Nehekhara: The Land of the Dead

The ancient empire of Nehekhara was mankind's first civilization. Its people were highly cultured and sophisticated and its ships sailed to distant lands long before the Old World nations came into existence. Their rulers governed great cities and prosperity was enjoyed by all. But the King of the greatest city, Settra of Khemri, desired immortality and had the priesthood toil for centuries to discover the secret. In time huge buildings, called pyramids, were built to entomb the dead so that one day they would awake in paradise. The obsession with death drove Nehekhara to extremes so that the necropoli of the dead were greater than the cities of the living. At last, however, the Usurper, Nagash, later the Great Necromancer, seized the throne of Khemri and his tyrannical rule caused rebellion. He fled and plotted terrible revenge over many years. With black sorcery he caused the destruction of Nehekhara and his magic caused the dead of that once proud realm to awake. Yet the dead did not heed his commands, as they hated him, and instead the Tomb Kings sought to rebuild their shattered lands: the Land of the Dead.


There was a time when the desolate, arid place, now known as the Land of the Dead by some, used to be one of the greatest civilizations that had ever been. It was the first true kingdom of mankind. Its kings were worshipped as gods. Its ships sailed the seas long before Marienburg was in existence. Its cities were paved with gold and its magnificent monuments to the dead towered into the sky and could be seen for miles around. This was Nehekhara. But its rulers' obsession led to their great civilization's downfall. They were obsessed with the one thing that has plagued mankind since the dawn of time: death.

Nehekhara's greatest city was Khemri and the first ruling dynasty was that of Settra's. He was Khemri's first Priest King (-2500 IC) and he unified Nehekhara so that all the other kings swore fealty and paid tribute to him. Before Settra little is known about Nehekhara although several names of kings have emerged through long years of scholarly toil. Nehek is one such name and it is said that in his time no man lived in cities; then there was Zakash who founded Zandri and it was during his time that it is said that writing was invented; and last, but not least, there was Hekesh who made war on many kings.

Under Settra's governance, Nehekhara entered its golden age: trade flourished as never before and Nehekhara's armies, led by superb generals, were undefeated and destroyed all opposing forces. All the lands from the western desert to the eastern sea were conquered as were the jungles of the Southlands, the southwestern region of the Dark Lands, the Border Princes, and even the southern Old World where Tilea now lies; King Setep even penetrated into the Empire and conquered the lands which would later be known as Sylvania. It was a huge empire the like of which man has never achieved again before or since.

But even though Settra was a great ruler and brought unimaginable wealth to the Nehekharan Empire he was intensely proud and jealous of his achievements. He knew that one day death would finally rob him of his throne, his lands and power, so he founded the Priesthood of Awakening and the Mortuary Cult: an organisation of learned scholarly priests charged with discovering the secret of eternal life. The priests travelled far and wide searching for anything that would help them in their task. Although they did discover the secret of a  prolonged life, the secret of immortality alluded them. They could prolong a life for several centuries but they could not halt decay and eventually the body would wither and die. The priests themselves benefited from their research and many of them were centuries old. Many were also machiavellian types and kept something of what they discovered to themselves.

Even though Settra lived for many, many years, he could cheat death no longer although he was defiant to the last. His priests told him when he was dying that it may be possible in the future to learn the secret of everlasting life with the aid of proper magic. They promised him that at the time of the awakening he would come back immortal with an imperishable body. When he finally died his body was embalmed with much ritual and ceremony over long hours so that his body would be preserved until such a time he would awaken. Then he was entombed beneath the earth under a great pyramid of white stone. Over the following ages and millennia the priests would continue their search for immortality and continued to tend to Settra's pyramid and recite the incantations of old, as well as making sacrifices, so that Settra's spirit would never wither or depart from this world. 

The toiling with dead bodies, and ever more morbid activities, also wrought terrible changes on the priests of the Mortuary Cult. After the fourth generation of priests, the next priests did not die. They became Liche Priests, immortal but withered and rotting. Because the priesthood was so powerful and their work so important they were the few individuals in Nehekhara who could not be executed even though they were foul, morbid creatures. Indeed, the Mortuary Cult now became central to the culture of Nehekhara and its priests were all-powerful second only to the great Priest Kings themselves. When each Priest King died he would also be embalmed and entombed within a pyramid so that one day he would arise in paradise. But this trend was also copied by lesser nobles as they too wanted immortality and they too wanted to be embalmed upon their death and entombed in pyramids. This continued for many years until the abodes of the dead came to rival those of the living in both size and number. Indeed, there were no constructions in Nehekhara to rival the size and stature of the pyramids of the Priest Kings.

Even though at this time Nehekhara enjoyed overwhelming success and prosperity: their armies were unmatched in valour; their fleets of ships brought back much gold and precious stones from far-off lands; and their citizens benefited from the knowledge of learned scholars and teachers. Yet all of this was to be destroyed by one man. While Nehekhara could not be defeated by any army of man it could not foresee the impending danger that would seal the great empire's fate forever.


It was Khemri's High Priest who coveted the throne of Nehekhara, which was held by his brother Arkhan. He also put into motion perhaps the most tragic and dastardly plan that humanity has known. For years Khemri's High Priest began to corrupt the ceremonies and rituals of the Mortuary Cult. Where before the priests held nothing but respect and total obedience for their gods, the rituals by which they entered the temples, which were akin to the homes of the Nehekharan gods, were subtly changed and the embalming procedure, set down by centuries of tradition, was also altered slightly. To the god-fearing Nehekharans this was blasphemy of the highest order. But to the High Priest of Khemri it was all part of a greater plan. Everyone feared him, as everyone did the High Priest of Khemri who commanded almost as much power and dominion as any Priest King.

On one mild night with the moon high in the starlit heavens, the High Priest murdered his brother and entombed him in the Great Pyramid of Khetep. With Ptra, the sun god, beating down his searing hot rays, the High Priest of Khemri was crowned Priest King of Khemri and Nehekhara. All swore fealty and paid tribute to him. All bowed down befor Nagash.

Nagash was full of lust and pride. Anyone who dared oppose him was immediately cast out, tortured in the most heinous way imaginable before being killed. All dissenters were either murdered while they slept or cowed into obedience under pain of death. But it wasn't just the fact that Nagash held the supreme post in the empire that everyone feared him. They feared him more for being a skilled sorcerer. Though he was quite an insane man he had a great capacity for learning, as evidenced by his swift rise in the Mortuary Cult, and obviously had a brilliant mind.

Under Nagash, Nehekhara began to crumble. He ordered a pyramid be built that would eventually become the largest construction ever to be built by man: the Black Pyramid of Nagash. This grand design was not without cost, however. Thousands of slaves from both the locality and those taken as tribute from far-off places paid in blood to build Nagash's pyramid. Gold was brought in from miles around to pay for this construction as well as huge building blocks taken from quarries as far away as the southern World's Edge Mountains. The entire economy was centred around this gargantuan construction and eventually the great cities of Nehekhara began to pay the price for Nagash's vision. Starvation wracked the lands and revolts, brutally suppressed until now, were commonplace not only by the citizens but the armies too. Fearful for their own positions as well as for their own people and lands, the other kings allied together and mustered what would be known as the Army of the Seven Kings to oust Nagash from power.

Although Nagash faced the innumerable host of the Seven Kings, which far outnumbered his own army, he had not been idle during his years as the High Priest of the Mortuary Cult and when the Black Pyramid was being built. He learnt many secrets that were forbidden to the Liche Priests of ages past. He had learned the first steps of necromancy and even daemonology. With this knowledge Nagash was able to summon the first army of the dead. It's chief weapon was fear and when the army of the Seven Kings first beheld them many lost heart and fled but it wasn't enough to save Nagash from defeat. After a brief siege against the Black Pyramid Nagash fled to the north-east. At this time Nagash's necromantic powers weren't powerful enough to overcome such an enemy. 

Nagash left behind two legacies: the first was his Black Pyramid, which was shunned by all, the second was his research into the necromantic and daemonic. The last was his most terrible legacy which would, in time, cause the downfall of a great empire and it would affect many kings and queens to come.

Nehekhara, so it seemed to the victorious and proud Kings bedecked in gold leading a host of golden chariots through their cities amid the rapturous celebrations of their people, was free from the tyrant Nagash. Yet the royal line of Khemri was tarnished by the sorcerer's deeds and the first to fall under Nagash's taint was Lahmia. It's queen was fascinated by the Usurper-King's research until she too was damned after imbibing the elixir of Nagash. She became the first vampire and eventually her secret could not be kept from the kings of the west who descended upon Lahmia in wrath led by the brilliant Alcadizaar the Conqueror. As beneficent a ruler as Alcadizaar was he feared the wrath of the gods if he did not punish Lahmia for their sins so he had the population enslaved and begged Ptra that they might one day be forgiven.

But the Queen of Lahmia escaped the sacking of her city along with several of her vampiric consorts. Nagash was well-pleased with the corruption of the Lahmian nobility and it tickled his vanity that his genius could produce such able generals for his growing army of Undead.

For years his armies attacked the empire of Nehekhara but Alcadizaar was the greatest general of the age and Nagash could not prevail, even with the vampires. Nehekhara grew rich and prosperous again under Alcadizaar and all loved him. This left Nagash bitter and angry and so he decided that no-one should be left alive in Nehekhara. He would use the one weapon that Alcadizaar could not defeat with all his tactical genius: plague and pestilence.


Nagash poisoned the river Vitae making it grow dark and murky; forever more it would be known as the river Mortis. The lands around it, as well as the people who relied so much on the river for food, perished. Pestilence swept through the land taking down every man, woman and child, young or old, rich or poor. No-one was spared the terrible plague of Nagash. When the Necromancer's army finally came to Khemri there was little resistance; most of Alcadizaar's once invincible army was wiped out because of the plague.

Alcadizaar saw his empire crumble before his very eyes. Even his wife, Khalida, wasn't spared and she died in his arms. As Alcadizaar gently laid her lifeless body to rest on the marble floor of his palace the forces of Nagash swept through the defences and took the great king away, clapped in chains, to Nagashizzar: the mighty fortress of Nagash. Once there he was thrown to rot in a dungeon with his once loyal guards assuming the role of his jailer; all of them were brought back from the dead to serve Nagash as mindless automatons and to ridicule the Nehekhara's last king.

With the fall of Nehekhara complete and its last king languishing in his dungeon, Nagash would at last complete his dastardly plan. By now he was the greatest human sorcerer that had ever lived. He had power unimaginable and he truly thought that not even the gods could defeat him. He would cast the spell of Awakening. The colossal energies of this spell caused the very heavens to darken for hundreds of miles around, as if the gods themselves turned away from the world in horror, and the earth itself protested as the land was riven asunder. At the spell's climax every last living creature of Nehekhara died: flesh rotted from bones, as if they had aged a thousand years in an instant, and plants withered and died. The only Nehekharans spared was the last King in Nagash's dungeons and the Liche Priests of the Mortuary Cult who were already dead, though they did not know it, and therefore immune to the pestilence around them.

For all of Nagash's intelligence he could not foresee his impending doom or the hunched backed creatures who had infiltrated his fortress and dungeons and set Alcadizaar free. When Nagash was meditating in his great chamber, resting his body, mind and soul, after the colossal energies released for his spell, Alcadizaar cut the Necromancer down with an enchanted blade. A blade that was given to him by the strange hunched backed creatures that had set him free. It was a blade that would not only be fatal for Nagash but also for the King too. A short while after the slaying of Nagash, Alcadizaar also died and with him the last monarch of Khemri and Nehekhara.


Nagash's spell of awakening coursed through Nehekhara, penetrating the charnel pits of the cities and the necropoli of the dead kings and nobles. The nobles were affected differently to the great mass of shambling bodies who stirred from their millennia long deaths and they were little more than mindless automatons. Because the nobles' bodies were preserved by the embalming rituals of the Liche Priests they still retained all their memories, all their knowledge, all their pride, and all their hate and vengeance. The long dead Priest Kings were horrified with what had happened to their cities and even more horrified with what had become them. Where once they were fair, now they were hideous and rotting. Where once they were proud, now they were gaunt and twisted. Where they were promised paradise after their death, now all they saw was a blasted, desolate wasteland, crumbled and decayed: a land of the dead.

Because there were hundreds of kings war was inevitable as each one wanted to reclaim their lands. There were long battles and thousands of skeleton warriors were destroyed until Khemri's first Priest King awoke from his slumbers. Settra, the first and greatest king of Khemri and Nehekhara, fought the other kings and defeated their armies one by one. It wasn't long before they were cowed into obedience as this most ancient king at last reclaimed his dominions and his crown. But something was wrong. This wasn't paradise and his body was nothing but a rotting husk.

Settra commanded the Liche Priests to tell him why the awakening had gone wrong and why his empire was naught but ruins. The Liche Priests told him of the events of the last one-thousand years, of Nagash's betrayal and his last devastating spell. Settra was incensed and in a furious rage he expelled the assembled Liche Priests, who he believed had lied to him about the awakening, and had them watch over the other kings and awake them when commanded to do so. Settra had everlasting life but it wasn't what he had envisaged and there was much to do. One day he would confront Nagash, whom he hated and despised so much, but for the moment he would work to rebuild and expand his empire.



The Charnel Valley is a wide pass of some hundred miles or so in the southern World's Edge Mountains. It is the only means, save a long and perilous voyage around the Southlands, by which anyone can reach the eastern half of the Land of the Dead. In the days of Nehekhara it used to be known as the Valley of the Kings and attracted pilgrims from all over the empire to pray at the statues and the holy palace of Quatar. Great monoliths of the gods and kings guard the entrance to the valley and are carved into the valley wall for its entire length. The Nehekharans believed that the monoliths would come alive if the gods were angered. Of course they never did actually come alive in those days but today no-one is so sure. The Athiopos nomads say that an evil priest lives in Quatar, Palace of Corpses, and has woven enchantments on the monoliths making them come alive at his command or should the valley be threatened. To them the valley is known as the Valley of the Dead because anyone who goes there is never seen again. They believe that the colossal statues come to life and crush all trespassers.

WFRP: The monoliths are indeed animate! thanks to Sehenesmet, the Grand Vizier of Quatar. Anyone managing to get as far as Quatar and then wish to enter the Charnel Valley might have to confront more than one monolith. These are carved into the likeness of the Nehekharan gods of old and also many of the empire's kings and one or two queens. The monoliths should all have the profiles of Giants (or better) and are immune to all non-magical weapons and psychology.


On the southwestern border of the Land of the Dead lies a large area of hard, sun baked sand, broken only by the occasional rock. Huge Carrion birds endlessly circle in the heavens overhead, spying the ground for prey and giving the air a sense of fear as they eerily cry out. This is the place known as the Cracked Land by the desert dwellers. It is another place scorched and parched by Nagash's Ritual of Awakening, as it was never such an arid, infertile place. In the days of Nehekhara the Cracked Land grew bountiful crops surrounded by irrigation canals to aid fertility. All there is now apart from the sun baked sand are the skulls and bones of various creatures who wondered too far and became fodder for the Carrion.

WFRP: Large numbers of Carrion can be found in this area and will viciously attack any living souls they find.


According to Nehekharan belief, the gods lived on the world for millions of years long before the emergence of man. The place known today as the Crater of Walking Dead was said to be the place where Ptra the Sun God first set foot on the mortal soil of the world and as he did so the earth shook and trembled until it opened to receive him. Ever afterwards the crater held a religious significance as the power of Ptra was said to still be strong in the place even after millions of years. Priests, scholars, and pilgrims made the journey to the crater to behold the power of Ptra, which they believed entered them, purifying their bodies.

Unfortunately it was a warpstone meteorite that hit the earth at the spot where it was claimed Ptra descended from the sky. What the people, who came here to behold the Rays of Ptra, were actually doing was absorbing harmful warpstone taint. Luckily for them not many were harmed although some did tend to die soon after a visit to the crater. Many ordinary people chose to be buried in the crater, believing that they would be close to Ptra. The warpstone wasn't powerful enough to animate the remains of the dead but come the spell of Awakening they are now animate and walk the crater in endless circles.

WFRP: Suffice to say anyone falling into the crater will be set upon by hordes of skeletons! Because they are suffused with warpstone all of the skeletons have at least champion profiles. Anyone who dies in the crater needless to say joins the other zombies in an eternity of walking its circumference.


Just south of the city of Lybaras lies the foetid Doom Glade Swamp. A miasma of pestilence hangs over the place like a cloud. Strange, snake-like creatures can be seen slithering in the shallows and have been known to wrap themselves around an unwary creature and then pull it down into the stinking waters. Other areas are perhaps more dangerous as there are many pools of sinking mud. A traveller could easily step into the sinking mud and be lost forever.

WFRP: Many Bog Octopi inhabit Doom Glade Swamp and will know when anything enters their home. The sinking mud will envelop anyone in as many rounds as a character is in feet, i.e. a six-foot character will take 6 rounds to sink. The character will then begin to drown as normal.


The polluted and bloody river Mortis flows into the Great Ocean on the north coast of the Land of the Dead on the the eastern bank of the city Zandri, from various springs in the World's Edge Mountains, making the lands near to it infertile and useless. But before He Who Shall Not Be Named used his black sorcery to despoil the land (warpstone charms were used to pollute the springs), the river Mortis used to be known as the Great Vitae River. Its life-giving waters flowed all the way from the Great Ocean and its gigantic length, much longer than the river Reik, ensured the well-being and livelihoods for countless people over countless generations. Traders used the river to export and import goods and the trade between Zandri, at the river's mouth, and Khemri, at the river's centre, was the most lucrative in the empire. Another river flowed into the tributary of the Vitae and this was the Golden River. It began in the fertile springs of the World's Edge Mountains and gave fishermen abundant supplies of fish and provided the lands around it with acres of fertile fields. Today, however, it is known as the Ash River and the only things that swim in it are dead things.

WFRP: Anyone foolish enough to think about drinking from the Great Mortis river can if they want. The water is the colour of blood and tastes absolutely disgusting. But even a little taste is enough to cause irreversible damage to the imbiber who must pass a Disease test (with a -20 penalty to a -40 penalty if the imbiber took a great gulp!) or contract the disease Tomb Rot (see WFRP p83.)


The Gulf of Fear, served by the Bitter Sea, lies by the port of Lybaras to the east of the Land of the Dead. In ancient times it was known as the Gulf of Kharpentharia and aside from carrying trading ships it also carried the pleasure boats of the nobility. Many pleasure galleys rowed by slaves and carrying large quantities of luxurious food and drink served to keep the nobles in the lap of luxury and they were kept cool with a host of slaves fanning them. The waters were rarely dangerous, being for the most part calm all year round with a warm temperature to match. Today, however, the pleasure barges have long gone and the waters are forever perilous: great rocks, like the spines of a hulking beast, stick out of the water ready to smash to pieces any boat which is unfortunate enough to come into contact with them.

WFRP: Unless anyone is approaching Lybaras by boat there is nothing to fear from the Gulf of Fear.


Located just south of Charnel Valley and in a canopy of thick jungle lies Mount Arachnos. It is a mountain honeycombed with dark tunnels and dotted with caves for it is here where some of the largest spiders in the world dwell. The smaller varieties tend to live in the jungles below where they feed on what ever foul creatures they can find (including each other) whereas the biggest ones live in the mountain proper. The mountain used to be a mine serving the stronghold of Rasetra but Nagash's spell needless to say ended production and even caused some of the spiders to expand in size over the years. Being so famished they consumed vast quantities of gold and precious stones and when these were exhausted they fed on each other. Now only a few remain to haunt the tunnels.

WFRP: Many, many spiders lurk here!


The Pools of Despair, yet another byproduct of Dark Magic in the Land of the Dead, is in fact a region of strange mirages which have led many a weary traveller to their deaths. The region lies just a day or two's travel from the ruins of Bel-Aliad and the Malaluks desert nomads avoid the place like the plague. The mirages gradually convince the traveller that he has no water left and that he is parched beyond all measure and that only a swift drink will sway his supernatural thirst. Once the traveller is taken in by the mirages he is almost certainly doomed as he drains any last supplies of water he did have and begins to scoop large handfuls of sand into his canteen and mouth believing it to be cool water. Only the strong-willed and those who have come well-prepared can have a hope of making it through the Pools of Despair alive.

WFRP: After half an hour or so of anyone setting foot in this region they must pass a Will Power test. If successful then they are safe, just for the next hour at least before they must make another test. Failure indicates that the character feels a sudden thirst and drains, if no-one can stop him, the last remaining drops from his canteen. The character is then convinced that he sees an oasis in front of him full of cool water and does not hesitate to rush towards it in a state of manic excitement. Once at the imaginary oasis the character then begins to scoop at the sand, believing it to be water, and starts to fill his canteen and even "drinks" it. If no-one can stop this then the character will eventually die. Under the influence of the magic of the Pools of Despair it will be the equivalent of a character taking D6 doses of the deleriant Madman's Cap every round (WFRP p82.)


A luscious oasis does indeed grow in the Land of the Dead a day's travel from the roads which lead to the necropolis of Bhagar to the south-west, Quatar to the south-east, and the looming site that is Khemri to the north. The oasis will be the most beautiful that any mortal traveller will have seen anywhere: palm trees that offer ample shade from the burning desert heat and of course the cool, blue water itself. In the glory days of Nehekhara the oasis held a religious significance. Pilgrims from miles around came here to bathe and drink from the waters and many nobles, including some kings and queens, also did the same believing that the liquid had magical powers and that drinking it would purify them. While the palm trees are real it is the water that hides a more sinister purpose. They do offer eternal life to any who drinks from it but not the one they may have had in mind.

When Nagash took flight after the fall of Khemri he cursed the holy springs in his last final act of spite. The true horror of the curse is only apparent when someone drinks the water. When a mortal imbibes the cool, clear water of the oasis he does for a few seconds feel utterly refreshed. However, it is then that the skies darken and all around him he sees the souls of the dead rise from the desert: victims of the poor fools who also sought to quench their thirst. The mortal then convulses in agony as his skin withers from his flesh, and his flesh rots from his bones until all that is left is a skeleton. It is said that the remains of those who died at the oasis rise from the dead and take the journey to Khemri...

WFRP: Anyone drinking from the Springs of Eternal Life must pass a Will Power test as if the level 4 Necromantic spell Curse of Undeath was cast upon them. If a character fails then he must spend a fate point or gradually transform into a skeleton! as shown in the spell's entry on page 178 of the WFRP rulebook. The water can be bottled but loses its potency when taken from the springs. For example, for each day the water is bottled a character gains a +10 bonus to the Will Power test to avoid the effects of the curse if drunk. When the bonus reaches +50 the water actually becomes harmless and quite drinkable. Since the Springs of Eternal Life are many days travel from anywhere it would be impossible to bottle it and take it back to the Old World hoping that if anyone there who drank it would become a skeleton for example.


The region in and around the delta of the Great Mortis River is known as the Swamp of Terror to most Old Worlders who have ever been there but it is also known as the Mire of Lost Souls and the Swamp of Death by various Arabian nomads. The mist shrouded swamp is the last resting place of all those who have ever died there. It is a place saturated in Dark Magic and all kinds of hideous entities have their home there. The swamp dwellers have a habit of reaching for a stranger's legs and pulling him under the foetid Mortis water where he is drowned and another soul joins the hideous Swamp of Terror.

WFRP: The Swamp of Terror is basically full of any Undead creature you, the GM, wishes to be there. Most of the time attacks on travellers will be confined to sneak tactics involving dragging a lone traveller under the water but you could have a random number of skeletons or zombies attack if you wish, combined with the odd champion as you see fit. Whatever happens anyone entering the Swamp of Terror must make a Cool check or lose half their Cool total until they are out of this dreadful place.


In the heart of the Land of the Dead lies its greatest city and necropolis: Khemri. It was the great Priest King Settra who founded the city of Khemri over two and a half thousand years before Sigmar's time. Even though he was a egotistical and brutal ruler, and some would say mad, much is owed to Settra for he conquered the lands of Nehekhara from the mountains to the sea, subjugated all of the tribes and appointed princes to rule them. Khemri became Nehekhara's capital city and all paid King Settra tribute making him unimaginably rich and extremely powerful. With the death of Settra all that had been achieved during his reign was in the balance for his son, Ahtaf I, was a weak ruler and half the kingdom rebelled against him (foremost amongst the rebels was Zandri and Numas.) But thanks to Ahtaf's son, Khutef, the kingdom was restored. Khemri has seen many kings and queens come and go and the city hasn't always enjoyed unparalleled support from its subjects, especially from the other Priest Kings who often made war with themselves and with Khemri. The kings often warred over their own throne and their right to rule; they warred over the acquisition of land; trade; taxes; and even for the the throne of Khemri itself. The last king of Khemri was Alcadizaar the Conqueror and the zenith of his rule came over one-thousand years before the time of Sigmar. Yet even though he was victorious several times over the accursed Nagash, the empire of Nehekhara eventually fell and his foul sorceries created the Land of the Dead. 

Khemri's necropolis is larger than the city, as two of the greatest structures ever built by man in this city will testify: the Great Pyramid of Khemri (also called the Pyramid of Eternity) and the Black Pyramid of Nagash. The former is gigantic, made of white stone and many hundreds of feet tall, a great behemoth towering into the sky. This construction was built on the orders of the Priest King Settra to be his tomb. But as great as the Pyramid of Eternity was, and is, the Black Pyramid of Nagash is greater still: a construction of such gigantic magnitude it defies mortal belief. So great was the undertaking of this project -- thousands of people died and the expense caused hundreds of thousands of common folk to starve throughout the empire -- that Nagash was overthrown, although, as no-one cannot fail to see, his legacy still remains. Surrounding these two mighty pyramids, under their gigantic shadow, are the many lesser pyramids built by lesser nobles to house their souls upon their death. But even these pyramids are massive. With so many pyramids in one place the necropolis has become a veritable maze of passages and alleyways where it is easy for anyone to get lost. 

The huge, ebony edifice of the Black Pyramid of Nagash is the birthplace of necromancy. Here the Great Necromancer laboured many years delving into the dark arts and created many of the spells that future necromancers would use. Indeed many necromantic spells require the incantation of the Great Necromancer's name before they can work, as it is only the insane or those that lust for power who dare call on Nagash's name to aid them. One cannot imagine the atrocities that were committed in the Black Pyramid, nor how many people were entombed alive in its labyrinthine catacombs. The Arabians believe that if one stands still he will be able to hear the lost souls of the pyramid calling to him such were the atrocities committed in this place. But the Alliance of the Seven Kings finally overthrew Nagash and the Black Pyramid was stormed by King Lahmizzash's victorious troops. Arkhan, Nagash's Vizier, was executed, and the Great Necromancer's name was struck from inscriptions. Even the priesthood was purged although Nagash escaped to perpetrate even more evil. Only a brave man or a foolish one would even contemplate entering the Black Pyramid of Nagash.

While the dangers of the Black Pyramid are somewhat unknown (and better left that way) it is the Pyramid of Eternity that one should under no circumstances pay a visit. It is here that King Settra, the ancient king of five-thousand years, resides. He seeks dominion over everything and everyone and he has plenty of time to prepare for these ambitions. Eminent scholars who know of such things scoff at the idea that Settra still rules Khemri but some, namely the Arabians, fear the day that the Undead hordes of Khemri will one day threaten their lands. For Settra to do this he would need years, for as powerful as he is he cannot raise an army quickly as he had the Liche Priests expelled to the other cities of the dead. For the moment at least, Araby is safe.

When much of the Old World was still primitive, although they were beginning to emerge into recognisable nations, Settra ordered his fleet to bring captives back to Khemri so that his city could be rebuilt. The Kingdom of Araby was sacked for slaves as was Tilea, Estalia and Bretonnia. These horrific events have even been recorded in the chronicles of those countries, that the people taken away on the Tomb Ships had a fate awaiting them worse than death. What they did not know was that those who survived the journey were to become Khemrian slaves. Settra ordered wells for pure water be sunk and irrigation canals be dug so that Khemri could be restored to its former glory. In doing so a thriving slave town survived on the outskirts of the necropolis and some parts of the city were even settled, though the majority were loath to go too far for they still feared the dead.

Eventually the slaves even began to like Settra and worship him as a god, though it took a long time for this to happen and certain events helped this strange decision. Other Undead armies were repulsed by the might of Settra, including those of Nagash and the slaves would much rather stay alive than become walking corpses under the tyranny of the Great Necromancer. Similarly they even did not wish to be "freed" by the vicious desert nomads of the Malaluk tribes for they were mainly cruel men who sold people into slavery and they'd much rather be left alone in the shadow of the Pyramids than face unknown futures in the harsh cities of the Arabian caliphs. However, these people have become "conditioned" to their lot or brainwashed. They believe that their lives are perfectly normal and that Settra is a good and beneficent ruler. This is certainly the case today over two-thousand years on from the first slave raids.

The Khemrian slave towns numbered thousands of inhabitants at around the eleventh century of the Imperial calendar. Believe it or not the slaves did reproduce and Settra's slave ships continued to raid places for more captives, so the slave towns of Khemri continued to grow. However, since the growth of the Old World it has been far harder for the slave ships to simply raid a settlement that took their fancy and then sail back to Khemri. What they found were towns protected by stone walls and many grim defenders clad in mail and carrying weapons of steel - there were also wizards in some places whose magic proved to be effective against the Undead. From the eleventh century onwards Settra faced determined resistance and while he was successful with some raids he failed with others to a ratio of two to one. The slave raids culminated in resounding defeat against the navies of Luccini and Remas in the latter part of the twelfth century. Settra increasingly found himself using living sailors to mount his raids, as they were better than most of his skeleton warriors, and so to the Luccinians and Remans Settra's fleet were naught but bloodthirsty pirates intent on rape and pillage. The Tileans were far better sailors and sent Settra's fleet back to Khemri empty-handed.

Although there have been no slave raids for well over a thousand years slaves still live in Khemri today: the descendents of those slaves who were taken from their lands over a period of one-thousand years of Settra's fleet raiding the coastal settlements of the Old World. Their population is a fraction of what it was in those times and now only one slave town exists on the outskirts of the city. The people are mostly of Arabian stock and spend their days tending to their crops and worshipping Settra. They rarely enter the city of Khemri itself and never go into the necropolis. The only times they enter the necropolis is for their religious days which are held on certain days of the year. They involve worshipping the old Nehekharan gods, culminating in the final day when one man or woman is sent to the Pyramid of Eternity where he or she is sacrificed to King Settra. This is a great honour for anyone chosen to be the sacrifice and perversely enough this is not Settra's doing. It is the people's wish to worship their ruler in this manner. To most other civilized peoples this would be considered barbaric in the extreme but to the Khemrians it is a perfectly acceptable practice.

Life goes on as normal in Khemri's slave town and the inhabitants have long grown used to their surroundings. They live by a strict set of rules: no-one enters the city without express permission of the priest (the ruler of the town) and no-one is allowed into the necropolis unless on certain holy days. Naturally sometimes the rules are broken and people go missing, especially if they wonder into the necropolis, lured no doubt by the promise of treasure. Search parties are sometimes mounted to find anyone who has disobeyed the laws (for fear of waking the dead) and when they find them harsh justice is often dispensed after a swift trial: a person maybe branded, flogged, mutilated in some way (an eye or two maybe gouged out, especially if they have seen something they shouldn't have done), or killed (often a beheading.) Amazingly there are few of the living Khemrians today who have seen an Undead creature and no-one for generations has even seen King Settra. This sense of mystery only increases Settra's divine nature among the people but they know that one day he will appear to command them and lead them to paradise.

The city of Khemri itself is still mostly a mass of ruins and rubble, its streets buried under sand with only the occasional statue and eroded monument poking out to belie any evidence that anything was there. Two-hundred years ago the Khemrians attempted to restore parts of the city but found it an impossible task; some of them had also fallen prey to Undead things or fell into pits or had loose masonry fall on top of them.

Although the Khemrians live under strict religious law it hasn't stopped some of them from capitalising on their position in the Land of the Dead. The Magnus Museum of Altdorf have funded several small expeditions to the Land of the Dead and Khemri over the years and have had some success; the "Wonders of Ancient Nehekhara" section in the museum is testament to this success. This was only possible due to the cooperation of some of the Khemrians and they meet in secret to discuss a price for their services. If the head priest knew of this betrayal then those involved would almost certainly be beheaded or he would ensure that the people from across the sea would fail. The Khemrian guides know of the risks they take and some even request that they be taken to the Old World to escape the wrath they would incur if their people found out. Yet many of the guides are fearful that their King would find them out and murder them regardless of where they hid. Despite all this, for the right price, a Khemrian guide can be hired for an expedition but such a venture is never easy, as the fate of the latest one will testify.

What has happened to Heinrich Johann? Is the question on the museum's lips. Luckily Jacob Stachetdhorf, a man in the employ of the Magnus Museum Altdorf, found Heinrich Johann's journal. It shows that on Bezahltag 22nd 2499 Heinrich departed for the Arabian port of Al-Haikik via Marienburg. He was bound for the Land of the Dead in the search for Queen Rasut's tomb. Unfortunately for him Fraulein Clarrisa Lohft, the renowned antique dealer from Nuln, had got to Khemri before him and had also stolen the key to the tomb from Heinrich. What is known from the journal, and Heinrich made extensive notes including some maps, is that he found the Tomb of Queen Rasut and came upon Fraulein Lohft's dead body slumped on the floor by a pool. He had to also negotiate his way round lethal traps which included poison needles shot from cunningly hidden holes in the walls, a poison gas chamber, a cunning fake lever that when pulled filled a chamber with sand, a bottomless pit, another pit but this time full of scorpions, and another cunning trap which killed one of Heinrich's companions on a staircase; a trip wire delivered a spring loaded blade straight into his chest. Jacob Stachetdhorf is currently on the look out for a team to accompany him to the Tomb of Queen Rasut to find out what happened to Heinrich. At the moment he has the funds for such a venture but surprisingly few have volunteered to take the voyage to the Land of Dead, even though each man who goes is promised substantial payment as well as fame.


There are few fortresses in the world as formidable as Nagashizzar. Only the Dwarf city of Karaz-a-Karak could claim to be on equal terms with the fortifications and defences that Nagashizzar has to offer, for this is the home of mankind's vilest and most brilliant magician: Nagash. The great fortress was built from the living rock of Cripple Peak over centuries by Undead labourers. It looms nearly half a mile into the sky, bristling with towers and gate houses and for a time it was the capital of the world's vilest empire for around the mountain were whole towns of the living and dead. Now they are mostly ruined and deserted. Yet it would be a foolish act to enter them.

Four gates, bastions in their own right, guard the approach to Nagashizzar. In ancient times they could easily defeat a small army for each one was equipped with bolt throwers and catapults and each one was accompanied by hundreds of skeleton warriors and gigantic golems constructed from bone. But Nagash's power is not as once was to maintain such defences and instead each bastion has woven into them fiendish magical enchantments designed to disorientate and ultimately kill any intruder. The bastions themselves are made from an unknown black metal and are much stronger than a castle wall.

Beneath the mountain, to a depth greater than the height of Nagashizzar itself, is a complex honeycomb of passages, corridors and chambers. Countless Undead things laboured unceasingly in the warpstone mines to fuel Nagash's sorcerous power. In ancient times battles were fought here over control of the Chaos substance but today the passages and chambers are seemingly deserted. There used to be thousands of skeletons occupying the dark chambers below the fortress but today there is only a fraction, although the greatest concentrations of Undead guard the last deposits of warpstone left in the mines.

It is true that Nagash is no longer a man, as a life of many thousands of years will testify. Indeed, he is more akin to a god and certainly at his height his power was as great as one. But those heady days were well over a thousand years before Sigmar's time and since then he has suffered several costly defeats that have reduced his power significantly. In fact it was Nagash's last defeat against the patron god of the Empire which has dealt a severe blow to his designs for world domination. Since this defeat on the banks of the River Reik over two-thousand five-hundred years ago, Nagash has more or less slipped away from history and forgotten.

But to many necromancers and some cults, many of which operate in the Old World and Araby, Nagash has not been forgotten and is worshipped as a god whose power is omnipotent and rewards eternal life to those who serve him well. Nagash's will and ambition is just as potent as it ever was and by his thoughts he controls a vast network of agents. It is not inconceivable that all human necromancers, and their cults, are in the thrall of Nagash's power or at least guided by one who interprets the Great Necromancer's will. His thoughts guide their actions and their magicks for his dark intrigues. Nagash has learnt that he can no longer wage war as he did in the ancient world. Man has grown strong both magically and militarily but Nagash knows that the human mind is as weak and as susceptible as ever and uses other means to conquer his foes and his agents are but pieces to fit this jigsaw.

The Disciples of Nagash

It is not known whether Nagash is truly alive any more or if he is nothing but a malicious spirit. The only people who know are the Disciples of Nagash: an order of living men dedicated to the service of the Great Necromancer and an inner circle of Liche Priests, both of which are lead by the high priest or the Great Hierophant of Nagashizzar. The men, all of which can hardly be called sane, prepare for the day when Nagash will rebirth and conquer the world. All of them are skilled in necromancy and come from several human nations: Araby (foremost amongst them), then the Empire, and then one from Bretonnia. All of them were indoctrinated in their country's Cult of Nagash and all were adjudged worthy to sit at the seat of the Great Necromancer. Because warpstone saturates the very air of Nagashizzar the men are just as hideous as their Liche Priest masters: their hair has almost completely fallen out, their skin is either pock marked or translucent, their hands have become scaly claws, and their eyes are red or black or white. The Great Hierophant, whose name has long been forgotten, is a Liche Priest of great age and one who served Nagash when he was Priest King of Khemri and Nehekhara. There are few in the world with his knowledge of the dark arts and only the Great Hierophant, with the exception of Arkhan, is allowed entry into Nagash's audience chamber. What the Great Hierophant sees only he knows but it doesn't stop people from thinking and making up their own minds. Some say that Nagash's gigantic husk sits unmoving like a corpse on a throne of skulls with only the occasional malevolent glow emanating from his eye sockets to belie a presence. Some say that there is a large sarcophagus, of the like he had in Khemri, where his body lies in a state of dormancy, ready to awaken at the appointed time when all of his plans have come to fruition. While others claim that the audience chamber contains a shrine to the Great Necromancer with his great claw or his legendary crown the main idol (or even both.) Whatever the case the Great Hierophant interprets the will of Nagash so that the Disciples of Nagash will know his intrigues long before those of the Old World and Araby.

The immediate concerns of the Disciples of Nagash are the Tomb Kings and Princes of the Land of the Dead, all of which despise and loathe their master for wrecking their afterlife. Instead of bodies of gold and a land of paradise they awoke to find their their kingdoms in ruin and their bodies naught but withered husks. The Disciples are conscious of the fact that one day the dead hordes of what used to be Nehekhara will rise up and assault Nagashizzar where only its destruction and the final death of Nagash will temper their anger and vengeance. They must also be wary of the machinations of the Council of Thirteen for although much of the warpstone of Cripple Peak has been expended they still desire what is still left. Many times have the forces of Nagashizzar and the Skaven clashed in battle and for but a brief period both Undead and Skaven mined the warpstone together. But that was thousands of years ago and only bitter enmity exists between the two factions; each desires the other's complete and total destruction.


In the glory days of the Nehekharan Empire Quatar was also known as the White Palace and it served to guard the holy Valley of the Kings, which today is known as the Charnel Valley or, as the nomads call it, the Valley of the Dead. It was a great place famous for its gigantic, towering monoliths of the venerable Nehekharan gods and kings of the past. As such the ruler of Quatar was not only its Priest King but also its Grand Vizier. The Valley of the Kings had to be protected from the heathen desert dwellers and from the ubiquitous goblinoids and it was a most religious calling.

Quatar palace itself, today known as the Palace of Corpses, is built into the canyons walls of the valley itself. Great pillars have been carved from the valley rockface and line the hundreds of steps that lead to the palace gates. Long ago pilgrims from all over the empire flocked to this place and prayed before the statues of the gods and kings. Most of the pilgrims journeyed to the palace bare footed and did not rest once they got there but climbed the hundreds of steps where they received the blessing of the Grand Vizier. Even nobles made the journey to Quatar but most of them did not choose to walk, let alone go bare foot, though a few of the pious ones did. Any ruler who took the pilgrimage to Quatar was certain to make himself very popular with his people.

Despite Quatar's place in the heart of all Nehekharan's as a most holy place, the Grand Vizier did not hesitate to impose rather hefty duty on everyone and everything passing through the Valley of the Kings, as indeed it was the only safe means by which anyone could reach the eastern empire of Lahmia, Lybaras, Rasetra and Mahrak; the only other ways of course were to traverse the dangerous and narrow passes in the World's Edge Mountains or by sailing around the coast of the Southlands and port at Lybaras. Naturally the taxes gained were necessary to provide for the Vizier's army, the upkeep of the White Palace, and of course for the great holy monoliths that guarded the valley's entrance. Quatar's coffers were rarely low on funds and as a result the Grand Vizier and his priesthood lived in extreme luxury.

Popular Nehekharan legend said that the statues of the Valley of the Kings would come to life should it look like Quatar would fall. This in fact prevented the other Priest Kings from moving against it because they feared not only the monoliths would come alive but feared the wrath of the gods should they sack the holy palace. The Grand Vizier and his priesthood were only too happy to play on these fears. However, today the monoliths do indeed seem to have a life of their own thanks to Quatar's last Grand Vizier who was Sehenesmet. Not surprisingly he believed in the afterlife and had all of the previous Grand Viziers' bodies destroyed so that when the time of awakening came he would be the only one to rule Quatar and he cared little for the consequences for his actions. When Nagash unleashed the dreadful plague everyone died in Quatar, including the Grand Vizier. As he lay dying Sehenesmet took it that he was being punished by the gods for destroying the bodies of the other Grand Viziers but it was after he awoke after death that he learnt of Nagash's treachery and his dreadful sorcery and swore that he would have his revenge one day.

Sehenesmet was appalled to find his beautiful palace, and not least the monoliths, nothing but shattered ruins; the byproduct of a thousand years of neglect. Now an immortal Undead creature, the Grand Vizier of Quatar has had plenty of time to rebuild his palace and hulking monoliths. He also began to learn other incantations that would allow him to animate and subsequently control Quatar's statues; hieroglyphs of awakening and binding were inscribed on every monolith. It is said that he has even animated the great stone guardian of Quatar, shaped in a hybrid form of lion and eagle. The stories of the priest of Quatar and his walking statues has reached the lands of Araby to the west but those who talk about it do so in hushed tones. Not even the goblinoids of the mountains dare enter Quatar or the Charnel Valley for they are terrified of the towering monoliths whether they walk or not. All who enter the valley are lost forever.


Zandri was once a mighty maritime empire in its own right. It was Athaf II, King of Zandri over two-thousand years before the birth of Sigmar and several centuries after Settra, who realised the ambitions of the city. He built a vast fleet of strong galleys that would sail to far and distant lands bringing back many new and exotic things. In time Zandri became fabulously wealthy and it continuously produced many famous explorers none more famous than Amenemhetum the Great. This ambitious and brave man discovered and conquered the lands across the sea now known today as the Tilean City-States in the name of Ualatp, the vulture god. The primitive savages of the country were no match for the well-trained and well-equipped armies of Amenemhetum, who was also an excellent strategist and general. After the subjugation of Tilea he was hailed 'the Great' when he returned to Zandri with several savage chiefs tied to his golden chariot. In a short space of time he would also become the city's Priest King. Amenemhetum also conquered the lands which would be known as the Border Princes and this even paved the way for the Legion of Setep to cross the Black Mountains and settle (for an unknown amount of time) in what is now Sylvania.

During crusader fever of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Giovanni Lanfranchi of Remas, and his crusading army of knights, sergeants and assorted fanatics, landed too far east of Araby, finding themselves instead several miles east of Zandri. Imbued with renewed religious zeal the army of ten-thousand crossed the Great Mortis River and descended on Zandri. There they destroyed many Undead things, despoiled tombs, and took with them much gold and ancient scrolls, before taking the road west to Araby. The Liche Priests of Zandri have recorded this in the city's chronicles and have never forgotten it. The Tilean crusaders were chronicled as "numerous men of unknown tribes clad in iron who did desecrate the resting places of Zandri."

Today, all of Zandri's greatness lies thousands of years in the past. All that remains of the empire is the ruined necropolis of Zandri itself on the north coast of the Land of the Dead and several ruined sites throughout Tilea and the Border Princes. Also, it is claimed, that a Tilean archeologist has found the lost tomb of Amenemhetum the Great just two-hundred miles east of Luccini near the coast of the Black Gulf. Arabian legends which have reached Old Worlder scholars and explorers also say that Amenemhetum's fleet still sails the seas and if one should see them he would behold tattered galleys of a bygone age being rowed by silent, skeletal oarsmen. Other stories tell of the fleet raiding the coastal waters of the western Old World, taking with them many captives back to the Land of the Dead. Tales such as this are still popular today used by parents to scare young children to bed at night or to scold them when they misbehave. Little do they know there may be some grains of truth to the tales.

Humans came to Zandri as recently as 2505 IC. Don Romano De' Medici, a wealthy explorer and merchant from Luccini, led this ill-fated expedition in the name of exploration and knowledge. In his time De' Medici had sailed around Sorcerers' Islands, through Shark Straits, traversed the jagged west coast of the Southlands and even made friends with the Ebonian people on his voyage to El-Kalabad in the Gulf of Medes. But a straightforward voyage to Zandri, so you would think, proved to be his hardest episode yet. All that returned to Luccini was the explorer himself and half a dozen of his crewmen (all that remained of three-hundred) on board an Arabian dhow. They were all thin and gaunt, as if they had been struck by the Yellow Fever and De' Medici was shaking. Even though De' Medici was a famous man no-one believed the tale of his voyage. In fact his equally rich and wealthy rivals, eager to see his downfall, succeeded in having De' Medici interred in a Shallyan asylum for the mentally sick, just outside the village of Vidella, after he took to drink and whores and developed several disorders. No-one knows what has happened to his six crewmen. It is assumed that some of them have gone mad and killed themselves or whether they have turned to begging. Although De' Medici's log book was taken from him he continued (and still does ten or so years later) to put quill to parchment of what he saw as a way to escape his mental torment. According to him he saw huge birds of prey flying above the waters within sight of Zandri but when he put a telescope to his eye they seemed to him at first to be half-starved creatures with severe malnutrition. But on a closer inspection he saw that the birds' wing membranes were tattered and rotting and the bones of the beasts were clearly visible on all of them. The creatures did not appear to be interested in Romano's ship and they dually disappeared towards the city. At first the expedition was successful. They had penetrated into the necropolis of Zandri and found the pyramids of King Behedesh and King Memnesh respectively. After several days of exploring various catacombs and trapped passages the expedition procured much gold and jewels, including several gold idols of the ancient Nehekharan gods. But then things started to go disastrously wrong. Men began to vanish over night and too many were "starting to get lost" in the necropolis. As the days wore on more and more men were beginning to disappear without a trace and in greater numbers. Finally some of the men reappeared. But they weren't alive. All of them had their skins flayed from their bodies and their innards torn out. Romano De' Medici at first thought that his rivals were behind the disappearances but was now beginning to think that a more sinister purpose lay behind it all. He dually began rounding what was left of the expedition up. 

Just as they were about to depart they were attacked by chariots and were horrified to see what was driving them: skeletons clad in archaic armour. More chaos was about to ensue as arrows rained down upon De' Medici's beleaguered expedition, fired by skeletal archers from the roofs of ruined houses. And then more chariots appeared this time with charioteers arrayed in kingly regalia among them. Though the Tileans did not know it at the time, King Behedesh and King Memnesh had come to destroy those who would loot their city. And they came upon Romano's expedition with great hate and vengeance. The Tilean explorer ordered a hasty retreat out of the necropolis but the Undead kept coming. Those lucky enough to be riding horses managed to escape from the onslaught but those on foot were slain to a man. It was thanks to the fearsome Malaluk nomads that Romano and a handful of his expedition escaped. The Malaluks happened upon them when they were three miles west of the city and are well versed in fighting the walking dead. Although Romano was eternally grateful for their help he did not want to tarry long for he had read about the Malaluk nomads on his research about Arabian tribes. They butcher their enemies and then dismember them before pilling them on a pyre to destroy them. For what purpose he could never guess but now he understood that the dead seldom rest easy, even outside the Land of the Dead, and it is better that the bodies be completely destroyed than the possibility, no matter how small, of having to fight them again. 

Another problem surfaced. The Malaluks were also slavers and not only acquire wealth through raids but also by selling able-bodied people so that they can buy more camels and horses, weapons and armour, food and drink. Romano was appalled to learn that he would be sold into slavery at a place called the Oasis of a Thousand and One Camels. However, this part of the tale is brief as the Tileans were bought by merchants from El-Kalabad, who were staying at the Oasis on their way to the Old World, and one of them by lucky chance recognised Romano and had them brought back to Luccini. Of course, once there, no-one believed Romano's tale and the once proud and renowned merchant explorer has lost everything...

Author: A Fawcett