As mentioned in the previous post, the geography of the world of Warhammer Fantasy, much like some of the nations and races, mimic real world counterparts. The mimicry is not exact of course, but as one can see in the map below, similarities certainly abound.
While I will often use the term ‘Old World’ interchangeably with ‘Warhammer World’, the Old World more specifically refers to the area below:
The Empire, shown above, is usually the central stage for much of the dramas of the Warhammer World. It is a nation of humans who will be discussed in more detail later. The land that they live in is predominantly forests, with rivers and a few roads acting as the veins of trade. The great forest of the Empire, some parts of which are called the Reikwald, is pictured below in an image of Imperial troops ambushing the ‘Beastmen’ who often inhabit the forests:
To the North of the Empire lays snowy land of Kislev, which is nominally part of the Empire. Kislev has a Russian feel to it and is predominantly steppes. North of Kislev lays the Troll Country, a barren land of Tundra, rocky crags and almost no human habitation. Past the Troll Country/across the Sea of Claws from the Empire is Norsca, the Old World equivalent of Scandanavia. Norsca is a notoriously harsh land, and is the home to the tribes of the Norse, Viking like tribes who raid the Empire frequently and often lend bands of ‘Marauders’ to the human armies who worship Chaos (to be discussed in more detail later). The landscape of Norsca is pictured below, along with some of the War Mammoths that the Norse tribes are known to ride into battle:
Beyond them, to the far North, is the Chaos Wastes, which will be addressed in another post.
The East of the Empire is the World’s Edge Mountains, the great mountain range you can see in the map. The World’s Edge mountains are both a boon and bane to the Empire. There are several holds of their allies, the Dwarves that exist beneath the mountains, Karaz-a-Karak being the most important. Not all Dwarven holds however are inhabited by the dwarves, some, like Karak Ungor and Karak eight peaks, have fallen to their enemies, the Skaven rat men and the cunning Night Goblins.
The Dwarf Keep of Karak Kadrin in the World’s Edge mountains is pictured below:
In this sense the World’s Edge Mountains act as a place from whence Skaven and Night Goblin attacks can enter the Empire. The flip side of this is that they also form a shield to the lands to the East. The only way through them is several strategically important passes, Black Fire Pass being one of the more famous examples.
To the West and South West of the Empire, across the Grey Mountains, lay the lands of Bretonnia. The Bretonnians are a less technologically advanced human nation, who often wage a cold or hot war with the Empire. Their feudal society will be discussed later. Bretonnia is less heavily forested than the Empire, akin to the landscape of Medieval France. The image below shows a typical Bretonnian town
To the East of Bretonnia is the Forest of Loren, which, while technically within Brettonian territory, are actually the province of the Wood Elves, a forest dwelling race of Elves.
East of the Forest of Loren, and back into Empire territory, is the Moot, the province of the Halflings (Hobbit like humanoids), which forms the bread bowl of the Empire.
South of the Moot, across the Black Mountains (a break off range from the World’s Edge Mountains) lay the Border Princes region. The Border Princes border the Badlands, and thus is a mix of fortified towns and small princelings. This is an area of disrupted human settlement and constant war, akin to the Wild West.
To the West of the Border Princes lay Tilea and Estalia, imitations of Italy and Spain respectively. Both are more settled and slightly less fracturous than the Border Princes, but not by much. Below is a representation of Tilean farmland:
The aforementioned Badlands are a rocky, arid region inhabited by countless warring Orc tribes.
To the South of all this are the lands of Araby and Khemri/ the Land of the Dead. Araby is little touched upon in the established fiction (as is the case for Tilea, Estalia and the Border Princes) but generally represents a fantasy version of the Muslim Arab world. It is a desert land, inhabited by various Arabyan factions along with ‘Djinn’ (genies) that they bind to their will and use in battle.
The Land of the Dead on the other hand is extensively discussed, as it is home to the ‘Tomb Kings’, Undead Kings and Princes of vast, ruined cities and pyramids, full of treasure but uninhabited save for the armies of the dead. Below is an image of the Tomb City of Nekhara
To the East of the World’s Edge Mountains (technically outside the Old World, as is Khemri/Araby) is the Dark Lands. The Dark Lands are also rarely discussed, as they are unsettled by humans. The Dark Lands are a vast plain of foetid mire, ashen volcanoes and Beastman infested forest. The greatest thing of note is the Kingdom carved out there by a race called the ‘Chaos Dwarves’, the twisted cousins of the Dwarves that live in the World’s Edge Mountains. The heart of the Chaos Dwarves empire is shown below:
So ends our tour of the Old World. The next post will discuss further the geography of the wider Warhammer World, the lands of the Elves and the Lizardmen, as well as far off Cathay and the Chaos Wastes.
For an even more detailed examination, maps are invaluable. I sourced mine from ‘Gitzman’s Gallery‘ and I highly recommend perusing the resources there, as they are great and even include a massive, detailed map of the Old World, which can be zoomed in and out like Google Earth!