- "What a world you mortals inhabit! Rich in sensation, suffused with suffering and reeking of all manner of unfulfilled desire. Come, embrace me, and learn the exquisite gifts my Prince can bestow."
- —Sss’el’ari the Golden, Keeper of Secrets, Lord of Paramountcy[1a]
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. To a Keeper of Secrets, fear and lust are the most succulent of dishes, but any mortal rapture provides sustenance — particularly if the victim can be propelled from the heights of one to the depths of another.[1b]
Nothing is more delectable to a Keeper than the act of snatching a prideful popinjay from the adulation of his followers, drowning him in stark terror, then returning him, broken-minded and wallowing in his own involuntary filth, to the mockery of the comrades who once roared his praises. No two Keepers of Secrets possess identical features, indeed, the Liber Malefic claims that the appearance of each is sprung from Slaanesh’s capricious whim at the time of the Daemon’s manifestation. Certainly, there is a great deal of variance between these Greater Daemons. Some are endowed with a decidedly bovine aspect, whilst others have a beguiling and androgenous facial structure that belies a corrupt and debauched heart. All are many-limbed and jewel-eyed, sensuous in movement and brutal indeed.[1b]
Passion, pleasure, pain, and inspiration: these are the hallmarks of the Keeper of Secrets. The Greater Daemons of Slaanesh personify limitless experience and unfettered desire, the very concepts born into flesh. They are repulsive and horrific, yet they transfix mortals with a monstrous allure that defies explanation. The Base Ones are ultimate licence. They exist to evoke the senses, to create, to experience, and to exult in the mortal whims of passion. They also dull the mind, making it harder to appreciate the ordinary and the mundane. They are the pain of failure, the agony of excess, and that which drives mortals to more daring acts to escape the ordinary.[2a]
Like a dancer, the Greater Daemon moves with liquid grace, flitting about like the gentle brush of a lover’s fingers on the flesh. Wherever it goes, all becomes possible. But when it passes, it leaves behind anguish and agony, as real and as painful as the sharp stab of a cruel knife. And all those who have known the greatest pleasure are wracked with despair and loss, uprooting themselves from the normal experience to follow after the haunted promises of the Great Horned Ones as they sway to the tune of Slaanesh’s wicked laughter.[2a]
- "It granted me all I desired; but took from me all that I valued. I would give anything to look upon its beauty once again"
- —Liber Malefic[1b]
The moment a Base One appears in the world, the tendrils of Slaanesh’s foul will spreads, carried on the Winds of Magic to tantalise and torment mortals for miles around. There is an unclean trembling in all things, potential struggling for release. Mortals break out into sweats, and their hearts pound against their chests. Animals become inflamed and turn violent, kicking against their stalls or tearing against their harnesses. Weapons throb with invisible tumescent energy. Wood shivers and warps. The trees creak, and the earth yawns, gushing merry water from its depths. Inhibitions fade, old loyalties dim, and the bonds of trust weaken. Passion fills the hearts and minds of all, and if unchecked, mortals revel in wild abandon.[2a]
But the physical tingling of desire is not all that results from the hint of a Keeper. Artists become feverishly inspired, fanatically sketching and drawing, creating masterpieces far beyond their skill. From the lips of poets come exquisite verse that perfectly captures sorrow absolute or unabashed desire. From the throats of singers spill songs of such beauty that those who hear it die from broken hearts. The Daemon fills the dreams of mortals with such visions of beauty that they thrash about weeping for the unachievable perfection of their nightmares. When they awaken, their days are spent in melancholy, yearning for that which they cannot have and can never attain.[2a]
The closer the Daemon comes, the more pronounced its effects. The artist paints with his own blood, the poet claws out his own eyes just to see what true darkness is like, the singer chokes and drowns on the lyrics as she struggles to be free from her imperfect throat. As the world softens, assuming warm colours and gentle, rounded, glistening forms, blades sharpen, emotions run hot, and madness flares in the mind. The Keepers laugh and delight in all things, and they constantly drive their slaves to greater acts of experience. The Base One can play any instrument, draw any image, and to hear them sing is to lose your soul. Their cackle is the blend of a heartless woman and an innocent child. They murder without thought, compassion, or remorse — killing just to see the aesthetic in the spray of blood or the pitch of a dying man’s scream. Witty and capricious, they indulge in every fantasy with cruel and selfish abandon, caring not one whit for those they harm.[2a]
The Keeper of Secrets is awful to behold. It takes the form of an androgynous being of impossible stature. Its four arms, two of which end in pincers, beckon and weave as it sways to the music of mortal delight and the hurt that results from over-indulgence. Its huge jewelled eyes contain the secrets of pleasure and pain, hidden lusts and terrifying impulses. Its pastel skin exudes a narcotic musk that acts to magnify the senses, enrapture the spirit, and thrust dark impulses into the minds and hearts of mortals.[2a]
Its head, sometimes human, sometimes bestial, is ringed with a nest of curved horns that glisten with an oily sheen. A serpent’s tongue writhes from between its razored teeth, tasting the air and the perverse energy contained within. A number of swollen breasts cling to the left side of its torso, like vast obscene ticks. It stands upon strong legs that give way to almost reptilian claws. It strides the earth, clad in an elaborate costume of bizarre colours and exotic materials, from iron-hard chains to the softest velvets. Horrific as it is, it nevertheless commands the eye, whatever it happens to be doing.[2a]
When a Keeper of Secrets appears, all hope is lost. Its presence wreaks havoc with the minds of those mortals around it, interfering with their ability to concentrate, distracting them with its unnatural charisma. The Base One dances through battle, sliding past regiment and would-be hero alike, exulting with each slash of its pincers, its laughter mingling with the screams of the dying.[2a]
On and off the battlefield, the Keeper of Secrets easily dominates mortals with its otherworldly allure. Those who fall victim to the Despoiler’s glamour do anything to please their master, forgetting all that is decent as they loose themselves in the Daemon’s aura. When this game becomes tired, dull, done, the Base One will likely plunge its pincers deep into their slave’s flesh, pausing to experience the heat of the organs throbbing their last, to drink in the fading light of their eyes, before scattering the carcass into bloody gobbets. This fate, perhaps, is better than abandonment by the Great Horned One, for once a creature has basked in its presence, nothing will sate their overwhelmed senses ever again.[2a]
A Keeper of Secrets is a terrifying foe to face, delighting in exquisite pain, the caress of claw through skin and muscle, bone and organ. Its enormous razor-edged claws can tear apart a heavily-armoured knight with one graceful slash while its hands can crush bone with horrifying ease. No other Daemon can match a Keeper’s fluid grace in battle. Its actions are a ballet of exquisitely performed blows. Every strike by claw or blade is bestowed with almost delicate precision; a sensuous caress becomes a rib-crushing embrace, and a casual swipe becomes a drawn-out gouge which spills organs and blood upon the ground in all manner of pleasing patterns.[1b]
Nor are the Keeper of Secrets’ lethal talents limited to purely physical combat. Formed of the stuff of Chaos and gifted with the subtle and insidious magic of the Dark Prince, a Keeper of Secrets is an accomplished spellcaster, wracking the enemy with spasms of agony, clouding their minds with dark whispers of glory and creating insidious illusions of their worst fears and greatest desires. A Keeper of Secrets delights in using its guileful and malign magics to turn friend upon friend, enamouring and englamouring the foe with tricks and illusions to cloud the mind. Those few brave mortals who would face up to a Keeper of Secrets must be pure of heart and mind, for such a monster is surrounded by many seductive enchantments that lull the conscious will and deaden the senses.[1b]
Many heroes have been unable to resist their own primal urges and desires while the Greater Daemon of Slaanesh toys with them, dismembering them with exhilarating delicacy and precision. Keepers of Secrets have no fear of pain or injury themselves, and every sensation, be it painful or pleasurable, provokes from it only exhilarated squeals and cries that assail not only the senses, but also the fundamental pillars of reason itself. Keepers of Secrets consume the souls of those whom they slay, delicate dainties that further empower Slaanesh. As such, to fight a Keeper of Secrets is to risk not merely a terrible and agonising death, but also tempt eternal damnation. It is said that Keepers of Secrets favour the soul-stuff of Elves above that of all other races — why this should be so is unclear, but no realm suffers as greatly from the predations of Slaaneshi Daemons as does the isle of Ulthuan.[1b]
Exalted Keepers of Secrets
There is no creature more lithesome on the battlefield than an Exalted Keeper of Secrets -- it pirouettes through combat, its many long and sensuous arms gracefully whirling an array of razor-sharp nails, keening blades and claws with heavily serrated cutting edges. In the pale Daemon's weaving wake, limbs are sheared off, innards are spilled and blood is splattered in fountain-like arcs, all perfectly choreographed, all falling to the ground in aesthetically pleasing patterns.
A Keeper of Secrets is a formidable foe, able to cast alluring deadly spells or disembowel a Dragon in close combat, yet perhaps the most lethal aspect of these Slayers of Slaanesh is their ability to see inside to a creature's innermost desires and thus expertly tempt them towards eternal damnation. An Exalted Keeper of Secrets has performed such exquisite services and delivered so many souls to the Dark Prince of Chaos, that the Lord of Excess has granted a glorious gift -- he has allowed the Keeper of Secrets to suckle at his own divine power. Such power swells through a Great Daemon so it grows mightier still. Ripples of pleasure and pain wash out from their graceful and long-limbed bodies, numbing any not pure of both heart and mind with a cacophony of overwrought sensation.
The mundane world cannot long support the unnatural energy that pours out of an Exalted Keeper of Secrets, and such a Daemon can only walk upon the mortal realm during those rare peak periods of Chaotic power. Yet when these times do come, the Exalted Keeper of Secrets struts eagerly into the world, desperate to unleash their seductive enchantments and reap ever more souls for the Prince of the palace of Pleasures.
Infamous Keepers of Secrets
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Daemons of Chaos (8th Edition)
- 2: Tome of Corruption (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 2a: pg. 246 - 247
- 3 Storm of Magic (Supplement)