Chaos (Warhammer)

Chaos (Warhammer)

In Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 fictional universes, Chaos refers to the often stereotypically malevolent entities which live in a different timespace, known as the Warp in Warhammer 40,000 and as the Realm of Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy. The term can refer to these warp entities and their influence, the servants and worshippers of these entities, or even the parallel universe in which these entities are supposed to reside. The most powerful of these warp entities are those known as the Chaos Gods, also sometimes referred to as the Dark Gods, Ruinous Powers, or the Powers of Chaos. Similarities exist between the Warhammer idea of Chaos and the concept of Chaos from Michael Moorcock's Elric saga,[1] which also influenced D&D's alignment system. Further similarities can be see with the godlike extradimensional Great Old Ones of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft's stories.

Contents

The Chaos Gods

The concept of Chaos Gods has been a more or less integral part of both Warhammer universes ever since they were first conceived. The Chaos Gods in Warhammer are essentially deities worshiped and feared by various groups and that is what makes these groups followers of Chaos. In this idea there is evidently a strong influence from the British fantasy writer Michael Moorcock. Many different Chaos Gods were named in the various early miniature catalogues released by Citadel in the early eighties. But it was never clearly explained what the fictional pantheon looked like. The idea of "Four Great Powers of Chaos", i.e. Chaos Gods, was first introduced in the two Realm of Chaos sourcebooks released 1988 and 1990 respectively. To date these remain the original and amongst the most detailed pieces of work published by Games Workshop regarding Chaos. The Black Library "artbooks" of the Liber Chaotica series (released from 2001–2006) and Black Industries' Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay supplement, the Tome of Corruption: Secrets from the Realm of Chaos (published 2006) contain as much detail as the original Realms of Chaos sourcebooks (and, in the case of the Liber Chaotica, taken directly from the original books), but with the various additions and changes to the Chaos imagery that GW has introduced over the years - although these latter two books focus mainly upon Chaos as perceived through the Warhammer Fantasy imagery.

Both game worlds depict fictional settings out of spiritual balance, where emotions, urges and thoughts permeate from a functioning brain and manifest in a dimension of existence called "the Warp". The world presented is one of Animism, where the dissipated currents and waves of quantum-electromagnetic fluctuations of a functioning mind, or what is frequently called the "soul" of any creature of a psychic nature in the "physical universe". In the fictional setting of Warhammer, these "bits of mind and memory" are drawn together, like-to-like, within the "meta-physical universe" that is to say "the Warp" or "the Realm of Chaos" (40K and Fantasy respectively), merging into great psychic "storms" or "vortices". As is the case with the "Big Four" Chaos Gods, these "vortices" sometimes gain consciousness, self-awareness and even personality of a sort in the metaphysical (or psychic) context of the Warp. However, this consciousness and/or personality are dominated by the paradigm of the emotions that form the vortex they exude from - so a vortex of anger, rage and of souls and soul fragments that are saturated with feelings of anger and bloodlust (perhaps because they are the souls of dead serial killers or berserk warriors for instance) would be an entirely and eternally furious and violent consciousness / personality.

Chaos Gods are no different from any of the other myriad of Demons that inhabit the parallel universe, but are considerably stronger and with an influence that is greater than other "Warp Entity" or "Demon" by orders of magnitude.

The main four deities of the Chaos pantheon exude from the "biggest" vortices of emotion and souls within the Warp and these vortices are the biggest because they are formed from the most basic and readily experienced emotions common to almost all intelligent sentient beings. Thus these entities are the strongest of all the many entities that can and have formed within the Warp. The four great gods are often used as antagonists in their respective settings, frequently sparking great wars against other factions with the aim of gaining total domination over the entire setting. The names and aspects of these four great gods are:

  • Khorne-Bloodlust/War/Death
  • Tzeentch-Change/Fate/Mutation
  • Nurgle-Plague/Despair/Disease
  • Slaanesh-Lust/Pleasure/Excess

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Warhammer 1st Edition

References

  • Brunton, Mike; and Ansell, Bryan (1988). Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-51-4. 
  • Ansell, Bryan; and Priestly, Rick (1990). Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned. Nottingham: Games Workshop. ISBN 1-869893-52-2. 
  • {{Cite book|title=Warhammer Armies: Skaven|first=Alessio|last=Cavatore|coauthors=and Reynolds, A

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