- "Beyond the circle of light, there are countless slaves to darkness who know nothing but hate and madness. They look on the Imperium and see only the possibility of fire and death—and they find that good"
- — Inquisitor Glavius Wroth
The Lost and the Damned is the name collectively given to the multitude of beings that have turned to Chaos over the millennia, the vast majority of whom are the ordinary mortals who fight for Chaos. They are not a single coherent force, but rather a diverse and infinite collection of warbands and hosts under the leadership of Chaos Champions, also known in official Imperial parlance as Renegades and Heretics. In order to fulfil their own agendas, Champions of Chaos draw lesser Chaotic followers to them. They form personal armies that can vary tremendously in size and strength. Often the Champion is a powerful demagogue, Apostate Confessor or Cardinal of the Ecclesiarchy, Traitor or Arch-Heretic. In some cases it is even a mighty Chaos Space Marine who has left his Traitor Legion or Renegade Chapter with his retinue of corrupted Astartes so that he may start his own warband and carve out his own dominion across the galaxy. Occasionally a group of the Lost and the Damned may be the dedicated mortal support of a Traitor Astartes warband, such as those that support the Black Legion and the Alpha Legion. During a Black Crusade, however, individual Chaos Champions will put aside their petty wars and rivalries for the common cause of Chaos Undivided. At these times, the Lost and the Damned form a nigh unstoppable tide that attacks with seemingly inexhaustible numbers.
- "The so called purity of the Imperium is a notion worthy of a capering fool. Lurking under every stone there is some glorious eyeless thing, some dark secret of corruption, something branded with darkness."
- — Attributed to Tobias Belasco
The Lost and the Damned consist of the scum of the galaxy -- traitors to the Imperium, Heretics, Chaos Cultists, mutants, the mortal denizens of Chaos-controlled ships, worlds and the Warp, and other horrors too numerous to comprehend, such as the insane Chaos Spawn.
In order to fulfill their own agendas, the Champions of Chaos draw lesser Chaos followers to them, or simply fool loyal citizens into fighting for them. They form personal armies that can vary tremendously in size and strength. Often the Champion is a powerful demagogue, perhaps born in the Eye or an Imperial traitor or Arch-Heretic to the God-Emperor or Machine-God. In some cases it is even an Aspiring Chaos Champion - a mighty Chaos Space Marine who has left his Legion or Chapter with his retinue so that he may start his own warband and carve out his own dominion in the galaxy. However, during a Black Crusade or in the face of an Imperial push into Chaos-controlled territory, like the Ophidian Campaign or the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, individual Chaos Champions will put aside their petty wars and rivalries for a common cause and the Lost and the Damned form a nigh unstoppable tide that attacks with seemingly inexhaustible numbers.
The Lost and the Damned often form militant cults and sometimes are formed as military armies ranging from small-scale forces to hordes of millions of soldiers. Whilst sometimes Chaos Space Marines, daemons or deified Heretek members of the Dark Mechanicus command the Lost and the Damned, in most instances, renegade warbands are composed only of mortal soldiers, militias and mutants. Sometimes it is individual regiments or portions of regiments of the Imperial Guard, Planetary Defense Forces or elements of Mechanicus Tech-Guard that turn from the God-Emperor's or Machine-God's divine light to the darkness of the Forces of Chaos, providing the needed firepower. Others are the military forces of Chaos-controlled planets, the armsmen and assault forces of Chaos vessels, even the slaves flung into battle by their uncaring overlords. Others may be the citizenry of Imperial planets armed and fervent in rebellion. Often Mutants or unskilled cultists may make up the bulk of armies. Whilst mutants are found and relatively accepted within the Imperium, once converted to Chaos, their bodies are changed with many more disturbing and disgusting mutations - "gifts" from the Chaos Gods - adorning their once-human bodies. Whatever their component and origin, the Renegade and Heretic warbands of the Lost and the Damned can be a deadly foe to face
Champions of Chaos
In the Immaterium, similar thoughts and emotions of the sentient beings of the galaxy join together like rivulets of water running down a cliffside. They form streams and flows of anguish and desire, pools of hatred and oceans of pride. For billions of standard years these tides and waves of psychic energy have flowed unceasingly through the Warp and such is their power that they eventually formed creatures hewed from the energy of the Empyrean. These instinctual, formless entities eventually gained rudimentary consciousness and the Chaos Gods were born -- great psychic presences composed of the best dreams and worst nightmares of the galaxy's mortals. As the sentient races of the galaxy prospered and grew, their hopes and dreams, their rage and conflicts and their loves and hatreds, all fed the growth of the Chaos Gods and nurtured their power. Eventually, the gods reached into the dreams of mortals to demand both their praise and their service.
A Chaos God can only increase its power through the collective actions and thoughts of the galaxy's mortals, regardless of their species of origin. Those who worship a Chaos God and behave in a way that feeds its psychic nature are rewarded with strange gifts, mutations, extraordinary psychic powers and potentially the greatest reward -- ascension as an immortal Daemon Prince. As the Chaos Gods battle one another within the Warp and the Realm of Chaos, so to do their followers wage war upon one another in the material universe. The victors of these battles earn more power for their masters, although the machinations and natures of the Chaos Gods are such that often a victory is unnecessary, merely the acts of sacrifice and battle in and of themselves.
When the devotees of Chaos die, their psychic energy, their souls in the Warp, do not fade away to an unknown destination, are not destroyed and are not devoured by daemons like the souls of others. Instead their souls are swallowed by the collective power of the gods, sustaining them and increasing the eternal power of Chaos.
Although untold billions of sentients worship the Chaos Gods under a myriad of different guises, names and aspects, for the majority of those who serve Chaos, the Dark Gods offer simply the chance for more power and wealth in a universe where such things are rarely easily attained. But there are those few men and women who dedicate their lives to becoming true warriors of the Chaos Gods. For these devotees, the allure of Chaos is even stronger. The Champions of Chaos have a deep, fervent belief in the Ruinous Powers and their commitment is total: they swear themselves body and soul, in this life and beyond, to Chaos.
Those who dedicate themselves to the service of Chaos are doomed to an all-or-nothing existence as Chaos Champions in the service of one of the Dark Gods, or even of Chaos Undivided. The reward for those who please their god is ultimate power; for those who fail it is only eternal oblivion. To achieve greatness in the eyes of their god, Chaos Champions will perform any act, no matter how immoral, insane or vile. A Champion of Chaos does not simply praise and venerate the Chaos Gods, he swears his life and soul to their service, bargaining away his own essence in exchange for power and the rewards of their patronage. Granted the forbidden knowledge and strength of Chaos, a Champion can lead armies, conquer whole worlds and achieve greatness and ultimately, immortality. At the same time, the gods who choose to favour this Champion can bring their influence to bear upon him, so that even as he furthers his own ambitions, he also furthers the dominance and plots of his patrons. Chaos Champions are the leaders of the Forces of Chaos and the majority of them are Chaos Space Marines, though some have far more mundane origins. It is a great irony that the same abilities that make Space Marines the greatest defenders of the Imperium are also extraordinary assets for those who would become the most potent warriors of the Chaos Gods.
The genetic alterations that create a Space Marine also make Astartes more resistant to the mutational affects of exposure to the energies of Chaos, which allows a Chaos Space Marine to better survive the attentions of his often-capricious new patrons. Just as their bodies benefit from the changes wrought upon them by the ancient technologies pioneered by the Emperor, so too are the minds of Space Marines honed to an incredible focus and possessed of a potent force of will. These are qualities that stand a man in great stead if he wishes to become a Chaos Champion. Those who lack a certain clarity of thought, the mental steel required to be successful, will soon be engulfed and lost in the constant anarchy of service to Chaos or will be swiftly overthrown and slain by more ambitious and ruthless subordinates and comrades. Chaos cares little for loyalty -- power is given to those strong enough to claim its rewards.
Save for a few Champions dedicated to the most pure service of Khorne, Chaos Champions do not live and fight alone. Other followers of Chaos are drawn to them, either through the will of the gods or through the draw of a Champion's own glory and reputation. These groups form the warbands of Chaos and they can vary in size from a handful of individuals to massive hosts that rival an Imperial Guard regiment in size and power. The most successful Chaos Champions command vast armies of devoted warriors. For Chaos Space Marines these warbands are mostly composed of comrades they fought alongside in their Traitor Legions or their Renegade Chapter. Yet it is not uncommon for Renegades with very different histories to find a common cause in their service to the Ruinous Powers, as Chaos recognises neither hierarchy nor structure, only results.
These warbands compete with each other as much as they fight against xenos and the forces of the Imperium. Resources are precious and hard-won in the Eye of Terror and the Maelstrom and control of cities, continents and worlds is vital to the maintenance of power. Most valued over all other things is the favour of the Chaos Gods. Champions and their warbands must constantly prove their continued dedication to their patrons. The Chaos Gods are embodiments of the question: what have you done for me lately?
Champions earn rewards from their gods by destroying their patron's enemies and succeeding on obscure missions and quests. On the Daemon Worlds in the Eye of Terror, hundreds of warbands struggle in battle to best each other for possession of daemonic artefacts, ancient knowledge, weapons and war machines left over from the days of the Horus Heresy and from before the Fall of the Eldar. They are pitched into eternal conflict as sacrifices to their gods and to earn the power to summon daemons to their cause. When not battling one another, the warbands of Chaos Space Marines are a roving threat, for they are wandering bands of nomadic warriors intent only on slaughter and loot. From bases hidden in asteroid fields and upon the surfaces of deserted moons, aboard painstakingly maintained starships that date back to the Great Crusade, they watch and wait for their prey to appear, gathering strength wherever a new blow can be struck against the despised Imperium of Man and its hated Corpse Emperor.
In the end, every Chaos Champion faces one of three fates. A life of constant warfare is a dangerous one and most will die upon the field of battle, forgotten by their god as just another failure but immortalised in legend by their remaining followers and comrades. These Champions are nothing more than blood-soaked sacrifices to Chaos, their goals and ambitions forever unfulfilled.
A Chaos Champion who survives the constant battles will slowly gain more and more favour from their chosen god. These rewards come in different forms. Some Champions may be "sent" more followers. Those with a taste for such things might learn potent spells of psychic sorcery, while all Champions will eventually exhibit strange, inhuman powers. Most of the "gifts" offered by the Chaos Gods take the form of physical and genetic changes -- mutations. Some mutations are beneficial, some are harmless -- and others are downright debilitating.
Though such changes can make a Chaos Champion a fearsome warrior, he risks receiving so many such "gifts" and become so mutated, that he loses all control of himself and degenerates into the hideous creature known as a Chaos Spawn. Even the superhuman, genetically-engineered body of an Astartes can only withstand so much genetic corruption and can contain only so much unnatural power. When this limit is finally breached, the Space Marine or other Champion will be lost forever, transformed into a gibbering and mindless Chaos Spawn. Driven insane, Chaos Spawn are nothing more than mindless, howling monsters of tortured, mutated flesh. Most die quickly and painfully, their bodies ripped apart by cascading and uncontrollable mutations as the power of Chaos is made wholly manifest within them. Of those who do not die instantly upon surpassing the limit of the Chaos power that their bodies can withstand, some are abandoned by their warbands to wander the Daemon Worlds until they are slain, while others are kept as pets and war beasts by those who were once their followers.
But the third fate of a Chaos Champion is the reward to which all devotees of Chaos dedicate themselves: ascension to daemonhood. The Champion's ultimate reward is ascension to become a Daemon Prince of his patron god. His flesh is transformed into the immaterial substance of the Warp and his mortal life is entirely cast aside. A follower of Chaos who ascends to become a Daemon Prince is an immortal and all-powerful warrior who will serve his god for all eternity and never know death or fear again. Some Daemon Princes leave their mortal followers behind and join the nightmare hosts of the Daemons of Chaos to plague worlds across the gulfs of space and time as embodiments of the power of their gods. Others choose to remain the leaders of their warband, now granted an eternity to bask in the adoration of their minions and earn perhaps even greater and unimaginable power from the Dark Gods that they have served so well.
- "The rewards of tolerance are treachery and betrayal."
- —Imperial maxim
The vast bulk of the Lost and the Damned are found amongst the twisted and zealous denizens of the Daemon Worlds lost to the Eye of Terror. Gross mutants, fierce abhumans and beastmen and primitive human tribesmen alike seek to fight on faraway worlds for the glory and benevolence of their dark masters. Among the better armed and slightly saner troops are Imperial outlaws: pirates, mercenaries, Chaos Cultists and military deserters who have turned from the Emperor and fled from Imperial justice. Occasionally entire companies, or even regiments of the Imperial Guard turn to Chaos, and take with them their vehicles and armoury. These Traitor Guard have not yet lost their skills due to madness, and form a hardened and reliable core amongst the slavering hordes of the Lost and Damned. Often these mortals will call upon the daemons of the Warp by summoning them in blasphemous rituals that require the copious spilling of sacrificial blood. Their ranks are further bolstered by terrible monstrosities of all kinds, such as Chaos Spawn, packs of Chaos Hounds or shambling zombies raised by the malignant sorcery of the zombie plague to name just a few of the horrors of Chaos.
Ranks of the Lost and the Damned
- Apostate Cardinal - Apostate Cardinals, a general term for any one of many thousands of the demagogues active in the Jericho Reach, preach resistance to the Crusade and the enforced conversion that follows close behind it. They whip their followers into a frenzy of hate, sometimes literally, sometimes with words of bile and sometimes with promises of a blessed afterlife for those that die in defence of their faith. Apostate Cardinals rule over a staggering range of cults and sects. Some are Warrior-Brotherhoods preaching martial virtues, while others are mendicant or penitent. Many are a bizarre hybrid of pre-Imperial religions, merged in the 31st Millennium with the Imperial Creed, and then diverging throughout the Jericho Reach’s Age of Shadow.
- Chaos Champion - A Chaos Champion is an individual who has dedicated himself to further the cause of his or her particular patron Chaos God, or Chaos as a whole in the form of Chaos Undivided. He or she is either an extremely powerful warrior, including a Chaos Space Marine, or a psychic Chaos Sorcerer. Chaos is attractive for the simple reason that it offers enormous power to those willing to turn away from the light of the Emperor and dedicate themselves in body and soul to the Ruinous Powers. For many who walk its dark path, it offers the only hope of betterment in a galaxy ruled by an often oppressive human Imperium. Opportunities for true happiness and advancement are the prerogatives of only a tiny, privileged minority, and the only escape from literal starvation or persecution by a tyrannical and uncaring bureaucracy often lies in the egalitarian favours of Chaos. For unlike the Imperium of Man and so many of the other servants of Order in the galaxy, Chaos judges its servants on merit and skill alone and rewards them for their successes or failures harshly, but fairly. In fact, many of those who serve the Dark Gods would claim that only Chaos offers true justice to the peoples bound into the corrupt and dying realm ruled over by the Corpse Emperor.
- Chaos Cultists - Chaos Cults are the most dangerous of all those organisations that plot to overthrow the rule of the Imperium of Man from within. All planets and civilisations belonging to the Imperium can harbour Chaotic organisations, which themselves are as diverse in practice and membership as is imaginable. From the blood-soaked sacrificial cults of Feral Worlds to the philosophical secret societies of more advanced planets, the temptations of Chaos can capture all. The objective of the Chaos Cult is to survive and eventually dominate the society in which it dwells. Mere survival is particularly important on Imperial worlds, where Chaos worship is the greatest of heresies and Inquisitors are always vigilant and ready to wipe out any taint of Chaos. Generally clandestine in nature, as discovery could bring with it attention from the local Adeptus Arbites contingent all the way up to the Inquisition, cults often hide behind the front of some form of legitimate Imperial organisation in their attempt to accumulate local or planetary power, such as trade unions, charitable organisations, accepted religious groups and even local variants of the Imperial Cult. Extreme political parties make good fronts for cults, as they naturally attract power-hungry and mentally unbalanced individuals, who make particularly good material for potential cult members. A very successful organisation can achieve real political power, even gaining enough power to make it possible for the cult to become the governing body of the planet without having to resort to outright rebellion.
- Hive Mutant - Hive mutants are the result of a hive population's exposure to radiation, pollutants, carcinogens, and diseases that are circulated though a hive's food, air and water supplies. Mutation is common in the largest hives, and relatively minor mutations are tolerated by the main population in most hives within some sectors, though the more refined circles of hive nobility are not so forgiving. A degree of mutation within a hive population is tolerated in the most part out of of necessity. A hive exists on the toil of its population, and the labour of a mutant is as good as that of any other. Indeed, in many hives where slight mutation not tolerated, the industry and wealth of the hive could not be sustained. This tolerance is, of course, not universal or without bounds; mutation, after all, is commonly regarded as a sign of sin and corruption. In many hives gross mutation is not only shunned but rooted out and purged by law. Many hive mutants flee down into the deeper parts of a hive where they can exist out of the reach of persecution.
- Forsaken Priest - A Forsaken Priest is a faithful priest of the Ecclesiarchy who has been drawn into the service of an Inquisitor of a Radical creed and has sacrificed himself to the learning of dark knowledge and the forbidden arts of sorcery. The knowledge and use of sorcery are blasphemous acts that eat away at those who acquire and wield such dark arts. Nevertheless, the power of sorcery and daemon lore is a potent weapon against the manifold threats faced by the Imperium, and so it may be wielded by those who know that they are damning themselves but are willing to sacrifice their souls in the defence of humanity. Forsaken Priests are rare, even in the ranks of the radical factions of the Inquisition, and though exceptions exist, they are almost exclusively found among those who follow either the Xanthite or Oblationist doctrine, often for very different reasons.
- Heretek Savant - The strictures and dictates of the Adeptus Mechanicus are many and harsh; they form a labyrinthine and iron-clad code that defines every aspect of the lives of the Omnissiah's priesthood, their outlook and practices. Their purpose is as simple as it is unwavering: to control and regulate knowledge and its use, stifle innovation, and above all maintain the Machine Cult's stranglehold on the Imperium's technology. To become a Heretek Savant by that phrase's purest definition is to abandon this code, at least in the Tech-Priest's private thoughts. It is to embrace individual innovation, experimentation, and free will and stray from the path ordained by the teachings of the Archmagos Doctrinal. For a Tech-Priest to do so is every bit as rare, as radical and heretical as a Confessor of the Ministorum straying away from the Imperial creed, and the consequences for those that do stray, should their deviation be discovered, is every bit as harsh. Although rather than a pyre, Heretek Savants can look forward to having their implants ripped bodily from them while alive and whatever meat that remains useful recycled into servitor components to pay for their sins.
- Malefic Scholar - A Malefic Scholar studies and acquires proscribed knowledge concerning the nature of the warp, the power and nature of Daemons, and the manipulation of the warp by the arts of ritual and sorcery. These are the wizened masters of warp craft who can summon daemons, open portals into the ether, see things far off and days remote, and create artefacts of occult and unclean power. Such dedication is motivated by an obsession with knowing what should not be known, or by the desire to wield unnatural power that is beyond that open to most humans. The power of a Malific Scholar has potential that is only bound by the weakness of the human mind when confronted with truths greater than it can cope with. Most Malefic Scholars are an obvious threat to the fabric and security of the Imperium; their pursuit of forbidden knowledge can unleash warp entities, provide a point of incursion for daemons and may corrupt all they touch. For Inquisitors of Radical factions which embrace the use of warp craft, a Malefic Scholar is a valuable servant and weapon to be used to fight the enemies of mankind.
- Warp Touched - There are places where the barrier between reality and the warp is thin. Across such thinned barriers the influence of the power of the warp can touch those who are near. This is not the touch of the intelligences that form in the tides of that other realm's energy and are called daemons. It is a caressing, violating, warping tendril of the boiling psychic energy that leaks across into reality like an invisible fog or a howling gale; marking and changing all that it touches. Those who are touched by the warp may possess strange powers that they carry in their blood, bone, and mind; making them almost inhuman. So subtle and dangerous are the seeds planted by the warp that almost any servant of the Inquisition would burn one so touched—but a few within the Holy Ordos, such touched individuals are to be embraced and bound to service, if for no other reason than to see what they may become.
- Tainted Psyker - Tainted Psykers are Psykers who has given themselves over to the raw power of the warp. These psykers are teetering on the brink of complete damnation and being drawn into the thrall of dark and thirsting gods. Though it is fraught with risk and peril, the power that can be achieved by opening oneself further to the possibility of the warp is immense. Like opening a crack in the casing of a blast furnace to realise the roaring inferno contained inside, the power of the Tainted Psyker is as awful as it is terrifying. Storms of psychic force, uncanny control of flesh, and terrible ways of using the power of the warp are the weapons the Tainted Psyker has bought at the cost of his mind, body, and soul.
- Warp Dabbler - Warp Dabblers, sometimes referred to as warplocks and petty sorcerers, are individuals tampering often blindly with the malignant arts of the warp sorcery. Whether cultists, noncompliants, recidivists or even servants of the Inquisition, these individuals have had contact with forbidden knowledge and have decided to succumb to the possibilities it can offer. These are not true sorcerers or savants of the forbidden, but instead are dark-hearted warriors, soiled enforcers, spiteful adepts, and twisted killers who have acquired a degree of warp lore and have made the perilous decision to put it into use. Although they may never achieve the terrible heights of occult power and knowledge that the true masters of sorcery can, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This knowledge, in particular, makes most Warp Dabblers very dangerous indeed. Warp Dabblers may have walked almost any path before they begin their dalliance with warp craft. In the case of recidivist heretics, they may be cultists, criminals, smugglers or even gang bosses. The intelligence and strength of will to study the forbidden is not something that all can do, but should one with the potential be presented with forbidden power, he will often seize it and put it to imaginative and horrible use.
- Beastmen - Beastmen are Abhumans descended from human stock who combine the physical appearances of humans and Terran animals, usually goats or rams. Beastmen do not necessarily look alike, and different animal traits can manifest themselves in each individual, but apart from this form of phenotypical variation they are a genetically stable human subspecies, and are considered to be a form of Abhuman rather than an actual mutant. The origin of Beastmen is unknown, though it is likely that they they are the result of experiments in genetic engineering stretching back to the Dark Age of Technology before the birth of the Imperium of Man who proceeded to breed true. Other Imperial savants claim that Beastmen are Abhumans whose unusual forms were the result of exposure to the influence of the Warp but that the subspecies somehow managed to maintain an unusual degree of genetic stability across generations.
The mortal armies that march for the Ruinous Powers employ a wide variety of war machines - ranging from the ubiquitous Chimera to now-rare tanks like the Minotaur. At the heart of many bands are traitors who once served the Imperium, maintaining the vehicles and machines they had at the time of their turning. Others have looted storage facilities and depots across the Imperium, finding obselete patterns of vehicles and walkers. And some renegades, such as those following the Heritor Asphodel in the then-fallen Sabbat Worlds, have been reported using new patterns of vehicles, influenced by or divorced from the influence of the Warp.
The most common war machines are those found in Imperial and traitorous Forge Worlds - using and abusing the frames and variants of Leman Russ, Chimera and Basilisk tanks (or poorer equivalents such as the Urdeshi pattern STeG4 and AT70 Reaver light tanks fielded by the Infardi and Blood Pact). The most common super-heavy vehicles used by the forces of the Lost and the Damned are those of the Malcador frame, or tanks whose size and shape are similar enough. Rarely a renegade band might deploy a Baneblade or one of its variants. Those stolen from Imperial sources have had their Aquilas removed and runes and icons of Chaos scored into the vehicles, whilst those created on renegade Forge Worlds may have more demented design from the core of their conception.
Some renegade forces have access to specialised machines like the Valkyrie or the Sentinel walker. Some even more rare and complex vehicles - such as debased examples of the Macharius Omega or the Valdor Tank Hunter - may mark a group's affiliation to the Dark Mechanicus. In many cases, cogitator-assisted targeting devices and auspexes have been replaced or failed to have been installed. As such, such machines often feature poorer systems or, worse, even hideously pulsing, machine metal that are daemonically possessed by the creatures of the Warp.
Famous bands of Renegades and Heretics
(in chronological order)
- The Blood Pact, operating in the Sabbat Worlds in the 750s-70s.M41.
- The Sons of Sek, a rival force to the Blood Pact, operating in the Sabbat Worlds around during the 770s.M41.
- The Vraksian Traitor Militia, including the Disciples of Xaphan, operating in the 17-year long Siege of Vraks (813.-830.M41).
For a more complete list of Chaos Renegade and Heretic warbands, see here.
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition), pp. 42-46
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 8-11
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG)
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pg. 80
- Imperial Armour Volume Five - The Siege of Vraks - Part One
- Imperial Armour Volume Thirteen - War Machines of the Lost and the Damned, pp. 147-185