The Enemy Within
The Cult of Sigmar
Seat of Power: Altdorf
Head of the Cult: Grand Theogonist Yorri XV
Primary Orders: Order of the Anvil, Order of the Cleansing Flame, Order of the Silver Hammer, Order of the Torch
Major Festival: Sigmar’s Day (18th Sigmarzeit)
Popular Holy Books: The Book of Sigmar, Deus Sigmar, The Geistbuch
Common Holy Symbols: Ghal Maraz (Sigmar’s Warhammer), the twin-tailed comet, a Griffon
In The Empire, the Cult of Sigmar is well recognised. All levels of society gather in local temples each Festag for the Festag Throng, where priests of the Order of the Torch preach unity from their pulpits and recite holy words from their lecterns. Sigmarite temples often act as a focus for local communities, with priests arranging seasonal rituals, advising folk, forming choirs, and organising locals into bands of militiamen to better defend The Empire. Temples with no local templars also train the cream of the youth to act as Hammer Bearers, black-robed men who guard the temple’s holiest artefacts, and carry them during special parades and Sigmar’s Day festivals. In some larger temples, the Hammer Bearers are greatly feared elite warriors, who bear Great Swords upon their backs, scars upon their faces, and escort the priests wherever they may go.
In comparison to the priests of the Order of the Torch, who guard the minds of the citizens of the Empire, the Order of the Silver Hammer wanders the Empire, guarding the borders by smiting threats and advising the authorities. Its members also help at temples when they pass, and can often be found talking to unsure initiates, training Hammer Bearers, or preaching at the Throng. The grim-faced warrior priests are well-loved by the people, for they keep the Empire safe with their mighty warhammers and dauntless courage, bringing the holy Word of Sigmar to the few communities that have no temples.
The monastic Order of the Anvil guards the Word of Sigmar, which is the foundation stone of all Sigmarite law. When there is a dispute within the cult, it is to these dour Sigmarite monks that the other orders turn, for they understand the minutiae of all the cult practices. Although the order’s monks rarely leave their isolated monasteries, they do sometimes tour the Empire, acting as travelling judges, searching for lost tomes of Sigmarite law, or acting upon the orders of their superiors.
The last of the major orders, the feared Order of the Flame, is not well known by the populace at large. It guards the Empire from corruption, charged to seek out and destroy the dark seeds of Chaos wherever they may lie. The flame-marked medallions worn by the order’s inquisitor-priests grants them access to all Sigmarite temples, monasteries and chapterhouses in the Empire, and local cultists are expected to grant them any “reasonable” request. Although most Empire citizens have never heard of the order, without its protection, the Empire may have fallen to the Dark Powers centuries ago.
Alongside these, the four most-influential orders, are countless smaller orders, all filled with devout men and women ready to step forward and defend the Empire, no matter what the cost for doing so may be.
Like most people in the Empire, Sigmarites are insular, superstitious, and suspicious, but they view this as a sensible reaction to the corrupt world in which they live. Their self-appointed duty as guardians of the Empire and its people has brought them into contact with all manner of evil, which they have dutifully recorded in a sealed library found deep within the cult’s high temple. Thus, much like the Dwarves, a race they revere as Sigmar’s strongest allies, Sigmarites never forget, and fully trust none. This, they claim, is a paranoia not born of fear or ignorance, but of experience.
Mental fortitude and defensive tactics are of paramount importance to Sigmarites, who view all-out assault or loose thinking as open gates for corruption and heresy. However, nothing is more important than defending the Empire Sigmar created, and they are willing to go to almost any lengths to ensure this.
The cult also prizes strength and strong leadership, qualities they associate with Sigmar himself. They use these traits to promote the same strength amongst the folk of the Empire, and strike at the heart of heresy, the influence of the Dark Gods, wherever it may be.
Although every temple has its own traditions for initiating new members into the cult, the general process varies little. First, the novitiates (the Sigmarite term for initiates) are accepted into the order by a priest, an event that is often marked with ritual shaving. Next, they are taught the ways of Sigmar. Finally, when the training is completed, the novitiate is tested by a ranking member of the cult.
Most temples only accept novitiates when young; but, theoretically, anyone called to Sigmar, regardless of age, can join the cult. Those temples that practice ritual shaving have many different traditions, but hammer or comet-shaped tonsures are common.
Novitiates rarely have any free time between the daily prayers and degrading chores they perform. What little they do have is often spent in contemplation of sacred texts. Many temples have a master of novitiates who leads weekly lessons in history, theology, literacy and Dwarf lore, but it is also common to attach novitiates to a priest who acts as their “Father” and teaches them what they need to know using whatever, often brutal, methods he prefers.
Eventually, when their superiors deem the time is right, novitiates are tested. Common tests include perfectly reciting the Twelve Prayers of Righteousness, or singing the Canticles of Sigmar without error, followed by intensive questioning by ranking members of the cult. However, there is no standard, and tests can take many forms. Some temples in Averland demand novitiates kill a Greenskin and carved the “Litany of Great Deeds” into its chest. One Stirlander flagellant order subjects all novitiates to the “Rite of the Three Brothers” after a three-day fast, which is considerably more painful than it sounds.
No two cultists of Sigmar are the same. The varying orders, individual temples, and widely divergent local traditions demand Sigmar’s representatives wear a broad array of different ceremonial outfits and cultivate some truly bizarre hairstyles.
The Order of the Silver Hammer’s warrior priests are almost always found wearing yellow-detailed black robes over protective leathers. Sacred breastplates – emblazoned with griffons, comets or crosses – and wide, high-necked gorgets are the preferred choices for armour, but cheaper chainmail is often worn in their stead. Hair is commonly shaved when a novitiate is elevated to the order, although some priests allow patches to grow back, where they carefully shave holy symbols or solemn liturgies.
The different monasteries of the Order of the Anvil vary in their required garb and hair styles. Simple grey or black habits are common, although brown is known in the east of the Empire, and green or orange are worn in some isolated monasteries of Talabecland and Reikland. Hair is usually shaved, with novitiates tonsured, but this again varies, with some monasteries demanding that hair grow wild, have stripes shaved through it, or be caught in hundreds of tight breads. Wide, high-necked collars are also common, mirroring the gorgets of the warrior priests.
The massive Order of the Torch is even more diverse. Black robes may be the standard, with brown and grey also common, but some temples wear white, orange, red or even purple robes, as dictated by local traditions and superstitions – although each variance requires, at some point, permission from the Grand Theogonist. High, wide collars are again common, although far from universal, as are shaved heads. The typical hammers, comets, griffons, holy seals and prayer parchments are usually displayed in one fashion or another, although some temples teach that such open displays of faith idolise the objects rather than glorifying Sigmar. Another common tradition is to wear holy books, sometimes at the waist, sometimes upon the back, as a symbolic burden. This is taken to extremes by some priests, who wear miniature holy text on their foreheads to protect their minds from heresy, tying them in place with strips of leather.
The smaller Order of the Cleansing Flame tightly controls its ceremonial dress in the same way as it carefully monitors its members. Robes are black, detailed in red, and hair is cropped close to the skull, with elaborate tonsures sported by ranking members of the order. Floor-length, hooded, black cloaks are also worn, although novitiates may not raise the hood. Unlike the other primary orders, this ceremonial garb is normally only worn on important occasions. When travelling, members of the Order of the Cleansing Flame wear whatever clothes allow them to fulfil their order’s purpose, which include dressing in the garb of other orders, or disguising themselves as peasants or travelling merchants. No matter what they wear, all members of the order own a holy amulet with a single flame in its centre; this is the badge of their order, used to prove they are on Sigmar’s business.
The Grand Theogonist rules the monumentally complex hierarchy of the Cult of Sigmar. His is a stupendously powerful position. Not only does the Grand Theogonist have absolute authority over the larger, most-powerful cult in the Empire, appointing the leaders of all the major orders, he also has a great deal of secular influence.
The Grand Theogonist directly leads the cult’s ruling order, the Order of the Torch, which is larger than all the other Sigmarite orders combined. He appoints all of the order’s upper hierarchy, which includes the two arch lectors, eighteen lectors, four high capitulars, twelve capitulars, various theogonists and countless high priests. There are many other positions – such as the high confessor, the scriptorium master, the keeper of the sacred bell, and the arch adjutant – but most of these are found in, or near, the enormous grand temple in Altdorf.
The Order of the Torch runs almost all of the temples and shrines dotted across the Empire. Most temples have a high priest who is appointed by the local lector or high capitular. The high priest responsible for all Sigmarite worship in his local area, and appoints the priests that attend local temples and ensure the upkeep of important shrines.
In comparison to this broad-ranging influence, the warrior-priests of the Order of the Silver Hammer have no temples they can call their own. Their few buildings are usually attached to the temples and chapterhouses of other orders. This is because the few high priests of the order are as itinerant as the priests, wandering from place-to-place as they see fit, directing local representatives of the order to wherever they are needed. They are the broadest ranging of the Sigmarite orders, and are often found under the command of the Order of the Torch’s theogonists, spearheading cult missions in other countries. The order has no ruling body, and is supposedly directed by ranking members of the Order of the Torch, but few have any idea just how many Warrior Priests wander their domains at any one time. Successful high priests of the order are often promoted by the Grand Theogonist to an electoral position, an event that is never popular amongst the high priests of the Order of the Torch.
The monastic Order of the Anvil is more populous than many expect, as, they are masters of cult and Empire law, they are also more influential than the other orders would like. The Keeper of the Word leads the order from the Helstrum Monastery in the Temple District of Altdorf. His position is for life, and he is the ultimate arbitrator of the Word of Sigmar, even though, in theory, the Grand Theogonist could overrule him. Each monastery of the order is lead by an abbot who is theoretically answerable to the Keeper of the Word, but in practice has almost unrestricted power over the monks and novitiates in his care. In many isolated monasteries, the abbot is not even appointed by the Keeper of the Word, but by the monks themselves.
Lastly, even though the secretive Order of the Cleansing Flame only has a single chapterhouse attached to Altdorf, their effective power outweighs almost every other order, as they can command almost any Sigmarite, within reason. The order is led by the Inquisitor General, who controls the order’s high inquisitors, inquisitor priests and novitiates very tightly, aware that all power can corrupt, especially the power of the Order of the Cleansing Flame itself. Many of their number are recruited from the other orders, especially the Order of the Silver Hammer and the Templars of Sigmar, although particularly devout, secular Witch Hunters and torturers are often accepted as well.
Sigmar’s temples vary enormously both in the degree of ornamentation and their layout, largely depending on the character of the benefactor who contributed to their construction. There is one fairly common design, however, which emulates the lofty cathedral in Altdorf. This is based around an octagonal central chamber, topped with a gilded cupola and supported by ornate flying buttresses. Inside it is richly decorated with brightly coloured frescoes, a huge statue and golden altar pieces. All Sigmar’s temples have two features in common: they have no seats for the congregation, who are expected to stand and/or kneel on hard, cold stone floors; and they all face towards Karaz-a-Karak, the Dwarven citadel whither, it is believed, Sigmar made his last journey in mortal form.
- Obey your orders.
- Aid Dwarf-folk
- Work to promote the unity of the Empire, even at the cost of individual liberty.
- Bear true allegiance to His Imperial Majesty the Emperor.
- Root out and destroy Greenskins, the servants of Chaos, and those who use corrupt magic, wherever they may hide.