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The Tome of Decay (2014), p36-37 — Writhing World Sorcerer-King

"Observe the squirming maggot. In its simplicity there is purpose; in filth, there is potential. What the ignorant call vermin are in fact the implacable heralds of inexorable decay."
— 177th canto of the Forbidden Treatises of Memniyth

One of the most disturbing locations within the Screaming Vortex is the Writhing World, a planet whose primitive human inhabitants wander amidst continent-sized tendrils of undulating flesh beneath the merciless rule of the great Biomancer Lords. The most powerful such denizens are the Sorcerer-Kings, potent psykers whose massive citadels scurry endlessly across the planet's surface at their master's bidding. Occasionally one of these powerful individuals will depart this decaying world, bartering passage among the various vessels that traverse the endless void. Though their reasons for these journeys are their own, their considerable power and arcane lore make them powerful allies despite the apparent danger of harbouring such vile wretches.

Playing a Writhing World Sorcerer-King

Every Writhing World Sorcerer-King is a highly skilled and learned sorcerer who has dedicated his life to the path of decay as well as other perilous Warp-magiks and forbidden lore. Most are off-worlders who have journeyed to this paradise of death and rebirth to expand their necromantic abilities and commune with the Plague Father, while others are indigenous huskmen whose profane psychic abilities set them apart from their tribal brethren.

Like the planet on which they dwell, Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings are infested with countless worms, maggots, and other wretched vermin which weave and burrow throughout skin and muscle. This revolting display of corruption is actually the Sorcerer-Kings' own doing, as such creatures allow their host a greater degree of control over their blasphemous disciplines while acting as foci for the unholy energies that course through the sorcerer's twisted body. The most powerful such necromancers are barely human, their ragged bodies bursting with countless bloated insects that writhe amidst the decayed remnants of their flyblown flesh.

As the Lord of Rot, Nurgle is an obvious patron for such vile psykers, though most are schooled in additional paths of power as well. Further, their macabre practices create an unwholesome sympathy with the many grotesque parasites that constitute Nurgle's domain, thereby allowing a Sorcerer-King a greater degree of influence over Nurgle's multifarious maledictions, which they use to dominate the local parasites and huskmen alike.

The most remarkable examples are the great crawling citadels whose rippling edifices heave with the same repulsive tendrils that pervade the Writhing World itself. Such manifest feats of sorcery are testaments to the skill and temperaments of their creators, though most pale in comparison to the ambulatory bastions of the dreaded Biomancer Lords. Regardless, Sorcerer-Kings are fiercely competitive when it comes to their terrifying creations, often unleashing them against each other in titanic struggles of writhing destruction.

Most Sorcerer-Kings spend their time reshaping their immense sanctuaries or roaming the planet's surface in search of additional insights into the mysterious origins of their home world. Others instead seek to further refine their abilities so that they might gain the attention of the powerful Biomancer Lords in the hopes of eventually ruling their heretical brethren, or perhaps even spreading their noxious influence to untainted, new worlds. A vicious few even choose to prey on each other for the power they seek, ripping their victim's knowledge directly from their worm-infested, rotting minds.

Writhing World Sorcerer-King

A Writhing World Sorcerer-King must be Human.

Characteristic Bonus: +5 Toughness, +5 Intelligence, +5 Willpower, +1d10+15 Corruption Points, and +9 Infamy.

Starting Skills: Awareness, Charm or Deceive or Commerce, Common Lore (Writhing World), Dodge or Parry, Forbidden Lore (Psykers), Forbidden Lore (The Warp) or (Psykers) +10, Intimidate, Inquiry or Interrogation, Linguistics (Chaos Marks) or Logic or Scholastic Lore (Cryptology), Scholastic Lore (Occult) or (Astromancy) or (Legend), Psyniscience.

Starting Traits: Psyker.

Starting Talents: Psy Rating 3, Up to 500 xp worth of Psychic Powers chosen from the Unaligned, Divination, Telepathy, or Telekinesis Disciplines plus 300 xp chosen from any of the above or the Nurgle Powers (see Chapter VI: Psychic Powers in the Black Crusade Core Rulebook), Corpus Conversion, Die Hard, Hardy, Jaded, Resistance (Psychic Powers, Fear), Unshakeable Will or Strong Minded, Weapon Training (Primary, SP), Weapon Training (Las) or (Shock).

Starting Gear: Good Craftsmanship Laspistol or Stub Revolver, Force Staff or Neural Whip, Flak Cloak or Best Quality Chainmail Coat, Flesh-Bound Grimoire (filled with wicked lore).

Wounds: 8 +1d5.

Special Abilities:

Verminous Necromancer: The Sorcerer-Kings of the Writhing World are powerful psykers whose parasitic maladies further augment their profane abilities. When determining his Psychic Strength (see page 206 of the Black Crusade Core Rulebook), a Sorcerer-King counts as Unbound. A Writhing World Sorcerer-King also counts his Psy Rating as 1 higher when attempting to manifest Psychic Powers Aligned to Nurgle.

Worm Master Supreme: Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings are infamous for their ability to weave the countless parasites that squirm throughout their bodies into writhing constructs of segmented flesh. A Writhing World Sorcerer-King can psychically summon one of these gestalt creatures by making a Difficult (-10) Willpower Test as a Full Action. If he succeeds, he calls forth one Writhing Swarm (see page 103), which follows his orders and acts during his Turn. For every Degree of Success he scores on the Test beyond the first, increase the Writhing Swarm's Wounds by 10. He can disperse the swarm as a Half Action or Reaction. At the beginning of each of his Turns during which a swarm is active, the Writhing World Sorcerer-King must dedicate a Half Action to maintaining it or suffer 1d5 Rending Damage ignoring armour and Toughness Bonus as the creatures within him rip free to join the ravening host of invertebrates.

Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings begin play Aligned to Nurgle.

Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings in the Vortex

Most Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings choose to penetrate the noxious atmosphere of this disturbingly corrupt planet, and many eventually chose to depart it again. Their reasons for doing so are as varied as the individuals themselves, yet each carries with them a measure of the putrefaction which taints this unnatural world as well as numerous scars from their time amidst its sordid landscape.

The following are examples of Sorcerer-Kings whose cruelty and prodigious sorcerous abilities have earned them infamy throughout the Screaming Vortex.

Grubenth, Lord of the Skies: The seemingly endless throngs of bottle flies that cover the skies of the Writhing World with intriguing patterns and swirling manifestations of disturbing logic hold a peculiar fascination to Nurgle's annointed. Within the Vortex, no one is more knowledgeable about such displays than Grubenth, whose insane, incessant mumblings seem eerily reminiscent of the low droning of those massive swarms. His bloated body and multi-winged stronghold host thousands of the squirming maggots that mirror in these enthralling formations, supposedly allowing him to tap into the otherworldly consciousness drifting idly overhead.

The Gurgeon Mite: The terrifying Gurgeon Mite is the creation of an ancient and esoteric Sorcerer-King who long-ago sought the secrets that lie buried at the Writhing World's core. This myriapod citadel ceaselessly tunnels beneath the planet's segmented exterior, instigating deadly convulsions and emerging at random to feed before quickly scrabbling beneath the slimy, quivering surface. The actual depth achieved by this monstrous creature, as well as the secrets it has uncovered, are sources of endless speculation.

Leach King Hespherash: Hespherash is a cantankerous necromancer whose vicious, fleshy parasites consume the bodies of his victims and absorb their knowledge for his own nefarious gains. His writhing citadel resembles a hydra of ancient legend with numerous palisades each ending in a massive undulating maw. These ferocious orifices have unique methods of digesting their victims; from necrotic bile, to great clamping mandibles, to endless rows of tiny reciprocating dendrites. Once his prey is devoured and every ounce of nutrient extracted, its memories are encapsulated into tiny larvae that slowly burrow deep inside the Sorcerer-King's rotting cortex.