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Nurgle is one of the four major Chaos Gods in both the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 settings, and is the god of disease and despair.
Nurgle is lord of pestilence and decay, dedicated to spreading disease and corruption. Many of his followers carry an appalling disease known as Nurgle's Rot, degenerating until they are one with their god's ideal (see Disease).
Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay. He is also the Lord of All, because all things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to physical corruption. Indeed, the very processes of contruction and creation foreshadow destruction and decay. The palace of today is tomorrow's ruin, the maiden of the morning is the crone of the night, and the hope of a moment is but the foundation stone of everlasting regret.
What is the response of living men to this undeniable and inevitable futility of life? Is it to lie down and accept death and the coming to nought of every endeavour! No it is not! Faced with the inevitability of death what answer can there be but to run through life at a breakneck pace, cramming each day with hope, laughter, noise and bustle? Thus, happiness and human endevaour are sired by a coming to terms with decay and futility. This realisation is the key to understanding the Great Lord of Decay and his worshippers.
Once we comprehend what it is that the Chaos Power Nurgle embodies, it becomes easier to understand what might otherwise seem a contradictory or even perverse nature. On the one hand he is the Lord of Decay, his body wracked with disease; on the other he is full of unexpected energy and a desire to organise and enlighten.
The living know they will die, and many know that they will live with disease or other torment, yet they drive this knowledge into a corner of their minds and keep it pinioned there with all manner of dreams and activity. Nurgle is the embodiment of that knowledge and of the unconscious reponse to it, of the hidden fear of disease and decay, and of the power of life which that fear generates.
Nurgle is the eternal enemy of the Chaos Power Tzeentch. Nurgle and Tzeentch draw their energy from opposing beliefs. Whereas the energy of Tzeentch comes from hope and changing fortune, that of Nurgle comes from defiance born of despair and hopelessness. The two Great Powers never lose an opportunity to pit their forces against each other.
Father Nurgle nurtures his children
Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay and the Master of Plagues and Pestilence, his carcase is riddled with disease and infestation. Nurgle is also the Lord of All because all things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to physical corruption. Indeed, the very processes of contruction and creation foreshadow destruction and decay. The palace of today is tomorrow's ruin, the maiden of the morning is the crone of the night, and the hope of a moment is but the foundation stone of everlasting regret.
What is the response of living men to the undeniable and inevitable futility of life? Is it to lie down and accept death and the coming to naught of their every endeavour? No it is not! Faced with the inevitability of death what answer can there be but to run through life at a great and unstoppable pace, cramming each day with hope, laughter, noise and bustle. Thus, happiness and human endeavour are sired by a coming to terms with decay and futility. This realisation is the key to understanding the Great Lord of Decay and his worshippers.
Once we comprehend what it is that the Chaos Power Nurgle embodies, it becomes easier to understand what might otherwise seem a contradictory or even perverse nature. On the one hand he is the Lord of Decay, whose body is wracked with disease; on the other he is full of unexpected energy and a desire to organise and enlighten.
The living know that they will die, and many know that they will live with disease or other torment, yet they drive this knowledge into a corner of their minds and keep it pinioned there with all manner of dreams and activity. Nurgle is the embodiment of that knowledge and of the unconscious reponse to it, of the hidden fear of disease and decay, and of the power of life which that fear generates.
Nurgle is the eternal enemy of the Chaos Power Tzeentch, the Lord of Change. Nurgle and Tzeentch draw their energy from opposing beliefs. While the energy of Tzeentch comes from hope and changing fortune, that of Nurgle comes from defiance born of despair and hopelessness. The two Great Powers never lose an opportunity to pit their forces against each other, from mighty battles on the Chaos Wastes, to complex political intrigues among mortal men.
Nurgle is the god of plague, pestilence, decay and physical corruption. His body is huge and bloated, his rotting flesh swollen with decay and pock-marked with sores and lesions. Tiny daemons called Nurglings crawl all over his putrid carcass plucking at torn flesh and sucking at the leprous sores and putrid boils. Nurgle is full of morbid energy and enthusiasm, and his daemons travel through time and space spreading plagues and corruption as they perform their Dance of Death round cities and towns they wish to infect. Mortals who die from Nurgle's plague are never free of their agonies, as their souls are claimed by the plague god and they become new daemon servants in their turn. A mortal so much as touched by a daemon of Nurgle will catch some foul disease, and is doomed from that moment on to die. It is held that a mortal who is dying of sickness can forestall his death by calling upon Nurgle and pledging his soul to the Lord of Decay.
Let the air turn stale and foetid, let the flies gather like clouds. Let us worship the master of the plague, Nurgle! Nurgle! Nurgle!
— Nurgle cult incantation
Nurgle - The Great Lord of Decay, the Plague God. Nurgle's fascination lies in the lepers and plague ridden people of the world. For amusement Nurgle seeds the world with deadly contagions and plagues such as the nauseating Red Pox and the incurable Nurgle's Rot. Nurgle's power grows strong when his plagues are epidemic upon the good folk of Warhammer, and wanes with the fading of them. Nurgle is a bloated Chaos God whose foul appearance is only matched by the rank stench of decay which surrounds him. His body is green and leathery and covered in running sores and boils. The absolute foulness of Nurgle is beyond description by mere words.
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.
Death is the only constant in the realm of Man, and with death comes decay. Nurgle is the embodiment of disease and deterioration, the elemental forces that hold in check the energies of progress and evolution. There exists within every mortal the desire to let all around him rot, and to exult in the processes of disease and decomposition.
Nurgle empowers those who would see every accomplishment of Mankind reduced to mouldering ruin. He is the Lord of Decay, and his servants spread disease and contagion throughout the mortal realm in the name of their festering master.
Yet Nurgle's power embodies, by its very nature, the notion of the eternal cycle of life. Decay is inevitable, but so too is rebirth. The form that rebirth may take is, of course, rarely the ideal and if Nurgle has his way then it will take a form loathsome to Man.
Nurgle's appearance is the most abhorrent of the Chaos gods. His bloated body is home to every form of corruption imaginable, and his skin is covered in weeping sores. Foul Nurglings cavort amongst Nurgle's exposed organs, giggling with insane delight at the latest pestilence inflicted upon Mankind by their master.
Nurgle's followers suffer under the burden of his 'gifts' as much as they benefit from them. These gifts often take the form of repulsive diseases and hideous deformations which, while useful in spreading Nurgle's contagions, may often lead to the death of the carrier. The servants of Nurgle cry out to him to rid them of the gifts they so blatantly invited when they turned to worship him, and he takes great sport in prolonging their suffering through the granting of yet more of his marks.
Nurgle's power within the pantheon of the Chaos gods is inextricably linked to his workings in the mortal realm. When disease and pestilence are rife, then the Lord of Decay's influence is at its height. The very nature of Nurgle's power is such that it will inevitable consume all of its victims and leave few survivors to perpetuate the contagion. At this point the plague god's might wanes and his plans falter. But one thing is certain: the plague is never truly eradicated, and its spores often spread far and wide before exploding into yet another epidemic, when once again Nurgle's legions are swelled with the grotesque living dead.
The only power that can oppose deterioration and decay are those represented by Tzeentch's change and evolution. The two gods are engaged in a galaxy-wide struggle of opposing forces, and whichever wins, the inhabitants of the material realms will be the ones who pay the highest price.
Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay who presides over physical corruption and morbidity. Disease and putrefaction attract him like a fly to a rotted corpse. It is the lives of lepers and the sorrows of the sick that fascinate him most. For his amusement he devises foul contagions which he inflicts upon the world. Many of the most horrible diseases are the creations of Nurgle, including the nauseating Red Pox and, most disgusting of all, Nurgle's Rot.
"In the embrace of great Nurgle, I am no longer afraid, for with His pestilential favour I have become that which I once most feared: Death."
— Kulvain Hestarius of the Death Guard
Nurgle is the great Lord of Decay who presides over physical corruption and morbidity. Disease and putrefaction, the inevitable entropic decline of all things, are the wonders he bestows upon the universe. The god's immense body is bloated with corruption and exudes a sickly, diseased stench. His skin is greenish, leathery and necrotic, its surface pock-marked with boils, running sores and infestations. From his exposed guts spill tiny Daemons, the Nurglings, who sup upon the filthy juices that pour from Nurgle's festering wounds.
It is to free themselves from despair - the mortal dread of illness, starvation and death - that men turn to Grandfather Nurgle. He is a warm, welcoming god, who prides himself on the achievements of his followers, gifting them with hideous diseases even as he protects them from pain and the ravages of death. The fear of death can be found in the hearts of all sentient creatures, and so there is no shortage of mortals willing to sacrifice their immmortal souls in return for the corrupted preservation of their physical bodies.
The Lord of Pestilence, the Great Corruptor, the Master of Plague, the Fly Lord
Nurgle is the Chaos god of decay, disease and entropy. Spreader of disease and Father of Decay, Grandfather Nurgle gathers all in his rotting embrace. His leprous kisses swell in the fullness of time, to glorious pus-flowers, the marks of his favoured children. His laughter echoes across the blasted battlefields of the Imperium with only the bloated corpses of the dead to hear it.
|Colour||Red, Brass||Blue, Yellow||Purple, Gold||Green, Rust|
|Symbols of Vitality|
Symbols of Fertility
|Change of Way|
Architect of Fate
Prince of Pleasure
Lord of Pestilence
|God of Opposition||Slaanesh||Nurgle||Khorne||Tzeentch|
|Emotions||Hate, Rage||Intrigue, Deceit||Desire, Avarice||Mirthful Fatalism|
|Lord of Change|
|Keeper of Secrets|
|Great Unclean One|
While the mortal realm is laid waste by blight and pestilence, the lands of Nurgle thrive on disease and corruption. Tended by the Lord of Decay, this unwholesome realm is home to every pox and affliction imaginable and is foetid with the stench of rot.
In death there is life. Upon the decay of the living thrive untold numbers of bacteria, viruses, insects and other carrion- feeders. All life feeds upon other life to exist, and from every plague grow new generations, stronger and more virile than before. As regeneration comes from decay, so hope springs from despair. The greatest inspiration comes in the darkest moments; in times of crisis are mortals truly tested and driven to excel. This is the creed of Nurgle, the Lord of Decay, Master of Pestilence. Though utterly foul to look upon, and creator of every infection and epidemic to have ever swept the universe, Nurgle is a vibrant god of life and laughter, not a morose purveyor of despair and gloom. As the god, so too his immortal realm. The domain of Nurgle is not a barren wasteland, but a macabre paradise of death and pestilence.
Under a sky thick with buzzing swarms of black, furry flies grows the Garden of Nurgle. Twisted, rotten boughs entangled with grasping vines cover the mouldering ground, beneath an insect- ravaged canopy of leaves. Fungi both plain and spectacular break through the leaf-strewn mulch of the forest floor, puffing out clouds of choking spores. The stems of half-Daemonic plants wave of their own accord, unstirred by the still, pungent air. Bright sprays of red, blue, yellow and purple puncture the gloom; havens of cheeriness in a dismal woodscape. Burrowing and scuttling beetles of all kinds, with brightly-patterned carapaces and shining wings, flit along the banks of sluggish, muddy rivers. Reeds rattle, whispering the names of the poxes inflicted upon the worlds of mortals by Great Nurgle; or lamenting those that have died from the fatal caress of their creator.
Jutting from amidst this primordial mire is Nurgle's manse. Decrepit and ancient, yet eternally strong at its foundations, the mansion is an eclectic structure of rotted timbers and broken walls, overgrown with crawling poison ivy and thick mosses. Cracked windows and crumbling stone compete with verdigris-coated bronze, rusted ironworks and lichen-covered cornices to outdo each other with their corrupted charm.
Within these tumbling walls, Nurgle toils. His gigantic body is bloated with corruption and exudes an overpowering stench. His skin is greenish, leathery and necrotic, its surface abundant with running sores, swelling boils and fruitful infestation. Nurgle's gurgling and pulsating organs are rank with the excrement of decay, spilling through his ruptured skin to hang like obscene fruit around his girth. From these organs burst swarms of tiny Nurglings that chew on Grandfather Nurgle's rotting bowels and suck upon his bountiful, nauseous juices.
Beneath mildewed and sagging beams, the great god works for eternity at a rusted cauldron, a receptacle vasy enough to contain all the oceans of all the worlds of the galaxy. Chuckling and murmuring to himself, Nurgle labours to create contagion and pestilence - the most perfect, unfettered forms of life. With every stir of Nurgle's maggot-ridden ladle, a dozen fresh diseases flourish and are scattered through the universes to bring low civilisations and destroy the populations of worlds. From time to time Nurgle ceases his stirring, and reaches down with a clawed hand to scoop a portion of the ghastly mixture into his cavernous mouth to taste the fruits of his labour.
Dwarfed by their mighty lord, a host of Plaguebearers are gathered about Nurgle. Each chants sonorously: keeping count of the diseases created; of the Nurglings that have hatched; of the souls claimed by the Lord of Decay's putrid blessings. This hum drowns out the creaking of the rotten floor and the scrape of ladle on cauldron, so eternal in its monotony that to hear it is to invite madness.
When Nurgle's power waxes, his garden blooms with death's heads and filth, encroaching upon the lands of the other gods. War follows as Nurgle's adversaries fight back and the Plaguebearers take up arms to defend the morbid forest. From such war springs the richness of life and death, of triumph over adversity. Though Nurgle's realm will eventually recede again, it will have fed deeply on the immaterial bodies of those who have perished, and will lie in gestate peace for another eternity until it is ready to swell once more.
The Eldar believe that their gods are dead, destroyed by Slaanesh when the Dark Prince awoke. Yet there is one myth upon a single craftworld that tells of how the maiden goddess Isha was not slain by the Prince of Pleasure. Instead, when Slaanesh claimed Isha as his own, Nurgle heard her cries for help and her anguish touched his leprous heart.
Isha was a goddess of fertility and healing, the embodiment of life, and mighty Nurgle wished for her to become his companion. Nurgle waged a long war against Slaanesh to wrest Isha from the Dark Prince's grasp and was eventually victorious.
Yet the adoration of a Chaos God is a strange thing, for Nurgle shows his affection in cruel ways. Nurgle keeps Isha within a rusted cage in the corner of his cauldron chamber. When the Plague God creates a particularly pleasing brew, he forces Isha to imbibe the putrid mixture, watching with building excitement for the symptoms of his latest contagion.
Though Isha can cure herself of the disease's ravages, the speed with which she is freed from its grip allows the Plaguelord to evaluate his creation's virulence. If Nurgle is pleased, he returns to his cauldron and empties its contents into a bottomless drain, the noxious liquid falling as rain upon one of the mortal worlds. If the concoction does not meet with Nurgle's approval, he gulps down the contents of the cauldron, vomits it back into the pot, and starts afresh. While the Plaguefather is busy at his cauldron, Isha whispers to mortals, seeking to tell them the cures for the poxes she has tasted.
The Lord of Pestilence, the Great Corruptor, the Master of Plague, the Fly Lord
Nurgle is the Chaos god of decay, disease, and entropy. Spreader of disease and Father of Decay, Grandfather Nurgle gathers all in his rotting embrace. His leprous kisses swell in the fullness of time to become glorious pus-flowers, the marks of his favoured children. His raddled laughter echoes across the blasted battlefields of the Imperium with only the bloated corpses of the dead to hear it.
"Specimen 38: Lung expulsion of viscous mass. Risk of Contamination: Majoris. Schedule for Termination.
Specimen 39: In excellent health. Risk of Contamination: Negligible. Schedule for Termination.
Specimen 40: Deceased. Risk of Contamination: Majoris. Schedule for Immolation."
— The log of Sister Ignitia, location classified
The Great Lord of Entropy, Nurgle is a lord of death in his own fashion. Disease, putrification, decay, and physical corruption are his domain. His body is bloated and sickly, with leaking pus and, rivulets of necrotic green fluid. His leathery skin is cracked with sores, and his intestines are exposed and constantly spilling forth Nurglings.
Infestation cults and the sickly often call upon Nurgle for aid in spreading their plagues. The lives of the Imperium's citizens are threatened by contagion spread throughout a hive or planet, a foe most weapons of war are unprepared to battle. The Gifts of Nurgle can make a servant feel welcome and protected. Warm and caring, he protects his children from death by disease, but not its symptoms, in which they learn to revel.
His Daemons, the Plaguebearers, bring new and horrific contagions to cultists to spread among humanity so they can perfect each disease and claim souls for their lord. Plague Zombie outbreaks or Warp incursions often occur if an Infestation cult is allowed to prosper.
The Rogue Trader vessel Glorious Repose was lost in the Warp after it left Landunder en route to Ganf Magna in 810.M38. It arrived three years ago, emerging from Warp on a dangerous collision course with the planet. With the Imperial Navy weeks away, Planetary Defence Force Captain Tilanders boarded the vessel with fifty of his veteran Guardsman. The ship's course was diverted, but upon their return to Ganf Magna, Tilanders demanded that he and his men be placed in isolation, where they remain to this day. Many have died of a horrible contagion seemingly contracted without any human contact. Each victim suffers from different symptoms, and the entire company currently awaits Inquisitorial investigation and execution.
Daemons of Nurgle gain the following when created:
Characteristics: Increase the Daemon's Toughness by +20 and Wounds by +10. Raise the Toughness of a Greater Daemon to a minimum of 75.
Talents: All Daemons of Nurgle gain the Iron Jaw Talent.
Traits: Heralds and Greater Daemons of Nurgle gain Unnatural Toughness (×2).
Weapons: Lesser Daemons and Heralds of Nurgle often wield swords, while Greater Daemons of Nurgle sometimes fight with large maces.
Manifestations: Daemons of Nurgle are putrescent, rotting horrors with plagued, greenish flesh. Lesser Daemons and Heralds of Nurgle are often cyclopean, one-horned, and surrounded by flies. Greater Daemons of Nurgle are grotesquely corpulent, and occasionally sport strange antlers growing out of their heads. Nurgle favours rot, pus, and pestilence in his minions, and their skin is usually covered in warts, buboes, and boils. It is not uncommon for a Daemon of Nurgle to have its intestines hanging out of its belly and dragging on the ground.
|1-25||Plaguesword: This servant of the Plaguefather wields a blade that weeps virulent ichor and drips with disease. The Daemon carries a Plaguesword (see page 102).|
|26-35||Pus-Filled Buboes: The Daemon's skin is covered with quivering, bacteria-laden pockets of flesh just aching to burst. Whenever the Daemon is damaged by a melee attack, the attacking character must make a Hard (-20) Agility Test or Hard (-20) Toughness Test (player's choice) to get out of the way of the spray of pus that comes flying from the wound. If the Agility Test is failed, the character takes 1d10 damage that bypasses any armour that is not environmentally sealed.|
|36-45||Distended Entrails: The Daemon's own guts hang from his midsection, swinging about when he laughs or moves. The Daemon adds 1 to its Fear Rating (to a maximum of 4). In addition, it reduces the effective total of any Critical Damage it suffers to its body by its Toughness Bonus (to a minimum of 0).|
|46-60||Vomitous Corruption: The Daemon vomits forth a potent, virulent sickness. The Daemon makes a Ballistic Skill Test as a Half Action, which the target can attempt to dodge but cannot parry. If successful the Daemon does 1d10+TB energy damage to the target. This damage bypasses any armour not environmentally sealed, and in lieu of critical damage does 3d10 Toughness damage.|
|61-80||Plague Carrier: This Daemon is a walking epidemic. Any attacks made with the Daemon's natural weapons (or with the Daemon's Plaguesword, if it has one) have a chance to transmit a plague or infection. If a character is damaged with one of these attacks have him make a Difficult (-10) Toughness Test. If the character fails this Test he contracts a terrible Disease (see page 99) which immediately progresses to Stage One.|
|81-00||Fly Swarm: A swarm of flies surrounds the Daemon, buzzing and biting at any foe that gets too close. All characters in melee or point blank range with the Daemon take a -10 to all actions.|
|1-22||Harbinger of the Fly Lord: All Daemons of Nurgle who can see the Herald gain the True Grit Talent and the Regeneration (3) trait, if they do not already have them. This daemon is often accompanied by 2d10 Lesser Daemons of Nurgle.|
|23-44||Beast Keeper: The Daemon is accompanied by 1d5 Beasts of Nurgle and can command them with a Free Action. The Beasts love the Herald and will refuse to move out of sight of the Herald.|
|45-66||Palanquin-Carried: The daemon spreads plague and pestilence atop a palanquin made of rotting boards carried by dozens of Nurglings (see page 98). Nurglings spill forth from the Palanquin and the Herald of Nurgle may, as a Free Action, order the Nurglings to attack. The Nurglings will hurl their own offal at everything nearby. This is treated as an Area Effect attack with a range of 10 metres. Those caught in the area may choose to use their Toughness to avoid damage instead of Agility. This attack deals 1d10 Toxic damage that bypasses armour that is not environmentally sealed.|
|67-00||Greater Gift: Roll for, or choose, a trait from Table 4-13: Greater Gifts of Nurgle.|
|1-12||Cloud of Flies: The Daemon is rurrounded by a huge cloud of buzzing insects. Characters must re-roll successful melee attacks made against this Daemon.|
|13-25||Grandfather's Laughter: The Daemon bellows with a rumbling, hideous, gurgling laughter that frays the very edges of the mortal mind. Any mortal who can hear it must make a Difficult (-10) Willpower Test on the Daemon's turn each round or gain 1d5 Insanity Points.|
|26-38||Nurgle's Rot: The claws and teeth of this Daemon contain Nurgle's most devastating pestilences. Any character damaged by the Daemon's natural weaponry must succeed at a Hard (-20) Toughness Test or contract a random disease (see page 99) with a +1 Virulence Rating.|
|39-51||Nurgling Host: The Daemon has a mass of cruel and disgusting minor daemons living inside of it. On the first round of combat, at the beginning of the daemon's turn, 1d5 Nurglings pour out of the daemon's swollen and distended belly (see Nurglings, page 98). Each round of combat thereafter roll 1d10: 1-6 nothing happens, 7-8 another Nurgling pops out, 9-10 1d5 more Nurglings burst out of the daemon.|
|52-64||Plaguefather's Persistence: No matter how many times the Daemon's guts spill out there always seems to be more. The Daemon gains Regeneration 10.|
|65-77||Tainted Trail: Any place the Greater Daemon passes over becomes a blasted wasteland of disgusting foulness. Any character standing on, or moving over, ground so polluted must make a Challenging (+0) Toughness Test or take 1d10 damage (this damage bypasses armour that is not environmentally sealed).|
|78-90||Nurgle's Resilience: Increase the Daemon's Unnatural Toughness trait by one.|
|91-00||Sorcerer: This Greater Daemon knows mystical secrets of the Old Father. It gains a Psy Rating of 6 and may choose a Psychic Discipline to have mastered and knows all Psychic Powers of that Discipline.|
"Indeed the very process of construction and creation foreshadows destruction and decay. The palace of today is tomorrow's ruin, the maiden of the morning is the crone of the night, and the hope of a moment is but the foundation stone of everlasting regret."
— The Lost and the Damned
One of the four great Chaos powers is Nurgle. He is most commonly called the Lord of Decay but he is known many names; the Fly Lord, the Great Corruptor, the Master of Pestilence. The power of Nurgle is embodied in entropy, morbidity, disease and physical corruption. Of the four great powers Nurgle is said to be the one most involved with the plight of mortals. Through the gifts of raging fevers and shaking chills Nurgle's hand is upon them from cradle to grave.
Few escape the touch of Nurgle in their lives. He is sometimes called the Lord of All because all things, no matter how strong and secure, fall to physical corruption in the end.
Every Chaos power embodies the hopes, fears and other strong emotions generated by mortal beings. In the case of Nurgle, their fear of death and disease is the source of his greatest power. The mortal's unconscious response to that fear - the desperation to cling to life no matter what the cost - gives Nurgle an opening into their souls. The whispered prayer of a parent over a fever-struck child, the anguished pleas of the dying man for one more day of life; these are meat and drink to Nurgle.
Nurgle is typically depicted as an immense, bloated humanoid, his body swollen with putrefaction. His skin is shown as leathery and necrotic, his surface pocked with running sores, swelling buboes and oozing wounds. Internal organs bulging with decay spill through splits in the ruptured skin to hang like bunches of scrofulous grapes around his vast girth. Nurgle is often illustrated with hordes of tiny daemons bursting forth from its pustules and suckling upon foulness.
The deranged worshippers of the Lord of Pestilence say that he concocts diverse contagions to inflict on the material universe for his amusement, and many of the most infectious and horrible diseases are Nurgle's proudest creations. It is their belief that those who die caught in the grip of one of Nurgle's terrible poxes are swept directly to his realm.
Those that sing the praises of Nurgle loud enough are sometimes spared so that they can spread his blessings further, for the church of the Fly Lord is always open to all. Nurgle has many supplicants but there are few with the fortitude to declare themselves as his champions. The few that can survive Great Corruptor's manifold blessings exhibit a feverish, morbid energy and a preternatural resistance to physical damage.
The power of Nurgle waxes and wanes as his pandemics sweep across the galaxy. When untold billions fall prey to the newest plagues his strength can overshadow that of any of the other Chaos powers for a period. At other times the power of Nurgle withers away to lie quiescent until circumstances are ripe for it to erupt forth once more.
Those that fashion themselves Champions of Nurgle represent a dire threat to densely populated worlds, where close-packed populations are vulnerable to a single contagion. Ships in the void are particularly vulnerable to disease and many dying crews have beseeched the Lord of Decay for his intercession. Such was the fate of the Death Guard Legion when it became marooned in the warp on the long journey to Earth during the Horus Heresy.
While they lay becalmed in the Immaterium, a mysterious contagion spread from one to another of the Death Guard's ships until the entire fleet was infected. Even the reinforced physiology of the Space Marines could not fight off the dire plague as it bloated the guts, distended the flesh and rotted its victims from the inside. It's said that when even the Legion's Primarch, Mortarion, fell victim to the plague he cried out to the Powers of Chaos in his delirium. His desperation to save himself and his Legion called forth Nurgle, and Mortarion became his Champion. Thus, the Death Guard Legion has enjoyed the favour of Nurgle for the last ten thousand years.
The daemons of Nurgle are truly putrid in their appearance and sickening to look upon. Their flesh pulses with the fever-heat of corruption, their innards push through lesions in their putrid skin and their bodies ooze with sticky slime. In contrast to their hideous appearance, Nurgle's daemons are cheerful, energetic beings that show a disturbingly friendly demeanour. They are jovial in their work and show great pride in their accomplishments, interpreting the groans of the afflicted as expressions of gratitude justly won by their efforts.
The most powerful daemons of Nurgle are called Great Unclean Ones. Great Unclean Ones are facsimiles of the god himself both physically and in spirit. Every Great Unclean One is also Nurgle himself in some sense, and their followers often refer to them as "Papa" or "Father Nurgle". Great Unclean Ones are seldom deathlike or morbid in character; in fact, they are usually motivated by the same trivial enthusiasms that drive the living. They are gregarious and even sentimental in their nature with a remarkable fondness for their followers. They often refer to their followers as their "Children" and take great pride in their appearance and oddly endearing behaviour.
The common daemons of Nurgle are known as Plaguebearers. These have a more approximately humanoid shape and lurch along on stick-thin limbs. Plaguebearers have single eye and a single horn, and chant in continuous monotone. They are also called the "Tallymen of Nurgle", as it is said that they constantly strive to enumerate the endlessly changing number of plagues and poxes in the universe. Despite their decrepit appearance Plaguebearers are extremely dangerous in battle. A single scratch from their rusted swords is sufficient to bestow a plague that sends its host to Nurgle's realm without delay.
The lowliest servants of Nurgle are the Nurglings, tiny daemons that look like miniature representations of Nurgle himself. They are mischievous, agile and constantly active slinking in the shadows of his champions or gathering in squealing hordes around Great Unclean Ones. Swarms of Nurglings overwhelm their enemies through sheer weight in numbers, using their scrabbling, diseased claws to pull down larger opponents so that they can gnaw at them with filth-caked fangs.
Nurgle is the age-old enemy of the Chaos Power Tzeentch, the Lord of Change. Their energies come from diametrically opposing beliefs: Tzeentch's power derives from hope and changing fortune while Nurgle's comes from defiance born out of despair and hopelessness. The followers of Nurgle often pit themselves against those of Tzeentch in complex political intrigues in the mortal realm, forever attempting to mire his schemes for change in dull minded conservatism and parochial self-interest. Their corrupting influence is often successful in thwarting the Architect of Fate and they erode at his accomplishments constantly, safe in the knowledge that whatever survives the collapse into entropy becomes their inheritance.
I, Magir Linschoten, am recently arrived to the port moon of Aog, to fill the post of chief chirurgeon in the port's largest mercy-house, the Alburae.
On Aog, while the priestly classes deal with matters spiritual, the Qaidyas look to the ailments of the body. The Qaidyas, of course, practice Eyuridea and as with Eyuridic physicians elsewhere they had reached their heyday centuries before my arrival. Inbreeding, blind and unquestioning obedience to ancient texts and a failure to innovate have gradually diminished their capabilities. They are still held in great regard for all that, and many local customs honour them. Not least of these is their entitlement to wear a special broad-brimmed hat hung with chimes that is forbidden to all others. I have determined to win myself a Qaidya's hat to prove my ability to the natives.
The sicknesses and diseases of Aog that are most common come with the change of the seasons and the weather. There is a sickness called mordexijn that steals upon the men it weakens, making them cast out all that is inside their bodies and oft times their lives as well. The bloody flux is very common and as dangerous as the plague. They have many continual fevers that are burning agues that consume men such that within four or five days they are whole or dead. This sickness is very common and dangerous, but the natives do cure it with herbs and ointments. I have petitioned the elder Qaidya to teach me this recipe, but the Qaidites are as jealous of their recipes as they are of their newborn sons.
The Alburae is filled to bursting point. They lie in the corridors and between the bunks in the ward. The street outside is filled with those too poor to gain admittance. A hot fever-wind has blown from the hills for weeks without surcease. Men fall in the streets and are dead before they can crawl to their homes. The sweet scent of putrefaction hangs over everything, a thick and evil cloud that saps the will and dulls the mind. While the Qaidyas send up prayers with their drums, I have tried every method of treatment known to me; I have dispensed every medicine and tincture I have mixed since my days of apprenticeship. All of it avails me naught. Day by day the corpse-piles grow higher.
Uzao, the master of Qaidyas came to the Alburae this morn. He is a wizened old creature with a hat so broad that his attendants bore its chiming brim aloft on poles. He laughed aloud at our efforts and told me the Lord of Flies would show mercy only when his tally was fully made. In desperation I beseeched him for his aid and a clear understanding of the all-destroying ague no matter the cost. I feel my humility and my heartfelt plea must have moved him for he has promised to conduct me to his ceremonies and show to me his secret power.
A miracle! The terrible plague is broken, ebbing away as if it were the Great Lake at low tide. Men on the brink of death awaken as if from a fevered dream, stand and walk from the Alburae showing no hint of sickness. Uzao's wisdom astounds me, his view of the body not in anatomical terms but in aetheric ones revealing the folly of my prior thinking. A man must be treated whole, in body and spirit both, to pave the way for his survival. The unction that Uzao has taught me, a simple blessing of his primitive gods, wields greater curative powers than anything I have witnessed previously. I have sworn not to speak of the sights I saw so I restrain myself only to this - I have come to an apotheosis of mind and spirit.
I have found records that Dr. Linschoten travelled widely on Aog before his eventual death. In his travels he spread rots and agues without number through the pricking of patients with infected instruments and the dispensing of contaminated potions. His notions of treatment through exposure exceeded sanity to the point where he cultivated the diseases of those in his charge as a farmer tends his crops, more solicitous of the distempers themselves than the mortal flesh that bore them.
— Interrogator Jorgan Malpire, during his investigations of the Aog Port-Moon
Yet another way to describe Tzeentch is in contrast to Nurgle in the pantheon of the Gods of Chaos. Typically, the Changer of Ways stands in opposition to the Lord of Pestilence, just as Khorne, the god of blood and skulls, opposes Slaanesh, the prince of decadence and depravity. Where Nurgle represents Chaos as entropy, Tzeentch represents Chaos as energy. Where Nurgle promotes decay and atrophy, Tzeentch promotes potential and progress. Where Nurgle fosters deterioration and ruin, Tzeentch fosters germination and development. To many students of the Dark Powers, the (however speculative) ideological descriptions of the Changer of Ways make better sense when juxtaposed against those of Nurgle, Tzeentch's seeming antithesis amongst the Ruinous Powers.
Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay and the Master of Plague and Pestilence. All things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to eventual corruption. Even the process of creation is but the precursor to destruction and decay. The bastion of today is tomorrow's ruin, the maiden of the morning is the crone of the night, and the hope of a moment is but the foundation of regret.
Though he is the creator of every infection and epidemic to have ever swept the universe, Nurgle is not a morose purveyor of despair and gloom, but a vibrant god of life and laughter. In death, there is life. Upon the decay of the living untold numbers of bacteria, viruses, insects and other carrion-feeders thrive. All life feeds upon other life to exist, and from every plague grows new generations, stronger and more virile than those before. Regeneration comes from decay, just as hope springs from despair. The greatest inspiration comes in the darkest moments; in times of crisis, mortals are truly tested and driven to excel.
To understand what might otherwise seem contradictory or even perverse in nature, one must first comprehend that which Nurgle embodies. On the one hand, he is the Lord of Decay, whose body is wracked with disease; on the other, he is full of unexpected energy and a desire to organise and enlighten. The citizens of the Imperium know full well that their lives will one day end and that many of their number will live with disease or other torments in the meantime, yet they drive this knowledge deep into the corners of their minds and bury it with dreams and ceaseless activity. Nurgle is the embodiment of that knowledge and the unconscious response to it. He is the hidden fear of disease and decay, the gnawing truth of mortality and the power of defiance that it generates.
Nurgle himself takes the form of a titanic flesh-hulk riddled with decay and pestilence. His gigantic carcass is bloated with corruption and exudes an overpowering stench that gnaws the mind. His skin is greenish, leathery and necrotic, its surface abundant with running sores, swelling boils and fruitful infestation. Nurgle's gurgling and pulsating organs are rank with the excrement of decay, spilling and spurting through his ruptured skin to hang like obscene fruit around his girth. From these organs burst swarms of tiny Nurglings that chew on Grandfather Nurgle's rotting intestines and suck upon his bountiful, noxious juices.
Every single human being in the galaxy has been touched by Nurgle's foetid hand at some point. Countless trillions are host to his malignant, invisible creations, which corrupt their physical forms and sow despair in their minds. Interplanetary traffic ensures that contagious diseases are carried from world to world by the ignorant, the wilful and the strong. As Nurgle's gifts multiply into full-blown pandemics, his power reaches a peak. Whole systems - even whole sectors - are quarantined as plague runs rife across the stars. Proud civilisations wither away even as Grandfather Nurgle conjures obscene new life from their remains. Wherever there are plague pits and mass graves, the rotting splendour of Nurgle shines through.
Despite his consistent generosity, only an enlightened few truly embrace Nurgle's greatness. Yet his worshippers exist in numbers enough to ensure his Daemon servants access the material dimension wherever plague abounds. This is just as well, for of all the Chaos Gods, it is Nurgle who most appreciates the personal touch.
The domain of Nurgle is not a barren wasteland, but a macabre paradise, a near-infinite jungle of death and pestilence. Tended by the Lord of Decay, this unwholesome realm is home to every pox and affliction imaginable. Twisted, rotten boughs entangled with grasping vines cover the mouldering ground, entwining like broken fingers. Fungi, both plain and spectacular, break through the squelching mulch of the forest floor, puffing out clouds of choking spores. The stems of half-daemonic plants wave of their own accord, unstirred by the insect-choked air. Their colours puncture the gloom; havens of cheeriness in a dismal woodland. Human-featured beetles flit along the banks of sluggish, muddy rivers. Reeds rattle, whispering the names of the poxes inflicted upon the worlds of mortals by Great Nurgle or lamenting those that have died from the caress of their creator.
Jutting from amidst this primordial mire is Nurgle's manse. Decrepit and ancient, yet eternally strong at its foundations, the mansion is an eclectic structure of rotted timbers and broken walls, overgrown with crawling poison ivy and thick mosses. Cracked windows and crumbling stone compete with verdigris-coated bronze, rusted ironwork and lichen-covered cornices to outdo each other with their corrupted charm.
Within these tumbling walls, Nurgle toils. Beneath mildewed and sagging beams, the great god works for eternity at a rusted cauldron, a receptacle vast enough to contain all the oceans of all the worlds. Chuckling and murmuring to himself, Nurgle labours to create contagion and pestilence - the most sublime and unfettered forms of life. With every stir of Nurgle's maggot-ridden ladle, a dozen fresh diseases flourish and are scattered through the stars. From time to time, Nurgle reaches down with a clawed hand to scoop a portion of the ghastly mixture into his cavernous mouth, tasting the fruits of his labour. With each passing day, he comes closer to brewing his perfect disease, a spiritual plague that will spread across the extent of the universe and see all living things gathered unto his rotting embrace.
Dwarfed by their mighty lord, a host of Plaguebearers are gathered about Nurgle. Each chants sonorously, keeping count of the diseases created, the mischievous Nurglings that have hatched, and the souls claimed by the Lord of Decay's putrid blessings. This hum drowns out the creaking of the rotten floor and the scrape of ladle on cauldron, so eternal in its monotony that to hear it is to invite madness.
When Nurgle's diseases wax strong in the mortal realm, his garden blooms with death's heads and fresh filth, encroaching upon the lands of the other Chaos Gods. War follows, as Nurgle's adversaries fight back and the Plaguebearers take up arms to defend the morbid forest. From such war springs more of the richness of life and death, of triumph over adversity. Though Nurgle's realm will eventually recede again, it will have fed deeply on the fallen, and will lie in gestate peace until it is ready to swell throughout time and space once more.
Very few mortal eyes have beheld the Garden of Nurgle. Its swamplands constantly wheeze a fog of supernatural diseases, and living beings cannot endure so much as a single breath of its repugnance. Only Nurgle himself can spare visitors from his garden's toxic affections; when he is expecting company, he will open a path through the gurgling fungus-fronds with a single magnanimous gesture.
Trespassers are viewed poorly in Nurgle's domain, as the Seers of Lugganath found to their cost. The Eldar of that far-flung craftworld have long told the story of the Caged Maiden, wherein Isha, the goddess of fertility and healing, is imprisoned in Nurgle's mansion at the mercy of her grotesque admirer. The Eldar believe their legends to be absolute truth and even aspire to one day free their goddess from Nurgle's unctuous grasp. So it was that when Lugganath was ravaged by the Brittle Coma, an army of its most gifted psykers cast their minds into the realm of Nurgle in pursuit of Isha's myth, hoping to find their lost goddess and put a halt to their craftworld's deadly malaise. They knew that they would almost certainly die in the attempt, but believed that their souls would ultimately be drawn back into the glittering spirit stones of their comatose bodies. Once safe in their crystal afterlife, they could impart Isha's message to the Spiritseers and lift Nurgle's curse from their homes.
At first, their astrally projected forms appeared to be able to pass through the grasping foliage of Nurgle's garden with ease. Their ghosthelms kept them as insubstantial as spirits and their rune-shielded minds cut through the dismal vegetation, for they were sharper than any corporeal blade. The rot-flies of that realm buzzed loud in alarm, however, and whispered of the intruders into Nurgle's ear. Just as the Seers of Lugganath sighted Grandfather Nurgle's manse in the distance, a great host of Plaguebearers rose up from the mud and began to chant in a droning monotone as they came forward. The Seers channelled their psychic energy into great blasts of cleansing blue fire, boiling away huge chunks of Nurgle's army and darting out of the clumsy reach of their foes, but ever more Plaguebearers emerged from the slurry to block their path.
The battle raged for days, and swathes of Nurgle's garden were blasted to ruin in the process. However, in the material dimension, the physical forms of the trespassing Seers began to convulse and shake, succumbing to the very plague they hoped to overcome. Slowly, as their bodies shrivelled and their spirit stones turned to rotting mulch, the souls of the Seers that were trapped in Nurgle's realm began to pass fully into the Immaterium. The soupy air of the garden seeped into their lungs, worm-riddled mud spattered up their legs, and white-bodied daemonflies clambered into their mouths. Claimed at last, the Seers' feet took root as their faces hardened into bark. Their arms split and twisted into gnarled branches, each finger hung with ripening Nurgling-fruit. The Seers of Lugganath remain there still, a copse of wailing trees that brighten Nurgle's leisurely walks and strike a note of despair into the heart of Isha, his immortal captive.
Such is the fate of those who enter uninvited into the heartlands of Nurgle, for even the generosity of Grandfather Plague has its limits.
There exists a hierarchy of sorts within the ranks of the Ruinous Powers, though it ebbs and flows according to the vagaries of the Great Game. Currently, Khorne is held as the mightiest of all, for the practice of murder and blood sacrifice stretches to the dark beginnings of the universe. Though Khorne sees the use of sorcery as the refuge of cowards, his closest rival, Tzeentch, thrives on the raw stuff of Chaos and is hence counted second in influence. Where Tzeentch would see hopes thrive and fortunes change, the Father of Plagues works towards the defiance born of stagnation, despair and hopelessness. In times of galactic pandemic, Nurgle's power can eclipse even that of his brothers in darkness. Last in the pantheon is Slaanesh, whose earthly luxuries and sensual lusts defy Khorne's desire for indiscriminate slaughter. Yet the Dark Prince knows well how to play on the obsessions of his rivals. Khorne's single-minded bloodlust, Nurgle's quest to infect every living thing, and Tzeentch's compulsion to dabble in the fates of mortals - all are obsessions which the Lord of Excess can turn to his will with a whispered promise.
"Rejoice, children! Your Father brings you hope in your darkest hour. Let those who would accept his gifts come forth and receive the blessings of the Lord of Decay. Cast away your crutches and doubts. Put aside beliefs in a false master who fills your hearts with lies, sorrow, and regrets. Embrace instead the glorious gifts of rot and decay. Revel in the beauty of putrescence and be reborn a living symbol of perseverance."
— The Daemon Prince Gal'furth, addressing the diseased inhabitants of the conquered city of Kulis VII
In every corner of a cold and uncaring galaxy, billions die each day. Wars consume entire systems, drowning civilisations in the blood of their own people. Conceit and avarice drain populations of their riches and their futures for the benefit of a few. Broken promises, deceit, and betrayal topple regimes, sacrificing the lives of those who served them so that the twisted plans of new rulers can come to fruition. In the wake of such tragedies, suffering, and misery, pain and disease touch the minds and bodies of the survivors and cause them to despair. These are the truths of existence in the mortal realm, and the breath that speaks these truths is the same breath that gives life to the malevolent inhabitants of another domain - the Realm of Chaos.
Of all the malign influences foisted upon the mortal realm, only one can be said to genuinely carry with it that singular commodity unlike any other in a bleak and forlorn existence - hope. Only the gifts of Nurgle, the Plaguefather, offer their recipients the chance to become greater in the face of unavoidable diminishment. Through Nurgle and his rancid visitations, a soul can find renewed purpose and the will to raise its face to the heavens, stare back into the void of dissolution and reclaim a life worth living. Endings are new beginnings, and Nurgle offers both in abundance.
Final Entry, Journal of Confessor Alehir Ghent
There, carved into the wood of the pew, in the chapel of the Emperor's creed it was. The mark. Three endless circles. Death. Decay. Rebirth. Horrid, inescapable, eternal. The wretched truth of existence laid bare in three small circles, cut into rotting wood with rusted nail.
Of the acolytes who saw it, only I persist still. The others struggled against the spreading rot, and they succumbed. Oh, our master ordered the church burned, the city cleansed, the world quarantined, but it was far too late. The rot had taken hold, and now all that remained was to accept it. Only I saw that reality, that inevitability. The others died, choked by flies, their flesh sloughing from their bodies, their bones made the meal of worms.
But I persisted. And then I saw the path. The symbol on that now-dead world showed me. To the Vortex it beckons...
"Entropy is all-consuming, fed by all struggles against it. Thus, even to hope is to despair. So despair, and in your desperation, find purpose."
— Zlans the Wracked, Speaker of Rot
There is nothing in all of creation that does not decay. No civilisation forever endures the machinations of its rivals. No king survives the plotting of his enemies. No life avoids decay. Not even the False Emperor, with all his deluded sacrificial supplicants and thousands of attending Tech-Priests, will elude the ravages of time and his eventual demise. The question is what happens when the end comes. Nurgle is the answer to that question.
Each inevitable ending brings with it an equally certain start to something new. When a Catachan Spiker traps and consumes a careless Guardsman, the life of the soldier ends and a new Spiker grows. Rotted flesh that sloughs from the arm of a diseased underhive ganger is left in the sewers to feed the plague-rats that scrape out a miserable existence in those dark, maggot-filled tunnels. Even a Rogue Trader whose contract is terminated must seek out new avenues for commerce. There is no ending that does not result in the hope of renewal.
It is because of this inescapable fact of life that Nurgle is known to many as the Lord of All, for there is nothing that transpires anywhere that does not serve his ends. Truly there is no being, no action or outcome that does not further Nurgle's aims. In truth, Nurgle could simply sit back and wait for the universe to unfold according to his design. He is not content, however, to wait. He has too much energy, too much enthusiasm for his work to just sit idly by. From deep within his manse he brews contagion, both physical plagues and virulent ideas, that he and his followers then unleash upon the mortal realm. He welcomes the resistance of those who attempt to deny him, for each time they erect defences against his advances, he learns new ways to circumvent the opposition. Each cure breeds a newer, more powerful disease. Every victory for his enemies is pyrrhic, coming at a cost so great that it leaves the defenders open to the tender predations of Nurgle's ever-evolving poxes. This is the nature of Nurgle. Resistance is self-defeating. Change is a delay, nothing more. Running and denial only buy time at a cost of suffering, and time has no meaning in the Realm of Chaos.
Records of the many races of the galaxy often say that Nurgle corrupts, that he brings ruination to all. To a small extent, they are correct, but their evaluation is narrow in scope and fails to grasp the greater truth. The more primitive races have a much better understanding of the undeniable nature of the Master of Certitude. Life is struggle and erosion. To face the dawn is to await the dusk and, in turn, to endure the night. On a grander scale, if a being had the luxury of observing the rise and fall of empires, of seeing the birth of suns and their eventual collapse into swirling masses of cosmic destruction, the observer would surely recognise the rightful place of Nurgle as the Shepherd of Destiny.
It is only Nurgle's fondness for rot, for disease and decay, that prevents more from accepting his truth. It can be difficult for a mortal to accept that the rotting of a limb or the expulsion of his entrails is a blessing. Yet it is so. Even the decrepit Emperor of Man, ensconced in his Golden Throne, sits as a testament to Nurgle's greatness. Each day a thousand souls give their fleshy bodies and immortal souls to this false idol in a vain attempt to preserve his rotting presence. It is a losing battle, but the ammunition spent in the conflict, the human bodies sent to their wasted doom, does indeed serve a purpose - Nurgle's purpose. Each mortal that falls begets new life and new hope. This is the trade in which Nurgle traffics. Flesh is the coin of his realm, and hopes are the interest he pays on the investments made. Truly, Nurgle embodies the nature of all things, and thus earns his honorific as the Lord of All.
Life within the Screaming Vortex, or for that matter anywhere else in the unfeeling galaxy, is harsh, miserable, and full of pain and suffering. Service to an uncaring God-Emperor or an eldritch and absent cosmic deity is ultimately empty and devoid of meaning. Men live and die, and for what? For others to stand on their graves and proselytise? Where is the reward in that? For those who accept the boundless gifts of the Father of Plagues, everlasting hope is the ultimate reward.
Decay is unavoidable. Boltguns rust, the shells they fire are spent, and the fingers that pull their triggers wear down with the passing of time and repeated action. Over the course of their lives, mortals sustain injuries, become infected, sicken and succumb to their wounds or, more simply, to age. It is impossible to escape deterioration, and yet people try. The struggle to forestall decay moves people to action. It motivates them to greatness. It gives them hope that better times lie ahead; endless possibilities in a universe that seemingly knows only certain crushing doom. It is the Plague Lord that brings light to the darkness. It is Nurgle that gives weak mortals the strength to resist the lies of the Ecclesiarchy and others. It is the Embracing Grandfather who encourages his followers to defy the doom of mortal corruption, and instead use it as a source of strength and inspiration.
In the market squares of backward planets and in the drone-filled cathedrals of the chapters of the Adeptus Ministorum, preachers spew their lies upon an unsuspecting and dim-witted flock. They warn against corruption of the soul and filth of the spirit. They admonish their listeners that to turn from their faith is to join the ranks of the lost and the damned. Their words cannot encompass the horror of the truth.
All Chaos Gods have a dual nature, but Nurgle, more so than any of the other Ruinous Powers, understands that the supposedly separate elements of his essence actually work together in a self-sustaining cycle rather than standing apart from one another as different explanations of the same thing. Khorne, for instance, is a god of bloodshed and killing - of utter carnage - and also one of martial pride and a sense of accomplishment or betterment. These two halves can be seen as two sides of the same coin, but the coin must be flipped to view and appreciate its obverse. But this coin is illusory; there is no divide between its two faces, no beginning and no end. The coin is nought but a feeble mortal metaphor for the truth of Nurgle's influence. On one "side" there is decay, death, and disease. What would be on the other side of this coin is in fact part and parcel of the first side. Hope, rebirth, resistance, and growth all arise directly from facing death and decay. The Seers of the Eldar Craftworlds and the Inquisitors of the Imperium will never share this truth with the weak-minded fools who drink in their lies like mother's milk.
For a Lord of Chaos, Nurgle's actions seem oddly harmonious - caring even. To receive the blessings of Nurgle, all one has to do is want to live and be willing to do whatever it takes to cling to life. All else follows naturally from there. Worshipers of Khorne must push toward ever-greater levels of destruction and carnage despite the risks to themselves or even to their allies. Those who devote themselves to Tzeentch must deny their lot in life and seek to change everything, never appreciating what they have. Followers of Slaanesh seek to escape reality in a blur of sensation and self-delusion. All that is required to feel the caring touch of Nurgle is to see life for what it is and to want to make the most of it. All that is needed is faith in the future provided by Nurgle.
While an invitation to stroll down Nurgle's pox-strewn path should be welcomed as an honour, not all see it as such. Wasting away under the seemingly malign influence of a skin-eating disease is painful to the afflicted and often repulsive to those around him. When a child's flesh turns a sickly pale green and her eyes glaze over and become dull, milky, unseeing orbs, her father comes to know that he is powerless to prevent her suffering. Seeing a friend's battlefield wound blacken and ooze blood-tinged pus, the stench of its rot choking the air of a barracks, is a reminder of the frailty of all mortals.
If this decay comes at the hands of Nurgle, via the thrust of a rusted blade or the unleashing of a plague, many will curse his name. For those who are unable to see that this pain and suffering lifts the veil that hides the truth of life and death from them, such moments and visions are terrifying. Some blessed mortals, however, are able to look beyond the putrescence and see the decay for what it is - a gift from the Lord of All.
This gift, regardless of the form it takes, opens eyes even as it liquefies them. It simultaneously atrophies the leg muscles of its recipients and gives them the strength to march toward a greater purpose. It is Nurgle's great ambition to speed this universe toward its end by eroding the foundations of reality much as a disease can erode the spirits and bodies of those infected. Through his careful and ceaseless experimentations, begun within his wondrous Garden and then unleashed throughout the galaxy, the pillars that support the framework of existence are slowly but surely weakened. There will come a time when they collapse entirely and the universe will begin a massive transformation. The old ways will be swept aside like a troublesome fly. All that was will cease to be, and from the rotted ruins a new and glorious reality will emerge - one dominated by Nurgle and his beloved children. Those who walk with Nurgle and aid him in bringing about the Great Corruption, as Nurgle calls it, do so with joy in their hearts. They know that Nurgle's victory is assured and that when all things come to an end and life begins anew, they will have helped make it so. This makes theirs a life worth living, despite, and because of, the gifts of their caring master.
"I gazed at his magnificence, my vision completely filled with his glorious girth. All around me was flesh and smiling flies. Within his bulk I spied lesser minions, suckling on his leaking entrails. At his feet pools of pus and other bodily fluids gathered, in which his children splashed and played with glee. It was a blessing to behold such glory and joy. It was with great sadness that I awoke into a world filled with Imperial dogma and admonitions. I knew then the path I must walk."
— Taken from the Journal of Ulbirna
When it comes to understanding the glory that is the physical form of the Plaguefather, those who are privileged enough to be able to read about him in the pages of secret texts hidden away in the Black Library are on equal footing with the primitive warriors gathered around sooty bonfires within the wandering Kill Kroozer battleships of marauding Orks. Nurgle, like other Chaos gods, does not have one single form that can be recorded, shared, analysed, or conceived. His is majesty unfathomable by the mortal mind.
Still, if one were to delve into the comparative histories and galaxy-wide myths associated with Nurgle, certain commonalities would present themselves. Whereas other gods within the Realm of Chaos are associated with dozens, even hundreds, of depictions, there are far fewer variations on the appearance of the Plaguefather. The legends and tales universally describe Nurgle in unflattering terms. He is said to be a vast mound of rotting flesh, with open sores and gaping wounds in which his lesser minions cavort and frolic. Weeping pustules ooze filth and his bowels constantly issue putrescent waste. Beneath his fingernails, maggots and other carrion feeders lay eggs around which develop cysts that periodically burst open and spew their rancid payloads. Perhaps the tales are correct. Perhaps they are not. It does not matter, though, because whatever it is dwells within the mansion at the centre of the Garden, there can be no denying that the creations of this being are both foul and wondrous, and the joy with which he goes about his work is infectious.
Even if none of the insanity-inspired stories of Nurgle can be counted on to be perfectly accurate, the similarities among them are too hard to dismiss, and those similarities extend beyond the gut-churning descriptions of his open sores, exposed intestines, and stupefying stench. Rot and decay are part of Nurgle's nature, but so it seems are jocularity and enthusiasm. Such is the paradox of Nurgle.
Indeed, it may be his boundless energy, the passion with which he delights in his work, and his irrepressible joviality that erodes the minds of so many who contemplate his existence. It seems impossible to believe that a rotund, foetid purveyor of plague and ruin could simultaneously positively beam with mirth and have such concern for the billions of souls upon whom he has inflicted his wracking and hideous poxes. To bend the mind toward the task of reconciling such foulness with such frivolity is to invite madness. Those who are able to do so without slipping into lunacy are fortunate. They will have taken an important step toward understanding the Great Corruption that is to come. Unlike their less "enlightened" brethren, they alone will recognise that the Plaguelord is a tireless gardener of rot, who is always trying to prepare the slowly eroding realm they call reality for its grotesque apotheosis.
Ten-thousand long years I have had to reflect on the truths of the Plaguefather, and these truths the god of pestilence has seen fit to grant to me as gifts of his dark esteem:
— Agoris the Foul, Apostle of the Ruinous ones
- All rots. Bodies, Minds, souls, ideals. These things decay, and as they do, their bearers approach the state of wracked enlightenment in the Lord of All's embrace.
- To struggle is to succumb, for in struggle one feeds the pace of entropy. Therefore, those who fight against the inevitable are already vanquished.
- Death cannot be cheated, decay cannot be forestalled. In the end, the plague god welcomes all to his realm. Therefore, only those who walk into his arms willingly, in awe of his decrepit glory, can claim power eternal.
"In this universe, all rots. In this universe, one must rot to survive."
— Excerpt from The Enlightenment of Korvede Kalthrax, Harbinger of Carrion
The four great Gods of Chaos can each claim dominion over many of the inhabited regions of the galaxy. These holdings can be as small as the camp of a tribal cult on a backward primitive planet or as large as entire worlds or systems. None of these domains, even if added all together, can compare to the size, scope and spectacle of the abode each of the Ruinous Powers claims for himself within the Realm of Chaos. In truth, a meaningful comparison of the sizes of the mortal realms to those in the Immaterium is impossible. Concepts such as time and space have nearly no relevance in the Warp. The Realm of Chaos is made of thoughts and dreams and reacts to the conflicts and emotions of those who pass through it. As the most powerful entities within the Warp, the Gods of Chaos exert the most control over the shape of this dark dimension. These gods have, therefore, created kingdoms that are not so much regions with borders as they are manifested states of being, and as such they are apt to expand or diminish according to the waxing and waning of the power of their lord. It is only when realms meet at what a mortal mind might loosely conceive of as their borders that any semblance of boundaries can be considered.
Khorne, Slaanesh, Tzeentch, and Nurgle each exert their particular influence over the space around them through their will, their actions, and the deeds of their minions. This results in vastly different domains for each god. The Blood God is grounded in war and conflict of all kinds, and thus his realm has many battlefields upon which his minions constantly fight. Slaanesh's personal paradise is full of seductive wonders and bewildering beauty, where wanderers face temptation around each bend in the road. Tzeentch's domain is a chaotic jumble of impossible structures, mazes, and constantly shifting landscapes. Nurgle has a garden.
It is no ordinary garden. Perhaps it is not a garden at all, but the mortal minds that contemplate the manifested will of the Lord of Decay must attempt to make some sort of sense out of what they have seen or heard about in whispered tales. They must place it in some sort of relateable context that they can consider without going insane. The same tomes and other forbidden texts that have attempted to describe the lord of the land himself have, for the most part, agreed that the idea of Nurgle's realm being a perverse, deadly, and yet strangely beautiful garden best puts Chaos into terms they can fathom.
Like a normal garden, the domain of Nurgle is home to a bewildering array of flora and fauna, all interconnected and supporting the whole. Beds of bright blue Shovelpetal plants dig themselves up and leave the dirt in which they grew so that Plaguebearers can plant new Skullseeds in the rich loam. As the Skullseeds grow and blossom, they attract bounding, stomping, over-exuberant Beasts that mistake their fruits for the heads of new playthings. This scatters their matter violently into the air where it comes to rest on the wings of the ubiquitous flies. Slowed by the sticky pulp of the splattered plants, these insects become easy prey for other flying creatures that ingest them as they soar through the rot-choked air. Unbeknownst to the predators, bloatflies are carriers of many of Nurgle's experimental diseases and other creations. With their innards thus infected, these predators sicken, vomiting the contents of their guts all across the garden as they fly about and eventually exploding in showers of life-giving flesh and blood. This bounty of mutated and mutilated tissue falls into new areas of the Garden beneath, decaying into compost and starting the cycle of life and death anew.
Though the Garden of Nurgle does share certain commonalities with gardens and jungles on planets in realspace, it still is not a worldly garden in any sane sense. A visitor in this bizarre and perilous realm doesn't walk from this place to that. He experiences what needs to be experienced. Even the Daemons that tend the Garden are not really what might be thought of as a work force that arrives at a place, does a job, and then leaves for other regions. These Daemons are a part the experience of the garden itself. This is especially troublesome for the Plaguebearers, whose metamorphosed minds were once mortal, and still strive to impose a modicum of reality in their unreal existences. Still, even the Plaguebearers accept their place in the Garden and spend their eternity enjoying all it offers in their own way.
The Plaguefather affords all his children many ways to explore and appreciate his realm, and even to become a part of it. Though he is a god of Chaos, he also has a need to create order, to monitor his creations, and to control his experiments. A visitor to Nurgle's realm would find a dizzying amount of diversity of experiences. Here he might find trees made of nothing but the flesh of Eldar, constantly oozing the tears of a dying race. There he might find fields where tongues sprout up from the earth, each one blistered by the malign influence of a different infection. There is no telling what wonders await around each bend in the paths that stretch and wind throughout the Garden, but any who encounter them will surely have their sanity tested and questioned, should they survive to share the tale.
The Garden of Nurgle is an ever-changing realm, shifting according to the needs and whims of its master. Many areas exist only temporarily, taking shape to allow him to indulge a particular fancy or to be granted to an especially accomplished Great Unclean One as a reward. Even so, the legends hint that some aspects of this foetid domain remain relatively constant. Nurgle has need of fields in which to plant his crops of blighted herbs, pits to hold the bodies upon which he conducts his experiments, and, most important of all, a gigantic and decrepit mansion in which to store his creations, brew his legendary contagions, entertain guests, and plot the course of the Great Corruption.
There is a house of decay at the centre of Nurgle's Garden. Its wracked and twisted structure creaks and groans under the influence of baleful toxic winds. Shutters cling just barely to window frames only half filled with broken panes of filth-covered glass. Sewage drains spill forth beetles, maggots, and twisted centipedes with only tongues for their bodies and human fingers for legs. Paint continually cracks and peels away from the wood beneath, yet the house never loses it grey-green hue. Along the roof, hundreds of chimneys billow out dark clouds that, upon close inspection, are composed of millions of floating, buzzing flies.
All around this house, trees made of bone bear fruit that rots even as it swells. The leafless boughs of these ancient trees provide shelter for daemonic birds that sing the funeral dirges of any unwelcome visitor. It is a house of pestilence, rot, and death. This is Nurgle's Mansion, and that means that it is also a place of hope and renewal. There can be no explanation for the strength that keeps this structure from collapse save that it is the dwelling place of the Lord of All, whose boundless energy, sense of eternal purpose, and limitless joy for his work finds perfect peace with the inevitability of decay.
Nurgle himself often sits in a massive chair just to the side of the mansion's front door. From there he entreats visitors, both summoned and unexpected, to approach, share tales and questionable libations, and explore the countless rooms within.
Inside the vast structure, a guest could easily become lost. Rotten floorboards send many to a doom of slow consumption by the carrion feeders that dwell in the lower levels. Grand staircases decorated with moth-eaten rugs beckon to wandering souls, leading them to chambers where Daemons are glad to receive new, fresh flesh.
Should the guest bypass these rooms and continue upward, he might find his way to the attic, where Nurgle keeps samples of his multitudinous works of decay, catalogued and counted over and over again by attendant Plaguebearers. In this attic are jars containing the viscera of plague victims from across time and space. Souls are trapped within apparently simple glass containers, left to slowly dim and fade as maladies of the spirit waste them to the bone.
If the visitor walked past the stairs and pushed deeper into the mansion, he might stumble upon the kitchens and larders of the Plaguefather's home. Every foul ingredient, every pestilent component imaginable (and some that defy sanity) rests on shelves here, neatly labelled and ready to be combined in the great cauldron. A wise guest moves on quickly from here, knowing that to linger is to become flavouring for the noxious stew, for this cauldron is among Nurgle's prized possessions and he likes to keep it full. It is in this great black crucible that the Lord of All brews the many plagues he pours into the mortal realm. Nurgle is a creative being, and he will take inspiration for experimentation where he finds it. Seldom can he resist the temptation to add nearby visitors to his virulent concoctions.
Nurgle is unlike the other Ruinous Powers is many ways, including how he views his domain within the Realm of Chaos. Khorne, for instance, rarely leaves his throne, barking orders to his generals from atop a mound of skulls. Slaanesh watches the happenings of his kingdom from within his palace or wanders the universe seeking to tempt mortals into giving up their souls to satisfy his hunger. Tzeentch seems to not care much at all for the state of his warped and fractured lands, spending his time plotting and interfering with affairs in realms beyond his own. Nurgle, on the other hand, cherishes the beauty and surprises of his Garden. He routinely takes strolls down its twisted paths, cavorting with his Daemons and stopping to observe as one of his diseases takes its toll on a wounded captive. Nurgle is in touch with his land and its many regions.
In his wanderings outside of the Mansion, he passes by some of his favourite places, many of which have existed since Nurgle first thought of them and are likely to be the models for the reborn universe that is to come. A moment's journey from the Mansion are the Death Beds, a place he visits more often than perhaps any other. It is a place that serves two purposes. Not only are wayward travellers and defeated invaders trapped here, stored in the deep pits and sucking muck of this place awaiting some future foul use, or their eventual demise, but it is here that Nurgle can indulge in one of his greatest forms of entertainment. The Plaguefather loves to hear stories of the realms beyond his own. They inspire him to create new pestilences that are well suited to other lands, and in the Death Beds he has countless potential storytellers. Sometimes he offers these unfortunates the chance to improve their position by spitting the worms from their mouths and sharing tales of their worlds with him. Those who amuse him sufficiently are plucked from the muck and removed to the Mansion. There they have the great honour of becoming vessels for Nurgle's newest plagues. Once they are properly infected, Grandfather Nurgle smiles, gives them one last tender, gut-churning embrace, and sends them back into the lands their stories described.
After visiting the Death Beds, Nurgle often makes the Poxyards the next stop on his stroll. It is here that he tests the efficacy of his contagions of the flesh and spirit. Each malady requires a different set of trials to gauge its ability to achieve the Plaguefather's desires. This means that the physical form of the Poxyards changes to suit the task. For a test of the spirit, this region of the Garden may be filled with crystal clear lakes. A dehydrated test subject may see these lakes and, believing salvation is at hand, drink deeply of the cool waters. Suddenly the water will turn to pus, tormenting the sick and weakened soul. For a test of a skin-eating disease, the Poxyards may be filled with Clawthrust Brambles. Infected captives can be sent running into the daemon-plants, chased by Beasts. If the captives scream as they pass through the razor-edged branches of the plants, then Nurgle knows that the poor wretches can still feel pain and his affliction needs refinement. No matter the incarnation of the Poxyards, this corner of the Garden always gives Nurgle new insights, and therefore he spends a great deal of time there.
There are other places such as these - places that are always buzzing with activity and joy. The Morabusium where the most precious and toxic herbs take root, the Dunglash Arboretum where refined excrement hangs from trees like putrid, reeking vines, and many others. All of these regions provide Nurgle with the ingredients and insights he needs to further his work at the cauldron when he returns to the Mansion after one of his invigorating jaunts.
In addition to the mainstay regions of the Garden, there are many others that enjoy a less permanent existence, coming and going with the ascendancy and passing of one of Nurgle's many plagues. Some of these likely only exist in the nightmare visions and untrustworthy hallucinations of disease-ravaged minds. Still, the Garden is near infinite, and it is not so unbelievable that a recipient of one of Nurgle's great gifts might be blessed with a fleeting glimpse of the Plaguefather's realm.
With their last dying breaths, some mortals gasp and choke out words saying that they hear faint bells tolling. Perhaps they refer to the blossoms that grow in the Deathbell Lily Fields. When a mortal dies as the result of one of Nurgle's many diseases, one of these pallid flowers opens up and emits a tinny chime to mark the success of Nurgle's handiwork. The ringing is incessant.
The Hanging Gardens of Thush'Bolg are a sight to be seen. This remote slice of Nurgle's realm was given to the Great Unclean One Thush'Bolg as acknowledgement of his use of a choking plague to wipe out an Ork infestation on Hurax, a planet that Nurgle coveted. To commemorate his victory and to demonstrate constant thanks to his lord for his reward, Thush'Bolg used their own intestines to hang every single Ork from the colony in the trees of his domain. There they dangle and rot, slowly dying but never quite finding release.
Plaguebearers toss organs from the bodies of disease victims into sorting pools, making it easier for them to count the numbers that have died from each ailment. Beasts of Nurgle frolic in fields where planted spines yield crops of dementia-inducing foodstuffs. Nurglings cackle with glee as they roll down hillsides that form spontaneously when Great Unclean Ones vomit up regiments they consumed thousands of years ago. The Garden of Nurgle is a wondrous place filled with vitality, mirth, and experiences beyond mortal comprehension. It is a playground for the minions of the Lord of Decay, a laboratory for his work, and a comforting home for a god that knows his realm is the shape of things to come.
"His enemies shall wither and die. His allies shall wither and die. The universe and all within it shall wither and die. And when the Great Corruption has settled over the land, and permeated the very foundations of reality itself, then shall the Lord of All rise from the rot and ruin, spread his arms wide to reclaim all his dutiful children..."
— "The Victory of Rebirth", from Litanies of Inevitability
Though they strive to embrace each day of life left to them, to forestall the inevitable, those who serve Nurgle must accept their eventual death. They must also believe in the equal certainty of rebirth. This hope for something new and glorious is the great comfort that the Plaguefather has shared with them. It is a hope born from Nurgle's own understanding of the workings of the universe. Just as his followers have accepted the teachings of their lord, Nurgle himself long ago accepted that decay brings an end to all things, but that through such decay life begins anew. Decay is the victor in all battles, the opposition to which there is no resistance. This is why Nurgle embraces decay as a weapon, as a tool, and as a means of instructing and guiding his followers. Decay is at the core of Nurgle's philosophy and methods. Blessed with reshaped forms and renewed purpose, the minions of Nurgle become his instruments in the Great Corruption. As vessels and embodiments of decay, mortals and Daemons alike are effectively living fuel, powering the great cycle through their actions and, indeed, their simple rotting, infectious presence in the Realm of Chaos and the mortal plane.
Few who pledge themselves to Nurgle do so in the belief that he offers an easy path to power and glory. He does not promise increased influence, brutal strength, or hedonistic excess. Those who turn to him for aid are not seeking to make their dreams become reality, to strike down those who stand in opposition, or to be adored by all who know them. No, most mortals who find their way into Nurgle's foetid embrace wish only for an end to some sort of suffering. They call to him to protect them from the ravages of disease, to save them from the slow, painful death of unchecked infection, or to otherwise spare them from whatever may ail them. There are even some who do not seek him out but are instead visited by one of his messengers and offered a bargain.
No matter if they sought his gifts or if they themselves were found, the exchange is never quite what was expected. These mortals have their doubts and fears cast aside. They find that they are no longer caught in the paralysing grip of despair and misery. Their afflictions, however, linger, and are usually joined by other blights. New sores and pustules appear, the foul liquids they contain becoming home to small worms and maggots. Bellies swell and distend, the flesh straining to contain bleeding entrails that push the abdomen outward. Old wounds rip open again spontaneously and invite fresh infections. Whatever diseases or weakness these mortals once sought to leave behind take up permanent residence within their bodies and minds. All this must be accepted as the first lesson Nurgle teaches - decay is inescapable, but also glorious. This knowledge is illuminating for those who follow Nurgle. If all things decay, each moment is a gift. Why not use these moments to shape what is to come and secure a place in it? Why sit idly by wallowing in pain and sorrow when there is so much to do and so little time in which to do it? As these thoughts race through the minds of the newly converted, it dawns on them - their pain is deadened. Even with so many new afflictions, so much rancid corruption of the flesh, the suffering has abated. Hope arrives.
For these newest of Nurgle's adopted children, it is as if the morning fog has lifted and they see the world clearly with fresh eyes. Why had they complained about their poxes and failing bodies? What selfish desires to change their fates had prevented them from realising their true purpose? Rot, glorious rot, becomes the constant companion for a servant of the Lord of All, instructing them, guiding their path, and reminding them that they are fortunate beyond measure to have been chosen by Nurgle to receive his gifts. Indeed, many discover that the initial malady from which they suffered, the one that drove them to seek salvation in the first place, was actually bestowed upon them by Nurgle. Rather than anger, it is joy that springs from this knowledge. These mortals believe themselves to have been chosen, destined for greatness as a true champion of Nurgle.
Relatively few of those who receive Nurgle's glorious blessings distinguish themselves as much more than a tiny but welcome maggot, doing their part to eat away at the rotting corpse that is the decaying universe. Those who do differentiate themselves invariably exemplify the precepts of Nurgle's philosophy and emulate his grand and corrupted form at a level that leaves no doubt as to which of the Ruinous Powers has claimed their souls. These are the Plaguefather's mortal champions, and it is through their foul deeds that many of the greatest accomplishments of Nurgle's plan are achieved.
So often these champions take on an appearance not unlike that their dark patron. This is not unusual for minions of the Plaguefather. Great Unclean Ones are said to be small (though still massive in their own right) versions of Nurgle himself, and in turn their excreted offspring, the Nurglings, look like miniature replicas of the Great Unclean Ones that gave them life. Likewise, mortal champions become bloated, stinking, leaking, collections of rotted flesh, exposed entrails, necrotic sores, and all manner of foulness. They are surrounded by clouds of flies and followed by Nurglings that splash about in the slime trails that spread out behind them to mark their passing. Unlike the minions of the other Gods of Chaos, champions of Nurgle do not hesitate to pursue enemies into the most dank, disgusting, and polluted places. There is no cesspool or sewer noxious enough to deter Nurgle's followers. No quarantined plague zone is off limits. Once a champion of Nurgle has the scent of his foe, no amount of stink can throw him off. The determination that is such part and parcel of all that Nurgle's lessons impart serves his champions well as they do whatever must be done to serve their lord.
Lesser worshippers of Nurgle who follow them are unperturbed by the grotesque condition of champions and draw inspiration from the macabre beauty of their rotting forms, the sickly sweet odour of their rancid flesh, and the corruptive acts they commit in the name of Grandfather Nurgle.
The Plaguelord's followers all end up mimicking his appearance in one way or another. Some even became his children because they started out life bearing some passing resemblance to him. Nurgle is more than form, though. He is also philosophy. Most mortal champions, and many lesser followers, end up thinking like he does, though in a limited fashion due to the constraints of mortal minds, but it is the daemonic champions that know their father's thoughts the best.
Great Unclean Ones understand Nurgle in a way that no mortal - not even one elevated to the rank of Daemon Prince - ever could. They are nearer to their god than any mortal, and more closely involved in his plans than any Plaguebearer or other daemonic servant. There is little place for jealousy or scheming in the Garden of Nurgle or any of his domains beyond, and his Daemon Princes know this. Though they wish for nothing more than to be one with the Plaguefather, they also know they will never be as close to him as the Great Unclean Ones are. As they do with so much else as a result of Nurgle's teachings, they accept their lot. This relationship to their god differs from that of other Daemon Princes. The other Ruinous Powers take particular pleasure in deceiving mortals, damning them by tricking them with lies and promises they know they will almost certainly never need to keep. They see their daemonic followers, even their champions, as never having had a choice but to do as they are commanded. They view these Daemons more as slaves to darkness than co-conspirators with it. In their eyes, this makes mortal servants somehow more interesting. Nurgle, on the other hand, knows most of his mortal followers turned to him as a last act of desperation, but his daemonic minions, most especially the Great Unclean Ones, have genuine affection for Grandfather Nurgle and serve him out of love. Nurgle delights in reciprocating, reminding him as it does of a kind of a cycle, and therefore takes great interest and pride in the efforts of his daemonic champions. The desires of Nurgle and his champions are one. Each knows that the Great Corruption is a higher purpose that must be served, and they do so with great resolve and satisfaction.
The Gods of Chaos are all ultimately after the same thing. Each wishes to overthrow the existing order and claim dominion over both the Realm of Chaos and the mortal world. The questions of how this is to be achieved and which lord the universe will call master are answered very differently by each of the Dark Gods. Slaanesh would see all of existence turned into a playground in which he and his minions could eternally explore new delights. Khorne desires nothing more than to claim every skull and drop of blood to use as the mortar with which to build the foundations of his new kingdom. Tzeentch surely has his own plans for what a twisted reality reshaped in his image would look like, but he has not shared what that might be. Perhaps he does not even know himself. To Nurgle, these alternatives are indistinguishable - self-indulgent fantasies with no sense of greater purpose or understanding of the nature of things. To him, the ambitions of the others seem small.
Reality will be remade. Both the mortal plane and the Realm of Chaos have ever been on a path of decay, and from decay come death and endings. Endings, but not finality. It seems that Nurgle alone comprehends the meaning of this, the distinction. Where his brother gods each envision a destination at the end of the path, Nurgle knows that the journey turns ever back upon itself in a loop, leading to rebirth, revitalisation, and new beginnings. It is this fundamental divergence of views that sets Nurgle at odds with the other Powers, for it means that they are not actually working toward the same thing that he is. On the surface, it appears to the others that while the methods each employs may be different, the end result is much the same - the destruction of the Imperium, the enslavement or destruction of all mortals, and final dominion over all. This is, though, a superficial understanding. Differences come to light in many ways. Slaanesh is content to allow Plague Marines to inflict grievous damage on an army through blight and disease, but is then perplexed when Nurgle's servants do not allow the minions of the Prince of Pleasure to play with the wounded, absconding with their shattered forms before delights can be explored. To Khorne it is all well and good to work with his brother Nurgle in an effort to blast a Kroot colony into oblivion, but he cannot fathom why the Plaguelord insists on leaving their former homeland untouched rather than raze it to a charred, lifeless stone. Still, these incidents pass, written off as the eccentricities of their jolly brother.
Tzeentch, however, is another matter entirely. He refuses to give Nurgle his due or to allow him to pursue his own path. He tweaks, twists, and diverts. He warps, redirects, and alters. The Master of Change is unable to accept that which will surely come to pass. He is constantly looking to modify the rules to his advantage so that his desired ending is the one that will come to pass, even if it means interfering with Nurgle's desires, no matter how small the consequences of those desires may appear to be. Nurgle knows that such meddling is pointless. He knows that the journey down the path does not stop, but the machinations of his brother are vexing and irritating just the same. The actions of Khorne and Slaanesh are a small inconvenience, but Tzeentch's games play havoc with Nurgle's plans, creating setbacks that are needless and counterproductive to not only Nurgle's own goals, but also those of the other Dark Gods. Very little causes Nurgle's smile to dip, but Tzeentch seems to be able to provoke that reaction at will. When the universe dies and then rises again, it is one of greatest hopes of the Lord of All that like the Corpse God of Man, Tzeentch will not be reborn with it.
Nurgle is the Chaos God of blight and decay, the final end that awaits all mortals. From his pestilent garden within the Warp, where virulent fungi writhe and black flies fill the thick, polluted air, he brings forth endless afflictions and rejoices with each successful plague. Despite embodying entropy and the most loathsome of appearances, he and his Daemons are filled with vitality, enthusiastically offering their gifts of noxious diseases. They delight in sharing these infectious blessings to mortals, offering escape from the horrors of death but at the price of utter corruption to their flesh. Each new disease, each new mortal brought low, is carefully recorded in a never-ending tally. His apostles often become little more than rotting corpses, pestilent shambles of purifying flesh and dripping sores, but with unnaturally resilient flesh that vigorously resists death. Nurgle exists everywhere, for all living things erode and fail, and with each fall his power grows.
The sky darkens with noxious clouds and the land sickens and withers as the Daemons of Nurgle lumber into battle. Unnatural plagues billow about them. Slime and toxins drip from their blades and claws. Warped bells toll and bloated flies buzz, filling the air with a droning din as the hideous slaughter begins...
Nurgle's Daemons spill into realspace in thronging masses, surrounded by swirling clouds of bloated plague flies. The endless droning of these insects provides a fitting accompaniment to the constant muttering of thousands of Plaguebearers, as they attempt to catalogue the full breadth of the Lord of Decay's manifold concoctions. Unhurried and uncaring of the enemy fire that splatters off their corpulent forms, they march towards the foe with implacable menace. Cackling Nurglings caper about the ankles of their larger fellows - once battle is joined these diminutive Daemons spill over the enemy in an irrepressible tide, giggling and chortling to each other as they bite and scratch at mortal flesh, before dribbling their infectious toxins into open wounds. Grossly malformed creatures covered in caustic slime and rippling with virulent poxes, Beasts of Nurgle bound playfully alongside the plague-ridden Tallybands, while Plague Drones wheel overhead, mounted upon their monstrous Rot Flies. In the midst of this poxridden tide lumbers the colossal, bloated bulk of a Great Unclean One, its flyblown, pus-dripping body an embodiment of the Plague God's fearsome constitution. The slug-like tongue of this Greater Daemon lolls from its gaping maw as it chortles in delight, urging its children onwards to spread Nurgle's bountiful maladies amongst the unenlightened masses.
Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay and the Master of Plague and Pestilence. All things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to eventual corruption, and Grandfather Nurgle sows the seeds of that entropy with carefully brewed infections and epidemics. Yet despite this grim work he is not a morose or dolorous god. Life begets death, and in turn death gives birth to new life, in the form of pallid, wriggling things that crawl free from mouldering corpses. Thus, the Plague God sees himself as a benevolent fellow, and goes about his business with laughter and honest joy. He sees mortal souls not as things to be dominated and destroyed, but naïve children to be plied with flesh-rotting gifts, and thus enlightened as to the true wonder of disease and decay.
Amongst the foetid boughs of Nurgle's Garden - the Lord of Decay's pestilential domain within the Realm of Chaos - billions upon billions of Daemons dance amongst fields of spore-spewing vines and wallow in mires of pestilent filth. They await the chance to slither out of the immaterium and into the realm of mortals, upon whom they can inflict their most delightful concoctions.
Foulest of the Chaos Gods is Nurgle, the lord of disease and virulence, the bringer of plague and physical corruption. His is the cycle of infection, morbidity and painful death. Those who are made servants of Nurgle become living vectors for his contagions. Covered with dripping pustules and reeking of decay, they travel to planets throughout the galaxy to spread their god's diseases. As Nurgle's plagues become pandemic, so too does civilisation begin to crumble. Whole worlds become drowned in putrescence, and entire cities are buried under the rotting dead. This brings great joy to Nurgle, for it is his will to see the galaxy consumed by the inescapable mouldering of entropy.
|Creatures||Beasts of Nurgle; Blight Drones; Foetid Bloat-drones; Great Unclean Ones; Lords of Contagion; Mabrothrax; Malignant Plaguecasters; Noxious Blightbringers; Nurglings; Pestigor; Plaguebearers; Plaguebulls; Plague Hulks; Plague Ogryns; Plague Toads; Plague Towers; Plague Zombies; Poxwalkers; Rot Flies|
|Characters||Abcellyoth; Aynthrexes; Bilerot Vomitflesh; Lothar Bubonicus; Bubonis; Vorxec Calvarius; The Carrier; The Entomancer; Epidemius; Ferrue Fayne; Tormus Fayne; Foulspawn; Nathaniel Garro; Ghulroth; Goresqualor; Gulgoth; Jibberjaw; Ku'gath; Mamon; Adrius Meinloka; Mephidast; Mortarion; Mortius; Necrosius; Nurgle; Pestilaan; Putricifex; Scabeiathrax; Achkovas Spengh; The Thanator; Typhus; Ussax; Plaguestrangler Vilestench; Jonas Whitespore; Ystareth|
|Groups||Apostles of Contagion; Blessed Flesh; Bringers of Decay; Callers of Sorrow; Carnival of Chaos; The Cleaved; Company of Misery; Death Guard; Deathmongers; Death Priests; The Grey Death; Inevitable Order; Legio Mortis; Legion of Festering Death; Lords of Decay; Mournful Song; Nurgle's Rotters; Pox Tribes; The Purge; The Reborn; The Scourge; Sorcerer-Kings; The Tainted; Tainted Sons; Vile Savants|
|Things||An'garrach; Balesword; Blight Grenade; Bloodrot Rounds; Bone Maul; Corruption; Cursed Carillon; Death Head; Dolorous Knell; Doomsday Bell; Epidemia; Father of Blades; Foulswarm Grenade; Gem of Nurgle; Horn of Nurgle's Rot; Icon of Despair; Icon of Seeping Decay; Manreaper; Palanquin; Pandemic Staff; Pestilaan Light Cruiser; Pestilent Flail; Plague Banner; Plaguebringer; Plague Cauldron; Plague Chalice; Plague Claw; Plague Flail; Plague Knife; Plague Sceptre; Plague Skull of Glothila; Plaguesword; Poxwalker Hive; Puscleaver; Scab; Scourge Shells; Staff of Nurgle; TP-III; Undead Heart; War Altar|