Vampire Counts (Faction)
The Vampire Counts are amongst the most legendary faction of Vampires to have ever terrorized the civilized lands of the Old World, all of whom are known to be the bearer of the unholy blood of the Von Carstein bloodline. From the Imperial government and the patriotic citizenry of the Empire of Man, the Vampire Counts are considered by many to be fiends without equal. They seek only to topple the civilizations of the living and supplant them with an Undead Empire that shall reign forever as Lords of the Night. The Vampire Counts are powerful necromancers as well as warriors, given supernatural enhancements to their strength, cunning, beauty and ambition. However, these Vampires, for all their power and cunning, are ultimately base, selfish creatures driven by the same motivations of the mortals they deem themselves superior to. They are remorseless in their advance, killing without thought of mercy or compassion, and whose motive is entirely bent on ones own selfish desire.
Indeed, the entire structure of the Vampire Counts are built by the selfish desires of the individual, whether it be for the pettiness of greed, glory, beauty or power. To the Vampire Counts, they simply want it all, for they consider themselves above the living, and would stop at nothing to delude themselves about their cursed and lonely existence. For all of their refinement, in the honest truth, these Vampires are nothing but rotting corpses held together by Dark Magic and the horrific consumption of mortal blood.
From their powerbase within the former Imperial province of Sylvania, the descendants of the Von Carstein bloodline have vied time and again to topple the authority of the Empire of Man. Since the time of Vlad von Carstein, it is the sole purpose of the Von Carstein family to inherit the Empire as their own, using attempts of legitimacy, assassination and outright invasion to achieve such ambitions. Yet time and again they've been pushed back towards Sylvania and hunted ceaselessly for their horrific origins. Yet no matter how many Von Carsteins fall, there always seems to be another willing to take its place, disturbing the graves of the dead and plotting to finally plunge the Empire into their cruel tyranny.
The Vampires of the Old World claim dominion over the mortal remains of all earthly creatures. To die is to surrender oneself to their power. The generals of the Empire claim that the night is always darkest before the dawn; but the Warrior Priests of Sigmar preach that there is hope yet. But they know little of the games immortals play. Patient, cunning, devious, the Vampires work to conquer the lands of the living with ancient and corrupted sorcery. Should they succeed in their dread goals, the rays of the sun shall be forever suffocated by the night, and the age of men will be replaced by an age of undeath. The world will be transformed into a ghastly necropolis of mindless and unliving slaves, ruled over by the iron will of the Vampire Counts.
The warriors that mostly comprise the armies of the Vampire Counts are known throughout both history and legend as those of the unliving brought about by the use of Necromancy. Most if not all Vampires have a certain affinity with Necromancy, a unique form of sorcery that deprives from the use of the Black Arts, also known Dhar, or Dark Magic. Necromany is in itself a direct contradiction to the Winds of Shyish, where while Shyish follows and embrace the certainty of death, the use of Necromancy is meant to evade or strive to prevent it.
Necromancy is thus a key element within the Vampire Counts armies. When a Vampire Lord wishes to bring war upon the Empire or against other enemy factions, they would often raise the dead of Sylvania from their graves with either their own sorcerous abilities or from their personal coven of Necromancers. These powerful individuals are what keeps the Undead army together, for without them, the dark magic that controls and holds these walking corpses together would soon dissipate, often crumbling into simple scraps of rusted armor or broken bones.
The bulk of the Vampire Counts armies consist almost entirely of raised Zombies or armored Skeletal Warriors. These unliving abominations have not a single flicker of sentience within them, and can not operate independently without a Necromancer or Sorceror to guide them. Although mindless, these Undead are nonetheless also fairly resilient to many other factors that might hinder other living armies. Such advantages includes not being hindered by the need for food, sleep or the touch of the cruel elements, as well as having the inability to feel fear, for they lack the sentience to feel such complex emotions.
Other then the raised dead, however, the Vampire Counts have also made extensive use of horrible creatures and grotesque abominations that have taken residence within the lands of Sylvania. These creatures come in all grotesque shapes and sizes, from the towering Ghoul Kings to the flying horrors of the Varghiests. Through the use of dark magic, these creatures are bound to the will of a particularly powerful Necromancer. Due to these creatures having extremely low intellect, they are often as mindless in their advance as any unliving creature, with the only sole motivation in their mind being the consumption of human flesh.
Other times they've even binded the souls of spirits into their service. While such property belongs to the Death God respectively, the Necromancer does not fear the punishments of his actions and would lure these restless souls into his army by means of a ritual involving Dark Magic. From the wailing Banshees to the ethereal Hexwraiths, these lost Souls have lost their will of control, and are forced to do the bidding of their hated master.
When engaged in battle, the ability for the Vampire to both directly manipulate and control his warriors proved pivotal to their success on the battlefield.With an almost methodological planning, these Undead Warriors would rally into neatly formed ranks and would endure almost anything thrown against them. With the ability to resurrect the fallen almost at a whim, the tactics employed by the Vampire Counts consist almost entirely on the use of attrition warfare. As the Undead ranks absorb the enemy attack, their ranks would be continuously bolstered by freshly resurrected warriors from their own warriors and those of the enemies. Eventually, the dead would so outnumber the living that victory is almost inevitably ensured. However, here in lies the single greatest weakness that comes to all their kind, for should the powerful Necromancer that control the army dies, so too will the entire army crumble into ruins.
Zombies - Zombies are corpses raised by a Necromancer to be used against the enemy as basic infantry. The armaments of these unliving are extremely diverse, for any who have died on the field of battle are instantly amongst their ranks. Some might have been recently slain Imperial troopers with magnificent weapons and armor, while others may consist of simple peasants with rusted pitchforks and kitchen knifes. Whatever their origins, these unliving are still used extensively by the Vampire Counts.
Skeleton Warriors - Skeletons form the mainstay of the Vampire Counts' armies, and unlike Zombies, have the ability to go head-to-head against other enemy infantry. These skeletons are warriors raised from times long ago, having been slain in combat and buried with both their weapons and armor still intact. Although these warriors bear rusted swords and rotting wooden shields, Skeletons still have a flicker of light within their sockets that indicates their spirits still linger within them, whose souls still remain trapped within the material realm.
Crypt Ghouls - Crypt Ghouls, or simply just Ghouls, are malformed humans who have devolved themselves into a primitive existence due to the horrible consumption of dead flesh. Unlike the Undead, these still living creatures do not engage their enemy head-on and would rather attack from the shadows where they could use their adept hunting instincts and their poisonous claws to great effect.
Crypt Horrors - Crypt Horrors are a larger form of Ghouls that have managed to consume the blood of a Vampire, granting the beast incredible size and physical strength. With these benefits, these Crypt Horrors are used extensively by the Vampire Counts as a form of heavy shock infantry, able to burst through the ranks of the enemy and endure great punishment.
Grave Guards - Grave Guards are, unlike mere Skeleton Warriors, heroes and powerful warriors from a long and ancient past. Equipped with some of the finest weapons and armor of their age, these Undead still have the combat abilities of their former lives still within them, allowing them to become a formidable corps of warriors, their enchanted blades cutting down the toughest of enemies.
Cairn Wraiths - Cairn Wraiths are amongst the most powerful of the Undead. Though they lack physical form, their touch drains the life of a mortal. Their very presence fills the air with dread, and most who face them are driven mad with fear long before they are killed. Filled with rage, these vengeful spirits fall upon their enemies, tearing them apart with great sweeps of their ancient, magical scythes. In return, those who do stand against them find their pitiful attacks merely pass straight through the Cairn Wraith, making contact with nothing but foul air and tattered robes. It doesn't take long for the Wraiths to punish them for their insolence.
Spirit Hosts - Spirit Host are those tormented spirits of Humans who were not given rest from their graves, and were forcibly summoned by Necromancers or Vampires to do their bidding. On the field of battle, these vengeful apparitions cluster together into hosts that drift slowly towards their warm-blooded victims with a terrible inevitability. Even a cannonball strike will not damage a Spirit Host, for they exist only partially in this world. However, their twilight state does not render these spirits harmless. They can claw at a mortal’s flesh with long, taloned hands, stopping the victim’s beating heart with nothing more than a touch.
Vargheists - Vargheists are the darkness in a Vampire's soul made manifest after consuming a horrid amount of Warpstone taint. They are towering winged humanoids, each several times the size of a man. Though the Vargheists were once noble Vampires, they have since devolved into ravening predators desperate for the taste of blood.
Varghulfs - Varghulfs are those devolved Vampires that have given themselves up to their primal urges, and willingly transform themselves into monsters that are far stronger then any typical Vampire, but at the price of the creature's former thoughts and personality.
Black Knights - Black Knights come from a time many centuries ago, when barbarian tribes roamed what is now the Empire. Upon their death they were buried with their most prized possessions - their blade, their armour, and their steed. However, without the blessing of Morr, these corpses are susceptible to the corrupting influence of a Necromancer. Many centuries afterwards, it is common for Necromancers to raise these unblessed corpses from the grave to do their bidding as the most elite warriors.
Blood Knights - Blood Knights were once an honorable brotherhood of Imperial Knights that protected the lands just west of the Imperial province of Wissenland. However, after their horrific transformation into Vampries, these once noble Knights have since become the bearers of the unholy blood of the Blood Dragon bloodline. Their once shining armour is now encrusted with the blood and gore of countless battles, their monstrous steeds ragged and ruined from years of warfare, yet held together by potent necromantic spells. The Blood Knights are nigh indestructible and their thirst for blood makes them ferocious and implacable.
Hexwraiths - Hexwraiths are born in the very depths of the Underworld, their only goal in the afterlife is to hunt down those evil men who have cheated death. Tearing from the Underworld and into the material world, these Hexwraiths ride from one end of the Old World to another in order to hunt down those that would defy the Death Gods wishes, whether it would be amateur Necromancers or powerful Vampires. Ironically, however, these spirits would often be lured and trapped by the bindings of a Necromancer, and forced to do their bidding.
Vampire Lords - Vampire Lords are amongst the most powerful Vampires within a Vampiric bloodline. To be a Vampire Lord is to obtain a position from which lesser Vampires perished, for within Vampiric hierarchy, it is well known that only the most strongest individual among their numbers are given the right to rule over others of their kind.[1h]
Master Necromancers - Master Necromancers are those few individuals whom have dedicated their entire existence to the learning and practicing of Necromancy and Dark Magic. Extending their lifespan beyond their mortal limits, these evil men are truly powerful Sorcerers who have the ability to conjure up an entire army of Undead all by themselves. Ancient and malevolent beings, these Necromancers have since lost all touch with their former humanity.
Strigoi Ghoul Kings - Strigoi Ghoul Kings were once proud and mighty Vampires of the Strigoi bloodline that have since been shunned and hunted down by other Vampiric bloodlines and forced into a state of troglodytic existence. Large and highly grotesque monstrosities, these Strigoi are no less fearsome in combat than any other Vampire, for they still retain the ability to raise Undead armies of their own and match the skills of even a Vampire Lord in combat.
Vampire Counts - Vampires are incredibly powerful Undead creatures. Unlike most of the Undead, Vampires retain all of their intelligence and will, and hence all of their ambition and desire. This makes them very dangerous indeed, for they can continue to grow and learn, spending eternity perfecting their skills and honing their plans and schemes. Vampires serves as the lieutenants of an Undead army, whose combat prowess and adequate skills in Necromancy can help determine the outcome of a battle.
Necromancers - Necromancers are widely regarded as twisted and corrupt individuals who are obsessed with death and the avoidance of it at all costs. They are used by those magically inept Vampires to animate the broken corpses of their servants and return them to battle. To learn such dark magic, these desperate men will seek out a Necromancer or a Vampire to teach them, though this task is not without its own dangers and many aspirants have found themselves dying a grim death at the hands of their would-be tutor. Those that do survive invariably become powerful spell-casters, though their sanity is forever broken by the horrors they have witnessed.
Wight Kings - Wight Kings were once ancient and immensely powerful Human Warlords that have once occupied the lands of present day Sylvania in the days before the founding of the Empire of Man. When imbued with Dark Magic, these ancient warlords rise from their crypts as Wight Kings, eyes glowing with unnatural life. The merest touch of their blade can drain the life from their foes, or slice through flesh and bone with effortless ease. Clad in heavy armour, their bodies are virtually invulnerable to damage, making them a common choice amongst many Undead factions as front-line field commanders.
Tomb Banshees - Tomb Banshees are those many sorceresses, enchantresses and witches who have plagued the Warhammer world over the centuries who have since died in a horrific and unfulfilling way. The bitterest, most restless spirits of these evil-hearted women become Tomb Banshees. They constantly howl in remembrance of the pleasures of life that were theirs, and in loathing for the peace of the grave that they cannot attain.
Dire Wolves - Dire Wolves are the arisen corpses of Giants Wolves that were brought back to serve the will of a Necromancer. Like in their former life, these Dire Wolves serve as horrific pack animals that hunt the enemies of his master like the hounds of the living.[1q]
Fell Bats - Fell Bats are amongst one of the largest variant of bats living within the Old World, so large that their wingspan can grow to the height of a tall man, and whose numbers can literally devour the inhabitants of an entire village.
Terrorgheists - Terrorghest are the largest and most powerful bat species ever to have existed, so large and terrifying that they grow to the size of Dragons. These monstrous bats are rare yet extremely dangerous, so much so that they have become a favored mount for many Vampiric bloodlines, the most prominent of which are the Strigoi.
Zombie Dragons - Zombie Dragons are the remains of long-dead Dragons that were arisen from their resting place within the Plain of Bones by powerful Dark Magic. Used extensively by many Necromancers and Vampires, these Dragons have lost all of their former thoughts and personality, and are nothing but a hollow husk given life and purpose by its new Undead master.
Abyssal Terrors - Abyssal Terrors are massive chaos-corrupted creatures that were given life and form by the horrific infusion of many different body parts from a variety of different monsters and chaos-tainted creatures. Once created, these monstrosities are often used to bear its Undead master in battle.
Corpse Carts - Corpse Carts are large rotting carts that are used to attract a large influx of Dark Magic from the surronding land. When Dark Magic becomes thick within the air, the Corpse Cart are used to send shockwaves of Dark Magic that would ripple across the battlefield, allowing the recently slain to be drawn back together and once more fight at their side.
Black Coaches - Black Coaches are, as their suggest, coaches that are painted jet-black and driven by the servants of the Undead. Driven forward by a pair of Nightmares and a scythe-wielding Wraith, these coaches serves as a way of transporting a Vampire anywhere he wishes, protecting him from the baneful sun and plowing through those opposition that would dare to stand in his way.
Coven Thrones - The Coven Throne is a huge and unessearily decorative throne whose purpose is to borne afloat a Vampire Lord across the battlefield, borne aloft by the departed spirits of those slain by the Vampire. Ghostly, and occasionally armoured tendrils stretch upward at the buttom of the throne, at the head of which are skeletal riders on armoured horses. At the centre, it features the seductive Vampire and her handmaidens looming over a cauldron of blood.
Mortis Engines - Mortis Engines are large horrific reliquary's that are borne afloat by a host of spirits and used by many Undead factions as a way to help bolster the combat abilities of those Undead that are close by as well as to suck the courage and life essence of the opposing army.