“Daemons are the denizens of the Realm of Chaos. Created by the Dark Gods, they are sent forth to aid their mortal Champions in their campaigns to conquer the lands of civilised men. Some are mindless beings of pure animosity, whilst others are cunning and carefully plot the downfall of those they claim to serve. Daemons can be summoned, bound, compelled, and killed. They are beings of magic given form from our nightmares and fears. They exist only to bring about the end of all there is.” – Viktor Wechsler, Knight of the White Wolf.
Daemons are the stuff of nightmares given form. Serving their dark masters, they spill into the mortal plane to cause chaos, to murder gleefully and to spread their master’s influence. No daemon is the same, for there is countless varieties that exist, with insurmountable differences that may not always be obvious to the untrained eye.
All daemons serve a master. Be it one of the four major dark gods, or any of the many nameless ones that haunt the realm of chaos; a daemon with no master has no power, has no purpose and merely drifts aimlessly into the void. For all daemons are an aspect of their dark master. They are children of chaos, born by their master’s will.
Most Daemons are akin to malicious children, for the Old World is nothing but a canvass to them to paint their madness upon it.
The Great Divide
Daemons can breach the divide that exists between the mortal plane and the realm of chaos. Such attempts do not come easy, yet the twisted vile horrors scheme and claw eternally at the divide to enter the Old World, and from time to time, they succeed.
Some may even be aided in their attempts to enter the mortal plane. Dark summoners or even wizards with good intentions may cause a daemon to breach the divide.
All magic can trace its source back to the realm of chaos, flowing through the chaos warp gates, leaking into the mortal plane. As such, whenever there is a strong build-up of magic, whenever the divide that keeps the madness contained weakens, nightmares become a reality.
It is for this reason that magic, particularly powerful spells, must be treated as a double-edged sword; there is always a risk to the caster, yet the greatest danger is not always obvious, and many Magisters who devote their life to magic can often get lost in the moment, forgetful that their actions may endanger their very existence and create a breach for the nightmares that wait beyond.
Daemons who are unable to enter the mortal plane, perhaps lacking the strength or cunning to do so, may find possession to be another route. Perhaps the most common method, possession is a cruel form of torture for the mortal soul; to become the plaything of a twisted vile abomination, imprisoned in your own body and helpless to act. While the daemon has not physically manifested into the mortal plane, their presence can still be felt, their dark influence can snatch onto a soul, binding them together.
Such targets are often weak-willed, lacking the mental capacity to defend themselves. Daemons tend to favor the strong-willed however, for they represent the greatest challenge, and often presents a opportunity for greater mischief.
“They are wickedness made flesh, cruel licentiousness given form. Truth will not save you, for truth has no hold over such aberrations. Courage cannot save you, for they sup your courage as readily as your fear. Faith is the only defence you can trust.“
Types of Daemons
There are generally three types of ranks amongst the daemons:
- Beasts: These are nothing but lowly fiends that exist only to serve the wishes and needs of mortal servants. Often acting as mounts for Chaos Champions, beasts of burden or daemonic hounds. The Chaos Wastes is said to host a vast amount of these daemons, often roaming at their leisure, killing anything that gets in their way.
- Lesser: Known as Lesser Daemons, these denizens have the greatest capacity for thought, reason and cunning. They plot and plan in their ongoing effort to undo mankind’s morality. Either serving their master’s dark wishes or their own insatiable desire for mischief and chaos (which still ends up serving their master’s desires) these are the most likely to be encountered by mortals.
- Greater: Harbingers of doom, the Greater Daemons are the most powerful servants of the Dark Gods. They are among the mightiest creatures of the entire world, and when they appear, they scorch the very land for miles around with their corruption. Greater Daemons exemplify the qualities of their dark masters, most closely resembling those traits mortals expect to find in the Dark Gods. Their powers are beyond all others in the Old World, and are more than capable of slaughtering armies on their own. It is thankful then that such a nightmare has little chance of penetrating the divide and entering the mortal plane. Their power is so great, that their appearance could herald for an end of all things to come; as such, they do not arrive on the mortal plane without great difficulty, and without a purpose in mind.
Outside of this structure, there are Daemon Princes and Daemonic Champions. Unique individuals who have earned the favour of a dark god, and granted immortality. They are incredibly dangerous, for they possess intelligence that often times the other daemons lack.
Names hold power in the Old World. Some say that everything in existence has a true name, and to know it grants mastery over the object. Nowhere is this truer than with daemons. To know a daemon’s true name gives that individual a decided advantage in dealings with such creatures, aiding in controlling it. Because these names are so potent, daemons go to great lengths to protect their identities, including using aliases and titles called Use-Names.
Use-Names are typically nonsense names, collections of evocative words the daemon finds entertaining or suitable. Most have several, and often at a whim, may switch from one to another. Examples include Red Flayer, Blooodspoor, Frothmaggot the Fury, Scuttle Bottom, etc. They usually reflect the nature of the daemon. Heaven forbid what a Scuttle Bottom might look like.
True names are nothing like Use-Names. They are alien, unpronounceable. Giving even the most schooled scholars int he occult fits and starts as they try to work around the jumbles of letters. But often the research and strugle is worth it, for these names offer a mortal leverage when dealing with the Daemon. Daemons do their best to keep their True Names hidden. They never reveal their names unless faced with utter annihilation, though almost all are willing to cough up the name of a weaker and less significant daemon in exchange for freedom. Other avenues for finding true names include grimoires, forbidden tomes. Daemons have lived for an eternity; their exploits upon the mortal plane may have been accounted for by those who dabble in the occult or who have made unfortunate acquaintances to such things. As such, their secrets may lie waiting to be discovered.
Varieties of Nightmares
As mentioned previously, daemons come in all sizes and of different shapes. Kurt Hellborg for example, once defeated a spider-like daemon when confronted with Count Valmir von Raukov‘s cult.
While there is no fast rule for determining what a daemon may look like, there are specific daemons that are more common and are often the ‘bread and butter’ of that dark god’s army.
Pink Horrors, Plaguebearers, Chaos Furies, Daemonettes and Bloodletters are just some of the examples provided.
All daemons regardless of their shape or size, will often bear traits resembling their dark god. A daemon of nurgle will often be diseased, spewing forth pestilence. A daemon of Khorne will be highly aggressive, ferocious and eager for battle.
Daemons are immortal. They cannot die. They’re an extension of their master, and know no end.
When a daemon’s presence on the mortal plane is cut short, either by banishment of some sort or their physical body destroyed, they are brought back to the Realm of Chaos. Their wicked deeds are rewarded, yet failures are punished. A daemon seeks to do nothing but to please its master, and there is no greater punishment than knowing one has failed in that task.
Notable Daemons and Champions
- Gideon – Serving Tzeentch, this lesser daemon was a prominent character in the Shadows over Bogenhafen campaign that took place over a year ago in my game. Gideon was a manipulative trickster, seeking to fulfill the wishes of a binding contract he had with one Johann Teugen, only to trick him in the end in a great sacrifice to his master, Tzeentch. Gideon ultimately failed in that task thanks to the party, yet what he did to Liliana, and the influence he had on her, was perhaps his greatest success.
- Changeling – The Changeling, known as the Perplexing Prankster, the Decieving Horror, or even Tzeentch’s Trickster, personifies the part of Tzeentch’s psyche that is the meddler and the deceiver. He is the ultimate trickster, who can take the form of other beings, from the tiniest of insects to the most massive of Greater Daemons. Gideon had similar abilities, but not to the extent of the changeling, for it possessed no limits to what it could change into.
- Kairos Fateweaver –Kairos Fateweaver, known also as the Oracle of Tzeentch, the Keeper of the Destiny Scrolls, and even the Mocking Watcher, is perhaps the most powerful of his kind due to the actions of his master, the Changer of Ways, the Daemon now knowing every spell in existence, and every action before it’s conceived. Ever since he clawed his way back from the Well of Eternity after years uncounted within its depths, Kairos can see things that are hidden even to Tzeentch. Or so he likes to believe…
- Epidemius – Epidemius, known also as the Maggot King, the Plagued Panjandrum and Reckoner of Mortality, is Nurgle’s chosen Tallyman, one of the seven Proctors of Pestilence and the cataloger of all the Plaguelord’s diseases. Epidemius’ task is an unending one, and it generates a great deal of paperwork, so he rides a palanquin to share the burden — and to more easily force a path through Nurgle’s hordes.
- Masque of Slaanesh – The Masque of Slaanesh, known also as the Eternal Dancer, Accursed Maiden, and Darkling Deceiver was once the most favoured of all the Daemonettes. She danced for the joy of performance and wove enrapturing displays so dazzling that they could strike even immortal gods silent with awe.
- Skulltaker – U’Zhul, better known as Skulltaker, Khorne’s Champion, Blooded Wanderer, and the Slayer of Kings is the greatest of all Khorne’s chosen Bloodletters. When not campaigning with his master’s armies, Skulltaker roams the Realm of Chaos atop his mighty Juggernaut, Kuhl’tyran.