"Do not ask which creature screams in the night. Do not question who waits for you in the shadow. It is my cry that wakes you in the night, and my body that crouches in the shadow. I am Tzeentch and you are the puppet that dances to my tune..."
- —The Book of Tzeentch
Tzeentch, also known as the Changer of Ways, and the Architect of Fate, is the Chaos God of change, evolution, intrigue and sorcery. Tzeentch is especially empowered by the desire for change and ambition for advancement among mortals. It is he who weaves the threads that connect every action, plot and subtle intrigue in a galaxy-wide game of manipulation and subterfuge.
At the end of each of these threads lays the ensnared soul of a human puppet; those of his mortal servants and agents who believe they serve the Lord of Sorcery in mutually beneficial pacts.
The truth is that Tzeentch's every action is planned with its ultimate goal as his own establishment as the pre-eminent Chaos power in the Warp. Of course, the very nature of the Lord of Entropy is such that, were he to attain this triumph, he would still strive for turmoil and change. In many ways, Tzeentch is both the best and least understood of the Dark Gods.
He is the god of fate, plots, and schemes, as well as the god that exemplifies the ever-changing nature of the Warp. However, Tzeentch does not plot towards some end (at least none that can be comprehended); he schemes simply to scheme. He is constantly building, even as his devices unravel under their own complexity. At the same time, he is the god of knowledge and comprehension, and his devotees may be those who seek a deeper understanding of an often enigmatic universe.
Tzeentch is known by a hundred thousand titles across the galaxy, amongst them the Weaver of Destinies, the Great Conspirator, and the Architect of Fate. In his mind, he listens to the hopes of every sentient being from every planet in the universe. He watches over the plans of his playthings as they unfold into history, toying with fate and fortune; both for his own entertainment and to further his unfathomable schemes.
Tzeentch feeds upon the need and desire for change that is an essential part of all life in the universe. All people dream of prosperity, freedom and a better tomorrow. These dreams are not just the preserve of the impoverished or the powerless -- even Imperial Planetary Governors and Imperial Navy battlefleet admirals dream of further riches, or perhaps even an end to their responsibilities to the Emperor.
All these dreams create a powerful impetus for change, and the ambitions of nations create a force that can challenge history. Tzeentch is the embodiment of that force within the Warp. He was the second of the Chaos Gods to come to full sentience within the Warp, sometime during Old Earth's Western medieval period in the 2nd Millennium. His birth marked the maturation of human nations and politics, with all of their implicit intrigues and double-dealings.
Tzeentch is not content to merely observe the fulfillment and disappointment brought by the passage of time. He has his own plans -- schemes that are so complex and closely woven that they touch the lives of every living thing, whether they realise it or not. The Chaos God's masterly comprehension of time, history and intrigue allows his ploys to intertwine seamlessly, forming a web of causality that spans the stars.
Tzeentch is aware of the visions and plans of all mortals in the galaxy. He takes great delight in the plotting and politicking of others and favours the cunning over the strong. When the inner voice in a man's head speaks, when the desperate whisper their prayers into the night, it is the Architect of Fate that listens. He perceives every event and intention, and from this information, his mighty mind can work out how each will influence the future. The intertwining latticework of probability, hope and change is Tzeentch's meat and drink -- without it he would eventually fade away.
Perhaps the Architect of Fate has plans to overthrow the other Chaos Powers, or to extend his dominion over all the mortal realms. Perhaps not even Tzeentch himself can say for sure. Whatever his ultimate goal, he seeks to achieve it by manipulating the individual lives of humans and xenos alike.
By offering the power of knowledge and sorcery, he can recruit influential Chaos warlords and magi to his cause, affecting the lives of many more at a single stroke. However, few of Tzeentch's plans are ever simple; some span aeons with their complexity, whilst many appear contradictory to others, or even against his own interests. Only Tzeentch can see the threads of potential futures weaving through time like tangled skeins of multicoloured cords; cords which themselves are made of decision, happenstance and fluke.
Tzeentch is the undisputed master of magic in the universe. Sorcery is one of the most potent agents of change, and those who use it are amongst the most ambitious and hungry for power. The raw psychic energy that empowers the psykers of the mortal realm is the actual fabric of the Realm of Chaos, the same fabric that makes up the Chaos Powers, their daemon servants and the shadow-selves of mortals that flicker in the Warp and that Mankind calls souls.
The use of psychic power, or magic as it can rightly be called, is held as the ultimate expression of faith among Tzeentch's followers, who have much to gain from his patronage. Though it will likely cost them their immortal souls, they will at least have boundless power to show for it while they live; this is in stark contrast to the poor wretched psykers of the Imperium of Man, who are corralled by the Inquisition's Black Ships and brought to Terra where many of them feed the dying Emperor's boundless hunger for psychic energy.
In Tzeentch's eyes, mortal creatures are immeasurably steeped in ambiguity, yet they somehow wage their personal wars completely unaware of the countless contradictions in their souls. Tzeentch cannot help but dabble in the mortal realm; some amongst the Inquisition believe that the Great Conspirator is responsible for the exponential increases of psychic ability in the human race in recent millennia. His own need to manipulate and control, and his desire to increase his own power in the Warp, mean Tzeentch is eternally playing the Great Game waged amongst his brother Chaos Gods.
The Architect of Fate is not above sullying his clawed hands with the bloody business of war, though he much prefers to win his battles through guile and sorcery than brute force. Consumed by his own ineffable thoughts, Tzeentch binds the galaxy in the weave of his complex schemes just as a spider binds a fly.
Though his schemes can take Terran millennia to unfold, when they come to fruition, it is usually reality itself that pays the price. While one mortal lies to another, while envy and ambition survive among humans and aliens, Tzeentch will work his magic as the puppet master of the universe, working towards the day when his final great work will be revealed.
The skin of Tzeentch crawls with constantly changing faces, leering at and mocking onlookers. As he speaks, these faces repeat his words with subtle but important differences, or provide a commentary that throws doubt upon his words. These lesser faces appear and disappear quickly, but the puckered visage of Tzeentch himself remains low down in his chest, so that head and body are one. From above Tzeentch's burning eyes spring two sweeping horns, the spiralling extremities of which crackle with arcane fire.
The firmament surrounding Tzeentch is heavy with magic; it weaves like liquid smoke about his head, forming subtle and interwoven patterns. Forms of places and people appear in the smoke as Tzeentch contemplates their fate. Those who appear there will inevitably find their minds, bodies or destinies mutating into strange new forms, for none can come to Tzeentch's attention and remain untouched.
Tzeentch exerts his influence in the mortal realm through subtle manipulation and devious ploys. The victims of his corruption are Sorcerers drawn by the promise of forbidden knowledge; scholars who seek knowledge at all costs; politicians lured by the power knowledge provides to outmanoeuvre their opponents.
Tzeentch's true power is sorcery, and as all sorcery flows from the font of the Immaterium, so too is Tzeentch the master of that twisted, chaotic medium of psychic energy. Tzeentch embodies mortals' tendency towards mutability and change, the drive to evolve and manipulate. This spirit is present in the essence of every living creature from the first division of cells in the womb to the ultimate craving for survival.
It is in the hearts of those with the strongest desire to prevail that Tzeentch whispers his insidious promise; offering a means of life eternal to those unwilling to accept death and oblivion as inevitable.
Tzeentch's sacred number is nine, his colours are typically seen as blue and gold but an ever-changing rainbow of colour is appropriate as well, given that he is the Lord of Change.
Changer of the Ways
"If Chaos is change itself, then Tzeentch, more than any other Dark Power, embodies Chaos in its purest, most primal form. Therefore, no other God of Chaos warrants more of our fearful respect, our tireless resistance, and our unflagging loyalty to the Emperor."
- — Inquisitor Gallianus Dirk at the Jellico Conclave (records declared Heretica Extremis)
The psychic entity or sentient Warp force known as Tzeentch is perhaps the most enigmatic of the so-called Chaos Gods or Ruinous Powers. Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, is the god of sorcery, knowledge, scheming, mutation, and change. He embodies mortals' desires for evolution, improvement, innovation, and progress as well as their dreams of wealth, prosperity, and a better tomorrow.
While many perceive these motivations as healthy, wholesome, and perhaps even necessary to mortal existence, Tzeentch, the Great Conspirator, works to corrupt the aspirations and ambitions of Mankind and xenos alike, and to leverage these hopes and dreams for his own nefarious ends.
The other Dark Gods tend to act upon mortal society more directly: Khorne with bloodshed and slaughter, Nurgle with disease and decay, and Slaanesh with the allure of ecstasy and decadence. However, Tzeentch and his servants -- human, xenos, and daemon -- scheme and conspire quietly and stealthily to guide and influence the machinations of mortal society.
The Changer of Ways favours subtle weapons: flattering words, enticing temptations, healthy ambitions stoked to traitorous or immoral ends, and above all, schemes within endless schemes. Many a politician, scholar, military officer, or other mortal leader has begun a promising career, altruistic project, or worthwhile intellectual investigation only to find himself, perhaps prompted by a seemingly well-intentioned colleague who secretly served the Great Conspirator, making compromises, moving up the hierarchy at the expense of others, or taking ethically questionable shortcuts.
Even with the best of intentions, or perhaps because of them, these people are vulnerable to the machinations of Tzeentch, who conspires to turn such individuals into cogs in his infernal machine, fuelled by endless schemes, lies, plots, and deceits.
Cult of Tzeentch
"I am Tzeentch and you are the puppet that dances to my tune..."
- — Excerpt from the Book of Tzeentch
Tzeentch is one of the four major Chaos Gods, and his areas of influence include sorcery, scheming, change, and knowledge. He is known by many names: the Changer of Ways, the Great Schemer, the Father of Lies and Deception, the Great Mutator, the Master of Fortune, the Great Conspirator, the Architect of Fate, the Great Eagle, the Shifting Breeze, the Master of Fate, Tchar, Shunch, Chen, and countless other titles and names from the millions of dialects spoken throughout the galaxy.
For every name by which the Master of Deceit is known, he has a thousand guises and plots. Everything related to the master of change shifts, mutates, evolves, and transmogrifies. One can go mad, and many have, trying to study even the smallest threads of the Great Schemer and to perform the impossible: to describe him and to fix him to one shape, one form, one motive, one truth. Perhaps the best way to characterise Tzeentch is not to describe him at all, as over time, he differs from himself more than he does any other being.
Tzeentch, like his endless schemes, constantly shifts, morphs, and transforms. Tzeentch is, without question, the most disturbing and least comprehensible of all the Chaos Gods to mortals. His skin crawls with constantly changing faces that leer at and mock all who look upon him. When Tzeentch deigns to speak to other beings, these faces repeat his words, often with subtle but important differences of intonation and meaning.
Plotters and schemers find themselves drawn to Tzeentch, especially those who crave psychic or sorcerous power to achieve their goals. Politicians and leaders, magisters and Chaos Cultists, all find themselves drawn along the convoluted paths of fate, using Tzeentch to achieve their dreams and aspirations, though ultimately all are led to play their part in Tzeentch's own eternal schemes.
No mortal can fully comprehend the full nature of the intricately-woven, multi-layered plots of Tzeentch and to attempt to do so can only lead to insanity. Yet in reality Tzeentch has no grand plan, no ultimate goal to fulfill.
For Tzeentch the mere act of plotting and entwining the brief fates of mortals is purpose enough. There is no end to his scheming for he desires no end to the creation of change. Tzeentch can never achieve any ultimate aim for to do so would be the end of ambition and thus the end of the Lord of Destiny.
Many are the followers of Tzeentch. Some willingly and knowingly follow the Architect of Fate. Others, deceived by the Father of Lies and his servants, believe themselves to be advancing their own agendas, while, in actuality, they blindly serve the Changer of Ways. Many rogues, Renegades, Heretics and Chaos Space Marines also serve Tzeentch. The reach of the Architect of Fate is long, stretching across the galaxy with special attention to regions such as the Eye of Terror and the Screaming Vortex where the Warp and reality become one. He is the Master of the Thousand and One Plots, each more intricate and devious than the next, and none save for Tzeentch himself can possibly imagine, let alone fathom, them all. Such is the Changer of Ways, and such is his control over the foolish efforts of all mortals
While not as numerous or as obvious as the followers of Khorne, Tzeentch nevertheless has a strong and firm hold on the hands and minds of mortals. In fact, many more mortals serve him than are aware of it, his scheming and many names often obscuring the true force behind events. Mortal worshippers of Tzeentch tend to be Sorcerers, psykers, scholars and other educated elites who desire greater knowledge and power.
Some of these worshippers become very powerful Sorcerers, but Tzeentch has a tendency to mutate his followers, and the highest levels of power are said to be difficult for his followers to reach, as they frequently find themselves mutated into the mindless beasts called Chaos Spawn before they can unlock the most potent mysteries offered by the Lord of Change.
Those who do attain great power in the service of Tzeentch, however, are extremely powerful foes, mighty Chaos Sorcerers as well as great warriors. Additionally, while Khorne detests and forbids sorcery, intrigue and subtlety in all its forms, Tzeentch has no such qualms about using and manipulating brutish might when it strikes his fancy.
As such, while Khorne has no Sorcerer or psyker followers, Tzeentch assembles armies of warriors from all walks of life; anyone who inflicts or incurs great change, in himself or his surroundings, is likely to fall under the gaze of the Lord of Change.
Sorcerers and Psykers
Those who study arcane lore, employ psychic powers, practice the art of sorcery, or otherwise tamper with the power of the Empyrean, with or without Imperial sanction, are among Tzeentch's favourite targets for temptation and eventual corruption. Imperial scholars have determined that the incidence of the psyker mutation among the human population increases with each generation.
It therefore follows that the risk Tzeentch poses to humanity has increased commensurately. As such, organisations such as the Inquisition, the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, the Adeptus Astronomica, and the Scholastia Psykana must remain forever vigilant and prosecute any trace of the influence of Chaos with extreme prejudice.
Many checks and restraints exist to prevent the influence of Warp creatures on the minds of Imperial psykers, but any security system and the individuals who maintain it are fallible, capable of errors in judgement, and themselves subject to temptations and dark influences.
Tzeentch and the Thousand Sons
"And what [of your] Imperium...It was built with the toil of heroes and giants, and now it is inhabited by frightened weaklings to whom the glories of those times are half-forgotten legends."
- — Attributed to Ahriman of the Thousand Sons
The Thousand Sons Traitor Legion serves Tzeentch exclusively. They were once the XV Legion of Space Marines founded on Terra, created in the late 30th Millennium to reclaim the stars for humanity. For some time, they fought with distinction and were nearly indistinguishable from the other Space Marine Legions. Shortly into the Great Crusade, however, the Thousand Sons began to change.
Many manifested psychic abilities; others underwent a "flesh change" and developed rapid and uncontrolled physical mutations. Mutated Battle-Brothers were placed in stasis to await an eventual cure, and the ranks of the Thousand Sons grew thin. Leaders of the Imperium became concerned and many argued that the Legion should be disbanded and removed from Imperial history.
The Great Crusade wore on and the forces of the Emperor reached the planet Prospero, where they discovered Magnus the Red, the cyclopean Primarch of the Thousand Sons. Once introduced to the XV Legion created from his genome, Magnus acted swiftly to save his progeny, almost all of whom had succumbed to the flesh change. Through some unknown and possibly arcane process gained through interaction with the entities of the Warp, Magnus stabilised the gene-seed, but by then, the numbers of the Thousand Sons were small indeed.
Under Magnus' guidance, the Thousands Sons rebuilt their Legion, recruited new Battle-Brothers from the population of Prospero, and reorganised themselves. They developed the most powerful Librarians of that era of Imperial history as well as unconventional tactics that involved sorcery and diplomatic trickery.
This ended with the Council of Nikaea and the Emperor's decree to abolish the use of sorcery and other psychic powers in the Imperium and amongst the Space Marine Legions, as well as the tragic and terrible events that led the Thousand Sons to turn their back on the Imperium forever.
At the start of the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium, the Thousand Sons' Primarch Magnus the Red tried to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery by using sorcery to reach across the vast interstellar distances between the Thousand Sons' homeworld of Prospero and Terra, but the Emperor rejected the sorcerous warning as a deception perpetrated by Chaos against his beloved son Horus.
He sent Leman Russ, the Space Wolves' Primarch, along with his Legion to bring Magnus back to Terra for trial for violation of the Council of Nikaea's proscription on the use of sorcery, but Russ' orders were maliciously modified by Horus to get the Space Wolves to attack the Thousand Sons outright instead and force them to turn to Chaos to save themselves.
Russ attacked and ultimately, the XV Legion's homeworld burned during the terrible campaign remembered as the Fall of Prospero. Some of the Thousand Sons, including Magnus the Red, managed to escape with the help of their new patron, Tzeentch, and sided with Horus against the Emperor to seek vengeance for all that had been lost on Prospero.
They became Traitor Marines and fought alongside the Warmaster Horus and his forces in the failed attempt to overthrow the Emperor and His servants. Now and forever aligned with the Changer of Ways, the Thousand Sons use their powers to pursue knowledge and glory for themselves and their patron god.
After embracing Tzeentch, the Thousand Sons continued to develop their combat doctrine of guile and trickery, and they continued to favour ranged weapons and sorcery over close combat. They changed their Legions' colours from crimson to blue and gold and added elaborate headdresses to their helmets.
The flesh change, which had been held in check by Magnus' intervention, began to take hold once again due to their exposure to the power of the Warp within the Eye of Terror where they had taken refuge on the Daemon World known as the Planet of the Sorcerers, and many of the Thousand Sons experienced radical mutations. The machinations of Ahriman, the Chief Librarian of the Thousand Sons and Magnus' second-in-command, led to the horrific spell known as the Rubric of Ahriman, which permanently solved the issue.
Ahriman's horrifying Rubric did prevent further mutations in those of his brethren adept at sorcery, but forever changed his other, non-psychic brothers into dust, their souls forever encased in their ensorcelled suits of Power Armour, transforming them into undead Rubric Marines.
The Thousand Sons who did possess psychic powers found these abilities greatly enhanced and now lead their phantom Battle-Brothers into war against the Imperium of Man and the Corpse Emperor they believe betrayed them so long ago.
Upon learning of the failure of the Rubric, Magnus banished Ahriman. This was the first of many schisms that split the Thousand Sons, divisions that eventually caused estrangement from their own Primarch. As a result of internal strife, the Thousand Sons effectively no longer function as a true Legion. Instead, they fight as isolated warbands and individual warriors. Some serve Tzeentch devoutly, others begrudgingly, and others as mindless conduits for the devastating sorcerous power of the Warp.
While the other Dark Gods adopt fixed forms much of the time, Tzeentch manifests in a multitude of guises. Nonetheless, over the aeons, certain traits have emerged in his appearance, his associated iconography, the material presence of his daemonic followers, and the nightmares his visage implants in the minds of those who witness him.
Such descriptions often reveal Tzeentch as a thin, lanky Sorcerer, either male or female, in robes that continually change colour. Tzeentch's head hangs low, beneath his shoulders, and his arms are long and spindly. Some descriptions posit that Tzeentch's skin is covered in faces and mouths that whisper secrets dark and terrible, or comment upon and subvert the words uttered by the entity's primary or natural mouth.
The faces and mouths that cover the daemonic form shift, slide, emerge, and are subsumed back into the unnatural flesh. Some of the Ordo Malleus' daemonhunters, however, realise that these perceived consistencies, like so many things associated with the Great Deceiver, may constitute a ruse of one kind or another. After all, consistency is often part and parcel of the most convincing lies and confidence schemes.
Although many have described Tzeentch in this way, others have portrayed the Dark God as coloured smoke, crackling energy of an unknown type that burns or mutates the objects it touches, faces in mist, a writhing mass of fleshy protoplasm, and burning runes that hang in space and sear the very air -- sometimes all within the same observation.
Others show malformed birds, fish, or perverse hybridised versions of the two that swim through the air and fly through the sea. Indeed, birds and fish figure heavily in descriptions of Tzeentch, in his iconography, and in the shapes taken by many of his daemonic and mutated mortal followers.
For instance, Tzeentch's most powerful followers, his Greater Daemons the Lords of Change, resemble giant humanoid birds; his Screamers and the Discs that carry his Champions to battle often appear as flying aquatic manta rays, tirelessly hunting through both the Great Ocean of the Empyrean and the air of realspace like the legendary carcharodons of primordial Terra.
Other commentators have suggested that Tzeentch, the Great Mutator, has no fixed shape at all. Tzeentch's tangible form, when he chooses to manifest physically, is a mass of constantly shifting flesh. Thus, the constantly fluctuating material body of the Changer of Ways resembles many of his creations, such as his daemons and his realm itself, which similarly have no stable form.
Still others have posited that Tzeentch's physical forms are simply images that mortal minds create to try to perceive and understand something far more abstract, an agent of pure change, mutation, and flux. Such a form is more akin to metaphor than reality, and perhaps suits this Ruinous Power to a greater degree than eyes of flesh or metal could possibly capture.
If some truth lies in this line of reasoning, then perhaps mortal minds have come to associate Tzeentch with birds and fish, creatures of air and water, respectively, because both of these animals inhabit fluid environments. Wind, tide, waves, temperature, turbidity, and bodies in motion constantly reshape the air and water in which these organisms live, making them fitting symbols for the Changer of Ways.
As with much concerning the Great Changer, however, in the end all is conjecture and supposition, for attempting to know the true form of the Master of Mutation is to embrace madness.
As any description of Tzeentch will be inaccurate and prone to the manipulations of the Great Deceiver, it follows that the most accurate descriptions of the Changer of Ways will acknowledge their inherent imprecision. Any attempt to fix this Dark Power in words, images, or ideas, no matter for what purpose, scholarly, tactical, self-serving, or unholy, will fail.
Even if mortal minds could possibly perceive, comprehend, and communicate the true nature of Tzeentch at one moment, that nature would change the next, rendering the previous understanding obsolete.
As such, whether one's goal is to remain loyal to the Emperor of Mankind, to serve the purpose of a xenos race, or to explore the ways of Chaos for purposes scholarly or dark, one may best be served by considering the Architect of Fate only at the periphery of one's mind's eye, for even those who knowingly sail upon the Shifting Breeze of Tzeentch can never see the true face of the Chaos God who wears a Thousand Masks.
Sacred Number 9
An excerpt from the works of the Chaos Sorcerer Ahriman explains much about the significance of Tzeentch's sacred number. Ahriman writes, "Nine is the number most sacred to the Changer of Ways. It is only upon tracing the ninth sigil that the runes of a change-scroll begin to glow, morphing into their true nature.
"There are nine distinct rites an acolyte must master before he can unlock the secrets that will permit him to pierce the veil, a process that will allow a worthy aspirant to draw upon the boundless energies of the Immaterium. To remain unbroken, a summoning symbol must contain nine sequential rings -- each perfectly executed in a nine-fold process. Nine are the chants of the Kairic cultists, and for casting, a coven of nine is by far the most powerful of groupings.
"Yet it is not the mortal rites alone that obey the Great Sorcerer's enneadic rules. The number nine can be found woven throughout the unfathomable and ever-changing structures of the Architect of Fate's own realm within the Warp. The Lords of Change, the greatest servants of Tzeentch and commanders of his convocations, are ordered within nine levels of trust.
"All seek their master's favour, and those in ascendancy rule the nine fractal fortresses. Beneath each of those most exalted are nine hundred and ninety-nine legions, each divided into nine hosts. It is said that when daemons are slain, their immortal spirit appears within the Impossible Fortress, arriving before their maker from one of the ever-shifting nine gates -- there to be either reformed or reabsorbed by the will of Tzeentch."
Typically, the Changer of Ways stands in opposition to Nurgle, the Lord of Pestilence, just as Khorne, the god of blood and skulls, opposes Slaanesh, the prince of decadence and depravity. Where Nurgle represents Chaos as entropy, Tzeentch represents Chaos as energy. Where Nurgle promotes decay and atrophy, Tzeentch promotes potential and progress. Where Nurgle fosters deterioration and ruin, Tzeentch fosters germination and development.
To many students of the Ruinous Powers, the (however speculative) ideological descriptions of the Changer of Ways make better sense when juxtaposed against those of Nurgle, Tzeentch's seeming antithesis amongst the Dark Gods. On innumerable occasions Tzeentch's intricate plots have been foiled by Nurgle's malign influence, and the two Chaos Gods' daemonic and mortal servants clash as often with each other as with their mutual enemies in the Imperium.
Despite Tzeentch's rivalry with Grandfather Nurgle, he is nonetheless the Chaos God with the most influence over the other Ruinous Powers. At times, the Chaos Gods must unite and act in concert if their individual plans are to reach fruition, and it is always Tzeentch who brokers these rare alliances of Chaos Undivided.
However, Tzeentch never acts out of altruism, and it can be guaranteed that every time he moves to unite the powers of Chaos he does so ultimately with his own unfathomable goals in mind.
The Crystal Labyrinth
"Created from the raw energy of the Warp, Tzeentch's Realm is one of constant flux and shifting structures hewn spontaneously from every material imaginable. There, the only constant is change. No mortal and few daemons can visit the realm of the Raven God and survive with sanity intact."
Just as Tzeentch manifests and appears in many different guises, many of them fluid and shifting, so too, the domain of the Changer of Ways within the Realm of Chaos constantly adapts to its master's whims, desires, moods, and, of course, the demands of his Thousand and One Plots. Observers human, xenos, and daemon perceive and interpret this territory in a wide variety of ways.
In fact, some scholars and a few of the more coherent first-hand witnesses who have survived contact with Tzeentch's realm have suggested that neither mortal nor daemon, save perhaps the most powerful Lords of Change, can grasp the true nature of Tzeentch's shifting realm. Most who visit the domain of the Great Mutator quickly go mad; those of exceptionally strong mind and strong will can perhaps interpret but one facet of the often crystalline landscape that, like Tzeentch himself, has an infinite number of faces.
Many commentators suggest that the mortal mind can only perceive this world of Warp energy wrought into something resembling solid form through symbols or metaphors, images created by the mind of the iron-willed in an attempt to make sense of pure Chaos and constant change. In fact, many commentators rely on paradoxical metaphors even to describe the process of perceiving Tzeentch's realm itself: sculpting with fog, describing a dream as it occurs, singing silently, painting with mist, and the like. The Great Ocean of the Warp is a sea of madness and insanity, and Tzeentch's realm is the concentrated essence of such things given form.
In spite of the constantly changing nature of the domain of the Architect of Fate and the limited capacity of the mortal mind to perceive and comprehend it, certain common views have emerged from the extant descriptions of Tzeentch's realm. Some observers claim that an enormous crystalline labyrinth dominates the landscape, a luminescent plane shimmering like a polished, mottled opal. Passages in this maze appear, dissolve, merge, split, and change direction seemingly at random.
Only the Lords of Change, Tzeentch's most powerful servants, and those with the trenchant insights of the irrevocably mad can hope to understand the design of Tzeentch's deranged maze and to navigate its corridors. No daemons are needed to act as sentinels in Tzeentch's realm; the labyrinth itself provides sufficient protection against anyone rash and foolhardy enough to attempt an assault on the Great Schemer.
Those who gaze into the crystalline substance that composes this maze may see more than light reflected and refracted in the fluctuating facets of the shining surfaces. They may catch glimpses of fears, miseries, and hopes made visually manifest; dreams and nightmares; histories real and imagined; potential futures; images of torment, ecstasy, and despair; and abstract thoughts made momentarily concrete as pictures in the crystals.
One visionary reported seeing various images of his children at different points in their lives, all of them moments of despair, sorrow, and desperation. Another recounted her experiences in Tzeentch's realm as one of exultation and ecstasy as she witnessed reflected representations of what she took to be her possible futures, each more joyful and successful than the last.
Yet another claimed to observe nightmare imagery in the mirrored surface of the labyrinth: daemons rending flesh from friends and loved ones, the destruction of his home by dark Sorcerers wielding Warpfire, and worst of all, the transformation of his own body into a tentacled, writhing mass. When this last traveller was finally able to tear his gaze away from the hellish visions, he discovered that days had passed and that his body had indeed changed into the hideous Chaos Spawn he had seen in his vision.
Imperial records show that all three of these individuals met with tragic ends: suicide, insanity, and execution at the hands of the Inquisition, respectively. In one sense, these survivors of Tzeentch's realm were fortunate, as it is rumoured that most who travel through the maze of the Raven God wander it eternally as miserable, insane shells of their former selves, forever tormented by ghastly visions, regrets over their mistakes and missed opportunities, and the hopes for a tomorrow that they will never realise.
While the passage of time in the Warp fluctuates and does not correspond to its regular, linear flow in the normal four-dimensional space-time of the Materium, the inconsistency of time's progression is even more pronounced in Tzeentch's realm.
As the anecdote above suggests, in what seems like a few solar minutes spent gazing into the depths of the crystals of Tzeentch's labyrinthine realm, days or even standard years can pass. Two individuals might enter Tzeentch's realm in the same instant in time; one might exit moments later and report that years had passed, whereas the other could spend centuries of real time in Tzeentch's realm but swear that he had been gone only minutes.
In addition, other peculiarities in individuals' subjective perceptions of time occur within Tzeentch's realm itself. A single footstep may seem to take hours to complete. What seems like a few seconds spent admiring the beautiful refraction of light on the crystalline structure of the maze can take days.
Many visitors "momentarily" transfixed by some curiosity in Tzeentch's realm have died of dehydration or starvation. Others can spend years wandering the insane corridors of Tzeentch's maze without drinking, eating, or resting -- their metabolism apparently slowed by Chaos influences.
Legends tell of an entity known as "The Guardian of the Maze" that inhabits the Crystalline Labyrinth. Though his name implies that he serves as the protector of Tzeentch's realm, he is said to function more as a gatekeeper and observer. Rumours tell of a path through Tzeentch's realm that, in theory, anyone, mortal or daemon, may follow to discover infinite knowledge.
To follow this path, the inquisitive pilgrim must travel through nine gates. These portals, three times the height of a man, appear as golden arches wreathed in the blue and pink Warpfire of Tzeentch. Such is the power of the Guardian of the Maze, or perhaps it is the bizarre temporal nature of Tzeentch's twisting realm itself, that the Guardian manifests as a giant disembodied mouth hovering above all nine gates simultaneously.
At each gate, the mouth ponderously speaks, asking those seekers of knowledge one of the nine hundred and ninety-nine Riddles of Tzaratxoth. Those who answer the riddles correctly may pass through the gates and continue along the path to ultimate enlightenment. Those who fail to answer correctly are doomed to wander the labyrinth for all eternity wracked with insanity and regret over the infinite knowledge that might have been theirs.
Legend tells of one being -- the only one in all history, who answered all nine of the questions correctly. Strangely, many versions of the story posit that this individual appeared in the guise of a young girl who was accompanied by a small black dog. Factions within the Ordo Malleus wage vicious scholarly battles over the hidden significance of this tale, or if the tale actually happened, or was yet another metaphorical wisp of smoke from the Master of Lies.
The Impossible Fortress
Tzeentch's sanctum sanctorum, the Impossible Fortress, is said to lie at the centre of the crystalline maze, if indeed geographical descriptors such as "centre" apply with any accuracy to this inconstant realm. Some consider this as more akin to a central belief or conceit that might drive a series of thoughts than an actual location, as nothing of this area has physicality as mortals would comprehend it.
While this ætheric edifice is in constant flux, many have described it as a crystalline castle composed of the same sort of material as the labyrinth that surrounds it. Imbalanced spires spontaneously emerge from the ever-shifting foundation of the Impossible Fortress, as do towers of blue and pink flame and searing Warpfire.
Gates, doors, and portals slowly open, as if yawning with the ennui of ages, only to slam shut like mouths of terrible beasts and then disappear. Mortals shackled by the psychological manacles forged by a lifetime of habit and enculturation in the material realm cannot fathom the perverse design of Tzeentch's home.
Indeed, as the name of this fastness implies, even the most visionary and heretical designers of the material realm could not draft plans for the maddening architecture of the Impossible Fortress. Few daemons, save the most powerful Lords of Change, can navigate its corridors, but as these creations are intelligent distillations of the madness that makes up Tzeentch's realm, they thrive all the same.
Deep inside the Impossible Fortress, according to some profane accounts, lies Tzeentch's fabled Hidden Library. This infinite collection of tomes, scrolls, and parchments of every kind contains every scrap of knowledge and thought ever recorded in Creation; stories written and unwritten; histories true and alternate; and accounts of futures potential, actual, and imagined.
Many of the volumes are so weighty with knowledge that they gain a sentience of a kind and spend centuries chattering to passersby, arguing with one another, rewriting themselves, and then reorganising their placement accordingly. Magical chains of Warpflame help to protect the books and bind them in place.
Horrors serve as grotesque librarians and work tirelessly to re-shelve the works, catalogue the collection, and maintain what passes for order in the Impossible Fortress, though as the concept itself is anathema to the Great Mutator, no mortal could possibly fathom such a design.
As with so many things associated with the Changer of Ways, few things are always as they seem. Although the Crystal Maze, the Impossible Fortress, and the Hidden Library often appear (or at least are often perceived) as delineated above, by no means are these descriptions consistent with every narrative provided by those unfortunate souls who have visited Tzeentch's domain.
Bock Sammaelle, dubbed the "Lunatic Scrivener of Hamclov Prime" by the hive city princes who acted as his patrons, claimed to have travelled to and returned from Tzeentch's realm in the early 41st Millennium. Sammaelle attested that he saw nothing but a bleak hill on which a single, leafless tree stood.
Daylasse Dial, the Heretic illuminator of Phalan 10 who was later executed for heresy, described Tzeentch's realm as a barren, desert landscape populated by deformed, headless humanoids that continually split and reformed into new bodies.
Other witnesses have described a realm of pulsating and constantly morphing protoplasm, towers of fungus and mould, continents of sentient vegetation and vines without finite length, and vast landscapes of nothing but barren stone and ash. It is likely that Tzeentch's realm is all of these things and many more.
Others have suggested that observers interpret Tzeentch's realm subjectively, filtering their perception of structured Warp energy through their own expectations and experiences. It may be most probable that Tzeentch himself determines how each mortal or daemonic individual perceives his realm to suit the needs, whims, and conspiracies of the Master of Lies.
Like all the Dark Gods, Tzeentch has a vast number of minions of a variety of types at his command, ranging from the daemons created as condensations of his will to the mortals who serve his whim, whether they know it or not. All are mere puppets to be manipulated by the Architect of Fate, and few, if any, even consider the nature of the strings controlling their actions.
Tzeentch's daemons vary greatly from one type to another in terms of their appearance, their morphology, their level of intellect and autonomy, and their function in their master's schemes. Arguably, there is greater diversity in the creatures of Tzeentch than in the Warp creatures of the other Ruinous Powers. However, the daemons of Tzeentch do have certain features in common.
For one, daemons are creatures of the Sea of Souls that can normally only exist for short periods of time in realspace under certain strict conditions, as the material realm is not their natural element. Some initiating incident usually occurs for the daemons to broach the barrier between the soft, shifting realms of the Immaterium and realspace.
They may be summoned into the material plane by a Sorcerer or Chaos Cultist conducting an ancient, forbidden ritual, or perhaps when a psyker loses control, enabling the daemon to tear his way into reality, or some calamitous sorcerous or psychic event occurs to weaken the barrier.
In spite of the instability of their presence in the Materium, daemons can be remarkably resilient to most forms of physical damage; poisons and disease do no harm to these creatures of the Warp though many Force Weapons, holy relics, and psychic attacks can harm them with comparative ease due to their psychic component and resonance within the Empyrean. The daemons of Tzeentch include:
- The Blue Scribes of Tzeentch - The Blue Scribes are two Blue Horrors, named P'tarix and Xirat'p, who have been tasked by Tzeentch to learn every spell in existence, for in each spell lies a lost fragment of Tzeentch that he wishes to reclaim to ensure his ultimate dominance in the Great Game with the other Chaos Gods as well as dominion over all of Creation. The Scribes ride their Disc of Tzeentch through the realms of mortal and daemon, binding the lost fragments of their God in parchment and ink. Tzeentch bestowed the extra intelligence of the Scribes with safeguards against betrayal; P'tarix can transcribe the syllables of magic spells into profane Chaos runes and glyphs, but cannot read his own writings. Xirat'p can read his brother's scrawls, but cannot understand them. Because of this, Xirat'p is able to cast spells by reading from P'tarix's writings, but cannot predict which spell he is going to cast; thus, the Blue Scribes create havoc in combat as they unleash a barrage of random psychic effects on any who threaten them.
- Burning Chariot of Tzeentch - Burning Chariots of Tzeentch are daemonic constructs in the service of Tzeentch. Consisting of ornate Discs of Tzeentch pulled by Screamers, a Burning Chariot blazes through the heavens of the mortal world and is often mistaken for a comet by mortal observers, a sight that is interpreted as in ancient times as an omen of terrible days to come.
- The Changeling - The Changeling is a daemon that personifies the part of Tzeentch's psyche that is the meddler, the deceiver, the trickster. He can take the form of other beings, from the tiniest of insects to the most massive of Greater Daemons. None, save perhaps Tzeentch himself, know the Changeling's true form, for he goes cowled and cloaked when in his own shape -- perhaps even the Changeling himself has forgotten it. Not only can the Changeling mirror the form of another, he can adopt mannerisms and personalities in so flawless a fashion that even the Dark Gods can be deceived. In all of Creation there is only one entity that the Changeling cannot duplicate: the Great God Tzeentch himself. The Grand Schemer will not suffer any being to steal his identity, even for a moment.
- Herald of Tzeentch - Less powerful than the Lords of Change and Daemon Princes but ranked above Lesser Daemons like Screamers and Horrors, Tzeentch's Daemonic Heralds are the field officers that lead his troops to battle. Some Heralds are indistinguishable from the lesser creatures they command, and some of the Ordo Malleus feel that many are nothing more than especially powerful Horrors. Most tend to be lanky, multi-limbed creatures whose physical form is in constant flux. Most can manipulate Warp energy and cast spells. When Tzeentch's daemonic hosts march to war, his Heralds often function as squad leaders and organise the fiery, morphing mass of his daemons into a devastating onslaught.
- Disc of Tzeentch - Discs of Tzeentch are disc-like melds of psychic energy, metallic construct, and Lesser Daemon, and are often used as transports for mortal Champions of Tzeentch. They are capable of lashing out upon nearby foes with short-ranged lightning blasts or magically manifesting powerful tentacles for attacking. They are known as Changebringers if they are ridden by a Flamer.
- Flamer of Tzeentch - Flamers of Tzeentch are slightly more powerful Lesser Daemons, with numerous gaping maws that produce the searing flames which give these daemons their unsubtle name. They frequently fight alongside Horrors; like Horrors, they are able to unleash magical blasts of energy upon their foes.
- Horror - Horrors are the most prolific Lesser Daemon of Tzeentch, an ever-shifting mass of flesh, limbs, and flame-spewing orifices. Horrors are capable of unleashing potent psychic powers upon their foes.
- Lord of Change - Lords of Change are the most powerful Greater Daemons of Tzeentch, typically taking the form of a large, bird-like winged daemon of vast intellect and potent sorcerous power. They are described as winged bipedal creatures with snake-like necks and avian heads. The creatures' bodies, especially their wings, are usually multi-colored and they are capable of shooting powerful blasts of Warp lightning and Chaos fire. However, the true danger of the Lords of Change is not their potent combat abilities, but the endless schemes they weave to entrap, manipulate and corrupt mortals of every intelligent race and culture.
- Screamer - Screamers are manta ray-like daemonic beasts that swoop down on foes and cut them apart with their sharp tusks, but prefer to emit an unholy scream that damages and terrifies most mortals.
The Scintillating Legions
The air fills with kaleidoscopic bursts of magical energy as the convocations of the Great Conspirator materialise for battle. To mortal eyes, the different daemonic legions of Tzeentch are impossible to distinguish, each one as bizarre as the next, yet there is method within the madness -- although none save the Architect of Fate himself could truly comprehend it.
While Tzeentch prefers to further his ends through sorcery or schemes, there will often be no better alternative than force to achieve his goals. Thus are Tzeentch's daemon legions deployed, armies unlike anything seen in realspace. These convocations go to war in a capering, bounding, spell-wielding carnival of violence, obliterating foes with hellfire and change-magics. Unlike the militant cohorts of Khorne or the cyclical forces that serve Nurgle, Tzeentch's legions are often in flux, shifting composition or altering tactics to better serve their master.
Each Scintillating Legion is commanded by one of Tzeentch's Greater Daemons, a Lord of Change, each utterly dedicated to his master's cause. A Lord of Change is granted great independence to operate, and with the help of their advisers and champions, they will command a legion suited to their own proclivities. Those that love to bask in the glow of destruction might head a Conflagration Legion -- a force centred around formations of Flamers, capable of wielding the most powerful of Warp-flames. Others favour the Legions Anarchus, which are far less predictable in composition and specialise in sudden and wholly unexpected incursions. Those Greater Daemons who are masters of duplicity will lead one of the Veiled Legions; the most mysterious of Tzeentch's forces, these surface rarely and are almost never brought to battle, and slip off unseen after their plan's culmination.
Each of Tzeentch's daemonic legions is divided into nine hosts, and these are directed in battle by Daemon Princes and Heralds such as Changecasters, Fluxmasters and Fateskimmers. The leaders of the hosts compete to attract more praise from the Lord of Change that commands them, and even between the legions, there is no end to the machinations as rival Lords of Change plot against one another and sabotage each other's plans. It is another game within the Great Game, and one beloved most by the Great Schemer himself, who frequently weighs the tributes paid to him and proclaims his judgement. Thus do the sigils of each daemon legion dance across the Pyramid of Yrch deep in the Crystal Labyrinth, blazing into a new order of countenance. It is a hierarchy that moves often, but the nine most favoured daemonic legions are each granted control of one of the Fractal Fortresses that tower over the Crystal Labyrinth, an honour all Tzeentch's servants desire to attain.
Principal Lieutenants of Tzeentch
Like the other Chaos Gods, the Changer of Ways can rely upon many powerful daemons to lead his hosts into battle or advance his schemes in the material realm. Some of the greatest are listed beneath :
- Magnus the Red, the Crimson King, the Red Cyclops, Primarch of the Thousand Sons Legion
- Ghargatuloth, the Prince of a Thousand Faces
- Bokor the Wildsman
- Maleficos of the Burning Hands
- Master Darkeye
- Themiscyron the Star-Dragon
Tzeentch is the Changer of Ways, the Chaos God of sorcery and intrigue who perhaps most directly embodies the heart of what Chaos itself represents as a universal force. Fewer individuals and Chaos Cults fall to the temptations offered by Tzeentch than to the other Ruinous Powers, as the benefits the Lord of Sorcery offers are less tangible and immediate than the sensory pleasures of Slaanesh, the diseased immortality of Nurgle or the bloodthirsty strength of Khorne.
Instead, the worship of Tzeentch appeals most to those who value knowledge, especially secret, forbidden knowledge and the power that it brings. Of course, the individuals most likely to be tempted into the service of Tzeentch are psykers, who already possess the secret and feared ability to tap the limitless power of the Warp to reshape reality.
Tzeentch offers psykers the knowledge required to achieve unlimited heights of psychic ability through the practice of the powerful arcane psychic techniques known to the Imperium of Man as "sorcery" that can only be learned from interaction with the dark powers of the Immaterium.
For many, the forbidden knowledge Tzeentch offers is just too tempting to pass up and before they know it, they have been ensnared within the Grand Schemer's tangled webs and find themselves as just another unwitting pawn in his Chaos plots.
No less a personage than the Primarch Magnus the Red found it impossible to steer clear of Tzeentch's temptations as his overwhelming desire to protect his Thousand Sons Legion's precious knowledge of the Warp and sorcery ultimately led him into the embrace of the Changer of Ways.
Even non-psykers can find themselves pawns in Tzeentch's endless games of intrigue when they discover that if they make use of the heretical knowledge offered by the Chaos God, just this once, they can perhaps better their station in life or that of their loved ones.
Imperial nobles and politicians are often drawn into Tzeentch's web through the edge over their rivals he offers in the form of knowledge and the power it can provide.
Yet the lower classes also provide fertile ground for the Lord of Sorcery. In a society that is as difficult and repressive as that of the Imperium, it can be all too easy to give in to the blandishments of a charismatic heretical preacher who promises salvation and prosperity if one will just agree to follow a particular path towards "enlightenment."
It is in just this way that countless Tzeentchian Cults are begun across the galaxy. Many normally pious and good-hearted subjects of the Emperor, tired of the mindless, back-breaking labour and elite disdain that dominates life on so many Imperial worlds, are easily swayed to join various "mystery cults." These cults slowly draw these folk ever tighter into a web of Tzeentchian corruption until, too late, they discover they have become the corrupt servants of Chaos.
While Tzeentchian corruption is the least common form of Chaos perversion found across the Imperium, it is also the most feared by the Inquisition, for its adherents are the most powerful of Chaos servants and the best at concealing both themselves and their complex schemes from the light of the Emperor.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 18-19, 218-220, 302-304
- Black Crusade: Tome of Fate (RPG)
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (8th Edition), pp. 14-17
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (6th Edition), pp. 12-13, 37-45, 61-65, 68-69, 73, 77, 82, 91-92, 95, 97, 99-100, 102
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (4th Edition), pp. 11-12, 31, 35, 39, 43, 49, 53, 59, 65, 74, 76, 78-82, 85-86
- 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: Eldar (4th Edition)
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition)
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 86-88
- Index Astartes III, "Masters of Forbidden Knowledge - The Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion", pp. 62-69
- Liber Chaotica
- Liber Chaotica: Tzeentch
- Realms of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned, pp. 176, 267-268, 277
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pp. 78-80
- White Dwarf 306 (US), "Chapter Approved", pp. 74-81
- White Dwarf 267 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Masters of Forbidden Knowledge, The Thousand Sons Space Marine Legion"
- White Dwarf 230 (US), "Bitter and Twisted: Ahriman" and "Chapter Approved: Thousand Sons Terminators", pp. 39-43, 71-79
- Battle of the Fang (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- Blood Ravens: The Dawn of War (Omnibus)
- Grey Knights (Novel) by Ben Counter
- Space Wolves Novel Series:
- Space Wolf (Novel) by William King
- Grey Hunter (Novel) by William King
- Sons of Fenris (Novel) by Lee Lightner
- Wolf's Honour (Novel) by Lee Lightner
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Age of Darkness (Anthology), "Rebirth" by Chris Wraight
- The Outcast Dead (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Ahriman: Exile (Novel) by John French
|Khorne • Nurgle • Slaanesh • Tzeentch|