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Codex: Chaos (1996)

This is the first Codex: Chaos published, with army lists included for each of Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Cultists, and Chaos Daemons (as "Daemon Worlds"). It is preceded by the two Realm of Chaos books (Slaves to Darkness and The Lost and the Damned) and is succeeded by Codex: Chaos Space Marines (1999) and Codex: Chaos Daemons (2008).

The description below takes elements from both the prior Realm of Chaos books and updates them for consistency (Chapters becoming Legions, for example). One interesting facet is that Isstvan is consistently spelled as Istvaan in the codex; that error has been corrected here.

p8-9 — The Horus Heresy

The forces of Chaos were not quite so easily beaten. They whispered to the Primarchs from the warp, disturbing their dreams with promises of power, appealing to their pride, their martial prowess, and their courage. No single Primarch was wholly resistant to these unspoken temptations. The character of each was sorely tested, and fully half of them failed that test. So subtle was their temptation that they never even suspected how their own loyalties were changing.

For example, Mortarion Primarch of the Death Guard Legion fully believed that he was the herald of a new age of justice. Angron of the World Eaters genuinely thought that he alone could save humanity from destruction. Horus too, the greatest Primarch of all, was convinced of the virtue of the martial ideals for which he fought.

By appealing to their virtue and courage, the Primarchs were tempted to lead their Space Marine Legions against the Emperor. Initially, even the Primarchs had little idea that they had fallen to Chaos, but when they rebelled their good intentions gradually fell away as Chaos saturated their souls. The Space Marine Legions that they led also turned slowly but inevitably to Chaos. The corrupting influence of Chaos soon spread to the Imperial Guard and Adeptus Mechanicus forces, including the Titan Legions and the Legio Cybernetica. From there the rot spread further into the Imperium itself. Over half of the Adeptus Mechanicus alone were ready to join an Empire dedicated to Chaos.

The leader of the rebellion was the Warmaster Horus, the greatest and most trusted Primarch of all. He had stood by the Emperor's side throughout the long years of the Great Crusade. They had fought back-to-back at the siege of Reillis when the Emperor saved Horus's life. On the battlefield of Gorro, Horus had repaid the debt by hacking the arm from a frenzied Ork as it struggled to choke the Emperor's life out of him. The Emperor had entrusted Horus with leading the crusades along the Eastern Fringe while he returned to Terra to consolidate the rule of the vast Imperium num under his control.

In the Emperor's absence Horus's plans were just coming to fruition when the Imperial commander of Isstvan III declared the whole of the Isstvan system an independent principality. The Emperor, ignorant of the change in the Warmaster, ordered Horus to pacify the system. Horus chose to do so by virus bombing Isstvan III from orbit. The voracious life-eater virus slew every living thing on Isstvan III in a matter of minutes; twelve billion souls died with a death scream which pulsed louder than the Astronomicon. Whole continents and hive cities were charred to ash as the mass of oxygen released by the instant rotting of all organic material on the planet burned in the atmosphere and covered the world in a gigantic firestorm which raged for days. Before the last fires were out Horus despatched the Titans of the Legio Mortis onto the planet's surface to root out any who had survived in protective shelters or underground bunkers.

During the bombardment a handful of Space Marines still loyal to the Emperor seized control of the Frigate Eisenstein. They had discovered the taint of Chaos spreading through Horus's command and as the Warmaster withdrew to Isstvan V to marshal his forces the loyalists fled into warp space to warn the Imperium.

p12-13 — Death Guard

The Death Guard Legion was one of the original twenty Space Marine Legions founded by the Emperor. During the Horus Heresy the Legion joined the rebel Warmaster Horus and took part in many battles against the Emperor's forces. When Horus led his attack on the Emperor, the rebel Death Guard Legion was marooned in the warp while attempting the long journey to Earth. Days passed while the fleet's Navigators searched for a warp-tide that would bring them bak to the material universe. Meanwhile a mysterious contagion began to spread from ship to ship. The stinking pestilence bloated the gut, distended the flesh, and turned its victim rotten from the inside. Eventually even the Legion's primarch, Mortarion, became infected and in his delirium he called upon the Powers of Chaos to aid the Space Marines. Mortarion's fevered ravings were answered by Nurgle, and Mortarion became Nurgle's Champion.

The Death Guard, newly dedicated to Nurgle, arrived in time to take part in Horus's attack on Earth and took part in all of the major battles of the campaign. As disease began to disfigure the Death Guard, their appearance changed into the disgusting form they still bear today, and the once tall and noble Space Marines of the Death Guard became Plague Marines of Nurgle.

Of all the Chaos Space Marines, Plague Marines are the most physically horrible to look upon. Their flesh pulses with corruption, their innards spill through lesions in their putrid skin, and their bodies ooze with sticky slime. The sheer stench their rotting bodies exude fills the air around them with the sickly sweet scent of death for hundreds of yards in every direction. The sight of living creatures so foul is an abomination to nature, and of all the Plague Marines, those of the Death Guard are the most foul and disgusting, the most corpulent and corrupt.

Following Horus's defeat, Mortarion led his Death Guard in a merry dance of destruction over a score of planets until finally retreating with the remnants of the Legion into the Eye of Terror. Here he received Nurgle's ultimate reward and became a fully-fledged Daemon Prince ruling over one of Nurgle's greatest Plague Worlds in the Eye of Terror.

The Plague Planet Mortarion rules over lies deep inside the Eye of Terror. From this dark and slimy orb Mortarion launches fleets of plague ships into the warp to carry their contagions through the galaxy. On board are Champions of Chaos and their followers from the Plague Planet accompanied by warriors of the ancient Death Guard, the heinous Plague Marines of Nurgle.

The Plague Planet itself is a place where sickness and pestilence are the norm, where miasma clouds bring contagion and death and where the diseased pray to Nurgle for relief from their constant agony. Some of them are favoured and become Champions, and then fight among themselves for mastery and the chance to become daemon princes in their own right. The Plague Marines rarely interfere in battles between rising Champions. In fact they are not commonly seen by the world's inhabitants except during the time when new Champions are selected and enter the ranks of the Plague Marines. Most of their time is spent attending on Mortarion or carrying out his wishes, spreading new diseases and travelling to other worlds to carry Nurgle's plagues to new victims.

p13 — Nurgle

Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay who presides over physical corruption and morbidity. Disease and putrefaction attract his daemons like flies to a rotted corpse. For his amusement he devises foul and diverse contagions that he inflicts upon mortals. Many of the most horrible diseases are Nurgle's proudest creations. Mortals who perish in their grip are claimed by the Plague Lord so that their souls are caught in the eternally bubbling foulness of his realm.

The god's immense body is bloated with corruption and exudes a sickly, diseases stench. His skin is greenish, leathery and necrotic, its surface pock-marked with running sores, swelling boils and infestations. His inner organs, rank with excremental decay, spill through the ruptured skin to hang like bunches of scrofulous grapes around his girth. From these organs burst tiny daemons which chew and suck upon the nauseous juices within. This then is the appearance of the Chaos God Nurgle, though mere words cannot do justice to his truly monumental foulness.

Although Nurgle is ranked behind Khorne and Tzeentch the truth is that his power is more variable than that of the other gods. His passion is to unleash ghastly pestilences into the material universe and when he does his power rises to a peak. Like a plague his power waxes greater and greater, reaching epidemic levels as it temporarily overshadows all of the gods put together before waning again. At these times the great corrupted legions of the God of Decay are swollen by the uncountable millions of plague-struck dead, rusting war engines thunder out a dirge of destruction and the tattered banners of Nurgle are raised against life itself.

p27 — The Marks of Chaos


Champions bearing the Mark of Nurgle are swollen with corruption, their armour barely containing their bloated bodies. Because their bodies are dulled with disease and partly rotted away they feel little pain and can endure considerable injury without discomfort. A Chaos Champion of Nurgle always adds an extra +1 to his Toughness on account of his hugely bloated body.

p31 — Plague Marines

Plague Marines are Chaos Space Marines who have dedicated themselves to the Chaos God Nurgle. Amongst the most dedicated followers of this cult are the Chaos Space Marines of the Death Guard, but many other Chaos Space Marines also dedicate themselves to the Lord of Decay.

Plague Marines have disgusting rotted bodies that stink of decay. Their armour and weapons are pitted and corroded by the putrescent slime that oozes from their many sores, but they are still fearsome opponents. Their decaying brains are innured to the agony of their bodily corruption, making them all but immune to any pain or discomfort caused by battle wounds.

Plague Marines44444(5)1418
Plague Marine Terminators45544(5)1519

Special Rules

Chaos Space Marines
The usual Rapid Fire special rules apply.

Mark of Nurgle
All Plague Marines are blessed with the Mark of Nurgle (see above). This means that their Toughness is increased by +1 point, as shown on their profile above. Note that Plague Marines receive the Mark of Nurgle for free and do not have to pay any points for it.

In the colour section, page 40 showcases models of the Death Guard, with photographs of a squad of seven Plague Marines and insets showing details of their armour.

p40 — Death Guard

Twisted and corrupt, the Death Guard are disease-ridden mockeries of their former selves. Guided by their Daemon-Primarch Mortarion, they revel in the contamination of Imperial worlds, sowing plague and contagion wherever they go, inflicting cruel and agonising deaths on a planetary scale.

p40 — Plague Marines

Plague Marines are hideous and nauseating to behold. Their swollen, decaying flesh is barely contained by their corroded, slime-encrusted armour. Such human carrion barely feels pain any longer, as their nerve endings and pain receptors have atrophied over the long years of degeneration.

Great Unclean One

p57 — Great Unclean One - Greater Daemon of Nurgle

Even the most battle hardened of the Ordo Malleus dread this foul daemon more than any other. It is the very image of the Plague God Nurgle himself - huge, green-skinned and bloated with corruption. From open sores and swelling boils, pus and slime dribble over the daemon's leprous skin. Decaying inner organs protrude from rents in rancid flesh. From its gaping maw trickles a bubbling stream of vomit mixed with blood, magoots, and other foulness.

Great Unclean One47778104710

Special Rules

All the special rules for daemons apply as described earlier. In particular, note that the Great Unclean One has a daemonic aura which gives it a saving throw of 4+.

The Great Unclean One is the most foul of all daemons, its horrific bloated appearance is an offence to the world. Those who witness it rarely survive with their reason intact. The psychology rules for terror apply as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. Remember that creatures which cause terror automatically cause fear as well.

Stream of Corruption
The Great Unclean One can unleash a stream of steaming vomit over its enemies. This is worked out during the shooting phase. Use the teardrop-shaped Flamer template to represent the attack and calculate casualties exactly as you would for an attack from a template weapon. The stream of vomit inflicts a S7 attack on targets it hits. This attack has a -2 save modifier and inflicts 1 wound. A Great Unclean One may use its Stream of Corruption even when it is in hand-to-hand combat.

p57 — Nurglings

Nurgle's disgusting daemons spill into the world like a plague, riding upon a tide of tiny daemons which swirl about the horde like an infestation. These tiny daemons are Nurglings, small but malevolent things that feed upon corruption. Although tiny they are as hideous as their master, each a minute replica of Nurgle, round and bloated with disease. They swarm around the Greater Daemons, scurrying over their decaying bodies and sucking at boils for their nourishment, nestling within their master's spilling entrails for succour.

Because of their diminutive size Nurglings are represented by a large base crammed with many individual creatures. Individual models don't fight but the whole base is treated as a single monstrous creature with several Attacks and able to withstand several wounds.

Nurgling base433333437

Special Rules

All the special rules for daemons apply as described earlier. In particular, note that a base of Nurglings has a daemonic aura which gives it a saving throw of 4+.

Nurglings spill over their victims like an irrepressible tide of foulness that is an assault to mind and body alike. Nurglings cause fear as described in the main rulebook.

Nurglings are far more common in the material universe than any other type of daemon, and wherever there are followers of Nurgle, you can be sure you'll find some Nurglings too! Because of this any Nurglings included in an army may be set up at the start of the battle if you want, and do not have to be summoned to the battlefield. Note that you can choose to summon Nurglings if you wish, it's just that you don't have to! In addition, Nurglings cannot be banished back to the warp.

p58 — Plaguebearer of Nurgle

It is said that the fate of those who die of the foul disease Nurgle's Rot is to serve the Lord of Decay forever in the most disgusting form of a daemon called a Plaguebearer.

Huge black flies lay their filthy eggs on these foul daemons, and clumps of maggots crawl and clamber over their putrid hides, feeding upon the putrescent matter that drips from their oozing sores. When the flies hatch, they swarm around the Plaguebearer in a buzzing cloud of vileness, and will turn upon and attack its enemies.

The Plaguebearer's body is swollen with contagion, and churning innards spill from tears in their rancid skin. It has a single baleful eye and from its head sprouts a long horn. In its clawed hand the daemon carries a sword with a distorted barbed edge. This is the Plaguesword of Nurgle whose touch brings disease and death to mortal creatures.


Special Rules

All the special rules for daemons apply as described earlier. In particular, note that the Plaguebearer has a daemonic aura which gives it a saving throw of 4+.

The foulness of the Plaguebearer overturns the mind and its indescribable stench induces nausea amd fear. The Plaguebearer causes fear as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

The Plaguesword drips with venomous slime. A wound from this weapon will kill mortal creatures outright on the D6 roll of a 4 or more, regardless of how many wounds the target can normally sustain. On a roll of 1-3 the Plaguesword only causes 1 wound. Note that this only applies to mortal foes, not to other daemons. In addition, the Plaguesword allows the Plaguebearer to parry.

Cloud of Flies
The Plaguebearer is surrounded by a black cloud of flies that feed upon his putrid skin. When the Plaguebearers are fighting these evil buzzing creatures fly into the eyes and mouths of their enemies, clogging their ears and crawling up their nostrils. Any enemy fighting a Plaguebearer must deduct -1 from his hand-to-hand combat score due to the distraction of the Plaguebearer's flies.

p58 — Beast of Nurgle

The head of this huge and slug-like daemon is fringed with fat tentacles from which oozes a paralysing slime. A creature overcome by this sticky slime will be collected after the battle and carried away to feed the broods of Nurgle.


Special Rules

All the special rules for daemons apply as described earlier. In particular, note that the Beast of Nurgle has a daemonic aura which gives it a saving throw of 4+.

The monstrous appearance of the Beast of Nurgle is as nothing compared to the stench of its foulness. The Beast causes fear as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook.

The Beast of Nurgle has D6 Attacks in hand-to-hand combat from its tentacles. This is determined every combat round. The slime automatically penetrates any armour that the victim has, so no armour saving throw is permitted for models wounded by the Beast.

Slime Trail
As the Beast moves it leaves a slime trail behind it. This makes it impossible for a large number of foes to attack the Beast without becoming caught up in the slime trail. To represent this factor, multiple attackers do not receive the usual bonuses when attacking the Beast: they do not receive the +1 extra Attack for each opponent after the first, nor the +1 close combat modifier for each opponent after the first.

An interesting example of the Dark Tongue in the wording of a summoning ritual:


Khorne shall be called with blood.
Aksho Kharneth Akhash

Slaanesh shall be called with anguish.
Aksho Slaaneth K'khaa

Tzeentch shall be called with fire.
Aksho Tzeeneth Phaos

Nurgle shall be called with death.
Aksho Nurgleth Dh'Akh

The door is unlocked, Daemons of Chaos I call thee forth.
Ksy'Iakash Dhaos Akhamshy'y Khaos Akso'mi!

p68 — Chaos Rewards: Nurgle

Champions of Lords that bear the Mark of Nurgle may take any of the following Chaos Rewards.

Beast of Nurgle — 40 pts

The model is accompanied by a Beast of Nurgle that has been gifted to him by the Chaos God. The characteristics and special rules for the Beast can be found in the Daemonic Ceratures section of this book. The Beast will attempt to remain within 6" of its master at all times. In effect, the two form a special unit and must obey all the Unit Coherency rules.

Nurgle's Rot — 5 pts

After making normal attacks in hand-to-hand combat, roll a D6 for each mortal enemy model in base-to-base contact. On a roll of 6 they contract Nurgle's Rot and suffer a single wound. No saving throws of any kind are allowed against Nurgle's Rot, so it cannot be stopped by energy fields, dodged, stopped by a medi-squig and so on. Note that this only applies to mortal foes, not to other daemons, vehicles, Avatars or Wraithguard.

Nurgle's Cloud of Flies — 5 pts

A cloud of flies surrounds the model. All enemy models in base-to-base contact suffer a -1 modifier to their Weapon Skill, whether they are attacking the model with the Cloud of Flies or another.

Plaguesword — 15 pts

The Plaguesword drips with venomous slime. A wound from a Plaguesword will kill mortal creatures outright on a D6 roll of 4 or more, regardless of how many wounds they have. One a roll of 1-3 the Plaguesword only causes 1 wound. Note that this only applies to mortal foes, not to other daemons, vehicles, Avatars or Wraithguard.

p70 — Chaos Icons

The Plague Banner — 15 pts

The Plague Banner is a frightening creation of rotten hide flapping in a pestilent breeze. Powerful magics hold a great spell of corruption in check until the time is ripe to send disease and decay scything through the enemy's ranks.

The Plague Banner contains a potent spell of destruction that may be cast once per battle, during any psychic phase. This is treated as a psychic power cast with Ultimate Force but requires no Force cards to be cast. The spell inflicts D6 wounds which may be distributed on any enemy models or vehicle crew (including Dreadnoughts) within 6" of the standard, but no more than 1 wound may be applied per enemy model. No saving throws of any kind apply.


p75 — Close Combat Weapons

Plague Knife

Plague Marines of Nurgle are armed with rusty, dirt encrusted blades which have been blessed with some of the Lord of Decay's most purulent diseases. A deep cut from a Plague knife will fester and become gangrenous within moments, poisoning the victim's blood and rotting away their flesh.

Special Rules: A Plague knife drips with virulent slime. A wound from this weapon will kill mortal creatures outright on a D6 roll of 6 regardless of how many wounds the target can sustain normally; on a roll of 1-5 the knife just inflicts 1 wound. Only mortal creatures are vulnerable to the Plague knife, not daemons.

Short RangeLong RangeTo Hit ShortTo Hit LongStrDamSave ModArmour Pen
Close combat onlyAs User1As UserVar

p75 — Close Combat Weapons

Blight Grenades

StrengthDamageSave Mod.Area

Blight grenades are made from the shrunken heads of those killed by Nurgle's favourite plagues. The head is filled with virulent pus and infected, biting flies before its orifices are stoppered with wax. When the grenade is thrown it splatters across the target area, forming puddles of purulent slime and noisome clouds of buzzing flies.

The standard Grenade rules apply for throwing a Blight grenade, and they may be used for targetting an area of ground like Smoke or Blind grenades. Place a Blight marker where the grenade lands (some are included in the colour section but Wound markers from Warhammer 40,000 serve just as well). Models within 2" of the marker will suffer a hit; models partially within range will be hit on a D6 roll of 4, 5 or 6. Affected models suffer a hit with a Strength value of D6 which will inflict 1 wound.

Roll for the Strength of tha attack separately against each target. If a 1 is rolled for the Strength of any hit the Blight has dissipated to the point where it is no longer dangerous (just unpleasant). In this case the S1 hit is resolved then the marker is removed and has no further effect on the game - any other models which were in the area of effect have a lucky escape. Any Nurgle daemons or Chaos models which bear the Mark of Nurgle are immune to the effects of Blight grenades.

Any armour saving throws for affected models apply as normal and are not modified. Note that even sealed armour is no sure defence against the Blight: flies will block up breathers, pus may work its way into flexible joint and eye pieces and so on. Models affected by the Blight cannot take saving throws for energy fields or dodges.

Exposed crewmen on vehicles may be affected by the Blight just like foot troops. Roll a D6 for enclosed vehicles within range. On a 6 the Blight gets inside and affects the crew: roll a D6 for the Strength of the hit against each crewman as noted above. Dreadnoughts and robots are completely unaffected by Blight grenades.

Blight markers that are still in place can continue to infect anyone who moves within 2" of them in future turns. Models which were affected in previous turns which do not move out of the area of effect of a Blight marker in their next movement phase will also suffer an additional hit. Roll for the Strength of the hit as above: on a roll of 1 the Blight marker is removed after inflicting a S1 hit.



Great Unclean One

In the second colour section, there is a model of a converted Predator into which has been bound a Great Unclean One to form a daemonically possessed vehicle.

p131 — Daemon World Armies

When a daemon prince takes control of his hard-won world he uses his mighty powers to reshape it into a form which pleases him. Because of this, every world is different and all are equally spectacular in their own way. The most powerful psykers in the Imperium have reported dreams or visions in which worlds of the Eye of Terror have been revealed to them. On one world a black sun stands in a white sky and smoky threads pour from it onto a tangled black city - this is said to be the home world of the daemon prince Perturabo, formerly the Primarch of the Iron Warriors. Another world has boiling lakes of blood from which spheres of fire float into the sky and spread their light across the firmament - the ruler of this world is the daemon prince Bubonicus, formerly a mortal Champion of Nurgle on one of the myriad lost worlds in the galaxy. Visions of such places disturb the psychically sensitive throughout the entire galaxy.

p140-141 — Foulspawn, Daemon Prince of Nurgle — 335 points

Foulspawn was one of the most diseased and disgusting of all Nurgle's Champions. It was said that the sight of him was so horrifying that hardened warriors who saw him were rendered incapable of any action while they gagged and wretched in disgust. Nurgle was deeply fond of his unsightly Champion, and eventually blessed him with the reward of Spawndom. Most Chaos Spawn die within minutes or hours of their transformation, either being killed in battle or expiring as their impossibly mutated bodies give out under the strain. Such was not the fate of Foulspawn, however. He not only survived, he grew and prospered. By some strange quirk of fate (or equally strange whim of Nurgle) Foulspawn was able to survive by ingesting and absorbing the fleshy tissues and bodily fluids of living creatures, which he achieves by grabbing his victim with his sticky, toad-like tongue, and then swallowing the still living creature whole!


Special Rules

Daemon Prince: Foulspawn is a Daemon Prince. All of the special rules that apply to daemons apply to him also. In particular, note that Foulspawn has a daemonic aura which gives him a saving throw of 4+.

Terror: Foulspawn exudes sheer horror, his very existence is a threat to the sanity of the most strong willed of mortals. The psychology rules for terror apply as described in the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook. Remember that creatures which cause terror automatically cause fear as well. In addition, as Foulspawn is so grotesquely horrible, enemy models must take any Fear or Terror tests on 3D6, rather than 2D6 as normally is the case.

Chaos Spawn: Foulspawn moves 2D6" each movement phase. Unlike normal Chaos Spawn who move randomly, Foulspawn is allowed to choose the direction he moves in, and doesn't have to move at all if he doesn't want to! Foulspawn may therefore move over friends or foes, and will attack any model it touches, apart from daemons.

Any model that Foulspawn moves over or touches sustains 1 automatic hit for each attack Foulspawn has. Work out the result of any hits and saving throws normally, using Foulspawn's Strength and save modifier (ie S7, -4 save). Allocate hits on vehicles to random locations. Enemy models may not deliberately move over Foulspawn in their own turn. Models that do so as a result of compulsory or random movement sustain hits in the same way as models moved over by the Foulspawn in his own turn.

Foulspawn suffers wounds if a double is rolled when determining his random movement, with no saving throw allowed for his Daemonic aura. The number of wounds he suffers is equal to the double rolled - eg, if you roll double 1 take 1 wound, double 4 take 4 wounds, double 6 take 6 wounds, etc. Foulspawn can also be wounded by shooting, psychic powers and so on. Enemy models may not attack Foulspawn in hand-to-hand fighting.

Absorb Bodily Tissue: Any wounds inflicted by Foulspawn may be used by him to replace any wounds he has lost himself. Note that this may not take Foulspawn's wounds total higher than it was at the start of the battle.

Toad-Like Tongue: Foulspawn can 'shoot' his toad-like tongue at one enemy model within 12" of him during his shooting phase. Roll to hit as normal. If the victim is hit they are dragged into base-to-base contact with Foulspawn, unless their strength (or ram value for a vehicle) is equal to or higher than Foulspawn's strength. Models dragged into base-to-base contact suffer damage as described above.

Nurgle's Cloud of Flies: A huge cloud of flies surrounds Foulspawn at all times. All enemy models within 6" of Foulspawn suffer a -1 modifier to their weapon skill and ballistic skill.

Psychic Powers: Foulspawn has a psychic mastery level of 4 and has all four of Nurgle's psychic powers.