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Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2002), p51-52 — The Book of Nurgle - The Lord of Decay

Death is the only constant in the realm of Man, and with death comes decay. Nurgle is the embodiment of disease and deterioration, the elemental forces that hold in check the energies of progress and evolution. There exists within every mortal the desire to let all around him rot, and to exult in the processes of disease and decomposition.

Nurgle empowers those who would see every accomplishment of Mankind reduced to mouldering ruin. He is the Lord of Decay, and his servants spread disease and contagion throughout the mortal realm in the name of their festering master.

Yet Nurgle's power embodies, by its very nature, the notion of the eternal cycle of life. Decay is inevitable, but so too is rebirth. The form that rebirth may take is, of course, rarely the ideal and if Nurgle has his way then it will take a form loathsome to Man.

Nurgle's appearance is the most abhorrent of the Chaos gods. His bloated body is home to every form of corruption imaginable, and his skin is covered in weeping sores. Foul Nurglings cavort amongst Nurgle's exposed organs, giggling with insane delight at the latest pestilence inflicted upon Mankind by their master.

Nurgle's followers suffer under the burden of his 'gifts' as much as they benefit from them. These gifts often take the form of repulsive diseases and hideous deformations which, while useful in spreading Nurgle's contagions, may often lead to the death of the carrier. The servants of Nurgle cry out to him to rid them of the gifts they so blatantly invited when they turned to worship him, and he takes great sport in prolonging their suffering through the granting of yet more of his marks.

Nurgle's power within the pantheon of the Chaos gods is inextricably linked to his workings in the mortal realm. When disease and pestilence are rife, then the Lord of Decay's influence is at its height. The very nature of Nurgle's power is such that it will inevitable consume all of its victims and leave few survivors to perpetuate the contagion. At this point the plague god's might wanes and his plans falter. But one thing is certain: the plague is never truly eradicated, and its spores often spread far and wide before exploding into yet another epidemic, when once again Nurgle's legions are swelled with the grotesque living dead.

The only power that can oppose deterioration and decay are those represented by Tzeentch's change and evolution. The two gods are engaged in a galaxy-wide struggle of opposing forces, and whichever wins, the inhabitants of the material realms will be the ones who pay the highest price.

The Mark of Nurgle

The Mark of Nurgle can be bought for an independent character at +10 pts or for all members of a unit at +5 points per model. A model with the Mark of Nurgle is a living host for all manner of poxes and infections, which it spreads for the greater glory of the Lord of Decay. Horrific to behold and almost impossible to kill, Plague Marines are a blight on all life. Models with the Mark of Nurgle are Fearless and gifted with Daemonic Resilience.

No unit with the Mark of Nurgle may carry any of the following weapons: lascannon, autocannon, missile launcher or heavy bolter.

The Primarch of the Death Guard, Mortarion, trained his warriors to fight on foot relying on their bolters to cut down their enemies. Loyal to his teachings down the centuries Plague Marines have learned to use their bolters in close combat, a feat aided by their ability to absorb the ferocious recoil with their diseased bulk. All models with the Mark of Nurgle have True Grit to reflect this.

True Grit

Bolters have a 'pistol grip' which means they can be fired with a single hand. This takes considerable practice and skill and is not normally encouraged. Models with True Grit, however, have learned how to use their bolters in this manner. In game terms, this means that they may count their bolter as a bolt pistol in close combat and will therefore be allowed to roll an extra Attack dice if they have been equipped with a second pistol or close combat weapon. However, a model using their bolter in this manner may not receive the attack bonus for charging, as a bolter is too unwieldy to be fired with one hand while simultaneously hurling yourself at the enemy.

Vehicles of Nurgle

A vehicle dedicated to Nurgle has the Plague Carrier ability. This costs +15 points.

Plague Carrier

The vehicle is equipped with smouldering censers which release billowing clouds of sickly smoke in its wake and has the same effect as the Nurgle gift Nurgle's Rot.

The Gifts of Nurgle

The following items are added to the main Armoury but can only be selected by models with the Mark of Nurgle. The normal restrictions by category of item stated in the main Armoury section apply. Items marked with * can be used by models in Terminator armour.

Blight Grenades25 points
Manreaper* (Daemon Weapon)25 points
Minor Psychic Power*10 points
Nurgle's Rot*5 points
Nurgling Infestation*20 points
Pandemic Staff* (Daemon Weapon)25 points
Plague Banner*50 points
Plague Sword*25/15 points

Blight Grenades

These are made from the shrunken heads of those killed by Father Nurgle's favourite plagues. Any enemy unit charged by one or more models with blight grenades suffers a -1 to hit modifier in the ensuing close combat round.


This rusted and corrupted blade has been dipped in the filth seeping from the very throne of Nurgle, and in so doing absorbed the essence of one of the Daemons that cavort there.

The Manreaper is a two-handed power weapon in the shape of a scythe. With each sweep the long blade can cut through several enemies. The bearer gets +D6 extra attacks to reflect this. If the Manreaper's wielder directs his attacks at a single enemy model he will receive only one bonus Attack as the weapon is too long and unwieldy to be easily readied for further blows.

Nurgle Minor Psychic Power

The model may make a single roll on the Nurgle Minor Psychic Power table. Duplicate powers are re-rolled, but rolls of 1 are not.

Nurgling Infestation

Champions of Nurgle are frequently accompanied by swarms of Nurglings eager to feed off the flakes of dead and diseased flesh they trail behind them. If their host is in close combat the Nurglings will attack fiercely providing their host with an extra D6 Strength 3 attacks at Initiative 3 against enemies in base contact. The Nurglings should be modelled on the host's base and person.

Nurgle's Rot

At the end of the Chaos Shooting phase, any model that is within 6" of at least one model with Nurgle's Rot may be affected by the miasma of disease and pestilence exuding from them. Roll a D6 for each affected model, and on a roll of a 6 it takes a wound. Armour and Invulnerable saves may be taken, but not cover saves. Models with the Mark of Nurgle and all Daemon Packs, Possessed, Daemon Beasts and Greater Daemons are immune.

Pandemic Staff

The Pandemic Staff acts as a Vessel for Grandfather Nurgle's favourite contagions when they are carried from the Warp into the real universe.

The Pandemic Staff is a normal close combat weapon. Its bearer may use it in the Shooting phase instead of firing another weapon. An enemy unit within 12" can be targetted. Test to hit every model in the target unit on a roll of 4+. Hits are resolved at Strength 3 and normal saving throws apply.

Plague Sword

The Plague Sword drips with venomous pus. No amrour saves are allowed against its blows and in addition roll a D6 for each model wounded by it but not killed. On a roll of 4+ it will be killed outright no matter how many wounds they have.

Plague Banner

The Plague Banner is a hideous fabrication of rotting hides which flap in a pestilent wind. Not only can it function like a normal Icon but, in addition, a powerful curse is held in the standard that can be released once per battle in the owner's Shooting phase. Any one enemy unit with a model within 6" of the banner will take D6 wounds just as shooting with no armour or cover saves possible.

Nurgle Minor Psychic Powers

1. No usable power

Effect: The psyker's patron pays no heed to his prayers. The roll is wasted.

2. Nurgle's Dance

Phase: Own Shooting
Psychic Test? Yes
Range: 12"

Effect: The psyker calls to the enemy, inviting them to reveal themselves and join in Nurgle's exuberant cavalcade. If the target unit or model is behind cover, it must make a Leadership test or lose the benefits of that cover for the remainder of the player turn.

3. Nausea

Phase: Enemy Shooting
Psychic Test? Yes
Range: 12"

Effect: The psyker is able to invoke nausea and disorientation amongst his foes. An enemy unit or independent character (but not a vehicle) within line of sight will be at -1 BS for this Shooting phase.

4. Affliction

Phase: Own Shooting
Psychic Test? Yes
Range: 12"

Effect: Calling upon Grandfather Nurgle, the psyker bestows a particularly choice contagion upon his foe. If successful, the psyker may target an independent character or unit (the owning player may nominate the target model within a unit, only one model is affected). If you roll over the victim's Toughness on a D6, or roll a 6 regardless of Toughness, then the target model takes a single wound with normal saves allowed.

5. Miasma of Pestilence

Phase: Own Shooting
Psychic Test? Yes
Range: 24"

Effect: The psyker calls forth clouds of pestilent flies and choking vapours, through which few enemies have the stomach to advance. Place the small blast marker at any point within the Psyker's line of sight and roll the Scatter Dice and a D6 to determine its final location (counting the target symbol as a hit). Any enemy unit with models under the template must make an immediate Morale check or fall back using the normal rules.

6. Aura of Decay

Phase: Either Assault
Psychic Test? Yes
Range: 2"

Effect: The psyker surrounds himself in an aura of corruption and filth to such an extent that his enemies have difficulty engaging him. This power imposes a -1 Attack penalty (to a minimum of 1) on all enemy models in base contact. If the psychic test is failed then the modifier will apply to all friendly troops within 2" instead. The psyker may fight as normal in the phase this power is used.