Among Games Workshop’s creations, there are few names as praised and cursed as Warhammer’s Slaanesh. The Chaos god of pleasure, excess, pain, hedonism, and everything too rude to mention in this guide, Slaanesh is the youngest of the ruinous powers, yet has a huge influence within the universe of Warhammer 40k (not to mention Age of Sigmar).
If that all sounds too salacious for you, worry not – we have guides to all the other Warhammer 40k factions, from the monastic Space Marines to the convented Sisters of Battle. If we’re honest, whatever it is that Slaanesh does to earn their reputation for lewdness tends to happen off-screen in Warhammer books, particularly Warhammer 40k codexes.
Even so, there are many tales of mortals becoming lost in their realm, the Palace of Slaanesh. But with us as your guide, we’re confident you can make it back out again. So, let’s go on a little trip – just try not to have too much fun; it can be dangerous.
Here’s all you need to know about Warhammer’s Slaanesh:
- The origins of Slaanesh
- Slaanesh symbol
- The Keeper of Secrets
- Daemonettes of Slaanesh
- Fiends of Slaanesh
- The Contorted Epitome
- The Infernal Enrapturess
The origins of Slaanesh
Unlike many chaos gods, we know the origins of Slaanesh precisely. To find the cause we must look to the Eldar and the waning days of their colossal empire. Unlike the sober, ascetic Aeldari of Warhammer 40k, the early Eldar were hedonists who had begun to test the very limits of mortal experience. Their colossal arrogance lives on in their Drukhari descendants, if not their power.
Inevitably this turned cruel beyond all comprehension, with the Eldar inflicting atrocity upon atrocity on themselves and other races in their quest to push into new realms of excess. In a manner, they were successful, as the endless horror that was the Eldar Empire reached into the Warp and caused a new entity to be born: the chaos god Slaanesh.
As Slaanesh was born, they tore a hole in reality, sucking many Eldar planets into the newly formed Eye of Terror, and damning all Eldar souls for all eternity. From this day onwards, a new dark deity ruled alongside Khorne, Nurgle, and Tzeentch, changing the universe forever.
Like all chaos gods, Slaanesh has their own symbol, which acts as a signifier for their followers and incorporates many aspects of their ideology. Though Slaanesh can be all things at all times, they have a preference for the colours purple and pink, with many of their creatures being tinted that shade. The Slaanesh symbol also incorporates the conventional symbols for male and female, showing that they are of all mortal genders and none at the same time.
Outside of the direct symbol of Slaanesh, they have two further signifiers. The first is the number six which is sacred to them; many of their daemonic hordes are organised in sixes.
They also offer the Mark of Slaanesh to their most dutiful followers, a mark which grants Slaanesh’s devotees a supernatural glamour, as well as a never-ending, ravenous hunger for more pleasure. The most famous bearers of the Mark of Slaanesh are the Noise Marines, of the Emperor’s Children Chaos Space Marines chapter.
The Keeper of Secrets
Like all Warhammer chaos gods, Slaanesh has followers of all types – from mortals like Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Cultists, to daemonic creatures like the Masque of Slaanesh or The Keeper of Secrets.
Though many mortals join the ranks of the ‘Slaaneshi’ and aspire to join Slaanesh in the great palace, the journey is hard and paved with evil acts that tarnish the soul. Conversely, Slaanesh has many daemons at their beck and call, each created to be pure avatars of their god’s divine will.
The greatest of all daemons created by Slaanesh is the Keeper of Secrets. It is impossible to describe the ‘average’ Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, as they all differ in appearance, changing depending on the whims and moods of Slaanesh at the time of their creation – and the hopes, fears, and desires of those near to them.
Some look humanoid in form – though beautiful beyond measure – while others are more serpentine and bestial, horns and claws peeking through their magenta flesh.
Despite taking a multitude of appearances, these daemons all share some traits. They are lightning-fast warriors on the battlefield who also excel in manipulating their foes, sending them intoxicating visions to render them unable to wage war. Keepers of Secrets feed off emotions, delighting in causing pain and spreading fear throughout their enemies’ ranks.
Keeper of Secrets Warhammer 40k rules
The Keeper of Secret is a very fast, and potentially very durable centerpiece for a Chaos Daemons army. It’s Mesmerising Form penalises enemy attacks against it with -1 to hit, while its native 4+ invulnerable save and 18 wounds are reasonable protection from high AP attacks. The optional Shining Aegis wargear provides a Feel No Pain 5+, which is invaluable against the multitude of Devastating Wounds weapons in 10th edition.
Offensively, its Daemon Lord Of Slaanesh Aura improves the AP of melee weapons for friendly Slaanesh daemons within 6″. Its various weapon options will rip even elite enemy infantry, but with a maximum Strength characteristic of 8 on its Witstealer Sword, it will struggle a little against enemy armor.
Daemonettes of Slaanesh
Daemonettes of Slaanesh are the most numerous of Slaaneshi daemons. Often acting as warriors as much as agents or servants in Slaanesh’s Palace, they can be found anywhere their gods’ will is made manifest. Despite being armed with huge crab-like claws and unnatural, mirror-black eyes, these humanoid daemons have a beguiling beauty which leads many astray.
They can haunt dreams and inflict nightmares, causing chaos wherever they tread. In the great Palace of Slaanesh, they are found as concubines, with their most accomplished being allowed to approach Slaanesh’s throne itself.
Fiends of Slaanesh
A confusing melange of human, reptile, and insect, Fiends of Slaanesh are terrifying creatures that bound across the battlefield faster than the eye can track. Often found with four legs and two giant claw-like arms, they can dive into battle and disembowel even the most well-armoured of foes in seconds.
Even if one should withstand their ferocious assault, the bizarre, anteater-like tongue of a Fiend can cause an instant coma, should it touch bare flesh. Outside of battle, Fiends can be found roaming the Realm of Slaanesh, hunting friend and foe alike as they play deadly games for fun and pleasure.
Slaanesh is a god of many things, vanity being one of them. It’s no surprise, then, that mirrors play a part in their deadly arsenal, often coming in the form of the Contorted Epitome. Held aloft by daemons, these twisted looking glasses contain immense psychic powers.
On the battlefield, they’re most often encountered helping to manifest Slaanesh’s will directly on the ebb and flow of the battle, empowering allies and demoralising foes. They can also be used to deny psychic powers, keeping enemies off-kilter and allowing Slaanesh’s forces the time and space to strike unopposed.
The Infernal Enrapturess plays the reality-splitting song of Slaanesh on her diabolical Heartstring Lyre. This music is pleasing to Slaanesh, a cacophony of discordant anti-melody that bursts the eardrums and boils the brains of mere mortals. On the battlefield this makes for a powerful ranged weapon capable of pulping mortals or even cracking the hulls of battle tanks.
The aura of sonic unreality the Enrapturess projects alters the very vibrations of the cosmos. Enemy 40k psykers risk having their powers turned back on them, while the tittering daemonettes that covort about the Enrapturess are invigorated. Should they be slain while the Enrapturess plays, their daemonic essence recoheres once again.