The Stagrot Gladiators (AoS Skirmish faction spotlight) [part 1 of 2]

After playing my first game of AoS Skirmish, I found the game to be really engaging to play. This inspired me to create warbands that are inspired by real world history, lore for Warhammer fantasy and Age of Sigmar. Each faction will have its own unique story and culture based on inspiration that best suited to that faction.

Today’s skirmish faction is the Stagrot Gladiators (mixed Nurgle units), a warband that is inspired by a very famous historical revolutionary gladiator by the name of Spartacus.

Inspiration for the Stagrot Gladiators, historical research

My research source for choosing a historical background base my warband on is from a magazine called ‘All about History’, a monthly magazine that has a variety of historical information throughout human history. 

Originally I wanted to make my Nurgle warband a group of plague ridden pirates, based on historical information on pirates. However, I decided not to continue down this path, due to the fact that I felt that the warband would be very small to be a part of a privateer crew, even for a skirmish party. Also, I thought that all of the models wouldn’t fit into the pirate background, beacuse they wear heavy rusted knight armour, which wouldn’t be helpful for naval battle.

Later on, when I was looking through one of the magazine issues, I came across an article about Spartacus. It not only explains about the story of the slaves freedom led by Spartacus, but also some brief information on Gladiator classes, uprisings of slavery revolts and consequences for slave revolutions. It was this article that inspired me to base my Nurgle faction on gladiators such as Spartacus’s gladiator life.

I’m also considering naming each unit as a gladiator class, based on their equipment and weapon of choice. For example, the Blightkings I’ve built are equipped with two handed weapons, so the closest class I can name them as are Dimachaerus. The Dimachaerus class are equipped with dual swords (although my unit has a mixture of dual weapons). 

I think that naming my units based on gladiator classes will tie more force more closely to historical connections to my skirmish force. I prefer this as making up names can be dull at times, but having hints to history and culture can make a faction more appealing.

Now some will criticise that gladiator based concepts should be more for Khorne’s legion, because factions like the Bloodbound do gladiatorial combat against each other for survival and bloodlust. However, I felt it was more appropriate for a Nurgle faction to have inspired historical gladiator concept, due to the fact that the purpose of  being a gladiator is to entertain crowds. Whilst this could easily fight into Slannesh’s dominion, as the God feeds on pleasure and joyful emotions, it can also apply to Nurgle (not pleasure, joy).

You see, Nurgle is a joyful god, a generous god who is know to be a jolly entity who represents life and death. A notable aspect of those who serve Nurgle don’t feel pain like any mortal would. In fact, they take joy in the knowledge that they can no longer feel pain because of the immunity that Nurgle blesses them with. 

So for the gladiator concept to work, I need to base it on joy, life and death in order to have this story relate to the followers of Nurgle. From the information I’ve gathered, I’ve found historical information in three points that can relate into my Nurgle army.

  • Joy– as I’ve mentioned before, a gladiators job is to entertain the crowd, and slay his opponent in combat. The crowd take joy in the fact that they are entertained by the bloody sport that takes place in the coliseum. Applying this to a narrative story, Nurgle would be attracted to the emotions of joy from the crowd, which will  give a reason as to why Nurgle will want to infest the arena with Plagues and diseases.
  • Life– this one will be a difficult one, as a gladiators life is constantly threatened when they enter the arena. I might be stretching this idea very far, but I think it would just about fit into context for life. Since a lot of fighters die in the arena, I can imagine fly’s would be attracted to the dead, laying eggs on the dead for maggots to be born and swarm. Growing with nutrients to become fully grown fly’s. I think you guys will get the picture why this will fit nicely for Nurgle, who has a fond use for fly’s in his dominion.
  • Death– probably one of the easiest concepts that can be related from historical to fantasy. As I’ve mentioned earlier, a galadiators life is short, if he fails to defend himself, he will die. Many who cannot adapt due to their preferred gladiator class will be slain for their weaknesses. I can imagine that this can apply to a fantasy setting very similar to our history. Nurgle could corrupt the unworthy, reborning the fallen warriors as bloated mad men who spread the blessings of Nurgle around the colesium. 

Inspiration for the Stagrot Gladiators, further inspiration from Warhammer lore

From the information I had, I wanted to reference it as a concept to develop into the Stagrot Gladiators, although I didn’t want to make it a straight up copy of Spartacus’s revolution. Before I could go into developing my concept story for the warband, I needed to research any lore background from Warhammer Fantasy and Age of Sigmar, to see if there were anything I can be inspired by.

My first source for inspiration was the e-book short story series ‘Call of Archaon‘ by Black Libary publication. The series tells three different story’s that are interwoven later on into the series, based on characters that follow Nurgle, Khorne and Tzeentch. The books that I’ve read relating to Nurgle are ‘Beneath the Black Thumb’ by David Guymer, ‘Knight of Corruption’ by David Annandale and finally ‘Blood and Plague’ also by David Annandale. I found the series to be a great source for information on mortals who follow Nurgle, especially from the prospective of the Nurgle Rotbringers. 

Another source of inspiration comes from another Black Library publication called ‘Ghal Maraz’ by Josh Reynolds and Guy Haley. The book is split into two stories, which I’ll be focusing on Josh’s story ‘War in the Hidden Vale‘. Covering the events during the Realmgate wars in Ghyran, the story has Nurgles army as the main antagonists, who are trying to corrupt Ghyran to it’s core to be part of Nurgle garden. Whilst I’m still reading the the story, however, I’m inspired by what I’ve read so far. 

Finally, an old world story in Warhammer Fantasy, ‘The End Times: Fall of Altdorf‘ by Chris Wraight. The story is the second book in the End Times series, covering the events with the Vampires of Sylvania, men of the Empire, and the hordes of the Glottkin under the patron of Nurgles. Whilst the old world is destroyed and very much in the past for AoS, I think it’s still worth looking at the events of fall of Altforf. I’m interested to see how mortals under Nurgles influence acted during the World-that-was, to better understand how the army functioned for combat and tactics.

With the information I’ve gathered, I have a the inspirational source material for developing my skirmish faction backstory. However, I’ll have to leave that until tomorrow, as I don’t want to go on more information than I’ve already have for this post.

I hope you have enjoyed part one of two, and I look forward to seeing your thoughts on this post in the comment section. 


Thank you for reading this post. If you have any questions, post a comment below and I’ll reply back as soon as I can. Thanks!


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