"Join me, brothers, and we will make the minions of the undying Emperor pay for the lies and betrayal they have dealt us!"
- — Skyrar, Master of the Thirst for Vengeance
Aspiring Champions of Chaos are veteran warriors of Chaos, usually but not always corrupted Astartes, who lead a squad of Chaos Space Marines or other Chaos warriors into battle but remain under the command of a true Champion of Chaos or an even more powerful Chaos Lord.
Space Marines are superhuman in almost every way, and this holds true for their treasonous brethren as well. Amongst the Traitor Legions, however, there are those who stand apart. These Traitor Legionaries show the traits of true leadership, honed keen by the constant struggle to maintain control over warbands of Heretic Astartes.
The Road to Power
Chaos is attractive for the simple reason that it offers enormous power to those willing to turn away from the light of the Emperor and dedicate themselves in body and soul to the Ruinous Powers. For many who walk its dark path, it offers the only hope of betterment in a galaxy ruled by an often oppressive human Imperium where opportunities for true happiness and advancement are the prerogatives of only a tiny, privileged minority, and where the only escape from literal starvation or persecution by a tyrannical and uncaring bureaucracy lies in the egalitarian favours of Chaos.
For unlike the Imperium of Man and so many of the other servants of Order in the galaxy, Chaos judges its servants on merit and skill alone and rewards them for their successes or failures harshly, but accordingly. In fact, many of those who serve the Dark Gods would claim that only Chaos offers true justice to the peoples bound into the corrupt and dying realm ruled over by the "Corpse Emperor."
The road to power begins when a person offers themselves up body and soul to Chaos: either to an individual Chaos God or to Chaos Undivided as a whole. Not all who choose to dedicate themselves to Chaos are accepted. Often it takes a spectacular deed of courage to attract the attention of the Dark Gods.
If the candidate is accepted he receives a Mark of Chaos from the Chaos God who serves as his patron or from Chaos Undivided if he serves the basic agenda of all the Chaos Gods. This is the patron's own Mark, and each Mark confers some ability, mutational "gift" or special characteristic to its recipient.
Once an Aspiring Champion receives the Mark he begins to attract followers from among the lesser servants of Chaos. The Chaos Powers use their Champions to further their aims in the material universe. The Aspiring Champion's life becomes an endless series of battles, raids and quests.
As the Champion serves Chaos he becomes increasingly altered physically through the mutations or so-called "gifts" granted by his patron. The road to power ends eventually either in the Champion being reduced to a mindless and formless mutant Chaos Spawn if he fails to achieve his patron's objectives or raised to daemonhood as an immortal and powerful Daemon Prince, a living extension of the will of the Dark Gods.
These Aspiring Champions are leaders in the making, adorning their armour with trophies from the slain and wielding ancient and potent weapons that may date back to the Heresy itself. They burn with ambition, aspiring to become more powerful champions amongst their fellows. However, only the most brutal and skilled can survive to become Chaos Lords.
The most powerful and ruthless Aspiring Champions strive to win a coveted suit of Tactical Dreadnought Armour. Such armour makes them virtually immune to all but the most powerful weapons and allows them to easily wield weapons even a Traitor Legionary in Power Armour could not carry.
However, such suits are extremely rare and the most common way for an Aspiring Champion to win one is to challenge and slay an existing Terminator in combat. Amongst a band of Chaos Terminators, one usually emerges as the leader. This Terminator Champion is typically an egotistical, brutish man, and someone whom the other Terminators aspire to become.
The most powerful Champions are the Chaos Lords -- men with vision and strength to bind both the wills of their brethren and the forces of Chaos to their will. They are strong, charismatic leaders with indomitable will and keen martial prowess, and are often found leading massive warbands, pirate fleets, worlds, or even massive Black Crusades against the Imperium. These are some, though not all, of the Champions one may encounter amongst the ranks of the Traitor Legions.
All Chaos Champions are mortal and can be killed, although this is always a dangerous undertaking as they are powerful foes. A Chaos Champion's followers are known as a Chaos warband.
Warbands are deadly rivals to each other, fighting amongst themselves to gain the attention of their Chaos patrons. Even followers of the same Chaos God are usually deadly rivals in an endless war of all-against-all, which is the way of Chaos. Sometimes shaky alliances are formed by extremely powerful Champions. The truly successful are rewarded with immortality and are elevated to the rank of an immortal Daemon Prince.
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Chaos Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 58
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 54-55
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 30, 94-100
- Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (1st Edition)