"Noble life demands a noble architecture for noble uses of noble men. Lack of culture means what it has always meant: ignoble civilization and therefore imminent downfall."
- – Frank Llyod Wright
The Von Carsteins are a Bloodline (type of vampires related by a lineage of being turned leading back to the very first vampires) of Vampires from Warhammer Fantasy. They are the posterboy Bloodline of the faction, best summarized as the Dracula Bloodline (or the Tzimisce without Vicissitude for Vampire: The Masquerade fans).
The original Von Carstein is not really named Von Carstein; Vlad von Carstein is the made up name of Vashanesh, ex-husband of the first vampire Queen Neferata. Neferata's idiot brother ruled their kingdom of Lahmia, although due to his ineffectual rule the real power behind the throne was his sister. He along with the rest of her royal court in Lahmia shared her Elixer which she and Arkhan the Black perfected using the Books of Nagash. After an..."accident" (probably involving blood loss, maybe a bit of mutilation and castration) Neferata took the throne; despite being the Pharaoh of a kingdom described as highly sexist (contrast with Neferata's cousin's kingdom which was fine with a female monarch) Vashanesh is barely mentioned as even being important among the vampires themselves meaning he was most likely a relaxed political puppet for his wife. After some overly opulent living leading to some badly botched efforts to keep the secret of Vampirism under wraps the Vampires were attacked and defeated by other Nehekharans, forcing them to flee to the side of the guy who invented Necromancy, Nagash himself.
After the defeat of the Vampires and Nagash and during the death of Nehekhara/birth of the Tomb Kings, Vlad and all but two of the other Vampires who had stood with Nagash's forces fought and blamed each other for the loss (Neferata had left before the battle occurred, and Abhorash had fought until defeat before leaving without a word to the others). Nagash's EXTREMELY angry spirit cursed all Vampires with the assorted mythological weaknesses like inability to cross running water and not having reflections (the latter because by nature Vampires are extremely vain) causing the embittered Vampires to flee his wrath by making their own ways through the apparently quite passable "impassible" mountains separating Nehekhara from the Old World. Vlad avoided the entanglements of greenskins that hindered the others and found his own way to The Empire Of Sigmar. Vampires were still mostly an unknown to the humans of Warhammer Europe, despite Sigmar himself having fought them and there being a minor matter of the Empire marching to destroy Mourkain during the story of W'soran and Ushoran. Thanks to the status quo-enforcing policies of Neferata's web of international sexy spies the common folk knew little of Vampires and feared them only among the various other things that are probably lurking in the night.
According to a later retcon Vashanesh never existed. In the new version Vlad's old identity was a noble ally of Neferata's named Ankhat who mostly managed the day to day operations of the city, and Neferata never remarried after her brother was killed. As of The End Times the rulebook confirms he was Vashanesh... while the novel never mentions the name and says Neferata only ever loved Arkhan. At this point, pick a canon you like.
Vlad and IsabellaEdit
After spending some time gathering information Vashanesh found that he had come to a land called Sylvania. Sylvania was poor and ruled primarily by corrupt leaders who were hated and feared by the populace. The magic Wind Of Death blew strongly through Sylvania, causing madness in much of its inbred nobility and giving the land a cursed and barren landscape. He also discovered that the leader of the region, the mad count Otto Von Drak, had an inheritance crisis due to having no son to inherit and an intense hatred of his brother Leopold Von Drak. Vashanesh invented the name Vlad Von Carstein, obtained some nice clothes, and presented himself as the handsome nobleman to the court of Castle Drakenhof interested in joining the family. Otto, on his deathbed in the year of 1797, almost immediately gave "Vlad" his daughter Isabella as a wife and died soon after that. Leopold had an "accident" of falling off a tower (possibly involving blood loss, most likely due to Vlad literally tearing his heart out of his chest for Isabella) and the Sigmarite priest vanished (blood AND body loss!).
Vlad began a network operation of discovering who's who among Sylvanian nobility, greatly aided by Isabella. Although loyal in concept to the Von Drak line she had a great deal of hatred for her father and those of the court, and eagerly made herself more than just a pawn to her new husband. She accepted his Vampiric nature and fell in love, slowly creeping her way into his heart as well. With her guidance Vlad turned the most loyal (read: least batshit fucking insane) nobles into Vampires while making sure the rest met with various "accidents" (probably involving blood loss and the complete removal of their family name from all records and tombstones). While Vlad was prone to great bouts of rage at any slight (like all Nehekharans) Isabella was of a calm temperament, able to calm her husband and lead him back to reason which ensured that only those who truly deserved his anger received it (cruelly, in front of an assembled gathering of the nobility). The common folk of Sylvania, always oppressed and downtrodden, fearing at any moment that a new burst of the local lord's madness would lead to a fresh purge of their friends and family, actually benefited from Vlad's rule; excessive cruelty was not tolerated, and Vlad GREATLY encouraged acting as if they were still mortal which necessitated living servants and workers on the Sylvanian estates. Taxes were more fair and suddenly being killed by a lord was due to their need for sustenance rather than just because said nobleman found them annoying. Vlad eliminated the bandits and corrupt mercenaries, as well as Chaos worship (Sigmar worship suddenly and inexplicably dropped as well after). Most nobles who were turned gladly renamed themselves Von Carstein in Vlad and Isabella's honor (most were related already anyway).
Isabella wanted to remain with Vlad forever, but knew that soon she would start to fall to age, but Vlad refused to make her a Vampire. While Vlad was away she became deathly ill (AKA poisoned herself, which backfired when she got tuberculosis) and he rushed home to save her. Upon arriving home he found that she was dead, but after sending away the healers and mortician he spent three days alone in her room after which she was suddenly perfectly okay (the doctors may have been confused due to sudden inexplicable blood loss).
Age Of The Three Emperors (First War of the Vampire Counts\First Vampire War)Edit
During the events of Mordheim in 1999 on the Imperial Calendar Vlad managed to woo one of his ex's servants, Baroness Katherina von Dernsbach, and sent her to the city to lead Vampire forces in stealing as much Warpstone as possible.
Long before Vlad reached the Empire, the Age of Three Emperors started due to an election crisis following the assassination of Mandred Skavenslayer by Skaven in 1152. A successor was not appointed until 1359 when (through accused bribery) the Count of Stirland became Emperor leading to the Countess of Ottilia deciding SHE was Empress, causing a war which raged on and off until 1547 when the Count of Middenland declared himself Emperor due to a conflict with the Sigmar and Ulric churches. After the infant Countess of Marienburg won the election for Emperor, the Church of Sigmar rejected her rulership. By the time that Vlad had decided the time was right to fight to become Emperor, his rivals were the Countess of Talabecland, the Count of Reikland, and the Count of Marienburg and the Empire was a complete fucking mess.
In 2010, on Geheimnisnacht (AKA Halloween, when Morrslieb is closest to
Mallus the Warhammer World) Vlad invited the nobility of Sylvania to a feast where the Vampire nobles fed on the remaining mortal nobility after which he consumed all of the gathered Warpstone and read an incantation of Nagash straight from one of the nine Books Of Nagash which caused the undead of Sylvania to rise and march.
Throughout the wars, Vlad was continually killed and to the amazement of all initially, and to his enemies afterwards (the first time one of his subordinates named Herman Posner tried to take over the faction), he returned every night (or within the hour if it was already night) as if nothing happened. This was due to his ring, the Von Carstein Ring, given to him by Nagash at some point which allowed him to return to life as long as he was still wearing it.
First he attacked Talabheim, killing Ottilia, followed by taking Stirland and Ostermark. To end the war in 2051 he laid siege to Altdorf in order to take Reikland and thus the Empire itself. The Grand Theogonist claimed to have received a vision from Sigmar revealing that Vlad's ring was the source of his resurrection in order to prevent the Empire from bowing to Vlad. The greatest thief of the time, Felix Mann (no, not THAT Felix) was sent to steal the ring which was easy due to
rebellious Vampires Vlad's army believing they had nothing to fear; he ran off with it, and was later caught by Mannfred, who took the ring and his hands before leaving him in a cathedral to die whereupon he was saved by a Dwarf and...the writers forgot about him. Vlad attacked in a rage once he woke up the next night and found the ring gone and wound up in melee combat with the Grand Theogonist on the walls of Altdorf (because getting into a duel during a battle is the perfect reaction to finding out your get out of death free card is missing). Vlad fatally stabbed the Sig-pope, who tackled him straight off the walls and onto the stakes below while Vlad's magic bloodsucking sword filled him with pope-blood (remember, holy burns undead). The combination, without the ring, killed him and prevented resurrection. Isabella, who was in the middle of claiming the Empire with the Reikland claimant at her mercy, killed herself instead in order to be with Vlad. The Vampires retreated to Sylvania and the Empire focused on ending the succession crisis...which didn't happen until 2145.
Age Of The Three Emperors (Second War of the Vampire Counts\Second Vampire War)Edit
After the deaths of the Von Carstein patriarch and matriarch, the bulk of the invading undead army were destroyed by humans or loss of the magic animating them.
The primary contenders for rulership of the Von Carsteins were Mannfred von Carstein, Fritz Von Carstein, Pieter Von Carstein, Hans Von Carstein, and Konrad von Carstein. Mannfred, being a non-confrontational nerd, figured it was a good time for a world tour and immediately fucked off to parts unknown (but not before travelling through a few towns with another vampire named Jon Skellan to carry out a series of murder-orgies on the most beautiful women they could find). Fritz attempted to restart Vlad's invasion of the Empire and was killed in Middenheim. Pieter attacked a town where he was killed by Helmut van Hal, one of the Witch Hunter descendants of Frederick van Hal. Hans and Konrad engaged each other in a duel over who was the strongest Vampire, which Konrad won by tearing Hans apart and burning the pieces.
This was unfortunate for the Von Carsteins. Konrad was one of the last Vampires turned by Vlad and for unknown reasons; he was ridiculously insane even by Sylvanian standards, having depopulated towns in mass executions on a whim (specifically, "they smelled bad") and executed his mother for giving birth to him without prior permission by him. He had no talent in magic, insulting and killing Necromancers assigned to him and anyone he thought was mocking his lack of magic ability.
Although inept at leadership, combat tactics, politics, and just about anything else not directly related to sticking something sharp in someone, he managed to intimidate a record number of Necromancers and Vampires into his service and put them into one giant army which steamrolled through the Empire with a record number of Undead. This slowly advancing wave was only capable of destruction, rather than establishing a chain of command and rulership like Vlad had done. Konrad was defeated in 2100 in the Battle of Four Armies (surprisingly not a reference to Tolkien) by the combined armies of Altdorf, Talabheim and Marienburg, but still "won" since the election crisis resulted in the Count of Altdorf and the Ottilia of Talabheim assassinating each other while the count of Marienburg was killed by Konrad, then sent as a Zombie to try and claim the Empire in Konrad's name (which canonically only failed because the Necromancers puppeting him had done a bad job of hiding his decomposition).
In 2121 Konrad was defeated by an army of the Empire and Dwarfs, but only due to Konrad's Necromancers all abandoning him at once after finally getting sick of his bullshit (this is canon). Most of the army crumbled, and after attempting to control them regardless Konrad's already scrambled brain was reheated and pitched out the window resulting in him wandering around in the woods until Thane Grufbad of the Dwarf army and the son of the Count of Marienburg wrestled him to the ground and beheaded him (to put this in context, Vampires can backhand a fucking Ogre or a Chaos Champion, but some random human and Dwarf managed to get him on his back).
Age Of The Three Emperors (Third War of the Vampire Counts\Third Vampire War)Edit
During Konrad's bullshit crusade, Manny had managed to explore Nehekhara, reclaimed some of the Books of Nagash (there's a lore snarl where he apparently claimed all of them despite them all being in multiple places at once and being lost to the sands of time). He managed to commune with Nagash, swearing allegiance, learned from Arkhan the Black, set up ties with the Necrarch Bloodline, and returned just in time to restore order after Konrad got a
Game Of Thrones Walking Dead side character death.
Mannfred returned to Altdorf to lay siege, but the Church of Sigmar had learned how to effectively deal with Undead and Mannfred's army was crushed. He used ambushes and raiding to put pressure on the Empire until the Battle Of Hel Fen in 2145, where, despite dealing with disease and the sicknesses of the swamps resulting in a massive amount of casualties, Mannfred's largely Zombie-based army was destroyed and his lifeless body sunk into the muck. Thus ended the last Vampire War, and the succession crisis FINALLY ended after nearly going on longer than the Empire itself.
Felix (yes, THAT Felix) saw and wrote about the resurrection of Mannfred during his travels with the God Emperor Of Murderhobos Gotrek. In fact they unintentionally made it possible. Felix and Gotrek were staying at an inn, having been recruited to rescue the innkeeper's adult daughter, Elsa (not a reference to Frozen), who had been captured by a necromancer. They find the Necromancer trying to use her as a virgin sacrifice to resurrect a vampire. Gotrek cuts him in half and they rescue the woman. However the necromancer's blood leaked through the ground onto Mannfred's body and revived him (revealing the necromancer to have been a virgin, which provoked some amusement from Mannfred).
After nearly abusing the innkeeper's hospitality (Gotrek nearly drinking all the booze and Felix attempting to seduce Elsa), a servant of Mannfred's burns down the inn. Deprived of their vices (the booze is burned up and Elsa has too much of a revenge-boner to care about Felix's literal one) and mad at the wanton destruction, they track down the perpetrator. During this time Mannfred had commandeered a ship and put the crew under his thrall (through a mix of vampire charm and the threat of gruesome death) and sailed to a hidden base. Gotrek and Felix track him down to his lair twice. First time he flees after getting a small cut from Gotrek's axe. The second time Gotrek temporarily loses the axe and forced Mannfred to flee by beating him with a pair of silver candlesticks. Mannfred goes into hiding while Gotrek and Felix go to do their thing in later books.
Despite the interference of Gotrek and Felix, Mannfred kept his resurrection under wraps in the same manner as the Skaven keep their existence. He actively recruited all Vampires from any Bloodline, assassinating or sabotaging any who didn't sign up with him while avoiding direct conflict with the other Bloodlines. Von Carsteins were bullied back into the chain of command, and Mannfred began his war by attacking the Dwarfs and kidnapping Aliathra, Everqueen heir to the High Elves using a prodded force of greenskins and Heinrich Kemmler.
The sun stopped rising in Sylvania and Vampires became openly active again. Mannfred openly seceded from the Empire in 2522 by sending a letter to Karl Franz - a letter written in blood on human skin, stuffed down the throat of a Witch Hunter's corpse which was dropped into parliament hall by a Terrorgheist - where he declared himself leader of Sylvania at the same time as he stole the Crown Of Sorcery AKA Nagash's favorite tiara. Volkmar The Grim attempted a crusade against Sylvania, but the force was defeated and he was taken captive. Balthasar Gelt created a giant magical wall trapping the Undead within Sylvania. Mannfred responded by using the blood of Volkmar, the Fey Enchantress, and Aliathra to create a giant wall of bones inside Sylvania preventing the living from entering.
(Fuck this shit, I'm not writing it.)
Short version: Nagash brought Vlad back, which was awesome. But then the world ended, everyone died and it was Mannfred's fault.
Bloodlines no longer exist as of AoS since nobody is keeping track of lineage, just loyalty (so far, it is possible for GW to bring back the idea later since it has not been stated they have abandoned the idea). Some Vampires such as Neferata survived the end of the world and the ensuing new timeline, now being far more ancient than the rest of the ancient beings in the setting. Some such as Mannfred were resurrected by Nagash.
Technically speaking the Von Carsteins “exist” in the sense that Mannfred is still around, languishing in a place of torment in Nagash’s own version of hell. Its unlikely humans would survive there making it a Bloodline of one at the time, but he has since sided with anyone against Nagash and any mortals he turns are now part of the Von Carsteins. Since Games Workshop has not committed to which specific characters didn't survive the ET, any character can and sporadically has returned so Vlad, Isabella, Konrad, even the named redshirts from past obscure lore, could all be brought back into the story at any time. After getting out of his punishment Mannfred founded a realm called Carstinia which was similar to Sylvania. He was served by vampiric servants, turned in yes-men and made to look like all the other von Carsteins including Vlad, Isabella and Konrad. However Mannfred eventually accepted how hollow his fantasy was and rarely spends time in Carstinia anymore.
That being said, the rest of the Vampire Counts (thus far, since they seem to be making shit up as they go) are Nagash’s and serve under Neferata, with the exception of the “Flesh-eater Courts” which are Ushoran’s. While Ushoran turns his own Vampires which are as a result technically Strigoi, the rest of the Courts are made up of those who have been infected by his madness which spreads like psychic AIDS wherever he or his servants go; any race, any Bloodline, can end up infected and among his Courts.
- Vampire encounters with Beastmen in lore are rare, since both tend to serve the purpose as "guys attacking the Empire" although in Total War: WARHAMMER Isabella remarks that "They would be beautiful if they weren't so disgusting."
- Chaos Dwarfs
- Chaos Dwarfs have no concern or interest in the Von Carsteins.
- Daemons have virtually nothing to do with the Von Carsteins as Vampires are outside of the cycle of life and death, their souls never returning to the Warp.
- Warriors Of Chaos
- The WoC have no concern or interest in the Von Carsteins prior to End Times, when they became rival forces.
- Von Carsteins antagonize the Dwarfs a great deal, and the Dwarfs aid the Empire whenever they can. As a result the relationship is quite unfriendly and the Dwarfs are more likely to attack the VCs than the other VC Bloodlines.
- High Elves
- Prior to the taking of the Everprincess by Mannfred, the Von Carsteins were not a concern of the Asur so long as the Empire was still a buffer against Chaos. Afterwards they are one of the worst enemies, second only to the Dark Elves.
- Dark Elves
- Dark Elves have no concern or interest in the Von Carsteins. Would probably mad enough to trade with them like any vampire pirate they encountered.
- Wood Elves
- Wood Elves have no concern or interest in the Von Carsteins, but will still kill them on sight like any undead since the taint of undeath kills their trees. Similar incident happened when Heinrich raised a bunch of wraith and killed a lot of trees and elves in the Athel Loren.
- High Elves
- The Von Carsteins have almost no contact with Bretonnia, being geographically separated and having no reason to go after the Frenchies when the Germans are still putting up a fight. Still, they would disavow them if they ever met due to their decree against all undead as well as the similar experience they had with the mousillon undead.
- The Empire
- The main enemy of the Von Carsteins, seen by the VCs as uppity livestock wandering the fields without masters.
- Lizardmen have no concern or interest in the Von Carsteins, but will probably still kill them on sight since they are not part of the old one's plan. Plus, lizardmen already had the similar experience with a vampire pirate known as Luthor Harkon, who set up a remote port base on their backyard.
- Ogre Kingdoms
- Ogre mercenaries in the Empire, as well as the population living in Ostland, would be concerned about the Vampire Counts but the Kingdoms themselves are likely to work alongside the Von Carsteins as they are to be against them.
- Orcs & Goblins
- Lack of fucks given. Just another enemy to fight. But their relationship were much better when Azhag had Nagash's crown and the
Von Carstein wants it for their master's resurrection.
- Skaven are generally concerned by the undeads due to their history with that particular frightened lich known as Nagash. Outside of Mordheim they would not acting directly against the Von Carsteins or any other undead in particular since they can't eat their corpses for food. That is unless they carry warp stones.
- Tomb Kings
The Tomb Kings see them like they do any other vampires, enemy number one (though some of the more unscrupulous Tomb Kings may work with Von Carsteins, Settra has a zero-tolerance policy on vampires and working with them). However, being geographically separated means their forays are usually limited to small expeditions. Prior to the End Times, their only interactions were Mannfred stealing some scrolls from their tombs to prepare for Konrad's inevitable downfall and a team-up of Khalida and Arkhan the Black to hunt down a Von Carstein vampire with one of Nagash's staffs.
- Vampire Counts
- While the Von Carsteins had nothing to do with their fall, they have still managed to become a hated enemy. Wandering Strigoi find themselves manipulated into being pawns or simply eliminated to prevent them from bringing unwanted attention from the Empire to the region. Or simply because the Strigoi doesn't know when to stop regarding feeding on the peasants, possibly getting a delicious maiden or elderly warrior that someone who could appreciate the meal could have had. Strigoi in return hate the rich fucks in their fancy castles while they're stuck shivering in cold damp caves.
- The second main enemy of the Von Carsteins after the Empire. While the Von Carsteins want to kick Karl Franz off the throne of the Empire, stick his head on a pike, and make the architecture look like Tim Burton's Dracula wet dream the Lahmians have already taken over the Empire. As well as Bretonnia, Cathay, some Dwarf Holds, part of Ulthuan, and just about everything else not affiliated with Chaos. The two are direct rivals for power, the Von Carsteins pretending to be vampire overlords in crumbling castles while Lahmians pretend to be human overlords in well-furnished and modern decorated castles. Much of the intrigue not related to ruling the world of both Bloodlines is against each other, with a small amount left for kicking Strigoi in the teeth for lulz.
- Blood Dragon
- Despite the Dracula connection, Blood Dragons have almost no meaning to Von Carsteins. Neither factors into the plans of the other, neither are a nuisance to the other, and generally speaking there's no known conflict between the two.
- Necrarchs have the same relationship with the Von Carsteins that they do the other Bloodlines (Strigoi excluded). Necrarchs build monsters or discover new spells, they sell them to the Von Carsteins for gold or supplies. While in theory a rivalry with a resurrected Nagash (that the Necrarchs worship) would cause a conflict, in End Times the Necrarchs joined the Von Carstein bloodline but otherwise stayed in the background.
The Von Carsteins, as the posterboy faction, use every option available to the Vampire Counts. In particular they use Corpse Carts, Black Coaches, and Vargheists, all inventions of the Von Carsteins although later they were adopted by other Bloodlines. Even Bloodline-specific options like the Strigoi Ghoul Kings can be coerced into Vlad or Mannfred's armies (or just be among the more insane of the Sylvanians turned into the family).