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Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness

Slaves to Darkness was previewed in White Dwarf 99 (Mar 1988) (chaos mutations), White Dwarf 102 (Jun 1988) (daemon names), White Dwarf 103 (Jul 1988) (chaos weapons), White Dwarf 104 (Aug 1988) (miniatures and art), and White Dwarf 105 (Sep 1988) (art). Errata were published in White Dwarf 107 (Nov 1988).

This is the first of the two Realm of Chaos books, and covers the Chaos Powers Khorne and Slaanesh. The second, The Lost and the Damned, covers the Chaos Powers Nurgle and Tzeentch. This book includes general rules for daemons and the mortal followers of Chaos, spells, magic items, and Chaos Attributes (mutations). Warhammer 40,000 background details the Warp, Fall of the Eldar, Black Library, Illuminati, Emperor, Sensei, Traitor Legions, Horus Heresy, Eye of Terror, Ordo Malleus, and Grey Knights.

There are Warhammer Fantasy army lists for Daemonic Legions and Armies of Chaos (both with Khornate and Slaaneshi variations), and Warhammer 40,000 army lists for the World Eaters, Emperor's Children, and Black Legion (as well as the Ordo Malleus, heavy on the Grey Knights).

p10 — The Spread of Chaos

In the incalculably distant past, the World was visited by the starfaring race known as the Old Slann. Their degree of scientific advancement caused some of the species they met to worship them as gods, while others reviled them as demons. The Old Slann performed many scientific experiments on the World, and although the knowledge of their presence is lost in the present day, many of the races which inhabit the World found their origin in these experiments.

The Old Slann travelled by means of interdimensional gateways, spanning the distances between the stars by travelling through 'warpspace', a parallel dimension which connects all points in the material universe. One of their first tasks upon arriving on the World was to set up a pair of gatewas, one at each pole of the planet, to allow the to come and go as they pleased.

Warpspace, however, was not an empty void, but was composed of a form of power wholly alien to the material universe. It was inhabited by entities who were equally alien. As their great ships travelled through warpspace the Old Slann protected themselves with powerful enchantments, but eventually something went dreadfully wrong.

Precisely what happened can now only be guessed. Perhaps the protective enchantments broke down, or the beings that lives in warpspace found some way to overcome them. Or perhaps the gateways broke down under the strain of the magical forces that cycled continually through them. Whatever the cause, the gateways collapsed. Both poles were destroyed, and permanent dimensional tunnels were created between the World and the void of warpspace.

Among the matter sucked through into the World is warpstone, a substance formed of the condensed and solidified essence of Chaos. Warpstone dust rained down upon the World at the time of the catastrophe, twisting many races into strange and horrible shapes and leading to the creation of many new species. The fallout of warpstone dust was also the catalyst that stimulated the development of the Human race, giving it the versatility and lust for change that led to the present Human dominance over many parts of the World. Although few Humans are aware of this, and fewer still would ever admit it, Chaos has left a lasting mark on the Human race, and it it among Humans that Chaos finds its richest source of willing servants.

Many beings from the void chose to send a part of their substance to the World. Some were comparitively small and weak, while others were possessed of almost incalculable power. Thus were born the gods of Law and the gods of Chaos and their daemonic minions. The natural laws of the material universe affected their alien substance in many strange ways, giving them forms and powers which they had not possessed in their home dimension, and they found that they were able to hold sway over the inhabitants of the World, and to use them for the furtherance of their own unfathomable ambitions. There was a constant struggle between the followers of Law and those of Chaos. The gods of Law were few and comparitively weak, but their unity made up for their lack of numbers.

Seven thousand years later, the battle between Law and Chaos still rages across the face of the World, with most of its mortal inhabitants caught helplessly in the middle. The dimensional openings at the poles change constantly, shrinking with the ascension of Law, and growing as Chaos gains the upper hand. All the while, a constant stream of raw Chaos floods through from the void.

For millennia, the tide of Chaos has ebbed and flowed across the face of the World. The worst incident in recent history was the great Incursion of Chaos 200 years ago, when Norsca was completely overrun and the Chaos hordes ravaged the northern parts of the Old World.

This tide is, however, only a single aspect of Chaos. It also acts in subtler ways. Human agents worm their way into positions of authority in many places, and work to further the ends of their unspeakable masters... Chaos is a quick and easy road to power for those with the daring to take it; a daring that is always foolhardy, rash and short-sighted. Chaos has many perils, and a terrible price: it ensnares and seduces, flatters and enriches, mutates and corrupts and, ultimately, destroys. Those who follow Chaos willingly do so at the cost of their sanity, their humanity and their souls.

And in warpspace, the primal void of Chaos, the beings of Chaos will wait and spread their taint across the Imperium and the universe. Warp creatures hover around the vulnerable psykers of humanity, seeking a path into existence through an unprotected mind. Every psychic is a potential gateway from the void of the Warp, and unwitting agent of Chaos to be filled with a terrible power. Only the vigilance of the Emperor's Inquisition protects Humanity from the threat within itself.

And even within the Imperium there are the foolish and weak-minded who turn to the darkness. By embracing the power and horror of warpspace, all that they desire will come to pass...

Page 23 of the book gives a method for randomly generating daemonic names (both true names and use-names). There is an implementation of that methodology on the Daemon Names page of this website, which randomly generates sets of names for you.

It is interesting to note that this book sets down the earliest mentions of many staples of the background: the establishment of warrior lodges as Chaos cults within the Legions, the Eisenstein is called out, Fabius Bile is the Lieutenant Commander of the Emperor's Children (p263; other than Horus, he is the only notable Chaos Space Marine personality named in this book), and the body of the Warmaster is cloned. Background on the Primarchs didn't come until The Lost and the Damned. And contrary to the background from later books, at the time this was written the Inquisition already existed before the Horus Heresy.

p240-243 — The Traitor Legions

The Eye of Terror is a region of space cut off by warpstorms, wreathed in dust clouds, cloaked in mystery and danger. While it lies inside Imperial Space, it is not part of the Imperium. It is a desolate volume of space - the small number of systems to be found within the Eye have few habitable planets. However, its isolation from the Imperium is due to another cause. The Eye of Terror is home to the Imperium's oldest enemies and greatest rebels: the Traitor Legions.

Banished from the Imperium, the Traitor Legions are the remnants of nine Marine Chapters from the First Founding. Deep inside the Eye, beyond the range of even the most sensitive psyker, the Traitor Legions made planetfall. There they have remained to the current day, a threat to the Imperium and to the natural order of the universe. From their fastness within the Eye of Terror, the Traitor Legions emerge in force, falling upon Imperial worlds, rekindling the fear and despair of the Horus Heresy.

The Horus Heresy

Imperial entanglements with Chaos have a long and bloody history, dating back almost to the First Founding of the Legiones Astartes. The most serious incident was the so-called Horus Heresy of the 31st Millennium, now commonly assumed to be a conventional revolt. Only the Emperor and the Cyber-libraries of the Ordo Malleus have an accurate recollection of the Heresy.

General Horus was regarded as the finest military commander that the Imperium had produced. His abilities were faultless, and eventually the Emperor granted him the title of Imperial Warmaster. This was a high honour, even in the early years of the Imperium, when brave deeds were commonplace.

Before Horus could travel to Terra to receive his reward he fell ill on the feral world of Davin. This was his undoing. During his convalescence on Davin he was inducted into a secret warrior's lodge, which proved to be little more than a coven. A change of character became evident in the Warmaster - he had been possessed by a Daemon. Horus' membership of the secret lodge was not unusual; Imperial solders were often encouraged to join warrior societies of this type. Recruiting was felt to be easier on worlds were 'warriors from the stars' had become 'brothers'.

Warmaster Horus was recalled to duty in preparation for a new Imperial Crusade. It is clear that the Warmaster introduced a system of 'warrior lodges' into the five Legiones Astartes Chapters under his direct command. The Chapters were entirely corrupted as the lodges revealed their true nature and showed themselves to be nothing less than Chaos covens. The infection rapidly spred to the Orders of Adeptus Mechanicus attached to Horus' command. From there the rot spread further into the Imperial forces. More than half of the Adeptus Mechanicus, including many units of Collegia Titanica and the Legio Cybernetica wholeheartedly supported Horus and his vision of a new Imperium of Chaos. This wholesale treachery went undetected by the Inquisition.

Before Horus could move, the Imperial Commander of Isstvan III declared the entire Isstvan system to be an independent principality. The Emperor and Administratum, ignorant of the change in Horus, his subordinate chapters and the parts of the Adeptus Mechanicus, ordered the Warmaster to secure the system. Horus chose a bioweapon combardment on Isstvan III, and the planet became a tomb in seconds. The psychic death scream of the 12 billion who died during the Scourging of Isstvan is reputed to have been louder than the Astronomican.

During the bombardment, loyal Adeptus Astartes officers and troops managed to seize control of the frigate Eisenstein. They had discovered the rot that had been spread through the Warmaster's Chapters and the Adeptus Mechanicus. As Horus completed his withdrawal to Isstvan V the loyalists fled into warp space, carrying a warning to the rest of the Imperium. The seizure of the Eisenstein is regarded as the start of the First Inter-Legionary War.

The Emperor now became aware of the danger, and the Inquisition began a purge of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Fighting broke out immediately as the Mechanicus split into loyalists and rebels. The Legio Cybernetica and Collegia Titanica bases on Mars were immediately besieged by loyalist troops. Out of all the Titan Legions of the Divisio Militaris only those on Terra remained loyal. The rest declared for Horus.

With the wholesale treachery of the Divisio Militaris, the loyalist faction within the Collegia Titanica was forced to husband its battlefield resources. Fortunately, many of the weapon shops and supply depots of the Collegia had remained loyal. The priesthood were in control of the Collegia depots, and their presence ensured that these vital resources remained in the hands of the Imperium. The rebels were presented with an immediate supply problem; damaged and destroyed Titans could not be repaired with the limited spares stockpiles held by individual Orders.

Savage battles broke out between loyalist and rebel Titan Orders. Faced with extinction through lack of spares if they delayed or acted defensively, the rebels attacked. The Collegia histories list many construction adepts who performed the dedication rites on a new Titan, and then mounted their charge and took it straight into battle. In some cases the libations were still wet when it reached combat. Only able to match such fanaticism with their sheer weight of numbers, the rebels were often forced into a position of stalemate. However, despite the valiant defence of these loyal remnants of the Collegia Titanics, enough supplies were captured to allow the rebels to make good use of their Titans during the final assault upon Earth.

Across the Imperium rebel units attacked loyalists and vice versa. Old feuds were revived in many systems, giving additional excuses for battle. The rule of the Imperium dissolved into planetary battles. Many units of the Imperial Guard declared for the Warmaster. The Imperial Fleet dithered and managed only to drive rebel ships from the Imperial home system. In the process they took heavy casualties and retired to their Luna bases.

The Emperor took stock of the situation, and ordered seven entire Marine Chapters, a third of the Legiones Astartes to destroy Horus and his rebels. Only with the death of the Warmaster, the figurehead and inspiration of rebellion, would the revolt come to an end. The crusade against Horus, although of the utmost urgency, took more than 180 days to plan and launch. Horus used the time well, establishing his claim as a 'New Emperor' with many of the rebels, and spreading the worship of Chaos further afield.

The Warmaster had established a temporary headquarters on Isstvan V. The loyalist Chapters struck in quick succession, and the battles of the Pacification of Isstvan were bloody in the extreme. The first assaults by loyalist Chapters were mauled during their landings, and then destroyed in detail. Three complete Chapters took part in the initial landings on Isstvan; only five Marines, bearing the gene-seed of their departed brothers, eventually managed to escape to carry the news of the disaster to the Emperor. Their own 'loyalist' follow-up waves, rather than attacking the rebels, fell upon their erstwhile allies. Horus had, apparently, managed to corrupt four of the seven Chapters sent against him.

With nine rebel Chapters and the bulk of the Adeptus Mechanicus behind them, and three loyal Chapters destroyed, Horus assaulted Earth. Throughout the Imperium rebel and loyalist units were fighting each other to a virtual standstill, although the tide of battle was turning, ever so slowly, in the Emperor's favour. Possessed as he was, the Warmaster had lost none of his strategic bluntness: crush the heart, and the Imperium could be remoulded in his own warped image.

The Imperial Fleet was bypassed, and its Luna bases destroyed. Within 30 standard days the Warmaster had reduced the system defences, infested Earth, and thrown a ring of troops about the Imperial Palace. The forces under Horus' command had ceased to be loyal Imperial Marines. They had become the Traitor Legions.

The Adeptus Custodes, the Imperial Fist and Whitescar Chapters, and loyalists of the Collegia Titanica were all that remained on Earth. Even their suicidal bravery and the leadership of the Emperor were not enough to prevent the battle turning into a siege. The rebel Traitor Legions were aided by the machines of the Adeptus Mechanicus and, outnumbered by these, even the bravest loyalists could do little. By the 55th day the Traitor Legions and the rebel Adeptus Mechanicus Legions had reached the walls of the Inner Palace.

The situation grew more desperate by the hour and, when the Outer Palace was abandoned to the Traitor Legions and their allies, the Emperor acted. He disconnected himself from the Astronomican, a signal to the remainder of the Imperial Fleet that the end, one way or another, was approaching. The Emperor and an elite company of Custodes Adeptus soldiery and Imperial Fist Marines were then teleported into Horus' command bunker. In the fierce fighting that followed Horus was killed (although his body was never found), and the Emperor seriously wounded.

With the death of the Warmaster the rebels paused in their assaults, then fell back to their transports and fled into space. The Imperial Fleet, which had been powerless to intervene while the rebels were within the Palace, gave chase. The Emperor returned to the Palace, where he was placed within a life-bubble; his wounds would have been fatal for an ordinary man. Under his watchful eyes the construction of the Golden Throne, which sustains him to this day, began.

His future assured, the Emperor pronounced judgement on Horus and his Legions. They had broken faith with the Emperor and trafficked with Daemons. They were declared to be the Traitor Legions, rebels against the Emperor and Mankind. The Fleet was ordered to drive them into the Eye of Terror, a system of hell-worlds wrapped in a dust nebula and awash with warpstorms. Here the Traitor Legions would be confined for all eternity; all records and memories of the lapsed Marine Chapters would be expunged from Imperial Archives. Their tied servants and support troops were to be removed from the Isstvan and Davin systems, and sent into the Eye aboard almost derelict hulks. It would be as if the Traitor Legions had never existed. In this decision the Emperor tempered his vengeance with reality - the Imperium had been so weakened by the struggle that no other punishment was possible.

As news of the Warmaster's defeat spread through the Imperium widespread fighting was renewed. The loyalists were revitalized by the news, and fell on the rebels. Many Guard and Fleet detachments had withheld their support from both sides. Such indecision was punished by the rebels and loyalists alike. The loyalists bled such formations white in attacks against rebel strongholds. The rebels turned on all within reach in a final despairing orgy of destruction. The fighting continued for another seven years before the last rebel formations were destroyed or exiled.

Those who could flee did so, heading for the Eye of Terror. Many had declared for the Warmaster without understanding that Daemon-worship had been the rebellion's cause. They rapidly fell victim to the cultists of the original Traitor Legions, who, it is said, grew bored of a diet of human flesh.

The destroyed Chapters were slowly re-restablished using what gene-seed had been saved. Many systems, including Davin and Isstvan, were cleansed and placed under the protection of the Inquisition. The unit designation of the Traitor Legions were placed on the inactive list and assigned to new Marine Chapters raised during later Foundings.

The Emperor's body had breathed its last, and he entered the Golden Throne. The Traitor Legions and their dead Warmaster vanished into the Eye of Terror. The First Inter-Legionary Way - the Horus Heresy - lasted less than a decade, but it nearly destroyed the Imperium.

Anomalous with later publications, it could possibly be inferred from the following extract that the Black Legion may on occasion fight alongside the Imperium's forces against a common foe:

p268 — The Black Legion

The revived, but still numerically inferior, Sons fought a number of wars against the other Traitor Legions, which culminated in the destruction of the Sons' fortress. The Warmaster's body was removed and cloned, much to the disgust of the remaining Sons. Denied their Warmaster, the Sons rejected his name, their chapter title and painted their armour predominantly black. In a lightning raid the new 'Black Legion' destroyed the Warmaster's body and fled into a further exile. The Chapter's remaining space barge vanished into the dust nebulae about the Eye of Terror.

The Black Legion has raided the Eye of Terror and Imperial worlds ever since. Their hulking space barge has been seen in many parts of the Imperium, only to vanish as mysteriously as it had arrived. The Legion leaves traces of its presence on many planets, and has fought against Imperial forces on many occasions, but its motives and loyalties remain unclear. During the Ultramrines' operations against the Tyranid hive-fleet 'Behemoth', for example, a Black Legion helmet was found by a combat ship clearance squad. Inquisition scholars are still divided over the significance of this discovery.