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The Tome of Decay (2014), p17 — Servants of the Great Paradox


Plague cults are groups of relatively powerless individuals banding together in order to venerate Nurgle in any small way they can. Warbands have no such insignificant mortals diluting their memberships. They are comprised of some of the greatest warriors, the keenest tacticians, and the most creatively gifted mortal minions of Nurgle. Unlike plague cults, warbands of Nurgle likely already have his attention. Many members are Chaos Space Marines who will have received blessings from their master long ago. Common purpose and the power to act motivate warbands to achieve greatness in the name of the Plaguefather. Much distinguishes a warband from a plague cult, but one of the greatest distinctions they have is that they do not hide. With power, strength, will, and the many gifts of Nurgle they possess, there simply is no need.

It is not hard to imagine why a Chaos Space Marine might leave his brothers behind. Loyalty and self-sacrifice are not hallmarks of the lost and the damned. Service to Nurgle can take its toll on even the most dedicated of followers. Advanced mutation, loss of mobility, or even fanatical devotion beyond those of his fellows can leave a Plague Marine unable to function as an effective member of his squad. Sometimes his only option is to break from his squad-mates and continue to befoul the galaxy on his own. Isolation, however, is at odds with the communal nature of Nurgle. Loneliness festers in the heart of a Plague Marine or other Chaos Space Marine that has left his Legion, and Grandfather Nurgle is often moved to reach out to a wayward follower in such a position. The warrior hears the kindly laughter of his master on the cosmic winds and pursues the joyful noise. Once the mirthful trail is followed to its end, the blighted soul gives thanks to his caring God, for more often than not he arrives to find a fellowship of others whose faith and dedication to Nurgle left them in similar straits. Together, the warband forms something of a travelling cavalcade of mirth and rot, freed from the structures imposed by the organisation of their Legion and accepted by one another as exemplars of all that Nurgle teaches.

These warbands can accomplish much that a plague cult or Legion of Chaos Space Marines cannot. Examples of the fruits of such ambitions abound. The great rivers of pus that flowed from the volcano on Grenetus Major were the doing of Yorgol's Vomitmaws when the small warband passed the planet's defences undetected and delivered a pox-blessing from Nurgle's own cauldrons into the erupting mountain. Because they were free to act according to their own plans, the members of the Brotherhood of Unclean Mercy were able to seize upon an opportunity of random chance and infect the entire store of supplies in a passing merchant fleet. Thus enhanced, the cargo spread the Stenchgut Plague to an entire continent on Xurunt. These are but a few of the many deeds warbands of Nurgle have carried out in his name. Positioned perfectly between the nuisance activities of localised plague cults and the massive galaxy-spanning campaigns of corruption of the Death Guard, the actions of a warband of Nurgle serve the ends of the Lord of Decay perfectly - a fact in which their members take great solace and joy.