Characters: Warhammer 40000 Forces Of Chaos
Clockwise, from top left: the symbols of Tzeentch, Khorne, Slaanesh and Nurgle. The eight-pointed star is the symbol of Chaos Undivided.
This is our galaxy. Ours to corrupt, ours to enslave. The gods will not be denied their prize.
In Warhammer 40,000
, the Immaterium, or Warp, is a parallel dimension where the thoughts, desires, and emotions of sentient creatures are made manifest in the form of psychic entities labeled Daemons. There was a time in the distant past when the Warp was a calm and even benign place, but eons of constant warfare have corrupted it into a twisted mirror that accentuates the negative - the gods of Bravery, Hope, Acceptance, and Love are also the gods of Rage, Mutation, Decay, and Lust. The Warp is a realm of primordial Chaos, where the laws of nature and causality do not apply, where dark thoughts congeal and evolve into diabolical gods. It is a nightmare realm that occasionally spills forth
into the Materium, leaving behind madness and desolation.
Humanity has an intimate relationship with Chaos - after all, their minds feed it. Chaos is the source of the mutation that wracks the Imperium, from inhuman monstrosities to the psychically-gifted Navigators. Chaos is the key to interstellar travel
, as ships traveling through it move much faster than they would in a rational universe - assuming they are not lost to the storms and eddies of the Empyrean or devoured by daemons. And among humans, there are always those who turn to Chaos for various reasons: bored nobles looking for a new thrill by dabbling in the occult, radical daemonhunters hoping to turn the weapons of the enemy against him, ambitious individuals making dark pacts
in exchange for power, cults and cabals plotting to turn their homeworlds over to the dark gods, or bitter souls and traitors seeking revenge. Regardless of their motivations, very few of them end up as anything more than Unwitting Pawns
to the dark gods' plans, and horrific death is an all too common fate. Even those who manage to draw the attention of one or more of the Chaos gods may be turned into monstrous abominations called Chaos Spawn, twisted and mutated by their "blessings" and driven insane. Those that don't suffer these fates, however...they can go up far
, becoming immortal and inhumanly powerful Daemon Princes.
Collectively, these followers are known as the Lost and the Damned: faithless traitors who have abandoned their humanity and forfeited their souls. Entire regiments of the Imperial Guard and whole Naval fleets have gone renegade, while disaffected mutants and abhumans sometimes turn to Chaos as well. But by far the worst Chaos threats are the Daemons themselves, and the heirs to a betrayal ten thousand years old that almost destroyed the human race...
TROPES FOR THE TROPE GOD! EXAMPLES FOR THE EXAMPLE THRONE!
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General Chaos Tropes
- Alien Geometries: Try not to look too hard at anything related to Chaos. Bad idea. Their writing is generally described as "Sanity-Blasting Sigils."
- Arch-Enemy: The Imperium actually calls Chaos the "Arch Enemy" or the "Great Enemy".
- Artifact of Death: Most Daemon weapons lead to their owner's doom eventually.
- Bad Powers, Bad People
- Berserk Button: Don't invoke the Emperor's name in the presence of a daemon or Chaos Space Marine. It won't end well.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: This pops up for people who fall victim to Chaos. Annihilating your soul is just one of the options available, and not even the worst at that.
- Big Bad/Bigger Bad: If something is causing the Imperium problems, it's usually Chaos. If it's not, they're just around the corner.
- Bizarrchitecture: Common on daemon worlds, where the laws of physics are literally just another building material.
- Black Magic: As much as the Imperium would like to deny it, without Chaos it couldn't function. The Warp is the only means of faster-than-light travel available to humanity, and the Navigators that have the ability to guide vessels through the Warp can do this because of specific mutations created by Chaos.
- Bright Is Not Good: Followers of Slaanesh (Chaos god of hedonism and excess) are Sense Freaks who wear hideously garish clothing and choking perfumes at all times, being so blasť it's the only way they can feel anything. One Chaos Space Marine Legion devoted to Slaanesh wears pink and black armor for the same reason.
- Brown Note: Common side effects of looking at Chaos symbols are mild nausea, slight bleeding, and insanity.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Anyone who's in deep with Chaos tends to wear this on their sleeve...or any other part of their body.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Chaos in general, but Tzeentch in particular.
- Colour Coded Armies: Red and brass/bronze for Khorne; blue, and to a lesser extent yellow and every other colors for Tzeentch; sickly green for Nurgle; and purple and pink for Slaanesh. In addition, Malal was supposed to be black and white.
- The Corruption: Both mental and physical.
- The Dark Side: Which manages to be darker than what passes as the "Light" side in this setting, no mean feat.
- Deal with the Devil: Pacts with Chaos in general, and to specific Chaos Gods in particular.
- Death by Sex: Slaanesh is very tempting...
- Dream Land: The Warp is an exceedingly negative version.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: Don't stand too close to anyone powered by Chaos.
- Eldritch Location / Fisher King:
- Pretty much anywhere in the Eye of Terror or any place sufficiently tainted by Chaos.
- The domains of the Chaos Gods are like this, especially the ever-changing Maze of Tzeentch.
- Evil Tropes: There is a good reason Chaos is considered "the bad guys" in Warhammer 40,000
- Genuine Human Hide:
- It's a popular source of clothing for Chaos followers, particularly Slaaneshi followers.
- Many a Tome of Eldritch Lore is made from it.
- Last but not least, we at TV Tropes are contractually obligated to remind you that Chief Apothecary Fabius Bile of the Emperor's Children wears a lab coat made of human skin. note
- Haunted Technology: Chaos has a bad habit of corrupting, if not outright possessing, various bits of technology.
- Hearing Voices: It's a good idea to ignore them.
- The Hedonist: Slaanesh and his/her followers are ultimately about seeking pleasureful sensations. This typically starts out with sex, torture, and/or murder, but inevitably degenerates into seeking out any sensation and learning to find it pleasurable and unique, up to and including fighting wars to see what losing is like and extreme self-mutilation as pleasure becomes confused with pain.
- Hermetic Magic: Most warp-sorcery takes this form (usually involving Eldritch Locations, Geometric Magics, and Human Sacrifices,) in contrast to Psychic Powers which are the other major way of warp-driven reality manipulation. Combining the two approaches results in Explosive Overclocking, and some psykers may turn to sorcery to further empower themselves.
- Insane Equals Violent: Generally the case with Chaos-inspired madness, though in most cases those afflicted were already violent.
- The Legions of Hell: Fed by your every thought and emotion.
- Limited Advancement Opportunities: Most mortal Chaos followers find themselves offered as human sacrifices, die in battle, succumb to mutations, or become mindless Chaos spawn.
- Averted with Nurgle. Mortal followers have the opportunity to become Plaguebearer demons, either by contracting Nurgle's Rot or taking part in the planet-encircling dance on Bubonicus.
- The Mad Hatter: Occasionally seen as a symptom of corruption by Chaos, particularly by Tzeentch.
- Madness Mantra:
- BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!!! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!!!
- MAIM! KILL! BURN! MAIM! KILL! BURN! MAIM! etc. etc.
- In the spinoff game Battlefleet Gothic, an entire starship gets a Madness Mantra: the Chaos cruiser Killfrenzy is so named because, whenever it draws near, all that can be heard on every comms frequency is its captain endlessly screaming +++KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY+++
- In the novel Titanicus, Chaos Titans are depicted as constantly screaming their names in corrupted code language.
- Malevolent Mutilation: Chaos cultists commonly mortify their flesh with carvings of symbols representing their patrons. Those practicing their faith in secret limit this to small carvings, easily covered up. Once they are operating in the open and know there is no more need to integrate themselves with Imperial society, many will start covering their entire body with such symbols as a symbol of how faithful they are.
- In Brothers of the Snake, one such cult has a way to etch Chaos sigils on their bones without disturbing the flesh over them. An Inquisitor is very curious to know how they manage this.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Sometimes, when they really want to have fun with their once-heroic followers, the Ruinous Powers will peel away the comfortable veil of madness from before their eyes and let them see the full horror of what they've become, then force them to admit that there's nothing else they can do to make it right. During the Horus Heresy, it happened to Fulgrim, after killing Ferrus Manus and Horus, after the Emperor mortally wounded him.
- Negative Space Wedgie: Warp Rifts, tears in spacetime where the Warp and realspace gel together. The Maelstrom and Screaming Vortex are two well-known rifts, but the biggest and most infamous is the Eye of Terror. Formed by the birth of Slaanesh, it covers nearly all of the original Eldar empire and has irredeemably corrupted every planet it touches. It also serves as a home and headquarters for the Iron Warriors, Death Guard, Thousand Sons, and Word Bearers.
- Power-Upgrading Deformation: Most Chaos mutations gifted to its followers.
- Reality Is Out to Lunch: In the Eye of Terror.
- Red Right Hand: Marks of Chaos.
- Sense Loss Sadness: The only way to effectively torture Slaaneshi cultists is to stick them in a sensory deprivation tank. One crafty Inquisitor figured this one out.
- Any Chaos Marine entombed in a Chaos Dreadnaught will eventually go insane for the same reason (reflected in the rules, even). In more recent editions, the Chaos Dreadnaught has been replaced by the Hellbrute. Entombment in a Hellbrute is more tolerable to the Chaos Space Marine because they will eventually fuse with the machine, regaining sensory information.
- Time Dilation: Time moves differently in the Warp, both faster and slower than the rest of space. Justified because the Warp sneers at such things "causality" and "logic".
- Too Dumb to Live: Many lesser followers of Chaos expect to be paid with the 'blessings' of the Chaos Gods. They usually are turned into barely-functional mutants that serve as meatshields for Daemons.
- A number of their actions that they do also require great sacrifice to the Gods... though they're things that could've been done without bloodshed, and in some cases, technology.
- Warrior Heaven: The Warp. To them, though, it is heavenly, in contrast with how hellish it is for others.
With the thirty-seven keys of Tzeentch, we open the way for our brothers. With the thousand whispers of Slaanesh, we call to them. With the twelve plagues of Nurgle, we fell their enemies. And with the mighty axe of Khorne, we cut open the world for them.
Beings of incalculable power, the Four Great Gods of Chaos are the personifications of the various thoughts and emotions of all living creatures given sentience by the psychic energies of their home realm, the Warp. Though they're gods by almost every measure of the word, they are by their nature monomaniacal and completely single-minded (formed completely of a single emotion or concept) as well as being completely dependent on the emotions of mortal and immortal creatures for their power and continued existence. The interplay of the various concepts they embody leads to all four coming into a great rivalry with one another. This conflict is mirrored in the Materium by the combat that takes place between the mortal and immortal servants of the Dark Gods, which is the reason for the constant civil war the Chaos Legions find themselves ensnared in. For as victory in these battles lends greater influence to their patron God, the champion will find himself rise in favor in his Patron's eyes. For despite the myriad differences, the Gods all desire total domination. And absolute power cannot be easily shared, especially not among Gods. Thus, this eternal struggle for dominance is known as the Great Game
Despite their labeling as beings of fathomless evil, the Chaos Gods represent both the highest and most base aspects of sentient thought. The Great Powers personify Rage, Scheming, Despair, and Lust, but also Bravery, Hope, Perseverance, and Love.
Tropes applying to the Chaos Gods as a whole:
The major Chaos Gods are as follows:
- Animal Motifs: Big, Badass Wolf for Khorne, Ravens and Crows for Tzeentch, and Flies Equals Evil for Nurgle (even his symbol is a stylized fly).
- These are just the most easily recognized motifs; background material, especially the older ones, note that many Chaos cults can be disguised as animal totemists because there are many possible animals that can be revered as befitting one or more of the Chaos Gods. For example, snakes can be seen as symbols of both Slaanesh and of Tzeentch, bulls as symbols of Slaanesh or Khorne, toads and slugs of Nurgle, etc.
- Bigger Bad: While it's debatable whether or not the Chaos Gods are the Big Bad, they are a textbook Bigger Bad.
- Blue and Orange Morality: All of them, being the embodiment of abstract concepts, are prone to this.
- Cosmic Plaything: They view everything that has ever existed as this...except the Emperor, who was (at least during the Great Crusade) the only thing from this universe they actually seemed to fear.
- Deal with the Devil: The Gifts of Chaos are this, giving you power but at a horrible price:
- The Gifts of Khorne will make you among the most powerful warriors in the galaxy, but you'll be in constant pain the longer you go between slaughters, eventually driving you to madness.
- The Gifts of Tzeentch will give you psychic powers and arcane knowledge that can allow you to walk unchallenged against your opponents, but the knowledge is of things you cannot know, eventually driving you to madness.
- The Gifts of Nurgle will give you the ability to overcome death itself, but you will be a walking corpse plagued with disease, eventually driving you to madness.
- The Gifts of Slaanesh will make you faster than ever, and pain will not be a detriment any longer, but you will develop a need for sensation that becomes all consuming, eventually driving you to madness.
- Eldritch Abomination: Physical descriptions of the Chaos Gods.
- Enemy Civil War: Though they have some interest in the Materium, the Great Game, the struggle for dominance in the Immaterium, is the main priority of the Chaos Gods. It's also unwinnable, because when one becomes stronger, the others gang up on him. And if one were to succeed, Chaos would ultimately stop being, well, Chaos.
- Exiled from Continuity: Malal, the Renegade God (yes, there is one that is considered worse than the other four) was dropped from continuity because no one could figure out who held the rights for him. Recent codexes have made mention of renegade Chaos followers who spend more time attacking other Chaos followers, which is Malal's modus operandi.
- Fantasy Pantheon
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Khorne corresponds to Choleric and Slaanesh to Sanguine pushed to their logical extremes, while Tzeentch and Nurgle respectively twist Melancholic and Phlegmatic.
- God Is Evil: And there's four of them.
- Gods Need Prayer Badly: Chaos feeds off the emotions of sentient races, but otherwise doesn't need it directed at them specifically. It simply helps to focus the energy they receive.
- The Heartless: Even positive emotions such as Hope or Acceptance feed the Chaos gods.
- Mad God: All four fit the gold standard, but Tzeentch is especially... inexplicably illogical.
- The Omnipotent: Within their own planes of existence. Their influence in the Materium, while still extremely palpable, is very limited by comparison.
- Our Gods Are Greater: Probably the most powerful deities in 40K canon.
- Pure Is Not Good
- Red Baron: The Dark Gods, the Ruinous Powers. And that's what their own followers call them.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Once in a while, the Chaos Gods will stop their infighting and work together. Fortunately, it never lasts long.
- Top God: What the Chaos Gods are constantly competing for. It's generally accepted that the top contenders are Khorne (given the state of the galaxy) and Tzeentch (given that he has the least defeats).
- Tulpa: The Chaos Gods congealed out of the thoughts and emotions of the galaxy's sentient life forms.
- Ultimate Evil: The very first edition of the game had pictures of them, but later additions only describe them rather than portraying them in artwork. They may still appear this way, in drawings made by their worshipers or of glimpses or dream visions, but most of the time (when a physical appearance is required), the image of one of their Greater Daemons is used instead.
Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!
The Blood God, the Brass Lord of Battle, Arkhar, Kharnath. Khorne is the most renowned, widespread and powerful of the Chaos Gods. He is the embodiment of hate, rage, wrath, violence and the urge to kill... but he is also comprised of martial pride, courage, the will to protect others, and honor. Khorne's commandments are simple; death and violence are what he exists for, and those who worship him strive only to kill in his name. The most common saying about Khorne is that he cares not from where the blood flows, only that it flows.
Khorne is described as resembling an impossibly huge and muscular warrior clad in bronze armor and wielding a monstrous waraxe, though he is sometimes portrayed as having the head of a monstrous horn-sprouting wolf. His sacred number is 8, and his associated Chaos Space Marine Legion is the World Eaters.
Notable tropes include:
- Khorne is fundamentally opposed to Slaanesh. Where Slaanesh is self-centered and its followers kill and torture to satisfy their own desires, Khornate dogma teaches spreading death and spilling blood freely for its own sake and that one should take no pleasure in anything. Khorne is also not big on torture, which is meaningless postponing of the kill.
- Khorne also hates Tzeentch because he considers sorcery and manipulation to be cowards' weapons.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: This is a deeply held Khornate tenant. In a Khornate warband, you achieve prestige by proving you're the deadliest warrior, and by no other method.
- Atop a Mountain of Corpses: SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!
- Ax-Crazy: Khorne is made of fury and violence, how can he not count ?
- An Axe to Grind: The axe is symbolically very important to Khorne and his worshipers, he's often described as wielding a massive battleaxe.
- Badass: Khorne and his followers are all supremely badass. Not only are his Champions often the mightiest warriors of Chaos and the deadliest fighters of the setting, Khorne himself is probably the most powerful of all the Chaos Gods and is thus the most powerful being in all of Warhammer 40,000. Which is no small feat.
- Badass Grandpa: Technically the first to achieve sentience.
- Badass In Charge: By default, he's sorta the de-facto Top God of Chaos.
- Badass Titles: The Blood God, the Lord of Skulls, the Lord of Battles, the Father and Inheritor of all Rage, the Brass Lord of Battles, the God of War, etc, etc.
- Battle Cry/Catchphrase/Madness Mantra: Khorne has what may be the most famous example of all three in the setting: BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!
- The Berserker: Not only Khorne, but his daemons and followers.
- Berserk Button: Khorne may be very easy to anger, but he is especially angered by the following :
- Cowards. If one of the followers of Khorne displays cowardice, let's say he won't live long.
- Presenting him with the skulls of unworthy foes.
- Getting screwed over by Tzeentch, hell even Tzeentch in general.
- Slaneesh in general, due to how naturally opposed they both are.
- Magic users and psykers. Magic weapons are OK, as is summoning Khorne's Daemons. All other magic is considered cowardly.
- BFS: He has a sword too. He once took it in a mighty rage and smote an endless, screaming crevasse in the Warp that has never healed. Given that the Warp is an immaterial place of emotion that constantly shifts and turns and that this scar is one of the few things that has remained constant should go a slight way towards preparing you for how powerful Khorne is.
- Big, Badass Wolf: In older editions, the wolf was the animal most frequently associated with Khorne, who was sometimes portrayed as having a wolf's head.
- Big Red Devil: Khorne's daemons fit this archetype, and Khorne himself is sometimes implied to also fit the archetype.
- Blood Knight: Khorne may care not from whence the blood flows, but he does put appreciation on it flowing from hard-won sources. So, both he and Khornate worshipers always love a good fight.
- Offering the skulls of the weak for his throne is certain to get you brutally killed.
- Blood-Splattered Warrior: BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!
- Blue and Orange Morality: Can a being of such power truly be judged by mortal ethics? Khorne is the embodiment of rage, to judge him harshly for killing and destroying is like judging a forest fire evil for burning.
- In particular, it would be a fatal mistake to think that he has something against slaughtering civilians en masse because of some ethic: It's simply that he prizes more fights against a Worthy Opponent.
- Brutal Honesty: Khorne looks down on deception and trickery as weak. As such, his daemons are one of the few daemons whose claims can be taken for granted (or with less salt than other daemons), for they are brutally honest when speaking, with extra emphasis on the "brutal" part.
- Determinator: Khorne isn't kidding when he says he'll give you a will to dominate all others.
- Does Not Like Magic: In a nutshell, it's for pussies. On the other hand, Khorne has no qualms with bequeathing enchanted weapons and armours to his followers to further increase their already incredible killing power. Daemon summoning is also okay. In essence, Khorne permits sorcery so long as you're not using it to fight your battles for you. Pointing out that this might be hypocrisy will see you die a death more violent than any can imagine. Khornate units are one of the few Chaos units innately blessed with some form of magic dampener and Khorne does not possess his own lore of spells (and one of the few gods where at times actually having the mark prevents becoming a spellcaster).
- Emotion Eater: Any expression of anger, no matter how small or for whatever reason will serve Khorne. And instances of killing will serve him, whether it is done by his followers or by those who think they oppose him. It is for this reason that Khorne is said to be the one god who is always going to win, because the only way to defeat him would be everyone never feeling the emotions of rage ever again, which is functionally impossible.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: Khorne and his daemons are frequently depicted as wielding flaming weapons and occasionally being on fire, going with the whole Hellfire motif.
- Evil Is Hammy: In a World of Ham, Khorne and his followers (well mainly his followers) manage to out-ham everyone. Just hear this: Ye gods...
- Expy: Essentially a mishmash of the martial aspects of Odin and to a lesser extent Ares, combining the iconography and some of the portfolio of the first with the gear and personality of the second. His favored warriors are Berserkers, and his Warhammer Fantasy realm is basically Chaos Valhalla.
- Flaming Sword: The weapons of the Bloodletters, his lesser daemons, carry this effect. Combined with their ability to suck the blood from anything they cut, and it's easy to see why they're called "Hellblades".
- Flanderization: While he is still the god of martial pride and excellence at arms, early editions of 40K emphasizing that his followers would spare the weak or even non-combatants, he has slowly evolved into a god of mindless slaughter, who "cares not from where the blood flows, only that it flows." This aspect has been revised to Khorne being indifferent to the weak and helpless and ultimately thinking they are unworthy of his scorn. He does send his hounds upon those cowards who flee from battle and abandon their brothers, though.
- Although he's been slowly getting De-Flanderization, as he's been showing he can be just as smart as Tzeentch if he wants to, and he sends his hounds after his champions who kill non-combatants again.
- Double Subversion: The whole bit about Khorne sparing civilians was added during 2nd edition, in one small text box in the Epic 40k rulebook. The original Khorne background from the 1st edition Realms of Chaos books clearly states that Khorne only cares about killing and violence.
- Feel No Pain: Played with. In battle, Khorne Berserkers will be filled with such Unstoppable Rage that nothing short of death will stop them (severed limbs will just slow them down). However, accepting the Gifts of Khorne leads to feeling intense, unbearable pain, which even Astartes are incapable of resisting for long, the longer one goes between slaughters.
- Four-Star Badass: Khorne himself, being a God of War, is probably the originator for every tactic and stratagem of war ever created. Khornate Chaos Lords are also often this in ADDITION to being unstoppable berzerkers.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: He's the god of rage.
- Hates Everyone Equally: As the embodiment of hate.
- Hellfire: His daemons often have weapons that burn with warpfire.
- I Have Many Names: Arnakh and Kharneth, for starters. In addition to his well deserved titles.
- It Can Think: The biggest mistaken you can make is thinking he's just a mindless brute; he's not, far from it.
- Kill 'em All: His modus operandi.
- Large Ham: See Evil Is Hammy.
- Might Makes Right: General Khornate philosophy.
- Named Weapons: His sword has been called 'Warmaker' and 'The End of All Things'' at various points.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Everything that has ever been associated with him ever has this. And very deservedly so.
- Not everything, but let's say 99% of things. The other 1% are simple Badass Nicknames.
- Odd Job Gods: Khorne's portfolio covers Death, Violence, Murder, Hatred, Rage, Destruction, Warfare and Bloodshed... but also Courage, Honor, Martial Pride, Protection and, one could argue, Compassion (do not kill those who are weak or unable to fight).
- Ominous Floating Castle: The Fortress of Khorne, where the Blood God resides upon the Skull Throne.
- Omnicidal Maniac: In the original 1st edition background, Khorne was extremely one-dimensional, even more so than in the later fluff - he even encouraged his followers to kill their own comrades if there were no enemies available.
- The Power of Hate
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: His followers embody the archetype among Chaos. Khorne himself is pretty much the God of Proud Warrior Race Guys.
- The Stoic: When not foaming-at-the-mouth furious or hateful, Khorne is this. Khorne exists only to fight and slay, and is indifferent to anything else, which is part of the reason why he hates Slaanesh so much.
- Unstoppable Rage: Very frequently. He is the god of rage, after all.
- Villainous Valour: Oh, how Khorne loves this. He considers it the highest virtue for his followers to find as many Worthy Opponents as possible and go up against one after the other and die gloriously while too consumed with Unstoppable Rage to even think of backing down.
- War God: One of the best examples in all of fiction, really.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Originally, his followers would not harm innocent civilians out of honor, but as time went on, it started to be more about ignoring civilians because they present no challenge, and Khorne desires worthy kills. After the Worthy Opponents are out of the way, all bets are off.
- Particularly, if killing civilians will provoke a Worthy Opponent, draw them out of a more defensive posture, and commit them to fighting you, especially if it drives them to the same levels of rage that Khorne so exalts, then you better believe his followers will engage in some inciting slaughter.
- Again, this is a Double Subversion. The bit about honor is from 2nd edition. In 1st edition Khorne was just an Omnicidal Maniac.
There, feel the glory of necrosis, and rejoice! Nurgle loves you, little one!
The Fly Lord, Neigel. Portrayed as a being horrifically bloated and deformed by the ravages of disease and decay, pustular guts falling through his torn skin, pus and blood and bile and other filth oozing from every pore, Nurgle is the eldest of the Chaos Gods, and may be the most disgusting and terrifying of them. Ironically, he's also one of the nicest, maintaining a caring and loving manner. Nurgle claims to love all
creatures — that just happens to include viruses, bacteria, fungi and other disease-causing organisms. Nurgle's followers spread disease and decay across the galaxy, forced to sing the songs of gratitude to "Grandfather Nurgle". He is is born from the galaxy's fear, despair, fortitude and the will to live no matter what.
Nurgle's sacred number is 7, and his associated Chaos Space Marine Legion is the Death Guard.
Notable tropes include:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Nurgle saved the Eldar goddess of life, Isha, from being eaten by Slaanesh because he is in love with her and he wants to marry her. Not only is Nurgle physically repellent in all the worst possible ways, his idea of expressing love is to keep her chained up in his kitchen/lab and force-feed her the latest plagues and diseases he has brewed to test their effectiveness; she heals herself, eventually, but she still suffers them. He does, however, apparently make no efforts to notice that she whispers cures to the diseases he has created to mortal kind.
- Affably Evil: Warmhearted, jovial, fatherly... and dedicated to the proliferation of disease and decay. And terrifyingly enough, he doesn't see anything destructive or even vaguely negative about what he does: he honestly believes that his plagues are gifts to the world. His demons, like the Great Unclean Ones and the Nurglings, behave in a pretty similar fashion.
- Arch-Enemy: Of Tzeentch. Is also none too fond of Slaanesh, since Slaanesh is the god of self-indulgence and pain whereas Nurgle is the god of endurance and (in his own twisted way) community.
- Beneficial Disease: Nurgle's followers regard every disease as being a blessing from their lord. More literally, this is often the form that Nurgle's boons take when granted to his favored children.
- Benevolent Boss: ironically for the God of Despair, Nurgle is the only Chaos God who actually cares about its followers.
- Of course, this is on a given definition of "benevolent".
- Blue and Orange Morality: Maybe. He claims his horrific plagues to be gifts, and that the despair they cause you are your way of saying thanks to him.
- Body Horror: Nurgle's physical form, and what frequently happens to his followers and their victims due to his "gifts".
- Cool Old Guy: How his followers seem to view him , as he is the oldest Chaos god.
- Dance Line / Magic Dance: On the planet Bubonicus, devotees of Nurgle performing an unending line dance that circles the equator. Dancers become infected with Nurgle's Rot and slowly transform into Plaguebearer daemons. As newly-minted daemons exit the dance to serve Nurgle, new devotees join, ensuring that the dance line remains unbroken. Nurgle was so delighted with the dance that he ruled that it should continue without end.
- Dead Weight: Though not necessarily technically "dead", many of Nurgle's more "blessed" followers and the most favored of his daemons otherwise fit into this trope. Taking the form of bloated abominations, their skin bursts with open wounds and sores they do not tend to, the stench of rot surrounds them, pus and maggots squirm within their flesh, and they can take one hell of a pounding without being discouraged.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Twisted in a way only Nurgle can. No matter how hard you resist him, he will "love" you all the more, so that when you finally give in, you really have his attention.
- Despair Event Horizon: The god of this. When you have passed it, you belong to Nurgle.
- Determinator: One of Nurgle's areas is endurance, particularly in the face of suffering. Those who finally give up in despair will ironically find themselves discouraged by no obstacle as they rededicate themselves to Nurgle and the inevitable victory of entropy he represents.
- The Fatalist: Nurgle's followers tend to become extremely fatalistic, which is part of why they have no fear of pain or death. They consider everything that happens to have been meant to happen, and fate will lay them where it will. Death, decay, and waste happen to everything in the end, so why fight it?
- Feel No Pain: The boon of Nurgle is that he will comfort all pain. Follow him, and you never have to worry about getting hurt again, Papa Nurgle will kiss it and make it "better".
- Flies Equals Evil: Naturally. Many of Nurgle's daemons take the form of flies, such as his Plague Drones, and many other "blessed" cultists and daemons will attract Nurgle's flies as well. They root around in filth and help spread his diseases, so he loves those little creatures dearly.
- Friend to All Living Things / Enemy to All Living Things: Nurgle has the attitude of the former coupled with the function of the later. The juxtaposition of the two is one of the things that makes Nurgle as creepy as he is.
- Garden of Evil: The Garden of Nurgle is this. Mostly because it's where he gets the ingredients for his plagues.
- Gass Hole: While not necessarily literal flatulence, many daemons and followers of his in more advanced states of infection and rot will discharge noxious and foul-smelling gasses. This is often a corpse-gas like miasma, and is in part a cause of their bloating. Its discharge helps to spread the infectious spores and bacteria that they grow inside them, as well as attracting various swarms of carrion flies that often swirl around them. Particularly "blessed" ones may even use this as a form of attack, causing the fertile ground around them to whither and die and their foes to choke and gag with every discharge.
- Graceful Loser: Nurgle's followers view death as a natural part of the cycle that will nurture rot and decay, and thus view their own defeats as inevitable.
- Lack of Empathy: Played with. In a sick way, Nurgle is the only Chaos God that honestly seems to care more about his followers than himself... although you really don't want his help. However, Nurgle is oblivious to the fact that sentient beings do NOT want his plagues, and their misery is NOT their way of thanking him. Likewise, he refuses to consider that his imprisonment of Isha is causing her great unhappiness.
- Nausea Fuel: Invoked. Nurglites are intended to be as disgusting as possible.
- The Necromancer: Ironically, despite the fact you'd expect this to be Tzeentch's dominion, given his fixation on changing (life into death being "one of the most meaningful changes") and mastery of magic, Nurgle is the Chaos God most associated with The Undead. This is less so in Warhammer'', however, where necromancy has become increasingly associated with "evil order".
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Nurgle and his followers are all about this, even if they're all very cheerful about it. Their only purpose is to spread disease and misery further, and having abandoned all hope and ambition they have nothing explicitly to live for other than to die and feed the cycle of rot. On the flip side, they also have the endurance and willpower to not just lay down and die, which makes them all the more dangerous. Put another way, Nurgle is Tzeentch's Last Man.
- Obliviously Evil: Nurgle genuinely believes that his plagues are gifts to the universe and the body horror he inflicts on sentient beings is an expression of love.
- Odd Job Gods: Nurgle's portfolio covers Disease, Decay, Poison, Fear, Despair, Entropy, Endurance, Willpower, and Healing.
- The Patriarch: Nurgle views himself as a loving, generous, playful parental figure to his followers, and his followers adore him for it, lovingly referring to him as "Grandfather", "Grandpa", "Papa", "Father" or "Uncle" Nurgle.
- The Pig Pen: Why clean up? You will just get dirty again. Besides, Nurgle loves you just the way you are, no matter how filthy you get, so why not let yourself get filthy and have a bunch of friendly bacteria and maggots on your body to keep you company?
- Token Good Teammate: He's the only Chaos god with sincere consideration for his followers. Of course, his ways of showing said consideration are insanely twisted.
- Plaguemaster: Obviously.
- Red Baron: The Plague Lord, the Fly Lord, the Plague Father, the Lord of Decay.
- Stepford Smiler: And HOW!
- Stockholm Syndrome: What Nurgle induces in his devotees. He corrupts their minds and infects them with disgusting, deforming diseases, and yet they adore him.
- The Swarm: Expect these anywhere near Nurgle. Many of his daemons are surrounded by swarms of flies, disease-spreading bloodsuckers, filth-spreading roaches, and carpets of maggots born from the carrion his followers leave in their wake. The newest Chaos Daemons codex has retconned the Beasts of Nurgle into being the maggots of monstrous fly-beasts, which are ridden by plaguebearers to form Nurgle's Plague Drones.
- The Virus: The "gifts" of Nurgle, the most famous of which is Nurgle's Rot.
- Walking Wasteland: Disease, decay, rot, and corrosion are all Nurgle's domain, and his daemons and followers will spread them where ever they go to further honor Papa Nurgle.
- The Worm That Walks: Some of Nurgle's daemons (such as the Plague Savants) are so full of maggots and other carrion breeders that they are practically animated by them.
- Zombie Apocalypse: More than a few worlds have suffered one due to one of Nurgle's diseases.
Long shall be your suffering. Joyous be your pain.
The Dark Prince, the Serpent, Lashor, She Who Thirsts. The youngest of the Dark Gods of Chaos, Slaanesh was born from the collective decadence and depravity of the Eldar Empire; its birth-scream tore the Eye of Terror
open and it consumed the bulk of the Eldar race shortly afterwards. While the physically weakest of the Dark Gods, Slaanesh is perhaps one of the most popular to worship, as it preaches the indulgence of every whim and the seeking of every pleasure, and so it has a very wide power base. At its birth it was arguably the strongest, as it not only destroyed an entire star-spanning galactic empire, it proceeded to hunt down and massacre the pantheon of gods of that empire as well, a feat unequaled by any god in the setting, Chaos or otherwise. It is the embodiment of Squick
, love, lust, pleasure, pain, excess, hubris, pride and desire.
Slaanesh's sacred number is 6 and its associated Chaos Space Marine Legion are the Emperor's Children.
Notable tropes include:
- The Ace: One could make the case. Slaanesh is the God of Pleasure, so anything that one derives pleasure from falls under its domain, and it encourages you to find pleasure in absolutely anything, and in turn Slaanesh itself enjoys cultivating new skills and experiences. This includes losing.
- It's actually noted that many Slaaneshi cultists turned to Slaanesh's worship to cultivate their skills to new heights. The desire to be the greatest duelist, painter, singer, sculptor, etc. is just as welcome to Slaanesh as sheer hedonism.
- All Men Are Perverts/All Women Are Lustful: Slaanesh is one or the other, or both of these at the same time.
- Ambiguous Gender: Humans consider Slaanesh male, while the Eldar consider Slaanesh female. Slaanesh's traditional depiction is as an impossibly beautiful creature that is a man on its left side and a woman on its right side. The confusion is often played up for humor within the fandom.
- Arch-Enemy: Of Khorne, whose mindless barbarism contains no thought of the self. Also a lesser enemy of Nurgle, who is similarly 'selfless' and focused on spreading his blessings to others instead of sating oneself.
- More generally, Slaanesh is viewed as the Arch-Enemy by the entire Eldar race, even the Dark Eldar in a somewhat perverse way. Their entire lives are devoted pretty much to staving off death because they know that upon that death, they belong to Her.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted. Slaanesh is perhaps the cruelest, most callous and most self-centered of all the Dark Gods.
- Charm Person: Those who gaze upon Slaanesh can do nothing but fall down and worship its inhuman beauty. This extends to its daemons, though a powerful mind can resist their presence. With Slaanesh itself, however, it doesn't matter how powerful your mind is — unless you are a god or something equally powerful, you will falter and fall before it.
- Combat Aestheticist: And how! Any fighter under Slannesh's service will be this, seeing beauty in the art of dealing death, having an almost obsessive relationship with the most beautiful and elegant weapons for the job, and finding the capacity for carnage exhilarating in its immaculate execution.
- Depraved Bisexual: There are fewer more depraved.
- The Dreaded: Apparently, even saying his/her/its name constitutes as the equivalent of profanity among the Eldar. They typically refer to Slannesh as "The Great Enemy" or "She Who Thirsts".
- Drugs Are Bad: Inverted, as Slannesh considers anything which heightens sensory experiences to be good. Many of its followers will experiment with a wide variety of substances to better experience all the pleasures they can offer. Such followers are also one of the Chaos factions most likely to use combat drugs when going into battle.
- Evil Feels Good: Or, rather, "if it feels good, then it's not evil". Slaanesh encourages his followers to ignore all morality, sanity and any other impediments to feeling pleasure. Alternatively, if you gain pleasure by recognising something as evil and perverse and doing it anyway, or even doing it because it is evil and that's how you get your jollies, come join in the fun.
- Extreme Omnisexual: Anything that moves and many things that do not. If it provides a physical or emotional thrill, it goes for Slaanesh's followers, no matter what it is.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: Unless an Eldar uses a special precaution - such as a soulstone or one of the various strategies of the Dark Eldar - his or her soul is forfeit to Slaanesh upon death, due to the fact that the decadence that gave birth to the god occurred in the center of the original Eldar civilization.
- The Fighting Narcissist: Something of a hat, Slaaneshi warriors tend towards inhumanly fast reflexes with all the arrogance it entails, especially as they're opposed to the brutal berserkers of Khorne.
- Gender Bender: Slaanesh can freely switch between male, female, hermaphrodite, and any other blending of gender features one can imagine. Some of its followers acquire this as a "gift" as well.
- Glamour: One of Slaanesh's qualities, to the point of overpowering any mortal who comes into Slaanesh's presence. Slaanesh's servants may be gifted with lesser form of this as well.
- The Hedonist: Slaanesh is the embodiment of all desires and exists only to sate those desires.
- Hemo Erotic: Along with every other kind of depraved erotic form out there. Many Slanneshi cultists eventually resort to cutting themselves while indulging in other pleasures because nothing less will provide the heights of sensation they are addicted to.
- Hermaphrodite: More conventional portrayals of this are certainly within its grasp. Most of its worshipers end up like this as well.
- Horny Devils: Slaanesh and all its daemons are basically this.
- Hot as Hell: Slannesh adores beauty, and will grant it to his/her followers as a blessing, and Slanneshi daemons have a strong streak of allure to them. However, like with all things, Slannesh takes this to excess, and with further mutation the beauty gradually passes beyond "normal" and into the realm of unreal perfection that is as disturbing as it is attractive.
- It Pleased Me: That they might receive pleasure from the act is the only reason followers of Slaanesh need to do anything.
- It's All About Me: It really is.
- Kill The Gods: After bloating itself on the souls of trillions of the Eldar who spawned it, Slaanesh made a bee-line for the Eldar Pantheon and effortlesly (and elegantly) slaughtered every last one of them, save Isha the Goddess of Life (who was saved / kidnapped by Nurgle) and the Laughing God (who ran like Hell). Khaine, the Eldar God of War and Murder, was slain as well, but survived (so to speak) in the form of Literally Shattered Lives, with countless pieces of himself reborn as Avatars throughout the cosmos.
- Love Goddess: In the most twisted way possible...
- Love Makes You Evil: It does when it is the love offered by the Prince of Excess...
- Mad Artist: The patron god of them. Slaanesh adores perfection and beauty, no matter how twisted that beauty must be to achieve that perfection.
- Merger of Souls: Slaanesh was born when countless eldar souls that died in extremely decadent orgies and sadistic slaughters coalesced together into a single entity. The resulting hole in spacetime, the Eye of Terror, shattered the eldar and human empires.
- Odd Job Gods: Slaanesh's portfolio covers Excess, Depravity, Pain, Perversion, Pleasure, Love, Lust, Desire, Mastery and Beauty.
- Out with a Bang: Slaanesh has a disturbing amount of ways to do this, not all of which are literal sex as we know it. Slaanesh is also said to grant his/her/it's foes one moment of ultimate ecstasy before snuffing their life out. That this is also a gift offered to Slaanesh's own followers is one of the things that makes them willing to die for their patron when their creed otherwise emphasizes self-serving behavior instead of self-sacrifice.
- The Perfectionist
- Pleasure Palace: The Palace of Slaanesh, where every possible depraved act thinkable (and some that are unthinkable) is performed.
- Power Perversion Potential - Slaanesh is arguably an inversion. The powers he grants to his followers are intended to be used for perverse purposes, but in a pinch can be repurposed to serve more pragmatic needs. Perfumes that cause bliss when inhaled can incapacitate and fog the minds of foes, extra long tongues for tasting and stimulating can be used to ensnare, etc.
- Pronoun Trouble: Often used as a joke by the fandom.
- Red Baron: The Dark Prince, the Serpent, She Who Thirsts.
- Safe, Sane and Consensual: Both averted and rejected. The followers of Slaanesh consider safety, sanity, and consent to be blasphemous concepts for getting between them and what they want.
- Sense Freak: Taken Up to Eleven. Long time, hyper-desensitized followers will literally immolate themselves, just to feel something new.
- Sex Is Evil: An incarnation of this is the simplest way of viewing Slaanesh.
- Sex Is Violence: Slaanesh honestly seems to be unaware of the difference.
- Shapeshifting: The only consistent aspect of Slaanesh's appearance is terrible beauty. Beyond that, Slaanesh will appear however it wants to, usually as a reflection of what is most desired by whomever looks upon it. In this way, it is A Form You Lust After.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Slaanesh is described as so beautiful that merely glancing at it can make you fall in love with it, to the extent you will sell your soul to Slaanesh right then and there without hesitation. Slaanesh, of course, does not view this as a curse.
- Weak, but Skilled: Slaanesh has a fair number of warriors as followers, though obviously not as many as Khorne. In comparison to the brutal fury of Khorne though, the warriors of Slaanesh follow because they seek mastery of their skills, to make that perfect shot or flawlessly win that next sword duel. If it falls into the desire for the perfection of self, it is Slaanesh's domain, even in combat, and the skills of some of the followers reflect that.
- Wicked Cultured: Slaanesh is not just about physical sensations such as sex and torture, but also enjoying such things as art and music. Generally, though, Slaanesh and his/her followers gradually move more towards the "wicked" part than the "cultured" part as time goes on.
Do not ask which creature screams in the night. Do not question who waits for you in the shadow. It is my cry that wakes you in the night, and my body that crouches in the shadow. I am Tzeentch and you are the puppet that dances to my tune...
The Changer of Ways, the Great Conspirator, the Architect of Fate, Tchar. The manipulative one, the Dark God who sees all things that may be and redirects the future to serve his own inscrutable whims and goals. Tzeentch is the lord of Change, and considered the most powerful of the Chaos Gods, for Change and Chaos are synonymous. Born as the collective embodiment of the galaxy's hope and envy, Tzeentch is the patron of all who would seek change, in any form — but they may get more then they desired. Tzeentch exhorts his followers to bring change, in any form, to anyone and everyone, and psykers/sorcerers owe him particular allegiance.
Tzeentch is rarely described, but they tend to vary, which is fitting for the Lord of Change. One ancient portrayal is as a ghastly, dwarfish thing, with horns arcing up from either shoulder over a head sunken into his neck and many whispering mouths crawling over his body. Another is a serpentine figure with bird-like features. His sacred number is 9, and his associated Chaos Space Marine Legion is the Thousand Sons.
Notable tropes include:
- All According to Plan: Tzeentch's attitude, all the time. He plots and schemes, turning wheels within wheels, gambits within gambits, each of his plans designed to sabotage another one of his plans which in turn sabotages another, and so on ad infinitum. It is with good reason that the fandom has adopted "Just as planned" as Tzeench's informal Catch Phrase.
- Arch-Enemy: Of Nurgle. Nurgle is the god of cycles, despair, rot and stagnation. Tzeentch is the lord of change, hope, mutation and optimism. The two are fundamentally opposed because they want the opposite thing (endless stagnation into despair and rot vs. constant evolution). Another reason given in the novel Palace of the Plague Lord, it is stated Tzeentch hates Nurgle because of all the Chaos gods, Nurgle's actions are just too chaotic for even Tzeentch to predict, thus making Nurgle the most difficult to manipulate.
- The Archmage: Tzeentch is the most powerful manipulator of sorcery and psionics in the Warhammer 40000 canon. He has since fallen from grace, but is still one of the undisputed masters of magicks. His staff, upon shattering, became not material pieces but rather individual spells, hence Tzeentch is literally the inventor of magic.
- Bad Boss: Tzeentch has a habit of using and discarding his own followers. Exemplified with what it did to the Thousand Sons.
- Batman Gambit: Tzeentch basically does this as a thought exercise, every moment of every day for all eternity.
- Bigger Bad / The Man Behind the Man: While Khorne is often stated to be the mightiest of the Chaos Gods, Tzeentch and his schemes are implied to be the true guiding force behind all of the Chaos gods. His realm is said to extend to all the others and provide them with a bedrock of consistency upon which to exist. When the Chaos Gods have their rare meetings and hold alliances, it is Tzeentch that makes it happen.
- Body Horror: Of all the Chaos Gods, Tzeentch is the freest in doling out mutation, simply because constant, perpetual change is his reason for existing and his followers should embrace this in mind, soul and body.
- Bright Is Not Good: Sky blue and gold are his favoured colours. Of course, he can change into any colour if he wills it.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He really has a problem with this. A significant number of his own daemons would freely desert or double cross him if given the chance, save for the fact he's the only one who knows their true natures. The other Gods are wary of him because of it. Ironically, he's also the one who usually forms alliances between the Chaos Gods...which is probably the biggest reason they are wary of him.
- Combat Tentacles: Sometimes it's one of your two arms, sometimes it's an entirely new limb.
- Consummate Liar: He is called the Liar God for a reason.
- Evilutionary Biologist: Tzeentch is basically fuelled by the same energies that drive evolution, and seeks to force evolution upon others, hence the readiness with which he dispenses physical transformations. The problem is, Tzeentch doesn't comprehend moderation, and instead causes his worshippers and victims alike to evolve and mutate and change and change and change until they become indescribable horrors or die (or both).
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: If Tzeentch feels you need more eyes, you damn well are getting more eyes.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Taken to its extreme. Tzeentch will die if any of his myriad plans succeed, thus every one of his plans will fail because he sabotages them, and he has several plans that run completely contrary to his other plans by design (though, of course, not as the end). This is the real measure of his chessmastery skills, the fact that he has millions of these running, most extremely complex and many spanning centuries, and not one of them succeed even by accident because he is that damn good.
- For the Lulz: Tzeentch cannot be foiled, simply because he doesn't actually have a plan to foil. If Tzeentch ever actually "won", then he would probably cease to exist, because that would mean that nothing would ever be able to change any more.
- Go Mad from the Revelation:
- Tzeentch is the keeper of all knowledge, and may grant that knowledge to those who supplicate it from him. However, those who do so do not always have minds capable to accepting the horrible truths Tzeentch has to offer, and this is an all too common result.
- Tzeentch also knows that knowing too much can be a problem, hence why he never dove into the well of eternity himself. He instead threw his most powerful Lord of Change, Kairos, into it. Apparently the absolute knowledge of space-time continuum was so great that an immortal daemon was aged into a crippled old man with a compulsive need to lie within minutes. Tzeentch has instead chose not to try and contain the information within himself, but have people record everything the Kairos says.
- Great Gazoo: A villainous exemple.
- Hopeless War: One could theorize that thanks to his inherent self-defeating disorder and the fact that he is the most Magnificent of all Magnificent Bastards, because of him the cause of Chaos is doomed to fail because he can never allow it to succeed. Instead it is in his interest and integral to his nature to maintain a Forever War. Still, that is small comfort for the Imperium, especially since they aren't the only ones fighting Chaos and some other horrid race could easily replace him.
- Jackass Genie: Beware his sick sense of humor.
- Magical Library: The Hidden Library of Tzeentch. It holds every magical spell, every prophecy, every piece of knowledge one could hope to find. Just two small problems: the books are alive, and they're pure evil.
- Magnificent Bastard: Tzeentch is the literal god of Magnificent Bastards. Whatever you do, he will benefit, Just As Planned.
- Mobile Maze: The Maze of Tzeentch, which shifts and contorts to trap any who enter it.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: A mutation that you might gain, although whether or not it's helpful depends on where the extra arms pop out of.
- Odd Job Gods: Tzeentch's portfolio covers Hope, Envy, Treachery, Transformation, Change, and Magic/Psionics.
- The Omniscient: It comes with being the god of knowledge. It's implied, however, that one thing eludes his grasp, the future. He can see the general direction of things, but it's one of the few uncertainties to him. It is this that caused him to throw Kairos into the Well of Eternity.
- Red Baron: The Architect of Fate, the Changer of Ways, the Great Mutator, the Lord of Change.
- Status Quo Is God: Ironically for a god of Change, he is the greatest enforcer of this trope in-universe.
- Trickster God: Basically the Trickster of the Chaos Gods, given his favor of deception and deceit. Although what he considers a practical joke, the Inquisition would consider grounds for Exterminatus. Of the four gods, only his minions actively play tricks on mortals.
- ‹bermensch: Tzeentch is the patron god of these: He constantly seeks to change, evolve, and discard old laws and restrictions in favour of making your own way based purely on your own will and vision. Nurgle, who wants to decay in the existing world, serves as the Last Man.
- Xanatos Gambit: When the plot itself is the payoff, any of Tzeentch's schemes become this by default. The question is only which one of his pawns reaps their payoff.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Tzeentch is basically pulling this constantly against the whole galaxy...and against himself.
Daemons Of Chaos
Chaos can not be denied.
The Daemons of Chaos are mankind's every vice and failing given form and freedom to murder. Their numbers limitless and their malice infinite, their very presence deforms the universe. Their forms are beyond prediction: machines that do not obey physical laws, childhood nightmares, and reflections of primal emotions all have a place in a daemon army. Greater than their physical presence is their influence over the minds of mortals. Power, immortality and all manner of immorality is offered - for a price. Most daemons are aligned with one of the four great gods of Chaos.
Chaos Daemons play unlike any other army. Their forces appear out of thin air, deploying via Deep Strike, and are all fearless and supernaturally warded against enemy attacks. Save for the daemons of Tzeentch, they don't have much in the way of ranged attacks, but their unrivaled ferocity in close combat, combined with the speed with which they engage the enemy, makes them a potent threat. The only good news for their enemies is that daemons have little in the way of corporeal armor, and are relatively few in number, especially since half the army starts the game in reserve. They also have the unique feature of being almost completely reusable in Warhammer
, which got its own Chaos Daemons codex at around the same time 40k did.
Notable Daemonic tropes include:
- Alien Geometries: The shapes and forms of daemons typically take these.
- And Call Him George: Poor, poor Beasts of Nurgle. With the personality and demeanor of an excited puppy, they just want to play with all the "friends" they meet on the battlefield. However, they are about six feet long, strong enough to crush a man under their bulk, and they secrete all manner of toxins and virulent diseases, so you can guess how well that goes.
- Artifact of Doom: Most notably in the form of Daemon Weapons, which tend to take possession of weak-willed wielders.
- Asteroids Monster: Pink Horrors of Tzeentch split into two Blue Horrors upon death, a rule that drove players crazy in previous editions. "Where once was one, now there is two, where once was pink, now there is blue."
- Axe Crazy / The Berserker: Khornate daemons, naturally.
- Big Red Devil: Bloodthirsters, the Greater Daemons of Khorne, are massive, demonic-looking winged beasts.
- Demonic Invaders
- The Dreaded: Angrath, Khorne's most favoured Bloodthirster. So much so, that even the mightiest of the Grey Knights can only timidly whisper his name.
- Eldritch Abomination: With a 5+ Invulnerable save.
- Energy Beings: Daemons are these in the Warp, where they attempt to break into spaceships traveling through it and devour the souls of everyone inside.
- Evil Makes You Monstrous: Daemon Princes.
- Fat Bastard: Great Unclean Ones, the Greater Daemons of Nurgle, are bloated, putrid beings.
- Feathered Fiend: Lords of Change, the Greater Daemons of Tzeentch, are often depicted with beaks and large, vibrant wings.
- Fighting a Shadow: You can defeat a Daemon, but only by imprisoning it in something or sending it back to the Warp.
- Hell Hound: The Flesh Hounds of Khorne, sent to chase down foes too cowardly to face Khorne in battle, particularly psykers.
- Hellish Horse: Daemonic mounts. Generally... somewhat less than pleasant.
- I Know Your True Name: Daemons and the Grimoire of True Names.
- Insubstantial Ingredients: Swords of hate, or delusion, or the like.
- The Juggernaut: Of particular note are the Khornate daemons called Juggernauts, which resemble flaming, metallic rhinos. Used as mounts, they aren't particularly fast, but hit with the impact of a flaming freight train.
- Leave No Witnesses: Aetaos'Rau'Keres, an ancient daemon of Tzeentch with a terrible case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. He's murdered everybody, mortal and demon alike, who knows anything about his true nature. The only reason he's still "loyal" is because Tzeentch is the only person left in the universe who could sell out his secret.
- Lethal Joke Character: The new 6th Edition plays up the fickledness of the gods to almost comical levels; you can't even select wargear for your units, you have to buy a "chance" and then roll for it at the beginning of the game. The Warp Storm table, which activates every turn, has just as much a chance to cripple your opponent's army as it does yours, and the dice rolls don't even scale linearly in that respect (there are both great boons and huge handicaps on both ends of the scale). However, they are the only army with access to cheap Power Weapons and invulnerable saves and there's always a chance that things will turn out better for you, because every dice roll in the game for a Daemon Player always has at least one beneficial result (even if every other result would otherwise cripple you).
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Keepers of Secrets, the Greater Daemons of Slaanesh, possess two regular arms and two pincher arms.
- Nipple and Dimed: The 4th Edition models for Slaaneshi Daemonettes aroused... controversy by eschewing the previous versions' Chainmail Bikinis. Some models even featured three sets of breasts (this is Chaos, after all), including Steeds of Slaanesh, which are nonhumanoid serpent-like creatures. As of 5th Edition, however, the Daemonettes have been retooled as more androgynous, and either have corsets or don't need them. Fan reactions to the change were... mixed.
- Papa Wolf: Some greater daemons of Nurgle will flip out if you try to harm the little nurglings.
- Rain of Blood: Khorne, through the actions of his champions. Also sometimes literally, if the Daemons section of the 5e rulebook is to be believed. There were apparently exploding, shrieking skulls in there, too.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Pink Horrors are energetic and happy, Blue Horrors are grumpy.
- World of Chaos: Daemon Worlds, natch.
Chaos Space Marines
Sanity is for the weak!
Let the Galaxy Burn!
At the height of the Emperor's Great Crusade, when humanity was entering a second golden age, a shocking betrayal nearly destroyed the human race. Horus, Warmaster of the Imperial forces, Primarch of the Luna Wolves, and the Emperor's most beloved son, led fully half of the Space Marine legions and a third of the Imperium's conventional armies
into the embrace of Chaos and rebelled against the Emperor. During the Siege of Terra, Horus was finally cast down by the Emperor, but at a terrible price, and the battle left the Emperor confined to the life-support systems of the Golden Throne. The rebel Space Marines fled into the Eye of Terror, a gateway into the Warp itself, where they licked their wounds and planned terrible revenge on their foes. Ten thousand years later, these original traitor legions remain, granted unnaturally long life by their patrons as a reward for their faith, or perhaps as a punishment for their failure.
The Chaos Space Marines are very dangerous enemies, who were already superhuman warriors before
they sold their souls
to the Dark Gods for more power. Veterans of thousands of years of battle, they know every trick in the book, and may have helped write it in the first place. They still use the formidable wargear of the Adeptus Astartes, but it has been enhanced and twisted
by the powers of the Warp into more lethal and hideous forms, and they can call upon the power of the Warp directly in battle by summoning units of daemons to the field. Chaos Space Marine heroes are both Chaos' greatest champions and its favorite playthings, who have been marked by their gods with powerful daemonic gifts that will either take them on a path to daemon princedom, or tear their bodies and minds apart as they degenerate into Chaos spawn. They once helped build the Imperium
, but now they want nothing more than to see the galaxy that cast them down burn.
The tabletop Chaos Space Marines army plays very similarly to conventional Space Marines, for obvious reasons, sharing most of the their strengths and weaknesses. But while the Space Marines are an army of generalists, Chaos Marines have access to units dedicated to the powers of the Warp, giving them fantastic assault troops in the form of Khorne Berserkers or deadly ranged units such as Slaaneshi Noise Marines. Chaos leaders are some of the most frightening opponents in the game, thanks to the daemonic gifts available to them, and units of daemons can be summoned for surprise assaults. The main drawback is that these upgrades come at a price, so a Chaos Space Marine army will likely field fewer models than even loyalist Space Marines. On the whole, Chaos Space Marines tend to more geared towards the offensive than their loyalist counterparts, and lack some the special rules that render certain units for them less useful than loyalist marines.
Like the Space Marines, they can be split in terms of style among their founder legions. Some famous Legions (and Renegade factions) include:
* The Thousand Sons are an exception to anarchy, as they are usually very methodical in their schemes and actions.
Notable Chaos Space Marine tropes include:
See also Night Lords, Word Bearers, Iron Warriors, Black Legion
- Animated Armor: Almost all Thousand Sons marines have had their bodies rendered to dust by a spell. The only thing holding their soul to the mortal realm is their armor, which moves according to their will.
- Arm Cannon: Obliterators are Chaos Marines with a daemonic virus that fuses their bodies and armor, but also lets them "grow" whatever weapons they want.
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Chaos Space Marines who win favor with their patron God have the chance to ascend to become Daemon Princes. All surviving Traitor Primarchs (with the possible exception of Alpharius/Omegon, whichever one Guilliman didn't kill) have ascended as Daemon Princes. Fortunately for the Imperium, they seem content to just hang out on their homeworlds.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: The only strategy the Khorne Berserkers know, since they are...
- Axe Crazy: ... as they voluntarily undergo lobotomies to better focus on bloodshed. Though technically they're Chainaxecrazy. Special mention must be made of Kharn the Betrayer, berserker of the World Eaters legion who, when a battle against the rival Emperor's Children legion was halted when the combatants took shelter from a blizzard, personally burned down an entire city and butchered everyone he could find. He's also the new commissar and a pretty swell guy.
- An Axe to Grind: Many a follower of Khorne favors Chainaxes. Angron wielded two Chainaxes called "Gorefather" and "Gorechild", and later gave Gorechild to Kharn.
- Badass: They are the only army in the setting capable of matching the Space Marines blow for blow on equal terms.
- Badass Army: Chaos Space Marines are far more powerful combatants individually than their loyalist brothers due to their 'blessings' and experience. This is represented in the tabletop by them having one extra attack over their loyalist counterparts for all their unitsnote , thus making them much better in a close-range assault. However, they don't have the same discipline and cohesion their loyalist counterparts do, lacking the Combat Tactics and And They Shall Know No Fear rules the loyalists have.
- Badass Bandolier: Chaos Havoc models have these, in contrast to their loyalist counterparts. Justified, as they don't really have the same sophistication of technology.
- Badass Beard: Occasionally have these; an example would be of a Word Bearer in the aptly named Word Bearers trilogy.
- Badass Biker: They have bikes too. And they put skulls on 'em, and spikes, and occasionally bind the souls of daemons to 'em.
- Badass Boast: They've made a few. Of note from Lord Zhufor the Impaler;
"The gates that stand between the mortal world and immortal realms of Chaos lie open before us. That we will die having glimpsed eternity is better than never having stirred from the cold furrow of mortal life. We embrace death without regret, as we embrace life without fear."
- Badass Bookworm: Sorcerers, particularly the Thousand Sons.
- Badass Cape: And more generally, cloaks made of human skin are all the rage among Chaos Marines.
- Badass Creed: Various Chaos Legions have one tailored to the God(s) they worship.
- Badass Crew: Your average Chaos warband will be the most Badass group on any planet they set foot on. Granted, that's mostly because they killed everyone else on the planet, but they were still Badass before they arrived.
- Badass Grandpa: Many of them are veterans of the Horus Heresy itself, due to their Warp-enhanced lifespan.
- Badass In Charge: Your run of the mill Chaos Lord needs to be this in order to hold on to his position for more than a minute. Chaos Marines do not abide weak leaders.
- Badass Longcoat: We are contractually obligated to remind you that Chief Apothecary Fabius Bile of the Emperor's Children has in his possession a lab coat made of human skin.
- Badass Long Robe: Sorcerers and Dark Apostles, on occasion.
- Badass Preacher: Dark Apostles, who are far more brutal than their Loyalist counterparts, the Chaplains, if you can believe that.
- Badass Transplant: In addition to the myriad genetic augmentations they retain, there's also the horrifying mutations they receive that further enhance their impressive fighting ability. And then there's the Iron Warriors, who's love for cybernetic 'enhancements' makes the Iron Hands seem well-adjusted and moderate.
- Big Bad: Abaddon the Despoiler, the heir of Horus as Lord of the Black Legion and Warmaster of Chaos, is the main contender for the post of Big Bad of 40K.
- Black Knight: Not all members of the Black Legion are former Sons of Horus; some have joined from other renegade Space Marines and renounced their old loyalties.
- Bling of War: While as a whole Traitor Marines have less bling (but more spikes) than Loyalist Marines, the Emperor's Children have much, much more. Their emphasis on beauty and excess drives many of them to guild their armor in all manner of garish and eye-popping ways, set off with a number of bright and confusing colors. The clashing and decorative overkill is the entire point for them.
- Blood Knight: All followers of Khorne are this and the best example in the setting. While Khorne cares not from whence the blood flows, he does appreciate worthy sacrifices and mighty warriors serving him. As such, Khornate worshipers tend to prove themselves as great warriors for the esteem of their God and tend to kill something that may present a remote challenge first before moving on to killing the defenseless.
- Body Horror
- Many due to mutations, but especially Obliterators. These men have a virus that forces them to meld with all technology they use. This ends with them essentially having their flesh interwoven with their armor and large lumps containing weapons, many of which poke out.
- The new Chaos Dreadnoughts, Hellbrutes, seems to have their occupants fused to the machine. Organically. The armor's various limbs seems to have turned fleshy as a result.
- Thousand Sons suffered two versions of this. First is when they pledged themselves to the god of mutation (not a smart idea). Trying to avert their fate, instead most of them had their bodies reduced to dust and locked in their suits, becoming Rubric Marines.
- Spawnhood is the result of someone who can't take the body horror. The transformations drive them mad until they devolve into mindless beasts. Spawns can rage from daemon-esque monsters to walking piles of eyeballs, or simply a mass of flesh, bone and sinew that has no right to move under its own power.
- Fabius Bile has this as his hat. Being a Dr. Frankenstein expy, his special rules allow him to "modify" any unit of Chaos Marines into monsters. Every single edition of the book reminds you that this is usually temporary, if only because the Marines die violently from chemical imbalances afterward.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Most followers of Nurgle are like this, although in the twisted kind of way only the forces of Chaos can make them.
- Butt Monkey: A long-time Running Gag involves a character called M'Kar the Reborn. Despite being a Daemon Prince (and therefore approximately 25 feet tall and made partially of magic), he has a long history of getting beaten up by absolutely everybody. This was somewhat undone by the recent Grey Knights codex, in which he is taken slightly more seriously.
- Cain and Abel: The Primarchs versus the Traitor Primarchs, loyalist Marines vs Chaos Marines.
- Catch Phrase: Khorne's followers are well known for their Battle Cry "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!". Kharn himself has a thing for the phrase "KILL! MAIM! BURN! KILL! MAIM! BURN!"
- They also double as Madness Mantras
- Another notable warcry is "Let the Galaxy Burn!"
- The Chessmaster: Tzeentch's followers have some degree of foresight on their side, while the Alpha Legion is known for elaborate covert campaigns, misdirection, and propaganda.
- Clothes Make the Maniac: Wargear touched by Chaos has a (further) negative effect on the user's mind.
- The Corrupter: Before the Horus Heresy Kor Phaeron was this for Lorgar, and Erebus was this for Horus. Cypher may have been this for Luther.
- The Corruption: "The filth of their visage is as nothing to the filth in their hearts."
- Cult: The Alpha Legion makes extensive use of cultists as part of their guerrilla war against the Imperium. Many other Chaos Space Marines also do this, but the Alpha Legion is special for actually training their cultists, rather than employing them as cannon fodder.
- Cultured Badass: How the Emperor's Children view themselves. At this point, though their activities place more emphasis on the Bad than the "Cultured".
- Dark Is Evil: The Black Legion.
- Dark Messiah: The Chaos Primarchs are seen as such.
- The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: After ten thousand years, some members of the Traitor Legions have forgotten why they rebelled in the first place, which doesn't dampen their hate in the slightest.
- Demonic Possession: Some Traitor Marines volunteer to act as daemonhosts, gaining supernatural powers at a terrible price.
- Enemy Civil War: Fortunately for the rest of the galaxy, the Traitor Legions have their own rivalries and grudges going nearly as far back to the Horus Heresy.
- Enfant Terrible: When Angron landed on his unnamed planet, he was attacked by what Imperial authorities believe were Eldar intent on stopping the rise of the future Daemon Prince. When humans finally found him, he was surrounded by their bodies.
- Enigmatic Minion: The Alpha Legion. Are they irredeemably corrupted? Or secretly The Mole for the Imperium? Where do they keep their forces between the Black Crusades? Why don't they operate from the Eye of Terror? Is their Primarch still alive, or not? It's possible they're not even a coherent Legion any more, just a collection of war-bands each operating under their own inscrutable motives.
- Evil Costume Switch: Chaos Marines of all stripes usually add blasphemous symbols and icons to their Powered Armor. Additionally, many instituted Legion- or Chapter-wide changes to their color schemes to symbolize their change in allegiance. The only Traitor Legions to maintain their pre-Heresy color schemes were the Iron Warriors and the Night Lords.
- Evil Counterpart: To loyalist Astartes generally, but some of the Traitor Legions mirror the specialties and philosophies of a loyal one:
- The Iron Warriors are experts in siege warfare like the Imperial Fists, and also have a similar technological bent to the Iron Hands.
- The Night Lords like using surgical surprise attacks to instill terror, somewhat similar to the stealthy raids of the Raven Guard.
- The Black Legion has the same sort of generally elite leadership status as the Ultramarines.
- The World Eaters favor close combat in Unstoppable Rage mode, much like the Blood Angels.
- While not related to a founding legion, the Word Bearers' zeal is matched only by that of the Black Templars (Functionally however, Black Templars are, again, closer to World Eaters).
- The Fallen are literal Evil Counterparts to the Dark Angels, as they are the result of the original Dark Angels Legion fracturing. It is one of the Dark Angels' greatest shames.
- The Thousand Sons are Evil Counterparts to the Blood Ravens; both rely on psychic predictions and have disproportionate amount of Librarian in their forces. Though it is heavily hinted that the Blood Ravens were a loyalist offshoot from the pre-Heresy Thousand Sons.
- Evil Is Hammy: Khornates especially.
- Evil Overlord: Chaos Lords. None more so than Abaddon.
- The Evil Prince:
- Horus, the first and most favored son of the Emperor.
- The aptly named Daemon Princes, who vie for the favor of the Dark Gods and control of the various Daemon Worlds.
- Evil Sorcerer: Chaos Sorcerers, naturally enough. The most famous of their number is Ahzek Ahriman of the Thousand Sons, a formidable psyker who was exiled for accidentally turning most of the legion into walking suits of Power Armor.
- Face-Heel Turn: The biggest example would be Horus. The brightest hope of all humanity since the Emperor, beloved by all of mankind, a peerless warrior and sublime statesman. The very best that humanity could ever be...is almost killed and shown Scrooge-like visions of a future where he is forgotten and his Father is worshipped as a God across a million worlds. Cue instant patricidal hatred, and the beginnings of a rebellion that would eventually damn the Galaxy into a slow decay of labyrinthine bureaucracy, never ending bloodshed, and, perhaps most tragically, no future for mankind. In other words...exactly what he saw.)
- He hasn't quite been forgotten, even by the Imperial Guard; a character in the Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) book Caves of Ice describes a recently-shot Ork as being "deader than Horus". Also, officers with the rank of "Warmaster" (Horus's old title) often change it to something else to avoid the unpleasant associations with the title.
- His name also appears to be a curse in some circles; in Damnatus Wodan comments angrily "Where the Horus are we now?", and one of the Cain books uses the phrase "and Horus take the hindmost" in the same way one might use hell or the devil.
- Abaddon made sure that, at least in the Black Legion, Horus is forgotten, by personally destroying Horus' corpse with his own hands and ordering all members of the legion to repaint their armor black to permanently bury the (grey-colored) Luna Wolves, the original name of the Black Legion. Ironically, it's hinted that Abaddon might be Horus's Cloned Son, in the same vein as Boba Fett.
- Fake Defector / Reverse Mole: The Alpha Legion, in the most twisted way possible. Maybe.
- Fallen Hero: Most Chaos Space Marines either defected during the Horus Heresy or joined up afterwards.
- Four-Star Badass: More ambitious Chaos Lords, meaning those who lead Black Crusades. Yeah, Abaddon isn't the only one. There have been many others which are beside the big 13. They tend to be much more successful. If smaller in scale.
- Friend or Foe: The World Eaters don't much care which side you are on, once they start fighting.
- Game Face: Possessed Chaos marines are known for having a half-human, half-daemonic appearance as they tear across the battlefield to rend their foes. Some of the literature though states that this is only their "battle form" and that the daemon is kept bottled inside when not in combat, making them look more like a normal (if that word is even applicable) Chaos Space Marine most of the time.
- General Failure: Despite being the heir to Horus and a force of darkness capable of banding the Traitor Legions together into multiple Black Crusades, Abaddon the Despoiler has yet to topple the Imperium. However, somewhere along the way he wised up and started playing the Long Game, directing his later Crusades towards the secret objective of seizing various artefacts of doom. This appears to have paid off; as of the 13th Black Crusade his forces have smashed through the Cadian Gate and are on a rampage around Segmentum Obscurus.
- Haunted Technology: Chaos is capable of possessing or warping weapons, armor, even vehicles. The Defiler is essentially a walking tank with a daemon spirit sealed inside.
- Headdesk: Done in one battle report; a Chaos Space Marine leader wallbanged his metal forehead against the inner wall of a bunker, in response to his units' abysmal accuracy.
- A Hero To His Hometown: Kharn is admired by Khorne Berserkers of the World Eaters and Khornate worshipers in general...but no one else.
- Well, he's feared and loathed by all others. He probably thinks that's better than being admired.
- I Am Spartacus: The Alpha Legion's members shape their appearance to that of their Primarch and adopt his identity. This combined with the fact that Alpharius had an identical twin brother casts doubts on the Imperium's claims of killing him.
- I Ate What?: Most Chaos Marines are fused into their power armor, which recycles the Space Marine's waste into a bland, tasteless nutrient paste.
- Instrument of Murder: Noise Marines.
- Irony: They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. Tell that to the Death Guard.
- Killed Off for Real: Chaos Space Marines can sometimes avert this if they impress their patron God or daemon, but Horus is dead in every way possible. When the Emperor finally stopped holding back (and perhaps by exploiting a small crack in Horus' armour as a result of Sanguinius' Heroic Sacrifice depending on which rendition you read)/Horus started to hold back to savour his victory, he didn't just kill Horus; he destroyed his mind and soul, preventing the Chaos Gods from ever resurrecting him. The Emperor's Children reclaimed his body and Fabius Bile tried to clone him, but Abaddon destroyed the clone and Horus's body.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Khornates again. Though their Unstoppable Rage coming from the sentient personification of warfare helps them beat through most who stand in their way.
Kharn: Attack is the only order worth remembering.
- Like a Badass out of Hell
- Surprise attacks from the Eye of Terror, especially the Black Crusades.
- During the Siege of Terra, Kharn racked up a bigger body count than anyone else before he was finally killed. Legend holds that Khorne was so impressed he sent Kharn back to life to kill again. Even if it's own brother legionnaires.
- The Red Corsairs when attacking from the Maelstrom.
- Mad Scientist: Fabius Bile of the Emperor's Children has earned appellations such as the "Clone-Master" for his work providing the Traitor Legions with new recruits. When he's not making loyalist Space Marines' entry criteria look tame, he enjoys creating his breed of "new men" through gene-therapy, most of which turn out into homicidal maniacs he gleefully looses onto the Imperium. Bile also likes to tinker on himself to the extent that in early Chaos Codices his stats were determined by dice rolls. And as we must remind you in every article, his lab coat is made of human skin.
- The Magnificent: Abaddon the Despoiler, Kharn the Betrayer.
- Meaningful Rename: Several legions were renamed by their Primarchs; the Sons of Horus was renamed again, to the Black Legion, by Abaddon.
- The Astral Claws became the Red Corsairs, to separate themselves from their former chapter. Lufgt Huron followed suit and became Huron Blackheart.
- Mecha-Mooks: The Thousand Sons legion was suffering from high levels of mutation, leading one sorcerer to cast a spell to remove the problem. It succeeded too well, for now the rank-and-file are little more than animate suits of power armor containing a bit of dust and the trapped souls of their wearers.
- The Mole: Regardless of whether or not the Alpha Legion is a Reverse Mole for the Imperium, they do commonly use moles as part of their modus operandi of cult operation and misdirection. With proper training and careful manipulation by very discrete and well organized cults in Imperial society, the Alpha Legion often gets people loyal to their cause well positioned in Imperial administrations. By this method, they can carefully subvert Imperial operations for far longer than the Inquisition would normally take to root them out, doing long term damage all the while.
- Musical Assassin: Some servants of Slaanesh become Noise Marines, who have overindulged their senses so much that only extreme cacophony has any effect on them. In battle they wield deadly sonic weapons that in earlier editions resembled electric guitars.
- Obviously Evil: No, seriously. Except for some followers of Tzeentch.
- Off Screen Villain Dark Matter: Ten thousand years later, the Traitor Legions have yet to run out of boltgun rounds. Justified with Chaos forge worlds, supply raids, and the fact that the Warp sneers at concepts such as "causality" and "logic."
- Omnicidal Maniac:
- When the fighting starts, Kharn stops caring whose side you're on.
- The minor Warband known as The Purge. Unlike the average follower of Nurgle, who is either depressed or jolly, they hate life in all forms and seek to annihilate it.
- One-Man Army:
- Say what you will Abbadon the Despoiler's strategic abilities, but in hand to hand combat, he is the most dangerous thing in the entire game. Whole squads will be thrown at him and all they do is merely slow him down.
- Kharn the Betrayer arguably matches him in those terms. In the backstory, he single-handedly shattered two entire Chaos Legions.
- Fluff-wise, Chaos Space Marines are just as powerful as their loyalist counterparts, and are also as powerful as they are on the tabletop, while having better offensive power.
- Daemon Princes often invoke this trope in their fluff. Tabletop wise, they've seen a series of nerfs that limit their capacity in-game.
- One-Winged Angel: Chaos Lords have two possible fates: the strong-willed and successful leaders collect enough daemonic gifts from their patrons to eventually ascend as Daemon Princes themselves. The others' physical forms collapse from the mutations being bestowed upon them and revert to mindless, mewling Chaos Spawn.
- Reflected on the tabletop, Chaos Space Marines tend to get some really good bonuses from Chaos Marks. Berzerkers, for example, tend to be among the best assault units in the game, if not the best. Chaos Spawn however, are often seen as joke units.
- Paint the Town Red: A common result of Chaos attacks, and considered to be the only acceptable result by the worshipers of Khorne.
- During his days amongst humanity, Angron's pearly white armor got completely covered in red so often, it earned him the name "the Red Angel", that he often was told he should just paint it red. After the Heresy, the World Eaters did just that.
- The Pig Pen: Painting guides for Nurgle's Plague Marines involve tips on how to make shiny pustules and exposed organs, or achieve a proper filth-encrusted look through layers of washes and inks.
- Plaguemaster: The Death Guard Legion in a nutshell.
- Powered Armor: Festooned with spikes and trophies, and sometimes daemonically-possessed to boot.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: They have all the warrior pride of their loyalist counterparts, and worshipers of Khorne in general take it to massive extremes that even both Traitor and Loyalists are in awe of.
- Rage Against the Mentor: Horus versus the Emperor, underhanded Alpharius against honourable Roboute Gulliman of the Ultramarines, siege expert Perturabo of the Iron Warriors versus fortifications expert Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists. Abaddon the Despoiler also has a hatred of his mentor Horus, and has sought to one-up the original archtraitor ever since the Heresy.
- Rage Helm: Which is made scarier by giving it horns or tusks.
- Refusal of the Call: Angron, initially. The Emperor made him answer.
- The Remnant: The Black Legion in particular prides itself as the heirs to Horus' rebellion.
- The Chaos god Malal, representing Chaos' tendency to defeat itself, was quietly put on a shelf since Games Workshop was unsure who owned the copyright for him. The previous edition of the Chaos Codex, however, hints that he has not been entirely forgotten. Sadly, the current edition does not.
- The Fallen, members of the Dark Angels who rebelled against Lion El'Jonnson after the Horus Heresy. They were originally said to have fallen to Chaos, yet recent stories have shown that not all of them follow Chaos.
- Red Baron: The Traitor Legions, The Champions of Chaos for them as a group. Badass nicknames are all too common among various individual Chaos Space Marines.
- Sacred Scripture: The Book of Lorgar for the Word Bearers.
- Sense Loss Sadness: While the Slaaneshis may be the most famous, this is ultimately why Chaos Space Marines hate to become Chaos Dreadnoughts. Deprived of the sensations of battle, Chaos Dreadnoughts succumb to built-up psychosis (more than the average follower of Chaos will display) and attack both friend and foe in a blind rage. To keep them from destroying their Warband, most Chaos Dreadnoughts are restrained in chains (which have been blessed by the Chaos Gods to prevent them from being broken.) In battle, they are difficult to control, and will often charge the enemy regardless of orders, so eager are they to either vent their fury or be given the release they long for. For a Chaos Dreadnought to retain a sense of sanity is a major act of willpower on their part.
- Sex Is Violence: To the Emperor's Children. While they would take offense at the idea that they are as bloodthirsty as Khorne's followers, they do take an almost sexual joy in engaging in combat. To them, war is like a beautiful symphony, a heart-rending ballad, and a stirring validation of themselves, and see it as one of the highest pleasures that they can experience.
- Shapeshifter Weapon: Chaos Obliterators combine this with Arm Cannon in an interesting way.
- Space Pirates: Some of the Traitor Legions turn to piracy as a way to acquire vital supplies and/or cause mayhem.
- Spider Tank:
- Defilers are spider-like walking tanks crewed by a bound daemon.
- Soul Grinders are unbound daemons fused with Defiler bits.
- The Brass Scorpions of Khorne are mecha with a "sting" that can vaporize entire squads of infantry with a hail of bullets.
- Spikes of Villainy: The power armor of several legions is covered in these to one degree or another.
- Start of Darkness: The copious backstory provides explanations for why the Traitor Primarchs and other Chaos Space Marines went rebel, often stemming from a sympathetic Freudian Excuse or other Parental Issues:
- Horus was the first to be discovered by the Emperor, and enjoyed many years of being his only child. He remained the favored son afterward, but upon appointment to Warmaster he began to crack under the immense pressure, and was stung by the Emperor taking credit for Horus' hard-fought victories. Pride did the rest, along with some subtle pushing from his advisors and getting saved from a mortal wound using Chaos techniques.
- Angron was discovered in the midst of making a Last Stand after leading a Gladiator Revolt. Instead of coming to the rescue, the Emperor teleported Angron off the battlefield, leaving the Primarch to watch helplessly from orbit as his men were butchered. Angron never forgave him.
- Magnus the Red used his foresight to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery, but used forbidden magicks to send the message, inadvertantly damaging the Emperor's work on a Webway Gate. The Emperor refused to believe him and sicced the Space Wolves on the silver spires of Magnus' homeworld. Having been cast out despite the best intentions, Magnus sided with Horus.
- Mortarion joined Horus after being promised a new order in which the strong would rule the weak.
- Fulgrim was a perfectionist and aesthete who became corrupted by a daemon sword, allowing Horus to convince him that the Emperor was preventing humanity from reaching its full potential.
- Lorgar was one of the first to view the Emperor as a divine being, but was chastized after spending more time building cathedrals than conquering new worlds. The Chaos Gods provided a new focus for worship.
- Perturabo gained such a reputation for siegecraft that he fell victim to typecasting and had his legion regulated almost entirely to garrison duty, in some cases with a single squad of Iron Warriors expected to keep order over millions. To add insult to injury his homeworld revolted, leading the Primarch and his legion to vent their frustrations in an act of genocide that sealed their fate as murderous rebels.
- Konrad Curze was plagued by visions of a dark future and his death at the Emperor's orders. During the Great Crusade his Night Lords were used to terrify worlds into compliance, even as the Emperor rebuked them for their brutal tactics.
- Alpharius/Omegon was the last Primarch to be rediscovered and barely spent any time with the Emperor at all. There's considerable debate over if he even turned to Chaos at all, or what his motives in doing so might be.
- Ezekyle Abaddon saw Horus as a God and chose to follow him where ever he went. After succeeding Horus as Warmaster of Chaos, Abaddon now hates his former mentor.
- Kharn was an adviser to Angron and a calming influence on his Primarch. Ten thousand years of service to the Blood God made him the Omnicidal Maniac he is today.
- Azhek Ahriman cast the Rubric of Ahriman to prevent the spread of mutations within the Thousand Sons that had killed his brother. One botched spell later, he's exiled for destroying his fellow Sons' bodies and sealing their souls in their Powered Armour.
- Lufgt Huron was nearly killed when his rebellion failed and had to pledge the Astral Claws (later to become the Red Corsairs) to Chaos to survive. Now, Huron Blackheart takes pride in raiding the worlds he once defended.
- The exact detail of Luther's fall is unknown, but it seems that it was due to feeling betrayed by Lion El'Johnson as he was left on Caliban while the Lion got all the glory of the Great Crusade, and also due to corruption from some tomes of eldritch lore he read.
- If the details of Luther's fall is unknown, the mystery surrounding Cypher's fall and motives goes Up to Eleven.
- Tank Goodness: Every tank available to the Space Marines is similarly available to their traitorous brethren. In many cases, their already formidable potency has been enhanced by daemonic possession.
- The Iron Warriors in particular have a vehicular fetish.
- Time Abyss: Many of the Chaos Space Marines encountered today were present at the Siege of the Emperor's Palace ten thousand years ago.
- Tin Tyrant: It is hard to find a Chaos Lord who does not fit this trope, considering that Chaos Space Marines eventually grow fused into their armor, and that armor twists and grows more wicked as they rise in esteem of the Ruinous Powers. The ones with particularly long and "blessed" careers fit right up there. When they ascend to the position of Daemon Prince, it's no longer possible to tell where the armor ends and where the marine/daemon begins.
- The Unfettered: For all their superhuman power, Space Marines live in strict self-denial. When one goes renegade and gives in to his selfish, baser urges, the results can be terrifying.
- Villainous BSOD: Kharn the Betrayer has been in one for ten thousand years following a Loyalist's failed attempt to redeem him. His boundless rage and his penchant for killing fellow Traitor Marines is born from his inability to escape the truth that was forced upon him: that siding with Horus was wrong and that he could have turned away from Chaos of his own free will.
- Wicked Cultured: Pre-heresy, the Emperor's Children were taught that things like art, literature, poetry, and music represented the height of humanity's excellence, and to safeguard them was to safeguard what was best in humanity. Post-heresy, their ideas of what constitutes beauty, truth, and brilliance have become so warped that no one else would recognize what they appreciate as "culture".
- Willing Channeler: Possessed Marines, who allow daemons to inhabit their bodies so they might be more dangerous in combat. In contrast to some of the other methods of Demonic Possession in the franchisenote this is done out of mutual consent. The Chaos Marine gains frightful power by sharing their body with a daemon, and the daemon gets a mortal host to anchor it to the material plane, and both parties are the greater for it.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: "Sanity is for the weak!" Note that one of daemonkind's favorite tortures is to reverse the insanity of Chaos just long enough for the now-horrified follower to understand the true nature of what they've done.
- The Worf Effect: Not as often as the loyalists, but it's a given that an Imperial army's codex will depict them as beating Chaos Space Marines.
- You Have Failed Me: An actual rule for Abaddon in Battlefleet Gothic. If a friendly ship fails a command test, his flagship will fire upon it.
The Lost And The Damned
More where that came from.
Fear not Chaos, for it is our salvation! Praise the sun that brings the dawn of our final doom, for is not destruction simply creation reversed in slow motion?
The Imperium... is not a happy place
. It has been at war for the last ten thousand years, it has grown accustomed to think in apocalyptic terms: what is the value of life when faced with threat to their immortal souls? "We are at war for our very survival," goes another Imperial slogan, "No sacrifice is too great, no treachery too small." There are threats everywhere: cults fester in the hives, claiming dozens of planetary rulers in their membership; mutants and rogue psykers run for their lives from fanatical witchhunters; and humans in general hope for a better future.
As such, Chaos has no shortage of wretches for use as cannon fodder. The ranks of Chaos are vast: traitor regiments of Imperial Guard, renegade Admirals of the the Imperial Navy
, jaded nobility forming cults for thrills, abhuman and mutant underclasses living in the ghettos of Imperial cities, slave soldiers raised in hell worlds, hordes of reanimated zombies, fallen clerics of the Ecclesiarchy, entire Xeno races fallen to Chaos, vast mobs of peasants desperate for food, freedom fighters and revolutionaries who do not truly understand the price of their new, dark allies... they are all now the Lost and the Damned.
The Lost and the Damned is a curious army: despite being the most commonly encountered form of Chaos fought in the game's lore, players cannot actually field it in tournaments, nor do they have a fully-developed model range. It received an army list during the previous Eye of Terror campaign, but unfortunately this has not been updated for the most recent edition and it is classified as an unofficial army. The Lost and the Damned play similar to the Imperial Guard, and indeed feature traitorous guardsmen as troop choices, but lack the loyalists' volume of heavy weapons, armor, or even morale. To make up for this, mobs of low-cost mutants and other rabble can be used to soak up enemy fire or swamp troop formations, while other Chaos abominations can serve as assault troops. Overall, this makes them a gimped version of the Imperial Guard, but a characterful army nonetheless and a force of extreme (evil) underdogs.
Notable Lost and the Damned tropes include:
- Army of Thieves and Whores: And they take that as a compliment.
- Body Horror: Horrible mutants are a common sight in the Lost and the Damned.
- Badass Army: In the background, they can occasionally be the superior of the Imperial Guard in terms of discipline and power, under competent leadership and backed by the infinite power of Chaos...
- Redshirt Army - ...but more often than not they're just used as Canon Fodder by Chaos Space Marines (at least in most of the fiction).
- Blood Knight: Any Khorne worshipers in a Lost and the Damned army. In particular, he is a popular patron for military units which go rogue and fall to Chaos, or armies raised from Chaos worlds, of which a Lost and the Damned army is likely to be substantially in part.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Considering the penalties the Imperium holds for the heresy of consorting with the Ruinous Powers, let alone the danger of getting the Ruinous Powers' attention in the first place, and the well-publicized insanity and expendablity of the lower-down Chaos followers, it is understandable that some Chaos lords have difficulty recruiting willing followers. Hence, they resort to more forceful measures instead. Certain pieces of ritual sorcery and direct exposure to daemonic influence can have the habit of breaking the will of individuals, blasting their minds into awestruck simpletons highly suggestible to the whispers of the Warp. Cults will often try to arrange such sorcery to cause a substantial portion of the planet to rise up in Chaos' name even if they would not otherwise, and many Lost and the Damned armies are composed of such thralls.
- This is a plot point in the Ciaphas Cain novel The Last Stand. The book's Big Bad is an extremely powerful psyker who can overwrite your mind and turn you to Chaos just by looking at you. He even has a retinue of Sisters of Battle that he corrupted in this manner.
- Corrupt Church: One of their HQ choices is a heretic leader.
- Cult: Many Lost and the Damned are essentially Chaos cultists. In truth, the entire army list is an expansion of the Cultist choice available to Chaos Space Marines.
- Demoted to Extra: Lost and the Damned didn't get an army codex for Fifth edition - unless you buy the Imperial Armour books.
- Sixth Edition provided a Chaos cultist unit to represent them, but full-fledged cult armies are still Guard-based.
- While still without a dedicated Codex, Sixth Edition's allies rules allows units to be combined from the Imperial Guard, Chaos Space Marines, and Chaos Daemons army lists fairly easily. While an informal grouping, this does allow players to build Lost and the Damned armies in an ad-hoc fashion.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: One of the troops choices is a 'plague zombie horde' fielded in units of up to 50 making it possible to field up to 300 in a normal army. Given the right support they prove suprisingly effective.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Something many of these people should have remembered.
- Feel No Pain: Khorne's followers are too furious to notice, Nurgle's followers are too rotten and corrupt to notice, while Slaanesh's followers notice and enjoy it thoroughly.
- Gas Mask Mooks: Especially the Dark Vengeance cultists.
- Genre Blind: Considering the (well publicized) fact that Chaos uses human sacrifice for anything more complicated than boiling water, it's a wonder anybody is dumb enough to join them...which in turn gives you some idea of just how awful life in the Imperium can get.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Many of the Lost and the Damned were not always evil and had no idea what they were getting into until it was far too late.
- Large and in Charge: Another HQ leader choice is a Chaos Space Marine overseeing the rabble.
- Mad Scientist: The members of the Dark Mechanicus. Free of all the restrictions of the Adeptus Mechanicus, they innovate much more than their loyalist counterparts. However some of those restrictions include "Do not put Daemons in your tech" and "Do not make evil killer robots".
- Palette Swap: It is entirely possible (and often necessary in lieu of their own codex) to field a Lost and the Damned army of traitor guardsmen, using Imperial Guard rules, units, and equipment, different only in their allegiance to the Ruinous Powers. This is pretty reasonable in the setting, and offers a player some interesting options for converting and painting "profane" versions of normal Imperial Guard.
- Psycho Serum: Many of the followers of Slannesh in this army will be hopped up on some cocktail of combat and recreational drugs.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Nurglite Plague Zombies are a troops choice. With the right build, you can have an almost entirely zombie army with which to swamp the opposition.
- Any species with psychic abilities can be tainted by the Warp, including animals.
- Rogue Trader gives a rare example of an entire Eldar Craftworld consumed by Chaos: Lu'Nasad. Three "Aspect Shells" were formed from ruined Aspect Shrines, spitting out undead Dire Avengers, Warp Spiders, and Wraithguard.
- Another Craftworld is Kher-Ys, whose Avatar was corrupted by Slaanesh.