Part of what I love in wargaming is the ability to add background to pad out the armies. Backstories for characters and units take the pieces of plastic from toys to pieces of tales told on the tabletop.
Now with my Chaos Dwarfs/Infernal Dwarfs/Abyssal Dwarfs army I thought I would start with the head honcho himself, and then build up from there.
Lord Ahkalaz the Inextinguishable
To the east of Volksgrad lies the Wastelands. Here untold numbers of warbands and armies try and stake their claim to lands in the names of many Gods and leaders. From this harsh existence come stronger creatures, forever sharpened against the whetstone of hardship.
Ahkalaz began in the ranks of Infernal Dwarf Lord Izekhar the Oppressor. Driving forward vast hordes of slaves into battle, Ahkalaz learned warfare through the bloodshed of lesser races. His ascent was built on a staircase of blood and bone, toil and sweat. Hundreds of miles driving forward orcs, humans and enslaved Western Dwarves to further his craft and prove his loyalty to Lord Izekhar. His cunning nature shone on these raids, Izekhar’s forces swelling with hundreds of Orcs after an Ahkalaz led ambush attack on the Warboss’s retinue.
Ahkalaz’s troops attacked a trade caravan in northern Sagarika. Amongst the jewels, gold and trinkets lay a small obsidian orb. A spiral seemed to move within the orb, with faint voices calling out to Ahkalaz. They told promises of glory, riches and power. Ahkalaz had the orb attached to his helmet like a cyclopean eye in the middle. Better to hear their whispered promises.
Over the next 30 moons Ahkalaz led his forces back to Izekhar, all the while listening to the mysterious speaker. As his confidence grew so did his arrogance. He refused to kneel to Izekhar, attacking him with ferocity usually found from his berserker cousins. The rest of the forces knelt or were enslaved, with Ahkalaz adding the loyal to his bodyguard.
Staking his claim to the trade routes near the Ashen Desert, Ahkalaz decked himself with assorted gawdy trinkets and jewels. Over time he began to believe that the orb had chosen him and the voices were from a God and moved the orb from a helmet to a crown. His temper became erratic, casting out to the desert those that dared look at the orb or him in the eyes.
However the news of a crown wearing upstart caught the attention of many other Infernal Dwarf Lords, as they are a race prone to jealousy and pride. Ahkalaz was called to a council of the Infernal Dwarf Lord Ishbaknul . Believing this to be a unification of forces to invade Vetia he marched his entire forces to the meeting, akin to a grand parade. The voices grew stronger as he got closer. They warned of betrayal. But Ahkalaz was to fall victim to his hubris, he believed himself above the other Dwarfs, and was there to prove such.
As he entered Ishbaknul’s grand tent he was set upon by numerous Dwarfs. Calling out for his bodyguard, he turned to find them stood with sheathed weapons. Unbeknown to Ahkalaz they had been turned.
Turned with promises of glory.
With his body almost broken from the assault the voice from the orb cried out to be released. Weakly Ahkalaz removed the symbol of his rule and threw it to the ground. Flames erupted from the orb and engulfed Ahkalaz. The voices inside came from a djinn, granting him the wishes he had of power. In a tornado of fire the almighty djinn engulfed Ahkalaz’s army, leaving both him and army as ashes on the wind.
Whether gift or curse, Ahkalaz was reborn with an internal fire. The djinn granted destiny that Ahkalaz seeks causes him to never die, immortal until the day he conquers the Eastern world and unites all the Infernal Dwarfs under his rule. Yet the curse racks him with nightmares of living in a world of eternal fire, mental scars from the djinn’s power. In these dreams he leads an army of ash warriors while his skin burns in excruciating fire.
If Ahkalaz falls in battle a grand pyre is erected with his body placed on top. One thousand captors and slaves are chained to posts around the fire before it is set aflame. Incantations from the sorcerers are performed as the flames lick Ahkalaz’s body. As the captors and slaves wail, spirits emerge from the fire, reinvigorating his body with power from the dark Gods. As the last spirit enters the flames disappear, leaving only ashes and bone around Ahkalaz. Then with one final incantation he rises from his resting place and once again tops his gilded throne. All this serves no purpose but to stoke Ahkalaz’s ego. With each reincarnation Ahkalaz becomes more focused on his goal. But for victory, or for death, no one can know for sure.
On the Tabletop
To use the character in different systems I added the nightmare part. Having this as an “out” lets me use him as special characters in Kings of War, Warhammer Fantasy or Age of Sigmar, while using him as a generic Lord of Fire in The Ninth Age.
I am using The Ninth Age as my default setting as I think this is the system with the most room for manoeuvre in lore writing, not burdened with the 30+ years of Games Workshop background.
Model wise for Ahkalaz I am still looking. Steering towards the Khurin model from Lost Kingdom Miniatures. Basing will be Ash Desert themed, with ash warpaint on Berzerkers and Centaurs. Armour will be a burnished steel with flame emblems on shields and banners.
As I have implied that Ahkalaz started as a slave raider I am looking at using them heavily in the force. Especially a Slave Giant for use with Goblin “allies” in Kings of War.
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