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Plague Legions

In the Warhammer 40,000 setting, the Plague Legions are the many and vast armies of daemons that serve Father Nurgle.

Specific examples of individual legions include: the Septicus Legion.

Codex: Chaos Daemons (2018)

Codex: Chaos Daemons (2018), p20 — The Plague Legions

To those subjected to their loathsome assaults, the legions of Nurgle seem like an amorphous mass, but amidst the shambling anarchy there is purpose and design. Like the stages of the diseases they carry, each Plague Legion is part of an overarching cycle of fecundity and decay, and exists only to see Nurgle's garden flourish and his gifts bestowed.

From the Garden of Nurgle lumber the Plague Legions, the dreaded armies of the Great Corrupter. When they go to war, be it in the Realm of Chaos or realspace, they bring the boundless generosity of their master and the products of his endless labours with them, and leave contagion, anguish and death in their wake.

All Plague Legions are Nurgle's creations, and so carry pestilence and propagate their master's foul will, yet each is associated with specific stages of the Fly Lord's cycle of decay and regeneration. The Fecundus Legions are tasked with the making of diseases; it is they that travel across reality and unreality to gather the raw ingredients that will be added to the cauldron of their foul god, and the worst ills suffered by the mortal races can be attributed to their diligence. The Infecticus Legions are the harbingers of infection, the carriers of new diseases that lay the groundwork for the greater virulence to follow. The Pathogenus Legions are disease fully bloomed, sickness made manifest, the very height of contagion; they are equally capable in both attack or defence, and will be often be deployed to guard key sites within Nurgle's garden or spearhead an assault. The Epidemic Legions contain the most Daemons, for they expand, proliferate, and regenerate; it is they that spread outwards, ensuring initial gains turn into rampaging outbreaks. The Rot Legions revel in decay, their festering powers and potent blessings able to break down anything; more than any other legion, their presence cultivates the ground for the Garden of Nurgle to spread. The Morbidus Legions are the reapers, the tolltakers, and the bringers of death. The Necroticus Legions are the most resilient; they use hopelessness and despair as a weapon, and can absorb terrific punishments. And on it goes, each of the legions specialising in some grotesque aspect of Nurgle's cycle of birth, decay, death and rebirth.

Each Plague Legion is led by a Great Unclean One, a Greater Daemon of Nurgle that acts as its general. They dote over their charges in the manner of a loving parent, cajoling each of their Plague Legion's seven Tallybands upon its appointed tasks. Ever eccentric, Nurgle encourages the same aberrations amongst the most powerful of his shepherds. These unusual traits go as far towards colouring the composition and tactics of the army they lead as does the legion type itself. Some Great Unclean Ones, for example, favour entirely airborne assaults, going to battle with clouds of Plague Drones that darken the skies and excel at aerial strikes. Others enjoy seeing their victims buried in slavering Beasts of Nurgle, or ground slowly into the dirt by wave after wave of mumbling Plaguebearers.

Great Unclean Ones cycle through phases over the course of their immortal lifespans, assuming new mantles with each new legion they take command of; for example, they may lead an Epidemic Legion to spread diseases before moving on to command a Rot Legion in order to bask in such maladies. When the cycle nears its end, a Great Unclean one will scab over with necrotic patches, and in his state of advanced decay will lord over a Necroticus Legion. It is not long before his body will shed the rotting husk of its old skin to reveal the new blooms of fresh disease, and it is then he will once again lead a Fecundus Legion.

Beneath the Great Unclean One are the leaders of the Tallybands, either Daemon Princes or daemonic Heralds such as Poxbringers, Sloppity Bilepipers and Spoilpox Scriveners. Each receives a grandiloquent title of the general's invention, selected to match the bearer's skills, proclivities, or war tasks. Examples include the Lords of Fulsome Filth, the Almighty Bringer of Rancid Decay, or the Sloptoxic Master of Bubbling Buboes.

The Tallybands can vary in size, swelling to epidemic proportions as Nurgle's power waxes or contracting into small, elite warbands when it wanes. At its peak, however, a Tallyband is composed of seven packs of the Lesser Daemons known as Plaguebearers or Plague Drones. Depending upon the predilections of its leader, and the ebb and flow of the cycle, a Tallyband may also include Beasts of Nurgle or swarms of Nurglings, although such anarchic beasts rarely remain with the formation beyond the duration of a battle.