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Mark of the Xenos (2011), p102-103 — Great Unclean One

"And there shall come seven plagues, and in them you shall read his works, writ in black bile and red ruin across the land. And he shall come amongst you; all shall feel his touch, and wither. In righteous joy, he bestows these gifts. Rejoice!"
— Imperial Astropath Sythia Zale, moments before her execution

Great Unclean Ones are the harbingers of Nurgle, god of rot and ruin - his greatest servants, bearers of his most sacred plagues and poxes. They are squat mountains of ruptured, roiling flesh, covered in open sores that weep with streams of pus. They burst through the veil with an ear-shattering howl of glee, delighted to walk the earth once more, spreading their bounty.

The Greater Daemons of Nurgle are not subtle. Their appearances on the mortal plane are heralded by disease and desolation on a planetary scale. If an incursion is left unchecked, whole worlds can go dark: their populations reduced by six-sevenths, their feeble leaders filthy and raving, their very cities collapsing around them. Through it all waddles the beaming, bile-slicked plague-father, bestowing his blessings, borne along on a living tide of chortling, chattering Nurglings. Great Unclean Ones are beings of decay and entropy made manifest, and before them the works of man are but castles made of sand, perched on the edge of a storm-wracked sea.

In battle, Great Unclean Ones wield enormous blades and maces of iron, crude, corroded cleavers and immense plague flails - each one dripping with pestilence.

Those that survive the wave of desolation that accompanies a Great Unclean One often become its faithful slaves. Wracked by disease, bloated by corpse gasses, stripped of their loved ones and surrounded by the dead and dying, many plague thralls give themselves over to their suffering, venerating and worshipping the very ailments that brought them low. Perversely, those who embrace Nurgle's foul contagions are made stronger by them, their ravaged bodies inured to pain, their rotting forms all but impervious to greater harm. The thriving colonies of bacteria gestating within their bloated bodies grant unholy regenerative abilities to their hosts, sealing gaping wounds in seconds and expanding ever-outward, until the creatures that were once men remain little more than disease-wracked shells, foetid human cauldrons of pox and pestilence.

Great Unclean Ones are always accompanied by - and infested with - thousands of gibbering, diminutive Nurglings, pint-sized daemons of mischief and malice who caper about madly, tongues lolling, their fat bodies supported by improbably spindly legs. Great Unclean Ones dote on these scabrous sprites, bouncing them on their knees and scratching behind their malformed ears. Even the rotting hulks of their bodies are colonized by Nurglings; these tiny creatures dwell in the burst carbuncles and rank wounds that cover a Great Unclean One, and particularly love to nest within its great, rent belly, burrowing deep inside the steaming intestines that hang in long, gore-slicked loops from its body. A Great Unclean One looks upon this cackling horde with munificence and paternal love, and Nurglings are quick to defend their "father" when he is threatened. Unwary foes are often dragged down by the murderous wave of shrieking, biting daemons that billows forth from the body of a Great Unclean One the instant it is attacked.

Natural-born carrion creatures also number among the Greater Daemon of Nurgle's faithful friends. Rats, vultures, worms, crows and sky-blackening clouds of flies trail in its jolly wake, hideously multiplied in both size and number.

Great Unclean Ones typically take the form of gargantuan, immensely fat humanoids, hot intestines dribbling out of huge tears in their enormous bellies. Their horrific girth is supported by two impossibly small and atrophied-looking legs, and their bulbous heads are crowned by the enormous antlers of a stag. Their suppurating, sore-covered bodies are host to every disease ever catalogued by man, and many more besides, and their stench can be detected from miles away. In perverse contrast with their appearance, their manner is jovial and kind; they are the very picture of mirth and good cheer. Even surrounded by the pitiful moaning of the sick and dying, they smile with pure-hearted benevolence, and their long, pus-coated tongues dangle from toothy face-splitting grins.

To look upon a Great Unclean One is to gaze upon the face of decay, to realize that all things must break down, must collapse and congeal, must rot and rust and fall to ruin, that the great works of man will one day vanish from the universe, and the stars themselves must one day die.

Great Unclean One (Master) Profile

Movement: 4/8/12/24

Wounds: 273

Skills: Awareness (Per), Scrutiny (Per) +10, Search (Per), Forbidden Lore (Warp, Daemonology) (Int), Deceive (Fel), Speak Language (All known languages).

Talents: True Grit, Strong Minded, Bulging Biceps, Crushing Blow, Die Hard.

Traits: Crawler, Daemonic (TB 14), †Daemonic Presence, Dark Sight, Fear 4 (Terrifying), From Beyond, Regeneration (5), Size (Massive), Unnatural Strength (x3), Unnatural Toughness (x2), Unnatural Willpower (x2), Warp Instability.

†Daemonic Presence: All enemies within 25 metres of a Great Unclean One suffer a -20 penalty to Willpower Tests in the area.

Weapons: Tooth and Nail (1d10+21 R; Pen 2; Felling (2), Toxic), Plague Blade (2d10+21 R; Pen 6; Felling (2), Toxic).

Special Rules

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.

Lord of Decay: Great Unclean Ones often know a number of psychic powers; the GM should select any appropriate powers from the Deathwatch Rulebook and the Chaos Psychic Powers section on page 127.

Lord of Corruption: A Great Unclean One may inflict Righteous Fury. However, instead of rolling an additional 1d10 Damage, the victim instead suffers 1d10 permanent Toughness Damage.

Adventure Seeds

Aftermath: The Kill-team is sent to investigate the mysterious aftermath of a horrific industrial accident on an intensely-polluted Hive World. A chemical factory within one of the hives exploded, collapsing part of the structure and sending toxic fumes throughout the hive. Accidents of this nature are regrettable but far from uncommon, and ordinarily of concern to the rulers of the Hive world only in terms of lost production. This time, however, the contagion seems to be spreading, as level after level of the hive goes dark, all communication cut off. In reality, the accident was engineered by the secret servants of Nurgle to disguise the manifestation of a Great Unclean One, who now rules over the diseased cultists and gang members of the lower hive.

Prophecy: Deep within the vaults of Watch Fortress Erioch, the Kill-team discovers an ancient and long-forgotten prophecy warning of a Great Plague, destined to sweep through the Jericho Reach, reducing world after world to festering charnel houses of disease and decay. The prophecy seems to point to a great architect behind this plague, a creature that - if left unchecked - will soon put its dire plan into motion...

Addendum by Codicier Taelon

The stench. It is seared into my memory, above everything else. Dispatched to investigate the disappearance of another Kill-team near a small mining colony, we arrived on-world on a hot summer's day, and the smell nearly made me collapse. The entire colony had succumbed to some sort of great contagion; the white walls of their hab-units were slicked with blood and slime, and the bodies of the dead and dying were everywhere. My fears were confirmed when I encountered a group of survivors near the entrance to the mineshaft: they had given themselves over completely to the dark gods, chanting psalms and hymns to the leader, a figure they called "The Rotting King". Bolters took care of these plague-maddened miners, but deep within the bowels of that foetid mine we gave battle to their ruler - a hideous greater daemon of Nurgle. Despite the support of a Dreadnought and a double-strength Kill-team, I survived the battle with barely half of my Battle-Brothers intact... and many of those who lived would never be the same. I was lucky; my enviro-sealed armour kept the worst of the contagion at bay, and my body was strong enough to endure the rest. Even so, I was quarantined in Watch Fortress Erioch for a month before I was declared free of taint.