The lore of the Mortal Realms is deep and complex, from The World That Was, to the Age of Chaos to the Nine Realms as they stand today, the factions in Age of Sigmar have been shaped by its cataclysmic past and war-torn present. This week we’re looking at the Hedonites of Slaanesh, the devoted followers of a missing god.
Slaanesh, the Dark Prince
Like the other Chaos gods, Slaanesh has existed since before time. As the god of Temptation and Pleasure, Slaanesh is arguably the most subversive of the gods. While each god preys on human failings, Slaanesh’s portfolio is wide reaching, preying on the human desire to indulge in what is most pleasurable. Sex, drugs, even the thrill of battle can become addicting to the mortal races, especially when chances for pleasure can be hard to come by in the war-torn Mortal Realms. In The World That Was, Slaanesh was pushed out of the material plane by the Elves which provoked a war that would go on to last for thousand of years. Slaanesh would attempt to tempt Mortals as worshippers, in order to gain a way back in to the material plane, and the High Elves would continue to oppose the encroachment of Chaos upon the world.
Flash forward to The End Times, the cataclysmic event that would ultimately lead to the end of the world ended in a major victory for Chaos in general and Slaanesh. Slaanesh finally succeeded at the task they always had sought out to do, to wipe out all the elves from the world. They devoured the souls of all the souls of nearly every Elf in the realms in one giant feast. However, this left Slaanesh fat and weak, opening them up to the most powerful champions of the Elves to counterattack. Teclis and Tyrion, twin brothers of the High Elves, and Malekith and Morathi of the Dark Elves put aside their mutual hatred of each other to seal Slaanesh away in a prison, trapped between the realms of Light and Shadow. The life of a god is long, though and gods are patient. Slaanesh has been working from behind the scenes, planning their machinations of their release.
Recently in Broken Realms: Morathi Slaanesh finally seized their opening. Morathi, wishing to become a god, opened a portal into Slaanesh’s prison to recover the lost souls trapped in Slaanesh’s belly. Although Morathi was successful in her quest, and stole back many of the souls that Slaanesh had imprisoned, Slaanesh found that the portal worked both ways. While Slaanesh could not break the chains holding them trapped, they were able to send a small part of themselves back through the portal and manifest a rebirth in the Mortal Realms. This new being was not Slaanesh themselves – not quite anyways – but was enough to empower the followers of Slaanesh and reinvigorate them to continue their quest to spread pleasure and depravity across the realms.
The Hedonites of Slaanesh
The Hedonites of Slaanesh have always existed, though they have gone by different names throughout history. Mortal and Daemon followers of Slaanesh alike collaborate to spread Slaanesh’s dark desire. Mortals who are tempted to indulge in the depravities of excess that Slaanesh offers are forever lost to a hedonistic stupor. They only seek more and more outlandish pleasures, just to continue to experience new sensations. Slaanesh’s Daemons are born from these dark emotions, and can be summoned into material space with the proper rituals. Ever since the material plane split into the mortal realms, Daemons have been allowed to run more rampant, and their ability to maintain a physical form in the mortal realms is much stronger than it was in the past. Together Daemons and Mortals seek out new lands to conquer and bring into the fold of Slaanesh’s depravity.
With Slaanesh locked away, the power of Slaanesh’s followers waned during the ensuing epochs. The Hedonites were fractured by the loss of their patron and divided into three major factions each with their own agendas: The Godseekers, The Pretenders and The Invaders, three groups who fight fight amongst themselves almost as much as they fight their enemies. The Godseekers, as their name implies, hope to find Slaanesh again to restore the Prince of Pleasure’s proper place in the Chaos pantheon. Slaanesh’s prison has been a long-kept secret; only the Elven gods know where Slaanesh is kept, but the spark sent out by the imprisoned god has rekindled their followers’ fervor. The Pretenders are powerful agents of Slaanesh; a cut above the rest who have designs on becoming gods themselves and replacing Slaanesh. They feel that Slaanesh was weak to be captured and it would be best if they were replaced with someone more worthy. Finally, the Invaders don’t particularly care what happens. They are complete slaves to their own desires and even if Slaanesh is gone they don’t see much use in stopping even if Slaanesh isn’t around to give them orders. If anything, it’s more the reason to celebrate – their depravity is no longer managed by someone else.
Compared to the followers of the other Chaos gods, the Hedonites have always had a bit rougher time of things, lacking a structure and constantly fighting amongst themselves. The spark of Slaanesh that has recently been released into the Mortal Realms has made them a terrifying force yet again, and the forces of Order and Death are now working even harder to resist them.
Of Slaanesh’s daemons, the Keeper of the Secrets is the most powerful. Their mere presence is so unearthly beautiful that it can make the most willful champions of Order break. Their beauty is merely a deception however, as they are deadly combatants able to defeat almost any champ in one on one combat. One of the most noted Keeper of Secrets in Slaanesh’s retinue, Hellbane is an expert hunter and tracker who is summoned whenever Slaanesh senses that a particular enemy warlord is becoming too powerful. Helbane is able to sense subtle changes in emotion and stimuli even better than their brethren. The sense fear as a miasma, and can smell the relief of a hard fought battle, once their quarry is tracked, Shalaxi will stop and nothing to track their target and there is almost nowhere in the mortal realms where one can hide to get away from them.
Once they find their target, Shalaxi is one of the best duelists of the Mortal Realms. They can easily match swords with the best Stormcast warriors, and even Khorne’s Bloodthirsters. Slaanesh’s ultimate goal is to defeat their brother Khorne in battle, seeing defeating a fellow Chaos god in their own obsession as the best possible win. Shalaxi is a skilled duelist who can feint and deceive, tempting warriors into key strikes that will ultimately be turned on them to defeat them. Few have fought Hellbane and lived to tell the tale.
Sigvald, Prince of Slaanesh
Sigvald is one of Slaanesh’s oldest Mortal Champions, hailing from The World That Was. It is said that he was conceived by forbidden acts, and resorted to further taboos in life. He would eat his own Father to gain unspeakable power. He floated a foot in the air, so as to not sully his feet with the base earth, and would burn an entire village to the ground, when the mere smell displeased him. He was an expert duelist, as the vain pursuit for perfection is also part of Slaanesh’s portfolio. Although Sigvald is talented, he is far from perfect. During the End Times he defeated one of Nagash’s champions, though not without taking his one and only scratch by the revenant. He then faced an ignoble end at the hands of Troggoth. Slaanesh discarded Sigvald, refusing to acknowledge a champion defeated by such a brute beast which let his soul be snatched up by Nagash. Nagash, sadistic as he is, trapped Sigvald in a piece of mirror in the city of Shardspire. There he would remain for an uncountable length of time, until he was accidentally freed by a band of Duardin.
Slaanesh reclaimed their Champion with Sigvald returned, and Sigvald began preparations to declare war on the mortal realms. His previous sword, forged from a fragment of Slaanesh’s own sword, would no longer be suitable. Since Slaanesh’s demise, many pretenders have claimed to wield their own weapon that they claim comes from Slaanesh’s own sword. He instead ventured into the Palace of Pleasure, Slaanesh’s Realm, and had the forgemaster create a new sword worthy of his beauty. He named it Shardlash, and has begun a military campaign against the one who injured him in the first place, Nagash. Since then he has rallied cultists from across the Free Cities to take the fight directly to Nagash, only making temporary stops to destroy a settlement of Deathrattle or Nighthaunts. Sigvald’s rage will not be denied, for his anger is only matched by his beauty.
Glutos Orscollion, Lord of Gluttony
Glutos is the vision of gluttony, one Slaanesh’s favored sins. The Orscollions were originally known only as failed merchants, and Glutos was a scrawny, starving child who resorted to theft and pickpocketing to make up for his family’s failing businesses. One day, his hunger gnawing at him, Glutos ate the grain intended as a ceremonial offering. Little did he know this grain was dedicated to a powerful Slaanesh daemon prince, and with that Glutos was condemned. From then on he was wracked with insatiable hunger, and no food he indulged in could ever sate him. One day, in a moment of weakness he engaged in cannibalism, and the hunger sated somewhat. The Daemon prince who now possessed him commended him and told him he was on the right path. From this point forward he would need to indulge in more exotic and depraved foods to sate the hunger, if only for a little while.
Word spread of Glutos being the mortal embodiment of one of Slaanesh’s greatest Daemon Princes and many flocked to him, wanting to aid this powerful champion. Many gave riches and their own martial skill just to assist him his quest for more exotic foods. Since that time Glutos has taken advantage of his situation in order to trample across the mortal realms, not only to capture as new and depraved food as he can but to spread Slaanesh’s unholy corruption across the land. As Glutos devours more dishes, his magical ability increases, and it seems no one can stop his hedonistic rampage as his followers devour still living enemies and sully previously blessed land.
The Hedonites of Slaanesh tome covers some of the extremes of Slaanesh, both the otherworldly outer beauty of champions like Sigvald and the depraved monstrosity which hides beneath. Champions like Glutos expose another side of Slaanesh, that Slaanesh’s pantheon goes beyond just beauty and sexual indulgence but other types of hedonism as well. Games Workshop has struggled a bit with Slaanesh in more recent years, as the god has unfairly been maligned as being very sex focused, and a lot of the lore really gets into the disgusting depravity that goes along with it. While Khorne and Nurgle both have very disturbing or disgusting passages, what strikes me is how perverse it feels. Khornates love the thrill of battle and take pride in massacring the enemy but it is all for the sake of battle. Nurgle may pass disgusting plagues onto the enemy that causes horrific deformities but there’s never any malice to it, it’s a gift and they more enjoy the “good deed” than the active indulgence of the plagues. Slaanesh worshippers actively indulge in the pain they cause, going beyond merely defeating their enemies but devouring still breathing corpses and reveling in the blood. It gets pretty gnarly and it’s really interesting to see how Games Workshop is exploring more aspects of Slaanesh, particularly with Heroes like Glutos who represent the more outwardly vile parts of Slaanesh and how it can transform into more than just a basic need to indulge.
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