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Game Master's Kit (2nd ed)

Each of Fantasy Flight Games' Warhammer 40,000 RPG game lines has a GM's Kit. This page refers to the one produced for the second edition of the Dark Heresy role-playing game. For the purposes of disambiguous, it is worth noting that the Black Crusade Game Master's Kit also has relevant Nurgle-specific content.

Aynthrexes, Herald of Nurgle

p3 — Desolation of the Dead

The pale man shifted his corrupted flesh, shrugging off the disguising cloak needed when venturing uphive. Here, in his rusted bastion rising out of the sump waters, Ferrue Fayne was the master of the Blessed Flesh, and soon all of Desoleum. Nothing could stop his rise; it was as certain as decay itself. Not even his traitorous brother Darnis, who would dare steal a shard of the primordial relic, could forestall this.

Fayne looked deeply into the item from another world, from an age before men walked upright. There was ancient power here, enough to bring the fallen to shambling life, and summon the Grandfather's children onto this plane. Soon, he would lead dead and daemonic wonders across the hive, and transform it to a temple fit for the Plague Lord.

Within the artefact, something smiled. Soon, indeed...

p3 — GM Briefing

"Do not fear death, for should you fall, I shall raise you up again to continue our grand conquest."
— Ferrue Fayne, to a congregation of the Blessed Flesh

p4 — Adventure Background

The adventure takes place in a rundown section of the lower hive known as the Gallowsway. It is home to a collection of Carrion Guilds, the families responsible for dealing with the dead of much of Desoleum's impoverished. Riddled with corruption, the Gallowsway has become a thoroughfare for those wishing to pass between the city's lower hive and the lawless Underhive relatively unnoticed. It is also the hub of the lower hive's body trade, where the Carrion Guilds dispose of the thousands of corpses sent from above, the remains of those lacking oath-credits for anything better than a one way trip to the Mortuarius Factorums.

The Gallowsway is more than just a warehouse for corpses and the citizens which tend to them: it is home to thousands of souls too poor to live anywhere else except among the dead. Even by the bleak standards of the lower hive, this is a tangled web of decay and ruin, with precious little power to light its worn streets and meagre rations to feed its populace.

From this rotten foundation, true heresy has begun to fester in the form of an ambitious and tainted Carrion Guilder: Ferrue Fayne. Second son of the Fayne Charnal House, Ferrue, along with his older brother Tormus and his younger brother Darnis, all share a latent psychic gift, rumoured among the Gallowsway residences to be the result of their late mother's illicit congress with unholy powers. Nurturing their gifts, the Fayne brothers were seduced by the Warp and its promise of power, becoming part of the Callers of Sorrow, a major heretical power overseeing many Nurgle cults within the hive.

While Tormus rose to power within the Callers, eclipsing the works of his brothers, Ferrue remained in the Gallowsway and schemed. His chance for power came in the form of a xenos artefact - a strange, asymmetrical device painful to look upon, which greatly enhanced his connection to the Warp and granted him the power to animate dead flesh. With promise in this newfound power, Ferrue formed his own splinter-cult, dubbing it the Blessed Flesh.

As Ferrue's power has grown, so too have the fortunes of the Blessed Flesh, and the cult is now well-established in the Gallowsway. The cult leader has created a lucrative body trade between the lower hive and the Underhive; he steals corpses from the Carrion Guilds for his own needs, then sells their wealth and remaining organs to the Red Walk, a gang located farther downhive. Ferrue's ultimate goal is to amass an army of the animated dead, and rise up from the Underhive in the name of the Plague God, spreading ruin and death in his wake. To this end, he has been preparing for a ritual to summon a powerful Herald of Nurgle to lead his corpse army.

Unfortunately for Ferrue, his brother Darnis has complicated matters by drawing the attention of the Sanctionaries. Much in the same way that Ferrue languished in the shadow of Tormus and the Callers of Sorrow, Darnis was jealous of his older brother's power. So much was his desire for attention and power that he stole a piece of the xenos artefact and tried to animate the dead himself. The horrific results are what has drawn the Acolytes to the Gallowsway, providing the first glimpse into the danger Ferrue and the Blessed Flesh pose to Desoleum.

p10 — Running the Blessed Flesh Cult

The Blessed Flesh is a splinter sect of the Callers of Sorrow, both cults dedicated to Father Nurgle. Ferrue formed the Blessed Flesh when he gained power from the xenos artefact and stepped out from his older brother's shadow. Because the artefact has granted Ferrue the power over dead flesh, he has become obsessed with that aspect of the Plague Father. Blessed Flesh cultists are usually identifiable by their self-mutilation. They commonly stick old nails, bits of metal, and bone through their bodies, and allow the surrounding flesh to become infected. The GM should play this up when the Acolytes encounter Blessed Flesh cultists, describing their puckered, red flesh around pins and blades still in their bodies, or the way they pause to lick their wounds when cut or shot. The cultists also have a foul smell of infection about them, and even when fully robed the GM can allow the Acolytes a chance to smell them on an Ordinary (+10) Awareness test.

p18 — Tormus Fayne in Gantry

Tormus Fayne is Ferrue's older brother and the most successful of the three Fayne Brothers. A prominent member of the Callers of Sorrow, he has his concerns over Ferrue's dabbling in xenos items, as well as his brother's lofty ideas about attacking the hive. The latter is a venture he believes is doomed to failure, until he himself leads the effort.

p20 — A Pestilent Heart

"There is a glorious rot within the heart of Hive Desoleum, one that will see its great foundations crumble and falter until all is decay and ruin!"
— Ferrue Fayne, the Pestifex

p22 — Conclusions

With the destruction of the Herald and the capture or death of Ferrue, the Blessed Flesh is broken. Any survivors who escape either make their way back to the Callers of Sorrow, or flee deeper into the Underhive's darkness. The Acolytes are left in control of the xenos artefact, and have ostensibly completed their task. They may also have gained some allies for future adventures in the form of Oath-Captain Nils and Vornas Crimson, though this depends on how they treated their new acquaintances along the way.

They have learned about the existence of a greater cult of Nurgle within Desoleum from Ferrue or the notes he has left behind, and they have uncovered more of the hive's Trade Sable and the sector-wide Faceless Trade rife in the dealing of xenos artefacts. Finally, they have the xenos artefact itself, an object of obvious power as yet untapped. They are also left with questions to answer, lest another cult attempt a similar ritual with possibly even more horrendous consequences. If a more powerful artefact exists, it could animate corpses across the entire hive. Desoleum would fall in hours.

p22 — Further Adventures

The Callers of Sorrow: In addition to information on the Trade Sable, captured cultists and details from Ferrue's notes indicate that the Blessed Flesh was only a splinter of a much larger cult. Even if the Acolytes do not fully realise the extent of this greater cult, the destruction of the Blessed Flesh draws the attention of the Callers of Sorrow, and it might begin actively targeting the Acolytes. Finally, the GM can include a holo-pict to be found on Ferrue's person, showing him with his two brothers. The Acolytes easily recognise Tormus Fayne if they met him in Gantry, and he is certain to become a major threat in future adventures.

p23 — Ferrue Fayne, the Pestifex

Obsessed with power, the middle of the Fayne brothers has latched onto using mysterious xenos artefacts to bolster his own splinter cult, the Blessed Flesh. With his younger brother dead and his elder brother Tormus seemingly ignoring him, Ferrue is ready to launch a major ritual that could bring the hive to its knees.

Ferrue Fayne, the Pestifex (Master)

Wounds: 23

Armour: Head 9, Arms 10, Body 10, Legs 10

Movement: 3/6/9/18

Threat: 30

Stub Revolver: Class Pistol, Rng 30m, RoF S/-/-, Dmg 1d10+3 (I), Pen 0, Clip 6, Rld 2 Full, Wt 1.5kg, Avl PL, Reliable

Force Staff: Class Melee, Rng -, RoF -, Dmg 1d10+7PR+SB (E), Pen 62+PR, Clip -, Rld -, Wt 2kg, Avl ER, Force

Skills: Command (Fel) +10, Deceive (Fel) +10, Dodge (Ag) +0, Awareness (Per) +10, Psyniscience (Per) +10

Talents: Bastion of Iron Will, Deceptive, Resistance (Disease, Psychic Powers), Strong Minded

Traits: Psy Rating (4; 3 when he does not possess the xenos artefact), Touched by the Fates (2), Unnatural Toughness (2)

Psychic Powers: Endurance, Enfeeble, Life Leech, Nurgle's Rot (see the sidebar on page 25)

Gear: Xenos artefact, parchment scrolls filled with notes, flak robes

The Blessed Flesh

The GM should use the following NPC profiles from Chapter XII of the Dark Heresy Core Rulebook to represent various members of the Blessed Flesh: Contagion Demagogue (page 406), Strain Initiate (page 406), Strain Infector (page 407), and Pestilentant (page 407). Thugs and Heavies (page 387) and can also be mixed in, depending on how difficult the GM wants to make a specific encounter.

p25 — Nurgle's Rot

The psyker focuses his mind on the generosity of Grandfather Nurgle, drawing forth from the Warp a great gift of disease to share with those around him. A noxious and unnatural slime splashes across all those nearby, infecting them with the galaxy's most perfect malady.

Action: Half Action
Focus Power: Difficult (-10) Willpower test
Range: 2 metres x Psy Rating
Sustained: No
Subtype: Attack

Effect: All characters within range (excluding Daemons of Nurgle and those sufficiently devoted to the Plague God) must make a Toughness test. Each target that fails the test immediately suffers 2 x PR Strength damage and 2 x PR Toughness damage. If this results in a character's death, the character is reborn after 2d5 rounds as a Plaguebearer.

p25 — Aynthrexes, Herald of Nurgle

Aynthrexes hears the Warp-ripples of Ferrue's call, and eagerly looks forward to sharing Father Nurgle's delights with mortals across Hive Desoleum. With each soul he devours, he gains in pestilent strength.

Aynthrexes, Herald of Nurgle (Master)

Wounds: 37

Armour: All 14

Movement: 4/8/12/24

Threat: 43

Bone Club: Class Melee, Rng -, RoF -, Dmg 1d10+179+SB (I), Pen 0, Clip -, Rld -, Wt 18kg, Avl UN, Corrosive, Toxic (3)

Skills: Athletics (Ag) +20, Psyniscience +20

Talents: Combat Master, Iron Jaw, Killing Strike, True Grit, Thunder Charge

Traits: Baneful Presence (20), Daemonic (4), Fear (3), From Beyond, Nauseating†, Psyker (PR 5), Size (5), Touched by the Fates (2), Unnatural Strength (3), Unnatural Toughness (3), Unnatural Willpower (2)

Psychic Powers: Enfeeble, Haemorrhage, Iron Arm, Life Leech, Nurgle's Rot (see sidebar)

Newly Summoned: Aynthrexes is fresh from the Warp, and so his power levels are lower than a fully-strengthened Herald. The GM should feel free to adjust his powers if desired to properly challenge the Acolytes and their allies.

Embodiment of Decay: Mere exposure to Aynthrexes' presence can rust and degrade even the strongest materials. While within 10 metres of the Herald, all equipment, weaponry, and armour functions as though it were Poor craftsmanship, regardless of its actual craftsmanship.

†Nauseating: A character who fails a Fear test against Aynthrexes does not roll on Table 8-11: Shock. Instead, the character is Stunned for one round per degree of failure, as he doubles over and retches uncontrollably. The character still suffers all other effects of failing a Fear test, such as possibly gaining Insanity points. If the character succeeds on the Fear test, he suffers one level of Fatigue as he contends with the bile rising in his throat.

p30 — The Inevitable Order, Heretek Cabal

Within the halls of the Adeptus Mechanicus, a secretive and blasphemous order of renegade Tech-Priests works to bring about the end of the Imperium. The Inevitable Order, as they call themselves, arose from a handful of Magi studying the archives of output from an ancient cogitator. The data they examined, though archaic and fragmentary, led them to conclude that the Imperium was doomed to a slow decay that could not be avoided. A fit of madness struck them then, and visions of what they called a Universal Entropic Principle mandated that they hasten the demise of Mankind along its inevitable course. In truth, they had succumbed to the lure of the Chaos God Nurgle, and their disciples, among whom they carefully disseminated their new lore, became a particularly self-deluded Chaos cult. Those who have learned much of the Entropic Principle often find it necessary to adapt their crimson robes to conceal corroded implants and respirators that drip noxious fluids from plague-bloated lungs.

The Inevitable Order does not fight the Imperium with war, famine, pestilence, or any other overt weapon. Instead, the corrupted Tech-Priests carefully delete key knowledge from the most hallowed archives and datastacks of the Martian Priesthood, leaving the Adeptus Mechanicus less and less able to provide the support the Imperium needs for its innumerable hive cities, machines, and engines of war. If the Order has its way, the Imperium will collapse under its own bloated weight, dying its foretold death so that the Entropic Principle might be the only thing remaining in the universe.