Men of the Empire
The Empire is the preeminent realm in the Old World, a wealthy nation with powerful armies, inhabited by a dynamic race of men who hold the fate of civilisation in their hands.
There is no such thing as the typical Empire citizen. The people of the northern forests and icy coasts are tall and strong, with fierce eyes and blond hair, the men sporting bushy beards. A belligerent folk, they honour Ulric, god of battle. Those from the cold, eastern borderlands are shorter and darker, the men growing luxuriant moustaches. They wear heavy furs and are renowned for their love of strong drink and their dour temperament. The inhabitants of the Great Forest that dominates the centre of the Empire prefer unhurried lieves devoted to Taal, god of nature, while those of the sunny, open plains of the south dress in the bright colours and are known for their lively disposition and tall tales.
Men are not as long-lived as the elder races of dwarfs and elves, but their mortality drives them to stamp their mark on the world. The folk of the Empire are renowned for their endless creativity, and are instiable adventurers. Imperial engineers strive to improve upon the clockwork and steam-powered technologies borrowed from the dwarfs, and explorers traverse exotic lands across the ocean. A few men women have recently begun to master the dangerous art of magic, introduced by the high elves to help humankind defend itself against the warped sorceries and armies of Chaos.
The history of the Empire began more than two millennia ago when a young chieftan named Sigmar was crowned first emperor following his defeat of a massive army of green-skinned orcs and goblins. He unified twelve tribes of men under his rule, and forged an alliance with the dwarfs which has survived the test of time. When his reign ended, he was deified as protector of the Empire, and each successive Emperor has ruled in his shadow. The warhammer he wields symbolises the Empire’s defiance against the many enemies which surround it.
The Empire has survived plagues, civil war, greenskin invasions from the mountains, and legions of undead risen from the cursed domains of the Vampire Counts. Its most terrible enemies are the followers of the Chaos gods: bloodthirsty barbarians marauding from the northern wastes, wild beastmen raiding from the forests, and corrumpt minions undermining the Empire from within. The Empire’s strength lies not only in its economic and military prowess, but in the faith and determination of its citizens. One of its greatest moments was during the great War Against Chaos, fought a mere two centuries ago, when mankind followed the banner of Magnus the Pious to victory against teh almost insurmountable forces of Chaos.
The current emeror is Karl Franz, who rules from Altdorf, capital of the Reikland. A great statesman and patron of religion and science, he is also a renowned battle leader. His land has enjoyed relative peace during his reign, but once again its enemies gather their might. The Empire’s armies heroically defend the borders, but the Empire’s greatest foe has always been the enemy within – not only are the provinces fractious and distrustful, but subtle agents of Chaos move within society, plotting the downfall of law and order. Only the Emperor has the power to maintain unity, and despite its power, the Empire is only one dagger-thrust away from anarchy.
Forest-swathed Reikland in the southwest of the Empire is its foremost province. Reiklanders tend to be richer, better educated, and more urbane than other provincials, and the province’s merchants vie with the nobility for power. Reikland’s inhabitants truly believe that Sigmar favours them as the true heirs of the Empire.
Reiklanders are renowned for their flamboyant nature and eagerness to impress. The men’s clothes are slashed in military style, and their floppy hats are festooned with feathers, while the women dress in equally extravagant fashions. Despite appearances, Reiklanders are hard workers and brave fighters when duty calls. Their success is due to their natural ability to adapt to any situation.
The city of Altdorf attracts visitors from all over the Known World: and Reiklanders are a cosmopolitan people, rubbing shoulders with foreigners, dwarfs, and elves. They are more open-minded than other Empire folk, and because Altdorf is home to the Colleges of Magic, they are lightly more tolerant of magical activities which would have unsophisticated provincials reaching for their pitchforks and torches – outside the Reikland, even sanctioned magic is tantamount to Chaos sorcery to many.