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Carnival of Chaos

This roving band of performers and devotees takes the form of a travelling circus that comes to spread the joy of Nurgle to the mortal populace of the Warhammer Old World.

White Dwarf 119 (1989-11)

White Dwarf 119 (Nov 1989), p19-24 — The Great Unclean Ones

Greater Daemons of Nurgle (Bahk'ghuranhi'aghkami)

Great Unclean Ones, Fly Masters, Plague Lords, Stench Lords, Nurgle, Father Nurgle

The Great Unclean Ones are the Greater Daemons of Nurgle. In the case of other Chaos Powers, Greater Daemons are servants, albeit immensely able and powerful ones. This is not quite true of Nurgle's Greater Daemons, who are each a virtual facsimile of Nurgle, both physically and in terms of personality. Thus it may be said that every Great Unclean One is also Nurgle. A Great Unclean One is sometimes referred to as Nurgle or Father Nurgle by his underlings, although of course he also has his own daemonic name.

A Great Unclean One certainly looks like Nurgle - a gigantic figure bloated with decay, disease and all imaginable kinds of physical corruption. The skin of the daemon is greenish, necrose and leathery, its surface covered with pockmarks, sores, and other signs of disease and infestation. The inner organs, rank with decay, spill through the ruptured skin and hang like drapes about the Daemon's girth. Tiny creatures called Nurglings burst from these organs and chew and suck upon the nauseous juice within. Such foulness represents the ultimate truth of the universe: the inevitable victory of decay and the end of all things.

In character the Greater Daemon is neither deathlike nor morbid. In fact the opposite is true. Great Unclean Ones are motivated by all the trivial Human enthusiasms which drive the living. They are ebullient and vociferous, full of a natural enthusiasm to organise and achieve. They are driven by a gregarious and even sentimental nature and hold their followers dear, even referring to them as their 'Children', and taking a noticeable pride in their appearance and endearing behaviour.

This combination of physical corruption and energetic endeavour is the most extraordinary characteristic of Nurgle's Daemons. It can be seen most clearly when the Great Unclean One and his daemonic followers appear in the material world. The horde travels in a great cavalcade of covered wagons, bringing with it all the pestilences and ills that befall the living. The wagons are in no better condition physically than the Daemons within. Their shrouds are tattered and rotten, their frames splintered and bent, and their metal-work pitted and rusted. Yet within the plodding caravan of Nurgle all is bustle and activity as the Great Unclean One prepares to launch a festival of decay and destruction upon a Human village, a thriving town, or an opposing army. For Nurgle's visitation is like that of a travelling circus or great fair, except that the entertainment it offers is disease, sickness and death.

As the caravan draws near to its destination the excitement of the Daemons draws to a fever pitch. Plaguebearers take stock of pestilence and disease, counting the reserves of sickness, the number of Nurglings, each other, and eventually anything that stands still long enough to be counted. Amidst the deep-throated drone of the Plaguebearers' endless tally, the Nurglings chatter and prance like small children about to embark upon a special treat. They squabble and squirm, snigger and squeal, and their numbers increase and diminish beyond the Plaguebearers' ability to count them. Amidst the general hullaballoo and anticipation, the overly affectionate Beasts of Nurgle bound uncontrollably from Plaguebearer to Plaguebearer, like exciteable puppies, leaving pools of dribble and slime as they pass.

When the Great Unclean One speaks his manner is immediately reminiscent of the great stage manager and leader that he is. He addresses his cast of Plaguebearers, Nurglings and Beasts, building their enthusiasm by recalling the fine aesthetic qualities of famous diseases of the past. He may mention in passing the wine-dark sea of purple patterned decay, the fine flaky texture and slightly salty tang of eczema. As the multitude clamours for more, he will describe the gem-like shine of a boil as it wells to a head, and the final satisfaction as it bursts exposing a glistening cavity of inflamed flesh.

The space inside the wagon was cavernous out of all proportion to its tiny exterior size. The cacophonies that filled it were indescribable: the squealing, screaming, chattering and bickering of the Nurglings was beyond mere Human imagining. A million unruly school children left to their own devices could not even begin to rival the anarchy or intensity of that daemonic din. The grating drones of the Plaguebearers all counting at once produced a sound so bass and penetrating that it made the vital organs of every Daemon vibrate and quiver in time with its beat. Then there were the indescribable noises, the creaks and groans, the little pops of bursting pustules, the sloppering sticky noises of the frantically affectionate Beasts, and other sounds which were impossible to ascribe to any one source in particular. Amidst it all, waving his arms, the Great Unclean One was trying to make himself heard.

"Ahh... Gentlecreatures, Children, my pretties... lend your ears to your loving Father, cease thy aimless chatter, banish thy banal burblings..."

It was quite useless, the noise continued, the squeals and laughter reaching a new crescendo. The Great Unclean One appeared for a moment to be hurt by his fellow Daemons' rudeness.

"SHUT UP!" he bellowed.

The noise stopped instantly. Not even the beat of little daemonic hearts or drip of tiny daemonic noses could be heard. The brow of every Plaguebearer furrowed in concentration as each tried desperately to remember the last number he thought of. The Great Unclean One quickly regained his composure; he was used to such things.

"Gentlecreatures, our pretties... now is time to sing the songs of fate, for the moment has come for the Dance of Death!"

The Great Unclean One

Alignment: Chaos (Nurgle)

Special Psychological Traits: Hates all Daemons and Champions of Tzeentch. Otherwise standard for Greater Daemon.

Magic: A Greater Daemon of Nurgle has a spell pool of 7 randomly determined spells - the first spell generated of any level will be a Spell of Nurgle as described later.

Magic Items: A Great Unclean One carries D6 randomly-generated magic items.

Special Rules: A Great Unclean One has 10 attacks in total: 8 claw, 1 bite or gore, and 1 stomp. When the Daemon scores a successful hit with a bite attack, his snake-headed tongue makes an additional attack; if successful the damage caused is resolved with a Strength of 4. WFRP - successful claw and bite attacks cause infected wounds.

Any non-magical weapon which strikes a Great Unclean One will instantly rust away to nothing, leaving the attacker weaponless.

Any living creature engaged in hand-to-hand combat against a Great Unclean One risks catching the dreaded disease Nurgle's Rot.

Great Unclean Ones do not need to wear armour. Their corpulent and unfeeling flesh gives them a natural saving throw against damage of 5 or 6 on a D6.

WFRP - the Great Unclean One has 2 armour points on every hit location.

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The Nurglings flocked to their master, squabbling and bickering in their impatience to nestle in the warm comfort of his decaying bosom.

"Ahhh... Nurgle's Children, our pretties, our pets," cried the deep warm voice of the Great Unclean One. "How Nurgle loves his little Children!"

With a broad and loving smile the great Daemon raised a hand to pluck the Nurgling that had settled into the folds of his chest. The Nurgling squealed and squirmed as the hand enveloped it and caressed it for a moment before popping it whole into the Great Unclean One's mouth.

The Dance of Death

As the great plague carts and wagons of the cavalcade of Nurgle approach their target, the unsuspecting village or the sleepy town, the Daemons prepare their campaign of destruction. In all respects it is a performance, and like all performances it has its prelude as well as its climax. In this case the prelude is the Dance of Death, enacted the night before the assault, when the Daemons of Nurgle dance a great Dance of Death, circling the town or village three times. As the moon rises into the sky the dance begins its course and the cast of Daemons moves solemnly over the hills and fields. As the procession moves past the outlying houses, dogs and cattle take up the cacophonous noise, adding their barking and lowing to the rising song. As the night progresses and the first circuit is complete, the excitement begins to mount. The songs become raucous and the dancing more and more animated. As the dancers begin the third circuit they abandon themselves to a frenzy of song, laughter, and madness in which they cry out the terrible things that they intend to do on the morrow. As the dance nears completion, the noise reaches the houses of the living. Those awakened by the song hide under their covers too terrified to move, while those still sleeping experience strange and disturbing dreams. Then all falls quiet. The third circuit is now complete and the songs of fate are at an end.

The Burgermeister woke from the nightmare, his heart beating like a drum and his grey limbs quivering with unreasoning terror. The words of the dreamsong echod in his mind, the cries of some daemonic child threatening and taunting him.

"Flies, flies, eat up his eyes! The Burgermeister's lovely eyes!"

He shuddered as he recalled the verse of the childish rhyme ringing even now in his ears. Throwing aside the clammy bedclothes, he walked to the window. As he inhaled the cool night air he looked out across the Newfield towards Redfarm hill. And then his heart almost stopped. There, outlined against the hill, was the nightmare made real. A carnival of cavorting Daemons vanishing behind the rise as he watched, and there upon the breeze once more the piercing cackle and that maddening song.

"The eyes! The flies! The eyes! The flies! Before the Burgermeister dies!"

Father Nurgle settled down among the supporting heap of his smallest minions. Those lucky enough to escape being crushed by their master's bulk squealed delightedly as they snuggled into the damp warmth of his flesh. Nurgle reclined comfortably and his corpulent face assumed an air of triumphant expectancy.

Nurgle gave a dignified nod to one of the Plaguebearers. Excitedly, the daemon began to beat its drum, slowly and rhythmically at first, and gradually faster and faster as it became carried away by the sense of occasion. All of Nurgle's servants cheered and applauded, and Nurgle acknowledged them with a smile and a regal wave of his festering paw.

It was the prelude to battle that excited the daemons, drawing squeals of anticipation from the tumbling little Nurglings. This time the cavalcade was to be joined by others: Champions of Nurgle and their mortal Warbands, who were going to take part in the great war. The Beasts bounded and fussed in their eagerness to welcome the mortals, causing considerable disarray and the odd casualty among the serried ranks of warriors.

The Warbands flocked to the sound of the drum. The came in carts and wagons like those of Nurgle's own cavalcade, marched into camp, or simply distilled from the surrounding woods like shadows at sunset. Some of the most severely mutated of them wore bright carnival masks and voluminous robes, completely failing to hide their unique disfigurements if that was in fact their purpose. The Plaguebearers carefully recorded the name of each Champion as he arrived, announcing his titles as loudly as they were able among the rising laughter and squeaking chatter. The show pleased Father Nurgle immensely: the busy scampering daemons, the creaking carts with their tinkling bells, the gaily-coloured masks and carefully decorated palanquins bearing various daemons or Champions. He sighed with satisfaction and patted the Nurgling that had crawled into the crook of his arm and puddled.

Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (1990)

Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (1990), p13-16 — The Great Unclean Ones

Greater Daemons of Nurgle (Bahk'ghuranhi'aghkami)

Great Unclean Ones, Fly Masters, Plague Lords, Stench Lords, Nurgle, Father Nurgle

The Great Unclean Ones are the Greater Daemons of Nurgle. In the case of other Chaos Powers, Greater Daemons are servants, albeit immensely able and powerful ones. This is not quite true of Nurgle's Greater Daemons, who are each more or less a facsimile of Nurgle himself, both physically, and in terms of their personality. In other words, it may be said that every Great Unclean One is also Nurgle.

A Great Unclean One is sometimes referred to as Nurgle or Father Nurgle by his underlings, although of course he also has his own daemonic name.

A Great Unclean One certainly looks like Nurgle - a gigantic figure bloated with decay, disease and all imaginable kinds of physical corruption. The skin of the daemon is greenish, necrose and leathery, its surface is covered with pockmarks, sores, and other signs of infestation. The inner organs, rank with decay, spill through the ruptured skin and hang like drapes about the girth. From these organs burst tiny creatures called Nurglings which chew and suck upon the nauseous juices within. Such foulness represents the truth of the universe, of decay and the end of all things.

Yet in character the Greater Daemon is neither deathlike nor morbid. In fact the opposite is true, Great Unclean Ones are motivated by all the trivial human enthusiasms which drive the living. They are ebullient and vociferous, full of a natural enthusiasm to organise and achieve. They are driven by a gregarious and even sentimental nature and hold their followers dear, even referring to them as their 'Children' and taking a noticeable pride in their appearance and endearing behaviour.

This combination of physical corruption and energetic endeavour is the most extraordinary characteristic of Nurgle's daemons. It can be seen most clearly when the Great Unclean One and his daemonic followers appear in the material world.

The horde travels in a great cavalcade of covered wagons, bringing with it all the pestilences and ills that befall the living. The wagons are in no better physical condition than the daemons within. Their shrouds are tattered and rotten, their frames splintered and bent, and their metal-work pitted and rusted. Yet within the plodding caravan of Nurgle all is bustle and activity as the Great Unclean One prepares to launch a festival of decay and destruction upon a human village, a thriving town, or an opposing army. For Nurgle's visitation is like that of a travelling circus or great fair, except that the entertainment it offers is disease, sickness and death.

The space inside the wagon was cavernous out of all proportion to its tiny exterior size. The cacophonies that filled it were indescribable; the squealing, screaming, chattering and bickering of the Nurglings was beyond mere human imagining. A million unruly school children left to their own devices could not even begin to rival the anarchy or intensity of that daemonic din. The grating drones of the Plaguebearers all counting at once produced a sound so bass and penetrating that it made the vital organs of every daemon vibrate and quiver in time with its beat.

Then there were the indescribable noises, the creaks and groans, the little pops of bursting pustules, the sloppering slicky noises of the frantically affectionate Beasts, and other sounds which were impossible to ascribe to any one source in particular. Amidst it all, waving his arms, the Great Unclean One was trying to make himself heard.

"Ahh... Gentlecreatures, Children, pretties... lend your ears to your loving Father, cease thy aimless chatter, banish thy banal burblings..."

It was quite useless, the noise continued apace, the squeals and laughter reaching a new crescendo. The Great Unclean One appeared for a moment to be hurt by his fellow daemons' rudeness.

"SHUT UP," he bellowed.

The noise stopped instantly. Not even the beat of little daemonic hearts or drip of tiny daemonic noses could be heard. The brow of every Plaguebearer furrowed in concentration as each tried desperately to remember the last number he thought of. The Great Unclean One quickly regained his composure, for he was used to such things.

"Gentlecreatures our pretties... now is time to sing the songs of fate, for the moment has come for the Dance of Death!"

As the caravan draws near to its destination the excitement of the daemons nears fever pitch. Plaguebearers take stock of pestilence and disease, counting the reserves of sickness, the number of Nurglings, each other, and eventually anything that stands still long enough to be counted. Amidst the deep-throated drone of the Plaguebearers' endless tally, the Nurglings chatter and prance like small children about to embark upon a special treat. They squabble and squirm, snigger and squeal, and their numbers increase and diminish beyond the Plaguebearers' ability to count them. Amid the general hullaballoo and sense of anticipation, the overly affectionate Beasts of Nurgle jump uncontrollably from Plaguebearer to Plaguebearer, like excitable puppies leaving pools of dribble and slime as they pass.

When the Great Unclean One speaks his manner is immediately reminiscent of the great stage manager and leader that he is. He addresses his cast of Plaguebearers, Nurglings and Beasts, building their enthusiasm by recalling the fine aesthetic qualities of famous diseases of the past. He may mention in passing the wine-dark sea of purple-patterned decay, the fine flaky texture and slightly salty tang of eczema. As the multitude clamours for more, he will describe the gem-like shine of a boil as it wells to a head, and the final satisfaction as it bursts exposing a glistening cavity of inflamed flesh.

The Nurglings flocked to their master, squabbling and bickering in their impatience to nestle in the warm comfort of his decaying bosom.

"Ahhh... Nurgle's Children, our pretties, our pets," cried the deep warm voice of the Great Unclean One. "How Nurgle loves his little Children! How Nurgle loves his little pets!"

With a broad and loving smile the great Daemon raised a hand to pluck the Nurgling that had settled into the folds of his chest. The Nurgling squealed and squirmed as the hand enveloped it, caressing it for a moment before popping it whole into the Great Unclean One's mouth.

Great Unclean One

Special Psychological Traits: None - the Great Unclean One is subject to the standard rules for Greater Daemons.

Magic: A Greater Daemon of Nurgle has a spell pool of 7 randomly determined spells - the first spell generated of any level will be a Spell of Nurgle as described later (see Magic of Nurgle).

Magic Items: A Great Unclean One carries D6 randomly generated magic items (see Summary).

Special Rules: A Great Unclean One has 10 attacks in total, including 8 claw, 1 bite or gore, and 1 stomp. When the Daemon scores a successful hit with a bite attack, his snake-headed tongue makes an additional attack: if successful the damage caused is resolved with a Strength of 4. WFRP only - successful claw and bite attacks cause infected wounds.

Any non-magical weapon which strikes a Great Unclean One will rust away to nothing on the D6 score of a 5 or a 6 leaving the attacker weaponless.

Any living creature engaged in hand-to-hand combat against a Great Unclean One risks catching the dreaded disease Nurgle's Rot (see Nurgle's Rot).

Great Unclean Ones do not need to wear armour. Their corpulent and unfeeling flesh gives them a natural saving throw against damage of 5 or 6 on a D6. WFRP - the Great Unclean One has 2 armour points on every hit location.

Chaos Attributes: A Great Unclean One may be given up to 7 Chaos Attributes - 7 being the mystic number of Nurgle. The Great Unclean One does not have to have the full 7 attributes - he may have fewer or none if the player prefers. The number of Chaos Attributes must be decided by the player and individual attributes generated randomly.

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The Dance of Death

As the great plague carts and wagons of the cavalcade of Nurgle approach their target, the unsuspecting village or the sleepy town, the daemons prepare their campaign of destruction. In all respects it is a performance, and like all performances it has its prelude as well as its climax. In this case the prelude is the Dance of Death, enacted the night before the assault, when the daemons of Nurgle dance a great Dance of Death encircling the town or village three times.

As the moon rises into the sky the Dance of Death begins its course, the cast of daemons moves solemnly over the hills and fields. As the procession moves past the outlying houses, dogs and cattle take up the cacophonous noise, adding their barking and lowing to the rising song. As the night progresses and the first circuit is complete, the excitement begins to mount. The songs become raucous and the dancing more and more animated. As the dancers begin the third circuit they abandon themselves to a frenzy of song, laughter, and madness in which they cry out the terrible things that they intend to do on the morrow.

As the dance nears its completion, the noise drifts through the night air into the houses of the living, where those awakened by the song lie too terrified to move from their beds, whilst those still sleeping experience strange and disturbing dreams. Animals panic in their stalls or break out of their fields; butter curdles and milk turns sour. When it seems that the horror can no longer be endured, all falls strangely silent. The third circuit is now complete and the songs of fate are at an end.

The Burgermeister woke from the nightmare, his heart beating like a drum and his grey limbs quivering with unreasoning terror. Cold sweat ran from his body and stained the bed clothes with fear. On the other side of the bed his fat wife slept soundly on, oblivious to his distress.

The words of the dreamsong echod in his mind, the cries of some daemonic child threatening and taunting him.

"Flies, flies, eat up his eyes! The Burgermeister's lovely eyes!"

He shuddered as he recalled the verse of the childish rhyme ringing even now in his ears. Throwing aside the clammy bedclothes, he walked to the window and threw open the shutters.

As he leaned out of the window, inhaling the cool night air, he looked out over the fields and woods which surrounded the village. His own house, newly constructed from the best timber and sporting a cast-iron weather vane, was situated on a gentle hill, affording fine views of the pastoral countryside.

His gaze swept across the Newfield towards Redfarm Hill. And then his heart almost stopped. There outlined against the hill was the nightmare made real, a carnival of prancing and cavorting daemons vanishing behind the rise as he watched, and there upon the breeze once more the piercing cackle and that maddening song.

"The eyes! The flies! The eyes! The flies! Before the Burgermeister dies!"

Father Nurgle settled his great mass down among the supporting heap of his smallest minions. Those lucky enough to escape being crushed by their master's bulk squealed delightedly as they snuggled into the damp warmth of his flesh. Nurgle reclined comfortably and his corpulent face assumed an air of triumphant expectancy.

Nurgle gave a dignified nod to one of the Plaguebearers. Excitedly, the daemon began to beat its drum, slowly and rhythmically at first, and gradually faster and faster as it became carried away by the sense of occasion. All of his servants cheered and applauded, and Nurgle acknowledged them with a smile and a regal wave of his festering paw.

It was the prelude to battle that excited the daemons, drawing squeals of anticipation from the tumbling little Nurglings. This time the cavalcade was to be joined by others: Champions of Nurgle and their mortal Warbands, who were also going to take part in the great war. The Beasts bounded and fussed in their eagerness to welcome the mortals, causing considerable disarray and the odd casualty amongst the serried ranks of warriors.

The warbands flocked to the sound of the drum. The came in carts and wagons like those of Nurgle's own cavalcade, marched into camp, or simply distilled from the surrounding woods like shadows at sunset. Some of the most severely mutated of them wore bright carnival masks and voluminous robes, completely failing to hide their unique disfigurements if that was in fact their purpose. The Plaguebearers carefully recorded the name of each Champion as he arrived, announcing his titles as loudly as they were able among the rising laughter and squeaking chatter. The show pleased Father Nurgle immensely: the busy scampering daemons, the creaking carts with their tinkling bells, the gaily-coloured masks and carefully decorated palanquins bearing various daemons or Champions. He sighed with satisfaction and patted the little Nurgling that had crawled into the crook of his arm and puddled there.

Carnival of Chaos

The Empire in Flames (2004)

The Carnival of Chaos

The Empire in Flames (2004), p58-61 — The Carnival of Chaos

Another roar of laughter came from the crowd like muted thunder as the mock Knight Panther, bedecked in armour of tin and wielding a wooden sword, slipped upon some entrails. It was a battlefield scene; pig's blood, uncoiled rope and animal intestine were strewn about the stage as mock carnage.

"A horse, a horse, the Emperor is a horse!" the Knight wailed as his mind succumbed to Chaos.

The travelling players had arrived in the village without word or prior arrangement, replete with ramshackle cart that doubled as dressing room and makeshift theatre. A host of colourful characters, loped and cavorted alongside, with mesmerising wit and charm, announcing to all and sundry they would be performing a rendition of the play, 'The Emperor's True Face.'

Crowds had gathered quickly, initially children, then women and finally the men, and soon the entire village was under the players' spell. Demitri was one of the last to join the eager and enraptured throng, sceptical at first but in moments he too was utterly engrossed.

The play reached the 'Northern Wastes' scene, a rotted wooden placard carried across the stage describing as much by a robed daemon with a seemingly permanent grin. Demitri marvelled as other daemonic characters, whose costumes where uncannily realistic, danced and skipped amongst the appreciative crowd. Chicken feathers thrown by the daemons drifted down like snow. A wonderfully macabre jester performed acrobatics, tapping the village children's foreheads who sat transfixed in the front row as he sprang past with his tickle stick.

A foul and repugnant odour filled Demitri's nostrils as an uncomfortable burning sensation grew upon his chest but he couldn't take his eyes off the play, utterly lost in the unfolding drama. His wife and child, sitting at the front of the stage, were a distant memory. Now only he and the bizarrely macabre players existed. The Knight Panther slipped again and Demitri laughed out loud. A plague daemon bore down upon the play's unlikely hero and the enraptured farmer marvelled at its realism. Eyes widening, Demitri stared with incredulity as the plague creature swelled, stomach bloating as if filling with stagnant air. A shape with what looked like arms and legs pawed within, stretching the flesh thin like clinging mucous.

Something was wrong. The plague creature's mouth distended to agonising proportions but Demitri couldn't look away. It belched forth a tiny daemon creature that sat wallowing amidst a foul miasma of vomit and pooling slime from the creature's stomach.

The charade was revealed for what it was; a conjuration of Chaos. Slime trails left by the actors spat and bubbled. Human eyeballs, heads; real corpses diseased and rotting were strewn about the stage. These things wore no masks but were daemons themselves!

A weight like a heavy millstone fell about his neck and shoulders as Demitri made to rise. He turned; panic welling in his heart. The ruinous powers were roaming free and unchecked in the Empire! He looked to his brothers for aid, trying to raise the alarm. But they were all dead, horribly swollen with some unseen pestilence, pustules and boils on their flesh spilling over with all the fervour of a grotesque epidemic. Horrified, Demitri looked down to the burning at his chest, he ripped away his shirt in pain and saw an icon resting there, inscribed with the sigil of Sigmar.

Abruptly, a foul, filth-encrusted dagger came into view, lifting the amulet from Demitri's chest and leaving behind a red weal.

"Is this an icon of Sigmar I see before me?" a voice reminiscent of bubbling flesh, asked. It was the head player, his moon-shaped face was covered in warts and boils and he was dressed in thick gaudy robes.

Demitri was terrified. "What have you done?" he stammered, recoiling.

The head player moved forward a step, keeping pace as Demitri lurched back.

"Foul worshippers of Chaos!" he cried defiantly, suddenly aware that he was surrounded.

"Yes, alas, that is true my noble lord," a voice from Demitri's left confirmed; a thin and short character, hunched over, face like some grim theatrical mask, split down the forehead. An infestation of flies buzzed around him as he fanned a set of tarot cards. "But your words wound me sir," he continued with mock offence, slicing open a cut in his wrist with one of the tarot cards. "We are but flesh like you," he said, drawing closer, "if you prick us, do we not bleed?" With sniggering contempt, the tarot daemon squeezed the blood from his wound, which dripped down upon the Sigmarite talisman, dissolving it like acid.

Instantly, Demitri could feel the effects of whatever malady had overtaken his kinsmen. He was defenceless. Head swimming, he whirled around drunkenly a myriad of grinning faces surrounding him; a brutish-looking clown, with daubed on face paint hideously joined with physical mutation, a dark grinning jester with a daemonic hand-puppet that chattered in sync with its bearer, a host of grinning, sneering faces awash with colour that was bright and dirty at the same time.

Demitri felt the sickness overtake him and sank to his knees in the dirt. The dark jester lifted his chin up to face him as his hand-puppet spoke for him.

"Why then," it said, the talisman's resistance ebbing, "Your stomach is mine oyster," he continued as a sudden silver flash from a dagger caught Demitri's eye, "Which I, with sword, shall open," the jester himself concluded darkly.

As the blade slipped in and the Carnival players began their grisly work one last thought occurred to Demitri.

"Helena!" he cried, with the last of his dying breath, "My wife..."

The head player loomed into view, his moon-like visage blotting out Demitri's sun for the last time.

"She's my wife now Demitri..."

No one knows from whence it came, the dreaded Carnival of Chaos. Some have rumoured that it was once a gypsy caravan from the east of the Empire, wandering folk that brought their colourful fare from village to village entertaining the poor rural folk of the Empire with their lavish shows and stage plays. If this past is the truth then what it has become in the present is far more sinister and deadly. Still it wanders the rural backwaters of the Empire, in a colourful cavalcade of wagons, its folk dressed in the colourful finery of travelling players, bringing sonnet and song to excitable villagers and peasants.

Upon reaching a new settlement, these outlandish showmen erect their stage and entertain the poor rural folk with songs and plays of the dark days of the Empire. Tales such as: 'The Emperor's True Face', 'Orfeo and Pustulate', 'Papa Noigul's Festering Children' and 'A Midsummer Nightmare' wow the enraptured throng.

Strongmen perform feats of incredible prowess to the adoration of the crowd, whilst players in garish, grinning masks juggle balls, knives and flaming brands. As the crowd's numbers increase, a fool in bright jester's garb with an inflated pig's bladder on a stick leaps from one enthralled watcher to the next joking and cackling, poking and prodding.

It is only when the show reaches its blasphemous climax, as the sun begins to set, that the truth of the Carnival of Chaos is revealed in all its putrid, festering glory. For these are no mere wandering thespians and entertainers. When the players perform their final act, known as the 'Dance of Death', the enchantments covering their true visages slowly slip away revealing them to their blissfully ignorant audience for they are cavorting, cyclopean daemons with rotting flesh hanging from yellowing bones. What were originally considered intricately decorated masks and cleverly applied make-up is soon revealed as the players' true horribly mutated faces, covered in pustules and pox-ridden lesions. As the villagers' expressions turn from those of elation to abject terror at the sight of these horrific visions the slaughter begins. By now most of the folk who made up the cheering audience would have already succumbed to the virulent diseases spread by these malevolent players. The insidious Carnival Master, accompanied by his cackling fool, rounds up those unfortunate women and children that remain alive, taking a finger from each of his new brides, exclaiming "You're my wife now!". The survivors are then led away to an unknown fate and the village is left deserted, its inhabitants and livestock killed by innumerable diseases and plague.

The Carnival of Chaos is the sick joke of the Great Lord of Decay, the Chaos god known as Nurgle. Thrice cursed Nurgle is also known as the unspeakable Master of Plague and Pestilence and the players in the Carnival are his corrupt followers and worshippers. They are those who have sold their souls for a twisted form of immortality through embracing death, destruction and decay - learning to love Nurgle's many and varied gifts. It is not known how many Carnivals of Chaos there are or if the handful of reports from the lips of petrified witnesses all refer to the same warband.

The leader of the Carnival of Chaos is known as the Carnival Master and is reputed to be a sorcerer of great power, wielding the unclean magic of his lord to cause suffering and death through disease and decay. Through dark ritual and sacrifice, the Carnival Master summons forth the cackling, decaying Daemons of his patron god to take part in the twisted masquerade. His mortal followers carefully nurture their newly acquired diseases, blessings of their gregarious deity and vie for power and advancement under his watchful gaze. The most blessed of these twisted, insane creatures are those known as the Tainted Ones. These are often the right-hand 'men' of the Carnival Master and their bodies are wracked with a multitude of foul diseases and mutation. The Carnival of Chaos is justly hunted by the many bands of zealous Witch Hunters that traverse the lands but always seems to be just one step ahead of the Sigmarites and continues to follow its merry path, bringing the blessings of Nurgle to all.

Special Rules

Dangerous to Know: Because of its rather diseased nature a Carnival of Chaos warband would find it very hard to keep any Hired Swords alive! Therefore, a Carnival of Chaos may never hire any type of Hired Sword.

Carnival of Chaos skill tables
 CombatShootingAcademicStrengthSpeed
Master
Brutes  
Tainted Ones   

The following lists are used by the Carnival of Chaos to pick their weapons:

Carnival equipment lists
Hand-to-hand Combat Weapons
Dagger1st free / 2 GC
Mace3 GC
Hammer3 GC
Axe5 GC
Sword10 GC
Double-handed Weapon15 GC
Spear10 GC
Halberd10 GC
Morning Star15 GC
Missile Weapons
Bow15 GC
Short Bow10 GC
Pistol15 GC (30 for a brace)
Armour
Light Armour20 GC
Heavy Armour50 GC
Shield5 GC
Helmet10 GC
Brute Equipment list
Double-handed Weapon15 GC
Flail10 GC

Choice of Warriors

A Carnival of Chaos warband must include a minimum of three models. You have 500 Gold Crowns to recruit your initial warband. The maximum number of warriors in the warband may never exceed 15.

Heroes

Henchmen

Starting Experience

Maximum Characteristics

With the exception of the Plague Bearers and Nurglings which do not accrue experience all other members of the Carnival of Chaos use the maximum characteristics for Humans.

Chaos Daemon

The Empire in Flames (2004), p62 — Heroes

1 Carnival Master

70 Gold Crowns to hire

These lead the diabolical Carnivals of Chaos. They are the chosen of Nurgle and wield sorcerous powers gifted to them by their pestilential god. The Master is a power-crazed individual that leads his coven of Daemonic entertainers throughout the backwaters of the Empire, tainting villages and settlements with disease. To the backward peasantry of the Empire's rural settlements, the Master comes across as an exotic and charismatic showman bringing outlandish entertainment into their otherwise dreary lives. It is the Carnival Master's cunning and clever enchantments that help to keep his minions one step ahead of the patrols of the many Witch Hunter bands that rove the land.

ProfileMWSBSSTWIALd
 444331318

Weapons/Armour: The Master may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Carnival of Chaos Equipment list.

SPECIAL RULES

Leader: Any models in the warband within 6" of the Master may use his Leadership instead of their own.

Wizard: The Master is a wizard and uses Nurgle Rituals. See the Magic section for details.

0-2 Brutes

60 Gold Crowns to hire

These are a very specific type of mutant that have had their constitution bolstered by the unnatural vitality of the Lord of Decay. Nurgle's foul attention has transformed what were once men into massive, statuesque creatures rippling with diseased muscles and a supernatural vigour. Brutes are immensely strong individuals and their part in the masquerade that is the Carnival of Chaos is as strongmen performing feats of strength to entertain the crowds. They are nearly always hooded in the nature of executioners for although their bodies appear outwardly strong and healthy, their faces are often riddled with disease and are half-decayed. In battle, they wield huge hammers and flails with reckless abandon, whirling them around their heads like children's toys.

ProfileMWSBSSTWIALd
 440441227

Weapons/Armour: Brutes may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Brute Equipment list.

SPECIAL RULES

Unnatural Strength: Brutes start the game with the Strongman skill from the Strength skill list in the Mordheim rulebook.

0-2 Tainted Ones

25 Gold Crowns to hire (+Cost of Blessings of Nurgle)

The Tainted Ones are those that are most blessed and favoured of Father Nurgle. They hold a position of great importance within the hierarchy of the Carnival. They are often heavily robed and protected by powerful enchantments, for beneath their robes are unspeakable horrors. The bodies of the Tainted Ones are so wracked with disease and mutation that it is unsafe for even the other mortal members of the warband to touch their bare skin. Ironically, they take the most prestigious role in the Carnival - the fool. The Tainted Ones leap and prance about the audience, dressed as jesters, when the Carnival is performing, laughing and joking with the gathered throng infecting them with their multitude of horrendous maladies. These twisted creatures are exceptionally dangerous opponents in combat too, for it is said that they carry the dreaded and incurable Nurgle's Rot.

ProfileMWSBSSTWIALd
 433331317

Weapons/Armour: Tainted Ones may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Carnival of Chaos Equipment list.

SPECIAL RULES

Nurgle's Blessings: Tainted Ones must start the game with one or more Blessings of Nurgle. See the Blessings of Nurgle that follow.

The Empire in Flames (2004), p63-65 — Henchmen (Bought in groups of 1-5)

0-2 Plague Bearers

50 Gold Crowns to hire

Plague Bearers are daemons of the Chaos god Nurgle, also known as the Lord of Decay. They can be identified by their cyclopean faces and horrifically decayed bodies. Their entrails hang from tattered holes in their grey-green, pox-ridden flesh and the aura of death and decay surrounds them. They are sometimes known as the Tallymen of Plagues or Maggotkin and are highly revered by the mortal members of the warband. As with all Daemons they can never be killed or destroyed for good so long as the power of their god prevails. However, their presence in the mortal world is tenuous and can only be maintained for long periods by Dark Magic and sacrifice. In the Carnival, the Plague Bearers revel in their showy roles as stage actors and players, dressing in filth encrusted but ostentatious doublet and hose.

ProfileMWSBSSTWIALd
 4434414210

Weapons/Armour: None. Plague Bearers have huge filth encrusted claws, which they use to tear and slash at their foes. They therefore neither need nor use weapons and cannot wear armour.

SPECIAL RULES

Cloud of Flies: Plague Bearers are surrounded by a cloud of flies, which buzz around them and their combat opponent. They do not affect the Plague Bearer but distract foes by buzzing into eyes, nostrils and mouths. A Plague Bearer's close combat opponent suffers a -1 to hit modifier on all attacks.

Stream of Corruption: Plague Bearers can spew forth a grotesque stream of maggots, entrails and filth. This is counted as a shooting attack with a range of 6" and is resolved at Strength 3 with no saves for armour.

Daemonic: Plague Bearers are Daemons of the lord of disease, Nurgle, and are not made of living flesh but the eternal and unchanging forces of Chaos. Therefore they never gain Experience.

Immune to Poison: Plague Bearers are the Daemonic embodiment of disease and pestilence. They are totally immune to all poisons and diseases.

Immune to Psychology: Plague Bearers are Daemons and do not know the concept of fear. They automatically pass any Leadership-based test they are required to take.

Cause Fear: Plague Bearers are horrifying supernatural creatures and therefore cause fear.

Daemonic Aura: Due to the magical, intangible nature of Daemons they have a special Armour save of 5+. This is modified by the Strength of the attack as normal and is completely negated by magic weapons and spells. Plague Bearers' attacks are considered as magical also.

Daemonic Instability: Plague Bearers are bound to the world by Dark Sorcery that is highly volatile and unstable. If taken out of action a Plague Bearer is banished and effectively destroyed on a D6 roll of 1-3 (do not roll for injury). In addition, if the warband routs then every Plague Bearer in the warband must take an immediate Leadership test. If this test is failed, then the Plague Bearer counts as destroyed.

Nurglings

15 Gold Crowns to hire

Nurglings are tiny Daemons of Nurgle and are viewed by other followers of the pus god as akin to his beloved children. They are like rotten boils with legs and razor sharp teeth, that pick and tear and infect their foes with filth-encrusted claws. Nurglings are generally more of a nuisance in a fight than any real threat but in sufficient numbers can overwhelm even the toughest of warriors. Nurglings are mischievous little bundles of filth and pus and take great delight in their part in the Carnival of Chaos, not only as musicians but also as fools and slapstick comedians. Nurglings often befriend the children of each village they visit, only revealing their foul identity to their terrified victims at the final stage of 'Nurgle's Great Play'.

ProfileMWSBSSTWIALd
 4303213110

Weapons/Armour: None. Nurglings do not use weapons or wear armour.

SPECIAL RULES

Cloud of Flies: Nurglings are surrounded by a cloud of flies, which buzz around them and their combat opponent. They do not affect the Nurglings but distract foes by buzzing into eyes, nostrils and mouths. A Nurgling's close combat opponent suffers a -1 to hit modifier on all attacks.

Swarm: You may summon as many Nurglings as you wish (ie. you may have more than five Nurglings in a Henchman group).

Daemonic: Nurglings are Daemons of the diseased Lord Nurgle and are not made of living flesh but the eternal and unchanging forces of Chaos. Therefore they never gain Experience.

Immune to Poison: Nurglings are the Daemonic embodiment of disease and pestilence. They are totally immune to all poisons and diseases.

Immune to Psychology: Nurglings are Daemons and do not know the concept of fear. They automatically pass any Leadership-based test they are required to take.

Daemonic Aura: Due to the magical, intangible nature of Daemons they have a special Armour save of 5+. This is modified by the Strength of the attack as normal and is completely negated by magic weapons and spells. Nurglings' attacks are also considered as magical.

Daemonic Instability: Nurglings are bound to the world by Dark Sorcery that is highly volatile and unstable. If taken out of action a Nurgling is banished and effectively destroyed on a D6 roll of 1-3 (do not roll for injury). In addition, if the warband routs then every Nurgling in the warband must take an immediate Leadership test. If this test is failed, then Nurgling counts as destroyed.

Brethren

25 Gold Crowns to hire

Brethren are the crazed and devoted followers of Nurgle the Lord of Decay. They have totally embraced the philosophy of the great Lord of Decay and the path of damnation is the road that they have chosen. Most brethren are infected with foul diseases and some have even started to decay. Their faces are covered in warts and boils and other lesser gifts of their lord. In the Carnival, the Brethren take on all of the minor roles: stagehands, puppeteers, etc.

ProfileMWSBSSTWIALd
 433331317

Weapons/Armour: Brethren may be equipped with weapons and armour chosen from the Carnival of Chaos Equipment list.

0-1 Plague Cart

120 Gold Crowns to hire

The Plague Cart is the embodiment of Nurgle and the core of the Carnival of Chaos. Bedecked in the colourful, garish finery of the coaches of travelling players and thespians, the Cart easily draws the eyes of the dull and bland peasantry of the villages. However, the canvas is tattered and rotten, the frame splintered and bent, the metalwork pitted and rusted and the steeds rotted and dank. Few mortals have ever seen the interior of one of these most sinister of vehicles for it is only the Carnival Master and his Daemonic minions that are permitted entry. It is rumoured that these ramshackle wagons contain a pentagram daubed with dark runes of incredible potency that actually creates a portal to the realms of Chaos and the dwelling place of great Nurgle himself.

ProfileMWSBSSTWIALd
Cart----84---
Wheel----61---
Horse8--3313--
Guardian-3-33-31-

Weapons/Armour: None. The Plague Cart's Guardian does not use or need weapons but suffers no penalties for fighting unarmed. Therefore it cannot use weapons and cannot wear armour.

SPECIAL RULES

Plague Cart: The Daemonic nature of the Plague Cart fills both the Daemons and mortals of the Carnival of Chaos with vigour. The maximum number of warriors allowed in the warband is increased by +2.

In addition, the Daemonic Instability of the Daemons within the warband is slightly offset. Plague Bearers and Nurglings may re-roll Leadership tests for Instability and may +1 to their Injury tests if taken out of action.

Guardian: The Guardian comes as part of the Plague Cart. In fact, more often than not he is physically bonded to the cart in some twisted nightmare of flesh and wood. He may therefore never dismount from the cart or leave under any circumstances. In addition, as he is part of the Cart he cannot be injured unless the Cart is destroyed in which case so is he. The Guardian is considered a Daemonic creature and so never gains any Experience. Attacks from the Guardian cause Nurgle's Rot (see below).

Immune to Psychology: The Plague Cart and Guardian are considered Daemonic and don't know the concept of fear. The Plague Cart automatically passes any Leadership-based test it is required to take.

The Empire in Flames (2004), p65 — Nurgle Rituals

The Carnival Master uses the rituals of Nurgle to pervert and corrupt nature, inflicting hideous diseases for which there are no known cures. Roll a D6.

D6ResultDifficulty
1Daemonic Vigour: The Master imbues his Daemonic minions with supernatural power.

Any Plague Bearers or Nurglings within 8" of the Master increase their Daemonic Aura save from 5+ to 4+ until the beginning of their next turn.

8
2Buboes: The Master bestows the gift of pus-filled buboes upon his enemies.

This spell has a range of 8" and affects a single enemy warrior. The warrior must pass a Toughness test or lose a Wound. No Armour saves are allowed.

7
3Stench of Nurgle: The Master spews forth a foul, stinking mist that chokes his foes.

This spell has a range of 6" and affects all living creatures - friend or foe. Each enemy warrior in range must pass a Toughness test or lose an Attack until their next turn.

8
4Pestilence: The Master inflicts horrible diseases upon the unbelievers.

All enemy models within 12" of the Master suffer a Strength 3 hit. No Armour saves are allowed.

10
5Scabrous Hide: The Master's skin becomes tough and leathery like that of his patron god.

The Master has an armour save of 2+ which replaces any normal Armour save. The Scabrous Hide lasts until the beginning of his next Shooting phase.

8
6Nurgle's Rot: The Master bestows the blessing of the Plague God upon his foe.

All enemy models in base contact with the Master must immediately test against their Toughness or contract Nurgle's Rot (see Nurgle's Rot opposite).

9
Chaos Daemon

The Empire in Flames (2004), p66 — Blessings of Nurgle

Those that worship at the fetid altar of the Lord of Decay suffer from terrible diseases and decay, which are known as Blessings of Nurgle.

Blessings of Nurgle may be bought for Tainted Ones only when they are recruited; you may not buy new Blessings for a model after recruitment. Any Tainted may have one or more Blessings. The first Blessing is bought at the price indicated, but second and subsequent Blessings cost double.

Stream of Corruption

The Tainted One can spew forth a grotesque stream of maggots, entrails and filth. This is counted as a shooting attack with a range of 6" and is resolved at Strength 3 with no saves for armour.

Cost: 25 Gold Crowns

Nurgle's Rot

The Tainted One is infected with the deadly pestilence of its lord - Nurgle's Rot. In addition, the Tainted One is immune to all poisons. Nurgle's Rot is a deadly contagion for which there is no known cure. This virulent disease can be passed on in hand-to-hand combat. If the Tainted One makes a successful to hit roll of 6 this will result in the target model contracting the Rot (note: Nurgle's Rot only affects the living, so Undead, Daemons and the Possessed are unaffected). Once a warrior has contracted the Rot, mark this on the warband roster. Rather than killing the victim immediately, the Rot can take some time to set in. From now on, before the start of each battle, the warrior must pass a Toughness test. If successful, his constitution has managed to stave off the Rot's effects. If unsuccessful, the warrior loses one point of Toughness permanently (if he reaches zero, he has succumbed to the Rot and died, remove him from the roster). In addition, if a 6 is rolled for the Toughness test then he has unwittingly passed the Rot on to another member of the warband (randomly allocate a warband member and mark this on the roster).

Cost: 50 Gold Crowns

Cloud of Flies

The Tainted One is surrounded by a cloud of flies, which buzz around him and his combat opponent. They do not affect the Tainted One but distract foes by buzzing into eyes, nostrils and mouths. The Tainted One's close combat opponent suffers a -1 to hit modifier on all attacks.

Cost: 25 Gold Crowns

Bloated Foulness

The Tainted One is a huge, disgusting mass of diseased, flabby folds. It gains +1 Wound and +1 Toughness but has its Movement reduced by -1.

Cost: 40 Gold Crowns

Mark of Nurgle

The Tainted One is burned with the great mark of Nurgle, the three spheres, that weep foul pus constantly. It gains +1 Wound and is immune to all poisons.

Cost: 35 Gold Crowns

Hideous

The Tainted One is so disgusting that its flesh hangs in tatters from its body and its entrails are rotten and exposed. It causes Fear.

Cost: 40 Gold Crowns