"The Gods blessed you too much, and now I shall end your misery! Such a fate does not await me!"
- – Thorgar the Blooded One, on the you-know-whats.
This is what happens when you have stepped over a line that even Chaos doesn't cross. On top of all that, they're basically multiple Darth Vaders. If you even say Chaos Spawn-OH FUCK NOOOOOOOOGLARBABLAHBALHABHHBLBL...
Ahem, as my predecessor was about to say, they're so awful in 40k that even saying their full name here causes the speaker to mutate into one. They're mutants whose appearances are always extremely varied and grotesquely horrible, as if someone got Lovecraft, H.R Giger and John Carpenter to team up and make monsters.
In Warhammer Fantasy, Chaos Spawn WAIT NO SHIaierojoihodskdnkefniwrehoswdnwelrjworiwe-- ...these things are mutations that only afflict those who worship Chaos (allowing anyone who isn't a rapeviking or insane wizard to say their name without fear!). Exposure to the Warp for the faithful (or unaligned) instead causes mutations that corrupt the afflicted into more feral forms.
Usually these mutations occur amongst common citizenry when the Winds of Magic blow too strongly from the miniature Eyes of Terror at the poles of the world, and patrols are required to cull them before they join the ranks of the forces of Chaos, although who it is that leads the purges differs from race to race.
The Empire relies on the familiar Inquisition and Witch Hunters. Kislevites instead rely on their Dvoryanin and Boyars (nobles) to account for the status of the outlying populations. Bretonnian nobles consider all the peasants to be little better than this usually, and said peasants usually self-police due to their extreme devotion to the nobility (however, simply taking all babies born with mutations to leave in the forest is what caused the Beastmen to grow so prolific in the first place). Elves (High, Wood, and Dark) are near immune to mutation, as are Ogres unless they serve willingly. Lizardmen and the Undead (Vampire and Egyptian) are both immune to the power of the Warp, with the latter actually able to reverse-corrupt things. And there have been no reported cases of Orcs with mutations, so no one knows what happens to them.
Degeneration into Spawn occur far more often amongst Warriors of Chaos than Chaos Space Marines for two reasons. First is due to their EXTREME fucking devotion to the Chaos Gods, to the point that every last Norseman seeks to become a Daemon Prince and the Chaos Gods spread their blessings liberally. Spawns amongst the Norsemen tribes are usually used somewhere between biological weapons and war dogs depending on the degree of the mutations. The other reason is that Chaos Space Marines are still Space Marines with redundant hearts, lungs, thicker bones, and more muscles. A Marine can withstand more mutations than a human can without descending into becoming a Chaos Sp-- ... like that. Anyway, it gives them a slightly higher chance of becoming Daemon Princes than mortals since they can withstand the gifts of their gods better.
Spawn fear symbols of Sigmar and similar gods, and the power of nature as channeled by the Wood and High Elves can cleanse mutations from a subject. In particular, a book series depicting High Elves fighting Dark Elves and Warriors of Chaos describe how the Champion of Slaanesh prior to Sigvald the Magnificent is cleansed of all Slaanesh's blessings by simply touching the Everqueen. Slaanesh, very VERY pissed, began pouring his Daemonic energy directly into the Champion. When the Everqueen let go of his hand, that energy immediately turned him into a... a thingamy... on par with a Greater Daemon.
Tabletop-wise: much like 40k's old Spawns, Fantasy Spawn are terrible. They have low stats, slow movement speed with the inability to march or charge things (that last part is basically the stamp of death in Fantasy anyway). Their Marks of Chaos are random and cannot be counted on even working. Sadly, you'll probably need a few to run a few of these things in Warriors since there's a chance upon failure to become one for some of your options. In addition, some choices of Lords or Heroes come with some as pets (Cultist-chan should really be the poster child of Warriors rather than 40k cultists).
The most significant of these creatures in Warhammer is Scyla Anfingrimm. The only one of them who still has the favour of a god.
In the video game devoted to Warhammer Fantasy, Total War: Warhammer, Chaos Spawn--OHFUCKNOAAAHHHDGRBLEAAHGHAFLFLFLFLFEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH!
...er... They're actually fantastic. Small but workable unit size, reasonably to low cost, good HP pool, very high damage and most importantly, they will never break. Two units of them in any Chaos army means the AI isn't winning today. Still, having no armor-piercing damage and no armor meaning they aren't good against late game units, nor would they do any better when facing ranged units, especially when fighting a Wood Elves opponent who likes to spam 10 units of Glade Guard with Starfire Arrow. Beastmen have their own variation that can do poison damage, especially when Morghur's staff can summon them anytime within his range, like Deep Strike into range units' firing line.
The Chaos SpawnaAIEEEEBLAAAAAAAAAAAHGGHGH-
The UNITS in question were, in 4th and 5th Editions, considered by many to be the worst unit in any Chaos army book and, quite possibly, the entire game of Warhammer 40k (the Pre-Vetock Space Pope coming in a close second, until the Tyranid "champion" of Cruddace arrived). They were so bad, absolutely nobody took them. Not even for flavor or joke games. Even today they're still rare; the stigma is that deep. It became a meme that to even utter their name causes a horrid mutation turning you into a Chaos Spawn yourself. Wait! No! I didn't mean it-OHSWEETJESUSMOTHEROFGLARBLBLBLBLWARUEAGIRHARAUIRGLLLLLAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHH
Ahem... Continuing where my predecessor left off, you-know-whats should only be referred to as you-know-whats. That or they-who-shall-not-be-named. Even though you-know-whats have received a nice crunch buff since then, the meme still remains since it fits the fluff pretty well.
In fluff, aspiring champions of Chaos normally devolve into said units for any of the following reasons: if they use Chaos solely for their own gain, their patron god thinks they're not worthy of their favor or have fallen out of their favor, they can't handle the sheer amounts of mutations they go through during their ascension into a full-fledged Daemon Prince, or, you know, it's Tuesday and Tzeentch is feeling bored since there's not a lot of "Just as Planned" going around. When this does happen, Chaos Spawns devolve into no more than mindless heaps of mutated flesh who attack anyone near them and eventually die after a short period due to their unstable form, and... did I just-- No... NOOOOOOO! GLARBLRAWRGLARBL
The only known exception to this rule is the beast called Foulspawn, who somehow managed to become a Daemon Prince of Nurgle after being transformed into one of the abominations (and only because Nurgle found the result funny!) Only Failbaddon can comprehend how truly goddamn useless these things are. Generally by looking in a mirror. Khorne only knows why he hasn't been turned into one yet. Though it turns out ADB knows - it's because he's refused to commit to any one Chaos God, so it's not possible for one of them to inflict this on him because the others won't allow it.
According to Black Crusade and The Tome of Fate, the Hereteks of The Hollows (specifically Magos Onuris of Forge Polix) have taken an interest in improving them to be useful. These "Death-Masques" have cybernetic implants forcibly installed into what's left of their brains and nervous systems. This combination of auger arrays, arcanocogitators, and drug-delivery systems not only allow Hereteks to control Death-Masques like giant, fleshy Servitors, but actually selectively mutate their bodies, enabling the Heretek to reshape a Death-Masque into a more useful form or give it whatever bio-weapons would be best for the present situation. This is awesome but alas, GW would never let us actually use something like this in-game when we could be having the "fun" with a pathetically random failure of a gribbly beast.
In very rare cases, the will of Tzeentch and the influence of the Warp can cause a group of Unnameable Beasts to fuse together into a Mutalith Vortex Beast, an even more vile abomination that is difficult to even look at without hurting oneself.
On The Tabletop
Although a terrible option due to their randomness and point cost (akin to the Daemons army fittingly, which is interesting because it shows just how better the Vikings are than their masters), they aren't unusable; like most things in the more balanced Warhammer they simply aren't as good as other options although taking them won't lose you the game. Thanks to a more recent update to the game making it possible for your models to suddenly turn into one of the fucking things, players should now own some (thanks Games Workshop, my wallet was getting too heavy to carry!) in case the Dice Gods turn on them.
40k Part 1: Why These Units Used to Suck
You-know-whats were just absolutely horrible before 6th Edition. Costing the same as three actual Chaos Marines, they would wander around the board aimlessly with a throw of the Scatter Dice, moved D6, had the Rage special rule and died to Bolter fire, earning your opponent a free kill point. They fucking sucked, essentially. There is considerable evidence that they were originally supposed to have the Feel No Pain rule, ergo making them marginally useful as a meat shield, but sadly the 4th Edition Codex, through a series of misprints, lacked this. To drive home just how bad these things were if they actually got into combat, there is no way statistically they could win combat against equal points worth of GUARDSMEN, the resulting extra wounds they would take from No Retreat would wipe them out immediately since they had no save. The ONLY thing they could tar pit was Fire Warriors and even then the odds were in the FIRE WARRIORS' favor.
40k Part 2: The Redemption
Phil Kelly remembered that under that mass of writhing limbs and stupidity, there's generally a Chaos Space Marine (and/or more likely had just finished watching John Carpenter's "The Thing"). So brace yourselves for a shocker: they're actually pretty damn good.
New features include...
- A lower point cost (30, as opposed to the previous 40).
- Causing fear while being fearless themselves.
- No longer moving randomly or at a goddamn crawl. In fact, they move as fast as Metal Bawkzes and do not give a shit about terrain.
- Rage now meaning that they get +2 attacks on the charge, making it actually useful.
- A D3 roll every turn that determines what mutation they get for that turn. They can get a 4+ armor save, a roll of 2D6 for their number of attacks (you pick the higher one), or poisoned attacks (at 4+ to wound).
With the removal of No Retreat, they also won't automatically shit themselves with a lost combat. Indeed, being Fearless, they barely care at all.
Their stats are otherwise unchanged, so holy shit, it's almost worth taking two or three of them and throwing them headlong at the enemy as a multi-wound distraction to soak up fire for you. Almost. Okay, that is not true. 30 points for a model with 3 T5 wounds that can move 12", has useful special powers, can be taken in squadrons and can become T6 with Nurgle is frankly excellent. Mark of Tzeentch could conceivably boost their staying power slightly too. Stay away from Khorne and Slaanesh, though. Unless you run into Grey Knights or Dark Eldar, for whom the Spawn is just a mild annoyance.
Alternatively, run several Khorne-marked spawn towards any vehicle with rear AV 10 and watch them wreck all in their path, until your friends realize just what they are capable of and gun them down in a panic, which hey, can also be according to plan.
Actual serious use is fielding them as escort for a Jugger Lord. More wounds for less then a bike squad, and no encouragement to shoot... which your choppy lord should never do. Plus, they make your majority armor save nothing, meaning those grav weapons the loyalist scum keep using wound on 6s only.
Fun fact: renegades can get an unmarked three Chaos Spa-*cough*-MCHERBINFERBER deal for only 55 points. Three Chaos Spawn for under the price of two. Let the good times roll!
...Hey, wait a minute, everything's cool! I didn't say the words! I DI-GLARBABLAHBALHABALAHH!!
40k Part 3: The One Where You Actually NEED Them
In the new Chaos Space Marines Codex there's a table, like the one in the Warriors of Chaos Army book, on which your HQ rolls when killing an enemy character (keep in mind: not IC, just C). It's a 2D6 table with some of classics: +1S, +1T, +1W...
But one of the results... forces you to swap your awesome super killy Chaos Champion with... err, the-one-which-shall-not-be-named! So now you have to buy a box of these sick horrors in order to play. At least for Chaos Warriors, the time when your Marauder Chieftain turns into a Spawn and still does more damage than it would normally is truly priceless. The same thing probably works for Cultist Champions, and still proves to be useful, since the you-know-what detaches from the unit and could be used to tie up something shooty with poor melee capabilities, like Devastator squad or Crisis team, for a turn or two. All Traitor Legions can also take them as auxiliary choices, and they are the cheapest of the bunch. So give your Warband a mascot for full decurion benefits.
Rage and threats to eviscerate every GW employee that isn't Phil Kelly, are expected, but really, it's 'bout time you fucking newbies had to deal with this Chaos Spawn shit anyway...
Ohh my God-Emperor no waiiii.... RAWRAWRASDAFGSFDS (Automated Message From Cadia: We are out of Usable speakers and will be employing new ones at the Recruitment Center nearest you.)
(...why do we do this in the first place?)
Tee hee hee, they may be horrible in combat but my little Spawns succeeded in destroying Cadia's entire propaganda machine!! Just As Planned!!
Let us hold a memorial for all those turned into Chaos Spa- Oh boy, that was close... I nearly said it. NOT TODAY. This writer's too smart to say Chaos Spawn... OH DEAR GOD NO, PLEA-GRARRGAGFD
Hey wait a minute Tzeentch. How come you can you say chaos spawn without mutating? Wait....SHIGRHQHQGDAAAARGLEFLADCHALLOIII
Kekekekekekekeke! I'm a god! I can say Chaos Spawn all I want! Chaos Spawn! Chaos Spawn! Chaos Spawn! Kekekekekekeke--- WAIT NO SCREWADHWAAAAHGHTSKAFHTAGN
I'm guessing that was not as planned.
...I really have no idea how he pulled that one off...
40k Part 4: Just as Planned
Certain psychic powers of Tzeentch can turn enemy models into you-know-whats, AKA you get them for free. Originally the "Boon of Mutation" spell used to be an extremely short range save-or-die assassination power for removing multi-wounded HQs, and while it only had 1/3 or even 1/6 chance of working against most of its intended targets, it was one of the few ways of circumventing Eternal Warrior at the time and could be used even when the sorcerer is locked in melee - the you-know-what summoned used to be just cherry on the top after you popped an enemy Chapter Master or Farseer with it. The modern "Baleful Devolution" is a much more comfortable 18" focused witchfire with a more reliable S6 AP and even multiple (if random) number of hits, but it only summons gribbly things on sixes to-wound (which also add Instant Death), and as a focused witchfire while it can snipe specific models, it can be LoS-ed. Thus it's more about sniping special weapons or sergeants and occasionally creating witchfire-sponges within charge range of a target unit you want to charge.
Aetaos'Rau'Keres can even transform entire units with his template "Boon of Mutation". Because what else could force you to buy dozens of Chaos Spawn models? Then again he's 999 poi... Oh fuck, I swear I didnmlgrabomUMFROPARGHMRMROMGH
40k Part 5: 8th edition
Well, 8th edition did arrive. The gribblies here got buffed, but they're still quite mediocre. For the same point cost as a Terminator they move faster and can hit harder with their random amount of randomly buffed attacks, but they're squishy and cannot deep-strike; meaning they'll just end up suffering from a sudden case of ballistic projectile to the face. You might want a model in case of double "1" when rolling on the Chaos Boon table or to fill a FA slot for cheap, but for the rest they're outclassed by other choices. That said, the Thousand Sons have a couple of useful Stratagems that are made specifically for them, including one that lets them select a buff manually instead of rolling for it and another that transforms any of their own characters into a you-know-what (named The Flesh-Change, no less) for free.
>Alternate opinion: while nothing to build an army around, taken in units of one, they're a very cheap way to fill Fast Attack slots, and a single... you know what roving the battlefield has its uses if it can stay out of sight until the late game or otherwise avoid getting shot (they also tend to be fairly low priority targets in the early game as your opponent usually has better things to shoot at), they can do work in the late game. They're punchy enough to threaten depleted units of troops or tackle a wounded character and have a reasonable chance of eating their face, and they're cheap enough that you can just fling them at said wounded captain or whatever and just shrug if they whiff and die. Not bad for a chaos spawn AH GODDAMMIT I ALMOST WAHSAFHWSFAFSGAGDV
On the bright side, their kit is really fun to mess with and has so many spare parts, you won't need to worry about not having enough horns and tentacles for your conversions anymore. also the chaos spawn have some bootiful hea- NO! PLEASE! WRYYYYYYTYYYYISU LFGERSU GWLRIGUSEUILGEHRIDDSFSFWGLARASHHHHBLBLBLBLB
- This article is dedicated in loving memory to those souls who gave their coherence and sanity in the cause of explaining... these fucking things.
|Forces of the Death Guard|
|Leaders:|| Chaos Lord - Daemon Prince - Sorcerer - Chaos Champion |
Malignant Plaguecaster - Plague Surgeon - Tallymen
|Troops:|| Biologus Putrifier - Blightlord Terminator - Chaos Spawn - Deathshroud |
Foul Blightspawn - Noxious Blightbringer - Plague Marines - Possessed
|Vehicles:||Chaos Land Raider - Helbrute - Plaguereaper - Predator - Rhino|
|Flyers:||Storm Eagle - Stormbird - Thunderhawk|
| Blight Drone - Defiler - Foetid Bloat-Drone |
Myphitic Blight-Hauler - Plague Hulk - Plagueburst Crawler
|Daemons:||Beast of Nurgle - Nurgling - Plaguebearer|
|Auxiliaries:||Cultists - Pestigors - Plague Zombie - Poxwalkers|
|Allies:||Chaos Daemons - Chaos Space Marines|
|Forces of the Thousand Sons|
|Leaders:|| Chaos Champion - Chaos Lord - Chaos Sorcerer |
Daemon Prince - Exalted Sorcerers
|Troops:||Chaos Spawn - Rubric Marines - Rubric Terminators|
|Castellax-Achea Class Battle-Automata|
|Vehicles:|| Chaos Dreadnought - Chaos Land Raider |
Helbrute - Predator - Rhino - Vindicator
| Silver Tower of Tzeentch - Forgefiend |
Heldrake - Maulerfiend - Defiler
Fire Lord - Doom Wing
|Daemons:|| Flamers of Tzeentch - Horror - Screamers of Tzeentch |
Mutalith Vortex Beast
|Auxiliaries:|| Cultists - Prospero Spireguard - Thrall Wizards |
Tzaangors - Tzaangor Enlightened - Tzaangor Shaman
|Allies:||Chaos Daemons - Chaos Space Marines|