Malign Portents: Agent of the Queen

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All is not well in Hammerhal. Agents of the Blood Queen twist the goings on of the mortal realms like spiders spinning webs…

The actions of the Malign Portents are far-reaching. Even Hammerhal, the Twin-Tailed City and the heart of the Stormcasts’ domain, doesn’t escape unscathed from the intrigues and omens of the Malign Portents.

In this latest story of deception and blood in the Malign Portents, we learn that Neferata, the Mortarch of Blood, has agents that span the mortal realms. One of them, the Red Widow of Toursonne, has been infiltrating the courts of Hammerhal, using her position and influence to spy on the doings of the Hammerhalian legions.

Of course, the Red Widow has been doing more than just spying–there’s talk of a destroyed fortress where the victims are hunted down like prey for the vampiric forces, and either drained of blood or crucified and reanimated to fight against their former brethren.

What’s interesting is that the deeds are hidden from the rest of the people. Neferata’s agent knows that the Azyr know what happened to the fort–but she has instead heard stories of emergency reassignments and so on to cover up the horrendous slaughter her legion of blood knights carried out.

This, combined with the rumors that spread like plague through the city, seem to have whipped up the mortal inhabitants of the Twin-Tailed city into a frenzy of fear and confusion. And though Neferata’s agent hasn’t yet made it to the highest echelons of Hammerhalian society–one of her pawns is rising. Whatever else happens, the coming war will shake every part of the mortal realms to its core.

Go read the story for yourself, it’s another look at what’s going on around in the “mortal” part of the mortal realms, which we have been getting more and more glimpses of thanks to the videos. We’ve collated the rest of the stories as well if you want to take a look at those.

And with the Dread Solstice at hand, Death might be able to rise to prominence. Though I’m eager to see how exactly the storyline moves forward with the new campaign model they’re using.

Either way, AoS has been a pretty slow, long burn in terms of developments and Malign Portents is already trying to shake-up the status quo with the Lore that’s being added. Whatever else comes next, we’re excited to see it.

Does anyone else taste pennies?

  • Marco

    Long live Warhammer Fantasy and the Old World!!

    • Jonathon Runge

      The only good parts of AoS are what came from fantasy. That’s why they have to call back and rely so heavily on it more and more. AoS does not have the multimedia potential that Fantasy does.

      • EnTyme

        Show us on the doll where the Mortal Realms touched you.

        • orionburn III

          In muh feelz. Right in the feelz.

        • Jonathon Runge

          My wallet and hobby time. GW dropped a product line I was interested and killed the potential my gaming group had for any of their products outside of occasional 40K. Setting is what keeps us interested. As much as I hear about AoS success search engine data indicates that the name and brand recognition is for Fantasy; and AoS sales are dissacociated from setting interest.

          • AEZ

            It’s the same setting which has slightly progressed 😀

        • Hagwert

          In my gonads…with a very bony kneecap !

      • Of course thats a subjective opinion, not one shared by a great many of people enjoying the new setting more.

        The fantasy juggernaut wasn’t selling. Except for on the 2nd hand market. The AOS setting seems to be selling exponentially better than whfb did. For a business, thats all that matters.

        • Simon

          It’s just a shame that they couldn’t invest in the community support or successful strategic marketing & pricing for the Warhammer World during 7th or 8th editions that they are now for the Mortal Realms during Age of Sigmar.

          For years I had to listen to them say that they didn’t make games, but instead models for collectors. Over the past two years, they have shifted that stance and have not only supported the gaming communities of their main product lines, but also created more games and are providing quite a bit of support for those as well (granted they were built on properties that had been out for decades — but providing support for a game goes a long way in helping sell a product).

          • True support goes a long way. Fantasy was plagued with the other issue of being generic fantasy with a host of 3rd party model creators able to create content and thus siphon sales as well as 2nd hand models were.

            It can be argued that that is because they cost too much … but now that they have protected their IP better they are undoubtedly making more of a profit on their fantasy line than they were in the past.

            I know even in the heyday of tournament 6th and 7th edition, few people I knew bought retail and instead were using perry twins models or other 3rd party models or were buying someone else’s army for a deep discount.

            GW had to find a way to resolve that, and in a world set in generic tolkienesque fantasy I don’t see how that could be done in terms of higher model sales.

            Lowering the cost is something that shareholders would have had a fit over. THats the problem with being public traded.

          • Simon

            They also incrementally increased prices with each army release for almost a decade. With two armies released a year, and prices shooting up for those new products as well as older repackaged pieces for the same armies, it’s no wonder people were buying secondhand. That is the kind of behavior that will send a customer base elsewhere, especially when the customers feel they have no line of communication to the manufacturer (fuels a feeling of disenfranchisement).

            I think that reducing the number of dolls needed to play was a really important gating factor to remove too (nobody wants to have to spend $400 plus 40 hours of painting just to play their first game). Decreasing the entry level to the game removes a level of difficulty to bringing in new customers. I’m glad they finally figured out some of these issues, but I still don’t see the need for them to destroy the setting.

            And exactly as you said, there are a host of 3rd party manufacturers out there making fantasy dolls. For GW to suggest that they were having trouble selling their dolls based on the setting goes against what we see there. Why were people buying the other dolls and not GW’s?

            There are a heap of issues they needed to address other than being unable to protect their IP due to the setting. And again, I’m glad they’re working on them, but I’m sad that Talabheim is gone; And I miss Ulthuan; And it’s disappointing that the goblins and dwarves won’t fight over the World’s Edge Mountains anymore.

            It’s funny: I really enjoyed most of The End Times. It was continuing the story for major named characters, and it was altering the state of the Empire and the Elven kingdoms, and it even brought back Nagash (what fun)! But as I finished Archaon, all I could think was… “What? The planet is gone?”

            I still think The End Times was a great idea…just not the very end. But who knows, maybe it’s a long game plan for them, and they’re planning on re-releasing Warhammer Fantasy Battles in 2020 as a supported line similar to all the Horus Heresy stuff they do.

            And maybe they’ll stick with Age of Sigmar for 25 years, then connect it to 30K with another jump in the timeline. I just hope they continue to learn to better their business practices without letting them get in the way of the creative process.

          • It was more than just support, though. Oldhammer required armies that outnumbered 40k armies of equivalent points in many cases, boring static posed rank-and-file units, the cumbersome nature of moving said units, and all in all it was an unnecessarily complex and bloated system. Hell, I was never able to fully grasp the old Fantasy system.

          • Simon

            Agreed on the gating factor of needing so many dolls to play a standard-sized game; they could have put in the effort to make an AoS-style rule set for a smaller game that was entry level-friendly (just like AoS).

            Though I disagree about the game type and play style of Oldhammer being too cumbersome for the market. While it definitely had its issues (it was far from a standout rule set), I think we would see games like Kings of War struggle more if there weren’t a player base out there that wanted rank and file fantasy wargames.

        • Matthew Pomeroy

          that was not a result of the setting, games like Total War warhammer showed that,. the setting is not what killed warhammer, it was the rules and massive price, AoS may have a great many fans, but not nearly what the old world had. AoS setting is not selling better.AoS like 4th ed D&D was the game noone asked for and a good amount of people ended up liking, but head to head, setting to setting AoS is a long way from being on that level. Considering a good deal of its most popular elements are taken directly from the old world. I am not a AoS hater by any stretch, but even I cant consider its setting much more than “meh with flashes of potential” the mortal realms themselves are just the lifted names of the winds of magic from the old world.

          • Without a detailed global survey, any facts in this matter can never be reached.

            The bad rules and massive price still exist for AOS. But its selling now. At least more than WHFB was.

            When End times was released, there was an uptick in interest. However, no one around me bought anything new. Most didn’t even buy the books. The campaign that summer had more people in it so the interest was up for sure, but no one was buying anything still from GW.

            I would think that if it was totally about the price, that AOS would also not really move any models, but that hasn’t been the case.

            And AOS armies running tournament standard cost as much as WHFB armies did. The difference is less model count (for more expensive models).

            Maybe thats the key… people are just super not into the hobby side and don’t want to put together all the models you needed for whfb to take advantage of the steadfast rule.

          • Matthew Pomeroy

            well to be fair, the rulesets are not at all comparable. WHFB is a game of blocks and movement, AoS is not. I wont say the rules are bad, They are pretty below average, but some folks have made some improvements. Hell I use your system when I do play points (which is admittedly rare, I prefer jsut str8 warscroll crazy). AoS models are expensive, but to play even a basic game, you really dont need that many of them. Most of us choose to have the big forces. Total War outsells AoS and its purely old world. But consider this as well, AoS has new models, most players of warhammer had been stuck with old kits for a long time, didnt need to buy any new models really. AoS sales have been mostly new kits (and to new players who didnt play warhammer before?) I would be curious how many of any of the kits are bought for purposes other than AoS, For that whole first year here AoS was a total flop but warhammer ktis sold for KoW.

          • We’ll never know what would have happened.

            I know from a business standpoint, them keeping a generic fantasy system that 3rd party guys could make models for was a bad idea if they want to make money.

            I think a lot of AOS comes from the 3rd party manufacturers riding the coattails.

          • Matthew Pomeroy

            LOTR is facing a similar thing from 3rd party, but are getting away with it since GW is not making the minis.

            I can guarantee I will be buying AoS models I have absolutely no interest in playing AoS with when the RPG comes out just for encounters. That may or may not boost sales.

          • briandavion

            I’ve seen a LOT of D&D players visiting my local GW to buy minis for D&D not sure if thats becoming common or not on a wide scale though

        • rhoadesd20

          Want to preface with: I play AoS, I enjoy AoS. WHFB is still my favorite game, but I don’t dislike AoS.

          To your comment: There are a multitude of reasons for that, very little of it being on the players and all on GW. It gets said time and time again, but GW provided no support for Fantasy. There would be 2 (maybe three) new armies a year, with limited model release featured in Whtie Dwarf, then it was back to months of 40k rules, supplements, model releases, etc. There wasn’t support really until the end times, when they killed it.

          Unit boxes were $40+ for 10 models, when you would need 25+ in a unit. 8th edition was not the best received rules wise, I could keep going. Not to mention the game was a bit intimidating because of how dense the rules were in every phase (movement being the biggest drawback).

          And PS, you can look at their financials, AoS sold very very very poorly until they introduced points values. Like, stores (five different ones) around me stopped ordering AoS stuff because they couldn’t even push it. Now it sells higher than Fantasy, but not exponentially, 40K is still their juggernaut and what keeps the lights on.

          • But those are all conjecture. We will never know for sure. I know AOS sold poorly until point values, because they tried introducing a system for casual narrative play in a world dominated and expecting tournament play. That will never work.

            When WHFB had semi regular releases and campaign books, people still weren’t buying. I ran tournament leagues for many many years, and the majority of our 25 or so player leagues bought their stuff exclusively second hand or third party because it was cheaper and there was a lot of 3rd party stuff that would work due to the low generic fantasy setting.

      • orionburn III

        You mean find a way to revitalize existing models to breathe new life into them?

        In all honesty what would you have liked to have seen happen? Fantasy was my intro to the GW world some 20 years ago but I quit playing because lots of people in my area quit playing. AoS has brought more people back and/or into the game all together.

        I’m honestly confused by the folks that say “They’re idiots for getting rid of the old world!” followed by “I can’t believe they’re bringing back things from the old world!”

        Wut?

        • Jonathon Runge

          Was it the setting or the rules? The build up before the End Times brought interest by moving the story forward.

      • AEZ

        All hail the city of hammerhal and the living city 😀

      • GWELLS

        Old world was boring and played out old fantasy. AOS has so much more potential. I think you may be being blinded with nostalgia goggles.

        • Rasheed Jones

          Yo, you mixed up your sentances switch old world with AOS though its weird you think people are nostalgic for the newer setting.

          • GWELLS

            No i checked it over it seems pretty clear. Try rereading it.

      • Spacefrisian

        Soon we get the Green Knight with Sylvaneth (good luck trying to claim that name while Agarest used it before AoS) and Bretonnians becomming a faction again.

    • Xodis

      Polo

    • Luca Lacchini

      To be honest, the setting of the Mortal Realms is growing on me as a great background for high fantasy gaming.
      Over the top heroes, mighty clashes even with a few elements per side, superpowered baddies, etc. It works.

      It started really bad as a too blank canvas, that’s granted.

      • Jonathon Runge

        I recommend Exalted.

        • Luca Lacchini

          Of which I own pretty much everything from the 1st ed.

          • Jonathon Runge

            I got most of 2nd. I would support an Exalted war game over AoS at the drop of a hat or an announcement. If AoS were set in an alternate time line I would be more inclined to support it but it is an inferior setting that only exists due to a superior setting. AoS resembles too many other product changes that ultimately hindered product line growth and community growth in the long run for me to invest from its beginning and fundamental nature.

          • AEZ

            That is a very weird post. Lots of long words yet complete and utter nonsense.

      • Kabal1te

        Personally I think more than anything GW needs to sit down with their writers and whatever company they prefer and craft an in depth AoS RPG. More than anything else that will help them cement the lore, craft maps of places and locations and names that will matter and show just how much potential the setting really has. It is at the very least better than the watered down Tolkien setting that was old world fantasy.

        • Luca Lacchini

          Agreed. The Mortal Realms “suffer” from a setting that is not fleshed out enough rather than from an inherently wrong concept.
          Or at the very least from a setting that is fleshed out in a fragmented way, without a cohesive and complete background book as a common reference.

        • Laurence J Sinclair

          The same team making the WFRP 4th Edition RPG are also making an AoS RPG, but details on it aren’t that prolific yet.

          • Kabal1te

            Where abouts did you find this most interesting nugget of information?

          • Kabal1te

            I retract my question. Some searching has found the source.

        • AEZ

          I think that detailed maps are exactly what is not needed. Then you have a fixed, limited space again where loosing a part of it might seem significant… currently if The living city, Hammerhal and whatever are destroyed they can still say it’s annoying.. but not that big a deal for order.. if we have maps where it’s clear these are the 3 biggest cities ever and there are like.. only 2 other like it left then it’s clear Order is gone (like if 4 of the big cities of the empire got burned.. then the Empire would be nearly gone). It limits storyline progression and I think that keeping the storyline progressing is what they want.

          • Kabal1te

            How detailed are the maps of battletech and yet progression in the story is a hallmark of the lore. Having defined placed gives people something to focus on and acts as a window to what is. Without that there really isn’t a setting at all. It will remain a nebulous formless concept of a setting that could be which is what it is now and has been since launch. I am not saying you have to map out every inch, leave plenty of uncharted space sure, but you can have a well mapped well defined setting and have progression. GW may not be good at that kind of writing but it can and has been done.

        • Matthew Pomeroy

          Cubicle 7. and I believe they have been given some latitude to do some creativity.

      • af

        I think it’s probably ok as High Fantasy. The problem is with the people who liked GW’s elements of Low Fantasy. Is there low fantasy in AoS? Low-level thieves and brigands, mercs looking for a job, rogues and rascals, people trying to make a living in cities, that sort of thing?

        Not a Warhammer player, but I sort of liked the Rennaisance/Germanic vibe to the Old World which seems to be gone in AoS.

    • Matthew Pomeroy

      Huzzah!! MARCO TIME!!

  • Dan Worsley

    I like how, like Sigmar’s Gran Vision, darkness is creeping into AoS fiction,
    How long before Traitor Sigmarines I wonder? Even if it’s only a small warband. They have been said to feel the lure of Death whenever they encounter Nagash after all, and Nagash senses something familiar about them.

    • Kabal1te

      I really hope they don’t go traitor sigmarines. This doesn’t need to be 40k with a high fantasy skin.

      • Drpx

        Too late.

    • AEZ

      Actually it was darker just before the time when AoS started.. you know.. after chaos conquered most of 6 or 7 (not sure if they ruled death too) realms except Azyr and had no opposition.and could do whatever they wanted with the inhabitants for ages.

      • Kabal1te

        This may be true but it’s not like GW has done much of anything to portray that facet of the lore in any real detail. It isn’t like there are stories of the people that were living in the realms that were condemned to be trampled under the boot of chaos when sigmar shut the realm gates and abandoned all but Azyr to the domination of the dark gods.

        • AEZ

          True… but we know it happened 😀

  • Calarax

    At least gotrek is coming back!!!! Make a model for him!!!!

  • Grumpy Scot

    Bring back Vlad von Carstein and we can talk.