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Over one hundred companies drawn from the Emperor's Children, Death Guard, World Eaters and Sons of Horus Legions had already taken up arms against the rebellion on Isstvan III's surface at the time of the virus bombing. Horus had ensured their numbers were almost entirely made up of those Space Marines from each Legion who were still loyal to the Emperor, intending to wipe out those who had proved incorruptible in a single deadly stroke. Of these brave warriors, fully two-thirds miraculously survived the bombardment, thanks to warning messages received from the dwindling ranks of loyal comrades left aboard the orbiting fleet of the Warmaster. Angron, headstrong as ever, made planetfall at the head of fifty companies of Traitor Marines to slay these survivors. The ground war began in earnest, signalling the start of the greatest turmoil to ever have engulfed the Imperium.
As the forces of Horus launched their orbital barrage upon the loyal Space Marines on Isstvan III, Captain Garro, of the Death Guard, seized the frigate Eisenstein from the traitor fleet. His instinct had led him to warn the loyal warriors on the planet's surface of their imminent betrayal, and he was determined to flee the Isstvan system. Garro was unable to prevent the atrocities that followed, and his vessel was no match against the battleships of Horus' blockading fleet; all he could hope for was that the Eisenstein could escape from the Isstvan system and somehow find a way to reach Terra to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery.
Warp storm Dionys ripples across the galaxy, its empyric energies polluting a swathe of star systems. In addition to billions of Imperial citizens, no fewer than thirty Space Marine Chapters are judged by the charismatic Saint Basillius to be tainted. The Ecclesiarchal lord gives a choice to those so accused - seek redemption in the Eye of Terror or be exterminated.
Without exception, the condemned Chapters - known as the Judged - choose to embark upon a redemptive crusade aimed at purging the Daemon worlds of the Eye of Terror. Within that great warp rift some of the Chapters go missing or are destroyed, whilst others turn renegade in order to survive. The most resolute of the Judged return to the Imperium bloodied but unbowed nearly eight hundred years later, and discover that their accuser, Saint Basillius himself, is a servant of the Ruinous Powers. The corrupted saint's demise is swift.
The Chaos renegades known as the Purge vent their hatred of all living things upon the verdant Imperial world of Vaxhallia. The planet's inhabitants are soon riddled with consumptive disease and crippled by famine. Over the course of a single month, the Purge engineer the deaths of no fewer than fourteen billion Imperial citizens.
Gogroc Laugr, bearer of the Yellow Dementia and pustulent prince of Id
The Plague God has a strong following within the Black Legion. Under the dominance of Skyrak Slaughterborn, the Nurglites have converted many to their cause. In battle, the Bringers of Decay are Abaddon's plague carriers and heralds of contagion, appearing before other warbands to sow infection and sickness. This could also be why many other warbands will have little to do with the Bringers, repelled by the blessings of the Plague God they bear.
Glutgora, a Daemon Prince of Nurgle, invades the agri world of Pilentos with a massive force of Black Legionnaires. While the Chaos Space Marines crush every vestige of Imperial resistance, Glutgora gorges itself on the weave-worms of the planet's sprawling silk farms. Insatiable in its hunger, the Daemon Prince consumes everything and everyone in its path, swelling to immense proportions with the meat of worm and man. Eventually, Glutgora bursts in a tide of festering organs and rancid effluvia, and a million Nurglings crawl out from its corpse. The planet is declared perditas and quarantined indefinitely.
The armies of Chaos invade Cadia and its many surrounding worlds. The forces of the Dark Gods read like a roll call from epic battles of the ages. Always in the vanguard are the Black Legion, followed by the Death Guard, World Eaters, Alpha Legion, Thousand Sons, Night Lords and other Legions from the annals of the blackest days. Renegade Chapters long thought extinct renew their assaults on the Imperium of Man. Before them run scabrous cultists, deranged mutants and traitorous scum in numbers too great to count. Behind them march Daemons of all the Ruinous Powers, the nightmares of mortals made real, led by their infernal overlords.
After a gruelling campaign with a death toll that spirals into the trillions, Abaddon the Despoiler succeeds in tearing down the strange pylons that for thousands of years had held the Cadian Gate as a stable region of space. Cadia falls soon thereafter, and a wave of warp storms roars into being across the length of the galaxy. Astropaths everywhere fear to open their minds to receive or broadcast messages, for the immaterium rings with mind-splitting peals, possibly the sound of the myriad tears ripping open in the barrier between the material universe and the warp, or perhaps the laughter of the Dark Gods...
The transmogrifying plague known as the Technovirus spreads from Medrengard's deepest dungeons across the worlds of the Eye of Terror. It infects metal construct and mortal body alike, turning one to the other and blending warriors with their weapons and wargear until only sentientmetal machine-things remain. After the resultant conflicts, known as the Wars of Flesh, the nihilistic Cult of Destruction proliferates massively. Obliterators and Mutilators join the ranks of the Iron Warriors in ever greater numbers.
The shrine world of Nepthys Madrigal is the last bastion of resistance against the empyric incursion led by Lord Vileblight, a Greater Daemon of Nurgle. So holy is the ground and so valorous its Adepta Sororitas defenders that every outbreak of Vileblight's initial gambit, the Deathly Pox, is contained and sanctified within minutes of it occurring. In frustration, the Great Unclean One calls in an old debt with the Dark Apostle Kor Daradan. Within the month, the Word Bearers attack Nepthys Madrigal. As mortals, they are not repelled by the banishment sigils of the world, and cross the barriers that kept the Daemons out. They take the fight to the Sisters of Battle there with such vigour they force a full-scale evacuation of the populace. The conflict becomes a war of attrition in which the Chaos Space Marines prioritise casting down the temples and altars of the Imperial Creed, disrupting their wards. The planet falls to a wave of contagion and the subsequent Plaguebearer assault.
Engvarr, the Destroyer of Dreams, first blade of the Misericordians
Since the degradation of their gene-seed in M32, the Desolate Brotherhood found themselves assigned to impossibly dangerous duties. Each time they won a reprieve, they were sent on an even more hazardous mission, plunging them into a spiral of dissolution and despair. After a catastrophe in the acid swamps of the world Misery, the Chapter took a new name and left their duties behind, forever becoming sworn enemies of the Imperium and the illusion of hope.
The Grave Harbinger, first apparition out of the Cordelian Shimmerportal
The Cleaved first appeared during the insurrection of Magma Cordelian. Amongst the fury of an Astra Militarum counterstrike, the rebels conjured reinforcements - not Daemons of the immaterium, but Chaos Space Marines with oil-like blood oozing from the joins in their armour. Though the new arrivals were massively outnumbered, they fought on through mortal wounds to eventually secure the planet for the insurrectionists.
Morsaviour Ghonst, the Bringer of Blessed Oblivion
The Purge loathe life in all its forms. They have waged their pitiless war against Mankind and alien alike since late M36, consumed by their self-imposed quest to exterminate all living creatures. Having seen first-hand the dread threat of Chaos, they believe that the galaxy is hopelessly corrupt and that the only salvation lies in the sterility of death. The Purge pray to the God of Plagues for a mighty pandemic that will destroy every sentient being.
Brother Gluttmar, Bringer of the Seven Fungal Forests
After the Death Guard crippled their fleet, the Iron Drakes Chapter became marooned on the plague world of Anathrax in the Eye of Terror. For over a century, Plague Marines harried the stranded loyalists, always aiming to debilitate their targets and damage their wargear rather than slay them. The last time the Iron Drakes were sighted in the Imperium, they fought under the name of the Grey Death, and their new loyalties were plain to all.
Brother Bellicor, knife fighter of the Deathmongers slaughter cult
Upon the crone world of Belial IV, the Brothers of the Anvil scoured the spires of the original Eldar empire, only to be brought to battle by Drukhari Kabalites searching the ancient planet for ancient treasures. After a year of nightmarish ordeals in the Commorrite arenas, the broken remains of the Brothers of the Anvil slaughtered their way back into realspace, where they killed every living thing they found. They are now known as the Deathmongers.
The lords of Nurgle are lumbering, filth-encrusted hulks that devote their lives to spreading disease across the stars. Their guts are bloated sacs of gas and rancid fat, and their sagging skin has the waxy pallor of a corpse, but their resistance to injury is legendary. These devout sons of Grandfather Nurgle revel in their foulness, leading heretic and Daemon alike to war.
Though cadres of the mysterious Obliterators are thankfully rare, they have an alarming tendency to suddenly appear wherever the fighting is thickest, manifesting in a storm of light before laying waste to their foes. Several theories have been put forward by agents of the Imperium regarding the exact nature of these abominations - some members of the Inquisition believe they are the by-product of a heretical Dark Mechanicum quest to embody the Omnissiah, whilst others proffer the notion that Obliterators are infected with some kind of Daemon-created technovirus. Opponents of the latter theory say that a technovirus could not exist in the way it is claimed, and that simple daemonic possession gives Obliterators their frighteningly powerful abilities. Only the truly learned realise that the term 'technovirus' is a misnomer; it is Chaos itself that mutates and corrupts the machine, just as it moulds and changes the flesh of men.
An alliance struck deep in the Eye of Terror has seen a strange machine-plague boil across the worlds of the Imperium. The Cults of Destruction - those warbands consisting of Obliterators, Mutilators and the Warpsmiths that strive to control them - have always acted as seething hotbeds for the Chaos technovirus that infects them. Since the Daemon Primarchs Perturabo and Mortarion combined their genius in the Eye of Terror, however, this affliction has been weaponised. Instead of slowly and organically claiming the souls of those who obsess over their wargear, this curse now spreads in the form of an airborne info-virus, often referred to as 'scrapcode'.
Scrapcode can be seen as the machine equivalent of the Dark Tongue, seemingly nonsensical at first, but harsh upon the ear to the point of causing physical pain, and possessed of an anarchic power that can cripple a machine spirit and pervert a war engine to the cause of Chaos. Some say that even battle tanks and mighty Imperial Knights have been brought low by this ravening, self-replicating scourge, sprouting clusters of oil-slick gun barrels and forests of lashing cables from their adamantium hulls as they indiscriminately kill and destroy.
Plague Marines are Chaos Space Marines who have sworn themselves to Nurgle, the Chaos God of pestilence and entropy. The first Plague Marines were warriors of the Death Guard Legion, trapped in the warp upon their spaceships when the virulent Destroyer Plague struck their fleet. Mortarion and his Legion offered themselves up to the service of the Lord of Decay in return for their lives. Their bodies became bloated and swollen with the corruption festering within them, but they no longer felt the agony of the warp-pox and did not die from its horrific symptoms.
Since then, many Space Marines have dedicated themselves to Nurgle, though few achieve the vaunted ranks of the Death Guard. Those who truly wish to join this most foetid of cadres must first swear loyalty to the Primarch Mortarion - only then will Nurgle bestow upon them the corrupting ague that created the Plague Marines. Outside of the Death Guard, a favoured few Sorcerers of Nurgle know the secrets of the Plague Marines, and Abaddon of the Black Legion has won many of these spellcasters to his cause. In return for fealty and long service, these blight-mages will bestow their pestilent gifts in the Warmaster's name.
Regardless of allegiance, all Plague Marines have disgusting, rotted bodies that stink of decay. The putrescent slime that oozes from their many weeping sores corrodes their armour and burns their skin, but despite their horrific disfigurements, the Plague Marines are fearsome warriors indeed. Their rotting brains are inured to the agony of bodily corruption, making them all but immune to the pain or debilitation caused by the weapons of the enemy. Not for nothing are these repugnant footsoldiers considered the most resilient of all the Chaos Space Marines.
The Plague Marines prefer short-ranged firefights, where they can truly appreciate the festering carnage they inflict upon their enemies even as they laugh off the bolts and las-blasts directed back at them. The blessed reek of corruption, the sight of freshly suppurating flesh and the blossoming gore of an infected wound - these are things to be grateful for. Those who do not appreciate Grandfather Nurgle's bounty are soon laid low. Should the enemy close to within arm's reach, the Plague Marines will attack with plague-riddled knives, and even hurl toxic blight grenades - vile inventions containing virulent toxins that eat away at armour and fill the air with thick clouds of blinding spores. The most ostentatious blight grenades are 'death's heads' made from the severed remains of fallen enemies, each cranium filled to the brim with a cocktail of disease before being sealed with ancient wax.
As well as fighting at the behest of the Lords of Chaos, the Plague Marines dedicate their lives to spreading corruption and decay across the galaxy. The fleets of Nurgle that spew from the warp spread contagion and pestilence across dozens of star systems. Once the plague ships are abandoned or their crews finally destroyed, the hulks float back to the warp and eventually, perhaps guided by the hand of Nurgle himself, find their way back to a plague planet, where they are re-crewed for a new wave of attacks.
During a plague ship's journey through the warp, the interior of the craft erupts with large, furry black flies that fill its holds with their decaying carcasses. When the plague ship reaches a world, the Plague Marines disembark to make planetfall. As soon as their transports' hatches open, a thick cloud of insects is released, ready to spread its foulness over a virgin planet. The fly is sacred to Nurgle, for it feasts upon the rotten and the foul. Even one such beast can carry upon its little limbs a cornucopia of infections and viruses, spreading the gifts of contagion to everything blessed by its visitations. When they come on in a great swarm, these diminutive creatures can spread a plague with incredible speed, infecting, infesting, hatching and multiplying in celebration of Nurgle's bounteous cycle with each new day. The symbol of the fly is therefore common amongst the Plague Marines, with elements of its form echoed on the mutant bodies of the Death Guard, Nurgle's chosen sons.
The dull knell of bells and the humming of flies herald the arrival of Nurgle's Plaguebearers. Forming the rank and file of his pestilent legions, the Lesser Daemons of Nurgle shuffle forwards, their ripe bodies swollen with contagion and rife with the stench of decay. Each Daemon has a single rheumy eye and a horn sprouting from its skull - the mark of Nurgle's Rot that each bears through eternity.
It is the Plaguebearers' role to keep stock of new diseases and symptoms, and to maintain some semblance of order amongst Nurgle's naturally mischievous hordes. The Plaguebearers' obsessive need to organise is characterised by their constant counting as they try to calculate every new outbreak of plague. However, this monotonous chanting achieves very little - it is practically impossible to catalogue anything amidst the ever-changing nature of Chaos. This in no way discourages them, however, for they are the embodiment of the need to impose order upon a meaningless and uncaring world. In battle, their corpulent forms resist all but the most fearsome weaponry, and they wield rusted blades that corrupt flesh and rust metal in an instant. Unfortunately for the Plaguebearers, they are prone to losing count during combat, and they stand above their dying foes groaning in frustration before starting their count all over again.
Chief among the many gifts that the Lord of Plagues has granted an ungrateful galaxy is Nurgle's Rot. This perfect illness does not kill its host quickly; rather, it slowly turns the victim into a bloated living corpse teeming with the stuff of nightmares. Their blood curdles in their veins, their eyes grow together into a single globulous orb, and a horn sprouts from their head. The illness does not merely affect the body, however - it painfully corrupts the diseased mortal's soul to the point where the victim has to either end their own life or fully embrace the ways of Nurgle and become a Plaguebearer.
The longer an infected soul resists Nurgle's Rot, the more likely it is that they will survive the disgusting changes wrought upon them, and the more powerful a Plaguebearer they will become once the transformation is complete. Such individuals are sometimes possessed of a sheepish embarrassment that it took them so long to appreciate the blessings of their new existence. To one who has truly converted to Nurgle's cause, life as a bandy-legged mound of putrescent, boil-covered flesh and disgusting bodily functions is seen as the most fulsome of blessings rather than a despicable curse that will never end.
The Purge wear battered armour adorned with the symbol of the plague fly.
Chaos Terminator of the Cleaved
'Call with all your soul, little one. Call and we shall answer.'
— Battle cry of the Cleaved
Grandfather Nurgle is eager to bestow daemonic fecundity upon his faithful servants, sealing their gaping wounds with pulsating growths and replacing their spilt blood with curdling ichor.
Use this Stratagem at the end of your Movement phase. Select a HERETIC ASTARTES NURGLE INFANTRY or BIKER unit. One model in the unit heals D3 wounds. If there are no wounded models in the unit, a single model in the unit that was slain earlier in the battle is returned to the unit with a single wound remaining.
As the psyker chants in a phlegm-choked drone, a dark cloud of filth and flies shrouds his allies from view.
Miasma of Pestilence has a warp charge value of 6. If manifested, select a visible NURGLE HERETIC ASTARTES unit within 18" of the psyker. Until the start of your next Psychic phase, your opponent must subtract 1 from all hit rolls that target that unit.
This blade bears the infamous Gurgling Doom contagion. One struck by the blade typically has only a few agonising seconds left to live before they finally realise the glory of Nurgle's generosity and keel over gurgling phlegm.
NURGLE model with power sword only. Puscleaver replaces the earer's power sword and has the following profile:
|Abilities: This weapon wounds on a 2+, unless the target is a VEHICLE, in which case roll to wound as normal.|
|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|