Throughout the cosmos, shrieks of thousands of thoughts form the Warp. It is a metaphysical place of spirit, though it has become a dark mirror to the material world in Warhammer 40k. In it dwell many dangerous entities, most fiendish of which are the four Chaos Gods.
Youngest among them is Slaanesh, the God of pleasure and pain. Far from a welcome addition, Slaanesh’s birth caused many disasters. Such was the mark this Chaos God left that there are many names they are known as: She Who Thirsts, Prince of Pleasure, Lord of Dark Delights, Prince of Chaos, and many more.
Introduction to Slaanesh
Each Chaos God gets their own domain, has a history of its creation, and plentiful followers to aid their goals. Slaanesh is no different, despite being the youngest of the Chaos Gods, the Lord of Dark Delights has many acolytes.
Slaanesh, a major Chaos god in the Warhammer universe, embodies the darker side of hedonism with an insatiable appetite for excess, pleasure, and indulgence.
This alluring yet unsettling deity is often depicted as an androgynous being, adorned with symbols such as the six-pointed star, stylized “S” shape, and erotic imagery.
The followers of Slaanesh are notorious for their hedonistic and pleasure-seeking ways, pursuing a range of excesses from carnal pleasures to the thrill of battle. Its influence pervades the Warhammer world, from the debauched society of the Dark Elves to the twisted, mutated followers of Chaos.
The Domain of Slaanesh: Pleasure and Pain
Unlike the fierce and straightforward domains of Khorne, Slaanesh prefers a more subtle approach. Pleasure, pain, and overindulgence are domains of the Dark Prince. Drawing with themselves many earthly sins such as pride and gluttony.
Slaanesh is comparable to Tzeentch in the longevity of corruption. Though Tzeentch usually schemes for the extra satisfaction complexity brings him, Slaanesh’s long-term corruption brews from the slow dulling of the senses.
When a person becomes inured to standard pleasures, they start to seek other ways to satisfy them. These may be found in other realms of Slaanesh’s domain such as pain or overindulgence. Though pleasure may be found further yet, in the dark rites of this particular Chaos God.
The Importance of Slaanesh in Warhammer 40k: His Place in the Chaos Pantheon
Slaanesh has been a very recent addition to the Pantheon. As such, there’s some dispute among the more “experienced” entities about the Prince’s position. The most opposed to Slaanesh is Khorne, whose impulsive and brutal domains act inversely to the God of Pleasure’s domains.
Temptations from this Chaos God are varied. Greed, lust, pride, and gluttony can all lead to Slaanesh’s embrace. Hence why those living the life of luxury often find themselves corrupted by this Chaos God.
Slaanesh is the God most closely associated with feelings of sapient races. Hence why a lot of concepts that fall under Slaanesh’s domain express a colorful spectrum of emotions and experiences.
Slaanesh’s influence can be seen throughout the Warhammer 40k universe. The Chaos God’s role in Warhammer 40k is to represent the seductive power of temptation and excess and to provide a source of corruption and temptation for those who fall to its influence.
Slaanesh’s influence can be seen in various factions and races in the Warhammer 40k universe, including the Dark Eldar, Chaos Space Marines, and Chaos Daemons.
The Lore of Slaanesh
No Chaos God is complete without some fluff. It’s no different with Slaanesh. If anything, the Prince of Dark Pleasures may be among the more unique and impactful Chaos Gods. Especially considering the circumstances of their birth.
Slaanesh was fully formed during the Fall of Eldar. An event that occurred in the early 30th millennium.
The Eldar became extremely decadent and hedonistic in their complacency. Their empire was at the height of its success, ruling the galaxy with no competitors. Indulging their pleasures for thousands of years, these nigh-immortal aliens invited their own doom.
Slaanesh was born with a devastating psychic shriek that shook the souls of all Eldar and destroyed much of their homeworlds. The birth of the Chaos God also opened a rift between the material and spirit world, a rift named the Eye of Terror. The survivors of the Eldar race had to fully reform their society, forever living in fear of Slaanesh whom they call the Great Enemy.
Even the Eldar deities were slain during this event. The only survivors are Isha, Goddess of Healing and Cegorach, the Laughing God. God of War, Khaine, technically still persists. Though his existence was shattered into a million pieces, he can still manifest a fraction of his power in the form of the Avatar of Khaine.
Beliefs of Slaanesh
The hedonism of Slaanesh is the most notable part of worship. The followers of Slaanesh indulge in it no matter their personality. Even the most well-armed of cultists drape their fortresses with luxurious goods and exotic items.
The endless pursuit of gratification and indulgence for its own sake are key beliefs of all Slaaneshi worshippers. Through these, Slaanesh and the worshippers of this Dark God aim to overthrow all decent behavior.
Mythology of Slaanesh
It is said that Slaanesh lives in the Palace of Slaanesh, a realm of the Chaos God that exists within the Warp. The realm itself is separated into domains, of which there are six. The domains are separated by names and the effects they leave upon intruders.
Circle of Avidity: tempts the greed of the person with plentiful treasures found within, trying to claim any will result in parasites turning the victims into golden statues
Circle of Gluttony: as the name dictates, it’s all about drinks and food here. A single taste bloats the victim until they die from their own weight.
Circle of Carnality: as one would assume, it’s filled with tempting attractive women. However, these are disguised Daemonettes who will kill and eat the person that gets close to them.
Circle of Paramountcy: temptations of personal power that showcase legions of followers to the people entering. If they stay within the domain, they will become paranoid about their subjects and afraid to leave.
Circle of Vainglory: a thick garden that sings praises to the passerby. Should the person feel prideful of their achievements they will start straying from the path, eventually swallowed by thorns.
Circle of Indolency: Filled with comfortable sounds and smells, this circle is cozy and soothing. Staying within it will rob you of any motivation and eventually have you crumble into the sands.
The sacred number of Slaanesh is 6. This number can be found in any part of Chaos God’s organization or representation. Sometimes affecting the appearance of their daemons too. The significance of the number extends to the domains of Slaanesh.
Serving the Chaos God of pain and pleasure is satisfying in itself. However, those that showcase particular dedication are awarded more peculiar boons. Of course, failing to uphold the worship or displeasing Slaanesh in any way will swiftly lead to horrible curses.
- Mastery of the senses and emotions:
Slaanesh, as the god of indulgence and excess, holds immense power over the senses and emotions of all beings, whether mortal or immortal.
Slaanesh possesses the capability to manipulate and magnify their desires and emotions, thereby controlling their sensations of pleasure and pain, ecstasy and agony.
Moreover, Slaanesh can influence the senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, thereby enabling it to create experiences that are beyond human comprehension.
- Psychic powers:
Slaanesh is endowed with the extraordinary ability to manipulate psychic energy and bend reality to its will. This means that it can create illusions, alter thoughts, and even bring its desires into physical existence.
- Superhuman physical abilities:
The worshippers of Slaanesh, including the likes of Daemonettes and Keepers of Secrets, are endowed with remarkable physical prowess. They exhibit exceptional strength, speed, agility, and endurance that surpass that of ordinary mortals.
Additionally, they possess a remarkable resistance to physical and psychic assaults.
- Corruption and mutation:
Slaanesh can corrupt and mutate living beings, causing physical and mental changes that enhance their desire for pleasure or turn them into grotesque monsters.
- Summoning and controlling daemons:
Slaanesh is able to summon and control a group of demonic entities collectively known as the “Fiends of Slaanesh”.
These entities comprise Daemonettes, Seekers of Slaanesh, and Fiends, and are at the disposal of Slaanesh’s devoted followers to carry out their will.
Among the boons, Slaanesh can give the ability to charm people, enthrall them under the worshipper’s command, and give thousands of senses to the person. The control over certain daemons or mystical weapons may also be one of the boons.
Among the curses of Slaanesh, there are many. Though Chaos Prince is keener on corrupting than cursing, there are some. A known curse was levied against a daemon. This curse made the said daemon dance forever.
There have been multiple times when Slaanesh exercised the daemonic powers to induce emotions and cause mayhem. One such event is documented to have happened during an orchestra performance.
The writer of the musical piece was possessed to write an unsettling daemonic symphony. Upon the performance of the symphony, the audience erupted into lustful and violent behavior.
The Daemons of Slaanesh
Reflections of the Chaos God they serve, Slaanesh daemons are hedonistic and revel in combat. Though their nature always has something human to it, it’s heavily perverted in appearance.
Androgynous daemons of Slaanesh, Daemonettes are the most common among his host. Their appearance is usually split in two, literally, with one side being male and another female.
The Daemonettes have crab claws instead of hands and often manifest other mutations. Though inhuman, they are often seen as far more appealing by the unsuspecting victims who see these fiends as their perfect image of beauty.
Seekers of Slaanesh
The cavalry of the Slaaneshi armies, Seekers are Daemonettes who ride the Steeds of Slaanesh. These steeds are bipedal, with a serpentine body that ends in a narrow head. From their mouth, a poisonous tongue darts out, reaching several meters in length.
Riders and steeds alike seek new experiences. As is in line with Slaanesh, they are always keen to indulge in new pleasures while they eviscerate their foes. A full squadron of these potent cavalry daemons is called Heartseekers. A name inspired by their general role as hunters of Slaanesh.
Some other daemons that aid Slaanesh include:
- Hate-Angel: flying Daemonettes
- Infernal Enrapturess: daemons that sing upon morbid instruments
- Cackling Daemonhost: a Dark Eldar fusion of a bound Slaaneshi daemon
Followers of Slaanesh are all about pleasure and indulgence. Though generally, people attribute mostly erotic ones to the Prince of Pleasure, the truth is that this is merely a fragment of the powers the Chaos God wields. Gluttony, pride, excess, and pain are all things that can lead one to Slaanesh.
Slaanesh’s Mortal Champions: The Emperor’s Children Legion
Third of the Space Marine Legions, the Emperor’s Children were formed out of nobles from Terra, 40k universe’s name for Earth. Their noble origins remained even as the Space Marines roamed across the galaxy, with many houses sending their youngest to become part of the legion.
Their primarch, Fulgrim, and the legion itself were perfectionists. Often exceeding the expectations of the Emperor, no matter the task. They were natural leaders and would gladly fight alongside regular humans, despite this action being seen as beneath a regular Space Marine.
Unfortunately, through their pride and Fulgrim’s corruption at the hands of a powerful daemon, the legion fell to Chaos. By the time the Siege of Terra came to pass, any form of nobility was lost from the once proud legions.
After their fall, they are also known as the Lords of Profligacy. Fulgrim himself was turned into a daemon prince, his humanity fully forfeit. Most of their numbers became Noise Marines, a Slaaneshi Chaos Marine of a unique make.
Noise Marines are capable of experiencing sound, unlike any other being, to such an extent that their entire brains can feel the sound.
The more discordant and loud the sound is, the more pleasing it is to the Noise Marines. They often reflect a mutual belief in continuing the so-called Song of Slaanesh. It is said this song, referred to as Ur-Song, is what brought Slaanesh to existence and maintains the Chaos God.
Hence why Noise Marines are often more concerned with the song than other conflicts in the world. Which has become the purpose of the Emperor’s Children after their fall.
Keeper of Secrets
The Greater Daemons of Slaanesh represent a fragment of the Chaos God’s power. They are each born with a unique appearance, one determined by the mood of Slaanesh at the given moment. Some look bestial, some humanoid but all share in the terrifying visage of daemons.
Keepers of Secrets are more dangerous than most daemons, as these lithe creations are both capable warriors and spellcasters. Most of these are of mental variety, aiming to distress or charm the enemies.
These greater daemons seek to give and receive sensation, indulging in the corruption of those noblest among mankind. Their sheer presence invokes confusion, pacifying the foes of Slaanesh.
Fiends of Slaanesh
Notable for being the most confusing of the Daemonic Beasts, the Fiends of Slaanesh are a mix of multiple creatures. They have reptilian, insectoid, and human characteristics along with behavior that fits none of the three.
Aside from this, Fiends of Slaanesh twirl around in the biology-defying whirlwind. Slicing foes to bits with little issue. They can balance on their tails and run side-to-side, confusing any enemy caught in melee with the Fiends.
- Cult of Frantic Flensing
- Cult of the Hedonic Lord
- Pirate Princes of the Ragged Helix
- Flesh Shapers of Melancholia
- Hollow Cult
Slaanesh’s Influence in Other Factions
Slaanesh spreads wherever there’s pride to be found and nobility to be usurped. The idea of pleasure is exceptionally tempting in a grim and dangerous world such as Warhammer 40k’s:
- Flickering Blades
- Thirsting Brethren
- Ripping Nails
- The Consortium
- Phoenix Conclave
- Cohors Nasicae
- The Golden Host
- The Decadent Horde
- House Glaw
- Riotous Host
Slaanesh in Gameplay
Daemons of Slaanesh are speedy, with a focus on melee similar to Khorne. Though Slaanesh doesn’t suffer from a lack of psykers, unlike the Blood God.
Slaanesh’s Strengths and Weaknesses
A key strength of the armies of Slaanesh is speed. These agile daemons and acolytes can cross large parts of the map unbothered. Often positioning themselves in a manner that best compromises the opponent’s flank.
The speed is used to get into melee, where the variety of exotic weaponry can do its job. Crashing down on the enemies in a way distinctly different from Khorne.
Where that difference shines the most is in the durability of Slaanesh units. They are far more fragile than the Blood God’s host, preferring to make quick work of the enemy before being retaliated against.
Getting caught in an unfavorable position is far more troubling to Slaanesh too. Which is why it pays to be careful with your engagements.
Slaanesh in Different Game Modes
Slaaneshi daemons are generally favored by matched play. Their strongest unit being Keeper of Secrets, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll bring a maximum amount of them. They are single-model units which are great in 9th edition due to it generally discouraging large blobs.
Narrative play can be a bit tricky. Aside from standard Keepers of Secrets which may be scarcer in narrative play, you’d also rely on named characters. This makes the army generally less potent but it’s fun nonetheless.
Open play also gives Slaanesh the ability to maximize the use of its units. Though more defensive missions can be a bit of a drag for the speedy daemons.
Slaanesh Best Units and Tactics
With Slaanesh, a lot of list building depends on your style. However, it’s likely that each list will include about 2-3 Keepers of Secrets. The rest is up to the player to decide.
Among the best units for a Slaaneshi army, we have the following:
- Fiends of Slaanesh
- Keeper of Secrets
- Slaanesh Chariots
- Infernal Enrapturess
Even more than Khorne, do not let the enemy get proper shots on you. Slaanesh has alright armor saves but nothing that won’t be decimated with focused fire.
Trap enemy gunlines with superior speed to endanger their ranged capabilities. Use your weakened units to sit on objectives while the fully efficient ones make their way forward.
Slaanesh is the youngest but quite dangerous Chaos God. Finding extra joy in corruption and pleasure than any of the other gods, Slaanesh can be extremely terrifying.
The pleasure and pain of Slaanesh flow frequently. Often hidden from the eyes of the public, Slaaneshi cultists can seep into every facet of humanity without anybody noticing. At least not until it’s too late.