Friday, 18 March 2016

Gshtaad The Abomination

Gshtaad The Abomination is a malevolent entity of the raw, magical dimension known as the Realm of Chaos.

Sometimes called the Warp, it is a dangerous, unpredictable and generally not very nice place. The most potent creatures residing there display godlike powers, leading mortals to refer to them collectively as the Chaos Pantheon

Exactly where Gshtaad fits into this Pantheon is a matter of some debate. To many he belongs in the lofty ranks of the lesser gods, but to others he is merely a daemon – albeit one with exceptional delusions of grandeur. Either way, most sane people agree that you wouldn't want to meet Gshtaad in a shadow-filled alleyway at night. Or, for that matter, even a brightly-lit street in the middle of the day.

Legend has it that Gshtaad is the offspring of two of the four major Chaos Powers: Khorne, the Blood God, and Nurgle, the Lord of Decay – though what unspeakable coupling that would have entailed is enough for even the stoutest warrior to bring a little bit of sick up in their mouth. Nonetheless Gshtaad represents the coming together of war and famine, the mingling of blood and disease and the aftermath of hard-fought battle.

His many enemies have been known to mockingly refer to him as the Lord of Rusty Blades, though some have pointed out there are much worse insults that could be levelled in his direction. His own devotees prefer to see Gshtaad as the herald of the inevitable, the giver of exquisite agony and the bringer of the dying gasp. Sadly for everyone else these often-brutal followers tend to enforce their opinions with a selection of sharp, pointy instruments and heavy, blunt objects.

In his name they also lay claim to tiny scuttling insects, with their clicking chitin and miniature toothed maws. Followers believe these critters to be harbingers of impending calamity, the daily manifestations of Gshtaad on the mortal plain. His will and desires made physical, silently reaching into every corner of every human settlement, biding their time, waiting to spread the hidden death they carry within. Likely as some kind of misplaced worshipful practise, many of Gshtaad's apostles have been seen with grotesquely magnified images of insects and spiders painted on their armour and shields.

Some Gshtaadic warbands have also been spotted using corrupted versions of sigils more commonly associated with Khorne and Nurgle. A disease ridden Khornate skull icon, or the Nurglish pustules wrought in blood-caked bronze. Familiar images with an unfamiliar twist. Icons that are already quite a long way from being pleasant, taken an extra few steps in the wrong direction.

Gshtaadic tribes tend to eschew any formal uniforms, instead favouring a variety of mixed garb in the colours of blood, bone, skin and decay. Their armour is equally assorted, often salvaged from vanquished foes, ranging from the most simple, utilitarian pieces, to truly ornate suits inlaid with precious materials. Occasionally armour will be exceptionally well-maintained, though it is far more common for Gshtaad's followers to allow their plate to fall to rust, verdigris and general disrepair. This could be the influence of Grandfather Nurgle, but is equally likely to be good, old-fashioned laziness.

In battle, raiding parties of Gshtaad's warriors are sometimes noted to attack in silence. Behaviour more commonly associated with assassins than the ferocious warmongers they really are. A silent tide of death flowing over their enemies. An act that, during the stress and exertions of hand-to-hand combat, requires great feats of willpower to achieve. Though likely assisted, if the rumours are true, by individual warriors sowing their own lips shut before battle. That is, if they still have lips to sow.

The silence, the scarred and closed-up faces, the dilapidated and decayed appearance of their weapons and armour, the enlarged images of insects, all are dehumanising tactics that have been seen to pay dividends time and again through the paralysing fear they can instill in an unexpectant foe. Often the only survivors of an attack by Gshtaad's disciples are deranged souls left wandering the wastes, vainly trying, in what's left of their mind, to make sense of the atrocities they've witnessed. But there is no sense to find, for what is Chaos if not its very absence?

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