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The Tome of Decay is the sourcebook for Nurgle in Fantasy Flight Games' Black Crusade role-playing game.
"Through his blessings, death itself is stayed. In his embrace, there is only affection and love. Let us share his munificence with those still ignorant of our cherished Grandfather, lest they perish before knowing his generosity."
— Pox Magister Effluvias Plo, before the Putrefaction of Hive Kappax
To live is to eventually die, the inescapable fact of all mortal life. Almost all of those aware of their lives fear and dread this final end, which echoes the collapse of all order into disorder through remorseless entropy. Many strive to avoid such a fate, and are willing to perform any deed or suffer any woe to keep death from their door, if only for one more day. This is perhaps futile, but can attract the attention of one who represents both ruin and the struggle against it that typifies all life. For wherever there is life, there is decay - and where there is decay, there is Nurgle.
Nurgle represents this seemingly contradictory state of both loathsome decay and energetic struggle. Despite embodying entropy and the foulest of appearances, he and his Daemons are filled with vitality. All enthusiastically offer their gifts of ruinous diseases to both the lowly and powerful, for Nurgle embraces all to his loathsome bosom. They delight in sharing these blessings to mortals, offering escape from the horrors of death but at the price of utter corruption to their flesh. None are beneath his notice, from the smallest of underhive hovels to the most lordly of sectors. Each new disease, each new mortal brought low, is carefully recorded in a never-ending tally of his loving beneficence. Nurgle exists everywhere, for all living things erode and fail, and with each fall his power grows.
The Tome of Decay is the fourth and last book examining the dark secrets and foul plots of the four Chaos powers and their role in the Black Crusade roleplaying game. It is devoted to Nurgle, the Lord of Pestilence, and those who follow him. He is the god of blight and decay, yet also one of boundless energy. In many ways, Nurgle personifies a struggle against death, as despite the terrible diseased and decayed state of his followers, they resist actual death and injury to unnatural degrees. Heretics also learn more of the other fate that can await them, should they prove worthy: Apotheosis to the elevated rank of immortal Daemon Prince. With such power comes the need for even greater power, and Heretics can learn how to launch Black Crusades to burn the galaxy and depose the False Emperor.
This chapter covers the Grandfather of Decay, the Master of Plagues. From his pestilent garden within the Warp, where carrion-flowers sway in the polluted breezes and horrid fungi sprout from rotting corpses, he lovingly concocts new afflictions. His Daemons emerge forth to bring his gifts to mortals across the galaxy, for Nurgle is a generous god who rejoices with each successful plague. Billions fall to his carefully-wrought endeavours, even as the truly appreciative turn to him seeking power through his gifts. His apostles are often shambles of putrefying flesh and dripping sores, but with unnaturally resilient bodies that vigorously resists final death even as they bring it to those who reject Nurgle's offerings. Just as all life falls to decay, so do those who oppose the Lord of Flies fall to his children.
In this chapter, Heretics can find six new Archetypes worthy of the Lord of Ruin: Plague Marine, Veteran of the Long War, Warpsmith, Writhing World Sorcerer-King, Death Priest of Mire, and Plaguemeister. They can also discover new corrupted blessings from Grandfather Nurgle, as well as new rules for Daemonic Possession, Daemon Engines, and powerful mutations suitable for newly ascended Daemon Princes.
Here players find new rules for Apotheosis to Daemonhood, allowing them to continue playing their characters after reaching the highest levels of Infamy and Corruption as the mightiest of their god's followers. They can also lead Black Crusades against the hated Imperium. This chapter also contains new details on pestilent worlds within the Screaming Vortex that the Heretics might conquer or ally with in their quest for power, such as the worm-ridden Writhing World, foetid Mire, and murderous Guelph.
This adventure takes the Heretics through the challenge of gaining access to the Lower Vortex, and a mind-bending confrontation with the incomprehensible forces within. Calling on the events from the previous three Tomes, it allows Game Masters to run all four adventures as a complete campaign. If the Heretics survive, they have the chance to rise to Daemonhood, as well as an opportunity to reach the Ascendent Spiral and rise out of the Screaming Vortex.
"Rejoice, children! Your Father brings you hope in your darkest hour. Let those who would accept his gifts come forth and receive the blessings of the Lord of Decay. Cast away your crutches and doubts. Put aside beliefs in a false master who fills your hearts with lies, sorrow, and regrets. Embrace instead the glorious gifts of rot and decay. Revel in the beauty of putrescence and be reborn a living symbol of perseverance."
— The Daemon Prince Gal'furth, addressing the diseased inhabitants of the conquered city of Kulis VII
In every corner of a cold and uncaring galaxy, billions die each day. Wars consume entire systems, drowning civilisations in the blood of their own people. Conceit and avarice drain populations of their riches and their futures for the benefit of a few. Broken promises, deceit, and betrayal topple regimes, sacrificing the lives of those who served them so that the twisted plans of new rulers can come to fruition. In the wake of such tragedies, suffering, and misery, pain and disease touch the minds and bodies of the survivors and cause them to despair. These are the truths of existence in the mortal realm, and the breath that speaks these truths is the same breath that gives life to the malevolent inhabitants of another domain - the Realm of Chaos.
Of all the malign influences foisted upon the mortal realm, only one can be said to genuinely carry with it that singular commodity unlike any other in a bleak and forlorn existence - hope. Only the gifts of Nurgle, the Plaguefather, offer their recipients the chance to become greater in the face of unavoidable diminishment. Through Nurgle and his rancid visitations, a soul can find renewed purpose and the will to raise its face to the heavens, stare back into the void of dissolution and reclaim a life worth living. Endings are new beginnings, and Nurgle offers both in abundance.
Final Entry, Journal of Confessor Alehir Ghent
There, carved into the wood of the pew, in the chapel of the Emperor's creed it was. The mark. Three endless circles. Death. Decay. Rebirth. Horrid, inescapable, eternal. The wretched truth of existence laid bare in three small circles, cut into rotting wood with rusted nail.
Of the acolytes who saw it, only I persist still. The others struggled against the spreading rot, and they succumbed. Oh, our master ordered the church burned, the city cleansed, the world quarantined, but it was far too late. The rot had taken hold, and now all that remained was to accept it. Only I saw that reality, that inevitability. The others died, choked by flies, their flesh sloughing from their bodies, their bones made the meal of worms.
But I persisted. And then I saw the path. The symbol on that now-dead world showed me. To the Vortex it beckons...
"Entropy is all-consuming, fed by all struggles against it. Thus, even to hope is to despair. So despair, and in your desperation, find purpose."
— Zlans the Wracked, Speaker of Rot
There is nothing in all of creation that does not decay. No civilisation forever endures the machinations of its rivals. No king survives the plotting of his enemies. No life avoids decay. Not even the False Emperor, with all his deluded sacrificial supplicants and thousands of attending Tech-Priests, will elude the ravages of time and his eventual demise. The question is what happens when the end comes. Nurgle is the answer to that question.
Each inevitable ending brings with it an equally certain start to something new. When a Catachan Spiker traps and consumes a careless Guardsman, the life of the soldier ends and a new Spiker grows. Rotted flesh that sloughs from the arm of a diseased underhive ganger is left in the sewers to feed the plague-rats that scrape out a miserable existence in those dark, maggot-filled tunnels. Even a Rogue Trader whose contract is terminated must seek out new avenues for commerce. There is no ending that does not result in the hope of renewal.
It is because of this inescapable fact of life that Nurgle is known to many as the Lord of All, for there is nothing that transpires anywhere that does not serve his ends. Truly there is no being, no action or outcome that does not further Nurgle's aims. In truth, Nurgle could simply sit back and wait for the universe to unfold according to his design. He is not content, however, to wait. He has too much energy, too much enthusiasm for his work to just sit idly by. From deep within his manse he brews contagion, both physical plagues and virulent ideas, that he and his followers then unleash upon the mortal realm. He welcomes the resistance of those who attempt to deny him, for each time they erect defences against his advances, he learns new ways to circumvent the opposition. Each cure breeds a newer, more powerful disease. Every victory for his enemies is pyrrhic, coming at a cost so great that it leaves the defenders open to the tender predations of Nurgle's ever-evolving poxes. This is the nature of Nurgle. Resistance is self-defeating. Change is a delay, nothing more. Running and denial only buy time at a cost of suffering, and time has no meaning in the Realm of Chaos.
Records of the many races of the galaxy often say that Nurgle corrupts, that he brings ruination to all. To a small extent, they are correct, but their evaluation is narrow in scope and fails to grasp the greater truth. The more primitive races have a much better understanding of the undeniable nature of the Master of Certitude. Life is struggle and erosion. To face the dawn is to await the dusk and, in turn, to endure the night. On a grander scale, if a being had the luxury of observing the rise and fall of empires, of seeing the birth of suns and their eventual collapse into swirling masses of cosmic destruction, the observer would surely recognise the rightful place of Nurgle as the Shepherd of Destiny.
It is only Nurgle's fondness for rot, for disease and decay, that prevents more from accepting his truth. It can be difficult for a mortal to accept that the rotting of a limb or the expulsion of his entrails is a blessing. Yet it is so. Even the decrepit Emperor of Man, ensconced in his Golden Throne, sits as a testament to Nurgle's greatness. Each day a thousand souls give their fleshy bodies and immortal souls to this false idol in a vain attempt to preserve his rotting presence. It is a losing battle, but the ammunition spent in the conflict, the human bodies sent to their wasted doom, does indeed serve a purpose - Nurgle's purpose. Each mortal that falls begets new life and new hope. This is the trade in which Nurgle traffics. Flesh is the coin of his realm, and hopes are the interest he pays on the investments made. Truly, Nurgle embodies the nature of all things, and thus earns his honorific as the Lord of All.
Life within the Screaming Vortex, or for that matter anywhere else in the unfeeling galaxy, is harsh, miserable, and full of pain and suffering. Service to an uncaring God-Emperor or an eldritch and absent cosmic deity is ultimately empty and devoid of meaning. Men live and die, and for what? For others to stand on their graves and proselytise? Where is the reward in that? For those who accept the boundless gifts of the Father of Plagues, everlasting hope is the ultimate reward.
Decay is unavoidable. Boltguns rust, the shells they fire are spent, and the fingers that pull their triggers wear down with the passing of time and repeated action. Over the course of their lives, mortals sustain injuries, become infected, sicken and succumb to their wounds or, more simply, to age. It is impossible to escape deterioration, and yet people try. The struggle to forestall decay moves people to action. It motivates them to greatness. It gives them hope that better times lie ahead; endless possibilities in a universe that seemingly knows only certain crushing doom. It is the Plague Lord that brings light to the darkness. It is Nurgle that gives weak mortals the strength to resist the lies of the Ecclesiarchy and others. It is the Embracing Grandfather who encourages his followers to defy the doom of mortal corruption, and instead use it as a source of strength and inspiration.
In the market squares of backward planets and in the drone-filled cathedrals of the chapters of the Adeptus Ministorum, preachers spew their lies upon an unsuspecting and dim-witted flock. They warn against corruption of the soul and filth of the spirit. They admonish their listeners that to turn from their faith is to join the ranks of the lost and the damned. Their words cannot encompass the horror of the truth.
All Chaos Gods have a dual nature, but Nurgle, more so than any of the other Ruinous Powers, understands that the supposedly separate elements of his essence actually work together in a self-sustaining cycle rather than standing apart from one another as different explanations of the same thing. Khorne, for instance, is a god of bloodshed and killing - of utter carnage - and also one of martial pride and a sense of accomplishment or betterment. These two halves can be seen as two sides of the same coin, but the coin must be flipped to view and appreciate its obverse. But this coin is illusory; there is no divide between its two faces, no beginning and no end. The coin is nought but a feeble mortal metaphor for the truth of Nurgle's influence. On one "side" there is decay, death, and disease. What would be on the other side of this coin is in fact part and parcel of the first side. Hope, rebirth, resistance, and growth all arise directly from facing death and decay. The Seers of the Eldar Craftworlds and the Inquisitors of the Imperium will never share this truth with the weak-minded fools who drink in their lies like mother's milk.
For a Lord of Chaos, Nurgle's actions seem oddly harmonious - caring even. To receive the blessings of Nurgle, all one has to do is want to live and be willing to do whatever it takes to cling to life. All else follows naturally from there. Worshipers of Khorne must push toward ever-greater levels of destruction and carnage despite the risks to themselves or even to their allies. Those who devote themselves to Tzeentch must deny their lot in life and seek to change everything, never appreciating what they have. Followers of Slaanesh seek to escape reality in a blur of sensation and self-delusion. All that is required to feel the caring touch of Nurgle is to see life for what it is and to want to make the most of it. All that is needed is faith in the future provided by Nurgle.
While an invitation to stroll down Nurgle's pox-strewn path should be welcomed as an honour, not all see it as such. Wasting away under the seemingly malign influence of a skin-eating disease is painful to the afflicted and often repulsive to those around him. When a child's flesh turns a sickly pale green and her eyes glaze over and become dull, milky, unseeing orbs, her father comes to know that he is powerless to prevent her suffering. Seeing a friend's battlefield wound blacken and ooze blood-tinged pus, the stench of its rot choking the air of a barracks, is a reminder of the frailty of all mortals.
If this decay comes at the hands of Nurgle, via the thrust of a rusted blade or the unleashing of a plague, many will curse his name. For those who are unable to see that this pain and suffering lifts the veil that hides the truth of life and death from them, such moments and visions are terrifying. Some blessed mortals, however, are able to look beyond the putrescence and see the decay for what it is - a gift from the Lord of All.
This gift, regardless of the form it takes, opens eyes even as it liquefies them. It simultaneously atrophies the leg muscles of its recipients and gives them the strength to march toward a greater purpose. It is Nurgle's great ambition to speed this universe toward its end by eroding the foundations of reality much as a disease can erode the spirits and bodies of those infected. Through his careful and ceaseless experimentations, begun within his wondrous Garden and then unleashed throughout the galaxy, the pillars that support the framework of existence are slowly but surely weakened. There will come a time when they collapse entirely and the universe will begin a massive transformation. The old ways will be swept aside like a troublesome fly. All that was will cease to be, and from the rotted ruins a new and glorious reality will emerge - one dominated by Nurgle and his beloved children. Those who walk with Nurgle and aid him in bringing about the Great Corruption, as Nurgle calls it, do so with joy in their hearts. They know that Nurgle's victory is assured and that when all things come to an end and life begins anew, they will have helped make it so. This makes theirs a life worth living, despite, and because of, the gifts of their caring master.
"I gazed at his magnificence, my vision completely filled with his glorious girth. All around me was flesh and smiling flies. Within his bulk I spied lesser minions, suckling on his leaking entrails. At his feet pools of pus and other bodily fluids gathered, in which his children splashed and played with glee. It was a blessing to behold such glory and joy. It was with great sadness that I awoke into a world filled with Imperial dogma and admonitions. I knew then the path I must walk."
— Taken from the Journal of Ulbirna
When it comes to understanding the glory that is the physical form of the Plaguefather, those who are privileged enough to be able to read about him in the pages of secret texts hidden away in the Black Library are on equal footing with the primitive warriors gathered around sooty bonfires within the wandering Kill Kroozer battleships of marauding Orks. Nurgle, like other Chaos gods, does not have one single form that can be recorded, shared, analysed, or conceived. His is majesty unfathomable by the mortal mind.
Still, if one were to delve into the comparative histories and galaxy-wide myths associated with Nurgle, certain commonalities would present themselves. Whereas other gods within the Realm of Chaos are associated with dozens, even hundreds, of depictions, there are far fewer variations on the appearance of the Plaguefather. The legends and tales universally describe Nurgle in unflattering terms. He is said to be a vast mound of rotting flesh, with open sores and gaping wounds in which his lesser minions cavort and frolic. Weeping pustules ooze filth and his bowels constantly issue putrescent waste. Beneath his fingernails, maggots and other carrion feeders lay eggs around which develop cysts that periodically burst open and spew their rancid payloads. Perhaps the tales are correct. Perhaps they are not. It does not matter, though, because whatever it is dwells within the mansion at the centre of the Garden, there can be no denying that the creations of this being are both foul and wondrous, and the joy with which he goes about his work is infectious.
Even if none of the insanity-inspired stories of Nurgle can be counted on to be perfectly accurate, the similarities among them are too hard to dismiss, and those similarities extend beyond the gut-churning descriptions of his open sores, exposed intestines, and stupefying stench. Rot and decay are part of Nurgle's nature, but so it seems are jocularity and enthusiasm. Such is the paradox of Nurgle.
Indeed, it may be his boundless energy, the passion with which he delights in his work, and his irrepressible joviality that erodes the minds of so many who contemplate his existence. It seems impossible to believe that a rotund, foetid purveyor of plague and ruin could simultaneously positively beam with mirth and have such concern for the billions of souls upon whom he has inflicted his wracking and hideous poxes. To bend the mind toward the task of reconciling such foulness with such frivolity is to invite madness. Those who are able to do so without slipping into lunacy are fortunate. They will have taken an important step toward understanding the Great Corruption that is to come. Unlike their less "enlightened" brethren, they alone will recognise that the Plaguelord is a tireless gardener of rot, who is always trying to prepare the slowly eroding realm they call reality for its grotesque apotheosis.
Ten-thousand long years I have had to reflect on the truths of the Plaguefather, and these truths the god of pestilence has seen fit to grant to me as gifts of his dark esteem:
— Agoris the Foul, Apostle of the Ruinous ones
- All rots. Bodies, Minds, souls, ideals. These things decay, and as they do, their bearers approach the state of wracked enlightenment in the Lord of All's embrace.
- To struggle is to succumb, for in struggle one feeds the pace of entropy. Therefore, those who fight against the inevitable are already vanquished.
- Death cannot be cheated, decay cannot be forestalled. In the end, the plague god welcomes all to his realm. Therefore, only those who walk into his arms willingly, in awe of his decrepit glory, can claim power eternal.
"In this universe, all rots. In this universe, one must rot to survive."
— Excerpt from The Enlightenment of Korvede Kalthrax, Harbinger of Carrion
The four great Gods of Chaos can each claim dominion over many of the inhabited regions of the galaxy. These holdings can be as small as the camp of a tribal cult on a backward primitive planet or as large as entire worlds or systems. None of these domains, even if added all together, can compare to the size, scope and spectacle of the abode each of the Ruinous Powers claims for himself within the Realm of Chaos. In truth, a meaningful comparison of the sizes of the mortal realms to those in the Immaterium is impossible. Concepts such as time and space have nearly no relevance in the Warp. The Realm of Chaos is made of thoughts and dreams and reacts to the conflicts and emotions of those who pass through it. As the most powerful entities within the Warp, the Gods of Chaos exert the most control over the shape of this dark dimension. These gods have, therefore, created kingdoms that are not so much regions with borders as they are manifested states of being, and as such they are apt to expand or diminish according to the waxing and waning of the power of their lord. It is only when realms meet at what a mortal mind might loosely conceive of as their borders that any semblance of boundaries can be considered.
Khorne, Slaanesh, Tzeentch, and Nurgle each exert their particular influence over the space around them through their will, their actions, and the deeds of their minions. This results in vastly different domains for each god. The Blood God is grounded in war and conflict of all kinds, and thus his realm has many battlefields upon which his minions constantly fight. Slaanesh's personal paradise is full of seductive wonders and bewildering beauty, where wanderers face temptation around each bend in the road. Tzeentch's domain is a chaotic jumble of impossible structures, mazes, and constantly shifting landscapes. Nurgle has a garden.
It is no ordinary garden. Perhaps it is not a garden at all, but the mortal minds that contemplate the manifested will of the Lord of Decay must attempt to make some sort of sense out of what they have seen or heard about in whispered tales. They must place it in some sort of relateable context that they can consider without going insane. The same tomes and other forbidden texts that have attempted to describe the lord of the land himself have, for the most part, agreed that the idea of Nurgle's realm being a perverse, deadly, and yet strangely beautiful garden best puts Chaos into terms they can fathom.
Like a normal garden, the domain of Nurgle is home to a bewildering array of flora and fauna, all interconnected and supporting the whole. Beds of bright blue Shovelpetal plants dig themselves up and leave the dirt in which they grew so that Plaguebearers can plant new Skullseeds in the rich loam. As the Skullseeds grow and blossom, they attract bounding, stomping, over-exuberant Beasts that mistake their fruits for the heads of new playthings. This scatters their matter violently into the air where it comes to rest on the wings of the ubiquitous flies. Slowed by the sticky pulp of the splattered plants, these insects become easy prey for other flying creatures that ingest them as they soar through the rot-choked air. Unbeknownst to the predators, bloatflies are carriers of many of Nurgle's experimental diseases and other creations. With their innards thus infected, these predators sicken, vomiting the contents of their guts all across the garden as they fly about and eventually exploding in showers of life-giving flesh and blood. This bounty of mutated and mutilated tissue falls into new areas of the Garden beneath, decaying into compost and starting the cycle of life and death anew.
Though the Garden of Nurgle does share certain commonalities with gardens and jungles on planets in realspace, it still is not a worldly garden in any sane sense. A visitor in this bizarre and perilous realm doesn't walk from this place to that. He experiences what needs to be experienced. Even the Daemons that tend the Garden are not really what might be thought of as a work force that arrives at a place, does a job, and then leaves for other regions. These Daemons are a part the experience of the garden itself. This is especially troublesome for the Plaguebearers, whose metamorphosed minds were once mortal, and still strive to impose a modicum of reality in their unreal existences. Still, even the Plaguebearers accept their place in the Garden and spend their eternity enjoying all it offers in their own way.
The Plaguefather affords all his children many ways to explore and appreciate his realm, and even to become a part of it. Though he is a god of Chaos, he also has a need to create order, to monitor his creations, and to control his experiments. A visitor to Nurgle's realm would find a dizzying amount of diversity of experiences. Here he might find trees made of nothing but the flesh of Eldar, constantly oozing the tears of a dying race. There he might find fields where tongues sprout up from the earth, each one blistered by the malign influence of a different infection. There is no telling what wonders await around each bend in the paths that stretch and wind throughout the Garden, but any who encounter them will surely have their sanity tested and questioned, should they survive to share the tale.
The Garden of Nurgle is an ever-changing realm, shifting according to the needs and whims of its master. Many areas exist only temporarily, taking shape to allow him to indulge a particular fancy or to be granted to an especially accomplished Great Unclean One as a reward. Even so, the legends hint that some aspects of this foetid domain remain relatively constant. Nurgle has need of fields in which to plant his crops of blighted herbs, pits to hold the bodies upon which he conducts his experiments, and, most important of all, a gigantic and decrepit mansion in which to store his creations, brew his legendary contagions, entertain guests, and plot the course of the Great Corruption.
There is a house of decay at the centre of Nurgle's Garden. Its wracked and twisted structure creaks and groans under the influence of baleful toxic winds. Shutters cling just barely to window frames only half filled with broken panes of filth-covered glass. Sewage drains spill forth beetles, maggots, and twisted centipedes with only tongues for their bodies and human fingers for legs. Paint continually cracks and peels away from the wood beneath, yet the house never loses it grey-green hue. Along the roof, hundreds of chimneys billow out dark clouds that, upon close inspection, are composed of millions of floating, buzzing flies.
All around this house, trees made of bone bear fruit that rots even as it swells. The leafless boughs of these ancient trees provide shelter for daemonic birds that sing the funeral dirges of any unwelcome visitor. It is a house of pestilence, rot, and death. This is Nurgle's Mansion, and that means that it is also a place of hope and renewal. There can be no explanation for the strength that keeps this structure from collapse save that it is the dwelling place of the Lord of All, whose boundless energy, sense of eternal purpose, and limitless joy for his work finds perfect peace with the inevitability of decay.
Nurgle himself often sits in a massive chair just to the side of the mansion's front door. From there he entreats visitors, both summoned and unexpected, to approach, share tales and questionable libations, and explore the countless rooms within.
Inside the vast structure, a guest could easily become lost. Rotten floorboards send many to a doom of slow consumption by the carrion feeders that dwell in the lower levels. Grand staircases decorated with moth-eaten rugs beckon to wandering souls, leading them to chambers where Daemons are glad to receive new, fresh flesh.
Should the guest bypass these rooms and continue upward, he might find his way to the attic, where Nurgle keeps samples of his multitudinous works of decay, catalogued and counted over and over again by attendant Plaguebearers. In this attic are jars containing the viscera of plague victims from across time and space. Souls are trapped within apparently simple glass containers, left to slowly dim and fade as maladies of the spirit waste them to the bone.
If the visitor walked past the stairs and pushed deeper into the mansion, he might stumble upon the kitchens and larders of the Plaguefather's home. Every foul ingredient, every pestilent component imaginable (and some that defy sanity) rests on shelves here, neatly labelled and ready to be combined in the great cauldron. A wise guest moves on quickly from here, knowing that to linger is to become flavouring for the noxious stew, for this cauldron is among Nurgle's prized possessions and he likes to keep it full. It is in this great black crucible that the Lord of All brews the many plagues he pours into the mortal realm. Nurgle is a creative being, and he will take inspiration for experimentation where he finds it. Seldom can he resist the temptation to add nearby visitors to his virulent concoctions.
Nurgle is unlike the other Ruinous Powers is many ways, including how he views his domain within the Realm of Chaos. Khorne, for instance, rarely leaves his throne, barking orders to his generals from atop a mound of skulls. Slaanesh watches the happenings of his kingdom from within his palace or wanders the universe seeking to tempt mortals into giving up their souls to satisfy his hunger. Tzeentch seems to not care much at all for the state of his warped and fractured lands, spending his time plotting and interfering with affairs in realms beyond his own. Nurgle, on the other hand, cherishes the beauty and surprises of his Garden. He routinely takes strolls down its twisted paths, cavorting with his Daemons and stopping to observe as one of his diseases takes its toll on a wounded captive. Nurgle is in touch with his land and its many regions.
In his wanderings outside of the Mansion, he passes by some of his favourite places, many of which have existed since Nurgle first thought of them and are likely to be the models for the reborn universe that is to come. A moment's journey from the Mansion are the Death Beds, a place he visits more often than perhaps any other. It is a place that serves two purposes. Not only are wayward travellers and defeated invaders trapped here, stored in the deep pits and sucking muck of this place awaiting some future foul use, or their eventual demise, but it is here that Nurgle can indulge in one of his greatest forms of entertainment. The Plaguefather loves to hear stories of the realms beyond his own. They inspire him to create new pestilences that are well suited to other lands, and in the Death Beds he has countless potential storytellers. Sometimes he offers these unfortunates the chance to improve their position by spitting the worms from their mouths and sharing tales of their worlds with him. Those who amuse him sufficiently are plucked from the muck and removed to the Mansion. There they have the great honour of becoming vessels for Nurgle's newest plagues. Once they are properly infected, Grandfather Nurgle smiles, gives them one last tender, gut-churning embrace, and sends them back into the lands their stories described.
After visiting the Death Beds, Nurgle often makes the Poxyards the next stop on his stroll. It is here that he tests the efficacy of his contagions of the flesh and spirit. Each malady requires a different set of trials to gauge its ability to achieve the Plaguefather's desires. This means that the physical form of the Poxyards changes to suit the task. For a test of the spirit, this region of the Garden may be filled with crystal clear lakes. A dehydrated test subject may see these lakes and, believing salvation is at hand, drink deeply of the cool waters. Suddenly the water will turn to pus, tormenting the sick and weakened soul. For a test of a skin-eating disease, the Poxyards may be filled with Clawthrust Brambles. Infected captives can be sent running into the daemon-plants, chased by Beasts. If the captives scream as they pass through the razor-edged branches of the plants, then Nurgle knows that the poor wretches can still feel pain and his affliction needs refinement. No matter the incarnation of the Poxyards, this corner of the Garden always gives Nurgle new insights, and therefore he spends a great deal of time there.
There are other places such as these - places that are always buzzing with activity and joy. The Morabusium where the most precious and toxic herbs take root, the Dunglash Arboretum where refined excrement hangs from trees like putrid, reeking vines, and many others. All of these regions provide Nurgle with the ingredients and insights he needs to further his work at the cauldron when he returns to the Mansion after one of his invigorating jaunts.
In addition to the mainstay regions of the Garden, there are many others that enjoy a less permanent existence, coming and going with the ascendancy and passing of one of Nurgle's many plagues. Some of these likely only exist in the nightmare visions and untrustworthy hallucinations of disease-ravaged minds. Still, the Garden is near infinite, and it is not so unbelievable that a recipient of one of Nurgle's great gifts might be blessed with a fleeting glimpse of the Plaguefather's realm.
With their last dying breaths, some mortals gasp and choke out words saying that they hear faint bells tolling. Perhaps they refer to the blossoms that grow in the Deathbell Lily Fields. When a mortal dies as the result of one of Nurgle's many diseases, one of these pallid flowers opens up and emits a tinny chime to mark the success of Nurgle's handiwork. The ringing is incessant.
The Hanging Gardens of Thush'Bolg are a sight to be seen. This remote slice of Nurgle's realm was given to the Great Unclean One Thush'Bolg as acknowledgement of his use of a choking plague to wipe out an Ork infestation on Hurax, a planet that Nurgle coveted. To commemorate his victory and to demonstrate constant thanks to his lord for his reward, Thush'Bolg used their own intestines to hang every single Ork from the colony in the trees of his domain. There they dangle and rot, slowly dying but never quite finding release.
Plaguebearers toss organs from the bodies of disease victims into sorting pools, making it easier for them to count the numbers that have died from each ailment. Beasts of Nurgle frolic in fields where planted spines yield crops of dementia-inducing foodstuffs. Nurglings cackle with glee as they roll down hillsides that form spontaneously when Great Unclean Ones vomit up regiments they consumed thousands of years ago. The Garden of Nurgle is a wondrous place filled with vitality, mirth, and experiences beyond mortal comprehension. It is a playground for the minions of the Lord of Decay, a laboratory for his work, and a comforting home for a god that knows his realm is the shape of things to come.
"So many wondrous joys! So many hopes and dreams! Oh, Plaguefather, your gifts are boundless! Still, I will make an accounting of them."
— Pusmaw, Plaguebearer of Nurgle
Nurgle's Daemons and mortals alike smile at the thought of serving their god. Other masters are harsh and demanding, but the Lord of Flies only asks that his servants embrace each moment. Though they are rotting, diseased, and corrupted beyond redemption, Nurgle's blessed minions are rewarded with a sense of peace and certitude about their ultimate purpose in the universe.
Like all Daemons that serve at the whim of their dark deity, the minions of the Great Lord of Decay are beholden to the commands of their master. Yet unlike the ambitious Bloodletters of the Blood God or the self-centred Daemonettes of the Prince of Pleasure, those Daemons who serve Nurgle do so happily, understanding their part in the Great Corruption and counting the days until it comes to pass.
From within the Garden of Nurgle, the daemonic minions of the Plaguefather each contribute to Nurgle's goals in their own way. Some aid their master in the creation of system-crippling diseases by bringing their lord rotted, maggot-infested flesh from fallen foes. Others sow the galactic winds with the spores of their lord's many plagues, bringing corruption and rot to distant worlds. Legions of Daemons are sent into the field of battle to bring death directly to the doorstep of the foes of Nurgle, piercing flesh and spirit alike with foul plagueswords and other wicked weapons of decay. There are even those whose only contribution is to play, reminding the others that Nurgle is a god of vitality and boundless energy, and not merely a death dealer.
Counting, harvesting, experimenting, reaping, consuming, rotting, laughing - all are important to Nurgle, and his beloved children are eager to please their Plaguefather.
Plague Lords, Fly Masters, Stench Lords of Nurgle
Greater Daemons of all Chaos Gods go by many names, each tending to emphasise a particular aspect of these terrible beings, but only Great Unclean Ones have the distinction of being allowed to use the name of their master as an appellation of their own. This may lend some credence to the ravings of those who claim to have beheld Nurgle's grand form. If the hysterical outbursts of these broken souls are to be believed, their accountings of the appearance of the Plaguefather are remarkably similar to those given by mortals who have beheld an actual Great Unclean One and lived to recount the horror to others. Vast and rotund, oozing filth and corruption, leaving decay and foulness in their wake, the physical form of the Great Unclean Ones serves to terrify the foes of Nurgle and to remind his followers of the magnificent god that has blessed them with the strength to persevere in the face of such overwhelming bodily corruption.
These Stench Lords are Nurgle's favoured children; his blessed emissaries and trusted lieutenants. In battle, they lead his armies as generals and devastatingly powerful warriors. They gestate the countless Nurglings that continually crawl out from within their corpulent forms. They travel the galaxy, housing their master's many plagues deep inside their cauldron-like guts, brewing the foul concoctions to perfect potency before finally ripping open their own bellies and disgorging the virulent contents upon Nurgle's chosen recipients. As macabre master gardeners and wardens of woe, they tend to the decaying plant life and diseased animals of the Garden of Nurgle, while also ensuring that the Plaguebearers and other denizens of the Garden do their part in bestowing Grandfather Nurgle's gifts on the galaxy.
Purveyors of Poxes, Filthlords, Harbingers of Rebirth
Many mortal followers of the Chaos Gods have wrought terrible deeds in the name of their masters. Leaders of cults recruit new worshippers routinely. Billions of adherents commit foul acts of devotion to their dark lords every day. These actions are common, and go largely unnoticed by the likes of Nurgle. To gain the attention of the Lord of All, a follower must be willing to spread disease on a grand scale, infecting entire planets with a deadly pox. He must erode the foundations of entire cities and send their millions of inhabitants into a state of starvation, rot, and decay. A candidate for Daemonhood must prove his worth on a level that most mortal minds cannot even begin to contemplate. Once he has committed an act that brings a smile to Nurgle's blistered and seeping face, he can pledge himself to unwavering service and dedication to bringing about the Great Corruption.
Few who strive for this prize actually claim it. Failure ends in a wretched death, or worse, the curse of Spawndom, eternal life as a mindless, writhing monstrosity. Still, those who worm their way into Nurgle's foul heart receive his darkest blessing: Apotheosis.
Rotbearers, Maggotkin, Tainted Ones, Nurgle's Tallymen
Nurgle is proud of all of the plagues and poxes he has created as gifts for the mortal realm, but one disease stands out above all the rest as perhaps the favourite of the Plaguelord - Nurgle's Rot. Most of the afflictions ravage the bodies of those who become infected by them, and many even eat away at the soul of their victims, but Nurgle's Rot utterly consumes those who contract it - mind, body, and soul. It transforms them from beings of weak mortal flesh, and sees them reborn in the Garden of Nurgle as a Plaguebearer.
Once they emerge from the muck and filth of the Garden, their mortal suffering is gone, a reward for their faith in Nurgle and their acceptance of his gifts. Whatever their old body may have been, be it Imperial Guardsman, spacefaring merchant, impoverished mother of ten malnourished whelps, or leader of a Plague Cult in some rusted out underhive, their new forms are all very similar to those of the other newly-reincarnated. Their flesh is dull and covered in sores and open wounds. Pustules form and burst, their contents pouring out and collecting in the folds of the daemon's flesh. Their faces all bear a single central eye and a horn sprouts from their head. Their limbs are unnaturally gangly and yet filled with a strength the mortal likely had not felt in many years. A plaguesword, the weapon by which it will infect the enemies, and friends, of Nurgle, is given to each new Plaguebearer as a symbol of allegiance. The person they once were is no more, evolved into the physical embodiment of Nurgle's affection for his children.
Though they have left their mortal selves behind, perhaps a piece of their former existence lingers within them, for these Tallymen invariably seek to fill their days with seemingly mundane tasks, most of which involve seeking to impose some kind of order in the chaos of their new home. Many tend to his Garden, help usher other Plaguebearers into existence like midwives, or keep catalogues of the diseases Nurgle has created. Some even attempt the impossible task of keeping a tally of the ever-changing number of Nurglings that populate the Garden of Nurgle. It's all rather odd behaviour for a Daemon, when compared to the savage acts of Bloodletters or the predations of Daemonettes, but it pleases Nurgle to see his children doing as they wish, and a father's love for his children is best left simply admired, if not understood.
Prime Corruptors, The Plagueridden, The Resolute
Those who receive the blessing of Nurgle's Rot endure some of the most twisted and foul bodily depredation imaginable. Sores swell, pulse, and split open, spraying pus and maggots. Bruises appear in an instant from even the slightest contact, often times with no contact at all, turning the flesh purple, yellow, and black. Fingers, toes, ears, and lips rot away and fall off. Hip bones soften and break, forcing leg bones through rancid flesh. In particularly vicious cases, the eyes and tongue become fertile breeding grounds of flies or even an especially mischievous Nurgling or two. It is a misery to which no amount of description can ever possibly do justice.
The toll it takes reaches beyond the physical form and into the minds and souls of the mortals who contract it. Still, dedicated followers of Nurgle understand that even this suffering is a gift from their master. Most bear the decay for as long as they can, cherishing each day of life and appreciating their place in the great cycle. There are those, however, who abandon all that Grandfather Nurgle has given them. They opt for a self-inflicted and untimely death rather than suffer with their malady as they promised they would. These wretches are forgotten. Cast aside by a disappointed lord, they dissolve into nothing, their flesh and souls utterly consumed.
There is a third path open to the strong and resolute believers. Resistance to Nurgle's Rot is always impossible in the end, but for these devoted mortals, the end can be forestalled. As their bodies collapse further and further into ruin, a peaceful calm comes over their minds and settles into their souls. At last, immobile heaps of little more than quivering flesh and rotted entrails, even these mortals succumb. When they are reborn in the Garden, their Plaguebearer form is more massive, stronger, and more powerful than those who could not resist the Rot as they did. These Plaguebearers reap one of Nurgle's greatest rewards, leading and inspiring their lesser brethren as Heralds of Nurgle.
Nurgle's Lapdogs, Slime Hounds, Bombastic Contagions
Each of Nurgle's daemonic minions takes delight in doing its part to bring to fruition the Plaguefather's grand vision for the collapse and rebirth of the universe. There is much to do, from counting the death toll of each newly unleashed plague, to filling the pus pits with fresh rot. The effort is ceaseless, but not without joy. As the Daemons go about their work, they will sometimes be interrupted by an unexpected, but always appreciated, visit from one of the Lord of Decay's most wonderful creations - a Beast of Nurgle. Propelled by stocky legs and a bile-coated, slithering tail, these enthusiastic Slime Hounds bound about the Garden, constantly seeking playmates. Their putrescent tongues wrap around Plaguebearers, drawing them toward the Beast's noxious maw. They crash headlong into meticulously organised piles of limbs, heads, and other rotted body parts, causing the Tallymen to have to begin their counts anew. Nothing embodies the joyful nature of Chaos in quite the same way as a Beast of Nurgle. Though they undo some work that has been done, not one Plaguebearer, Great Unclean One, or Nurgling ever complains, for these Beasts are the physical realisation of their God's will to bring energy, vitality, and joviality to the universe. They remind the other minions why it is they serve their master.
This boundless enthusiasm for play and unquenchable thirst for attention also serves the Lord of Decay when his forces march to conflict. A Beast of Nurgle could go thousands of years never knowing the greater world outside of the Garden. When taken to the mortal realm and sent toward Nurgle's enemies, the excitement a Beast of Nurgle feels is impossible to restrain. They lunge into the ranks of the enemy, trying to find new friends and different playmates. Armour rots instantly upon contact with the caustic goo that coats the Beasts. Bones and weapons shatter under their bulk as they roll around on top of their newfound companions. When the unfortunate victims cease moving, the Beast of Nurgle pauses briefly, feeling a touch of sadness that his friend will not play anymore, before setting off to find someone new.
The Rotting Riders, Harvesters of Sorrows, Pus Crows
When a Beast of Nurgle suffers the ultimate frustration of being killed by the very playthings with which it had hoped to frolic, its essence retreats back into the Warp and comes to rest in the slime pits of the Garden. There it spends centuries forming a new body, shielded from interference by a mass of bloated flies. Over the course of time, depression and resentment take hold within the Beast. This makes it a very rare creature in the domain of the Pus God - a being without joy, mirthless and bitter. When the Beast emerges from it long dormancy, its new form is much different from that of the creature that it once was. Its skin develops a chitinous layer on its back. Spindly, bladed limbs replace its short, stocky legs. Most dramatically, the Beast's tentacles give way to enormous wings similar to those of the flies that protected the Beast while it regenerated.
Thus transformed, the new Rot Fly attempts to return to the mortal realm, malice in its heart driving it to seek out and destroy those who refused to play with it centuries before. Left to its own devices, the Rot Fly's anger would drive it mad, but Nurgle is a loving and merciful god and cannot bear to see one of his children suffer so. To ease the Rot Fly's pain, The Plaguefather pairs it with a Plaguebearer who has earned a place of pride in the daemonic legions of the God of Filth. The relationship between a Rot Fly and its rider benefits both the former Beast and the favoured Plaguebearer. The rider gains the ability to cover ground more quickly, allowing it to count Nurgle's many putrid blessings more thoroughly than ever before. The mount gains an eternal companion, allowing the pain of its previous rejection to fester a little less, and its victim's wounds to fester a little more.
Gleeful Castoffs, Pus Spores, Mites of Nurgle, Tiny Plagues
Though they are some of the least of Nurgle's minions, Nurglings are surely some of the most numerous, and among the most favoured. Even their appearance is pleasing to the Lord of All, for each Nurgling is like a minute copy of the dread master himself. This is perhaps not surprising, given that Nurglings are formed within the innards of Great Unclean Ones, who themselves physically reflect Nurgle's repulsive magnificence. Nurglings serve the Filth-father in which they were formed, often pretending that their progenitor is Nurgle himself. They play within the folds of his flesh, fetch morsels for him to consume, pick at his sores or give him new ones, and otherwise seek his approval, giggling all the while. Sometimes they are gifted to Heralds or other powerful champions to act as a living litter for him, or to hold him aloft atop a palanquin. In these cases, the Nurglings will treat their new master much as they had treated the Great Unclean One from which they came - whether the new lord would prefer it or not.
Daemons of Nurgle emulate the Lord of Decay and follow his path in many different ways. When they are not vying for the attention of their parent-Daemon, Nurglings most often try to do things that reflect the mirthful nature of Nurgle himself. This frequently leads to them interfering with the work of the Plaguebearers, who find Nurglings to be something of a nuisance - though they don't normally give voice to their irritation, at least not when a Great Unclean One is within earshot. Just when a Plaguebearer is nearly finished counting the number of drips of pus required to fill a particular pool, for example, a swarm of Nurglings may come running through it, playfully splashing in the rancid goo and scattering it all around. It is their nature to cause mischief, just as it is the Plaguebearer's nature to keep tallies. In the Realm of Chaos, even in the relatively ordered domain of Nurgle, it is no surprise that harmony eludes the grasp of most Daemons.
The universe is vast, and yet no part of it remains untouched by conflict, change, and greed. Service to Nurgle secures a safe harbour in a swirling sea of doubt. Fear of infirmity is set aside and replaced by the knowledge that a greater destiny lays ahead, free from the nightmares that plague those who do not understand the great cycle of death and rebirth.
Not all mortal followers of Nurgle are quick to accept his blessings. Many need to suffer before they can accept the truth. For a path full of paradoxes, one of the greatest is that the longer a blighted mortal struggles against accepting Nurgle, the more powerful his form will be when he finally yields. Through immeasurable suffering and loss, the mortal will gain resiliency and strength.
Corruption. It is a word that lies at the heart of the most divisive, destructive, and long-lasting conflict the galaxy has ever known. It was corruption of the spirit that caused Horus and half of all Space Marine Legions to turn on the Emperor of Mankind. Corruption of will broke the resolve of thousands of warriors who found the unrelenting hardships of serving a weak cause in support of a cruel master too much to endure. Corruption of faith cast thousands more down a fresh path of glory and freedom, embracing new, darker masters that blessed them with tangible gifts and rewards rather than fleeting promises and thankless suffering. Corruption of the body - the infirmities of ageing forms, infected wounds sustained in battle, and the ravages of illness were sufficient for countless others to turn to the only being capable of saving them from the misery of their decline - Nurgle.
Among the first to abandon the Emperor and embrace the Lord of Decay were Mortarion and his Death Guard. Abandoned by the Corpse God of Man and left to a fate of starvation and disease, they struck a bargain with their new corpulent master, Nurgle, and were saved. The pain of their affliction was numbed. Their bodies became hosts to maggots, flies, and a host of contagions. They were given renewed strength and a purpose they had never considered before. As Plague Marines, they embraced corruption in all its forms as a natural and inescapable part of life. Thus empowered and enlightened, they set about the task of taking the blessings and revelations of Nurgle to the masses. They became Nurgle's rotted fist, spreading his infectious message of hope and perseverance to the battlefields of the galaxy. But they would not be his only power armoured servants.
War zones are breeding grounds for all manner of corruption. They present ample opportunity for Nurgle's truths to manifest and present themselves to those who have open eyes with which to see them and the cunning to make use of them. Plague Marines such as the Death Guard and others spread disease with each toss of a blight grenade or thrust of a plague knife, but other forms of decay shape events as well. Fragmentary warbands from many of the Traitor Legions and renegade Space Marine Chapters, though not particularly given to devout worship of Nurgle, know in their twisted hearts that the Pox Lord is correct in that collapse is inevitable. The Lord of Decay teaches that nothing is permanent, and it is a lesson these Chaos Space Marines have learned well.
Even after a battle has been won by the Legions of Nurgle, his presence continues to have an effect. Broken bodies lay rotting, their organs and flesh turning to mush and renewing the soil into which they seep. Though their approach is less subtle than that of a lovingly crafted plague, Chaos Space Marines are remarkably efficient at converting massive armies of enemy flesh into the raw materials of rebirth, and therefore he embraces their service to him with glee.
Some who have been touched by the unchecked warping influence of gods like Slaanesh or Tzeentch might be able pass themselves off as normal, at least for a time. An extra limb or third eye can be covered up or masked, but the unmistakeable stench of corruption that hangs in the air around a mutant afflicted with one of the Pox Lord's many diseases is impossible to miss. Even the smallest pustule is filled with a fluid so noxious, that when it bursts, those unfortunate enough to be nearby wretch and heave uncontrollably, struggling to avoid vomiting the contents of their stomach where they stand.
Because they find it so difficult to remain hidden, mutants who manifest the corrupting influence of Nurgle's ministrations often face very short lives. For most, this is a mercy. Their chances of becoming a great champion of Chaos or being reborn in the Garden are slim at best, so for these putrid wretches, there truly is little hope. Still, survival instincts push them to live as long as they can, perhaps taking refuge in the dank sewers of cities or in the charnel pits of primitive cultures, where the stench of the decay and filth around them provides a slight chance of masking their own repulsive odour. Tactics such as these usually only succeed for a short time. Unless they are found and sheltered by sympathetic plague cultists, these mutants are almost invariably betrayed by their own nauseating deformities. Zealous priests, watchful wardens, or even simple frightened former family members have but to follow their noses to uncover the hiding place of a noxious mutant. Cornered, alone, and often so warped in form that they cannot flee from their persecutors, these pathetic souls find peace in flame.
Not all who seek to serve Nurgle have the means to attract his attention through grand individual acts of devotion. Most mortals do not have the might of a Chaos Space Marine or the influence of a corrupt political leader. For these common worshippers, notice is often best gained when they band together as a plague cult. The power of such a group is far greater than that of any one of its members. So much that is out of reach can be seized though concerted effort. The food stores of an Imperial barracks, for example, are secured against interference and spoilage. There is a guard at the door who ensures that nothing enters or leaves without his knowledge, a supply master who inspects and maintains the food, and a cook who requisitions ingredients and uses them to prepare the meals. Alone, these individuals can do very little, but if all are members of the same plague cult, it can be another matter entirely. The guard can look the other way when suspicious materials are smuggled in and stored safely away from prying eyes. The supply master can keep the contraband out of official records and mask its presence in the larder. The cook can access the ingredients and use them to taint the meals of the entire garrison, bringing illness to all of the soldiers at once and allowing the barracks to fall to invaders. Actions such as these just might be enough to gain some small favour in the eyes of their true lord. Perhaps not, but the chances of each member of the cult are much better together than they would be alone.
Disease and despair are common throughout the galaxy. Death is ever-present as well, especially when plague grips a region. Some who would worship Nurgle see the death that follows disease, misinterpret the Plaguelord's will, and form death cults instead of plague cults. To these woeful souls, death is all. They believe that Nurgle's ultimate goal is final death. They are wrong. One common task that plague cults often take upon themselves is the eradication of these rival death cults who have so egregiously wronged Nurgle. The struggles between the two types of cults are usually limited to small skirmishes or individual assassinations. Only when it is too late, when the plague cult has vanquished the heretics, and an unstoppable contagion spreads through their streets, do the authorities realise their error.
Plague cults are groups of relatively powerless individuals banding together in order to venerate Nurgle in any small way they can. Warbands have no such insignificant mortals diluting their memberships. They are comprised of some of the greatest warriors, the keenest tacticians, and the most creatively gifted mortal minions of Nurgle. Unlike plague cults, warbands of Nurgle likely already have his attention. Many members are Chaos Space Marines who will have received blessings from their master long ago. Common purpose and the power to act motivate warbands to achieve greatness in the name of the Plaguefather. Much distinguishes a warband from a plague cult, but one of the greatest distinctions they have is that they do not hide. With power, strength, will, and the many gifts of Nurgle they possess, there simply is no need.
It is not hard to imagine why a Chaos Space Marine might leave his brothers behind. Loyalty and self-sacrifice are not hallmarks of the lost and the damned. Service to Nurgle can take its toll on even the most dedicated of followers. Advanced mutation, loss of mobility, or even fanatical devotion beyond those of his fellows can leave a Plague Marine unable to function as an effective member of his squad. Sometimes his only option is to break from his squad-mates and continue to befoul the galaxy on his own. Isolation, however, is at odds with the communal nature of Nurgle. Loneliness festers in the heart of a Plague Marine or other Chaos Space Marine that has left his Legion, and Grandfather Nurgle is often moved to reach out to a wayward follower in such a position. The warrior hears the kindly laughter of his master on the cosmic winds and pursues the joyful noise. Once the mirthful trail is followed to its end, the blighted soul gives thanks to his caring God, for more often than not he arrives to find a fellowship of others whose faith and dedication to Nurgle left them in similar straits. Together, the warband forms something of a travelling cavalcade of mirth and rot, freed from the structures imposed by the organisation of their Legion and accepted by one another as exemplars of all that Nurgle teaches.
These warbands can accomplish much that a plague cult or Legion of Chaos Space Marines cannot. Examples of the fruits of such ambitions abound. The great rivers of pus that flowed from the volcano on Grenetus Major were the doing of Yorgol's Vomitmaws when the small warband passed the planet's defences undetected and delivered a pox-blessing from Nurgle's own cauldrons into the erupting mountain. Because they were free to act according to their own plans, the members of the Brotherhood of Unclean Mercy were able to seize upon an opportunity of random chance and infect the entire store of supplies in a passing merchant fleet. Thus enhanced, the cargo spread the Stenchgut Plague to an entire continent on Xurunt. These are but a few of the many deeds warbands of Nurgle have carried out in his name. Positioned perfectly between the nuisance activities of localised plague cults and the massive galaxy-spanning campaigns of corruption of the Death Guard, the actions of a warband of Nurgle serve the ends of the Lord of Decay perfectly - a fact in which their members take great solace and joy.
"His enemies shall wither and die. His allies shall wither and die. The universe and all within it shall wither and die. And when the Great Corruption has settled over the land, and permeated the very foundations of reality itself, then shall the Lord of All rise from the rot and ruin, spread his arms wide to reclaim all his dutiful children..."
— "The Victory of Rebirth", from Litanies of Inevitability
Though they strive to embrace each day of life left to them, to forestall the inevitable, those who serve Nurgle must accept their eventual death. They must also believe in the equal certainty of rebirth. This hope for something new and glorious is the great comfort that the Plaguefather has shared with them. It is a hope born from Nurgle's own understanding of the workings of the universe. Just as his followers have accepted the teachings of their lord, Nurgle himself long ago accepted that decay brings an end to all things, but that through such decay life begins anew. Decay is the victor in all battles, the opposition to which there is no resistance. This is why Nurgle embraces decay as a weapon, as a tool, and as a means of instructing and guiding his followers. Decay is at the core of Nurgle's philosophy and methods. Blessed with reshaped forms and renewed purpose, the minions of Nurgle become his instruments in the Great Corruption. As vessels and embodiments of decay, mortals and Daemons alike are effectively living fuel, powering the great cycle through their actions and, indeed, their simple rotting, infectious presence in the Realm of Chaos and the mortal plane.
Few who pledge themselves to Nurgle do so in the belief that he offers an easy path to power and glory. He does not promise increased influence, brutal strength, or hedonistic excess. Those who turn to him for aid are not seeking to make their dreams become reality, to strike down those who stand in opposition, or to be adored by all who know them. No, most mortals who find their way into Nurgle's foetid embrace wish only for an end to some sort of suffering. They call to him to protect them from the ravages of disease, to save them from the slow, painful death of unchecked infection, or to otherwise spare them from whatever may ail them. There are even some who do not seek him out but are instead visited by one of his messengers and offered a bargain.
No matter if they sought his gifts or if they themselves were found, the exchange is never quite what was expected. These mortals have their doubts and fears cast aside. They find that they are no longer caught in the paralysing grip of despair and misery. Their afflictions, however, linger, and are usually joined by other blights. New sores and pustules appear, the foul liquids they contain becoming home to small worms and maggots. Bellies swell and distend, the flesh straining to contain bleeding entrails that push the abdomen outward. Old wounds rip open again spontaneously and invite fresh infections. Whatever diseases or weakness these mortals once sought to leave behind take up permanent residence within their bodies and minds. All this must be accepted as the first lesson Nurgle teaches - decay is inescapable, but also glorious. This knowledge is illuminating for those who follow Nurgle. If all things decay, each moment is a gift. Why not use these moments to shape what is to come and secure a place in it? Why sit idly by wallowing in pain and sorrow when there is so much to do and so little time in which to do it? As these thoughts race through the minds of the newly converted, it dawns on them - their pain is deadened. Even with so many new afflictions, so much rancid corruption of the flesh, the suffering has abated. Hope arrives.
For these newest of Nurgle's adopted children, it is as if the morning fog has lifted and they see the world clearly with fresh eyes. Why had they complained about their poxes and failing bodies? What selfish desires to change their fates had prevented them from realising their true purpose? Rot, glorious rot, becomes the constant companion for a servant of the Lord of All, instructing them, guiding their path, and reminding them that they are fortunate beyond measure to have been chosen by Nurgle to receive his gifts. Indeed, many discover that the initial malady from which they suffered, the one that drove them to seek salvation in the first place, was actually bestowed upon them by Nurgle. Rather than anger, it is joy that springs from this knowledge. These mortals believe themselves to have been chosen, destined for greatness as a true champion of Nurgle.
Relatively few of those who receive Nurgle's glorious blessings distinguish themselves as much more than a tiny but welcome maggot, doing their part to eat away at the rotting corpse that is the decaying universe. Those who do differentiate themselves invariably exemplify the precepts of Nurgle's philosophy and emulate his grand and corrupted form at a level that leaves no doubt as to which of the Ruinous Powers has claimed their souls. These are the Plaguefather's mortal champions, and it is through their foul deeds that many of the greatest accomplishments of Nurgle's plan are achieved.
So often these champions take on an appearance not unlike that their dark patron. This is not unusual for minions of the Plaguefather. Great Unclean Ones are said to be small (though still massive in their own right) versions of Nurgle himself, and in turn their excreted offspring, the Nurglings, look like miniature replicas of the Great Unclean Ones that gave them life. Likewise, mortal champions become bloated, stinking, leaking, collections of rotted flesh, exposed entrails, necrotic sores, and all manner of foulness. They are surrounded by clouds of flies and followed by Nurglings that splash about in the slime trails that spread out behind them to mark their passing. Unlike the minions of the other Gods of Chaos, champions of Nurgle do not hesitate to pursue enemies into the most dank, disgusting, and polluted places. There is no cesspool or sewer noxious enough to deter Nurgle's followers. No quarantined plague zone is off limits. Once a champion of Nurgle has the scent of his foe, no amount of stink can throw him off. The determination that is such part and parcel of all that Nurgle's lessons impart serves his champions well as they do whatever must be done to serve their lord.
Lesser worshippers of Nurgle who follow them are unperturbed by the grotesque condition of champions and draw inspiration from the macabre beauty of their rotting forms, the sickly sweet odour of their rancid flesh, and the corruptive acts they commit in the name of Grandfather Nurgle.
The Plaguelord's followers all end up mimicking his appearance in one way or another. Some even became his children because they started out life bearing some passing resemblance to him. Nurgle is more than form, though. He is also philosophy. Most mortal champions, and many lesser followers, end up thinking like he does, though in a limited fashion due to the constraints of mortal minds, but it is the daemonic champions that know their father's thoughts the best.
Great Unclean Ones understand Nurgle in a way that no mortal - not even one elevated to the rank of Daemon Prince - ever could. They are nearer to their god than any mortal, and more closely involved in his plans than any Plaguebearer or other daemonic servant. There is little place for jealousy or scheming in the Garden of Nurgle or any of his domains beyond, and his Daemon Princes know this. Though they wish for nothing more than to be one with the Plaguefather, they also know they will never be as close to him as the Great Unclean Ones are. As they do with so much else as a result of Nurgle's teachings, they accept their lot. This relationship to their god differs from that of other Daemon Princes. The other Ruinous Powers take particular pleasure in deceiving mortals, damning them by tricking them with lies and promises they know they will almost certainly never need to keep. They see their daemonic followers, even their champions, as never having had a choice but to do as they are commanded. They view these Daemons more as slaves to darkness than co-conspirators with it. In their eyes, this makes mortal servants somehow more interesting. Nurgle, on the other hand, knows most of his mortal followers turned to him as a last act of desperation, but his daemonic minions, most especially the Great Unclean Ones, have genuine affection for Grandfather Nurgle and serve him out of love. Nurgle delights in reciprocating, reminding him as it does of a kind of a cycle, and therefore takes great interest and pride in the efforts of his daemonic champions. The desires of Nurgle and his champions are one. Each knows that the Great Corruption is a higher purpose that must be served, and they do so with great resolve and satisfaction.
The Gods of Chaos are all ultimately after the same thing. Each wishes to overthrow the existing order and claim dominion over both the Realm of Chaos and the mortal world. The questions of how this is to be achieved and which lord the universe will call master are answered very differently by each of the Dark Gods. Slaanesh would see all of existence turned into a playground in which he and his minions could eternally explore new delights. Khorne desires nothing more than to claim every skull and drop of blood to use as the mortar with which to build the foundations of his new kingdom. Tzeentch surely has his own plans for what a twisted reality reshaped in his image would look like, but he has not shared what that might be. Perhaps he does not even know himself. To Nurgle, these alternatives are indistinguishable - self-indulgent fantasies with no sense of greater purpose or understanding of the nature of things. To him, the ambitions of the others seem small.
Reality will be remade. Both the mortal plane and the Realm of Chaos have ever been on a path of decay, and from decay come death and endings. Endings, but not finality. It seems that Nurgle alone comprehends the meaning of this, the distinction. Where his brother gods each envision a destination at the end of the path, Nurgle knows that the journey turns ever back upon itself in a loop, leading to rebirth, revitalisation, and new beginnings. It is this fundamental divergence of views that sets Nurgle at odds with the other Powers, for it means that they are not actually working toward the same thing that he is. On the surface, it appears to the others that while the methods each employs may be different, the end result is much the same - the destruction of the Imperium, the enslavement or destruction of all mortals, and final dominion over all. This is, though, a superficial understanding. Differences come to light in many ways. Slaanesh is content to allow Plague Marines to inflict grievous damage on an army through blight and disease, but is then perplexed when Nurgle's servants do not allow the minions of the Prince of Pleasure to play with the wounded, absconding with their shattered forms before delights can be explored. To Khorne it is all well and good to work with his brother Nurgle in an effort to blast a Kroot colony into oblivion, but he cannot fathom why the Plaguelord insists on leaving their former homeland untouched rather than raze it to a charred, lifeless stone. Still, these incidents pass, written off as the eccentricities of their jolly brother.
Tzeentch, however, is another matter entirely. He refuses to give Nurgle his due or to allow him to pursue his own path. He tweaks, twists, and diverts. He warps, redirects, and alters. The Master of Change is unable to accept that which will surely come to pass. He is constantly looking to modify the rules to his advantage so that his desired ending is the one that will come to pass, even if it means interfering with Nurgle's desires, no matter how small the consequences of those desires may appear to be. Nurgle knows that such meddling is pointless. He knows that the journey down the path does not stop, but the machinations of his brother are vexing and irritating just the same. The actions of Khorne and Slaanesh are a small inconvenience, but Tzeentch's games play havoc with Nurgle's plans, creating setbacks that are needless and counterproductive to not only Nurgle's own goals, but also those of the other Dark Gods. Very little causes Nurgle's smile to dip, but Tzeentch seems to be able to provoke that reaction at will. When the universe dies and then rises again, it is one of greatest hopes of the Lord of All that like the Corpse God of Man, Tzeentch will not be reborn with it.
"The Imperium drew its last breath long ago. We are merely awaiting its death rattle, and then entropy shall claim its long-awaited victory. We are patient. We have waited ten thousand years. We will wait ten thousand more, if necessary. But I do not think it will be."
— Lethrax the Blighted Hand
For a Plague Marine or other Chaos Space Marine in the service of Nurgle, the timeless nature of existence within the Warp is a gift beyond measure. Many of the lessons and experiences that lesser mortals are unable to fully appreciate, let alone comprehend in any significant way, are theirs to explore. It gives these warriors an eternity to ponder the grandeur of their master's plan for ultimate corruption. The many diseases they have within them are given time to percolate and properly evolve into ever more deadly forms. Perhaps best of all, it may allow them to live long enough to see rot claim the body and soul of the False Emperor as he withers away to nothing on his Golden Throne. While the unfocussed followers of Tzeentch waste time in futile attempts to find new ways to breach the Imperial Palace, the patient Chaos Space Marines of Nurgle know that inevitability is their ally. They have but to wait for the great victory, for nothing is eternal - not even the Emperor and his domain. For these enlightened and blighted warriors, the Long War does not seem as long as it does to others.
This is not to say they do not harbour the same righteous hatred for their former brothers that all Legions share. While they know they could simply wait for victory to come to them, they choose to follow the example of Nurgle himself and take a more active role in the downfall and renewal of the galaxy. Eternity offers them many ways to revel in the joy of living and to gain satisfaction from the death they can bring to their enemies. There are a thousand worlds ripe for virus bombing. Billions of souls wait to be tormented by plagues of the spirit. The flesh and bones of entire Space Marine chapters are there to be harvested and used as experimental subjects for Nurgle's constantly mutating catalogue of diseases. It is the duty and privilege of the veterans of the Long War to see to it that no opportunity to further the great cycle through acts of vengeance upon the Emperor's lapdogs passes by.
The betrayals committed against the Legions in the days of Horus' war against the bonds of undeserved servitude are fresh in the minds of all who fought in those days. Let Khorne's brainless savages mutilate the warriors of the Adeptus Astartes. Such violence has a place. If the appetites of Slaanesh's brain-addled devotees get lost in the pleasures of the kill, so be it. Even the erratic, misguided actions of Tzeentch's minions can, at times, create diversions that force the enemies of the Ruinous Powers to weaken. None of this can compare to the all-encompassing totality of the Plaguelord's grand design. As empires crumble, stars collapse upon themselves and each and every pathetic Space Marine chapter fades from memory, Grandfather Nurgle and his chosen servants will have the last laugh. The galaxy will die, and from its death throes a new existence shall come into being, with Nurgle ruling as lord over it all. Not a single one of the Emperor's loyal, wretched offspring shall persist to sully it.
"How many are there, Vommikrux?" asked the young Plaguebearer.
"Silence, pustule. I'm counting," replied the elder Daemon as he set a rotting head in the pile to his left.
"It's Blackrot, old stinky, and I know. That's what I asked. What's our count so far?"
Blackrot's enthusiasm was welcome most of the time, but at present it was distracting to the old Plaguebearer. Vommikrux had been sorting the head piles for longer than he could remember. It was the first task he'd been given when he took form as a Plaguebearer, and he would not be allowed to move on to another until he finished it. He had counted the heads more than a thousand times since the first, never coming up with the same number and therefore never knowing if he was accurate. Now he had the end in sight. No troublesome Nurglings had stolen any heads from the pile, nor had a fresh crop sprung up in the Garden. Just a few more and he could complete his task. He just needed Blackrot to calm down and let him finish. Twelve thousand and sixteen, twelve thousand and seventeen...
Blackrot grabbed Vommikrux's elbow, tugged it slightly and peered over his elder's shoulder at the head in his hand. "Is that twelve thousand and fifteen, or twelve thousand and sixteen?"
"It's twelve thousand and sixteen, or wait, maybe it's nineteen. I... I don't know! Tzeentch take you, Blackrot, I don't know! You've made me lose count. Now I have to start over. Not again..."
Blackrot jumped up and grabbed a head from the pile. "It's alright, stinky," he said with a rotting smile, "I'll help!"
Though now considered one of the Imperium's most abhorrent foes, the Death Guard were once counted among the most relentless and resolute of the Emperor's warriors. The cryptic Stygian Scrolls claim the Legion hailed from the planet Barbarus, a toxic world wreathed in a perpetual poisonous fog. As a result, the planet's inhabitants became extremely resilient to their poisonous home world, a trait that would eventually give rise to the Death Guard's infamous ability to operate in even the most toxic warzones. This hardy constitution, combined with a grimly stoic demeanour and brutally efficient infantry tactics, made the Death Guard one of the most determined and reliable forces within the Great Crusade.
Yet when Horus led half the Space Marine Legions in rebellion against the Emperor, he was able to sway Mortarion, the Death Guard's pallid and grim Primarch, to join him in tearing to the ground all that his father had accomplished. What exactly motivated Mortarion to betray the Imperium is lost to history, yet he and his warriors eagerly joined the other traitors in their campaign of destruction, crossing into the Warp en masse to aid in the assault on Holy Terra.
However, shortly after their transition, the Death Guard were becalmed within the fickle Warp tides, while a strange and devastating plague of unprecedented virulence ravaged the Legion and their attendant fleet. Even the legendary physiologies of the Space Marines could not save them as one by one each of the Death Guard was overcome, their superhuman bodies bloated and distended as the foul contagion transformed them into shambling, diseased grotesques.
Yet none are believed to have suffered as greatly as Mortarion, who was forced to watch his progeny stumble in unending anguish through the disease choked confines of their helpless vessels without hope of escape or death. In desperation, Mortarion offered up his soul and the souls of the remaining Death Guard to the Warp in exchange for his Legion's salvation, and it was Nurgle, Lord of Disease and Decay, who answered his prayer, saving the Death Guard and ensuring their eternal damnation.
What eventually emerged from the Warp within their filth-covered plague ships were not the stoic and austere Death Guard of old, but the first and most deadly of the Plague Marines. Led by their Primarch, the transformed Legion burst forth upon the Emperor's Palace of Terra like a tide of putrid corruption, their disease-encrusted bulks and rust-covered weapons wreaking a devastating toll upon the Imperial defenders.
In the wake of Horus's defeat, the Death Guard retreated to the Eye of Terror alongside the other Traitor Legions, their steadfast demeanour allowing them to avoid the disarray and anarchy that afflicted many of their traitor brethren. Upon entering the Warp, they laid claim to a blighted world near the borders of reality now known as the Plague Planet. The Death Guard are said to dwell there still, and it is from this poisonous rock that the Legion continues to strike out at their Imperial enemies, their massive plague ships bursting with diseased followers eager to bring despair and desolation to mankind. Those insane and corrupted individuals who claim to have set foot upon it say it is a toxic world of corruption and pestilence whose skeletal ruler dwells within his wrought-iron bastion upon the world's highest peak.
Since their fall, the Legion has utterly dedicated itself to propagating Nurgle's corruption, its diseased fleets spewing from the Warp to spread his vile plagues across countless worlds. In battle, they are as utterly relentless as ever, inexorably advancing in the face of withering fire while using their rust-covered bolters and poisonous Plague Knives to brutally dispatch their foes. Their bloated and diseased bodies are immune to fear and pain, often allowing them to causally ignore wounds which would kill lesser men.
Throughout their centuries of raiding, the Legion has gradually split into smaller and smaller units, each led by a particularly deadly Champion of Nurgle in addition to the untold numbers of foetid, Warp-spawned servants that accompany them. In keeping with their corrupt heritage, the Death Guard primarily fight on foot, relying heavily on infantry tactics and their own diseased physiologies to overpower their enemies. Many of these repulsive warriors are the same traitors who burst forth from the Warp during the fabled Battle of Terra centuries ago, while others are more recent converts who have sworn allegiance to both Mortarion and his noxious patron.
Scattered warbands of Death Guard frequently operate within and around the Screaming Vortex, ever eager to reduce the many worlds surrounding those unnatural currents to stinking morasses of putrefaction. Though few in number, they frequently swell their ranks with denizens of the Vortex who wish to spread Grandfather Nurgle's bounty as well as the numerous Traitor Space Marines who have embraced the path of decay. Yet there is a change coming within the Vortex, with many isolated warbands uniting beneath the pestilent banner of a malevolent new champion who has emerged from the eternal warzones that surround the Calixis Sector.
Known only as Buorgdius, legend has it that he was once a proud captain of a Space Marine purgation force that was sent to facilitate the eradication of Chaos forces within the Acheros Salient of the Jericho Reach. After months of brutal campaigning, a rogue plague ship unexpectedly burst forth from the Warp and rammed his Strike Cruiser before vomiting its rotting warriors directly into the vessel's interior. It is said that the Captain fought with terrible fury, cutting down all manner of plague-ridden monstrosities while enduring the foul swarms of flies and noxious clouds of contagion that choked every corridor and assailed his superhuman frame.
By the time he reached the bridge, the mighty warrior could barely stand, while behind him his battle brothers lay dead or dying and the servants of Nurgle ran rampant throughout the hallowed halls of the venerable Strike Cruiser. The bloated Daemon-thing that confronted him within that necrotic bubo laughed at the weakened Captain's plight and raised his massive weapon to strike the killing blow. In that moment, the Captain despaired, crying out in anguish and pleading for the strength to kill his foe. Suddenly unhindered by the innumerable infections that festered within his body, the Captain struck out with renewed vigour, smiting his opponent and claiming his place at the plague ship's helm.
Now he is a Champion of Nurgle whose plague fleet plies the outer fringes of the Screaming Vortex, unleashing its revolting warriors against those unfortunate enough to fall afoul of their diseased and leprous hulks. In combat, Buorgdius leads the reanimated corpses of his former Space Marine brethren into battle while wielding a massive mace crafted from the diseased bones of his unholy predecessor, and dripping with repellent Warp energies. Afterward, his undead warriors stuff the innumerable dead and dying into the filthy, dank plague holds of his vessels in order that they may moulder in the foetid darkness. In this way, the champion recruits many of his mightiest warriors, and he is said to offer a place in his warband to any who will but supplicate themselves before the Lord of Decay.
"I have wandered amid the decomposing copses of my master's Garden, and drank deep from the stagnant pools of corruption at his feet. Soon you shall see what true power means."
— Plague Captain Despoidiol, Champion of Grief
The Lord of Decay has many servants that dwell within the swirling eddies of the Screaming Vortex. Among the greatest of these are the Plague Marines, warriors whose putrid appearance is matched only by their determination and unnatural resilience. While the Death Guard are the most notorious of these vile individuals, not every Traitor Marine that follows the path of decay owes his allegiance to that polluted lineage, for Nurgle's corrupt abundance is available to all who prove worthy of his favour. Yet regardless of their origins, the denizens of the Vortex often give these grotesque brutes a wide berth, as each is always eager to share their bounty of disease and death.
Plague Marines are amongst the most terrifying and relentless of Nurgle's servants, undaunted in the face of death and heedless of all but the most devastating wounds. Their rusty armour and weapons are coated in filth, pus, and other foulness, while rotting organs burst from rents in their distended forms, and teeming hordes of insects burrow beneath their pallid, leprous flesh. Such is the extent of the decay that wracks their diseased frames that their crumbling armour has long since fused with the decayed flesh beneath, while the very air surrounding them is a cloying miasma of disease.
Yet, despite their ghoulish appearance, these warriors are far from dead. Instead they are living embodiments of the promise of corruption and decay within all living things, a gift of their foul patron in return for their devotion to the propagation of his numerous contagions and poxes. However, though many Chaos Space Marines may dedicate themselves to the Plague Father's service, only those truly worthy of his favour receive the dreadful blessings required to transform them into a Plague Marine.
Many receive their abhorrent favours in exchange for deplorable acts of adulation or through pacts with powerful plague sorcerers and other foul servants of Nurgle. Others embrace the path of decay out of desperation, their disease-addled minds choosing servitude over agony and death at the hands of their afflictions. In the end, such motivations are secondary to the unholy task of spreading Nurgle's sinister bounty, and each Plague Marine embraces his devotions with inexorable energy.
In battle, Plague Marines fight without respite or mercy, their bloated bodies and legendary physiology rendering them immune to nearly every physical limitation as they eagerly kill in the Plague God's name. Most prefer short-ranged engagements where they may more readily appreciate the necrotic effects of the poxes and contagions they spread, all while revelling in the disparaging moans of the dying.
To a Plague Marine, such cries of agony are praise for the virulence of their dark lord's works, while every cry for mercy is yet another opportunity to expand their glorious host. For this reason, some prefer merely to wound their victims so that they can fully experience the agonies of Nurgle's generosity, while for others there is no greater satisfaction than to watch their enemies dissolve into a diseased mass of liquefied flesh.
Plague Marines are rightly feared throughout the Imperium as deadly adversaries whose dreadful appearance directly mirrors the rotten soul within. As such, many warlords within the Vortex find their skills, relentless determination, and resilience to physical damage highly useful on the field of battle. However, a Plague Marine's sole drive is the propagation of his malevolent patron's pestilences, so it is always this inexorable purpose to which his rotting mind returns.
A Plague Marine must be a Chaos Space Marine.
Characteristic Bonus: Plague Marines -10 Agility, +10 Toughness, +5 Willpower, +15 Corruption Points, and +7 Infamy.
Starting Skills: Awareness +10, Common Lore (Any One), Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) or (Heresy) or (Psykers), Intimidate +10, Parry +10.
Starting Talents: Ancient Warrior or Die Hard, Bolter Drill, Exotic Weapon Training (Plague Knife), Fearless, Iron Jaw, Hardy, Hip Shooting, Rapid Reload, Sure Strike or Deadeye Shot, Takedown or Blind Fighting.
Starting Gear: Legion Boltgun with 2 magazines, Plague Knife, 3 Blight Grenades, 2 Legion Krak Grenades.
Abominable Physiology: The numerous parasites and virulent diseases that eat away at a Plague Marine's armour and liquefy his diseased flesh also make him unnaturally resistant to harm. A Plague Marine never suffers Damage or other negative effects from Diseases, poisons, or the Toxic Quality unless he chooses to suffer these effects (although he can still be infected by Diseases as normal, and can spread them to others).
Hideous Resilience: Plague Marines have been known to walk unflinching through terrible fire and shrug off mighty blows that would cleave other Space Marines in twain. As a Reaction, a Plague Marine may make a Difficult (-10) Toughness Test. If he succeeds, he reduces the Damage from the next hit he suffers before the beginning of his next Turn by 1 per Degree of Success he scores on the Test. If he reduces the Damage to 0 this way, he gains the Fear (1) Trait to the foe whose attack he so easily withstood.
Infectious Miasma: Plague Marines are revolting testaments to the horrific bounties that await those who embrace the Lord of Decay, their bodies dripping with foul pestilences and contagions that hinder their opponents in combat. A Plague Marine may spend an Infamy point to release the swarms of bloat-flies, corpse-gases, and other vile contagions housed within his bloated frame. For the next 1d5+1 Rounds, at the start of the Plague Marine's Turn, each other character within 10 metres of the Plague Marine suffers a single hit for 1d10 Energy Damage with the Toxic Quality, ignoring armour that is not environmentally sealed.
Plague Marines begin play Aligned to Nurgle.
Plague Marines are among the most revolting and vile of the Chaos Space Marines that inhabit the Screaming Vortex. Yet to those who revel in the glories of the Carrion Lord, these putrid warriors rank among Nurgle's most blessed servants, and most find willing allies within the Vortex's most wretched and polluted throngs.
The following are examples of these repulsive Traitor Space Marines from within the Screaming Vortex and their despicable practices of pestilence and wicked devotion.
Germinatoris: One of the most vital positions within the Adeptus Astartes is that of the Apothecary, a warrior medic tasked with harvesting the precious gene-seed from the fallen in order that the chapter may endure. Yet within the Screaming Vortex there exists a coterie of Plague Marines who grotesquely mirror their noble counterparts. Like carrion feeders, they prowl the battlefield, plundering the gene-seed from any fallen Traitor Space Marines they can find and infecting them with the viscous fluids that ooze from their rotting innards in order to ensure the propagation of Nurgle's putrefying influence.
Forsaken Host: Among the many tales of terror and death found within the Screaming Vortex is that of the Forsaken Host, the solitary survivor of a battle which scoured an unknown planet of life during a forgotten age. Legend says a host of fat, buzzing flies accompanies him - one for each of the fallen during that fateful battle - and that their collective buzzing tears at the sanity of those who hear it, for it is filled with the suffering of billions. Now he is a walking avatar of the devastation of war whose followers relentlessly seek new souls to add to the teeming hordes that swirl about him with ghoulish intensity.
Emissaries of the Wasting Death: The Plague Marines of the Wasting Death are particularly feared among the many denizens of the Screaming Vortex, for their very presence brings with it untold suffering and privation. Wherever they tread the ground shrivels and cracks beneath their feet, and even the heartiest and most resilient creatures shrivel and perish as they draw near. Contact with the malefic air of deprivation that surrounds these desiccated warriors irreparably scars those who survive, often manifesting in incessant pangs of unquenchable thirst and indescribable hunger that lasts for years after the dreadful encounter is a distant memory.
"Observe the squirming maggot. In its simplicity there is purpose; in filth, there is potential. What the ignorant call vermin are in fact the implacable heralds of inexorable decay."
— 177th canto of the Forbidden Treatises of Memniyth
One of the most disturbing locations within the Screaming Vortex is the Writhing World, a planet whose primitive human inhabitants wander amidst continent-sized tendrils of undulating flesh beneath the merciless rule of the great Biomancer Lords. The most powerful such denizens are the Sorcerer-Kings, potent psykers whose massive citadels scurry endlessly across the planet's surface at their master's bidding. Occasionally one of these powerful individuals will depart this decaying world, bartering passage among the various vessels that traverse the endless void. Though their reasons for these journeys are their own, their considerable power and arcane lore make them powerful allies despite the apparent danger of harbouring such vile wretches.
Every Writhing World Sorcerer-King is a highly skilled and learned sorcerer who has dedicated his life to the path of decay as well as other perilous Warp-magiks and forbidden lore. Most are off-worlders who have journeyed to this paradise of death and rebirth to expand their necromantic abilities and commune with the Plague Father, while others are indigenous huskmen whose profane psychic abilities set them apart from their tribal brethren.
Like the planet on which they dwell, Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings are infested with countless worms, maggots, and other wretched vermin which weave and burrow throughout skin and muscle. This revolting display of corruption is actually the Sorcerer-Kings' own doing, as such creatures allow their host a greater degree of control over their blasphemous disciplines while acting as foci for the unholy energies that course through the sorcerer's twisted body. The most powerful such necromancers are barely human, their ragged bodies bursting with countless bloated insects that writhe amidst the decayed remnants of their flyblown flesh.
As the Lord of Rot, Nurgle is an obvious patron for such vile psykers, though most are schooled in additional paths of power as well. Further, their macabre practices create an unwholesome sympathy with the many grotesque parasites that constitute Nurgle's domain, thereby allowing a Sorcerer-King a greater degree of influence over Nurgle's multifarious maledictions, which they use to dominate the local parasites and huskmen alike.
The most remarkable examples are the great crawling citadels whose rippling edifices heave with the same repulsive tendrils that pervade the Writhing World itself. Such manifest feats of sorcery are testaments to the skill and temperaments of their creators, though most pale in comparison to the ambulatory bastions of the dreaded Biomancer Lords. Regardless, Sorcerer-Kings are fiercely competitive when it comes to their terrifying creations, often unleashing them against each other in titanic struggles of writhing destruction.
Most Sorcerer-Kings spend their time reshaping their immense sanctuaries or roaming the planet's surface in search of additional insights into the mysterious origins of their home world. Others instead seek to further refine their abilities so that they might gain the attention of the powerful Biomancer Lords in the hopes of eventually ruling their heretical brethren, or perhaps even spreading their noxious influence to untainted, new worlds. A vicious few even choose to prey on each other for the power they seek, ripping their victim's knowledge directly from their worm-infested, rotting minds.
A Writhing World Sorcerer-King must be Human.
Characteristic Bonus: +5 Toughness, +5 Intelligence, +5 Willpower, +1d10+15 Corruption Points, and +9 Infamy.
Starting Skills: Awareness, Charm or Deceive or Commerce, Common Lore (Writhing World), Dodge or Parry, Forbidden Lore (Psykers), Forbidden Lore (The Warp) or (Psykers) +10, Intimidate, Inquiry or Interrogation, Linguistics (Chaos Marks) or Logic or Scholastic Lore (Cryptology), Scholastic Lore (Occult) or (Astromancy) or (Legend), Psyniscience.
Starting Traits: Psyker.
Starting Talents: Psy Rating 3, Up to 500 xp worth of Psychic Powers chosen from the Unaligned, Divination, Telepathy, or Telekinesis Disciplines plus 300 xp chosen from any of the above or the Nurgle Powers (see Chapter VI: Psychic Powers in the Black Crusade Core Rulebook), Corpus Conversion, Die Hard, Hardy, Jaded, Resistance (Psychic Powers, Fear), Unshakeable Will or Strong Minded, Weapon Training (Primary, SP), Weapon Training (Las) or (Shock).
Starting Gear: Good Craftsmanship Laspistol or Stub Revolver, Force Staff or Neural Whip, Flak Cloak or Best Quality Chainmail Coat, Flesh-Bound Grimoire (filled with wicked lore).
Wounds: 8 +1d5.
Verminous Necromancer: The Sorcerer-Kings of the Writhing World are powerful psykers whose parasitic maladies further augment their profane abilities. When determining his Psychic Strength (see page 206 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook), a Sorcerer-King counts as Unbound. A Writhing World Sorcerer-King also counts his Psy Rating as 1 higher when attempting to manifest Psychic Powers Aligned to Nurgle.
Worm Master Supreme: Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings are infamous for their ability to weave the countless parasites that squirm throughout their bodies into writhing constructs of segmented flesh. A Writhing World Sorcerer-King can psychically summon one of these gestalt creatures by making a Difficult (-10) Willpower Test as a Full Action. If he succeeds, he calls forth one Writhing Swarm (see page 103), which follows his orders and acts during his Turn. For every Degree of Success he scores on the Test beyond the first, increase the Writhing Swarm's Wounds by 10. He can disperse the swarm as a Half Action or Reaction. At the beginning of each of his Turns during which a swarm is active, the Writhing World Sorcerer-King must dedicate a Half Action to maintaining it or suffer 1d5 Rending Damage ignoring armour and Toughness Bonus as the creatures within him rip free to join the ravening host of invertebrates.
Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings begin play Aligned to Nurgle.
Most Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings choose to penetrate the noxious atmosphere of this disturbingly corrupt planet, and many eventually chose to depart it again. Their reasons for doing so are as varied as the individuals themselves, yet each carries with them a measure of the putrefaction which taints this unnatural world as well as numerous scars from their time amidst its sordid landscape.
The following are examples of Sorcerer-Kings whose cruelty and prodigious sorcerous abilities have earned them infamy throughout the Screaming Vortex.
Grubenth, Lord of the Skies: The seemingly endless throngs of bottle flies that cover the skies of the Writhing World with intriguing patterns and swirling manifestations of disturbing logic hold a peculiar fascination to Nurgle's annointed. Within the Vortex, no one is more knowledgeable about such displays than Grubenth, whose insane, incessant mumblings seem eerily reminiscent of the low droning of those massive swarms. His bloated body and multi-winged stronghold host thousands of the squirming maggots that mirror in these enthralling formations, supposedly allowing him to tap into the otherworldly consciousness drifting idly overhead.
The Gurgeon Mite: The terrifying Gurgeon Mite is the creation of an ancient and esoteric Sorcerer-King who long-ago sought the secrets that lie buried at the Writhing World's core. This myriapod citadel ceaselessly tunnels beneath the planet's segmented exterior, instigating deadly convulsions and emerging at random to feed before quickly scrabbling beneath the slimy, quivering surface. The actual depth achieved by this monstrous creature, as well as the secrets it has uncovered, are sources of endless speculation.
Leach King Hespherash: Hespherash is a cantankerous necromancer whose vicious, fleshy parasites consume the bodies of his victims and absorb their knowledge for his own nefarious gains. His writhing citadel resembles a hydra of ancient legend with numerous palisades each ending in a massive undulating maw. These ferocious orifices have unique methods of digesting their victims; from necrotic bile, to great clamping mandibles, to endless rows of tiny reciprocating dendrites. Once his prey is devoured and every ounce of nutrient extracted, its memories are encapsulated into tiny larvae that slowly burrow deep inside the Sorcerer-King's rotting cortex.
"After disembowelling Sergeant Makrx, those things fell on him like ravenous hounds, their filthy hands tearing bloody chunks of meat from his ruined gut. I will not call them men; men don't eat like that."
— General Mortswain's personal account following the pacification of the Degradant Uprising
Of the various worlds within the Screaming Vortex that exhibit signs of Nurgle's pestilent touch, few are as prominent as the barren and blighted planet of Mire. Here the squalid denizens forage aimlessly amidst endless foetid pools of festering muck and decaying vegetation, their diseased bodies enduring solely due to Nurgle's unnatural ministrations. Perhaps the most dangerous of these are the so-called Death Priests who prey upon their fellow Mirens in order to perpetuate their disgusting adulation of the Plague God's bountiful corruptions. These feculent warriors are highly prized within the debased warbands of the Screaming Vortex, and many opportunistic slavers exploit their infamous enthusiasm for slaughter by luring these voracious killers off-world with promises of fresh carcasses to consume.
Death Priests of Mire are hardy warriors who feed on the bodies of their victims in order to nourish the parasites, diseases, and other foul poxes that writhe in their bloated guts. They believe these afflictions to be a blessing from the Plague Father. On Mire, they see it as their unholy duty to hunt down the so-called "Pyrions" - clean ones - and devour them. After slaying any foe, though, they usually gorge themselves on every scrap of putrescent sustenance to feed the ravenous diseases that wrack their ghoulish forms.
Death Priests are notorious for the frenetic eagerness with which they devour their victims, often violently ripping the flesh with their bare hands in order to assuage their blasphemous appetites. Afterward, they abandon their kill, content in the knowledge that each ravaged carcass is yet another monument to Nurgle's unending bounty. Such is the path of a Death-Priest, and each is content to endure amidst endless decay and ruin while suckling at the font of corruption as their loathsome afflictions flourish and multiply.
Death Priests are pallid, sickly creatures whose emaciated frames, leprous, bubo-pocked skin, and horrifically distended paunches bear witness to the extent of their physical corruption. Like many of Nurgle's servants, they are coated in filth, both from their own diseases and their mud-covered home world, and their touch often carries with it the risk of lethal infection. Yet despite their deathly appearance, they are incredibly savage killers, eagerly stalking their prey with a feverish intensity and remarkable vigour born both of their devotion to Nurgle and the perpetual, ravenous hunger that festers within them.
Most Death Priests favour blades and other melee weapons, which they then coat in their own rancid filth or smear with the rotting offal of their most recent kills; however, those who abandon the desolation of Mire often become surprisingly adept with a number of other grisly weapons. Yet despite this proficiency for killing, most Death Priests view any weapon that destroys the victim's body with contempt, believing such acts to be anathema to their unholy work. To these vile warriors, manifestations of decay and putrefaction are evidence of Nurgle's approval, and many delight in wallowing amidst the foetid, decomposing corpses of the fallen.
A Death Priest of Mire must be Human.
Characteristic Bonus: +5 Strength, +5 Weapon Skill or Perception, +5 Toughness, +15 Corruption Points, and +7 Infamy.
Starting Skills: Athletics +10, Awareness +10, Common Lore (Mire), Dodge, Parry, Dodge +10 or Parry +10, Forbidden Lore (Psykers) or (Daemonology), Interrogation or Command or Intimidate +10, Intimidate, Linguistics (Miren), Navigate (Surface), Navigate Surface +10 or Scholastic Lore (Occult), Survival, Stealth or Survival +10.
Starting Talents: Ambidextrous or Berserk Charge, Betrayer, Cold Hearted, Combat Sense, Die Hard, Disarm or Takedown, Disturbing Voice or Sound Constitution, Frenzy, Furious Assault or Two Weapon Wielder, Hardy, Jaded, Light Sleeper, Resistance (Fear, Poisons), Street Fighting or Unarmed Warrior, Sure Strike, True Grit, Unshakeable Will, Weapon Training (Primary, SP, Las) and (Bolt) or (Chain).
Starting Traits: Toxic (Corruption Bonus).
Starting Gear: Good Craftsmanship Autogun or Shotgun or Scavenged Bolter, Good Craftsmanship Stub Revolver or Poor Craftsmanship Bolt Pistol, Good Craftsmanship Sword or Common Craftsmanship Chainsword, 2 Magazines for Selected Weapons, Flak Jacket, Melee Attachment for one Selected Weapon.
Contaminated Blades: Death Priests often smear their weapons with the rancid remnants of their recent kills and other putrid sources of decay in order to better spread the vile maladies of their diseased patron. As a Full Action, a Death Priest of Mire may make a Routine (+10) Survival Test to coat his own melee weapons and solid projectiles ammunition in filth from a suitable source. These weapons gain the Toxic (2), Corrosive, or Irradiated (2) Quality for a number of Rounds equal to the Death Priest's Degrees of Success on the Survival Test.
Grotesque Appetite: Once per encounter, as a Full Action, a Death Priest of Mire may consume and desecrate a fresh corpse within reach. When he does so, he gains the Unnatural Toughness (1d5) Trait (or increases the value of this Trait by 1d5 if he already possesses it) until the end of the encounter.
Putrescence Within, Putrescence Without: Death Priests of Mire exude all manner of corruption and filth from the many contagions and parasites that fester within their distended guts. Whenever an enemy strikes the Death Priest with a melee attack, the Death Priest may spend an Infamy Point to destroy the weapon that struck him after the attack is resolved. Whether or not the weapon can later be restored through cleansing, devotion, and sacrifice is left to the GM.
Death Priests of Mire begin play Aligned to Nurgle.
Death Priests of Mire are well suited to life within the Screaming Vortex, often earning a fearsome reputation as vicious and accomplished killers despite their savage origins. For those who survive this transition, the Vortex is an endless and enticing smorgasbord of corrupt sustenance, its every morsel oozing with untapped potential for gangrenous new life.
The following are vile examples of Death Priests whose abhorrent practices rank them among the most revolting of the Vortex's denizens.
The Brood Kine: Long ago, a pack of Death Priests discovered a swarm of Nurglings frolicking inside a disease-infested mud pit while wandering the squalid wastes of Mire. Upon beholding these creatures, they immediately turned on each other, hacking their companions apart in order to entice the Daemons with offerings of rancid meat. The survivors are now hosts for this repugnant clutch of spiteful imps, housing them within their filth-lined bowels in order to ensure their continued sustenance.
Calorracts: Few of the Death Priests that brave the sunken, mouldering swamps of Mire's crumbling cave system ever return, most falling victim to ancient toxins and other foul hazards within that accursed darkness. Those who do emerge are greatly feared among the cannibal lords of Mire, for each is bursting with maladies so potent that only the most blessed of the Plague Lord's servants can survive in their presence. They are nearly impossible to kill, often bearing scores of seemingly debilitating wounds which neither hinder nor heal as they relentlessly stalk their prey with sunken, yellow eyes.
The Slavering Synpestulent: The Corpse Reapers are a terrifying warband within the Screaming Vortex known for their brutal raids and the mounds of dead and mutilated left in their wake. The original members were harvested from Mire by a particularly ruthless pirate warlord who now allows his captive Death Priests free reign over any survivors of their raids in exchange for the skulls of the slain. Meanwhile, the unfortunate captives are compelled to join in a revolting feast that lasts for seven days and nights wherein they are force-fed the putrid remains of their dead and dying comrades. Those who survive this horrific ordeal often elect to join their captors in order to satisfy the peculiar, gnawing hunger that now festers inside them.
"Every biological system is prone to failure and eventual cessation; such is the fate of all flesh. I, however, desire a much more intriguing conclusion from such unspoilt specimens."
— Sealed Data, from Observations of Kilpengur the Blighted
The infected hordes that spread Nurgle's virulent worship are legion; however, few who venerate the Plague God are as fascinated with the intricacies of their lord's ghastly benedictions as a Plaguemeister. These deranged individuals arise from a variety of backgrounds and origins, but many inevitably flock to the tortured region known as the Screaming Vortex. Here, Nurgle's faithful regard them with reverent admiration, while others view them as dangerous and reckless sycophants whose foolish obsession will be the death of themselves and countless others.
Plaguemeisters are gruesome and macabre physicians whose unnatural fascination with the many manifestations of Nurgle defines and dominates every facet of their blasphemous lifestyle. They are among his most devoted servants, eagerly examining all manner of virulent maladies in order to identify every manifestation of Nurgle's blessings. That such creations are continuously evolving into more virulent forms is a source of repellent delight to these demented apothecaries, who enthusiastically record each new symptom and strain.
Plaguemeisters believe that Nurgle's greatest achievement is not death, but rather the putrescent afflictions that preserve his servants in a state of deathless entropy. Most hold such gruesome processes and necrotic microbes in high regard, fervently placating themselves before the Plague Lord so that he may grant them new specimens to study and dissect. Of particular interest are individuals that have surrendered themselves to Nurgle's maledictions, and many Plaguemeisters take great joy collecting rancid specimens from these decaying servants.
Plaguemeisters strive to emulate their pestilent patron in their endeavours, gleefully blending their collections of poxes and contagions in order to create deadly, new illnesses through which to spread Nurgle's insidious influence. Some are devious and subtle in their approach, often relying on misdirection and other nefarious tactics to gradually innoculate entire populations with deadly maladies designed to bring about decades of suffering and despair. A daring few are much more reckless in their devotions, unleashing their polluted creations indiscriminately in order to better study the unadulterated effects of their chosen malady. However, most Plaguemeisters have little desire to succumb to their own diseases, and most take preventative steps against this fatal irony. As a result, the severity of each Plaguemeister's personal corruption is often discrete enough to allow him to pass unnoticed among potential victims.
A Plaguemeister must be Human.
Characteristic Bonus: Plaguemeisters gain +10 Intelligence, +5 Toughness, +15 Corruption Points, and +9 Infamy.
Starting Skills: Awareness, Charm, Deceive, Charm +10 or Deceive +10, Common Lore (Any Two), Commerce, Dodge or Parry, Forbidden Lore (Heresy), Forbidden Lore (Psykers) or (The Warp), Forbidden Lore (Any One), Inquiry +10, Interrogation +10, Intimidate +10, Medicae +10, Scholastic Lore (Chymistry) +10, Scholastic Lore (Any One) +10, Security or Tech-Use, Stealth.
Starting Talents: Disturbing Voice or Radiant Presence or Unremarkable, Foresight, Furious Assault, Hardy, Jaded, Lightning Reflexes or Light Sleeper, Mimic or Polyglot or Total Recall, Paranoia, Quick Draw or Sound Constitution, Resistance (Poisons, Fear), Street Fighting or Sure Strike, Total Recall, Unshakeable Will, Weapon Training (Primary, Chain, Power), Weapon Training (Las) or (SP).
Starting Gear: Good Craftsmanship Laspistol or Autopistol, Good Craftsmanship Sword or Common Craftsmanship Chain Dagger or Power Blade, 2 Magazines for Chosen Weapon, Light Carapace Armour or Mesh Combat Cloak, Injector, Medi-Kit, 5 doses of any one Disease (see pages 46-47), Filtration Plugs, Dataslate.
The Wretched Tally: Plaguemeisters take immense joy in studying and cataloguing the Plague God's numerous pestilences and poxes. A Plaguemeister is immune to the Fear Trait of entities Aligned to Nurgle, and may make a Routine (+10) Awareness Test as a Free Action to accurately identify (and catalogue) a creature, weapon, ailment, or sorcery that bears Nurgle's mark. He gains a +30 bonus to Common Lore, Forbidden Lore, and Scholastic Lore Tests, as well as to the Diagnose and Chem-Use Special Uses of the Medicae Skill, that he makes involving creatures, objects, plagues, and poisons that he has previously identified and catalogued.
Malevolent Generosity: Plaguemeisters bestow vile concoctions of pestilence on those afflicted with the curse of mortality. When a Plaguemeister removes Damage from a target with the Medicae Skill, he may spend an Infamy Point to remove additional Damage equal to his Intelligence Bonus and end any Critical Effects the target is suffering. However, any character he heals this way must make a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test; if he fails, roll 1d10 on Table 2-1: Boons of the Plague God and apply the results to the patient.
|1-4||The character develops noxious hives. While grotesque, these are harmless, except to aesthetics and comfort.|
|5||The character becomes infected with the Death's Grasp Disease (see page 46).|
|6||The character becomes infected with the Enfeeble Disease (see page 46).|
|7||Roll 1d10 again. On a result of 7, the character becomes Possessed by a Plaguebearer of Nurgle (see Possessed Heretics on page 56). On any other result, permanently increase the character's Toughness Characteristic by 1d5-3 (minimum 0).|
|8||The character becomes infected with the Nurgle's Breath Disease (see page 47).|
|9||The character becomes infected with the Festering Shroud Disease (see page 47).|
|10||The character gains the Toxic (7) Trait for 7 hours.|
Plaguemeisters begin play Aligned to Nurgle.
Plaguemeisters within the Screaming Vortex are seldom idle, often spending their time incessantly probing the spectacularly gruesome manifestations of pestilence which seem so abundant within this chaotic sector. Such studies are a blight upon nearby Imperial worlds, whose unsuspecting populaces often suffer and die in order to satisfy the macabre fascination of these ghoulish fiends.
The following are examples of Plaguemeisters whose morbid interest in disease has made them objects of revulsion and fear within the Imperium.
Plague Mother Septhrix: Sepharia Tourande was once a figure of great renown within the various medical circles that cater to the lavish decadence of the Imperial Aristocracy. Yet as her influence grew, so too did the numbers of emaciated sycophants who spread her ghastly treatments and heretical rejuvenant techniques. The fallout from her inevitable persecution was devastating, and now she roams the outer reaches of the Screaming Vortex, her corpulent bulk sprawling on a palanquin of soiled finery set upon the shoulders of her seven favourite ghouls.
Rheumalicae Surpetiss: Rheumalicae is a particularly wicked chymist whose fascination with the bonds of addiction has allowed him to reap a horrendous tally of souls in Nurgle's name. His diseases are incredibly subtle in nature, often taking decades to slowly dissolve their victims from within, while the various stimulants and narcotics which flow through the victims' bloodstream inure them to the pain of their chronic condition. Eventually, as the necrotic toxins take their toll, Rheumalicae begins their indoctrination in the ways of his vile patron with promises of eternal freedom from the torments of their rotting frames.
The Forlorn Hope: Medicae Cruisers are common within the Departmento Munitorum, often seeing extensive service during the many brutal offensives perpetrated in the Emperor's name. The Forlorn Hope was one such vessel; however, its massive surgery theatres and pristine apothecariums were swiftly overwhelmed with contagion following a cataclysmic brush with Chaos renegades. The valiant crew fought desperately against this nightmarish pathogen that crammed the ship's holds with the dead and dying, but they could not stem the implacable tide of corruption, and so Nurgle's champions won a terrible victory for their dread patron.
"Moments from now you will be little more than a puddle of slime. But worry not, for your death shall bring about the creation of many new and horrifying diseases."
— S'Thall, Blight Prince of Nurgle
Nurgle weapons are terrifying to behold. Unlike the shimmering weapons of Tzeentch, the excessive beauty of Slaaneshi weapons or the simple brutality of Khornate arms, Nurgle's blessed weapons are blighted and malformed implements of sheer horror. There is no mistaking their purpose: the spread of death and contagions in the name of the Plague Father. Their wielders are the reapers of a grim harvest, and put their patron god's favoured instruments to use with an inexorable vigour.
This section covers a number of technologies and objects corrupted and infused with the putrid power craved by Nurgle's worshippers within the Vortex. Most of the weapons and wargear found within these pages relate in some way to the Chaos God Nurgle - the Lord of Decay - as well as the worlds within the Vortex where Nurgle holds the most sway.
When a target is struck by an attack from a weapon with the Corrosive Quality, the Armour Points of any armour worn by the target in that Hit Location are reduced by 1d10 points. If the Armour Points of the armour fall below 0 or the target has no armour in that Hit Location, the target suffers additional Damage equal to the amount by which the Corrosive Quality's effect exceeded his armour, ignoring Toughness bonus. The effects of a Corrosive weapon can reduce a target's armour multiple times, and the effect is cumulative. Damaged armour can be repaired with a successful Challenging (+0) Tech-Use Test.
Any living creature that suffers Critical Damage (including Damage from Zealous Hatred) from this weapon must make a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test with penalty equal to 10 times X or perish as it collapses into an amorphous puddle of sludge.
When a character is struck by an attack from this weapon (whether or not he suffers Damage) he must immediately make a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test with penalty equal to 10 times X or suffer 2d10 Toughness Damage.
Weapons blessed by Nurgle often appear as though ready to crumble or break. Their decrepit forms belie their true lethality, however. Even the slightest cut can bring death to thousands. Infused with plagues created within the depths of Nurgle's Garden, the Fly Lord's weapons dispense infections and maladies to all those who refuse the Plague Father's gifts. Some of these weapons are Daemon Weapons, which are described on page 194 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook.
Rumoured to be the original Plague Swords created not long after Nurgle came into being, the ancient Fathers of Blades have spent millennia spreading corruption. Their cracked and rusted lengths deaden the senses of those nearby, and any who mistime their swings find their attacks deflected off its corroded edge.
The Father of Blades is a one-handed Daemon Weapon with Willpower 77 and a Binding Strength of 4. It has the Bile-Quenched, Pestilent Stench, and Plague Carrier attributes. Whenever the wielder successfully Parries a Melee Attack made against him and scores 5 or more Degrees of Success, the attacker immediately suffers a single hit as if he had struck himself with his own weapon. Only those dedicated to Nurgle can wield a Father of Blades.
Iconic weapons of Nurgle's greatest champions, Manreapers are the Daemon-infused relics of the Death Guard Legion. Many Plague Cults go to great lengths to acquire or even forge their own, and the Daemons that inhabit these cruel weapons draw power from the filth surrounding the Plague God's throne.
A Manreaper is a two-handed Daemon Weapon with Willpower 57 and a Binding Strength of 3. It has the Accursed and Herald of Decay attributes. Whenever the wielder makes a Charge or All-Out Attack Action with a Manreaper, he may inflict a single hit identical to the first on one additional target in range for every two Degrees of Success he scores on the Test after the first. A Best Craftsmanship Manreaper also has the Force Quality. Only those dedicated to Nurgle can wield a Manreaper.
A mucus-covered length of rotting wood and rusting metal, the Pandemic Staff constantly seeps bile and other horrific substances. Acting as a vessel for some of Nurgle's most virulent plagues, the Pandemic Staff unleashes a torrent of filth toward any who would deny the Fly Lord's perfection.
A Pandemic Staff is a two-handed Daemon Weapon with Willpower 34 and a Binding Strength of 2. It has the Stream of Corruption attribute. Only those dedicated to Nurgle can wield a Pandemic Staff.
Seen in the hands of dreaded Plague Marines, the Plague Knife is a long, thin blade caked with grime and dripping with disease. Small cuts can transform into raging infections within seconds, and the blade can fell even the largest of creatures with a single swipe.
A Plague Knife is a one-handed Legion Weapon.
Part censer, part weapon, the Pestilent Flail spreads contagion as it sails through the air, a thick green cloud following each strike. Anyone trained in the weapon's use are true monsters in close quarters, able to quickly kill whilst masking their movements with the haze that emanates from the weapon.
Whenever a Heretic makes a Melee Attack with a Pestilent Flail, he gains a +10 bonus to Dodge Tests until the end of his next Turn. Any Heretic not dedicated to Nurgle suffers 1 Damage (ignoring armour and Toughness Bonus) whenever he makes an attack with a Pestilent Flail.
|Father of Blades†||Melee||-||2d10+3 R||4||Toxic (7), Unbalanced||7kg||Near Unique|
|Manreaper†||Melee||-||2d10+7 R||7||Felling (5), Power Field, Toxic (2), Unbalanced||8kg||Near Unique|
|Pandemic Staff (Melee)||Melee||-||1d10+3 I||0||Balanced, Decay (4), Toxic (3)||4kg||Near Unique|
|Pandemic Staff (Ranged)||Basic||30m||2d10+3 I||0||Corrosive, Recharge, Spray, Toxic (3)||4kg||Near Unique|
|Plague Knife†||Melee||-||1d10 R||2||Felling (4), Toxic (3)||2kg||Extremely Rare|
|Pestilent Flail†||Melee||5m||2d10+6 E||4||Concussive (1), Flexible, Unwieldy||6kg||Extremely Rare|
†This weapon has additional rules. See full rules for more details.
Those that have chosen the path of decay know that there are many different ways to spread the Plague Father's gifts. The Blight Grenade is perhaps the most well known, but there are many devices capable of saturating an area with toxins as well as ancient technologies that spread death slowly and painfully.
As lethal to create as they are to use, Foulswarm Grenades contain a foul concoction whose true nature is known only to the most pox-blessed Plaguemeisters of the Screaming Vortex. Sealed with wicked alchemy and fell curses of rot, these weapons produce an acrid, seething haze upon detonation that drifts outward like a ravenous cloud of flies, inexorably enveloping and putrefying everything it touches.
Whenever a creature begins its Turn in the cloud of smoke created by the Smoke Quality of a Foulswarm Grenade, it suffers a single automatic hit that inflicts 2d10 Impact Damage with the Corrosive and Toxic (3) Qualities.
Difficult to find and manufacture, Rad Grenades contain tiny radioactive particles that blink out of existence within a second of exposure to air. Despite the short duration effects, the cellular ruination they cause is often enough to leave the toughest of foes gasping as radiation saps their vitality.
Similar to Rad Grenades, Rad Missiles spread their lethal cargo over a wider area.
|Foulswarm Grenade†||Thrown||SBx3||S/-/-||2d10 X||6||Blast (3), Corrosive, Smoke (6), Toxic (3)||1.5kg||Extremely Rare|
|Rad Grenade||Thrown||SBx3||S/-/-||1d10 E||0||Blast (2), Irradiated (2)||1kg||Very Rare|
|Rad Missile||-||-||-||1d10+4 E||2||Blast (4), Irradiated (4)||2kg||Extremely Rare|
† This weapon has additional rules. See full rules for more details.
These ammunition types are obtained in full clips and not individually unless otherwise noted.
Made in small quantities on a handful of Screaming Vortex worlds, the Bloodrot Round contains a few drops of the same noxious brew that fills Foulswarm Grenades. Hand-loaded into Heavy Bolters, these rounds decimate clumps of enemy infantry and render areas too dangerous to pass. Bloodrot Rounds change the Heavy Bolter's profile to the following: (Heavy; 80m; S/-/-; 3d10 X ; Pen 6; Blast , Corrosive, Smoke , Toxic ).
Whenever a creature begins its Turn in the cloud of smoke created by the Smoke Quality of a Bloodrot Round, it suffers a single automatic hit that inflicts 2d10 Impact Damage with the Corrosive and Toxic (3) Qualities.
Scourge Shells have many names across the Screaming Vortex - Tox Slugs, V-Rounds, and so on - but all variants retain similar methods of construction and use. Scourge Shells are hollow, allowing their users to fill them with various toxic concoctions.
Shotguns using Scourge Shells lose the Scatter Quality, but increase their Penetration by 2 and gain the Razor Sharp Quality. Additionally, a Heretic may load a clip of Scourge Shells with any Disease or toxin he has on hand as a Full Action by making a Routine (+20) Medicae Test (using the Chem-Use Special Use of the Skill). If he succeeds, any character who suffers Damage from the Scourge Shell also suffers any effects of the Disease or poison planted in it.
|Bloodrot Rounds||Heavy Bolter, Legion Heavy Bolter||Extremely Rare|
|Scourge Shells||Assault Shotguns, Legion Shotguns, Shotguns||Rare|
A twisted fusion of rotting flesh and corroded machinery, a Plague Claw launches a pulsating tube with a barbed claw at the end that punches through armour and flesh and spews all manner of toxins directly into the target's body.
A Plague Claw grants a +10 bonus on Medicae Tests for the Diagnose and Chem-Use Special Uses of the Skill, and can be used to store and hold samples of various plagues, toxins, and other foul concoctions pleasing to the Lord of Disease. A Heretic with a Plague Claw always counts as being armed with a weapon with the Weapon Profile: (Melee; 1d10+2 I; Pen 2; Decay (3), Tearing). This weapon can be loaded with any Disease or toxin as a Full Action; until the end of the encounter, any character who suffers Damage from it suffers the effects of the loaded malady. Only a character dedicated to Nurgle can wield a Plague Claw. A Heretic does not need to have the Mechanicus Implants Trait to have this cybernetic installed.
Moreso than even the weapons of Nurgle, the tools and artefacts in service to the Plague God's minions show signs of corruption that can wilt the spirit of the most pious. Their original forms often lost behind centuries of bubbling decay, these devices have lost none of their potency, and in fact seem to draw strength from the stench of death.
Once-proud banners, badges, or other mighty totems of faith, the Icons of Seeping Decay have long since lost any regal visage and instead drip with the corruption of Nurgle, slowing those that would stand against him and strengthening those that walk the path of filth. An Icon of Seeping Decay is a large Icon and must either be carried in one hand or affixed to a sturdy backpack.
All characters aligned to Nurgle within a number of metres equal to the Heretic's Willpower Bonus count their Agility Bonus as 1 higher and may make a Difficult (-10) Toughness Test at the start of each of their Turns to remove 1 level of Fatigue. All other characters within that area count their Agility Bonus as 1 lower (to a minimum of 1) and must pass a Challenging (+0) Willpower Test at the start of each of their Turns or gain 1 level of Fatigue. The Icon only functions when carried by a character dedicated to Nurgle.
Rotten to the core, those implanted with an Undead Heart become living masses of corruption. As they suffer injury, new afflictions sprout to form layers of scar-flesh, protecting the wearer from harm and healing almost any injury.
A Heretic implanted with such terrible sorcery gains the Regeneration (1d5) and The Stuff of Nightmares Traits. Implanting such a device requires a Hard (-30) Medicae Test and takes hours; if the character attempting the operation fails, reduce the would-be recipient's Toughness Characteristic by 1d5 as a result of the failed surgery. These arcane contraptions cannot be removed without destroying their hosts irrevocably.
|Icon of Seeping Decay||7kg||Very Rare|
There is no end to Nurgle's creativity when it comes to new ailments, and many of Nurgle's followers create their own versions of the Great Corruptor's putrid handiwork and grant them to anyone foolish enough to refuse Nurgle's benevolence. Heretics may load the Diseases listed below into a number of items featured in this section. Heretics acquire Diseases in batches of 5 doses.
A character is exposed to a Disease whenever he suffers Damage from a weapon imbued with that Disease or a specific effect of the disease triggers an exposure. Alternatively, characters can be exposed by inhaling, ingesting, or making direct contact with infected substances (at the GM's discretion). Typically, a character must make a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test when exposed to a Disease to avoid catching it.
Victims unfortunate to contract Death's Grasp live a pathetic life at the very edge of death. Sapped of all energy, any task they perform might be their last.
Effects: A character infected with this Disease cannot remove Levels of Fatigue. Whenever he gains a level of Fatigue, each other character within 1d10 metres is also exposed to the Disease (and must make the Test to resist it). If a character slips into Unconsciousness due to excessive levels of Fatigue while infected with this Disease, he perishes. Characters dedicated to Nurgle can carry this Disease, but can still remove levels of Fatigue as normal while infected.
Treatment: Curing Death's Grasp requires constant rest for at least a week, at the end of which the character may make a Routine (+20) Toughness Test; if he succeeds, he recovers, but if he fails, he remains infected and gains 1 level of Fatigue.
Enfeeble is a brutal malady that slowly corrodes the victim's bones into dust. Many of Nurgle's most dedicated devotees inject themselves with the virulent plague, seeing death as the ultimate expression of devotion.
Effects: A character infected by Enfeeble suffers 1d5 Agility Damage each time he takes a Full Action or two Half Actions during one of his Turns during Structured Time, or whenever he takes strenuous action during Narrative Time. Characters dedicated to Nurgle suffer the effects of this Disease as normal, though they rarely view it as "suffering", instead revelling in the wracking affliction.
Treatment: To be cured of Enfeeble, a character must remove all of the Agility Damage (see page 256 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook) the disease has caused through rest or other means.
Festering Shroud is an insidious blight first encountered by voidship crews entering the Lower Vortex. Exceptionally contagious, those that contract the disease find their bodies converted into chimneys of pestilence, spreading a vile miasma wherever they go.
Effects: A character infected by Festering Shroud constantly emits an unnatural green fog that spreads around him in a 7-metre diameter cloud. At the end of each 24-hour period for which he has the disease, a character must make a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test; if he fails, his flesh putrefies, collapsing in on itself in a vile torrent. Roll 1d5 on a randomly determined Impact Critical Effect Table (see pages 252-253 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook), adding +1 to the roll for every Degree of Failure he scored on the Test beyond the first and apply the result. Whenever another character enters the cloud, he must make a Routine (+20) Toughness Test or contract the Disease. Characters dedicated to Nurgle can carry this Disease but do not suffer the portions of any Critical Effect the Disease causes them that would cause them to suffer Blood Loss or die.
Treatment: Curing Festering Shroud requires constant rest for at least a week and a successful Challenging (+0) Medicae Check on the part of the character or a healer.
Sometimes seen as a boon, Nurgle's Breath is popular among many Plague Cults for its ability to propagate quickly. However, those who understand the infection know that death lurks around the corner each time the afflicted use this most contagious "gift".
Effects: A character infected by Nurgle's Breath gains a new attack with the following profile: (Pistol; 10m; S/-/-; Dam 2d10 E; Pen 2; Corrosive, Spray, Toxic ). This attack cannot Jam, but if the character ever rolls two results of 7 on the Damage dice, he immediately explodes in a disgusting shower of pus and slimy gore. Obviously, he dies, and each character within 3d10 metres suffers an immediate hit from the weapon. Any character who fails a Toughness Test to resist the Toxic Quality from Nurgle's Breath contracts the Disease. Characters dedicated to Nurgle suffer the effects of this Disease as normal, though they rarely view it as "suffering".
Treatment: Curing Nurgle's Rot requires constant rest for at least two weeks and a successful Hard (-20) Medicae Check on the part of the character or a healer.
|Death's Grasp||Very Rare|
|Nurgle's Breath||Extremely Rare|
Plague Cults often summon Plaguebearers to help them in the spreading of disease and corruption. Obsessed with counting and cataloguing every contagion ever created, Plaguebearers welcome any chance to push through to the mortal realm.
Requirements: The ritual must take place in an area touched by disease and the stench of death, and requires a roughly carved circle marked with icons devoted to Nurgle while cauldrons of putrid bubbling liquids fill the entire area with a horrid stench. Rotting corpses - they needn't be human - should form a pile at the centre. A single adult human, their body untouched by disease or illness, should sit atop the pile of corpses, ready to absorb all the filth and become the window through which the Plaguebearer emerges. The ritual requires a Hard (-20) Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) Test, modified per Table 6-7: Summoning Ritual Modifiers (see page 229 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook). If successful, then the Heretic must make a Daemonic Mastery Test to control the Plaguebearer.
Effects: A Plaguebearer (see page 355-356 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook) appears in the summoning circle.
Duration: The Plaguebearer remains corporeal for 1d5+5 rounds, plus an additional round for every additional Degree of Success on the Test. Areas where the veil between reality and the Warp is thin might extend this duration. Heretics may summon the Daemon for a specific task (at the GM's discretion), in which case it remains corporeal long enough to accomplish the task.
Cost: Whether successful or not, the Heretic must roll on Table 6-2: Psychic Phenomena (see page 210 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook) and immediately apply the results. Additionally, each character involved in the ritual must pass a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test or gain 1d5 levels of Fatigue, doubling over and choking on the waves of smog and clouds of flies that accompany the Daemon's arrival.
The Price of Failure: Failure results in a roll for Contempt of the Warp (see page 227 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook), modified by +10 for every Degree of Failure beyond the first.
The following Traits are for Nurglesque Daemon Engines.
Surrounding the engine is a visible and tangible aura made of maggot-flies, poisonous wasps, and corpse locusts.
Ranged Attacks against this Daemon Engine suffer a -10 penalty. This is a Daemonic Shield.
Armoured panels fall away to reveal the constantly regenerating toxic mess within the Daemon Engine's shell.
The value of the Daemon Engine's Size Trait increases by 1 (to a maximum of 10) and it gains the Regeneration (1d10) Trait.
The Flesh Cage launches sticky knots of decaying bodies fused together with noxious sludge. However, its true terror comes from the victims it leaves alive, stuck in the mass of atrophied limbs.
The Daemon Engine gains a weapon with the profile: (Heavy; 100m; S/-/-; 1d10+7 X; Pen 2; Blast (5), Inaccurate, Snare (4), Toxic (2)). Any character hit by the Flesh Cage must immediately make a Fear Test against a Fear Rating of 3.
This Daemon Engine's "face" is bloated or skeletal, scabrous or raw, and whatever the specifics, utterly horrifying. To all who behold it, this Daemon Engine is a grim reminder of the fate of all things that draw breath.
Increase the value of this Daemon Engine's Fear Trait by +1.
Mists of putrescence surround and follow the engine in its wake, causing slow death to those who inhale the fumes.
Any living creature not protected by an environmental seal that begins its Turn within 15 metres of the Daemon Engine must make a Hard (-20) Toughness Test or suffer 1d5 Toughness Damage.
The Daemon Engine's mouth opens to reveal a gaping pit of nothingness. A moment later, anything unfastened races towards the Daemon Engine, vanishing into the darkened maw.
The Daemon Engine gains a weapon with the profile: (Heavy; 10m; S/-/-; 1d10 E; Pen 0; Spray). Any creature with a Size Trait with a value lower than that of the Daemon Engine that is struck by this weapon must make an Ordinary (+10) Strength Test or be pulled a number of metres equal to its Degrees of Failure on the Test toward the entropic abyss yawning open before it. If a creature is pulled into the void, it is slain instantly (Heretics can cheat death using Infamy in the usual way). Any unsecured objects in range with a Size Trait with a value lower than that of the Daemon Engine are sucked into its maw as well, vanishing forever.
The engine is capable of harnessing the power of the Warp into a short but potent blast that astronomically accelerates the rate of entropy in anything it touches.
The Daemon Engine gains a weapon with the profile: (Heavy; 80m; S/-/-; 2d10+8 E; Pen 8; Decay (7), Recharge).
The following Gifts are for Daemon Princes Aligned to Nurgle.
One of the Daemon Prince's hands swells and drips with all manner of foetid liquids, gases, and slimes.
The Daemon Prince gains a weapon with the profile: (Melee; 1d10+7 I; Pen 0; Decay (7)). Death's Hand cannot be Disarmed or destroyed, and does not prevent the hand from performing other tasks. The Daemon Prince chooses which hand gains this Gift.
Mutated and twisted almost beyond recognition, the Daemon Prince sunders everything in his wake.
The Daemon Prince selects a number of Talents/Traits equal to his current Toughness Bonus (including Unnatural Toughness, but not bonuses from the Daemonic Trait) from the following list: Baleful Dirge, Corpus Conversion†, Disturbing Voice, Fear (+1), Hardy, Size (+1), Sound Constitution††, True Grit. Additionally, the Daemon Prince cannot use the Run Action.
†Although they are not human, Nurgle Daemon Princes practise sorcery that allows this ritual to function.
††The Daemon Prince may select this Talent up to 3 times, each time counting towards his maximum number of chosen Talents/Traits.
Riddled with nauseating diseases, touching the Daemon Prince's skin causes instant infections.
The Daemon Prince gains the Toxic (4) Trait and his unarmed attacks gain the Corrosive, Toxic (4), and Irradiated (4) Qualities.
The Daemon Prince receives a lesser boon of Nurgle that, whilst putrid, provides only a hint of the joyous putrefaction the Plague God provides.
The Daemon Prince selects a single Reward of Nurgle (See pages 300-301 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook) from the following list: Corpulent Immensity, Daemonic Name, Face of Nurgle, Nurgle's Rot, Nurgling Infestation. He can select this Gift multiple times, but cannot choose a Reward he already possesses.
Swelling to massive proportions, the Daemon Prince transforms into a mountain of rotting flesh.
The Daemon Prince increases his Size by 1, gains 14 Armour Points on all locations (replacing existing armour), the Regeneration (7) Trait, and ignores Difficult Terrain when moving. He reduces his Agility by 40 (to a minimum of 7), and cannot make Evasion Tests. A Daemon Prince with this Gift cannot use or benefit from Daemonic Flight or the Unnatural Agility Trait.
|Lord of Decay||15|
A Black Crusade dedicated to Nurgle fights not only with weapons and armies, but with one of the most basic principles of the universe - entropy. The vanguard of such a war effort is not soldiers or ships, but plague, despair, and decay. The warhosts of Nurgle play the long game in battle, knowing that all things crumble in time. With a little help from plagueships, and some judicious sabotage, the enemies of the Fly Lord starve in their fortresses as they find their supply lines become a vector for new corruption. Forces opposing the Black Crusade suffer -1 to rolls on Table 3-7: Enemy Reinforcements (see page 84) each Crusade Turn. However, the Warmaster's forces suffer -10 to Opposed Conflict Value Tests during the first Crusade Turn fighting in a new Territory, as they have not yet had time to let their favoured weapons do their work.
In order to lead a Black Crusade dedicated to Nurgle, the Warmaster must command at least three Fleets, and possess some means of corrupting the Imperium's supply lines (either one or more Cults or Cabals dedicated to Nurgle, or a unique advantage such as Plague Cauldrons. See Adjudicating Unique Forces on page 77).
"Your boasts are empty, little sorcerer. All eventually fall to the Grandfather, no matter how they might scheme or plot."
— Gullivox Arcul, Plaguemeister of the Burrowing Flies
It is easy to believe that the Screaming Vortex exists eternally, for here, time rarely flows in a coherent path. Cyclopean statuaries, carved with unfathomable runes that burn the soul, seem to predate the parched worlds of their residence. Ancient chests wrapped in chains, drifting between blind stars, contain scrolls depicting civilisations thriving beneath stars that are frozen clouds that have yet to ignite. There is only debate as to its beginning, and even the most powerful scryers have not foreseen its cessation. For those who follow the Pestilent Lord, though, such matters are of little concern. With their god there is the certainty that all things have an ending and rebirth, and in both there is only Nurgle.
His foetid influences are most readily felt in areas where the Vortex dips too deeply into the Warp and melds into insane foams of madness. No region is exempt, however, for wherever there is life and purpose there is decay and ruin. His chants echo across the stars, the graven tones thumping like the beating of some vast heart that pumps Nurgle's essence across the Vortex. Tendrils of ætheric rot carry the pealing of his heavy, rusted bells, announcing new plagues for the glory of the God of Decay. Flies cloud the skies, dimming native sunlight beneath the weight of billions of choking insects. He proudly rules his pestilent worlds where there is no life but that which feeds upon decay, and flesh morbidly continues past the point where life should flee screaming from the obscenity it has become.
Nurgle's power waxes and wanes with life and death, always at its height just when life and hope is at its apogee. His greatest plagues emerge in these times, bringing the glories of decay throughout the stars. Loremancers still furtively whisper of the Necrosis, one such event that nearly drowned the Screaming Vortex many millennia ago, when times spoke of the greatest of empires and mightiest of warlords. Appearing from beyond the farthest reaches of the Vortex, it grew in energy as it churned across the Anteciduals. Pestilent waves poured over worlds in noxious showers, leaving only capering Nurglings and sonorous Plaguebearers to tally the dead and the diseases that felled them.
It finally roared through the Frozen Heart and crashed into the centre of this damned realm in a crescendo that reverberated throughout the Vortex. Stars had their burning atmospheres blown into the void, leaving only cold, barren cores of rusted iron. Planets were torn into listless debris, what life that could survive was reduced to base fungi. The befouling wave appeared exhausted, perhaps vented into the space that surrounds the Vortex, and new planets emerged from the receding effects to remake the realm. Yet those left behind, their souls forever touched by Nurgle's mouldering gaze, knew even as they eventually succumbed, that there is no real finality except for their god's inevitable dominion over all.
"Subject 1379-a; this creature exhibits enlarged mandibles, powerful biting reflex, and becomes highly aggressive during vivisection. Would suggest subject pacification before next round of examinations."
— Magos Biologis Devran Saar, now called the Entomancer
Pyurultide hangs in the void like a suppurating wound, a pustulant boil amidst the stars, a blight in space even amongst the varied and terrible wonders of the Screaming Vortex. Clutched forever to Nurgle's rotting breast, Pyurultide stands as a shining example of his paternal love; a festering reminder to all who survey it of the inevitability of decay, the state to which all things must eventually pass.
The planet itself is wreathed in miasmal clouds of toxic vapour. Centuries of biological and chemical warfare by its decayed inhabitants have rendered the atmosphere near-lethal. While still barely breathable, prolonged exposure will spell death as surely as any conventional weapon. Certain areas of the surface are completely lethal. The various gases and corrosive compounds, having settled into pockets of lingering death, consume the unwary in mere moments. Beneath these poisonous clouds, the scars of Pyurultide's legacy of destruction cover its surface. A soup of mud and flesh, pulverised into a near liquid state by artillery bombardments, covers the planet. Rusting hulks of shattered tanks, APCs, and other war machines dot the morass like islands jutting out of a sea of rot. Abandoned earthworks and trench lines riddle the surface, snaking between ruined bunkers and twisted forests of rusting razorwire.
Nearer the centre of each continent, larger, more intact buildings begin to appear. The ruins of what once may have been cities emerge from the ever-present smog of pollutants and poison gases. These ruins stand in stark contrast to the rest of the planet's structures, showing a curious degree of artistry in the design. Soaring towers, now broken and blasted, speak of an ancient history that valued form over function. Wide boulevards and elegant plazas suggest that once a race of beings lived here that did not favour destruction but instead aspired to loftier goals of art and perfection. The impact craters and rotting bodies of the dead stand in mute testament that those days are long gone.
Away from the ruined cities, with their enigmatic designs and centuries-old secrets, lurks another curiosity, one of an altogether more loathsome aspect. Pyurultide possesses no oceans. No vast expanses of water separate the continents and no briny depths fill the yawning voids between lands, instead a living mass washes against the various coasts: a sea of insects.
Clouds of foul, chitinous bodies, ceaseless trillions in number, writhe between the land masses. A teeming mass of life so huge as to be incomprehensible to normal minds, it crawls, flutters, and squirms in great tides across the face of the planet. The great swarms are completely inimical to life, comprised of countless species that bite, sting, saw, or spurt; they are capable of killing a human and stripping the flesh from bone in seconds. The various Pox Tribes that dwell on Pyurultide know to stay away from the coasts, but even distance is no guarantee of safety. On occasion, the vast living sea has swept inland, like a tsunami of creeping death. Engulfing any unlucky enough to be caught in its path, these hideous tidal waves of clicking mandibles and buzzing wings wreak unfathomable destruction, before losing cohesion and dissipating, often miles inland. Survivors emerging from their makeshift shelters find nothing but gore-splattered bones and countless billions of insect husks.
Despite the terrible fate that awaits any who approach the living sea, many foolhardy heretics have tried their luck at plumbing its depths. Rumours abound of lost relics, stable Warp gates and other great treasures languishing deep within the insect ocean. Pirate lords and aspiring champions of the Ruinous Powers speak of the fabled Tyrant's Cord and its legendary ties to the planet. Other, wiser minds instead talk of the mythical Daemon Hives, great spawning chambers of nightmarish proportions that constantly squirm with noisome life. Billions of larvae and pupae suckle blindly at the glistening nutrient pools before growing into foul adulthood and emerging into the swarm. But worse, they speak of the terrible hive centres where the colossal Queens nest, endlessly producing eggs to feed the never-ending sea, and guarded by thousands of drones and specially adapted soldier species.
Despite its caustic atmosphere and deadly oceans, Pyurultide is not devoid of human life. In fact, it supports a population of similar size to most other planets in the Screaming Vortex and, similar to those planets, the Pox Tribes that live here have been forged in the crucible of suffering. Centuries ago, two distinct factions existed on Pyurultide, the ancestors of what would one day become the Pox Tribes and a race of beings now referred to as the Shining Ones. As with a great many mysteries of the Vortex, who or what the Shining Ones were and what became of them is lost, existing now only as myth and rumour. Many believe they were an ancient and now long-dead race similar to the Eldar, others that they were simply humans from a different part of the galaxy, drawn into the Vortex by the whim of the Ruinous Powers.
Whatever the truth, it is known that they were a technologically advanced race, possessing arms and equipment similar to that of the hated Imperium. It is widely believed they lived in the great cities at the centre of each continent; many Vortex scholars go so far as to attribute the construction of those cities to them as well. It is also known they warred with the degenerate Pox Tribes that lived further out towards the coasts.
The Pox Tribes long venerated Grandfather Nurgle, seeing his divine hand in the great living seas that plagued their every moment. They saw the elegant Shining Cities as an affront to Nurgle's putrid majesty. Uniting together, the tribes launched a vicious attack on their hated enemies. At first, the Shining Ones' technological superiority gave them a significant advantage. Against the simple weapons of the Pox Tribes they saw no real threat. But the Lord of Decay's blessing granted the Pox Tribes a monstrous durability. They were able to withstand the terrible injuries before succumbing, enduring the weapons of the Shining Ones, seemingly without pain or disability. Very soon, the Shining Ones were beginning to retreat. The Pox Tribes seized their fallen weapons and drove them deep inside the cities, exterminating them and bringing the beauteous towers to ruin. The final fate of the Shining Ones is unknown; many believe they were simply wiped out by the victorious Pox Tribes, but one theory suggests they survived by embracing the favour of the Fly Lord.
Following the victory over the Shining Ones, the Pox Tribes began to feud amongst themselves. A second war broke out as the once-unified Tribes broke apart, unable to coexist. This second war continues today, centuries later. The death toll is beyond counting, but this is no mindless slaughter like those perpetrated by the minions of the Blood God, nor is this a tactical masterwork of feint and counter with each side jostling for the advantage. The war on Pyurultide is a slow, inexorable march toward oblivion, a meat grinder where a thousand souls a day are cast aside so one army can move ten feet of trench line. The technology of the past is long gone, replaced with the most basic las and solid projectile weapons the Pox Tribes can scrounge together. Sometime past the tribes unleashed deadly viral and chemical weapons against each other in an attempt to gain an advantage. These awful creations, while pleasing to Grandfather Nurgle, have scarred the planet, resulting in the corrosive clouds of death that now shroud the planet.
Constant exposure to the caustic air, a lifetime of struggling stalemate, and Nurgle's own beneficent gifts have wreaked awful changes on the Tribes. Mutations of the most repellent kind are commonplace: suppurating sores, clawed limbs, twisted backs, and melted flesh adorn every tribesman. Many have become fused with their weapons and equipment, diseased flesh has grown over gas masks and trigger guards with a revolting fecundity. Many tribesmen have swollen to enormous size, becoming tumescent bulges of rotting flesh or towering monsters of claws and oozing muscle.
Amongst the most successful tribes, Blight Drones have begun to appear. The arrival of these foul Daemon Engines is a mystery, with many of the Pox Tribes believing it is a sign of Nurgle's favour, or of hidden Warp-infused manufactorums recently discovered. Whatever the truth, the Blight Drones move across the shattered landscape sowing revulsion and death wherever they pass. These Daemon-machine hybrids are of particular interest to one denizen of Pyurultide, a secretive figure of myth and fabrication known as the Entomancer.
The creature now referred to as the Entomancer was once a respected and knowledgeable Magos Biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus called Devran Saar. Part of an Explorator fleet, he was tasked with cataloguing and classifying new species of flora and fauna during the Angevin Crusade. Absorbed with his work and freed from the petty concerns of morality and emotion, Saar excelled, successfully adding thousands of entries into the datavaults of his fleet. As the crusade pressed on and the Calixis Sector began to take shape, Saar's Explorator fleet grew too bold and voyaged beyond the Imperium's speartip. They encountered a devastating Warpstorm that ravaged the fleet, ripping vessels asunder and scattering the survivors across the length and breadth of the galaxy. Saar's deteriorating vessel limped back into realspace deep with the Screaming Vortex.
Swiftly caught by reavers, Saar was lucky to escape with his life, piloting one of the few remaining lifeboats away from his stricken ship and down toward the nearest planet, Pyurultide. Finding the planet to be entirely unsuitable for prolonged exposure, Saar sought refuge in a nearby ruined tower of strangely beautiful design. Over the next few days, Saar encountered soldiers of the various Pox Tribes as they fought their war without end. Saar slew several of them and used what little equipment he had left to rebuild them into servitors of a sort. Seeing these horrors, the Pox Tribes learned to avoid Saar's tower, cursing it as haunted or populated by angry Daemons. Fascinated by the tribesmen's mighty endurance and increased pain threshold, he began to study them as a new species.
Saar's life continued in this vein for some time until he encountered a tsunami of the Living Sea. The billions of insects he witnessed filled him with something akin to divine rapture; his mind snapped and he became obsessed with studying the Living Sea, attempting to catalogue every last species within.
Now centuries old, the entity that calls itself "the Entomancer" is quite mad. The entropic atmosphere of Pyurultide and the buckling effects of the Vortex itself have altered Saar's body and implants warping him into an odious conglomeration of man, machine, and insect. His obsessive desires have driven him to make dark pacts with dozens of minor Daemons and petty warlords across the Vortex in order to prolong his life and obtain specimens for study. Those who fail him are soon added to his ever-growing empire of mind-scrubbed automatons or, worse still, bait for the eternally hungry living sea.
Game Masters in possession of the Black Crusade GM's Screen might be familiar with Pyurultide and its denizens, history, and links to the mythic artefact known as the Tyrant's Cord. The events of Rivals for Glory assume that the heretics did not immediately travel to Pyurultide following their successful acquisition of the Tyrant's Cord.
In addition to its various powers, the Tyrant's Cord is a symbol of profound significance to many of the Pox Tribes on Pyurultide. Once owned by the leaders of the Shining Ones, it bestowed upon them terrible allure and the ability to bend others to their wills, allowing them to dominate a huge portion of the planet. Following the war with the Pox Tribes and their eventual defeat, the Tyrant's Cord vanished; many of the defeated Shining Ones believed that it vanished during the war and led to their eventual downfall. Although they now are little more than ragged husks in service to a decayed and rotting master, they still remember on some instinctual level that they were not always as they are now.
If a Heretic were to return the Tyrant's Cord to Pyurultide, it could be the pebble that starts an avalanche. Thousands of the Pox Tribes would be drawn to its power. Many may remember their time before the defeat and the destruction of the Shining Cities, shaking off their malaise and returning to the worship of the Dark Prince. Others might remain true to Grandfather Nurgle but wish to follow the bearer of the cord nevertheless. A new chapter of the ongoing war could start, with the Heretics at its fore. Perhaps the Tyrant's Cord might grant its bearer some small measure of control over the Living Seas, able to direct the Tsunamis or parting its unfathomable depths to reveal the nightmare hives at its centre.
If the Heretics are able to use the Tyrant's Cord to unify Pyurultide's populace they stand to gain a huge if poorly-equipped army, one with centuries of experience and an unholy resistance to toxins and biological agents. They might ally with the Entomancer using their new found army to force his compliance or perhaps using their supernatural sway over the Living Seas to grant him unprecedented access to new research. With these weapons and the secrets of the Shining Cities and Nightmare Hives at their disposal the Heretics are taking their first steps towards beginning their own Black Crusade.
Each of the Pox Tribes on the face of Pyurultide is different. Although united by their devotion to Grandfather Nurgle, each tribe is separated by their unique dedication to a particular, distinct contagion. The Tribes sport many loathsome mutations and, to outsiders, they are nigh-impossible to tell apart, but any scholar looking closer begins to notice certain repeating mutations or pattern of symptoms.
While all the tribes are abhorrent to look upon, one tribe might by bloated by corpse gas and another swollen by tumescent growths. Certain tribes are gifted with deadened, rotten flesh that never changes, while others continuously rot and regenerate in perpetuity. The tribes bear these unique gifts like totems, using them to differentiate each other, but they have also taken on religious significance, with tribes holding their exclusive symptoms to be the one true appearance of Nurgle. Believing this, the tribes make war on one another seeking to replace each other's infections with their own. To this end, each tribe has developed powerful and sinister biological weapons, distilled from their own vile excretions.
Although robbed of more advanced technology, the Pox Tribes are still capable of maintaining and constructing simple las and solid projectile weapons. Occasionally, a tribe discovers a functioning manufactorum or military forge from before the war allowing it to field tanks, artillery, and other larger scale weapons of war. The corrosive atmosphere of Pyurultide inevitably ruins these delicate machines, but for a time a tribe will make great gains in its tireless pursuit of the enemy.
Gifted with great and terrible endurance, a Pox Tribe soldier does not fall in battle easily. Pox Tribe soldiers are killers that many foes underestimate thanks to their incredible resilience. If ever the Pox Tribes could be unified, the Heretic who ruled them would be a force to be reckoned with indeed.
Armour: Ragged bits of flak armour (3 All)
Total TB: 6
Skills: Awareness (Per) +10, Command (Fel), Common Lore (Pyurultide), Dodge (Ag), Intimidate (WP), Operate (Surface) (Ag), Parry (WS), Survival (Per) +10.
Talents: Combat Sense, Die Hard, Iron Jaw, Jaded, Resistance (Poison), Weapon Training (Las, Primary, Solid Projectile).
Traits: Unnatural Toughness (2).
Weapons: Battered Autogun (Basic; 100m; S/3/10; 1d10+2 I; Pen: 0; Clip 30; Rld Full; Noxious Discharge; Unreliable), or Corroded Lasgun (Basic; 100m; S/3/-; 1d10+3 E; Pen: 0; Clip 60; Rld Full; Ammo Glutton; Recharge), Rusted Bayonet (Melee; 1d5+3 R; Pen: 0; Toxic ), Blight Grenade (Thrown; 9m; S/-/-; 2d10 E; Pen: 0; Clip 1; Rld - ; Toxic ; Blast ).
Gear: Rotted clothing, filthy and decayed trinkets, one reload for primary weapon, 3 Blight Grenades.
The terrible conditions on Pyurultide have led to almost every inhabitant of the world sporting some manner of mutation. For most this is simply a sign of Father Nurgle's affection, a boon to be worn as a mark of pride. However, for others the Lord of Decay's gifts have changed their bodies so much they can no longer be considered men at all. Their bodies swollen to massive proportions, they tower over the other inhabitants of Pyurultide. Many sport terrible growths of cancerous flesh or huge swathes of dead, necrotised flesh that is impervious to pain. Others erupt into mountains of meat, festooned in tusks, filthy claws, and twisted, gnarled horns. Often, in a perverse discharge of life, these creatures will sprout additional limbs. Some are little more than atrophied stumps, withered and desiccated beyond use, more often though they are perfectly functional. Comprising glistening, raw flesh, they terminate in vicious claws or oozing, dripping orifices.
Although once human, these creatures have now become so common they are virtually a new race. As they bear a distant resemblance to the Ogryn species of abhuman, the Entomancer has designated them Plague Ogryns of Pyurultide, although the Pox Tribes call them simply Hulks or Brutes. Whether these abominations share a common ancestry with true Ogryns is impossible to determine, but has led to the Entomancer to begin research into Pyurultide's history before its emergence into the Vortex.
Armour: Diseased Flesh (2 All)
Total TB: 10
Skills: Intimidate (S) +10, Survival (Per).
Talents: Crushing Blow, Die Hard, Fearless, Iron Jaw, Resistance (Poison), Swift Attack, True Grit.
Traits: Brutal Charge (3), Deadly Natural Weapons, Fear (2), Multiple Arms (3), Regeneration (5), Size (6), Sturdy, Toxic (3), Unnatural Strength (4), Unnatural Toughness (5).
Weapons: Claws and Tusks (Melee; 1d10+10 R; Pen 0; Toxic ), Massive Club (Melee; 2d10+10 I; Pen 0; Unbalanced).
Gear: Tattered rags.
Dissection Record 83162-Gamma, Third Attempt (Specimen 3724-g, Mid-sized Drone)
Third attempt to determine source of specimen's abnormal toxicity begins. Removal of carapace progressing at 5% increased rate over second attempt. Improving at this. Must remember volatility of specimen's bile gland.
Bile gland now visible. Must Remember failure of second attempt. Exposure to air corroded all servitors in 7.77 metre radius. Attempting to remove gland now.
Punctured pouch again. All Servitors in 7.77 metre radius once again corroded. Will dispose. Again unharmed despite apparent toxicity. Will run autoanalysis protocols.
Must Remember. Failure is progress. Persistence is success. Fourth attempt to commence upon acquisition of specimens...
— The Entomancer
Nightmarish flying creatures of hideous proportions and terrible intent, these horrific entities have begun to appear on Pyurultide. Poorly understood by the inhabitants of the world, the Pox Tribesmen believe them to be little more than an awful new form of creature spawned in the depths of the great Living Seas. But the truth is far more horrific.
Blight Drones are Daemon Engines, fuelled by the esoteric energies of the Warp. Appearing as an eerie jumble of insect, flying machine, and Daemon, a Blight Drone buzzes through the polluted skies of Pyurultide on rusted and decayed rotor blades. Often accompanied by vast swarms of "mundane" creatures drawn from the Living Sea, Blight Drones spread fear and death wherever they are found. These entities are known to attack any and all Pox Tribesmen they encounter. Tales of them disgorging awful, corrosive acids, and other, less identifiable fluids onto lone targets, and then settling over the remains to draw them up inside their protective body cases are rampant across the planet.
The Entomancer has become particularly fascinated by the Blight Drones and is eagerly seeking to determine where they have come from and, more importantly, why they have appeared.
Armour: Machine (11 All)
Total TB: 16
Skills: Awareness (Per), Dodge (Ag) +10.
Talents: Blind Fighting, Two Weapon Wielder (Ballistic).
Traits: Auto-Stabilised, Daemon Engine (5), Explosion of Pus†, Fear (3), Flyer (8), Machine (11), Nurgle's Blessing††, Size (7), Toxic (4), Unnatural Toughness (5).
Weapons: Mawcannon Vomit (Heavy; 20m; S/-/-; 1d10+8 E; Pen: 5; Clip: -; Rld: -; Toxic ; Spray), Mawcannon Phlegm (Heavy; 200m; S/-/-; 3d10+8 E; Pen: 8; Clip: -; Rld: -; Blast , Toxic ), Reaper Autocannon (Heavy; 300m; S/4/-; 3d10+8 I; Pen: 6; Clip: -; Rld: -: Reliable; Twin-Linked).
†Explosion of Pus: When a Blight Drone is destroyed, it explodes in a shower of rancid filth and pus. In addition to any other effects generated by Table 3-9: Daemon Engine Critical Hit Chart (see page 96), any characters within 7 metres of the Blight Drone when it is destroyed must make a Hard (-20) Agility Test or suffer 3d10+8 Energy Damage with the Corrosive, Irradiated (2), and Toxic (2) Qualities.
††Nurgle's Blessing: A Blight Drone is a Daemon Engine of Nurgle, and is always Aligned to Nurgle.
Devran Saar has ever been obsessed with life in all its forms. From microbiological organisms and bacteria to massive reptilian and mammalian herd creatures and everything between them. His fascination with life, coupled with his Adeptus Mechanicus background, swiftly led to his ascension to Magos Biologis and his appointment within the Explorator Fleets. It was this self-same fascination that has led to his current predicament.
Trapped on an alien world, cut off from the Imperium, and surrounded on all sides by disease-ridden warmongers and undying soldiers fixated with poisoning the world, his mind snapped and his fascination became obsession. Now consumed with studying the countless denizens of the Living Seas, he conducts a campaign of subjugation against the nearby Pox Tribes, forcing them into acquiring species for him to study and transforming them into unthinking automata when they fail.
Long past the point of sanity or redemption, the Entomancer now resembles an upright insect himself. His once precious Mechanicus Implants have distorted into prehensile sensory organs, twitching mandibles, multifaceted lenses, and grotesque wings. His movements, once deliberate and focussed, have become the nervous, blinking tics of a hunting insect. Still his mind strives to complete his work and every day leads to a new catalogue entry in his ever-expanding library, even as what remains of his humanity slips away into an inevitable series of impulses and nervous tics.
Armour: Implants (5 All)
Total TB: 7
Skills: Awareness (Per), Command (Fel), Common Lore (Int) (Adeptus Mechanicus, Tech) +20, Common Lore (Screaming Vortex), Deceive (Fel), Forbidden Lore (Int) (Adeptus Mechanicus, Mutants) +20, Forbidden Lore (Int) (Daemonology, The Warp, Xenos), Inquiry (Fel) +10, Interrogation (WP) +20, Linguistics (Int), Logic (Int) +20, Medicae (Int) +20, Operate (Surface) (Ag), Parry (WS) +10, Scholastic Lore (Int) (Beasts, Legend, Pyurultide Life Forms) +20, Scholastic Lore (Int) (Chymistry, Occult), Scrutiny (Per), Security (Int) +10, Survival (Per) +10, Tech-Use (Int) +20, Trade (Explorator) +20.
Talents: Ambidextrous, Baleful Dirge, Cold Hearted, Die Hard, Disturbing Voice, Ferric Summons, Independent Targeting, Iron Jaw, Jaded, Luminen Blast, Luminen Shock, Master Chirurgeon, Mechadendrite Use (Utility, Weapon), Prosanguine, Technical Knock, Two Weapon Wielder (Ballistic), Weapon Tech, Weapon Training (Bolt, Las, Plasma, Primary, Power, Shock).
Traits: Mechanicus Implants, Master of the Machine Hive†, Unnatural Toughness (2).
†Master of the Machine Hive: As a Full Action, the Entomancer can fall forth swarms of seething technosites that drain the energy from machines and corrode all technology. For the next 1d5 Rounds, the Ranged weapons of each enemy within 49 metres Jam on Ballistic Skill Test result that contains a 7 (in addition to the usual values for which they would Jam). Weapons that Jam this way become corroded, and cannot be used until repaired with a Hard (-20) Tech-Use Test that requires 1d5 Rounds to complete.
Weapons: Ballistic Mechandendrite (Bolt) (Pistol; 15m; S/2/-; 1d10+4 X; Pen: 4; Clip: 4; Rld: Full; Tearing), Plasma Pistol (Pistol; 40m; S/2/-; 1d10+7 E; Pen: 8; Clip: 10; Rld: 3 Full; Maximal; Overheats), Venomous Power Axe (Melee; 1d10+11 E; Pen: 6; Power Field; Unbalanced; Toxic ).
Gear: Ballistic Mechadendrite (Bolt), Bionic Respiratory System, Black Blood, Blade Tines, Good Quality Cybernetic Eyes, Ferric Lure Implants, Luminen Capacitor, Manipulator Mechadendrite, Medicae Mechadendrite, Optical Mechadendrite, Utility Mechandendrite.
"Though this planet gave us new life, our true home is kept from us."
— Adrius Meinloka, The Pit-Lord of Guelph
Thrown across the Antecidual entries to the Vortex and past the haunting grounds of the Kasserkratch lies the orb of poison known as Guelph. Wreathed in clouds of corrosive, toxic gas, Guelph is known for two things: its massive network of forges and laboratories, and the extremely callous nature of its people. Life on the planet's surface is one of survival for natives and non-natives alike. There are very few food resources and the general population would just as soon kill another person than have to deal with him. It was not always this way, however.
Guelph and Ghibelline once shared a beautiful existence among the Halo Stars. Sharing an unusual dual orbit, the twin planets were almost exact mirror images of each other and were ruled by the Meinloka Clan. In order to keep all matters of rule uniform, Lord and Lady Meinloka separated themselves and their family so that in the event of difficulty, the family line would always be present in some fashion on each planet. Both planets flourished under their rule until the cosmic birth of Slaanesh tore it apart.
Unlike its twin, Ghibelline, the birth of the Screaming Vortex did not leave Guelph a beautiful landscape. Thrown further into the swirling energies of the Warp, Guelph lost more of its share of the solar energy as it travelled further into the storm and became a cold, dark planet, with much of its surface becoming uninhabitable. Snaring additional planetary mass from other systems as it flew by, Guelph's system grew into an amalgam of roughly seventeen different planetary bodies. As a result, the planet's stability was also more fragile with the infusion of so many random terrestrial bodies pulling on it as well as the massive amounts of Warp energy flowing through and around it. Massive earthquakes rocked many of the hive cities that survived the initial transition, leaving little more than piles of rubble in their wake. Volcanic activity churned up enough ash to blanket the secondary capital of Kimigstad, encasing it for eternity. The few histories that remain of that time indicate that within a matter of a few years, Folgrat was the only settlement left capable of sustaining life, and even Folgrat had its woes.
Soon after Kimigstad was entombed, the ground beneath Folgrat swallowed it up in a massive sinkhole, deep enough to prevent ready access to the surface but still able to see the night sky. Though little damage was done to the city, they were cut off from the already meagre food supplies they had. Desperate to save what remained of his people, Lord Meinloka rounded all of them up and, using the last measures of their once-proud fleet, they left the planet in search of their twin, hoping beyond hope that Ghibelline had been spared.
The journey back to Ghibelline was not without peril. Limited supplies meant that food and medicine were rationed through the entire trip. During this time, Lord Meinloka came to rely on his advisors heavily, one being Marchesa Ammarx, his personal aide and confidant. She provided the voice of Meinloka when the Lord was otherwise occupied and helped ease the pain of austere living conditions for the majority of the remaining population. She was also the single most desirable woman in the fleet, and rarely left Lord Meinloka's side unless ordered. Fifteen months in transit brought the Guelphan fleet into the Ghibelline system, finding their sister world lush, green, and largely unscathed. Lord and Lady hailed each other for the first time in almost a decade and the populations of both worlds rejoiced as they were reunited.
Upon their arrival in orbit, Lord Meinloka took the first shuttle with his heirs to visit the planet, leaving Marchesa in charge of the fleet. The Meinloka Clan gathered, with the Ghibelline side resplendent in silks and brocade and the Guelphan side in haggard cloth and piecemeal armour. For hours they shared their stories and mourned their losses, ecstatic to once again be a unified family. They vowed to begin discussing plans to reintegrate the two peoples at once - but all that changed when Marchesa arrived on the planet.
Though no one has ever discovered why, no sooner had Marchesa Ammarx joined the discussion than Lady Meinloka reversed her decision and ordered that the Guelph leave Ghibelline immediately. Lord Meinloka begged and pleaded, but she turned her back on him and left the throne room without a further word. Stunned and furious, the Guelph king bade his entourage follow and stormed back to his dropship. Meinloka advised his people that his Lady had rebuked them all and that they were now cast out. He ordered all ships to prepare for departure with one stop - a refuelling station orbiting the planet. The Guelph fleet bore down on the station, and in short order raided it for supplies and then scuttled it, sending flaming pieces of it down to the surface with a final message: "We will return for our home." It was the final time any of the Guelph set foot on the planet in peace.
Transition to the Warp brought haunting dreams to the travellers. Surviving diaries from the crew and civilian population indicate that the dreams were persistent even into waking life. People wandered the ship in the throes of nightmares, though none showed any signs of physical malady. Those affected were quarantined early, but it still spread until all people not affiliated with the military or the fleet were in medical lockdown. Unsure of how to remedy the situation, Lord Meinloka pushed forward with all haste, hoping that there might be some measure of hope back on Guelph.
As the fleet burst back into realspace in the Guelph system, they noticed that much was different. New satellites and orbital stations orbited Guelph and her moons, and hailing calls flooded the bridge. Meinloka was stunned. Guelph had been taken in his absence. He and his people had no home. Answering the hails, he demanded to know who had taken his planet and ordered them to prepare for war if they did not abandon the system. A single face replied to Lord Meinloka's demands, one bearing the armour of a Space Marine. He called himself Jal Khalid and offered aid from his troops, though the Guelph would need to remain in orbit until the nature of the illness was determined. Knowing he would not be able to fight effectively with the entire population of his planet in harm's way, Meinloka acquiesced.
The Brotherhood of Warpsmiths, as the Space Marines called themselves, were sure they knew the root cause of the illness, for it had affected them too, albeit differently. Jal Khalid never divulged how it had affected his men, but their certainty was what Meinloka needed to convince to his people. There was hope of a new life and a future on Guelph for the first time since the birth of the Vortex. Though the initial trials were unsuccessful, the Brotherhood and Meinloka's remaining people worked diligently for months and, at the end of the seventh month, discovered a treatment distilled from the blood of both groups. Meinloka inoculated himself first and then began to administer it to all those who remained in the thrall of the illness. One by one, the Guelph began to awaken and regain awareness. Meinloka pledged Jal Khalid and the Brotherhood their loyalty. In response, Jal made a bold request: the ruins of Kimigstad, and one half of the other planets in the system, to use as research and construction bases. Meinloka readily agreed, adding that they would aid in the production of the Warpsmiths' forges as long as they would help prepare him for the final war with Ghibelline. Jal Khalid was also eager to enter the pact, stating that they would need a "testing ground for their creations". Once the people of Guelph were cured, Meinloka and Khalid finally met face to face.
Forges sprouted up like weeds throughout the system. Excavation sites dotted the surface of every moon or planet Jal Khalid and his troops touched. Soon, these massive excavations became such a commonplace sight within the Guelph system that Meinloka became known as the Pit-Lord of Guelph. Between the highly motivated population of Guelph and the advanced technology and sorcery of the Brotherhood, plans for the conquest of Ghibelline took form and moved forward at a rapid pace. Within a handful of months, Kimigstad had been uncovered and rebuilt as the main forge for the Brotherhood. Within a year, the Guelph Fleet had been upgraded and enlarged. At the end of five years, the Brotherhood had an arsenal of devastating Daemon Engines, as well as an elite guard of Obliterators, that they were willing to lend to the Pit-Lord. The time to reignite the fires of war had come.
Armour: Fleshmetal (14 All)
Total TB: 12
Skills: Awareness (Per), Dodge (Ag), Forbidden Lore (Archeotech, Daemonology, Traitor Legions, Warp) (Int), Intimidate (S), Tech Use (Int) +20.
Talents: Ambidextrous, Bolter Drill, Combat Sense, Deadeye Shot, Heavy Weapon Training, Independent Targeting, Legion Weapon Training, Storm of Iron, Target Selection, Technical Knock, Two-Weapon Wielder (Ballistic).
Traits: Auto-stabilised, Daemonic (2), Fear (2), From Beyond, Living Armoury, Size (5), Sturdy, Unnatural Strength (5), Unnatural Toughness (5), Violent Metamorphosis†.
Weapons: See Violent Metamorphosis.
†Violent Metamorphosis: Obliterators can form a number of weapons from the raw mass of their Warp-infused bodies. Obliterators manifest two weapons of varying degrees of lethality at any given time, chosen from the list below. As a Half Action, an Obliterator can reform one of his current weapons into any other weapon from the list. The GM can also feel free to have him adopt other weapons as appropriate. Standard Obliterator options are as follows:
Living Armoury: Obliterators consume ammunition and fuel for sustenance, and are thusly capable of generating massive amounts of firepower without a need to reload. The Obliterator's weapons never need to be reloaded.
The Pit-Lord called for war and was met with the thunderous approval of his people. They had been slighted and cast away from family and home without reason or provocation. Fully half of the capable population volunteered to fight for their honour and boarded the ships bound for their sister planet. Though there are many accounts of the individual battles, there is very little dispute about how the war began. The Pit-Lord and the Brotherhood descended on the outlying planets of the Ghibelline system with the fury of an entire race behind them. As they subjugated these planets and moons, they rendered them wholly subservient to the Pit-Lord's tactical needs, becoming the supply chain for the effort. The campaign made haste to Ghibelline proper, for the Pit-Lord knew that only by removing his former wife, and those family members loyal to her, would he be able to lay claim to his rightful home.
Upon reaching the capital planet, the rules changed. Ghibelline had come into possession of strange new weapons and engines of war; weapons that overloaded the senses, destroyed physical matter with sound, and turned the Guelph soldiers into puppets of the Ghibellines began to shatter the Guelph lines. Though the Guelph arsenal was more powerful, it required human elements, which were capable of being turned against their own. The Pit-Lord, sensing that the tide could turn, led an assault on the palace to remove his disloyal family from power. His initial attack breached the palace walls, only to find that Lady Meinloka lay in wait for him. Many say that he was betrayed from within, but the Ghibellines claim that it was superior force of arms that allowed them to capture the Pit-Lord and remove him to the remote island nation of Gnosi.
Gnosi was the Ghibelline's most secret research facility. For a month they tortured the Pit-Lord, hoping to wear him down and force him to surrender. They killed his retinue one by one in front of him and subjected him to many of their new weapons, but he never gave them what they wanted. For the month he was in Gnosi, the war continued to grind on, with Ghibelline starting to gain the upper hand. In her final visit to her former husband, Empress Meinloka had the Pit-Lord watch the destruction of the Brotherhood's most devastating creations and the troops that supported him, taunting him with his inability to aid them. But the Pit-Lord was not watching. Recovered memoirs of the jailors of Gnosi reveal that the prisoner seemed to be in silent prayer, muttering to himself and conversing with some unseen force. Perhaps he had gone mad in those moments, but the Pit-Lord slowly raised his head and bellowed "I ACCEPT!" at the top of his lungs. In that moment, Ghibelline's fortunes changed.
In the blink of an eye, the warriors of Guelph began to change. Their senses dulled, they broke free of the bewitching scents and sounds of the Ghibelline troops. Their bodies became resilient to the blows being landed upon them. Daemon Engines that had been crushed were infused with new energy and reformed into hideous, pox-laden monstrosities. The Ghibellines, wholly unprepared to deal with enemies that couldn't feel pain and war machines that spat poison and plague across their ranks, began to fall back. In Gnosi, the Pit-Lord grew in size and stature, breaking his bindings and becoming an ogre of a man. Smashing his captors aside, he set about freeing the few of his troops that remained. They too were invigorated, and began to make their way toward the surface, killing everyone in their path.
The accounts of that escape are largely untold, seeing as the Pit-Lord was the only one to survive. Though his people perished, the city-state of Gnosi was reduced to a smoking ruin when he left. The Brotherhood located him and ushered him to safety. Upon his return to the fleet, Jal Khalid informed him that the Brotherhood's craft had been outfitted with a full load of virus bombs. The Pit-Lord smiled and fired only once, upon the isle of Gnosi, before ordering the withdrawal of his troops. "We are patient... we are patient," were the only words he uttered as he walked from the command bridge. The War of Ideals was over.
With two massive hive cities and dozens of research facilities scattered around the planet's surface, Guelph is little more than the waste fields for the massive military industrial complex at the heart of the Pit-Lord's fiefdom. Toxic effluents flow across the surface of the planet, and the haze of poisonous gas is ever-present and smothering.
Guelph's two main hives remain much as they were at the time of the War of Ideals centuries ago. Though they have grown in size and stature, both have stayed true to their purpose. Folgrat is the seat of power and the main starport for the planet. The Pit-Lord's fortress, known as the Steel Citadel, sits in the dead centre, majestic and intimidating. Here, Adrius Meinloka still rules the Guelphans just as he has for as long as anyone can remember. He has outlived all of Jal Khalid's original host and been the sole human contact with the Brotherhood throughout Guelph's current history. It is one of the largest hives in the Vortex, surrounded by toxic salt flats that glow and occasionally catch fire as waste products mix in heady chemical reactions. Most of the food consumed by the Guelphans comes from Folgrat, either as imports from other planets in the system or as vat-grown products known for their nutritional value but certainly not their flavour.
Kimigstad is run exclusively by the Brotherhood of Warpsmiths and, other than the Pit-Lord and selected members of his staff, none but the Warpsmiths and their creations enter or leave. Massive engines of destruction stand guard over the once ash-buried cityscape, and the forges burn night and day. The Brotherhood take customers from all over the Screaming Vortex, but keep their greatest works held out for their own use. Their modifications to other known designs have been found on battlefields throughout and are widely sought out. Though many would-be warlords would love to get their hands on the Brotherhood's engines, very few have the ability to pay for them.
Cold-hearted and callous, the people of Guelph are as unforgiving as the planet's surface. Unsympathetic eyes greet you from every angle in what is referred to by traders in the Vortex as the Guelphan Stare: eyes that pierce you and seem to swallow any ounce of joy from you alongside unchanging facial expressions that emanate bitterness and malice. Most who are not known to Guelph receive this cold welcome from most of the population, but it is not only unnerving looks you get from the Guelphans. Many who journey there seeking weapons and armour from one of the best forge planets in the Screaming Vortex have discovered first-hand that returning home alive is not always a certainty. Blood and death are frequent visitors to the streets of Folgrat, for often nothing more than a small slight. Needless to say, regular travellers to Guelph are few, and usually of an extremely hardy breed.
Armour: Rotting mesh (4 All)
Total TB: 6
Skills: Awareness (Per), Common Lore (Guelph) (Int), Dodge (Ag), Intimidate (S), Survival (Per).
Talents: Betrayer, Cold-Hearted, Die Hard, Jaded, Nerves of Steel, Pity the Weak, Resistance (Poison, Disease, Shock), Shock Weapon Training, Solid Projectile Weapon Training.
Traits: Fear (1), Regeneration (1), Unnatural Toughness (2).
Weapons: Hand Cannon (Pistol; 35m; 1d10+4 I; Pen 2; S/-/-; Clip 5; Rld 2 Full), Electrified Bludgeon (Melee; 1d10+6; Pen 0; Shocking).
Gear: Two clips of ammo.
While many warlords prefer to lay waste to a planet from orbit, some prefer to make an example of their conquests. Disciples of Khorne and Nurgle usually follow this path, and while Khorne usually prefers large-scale battlefields where blood flows freely and skulls are piled, Nurgle's followers have a unique reputation for laying siege to a population where it thinks it is safest. At the height of these sieges, Plague Towers are an all-too common sight; looming, rolling battle-towers from a long-dead age, covered in flayed human skin, and carrying disease and filth. Created from a massive pustule summoned by sorcerers or Warpsmiths upon their arrival, these hulking creations are filled with the gifts of Nurgle, ready to be bestowed upon new hosts.
Armed with two conventional wall-breaching Demolisher Cannons, the plague tower has little difficulty shattering a city's defences. The two unique weapons, the Bile Cannon and Plague Mortar, however, are the key elements to the success of this device. The Plague Mortar lobs shells tainted with contagion as it rolls toward its target, sowing slow death among the population that is not killed outright. The Bile Cannon is designed to rid the initial breach of defenders by blasting them with a foul stream of pus and ichor. Those not instantly killed are covered in oozing rashes and sores as the corrosive liquid works its way through armour. The towers also serve as transports for large numbers of crazed followers. It is no wonder that these hulking engines of war are often seen as harbingers of a grisly end.
Armour: Machine (35 All)
Total TB: 15
Talents: Independent Targeting.
Traits: Assault Ramps†, Cloud of Flies, , Daemon Engine (10) Fear (3), Hideous Visage, Machine (35), Nurgle's Blessing††, Pestilent Fog, Size (9), Unnatural Strength (3).
Weapons: Bile cannon (Heavy; Front Arc; 100m; 2d10+7 I; Pen 7; Devastating , Spray, Toxic ), two Demolisher Cannons (Heavy; Front Arc; 200m; S/-/-; 3d10+10 X; Pen 8; Blast , Devastating ), Plague Mortar (Heavy, 750m; 2d10+6 I; Pen 7; Blast , Concussive , Devastating , Inaccurate, Recharge, Toxic ).
†Assault Ramps: These ramps allow insane followers of the Great Corruptor or his Daemonic minions to mount an assault on the walls of a fortress or city. When a Plague Tower moves into effective assault range of a fortification, the ramps drop to disgorge its passengers. The Plague Tower is capable of holding up to 50 occupants with a Size Trait of 5 or lower.
††Nurgle's Blessing: A Plague Tower is a Daemon Engine of Nurgle, and is always Aligned to Nurgle.
"There are multifarious stimuli constantly at work upon the mortal soul. There is rage, passion, love, hate, revenge, curiosity, hope. And the strongest of these, of course, is hope."
— Eructacus Foetor, Shikari Catechist of the Pinguid Panglossia
Approaching the celestial body referred to in most charts and texts simply as the Writhing World, one experiences a transformative awakening that continues right down to the planet's surface. From a great distance, the Writhing World appears little different from any of the other planets locked within the clutches of the Screaming Vortex. In fact, from extreme visual ranges, the planet possesses a strange, factitious beauty. The swirling tans and browns of the planet's surface are reminiscent of a shimmering sand globe, while floating gracefully above the planet are undulant clouds of black, eddying in the upper atmosphere. An iridescent ring surrounds the whole, playing host to four verdant moons that hang like glowing emeralds upon a golden chain. But as one moves closer, reality opens up like a wonderful, blooming corpse flower.
The first dissonant note a first-time visitor to the Writhing World will note is the composition of the vast, sweeping ring that surrounds the planet. Upon closer inspection, the ring is not, in fact, composed of dust and stone, as one would expect in the sidereal universe. Rather, each chunk of matter fixed within the band is a complicated knot of fey, wriggling meat. Tendrils and flesh undulate to undetectable currents. From the largest asteroids to the tiniest, glittering motes floating around the world, each thrashes softly in a bizarre simulacrum of life.
The four beautiful moons orbiting around the Writhing World pose the most interesting mystery within the system, in their sheer normalcy. The flora and fauna on each are primitive in their development and sophistication, but they nevertheless present a viridian splendour when set against the pale, dun coloured world they orbit. Each glitters with vibrancy, the sparkling jade of a bottle-fly's eye. And each contains untold mysteries that link it to the glistening umber globe below.
As a Heretic breaks atmosphere into the realm of the Writhing World, he will find navigation and flight difficult as the air, nearly solid with the fusty stench of rot, buffets their craft with the capricious violence of a mischievous child. Any attempt to breathe this air without filtration or assistance is to experience the decomposition of an entire planet beneath one's feet. The impression is only reinforced as one looks out over the slowly undulating landscape of this foully-glorious world.
The surface of the Writhing World is formed by an array of fleshy tubules that present in a wide range of sizes. The Great Tendrils are massive, continent-sized masses of rippling flesh, stretching off into the distance. On a more standard planet, these fleshly monoliths play the role of bedrock, mountains, and rolling plains. The flesh that composes them, moving in slow, deliberate rolls, spans the corporeal rainbow from flushed health to gangrenous decay as the entire planet experiences the grand ballet of life, death, decay, and rebirth.
Providing the finer details of the landscape of the Writhing World are the Lesser Tendrils. Ranging from trunks the girth of a corpulent man to hair-fine shoots that seem to shift in a breeze no man can feel, the Lesser Tendrils show more life than their Greater brethren, standing in for grass, trees, and undergrowth. These lashing whips of meat are far more lively than the Greater Tendrils, often presenting an insidious danger to visitors to the strange planet with their sudden, muscular convulsions.
Most inhabited planets in the sidereal universe are veritably covered in water features, and the Writhing World is no exception. Glistening lakes, rivers, and seas gleam from orbit, giving the planet a wet, shining appearance. Where another world might run with clear, fresh water, however, this mysterious orb drips with bile, phlegm, pus, and other intriguing biological solutions. Each body of water contains a veritable soup of happy microbiotica that presents untold dangers to any lost soul unlucky enough to bathe within the waters. Tales persist among the servants of the Father of Plagues, however, that one truly chosen by Grandfather Nurgle, and blessed with his bounty, might immerse himself beneath the viscous substances and receive untold rewards from their infernal patron.
Due to the constantly shifting nature of the very bedrock of the planet, instability is the only constant. Nothing is certain. The Great Tendrils are constantly on the move, causing disturbing quakes that can destroy the works of man in the blink of an eye. When those tendrils deep beneath a lake or sea shift enough, the contents may drain out, only to emerge at some other point along the planet's surface. Countless aquatic vermin are stranded in a moment upon vast plains of drying flesh, while land-born murine drown half a world away. These moments of upheaval and destruction are referred to as Convulsions, and can occasionally wreak drastic change upon the entire surface of the planet and among the creatures and heretics that call the Writhing World their home.
Of the countless mysteries and enigmas that surround this twisting sphere, possibly the most fascinating is the question of what lurks beneath the churning surface? There are many theories as to what lies at the heart of planet. Countless expeditions have been launched through the millennia, with an impressive roll of the most notable Heretics of the Screaming Vortex gauging their way through the countless layers of quivering flesh. No one has ever returned to the surface with indisputable proof of what lies at the centre of the orb of rotting, squirming meat. This lack of evidence, however, has only fuelled the rampant speculation.
The majority of those who speculate on the nature of the planet maintain that the world consists of nothing but layer after layer of flesh; a snarled tangle of squirming tendrils, pseudopods, and ganglia. If this is the case, it is probable that those tendrils closest to the core are dying or dead, pushed under by their more vibrant brothers. This theory easily explains the pungent, sweet scent of decay that pervades the entire planet while the vermin of the planet and the tendrils on the surface feast on the dead flesh, growing fat and indolent on the easy fare.
Darker tales whisper of an entire civilisation lying crushed beneath the flesh, patiently awaiting an intrepid champion who will tear a bloody hole in the planet to discover its ancient secrets. If, indeed, the ruins of a primeval society lie within the embrace of the Writhing World, it might well be the bodies of the countless millions that contribute their feculent flesh to the fetor that greets visitors, feeding the lazy creatures of the world.
The darkest legends talk of the birth of a great being, a Greater Daemon or a Daemon Prince, perhaps. The myths surrounding this belief are varied and contradictory. Some say the planet was forever altered at the moment of Apotheosis. Others that the planet is a living creature, summoned into existence to devour the remains of the godling's birth. The vilest tales of the Sorcerer-Kings and Biomancer Lords imagine the blessed entity itself, in the moment of its unholy ascension, being cast into the ultimate curse of cosmic spawndom for some horrific failing, becoming the very planet itself.
Any of these tales could explain away the ecology of the planet and the stench of the atmosphere, but all leave even darker mysteries as to what might be found at the planet's core. What is not in contention, however, is the veritable explosion of life that crawls across the surface and swarms in the skies overhead.
The surface of the Writhing World teems with the full array of vermin and carrion eaters one would expect feasting upon a ripe and bloated corpse, albeit versions too massive and grotesque to be accurately described with words alone. Enormous beetle-creatures push their way across the cilia plains, grazing upon the wriggling flesh with mandibles sharp enough to cut through the body of a fully-armed Renegade. Swift, scythe-legged Magna-Lice haunt the tendril forests, feeding off the flushed meat of the planet's surface as well as any vermin or human they are able to run down. Crevasses and wrinkles are filled with the writhing larvae of the planet's most famous denizens, the giant bottle flies that make up the Great Swarms swirling across the sky.
Haunting the shadowed depths of the bile seas are enormous, sleek-bodied creatures that skim through the gelatinous fluid, propelled along with the graceful, sweeping motions of their bladed limbs. These insectile behemoths, often the size of void-fighters, are rarely seen as they lurk within the deepest, most dense folds of the seabed. However, the native huskmen of the Writhing World have learned caution when crossing these bodies of oily liquid, lest their callous-boats be overturned, and they find themselves dragged down into the tepid depths.
Life upon this fascinating planet is vibrant and full of energy as the chaotic whirlwind of the eternal cycle sweeps across the globe. Newly-hatched herd-maggots pour across the land, pushing the older corpse-beetles aside, feeding on the rancid flesh of the landscape before erupting into the sky, carrying, perhaps, a fragment of a thought, a curl of meaning, into the surging clouds overhead.
Giant bottle flies, each the size of a man's head, form swarms that stretch for miles and miles into the noisome atmosphere. The low, droning hum of millions upon millions of translucent wings is an ever-present reality to anyone walking the surface of the planet. These creatures, once they leave the shells of their pupal stage and take to the heavy air for the first time, never set claws to fleshy earth again. They remain airborne, a member of the semi-sentient colony mind, until their shrivelled, desiccated body flutters down to join the other detritus littering the landscape, serving to feed the next generation of vermin surging towards the light.
There are many heretics in the Screaming Vortex that believe the swirling, graceful fly-clouds contain a small portion of Grandfather Nurgle's consciousness, or serve as a conduit to that Ruinous Power's thoughts and intentions. They swarm and boil across the planet forming huge patterns that seem maddeningly close to making some sort of sense before the patterns explode into chaos again. No concrete evidence has ever been presented that there is, in fact, any meaning behind the whirling ballet of giant insects, but this lack of surety only serves to spur those desperate enough to seek such contact. Each year, countless men and women descend upon the Writhing World for the sole purpose of gazing upon the clouds and teasing out their possible meaning.
Among the many strange and wondrous creatures that call the Writhing World their home, a hardy breed of humans has existed for as long as the planet has existed within the Vortex. These savage, nomadic tribesmen use the exoskeletons of the vermin for armour, utensils, and anything else they might need. Clothed in the castoff skins of the bloated cadaver wyrms, huskmen tribes are constantly at war with each other over the best hunting grounds, breeding stock, and gelid ponds.
With the flesh of the planet itself as a constant source of nourishment, and the phlegmy liquids of the seas, lakes, and streams a ready supply of water, the huskmen tend to be obese and slow. However, the Writhing World, the very embodiment of death, decay, and explosive rejuvenation, is a seething hotbed of disease and infection. Due in large part to the inherent virulence of their environment, weak huskmen tend to die early, while the strong and tough survive. Through this gradual process of selection and culling, huskmen have become some of the toughest humans in the Screaming Vortex.
There is another type of human that calls the Writhing World its home. Lords of the planet and masters of the huskmen tribes and even the Sorcerer-Kings who stand above the huskmen, the Biomancers are strangers who come to the Writhing World from all across the Vortex and beyond. These sorcerers of life and death find themselves inexorably pulled to the planet to master its lessons of flesh, change, and the hope for rebirth. Many keep to themselves, establishing small sanctuaries far from the tribes and other Biomancers, delving into the mysteries of the planet for a time before moving on. Others, however, develop a taste for the thick, feculent air in their lungs, the soft, pliant flesh beneath their feet, and the reassuring buzz of the fly clouds overhead. These powerful beings establish themselves upon the planet, bending entire regions to their whims with their hard-won powers, and playing with the lives of the huskmen like the toys of a wayward child.
The most infamous denizens of the Writhing World are not the pseudo-divinatory flies, the corpulent huskmen, or the vicious insectile vermin that roam the surface. The reputation and power of the sorcerers that find themselves drawn to the planet's burgeoning explosions of life have spread throughout the Vortex and beyond. Their mastery of the riddles of life and death is unquestioned, and they lord over this planet of flesh with merciless abandon.
These Biomancers venerate the myriad cycles of life. Teasing out the meaning and power within the intricate dance of birth, age, decrepitude, death, decay, and rebirth, they are swiftly destroyed by their own research or rise to prominence among the most powerful beings of the Vortex. The most powerful Biomancers are capable of shaping the very flesh of the planet beneath them, and the creatures that crawl upon it. Able to twist living meat and bone to their every whim, Biomancers have the very threads of life at their mercy, spinning armour, weapons, and defences from the very vitae of their subjects.
The vast majority of the Biomancers living upon the Writhing World are not natives of the fleshy orb, but are rather tried and tested sorcerers in their own right. Many of these jovial men and women have followed the path of Grandfather Nurgle throughout the galaxy before finding themselves on this strange, living planet. These powerful masters of flesh and life are not often given to discussing their supremacy or their origins with outsiders, but there are many tales and legends that whisper of their ability to twist the flesh of their enemies against them, causing crippling pain, withering limbs and minds, and reducing even the most powerful warlords to mewling, twisted wrecks with a gesture of their hand.
Among these mysterious sorcerers, there are always four that hold the greatest share of power, lording over the planet even as they push the boundaries of their knowledge and abilities beyond the understanding of mortal men. Each of these Biomancer Lords commands one of the four gem-like moons that spin through the kaleidoscopic swirl of the night sky. These planetoids serve as sanctuaries in times of great endeavour, retreats in the face of powerful opposition, and, some whisper, the very source of the paramount manifestation of their power.
There are four of these larger bodies, located within the spinning disk of the planet's squirming ring. These planetoids are more traditional in structure and composition than the planet below, or the ring of matter that connects them. Each is host to a riotous explosion of life reaching up into the tainted heavens only to fall back into the ever-boiling soup of the surface, corpulent and mouldering remains embraced and enveloped by the rising tide of new life.
There has been a great deal of speculation among the beings that concern themselves with such knowledge, as to the importance and power present within the moons of the Writhing World. Certainly, despite the vibrant life present on all of them, each is unnatural and twisted in its own way. Equally clear is that the Biomancer Lords ruling the world below hold their lunar fiefdoms as precious, spending a great deal of time secreted away within their strongholds. Not even whispers speak of what might occupy these lordly creatures in their mysterious lairs, but conjecture runs rampant throughout the Vortex.
Many secret-hunters believe that the truth of the Writhing World's genesis can be found buried beneath the surfaces of one moon or another. The possibility that each worldlet holds a piece of that ancient puzzle has not been lost on the treasure-seekers, either. Other theories speak of ancient sources of power, either sidereal or sorcerous, hidden within the ancient strongholds. Such sources of power would go far to explain the often sudden rise to power of Biomancer Lords when such a conversion occurs. True dreamers speculate that the largest secrets of these dread lords are to be found somewhere on their orbiting citadels. Whether these answers might address the bloated fly clouds of the planet, or the creation and control of the infamous Crawling Citadels, or of mysteries even darker of nature, has never been resolved. All that is truly known is that the Biomancer Lords hold control of their moons with all the tightness of a death grip, and hold their secrets closely even unto death.
The most powerful of the current Biomancer Lords of the Writhing World is Adipose Rex, Lord of Lowenesse. Adipose Rex is a mammoth, gargantuan man whose portly, smiling face hides the coldly calculating mind of the master of the planet. Adipose Rex rules over the most fecund temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. Despite the impermanence of surface features on the planet, the general temperatures and weather patterns of this zone means that it is most often hospitable to both the huskmen and the panoply of vermin. The moon Lowenesse is a glossy jade ball whose steamy jungles and foetid swamps are aswarm with violent, thrashing life. The Palace of Surfeit, surrounded by swollen, over-ripe trees and the sweet stench of rotting fruit, is an ugly, squat structure built from brown-green native stone. Streaks of mould and moss add slashes of contrasting colours down the low walls.
Graven, the largest moon orbiting the Writhing World, is claimed by the longest-serving Biomancer Lord, Aefluvia Tamilar, Lady of Graven. The moon is a swollen dark olive bulb with veins of feculent brown entwined across its surface. The Lady of Graven claims the temperate southern regions, only slightly less-hospitable than the domains of Lord Adipose. Lady Aefluvia's Castle Nimiety is located beneath the surface of her moon, Graven, plunged down through the spongy crust and into the crumbling stone beneath. The atmosphere of Graven is the closest of all the moons to their parent planet's, the odour of decay and dissolution heavy in the air. Although no animal life is visible upon Graven, the spongy moss that covers the entire surface is home to slow-moving, vermiform leviathans who live their entire lives burrowing beneath the surface.
Cord Cantric, Lord of Daedelon, is easily the most destructive, violent, and aggressive of the Biomancer Lords. Lord Cantric claimed the equatorial region of the planet over one hundred years ago, and has not attempted to encroach upon the realms of either Adipose Rex or Lady Aefluvia in all that time. The warmest region of the planet is host to the most aggressive tribes of huskmen, and Lord Cantric has been known to test his creations by engineering massive conflicts among the tribes, and then introducing his creatures and diseases into their midst. The moon Daedelon is completely covered with murky, shallow water and high-reaching, spindly trees. Swarms of flies, smaller cousins to the giant specimens on the planet below, fill the air, fouling the intakes of craft that attempt to land, and making breathing a noxious chore. Cord Cantric's Fortress of Suffiar reaches out from the shadowy depths and plunges thin, spine-like towers into the lowering sky overhead.
The newest Biomancer Lord to rise to prominence upon the Writhing World was Yufreth of Tidec, Lord of Tabelar. Yufreth descended upon the planet alone and unarmed and was immediately accepted by Lord Huwaith Ouse of Tabelar as an apprentice. It is unknown why the recalcitrant old man was so quick to bring an unknown newcomer into his retinue, but there is no disputing that fact. Yufreth assisted the old Biomancer Lord with several massive enterprises, including the construction and arming of a new, larger Crawling Citadel. Soon after the completion of the behemoth, however, Lord Huwaith disappeared. There were no rumours of a struggle of any kind, nor signs of battle or any other violence. Huwaith was gone, and Yufreth repaired to the old man's lunar sanctuary of De'trop on the mouldering wastes of the moon Tabelar. When he returned, he was the undisputed fourth Biomancer Lord, and ruler of the northern polar regions. Yufreth has not spoken to any outsiders since his rise to power, and has spent most of his time bringing the few tribes of huskmen acclimated to the cold of the north under his sway.
Although each Biomancer Lord maintains a seat of power upon his chosen moon, all Biomancer Lords spend the majority of their time upon the churning surface of their adopted home world. Each rules his own realm from the most magnificent specimens of the Writhing World's infamous Crawling Citadels. Although many lesser Biomancers have mastered the creation of these enormous creature-fortresses, the monstrous examples that house the Biomancer Lords are truly gargantuan and majestic in scope and power.
Biomanced from the flesh of the planet itself, melded with the genetic material of the vermin that inhabit the planet, the Crawling Citadels are like unto nothing seen elsewhere in the Screaming Vortex or beyond. Massive, lumbering constructs, six albino legs push the citadels along, putrescent palaces growing from their hunched, misshapen abdominal masses. The walls are composed of thick exo-skeletal chitin, also a pale, sickly white. Mounted upon these walls can be found a bewildering array of defensive weapons and preparations. Often, weaponry that would do a Titan proud can be found probing the shuddering landscape surrounding a Crawling Citadel on the move, procured through the offices of off-planet intermediaries trading in jewels, precious metals, and occasionally the sorcerous assistance of these paramount practitioners of the Warp-tainted arts.
In addition to serving as each Biomancer Lord's seat of power and stronghold, the Citadels are centres of learning and the Biomancer's art, with each lord presiding over a court of lesser practitioners, most being those who have travelled to the Writhing World to learn its secrets. Each Biomancer Lord has his or her own policies in dealing with such supplicants. Some have been known to accept many apprentices after only a cursory vetting process, most likely expecting that the danger of the work itself would weed out those who lacked the ability or discipline to master the art. Others set gruelling trials and gauntlets, forcing any who would learn at their knees nearly impossible tasks and insolvable puzzles, only to often eradicate even those who pass these horrible ordeals, for no other reason than to suit their passing fancy. The only certainty any who seek the assistance of a Biomancer Lord faces is that many more have died following that path than have lived to tell of their success or failure.
The Crawling Citadels are garrisoned with forces of a mixed, chaotic nature. Many of the men and women who stand watch upon the ivory walls are warriors recruited from off world, from among the most puissant and intimidating mercenaries of the Screaming Vortex. Many of the rest represent the strongest and most ferocious tribesmen culled from the local nomadic huskmen.
Armour: Chitinous Armour (3 All)
Total TB: 6
Skills: Awareness (Per), Survival (Per) +10.
Talents: Cold Hearted, Double Team, Jaded.
Traits: Unnatural Toughness (2).
Weapons: Primitive chitin blades (Melee; 1d10+3 R; Pen 0).
Gear: Tattered clothing crafted from sloughed off planetary skin, makeshift tools and weapons, coveted bone fetishes.
Armour: Chitinous Armour (3 All)
Total TB: 2
Skills: Awareness (Per), Survival (Per)
Talents: Swift Attack.
Traits: Swarm, Toxic (3), Variable Size†.
Weapons: Chitinous Jaws (Melee; 1d10+4; Pen 1d10).
†Variable Size: This creature's Wounds value varies for summoned swarms.
Armour: Chitinous Armour (3 All)
Total TB: 7
Skills: Awareness (Per), Interrogation (WP), Survival (Per) +10.
Talents: Cold Hearted, Frenzy, Jaded, Swift Attack.
Traits: Unnatural Toughness (3).
Weapons: Ancestral chitinous weaponry (Melee; 2d10+3; Pen 2; Crippling (2)).
Gear: Tattered armour of vermin chitin, makeshift tools and weapons, ornate bone fetishes.
Armour: Chitinous Plating (4 All)
Total TB: 8
Skills: Acrobatics (Ag), Awareness (Per), Dodge (Ag) +10, Parry (WS), Survival (Per).
Talents: Ambidextrous, Berserk Charge, Blind Fighting, Catfall, Combat Master, Hard Target, Heightened Senses (Smell), Leap Up.
Traits: Bestial, Crawler, Deadly Natural Weapons, Quadruped, Size (5), Sturdy, Unnatural Toughness (3).
Weapons: Scything forelimbs (Melee; 2d10+4; Pen 2).
Total TB: 8
Skills: Awareness (Per), Dodge (Ag) +20.
Traits: Bestial, Daemonic (2), Dark-sight, Flyer (4), From Beyond, Unnatural Toughness (6), Size (2), Swarm, Vectors of the Plague God's Mirth†.
†Vectors of the Plague God's Mirth: Whenever this creature hits with a melee attack (regardless of whether or not it inflicts Damage), the target must make a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test. If the target fails, he must roll on Table 2-1: Boons of the Plague God (see page 40) and immediately apply the results. Non-living creatures (and creatures immune to disease) are immune to this effect.
Weapons: Infectious Maw (Melee; 1d5-3; Pen 0).
"Travel the Vortex, my pretties! Wander free, wander far! Spread the Rotfather's gifts and blessings! You are his beloved vectors; there shall be no let or hindrance to your passage!"
— Transmission intercept from the junkyard moon of Alactia
The world of Hindrance, an unprepossessing sallow orb of yellow-brown sands, swathed in murky storms and blasted by a constant stream of Warp energies which swirl and skirl around it, squats within a few scant weeks' travel from the Thirteenth Station of Passage. One of the Gloaming Worlds at the outer edge of the Screaming Vortex, Hindrance's growing reputation as a place sacred to the Lord of Decay has led it to become a place of fevered pilgrimage for Nurgle's followers. Myths and legends surrounding the planet abound; the tattered and rusting vessels of the Nurg Culti now regularly lay over for short periods to allow passengers to disembark and seek some sign of their festering Lord's approval or favour.
Hindrance's planetary system lies directly in the path of a notorious Warp-current known as the Black Gyre, which tips craft emerging from the corpse-shrouded maw of the Thirteenth Station of Passage directly into a whirlpool of eldritch energies which gush inward towards the heart of the Vortex. The Gyre skittishly curls around the hateful region of space known as the Anathema and plunges in a vast spiral into the Gloaming Worlds region. For those caught within the Gyre's clutches, the experience is very much like being trapped in a small boat on a fast flowing river being impelled towards a vertiginous waterfall. The Warp current tears at and rattles any ship that traverses it, the sounds of a billion claws raking along the hull's exterior driving those within to distraction, and making a mockery of attempts to escape. Those battered vessels which survive the Gyre's onslaught are deposited on the outskirts of the Hindrance system.
The system consists of a dim brown dwarf star, then Hindrance itself, a sickly desert world, and Hindrance's two moons, Alactia and Megaria. The nameless star emits a bruised, guttering light and enough heat to provide a narrow habitable zone. Hindrance and its moons float within this zone, locked in a tight, almost inconceivably complex orbit. All three intermittently wander through the pale un-light of the Black Gyre's current, which pours slowly around and between them, flowing in an eerie and unpredictable cascade of unfathomable energies. Where these energies touch each world they scour and blast them, taking the form of great storms that crawl slowly across the surface.
Those entering the Hindrance system from space, whether by accident or design, find themselves challenged upon approach by a small but potent fleet of battered system monitors and light raiders operating from the rusted moon of Alactia. This fleet, known as the Septet, is unusual within the Screaming Vortex for its ostensibly casual attitude towards interlopers. Typically, visitors are hailed in a benign, worldly, and friendly fashion in the name of the Lord of Decay and invited to state their business. Anything short of an expression of devotion to Tzeentch or an outright declaration of an intent to attack the Septet, Hindrance, or its moons is met with a hearty welcome to the system and a cheerful declaration that the travellers are free to partake in all that Hindrance and its environs has to offer. The Septet will escort visitors to any destination within the system, though they themselves will steer clear of entering the orbit of the black moon, Megaria.
Hindrance is a fundamentally ugly and bleak world. From orbit its sandy surface is the colour of decaying, greasy flesh. Pockmarked with impact craters from some long forgotten prehistoric cataclysm, the planet is blanketed in endless grimy deserts which are interrupted only by occasional small, black, dead, silty, and oily seas, which ceaselessly gnaw at the crumbling coasts, eroding them slowly but inevitably.
As Hindrance and its moons spin ponderously around the system's feeble star, they pass unpredictably through the flow of the Black Gyre itself, a current of pure ætheric energy that could not exist outside the Screaming Vortex. Such Warp currents, where they touch the surface of a world, are immensely dangerous to anything living on its surface.
In Hindrance's case, where the edge of the Black Gyre's energies first touch the atmosphere of the planet they initially interact with its weak magnetic field, forming sinister flickering green and yellow lights known locally as the Aurora Rancidus. The Aurora is regarded by those who travel the surface of Hindrance as a harbinger of a greater peril, like scintillating scotoma before a migraine, a sign that the Warp-stuff that flows at the heart of the Gyre is about to enter the atmosphere.
Where the true Warp-tainted energies of the Black Gyre seep through the atmosphere, they fall towards Hindrance's surface like stagnant water poured into rancid oil. As they fall, these vast forces coalesce into colossal thunderheads, grey and brown storm clouds that interact violently with the thin dusty air of the world. Vortices the size of continents form, with winds gusting at speeds of hundreds of miles an hour, spinning widdershins across the face of the planet, scouring away everything beneath them.
The storms are so frequent, so unpredictable, so deadly and destructive that nothing can be built permanently upon the surface of Hindrance. It is a world that is constantly blasted and eroded, constantly disintegrating, decaying from one state to a more disordered one. Paradoxically, it is this very quality which makes it so attractive to those who revere the dark god, Nurgle.
Given the vast Warp-storms which buffet the atmosphere, reaching the surface of the planet is no simple task. At any one time there are two or three such nightmare storms crawling slowly across it, and a skilled (or insane) shuttle pilot is required to deposit travellers safely. Fortunately, the Masters of the ships of the Septet have a number of such pilots indentured into their service, and they are happy to barter for the price of passage. Payment in the form of interesting new plagues is particularly prized, but they have been known to accept dilapidated ship components or other eccentric symbolic contributions that amuse them.
There are few permanent settlements on Hindrance; the world is inimical to prolonged human habitation, lacking potable water or sufficient sunlight to foster the growth of even the hardiest crops. Although the thin, dusty air technically contains the correct combination of elements in broadly the correct proportions to render it breathable for augmented humans, the atmosphere is filled with microscopic dust particles which clog the lungs, causing visitors to hack and cough miserably within minutes of arrival. Prolonged exposure to the planet's air causes the lungs to fill with bloody froth, which can lead to death if left untreated.
The skies are grey and stormy, and from the surface the sun appears only as a distant brown smudge, its weak light barely penetrating the murky gloom. While there are small mountain ranges of crumbling sandstone, and minuscule polar caps formed of yellowing and poisonous ice, the principle topography is desert.
Despite the harsh nature of the world's climate, it is far from uninhabited. Visitors escorted to the surface of Hindrance within the rattling and decrepit interiors of the Septet's shuttles are deposited outside the bounds of Pusula, a tiny, filthy ramshackle shanty town of around 300 souls.
Pusula is the creation of a burgeoning pilgrim culture emerging among the Nurg Culti of the Screaming Vortex, a movement which, despite only emerging within the last handful of decades, seems to enjoy a vivid canon of wicked myths and fables of apparently ancient provenance. This loose collective of pilgrims are a varied lot, their only common denominators being a devotion to Nurgle, an obsession with accumulating interesting new diseases, and a love of travel. They wander across the entire Screaming Vortex and beyond, like a swarm of flies, never settling for long, always cheerfully seeking to infect whatever lies beyond the next hill, the next planet, the next Sector.
There are certain sites which act as nexuses for these peripatetic lepers; particular places which speak to something deep within their polluted souls, and which serve to draw them together for a time to exchange illnesses and reconfirm their faith. Pusula has become such a place.
The town is composed of temporary dwellings constructed with whatever material the Nurg Culti had to hand when they arrived. As such it is a patchwork shantytown, a cluttered and messy place thrown together haphazardly. Tents are the most common form of accommodation, though shacks built from crates and improvised caravans made from bones are also often seen. Pusula is built on a single dust track "street" over a pair of ancient rusty shipping containers of Imperial manufacture, which have been buried beneath the gritty desert sands. These containers are used as septic tanks for the town, though they double as shelters when the Warp-tainted storms pass by, obliterating everything on the surface. Most would find the idea of being confined neck deep in ordure for days on end with hundreds of others in a tiny underground space utterly appalling, but to the Nurg Culti of Pusula, this is regarded as an amusing diversion, a potential anecdote to regale fellow travellers with on some future occasion. Indeed, some speak highly of the experience, referring jocularly to "taking the waters on Hindrance" as if they had visited some famed spa on an exotic Imperial paradise world.
The town is routinely destroyed by the frequent Warp-storms; this will happen two or three times every year. However, its inhabitants are hardy and optimistic. After riding out the storm in their reeking bunker, the resilient group of survivors simply emerges to gather up whatever building materials remain within a five mile radius and begin again. They regard this constant cycle of construction, decay, destruction, and rebuilding as amusingly symbolic of Nurgle himself.
Pusula is, unusually for a town frequented by followers of the Ruinous Powers, a generally peaceful place. There are occasional outbreaks of violence between cultists, but these usually take place during the rush to the storm shelters, and as such are regarded as unfortunate side effects of circumstances beyond the control of all involved. Pusula is very much a stopover town, a place to visit briefly, and there are no permanent residents.
A rich oral tradition is emerging among the cultists of Nurgle who visit Pusula. Whichever is the largest shack, caravan, or tent present within the town at any one time acts as a general meeting place for the assembled cultists. As the weak light of the sun fades over the horizon, they regale each other with stories about the Plaguefather, and in particular his relationship with the world of Hindrance, which is starting to be regarded as a world holy to him.
It is now traditional for those Plague Cultists who visit Hindrance to take three steps in their pilgrimage to the planet. Firstly, they must arrive and listen to the legends of those who have travelled into the wastes of Hindrance before them. Secondly, they must then take a pilgrimage into the deepest deserts themselves, in order to commune with the desolate, entropic heart of Nurgle himself. Finally, those who survive this journey (and most do not) must return to Pusula and pass on both what they have learned and what they have been infected with.
The tattered pilgrims of the Plague God are drawn to Hindrance by the belief that there is an intensely symbolic and magically significant link between the planet and Nurgle himself. They see his rotting hand everywhere in the world; in the constant scouring and destruction of the Warp-storms, in the crumbling of the mountains to desert. They believe that Hindrance is an entropic paradise, a world that decays endlessly, a place of divine judgement, punishment, and teaching where Grandfather Nurgle tests the faith of his followers. Those who truly wish to commune with their dark god must travel here and journey to the heart of the deepest Warp-scoured wastes, there to experience dreams and visions that illuminate their master's plans for them. They believe that here Nurgle either sadly chides his errant children for their failings before magnanimously setting them back upon the path to glory, their sins forgiven, their faith having been tested and restored, or if their faith is weak, punishes them, blasting their souls and funnelling them directly into the Warp itself.
Those who venture forth from Pusula into the wastes of Hindrance tend to do so in jovial plague caravans, filled with dozens of pilgrims bickering cheerfully among themselves. Those few surviving cultists who stagger back in ones and twos to Pusula are somehow altered by the experience. No less jocular, they are nevertheless more focussed, more devoted to the task of spreading Nurgle's gifts beyond the Screaming Vortex. They are said to have completed the bleak pilgrimage, and their words are hung upon by other Nurg Culti.
Those who survive the bleak pilgrimage speak in reedy, phlegmy voices of journeys lasting weeks through the blasted desert wastes of Hindrance. They describe an experience which tested their endurance to the very limit: of limping, scab-shod through endless fields of flinty blade-edged rock, of running low on supplies and being forced to turn to cannibalism, of consuming the reeking and diseased corpses of their fellow pilgrims.
The survivors speak of encountering deserts of yellow-brown bone-scatted sand. At first they encounter a few separated femurs, the odd skull - nothing to the jaded cultists of Nurgle, who will have seen far worse on the journey to Hindrance. Surely these are the remnants of some previous failed caravan, one whose members lacked the true faith of those who now pass them.
Soon, however, the travellers speak of encountering more bones. Not in ones and twos, but in sevens and eights, piled up and against each other randomly. Then dozens in one place. Then hundreds stretched out over several miles. And finally the travellers speak of deserts that begin to consist solely of bones, the grains of sand sinking away beneath the endless tide of death. Millions - perhaps billions - of corpses. The rheumy, inflamed eyes of the surviving bleak pilgrims shine with an unhealthy light as they speak of endless piles of yellowing, desiccated bones, slowly disintegrating and collapsing into dust beneath the pitiless grey lowering skies.
Where have these bodies come from, the Culti ask each other. Theories abound. Some say a great war must have taken place on Hindrance in ages past. Others say these are the corpses of useless slaves dumped from orbit by the Dark Magi of Alactia. Still more posit that there must have been some great civilisation here once, overtaken by a great plague, a suggestion which causes much excitement among those assembled.
Those who have walked the bleak pilgrimage shake their misshapen heads, and claim that instead these are the bodies of all those who died in Nurgle's service, transported here mystically by his servants. They raspingly assert that Hindrance is the cankered eye of Nurgle himself, and that to walk across its surface is to draw his attention to oneself; those deserving of his grace are rewarded, those undeserving are shattered, their bodies cast to the dry surface of the world to crumble to dust.
They further regale their rapt listeners with tales of Nurgle playfully testing those who wander the Bone Deserts with encounters with the corpses of the faithless, those who died in the service of Nurgle but without the true love of their master rotting their souls from within. They say that after walking for many days through the Bone Deserts, subsisting upon the rare meagre fragments of parched flesh remaining on the bones of the fallen, the dead themselves arise and challenge them. These "Faithless" take the form of the better preserved bodies, still bearing odd scraps of clothing. Ghastly, sand-encrusted dried corpses, the Faithless stagger to their disintegrating feet and lurch towards the pilgrims; their mouths open in a wordless scream of jealousy and hatred, bemoaning the favour shown to them by their very continued existence. Such pitiful remnants of the fallen are feeble individually, but soon arise in greater numbers, shambling towards the interlopers in their dozens. They cannot be pleaded or bargained with, and must be smashed aside by the wanderer, cleaved into their base components, a sight which is claimed by the bleak pilgrims to delight Nurgle, symbolic as it is of the process of disintegration, of things falling apart and returning to the dust.
Total TB: 3
Skills: Awareness (Per), Heightened Sense (Sound).
Traits: Dark-sight, Fear (2), From Beyond, Natural Weapons, Vectors of the Plague God's Mirth†.
Weapons: Rotted Fangs and Desiccated Talons (Melee; 1d10+2; Pen 0).
Gear: Tattered rags and parched scraps of skin.
†Vectors of the Plague God's Mirth: Whenever this creature hits with a melee attack (regardless of whether or not it inflicts Damage), the target must make a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test. If the target fails, he must roll on Table 2-1: Boons of the Plague God (see page 40) and immediately apply the results. Non-living creatures (and creatures immune to disease) are immune to this effect.
Those few pilgrims who claim to have survived encounters with the massed Faithless say that they eventually pass through the Bone Deserts, discarded gleaming skulls glaring reproachfully at their backs, and that they wander into a new region, the remnant of what must once have been a great volcanic plain.
Here, the cultists spend days wandering across a silent, utterly desolate landscape, with no geological feature more than a few inches high. The skies are dark, a few weak stars glimmering indistinctly. The twin moons pass overhead in unpredictable patterns, obscuring the stars and occasionally eclipsing the murky sun. The glass-black moon of Megaria causes those who gaze upon it for too long to fall into a deep depression, thoughts of despair and misery overtaking their conscious minds. When the rusting junk-moon of Alactia is overhead, those same individuals become cheerful and energetic, despite being by now clothed only in tattered rags and being delirious from lack of food or water.
The few survivors of this fevered death march describe how after what could have been days or weeks of walking, with black sand crunching underfoot, the sky darkens, the tell-tale signs of one of the great Warp-storms' approach. All surviving Bleak Pilgrims tell their audience that at this point they were expecting to be torn to shreds by the power of the storm, which shrieks and wails, and seems to funnel itself purposefully over the horizon. The bleak pilgrims describe how they followed the storm, drawn by some instinctual feeling that they were being called by the howl of the wind itself.
They tell of how, after journeying for a further age, they came to see in the distance what appeared to be some form of low building. As they approach, they realised that they were at a great distance from it, and that as such it was built on an impossibly titanic scale. Approaching the building over hours that eventually stretch into days, they finally are able to pick out its individual features.
There are many different descriptions of the building, and the precise details vary for each teller, leading some to suppose that every cultist sees a different construction. Some describe fallen pillars hundreds of feet in circumference that would have reached kilometres into the sky, supporting a roof that must have weighed more than most cities before its collapse. Others mention crumbling spires or domes; yet others talk of a single fallen ziggurat slumped under its own weight. However it appears physically to those who stagger back from the wastes, the building is invariably described as a "temple", albeit one constructed on a scale which would dwarf all but the largest cathedrals of the Imperium's Corpse-God. Apparently hewn from some black stone, the temple is always spoken of as broken and shattered, and all who have seen it agree that it continues to crumble and disintegrate before their very eyes, with some architectural feature sliding away to oblivion as they approach, or with a constant rain of slates or bricks falling from some obscure corner. This "Broken Temple", as it is known, sits at the heart of the eye of the vast storm which whirls around it.
As the black clouds of the storm move towards the centre of the vast whirlpool centred over the Temple, they spasm sickeningly, coalescing and splintering into thousands of bestial, winged figures that flock to the jagged rafters of the Broken Temple. The Bleak Pilgrims claim these Chaos Furies are Daemons formed from the very soul-stuff of those faithless Nurgle worshipers whose corpses line the Bone Deserts. They squabble like animals, raking the basalt walls of the temple with their claws, yet they do not assault the pilgrims who approach the temple.
Total TB: 4
Skills: Awareness (Per), Dodge (Ag) +20, Psyniscience (Per).
Talents: Heightened Sense (Smell).
Traits: Bestial, Daemonic (1), Dark-sight, Flyer (5), From Beyond, Deadly Natural Weapons.
Weapons: Claws and Fangs (2d10+3 R; Pen 1d5; Tearing).
Daemonic Presence: All enemies within 5 metres of a Chaos Fury suffer a -5 penalty to Willpower Tests.
Inside the temple, stained by accumulated centuries of the stinking daemonic spoor of the Furies, the pilgrims discovered names etched into the walls of the building itself; inscribed in tiny letters, barely legible. There were billions of names, reaching up the towering internal walls of the temple, covering every nook and sconce. These are, the Bleak Pilgrims claim, the names of the followers of Nurgle, chiselled here by some unseen, foetid tallyman seeking fruitlessly to catalogue and define the universe, an insane and impossible effort to trap the universe in unchanging decay forever. Here the few surviving pilgrims find themselves compelled to scour the walls of the temple for their own names, proving their worth as followers of the Rotfather. Given the impossible scale of the Broken Temple, this task can take many weeks; the pilgrims are forced to degrade themselves by consuming the corpses of those who have failed to complete the task; to construct ladders from the bones of these same fallen which enable them to peruse the names marked on the higher walls.
Those who admit defeat in this seemingly impossible task are instantly torn to shreds by the ever-vigilant Furies, their souls ripped from their bodies, there to join the ranks of their killers. However, those who persevere, who remain cheerful despite the seemingly impossible and fruitless nature of their task, are eventually rewarded with sight of their own name, scratched in tiny letters feebly into some obscure cranny of the cyclopean temple. At this moment, their status as a true follower of Nurgle is confirmed. Every survivor of the bleak pilgrimage describes this as a seminal moment, where they feel the eye of Nurgle himself upon them, and hear his distant avuncular chuckle. The Furies shriek impotently, enraged to see another soul escape their clutches, and flee back into the heart of the storm, which retreats and fades away to nothingness, leaving the pilgrims free to continue on their way.
Those Bleak Pilgrims who have wandered the Bone Deserts and who have survived the trial of the Broken Temple are now marked as more robust and deadly than those who did not. Their fortitude has been noted by Nurgle, but there is one final test for them.
As they recount their experiences to those who have yet to commence their pilgrimage, their eyes grow bright with awe, and their voices tremble, their throats filling with sickly phlegm. They speak of how, as they staggered in tattered rags, dehydrated, hallucinating, starving, and falling prey at last to the many diseases which have beset them for years, they encountered a single bloated pilgrim in a caravan apparently constructed from bones, pulled by a staggering pony whose tattered and rotting hide hung loosely from its skeletal frame. They explain how the fat, distended pilgrim invited them to rest awhile within his caravan, giving them stinking food and brackish water to drink, nursing them through the worst of their fevers and into yet higher and more disturbed ones.
The Bleak Pilgrims dreamily speak of days in the company of this obese traveller, whose basso profundo laugh and easy, cheerful manner they eagerly attempt to imitate, to the delight of all listeners. They talk of how they would engage in games of riddles, though none of the Bleak Pilgrims can be drawn on the questions that were posed.
Finally, they gleefully divulge that their portly saviour ultimately revealed himself to be no less a figure than Nurgle himself, testing the Bleak Pilgrims' faith and finding them equal to the task of travelling onwards to infect the world. This is invariably too much for the listeners, who angrily denounce the storytellers for exceeding the bounds of reason, and straying perhaps even into blasphemy. Such charges are met equally angrily by the Bleak Pilgrims, and at this stage lesioned hands invariably stray to rusted daggers. Typically, some croaky voice of reason will pipe up at this point, suggesting conciliatory that perhaps the bloated pilgrim is some aspect of Nurgle, or a Greater Daemon in his service. Tempers calm, and a civil debate then proceeds upon the nature of Nurgle's Daemons and how the distinction between the god and the Greater Daemon is a fine one, and perhaps academic. All agree that the bloated pilgrim is truly blessed to have survived his pilgrimage, and voices are raised in praise to the Lord of Decay.
Those who complete this final trial are surely the favoured of Nurgle, and rank among the most devout of his servants. No one knows what happens to those who fail his tests, though it is likely that their bodies rest on Hindrance forever as piles of dust-coated bones within the deep desert, their souls screaming eternally in the insane eddies of the Black Gyre.
"Slog for two-hundred paces across the surface of the curse-moon. There your ultimate truth awaits you, with bated breath."
— The Many-Eyed Oracle of Chaos
Hanging silently in the grey skies of Hindrance, the moon of Megaria is a baleful and sombre presence. It appears as a black orb, utterly dark. Light seems to fall into the moon itself, and it radiates a dour and palpable sense of menace.
Travelling to the moon is an almost suicidal endeavour; any ship that does so discovers that Megaria possesses a gravity well that is completely out of proportion to its size. While the moon's radius itself is less than a thousand kilometres, it registers to the systems of any approaching vessel as possessing a gravitational field equivalent to dozens of solar masses, triggering klaxons and alarms throughout the ship, as the hull flexes and shudders under the pressure. No ship that has travelled to Megaria has ever returned: instead they have plummeted to the surface, crushed under their own immense weight, which is magnified many thousand fold by the moon's bizarre gravitational field.
The moon thus possesses many of the properties of a neutron star, though its size and stable (if eccentric) orbit around Hindrance, a medium-sized terrestrial planet, suggests that it is in fact something else. For most visitors to the Hindrance system it remains a disquieting enigma.
However, for those who worship Nurgle, it is yet another holy place, symbolic of that aspect of his character which represents the eternal battle against despair and death. Megaria represents death, the end of all, utter desolation and ruin. It is the reaction of living things to the fear of such concepts that empowers Nurgle. As a result, those powerful sorcerers who worship Nurgle undertake great vision-quests to the surface of Megaria in order to steep themselves in its baleful energies.
"They say that the Magi Morbos have a peculiar inclination toward scrap-code subterfuge; if the rumours are true and I can claim their secrets, no machine-spirit will be safe from my viro-indoctrination!"
— Rhodan Polikharp, Viral Virtuoso of Addolorata
The third major body of the Hindrance system, Alactia, is famed across the Screaming Vortex as "the junkyard moon". From space, its pitted and rusting iron surface resembles an overripe, rotting, orange-coloured fruit, surrounded by buzzing insects. These "insects" are in fact the mercantile fleets of the Dark Tech-Priests of Alactia, the Magi Morbos, who, from small beginnings, have built their world into a minor regional power.
Alactia is the most habitable of the three realms of the Hindrance system, though this is hardly a proud boast given the generally inhospitable nature of its terrestrial bodies. It bears a thin, acrid atmosphere that can sustain human life of a kind, and it lacks the vicious Warp-driven storms of Hindrance or the crushing gravitational field of Megaria. The surface of Alactia is, save for a few denuded landing fields serving as rough and ready starports, entirely covered in a blanket of rusting mechanical devices, stacked into towers hundreds of feet high. The moon brims with decrepit mechanical equipment scavenged by the Magi Morbos from sources across the Screaming Vortex and the Koronus Expanse. There are small, hopelessly polluted seas, tainted with runoff chemicals leaking from the vast graveyard of broken vehicles and machines piled along their shores. These seas now only serve to create a sickly precipitation which coats the entire surface of the moon in a veneer of grimy rust.
The Hindrance system occupies a strategic location close to the Thirteenth Station of Passage. It has since time immemorial attracted interest from those enemies of the Imperium who sought to travel between the nightmare realm of the Screaming Vortex and the Koronus Expanse beyond. Some three centuries ago, a small Nurgle-worshipping cult of hereteks affiliated with a larger group of pirates operating within the Koronus Expanse crossed into the Screaming Vortex, and found the Hindrance system much to their liking. These pioneers were much impressed by the clear symbolic links between the system and The Lord of Decay, and thus they opted to stay and transform the world into a place pleasing to them.
Known since that time as the Magi Morbos, these Nurglesque hereteks lack the profound depth of spiritual corruption found in the Biomancers of the Writhing World or the unholy technological prowess of the Warpsmiths of Guelph. Theirs is a rougher, readier, and more practical form of expertise, still empowered by the twisted energies of the Screaming Vortex, but focussed upon achieving more modest aims than the creation of new life or the binding of Daemons into mechanical devices. The Magi Morbos instead see themselves as tradesmen, there to fulfil a pressing need among the spacefaring communities of the Screaming Vortex for the maintenance of their vessels, which are invariably much battered by the prevailing conditions. The Magi Morbos spend their days in worn and patched vacuum suits, merrily toiling on the hulls of orbiting ancient starships, like tics crawling across the corpses of beached whales.
The Magi Morbos are happy to accept payment for this work in the form of slaves or plunder, but show a particular interest in consideration that takes the form of malfunctioning mechanical devices, the older, more decrepit and complex the better. Alternatively, customers are free to infect one of the Magi with some new and interesting disease, or to consent to have their entire crew receive any of the various techno-maladies and viral wrack-codes carried by the Magi themselves in payment for work carried out.
"You worship flesh, cultist; savour feeling, pretty flesh. Battle is done. You lay dying, now learning the truth of flesh - from flesh that all comes and all goes, and as the Lord of All demands."
— Garlea, Priornite of Mire
Observing Mire from afar, there is little more to perceive than a mass of white and grey clouds that swirl above a barren brown landscape stretched across the whole of the planet. There are no mountains, seas, or fields of growth; only the occasional plain of flat stone or dismal bog dots the land. The texture of the visible terrain is unnaturally smooth and uniform, perpetually racked by rainfall that is as persistent as it is common, no matter where on the planet you might be. Despite the atmosphere's consistent weather patterns, the entire world is almost devoid of life.
The few sorcerers and hereteks unfortunate enough to find themselves on Mire have developed numerous theories as to why and how the planet came to be so barren; postulations of a travelling Warp vortex, races of elemental xenos, and the machinations of renegade Magos Biologis are among the most popular. The truth of the entire matter of Mire has been shrouded by the passage of time, but artefacts of its history can be found by the ambitious and foolhardy.
The near-constant rainfall here does more than fester rot and infection in the living; the entire world is in a constant cycle of decay. The few sheets of slate rock that dot the planet shift slightly in the least viscous seas of mud, opening air pockets re-sealed millennia ago after the world's tumultuous journey through the Warp and into the Screaming Vortex. The most devoted savants of the damnable Imperium of Man and the greatest heretic scholars know only inklings of Mire's true history, and those that perform their own archaeological expeditions rarely escape the ever-churning subterranean caverns.
Once a lush world filled with super-flora, the jungles of Mire developed pestilence of a potency and infectious nature equalled by no other planet in the galaxy. The venomous swamps and forests bred equally toxic fauna, leaving the smartest (and most dominant) life forms, Mirens, to develop cannibalistic diets, consuming their own dead to survive. With this practice and the natural hazards of the planet, its denizens naturally fell into worship of the Plague Lord to survive the myriad diseases spawned on Mire.
No diplomatic visit was required before Inquisitor Vardask deemed it unworthy of re-integration and called down the order for Exterminatus Extremis. Miren fortune-tellers foresaw the death of their world in the entrails of their victims, brought about by the False Emperor from afar and carried out with the most violent pathogen known to sentient beings; a grand ritual was prepared and all the most devout members of their race gathered in the capital of Virulous to beseech the Plague Father for his protection from their impending doom.
Nurgle saw fit to protect these supplicants. The Ruinous Power briefly manifested near Mire, playfully swatting the Nihilo Ordere from orbit, causing the space flotilla to pull back and withhold most of their firebomb payload, and trusting that the Life-Eater virus would do its job. The Great Corruptor then wrapped his pestilential arms around the devoted in Virulous, absorbing the Life-Eater virus that the Imperium of Man dropped onto Mire. Countless acolytes fell to the diseases that emanated from the Father of Pestilence, their immune systems as incapable of coping with the potency of his decaying form as the few plants that survived salvation at the hands of Nurgle.
As the Ruinous Power's attentions left Mire, the vessel's reactor finally exploded; the proximity to the Plague Father's presence caused the huge energy signature to jump the entire world into the Warp, careening through the Empyrean to eventually land in the Screaming Vortex. Travel through the Immaterium shook the planet's fragile core and released massive pockets of air (many displacing the countless Daemons that now inhabit the planet). These previously trapped gasses mixed with the atmosphere and created a torrential downpour that lasted for decades. The Long Rain cleaned away large slabs of slate dislodged by the quakes, but all of the remaining landmasses were washed away into seas and oceans of mud. Those that survived the cataclysm spread word of the inevitable death to any that brave the below.
Of the original worshippers saved by Nurgle, only one or two million survived the Long Rain, and half as many perished from the final death throes of the Nihilo Ordere. Those that remained have been bred by the Lord of Decay over centuries, the diseases endured by their ancestors hand-selected by the Plague Lord far in advance to ensure that the perfect carrier hosts eventually sire the bloodline. The warlords that take exceptional Mirens, from sage Priornites to savage Death Priests, to serve in their Black Crusades unknowingly carry with them the truest missionaries of the Master of Pestilence, spreading his infectious gospel to the far corners of the galaxy.
The Mirens spread out from Virulous to the isolated slate rocks that provide the planet's only secure ground, carrying samples from the ultra-polluted swamps that survived a brush against their lord's presence in the vain hopes of cultivating an edible resource. Strained to the limits of fatigue and starvation, they settled apart from one another, creating dynasties determined by plagues passed on through generations of cerebral consumption. The strongest Mirens and those naturally gifted by Chaos are privy to this revered bounty of the recent dead, creating a potent new ruling class often steeped in the powers of the Warp: Priornites.
These brain-gorged scions of disease embody the most potent psychic abilities granted by Nurgle and provide the means through which the Great Corruptor brings his agents onto Mire. This intense breeding program and despicable diet has left a genetic flaw designed for the children of the Plague Father aeons ago; every thousandth Miren born to the tribes possesses a superior immune system extremely resistant to disease. These hapless creatures (named "Pyrions" by their progenitors) are ritually sacrificed by Mire's Death Priests, their insides torn asunder and exposed to sacred samples of Nurgle's Rot before they are devoured.
The Daemons of the Master of Pestilence arise from these ritual piles of discarded humanity, fully materialised in all their putrid glory. This blasphemous practice has gone on for centuries and now the Plague Lord's Warp-children wander the endless mud flats of Mire, spreading the few diseases not already shared by the tribes of Mirens that fiercely protect their tumultuous territories.
If it could be said that Mire had a capital, Virulous would be it. Situated in the shelter granted by a massive piece of deck plating that ripped off the Nihilo Ordere as it entered into the atmosphere, the entire settlement lives and dies upon the capricious whim of the Keisari, who is blessed by the Plague God.
The Keisari of Virulous grew fat on the brains of every corpse that fell near his tribe, gorging himself for decades on the neural delights of thousands of Mirens. As the population of his city grew, so did the presence of Daemons on Mire. Now dozens of Plaguebearers, Nurglings, Beasts of Nurgle, and Rot Flies roam outside of the haphazard settlement, ensuring that the collected dead are brought to the Keisari for consumption. The ultra-potent Priornite has come to resemble the Plague Father; a rotting collection of fatty tissue ripe with disease and infections, his incredible psychic powers amplified by the disgusting nutrient paste developed only for his consumption. The valuable brains of any corpses that fall in Virulous are gathered together in a massive vat of peculiar liquids, providing the Keisari with mental nourishment.
Virulous is an especially dangerous place, a world where dog literally eats dog, or where they would if they hadn't long ago been eaten by the mutated string of humanity that calls Mire home. The rare establishment of civilised intent can be found, but most Mirens believe them to be haunted. Ultimately, few ever intend to find themselves on Mire, and fewer still stay any longer than absolutely necessary.
The Keisari knows of nearly all that happens on Mire (which is fairly little), absorbing all the knowledge within the minds of those he consumes. There are scores of rumours that travel to and fro in Virulous (most of them about potential sources of food) but few hold any truth. One that has interested the Keisari for some time is the local legend of a death vault in the collapsing mud caverns a few days' travel from the settlement. If there is any veracity to the tale, a Warp-sustained strain of the Life-Eater Virus is suspended in a bubble of time that has extended its lifespan a billion-fold.
A more troubling rumour has reached the Keisari and he has begun to mobilise and gather the unholy forces at his beck and call to address it. Somewhere far removed from Virulous, a Pyrion survived a regimen of harrowing Nurgle's Rot infections and has become an extremely powerful psyker. While the population shuns and fears this unnaturally clean outcast, the breadth and potency of his psychic powers are the stuff of legend, and it is said that he roams the mud flats of Mire. The Keisari rejoices that one day he will be joined with the Great Corruptor, but is in no hurry to do so, and repulses at the thought of a Pyrion being the means of his end.
Whether or not that bears any truth, there is a great danger that lurks in the endless mud flats which the Keisari is always prepared for. The scores of countless bodies of those who died in the Exterminatus Extremis of Mire suffuse the very soil with bio-matter, and some of their souls linger as well. A Lutomorbus the size of a starship wanders the wastes, crushing Mirens and Daemons alike with its ponderous strides.
Several aspiring Priornites and hundreds of Mirens have died attempting to find the rumoured haven of the Life-Eater virus in a desperate attempt to earn the Keisari's favour and a week's worth of all the food they can eat - their bloated emperor desperately wishes to taste the natural growth of Mire, and will reward anyone that can provide it with these boons and gifts more wicked still.
Recently, the word that travels through Virulous claims that the Pyrion psyker has begun to collect others like himself, and that he plans to sacrifice them all to the Plague Father in a grand ritual that will change the world of Mire forever. The ley lines of the Warp carry portent of this impending rite, and some of the psychic energies from this motley warband are visible from across the expanse of the galaxy to those with a means to perceive them. The end result of the mass sacrifice could be enough to bring this Pyrion, or anyone that manages to take this boon for themselves, to Daemonhood.
Sightings of the titanic Lutomorbus are as infrequent as an eclipse but, should it ever threaten Virulous, the Keisari has a dedicated (and moderately well-fed) selection of Mirens prepared to carry him within the gutted remains of the Nihilo Ordere and down the mile-long caverns he has had excavated within the slate rock beneath it. Should there be any chance that it appears near his settlement, the Keisari will reward any warband capable of subduing or otherwise diverting the monstrosity, perhaps even sharing some of the many heretical (and assuredly inedible) treasures he keeps in this hideaway deep within the slate. Miren hunters, Death Priests, Priornites, and even off-worlders have all been slain seeking this devastating creature.
These gaunt alabaster humanoids have soft skin covered in diseased flesh and infectious growth, their eyes devoid of pupils and consumed by darkness. Sharpened, yellow teeth spit out their mumbling feral language, degrading in quality as the esteem of its speaker increases. Hunched over and little other than bones, their afflicted skin is chitinous and rough, making their taloned hands into effective weapons.
Their tribal societies worship plagues and sickness, honouring those with the most aggressive or violent afflictions. Cannibalism is as fundamental to their culture as disease. When the rare Pyrion or "clean one" is found, if it is identified by a Death Priest, it is immediately slaughtered and consumed (just like all of the other dead on their home planet of Mire). The only part of the bodies of the dead that these voracious warriors do not consume is the brain, a sacred organ reserved only for their elite.
Armour: Dead Tissue (1 All)
Total TB: 4
Skills: Athletics (Strength) +0, Dodge (Ag) +0, Stealth (Ag) +0, Survival (Per) +0.
Talents: Lightning Reflexes, Resistance (Poisons).
Traits: Natural Weapons, Toxic (1), Unnatural Toughness (1).
Weapons: Claws and Teeth (1d10+3 R; Pen 0; Primitive , Toxic ).
Some Mirens are naturally gifted by the Plague Father, developing into psykers. These children are the scions of esteemed bloodlines and gain their abilities from generations of cerebral cannibalism that result in a wide range of encephalitic afflictions. Were it not for this sustained diet of brain matter (especially from their kin) these gifts would come to an end, but there never seems to be a time where a clan of these fearfully respected (and dubiously insane) Mirens is lacking a powerful Priornite.
Every Priornite champions a disease; all have access to Nurgle's Rot, but each carries their particular affliction as a badge of pride and supplication to the Plague Lord. While they might suffer from their sickness while in repose, in battle they are emboldened and empowered by the Great Corruptor, their bodies regenerating as soon as wounds are inflicted upon them.
Armour: Rotting Skin Robes (2 All)
Total TB: 6
Skills: Awareness (Per), Dodge (Ag) +10, Forbidden Lore (Nurgle) (Int) +10, Psyniscience (Per) +10.
Talents: Psy Rating (3), Resistance (Poisons).
Traits: Psyker, Regeneration (1), Toxic (1), Unnatural Toughness (2).
Weapons: Rotmind Rod (1d10+5 I; Pen 3; Force, Toxic (7)).
Psychic Powers: Field of Pestilence, Inviolable Flesh, Nurgle's Rot (see pages 215-216 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook).
The very soil of Mire is infused with the blood, bones, and brain matter of its populace, congealed instantly into organic slop by the Life-Eater Virus. While travelling through the Immaterium, something congealed the consciousness of the dead Mirens into walking monstrosities that have come to be known as Lutomorbus. These gargantuan creatures rise from the mud flats, their huge bodies formed from countless corpses that form into crude limbs. They walk the surface of the planet from time to time and no scholar yet has been brave or foolish enough to attempt to discover why (and live to tell of it, at least).
Legends tell of Priornites and Death Priests riding on the backs of these massive creatures as they wade into the few battles that mark the history of the dead world, though none are sure how they came to tame or negotiate with such mysterious, morbid beings. These massive amalgamations of the dead are ponderous but truly dangerous, slamming their enormous fists (jutting with multitudes of jagged and broken bones) into the ground with unnatural force. When a target flees or proves too nimble to slam with its limbs, the Lutomorbus flings pieces of its form at them instead; the corpses explode into bone shrapnel upon impact, killing most near wherever it lands. All the while, it wails a baleful moan as it fights or searches for ever more opponents to add to its body.
Total TB: 15
Skills: Awareness (Per) +10, Intimidate (Fel) +30, Logic (Int) +10, Psyniscience (Per).
Talents: Baleful Dirge, Combat Sense, Whirlwind of Death.
Traits: Dark-Sight, Deadly Natural Weapons, Fear 4, From Beyond, Multiple Arms (4), Natural Weapons, Size (7), Regeneration (7), Sonar Sense, Sturdy, The Stuff of Nightmares, Undying, Unnatural Strength (6), Unnatural Toughness (8).
Weapons: Massive fists (Melee; 2d10+14 I; Pen 7; Concussive , Felling ), corpse projectiles (Heavy; 30m; 1d10+14 I; Pen 3; Concussive , Blast , Felling ).
These bulks of festering Daemon-flesh are barely more intelligent than Chaos Spawn, but equally as playful as their diminutive cousins. They ooze across the battlefield, gleefully wrestling the nearest opponent; once they have succumbed to affliction or been crushed to death, the Beast of Nurgle moves to the nearest target to resume its ghastly sport.
Total TB: 12
Skills: Athletics (S), Awareness (Per).
Traits: Crawler, Daemonic (3), Dark Sight, Deadly Natural Weapons, Fear (3), From Beyond, Natural Weapons, Regeneration, Size (6), Spewing Tentacles†, Sturdy, Toxic (2), Trail of Slime††, Unnatural Toughness (5), Warp Instability.
Weapons: Tentacles (Melee; 1d10+5 R; Pen 0; Toxic ).
Daemonic Presence: All enemies within 20 metres of a Beast of Nurgle suffer a -10 penalty to Willpower Tests.
†Spewing Tentacles: Beasts of Nurgle bear a mass of tentacles on their backs. As a Full Action, a Beast of Nurgle can make a Ballistic Skill Test to unleash one of the following effects:
††Trail of Slime: Beasts of Nurgle leave a wake of disgusting slime wherever they walk. Any character who walks through an area so defiled must make a Difficult (-10) Toughness Test or suffer 1d10 Impact Damage (ignoring armour and Toughness Bonus) from the carcinogens in the rotting path.
These pernicious and capricious Daemons erupt from the boils and pustules that pock the fleshy hide of Great Unclean Ones. They caper and dance about the greater Daemons, causing mischief whenever possible, constantly giggling as they play. Their enemies are another matter entirely, and would do well to avoid their sharp claws; those that survive the rake of a Nurgling's talons often find their wounds festering and incurable.
Total TB: 4
Skills: Awareness (Per) +20.
Talents: Swift Attack, Takedown.
Traits: Daemonic (2), Deadly Natural Weapons, Fear (1), From Beyond, Natural Weapons, Swarm, Toxic (3), Warp Instability.
Weapons: Teeth and Claws (1d10+1 R; Pen 4; Toxic ).
Infected Wounds: Whenever a target fails the Toughness Test from the Toxic Quality of a Nurgling's attack, the target also suffers 1d5 Toughness Damage.
The cavalry of Nurgle are one of the fleetest and most dangerous assets of the Great Corruptor's forces. When the call to battle is given, high ranking Plaguebearers and affliction-indulgent Rot Flies undergo a mutual infection that binds their bodies together. They undergo this transformation simultaneously, sharing an intuitive rider-mount persona while gaining additional abilities and protections. They zip through armed conflicts, slashing down foes with Plague Swords while showering the battlefield in disease and pestilence with vile fluids ejected from putrid proboscises.
Total TB: 12
Skills: Awareness (Per) +20, Dodge +20, Psyniscience (Per) +10, Scholastic Lore (Numerology) (Int), Speak Language (Any One, Miren) (Int).
Talents: Crippling Strike.
Traits: Daemonic (5), Dark Sight, Fear (4), Flyer (6), From Beyond, Natural Weapons, Toxic (4), Unnatural Strength (3), Unnatural Toughness (2), Warp Instability.
Weapons: Plague Sword (1d10+11 R; Pen 4; Balanced, Toxic ), Pestilent Proboscis (Ranged; 30m; S/-/-; 1d10+4 I; Pen 2; Pestilent Slime†, Toxic ).
Infected Wounds: Whenever a target fails the Toughness Test from the Toxic Quality of a Plague Drone's attack, the target also suffers 1d5 Toughness Damage.
†Pestilent Slime: When the Plague Drone inflicts Damage (after reductions for armour and Toughness Bonus) with this weapon, the target also suffers 1d10 Toughness Damage.
Daemonic Presence: All enemies within 30 metres of a Plague Drone suffer a -20 penalty to Willpower Tests.
The Daemons of Mire do not entirely disperse when they are destroyed and fragments of their being suffuse the planet's soil. Shortly after the dead world's emergence from the Warp, thousands of Daemons that materialised within the many caverns beneath the surface were crushed to death as the mud-caves resealed themselves in torrential washes of dirt during the Long Rain. These disparate expressions of Nurgle's power congealed, coalescing into Abcellyoth, a true Herald of Nurgle. This collection of Warp-spawned entities has been said to turn into a tempest of vermin that descends onto settlements of Mirens bereft of their Priornite, consuming everything but the slate rock upon which their primitive mud-houses and tents once stood.
A scion of disease, this monstrous mass of vermin floats across the battlefield, sewing infection on the forces of enemies and allies alike. They wander the mud flats of Mire, doggedly pursuing anyone unlucky enough to cross their paths without a Priornite to assuage the eldritch consciousness. Even the ravenous Mirens choose not to eat a corpse left by Abcellyoth, leaving what little flesh remains to rot away, or else burning it upon a great pyre, before the ash carries more contagion onto the wind.
Total TB: 12
Skills: Awareness (Per) +10, Dodge (Ag) +10, Psyniscience (Per) +10, Scholastic Lore (Numerology) (Int), Speak Language (Miren) (Int).
Talents: Crippling Strike, Swift Attack.
Traits: Daemonic (6), Dark-sight, Fear 4, From Beyond, Natural Weapons, Sickly Influence†, Toxic (4), Unnatural Toughness (2), Unnatural Strength (2), Warp Instability.
Weapons: Claws and Teeth (1d10+7 R; Pen 5; Tearing, Toxic ), Daemonic Vomit (Pistol; 77m; 2d10+5 I; Pen 4; Toxic ).
Daemonic Presence: All enemies within 20 metres of Abcellyoth suffer a -20 penalty to Willpower Tests.
Cloud of Flies: Abcellyoth is composed, of and constantly surrounded by, thick clouds of insects. These noxious vermin provide the Daemon with 7 Armour Points of Cover (which fully regenerate at the beginning of each of its Turns). Abcellyoth can see clearly through this barrier and suffers no penalties from the Cloud of Flies.
Nurgle's Rot: A Herald of Nurgle may call upon the Great Corruptor as a Half Action, manifesting this power as though he was a psyker. As a Daemon, a Herald of Nurgle never rolls on the Perils of the Warp but lacking mortal psyker abilities, it always manifests this ability as a Psy Rating 3 effect that requires a roll on the Table 6-2: Psychic Phenomena (see page 210 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook). The Herald of Nurgle itself, however, is never subject to any negative effects from such rolls. When activated, this power nullifies the Cloud of Flies ability for one Turn as the vermin all swarm Abcellyoth's target to dispense the Plague Lord's horrid "blessings".
†Sickly Influence: Any creature that is struck by Abcellyoth's Vomit, Nurgle's Rot, or melee attacks must make a Difficult (-10) Toughness Test or suffer a -20 penalty to all Tests to attack Abcellyoth until the end of its next Turn.
The Thanator, an ancient overlord of Mire, is a Priornite of the most advanced age and festering power. His sorcerous abilities are terrifying in combat, and his maggot-worn mind is cunning still, despite the long ages he has ruled.
The Plague God has granted this loyal servant of his with not only eldritch gifts, but also with visions. The Thanator awaits the arrival of several powerful Heretics, on whose quest the Lord of Flies' buzzing, gurgling whispers say he must assist. While the Thanator would never defy his dark god, he demands the respect due him as an ancient and powerful patron of rot on the wretched world of Mire from all who pass through his domain. The Priornite Thanator plays an important role in the adventure contained in this volume, The Heart of the Vortex, guiding the Heretics to new heights of power and new depths of despair...
Armour: Putrid Flesh (1 All)
Total TB: 6
Skills: Awareness (Per) +0, Forbidden Lore (Nurgle) (Int) +20, Psyniscience (Per) +20.
Talents: Psy Rating (5), Resistance (Poisons).
Traits: Psyker, Regeneration (7), Toxic (7), Unnatural Toughness (3).
Weapons: Plague-Cauldron Staff (2d10+5; Pen 5; Decay  [see page 42], Force).
Psychic Powers: All of the Nurgle Psychic Powers (see pages 215-216 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook).
In the section that gives variations on Chaos Spawn for each of the four great Chaos Gods, there is a callback to the Chaos Spawn Daemon Prince Foulspawn:
Followers of Nurgle reduced to Spawndom seem to survive far longer than other Spawn, almost as if the Plague Father takes some unnatural joy in their existence.
Traits: Crawler, Regeneration (2d5), Toxic (3), Unnatural Toughness (8).
Enveloping Abominations: Most Foulspawn attempt to envelop those around them, drawing unfortunate victims into their sticky disease-ridden mass. Foulspawn gain a +30 bonus to Tests to Grapple enemies and inflict an additional 2d5 Damage when using the Damage Opponent option of the Grapple Action. A Foulspawn that kills an adversary while Grappling it increases its Regeneration Trait to Regeneration (2d10) and removes all levels of Fatigue it is currently suffering.
"All flows to this point, descending down the sides of this wretched whorl. Darkest bile, sallow pus, and rotting blood drip down the sides and mingle in the death pit. But something rises from the frozen mass, from the creeping heart of treachery. Is it bound by this eternal moment? Or can it see beyond the edge of the circle, the lie of life and illusion of death?"
— Ahleir, Seer of Guelph
"Don't think of it as dying and rotting! It is glorious fermentation! That is our purpose, children of the Plaguefather. Your end is countless beginnings and countless ends, circling each other eternally, watched by our blessed patron!"
— Hovit, Lord of the Brackish Depths, before vanishing into the depths of Mire
The Priornites of Mire are a caste of sorcerer-kings that feed upon the cerebral matter of their subjects and, in so doing, make themselves hosts for the most virulent and delightful of Nurgle's blessings. Only the strongest Priornites survive for long, for their rivals are ever seeking new means of casting down their peers in an eternal cycle of growth, decay, death, and rebirth. For the Mirens, this ceaseless struggle is the supreme act of devotion to the Plague God Nurgle and they have little or no desire to transcend it or to seek power elsewhere within the Screaming Vortex. The Heretics, however, each of them well travelled along the Path to Glory, seek to harness the staggering reservoir of power built up on Mire over countless generations, to use the Priornites as a means of gaining the favour of Nurgle and in so doing take the final, and by far the most harrowing, step in their journey.
Having set foot upon the mist-shrouded, stinking ground of Mire, the Heretics attract the attentions of several natives, including the inscrutable Thanator, a high-ranking Priornite of Mire who is said by many to hold the favour of a number of Nurgle's Daemonic lieutenants (see page 116 for the Priornite Thanator's profile). This individual has the power to bestow the Heretics the boon they seek, but will only do so if they can prove themselves worthy of the Plague God's blessings. To prove themselves fit, the Heretics must submit to the greatest trial they have faced in their long journey along the Path to Glory - they must go willingly to their own deaths, trusting that the Dark Gods will carry them through the heart of the Screaming Vortex where the greatest of heroes who failed reside yet, and to be reborn in the full, unfettered glory of Chaos.
If the Heretics master their own mortality, they are granted the power they desire. They may even gain the ultimate gift that all Aspiring Champions strive towards - Apotheosis. But such a fate must never be sought hastily, for the vast majority that reach the end of the Path to Glory falter even as they take the very last step. Judged unworthy, such unfortunates descend into madness and damnation as their souls are torn asunder and their bodies are mutated beyond all recognition. Doomed, they become mindless, thrashing Chaos Spawn, ever to serve the whims of whatever masters choose to drive them to war in pursuance of their own ambitions and desires.
Such is the final challenge that awaits the Heretics in The Heart of the Vortex!
The Heart of the Vortex is an adventure in two parts. The first part sees the Heretics arrive on the world of Mire in search of the blessings of the Plague God, a boon they must earn if they are to complete their quest for power and take their places as the mighty warlords they each believe they are destined to become. In this section, the Heretics encounter numerous servants of Nurgle and face the many threats of everyday existence on Mire. What they are unlikely to realise, however, is that they are being watched all the while, the inscrutable gaze of the Thanator, Priornite of Mire, upon them throughout. If and when the Thanator wills it, the Heretics are made aware of his presence and invited to attend him. Then the real challenge can begin.
As a Priornite of Mire, the Thanator sits at the apex of a pyramid of fell power, its foundations made of the rendered souls of the countless generations of cerebral cannibals who have preceded him. Each generation has imbibed the brain matter of the last, and in so doing inherited the sorcerous abilities, along with the memories of their predecessor, but also the countless aggregated curses and side-effects of such a concentration of blessings. The Thanator has gained the power to speak directly to Daemons that serve Nurgle, and he is able to act as a combination of oracle and agent of the Plague God's Greater Daemons, speaking with their voice and perceiving something of the ascended plane of existence on which they dwell. This august lord of rot and reclamation knows that this power is not granted him for his own benefit and that it will prove his undoing. It has been revealed to him that the sole reason for his existence is to harness the power of every generation of Priornites before him and to concentrate it into a single act of transference to another, whom he himself must judge worthy to receive such an unimaginable blessing. It is the judgement of the bestowing of that blessing that forms the second part of the adventure, and potentially heralds the climax of the Heretic's journey along the Path to Glory.
In the second part of the adventure, the Heretics are confronted with the ultimate trial. Should they wish to claim the blessings of Nurgle, they must face his servants, from the invisibly small to the largest and most destructive. In all likelihood, the Heretics, and indeed the players, will not immediately perceive the full extent and nature of the challenge and so the Heretics will likely fight for all they are worth to avoid death. But this is entirely the point - only by transcending death and proving themselves worthy of rebirth can the Heretics truly ascend to the next tier of power.
In short, the Heretics must die in order to be reborn, at which point the Game Master can conclude matters or, should he wish, make use of the rules for Apotheosis (see pages 63-73) or Spawndom (see pages 120-121) found elsewhere in this volume. The Heretics' ultimate fate depends on their actions, and the story that the GM and players decide to tell together.
While Nurgle's blessed need no additional reasons to undergo the trials beyond those presented in the adventure, his adherents still have the opportunity to prove their dedication to the Plaguefather by persisting longer than any of their allies. By enduring the longest, the children of the Lord of All can reaffirm his supremacy during the final trial, demonstrating that in the end, all must fade and rot in the face of their ruinous patron.
Personal Goal: While Nurgle's devout should know well that the trial in the Mire will be their mortal end, their patron also demands that they endure, and cling to existence for as long as possible. They must struggle even as they despair, and fight on to the bitterest of ends, dying with their god's name escaping their lips as their death rattle. To glorify Nurgle, they must therefore outlive the pawns of the other Ruinous Powers, surviving blows that fell others and laughing in the face of injuries that would kill any other warrior.
Additional Rewards: For each other Heretic involved in the final trial whom a Heretic dedicated to Nurgle outlives during the encounter, he gains 1 additional Infamy (to a maximum of 7) at the end of the encounter.
Since this book's adventure is set on Mire, there are various additional descriptions of this world in the selection of encounters that are laid out.
While the Miren swarms bubbling up from the surface might be tainted by the Warp and have vile ichor pumping through their stinking veins, other occupants of the surface of Mire are entirely of the Beyond. As such, the servants of Nurgle are wont to appear as if from nowhere, fading into existence according to the fickle tides of the Warp and the waxing and waning of their patrons power. Unlike manifestations in the material universe, on Mire, deep as it is in the Inner Ring of the Screaming Vortex, Daemons do not require a mortal host to possess in order to appear and may do so according to their own, unknowable whims.
As the Heretics press on, they encounter one or more Plaguebearers of Nurgle, as described on page 355-356 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook. To set the scene, read or paraphrase the following aloud:
Marching ever onwards through the acid green fog, you grow aware of a low, sonorous chanting emanating from somewhere up ahead. The sound grows louder as you approach, until at length you begin to discern individual words. Each is name, a word of power spoken in one of the many tongues of the dwellers in the Warp. You may or may not know the exact meaning of each name, but the intent is clear, for at the sound of each, a wave of sickness passes through you, each subtly different from the last. It soon becomes clear that the words are the names of the myriad blessings of the Plague God, and they are being spoken by one of his servants, the so-called "tallymen": a Plaguebearer.
As you approach still further, you come upon the Daemon. It is a mound of decay, its form vaguely humanoid but its green flesh sloughing from it. Its head bears a single eye and one twisted horn, and its leering mouth is recanting the names of its master's blessings with such joy that it grins and drools with each new utterance. At length, the Plaguebearer senses your approach, and slows its chant before falling silent.
"Speak, mortals," it says, "Or depart my master's domain."
Exactly how the Heretics react to the ominous appearance of the Plaguebearer is up to the players. Those dedicated to Ruinous Powers other than Nurgle might be driven to attack it, while others might prefer to avoid contact entirely. Heretics possessed of the blessings of the Plague God might attempt to communicate with the Daemon in some manner and to some end, or even to turn it to their service, for a time at least. The details are left to the players to concoct and the Game Master to accommodate, or not, accordingly.
As with many of the other encounters presented in this part of the adventure, the Game Master can use this one more than once should he wish. He can modify it further by having more than one Plaguebearer present, especially if the Heretics determine to fight it or provoke it.
Regardless of how many encounters the Heretics have been exposed to since arriving upon the surface of Mire, sooner or later they meet the Thanator. Far from being a chance meeting, the Thanator has been fated this moment not just for his entire life, but throughout countless generations before him. The Thanator sits at the very apex of a pyramid of generational power that has its foundations in the very creation of the world of Mire. With the birth of each successive Priornite and his imbibing of the cerebral matter of the former, the will and power of Nurgle has been filtered, reborn, and propagated, such that the Thanator represents the distilled essence of that will. In short, the Thanator's very existence serves to perform the ritual that will pass judgement on the Heretics, and determine if they are worthy of the blessings they seek.
The best way for the Game Master to introduce the Thanator is to do so at the climax of one of the previous encounters. For example, if the Heretics have encountered the "Waves of Filth" described in the previous event, the moment they defeat the last of the Miren Horde, the Priornite might appear upon the corpse-strewn battlefield, gesturing silently for the Heretics to follow him. Alternatively, if the Heretics are about to be overwhelmed by the Horde, he could appear at the climactic moment and with a single gesture send the Mirens fleeing into the mists, leaving corpses and silence behind. Perhaps Encounter 4 could lead the characters to the Priornite, where he waits silently and patiently for the moment he has been preparing for his entire life.
Regardless of the exact circumstances of the meeting, the Game Master can set the scene by reading or paraphrasing the following description aloud:
Standing before you is a tall, gaunt figure, his withered frame clad in rags wrapped tight about its limbs like soiled bandages. His face and hands are pale and glistening, the very sores seeping a cocktail of glistening filth. Despite the myriad maladies afflicting the flesh, the eyes are the darkest pits, portals through which undreamed-of realms of power and ambition are glimpsed. The face turns towards you, the darkness shining forth from those eyes shines upon you more blinding than the brightest of questing arc beams. The shrivelled lips part and a wave of grave-air flows forth.
"I am the Thanator," the figure announces in a voice as of a stone tomb ground open for the first time in a thousand years. "I am your judge, and I am your doom. If you would know your destiny and transcend the Vortex, attend me..."
Exactly how the Heretics react is up to them, but clearly they would be foolish not to follow this creature. Should the players either fail to appreciate the scope of this moment, or (perhaps commendably) decide that their characters would react by attacking the Thanator (see page 116 for his profile), the Game Master might have to think on his feet. Depending on the nature of the Heretics, he might offer them a chance to reconsider, or respond "in game" by requiring a Skill Test to have the character experience a moment of insight or even some foreboding vision. Ultimately, however, the players should remain the masters of their Heretics' fate, and so if they insist on attacking the Thanator the Game Master should allow them to do so and to reap the consequences. Doing so takes the adventure, and indeed the entire campaign in a very different direction, for if the Heretics kill their would-be guide, they have squandered the chance they were about to be offered to gain the blessings of Nurgle and potentially ascend to a higher plane of power - though Heretics dedicated to the divine rivals of the Plague God might find such an outcome pleasing, and even win favours from their respective patrons as a result. If they kill the Thanator, it is recommended that the immediate consequence is the appearance of the Lutomorbus (as presented on page 114), the mighty beast drawn to the scene by the death of so fated a soul as the Thanator. If they can defeat this creature or escape it, they will have won a great victory over Nurgle's champions - which might be very rewarding for some Heretics, but bode extremely ill for others. Such actions will certainly make the favour of Nurgle harder to obtain in the future, and the Plague God's other servants might seek to bestow their finest and most terrible diseases upon the Heretics as a result.
Assuming that the Heretics follow the Thanator, it is time to move on to the second part of the adventure.
"Don't you dare say you saw this coming, sorcerer. Your schemes will rot and wither before your eyes, for in the end, the Lord of All claims his toll."
— Death Priest Glug'frath, to Anoxon the Calculating
Having followed the Thanator, the Heretics enter his domain and must submit to his judgement. When ready, read or paraphrase the following aloud:
Following after the gaunt figure of the Priornite Thanator, the mists close in as never before, so that soon you can barely see his shadow as it plunges through the swamps. You follow for what feels like hours, but may have been moments, sensing strange re-alignments taking place just beyond the boundaries of perception. After what appears an age of trudging through the swamps, massive shapes resolve themselves on either side, the mist slowly clearing to reveal new, twisted forms of life arching overhead. Wherever you are, it clearly is not upon the surface of Mire.
The creeping tendrils of mist, so long your constant companions on this noisome world, disengage and slink away, revealing a sight of stark terror and decaying majesty. You stand in a glade in an impossible forest, the trees rearing hundreds of metres into the air and a green-tinged glow filtering down through unseen boughs. All about you is riotous rot, the trunks of the mighty trees clad in glistening mould as fungal forms twist through and all about. Bloated flies the size of clenched fists buzz lazily through the cloudy air, which as you breath is revealed to be thick with spores and the overwhelming taste of death.
At the last, the Priornite Thanator comes to a halt in the centre of the glade and turns to face you, his hands wide in a gesture of greeting as he bows low and says: "Welcome, travellers. Welcome to the Garden of Nurgle, where you shall meet your judgement, and your doom."
Having set the scene, it is time for the Thanator to reveal the truth of his existence and the meaning for the Heretics' presence in his otherworldly court. Read or paraphrase the following aloud:
"My lords," the Thanator addresses you all, "I must introduce myself formally, so that you might meet your judgement knowingly. I am, as you know, a Priornite, one in whom countless generations of the Plague God's blessings are vested. There are many of us here on Mire, but I am unlike the others. I am the last of my line. Each and every one of my thousand thousand ancestors has imbibed the cranial matter of his forebear, filtering it through his soul to pass on to the next. I am the apex of my line, in whom is vested a single task allocated to us by the Plague Father so long, long ago.
"My task, my lords, is to communicate the judgement of the Plague Lord upon your eternal souls and, if he deems you worthy, to shepherd you through the Frozen Heart of the Vortex, and show you the path to your ultimate ambitions.
"You may turn now, and go, but I know you will not, for this moment has been known to me and every one of my line since time before time, age before half-dreamt age.
"Now is the moment. Each of you, my lords, must speak aloud the true extent of his ambition. But heed my words. Speak only the truth, lest the Great Powers deem you below their note. Speak that which you desire to find at the end of the Path to Glory, and prepare to pay the ultimate price for attaining it!"
|Warhammer Fantasy||Third Citadel Compendium; WFRP (1st ed); RoC: Slaves to Darkness; RoC: The Lost and the Damned; Beasts of Chaos; Blightwar; Malign Portents website|
|Man O' War||Plague Fleet|
|Mordheim||Empire in Flames|
|Warhammer 40,000||Warhammer 40,000 (1993); Codex: Chaos (1996); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (1999); Chapter Approved 2001; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2002); Codex: Eye of Terror; Chapter Approved 2004; Imperial Armour 5; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007); Imperial Armour: Apocalypse (2007); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2008); Imperial Armour 6; Imperial Armour 7; Imperial Armour: Aeronautica; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012); Codex: Dark Angels (2013); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2013); Stronghold Assault; Codex: Imperial Knights (2014); Dataslate: Helbrutes; Codex: Militarum Tempestus (2014); Imperial Armour 13; Codex: Imperial Knights (2015); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2016); Codex: Traitor Legions; Warhammer 40,000 (2017); Dark Imperium; Index: Chaos; First Strike; Codex: Space Marines (2017); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2017); Codex: Grey Knights (2017); Plague Brethren; Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (2017); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2018); Codex: T'au Empire (2018); Tales from Vigilus webpages|
|Epic||Adeptus Titanicus; Space Marine (1st ed); Codex Titanicus; Renegades; Titan Legions; Epic 40,000|
|Kill Team||Dolorous Strain|
|White Dwarf||Oct 1988 (#106); Dec 1988 (#108); Jan 1989 (#109); May 1989 (#113); Jun 1989 (#114); Nov 1989 (#119); Jan 1990 (#121); Feb 1990 (#122); Apr 1990 (#124); May 1990 (#125); Dec 1990 (#132); Jan 2002 (#265)|
|Citadel Journal||Jul 1994 (#4); Mar 1995 (#8); May 1995 (#9); Dec 1995 (#12); Sep 1996 (#17); Nov 1996 (#18); Aug 1997 (#21); Apr 1998 (#25); Jun 1998 (#26); Aug 1998 (#27); Oct 1998 (#28); May 1999 (#32); Jan 2002 (#48)|
|Battlefleet Gothic Magazine||Nov 2002 (#12); Aug 2003 (#16)|
|Black Library Novels|
|Warhammer 40,000||Ravenor Returned|
|Fantasy Flight Games|
|Dark Heresy||Shattered Hope; Dark Heresy (1st ed); Disciples of the Dark Gods; Creatures Anathema; Radical's Handbook; Daemon Hunter; Dark Heresy (2nd ed); Game Master's Kit (2nd ed); Forgotten Gods; Enemies Within; Enemies Beyond|
|Rogue Trader||Rogue Trader; Citadel of Skulls; Battlefleet Koronus; Koronus Bestiary; Navis Primer; Stars of Inequity|
|Deathwatch||Mark of the Xenos; Achilus Assault; First Founding; Jericho Reach; Rising Tempest|
|Black Crusade||Black Crusade; Game Master's Kit; Hand of Corruption; Tome of Fate; Tome of Blood; Tome of Excess; Tome of Decay|
|Only War||Enemies of the Imperium|