A Chaos Spawn is a mindless mutant creature who once belonged to one of the intelligent races of the galaxy and who has become so mutated through his or her servitude to Chaos that he or she has devolved into a twisted and insane abomination. Those seeking immortality and power through the ultimate attainment of daemonhood in service to the Ruinous Powers face the constant possibility of being reduced to Chaos Spawn, either by accumulating too many mutations or being cast aside by their Chaos patrons as unworthy of further advancement because of their consistent failure to serve the will of the Chaos Gods.
More simply, they may lack the inherent qualities required for successful leadership of other Chaos servants and thus be of no further use to their patrons. Chaos warband members who are transformed into Chaos Spawn will either be abandoned by their former comrades or kept as pets or as cannon fodder, to be herded into battle along with the rest of the Lost and the Damned.
Although physically powerful and extremely resilient, Chaos Spawn are insane, mewling creatures with no mental powers or self-awareness. Their former intelligence has been sacrificed to their failed ambition. Many a Chaos Champion of great promise has ended up as a seething mound of bone and blubber, monstrous and screaming with lunatic rage. The Ruinous Powers are generous but erratic with their favours. When blessing one of their followers, a Dark God might make them stronger, tougher, faster, astonishingly beautiful, hyper-intelligent or otherwise improve their lot in the world.
Just as likely, the Chaos God may feel their loyal subject would benefit from their toes falling off, having an eye sprout in their navel or being transformed into a dribbling and imbecilic mountain of flesh. Most Gifts of Chaos take the form of some physical mutation. The more of these gifts a Champion receives, the more potentially disastrous their cumulative effects can be -- even the body and genome of a Chaos Space Marine can only withstand so many mutations before he passes the point of no return.
Any Champion of Chaos, regardless of prestige, can find himself on the road to becoming a Chaos Spawn, for the gods are fickle. A Champion who does not earn himself the ultimate reward of daemonhood will surely become a Spawn unless he dies by some other means first. Such is the fate of the Chaos champion -- those that survive are destined either for everlasting, diabolical glory or an ignominious end as a slavering heap of limbs and protrusions.
The outward appearance of a Chaos Spawn is utterly unpredictable and frequently changes over the course of a battle. No two are alike, and their make-up owes as much to the capricious energies of Chaos as it does to functionality. A Spawn may have several sets of limbs, crab claws or tentacles, armour that bulges beneath the skin, tattered and useless wings, clumps of eye-stalks that wave like grass in a wind, a sinewy prehensile neck or a gaping maw of needle-thin teeth. Some Spawn have insectoid bodies or heads, others resemble featureless quivering mounds of inverted muscle covered with spines that drip acidic pus. All, however, are hideous to behold and deadly to face in battle.
Transformation into a Chaos Spawn
The Ruinous Powers are generous masters with their mortal servants, and a Chaos Champion whose acts of worship pleases his patron(s) will soon bear the mark of their favors in his very flesh. Once a mortal has been singled out for special attention by one or more of the Chaos Gods, he will be granted one of the Marks of Chaos: the Mark of his patron god for those Champions who devote themselves to one god in particular, or the Mark of Chaos Undivided for those who worship Chaos in its multitude of aspects.
Once marked, the Chaos Champion is indefinitely and irrevocably doomed. A rare few will manage to sacrifice their mortality and soul to Chaos and ascend to the rank of Daemon Prince, and although this will grant them power beyond their wildest dreams, they will still be mere pawns in an even greater game. Many Champions will simply die, either in combat, or though the betrayal by one of their underlings keen on replacing them. The third and least appealing fate is that of being transformed into a Chaos Spawn.
The Ruinous Powers are generous but uncaring with their gifts. Many such gifts will take the form of grotesque mutations in which the body of the Champion will begin taking on a form more pleasing to his god(s). While these mutations are often useful, the mortal body can only cope with a certain number of such changes at the genetic and physiological level. Once a certain threshold has been passed, the mortal mind will devolve into insanity.
Without the mind keeping the rate of mutation somewhat in check through the application of willpower to hold off the debilitating effects of Warp exposure, the body will continue to mutate faster and faster until all that remains is a gibbering mass of swiftly mutating flesh, howling and hissing through many mouths and crawling forward on multiple twisted appendages with only the basest instincts of killing and feeding remaining in the shattered remnants of its mind.
Transformation into a Chaos Spawn occurs primarily to those long-serving Chaos Champions who are not deemed exceptional enough by their God(s) to warrant ascension to daemonhood, although this horrible fate is also enforced on those Champions who fail spectacularly in the service of their patron(s) without having the dignity to die while doing so. Some Chaos Sorcerers also possess the abilty to channel the raw energy of the Warp directly into their foe's bodies, transforming them into Chaos Spawn on the spot. Chaos Spawn often either kill or are killed on sight by anything they encounter, but the Lost and the Damned and the most starved for cannon fodder of Chaos warbands gather Chaos Spawn in herds and let them loose upon their opponents, using them as terrifying shock troops and living shields against the enemy.
Chaos Spawn of Tzeentch
All of the Chaos Gods are generous with their gifts of mutation, but none more so than Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways. As Tzeentch's mortal champions continue to serve their dark master, they are rewarded with ever more bizarre and horrific transformations. A Sorcerer's hands may morph into many-tentacled appendages, all the better suited to performing complex rites of spellcraft.
Their eyes may become liquefied orbs capable of seeing the tangled lines of fate that guide a battle. Each of these gifts is a mark of favour, and a step closer to the ultimate goal of ascension to true daemonhood. But for every mortal soul that is forged into a powerful Warp creature, countless others are deemed unworthy. Their flesh is bent into the tortured form of a Chaos Spawn, a hideous monster driven by madness to endless acts of depraved violence.
Chaos Spawn are as varied in shape as the plans and schemes of the Great Manipulator himself. The body from which the Spawn pupates grows vast with layers of muscle and sagging flab, enveloping the contorted skeleton and rapidly mutating organs within. Limbs elongate and multiply, fracturing along their length to allow for new movement before developing sharply articulated joints. Claws and bony protrusions sprout from deep within the creature’s musculature, and internal tissues burst forth to form flapping, mucous-covered pseudopods. This biology is utterly incapable of sustaining a natural existence, yet it is given fuel by the unquenchable insanity of the being that has been transformed, for in his infinite wisdom Tzeentch allows the unfortunate mortal to retain just enough of their former intellect to experience an eternity of madness.
The Thousand Sons Traitor Legion views Chaos Spawn of Tzeentch as a natural by-product of their quests for knowledge and arcane superiority. These abominations aimlessly roam the surface of the Planet of the Sorcerers, formed from those whose aspirations led them to pursue empyric power for which they were not worthy. In their arrogance, few Sorcerers believe that such a hideous transmogrification will be their fate, and they are more than willing to use the twisted creatures to achieve their own ends. Droves of Chaos Spawn are kept in enormous pens in Tizca, the capital city of the Thousand Sons' Daemon World, their endless inhuman screams reverberating through the city until the twisted beasts are taken to some distant war zone.
A Chaos Spawn is incapable of reason, and so must be herded into battle by more esoteric means. A Sorcerer may place a series of wards to funnel the Spawn's spasmodic movements towards the lines of their enemy; or they may simply array slaves in a line across the battlefield, trusting the creature's pained instincts to drive it from one victim to the next until it reaches the intended foe.
Once the Chaos Spawn is in battle there is no more need to guide its movements, for it will slash savagely with grotesque claws and barbed horns until no living creature stands in its path. The mutations that wrack its body render its flailing attacks impossible to predict, with newly formed blades jutting from its flesh to skewer those nearby and gouts of toxic fluid erupting from its innards to melt flesh from bone. Such variegated carnage is pleasing to Tzeentch, and in this way the Chaos Spawn continues to serve its cruel creator.
Giant Chaos Spawn
Chaos Spawn are drooling, insane creatures with no will. They come in all shapes and sizes, from dog-sized to man-sized creatures to huge monstrosities. All are foul, mutations left to run riot for the amusement of the Dark Gods, the ultimate expression of the fickle nature of Chaos.
Giant Chaos Spawn are those creatures that have endured for standard centuries in this loathsome state, their mutations bloating and growing until the creature reaches monstrous proportions. Unfortunately for the cursed individual who survives long enough as a spawn to reach this size, a Giant Chaos Spawn is all but impossible to kill, condemning it to an eternity of torment as a squealing mound of mutated limbs and churning fangs.
Notable Chaos Spawn
- Foulspawn - Foulspawn is a notable exception amongst Chaos Spawn as he is the only Spawn to ever be granted daemonhood by its patron Chaos God. Once an unremarkable servant of Nurgle, the mortal now known only as Foulspawn finally devolved into a Chaos Spawn that resembles a huge, corrupted frog. He was gifted with many appendages and a long sticky tongue which he would use to catch his opponents like flies and swallow them whole. By some quirk of fate, the consumption of his enemies allowed Foulspawn to maintain something approximating sanity, which urged him on to selectively devour his patron's enemies. This amused Grandfather Nurgle greatly, so he elevated the Spawn to the rank of a Daemon Prince to keep such an entertaining tool intact for the rest of eternity.
- 1-5 Chaos Spawn
Chaos Spawn are no longer capable of using weapons or technology. They attack the foe with their supernatural resilience and hideous mutations.
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Chaos Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 73, 140
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Thousand Sons (8th Edition), pp. 45, 79
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 41
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 33
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pp. 86-120
- Imperial Armour - Apocalypse II, pg. 75
- Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness (1st Edition), pg. 64
- Realms of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (1st Edition), pp. 214, 234, 286
- Games Workshop - Games Webstore: Chaos Spawn