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40K Lore: Nurgle – Lord of Flies

7 Minute Read
Aug 22 2017

Come quickly Loremasters, for today we speak of the dread lord of corruption: the chaos god Nurgle.

Nurgle is one of the four major Ruinous Powers. He is the the oldest of the four, most probably because he is the God of Death and Decay and those two have been part of the galaxy since the beginning. His titles include the Plague Father, Fly Lord, Great Corruptor, Plague Lord, Master of Pestilence, Lord of Decay (the translation of his Dark Tongue name, Nurgh-leth) and represents morbidity, disease and physical corruption.

Of the four Gods of Chaos, Nurgle is said to be the most involved with the plight of mortals. Those afflicted by his contagions often turn to him in order to escape their suffering. The physical likeness of Nurgle is described as gigantic and bloated with corruption, with foul-coloured, leathery and necrotic skin.

Nurgle can also be regarded as the Lord of All, because all things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to physical corruption:

“Indeed, the very process of construction and creation foreshadow destruction and decay. The palace of today is tomorrow’s ruin, the maiden of the morning is the crone of the night, and the hope of a moment is but the foundation stone of everlasting regret.”

All the Chaos gods are embodiments of the hopes, fears and other strong emotions and concepts generated by the mortal races. In Nurgle’s case, the source of power is the living’s fear of inevitable death and disease, and their unconscious response to that fear, which is the “power of life”, the motivating power of mankind and other races.


Appearance & Demeanor

His maw is ulcerated and has many lesser mouths that cover his bulk. When the mortal realms are tormented by plagues Nurgle swells like a blood-bloated tick. During these events his leathery skin stretches so wide that not even the smallest of Nurglings can nestle inside him. Yet when diseases weaken, the god shrinks into a ragged mass, covered in flaps of haggard skin, swinging and rippling with every step

Nurgle and his daemons, in contrast to their putrid appearance, are jovial and friendly in demeanor. His daemon servants and mortal followers usually demonstrate a disturbing joviality and joy at the pestilence that he inflicts, seeing the plagues as gifts and the cries of their victims as gratitude rather than agony. This is demonstrated on the Daemon World of Bubonicus, where an endless chain of crazed revellers circle the planet’s equator in a never-ending dance.


Nurgle is often referred to as Grandfather Nurgle, Father Nurgle or Papa Nurgle by his followers because of his paternal nature.

His main enemy is Tzeentch, the Lord of Change, because their power comes from opposing sources. Tzeentch is hope and ambition, while Nurgle is defiance born of despair and hopelessness.


Nurgle’s Realm

The Garden of Nurgle is Nurgle’s realm within the Warp. This unwholesome realm is home to every pox and affliction imaginable and is alive with the stench of rot. This ‘garden’ is not a barren wasteland, but rather a macabre paradise of death and pestilence. A thick sheet of buzzing swarms of black, furry flies litter the sky, and twisted, rotten boughs entangled with grasping vines cover the mouldering ground, beneath an insect-ravaged canopy of leaves. Defiled fungi both plain and extraordinary break through the leaf-strewn mulch of the forest floor, puffing out vile clouds of spores. Muddy rivers slither across the bloated landscape. Nurgle’s Mansion of rotted timbers and broken walls resides at the heart of the garden; decrepit and ancient, yet eternally strong at its foundations. It is within these tumbling walls that Nurgle toils at his cauldron, a receptacle vast enough to contain all the oceans of the worlds of the galaxy.

Nurgle keeps his companion Isha trapped in a cage in the garden of Nurgle, in the corner of a room where he keeps the cauldron in which he creates all of his plagues. Being a goddess of healing, Isha can cure herself of any of Nurgle’s diseases. Nurgle takes advantage of this by force-feeding her his latest creation and sees how long it takes the goddess to overcome its effects. If he is pleased, he releases it upon some unsuspecting world, if not, he starts over, working at his cauldron until he has something new to give to his ‘companion’. Whilst he is busy working though, Isha takes advantage of his distraction to instruct mortals on how to rid themselves of Nurgle’s poxes.

When Nurgle’s power waxes, the Garden blooms, encroaching on the lands of the other Chaos Gods. Nurgle’s enemies would fight back, and the Plaguebearers would take up arms to defend it. Although the Garden will recede again, it would still have fed deeply on the essence of those who have fallen in such wars, and will lie in gestate peace until it is ready to bloom again.

Followers of Nurgle

Like the other Chaos Gods, Nurgle has a multitude of followers across the galaxy, drawn from all mortal species.


The followers of Nurgle often pit themselves against those of Tzeentch in complex political intrigues, forever attempting to mire his schemes for change with dull-minded conservationisms and parochial self-interest. Their influence is often successful in thwarting Tzeentch, knowing that whatever survives the collapse into entropy becomes theirs.

The church of the Fly Lord is always open to all.

Daemons of Nurgle

The Daemons of Nurgle are putrid in appearance and sickening to look upon. Their skin is filled with the fever-heat of corruption, their innards pushing through the lesions in their skin, and their bodies ooze with putrid slime. However Nurgle’s daemons are often cheerful, energetic beings that show a disturbingly friendly demeanor, they are jovial in their work and show pride great pride in their achievements.

  • Great Unclean Ones – the Greater Daemons of Nurgle, massive, bloated disease-carriers, often carrying a blade known as a Plague Sword into battle. These massive, rusted blades are said to be dipped in the foul pus and contagion at the base of Nurgle’s throne. Great Unclean Ones are unlike the Great Daemons of other Powers, in that where the latter are essentially just immensely powerful servants, the Great Unclean Ones are each facsimiles of Nurgle himself, both physically and in terms of their personality. In other words, every Great Unclean One is also Nurgle. Thus these followers often refer to these daemons as ‘Papa’, ‘Nurgle’ or ‘Father Nurgle’. Despite their completely bloated and putrid appearance, Great Unclean Ones are neither deathlike or morbid in character. In fact the opposite is true, and the daemons are motivated by all the trivial human enthusiasms which drive the living. They are gregarious and even sentimental in nature, and hold their followers dear, even referring to them as their “Children”, and taking an obvious pride in their appearance and endearing behavior.
  • Plaguebearers – the common Daemons of Nurgle, having a vaguely humanoid appearance with a single burning eye. They are often referred to as the ‘Tallymen of Nurgle’ for they constantly strive to number the poxes and represent the need of humanity to impose order on a chaotic and uncaring universe. A single scratch from their rusted swords is sufficient to bestow a plague that sends it’s host to Nurgle’s realm. They have special combat abilities allowing them to hurt enemies no matter how tough they are and are consumed with Nurgle’s Rot. The most powerful Plaguebearers will serve as Plague Drones, the heavy cavalry of Nurgle’s armies.
  • Nurglings – daemonic servants of Nurgle, they look like miniature representations of Nurgle, with friendly, mischievous faces. They are gregarious, agile and constantly active. They attack an enemy in vast swarms, overwhelming them by their numbers. Nurglings are often found, following the shadow of Champions of Nurgle or gathering in hordes around Great Unclean Ones. When attacking they use their claws, which are infected by plagues and diseases, to drag down larger enemies where they can use their venomous bites.
  • Beasts of Nurgle – huge, happy, slug-like creatures that slither across the battlefield leaving a trail of slime behind them. They incarnate the Plague Lord’s bountiful excitement, and show a friendy nature utterly at odds with the deadly consequences they bring about.


Notable Followers of Nurgle

Learn More of Nurgle and His Followers


~ I think I feel a fever coming on. Oh dear…

Author: Larry Vela
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