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The Thanator

In the Warhammer 40,000 setting, the Thanator is a high-ranking Priornite, appearing in Fantasy Flight Games' Black Crusade role-playing game.

The Thanator lives on the planet of Mire. For more information about this place, see the Death Priests of Mire.

The Tome of Decay (2014)

The Tome of Decay (2014), p116 — Mire

The Thanator

The Thanator, an ancient overlord of Mire, is a Priornite of the most advanced age and festering power. His sorcerous abilities are terrifying in combat, and his maggot-worn mind is cunning still, despite the long ages he has ruled.

The Plague God has granted this loyal servant of his with not only eldritch gifts, but also with visions. The Thanator awaits the arrival of several powerful Heretics, on whose quest the Lord of Flies' buzzing, gurgling whispers say he must assist. While the Thanator would never defy his dark god, he demands the respect due him as an ancient and powerful patron of rot on the wretched world of Mire from all who pass through his domain. The Priornite Thanator plays an important role in the adventure contained in this volume, The Heart of the Vortex, guiding the Heretics to new heights of power and new depths of despair...

Priornite Thanator (Master)

Movement: 1/2/3/6

Wounds: 21

Armour: Putrid Flesh (1 All)

Total TB: 6

Skills: Awareness (Per) +0, Forbidden Lore (Nurgle) (Int) +20, Psyniscience (Per) +20.

Talents: Psy Rating (5), Resistance (Poisons).

Traits: Psyker, Regeneration (7), Toxic (7), Unnatural Toughness (3).

Weapons: Plague-Cauldron Staff (2d10+5; Pen 5; Decay [1] [see page 42], Force).

Psychic Powers: All of the Nurgle Psychic Powers (see pages 215-216 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook).

The Tome of Decay (2014), p127 — GM's Brief

The Story Thus Far

The Priornites of Mire are a caste of sorcerer-kings that feed upon the cerebral matter of their subjects and, in so doing, make themselves hosts for the most virulent and delightful of Nurgle's blessings. Only the strongest Priornites survive for long, for their rivals are ever seeking new means of casting down their peers in an eternal cycle of growth, decay, death, and rebirth. For the Mirens, this ceaseless struggle is the supreme act of devotion to the Plague God Nurgle and they have little or no desire to transcend it or to seek power elsewhere within the Screaming Vortex. The Heretics, however, each of them well travelled along the Path to Glory, seek to harness the staggering reservoir of power built up on Mire over countless generations, to use the Priornites as a means of gaining the favour of Nurgle and in so doing take the final, and by far the most harrowing, step in their journey.

Having set foot upon the mist-shrouded, stinking ground of Mire, the Heretics attract the attentions of several natives, including the inscrutable Thanator, a high-ranking Priornite of Mire who is said by many to hold the favour of a number of Nurgle's Daemonic lieutenants (see page 116 for the Priornite Thanator's profile). This individual has the power to bestow the Heretics the boon they seek, but will only do so if they can prove themselves worthy of the Plague God's blessings. To prove themselves fit, the Heretics must submit to the greatest trial they have faced in their long journey along the Path to Glory - they must go willingly to their own deaths, trusting that the Dark Gods will carry them through the heart of the Screaming Vortex where the greatest of heroes who failed reside yet, and to be reborn in the full, unfettered glory of Chaos.

If the Heretics master their own mortality, they are granted the power they desire. They may even gain the ultimate gift that all Aspiring Champions strive towards - Apotheosis. But such a fate must never be sought hastily, for the vast majority that reach the end of the Path to Glory falter even as they take the very last step. Judged unworthy, such unfortunates descend into madness and damnation as their souls are torn asunder and their bodies are mutated beyond all recognition. Doomed, they become mindless, thrashing Chaos Spawn, ever to serve the whims of whatever masters choose to drive them to war in pursuance of their own ambitions and desires.

Such is the final challenge that awaits the Heretics in The Heart of the Vortex!

Adventure Plot

The Heart of the Vortex is an adventure in two parts. The first part sees the Heretics arrive on the world of Mire in search of the blessings of the Plague God, a boon they must earn if they are to complete their quest for power and take their places as the mighty warlords they each believe they are destined to become. In this section, the Heretics encounter numerous servants of Nurgle and face the many threats of everyday existence on Mire. What they are unlikely to realise, however, is that they are being watched all the while, the inscrutable gaze of the Thanator, Priornite of Mire, upon them throughout. If and when the Thanator wills it, the Heretics are made aware of his presence and invited to attend him. Then the real challenge can begin.

As a Priornite of Mire, the Thanator sits at the apex of a pyramid of fell power, its foundations made of the rendered souls of the countless generations of cerebral cannibals who have preceded him. Each generation has imbibed the brain matter of the last, and in so doing inherited the sorcerous abilities, along with the memories of their predecessor, but also the countless aggregated curses and side-effects of such a concentration of blessings. The Thanator has gained the power to speak directly to Daemons that serve Nurgle, and he is able to act as a combination of oracle and agent of the Plague God's Greater Daemons, speaking with their voice and perceiving something of the ascended plane of existence on which they dwell. This august lord of rot and reclamation knows that this power is not granted him for his own benefit and that it will prove his undoing. It has been revealed to him that the sole reason for his existence is to harness the power of every generation of Priornites before him and to concentrate it into a single act of transference to another, whom he himself must judge worthy to receive such an unimaginable blessing. It is the judgement of the bestowing of that blessing that forms the second part of the adventure, and potentially heralds the climax of the Heretic's journey along the Path to Glory.

In the second part of the adventure, the Heretics are confronted with the ultimate trial. Should they wish to claim the blessings of Nurgle, they must face his servants, from the invisibly small to the largest and most destructive. In all likelihood, the Heretics, and indeed the players, will not immediately perceive the full extent and nature of the challenge and so the Heretics will likely fight for all they are worth to avoid death. But this is entirely the point - only by transcending death and proving themselves worthy of rebirth can the Heretics truly ascend to the next tier of power.

In short, the Heretics must die in order to be reborn, at which point the Game Master can conclude matters or, should he wish, make use of the rules for Apotheosis (see pages 63-73) or Spawndom (see pages 120-121) found elsewhere in this volume. The Heretics' ultimate fate depends on their actions, and the story that the GM and players decide to tell together.

The Tome of Decay (2014), p133 — Encounter 6: Cometh the Priornite

Regardless of how many encounters the Heretics have been exposed to since arriving upon the surface of Mire, sooner or later they meet the Thanator. Far from being a chance meeting, the Thanator has been fated this moment not just for his entire life, but throughout countless generations before him. The Thanator sits at the very apex of a pyramid of generational power that has its foundations in the very creation of the world of Mire. With the birth of each successive Priornite and his imbibing of the cerebral matter of the former, the will and power of Nurgle has been filtered, reborn, and propagated, such that the Thanator represents the distilled essence of that will. In short, the Thanator's very existence serves to perform the ritual that will pass judgement on the Heretics, and determine if they are worthy of the blessings they seek.

The best way for the Game Master to introduce the Thanator is to do so at the climax of one of the previous encounters. For example, if the Heretics have encountered the "Waves of Filth" described in the previous event, the moment they defeat the last of the Miren Horde, the Priornite might appear upon the corpse-strewn battlefield, gesturing silently for the Heretics to follow him. Alternatively, if the Heretics are about to be overwhelmed by the Horde, he could appear at the climactic moment and with a single gesture send the Mirens fleeing into the mists, leaving corpses and silence behind. Perhaps Encounter 4 could lead the characters to the Priornite, where he waits silently and patiently for the moment he has been preparing for his entire life.

Regardless of the exact circumstances of the meeting, the Game Master can set the scene by reading or paraphrasing the following description aloud:

Standing before you is a tall, gaunt figure, his withered frame clad in rags wrapped tight about its limbs like soiled bandages. His face and hands are pale and glistening, the very sores seeping a cocktail of glistening filth. Despite the myriad maladies afflicting the flesh, the eyes are the darkest pits, portals through which undreamed-of realms of power and ambition are glimpsed. The face turns towards you, the darkness shining forth from those eyes shines upon you more blinding than the brightest of questing arc beams. The shrivelled lips part and a wave of grave-air flows forth.

"I am the Thanator," the figure announces in a voice as of a stone tomb ground open for the first time in a thousand years. "I am your judge, and I am your doom. If you would know your destiny and transcend the Vortex, attend me..."

Exactly how the Heretics react is up to them, but clearly they would be foolish not to follow this creature. Should the players either fail to appreciate the scope of this moment, or (perhaps commendably) decide that their characters would react by attacking the Thanator (see page 116 for his profile), the Game Master might have to think on his feet. Depending on the nature of the Heretics, he might offer them a chance to reconsider, or respond "in game" by requiring a Skill Test to have the character experience a moment of insight or even some foreboding vision. Ultimately, however, the players should remain the masters of their Heretics' fate, and so if they insist on attacking the Thanator the Game Master should allow them to do so and to reap the consequences. Doing so takes the adventure, and indeed the entire campaign in a very different direction, for if the Heretics kill their would-be guide, they have squandered the chance they were about to be offered to gain the blessings of Nurgle and potentially ascend to a higher plane of power - though Heretics dedicated to the divine rivals of the Plague God might find such an outcome pleasing, and even win favours from their respective patrons as a result. If they kill the Thanator, it is recommended that the immediate consequence is the appearance of the Lutomorbus (as presented on page 114), the mighty beast drawn to the scene by the death of so fated a soul as the Thanator. If they can defeat this creature or escape it, they will have won a great victory over Nurgle's champions - which might be very rewarding for some Heretics, but bode extremely ill for others. Such actions will certainly make the favour of Nurgle harder to obtain in the future, and the Plague God's other servants might seek to bestow their finest and most terrible diseases upon the Heretics as a result.

Assuming that the Heretics follow the Thanator, it is time to move on to the second part of the adventure.

The Tome of Decay (2014), p135 — The Judgement

Having followed the Thanator, the Heretics enter his domain and must submit to his judgement. When ready, read or paraphrase the following aloud:

Following after the gaunt figure of the Priornite Thanator, the mists close in as never before, so that soon you can barely see his shadow as it plunges through the swamps. You follow for what feels like hours, but may have been moments, sensing strange re-alignments taking place just beyond the boundaries of perception. After what appears an age of trudging through the swamps, massive shapes resolve themselves on either side, the mist slowly clearing to reveal new, twisted forms of life arching overhead. Wherever you are, it clearly is not upon the surface of Mire.

The creeping tendrils of mist, so long your constant companions on this noisome world, disengage and slink away, revealing a sight of stark terror and decaying majesty. You stand in a glade in an impossible forest, the trees rearing hundreds of metres into the air and a green-tinged glow filtering down through unseen boughs. All about you is riotous rot, the trunks of the mighty trees clad in glistening mould as fungal forms twist through and all about. Bloated flies the size of clenched fists buzz lazily through the cloudy air, which as you breath is revealed to be thick with spores and the overwhelming taste of death.

At the last, the Priornite Thanator comes to a halt in the centre of the glade and turns to face you, his hands wide in a gesture of greeting as he bows low and says: "Welcome, travellers. Welcome to the Garden of Nurgle, where you shall meet your judgement, and your doom."

Having set the scene, it is time for the Thanator to reveal the truth of his existence and the meaning for the Heretics' presence in his otherworldly court. Read or paraphrase the following aloud:

"My lords," the Thanator addresses you all, "I must introduce myself formally, so that you might meet your judgement knowingly. I am, as you know, a Priornite, one in whom countless generations of the Plague God's blessings are vested. There are many of us here on Mire, but I am unlike the others. I am the last of my line. Each and every one of my thousand thousand ancestors has imbibed the cranial matter of his forebear, filtering it through his soul to pass on to the next. I am the apex of my line, in whom is vested a single task allocated to us by the Plague Father so long, long ago.

"My task, my lords, is to communicate the judgement of the Plague Lord upon your eternal souls and, if he deems you worthy, to shepherd you through the Frozen Heart of the Vortex, and show you the path to your ultimate ambitions.

"You may turn now, and go, but I know you will not, for this moment has been known to me and every one of my line since time before time, age before half-dreamt age.

"Now is the moment. Each of you, my lords, must speak aloud the true extent of his ambition. But heed my words. Speak only the truth, lest the Great Powers deem you below their note. Speak that which you desire to find at the end of the Path to Glory, and prepare to pay the ultimate price for attaining it!"