Chaos refers to the energy which exists in an immaterial parallel universe, or alternate reality, known as the “Realm of Chaos”. The Realm of Chaos is an endless sea of energy – energy which is the raw matter of the Chaos Gods, as well as of all magic.
The greatest individual manifestation of Chaos are the Chaos Gods, creatures of unimaginable power and resources. They are manifestations in the Realm of Chaos of collective character traits, formed from common beliefs and emotions. Unlike the raw energy of Chaos, which is mindless, unthinking and undirected by intelligent purpose, the Chaos Gods have achieved intelligence, personality and purpose.
Chaos is a seductive force. Those who embrace it find themselves increasingly corrupted by it, both spiritually and physically.
History of Chaos in the World
Chaos first entered the world eons ago. The matter which flooded into the world from the Realm of Chaos was the solidified Chaos known as warpstone. In the form of dust it rained down upon the world, warping many species into monstrous new forms, as well as leaving a far more subtle and insidious mark upon other races.
At the moment of the collapse, the polar areas of the world were engulfed by the flood of Chaos. This created the seething regions of unnatural darkness known as the Chaos Wastes, where Chaos overlaps upon the material world, creating zones of dimensional instability. These zones continue to act as uncontrollable gateways between the world and the dimension of Chaos.
The northern zone ebbs and flows, expanding as it becomes more active, and causing widespread upheaval among the creatures and forces of Chaos to the north, which are driven south towards the Old World. These times are known as Incursions of Chaos.
The worst incident in recent history was the great Incursion of Chaos 200 years ago, when the Chaos hordes burst forth from the Chaos Wastes upon Kislev.
The Pantheon of Chaos
The most powerful of the Chaos entities are those known as the Chaos Gods, also sometimes referred to as the “Dark Gods” or the “Ruinous Powers”. These entities are described as being enormously powerful, and seeking to extend that power into the realm of mortals. They do this by attracting followers amongst mortals by promising power, wealth, immortality or whatever else the potential servant desires. The gods are typically capricious, selfish and vain, demanding absolute loyalty from their servants and rewarding deeds when they wish, in whatever ways they deem appropriate.
There are many Lesser Powers, but only four Great ones:
- Khorne – god of hate, rage, and bloodshed
- Slaanesh – god of decadence, excess, pleasure and self-indulgence
- Tzeentch – god of change, manipulation, scheming, deception, and sorcery
- Nurgle – god of decay, despair, and disease
Each of the four Great Powers has its own opposite number, another Chaos God who draws its power from a diametrically opposing concept. The most dedicated worshippers have devoted their souls to the Chaos Gods in hopes of gaining power only Chaos can grant. These Champions are marked by their patron, and as they progress on their path gain mutations which increasingly reshapes them more closely to the god’s favored image.
In addition to the individual gods, some followers of the Dark Gods worship Chaos in other ways. Some followers worship the gods as a pantheon rather than following one particular god. Other followers worship Chaos as a single great entity, with the various Chaos Gods simply manifestations of that entity’s aspects. Still others may simply follow one god briefly and then switch allegiance to another, owing more to convenience than actual faith. Regardless of the nature of their worship, all of these are grouped together as Chaos Undivided; followers of Chaos Undivided may bear a mark, similar to the followers of the four great gods.
The Forces Of Chaos
Although Chaos is firmly entrenched within the heart of every nation of the Old World, working to gradually bring about the collapse of human order from within, there are also external forces which represent the more direct threats of Chaos, the kind faced on the battlefield. There are several facets of the external Chaos enemy: