As a result of the zombie mania that has gripped popular culture in the last decade, Games Workshop and Black Library returned some focus on them in an attempt to cash in with some of that sweet zombie loving. Now we can all enact our own Resident Evil and The Walking Dead scenarios, except replacing helpless ladies and panicking rednecks with hardened SPESS MEHREENS and Bolter Babes screaming for more fire for PURGING THE UNCLEAN!
Ok, heck it will be more realistic to have Imperial Guard then as the defenders... but even they are a hundred time tougher than a regular zombie horde survivor. And probably way better armed (lasguns make flesh explode after all...no need to aim for the head). BL even made a campaign book of sorts in just such a fashion called Hive of the Dead
Or turn the tables and crush the zombies under superior numbers of Tyranids or Orks and show that yours is the superior infestation.
Or meet their kind of undead with your disease-proof, unfeeling Necrons. For extra fun, use Flayed Ones who will tear the zombies apart to wear them as a hat.
The Zombie Plague
That rascal Typhus decided that it wasn't enough to spread disease and filth. No, he thought that Nurgle's worlds were a bit too quiet so what was needed was to get a lot of people together for a bunch of parties. Spreading a delightful plague to a lot of harmless worlds in the run up to the 13th Black Crusade and then during it, Typhus created a whole load of nurglite zombie worlds, where the plague dead rose up and fell on the horrified defenders.
The Black Legion supplement later revealed that plague was in fact made by Mortarion himself, using the Hand of Darkness (one of the artifacts Abaddon used to take over the Blackstone Fortresses in the Gothic War), and Typhus was appointed by him as a herald of this new ultimate plague, tasked with spreading it and leading zombie armies against living survivors, hence why Inquisition decided he was the one responsible for its creation as well.
Such was the dire threat possessed by this that the Inquisition founded a new minor Ordo to study and combat the plagues unleashed by the 13th Black Crusade, and the Zombie Plague in particular, the Ordo Sepulturum. I hope they don't end up with radical inquisitors who want to use the zombies for their own ends...
There are also zombies that besieged Vraks, which were unrelated to Typhus directly. The trench warfare and piles of the dead littering the ground made the battlefields an easy target for Nurgle sorcerers looking to bolster their numbers.
The Fydae Strain and the Vile Savants
A polar opposite of The Zombie Plague created by Mortarion is the Fydae Strain, which is accompanied by the daemonic entities called the Vile Savants. It is literally a Daemonic virus, rumored to have been spawned when a hospital ship suffered a Gellar Field failure. Unlike the Typhus Zombie Plague the Fydae Strain doesn't need an infection vector based in the material realm. They simply home in on the bitterness, despair, and hopelessness being felt by a potential victim. The victim is nearly always a latent psyker, but if the barriers are thin enough any poor sod will do.
Once the disease hits the Daemonic plague will infect Patient Zero and cause an intense fever filled with nightmarish visions that lasts one hour. After that, Zero does not suffer from any further effects, and in fact will be perfectly healthy for the rest of his life. As Zero returns to work, he infects everyone around him with the disease completely unaware of what he's doing. This is in fact part of Nurgle's "beneficence", as Patient Zero will show no sign of his blessings but still be condemned to see everything he loves rot away in front of him - all the better to encourage his despair until he finally breaks down and accepts Nurgle into what's left of his soul.
The most dangerous thing about the Fydae Strain is that the disease is sentient. It knows what it's doing, observes it's surroundings, and reacts accordingly. It can choose to act dormant, vary incubation and periods of illness, and even speed up or slow down reanimation depending on whether or not it thinks it's in danger of discovery. This means that areas previously thought to be safe can suddenly blossom with plague victims and undead in a matter of minutes as the daemon-virus seeks to cause as much damage as it can before it's eradicated. Basically it's the human player from Pandemic, except that there is no Madagascar in space so humanity is screwed.
As the Fydae Strain is daemonic in nature they do not spread just through physical contact, but can jump from mind to mind as well. This is a very effective and terrifying way to bypass physical obstacles such as walls, and often allows the disease to strike outside of quarantine zones. Another unfortunate fact of the daemonic disease is its extreme resilience to physical cures and methods, although it does mean the disease is weak against true faith and exorcisms.
Once the disease reaches critical mass and the undead swell into the millions, the Vile Savants manifest themselves in realspace. Taking the form of the hazmat suits they once wore as humans, now filled with flesh long since liquefied from decay and commanding the zombies to wipe out the living, they walk through quarantine zones to harvest the psychic anguish of their victims and sample any new contagions the outbreak may have spawned. Once their harvest is done, the Vile Savants return to the warp, letting the undead rot away in a matter of days and the remnants of the disease die out on it's own. There may be survivors, but the Vile Savants don't bother with them. After all, Nurgle does need witnesses to his generosity.
Nurgle has had a long standing thing of being able to raise the dead and some of the old fluff did mention it but it seems to have become a more center stage ability of his to raise his victims as his new worshipers and that is due to the current zombie trend in mainstream culture.
There are also plenty of other things capable of making their own Zombie Plague. Some xenos species and human sorcerers can reanimate the dead through warp craft, some lesser Daemons love doing it themselves by possessing corpses, and a few xenos species reanimate the dead through a parasitic method. All in all, plenty of ways to justify an outbreak.
At the end of the day GW is nothing if not on the ball for an opportunity to join in on a trend. Seeing how popular zombies have become and horrified their space themed game doesn't have them in good measure like their fantasy game, GW decided to change that. Now you too can have super killer zombies in space, and recreate all your favourite scenes. Why not make Alice from Resident Evil into a psycho Sister of Battle (or Sister of Battle equivalent of Kaldor Draigo)? The Sister Repentia models with the chainsaws strike me as a good start...
Identify the zombie near you!
It is not enough to merely see that someone is dead. You have to be able to spot all the little tell tale signs that they are truly...undead (I know, I know bad joke...). It is our good luck then the Imperium has provided this step by step guide to telling if you have a zombie on your hands!
(Disclaimer: the authors of this poster do not accept liable for the actions of individuals if skin disease victims are mistaken for zombies. The state of public health in the Imperium is of no concern when the Emperor's holy commands must be spread!)
Zombies in 8th Edition
In keeping with Nurgle's fondness for variation, many different strains of the Zombie Plague are confirmed to exist with a different set of symptoms for each, such as the Somnambuphage and the Spawnrot Fever. However, the main poster boys for the Plague Zombies now are the Poxwalkers, the victims of the strain dubbed the Walking Pox.
It's said that some Plague Zombies now act as incubators for Nurglings. When the zombie is killed, the Nurglings burst out like a fucked up piñata.
|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|