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"Forever there shall be cold under the sun, Rivers will run dry and the forests wither, The stars shall grow dim, flicker and die, And death shall reign from forever to forever."
—From the Black Curse of the Necrarchs
Necrach warpstone

A Necrarch crouching atop its latest victim, prize in hand.

The Necrarchs are the most learned of Vampires, more skilled at sorcery than with the blade. These skills have come at a price, however. The appearance of the Necrarchs has grown so hideous and unnatural that an ordinary man cannot bear to look upon them, and many run screaming at the sight. When their great library was burned to the ground by fearful mortals, many Necrarchs remained to burn with it, so strong was their devotion to knowledge.[1a]

History

Of all the trueborn Vampires, only W'soran, founder of the Necrarch bloodline and so-called “Father of Vampires,” was truly loyal to Nagash. Neferata worshipped Nagash for a time but felt betrayed by his choice of Vashanesh over her to lead the Vampires, and the others chose to ally with Nagash only out of convenience. So it was that when Nagash fell, W’soran was the only trueborn at his side to lay claim to the Great Necromancer’s works. With these, and a select group of Nagash’s acolytes, W’soran fled from the Land of the Dead to continue working towards Nagash’s dream in safety.[1a]

W’soran began work on the Grimoire Necronium, which contained not only a distillation of Nagash’s magic but also a series of prophecies showing W’soran’s vision of the future: a world of bones populated only by the dead and ruled by his bloodline. There was one flaw with this dream of an empire of corpses — the lack of sources of blood. Thus, W’soran searched for ways to relieve himself of the red thirst. Powerful necromantic magic made him less dependent on feeding than other Vampires, so he could go for months or years without blood. There was a price, however. His reliance on pure Dark Magic, rather than blood alone, to give him power caused his visage to grow hideous and corpse-like.[1a]

When W’soran granted the Blood Kiss to his aging acolytes, this curse was passed to them as well. By drawing on the power of True Dhar to a far greater degree than other Vampires, their forms grew as twisted as their master’s. Over time, their minds twisted along with their bodies, and many sank into madness. One such unfortunate was Melkhior, greatest of W’soran’s apprentices, who slew and ate his master.[1a]

Fearing for their unlives after this coup, the Necrarchs separated. Each suffered paranoid delusions, and although they all worked towards the same end, none of them trusted each other. They settled in all the nations of the Old World, and the paranoid rantings that passed for communications between them slowly grew silent.[1a]

Estalia was the chosen land of Nourgul, who had been with W’soran and Nagash in their earliest days. Even then, he dreamed of conquest and had observed Nagash’s techniques and tactics closely. In 1750 he followed through on his plans, raised an army of the dead tens of thousands strong, and waged war on the petty kingdoms of Estalia. Wherever he conquered, he gathered grimoires and artefacts, from the pettiest trinkets to the most potent tomes. His ultimate aim was to possess the Tome of Wisdom, which was kept in the city of Magritta. Nourgul’s army laid siege to the city for a month, at the end of which the defenders fell strangely silent. Victorious, Nourgul flew into the city on his steed, a gigantic Vampire Bat, and entered the temple of Myrmidia where the Tome of Wisdom was housed. It was in that temple, beside the book he so prized, that his burnt ashes were found. No one has ever explained this turn of events.[1a]

Far to the north, in the Forest of Shadows, Melkhior the Ancient pursued the Necrarchs’ dream in a much more subdued fashion. Now hopelessly mad, he saw little but his bizarre visions, occasionally going on a rampage amongst his servants to avoid the tedium. One of these servants, the Necrarch Zacharias, sought to repeat Melkhior’s defeat of W’soran and fought Melkhior in a magical duel. Melkhior was the victor, but years later Zacharias returned, somehow vastly more powerful than he had been, and had his revenge on Melkhior.[1a]

Such is the Necrarch way. They are masters of necromancy, alchemy, and all of the natural philosophies but are hampered by the depth of their madness and distrust.[1a]

Prophecies and Machinations

Necrarch scroll

A Necrach reading through ancient and forbidden lore

Ever since W'soran had his grand vision of a future made of bones and dead flesh, his Necrarchs have placed great store in prophecy and fate. They spend much time attempting to divine the future, peering through the mists of time and recording their visions. Melkhior the Ancient painted his visions onto canvases of flesh, some of which still screamed at his touch, but most prefer to record such things in tomes like the Grimoire Necronium.[1a]

To bring about the fate seen in these prophecies, the Necrarchs conduct their research into the living and the Undead so that they may more fully understand how one is made into the other in preparation for the day when all of the living become their eternal servants. At Geheimnisnacht, when both moons are full, the Necrarchs cast dark spells to blight the land, sucking the life out of an area and bringing their plans closer, one patch of scorched earth at a time.[1a]

Society

The preferred dwellings of Necrarchs are forbidding towers in the wilderness. There are several reasons for this. The vantage point of a tall tower gives greater access to Azyr, the Blue Wind of Magic, which the Necrarchs observe to gain insights into the future. A tower is easily defensible, and given their relative lack of a need for blood, the Necrarchs prefer to shy away from civilisation. Most of all, whether they admit it or not, dwelling at the base of the heavens brings the Necrarchs closer to what they see themselves as: Gods. Of all the Vampires, Necrarchs are the most interested in the Undead as replacements for the living, which they see as the weak and flawed creations of weak and flawed Gods. Their towers are shared with improved forms of life, their own monstrous necromantic creations. These patchwork creatures are created from flesh and inanimate objects melded with dark sorceries and forced into a twitching semblance of life.[1a]

As well as such necromantic experimenting, Necrarchs seek to master a variety of natural philosophies, depending on their inclinations. A Necrarch may be a master of astronomy, alchemy, engineering, or any of the sciences as a matter of course. They are also masters of self-knowledge. Necrarchs know the strengths and weaknesses of their own kind better than any, and perhaps, this is another reason for their isolation. Betrayal is a constant threat to the Necrarchs. They jealously hoard knowledge from each other; their children-in-darkness are often their apprentices — and it is in the nature of apprentices to seek to surpass their masters even if it means theft and murder. This division is what has prevented them from conquering a nation of their own. Apart from Nourgul’s march across Estalia, most Necrarchs refrain from short-term empire-building, preferring to dream of a future free of the living and slowly build their own miniature kingdoms of the Undead and the outcast.[1a]

Outcasts are drawn to Necrarchs. Mutants and other freaks find acceptance that they could never find amongst humans. These dregs of society serve as lab assistants, occasional food sources, experimental subjects, and potential apprentices. They also venture out for supplies and protect their masters during daylight hours, as well as invite Necrarchs across thresholds.[1a]

Feeding and Breeding

Necrarchs feel the need to drink blood only rarely. They may go for months or even years without it. When they do feed, it is often on the outcasts they surround themselves with. However, this is not always the case. Some Necrarchs prefer to glut themselves when they feed, bringing along their servants to help them gain access to the abodes of the living, wherein they slay entire families in mad bloodlust before returning to their towers to pass away the next few years in quiet study before they must feed again.[1a]

Necrarchs make a point of studying their own thirst for blood. Reducing the frequency with which they feed is not enough; they seek to ultimately free themselves of the thirst completely. Thus far, only Zacharias the Everliving has found the secret to this. Other Necrarchs have experimented with turning themselves into mobile nexuses of Dark Magic, replacing the need for blood with a need for warpstone, or recreating the Elixir of Life to Nagash’s original recipe, but all have failed. Many have failed catastrophically, becoming even more warped than they already are. They become bloated abominations that cannot walk, bestial creatures worse than the Strigoi, awful things like Chaos Spawn with impossible forms too bizarre to hold together.[1a]

Necrarchs typically choose their most gifted apprentices to receive the Blood Kiss. It is rare for a Necrarch to find one they feel safe in granting this power to, as it may be turned against them. This is why they are the least numerous of the bloodlines. Newly turned Necrarchs do not gain their twisted appearance immediately, but it does not take long. Within a month they have been reduced to skeletal figures of nightmare. In these early days of their existence, they hunger for blood as much as a normal Vampire, drinking large quantities to power the second transformation from monster to abomination. This harrowing experience often shatters what little sanity they have left.[1a]

During this time, they also develop the powerful Witchsight of the Necrarchs. They see the spirits of the dead as clearly as if they were solid, and the Winds of Magic appear more real than the sky or the trees. Conversely, the real world appears insubstantial and barely there. This causes the Necrarchs to become disconnected from the world. As the endless years pass, they begin treating their surroundings as totally irrelevant.[1a]

Traditionally, Necrarchs take a Nehekharan name upon joining their ranks, leaving their old name behind along with their old life. This custom is shared by those necromancers who dedicate themselves to Nagash.[1a]

Source

  • 1 Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Night's Dark Masters
    • 1a pg. 59 - 61.
  • Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (5th Edition)
  • pg. 15
  • Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (6th Edition)
  • pg. 16
  • pg. 17
  • pg. 18
  • pg. 19
  • pg. 55
  • Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (7th Edition)
  • pg. 24
  • pg. 25
  • pg. 26
  • pg. 29
  • pg. 30
  • pg. 31
  • Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (8th Edition)
  • pg. 22
  • pg. 23
  • The End Times II - Glottkin
  • Warhammer RPG 2nd Edition: Night's Dark Masters
  • pgs. 59 - 66
  • Warhammer RPG 2nd Edition: Old World Bestiary
  • pgs. 116 - 117
  • White Dwarf Magazine Nº 256
  • pgs. 60 - 62
  • White Dwarf Magazine Nº 257
  • pgs. 60 - 65
  • Curse of the Necrarch (Novel), by Steven Savile

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