Slaanesh

Slaanesh is depicted, in both Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy as the youngest of the four major gods. Like his brother gods, Slaanesh grew from a single survivalist emotion: in his case, the emotion was pleasure. He is the god of excess, hedonism, pride, aestheticism and self indulgence; he is also known as the Dark Prince or the Prince of Excess.

Slaanesh is described as taking many forms, be they female or male, even hermaphroditic or androgynous. In any case, he is always unnaturally beautiful, and irresistible to mortals who view him. Slaanesh is regarded by humans as being male, with the notable exception that the Eldar race of Warhammer 40,000 refers to Slaanesh as a female, normally referring to "her" as She Who Thirsts or the Great Enemy. The correct adjective to indicate individuals and events related to this God is "Slaaneshi".

In the original Realm of Chaos tome Slaves to Darkness which remains the best and most comprehensive body of reference on the cult of Slaanesh the God in its original form is said to be a statuesque hermaphrodite with the right side of the body being female and the left one male. Slaanesh is depicted as being endowed with a large mane of hair from which a double set of bull-like horns (one larger and a smaller one inside the first pair) do protrude. The God is also said to wield at all time an arcane golden wand which serves as receptacle of much of its awesome power and to be its greatest treasure.

Slaanesh is opposed by the Chaos God Khorne. Slaaneshi act inwardly by enjoying every experience and every act; whereas Khornites act outwardly through rage-fuelled violence. Khorne detests Slaanesh's decadence, where Slaanesh detests Khorne as crude and deeply unsophisticated. In both game settings, this relationship effects the armies dedicated to either god.

Cult of Slaanesh

Slaanesh's followers seek pleasure in every experience, and quickly become inured to more mundane things, including sounds and colors; thus they frequently wear garish, brightly colored armour, or clothing which is extravagantly decorated. In Warhammer Fantasy, worshippers of Slaanesh are known for their complete lack of fear, as they see losing a battle as a new experience to be enjoyed.

In Warhammer 40,000, he is served primarily by Chaos Space Marines of the Emperor's Children legion, although he is not served exclusively by them. Chaos Space Marines worshipping Slaanesh frequently take to the battlefield wielding unusual sonic weaponry; these warriors are often called Noise Marines. Slaanesh-worshipping Chaos Marines also have the ability to emit piercing shrieks which can disorient their foes, giving an advantage in combat.

Slaanesh's nature makes him extremely seductive; because of this, he has had very important roles in the backstories for both Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000.

  • In Warhammer Fantasy, it was the Cult of Slaanesh which contributed to the corruption of the High Elves who would eventually become the Dark Elves. While most Dark Elves do not worship Slaanesh, the mother of Witch King Malekith, Morathi, was held captive by the Cult of Slaanesh, and it is said that she was corrupted while in captivity; this corruption likely spread to her son. Morathi still rules over the Cult of Slaanesh that remains among the Dark Elves.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, it was the birth of Slaanesh which nearly annihilated the Eldar race and led to the rise of the Imperium; this catastrophic event is known as the Fall of the Eldar. The surviving Eldar factions still live in fear of Slaanesh, who seeks to finish destroying their race; much of the background for the Eldar factions involves this relationship.

The daemons available to Slaanesh's armies are:

  • Daemonettes - are feminine-looking creatures whose seductive bodies are at contrast with their grotesque claws. They are lightning quick, and fearsome foes in hand to hand combat.
  • Keepers of Secrets - the greater daemons of Slaanesh, are huge and powerful creatures whose very presence is capable of bringing the bravest warrior to his knees in anguish and ecstasy. They typically have four arms- two which end with human-like hands, and two which end with large crab-like claws. A Keeper of Secrets is a very powerful foe in close combat.
  • Steeds of Slaanesh - are bipedal smooth-skinned creatures with prehensile tongues, vaguely resembling seahorses. Their fleshy-crested heads have long tubular snouts that contain their prehensile, poisonous tongue.
  • Fiends of Slaanesh - are grotesque creatures bearing resemblance to an unholy combination of reptile, scorpion and human. Their barbed tails are poisoned and they exude a musky scent capable of dazing and disorienting foes.
  • Mounted Daemonettes - are Daemonettes riding Steeds of Slaanesh.