I’ve decided, as I can’t collect my Middenheim warband quite as quickly as I’d like, I’d write a dramatis personae for the heroes to keep the plastic-crack itch at bay, but mainly because it’d be fun and kinda nice to have that background to work with once I do get my grubby little mits on the toys in question. And so I give you…The von Braun Irregulars.
Count Kaiser von Braun
Count Kaiser von Braun was once one of Middenland’s most renowned generals. Raised in the town of Grossfurre at the edge of the Mirror Moors, von Braun ventured to the City of the White Wolf in search of a life of meaning in the ranks of the Imperial Army. A natural leader and master tactician, it didn’t take long for his prowess on the battlefield to catch the attention of the Swords of Ulric and although was inducted into their ranks he found their savagery on the battlefield distasteful. He remains the only person to leave their ranks by any means other than death on the battlefield or old age. But it was this decision that would see von Braun’s meteoric ascension through the ranks catching the eye of his liege lord, the Elector Count of Middenheim. Attached to the Elector Count’s personal guard he quickly found himself at the forefront of countless battles and attending councils of war that would otherwise be closed to him. The bold nature that saw him travel through the perils of the Drakwald alone as a youth and to leave the ranks of the Swords drove him to interject a number of times during such councils. Were it not for the merit of his strategies he’d have been flogged a dozen times over.
Such was the Elector Count’s faith in von Braun’s abilities, when he became the youngest General in Middenland’s history, he was not only given his own regiment but often given operational command of the Northern armies, heading councils of war and winning countless victories. But that’s not to say that von Braun was not a man of action. Indeed once battle was joined, he was oft found where the fighting was thickest, at the head of his regiment – the von Braun Irregulars - striking down his foes with a mighty warhammer.
von Braun’s prowess on the battlefield earned him the nickname Ironhide as nothing could seemingly fell the giant man despite sustaining a score of wounds over the years, many of which were dealt saving the Elector Count’s life. However all men’s luck eventually runs out and that was no less so than with von Braun. Taking command at the great gates of Middenheim during a Chaos incursion, into the lands of the Empire, von Braun was wounded by a deamonblade almost unto death. Only his iron will kept his body alive whilst other men’s souls would have fled instantly.
Although von Braun eventually recovered he was weakened and the world had moved on without him. An upstart general had taken command of his Irregulars in his absence and wasted their lives terribly. Determined to rebuild their number and regain his strength, his liege had other ideas, deciding that von Braun had served the Empire with courage and honour and deserved to live out the remainder of his days in peace. Although von Braun argued passionately that he was still a worthy member of the Imperial army, his liege would hear none of it and decreed that von Braun would be elevated to the position of Count and be returned to Grossfurre as it’s master and protector.
Upon arrival home, von Braun discovered a town at the mercy of Beastmen raiding parties, crops that could barely feed its people and tradesmen struggling to make coin.
With members of the, now, disbanded von Braun Irregulars gravitating towards Grossfurre in search of life with renewed purpose, von Braun immediately founded the Grossfurre Militia and set them upon the Beastmen lurking within the Drakwald. It took two years for the surrounding forests to finally be rid of the vile creatures and as the raids became less the town began to prosper. Forest was felled and more land made available for farms and businesses and with it the town’s coffers swelled and tithes began to flow to Middenheim along with a parade of fit and healthy young men schooled at the training ground that now serviced the entire Mirror Moors region.
However, von Braun was a man of action and peace sat ill with him. A life of mediating petty squabbles of his townspeople and tax collection bored him and he gradually took to drink to ease the passing of days spent in an office. So when word reached Grossfurre of the calamity that befell Mordheim and the tales of glory and riches that awaited all those brave enough to sally forth into the ruins, von Braun knew that his chance to bring glory once more to Middenheim had arrived. Gathering together his finest warriors, he set off with barely a backwards glance.
A hulking bear of a man, Helmut Gruber was a career soldier and in the first intake of men into von Braun’s Irregulars. Indeed, it was these first few fighting men who determined the regiments name as von Braun initially refused to take fresh recruits, choosing men only from regiments that were on the verge of disbanding due to casualties. As such every man jack of them were seasoned veterans from all over Middenhim, each with their combat experience and fighting style. The result on the field was devastating as no opposing general could accurately predict how the enemy units before him would respond to a charge. Helmut Gruber was one such veteran. Skilled with a bolas, Gruber was able to collapse enemy charges by felling unit champions and thus tripping those behind them, allowing Gruber to dispatch his foes with mighty swings of his ancient warhammer. A gift from his father and his father before, all the way back to an ancient ancestor who was honoured to a part of the White Wolf bodyguard for the Warrior God Sigmar. So the story goes, Sigmar forged hammers for each of his bodyguard as a symbol of the trust he shared with them.
It seems that protecting others is in the blood as von Braun’s predisposition for getting himself into some close scrapes lead to Helmut Gruber saving his general from many a grizzly death with a tell timed throw of his bolas or swing of his hammer. Although merely a sergeant, Gruber found himself forming a firm friendship with his commanding officer and was elevated to be his personal bodyguard. An imposing figure, it would only take a stern glance from Gruber to quell any agitator from saying the wrong thing or straying too close to von Braun. And if that didn’t work, hefting his gold capped warhammer usually did.
Much like von Braun, Helmut Gruber spent his entire life at war and was with von Braun at the gates of Middenheim when he was dealt the fateful blow. An injury that would lead to von Braun retirement and the Irregulars put in the hands of a fool. Gruber places the blame squarely on his own shoulders as he believes he failed in his duty to protect the General, despite being overrun himself with foul creatures of Chaos. The fact that either of them escaped alive from that section of the wall was surely only through the blessings of Ulric.
Following the von Braun Irregular’s disbanding, after the Disaster at Hangman’s Wood in Nordland, Gruber was unable to settle into civilian life despite being reunited with his wife and children after years apart. Vowing to make amends for the ill fate that he had brought upon the Irregulars and their former commander, he left his family and headed South for Grossefurre. Ulric, it seemed, had touched the souls of others as, as he journeyed South, he stumbled across former comrades also heading South for Grossefurre eager to have purpose in their lives once more.
When the rag-tag group of warriors entered the towns walls von Braun met them all as brothers and immediately formed them into the towns militia with Helmut Gruber at its head. Although deeply humbled by the honour, he accepted the position but none of the trappings that came with the title. Accepting only simple lodgings and food to sustain him, Gruber was determined to make amends for his failing by any means.
It was no surprise, then, when word reached Grossefurre of Mordheim’s fate that he immediately volunteered to accompany von Braun on his adventure, hoping to seek a glorious death in defence of his friend and master as only then will honour and Ulric would be satisfied.
Heidi von Braun
Kaiser von Braun fathered Heidi with a young widow of a Northern land baron, during a rare stint of leave. Although overjoyed when news reached von Braun he was to be a father, he made it clear that he would not play a part in his child’s life. He was a solider and duty left little room for family not to mention the fact that death was an ever-present companion and peril. He vowed to send a portion of his pay to the child’s mother so they need never be without, and with it letters detailing his adventures across the Empire and beyond so although they may never meet his child would know that he was a good man and his absence was for a noble reason.
As a result, Heidi von Braun grew up with a head full of adventures. Her father’s money was wasted as she consistently failed to attend her tutorials with private scholars, far happier to wander into the wilderness armed with a home-made spear and short bow. Countless times she was returned to her mother’s bosom at the hands of an Imperial patrol who had found her attempting to, and in most cases succeeding, slay a goblin or ungor. By the time she reached her teenage years, Heidi was a skilled hunter, an expert marksmen and adept with a blade. Helped in no small part by using her feminine charms on a number of local free company.
When her mother passed away suddenly of pneumonia she sought out her father in the hope of living the life of adventure she’d always dreamed. The reality was quite different. Granted an audience with von Braun she was horrified to discover the powerful man she’d always imagined, was now a drunk who had all but lost all zest for life. With nowhere else to go she resigned herself to honing her skills in the Drakwalds before travelling to Marienburg to sell her services as a mercenary.
In many ways, Heidi’s arrival brought von Braun back from the edge of the abyss as more and more of his time was taken up either attempting to school her and when she failed to turn up, seeking her out in the darkest parts of the Drakwalds. Heidi was also forced to re-evaluate her father when he single-handedly saved her as she fought for her life against three bestigors who had ambushed her whilst on a hunt. There was no denying that the overweight man was still a powerful and skilled warrior. von Braun too had to admit that Heidi was a capable warrior and resigned himself to rather than teaching her things that would set her up for marriage and a life of peace, he would teach her warcraft instead.
However, when news reached von Braun of Mordheim and with it rumours of great treasures and rare stones his mind was made up instantly. Heidi begged her father to let her go with him and had it been an other expedition he might of relented but he’d also heard other rumours. Tales of foul creatures, daemons cavorting in the streets and atrocities committed on men and women alike. Although he couldn’t stop his daughter from becoming a warrior, he could protect her from the horrors that awaited in the City of the Damned. Unbeknown to von Braun, however, Heidi was an expert tracker and setting off two days after him, she soon had his trail and was following him all the way to Mordheim and glory.
Ana Vass – Lady in Waiting
Ana Vass had led an unremarkable life prior to Heidi von Braun’s arrival. As with all women of Middenland she was hardy and skilled with a sword, but her lot in life was little more than darning socks and repairing slacks for her father and twelve brothers as they worked the land and hunted. When Kaiser von Braun arrived and moved into the long abandoned manor on the edge of the town she went there in search of work. Life for Ana wasn’t much more exciting within the walls of the Manor but it gave her a wage, she was free to use the manors library and was granted leave to explore outside pursuits. When his daughter arrived in Grossefurre Count von Braun assigned Ana to her daughter as lady in waiting. Wherever his daughter went she was to follow. As much to report back to him any transgressions as much to assist his daughter.
However, Heidi’s penchant for exploration and tendency to get herself into life threatening situations meant that within days of meeting the von Braun daughter Ana had killed an ungor that sought to attack Heidi whilst she did battle with its herd brother. Grudgingly impressed by Ana, Heidi began covertly teaching her sword craft. This was as much for Heidi’s survival as it was for Ana’s as Heidi identifying the benefits of having an able companion, even if she was on her father’s employment.
Ana’s abilities quickly grew through Heidi’s teachings and from watching the men train in the militia barracks that Count von Braun had ordered built in the years since coming to the town. Although Heidi was unparalleled with a spear and black powder weapons, Ana was adept with twin short swords and her smaller frame and greater agility meant that she was one of the few that could get past Heidi’s guard. Despite the social gulf between them they became friends and their excursions into the forest became ever more frequent and daring even to the point when Count von Braun has had to come to their aid.
When Heidi made her decision to follow her father, Ana had preempted the lady’s wishes and already her things ready, along with her own. Heidi initially refused to allow Ana to come but realised that she, like Heidi herself, would simply follow her anyway she relented, realising that a companion on such a treacherous journey would be no bad thing.
A hot-headed but capable warrior, Erasmus Klocke was a ferocious man both on and off the battle. Despite being a capable tactician, his overly pious nature meant that he never rose beyond the rank and file in no small part to his consist admonishment of the men in his unit him for their lack of faith in Sigmar. And in Middenheim such talk sat ill. Were it not for his prowess in a fight he probably would have been met with an ‘accident’.
When the von Braun Irregulars disbanded Klocke wandered Middenland offering his services as both preacher and blacksmith in exchange for food and lodging. Klocke believed that manual labour regardless of one’s higher calling kept the soul pure and grounded, far away from the lofty dillusions of grandeur that befalls so many men. Eventually his travels brought him to Grossefurre and was elated to find many of his old comrades in a uniform startlingly similar to that of their old regiment.
When Erasmus Klocke was presented to von Braun by Helmut Gruber, he was saddened to see what had become of old Ironhide and instantly knew that coming to Grossefurre was Sigmar’s will. Despite von Braun’s better judgement he allowed the self-appointed warrior priest to stay within the town and the zealot immediately set about constructing a temple to Sigmar and a smithy, within which he forged himself two new hammers one named Kampf the other Glauben. With these hammers in his hands he’d preach to the masses of the virtues of sacrifice and duty, always keeping one eye on the door to see if von Braun would return to his true path. Every day, when von Braun failed to show, Klocke would walk across town to the manor and enter von Braun’s offices and ask his former General if he had anything to confess. And every day he got the same answer; Many things, priest, but not today.
It was this simple act of charity towards von Braun that no doubt kept Klocke from having any unfortunate accidents whenever he dumped into his former brothers in arms. Although Kampf and Glauben were always within reach should they need reminding of his martial abilities.
When von Braun announced his intention to travel to Mordheim Klocke insisted on coming. To the surprise of the entire party von Braun immediately agreed claiming that his abilities as a warrior and a smithy would be invaluable to the expedition but with a wry smile Klocke accepted his place knowing full well that before the end he would hear von Braun’s confession.