The Dark Prince is back at last, as 2021 gets underway. Let’s go back and look at Slaanesh’s ins and outs over the decades.
Way back in the mid 1980s, the Chaos Gods were still an unformed idea, and Warhammer Fantasy had several editions without them. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay came out in 1986 with the first inklings of the chaos Pantheon, but only included Khorne and Nurgle.
Realms of Chaos
Then came the seminal Realms of Chaos hardcovers in 1988 and 1990. the first volume, Slaves to Darkness blew the doors off and introduced the opposing Ruinous Powers of Khorne and Slaanesh. Back in the late 80s and very early 90s, Chaos had a much more adult and hard-edged texture, that would be sanded smooth over the decades.
The volume gave us all the initial background for the Dark Prince in both Warhammer Fantasy and the then brand new Warhammer 40,000. We got the full range of Slaanesh Daemons, the origin story of the Fall of the Eldar, a lot of fairly non-child friendly descriptions of mutations, daemonic gifts and weapons, and a lot of exposed breasts all over the place. The original Emperor’s Children armylist and background came from this tome. Good times and all in all an enormously influential wellspring of Slaanesh.
The Middle Years
For the next 13 years, Slaanesh would slowly mature. Miniatures would be updates, more lore expanded, and new followers such as Sigvald would be introduced. Five more editions of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40K apiece would come and go. This was the long middle period for not only Slaanesh, but the entire Chaos Pantheon, which would swell into a major faction in both Warhammer universes. But as 2013 came to a close, change was on the horizon, and Slaanesh would be affected the most of the entire Chaos pantheon.
End Times: 2014
In 2014, the five-part END TIMES series literally destroyed the Warhammer Fantasy Old World and everything along with it. It started slowly with Nagash’s return and ended with the Chaos Gods utterly ascendant. This in lore would be the high-water mark for Slaanesh who won, consuming all the souls of the Elves in his gluttony.
Age of Sigmar 2015
Those who were playing still remember the utter shock. No one could quite believe that GW actually did it. Age of Sigmar was introduced a couple of months later in 2015 and with it came a series of all new background books for the new Mortal Realms. As with the Old World, Chaos was the ultimate antagonist, and when the chaos pantheon was unveiled – it threw everyone for a loop!
The Chaos Pantheon had a big changeup with the Great Horned Rat being added (PROMOTION!), and Slaanesh’s throne being empty (DEMOTION), and the god vanished. The followers of Slaanesh would sit on their hands and search in vain for four long years. We got hints of exactly what went down in the Daughters of Khaine and Idoneth Deepkin books that shared glimmers of the Aelf imprisonment of the Dark Prince, and the tiny cracks in the system that would eventually bear fruit. During this time, we saw GW going through and updating the other parts of the Chaos pantheon – minus Slaanesh.
Hedonites of Slaanesh: 2019
But all that would change in 2019 with the Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome and its big range of all-new Slaanesh minis; the first since late Warhammer Fantasy. The centerpiece was the Keeper of Secrets and boy was it worth the wait. We also saw new Fiends, Masque, and new characters. It was a wonderful time for the fans of the Dark Prince, but he remained imprisoned and the inevitable jailbreak was still a year in the future.
Broken Realms Morathi : 2020
Finally, the jailbreak occurred not as the main attraction, but almost an afterthought by a duplicitous Morathi in the opening book of the Broken Realms series. The new infant Slaanesh is out in the wild, and new followers are flocking to him. As we head into 2021, a new updated Hedonites Battletome is imminent and a boatload of new minis is here to reward the true-believers who never game up hope that the Dark Prince would return.
So put on your best looking outfit, glam up your hair, pull out the glitter, and order that extravagant dinner you’ve had your eye on. Pamper yourself, because Slaanesh is back!
Ahem…Fulgrim would like a word…