An Elector Count is the highest noble rank in the Empire, second only to the Emperor himself and perhaps the High Priests of the Churches of Sigmar and Ulric. The position itself descends from the status of the tribal chieftains who swore allegiance to Sigmar Heldenhammer at the dawn of the Empire.
The title is usually hereditary, being passed from father to son. However, if an Elector is counted as being incompetent, or is guilty of worshiping the Chaos Gods or some other form of heresy, then his title can be revoked and given to another more deserving noble.
Electors, as their name implies, have electoral powers to pick the new Emperor. Indeed, the very station of the Emperor derives from one of the Electors.
In order to fully understand the position of the Elector Counts, one must understand the story of Sigmar and the impetus that led to the founding of the Empire itself.
Sigmar, Lord and God of the race of Men, is said to have possessed a unique and powerful drive to put an end to the petty strife that divided the tribes of the Reik Basin and usher his people into a glorious age of might. From the tender age of 15, Sigmar fought against the foul races that sought to destroy his people, and won the eternal friendship of the Dwarfen Empire when he saved the venerable King Kurgan Ironbeard from a Greenskin warlord, thus attaining the legendary hammer Ghal Maraz, revered and holy symbol of the Empire beloved by thousands across the fair realm.
The years that followed saw Sigmar's father the great King Bjorn fall in battle with the savage Chaos-worshiping Norsii, but in doing so, such an example of kinship was set that Sigmar was able to forge the unbreakable bonds that would bind the core of the tribes. After bringing men honourably to his great banner, and expelling and subsuming those foolish enough to stand against him, Sigmar brought the tribes into unity and vanquished the many threats that would assail his empire. Including the largest Greenskin migration ever seen and an apocalyptic Norsii invasion that nearly sundered the Empire apart.
Sigmar's rule was just, fair and prosperous for 50 years. But on the fiftieth anniversary of his crowning by the Ar-Ulric, Sigmar left the Empire with neither ceremony, nor fanfare. Heading to the lands of the East before leaving his weeping people with one last word:
"My work is now finished. The Empire is prosperous and united, and in your good hands it will continue to be so. But I have work left unfinished. A task yet undone, and I must return Ghal-Maraz to its maker."
With that, the first, greatest Emperor placed his crown upon his table and took up his mighty hammer. Setting out from the gates of his realm to an unknown fate. Barely a generation after his passing, men began to claim that their great lord had not died, but instead ascended boldly to godhood, a god born of mortal origins, but destined to defend his people so long as his Empire stood.
As Sigmar left behind no heir, a great argument arose on who should replace him. A great situation that a new outbreak of inter-tribal warfare would erupt and undo all the great works that Sigmar had wrought was finally resolved when the chieftains decided to elect one of their own number to lead. Sigmar, always remembering and cherishing the fiery, independent spirit of his people, had always endeavored to unite the tribes in brotherhood rather than impose tyranny upon them, and had only imposed himself on matters that affected the Empire as a whole. No one man, Sigmar had declared, could or should rule the whole of the Empire, and the establishment of the Electors maintained this principle. How each king ruled his tribe, or as time went by, each Elector Count ruled his province, was his own business. He who was elected emperor wielded great power, but only by the forebearance of his peers, who upon his death or abdication, may set the crown upon the brow of another heir not his own.
Sigmar's grieving peers thus set Hedrich I as his successor, and it was to this leader that Alaric the Mad presented the remaining Runefangs. The first millennium after Sigmar is a barely recorded portion of history, and indeed, the records of the other races contain more detail on it than do the records of the Empire itself. That said, all agree that the function of the Electors continued, producing some of the most greatest heroes and most nefarious villains in Imperial history.
The Rise of the Electors
When the celebrated Emperor Mandred Skavenslayer was assassinated in 1152 IC, the Electors could not agree upon a successor and the system collapsed for an age. Three provinces declared their Counts to be the true Emperor and thus began a devestating civil war that nearly tore the Empire apart, this era was later known to historians as the Age of Three Emperors. In 1979 IC, the Electors finally agreed on a single ruler, but this was the infant Magritta of Marienburg, whose election the Grand Theogonist of Sigmar denounced. The Electoral system then completely collapsed, and for the next three centuries the provinces were entirely divided. Without an Emperor to unite them, the Counts looked to their own for protection, neither seeking nor expected aid from their fellows. It seemed as if the spirit of brotherhood the Empire was founded upon was entirely forgotten.
It was during this time, that the merchantile burgomeisters first rose to prominence, for the power of the nobility had begun to wane in this period of disunity, curtailed by their inability to call upon aid from distant relatives. Instead of drawing upon familial or political influence, the nobles of each province, including the Electors, were forced to seek it in their own lands, from the merchants, money-lenders and other low-born, but wealthy types. The need to extract taxes from the populace led to concessions and the granting of petty titles to the burgomeisters in order to simply raise armies and defend the lands against the ceaseless raids of beastmen, greenskins, and Chaos-worshiping reavers from Norsca and elsewhere.
To the Kurgan warlord Asavar Kul and his Norscan allies, the Empire's disunity presented the perfect time for conquest. The combined hosts of the bloodthirsty Norse berserkers and the vicious Kurgan horsemen swept into Kislev and razed much of the kingdom, it seemed clear that they would soon spill into the Empire as a ravening horde. Desperately, men cried out to Sigmar for a man who would deliver them from the wrath of the north.
That hero was Magnus the Pious, a warrior-leader second only to Sigmar himself in the adoration of the people. Some even claimed that he was the Champion of Sigmar, blessed by the god with the strength to defeat the Norse and Kurgans. By Magnus's deeds, the land was saved from the army of Kul, and the acclimation of the people saw the Electors elevate him to the status of Emperor, finally bringing an end to the chaos that had riven the Empire apart.
Though the Electoral system would continue to produce incompetent successors, such as Dieter IV, who in his greed, allowed the city of Marienburg to secede from the Empire in exchange for uncounted wealth, the Empire was restored and continues to endure to this day. In 2502 IC, the Electors elevated Karl Franz, son of Leitpold, to the position of Emperor.
Being an Elector Count brings power to the people who holds the title. Not only does it give them the political control over their own province, they are also allowed to vote for, and gains the chance of becoming, a new Emperor with the death or abdication of the incumbent.
The title also comes with certain demands. In addition to upholding a strong enough economy and solving political debates in his province, an Elector Count is also required to protect his subjects from attacks. As a result of this most Counts are also experienced generals, but those who are not delegates this duty to other aspiring nobles.
Should the Elector Count show himself to be an incompetent ruler, or if he is exposed as a traitor or heretic, he can be removed of his titles and powers. This is usually a last resort, as the threat of civil war is always present in such situations.
Each Elector carries a magical sword called a Runefang. These swords were created for Sigmar, by the Dwarf smith Alaric the Mad, and such is their power that they can cut through anything from the heaviest armour, to gromril or even Dragon Scale with ease.
|Elector Count||Province||Status||Additional Comments|
|Marius Leitdorf||Averland||Dead||Marius Leitdorf was notable for being the greatest warrior in the Empire, and also for his insanity. He was slain in the Third Battle of Black Fire Pass in 2520. He was left without a clear successor and the position of Elector Count of Averland is currently disputed.|
|Aldebrad Ludenhof||Hochland||Living||In 2516, Aldebrand Ludenhof's son fell ill with a terrible disease and devolved into a hideous Chaos mutant.|
|Theoderic Gausser||Nordland||Living||Theoderic Gausser claims to be prince of Marienburg in addition to his other titles. The city in question has laid out an edict stating he will be executed if he comes within their walls.|
|Valmir von Raukov||Ostland||Living||The original rulers of Ostland was the von Tessininck family. After the death of Hals von Tessininck and his son, the throne passed to the von Raukov line.|
|Wolfram Hertwig||Ostermark||Living||Wolfram Hertwig is best known for his disastrous role in the Battle of Hertwig's Folly in 2485.|
|Karl Franz||Reikland||Living||Karl Franz is the currently elected Emperor in addition to being Prince-Elector of the Reikland.|
|Emmanuelle von Liebwitz||Wissenland||Living||Emmanuelle von Liebwitz came into power in Wissenland after wrestling authority from her errant vassal, Count Bruno Pfeifraucher in 2514.|
|Vilner/Konrad Aldrech||Drakwald||Dead||Aldrech was slain around 1110 and left without a successor. As a result the province of Drakwald was divided between Nordland and Middenland. The Runefang of Drakwald was placed within the vaults of the Temple of Ulric in Middenheim.|
- Armybook: The Empire (7th Edition)
- Lure of Power (WFRP, 2nd Edition RPG), pg. 5 - 7
- Sigmar's Heirs (WFRP, 2nd Edition RPG), pg. 13 - 14
- Armybook: Warriors of Chaos (8th Edition), pg. 15