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The nature of souls in the Warhammer world
  • I'm guessing that a "soul" in Warhammer is a persons's thoughts and personality that may persist after death, but the way that this relates to the world is pretty vague.
    • The Warriors of Chaos make the Badass Boast that "No soul, however blackened or pure, shall know salvation!" or how they wish to march south "for that is where the harvest is: the souls required to slake the Chaos Gods' thirst". All fine and dandy; the potential to damn a soul regardless of it's nature is a time-honored tradition of grimdark settings everywhere, but how do they manage it? Do their blades absorb the thoughts and minds of their victims? Does claiming a soul require some sort of ritual? Do they pluck the ghosts from the air with cursed butterfly nets?
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    • The Beastmen Cygor seek to devour the souls of magic users... how, exactly? I can understand how an magical entity like a Chaos god or a demon can absorb a soul, but is the Cygor trying to bite into a ghost?
    • There is flavor text of how the Vampires shackle the souls of hapless victims into inanimate objects to do their bidding, provide fuel for unholy furnaces, or are otherwise the source of the vampire's dark power. Does this mean that a soul in Warhammer is a an individual's personality, a source of energy, a fount of magic, and some kind of food all at once?
    • Finally, am I overthinking this? Perhaps the proper response is to just shrug and enjoy the game...
    • As politely as one can be in text, it's true you are overthinking things. But since that isn't a helpful answer whatsoever, this troper will run through the above list and explain how souls get used in this setting. Souls in this setting are basically the animating force for a mortal or entity, which can be altered or otherwise damaged by engaging in Chaotic acts (worship of the Dark Gods, pacts with daemons, etc.) or getting involved in any magic.
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    • The Chaos Gods want souls, death in their name, and worship. These things invigorate them and make the Gods grow in power. They can get the last two from the Norscan tribes that live up in the Chaos Wastes, and they'll get the first from the infighting of their worshipers, as the Gods will get their followers' souls when they die. The reason why the Gods can't claim the southerners' souls is due to the influence of the God of Death, Morr. He's very nice as gods go, and provides his worshipers with an afterlife where the Dark Gods can't reach them. The Empire is devout to a collection of gods and Morr is among their number. So unless their followers invade and kill the southerners in a variety of ways, be it in combat or through dark rituals (think sacrificial altars), the Chaos Gods can't get what they want.
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    • Cygors are a Beastman oddity that interferes with magic just by its presence. All of them have only one eye from birth, and this eye can only see the Winds of Magic and those who use it. They crave the souls of wizards, and are prodded into chasing after specific ones by the Chaos Gods or Bray shamans. And yes, they are trying eat the wizard's soul by eating the body. This troper is not sure if it works, but the Cygors are all mad from seeing the world wreathed in the Winds of Magic from birth, as they can't perceive the material realm.
    • The Vampires are a nasty bunch that practice necromancy. This magic is focused on raising the dead and anchoring it to the mortal realm. Necromancy also includes the binding of souls by necessity, as they're needed to animate the various undead monsters that the Vampires rely on. And to answer your question, yes, souls are everything you described all at once.

The disproportionate power of the Chaos Pantheon

  • In the Warhammer World, the gods are empowered by the devotion of their followers and the number of deeds preformed which relate to their respective domains (i.e. violence for Khorne, decadence for Slaanesh. Yet the only region to openly worship Chaos is Norsca, and through a combination of Chaos terraforming, inhospitable terrain, lack of fertility, and constant infighting, the whole continent is sparsely populated. The Empire meanwhile is (relatively) thriving, and has an entire well developed pantheon of their own. Even so, we don't see any greater demons of Sigmar, Grimnir, or Asuryan, and their presence is not as keenly felt. The world may be tainted by the warp, but Sigmar and company have the home field advantage, and a greater majority of devotees and deeds backing them up. How do the Chaos Gods not just compete, but outright dominate the local gods on their home turf?
    • Because the Chaos Gods aren't empowered only by direct worship, they are empowered by the expression of the emotions they are associated with in general. Direct worship is helpful, but an Imperial halberdier who spills blood on the battlefield empowers Khorne with his fighting just as much as a Norse warrior doing the same does. Also, despite the inhospitably of Norsca, it's still just as big as the Reik Basin is and the Norse have adapted to living there over the course of 2500 years, primarily as a result of having evolved under the shadow of the Umbra Chaotica. In addition to that, Norsca isn't the only place where the Chaos Gods are traditionally worshipped. The Eastern Steppes for example are much, much, much larger than Norsca and the Empire put together and is home to the Kurgan tribes who are just as corrupted by Chaos as the Norsemen are and who outnumber pretty much every other race in the Old World barring the Greenskins, Skaven and Beastmen by several magnitudes.
    • Oh yes, and that's not even getting into the Beastmen who also worship Chaos through various tribal guises and who are absolutely endemic from the bottom of the Warhammer World to its top.
    • Also, that's not even getting into the backstory speculation that Ulric, Sigmar, Morr, Khaine, Taal and Mannaan are all unknowing aspects of the Four Powers. Mannaan even has a canon Chaotic equivalent in the North named Mermedus.
    • Finally, it should be noted that the Norscans just take their gods much more seriously than anybody else in the setting does (kinda impossible not to do, since the evidence for their existence is literally all around them in their home turf), so their veneration of the Dark Gods tends to be much more intense than that of your average Imperial/Dwarf/Elf. That's not to say that Dwarfs and Elves aren't a deeply religious people, but even the most ardent priest really can't match the religious convictions of a guy who's gods gave him a bone-sword for a hand.
    • As an addendum it's also worth noting that the Chaos gods exist on multiple worlds through the Warp (possibly including the 40K universe but that's a can of Daemon snakes best left unopened). Really it's impressive that the other gods can fight back as well as they do.

Khorne's relations with Gork (or Mork?)

If the very act of violence can empower Khorne, then the Orcs must bring tears of joy to his eyes; to say that the every last greenskin is single-mindedly obsessed with bloodshed would be an understatement. Yet all their devotion and energy seem to be siphoned off toward Gork/Mork, and Khorne himself isn't even acknowledged throughout in Orcish culture (and vice versa). Khorne and Gork don't seem to be the same being, as Khorne is never depicted with a twin, and G. and M. are almost inseparable. Heck, Gork shouldn't even exist with Khorne snatching up all the warp energy generated through violence. Why are two factions so closely linked through ideology and agenda so estranged in this setting?

  • That's because the Orc's bloodlust does feed Khorne to an extent. However, the nature of the Orcish divinities and the souls of the Orcs means that they're squarely separate from the deities of the Realm of Chaos (the latter category also includes human, elven and dwarf deities) which in turn means that most of their rage and hate goes to Gork and Mork. Also, this can presumably work for the Empire; a Warrior Priest's killing can go to empower Sigmar or Ulric if he's absolutely intense in his belief that he is killing in the names of those gods. Orcs are single-mindedly convinced of the same, simply because they can't even conceive that their actions could empower anything other than their own gods.
    • Alright, but is there any specified reason why Orcish souls and divinities are separated from Chaos? If sapient emotion is what feeds\forms Chaos, I wouldn't think that a physical barrier like genetics could exclude you (especially since Chaos has already jumped the species barrier with humans, elves, and dwarfs).
    • As noted below Orcish psychology just doesn't lend itself to Chaos corruption.
  • Also, you don't need to acknowledge the Chaos Gods for them to benefit from your actions.
  • As a side point Orcs are, somewhat perversely, the sentient species least likely to fall to Chaos. After all people usually fall to Chaos because they want things they can't have or because they give in to despair. Orcs just want to fight their whole lives (which they already do) and don't really have the capacity for despair. So while Orcish violence might feed Khorne (as all violence does, there's a reason why the most straight forward Chaos god is more powerful than the schemers) they are highly unlikely to start worshipping him. Hell, they barely care about worshipping their own gods in any formal fashion; they can't even remember which is which.
    • Well, you can turn to the Chaos Gods to worship them out of despair or desire; but alternately you could also be born to it as the Norscans are. But that's not really relevant to the Orcs anyway.
"I'm touched by the Eagle and the Crow."
I'm sorry but isn't that a bit self-contradictory? Isn't that like going to Disneyland and ordering a Bugs Bunny outfit? For those not in the know; 'the Eagle' and 'the Crow' are Norscan aspects of Tzeentch and Nurgle respectively. Two Gods who are diametric opposites of each other (the Norse associate the Chaos Gods with various totemic beasts: wolves for Khorne, crows for Nurgle, eagles and ravens for Tzeentch and snakes for Slaanesh). How can the Norse Lords claim to be marked by both of them at the same time?
  • Gods do not by default like each others, but the Everchosen is little bit different. All Chaos Gods unite behind Everchosen, so they basically get backing from all Chaos Gods, just to mess with the non-believers.
  • The Chaos Gods do hate each other but they hate the rest of existence even more. They get distracted by their internal rivalries most of the time but every now and again they briefly get over that to unify and try to end the world. And that's what's happening in the timeframe of the game.

Why are the Chaos Gods such jerks?

  • If the Chaos entities are formed and sustained by deeds, belief, and emotion, then why aren't they more rounded characters? I get that the Warhammer world is not the best place to live (it's practically a trope codifier for the Crapsack World) but it's not like brotherhood, compassion and love are non-existent, and positive emotions are even more potent when you can't take them for granted. Furthermore, the Gods don't strike me as the type to who would pass up free power when it comes their way, be it positive or negative. Given their nature they may not even be capable of rejecting such empowerment. Yet in every depiction, the Chaos Gods are capricious and pitiless at best, more often cruel and depraved, and sometimes revel in truly despicable acts simply for amusement or spite. And if it's not he "Big Four" who embody the positive ideals, then where are the Chaos Gods of justice, loyalty, and honor?
    • Essentially, Crapsack World. To let the Emperor and Magnus explain [1], the Chaos Gods ARE also gods of different good things (Khorne for example is nominally the Chaos God of honor and justice as well), it's just, well... Crapsack World and they're still batshit insane.
    • The Basic Premise of Chaos is that people are at their very core, terribly evil beings, thus Chaos is itself, terribly evil and would gladly rape a child to death for its amusement as it embodies all the sick and twisted parts of ourselves that we keep restrained in polite society. Chaos is horrific because the core assumption of Warhammer is that people are horrible and would rather kill each other than reason things out (otherwise you wouldn't get eternal war that solves nothing in the long run). Similarly, as far as many decades of canon have weighed in on the manner, it seems that positive emotions are just much weaker in terms of warp presence than negative ones in Warhammer. Rage and hate will always conquer joy and love in terms of the magical energy they feed back into the realm of chaos.
    • OP here; I know I'm answering my own question, but the above answers of provided some insight. In our own world, the 7 deadly sins are all normally wholesome qualities taken to unhealthy extremes note . The Chaos Gods don't show off their positive traits as oftennote  because they are, quite literally, the ultimate expression of their respective Aspects and extremism is hard wired into the core of their being.
      • Basically, yes. Khorne may also represent courage, honor, etc., but the rage is so much more primal and, as you say, is the extremist version that he can't help but be driven by. On the subject of Chaos gods of positive aspects however these do exist, sort of. They're called Sigmar, Ulric, Morr etc. The usual position in the canon is that, while very different in nature, all gods are warp entities. As someone like Sigmar is less broad in his scope (being an incarnation of the Empire and its spirit rather than a whole lot of primal concepts like the Chaos gods) he is not driven to such extremes and can remain a (reasonably) nice guy. The downside is that he also receives less power.

Dwarf on Dwarf grudges.

The dwarfs make it abundantly clear that every insult, however slight, can and will be exacted no matter the cost. They even tally them up in a sacred tome called the Dammaz Kron. But what happens when two dwarven factions evoke multiple grudges against one another? note  Is the rival clan's grudge declared void somehow, or does the high king enter the loser's grudge into the Dammaz Kron and demand vengeance against himself?

  • In the lore it states that every Karak has their own personal book of grudges.
    • Indeed, as does every clan. And the hold/clan's books are often filled with grudges against other clans and holds who often have the exact same incident in their books with them portrayed as the injured party. There's a reason why the dwarfs have been less effective than humans recently. However the difference is that grudges against other dwarfs do not always have to result in warfare. The grudge can be settled with payment or the ceding of land or so forth. This often takes a while to arrange, what with dwarven stubbornness being what it is, but it can happen. Obviously this isn't an option with greenskins and such, though they do sometimes manage to arrange this sort of thing with humans.

Elven Souls and Slannesh in Warhammer Fantasy
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Eldar souls are claimed by Slannesh (the chaos god of depravity) when they die unless they're caught by a soul-stone. For this reason, every Eldar carries a soul stone with them at all times, and go to great lengths to recover the stones of the fallen. The elves in Warhammer Fantasy don't seem to have anything like soul-stones, but still seem to have some relationship with Slannesh; In the technologies panel, it's stated that the Elven goddess of the underworld is constantly trying to recapture elven souls lost to the dark god, and Orian will sometimes promise a hostile Wood-Elven faction that he will "Leave [their] body beyond the way-stones for Slannesh!" Does this mean that every casualty that falls beyond Athel-Loren is doomed to an eternity of torment? It would certainly put a damper on any hard won victory.
    • No, Warhammer Elves souls are not doomed to be grabbed by Slannesh; the Elves never did anything as foolish as the Eldar and, unlike the Eldar, the gods of the Elves are very much alive, as proven by the fact that Kurnos and Isha show up sort-of in person, since Orion and Ariel are their avatars. Most Elven souls go to their own gods on death, just as most Dwarves join their ancestors and most Humans reach Morr's kingdom. However the Elven race does have a connection with Slaanesh. Many Dark Elves worship It and thus doom themselves. More relevant to you question there is a part of Athel Loren, called the Dreaming Wood, which is partially corrupted by Slaanesh. Being in Athel Loren a combination of waystones blocking its influence and the forest itself resisting It means the influence of this is contained but the problem remains. Some Wood Elves have even gone in there to recover relics and escaped uncorrupted but it tends to go the other way and is leaving them beyond those waystones, not the ones at the edge of the forest, that Orion is using as a threat. So basically no, most Elven souls do not go to Slaanesh but more do than to any other Chaos god so they are particularly bothered by It.
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