- "A tide of depravity is upon us. The universe trembles under the hooves of the Daemon horde. Mankind has unlocked the doors of the nether-prison and now must pay the price. The weak and the foolish will be the first to fall. None will be spared the ghastly predations of Khorne, Tzeentch, Slaanesh, and Nurgle, nor a host of lesser evils. A temple of degradation will be built over the ashes of the Emperor's Palace."
- — The Book of the Last Days, Chapter I, Verses I-VI
The Forces of Chaos, also sometimes referred to by the Imperium as the Archenemy, is a catch-all term that includes all of the myriad servants of the individual Ruinous Powers of Chaos and of the universal power of Chaos Undivided.
While the Chaos Space Marines are probably the most visible and powerful of the Forces of Chaos, they are supported by countless numbers of other Chaos servants, including human Chaos Cultists, Traitor Imperial Guardsmen, the Traitor Titan Legions, the remaining members of the Dark Mechanicum and the hordes of Chaos daemons.
Once summoned, any of the Greater Daemons of Chaos (Slaanesh's Keeper of Secrets, Khorne's Bloodthirster, Nurgle's Great Unclean One, and Tzeentch's Lord of Change) can act as the force commander in any Chaos army aligned with their patron deity. They are incarnations of their Chaos God, living embodiments of everything Chaos represents. They are the guardians of their god's realm and the executors of his will.
Often the Greater Daemons lead incursions into the mortal world, and act as the heralds of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos to Champions of Chaos and Chaos Sorcerers. Yet, they still have their own ambitions and plans, each contributing a part to the greater consciousness that is the Dark Gods. In realspace, Greater Daemons manifest as huge, terrifying creatures capable of slaying scores of warriors and destroying even main battle tanks. They have strange, sorcerous powers drawn from the psychic energy of the Warp and are virtually impervious to mortal weapons. Summoning such a creature demands a high price, for it takes a tremendous amount of psychic energy for a Greater Daemon to achieve corporeality in the material universe.
The price is always a sacrifice, the death or possession of a living being that acts as a gateway from the Immaterium into the material realm. The rampant energy of the daemon passing through into the material universe inevitably destroys this host. As such, the sacrifice is not usually the one performing the summoning. They are also able to disrupt the barrier between the Immaterium and the physical universe around them enough to allow them to summon Lesser Daemons who are also aligned to their patron deity physically into the material world. For example, a Bloodthirster can summon Bloodletters, Lesser Daemons who also serve Khorne.
A Daemon Prince is a human Champion of Chaos who has been elevated to daemonhood as a reward for his or her actions on the behalf of one of the major Chaos Gods or by the will of Chaos Undivided. Daemon Princes have chosen to trade their humanity for the god-like power and immortality of a creature of the Warp. A Daemon Prince is a living extension of the force of Chaos. To ascend to the rank of Daemon Prince is the ultimate goal of the most powerful followers of Chaos, as it gives them immortality and power beyond the reckoning of mortals.
Daemon Princes combine the brute strength of daemons with the combat skill and tactical acumen of Space Marines. However, if the Champion fails in the eyes of their God, their lives and ambitions end as they are cast aside and instead descend into the mutant state of a Chaos Spawn. Since Daemon Princes have been transformed into semi-autonomous extensions of the Chaos God they serve or of Chaos Undivided, they are now entities of the Warp and can never truly be killed in the material universe, only banished into the Immaterium for a specific amount of time, usually 1,000 standard years.
Essentially, Daemon Princes will exist for as long as Chaos is a force in the universe. Daemon Princes often act as lieutenants to the Greater Daemons of the Ruinous Powers as powerful warriors and forceful leaders capable of fighting at the forefront of a daemonic assault, However, true daemons consider Daemon Princes to be inferior, too deeply and irrevocably tainted by their mortal origins to best serve the Chaos Gods.
Chaos Lords are those men and women who have sworn their souls to the Chaos Gods to become their Champions and are consumed with an overwhelming desire for power and domination. They are not necessarily those who rose through the ranks properly in a hierarchical fashion, but are often those most blessed by the Chaos Gods or simply the most powerful or charismatic individuals among the Forces of Chaos.
The greatest of the Champions of Chaos become Chaos Lords and are often granted hideous mutations and physical alterations by the Ruinous Powers to further their cause. Chaos Lords are so powerful as to be able to bind the other Forces of Chaos to their will, although this often brings a dangerous position as advancement among the Forces of Chaos is commonly achieved through the death or murder of another Chaos Lord or Champion. Some Chaos Lords lead through brute strength, others through cunning and some are maniacs bent solely on self-aggrandisement.
Others are truly worshipers of Chaos and possess a zealous dedication to the Dark Gods. They prove so successful in their pursuit of the Ruinous Powers' goals that they are granted enough power to command whole legions of Chaos forces, including other Champions of Chaos. This thirst for dominion over all will drive them to attain power by any means, no matter the cost to others or themselves, though if they ever fail the Chaos Gods, they are sure to receive terrible punishments.
The psychically-powerful Space Marine Librarians or other mortal psykers who have defected to the worship of Chaos are gifted by the Chaos Gods with potent sorcerous powers that shall forever drive them to increase their power and knowledge even at the risk of utter consumption by the entities of the Warp. These potent psykers are known as Chaos Sorcerers as they make use of psychic abilities so powerful that they are akin to the ancient human beliefs in magic.
Only the Chaos God Khorne is averse to the use of psychic powers, seeing them as the weapon of the weak and he refuses to have any practitioner of sorcery fight under his banner. As a result, warriors who turn to Khorne kill any psykers in their midst as a sacrifice to their deity and as a symbol of their total devotion to the will of the Blood God.
On the whole, Chaos Sorcerers are maniacal, selfish and extremely wise, the result of so many gifts from their patron Gods or the result of daemonic pacts with the foul denizens of the Warp. Many Chaos Sorcerers are devotees of Tzeentch, the Chaos God of Change and Sorcery. Of course, all debts must eventually be paid...
Aspiring Champions and Exalted Champions
Amongst the Traitor Legions there are those who stand apart from their fallen brethren. These Traitor Legionnaires show the traits of true leadership, honed keen by the constant struggle to maintain control over warbands of fallen Adeptus Astartes. These Aspiring Chaos Champions and Exalted Chaos Champions are human warriors (usually Chaos Space Marines) and Sorcerers who follow a more powerful Chaos Lord into battle on behalf of the Ruinous Powers to achieve their own goals, which usually involves continuing along the road of serving Chaos until they become a full Chaos Champion or Daemon Prince themselves.
They act as an extension of leadership in the chain of command of a Chaos army, performing tasks that the main Chaos commander is either unable or unwilling to do. While not as powerful as their primary force commanders, their increased abilities bolster the effectiveness of the force, allowing for a more diverse array of tactics on the battlefield. They will also assume command should anything "unfortunate" happen to their leader. 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 from the Horus 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 Legionnaire in power armour could not carry.
The Dark Apostles are the Chaplains and de facto leaders of the Word Bearers Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legion, second only to the Legion's Primarch Lorgar. Like all of the Word Bearers, the Dark Apostles worship all the Dark Gods in the form of Chaos Undivided rather than any single one of the Chaos Gods. Even before the Horus Heresy, the Dark Apostles had gleefully redirected the Legion's fanatical zeal from the preaching of their flawed version of the Imperial Truth to howling the praises of Chaos Undivided.
Dark Apostles still carry their ritual Crozius Arcanum as they did before their fall, although the resulting Accursed Crozius have long since been corrupted and debased into deadly icons dedicated to the Chaos Gods themselves. Not only does this make them lethal assault weapons, it also marks the bearer as receiving the dark favour of the Gods, granting them protection from their enemies and allowing them a much deeper connection with the denizens of the Warp.
When Dark Apostles go to war they are terrifying to behold, for the Apostles are fueled by their indomitable faith, daemonic blessings and the super-human might of a Space Marine. Few can stand and fight against a Dark Apostle and live to tell the tale. The Dark Apostles (and all of the Word Bearers for that matter) hold a certain hatred for the Adeptus Ministorum (the Ecclesiarchy) and all those who ally with it. They take great pleasure in destroying Imperial temples, burning Imperial Cult religious banners and above all killing Missionaries, Sisters of the Adepta Sororitas and if possible Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors.
Possessed Chaos Space Marines
Mutations often afflict Chaos Space Marines since the Chaos Gods, especially Tzeentch, will reward a corrupted Astartes with this "gift" of change. However, in the most fanatical warbands, dedicating their black souls to the Chaos Gods is sometimes not enough for some of these Chaos Space Marines. Some pledge themselves fully to the service of their Dark Gods, allowing themselves to be possessed by daemons. They become willing hosts to these creatures of the Immaterium.
The willing Chaos Space Marine must adequately prepare for the possession through rituals of scarification and debasement, offering sacrifices and physically preparing their bodies to host the daemonic being. These possessed Chaos Space Marines are easily distinguished by their grotesque features and mutated bodies; they display vicious fangs, rending claws, razor-sharp horns and whip-like tentacles that partially mutates their body into the form of the possessing daemon.
The Possessed Astartes gains great speed, resilience and strength. Possessed Marines can tear apart enemies with their bare hands and use their newly acquired inhuman senses to latch onto the Warp presence of other creatures. This grants the Possessed Astartes the innate ability to unerringly locate enemy positions and ferret out potential victims without being seen.
Just like their counterparts, the Terminators of the Loyalist Space Marine Chapters, Chaos Terminators are Veteran Chaos Space Marine warriors who have faced many battles and have chosen to wear the ancient Tactical Dreadnought Armour of their Traitor Legions into battle. Chaos and Loyalist Terminators alike are slow-moving and often need a transport like a Rhino to carry them across the battlefield.
Unlike the Loyalist Space Marines, however, Chaos Terminators are blessed by the Warp, which grants them mutations and other daemonic powers and unholy artefacts of Chaos to wield in battle. Chaos Terminators stand in great favour with the leader of their warband. Many of them are Aspiring Champions of Chaos who have left their brethren to elevate themselves in the eyes of the Ruinous Powers. The scarcity of Terminator Armour is such that sometimes an Aspiring Champion can only claim a suit for himself by killing the current wearer through ritual combat or by more devious means.
Chaos Terminators are often employed as the elite personal guard of an esteemed Chaos Champion. Within the Chaos Space Marine warband they are the ones who enforce the will of their leader and are granted the pick of the spoils of victory. They are egotistical, brutish men, who use their physical prowess and their Champion's favour to intimidate other members of the warband.
Chaos Space Marines
The Chaos Space Marines are the elite shock troops of the Forces of Chaos. Aside from possessing the zeal, power, and strength that matches their counterparts -- the Loyalist Space Marines -- they possess the added power of Chaos and a brutal devotion to the Ruinous Powers. Corrupt Astartes normally belong to one of the 9 Traitor Legions that betrayed the Emperor of Mankind during the ancient civil war called the Horus Heresy more than 10,000 standard years ago, while others come from Space Marine Chapters created long after the Heresy ended that have turned Renegade.
Many Chaos Space Marines are equipped with the ancient patterns of Power Armour and weapons they had when they initially betrayed the Imperium at the start of the Horus Heresy, which are broadly the same as those used by the current Loyalist Space Marines (although some differences now exist with regard to Jump Packs, Power Armour appearance, etc). Sundered from the Imperium, these dark warriors of Chaos know neither peace, nor forgiveness nor absolution. Committed wholly to the path they tread, for good or ill, the powers of the Warp have prevented these dark devotees of Chaos from aging, or even dying in some cases, across the ten millennia since they turned their backs on the Emperor of Mankind during the Horus Heresy.
This enables Chaos Space Marines to gain a level of experience beyond even the imagining of the most hardened Loyalist Space Marine Veteran as Chaos Space Marines are able to live for thousands of Terran years, participating in their Long War in uncountable battles across the galaxy, throughout the millennia. Consumed by their hatred of the Corpse Emperor, the Imperium of Man and all Mankind, the Chaos Space Marines have become a terrible cancer festering at the heart of the Imperium.
Plague Marines are those Chaos Space Marines who have wholly dedicated their lives and souls to the service of the Chaos God Nurgle. Within their corpulent and disgusting Power Armour their bodies are bloated with disease, swollen with corruption and rank with decay even as they no longer are capable of feeling pain, the greatest mutational "gift" given to them by the Plague Lord. Bloated and swollen with the foul corruption of Nurgle festering within them, they no longer feel the agony of the blighted Warp-pox of Grandfather Nurgle, and so cannot die from its horrific symptoms.
Though their armour may appear corroded and rusted, and their bodies continuously ooze slime and the stink of decay, the Plague Marines are still fearsome, skilled warriors. Since the days of the Horus Heresy, many other Space Marines have dedicated themselves to the Lord of Decay, but few have ever managed to join the ranks of the Plague Marines. Those who truly wish to enter this most elite of foetid cadres must swear loyalty to the Death Guard Traitor Legion and their Primarch Mortarion, though they need not join the Death Guard itself. Only then will Nurgle bestow upon them the corrupting "gift" of Nurgle's Rot that created the original Plague Marines.
Outside of the Death Guard, a favoured few Chaos Sorcerers of Nurgle know the secrets of the Plague Marines, and Abaddon of the Black Legion has won many of these spellcasters to his cause. In return for loyalty and long service, these so-called Blight Mages will bestow their pestilent gifts in the cause of Chaos Undivided. The Plague Marines have dedicated their loathsome existences to spreading corruption and decay across the universe. The Plague Fleets of Nurgle that periodically spew forth from the Eye of Terror are captained by the Plague Marines, who intend to spread Father Nurgle's Warp-spawned contagions and pestilences across the myriad star systems of the galaxy.
Rubric Marines are the spectral remnants of those Astartes of the Thousand Sons Legion who are now trapped within their suits of ancient Power Armour as mindless automatons. The Rubric Marines are those Thousand Sons Legionaries who lacked psychic abilities and were inadvertently created when the Chaos Sorcerer Ahriman cast an incredibly potent spell called the Rubric of Ahriman. This ritual was intended to halt the process of degeneration and mutation known as the "Flesh-change" caused by the energy of the Empyrean that afflicted Ahriman's Battle-Brothers after they were exiled to the Planet of the Sorcerers in the Eye of Terror during the Horus Heresy.
The Rubric both worked and failed, for though it ended the persistent occurrence of mutation among the Thousand Sons, it did so by permanently fusing their souls within their own Power Armour and reduced those Thousand Sons Battle-Brothers who had little or no psychic potential to dust. Now nothing more than souls contained within a hollow shell, the Thousand Sons do not feel any mortal pain or pleasure, nor can they be destroyed very easily, for their whole suit of ancient Power Armour must be destroyed before the soul trapped within can be freed.
In battle, they must be commanded by one of their number who is a Sorcerer. Since the Thousand Sons no longer possess a body, they have little will of their own and must be guided by a powerful psyker. If the psyker is killed, they are rendered almost useless in combat.
Khornate Berserkers are those Chaos Space Marines who fuel themselves on blood and battle. The first Khornate Berserkers amongst Mankind emerged from the gruesome experiments of Angron, the Primarch of the barbaric World Eaters Legion. Upon taking control of the XII Space Marine Legion, the bloody-handed Primarch enacted many changes. Knowing how successful his own cortical implants were at boosting a warrior's prowess in battle, Angron ordered his Apothecarion to insert the same Butcher's Nails implants within every Astartes of the World Eaters Legion to enhance aggression and pain tolerance far beyond that which even the gene-engineered flesh of a member of the Space Marine Legions was capable of enduring.
The resulting implantation of the Nails within the Legionaries of the World Eaters turned them into a Legion of savage killers and would lead to their eventual downfall and damnation as they reveled in the bloody worship of the Blood God Khorne. These debased Chaos Space Marines are savage fighters who revel in the bloodiest close-quarters fighting. They have dedicated themselves wholly to the Blood God and do his bidding by charging forth into battle and cutting off heads in melee combat to collect skulls for Khorne's Skull Throne while spilling the blood of their enemies as an act of sacred worship in the eyes of their god.
Often they wield close combat weapons such as an axe, or more preferably a Chainaxe, the preferred weapon of the Blood God. Although the Chainsword is almost equally favoured, bare fists or even heavy rocks will do if nothing else is available. Fanatical in the extreme, Khornate Berserkers relish their role as the Blood God's sacred destroyers. These Chaos Space Marines are near insensible with constant rage and battlelust and have been known to turn on each other if deprived of enemies to slaughter, although this is no affront to Khorne, as all blood and death is welcome, be it of his enemies or of his own followers.
Noise Marines are Chaos Space Marine foot soldiers deeply dedicated to the Chaos God Slaanesh who are most commonly found in the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion, but also in other Slaanesh-devoted Chaos Space Marine warbands such as the Flawless Host. Their trademark is the use of devastating Sonic Weaponry that confuses and demoralizes enemy forces in a wild show of “deafeningly loud, psycho-sonically and pyrotechnically explosive attacks."
The original Noise Marines were created ten millennia ago, during the Horus Heresy by the Emperor's Children's Chief Apothecary Fabius Bile. Fabius sought to "perfect" the gene-seed of the Astartes by unlocking the secrets of the Emperor's original genetic engineering and then "improving" upon it through the use of forbidden Chaos knowledge. Due to Fabius' genetic alterations, a Noise Marine's hearing is a thousand times more sensitive than even a "normal" Space Marine's, and can distinguish between the subtlest differences in pitch, tone and volume.
A Noise Marine's enhanced hearing affects his whole mind, causing extreme emotional reactions that make all other sensations seem pale and worthless. The louder and more discordant the noise, the more extreme the emotional reaction provoked and the resulting pleasure the Noise Marine feels. Eventually only the din of battle and heightened screams of fear, pain or terror can stir a Noise Marine to feel the pleasure he so craves.
The Noise Marines' name comes from their preference for weapons that use concentrated sound, including: the Sonic Blaster -- outwardly resembling a Bolter -- that produces discordant blasts of sound; the Blastmaster -- a rifle-like weapon that produces different sonic frequencies that overpower senses and can even destroy flesh; and the Doom Siren, a loudspeaker surgically melded into the Chaos Space Marine's body that enhances his own screams into violent torrents of pure sonic force that can knock even the largest enemy off his feet. Noise Marines also possess an ability called the "Warp Scream." This explosion of sound dulls the sensory reactions of all those in close vicinity to them.
Many Astra Militarum troops have turned to Chaos over the centuries, including entire Imperial Army regiments that followed the Warmaster Horus into battle against the Imperium during the Horus Heresy. These Traitors represent the primary mortal troops available to the Forces of Chaos. Even ten millennia later, Chaos Lords are known to attract these followers of Chaos into their warbands and personal armies, which varies greatly in both size and strength.
Traitor Guardsmen are often better armed than the average Chaos Cultist and have access to a wide assortment of arms at their disposal. Sadly, throughout the last ten millennia, occasionally entire Imperial Guard companies, or even entire regiments, have been known to turn from the light of the Emperor and join the ranks of the damned, taking with them their armouries and vehicles.
Like their allies and superiors the Chaos Space Marines, the appearance and equipment of the Traitor Guard has been greatly warped and corrupted by its members' allegiance to the Ruinous Powers. Unlike other servants of Chaos, such as Beastmen or mutants, Traitor Guardsmen maintain a sense of sanity, their military discipline and their deadly martial skills, honed from fighting never ending wars throughout the galaxy. These soldiers provide a reliable core of professional soldiers compared to the rest of the daemonic hordes of the Lost and the Damned.
Chaos Cults are the most dangerous of all those organisations that plot to overthrow the rule of the Imperium of Man from within. All planets and civilisations belonging to the Imperium can harbour Chaos organisations, which themselves are as diverse in practice and membership as is imaginable. From the blood-soaked sacrificial cults of Feral Worlds to the philosophical secret societies of more advanced planets, the temptations of Chaos can capture all.
Chaos Cults are dedicated to the worship of one or all of the Ruinous Powers. Billions of these warped men and women who have willingly sold their souls to the Chaos Gods also exist within the Eye of Terror, making up the twisted populations of the Daemon Worlds. Chaos Cults can be found on nearly every type of Imperial world and have an extraordinary diversity of membership, belief and practice.
From the bloody human sacrifices practiced on some Feral and Feudal Worlds, to the more philosophical arcane secret societies that infect the jaded aristocracies of hive worlds, the temptations offered by Chaos can corrupt people of any station or origin. Chaos Cultists are found in almost every Chaos force of any size, having either been recruited from the local population or brought to the world from the Warp as the slaves and servants of the Chaos Space Marines.
Chaos Raptors are Chaos Space Marines that enjoy the hunt and are the equivalent of Loyalist Space Marine Assault Squads. Their role as shock attack jump troops during the Horus Heresy made these Astartes consider themselves to be an elite group.
Within the Space Marine Legions of old, Jump Packs were comparatively rare, and for those Astartes chosen to assume this important role, this rarity perpetuated the belief in their own self-importance. Over time, the concept of preying on the vulnerable has led to the Raptors becoming vicious hunters of the weak. Using their Warp-corrupted Jump Packs, the Raptors fly around the battlefield chasing down their prey and swooping in for the kill using Bolt Pistols and Chainswords.
They often modify their Power Armour into a more terrifying appearance and fit amplifiers and Voxcasters to it that emit piercing screams to add to their horrifying aspect. Raptors are easily identified by the large archaic Jump Packs they wear that date from the time of the Great Crusade and are outfitted with arched intakes and thrusters.
Warp Talons are those Chaos Space Marine Raptors whose long exposure to the Immaterium have corrupted their physical forms, enabling them to move through the veil of reality and slice between dimensions. With vorpal claws they slice their way into the material world, to attack from the nightmarish dimension of the Warp.
In battle, Warp Talons are known to emerge from the Warp behind enemy lines and massacre their victims. A Chaos commander will often employ Warp Talons to destroy a retreating unit or commander, hunting them down ruthlessly. They are masters of aerial combat and are feared for their inhuman cruelty.
Chaos Space Marine Bikers
Well-armed and highly-mobile, Chaos Space Marine Bikers make excellent reconnaissance troops and are used to launch deadly raids behind enemy lines. Chaos Space Marine bikes are rugged vehicles with large engines that are powerful enough to carry their heavily armoured riders. They are fitted with on-board weaponry that can be fired by the rider without him needing to relinquish control of his machine. They are often festooned with blades and spurs that are used to cut and snare opponents as the rider smashes past.
Amongst their ruthless brethren, Chaos Space Marine Bikers have a reputation for being merciless and cruel, often following a vanquished foe for many miles just to kill or capture them. But mostly they do so in the hope that their prey will lead them to fresh victims and more plunder.
Chaos can be a blessing as well as a curse. Chaos Champions who have been "blessed" by their gods gain unique appendages such as claws, tentacles, or other grotesque mutations, but failing the Ruinous Powers once too often will result in so much mutation that a Chaos Space Marine or Chaos Cultist can be transformed into a hideous Chaos Spawn, a mass of writhing flesh with numerous arms, claws, and fangs that only comprehends the will of Chaos. All remnants of humanity or the individual's original personality or memories are lost and the Chaos Spawn is only useful as cannon fodder in battle.
An Obliterator is a former Chaos Space Marine, often a Techmarine, who is believed to have been affected by the so-called "Obliterator Virus", a daemonic virus that transformed these once-loyal servants of the Imperium into bloodthirsty mutant weapons of Chaos. They are monstrous hybrids of human, daemon and machine. An Obliterator is able to absorb any weapon into its body that is held for too long. These unfortunates can spawn these weapons from their very flesh, and also grow ammunition for them.
Chaos Obliterators are biologically fused to their suits of Power Armour. As a result of their mutation, Obliterators are no longer even remotely sane. This insanity could be caused by the constant mental and physical trauma of absorbing weapons into the Obliterator's body or being biologically welded by his own body to his armour.
This insanity is also possibly caused by the Machine Spirits of his weapons and armour fusing into a destructive daemonic entity after infection by the virus. Obliterators are never part of an existing Traitor Legion or Renegade Chapter of Chaos Space Marines; they prefer to sell their services to the highest bidder amongst the Forces of Chaos in return for access to the Archeotech that they crave.
A Mutilator is a vile Chaos Space Marine whose lust for battle and quest for the simply purity of the blade have warped his physical form until he has fused, body and soul, with his weaponry. Mutilators seek not only to commune with powerful war-spirits but to absorb them, assimilating the Warp-spawned power of the various weapons into their own souls and fleshmetal bodies so that they can manifest corrupted versions at will.
These vast creatures tower over other regular infantry troops. In fact, they are as wide as Terminators are tall, giving them an impressive air of solidity and menace that is only enhanced by the gargantuan claws that they're armed with. On the battlefield they can summon weapon spirits, and their claws appear to be morphing between power weapons, lightning claws or even chainfists to provide them with the perfect tool to eviscerate any given foe.
Havocs are the Chaos variant of the Space Marine Devastator, heavy weapon specialists who are trained to annihilate the foe at range. Squads of Havocs provide devastating anti-infantry and anti-armour firepower, dominating large swathes of the battlefield with volley after punishing volley. Such is the blood-pounding thrill of pouring heavy fire into the enemy ranks that many Havocs become obsessed by the power their weapons afford them. They see themselves as gods of the battlefield, blasting the insect vermin of the enemy into oblivion with each twitch of the finger.
Consisting of 4 to 9 Chaos Space Marines, and led by an Aspiring Champion of Chaos, Havoc Squads are used to support their brethren during an advance by laying down a withering hail of fire. These squads excel at providing a devastating barrage of anti-infantry and anti-armour firepower that can dominate the battlefield with their merciless volleys. Often they will also employ a Rhino Armoured Personnel Carrier, speeding themselves to better vantages where they will be able to use the optimal amount of fire against their warband's enemies.
At the request of Abaddon the Despoiler, the Defilers were created, making them the most common type of Daemon Engine, or daemon-possessed vehicle, faced by the Imperium of Man. Defilers are daemonically-possessed killing machines: a massive conglomeration of metal with two giant gnashing claws, six barbed mechanical legs, and an arsenal consisting of a powerful built-in Autocannon along with several other smaller weapons, though the weapons mix can differ dramatically from one Defiler to another.
The Defiler is meant to be the Chaos counterpart to the Space Marine Dreadnoughts and to go forth onto the battlefield and destroy whatever stands in its way, thus paving the way for the rest of the Chaos horde which will inevitably follow in its wake of destruction and utter carnage. The Defiler is operated by an enraged daemonic entity trapped within the construct's metal and which is held within this mechanical tomb by sorcerous spells of sedation and binding cast by the blasphemous Tech-priests of the Dark Mechanicus. Only the destruction of the Defiler will grant its imprisoned daemon's release back into the Warp.
Chaos Space Marine Dreadnoughts are not revered for their wisdom or experience like their Imperial counterpart. Instead, they are usually shackled securely when not in combat because the Chaos Space Marine within has been driven insane by millennia of being trapped within the cold cybernetic sarcophagus as the power of Chaos warped his mind and spirit.
They are used as insane behemoths to trample the enemy and are regarded with caution, as the madman within the Dreadnought can turn his wrath upon his comrades if there are no enemy units within range. It is exactly this unreliability that led Abaddon the Despoiler to call for the creation of the Defiler as a replacement for the Traitor Legions' original Dreadnoughts. Chaos Dreadnoughts' weapons are configured in the same way as Imperial Dreadnoughts but have no specific designations.
As they are not wise or even reliable by any standard, Chaos Dreadnoughts are usually designated as fire support or frontal assault units rather than elite soldiers like their Imperial Space Marine counterparts. In earlier eras, Chaos Dreadnoughts could be configured into more powerful versions of their Imperial counterparts by the use of special Marks dedicated to one of the Chaos Gods, imbuing them with unholy sorcerous powers. This practice is no longer seen among these twisted cyborgs.
The Rhino Armoured Personnel Carrier is an ancient design that has long been the most numerous of support vehicles for the Space Marines. Its service stretches back to the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy when the Astartes Legions first split between Loyalist and Traitor allegiances. When the Forces of Chaos were defeated and pursued into the Eye of Terror during the Great Scouring, they took their war machines with them. Chaos Space Marines often loot new Rhinos from their defeated Space Marine enemies and raid Imperial supply ships to secure new supplies of the venerable vehicle.
Once these new Rhinos are in their hands, Chaos Space Marines deface all Imperial insignia, attach banners proclaiming their allegiance to the Chaos Gods and festoon the vehicles with spikes, blades and grisly trophies that transform it from the service of the Corpse Emperor to that of his greatest enemies. Over the ten millennia of their Long War against the Corpse Emperor, the Chaos Space Marines have continued to use the Rhino as their main transport vehicle.
The Predator is the main battle tank of the Space Marines and can be fitted with different weapons for anti-armour operations, anti-infantry firepower or to provide a mixed support role. Based upon the ever-versatile Rhino chassis, the Predator has an armoured turret that can sport an Autocannon or Lascannons and can be further armed with the addition of side sponsons mounting other heavy weaponry. By sacrificing all of the Rhino's troop-carrying capacity, the Predator is also protected by a reinforced chassis with extra armoured Ceramite and Adamantium plates.
Chaos Predators are used to provide mobile heavy support to fast-moving Chaos Space Marine attacks. Capable of laying down terrifying amounts of firepower, the Chaos Predator can eliminate enemy armour or pave the way for an infantry assault, or unleash a blaze of fire to decimate enemy squads that are attempting to mount a counterattack. Frequently, the Predators used by the Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions have seen service for hundreds and usually thousands of standard years.
They are embellished with horrific decorations, fluttering Chaos banners, daemonic gargoyles, beast-headed weapon muzzles and other icons of Chaos, making them as much a utilitarian statement of the Chaos Space Marines' hatred of the Imperium of Man and its Emperor as a war machine.
The Vindicator is another Space Marine vehicle based upon the Rhino Standard Template Construct chassis. The Vindicator sacrifices the Rhino's troop-transport capacity in order to mount reinforced ceramite and admantium armour, additional internal bracing and ammunition storage. This is needed for the massive Demolisher Cannon mounted on the vehicle's front which is supported by thick recoil suppressors.
Protected by an enormous armoured plate at the front of its hull, the Vindicator can move into position under intense enemy fire, even approaching the walls of an enemy fortress until is potent main cannon is in range. The Demolisher Cannon fires a large bore shell packed with high explosives. While it lacks the range of a standard Battlecannon, the Demolisher is more potent and can breach a city wall or obliterate another tank. It is ideal for levelling bunkers and enemy fortifications, for blasting infantry out of trenches and foxholes and for smashing through the gates of a citadel.
Chaos Vindicators were used extensively by the Traitor Legions at the Siege of the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra and have seen service in the Legions and with Renegade Chaos Space Marine warbands across the galaxy in the last 10,000 standard years. The Iron Warriors Legion, the loyal followers of the Daemon Primarch Perturabo, still field entire squadrons of Vindicators, emblazoned with Chaos sigils and adorned with the wreckage of fallen Imperial cities as their trophies of victory.
Chaos Land Raiders
The Land Raider is the heaviest ground vehicle used by the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes and is more like a mobile fortress than a main battle tank. With equally heavy ceramite and admantium armour on its flanks and rear as its front, it can plough into an enemy army with near-impunity, its thick armoured plates withstanding all but the deadliest of anti-tank weaponry.
The Land Raider's cavernous hull carries a full squad of Chaos Space Marines, or more often, a fearsome detachment of Chaos Terminators. Once in position, a Land Raider opens its front assault ramp to disgorge its cargo of bloodthirsty warriors directly into combat with the enemy, while providing supporting fire from its myriad weapon systems. Land Raiders are highly prized by the Chaos Space Marines because their numbers are very limited.
Chaos Lords and Chaos Champions often use a Land Raider as their personal transport to proclaim their status and power among the Forces of Chaos, adorning their armoured juggernaut with large Chaos banners, decorating its hull with the bodies of slain Loyalist Astartes and the various symbols of the Dark Gods. With its lascannons blazing and enemy shots sparking harmlessly off its powerful hull, a Land Raider is a bastion of strength that can spearhead an offensive or form a mobile rallying point when used on the defensive.
Soul Grinders are the ultimate Daemon Engines, the fusion of powerful daemonic entities with machines of war that originate from outside of the Immaterium but have already felt the touch of Chaos. These are often the wrecked remains of other Daemon Engines and possessed vehicles, such as the mighty Chaos Battle Titans of the Traitor Titan Legions, or the rampaging Defilers created by the Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions. All this ruined materiel is absorbed into the Warp, flowing from realspace into the Immaterium through the Eye of Terror, the Maelstrom and other Warp rifts where the different realities touch.
On the ash plains of the Immaterium outside the independent daemonic structure known as the Forge of Souls, battle never stops, as many amongst the higher ranks of daemons vie with each other and duel for the chance to fuse with the mechanical constructs created by the Forge and become a Soul Grinder. This is because, unlike a possessed mortal body, these steel and ceramite shells can sustain a daemon in the mortal universe for solar decades, even centuries. During this time, the shape of each Soul Grinder will change, as their metal body slowly becomes more similar to the true form of the daemon possessing it.
Such a precious boon does not come cheaply. To become a Soul Grinder, a daemon must take the three Oaths of the Iron Pact with the Masters of the Forge of Souls. First, that all souls harvested by the great blades of the newborn Soul Grinder will be used to fuel the Forge. Second, that the wrecked remains of all the war machines destroyed by the claws of the Soul Grinder will be offered for the use of the Forge. And lastly, that should one of the Chaos Gods attack the Forge of Souls and try to rule over it, all of the Soul Grinders will fight in its defence, discarding their previous loyalties to any of the four Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
In battle, Soul Grinders form the armoured spearhead of the daemonic hosts, using their massive firepower to hammer the enemy lines, covering the rank-and-file troops of the Dark Gods as they close with their enemies. Their daemonic nature allows them to appear out of thin air where least expected, makes them invulnerable to small arms fire and resilient to the hits of all but the most powerful of anti-tank weapons. As they advance towards the enemy, the Soul Grinders keep up a continuous barrage with their feared Harvester Guns, rapid-firing weapons built by the daemonic artisans of Chaos from the pieces of ancient weaponry seized from the world of mortals.
But the most potent weapon of the Soul Grinder is its Maw Cannon--its hideous mouth is capable of unleashing the terrible energies of the Warp itself. These attacks can take many different forms, all strange and unnatural to mortal eyes. Sometimes the Soul Grinders can vomit forth great gouts of Warpflame, while at others their tongues lash out like a searing energy ray. They can even spit huge masses of mutating ichor incredible distances, annihilating entire squads in one great explosion. At close quarters Soul Grinders are all but unstoppable as their adamantine claws and piston-powered crushing limbs crackle with daemonic power. Few warriors are capable of standing their ground when a Soul Grinder finally reaches their lines.
Many Titan Legions of the Collegia Titanica sided with the Warmaster Horus during the Horus Heresy and turned Traitor against the Imperium, like the infamous Legio Mortis. These Traitor Titans and their crews were forced to flee into the Eye of Terror when the Heresy ended, much like the rest of the mortal Chaos forces. Exposed for countless centuries to the warping effects of the Immaterium and the baleful influence of Chaos, most of the Chaos Titans had been drastically altered.
Most are now possessed Daemon Engines whose Machine Spirits have been replaced by a daemonic intelligence, whose outer hulls have been reshaped into forms more pleasing to the Ruinous Powers and whose crews were also transformed into the damned immortal pawns of the Dark Gods who can never leave their Titans.
The standard Imperial classes of Titan, the Warhound-class Scout Titan, the Reaver-class Battle Titan, the Warlord-class Battle Titan and the Imperator-class Emperor Titan, once warped by the power of Chaos, are redesignated the Feral-class Scout Titan, the Ravager-class Battle Titan, the Banelord-class Battle Titan and the extremely rare Abominatus-class Emperor Titan, respectively. While less numerous than Imperial Titans, Chaos Titans are equally, if not actually more powerful, as a result of their daemonic endowments. If they appear on a battlefield, it requires the deployment of multiple Imperial Titans to defeat these hideous Daemon Engines.
Lesser Daemons of Tzeentch
There are two types of Lesser Daemons who serve Tzeentch. The Horror is the basic daemonic soldier of Tzeentchian armies; they excel in ranged combat using armour-piercing projectiles that if used properly will decimate infantry and heavy infantry. Horrors only provide mediocre support against armoured vehicles. Horrors are described as constantly churning balls of raw Chaos energy that are able to take on any form they desire.
Flamers are similar to Horrors except that they shoot fire from their multitude of mouths, acting as living flame throwers. These flames make the Flamer a more well-rounded unit able to effectively combat infantry and light armored vehicles. They are also great for breaking the moral of larger squads, forcing their enemies to flee.
Lesser Daemons of Slaanesh
The primary Lesser Daemon unit found in Slaaneshi armies is the Daemonette. These alluring creatures are fast-moving melee specialists who can seduce an enemy unit into not firing upon them until it is too late. Daemonettes make short work of most infantry and can usually keep pace with most fast-attack units like Chaos Space Marine Raptors. It is recommended by most Chaos Sorcerers that Daemonettes be summoned in close proximity to Chaos units already assaulting the enemy.
Lesser Daemons of Nurgle
The Plaguebearers are the typical Lesser Daemonic soldier unit used in Nurgleite armies. These daemons are slower than others, but their ability to spread the horrific sorcerous disease known as Nurgle's Rot allows them to return any damage taken during an assault ten-fold. Often described as ugly, rotting, cyclopic mutants, their effect on enemy morale is devastating. They are incredibly damaging to most infantry, heavy infantry, and light armour in melee to short-ranged combat.
Lesser Daemons of Khorne
The primary Lesser Daemon found in Khornate armies is the Bloodletter -- a fearless, rampaging horned humanoid beast that dominates in melee combat. Their weapons are all considered Power Weapons, making Bloodletters extremely effective against most armour and infantry types. They are one of the only daemonic units who wear armour. Another type of daemon associated with Khorne are his Flesh Hounds. These rabid, canine-like monsters act as a fast attack unit that is devastating to infantry in close combat.
Flesh Hounds are savage beasts that relentlessly hunt down the enemies of the Blood God. Once the Flesh Hounds have found the scent of prey, nothing will stop their howls until it is the last sound their doomed quarry will ever hear. One of the most recognisable features of the Flesh Hounds is the large iron and brass collar that seems to grow directly out of their necks' flesh.
These are a gift from Khorne, and not only provide physical protection, but also provide a mystical ward against psychic attacks. This anti-psychic defence makes the Flesh Hounds the bane of all the mortal servants of Khorne's hated adversary Tzeentch, and all the Sorcerers of the galaxy fear these Hounds of the Blood God.
Furies are the weakest form of daemon and can be found in any of the Ruinous Powers' armies. They have bat-like wings, razor sharp claws and horns, and while they can overpower a normal man they are cowardly creatures that only help out if the victory is assured. Any sign of loss or failure on the field of battle and Furies flee back into the sky.
It has been conjectured that the Furies are made of the souls of mortals that could never decide which of the Gods of Chaos to serve -- not because of a genuine love for all four of them in the guise of Chaos Undivided, but from a continuous swaying of worship of one Chaos God to another, driven only by the prospect of personal gain. When their souls are released from their mortal shells, none of the Ruinous Powers claim them -- their fate is to be forbidden from entering any of their Realms in the Warp.
Instead, they spend eternity in the shape of a grotesque gargoyle, condemned to be buffeted by the currents of the Immaterium, with no direction and no meaning. Such is the fate of the indecisive. When a Daemonic Legion breaks into reality, these bestial daemons see their opportunity for a temporary respite from their eternal tortures and flock onto the battlefield to vent their eternal anger against mortals.
Horrors are effective anti-vehicle Lesser Daemon units usually found in a Chaos army dedicated to Tzeentch. The Horror consists of many tentacles and a large mouth that spews intensely hot bolts of flame which work to sear the armor off of their mechanized opponents. They are not particularly large, but possess great destructive capabilities; a moderately large group of Horrors can easily dispatch a Chimera transport, or even a Leman Russ medium tank.
Discs of Tzeentch
The Discs of Tzeentch are for the most part considered a war gear option for Chaos armies. They are stingray-like in appearance, and their sides are razor sharp which allows them to act like a living shuriken. They fly on the ethereal winds of the Warp, taking their riders above the field of battle where normal, ground-based hindrances and traps will not impede their progress. Units outfitted with Discs of Tzeentch are considered mounted cavalry.
Nurglings are small Lesser Daemons dedicated to Nurgle, grotesque in appearance, that infest the battlefield and the bodies of those who fight upon it. When selected as an individual unit, Nurglings act as a swarm, attacking together to bring down the mightiest prey. They are small enough to fit through the gaps in any armour, making them great for slowing down (but not necessarily killing) an enemy. Their small size also makes them hard to hit for enemy fire. Nurglings can also accompany a Champion of Nurgle.
Juggernauts of Khorne
The Juggernauts of Khorne are large, armoured daemonic beasts resembling a rhino or bull. These daemons act as unstoppable mounts for the Chaos Champions of the Blood God. Using a Juggernaut not only increases a Champion's speed, but their resistance to enemy fire as well as their overall combat effectiveness and intimidation factor in melee combat.
Fiends of Slaanesh
Fiends of Slaanesh are chimerical hybrids of human, reptile and insect, given a body through the perversity of the Prince of Pleasure. A Fiend has a long, segmented body covered in delicate scales that shimmer as it moves. It has four legs ending in disturbingly humanoid feet and two slender arms with vicious clamp-like claws that the Fiend uses to disembowel the enemy. A Fiend's tongue contains a narcotic poison that numbs the mind and body of those it licks, causing them to fall into a coma during which the Fiend will slice them apart slowly. Fiends move incredibly quickly, using their pincers and tail to maintain their balance. As it sprints forward, a Fiend irregularly sashays from side-to-side, so that it can appear to be running sideways or backwards, confounding the enemy.
There are a vast and innumerable number of daemonic entities within the Immaterium, and their number and type is constantly changing due to the impermanent nature of Chaos itself. Each of the Ruinous Powers is served by his own cavalcade of Greater Daemons and Daemon Princes, whose appearance on a battlefield alongside the other Forces of Chaos is rare and usually only occurs when the Chaos Gods are seeking to earn a major victory against the Forces of Order. As such, Chaos armies can sometimes be found accompanied by new and potent types of daemons that have not yet been catalogued by the Ordo Malleus of the Inquisition.
This is only a select and generalised list of sources. Please see each individual unit's page for a complete and accurate listing.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG)
- Black Crusade: Broken Chain (RPG)
- Black Crusade: Hand of Corruption (RPG)
- Black Crusade: Tome of Blood (RPG)
- Black Crusade: Tome of Fate (RPG)
- Black Crusade: Tome of Ecstasy (RPG)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex)
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (6th Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (4th Edition)
- Codex: Eye of Terror, (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Space Marines, (5th Edition)
- Codex: Space Marines, (4th Edition)
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG)
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG)
- Imperial Armour The Horus Heresy - Betrayal: Book One
- Index Astartes I
- Index Astartes II
- Index Astartes III
- Index Astartes IV
- Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness (1st Edition)
- Realms of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (1st Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (4th Edition)
- White Dwarf 394 (UK), "New Releases - Forces of Chaos," pp. 4-35
- Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising (PC Game)