In Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 fictional universes, Chaos refers to the often stereotypically malevolent entities which live in a parallel universe, known as the Warp in Warhammer 40,000 and as the Realm of Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy. The term can refer to these warp entities and their influence, the servants and worshippers of these entities, or even the parallel universe in which these entities are supposed to reside. The most powerful of these warp entities are those known as the Chaos Gods, also sometimes referred to as the Dark Gods, Ruinous Powers, or the Powers of Chaos. They are very similar to and may have been influenced by the concept of Chaos from Michael Moorcock's Elric saga,[1] and the godlike extradimensional Great Old Ones of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft's stories.

The Chaos Gods

The concept of Chaos Gods has been a more or less integral part of both Warhammer universes ever since they were first conceived. The Chaos Gods in Warhammer are essentially deities worshipped by various groups and that is what makes these groups followers of Chaos. In this idea there is evidently a strong influence from the British fantasy writer Michael Moorcock. Many different Chaos Gods were named in the various early miniature catalogues released by Citadel in the early eighties. But it was never clearly explained what the fictional pantheon looked like. The idea of "Four Great Powers of Chaos", i.e. Chaos Gods, was first introduced in the two Realm of Chaos sourcebooks released 1988 and 1990 respectively. To date these are the most detailed and defining pieces of work published by Games Workshop regarding Chaos.

Both game worlds depict fictional settings out of spiritual balance, where emotions from any creature of a psychic nature in the "real world" are able to coagulate into energy, and eventually matter, and gain consciousness in a mystical (or psychic) context in this parallel universe, "the Warp" or "the Realm of Chaos" (40K and Fantasy respectively). In the two game settings, Chaos represents the classic theme of Man vs. Himself, with the fantasy twist of giving these psychological struggles a physical form and influence. In both settings, Chaos is seen as a seductive force, capable of corrupting anyone.

Current background material for both settings still state that there are many Chaos Gods, but the idea that there are four which are significantly more powerful than the rest is still there. The four great gods are often used as antagonists in their respective settings, frequently sparking great wars against other factions with the aim of gaining total domination over the entire setting. The names and aspects of these four great gods are:

  • Khorne - God of Blood, unrelenting fury and war
  • Tzeentch - God of Change, Magic and endless schemes and plots
  • Nurgle - God of Decay, disease and physical corruption
  • Slaanesh - God of Hedonism, excess, and pleasure


Khorne is the Chaos God of rage, war and martial valour. He acts outwardly by seeking the deaths of others, preferring close combat over ranged weaponry, and the only things he respects are strength and martial prowess. As such, he is completely opposed to the decadent Slaanesh.

Khorne is described as an extremely well-muscled, horned, beast-headed monster that stands hundreds of feet tall, seated on a brass throne atop a mountain of skulls in a field of splintered bones and lakes of blood and wielding a terrible sword, a weapon said to be so powerful that a single slash from it can tear open rifts in time and space, and destroy worlds with a stroke. The skulls are described as belonging to both his victims and his worshippers alike, as Khorne cares not from whom the blood flows, only that it does. Khorne's personal rune takes the shape of a stylised skull. Khorne's sacred number is 8.

In Warhammer Fantasy Battle, Khornate champions are usually seen dressed in red, gold and brass and typically carry large axes, although other weapons such as swords and spears appear occasionally. The Khornate rune is typically displayed prominently on their armour. The warriors of Khorne throw themselves mindlessly into combat, eager to harvest more skulls for Khorne's throne. They believe that a day without blood being spilled in Khorne's name is a day wasted, and thus they often fight each other if there are no other foes to be found nearby. Khorne despises spellcasting as the weapon of cowards and weaklings and has no Sorcerers in his ranks, though magical weapons that aid the slaughter in his name are acceptable.

In Warhammer 40,000, the Chaos Space Marines who worship Khorne are known as "Berserkers". They typically come from the World Eaters Legion but are not exclusive to that legion. Once used as shock troops in the armies of the Imperium, the Legion fell into the worship of Khorne, turning from hardened warriors into blood-frenzied psychopaths that only live to kill.

The Great Blood-Fortress of Khorne is always geared for war. Massive forges and factories ring with the hammering of steel, and daemons pick up sword and axes, and don sheets of chainmail, which soon sink under their flesh, leaving bloody and tattered skin behind. Extending from the cliff high Iron walls, great sheets of fresh skin, both human and alien, flutter in a never ending gale, and a sea of splintered bones and half gnawed gobbets of meat extend for miles around the gates. Within is a massive pile of skulls that stretch into the raging sky, and upon the bone mountain is the Throne of the Blood God, Khorne.


Tzeentch is described as the Chaos god of change and corruption personified by change and magic. Opposed to the diseased Nurgle, Tzeentch excels in subtle machinations and is patron to schemers and conspirators of all sorts.

Tzeentch is sometimes pictured as a cloud of Magic that constantly changes colour, a huge bird with multicoloured feathers, or an impossible creature that constantly changes form. In the Games Workshop supplement volume The Lost and the Damned (by far the most complete reference book ever dedicated to the god) he was depicted as a treelike entity, whose branches and appendages constantly twisted and curled on themselves, originating maddening patterns. More so than any other Chaos god, he is associated with spectacular and varied mutations, and his Daemons are typically depicted in outlandish, ever-shifting shapes. Tzeentch's personal rune looks like a stylised flame or serpent, usually blue in colour. Tzeentch's sacred number is 9.

In Warhammer Fantasy Battle, champions of Tzeentch are known especially for their powerful wizardly abilities, and often dressed in blues and golds. Of all the servants of the Dark Gods the followers of Tzeentch are the ones with the most bizarre mutations. Tzeentch takes much more interest in the world of mortals than his brother Gods and has a great number of highly influential cults in the societies of the mortal races. These are often founded by scholars, wizards or other such individuals who thirst for more knowledge or power.

In Warhammer 40,000, the Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marine legion is dedicated to the worship of Tzeentch. Among them, Ahriman the sorcerer attempted to curtail the effect of his patron's gifts of mutation to better preserve the legionnaires' remaining humanity. While his spell did succeed in stopping the mutations and empowering the legion's psykers, most of the marines who lacked psychic potential were rendered mindless automatons, entrapping and sealing their souls within their power armour and removing what lingering humanity they had left, leaving only a handful of dust. These 'rubric' marines are led into battle by the remaining sorcerers.

Tzeentch's realm is insane and unpredictable, an endless maze of crystal bound to nine dimensions, constantly shifting and moulding into new twisting paths and dead ends, and the great pulls of gravity and shifts of reality soon drive a man insane, kill him, or both. Tzeentch's palace itself reflects the dark gods ideals constantly changing shape and form, at one moment a blazing tower of blue fire might rise out of the structure and the next the flames turn to crystal or water. Tzeentch can be found inside the deeper sanctions of the palace in the Library, this is where is kept the well of eternity in which the god's loyal servants watch and record the twisting threads of destiny which the god changes to his own plots and schemes at a whim.


Nurgle is the Chaos god of despair, personified by stagnation, entropy, disease and decay. His power is said to come from the mortal races' reaction to the inevitability of death and disease. He is the adversary of Tzeentch.

Nurgle is depicted as a large hulking figure covered in oozing sores and vivid marks of decay. His numerous Daemons all embody the same diseased aesthetic, from the powerful Great Unclean Ones to the gibbering hordes of tiny daemons known as Nurglings. Nurgle's rune, a stylised depiction of a fly that resembles three circles adjacent to one another, bears a strong resemblance to the international biological hazard symbol. It is Nurgle who creates and lets loose the decay and disease that plagues mortals. Nurgle's sacred number is 7.

In Warhammer Fantasy, Nurgle's Champions are little more than decrepit men whose flesh is diseased and rotten, and whose armour can barely contain their swelling stomachs, which are bloated with corpse gases. This makes them very difficult to kill, an opposing general or soldier would have to literally chop him into pieces before he gives up on life. Their chosen weapon is the Death Scythe, but some tend to use rotten halberds, or rusted morning-stars or flails. Some even have been blessed with one of Nurgle's Plagueswords; weapons forged within Nurgle's own forge and coated in the juices of one of Nurgle's weeping sores. The poisonous filth that encrusts these swords is so toxic that even a single scratch is lethal.

In Warhammer 40,000, Nurgle is revered especially by the Death Guard legion of Chaos Space Marines. Originally devoted servants of the Emperor, they fell to the worship of Chaos following a plague that spread through their spaceship. In desperation, they turned to Nurgle for succour from the agonising disease, and became his most devoted servants, the Plague Marines. A favoured weapon of Nurgle is the 'Plaguesword', that causes anything it touches to rot and decay. Nurgle's domain is called the Garden of Nurgle, and according to some Eldar it has a very remarkable resident: Isha, the Eldar goddess of healing. Nurgle wrested her away from Slaanesh, saving her from destruction, but he dotes over her as only a god of disease can: by infecting her with diseases. Isha responds by curing herself and whilst he is busy working, Isha takes advantage of his distraction to instruct mortals on how to rid themselves of Nurgle's poxes.

Despite being the god of despair, Nurgle is described as protective and almost benevolent to his followers, earning him the nickname "Grandfather Nurgle". His daemons also seem to depict them all as part of one big family, where the Great Unclean One's seem to be father figures, Nurglings as playful and mischievous children and even the Beasts of Nurgle are portrayed as having the mind of an over-excited, very friendly puppy.

The Garden of Nurgle is full of rotted plants, diseased animals, and fetid pools of slime. Within these horrid places, nurglings and Great Unclean Ones bounce and play, while Beasts of Nurgle bound and tumble in mock fights.

In the very centre of the Garden, within the center of which is Nurgle's great mansion where Nurgle stirs his Great Cauldron, pouring in new diseases, viruses, and clumps of fungi. He takes sips, smacking his lips and muttering approvingly, and pets his children who bound over to greet him.

Historically, the concept of Nurgle probably comes from the ancient Babylonian god Nurgal, who represented war and pestilence. In Babylonian culture he was also closely associated with the noon-time sun and summer's solstice, and known as "the burning one" due to that association with the sun.


Template:Expand Slaanesh is the Chaos god of desire. A sensuous, androgynous deity associated with hedonism and decadence, he is known by many colourful names such as The Dark Prince, The Prince of Excess and The Feaster of Pain, but by the Eldar however, she is often referred to as The Great Enemy, She who Thirsts and She who is Not Named, among others. Those who yield to temptation becomes her slaves. Slaanesh's followers revel in sensory excess, luxuriating in the varied pleasures of warfare, perversion, and the arts. The arch enemy of Slaanesh is the Chaos God Khorne.

Slaanesh is said to be able to choose whether he will appear as a god or a goddess. He is often depicted as a colossus which is male on one half and female on the other. Of all the Ruinous Powers, only he is said to be divinely beautiful. Slaanesh's devotees and Daemons reflect the androgynous beauty and grace of their Lord, as well as his hedonistic nature. Slaanesh's personal rune is a mixture between the two gender symbols. It is known by many adoring names. Slaanesh's sacred number is 6.

In Warhammer Fantasy Battles the followers of Slaanesh regard their god as not just their Lord, but also their Lover. They take immense pride in the mutations bestowed upon them by their Master and create great monuments and splendid works in gratitude. In battle, they differ very much from the followers of the other gods; instead of just mindlessly hacking down their foes, the devotees of Slaanesh kill their opponents in the most vile and tormenting ways. These inhuman warriors fear nothing on the battle field, for to die or be defeated would just be a new and exciting experience for them. Even in the lands of the civilized south, Slaanesh is widely worshiped in hidden cults made up of bored citizens and nobles, or people who strive for popularity or respect.

In Warhammer 40,000 Slaanesh is the youngest of the Chaos Gods, given life at the Fall of the Eldar. His birth ripped open the hole between dimensions known as the Eye of Terror. Slaanesh's primary followers among the Chaos Space Marines come out of the Emperor's Children legion. Weaponry unique to Slaaneshi marines includes sonic blasters that are tuned to blow apart flesh, Blastmasters, amplified to destroy heavily armored units, and Doom Sirens, which amplify the voices of their wearers to destructive levels. Such Slaaneshi warriors are called the Noise Marines for their utter obsession with loud and harsh sounds. Only those noises make Noise Marines feel some kind of sensations, for they are true worshippers of Slaanesh and have already tried all and everything.

Slaanesh lives in a huge Castle, with six circles. Inside each of these circles the decoration and theme generally go towards a type of excess.

The first circle is covered riches in the forms of gemstones and treasure, which, if touched, will suck the soul from the victim, leaving the body a soulless husk.

The second is a massive indoor garden, filled with delicious fruits and meats, and entire lakes of fine wines and other drinks. To eat or drink is to be enraptured forever, and to eat and drink until the body gives out, or the stomach bursts.

The third is full of tapestries and statues of a sexual nature, to touch or look upon them is to become stone, or be sucked into the fabric of the tapestries.

The fourth changes depending upon the person, but reflects an excess of power, for the commanding warlord, an army of powerful soldiers await command, or a room full of heated debate, should the victim be a diplomat. However, the victim soon becomes insane with paranoia if they remain too long.

The fifth is full of beautiful women, awaiting to fulfill every carnal desire. Rape, sexual torture, horrific incest are all normal sexual practices within this realm and indeed, expected. The women are really Daemons, who will rip the victims apart, and then feast upon his sinful soul.

The sixth contains a wide beach with bright white sand, a setting sun, crashing waves and light breeze which makes the person lethargic and want to just lie down and listen but in doing so will become more sand onto the beach as he is doomed to lie there until death.

Anyone, after passing the six circle, will reach Slaanesh's private chambers, here men's feeble grasp of reality is torn apart according to the fel god's whim, they will endure an existence of combined torture and pleasure, ever dispensing their master's will to rape, destroy and love. This chaotic mix is the nature of their unnatural but familiar god.

See also

Other Chaos gods

Besides the currently four major gods, there have existed other gods, both major and lesser, in past editions. Other Chaos gods who have been mentioned in the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 settings include:

  • An'sl, Mo'rcck, and Phraz-Etar - minor gods mentioned in older background material for Warhammer 40,000 (Johnson, 1999). Other than their names being puns on the last names of Bryan Ansell, Michael Moorcock, and Frank Frazetta and that they are minor gods, nothing is known of them.
  • Hashut - in the Warhammer Fantasy setting, Hashut is the god of the Chaos Dwarfs. He represents aspects of Industry, Fire, Volcanoes, Darkness, Hammers and Lightning, and shares some aspects of ancient Babylonian gods. In some background material it was said to be a renegade greater daemon of Khorne which was imprisoned underground for its treason, where he was found and freed by the burrowing of the degenerate dwarves, which adopted it as their patron deity.
  • The Horned Rat - in the Warhammer Fantasy setting, the Horned Rat is the god of the Skaven. He represents aspects of Disease, Magic, the power of Chaos itself, Rats, and other characteristics of the Skaven race.
  • Malal - a renegade Chaos God, representing the paradox of Chaos fighting against itself. He is no longer mentioned in current background material due to a copyright issue row between Games Workshop and the artist who scripted and drew the comic (entitled "Kaleb Daark") where Malal was featured...the only RPG material featuring Malal was later reprinted with its name switched to "Zuvassin" instead.
  • Necoho - in Warhammer Fantasy, a renegade minor god known as the "Doubter", representing aspects of Agnosticism and Atheism.
  • Kweethul - in Warhammer Fantasy, a minor power similar to both The Horned Rat and Malal. Most recently mentioned as the Chaos God of Destruction.
  • Sarr'Kell- in Warhammer 40,000, he is the entity contacted by Erebus when Horus kills the Astropath Ing Mae Sing during the Horus Heresy. He calls himself lord of the shadows.
  • Zuvassin - in Warhammer Fantasy, a renegade minor god known as the "Great Undoer", representing a desire to foil the efforts of others.
  • Melkirth - mentioned in older background material for Warhammer 40,000. Melkirth was a minor chaos god described as "The god of evil, malice, and wanton cruelty and suffering." While Melkirth remains a minor god, it is said that the actions of the mortal races, particularly the Dark Eldar, are causing Melkirth to grow in power until he ultimately becomes the fifth major Chaos God. The daemons of Melkirth are described as being the colour of shadow and able to take on the appearance of any daemon, be it a daemon of Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh, or Tzeentch.

Note: It is debated that Sarr'Kell is in fact an Undivided Greater Daemon as opposed to a God of Chaos in its own right.[citation needed].

Aside from those listed here, there exists a multitude of other unnamed gods and cults [citation needed].

The Star Child

In the origins given of the Emperor in Realm of Chaos, the Star Child is the nascent power of the Emperor's soul in the Warp as it is ebbed away from his dying body. The Star Child has its own champions (the Sensei), and could bestow powers on these individuals, and was said to battle the Chaos Gods within the warp. The manifestation of Imperial Saints is another sign that positive emotions (faith, loyalty, honor) can create warp entities that are not evil (though they seem to have some connection to the Star Child).

Benign Warp entities

There are very few examples of entities in the Immaterium which are not of an evil, malicious nature. However, if the negative emotions of sentient beings creates daemons, then the positive emotions should create entities which are the opposite of daemons. The lack of these non-evil warp entities may be that most of the non-evil entities were also of a non-violent nature. This would make them easy prey for daemons and the other vile entities of the warp. It may also indicate that the proportion of good to evil will in the Warhammer universe is far imbalanced to the side of evil. Imperial Saints however are an example of the non-evil warp entities, powered by the positive emotions of the Imperial Cult, which are capable of violence and are quite capable of fighting daemons (which the Saints seem to be able to defeat with ease). Other benign Warp entities could include the surviving Eldar gods (Kaela Mensha Khaine {though he is the god of murder}, Cegorach, and possibly Isha) and more entities that have not been documented yet.

Other Warp Entities

Other creatures of the Warp that have appeared in Warhammer 40,000 literature include entities with such names as: Vampyre, Psychneuein, Astral Spectre, Astral Hound, and Enslaver. However, these creatures are depicted as all being of a lesser threat than Chaos Daemons.

The Forces of Chaos

The following are the typical servants of the Chaos Gods and the setting from which they come.

  • Beastmen — formally know as "The Beasts of Chaos", in Warhammer Fantasy, covers the bestial servants of Chaos including minotaurs, the goat-like "Beastmen", and other intelligent animal-like creatures.
  • Chaos Dwarfs — in Warhammer Fantasy, corrupted Dwarfs who serve the god Hashut.
  • Chaos Space Marines — in Warhammer 40,000, Space Marines who have been corrupted by Chaos.
  • Daemons of Chaos — in both settings, these are minor entities related to the Chaos Gods, frequently serving the gods.
  • Warriors of Chaos — in Warhammer Fantasy, the mortal worshippers of Chaos
  • Skaven — in Warhammer Fantasy, a race of large intelligent rat-creatures serving their own Chaos God, the Horned Rat.
  • The Lost and the Damned — in Warhammer 40,000, various loose groupings of corrupted Imperial Guard, wildly mutated, beast-like humans, and various other traitors, sometimes led by Chaos Space Marines.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar

Chaos stems from the Realm of Chaos, a mysterious dimension of raw magical energy and the home of the four Chaos Gods. Long ago, massive amounts of raw Chaos energy spilled forth into the world, its mutating power giving rise to many monsters such as trolls and the Skaven. Most forms of magic practiced by wizards use some form of refined Chaos energy, which are classified as the Winds of Magic. For instance, when Chaos energy filters through the natural world, it transforms into the Green Wind of Magic, which Jade Wizards and Druids can use for healing spells. Jade Wizards are at their most powerful wherever life is most abundant, and at their weakest where life is sparse (deserts, winter, etc.). Dark Magic makes use of unrefined Chaos energy and is thus the most dangerous.


  1. Warhammer 1st Edition
  • Brunton, Mike; and Ansell, Bryan (1988). Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-51-4. 
  • Ansell, Bryan; and Priestly, Rick (1990). Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-52-2. 
  • Cavatore, Alessio; and Reynolds, Anthony (2002). Warhammer Armies: Skaven (1st Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-185-0. 
  • Chambers, Andy; Priestley, Rick, and Haines, Pete (2004). Warhammer 40,000 (4th edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-468-X. 
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  • Thorpe, Gav (2003). Warhammer Armies: Beasts of Chaos (1st Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-387-X. 
  • Thorpe, Gav; Priestley, Rick; Reynolds, Anthony and Cavatore, Alessio (2002). Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos (1st Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-222-9. 
  • Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete; Hoare, Andy; Kelly, Phil and McNeill, Graham (2003). Warhammer 40,000: Codex Eye of Terror (1st Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-398-5. 
  • Brunton, Mike; Forrest, Simon; Ansell, Bryan (1988). Realms of Chaos: Slaves of Darkness. Nottingham: Games Workshop. 
  • Thorpe, Gavin; Priestley, Rick; Reynolds, Anthony and Alessio Cavatore (2002). Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-222-9. 
  • Chambers, Andy; Haines, Pete; Hoare, Andy; Kelly, Phil, and McNeill, Graham (2002). Warhammer 40,000 Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2nd Edition ed.). Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-84154-322-5. 

{{ Navbox | name = Warhammer 40,000 | title = Warhammer 40,000

| group1 = Forces of the Imperium | list1 = Imperial Guard · Space Marines · Sisters of Battle · Daemonhunters

| group2 = Forces of Chaos | list2 = Chaos Space Marines · Chaos Daemons · The Lost and the Damned

| group3 = Alien races | list3 = Dark Eldar · Eldar · Orks · Necrons · Tau · Kroot · Vespid · Tyranids · Demiurg · Squat

| group4 = Spin-offs | list4 = Aeronautica Imperialis · Battlefleet Gothic · Dark Millennium · Epic · Gorkamorka · Inquisitor · Necromunda · Space Hulk · Warhammer 40,000 novels

| group5 = Video games | list5 = Space Crusade · Space Hulk · Vengeance of the Blood Angels · Final Liberation · Chaos Gate · Rites of War · Fire Warrior · Dawn of War (Winter Assault · Dark Crusade · Soulstorm· Glory in Death · Squad Command · Dawn of War II (Chaos Rising · Retribution· Space Marine · Dark Millennium Online

| group6 = Role-playing games | list6 = Dark Heresy · Rogue Trader · Deathwatch · Black Crusade

| group7 = Film | list7 = Ultramarines: The Movie |}

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