The Old World is a large landmass, divided politically into several human nations. Its dominant inhabitants are humans, whose common heritage distinguishes the Old World as a distinct civilisation and continent. It is bounded to the north, west, and south by the Great Ocean. Its eastern borders are delineated by the Worlds Edge Mountains.
Much of the land is an untamed wilderness, the forests giving way to large expanses of marsh and swamp in the lowlands, and heath and moorlands in the highlands.
The Old World has a temperate climate, although it varies over the wide expanse, from cool temperate in the northern coasts, to warm temperate in the western and southern coasts.
Among the major states of the Old World are the Empire, Bretonnia and Kislev. To the south are the kingdoms of Estalia and the city-states of Tilea, both of which lack a central authority and government, as does the anarchic collection of petty kingdoms known as the Border Princes, at the southeastern frontiers of the Old World.
The Old World is also home to a number of non-humans, such as the Dwarfs, and the Wood Elves living in the Forest of Loren. Within the boundaries of the Empire is the Halfling-administered area of the Moot.
The Empire has stood for over 2500 years as the most powerful nation of men in the Old World. Possessing black powder technology while more antiquated weapons are still more common and the norm. The Empire was founded by Sigmar Heldenhammer from a collection of warring tribes inhabiting the region that is now the Empire. Sigmar was of the Unberogen tribe who inhabited what is now Reikland, and he is now the patron deity of the Empire. The territories of the other tribes now exist as the Empire's various other states such as Ostland and Talabecland. The Empire is led by an Emperor, though he is elected from and by the ranks of the Elector Counts, rulers of each individual state. Though it has gone through various periods of fragmentation, it was reunited two centuries ago into the strong power it now is by Emperor Magnus the Pious. Most dates in Warhammer are measured with the Imperial Calendar, IC. Though the other factions would surely use their own systems, this serves to simplify things. The current Emperor is Karl Franz.
Bretonnia is a large feudal Kingdom. It was formed from a collection of warring realms by Gilles le Breton at the bidding of the Lady of the Lake, who would later become the patron deity of Bretonnia. Bretonnia is probably the second most powerful nation in the Old World after the Empire and has a strict class system where the upper class abide by (supposed) principles of chivalry and are rich and educated. The lower class makes up the majority of the population, and is made up of oppressed peasants. Bretonnians eschew Black Powder weaponry in favour of more traditional mounted combat using knights and footmen/archers as support. They are renowned for having the greatest knights in the world, with the superhuman Grail Knights being considere the ultimate human warrior.
Kislev is known for its freezing temperatures and is the northernmost nation of the Old World. Kislev is ruled by the Tzar and the Ice Queen and bears the brunt of most Chaos invasions. Erengrad, Kislev (the capital) and Praag are the three largest cities in Kislev, with Erengrad and Praag both being situated on the river Lynsk, Kislev's largest river. Kislev was founded around 1000 years after the Empire by Gospodar and Ungol tribes. Its main god is Ursun, the father of Bears, at least in the Gospodar influenced south. In the nomadic north, the Ungol tribes keep the worship of Dazh and Tor alive, as well as the veneration of minor spirits.
Tilea is divided up into various rival city states, the largest of which are Remas, Trantio, Miragliano, Luccini and Verezzo. Tileans are known as extremely skilled traders and are able to swindle anyone but the cunning Arabyans into a bad bargain, and to take great offence at having their personage or accent mistaken as coming from Estalia. Most warfare in Tilea is conducted through the hiring of mercenaries.
Estalia is also divided up into various rival city-states such as Magritta and Tobaro. Estalians take great offence at being mistaken for Tileans and vice versa despite the similarities of their native languages. Estalian steel is famed throughout the Old World for its quality, and Estalia was famously invaded by a Sultan of Araby, which served as the inciting incident for the Crusades. The resulting Crusade involved soldiers from as far away as The Empire and Bretonnia.
The Border Princes, also known as the Borderlands, are a loose collection of city-states and small feudal pricipalities in the far south of the Old World. The Borderlands essentially serve as the frontier of the Old World and are regularly attacked by Greenskins, Beastmen and other marauding forces. Many of the mercenaries commonly called the Dogs of War in the Empire come from here.
Marienburg and the Wasteland
Marienburg is a bustling city state in The Wasteland that seceded from The Empire some time ago. Marienburg is one of the largest cities in the Old World and flourishes on trade from the Great Ocean and the Sea of Claws, and trade on the River Reik which runs south to Nuln and Altdorf.
Athel Loren is a magical forest comprised of ancient, sentient trees in the southeast of Bretonnia, and is inhabited by the Wood Elves, or Asrai, as they like to call themselves. The Wood Elves have inhabited the area since the main body of High Elves was driven out almost 5000 years ago after the War of the Beard, a titanic conflict with the Dwarfs, and have become deeply bonded to the forest. While isolated colonies of Wood Elves exist elsewhere, Athel Loren is their homeland.
Sartosa is a small island off the south coast of Tilea. Sartosa is ruled by a pirate-king who has created the kingdom as a haven for pirates and other criminals. The pirates often raid coastal settlements, but have also been known to defend them.
The Old World was colonised six millennia ago by the High Elves during the Golden Age of the High Elves. Over four thousand years ago, a devastating war known as the War of the Beard occurred between the Elves and the Dwarfs. Eventually the Elves withdrew to Ulthuan, leaving a few Wood Elf settlements in the depths of the Old World forests.
Humans first settled the Old World over three millennia ago, as human nomadic tribes migrated from the south. Only following the Human-Dwarf alliance under Sigmar Heldenhammer which drove the Orc and Goblin races beyond the borders of the Old World were the tribal humans able to establish the foundations of the current nations of the Old World. Over the next five hundred years human civilisation advanced rapidly.
Linguistic differences are a part of the cultural differences distinguishing the countries of the Old World, although most of the human languages of the Old World belong to a group of closely related tongues called Old Worlder.
The majority of the human population worships a common pantheon of gods and goddesses. Some of these are national deities like Sigmar in the Empire, or the Lady of the Lake in Bretonnia, while others are worshipped throughout the continent.
Notes & Sources
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 1st edition