AoS: A Look Inside Malign Portents

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Come join the BoLS crew as we take a look through the new Malign Portents book.

A baleful, skull-like moon hangs in the sky. Handfuls of comets streak across the heavens, portending doom and war for the mortal realms. And in the Realm of Shyish, the undead stretch numberless across the sands, driven to some great and inscrutable plan by the will of their dark master, the grim visage lurking behind every vision,  every omen: Nagash.

The Time of Tribulations is upon us. But fortunately, in this age of Malign Portents, we have a handy guide to help you figure out what it all means (spoiler alert: nothing good). So come join us as takeb you through Malign Portents, the new book for Age of Sigmar.

This book is pretty exciting. If you’ve been following the stories and watching the videos, you know that Malign Portents has been setting up the next big conflict with a pretty strong narrative throughline. We’ve been getting a look at one event from different perspectives–from mortal perspectives, which has been pretty cool.

And in this book you’ll find that same many-faceted examination of the Time of Tribulations. There’s opinions by the Chaos gods, from the heroes and horrors wrapped up in the fight. And a better idea of what exactly that upside down pyramid is for.

But in addition to expanding the Lore and kind of grounding it through how the Mortal Realms work with each other, Malign Portents adds new rules and options for playing Age of Sigmar. It’s got new battleplans, new rules for fighting in the Realm of Death (similar to the rules for fighting in the Realm of Beasts), and then there are the namesake rules. The rules for interpreting the Malign Portents.

These rules are optional, but they give you some new tactical choices–every army generates “prophecy points” every round which they can use to accomplish various effects like reducing enemy movement or bravery–but each set of effects is determined by a Guiding Portent which changes from round to round.

And each of the Harbingers has their own special set of portents they can always choose accompanying their rules. All in all, this book seems fairly exciting, and it makes me want to go grab a Death army and take to Shyish.

Malign Portents$25

It began with unsettling dreams, and unnatural lights in the sky. Tempers frayed, families fractured and rulers became irate as their subjects fell to distraction and gossip. There was something in the air, they said; some malediction that threatened to turn the disquiet into dread. Waking nightmares spread across every land, promising a deathly face or the terror of oblivion. Traders and explorers carried ominous accounts through Realmgates only to find those on the other side bore disturbing stories of their own. This period became known as the Time of Tribulation, and it was well-named.

Malign Portents is an 80-page hardback book containing background and rules which catapult the mortal realms into a time of grim uncertainty, as Nagash begins an aeons-long grand plan to assert his power over the dead, spreading the necrotic influence of Shyish over every realm. Of course, the visions of disaster this plan is causing have not gone unnoticed – Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, Slaanesh, the Horned Rat and Sigmar himself are affected by these portents, and every faction in the mortal realms is moving against the undead hordes of Nagash.

Contained within:

Background

– A brief history of the Age of Sigmar, from the apocalyptic death of the world-that-was to Sigmar’s discovery of the mortal realms, his reign of peace, the ascendance of Chaos that tore his empires down and the glorious vengeance of Azyr during the Realmgate Wars;
– The visions and phenomena that plague the realms, as scryers and wizards across the realms see visions of a grim future – the dead reanimated and marching to total war, expanding the influence of Shyish to grim ends;
– Introduction of the Warscryer Citadels – potent sources of celestial magic hurled down by Sigmar himself that, when mastered, grant the power of prophecy;
– Introductions to the 4 champions introduced with Malign Portents, 1 for each Grand Alliance – the Lord-Ordinator, the Darkoath Warqueen, the Knight of Shrouds and the Fungoid Cave-Shaman;
– The history of the realm of Shyish, also known as the realm of Death, an overview of Nagash’s grand plan, and an insight into the disastrous consequences should this plan go unopposed;
– The Doomed March: Nagash’s plan has come to the attention of many, and whole armies have been mobilised to invade Shyish – this is the story of just how badly that has gone so far;
– A timeline of key battles and events leading up to the time depicted in Malign Portents;
– A miniatures showcase featuring armies, depictions of key battles, and examples of fantastically painted miniatures by the ‘Eavy Metal painting team

Rules

– The Time of Tribulations: a selection of optional rules for Open, Narrative and Matched Play games of Warhammer Age of Sigmar, which allow you to recreate the battles of this inauspicious time, including:
– Realm of Battle: Shyish, the Realm of Death: rules which help you set your battles in this deathly realm, including Realmscape rules, the new spell Pall of Doom, new Command Abilities and The Power of Death – effects which come into play whenever a unit is slain in the realm of Shyish;
– The Malign Portents: these are 6 dark omens caused by the cataclysmic nature of Nagash’s grand undertaking that befall heroes in Warhammer Age of Sigmar, each omen itself consisting of 6 effects that can aid them by using Prophecy Points in their battles – with bonuses for using Harbingers, the 4 new characters introduced in the book;
– Skirmish Battles: rules for fighting Skirmishes in Shyish, including the use of Malign Portents, Command Abilities, Artefacts of Power, Mysterious Terrain and Rewards of Battle (including Magic of Shyish, 3 extra spells for Wizards), along with a Battleplan featuring objectives, setup instructions and victory conditions;
– 3 Narrative Battleplans, each featuring objectives, setup instructions, victory conditions and special rules;
– 2 Pitched Battles, each featuring set-up instructions, use of Triumphs, rules for generating prophecy points, victory conditions and additional rules if both players bring a Harbinger as part of their armies;
– 4 Warscrolls, 1 each for the 4 new characters – the Lord-Ordinator, the Darkoath Warqueen, the Knight of Shrouds and the Fungoid Cave-Shaman – along with their special rules for interpreting the Malign Portents and directing the will of the gods into their battles;
– A Warscroll of the Warscryer Citadel, a scenery piece which allows those who hold it to glimpse the future; – Pitched battle profiles for the 4 Harbingers.

Skull omens, bone portents, even the magic 8 ball has gone necromantic with its ravings.

 

  • Drpx

    This better not be End Times 2.0

    • Severius_Tolluck

      That would be a hoot. Tons on here would cheer it seems. However what would come, the old stuff again, or all is one, and it becomes the origins of 40k? lol

      • euansmith

        “… and only Sigmar survived, stumbling from the collapsing hellscape of the Mortal Realms, and emerging on to the arid hills of Anatolia. Turning to the heavens, he shook his fist and cried, “Not again!””

        • ZeeLobby

          Man, i just got a shiver tho!

          • euansmith

            I’m thinking that the Emperor mini would have to be based on Charlton Heston.

        • Hagwert

          Aaaagghh…don’t put ideas in their heads !

    • Mathew G. Smith

      Nagash seeks not to destroy, but to conquer. To be master of the unthinking dead and their blasted lands.

    • Drew

      To my mind, End Times was a great story, except that they rebooted the world into a half-baked setting (they’re correcting it now, but at launch, it’s very clear they didn’t have a cohesive vision of what was happening and struggled to communicate what vision they DID have to players).

      What they could (and should) have done is let the Old World fall to Chaos, then send the Stormcasts in after a hundred (thousand?) years of darkness to try to retake it. You could even work in things like the Kharadrons as Dwarven sky-holds who held out through all the awfulness high above the lands below. There’s really nothing from AoS that couldn’t have been launched in such a setting, and it would have benefitted from BOTH this surge of new creativity AND the years and years of rich history the Warhammer World had built up.

      With grounding in the Old World, suddenly the End Times (which were cool in their own right) become an awesome transition piece, and the Realmgate Wars matter a lot more because the heroes are fighting to retake places like Middenheim, Athel-Loren, Nuln, Couronne, etc. that people actually care about, rather than featureless, background-less places randomly scattered throughout inconsistently-mapped realms.

      I’m a “live and let live” kind of guy, so I’m not “Long live Warhammer Fantasy!-ing” all over the web- I’m enjoying AoS and I’m grateful that GW now seems to be trying to actually establish a meaningful setting with specific locales (they still have a LONG way to go here, but they’re working on it), but it makes me sad how much cooler it COULD have been…

      • Hagwert

        That’s a really good idea , a period when chaos ruled the Old World before a fight back. What state would the reconquered Empire etc. be in….would chaos have covered everything or would some further regions like Araby, Nippon or the southlands have held out …endless possibilities for a reboot and introduction of new and re jigged factions.

      • Ghachii

        What you’re describing is almost exactly what happened. The only difference is the level of destruction wrought by Chaos.

        In your version, the surface of the world is ruined beyond recognition and we pick things up right there thousands of years later in what for all intents and purposes would have become a different setting with a few elements still kicking around from the old one.

        In GW’s version the entire world exploded and a new system of worlds coalesced from the supernova-like explosion – but with various elements of the previous world being saved by fantastical means. The practical outcome really isn’t so different.

        What I’m saying is, the story is still a continuation, not a reboot, and characters, events and places from the World That Was are still regularly referenced in the lore and the fiction.

        • Drew

          That’s not at all what I’m describing. I know the AoS lore well, and while there are characters described as somehow surviving the destruction of the Old World (somehow…), the locations are pretty much gone. There’s an occasional memory of one, but there aren’t “chunks of Altdorf” scattered around or anything like that.

          Unfortunately, the practical difference between what emerged from the supernova you’re describing and a battle to retake an existing setting is massive and exactly what I’m talking about. The former has been disappointing compared to what the latter could have been.

          • Ghachii

            If the ‘battle to retake the existing setting’ took place thousands of years later, during which time everything has been torn down and corrupted by Chaos, then not only would no one alive have any memory of the Warhammer world, but almost every aspect of the world would be completely different. There wouldn’t be any ‘chunks of Altdorf’ lying around, at least none large or well preserved enough to build any kind of meaningful plot around. For all intents and purposes that *is* a different setting. It’s just as fundamental a shift as what actually happened.

          • Drew

            It’s not, though, because even if Altdorf is unrecognizable, the name means something to the players- it’s something worth fighting over (much more than the “random name GW just made up, didn’t flesh out, but expects us to care about” that dominated the first year and a half of the AoS setting).

            Also, there’s nothing saying that a thousand years of darkness would have completely obliterated everything that came before.

            I’m not disagreeing with you about the practical effect of “no, it wouldn’t be the same Altdorf,” but there would 100% be a resonance with the players and the old setting to provide connection and meaning that are absent in the new setting.

          • Ghachii

            I disagree. What’s more meaningful when as a player you’re trying to embrace the narrative of the setting and give your troops a reason to fight? Setting your battles in a barren, nondescript wasteland that just happens to be in the place on the map where a city once stood that almost no one in the setting could possibly remember? Or setting your battles in the area around Hammerhal where the ordinary folk need to defend their hard-won Free City against those who want to crush it and them to dust?

            As for the idea that there might still be something recognisable left, that doesn’t make much sense. Think about how little we find in the real world from thousands of years ago – and even that has to be searched for and studied by the modern disciplines of science and archaeology to A) discover it and B) make any sense of it. And that’s in a world that hasn’t been subject to the full destructive and reality-warping force of the Realm of Chaos for millennia. Joe Tribesman, who spends every second of his existence trying to avoid being murdered by roving hordes of daemons, isn’t about to go on an archaeological expedition to dig the foundations of Altdorf out from under 10 feet of Chaos-tainted soil.

            Whether the surface of the world comes under the dominion of the Realm of Chaos, or the entire planet explodes, any version of the End Times in which Chaos wins can only result in the complete destruction of civilisation and the total corruption of whatever remains afterwards. That’s what ultimate victory for Chaos looks like.

            The only scenario in which anything of Altdorf survives is a scenario in which the End Times don’t come to pass. So sorry, but your whole ‘End Times-lite’ idea is a non-starter. What you’re actually asking for is a massive world-spanning punch up that ends with Chaos causing loads of damage but ultimately not quite winning – that’s not the End Times, that’s Storm of Chaos. It’s been done. It didn’t work out.

          • Drew

            Well, we’re clearly in “to each their own” territory here.

            I feel as if you’ve set up a straw man argument here- I never said the armies are just fighting over a barren wasteland where a city used to be (though I’ll point out that until almost a year into AoS when GW finally started adding cities to their map, that’s pretty much what their narrative was); I said retaking the lost lands of old. So instead of Hammerhal, a city that at the time it was introduced was barely described and still has only been middlingly fleshed out, you have a New Middenheim, a city whose new inhabitants are BOTH fighting to defend their new, hard-won home AND rediscovering the traditions of what came before from the ruins, rubble, and scraps of lore they’ve unearthed. In other words, taking the best of the Old World and marrying it to the best of Age of Sigmar’s setting.

            In any case, my original point still stands- I feel there was a way to borrow from the world that came before in a way that both fulfilled the End Times story and gave a greater connection back to the setting that made Warhammer what it was. There’s a lot more GW could have done with remnants from the Old World, either by setting the game in the Old World a thousand years later or by actually doing something with the concept of survivors beyond a few oblique references and the reuse of characters that needed to continue existing because they’d just gotten big models (Nagash, Glottkin, Gutrot Spume, etc).

  • There is plenty of room to actually put the old world back into the AOS setting actually. This is a land of myth and epic viking sagas. A portal back into the time that was is certainly a doable possibility.

    • Ghachii

      But why? Is the introduction of time travel really going to enrich the AoS setting, or just make it more hackneyed and confusing? I’d suggest the latter. Come to that, is having the AoS setting come barging into Old World really going to satisfy the small handful of die-hard malcontents who want everything back just as it was? No.

      The World That Was is still there for those who want to explore it and play in it – it’s in 30 years worth of background book and novels. It’s as real and accessible today as it was five years ago. There’s nothing whatsoever to be gained from trying to turn back the clock.

      • For some people, yes it will enrich the background.

        There’s nothing to be gained in your opinion, but in others’ opinions it would do a ton.

        And I can think of a good half dozen story hooks right now that involve time travel to go pick up an artifact or whatever in the old world that is now lost to time but needed to justify it.

        • Ghachii

          Not all opinions are equal. This is a terrible idea. I can think of no greater example of hackneyed shark-jumping than this.

          • Thats the magic of opinions. One person’s terrible idea is another person’s treasure.

  • Matthew Pomeroy

    I miss Marco 🙁

    • BaronVonYoloing

      He’s really dropping the ball lately.

    • I know right? I was all prepped with my screamiing into the hurricane gif and everything!

      • I’m sure AoS’s surprise success has broken a lot of WHFB players brains; another will be along to fill the void soon

        • I miss the old WHFB for battles that felt like actual battles. I’m not a super fan of AOS either but I guess I just don’t see the point in screaming into the void every day lol.