Monday, 11 November 2013

The Pantheon of Chaos

The Four Great Powers of Chaos

The most powerful of the Chaos entities are those known as the Chaos Gods, also sometimes referred to as the "Dark Gods" or the "Ruinous Powers". These entities are described as being enormously powerful, and seeking to extend that power into the realm of mortals. They do this by attracting followers amongst mortals by promising power, wealth, immortality or whatever else the potential servant desires. The gods are typically capricious, selfish and vain, demanding absolute loyalty from their servants and rewarding deeds when they wish, in whatever ways they deem appropriate.

There are many Lesser Powers, but only four Great ones:

Khorne - God of hate, rage, and bloodshed. Khorne is the Chaos God of hate, rage and bloodshed. Every act of killing gives Khorne power; the more senseless and destructive, the better. Among the four great powers, Khorne is the most powerful of them all.
Khorne is the power of Chaos in its most violent and senseless aspect, a violence driven only by hatred and rage, and destroying friend and foe alike.
Khorne himself is seen as a mighty being of titanic size, clad in armour, and sitting atop a mighty and weirdly carved throne of brass worked in skulls, which itself is held aloft by a mountain of skulls standing in a sea of blood - the remains of his followers who have died in battle and all those they have slain.
As with his fellow Chaos gods, Khorne appears to be linked with an aspect of the sentient mind; in his case, it appears to be anger. This is probably the root of Khorne's dominant position in the pantheon, as such factious places as the Warhammer world would doubtless provide much sustenance for him.
The battle cry of the followers of Khorne reflects his desire for wanton violence: "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!"

Slaanesh - God of decadence, excess, pleasure and self-indulgence.Slaanesh is the Chaos god of lust, excess, pleasure, perfection and hedonism.
Slaanesh typically appears in a form which is male on the left side and female on the right, with two sets of devilish horns growing from its head. It can however assume any form; male, female, hermaphrodite or asexual, but prefers male bodies.
The name of Slaanesh derives from his Dark Tongue name of "Slaaneth", from which also derives the other names he is known by. Slaanesh is known as the Loesh the Serpent to the Tokmar of the Eastern Steppes and as Shornaal the Prideful to the Skaeling of Norsca, while in the more civilised lands of the south he is known as the Dark Prince of Chaos, Prince of Excess or Prince of Pleasure.
Slaanesh is opposed to Khorne, whose demand for bloody self-sacrifice is completely at odds with Slaanesh's principle of a life of self-indulgence and pleasure.

Tzeentch - God of change, manipulation, scheming, deception and Tzeentch is closely associated with sorcery and magic, as well as dynamic mutation, and grand, convoluted schemes. It is said that Tzeentch knows the fate of everything, and all events transpire according to some great plan beyond mortal reckoning. The mortal champions of Tzeentch are especially dangerous, as they wield awesome sorcerous power on top of their considerable physical prowess.
All Chaos Gods derive their power from essential and driving aspects of mortal nature. In Tzeentch's case, this is the will and desire for change. The desire to accumulate forbidden lore, change and manipulate our surroundings, as well as intrigue, evolution, and sorcery; these are the tools used to enact change, benevolent or malevolent. Through subtle manipulation and the use of sorcery, Tzeentch's followers further the aims of their patron. His diametric opposition is Nurgle. Where Tzeentch's power is derived from the will to change and to forge one's destiny, Nurgle's comes from the defiance of despair and the inevitable decay of all things.
Tzeentch is often visualised as the serpent that writhes and twists to represent constant change, or as a large bird with feathers of everchanging colour.

Nurgle - God of decay, despair, and disease. Of the four Chaos Gods he is said to be the most attentive and involved with the plight of mortals. Those afflicted by his contagions often turn to him in order to escape their suffering. The physical likeness of Nurgle is described as gigantic and bloated with corruption, with foul-coloured leathery and necrotic skin.
Nurgle is also known by the names Neiglen, Onogal and Nurglitch, derived from his Dark Tongue name of Nurgleth. Human Chaos Marauders call him Lord of Flies or the Plague Crow.
All Chaos Gods are embodiments of the hopes, fears and other emotions and concepts generated by mortals. In Nurgle's case, the source of power is the mortal fear of inevitable death and disease, and their unconscious response to that fear, which is the motivating power that drives the lives of mortals.
Nurgle and his daemons, in contrast to their morbid and putrid appearance, are jovial and friendly in demeanor. Nurgle is often referred to as Grandfather Nurgle, Father Nurgle or Papa Nurgle by his followers because of his paternal nature.
Nurgle's main enemy is Tzeentch, the Lord of Change, as the two draw their power from opposing sources. Tzeentch is hope and changing fortune, while Nurgle is defiance born of despair and hopelessness.
Nurgle's sacred number is seven. His symbol is the tripartite fly - often rendered as three spheres arranged in a triangle.

Each of the four Great Powers has its own opposite number, another Chaos God who draws its power from a diametrically opposing concept. The most dedicated worshippers have devoted their souls to the Chaos Gods in hopes of gaining power only Chaos can grant. These Champions are marked by their patron, and as they progress on their path gain mutations which increasingly reshapes them more closely to the god's favoured image.
Other Chaos Gods

Besides the Four Great Powers, there exists a multitude of lesser Chaos gods. It is impossible to say whether this apparent multitude are actually distinct entities, or whether they are no more than aspects of the same being. Many are minor gods with very little background material, such as Khakkekk (Goblin God of Blood), Atagro (God of Beasts), Meneloth (Elven God of Pleasure), and Mermedus (God of the Sea).

The lesser Chaos Gods who have been mentioned are below.

Be'lakor - also known as The Dark Master, Be'lakor was once a mighty champion of the Dark Gods, but he fell from grace and was stripped of his power. He is now considered a Daemon Prince, but has attempted to attain Godhood. His power is such that he can grant his followers "Dark Emissaries" magic spells similar to other Gods. At the dawn of time, Be'lakor was blessed by all Chaos gods. In the time before the rise of the Elves against Chaos, Be'lakor held the world in an iron fist, commanding hordes of daemons in the name of Chaos. As absolute ruler of the world, Be'lakor began to look upon mortals with disdain. His arrogance led to his downfall, incurring the ire of the Dark God Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways. The Lord of Magic cursed Be'lakor and stripped him of his power, denying him physical form and forcing him into mindless subservience to Chaos. As a final twisted curse, Tzeentch forced Be'lakor to become the Harbinger, the one who would crown the Everchosen. Tzeentch granted the hate-filled spirit access to the secret paths to the Crown of Domination - an ancient battle helm that was the symbol of the Everchosen, attainable only by running a gauntlet of Daemons and Chaos Spawn at the First Shrine to Chaos, deep in the Blade's Edge Mountains. But Be'lakor would never wear it himself...a fact that incensed him more than his bodiless state

Hashut - Hashut, the Father of Darkness, is the God of the Chaos Dwarfs. Hashut, the Father of Darkness, is the god of the Chaos Dwarfs. The brazen idols of the god depict him as bull-like or bull-headed. The Chaos Dwarfs abandoned the traditional Dwarfen Ancestor Gods for the worship of Hashut.
Hashut is an evil god, a Chaos god, uniquely associated with the Chaos Dwarfs, who call him the Father of Darkness and themselves the Sons of the Father of Darkness. Hashut is the god of Zharr-Naggrund, the City of Fire and Desolation, and the pinnacle of the ziggurat-city is the Temple of Hashut, and at the top of the temple is an iron statue of Hashut, its hollow belly a furnace fed by coals until the entire statue is red-hot.
The creatures of the Chaos Dwarfs reflect the bull-like appearance of Hashut. Chaos Dwarfs rarely develop bull-like mutations, including horns, tails and cloven hoofs. During the Time of Chaos when the Chaos Dwarfs were first mutated, some gained the lower torsos of bulls, becoming the Bull Centaurs. These rare creatures are unable to wield magic, but are devoted worshipers of the Father of Darkness and serve as the elite guard of the Temple of Hashut. Other Chaos Dwarfs mutated into the Great Taurus and Lammasu..

The Horned Rat - the Horned Rat is the God of the Skaven. He embodies decay, and by extension anything that furthers the process of decay, most notably, disease, pestilence, rats, and other characteristics of the Skaven race.The Horned Rat is the only god worshipped by the Skaven, his symbol is the rough equilateral triangle and his sacred number is 13. He is usually depicted as a great rat with curved horns.
He is a deity of Chaos and longs for the destruction of civilisation. Clan Pestilens focuses itself in his aspect of bringer of disease, plague and pestilence.
The Pillar of Commandments is held his most sacred gift to his children, the Skaven. Every candidate for the Council of Thirteen has to touch it , effectively surrendering his fate into the paws of the Horned Rat. Most perish immediately while others become his chosen ones.
His prophets, the 169 Grey Seers, are extremely influential throughout all Skavendom. Very important agents of the council, they also preach of the Great Ascendancy , a time in which the innumerable Skaven hordes will rise to the surface and finally conquer and enslave all surface nations. The centre of his cult is located in Skavenblight, the capital of the Skaven.
His arch-enemies are Sigmar, patron God of The Empire, and Sotek, the Great Serpent God of the Lizardmen.

Malal - the renegade God, enemy of the Chaos gods. The concept of the Chaos God "Malal" was created by comics writers John Wagner and Alan Grant along with Malal's champion, Kaleb Daark, for the Warhammer Fantasy world in the Citadel Miniatures Compendium and Journals. In the comic strip adventure Kaleb Daark's mission allied him temporarily with the forces of good. He fights at the siege of Praag and confronts the followers of the Chaos God Khorne, and also finds himself at odds with the Skaven. Less mutated than other followers of Chaos, he is equipped with his soul-drinking daemon axe Dreadaxe with its pterodactyl-like head on a shaft of bone. His shield was shaped in the form of Malal's skull symbol, his armor was all-black with white details and his steed was a black mutant horse. Kaleb himself appeared pale, as the contact with Malal supposedly drained him of energy. His battle cry was "Dreadaxe thirsts for you!"

Necoho - a renegade minor God known as the "Doubter", representing aspects of agnosticism and atheism.
Necoho the Doubter is one of the renegade Chaos Gods. Necoho's warp-spawned existence owes itself to a paradox which should, by mortal logic, make his very subsistence impossible. He is a deity who represents the struggle against the entire notion of gods and religion. Needless to say, this means that his following is extremely small, even for an obscure renegade Chaos God. This is doubtlessly the way Necoho likes it. In the rare event he makes some sort of appearance to mortals, he often appears in the form of a short, slightly plump old human man, with a permanent expression of ironic amusement etched upon his face.
Necoho has no known symbol, and has no temples or holy days, considering every day equally non-holy. He offers nothing to his followers, and asks nothing of them.
Necoho is generally opposed to all other cults of all kinds. The only exception is when helping one cult or hindering another would undermine the cult's credibility among its followers.

Zuvassin - a renegade minor God known as the "Great Undoer", representing a desire to foil the efforts of others. Zuvassin the Undoer is one of the renegade Chaos Gods, along with Malal and Necoho. He is a meddler, constantly striving to undo the things which others have done and to soil the efforts of others. His brand of Chaos leads him to ensure that nothing turns out as expected, and that all plans will go awry. He does not confine his sabotage to Chaos, but will quite readily spoil anything for anyone; however, because he is a Chaos God who acts against the purest essence of Chaos, he has been classified by human scholars as a ‘renegade’ god. He appears frequently to his followers, donning in a variety of guises, often choosing to take the form of the thing which they fear most, or that of a member of their own race who is horribly disfigured or deformed. No matter what form he takes, he is always laughing.
The symbol of Zuvassin is a double ended Y-shape, which is normally depicted incomplete or otherwise incorrect in some way; some part may be missing, or something may have been added to it.
Zuvassin is the patron of those who desire to use his powers to sabotage or undo something. All those who follow him find their plans going wrong in the process. There are a handful of cults in the Old World devoted to him, and he has been known to usurp cults which think they are worshipping another of the Chaos Gods, in order to revel in the confusion and misery of letting them down. Zuvassin, living up to his title, can undo everything, even removing the taint of Chaos from an individual by removing their mutations.
Zuvassin is an enemy of all of Chaos, even including the other Renegade Gods, but it has been known for him to ally himself with another of the Gods of Chaos in order to thwart another's plans; for example, he might decide to aid the forces of Khorne in conflict with those of Slaanesh, (or vice-versa), if one of the Chaos Gods has a scheme which looks like it can't fail.
Zuvassin will never refuse anyone who is foolish enough to offer him their loyalty; even the most exhaustive of terms will not worry him, as he is confident of being able to make things go wrong if it suits him to do so. Zuvassin imposes no restrictions upon his followers, since any character who is truly imbued with his spirit would be able to make any instructions misfire.

Chaos Undivided

In addition to the individual gods, some followers of the Dark Gods worship Chaos in other ways. Some followers worship the gods as a pantheon rather than following one particular god. Other followers worship Chaos as a single great entity, with the various Chaos Gods simply manifestations of that entity's aspects. Still others may simply follow one god briefly and then switch allegiance to another, owing more to convenience than actual faith. Regardless of the nature of their worship, all of these are grouped together as Chaos Undivided; followers of Chaos Undivided may bear a mark, similar to the followers of the four great Gods.
Generals who bear the mark of Chaos Undivided, have more freedom from the effects of the difficult relations between the Chaos Gods. As an example, while warriors who worship Slaanesh would not serve a general who worships Khorne, an Undivided general can convince these gods' warriors to fight for him, without fear of reprisal from Khorne or Slaanesh.
Also, other more specialized forms of the mark of Chaos Undivided exist which are usually carried by extraordinary leaders. For example, Archaon is marked as the "Everchosen" or the "Lord of the End Times".

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