In Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy fictional universe, Tomb Kings is an army in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle game. Up until and including the fifth edition of Warhammer, there was an all-inclusive Undead army, with the skeletons and mummies being the predecessor to what would be known as the Tomb Kings. For the sixth edition in 2002, the Undead were split into the Tomb Kings and Vampire Counts (considered more of a direct successor to the old Undead) with an expanded back-story that details the rife between the two factions. The current Army Book of the Tomb Kings was released in May 2011 for the Eighth Edition of Warhammer Fantasy.
The Tomb Kings were once rulers of Nehekhara, a vast, fertile kingdom analogous to ancient Egypt and the Mesopotamian civilizations, but not identical to them. Nehekhara was a land of many war-torn kingdoms. The divided land was eventually unified by the First King of Nehekhara, King Settra. King Settra was a beloved ruler that led Nehekhara into a golden age, yet time was not on his side. As Settra grew older he began to turn his gaze towards extending his rule into the afterlife. He charged his priests of the 'Mortuary Cult', who tended the mummified remains of the past rulers, to use their magics to develop a spell for everlasting life. After many years the priests were able to develop two spells: the first was one that would simply prolong life, the user would still age indefinitely, and the other would allow for the resurrection of the user. With promises that they would find a spell for true eternal life, the priests cast the magics that would allow them to reanimate the dead onto King Settra as he died. It would be this spell that would cause the eventual damnation of all of Nehekhara.
Huge necropoleis of the dead, full of pyramids and temples eventually surrounded and dwarfed all the inhabited cities. Over hundreds of years, the necromancer Nagash waged a series of wars with the Nehekharans. His failure to dominate the region was bittersweet, as a final curse of epic proportions slew the populace and rendered the once-fertile kingdoms desert. Through the polluting side effects of Nagash's curse combining with the ancient Nehekharan magics, and the manner of burial, the Tomb Kings were reborn. Unlike the other mindless creations of Nagash the ancient Kings were reborn with their mind and will intact, due to the embalming rituals performed on them before their deaths. Instead of being reborn in paradise with healthy young bodies as promised by the priests they were born in rotting corpses, the once fertile land they ruled now a barren desert.
Their armies are based around deployments typical of Mesopotamian/Egyptian antiquity. Large blocks of light infantry armed with bows, axes, maces, spears, and shields are supported by chariots and light cavalry. One such cavalry are Necropolis Knights, ancient elite warriors mounted on animated serpentine statues of bone, metal and marble. Tomb Kings are also able to summon swarms of scarabs to aid them in battle.
The Tomb King army also fields other large Undead constructs assembled from bone, marble and ancient statues these include gigantic undead scorpions, carrion Vultures of the desert and even the animated skeletons of ancient giants. Other Sand animated statues of the ancient gods of Khemri also march with the undead horde such as the mighty Ushabti, the Snake like Sepulchral Stalkers, Warsphinxs which can serve as monstrous mounts by either a squad of elite tomb guard or a Tomb King himself, The most deadly construct in a Tomb King army however is the Giant Necrosphinx, an animated statue capable of decapitating a dragon with a single strike of its ancient blades. Every Tomb Kings army must be led by a King or Prince (the army's General). His force of will drives the host forward, while the accompanying Liche Priests or High Priest (one called the Hierophant is compulsory in every Tomb Kings army) animates the dead. An army can usually survive the death of its General, but once the Hierophant is slain, it is only a matter of time before all non-character models collapse into the sand.
The army was best known for its magic: Liche Priests and High Liche Priests (along with Tomb Kings and Princes to a lesser degree) employ a variety called "Nehekharan Incantations". In the sixth edition the magic did not follow the normal Warhammer rules for magic; they were not subject to Miscasts or Irresistible Force but were cast automatically. Priests did not roll for their spells as most Warhammer wizards; each knows all four incantations (Tomb Kings and Princes knew a set two). However in the updated version of Tomb Kings the Liche priests now have a new magic lore known as the Lore of Nehekhara along with the ability to now access the Lore of Light and the Lore of Death.
The original fourteen gods of Nehekhara were as follows...
- Ptra: Known as the great father, first among the gods.
- Neru: Wife of Ptra and goddess of the great moon (Mannslieb)
- Sakhment: minor goddess of the green moon (Morrslieb)
- Asaph: Goddess of beauty, magic and vengeance
- Djaf: Jackal God of death
- Khsar: Faceless God of the desert
- Phakth: Hawk God of the sky and bringer of swift Justice
- Qu'aph: Serpent God of subtlety
- Ualatp: Vulture God of scavengers
- Sokth: God of Assassins and thieves
- Basth: Goddess of grace and love
- Geheb: God of earth and giver of strength
- Tahoth: God of knowledge and keeper of sacred lore
- Usirian: Jackal God of the underworld
Initially there was only the one Undead army in Warhammer Fantasy game containing all the generic types you would expect under such a title; vampires, mummies, skeletons, zombies, animated constructions, etc.. When the Undead was eventually separated into the Tomb Kings and the Vampire Counts, Games Workshop attempted to differentiate between the two armies, giving each a clear and separate identity. The Vampire Counts retain their Slavic influence, with access to more of the fleshy, moist undead with a strong Gothic flavour. The dry and desiccated Tomb Kings owe much to the myths of ancient Egypt.
Tomb King Characters
- Settra the Imperishable- the greatest living Tomb King and founder of the Mortuary Cult. In life he ruled all of Nehekhara through his iron will, and in undeath he continues that tradition. Though an arrogant, cruel tyrant, under his 150 years of leadership Nehekhara entered a golden age. Settra desires to restore Nehekhara to its former glory and to expand his realm as he did in life- through conquest. Settra fights atop the golden Chariot of the Gods and wields the Blessed Blade of Ptra, and his skill at arms and aura of command makes him a terrifying foe for any enemy to face.
- Herald Nekaph- Settra's personal champion and sacred bodyguard, whose weapon "the Flail of Skulls" bears the heads of the formidible foes he has defeated in his king's name. When fighting a foe in a challenge Nekaph fights much harder knowing he fights for his king's honor, upon his resurrection Nekaph retains his warrior soul and his devotion to King Settra.
- High Queen Khalida- slain by her own cousin Neferata the first Vampire. When reborn as a Tomb Queen, Khalida vowed not to return to rest until she rids the entire world of the hated vampires. Blessed by the goddess Asaph, Khailida moves with serpent like speed and no poison can harm her.
- Grand Hierophant Khatep- the most powerful Liche Priest of the Mortuary Cult, banished by Settra until he discovers a way to grant true immortality and restore Nehekhara to its former glory. Khatep roams the deserts searching for the answers while appearing seemingly from nowhere every now and again to aid the armies of the Tomb Kings.
- Arkhan the Black- Nagash's most trusted follower and a powerful necromancer in his own right. Arkhan searches for a means to resurrect his master, travelling the world to retrieve his master's lost heirlooms. He has already recovered the Staff of Nagash and the Liber Mortis (one of the dreaded nine black tomes of Nagash). Until the time Arkhan can gather the rest of his master's lost artifacts and begin the spell to return Nagash, he fights for any Tomb King who can afford his price.
- Prince Apophas- a prince who killed his own family to usurp his brother's throne. He was cast down and as punishment, he was entombed alive with countless desert scarabs which devoured his still living flesh. Once this punishment was complete, the tomb was opened and his skull was cast into the desert- so great were his crimes, he was denied a permanent crypt. Usirian, the god of death, claimed his soul but the Prince struck a bargain with the god- Apophas would be granted undeath in order to search the world for a perfect soul to take his place in the realm of the dead. Thus Apophas was reborn, his body now taking the form of man-shaped swarm of desert scarabs, with his skull on top in place of a head, the body wielding the same knife he used to murder his own family. Unknown to Apophas, Usirian tricked him, as no soul is ever exactly equal to another, thus Apophas is doomed to spend eternity sending souls to Usirian.
- Ramhotep the visionary- the most revered Necrotect of Nehekhara
There are many different units in the army of the tomb kings, ranging from the legions of foot soldiers to the squads of archers, the light cavalry bowmen to the speedy and strong chariot groups, and the mighty spellcasting Liche Priests to the awesome fighters the Tomb Kings themselves. In Warhammer these are divided into Characters, Core Units, Special Units and Rare Units. Each figure is worth a certain number of 'points' and it is by balancing these points that two battling armies are kept fair. Also if you purchase the Tomb Kings Army Book or the Warhammer Rulebook you can get a complete points value for the troops.
- Tomb King (Lord)
- Tomb Kings are the ancient and long-dead rulers of the land of Nehekhara. There have been countless kings during the long history of that ancient land. They are powerful and expensive models (points wise) created to lead your army.
- Liche High Priest (Lord)
- In their desire to defy death, the kings of Nehekhara founded the Mortuary Cult. The most senior priests of the Mortuary cult and the most powerful spellcasters in the Tomb King army are the Liche High priests.
- Tomb Princes (Hero)
- Tomb Princes are the sons of Tomb Kings. Only one prince could succeed his father to the throne. As for the others, some died heroically in battle, and their bodies were brought home to be mummified and entombed within the king's pyramid.These provide cheaper, but slightly weaker characters to lead or support your army.
- Tomb Herald (Hero)
- Acts as bodyguards to Tomb Kings and can carry the army's battle standard.
- Liche Priests (Hero)
- Lesser priests but still powerful spellcasters.
- Necrotects (Hero)
- Necrotects were the master artisans of the Nekeharan Kings, crafting the Animated Constructs in the army and bringing them to life. As rewards for these works of art, they were mummified. In undeath they maintain the Constructs they designed.
- Skeleton Warriors (Core Units)
- The mighty armies of the Tomb Kings, made up of regiment after regiment of valiant soldiers who perished in battle and were interred in the great tomb pits of the king's necropolis. These are your basic troop types, armoured in light armour and carrying shields these warriors fight with either blade or spear.
- Skeleton Archers (Core Units)
- Armed with bows and equipped with arrows blessed by the goddess Asaph. No cover can protect the foe from these arrows which when fired seek their prey like a living predator.
- Skeleton Horsemen (Core Units)
- The cavalry of a Tomb Kings army, now mounted on skeleton steeds these undead horsemen and their steeds require no rest, food, water or shelter and are relentless in the pursuit of any foe.
- Skeleton Horse Archers (Core Units)
- Acting as scouts for their Tomb King masters, these troops fire the deadly arrows of the Asaph from horseback.
- Skeleton Chariots (Core Units)
- The pride of a Tomb King's army are his charioteers, entire armies of skeleton chariots have been seen, trampling weaker races in their wake. Tomb Kings are the only army allowed to have units of chariots.
- Tomb Guard (Special Unit)
- The bravest and best soldiers serving the tomb Kings acted as his personal bodyguards and palace guards during life and death. Just as they guarded the palace in life, so now they guard the inner sanctum of the necropolis.
- Tomb Swarms (Special Unit)
- The tombs of the necropoleis are infested with the animated dried husks and shells of countless poisonous insects and other vicious creatures of the desert.
- Ushabti (Special Unit)
- Statues of the many gods and goddesses of Nehekhara, the Ushabti stand as guardians around the perimeters of the great pyramids of the Tomb Kings. In times of need, the Liche Priests imbue the Ushabti with tremendous power through complex incantations and charms. These animated constructs are slow if terribly strong and powerful fighters.
- Khemrian Warsphinx (Special Unit)
- A monster that towers over infantry, cavalry and even chariots. Animated for the purpose of either acting as a mount for a Tomb King or a squad of elite Tomb Guard.
- Tomb Scorpions (Special Unit)
- Tomb Scorpions are powerful creations of the Liche Priests. Within their carapace is the shriveled corpse of a mighty Liche priest, though they appear to be dead, their corpse still emits their magical influence animating the construct.
- Necropolis Knights (Special Unit)
- Monstrous Cavalry, Tomb guard who in life failed their Tomb King master and as punishment committed ritualistic suicide via serpent venom. Now in death they receive a chance to redeem themselves mounted on serpentine undead constructs.
- Sepulchral Stalkers (Special Unit)
- Undead constructs fashioned out of bone, marble and gold. These animated constructs were crafted to have predatory instincts by the Necrotects, they lurk beneath the desert sands ready to spring out and attack the unwary with their halberds while their deadly gaze can transform their foe into sand.
- Carrion (Special Unit)
- Carrion are massive scavenging birds, akin to vultures, whose wings are said to darken the sky. These creatures once lived in Nehekhara and their reanimated corpses serve in the armies of the tomb kings.
- Necrolith Colossus (Rare Unit)
- The Necrolith Colossi are constructs, painstakingly crafted from jet black obsidian, white marble or dark grey stone and held together by the powerful incantations of the Necrotects. The Necrolith Colossus first appeared in the Warmaster scale as the Bone Giant.
- Screaming Skull Catapult (Rare Unit)
- These magical constructs are huge catapults made from bones and crewed by skeletons. They behave as normal stone throwers with one exception; any unit taking a wound from the catapult must take a panic test.
- Hierotitans (Rare Unit)
- A gigantic Animated statue of ancient Nehekaran deities of death, these animated titans aid the Liche priests in the magic phase, their mere presence increasing the magical power of the priests. These giants also have bound spells from both the lore of death and light.
- NecroSphinx (Rare Unit)
- The largest and most deadly construct in a Tomb Kings Arsenal. A behemoth of Marble, stone, metal and jade. These constructs resembling mythical creatures of the underworld are borne aloft upon huge wings and are capable of killing a dragon or a giant with one swing of its decapitating blades.
- Casket of Souls (Rare Unit)
- Within the tombs of the mightiest kings lies a casket sealed with pitch and inscribed with hieroglyphs. Taken to battle by a Liche Priest, the casket can be opened each turn, releasing a blinding light made from countless lost souls, screaming into the air and plunging through the hearts and minds of the enemy ranks.