The Morsa

An example of Bestia Morsavum, the Morsa in common.

The Morsa are widely spread across Yss, lurking wherever there are high vantage points that they can use to ambush their prey. Individually Morsa are easily intimidated and driven off, but bold when in numbers. A pack of Morsa will spend days or weeks surveilling their prey and the surrounding area, plotting and planning their strike with precision, and accessing their targets strength. During that time they will engage in terror tactics to put their prey on edge, most commonly using their throat sacks to create a terrifying cacophony during the night to prevent their quarry from sleeping and keeping them on edge. These displays are also used to convey information to and from the individual members of the pack, as each Morsa have their own tone. 

Once everything is in place the pack moves in one decisive strike. Each member gliding from their positions down onto their prey in the night, slashing with crude blades and their razor sharp black claws in a vicious frenzied attack. Should the ambush go well the pack will pick clean the corpses and pillage anything they desire and then return to their nests up in the heights. Should it start going wrong the pack will scatter and flee on foot at speed. 

Morsa are not particularly graceful, their bodies are heavy and their winged arms are not designed for true flight, hence them gliding down to their prey and fleeing on foot. In combat they are rather clumsy and brutish. They tend to lash out with blades and claws at anything that is in range, simply hoping that the fury of their attacks will breach an opponent’s defences. If the Morsa terror tactics have worked, their prey is often tired, irrational and confused; which often leads to this frenzied attack leaving them a bloody mess ripe for the picking.    

My only advice to travellers venturing through the darkest woods and perilous mountain passes of Yss is to move quickly and keep an eye on what’s above you, and to seek safety if you hear that terrible noise in the dark. 

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

The Cervidian

An example of Bestia Cervidae, Cervidian in common, and Ceir-du in aelvish.

A relatively common bestial form across Yss with a number of subspecies adapted to the local environments, the Cervidian pose a regular threat to provincial towns and villages that lie close to wild hinterlands and forests. 

Their herds often range over vast areas, living a highly nomadic life. They have a particular affinity for highland regions and ancient forests, hunting through fog shrouded passes and dense undergrowth. 

Their herds are often filled with young headstrong warriors seeking to make a name for themselves with acts of bloodshed and displays of prowess. As such, ruts between herd members are common prior to battle, with members blooding each other in ritual combat to show their ferocity and so they may take a prime role in the hunt at the behest of their leader. Quite often a member of the herd will challenge the Alpha, entering a rut which can only end in the death of one of the participants. The locking of antlers can last days, with each fighter pushing themselves to extremes of exhaustion, pain and injury to emerge victorious. It is not unusual for one or both participants to die locked in place. Thankfully due to these bloody ruts many a raiding herd has lost interest in their prey, or other members step up to challenge the victor which leads to the herd descending into anarchy and turning on each other.

The Grunvale and the surrounding areas have a sizable number of Cervidian herds, with a number of notable herds ranging through the forest and highlands that divide Esel and the Mere March. The Elves that reside there take exceptional measures to eradicate them, leading tireless hunts to root them out. 

For the citizens of Esel it a cruel irony that something that bears the visage of the crowns symbol should be the source of such fear. Thankfully the brave knights of Esel and their retainers have slain many of their kind over the years in defence of their loyal subjects. 

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

The Kheranox

An example of Bestia Kheranoxis, or the Kheranox.

The Kheranox are native to the savannahs and jungles of Ihlshana, though other subspecies have been noted in the frigid Isval to the far north, and the Taldegun Range in the west. 

A highly aggressive and territorial species, the Kheranox are a destructive blight on the people of Ihlshana. The nomadic peoples and the coastal cities have all felt the single minded brutality of the Kheranox. Of all the bestial forms that wander Ihlshana, they are the most feared. Their rage coupled with their thick hides make them formidable opponents, even for seasoned warriors. They show little regard for other creatures, viewing themselves as the undisputed inheritors of Ihlshana and it’s lands. The humans are interlopers to be eradicated. 

Along with the free people of Ihlshana, the Kheranox are often in conflict with other bestials and human followers of the fel gods. The beast are to be dominated, the human followers mere pretenders calling upon the primordial gods power to make up for their inherent weakness. 

The Kheranox like so many other bestials clad and armour themselves with scavenged materials and weapons. They particularly favour the tall shields and heavy wooden clubs used by the human inhabitants of Ihlshana, both free and fel.  

The only being they respect that isn’t of their kind or one of the primordial gods, is the legendary Ekuqaleni, or the First, The Alpha, The Beast of Beasts. To meet and serve under this legendary figure is an aspiration for all Kheranox. Many a young Kheranox has taken the quest to seek this creature, exiling themselves to wander Yss and find it, or die trying.

Though rare, it is quite possible for one of these creatures to be found wandering the paths of the ‘vale, or the mountainous reaches that surround it. It is best to avoid them, interfere with their wanderings at your own peril.

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

The Murrach

An example of Bestia Murrach, more commonly known as a Murrach,  Merrow, or Murr by the inhabitants of Yss. 

The Murrach are a widespread species with many variations across Yss. As an amphibious species they inhabit aquatic climes, from the deepest ocean to the great rivers and wetlands. They pose an ever present threat to seafarers and coastal settlements and regularly make forays along the great rivers raiding and reaving, capturing land dwellers for unknown reasons. The most prevalent theory is that they are a food source, mere prey to these aquatic beasts. Another is that they are used in profane rituals dedicated to their deities. whatever the case, none have returned to confirm these theories. 

From fetishes and charms found on Murr bodies, they appear to follow a pantheon that corresponds to those of the great enemy, though each is wildly different to the traditional forms known, or the variations found amongst other bestials and sentient followers. 

Physically the Murr look fairly lean, but much of their form is exceptionally dense muscle which can deceive an opponent in regards to their strength and speed. Their scaly skin provides an unexpected level of protection, and some sub classes have thick boney plates around their skulls and other areas which provide protection comparable to the steel armour used by us land dwellers. 

The most basic Murr is fully capable of tearing a man apart with its claws and teeth, but most are proficient scavengers and craftsmen. Most that reside inland and close to the coast use scavenged weapons and armour, or craft gear from the detritus of land dwellers. Those that reside in the deep seas and oceans make use of corals and the remains of sea creatures. Make no mistake, while their arms may look simple or ill maintained, they are quite deadly and fully capable of taking down a warrior in full plate if necessary. 

I advise that any incursion by Murr raiders be dealt with as quickly as possible, because for each raid they perform without resistance inevitably leads to them returning emboldened and in greater numbers, striking as regular as the tide itself. 

~ Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Theriology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din. Author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

The Kingdom of Esel

The Royal Flag of the Kingdom of Esel, featuring the Black Stag of the Hirsch family and the Fulminous Crown.

Current Head of State: King Bastian Otmar-Hirsch III.

Government Type: Absolute Monarchy

Capital: Esel-Din.

Religious Beliefs: Sigmarism.

Esel, like the rest of the nations of the Grunvale and the surrounding regions, was colonised by one of the many tribal groups displaced during the Age of Chaos. The survivors carved out their kingdoms in the relative safety of the Grunvale, it’s fertile land and abundant rivers nourishing the new realms being forged within.  Esel in the modern period consists primarily of the lands settled by the Erseven people and their allies following the free peoples victory at Hathenspeer.

For much of Esels history the kingdom was a fairly prosperous but unassuming realm, with good relations with the other kingdoms of the Grunvale. A country which embraced religious freedoms and folk of all ilk. While Sigmarism was the primary religion, as it is in many human kingdoms, offshoots of Sigmarism and the worship of other deities were readily accepted. However with the death of King Dietmar Solgwin-Hirsch things began to change. His son, King Hadda Solgwin-Hirsch embraced the mainstream Sigmarite church with fervor.

King Hadda was not a skilled military man, nor a statesman. A number of losses to raiding forces and diplomatic faux pas’s had damaged his reputation amongst the nobility and the peasantry, with whispers of coups and uprisings brewing in the court and the back-alleys of Esel-Din.  Seeking council he turned to the young head of Esel’s Sigmarite Church, Arch Sigillite Alwin Zier. Zier was a strong headed puritan, suspicious of any divergent Sigmarite cults, and disdainful of non humans. Zier encouraged Hadda to let Sigmar fully into his heart and let him guide his actions, both in times of peace and conflict and that his previous failing were a test of his character. He also suggested that part of his failing may have been, at least in part, caused by malcontents and deviants that were intent on their own plans. Hadda, having found the words to sooth his nerves and reinvigorate his resolve, began pushing his and the churches will into every facet of society.

A sweeping reformation of Esels military and religious institutions was enacted. Military units were formalised and equipped with standardised gear emblazoned with Sigmars sigils and signs, replacing the localised gear supplied by the nobility. The church did the same, garb amongst the clergy and reading material was standardised. Deviation from prescribed texts and ritual was dissuaded with a variety of methods. Alternative sects and cults dedicated to other deities were driven from  Esel, or wiped out all together. And non humans were “encouraged” to leave Esel. Of course this purge took many years, all of Hadda’s reign and much of his son Aldmar’s reign too. At the heart of the Reformation was Zier, constantly at Hadda’s side, and then overseeing the young heir Aldmar. While Hadda had embraced the church in desperation and to seek answers, Aldmar was moulded by it and breathed it, its righteousness and power hammered into him by Zier over the years.

Hadda and Aldwin were the instruments of the Sigmarite Reformation, but Alwin Zier was the one wielding their power.

His council to a desperate king transformed a moderate peaceable kingdom into a puritanical military powerhouse. Future generations of the Hirsch bloodline and Arch Sigillite Ziers successors would carry on this drive, leading to centuries of conflict and expansion in the region. The conquest of Deira and the Mere March, the Wars of the Brightwater, The Pilgrim War, the fanatical crusades named after innumerable fanatical Sigillites, the Reaving of Nordbek, and a slew of other bloody actions.  

However, all things must end, and after centuries of conflict Esel started to falter, its hold and power waned. Four hundred years ago Deira liberated itself from the rule imposed upon them via mendacious claims of blood rights and the tip of a sword. A century later the Mere March managed a devastating victory over Esel, their hold over what they considered to be nothing more than swamp dwelling sub humans was shattered and their spirit broken, and in doing so unified a disparate kingdom. And barely sixty years ago ancestral borderlands held by Esel on the Brightwater fell to forces from the Republic of Fyrdhathen after years of proxy wars and skirmishes.

In recent years Esel has been far more consolidatory and diplomatic with its neighbours. King Bastien has shown statesmanship far superior to many of his ancestors, being far more amenable and far less choleric than any that had gone before him, though still maintaining a puritan streak. He has also shown his skill at arms, leading and organising his forces so as to hunt down fel raiders and reavers that have beset the countryside in number since the latter days of his father’s reign. There are some that think Bastian to be a new kind of king for Esel, others wonder if he is merely biding his time to take back lost lands and enact a measure of vengeance on old enemies. Time will give us a full measure of his character and will………     

~ Excerpt compiled from “The Fulminous Kings: The Concise Lineage of Esel’s Royalty” by Jhez Al’Waide.

Army Suggestions.
Force Suggestion: Eselian Royal Army/Eselian Nobles House Guard: Free People, Celestial Wizards.
Alternate Force: Purification Warband: A religious themed force filled with flagellants,
priests, and witch hunters under a Sigillite leader.
Descriptor:
No gunpowder weapons preferring crossbows and bows fashioned after those used by the Stormcast (Cannons could be replaced by lightning infused weapons created by Esel’s ancient order of Storm Wizards and Master Weaponsmiths).
Esel strongly mirrors the Stormcast due to them being Sigmars’ divine warriors, so lots of lightning bolts, sigillite markings, comets etc.
The Royal Army will also include lots of Stag emblemology, often fused with Sigmarite imagery.
Plate armour for the nobility, sallet helmet with Stormcast-esque faceplates, lancers on horse
and Demi-Gryphs.
The higher the rank, the smarter they will look. Not that the Men-at-Arms are shabby. Think
Greatswords without the puffs and frills, open sallet helmet. Spears, axes, halberds, swords etc all with a similar design to those carried by the Stormcast. Appearance is everything to the Eselian military.
Colours: Blacks and Deep Reds with polished metal armour for the Royal colours. For one of the noble houses, indulge. Reference medieval schemes, old Bretonnian colours, Empire etc. Many of the house will try and tie themselves to a Stormcast Chamber, often appropriated colours and some flimsy pretext for doing so, despite Stormcast being a rarity in Yss.

~ Authored by Mark Talmer, edited by Phillip Starr.

Warmaster Budahk Chain-Gor, Lord of the Minos, Tyrant of Blood Gor Peak.

~ Warmaster Budahk Chain-Gor, Lord of the Minos, Tyrant of Blood Gor Peak.

The rise of the powerful warlord Budahk Chain-Gor is a lesson in the Minos society.
Of huge stature early in life, he soon gained the respect of dark warrior kin and orc-foe alike, due to his shrewd tactical awareness and ferocity in battle.
Minos culture has two clear methods of promotion. One is to kill the incumbent in a straight fight. The other is staggeringly subtle, and would be missed by most. A simple nod of submission and the leader submits to his superior challenger.

It is said that Budahk, having defeated a particularly cunning and brutal Orruk Warboss, laid his kill as a sacrifice before the venerated Cygor, Bogut the Unworldly.
Bogut, struck by religious fervor, then laid prostrate before Budak. A sign that Budahk had truly honoured the gods and was marked for greatness.
Upon seeing this Budahks warmaster, Hacker Bloodhorn, submitted with a simple nod, and Budahk was now Warmaster of the Northern Herds.

~ The Uilebheist Plateau, the Northern Kingdoms, and the Isle of Elthuin.

Upon killing the last rival warmaster, Gruffen the Three Armed, King of the Southern Herd, by butchering him alive and finishing him by strangling him with his chain whip, Budahk enjoys an undisputed autocracy. Having unified the Minos, the brayherds, and beasts of the Uilebheist Plateau, he has brought the Orruks to a tepid truce based upon fear, respect, and a healthy stream of trade, mostly slaves.

~Excerpt by Filib Stjerne, Scholar of Thériology at the Learning Halls of Esel-Din , and author of “The Superior Hunter’s guide to the Beastly Mind. A cultural and psychological treatise on the Gor-kin”

~ Written by Phillip Starr, edited by Mark Talmer.