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White Dwarf 119 (1989-11)

This issue previews the content from Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned, with a full nine pages covering Nurgle and his daemonic servants:

p18 — Nurgle

Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay. He is also the Lord of All, because all things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to physical corruption. Indeed, the very processes of construction and creation foreshadow destruction and decay. The palace of today is tomorrow's ruin, the maiden of the morning is the crone of the night, and the hope of a moment is but the foundation stone of everlasting regret.

What is the response of living men to this undeniable and inevitable futility of life? Is it to lie down and accept death and the coming to nought of every endeavour! No it is not! Faced with the inevitability of death what answer can there be but to run through life at a breakneck pace, cramming each day with hope, laughter, noise and bustle? Thus, happiness and human endeavour are sired by a coming to terms with decay and futility. This realisation is the key to understanding the Great Lord of Decay and his worshippers.

Once we comprehend what it is that the Chaos Power Nurgle embodies, it becomes easier to understand what might otherwise seem a contradictory or even perverse nature. On the one hand he is the Lord of Decay, his body wracked with disease; on the other he is full of unexpected energy and a desire to organise and enlighten.

The living know they will die, and many know that they will live with disease or other torment, yet they drive this knowledge into a corner of their minds and keep it pinioned there with all manner of dreams and activity. Nurgle is the embodiment of that knowledge and of the unconscious response to it, of the hidden fear of disease and decay, and of the power of life which that fear generates.

Nurgle is the eternal enemy of the Chaos Power Tzeentch. Nurgle and Tzeentch draw their energy from opposing beliefs. Whereas the energy of Tzeentch comes from hope and changing fortune, that of Nurgle comes from defiance born of despair and hopelessness. The two Great Powers never lose an opportunity to pit their forces against each other.

Father Nurgle

Father Nurgle nurtures his children

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.


p26 — Plaguebearers

Lesser Daemons of Nurgle (Aghkam'ghran'ngi)

Plaguebearers, Tainted Ones, Maggotkin, Rotbearers, Nurgle's Tallymen

Nurgle's gift to the world is Nurgle's Rot, a progressive disease combining the worse qualities of all the plagues that infest the living. It is a curse that is all the more horrible because it does not end with death, for it is a contagion of daemonic and not mortal kind, and it infests the soul as well as the body. When a mortal dies of Nurgle's Rot his soul is forfeit to Nurgle, and from that soul-stuff Nurgle fashions his Lesser Daemons the Plaguebearers. It is specifically to avoid this fate that many sufferers of the Rot undertake death quests, hoping for a clean and mortal end by this means.

The Plaguebearer carries the marks of Nurgle's Rot throughout eternity. Its skin is tinged with green or the colour of mud, running sores cover its whole body, pus and blood run continuously from its single eye, and unmentionable filth cakes its clawed hands and feet. It is the Plaguebearer's everlasting role to organise and herd the daemonic forces of Nurgle, to keep stock of the diseases, to allocate appropriate fates to each new victim, and to try and keep order amongst what is a naturally chaotic horde. Just as the living attempt in vain to impose order and meaning upon their lives, so the Plaguebearers' task is an impossible one. This is most obviously characterised by the constant counting as they try to calculate the ever changing needs and aims of their master. The Plaguebearer's voice is a deep, bass monotone. The multitude of Plaguebearers all counting at once produces a sound so sonorous and penetrating that unsecured objects will vibrate in an unholy harmony. The counting of the Plaguebearers achieves very little because it is impossible to count anything amidst such chaos; however, this in no way discourages their efforts. They are the daemonic embodiment of the need of the living to impose meaning upon a meaningless and uncaring world.


Alignment: Chaos (Nurgle).

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

Magic: A unit of Plaguebearers has 1 randomly determined level 1 spell for every Daemon in the unit. A normal unit of 7 will therefore have 7 spells.

Magic Items: A Plaguebearer may carry a randomly generated Chaos Weapon instead of its Plaguesword.

Special Rules: A Plaguebearer has 1 gore attack and 1 weapon attack with its Plaguesword. The Plaguebearer also receives an additional gore attack from its horn in the turn in which it charges into close combat. Horn attacks are resolved with a +2 to hit bonus.

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

Plaguebearers are surrounded by a cloud of flies which buzz around them and their combat opponent. They do not affect the Plaguebearer, but they distract its foe by buzzing into his mouth, nostrils and eyes. A Plaguebearer's close combat opponent therefore suffers a -1 to hit modifier on all his attacks.

The Plaguebearer's toughened necrotic skin and mass of body-slime gives him a D6 saving throw of 6 against damage.

WFRP - the Plaguebearer has 1 armour point on all hit locations.

WFRP - the body-slime of a Plaguebearer is a deadly poison combining the effects of Manbane, Elfbane, Blackroot and Beastbane. Any opponent damaged by a Plaguebearer gore or Plaguesword attack will suffer from infected wounds.

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p27 — Nurglings

Daemonic Servants of Nurgle (Khan'gurani'i)

Nurglings, Mites of Nurgle, Sourspawn, Pus Spores

The rotted bowels of the Great Unclean Ones swell with pus and contagion, and within each swelling there grows a tiny and malevolent Daemon called a Nurgling. As the Nurgling matures it feeds upon the filth of the Great Unclean One and eventually pops out, the very personification (or daemonification) of a boil or pustule. In this sense, Nurglings really are the children of the Great Unclean Ones. Perhaps this is why the Greater Daemons take such parental pride in the little creatures, allowing them to suckle upon their sores, and petting them affectionately. However, this does not prevent the proud parent squashing its progeny underfoot, or gobbling one or two up in a moment of impulsive peckishness.

Nurglings may also grow from the pus shed by a Great Unclean One as it moves. Such pus hides in little sticky pockets in the ground. When a mortal steps upon it, the foulness enters his body, making its way into his gut. There the Nurgling encysts and develops until it is ready to emerge. As the Nurgling approaches maturity, its obscene cries may be heard from within the victim's abdomen, insulting anyone and everyone nearby. When ready, the Nurgling climbs through the alimentary canal and leaves its host by one or other end. It is then free to flock with others of its kind or to take up residence in some household cess pit, rubbish pile or other equally unpleasant place. They have a naturally malicious but sociable nature and like to hang around Human settlements if they cannot find other of their kind. They enjoy stealing small but precious objects, turning milk sour, and perpetrating misdeeds of that sort. Nurglings always remember their parent Human with affection, and periodically creep back to bestow their gratitude in the form of a crop of boils or some interesting disease.

Nurglings are miniature images of Nurgle himself: tiny bloated green bodies whose limbs are often distorted or disproportionate. They are gregarious, agile and constantly active. Normally they swarm over the body of a Great Unclean One, picking at his skin, squealing with pleasure if their master favours them with a tit-bit or a caress, otherwise squabbling amongst themselves over the most comfortable recesses of the Great Unclean One's carcass. When faced with an enemy they advance in a furious little swarm, clawing and gnawing at their foe's legs, biting his ankles and licking at any interesting sores or abrasions they discover. Their tiny teeth are sharp as razors, and leave festering little bites upon their victims, but rarely kill them outright.


Alignment: Chaos (Nurgle).

Special Psychological Traits: Hates and subject to frenzy against all Daemons and Champions of Tzeentch. Otherwise standard for Daemonic Servants.

Special Rules: Nurglings are mounted on a 40 x 40mm base in groups of up to nine models. Each base is treated as a single model with several Wounds and Attacks, in exactly the same way as a base of Snotlings. Nurglings have bite attacks.

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

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p28 — Beasts

Creatures of Nurgle (Gu'nagh'ghyran)

The Beasts, Slime Hounds, Nurgle's Lapdogs

The Beast of Nurgle looks like some horrendous mish-mash of creatures. It has the soft and sticky body of a pale brown slug, webbed feet that flap uselessly, a face of writhing green tentacles, and a whiptail growth that bursts from its back and which wags constantly from side to side. The Beast is no less deadly than it is ugly, for its touch causes paralysis and its slimy secretions rot everything they cover. The very proximity of a Beast is sufficient to kill small animals and plants, and even larger creatures may age and decay noticeably in its presence. The Beast is the very embodiment of decay.

Despite its fearsome appearance and deadly attributes, the Beast is a friendly and effectionate creature behaving in all respects like an over-friendly and easily excited puppy. It craves attention, greeting newcomers by slobbering all over them with its slimy tentacles. Once they get thoroughly worked up they can rarely if ever contain themselves and leave little puddles of acrid slime behind them. All this attention is not a problem to other creatures of Nurgle, but tends to kill mortals fairly rapidly. Once the Beast's new friend stops moving, its interest quickly shifts to another target, and in this way the creature excitedly and lovingly kills and destroys just about everything it touches. As the Beast has only the most rudimentary sense of intelligence it never anticipates the result of its friendly behaviour, and registers only a slight sense of disappointment as each new playmate goes all still and boring.

In battle the Beasts bound all over the place in their eagerness to meet new friends, constantly rolling over and inviting the Plaguebearers to scratch their backs and pop their pustules. The Plaguebearers try to maintain order, encouraging the Beasts to move in certain directions or to attack or hold back as appropriate. As the administrators and leaders of the Nurgle horde, the Plaguebearers are seen by the Beasts as their masters and special friends. Beasts are intensely loyal creatures and always eager to please, so they usually attach themselves unshakeably to a particular Plaguebearer.

The Beasts

Alignment: Chaos (Nurgle).

Special Psychological Traits: Beasts fear troops bearing fire and attacks by flaming missiles. They are otherwise completely immune to psychology.

Special Rules: The Beast attacks models directly to its front with D6 sucker strikes. Suckers secrete a paralysing mucus which seeps through armour, so an opponent's armour saving throw is ignored. If a model is hit by one or more sucker attacks during combat a D6 is rolled for each hit; if the total score is greater than the target's Toughness the model is paralysed. Paralysed victims are immediately grasped by the Beast's single tentacle. Paralysed victims are carried in this manner so that they can be eaten once the fighting is over or playfully presented as an offering to a Plaguebearer. If a Beast is slain it will release its victims, but they remain paralysed for several hours. WFB and WH40K players should remove paralysed models as casualties during the game.

As the Beast moves along the ground it leaves a slimy trail like a slug or snail. Contact with this slime whilst it is fresh causes Nurgle's Rot. Any model directly behind and within 4" of the Beast is adjudged to have stepped in or touched the slime trail.

Any creature engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a Beast also risks catching Nurgle's Rot.

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Beast of Nurgle

The entirety of page 45 is devoted to 'Eavy Metal painted Skaven miniatures. This includes a Clan Pestilens plague censer bearer and Clan Pestilens plague monk.

Pages 65 to 69 expound on Skaven in great detail, discussing their history, geography, society, appearance, approach to war, and warpstone with its uses in various items of equipment.