- "And so when Sigmar’s crown is sundered, his hammer shattered, and his divinity revealed as the mockery that it is, the Legions of Chaos will pour forth from their womb far to the north. And wherever they tread, the ground will blacken. And what they touch will wither to dust and blow away. And when they speak, all will bow before their might. And in these final days, the world shall die to make way for the new, the beautiful, and the ever-changing."
- —The Legions of Chaos, extracted from the Tome of Corruption.[2j]
The Daemons of Chaos, known also as the Legions of Chaos, the Arch-Enemy, the Great Beast,[2e] or simply just Daemons (not to be confused with other kinds of daemons) are malevolent, otherwordly entities born from the deepest and darkest emotions of all mortal creatures. From their fortresses and palaces within this Realm of Chaos, these entities watch with envious eyes towards the mortal kingdoms, waiting with unblinking patience for their chance to wreak destruction and dismay upon the world and to feed upon the misery that they have wrought.[1a]
Of the many forces which permeate the world, both emotional and natural otherwise, there are but only Four which holds supreme power within this plane of unnatural existence. Power/Anger, Lust/Pleasure, Death/Despair and Change/Hope are the four greatest forces which have enthralled the world in its grip, for in a world engulfed in such amounts of war, corruption and disease, their dark presence and their malign influence is all but inevitable, for these dark emotions and thoughts fuel the main four Gods of Chaos, Khorne the Blood God, Slaanesh the Dark Prince, Nurgle the Plaguefather and Tzeentch the Changer of Ways.[2j]
These malevolent entities are the darkness and nightmares of the mortal races given form. They are the product of the misery and pain which engulfs the lands and so long as the evils of mortal races continue its self-destructive nature, from the dark wound within reality that lies at the uppermost north, these entities shall continue to plague the world for all eternity. When the time finally arises, these deamonic entities seize upon the opportunity to break free from their plane of existence, greedily spilling forth to rampage and slaughter in the name of the Chaos Gods.[1a] From the Realm of Chaos they come to conquer and destroy, creatures of magic in service to the darkest of gods. Armies flee before them. Devastation lies behind them, for destruction is the gift they bring to warriors of all races, causes and creeds. They are the Daemons of Chaos, the servants of insane and blasphemous gods, and they will not rest until the world shares their madness, until all that is clean, orderly and natural is smothered into the stuff that is raw Chaos.[1b]
- 1 History
- 2 Biology
- 3 Daemonic Incursions
- 4 Warfare
- 5 Notable Characters
- 6 Sources
- "They come to claim us for their dark masters, to choke the world in decadence, to drown it in disease and blood. What hope can there be for the mortal world? It is assailed by nightmares and its most dangerous dreams each one given murderous form by the power of ancient and terrible gods."
- —Liber Malefic.[3a]
How it all began; the origins of thousands of years of Human suffering; what opened the eye in the north —no one knows for certain. Tales of Old Ones in silver ships sailing on the seas of stars have as much credibility as the myths of the Norsemen Shamans who claim such-and-such God slew so-and-so Daemon. Of course, those who know, the Elves, say little. What we see as truth has been cobbled together from a hundred different stories from people all over the Old World, and none-too-few from the lands beyond. One thing remains constant with all the tales told of the early days of the World: a great calamity befell. Something glorious, wonderful, and powerful died, and when it did, it tore reality asunder, bringing Chaos to the world.[2b]
Myth and Legend
- "The Daemons of Chaos can be likened to hungry and rabid wolves. The Shepard should not waste time hating the wolf that attacks his flock. He should simply kill it."
- —Volkmar the Grim, Grand Theogonist of Sigmar[4a]
The oldest legends speak of a race of advanced beings called the Old Ones. It is said they came some 15,000 years before Sigmar, bringing with them a race of servants called the Slann. It is believed these servants live on in the foetid jungles of Lustria. The Old Ones were powerful, capable of changing the world, altering its movements, raising oceans, mountains, changing the lay of the land to fit their vision of what the world should be. At the time of their arrival, the world was trapped in ice that blanketed all lands, even those of the fabled Tomb Kings, where the sands can strip flesh from bone. But, through their agency, they caused the ice to melt, and remade this world. The Old Ones were as Gods. They cultivated the Elder Races, placing them in the world. The Elves settled in Ulthuan, and the Old Ones placed the Dwarfs in the mountains. And who knows what other races were born? For all their efforts, and for whatever purpose they had, it would not last. These beings drew their power and magic from great arches in the north and south, vast gates that opened to the heavens.[2b]
And, from it, they gained their power to change the world. But, the gate fell, tearing the world asunder. Where once this source of good and benevolence stood, suddenly there was only a terrible and angry wound. Boiling out from the hole were the Daemons and their warping powers of magic. The effects of the gate’s destruction created all manner of abominations, and so the first Incursion of Chaos began. The few remaining Slann strove to contain the damage left by the collapse, but they were too few in number, and as more and more died off, Chaos grew mightier. The world seemed doomed. It was, but it was not dead yet. Replacing the Slann in their struggles against the Daemons were the Elves. Emboldened by their blessings from the Old Ones, and committed to saving their world, they rallied and fought the Daemons for five centuries, doing their best to contain the spreading stain of Darkness. But, each victory was matched by two failures, and the Elves were pushed farther and farther south until they fought on the very shores of their islands. But then, a great Elf hero, Aenarion, passed through the sacred flame of divine energy and emerged as the first Phoenix King of Ulthuan.[2b]
Empowered by the powerful energies of the Old Ones, he and a cadre of Elven sorcerers weaved a spell of incredible power, creating a vortex to draw all magic to Ulthuan. By doing so, the Daemons were stripped of their power, and the evil from the Realm of Chaos withdrew. Aenarion had a son, Malekith. A powerful warrior and sorcerer, he was believed to be the heir and the clearest choice for the next Phoenix King. However, he was tempted by Dark Magic, and, ultimately, he was consumed by it, and black ambition bloomed in his heart, earning him the title Witch King. Ulthuan would know little peace through the years, as the Witch King waged endless wars against his kinsmen. Chaos, though briefly contained, was let loose once more during the Sundering, a dark time triggered when the Witch King strove to undo the vortex. This terrible act damaged the vortex that held Chaos in check and loosed it once more. Though his efforts were thwarted, the wickedness of Malekith fed the Dark Gods and gave them strength and influence in the world.[2b]
The Coming of Chaos
- "Blind zeal breeds all the most dangerous emotions; arrogance, fear, hatred, rage, malice, despair and selfishness. These empowers the Gods of Chaos and give form to the Aethyr's daemons, who are in themselves personification of these dark emotions. Submit to these emotions, even with humanity's best interest at heart, then even were you to slay a thousand times a thousand Chaos worshippers, in the wider sense you would still be serving the cause of the daemon-gods."
- —Volkmar the Grim, Grand Theogonist of Sigmar[5a]
The world turned, and the Elder Races made room for the Humans who emerged from their caves. The Elves and Dwarfs traded with these primitives, though slowly at first. But, soon, Humanity spread north from the southern continent, founding simple communities along the coast of the Tilea Sea and the Black Gulf. Eventually, these peoples moved north and erected the first cities. Of these early settlements, Humans dwarfed them all. But, it would not last, for in punishment for their arrogance, the Gods cast them low, rained the fires of heaven onto them, and sent plagues of rats. What remained would be forever after known as Skavenblight, the festering, black heart of the Ratmen.[2b]
And though Chaos wended its ways into the hearts and minds of these peoples, and launched attacks from the swirling regions in the north, it was limited in its hold on Mankind. Throughout the millennia, Chaos would produce Daemons and let them loose, but these creatures were not of this world and could not last for long. The corruption of Warpstone and the lashing Winds of Magic created herds of Beastmen to inhabit the dim places, but still Chaos could not thrive for overlong, for without mortals to fear them, they could not sustain their will. But, then Be’lakor was born. A savage primitive from an unknown land, Be’lakor is remembered as the first mortal to give his soul to the Ruinous Powers.[2b]
A powerful warrior and stalwart Champion of Darkness, the Dark Gods favoured him, luring him north to the Chaos Wastes, where he penetrated deeper and deeper into this bleak land until he came face-to-face with the maddening Realm itself. The Dark Gods rewarded his courage by destroying his mortal shell and recreating him in their image: that of a Daemon Prince. In this new form, he was a terrible force. He stood at the heads of his legions, destroying any and all who crossed his path, attracting mortals from all over to join his legions. In time, he was worshipped as a God. But, as his power and influence grew, so too did his pride. It was his arrogance and his belief that he was an equal to the Greater Gods that spelled his downfall. The Four Powers cast him low, and Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, cursed him, transforming him from a demigod to a confused and crazed spirit that would ever-after exemplify Chaos. He became the Harbinger, He Who Crowns Conquerors. He would never champion the cause of Chaos.[2b]
He would for all time be a servant and thrall to those mortals who attracted the attention of the Ruinous Powers. His first Champion was Morkar the Uniter. He, with the help of the Harbinger, launched a massive war from the Chaos Wastes. He might have succeeded in defeating the lands of the south had it not been for the great and united effort led by Sigmar. His defeat, and the continued defeats with each failed Champion, refreshed Be’lakor’s pangs of loss that he suffered since being cast down. The horror of his fate stripped away his sanity, and he screamed for centuries, only slowing to place the Crown of Domination on the next fool who sought glory.[2b]
The Growing Darkness
Though the Uniter was defeated, the Old World had to deal with its own problems. The Empire was in its earliest days when it pushed back the forces of Chaos, and after its few fledgeling steps, it struggled to retain its coherence. In the years that followed, Norse raiders preyed on the coasts, sacking villages in the north, and it was clear by their foul shamans and witch doctors that they served the Dark Gods. All manner of Daemons and Champions launched wars from the Chaos Wastes, but each was sporadic and disorganised, and so the Empire was free from a massive invasion for centuries.[2b]
The rest of the world was not so safe. Chaos launched invasions into Cathay, Naggaroth, and even the Dark Lands, sparking conflicts that would last for decades and take the lives of thousands. But back in the Empire and the Old World, it seemed mortals were content to pave the way for the next Incursion. Undaunted by the trials of following centuries, they embarked on the road to decadence and corruption. While Humanity dabbled in the forbidden, the Cult of Sigmar grew into a mighty force, rivalling the might of the Ulrican faith and overshadowing the other Gods. Heated arguments broke out into open confrontations, and such rivalries simply pushed Old Worlders even farther from the doctrines of the Gods. Humanity drifted from the light of piety and good living, and turned to darker matters. No level of society was exempt from this growing, moral failing. Nobles withdrew into their palaces to bask in excess, while commoners turned to Hedge Wizards and Witches for succour from the occasional plague or supernatural threat. During these centuries, the first Cults of Chaos formed, starting as intellectual societies or those who held heretical beliefs.[2b]
Some of the most profane volumes ever written, including the ravings of Necrodomo, were spawned and circulated among the intelligentsia. The Ruinous Powers reached from the beyond to mould and twist the hearts and minds of good citizens everywhere. Then, in 1111 IC, the Black Plague struck the Empire. Believed at the time to be a curse for immorality, it spread from city to city, following the paths of roads and waterways, reaching the most remote places in the land. People died by the thousands, and panic set in. Camps of diseased Humans squatted outside the walls of the Empire’s great cities, while the plague claimed entire neighbourhoods inside. And, with the spread of disease came despair, and with despair, Mankind turned to the Master of Plague and Pestilence to relieve their suffering. And then the Ratmen came. Appearing like grotesque parodies of man and rat, the Skaven boiled out of the ground, red eyes gleaming, slavering tongues thirsting for the blood and flesh of Humanity.[2b]
Still gripped by the Black Plague, the Empire was ill-prepared for this new threat, and the casualties mounted while soft nobles wept and wailed at their misfortune. From this rabble, a hero emerged: Mandred Ratslayer, the Count of Middenland. He rallied the people of the Empire and fought the Skaven for nearly fifteen years. Where others had failed, Mandred succeeded in breaking the spirit of the enemy and forced them back from whence they came. Following his successes, stability returned once more, and he tried to set the course of the Empire for the years to come, purging the land of corruption and evil—until his assassination in 1152.[2b]
The Return of Be'lakor
Though Mandred purged the land of the loathsome Ratmen, he was not successful in restoring the sense of unity needed to keep the Empire bound together in the coming years. Almost nine centuries after his death, the Empire fragmented and splintered, worship of the Dark Gods thrived, and evil stalked the land. Amidst the turmoil of the second millennium, Be’lakor broke free from the Realm of Chaos once more to walk the world among Men. In 1999 IC, Be’lakor escaped the Realm of Chaos, slipping free long enough to settle in that hellish city known as Mordheim, and there became known as the Shadowlord. He escaped by possessing the body of the next favoured Warlord, Khaarduun the Gloried—but instead of freedom, he discovered he was trapped. With vast quantities of Warpstone, Be’lakor believed he would be able to restore his former glory, so he began hoarding the vile substance. While this seems the likeliest explanation, little survived after the city was struck by the might of Sigmar’s glorious hammer. What is known is that he ruled the city as the Dark Emperor, and his word was law. His minions were the Possessed, former men who had surrendered themselves to the Ruinous Powers and Daemonic Possession. Daemons walked the streets, and all of His servants gathered more and more Warpstone to create even more of these abominations. In the end, his rage and hatred consumed the shell that housed him, sending him screaming back to the Realm of Chaos.[2b]
The Great War against Chaos
Almost three centuries later, the grim tidings of another Incursion were everywhere for those who thought to look, but such was the pride of the pretender Emperors that no one noticed. The Empire at this time was fractured and splintered into different factions, all vying for control over the throne. Fueled by religious controversy and infighting, the once glorious Empire was at its knees. And, amidst this struggle, the poisonous touch of the Dark Gods spread. Crops failed as some noxious slime spread, and cattle died of a strange pox. Nurgle’s eye was fixed on the lands of Sigmar, and though people knew a curse was upon them, they were powerless to do anything about it. While the Empire languished, a great war for dominance took place in the Chaos Wastes. Among the many tribes of the Kurgan people, the Kul tribe emerged as the dominant force, in no small part due to the efforts of Asavar. This mighty chieftain had proven himself a capable warrior and great leader among his kind.[2b]
For years, he and his tribe wandered the Shadowlands, waging war with rival tribes and bending their leaders to his will. His armies grew, and soon he was the greatest power in the north. Accounts of this Champion say that the light of the Dark Gods burned in his eyes, and his red-lacquered armour glowed with malevolence. With each victory, Warbands clamoured to his banner, swelling his legions until he was ready to take the prize that stood in the south. He and his armies turned south and passed through the Great Skull Land, where they sold slaves for Daemonic war machines crafted by the expert hands of the Chaos Dwarfs. They then turned to the High Pass, where they gathered hordes of Beastmen and Dragon Ogres to aid their cause. Meanwhile, the Empire was in no condition to head off this mustering force. Beastmen of the Forest of Shadows were multiplying and claiming large swathes of territory in Ostland and Ostermark. Chaos Warriors drifted throughout the northern Empire, even reaching the shadow of Altdorf’s walls. Unwittingly serving as the Chaos armies’ vanguard were endless hordes of Greenskins, who were driven from their homes by the approaching armies.[2b]
By autumn of 2301, the Empire fully descended into anarchy. Thousands died from a famine that resulted from the blights and poxes of the summer before. Refugees flooded the cities, and those who stayed behind were food for the ravaging Beastmen. Trade all but stopped as the waterways became too unsafe to transport goods, and so more starved and died. These dark times bred fanatics. Street Philosophers foretold doom and despair, seeing death in all things. Bands of Flagellants roamed the countryside, preying on the agents of Chaos and innocents alike. Whilst the Witch Hunters worked unchecked through the lands, murdering hundreds in the name of Sigmar. And, through it all, Asavar’s armies grew. In Kislev, the Tzar grew nervous as his scouts reported a mustering force of hundreds of thousands readying an attack on their lands. Desperate for help, he sent messengers to the Empire, pleading for them to send assistance.[2b]
Word reached the Count of Ostland, who for the past few years had been fighting a losing war against the Beastmen. His hatred of Chaos eclipsed all other concerns, and so he and his depleted force rushed to Kislev to lend their swords against the coming storm. But he was alone, for the Empire was too gripped with madness to respond. Hope would bloom, however. Whilst Men openly embraced the Chaos Gods, a man named Magnus the Pious preached in Nuln and drew a large following. With his mixture of common sense and zeal, he was able to convince the people of Nuln to cast out the darkness that gripped their city and join him on his crusade to save their beloved land. Autumn gave way to winter, and the Chaos armies finally marched south.[2b]
The combined forces of Kislev and Ostland marched north to meet them, though they knew in their hearts they were too few to stop the enemy. The Empire and Kislev were crushed by Asavar’s horde, and few escaped to spread news of their defeat. Kislev recoiled in horror as the Chaos Marauders despoiled their northern territories, and with a few decisive moves, they crushed the last of Kislev’s armies, turning hungry eyes to the fertile heartland of this defeated nation. Facing almost certain destruction, the people of Praag readied their city for the inevitable siege. Thousands abandoned their homes in the countryside for the protection offered by the city, bringing all the livestock they could.[2b]
In the end, the preparations were too little, and disease broke out amongst the refugees. Asavar’s host camped around the city and launched the occasional foray but seemed content to just harass them. The people fought as best they could, barely managing to repel the invaders with each new assault. Then word of a new hero reached them, and they learned Magnus was coming with an army to destroy the forces of Chaos and save their city. Magnus gathered more and more Old Worlders by his sheer tenacity and his devotion to Sigmar. All manner of people joined him, swelling his numbers to form a rag-tag force of zealots, commoners, and professional soldiers. The Elector Counts set aside their differences and joined Magnus, adding their soldiers to the vast army. And so, Magnus and his followers moved slowly north, but it wasn’t fast enough to save the besieged Kislevites.[2b]
Fall of Praag
In 2302, the attack Praag had dreaded finally came. Asavar used his entire force to destroy the city. They triumphed over the defenders, taking the city in the name of their blasphemous masters. With its fall, a Black Wind from the Realm of Chaos screamed through the streets of Praag, changing and mutating everything it touched. Men and stone twisted and became as one, their souls screaming from the twisted stones of the city. From its walls, distorted faces gnashed and pleaded for death. Praag had become Hell, a living symbol of what lay ahead for the Empire. A few escaped to bring word to Kislev, reporting all they had witnessed. The Tzar was frantically training a new army to defend the capital. Magnus pushed his forces ahead to aid the last city of the north and stop Asavar from entering the Empire. But, Chaos reached Kislev first. They encircled the city and launched a terrible attack remembered to this day as the Battle at the Gates of Kislev. Aided by the Dwarfs from Everpeak, the city of Karaz-a-Karak, the ill-equipped and poorly-trained defenders faced the Beastmen, grudgingly giving up ground until they were forced to fall back into the city itself. The Kislevites delayed Chaos just long enough for Magnus and his forces to arrive.[2b]
The Battle of Kislev
Asavar divided his force into two armies. One continued the attack against the city, while the other faced Magnus. The Empire’s forces descended like a righteous hammer, cutting a swathe through the Beastmen and Mutants. Despite these early victories, the forces of Chaos were innumerable. The tide of battle ebbed and flowed, and it seemed that all hope for the Empire was lost in the face of the great hordes of the Dark Gods. Magnus’ military genius would save the day. He launched a separate attack with his cavalry and pinned the Chaos armies between three forces, throwing them into confusion. On this assault, Magnus managed to slay Asavar Kul in single combat, crushing the will of the host.[2b]
Slowly the horde disintegrated and the Mutants, Beastmen, and Warbands melted away, fleeing back the way they came. With the Great War concluded, the Empire aided Kislev in levelling Praag and rebuilding the great city. The Imperial army returned to Ostland and Ostermark and slaughtered the Beastmen, cleansing the land of their stain. Chaos withdrew to the Troll Country and the Shadowlands, seemingly defeated for the last time. Always does Chaos prepare for its next attack, its next Incursion, and for the next two centuries it bided its time, building and searching for its next Champion. The Dark Gods didn’t have to wait long. Soon after the Great War, a Templar of Sigmar entered the vaults below the Temple of Sigmar and read the prophecies of Necrodomo the Insane. The words warped his mind, and he went mad. He swore allegiance to the Dark Gods and vowed to destroy the Empire and the Cult of Sigmar.[2b]
A New Age
For the next 200 years, things quietened in the Empire. With the legalisation of sanctioned magic in the Empire, the Witch Hunters confined their efforts to rooting out Mutants and renegade Wizards. Middenheim spearheaded the efforts to contain the Beastmen inside the borders, whilst reconstructing the ravaged provinces. Though peaceful compared to the upheavals leading up to the Great War Against Chaos, this was not a time without strife. Marienburg seceded from the Empire, and a series of weak Emperors allowed the lands to slip back to something akin to the decadence of the twenty-fourth century. Things changed in 2502 when Karl Franz ascended the throne. Young, charismatic, and competent, this new Emperor took a firm hand in guiding the Empire into the future, though even his reign has been anything but stable. In time, a new Chaos Incursion has begin, and soon Archaon shall return and enact his final destiny as the Harbinger of the Apocalypse.[2b]
- "Daemons are the denizens of the Realm of Chaos. Created by the Dark Gods, they are sent forth to aid their mortal Champions in their campaigns to conquer the lands of civilised men. Some are mindless beings of pure animosity, whilst others are cunning and carefully plot the downfall of those they claim to serve. Daemons can be summoned, bound, compelled, and killed. They are beings of magic given form from our nightmares and fears. They exist only to bring about the end of all there is."
- —Viktor Wechsler, Knight of the White Wolf.[2j]
Just as the Chaos Gods are beings of magic, so too are their daemonic servants. Each daemon is a splinter of his divine master, a distorted reflection of mortal yearning, a shard of emotion and dark desire given form and license to destroy. Thus does every daemon reflects something of his master’s presence and personality.
Daemons of Khorne are muscled and brutal, driven to slaughter and murder, whilst those that serve Tzeentch are whimsical and devious, shunning physical combat in favour of the sorcery that Khorne detests so.[1c]Nurgle’s daemons are by far the hardiest of their kind, if somewhat moribund in thought and deed, whilst Slaaneshi daemons are lithe and whip-quick, as delicate in form as they are vicious in temperament.
There are also daemons serving minor Chaos Gods. Daemons of Hashut are creatures of metal, darkness and fire. The Horned Rat commands mighty Verminlords, of which there are several kinds. Lastly, there are Chaos Furies, who shift and change with the Realm of Chaos, bound to no god in particular.
Regardless of form, daemons are unnaturally resilient, able to shrug off blows that would tear another creature asunder. Indeed, a daemon cannot truly be slain. Its physical body can be destroyed, true enough, but this merely banishes the daemon’s spirit into the swirling wellspring of magical energy known as the Forge of Souls. Thus vanquished, the daemon embarks on the process of creating a new body to inhabit, and dreams of vengeance against those that humbled it.[1c]
Daemons can only enter the mortal world if sustained by magic. Whilst magic flows, a daemon is nigh unstoppable, for it cares naught for the plight of its fellows and fears nothing save the terrible wrath of the Chaos Gods themselves. Thus are the battles within the Realm of Chaos, where magic suffuses every particle of dust and air, ceaseless and interminable things, with victors but slowly determined — if indeed they are determined at all. Yet when the daemons spill over into the mortal plane, their power waxes and wanes with the Winds of Magic, making them highly unpredictable foes. A daemonic host can vanish on the cusp of victory, cast back into the Realm of Chaos as its sustaining magic fades. Conversely, a daemon army can be whittled away to almost nothing, only to come back stronger and fiercer than ever when the Winds of Magic howl. Thus the greatest daemonic incursions are born of Storms of Magic, of reckless wizardly duels, and other sorcerous calamities.[1j]
In the frozen north, where a swirling gateway spews raw Chaos into the world, daemons have free reign to sow terror and malice; little wonder is it then that the mortal inhabitants of these climes have turned to the worship of the daemons’ masters. Yet the world is so suffused by sorcerous energy - the Winds of Magic so prone to ebb and flow — that almost any arcane event can prove sufficient to loose daemons upon the world. Indeed, the world contains many places where the walls between reality and uncreation are particularly thin, legacies of wild magic through which the daemons of Chaos can bring ruination and death. There are countless other places where the tide of reckless magic is kept in check only by the careful artifice of mortal creatures - the sites of Elven waystones and Lustrian temple-cities to name but a few. The disruption — or worse, the destruction — of such places can loose so much raw magic that the resulting daemonic incursion can last years, decades, or even centuries.[1j]
Types of Daemons
Though they might share many characteristics, no two daemons are entirely alike - all the infinite variety that Chaos commands can be found amongst the warriors of the daemonic hosts. Many daemons sport extra appendages, ensorcelled weapons or other, even odder, powers that are the envy' - or sometimes the pity - of their peers. Such oddities are bestowed by the daemon’s patron in celebration of glorious service or in punishment for ignominious failure. It’s not always possible to tell one from the other.[1c]
Though they are birthed of Chaos, there seems a strange order to the daemonspawn of the Dark Gods. Scholars have identified types of daemons, ranked by relative levels of power, and countless in number. Each seems unique in their awfulness, but they are also alike. There are distinct forms that arise to curse the Old World time and again, each foul type fulfilling a particular role in some unknowable master plan. There is no understanding the reasons for these daemon breeds; there is simply the inscrutable way of Chaos. There are three loose groups of Daemons: Beast, Lesser, and Greater, though even these classifications do not encompass Exalted Daemons, Daemon Princes, or the myriad of the least of all fiends that lurk in the spaces between the realms of Ruinous Powers.[2j]
- Beast Deamons - Beasts are lowly fiends that exist only to serve the wishes and needs of mortal servants. Champions sometimes use them as steeds or as grunts in their armies. Their dim intelligence doesn’t make them any less dangerous, and in some ways it makes them more so, since they have no concerns for their own health and safety. Though it is possible to summon one of these creatures, they are more often sent into the mortal world by the Dark Gods. When bound to the service of a champion or similar owner, they seem to be able to cross the borders between the Chaos Wastes and the Realm of Chaos with impunity, entering and leaving at will.[2j]
- Lesser Daemons - Lesser Daemons have the capacity for thought and reason, and they plot and plan in their ongoing effort to undo mankind’s morality. Though powerful or horrifying, most mortals can deal with them for short periods without compromising their sanity or lives.[2j]
- Greater Daemons - Harbingers of doom, the Greater Daemons are the most powerful servants of the Dark Gods. They are among the mightiest creatures in the entire world, and when they appear, they scorch the very land for miles around with their corruption.[2j]
- "I see a world drowned in fire and plague, where madness is the only reason, and death is the only respite. That world will soon be ours, unless we fight these hellspawn with every weapon at our command."
- —Luthor Huss, Prophet of Sigmar.[1k]
Daemonic invasions are seldom motivated by territory or plunder, for the otherworldly minions of the Dark Gods have no desire for material wealth. Sometimes, incursions are a key element in some divine scheme for supremacy, the lives and deaths of mortals made over into extra pieces upon the Great Game’s sprawling board. But underpinning this truth is that for both the Chaos Gods and the daemons they command, the mortal world is another canvas upon which to paint their own madness. The destruction wrought by a daemon is often not a means to an end, but merely the inevitable by-product of that daemon expressing itself the only way it knows how. Like the Dark Gods they serve, the daemons are generous with their gifts, whether the recipient wishes to receive them or no.[1k]
Nurgle’s minions spread plague not to bring suffering and despair, but because they are driven to do so by the dark spark of divine essence within them. They cannot conceive of why their diseases should cause such dismay amongst their victims, for a daemon of Nurgle finds nothing more joyous than to be afflicted by pox or pestilence. Daemons of Slaanesh revel in excess, and the torment they bring is — as far as they are concerned — the most philanthropic of blessings. Similarly, Tzeentch’s daemons subvert and mutate the natural order not out of cruelty, but are motivated by a combination of their own easily provoked boredom and the assumption that their victims must similarly be driven to ennui by their static and staid existences — something instantly cured by the mutating gift of change.[1k]
Only daemons of Khorne are truly selfish, ever seeking to claim skulls for the Skull Throne and so rise to higher status in their dread master’s eyes. In this way, daemons are akin to malicious children who possess a box of fascinating toys that are fragile by nature but unlimited in number. After all, in its own way, the mortal world is as resilient as the Realm of Chaos. A city humbled by plague or broken by war will inevitably recover; a mortal army torn to bloody ruin by fang, blade, and claw or blasted apart by sorcery will soon be replenished or replaced. This may take hundreds of years and cost untold thousands of lives along the way, but daemons don’t reckon time as mortals do, and inevitably find something else to draw their interest in the meantime.[1k]
If the daemons even comprehend the harm they are causing, they most certainly do not care. Inevitably, and with few exceptions, the mortals of the world react unfavourably to the daemons’ beneficence, and assemble their armies to do battle. Though the daemons are always somewhat dismayed at this most obvious rejection of their gifts (all save the Daemons of Khorne, who simply view an enemy army as a single massive offering waiting to be claimed) their innate joy of battle swiftly overtakes them. After an eternity of fighting their fellow daemons in the Realm of Chaos, the opportunity to strive against mortals — with their shifting and unpredictable natures — is a fresh and invigorating experience all of its own. At this point, the biggest and most powerful daemon in the host assumes overall command. Occasionally, such primacy is guaranteed by that daemon’s standing within the dark pantheon, but most of the time it is a privilege that must be fought for. Such bouts of dominance can rage for days, as the various pretenders - and the portions of the host at their individual command — battle for control. Once his opponents have been cowed or banished, the victor enjoys unbroachable authority — for a few days at least — guaranteeing that any foe the host encounters will find the daemons united and of a single purpose.[1k]
- The Great Catastrophe - The first and greatest daemonic invasion.
- Great War against Chaos - The second greatest Chaos invasion, during which time the borders of the Chaos realm once extended as far south as the fortress-city of Praag.
- The End Times - The last and perhaps the bloodiest Chaos invasion since the first daemonic invasion.
- "They are wickedness made flesh, cruel licentiousness given form. Truth will not save you, for truth has no hold over such aberrations. Courage cannot save you, for they sup your courage as readily as your fear. Faith is the only defence you can trust."
- —Arch-Lector Markad to the Congregation of Ulric.[1n]
For a mortal, there can be few more terrifying experiences than to be caught in the path of a daemonic army. Heralds of the gods ride at the army’s head. They spread the proclamations of their masters in a tongue so dark and twisted that it somehow pierces even the guttural battlechants of Khorne’s Bloodletters and the discordant singing of Slaaneshi Daemonettes. As the main host grows nearer, a shadow falls across the sky, the sun’s light choked from the air by the unfurled wings of roaring Bloodthirsters and squawking Furies. If there are daemons of Nurgle amongst the host, the next thing to be noticed is a bowel-looseningly foul odour, and the baleful drone of a thousand plump black flies. Now the very ground upon which the host marches starts to ripple and flow, as Tzeentch’s daemons spread their gifts of change with rampant glee; water flows uphill, trees twist into blackened and writhing tentacles and the air is suffused with multihued fire.[1k]
In the final moments before battle, the daemonic host falls silent, tens of thousands of eager daemonic eyes watching to see if the mortals will stand and fight, or flee in terror. Then the air rings to the sound of a hundred sonorous horns. Roaring and bellowing, shrieking and squealing, the daemons hurl themselves forward to assail the doomed foe. Where the enemy is strongest, there do the daemonic horde’s direst warriors attack. Soul Grinders advance with clanking stride, great iron pistons thumping and harvester cannons booming. Great Unclean Ones lumber forward, bellowing joyfully with each sweep of their rust-pitted weapons, their massive bulk smothering or trampling any foolish enough not to evade their ponderous coming. Keepers of Secrets hack and tear their way through the foe, each blow exquisitely placed to ensure maximum suffering; Lords of Change send rippling waves of untrammelled sorcery arcing through the enemy ranks, mutating and incinerating all in their path.[1k]
Should a particularly bold or desperate foe withstand these, then they must hold fast before the mighty Bloodthirsters of Khorne, the raging daemonic reavers whose tireless axes claim skulls by the thousand and spill rivers of blood. Few indeed are the mortals who can manage such a feat. When the enemy breaks and flees, snarling Flesh Hounds and chittering Fiends of Slaanesh bound and skitter in pursuit. Diminutive Nurglings swarm over the corpses, picking at eyeballs and playing all manner of foul games with the discarded entrails. As terrifying as daemonic incursions are, they are nothing as to what would occur should the Winds of Magic grow strong enough to allow daemons to walk the world at will. On that day, the world will be subsumed into the Realm of Chaos, and all who yet live will be consumed by insanity and death.[1k]
- Chaos Furies - Chaos Furies are yowling shards of malevolent energy - Chaos in its purest form. With little in the way of intelligence, Furies are utterly subservient to the whims of the Dark Gods, and shift in aspect and power as the balance of the dark pantheon alters. They are easily subjugated by other Daemons, whom they regard with a mix of dread and awe. Furies swarm at the edges of the battle, avoiding the thickest fighting if they can.
- Bloodletters - Bloodletters, known also as Khorne’s Chosen, the Teeth of Death, Naked Slayers, Takers of Skulls, or Horned Ones are the foot soldiers in Khorne’s legions, deadly warriors believed to have been foremost amongst the Blood God’s followers in mortal life and whose will is as implacable and blood-hungry as Khorne himself.
- Pink Horrors - Pink Horrors, known also as Whirling Destroyers, Squealers or Spinning Sourguts are the footsoldiers of Tzeentch, identified by their luminescent pink skin and their squeals of high-pitched laughter. Spellcasting fills Pink Horrors with joy, and they emit especial merriment as eldritch energy screeches from their upraised hands.
- Flamers - Flamers, known also as Burning Horrors, Flame Spouters, Flaming Whirlwinds or simply Fire Daemons are powerful daemonic entities of Tzeentch best known for their ability to conjure daemonic fire. Capable of a fair turn of speed, expelling gaseous ichor through the fungoid ‘skirt’ at their base to bound and leap across the ground with considerable mischievous gusto.
- Nurglings - Nurglings are the very image of Father Nurgle himself, having friendly, mischievous faces and bloated, green bodies fitted with disproportionate limbs. The only difference is their size. A Nurgling is no taller than a foot high. These foul things inhabit the bodies of larger Daemons, preferably the Great Unclean Ones who spawn them.
- Plaguebearers - Plaguebearers, known also as the Tainted Ones, the One-Eyed Rotters, Horned Rotbags, Maggotkin, Rotbearers and the Tallymen of Plagues, are the rank and file of Nurgle’s legions, crafted from the soul-stuff of mortals who have been slain by Nurgle’s Rot.
- Daemonettes - Daemonettes, known also as the Children of Slaanesh, the Debauched Ones, the Bringers of Joyous Degradation and the Decadent Seekers are the most numerous of all Slaanesh’s servants. They are shrouded in a hypnotic glamour, seditious magics that bestow their repulsive features with perverse beauty.
- Bloodcrushers of Khorne - The Bloodcrushers of Khorne, known also as Soulcrushers, the Feet of Khorne, or even Juggers, are the most favoured of all Bloodletters. Bloodcrushers are Khorne’s shock cavalry, a deadly combination of battle-frenzied Bloodletter and the unstoppable crushing mass of a Juggernaut of Khorne.
- Blood Thrones of Khorne - The Blood Thrones of Khorne, known also as the Clanking Boneshredders, the Blood-soaked Spires or the Dreadskull Totems is a mighty Daemon Engine, armoured in brass and driven into battle by iron-shod wheels that crush and mangle all who stand in its path.
- Skull Cannons of Khorne - The Skull Cannons of Khorne, known also Hellforged Bellowers, the Bonegrinders or the Clinkerfiends, are massive Daemon Engines of Khorne. Legend tells that the Skull Cannons of Khorne were forged in the furnaces at the foot of the Blood God's throne and beaten into shape upon his mighty anvil.
- Burning Chariot of Tzeentch - Burning Chariots of Tzeentch are large Deamon Engines of Tzeentch which hurtle across the Realm of Chaos like incandescent meteors, bringing the Great Sorcerer’s chosen emissaries to every corner of existence. As they blaze through the heavens of the mortal world, Chariots of Tzeentch are commonly mistaken for comets, which are in turn interpreted as omens of great events and terrible wars.
- Plague Drones of Nurgle - The Plague Drones of Nurgle, known also as Blighted Swarmers, Festerwings and Bubonic Buzzers are the high-ranking Plaguebearers of Nurgle. These stewards of Nurgle's Garden ride into the mortal realm mounted upon Rot Flies — colossal Daemon-insects whose appearance is so repugnant it leaves festering scars upon the mind.
- Seekers of Slaanesh - The Seekers of Slaanesh known also as the Riders of Slaanesh, Disciples of Decadence or Darkling Delighters are the Prince of Chaos’ outriders, darkling Daemonettes mounted on swift daemonic Steeds. Malign of intent and with the predatory swiftness of a striking cobra, Seekers dart across the endless battlefields of the Realm of Chaos, springing ambushes on vulnerable prey.
- Seeker Chariots of Slaanesh - Seeker Chariots, known also as Shrieking Shandredhans, Glorious Doomriders or Pallid Vanguards are fast moving Daemonic Engines of Slaanesh. As the straining steeds urge the chariot to full speed, swirling shapes sear the air with unholy hues and the metal axles screech in a disharmony akin to the wailing of tormented souls.
- Hellflayers of Slaanesh - The Hellflayers of Slaanesh, known also as Scented Harvesters, the Decadent Reavers or the Shred-Chain Sisters, are swift-moving Daemon Engines that ride hither and yon across the alabaster plains, their reaping blades cutting and slicing the distaff flesh into small pieces that Slaanesh’s otherworldly flora can easily devour.
- Flesh Hounds - Flesh Hounds, known also as Blood Trackers, the Inevitable Ones or the Hounds of Wrath are rapacious wolf-like Daemons, both reptilian and savagely canine in aspect. They are Khorne’s blood-hunters, lithe yet powerful, able to dart aside from a swordsman’s strike and pull a knight from the saddle as part of the same fluid motion.
- Screamers - Screamers, known also as Sky-Sharks, Swoopers or Shrieking Skyrays are glimmering daemonic entities that ride upon the Winds of Magic as a bird glides upon the breeze. They roam the tides of magic, preying upon the shadow-souls of mortal creatures, lone Chaos Furies and other unfortunate magical ephemera.
- Discs of Tzeentch - The Discs of Tzeentch are large, sentient creatures that were transformed from an ordinary Screamer into large, disc-like shapes to better suit the Sorcerer who bind them into swift mounts. They float in the clouds of swirling energy that makes up the Realm of Chaos, drifting through the Aethyr, feasting on lower Daemons and the souls of the damned.
- Beasts of Nurgle - Beasts of Nurgle, known also as Slime Hounds, Putrid Bouncers or even Tentacled Plaguehounds are massive lumbering fiends that are as stupid as they are ugly—and they are hideously ugly.
- Steeds of Slaanesh - Steeds of Slaanesh go by many names; Flesh Lickers, Tongue Flayers, Degraded Ones, Whips of Slaanesh. They are strange, disturbing creatures that roam in herds along the borders of the Realm of Chaos.
- Fiends of Slaanesh - The Hunting Beasts of Slaanesh are a foul race of Daemonic creatures. Spawned from the mad mind of the Serpent, these creatures combine several traits of scorpion, human and reptile to become some unholy abomination.
- Soul Grinder - Soul Grinders, known also as Doomstriders, Harvesters of Souls and Clinkerspawn are massive, sentient Daemon Engines created for the sole sake of killing and collecting souls to remove himself from its metal prison.
- Daemon Princes - Daemon Princes are amongst the greatest and most powerful mortal servants of Chaos in all of existence. These beings are those who follow Chaos with a deep and fervent faith, pledging themselves body and soul to the service of the Dark Powers. They know that there is a great prize for those who show unflinching devotion.
- Bloodthirster - Bloodthirsters, known by many bloody titles such as the Lords of Skulls, the Fists of Khorne, the Drinkers of Blood, the Eaters of Gore and Flesh, the High-Handed Slayers,[ 2a] the Deathbringers of Khorne, the Bloodied Ones and also the Guardians of the Throne are not only the most deadly of Khorne’s servant, but the mightiest of Daemonic warriors.
- Lords of Change - The Lords of Change, known also as the Winged Watchers, the Eyes of Tzeentch and the Feathered Lords are the greatest and most magically powerful of all Daemonkind. These bird-daemons of Tzeentch are hideously unpredictable and manipulative.
- Great Unclean Ones - The Great Unclean Ones, known also as Fly Masters, the Stench Lords, Nurgle's Plaguefathers or simply Plague Lords, are the Greater Daemons of Nurgle whose plague and diseases can put low even the mightiest of Daemons.
- Keepers of Secrets - The Keepers of Secrets, known also as the Slayers of Slaanesh, the Feasters of Pain and the Great Horned Ones, are ruiners of purity, a despoiler of the faithful and a harbinger of damnation. It draws strength from the corruption of others, and feasts upon sin and excess as a mortal might sup fine wines and sweetmeats.
- Skulltaker - U'Zhul, better known as Skulltaker, Khorne's Champion, Blooded Wanderer, and the Slayer of Kings is the greatest of all Khorne's chosen Bloodletters. When not campaigning with his master's armies, Skulltaker roams the Realm of Chaos atop his mighty Juggernaut, Kuhl'tyran.
- Karanak - Karanak, known as the Hound of Vengeance, the Endless Hunter and the Talon of the Skull Throne is the three-headed Flesh Hound that prowls and guards Khorne's grand throne room. He never sleeps, for like the Blood God's unreasoning vengeance Karanak is ever watchful.
- Skarbrand - Skarbrand, known also as the Exiled One, the Wrathful Reaper, or the Drinker of Blood, was once the greatest of all Khorne's Daemons. An eternity of battle in the Blood God's name had brought Skarbrand victories uncounted. It was he who tore down the gates of Slaanesh's first palace and visited ruin therein. It was he who led the eight Hosts of Murder to their triumph over the combined armies of the other Chaos Gods.
- Blue Scribe - The Blue Scribes, sometimes known as Azure Arcanologists, Wandering Wizards, and Tzeentch's Quaestors, are a pair of powerful Blue Horrors which ride their Disc of Tzeentch through realms eternal and mortal, squabbling as they seek lost fragments of their god to bind them with parchment and ink. P'tarix scrawls frantically with a quill crafted from a Lord of Change's pinfeather. Xirat'p reads the written words to check for mistakes; in so doing unleashing the power bound within on any unfortunate enough to be nearby.
- Changeling - The Changeling, known as the Perplexing Prankster, the Deceiving Horror, or even Tzeentch's Trickster, is a Pink Horror that personifies the part of Tzeentch’s psyche that is the meddler and the deceiver. He is the ultimate trickster, who can take the form of other beings, from the tiniest of insects to the most massive of Greater Daemons.
- Kairos Fateweaver - Kairos Fateweaver, known also as the Oracle of Tzeentch, the Keeper of the Destiny Scrolls, and even the Mocking Watcher, is perhaps the most powerful of his kind due to the actions of his master, the Changer of Ways, the Daemon now knowing every spell in existence, and every action before it's conceived. Ever since he clawed his way back from the Well of Eternity after years uncounted within its depths, Kairos can see things that are hidden even to Tzeentch.
- Epidemius - Epidemius, known also as the Maggot King, the Plagued Panjandrum and Reckoner of Mortality, is Nurgle’s chosen Tallyman, one of the seven Proctors of Pestilence and the cataloguer of all the Plaguelord's diseases. Epidemius' task is an unending one, and it generates a great deal of paperwork, so he rides a palanquin to share the burden — and to more easily force a path through Nurgle's hordes.
- Ku'gath Plaguefather - Ku'gath Plaguefather, known also as the Foetid Brewmaster, the Plagueweaver, and also as the Rotting Poxmaker, is one of the most favoured of Nurgle's chosen. Whilst other Great Unclean Ones work to spread the plagues already extant, Ku'gath is fascinated by the breeding of new and virulent life.
- Masque of Slaanesh - The Masque of Slaanesh, known also as the Eternal Dancer, Accursed Maiden, and Darkling Deceiver was once the most favoured of all the Daemonettes. She danced for the joy of performance and wove enrapturing displays so dazzling that they could strike even immortal gods silent with awe.
- N'Kari - N'Kari is a vengeful Keeper of Secrets that took part in the Great Chaos Incursion before being banished by Phoenix King Aenarion. Upon returning from the Realm of Chaos he seeks the obliteration of every descendant of Aenarion throughout the continent of Ulthuan.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Daemons of Chaos (8th Edition)
- 2: Tome of Corruption (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Daemons of Chaos (7th Edition)
- 3a: "Backcover"
- 4: Liber Chaotica: Slaanesh (Volume II)
- 4a: pg. 20
- 5: Liber Chaotica: Tzeentch (Volume IV)
- 5a: pg. 9