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The Tome of Decay (2014), p87-91 — Pyurultide

"Subject 1379-a; this creature exhibits enlarged mandibles, powerful biting reflex, and becomes highly aggressive during vivisection. Would suggest subject pacification before next round of examinations."
— Magos Biologis Devran Saar, now called the Entomancer

Pyurultide hangs in the void like a suppurating wound, a pustulant boil amidst the stars, a blight in space even amongst the varied and terrible wonders of the Screaming Vortex. Clutched forever to Nurgle's rotting breast, Pyurultide stands as a shining example of his paternal love; a festering reminder to all who survey it of the inevitability of decay, the state to which all things must eventually pass.

The planet itself is wreathed in miasmal clouds of toxic vapour. Centuries of biological and chemical warfare by its decayed inhabitants have rendered the atmosphere near-lethal. While still barely breathable, prolonged exposure will spell death as surely as any conventional weapon. Certain areas of the surface are completely lethal. The various gases and corrosive compounds, having settled into pockets of lingering death, consume the unwary in mere moments. Beneath these poisonous clouds, the scars of Pyurultide's legacy of destruction cover its surface. A soup of mud and flesh, pulverised into a near liquid state by artillery bombardments, covers the planet. Rusting hulks of shattered tanks, APCs, and other war machines dot the morass like islands jutting out of a sea of rot. Abandoned earthworks and trench lines riddle the surface, snaking between ruined bunkers and twisted forests of rusting razorwire.

The Shining Cities

Nearer the centre of each continent, larger, more intact buildings begin to appear. The ruins of what once may have been cities emerge from the ever-present smog of pollutants and poison gases. These ruins stand in stark contrast to the rest of the planet's structures, showing a curious degree of artistry in the design. Soaring towers, now broken and blasted, speak of an ancient history that valued form over function. Wide boulevards and elegant plazas suggest that once a race of beings lived here that did not favour destruction but instead aspired to loftier goals of art and perfection. The impact craters and rotting bodies of the dead stand in mute testament that those days are long gone.

The Living Sea

Away from the ruined cities, with their enigmatic designs and centuries-old secrets, lurks another curiosity, one of an altogether more loathsome aspect. Pyurultide possesses no oceans. No vast expanses of water separate the continents and no briny depths fill the yawning voids between lands, instead a living mass washes against the various coasts: a sea of insects.

Clouds of foul, chitinous bodies, ceaseless trillions in number, writhe between the land masses. A teeming mass of life so huge as to be incomprehensible to normal minds, it crawls, flutters, and squirms in great tides across the face of the planet. The great swarms are completely inimical to life, comprised of countless species that bite, sting, saw, or spurt; they are capable of killing a human and stripping the flesh from bone in seconds. The various Pox Tribes that dwell on Pyurultide know to stay away from the coasts, but even distance is no guarantee of safety. On occasion, the vast living sea has swept inland, like a tsunami of creeping death. Engulfing any unlucky enough to be caught in its path, these hideous tidal waves of clicking mandibles and buzzing wings wreak unfathomable destruction, before losing cohesion and dissipating, often miles inland. Survivors emerging from their makeshift shelters find nothing but gore-splattered bones and countless billions of insect husks.

Despite the terrible fate that awaits any who approach the living sea, many foolhardy heretics have tried their luck at plumbing its depths. Rumours abound of lost relics, stable Warp gates and other great treasures languishing deep within the insect ocean. Pirate lords and aspiring champions of the Ruinous Powers speak of the fabled Tyrant's Cord and its legendary ties to the planet. Other, wiser minds instead talk of the mythical Daemon Hives, great spawning chambers of nightmarish proportions that constantly squirm with noisome life. Billions of larvae and pupae suckle blindly at the glistening nutrient pools before growing into foul adulthood and emerging into the swarm. But worse, they speak of the terrible hive centres where the colossal Queens nest, endlessly producing eggs to feed the never-ending sea, and guarded by thousands of drones and specially adapted soldier species.

The Pox Tribes

Despite its caustic atmosphere and deadly oceans, Pyurultide is not devoid of human life. In fact, it supports a population of similar size to most other planets in the Screaming Vortex and, similar to those planets, the Pox Tribes that live here have been forged in the crucible of suffering. Centuries ago, two distinct factions existed on Pyurultide, the ancestors of what would one day become the Pox Tribes and a race of beings now referred to as the Shining Ones. As with a great many mysteries of the Vortex, who or what the Shining Ones were and what became of them is lost, existing now only as myth and rumour. Many believe they were an ancient and now long-dead race similar to the Eldar, others that they were simply humans from a different part of the galaxy, drawn into the Vortex by the whim of the Ruinous Powers.

Whatever the truth, it is known that they were a technologically advanced race, possessing arms and equipment similar to that of the hated Imperium. It is widely believed they lived in the great cities at the centre of each continent; many Vortex scholars go so far as to attribute the construction of those cities to them as well. It is also known they warred with the degenerate Pox Tribes that lived further out towards the coasts.

The Pox Tribes long venerated Grandfather Nurgle, seeing his divine hand in the great living seas that plagued their every moment. They saw the elegant Shining Cities as an affront to Nurgle's putrid majesty. Uniting together, the tribes launched a vicious attack on their hated enemies. At first, the Shining Ones' technological superiority gave them a significant advantage. Against the simple weapons of the Pox Tribes they saw no real threat. But the Lord of Decay's blessing granted the Pox Tribes a monstrous durability. They were able to withstand the terrible injuries before succumbing, enduring the weapons of the Shining Ones, seemingly without pain or disability. Very soon, the Shining Ones were beginning to retreat. The Pox Tribes seized their fallen weapons and drove them deep inside the cities, exterminating them and bringing the beauteous towers to ruin. The final fate of the Shining Ones is unknown; many believe they were simply wiped out by the victorious Pox Tribes, but one theory suggests they survived by embracing the favour of the Fly Lord.

Following the victory over the Shining Ones, the Pox Tribes began to feud amongst themselves. A second war broke out as the once-unified Tribes broke apart, unable to coexist. This second war continues today, centuries later. The death toll is beyond counting, but this is no mindless slaughter like those perpetrated by the minions of the Blood God, nor is this a tactical masterwork of feint and counter with each side jostling for the advantage. The war on Pyurultide is a slow, inexorable march toward oblivion, a meat grinder where a thousand souls a day are cast aside so one army can move ten feet of trench line. The technology of the past is long gone, replaced with the most basic las and solid projectile weapons the Pox Tribes can scrounge together. Sometime past the tribes unleashed deadly viral and chemical weapons against each other in an attempt to gain an advantage. These awful creations, while pleasing to Grandfather Nurgle, have scarred the planet, resulting in the corrosive clouds of death that now shroud the planet.

Constant exposure to the caustic air, a lifetime of struggling stalemate, and Nurgle's own beneficent gifts have wreaked awful changes on the Tribes. Mutations of the most repellent kind are commonplace: suppurating sores, clawed limbs, twisted backs, and melted flesh adorn every tribesman. Many have become fused with their weapons and equipment, diseased flesh has grown over gas masks and trigger guards with a revolting fecundity. Many tribesmen have swollen to enormous size, becoming tumescent bulges of rotting flesh or towering monsters of claws and oozing muscle.

Amongst the most successful tribes, Blight Drones have begun to appear. The arrival of these foul Daemon Engines is a mystery, with many of the Pox Tribes believing it is a sign of Nurgle's favour, or of hidden Warp-infused manufactorums recently discovered. Whatever the truth, the Blight Drones move across the shattered landscape sowing revulsion and death wherever they pass. These Daemon-machine hybrids are of particular interest to one denizen of Pyurultide, a secretive figure of myth and fabrication known as the Entomancer.

The Master Collector

The creature now referred to as the Entomancer was once a respected and knowledgeable Magos Biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus called Devran Saar. Part of an Explorator fleet, he was tasked with cataloguing and classifying new species of flora and fauna during the Angevin Crusade. Absorbed with his work and freed from the petty concerns of morality and emotion, Saar excelled, successfully adding thousands of entries into the datavaults of his fleet. As the crusade pressed on and the Calixis Sector began to take shape, Saar's Explorator fleet grew too bold and voyaged beyond the Imperium's speartip. They encountered a devastating Warpstorm that ravaged the fleet, ripping vessels asunder and scattering the survivors across the length and breadth of the galaxy. Saar's deteriorating vessel limped back into realspace deep with the Screaming Vortex.

Swiftly caught by reavers, Saar was lucky to escape with his life, piloting one of the few remaining lifeboats away from his stricken ship and down toward the nearest planet, Pyurultide. Finding the planet to be entirely unsuitable for prolonged exposure, Saar sought refuge in a nearby ruined tower of strangely beautiful design. Over the next few days, Saar encountered soldiers of the various Pox Tribes as they fought their war without end. Saar slew several of them and used what little equipment he had left to rebuild them into servitors of a sort. Seeing these horrors, the Pox Tribes learned to avoid Saar's tower, cursing it as haunted or populated by angry Daemons. Fascinated by the tribesmen's mighty endurance and increased pain threshold, he began to study them as a new species.

Saar's life continued in this vein for some time until he encountered a tsunami of the Living Sea. The billions of insects he witnessed filled him with something akin to divine rapture; his mind snapped and he became obsessed with studying the Living Sea, attempting to catalogue every last species within.

Now centuries old, the entity that calls itself "the Entomancer" is quite mad. The entropic atmosphere of Pyurultide and the buckling effects of the Vortex itself have altered Saar's body and implants warping him into an odious conglomeration of man, machine, and insect. His obsessive desires have driven him to make dark pacts with dozens of minor Daemons and petty warlords across the Vortex in order to prolong his life and obtain specimens for study. Those who fail him are soon added to his ever-growing empire of mind-scrubbed automatons or, worse still, bait for the eternally hungry living sea.

The Tyrant's Cord

Game Masters in possession of the Black Crusade GM's Screen might be familiar with Pyurultide and its denizens, history, and links to the mythic artefact known as the Tyrant's Cord. The events of Rivals for Glory assume that the heretics did not immediately travel to Pyurultide following their successful acquisition of the Tyrant's Cord.

In addition to its various powers, the Tyrant's Cord is a symbol of profound significance to many of the Pox Tribes on Pyurultide. Once owned by the leaders of the Shining Ones, it bestowed upon them terrible allure and the ability to bend others to their wills, allowing them to dominate a huge portion of the planet. Following the war with the Pox Tribes and their eventual defeat, the Tyrant's Cord vanished; many of the defeated Shining Ones believed that it vanished during the war and led to their eventual downfall. Although they now are little more than ragged husks in service to a decayed and rotting master, they still remember on some instinctual level that they were not always as they are now.

If a Heretic were to return the Tyrant's Cord to Pyurultide, it could be the pebble that starts an avalanche. Thousands of the Pox Tribes would be drawn to its power. Many may remember their time before the defeat and the destruction of the Shining Cities, shaking off their malaise and returning to the worship of the Dark Prince. Others might remain true to Grandfather Nurgle but wish to follow the bearer of the cord nevertheless. A new chapter of the ongoing war could start, with the Heretics at its fore. Perhaps the Tyrant's Cord might grant its bearer some small measure of control over the Living Seas, able to direct the Tsunamis or parting its unfathomable depths to reveal the nightmare hives at its centre.

If the Heretics are able to use the Tyrant's Cord to unify Pyurultide's populace they stand to gain a huge if poorly-equipped army, one with centuries of experience and an unholy resistance to toxins and biological agents. They might ally with the Entomancer using their new found army to force his compliance or perhaps using their supernatural sway over the Living Seas to grant him unprecedented access to new research. With these weapons and the secrets of the Shining Cities and Nightmare Hives at their disposal the Heretics are taking their first steps towards beginning their own Black Crusade.

Soldiers of the Pox Tribes

Each of the Pox Tribes on the face of Pyurultide is different. Although united by their devotion to Grandfather Nurgle, each tribe is separated by their unique dedication to a particular, distinct contagion. The Tribes sport many loathsome mutations and, to outsiders, they are nigh-impossible to tell apart, but any scholar looking closer begins to notice certain repeating mutations or pattern of symptoms.

While all the tribes are abhorrent to look upon, one tribe might by bloated by corpse gas and another swollen by tumescent growths. Certain tribes are gifted with deadened, rotten flesh that never changes, while others continuously rot and regenerate in perpetuity. The tribes bear these unique gifts like totems, using them to differentiate each other, but they have also taken on religious significance, with tribes holding their exclusive symptoms to be the one true appearance of Nurgle. Believing this, the tribes make war on one another seeking to replace each other's infections with their own. To this end, each tribe has developed powerful and sinister biological weapons, distilled from their own vile excretions.

Although robbed of more advanced technology, the Pox Tribes are still capable of maintaining and constructing simple las and solid projectile weapons. Occasionally, a tribe discovers a functioning manufactorum or military forge from before the war allowing it to field tanks, artillery, and other larger scale weapons of war. The corrosive atmosphere of Pyurultide inevitably ruins these delicate machines, but for a time a tribe will make great gains in its tireless pursuit of the enemy.

Gifted with great and terrible endurance, a Pox Tribe soldier does not fall in battle easily. Pox Tribe soldiers are killers that many foes underestimate thanks to their incredible resilience. If ever the Pox Tribes could be unified, the Heretic who ruled them would be a force to be reckoned with indeed.

Pox Tribe Soldier of Pyurultide (Troop)

Movement: 1/2/3/6

Wounds: 17

Armour: Ragged bits of flak armour (3 All)

Total TB: 6

Skills: Awareness (Per) +10, Command (Fel), Common Lore (Pyurultide), Dodge (Ag), Intimidate (WP), Operate (Surface) (Ag), Parry (WS), Survival (Per) +10.

Talents: Combat Sense, Die Hard, Iron Jaw, Jaded, Resistance (Poison), Weapon Training (Las, Primary, Solid Projectile).

Traits: Unnatural Toughness (2).

Weapons: Battered Autogun (Basic; 100m; S/3/10; 1d10+2 I; Pen: 0; Clip 30; Rld Full; Noxious Discharge; Unreliable), or Corroded Lasgun (Basic; 100m; S/3/-; 1d10+3 E; Pen: 0; Clip 60; Rld Full; Ammo Glutton; Recharge), Rusted Bayonet (Melee; 1d5+3 R; Pen: 0; Toxic [1]), Blight Grenade (Thrown; 9m; S/-/-; 2d10 E; Pen: 0; Clip 1; Rld - ; Toxic [2]; Blast [6]).

Gear: Rotted clothing, filthy and decayed trinkets, one reload for primary weapon, 3 Blight Grenades.

Plague Ogryn of Pyurultide

The terrible conditions on Pyurultide have led to almost every inhabitant of the world sporting some manner of mutation. For most this is simply a sign of Father Nurgle's affection, a boon to be worn as a mark of pride. However, for others the Lord of Decay's gifts have changed their bodies so much they can no longer be considered men at all. Their bodies swollen to massive proportions, they tower over the other inhabitants of Pyurultide. Many sport terrible growths of cancerous flesh or huge swathes of dead, necrotised flesh that is impervious to pain. Others erupt into mountains of meat, festooned in tusks, filthy claws, and twisted, gnarled horns. Often, in a perverse discharge of life, these creatures will sprout additional limbs. Some are little more than atrophied stumps, withered and desiccated beyond use, more often though they are perfectly functional. Comprising glistening, raw flesh, they terminate in vicious claws or oozing, dripping orifices.

Although once human, these creatures have now become so common they are virtually a new race. As they bear a distant resemblance to the Ogryn species of abhuman, the Entomancer has designated them Plague Ogryns of Pyurultide, although the Pox Tribes call them simply Hulks or Brutes. Whether these abominations share a common ancestry with true Ogryns is impossible to determine, but has led to the Entomancer to begin research into Pyurultide's history before its emergence into the Vortex.

Plague Ogryn of Pyurultide (Elite)

Movement: 5/10/15/30

Wounds: 32

Armour: Diseased Flesh (2 All)

Total TB: 10

Skills: Intimidate (S) +10, Survival (Per).

Talents: Crushing Blow, Die Hard, Fearless, Iron Jaw, Resistance (Poison), Swift Attack, True Grit.

Traits: Brutal Charge (3), Deadly Natural Weapons, Fear (2), Multiple Arms (3), Regeneration (5), Size (6), Sturdy, Toxic (3), Unnatural Strength (4), Unnatural Toughness (5).

Weapons: Claws and Tusks (Melee; 1d10+10 R; Pen 0; Toxic [3]), Massive Club (Melee; 2d10+10 I; Pen 0; Unbalanced).

Gear: Tattered rags.

Dissection Record 83162-Gamma, Third Attempt (Specimen 3724-g, Mid-sized Drone)

Third attempt to determine source of specimen's abnormal toxicity begins. Removal of carapace progressing at 5% increased rate over second attempt. Improving at this. Must remember volatility of specimen's bile gland.

Bile gland now visible. Must Remember failure of second attempt. Exposure to air corroded all servitors in 7.77 metre radius. Attempting to remove gland now.

Punctured pouch again. All Servitors in 7.77 metre radius once again corroded. Will dispose. Again unharmed despite apparent toxicity. Will run autoanalysis protocols.

Must Remember. Failure is progress. Persistence is success. Fourth attempt to commence upon acquisition of specimens...

— The Entomancer

Blight Drone

Nightmarish flying creatures of hideous proportions and terrible intent, these horrific entities have begun to appear on Pyurultide. Poorly understood by the inhabitants of the world, the Pox Tribesmen believe them to be little more than an awful new form of creature spawned in the depths of the great Living Seas. But the truth is far more horrific.

Blight Drones are Daemon Engines, fuelled by the esoteric energies of the Warp. Appearing as an eerie jumble of insect, flying machine, and Daemon, a Blight Drone buzzes through the polluted skies of Pyurultide on rusted and decayed rotor blades. Often accompanied by vast swarms of "mundane" creatures drawn from the Living Sea, Blight Drones spread fear and death wherever they are found. These entities are known to attack any and all Pox Tribesmen they encounter. Tales of them disgorging awful, corrosive acids, and other, less identifiable fluids onto lone targets, and then settling over the remains to draw them up inside their protective body cases are rampant across the planet.

The Entomancer has become particularly fascinated by the Blight Drones and is eagerly seeking to determine where they have come from and, more importantly, why they have appeared.

Blight Drone (Elite)

Movement: 8/16/24/48

Wounds: 40

Armour: Machine (11 All)

Total TB: 16

Skills: Awareness (Per), Dodge (Ag) +10.

Talents: Blind Fighting, Two Weapon Wielder (Ballistic).

Traits: Auto-Stabilised, Daemon Engine (5), Explosion of Pus†, Fear (3), Flyer (8), Machine (11), Nurgle's Blessing††, Size (7), Toxic (4), Unnatural Toughness (5).

Weapons: Mawcannon Vomit (Heavy; 20m; S/-/-; 1d10+8 E; Pen: 5; Clip: -; Rld: -; Toxic [5]; Spray), Mawcannon Phlegm (Heavy; 200m; S/-/-; 3d10+8 E; Pen: 8; Clip: -; Rld: -; Blast [5], Toxic [3]), Reaper Autocannon (Heavy; 300m; S/4/-; 3d10+8 I; Pen: 6; Clip: -; Rld: -: Reliable; Twin-Linked).

†Explosion of Pus: When a Blight Drone is destroyed, it explodes in a shower of rancid filth and pus. In addition to any other effects generated by Table 3-9: Daemon Engine Critical Hit Chart (see page 96), any characters within 7 metres of the Blight Drone when it is destroyed must make a Hard (-20) Agility Test or suffer 3d10+8 Energy Damage with the Corrosive, Irradiated (2), and Toxic (2) Qualities.

††Nurgle's Blessing: A Blight Drone is a Daemon Engine of Nurgle, and is always Aligned to Nurgle.

The Entomancer

Devran Saar has ever been obsessed with life in all its forms. From microbiological organisms and bacteria to massive reptilian and mammalian herd creatures and everything between them. His fascination with life, coupled with his Adeptus Mechanicus background, swiftly led to his ascension to Magos Biologis and his appointment within the Explorator Fleets. It was this self-same fascination that has led to his current predicament.

Trapped on an alien world, cut off from the Imperium, and surrounded on all sides by disease-ridden warmongers and undying soldiers fixated with poisoning the world, his mind snapped and his fascination became obsession. Now consumed with studying the countless denizens of the Living Seas, he conducts a campaign of subjugation against the nearby Pox Tribes, forcing them into acquiring species for him to study and transforming them into unthinking automata when they fail.

Long past the point of sanity or redemption, the Entomancer now resembles an upright insect himself. His once precious Mechanicus Implants have distorted into prehensile sensory organs, twitching mandibles, multifaceted lenses, and grotesque wings. His movements, once deliberate and focussed, have become the nervous, blinking tics of a hunting insect. Still his mind strives to complete his work and every day leads to a new catalogue entry in his ever-expanding library, even as what remains of his humanity slips away into an inevitable series of impulses and nervous tics.

The Entomancer (Master)

Movement: 2/4/6/12

Wounds: 29

Armour: Implants (5 All)

Total TB: 7

Skills: Awareness (Per), Command (Fel), Common Lore (Int) (Adeptus Mechanicus, Tech) +20, Common Lore (Screaming Vortex), Deceive (Fel), Forbidden Lore (Int) (Adeptus Mechanicus, Mutants) +20, Forbidden Lore (Int) (Daemonology, The Warp, Xenos), Inquiry (Fel) +10, Interrogation (WP) +20, Linguistics (Int), Logic (Int) +20, Medicae (Int) +20, Operate (Surface) (Ag), Parry (WS) +10, Scholastic Lore (Int) (Beasts, Legend, Pyurultide Life Forms) +20, Scholastic Lore (Int) (Chymistry, Occult), Scrutiny (Per), Security (Int) +10, Survival (Per) +10, Tech-Use (Int) +20, Trade (Explorator) +20.

Talents: Ambidextrous, Baleful Dirge, Cold Hearted, Die Hard, Disturbing Voice, Ferric Summons, Independent Targeting, Iron Jaw, Jaded, Luminen Blast, Luminen Shock, Master Chirurgeon, Mechadendrite Use (Utility, Weapon), Prosanguine, Technical Knock, Two Weapon Wielder (Ballistic), Weapon Tech, Weapon Training (Bolt, Las, Plasma, Primary, Power, Shock).

Traits: Mechanicus Implants, Master of the Machine Hive†, Unnatural Toughness (2).

†Master of the Machine Hive: As a Full Action, the Entomancer can fall forth swarms of seething technosites that drain the energy from machines and corrode all technology. For the next 1d5 Rounds, the Ranged weapons of each enemy within 49 metres Jam on Ballistic Skill Test result that contains a 7 (in addition to the usual values for which they would Jam). Weapons that Jam this way become corroded, and cannot be used until repaired with a Hard (-20) Tech-Use Test that requires 1d5 Rounds to complete.

Weapons: Ballistic Mechandendrite (Bolt) (Pistol; 15m; S/2/-; 1d10+4 X; Pen: 4; Clip: 4; Rld: Full; Tearing), Plasma Pistol (Pistol; 40m; S/2/-; 1d10+7 E; Pen: 8; Clip: 10; Rld: 3 Full; Maximal; Overheats), Venomous Power Axe (Melee; 1d10+11 E; Pen: 6; Power Field; Unbalanced; Toxic [7]).

Gear: Ballistic Mechadendrite (Bolt), Bionic Respiratory System, Black Blood, Blade Tines, Good Quality Cybernetic Eyes, Ferric Lure Implants, Luminen Capacitor, Manipulator Mechadendrite, Medicae Mechadendrite, Optical Mechadendrite, Utility Mechandendrite.