40K: Slaanesh The Sidekick

Has The Dark Prince Slaanesh been relegated to the role of a sidekick in Warhammer 40,000?

Let’s just get this out of the way: This is not one of those “GW Needs to change Slaanesh in to something more kid friendly” articles. We’ve done that. It also appears as if Slaanesh is still around and kicking in 40k, despite what’s going on in AoS. No, today I want to look at the role that Slaanesh is currently playing in Warhammer 40,000 8th based on what we’ve see in the big rule book. Slaanesh has not been “squatted” – but his role appears to have very much diminished.

If you haven’t been keeping up with current events in the lore, the time-table of the game has actually progressed. After the events of 7th edition, the universe has aged by roughly 100 years (there are some questions on the exact date – but that’s a different article). Guilliman has been able to propagate “Primaris Marine Tech” to many of the chapters of Space Marines and Chaos has established a few footholds in real-space – oh and that giant warp scar is still causing lots of issues.

The State of The Galaxy

In that span of time The Chaos Gods have been pretty active. For reference here are the 3 big campaigns (excluding Fall of Cadia and Abaddon’s forces) that are mentioned with a short summary and their page numbers so you can look them up in the BRB:

  • Warzone: Ultramar – pg 154-159 – Details the conflict between Nurgle vs Ultramarines. Summary: Nurgle invades the Ultramar Sub-Sector and establishes a foothold. It’s only with the return of Guilliman that the forces are able to counter-attack and successfully fight back. The system was deadlocked until the Death Guard and other Nurgle forces pulled back (see War in the Rift pg 167).
  • Warzone: Stygius – pg 164-165 – Details Tzeentch’s attack on the Stygus Sector. Summary: Tzeentch was jealous of Nurgle’s foothold in real space so he set out to claim his own. The Stygius sector (home of the Mordian Iron Guard) appeared to be the perfect target. The forces of Chaos were able to attack and carve out a large sector and, if not for Aeldari intervention, probably would have kept expanding.
  • The Blood Crusade – pg 166 – Details Khorne’s Rampage across the galaxy. Summary: Khorne launched an attack with “eight distinct spearheads” across the galaxy. These forces had no direction and basically rode the warp storms from battle to battle. Reveling in the slaughter, the Blood Crusade only ended when Tzeentch contacted Khorne for the War in the Rift.

Three campaigns, three Chaos Gods. What about Slaanesh? Well he wasn’t idle, but he wasn’t exactly ambitious either. The only “solo” campaign his forces seemed to have launched was against Craft World Iyanden (pg 167):

Compared to the other 3 – this is a footnote instead of a massive campaign. “Okay, but what about that War in the Rift? Surely Slaanesh was involved with that, right?” Absolutely. But the battle lines were basically Tzeentch and Khorne vs Nugle with Slaanesh playing for both teams:

 

Now, let’s be real for a minute. Khorne got a ton of attention with Khorne Daemonkin and got it’s Bloodthirster model. Plus Khorne has been an active participant in the story line (Traitor’s Blade). In January we had a ton of Tzeentch stuff come out – including Magnus who was the first plastic Primarch for 40k AND a new Lord of Change model. Not to mention all the other cool kits that were released. Now, the launch of 40k is focusing on the conflict between the Death Guard (Nurgle) and the Ultramarines. We’re probably going to get a plastic Mortarion and a ton of new Death Guard kits. I get it. Each one of those Chaos Gods is getting their time in the spotlight. It makes total sense.

So when is Slaanesh’s turn?

We know Fulgrim is stomping around somewhere (he was mentioned in the Gathering Storm books). We know Slaanesh’s forces are still active – heck the Emperor’s Children pop-up a few times in the BRB, too. Slaanesh might not be dead or slumbering in 40k, but he sure is getting pushed to the back of the bus…

 

Do you think we will see a new supplement or campaign focusing on Slaanesh the Dark Prince is going to be relegated to an after-thought moving forward?

  • Chronoid

    The thing with Slaanesh is it used to be the shameless chaos god/ess of drugs, sex and rock, which, at a certain point, GW regretted because of two reasons: First It wasn’t family frendly so it went against their effords to expand the market to younger customers. Second, it was an incredibly 80’s theme and, turns out, the 80’s didn’t last forever.

    When they realized this issue at some point during the 2000’s decade, thez tried to solve it: downplay those aspects of the god/ess and introduce pride and obsession as it’s new main themes. Off with the music, and, above all, off with the sexuality. The polemic redesign of the daemonettes from their Juan Diaz’s forms to the current ones is the most obvious testimony of that.

    Thing is, this change was but a patch and didn’t quite convince anyone, not even the people at GW.
    So nowadays they basically avoid everithing Slaanesh because they pretty much have no Idea what to do and how to make an interesting faction out of it.

    • Luca Lacchini

      Sadly, true.
      And quite similar to what happened with the miner guild/biker gang/ancestors in heavy power armor themes of the Squats.

      Great potential, great misuse.

    • EnTyme

      Recent AoS fluff seems to be emphasizing the “pleasure from pain” aspect of Slaanesh. It seems to be an interesting direction, given 40k already has Dark Eldar, but we’ll have to see where it goes.

    • Rafał Pytlak

      Wow, wow, wow…

      Since when “sex and music” is out of style? It wasn’t just a 80s thing but a part of humanity since the Ice Age. That’s why they made Slaanesh the boss of it not “oh it was cool in a glam rock era and puberty nerds will dig that”

      • Agent of Change

        Ahh but the particular flavor of exploity objectifying male gaze sex and spikes, glam hair, heavy metal and big guitars Music exemplified by the early slaneesh models WAS very very very 80’s and appealed specifically to glam rock era puberty nerds. And while the main elements are timeless that particular style and aesthetic are in fact dead to the mainstream or at least not acceptable to the target purchasers.

        To try and remove the context of the specific thing is to try and creatively re-write history. You aren’t wrong that Sex and music is timeless and sex is connected to music that isn’t in debate. But the deeper aspects of Slaneesh’s existance weren’t the primary consideration in the creation and the current apparent sidelining of the god and it’s forces.

        We could talk at length over how wierd it is that the gods of decapitating everyone, of Lying and betraying everyone, and of literal rot and disease are somehow MORE family friendly than the God of indulgence as personified through perversion. We could definitely talk about how many very messed up things that says about our culture.

        But in the end the short hand for perversion, lust, and desire is nudity and our puritanical western society can’t get over it’s hypocrisy’s in that regard. Without that short hand or a deeper more subtle dive into Slaneesh’s identity and how to present that (which is hard) Slaneesh gets sidelined in favor of the factions easy to represent.

        So yeah Slaneesh’s 80’s style sex and music vibe is obviously exactly why it’s been pushed aside for now.

        • Sergio Celi

          Male gaze? You mean muscular bodies, in Glam Rock pijamas while being astonishing gorgeous? (Not counting the androginous paladins of Slaneesh). The only time the Deamonettes were hot was with Juan Diaz, and even then, they were quite spooky.

          • Dan

            yeah, but at the time all of those things were visually arresting, challenging and spooky. The idea was to be edgy and disgusting… in the 80’s and 90’s. We’re past that now, androgyny, hermaphrodism, BDSM, even just plain ol homoeroticism that’s all, broadly speaking, fine now *as it should always have been*. Rocky Horror was pornographic in the 70s. Children watch it now and high school kids put on the stage play. We are in an enlightened age.

            It’s the same problem that industrial shock rock has. It is meaningless if it isn’t shocking, and basically nothing is shocking anymore.

          • Agent of Change

            pretty much spot on. GW doesn’t want to shock anymore.

            If the old aesthtic is uncomfortable for them and they don’t want to shock, then what’s old Slanmeesh to do?

        • Rafał Pytlak

          Yeah, that puritan part is still prevailant here in Poland, with our “moher inquisition” 😉

          Still, is the 80 rock truly dead in the broader audience? Would ol’ Slaanesh now represent some emo grindcore or skrilex techno? I feel old, man…

          • Agent of Change

            I think you could get mileage from any of those influences visually, but they would age as badly as teh 80′ look over time.

            There was an article here a while back that discussed these issues and I agree with the overall theme. Slaneesh is far more interesting as a more intellectual/primal force of obsession, excess, and self-destruction. But that is hard to do in a non-adult way and very hard to put on the table in a visual way that is “family friendly”

        • angelblade

          yea take it from some one born in the early 90s everything 80s is just cringy and old unless yor one of them hipster types but even they stop at the 70s when thing were last cool

          • kobalt60

            Take it from someone born in the 70s, every decade has its own cringe. Hindsight is a wonderful, cruel thing

    • Zreat mi Legenderi

      Ah…. because a rotting piece of diseases is better for children…. Oh, wait! Better the Khrone violence and bloodshed! This is really good to introduce the game to the children… About drugs… What about Dark Eldar?
      Is your opinión serious or a joke, Chronoid? FOr me, it sounds absurd.

      • Chronoid

        Oh, please, don’t take me wrong. That is not my opinion. What I said was merely what can be inducted from the way GW has dealed with Slaanesh through it’s history. I havent spoken either in favor of or against such measures.

        But really, while is not by any extend “better”, you can’t deny that society in general views violence and disease as far more acceptable for children than anything remotely sexual. Better they see a disenboweled man than a bare breast. It’s really messed up, but that’s the way things are and GW wants to make bussiness, so I’m afraid your point kind of falls flat.

    • Nathaniel Wright

      I’d agree if they didn’t keep throwing her imagery all over the core rule books.

      Anyone that says GW is making ‘kid games’ is lying to themselves.

      • Chronoid

        Noone is saying they make “kid games”.
        It’s more like “They want to keep kids a a Periphery Demographic”.

        • Nathaniel Wright

          lmao okay. Whatever people have to tell themselves.

        • Spacefrisian

          I bet you have the main rules book, they didnt attempt to hide any keeper of secrets at all, infact the model is put smack dab in the center of a scene with all 6 breasts shown in full glory.

    • kobalt60

      The current plastic daemonettes are a spot on update of the original metal oness

      • Andrew

        This

  • PanzerDan

    a few of the Slannesh Mini were updated to “Please note that this kit is only Available While Stocks Last.”
    Maybe they’re planning a refresh. I could see Sister/Min vs Slannesh as a warzone

    • Isinfier

      Slaanesh is the only faction from Chaos Daemon’s without a Start Collecting box at the moment, and that’s down to the Herald being resin as opposed to plastic.

      I’d wager we’ll see a release on that front before the end of the year, at the latest.

      • Vladamyr

        The Herald not being plastic I do not think is the reason, As the Khorne one is also resin, so they got by that by using the herald on the throne, which Slaanesh could also do by using the herald on one of the chariots.

        I think a more likely reason for start collecting is that they were aimed at AoS for the daemon boxes, and Slaanesh is in the backseat in AoS. (on the bright side though in their app now they are listed under Daemons of Slaanesh instead of Host of Slaanesh….so that is promising.

  • TDog

    I don’t think Slaanesh is being pushed to the back of the bus so much as they’re trying to get a good grasp on the concept without turning Slaanesh into “more of the same.” Excess and seeking perfection are hard concepts to gel in a war game – and that goes double when every other Chaos power out there is excessive in what they do.

    Also, three words: Lucius the Eternal. Awful miniature. I’d definitely vote for holding Slaanesh back until new and better miniatures were designed and sculpted.

    • dave long island

      He’s not been pushed to the back of the bus. He’s been pushed to the back of the video store, to that one room, behind the swinging doors… lol

    • D. B.

      As to the Lucius mini, I wouldn’t say awful, but this guy came from the darkest days of the Age of the Loincloth. While this worked well for regular SM and CSM, it makes him lose some of the litheness you’d associate with a Slaaneshi Champion.

      • jonathon

        I think the Lucius model is actually really good – if you can find a pewter one. Bend the whip so its coiling (or … lashing…) above his head and a minor repose of his sword arm and all of a sudden he ceases to be a bizarrely linear model and becomes quite dynamic.

      • horrid74

        It’s not a particularly good model but it’s no Doomrider either 😀 .

    • Dan

      I agree. I think they just have no idea what to do with Slaanesh. All of it’s thematic underpinnings are super high concept and intangible. The rules fluctuate *wildly* as they flail around trying to get something to reflect it mechanically.

      Literally just had this conversation with a friend yesterday. It’s a hard thing to figure out. should probably shift focus more to agony/ecstasy which are at least model-able concepts like soft, plush fabrics vs screaming pained faces and industrial bits, or focus on beauty/ugliness which we have many ways of modelling. even machinery clean flowing lines and symmetry vs awkward, asymetrical etc.

      • AEZ

        Also.. 3 chaos gods and the big rat the skaven have in AoS.. is actually quite enough.. it’s hard enough to give them all some love every other year.. and if it takes longer people will feel left out. Forget Slaanesh and pick one of the 3 others and hope they get their updates regularly.

      • Anasa

        I would rather like them to go for the “Sigvald the Magnificent” route, e.g. beautiful and elegant on the outside but utterly rotten on the inside. In models, the latter could be achieved through poses and facial expressions. Besides, Khorne, Nurgle and Undivided tend to favor the “spiky and gritty” side of Chaos, so Slaanesh could join Tzeentch in the flashy and ornamental side.

    • Rafał Pytlak

      Actually, the perfection aspect shouldn’t be to hard to show. GW should produce some EC infantry with double wielding swords as “perfect fencers” and focus on warbands lime the Flawless Host. That would “gel”

      • Dan

        even just giving them epees and rapiers as opposed to the big brutal weapons CSM often get would work visually. Can easily accept armour to follow “sexy” lines like having edging around the pelvic ridge etc. basically the design of old perfect sigvald mcsexyface from warhammer fantasy. still leaves questions about rules but getting bonuses

    • jonathon

      Of all the gods, Slaanesh is probably the one who would be most relevant to your average joe citizen of the imperium. Toil your life away in the daily grind mid-spire on some hive world where you never see natural light or breathe fresh air? Have no hope of improving your lot or the lot of your children? Numb yourself with obscura or flects. Indulge in the sins of the flesh to escape the tedium of your daily grind. Or are you a high-spire socialite with nothing but time and almost unlimited resources? Well… same thing, debauchery and excess pass the time that would otherwise be dismal. In the grim-dark world, the slaaneshi cults would be the most prolific – far more prolific than those who commit random acts of brutal violence, or secretly study sorcery, or nurture decay. Just like modern society where opiod abuse is apparently rampant across North America, drug cartels effectively hold governments hostage, and never forget… we all indulge in a little bit of internet pornography now and again.

      • horrid74

        I like your line of reasoning. Maybe they should be examining what is, “normal” in Imperial society and embracing behavior outside of those parameters. The search for perfection could be a very personal pursuit at the expense of duty to society. An excess of personal concern, selfishness. Challenging the norm is fighting taboo or conformity. Sexuality as an aesthetic for the power works because it remains a frontier or fringe of concern in many cultures. Visually I think it works but a manifesto of Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll is childish.

  • Ryan Miller

    As an Iron Hands player, I want to see Fulgrim try to invade Medusa, only to get stompoed by a (somehow) returned Manus. It should happen shortly after the return of Rus, but before Vulkan only because in my mind it makes sense to have Rus come back with something with which to bring back Manus, and then Vulkan can play blacksmith with Manus somewhere for a hundred years and come up with some super stupendous gear and tanks for our new friends the Primaris.

  • dave long island

    The idea of 4 chaos gods was always stupid. There should be an infinite number of chaos gods, some rising and and then others falling into obscurity to be forgotten forever. Having such an orderly grouping of chaos gods isn’t chaotic. It’s orderly and kind of cute. To heck with that (yes, I’m pulling out the strong language, I know…). The gods they got can stay, but there should be others. And if they don’t work out, well, forget em. And introduce some new ones, with new lore behind them. The gods of Law and Order, if there were such creatures, would be staid and static in their beings and natures. But not the so called chaos gods. I rather like Michael Moorcock’s version of the chaos gods: there was no limit to ’em, and some were nothing more than a name, not yet revealed in their nature, while others were quite well known and powerful, etc.

    • Chris Hilliard

      Well AoS has added a new Chaos god in the form of the Great Horned Rat. Its considered a full god, but is disliked by everyone but the Skaven. And Slanesh is supposed to be waiting in the wings to return once the upstart is dealt with.

      • dave long island

        Right on. It’s out with the horny one and in with the horned one. Lol…

    • Damistar

      Law and Order would be Sigmar (or the Emperor in 40K). Periodically there are “lesser” Chaos gods mentioned in the fluff, spinning off the big four or arising and sinking back into the warp. Then there’s Malal, the one who hunts the others…

      • dave long island

        Well Sigmar is a god of law yes, but a god of men, specifically the men of the Empire. For example the Lizardtards do not worship Sigmar, and yet they are allied with Order. Anyways, yes your point is well taken. And yes I’m aware of Malal, and am aware that he is shroaded in the mists of time, having been abandoned by GW’s loremasters for whatever reason. And I fine with that. My point is that they should do more of that. Bring forth interesting chaos gods, and see what sticks to the kitchen wall. What doesn’t work, abandon; and what works, continue to one degree or another. Things that are chaotic, especially gods, should be chaotic.

    • Vladamyr

      I thought they were going to go this direction with the Aeldari, with the Ynead story backfiring and them just creating (or summoning) another “new” god of chaos.

      • dave long island

        RIght on. Sounds like it.

  • benn grimm

    Been a while since we had one of these Slaanesh conspiracy articles, can’t say I’ve missed them much. How about one about the squatting of IG, I mean they haven’t had a decent kit for ages and why would they be needed now that the imperium has infinte big-marines they can magic into existence?

    • georgelabour

      I wanted to make a pithy comment about hyperbolic statements that are unburned by facts. Sadly I can’t do it without coming off as a pedantic jerk.

      Instead I will just say if you try to take away my Vostroyans you will get cut

      Seriously..those bayonets are pretty darn sharp if you’re not careful. And the power sword/plasma officer is just a shiv waiting for an inmate to happen.

      Also their hats make great mini cheese graters.

      • JPMcMillen

        Personally, I’d like to see the IG make a “Pithy” comeback. Seriously, I want the Praetorians back (in plastic).

        Yea, yea, I know I can 3rd party it, but they cost more than what GW would charge for plastics.

      • benn grimm

        Lol, no worries your super old, super heavy miniatures are safe… Plastic Vostroyans would be cool as hell though…as long as theyre not too overtly sexual of course…;)

        • georgelabour

          Good news. There are no female Vostroyans in the Firstborn regiments! They all stay at home working in the factories and popping out babies. For the motherland or somehting.

          So any worries about there being sexist miniatures of them have already been dealt wth.

          <..> …..=^_^=

          • benn grimm

            Dealt with in the most sexist way possible…how very 40k…)

    • Vachones

      I was about to say this, but you did it much better. Must be a slow news day to trot out this old musty conspiracy to get everyone all worked up.

  • AX_472

    I think “biding it’s time” would be a better description. 🙂

  • Hagwert

    It’s always going to be a tricky one for GW due to the fact that most younger players need parents to do much of the purchasing of their hobby for them and they , not surprisingly , are going to raise eyebrows at some of the themes of Slannesh . However , if you look at the old Sigvald The Magnificent miniature that is a great figure which says all you need to know about the pleasure god without the need to be overtly sexual .

  • In addition, the three other Chaos gods each have a 2-page layout in the rulebook. EC only get one small box on the next page.

  • pokemastercube .

    umm, there is legitimate stratigy to slaanesh being quiet mostly: let everyone else wear themselves out and then knock the exaused and weakend forces aside

  • Horus Lupercal

    Flayed bodies, skulls, ripped spines and heads are less scary for parents than bums and boobs…

    • dave long island

      Depends on where they fall on the saggy/pert scale… lol

    • Vachones

      And yet there is a Slaneesh demon, all 8 boobs on display, in the Chaos index….

  • Carey_Mahoney

    Here where I live, the cool kids occupy the back of the bus.

  • Darth Bumbles

    ThevGod of Excess is currently excessively lazy. Makes sense to me

  • Nathaniel Wright

    I suppose if you throw enough crap at the wall, something will stick.

    BoLS should really just consider not writing about Slaanesh to avoid overfilling themselves on crow.

    For me, this might be the most exciting time to be a Slaaneshi devotee. They’re teasing the prospect of Slaaneshi Aeldari (Which I imagine will fill the same space as the Tzaangors and new rotguys nurgle has), they’re talking about Slaanesh actually doing his usual politicking and butting heads with Khorne.

  • Senexis

    At least there are no Space Skaven to come along and steal Slaanesh’s rightful place

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    Fulgrim’s busy in the Segmentum Obscurus, trying to swindle Lorgar out of an army of possessed Untouchables. Did nobody read Pariah?

    • Nathaniel Wright

      Why would they read a book when they could just speculate and then say ‘oops we were wrong lol’?

  • dinodoc

    “Tzeentch and Khorne”
    Wut?

  • Arthfael

    Just… stop! All of this is just getting GW an excuse to eventually do that. Every single article in that direction is one more reason for them to shelve Slaanesh. Instead, why not write articles to the glory of She who Thirsts? We Eldar (a word which is not spelt “A-E-L-D-A-R-I”, which sounds more like High Gothic for Eldar than the actual old Eldar word) need Ynnead to have someone to punch in the face.

  • ALittleGreeky

    I want Crab Marines!! But seriously, they really just need to focus in on an aspect like Wealth, Greed, or Pride. Something that’s unique enough that they can theme a faction of daemons around it without stepping too heavily on any toes.

    I think there’s a way to make excess work but I doubt GW cares to jump through all those hoops. I’d really rather them just re-brand the entire god/faction and work off a clean slate over them awkwardly dancing around the subject for the rest of eternity.

    As for distinct animal themes they can keep the serpent aspect, but I personally like the idea moving harder down the crab/crustacean aspect. Really any animal that reflects selfishness and greed in that way that flies reflect disease and death would work.

  • Alessio

    Well, GW. How the “In the grim darkness of the future there is only war” is more family friendly than a good pair of titties? Seriously? What’s wrong with people?

  • Talos2

    I think the direction gw seem to be taking with slaanesh is probably more in direct conflict with the eldar rather than the imperium, and as the fluff is written pretty much exclusively from the perspective of the imperium that means he/it inevitably gets sidelined from the largest parts of the fluff. It also allows them to focus storylines which is fine. Slaanesh is still relevant to the whole, but the others are more so. I’d guess when 40k focuses on eldar we’ll see more slaanesh

  • Rajak

    Slaanesh may not be family friendly but it is a single faction in the entire line. There is a place for the more mature content that Slaanesh represents and it should not be removed or retconed because he is so integral to the lore.

    As to the 70’s-80’s vibe all the chaos gods come from that era and are still quite relevant to today. The God of sex, drugs, and rock still is the god of excess and unrestrained desires. She has a place and deserves an expanded line of BDSM boob bearing erotic models!