Ulthuan

Ulthuan, Home of the Asur
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:55 am 
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It has been bothering me for some time that the Dark Elves (Lore wise) are superior to the High Elves. Is this true? or is it quite the opposite? Im just trying to get a mental picture of how the never ending feud between the Dark and High elves endures. Like, are the High elves living in fear of the Druchii? are they heavily out-numbered? or do they know that they are truly superior to the Druchii? Pretty much to sum my question up is, on an all out war scenario: every thing that claims to be of allegiance to the Dark Elves, vs everything that claims to be of allegiance to the High Elves, who would most likely win? I know this is a cheesy question but I have been wanting to ask this for some time, and I'm too lazy to read The Sundering.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:29 am 
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Asur vs Druchii, they have the advantage of drugged slaves and crossbows, but they are always the attacker, attacking our heavily defended gates.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:31 am 
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Ahhh really they're the antithesis of one another.

Druchii - superior numbers, boiling hatred, cultists
Asur - usually defending, disciplined, superior leadership (depending on the era)

I doubt the Asur live in fear of the Druchii, much like a Space Marine would never fear Chaos. Druchii are simply a force that must be dealt with and ever watchful for.

Realistically the story makes zero sense, the strength of both nations would have exhausted centuries ago.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:59 am 
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The lordcal: This is GW: who says that they have to be realistic, or even make sense ;)

I'd say their equal opposites as well. The only reason the Druchi seem to be more poswerful is that they have no inhabitions.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:51 pm 
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I really have a hard time figuring out the superior numbers thing myself. Where do they come from? They seem just as happy to kill each other as anyone else, and are constantly fighting something or another.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:53 pm 
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As I understood it, the Asur outnumber the Druchii by quite a bit - I think Giladis had numbers on populations at one point that panned that out. That to me was always the explanation of why the Druchii took slaves. Yes its important to rituals, mining, and their general economy, but it also allows their entire civilian population to take up arms if necessary. The druchii don't have greater numbers than the Asur, but their entire culture is geared for war.
The reason the Asur don't just go wipe them out is because they know it would tip their already waning civilization from a slow decline into a sure thing. There's also political reasons, making it difficult to get anything done, and that the Asur are 'relatively' peaceful in comparison to just about ever Warhammer race - they're far more isolationist and insular. Its far easier to rouse them to defense than it is for offense.

I may be wrong though - its not a point I'd argue over.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:10 pm 
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~Milliardo~ wrote:
As I understood it, the Asur outnumber the Druchii by quite a bit - I think Giladis had numbers on populations at one point that panned that out. That to me was always the explanation of why the Druchii took slaves. Yes its important to rituals, mining, and their general economy, but it also allows their entire civilian population to take up arms if necessary. The druchii don't have greater numbers than the Asur, but their entire culture is geared for war.
The reason the Asur don't just go wipe them out is because they know it would tip their already waning civilization from a slow decline into a sure thing. There's also political reasons, making it difficult to get anything done, and that the Asur are 'relatively' peaceful in comparison to just about ever Warhammer race - they're far more isolationist and insular. Its far easier to rouse them to defense than it is for offense.

I may be wrong though - its not a point I'd argue over.


Sounds reasonable. I still don't see where they'd manage the numbers to mount any meaningful attack of Ulthuan though. Nor do I understand how the HE have enough population to manage to accomplish anything at all given the story of the last DE invasion.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:37 am 
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Mmm, I agree with you there - there's substantial plot-holes and leaps of logic, or things that are just plain omitted. I like to just collect what information is there and then try to make the most of it and piece it together... but many people arrive at totally different conclusions.

Most people found Giladis' population numbers very much on the low-side - I think his were gleamed indirectly from the WHFRP stuff that has population numbers given for Empire cities and were estimations taken after the old Storm of Chaos/Archeon stuff. A lot of the black library stuff has numbers that are much higher than WHFRP presented as well - I'm reading the Nagash omnibus now and the armies fighting range between 40-60k a side for human, pre-'everybody dead' Tomb King/Nehekaran armies. In other books, its only a few thousand. Its really all over the place. The table-top armies present a much smaller, almost modern approximation of what an army looks like. The novels almost always present grand, epic armies that rival or dwarf our largest ancient battles. The WHFRP stuff presents armies on the scale of post-black death/bubonic plague style, pre-renaissance stuff, in my opinion.

I like to think that a low percentage or so of Ulthuan's total population is under arms at any given time - 10-15%, for the sake of argument. That includes Lothern Seaguard and professional warriors/monks like Swordmasters and Phoenix Guard. During wartime, or a large campaign, it jumps up as needed due to citizen levy. For most battles or small wars, the percent increase of Ulthuan under arms would increase negligibly due to this being a pre-made, well-selected force of volunteer warriors - in other words, not desperate and it has the initiative. Then, you have the bee's nest scenario of Ulthuan attacked, where the percentage jumps up ridiculously high to something like 70% under arms - higher than any non-ebil human population could ever attempt to reach, due to the citizen levy, a better understanding of what is at stake due to lack of ignorance, and finally much less cowardice due to elitism and personal sense of honor.

The explanation of why I think Druchii can attack Ulthuan at all is because of their raider nature. I have little to back it up, but I'm almost certain that their percent at arms at any given time would be exponentially higher - they do little of their own farming, mining, or any mundane task, and so every dark elf can serve as a crew member aboard a Reaver or a Black Arc in pursuit of plunder and personal glory. They need very few elves left behind to maintain order with their slaves, as druchii are masters of breaking the will... I picture slave gear and magical binders and black lotus to keep everyone dumb and compliant.

Every novel or story about Druchii attacking High Elves is one of two types - quick raids/spoiler attacks to assess power, take more slaves and cause pain and suffering for its own sake, or more epically with the idea of conquering Ulthuan. Every time the latter fails, its because Ulthuan 'got its act together' - the first half of every book is Asur being pitifully unprepared, unready and generally acting half-asleep.

While it irks me a lot, mainly because of how its written, it does pan out that idea that regardless of how they play on the table-top, in campaigns Dark Elves are masters of blitzkrieg strikes that seek to overwhelm and win the battle quickly or they fail because they have no staying power, whereas High Elves (atleast against Dark Elves) are slower to rouse and more defensive and are very much reactionary. Their sheer size gets in the way - because of how large the island is, the political machinations and intrigue, not to mention dark elf plots, spying and sabotage. Once the levy gets going, its only a matter of time until a Caledorian wakes up a few dozen dragons and then the Dark Elves are sent packing - Malekith is Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, really.

There is one book, that I know of, where High Elves attack Naggaroth - a pair of short stories in Warhammer: Invasion! I'd rather not spoil it, because I think its the best written elf fiction from Warhammer I've read, but it presents the situation in reverse - the High Elves are attacking, the Dark Elves are defending, and it highlights what the Dark Elves rely on in defense - scape-goating, shifting the enemy's attention, and Malekith. The High Elves on the other hand are a lot more how they're presented in the game - masters of close-combat and quick, decisive assaults. They have flaws as well - the Dark Elves get slapped around quite handily, much like the High Elves on defense in every other novel written, and they also trip over their own politics and petty schemes. Similarly, the High Elves, despite coming from a much larger nation, have problems with supply and continuing the fight, though it comes more from a lack of bloodthirsty drive and motivation, rather than a lack of soldiers.

I think that pretty much sums up, in my opinion at least, what advantages and disadvantages they have. I feel that Ulthuan is still very much the center of elf-kind - the Dark Elves are 'merely' off-shoots, and while its theoretically possible for Dark Elves to capture Ulthuan, they would need to do so very quickly, subjugating several key cities in one go, converting and/or enslaving its citizens and then moving on at a break-neck pace. If the Dark Elves were to simply try to wipe the High Elves out, then they'd wipe out more than 3/4ths of the entire elf population of the Warhammer world and doom themselves in the process.
Similarly, the High Elves are very much a nation at peace - they're the epitome of Order, after all. But with that comes stagnation - they're no longer as imperialistic or expansionist as they once were, though there's plenty of new fluff that seeks to supplant that (particularly with wood elves as well). They're either at the start of a recovery or continuing down their slow decline. In a word, they're stuck - they're not so much hovering at that point of going backwards or forwards, like it was a conscious decision to be indecisive, but they're struggling not to go backwards, and trying to recover, and at the least stay where they were... and that's very much part of their 'hook' to players. Are you a bad enough dude to save all of Ulthuan?

This ties in with exactly what the Warhammer world is though, its very much a Jenga style leaning tower waiting to collapse on its self at first glance... that's actually a lot more secure than it may look, perhaps because its really already fallen over. It can fall over some more, and does, but its already kind of a mess. I firmly believe that any race is probably capable of finishing off any other race militarily (except maybe halflings)... but it would doom them in the process, either from resources expended, or by opening them up to new threats.
You see this time and time again in the novels, where when one of the Chaotic/Evil factions rises up, the good guys band together just long enough for them to smash the offending nail back into the woodwork... never quite finishing the job and finishing them, or making lasting alliances, but returning everything to status quo. In many cases, its not even the good guys who seal the deal, but an unknown, un-looked for ally found in another unrelated, possibly even evil race that sees an opportunity to end a threat to itself.

At the end of the day, as much fun as it is to rationalize and theorize about all this, the Warhammer universes are very much static, fixed things. They don't change or evolve much, if at all, and are famous for going backwards again when they did make progress! Its annoying, but at the same time, if they did move, it would result in races being removed or changed unrecognizably - like Squats, or to a much lesser and more positive degree, the Tomb Kings and Vampire Counts forming when the Undead faction split in half.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:45 am 
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Don't one of the old army book tell the story of Eltharion's attack of Naggaroth?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:46 am 
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Elessehta of Yvresse wrote:
Don't one of the old army book tell the story of Eltharion's attack of Naggaroth?


It's mentioned in the current one.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:54 am 
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the 5th or 6th ed one goes into a lot more detail.

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These may be the last days of the Asur, but if we are to leave this world let us do it as the heroes of old, sword raised against evil!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:32 pm 
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The 6th Ed one has his return as the blind swordmaster.

Not only does he punk Shadowblade but he also manages to wound the Witch King! Something he hasn't felt in 2,000 + years.

It sends him into quite the tizzy.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:56 pm 
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@ Milliardo, I really like your assessment of relative powers and weaknesses. I would perhaps add that in newer novels it becomes common practice Malekith is trying to conquer Ulthuan while Morathi is trying to destroy the Vortex to gain unelfy (unelven?) powers. In which case Ulthuan would be most likely destroyed. This throws things even more off balance, it is probably easier to achieve that than conquer all.
It is also a fact that there are often more dead in battles than there were soldiers...

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:05 am 
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Plot armour.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:20 am 
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Musashi wrote:
Plot armour.

This! :P

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:01 pm 
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I think this might be a bit to a side, but I have always compared Ulthuan to bronze-age Greece, while Naggaroth would be geared more to Rome in the times of the Ceasars.
Greece was sort of always trying to improve on itself, and while it was doing that, there were also conflicts between the smaller "nations" (as I like to call them) on Ulthuan) which used to be signified by the "intrigue at the court" rule.
So where Naggaroth has a vast and deadly army, Ulthuan is made up of a lot of smaller armies, each to it's own nation, and the strict battleforce of the Phoenix King would depend on how many of the Princes would join his expeditions/wars.
The elves of Ulthuan would outnumber the elves of Naggaroth about 2/1 but most of these would have only had basic martial training and would be at best Spearmen, Archers or Silver Helms, leaving the truly martial nations such as Nagarythe, Cothique, Chrace and a few others like Caledor to provide heavier support for the rest of Ulthuan.
I think in terms of agricultural significance the inner Kingdoms are Ulthuan's greatest triumph. Perpetual harvests ensures that there is always a constant supplyline to the outer warring kingdoms. this would also be where the most significant "militia" is based. These inner kingdoms are not as bare as the outward ones, which also would give them greater capability to expand it's populations.
Whereas Naggaroth is harsh and cold, and full of betrayal, their population-growth is hampered, which is why they are constantly on raiding-expeditions to capture slaves. They lack any descent soil for good crops and thus must rely on their raids and trade to provide their wealth and sustainance.

Further more, I'd say Ulthuan's only mayor set-back in growth are their dark cousins; the main cause of death on Ulthuan has always been the Druchii, since we hardly ever have illnesses and the dangers of the wild are minimal at best compared to the rest of the warhammer world.

I personally don't really see Ulthuan bothering with the affairs of men and dwarves on the Old World, or that their greed would carry more than an insignificant party to the Southlands where they'd search for riches.

In short; The Asur and Druchii are on equal footing, despite their radically different views and reliances. Our agricultural and economic power exceeds that of Naggaroth, but Naggaroth's military power exceeds that of Ulthuan.
The only thing keeping us safe is that we have some pretty badass nations on the outer-kingdoms. Chrace, Caledor, Nagarythe and Eataine to name a few~ If they can hold up, we can wait out this chaotic era.

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