LOST WARHAMMER: LUSTRIA

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 (October 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 M A R Barker’s Tékumel and possibly also drew on other sources for inspiration.

Halliwell also created Warhammer’s first distinctive race, the slann. I have seen the slann likened to AD&D‘s sahuagin or kuo-toa (themselves inspired by H P Lovecraft’s Deep Ones), but those creatures are piscine, rather than amphibian. In my opinion the slann were genuinely original.

Halliwell continued to develop the setting and in 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, 2nd 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.

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4 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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