- "I watch you. I see the hatred in your eyes, well hidden behind courtly graces. I listen. I know the terrible darkness that hides behind your well-rehearsed lies. I wait for you at the edge of sanity. I taste the pain in your mind, the yearning to end this charade. I make my home in the darkest pits of your soul. In the shadows, I bide my time. I patiently wait for you to open your eyes and realise that it is by my will alone that you draw breath. For I am Tzeentch and you are my puppet who dances to my tune."
- —Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways.
Tzeentch, known also as The Raven God, the Changer of Ways and the Great Conspirator is the Chaos God of magic, change, evolution, destiny, lies and trickery. He is flux embodied, a daemon-god who alone truly embodies the terrible energies and momentum of Chaos. He bears a strong claim to all who profess to worship the Northern Gods, for without transformation, a warrior cannot ascend to greatness, the gods cannot grant their blessings, and the living cannot die.
Tzeentch's name is derivative from his true name in the Dark Tongue; Tzeen'neth, Lord of Change. He is the Great Sorcerer of Chaos, and Bringer of Change, for make no mistake -- endless, broiling change is the truest nature of Chaos, and Chaos is the source of the eldritch energies that mortals, in their superstition, have named "magic."
What mortal can dare say that he has not desired knowledge of the mysteries of destiny, or the awesome power of magic? It is Tzeentch alone who holds the true key to this terrible knowledge, and his price is steep indeed. For his worshippers are naught but pawns in his game to outflank his Brothers in Darkness and to bring about the downfall of all civilisation. The Raven God rewards his followers with madness and insanity, and upon death their spirits are brought to his halls to serve him for all eternity. Yet, the Raven God does not scheme towards the accomplishment of some end, but instead, strives to create tumult and turmoil for its own sake.
Though weary scholars of Daemon lore know this god by the name of Tzeentch, in truth, he exceeds all the other Ruinous Powers in his number of facets and aspects. For he is change, said to embody every mortal creature's recognition of, and desire to, change. His face and form shifts and turns from eternity unto eternity.
To the vicious barbarians of Norsca, he is the Raven God. In the dreaded East, he is known as Chen the Deceiver, and the Kurgan tribes hold that his messengers are the great condors of the Steppes. Yet whatever his mien and whomever his people, the Changer is ever viewed as the Great Schemer, a fickle, politicking god who should be feared as much as he should not be trusted.
In grimoires prescribed by half-sane men, the devotees of Tzeentch scribble down their respective visions of their god. No two accounts are alike. Sometimes the god is depicted as a huge mass of shifting colours, or as a mighty Daemon with a vulturous beak and multi-hued wings, and other times as a gangrel giant with its monstrous head set squarely in its chest, and with two serpents writhing from its shoulders.
The followers of Tzeentch hold that he rules from an Impossible Fortress deep within the Realm of Chaos. At its heart, within a crystalline labyrinth of inconceivable geometry, lies the Hidden Library, a hall of eternal dimensions that houses the collective knowledge of the entire universe. Within it lies also the fabled Well of Eternity, and into its magic waters does Tzeentch gaze for aeons uncounted, searching intently for a glimpse of the clues and conundrums that will allow him to enact his ineffable schemes.
Tzeentch possesses many sigils and symbols, though the most common is the writhing fire of change. Daemon and champion alike are gifted with eerie bird-like beaks, claws, and multi-coloured feathers. Their skin and armour are in constant flow, shifting in shape and textures, forming grotesque, cackling faces and kaleidoscopes of blazing colour that disorient all who look upon them.
Those few who succeed upon this twisting path become the most other-wordly of all Chaos Champions. For they are blessed twofold with incredible martial skill and the arcane might of the Lord of Magic. While the warrior-skill of the Chosen of Tzeentch is still second to those warriors who tread Khorne's bloody path, their potent magical abilities are still enough to empower them as formidable adversaries who lead their armies with otherwordly prescience.
Though the servitors of Tzeentch are not as directly mighty or savagely courageous as those of bloodthirsty Khorne, nor possessing the unholy resiliency of the warriors of Nurgle, the might of the Changer of Ways cannot be measured with means so crude as the physical. The skies above a Tzeentchian warband writhe and burn with untrammeled power. Their banners screech with otherwordly energies and seethe and crackle with bolts of lightning that bring ruination to the enemy.
The blades and armour of a Chosen of Tzeentch glow with eldritch flame, and when the Raven is ascendant, his champions are gifted with a preternatural ability to sense and perceive the flow of time itself and instinctively react to over a dozen different outcomes, thus affording them tactical supremacy over the battlefield. Warshrines draw forth yet more arcane power into the ranks of the faithful, even as the warrior-wizards at their head unleash curses of ungodly power that mutate or immolate all they touch.
Though Tzeentch gathers fewer devotees from amongst the brute tribes of Norsca and Kurgan than the War-God Khorne, he still occupies a highly significant role in the lives of the warriors of the North. He is the patron of the shaman and soothsayers of the far north, who pray to him that he may bestow them pre-eminence over the warrior-chieftains who rule the tribes, and for fortune and glory in all magical endeavours. But it is amongst the lands of the Empire and far Cathay that Tzeentch's influence is most keen. In the land of Sigmar, the worshippers of Tzeentch gather in hidden covens by which they use every means to increase their own personal standing in society and spread the power of their patron.
Those most vulnerable to his temptations are the mages, scholars, and other educated members of society who labour in the search for knowledge, whatever the cost to their morals or sanity. Most of these cults are led by magisters -- the most accomplished magician in the ranks, and are divided into so many layers of affiliation, each highly complex, that the only individual in the cult likely to know the identity of all its members is the magister himself.
By contrast, in Cathay, the worship of Tzeentch is an officially recognised cult, and the veneration of this Dark God is foolishly allowed to progress free and unmolested, albeit in a form more controlled and suited to civilisation than the brutality of the Norse and Kurgan.
The tribes of the North who venerate Tzeentch believe him to be the lord of the sky, and that by entering a trance-like state, they too can soar the heavens alongside him, communing with him and learning his will. It is he, they maintain, that understands the hearts and minds of men better than his brothers. Tzeentch's favoured totem beast is the Raven, and it is in his aspect of the raven that he is worshipped amongst the Norsemen. The eagle is yet another beast sacred to Tzeentch, one by which he is honoured by both Norse and Kurgan alike.
Such animals are said to be his eyes in the mortal realm and to see one is considered an omen amongst those who profess to serve him. Whether one for good or ill, none can say, for Tzeentch delights in misdirection and subterfuge, and the only limit to his capriciousness is his own anarchic imagination.
Tzeentch's sacred number is nine, and this is reflected in the organisations of his cults and warbands, who often congregate in multiples or divisors of nine, and also in the number of syllables in a Tzeentchian Daemon's true name. His favoured colours are blue and gold, but an ever-shifting spectrum of different colours is likewise thought to honour him in his capacity as the engine of change. One thing alone is certain, however, that whenever the Raven stirs from his reverie, madness, treachery and strife afflict creation.
The Raven God
- "Do not ask which creature screams in the night. Do not question who waits for you in the shadow. It is my cry that wakes you in the night, and my body that crouches in the shadow. I am Tzeentch and you are the puppet that dances to my tune..."
- —The Book of Tzeentch.
The Dark God known as Tzeentch is perhaps the most maddening and enigmatic of all the Ruinous Powers. Indeed, his true goals are difficult to fathom -- if he seeks to control the world, then his methods are oblique, at best. The Great Conspirator seems most content in allowing his mortal slaves to further his plans. Tzeentch enjoys blessing mortals with power too great for them to bear, particularly in the case of magicians and wizards. In the case of those without magical potential, the Conspirator instead offers to reveal ancient knowledge and secret ways to bring down rivals. Ultimately however, none can hazard a guess as to Tzeentch's ultimate goal -- to do so is to invite madness. His many conspiracies often seem to be self-defeating and contradictory, for each ineffable manoeuvre has been intricately planned into eternity itself. Perhaps it is that the dark schemes he uses to torment mortalkind are naught but an amusing diversion for him, perhaps only the insane can truly comprehend his infinite thoughts; for perhaps he is insane himself, and his plans, are, in fact, utterly devoid of all reason.
Amongst the tribes of the North, the shamans of Norsca and the Eastern Steppes teach that during the mythic ages of the world, when the gods of Chaos made war upon the Old Ones, it was Tzeentch who was foremost amongst the gods, for this was his time; a time of wild magic and unrestrained sorcery, where daemons and mutations ran rampant and the world faced the most primal of all change in the throes of war and death and the overthrow of an old order. The other gods saw Tzeentch's glory and grew jealous, and jealousy in turn became fear that he would eclipse them all in power and might. Thus, the other gods conspired and hatched a plan to tear him from his lofty perch. The gods ambushed the Changer and faced him in battle, but so mighty was the Raven that he threw all but one back, and so it was that in the end Khorne alone was left, to pit the strength of steel against sorcery. For ages uncounted did the two mighty gods battle atop a great mountain, evenly matched until Khorne caught Tzeentch by his throat and threw him from the highest peak. Where the Great Conspirator fell, his form was shattered into ten thousand pieces that flew across eternity, each shard metamorphosing into an incantation of magical power; thus becoming the spells that trip from the tongues of arcane practitioners to this day. Thus was Tzeentch's power now faded, and victorious Khorne took his place as First amongst the company of the Dark Gods.
This myth illustrates that ultimately all magic is the product of Tzeentch, and that to cast a spell is to traffic with the very essence of the Changer of Ways. While this is an openly accepted truth in the North, the civilised realms of the Empire and Kislev are largely ignorant of this terrible fact (or actively suppress it, fearful of the consequences should the truth get out).
The god of magic favours the cunning over the strong, the manipulative over the violent. He directs the fates of mortals, and guides them down their paths in his schemes, though they often do not know that they were ever even players in his dark games. He is especially fond of imparting special authority upon magicians in this respect, as well as creatures and beings formed of magic itself. He delights in observing the politicking and conspiracies that mortals perform against each other of their own accord, for here indeed is the potential that has drawn him to watch over mankind. And such is his skill at brokering and deception, that is often said in the tales of the Northmen that is Tzeentch who brokers the tenuous cessations in fraternal warfare between the Gods, which allows them to unite in their blessings to drive the hordes of the savage North to their incursions of untold bloodshed and annihilation.
Warriors of Tzeentch
- "For the Raven God!"
- —Various Chosen of Tzeentch.
Tzeentch is the god of sorcery and magic; a distant, capricious god who demands strength and cunning in equal measure. While the brutal Khorne reviles the use of arcane trickery as dishonourable, and therefore forbids its usage, the Raven God is far more pragmatic, and sees no qualm with exploiting brute force when it will serve his aims.
As a result, the warriors of Tzeentch are often both capable warriors and master wizards, making them incredibly dangerous opponents. Tzeentch, in his various aspects, is commonly venerated by the shaman in the far North. Indeed, as the ultimate god of magic, even sorcerers dedicated to Nurgle or Slaanesh are wise enough to provide him offerings. He is also the god of chieftains and leaders, and though it is far more common for the warrior-kings of the northern tribes to pay homage unto Khorne, Tzeentch's role as the Weaver of Fates compels even the jarls and zars of the Northmen to cultivate his favour, lest they instead draw his ire.
The reputation of the northern warriors of Tzeentch for meticulously prosecuting the strategy of war is rightly legendary, and it has thus often appeared to the Empire's generals that almost every eventuality in battle has been planned for in advance. Indeed, even should an army of Norsemen or one of the other barbarian hordes dedicated to Tzeentch be broken and routed, it is always difficult to discern whether this is a true victory, or merely just the latest in a long series of steps in an unfathomably complex plan wrought by the Changer of Ways.
The followers of Tzeentch are often capable warriors in their own right, but it is in their capacity for maleficent spell-craft and masterful manipulation that they truly excel. The greatest amongst their number are amongst the most mutated of all the followers of Chaos, armed with devastatingly powerful magical weaponry and mighty armour etched endlessly with runes of protection and aid, and are amongst the most terrifying of the servants of Chaos.
Yet in spite of the great power granted by the veneration of the Great Conspirator, there are few tribes in the North who would take him as their sole patron. This is particularly true in Norsca, where many prefer the bloody honour of Khorne's path. However, the worship of Tzeentch is relatively more common amongst the Kurgan tribes, who place great importance upon the evolving nature of the world.
Regardless, by and large, the Raven God is perhaps the least called upon deity of the bleak northlands. The natural Northern antipathy and distrust for magic is likely also a contributing factor. However, whatever they lack in numbers they make up for in cunning.
For beyond any faculty of magic or martial might, the servants of Tzeentch are feared chiefly for their impressive cunning. Many times has a warband of Northmen dedicated to Tzeentch overcome a foe of greater strength through means of espionage and subterfuge, causing disruptions that divide the enemy, allowing the savages to cut them down and make of them offerings to their abhorrent master.
Tzeentch, even amongst the dread deities of Chaos, is perhaps the most active in portioning out the dubious gifts of mutation. Indeed, it is in his very nature to do so, as he embodies that particular aspect of Chaos more deeply than any of this brothers. Truly, his followers bear the most maddening and hideous of all the marks of Chaos, as well as perhaps the most deadly.
Daemon Servants of Tzeentch
The Daemons of Tzeentch are inherently magical creatures, even more so than the other daemons of Chaos; they appear ephemeral, transparent or as if made of light. Their very presence can alter the rules of reality, and they can leave trails of multi-coloured fire and mist behind them as they move.
- Lords of Change - Are the greater daemons of Tzeentch. They are typically an avian-like winged humanoid daemon of vast intelligence and massive sorcerous and psychic power, although less so in physical strength at least compared to other greater daemons. However, they are the masters of magic, and can conjure up many magical spells that could devastate whole armies, bringing nothing but destruction in its wake.
- Horrors - are the most common amongst Tzeentch's daemonic ranks. Arguably the most bizarre of all daemons in appearance, horrors of Tzeentch manifest as an ever-changing mass of shifting, gangly limbs with a central torso that normally sports a cackling or leering face in the centre - though the horror's face can vanish and randomly reappear elsewhere on their body. There are two classification by color, Pink Horrors, and Blue Horrors.
- Flamers - Daemonic servants of Tzeentch with numerous gaping maws that produce the searing flames which give these daemons their name. Flamers excel at leading assaults on defensive positions, since there is no fortification that can offer protection against their magical fire. They attack by unleashing roaring gouts of alchemical fire from their arms. These fires are highly unpredictable, and can have a wide variety of effects - sometimes burning anything that they come in contact with to ashes in a multi-hued conflagration, sometimes turning them into frozen crystal, or even spraying surprised enemies with an iridescent cascade of sweet-tasting liquor.
- Screamers - ray-like creatures that swoop down on foes and cut them apart with their sharp claws before retreating and charging again. Screamers are very agile due to their ability of flight and possess a feral but cunning intellect. Though they are able to use magic-based attacks, their greatest weapons are their so-called warp jaws which allow them to chew through all kinds of solid matter, even the armor of knights.
- Discs of Tzeentch - a meld of magic, metal, and daemon, often used as a transport for a mortal or Daemonic champion, they are said to be bound forms of screamers. Screamers that are chosen to serve as mounts for a Champion of Tzeentch are bound in magnificent bands and blades and turned into Discs of Tzeentch. These flying daemonic steeds are tied to the will of their masters, combining great mobility and calculated thinking.
The Maze of Tzeentch
The Maze of Tzeentch, also known as the Crystal Labyrinth, is Tzeentch's domain within the Realm of Chaos. This maze is woven from the raw fabric of magic, threaded upon deceit and conspiracy. Of all the landscapes of the Dark Realm, this domain is by far the most bizarre and incomprehensible, for its crystalline structures force travellers to view all nine dimensions simultaneously. This effect not only distorts the senses of any who intrude, but also pulls apart their purpose and aspirations and turns them to insanity and despair.
Interchanging, shifting avenues made of pure crystals of every colour crisscross Tzeentch's realm. Hidden pathways built from lies and schemes lead out from the maze and infiltrate the dominions of other gods, binding together the fractious Realms of Chaos. The maze itself has no Daemonic defenders. Its own illusory passages are enough of a barrier to any intruder not possessed of the strongest mind imaginable. Its glittering corridors reflect not only light but also hope, misery, dreams and nightmares.
Driven by Tzeentch's unconscious schemes, the labyrinth constantly moves and rearranges. Those lost within the maze's reaches will wander for eternity with their minds shattered, their dreams broken upon the wheel of their own failed ambition. At the centre of the maze, hidden from those who have not the insane insight to find it, stands the Impossible Fortress. The architecture of the bastion is constantly replaced by new and ever more maddening spires, gates, and walls. Doors and other entrance points yawn open like starving mouths, before clamping for eternity moments later, barring all access.
Within the Fortress time and space do not exist at all and gravity shifts and changes, or disappears altogether. Lights of every colour, some even unknown in the real universe, spring from the shifting walls. For mortals, who are so locked in their physical ways, the fortress is impenetrable. Men are driven insane, while their bodies might implode or be pulled apart by the forces unleashed by Tzeentch's passing thoughts.
Even immortal Daemons cannot easily endure the twisted horror of the Impossible Fortress and only the Lords of Change can safely navigate its corridors, and tread the secret paths that lead to the inner sanctum of the fortress, the Hidden Library, where Tzeentch, the puppet master himself resides, eternally plotting.
- Armybook: Hordes of Chaos (6th Edition) pg. 16
- Armybook: Warriors of Chaos (7th Edition) pg. 22
- Armybook: Warriors of Chaos (8th Edition) pg. 10
- Liber Chaotica: Tzeentch (Background Book) pg. 4 - 6, 10 - 16, 42 - 55, 82 - 92
- Liber Mutatis (RPG) pg. 3 - 6, 8 - 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 - 15, 22 - 26