Asmodai, Lord of Change

Recently, my attention was brought to a fantastic book from the Wellcome Library: the Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros [A Very Rare Compendium of the Whole Art of Magic, Systematised by the Most Famous Masters of this Art].

One page allegedly depicts the signs for various demons:

Compendium rarissimum, fol. 2r

The familiar symbol at the top right? That’s for Astaroth, a Duke of Hell. It doesn’t match up with the older sixteenth- and seventeenth-century traditions, though.

The book claims to be from 1057, but is actually from c.1775. This sort of pseudo-scientific magic and demonology is a creation of the Renaissance and an emphasis on rationality and systematisation; in fact, the very next page has symbols for the elements, demonstrating that up to the Enlightenment, there wasn’t much difference between science, magic and demonology.

But by the time this book appeared, it was already out of date. The great witch trials were long over, and the author’s dating his work back to 1057 is a bit of pseudo-medieval sensationalism. The first page tells the prospective reader: “Noli me tangere [Don’t touch me]”, which to me sounds more like an advertisement than any real warning (and would to any self-respecting PC too!). Certainly, the lavish illustration makes the whole thing look more like a scandalous coffee-table book than anything intending to be practical.

And where’s this Lord of Change? I’ve put him after the break because he’s very slightly NSFW:

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[Bitter Moors] Landrel Barrow

Landrel Barrow

“Landrel Barrow is a large earth mound the size of a small hill in the March of Couronne. It is artificial and has a large stone gateway set in the side. Light never seems to penetrate far, and a chilling cold always radiates from it.

Every few years, though the precise time seems to be random, an army of skeletons and zombies marches out of the barrow. They follow the same route every time and completely ignore anyone who leaves them alone. As there are 4,373 of them (they ignored one scholar so much he was able to make an accurate count), most nobles are willing to ignore them. The few who are not meet bad ends, unless their friends can restrain them.

Many groups of adventurers have investigated the barrow. Most have come back, reporting finding nothing but a few cold and empty stone tunnels under the hill. One group found an undisturbed burial chamber, lost one man to the Wight lairing there, and emerged with some treasure. Some groups, however, have simply failed to emerge.”

KotG p.70

The Barrow is rightfully deemed cursed by the people of the Bitter Moors. They avoid going to its vicinity if possible but some brave the hazard of undead to gather Caper herbs (used to kill fleas) and Juniper berries (used as painkillers).

Some also come here to search scrap metal on the Pathway of the Dead as they call it. As a part of some long-forgotten adulthood rite young men and women of the Moors would come to see the March of the Dead. They would carry white stones gathered from the shores of Manaansport Sea and track to way of the dead with them. Walking between the stones is a sure way to catch the evil eye but some are either too daring or too stupid to care.

The Pathway extends from the Barrow towards the sea but end abruptly. Those few who have witnessed the March say that once they cross the last stones they simply vanish in thin air.

At the end of 25th century some locals made a quick fortune by luring daring adventurers to the Barrow. A young woman would offer herself as the guide to the Barrow. Once inside the other would roll large boulder to close the opening. The guide would wriggle herself through a narrow slit in the Barrow’s side leaving the adventurer inside to starve.

It is unknown how the locals operated the heavy boulder but its remains are still lying beside the doorway. As the story goes the bandits trapped an Imperial Wizard inside the Barrow. She blasted the boulder into two pieces and nothing was ever heard of the bandits again.

Inside the Barrow narrow passage ways slither into the dark and cold earth. Tiny streams of water drip through stone here and there sometimes form pools that glow ominously. There are strange, ancient carvings on the walls that no-one has been able to decipher. Some even claim that there are runes that could be deduced to be of Norscan origin, suggesting that the Barrow might very well be the resting place of an ancient army of Chaos marauders. The sightings of the March of the Dead usually support this notion.

[Bitter Moors] Tancred Castle

“Tancred Castle, only recently completed, is a good example of this. It sits on a low but steep hill, and the outer wall is studded with towers. The high inner wall allows defenders to turn the region between the walls into a killing zone, whilst the final round keep also has a tall signal and watchtower. The castle has a good well and large stores of food. Fully manned, it could survive a siege for over three months. The surrounding land is not particularly fertile, and it is unlikely that a living army could last that long.”

See KotG p.70

Standing on the disputed border of Bretonnia and the Empire Tancred Castle has changed hands numerous times during its 500 year old history. It was brought to ruin in the Great War against Chaos and was only recently rebuilt. The castle was given to a notable war hero, Earl Adalbert, by King Louen Leoncoeur and the Earl moved in immediately.

Earl received huffed letters from Marienburg and Altdorf for taking a castle not belonging to Bretonnia but no actual army was ever send to oppose him And as the Storm of Chaos hit the Old World such quarrels were but quickly aside. Earl Adalbert was quickly to reinforce the castle to withstand the forces of Norse reavers.

During the war it withheld against large invading troops and now a mound of burnt corpses rises near the castle. Earl Adalbert gained fame for his virtuous behaviour and unswerving courage against the hordes of Chaos.

After the war Earl Adalbert has sent his Knights of the Realm to patrol the Couronne Swamps as well as the Bitter Moors. Though officially he is making sure that the people living there are safe it is rumoured that he is considering about making a move to conquer Marienburg. Should this be a fact it just might be that he was sent to Castle Tancred to do precisely that by no other than the King of Bretonnia.


Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of the Tancred Castle the Skaven of Clan Sheehakk have carved a small warren under the castle. This warren mainly acts as the focus point of Sheehakk spies that have been sent here by Vasrin the Sneak to learn about knights riding to Bitter Moors.


The village of Hamschik sits on edge of the Bitter Moors in Wasteland. It is only a small community of pig herders, coal burners and other serfs that mostly work to pay for the little protection the local lord, Hans Gruber, offers against beastmen of the moors, green skins of the Pale Sisters and the raiders from the North.

Right in the middle of this small village next to the old well stands the Three Knights Tavern the only notable man-made location in miles. It is ran by a striking Ulrika Grünkopf with his three young sons. Three Knights doubles as a local town’s house where important meetings are kept and where the locals might learn the news of the outside world – if they cared about such things.

Ulrika’s husband died two years ago fighting in the army of Empire and even though suitors have come from quite afar Ulrika has yet to re-marry. According to the old midwife Sigrid Ulrika is being courted by lord Gruber. Ulrika herself neither acknowledges or denies this rumour simply choosing to keep her personal matters to herself.

Another notable feature at Hamschik is the Roteblüte, a great big oak that weirdly blooms red flowers during summer. The blooms smell lovely but there no insects ever land on them to gather their pollen. A half-remembered song tells that Roteblüte was once a brave captain in the Emperor’s army who never married nor had sons. Mórr took petty on him and let his soul to linger in the tree waiting for a young maiden who would smell the flower and be conceived by it.

Some years ago a Witch Hunter of the Order of the Flame came to Hamschik. He studied the dead and suspected it was tainted with chaos. He ordered the men to hew it down and burn the logs but when the men took axes against the tree the Witch Hunter suddenly ordered them back. He offered no excuse for his actions simply stating that the tree should stand. Later that evening he left the village for Altdorf.