In the Warhammer 40k universe, the forces of Chaos are usually a pretty slippery bunch. They have to be, if their many cults are to flourish, and avoid the watchful eye and swift persecution of the Imperial Inquisition. But of the four Chaos gods, one, Khorne, stands apart in his brute simplicity.
Khorne; Chaos god of war, violence, anger, strength, and blood; knows just what he’s about. “Blood for the blood god! Skulls for the skull throne!” shout his devotees, before they stab something. And that neatly sums up this big angry god’s whole deal. He likes destruction, rage, and killing, and doesn’t give a monkey’s about anything else. Khorne is the god of violence, but he’s also the god of honour. He’d rather lose in a straight up mano-o-mano battle than engage in subterfuge, and his followers won’t try to trick you like Tzeentch, or take salacious pleasure in your suffering like his rival Slaanesh.
Khorne is the oldest Chaos deity, believed to have appeared when the first mortal raised a fist (or tentacle) in fury. It’s said that every time someone is killed in anger, it empowers Khorne, so it’s understandable that in Warhammer, where there is only war, he’s considered the oldest and strongest of the four Chaos Gods.
The most traditionally ‘demon-like’ of all the Chaos gods (with fiery red followers) Khorne appears as a giant, buff humanoid, who sits upon a throne that stands atop a mountain of skulls. The Blood God’s Domain is not a hot holiday destination due to the rivers of boiling blood, constant earthquakes, and endless fighting. Somewhere in there are a bunch of rampaging Orks that Khorne abducted because he loved their joyful violence so much. And there are far, far greater dangers besides.
Nonetheless, let’s take a trip through those blasted lands. Our guide will teach you everything you could care to know about Khorne.
Khorne grants his worshippers the power to destroy their enemies, so he’s usually worshipped by warrior cultures, warlords, gladiators, and barbarians. The worshipper gets greater strength and prowess on the battlefield, Khorne gets the satisfaction that more blood is being spilled.
Hit list: A guide to Warhammer 40k Chaos factions
That’s how Khornite worship starts, but over time the red mist descends, and a Khorne follower becomes more rage filled. Eventually, members of the cult of Khorne will be nothing more than unthinking, unstoppable berserkers, with no wider goals or aims than to kill.
The most famous worshippers of Khorne are Angron and his traitor Space Marine legion of the World Eaters – a now splintered legion made up of multiple rival roving bands.
While Khorne has no temples, all the Chaos gods love to accessorise, and Khorne has a symbol just like the other three.
The Mark of Khorne is a crude symbol, consisting of harsh lines, an abstract depiction of Khorne’s favourite body part, the human skull (admittedly, you have to squint a bit). This brand is given to loyal followers who have pleased Khorne. It grants strength and rage in equal measure, and constantly bleeds – very unsanitary.
Green and mean: A guide to the Chaos god Nurgle
Khorne is also associated with the number eight. He has eight burning books, eight iron pillars, and his legions are each organised into eight cohorts of eight daemon packs.
Greater daemons of Khorne are known as bloodthirsters. They’re basically exactly what you imagine when you think ‘demon’: enormous, bat-winged, horned, red-skinned monsters wielding ridiculously big axes. (Presumably, ancient Terran legends of the devil stem from these creatures.) There are a few different varieties – eight different bloodthirster hosts, to be specific. Some have whips, others breathe fire – but they’re all similarly terrifying and murderous.
Rambunctious rival: A guide to the Chaos god Slaanesh
Bloodthirsters are the most physically powerful daemons of all. Clad in magic-resistant armor, armed with terrifying weapons, they serve as Khorne’s generals, leading the rest of his troops into battle.
Khorne Bloodletters and Bloodcrushers
The basic infantry Khorne daemons are known as bloodletters. In older editions of Warhammer 40k, these appeared as pretty standard devils, but the modern incarnation of them is a red-skinned humanoid with enormous horns, a massively elongated head, and a long, serpentine tongue.
Bloodletters wield swords (Khorne prefers melee weapons – guns are okay, but sorcery is right out) and have super strength. They march in organised formations on the way to battle, but tend to lose their orderliness once blood is spilled and rage mode activates.
Fantasy land: Our Age of Sigmar armies guide
The mightiest bloodletters are able to tame a juggernaut, daemonic warmounts made of metal and flesh. Juggernauts are stocky, hooved creatures with slavering maws, who are always pissed off. The bloodletters that tame one (and aren’t crushed underfoot) become bloodcrushers, unstoppable knights of Khorne.