The Iron Daemon War Engine is one of the latest Daemon Engine in the service of the Dawi-Zhaar. The Chaos Dwarfs possess a mastery of steam technology that far surpasses that of the engineers of the Empire. Their steam-driven devices are used first and foremost in the great mines that pit and scar the ash-strewn Plain of Zharr and the deep workings that riddle the earth beneath it like worms in rotting fruit. Here they drive great tunnelling and crushing machines, their flanks rusty with the blood of the slaves that toil to feed them. Beside these, other grand machines hammer and roar night and day.
To retrieve their mineral wealth, small self-powered steam engines and traction carriages have been constructed to haul ore in lieu of beasts of burden such as horses or oxen which soon perish in the treacherous conditions, and in places where slave labour is impractical or inefficient. The Dwarfs of Zharr prefer to place their trust in iron and brass and in fire and steam rather than muscle and bone. So it was not long before these engines were also deployed due to their obvious merits for hauling cannon, rockets, mortars and other destructive weapons to the battlefield rather than ore or iron ingots. The driving power behind these engines comes from coal, which the Chaos Dwarfs mine in great quantities beneath the Plain of Zharr and then infuse in arcane rites so that it burns hotter and far more constantly than naturally possible. Their furnaces will however willingly devour wood or other base materials if they happen to be the only available source of fuel with a temporarily acceptable loss in performance. Among the slaves of Zharr-Naggrund though, rumours abound of engines that run on blood, ground bones and screaming spirits, and such ingenuity is certainly not beyond the devious and inventive servants of Hashut.[1a]
One of the latest designs to see widespread service within the Chaos Dwarf empire is the Iron Daemon, a compact, armoured steam-driven traction engine. The steam boilers that provide these machines with motive power to haul heavy armaments and munitions to the battlefield are cunningly designed so that they can also be used to work pressure-fed weapons such as cannonades and wall-breakers. This means that every Iron Daemon is also a powerful war machine in its own right - a fully mobile artillery piece or murderous killing engine able to smash through fortifications and hack down ranks of living soldiers with equal ease.[1a]
However, although the Chaos Dwarfs are skillful and determined artisans, their engines are not yet so sophisticated as to be completely reliable or entirely safe to operate in the anarchic field of battle. Drazhoath had already met with great success in implementing the use of these deadly and versatile engines within the forces of the Black Fortress when Tamurkhan's horde descended from the east. He then swiftly decided when the bargain with the Chaos Lord was struck to make these machines the centre of his expeditionary force, and was eager to test their performance in traversing the hostile mountains and cities of the west. In particular he was keen to see them in battle against the vaunted war machines he knew the Empire was said to possess and he would not be disappointed.[1a]
The Iron Daemon may be equipped with the following weapons (as well as the ones towed on the steam carriages behind it):[1b]
- Steam Cannonade - Powered by the channelled pressure of the Iron Daemon's furnace, a steam cannonade is a twin cannon used to blast a lethal storm of red-hot shrapnel and curse-laden shot into the ranks of the enemy.[1b]
- Skullcracker - Designed for crushing fortifications and walls, the Skullcracker is a hissing and grinding arcane-mechanical conglomeration of iron hammers, hacking blades and brutal picks designed to literally pulverise and shred anything unfortunate enough to be caught in front of the machine.[1b]