Thursday, 28 September 2017


The city of Götterdämmerung in the Realm of Ulgu has more than its share of dangers. Those who live out their lives within its walls enjoy more security than those without, providing they know how to ward their homes against the dead and daemonic, stay out of certain neighborhoods, and are careful not to anger the alchemist who lives next door. Of course, every day pallid bards spin tales about those unfortunates who made that one mistake every living thing is supposed to be allowed and wound up on a slab in the city morgue. If they are lucky, the coroner won’t turn out to be a closet necromancer who’d have them shambling around, preying on the living, until the city watchmen get around to brutally putting them to rest once and for all. If they are unlucky, their relatives saved a few coins by slapping them in the ground at a poorly guarded cemetery, where they’d stay until a resurrectionist dug them up for parts or auction the body to the highest (and often the most unsavoury) bidder….and this was all before the coming of the braying hordes of the ruinous powers.

Within a day, everything changed. It started with long-hidden cults, worshipping both the long-forgotten gods of Order and Chaos, tearing at each other in the streets of the city. Next thing you knew, you couldn’t throw a dead cultist without hitting a minor civil war in progress. But it wasn’t a war for territory — no, this was a fight for the very souls of the populous. Before long, the howling armies of Chaos were battering against the city walls. That wasn’t the worst of it. Mortals didn’t fight this war alone. Dark things that legends spoke of only in hushed whispers could be seen from the battlements, a soldier might find his comrade suddenly possessed whilst in combat and aberrant creatures of pure nightmare ambulated over the hills on a multitude of twisted limbs. The ruling guilds, fearing the worst, fled through the realmgate in the centre of the city before it fell silent, leaving the rest of Gotterdammerung to their fates and without leadership.

As swiftly as it began, it was over. There was no winner and it is likely the battle simply moved on to another field, somewhere else, but given that one moment the siege raged on all around them and then the enemy seemingly disappeared the next, the populous were given to believe the (now popular) myth that the shadows of Ulgu simply devoured them. Whilst some of the city lay in ruins, Gotterdammerung had largely weathered the ferocious storm but was forever changed. Those non-mortal entities who survived faded into the shadowed alleyways of the city, maybe waiting for the day when the ruinous powers were in ascendant again. With the loss of the ruling guilds, the remaining senior officers gathered an ad hoc martial council, imposing strict curfews and began the laborious task of rebuilding the shattered quarters of the city.

The biggest change was in the shadow-wolds beyond the city walls. The flora and fauna that had always thrived there increased in number during the war and with the corrupting influence of the chaotic hordes became something altogether more dangerous. With the standing militia of Gotterdammerung refusing to leave the city walls to keep them in check anymore, those who do venture out of the city — by choice or misfortune — face the perils at their own risk. Even before the coming of Chaos, navigable roads were few and far between as much of the shadow-wolds could not be charted due to the constantly shifting landscape. It doesn’t help either that the wilderness beyond the city walls (as does Gotterdammerung itself) exists in a perpetual twilight, choked by thick fog which appears to be more shadow than mist. More than a few travellers have found themselves arriving at their destinations far sooner than they’d planned, having wandered through an umbral-cantrip, or never arriving at all, doomed to an eternity of wandering adrift upon unfamiliar tracts. All that most of the populous can hope is to hide in the relative safety of the city and hope its fortifications are strong enough to keep the creatures out. As the years rolled on, some people liked to pretend that the unnatural, the cursed, and the damned don’t really exist. That they were exaggerations of history or the products of hysteria. But the truth is that things other than human have always been a part of Gotterdammerung, only more visible at certain times than others.

Gotterdammerung is now more isolated than before and the populous are forced to become self-sufficient or starve. Massive allotments were tilled around the city on the grounds of buildings that were razed during the war. Similarly, gargantuan abattoirs were constructed to both breed and slaughter livestock. Anyone caught poaching or tampering with either of these receives an automatic sentence of death.

However, after centuries of interminable silence, the city’s realmgate suddenly reactivated and from it strode forth giants in shining armour haloed in a blue-white light. They weren’t welcomed with awe but rather deep suspicion and the Martial Court of Gotterdammerung were largely disinterested in a return to the worship of Sigmar (indeed, even today, Stormcast are a rare sight on the streets of Gotterdammerung). The traders that followed were perhaps more accepted if not, at least, appreciated and these days Gotterdammerung relies heavily on the trade that comes through the realmgate. Indeed, such is the greed of the city now after so long under the sufferance of relative poverty that rarely is anyone turned away; all are neither welcome nor unwelcome in Gotterdammerung, regardless of their racial characteristics or backgrounds (real or falsified), but all are carefully surveilled by the city watchmen and the paranoid inhabitants.

Today, Gotterdammerung’s inhabitants can be divided into three broad categories: those who can pass for human, those who can’t, and those of the shadow-wolds beyond the city wall. The first broadly covers aelves, duardin and anything else that looks near-Human (or can make itself look that way). Even soulblight vampires and necromancers (often fleeing from the despotic regime of Nagash in Shyish to the only other realm they can survive permanently in). These find it easiest to coexist with humans in the city, can move about with a degree of freedom and, in some places, have gained a measure of acceptance. This won’t save them from being hunted down by the city watch (or the dreaded Judexi of Sigmar) though, if enough deaths are traced to their door or they flagrantly break any one of Gotterdammerung’s many (and sometimes bizarre) laws.

The second group are those who, usually because of how they look, stand out in a crowd. Prejudice and fear (most of it justified) keeps them in the shadows - should they care. While some aren’t completely inhuman, such as Orruks (and other Greenskins), Sylvaneth and Ogors, they’re often considered to be entirely uncivilised and prone to unpredictable behaviour which makes them dangerous neighbours. Their natures make them often appear utterly outlandish to the normally distrusting residents (although most cannot tell the differences between a Dryad and a Daemon) and have come to be regarded in most districts of Gotterdammerung as undesirables. Perhaps the most dangerous are those grotesque creatures that have either never been mortal or are simply too freakish to be believed to exist (who hasn’t heard the lunatic tales of rats the size of men?), that skulk and stalk in the darkest corners of the city.

Despite the efforts of the city watch it is rarely peaceful on darkened streets of the city, and any sense of security is tenable at best. Cults of all kinds are on the rise again, doomsayers cry of grim omens, the lunatic and demented grow in number daily, the dead rarely remain where they’re left, skirmishes and riots breakout on regular occasions and denizens who have long survived in the shadows are drawn out by the smell of spilt blood. The Martial Court try to keep the lid on as the body count goes up but now, more than ever, those who can handle a blade or bow, incant protective wards, sling fireballs from thin air or simply pound an enemy into gristle with their bare hands are in demand. The Martial Court, city watch, and innumerable businesses are all hiring skilled freelancers to take on jobs that need doing. For somebody who knows their way around a fight or a grimoire, the only thing easier to find than employment these days is a quick death….

But as the common proverb in Gotterdammerung goes; the shadows consume all without distinction.

For those of you who have been playing pen and paper RPG's for a while may notice that some of my inspiration for Gotterdammerung has come from a very old RPG done by West End Games called Bloodshadows. I didn't want to make a carbon copy of Mordheim, but rather something equally bleak yet with a little more frenzied life in it.

Recently, whilst browsing through my local charity bookshop, I found a simply delicious artbook for a 2015 Playstation game called Bloodborne (at a very cheap price) which instantly got the imagination ablaze. The pictures I've included here are ones I've managed to find from the internet, but I do urge you to look for the book yourself; its full of rich concept work - perfectly fertile ground for conversions.

Gotterdammerung is pretty much still in draft right now, but please let me know what you think.
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