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With the publication of the 8th edition of Warhammer 40,000, Games Workshop also released comprehensive rules for units from all armies. This book covers the chaos armies of Heretic Astartes and Chaos Daemons. It is mainly a collection of datasheets (which, being purely rules information, are not in scope of this page) but peppered amongst the crunch are a few sections of background information, including that reproduced below.
Four of the original Traitor Legions were singled out by the Chaos Gods to become their ultimate mortal avatars. Khorne, the Blood God, chose Angron's furious World Eaters to do his will, while Mortarion and his Death Guard were claimed by the Plague God Nurgle. Slaanesh, the Dark Prince, marked the obsessive Emperor's Children as his, while the Thousand Sons were manipulated into becoming the puppets - and puppetmasters - of Tzeentch. Yet there were other Traitor Legions who retained, to one degree or another, their autonomy and identity, degenerating into twisted parodies of their former glory as the millennia slid by. The Night Lords, terror troops and assault specialists without equal; the Word Bearers, dark heralds of the daemonic and the diabolical; the Iron Warriors, embittered masters of siegecraft; the Alpha Legion, infiltrators, manipulators and agents of mayhem; the Black Legion, first amongst traitors, reborn Legion of Horus himself, now ruled by his greatest gene-son, Abaddon the Despoiler. Amongst the Heretic Astartes, these primogenitors form a sort of twisted elite, and whether fighting as dedicated forces or augmenting the ranks of Renegade warbands they are feared and hated by all.
|III - Emperor's Children||Fulgrim||[Chemos]|
|IV - Iron Warriors||Perturabo||[Olympia]|
|VIII - Night Lords||Konrad Curze||[Nostramo]|
|XII - World Eaters||Angron||No Record|
|XIV - Death Guard||Mortarion||[Barbarus]|
|XV - Thousand Sons||Magnus the Red||[Prospero]|
|XVI - Luna Wolves||Horus||[Cthonia]|
|XVII - Word Bearers||Lorgar||[Colchis]|
|XX - Alpha Legion||Alpharius||No Record|
The Death Guard bring pestilence, death and despair - all the generous gifts of their patron, the Plague God Nurgle.
The Death Guard are foulness made manifest. They are a vision of unnatural corruption, of nobility, courage and strength perverted into nightmarish foulness and diseased might. Cities, worlds, even entire systems rot at their touch, the power of Nurgle spreading inexorably wherever the Death Guard raise their flyblown banners.
Resilience. Obstinacy. Brute force. Even before they fell to Chaos, these were the watchwords of the Death Guard Legion. Led by their Primarch, Mortarion, the Death Guard specialised in grinding, attritional warfare, ploughing unstoppably over their foes while taking pride in weathering the worst that their enemies could hurl at them. Thanks to the genetic legacy of their Primarch, the Death Guard possessed a remarkable resistance to poisons, toxins and phages of every sort; no such underhanded weapon or lethal atmospheric condition could lay them low.
The Death Guard were rightly proud of their implacable might, none more so than their Primarch. Yet there was a seed of resentment in Mortarion's heart, for the gifts of his Legion were neither glamorous nor glorious, and won them little acclaim. It was this Achilles' heel that Horus used to turn the Death Guard to his cause. The majority of the Death Guard followed their gene-sire into damnation, becoming the linchpin of many traitor battle-lines.
It was as Horus' Legions advanced upon Terra that the Death Guard found themselves inexplicably lost upon the fickle tides of the warp. Weeks passed with no sign of salvation, during which a terrible plague began to spread from ship to ship. The Death Guard, so long immune to mere mortal frailties, found themselves bloating and sickening. The Destroyer Plague swept through their ranks like wildfire, leaving them ever more rotted and corrupt yet singularly unable to die. At last, Mortarion himself contracted the terrible sickness. In his delirium, the Primarch beseeched Nurgle to save his Legion, and the Plague God - who had planned for this all along - graciously accepted the service of the Death Guard.
The Legion that emerged from the warp in time to join the attack on Terra bore little resemblance to the noble soldiers who had plunged into the warp weeks earlier. Pus and glowing green slime dripped from burst and rusted armour. Bloated, flabby flesh spilled forth, thick with pustulent buboes and weeping sores. The Death Guard were swollen with the sick powers of their new patron, taking a macabre joy in spreading Nurgle's plagues to all who faced them. So it has been ever since, the Death Guard marching at the behest of their rancid god and spreading his blessings to unwilling victims from one end of the galaxy to the other.
Unlike so many of their fellow traitors, the Death Guard lost neither their discipline nor their cohesion after the retreat into the Eye of Terror. With Mortarion's rise to fully fledged Daemonhood, the Legion broke into smaller warbands led by their mightiest champions, but still they continued to fight with a singular identity and purpose. Mortarion still directed his plague-ridden sons from afar, and the Death Guard continued to recruit new warriors into their ranks, albeit often by force.
Plague Lords such as Typhus, the Host of the Destroyer Hive, have continued to lead attacks upon realspace and spread metaphysical plagues far and wide. Since the opening of the Great Rift, the Death Guard have redoubled their efforts, revealing that both their numbers and their martial structure were greater than even the most pessimistic Imperial commanders had feared.
Death Guard armies are built around cores of ultra-resilient infantry, Plague Marines and befouled Terminators trudging forwards amidst the drone of a billion plague flies. Plague Sorcerers and hulking Lords lead these lumbering traitors into battle, while before them stagger reeking masses of diseased Cultists and unliving mutants. Massed firepower and armoured support is provided by rusted packs of Helbrutes and Daemon Engines, while Death Guard tanks rumble through the muck and murk of the battlefield with their guns roaring. Occasionally, even larger and more terrifying war engines lend their might to the Death Guard attack, rotted Titans and huge, bloated Daemons crushing the enemy underfoot as they spew corrosive filth across their ranks.
Utilising sustained bombardments and relentless advances, the Death Guard pummel their enemies into submission. They chant droning mantras of worship to Nurgle, or chortle with revolting mirth as they gun down the foe, but always ensure that a few survivors escape - infected with the terrible plagues of Nurgle, such victims spread sickness and disease before the Death Guard like a bow wave, and ensure their conquests come all the quicker.
This section contains a selection of datasheets for Death Guard miniatures. Each datasheet includes the characteristics profiles of the unit it describes, as well as any wargear and special abilities it may have.
The Heretic Astartes datasheets listed below can be from the Death Guard Legion. Those that have the <LEGION> keyword on their datasheet can replace it in all instances with DEATH GUARD. If a Heretic Astartes unit does not appear in the list to the right, it cannot have the DEATH GUARD Faction keyword.
If a Death Guard unit has the <MARK OF CHAOS> keyword, it must be NURGLE. Similarly, DEATH GUARD Daemon Princes must owe their allegiance to NURGLE.
The Battlefield Role of DEATH GUARD Plague Marines is Troops instead of Elites.
Malignant Plaguecasters must choose the additional psychic powers that they can use from the Contagion discipline below.
|1||Miasma of Pestilence: Miasma of Pestilence has a warp charge value of 6. If manifested, select a visible friendly DEATH GUARD unit within 18" of the psyker. Until the start of your next Psychic phase, your opponent must subtract 1 from all hit rolls that target that unit.|
|2||Gift of Contagion: Gift of Contagion has a warp charge value of 7. If manifested, select a visible enemy unit within 18" of the psyker and roll a D3. Consult the table below to discover what characteristic penalty all models in that unit suffer until the start of your next Psychic phase (this cannot reduce a characteristic to less than 1).
|3||Plague Wind: Plague Wind has a warp charge value of 5. If manifested, select a visible enemy unit within 18" of the psyker. Roll one dice for each model in that unit - the unit suffers a mortal wound for each roll of 6.|
The Death Guard lumber and stomp to war amongst a throng of flies, plague spreading unbound before them.
Fists of Khorne
Guardians of the Throne
|Lords of Change
The Eyes of Tzeentch
The Feathered Lords
|Great Unclean Ones
|Keepers of Secrets
Slayers of Slaanesh
Feasters of Pain
Despoilers of the Flesh
|Heralds||Heralds of Khorne
|Heralds of Tzeentch
|Heralds of Nurgle
|Heralds of Slaanesh
Teeth of Death
Takers of Skulls
Mites of Nurgle
Children of Slaanesh
Bringers of Joyous Degradation
Seekers of Decadence
|Daemonic Beasts||Flesh Hounds
Hunters of Blood
Juggernauts of Khorne
|Flamers of Tzeentch
Sky-sharks of Tzeentch
Discs of Tzeentch
|Beasts of Nurgle
|Fiends of Slaanesh
Steeds of Slaanesh
|D3||PSYCHIC POWER||1||Stream of Corruption
Stream of Corruption has a warp charge value of 5. If manifested, pick the closest enemy unit within 7" of the psyker. The unit suffers D3 mortal wounds if it has fewer than 10 models, and D6 mortal wounds if it has 10 models or more.
Virulent Blessing has a warp charge value of 6. If manifested, pick a NURGLE DAEMON unit within 18" of the psyker. You can add 1 to all wound rolls made by that unit in the Fight phase. Furthermore, any wound rolls of 7+ made for that unit in the Fight phase inflict double damage.
Fleshy Abundance has a warp charge value of 5. If manifested, select a friendly NURGLE DAEMON unit within 18" of the psyker. That unit recovers D3 wounds lost earlier in the battle.
The sky darkens with noxious clouds and the land sickens and withers as the Daemons of Nurgle lumber into battle. Unnatural plagues billow about them. Slime and toxins drip from their blades and claws. Warped bells toll and bloated flies buzz, filling the air with a droning din as the hideous slaughter begins...
Nurgle's Daemons spill into realspace in thronging masses, surrounded by swirling clouds of bloated plague flies. The endless droning of these insects provides a fitting accompaniment to the constant muttering of thousands of Plaguebearers, as they attempt to catalogue the full breadth of the Lord of Decay's manifold concoctions. Unhurried and uncaring of the enemy fire that splatters off their corpulent forms, they march towards the foe with implacable menace. Cackling Nurglings caper about the ankles of their larger fellows - once battle is joined these diminutive Daemons spill over the enemy in an irrepressible tide, giggling and chortling to each other as they bite and scratch at mortal flesh, before dribbling their infectious toxins into open wounds. Grossly malformed creatures covered in caustic slime and rippling with virulent poxes, Beasts of Nurgle bound playfully alongside the plague-ridden Tallybands, while Plague Drones wheel overhead, mounted upon their monstrous Rot Flies. In the midst of this poxridden tide lumbers the colossal, bloated bulk of a Great Unclean One, its flyblown, pus-dripping body an embodiment of the Plague God's fearsome constitution. The slug-like tongue of this Greater Daemon lolls from its gaping maw as it chortles in delight, urging its children onwards to spread Nurgle's bountiful maladies amongst the unenlightened masses.
Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay and the Master of Plague and Pestilence. All things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to eventual corruption, and Grandfather Nurgle sows the seeds of that entropy with carefully brewed infections and epidemics. Yet despite this grim work he is not a morose or dolorous god. Life begets death, and in turn death gives birth to new life, in the form of pallid, wriggling things that crawl free from mouldering corpses. Thus, the Plague God sees himself as a benevolent fellow, and goes about his business with laughter and honest joy. He sees mortal souls not as things to be dominated and destroyed, but naïve children to be plied with flesh-rotting gifts, and thus enlightened as to the true wonder of disease and decay.
Amongst the foetid boughs of Nurgle's Garden - the Lord of Decay's pestilential domain within the Realm of Chaos - billions upon billions of Daemons dance amongst fields of spore-spewing vines and wallow in mires of pestilent filth. They await the chance to slither out of the immaterium and into the realm of mortals, upon whom they can inflict their most delightful concoctions. Epidemius, the Tallyman of Nurgle, works tirelessly to catalogue all of the varied afflictions and maladies thus unleashed into the universe, going about this prestigious task with a grim seriousness. His corpulent frame can often be witnessed upon mortal battlefields, as he surveys infected injuries and putrefying corpses, noting carefully every swelling, sore and buboe with the aid of his Nurgling assistants. To witness mortal flesh bubble and warp with the gift of corruption is the greatest desire of all Nurgle's children. This ebullient eagerness delights the Plague God, who takes a father's pride in his creations' ingenuity and hard work.
Most exalted amongst Nurgle's ranks are the Great Unclean Ones, horrifically repulsive creatures whose maggot-ridden flesh is rife with sores and pus-dripping lesions, and whose entrails protrude obscenely from swollen bellies. Possessed of rusted blades encrusted with putrid blood, and able to summon pestilential winds and tides of filth and mucus, the Great Unclean Ones lead Nurgle's children in their grand task of spreading disease and decay across the galaxy.
A Nurgle Daemon infestation often begins with a single, luckless victim becoming infected with a mysterious ailment. The exact horrors wrought upon the bearer's body differ depending on the strain that was contracted, but in all cases the results are as excruciating as they are deadly. Every cough and pus-choked scream sends clouds of Daemon-spores swirling into the air. With horrifying speed the disease begins to spread amongst the populace, mutating and evolving into ever more horrific strains as it does so. Before long the streets are piled high with swollen corpses, and clouds of flies blot out the sun. It is then that the bells begin to toll, and the Tallybands of Nurgle erupt from the gasblown carcasses of the dead. Those ragged survivors still capable of bearing arms against these putrid invaders are swiftly overcome, and the least fortunate of all are taken alive for experimentation. Gleeful Nurglings chortle and applaud as these fresh subjects are dunked into foetid pools of caustic slime, or hurled the slavering maws of slime-covered beasts.
Even if they are driven from the battlefield with barrages and firestorms of promethium, the profane gifts of Nurgle's children still linger. These include the disease known as Nurgle's Rot, a slow-acting but utterly fatal malady that agonisingly transforms the victim into a Plaguebearer, as well as the many strains of the dreaded zombie plague. The latter is a particular favourite amongst followers of the Lord of Decay, especially the hated Death Guard warbands. There are countless variations of this disease. Some are delivered by skyburst mortars into the upper atmosphere, while others are poured into a planet's water reserves or summoned in a pestilential monsoon by a pox-sorcerer's ritual. The most common strain deployed by the Death Guard keeps its victims alive and coherent even as it agonisingly reshapes their flesh. They become the shambling, rotting monsters known as Poxwalkers, whose role it is to soak up enemy fire before the advance of the Heretic Astartes, spreading their hideous infection amongst the foe even as las-fire and explosions blast them apart in gouts of pus and gore. The victim's mortal soul is trapped within this horrifying shell, unable to act or do anything but scream and beg for the blissful release of obliteration.
Plaguebearers spread lethal diseases in a dozen different ways, sombrely tallying their number and studying their effects.
The putrescent hordes of Nurgle are led to battle by mountainous Great Unclean Ones, creatures strong enough to crush a tank.
|Warhammer Fantasy||Third Citadel Compendium; WFRP (1st ed); RoC: Slaves to Darkness; RoC: The Lost and the Damned; Beasts of Chaos; Blightwar; Malign Portents website|
|Man O' War||Plague Fleet|
|Mordheim||Empire in Flames|
|Warhammer 40,000||Warhammer 40,000 (1993); Codex: Chaos (1996); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (1999); Chapter Approved 2001; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2002); Codex: Eye of Terror; Chapter Approved 2004; Imperial Armour 5; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007); Imperial Armour: Apocalypse (2007); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2008); Imperial Armour 6; Imperial Armour 7; Imperial Armour: Aeronautica; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012); Codex: Dark Angels (2013); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2013); Stronghold Assault; Codex: Imperial Knights (2014); Dataslate: Helbrutes; Codex: Militarum Tempestus (2014); Imperial Armour 13; Codex: Imperial Knights (2015); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2016); Codex: Traitor Legions; Warhammer 40,000 (2017); Dark Imperium; Index: Chaos; First Strike; Codex: Space Marines (2017); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2017); Codex: Grey Knights (2017); Plague Brethren; Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (2017); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2018); Codex: T'au Empire (2018); Tales from Vigilus webpages|
|Epic||Adeptus Titanicus; Space Marine (1st ed); Codex Titanicus; Renegades; Titan Legions; Epic 40,000|
|Kill Team||Dolorous Strain|
|White Dwarf||Oct 1988 (#106); Dec 1988 (#108); Jan 1989 (#109); May 1989 (#113); Jun 1989 (#114); Nov 1989 (#119); Jan 1990 (#121); Feb 1990 (#122); Apr 1990 (#124); May 1990 (#125); Dec 1990 (#132); Jan 2002 (#265)|
|Citadel Journal||Jul 1994 (#4); Mar 1995 (#8); May 1995 (#9); Dec 1995 (#12); Sep 1996 (#17); Nov 1996 (#18); Aug 1997 (#21); Apr 1998 (#25); Jun 1998 (#26); Aug 1998 (#27); Oct 1998 (#28); May 1999 (#32); Jan 2002 (#48)|
|Battlefleet Gothic Magazine||Nov 2002 (#12); Aug 2003 (#16)|
|Black Library Novels|
|Warhammer 40,000||Ravenor Returned; HH54: Buried Dagger|
|Fantasy Flight Games|
|Dark Heresy||Shattered Hope; Dark Heresy (1st ed); Disciples of the Dark Gods; Creatures Anathema; Radical's Handbook; Daemon Hunter; Dark Heresy (2nd ed); Game Master's Kit (2nd ed); Forgotten Gods; Enemies Within; Enemies Beyond|
|Rogue Trader||Rogue Trader; Citadel of Skulls; Battlefleet Koronus; Koronus Bestiary; Navis Primer; Stars of Inequity|
|Deathwatch||Mark of the Xenos; Achilus Assault; First Founding; Jericho Reach; Rising Tempest|
|Black Crusade||Black Crusade; Game Master's Kit; Hand of Corruption; Tome of Fate; Tome of Blood; Tome of Excess; Tome of Decay|
|Only War||Enemies of the Imperium|