- "And there shall come seven plagues, and in them you shall read his works, writ in black bile and red ruin across the land. And he shall come amongst you; all shall feel his touch, and wither. In righteous joy, he bestows these gifts. Rejoice!"
- — Imperial Astropath Sythia Zale, moments before her execution
A Great Unclean One is a grotesquely corpulent Greater Daemon of the Plague God Nurgle, the Chaos God of disease, death and decay. These loathsome daemons are the harbingers of the lord of rot and ruin, and amongst Grandfather Nurgle's greatest servants, bearers of his most sacred plagues and poxes. Their forms are squat and mountainous, covered in rotting flesh and open sores that weep foul rivulets of pus. Hot ropes of intestines dribble out of huge tears in their enormous, bloated and distended bellies. This horrific girth is supported by two impossibly small and atrophied-looking legs, and their inordinately large, bulbous heads are crowned by enormous stag-like antlers.
- "Let root rot and bower blight, to feed the plague of fortune."
- —Aghalhor, Bringer of Poxes, Greater Daemon of Nurgle
Great Unclean Ones are facsimiles of the Chaos God himself both physically and in spirit. Every Great Unclean One is also actually Nurgle himself in some sense, and their followers often refer to them as "Papa" or "Father Nurgle." Great Unclean Ones are seldom deathlike or morbid in character; in fact, they are usually motivated by the same trivial enthusiasms that drive the living. They are gregarious and even sentimental in their nature with a remarkable fondness for their followers. They often refer to their followers as their "children" and take great pride in their appearance and oddly endearing behaviour. Indeed, it is not uncommon for Great Unclean Ones to compete amongst themselves in the matter of spreading Nurgle's plaguesome blessings across the galaxy. They take great pride in the achievements of their fellow servants of Nurgle, proclaiming vociferously the splendours of the poxes and sores evidenced by those around them, and laugh heartily at the death and destruction wrought in Nurgle's name.
Their appearances on the mortal plane is heralded with an ear-shattering howl of glee, as they burst through the veil of reality, delighted to walk upon the firmament of realspace once again, spreading their bounty of plagues upon mortals. Often disease and desolation on a planetary scale herald their arrival as entire populations are stricken with the corruption of the Plague Lord's favoured plague which is known as Nurgle's Rot. This disease is the most contagious, rapacious, and most heinous of all sicknesses, poxes, and fevers Father Nurgle has ever conceived. The afflicted mortals slowly suffer as the plague ravages their bodies, turning them into bloated, rotting, living corpses before they succumb to the inevitable, agonising demise. The bile-slick Great Unclean One then waddles through the collapsed cities and the mounds of the dying, happily bestowing his blessings, borne aloft on a living tide of chortling, chattering Nurglings.
In battle, Great Unclean Ones wield enormous rusty blades and maces of iron, crude, corroded cleavers and immense Plague Flails, each one dripping with pestilence. If threatened with bodily harm, the thousands of diminutive Nurglings that follow in the Greater Daemon's wake will attack an unwary opponent, dragging them down in a murderous wave the instant their "father" is attacked. Natural-borne carrion creatures, numbering in the thousands, gather around the Greater Daemon to protect it and trail in its wake. Hordes of sky-blackening flies, rats, vultures, crows, and worms inevitably follow a Great Unclean One's passing.
Great Unclean Ones long ago became inured to pain, a result of their abundant infections, plagues, and virulent sores. Their truly massive size and their ability to withstand almost any level of injury and pain make them dangerous adversaries, as they can absorb astounding amounts of damage before finally falling to the attacks of their foes. These daemon lords possess a hellish prowess which seems at odds with their bulk and squat stature. They barrel into their enemies, laughing boisterously, all the while laying about them with colossal rusty cleavers and seven-headed Plague Flails. The thick cloud of flies which feast at their open sores disrupt the attacks of their enemies and spread the putrid diseases of their host. All the while, the cooing Nurglings form a hideous vanguard for their patriarch and in a playful gesture do all they can to help spread their progenitor's beloved plagues to all those nearby.
Notable Great Unclean OnesEdit
- Botchulaz - Botchulaz was trapped by the Eldar within the psychic construct known as the Black Pyramid on the Imperial Hive World of Aerius. The key to this prison was the artefact known as the Talisman of Lykos, which was split into three pieces, one of which was found on the Space Wolves' homeworld of Fenris, another on the world of Galt and the third in the vaults of the Inquisition. In the late 41st Millennium, Botchulaz manipulated several servants of the Imperium into reuniting the pieces of the talisman and freeing him from his prison, but these Imperial heroes were able to salvage the situation in time to re-imprison the Greater Daemon at the cost of many Imperial lives.
- Gul'gulm'ga'tol - During the Battle of Hamagora in the early 42nd Millennium, the 2nd Company of the Scythes of the Emperor, newly reinforced with Primaris Astartes Battle-Brothers in the wake of the reinforcements brought by the Indomitus Crusade, found itself under siege upon the Hive World of Hamagora, assailed by an endless swarm of Nurgle daemons. Intercessor Squads established a punishing series of kill-zones amongst the ruins of hive city Agrippa, yet for every daemon they slew, two more emerged from the dank tunnels of the undercity, and their casualties began to mount. Operating in total secrecy, Strike Force Harbinger of the Grey Knights' 5th Brotherhood teleported into the sub-city. Their quarry was the Great Unclean One Gul'gulm'ga'tol, who had turned Agrippa's sprawling sewage works into his personal baths -- hordes of putrid daemons crawled endlessly forth from the morass of rancid gruel. After a bloody battle, the strike team sent Gul'gulm'ga'tol screaming back into the Warp. Hamagora was saved, though the Scythes never discovered how.
- Ku'gath the Plaguefather - Ku'gath is driven by an eternal quest to discover the most perfect pestilence that has ever existed.
- Rotigus - As the Death Guard's siege of the Imperial Hive World of Nebbus reaches it seventh standard year in the early 42nd Millennium, Mortarion's Death Guard Sorcerers summon an ancient evil to aid them. The strange Great Unclean One known as Rotigus joins the fight, bringing with him his appalling aura of infernal fecundity. Protein vats in the hives overflow as the flesh-broth within them grows at an unstoppable pace, burying entire levels under flabby drifts of bloated meat. Vermin of every sort enter frenzied cycles of birth and death, the Imperial defenders finding themselves overwhelmed by tides of sump-rats, infestations of grizzleworms and million-strong swarms of ravenous ripper jacks. Worst of all is the deluge of Nurgle, an endless storm of putrid filth-water that seethes with infectious, bacterial life. Soon enough Nebbus' arid plains become quagmires, then stinking oceans that rise higher and higher. The corpse-choked hive cities flood from the roots upward, their last garrisons fleeing ever higher in search of a salvation that does not exist. Blessed beyond endurance by the plentiful generosity of Rotigus and his daemons, methodically cut to pieces by the thundering guns of the Death Guard, it is almost a mercy when the last of Nebbus' defenders meet their grisly deaths.
- Scabeiathrax the Bloated - Also known as Papa G'aap, Lord of the Blighted Pit, Maggotspore, and the Wind of Nurgle, Scabeiathrax was most recently summoned into the mortal realm in 830.M41 by the Forces of Chaos infesting the world of Vraks Prime during the grinding military campaign recorded in Imperial databases as the Siege of Vraks.
- Septicus - Septicus was the Great Unlcean One Roboute Guilliman defeated, along with his daemonic Plague Guard, on the world of Parmenio in the Realm of Ultramar during the Plague Wars of the early 42nd Millennium.
- Slogoth Poxbelly - Slogoth led the Plague Armies of Nurglite daemons against the Fortress World of Cadia during the climax of Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41.
- Ulkair - Ulkair manifested on the world of Aurelia in the 40th Millennium when a Warp Storm engulfed that planet, but he was defeated by the Blood Ravens Space Marine and Librarian named Azariah Kyras. But Aurelia was consumed by a Warp Storm and over the course of their mutual imprisonment Ulkair corrupted Kyras to Chaos, ultimately returning him to realspace to reunite with his Chapter and begin the process of corrupting the Blood Ravens to the service of the Ruinous Powers and heralding the return of Ulkair himself. Ulkair's plans were ultimately disrupted only through the heroism of Captain Gabriel Angelos and his fellow Blood Ravens Loyalists.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 13, 357
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Grey Knights (8th Edition), "Putrid Springs," pg. 25
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 23
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (6th Edition), pg. 46
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (4th Edition), pp. 30, 48
- Codex Heretic Astartes - Death Guard (8th Edition), pg. 22-23
- Dark Imperium (Novel) by Guy Haley, Chs. 16, 20
- Deathwatch - Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pg. 102
- Imperial Armour: Apocalypse, pg. 98
- Imperial Armour: Apocalypse, Second Edition, pg. 103
- Imperial Armour Volume 7 - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pp. 166-167
- Liber Chaotica (Background Book), pp. 278-279
- Ragnar's Claw (Novel) by William King
- Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned (2nd Edition), pg. 13
- Dawn of War II - Chaos Rising (PC Game)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (8th Edition), pp. 53, 158, 161