The word Daemon, or "δαίμων ", originated from Greek mythology, and was the term for spirits of nature and, well, anything but the Olympian gods. It wasn't a negative term at all, but rather a term that described creatures other than humans and animals, but as they often had ethics that was just as alien, they could seem malevolent at times. In Roman mythology, the term evolved to describe two guardian spirits who all people had attached to them, one benevolent and one malevolent. In /tg/ culture, daemon occasionally pops up as an alternative to "demon" or "devil" as the terminology for the fiendish races. The most iconic example of Daemons on /tg/ are those from the Warhammer settings.
Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder
Dungeons & Dragons has long used the term Daemon to refer to their Neutral Evil fiendish race, in contrast to the Lawful Evil Devils and the Chaotic Evil Demons. With the notorious anti-Satanic panic, daemons were renamed as Yugoloths in the Planescape setting, much as devils and demons became Baatezu and Tanar'ri, respectively. See the Yugoloth page for more details.
In Pathfinder, daemons are again the Neutral Evil fiendish race, because yugoloths aren't in the OGL. Born from the souls of Neutral Evil mortals, each breed of daemon embodies a specific kind of death, in comparison to the sin-born demons. For example, hydrodaemons represent death by drowning, whilst thanatodaemons represent death by old age. Answering to the four archdaemons, styled after the Horsemen of the Apocalypse - that is, Famine, War, Pestilence and Death - they hearken back to older descriptions of Neutral Evil in that they hate life itself. In the Pathfinder setting's closest equivalent to the Blood War, daemons seek to annihilate all life, trying to sweep the multiverse clean of all life other than daemonkind. Once they have achieved that goal, they will then turn on each other, fighting to the death until only one daemon remains in existence. That daemon will take a moment to savor the emptiness of existence... and then commit suicide. They hate life that much.
In the D20 game Infernum by Mongoose Publishing, Daemon is the highest of the "common" titles, the furthest rank a hellspawn can achieve without becoming a noble of some description. It is awarded only to hellspawn who prove themselves true masters in a particular field of expertise - combat, diplomacy, spying, etcetera - and usually requires formal duels between would-be contestants under the eye of a local Captain. Ascending to the rank of Daemon awards a hellspawn with 2000 bonus experience points and grants them their first Noble Mutation.
"Only a fool trusts a Daemon. They are made of the very stuff of change, the raw madness of the Warp made manifest. However, like men, Daemons are creatures of greed, pride, and arrogance, and these are things I trust completely."
-Abaddon the Despoiler, either being pretty awesome or talking complete bullshit depending on your point of view.
Daemons are powerful beings, neither real nor unreal, which do not obey the laws of physics; indeed, their very existence is a warping of reality. They reside within the Realm of Chaos, and usually are organized into groups obeying the rule of Chaos Gods.
Daemons are usually created from one of the four Ruinous Powers through a process that's kind of similar to mitosis (except really REALLY unbalanced); a Chaos God splits off a tiny fraction of their own will, essence, and power, and in doing so creates a new daemon that is essentially an extension of whatever Chaos God made it (it's worth noting that the Gods can also seemingly use the souls of deceased individuals who died under specific circumstances to forge new daemons). These newborn critters then invade the real world, buttfuck anyone they can get their horny claws on (even including other rapists), and the resulting torrent of chaotic emotions that come from being violently buttfucked by a walking pile of Warp energy feed the Chaos Gods, causing their power to grow and allowing even more daemons to be born (that's right; no matter how many morning-after pills you take, a baby is guaranteed to pop out of someone sooner or later as a result of your fatal defilement). Hopefully now you're starting to realise how utterly ROFLSCREWED the many unfortunate races of the Milky Way are; simply seeing these assholes and getting scared by them essentially gives their gods the power to make even more of these assholes.
So man the fuck up, otherwise you're indirectly responsible for giving birth to these dudes nope, sorry, not even growing a manly-ass pair is gonna save you from the guilt of making more daemons, since the bravery and fearlessness you feel will feed Khorne in particular and allow him to spawn a bunch of new horny penis-heads with sharp swords. For fuck's sake.
As I said; ROFLSCREWED (the only way to rid the galaxy of this Heresy-given-physical-form would probably be to kill off every single sentient living thing in the galaxy that has a presence in the Warp, thus 'starving' the Chaos Gods of their juicy succulent thirst-quenching emotions. Except the process of killing every poor sod off like that will only feed the Ruinous Powers even more, probably to the point where they become so powerful they could tear the galaxy multiple new ones at the click of their fingers).
Daemons are functionally immortal in that even if their physical forms are destroyed in real space, their essence will return back into the Warp/RoC where they will be ready to wreak havoc once they have another opportunity to go back, unless there are special circumstances preventing them from doing so such as being trapped in an object (such as a Tesseract Labyrinth or enchanted item), or special incantations that imprison it. It is however also possible to give a daemon a "true death" in that it is permanently erased from existence, but this normally requires some incredibly rare artifact, absurdly complicated rituals, or a psyker/wizard of immense power (after all, by truly killing a daemon, you are in essence killing a tiny fraction of one of the Chaos Gods, so of course it'd be hard as fuck).
Lesser daemons like Bloodletters can normally be banished back by a proper bashing with a mace or a few dozen shots from a lasgun, or with a simple chant of a certain scripture that daemons fear. Greater Daemons, like a Bloodthirster or Great Unclean One, will normally either require extremely powerful dakka the size of Baneblades or in Fantasy, mass-stabbing from spears, cannon balls, or the intervention of the Daemonhunters and similar specialists. Banishing Greater Daemons and Daemon Princes from real space for a long time often requires rituals which involve uttering the daemon's true name, which is a secret to begin with, almost always unpronounceable for a human, long enough to take minutes to utter, and can have nasty spells (like ones that fill your lungs with molten brimstone) included into them - and all this must happen while said angry daemon does his best to slaughter the ritual's participants.
It should be noted that even though the word "Daemon" is their widely accepted name by the mortal races, it is not necessarily the name they call themselves. One daemon in 40k even remarks that it is merely a name given to them by mortals (generally humans) due to its satanic origin (even if it technically has a more neutral, Greek origin, but scratch that, current fluff writers aren't the authors of the RoC and just because it's a daemon doesn't mean it knows jack shit about history). In conversations with mortals they actually like or at least tolerate, daemons often call themselves "Neverborn", and many Chaos worshippers prefer to use this term.
In Fantasy they are made of magic, the source of (most) of which is the Realm of Chaos, and feed upon/inspire certain emotions in mortal beings. Thanks to the magical nature of the world, Daemons have little trouble manifesting within the world if they can find entrance to it. Indeed, any place that the Winds of Magic linger for too long can create Daemons of various kinds which will usually haul themselves towards the nearest place living (usually sapient) beings are found and wreak havoc, and after being "slain" find themselves within the Realm of Chaos for the first time. They can possess hosts, although the weak mortal frames limit their power and usually this is only done to commit acts of mischief.
In Warhammer 40,000 they are manifestations of the psychic emotions of psychically powerful species and individuals, like humanity and Eldar. They reside in the chaotic and hellish psychic dimension known as the Warp. Daemons can only enter realspace under certain conditions, like being summoned in a ceremony or crossing through a warp rift. Even then, because they are made of warp energy and solidified emotion, they don't last long outside of the Warp, so in order to stick around, they have to either drag the Warp into realspace (resulting in a Daemon World in extreme circumstances) or be bound in a host. Psykers are the preferred choice of host, especially the powerful and uncontrolled ones, and they also happen to be a favourite method of opening Warp rifts -- their powers make them shine in the Warp, which attracts daemons like moths to a flame; all the daemons have to do is wait for the psyker's control to falter, and move in to take possession. Sometimes, stupid people try to become a daemon, often a cult committing mass suicide, in order for their souls to fuse, much like what the Emperor did, but instead of reincarnating (since they can't), their souls will then join and become a daemon, because of their chaotic natures. Since souls are not sentient, someone's soul is not him, and it doesn't count as immortality. Daemon-Prince-hood however does, but you will suffer an eternity of Derp from Games Workshop.
Ever since the ancient Realms of Chaos sourcebooks, daemons have been divided into three groups: Greater Daemons, Lesser Daemons, and Daemonic Creatures.
Greater Daemons are the most powerful of the Chaos God's immortal servants, and it's Very Bad News when they arrive in the real world. They are also the most difficult to banish, as they inevitably have tremendously long names, not to mention enough power to give any would-be banishers a hard time. Fortunately for those living in realspace, Greater Daemons are also the most difficult to summon: they require great sacrifices and elaborate ceremonies to even enter the real world, and will not last long without continued exposure to Warp energy. Unfortunately, where Greater Daemons go, hordes of lesser daemons inevitably follow. Greater Daemons are capable of independent thought and are highly intelligent, though this intelligence is heavily influenced by the emotions that form them. However, old fluff (the Realm of Chaos 5th edition army book from WFB) claimed they do not actually have a true personality or even a consciousness-they were simply hollow husks who did their master's bidding and are merely extensions of their god's presence. Any Daemon with a sort of will of their own was instead a Daemon Prince. This is no longer canon, as former Daemon Princes are now Greater Daemons. Some Greater Daemons are in fact mortals who were particularly revered by their chosen god (barring Dechala, who was just Slaanesh being a troll).
Khorne's Greater Daemons are Bloodthirsters, giant axe-wielding warriors with massive leather wings. They are always angry, all the time. There are eight hosts of Bloodthirster, each of the eight possess their own lethal skills, armaments and title. Those of the eighth host, for example, are known as Bloodthirsters of Unfettered Fury. These monstrous beings are skilled if unsubtle generals and, armed with their infamous combination of axe and whip, are most often seen commanding Khorne’s daemonic legions in their attacks on realspace. By comparison, those of the sixth rank, known as Bloodthirsters of Insensate Rage, are berserk destroyers who wield immense axes as tall as a fortress gate. Nothing can stand before such terrors on the battlefield, and the Daemons of Khorne are drawn instinctively on in the wake of their furnace-hot fury. The infamous Bloodthirsters of the third host, meanwhile, are known as the Wrath of Khorne. These beings are fire-breathing braggarts, hunters after glory who delight in humbling the mightiest heroes of the foe and butchering them in the name of their bloody lord.
Slaanesh's Greater Daemons are Keepers of Secrets, each carefully formed to tempt their foes and each looking to experience as many sensations as possible. Their appearance depends on
Slaanesh's mood GW's policy at the time of creating them.
Nurgle's Greater Daemons are Great Unclean Ones, whose joviality is infectious...literally. They are so plague-ridden that they excrete daemons from every available opening. Mmm, is that Grimdark enough for you?
Malal's Greater Daemons are "Guardian of Contradictions", looking like giant daemon goats with a woman's head for a tail (wtf). So far they are the closest interpretation we can get on what they actually look like. The name is only fanwankery based on concept art by Tony Ackland for Malal's Daemons which was never made into models.
Great Horned Rat's Greater Daemons are Verminlords, miniature versions of himself which represent his values (all of which are simply acting like a massive asshole) as well as the values of the Skaven clans (e.g. killing, defiling, killing, proliferating and killing).
Like the Heralds, which are Exalted Lesser Daemons, there are also Exalted Greater Daemons (Exalted Bloodthirster, Exalted Lord of Change, Exalted Great Unclean One, Exalted Keeper of Secrets, and Exalted Verminlord.) They are usable in Storm of Magic as Bound Monsters - creatures summoned through the Warp and binded to their summoners through Bound Scrolls. That doesn't stop them from NOMMING their masters given the chance, though.
In 40K, only the Exalted Bloodthirsters are mentioned. Eight of them belonged to the First Host and answer only to Khorne. Each of them commands eight Bloodthirsters of the second host, each of the second host commands eight of the third host, and so on.
The lesser daemons are the most common sort, and serve as the foot soldiers for the legions of Chaos. Each one is roughly on par with a couple of Empire soldiers in Warhammer Fantasy Battle (generally stronger in close combat, but mostly lacking ranged attacks), or a Space Marine/Imperial Guard stormtrooper in Warhammer 40,000; they form the Core of a Warhammer Fantasy Battle Daemons of Chaos army, and the Troops of a Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Daemons army.
It's worth noting that the canon for many of the Daemons was changed by this fucker. The entire nature of the Daemons in general was mutated in his WH40K Daemon codex, and arguably not for the better. Whilst Bloodletters and Screamers are largely unchanged, Daemonettes were changed in both fluff and function (originally they were engineered by Slaanesh from Eldar souls to be both seductive AND deadly in combat, although they remain so in Fantasy) and Nurgle Daemons were changed dramatically (as was Nurgle's Rot, which changed from a survivable-if-formidable daemon-pox to a daemon-spawned AIDS with no cure that makes eventually makes you a Plaguebearer
no matter what unless you commit suicide or die before you start worshipping Nurgle, which makes about as much sense as this, but whatever).
Khorne's lesser daemons are Bloodletters. They are disciplined as they march to battle, but they tear into enemies like nobody's business on the charge. They take skulls for the skull throne. Like Daemonettes, they underwent a significant model change for one edition, then went back to their old appearance but revamped to higher quality.
Slaanesh's lesser daemons are the Daemonettes (though they are not all female all the time, despite what the name might suggest). They can take whatever form is required to beguile their foes as they close in for the kill, though some browsers of /tg/ like them just the way they usually are. Their models have varied over the years from somewhat attractive bald sharp-toothed humanoids to six-titted graylings (you'll learn very quickly that Slaanesh has a rather noticeable tit fetish, as well as every other fetish out there, most likely).
Nurgle's lesser daemons are Plaguebearers. They are generally stoic creatures who are born from the souls of people who died of Nurgles Rot. Their models have pretty much never changed, always being swollen-gutted decaying horned cyclops things. Yum.
Tzeentch's lesser daemons are Horrors. They start out pink-colored, hyperactive and batshit insane, and when they are destroyed, they split into two blue horrors which are morose and cynical little bastards. Their models started out as oversized heads with long spindly arms and legs, but they underwent a design change into big-mouthed tangles of tentacles and arms and have stayed like that pretty much ever since.
Malal's lesser daemons are Hook Horrors, which are once again just concept art made by Ackland for Games Workshop. They have two hook claws (hence the name) but overall they look like a cheap Halloween costume that resembles an anorexic crow whose head has been reduced to a bird-like skull.
The Chaos Gods of Order (who only existed in Warhammer Fantasy) lacked proper Daemons. One among them blessed mortal Witch Hunters to wage war against his Chaotic Chaos kin in the physical world instead.
Furies can be thought of as lesser daemons of Chaos Undivided, although "Chaos Undecided" might be a more accurate description -- they served the Gods of Chaos, but did not devote themselves strongly to any one before dying.
Daemonic servants and creatures can be more powerful than lesser daemons, but are generally less intelligent. Some, classified as daemonic steeds, may be ridden or otherwise directed by a suitably impressive lesser daemon, or even a lucky mortal servant, while others, classified as daemonic beasts, are simply turned loose on the enemy and left to their own devices.
Khorne's daemonic steeds are Juggernauts, metal-skinned dog/rhino/lizard-creatures with molten blood, and his beasts are the Flesh Hounds (calling them "Khorne Dogs" earns your skull a place under Khorne's ass) which are sent to hunt Khorne's enemies (including his own servants, if they displease him). Bloodletters who managed to tame and ride Juggernauts are called "Bloodcrushers." Flesh Hounds are also used as mounts, although mostly by mortals like Arbaal.
Slaanesh's daemonic steeds are "Steeds of Slaanesh" (which has got to be a sex pun), and his/her beasts are called Fiends of Slaanesh. Daemonettes who ride Mounts of Slaanesh are called "Seekers." Both Fiends and Mounts feature body parts from lots of creatures, and have long tongues (all the better to 'taste' their prey, if you know what we mean...) and rows of human breasts (there's that tit fetish again).
Nurgle's daemonic steeds are "Palanquins of Nurgle" (it's a sedan chair towed by Nurglings) and his beasts are the uncreatively named Beasts of Nurgle. You MUST play with them, otherwise they get bitter and become something else called Rot Flies, which are, who would have guessed, giant rotting flies with spear-sized stings. Two splatbooks claim Nurgle has another (technically third, if one counts the aforementioned Rot Flies and Beast of Nurgle as being the same) daemonic creature in the form of the Plague Toads, huge diseased frog-things that can swallow humans whole and which all other Nurgle daemons look down on. The second even claims that there's a counterpart to Plague Drones in the form of "Pox Riders", which are Plaguebearers clinging to Plague Toads as they hop into battle.
Tzeentch's daemonic steeds are Screamers, giant manta rays that are called "Discs of Tzeentch" as when someone is riding them, Screamers somehow transform into discs. Needless to say, it's not pleasant for the Screamer. His beasts are called Flamers (not to be confused with the flamer weapon), since they look like they are made of fire.
Malal's daemon steeds are "Limbo-Ticks of the Anti-God" and his beasts are "Malal's Paradoxes of Pandemonium", both of which resembles every single arachnophobe's worst nightmare. The latter is usually colored black, grey and white like all things Malal-ish and have a fuckhuge maw meant for potential OMNOMNOMNOM with two sickle like claws to boot, while the former has the body of a giant louse with monkey like limbs and a giant human-like skull with a equally giant horn on it. Like the others, this is just /tg/'s name for Ackland's artwork.
Daemons of Order
While Chaos Gods of Law existed in earlier editions of Warhammer Fantasy, none were ever given Daemons. This changed with Age of Sigmar when the entire Lizardmen army were refluffed as "Seraphon" which have light magic running through their veins which is as corrupting to Chaos as Chaos is to mortals; Saurus blood can cleanse any of Nurgle's plagues, rots, and diseases, and the Slann are stated to be ahead of their enemies (which includes Tzeentch) in planning thanks to their scrying caste.
Sigmar also created the
Sigmarines Stormcast Eternals which are mortals forged in magical metal who have the same properties as Daemons.
|Chaos Gods||Greater Daemons||Lesser Daemons||Daemonic Servants||Daemonic Beasts||Daemonic Steeds||Mounted||Chariots|
|Khorne||Bloodthirster||Bloodletter||None||Flesh Hound||Juggernaut||Bloodcrusher||Blood Throne/Skull Cannon|
|Nurgle||Great Unclean One||Plaguebearer||Nurgling||Beast of Nurgle/Plague Toads||Battle Fly/Rot Fly||Plague Drones/Pox Riders||Palanquin of Nurgle|
|Slaanesh||Keeper of Secrets||Daemonette||None||Fiend||Steeds of Slaanesh||Seekers of Slaanesh||Seeker Chariot/Hellflayer|
|Tzeentch||Lord of Change||Horror/Flamer||None||Screamer||Disc of Tzeentch||None||Burning Chariot|
|Malal||Guardian of Contradictions/Maiden of Malal||Hook Horror||None||Paradoxes||Limbo-Ticks/Nightmares||Parasite Riders||None|
|Great Horned Rat||Verminlord||None||None||None||None||None||None|
|God-Emperor of Mankind||Living Saint||Damned Legionnaire||None||None||None||None||None|
For those mortals unfortunate enough to not be daemons to begin with, there is another route to immortality: serve a Chaos God and impress him or her so much that they grant the gift of daemonhood, resulting in an ascension into a Daemon Prince. In terms of power, they are typically only second to greater daemons, but a few especially strong mortal followers of chaos (traitor primarchs being the most famous) become more powerful than most greater daemons upon ascending. This is the ultimate goal of PCs in the Black Crusade roleplaying game, and indeed most worshipers of Chaos with even an ounce of ambition. Unfortunately, the Gods' attentions are fickle; would-be Daemon Princes who fall short of expectations may find themselves transformed into Chaos Spawn for their failures... Fuck. GLARBLRAWRGLARBL
Also, among followers of chaos, there are those who know that in the warp, the souls of dead men and women are actually devoured by the Chaos Gods; many of them actively try to escape this fate (Rape) by becoming Demon Princes.
Some daemons can be combined with machinery to create mighty Daemon Engines; this gives them some actual structural integrity and lasting power, as they are now firmly anchored in reality. The really big ones are made by the Forge of Souls, while others are made by Warpsmiths. Some Daemon Engines are aligned with one of the Chaos Gods, while others (like Defilers and Soul Grinders) serve Chaos Undivided. Even WFB has these in the forms of the Skull Cannon, Blood Throne, and Burning Chariot (and arguably the Hellflayer Seeker Chariot, even if it is not possessed), which are like possessed war machines mounted on top of possessed chariots as well as the Soul Grinder (which exists in 40k as well, though it only has a stone thrower arm rather than cannons everywhere). Now that Chaos Dwarves are back as a regular WFB army, albeit made entirely by Forgeworld, they seems to be rather fond of Daemon Engines and pack a whole lot of them, including a daemon-possessed, steam-powered train which carries other war machines all around the battlefield while firing its giant cannon/crashing into the enemy lines mauling people with giant-sized pickaxes.
Daemons tend to hide their true names by giving themselves false ones. This is due to the fact that they can be banished if their true name should ever be uttered. The downside about true names is that all true names are quite a mouthful. Daemons' true names are very hard to pronounce if you aren't well a trained psyker like a Librarian or a full-fledged Inquisitor, and can actually make your throat sore. There was even one instance that uttering their true names can actually make your mouth literally burn. Some ridiculously powerful daemons, especially those of Tzeentch, have incredibly long names. One, recorded in the books of the Grey Knights, had a ten-minute long true name and quite a few Knights died attempting to perform the banishment rituals... though once they got to reciting it, there apparently wasn't much it could do to stop them.
- Chaos Gods
- Warhammer/Tactics/Daemons of Chaos
- Warhammer 40,000/Tactics/Chaos Daemons
- Daemons Mod: The Dawn of War Mod that brings this army to DoW players.
|Playable Factions in Warhammer 40,000|
|Imperium:||Adeptus Custodes - Adeptus Mechanicus - Imperial Guard - Imperial Knights - Space Marines|
|Officio Assassinorum - Inquisition - Deathwatch - Grey Knights - Sisters of Battle|
|Sisters of Silence - Squats - Militarum Tempestus|
|Chaos:||Chaos Daemons - Chaos Space Marines - Lost and the Damned - Renegade Knights|
|Xenos:||Dark Eldar - Eldar - Eldar Corsairs - Harlequins - Ynnari|
|Genestealer Cults - Tyranids|
|Necrons - Orks - Tau|