"You wished for union, in pursuit of power and glory. Now you have it. Vengeance comes for you."
- – The pair to their new initiate
Who says daemons can’t find love? Syll’Esske is the collective name for a Herald of Slaanesh and Daemon Prince pair. A synchronized union where neither being is greater or lesser than another. They are two halves of one glorious whole, and possibly the most wholesome relationship in AoS.
Once there was a cunning Herald of Slaanesh called Syll Lewdtongue (yes, that’s really her name). She did the usual Slaanesh gig of inspiring mortals to grandiose acts of depravity and indulgence, her ultimate goal being to create a glorious champion of Slaanesh to present before the Dark Prince himself. However what separated her from her kin was her tendency to grow emotionally attached to her chosen recipient, which earned her the ridicule of fellow Heralds. She ignored these jeers and eventually she found a new champion that would change her life forever.
Esske the Scarred was a proud but jaded warrior-slave in the gladiator pits of Slaanesh’s gardens. His origins are a mystery, apparently coming from neither the Mortal Realms nor The Old World (so as far as we're concerned he's confirmed as a former Blood Bowl player until stated otherwise). The leader of some tribal society, he willingly traversed the Realm of Chaos to swear fealty to the Dark Prince, only to be stuck in the Moebius loop that was the outer arenas of Slaanesh’s Palace. Then came Syll.
She saw magnificence in the warrior and offered her service as a patron. He proved to be a perfect host for Syll’s blessings, causing him to skyrocket in the arena’s leaderboard, much to the ire of the Herald’s many rivals. Syll was killed in her sleep and then banished from Slaanesh’s palace by her jealous peers, leaving both her and Esske out in the cold. While Esske continued his fighting, Syll made a deal with some daemonsmiths to regain her original form. As part of the deal, she was temporarily reborn as a fucking Soul Grinder and began an obsessive search to return to her sugar baby. She did find him, fighting off an invading Khorne army, and attacked him in her mindless rage. This was the ultimate joke of her rival daemonettes; if she won, she would come to her senses and despair at the death of her favorite mortal, and if she died, she would be stuck for all eternity in a cycle of endless debt to the Forge of Souls. Esske, realizing the true nature of the creature before him, laid down his weapons, for he would forsake his dream to earn the favor of Slaanesh if it meant he could not keep the only other being he ever truly connected with. As Esske’s lifeless body fell to the ground, Syll returned to her original form. Howling in anguish, she desperately returned his soul to his body and fed him her own blood to return him to life. Although it worked, it seemed that they were doomed to be killed by the encroaching Khornate host, as Syll had lost much of her power to resurrect her lover and Esske had lost his eyes from his battle wounds. Forced to work together to survive, Syll stood atop Esske’s shoulders to serve as his eyes. They hacked and whipped their way into Slaanesh’s chambers, forming a rag-tag army out of their fellow gladiators and daemons which they led to slay a trio of Bloodthirsters just before the Dark Prince’s throne.
Slaanesh applauded the efforts of the bloodied mortal and broken lesser daemon, especially since he could gloat to Khorne about how his invasion was thwarted by an outcast Herald and a blind mortal, and rewarded them with stronger bodies, new weapons, and ascension to Daemon Prince (for Esske). And in front of the Dark Prince, the two swore to fight at one another’s side in synchronized harmony. They were now Syll’Esske, the Vengeful Allegiance. And their first action after swearing the oath to each other was slaughtering the gossiping heralds that tried to tear them apart.
The Syll'Esskan Host
In the Mortal Realms, Syll'Esske is worshipped by Slaaneshi cults as a demigod that represents symbiosis between mortals and the daemonic, especially for the purposes of revenge. Thus, the host of Syll'Esske consists of both mortals and daemons, who join in hopes of obtaining a permanent pact with the other half. Hellstriders are a common sight in these forces, since the union between mortal rider and daemonic steed is exactly the kind of thing the symbiosis cults are into. Another common unit are Soul Grinders; since the Forge of Souls was not very pleased about Syll saving Esske's soul instead of giving it to them, they have made a deal to compensate that they will always bring a cohort of Slaaneshi Soul Grinders with them to war, with the addition that every sixth soul the Grinders collect do not count towards their personal debt.
While there is little information on the two in the 40k setting (aside from a mention of participating in Shalaxi Helbane's attack on the Ynnari), one can easily assume they could have a similar alliance with Daemonkin cults of the Chaos Space Marines, also based on the union of mortal and daemon (albeit through possession).
On The Tabletop
So lets start off with points, because since Syll'Esske is an amalgamation of a Herald of Slaanesh and a Daemon Prince, lets compare them. As of Chapter Approved 2019, a basic Herald is 50 points and a Daemon Prince without wings and an axe (since Syll'Esske has an axe) is 156 points, for a combined total of 206 points and two HQ slots. Syll'Esske is a straight 210. Four extra points for a whole lot of goodness.
Now for their stat line, Syll'Esske has 9" movement (pretty alright given they don't have wings and are Slaaneshi), with 2+ weapons and ballistic skills (standard for DP's), S 4 (don't worry it's not that bad), T 6 (again, standard for DP), an ungodly 8 attacks (although at max a Daemon Prince of Khorne with duel Malefic Talons can make 8 as well, 9 with Hateful Assault, but hey, this is better), 9 Leadership (not like that matters) and a 4+.
Syll'Esske has the following weapons:
Axe of Dominion: S+3, AP-3 and D3. That's it, so S7 attacks, pretty nice
Scourging Whip (melee): Suser AP-1, D1. Every attack you make you does d3 additional attacks instead. So if you're super lucky you can make a total of 24 shots
Scourging Whip (ranged): Range 6", Assault d6, Suser, AP-2, D1. Standard whip profile, basically a 6" pistol that has the assault keyword
Now onto the cool shit, Syll'Esske's abilities
They have Daemonic (5++), Quicksilver Swiftness (fight first in the fight phase except for charged units) and Daemonic Ritual (summon daemons). Standard Slaanesh daemon abilities.
Prince of Slaanesh: reroll hit rolls of 1 for Slaanesh models w/in 6". Standard for Daemon Princes
Regal Authority: re-roll morale tests for Slaanesh Daemons w/in 6". Standard for Heralds (wow what a shocker)
Locus of Slaanesh: Slaanesh Daemons w/in 6" gain 1+ to Strength (including himself). So that whip is actually S5 and the Axe is S8, goodbye tanks!
Now the last ability, Deadly Symbiosis: In the fight phase, you select only ONE melee weapon to attack with. Once a consolidation move is made, you can then make attacks equal to the model's attack characteristics (so 8, duh) with the other melee weapon this model has. So basically unless the tanks and infantry are right next to each other, like in the case of transports who just dropped off their payload, you're going to be doing overkill on some guardsmen or throwing a bunch of light taps on a Taurox. Pretty sweet ability but its max capabilities are kinda niche.
If they're your warlord, they gain the Bewitching Aura ability from the Slaanesh Warlord table, so -1 attacks (with a minimum of 1) to enemy attack characteristics w/in 6". Not bad considering the amount of attacks they can dish out.
ALSO Shoulda mentioned earlier that Syll'Esske is also a psyker. Cast two, deny one, knows smite and two powers from the Slaanesh Discipline. No surprise here, has the combined spell casting of a Herald and Prince, but only the denial of one.
Age of Sigmar
Syll'Esske in AoS at first seems weaker than in 40k. The buff aura now requires a Command Ability to activate instead of being a passive, they aren't as good at magic, they have less attacks, and can't use the whip in the shooting phase. Sounds bad, right? Wrong. The real reason you take Syll'Esske is because White Dwarf gives them their own subfaction, which gives out a few battalions that help you use Slaves to Darkness units in Hedonites and gives you a bunch of free command points for having an equal amount of Mortal and Daemon units, but most importantly it gives them an aura that double the amount of Depravity Points generated around them. Given that before their nerf, Hedonites of Slaanesh had the most powerful summoning in the game, this tells you how strong that ability is.
- Grumlok and Gazbag, an Orcs & Goblins pair who had the same concept.
- Vlad and Isabella, another surprisingly wholesome couple belonging to a dark faction.