit done. He broke the seals on Settra's pyramid, scurried inside, and deliberately awoke Settra, who promptly rode out like a sandstorm from nowhere and smashed heads together until all of the other lesser Tomb Kings agreed to sit down and shut up. Even Arkhan the Black was driven back, although his sorcerous powers are mighty enough that even Settra can't beat him permanently and he has to give Arkhan the occasional pimp-slapping to make him keep his nose out of Settra's business. Unfortunately the question of why he didn't order the other Tomb Kings to join in the war so that he could permanently kill Arkhan is never answered, aside from author favouritism for Arkhan.
After he finally had a chance to sit down and hear what happened during the two thousand years he was dead, Settra was pissed. Seriously pissed. In his rage, he declared Khatep an exile, forbidden to ever set foot in any of the great cities until such a time that he can fulfill the Mortuary Cult's ancient promise and reinstate the golden age of Nehekhara. At first he declared the kings return to their sleep and await his call; he vowed never to sleep again lest his kingdom fall to ruin. Ever since, Settra focused on trying to restore his former empire, rebuilding damaged structures, taking back stolen treasures and driving out occupying enemy forces and bandits. Throughout he kept a particular watch for the inevitable return of Nagash, determined to kill the Liche Lord and ensure only one undying monarch would rule over Nehekhara; he also had the side project of trying to destroy Nagash's Black Pyramid in older lore but every attempt, be it by war-machine or magic, failed.
Along the way, Settra had many legendary exploits that undoubtedly earned him new titles. At one point, a mad liche priest accidentally opened a rift to the realm of chaos, allowing a vast daemon legion to spill right into the heart of Khemri. Settra returned from campaign, furious that the daemons DARED set foot in his city, and went on to solo a Great Unclean One (who was likely bummed that the dead can't be made to sicken) that was leading the invasion. He then grabbed the idiot liche priest that caused this in the first place and threw him into the rift, sealing the breach forever. Another daemonic invasion occurred elsewhere later which was defeated when Settra, in a generous mood, accepted the help of a nearby group of High Elves led by Prince Althran, who were allowed to leave with their dignity afterwards.
One of his shining moments came after an army of Chaos Warriors, led by Valgar the Butcher, invaded Nehekhara to loot it. Settra led an army against and fought Valgar, but it ended up being a mutual kill. The Tomb Kings army was defeated but there were only the twelve survivors from the Norsii. Those survivors had rallied under Valgar's lieutenant, Khagul Bloodfist, and fled with as much Nhekharan treasure as they could carry, including Settra's crown which Khagul himself took. When he came back a decade later, Settra was filled with RAGE over the whole thing (most of all them taking his crown), and swore that he wouldn't return to Khemri until he'd killed the survivors and reclaimed all the stolen treasures right down to the last coin. He proceeded to do just that. He mustered the mightiest of Nehekhara's troops into a massive army and tracked down the twelve survivors via magic and his spy network (since they'd become stinking rich from the loot, each one had become powerful and well-known and thus easy to find). Using Zandri's fleet as transport, Settra and his army traveled to the Northern Wastes and wiped the twelve men out along with their tribes and mutated monsters in a long campaign of battles that ended with Settra retaking his crown and Khagul killed by Prince Apophas (High Elves wanting the Phoenix Crown back, takes notes).
Many years passed, then Settra woke all of the other kings up. He declared an age of expansion and massed the armies to expand Nehekhara beyond its previous boundaries and make the name of Settra once again feared (but not hated) across the world.
The End Times
Before Settra can begin his expansion, he finds out that Nagash has returned. Death magic runs rife through Nehekhara, and many Tomb Kings hear whispers in it; the voice of Nagash entreating them to serve. Undaunted, Settra commands the Tomb Kings to make the most of it. The forces he was going to use to spread his rule instead were mobilized to defend Nehekhara. He commissioned all the best troops from various cities to defend Khemri, knowing Nagash would seek his Black Pyramid, and ordered Nehekhara's best architect, Rahmotep, to get some skeletal work crews and build walls around the city. When Nagash used magic to shroud the land of Nehekhara in darkness the Tomb Kings did not despair, they just worked harder.
During the final battle for Khemri, Khatep broke his exile to tell Settra about the Destroyer of Eternities, a weapon that may be able to permanently stop Nagash. Settra listened then executed him for breaking his exile. He didn't find the blade in its place, as unknown to him Apophas stole it (at the behest of a Skaven assassin) to kill Nagash and claim his soul for Usirian. He later fought Arkhan and, sick of his nonsense, chased Arkhan down and bifurcated the snarky lich. Chaining Arkhan's halves to his chariot, Settra took his remains to priests who had a ritual to stop Arkhan from being reanimated. But one of the priests was a traitor who paralyzed the others with a spell, and Nagash emerged from inside Arkhan's ribcage. It turned out Arkhan's capture was a plan to smuggle Nagash into Khemri without him having to wear himself down fighting.
Settra and his forces were on the verge of defeating the forces of the Vampire Counts when Nagash emerged from his Black Pyramid. Nagash, super powered after nomming Nehekhara's death god Usirian and taking over the underworld, turns the tables. Eventually the two face off, trading blows before Settra loses his chariot and charges Nagash. The two engage in a battle of wills with Nagash discovering that Settra's willpower is still equal to his own, despite Nagash's divine supercharge. So Nagash decides to cheat and Settra doesn't even land a hit before Nagash sends swarms of spirits to restrain Settra and lift him into the air. Nagash complimented Settra and offered him a place as one of his Mortarchs, threatening destruction if he refused. In response Settra looked Nagash in the eye and said:
"SETTRA DOES NOT SERVE" he shouted, trembling with rage, "SETTRA RULES!" Utterly badass.
This doesn't phase Nagash, who just says "fuck it" and casually blows up Settra and scatters his bones across the sands of Khemri before claiming leadership of the Tomb Kings from Settra. As a final insult, Nagash destroys Khemri, forcing Settra's still-animate head to watch helplessly from the sand, and makes everyone leave Settra stuck there with the ruins of his city. After fuck knows how long, and getting tired of yelling to scare off hungry vultures, Settra reached his lowest point, and started to wish he were mortal just so he could truly die. Then, four unknown beings (revealed to be the Chaos Gods, though it's obvious in hindsight) put his body back together and fill him with new power, to Settra's surprise. Speaking as one they tell him his battle with Nagash doesn't have to end this way and that he can be a king again. Settra doesn't answer.
While there isn't a peep about him in the subsequent End Times armybooks, not even the last one "End Times:Archaon", Josh Reynolds comes to the rescue. According to Reynolds; After being put back together and having a moment of introspection Settra walked all the way from Khemri to Middenheim and approached Archaon as an ally (before he started digging for the Old Ones artifact beneath the city). To test his worth, Archaon ordered Settra to kill Kholek Suneater as Kholek was so arrogant as to be uncontrollable, and thus no use to Archaon. Settra and Kholek battled for four days, leveling much of the forest around Middenheim. But Settra was victorious, decapitating Kholek and dragging the head back to Archaon's throne room. He encountered Mannfred at Middenheim after the latter betrayed Nagash but gave no acknowledgement of this. At some point before the Incarnates arrived, Settra went his own way unbeknownst to anyone. When the Incarnates attacked Middenheim, Settra confronted Nagash during the final battle. He pointed his khopesh (his awesome sword) at Nagash, and calls him a usurper then explains the Chaos Gods (Settra refers to them as the "howling jackals" here) resurrected him to kill him. (There was a scene where Settra saw the Troll King Throgg's dead body near Nagash, which foreshadows the fate of all chaos worshippers, as well as his fate if he were to kill Nagash) Settra then performs a flip and beheads a Shaggoth that was about to attack Nagash, points his khopesh at him again informs him that "NOBODY COMMANDS SETTRA!" Settra called Nagash a "prince of Khemri" as if Nagash serves him, then told tell Nagash that he will temporarily forgive his past actions if he were to make the Chaos Gods suffer for DARING to offer him immortality and the chance to conquer all realities in exchange for servitude. He finishes by saying that after he's done killing the Chaos Gods, Nagash is next with a promise to take Nagash's skull and retake rulership of the Nehekharans, right before charging into battle against the Chaos monsters by himself, killing a giant for good measure. He's last seen fighting them as the world is consumed.
For those keeping score at home, that makes Settra the ONLY being in any Warhammer setting who was offered literally everything there is to be offered (everything that someone could want from the Chaos Gods such as money, power, even immortality and worship via becoming a Daemon Prince or even true Godhood as a minor Chaos God like the Horned Rat to name a few; he might even have gotten that immaculate living gold body and had the option of sex again he was promised), and instead chose to give Chaos the middle finger in response.
Because Settra does not serve. Settra rules.
Settra the Imperishable, Settra the Incorruptible, Settra Da Best.
GUESS WHO (isn't) BACK! (Age of Sigmar)
At first, there was no confirmed sign of Settra in Age of Sigmar, which fueled no end of speculation. Many were convinced that the Celestant-Prime (first of the Stormcast Eternals) was Settra brought back by Sigmar, as he fit the description, however later evidence challenged that, and now we're back to square one.
Despite this, fans of Settra still held a torch for the Khemrikhara, and their faith was eventually kicked in the balls because the different writers/editors at GW don't bother speaking to one another and are more comfortable retconning what they write than planning anything out.
To get into this fully, in the novel Hamlicar: Champion of the Gods there is a mention of a Lord Celestant Settrus of the Imperishables warrior chamber. It is said he has a special loathing for Nagash, and has a reputation for getting shit done and commands the respect and obedience of guys like Hamilcar Bear-Eater through sheer gravitas and force of will alone. So, yeah, it looked like Settra did indeed get Sigmarined; it may not be as the Celestant-Prime, but hey, at least the man was back. As you could predict, most WFB fans raged at it while AoS players either were excited at the possibility of
Thousand Sons Khopesh-wielding Sigmarines, or just shrugged at a reference they didn’t get and don’t care about. At any rate, David Guymer indicated he was not done with “Settrus” yet.
It soon came out that Settrus really was Settra as a Stormcast... BUT GW's higher-ups told David he could not bring Settra back as Settrus, so they tried to sweep this whole misstep under a rug by perma-killing Settrus, but not before Man-child von Carstein made fun of him, saying he would be already dead if Settrus was really Settra. In order to stop the world's bitchiest Mortarch from looting a Stormvault for some edgy named weapon, Settrus overloaded the Penumbral Engine that concealed the vault, which in turn consumed him. Hamilcar himself stated that he felt in his gut he was truly gone as not even Grugni would have managed to extract what fragments may remain from the orrery. Of course, Hamilcar is frequently wrong/hyperbolic, so who knows if Settrus will return - unlikely, for now. Farewell Settrus, whoever you were.
GUESS WHO'S BACK! (The Old World)
In The Old World Settra will return, alongside just about everyone else.
Because you can't keep a good undead down (GW made this, by the way).
On the Tabletop
Settra has had a model since the days Tomb Kings and Vampire Counts were just Warhammer: Undead, which looked like he was pulled from the Boris Karloff mummy movies. In gameplay, his only notable features were being slow (footslogging like a Dwarf with movement 3 and a lower initiative), Toughness 6 and Settra carried the Flail of Skulls as his weapon instead of the Blessed Blade of Ptra (guess which Ancient Egyptian god he's based on; subtlety, what's that?)
He got a new model when Tomb Kings became their own army, and it's absolutely MAGNIFICENT. From his pose to the details on the chariot, he epitomizes the look of the army and if you are trying to proxy something else as him you should be prepared for other Tomb Kings players to remove your head and use your still-living skull as artillery to fire at Games Workshop headquarters after updates. He's fairly expensive point-wise, but unlike most named Lords is actually worth considering outside large-scale games (to the point that, along with Khalida, he is actually the only other truly competitively viable choice when named characters are allowed). Between 4th and 8th Edition Settra got a huge boost in rules (including terror, ward saves, an ASF sword that blinded people and arguably his best item; The Chestplate of Golden Magnificence that gave him a 2+ Armour Save which couldn't be reduced to worse than a 4+ even if hit by attacks that ignore armour saves). This is also where he gained his chariot, a super pimped out one called the Chariot of the Gods.
In the latest edition, going by his profile Settra's also the strongest man in the Warhammer World; he has a basic strength of 6. That's right 6, meaning he could beat a Chaos Lord or an Ogre Tyrant in an arm-wrestling match! He can be fielded without his chariot (which can now burn things with magical fire when it hits or runs over them), but he becomes less effective as he's somewhat fragile without the bonuses from it.
Besides that however, the best fluff and crunch army for him is a full chariot charge anyways with him at the front. Screaming Skull Catapults are also advised, as they are Settra's main method of dealing with uppity
boneheads Tomb Kings who think they don't have to salute when he passes or jump when he commands.
Total War: Warhammer II
In Total War Warhammer II, the Tomb Kings have returned as DLC, though appear on both campaigns whether you buy it or not. Even better, Settra returned with his shiny chariot of the gods. He is the Tomb Kings faction leader who this time planning to put the kibosh on Nagash's return. Rather than bother with the Vortex, he's hunting the Nine Books of Nagash. Several quotes in-game reflect the fact that he DOES NOT SERVE.
In a hilarious turn of events, and a deviation from the game's lore, if the Tomb King's win it's revealed that the priest who narrates to the player is Thutep, Nagash's younger brother. After being sealed into a tomb to die (and appearing as a ghost to tell off Nagash), Thutep gets his body back and somehow becomes a Lich Priest. The funny part is that in this scenario, the Black Pyramid is under Settra's control, who puts it under Thutep's control, once again putting Nagash under his brother.
"Good morning. In less than an hour, Entombed Necropolis Knights from here will join others from around Nehekhara. And you will be launching the largest ground battle in the history of the Old World. Tomb Kings. Those words should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests.
Perhaps it's fate that today is my birthday, as it is every day, and you will once again be fighting for my crown, not from tyranny, oppression, or that bastard Phar, but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to unlive, to exist. And should we win the day, my birthday will no longer be known as a Nehekharan holiday, but as the day when the master race declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to unlive on! We're going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Imperishable Day!"
|The Tomb Kings of Warhammer Fantasy|
|Characters:||Settra the Imperishable - Queen Khalida - Arkhan the Black - Nagash|
|Appearances:||Blood Bowl - Dreadfleet - Mordheim - Warhammer Fantasy Battle|