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Mark of the Xenos (2011), p121-122 — Plague Marines

A Space Marine's body is hardened against every conceivable form of attack, not least against deadly biological weapons and engineered plagues of all kinds. Nonetheless a Space Marine can be laid low by certain warp-spawned infections and diseases, their fantastic constitution betraying them and trapping them in a fevered nightmare between life and death. Lingering in the wracking torture of their own ravaged bodies can force even a Battle-Brother's resolve to weaken enough to make him cry out to the Chaos God Nurgle, the Plague Lord, for succour.

Amongst the most dedicated followers of this debased cult are the Chaos Space Marines of the Death Guard Legion, who fell to Nurgle in the dark days of the Horus Heresy, trapped aboard their ships in the warp as unnatural diseases ravaged their ranks. Over the centuries many other Chaos Space Marines have had cause to dedicate themselves to the Great Corruptor as they stood at the threshold of death. The Maggot Lord welcomes all his children with open arms, instilling in them a kind of morbid energy that is terrible to behold.

Plague Marines are Chaos Space Marines that have dedicated themselves completely to Nurgle. They are greatly beloved of the Lord of Pestilence. Few mortal beings have sufficient vitality to bear the full weight of the many blessings that Nurgle bestows, but the toughened flesh of a Chaos Space Marine is almost limitless in its capacity for the most deadly parasites and plagues. A lone Plague Marine can carry literally thousands of known and unknown viruses and bacteria to infect the battlefield, their bellies churning with maggots, worms and other foul putrescence.

Plague Marines are easy to recognise by their rotted appearance and stink of decay. Dark clouds of flies buzz and swirl all around them as they hobble forward on twisted limbs. Their armour and weapons are pitted and corroded, disgustingly slick with the slime and ooze that drips from pocked carapaces covered in sores. Many Plague Marines appear bloated with distended organs poking out through rents in their armour, their limbs deformed by parasites and disease.

Despite their rotting appearance, Plague Marines are truly fearsome opponents. Their strength is undiminished and, through the blessings of Nurgle, their decaying brains are completely inured to the agony of their physical corruption. In battle this makes them virtually unstoppable as they are all but immune to the pain inflicted by the most terrible wounds in their deadened flesh.

The Plague Marines of Nurgle are armed with rusty, filth-encrusted weapons blessed with some of the Lord of Decay's most virulent diseases. A wound inflicted by a Plague Marine's weapon will fester and become gangrenous within seconds, poisoning the victim's blood and rotting away their flesh. Their bolter rounds carry payloads of virulent pus and infected bone; the teeth of their chainswords are ripped from the mouths of plague victims.

Even the noisome clouds of flies that follow Plague Marines everywhere are a hazard in their own right. The warp-spawned pests swarm across faceplates, clog respirators and bite at exposed flesh unmercifully as if commanded by a sinister volition. A battleground fought over by Plague Marines quickly becomes a toxic wasteland that can be deadly for years to come. A thorough purgation with flamers is recommended in any area where Plague Marines have been present.

Plague Marine (Elite) Profile

Move: 5/10/15/30

Wounds: 36

Skills: Awareness (Per), Command (Fel) +10, Dodge (Ag), Forbidden Lore (Daemons, Warp) (Int), Intimidate (S) +20, Literacy (Int), Speak Language (Low Gothic) (Int), Survival (Int), Swim (S).

Talents: Astartes Weapon Training, Crippling Strike, Fearless, Hatred (Loyalist Space Marines), Heightened Senses (Sight, Sound, Touch), Jaded, Quick Draw, Rapid Reload, Swift Attack.

Traits: Dark Sight, Fear 2 (Frightening), Size (Hulking), Stuff of Nightmares, Toxic (1d10)†, Unnatural Strength (x2), Unnatural Toughness (x3).

Armour: Astartes power armour (Head 8, Arms 8, Body 10, Legs 8).

Weapons: Astartes Chainsword (1d10+14 R; Pen 4; Balanced, Tearing), Astartes Bolt Pistol (30m; S/3/-; 2d10+5 X; Pen 5; Clip12; Reload Full; Tearing), Astartes Bolter (100m; S/3/-; 2d10+5 X; Pen 5; Clip 28; Reload Full; Tearing), Plague Knife (1d10+10 R; Pen 2; Toxic).

Gear: 2 bolt pistol magazines, 4 bolter magazines, 3 Blight grenades.

Special Rules

Cloud of Flies: All those within 5 metres take a -10 penalty to Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill Tests as choking clouds of buzzing, biting flies attack every exposed inch of flesh.

†Toxic (1d10): This Trait applies to all Plague Marine attacks including ranged ones.

Adventure Seeds

Ritual: Epidemics have been ravaging a hive world, killing billions and turning millions more into plague zombies. Adepts have narrowed the source of the diseases to a region of the underhive previously thought too toxic to sustain life. A warband of Plague Marines and their disease riddled supplicants are holding court there, preparing a ritual to summon a Great Unclean One, a Greater Daemon of Nurgle, to complete the ruin of the world.

Plague Raid: A pious gathering of Imperial faithful on a Shrine world is being targeted by Plague Marines determined to shame the false Emperor and show His followers how poorly they are protected. They plan to attack in a sudden raid and unleash horrifying diseases into the multitudes of pilgrims before they can be stopped. Once the blessings of Nurgle have been duly dispensed, the Plague Marines can then withdraw and let the epidemic do its work. If the Plague Marines can't be intercepted, untold thousands will be consigned to grisly deaths.

Epidemic: Outbreaks of a deadly and virulent disease that is wiping out crews on ships and way stations can be traced back to xenos traders. The traders are selling artefacts which have no ill effect on xenos, but carry a contagion lethal to humans. Tracing the artefacts to their source reveals them to be manufactured by a Plague Marine coven in wilderness space. Eliminating the xenos traders is essential of course, but tracking down the Traitor Space Marines has an even higher priority. Can the Kill-team conquer their natural instincts long enough to pursue the true threat?

Addendum by Codicier Taelon

Truly the deadly virulence of Plague Marines is perhaps the most insidious weapon in their arsenal. Consider this report culled from the log of the Rogue Trader Evar Worak, found when his vessel, the Summer Reign, was boarded after being found adrift.


As we passed outsystem from Heraklion, an unknown ship was spied on the augur scopes and I ordered full speed as a precaution. Sure enough the newcomer fell in with us and set an intercepting course. It was big, a renegade ship by her rig and certainly too large for us to fight. I altered course to slide past her before she could trap us insystem and we started to outstrip her. Seeing this, the renegades loosed a brace of torpedoes after us, seemingly a pointless gesture but as I altered course again to avoid their tracks, the weapons came about themselves and followed!

We fled before them, twisting and turning but the seemingly implacable devices relentlessly closed the distance. Seeing the inevitable conclusion to the race I brought us broadside and let fly at the things. Though the batteries shredded one torpedo, the other one bored on through the barrage and the close-in turret fire, to sink itself in the flank of my beautiful ship. A boarding torpedo of course, and we fought like devils to keep the enemy away from the engine rooms. We had to fight like devils because what came out of that torpedo was surely spawned by daemons. Monstrous, putrid things they were, shaped like Space Marines but filled with an indescribable foulness. Wherever their weapons struck, men fell shrieking, black veins of corruption spreading through their bodies before our very eyes.

Our weapons seemed to barely harm them, blasts and bolts sinking harmlessly into flesh and armour that had become a twisted amalgam of both. But we outnumbered them many times over and through bloodshed and sacrifice we dragged them down one by one, though each might cost us a hundred. We slew them all, burned the bodies and cast them out of the 'locks, but now I fear it was not enough.

We outran the renegade ship, but some taint has been placed upon our own. The crew are falling to disease, more of them by each hour and the chirurgeons are helpless to prevent it. Emperor protect us.