LOST WARHAMMER: LUSTRIA

This post has been modified from its original form.

The idea of a Lustria supplement dates back to the very early days of Warhammer. Lustria was, in fact, one of the first parts of the Warhammer world to be described in any detail. It initially appeared in ‘The Legend of Kremlo the Slann’ in the first Citadel Compendium (November 1983).

‘The Legend of Kremlo the Slann’

Richard Halliwell blended historical Mesoamerica at the time of the conquistadors with the ideas of Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods? and created a hybrid science fantasy setting. It echoed other science fantasy settings like MAR Barker’s Tékumel and possibly also drew on other sources for inspiration. It also introduced Warhammer‘s first distinctive race, the slann.

In 1983-1984 the setting continued to evolve in inserts included in miniatures sets and supplements. They described some of the slann’s ancient technology, and provided short army lists, which included the first appearance of cold ones.

‘The Duelling Circles of Khorne’

Second ‘Arcane Ramblings’

Forces of Fantasy

The Book of Battalions

In September 1984 the second Citadel Compendium carried further material in the form of ‘The Shrine of Rigg’.

‘The Shrine of Rigg’

Via a curious case of word association this article added Amazons to the setting, along with advanced weapons from the High Age, such as bolt pistols and needle guns.

amazon

We have the technology…

By WFB2 Lustria was the most fully described part of the Warhammer world. A host of Lustrian creatures had been described (Amazon, coatl, cold one, culchan, giant frog, giant leech, giant snail, giant tick, jaguar, slann). Lustria was even the setting for the scenario in the WFB2 rulebook, ‘The Magnificent Sven’.

Lustria is a vast continent dominated by jungle in the north and huge rolling grasslands to the south. The most notable feature of the land is the mighty Amoco-Cadiz river system, which penetrates most of the north of the continent.

Apart from many exotic animals, Lustria is home to two kinds of native humans (Amazons and Pygmies), and the Slann. The Slann once ruled Lustria as the Aztecs ruled Mexico, and, like the Aztecs, they have become the victims of foreign colonialism and greed. The remains of the once vast Slann Empire now occupy only the northernmost part of the continent. The Norse and Old Worlder explorers, adventurers and traders who have ousted them have settled along the north-eastern coasts. From here they launch expeditions inland in search of Slann gold or the natural treasures of the land: animal skins and mineral wealth.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle, second edition, ‘Battle Bestiary’

In 1985 the setting had been sufficiently described that a Lustrian supplement was advertised as imminent:

Richard Halliwell has almost completed his script for Lustria – a complete role-playing continent for Warhammer. From what we’ve seen already Lustria is shaping up to be an invaluable playing aid, with full descriptions of the cities, lands and peoples of Lustria. Complete city maps are given, together with building plans for houses, temples, fortresses and other buildings of this land.

– Citadel Journal, Spring 1985

Of course, the supplement turned out not to be as imminent as advertised, but the idea lingered on. It was mentioned in a discussion of future WFRP1 supplements in March 1987:

In time it is intended to cover most, if not all, parts of the Warhammer world, probably starting with Lustria.

– White Dwarf 87

When WFB3 was published, it also contained Lustrian creatures, though fewer than WFB2. It is not clear whether Lustrian creatures were omitted because of a lack of space or a withdrawal from the Lustrian setting. It seems most likely not to have been the latter as Lustrian material continued to appear for WFB3, such as the Slann army lists in White Dwarf 96 and Warhammer Armies. In April 1988, when White Dwarf 100 carried Basil Barrett’s Lustrian adventure ‘The Floating Gardens of Bahb-Elonn’. This provided background on pygmies, their gods Brobat and Beesbok, witchdoctors and ancestor spirits.

In November the same year there was another announcement of the Lustrian supplement:

WFRP is not forgotten with several major supplements on the horizon including … new rulebooks dealing with the ancient civilisations of the east and the jungles of Lustria.

– White Dwarf 107

The supplement was even mentioned in Flame advertisements in subsequent months, but never appeared.

As far as I remember, Lustria was one of Hal’s back-burner projects, but work on the 2000AD games, Space Hulk, Dark Future, and others always came first. I never saw any of his notes for Lustria, and I don’t think there was ever a complete manuscript.

– Graeme Davis, Strike to Stun

It is odd to think that something that was worked on for so long (and which was supposedly in a near-complete state in 1985) vanished without trace.

This post is part of a series on unpublished Warhammer supplements. The first in the series is here. The next post can be found here.

Internal art by John Blanche. Title image and internal art used without permission. No challenge intended to the rights holders.

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14 thoughts on “LOST WARHAMMER: LUSTRIA

  1. Not much to add, other than that one can’t help wondering whether, if the Lustria supplement had ever seen the light of day it might have helped to fix the Warhammer World as a much more weird/gonzo fantasy style setting if giant frogs, viking warriors and amazons with ray guns had been Warhammer’s first detailed setting (rather than the pseudo-historical Empire)?

    I’d also like to echo the comments Robin made about the form of these posts: I like the balance of useful quotations, as well as illustrations and commentary.

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  2. You make a good point and highlight just how much the Warhammer world changed in 1986. It is a little ironic that the grubby direction WFRP took at the time felt very different, but now the 1970s gonzo stuff feels more distinctive to me.

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  3. “The Floating Gardens of Bahb-Elonn,” a WFRP adventure played at a Dragonmeet in 1988 and printed in WD 100, was also set in Lustria and featured Pygmies as the PCs. The Pygmies were one of the most controversial races of Lustria, for obvious reasons, and we on the WFRP team were very uneasy about this adventure. It was commissioned from Basil Barrett by management and we had no say in it at all.

    The Amazons and the Slann/Lizardmen never took off as WFB armies (despite several attempts to re-launch the Slann), and the Norse never really solidified as a faction. As WFB developed, Norsca became a kind of limbo in the edges of the Chaos Wastes, with Norse warriors being Chaos Thugs at some times and a fragile bulwark against Chaos at other times – and extinct at other times yet. All of this left Lustria with no inhabitants that sold miniatures, which is probably why management’s interest in the continent waned and died.

    Some links on Pygmies:
    http://realmofzhu.blogspot.com/2013/07/lstri-pygmies.html
    http://realmofchaos80s.blogspot.com/2014/10/a-warhammer-bestiary-pygmy.html

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    1. I, too, am very uncomfortable with the pygmies of the Warhammer setting at the time. The illustrations and sculpts in particular are quite shocking. I deliberately only mentioned them briefly in the post above, as I felt their racially offensive aspects required fuller, separate discussion. I can see from your link, though, that Zhu Bajiee has (as usual) already covered the subject far more thoroughly and intelligently than I ever could.

      I would just add one observation. In some ways the presence of pygmies in Warhammer is unsurprising. British culture of the 1970s had been suffused with racial caricatures. The Black and White Minstrels were shown on national TV until 1978. Enid Blyton’s Noddy books featured golliwogs. Sitcoms frequently played racial stereotypes for laughs (eg Mind Your Language, It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum). Astonishingly Robertson’s jam even used golliwogs as mascots until 2002.

      This social background was intersected by Warhammer’s penchant for cultural stereotypes. GW was on relatively safe ground in some cases (eg orcs as cockneys). But the crude racial caricatures of the pygmies were indefensible.

      (I am not suggesting necessarily that that the authors intended to be maliciously racist. The pygmies could easily be the product of insensitivity, rather than outright hostility. They may have simply been viewed by the authors as fantastic creatures with no real-world connotations. But I don’t think such a view can be justified.)

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  4. It’s been a while since this post, but I just saw this art by Paul Bonner posted on his facebook page: https://scontent-lhr3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/44118693_915647448630157_3521263065435734016_n.jpg?_nc_cat=107&_nc_ht=scontent-lhr3-1.xx&oh=e8c379aa1fd289869b5a9957b1d9888f&oe=5C82F408

    He mentions that it was an old GW commission and it clearly depicts Lustria – there are Slann, Norse and possibly something else. I wonder whether anyone can shed more light on this?

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    1. The first Paul Bonner art for GW that I can remember was in Power Behind the Throne and ‘The Floating Gardens of Bahb-Elonn’ in WD100. Both were around April 1988. That fits with Bonner working on an illustration for the forthcoming Lustria supplement mentioned in WD107. However, it also fits with the release of Warhammer Armies in summer 1988, which was partly illustrated by Bonner and which contained colour images. It also contained Slann and Norse contingents. My suspicion is that this piece was intended for Warhammer Armies but never used.

      There are many reasons why it might not have been used, but I am inclined to say it was rejected for not capturing the Warhammer look. The slann have a different appearance from other slann illustrations (including Bonner’s own black-and-white drawings). Also the blond and armoured figures do not fit obviously with any Warhammer races. Are they Norse, elves, something else?

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      1. Paul Bonner also did some drawings (including ones of slann) for WFB3, so it is also possible this piece was commissioned for WFB3. However, WFB3 relied heavily on catalogue art, so I still suspect this image was planned for Warhammer Armies.

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  5. I think you’re right about it being from WFB3 era, but I’m not sure about Warhammer Armies – firstly because the imagery for that book tends to focus on battles and… well.. armies. This image is very much a skirmish. Secondly, the composition places almost as much emphasis on the setting (the Lustrian coast) as on the unfolding action. Warhammer Armies has surprisingly little material on setting – even compared with WFB4+ army books.

    But this is just wild speculation/over-thinking. Your guess is probably better than my hypotheses. Perhaps the image wasn’t used because it didn’t fit the tone or theme of Warhammer Armies? And as you say, the slann are a little ‘off’ and this was certainly the period when the Warhammer visual aesthetic became more consistent.

    All that aside, I really like the picture, particularly the evocative coast sweeping off into the distance. Bonner was one of the greatest Warhammer artists in my opinion.

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  6. Yesterday on the “Warhammer Fantasy Role Play 4th Edition” FB group, Sthephen Hardy left this comment under a post regarding Lustria:
    “1st Ed Flame Publications were working on a Lustrian supplement but GW pulled the plug. I don’t recall seeing anything since. I was lucky enough to be involved as a freelance illustrator and still have the briefing documents and development work that I was sent to help produce the artwork.”
    Finally a trace?

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    1. Wow. It starts to look as though Bonner’s picture might have been for the Lustria supplement, after all. It would be great to see the “briefing documents and development work” that Hardy mentions, or even any of his Lustria artwork, if it survives.

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