Nurgle, also known as the Plague Lord, is the Chaos God of Disease, Decay, and Destruction. In particular, the emotion of despair in mortals empowers him. He is known also as Grandfather Nurgle, the Lord of Pestilence and the Lord of Decay. He is the oldest of the four Chaos Gods and is the most directly involved with the plights of mortals, particularly humans who suffer so acutely from a fear of death, perhaps the oldest fear of that species. While Nurgle is the God of death and decay, to be certain, he is also the God of rebirth. After all, decay is simply one part of the cycle of life, without which no new life could grow. In the same way, Nurgle is also the God of perseverance and survival. While those who wish to spread decay and corruption are certainly amongst his followers, there are also those who wish to endure, to become tough enough to handle the difficulties and opportunities presented by an uncaring universe. Many of those affected by Nurgle’s poxes usually turn to him in order to escape the pain caused by sickness and disease.
Nurgle is the Great Lord of Decay and the Master of Plague and Pestilence. All things, no matter how solid and permanent they seem, are liable to eventual corruption and death. Even the process of creation is but the precursor to destruction and decay. The bastion of today is tomorrow’s ruin, the maiden of the morning is the crone of the night, and the hope of a moment is but the foundation of regret. Though he is the creator of every infection and epidemic to have ever swept the universe, Nurgle is not a morose purveyor of despair and gloom, but a vibrant god of life and laughter. In death, there is life. Upon the decay of the living untold numbers of bacteria, viruses, insects and other carrion-feeders thrive. All life feeds upon other life to exist, and from every plague grows new generations, stronger and more virile than those who came before. Regeneration comes from decay, just as hope springs from despair. The greatest inspiration comes in the darkest moments; in times of crisis mortals are truly tested and driven to excel.
To understand what might otherwise seem contradictory or even perverse in nature, one must first comprehend that which Nurgle embodies. On the one hand, he is the Lord of Decay, whose body is wracked with disease; on the other, he is full of unexpected energy and a desire to organise and enlighten. The citizens of the Imperium know full well that their lives will end one day and that many of their number will live with disease or other torments in the meantime, yet they drive this knowledge deep into the corners of their minds and bury it with dreams and ceaseless activity. Nurgle is the embodiment of that knowledge of mortality and the unconscious response of all sentient beings to the knowledge of their own ending. He is the hidden fear of disease and decay, the gnawing truth of mortality and the power of defiance that it generates.
Nurgle himself takes the form of a titanic flesh-hulk riddled with decay and pestilence. His gigantic carcass is bloated with corruption and exudes an overpowering stench that gnaws the mind. His skin is greenish, leathery and necrotic, its surface abundant with running sores, swelling boils and fruitful infestation. Nurgle’s gurgling and pulsating organs are rank with the excrement of decay, spilling and spurting through his rupture skin to hang like obscene fruit around his girth. From these organs burst swarms of tiny Nurglings that chew on Grandfather Nurgle’s rotting intestines and suck upon his bountiful, noxious juices.
Every single human being in the galaxy has been touched by Nurgle’s foetid hand at some point. Countless trillions are host to his malignant, invisible creations, which corrupt their physical forms and sow despair in their minds. Interpalenatary traffic ensures that contagious diseases are carried from world to world by the ignorant, the wilful and the strong. As Nurgle’s gifts multiply in full-blown pandemics, his power reaches a peak. Whole star systems — even whole sectors — are quarantined as plague runs rife across the stars. Proud civilisations wither away even as Grandfather Nurgle conjures obscene new life from their remains. Wherever there are plague pits and mass graves, the rotting splendour of Nurgle shines through.
Despite his consistent generosity, only an enlightened few truly embrace Nurgle’s greatness among men and aliens. Yet his worshippers exist in numbers enough to ensure his daemon servants access the material dimension wherever plague abounds. This is just as well, for of all the Chaos Gods, it is Nurgle who most appreciates the personal touch.
Nurgle’s sacred number is seven, his colours are those of rot and ruin, waste and vomit, mucus and pus. Nurgle also embodies the will of Mankind to struggle on no matter what opposes it, albeit perversely. Suffering, death, pain: human beings push these things from their minds and try to forget them by living in the moment in the hope that the future will be a better one. For this reason Nurgle, his daemons and mortal followers usually demonstrate a disturbing joy at the pestilence that he inflicts, seeing the plagues as gifts and the cries of their victims as gratitude for the strength to overcome the obstacles of a mortal life rather than agony. The Plague Lord is often referred to as “Grandfather Nurgle,” “Father Nurgle” or “Papa Nurgle” by his followers because of this hideous paternal stance. Nurgle’s sacred number is seven. He is represented by the colors of green and brown, generally the most putrid variations of each.
It has recently been uncovered by the Eldar Harlequins that Nurgle is in possession of the Eldar Goddess Isha (whom he rescued from Slaanesh’s imprisonment), and imprisoned her within his realm in the Warp. Nurgle utilises her for his experiments, creating new contagions and diseases to spread into the material universe. With her divine powers of healing, Isha quickly regenerates from these tests, although Nurgle gleans what information is desired from the temporary effects. It is said that, secretly, she whispers the cures to those diseases to the mortals of the universe.