The Enemy Within
Under the current Emperor, Karl Franz of Altdorf, elected in 2502, the Empire enjoys a renaissance of strength and prosperity. Karl Franz realised that the Empire could not stand alone against its many enemies. His ambassadors have secured alliances with the other nations of men, and rejuvenated the ancient friendship with the dwarf holds. Envoys sail between the Empire and Ulthuan, and high elf merchants are no longer an unusual sight in the markets of Altdorf or Nuln. The Emperor also strives to maintain the Empire’s unity. Relationships between provinces have always been fractious, but the Emperor rewards those Elector Counts who display loyalty. Those who do not receive a visit from his stern champion, Ludwig Schwarzhelm. They never stray again.
Trade flourishes, overflowing the Imperial coffers, and the arts and sciences blossom under Karl Franz’s generous patronage. Altdorf is a centre of learning, and its Colleges of Magic are held in high esteem, if still feared by the commonfolk. The explosive inventions of the Imperial engineers ensure the Empire’s military dominance, for war is a constant threat.
When Karl Franz goes to war, he rides at the vanguard of his army on his griffon Deathclaw, a ferocious monster with the hindquarters of a great tiger and the head, forelegs and wings of an eagle. The Emperor is not afraid to bloody his warhammer Skull-splitter in battle, and his victories have won him renown. He routed the Norscans raiding Nordland, smashed the ogre reavers of Gutlord Breaskus and crimsoned the Field of Blood with greenskin gore. He sent the mutants of the Howling Hills scurrying back to their holes, and twice stemmed a tide of orcs invading Averland. When uncountable Chaos hordes devastated the north, the Emperor led his troops to a victory not seen since the Great War Against Chaos. His diplomacy also bore fruit, as dwarfs, elves, Kislevites and Bretonnians all contributed to the triumph. Though the northern lands are still recovering, the Empire remains secure. Karl Franz attributes all his successes to his faith in Sigmar. He enriches Sigmar’s temples, honours his priests above all others and igorously persecutes heretics who serve the dark gods.