The Nighthaunt is composed entirely of spectral Undead known as wraiths who hate the living due to all that they suffered, or believe themselves to have suffered, during their lives.
The stench of open graves and mildewed cloth, the unnatural chilling of the air along with the clank of chains and unearthly moans -- these announce the presence of the wraith host.
Directed by more powerful wills or by their own malicious instincts, the wraith hosts of the Nighthaunt processions come to extinguish life wherever they find it.
Misery loves company, and there is no company more dolorous than the ghostly legions of Shyish. They are the lesser spirits of the Nighthaunt processions -- the foot soldiers, as it were -- although they are unlike the troops of any other army. They do not march, and even the least of the spirits floats or glides. All are ethereal spectres wearing tattered robes that glow from within.
Enemy arrows and blades not guided by a stalwart will pass straight through the gheists. All wraiths -- no matter which terrifying form they come in -- hate the living. Their spite-filled memories are magnified or twisted in the afterlife by Nagash's malefic curses. Gathered together, they are a howling gale of vengeful spirits that sweeps over the battlefields of the Mortal Realms.
For battle, the spectral hosts of wraith creatures are organised by order of Nagash. Beneath the overall command of Lady Olynder, the Mortarch of Grief, the Nighthaunt processions are sent forth to wreak havoc as the vanguard of the Great Necromancer's deathly forces.
Nighthaunts have always been wayward spirits, prone to following their own thirst for revenge. Only when ensnared by a more powerful being -- such as Nagash, a Mortarch, Soulblight vampire or Necromancer -- do the ethereal creatures submit to following another's lead. But now, even the most isolated have been enthralled to Lady Olynder, the Mortarch of Grief.
At her summons the spectres muster, answering a siren call that promises vengeance against the living. Lady Olynder organises the massed phantasmal hordes, breaking them down into hard-striking and distinct armies. On the most vital campaigns, Lady Olynder leads her own Nighthaunt procession, often accompanied by her spectral consort, Kurdoss Valentian.
More frequently, however, a procession is commanded by a Knight of Shrouds. There are notable exceptions, as powerful spirits are sometimes given generalship over a wraith host. Infamous examples of such individuals are Reikenor the Grimhailer and the Cairnking Angrimm, both of whom are often known to command their own armies.
Although Kurdoss Valentian is sometimes sent on missions away from Lady Olynder's side, he is never the commander -- another of Nagash's cruel ironies.
A Nighthaunt procession draws much of its character from its commander. For instance, the most rage-filled or bloody-handed of generals invigorate their minions and charge forward in quick-strike fashion.
More gloom-ridden doombringers prefer to pin the foe in place, eroding their will with waves of desolation before hurling in elite reserve forces to finally break the enemy.
Beneath a procession's commander are any number of captains -- Dreadblade Harrows, Spirit Torments, Cairn Wraiths, Lord Executioners, Tomb Banshees and Guardians of Souls. These potent spirits are used to lead assaults or to unleash potent attacks upon the foe.
Some commanders use their captains as bodyguards, while others prefer a Shroudguard – a circle of Bladegheist Revenants bound by magical oaths to protect their liege at all costs.
The bulk of most Nighthaunt processions are drawn from the ethereal rank and file -- less powerful but more numerous spirits like Chainrasps and Glaivewraith Stalkers. These are grouped together and are typically led by one of the wraith captains. Such formations have different strengths, and are usually deployed with specific purposes in mind by their commanders.
A Chainguard comprises large numbers of Chainrasps under the control of a Guardian of Souls. These hosts are often used as the centre of a Nighthaunt battleline, or for holding up powerful enemies. Even as the Chainrasps are destroyed, the Guardian of Souls uses its magic to reform them, creating an anvil upon which many foes break.
Other groupings of Nighthaunts include the Death Stalkers – hunting forces tasked with seeking out and destroying particular enemies -- and the Condemned -- Chainrasps and Chainghasts driven mercilessly into the enemy by a Spirit Torment. Such ragged multitudes are less concerned with holding up the foe, more with slaying them.
Other Nighthaunt formations are fewer in number but made up of more powerful spirits. The Shrieker Host is such a gathering. Led by a Tomb Banshee, it is composed of Dreadscythe Harridans and Myrmourn Banshees. Ideally, such a force drifts towards the battlefront while the enemy is engaged.
Just as the Tomb Banshee unleashes her hellish shriek, the Dreadscythe Harridans sweep in to unleash their fury. The Myrmourn Banshees devour enemy spells while adding their own chill daggers to the fray. Few foes survive the charge of a Shrieker Host, but those that do soon find their will to fight failing beneath its horrible cacophony.
When spectral cavalry ride to battle alongside a Black Coach , they are collectively known as Deathriders. These fast-moving contingents are ideal for smashing apart the flanks of the enemy army and for launching sudden attacks.
An Execution Horde, meanwhile, concentrates a great deal of power into a compact force. Its constituent Spirit Hosts and the Lord Executioner that leads them are able to manoeuvre between larger formations before closing in to deliver the killing blow.
As per Nagash's command, Lady Olynder sends forth her processions as quickly as she forms them. Those that meet with success are given new tasks by the mortarch, while those that fail are summoned back to Nagashizzar. There, the merciless Lady Olynder breaks the spectral host apart and reassigns its various spirits to different armies, resulting in a variety of compositions between the processions.
Some remain homogeneous, for they are formed from spirits gathered from the same locale, like the hoarfrost-covered wraiths from Helspoint that glow with a cold light, or the Blood Mavens -- a force dominated by Dreadscythe Harridans known for their crimson locks.
Other processions are more disparate, each battalion or unit drawn from different underworlds, or even from other realms. Under the rule of Lady Olynder, and driven by her fierce demand for victory, many processions have already garnered a fell reputation.
The strangely lambent Glowing Host from the Glittering Marsh field an inordinate number of Tomb Banshees, and have proved unstoppable in their many attacks upon the Chaos forces in Shyish. The vast Chainguard host from the fallen lands of Viniculum do not simply defeat enemy armies, they overrun entire populations.
The Reaverhost hail from martial stock, for they come from the underworld reserved for the finest knights of old Dolorum. It is said when the moonlight strikes them at the right angle, a pale and ghostly hint of the livery they wore in life can still be seen.
- Death Battletome: Nighthaunt (2nd Edition), pg. 20