The Mark of Chaos refers to the physical and spiritual changes which a Chaos God might choose to bestow upon his most favoured servants. Mortal servants of the Dark Gods who attain great renown or achieve great deeds in the name of their patrons are sometimes known as Chaos Champions.
These Champions may receive special gifts and exhibit powerful abilities related to the Ruinous Powers whom they serve -- such rewards take the form of the Marks of Chaos.
A Mark of Chaos acts as a badge of glory amongst many Chaos warbands, designating a specially recognised servant of the Dark Gods, and one with a powerful destiny before them.
Chaos Space Marines and other servants of Chaos can either worship all four of the major Chaos Gods in all their glory as Chaos Undivided or dedicate their lives to just one of the Ruinous Powers. Each path offers its own rewards.
Mark of Chaos Undivided
The Mark of Chaos Undivided is a glyph given to a follower of Chaos who devotes him or herself to all four of the Dark Gods equally. While the prayers of a mortal devoted to Chaos Undivided may be answered, they are unlikely to receive the special gifts that come from worshiping just one of the Dark Gods.
A follower of Chaos Undivided may also honour the lesser daemonic entities of the Warp if they are more likely to help him. Others view Chaos Undivided as a unified whole, the various Ruinous Powers as actually an aspect of a single, unified God of Chaos.
They may give their service to one God but are likely to never gain much favour with an individual power. Finally, others seek to use Chaos as a means to achieve their own ends. This is often risky and only two outcomes ultimately exist, daemonhood as a Daemon Prince or damnation as a mindless Chaos Spawn.
Mark of Khorne
The Mark of Khorne is given to those who follow the Blood God Khorne and embrace that Chaos God's particularly bloodthirsty ways. The God of Battles takes notice of but a few warriors, and only the most skilled and brutal fighters in the galaxy attract his attention.
Those Marked by Khorne often lead great armies of blood-thirsty murderers and leave a trail of conquest and subjugation in their wake. A warrior favoured by Khorne has fought hundreds of duels, battled bizarre creatures in ritual combat, or has simply accrued an unspeakable body-count at the point of his sword or axe. The abilities granted to those marked by Khorne inevitably lead to carnage and bloodshed.
However, Khorne himself does not care about his Champions. All that matters is that blood is spilled, and from whence the blood flows is of no concern. Khornate Champions are fearless and devastating in close combat, and are often possessed of a blood-crazed berserker frenzy and disdain any form of ranged warfare. They, like their patron, hate any form of psychic power or sorcery, seeing it as a form of weakness that kills from afar rather than up close where one can feel the life ebb from one's foe. Khornate Champions are often armed with Chainaxes.
Mark of Slaanesh
The Mark of Slaanesh is a mark that drives the bearer to fulfill Slaanesh's undying thirst for pleasure and new sensations. Recipients of Slaanesh's favour are marked by the Lord of Pleasure, either as a perfectly formed physical mark upon their body or a more secretive but no less permanent mark upon one's soul. Individuals who bear this Mark must attempt to seduce those they encounter to the paths of lust and greed. The bearer is addicted to seeking out new pleasures and is often cloaked in a supernatural glamour that disturbs their adversaries.
The most common bearers of the Prince of Pleasure's mark are the Noise Marines of the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion. Bearers of the Mark of Slaanesh are fearless, for even death itself is to be savoured as a new sensation and they possess the Warp Scream ability, in which the individual emits a piercing supernatural cry powered by Warp energies that disorientates their foes.
Mark of Nurgle
The Mark of Nurgle is given to Nurgle's greatest followers and they become a living host to the powers of death, disease and decay. Heretics with the Mark of Nurgle are marked by the Plague Father, either as a physical mark corroded into their corrupted flesh or a more secretive but no less permanent mark upon their soul. The sigil constantly weeps pus like a viciously festering wound, though this causes the bearer no harm.
These individuals are compelled to constantly spread Nurgle's Rot throughout the galaxy. Units of Chaos Space Marines with the Mark of Nurgle are likely to become Plague Marines, gifted with extra bulk and resilience by the Plague Lord, making them much harder to kill. The Champions of Nurgle are horrible to look upon and are a bane to all life.
Mark of Tzeentch
The Mark of Tzeentch is given to the most devoted followers of Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, and it bestows potent psychic powers on the bearer. Heretics who bear the Mark of Tzeentch are marked by the Master of Fate, either as a physical mark emblazoned on a prominent part of their body, or a more secretive but no less permanent mark upon their soul. The emblem constantly glimmers with a distracting sparkle that flickers at the corner of the eye, almost like a gateway to the Warp.
These individuals are constantly compelled to discover hidden secrets to share with their Dark God. The greatest followers of Tzeentch are the Chaos Space Marines who serve as the Sorcerers of the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion. Each possesses the potent powers of a Chaos Sorcerer and are the greatest champions of change in the universe.
Mark of Chaos Ascendant
The Mark of Chaos Ascendant is a Mark of Chaos that is unique to Abaddon the Despoiler, the Warmaster of the Black Legion and of Chaos Undivided. The Mark of Chaos Ascendant is a symbol of the favour the Despoiler, as the successor of Horus, has earned from each of the Chaos Gods as the ultimate Champion of Chaos Undivided.
The mark gives him all the abilities and enhancements of the Marks of Khorne, Nurgle, Tzeentch, and Slaanesh. This mark is proof of the fact that the Ruinous Powers have a plan for Abaddon, and as such he is immune to death, for his soul will always be resurrected by the Dark Gods until his purpose has been fulfilled.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 82
- Only War: Enemies of the Imperium (RPG), pp. 120-121
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 30
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 9-10
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, Revised Codex)
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pg. 27
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 363
- Realms of Chaos - The Lost & The Damned (2nd Edition), pg. 46
- Realms of Chaos - Slaves To Darkness (2nd Edition), pg. 41