Sunday, 16 February 2020

GREAT CANON: Teclis - Part 4: Storm in a Teacup (2003-2005)


Continuing from our titular Loremaster's 6th ed revision in Part 3Great Canon: Teclis ventures forth into the edition's ongoing narrative, building up to the Storm of Chaos worldwide campaign and its aftermath, with Teclis gaining an unusual new miniature in the process.



The most notable (fondly remembered) of the bold new directions pioneered by 6th edition Warhammer would be it's commitment to advancing the setting's previously pretty static timeline. From the decapitation of fan favourite Averland Elector Count Marius Leitdorf by an orc warlord in the pages of the edition's very first army book kicking off that this wasn't your dad's Warhammer with a bang, the game's designers at time (helmed by Gav Thorpe) were committed to pushing forward the history of the setting, with ongoing story threads carried across army books and White Dwarf articles. If you're interested in the stop/start/rewind nature, or history of Warhammer's timeline, then check out the article I've previously written covering it in detail here.


Easily the most prominent of 6th edition's ongoing plots was the impending invasion of the Old World at the hands of Archaon, who had claimed the Crown of Domination, been anointed Everchosen and was ready to bring the Empire to it's knees; eventually climaxing with the Storm of Chaos worldwide campaign in summer 2004. Not having received any status update's in the previous year's Warhammer Armies: High Elves, Teclis would join 6th ed's rolling plot in White Dwarf 280, released in April 2003, the same month Giantslayer hit shelves (though probably slightly earlier as White Dwarf had a habit of releasing in the penultimate week of the preceding month back then), in a narrative article titled The Conclave of Light, by Gav Thorpe.

The Conclave of Light saw the Emperor Karl Franz, worried about the growing threat of Archaon to the north following Grand Theogonist Volkmar the Grim's death on a failed crusade to him, nipping a potential invasion in the bud, call a council of Elector Counts, mages and clergy in early IC 2522; eventually joined by ambassadors from the Dwarfs, Kislev and Marienburg, on exactly what to do in the face of the largest Chaos incursion since the Great War Against Chaos. The council rattles along unproductively for almost a month, with many concerned at Karl Franz's apparent inaction, until on the morning of the thirtieth day the Emperor summons the various attendees to the ramparts of his palace facing the river Reik, where the dawn mists part to reveal a single elven Hawkship, from which a solitary Teclis disembarks.

The other parties in attendance are taken aback, not having known a message had even been sent by the Emperor to Ulthuan, and there are a few derisive snorts from the dwarfs present, as Karl Franz introduces Teclis, who proceeds to give a speech on how despite Ulthuan's current woes (owing to a coexisting narrative Teclis had no involvement in, featuring Malekith upping his invasion game), no race can hold back the tide of Chaos alone, and they must all stand united. Teclis gets a bit of an earful about wrongs remembered from Snarri Thungrimsson, the senior Dwarven ambassador present, before the dwarf agrees to put aside past wrongs, at least for the time being, and march to war at the side of the elves. Plans made, the High Elf fleets agree to patrol the Sea of Claws against Norse fleets, while the Old World prepares for war.


Teclis would next appear during the Storm of Chaos proper, in its accompanying supplement Warhammer Armies: Storm of Chaos, released in June 2004. Since the Conclave of Light, most of the Storm of Chaos buildup had centred around Valten, a sort of messianic Fabio groomed as an adversary for Archaon who'd risen up from obscurity in the Empire, and may or may not be the reincarnation of Sigmar,. Valten's an interesting character, significant footnote in Warhammer's history, and dead cert for a future Great Canon, but this article's about Teclis, so I'll keep his coverage brief. A young blacksmith with a twin-tailed comet birthmark, Valten single-handedly fought off a horde of beastmen set on burning his home village down on his 18th birthday; attracted an army of fanatical followers, was taken to Altdorf and presented to Karl Franz, who he recived Ghal Maraz from, somehow ageing about 20 years in the process.

The staging ground for the Storm of Chaos would be the fortress city of Middenheim, home to the cult of Ulric, the Empire's other warrior god, which Archaon intended to sack, corrupting and extinguishing the Flame of the Ulric, and bringing about the End Times. While Archaon's horde hacked its way through the northen Empire, Karl Franz and Valten would lead a united Imperial force to Middenheim by way of rendezvous with reinforcements in Talabheim.


Over the course of a year or so Valten had received a planned progression of three miniatures, all sculpted by Alex Hedström. The glamorous one on the right comes about when encamped outside Talabheim, the Imperial army would is met by two small contingents, one of dwarfs, the other Teclis, at the head of 500 High Elves (both equally uncomfortable in the other's presence). Teclis then gifts Valten with a glistening elven steed named Althandin, the foal of Tyrion's steed Malhandir. Not to be outdone, the dwarfs  present Valten with a suit of bespoke gromril armour commissioned for and never collected by Sigmar himself; and the dwarf and elf forces join with the human army and march on Middenheim.


Before we get to Teclis' role in the Storm of Chaos's outcome, special attention's gotta be drawn to this 10mm Storm of Chaos tie-in model released at the time for Warmaster, Games Workshop's then Warhammer World set mass battle game (equivalent to 40k's Epic), alongside several other models representing prominent characters in the campaign. None of these models would receive unique rules, with accompanying Warmaster Magazine and website articles telling players to use them to represent their garden variety equivalents. While it may seem significant that Teclis' Warmaster model adheres more closely to the design of his original Jes Goodwin model than the 2002 Gary Morley resculpt, this is more likely coincidence than design, as there are several inconsistencies between the other Warmaster Storm of Chaos characters released and their appearances during the campaign (Tyrion got a model didn't even feature in the Storm of Chaos!).


Running over summer 2004, the Storm of Chaos campaign itself took place across an impressively designed web page, where players could post victories in various territories on Archaon's route through the northern Empire to Middenheim, intended to merely delay, and not halt the Everchosen's advance, with excellently written news bulletins coming in from the front each week reflecting the results of the campaign. Unfortunately for GW's designs, the playerbase were on the whole pretty attached to Middenheim and the Empire, and didn't want to see either destroyed, with well coordinated placement of large amounts of results for the forces on the defence meaning Archaon's armies never made much of an inroad, and would never have 'officially' reached the walls of Middenheim, had the results conditions not been fudged in the last couple of weeks of the campaign to allow them to climatically do so. An overwhelming victory for the Empire and its allies, which as anyone even passingly familiar with Warhammer knows, doesn't come without a cost...


Even though the global campaign had ended in autumn, we wouldn't see the conclusion of the Storm of Chaos until White Dwarf 301, in January the following year (because print lead ins and wow I'm old). An article called the Siege of Middenheim, by Gav Thorpe opens accounting for the mishaps of Archaons various lieutenants, most of whom never reach Middeheim, before getting to the siege proper. On the third day of the siege, Valten and his personal retinue of a few hundred devoted warriors are torn asunder by Hellcannon fire, Valten himself taking a direct fusillade, only being saved by his runic armour, and blasting apart his elven steed - Althandin we hardly knew ye. On the west of the battlefield Be'lakor (going through one of his Archaon-agreeable phases for the duration of the campaign), at the head of an innumerable daemonic legion has managed to isolate Karl Franz's army from Valten's massively outnumbered force, and is about to close in on the Emperor, when 300 Swordmasters of Hoeth cut their way through the daemons, Teclis at their centre.

In one of his most impressive ever magical feats, Teclis drinks from a shining phial (a reference to Sariour?), and unleashes flames of white energy, in a half sphere around him, which expand outwards into the daemonic horde, nuking it in its entirety back into the Realm of Chaos (Be'lakor included), saving Karl Franz's life and allowing his army to rejoin the main fight. Valten proceeds to dual Archaon, getting cut up very badly in the process, only for the exhausted Everchosen to be humiliatingly smacked down by... Grimgor Ironhide, Orcs and Goblins having registered their results separately to the campaign's main players, and having performed much better than expected. Beating Archaon to his knees and inexplicably sparing him, Grimgor then departs the battlefield.

Mannfred von Carstein then turns up late, and is politely told to go away by Volkmar (who had resurrected by Be'lakor, possibly to emasculate Archaon); Valten dies of injuries sustained on the battlefield and a bunch of skaven-inflicted stab wounds; and Teclis plays no further part in the story, presumably returning to Ulthuan. The Storm of Chaos leads into a new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, set in an Empire reeling from the devastation inflicted, but is mostly pushed to one side from thereon, with the status quo largely restored, and the events of the campaign being paid lip service to for a few years, before being removed from the timeline entirely in later editions.


Released in 2005, Darkness Rising: A complete history of the Storm of Chaos by Phil Kelly and Anthony Reynolds was one of several 'coffee table' books written from an in universe perspective released by the Black Library in the wake of the spectacular Liber Chaotica series. Recounting the Storm of Chaos in flush detail through the eyes of 'Old' Weirde of Altdorf, an Imperial scholar and historian previously established through the White Dwarf feature Olde Weirde's Incunabulum. Teclis not exactly having been the star of the Storm of Chaos, doesn't get much more of a showcase in Darkness rising than than we've already seen in the sources previously detailed in this post, but the book does add a few neat flourishes, in all eight patriarchs of the Colleges of Magic immediately kneeling on Teclis' arrival in Altdorf; Be'lakor realising what Teclis is doing and going straight for him as he casts his nuke spell; and Old Weirde's son Stefan not knowing where Hoeth is.


The Warhammer World's annihilation at Archaon's hands fended off for a decade or so, head on over to Part 5, where Teclis' origin and history are greatly expanded by new authors in via couple of unexpected sources...

As per, errors pointed out and feedback for this article always welcome!

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