- "I can see in your eyes that you fear this enemy. I can see in your eyes that you wonder how we can fight such terrible monsters. Men of the Empire, I have the answer: We fight them with our steel, we fight them with our courage, but above all we fight them with our faith in Sigmar!"
- —Magnus the Pious, former General of the Empire's Army
Empire Generals are amongst the highest commanding officers within an Imperial army, second only in command to an Elector Count or the Emperor himself. To command an army requires the courage to send men to their deaths without doubt or hesitation. The armies of the Empire are led by those warriors, usually members of the Imperial nobility or even, in rare cases, the Emperor Karl Franz himself, trained to direct their forces as a swordsman wields his blade. As with all men, however, these commanders can differ in their levels of skill and courage, with some, like the extraordinarily fierce Elector Count of Middenheim, Boris Todbringer, embodying the unwavering valor of the people of Sigmar Heldenhammer. Others are little more than highborn fops, yet still possess the right to command men in battle because of an accident of birth. The castles of these generals are hung with banners from ancient times that were once borne into battle during the glorious days of their noble ancestors. Especially wealthy Imperial nobles may even own a banner that has been woven with powerful enchantments, and such works of magic are proudly carried into battle despite the poor reputation witchery has in the Empire in general.[1a]
The Empire has always been a dangerous land, and never more so than at the present time, with marauding Beastmen, Orc tribes and even rival Imperial nobles pillaging its towns and slaughtering its people, often with impunity. The Elector Counts must stand against such foes, though in practice it is not feasible for them to personally command every one of the forces that must be dispatched in their names. Command is often delegated to a trusted soldier considered to be an honourable leader of men, and this officer will lead the province's troops into battle. Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule and some of the more militant Counts, such as Valmir von Raukov of Ostland, have a great love for the clash of steel and the roar of the cannons. These leaders take to the field of battle whenever they can. Most of the men appointed by the Elector Count to lead their province's armies will also be nobles of the Empire, such as Aldebrand Ludenhof of Hochland, educated in martial pursuits from an early age -- hunting Beastmen in the Imperial forests, and engaging in falconry and swordsmanship.[1a]
Others, however, are commoners who have risen through the ranks as a result of their ability on the field, perhaps having first stood in the battle line themselves wielding a bloody halberd or greatsword. These officers vary greatly in rank, depending on the size of the force they lead, and are usually known within the Empire as captains, marshals, generals or sometimes simply commanders. Regardless of their social status, they will be tested veterans of many years of experience in soldiering, having spent most of their lives practicing the arts of war in defence of their besieged homelands. Generals of the Empire are varied in the arms and armour they like to wield and wear; some make use of melee weapons, while others prefer ranged weapons like the longbow, crossbow, or firearms like the pistol, the most impressive of Generals can wield the mighty Drakwald Runefang sitting in the Imperial Vault. Generals of the Empire can choose to wear light armour, heavy armour or even Dwarf forged Full Plate Armour if they prefer wading head first into action, they can bolster this already strong defence by equiping a shield. While most ride powerful warhorses into battle, some of the greatest nobles of the Empire who serve as generals for the Elector Counts ride winged Imperial Pegasi into combat, or they may even ride Griffons like the Emperor himself, their enchanted banners streaming out behind them in the wind. Such a spectacle is always an enormous morale booster for Imperial troops.[1a]