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Mark of the Xenos

p102-103 — Great Unclean One

"And there shall come seven plagues, and in them you shall read his works, writ in black bile and red ruin across the land. And he shall come amongst you; all shall feel his touch, and wither. In righteous joy, he bestows these gifts. Rejoice!"
— Imperial Astropath Sythia Zale, moments before her execution

Great Unclean Ones are the harbingers of Nurgle, god of rot and ruin - his greatest servants, bearers of his most sacred plagues and poxes. They are squat mountains of ruptured, roiling flesh, covered in open sores that weep with streams of pus. They burst through the veil with an ear-shattering howl of glee, delighted to walk the earth once more, spreading their bounty.

The Greater Daemons of Nurgle are not subtle. Their appearances on the mortal plane are heralded by disease and desolation on a planetary scale. If an incursion is left unchecked, whole worlds can go dark: their populations reduced by six-sevenths, their feeble leaders filthy and raving, their very cities collapsing around them. Through it all waddles the beaming, bile-slicked plague-father, bestowing his blessings, borne along on a living tide of chortling, chattering Nurglings. Great Unclean Ones are beings of decay and entropy made manifest, and before them the works of man are but castles made of sand, perched on the edge of a storm-wracked sea.

In battle, Great Unclean Ones wield enormous blades and maces of iron, crude, corroded cleavers and immense plague flails - each one dripping with pestilence.

Those that survive the wave of desolation that accompanies a Great Unclean One often become its faithful slaves. Wracked by disease, bloated by corpse gasses, stripped of their loved ones and surrounded by the dead and dying, many plague thralls give themselves over to their suffering, venerating and worshipping the very ailments that brought them low. Perversely, those who embrace Nurgle's foul contagions are made stronger by them, their ravaged bodies inured to pain, their rotting forms all but impervious to greater harm. The thriving colonies of bacteria gestating within their bloated bodies grant unholy regenerative abilities to their hosts, sealing gaping wounds in seconds and expanding ever-outward, until the creatures that were once men remain little more than disease-wracked shells, foetid human cauldrons of pox and pestilence.

Great Unclean Ones are always accompanied by - and infested with - thousands of gibbering, diminutive Nurglings, pint-sized daemons of mischief and malice who caper about madly, tongues lolling, their fat bodies supported by improbably spindly legs. Great Unclean Ones dote on these scabrous sprites, bouncing them on their knees and scratching behind their malformed ears. Even the rotting hulks of their bodies are colonized by Nurglings; these tiny creatures dwell in the burst carbuncles and rank wounds that cover a Great Unclean One, and particularly love to nest within its great, rent belly, burrowing deep inside the steaming intestines that hang in long, gore-slicked loops from its body. A Great Unclean One looks upon this cackling horde with munificence and paternal love, and Nurglings are quick to defend their "father" when he is threatened. Unwary foes are often dragged down by the murderous wave of shrieking, biting daemons that billows forth from the body of a Great Unclean One the instant it is attacked.

Natural-born carrion creatures also number among the Greater Daemon of Nurgle's faithful friends. Rats, vultures, worms, crows and sky-blackening clouds of flies trail in its jolly wake, hideously multiplied in both size and number.

Great Unclean Ones typically take the form of gargantuan, immensely fat humanoids, hot intestines dribbling out of huge tears in their enormous bellies. Their horrific girth is supported by two impossibly small and atrophied-looking legs, and their bulbous heads are crowned by the enormous antlers of a stag. Their suppurating, sore-covered bodies are host to every disease ever catalogued by man, and many more besides, and their stench can be detected from miles away. In perverse contrast with their appearance, their manner is jovial and kind; they are the very picture of mirth and good cheer. Even surrounded by the pitiful moaning of the sick and dying, they smile with pure-hearted benevolence, and their long, pus-coated tongues dangle from toothy face-splitting grins.

To look upon a Great Unclean One is to gaze upon the face of decay, to realize that all things must break down, must collapse and congeal, must rot and rust and fall to ruin, that the great works of man will one day vanish from the universe, and the stars themselves must one day die.

Great Unclean One (Master) Profile

Movement: 4/8/12/24

Wounds: 273

Skills: Awareness (Per), Scrutiny (Per) +10, Search (Per), Forbidden Lore (Warp, Daemonology) (Int), Deceive (Fel), Speak Language (All known languages).

Talents: True Grit, Strong Minded, Bulging Biceps, Crushing Blow, Die Hard.

Traits: Crawler, Daemonic (TB 14), †Daemonic Presence, Dark Sight, Fear 4 (Terrifying), From Beyond, Regeneration (5), Size (Massive), Unnatural Strength (x3), Unnatural Toughness (x2), Unnatural Willpower (x2), Warp Instability.

†Daemonic Presence: All enemies within 25 metres of a Great Unclean One suffer a -20 penalty to Willpower Tests in the area.

Weapons: Tooth and Nail (1d10+21 R; Pen 2; Felling (2), Toxic), Plague Blade (2d10+21 R; Pen 6; Felling (2), Toxic).

Special Rules

Cloud of Flies: All those within 5 metres take a -10 penalty to Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill Tests as choking clouds of buzzing, biting flies attack every exposed inch of flesh.

Lord of Decay: Great Unclean Ones often know a number of psychic powers; the GM should select any appropriate powers from the Deathwatch Rulebook and the Chaos Psychic Powers section on page 127.

Lord of Corruption: A Great Unclean One may inflict Righteous Fury. However, instead of rolling an additional 1d10 Damage, the victim instead suffers 1d10 permanent Toughness Damage.

Adventure Seeds

Aftermath: The Kill-team is sent to investigate the mysterious aftermath of a horrific industrial accident on an intensely-polluted Hive World. A chemical factory within one of the hives exploded, collapsing part of the structure and sending toxic fumes throughout the hive. Accidents of this nature are regrettable but far from uncommon, and ordinarily of concern to the rulers of the Hive world only in terms of lost production. This time, however, the contagion seems to be spreading, as level after level of the hive goes dark, all communication cut off. In reality, the accident was engineered by the secret servants of Nurgle to disguise the manifestation of a Great Unclean One, who now rules over the diseased cultists and gang members of the lower hive.

Prophecy: Deep within the vaults of Watch Fortress Erioch, the Kill-team discovers an ancient and long-forgotten prophecy warning of a Great Plague, destined to sweep through the Jericho Reach, reducing world after world to festering charnel houses of disease and decay. The prophecy seems to point to a great architect behind this plague, a creature that - if left unchecked - will soon put its dire plan into motion...

Addendum by Codicier Taelon

The stench. It is seared into my memory, above everything else. Dispatched to investigate the disappearance of another Kill-team near a small mining colony, we arrived on-world on a hot summer's day, and the smell nearly made me collapse. The entire colony had succumbed to some sort of great contagion; the white walls of their hab-units were slicked with blood and slime, and the bodies of the dead and dying were everywhere. My fears were confirmed when I encountered a group of survivors near the entrance to the mineshaft: they had given themselves over completely to the dark gods, chanting psalms and hymns to the leader, a figure they called "The Rotting King". Bolters took care of these plague-maddened miners, but deep within the bowels of that foetid mine we gave battle to their ruler - a hideous greater daemon of Nurgle. Despite the support of a Dreadnought and a double-strength Kill-team, I survived the battle with barely half of my Battle-Brothers intact... and many of those who lived would never be the same. I was lucky; my enviro-sealed armour kept the worst of the contagion at bay, and my body was strong enough to endure the rest. Even so, I was quarantined in Watch Fortress Erioch for a month before I was declared free of taint.


p112 — Plaguebearer

The Lesser Daemons of Nurgle are shambling, pustulent creatures known as Plaguebearers. These daemons have gangling, bony limbs, their bodies swollen with decay, so much so that glistening innards are exposed through rents in their skin. They possess a single, cyclopean eye and a single horn rising above their haggard, drawn faces, their bodies covered in filth and parasites. Despite the Plaguebearers' unusual appearance, they are supernaturally resilient to harm, the gifts of their master having inured them to all pain. Plaguebearers are constantly surrounded by clouds of droning flies and chant monotonous hymns, their gait a staggering lope. Their sonorous voices attempt to keep count of the number of noxious plagues unleashed by Nurgle; an impossible task, for the Grandfather of Plagues constantly invents new strains of viruses.

Plaguebearers carry rusted, heavy blades known as plagueswords. These weapons are infused with foul infections and toxins that can make the merest scratch fatal. These daemons are solemn, cruelly efficient warriors in battle, hideously effective at any war of attrition. They also serve as the Tallymen of Nurgle, eternally bound to record all of their dark god's pestilential creations. Many believe that Plaguebearers are in fact created by such diseases, incubating within plague victims and feeding upon their dying energies, only to later fully emerge from their heaped bodies.

Plaguebearer (Elite) Profile

Speed: 3/6/9/18

Wounds: 30

Skills: Awareness (Per), Psyniscience (Per), Scholastic Lore (Numerology) (Int), Speak Language (any one).

Talents: Crippling Strike, Fearless.

Traits: Daemonic (TB 10), †Daemonic Presence, Fear (2), From Beyond, Improved Natural Weapons, Natural Weapons (Claws), Regeneration (1), Strange Physiology, Unnatural Strength (x2), Unnatural Toughness (x2), Warp Instability.

†Daemonic Presence: All enemies within 10 metres of a Plaguebearer suffer a -10 penalty to Willpower Tests in the area.

Weapons: Plaguesword (1d10+13; Pen 1; Felling 1, Toxic), Claws (1d10+8; Pen 2; Toxic).

Special Rules

Cloud of Flies: All those within 5 metres take a -10 penalty to Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill Tests as choking clouds of buzzing, biting flies attack every exposed inch of flesh.

Report from Watch Captain Brand

Brother Librarian,
When you asked me to share anything I knew about the enemies we regularly confront in the Reach, one incident in particular came to mind. I led a Kill-team on a mission for Inquisitor Quist, the details of which I am not at liberty to discuss. The course of our mission took us to an orbital station above a world in the Acheros Salient - we found the station to be dead in space, with only silence answering our vox-hails. My Battle-Brothers and I scoured the station starting from the uppermost decks, but we found nothing... only empty cells and eerily quiet corridors. In the lower decks our auto-senses registered movement, and my Kill-team's Apothecary warned us of rapidly increasing toxin levels. We discovered the crew of the station jammed into a relatively small chamber, their bodies bloated with pestilence, all having been slain by a particularly virulent virus. Not long after this discovery, we faced a group of daemons, each with a single rheumy eye and a black, twisted horn. These daemons were extremely difficult to destroy, and massed bolter fire was needed to take them down one by one, with the last falling to a blow from my powerfist... although it nearly seemed as if more than one swing would be necessary, for these daemons are seemingly immune to any pain or discomfort, even from missing limbs or wounds that would otherwise despatch an enemy. Eventually, we purged the station by opening that chamber to vacuum, then re-sealing it and cleansing each room with flamers.

p121-122 — Plague Marines

A Space Marine's body is hardened against every conceivable form of attack, not least against deadly biological weapons and engineered plagues of all kinds. Nonetheless a Space Marine can be laid low by certain warp-spawned infections and diseases, their fantastic constitution betraying them and trapping them in a fevered nightmare between life and death. Lingering in the wracking torture of their own ravaged bodies can force even a Battle-Brother's resolve to weaken enough to make him cry out to the Chaos God Nurgle, the Plague Lord, for succour.

Amongst the most dedicated followers of this debased cult are the Chaos Space Marines of the Death Guard Legion, who fell to Nurgle in the dark days of the Horus Heresy, trapped aboard their ships in the warp as unnatural diseases ravaged their ranks. Over the centuries many other Chaos Space Marines have had cause to dedicate themselves to the Great Corruptor as they stood at the threshold of death. The Maggot Lord welcomes all his children with open arms, instilling in them a kind of morbid energy that is terrible to behold.

Plague Marines are Chaos Space Marines that have dedicated themselves completely to Nurgle. They are greatly beloved of the Lord of Pestilence. Few mortal beings have sufficient vitality to bear the full weight of the many blessings that Nurgle bestows, but the toughened flesh of a Chaos Space Marine is almost limitless in its capacity for the most deadly parasites and plagues. A lone Plague Marine can carry literally thousands of known and unknown viruses and bacteria to infect the battlefield, their bellies churning with maggots, worms and other foul putrescence.

Plague Marines are easy to recognise by their rotted appearance and stink of decay. Dark clouds of flies buzz and swirl all around them as they hobble forward on twisted limbs. Their armour and weapons are pitted and corroded, disgustingly slick with the slime and ooze that drips from pocked carapaces covered in sores. Many Plague Marines appear bloated with distended organs poking out through rents in their armour, their limbs deformed by parasites and disease.

Despite their rotting appearance, Plague Marines are truly fearsome opponents. Their strength is undiminished and, through the blessings of Nurgle, their decaying brains are completely inured to the agony of their physical corruption. In battle this makes them virtually unstoppable as they are all but immune to the pain inflicted by the most terrible wounds in their deadened flesh.

The Plague Marines of Nurgle are armed with rusty, filth-encrusted weapons blessed with some of the Lord of Decay's most virulent diseases. A wound inflicted by a Plague Marine's weapon will fester and become gangrenous within seconds, poisoning the victim's blood and rotting away their flesh. Their bolter rounds carry payloads of virulent pus and infected bone; the teeth of their chainswords are ripped from the mouths of plague victims.

Even the noisome clouds of flies that follow Plague Marines everywhere are a hazard in their own right. The warp-spawned pests swarm across faceplates, clog respirators and bite at exposed flesh unmercifully as if commanded by a sinister volition. A battleground fought over by Plague Marines quickly becomes a toxic wasteland that can be deadly for years to come. A thorough purgation with flamers is recommended in any area where Plague Marines have been present.

Plague Marine (Elite) Profile

Move: 5/10/15/30

Wounds: 36

Skills: Awareness (Per), Command (Fel) +10, Dodge (Ag), Forbidden Lore (Daemons, Warp) (Int), Intimidate (S) +20, Literacy (Int), Speak Language (Low Gothic) (Int), Survival (Int), Swim (S).

Talents: Astartes Weapon Training, Crippling Strike, Fearless, Hatred (Loyalist Space Marines), Heightened Senses (Sight, Sound, Touch), Jaded, Quick Draw, Rapid Reload, Swift Attack.

Traits: Dark Sight, Fear 2 (Frightening), Size (Hulking), Stuff of Nightmares, Toxic (1d10)†, Unnatural Strength (x2), Unnatural Toughness (x3).

Armour: Astartes power armour (Head 8, Arms 8, Body 10, Legs 8).

Weapons: Astartes Chainsword (1d10+14 R; Pen 4; Balanced, Tearing), Astartes Bolt Pistol (30m; S/3/-; 2d10+5 X; Pen 5; Clip12; Reload Full; Tearing), Astartes Bolter (100m; S/3/-; 2d10+5 X; Pen 5; Clip 28; Reload Full; Tearing), Plague Knife (1d10+10 R; Pen 2; Toxic).

Gear: 2 bolt pistol magazines, 4 bolter magazines, 3 Blight grenades.

Special Rules

Cloud of Flies: All those within 5 metres take a -10 penalty to Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill Tests as choking clouds of buzzing, biting flies attack every exposed inch of flesh.

†Toxic (1d10): This Trait applies to all Plague Marine attacks including ranged ones.

Adventure Seeds

Ritual: Epidemics have been ravaging a hive world, killing billions and turning millions more into plague zombies. Adepts have narrowed the source of the diseases to a region of the underhive previously thought too toxic to sustain life. A warband of Plague Marines and their disease riddled supplicants are holding court there, preparing a ritual to summon a Great Unclean One, a Greater Daemon of Nurgle, to complete the ruin of the world.

Plague Raid: A pious gathering of Imperial faithful on a Shrine world is being targeted by Plague Marines determined to shame the false Emperor and show His followers how poorly they are protected. They plan to attack in a sudden raid and unleash horrifying diseases into the multitudes of pilgrims before they can be stopped. Once the blessings of Nurgle have been duly dispensed, the Plague Marines can then withdraw and let the epidemic do its work. If the Plague Marines can't be intercepted, untold thousands will be consigned to grisly deaths.

Epidemic: Outbreaks of a deadly and virulent disease that is wiping out crews on ships and way stations can be traced back to xenos traders. The traders are selling artefacts which have no ill effect on xenos, but carry a contagion lethal to humans. Tracing the artefacts to their source reveals them to be manufactured by a Plague Marine coven in wilderness space. Eliminating the xenos traders is essential of course, but tracking down the Traitor Space Marines has an even higher priority. Can the Kill-team conquer their natural instincts long enough to pursue the true threat?

Addendum by Codicier Taelon

Truly the deadly virulence of Plague Marines is perhaps the most insidious weapon in their arsenal. Consider this report culled from the log of the Rogue Trader Evar Worak, found when his vessel, the Summer Reign, was boarded after being found adrift.


As we passed outsystem from Heraklion, an unknown ship was spied on the augur scopes and I ordered full speed as a precaution. Sure enough the newcomer fell in with us and set an intercepting course. It was big, a renegade ship by her rig and certainly too large for us to fight. I altered course to slide past her before she could trap us insystem and we started to outstrip her. Seeing this, the renegades loosed a brace of torpedoes after us, seemingly a pointless gesture but as I altered course again to avoid their tracks, the weapons came about themselves and followed!

We fled before them, twisting and turning but the seemingly implacable devices relentlessly closed the distance. Seeing the inevitable conclusion to the race I brought us broadside and let fly at the things. Though the batteries shredded one torpedo, the other one bored on through the barrage and the close-in turret fire, to sink itself in the flank of my beautiful ship. A boarding torpedo of course, and we fought like devils to keep the enemy away from the engine rooms. We had to fight like devils because what came out of that torpedo was surely spawned by daemons. Monstrous, putrid things they were, shaped like Space Marines but filled with an indescribable foulness. Wherever their weapons struck, men fell shrieking, black veins of corruption spreading through their bodies before our very eyes.

Our weapons seemed to barely harm them, blasts and bolts sinking harmlessly into flesh and armour that had become a twisted amalgam of both. But we outnumbered them many times over and through bloodshed and sacrifice we dragged them down one by one, though each might cost us a hundred. We slew them all, burned the bodies and cast them out of the 'locks, but now I fear it was not enough.

We outran the renegade ship, but some taint has been placed upon our own. The crew are falling to disease, more of them by each hour and the chirurgeons are helpless to prevent it. Emperor protect us.

p126 — Plague Marine Weapons

Giving their loyalty to the Plague Father, Nurgle, Plague Marines are living contagions of disease and death. Many of the weapons employed by these plagued beings likewise transmit horrific and deadly maladies. Listed below are some of the more wicked devices of death designed to please Nurgle and bring about both death and suffering.

Blight Grenades

Bloated and swollen with disease, the Plague Marines long to share their pathogens with those who are hale and hearty. Cultivating these contagions into explosive devices designed to wound and infect over a large area, Blight grenades expose those who are injured by the corrupted pieces of plague-ridden shrapnel to the most deadly of toxins. These contagions can penetrate cracks in armour, cause flesh to boil and slough away, and fill the air with blinding spores, all the while keeping the victim alive until the very end - so they can better enjoy the gifts of the Lord of Decay. Some versions of Blight Grenades resemble maggot-filled shrunken heads.

Plague Knives

Corroded and diseased blades that have been blessed by the great Nurgle, plague knives are sure to deliver their blighted corruption to any who are even scratched by them. These are one of the ways the dreaded Plague Marines deliver their "benedictions" across the galaxy.

p127 — Chaos Psychic Powers

Nurgle's Rot

Action: Half Action
Opposed: No
Range: 5 metres + Psy Rating radius
Sustained: Yes

Description: The grandest and most infamous of Nurgle's contagions, Nurgle's Rot is known by many names and has appeared on countless worlds, leaving entire populations desolated by this terrible daemonic pathogen. Nurgle-devoted Sorcerers take on all manner of diseases, serving as host to the creations of the Lord of Plagues. From this seething mass of decay and entropy, these devotees of pestilence summon forth the psychic echo of this paragon of plagues, inflicting it upon those nearby.

The infectious gift of Nurgle is cast outwards to embrace all who stray too near to the Sorcerer. Creatures within range of the Sorcerer while this power remains in effect suffer 1d10 + Psy Rating damage, with the Toxic (1d10) quality. The damage from this power ignores Armour unless it is environmentally sealed.

While this power remains in effect, the air within the power's range is filled with a thick, acrid fog and swarms of massive bloated flies. Any creature within range that is not devoted to Nurgle suffers a -5 penalty to Intelligence, Perception and Fellowship Tests as the foul vapour and buzzing flies hinder their concentration and drive them to distraction. This effect is in addition to any normal Psychic Phenomena.