"Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!"
- — Khornate Warcry
Khorne, also called the Blood God and the Lord of Skulls, is the Chaos God of blood, war and murder. Its domain covers the most basic and brutal of sentient emotions and actions, such as hate, anger, rage, war and killing.
Every act of killing or murder in the material universe feeds and empowers Khorne; the more senseless and destructive, the better. However, though Khorne is the god of bloody slaughter, it is also the god of martial pride and honour, of those who set themselves against the most dangerous foes and earn victory against the odds.
A devotee of Khorne is as likely to be an honourable champion in combat as a blood-crazed slaughterer. Khornates take no artful approach to killing, seeking only to slay rather than to inflict pain, because while the blood and death of their victims strengthens Khorne, their suffering actually empowers its nemesis Slaanesh.
The name "Khorne" derives from its name in Chaos' daemonic Dark Tongue, Kharneth, meaning "Lord of Rage" or "Lord of Blood." Khorne is the mightiest and the oldest of the four major Chaos Gods, fully coming into existence in the Immaterium sometime during Terra's European Middle Ages in the early 2nd Millennium, its birth heralded by an era of wars and conflict that raged across the globe.
Khorne is the Blood God, Lord of Rage, Taker of Skulls. It is wrath incarnate, the embodiment of a never-ending lust to dominate and destroy. It is Khorne's sole desire to drown the galaxy in a tide of slaughter, to conquer and kill every living thing until there is nothing left but spilt blood and shattered bone.
The Blood God is commonly depicted as a broad and muscular humanoid who stands hundreds of feet tall. Khorne has the face of a savage, snarling dog, though the god's twisted features are all but hidden by a baroque helm decorated with the skulls of conqueror kings.
Khorne's exaggerated physique is further distorted by heavy, overlapping plates of armour fashioned from brass and blackened iron. Its every word is a growl of endless fury, and its roars of bloodlust echo across its realm.
Khorne broods from a throne of carved brass, atop a mountain of skulls. The macabre trophies are the fleshless heads of the Blood God's champions, stacked alongside those of their defeated opponents.
A hundred thousand species are represented, from Human heads beyond counting to Tyranid skulls the size of hive city hab-blocks. The ever-growing pile of bloodstained bone reflects the material victories of the Blood God's followers, feeding Khorne's glory but never quenching its thirst for blood and death.
At Khorne's side rests a great two-handed sword, a legendary blade capable of laying waste to the substance of worlds with a single blow. This fell weapon is known by various names to the different intelligent races of the galaxy, including Woebringer, Warmaker, and the End of All Things. It is said that when Khorne takes up its sword, a single sweep can cut through reality itself, allowing Khorne's daemonic legions to spill forth into the Materium.
The code of Khorne is simple: blood and more blood. Its only temple is the battlefield, its sole sacrament the spilled blood of nations. Consciously or not, all warrior cultures pay Khorne homage with their acts of murder and destruction, from the headhunting tribes of backwater Feral Worlds to the planet-conquering warbands of the Chaos Space Marines of the World Eaters Traitor Legion.
Every single life taken in anger increases the Blood God's power. It looks well upon those warriors who slay their friends and allies, for they prove their understanding of a greater truth -- Khorne cares not from whence the blood flows, only that it flows.
Friends or enemies, all the dead are equal in the eyes of the Lord of Battle. Those Khornate devotees who let a day pass without committing an act of bloody-handed slaughter inevitably incur the Blood God's displeasure.
Khorne is said to have inherited a martial nobility and honour, and considers the weak and helpless to be unworthy of its wrath. The battle-cry of the followers of Khorne reflects its desire for wanton violence: "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Throne of Khorne!"
Alternatively, they may cry, "Skulls for the Skull Throne!" In the throes of violence, Khorne's followers are also known to bellow, "KILL! MAIM! BURN!" repeatedly while hacking apart their enemies. Also, the Khornate Berserkers known as Khorne's Chosen often shout "Break their backs!" while in the thick of the brutal, bloody battle they so passionately seek out.
Followers of the Chaos God Slaanesh, who Khornates see as degenerate scum who kill only for pleasure rather than to test one's self against mighty enemies, are favoured foes to face in battle, as are the servants of Tzeentch, who are seen as sorcerers unwilling to engage in fair and honourable combat.
Khorne's sacred number is eight, reflected in the organisation of the god's armies, and in smaller matters such as the number of syllables in a Khornate daemon's name.
Where possible, the Blood God's warriors will form up into squads of this number. Khorne's primary colours are blood red, black and brass. Also note that the Mark of Khorne looks vaguely like a figure of eight or a stylized Human skull.
Blood and Skulls
Khorne is the Blood God, the angry and murderous lord of battle. It is said to be the warrior god whose bellows of insatiable rage echo through time and space back to the first act of violence ever committed by one mortal upon another. Devotees of the Ruinous Powers have debated forcefully about the primogenesis of the Blood God for millennia.
Some hold that it was the will of Khorne that first impelled a primitive to seize a rock and brain one of his fellows in a fit of murderous rage, thereby triggering the spiral of violence that fed the Chaos God to become the formidable force that now afflicts the galaxy.
Others declare that it was the first mortal impulses of fury that breathed life into Khorne, and that it represents the primitive lust for violence lurking in every mortal heart. However, the true disciples of Khorne care nothing for such debates as they are fully engaged with slaying all that come to hand.
There are as many sources of conflict as there are beings in the universe. Jealousy, rage, sport, hunger, political advantage, territory, possessions, or even the simple, innate thirst for domination all breed and foster conflict. It is inescapable.
There has never been a time or a place free from it. Even those races claiming to be enlightened and peaceful cannot escape the basic truth that without conflict, their progress would come to a halt, with challenging new ideas being left unconsidered.
The victims and beneficiaries of conflict are not limited to emerging only from simple personal struggles. In the grandest scales, systems of government, even entire cultures and civilisations, are destroyed by stronger ones, often as easily as a Chaos Space Marine reaches out with a Power Fist and crushes the frail frame of a Grot. It is through conflict that the mighty rise and the weak fall. At its most basic level, conflict is the survival of one thing at the expense of another.
In spite of his apparently self-destructive aspects, Khorne is overtly the most potent and active of all the Chaos Gods. Endless wars and bloodshed in the mortal realm fuel him with the skulls of the slain, constantly drawn into his raging depths. Khorne needs no honeyed promises or convoluted plots to draw mortals into his realm; the anger and fury lurking just below their civilised demeanour is often more than enough.
The path to Khorne's domain can be just as slippery as any represented by the other, more subtle Ruinous Powers. The instinct to violence is a necessary one in a hostile universe, and is lauded in protectors or liberators. Many societies must literally fight to survive and they celebrate their members for their ability to defend themselves and others.
Khorne is conflict embodied to its most violent extreme, and thus Khorne is eternal and omnipresent. In all places and throughout every era and across every intelligent species, Khorne's influence has been felt by all. Its attentions have had a hand in determining the outcome of seemingly every antagonistic confrontation, from a disagreement between two angry scribes, to the galaxy-crushing battles of the Horus Heresy.
Reaching out from its Skull Throne, beyond the illusion of reality in which mortal beings live and die, Khorne touches the greatest conflicts.
It pushes them forward, encouraging their growth. Driving men and women to take from their rivals that which they have not the strength to retain, Khorne stokes the fires of their hostility. Where expanding civilisations lay competing claims to newfound resources, it fans the flames of discord.
As a brother grows jealous of his sibling's position, Khorne heats the blood to the boiling point. Conflict is embraced as possessions are claimed, resources are seized, and brothers are slain. Through it all, blood flows to Khorne and it laughs as its power grows.
Blood for the Blood God
The fundamental conflicts that drive mortal life forward sustain Khorne on a base level, much as bread and water might sustain a creature of flesh. But just as a mortal body craves more substantial food, so too does Khorne desire greater conflicts.
It is not content to lurk in the background, inciting petty squabbles or drinking in the joys of a remote border dispute. Khorne is not some mere beast or other lowly temporal being. It is a god, and the appetite of a god is terrible and insatiable.
The worship of Khorne takes many forms. Primitive Human cultures have followed Khorne since the time they first were able to hunt game and make war upon their neighbours. Many of them are not even aware that the god they venerate is the Blood God itself. Some do not even think of it as a god. To them it is a force of nature to be appeased or a spirit to be persuaded.
A common representation of Khorne in these cultures is that of a great beast, such as a shadowy mastiff, eyes ablaze as it seeks prey. Enlisting the aid of such a spirit can ensure a productive hunt or bloody victory in a battle with another clan.
Humans are not alone in following this blood-soaked path. Khorne's favour can also come to the brutal Orks, despite their own gods Gork and Mork. Fierce Nekulli mercenaries, bloodthirsty Rak'Gol hunters, or indeed any warrior from any intelligent species can serve the purpose of the Lord of Skulls. They need only pledge blood and skulls to their master to receive its strength in their arms and its rage in their hearts.
Even deep within Imperial space, there are those who would unwittingly turn to the worship of Khorne. On Hive Worlds, gangs fight one another for territory and supplies.
Sometimes they recruit a deadly assassin to eliminate a particularly powerful opposing gang leader. Such an assassin, at the direction of his temple's leadership, may seek a divine hand to guide his dagger's stroke over the throat of his target. In praying for help to commit such a murder, the assassin runs the risk of attracting the notice of Khorne, the Lord of Murder.
The assassin's masters may or may not know that they end up serving Khorne. They may think they are offering sacrifices to some other deity, or could simply not care to whom the blood of the kill is consecrated as long as the temple gains power and influence.
Regardless, Khorne offers its help and claims the blood in payment. Regardless of the need that pushes someone to it, no matter the circumstance, or indeed even the name or form by which it is known, one constant binds all to Khorne -- blood. Above all, Khorne seeks the spilling of blood. Through murder, slaughter, and war, servants of the Blood God rip apart the flesh of their enemies, staining the soil on thousands of worlds with crimson gore, all in the name of Khorne.
Nothing pleases Khorne more than the free flow of sanguine life force. It gives the god its power, sustains it, and eases the spreading of its influence. Those who worship Khorne must ensure that the supply of blood never ceases, for Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, only that it does.
A follower who displeases Khorne by failing to provide sufficient blood sacrifices will likely find himself as the next offering, his blood drunk, his soul consumed, and his skull tossed upon the vast mountain of such bones that surrounds the Throne of Skulls.
Wars Without End
"There is no peace. There is only time wasted between battles."
- —Ergathon of the Skulltakers, Champion of Khorne
Though Khorne's influence is a steady, constant tide of aggression pushing the world of mortals to acts of brutality, murder, and bloodshed, this is not enough to satiate the thirst of the Lord of Battle. Minor, isolated, or subtle acts cannot keep the rivers of its realm flowing with blood or elevate its throne ever higher upon a mound of skulls.
They cannot fuel the fires of the boundless rage that exists at the very core of its being. Khorne demands slaughter on a planetary scale, the murder of entire species, and, most of all, unending battle. Warfare -- constant, epic, and merciless warfare -- is required to reap the blood and skulls required to feed the cravings of a god.
All inteligent species wage war upon their rivals, even those that claim to seek unity and enlightenment. Those that do not willingly submit to the cause of another's greater good are brought to heel through armed force.
For reluctant soldiers, war is a duty performed in service to a higher cause. It serves its purpose as a means to an end of peace. Many, though, find the means of carnage to become an end in itself.
To those who serve Khorne, war needs no justification or purpose beyond the glorious act itself. Splitting a head with a chainaxe and feeling the blood strike the flesh of the hand that wields it is its own reward. It becomes a compulsion.
Killing begets killing. Blood demands blood. Devotion to Khorne is a life, no matter how brief or long, filled with days of brutal destruction, broken up only by the need to gather strength until the assault can be launched anew.
A single rage-fuelled man can kill a handful of people before he falls, but when hundreds or thousands of such individuals gather together, cities, planets, and even galaxies shake in fear. Armies of Khorne's devoted worshippers descend upon a planet with a single purpose -- to reap skulls and spill blood for their master. Huge Daemon Engines of war, weapons of incalculable destructive power, are granted to the armies that show the greatest devotion and total the largest body counts.
As the Doom Mortars of these chosen forces rain gravedigger shells down upon the heads of a terrified populace, ranks of frenzied warriors tear into a planet as if it were itself a living thing. Orbital defences are smashed, cities are razed, and enemy war machines are obliterated, clearing the way for the killing to begin in earnest.
Destruction inflicted from ranged weapons is a start, but true martial achievement can only be realised in close quarters. Each kill committed fuels the greater slaughter.
There are no captives taken, no lives spared; Khorne does not abide mercy. As streets become rivers of blood and bones shatter beneath advancing boots, the armies of Khorne push themselves to greater and greater feats of carnage.
At first, pistols are holstered in favour of chainswords and Power Axes. The blades bite deeply into the chests and necks of terrified enemy soldiers, the resistance of the flesh generating a feeling of grim satisfaction for the wielder. Soon even this sensation is not gratifying enough. The warriors of Khorne need to feel the heat of freshly spilled blood as it pumps out of hearts directly onto their skin.
They need to revel in the snapping of arms and ripping of flesh that the jagged bone protrusions cause. In these moments, Khorne and its followers reach a level of communion that gives the Blood God the closest thing it gets to a feeling of being satiated.
This feeling, however, is fleeting. As soon as it subsides, Khorne bellows in rage and pushes its followers to regroup and prepare to assault their next target. The warfare never ends.
Even in Khorne's own realm, where enemies only rarely present themselves, there is war. The generals of Khorne's daemonic armies, the mighty Bloodthirsters, lead legions of Bloodletters, Flesh Hounds, and other daemons into battle against one another. They hone their brutal skills, even as they dull their blade edges against the armour of other daemons.
Axes cut into unnatural flesh in a constant orgy of destruction. Limbs are severed, chests are impaled on horns, faces are ripped apart by teeth and claws. When a battle ends, the wrecked bodies of the fallen are crushed under foot or tossed into great bottomless chasms. The battlefield remains idle for only as long as it takes for fresh legions to mass.
Then the battle cries are heard once more and war begins anew. The only respite from the conflict is reserved for the furnace-daemons who work the forges, creating weapons for the legions to wield in their next battle, be it within Khorne's realm or in the material world.
Cult of Khorne
"Prepare the Dreadclaws and unchain the Mad Ones! Glorious battle awaits us today, for the world below has refused to surrender! Let us descend upon them with fury and rage, giving no quarter and sparing only those warriors who fight well enough to earn a place amongst us. As to the rest, their lives and possessions are ours, but their skulls are for Khorne!"
- — Captain Korgin, the World-Reaver
Khorne is the Blood God, an angry and murderous god of Chaos whose bellows of limitless rage echo throughout the corridors of time and space. Its great brass throne sits in the Realm of Chaos upon a mountain of skulls in the midst of a plain of splintered bone and lakes of mortal blood formed from the remains of its followers slain in battle and those who its minions have killed in its name.
Khorne embodies mindless and absolute violence, destroying everyone and everything within reach, shedding the blood of friend and foe alike simply for the sake and joy of murder and unleashing rage. The followers of Khorne are always ferocious warriors and never make use of psychic powers, for the Blood God abhors the trickery of magic and cowardly sorcerers, particularly the servants of Tzeentch.
Men and women turn to Khorne for the power to conquer, to defeat their enemies in battle, to wreak bloody vengeance and to attain unmatched martial prowess against all comers. The most fanatical and dedicated of the god's followers, those whose souls are trapped fully within its bloody embrace, know that it truly desires only constant and wild slaughter for its own sake. Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, only that it flows without cease for all eternity.
Khorne has an immense following among mortals, especially Humans, as its radiance of raw power and strong emotion beckons all who lust for battle and power over their fellows to its side. Worship of Khorne is especially embraced by the more primitive and primal Human tribes that inhabit many of the Feral and Feudal Worlds across the Imperium of Man.
The followers of Khorne are almost all uncontrollable fighters, who excel at the art of killing. Khornate cultists share their god's straightforward philosophy on warfare and battle tactics, preferring to charge directly at their foes in order to defeat them in close, melee combat where they can make the blood really flow.
As such, Khorne's followers are generally berserkers that pay little heed to tactics or defence in their frenzy for blood. Khorne frowns upon the use of sorcery and trickery, and those pursuing the magical arts look elsewhere to find a patron for their studies.
Unlike the other Chaos Gods, Khorne's followers do not go to great lengths to build temples in its honour. Instead, they worship their god on the battlefield, praising it with battle cries such as "Blood for the Blood God!" or "Skulls for the Skull Throne!" the god's followers also offer it praise and attempt to win its favor by savagely attacking each other when there are no other battles to be fought -- and sometimes even when there are.
It is said that Khorne is the easiest Chaos God to worship, because while worship of most of the other gods requires rituals, altars, and sacrifices, Khorne's demands are simply that its followers spill fresh blood and collect skulls in its name.
Those favoured by Khorne often receive its Chaos "blessings" -- mutations. Sometimes these physical alterations take the form of great strength or a beast-like visage, sometimes of frightening physical alterations such as the development of horns, claws or rending talons.
Regardless of the mutations that develop, they are displayed proudly by their Khornate recipients and serve both as visible reminders of the Blood God's existence and as inspiration for those who have not yet won its favour. The World Eaters Traitor Legion is dedicated solely to Khorne and its cause: the shedding of blood and the defeat of all enemies.
Khorne's disciples believe that its great throne of brass sits upon a mountain of skulls in the midst of a sea of blood, evidence of the sacrifice of its countless followers slain in battle and the multitudes killed in its name. The skulls and blood are described as belonging to all of the victims who are slain by its worshippers, the members of the Cult of Khorne.
Alternatively, the skulls are of all those slain by Khorne's Champions, and of all its slain Champions. The mountain slowly grows ever higher. By some accounts a great forge sits at the base of the throne, in which the weapons and armour used by Khorne's mortal and daemonic servants are forged. They hold that Khorne is the Chaos God that embodies mindless and absolute violence, the wild blood lust that, once unleashed, yearns to destroy everyone within reach whether they be friend or foe.
Such true believers are few in number and they grow fewer all the time as the god's devoted followers gleefully send one another into its embrace, knowing that Khorne cares not from where the blood flows. Depictions of Khorne often show it as a titanic, armoured figure covered from head to foot in armoured plates of strange and alien design.
The figure's armour is usually elaborately carved and worked with a repeating skull motif while its head is covered by a great winged helm showing a bestial, snarling face beneath. In most images, Khorne bears a rune-covered sword or axe, though in more primitive cultures the god is often shown only with fists or claw-like hands.
Sacred Number Eight
Why Khorne is connected to the number eight is unknown, but it has been so since the Warp first echoed to the god's fury. Its affinity for the figure, and any of its multiples, is strongly reflected in the organisation of its daemonic legions -- from the number of Bloodthirster ranks to the number of cohorts in a full strength legion.
It is a number that also appears throughout the Blood God's domain in the Immaterium, as eight enormous towers ring the Brass Citadel, and a daemon slain in realspace must complete eight tasks before Khorne will once again give them shape.
In the most sprawling of battles within the Warp, it is always Khorne's eighth wave that is the most powerful. Even the god's mortal worshippers recognise and revere the sacred number, using it in their blood-soaked summoning rituals and carving it upon their flesh in gruesome ceremonies.
The seers of many races have foretold that only after eight ages of war have passed will Khorne's blood-thirst finally be slaked by a last, apocalyptic battle.
Burning Books of Khorne
The eight Burning Books of Khorne, bound in brass and etched in fresh blood, are said to decree the eight unholy aspects of the Blood God and name its foremost daemons.
Such an acquisition is not easily made, for the Burning Books are scattered across existence.
Khorne hates and despises the Chaos God Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure, above all other beings in the galaxy. The self-indulgent sensuality of the Prince of Chaos is an affront to the warrior instincts of Khorne.
The Lord of Battle dreams of one day wrapping its scarlet fingers around Slaanesh's soft, delicate neck and crushing it until the younger god's depraved screams of pleasure become shrieks of agony and then finally go silent with a satisfying snapping of godly bone.
The sense of duty, honour, and self-sacrifice that fuels part of Khorne's existence is an anathema to the followers of Slaanesh, and the very antithesis of their own philosophy of self-indulgent pleasure-seeking.
The daemonic servants of Khorne and Slaanesh often attack each other on sight, and their mortal followers are often no less eager to join battle. However, Khorne also has little respect for Tzeentch, the Arch Conspirator.
Tzeentch's patronage of wizards and manipulators intensifies the antipathy between their respective followers and they are frequently in conflict.
However, both Chaos Gods make common cause when the prospect for bloodletting is great and Tzeentch's unguessable schemes can be advanced through their mutual efforts.
At such times the Star of Chaos waxes strong in the mortal realm as the two most potent of the Ruinous Powers temporarily join forces and send their daemonic legions to war.
Such mercurial pacts seldom endure for long before Khorne's disciples, or Tzeentch's manipulators, inevitably turn on their erstwhile allies.
Realm of Brass and Blood
"I saw constant battle. Man fought Daemon. Lightning fought volcano. Geysers of molten brass fought lakes of steaming blood. There was no respite, no peace. That which emerged victorious was immediately set upon by another foe even more terrible. It was blood, spraying and jetting, and skulls adding to a throne that pierced the red skies. It was endless screams of rage and fury made incarnate. It was... glorious."
- — Desark Slet, vision-geist of the Encrusted Blade
Though the daemon-filled battlefields of Khorne's domain in the Realm of Chaos are many, and each is vast beyond reckoning, there is more to this blasted land than just blood-soaked plains populated with warring daemons. Violence and despair are constant travelling companions for any unfortunate soul cursed to briefly wander there.
Each foreboding hellscape leads to another, more grim than the last. At the heart of it all, Khorne watches from its Skull Throne, surveying its lands and pitting its forces against any convenient foe, be they fellow daemons or foolhardy invaders who seek to wage a doomed war on the Lord of Battle.
It is a realm unlike any other. Storms rage perpetually across crimson skies, sending gale-force blasts seemingly composed of pure rage whipping across the plains and mountains. These angry winds tear into the land itself and rip up great chunks of stone and blood-drenched earth, tossing them violently back down hundreds of leagues away in explosions of raw destruction.
The land, for its part, fights back against the brutal assault of the heavens. Earthquakes send gouts of molten brass skyward, burning up the storm clouds, temporarily ending their rage until the winds re-gather to begin their assaults anew. New mountains erupt from flat land in an instant, some thrusting into the sky like gigantic living swords, others acting as shields against the advance of the storms.
Rivers of boiling blood criss-cross the hellish landscape, dividing the realm into territories over which rival Bloodthirsters wage war. The blood-flows are not content to allow the conquered lands to rest idle. From deep below the ground, new rivers strike through the surface, splitting the lands as easily as an axe opens the bloated gut of a lazy bureaucrat.
Each crimson flow sucks down all that once occupied the space, including any daemon legions that might have been marching there. As with its war against the sky, the land retaliates, pushing the banks of the rivers to close in upon themselves.
The brass-spewing volcanoes send liquid metal into the rivers, evaporating the blood within and sealing the wounds with burning fury.
Each piece of the realm of battle constantly fights to obliterate the others. Each acts like a living servant of Khorne, wanting to prove to the master of the land that it is the most worthy of the god's rewards.
A visitor to this nightmare realm would surely be driven mad, knowing that every rock, every breeze, and every drop of what should be water is an enemy, looking to kill him with just as much purpose, desire, and violence as the multitudinous daemons of the Blood God inhabiting the land.
To witness the carnage of the realm of Khorne is to know that conflict is a living, breathing thing and not just a curse that troubles the worlds of men, machines, and aliens. It is to know an eternal truth and, thus, to know despair.
At the outermost edge of this domain there lies a ring of volcanoes that scholars of the profane have come to call Khorne's Rage.
Reaching hundreds of kilometres into the air, they belch their thick black smoke and molten brass skyward, creating an impenetrable border that can neither be seen through nor navigated.
Darkness and ash hang there, lit ominously from beneath by gouts of flame that incinerate the loose debris along the sides of the volcanoes. Within the ash clouds, blood storms roil. Red lightning dances across the clouds as thunder cracks and rolls, like the snap of a Bloodthirster's whip followed by the sound of the hooves of a thousand charging Juggernauts.
These peaks stand as a bastion against invaders, their toxic ash and scorching brass flows enough to deter all but the most determined of forces. Those who are arrogant, or foolish, enough to make the attempt to cross the torturous border are met with more than barriers of heat and jagged rock. The very rock and brass of Khorne's Rage itself rises up to crush the attackers.
Pieces of the rock break away from the side of the mountains, molten brass flowing into them in a hellish semblance of life blood. Daemons of stone and liquid metal take form, born of rage and defiance.
With mindless fury and unadulterated violence, they bludgeon and scorch their foes. Once their grim task is complete, they fall back into lifeless piles, waiting for the call to reform and defend the borders of their master's realm.
The Daemon Forges
At the base of the volcanoes are the forges of the lesser furnace-daemons. In these sweltering workshops, weapons of war are crafted. All manner of axes, swords, hammers, and armour are created to supply the Blood God's eternal wars. Here, too, the components of Khorne's Daemon Engines are made.
Assembly of these huge constructs of war is conducted elsewhere, but the cogs, blades, housings, and armaments all have their beginning here, at the foot of Khorne's Rage. It is a dangerous place to reside, even by the standards of the rest of the realm.
At any moment a volcano could erupt, flooding the forge with molten brass. It is of no concern to Khorne if a few daemons are incinerated in such mishaps; others rise from the Blood Pits to take their place, and the forges continue.
Despite the risks, the furnace-daemons are able to take advantage of the dangers of Khorne's Rage. Across the plains of battle, it is almost exclusively Khorne's own minions that do battle and perish. At the fringes of the realm, however, other warriors die agonising, terrible, bloody deaths.
Using tools of fiendish design and rites that even the most depraved Chaos Sorcerers would dare not undertake, the masters of the hell-forges enslave the souls of those mortals who would dare invade the Blood God's realm and fuse them with the anvils of Khorne.
The tormented screams of those thus eternally imprisoned blend with the ringing and clanging of each falling hammer that strikes the forge. When white-hot metal is placed on the anvil and pounded into form, the bound soul feels the scorching heat.
Thus, as each new weapon or piece of armour is crafted in the Daemon Forges, it is born to the sounds of Khorne's enemies suffering the god's everlasting wrath.
The Blood Pits
Warp energy, the raw stuff of Chaos, constantly swirls across the realms of all of the Greater Powers. Its currents and eddies shift and meander seemingly at random, causing mutation within the very land itself and everyone and everything they touch. In most cases, this power does not linger in any one place for long.
There are, however, locations throughout the Blood God's treacherous domain where the power of the Warp collects and stirs. When this happens, great craters are often gouged into the blasted plains. None can say if it takes moments or millennia for these pits to form, for time is meaningless within the Realm of Chaos.
Eventually, the Warp Storms break apart, sometimes seeping into the very pits they created. When this happens, Khorne commands its minions to intensify their efforts to harvest blood from the mortal world, using the most violent, destructive, and devastating methods they can possibly bring to bear.
The souls that perish in such a campaign give their blood to a special, dark cause. Their crimson essence is collected in the pit, where it is mixed with molten brass and a measure of Khorne's own murderous bile. The resultant lake is a new Blood Pit.
It is from the Blood Pits that new daemons of Khorne arise. Bloodletters, furnace-daemons, and many lesser fiends steadily emerge from the Warp and bile-infused blood, ready to do their master's bidding.
The soldiers that vomit forth from that pit will be charged from the day of their creation until the day they fail their master in combat with claiming more blood to refill their pit. Eventually a pit goes dry, but without fail, soon after it does a new storm begins to brew, restarting the cycle of bloodshed.
The Rivers of Blood
Dividing one region of Khorne's realm from another like jagged crimson scars on the scorched land are the rivers of blood. These kilometres-wide flows are filled with the blood of those who have fallen in service to Khorne, be they victims or followers. Nearly all blood that is shed on the god's behalf finds its way to these sanguine canals. The blood itself is hot to the point of boiling.
Steam made of vaporised blood hangs in the air all along the length of the rivers, creating a palpable red cast to the regions through which they run. Gigantic bubbles rise to the surface, carrying with them occasional remains of something that was unfortunate enough to have fallen into the river.
As the bubbles burst, globules of steaming hot blood launch hundreds of feet into the air, coming back to the ground and landing on the shores in splatter patterns that often resemble the spray of an opened artery.
The Lake of Slaughter
Thousands of blood rivers cut through the land and end up emptying over a bleak precipice kilometres high, plunging downward in waterfalls of gore. The lake that forms at the base of the wall is larger than any ocean in the mortal realm and populated with creatures that cannot be.
Leviathans of brass and bone swim through the lake, devouring all as they pass. Soaring above the lake, Bloodthirsters fight with dragons of pure, solid blood. Those that stray too close to the surface of the lake risk being snatched out of the air by the very lake itself, so hungry is it for carnage.
Rising waves on the surface take the shape of warriors and do battle, crashing violently into each other and falling back to the surface in a rain of scattered blood.
The Brass Fortress
On the far shore of the Lake of Slaughter, the ground is littered with skulls, so many, in fact, that whatever foundation may lie beneath them cannot be touched. For kilometres these skulls stretch away from the shore, and in the distance there rises a great black wall. This is the outer wall of Khorne's brass citadel.
Upon the wall stand guardian daemons, with eyes as sharp as their fangs and swords. They watch for any intruder, ready to defend their master to the last. Within the walls there are thousands of Flesh Hounds patrolling the skull-yard, sniffing out the blood scent of any who would dare attempt incursion.
In the skies, flying between the outer walls and the inner keep, elite Bloodthirsters listen for sounds of invasion on the wind. It is rare that any force musters the strength to assault the Brass Fortress, its guardians deterring all but the most foolish or daring of Khorne's rivals from even trying.
When the attempt is made, the might of the Blood God's personal host is brought to bear with a fury and rage that threatens to rip a hole between realms. While Khorne's brother Chaos Gods could gain much power should they defeat the Blood God in its fortress, the risk of counter-invasion is too great for such wars to be waged without dire cause.
It is said that if Khorne itself should rouse from its throne and personally go to war against the other Dark Gods, its favoured blade would end them all in one mighty sweep, but that such an act would have calamitous results that not even Tzeentch could predict.
It is said that Khorne itself was once consumed by such rage that it took up its sword and smote the ground, splitting it asunder for eternity. This fell sword is known by many names including Warmaker and The End of All Things, and is capable of laying waste to entire worlds with a single blow. Because of this, an uneasy state of balance exists.
When Khorne does obliterate the invading armies of its brother gods, they do not exact retribution directly. When the threat is ended, neither does Khorne press the advantage, but rather turns back toward its inner sanctum and reclaims its place atop the Throne of Skulls. Thus is balance maintained in the eternal Great Game.
The Throne of Skulls
In the very centre of the brass citadel, beyond the Bastion Stair and the eight Iron Pillars, Khorne watches over all its minions from the god's seat on the Throne of Skulls.
From there it commands its legions to bring war to the distant corners of the galaxy. Every victory it witnesses leaves it thirsting for more blood. With every defeat, Khorne takes the blood of a failed champion and adds it to the rivers of its realm.
Blood will be Khorne's; if the god must harvest it from its own minions, so be it. Surrounding the Throne on all sides is a mound of skulls that holds Khorne aloft on its perch.
Champions and fallen enemies alike contribute to the mass of bone. Could these skulls speak, some would tell tales from before the Long War against the Corpse-Emperor of the Imperium, when the Primarch Angron had yet to swear his oath to the Blood God.
Others would speak of grave mistakes that caused their entire race to fall to the axes of legions of Berserkers. The skulls closest to the god, those of its favoured Champions who have perished in service to their lord after hundreds of violent campaigns, would call out across eternity, once more bellowing their war cry: "Blood for the Blood God!"
Tuska the Daemon-Killa is the name of the Ork Warlord who is the leader of an Ork WAAAGH! that currently battles eternally before the Brass Citadel, the heart of Khorne's domain in the Realm of Chaos in the Warp.
The original Ork invaders of the Immaterium attracted the gaze of the Blood God when they plunged headlong into the Warp/realspace interface known as the Eye of Terror with the aid of many Weirdboyz in search of fresh carnage.
The Warboss' vast horde was eventually slain to an Ork by the wrathful Daemon Prince and his minions, but the god's joy in the murderous spectacle was such that Khorne itself ensured the Greenskin crusade rose once more on the very next dawn.
History repeated itself over and over again as the Orks fought tooth and nail, never once showing signs of surrender or despair. The Blood God was so impressed by their limitless battlelust that it took the Orks into its own domain. In the shadow of the Brass Citadel, Khorne's elite Bloodletter generals battle against the Daemon-Killa's undying Greenskin horde on a daily basis.
Each cycle, great clouds of fungal spores are released by the dying Greenskins to take root and flourish in the bloodstained foothills of the Osseous Peaks. Yet more Orks are born, grow to maturity and charge into battle once more.
Such endless cycles of bloodshed are most pleasing to the Blood God. After all, the one true constant in the galaxy is that of endless war -- Khorne itself has made sure of it.
Of all the daemons of Chaos, the daemons of Khorne are fearsome entities of the kind most commonly associated with terrifying Human legends and myths. Their horns, fangs, blood-red hides, and blazing eyes leave little doubt as to their murderous intent, and their ferocity is truly matchless.
Only a fool treats with the daemons of Khorne without a ready source of blood sacrifices to trade for his own life. If a petitioner can evade death long enough a bargain is easy enough to strike, the ravening entities desire only to be unleashed on a victim, any victim, and joyfully charge into battle at the first opportunity.
Of course such daemonic cohorts make for dangerous allies, apt to turn upon any that come within their reach, but for many that serves their purposes admirably:
- Bloodletters - These Lesser Daemons are the primary rank and file of the Blood God's legions. They are ugly, horned humanoids with cloven hooves who tote blood-drinking battleaxes or swords known as Hellblades, which are forged at the foot of the Throne of Skulls; and who wear armour of daemonic brass. They enter horrific frenzies of bloody slaughter in battle.
- Herald of Khorne - All of Khorne's servants are dangerous as only daemons can be. However, infinitely more menacing than the creatures that make up the faceless ranks of the Skull Lord's army, are those he chooses to lead it. These Heralds of Khorne are emissaries of slaughter and death. They are terrible to behold in battle, and truly there are few mortals that can best their martial prowess. Only Khorne's dread Bloodthirsters are more deadly. However, Heralds are more than just a deadly opponent. They are icons of Khorne made animate, and on the field of battle their presence spurs their fellow Daemons to ever-greater acts of bloodshed.
- Flesh Hounds - Flesh Hounds are monstrous and ferocious vaguely canine creatures, notorious for their supernatural ability to track down their chosen prey. They bear enchanted collars known as Collars of Khorne that make them highly resistant to sorcerous or psychic influences.
- Juggernauts - These massive daemonic steeds are made of living metal and possess blood of liquid fire. This miniature Daemon Engine is a blend of daemon and hell-forged machine, vaguely resembling a hulking, armoured bull. According to legend, each beast begins its existence in the furnaces at the base of Khorne's Rage. They are generally gifted as mounts to favored Champions of Khorne.
- Bloodthirsters - Bloodthirsters are the Greater Daemons of Khorne. Of all the daemons, they bear the greatest resemblance to stereotypical mythological or religious demons, having a human body, cloven hooves instead of feet, leathery bat-like wings and horned dog-like or humanoid heads. They wield a whip and a massive two-headed battle axe simultaneously in battle. As the greatest manifestation of the God of War, the dreaded Bloodthirster is one of the most powerful warriors that can be found on the battlefield.
- Skulltaker - Skulltaker is an infamous daemonic servant of Khorne, and he serves as the Blood God's immortal champion. He is the strongest of all Khorne's Bloodletters. When not campaigning, Skulltaker roams the Realm of Chaos at will, atop his mighty Juggernaut, Kuhl'tyran. He appears before fortress and stronghold, bellowing challenge after challenge at the greatest warrior within until one of their number is foolish enough to meet him in single combat.
- Karanak - Karanak is the three-headed Flesh Hound that prowls Khorne’s grand throne room in the Fortress of Khorne within the Realm of Chaos. He never sleeps -- like the Blood God’s vengeance, Karanak is ever watchful. He searches every shadow for intruders and interlopers or else gnaws on bones discarded from the Skull Throne or stalks Bloodletters and Furies through the vaulted hall. As the physical manifestation of Khorne's vengeance, Karanak is Khorne’s chosen hunter, the daemon the Blood God unleashes to search out those who have transgressed his warrior creed, or have offered insult to his colossal pride. It is a choice well made, for Karanak is ruthless and implacable, able to follow the blood scent of a quarry across all of space and time in service to his vengeful master.
The Blood Legions
Of all the Chaos Gods' armies, it is the Blood Legions of Khorne that are the most martial. Though they are savage and unrestrained creatures, daemons of the Blood God occupy a strict hierarchical structure based on sheer might. Khorne's belief that the strongest of its followers should dominate has proven to be a simple but highly efficient organisational methodology.
The legions of the Blood God have carved out the largest of all domains in the Immaterium through incessant war. In the brutal press of melee on the battlefield, Khorne's forces are unmatched by those of any other god, and the strength and ferocity each of its daemons exhibits there decides where they rank in the god's armies.
Highest in order are the Bloodthirsters. Clad in baroque armour, wielding fearsome brass axes and whips, each is a demigod of war. Were they simply warriors and nothing more, Khorne's Greater Daemons would be terrifying enough.
The Blood God's foes are not so fortunate, however, for the Bloodthirsters are tasked with leading the Lord of Skull's Blood Legions on the battlefield; there they bark guttural orders to the ranks of Lesser Daemons around them, and assert their dominance and dedication to Khorne by defeating the mightiest of the enemies' combatants.
Figures of awe amongst the servants of the Blood God, they often attract an entourage of daemonic champions that follow them into glorious battle.
Each Blood Legion is divided into eight cohorts, which are individually comprised of eight packs of daemons led by a Herald of Khorne or a Daemon Prince. The exact composition of these cohorts, and the auxiliary formations and creatures that may fight alongside them, will often depend on the type of Blood Legion they belong to.
For instance, the heart of Red Tide Legions is made of Bloodletter cohorts that overrun the foe with waves of infantry attacks; such is the scale of death around them that they will often be followed by packs of carrion-feeding Furies.
In contrast, the Hellfire Legions are siege specialists that prefer to engage the foe at range, and go to war in the shadows of Skull Cannons, Soul Grinders and, in the greatest of conflicts, the massive Daemon Engines known as Lords of Skulls.
The Brazen Thunder Legions are the most mobile of Khorne's armies; the ground shakes beneath their Blood Thrones and the Bloodcrushers they lead, while Flesh Hound packs chase down any that attempt to flee.
Exactly how many types of Blood Legion exist is known only to Khorne itself. At full strength, each Blood Legion is typically formed of eight cohorts, and each cohort is composed of eight packs of daemons. These formations can vary for many reasons, although most commonly it is through the addition of auxiliaries or an influx or decrease in Warp energies upon the battlefield.
It is also not unusual amongst the minions of Khorne for a cohort to subjugate the daemon packs of another such formation, bringing them to their side by force during savage, and sometimes ritualized, infighting.
The worship of Khorne appeals primarily to warriors, soldiers, other individuals in military occupations and anyone who feels weak and powerless and wishes they had the physical power to exert their will or take what they wanted. For these individuals, Khorne provides enhanced strength, vitality and prowess in combat, particularly physical and melee combat.
However, the more an individual gives of their soul to Khorne and becomes further corrupted by its brand of Chaos, the more they are consumed by increasingly uncontrollable feelings of bloodlust, anger, and wrath that can only be sated for a few moments by taking a life.
Whilst Khornates revel in the sense of power granted them by this bloodlust and the mutational "gifts" that Khorne may provide to enhance their combat prowess, this bloodlust is increasingly uncontrollable and requires them to engage in the most heinous forms of violence to maintain even a semblance of control.
Even the momentary relief from the bloodlust that killing provides eventually fades, and long-term Khornates ultimately transform into screaming monsters of adrenaline and aggression, who will do anything to slaughter and kill other living things until their reason has long since been subverted by a mindless thirst for murder, violence and savagery.
Most Khornates eventually become berserkers of one kind or another, and favour melee weapons, particularly axes, over ranged weaponry, since blades provide a far more visceral experience in combat than firearms or directed energy weapons.
The problem with Khornate battle tactics is that they essentially have none; they rely on their sheer ferocity and melee combat prowess to keep them alive long enough to reach their foes and tear them apart -- and they usually do.
Ultimately, a Khornate's only overriding concern is to spill more blood and take more lives for the Blood God. They will quite happily sacrifice their own lives to feed their savage god's eternal appetite for slaughter, as Khorne cares little about whose lives it ultimately claims -- so long as the blood continues to flow.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 11, 14, 301-302
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Blood (RPG), pp. 4, 6-22, 24, 26, 28-29, 36, 43-46, 61-62, 64, 66, 86-89, 116-118
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 13, 15, 23, 25, 28-36, 44, 59
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 36, 48-49
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (4th Edition), pp. 8-10, 28, 32, 36, 40, 47, 50, 55
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (6th Edition), pp. 6-17
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (8th Edition), pp. 10-13, 43
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pg. 26
- Dark Heresy: Ascension (RPG), pp. 204-205
- Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter (RPG), pp. 18-19, 25, 82, 94-95, 100, 102
- Liber Chaotica, pp. 9, 32, 34, 38, 61-63, 70, 72, 74-76, 78-79, 82-86, 88-90, 92, 98-100
- Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness (1st Edition), pp. 17, 24-28, 47-49, 98, 100-101, 167, 176, 182-184, 201-205, 259
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