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The Achilus Assault

p88 — Venkrous

Once a lush and beautiful Agri-world, Venkrous was the primary producer of most large grains for the Jericho Sector. Now twisted and warped by the rotting touch of Nurgle, Venkrous produces plants that are used to create vile poisons and hallucinogenic drugs. Wanting to create a planet more to his liking, the Plague Father pushed the land masses together until they created three continents where once there were nine. The next step that he took was to move the clouds out of the way so that all could look upon the glory of this creation. The clouds were moved towards the poles and turned a shade of pink so as not to distract the eye from the crowning achievement. The seas themselves, once a beautiful shade of blue, now run green with pus. Any wildlife that survived the change found itself mutated into strange new forms that spread the unholy plague to every corner of the planet.

The human population of the planet was hit hardest of all. Those that staunchly refused Grandfather Nurgle's pestilent embrace were the lucky ones. They were merely executed, while those that quickly turned their worship to the Great Diseased One found themselves rewarded with a form of leprosy. Their limbs would quickly atrophy and die off over a period of seven days, but on the eighth day, the limbs that were lost would begin to grow back. The cycle repeats for eight months out of the year, but in the ninth month, the regeneration does not stop at simply regrowing the lost limbs. During that month, the limbs become bloated and grotesque mockeries of what they once were, until the last day of the month when they mercifully explode, spreading the plague amongst any who have not been gifted with it.

Daemon Prince Mephidast the Plaguereaver

p95-98 — Daemon Prince Mephidast the Plaguereaver

"I was content to spread my Father's Blessings across these stars with rust and decay, but you now grow into many and try my patience. You did not spawn here and I insist on learning from where your trails led. There must be even more of you there, and they too need to embrace my art."
— Intercepted Vox Transmission during the Third Battle for the Amaros. Recording now under Inquisitorial Seal.

Deep in the Hadex Anomaly, he squats on a litter of rotted bones held together by decaying sinew, the foul chair creaking with his massive bulk. His chosen Moulders support this palanquin with effort, their dead eyes dripping yellow liquids but never revealing the strain. Plague toads croak in delight with their master, dragging their bloated bodies in slimy trails. Multitudes of Nurglings energetically dance in his name until collapsing, continually replaced as more grow out of the pools of filth surrounding his throne. Plague Marines stand ready to defend him, their souls bartered away millennia ago in his service. The great hall is filled with the scent of rot and the sounds of his worshippers crying their admiration and devotion. His entire daemon world drifts through the Anomaly at his whim. He is the carrion master of the art of decay, and once he was content.

But of recent years he has become first curious, then irritated, and now obsessed. His True Name is a secret none have uncovered and lived, but he is called, cursed, and worshipped as Mephidast the Plaguereaver, Daemon Prince of Necrosia and Artisan of the Thousand Thousand Plagues. He is the Carrier of the Sacred Tides, his mighty warhost of untold frenzied cultists, legions of pestilence daemons, and even the awesome might of Chaos Space Marines. In his name entire worlds have slowly fallen to putrification, all part of his grand design. There are new forces in his domain however, those who would undo the long centuries of his careful art. His golden view of beautiful decay spreading across this quiet region like a stain growing on an unblemished cloth, his glorious opus to be etched across the sector, is now opposed. More and more he is convinced they are opponents to his canvas, and more and more discovering their secrets possesses even his already damned soul.

Eternal Hate

Mephidast has earned a particular enmity with the Inquisition; agents of the Ordo Malleus have battled him on a number of occasions, and the Daemon Prince has nearly always been forced to retreat from such confrontations. He burns for revenge against the Inquisitors and their allies, and thus he has a special interest in threatening the efforts of Deathwatch Kill-teams in the Cellebos Warzone.

There is a special data-vault set aside at Watch Fortress Erioch filled with reports, rumours, and forbidden lore about the Daemon Princes of the Hadex Anomaly, and amongst them, Mephidast is one of the most infamous. His plaguesword has reaped a bloody tally of Battle-Brothers since his appearance in the region.

A Boy Becomes a Monster, a Monster Becomes a Daemon

The legends say he was born of mortal flesh centuries ago on a vessel seeking refuge from the calamitous eruptions engulfing Verronus. Ominous flickerings in the Gellar Field heralded his birth, but otherwise his was a benign childhood spent amongst the agrarian folk where his familial tribes settled to. As he grew so did reports too foul to ignore of mutilated carcasses, and blighted crops. He claimed to be practising as a medicae, but these excuses met with hostility, and after he poisoned a local gathering festival, he was finally locked away in the depths of a primitive dungeon. It was here that he found what he truly desired - an appreciative patron.

Endless time passed as his soul stared inwards and grew rancid as his cell. He had only himself to amuse, and began to scrawl diagrams on the walls from his imagination, drawing on thoughts not totally of his own. Shapes of unnatural angles and runic glyphs of profane languages were traced out in the unclean liquids and filth around him, blood and bile and other substances marking patterns that seemed just outside his comprehension. His body grew gaunt and tough as skin turned to leather, his hair falling away in strawlike threads, yet his devotion somehow began nourishing his unhealthy body. Over time, the influence of his corruptive nature rotted away the bars of his cell into decrepit rust. He was free to contaminate and blight the land at will, and he set to doing so gleefully.

In a day, the first victims fell ill. In a week, the dead piled up in the streets, local medicae unable to deal with the illness. His patron was satisfied, and made him more gifts so that he could carry Nurgle's blessings across the Reach. He renamed himself Mephidast the Plaguereaver after this first successful display of power, and left the now dead planet for greater places to bestow Nurgle's gifts.

He had no need for conquest; spreading the influence of Nurgle was his goal. He nurtured infestations of ravenous insects and created scores of plague zombies within huddled hive-masses. He even lured a particularly critical Ministorum preacher to his doom in a taunting ambush, where his flesh was made unclean and rendered down into new blight grenades. His followers grew into a massive warhost and his goals became even more ambitious, now also striking out against any who would gainsay his patron god. It was his victory deep within Hadex over an entire legion of Khornate blood-adepts, their armour decaying away as their flesh weakened and muscles grew infirm, that saw his final elevation. The tide of decay fell across the enemy in unstoppable waves, dissolving them to putrescent skeletal remains. He claimed the planet as his own; this victory gaining his ascension to Daemonhood. His body became bloated with Nurgle's blessings, surging in scale and power. Even the Plague Marines in his retinue fell to their knees in worship.

Now immortal, Mephidast focussed on plans that might take decades to unfold, each act growing more intricate and subtle but still with wondrously noxious effects. He has grand plans for the Reach, and the Crusade has begun to interfere with them. He is clever and patient, but his temperament is growing shorter as the time spent quenching this invasion reduces the time for his true goals.

Mephidast the Plaguereaver, Daemon Prince of Nurgle

Mephidast the Plaguereaver Profile

Movement: 5/10/15/30

Wounds: 149

Skills: Awareness (Per) +10, Daemonology (Int), Deceive (Fel), Forbidden Lore (Daemons, Psykers, Warp) (Int), Intimidate (S) +20, Speak Language (High Gothic, Low Gothic, Unholy Tongue) (Int), Scrutiny (Per) +20, Trade (Chymist) (Int) +20.

Talents: Bulging Biceps, Combat Master, Crippling Strike, Crushing Blow, Die Hard, Disturbing Voice, Enemy (Imperial agents, Followers of Tzeentch), Basic Weapon Training (Primitive), Favoured by the Warp, Hatred (Loyalist Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Sisters of Battle, the Inquisition), Hammer Blow, Heightened Senses (All), Iron Discipline, Litany of Hate, Resistance (Psychic Powers), True Grit.

Traits: Daemonic (TB 16), Dark Sight, Fear 4 (Terrifying), From Beyond, Improved Natural Weapons, Natural Weapons (Tooth and Nail), Size (Enormous), Sturdy, Unnatural Strength (x2), The Stuff of Nightmares, Touched by the Fates (3).

Armour: Armour of Chaos (All 11).

Weapons: Tooth and Nail (1d10+12 R, Toxic), Plague Longsword (2d10+20 R, Toxic, Unbalanced, Warp Weapon).

Special Rules

Blessing of Chaos: Mephidast is protected by pacts he has made with the Ruinous Powers. This acts as a Force Field (see page 166 in the Deathwatch Rulebook) with a strength of 35 that does not overload.

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.

The Art of Decay: Mephidast possesses a Psy Rating of 7 and the following Psychic Powers: Augury, Compel, Dominate, Divination, Inspire, Nurgle's Rot, and Stream of Corruption (see page 97).

Note: Mephidast is usually accompanied by warriors of the Sacred Tides. These can be represented by Renegade Militia, Chaos Heretics, and Chaos Space Marines all bearing the Mark of Nurgle, as well as elite Plague Marines where desired.

Nurgle's Rot

Action: Half Action
Opposed: No
Range: 5 metres + Psy Rating radius
Sustained: Yes

Description: The grandest and most infamous of Nurgle's contagions, Nurgle's Rot is known by many names and has appeared on countless worlds, leaving entire populations desolated by this terrible daemonic pathogen. Nurgle-devoted Sorcerers take on all manner of diseases, serving as host to the creations of the Lord of Plagues. From this seething mass of decay and entropy, these devotees of pestilence summon forth the psychic echo of this paragon of plagues, inflicting it upon those nearby.

The infectious gift of Nurgle is cast outwards to embrace all who stray too near to the Sorcerer. Creatures within range of the Sorcerer while this power remains in effect suffer 1d10+Psy Rating damage, with the Toxic Quality. The damage from this power ignores Armour unless it is environmentally sealed.

While this power remains in effect, the air within the power's range is filled with a thick, acrid fog and swarms of massive bloated flies. Any creature within range that is not devoted to Nurgle suffers a -5 penalty to Intelligence, Perception and Fellowship Tests as the foul vapour and buzzing flies hinder their concentration and drive them to distraction. This effect is in addition to any normal Psychic Phenomena.

Stream of Corruption

Action: Half Action
Opposed: No
Range: 5 metres x Psy Rating
Sustained: No

Description: Reaching deep into the corruption within his soul, the sorcerer unleashes a stream of bilious filth that leaves devastation in its wake. The sorcerer produces a torrent of foul energy in a 30 degree cone out to the power's range, similar to a weapon with the Flame Quality. Creatures caught within the spray may oppose the Focus Power Test with an Agility Test. Any creature that does not successfully avoid the power's effects suffers 2d10+Psy Rating Energy damage with the Felling (2), Toxic, and Warp Weapon Qualities.

Mephidast Adventure Seeds

Tidal Wave

Mephidast has put into place a grand plan, designed to create an even larger Hadex Anomaly across the entire width of Acheros. He will unleash specially tailored plagues on a series of worlds with specific maladies; the tainted souls each produces will be channelled by his minions into psychic dirges to amplify the effects on the following world. If done in a specific order and timed to coincide with predicted Warp storms, then on the seventh world there will be a plague of such purity that it will be nigh unstoppable. The entire populace will fall in a single day, with every soul forcibly consecrated to Nurgle's grace in a single sacrifice greater than ever seen before. The overwhelming offering would burst into a Warp gate tens of times larger than Hadex, and surely be the pestilent Daemon Prince's crowning achievement.

The Deathwatch may only be brought into this matter after several planets have been blighted, and realise perhaps too late the true nature of these plagues. It will take investigation work, very likely in conjunction with Inquisition agents, to discern the pattern of deaths and what they truly represent. They must attempt to disrupt the minions as they prepare the profane rites needed to properly channel the deaths, amidst the virulent diseases running rampant across each planet. The witches will be well defended with scores of Plague Marines and daemons standing guard over their tabernacle-foci. It will be a race against time either to stop the ceremonies, prevent the necessary number of deaths, or in some way contain the contagions before the Salient is plunged into a daemonic vortex.

The Anchor

While Mephidast's daemonic minions can exist forever on his own world and move freely through Hadex, they are limited when acting elsewhere. For them to be pulled back into the loving embrace of the Empyrean just when they are about to carry out his latest effort is disappointing. So when word reached his ear that there might be a device on a dead planet deep beyond the Slinnar Drift which could stabilise an area as if massive amounts of psychic energies were being deployed, he knew it must be his. The Sacred Tides are deployed to uncover the archeotech from the ancient ruins, easily brushing aside the Explorator detachment excavating the area.

The Imperium is frantic to ensure this does not happen. Adeptus Mechanicus priests hasten to study the mechanism, Inquisitors and their acolytes stand ready to see it destroyed before it can fall into the daemon prince's grasp, and Ministorum priests are eager to use it to aid in banishing daemons. The Deathwatch will accompany this mixed group against the Tides, and must face not only the diseased warhost (possibly led by Mephidast himself) but the ever-present infighting of rival Throne agents, all of whom have their own agendas for the item. It is also not unlikely that some of the agents are Assassins sent to ensure only the correct group is allowed to recover the artefact. In such a mission, watching your back may be just as important as watching the enemy in front of you.

Unholy Waters

An army fights on its stomach, and Mephidast has decided this stomach should grow bloated with famine. By eradicating the more productive Agri-worlds supporting the Imperial forces in Acheros, these forces will require greater outside supplies, and these supplies must also come from the same place as these immigrant armies. Greater shipments means more shipping, and thus there is a greater chance his smuggled minions can finally trace them back to their homes, where he is eager to spread his gifted touch upon such a blank and unspoiled setting. Ah, the plagues he would make on these new worlds...

The crop failures are started by strike teams spreading a virulent liquid strain into cloud-seeding mechanisms, irrigation systems, and even directly dispersed into the skies via icy bombardment. Survivors of the attacks as well as the nature of the devastations offer some clues as to the instigators, but nothing is suspected beyond standard raids of the Ruinous Powers. Local planetary defence forces are unable to beat back the attacks and Imperial Guard forces are unequipped for the task or unavailable due to commitments to the Crusade. What was a minor logistics problem swiftly becomes a major strategic issue. Only large scale Inquisitorial investigations tie these attacks together, and only the rapid might of the Deathwatch can act fast and decisively enough to stop the blights, and possibly learn enough that they may be contained and exterminated. At the same time, the Battle-Brothers may be called in to cleanse Mephidast's agents from Imperial vessels, lest they gain access through the Warp gate and into Koronus.

Daemonic Incursion

Mephidast's plans to cause ruin and destruction in the Cellebos Warzone are proceeding too slowly. Impatient, the Daemon Prince makes a pact with agents of the other Ruinous Powers, gathering under his banner Bloodletters of Khorne, Daemonettes of Slaanesh, and Horrors of Tzeentch. With this daemonic force, Mephidast intends to invade a key planet in the Acheros Salient, far behind the front lines, plunging dozens of worlds into disarray and devastation as their supply lines are cut off.

Mephidast's influence, however, is foretold by the opening of the Omega Vault, revealing cryptic messages of a "black river of plague and decay" unfolding at a specific place and time. Inquisitor Carmillus declares this discovery worthy of the Deathwatch's attention, and a Strike Cruiser carrying multiple Kill-teams is dispatched to the region to intervene before the warp incursion escalates to engulf the world in terror.

Upon arrival, however, the Deathwatch encounters another secret force: the Daemon Hunters of the Grey Knights Chapter. Warily, the two groups agree to work together against Mephidast's legions of daemons - a nearly-unique situation where these two elite forces are present in the same place and time.

The daemons boil forth from the warp incursion in a tide of slaughter, and the Grey Knights' position is nearly overrun. The Deathwatch must choose either to rescue the valiant Daemon Hunters or to take the opportunity to destroy Mephidast when the Daemon Prince makes an appearance to gloat.

Plague Marine