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. 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 in the galaxy. During a Black Crusade, however, individual Chaos Champions will put aside their petty wars and rivalries for the common cause of Chaos Undivided and the Lost and the Damned form a nigh unstoppable tide that attacks with seemingly inexhaustible numbers.
The Lost and the Damned consist of the scum of the galaxy -- Traitors to the Imperium, Heretics, Chaos Cultists, mutants and other horrors too numerous to comprehend, such as the insane Chaos Spawn. Often it is individual regiments or portions of regiments of the Imperial Guard that turn from the Emperor's divine light to the darkness of the Forces of Chaos and so consequently they make up the bulk of the Lost and the Damned, providing the needed firepower. The Lost and the Damned are led into battle by mighty Aspiring Chaos Champions - Chaos Space Marines who turned Traitor to the Imperium millennia ago during the Horus Heresy or more recently became Renegades. Entire regiments of Imperial Army troops and later Imperial Guard units have also turned to Chaos, and taken with them their vehicles, such as the Basilisk and the mighty Leman Russ main battle tank. Mutants often make up the bulk of these armies, with many disturbing and disgusting mutations -- "gifts" from the Chaos Gods -- adorning their once-human bodies. Chaos Space Marines lead the Lost and the Damned into battle, and accompanied by the monstrous Defiler, the Lost and the Damned are a deadly foe to face. In order to fulfill their own agendas, Champions of Chaos draw lesser Chaos followers to them. They form personal armies that can vary tremendously in size and strength. Often the Champion is a powerful demagogue, Imperial traitor or Arch-Heretic. 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 dominion in the galaxy. During a Black Crusade, however, 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.
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 committment 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 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 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.
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition), pp. 42-46
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 8-11